I recently saw a video of Eckhart Tolle teaching at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. One of the stories he shared was of another teacher, Byron Katie, who was visiting some patients in a cancer ward. She stopped in a chatted with a very depressed woman who had a massive tumor on one of her legs. The prognosis wasn’t good; she was probably going to die.
Byron Katie asked her why she was so depressed and said, "I don’t see what the problem is."
Needless to say, that angered and depressed the patient even more. "Here," she said, throwing off the sheet, "Look! My right thigh is twice the size of my left!"
"Oh, " Byron Katie said, "Now I understand. The problem is that you think that your right thigh should be the same size as your left!"
And for the first time in months, the woman with the cancer laughed.
Isn’t it interesting how insignificant most problems shrink when viewed in just the light of the present moment without that odd imaging we call the "future?"
9 thoughts on “You think that…”
“Isn?t it interesting how insignificant most problems shrink when viewed in just the light of the present moment without that odd imaging we call the ‘future?'”
Yes, it is interesting. It’s also easy to do that with “small things” but must be a bit more of a challenge in light of something as “severe” as an “impending death.” Of course me even saying that means I don’t totally get it.
Yeah, part of me still thinks “callous bitch” when I read that story. And yet…
If there’s nothing you can do… Don’t worry, be happy!
Byron Katie’s comment seems to deal with the disconnect between our expectations (reasonable as they may be) and the reality experienced – and the pain/anguish/suffering caused by having a hard time letting the expectation and reality coexist.
Oh, and without understanding the context I can’t possibly say if that was an appropriate comment or if a little humor was just the thing this patient needed.
Julie, you’re exactly right and that hard time letting the reality and the expectations coexist.
At any given moment, almost all of us are “OK” even if that OK-ness includes cancer, etc. It’s a problem only if a future is projected. Now, it’s OK. I might have cancer, but I’m still breathing… life at just this moment, is OK.
Katie was combining humor with real insight about the problem of depression… the expectations not the cancer caused the depression.
My remark about it seeming callous is just that I would NOT have the nerve to say such a thing.
“At any given moment, almost all of us are ?OK? even if that OK-ness includes cancer, etc. It?s a problem only if a future is projected. Now, it?s OK. I might have cancer, but I?m still breathing? life at just this moment, is OK.”
They say we have about a 100% chance of not making it outta here alive. Still, try living with that… Ha! I know I don’t, day to day, realize the whole truth of the fact that one day, all is not going to be OK. I’m not experienced enough in not being OK- so far, I’ve lived a pretty charmed life.
Yeah- it’s when we begin judging the experience that things unravel. I mean, who know how one will experience something until one does.
They call it Grace… that moving out of experiencing something directly to seeing the experience for something other than what it may be. Not that we are called to name the experience… perhaps simply rest in it.
Anyway… I most always full of something other than grace, or so my wife tells me… so, what do I know.
Great post Jon.
I wanted to attend Katie’s LWI school, but couldn’t swing the whole cost, so applied for a partial scholarship. Got a letter in the mail about how excited that were that I’d be attending the school, and that I’d be paying the balance off at $100/month, and I’d need to supply a credit/debit card number. !?!?!?!
My first thought was –
I have to go into debt to become free? And I laughed.
Did ‘the work’ on ‘I need to attend the school. Is that true?’ Realized it wasn’t.
Recalled Katie says; “Want to know what someone REALLY thinks of you? When they ask for something they really want, tell them ‘no.'”
I was told ‘no’ and after doing the work on it, reached the turnaround. I was so happy they’d turned down my scholarship, I sent the scholarship committee a box of chocolates. hahaha
It’s all perfect
Great story, Mary! Thanks for sharing.
I have been examining the things in my life that I have not fully accepted, and this old post that you wrote Jon, lingers with me and has been helpful. It engenders compassion in me, for it is only human in that situation to want one’s legs to be the same. But if one is looking to rest in awareness or follow God’s will, then staying compassionately present with a swollen leg, fears of death, and the myriad uncomfortable sensations and emotions that arise, offers a path of kindness and relief that one may settle into. It reminds me to feel compassion for myself and those difficult situations that I am delving into, with the hope of coming to deeper acceptance.
I write about the kindness and humility of presence, and am looking to connect with other websites and writers who share a similar resonance. It’s been hard for me to find websites that I like, so even though much of your site is from a long time ago, I am grateful to have stumbled upon it. I find much that I appreciate here. Wishing you all the best during these challenging times.