Why I Got Sick. . . and Healed by Anita Moorjani
All the passages below are taken from Anita Moorjani’s book, “Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing.” It was published in 2012.
During my NDE, I experienced so much clarity that the question I get asked most frequently when sharing my story is: So, what caused your cancer? It’s pretty understandable that most people are really interested in the answer!
But before I discuss this, I just want to put in a word of caution regarding the dangers inherent in this topic. One of the hazards is that what I say can come across sounding as though those who don’t recover or those who still have cancer and other illnesses are in some way “less than” those who have healed. This is just not true!
It can also be frustrating if what I say sounds too simplistic, especially when you or someone you know is suffering. This is one of the first problems with language-—sometimes words can cause more harm than good. I want to emphasize that anyone who still has cancer or who didn’t heal is a completely magnificent person. The reasons for their illness lie in their personal journey and are probably related to their individual purpose. I can now see that my disease was part of why I’m here, and whether I chose to live or die, I wouldn’t be any less magnificent.
I know there will be some who disagree with what I say about healing, which is perfectly fine. I’m only expressing what I felt happened within me at that time, in the hope that my words may help someone else.
AS I SAID, THE MOST FREQUENT QUESTION people ask me is why I think I got cancer. I can sum up the answer in one word: fear.
What was I afraid of? Just about everything, including failing, being disliked, letting people down, and not being good enough. I also feared illness, cancer in particular, as well as the treatment for cancer. I was afraid of living, and I was terrified of dying.
Fear is very subtle, and it can creep up gradually without our even noticing it. Looking back, I see that most of us are taught from a very young age to be afraid, although I don’t believe we’re born this way.
One of the things I believe is that we already are what we spend our lives trying to attain, but we just don’t realize it! We come into this life knowing our magnificence. I don’t know why, but the world seems to erode it as we start to grow up.
This starts subtly at first, with little anxieties such as not being liked or not being good enough, perhaps because we look different from our peers-—maybe we’re of another race, too tall, too short, too fat, or too thin. We want so much to fit in. I don’t recall ever being encouraged to be who I really was or to be true to myself, nor was I assured that it’s okay to be different. All I remember is that little niggling voice of disapproval that I continually heard in the back of my head.
I was a people pleaser and feared disapproval, regardless of the source. I bent over backward to avoid people thinking ill of me; and over the years, I lost myself in the process. I was completely disconnected from who I was or what I wanted, because everything I did was designed to win approval-—everyone’s except my own. In fact, in the years leading up to my cancer, if anyone had asked me what I wanted in life, I would have had to say that I really didn’t know. I was so wrapped up in cultural expectations, trying to be the person I was expected to be, that I really didn’t know what was important to me.
After my best friend, Soni, and Danny’s brother-in-law were both diagnosed with cancer, I started to develop a deep fear of the disease. I felt that if it could strike them, it could strike anyone, so I began to do everything I could to keep from getting sick. However, the more I read about prevention, the more I felt I had reason to be afraid. It seemed to me that everything caused cancer. I read about how pathogens in the environment and food were carcinogenic. Microwaves, using plastic containers for food, eating anything with preservatives, using mobile phones-—they all seemed to cause cancer. The list just went on and on.
Not only was I afraid of the disease itself, I was also afraid of the treatment-—chemotherapy. As I described, Soni died while on chemo, and this just exacerbated my fears.
Slowly, I found myself terrified of both dying and living. It was almost as if I were being caged by my fears. My experience of life was getting smaller and smaller, because to me, the world was a menacing place. And then I was diagnosed with cancer.
EVEN THOUGH I SEEMED TO BE FIGHTING MY DISEASE, I believed that cancer was a death sentence. I went through the motions of doing everything I could, but in the back of my mind, I still believed that I wasn’t going to make it. And I was very, very scared of death.
The fact that researchers continually said they were “trying to find a cure for cancer” suggested to me that there was no known solution. This seemed to be an accepted fact, at least in the conventional medical world. Being told that conventional medicine was the only option, even though that discipline admitted it had no cure, was enough to send a deep feeling of dread right through to my core. The word cancer in itself was enough to cause fear, and knowing the scientific shortcomings just endorsed the feeling that I was going to die.
I still tried to do everything I possibly could, but the illness seemed to be progressing and getting worse. Although most people I knew advised me against it, I opted for alternative healing because I felt that with conventional therapy, I was doomed from the start. Instead, I took up every other modality I knew of, and as I mentioned earlier, I quit my job and devoted four years to this process.
I tried faith healing, praying, meditation, and energy-healing sessions. I read every book I could get my hands on about cancer, learning every possible connotation given to the disease. I worked on forgiveness therapy, and forgave everyone I knew-—then forgave them again. I traveled through India and China, meeting Buddhist monks, Indian yogis, and enlightened masters, hoping that they’d help me find answers that would lead to healing. I tried being vegan, meditating on mountaintops, yoga, ayurveda, chakra balancing, Chinese herbal medicine, pranic healing, and Chi Gong.
But despite all this, my cancer just kept getting worse. My mind was in a total state of confusion as I continued to lose myself further and further in different healing modalities, trying everything just to stay alive while my health continued to deteriorate. As I described earlier, my body eventually stopped absorbing nutrients, and my muscles wasted away until I couldn’t walk anymore. The wheelchair became my only form of mobility. My head hung from my neck like an oversized bowling ball, and I couldn’t breathe without the portable oxygen tank that never left my side. When I slept, my husband stayed awake all night just to make sure I was still breathing. My mother helped look after me because I couldn’t take care of myself. It was very difficult for all of us, and I could feel their pain in addition to my own.
I can’t even begin to describe the intensity of the terror I was experiencing day after day, as my body continued to deteriorate. I was hanging onto life by my fingernails. I attended spiritual-healing groups and even was told that this was my choice. I also heard that the world is an illusion.
I became more frustrated and scared, wondering: Why would I choose this? How do I choose differently? If this is an illusion, why does it feel so real? If God listens to all prayers, why isn’t He listening to mine? I’d been trying so hard to do all the forgiving, cleansing, healing, praying, and meditating that I could. I just couldn’t understand why this was happening to me.
But when it finally became too difficult to hang on anymore, I let go. There was a total internal release. After cancer ravaging my body for more than four years, I was simply too weak to hold on…so I surrendered. I was tired. I knew the next step would be death, and I’d finally reached the point where I welcomed it. Anything had to be better than this.
That’s when I went into the coma and my organs started to shut down. I knew nothing could be worse than what my family and I were going through. And so I began plunging toward death.
THE REALM I EXPERIENCED WHEN MY BODY shut down allowed me to see my own magnificence, undistorted by fear. I became aware of the greater power I had access to.
When I relinquished my hold on physical life, I didn’t feel I needed to do anything in particular to enter the other realm, such as pray, chant, use mantras, forgiveness, or any other technique. Moving on was closer to doing absolutely nothing. It seemed more like saying to no one in particular: “Okay, I have nothing more to give. I surrender. Take me. Do what you will with me. Have your way.”
While I was in that state of clarity in the other realm, I instinctively understood that I was dying because of all my fears. I wasn’t expressing my true self because my worries were preventing me from doing so. I understood that the cancer wasn’t a punishment or anything like that. It was just my own energy, manifesting as cancer because my fears weren’t allowing me to express myself as the magnificent force I was meant to be.
In that expansive state, I realized how harshly I’d treated myself and judged myself throughout my life. There was nobody punishing me. I finally understood that it was me I hadn’t forgiven, not other people. I was the one who was judging me, whom I’d forsaken, and whom I didn’t love enough. It had nothing to do with anyone else. I saw myself as a beautiful child of the universe. Just the fact that I existed made me deserving of unconditional love. I realized that I didn’t need to do anything to deserve this-—not pray, nor beg, nor anything else. I saw that I’d never loved myself, valued myself, or seen the beauty of my own soul. Although the unconditional magnificence was always there for me, it felt as though physical life had somehow filtered it out or even eroded it away.
This understanding made me realize that I no longer had anything to fear. I saw what I-—what all of us-—have access to. And so I made one powerful choice: to come back. That decision, made from that awakened state, was the single most powerful driving force in my return. Once I woke up again in my body, I knew that every single cell would respond to the decision to come back, so I knew I was going to be fine.
Back in my physical self in the hospital, I understood that everything after that-—all the tests, biopsies, and drugs-—was being done to satisfy everyone around me. Although a lot of it was extremely painful, I knew that I’d be fine. My magnificent, infinite self had decided to continue to live and express through this body, so nothing in this world could affect the decision.
I WANT TO CLARIFY THAT MY HEALING wasn’t so much born from a shift in my state of mind or beliefs as it was from finally allowing my true spirit to shine through. Many have asked me if something like positive thinking caused my recovery, and the answer is no. The state I was in during my NDE was way beyond the mind, and I healed because my damaging thoughts were simply out of the way completely. I was not in a state of thinking, but a state of being. It was pure consciousness-—what I call magnificence! This state of Oneness transcends duality. I was able to get in touch with who I truly am, the part of me that’s eternal, infinite, and encompasses the Whole. This definitely wasn’t a case of mind over matter.
I don’t advocate that if we “believe” a certain way, we’ll eliminate disease or create an ideal life. That can sometimes be too simplistic. Instead, I’m more focused on self-awareness, which is different. Becoming entrenched in beliefs that no longer serve us can keep us locked in a state of duality and put us in a constant state of judgment. What we endorse is considered “good” or “positive,” and what we don’t believe in is not.
This also puts us in the position of needing to defend our beliefs when others don’t agree. And when we invest too much of our energy in defense, we become reluctant to let go, even when ideas no longer serve us. That’s when our beliefs start to own us instead of the other way around.
Having awareness, on the other hand, just means realizing what exists and what’s possible-—without judgment. Awareness doesn’t need defending. It expands with growth and can be all-encompassing, bringing us closer to the state of Oneness. This is where miracles take place. In contrast, beliefs only allow what we deem credible while keeping out everything else.
So no, it wasn’t my beliefs that caused me to heal. My NDE was a state of pure awareness, which is a state of complete suspension of all previously held doctrine and dogma. This allowed my body to “reset” itself. In other words, an absence of belief was required for my healing.
In the moment that I completely let go of my strong desire to stay alive, I experienced death. And in dying, I realized that it wasn’t my time. When I was willing to let go of what I wanted, I received what was truly mine. I’ve realized that the latter is always the greater gift.
Since my NDE, I’ve learned that strongly held ideologies actually work against me. Needing to operate out of concrete beliefs limits my experiences because it keeps me within the realm of only what I know-—and my knowledge is limited. And if I restrict myself to only what I’m able to conceive, I’m holding back my potential and what I allow into my life. However, if I can accept that my understanding is incomplete, and if I’m able to be comfortable with uncertainty, this opens me up to the realm of infinite possibilities.
I’ve found that subsequent to my NDE, I’m at my strongest when I’m able to let go, when I suspend my beliefs as well as disbeliefs, and leave myself open to all possibilities. That also seems to be when I’m able to experience the most internal clarity and synchronicities. My sense is that the very act of needing certainty is a hindrance to experiencing greater levels of awareness. In contrast, the process of letting go and releasing all attachment to any belief or outcome is cathartic and healing. The dichotomy is that for true healing to occur, I must let go of the need to be healed and just enjoy and trust in the ride that is life.
It was important for me to become aware that I’m far more than my biology, that I’m something infinitely greater. And again, I’d like to reiterate that illnesses are not our fault! Thinking that they are can be frustrating to anyone who’s sick. But I am saying that our biology responds to our awareness; our children, animals, and surroundings do, too. Our consciousness can change the conditions of the planet in a much larger way than we realize. This is because we’re all connected-—I can’t say this often enough!
To me, the first step to conscious awareness is understanding how nature intended things to be. It means being aware of our bodies and our surroundings and being able to respect the essence of things without needing them to be different-—and this includes ourselves. We must understand the magnificence of how the universe intended us to be without needing to change. I don’t have to try to live up to other people’s expectations of perfection and then feel inadequate when I fail miserably.
I’m at my most powerful when I allow myself to be who life intended me to be-—which is why my healing occurred only when all conscious action on my part had completely ceased and the life force took over. In other words, I’m at my most powerful when I am working with life rather than against it.
IT’S ALL VERY WELL FOR ME TO TALK ABOUT HEALING after I’ve experienced it, or for me to tell you to just trust and let go, letting the flow of life take over; but when you’re going through a really low period, it’s difficult to do—-or even to know where to begin. However, I think the answer is simpler than it seems, and it’s one of the best-kept secrets of our time: the importance of self-love. You may frown or cringe at the thought, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to cultivate a deep love affair with yourself.
I don’t recall ever being encouraged to cherish myself-—in fact, it would never even have occurred to me to do so. It’s commonly thought of as being selfish. But my NDE allowed me to realize that this was the key to my healing.
In the tapestry of life, we’re all connected. Each one of us is a gift to those around us, helping each other be who we are, weaving a perfect picture together. When I was in the NDE state, it all became so clear to me because I understood that to be me is to be love. This is the lesson that saved my life.
Many of us still believe that we have to work at being loving, but that means living in duality, because there’s a giver and a receiver. Realizing that we are love transcends this. It means understanding that there’s no separation between you and me, and if I’m aware that I am love, then I know that you are, too. If I care for myself, then I automatically feel the same for you!
In my NDE state, I realized that the entire universe is composed of unconditional love, and I’m an expression of this. Every atom, molecule, quark, and tetraquark, is made of love. I can be nothing else, because this is my essence and the nature of the entire universe. Even things that seem negative are all part of the infinite, unconditional spectrum of love. In fact, Universal life-force energy is love, and I’m composed of Universal energy! Realizing this made me understand that I didn’t have to try to become someone else in order to be worthy. I already am all that I could attempt to be.
Similarly, when we know that we are love, we don’t need to work at being loving toward others. Instead, we just have to be true to ourselves, and we become instruments of loving energy, which touches everyone we come into contact with.
Being love also means being aware of the importance of nurturing my own soul, taking care of my own needs, and not putting myself last all the time. This allows me to be true to myself at all times and to treat myself with total respect and kindness. It also lets me view what may be interpreted as imperfections and mistakes with no judgment, seeing only opportunities to experience and to learn with unconditional love.
PEOPLE ASK ME WHETHER THERE’S SUCH A THING as too much self-love. Where’s the line, they ask, where it starts to become selfish or egotistical? To me, there’s no such possibility. There is no line. Selfishness comes from lack of self-love. Our planet is suffering from this, as we humans are, along with too much insecurity, judgment, and conditioning. In order to truly care for someone unconditionally, I have to feel that way toward myself. I can’t give away what I don’t have. To say that I hold another in higher regard than myself isn’t real and means I’m only performing.
When I’m being love, I don’t get drained, and I don’t need people to behave a certain way in order to feel cared for or to share my magnificence with them. They’re automatically getting my love as a result of me being my true self. And when I am nonjudgmental of myself, I feel that way toward others.
In light of this, I’ve learned that it’s important not to be too hard on myself if I’m experiencing challenges. Oftentimes, the problem isn’t the cause of the apparent conflict. Instead, it’s the judgment I have for myself. When I stop being my own worst enemy and start loving myself more, I automatically have less and less friction with the world around me. I become more tolerant and accepting.
When we’re each aware of our own magnificence, we don’t feel the need to control others, and we won’t allow ourselves to be controlled. When I awoke into my infinite self, I was amazed to understand that my life could be dramatically different just by realizing that I am love, and I always have been. I don’t have to do anything to deserve it. Understanding this means that I’m working with life-force energy, whereas performing at being loving is working against it.
Realizing that I am love was the most important lesson I learned, allowing me to release all fear, and that’s the key that saved my life. [131-140]