Don Alejandro

This week and next week will determine the future course of my treatment. The Shipley protocol calls for another TUR around May 6, to determine if there is any cancer in my bladder. The question for Dr. Neuwirth is, “Is my bladder free of cancer?” If the answer is no, then I am to proceed with more chemotherapy and radiation. This phase is known as “consolidation CFI,” where CFI stands for cis-platin, 5FU, and irradiation. If the answer is not no, then Dr. Neuwirth will probably recommend “radical cystectomy,” which I want to avoid.

To help me cope with such a decision, I went to see a Peruvian shaman by the name of Don Alejandro this morning. The session took place in Sebastopol, about 50 miles north of Sausalito. I had in interpreter who translated Don Alejandro’s Spanish into English for me on the fly – as he was speaking. This was a little confusing at first, but I eventually got used to it. I asked him the question on the list in appendix 4.

In the session, Don Alejandro told me that my disease was hereditary. Then I explained to him how my sister died of Leukemia, my mother of an osteosarcoma, my dad of bladder cancer, and how my son survived kidney cancer. Don Alejandro recommended that I continue with the chemotherapy and radiation, if that was required. He felt for sure that I would be cured of cancer, but that it may be a slow process. He said that there would probably be more than one looking into my bladder for cancer. He gave me advice on what to eat: no cold drinks, no red meat, fish in small quantities, and no sea food (my favorite). I should eat steamed or raw vegetables to make up the calories that I need to take in. Cold drinks cause the digestive system to clam up and can cause inflammation in the bladder. I don’t quite understand this, but maybe Michael Broffman can explain it to me. He suggested I take cat’s claw, which I already knew about. I’ll also check this out with Michael Broffman.

He said that I should maintain peace of mind and let all of my problems go. He asked me if I followed any religion, and I naturally told him that I followed Buddhism. He didn’t make a comment about this, but I’m sure it figured into the psychic equation.

Prior to doing his psychic healing, Don Alejandro had me drink a herbal beverage that was quite bitter. I was expecting apple juice! Then I laid down on the bed and he proceeded to heal me according to his methods. He first explored my bladder with his hands and then began a chant in a strange language that could have been mistaken for Hebrew. The chant lasted about five minutes and was very soothing. I noticed that he was sitting with his hands in the prayer position while chanting.

The next thing I knew was that he was laying his hands on my bladder area. After a while, I got the idea to open psychically to him, and I felt him penetrate my defenses. I found myself smiling during the process, and furthermore, I maintained a focus on my breathing with “healthy… free…” Some of his manipulations of my bladder area began to hurt, and I tightened up a bit. Then I realized that this was part of the healing process and I relaxed into it. His work proceeded without further hindrance from me, and soon it was over. He pronounced the healing complete, and, at the same time, ended the session.

I left Sebastopol almost immediately, as I felt that I needed time to integrate what he said and what he did. We came straight home and I did a “mind story” about the healing. My feeling now is that he did major good and I would definitely see him again. By the way, the tape recorder was on “pause,” so I didn’t get any of the conversation. However, the essence of the treatment was the healing, not the words.

In a way, I am now better prepared for a bad answer from Dr. Neuwirth, because Don Alejandro had said that I may have to have my bladder looked into more than once. I’m not sure if he was seeing the follow-up cystoscopic exams, or another TURBT.

In the afternoon, I went to see Dr. Neuwirth, who was quite pleased with how I looked. However, he did not examine me and his scheduler made a point of my having a physical exam with Dr. Belknap before the surgery next week on May 8. He did say that he was willing to have Julie Motz in the operating room with him. He even mentioned that she was in the operating room with a friend of his last week.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Julie Motz, I’ll give you a little run down of what I know from reading the Pacific Sun article from April 23, to April 29, 1997. The article basically states that Julie enters the operating room with the surgeon and does laying on of the hands healing during the surgery. She is the first to use energy healing in the operating room. She works primarily with cancer and heart disease patients. She is giving a lecture at Marin General Hospital on May 8 at 7:00 P. M. I’m trying to use my connection with Leslie Davenport to get to speak with Julie Motz about visiting me during my surgery next week.

Julie Motz called me a little later and said that she would love to work with me, but she can’t do it on May 8. I’m now trying to reschedule my surgery for May 9 to have her there and participate in my healing experience. Maybe I can even get her to write a preface to Yellow Stream!

In the evening, I attended Anna Halprin‘s class. As Anna was receiving an award from her piers, the class was taught by Jordy. She taught a class before, and this one was quite good. The theme of the evening was getting in touch with parts of our bodies that were free and not so free. I identified my knees as being not so free and my buttocks as free. We expressed these parts through writing, movement, working in pairs, and drawing. I drew the above picture. Click on the picture to get a full size version. Then click here to get a rotated version. Quite by accident, the picture works from both orientations. In the first, we see two people lying in the grass with a blue sky above them. In the second, the people are still lying in the grass, but now they are by a lake and the sun is reflecting in the lake. On the back of the picture I wrote,

“Life is made up of free and non-free elements. Aren’t we lucky that there is no permanent self to carry foreword after this life is over? We are free to live our life as we want and discover how to integrate free and non-free elements.”


Call from an Old Friend

This morning, I received a call from an old friend, Rabbi Zalman Schachter, who is now on the faculty at the Narpoa Institute. He called me because of an email that he received from Sylvia Boorstein. Zalman was quick to wish me well in my recovery, and his demeanor was full of loving kindness. I really appreciated hearing from him at this time.

Later in the day, I helped my daughter with her school project on “Zen Buddhism – It’s Beliefs and Effect on Society.” I really enjoyed reading the material with her and helping her understand the concepts of Buddhism, in general, and Zen Buddhism in particular. The quote which really got to me this time through was,

“This earth on which we stand, is the promised Lotus land,
And this very body is the body of the Buddha.”

Bhagwan spoke quite often on this subject, and I feel connected to the spirit of the quote.


Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

April 15, 1997 – Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

My wife and I met Sylvia Boorstein at the Good Earth at 9:00 in the morning. We had such a delightful time speaking with her about everything from dharma to family drama. She is obviously a wonderful and caring person who is enjoying a happy life between Buddhism and Judaism. We talked about our favorite prayers in the synagogue and it turns out that the service for replacing the torah is both of our favorites. It talks about the torah being, “a tree of life and everyone that upholds it is happy!”

I spoke to her about my practice and she thought that it was wonderful to have “healing… free” as a meta-program throughout my breathing. I wanted to speak more to her about my practice, but the time seemed to fly by. At one point, she said, “We must learn to cultivate boundless love rather than just adhere to a structure.” We were talking about the practices of the orthodox who seem to follow the structure more than their hearts. Later, she said, “It’s not in the liturgy, it’s in the heart!” She told me about Elat Chayyim in upstate New York, which is supposed to be like a Jewish Eselan. It’s funny, but I don’t have any desire to go there. I’m sure I’ll see her again quite soon.

My massage was cancelled, so I worked in Leslie Davenport’s office until our appointment at 1:00. We worked on the financial issues in my life, which was very appropriate for what had been happening over the week end. I had images of my grandfather on my mother’s side, who seemed to be the most generous person in the family. After all, he was in his eighties and well taken care of by my mother and my uncle, Sam Sandmel, the Reformed Rabbi and publisher of many books on Jews and Jesus. But my money problems seem to go deeper into my childhood and relate to matters about feeling unworthy and rejected. There is still a lot of work to do about this area, and I plan to continue until it is resolved. One thing that Leslie said at the end of the session was that I should really focus on things that I can change in my life and let go of things that I have no control over. I thought this was appropriate advice at the time, and I’ve heard it many times before.

The most significant thing that happened in the session was just before the end. I could feel the waves of sadness starting to overcome me, even though I was still focused on my breathing, doing, “healing… free”. The feelings came, got very intense, and then started to melt away, all under the eyes of mindfulness. I experienced the impermanence of the rise and fall of the sad feelings in a way that had never touched me so deeply before. This is, according to my understanding, the text book practice of vipassana meditation.

My session with Gail Teehan was wonderful once again. We worked on my back and pelvis, and I could feel the energy shifting, as she would go through the various steps of the lesson. We are developing a wonderful connection of mutual love and support as we continue to work together. Since she’s so fond of dance and art, I invited her to Anna’s class on April 28 to come as one of my support persons.

I came home thoroughly and totally exhausted, so I headed straight for a “mind story.” This time I settled into my breathing and was able put my worries out of my mind to get a clear picture of my bladder’s “healthy cells growing all by themselves!” I felt rested and much, much better at the end of the “mind story!”

At night, we went to a dinner party at S. and C.’s just two houses away. Ten of our best neighbors were gathered together for a very nice time.


When the Iron Bird Flies…

April 12, 1997 – When the Iron Bird Flies…

Last night, our neighbors visited us. J. G. told me that she was invited to a dinner with the Dalai Lama some time in June! She said that she would try to get me invited without having to pay the $500 per plate. I was thrilled at the prospect.

I spent the morning working and playing tennis with the guys at Eastwood Park. It was wonderful again! I felt welcome and played quite well under the circumstances.

During my afternoon meditation, it dawned on me that both Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama are exiles, from Viet Nam and Tibet, respectively. This reminded my of what Padmasambhava said in the eighth century,

“When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the world and the Dharma will come to the land of the Red Man!”

Alfred Toynbe has said that the most significant thing to happen in the 20th century is the coming of Buddhism to the West.

Tonight, we are going out for a special dinner and a concert with the Ying Quartet.


Seeds of Enlightenment

April 7, 1997 – Seeds of Enlightenment

This morning, I managed to get in about forty-five minutes of tennis! It was difficult to manage my energy, but I’m feeling stronger every day.

By the time I went to Anna Halprin’s class, however, my gut was churning and my energy was quite low. Fortunately, we spent a lot of time during check-in because there were several new people there, including J. B., the mother of my daughter’s best friend.

The movement segment began with sitting in or chairs and doing deep breathing exercises. I gradually picked up to where we were supporting our faces with our hands and keeping our hands in touch with our bodies. At a certain point, I felt the desire to do a modified form Zen prostrations as an expression of gratitude. I continued moving about on the floor for quite a while, returning to the prostrated position quite frequently. Then the movement picked up all over the room and my energy began to accelerate. Mostly, I was dancing alone, but there were quite wonderful encounters with other dancers, and soon, most of the group was dancing together. I spontaneously moved into the third stage of the “chaotic meditation” that I learned at the Ashram from Rajneesh. This is the stage where “With raised arms, jump up and down shouting the mantra HOO!…HOO!…HOO! as deeply as possible, coming from the bottom of your belly.” Most of the people joined my in this movement, and I was filled with images of the Ashram and Bhagwan.

After the movement segment settled down with a group circle, we did our drawings. I wanted to draw a group of people dancing together at the Ashram in Poona, but I knew that I lacked the artistic talents to make it happen, so I just started drawing orange faces, which transformed into six vibrant flowers with roots in the earth and healthy leaves on the stalks – all reminding me of “healthy cells growing all by themselves.” On top of each flower, I wrote the name of one of my major teachers along my path.

The first flower was dedicated to Father Eli, from whom I learned the trance work that forms the foundation for guided imagery well enough to teach it to over two hundred people since 1973. He told me that he had taught both Jose Silva of Silva Mind Control, which I had learned in 1971, and L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, which I studied between 1968 and 1971.

The second flower was dedicated to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho. I spent the summer of 1975 in Poona and was given the name, Swami Deva Ninad. I have collected more then four hundred tapes and twenty-five books of his lectures.

The third and fourth flowers were dedicated to the Buddha and Thich Nhat Hanh, respectively. Since 1985, I have been devoted to Buddhism in general and Zen and Vipassana meditation in particular. I love the way Thay has interpreted the sutra on Mindfulness of Breathing. My own meditation is totally inspired by him.

The fifth flower was dedicated to Gabrielle Roth, a former student of Anna Halprin, and an internationally known shaman. I studied with her in 1975 – 1976, as we shared a common interest in Bhagwan and the enneagram. I was scheduled to assist her at a workshop at Eselan in June of 1996, but on that very day, my son went into the hospital for his Wilm’s tumor surgery. What a shock it was for me to have to change my plans and spend the time in the hospital instead. Gabrielle harnessed the energy of her workshop at Eselan and all of her remaining workshops that year to perform healing circles for my son. I have been devoted to her since then and have felt a great sense of gratitude.

The last flower, I dedicated to myself, as I am now my own guru. I am learning a lot every day from my illness and my efforts to keep my mind focused on healing. Naturally, I look to the other teachers for inspiration, but most things are coming from deep inside myself.

As a result of the drawing, my meditation has changed slightly, once again. It now goes, “Breathing in I heal, breathing out I’m free,” or simply, “healthy… free.”


Copyright © 2004-2018, Jerome Freedman, Ph. D.