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From Cancer to Connection

Amishiben Kothari, a mumukshu of the Antwerp Centre narrates her special spiritual journey with Pujyashri Gurudev and how by His grace, even the malignant disease of cancer became her best friend

Since August 2008, people say I have a disease – Cancer. However, I believe I have a best friend named cancer. My journey is best understood by the unconditional love and patience that Bapa has showered on me.

The early years

I had the opportunity to know Him from the first time He came to Antwerp in 1979. I used to go for satsang to please my mother. I had no interest in religion and definitely not in Jainism. In my view, it was a selfish religion. I lived to enjoy life with good values and morals. Once, when Bapa visited Antwerp he inquired with my mother, “Where is Amishiben?” as I had not gone for bhakti. He always remembered me! He even gave me Param Krupalu Dev’s chitrapat and told me, “Sachvi ne rakhjo.” His Grace was on me, He persisted, and He never gave up. It is hard to express how much He did and how much He waited for me. The cherry on the cake is that I was stupid enough to boost my ego when Bapa would come to have lunch or dinner with me whenever I would come to Mumbai. I would feel proud that I was so good that Bapa was coming just for me. It was His compassion, love, and grace.

Receiving agna

Once, on a trip back from Nainital, Bapa told me, “Love everyone.” I was so happy, thinking it was such an easy ajna. I thought about it and went back to Him saying, “You told me in such sweet words to do the most difficult job: to put down my ego.” He responded with a smile. He continuously gave me hints to transform myself and although I always enjoyed His presence, I always used Him as a spare wheel rather than my steering wheel.

In August 2007, I had a meeting with Bapa. He asked me, “You have enough of all. You are in search of something else, right?” He then told me, “Don’t let the crowd come between us. Don’t lose connection.” He explained this point with the following example: “If you are following my car and there are no other cars between us, it is very easy to follow. No extra effort is needed. The more traffic in between, the more effort will be needed. And if you miss the green light and are stuck at the red signal, lots of effort will be needed. Do not let that happen. Stay connected.” He added, “Don’t be unhappy.” He looked at me, made a sweet face and said, “It is difficult so I give you maximum seven minutes to be unhappy at any time. Then slap yourself and come up again.”

The meeting was over and my questions began. What does all that mean? What do I have to do? I left Mumbai and got back into Antwerp’s routine but the meeting constantly replayed in my mind, as if it was trying to tell me something. I started to do bhakti, listen to satsangs regularly and understand the bodh that Bapa was transmitting through them. I started to question myself and most amazingly, I started to love Jainism. Bapa showed that religion is not only about ‘do’s and don’ts’, kriya and niyam. All of it is a part of religion, but the essence is to live life with awareness, love and the rest will follow. I could see my life transforming and the results were immediate. I felt lighter and happier. Jainism no longer seemed selfish; it had always been about love.

Meeting my bestfriend

AUGUST 2008: Cancer was declared. I called Bapa. The first thing He asked me, “Are you positive?” “Yes Bapa,” I replied. “Are you smiling?” “Yes Bapa.” Encouragingly, He added, “This will be your best Paryushan.”

It all started making sense. He had prepared me for a year with satsangs, bhakti and spirituality to embrace cancer, chemotherapy and the pain. Now, it was time to put Bapa’s bodh into practice: not blaming karma, they are just a medium, go through this experience with a smile and be positive. Around this time, Bapa was giving pravachans on Saint Gangasati’s bhajans. With His blessings, I understood that I have to do my work very fast, like lightning and see the unseen, like the thread of a necklace. Bapa’s karuna was so abundant that He made sure I had enough prasad: He had planned it all.

In 2009, with Bhagavad Gita, I understood that if I have Him on my side, I could overcome anything. I just have to do my work without any expectations.

JUNE 17, 2009: The most awaited day. Bapa came in person to see me. I was overjoyed with tears. This time I understood that, this was only His Grace, His compassion, His Love. He personally gave me a prescription, just as doctors do. But this one was ‘the’ prescription of spirituality. Months passed by from being out of cancer and I was blessed to go to Dharampur for the Poornahuti Mahotsav of Bhagavad Gita and the Palitana yatra. Bapa was taking me everywhere, making my journey smooth and easy. He loves me so much that from 2010, He started to send miraculous vitamins twice a day, in the form of soothing Sadguru Whispers. It might just be an SMS, but for me they are the strongest vitamins and antidotes I need to fight against my disillusionment, ego, concepts and weaknesses.

What is life if Bapa is not a part of it? Bapa is life. Bapa is light. Bapa is moksh. Thank You Bapa for showing me real life and pulling me out of darkness. Bapa, with Your blessings, I will not disappoint You. I will run towards the goal You have shown me. One thing I’m certain of: everything is possible if You are with me. I love You and need only You.

HE has faith in me!

MAY 5, 2010: I was diagnosed with cancer again. As days passed by, I started to doubt myself. Will I be able to go through this phase again? Surrounded by negative thoughts yet still anchored to Bapa, He whispered to me, “When God solves your problems; you have faith in His abilities. When God doesn’t solve your problems, He has faith in your abilities.” A big smile appeared on my face. When I doubt myself, He believes in me. He does not only give me the strength to face cancer, but prepares me to elevate against any karma. A bigger smile appeared on my face on thinking, “How stupid am I? When I have Him to defeat the circle of birth and death, why should I worry for a small problem such as cancer?”

JANUARY 2011:Relapse. Operation needed along with weekly chemotherapy sessions. Then Bapa called me. He told me, “I am always with you. Do satsang.” This coming and going of cancer has become a part of my life and my best friend, because it has brought me closer and has made me more connected to Bapa.

Grace alone!

They say cancer patients live on hope but I have experienced otherwise. When you have Bapa in your life, have faith and have surrendered to Him, His Grace takes over your being. Bapa blessed me by coming home in June 2011. With His compassionate voice and eyes filled with love, He asked me, “How are you?” I replied, “Bapa, all is good but on Fridays it is very difficult because I get chemotherapy on Wednesdays, and on Friday the pain is unbearable.” He told me, “You know in advance that after chemos you will have pain so prepare yourself with bhakti and satsang. And if this is the only problem, I will make sure that you do not lose connection that day.” That was the last Friday that I had pain. If this is not grace, then what is?

2011 was also the year of my daughter Shraddha’s Arangetram preparations. Lots of hurdles did appear and it seemed impossible to resolve them, but the thought of Bapa would make them disappear in a fraction of a second. Let me share an example. To have an auditorium that was free and allowed personal catering was something impossible. Bapa gave the date for the Arangetram and surprisingly the auditorium we wanted was just available on that one and only date. They even agreed on allowing us to have our own personal catering! If this is not grace, then what is?

NOVEMBER 21, 2011: Bapa came to Antwerp in His tight schedule, especially to witness Shraddha’s Arangetram. His presence made it a spiritual dance event. If this is not grace, then what is?

APRIL 2012:The doctors had declared that I had very few days left now. Bapa flew down to Antwerp for 2 days especially for me. He personally guided me through the sadhana to be performed whilst approaching death. He addressed me as ‘lion’ motivating me to be full of valour and welcome death. If this is not grace, then what is?

Forever together

We tend to speak about all that He has done for us but I have started to think, who is He? Where does His strength come from? Is He human? My experience tells me and I am convinced He is just here out of compassion and love, to show us the path to liberation. He is God in a human form. I have to put down my pen now, but I could go on and on because this journey has started and it will continue lives after this one. What is life if Bapa is not a part of it? Bapa is life. Bapa is light. Bapa is moksh. Thank You Bapa for showing me real life and pulling me out of darkness. Bapa, with Your blessings, I will not disappoint You. I will run towards the goal You have shown me. One thing I’m certain of: everything is possible if You are with me. I love You and need only You.

On Thursday, May 17, 2012, Amishiben Kothari peacefully left her body; exactly one month after Pujya Gurudevshri blessed her with a 2 day visit to Antwerp. Under the uplifting guidance of the Master, she remained in glad acceptance through her last days. Her connection grew stronger by the day, demonstrating her devotion and determination. Calm, aware and elevated, her co-operativeness as a patient even surprised the doctors. When she was asked who was with her on her last night, she voiced what would be her final words, “Param Krupalu Dev,” while pointing to His chitrapat. With faith and fearlessness, she embraced her death as a celebration.

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#SadguruWhispers Make Satsang fun. When emotions join, it becomes sticky and remains with you even in difficult times.