How To Love: A True Story of Love, Cancer & Liberation

 

Tao and Jared

What is the most valuable thing you could possibly have?

Jared has been one of the closest people in this world to me.  I first met him when he was seven and I was 18. It was a very unusual meeting.

I was first introduced to an enlightened teacher in 2003.  Prem Vishrant – I had never met anyone like him. He was the first person I had met who radiated a peace so profound that it silenced my mind.  The first man I had met who had no fear, and someone who loved unconditionally.  That seems like high praise? True though.

Jared was his son. This boy had confidence and exuberance, he really liked himself. But at the young age of 7, he lacked a bit of compassion at the time I think. He liked me, so he used to kick me and beat me up a bit, much to my girlfriend’s dismay.  I was more than twice his age but had been the youngest in my family and not used to little people. I also was not good at putting out boundaries so this was a difficult situation for me.

As the years went by I learned how to better communicate with him and set healthy boundaries. He was strong and funny and more and more became my little brother.  We became even closer from his 16th birthday onwards after Jared had some profound spiritual satori experiences and our common ground increased.

To love others requires from us openness, a willingness to be hurt, a willingness to be vulnerable.

Love has more value and worth than all of the material possessions available. The beauty of looking out with love at a stranger and of those close to us, is divine.

Jared’s mother was an avid seeker of truth so between his parents it was not surprising that Jared was as strong and self-supporting as he was. Far more than I had been at his age, maybe more than I am now?

Nor was it surprising to me that he was having the awakening experiences he was.

I used to say “I love you, Jared” and he would hug me like a long lost brother.

It sounds funny to hear but it is true to say that for many people, saying “I love you” is a scary thing to do.  If you love someone at work and they are dear to you, you should be able to tell them that. Right? Tell them you love them and that they are dear to you next time you see them and see where that takes you. Consider it an inward adventure into your psyche.  And let me know about how it went, I love hearing stories like that!

To serve others often requires us to put ourselves aside to be there for them.

Our defensiveness of our own pain is a major obstacle to love, we must be willing to be hurt. Another aspect is that love is real, it is real time, your dream or story of you is in the way.  To truly serve another the story of you must be out of the picture. This is the same for a stranger behind the counter at the service station as it is with our own partner.

It is not necessarily easy to be open inside, if someone is angry or aggressive but love is not discriminatory, that sort of conditional openness is a facet of the mind, not love.

It is also a master skill to be able to stay open enough for love whilst putting out a healthy boundary. But these skills are where the beauty lies, and are well worth going for.

Jared worked for me in my trades business until he was 17. He was at a cross road.  On the one hand he would go down to study marine biology in the hopes of a career path, but have to be away from Vishrant, and some of his friends at the Buddhist community in the hills.  On the other he could follow his spiritual life more avidly up in the hills Not an easy decision for him.  A new prospect for him was found and after a windy road I loaned him the money to become my business partner and move up to the hills to the Buddhist community and a future as an entrepreneur.

I had had business partners before, but never one so young. It was not always easy by any means, we would discuss our differences in counselling and work through disagreements as to how things should be done, and kept, and how to channel the money.  Because I had bought him into the business we were almost equal so I had plenty of ground to practice letting go of my story and putting myself into his shoes and see things how he did as well as holding a boundary if I knew it needed to be held.  Sometimes I was more successful than others but together we learned how to keep loving each other and I continued to teach him what I knew, and he showed me all sorts about myself.

He took on the prefix Prem to his name Jared and moved into the sangha (Buddhist Community) more strongly and grew as a deeper, more insightful and loving man more and more each day.

I look at the time that I spent with Jared and I realize that what I value the most was the care I put in to our relationship. I am proud of helping him into the world of business. I am proud of helping to bring him closer into the love of the Buddhist community nestled in the hills. I am proud of bringing him closer to his father who loves everyone so unconditionally, who could help him become a stronger man and find the freedom of enlightenment. These are the actions that I value, providing people with the opportunity to find freedom and live a life of love. I am glad I told him I loved him as often as I did.

In the Spring of 2014 Jared went to the doctor for an inflamed and aching knee during a lunch break. He called me up to tell me that he had been called back in, so I rearranged his day for him.  He called me back again to tell me he had cancer.  This marked the end of our working career.

I wanted to be warm and accepting inside, to be able to face the truths without the band aid of popular coping mechanisms like denial, bargaining, depression or anger. I learned to welcome the grief as it came, accepting the situation as it was, not sugar coating things nor doom and glooming them.  I put money and time in as I could to help, not living in hope and not giving up. I wanted to be an instrument of love.

Over the next 20 months Jared and his loving family battled his cancer in every way they could, chemo failed, twice surgery, and many other avenues attempted.  No expense or effort was spared to the end. On the morning of May, the 25th 2016 at 6am Jared died at the age of 20. His beautiful, loving parents in their different ways had expressed their loving sentiments to him “Let go, let go, let it all go.  Everything is okay. Let go, let go, nothing matters. Let go.”

There are some amazing people in this world that bless you with their existence in your life. If you are with them then you have this moment with them and, despite all your plans for the future, that is all you can really know.

I value love, and I do so aware that to love others is an achievement that not many do very well at in the bustle of urban life.

Loving others is not always necisarily easy and is an ongoing practice for me, but where I succeed is beautiful. Often people don’t have love as a goal, or if they do then they do not understand how to get there. Finding true love inside and embodying it requires that it be a goal and an understanding of how to fulfill the goal. For me personally, I enlisted a teacher that I knew could help me and show me the practices I could put into place in my life so that I may become a greater vessel for love.

So I beseech you, do not wait for love from others – that can come and go. Do not wait until tomorrow to love, for neither you nor those close to you may have a tomorrow. Care now, support now, practice letting go now. Love now.

Love, Tao

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