Christian Kurman was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour called Anaplastic Meningioma, one of the most aggressive brain tumours. He decided to leave the hospital without having conventional treatments. At that time he did not know what would happen next, but he made the decision to find out in his own way. Here is his story in his own words:
“This was the beginning of a long journey into the unknown. It was scary to face what I never knew, what I needed to feel, and to learn how to let go.
This required learning how to learn differently, coping with the unexpected, and letting go of things that I no longer needed. After I left the hospital, I spent a few days in the Swiss mountains and clearly felt intuitively that there must be another way to cure myself, other than through conventional methods. Upon my return to Zurich, my best mate at that time gave me a small book from a Vietnamese Zen Master, which I read in no time. Thereafter, I decided to visit him [the Zen Master] personally in his spiritual retreat in southwest France. I was welcomed by the spiritual community and introduced to Buddhist rituals and practiced “stillness” for the first time in my life. I was taught how to meditate and participated in daily “sanghas” and “dharma talks” until one day I was summoned to see the Zen Master himself, who challenged me about my self-knowledge and self-awareness, until I was given the exclusive privilege to join a secluded, remote mountain monastery in the Himalayas, 3,500 meters above sea level.
This was a place I had not even known existed, cut off from any civilization. Upon arrival at Paro Airport, I was welcomed by two young Buddhist novices who spoke a bit of English. They accompanied me on a small bus until we reached a small village on the edge of many high mountains. Prior to the trek up the mountain, we were practicing secretive Tibetan meditation and Buddhist rituals which were repeated every hour, until we reached the mountain monastery.
Upon arrival at the mountain monastery, each and every monk greeted me personally and gave me a khatang (white cloth) – expressing their respect, gratitude, affection, and celebration to welcome me to their monastery. That same day I was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism, where I learned about the 10 key values which I was expected to practice during my entire stay. Other than a bowl, three robes, a bathing cloth, a kettle of water, a water filter, a razor, sandals, candles, and a candle lantern, everything else was left behind.
I was summoned to join the community for meditation and practicing Tibetan secretive rituals that often took several hours each day. After these practices, we ate a bowl of rice with vegetables and drank butter tea. The ritual was practiced twice a day, each morning before sunrise and each evening after sunset. All in all, my days were mainly comprised of practicing stillness, doing sitting and walking meditations, cultivating Tibetan secretive rituals, as well as ‘mantras’ and ‘pujas.’
I did this for several months until, one day, I was kept in absolute, pure isolation and resided in a tiny wooden hut (2×2 meters), with a very small window. I was not allowed to leave the hut for 100 days – without talking to anyone, no writing, no reading, no listening to music. I sat on a wooden block covered with dried grass where I meditated, slept, ate and washed myself – a time I will never forget, as I was not only challenged with my deepest inner fears and anxieties, but also I learned how to let go of everything that no longer made sense or gave me purpose. It was hard – very hard – and often I was so scared, I did not know whether I would ever leave the monastery alive. After a few weeks, I managed to follow my rituals, which made me feel safe and secure. I was inspired and felt courageous, saw things about myself more clearly, and became more conscious and compassionate as I dove into my deepest inner-self for the very first time in my life – a time when I slowly forgot that I was actually ill – very ill.
This was also a time when I managed to meditate for several hours in a row – often up to 12 hours per day over several weeks. I felt very strong, resistant, balanced and light – but observing myself towards the inside. After 100 days in isolation, I was welcomed by the monasterial community.
A few weeks later, I was prepared for departure – following and embracing secretive Tibetan rituals and rare mantras, still not knowing whether I was cured and healed, not knowing whether I would survive in the end. It was not until I went back to the Neurological Clinic in Zurich that I found out that my malignant brain tumor had disappeared completely. In fact, it was scientifically proven that no other external influences or conventional treatment had been used. This was 10 years ago, and still the Swiss media and many other people, including friends, family, and medical doctors, have questioned me for weeks on the way I had proceeded and handled my illness.
Did it help for them to question me? No, because in life we need to learn how to learn differently, overcoming in order to cope with the unknown. At the end of the day, it is the unknown that makes us all scared to move forward. Once we discover and explore, sometimes we find a way that is so incredibly different from the way we were brought up, educated, and trained. We only question it because we are all scared.
Would I do it again? Any time.”
UPDATE: As of March 2019, Christian is thriving post-diagnosis.
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