At the ACIM international conference in NYC, I was among more than five hundred people who together experienced “a present love,” which was the conference theme. “The holiest of all the spots on the planet is where an ancient hatred has become A PRESENT LOVE.” When we are focusing on Holy Spirit, God’s love, our “personal” thoughts based on the ego’s thought system fall aside, allowing us to see through love’s eyes and receive a vision.
Vision depends on perception. That is why it is not knowledge itself. And yet, vision, and right perception, gives us the experience that we are a part of the truth, meaning, love. At the Conference, we experienced that healing together.
I discovered the Course in 1994, but I know now that I first visited this holiest of spots when I was a child, and I think that experience prepared me to recognize the Course when I met it.
I was born as a very weak baby and had asthma from the beginning. You might know how painful an asthma attack is. My attacks would come at night, usually. I couldn’t lie down. I had to get up and try to close my chest as much as possible. I couldn’t breathe. I’d put on an oxygen mask, but it was still hard to breathe. Usually the attacks would be gone by morning, and I learned to endure them by focusing on praying for morning to come as soon as possible. During the daytime, I could lie down and sleep well.
That suffering was my secret and my shame. My guilt. My fear. My weakness. I hated myself. I believed seriously that no one would love me in this lifetime because of my weakness. I could not do anything joyful except reading books. I started reading many books, probably earlier than other healthy children.
Twice a week my mother brought me to a hospital for treatment to improve my frail constitution. I was six years old. And when I turned seven, I started going there by myself. I was so happy to do so because I had felt bad that my mother had had to devote so much time to it. It took over an hour to get there by bus, and it must have been hard for my mother. She was working as an assistant of Kimono making for my grandmother all day long while pregnant with and then taking care of my baby brother and managing the household. I felt so sorry and I appreciated that my mother never expressed any negative thought about going to the hospital with me. I didn’t know that my mother was actually happy to leave our house and my grandmother at least for a while. I didn’t know that there were complicated relationships among my grandmother, mother and father.
I was 16 years old when they told me that my grandmother, who lived with us —or rather, we lived with her in her house — was not my mother’s real mother but rather my mother’s aunt. And the woman I grew up knowing as my mother’s sister, who lived very close to us, was actually my mother’s real mother. World War II affected many relationships and family situations in Japan back then. Countless children and adults, too, were shuffled about, forced into sudden intimacy with distant relatives in unfamiliar homes not yet flattened by the bombing raids. My mother lost many people close to her because of the war. And she also lost the opportunity to pursue her dream because the war stopped her education. My mother suffered in many ways.
Well, anyway, I would go to the hospital alone by bus, wait in line a long time to see a doctor, get an injection in my lower arm, or upper arm, either thigh, calf, buttocks…. Then I had to wait in the waiting room for my medications.
In front of the windows of the medication center, a small brochure hung by a string from the ceiling. I couldn’t reach it. It was obviously not for small kids. But I could reach it if I stood on the tips of my toes. I loved reading books. I actually loved to read anything. Every time I visited the hospital, I stood up on the tips of my toes, and paged that thin book. It was about the psychological dynamics of asthma.
There were many kanji characters in the pamphlet that I could not understand, but that didn’t deter me. I would guess at their meaning.
This pamphlet said, “Asthma is completely a psychological disease.” “Children’s asthma is 100% caused by family dynamics.” “Asthma patients tend to have lower self–esteem.” “Asthma is a symptom of the patient’s refusal to accept his reality.” “Asthma is basically attacking life itself.” And so on.
I learned that my asthma symptom was a product of my mind. To have asthma meant I must hate my life or be very stubborn or selfish. Back then I didn’t yet know my family’s history and travails. But somehow, I thought, I sensed some hidden pain in my peaceful-looking and well-mannered family, particularly in my mother, and decided subconsciously to express it by having asthma. After reading that pamphlet, I realized that I had somehow come to feel threatened by my mother’s suffering and that it had been my choice to share her suffering by choking myself.
This discovery didn’t lead me to change my behavior or anything. I just understood.
I don’t know how such a small girl could have understood that. What I can say now is that while I was reading that pamphlet, I felt I was in the light. Something was consoling me; something was protecting me. Probably I could not have understood on my own, but the wisdom of light brought me to a different state of mind.
And what happened? My asthma was gone in three months.
That summer when I was seven years old, my new life began. I became a very physical girl. I found that I was a good swimmer, good at bicycling and a good dodge ball player. And I started writing a lot.
In October, on my mother’s birthday, I wrote her a letter and illustrated it with a pink cosmos flower. I wrote, “Happy birthday, Mom. And thank you very much for your love.” When she read my little letter, she cried. At that moment, I had no idea why, but I sensed that it was too strong of a reaction.
For me, from the beginning, breathing has been the symbol of “acceptance,” “life,” ”love,” “freedom” and “truth.” And my miracle cure from asthma was just the starting point of my journey of acceptance, life, love, freedom and truth. Much later, I started riding motorcycles and touring everywhere. In one sense, it was a breathing practice, too. I breathed wind. I breathed freedom. I breathed self-acceptance. Then I moved to NYC from Tokyo in order to breathe even more freely. After coming to New York, it took me another seven years to meet ACIM. In that blue book, something absolute was waiting for me and embraced me. I rest in God.
(This essay first appeared in Miracles Magazine Vol.14~No.4~Issue 82~July`– August 2015)