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"Have you got a diagnosis for me, then?"


"Have you got a diagnosis for me, then?"


With May 2023 update from Marcus (at the end)

"Have you got a diagnosis for me, then?"

I asked as I sat down in the Registrar's office. "Yes, we have. You have a toxic multinodular goitre," the Registrar said triumphantly. Six months earlier, I had been driving back from a business meeting in Devon and, while rubbing my neck, stiff from driving, I had discovered a swelling in my thyroid.
After having visited my GP and having had blood tests with her clinic's phlebotomist, she had arranged for me to see a consultant endocrinologist at our local hospital because the thyroxine levels were normal. This meant it was more than hyper- or hypothyroidism.
"Better check it's not cancerous," she had said as I was leaving the surgery.
Despite having been in Subud for 30 years and knowing that Bapak had said worrying makes you more ill, I still felt a whiff of adrenalin kick into my system. It made me realise that, at 56, I was not yet ready to begin that run-up to my death. I needed more time to learn to surrender. "And anyway," I dialogued with God, "I'd look terrible with no hair if I were to need chemotherapy ... "
I had to undergo a whole range of tests and scans. The first was ultrasound. They discovered I had a nodule but couldn't see if it was one big one or several smaller ones. Then followed another, more in-depth scan with intravenous, low-level radioactive iodine, an x-ray and finally FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration), which hurt like hell. This whole process took six months and led me to where we started - in the Registrar's office feeling extremely relieved that it wasn't cancer.

The Registrar produced a colour thermograph from the last scan showing three nodules of varying sizes. "They're hot nodules. Cold ones could possibly be cancerous. But, anyway, the cytology tests rule out any form of cancer. All the cells are normal." Apparently, the hot spots, which showed up like supernovae on the jet-black photographic paper, white at the centre, then yellow then red, were doing all the thyroxine production. The rest of the gland was dormant, thus fooling my pituitary gland - the so-called conductor of the endocrine orchestra - that all was well and in balance. "What we plan ," the Registrar continued, "is for you to take a two-week course of a drug called Carbimazole which will hopefully stop the hot-spot nodules from producing all the thyroxine, thereby kick-starting the pituitary gland into producing more thryoid-stimulating hormone so that the whole gland will start functioning normally. If that doesn't work, we'll get you to drink radioactive iodine which will gather in the thyroid and kill off the nodules. That's the theory," she concluded and made an appointment for me to return in three months.
It occurred to me that the biochemical dangers that accompany this theoretical prognosis are twofold. First, one in a thousand patients react badly to Carbimazole and it creates havoc with their immune system. "If you develop a sore throat while taking this drug, stop taking it immediately and go to your local hospital emergency department ... " it says on the sheet handed out with my prescription. I really didn't fancy risking giving myself something akin to Aids, especially during a flu epidemic. One in a thousand is not long enough odds for me!
Secondly, if given too much radioactive iodine - and the consultant can only guess the right amount - thereby killing too much thyroid tissue- it's thyroxine tablets for life. Drinking the radioactive stuff would also mean not sleeping in the same bed as my wife for a week, not kissing anyone and not being closer than 15 feet to small children. I'd be a walking Doon Reay! The whole exercise seemed too risky for me. Time to plan a DIY healing campaign.

Five Types of Illness

According to Varindra Vittachi, Bapak once said that there are five types of illness. These are, broadly, ordinary or minor ailments, hereditary defects or weaknesses, sickness that comes as a warning that one's life is not being lived in the right way, illness given as punishment for wrongdoing and that given to summon one to death. Now, I knew this was no minor ailment, knew of no direct hereditary defects and I was, by now, fairly certain I wasn't being summoned to death. It didn't feel like a punishment, either. I was feeling fit and on top of the world, health-wise, and full of creative energy. So, I must be living wrongly, I reasoned. But in what way and why, I asked myself. I decided it is me to make some serious efforts to discover what it was that I was being warned about. Once again, as has happened so many times during my 30 years in Subud, I was being guided but could not read the signals. I was aware, too, that Bapak had said that illness made us draw closer to God and that we should thank God for it. Instinctively understanding the veracity of this failed to stop my mind running in ever-decreasing circles.
A friend lent me her copy of The Healing Power of lllness by Thorwald Dethlefsen and Rudiger Dahlke. Their main thesis (and I paraphrase) is that illness is a manifestation of an unaddressed, inner problem. The minute we enter this physical world, as spirit in a body, we are bipolar, dual natured. Our aim is to become whole, or healed – to become integrated. Disease is the expression of our dis-integration and is unavoidable, therefore. That which we repress - our shadow in psychotherapeutic terms – must have its expression and, if it is not lived out, will em-body itself in symptoms. Therefore, to quote Dethlefsen and Dahlke, "Symptoms make us honest. In our symptoms we have what our consciousness lacks."

The keys to understanding the nature of the unexpressed problem are simple. Initially, it is necessary to work out what aspect of our living is represented by the physiological nature of the diseased organ. This can usually be determined by its function. For example, the skin represents our contact with the world; our kidneys represent partnership; our joints our ability to move forward; our back and shoulders our ability to bear our burdens and so on. The second key is to determine the intrinsic nature of the illness. Is it a swelling or hardening, suggesting blockage? Or is it an inflammation (usually an itis) representing anger? The third key is to observe the everyday language we use to describe our symptoms. For example, have you got 'a pain in the neck'? And if you've got acid indigestion, ask yourself, 'What's eating me?' If you've a sore throat, what is it, in your life at this time, that's making you so angry you cannot, or are not willing, to swallow?
As another example, Dethlefsen writes that high blood pressure occurs when a person desires to achieve a certain goal, releasing the energy necessary to achieve it, but clamps down on the desire with a psychological block, thus preventing the action. This is reflected by and enacted physically through the heart (the desire) pumping blood (the energy) through narrowed arteries (the psychological clamping down) giving rise to high pressure. The sufferer literally puts him or herself 'under pressure', driving fotward while always finding - or creating - blocks. The same symptoms can manifest because of internal or external conflicts without solution or through controlled aggression. It's up to the individual to find what fits when using the book.
Reading the relevant parts of The Healing Power ofl//ness and several other books in the same genre, a picture began to emerge for me. The thyroid is responsible for the body's metabolic rate, particularly the breathing and the release of energy (it is the thyroid's ability to become inactive that enables certain animals to hibernate). More importantly, it is the gateway between the physical body and the spiritual body, incorporating the mind and feelings - 'The way the body inhales the soul,' to quote Karl Konig. In short, the activity of the thyroid mirrors our desire to be here, committed to life.
The throat is a two-way bridge. We take in our breath, swallow our food (and, by analogy, life, love, ideas and concepts) through the throat. We also exhale and voice our opinions, feelings and emotions through it. If, however, we believe that expressing certain emotions is wrong and they remain unvoiced because we fear the consequences, for example, or such expression was forbidden while we were growing up, we will harbor them. They become resentments which we continue to grow and nurse by further non-expression over the y ears. This causes energy to amass in the throat. A goitre, the name for this typical thyroid swelling, is simply a reflection of the hatred of being inflicted upon and the inability, or unwillingness, to do anything about it.

Around this time, I had further clarification of my situation at a men's kejiwaan day at Loudwater. I had joined the small group that wanted to discuss and test around personal, more psychologica - spiritual issues. Of the five of us, three wanted to ask specific questions and, after lunch, having discussed the issues and phrased the questions, we went back to test. 'What are the behaviours or attitudes that manifest as Marcus's current health problems?' we asked. As we received the answers, I felt like a four-year-old child reaching out to go in one direction, towards something I wanted, but was being dragged away in the opposite direction by more powerful, adult, parental forces. The conflict would tear me in two if I didn't acquiesce. I was left with a feeling of bitterness. It was so unfair.
Here was the spiritual corroboration of my reading. I had repeatedly re -created, in adulthood, the emotional atmosphere of when I was growing up - namely, that sense of allowing myself to be thwarted and frustrated. By failing to express and make known my needs, frustrations and hurts, I had nursed and nurtured my nodules. In an earlier latihan, it had been made clear to me that I was forever 'putting my neck on the line' for others , as a way of avoiding 'sticking my neck out' on my own behalf.
This was such a neat summation of my situation and I knew it was spot-on. The false activity of my thyroid manifests as 'always putting myself out for others' - not out of altruism, but as away of avoiding the responsibility of doing what I really want to do. And I guess I've done this all my life. After the first test, we asked, 'What should Marcus do to overcome these attitudes and behaviours?' Doing any kind of justice in writing to the multifarious feelings that this question engendered would require the literary skills of all the Nobel Prize for Literature winners this century.
'The freest possible expression of the love of self, of God and the whole of creation. Fun, enjoyment, living life to the full ... ' were a few of the blandishments I groped for at feedback time.
On paper, it's all so easy. I must simply stop creating the illusion that everything depends on me and that everyone is imposing on me to do this or that; wanting help here and support there, usually here and now. Through surrender I must learn to say no, gently – to myself, to others - and just get on with what I really need to do, that which I'm here for. Tune to unblock the bottleneck, stick my neck out and go for it, neck and crop, in other words. However, I still needed to cure my disease. After testing, by myself, a whole range of possible alternative approaches, I felt very strongly that Chinese medicine was the correct one in general and that our local Chinese Medical Centre in particular was the place to go. I then tested, as a safeguard, was it best for my health to use the hospital's conventional approach or Chinese medicine? Intriguingly, what I felt was that either would be acceptable, but not both together, as long as the behaviour that caused the manifestation was addressed! (A couple of years ago, after consultation with an alternative medical practitioner about a problem I had with reflux oesophagitis and excess stomach acid, I totally changed my diet and the condition cleared up. What occurs to me now, in letters so obvious I probably didn't see them at first, is because I cured the symptoms without addressing the underlying behaviours and attitudes, they have manifested elsewhere. Same problem, different expression.)

I decided to go for the Chinese medicine and booked an appointment. The young Chinese lady doctor that I consulted took down my medical history, then felt my pulse. 'Your pulse is very lethargic. Your Qi is weak, your water is low and the heat is rising,' she said. Somehow, I knew instinctively she had hit the nail on the head. Especially as the hospital had diagnosed hot-spots in the neck! I read a little about the principles of Chinese medicine. It appears that Yin and Yang should be in balance. Yin is 'the shady side of the hill' Yang is 'the sunny side'. These two forces interact dynamically. They are in opposition, interdependent, consume each other and transform each other. Think of the sun rising in the sky over a hill. The shady side gets smaller and smaller until the afternoon when the shadow begins to get longer and deeper as the sun sets. Ym is essentially feminine, watery and is cold, passive, descending and so on. Yang is essentially masculine, fiery and is hot, active and ascending, etc. The Qi (pronounced 'chee') energy is the force which binds everything in the universe together. Condensed it is matter, refined it is spirit. The fact that my dis-ease was centered in my throat - the gate where spirit transforms into matter - suddenly took on a new significance. Chinese medicine gets more complicated the more you read about it with the introduction of the Vital Substances, the Five Elements, the Organs, External Causes and so on. I decided to go with the flow, not needing to understand in depth. Let's just see what she could do for me, I decided. She gave me an acupuncture treatment and, lying there in the dark, I felt my latihan wash through me, working with the energies in my physical body, leaving me feeling relaxed and calm.
I have been to see her for about eight sessions, now. My pulse is stronger at seven out of ten, as she notates it, and the swelling in my neck is noticeably smaller by 50 per cent. To sum up, what I have been led to understand is that wrong behavior that is unaddressed, or allowed to have free rein, eventually manifests as illness. If you become ill, the medical profession is very good at diagnosing the problem. After diagnosis, either go with the conventional medical wisdom or choose an alternative practitioner that you're comfortable with but, at the same time, it is essential to get to understand the behavior that is manifesting and, working hand in hand with the latihan, to find ways to change it. Even having something surgically removed doesn't make the inner problem disappear!
These four things, diagnosis, medication, behavior analysis and change must go hand in hand or the dis-ease will reappear in another guise, becoming more and more life threatening each time until you're prematurely summoned to death. This warning shot over my bows ('This rcally could turn life-threatening!' said one of the others during our testing session) is a grace of enormous proportions and I would be a fool to ignore it. If I do and next time it's not a warning shot, but a real cancer, I will have achieved that which some part of me wants, deep down. I will become the eternal victim child. I will be attended to and looked after by others, spending most of my time in bed, hairless from chemotherapy. I will have become a baby again.

Marcus Bolt.jpg

Well, twenty-five years later and I’m still here...
I’ve just checked, for the first time in a very long time, and there is still a small swelling in my neck, which I can feel if I touch the spot and swallow, but can’t see in the mirror.

Every year, having my MOT check-up at my local surgery, the blood tests come back normal for thyroid function, so it would seem the problem has stabilised, I assume, I hope. 
Can I put this down to the gradual behavioural changes the latihan has enabled me to make? I still ‘put myself out for others’, but only occasionally, having learnt to politely say, “Sorry, no can do,” if I don’t have the time, capacity or desire to comply with a request.
The full on drive to do what I really want to do, what I feel I’m here for, is still repressed by the ‘duty before beauty’ family attitude to life that I was indoctrinated in when young, plus, I guess, the fear of poverty. Consequently, I still suffer from hypertension, controlled by medication. This merely relieves the symptoms, of course; it does not address the root cause of the problem. It’s like a mechanic sticking a plaster over a flashing warning light on a car’s dashboard and claiming the malfunction is fixed. 
I try to surrender it all in latihan, asking for guidance, but after nearly 55 years, I still have trouble interpreting the signs received.  But I am convinced that the Universe is beneficent, as long as one obeys the rules and ‘does unto others as one would be done by’.

Extracted from Marcus Bolt's new book Saving Grace - Thirty Years in Subud Published by VlA BOOKS, May 1999. Available from: SPI Ud,
Loudwater Farm, Loudwater L1ne, Rickmansworth llerts WD3 4IIG UK

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