Choosing life – part 2
In part 2 of this interview, THIERRY CASASNOVAS continues his advocacy for life. He shares his own journey with CELINE FRÉSARD, the stages of his rebirth after being left for dead by doctors, and the consciousness he has derived from this profound experience. He speaks about the role of food in our lives, and how to fill the void.
It is the path of revelation and awakening.
This revelation on the mental,
physical and spiritual levels is essential.
Once a person has experienced it,
everything is possible.
Q: At the end of part 1, you told us about the turning point, the trigger, a kind of explosive transformation that leads to never seeing the world the same way again. You were talking about revelation.
I am someone who respects God, but I am not religious. Religion appropriates spirituality, by making people believe that there is no spirituality outside it, but if someone tells me that they have encountered life, I answer, “You have the same spiritual experience as I do.” Even if I use Christian terms to express it, we follow the same spiritual path of encounter and wonder towards life. Using a more Asiatic approach, it is the path of revelation and awakening. This revelation on the mental, physical and spiritual levels is essential. Once a person has experienced it, everything is possible.
For example, after months and months in hospital, the only refuge I found was with my parents. I had nowhere else to go. After seeing several doctors march past, who could not do anything for me, they understood that I was dying, they took me in. You can imagine their panic seeing their child dying at 33. It was a disaster.
The morning I was supposed to go to the hospital again, I knew I was leaving to die. I was going into palliative care because the doctors didn’t want me to die at my parents’ home. That’s when I experienced this turning point you mentioned.
My father came to my room to tell me that my things were being prepared for my departure and I looked at him and told him, “I’m not going to the hospital. You’re going to take care of me and I know I’m going to live.” What captivated me at the time was that he didn’t even hesitate for a second, but simply replied, “Okay, that’s fine.”
Later, I asked him what made him accept such a radical choice, when I was apparently dying, and my only chance of surviving a little longer was the hospital. He replied, “I looked into your eyes and there was a flame in them that I hadn’t seen in months.”
The flame was present. And the funny thing is that my mother was so panicked and emotional – she’s a mother – that she didn’t see it, and she called me crazy. So my father held her by the arm and said, “Look, now pack your bags and leave, because I have to take care of him and I can’t take care of you at the same time. We’ll give you news. Go on a trip, and I’ll take care of my son. I need to be one hundred percent with him.”
I was in agony, I was physically dying, but the very moment there was this change in me, I was alive again. The future had taken over.
The revelation of life in me has taken months, even years, to make its way, because I am still improving in relation to my state of health and vitality. At the age of 45 I have not yet reached my optimum. But within a few months without treatment, the tuberculosis that was eating away at my lungs had gone – I no longer had any tubercular lesions, the hepatitis that was eating away at my liver had disappeared, and so had the pancreatitis. I started to gain weight and energy; I started to walk and run. I was no longer at risk of cardiac arrest. I was getting better and better.
It is this round trip between what is happening on the spiritual, mental and physical levels that is so fascinating.
Q: So even totally exhausted people can come back to life?
Yes, but first they must go through this turning point, they must regain confidence in their life processes. Then, even if they are extremely tired, they will live. However, like me with my father in my story, they need someone to support them. We need each other.
The relationship to health and care has been professionalized, medicalized and reserved for a caste of accredited professionals. In what I present here, however, in the path to life, we discover that the care given to the body, which is relatively simple, comes above all from the intention of the other. That is, anyone who intends good for someone else will be the best caregiver they can dream of. My father had no medical expertise.
My father, without any knowledge,
had only one thing, the most powerful tool: love.
Not some light New Age niceness and kindness,
but the most powerful transformative force.
I had been living in hospital corridors for years. Doctors with ten, twelve and fifteen years of experience, great specialists, analyzed me in all directions, and passed cameras through all my orifices. I was literally tortured by these examinations. Even with all these techniques, they couldn’t do anything to stop me from dying.
My father, without any knowledge, had only one thing, the most powerful tool: love. Not some light New Age niceness and kindness, but the most powerful transformative force. With this love, my father cured me with very simple things. He massaged me, fed me good food, spent time talking to me, offered me presence, and took care of me. Thanks to all this, my father allowed me to live. Without him I would never have made it. Of course there were also friends who prayed and meditated for me, who surrounded me with their presence, their motivation and their support. All this together nourished life in me.
Now, all my work is a plea to let people know that each of us is the best caregiver in the world. We don’t need any particular skills, just the desire to care for others.
In the Bible, there is an absolutely fabulous passage. Jesus, followed by a huge crowd, enters a house to heal the sick. A man arrives, carried on a stretcher, who is unable to get near Jesus. His friends climb on the roof, remove the tiles and lower the stretcher with ropes just in front of Jesus. Can you imagine the determination of these people? For me this message is sumptuous. They destroy the roof so that their friend can reach the source of life. They do not neglect anything; they give everything so that their friend can come back to life.
This is really the message: the inner transformation, then the strength of the people around us to help in a practical way. I was at the point where I couldn’t even cut my food, where I was totally disabled in a chair. I had to be put to bed, helped to get up, and washed. Obviously, alone I would have died. So, first comes the inner change and next the neighbor.
Relationships are concrete and tangible,
where you touch the other person,
you have them in front of you, you look into their eyes,
you hear the sound of their voice,
you feel the warmth of their body,
and all the energy they give off.
Q: In your first videos, you said that we all have a God-shaped hollow inside. It brings me back to the question of what we eat and why we eat. Today we no longer really eat to eat; we eat things we don’t want without being hungry. This no longer corresponds at all to a natural need. Can you tell us about our relationship to food?
We talk indiscriminately about food and diet, whereas in fact we should distinguish between them. The food we eat, our diet, provides our body with the nutrients it needs to function properly: fats, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins, trace elements, antioxidant factors etc. We therefore need enough quality food in sufficient quantity. We know all too well the problems caused by a lack of nutrition for the body.
But food is much more than that. Researchers have quantified the relationship between food and diet. According to them, our diet does not represent more than 30% of our food. And what is our food? The food we eat is what we take from outside that will bring physical nutrients to the body. On the other hand, food as nourishment is everything we receive from the outside, in the true sense of the word, which nourishes our being. The problem is that we bring nourishment back to food, because we only consider ourselves in our bodily form, as a body. The bankruptcy of religion that has led to a bankruptcy of spirituality means that here in Europe we live in a secular society that prohibits all forms of spirituality. And human beings do not only have physical needs.
For me, it is obvious that we are more than a body, so we have other needs. Today, our way of life does not take into account the fundamental and vital needs of the human being, not to mention spiritual needs and our relationships with others, for example.
We constantly talk about relationships on Facebook, but it’s making fun of the world. Relationships are not created by typing on a keyboard! Relationships are concrete and tangible, where you touch the other person, you have them in front of you, you look into their eyes, you hear the sound of their voice, you feel the warmth of their body, and all the energy they give off. That’s a relationship! A relationship is not just about sending each other a little text message from time to time. Our being is not adequately nourished by that type of exchange. As our vital needs are not met, we desperately seek to meet them, and since the most accessible thing is food, we compensate for all the emptiness in our life by eating.
This means that we end up with obese bodies desperately in search of food. It’s like saying, “For my body to work properly, I need to eat apples,” and in front of you there’s a field full of fruit, but not apples. You then test all the fruit to discover that they are not apples. You go on eating but you never find your apple, you never find exactly what nourishes you and satisfies your hunger. So you become obese eating all the other fruits while still starving.
It is one of the characteristics of our time – physically obese and spiritually hungry. Inside, we are hollow, we are desperate. For me, despair in our societies is the greatest. We are trying to compensate, but the good news is that we’ll never make it. We can eat, eat, eat, and we will continue to remain hungry. Then, one day, in weary desperation, we may say to ourselves, “Okay, I want to find a food source that satisfies me.” This is the real spiritual process; searching for true food, the bread of life, the bread that gives life.
And in this process of revering life, of feeling wonder at the beauty of life, I too went in search of life, to find this food and stop being a hungry person who is never full. It is one of the wonders I have discovered.
Q: For you, what is the best way to fill this void?
It’s a full-body dive inside. Christian spirituality is often associated with religion, and I can testify from my own experience that one can live a true Christian spirituality without being religious. In everything I read, including the Bible, I see that the truth, life, God … everything is within us.
And since it’s within us, we have to dive inside. I want to meet this life, meet this presence, because when I meet it, I have direct experience. And the direct experience does not need religious dogma or ceremony; it is pure. That’s what I am looking for and that’s what I encourage you to do. Dive inside.
And since it’s within us, we have to dive inside.
I want to meet this life, meet this presence,
because when I meet it, I have direct experience.
That’s what I am looking for and that’s
what I encourage you to do. Dive inside.
To come back to the Bible, which I often quote, I have several friends who have been interested in the Hebrew version, because Hebrew is very refined in terms of subtleties. And when Abraham, the great patriarch of all monotheistic religions, receives God’s message, God says to him, “Lekh lekha” (pronounce ler lera), which means in Hebrew, “Turn inwards. Go inside yourself.” Isn’t that what all oriental meditative practices offer?
So why oppose spiritual practices when the religious texts say to go inside yourself? Go to life. And the moment you meet life, that day you are enlightened. Then there is no more religion, no more culture, no more separation. You love your neighbor as yourself; you experience the direct encounter with the other, with the living. This is what I aspire to, because divisions are sources of discord, violence and separation.
To be continued. In the third part of this interview, Thierry Casasnovas speaks about his experience of fasting and the practical aspects of fasting.