Is there any point to disease?

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Is there any point to disease?

Post by anna »

I remember many years ago coming across the "new age" belief that when someone was ill, that they "brought the disease upon themselves". I found that to be an extraordinarily non-compassionate point of view, not to mention judgmental, and I still do. In fact, I think it is an arrogant and misguided belief. (Interestingly, the majority of folks who espouse that belief are usually in the peak of health - easy to say when we feel fine, not so easy to say when we are in the depths of despair from disease.)

On the other hand, there is some utility to disease, in that, it can be perceived to be a call to re-evaluate one's life, to question "why this has happened to me", and to make appropriate changes therefore. From that point of view, disease does have a point, but only if it prods the individual who is suffering to ask those questions, to examine her life and see where it might be improved. I can recount numerous individuals I have known, and still know, who experience disease after disease, only to pick up after it subsides where they left off, making no changes, asking no questions, continuing down the same path without having gained anything from the experience except suffering. The most classic case of this is someone who contracts cancer, and insists on making no changes in their routine in the belief that somehow, this is a wise approach to a crucial disease. Certainly, in old age, I would consider that eventuality a call to prepare for something beyond what I am presently doing, to prepare for peaceful dying, instead of denying it and living "life as usual". This of course applies only to those of us who are not prepared to die - the more enlightened of us are already aware of the inconsequence of dying, and thus DO live their life as though they were dying every moment, because of this understanding. But I speak to the more worldly of us, who do not recognize sign-posts along the way, and regret later that they failed to take notice and do something about it.

Years ago when I had an encounter with a debilitating condition, and one which disallowed much activity, and forced me to remain somewhat immobile, my initial reaction was outrage and longing for "what I used to be able to do". The suffering and struggle this presented to me was enormous, and in that respect, I did bring that suffering upon myself, by virtue of my resistance to the event. Indeed, only when I finally gave up fighting it, did I begin to heal. As for the disease itself, I don't know what caused it for sure, nor does it matter. What mattered was how I used it, how I both failed to use it, and how I eventually did use it to my benefit.

What I finally did do was take the immobility as an opportunity to delve within, to ask myself what I was, and where I was going, something I probably would not have done had I been in perfect health, so it was, in the end, enormously beneficial for me.

It is unfortunate that many religious groups, including main line, and not so main line, seem to consider disease to be some kind of failure, some kind of evidence of imperfection. Indeed, many groups' basic belief structures are based on a reach for "perfection" or "superman" type of existence, which implies that there is something "wrong" with disease. Indeed, even Jesus was not allowed to die, but instead had to survive the crucifixion in order to fulfill human-kind's idea of what a perfected human being (in this case, a God incarnate) does. I am not so sure that is a useful perspective. First of all, it is unrealisitic, secondly, it marginalizes the majority, indeed, almost all, of humanity - since we all eventually die, and most of us of some kind of disease. All the saints die, and most of them of horrendous diseases. I do not understand the illogic of the human brain that elevates these saints to some kind of state of perfection, while at the same time, does not reconcile that with their very human suffering and deaths. (If a saint can get sick, then so can a mere human being, without any sense of less than perfection or failure, no?!) But, of course, just because the human animal claims to be a rational creature, does not necessarily make it so! :oops:
Last edited by anna on July 26th, 2005, 11:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Bhakti »

In "Consider This" on the Zoo Fence website, I was just rereading "Why Do Bad Things . . . Happen to Good People?" There are remarkable passsages that echo what Anna has said. These passages could also be posted in the forum subject "Who said this?"

Thus, part of the reason the Teachers remain unpreturbed in the face of the very events that drive us through the roof is that their mind works for them, and not the other way around. That is, in those situations where our minds race every which way, generating one distressing thought after another, denying us a moment's peace or a night's sleep, wreaking havoc on our digestive process, and whittling away at our immune system theirs sits quietly. Their mind is a servant; our minds are masters. Our minds are always thinking about something; never silent. Their mind is instructed to think when it's appropriate; otherwise, to keep still.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Our answer to that question has the power, on the one hand, to lock us into having to ask it over and over again, and on the other, to liberate us from it forever. . . . In the end, perhaps it is not that bad things happen to good people. Rather, it is that things happen. Period. And whether or not we perceive them as good or bad is determinded not by what they are, but by who we think we are.

Ave atque Blessings, Bhakti
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Post by Andavane »

The following quote swam into focus as I read this thread.
For me, it speaks volumes.

" 'Adversity adds uncertainty to the realisation of the goal.
Adversity opens the door to doubts bringing about unfocussed thought'.

Is this right attitude?


Knock at the door of seeming adversity...

Meet the doubts head on...

Adversity is the proving ground of the mature mind; ultimately it is the catalyst for the final breakthrough.


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Post by Speculum »

In the words of the wondrous Nisargadatta, Welcome the unexpected.