THE CAUSE AND THE REMEDY
(By kind permission of the Mother, Shri Aurobindo, Ashram, Pondichery. The Text is based on a talk given by the Mother to a class of young children of the Ashram).
ILLNESS, I have said, always without exception means a disturbance of equilibrium. Though this may be of different kinds, I speak for the present in relation to the physical body alone; I will refrain from speaking about diseases due to vital and mental causes. We shall have occasion to refer to them later on. Today I speak only of this poor little body. I repeat all illnesses whatsoever, even the accidents, arise from loss of equilibrium. In other words, if all the organs, all the parts and all the elements of your body are in harmony with each other and with the environment around you, you are in perfect health.
If, however, a slight displacement of equilibrium occurs anywhere, you immediately attract an illness, trivial or serious; or even an accident happens to you. In the latter case, the cause can always be referred to a subtle inner loss of equilibrium. That is to say, if you are to go about and do anything without an accident, you must possess a threefold equilibrium of mental, vital and physical being; an equilibrium not only within each one of them, but between the three also.
Now if you do a little bit of mathematics you will see the number of possible combinations are almost innumerable. So you will understand that the causes of illness are countless and countless likewise the causes of accidents.
Let us try to classify diseases for a little better understanding. From the standpoint of the body, there are two kinds of disturbances, functional and organic. Organic means when an organ or organs are affected with structural changes in them. The organs of the body, you know, are parts that do a specialised work, as the Heart, Lungs, Stomach, Kidneys, Bones etc. An organ may be in disequilibrium when it is badly built, deformed, wounded or disabled; we say that it is ill, or diseased.
But your organ or organs may be perfectly all right as regards form and structure and yet may not do their work properly; the organ is ill and there is functional disequilibrium. For example, you have a splendid stomach, but suddenly something happens to it and it does not function as it should. Your body as a whole may, without any notice perhaps, begin to feel uneasy; there is a functional disequilibrium here which is not an organic one. Usually functional diseases due only to functional disequilibrium are cured more quickly than the organic, which may be very serious, and even grave in certain cases.
Thus if you have a knowledge of your body and are accustomed to inner observation, not a mental speculation which will lead only to psychoneurosis, you can easily find out the kind of unbalance and illness you suffer from, whether it is organic or functional. Most often when one is young and leads a normal life, the disequilibrium is functional. It is usually those people living in adverse circumstances and having no inner life, that carry the unbalance, even before birth, in a subtle form. They are difficult to cure, but not impossible I must add. for there is nothing fundamentally incurable.
Now with regard to the causes. They are innumerable as I have already said; there are inner or personal causes and there are external causes. These are the two broad categories of the causes. Now about the internal causes. I have told you, you have different organs like the heart, lungs, brain, intestines, liver etc. If each of these fulfills its task and functions normally, and all move together harmoniously as a unified team, in that case you enjoy perfect health. But note how complicated the business is if you were to think of it in order to have it done, I am afraid it would not work at all; but fortunately it does not depend upon your thinking.
Supposing, however, one of them, for some reason, would not work with the required energy and at the right time and went on some sort of strike, then do not think that the particular element only would be ailing but all the others, the whole system would suffer in consequence. In other words, you will fall completely ill. If, in addition, there happens to be an unbalance, an upsetting in your vital being, a disappointment, a too violent emotion, high passion, something that disturbs your vital, then illness turns more serious and complicated. That is not the end of the story. For your mind, the mental being, can come and join in the fray.
It may bring wild dark thoughts, you may begin to think of terrible happenings, make catastrophic formations, then there is no way out. You definitely and seriously fall ill. You now see the complication of it all. A small thing going wrong somewhere can bring about through an inner contagion a very serious result. Therefore the important thing is to check it immediately. You must be inwardly conscious, conscious of the functioning of the organs: take note of the one which is not behaving well and teach it to correct itself. For you must remember that the organs are to be taught as children are taught their lesions.
Take again a simple example, your heart begins to beat violently (palpitation), you tell it immediately to calm and quiet itself, it is doing what it should not do; and in order to help it to regain its normal rhythm you take long deep breaths in a regular and rhythmic movement, that is to say, the lungs becomes the mentor and teaches the heart to behave properly. On the contrary, if you add to it your mental or vital part, a simple functional thing, in time, may become a serious disturbance. Then we said that there might be a lack of balance between the different parts, a disagreement with regard to their functioning. That means an inner conflict. It is a domestic feud. You know the story of Aesop?
The quarrel between the stomach and other limbs; One organ, for example, needs rest, another demands activity. They fight with each other. How to resolve the difficulty? You have to find out some middle term between the two to make them agree. Now if you add the vital and the mental to the purely physical, the field of the quarrel and the occasions for it increase immeasurably. I do not speak of the pure or speculative mind nor of the independent or vital proper, but the vital in the physical, the mental in the physical – the last one is particularly troublesome; for it is all the while active, terribly busy, and never thinks of stopping.
Now if there is a dispute among these three, if one wants a thing, another does not want, then your inner being becomes a battlefield, and there is a great turmoil within. That may bring you fever, at least much uneasiness and loss of self – control. Indeed the illness of the body means this trepidation and agitation, this shaking which goes on increasing and which you find difficult to check and control. But then you must know what is the dispute about and the reason, and bring harmony to the quarrelling parties.
There is another type of functional disturbance. You have within you an aspiration. I now speak of people who are doing yoga, at least who know what the spiritual life is like and try to follow the path. You have in you a part, either in the mind or in the vital or even sometimes in the physical that has understood, and has the aspiration and possesses the necessary disposition; it received the force and easily makes progress.
There may be other parts however that will not or cannot understand, which is rather a bad sign; others again that have the will but not the capacity to change, they are not ready yet. There is something that stands up in the way and does not move. That brings about a serious unbalance and generally it shows itself in an illness, because of the tension in you caused by the thing that cannot or will not progress, and that clings to you and does not want to move.
Or the situation may be slightly different, in a sense even somewhat opposite. That is to say, your whole being goes forward, progresses, in a continuously growing harmony and balance. Your progress is truly remarkable and all is all right. Suddenly there is a slip and you fall ill, for no reason whatsoever, you declare. You are surprised, you say to yourself: “How is it? I was in such a good state and now I am ill!” Well, the reason is you are not sufficiently conscious of yourself. There was in you a part, a small part may be, which did not want to move.
Usually it is something in the vital, sometimes it is a small formation in the physical mind which does not agree to follow. Sometimes it is simply an element in the body, an inertia which has no intention of moving, which remains as it is and asks things to remain as they are. This it is that holds back, separates itself and stands behind willfully and, it seems, naturally. A very little thing like this can produce an unbalance sufficient to make you ill. You grumble and say: “It is a pity, I was going on so well, God is not kind or just. He ought to have stopped from falling ill when I was making such good progress.” So this is that.
Now, another thing. Yoga you can do only in the measure of your capacity. You are told to open yourself and receive the force, to have faith and good will and you will be protected. In fact you you bathed with the consciousness, the force and the protection. You receive all that in the measure of the faith you have and open yourself to them and they help you to be in good health, to reject the small inner disturbances when these do happen, to re – establish the order, to protect you from the small attacks and accidents that seek to upset the balance.
But if you have in your being somewhere, in your vital or in your mind, several parts or even in one part some incapacity to receive the force that comes down, and acts as a grain of sand in a machinery. You have seen a fine machine working so beautifully, so perfectly ? Now put just a pinch or even a grain of sand into it, immediately all on a sudden the machine goes wrong and stops. Well, a slight lack of receptivity somewhere, something that is unable to accept or hold the force, something shut up, is like a dark point in you, a little thing hard like stone which the force cannot penetrate, which refuses, either cannot or will not change, and that immediately brings about the loss of equilibrium.
You see there are so many reasons that combine, sometimes in an extraordinary degree of complexity to produce an illness. Modern medicine lays a great stress on microbic infection and the dictum is to kill the microbes and the disease will be cured and it is so in many cases, but for us, illness, as I say, has other deeper causes. It is an expression of a disorder of an inner subtler kind. If you cannot reach and touch that you cannot be free from illness or prevent it from recurring. For that one needs a profound occult knowledge, a considerable knowledge of the inner working of each part of the being in its entirety.
Now let us come to be external causes. That brings in another element of complication. If you were in a perfectly harmonious environment, full of a faultless goodwill, then you have to find fault with yourself for all your mishaps. But the fact is that the difficulties inside are also found outside. You can to a certain extent establish a harmony within yourself, but you live in surroundings filled with disharmony. Unless you shut yourself up in an ivory tower, which is not only very difficult, but not always recommendable, you are obliged to receive what comes from outside and also to give out what you have in you. You breathe out and you breathe in. There is a constant give and take. Thus there occurs an intermixture.
In this world, one can say, all is contagious: for one lives in the midst of a net of ceaseless vibration. You give out vibrations to others, you receive vibration from others. And they are of infinite complexity. There are broadly speaking, the mental, vital, physical vibrations and also many other kinds. Even if there is not bad will in your environment, the give and take itself is contagious enough to produce untoward things. For example, there is an accident and you are a witness to it. When you observe, you absorb some vibrations and if you are oversensitive and have fear in addition, or even recoil (recoil or repulsion is only fear in another form, it is the moral expression of physical fear), you may have that reaction in you translated into a physical upsetting.
People say it is nervousness, and nervously, unbalanced persons alone are seriously affected. In reality. It is hypersensitivity of the vital and it does not mean inferiority in any sense. On the contrary as you progress spiritually the sensitiveness of the nerves also increases; and if your self – control also does not increase in the same proportion, anything may happen. But that is not the only factor you have to reckon with. For, to our misfortune, much ill – will exists in the world, beginning from the lesser, coming from ignorance and stupidity, to the greater that derives from wickedness and ending with the formidable one that belongs to the antidiving forces. All that is in the atmosphere. I do not say this to frighten you, for you know that you must fear nothing.
All the same this is how things are. It is these forces that attack you sometimes voluntarily sometimes involuntarily – involuntarily through other persons; others are attacked, they do not know it even and they pass on the illness. But there are voluntary or wilful attacks. The other day we spoke of mental formations and of wicked people who purposely make these formation to harm others. Now there are people who go a little further. There is an occult knowledge that is misdirected, perverted. It is called Black Magic. It is a thing which should not be touched. Unfortunately, there are people who touch it and deal in it through pure wickedness. Do not think that it is an illusion or a superstition. It is a real thing.
There are people who know how to do magic and do it and with their magic they obtain thoroughly detestable results. It is well understood that when one has protection, one is safe. But there is a “provided,” there is a condition which is to be complied with always, otherwise disagreeable things happen. So long as you have the full force of purity in you, you are inviolable; if someone does anything against you, it falls back upon him automatically, just as a tennis ball re – bounds towards you when you send it against a wall; it comes back sometimes with a redoubled force and the sinner is punished by his own sin.
But everything depends upon the person who is the object of attack, upon his force, his inner purity. I have come across many, very many cases of the kind. To resist the attack, you must become, as I have said, fighters of the vital, spiritual fighters in your vital. All who do yoga sincerely must become so, and when they can become they are quite safe. But one of the conditions enabling you to become such a fighter is that you must never have an evil will or an evil thought against anyone. For if you have a bad feeling, a bad will or a bad thought against people, you at once bring yourself down to their level and then you receive their blows.
Now, even if you do not go to this extreme limit, there are, much nearer, in the physical, in the terrestrial atmosphere a large number of small beings whom you do not see, because your sight is too limited, but who move about in your atmosphere. There are some who are very good and nice, others who are wicked. Mostly those entities are the offshoots of the disintegration of vital beings, of persons who have died and are on the way of gradual dissolution. Often they are seized by Asuric forces and used by them as their instruments for all kinds of mischief. There are, as I say, good fairies like the one that pulled at my sari to warn me that the milk I has left on the fire was boiling and I must go and see it did not overflow.
But all are not like that, many indulge in bad tricks and are never more happy than when men are in trouble. Very often they are behind accidents that happen to people. They get immense pleasure in the disorder and confusion following an accident. It not only amuses them but gives them their food. They draw sustenance from the human vitality thrown out of the body by emotion and excitement and all that. And further, these beings are not harmonious among themselves. They quarrel, they fight, they dash against each other, want to hit and destroy one another. And this is the origin of microbes.
Microbes are forces of disintegration, the living remnants, scattered bits of the vital passions and desires and hungers of dead people, taken possession of by the vital beings, asuric beings. Most of the microbes have behind them a bad will and this is what makes them so dangerous. Unless one knows the quality and the kind of the bad will behind and can act upon it, in 99 cases out of 100, one is unable to find the true and the total remedy.
The microbe is only the most material expression of some entity which is living, the embodiment in the most physical of a vital force. These microbes are around, you, within you and for years, still they do not make you sick. All on a sudden. however, you fall a victim to them. There must be then some other immediate and active cause. It is what I have said at the very beginning, a discord that has come about, an opening to the adverse force which is the origin and support to the microbes.
Now we know something of the causes of illness. We have next to see how to cure and then how to prevent. You might wonder how many people without occult knowledge or power, keep in good health, well, there is occult power working individually and universally, with or without your knowledge, that gives you the sustaining strength. Naturally the better way is to be conscious of it. When the body is ill, the usual method is to give it the conditions in which it may have the conviction that it cannot but be healthy: this is how it takes the resolution to become healthy and in fact, it is cured. But if your body has no will, no resolution to cure, whatever you do and however you try it will not cure.
I have known people who were cured in five minutes of an illness, considered very serious. And I have known people who had no fatal illness, but they stuck to their illness with such persistence that it did become fatal in the end: the body in these cases refused to give up the illness, would not be convinced that it could send away the illness. Teis is the most important thing. You must carefully look into yourself, search and find out the corner which, I must say, takes pleasure in being ill. You wonder! but there are many reasons for which one wishes to be ill. One likes to be ill out of spite, out of malice and rancour, out of despair.
It may begin by the slightest thin, a little vexation which makes you say, “you will see what happens, you will see the consequence of what he did to me, I am going to fall ill”. Of course, you do not speak out to yourself loudly like that, you would not pardon ourself for uttering such things. But there is somewhere some part in you which thinks or feels something like that. Now, the way to cure is, as I said, to discover the source of the disorder or disharmony, great or small. Then there are two things to do, either or both. First, as I said already, the disharmony creates in the being a kind of trepidation, a lack of peace; in the physical being, in the body it is translated as fever. The fever need not be an affection of the whole body, it may be only a localised disturbance.
Or you are simply agitated. The first thing to do then is to quiet oneself. to bring the peace and calm, the repose and a full confidence not necessarily into the entire body, but into the affected part. And then you can see the cause of disorder. Even if you cannot in the beginning spot the central cause, you can try to get something near to it, approximating it. And then you throw the light of consciousness, the spiritual force exerting a kind of pressure upon the source of the disturbance and you try to reestablish balance and normal functioning of the affected part. If it is receptive and does not offer any obstinate resistance, you can get cured in a few seconds. Of course, it is not always so simple and easy.