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What does Health really Mean?

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This article is based on a talk given by the author at SACAR, Pondicherry. It takes the reader from health and illness through life and death to the root question: what does health really mean and can we grow into it without any doctor.  This article goes beyond frameworks into a vast infinite space beyond

Integral Health, as I understand it, is the science of the Infinite. There are two perfect ways of discovering truth, whether it be biology, physics or anything else. Either dive deep, deep, deep into it — that is one movement which is taking place today. Go right into the heart of the thing, and discover the truth which resides in its core. Or, become vast, so vast, that the total movement, not just individual phenomena but the totality is seen. Then from that height or from that depth understand the whole.

If we look at the whole movement of things, we discover that each system of medicine is essentially a window glimpse of an infinite happening. And we observe just a proc­ess, a line of events, give it a name and formulate it, simply because the mind cannot observe the totality. Because we have observed just one strand of Nature, it is bound to be imperfect. Meaning thereby, what we need to discover is not a cure for the maladies of man but a cure for the malady called Man. So long as man is what he is, so long as he remains a limited, ego-bound, divided entity, any amount of medicine, whether of this system or that, is only palliative and not deeply curative of his suffering.

The process of creating illness

So what do we observe when we enter into the heart of vastness? We observe that there is a great movement of Nature going on. Nature is offering everything to the Lord, everything. She is trying to go up towards the source. And this movement is essentially evolutionary. Different parts of Nature however move at different speeds and some cast a shadow. Parts which are not ready for the pace that has been set, resist and grate. They cause all kinds of frictions and upheavals — cyclones, social pathologies, catastrophes etc. This is the root of the malady, i.e. the consciousness does not flow smoothly.

One can imagine a stone in a stream. It does not allow the stream to flow as smoothly as it could. So grooves form on the stone in dif­ferent patterns, or maybe the stone is just thrown aside if the cur­rent is very strong at that point. Thus it is with Nature’s forces (the stream) and the individual (stone) resistance. If we look care­fully there is a pattern in the whole thing. There is a universal pattern and an individual pattern. Also, this distortion which takes place due to different parts moving at different speeds, is first seen through an energy imbalance. So the energy imbalance is also only a reflection of another imbalance.

Later as the grooves deepen there is a little unease, a disease, and we observe a small tumour or diabetes, or suddenly we are told we have hypertension or even AIDS.

Just a few days back, I had a patient who was HIV positive, infected through her husband. She had to go through a lot of trauma resulting in depression. I spoke to her, “Look, everything is possible. You can cure yourself. Align yourself and observe the whole process going on.” She came out with something very interesting. I was trying to tell her that HIV positive does not mean that one has the disease. She said,

“But you know everybody keeps reminding me of AIDS. Every morning during their rounds, everyone, from the intern to the specialists ask me, ‘Are you feeling lethargic? Are you experiencing loss of appetite?’ etc. So I start feeling that yes, perhaps I am lethargic, perhaps I am suffering from AIDS. I am not just HIV positive.”

Now, look at this: we are not relieving disease, we are creating it! Disease and treatment have to become not disease-oriented but health-oriented. That is the shift. Instead of focusing so much on the problem, we can focus on the solution. And this applies to all walks of life.

The shift from illness to health

So Integral Health is something about shifting the whole needle to­wards health. What does that mean?

Archimedes said,

“Give me a small place outside the earth and a handle — I will move the earth.”

In a sense this applies at other levels too. We see it happening at the physical level in the field of communications. Till now we were tapping into means of communication that were only available on the physical earth. When we went into space, in a second the world became one. This is the science of the Infinite: you enter into space and have immense possi­bilities of working upon earth. It is a paradox.

Similarly, for human nature, as long as we try to study one of its parts through another i.e., the mind through analysis or the vital through emotions, we will not succeed or only get temporary imperfect relief. This is where a new science steps in.

Sri Aurobindo writes in Savitri,

“A consciousness stands behind the brute machine.”

There is a consciousness behind all these phenomena which has the power to remove itself, the power to detach itself from the phenomena and thereby work upon them much better. It is possible for human consciousness, to disengage itself from the entire process and observe for example that disease and death are not opposites of life, but processes of life.

Life is evolving, and in the process it throws up the phenomena of disease that keep telling us,

“Look, here is an imperfection!”

Sri Aurobindo has beautifully said that pain is a reminder that there is ignorance. If anyone says, “Continue to remain with your desires and ego yet I will cure you,” he is telling a lie. There can be no cure. There may be suppression of symptoms, there may be a temporary elimination of suffering, but the disease will return. This is because of a very simple reason. As long as we are limited, ego bound, we cannot let go. In a part of us we cling to the illness. ‘I don’t want to move further. I have certain ideas which I must hold onto, if I am to be Me’. The same thing happens at the level of emotions. When there is a loss, when there is a tragedy, I must react with grief. That is a kind of formation.

So we hold on to that emotion and don’t want to let go. But there is a current wanting to move us forward.

The same thing applies to the level of the body and our vital energy. They are inherent with millennia of conditioning. The body is condi­tioned to make certain responses, there is a shrinking of the moment, let us say, one sees a snake. When it shrinks there is a whole movement which is distorted. This response is a problem because it is a separative response. If a breach is made, I succumb. So what would be the right response?

Or what is the ideal state towards which we must move? As long as the body feels separate from the whole, there will be suffering, death and illness. What does this mean when we talk about it in terms of the most concrete physical phenomena? What it means is that, if a bacil­lus or a virus enters my system, I react as a separate self. ‘This is me, that is a virus.’ And there is a whole chain of events. I want to devour the virus but the paradox is that may be the virus devours me. This is the irony of man. With all his intelligence, hi-tech equipment, time and money he brings out a drug. It is a very painstaking task. After years an antibacterial, antibiotic or antiviral comes to the market and we start using it. But the small virus with no money, no technical labour, within 6 months discovers a cure to the antibiotic. It happens. It is happening every day and we seem to be knocking at the wrong doors. So the mechanics of Nature are that the man who tries to outsmart and conquer disease, cannot even conquer the most primitive organism, a ‘virus’.

If one’s body is built on oneness, even when a bacillus or virus enters, it will undergo a process of synthesis. That is what is meant by building the body on the principle of oneness. It does not shun and reject. It accepts, or rather, whatever enters it is automatically transformed. This is the process towards which we are moving in this millennium. This is what usually happens within the bacillus on repeated contact with an antibiotic.

Perhaps in no age has mankind been bombarded with so many chemicals, including our medicines. Now by this very chemical bombardment and, by this exposure to everything possible in the world, perhaps the body is being stimulated to bring out its original strength, harmony and oneness, which alone can effectuate a change. The key does not lie outside. If any physician believes that he can provide that key, he is perhaps living in a grand illusion. The physician is just a catalyst, the key is inside us — and sometimes we see it. The key is deep within our soul. Standing aloof from the movements of Nature, and working upon them stationed here, we can realign the elements, giving them the right turn, which as the Vedas say “makes the crooked straight”. Then everything drops down, all the doshas, all drop away when the touch of the soul is upon our lives. Perhaps that is the cure.

The key

Let me close with some lines from Savitri,

“Thou thinkest term and end for thee are not
but though thy pride is great thou hast forgot
the sphinx that waits for thee beside the way
All questions thou mayst answer
But one day her question shall await thee.”

This is the question Nature is asking us through every disease.

“So if thou wouldst live
Answer first this one thing
Who art thou in this dungeon labouring?”

So, this is what we need to answer. Not what is the cure but who is searching for the cure. And I think in that answer lies the solution to the malady called man.

  • http://Website Parashar Dwivedi

    Wonderful and unique article.

  • http://Website Nileen

    Most inspiring. I have gained strength and self-belief from reading this lovely article. Sadly, there are not many genuine healers among doctors in India today. Many are only too happy to earn as much as possible.