Germs and Viruses
Disease is needlessly prolonged & ends in death oftener than is inevitable, because the mind of the patient supports & dwells upon the disease of his body.
Medical Science has been more a curse to mankind than a blessing. It has broken the force of epidemics and unveiled a marvellous surgery; but, also, it has weakened the natural health of man and multiplied individual diseases; it has implanted fear and dependence in the mind and body; it has taught our health to repose not on natural soundness but a rickety & distasteful crutch compact from the mineral and vegetable kingdoms.
387) The doctor aims a drug at a disease; sometimes it hits, sometimes misses. The misses are left out of account, the hits treasured up, reckoned and systematised into a science.
We laugh at the savage for his faith in the medicine man; but how are the civilised less superstitious who have faith in the doctors? The savage finds that when a certain incantation is repeated, he often recovers from a certain disease; he believes. The civilised patient finds that when he doses himself according to a certain prescription, he often recovers from a certain disease; he believes. Where is the difference?
389) The north-country Indian herdsman, attacked by fever, sits in the chill stream of a river for an hour or more & rises up free & healthy. If the educated man did the same, he would perish, not because the same remedy in its nature kills one & cures another, but because our bodies have been fatally indoctrinated by the mind into false habits.
It is not the medicine that cures so much as the patient’s faith in the doctor and the medicine. Both are a clumsy substitute for the natural faith in one’s own self-power which they have themselves destroyed.
The healthiest ages of mankind were those in which there were the fewest material remedies.
The most robust and healthy race left on earth were the African savages; but how long can they so remain after their physical consciousness has been contaminated by the mental aberrations of the civilised?
We ought to use the divine health in us to cure and prevent diseases; but Galen and Hippocrates & their tribe have given us instead an armoury of drugs and a barbarous Latin hocus-pocus as our physical gospel.
Medical Science is well-meaning and its practitioners often benevolent and not seldom self-sacrificing; but when did the well-meaning of the ignorant save them from harm-doing?
If all remedies were really and in themselves efficacious and all medical theories sound, how would that console us for our lost natural health and vitality? The upas-tree is sound in all its parts, but it is still an upas-tree.
The spirit within us is the only all-efficient doctor and submission of the body to it the one true panacea.
God within is infinite and self-fulfilling Will. Unappalled by the fear of death, canst thou leave to Him, not as an experiment, with a calm & entire faith thy ailments? Thou shalt find in the end that He exceeds the skill of a million doctors.
Health protected by twenty thousand precautions is the gospel of the doctor; but it is not God’s evangel for the body, nor Nature’s.
Man was once naturally healthy and could revert to that primal condition if he were suffered; but Medical Science pursues our body with an innumerable pack of drugs and assails the imagination with ravening hordes of microbes.
I would rather die and have done with it than spend life in defending myself against a phantasmal siege of microbes. If that is to be barbarous and unenlightened, I embrace gladly my Cimmerian darkness.
401) Surgeons save & cure by cutting and maiming. Why not rather seek to discover Nature’s direct all-powerful remedies?
It should take long for self-cure to replace medicine, because of the fear, self-distrust and unnatural physical reliance on drugs which Medical Science has taught to our minds & bodies & made our second nature.
Medicine is necessary for our bodies in disease only because our bodies have learned the art of not getting well without medicines. Even so, one sees often that the moment Nature chooses for recovery is that in which the life is abandoned as hopeless by the doctors.
Distrust of the curative power within us was our physical fall from Paradise. Medical Science and a bad heredity are the two angels of God who stand at the gates to forbid our return and reentry.
Medical Science to the human body is like a great Power which enfeebles a smaller State by its protection or like a benevolent robber who knocks his victim flat and riddles him with wounds in order that he may devote his life to healing & serving the shattered body.
Drugs often cure the body when they do not merely trouble or poison it, but only if their physical attack on the disease is supported by the force of the spirit; if that force can be made to work freely, drugs are at once superfluous.
Sri Aurobindo, Essays Divine and Human: Karma
***Process of illnessThey first weaken or break through the nervous envelope, the aura. If that is strong and whole, a thousand million germs will not be able to do anything to you. The envelope pierced, they attack the subconscient mind in the body, sometimes also the vital mind or mind proper—prepare the illness by fear or thought of illness.
The doctors themselves said that in influenza or cholera in the Far East 90 per cent got ill through fear. Nothing to take away the resistance like fear. But still the subconscient is the main thing.
If the contrary Force is strong in the body, one can move in the midst of plague and cholera and never get contaminated. Plague too, rats dying all around, people passing into Hades. I have seen that myself in Baroda.
Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga - IV: Illness and Health
***Weird ran the road which like fear hastening
Towards that of which it has most terror, passed.. ||136.23||
Collective suggestion of disease—attacks from adverse forcesFor three things one should be on one’s guard. One is the collective suggestion of “disease”—“disease” is something that doubtless exists, in the sense that there are obviously adverse forces at work trying to disorganize and delay the work; but, for the individual, those so-called diseases… Outwardly they are based on the idea (they call it “knowledge”), on the knowledge of microbes, germs and so on, but that’s taking things upside down, heels over head, because those microbes and germs and all those things are EFFECTS, not causes.
It’s the effect of a combination of three things: bad will (at the worst, a refusal to follow the movement), a more or less total bad will; an ignorance of the laws and their consequences, that is, the causes and effects (a complete ignorance); and, of course, a form of inertia—it’s all a form of inertia, but the greatest form of inertia is the incapacity to receive and respond. These three things combined are what creates diseases and so on, and the final effect—death. That is, the disintegration of created harmony.
But from the collective point of view, the point of view of collective influence, it’s the other way around; in other words, that’s what is taken to be the “cause” of disorders: instead of being the effect, it’s the cause—which is absurd.
And then, from the point of view of the transformation of the cells and the organism, this collective influence is a state like a bath in which you are plunged, and when people wanted to escape from it, they would cut themselves off: they tried to isolate themselves. The result is that they would leave the material zone, because it’s impossible to be like this (gesture as in a shell), like something without any connection with the whole. So they would renounce life.
In the relationship with the whole, there are roughly three… we might call them “means of defense,” or attitudes one can take. The attitude of isolation, which can’t be total unless you withdraw, and which is only very relatively effective. The attitude of attack: a power fighting and repulsing adversaries (that has a big drawback which is that if you use forces on the same plane, they are ineffective, or very relatively effective; and if it’s supreme forces, then… the effect is rather catastrophic: it would amount to destroying in order to conquer, which is certainly not the Supreme’s intention). And finally, there is the way of the contagion of the higher Force, but that implies what expresses itself here as time. That is the attitude which has been adopted. But it implies time—which is why ages go by.
The result is certain, with the least amount of damage. But that least amount is still quite considerable.
And for the human consciousness, it takes long. But as you remarked just before, it’s pretty. It feels like something going like this (gesture like a tide spreading out), very slowly for the human consciousness, certainly, but quite implacable towards resistances, and so sov-er-eign-ly sure of its victory…. That’s pretty. And with the least amount of damage, undeniably. Not to mention that what looks like “damage” may only be, seen in the whole, a means of higher realization.
The Mother, Mother’s Agenda — 1968: March 2, 1968
***The phenomenon of contagionIt was almost a disappointment for these cells, which thought they were very ardent (!) and have had to realize that that semi-drowsiness was entirely responsible for all that’s habitually called “illnesses”—but I don’t believe in “illnesses” anymore.
I believe in them less and less. Everything that comes is a particular form of disorder, resistance, incomprehension or incapacity—it all belongs to the domain of resistance. And there isn’t really a deliberate resistance , I mean, what’s conventionally called bad will (I hope this is true! If there is any, they haven’t become aware of it yet), but those things come as keen indications of the different points , so it results in what’s called pains, or a sense of disorder, or a discomfort. (A discomfort, that is to say, a sense of disorder or disharmony, is much harder to bear than a sharp pain, much harder; it’s like something that starts grating and gets stuck and can’t get back into place.) All that, in the ordinary consciousness or the ordinary human view, is what people call “illnesses.”
There only remains the phenomenon of contagion (contagion of viruses or germs), but there, experience shows that phenomena of psychological disorder—all psychological disorders—appear to be, according to experience, of the same nature as the contagion of a contagious disease and of all viruses and germs (such as the plague, cholera and so on). There are psychological contagions of psychological states: states of revolt or violence, of anger AND DEPRESSION, are contagious in the same manner, it’s a similar phenomenon. Therefore, since it’s a similar phenomenon, it can be mastered. It’s simply a question of words: we call them “illnesses” (but these can also be called illnesses) or we can call them any name we like, it’s a question of words, that’s all. But it’s similar, it’s the same thing: it’s an opening to disorder or an opening to revolt. We can call it what we like. Only, it’s in a different field of vibrations. But the character is identical.
The Mother, Mother’s Agenda — 1966: August 3, 1966
***The decisive moment when body decides not to catch an epidemicDuring the flu epidemic, for example, I spent every day in the midst of people who were germ carriers. And one day, I clearly felt that the body had decided not to catch this flu. It asserted its autonomy.
You see, it was not a question of the higher Will deciding, no. It didn’t take place in the highest consciousness: the body itself decided. When you are way above in your consciousness, you see things, you know things; but in actual fact, once you descend again into matter, it is like water running through sand. In this respect, things have changed, the body has a DIRECT power, independent of any outer intervention. Even though it is barely visible, I consider this to be a very important result.
And this new vibration in the body has allowed me to understand the mechanism of the transformation. It is not something that comes from a higher Will, not a higher consciousness that imposes itself upon the body: it is the body itself awakening in its cells, a freedom of the cells themselves, an absolutely new vibration that sets disorders right—even disorders that existed prior to the supramental manifestation.
The Mother, Mother’s Agenda — 1951-1960: October 17, 1957
***Viruses are ill willThe doctors would say it was a mass of germs or microbes or viruses (or God knows what), but it was vital ill will—vital malice—but with a coating material enough to act directly (Mother strikes): it was instantaneous, you know, no need of incubation! Instantaneous, like a fiery sword ripping open your stomach—charming.
The Mother, Mother’s Agenda — 1963: October 26, 1963
***Good MicrobesMother passes on to another question: illnesses. During the talk in 1929 someone asked whether illnesses were not due to microbes rather than to “adverse forces” or to fluctuations of yoga. Mother answered:
“Where does Yoga begin and where does it end? Is not the whole of your life Yoga? The possibilities of illness are always there in your body and around you; you carry within you or there swarm about you the microbes and germs of every disease. How is it that all of a sudden you succumb to an illness which you did not have for years? You will say it is due to a ‘depression of the vital force’. But from where does the depression come? It comes from some disharmony in the being, from a lack of receptivity to the divine forces.
When you cut yourself off from the energy and light that sustain you, then there is this depression, there is created what medical science calls a ‘favourable ground’ and something takes advantage of it. It is doubt, gloominess, lack of confidence, a selfish turning back upon yourself that cuts you off from the light and divine energy and gives the attack this advantage. It is this that is the cause of your falling ill and not microbes.”
Questions and Answers 1929 (19 May)
One thing that is now beginning to be recognised by everyone, even by the medical corps, is that hygienic measures, for example, are effective only to the extent that one has confidence in them. Take the case of an epidemic. Many years ago we had a cholera epidemic here—it was bad—but the chief medical officer of the hospital was an energetic man: he decided to vaccinate everybody. When he discharged the vaccinated men, he would tell them, “Now you are vaccinated and nothing will happen to you, but if you were not vaccinated you would be sure to die!” He told them this with great authority. Generally such an epidemic lasts a long time and it is difficult to arrest it, but in some fifteen days, I think, this doctor succeeded in checking it; in any case, it was done miraculously fast. But he knew very well that the best effect of his vaccination was the confidence it gave to people.
Now, quite recently, they have found something else and I consider it wonderful. They have discovered that for every disease there is a microbe that cures it (call it a microbe if you like, anyway, some sort of germ). But what is so extraordinary is that this “microbe” is extremely contagious, even more contagious than the microbe of the disease. And it generally develops under two conditions: in those who have a sort of natural good humour and energy and in those who have a strong will to get well! Suddenly they catch the “microbe” and are cured. And what is wonderful is that if there is one who is cured in an epidemic, three more recover immediately. And this “microbe” is found in all who are cured.
But I am going to tell you something: what people take to be a microbe is simply the materialisation of a vibration or a will from another world. When I learned of these medical discoveries, I said to myself, “Truly, science is making progress.” One might almost say with greater reason, “Matter is progressing,” it is becoming more and more receptive to a higher will. And what is translated in their science as “microbes” will be perceived, if one goes to the root of things, as simply a vibratory mode; and this vibratory mode is the material translation of a higher will. If you can bring this force or this will, this power, this vibration (call it what you will) into certain given circumstances, not only will it act in you, but also through contagion around you.
During the talk in 1929, a disciple asked why we drank filtered water since we did not believe in microbes here. Mother answered:
“Is any one of you pure and strong enough not to be affected by suggestions? If you drink unfiltered water and think, ‘Now I am drinking impure water’, you have every chance of falling sick. And even though such suggestions may not enter through the conscious mind, the whole of your subconscious is there, almost helplessly open to any kind of suggestion…. The normal human condition is a state filled with apprehensions and fears; if you observe your mind deeply for ten minutes, you will find that for nine out of the ten it is full of fears….
And even if by discipline and effort you have liberated your mind and your vital of apprehension and fear, it is more difficult to convince the body.”
Questions and Answers 1929 (19 May)
Why is it so difficult to convince the body, when one has succeeded in liberating oneself mentally and vitally?
Because in the large majority of men, the body receives its inspirations from the subconscient, it is under the influence of the subconscient. All the fears driven out from the active consciousness go and take refuge there and then, naturally, they have to be chased out from the subconscient and uprooted from there.
The Mother, Questions and Answers (1950 - 1951): 14 March 1951
***Questions and Answers on illnesses, hostile forces, germs, sanitation and healthWhat are physical ailments? Are they attacks by the hostile forces from outside?
There are two factors that have to be considered in the matter. There is what comes from outside and there is what comes from your inner condition. Your inner condition becomes a cause of illness when there is a resistance or revolt in it or when there is some part in you that does not respond to the protection; or even there may be something there that almost willingly and wilfully calls in the adverse forces. It is enough if there is a slight movement of this kind in you; the hostile forces are at once upon you and their attack takes often the form of illness.
But are not illnesses sometimes the result of microbes and not a part of the movement of the Yoga?
Where does Yoga begin and where does it end? Is not the whole of your life Yoga? The possibilities of illness are always there in your body and around you; you carry within you or there swarm about you the microbes and germs of every disease.
How is it that all of a sudden you succumb to an illness which you did not have for years? You will say it is due to a “depression of the vital force”. But from where does the depression come? It comes from some disharmony in the being, from a lack of receptivity to the divine forces. When you cut yourself off from the energy and light that sustain you, then there is this depression, there is created what medical science calls a “favourable ground” and something takes advantage of it. It is doubt, gloominess, lack of confidence, a selfish turning back upon yourself that cuts you off from the light and divine energy and gives the attack this advantage. It is this that is the cause of your falling ill and not microbes.
But has it not been found that by improved sanitation the health of the average citizen improves?
Medicine and sanitation are indispensable in the ordinary life, but I am not speaking now of the average citizen, I am speaking of those who do Yoga. Still there is this disadvantage of sanitation that while you diminish the chances of catching an illness, you diminish also your natural power of resistance. Attendants in hospitals, who are always washing with disinfectants, find that their hands become more easily infected and are much more susceptible than the hands of others.
There are people, on the contrary, who know nothing of hygiene and do the most insanitary things and yet remain immune. Their very ignorance helps them because it shuts them to the suggestions that come with medical knowledge. On the other hand, your belief in the sanitary precautions you take helps them to work. For your thought is, “Now I am disinfected and safe”, and to that extent it makes you safe.
But why then are we to take sanitary precautions such as drinking only filtered water?
Is any one of you pure and strong enough not to be affected by suggestions?
If you drink unfiltered water and think, “Now I am drinking impure water”, you have every chance of falling sick. And even though such suggestions may not enter through the conscious mind, the whole of your subconscious is there, almost helplessly open to take any kind of suggestion. In life it is the action of the subconscious that has the larger share and it acts a hundred times more powerfully than the conscious parts.
The normal human condition is a state filled with apprehensions and fears; if you observe your mind deeply for ten minutes, you will find that for nine out of ten it is full of fears—it carries in it fear about many things, big and small, near and far, seen and unseen, and though you do not usually take conscious notice of it, it is there all the same. To be free from all fear can come only by steady effort and discipline.
And even if by discipline and effort you have liberated your mind and your vital of apprehension and fear, it is more difficult to convince the body. But that too must be done. Once you enter the path of Yoga you must get rid of all fears—the fears of your mind, the fears of your vital, the fears of your body which are lodged in its very cells. One of the uses of the blows and knocks you receive on the path of Yoga is to rid you of all fear.
The causes of your fears leap on you again and again, until you can stand before them free and indifferent, untouched and pure. One has a fear of the sea, another fear of fire. The latter will find, it may be, that he has to face conflagration after conflagration till he is so trained that not a cell of his body quivers. That of which you have horror comes repeatedly till the horror is gone. One who seeks the transformation and is a follower of the Path, must become through and through fearless, not to be touched or shaken by anything whatever in any part of his nature.
The Mother, Questions and Answers (1929 - 1931): 19 May 1929
***“There are two factors that have to be considered in the matter . There is what comes from outside and there is what comes from your inner condition. Your inner condition becomes a cause of illness when there is a resistance or revolt in it or when there is some part in you that does not respond to the protection; or even there may be something there that almost willingly and wilfully calls in the adverse forces. It is enough if there is a slight movement of this kind in you; the hostile forces are at once upon you and their attack takes often the form of illness.”
Questions and Answers 1929-1931 (19 May 1929)
“Some part in you that does not respond to the protection.” What does this mean, Mother?
I have already explained it to you. What is it that you do not understand?
I have understood the sense of the words, but I do not understand why it is so.
Because I said “some part of the being”?
You understand very well, don’t you, what “being under protection” means? You understand also “going out of the protection”? If you do something contrary, for example, if you are under the protection of the Divine and for a moment you have a thought of doubt or ill-will or revolt, immediately you go out of the protection. So the protection acts around you to prevent adverse forces from coming upon you or an accident from happening, that is to say, even if you lose consciousness, because of the protection even your lack of consciousness will not produce a bad result immediately. But if you go out of the protection and are not all the time vigilant, then either you will be attacked by the adverse forces or an accident will happen.
But those who are not conscious?
Those who are not conscious? But there, too, I have said that I was not speaking of ordinary people. I am not speaking of ordinary people, they are not under a special protection. Ordinary people are under ordinary conditions. They have no special protection watching over them. I am not saying all this for them. They follow all the ordinary laws of life and you cannot explain things to them in the same way…. You were thinking of everybody, that it was so for everybody? It is only for people who do yoga, it is not for everybody.
Can one get ill through fear?
Yes. I knew someone who was so full of fear that he got cholera! There was cholera in the next house and he got so frightened that he caught the illness and without any other reason, there was no other reason for his catching it: it was through sheer fright. And it is a very common thing; in an epidemic, it is so in the majority of cases. It is through fear that the door is opened and you catch the illness. Those who have no fear can go about freely and generally they catch nothing. But still as I have said there,1 you may have no fear in the mind, you may have no fear even in the vital, but who has no fear in the body?… Very few.
A strict discipline is needed to cure the body of fear. The cells themselves tremble. It is only by discipline, by yoga that one can overcome this fear. But it is a fact that one can catch anything through fear, even invite an accident. And, you see, from a certain point of view everything is contagious. I knew a person who got a wound through the kind of fear that he felt seeing someone else’s wound. He really got it.
What is the difference between mental, vital and physical fear?
If you are conscious of the movement of your mind, the movement of your vital and the movement of your physical, you know it.
The mental, it is very simple: thoughts come. You begin thinking, for example, there is this illness and this illness is very contagious, perhaps you are going to catch it, and if you catch it, it is going to be a terrible affair and what is to be done so as not to catch it?… So the mind begins to tremble: what is going to happen tomorrow? etc.
The vital, you feel it. You feel it in your sensations. All at once you feel hot, you feel cold, you perspire or all kinds of unpleasant things happen. And then you feel your heart beating fast and suddenly you have fever and then the circulation stops and you become cold.
Physically, well… When you do not any longer have the other two fears, you can become aware of the physical fear. Generally, the other two are much more conscious. They hide the physical fear from you. But when you have no longer any mental or vital fear, then you become aware of it. It is a curious little vibration that gets into your cells and they begin shivering that way. But the cells are not like a heart beating very fast. It is in the very cells: they tremble with just a slight quivering. And it is very difficult to control this. Yet it can be controlled.
I am sure that most of you have felt this as, for example, when one does an exercise which is not done often or does it for the first time; these are tiny little vibrations which seize you in all the cells. And then naturally, you lose your full control over the movement. The body does not answer to the Force any more. When you want to put your will to do something, that brings about a kind of resistance and incapacity in the body.
Only, you are not aware of it usually because your attention is drawn more to the mental apprehension or to the kind of vital recoil which is very apparent in the consciousness, whereas you are not so very conscious of the resistance produced in the body.
Generally in all sports (athletics and all competitions), a certain incident occurs: you must have noticed with your friends that some do much better than usual, while others who usually do well are almost incapacitated at that moment. They do much worse. Well, this depends on those small vibrations. Because you lose your full control. Your will has no longer the full control over the body, for it vibrates and answers to forces other than yours….
Naturally I am not speaking of those whose head is in a whirl or whose vital is altogether upset. Nothing can be done with them, it is better that they don’t try. But I mean those who have some control over themselves, who undergo the training, you see, but at the time of the competition, cannot do as well as usual; it depends on a lack of receptivity in the body which gets this little tremor in the cells of which you are not conscious but which acts as an obstruction. That prevents it from receiving the Force fully.
Are illnesses tests in the Yoga?
Tests? Not at all.
You are given an illness purposely to make you progress? Surely it is not like that. Actually, you may turn the thing round and say that there are people whose aspiration is so constant, whose goodwill so total that whatever happens to them they take as a trial on the path to make progress. I knew people who, whenever they fell ill, took that as a proof of the Divine Grace to help them to progress. They told themselves: it is a good sign, I am going to find out the cause of my illness and I shall make the necessary progress. I knew a few of this kind and they moved on magnificently. There are others, on the contrary, who, far from making use of the thing, let themselves fall flat on the ground. So much the worse for them. But the true attitude when one is ill, is to say: “There is something that is not all right; I am going to see what it is.” You must never think that the Divine has purposely sent an illness, for that would truly be a very wicked Divine!
Even so, there are microbes in water?
These people are in such a physical, mental, and vital condition that they are liable to catch an illness, even without drinking water, I assure you! Their whole being is a constant disharmony, their whole physical being. I do not mean inwardly, they are perhaps all right there but those who are all right resist everything.
And I have seen just the contrary. I have seen in this country, here, village people who had only such water as was no longer water to drink, it was mere mud, I have seen it with my own eyes. It was yellowish mud in which cows had bathed and done all the rest and people had waded through it after walking on the roads. They threw their rubbish and everything was in it. And then I saw these people.
They entered it, it was, as I said, yellowish mud and there at the end there was a little bit of water—it was not water, it was yellowish, you know—they bent over, collected this water in their palms and drank it. And there were some who did not even allow it to settle. Some knew what to put in it, the herbs needed to make it settle, and if one leaves it sufficiently long it becomes a little clearer. But there were some who knew nothing at all and drank it as it was. And I came to learn that there was just then an epidemic of cholera all round and I said: “There are still people living in that village with that kind of water?
” I was told: “We do not have a single case of cholera….” They had become immune, they were habituated. But if there had been a single person who had caught it by chance, probably all would have been dead; for then fear would enter and with fear in them there would be no more resistance, for they were poor miserable things. But it is the moral conditions of these people that are terrible, more than the physical conditions—the moral conditions.
There are sadhus, you know, who accept the conditions of a dirty life through saintliness. They never wash themselves, they have nothing about them that hygiene demands. They live in a truly dirty condition—and they are free from all illness. Probably because they have faith and they do so purposely. Their spirit is magnificent…. I am speaking of sincere people and not those who pretend. They have faith. They do not think of their body, they think of the life of their soul. They have no illness. There are some who come to a state in which an arm or a leg or any part of the body has become completely stiff due to their ascetic posture. They cannot move any more; anybody else would die under such conditions; they continue to live because they have faith and they do it purposely, because it is a thing they have imposed on themselves.
Therefore, the moral condition is much more important than the physical. If you were in surroundings where everyone was tidy and then you remained three days without taking a bath, you would fall ill. This is not to say that you should not take a bath! Because we do not want to be sadhus, we want to be yogis. It is not the same thing. And we want the body to take part in the yoga. So we must do whatever is necessary to keep it fit. However, this is only to tell you that the moral condition is much more important than the physical.
Besides, these people, by their asceticism, wilfully spoil their body, torture themselves, yet if it was someone else who did the same thing, people would shout, protest, declare he is a monster. But one does it by one’s own choice. And one bears it very well because it is imposed on one’s own self and one feels a kind of glory in having done something very “remarkable”, through one’s aspiration for the divine life!
No other questions?
Well, now, I told you the other day that I would speak to you of illness; I thought of it today and have made notes For you may tell me there are microbes, and that there are people who have no thought of illness and catch it all the same; but thinking is not the only factor, not by any means. Still, I shall try to explain to you now the notes I have made. (Mother looks at a paper.)
I have told you first of all that all illness without any exception—without exception—is the expression of a break in equilibrium. But there are many kinds of breaks in equilibrium…. First, I am speaking only of the body, I am not speaking of the nervous illnesses of the vital or of mental illnesses. We shall see that later on. We are speaking only of this poor little body. And I say that all illnesses, all, whatever they may be (I would add even accidents) come from a break in equilibrium. That is, if all your organs, all the members and parts of your body are in harmony with one another, you are in perfect health. But if there is the slightest imbalance anywhere, immediately you get either just a little ill or quite ill, even very badly ill, or else an accident occurs. That always happens whenever there is an inner imbalance.
But then, to the equilibrium of the body, you must add the equilibrium of the vital and the mind. For you to be able to do all kinds of things with immunity, without any accident happening to you, you must have a triple equilibrium—mental, vital, physical—and not only in each of the parts, but also in the three parts in their mutual relations…. If you have done a little mathematics, you should have been taught how many combinations that makes and what a difficult thing it means! There lies the key to the problem. For the combinations are innumerable, and consequently the causes of illness too are innumerable, the causes of accidents also are innumerable. Still, we are going to try to classify them so that we may understand.
First of all, from the point of view of the body—just the body—there are two kinds of disequilibrium: functional and organic. I do not know if you are aware of the difference between the two; but you have organs and then you have all the parts of your body: nerves, muscles, bones and all the rest. Now, if an organ by itself is in disequilibrium, it is an organic disequilibrium, and you are told: that organ is ill or perhaps it is badly formed or it is not normal or an accident has occurred to it. But it is the organ that is ill. But the organ may be in a very good condition, all your organs may be in a very good condition, but there is still an illness as they do not function properly: there is a lack of balance in the functioning. You may have a very good stomach, but suddenly something happens to it and it does not function properly; or the body may also be excellent, but something happens to it and it does not work properly any more. Then you have an illness due to functional imbalance not organic imbalance.
Generally, illnesses due to functional imbalance are cured much more quickly and easily than the others. The others become a little more serious. Sometimes they become very grave. So there are already two domains to see and know, but if you have a little knowledge of your body and the habit of observing its working, you can know what kind of imbalance yours is.
Most often when you are young and leading a normal life, the imbalance is purely functional. There are only a few poor people who for one reason or other have had an accident or imbalance before their birth, these carry with them something that is much more difficult to cure (not that it is incurable; in theory, there is nothing incurable), but it becomes more difficult.
Good. Now what are the causes of this imbalance, whatever it may be? As I told you just now, the causes are innumerable; because, first of all, there are all the inner causes, that is, those personal to you, and then all the external causes, those that come to you from outside. That makes two major categories.
The internal causes:
We said: you have a brain, lungs, a heart, a stomach, a liver, etc. If each one does its duty and works normally and if all move together in harmony at a given moment and in the right way (note that it would be very complicated if you were obliged to think of all that, and I am afraid things would not go right all the time!
Fortunately, it does not need our conscious thinking), admitting however they are in good harmony with one another, good friends, in perfect agreement, and each one fulfilling its task, its movement at the right time, in tune with the rest, neither too soon nor too late, neither too fast nor too slow, indeed, every one going all right, then you are marvellously well! Suppose now that one of them, for some reason or other, happens to be in a bad mood: it does not work with the necessary energy, at the required moment it goes awhile on strike.
Do not believe that it alone will fall ill: the whole system will go wrong and you will feel altogether unwell. And if, unfortunately, there is a vital imbalance, that is, a disappointment or too violent an emotion or too strong a passion or something else upsetting your vital, which comes in addition. And if furthermore your thoughts roam about and you begin to have dark ideas and formulate frightful things and make catastrophic formations, then after that you are sure to fall ill altogether…
. You see the complication, don’t you, just a tiny thing can go the wrong way and thus through an inner contagion can lead to something very serious. So what is important is to control things immediately. One must be conscious, conscious of the working of one’s organs, aware of the one that does not behave very well, telling it immediately what is to be done to set itself right.
What is needed (I shall explain it to you later on) is to give them a lesson as one does to little children. When they begin indulging in unhealthy fancies (indeed it is then the occasion to say it) you must tell them: no, it is not like that the work is to be done, it is the other way! Suppose for example, your heart begins to throb madly; then you must make it calm, you tell it that this is not the way to behave, and at the same time (solely to help it) you take in long, very regular rhythmic breaths, that is, the lung becomes the mentor of the heart and teaches it how to work properly. And so on. I could give you countless examples.
Good. We say then that there is an imbalance between the different parts of the being, disharmony in their working. That is what I have just told you. And then there are internal conflicts. These are quarrels. There are internal quarrels among the different parts of yourself. Supposing there is an organ (it happens very often) that needs rest and there is another that wants action, and both at the same time. How are you going to manage it? They begin to quarrel.
If you do what one wants, the other protests! And so you have to find a middle term to put them in harmony. And then, at times, if you add to the physical the vital and mental (I do not speak of the speculative mind or the independent vital, I am speaking of the mental and vital parts of the body, because there is a physical vital and a physical mind; there is a physical mind and this physical mind is the worst of all, it is that which goes on all the time and you have the utmost difficulty in stopping it: it goes on and on and on); well, if there is a dispute between them, between the mind, the vital and the physical, you have a battlefield, and this battlefield can become the cause of all possible illnesses.
They fight violently. One wants something, the other does not, they quarrel and you are in a kind of internal whirlwind. That can give you fever—you do get it usually—or else you are seized by an inner shivering and you have no longer any control. For the most important of all causes for bodily illness is that the body begins to get restless; it trembles and the trembling increases more and more, more and more and you feel that you will never be able to re-establish the balance, it eludes you. Then in that case you must know what the dispute is about, the reason of the dispute and find out how to reconcile the people within you.
All these are functional imbalances.
There are other kinds of imbalance and they are more or less a part of what you were saying just now. There is an aspiration within you (I am now speaking of people who do yoga or at any rate know what the spiritual life is and try to walk on the path), within you there is a part of the being—either mental or vital or sometimes even physical—that has understood well, has much aspiration, its special aptitudes, that receives the forces well and is making good progress.
And then there are others that cannot, others still that don’t want to (that of course is very bad), but there are yet others that want to very much but cannot, do not have the capacity, are not ready. So there is something that rises upward and something that does not move. That causes a terrible imbalance. And usually this translates itself into some illness or other, for you are in such a state of inner tension between something that cannot or something that clings, that does not want to move and something else that wants to: that produces a frightful unease and the result usually is an illness.
Now there is the opposite, almost the opposite, that is, the whole being goes ahead, progresses, advances in an increasing equilibrium and achieves remarkable progress; you have the feeling you are in a wonderfully favourable state, everything is going on well, you are sure; and you see yourself already gloriously well on the way…. Crack! an illness.
Then you say: “How is it?
I was in such a good condition and now I have fallen ill! It is not fair.” But this happens because you are not completely conscious. There was a small part in the being that did not want to move. Usually it is something in the vital; sometimes it is a tiny mental formation that does not agree to follow; sometimes it is simply something in the body which is quite inert or has not the slightest intention of moving, that wants things to remain always as they are. It pulls backward, separates itself wilfully, and naturally, even if it is quite small, it brings about such an imbalance in the being that you fall ill. And then you say to yourself: “It is truly a pity, I was going on so well, it is not fair! Truly God is not kind!… When I was making so much progress, He ought to have prevented me from becoming ill!”… It is like that.
Now, there is still another thing. You do the yoga according to your capacity. You have been told: “Open yourself, you will receive the Force.” You have been told: “Have faith, be of goodwill and you will be protected.” And indeed you are bathed in the Consciousness, bathed in the Force, bathed in the Protection and to the extent you have faith and open yourself, you receive all that, and it helps you in keeping fit and in rejecting the little inner disturbances and re-establishing order when these come, in protecting yourself against small attacks or accidents which might have happened. But if somewhere in your being—either in your body or even in your vital or mind, either in several parts or even in a single one—there is an incapacity to receive the descending Force, this acts like a grain of sand in a machine.
You know, a fine machine working quite well with everything going all right, and you put into it just a little sand (nothing much, only a grain of sand), suddenly everything is damaged and the machine stops. Well, just a little lack of receptivity somewhere, something that is unable to receive the Force, that is completely shut up (when one looks at it, it becomes as it were a little dark spot somewhere, a tiny thing hard as a stone: the Force cannot enter into it, it refuses to receive it—either it cannot or it will not) and immediately that produces a great imbalance; and this thing that was moving upward, that was blooming so wonderfully, finds itself sick, and sometimes just when you were in the normal equilibrium; you were in good health, everything was going on well, you had nothing to complain about.
One day when you grasped a new idea, received a new impulse, when you had a great aspiration and received a great force and had a marvellous experience, a beautiful experience opening to you inner doors, giving you a knowledge you did not have before; then you were sure that everything was going to be all right The next day, you are taken ill. So you say: “Still that? It is impossible! That should not happen.” But it was quite simply what I have just said: a grain of sand. There was something that could not receive; immediately it brings about a disequilibrium. Even though very small it is enough, and you fall ill.
You see there are reasons!—many reasons, numberless reasons. For all these things combine in an extraordinarily complex way, and in order to know, in order to be able to cure an illness, one must find out its cause, not its microbe. For it happens that (excuse me, I hope there are no doctors here!), it happens that when microbes are there, they find out magnificent remedies to kill the microbes, but these remedies cure some and make others much more ill! Nobody knows why…. Perhaps I know why. Because the illness had another cause than the purely physical one; there was another. The first was only an outer expression of a different disorder, and unless you touched that, discovered that disorder, never would you be able to prevent the illness from coming. And to discover the disorder, you must have an extensive occult knowledge and also a deep knowledge of all the inner workings of each one.
Thus we have seen in brief, very rapidly all the internal causes. Now there are external causes that come and bring complications.
If you were in a perfectly harmonious environment where everything was full of a total and perfect goodwill, then evidently you could lay the blame only on yourself. But the difficulties that are within are also without. You can, to a certain extent, establish an inner equilibrium, but you live in surroundings full of imbalance.
Unless you shut yourself up in an ivory tower (which is not only difficult but not always recommendable), you are obliged to receive what comes from outside. You give and you receive; you breathe in and absorb. So there is a mixture and that is why one can say that all is contagious, for you live in a state of ceaseless vibrations.
You give out your vibrations and receive also the vibrations of others, and these vibrations are of a very complex kind. There are still (we shall say for simplifying the language) mental vibrations, vital vibrations, physical vibrations and many others. You give, you receive; you give, you receive.
It is a perpetual play. Even granting that there is no bad will, there is necessarily contagion. And as I was saying just now, all is contagious, everything. You are looking at the effect of an accident: you absorb a certain vibration. And if you are over-sensitive and, over and above that, you have fear or disgust (which is the same thing, disgust is only a moral expression of a physical fear), the accident can be translated physically in your body. Naturally you will be told that those who have such reactions are in a state of nervous imbalance
. It is not quite true. They are persons with an ultra-suprasensitive vital, that is all. And it is not always a proof of inferiority, on the contrary! For as you progress spiritually, a certain hypersensitivity of the nerves occurs and if your self-control does not increase along with your sensibility, all kinds of untoward things may happen to you.
But that is not the only thing.
Unhappily there is much bad will in the world, and among the different kinds of bad will there is the small type that comes from ignorance and stupidity, there is the big type that comes from wickedness and there is the formidable one that is the result of anti-divine forces. So, all that is in the atmosphere (I am not telling you this to frighten you, for it is well understood that one should fear nothing—but it is there all the same) and these things attack you, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.
Unintentionally, through other people: others are attacked, they don’t know, they pass it on without even being aware of it. They are the first victims. They pass the illness to others. But there are wilful attacks. We were speaking the other day of mental formations and of wicked people who make mental formations to harm you, make them wilfully to do harm. And then there are others who go still a step further.
There is a misguided, perverted occultism which is called black magic, it is a thing one must never touch. But unfortunately, there are people who touch it through pure wickedness. You must not believe it is an illusion, a superstition; it is real. There are people who know how to do magic and do it, and with their magic they obtain altogether detestable results…. It is understood of course that when you have no fear and remain under protection, you are sheltered. But there is a “when”, there is a condition, and then if the condition is not always fulfilled, very unpleasant things may happen.
So long as you are in a state full of strength, full of purity—that is, in a state of invincibility, if anybody does anything against you, that falls back upon him automatically, as when you throw a tennis-ball against the wall, it comes back to you; the thing comes back to them exactly in the same way, sometimes with a greater force, and they are punished by their own wickedness. But naturally it all depends on the person against whom the magic is done, on his inner force and purity….
This things I have know, many cases like this. And in such cases, in order to resist, one must be, as I said, a warrior in the vital, that is, a spiritual fighter in the vital. All who do yoga sincerely must become that, and when they do become that, they are altogether sheltered. But one of the conditions for becoming it is never to have bad will or a bad thought towards others. For if you have a bad feeling or bad will or a bad thought, you come down to their level and when you are on the same level with them, well, you may receive blows from them.
Now, without going to that extreme, there are in the physical atmosphere, the earth-atmosphere, numerous small entities which you do not see, for your sight is too limited, but which move about in your atmosphere. Some of them are quite nice, others very wicked. Generally these little entities are produced by the disintegration of vital beings—they pullulate—and these form quite an unpleasant mass. There are some which do very fine things. I believe I narrated to you the story of the little beings who tugged at my sari to tell me that the milk was about to boil and that I had to go and see that it did not boil over. But all of them are not so good. Some of them like to play ugly little tricks, wicked little pranks. And so most often it is they who are behind an accident. They like little accidents, they like the whole whirl of forces that gather round an accident: a mass of people, you know, it is very amusing! And then that gives them their food, because, in reality, they feed upon human vitality thrown out of the body by emotions and excitements. So they say: just a small accident, it is quite nice, many accidents!…
And then if there is a group of such small entities, they may clash with one another, because among themselves they do not have a very peaceful life: clashing with one another, fighting, destroying, demolishing each other. And that is the origin of microbes. They are forces of disintegration. But they continue to be alive even in their divided forms and this is the origin of germs and microbes. Therefore most microbes have behind them a bad will and that is what makes them so dangerous. And unless one knows the quality and kind of bad will and is capable of acting upon it, there is a ninety-nine per cent chance of not finding the true and complete remedy. The microbe is a very material expression of something living in a subtle physical world and that is why these very microbes (as I have said there2) that are always around you, within you, for years together do not make you ill and then suddenly they make you fall ill.
There is another reason. The origin of the microbes and their support lie in a disharmony, in the being’s receptivity to the adverse force. I will tell you a story. I do not know whether I have already told it to you, but I am going to tell you now for it will give you an illustration.
I was in Japan. It was at the beginning of January 1919. Anyway, it was the time when a terrible flu raged there in the whole of Japan, which killed hundreds of thousands of people. It was one of those epidemics the like of which is rarely seen. In Tokyo, every day there were hundreds and hundreds of new cases. The disease appeared to take this turn: it lasted three days and on the third day the patient died. And people died in such large numbers that they could not even be cremated, you understand, it was impossible, there were too many of them. Or otherwise, if one did not die on the third day, at the end of seven days one was altogether cured; a little exhausted but all the same completely cured. There was a panic in the town, for epidemics are very rare in Japan. They are a very clean people, very careful and with a fine morale. Illnesses are very rare. But still this came, it came as a catastrophe. There was a terrible fear. For example, people were seen walking about in the streets with a mask on the nose, a mask to purify the air they were breathing, so that it might not be full of the microbes of the illness. It was a common fear…. Now, it so happened I was living with someone who never ceased troubling me: “
But what is this disease? What is there behind this disease?”
What I was doing, you know, was simply to cover myself with my force, my protection so as not to catch it and I did not think of it any more and continued doing my work. Nothing happened and I was not thinking of it. But constantly I heard: “What is this? Oh, I would like to know what is there behind this illness. But could you not tell me what this illness is, why it is there?” etc. One day I was called to the other end of the town by a young woman whom I knew and who wished to introduce me to some friends and show me certain things. I do not remember now what exactly was the matter, but anyway I had to cross the whole town in a tram-car. And I was in the tram and seeing these people with masks on their noses, and then there was in the atmosphere this constant fear, and so there came a suggestion to me; I began to ask myself: “Truly, what is this illness? What is there behind this illness? What are the forces that are in this illness?…
” I came to the house, I passed an hour there and I returned. And I returned with a terrible fever. I had caught it. It came to you thus, without preparation, instantaneously. Illnesses, generally illnesses from germs and microbes take a few days in the system: they come, there is a little battle inside; you win or you lose, if you lose you catch the illness, it is not complicated. But there, you just receive a letter, open the envelope, hop! puff! The next minute you have the fever. Well, that evening I had a terrible fever. The doctor was called (it was not I who called him), the doctor was called and he told me: “I must absolutely give you this medicine.” It was one of the best medicines for the fever, he had just a little (all their stocks were exhausted, everyone was taking it); he said: “I have still a few packets, I shall give you some”—“I beg of you, do not give it to me, I won’t take it. Keep it for someone who has faith in it and will take it.” He was quite disgusted: “It was no use my coming here.”
So I said: “Perhaps it was no use!” And I remained in my bed, with my fever, a violent fever. All the while I was asking myself: “What is this illness? Why is it there? What is there behind it…” At the end of the second day, as I was lying all alone, I saw clearly a being, with a part of the head cut off, in a military uniform (or the remains of a military uniform) approaching me and suddenly flinging himself upon my chest, with that half a head to suck my force. I took a good look, then realised that I was about to die. He was drawing all my life out (for I must tell you that people were dying of pneumonia in three days). I was completely nailed to the bed, without movement, in a deep trance. I could no longer stir and he was pulling. I thought: now it is the end. Then I called on my occult power, I gave a big fight and I succeeded in turning him back so that he could not stay there any longer. And I woke up.
But I had seen. And I had learnt, I had understood that the illness originated from beings who had been thrown out of their bodies. I had seen this during the First Great War, towards its end, when people used to live in trenches and were killed by bombardment. They were in perfect health, altogether healthy and in a second they were thrown out of their bodies, not conscious that they were dead. They did not know they hadn’t a body any more and they tried to find in others the life they could not find in themselves.
That is, they were turned into so many countless vampires. And they vampirised upon men. And then over and above that, there was a decomposition of the vital forces of people who fell ill and died. One lived in a kind of sticky and thick cloud made up of all that. And so those who took in this cloud fell ill and usually got cured, but those who were attacked by a being of that kind invariably died, they could not resist. I know how much knowledge and force were necessary for me to resist. It was irresistible. That is, if they were attacked by a being who was a centre of this whirl of bad forces, they died. And there must have been many of these, a very great number. I saw all that and I understood.
When someone came to see me, I asked to be left alone, I lay quietly in my bed and I passed two or three days absolutely quiet, in concentration, with my consciousness. Subsequently, a friend of ours (a Japanese, a very good friend) came and told me: “Ah! you were ill? So what I thought was true…. Just imagine for the last two or three days, there hasn’t been a single new case of illness in the town and most of the people who were ill have been cured and the number of deaths has become almost negligible, and now it is all over. The illness is wholly under control.” Then I narrated what had happened to me and he went and narrated it to everybody. They even published articles about it in the papers.
Well, consciousness, to be sure, is more effective than doctor’s pills!… The condition was critical. Just imagine, there were entire villages where everyone had died. There was a village in Japan, not very big, but still with more than a hundred people, and it happened, by some extraordinary stroke of luck, that one of the villagers was to receive a letter (the postman went there only if there was a letter; naturally, it was a village far in the countryside); so he went to the countryside; there was a snowfall; the whole village was under snow… and there was not a living person. It was exactly so. It was that kind of epidemic. And Tokyo was also like that; but Tokyo was a big town and things did not happen in the same fashion. And it was in this way the epidemic ended. That is my story.
Now this brings us naturally to the cure. All that is very well, we now have the knowledge; so, how to prevent illnesses from coming, first of all, and when the illness does occur, how to cure it?
One may try ordinary means and sometimes that succeeds. It is usually when the body is convinced that it has been given the conditions under which it must be all right; it takes the resolution that it must be all right and it is cured. But if your body has not the will, the resolution to get cured, you may try whatever you like, it won’t be cured. This also I know by experience. For I knew people who could be cured in five minutes, even of a disease considered very serious, and I knew people who had no fatal illness, but cherished it with such persistence that it did become fatal. It was impossible to persuade their body to let go their illness.
And it is here that one must be very careful and look at oneself with great discrimination to discover the small part in oneself that—how to put it?—takes pleasure in being ill. Oh! there are many reasons. There are people who are ill out of spite, there are people who are ill out of hate, there are people who are ill through despair, there are people… And these are not formidable movements: it is quite a small movement in the being: one is vexed and says: “You will see what is going to happen, you will see the consequences of what he has done to me! Let it come! I am going to be ill.” One does not say it openly to oneself, for one would scold oneself, but there is something somewhere that thinks in that way.
So there are two things you have to do when you have discovered the disorder, big or small—the disharmony. Firstly, we said that this disharmony creates a kind of tremor and a lack of peace in the physical being, in the body. It is a kind of fever. Even if it is not a fever in general, there is localised fever; there are people who get restless. So the first thing to do is to quieten oneself, bring peace, calm, relaxation, with a total confidence, in this little corner (not necessarily in the whole body). Afterwards you see what is the cause of the disorder. You look. Of course, there are many, but still you try to find out approximately the cause of this disorder, and through the pressure of light and knowledge and spiritual force you re-establish the harmony, the proper functioning. And if the ailing part is receptive, if it does not offer any obstinate resistance, you can be cured in a few seconds.
It is not always the case. Sometimes there is, as I have said, a bad will: you are more or less on strike, at least you want the illness to have its consequences. So, that takes a little more time. However, if you do not happen to be particularly ill-willed, after some time the Force acts: after a few minutes or hours or at the most some days you are cured.
Now, in the case of special attacks of adverse forces, the thing gets complicated, because you have not only to deal with the will of the body (note that I do not admit the argument of those who say: “But as for myself I do not want to be ill!”, for your consciousness always says that it does not want to be ill, one must be half-crazy to say, “I want to be ill”; but it is not your consciousness that wants to be ill, it is some part of your body or at the most, a fragment of the vital that has gone wrong and wishes to be ill, and unless you observe with a good deal of attention you do not notice it). But I say that the situation gets complicated if behind this there is an attack, a pressure from adverse forces who really want to harm you.
You may have opened the door through spiritual error, through a movement of vanity, of anger, of hatred or of violence; even if it is merely a movement that comes and goes, that can open the door. There are always germs watching and only waiting for an occasion. That is why one should be very careful. Anyhow, for some reason or other, the influence has pierced through the shell of protection and acts there encouraging the illness to become as bad as it can be. In that case the first means is not quite sufficient.
Then you have to add something; you must add the Force of spiritual purification which is such an absolutely perfectly constructive force that nothing that’s in the least destructive can survive there. If you have this Force at your disposal or if you can ask for it and get it, you direct it on the spot and the adverse force usually runs away immediately, for if it happens to be in the midst of this Force it gets dissolved, it disappears; for no force of disintegration can survive within this Force; therefore disintegration disappears and with it that also disappears. It can be changed into a constructive force, that is possible, or it may be simply dissolved and reduced to nothing. And with that not only is the illness cured, but all possibility of its return is also eliminated. You are cured of the illness once for all, it never comes back. There you are.
Now, this is the general picture; on the details could be written books and books. I have given you only general explanations.
Considering the causes you have told us about, one should be always ill!
But in ordinary life, most of the time, people are almost always ill—except a few who escape for reasons of a different order that we shall explain one day. There are very few people who are not more or less ill all the while. But even in ordinary life, if within you there is trust, goodwill, a kind of certitude, this kind of inner confidence, oh! as there is in most children perhaps (I do not know, for, after all, those we see here are fairly exceptional, however, there is a trust in life, they are young and they have the feeling that the whole life is before them. Very few things are behind, everything is in front. So that gives them a kind of self-confidence, that pulls them out.
Otherwise, I do not know, in the ordinary life I have known very few people who did not complain of having at least some physical ailment which they carried always with them You know perhaps that play of Jules Romains, Doctor Knock, in which he says that a healthy man is a patient unaware of his sickness. It is usually true. When you are sufficiently busy not to be all the while occupied with yourself, you do not notice it, but it is there.
The Mother, Questions and Answers (1953): 22 July 1953
***Sweet Mother, when one sees an illness coming, how can one stop it?
Ah! First of all, you must not want it and nothing in the body must want it. You must have a very strong will not to be ill. This is the first condition.
The second condition is to call the light, a light of equilibrium, a light of peace, quietude and balance, and to push it into all the cells of the body, enjoining them not to be afraid, because that again is another condition.
First, not to want to be ill, and then not to be afraid of illness. You must neither attract it nor tremble. You must not want illness at all. But you must not because of fear not want it; you must not be afraid; you must have a calm certitude and a complete trust in the power of the Grace to shelter you from everything, and then think of something else, not be concerned about this any longer. When you have done these two things, refusing the illness with all your will and infusing a confidence which completely eliminates the fear in the cells of the body, and then busying yourself with something else, not thinking any longer about the illness, forgetting that it exists… there, if you know how to do that, you may even be in contact with people who have contagious diseases, and yet you do not catch them. But you must know how to do this.
Many people say, “Oh, yes, here I am not afraid.” They don’t have any fear in the mind, their mind is not afraid, it is strong, it is not afraid; but the body trembles, and one doesn’t know it, because it is in the cells of the body that the trembling goes on. It trembles with a terrible anxiety and this is what attracts the illness. It is there that you must put the force and the quietude of a perfect peace and an absolute trust in the Grace. And then, sometimes you are obliged to drive away with a similar force in your thought all suggestions that after all, the physical world is full of illnesses, and these are contagious, and because one was in contact with somebody who is ill, one is sure to catch it, and then, that the inner methods are not powerful enough to act on the physical, and all kinds of stupidities of which the air is full. These are collective suggestions which are passed on from one person to another by everybody. And if by chance there are two or three doctors, then it becomes terrible. (Laughter)
When Sri Aurobindo says that illness comes from outside, what exactly is it that comes?
It is a kind of vibration made up of a mental suggestion, a vital force of disorder and certain physical elements which are the materialisation of the mental suggestion and the vital vibration. And these physical elements can be what we have agreed to call germs, microbes, this and that and many other things.
It may be accompanied by a sensation, may be accompanied by a taste, also by a smell, if one has very developed subtle senses. There are these formations of illness which give a special taste to the air, a special smell or a slight special sensation.
People have many senses which are asleep. They are terribly tamasic. If all the senses they possess were awake, there are many things they would perceive, which can just pass by without anyone suspecting anything.
For example, many people have a certain kind of influenza at the moment. It is very wide-spread. Well, when it comes close, it has a special taste, a special smell, and it brings you a certain contact (naturally not like a blow), something a little more subtle, a certain contact, exactly as when you pass your hand over something, backwards over some material… You have never done that? The material has a grain, you know; when you pass your hand in the right direction or when you pass it like this (gesture), well, it makes you… it is something that passes over your skin, like this, backwards. But naturally, I can tell you, it doesn’t come like a staggering blow. It is very subtle but very clear. So if you see that, you can very easily…
Besides, there is always a way of isolating oneself by an atmosphere of protection, if one knows how to have an extremely quiet vibration, so quiet that it makes almost a kind of wall around you. But all the time, all the time one is vibrating in response to vibrations which come from outside. If you become aware of this, all the time there is something which does this (gesture), like this, like this, like this (gestures), which responds to all the vibrations coming from outside. You are never in an absolutely quiet atmosphere which emanates from you, that is, which comes from inside outward (not something which comes from outside within), something which is like an envelope around you, very quiet, like this—and you can go anywhere at all and these vibrations which come from outside do not begin to do this (gesture) around your atmosphere.
If you could see that kind of dance, the dance of vibrations which is there around you all the time, you would see, would understand well what I mean.
For example, in a game, when you play, it is like this (gesture), and then it is like the vibrations of a point, it goes on increasing, increasing and increasing until suddenly, crash!… an accident. And it is a collective atmosphere like that; we come and see it, you are in the midst of a game—basketball or football or any other—we feel it, see it, it produces a kind of smoke around you (those vapours of heat which come at times, something like that), and then it takes on a vibration like that, like that, more and more, more and more, more and more until suddenly the equilibrium is broken: someone breaks his leg, falls down, is hit on the mouth by a ball, etc. And one can foretell beforehand that this is going to happen when it is like that. But nobody is aware of it.
Yet, even in less serious cases, each one of you individually has around him something which instead of being this very individual and very calm envelope which protects you from all that you don’t want to receive… I mean, your receptivity becomes deliberate and conscious, otherwise you do not receive; and it is only when you have this conscious extremely calm atmosphere, and as I say, when it comes from within (it is not something that comes from outside), it is only when it’s like this that you can go with impunity into life, that is, among others and in all the circumstances of every minute…
Otherwise if there is something bad to be caught, for example, anger, fear, an illness, some uneasiness, you are sure to catch it. As soon as it starts doing this (gesture), it is as though you called all similar vibrations to come and get hold of you.
What is to be wondered at is the unconsciousness with which men go through life; they don’t know how to live, there’s not one in a million who knows how to live, and they live like that somehow or other, limping along, managing, not managing; and all that for them, bah! What is it? Things that happen.
They don’t know how to live. All the same one should learn how to live. That’s the first thing one ought to teach children: to learn how to live. I have tried but I don’t know if I have succeeded very much. I have told you all these things very often, I think, haven’t I? Haven’t I?
The Mother, Questions and Answers (1955): 11 May 1955
***Supramental transformation will give us the balance and health that we have lost393—We ought to use the divine health in us to cure and prevent diseases; but Galen and Hippocrates and their tribe have given us instead an armoury of drugs and a barbarous Latin hocus-pocus as our physical gospel.
399—Man was once naturally healthy and could revert to that primal condition if he were suffered; but Medical Science pursues our body with an innumerable pack of drugs and assails the imagination with ravening hordes of microbes.
400—I would rather die and have done with it than spend life in defending myself against a phantasmal siege of microbes. If that is to be barbarous and unenlightened, I embrace gladly my Cimmerian darkness.
401—Surgeons save and cure by cutting and maiming. Why not rather seek to discover Nature’s direct all-powerful remedies?
402—It should take long for self-cure to replace medicine, because of the fear, self-distrust and unnatural physical reliance on drugs which Medical Science has taught to our minds and bodies and made our second nature.
In fact, very often the answer comes to me in English because it comes to me from Sri Aurobindo. When I read, I listen, and then he speaks. And then I am the one who translates while writing! I translate into French. But I could write it in English at the same time.
Yesterday again… Have you read yesterdays aphorism?… But yesterday, he was going at the doctors with a will! So I said, “For people spontaneously not to need medicines, nature must change.” It’s too old a habit.
What did I say?
“No external measure can enable us to react against the harm caused by mental faith in the necessity of drugs. It is only by emerging from the mind’s prison and consciously soaring into the light of the spirit that, through a conscious union with the Divine, we will be able to let Him give us back the balance and health which we have lost.
“Supramental transformation is the only true remedy.”
I’ve had this experience for several months now (especially since the start of the year) that the “shift” of the consciousness—instead of the consciousness being in the ordinary state, if you shift it (I am referring to the body’s consciousness), if it’s directly tuned to the Divine, in a few… sometimes seconds, sometimes minutes, but in a few minutes, the disease absolutely disappears. And if you just do this (Mother slightly tilts one finger to the left), if you go back even a little, it instantly comes back. But if you keep your consciousness at the right place, it’s gone.
That’s an experiment I’ve made more than a hundred times, even with something like toothache (which is hard to cure), even sharp pains at one spot or another. That’s the experiment made by the BODY. The body knows.
It’s very interesting because it’s an experiment it has made in every detail and at every stage…. The first thing it found was not to think of the disease, not to be concerned with it. That’s the first stage. Afterwards, it found that when it was occupied with something else, the pain was greatly lessened. Later on, it had the experience that if someone comes near it, someone who knows you are in pain, it comes back! All that is very, very interesting: lots of small observations of every minute. And finally, it had this repeated and absolutely convincing proof that as soon as it concentrates on the Divine, as soon as it makes contact (because it FEELS, it has the sensation in the cells), as soon as it concentrates (without being concerned with the diseased point: it’s better not to be concerned with it), the pain totally disappears, to such a point that…
At such times (those are things that cause pain, so the first effect is not to feel the pain), at times, in the beginning, the body would ask for the Intervention and there would be an effect, but there was the sense of a struggle, a resistance (something of the sort): it would take a little time. But when the body succeeded in concentrating WITHOUT DEMAND, you understand (simply giving itself), on the Divine, then it would stop thinking about the pain, the body itself stops thinking about the pain, and after a certain time, it realizes it’s completely vanished!—It stopped thinking about it and it was gone.
That experience has been repeated HUNDREDS of times, for all kinds of different things.
There must be a condition in which the possibility of accident disappears. But that… that I don’t know.
Those would be the natural conditions of supramental life.
So, necessarily, since it’s taking place in the body, the very constitution of the body must change—it will have to change. How? That I don’t know yet.
It’s in the direction of Matter’s perfect obedience to the Consciousness (the higher Consciousness); to the present experience, it’s the divine consciousness, but it’s very probably what Sri Aurobindo called the supramental consciousness. Because there must be… (gesture in gradations) an indefinite ascent.
It’s a consciousness in which the sense of ego completely disappears, it does not exist. There isn’t “a person” in front of others, you understand, receiving and sending influences—it’s no longer like that at all. It’s a general play of forces (Mother makes a vast, fluid gesture) in which everyone spontaneously plays his part.
Several times the body has had that experience. It remains in that for a long time. Now it’s almost… that relationship with things and beings (the old relationship) is on the verge of becoming a memory. It’s no longer… no longer natural.
I don’t know how to explain…. There’s something radically changed not only in the body’s consciousness, but in its functioning. For the moment it’s still hard to explain…. You see, the image of being at the center with things coming towards you and everything being in relationship with this is an old thing that went away long ago. But there were still…
It’s not quite that, but somewhat: all the cells seem to be attuned—attuned to something higher than they, even in space, but which they feel as being their center. But a center… not like this (Mother gestures onto herself) and not… (what’s the word?) localized; it’s… neither here nor above, nor… It’s not localized. Yet the cells’ impression is that the Force—the impelling force or will-force—emanating from “that” spreads out (gesture fanning out downward) to enter into the body And… (this is interesting) the body feels it’s more DIRECTLY in relationship with “that” and, through it, that acts on others, on those around—but it’s not “others,” it’s… The body has sometimes even had the impression that some of those things are closer to it than others…. It’s very hard to explain…. But it’s spontaneous. You see, the difficulty is that in order to express it, I have to start thinking it, while it’s spontaneous: it’s a sensation, not a thought.
For instance, at night when I am alone, at times there’s the impression of a disorder or an anguish somewhere , and then, the body’s remedy (it clearly feels it comes from outside towards it—but “outside” isn’t the word, it’s a distance… I don’t know how to explain), its sole movement of remedy is to rush into this luminous center—it’s not to “attract” something to it, it’s… to rush into that.
The Mother, Mother’s Agenda — 1970: March 18, 1970
***Mosquitos pick up germs(Mother begins the work. A mosquito bites her and she remarks:)
Oh, I don’t like that! You know, I have filariasis in my legs. Yes, I think so—there’s every reason to believe it! (Mother laughs) But it doesn’t matter, it will go away… I think. I don’t like to be bitten on account of the germs; but during the day there’s nothing for them to pick up—they only pick up germs around midnight.
The Mother, Mother’s Agenda — 1961: March 4, 1961
***Accumulation in the physical heredity as germs that creates predisposition for possessionSuch a case in a child of this age indicates some kind of accumulation in the physical heredity creating an opportunity or a predisposition of which the vital invasion takes advantage. It is especially the physical consciousness and the physico-vital which contain the germs or materials of this predisposition.
Sri Aurobindo, Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical Interest: To Rajani Palit
***Inertia and IllnessThe human body has always been in the habit of answering to whatever forces chose to lay hands on it and illness is the price it pays for its inertia and ignorance. It has to learn to answer to the one Force alone, but that is not easy for it to learn.
It is a weakness and inertia in the physical nature which makes it undergo and acquiesce in the attacks of illness, instead of refusing and repelling them. That is the character of the material physical in all. It can only be remedied by the Force and Consciousness from above occupying the whole physical being.
There seem to be two elements in the physical difficulty that is weighing on you. The first is the liver trouble which weakens and must weaken still more if it leads you to diminish your food below what the body needs for maintaining sufficient strength to react—also probably the nervous tendency to insomnia with its consequences.
The second is an inertia of the lower vital and physical consciousness which prevents it from throwing off the lassitude, from reacting against the attacks and from opening steadily to the Force which would remove these things. All that is due to the breakdown of the poise that you had for so long, the vital trouble that caused it and the reaction of the lower vital to the insistence on throwing out the causes of the trouble. This reaction seems to have been a listlessness at losing the things to which it was still holding—such a reaction always brings the inertia of the physical consciousness, while the right reaction in the lower vital brings on the contrary a sense of peace, release, quietude which definitely opens the lowest physical parts to the higher consciousness and force. If you can get over this and get back the old poise, then all these things can be made to disappear.
X was of course right from the medical point of view in recommending exercise—both for the liver and as a tonic to the body it is helpful. So some walking may be advisable. Care should be taken of the body certainly, the care that is needed for its good condition, rest, sleep, proper food, sufficient exercise; what is not good is too much preoccupation with it, anxiety, despondency in illness etc., for these things only favour the prolongation of ill-health or weakness. For such things as the liver attacks treatment can always be taken when necessary.
But it is always the right inner poise, quietude inward and outward, faith, the opening of the body consciousness to the Mother and her Force that are the true means of recovery—other things can only be minor aids and devices.
Anger and IllnessWhat has caused all the trouble for X is his insistence on his ego, its ideas, claims, desires, intentions and his aggressiveness in expressing them so that he quarrels with everybody. This quarrelsomeness opens him to all all sorts of forces of the vital plane and their attacks. It is also the cause of the damage done to the liver and organs of digestion—for anger and quarrelsomeness always tend to spoil the liver and through it the stomach and intestines. As his quarrelsomeness is colossal, so also is the damage done to liver and digestion extreme. He must get rid of his egoism, quarrelsomeness and bad feelings towards other, if he wants to recover his health and his sadhana.
Work and IllnessI do not know why working with X must make good health impossible, unless you mean that there is too much work imposed on you,—but then the work can be lessened. In fact a complete rest and relief from the work can be arranged at present and for the future we can see afterwards.
If you mean that working according to somebody else’s ideas makes or keeps you ill, I do not see why it should be so. 999 people out of every 1000 do that—only a few are able to carry out their own ideas and even they have to a large extent to suit their ideas to those of other people in the actual execution of their work.
If you mean that to have to work under discipline, doing things in what you consider not the best way, makes you nervous, discouraged and ill, that is a pity. It would be so much better if you could leave the responsibility of the way of doing things to the Mother and do cheerfully what you have to do. However, if you cannot bring yourself to that attitude, some other way will have to be found hereafter. But at the present, if that is the case, to take rest as a relief would seem the only way.
It is no use stopping work because of rheumatism (unless it is of the kind that disables one from working),—it only makes things worse.
Sleep and IllnessYes. If you don’t sleep enough the physical system becomes more open to these attacks . If it is kept in good condition, then usually it repels them automatically and one does not notice even that there has been an attack.
I said that when the body is in good condition it automatically repels any attack of illness which is in the air without the mind even having to notice that there is an attack. If the attack is automatically repelled what is the need of dealing with it?
Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga - IV: Illness and Health
Vital Interchange Whenever one mixes with others, things are passing from one to the other.
If I talk with a number of people, I bring away with me in my atmosphere many forces that were around them; they may affect me or not, but they remain for a time at least. If in that time I speak with another man, he may receive them from me. It is like a man carrying germs with him from a person he has visited; he may not fall ill himself (or he may), but, even if he does not, he can pass them on to another man he visits afterwards—who falls ill. It is the same thing here in the supraphysical parts.
There is always an interchange of vital forces going on between people. If you sit near one who is weak and depressed and needs vital force, you may have your forces pulled from you by his or her need and yourself feel depressed or weak or empty.
Small energies of that kind are always coming out from people and, if there is a connection, they can flow into another person sitting near. One has to live in one’s own consciousness and reject all such interchanges, accepting only what comes from the Mother.
If someone throws something on you, you should throw it away and not keep it. It is like mud thrown on the body—immediately one washes it off.
Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga - IV: Interactions with Others and the Practice of Yoga
***True morality and consciousness of a doctorWhile this inner vision… to see why that being is ill and what that physical disorder expresses in the destiny of the soul of that man or this woman—it’s magnificent, magnificent!
The Mother, Mother’s Agenda — 1964: September 26, 1964
***For all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration