Disease, in one form or another, is known to everybody. It does not spare any age group, social rank, religious affiliation, or geographic location. The type of disease may vary according to age group, geographic location or economic status, but disease, nevertheless, attacks anyone. It is almost axiomatic to state that everyone will be ill with something during his or her lifetime. Diseases may vary in severity and duration, and cause suffering to varying extents in different people. However, disease implies suffering of some kind. No one welcomes a disease.

There are many “apparent” causes of disease. Some diseases are hereditary and others are acquired. Examples of hereditary diseases are hemophilia, muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis. The acquired diseases have a host of causative agents. Common among them are bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, abscesses and kidney infections. Viral infections are like the common cold and influenza, measles, viral pneumonia etc. There are parasitic infections such as hookworm, malaria and other intestinal parasites. Fungal infections include athlete’s foot and ringworm. Neoplastic diseases (malignant and non-malignant tumors) are of a wide variety attacking different organ systems of the body. Toxic diseases include poisoning of various types such as lead, carbon monoxide, botulism and insecticide ingestion. There are many others caused by poor nutrition, glandular disorders, injuries, and the environment including drowning, heat stroke and frostbite.

As you can see from the brief list outlined, diseases manifest in almost endless variety. And it is universal. However, we need to develop a different type of awareness of disease than the one to which we are accustomed. The various agents listed above are customarily thought of as the causes of disease. But, in effect, they are not the causes of disease. They only interact with the body in their own appropriate ways in order to manifest disease. This concept may be somewhat difficult to understand, as it is not the traditional scientific way of looking at diseases. It is a spiritual way of looking at them.

In order to simplify this concept of disease, let me use a simple example. Suppose I throw a stone at you and it hits you on the face, and you suffer a bruise. Would you say that the stone was the cause of the bruise, or was I the cause of the bruise? The stone merely fulfilled the law of motion and did what it had to do after I threw it. This is a crude example, but it will serve to illustrate the point. I think that everybody will agree that everything that happens must have a cause. That cause, operating through the Law of Karma, results in an effect. The effect is what we see. The diseases that we suffer are the effects of certain causes based on the Law of Karma. This Law will explain why different people, exposed to the same so-called disease-producing agent, do not all suffer the disease. Nor, do they suffer the same severity and duration of the disease. You might say that some people have natural immunity and, therefore, do not suffer as others with less immunity. But why then do some people have greater natural immunity than others? You can ask this type of question “ad infinitum” and do not come out with any logical answer. The only answer that will make sense and fit all the circumstances is the Law of Karma determining the cause of disease. In the Cosmic scheme of things, if we are to suffer according to our just deserts, then the various agents are there like so many law enforcement officers, to see that we contract the appropriate type of disease with sufficient severity and duration to fulfill that Law of Cause and Effect. The same principle also holds for the various things in our lives that bring happiness.

Although I have been trained as a physician, it makes greater sense for me to consider disease in the above context. This concept of disease can easily explain why disease will always afflict mankind as long as mankind behaves in thought, word and actions as they have been doing. Although science has been able to eradicate one disease after another, science is beset with new diseases appearing all the time. Recently, the new disease is AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) that is rapidly increasing in various parts of the world. Others are Zika, SARS (Severe Adult Respiratory Syndrome), Ebola and Avian (Bird) Flu. As long as people do not live in harmony with nature, but persist in the wrong types of thinking and living, of hurting other people and other beings, of holding negative thoughts, of practicing vices and indulging the passions, of improper eating habits and hygiene, then it follows naturally that people will have to be subjected to suffering. One such category of suffering we call disease.

Dr. Jagessar Das

Disease, karma, AIDS, hereditary disease, Zika, SARS

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