From an Essay by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.)
“I” means consciousness, and consciousness means “I.” This is the fact. No doubt, in its present form the “I”-principle is mixed with thinking and thoughts, and these thoughts give size and shape to the “I.” They direct and even dictate the destiny of this “I.”
Consciousness operates like the program present everywhere in the atmosphere, while body, mind and senses operate like the TV or radio which is located in time and space. The poor condition of a TV or radio can seemingly destroy the program, but it can still be seen on other TVs and radios. Televisions and radios are the means to manifest the program, just as the body, mind and senses are means or instruments for the realization of consciousness, which is the ultimate goal of life.
The “I” or consciousness can live without the body, senses and mind, but they cannot live without the soul or consciousness. The body may be healthy or sick, but in any case or condition it is not the soul, which is always beyond, free from the body. Therefore, spiritual healing is the best healing. The body without the soul is lifeless and is not the subject matter of any type of treatment. Life and consciousness are synonymous. Life and consciousness have the first priority in any healing.
All sickness, whether physical, mental or psychosomatic, results from past karmas, qualitatively and quantitatively. No karma is the property of any one person. All karmas are created combinedly and collectively by many men and women. Thus we have domestic karmas, social karmas, national and international karmas. In addition, we have karmas created by acts of nature, such as volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, accidents. Therefore, there is no karma which is created by a single man or woman.
To overcome all karmas, spiritual healing is the best. And in all spiritual healing, meditation is supreme. Drugs, methods and systems of treatment can be changed and can also counteract each other. But spirit, life, meditation and spiritual healing cannot be changed and cannot be counteracted. Nature is the greatest Mother of healing.
There is a great difference between sickness or illness and disease, being “ill-at-ease.” Spiritual healing gives power not to suffer at all from any sickness. By spiritual healing, one can become absolutely at ease. One can overcome any disease, although the body may still remain sick. The seeds of sickness everybody has. One sickness or another is sleeping in everybody in seed form. So-called hereditary diseases are transmitted from one generation to another, from parents to their offspring. But the seed of any sickness does not trouble the carrier unless it manifests into a disease and begins to disturb his or her comfort, ease. Therefore, this manifestation of sickness is truly called dis-ease, being ill-at-ease.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi had arthritis and cancer of the arm. Ramakrishna had cancer of the throat. Swami Vivekananda had diabetes. Swami Shivananda had a stroke with right-sided hemiplegia and loss of speech. Nisargadatta Maharaj had cancer of the lungs and throat. Krishnamurti had arthritis of the backbone and trembling of both hands. Bhagavan Rajneesh had lifelong asthma. But none of these persons had any dis-ease. None was ever ill-at-ease. On the contrary, they were very happy, holy and enlightened, and everyone in their presence was happy, holy and illumined.
The body of King Janaka's Guru, Ashtavakra, was “crooked” in eight places. He was so crippled that he looked like a wheel. But he was not ill-at-ease. He enlightened many souls, and his book, the Aṣhṭāvakra Gītā, is immortalized. Whosoever reads that book cannot remain without illumination.
On the other hand, many men and women have perfectly healthy bodies, but due to their unhealthy mental and spiritual problems they are suffering from all sorts of diseases, including psycho-somatic and hypochondriac. It is said that if the mind is healthy and the body is sick, then nothing is lost. If the spirit is healthy and the mind is sick, then something is lost. But if the spirit is unhealthy and sick, then everything is lost.
Spiritual healing removes suffering completely. In a word, spiritual healing is love. This is true in medical healing also: Any medicine given without love will not have its desired result. Spiritual healing is love, meditation. And what is meditation? Meditation is complete rest, physical, mental and spiritual, qualitatively and quantitatively. Spiritual rest or meditation is the feeling of pure consciousness without any thinking, especially without any “-isms,” dogmas or confining traditions.
Real happiness is the natural state of consciousness. It is automatic. One does not have to bring it from the outside. It is different from material and sensory happiness, which are called pleasure and gratification. When consciousness is free from the domination of all thinking and thought, whether dark thought or light thought, then and only then can consciousness operate naturally. Dark forces and light forces are both needed equally. Dark forces and light forces, material and mental forces, are like the two wheels of the chariot. Both wheels are needed equally. In the dark forces, the light forces are sleeping, and in the light forces, the dark forces are sleeping. The lotus flower has its origin in the mud, and the mud has its fruition and blossoming in the form of the lotus flower. Real life, consciousness and happiness lie in the balance, transcendence and proper use of both dark and light forces.
Many men and women are sitting on a golden throne but are most miserable, and vice versa, many meditative men and women are living hand to mouth, are on the bed of death, but they are most happy and enlightened. World history tells us this fact.
Life, spirit and consciousness are synonymous. The manifestation of sickness is a defense mechanism of the body and mind to get rid of all karmas and foreign elements. In other words, sickness is a catharsis and purification of the body and mind. In the presence of spirit, the body itself is the doctor, the physician, and it naturally guides the treatment.
I love all systems of healing, Eastern and Western, but I declare the supremacy of spiritual healing, meditation, prayer and fasting…. In spiritual healing, there is no possibility of counteraction by any other system of medicine used at the same time. The first thing should be first, and other things should be according to time, place and situation.
Excerpted from an essay originally titled "I and My Sickness," written in December 1984 in London, England, and published as part of the book I Am Like the Blue Sky, Copyright © 1994 by Baba Bhagavandas Publication Trust, Monroe, New York.
Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati's writings are available either directly through the Publication Trust or the Ananda Ashram Gift Shop.