Throughout history the wise have taught that the one fundamental sin against life is separateness. Life being ONE, the all-living wholeness is weakened when any individual focuses upon himself. His selfish concerns cause chaos, strife, dis-ease, and pain for him and for the whole he helps to form. These disruptive thoughts and feelings can range from hate, greed, and intolerance to various kinds of self-pitying depressions and dissatisfactions. When we allow our minds to engage in this type of thinking, we invite these thoughts and feelings to imprint themselves on our inner mental fabric where they become poisonous thought-substances wreaking all sorts of havoc, and eventually working themselves out through various ailments and troubles.
This virulent thought-substance corrodes not only our mental and physical health but, more importantly, our spiritual health. For the poison of separateness and selfishness tends to harden and condense consciousness, preventing our inner god-light from penetrating to us. In time it creates a world filled with deep-seated anguish and discontent — an appalling emptiness that millions try to escape or fill with drugs and sensual pleasures, only to find in the end more pain and disappointment. Yet, paradoxically, it is through this very pain that our lives are found and saved. There is no better catalyst for shattering ignorance than our own self-created and self-induced pain and disharmony, which pinpoints precisely where we need to learn and grow. Life is giving us an opportunity to clear away whatever impedes our growth, helping us to move beyond our lower selves and evolve forth our greater selves. Pain and illness arrest our attention, strengthen our character, and increase our compassion. How often we abandon selfish appetites, attractions, and ambitions when we are struck by serious pain or ailments, seeking instead for truth and light and vowing to change our ways. Life is truly one in essence, and if we can begin to understand the workings of universal life in its far-reaching harmonies and disharmonies, we can begin to regain consciously the knowledge that oneness is essential for health and inner peace.
The ways we transgress against this spirit of unity are often subtle. Much of the time we are unable to see our disharmony because it is too much a part of us. Yet this negativity can frequently be perceived through the character of our illnesses, because the mind with all its forces and activities is a subtle body that reflects onto the physical body the state of our inner being. If we think and feel disruptively, so will be our health; if harmoniously and holistically, so again will follow our health. Our true state of being is consciousness, and the physical body, as a condensed copy of our mental forces and activities, mirrors in time whatever inner force is making its way down and out of the human constitution. Since it is through negative thought that we shape the characteristics of our illnesses, by taking note of the fundamental problems of any ailment, we may be able to see where we have gone wrong either in our present or a past life — for some conditions do undoubtedly stem from character traits active in former existences that are only now clearing themselves out of the system. Good-natured and noble-minded folk sometimes suffer deplorable conditions and ailments from this action. But here their spiritual and mental faculties, being strong and sound, seek to purge from the body old karmic residues. Realizing that we are able to detect disharmonies within our own nature gives us the opportunity to right these wrongs, and also to find some answer as to why we suffer from a particular condition. Understanding why we suffer can bring much-needed acceptance and peace of mind and help us to face our afflictions more positively.
Because the law of cause and effect works universally, a negative mental state not only affects our physical state, but also may give rise to undesirable psychological traits. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," succinctly states how, by harboring certain thoughts and feelings, we become and suffer their result. For instance, the feeling of hate will bring about in others a sense of being unloved, but it will also bring about in the hater an intense feeling of not being loved by others, whether or not this is actually the case. Thus we create our own psychological heaven or hell. If we feel intolerance or contempt, we will bear the effects even more directly than do those around us, and suffer perhaps from an inferiority complex. It is easy to see how this mental action can perpetuate a cycle that feeds off itself. Most times the mental effect that follows the initial thought is illusory, existing primarily within the minds of those engaged in such negativity, and does not necessarily represent the true condition of things.
By recognizing some simple laws and their operations within human nature, we can come to understand ourselves and our fellows, and receive light on many perplexing problems. Grasping that suffering arises from thoughts of selfishness, we realize that only oneness can quiet the spasms of separativeness. It is one sure way in which to heal all troubles and illnesses. At some point we must begin to look for healing within the heart; to leave behind our fears and turn towards our divine essence; to take part in a nobler existence that transcends ordinary earth-life; to feel the splendor and beauty of a love that is all-compassionate and all-enfolding, that neither fears nor feels any evil, that brings solace and comfort to those who suffer.
By forgetting ourselves we raise our heart and mind to this majestic stream within us and bring to ourselves and those around us a healing essence. But we must take the first step towards our innate divinity through devotion. This love and light have always been a part of us, yet we have been too self-absorbed to feel its rays. Were we able to drop all self-centeredness, worries and woes, attachment to worldly pleasures and treasures, and give full devotion instead to that godlike essence that binds one to all, then there would blossom forth a love that would transcend any difficulty.
There are many healing methods in the world today. But can we permanently "cure" our separateness with a potion or pill, or by merely realigning or manipulating some part of our constitution, physically or mentally? Sooner or later that which has been suppressed must come out, and unfortunately come out the worse for being suppressed. We may keep trying to put off the inevitable, finding temporary relief through suppression, but we will not find real healing until we begin to respect universal oneness.
It seems sometimes that we have lost our trust in the balancing processes of nature, and often work against her instead of aiding her. Right outside our doorstep, for example, a wonderful benediction can be found for those in distress. It is amazing how nature soothes and comforts us: there seems to be an all-encompassing empathy that helps stabilize disharmony. Our normal tendency is to withdraw from nature altogether when we are ill, and bury ourselves deeper in the darkness of our minds and homes. But were we to come out and give of ourselves, we would discover that nature graciously takes care of those who come to her. Tremendous relief can be found by opening oneself to the silence of a starlit evening or the warmth of a sunny garden, or by feeling the mystical stirrings of a coming storm. Simply to sit by a tree and feel the cool grass upon our skin, or to walk along or swim in the ocean, can help immensely. There are many ways in which to meet and greet the healing rays of love and oneness.
Again, many minor common ailments need not be suppressed, making matters worse for the future. Tolerable pain and discomfort should be allowed to work their way out without fear or tension in order to clear our heart, mind, and body. We can make peace with the process and assist it by holding onto universal love and accepting the discomfort as our liberator and benefactor. If we can unite ourselves through devotion to this spiritual source of love and oneness, IT then is the one true healer. Permeating our consciousness, it relaxes mind, organs, nerves, and tendons, allowing disease to flow out unrestricted. It softens pain and discomfort — not only for ourselves but for those around us. For when the mind is raised and focused on love for all, it no longer senses the self with its problems. Instead, it touches others with an uplifting embrace that mends and heals.
(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Theosophical University Press)