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Understanding relationship between religion and health

How can religion and health have a connection? You may wonder. Health is to do with the body (and mind) and religion is concerned with the soul. What is the link? Very surprisingly, one helps to understand the other in some deeper way.

 “After all, this body itself is a sickness that inflicted the soul”.     – Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi

Assume that you are too critically sick, all the efforts of doctors and specialists become no avail, but you are too desperate to live. Will you not, even if you are a non-believer right now, attempt to pray to a higher force that many call God, to extend you a helping hand?

In the histories if great spiritual masters, there are umpteen incidences where people suffering from incurable diseases get cured miraculously, through intense prayers and by the divine grace manifesting through the spiritual masters. Let us assume that after your sincere and heartfelt prayers, you start recovering; will you not begin to turn to religion (or develop faith in God), keeping aside your past misgivings about religion, God and spirituality?

If you deeply think of health and ailments, you can easily grasp the fact that medical science tries to attempt getting solutions to ailments, but they never succeed 100%. If medical science is omni-potent, the phenomenon of death should have been eradicated long back! Is it not common knowledge that when people want to inquire deeper into the phenomenon called death, they do not delve into medical books, but into religious scripture for enlightenment!

Think of this: Many times, a medicine found suitable and effective in a particular patient does not produce an equally effective cure on another patient. The serious and negative side effects caused by a medicine in one person is not found to be so damning in another person. Why? Is there a divine dispensation behind these?

One of my relatives got a serious ailment in his liver and the doctors predicted that he would at the best live for 2 more years. But he lived for 9 years more.

A contagious decease cause by a virus affects several members in a family; but a mother who nurses them all at the family is not affected by it. Why? Is there a divine dispensation behind these?

Hinduism explains all these through its Karma theory. Suffering due to illness or any other unexpected and inexplicable loss of health in a person may have nothing to do with his omissions and commissions in the recent past, but it could be due to his Karma done in his previous births.

Thus questions about health lead one to think more about religion.

If you probe deeply and sincerely into religion, you will get lots of exposure to what Bible says or what other scripture/ great masters say about health.

Health is not just related to your physical health, but mental, intellectual and spiritual health too. The more spiritually one evolves, the more he understands that he is not the body, he is not the mind, not the intellect, not the ego, but his true existence is somewhere still deeper.

Assume you are suffering from severe pains on account of your sickness. When you fall into deep sleep, what happens? Do you feel the pain then? No. In deep sleep state (which Hinduism calls “sushupti”), you don’t even get dreams. Dreams are nothing but the machinations of your mind. So in deep sleep, you are not the body (because you have no body consciousness) and you are not the mind (because mind is not working – you have no thoughts as you have in wakeful state, or as in dream state).

Since we perceive most of the things with body and mind only, were you then dead at deep sleep state? Were you totally unconscious? No. Why? Because, when you wake up, you express satisfaction that you enjoyed a very refreshing and peaceful sleep! Who was that enjoyer of that peaceful sleep? Find it out – says a great Hindu Spiritual Master Ramana Maharishi.

So religion makes you to think deeply about your health. When Jesus was crucified, was he feeling healthy? What made him to undergo all the suffering and still not think ill of those who committed the heinous crimes against him? Doesn’t it show that Jesus did not think of him as body? If he had thought of him as a body, would he not have got very concerned about his health?

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a great spiritual master of Hinduism was afflicted by throat cancer. He was treated by several doctors, but to no avail. But, till his death, he was talking and giving spiritual instructions to his disciples; he transmitted spiritual power to his disciple Vivekananda despite his severe throat pain and a near impossibility of swallowing any food.

Ramana Maharishi too got cancer in his arm. He allowed different schools of medical practitioners to treat the cancerous growth, and he was simply behaving like an uninterested witness to all the pain and suffering they inflicted upon him through their modes of treatments. He was operated upon thrice and at one time, he did not allow use of any tranquilizers too!

When his devotees wept seeing the sufferings that he underwent, he used to say, “After all, this body itself is a sickness that inflicted the soul”.

In a nutshell, the more you are concerned about your bodily health, the less religious and spiritual you are. The more you are oblivious to the health of the body but concerned about the health of your soul, the more spiritually evolved you are.

Unless one learns the intricacies of a religion by the right knowledge of spirituality, one cannot easily grasp this secret.