Can Karma Cause Disease?
Q: Sadhguru, every day I see so much disease and suffering around me. Many times, it has deeply bothered me as to why a human being should suffer like this at all. It seems so unreasonable that one human being enjoys good health and another one suffers. Can you tell us why disease? What is it, and where does it come from?
Sadhguru: There are many aspects to disease. “Dis-ease” essentially means you are not at ease. When your body does not know how to rest, the energies become chaotic. For example, when people with asthma attend the Isha Yoga programs, once they start meditating and doing the kriya, the asthma disappears for many. This is because their energies become more organized within a few days of practicing the kriya. For some others, the asthma may go partially. This is because the asthma is only partly due to chaotic energy. Another part has deeper karmic reasons. For a few, there is no change. This is because there are very strong karmic reasons for the disease. There might also be external situations that have not changed.
How can karma cause disease? There is something called prarabdha, the allotted karma for this lifetime. Prarabdha karma is written into your mind, body and sensations, but its deepest recording is in the energy. How can information be recorded on the energy? This is a living experience within me. I am not sure if it is being explored scientifically, but I know that someday, science will find a way to do this. At one time, we had to write whatever we wanted to record on stone tablets. From there, we moved onto books, and now we have moved to discs and chips. What could be written on a thousand tablets can be written in a single book. What could be written in a thousand books can be recorded on a compact disk. What could be put onto a thousand compact disks, we can now store on a small chip. Someday, what we now store in a million chips will be recorded on a little bit of energy. I know it is possible because it is happening within me all the time, and it is happening within everyone. The energy itself functions in a certain way. Everyone’s energy, or prana, does not behave the same way. It behaves according to their karmic bondage. The deepest recording is in the energy. This is like karmic backups. If you lose your mind, it is still in the body. If you lose your body, it is still in the energy.
Using up the Energy’s Allotments
The energy has allotments. There are many complexities to this but to put it very simply, there is a certain amount of energy dedicated to action, another amount to your emotion, another to your thought process, and yet another for the experiential dimensions within you. The way people are living today, their emotions are not finding full expression. That part of the energy, the unexpressed emotion, cannot become something else. It either has to find an emotional expression or it will turn inward and do funny things within you. That’s why there are so many mental problems in Western countries.
It is said that one out of every three Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. One of the major factors for this is that there is no room for emotional expression in those cultures. Anything emotional is looked upon as a weakness, so it is suppressed. Ninety percent – or even more – of the people in the world, never find full expression for their emotions. They are afraid of their love, their grief, their joys – they are afraid of everything. To laugh loudly is a problem, to cry loudly is a problem – everything is a problem. They call this “modern culture”. I would say this is a restrictive culture, which causes you to behave in a certain way. If your emotions never find full expression, that energy can turn around and do a lot of damage to you.
Another aspect is that activity levels in modern life have come down dramatically. People are not using their body the way human beings used to. But the physical body is the major aspect in you, even today, so the maximum amount of prarabdha karma is allotted for activity. This proportion may vary from person to person, but it is usually like this. If this unused energy stays there, it could easily cause disease. The modern mind is going through a unique kind of neurosis that was not there in the past because man has stopped using his body to a large extent. When you involve yourself intensely in physical activity, a lot of your neuroses are worked out because your nervous energy is used. But modern man has become more inactive and neurotic than ever before. It has become a common phenomenon in society that everyone is in some level of neurosis simply because the energy allotted for physical activity is not worked out. It is trapped because physical activity is so low. You will find that people involved in high levels of activity – for example in the form of a sport like mountain climbing – are in a different level of balance and peace because of the full utilization of physical activity. You will not find such a person so entangled in sexuality and other physical drives because one aspect has found full expression.
One result of this inactivity is disease; and above all, the lack of activity and trapped energy cause restlessness. This agitation in the body may become a physiological disease in some people. In others, it may not become disease but they are anyway agitated and in “dis-ease”. Their energies are always struggling within. They cannot even sit quietly. If you observe people, the very way they sit and stand shows they are not at ease. They have only brought practiced gracefulness to themselves – how to walk, how to stand and how to sit. But if you take away the unease in your movements in this way, it will build into your energy because it is unable to find expression. It shifts to yet another dimension where it is easy to find expression, so disease happens because the energy turns inward.
This is one reason why our brahmacharis are into so much activity. Anyone who sees the level of their activity would wonder why someone who has come to pursue their spiritual practice is working twenty hours a day. In people’s minds, spirituality means someone half-dozing under a tree. This is not so. Their work is part of their spiritual growth. The reason for this is, I want them to finish all the allotted energy in their prarabdha karma, let us say, in five years’ time. If they expend this karma, then there will be no need for action. The action will be by choice, not out of compulsion. Now if you ask him to just sit, he will simply sit. There will be no struggle.
From Activity to Meditation
That is what we are doing in the higher level programs like Bhava Spandana and Samyama. Through immense, body-breaking activity, you use up the energy allotted for activity faster than you would in normal life. This gives you a space to sit unmoving. Then, meditation will come naturally to you. When there is still unused energy allocated for activity, you cannot sit because the energy is trying to do more.
There are also other aspects to disease. There are karmic reasons why your energy functions in a certain way and causes disease. If people are diseased for karmic reasons, that is different, but many people in the world need not have disease. Today, medical science is more advanced than ever before, yet people have not become free of disease. Both the physical and emotional energies, though they are large allotments, are not being used. The only thing being used is mental energy – what is allotted for thought. For example, let us say there is money allotted in your country’s budget: so much for education, so much for development, so much for industry, and so much for energy. The major allotment goes toward energy and if it is not used, your economy suffers. That is all that is happening in the body. It is extremely important that body, mind, emotion and energy are properly exercised and made use of. Only then life stands on firm ground in all levels and will happen in a balanced harmonious way.
Editor’s Note: Excerpted from Mystic’s Musings. Not for the faint-hearted, this book deftly guides us with answers about reality that transcend our fears, angers, hopes, and struggles. Sadhguru keeps us teetering on the edge of logic and captivates us with his answers to questions relating to life, death, rebirth, suffering, karma, and the journey of the Self. Download the sample pdf or purchase the ebook.