Chapter 8.6 from "Study Circles for Divinity"
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8.6  HEALTH

WISE SAYINGS FROM DIFFERENT FAITHS

"Clear intellect, which is the essential prerequisite for thinking righteous thoughts, is developed by inhaling fresh air, drinking pure and sparkling water, eating clean and nutritious food and abstaining from drugs and intoxicants."    Zarathushtra

"A city studded with decay and death, with pride and with ungrateful hearts everywhere, - daubed with flesh and blood, and built up with bones, and such a city is this body that we look after with care."    Buddha

"But to satisfy the necessities of life is not evil. To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the Lamp of Wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear."    Buddha



FROM DISCOURSES OF SAI BABA

HEALTH

Health is an essential requisite of man. The man afflicted with ill-health is powerless to execute even the least burdensome assignment. The Scriptures proclaim that health is the very root of all endeavour in the four fields of human achievement - righteousness (Dharma), wealth (Artha), desire (Kama) and liberation (Moksha). Without health, man cannot brave temptations, earn a decent living, fulfil his basic needs, and succeed in spiritual practice. Man can engage himself in obligatory and optional functions only if he has health. (280876)

The body is a temporary habitation; it is subject to all kinds of disease and injury. Yet, the body is the boat on which alone we can cross the ocean of change or flux. The boat has to be kept trim and serviceable. It should not distract our attention more than the minimum necessary for its upkeep. It has to be used for reducing the burden of others, and should not itself become a burden on us. It should serve others, not demand service from them. That is the reason why this hospital is being established here to remedy disease and help people to keep their bodies in good condition. (280876)

What are the causes of diseases of the heart? All diseases are a reflection of the disposition of the mind. Hence, in worldly matters, men should follow the right path. (070293)

Evil thoughts cause ill health. Anxiety, fear and tension also contribute their share. All these result from greed, greed to have more of things, of power and of fame. Greed results in sorrow and despair. Contentment can come only from a spiritual outlook. (300981)

Ayurveda affirms that purity of mind is more essential for one's health while Allopathic doctors do not consider the mind as so important. They give importance to the eradication of disease causing germs and consider this as the only means to cure diseases. This does not take into account the role of the mind and the Spirit in the eradication of disease. Allopathy is based on external knowledge and experimentation, while Ayurveda is based on inner knowledge and experience. There is a gulf of difference between experiment and experience. Because of the difference between the subjective and objective approaches, in course of time, Allopathy resorted to the use of antibiotics to deal with various diseases. The antibiotics act powerfully and yield quick results in curing a disease. But, in the process of curing a disease they give rise to adverse side-effects.

Allopathic doctors experiment only with matter. They do not take the inner consciousness (Self) into account. In spite of the prodigious technological developments in the world, man is not able to enjoy peace. Peace cannot be achieved by knowledge of the physical. Peace should come from inner feeling or the Spirit within. It is only when the body, the mind and the Spirit are in harmony that peace will prevail. Medical science should recognise the role of the mind in causing sickness. Good health confers mental peace. Mental worry impairs physical health. Ayurveda, therefore, lays emphasis on mental peace and aims at the elimination of the root cause of disease. (060293)

FOOD AND DISEASE

All other species live on what is provided by nature. Man alone lives on prepared foods of various kinds. Birds and animals which live on natural foods are not prone to diseases. But man, by becoming a slave of his palate, cultivates tastes of various kinds and consumes different kinds of non-vegetarian food. It is significant that those who live on vegetarian food are less prone to diseases while meat-eaters are subject to various diseases. Man should consume what is in accord with the needs of the human body. Doctors speak about proteins. Are there not proteins in vegetables, milk and curds and pulses? Non-vegetarian food not only affects the body, but also the mind. Food, Head, God - these three are inter-related. By consuming animal food, animal tendencies are aroused. As is your food, so are your thoughts.

Men today are behaving in a manner worse than that of wild animals in the forest. They have become cruel, pitiless and hard-hearted. There is no sympathy or understanding between man and man. The main reason for this condition is the kind of food that is consumed. Students! Be careful about the food you eat. See that it is conducive to your health and happiness. The ancient sages used to eat only once a day. They declared that the man who eats only once is a yogi, the one who eats twice a day is a bhogi (enjoyer), and the one who eats thrice a day is a rogi (a sick man). Today people go on consuming food at all times, not to mention drinks and snacks in between. With the result that indigestion sets in. Young people should be satisfied with 2000 calories of food per day. This is enough to sustain them. Anything in excess will cause indigestion and sleeplessness. Loss of sleep gives rise to many ailments. Don't worry about sleep. If you go to bed without any worry, you will get sound sleep. (210590)

FOOD IS AFFECTED

The quality of the food is determined by the vibrations that it is charged with, through the thought processes of the persons who handle it, prepare it and serve it. The 17th chapter of the Gita clearly defines the nature and tastes of the three types of 'food' eaten by man; the food that promotes love, virtue, strength, happiness, and cordiality is pure (sathwic); that which inflames, arouses, intoxicates and heightens hunger and thirst is emotive (rajasic); the food that depresses, disrupts, and causes disease is dull (thamasic). The company in which food is consumed, the place, the vessel in which it is cooked, the emotions that agitate the mind of the person who cooks it and serves it - all these have subtle influences on the nature and emotions of the person who takes the final product in! It is because the sages of India realised this that they laid down many do's and don'ts for the process of eating, as for the different stages of spiritual progress. (280171)

In the past, illnesses were cured by the simple remedies that nature herself provided - roots, tubers, fruits, leaves etc., rest, change or residence, regulation of diet, spiritual practices etc. But now, man lives in an age of tablets and injections. Do not believe that health is retained or maintained through doctors; nor can drugs alone guarantee it. Were that so, the dead should all be alive now. Well, examine whether the doctors themselves follow the advice they offer to others. They are victims of the very habits which they advise against! They condemn smoking and drinking intoxicants as dangerous to health, but, they indulge in both, and thereby, encourage the very evils they condemn!

PURE FOOD, PURE MIND

It is important to ensure that the food that is eaten is obtained by righteous means. Many of the ills from which men suffer today are due to the fact that the things they consume have been got by unrighteous means.

Hence, to purify the mind the first prerequisite is pure food. But it is not always possible to ensure such purity in every respect at all times. To get over this difficulty, the way out is to make an offering of the food to the Divine and regard it as a gift from God. To the question, "Who is God?" the answer is given in the Gita verse which declares that the Lord dwells in everyone as Universal man and digests the food that is consumed. When before eating, the food is offered to God, it becomes a gift from God. All the impurities in the food are thereby removed. This helps the process of cleansing the mind. This practice has to be kept up continuously. (250590)

GOOD HEALTH AND GOODNESS

"Eat in moderation and live long". This is the advice handed down through the ages by the seers of the past. This advice is seldom heeded. People fill themselves with such large quantities of food that they find it hard to rise from the eating plate. Ruining their digestive system by consuming heavy, rich foods, the affluent are proud when they host costly banquets. Those who know that physical health is the greatest treasure take great care to eat only pure food.

Uncooked food, nuts and fruits, germinating pulses are the best. Use these at least at one meal, say, for the dinner at night: This will ensure long life. And long life is to be striven for in order that the years may be utilised for serving one's fellow-beings.

Evil thoughts cause ill-health. Anxiety, fear and tension also contribute their share. All these result from greed; greed to have more of things, of power and of fame. Greed results in sorrow and despair. Contentment can come only from a spiritual outlook. The desire for worldly goods has to be given up. One should not distinguish between 'my work' and 'work for God'. All work should be worship. Whatever the reward, it is the gift of God. It is for our lasting good. If this attitude is developed, suffering and pain can toughen us and help us to progress towards Divinity. (300981)

THE SUPREME PHYSICIAN

A strong will is the best tonic; the will becomes strong when you know that you are a child of immortality or a person who has earned the Grace of the Lord. Medicine and hospitalisation are for those who doubt and hesitate and argue about this doctor being more efficient than the other, this drug being more powerful than the rest. For those who rely on the Supreme Doctor, His Name is enough drug. I advise you to avoid disease, to avoid drugs and hospitals by strengthening your spiritual urge and invoking the Grace of God.

I must also point out to the doctors serving here, that perhaps even more than the drugs they prescribe, the sweet, soft words they speak and the love and sympathy they evince, can cure better and quicker the illnesses of their patients. Look upon them as your own kith and kin, as your special guests and as your closest friends, and attend to them lovingly and with unflinching care. I call upon you to maintain this attitude in every situation. Remember that the patient has to co-operate with you in order that you may effect the cure, and when cured, the patient confers on you satisfaction, joy and a sense of elation. Be grateful to the patient for all this. (280876)

There are some who are puzzled at the sight of a hospital here. They imply that everything here should be done through some miracle or some strange inexplicable manner! It also implies that no one who has come here should fall ill or die. I have no desire that you should live; or fear that you may die. It is you that decide your condition. All have to die, sooner or later. No one will be anxious to have the same dress on for years and years. Death is but the casting off of old clothes. When even Avatars leave the body after the task is fulfilled, how can man be saved from inevitable dissolution? The hospital is for those who believe in the doctor and in drugs. It is faith that matters, that cures. It also serves to accommodate those who are too ill to move about, yet come over to this place for cure. Those who are in the hospital will also hear the mantra "OM", the singing together and the spiritual songs and benefit by the spiritual vibrations that fill the air in this Prasanthi Nilayam. (121069)

Try earnestly to live long, without falling into the hands of medical practitioners. When they give you one injection, they keep another ready to counter its reactions! While trying to cure one disease, they cause a dozen more. Moreover, the drugs they recommend are mostly spurious, since manufacturers want to amass a fortune by hook or by crook. Most illnesses can be cured by simple living, simple exercises and by intelligent control of the tongue. Live long so that you may witness the career of the Avatar for years and years. (300981)

ESCHEW MEAT, LIQUOR AND SMOKING

Today, let it be anyone, whether one deems himself a devotee or not, he should give up meat eating. Why? Meat eating promotes only animal qualities. It has been well said that the food one consumes determines one's thoughts. By eating the flesh of various animals, the qualities of these animals are imbibed. How sinful is it to feed on animals, which are sustained by the same five elements as human beings! This leads to demonic tendencies, besides committing the sin of inflicting cruelty on animals. Hence, those who genuinely seek to become devotees of God have to give up non-vegetarian food. Calling themselves Sai devotees or devotees of Rama or Krishna, they fatten on chickens. How can they be deemed Sai devotees? How can God accept such a person as a devotee? Therefore, whether they are devotees in India or outside, they should give up from this instant meat eating.

Next, there is the question of drink. The water that one drinks is life giving. It issues from the head of Siva. It is sacred. instead of such wholesome drink, it is wrong to drink intoxicants. It makes a man forget his true nature. Alcoholic drink is utterly obnoxious. It degrades the addict. It makes him forget God. The drink addict is not conscious of what he says or does. The very sight of such a person is revolting. The drink evil has ruined innumerable families. Alcoholics have caused misery to their wives and children by wasting all their money on liquor. Of what use to the world are such derelicts?

In addition to liquor, many are addicted to smoking tobacco. Today cigarette smoking is the cause of many diseases like asthma, lung cancer, eosonaphilia and heart ailments. The evil effects of smoking can be easily demonstrated. If a whiff of cigarette smoke is blown at a handkerchief, the cloth turns red at the spot. If smoke can cause such damage to a piece of cloth, how much damage will it not do when it gets into the blood stream? It ruins one's health and shortens one's life-span. Therefore, those who aspire to become true devotees of God have to give up meat, liquor and smoking.

Drink addiction is the cause of many evils. But no government can stop this. The change must take place at the individual level. This can take place only through a mental transformation and not as a result of preaching by others. Each one has to recognise the truth and reform himself. (231194)

More than all, set right your habits, purify your conduct, cleanse your behaviour. One bad habit that has taken deep root in this area is the smoking of tobacco, an evil that is fast becoming universal. It destroys health, happiness, activity and even charm. Smoke will not quench your thirst or fill the hungry stomach. It disfigures your face and denigrates your lungs. It debilitates you and makes you diseased. Control yourself and do not yield to the snares of friends or society or, what is miscalled social convention, and become a prey to this and other bad habits. (020958)

 
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