A HEALTHY BODY AND A HEALTHY MIND (LATIN: MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO)
Health is a subject of concern for most people. Thus you see people engage in various activities in order to try to restore health. Doctor’s offices, outpatients’ clinics, and hospitals are full of patients seeking help with their diseases. Some people go to various other types of health practitioners for physiotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, herbalism, etc. People use water cures, mineral baths, mudpacks and mud baths. Some will use tissues and extracts from animals and plants, and some will try to find cures in minerals and metals. Many try to find cures in rituals, magic and amulets, while others try diet therapy, climate therapy and fasting. Others travel to medicinal baths and hot springs in far off places, or go to Mexican practitioners for cure of cancers, while others will seek bloodless surgery in the Philippines.(One of my patients went to the Philippines for this without any benefit.) People all over the world are preoccupied with health. Governments are spending an ever-increasing amount of their budget to cover health costs, and there seems to be no end in sight. Ill health seems to be like a cancer eroding the wellbeing of the people of the world.
The word ‘health’ comes from the word ‘heal’ – to cure or to make whole. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, or social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” At a glance, this definition will appear to include everything that is necessary in order to consider a person healthy. But it leaves out spiritual health that can form the basis for health in all of the other spheres of life.
If we indulge in activities that are contrary to nature, then it is nature’s way to make us sick. That occurs because of the operation of the law of cause and effect. That same principle holds at all times for maintaining proper health. A person may take up physical training and be in good athletic shape, but if he eats improperly, or attends raucous parties and oversleeps, he will likely become ill with something. Another person may be careful with his diet, hygiene, exercise, etc., but is selfish or greedy and hates others. For such a person it will be difficult to remain healthy. Again, a person might take care of his physical health in admirable ways, but deep down he is full of lust, ego, and vanity. It will be difficult for him to remain healthy. A further example can be the person who practices all the obvious health habits, but yet has no compassion for the feelings of others, or of the suffering of other creatures. He may engage in ‘sports-hunting’ and ‘sports-fishing’ and take joy in doing so. He may hunt the baby seals for their white coats, and other animals for their furs and their skins, and take great pride in making his business successful. Sooner or later such a person may cease to be healthy because many of his actions are directed against nature. He is indulging in actions that will inevitably have a reaction against him.(I understand that people would say that is their living. I do not think human reasons will overturn Divine law.)
Now, consider the whole world. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are seeing everybody in the world preoccupied with their various types of activities. See if you can judge which ones are doing things to promote the health of themselves and those around them. You will be hard pressed to find the people who are really taking care of themselves in a “total way.” How many do you not see in evil actions, actions hurting others, even animals and nature; others sitting in the beer parlors and smoking, others gossiping, or plotting against someone else to do some violence; and then those that show apathy and lack of respect, sympathy, and caring for others. If you could see the minds of many, you will see that they are cauldrons seething with passions, ego, pride, greed, hate and anger. You will see that some minds are callous; others self-centered, while others are revengeful. Others have a stream of negative emotions filling them. Some are full of fear, dejection, anxiety and opportunism, preying on the simplicity and gullibility of others. You will even see prominent religious leaders full of unholy intentions, and seeking self-aggrandizement and amassing fortunes at the expense of trusting folks. In a world such as this, is it difficult to see why disease and suffering of all types must continue? Can you not see that the answer to the health problem does not lie in medicines, or the laying on of hands, or the drinking of concoctions, or visiting exotic places for whatever cures they have to offer. These may offer temporary help by re-arranging conditions in your mind, environment, or body, but they cannot solve the problem of disease in the long run. (Of course, there are many good people around, but this article deals with disease, so I have mentioned the “negative” behavior that can be the basis of disease.)
Now, let us consider a simple formula for maintaining good health. The late Swami Sivananda said that the six best doctors in the world are: 1. Nutritious diet; (2) Clean water; (3) Sunlight; (4) Adequate exercise; (5) Adequate rest, and (6) Fresh air.
Examine this list carefully and you will see that it contains all the basic ingredients for maintaining a healthy physical life. In this context he was not discussing the mental, social and spiritual aspects of health.
It would be good if you will take a moment and ponder on the issues I have raised in this article. While making this consideration, always keep in the back of your mind that whatever you sow, that is what you will also reap. This law is universal and unalterable, just like the law of gravity. You may seek help, guidance and advice from others, but make it your duty to maintain your own health.
Dr. Jagessar Das
Health, disease, mind, patients, hospitals, medicines, Swami Sivananda