HOW TO MANAGE PHYSICAL AILMENTS
“Physical ailments are among the occupational hazards of living on this planet Earth which, apart from being in constant self-rotation, is also orbiting around the Sun, this continuous motion upon motion resulting in the phenomena of day and night, change of seasons and equinoxes. You may feel secure and stationary, ensconced in your armchair in the fastness of your home (which in Britain has the status of a castle in Law but not in India that is Bharat!) but even while your body does not move, its innards are not static – lungs expand and collapse, heart keeps beating and intestines are in spasm. The littlest of accidents in your metabolism could throw you in a tizzy. Something can go wrong in any running system; and wisdom consists in being mentally prepared for any such eventuality.
“A setback in health is ailment which is characterized by symptoms such as aches and pains. Your life-energy commences straightaway to restore the balance and you could aid its job through intake of appropriate medication and what is more important, adopting a mental attitude that is informed by fortitude. Remember, if you feel discouraged or depressed in the face of illness, it is your life-energy that has to pay the extra price.
“The mind is only a projection of your life-energy and when you allow yourself to be assailed by debilitating or pessimistic thoughts, your life-energy is loaded with the additional task of seeking to strengthen the mind, apart from attending to the physical aspects of tackling the illness. Have you not faced a situation in your car when the air-conditioning fails on your starting the engine? That is because the battery is running low on power and if you want both air-conditioning and driving the vehicle to your destination, you would end up losing both! Mark Twain writes about a particular steam-launch that had a four-foot boiler and a six-foot whistle and every time the whistle blew, the engine stopped!
“Your life-energy is maintaining both your physical and mental functioning; and if you watch song-and-dance shows on TV while you are down with fever, your recovery from the ailment will definitely be delayed. It is simple arithmetic and Thiruvalluvar has phrased it in his aphorism (Couplet No.478): ‘Even if the inlet is somewhat narrowed, you will not have misery so long as the outlet is not disproportionately widened’.
“Take physical ailments in your stride and do not moan and groan. You cannot alter your height and your complexion. Likewise an illness has thought it fit to visit your body (not your mind) and so tolerate it till it leaves. Any medication would need some time to work and there are no miracle-cures.
“Do not talk about your illness to all and sundry. They have their own problems and they would not find it a pleasure to give a hearing to you. Illness is not a Srirangam-pestle to be handed over to the next person who comes in that direction. You have to carry your own cross. Did not Gautama Buddha say, 2500 years ago, ‘Misery on account of loss of property, as a result of fire or flood or robbery can be shared between mother and son; but not so the misery from illness, ageing and prospective death.’ ?
“Ultimately your peace depends on your being mentally independent even when you are physically dependent on your kith and kin or attendants. There might be occasional deficiency in their service but do not grumble. Think how you yourself would feel, if you are to attend on a bed-bound patient.
“Nature has evolved the human form to be on its feet most of the time and not on its back. That is why the spinal column is perpendicular to the earth for you, and not parallel to the ground as in the case of the animal-kingdom. Even when illness floors you, strive mentally to get back on to your feet in the quickest possible time.
“Do your bit in this direction. Nature being a gentleman, will not fail you. Swami Rama Tirtha gives the example of a citizen offering as his gift two mangoes in the basket to the king. Can the monarch remain indebted in full view of the public? He would order his servitors to fill the basket with gold and return it to the loyal subject!”