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Disease

Disease is the retribution of outraged nature. - Hosea Ballou

In a sense, the concept of disease is very like the concept of Hell. Both conjure images of torment and evil, neither of which is entirely true. The word 'Hell' did not originally start as a means of describing the fiery brimstone pit to which souls are damned for eternity. The word Hell actually comes from the Germanic, "to hide or cover up". In fact, some religions take Hell in this more literal state to mean the "spiritual condition" of remoteness from God. (Heaven, conversely, is closeness with God.) This is also more in line with some of the ancient writings regarding the hierarchies of angels and their relationship to humanity. According to these texts, the worst punishment for an angel was to be hidden from the grace of God. As a side note, that is why when Lucifer was cast out of Heaven, Hell is where he went (out of God's sight/grace).

So how does this relate to disease? Well to begin with, most people think of disease as being evil. The phrase 'stricken with disease' alludes to the manifestation of intentional negativity. Others have put focus on the word by emphasizing its component parts - dis-ease. The word 'ease' having its origin in 'comfort or pleasure', would then mean that disease is more along the lines of being uncomfortable.

A bodily disease, which we look upon as whole and entire within itself, may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part. - Nathaniel Hawthorne

So here is where the similarities begin. First, if we think about God not so much in the western Judeo-Christian sense, but more along the lines of eastern religion, the picture changes significantly. Taoism talks about the flow of Universal energy that is in and of everything. This flow is the Law of Nature, the direction of the universe, and we are all part of it as it is part of us. If we utilize this description of God, we can see how moving with it would also describe the positive flow of Life Force through us. Picture a great rushing river, cutting gorges through mountains and sweeping across the countryside. To 'go with the flow' (aka God) is easy. We may go around a rock here or briefly get caught in an eddy there, but as long as we allow the Tao to give us direction and purpose, the Way is set out for us.

The situation is entirely different if we choose (through our own free will) not to go with the Tao. We may fight to swim upstream, or stand in its wake and be dragged under. This might not even be a conscious decision, but the results are the same. When we struggle against the river/Tao/God, we are out of the flow (aka grace), and it is uncomfortable, painful.  This is not the river's fault. If we simply stop struggling and come back into sync with the Great Way, we can once again benefit from its power and direction.

Acute illnesses are, with a few exceptions, nothing other than curative processes instituted by nature itself to remedy some disorder in the organism. - Arthur Schopenhauer

The challenge for us is to realize that when we have disease, we might simply be too close to see the whole picture. Fevers, for instance, are the body's way of killing off infections. While fevers are uncomfortable, if we focus on getting rid of every little fever, we are actually fighting ourselves. This makes the healing process longer and more arduous. It certainly can be difficult to remain objective when we are sick, but if we keep in mind that our lack of comfort is not malevolent, we may allow the greater power and wisdom of Life to help us on our way.

The symptoms of disease are marked by purpose, and the purpose is beneficent. The processes of disease aim not at the destruction of life, but at the saving of it. - Frederick Treves

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