THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 12, October, 1931
(Pages 553-555; Size: 10K)


[Article number (12) in this Q&A Department]

HOW can one tell what caused a disease when Karma has so many ramifications?

(a) This question pre-supposes that the operation of Karmic law is very complex -- this is true. The word Karma essentially means action. All action is complex, depending on the actor's fund of experience, inner attitude and the environmental conditions. It must also be remembered that action includes both the initial cause and the effect, the effect being but another view of the act from a different standpoint of time. Since Karma works on three planes, as causes and effects, a very complicated result indeed may be produced. As for judging that particular class of Karmic effects -- bodily and psychic diseases -- it is impossible unless one has considerable knowledge of similar causes and similar effects. What man has studied the causes of diseases planted in previous lives? What man knows whether a present bodily disease was caused by a present mental outlook or a past crime? What man knows whether a present psychic disease is the result of our arrested effect that would have worked on the physical plane, or whether it was caused by a misuse of the psychic principle in the remote past? These are questions that those of the boundless vision alone can answer.

(b) It is impossible for us at our present stage to look back to past incarnations and see just what thoughts and actions brought about present conditions. However, action on the mental plane, or any other, works out its results finally on the physical plane. That is the final stage, and we say that Karma is working down and out. We can judge for ourselves by correspondence and analogy what was the higher cause whose result we see in our diseased bodies. A physical disease, nevertheless, always has a physical cause in the present body, no matter what the antecedent mental and psychical causes. For instance, a child is born into a family that has an hereditary tendency to tuberculosis. The child is not born tuberculous, but, unless removed from the infected environment, his body, with Karmic tendencies toward the hereditary weakness, will doubtless contract the disease. Another example is cancer. No one knows what causes it, but it is believed that the presence of foreign matter in the blood stream, such as is introduced by the serums of vaccination, helps to bring it about. That would be a physical cause.

What are astral diseases, and is it possible to cure them?

(a) The philosophy teaches that there is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law -- eternal, immutable, ever-active. This law is absolute and universal in its action, and works in every department of nature and man. In nature it operates as the law of action and reaction; in man it operates as the ethical law of causation. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." According to the doctrine of Reincarnation and Karma, man as he is today is the result of all his past experiences in prior lives, and the result is manifested in his mental, moral or psychic, and physical states. The three principles needed in action are mind, feeling and will -- the motive of the action is found in the principle that energized the action; hence an astral disease would have its root in the psychic principle and would be due to the misuse of that principle. Astral diseases consist of nervous disorders, epilepsy, St. Vitus dance, hysteria, insanity and congenital idiocy. Congenital idiocy, generally speaking, is incurable, due to the fact that the connection between Manas, the Thinker, and his brain instrument has been severed. Insanity due to overstrain or study may be cured, though it is usually a long process. The same holds true with deep-seated nervous troubles. The real cure for such diseases is to be found in the doctrines of a true philosophy rather than in medical science. That philosophy is found in Theosophy, for its doctrines are based on the eternal verities, or the unchanging facts in nature; it establishes a true basis for thought and action; it enables one to pierce through the effect and discover underlying causes, and thus makes for real health in future lives.

(b) The astral body is composed of physical matter, although matter of a much finer state than we can perceive with our present development of faculties. The astral body is the pattern body, so all diseases would necessarily be astral before they show physically. Any extraordinary development of astral sources of power such as shown by mediums, it seems to me, would be an astral disease. The only real cure would seem to be to live a normal, unselfish life -- to live to benefit mankind without exploitation of those powers, or the attempt to develop them for selfish purposes. Just as the astral stage precedes the physical, and survives it, whether for good or ill, so the mental precedes and survives the astral.

Is it sensible just to let Karma take its course when you are sick?

Certainly not: Karma is not "fate"; Man is the maker of his own destiny. He has the power to set in motion counteracting causes. If you saw a child drowning and you could swim, would you "just let Karma take its course," and stand idly by? Well, hardly. Just so in the case of sickness; take the best physical means possible to cure the physical ailment. It takes quite a while to get into incarnation, and then a great deal of our time is consumed in training the body, in eating, sleeping, earning a livelihood, so we have little time enough left to concentrate on matters of the soul. Would it not seem the wisest thing to do our best to keep our bodies in good working order so that we might do more work?

Suppose your family had the heredity of insanity and you escaped it in this life. Would you come back into another family where insanity exists?

We of necessity repeat an experience again and again, in this life or some other, until we have learned the lesson. It is not necessary to be insane to learn the lesson taught! In fact, the sane person is the only one fit to judge of insanity, for no insane man thinks that he is so: he considers the rest of the world queer, and himself the only sane factor in it. If, born into a family heredity of insanity without ourselves being insane, we could dispassionately judge the causes of insanity and see what lack of self-control in anger or any other indulgence leads to, we should have learned the lesson. Just passing through an experience is no guarantee of the lesson having been learned; seeing its significance, only, is of lasting benefit. In the case asked about, is it not evident that the Ego incarnated in the given family, not because it had the taint of insanity, but in spite of it, and for other reasons -- or he would himself contract the disease.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


Buddhi (the Anandamaya sheath) is but a mirror which reflects absolute bliss; and, moreover, that reflection itself is yet not free from ignorance, and is not the Supreme Spirit, being subject to conditions, being a spiritual modification of Prakriti, and an effect; Atma alone is the one real and eternal substratum of all -- the essence and absolute knowledge -- the essence and absolute knowledge -- the Kshetragna. It is called in the Esoteric philosophy "the One Witness," and, while it rests in Devachan, is referred to as "the Three Witnesses to Karma."--S.D. I, 570-1.

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(November 1931)
[Article number (13) in this Q&A Department]

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