Mental Purification and Healing
Hazrat Inayat Khan
▼ THE BOOK OF HEALTH
THE BOOK OF HEALTH
There is a saying in the East that there is one illness for which there is no remedy, and that illness is called Vahm, which means imagination. In every illness the imagination plays its role. The greater the imagination, the greater becomes that illness. But apart from illness, in every little thing in life imagination makes mischief, exaggerates it, and makes it more difficult to bear. It is not seldom, but often that one sees a person feeling tired before he has worked, at the very thought of the work. When working, that tiredness which was imagined before increases still more and before the work is finished the person is exhausted. One will often see that the head of a factory is more tired after two hours' work than the workman who has perhaps worked all day long with engines. A superintendent of a garden becomes much more tired than the gardener who has been working on the soil all day long. Often a person in the audience becomes much more tired than the singer, who has sung the whole program of the evening. And before having walked so many miles a person may have become tired at the thought of it. Imagination always leads, illness follows.
Imagination is an automatic working of the mind. One can train imagination by training thought. We must make thoughts out of imaginations. There comes a development of mind which shows itself just like the muscular development of the physical body, for each muscle is distinct and clear before it is expressed. In that way imagination is developed and trained.
There is no doubt that he who has control over his imagination can master himself and can rise above illness. It always amused me, when seeing a lady who used to give lectures, that when the lecture was still about fifteen days ahead she began to be worried; and as the worry came, then some illness followed, doctors came to examine her, and so it went on. When the day of the lecture came the lady was quite finished. Healers had to see her, occultists had to advise her, astrologers had to made her horoscope in order to tell her she would be successful in her lecture, before she would be ready to go and deliver it. This is not rare; very often one finds that one exaggerates tiredness, confusion, pain, and trouble, and makes a mountain out of a molehill without knowing it. If that person were told, he would not accept it, would not admit it, yet at the same time it is so. Out of a hundred persons, sufferers from a certain illness, you will find ninety-nine who could be cured if their imagination allowed them to be cured.
With children pain increases with imagination, and therefore the one who understands this can stop the pain of a child more quickly than by any medicine, for the child is responsive to suggestion. A grown-up person who holds his imagination in hand and does not let it loses, is difficult to help, but a child can be helped in a moment. A child may be crying in pain, and in a moment's time, if you can get its imagination away from it, you can cure it. A fear of illness comes upon many even before they have felt the pain, if a physician has told them that there is something wrong with them. The physician may be mistaken, yet the fear of the pain that is anticipate takes the place of the disease. With the mentally deranged imagination is the main reason at the back of their illness.
This does not mean that one should overlook the illness of a child. That is another thing. One should neither overlook the illness of a child nor the complaint one has oneself, for it is not always imagination. But at the same time imagination plays a great role, and it is better for a person to analyze to what extent imagination plays a part in his complaint. And he may analyze it by trying to forget his pain, to forget it entirely, by trying to deny facts, which stand before him as an evidence of illness. When a person is able to do so to that extent, then he will be able to realize how much of it is illness and how much imagination. He will also observe this phenomenon: that as soon as he withdraws his imagination from his illness, he starves his illness of the food, which maintains it; and it is possible that by this starvation illness will die. One must not overlook children's illnesses, but at the same time one must not exaggerate, one must not think too much about it; because imagination has a living effect, imagination can create an illness in a person who has not really got one. And it would be a great mistake on the part of the parents to worry over children's health when it is not necessary.
The body comprises a nervous system, which is the main mechanism of one's physical body; and this mechanism is much more responsive to imagination than is flesh, bone, or skin. The nerves instantly respond to the thought, not skin, flesh, or bone. These only partake of the influence coming from the nerves. The nervous system stands between they physical and mental aspects of being. Therefore, just as imagination can cause illness and can maintain an illness, so imagination can also cure a person of illness. Once illness is cured by imagination, what is left of that illness in the body has no sustenance upon which to exist and therefore it naturally dies out. I have often made an experiment with a person who said he had got a very bad headache. I have asked him to sing, and in the end he found that he was cured. Anything that takes the mind away from the imagination of the illness cuts down the props that support that illness; then the illness cannot stand on its feet. There must be something to hold it, and that is imagination.
Self-pity is the worst enemy of man. Although sometimes it gives a tender sensation in the heart to say, 'Oh, how poorly I am', and it is soothing to hear from someone, 'Oh, I am so sorry you are not well', yet I should think that one would prefer if another thing were said in sympathy, namely, 'I am so happy to see you are so well'. In order to create that tender sensation one need not be ill. That is needed is to be thankful. We can never be too thankful. If we can appreciate the privileges of life there are endless gifts from above which we never think about and we never value. If we think of them thankfully, naturally a tenderness is felt. And it is that tenderness which is worth having.
The animal is more responsive to nature than man, and nature helps the animal to forget its illness more than it does man, because man is not responsive to nature. Every man has his little world; it may be so little sometimes that it is like a doll's house; and in that world lives. He is not conscious of the wide world, he is not conscious of the universe; he just lives in his small world; that is all he knows, that is all he is conscious of, that is all he is interested in. And, therefore, if his world is full of misery and illness, and ill-luck, he cannot get out of it, because he has made a kind of shell, as creatures in the water make a shell to live in. The world does not hold misery for him; he has made the shell of misery for himself and he like to live in it, it is his home, be it a shell of wickedness, of misery, of goodness, of piety, or anything else.
Because of outward evidences, a person very often builds up concentration on an illness for no doubt there are outer signs of illness; but the mind has such a great power that if there is one sign of illness, the mind sees a thousand signs of illness. For instance, as soon as you begin to think that your friend is displeased with you, everything he does, whether good or bad, seems to you to have gone all wrong. And if you think your friend is loving and kind to you, all that he does seems to support your thought.
When a person begins to think he is under an unlucky star, with everything that happens, good or bad, he will think, 'It all brings bad luck to me. From everywhere bad luck seems to be coming,' Even a good thing that person will believe to be bad, because he is looking at it in that way. And when a person is living in the thought that good luck is coming to him, everything that comes is in the form of good luck.
The more we study this question, the more we find that our mind is the master of life; and we become the possessor of the Kingdom of God as soon as we have realized the power of thought and concentration upon our life. It is because of the thought and concentration upon our life. It is because of the absence of such knowledge that one does not value that divine spark which is in oneself; and by being unconscious of it one goes down and down, till one reaches the deepest depths. No sooner has one realized this, than one begins to respect oneself; and it is the self-respecting person who has respect for another, it is the one who helps himself who will help another, it is the one who can raise himself who will take another person also towards the heights. Once we have found the remedy to cure this disease which comes from the imagination, then there is no other disease which we cannot manage to get above; we only have to realize the source of perfection within ourselves.