Transcendental Illness


Every human being that takes birth and survives its entry into the world, will oneday experience the process of physical death.  This outcome is a fact that unites the whole of humanity and cannot, as of yet, be prevented.  Therefore, as medicine stands today, death is a scientific fact which will occur either ‘naturally’ as the body shuts-down at the end of its life-span, or from an illness, or ‘unnaturally’ as in the case of accident, warfare, murder, or execution, etc.  It is a process that everyone has to go through and cannot be escaped.  Of course, it is entirely plausible that science will eventually be able to delay the dying experience considerably, or even prevent it entirely, but this is not the case today, despite considerable breakthroughs in medical understanding and treatments, although it has to be acknowledged that the availability of advanced medicine for many is not available due to the cost (a situation which favours the wealthy).  However, illness for many (even within privileged societies) is an everyday reality, particularly if there is no cure, or the case that medicines can only ‘control’ the situation for a time.  Even in China where Daoism is an ancient medicalised spirituality, people who are ill keep themselves as ‘free’ of angst as possible, and seek to detach a ‘clear’ mind from an ill body as much as possible.  Yes, it is true that breathing deeply and standing in the countryside is good for the human condition, as is controlling and disciplining the mind, but sometimes life is extended within a body that is ill, as it is not always the case that those who live long lives are perfectly healthy and entirely ‘free’ of any illnesses.  Life-giving regimes are vitally important, and for some these modes of life will ensure a perfectly healthy body free of illnesses, but for others, there will always be illnesses of somekind or other that must be accommodated in the general effort to acquire ‘immortality’ (which is actually defined in China as living a long life, rather than living forever).  Good Daoist masters, however, set very high standards and teach that all illness (and root causes) must be uprooted as a matter to inspire the people.  This is important and correct, but it is also important to acknowledge the efforts of those who suffer terribly, but still possess the strength of spirit to continue their training in a steadfast manner.

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