Osho answers a question by a physician and states, “Health is natural, death is natural, but disease is not natural.”
I am much confused about the following question. I am trained as a physician and I have always felt deeply that it is a good thing. But intrinsic in my work, in my activity, is a refusal to accept illness and death, disease and human suffering. Very deep, therefore, is a refusal to accept life or existence as it is. Very deep is a desire to correct some of these mechanisms of nature. All my professional activity is goaded by a fear, a deep personal fear, of sickness, suffering and death. I do not know how to view my work in the light of the whole. Please show the light of existence on this area of confusion for me.
This is a significant question, but the question arises because of a wrong attitude in Western medicine.
In the East we have a totally different outlook. The polar opposite to Western medicine is the Taoist attitude about medicine. You will have to understand a few things.
First, the questioner says: I am much confused about the following question. I am trained as a physician, and I have always felt deeply that it is a good thing. But intrinsic in my work, in my activity, is a refusal to accept illness and death, disease and human suffering.
Now, a distinction has to be made. Illness, disease and suffering are one thing; death is totally different. In the Western mind, illness, disease, suffering and death are all together – packed in one package. From there problems arise.
Death is beautiful; illness is not, suffering is not, disease is not. Death is beautiful. Death is not a sword that cuts your life, it is like a flower – an ultimate flower – that blooms at the last moment. It is the peak. Death is the flower on the tree of life. It is not the end of life but the crescendo. It is the ultimate orgasm. There is nothing wrong in death; it is beautiful – but one needs to know how to live and how to die.
There is an art of living and there is an art of dying, and the second art is of more value than the first art. But the second can be known only when you have known the first. Only those who know how to live rightly know how to die rightly. And then death is a door into the divine.
So, the first thing: please keep death apart. Only think of illness, disease and suffering. You need not fight against death. That is creating trouble in the Western mind, in the Western hospitals, in Western medicine. People are fighting against death. People are almost vegetating in the hospitals, just alive on drugs. They are forced to live unnecessarily when they would have died naturally. Through medical support their death is being postponed. They are of no use, life is of no use for them; the game is over, they are finished. Now to keep them alive is just to make them suffer more. Sometimes they may be in a coma, and a person can be in a coma for months and years. But because there is an antagonism against death it has become a great problem in the Western mind: what to do when a person is in a coma and will never recover, but can be kept alive for years? He will be a corpse, just a breathing corpse, that’s all. He will simply vegetate; there will be no life.
What is the point? Why not allow him to die? There is the fear of death. Death is the enemy – how to surrender to the enemy, to death?
So there is great controversy in the Western medical mind. What to do? Should a person be allowed to die? Should a person be allowed to decide whether he wants to die? Should the family be allowed to decide whether they would like him to die? – because sometimes the person may be unconscious and cannot decide.
But is it right to help somebody to die? Great fear arises in the Western mind. To die? That means you are murdering the person! The whole of science exists to keep him alive.
Now this is stupid! Life in itself has no value unless there is joy, unless there is dance, unless there is some creativity, unless there is love – life in itself is meaningless. Just to live is meaningless. A point comes when one has lived, a point comes when it is natural to die, when it is beautiful to die. Just as when you have been doing work the whole day, a point comes when you fall asleep. Death is a kind of sleep – a deeper sleep. You will be born again in a newer body with a newer mechanism, with new facilities, with new opportunities, new challenges. This body is old and one has to leave it; it is just a dwelling.
[…] In the East we have a different outlook: death is not the enemy but the friend. Death gives you rest. You have become tired, you have lived your life, you have known all the joys that can be known in life, you have burnt your candle totally. Now go into darkness, rest for a while and then you can be born again. Death will revive you again in a fresher way.
So the first thing: death is not the enemy.
The second thing: death is the greatest experience in life if you can die consciously. And you can die consciously only if you are not against it. If you are against it you become very panicky, very afraid. When you are so afraid that you cannot tolerate that fear, there is a natural mechanism in the body which releases drugs into the body and you become unconscious. There is a point beyond which endurance will not be possible; you become unconscious. So millions of people die unconsciously and miss a great moment, the greatest of all. It is samadhi, it is satori, it is meditation happening to you. It is a natural gift.
If you can be alert and you can see that you are not the body…. You will have to see, because the body will disappear. Soon you will be able to see that you are not the body, you are separate. Then you will see you are separating from the mind too. Then the mind will disappear. And then you will be just a flame of awareness, and that is the greatest benediction there is.
So the first thing: don’t think of death as illness, disease and human suffering.
The second thing: illness, disease and suffering are bad because they happen only when you are not natural. Something has gone wrong. Health is natural, death is natural, but disease is not natural. Disease is simply an indication that something is going wrong in your nature. For example, you have eaten too much and there is pain in your stomach. This pain is not natural, you have done something unnatural. You have not slept for two, three days, because you were running after money and it was not possible for you to sleep. Or you were fighting an election and it was not possible to sleep, or to afford that much time for sleep. You were on an election campaign, so you have not slept for three days and now the head is becoming neurotic, bursting; there is great pain in the head. This is just a symptom. Nature is saying to you. ‘Come back to me. You have gone too far away.’
Man is free and he can be unnatural. Many kinds of diseases happen only when we go somewhere astray from nature. If man lives naturally there will be no disease.
But man cannot live naturally continuously because man also has freedom. Sometimes you can eat a little too much – that is your freedom. And sometimes you can go on a fast – that too is your freedom. Man is the only animal in the world who has freedom: that is his dignity. But freedom brings dangers. The first danger is that you can go against nature. And nature is so polite that it does not shout, it whispers. Nature is very silent; its voice is very still and small. It goes on saying, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it,’ and it goes on tolerating. There is a point beyond which it cannot tolerate and the disease erupts.
Now, what is the physician meant to do? In the East the physician does not fight disease, the physician is not meant to destroy the disease. The physician is simply meant to bring the man back to nature.
The questioner asks: But intrinsic in my work, in my activity, is a refusal to accept illness, disease and human suffering. Very deep therefore, is a refusal to accept life or existence as it is. Very deep is a desire to correct some of these mechanisms of nature.
Yes, the desire is perfectly right. But it is not to correct some mechanisms of nature, it is to correct some mechanism which has gone against nature.
The physician is not correcting nature, he is only correcting man. This is a totally different vision. The physician is not correcting nature. Nature is always correct. Sometimes man can be wrong, because he has freedom. The physician corrects man.
You will be surprised to know that in China there has been a traditional concept – a very ancient tradition – that when a person falls ill he stops paying his physician. Otherwise he has to pay, if the person remains healthy he has to pay; if he falls ill then he stops paying. That means that the physician has not been looking at nature and has not been helping nature and has not been helping him to keep ‘right’, in tune with nature. The physician has failed.
This is a very strange outlook. When you are ill you go to the doctor and you pay. In China, for centuries they have been paying when they are healthy. They go to their doctor and pay because they are healthy – the doctor keeps them healthy. When they are ill, they stop paying. Why should they pay? The doctor has not been doing his job. His job is to keep people natural. This will be the vision of the future. Sooner or later, this vision has to come.
The doctor is not against nature, the doctor is only putting people right because people have the freedom to go wrong. They can.
So there is no need to keep yourself miserable – that you are doing something good, but then there is a refusal to accept disease and illness. Yes, there is a refusal to accept disease and illness, but disease and illness are not natural, they are a going astray. Put man right. You are not fighting against the whole, you are fighting for the whole against man. Let it be looked at in this way.
The questioner says that he is afraid – it is as if he is fighting against the whole. If the whole wants disease then let it be there. If this is the will of the whole then let it be there, he should surrender.
You are not fighting the whole when you are fighting the disease, you are fighting a part which is going against the whole. If the part is in tune with the whole, in harmony, there will be no disease, no illness.
But man has freedom. And with freedom many dangers enter.
If you go into the forest, into the jungle, you will be surprised to see that animals are almost never ill. I am not talking about the animals who live in a zoo – they are ill. They have become human imitators. To live with humans is very dangerous. But in a jungle, living in a wild situation, animals live and die – they are never ill. They never eat too much because they don’t have that much freedom. They never fast, they don’t have that much freedom, they don’t have that much consciousness. They don’t do anything that is unnatural. They go on doing the natural thing, and they keep healthy.
Once I went into a reserve forest with a few of my friends. One lady was with me who was really fat, exceptionally fat. She was just sitting by my side in the jeep when we went into the forest. That forest has thousands of deer, and a row of deer was passing and we were watching. I told the lady, ‘Just watch for one thing. See if you find any deer that is fat.’ Thousands of deer passed and the lady became very, very embarrassed because she could not find a single deer that was fat. They were all alike, there was not a single fat deer – because deer can’t eat too much. And when deer don’t eat too much they never have to diet, there is no need. A physician is not needed.
Illnesses like tuberculosis or cancer don’t happen in nature. Cancer happens only in a very higher kind of civilisation.
In India the ancient name for tuberculosis is ‘the royal disease’. It used to happen only to kings. It is called raj yashima – only to the kings. It never happened to poor people. It couldn’t happen. A poor person can’t suffer that much for tuberculosis to happen. Then by and by poor people became rich, then the tuberculosis became more and more available to everybody.
Cancer is a new phenomenon. It is absolutely new. It is not mentioned in any ancient medicine manual – Taoist or Hindu – it is absolutely new. It had to wait for the twentieth century to happen. A great tension is needed for it to happen. So much unnatural tension is needed for it to happen that it was not possible before. Only we can afford cancer; we have become affluent enough to have it. And our minds are becoming neurotic with desires – we are running in all directions, we are falling apart.
You need not be worried that you are fighting against nature or against the whole. You are not fighting against nature, you are fighting against the stupidity of the part which has gone against the whole. You are bringing the person back to the whole.
And remember always, a physician never heals, he cannot heal. He can only make the healing force of the whole available to the patient. It is the whole that heals. It is not the physician and it is not the medicine either that heals. The medicine and the physician and the hospital all bring the part back closer to the whole, where healing happens. The physician and the medicine were just instrumental.
You need not be worried. You are in the service of nature. You can be happy that you are doing something beautiful.
Osho, Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2, Ch 6, Q 4