Can I escape my karma of sickness and despair?


I am more often ill than not. This past year I spent most of my time in bed cursing and begging God for my death. Where did I go wrong in my karma? As long as I can remember, I've done nothing wrong to anyone. I've tried everything from yoga to meditation, but I always see some strong, invisible, yet evident force stopping me from my goal. Is there any way I can escape this karmic cycle of sickness and despair?

—Aditya, India/usa


Dear Aditya,

Thank you for writing, and we are so sorry to hear about your severe health challenges. We will pray for you. It is helpful to understand that when we are suffering, we are most probably paying off karma, but not necessarily from this present life — more probably it is from a past life.

But it does us very little good to try to figure out exactly why this suffering is coming to you now or what you have done in the past to deserve it. That is just a waste of time and energy. Rather than trying to escape karmic cycles, it is much better to whole-heartedly accept whatever is happening to you and then to do your best to find ways to be joyful, calm, even-minded, and cheerful, even in the midst of your suffering.

I know this sounds like a difficult thing to do, but it definitely is possible! If you read the lives of the great saints, you find out that many of them suffered quite a bit physically. But they were able to love and serve God anyway. I know it’s easy to say: “But I’m not a saint.” No matter who you are or how sick you are, you can still pray for other people who need prayers. You can still talk to God in your heart and mind. You can still use your will power to gather your energy together to create positive attitudes in own mind.

But you must make up your mind that you really want to do this. It is useless to stay in bed cursing and begging God to die. Perhaps your illness forces you to stay in bed, but you can still sing, or chant, listen to beautiful music, or read uplifting books. You can give somebody a smile or an encouraging word. You can say affirmations and you can pray for others, as I mentioned before. You can talk to God all the time and say: “I don’t know why this is going on for me, but I love you and I want to feel your presence within me all the time.”

Here’s a simple affirmation you might try. The words are from Yogananda’s Whispers from Eternity: “My body temple is filled with Light.” Say it constantly, or often as you can remember to do so. If other thoughts come which are negative or contrary to your affirmation, refuse to listen, set them aside, and go on with your affirmation. Keep your eyes and your attention lifted toward the spiritual eye while you are saying this affirmation — either saying it out loud, if you won’t disturb others, or mentally repeating it is fine, too. Don’t let your mind or anybody else tell you that your affirmation is not working. Keep going, never give up, and you’ll see results.

You say you have tried meditation but something stops you from achieving the goal. I’d suggest that you let go of having any goals and simply meditate. Please understand what meditation really is. It is stilling your body and mind so that you may commune inwardly and lovingly with your Creator, who always loves you very much.

Meditation is best done without any desire for anything to happen or not happen. Let go of all desires and simply dwell in the Divine Presence within and all around you. At the close of meditation, ask for guidance as to what to do to achieve the healing of your body and mind. Then wait calmly to receive what might be offered to you in the way of answers. If nothing comes, then try it again tomorrow and tomorrow and forever if necessary. Never let go of the thought that God loves you and is always with you, no matter what.

Love and blessings to you, dear one,