Why Do Realized Teachers Fall sick?
Question: Why do even Realized Gurus fall sick?
ramesam: Let us be clear in our understanding about a couple of things from the perspective of Advaita.
The disease and illness you observe in any person (realized or not) occurs in the body of the man.
Whatever you call as the ‘so called realization’ does not happen for the body. There is nothing like a realized body and an unrealized body. All bodies are the same in the sense that they are all modulations of the one Thing that IS.
The ‘collapse of the sense of separate self’ is generally described as realization. In other words, it is the absence of the thought of a “separate me” (ego) claiming ‘ownership’ to some of the things that exist around and ‘doership’ for the actions that happen. Thus the body of a fully realized man will not have a claimant of ownership. It will be a free floating entity like any other moving object in nature. It’s a different matter that you may continue to refer to it as the Guru’s body. ('Fully realized' means the sense of a separate self never returns and he/she is ceaselessly abiding as brahman).
Now, all bodies are within the illusory world, and hence they have only a finite life because they are subjected to constant change. There are six types of changes that a substance in the world goes through. They are: birth (jAyate), existence (asti), development (vardhate), modification (vipariNamate), decline (apakshIyate), and death (vinasyati). You may call some of the stages (modification/decline) as illness or sickness.
One may say that the above explanation does not really answer the question because the argument is circular. It is observed that all things in nature are subjected to the above stated six types of changes. So to turn around and declare that the body, therefore, is subjected to decay through illness does not satisfactorily explain it.
So let us look at it in a different way.
The body is sustained by food and therefore, we may take it that the body is made from the food stuff one consumes.
You procure the raw material for the preparation of the food - cereals (rice), lentils, vegetables, spices etc. from the market. Suppose you leave them as they are. How long can you store them? Can you preserve them permanently? No.
Next you/your wife cook them, add spices etc. and convert them into edible food. How long can you preserve the vegetables etc. you brought from market even after converting it as food? Maybe for a few more days or if you pickle them for some more months. After that they rot.
Just as you converted the raw material to food, your body changes the food into various tissues and organs (blood, bones, skin, flesh etc.). By this conversion, the raw material you started with gets preserved for some years. You may do any conversion, but the starting material like vegetables, rice etc cannot be preserved in a good condition for ever. They will not last; they have to rot and decay.
In order to maintain the body, everyone (including so called saints), eat food. Therefore, the body which is made of food will have to ultimately rot. You call this rotting as “disease.”
There are different ways by which this rotting occurs. So the bodies of different people rot in different ways.
The moral is when you start with an impermanent material, does not matter whether it is a conversion through cooking or change into the body organs of a holy man, that starting impermanent material cannot be saved from disease and decay.
Question: When the gurus know that their body is an important vehicle to enable them to do better things for the society, why don’t they keep it healthy and alive?
ramesam: From the Advaita perspective, there is brahman only and there is no-thing else. Therefore, brahman being All, brahman does not need a 'body' as a vehicle!
It is an unnecessary assumption that brahman requires a body to do things.
Take your TV screen as an example. You find a character in the movie doing things, running around, helping or harming other characters. You call it alive and active. There is, say, a big stone nearby or water flowing in that scene. You call these to be ‘not alive.’ But all these including the character ARE in truth TV screen only. The screen is taking the shape of the character or the stone or water at those specific pixel positions. Does the screen need that particular image shape to do anything? Taking the stance of the screen which is the only thing that really exists (relative to the movie) does any action take place at all? Is it not the unchanging screen sitting there permanently, irrespective of the action in the movie?
In the above comparison, the body is like a character on the TV screen. The real "you" are the actual screen. If the character picture thinks that it has to do the things, is it correct? It may be correct from its own perspective. It may think that it has to help another character picture on the screen. But if you imagine yourself to be the screen, you will know how far the pov of the character picture is real.
So being alive or dead is a categorization from the limited perspective of the character on the screen. In truth, neither the character nor its form is required for what goes on the screen. The screen takes different forms and shapes from moment to moment, from pixel position to pixel position. It is the arrogance (ego) of the character to think that it (its form = body) is required to take any action / to help or harm other in the movie.
Such arrogance comes to a man because of 'mind.'
Mind is a thought which claims 'ownership and doership' as "me and mine' for some of the things that go on. It’s like the ego of the character in the movie. The movie character thinks that it owns its shape and it is the one who is taking the actions!
A truly ‘realized’ teacher knows that (s)he is the screen. All things happen as modulations of the screen from moment to moment. He does not take any action and his body does not matter as it is just a transient shape at the moment.