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Today we have a very serious topic, the topic of Karmic Disease. So, you know, people have diseases and sometimes it’s not explainable. We don’t understand why they have the diseases. So, first you need to understand the meaning of the word karma. Karma means simply the universal law of cause and effect, action and reaction. The word Karma means action, and karma applies to physical action, but also to mental action. I mean, you don’t do anything, but you think about it. And when you think about it, you create the mental karma, and the reason why we are born in this particular condition is because of our karma. So, there is no accident that we are born in a certain family in certain circumstances, a certain country and our life goes a certain way.
It’s all because of our karma. So, karma doesn’t mean just an action, but also the result of an action, the consequences of an action. Yeah, it is the same as the action, it’s about the same nature and the same force. But if you understand that life is not only one life, but a series of lives and you have the Soul Life, a very long Soul Life, and when you are born and you forget, you know, the previous lives. So, the present life is the result of thoughts and actions you have done in the past.
And it’s not continuous sometimes. You reap the result of this action, of this thinking, in the past life, right away in this life. But sometimes it is the result of past thoughts in previous lives that comes out now. So these different actions are intermingling with each other. As it’s not a vertical line, you know, everything is not just one after the other. So that’s why you don’t quite understand sometimes, things happen all of a sudden, and you don’t know why.
But you understand the law of karma, the law of karma is that there is nothing that happens by accident. Okay. So you are born in a certain family, a rich family, a poor family, a violent family, a very depressed family, whether you were loved as a child or not. But why is the action, what happened in your childhood, is very important to influence the rest of your life? Because you reap the result of your past actions, your karma when you were young. So it determines the balance of your life okay. So, whatever happens when people are young influences the rest of their life, because of the karma that comes from the past. The whole world runs on that idea of karma, the idea of the seed, and from the seed you put in the ground the tree comes out. Okay, and the tree will create the seed. So it’s a chain of cause and effect that is continuous. So, no event can occur without having a definite positive cause. Sometimes you see the cause and sometimes you don’t see the cause.
There are three laws that come under the concept of karma. The first is the law of action and reaction. Any action will have a similar reaction. The second is compensation, which means in the distribution of the karma, there is an intelligence that is behind, so that makes everything balanced out. And in the distribution of the karmic result, there is the idea of punishment of a wrong action that is being considered as well. So, if somebody does a wrong action, then they will reap the reaction, by the Divine Law. Nobody punishes the person, it’s their own action that gives the result back and it’s very important when we talk about comic disease to understand that point.
Okay, the third is equal force and similar nature, equal force and similar nature. For example, if you break somebody’s leg, then in one lifetime you are walking around and the tree falls down and breaks your leg. This might not be a person breaking your leg, but your leg is being broken. So you experience the result of the karma of your breaking the leg of somebody. So nobody is being punished by God. It is just the result of your action. It is like a punishment.
Okay, and sometimes the opposite happens. Sometimes you receive things that you do not work for in this life. Some good thing happens to you. It’s because of the past life. Suppose that somebody gives you money. You do not have to work so hard, but somebody gives you money. Maybe because in your last life you donated a lot. So in this life, you will receive money. Okay, so Swami Sivananda says that the law of karma operates with unceasing precision and scientific accuracy. Because we don’t know so do you think oh, it’s haphazard, but it’s very, very clear.
So, is it clear? Everything is in harmony, but it operates by invisible hands behind, but it is the consequence of your own action and nobody is at fault. So, once you understand that then you would prevent it. I mean you will try to live a good life controlling your thoughts. So, you prevent negative things from happening by actively pursuing good thoughts. The law of compensation keeps everything in harmony. Swami Sivananda gave the example that if there is heat in one country, it will be cold in some other country, because of the law of compensation. If there are some bad people somewhere then there will be some saintly people also. That’s compensation.
So the law of compensation is part of the law of karma. Retribution means that every wrong action or crime brings its own punishment. It’s the same as the law of action and reaction, or more of an idea that you would suffer with pain, from the result of your bad action. So, in fact, you think wrongly that you did something to somebody like you robbed somebody. But it’s not that you are robbing somebody, you’re robbing yourself. Because you rob somebody, and then you will be losing something another time and it is by your own action. So when you lose something, it’s not that somebody is robbing you, but because you robbed somebody before. So now you’ve been robbed. So basically, you are robbing yourself. You receive the pain of losing because of robbery. So you did it to yourself.
If you hurt somebody, then you’ll be hurt. So that’s the way the law of karma works. If you hurt somebody, you think that you hurt somebody, but that same action comes back to you, it hurts you. So, in fact, it is you that hurt yourself okay, you suffer from your own action. And the root cause of karma is the desire in your mind when you do not recognize that you are this fulfilled self and you go look for happiness somewhere else. Your mind is not centered in the self but your mind is thinking of different things, from this desire of the mind, due to ignorance, and that’s how you create karma.
So desire produces karma. You work very hard to satisfy the desire. And sometimes you don’t finish in this life and in the next life you will be born in order to continue your efforts to satisfy the desire. So if you don’t want to constantly be born to satisfy desire and then desire another thing and satisfy that desire, again and again, because desire is insatiable, then you can stop the wheel of karma by practicing desirelessness, by remembering the Self, then you become satisfied and content and desireless. Okay.
There are three kinds of karma, just to remind you: The karma of the past that is in your subconscious mind, the current karma, the karma of the present, in which you experience pleasure or pain, and the karma of the future, when you react to the current karma, when you like something, you dislike something, then that will create the future karma. So, therefore, this life is about experiencing the karma of the past, and not reacting. Always be grateful, thankful. Do what you need to do, but always remember the self not to react. Because the reaction will create new karma.
So, now, how much do you want to know the causes of the karma? You can deduce, let’s say you have the karma of violence, then you have to understand because in the past, I have committed violence. And you don’t know, you don’t remember. But now you have the karma of violence. You know, sometimes violence when you were young, you were beaten up when you were young, you were abused when you were young. It’s your own karma. So, the idea is that some people want to know exactly what happened in the past. But it doesn’t really matter what happened in the past, because the current situation, if you understand the current situation, is enough. Yeah. And then you, you would think very well of the current situation, the way you work out the karma is you accept it, you accept your life. There is a sentence that says, I pray that I will change what I need to change, what I can change, and accept what I cannot change, and I will know the difference between the two.
So, your karma of the past cannot be changed, but you have to experience it. And when you experience it, try to expand your life in the most positive manner. Because if not, that creates new karma for the future. So even though we explained that there is a karma of the past and the karma of the future, in fact it is the present. Because what happened in the present comes from the past, and what happened in the present and the way how you act and react will create the future.
So that’s why in the present, if you can meditate and be very aware in the present then it will not reproduce in the future Okay, so, you imagine that the way you will experience karma is often tied with some kind of pain, some kind of shame, some kind of difficulty and you do not know why it happened but you inherit it. So, somebody would be born in a very strong body, some body will be born in a very weak body, is sick at birth, somebody is very healthy and somebody is having some kind of congenital disease so, all these are due to karma okay. Now, think about this. So, I mean Sivananda gave you the whole long list in his book Karma and Disease. There is a summary here I’m going to give you.
And it might scare you but it’s something that you need to learn because we forget that our action can have a consequence and the consequence can come in the form of disease okay, that you cannot explain why so many people have disease and cannot explain why and let’s say that you eat wrong food and you have disease of the stomach okay. So, the karma of eating wrong food will give you the immediate result which is stomach pain. When I say that you are born already with some kind of weakness in the digestive system and whatever you eat, you know you have a problem. So, there is a cause that comes even before this life and you are born with certain weaknesses. Some people are born with weakness of the lungs. Some people are born with weakness of the digestion, some people are born with weakness of the mind and the brain. Some people are born with weakness in the circulation and the heart. Some people are born handicapped with a body that has a crooked spine that is not straight, the legs that are very weak or the arms are very weak. Some people are born completely handicapped, yeah, the nose is crooked or, who knows what, a skin condition since they were young.
So all this has some origin of wrong actions in the past. Okay, so I’m going to give you the list now. So you can remember more or less Okay. So let’s say in this life, this person always has mental pain, mental pain and agony, some difficulty, all the time feeling somebody is after them, trying to harm them. You can say they are paranoiac. They feel like somebody is after them all the time. And they suffer from mental pain. They don’t have joy, they don’t have happiness. So if the person suffers all the time from mental agony and mental pain, Swami Sivananda said that it is because in a past life, we don’t know when, in some life from before, the person insulted other people and broke his promises. And he created a lot of disappointment for other people. You insult people sometimes in public and you can take something from the comfort of people, you know, their home or their property. So, then in one life you will suffer from mental pain all the time.
Some people are born with the tendency toward asthma which means a respiratory problem, inflammation of the lungs, different kinds of disease, bronchitis, pneumonia, some kind of lung disease. So, he said because in the past life the karma, the action, the wrong action, was to block up a hole of a rat or snake, making them unable to breathe. Yeah. So, anything that you have done to somebody that creates suffocation like even the fish. Sometimes you take them out of the water they cannot breathe and you make them unable to breathe and then die. Yeah, that action will create lung disease for you in the next life.
So, we must have done something like that because so many people have COVID. And COVID is touching the respiratory system and you cannot breathe, you cough and your lungs are affected. And some people have snake bites. Why do you have snake bites or scorpion bites? Swami Sivananda said because you have injured somebody with poison before so now you have a snake bite which is poisonous. So it’s always like this, you see this more or less the same nature. If somebody has a disease called Elephantiasis which is a painful and disgusting disease, that disfigmakes you disfigured, changes your form, it is from the problem of the lymph that makes the body swell, abnormal swelling and some kind of attack by parasites, it’s because you have oppressed others and you keep people in slavery and you become very proud that you abuse other people.
So, now you have a disease that is always very painful and the body is disformed, okay, because you have too much pride from before. Before you made people suffer, so now you have to suffer. Yeah. And you have to be humble because your body is disfigured. So, if you have tuberculosis, it is because
you were a miser, you were a money lender and you made people become very poor and suffer from starvation. You charged people a lot of money so now you suffer from tuberculosis.
If you suffer from leprosy, it is because, Swami Sivananda said, you led an impure life, you indulged with prostitutes so now you get leprosy. I didn’t say that. Swami Sivananda gave a long list. I’m just giving it to you. If you suffer from epilepsy in which you are shaking all the time, losing your mind and shaking, why? Because before you were very proud of your physical strength, you misuse your power by oppressing and fighting with other people.
If you get an eye disease, what do you think? What did you do? You looked at things wrongly. So, what that means is that you have envied all the people’s wealth or property. You have a lustful eye over other people’s women, you have a lot of sensual indulgence. So, now this life you cannot see. You have an eye problem. You can also have skin infection or you can all of a sudden while you are cooking something the hot water boils and then you get burned. You get burned because you have burned somebody’s house that creates maybe somebody’s death from before okay. So, skin, you create a fire that affects the skin of somebody and now you would suffer from skin infection, hot boiling. It is the same.
If you have a digestive problem, or gastritis, which means a stomach problem, it is because you have poisoned other people with bad food. Maybe you have a hotel and you give bad food and you make people have stomach problems. So, this lifetime you will also have stomach problems. If you have bad itches, your skin itches because, it is said, that you were hypocritical, you were lying about yourself. You said that you were a good person, but you many times mistreated other people, beat people by speaking harshly, treated little children badly, then you will often have itches and skin disease.
If you get ear pain, a painful humming sound in the ear, ear inflamation, if you have ear problems, it is because you have indulged in gossip. What is gossip? Talking badly about other people behind their back. You abuse other people verbally. You insult other people and you hear very obscene songs. So, then you have ear problems later on, inflammation in the ear. If you have autoimmune disorder, I mean your immune system attacks the healthy cells in your body, Swami Sivananda said it is because one lifetime you were the son that disobeyed the father and dragged the father to court. And when you do something wrong to your own father, then your own immune system will attack your healthy cells.
If you have a neuro psychiatric condition that gives you rheumatic fever, it is because you have twisted the truth in past lives. If you are a victim every time there is an epidemic and you have some severe relapse and complication it’s because you robbed people from their possessions and you shoot poor people. Now you look around and see that many people do that, robbing people and shooting people. So all these things would have consequences and they will suffer another time.
If you get cancer, gastric ulcers of the stomach, Swami Sivananda explained that because you have burned sacred books and destroyed spiritual literature. You don’t want people to study and elevate themselves. You burn the books, so now you get gastric ulcers and cancer.
And sometimes people have insanity, they become crazy, or impotent. I mean, they cannot have children. Then it could be that in a past life, they were priests that didn’t keep up the sadhana. Again, he talks about asthma, gas suffocation, cannot breathe, tumor in the brain, some kind of rheumatism and hunchback. It is because you were a capitalist that extracted labor from workers and paid them very low wages. If you get chronic diarrhea, dyspepsia, which means indigestion problems, abdominal discomfort and suffer from malnutrition, anemia and not enough food, it is because you have acted in deception. If you have hair that is falling and loss of skin color in patches, some teeth problems, it is because you have cheated people. You sell fruits and vegetables that are old, some rice that is old, you ask a high price and you make them look fresh, but you know they are not. You cheat people.
If you are obese in an incurable manner, or have a stomach tumor, it is because you were indulging in the black market to make a lot of profit from other people. Sometimes you have boils on the head and the shoulder, you have eczema, because you do backbiting. Sometimes you have some severe disease of the mouth, inflammation of the gum, because you were not feeding the guests when they came, very hungry and you’re not feeding the guests. So, you have some gum disease after that.
If you get a chronic headache afflicted with loss of memory, it is because you said falsehoods in court. Scientists that invent destructive bombs and create a lot of innocent people’s death, they can have a lot of incurable diseases and they can be born as insects and then they will be burned to ashes, the trees are being burned in the forest and then they’re being burned. If you are a doctor and you treat people wrongly and you charge a lot of money and give people fake medicines, then you have problems giving birth.
If you have emotional disturbances, you have fatigue all the time, you have headache all the time, irritability all the time, you’re born undeveloped, or a premature birth, very weak, very weak at birth. Because he said that this is because you have indulged in immoral acts in a past life. You drink intoxicants and alcohol. So this life you become very fatigued, very sick.
If you torture people in prison you will be born crippled and paralized, chronic nervous pain and rheumatism. If you talk about good people, but wrongly, you insult the saints in the Scripture, then you have cancer of the tongue. If you have dropsy which means building up fluid in the body or septic fever, it is because you were an officer who misused public money, produced false receipts, misused the money of the public.
If you have inflammation of the kidney, you have heart pain, chronic tooth pain, it is because you were a parent that beat the children, a husband that beat his wife, you committed some kind of violence. If you have paralysis and trembling of the limbs sometimes, you were a servant and you pretended to work and you ruined the boss or the master. Sometimes you get liver disease, vomiting, chronic diarrhea or blindness because you deceived other people, you act as if you are holy but to get money. You might have infection of the nose and the throat, inflammation of the tissue of the lungs and the chest because you were abusing your children that are spiritual. Okay, so that’s enough. It’s very precise.
So, when you have a disease like this, what do you do? You have to accept any kind of karma. And then you do the best you can. So the same story is as if your dress is being burned. Okay. So what do you do? First thing you need to do is to deal with the fire danger to your body. What do you need to do? You need to run to a body of water or a pond and jump in to save yourself. You have no time to sit there and ask where the fire came from, how serious is a 500 degree heat. So you have some condition in the body and in the mind and in your life, the difficulty must always come from some karma. Okay, at that time, don’t waste time trying to figure out, you know, what I did in my past life so that this condition happened. You know, you try to be a good person as much as you can all the time and you try to, you know, alleviate your condition as you can and sometimes you cannot alleviate your condition, because that karma has to be experienced, then you need to accept it and you become a good person.
So that’s the way you deal with karma. You have strengths and weaknesses in your body, strengths and weaknesses in your mind. So all this will create consequences and you will behave in a certain way that is not necessarily good. So you have to realize that it is the result of past karma. And you have to realize that now you need to be doing good things.
If somebody insults you, you still have to do good things because it comes from your own karma from the past, it’s not anyone’s fault. Yeah, but if you react to the karma, then it keeps reproducing the same thing. So that in general is the same teaching of how to deal with karma. And karma and disease means that when you have any condition, any disease in the body, it is time for you to stop. It’s time for you to stop and to slow down, pause here and to think and not to blame, not to be negative. Accept, surrender and try to do the best you can.
Okay, any questions? You can ask me, “If I have this disease, what did I do in my past life?” Well you have to meditate and use those principles. Whatever happens is always because you have to learn something and the nature of that thing, that disease or that pain corresponds to what you have done that created that pain in the past for somebody so now the result comes back to you. So if you don’t want to reproduce that then you need to take this opportunity to be very careful what you do and what you think.
So, if you have a particular body pain it is the same principle. If you have pain somewhere it must have come from something and oftentimes body pain comes from mental action, wrong thinking, creates the body pain. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. So you need to think. I have lung weakness. Yeah, so when I was young, I was very young, I didn’t do anything yet. I was very young, but I had a lung problem. So the only time in my whole life that I had to go to the hospital was when I was young, and I have some lung problems. I don’t know exactly what it was, some weakness in the lungs so it must be from karma from the past that affects the lungs. So, the weakness of the body is the lungs, the lungs are a seat of emotion, the lungs are the sadness, grief. So, it must be that I have created grief for somebody before. Or I have something that I don’t understand and dislike that creates grief to me in this life. So the weakness is the grief condition. So what I have to do knowing that I have to always try to make people happy to bring joy to other people. Okay, now if you look at the list of Swami Sivananda then the lung disease, it can come from you made somebody die from suffocation or you blocked the hole of a rat or a snake so then you know and you try not to do that.
For example, Shambhu, now he’s doing abhyanga for other people, he works on the skin of other people and he puts the oil on people and helps them with their skin. And in this list here, if you have skin infection it is because you created fires that burn people so now he’s doing this job all the time, taking care of other people’s skin. We can laugh at this. We don’t believe in this but you need to think now that nothing comes by accident in this world. That’s the main thing you need to understand. Nothing is by accident. We might not understand the reason. Yeah. But we need to be very careful not to do anything wrong, negative, because it comes back to us another time for sure in this form or that form, it will come back to us. So always do good things for other people. Say good things about other people, don’t say bad things. Don’t say negative things. You know, be sattvic, be careful what you say and do. Okay. So thank you.
Swami Sitaramananda is a senior acharya of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers and is director of the Sivananda Ashram Vedanta Yoga Farm, California and the Sivananda Yoga Resort and Training Center, Vietnam. She is acharya of China, Taiwan, and Japan as well. Swamiji is the organizer and teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Health Educator Training (SYHET) program, an 800-hour program on yoga therapy, accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).
Swami Sitaramananda is the author of “Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy” (translated in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Russian), “Positive Thinking Manual”, “Karma Yoga Manual”, “Meditation Manual”, “Swamiji Said, a collection of teachings by Swami Vishnu” in His Own Words. She is responsible for the Vietnamese translation of “Completed Illustrated Book of Yoga” (CIBY) and “Meditation & Mantras” by Swami Vishnu. Many of her video & audio lectures on Yoga life, philosophy, and psychology as well as articles and webinars can be found on this website.
Swami Sita is an ardent supporter of the integration of the Vedic sciences such as Vastu, Jyotish, Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta. She is an international teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Courses and Advanced Yoga teachers’ Training courses, as well as Meditation and Vedanta & Silence Courses both in Sivananda Ashrams in Vietnam and in Grass Valley, CA.