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Since we were recently speaking about “The Secret” and how some people might see illness as something the sufferer brought on or “created,” I went back to a blog post integral philosopher Ken Wilber wrote about his own health, in which he discussed how one might view major illnesses through the prism of karma. After a hospital stay and a coma last December, Wilber wrote:
Many people hear of situations like this, or perhaps suffer similar ones themselves, and imagine it must somehow be retribution for some horrendous crime in one’s past. But keep in mind that karma doesn’t mean that what happened earlier in this life is finally catching up with you; the orthodox doctrine of karma actually [has more to do with] something that happened to you in a previous life.
According to the doctrine of karma, in this life, you are reading a book that you wrote in a previous life. Many people draw the erroneous conclusion that because, e.g., they used to yell at their spouses, they now have throat cancer–but that’s just not the way it works. As a matter of fact, from at least one angle, the “bad things” that are happening to you now actually indicate a good fruition–it means your system is finally strong enough to digest the past karmic causes that led to your present rebirth.
So if you were reborn, that is, if you are alive in a body right now, then you have already horrifically sinned, and unless you work it off in this lifetime, guess what? You’re coming back. Illness itself does not cause more karma; your attitude towards illness, however, does.
Therefore, if you are undergoing some extremely difficult circumstances right now, and you can meet those difficulties with equanimity, wisdom, and virtue, then you are doubly lucky–the causes that led to your being reborn now are starting to surface and burn off…
I only mention this because all too often, people undergoing difficult circumstances of one variety or another, add a type of New Age guilt or blame to an already difficult enough circumstance, and truly, that’s not only inappropriate, it’s inaccurate…if you’re undergoing some sort of truly difficult or even horrific circumstances, please don’t kick yourself when you’re down. That, indeed, would create bad karma. The good news is that you are finally ready and able to burn off the karma that led to this rebirth, and this is good news indeed–if you meet it with love and openness and a smile.