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Did we do something to deserve this disease? Sin? Karma?

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by blazes, May 27, 2010.

  1. blazes

    blazes

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    Stone posted on a thread I started in the "Lifestyle" section so I thought I would start this thread in the "Spirituality" section. I see that it has been hinted upon on here so I thought I'd just put it out there.

    First...Please let me say this. This is a personal choice. If you disagree, please, don't try to "preach" to me about the error of my ways and recruit me into your church.

    I grew up in a Baptist church. Attended every Sunday. As has been posted, we are raised to believe in good versus evil, sinners and saints. That we are punished for our sins. In as much, at some point, most of us have been told that if we just "prayed harder, went to church more, said or did something to prove our faith to or in God better" we would get better faster, feel better, be healed.

    Now, having said that, please don't mistake that for my only reasonings for my choices. I am only sharing with you because, well, just because.

    Since having been diagnosed with ME/CFS, fibro and everything else that goes along with that, that I personally have, I have done a lot of "soul searching" and a lot of praying, reading, etc.

    There has been one religion (or should I say one way of thinking) that has brought me peace. It is not a Christian religion. It isn't for everybody. I'm not asking or pushing this on everybody...that's not why I'm writing this. I'm writing this because I'm trying to give you my experience in how I came to be "at peace" with my illness.

    Through my research and lessons...that of course were on my own because so much of what we do is....I came across a person who (just in the way she saw others and how she treated herself and others) taught me that life is not just about living trying not to do something that someone else sees as a sin. We talked for a long time. I finally asked her how/why/where she came to be so peaceful with herself and others and how to accept herself for who she is for good or bad....I use "peaceful" for lack of a better word. As we all know, a person cannot be "at peace" all the time...heck I threw a "screaming meemee" just the other day that would have burned your ears and retinas!

    Now, here is where a lot of Christians and people of other religions will be offended. I ask that you keep an open mind. I don't judge you so I ask that you not judge others. The religion that she chose is a Pagan religion. I did a lot of research. While I do not formally claim any religion, so to speak, I do recognize that there are a lot of things that can help us on our journey to finding peace within ourselves and help us get through the self doubt and self recrimination that only serves to hurt us more in the end.

    For instance....if we are feeling unwell and are in a "trough" of our "peaks and troughs" of feeling well and unwell and are sick and...well, just feeling like crap. We're laying there, wondering what we did wrong previously to make ourselves so sick now.

    How is that something that will get us out of that "trough"? Should we not be putting what little energy we do have, especially when we are ill with the flu or pneumonia or some other illness, into getting back to a "peak"?

    In using the things I read while researching my friend's religion, and others like it, I have rid myself (well, we can never truly rid ourself completely when raised with one set of beliefs - they do creep back in sometimes) of feeling like I"ve done something wrong to deserve this illness. It is what it is. All I can do is deal with it now. If I truly did do something wrong and this is my punishment, I accept that. I don't believe it to be true. If that's the case, we have all done some pretty bad things because this is a very nasty disease.

    Do you truly believe that someone with AIDS has done something to deserve their illness? Diabetes? Cancer? NO? The same applies to us.

    It is a simple matter of biology....well, maybe not a "simple" matter but you get my meaning.

    We have to accept what and who we are, what we have....and work to make ourselves feel better on an hourly, daily, weekly basis.

    There are a lot of things in a lot of religions that people can argue about. If it works for you. Great! The thing is this....Don't presume that someone isn't doing something or enough of something to heal themselves or so that any one God or Goddess will heal them.

    Be you of Pagan, Christian, or any other religion, please try to remember, you do NOT deserve this illness. None of us do. No matter what your preacher, priest, friend, family member, neighbor or a complete stranger says.

    The more at peace we are the better equipped we are to deal with the changes in our illness. We don't have the excess energy to allow someone else to make us feel something that will take away from our getting ourselves out of bed every day and attending to our own activities of daily living.

    Well, alrighty then....I didn't mean this to be so long. I just felt the need to weigh in on a topic that has been bothering me for a while.

    Kimberly
  2. kurt

    kurt Senior Member

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    Well said Kimberly.

    Like all people with CFS I have also had a lot of time to work through the 'karma' ideas about why we get sick. Also why some recover but others do not. And I don't think this is all black and white, there is more going on in our reality than just biology, there are many undiscovered energies and forces that are at work creating and sustaining life. We know the universe is full of invisible energies and forces, and no doubt there are still many we have not yet discovered scientifically but still exist.

    So why not forces of good and evil, and yes good people seem to have a higher energy and evil people do not have that, evil has a kind of darkness around itself. Therefore when we see that sick people struggle with energy it is easy for us, and for others, to make a subconscious judgement that the person must have something wrong, some moral failing, a character flaw, or may have made some mistakes they are being punished for. Their darkness, and lack of energy is easy to mistake for that of a 'sinner' or bad person.

    This is just a meme in our ways of thinking perhaps, mistaken identity, the sick person somehow reminds us of the bad person, the brain often makes generalization errors like that. The brain is superstitious in the sense that it will attribute cause and effect creatively when it does not comprehend something. Even the brain of a sick person can make huge errors of judgement about why they are sick. Nobody deserves to have ME/CFS, and while we may have inadvertently made mistakes that may contribute to our illness, such as the push-crash phenomenon, that is not likely the cause of our illness, rather our learning curve in figuring out how to deal with an enervating neuroimmune disease.
  3. blazes

    blazes

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    Thank you Kurt. I'm glad I was able to get my point across. With the brain fog I sometimes jumble things up, as we all do, and wonder if I'm making any sense which is why it takes me forever to type up a post. I read and re-read about 10 times before I actually post it and still keep my fingers crossed that someone will understand what I'm trying to say.... lol

    Everything you said goes right along with everything I was trying to get across and you added to it so nicely. Thank you!
  4. jspotila

    jspotila Senior Member

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    There is another human tendency at play in how we ascribe causation and blame to situations. No one wants to believe that something random and terrible and life changing and devastating can happen to them. We like to believe that we have control over our lives, so when someone has a dreadful illness with no diagnostic test that modern medicine does not understand it scares the crap out of people. It is MUCH easier to believe that the patient did something to deserve or create or perpetuate the illness, than to believe that any of us could be struck down at any moment by something like it. It's a defense mechanism, designed to protect that belief in control, and I would not be surprised if it is hardwired in some way.

    Doesn't make it right! But this is what I tell myself when I need to summon compassion for a person who thinks I am to blame for my illness in some way.
  5. mezombie

    mezombie Senior Member

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    Well put, Jennie. That is how I view the situation as well.
  6. Greggory Blundell

    Greggory Blundell *****

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    jspotila, 300 or so years ago Kant postulated that the causal nexus was really just some human-contrived prism through which we viewed Life's lights and shadows. That the idea of cause and effect - and blame by extension - were merely artificial constructs, tools to help us better cope with the vagaries of existance. For whatever that's worth...:Retro redface:
  7. bigmama2

    bigmama2

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    blazes, and everyone-

    excellent posts! I totally agree.

    I know it is not my fault that i have cfs. I did not cause it.

    bigmama2
  8. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Totally agree. I met an 84 year old lady at the bus stop the other day and she started talking to me. Turned out she is in a sheltered home with other elderly people and spent our five minutes at the stop boasting about her good health and blaming the other people in the home for "letting themselves go" and not being able to go out on all the day trips etc. or for daily swims that she is still able to manage. I know elderly people with cancer, dementia and heart disease who haven't "let themselves go" but are terribly ill. I thought she was being despicable but of course I just said "oh, how nice" about her trips out and when I said, "of course, people's health does vary considerably" about the other people in the home who couldn't get out, she just looked at me blankly.

    I found her attitude hateful and selfish - it's not just CFS that gets this "if you're sick it's your fault and I'm healthy because I've done the right things" approach. People can't face the reality that a lot of disease just lands randomly on people, no matter how careful they are with their health. I like, though, that you are able to try to summon up some compassion for such frightened people - I shall follow your example and try to evolve!
  9. Mithriel

    Mithriel Senior Member

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    I can't remember the exact reference but Jesus was asked if the men who were killed working on the Temple had died because they were sinners. He was angry at the suggestion. The New Testament is full of examples of the wicked flourishing.

    I can't understand why some Christian sects say that praying properly will heal you. The healing offered by prayer is a spiritual healing, to get inner strength to carry on. Physical healing may happen but that is a special gift and responsibility.

    I agree that it helps people with their fears to think that the sick (or the poor) somehow bring their trouble on themselves.

    Mithriel
  10. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    The Bible has many examples of godly people who suffered; not because they did anything to deserve it, but because God was allowing it to serve a purpose. That purpose may be hard for us to understand, but it is very clear that suffering is not necessarily happening becasue we screwed up. (That is not to say that God does not punish sin, because clearly He does.....but it is to say that the lack of physical healing does not mean that we are being punished for sin.) Job is a great exp of this. He was considered a very righteous man and did absolutely nothing to bring on all the suffering that he endured (& he went thur hell). He didn't understand what was going on, but he still trusted and praised God and ultimately he was restored. (His restoration was a very long time coming, though.)
  11. BEG

    BEG Senior Member

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    I derive a great deal of comfort in regards to this topic from, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold Kushing. He disputes the idea that God has chosen us to be punished, or that we have done something for which we need punished.
  12. dean

    dean

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    Another good critique of characterizing those with a disease is Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor....
  13. kurt

    kurt Senior Member

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    Also, when healthy people believe that the sick/poor are to blame for their condition, it is then easier for the healthy to rationalize that they do not need to offer help.

    Good example. My disability judge asked whether I felt like Job, after I explained all that CFS takes away from a person.

    Or, to elaborate Jennie's point, consider the Good Samaritan parable. The man fell among thieves, not something one is accountable for in any way. Yet it is a bad thing that happens randomly to people. From a 'karmic' viewpoint that parable illustrates how the suffering of the one may be a test for the many. When the wounded man sits by the side of the road, that forces passers-by to illustrate to themselves and others their true level of compassion, or lack thereof. The take-away message from that parable for CFS I think is that we need to make sure others can see our needs, we must walk/crawl/roll ourselves metaphorically to the 'side of the road' where others can see our needs and have a chance to help us. That may be a test for us, being willing to ask for and accept help.

    So I think one way to look at this issue, 'do I deserve this' is that all life experiences, good and bad, do give us experience with ourselves, allow us to mold and evolve ourselves. A kind of personal darwinianism (can I say that in a spiritual thread?), or to use the Biblical phrase, the refiner's fire.
  14. bakercape

    bakercape Senior Member

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    I take

    some comfort in knowing that there have been outbreaks cfs where whole communities and families have become ill. I doubt everyone in an outbreak all had bad kharma or was deserving of getting CFS. It was just bad luck. I believe God loves us all and is giving me the strength and help to live with this illness. We were just at the wrong place at the wrong time by chance.:Retro mad:
  15. Martlet

    Martlet Senior Member

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    I was thinking of the same passage, Mithriel. If you remember, the question was put to Jesus about a man born blind, wondering who was the sinner, his parents or him. Jesus asked if they imagined that those working on a tower that collapsed on them were sinners. Jews could not conceive of people suffering without deserving it, which is why the Pharisees looked down on cripples.

    So in short and answering as a Christian, I have to say no, we are not to blame for this illness. The truth is that bad stuff happens to good people too. Then as a Catholic, I think of people like St Bernadette of Lourdes and St Therese of Lisieux who suffered horribly from TB. And then Pope John Paul II whose illness was prolonged and public. I read the other day that the man even refused pain meds even at the very end, instead offering his suffering up in unity with all the suffering people of the world, so sometimes, I think, suffering particularly touches good folk, but then it is for a specific purpose.
  16. Zig

    Zig Guest

    I think of the Saviour himself. He led a sinless life, yet descended below us all. Are any of us greater than him?
    All these things shall give thee experience.
  17. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    Zig, not to at all knock your response, bc I have thought the same thing, & what Jesus did for us is beyond incredible and required tremendous suffering......but He did it voluntarily, He did it for our salvation, and He could have chosen to avoid it or make it end at any time.....to me that actually makes it even more incredible that He chose to go thru all that, but at the same time it does make it quite different from suffering that we deal with
  18. hoMEy

    hoMEy

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    hi all, i do feel that in some ways we bare the brunt of societies misdeads and mistakes (of which we are also a smallk part), inasmuch as it has provided a toxic enviroment that is not in favour of producing and keeping folk physically healthy. i don't think anyone is individually responsible for getting ill. my getting ill was no doubt due to my enviroment and also my own lifestyle but then i knew no better. i do see m.e. as an opportunity (provided i heal completely) to understand much better how to live rightly and in harmony with the world. as for what has helped me deal with this illness on a spiritual level, it was reading J Krishnamurti -
    "freedom from the desire for answer is essential to the understanding of a problem..."

    "Freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something- and it is only such love that can know freedom..."
  19. kolowesi

    kolowesi Senior Member

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    are we to blame for being ill?

    Great thread, I enjoyed reading it.

    A doctor told me that since the advent of antibiotics and other "modern" medicines, many people are kept alive who would have died in early childhood in previous generations. It seems likely that I would have died, and if that is true, then I am actually lucky to have lived so long. Genetic tests show that I have significant mal-functioning in phase I and phase II detoxification, which I think means that poisons build up in my body.

    So that's a viewpoint that helps me sometimes (to be honest, I'm still angry at the lack of treatment and the people who don't understand). It was good to read on here that others may blame us out of fear. As for the doctors who think I have some kind of character flaw (to quote Mary Schweitzer), they are afraid to step outside of the "informal consensus of opinion" that is their comfort zone. Or so it seems.

    A friend sent me this, I have not read this book, but it made me think:

    I'm glad to have people who understand about this!

    Kelly

    ETA I have a fantastic doctor now who is not afraid to treat me. But he is not close by and I can't see him as often as I would like. Also, I got a lot worse during the 11 years that went by before I found him. Though there were docs who didn't help, there were many who did.
  20. Victoria

    Victoria Senior Member

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    I have never seen chronic illness or pain as a "punishment" or "bad karma" or such. I am not religious in the conventional sense (although I was forced to go to Sunday School & Church as a child, which I eventually rebelled against around the age of 12 or so).

    I see it as an opportunity to learn something about myself & the interdependance each person has with those around them.

    I am now seeing chronic pain & illness as an opportunity - to slow down, look around me & find some true meaning in my existence. I think I was very superficial at one stage in my life - particularly in my partying 20's stage of life. Now I feel as though, my blinkered eyes are finally freed & I can see clearly who I am, where I'm going & how I want to really live my life.

    So illness, in one way, has been a very positive & enlightening experience.

    It's shown me my true nature & awareness of how I'm living my life (in the present moment). It's also given me the opportunity to be more supportive & positive in the way I relate to strangers. Perhaps "illness & pain" has given me a link to those in need. As a very solitary, reclusive type of person, illness is a good experience for me :innocent1: ).

    (Mind you, next time I have an excruciating attack of pain, I will forget I ever wrote this post saying it was a postive experience :D).

    Illness can also be seem as a very grounding experience for high flyers too.

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