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Guilt - But not the guilt you would expect

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by muffin, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. Sunday, thanks for your lovely and thoughtful post.

    :ashamed: :ashamed:
    Thanks...

    Maybe I've just been really, really fortunate in all the different churches I've been to... but I've never heard this teaching in any of them. I've been a regular attender of Methodist, Baptist, House Church, Alt.Worship, New Frontiers and Anglican churches as well as the occasional visit to Catholic, Bretheren, Congregational, Episcopalian, Salvation Army and United Reformed Churches... but not one preached this idea. None of them. The only time (and I am being very honest here) was maybe once when we had a discussion in a youth group with kids from all different Christian backgrounds and none, and the question was "Do you think AIDS is God's judgement on gay people?" Some kids thought it was but the leaders clearly thought otherwise, and I kind of ran my mouth off about it and everybody was a bit quiet after that ;)

    I think what's really happening here is that you may be seeing a version of Christianity which is presented by the media, who usually write out of ignorance, and tend to present the extreme and misguided views in a disproportionate way (usually Pat Robertson, the Wessely of the theological world) because they bring in the readers. This upsets me because it's just such a gross inversion of reality.

    However, that might just be the situation in the UK -- in the US I know the religious landscape is very different.

    Rachel xx
  2. Just spotted this:

    What a great counter-argument to the nonsense illness-because-of-sin idea! (Of course, it doesn't wash with fundamentalist Hindus or Buddhists, but anyway...) Thanks Denn for posting that gem.
    Will have to whip that out and see what my Muslim friend says...

    Rachel xx
  3. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Hey All,

    Just a quick, profoundly foggy, comment.

    But first: thanks so much for the very interesting, heartening and enlightening takes on the Abrahamic faiths!

    Anyway, just wanted to say that karma isn't punishment. Karma is cause and effect. In my belief system my illness is a ripening of karma - everything that happens in the samsaric realm is - but I'm not being punished. For reasons beyond my comprehension, this experience is just what my spirit needs on its journey without a judging Universe meting out anything.

    It's kinda like I'm a beautiful flowerbed and I'm getting a load of fertilizer ;)

    Not that I haven't done many things that might warrant a punishment if one thinks in those terms :innocent1: but I don't think in those terms.

    At the moment, I don't think at all. :ashamed: So, I should shut up :mask:

    No punishment!
  4. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Ok, guess I haven't shut up yet!

    Just want to say that I worked for many years documenting the work of a major international development org. which is run and supported by a branch of Islam. It was my great privilege to get a view inside Islam in many countries around the world. One of the areas I documented was health care. In all of the conversations I had over many years with many Muslims, I never heard anyone say that illness was caused by the sins of the ill.

    Every faith and belief system heard from here, Buddhism included, can be and has been interpreted many ways.
  5. Your karma ran over my dogma...

    Thanks Koan for helping me to understand Karma a bit better. Cause and effect is a much more helpful way to think about it than punishment, I agree. I am sometimes confused about people of Eastern faiths shying away from helping people less fortunate because it helps the less fortunate people to work off their Karma quicker. Have I succumbed to believing the media's take on things rather than what's actually happening out there? Please enlighten me... (I know far less about Hinduism and Buddhism than I do about the Abrahamic faiths, although I have read Thich Nhat Hanh's translation of the Buddha's teachings which was my second favourite out of all the holy books I have read so far.)

    I too believe that sin (or, to put it another way, straying outside of the rules laid down in the universe) has effects, some of which may cause suffering (such as, if you steal a bagel from a local bakery, you can expect to go through a certain amount of suffering for that in court... but then again, you might not... or it might just be the owner of the bakery that suffers... but there's pretty much always some kind of suffering that results).

    That's interesting! Maybe I should go back and challenge my Muslim friend to get some verses from the Qu'uran which back up his statement. Cheers, Koan.

    Rachel xx
  6. Sing

    Sing Senior Member

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    Just now reading this thread. I really liked this particular reply, Esther12!

    My take is this: It has never entered my mind that I am guilty for having this illness, or for suffering anything else that I can't see a clear cause for in my actions. Some spiritual teachers advance the notion of purpose, for experiencing an illness, rather than cause. Their idea is that an illness may help one get to spiritual insights and consciousness itself better. It is a turn of the dial, a different challenge. There have been moments of pure peace, blessing, love, silence, as well as insights from this level about various questions I have held--that is my experience. However, I always return to my usual mind, ego, I guess. I say, I guess, because it is hard to assess where one really is. When I encounter a really challenging or dangerous situation, spiritual consciousness takes over. When it is "back to normal", I go back to the old normal, so far.

    But, apart from me, I see all of us having been brought into a radical place of questioning the terms of social and cultural "reality" as these have not included our experiences truthfully or adequately. Our illness has brought us to that place reflection in the bumper stickers, "Question Reality" and also "Question Authority". A shedding of old assumptions and beliefs has had to occur for us, and this can make a new, empty space for a new experience and new truths to come in. I feel that being truthful and keeping an open mind and attentive heart are ways to learn and receive something that may turn out to be a good surprise!

    We are having "good surprises" this past year, with the XMRV research jumpstarting the scientific field, and with this forum, our communication and friendship--those are two things I can point to for everyone.

    Sing
  7. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Hey Guys,

    Rachel, I'm not quite up to answering your question but I would really enjoy a conversation re this when my brain returns.

    I did want to say that one of the problems which the Buddha addressed was our belief that life should not involve suffering. Everyone's life involves suffering. It is an integral part of life. If we think it is wrong or unfair, somehow, we suffer twice -- once over the original cause and once over our sense of being unfairly afflicted or punished.

    People tend to have heard two things about Buddhism: "Karma" and "Life is Suffering", both of which are easy to get a bit upside down. "Life is suffering" (a poor translation, but never mind that) is a reference to the reality that "suffering" is simply intrinsic to life. If we accept that, we can suffer once and not suffer unnecessary mental anguish over having experienced suffering in the first instance.

    Some mental anguish cannot be avoided, of course. If you live in Haiti, your suffering will not stop once your physical wounds have been tended to. You will need to get over the trauma and live through your grief. But, even in Haiti, your suffering will only increase if you get stuck in "why did this happen to me?" And, of course, we get stuck there anyway. It is, as Esther observed, human nature.

    We also cannot see or measure the suffering of others. Some who appear to be carefree and blessed suffer terribly over things others don't recognize or understand. We know what that's like, come to think about it.

    Everybody suffers. It's not punishment, it's life.
  8. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Also...

    What Sing said!

    :hug:
  9. What she said ;)

    Let's hang out in the chat room some time if you're able to. Would also love a conversation. Faith is one of my favouritest subjects in the whole world. It's my ambition to read all of the holy books before I die. (Although I wish I'd realised just how many Hindu holy books there are before I'd promised that to myself...) I just find the whole topic so fascinating.

    Rachel xx
  10. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    Eckankar Youth

    Wow, Rachel, that' quite a goal. Good luck on your endeavor.

    Sounds like you're interested in all things spiritual. May I recommend:

    Eckankar Youth: Just Sing HU! - Ancient Spiritual Exercise

    See ya. :Retro smile:

    Wayne

    ETA BTW, Singing HU can help resolve guilt by opening a person up to the Light and Sound. Guilt simply has no place in a spiritualized consciousness.
  11. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    Okay, just one or two things jump out.

    Rachel

    Jesus was not talking about sickness concerning the blind man - blindness from birth is an affliction, undeserved although the Jewish religion would have the blame to be on the parents, and this attitude continues today amongst superstitious people, like recently in some country - was it Sri Lanka - where pregnant women were to stay inside during the eclipse and if they do not their relatives will blame them if the child is disabled. Jesus did not say anything about sickness, He just healed it when He saw it, but the Old Testament is full of dietary advice which was given to preserve the health and therefore the life of the Isrealites because of His plans to bring forth the Messiah from them .

    There must be a balance between taking responsibility for ourselves and taking on too much responsibility. Countless studies have shown that degenerative diseases are brought about by faulty lifestyle choices especially regarding diet. Accepting our own failings here does not have to bring on paralysing guilt unless we want to get out of the responsibility to eat food as it was made for our bodies - fresh unprocessed and organic and carry on rotting our bodies. It is a choice we each have to make - junk in junk out.


    And then there is the issue of pushing ourselves on top of a less than ideal diet. Many PWC have been chronic pushers in the past. So there must be some responsibility taken to how we got sick - there was an unhealthy environment for whatever viruses and bacteria load we carry in excess of normal people. But the choice does not have to be denial or beating ourselves up over it. Most people do not adopt a healthy lifestyle and it is pride to think that we were different - and in any case our culture does not support healthy eating and most of us were not given a health giving diet when young. Some people inherit worse genes than others and that is not our fault but it is our responsibility to be as healthy as we can and unfortunately for those who have weak genes it means they cannot abuse themselves like others and get a away with it.

    So the issue is what do we do once we have fallen down the hole. Do we get out or do we go into denial and stay there feeling sorry for ourselves and blaming all and sundry for it? It's not too hard to get out we just have to reverse the wrong but it takes a long time for this to happen. It takes perseverance and the alternative is to take our identity from the illness and stop trying to climb out until someone arrives with a magic pill so that we do not have to do the work ourselves but also miss a chance to grow in spirit..

    God is not punishing us but we reap what we sow unless there is a calamity befall us, but even then, He made us to be in direct communication with Him, and if we are, then He will guide us through sickness and this could take a long time to repair all of the emotional damage that has occured in us as the result of going our own way. But He wants us to be healed and will take us there if we have opened ourselves up to Him, a choice He gives to all.

    Many are put off due to the practise of false Christianity and evil people, and from what they assume for themselves from not looking in the right place. There have been many evils done true but also a lot of good, look at the work the church has done to end slavery, and look at which agencies are straight there when there has been a disaster.

    If our hearts are set against God we will not see the truth amongst the error no matter how much evidence there is and it is our hearts we will be judged on not our minds.

    Seek first the kingdom of God and rest will be added to you.
  12. Hi Brenda,

    I agree that bad health can be caused by bad diet - that much is obvious. But bad lifestyle choices tend to produce things like heart disease and lung cancer, not ME.
    I really cannot agree that ME is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.

    Before the latest bout of ME I was eating at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, mainly pescatarian with the occasional indulgence in lean red meat or chicken; regular seeds and nuts; mostly good fats. I was avoiding processed foods and especially white bread. Some days I ate upwards of 8 portions of fruit and veg. I was getting at least 30 mins of exercise a day outside in the fresh air. I don't smoke. I avoid drinking tap water and drink mostly filtered water. I drink alcohol in moderation and have never got drunk (believe it or not). I avoid allergens and we use organic / environmentally friendly products around the house. My BMI is smack bang in the middle of the healthy range. My blood pressure is on the low side of normal. I had no mental health issues apart from the occasional stress. I pray and meditate (in my own peculiar way) regularly. My only 'sin' is to enjoy a bit of caffeine (1 can a day of Pepsi).

    According the philosophy of 'you are what you eat' I should be some sort of superhero (with maybe slightly itchy superhero pants from the caffeine).

    But then came ME. How this could be the result of my lifestyle is a mystery.

    I think this advice is well-meaning but possibly on the dangerous side for people with ME, because most of us are driven, high achievers. Any hint that we're doing something wrong and the guilt alarm goes off... WAH WAH WAH.

    This is what would happen in my head: "Oh right - I've been doing it wrong. I have to persevere. Great! Let me get out of bed, get back to work, get on with life, aaaaahhh yesss! Woop here I go!" and then I go back to work and headlong into my old life trying to change the world. And then I get even more ill. (That's exactly what happened this past November when I was desperately trying to deny that the ME was back again; I just had swine flu that's all.)

    My learning experience from this (and I strongly believe it is something that God wants me to learn) is that:

    • Actually, realising that it probably *is* ME, and talking about my affliction as such, has been very helpful for me because I know that I have to surrender to the illness. Fighting it and pushing myself as was my habit before, won't work. I only started to get better once I acknowledged this fact, and then I could request shedloads of prayer - meaning, I had to start asking people for help (gulp). That is a hard thing for me. And I was able to start trying different remedies for the illness, such as the ones recommended by our wonderful community here. More on my findings later...
    • Trying to do things in my own strength actually contributed to my illness. The responsibility to make the world a better place doesn't all lie on my shoulders. I really ought to be doing things in God's strength and not my own.

    If one of your friends had meningitis, would you tell them "Stop waiting for a magic pill - eat healthily and you will be alright"? They would be dead in days on that advice. Actually what somebody with meningitis needs IS a 'magic' pill! And quick or they will die!

    In similar, but slightly less dramatic fashion, we will find a medical cure for ME... I feel convinced of that. There may not be a single magic pill but here IS likely to be one treatable cause.

    While we wait for the exciting research, there are a number of things that work but they are different for each individual. For some it may be diet, others NSAIDs. For some pacing, others the (eeek) Lightning Process. With ME, we need different strokes for different folks.

    Sorry this response is a bit rambly. But something about your post just didn't sit right with me. Maybe I haven't understood it properly....

    Rachel xx
  13. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    Rachel

    I did not mean to imply that we are fully responsible for getting ME or that it is due to faulty lifestyle alone. I said that faulty genes are a factor so that no matter how hard we have tried to be healthy we still might fail to prevent falling into the hole. Some systems need much more than others to stay on top. If we have a leaky gut for example from childhood, we will crash one day no matter how hard we tried to be healthy because healing it is so difficult.

    I don't think there is one cause for the crash, it is just a failure of many systems and medications cannot fix it unless it is a simple case like one virus or the person is young and not so badly damaged.

    Yes indeed we alphas all have to learn to slow down and listen to our bodies and what they want instead of what we want. And that takes some doing.

    But once we are in the hole, our attitude counts for a lot.

    I think what you said was good ie about failing because we do things in our own stength. God wants us to rely on Him.
  14. Sing

    Sing Senior Member

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    Brenda,

    I was touched, moved by the faith and beauty in your post. Thank you for making the effort to express your feelings and views like this. And,

    Rachel,

    I really appreciate your correctives too, for those like your self, who have done so many things "right", yet still gotten sick, and whose trouble has been lying more in guilt and trying to take on too much responsibility rather than acknowledging your illness as such, and reaching out for help from others.

    For me, both your and Brenda's understanding are very helpful because I can fall into any of those stuck behaviors at times and need to change attitudes and actions.

    Thank you both for so sincerely addressing this matter of attitude!

    Sing xx
  15. Absolutely Brenda! Well said. (Hope I didn't upset you too much with my negative comments. I think I just didn't read your post carefully enough in the midst of the brain fog) And thanks Sing for your lovely hotchocolate post... needed that today.

    Just to add -- I have found that hope is SO important... so important that I even blogged about here: Hope and cynicism

    Somebody very wise once told me: "Attitude determines altitude" which, despite -- or maybe because of -- its cheesiness, I have remembered ever since, and it is true.
    The best attitude of course is knowing that, no matter what happens, I am loved with a lasting incredible love, and that is something that I cling to when all about seems dark and bleak.

    Rachel xx
  16. Sing

    Sing Senior Member

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    Wow, Rachel! I felt that--
  17. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    Thanks Rachel and sing. Good blog Rachel.

    Brenda
    xx
  18. Sunday

    Sunday Senior Member

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    Thought-provoking post and links, freeprisoner.

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