Life always presents something to be learned. The body itself is a kind of vehicle for learning. Very few lives are lived without the challenge of illness, which is a particularly demanding form of learning. The American psychic and seer Edgar Cayce (1876-1945) remarked that, not only is bodily illness always a sign of imbalance and imperfection in the psyche, it can be and is often (or always!) meant as a lesson in patience, an experience that we ought to embrace as humbling to our own sense of pride and ego. As the ego is the ultimate obstacle to growth, enlightenment, and true knowledge and experience of the oneness of all things, the humbling experience of illness can be extremely valuable to those who choose to view it correctly. Of course, it virtually goes without saying that having the proper attitude toward illness is one of the most difficult things in the world.
The British writer Aldous Huxley (1896-1963) had some similar insights on illness. He talked about health being a state that aids immensely the mystical quest to know Liberation, Oneness, and Light, and remarked how much added difficulty there is in knowing and perceiving these things when we are beset by illness. And yet, in his best and most moving description of an enlightened, liberated, saintly figure, described in his novel Time Must Have a Stop, the final and most inspiring scenes involve a description of that character simultaneously becoming finally and fully enlightened while all the while dying of cancer. Because he knows that he is dying, and because he has gradually developed a kind of absolute trust in God over the course of his lifetime, he embraces the process of death, and releases all fear and sense of separation from his mind. This is the final lesson and growth experience of his life, the way by which he is able to finally set aside all vestiges of ego, and became completely one with the Source, even as his body ceases to be.
The ego has a natural fear of sickness, a fear that can be all the more enhanced by the knowledge that illness is a reminder of our own human imperfection, something that each of us has something to learn about. And yet, as is the case with so many things in life, its ultimate value and meaning lies in how we look at it. Illness, if we can allow it to, can represent cleansing. Just as when we have a cold, and the body reacts by sneezing and ridding itself of congestion in order to cleanse itself of germs, we can react to sickness by allowing it to cleanse the ego itself.
– article by Joe Turiano