Illness, Sickness, and Illusion

In Grace and Grit, philosopher Ken Wilber presents a very important distinction between illness and sickness. When a person experiences a disease, at least two interrelated but non-identical perspectives come into play. Illness is a description of a pathological or non-normal state in the body. It is material, it can be measured empirically, and it often can be medically identified. Sickness, on the other hand, is culturally defined. It refers to the meaning ascribed by the person with the illness to their current state.

Science tells us when we are ill. Culture informs us when we are sick.

Today, one of the largest challenges we face is that the American culture is sick, and this has translated into people being ill. The degree to which all aspects of life are connected is no more readily apparent than with health.

The Western mind has inherited the illusion that we consist of a separate body and mind, that we are separate from each other, and separate from Nature. The consequences of this illusion are evident as we continue to pollute our bodies, mind, and environment. As with any illusion, once it has been exposed, its power to hold sway is diminished. Behind the illusion is a universe that emphasizes unity instead of separation and cooperation instead of competition.

Consider that the way we treat our food, our water, our environment, our bodies, and our minds is the same, because we are the same. Remember that there is no such thing as a tiny act. The more conscious we are about the creative nature of our thoughts, our language, and our actions, the greater the opportunity we have to manifest a healthier life.

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