Not Bad, Not Mad, but Sick

Not Bad, Not Mad, but Sick“An alcoholic is not a bad man, not a mad man, but a sick man”. This statement reverberated in my mind as I listened to the speech delivered by a Christian priest at an Alcoholic Anonymous. Thinking deeply, I concluded that it is true; not only for the alcoholics, but for the entire human society today.

Practically everyone within this society is sick. The media screams out substantial evidences of this fact, each day. Violence, terrorism and greed have found their feet in every corner of the world. Even amongst the wealthy, drug addiction, sleeping pills and suicide is common. Prisons all over the world are bustling with murderers, rapists, extortionists, and smugglers. They are not bad men, they are not mad men, but they are sick.

Spiritual guides of all ages have expressed it would be useless to gain the whole world if we were to lose our eternal soul in the process. By this definition, anyone who is chasing after the illusory things of this world, thereby losing the integrity of his own soul is to be considered a sick man. This means well over ninety percent of the human society falls in this category. This is an emergency situation which requires healing. But there is a fundamental need. For the healing to have its effect one needs to humble oneself to admit his sickness and turn to accept the medicine.

According to all the great preceptors throughout history, this greatest disease which has engulfed human society in flames of misery is false pride; the only remedy being the sincere calling out for the mercy of God in a humble and helpless condition, completely depending upon Him.

Lord Jesus while preaching through Jerusalem area was confronted by an extremely proud, scholarly class of men who were externally religious. Once, Jesus bestowed kindness upon a low born prostitute and although the proud priests tried to drive her away, he intervened and asked her to come inside the house. With a sincere and repentant heart, she fell at Jesus’s feet and began to cry. The priests were aghast; they couldn’t comprehend a so called holy man allowing a low class woman to touch him and they began to censure him. But Jesus compassionately taught them to recognize her genuine repentance and longing for the mercy of God. Jesus was indirectly instructing them to learn from the prostitute. The prostitute understood that she was sick and suffering. Because she recognized the gravity of her sins and offenses and had no one to turn over to and accept her, she whole-heartedly turned to God. This complete surrender made her one of the greatest saints in Christian histories- Mary Magdalene. She gave up her prostitution and developed a pure life due to her calling out for the higher power of the mercy of God.

Mary Magdalene overcame all her obstacles, while the high priests went on through their life with all their pride thinking themselves as great, never understanding what is real religion or the goal of life.

Lord Chaitanya, the fifteenth century apostle of Love of God, taught, “One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.”

Through His exemplary followers, Lord Chaitanya taught that no one is a bad or mad man, but only sick. And the biggest sickness is of the disease of False Pride and the remedy is to humbly take shelter of Lord.

(From a Lecture Given by Radhanath Swami)

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