For most people, acute illness is an event of the body, which is subject to attack by various malign types of germs, bacteria and viruses. We tend to envision the body as a battlefield and the attacking germs aggressively target the cells and organs and the body fights back with an immune response. The combination of the effects of the attack and the defense create the symptoms that we associate with a particular illness.

The above view, however, is not either accurate nor complete. There is a direct connection between thoughts and suggestions sent by the mind. If the mind believes in the virulence of a disease, or its contagious nature, it predisposes the body to accept that illness. In fact, through a fixation on catching the illness an occult connection is created that actually invites the illness into the being.

The vital envelope, which provides a first line of defense against illness when it is strong and vibrant, can be undermined through fear, or through stress, over-indulgence in sex, exhaustion through excessive effort, or even an outburst of anger.

If we view the ever-changing landscape of the action of the three Gunas, the qualities of Nature, it is a well-known phenomenon that an excess of Rajas, which incorporates passion and action frequently leads to an uprising of Tamas when the energy recedes. Tamas brings darkness as well as weakness to the being, and it is this weakness that provides an opening to acute illness and chronic disease.

The carrier of the encoded seeds of illness in the form of bacteria or virus must first gain a foothold in the body in order to take advantage of the conditions available there for its growth and reproduction, and the eventual symptoms of illness. Disturbance of the body itself through inadequate nutrition or through physical conditions that weaken the physical frame, such as facing extreme cold or heat, or tests that lessen the endurance and stability of the body, enhance the opportunity for predatory action, and may also weaken the protective vital envelope from inside by reducing the energetic support for the aura.

It must be noted that those who are sensitive to the aura, or vital envelope, can often feel pressure from an illness attempting to break through and affect the body. It is possible at this stage to either enhance the resistance through suggestions of strength, as well as the use of physical aids that suggest to the subconscious mind that help is being provided (whether actual help or the action of the suggestion itself in the form of the placebo effect). On the other hand, if this pressure is felt and the mind accepts the suggestion of ‘inevitable’ illness, then the vital envelope is weakened and the illness finds the path cleared before it to take hold in the body.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “That is how illnesses try to come from one person to another — they attack, by a suggestion like this or otherwise, the nervous being and try to come in. Even if the illness is not contagious, this often happens, but it comes more easily in contagious illnesses. The suggestion or touch has to be thrown off at once.”

“There is a sort of protection round the body which we call the nervous envelope — if this remains strong and refuses entrance to the illness force, then one can remain well even in the midst of plague or other epidemics — if the envelope is pierced or weak, then the illness can come in.”

“They [the subtle forces of illness] first weaken or break through the nervous envelope, the aura. If that is strong and whole, a thousand million germs will not be able to do anything to you. The envelope pierced, they attack the subconscient mind in the body, sometimes also the vital mind or mind proper — prepare the illness by fear or thought of illness. The doctors themselves say that in influenza or cholera in the Far East 90 p.c. get ill through fear. Nothing to take away the resistance like fear.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 2, Planes and Parts of the Being, pg. 18

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.