Bad Karma – Is it to blame for your poor health?

Bad karma, good karma … karma in general often seems to bear the blame, at least in the modern pseudo-spiritual world, for everything that comes our way, including our state of health. But is this mysterious force really what’s behind all that ails us?


Improvements to our overall health and well-being has been marginal over the last couple decades, even with seemingly huge advances in medical science and technology. I’m not talking about things like mortality rates or eradication of communicable diseases in developing nations – but more specifically, the improvements to general health in countries that have, for a long time now, championed the modern medical model of healthcare.

Where I come from, things haven’t changed too much in a long, long time. With all the scientific breakthroughs, we’re not really living any longer than we did a century ago … and our quality of life … well, has it improved very much, really?

To the modern scientist, this is a difficult reality to acknowledge; a phenomenon that makes little sense. Why, with all the recent advances in biology and medical technology, does the modern health professional seem to be struggling as much as ever to make people better?

Our yogic perspective on health might shed a bit of light on this mystery.

A focal mantra in health care today is to “treat the cause and not the symptoms” of the disease. Understanding what the real problem is, however, is not always easy. That’s mainly because the modern medical mindset still has a long way to go to fully understand the real “cause and effect” mechanism of human health – the thing the yogis call karma (not bad karma … just karma).

Many folks still consider illness as an unfortunate event, disease as something that they were unlucky enough to have “caught,” or an accident as “being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” But as Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri used to say: “Accidents are just people looking for a place to happen!”

It’s hard, though, to acknowledge our own involvement in the process of our misfortunes … and perhaps more importantly, our own role in remedying them. Instead we seek help from the “professionals” — counsellors, therapists, and specialists — to “fix” us.

The yogis have advised us though, that the only way to really overcome our troubles – even our physical ones – is through greater understanding. That process begins as a personal exploration of the true source of our pain and turmoil. Until we delve into that arena, this law of cause and effect, this law of karma, will remain a relentless fact of life.

But modern medicine, for the most part, remains fixated upon the physiological processes of the body and endeavours to uncover only the steps in the chain of biological “effects”. It has not properly identified the real cause and effect relationships, those that originate within the individual in the form of attitudes, beliefs, and the level of understanding of the interrelationship of all beings and the world around us.

This also raises a bigger question. If someone is experiencing disease as a result of their bad karma (which indeed they are), and their only true and lasting liberation from their suffering is a deeper understanding of themselves, then how can the “healer” help them?

Perhaps more importantly, is the healer really helping them if they are dealing with disease only on the physical level? After all, bad karma does not simply dissipate and vanish into thin air because we’ve rubbed or cut or medicated some physical pain away. In fact, approaching healthcare in that way can, in the end, keep people from actually finding the true source of their pain and ill health. It creates the illusion that “everything has been fixed” and, even worse, it creates the impression that we, ourselves, are not wholly responsible for our own state of health.

As healers it is difficult to stay detached. Most (and yoga teachers and therapists too) have chosen their profession because of a strong desire to help others, and seeing a patient in visible pain can make following a course of “non-action” a hard decision to make. In fact, in most developed countries, doing so could even get a doctor into a heap of legal trouble!

Ultimately many people are not able to free themselves, to recognise the true nature of their pain and unhappiness and to stop the influence of Karma upon their Being. As healers, we must not loose site of that truth either. We have a responsibility to not only remove pain, but also to remove “ignorance” (its cause). Sometimes, when repeated lessons are simply not being learned, the removal of ignorance can only come through great pain and suffering, which will eventually lead to an “ultimate realization” (or else a removal from this body altogether).

As healers, we must facilitate, as much as possible, our client’s necessary spiritual transformation for their ultimate healing. As Sri Krishna teaches us in The Bhagavad Gita, we must learn to perform the right action, in the right way, at the right time … knowing that everything, even pain and suffering, has its purpose in this evolutionary journey we call life.

About the Author:

Yogacharya is the director of International Yogalayam,

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