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"Spiritual Perspectives on Illness and Health" by Emma Bragdon

Most people who are ill at some point ask themselves, "Why me?" Every mother of a disabled child wonders, "Why did my innocent child get this infirmity?" What natural questions. What profound questions.

Ask a priest for an answer and you might hear a response like this: "God wills it. It is your job to accept the problem and not question God's will."

Spiritists (Brazil's Spiritualists) give a different answer. While recognizing Jesus Christ as a model human being, they also believe in reincarnation and karma. They believe that we continue to grow lifetime after lifetime-even between lifetimes-to become increasingly more loving and wise. Spiritists also believe in cause and effect, i.e. everything one does has an effect. If you treat the world with kindness, kindness will be returned to you. If you create problems, more problems will come to you. Taken from the Bible this universal law is "What ye shall sow, ye shall reap." Eastern philosophies refer to this law as "Karma".

On December 12, 2005, my group and I spent an evening with Tania Appel. She is a medium at John of God's sanctuary. She has been a volunteer at the Casa de Dom Inácio since 1991. Her father is a physician and her mother is a medium.

What Causes Illness
I left our discussion with the following answers to the question, "What causes illness?"

- An Agreement. Some people who are ill have been able to remember a time they chose to be ill-for a certain purpose. This choice often occurs before this lifetime begins-when a soul is deciding what lessons are important to learn in the proceeding lifetime.
A visitor at the Casa, Leigh, very ill for 15 years, puts it this way:

"I CHOSE to experience illness in this lifetime for several reasons. To learn to increase my compassion for others, to feel what being ill was all about, to learn the value of beauty and life unseen by most, to learn that I can heal. That last was the lesson/gift given me in Abadiania. The gift to me has been my communication with the spirit world, and my facilitating others to do the same. Many do all these things without illness, I'm not sure I would have. I maintain, and always have, that I have been more gifted by this illness than hurt. I also believe there are those who did come just to experience illness, just as there are those who came to experience starvation, being very wealthy, etc."

A mother dealing with a child who was born with serious medical problems who visited the Casa is inspired by the Kabbalist perspective: that parents should assume responsibility for a child's infirmity, not to take blame for it, but to recognize that the child may have chosen the illness as a gift to encourage the parents to grow.


- Karmic debts from this lifetime or another lifetime. If one has been cruel to others in the past, one may be disabled, even "brought to one's knees" in this lifetime.
An illness will teach patience, surrender, acceptance, humility, and compassion for others. Those who are incapacitated are more likely to meditate on profound questions, such as, "What is the meaning of life? How can I give my life more meaning?" In quiet moments one is more likely to find connection to the love of God, spiritual guidance, and one's guardian angels. In quiet moments one is more likely to do the work of forgiveness. Some will recall the negative behavior of past lives, and forgive themselves and others for the hurtful behavior that transpired. Thus, one can rectify oneself for past karma and begin to live life in a different way.

Judging others for having karmic debts is, however, neither wise nor kind. Why anyone suffers from illness is a complex issue. Only an intelligence more expanded than the ordinary human mind knows the true reasons why anyone is ill-and it is best that finding answers to the question "Why me?" be left to the conversation between the ill person and their God, or spiritual guidance.

Leigh, writes: "Having blame (for being ill) placed on me by some, never helped. We all have Karmic debt, myself absolutely included - yet, many of us who are ill are tired of hearing we have 'dis-ease', and Karmic Debt - that we are sick mainly because we were 'bad' in a past life. For Pete's sake! Each person is doing the best he or she can to be happy and live a good life. Dishing out guilt and shame does not help a sick person become well."

- Lack of willingness to do one's work. Each of us has chosen to perform a certain mission in our lifetime. Examples: to lovingly parent two children, to be a community leader, to grow vegetables so others may eat. If one never takes the time to innerly ask, "What is my mission in life?", one may never come close to completing the contract. With the seclusion and quiet and rest of illness, one asks, "What is my life really about? What is important for me to do before I pass on?"

I have heard many stories of terminally ill people, who left their beds and went on to a healthy, happy life after realizing what each really needed to do and to be, and who he or she needed to be with.

Tania's mother was almost limited to a wheelchair before reaching the Casa due to congenital rheumatoid arthritis. She learned patience and perseverance. She had studied spiritual literature for thirty years, always a positive, giving person. Late in life she was totally healed at the Casa, making it easier for her to be of service to others. According to the entities, such remarkable healing was facilitated by her dedication to her work and study.

- Self-centered behavior. If the purpose of living lifetimes is to ultimately make us more loving and wise-then self-absorption and egotism obstruct fulfilling that purpose. The more we reach out to actively assist others, the more aligned we become with the true purpose of life.

This does not mean that you need to be punishing towards yourself, and not take care of yourself. Instead, it means treat yourself and others with respect, as a sacred being learning lessons in the school of life. Empathize with others' difficulties and others' joys. Live as if others feel the same depths of pain as you have felt-and open your heart to help those being challenged, when you are able. We are truly all spiritual brothers and sisters. Our ideal is to live in loving brotherhood.

- Negative attitudes (e.g. anger, bitterness, resentfulness, envy, sense of being a victim). It is human to feel some negative feelings when one is diagnosed with illness and given a prognosis of an abbreviated lifetime. However, each of us has a choice: Do I descend into being absorbed into these negative attitudes-proving over and over that I have a right to be angry and feel cheated? Or, do I pull myself together and make every moment as rich, as funny, and as delightful as possible? Do I close down into self-pity, isolation and crustiness, or do I stay open to loving connection?

The medical statistics are readily available: Negative emotions and attitudes depress the function of the immune system, in other words, they support and enable disease states. Metaphysicians and clairvoyants also agree that negative thought-forms darken the energy body (aura) and seed physical disease.

What Causes Healing
Once we realize that the cause of illness lies in the spirit and soul, we realize what we need to do to progress the soul-which is essential in eventually healing the body:

- Choose to be kind, positive and life affirming in both attitude and behavior. Take joy in life-but not at others' expense. Choose to help others, as you are able. Live in the truth that we are all loving brothers and sisters in spirit. Do this and dark thought-forms will have no place to reside in your energy field. Your heart will be full, you will radiate light, your thinking will become clearer, your immune system stronger.

- Become more disciplined. Changing your attitudes and habits of reacting and behaving towards others is not always an easy task--especially if you have made a habit of being selfish and automatically reacting with negative responses to life.

Spiritists study "The Gospel According to Spiritism" by Allan Kardec to reinforce learning positive ways of being in the world. This book is divided into chapters that provide commentaries on various parables in the New Testament of the Bible. The commentaries were given by highly evolved Spirits, channeled through mediums, and compiled by Kardec (an academic and scientist), who also writes some commentary. Discussing this inspired book with others assists us to think and act rationally as we integrate the true purpose of life into our daily ways of being in the world.

- Harness your mediumship. Each person has special sensitivities, or gifts. It is up to each one of us to learn how to harness these gifts to benefit others. Each individual needs to first become aware what his or her gifts are, and then find a way to cultivate them.

Spiritist Centers in Brazil are known for giving free food and spiritual healing to all in need. They also provide free classes to make it easier for people to study "The Gospel According to Spiritism" and to train themselves to improve as mediums.
Most importantly, if you feel you have received the gift of mediumship from God, give it, in turn, freely to others: pray for them, assist them to clear the darkness from their energy field, assist them to forgive themselves and others for past cruel behavior.

In sum, it is easy to see why the Casa de Dom Inácio is such a powerful healing center. People are spending 3-6 hours a day in current, Wednesday through Friday. This creates more discipline in life as well as bringing us into more direct communion with our spiritual guidance. Sitting still, we come to directly know and understand what gives life meaning and we recall why we are alive today. John of God is a model of an individual who is performing a strenuous mission. Those gifted with healing mediumship have a place to practice their gifts, and learn how to improve their skills and deepen their understanding.
Take part in this way of life and you naturally become increasingly more loving and more positive-as well as more whole.


"The Gospel According to Spiritism" translated by Janet Duncan, is available for free download at

John of God will be consulting people in Atlanta, Georgia from April 2-4. If you want to come, you can register at

Emma Bragdon, PhD., has led groups visiting John of God since 2001. She is the author of "Spiritual Alliances: Discovering the Roots of Health at the Casa de Dom Inácio" and "Kardec's Spiritism: A Home for Healing and Spiritual Evolution". Her books are sold at the Casa and on her website She can be contacted by phone in the USA: 802-674-2919 or Email: