The answer lies in a single word: REPRESSION
Yes you have read it right. Many Buddhist monks, including the Tibetan Buddhists get Diabetes. They might be very evolved souls, with years of meditation and spiritual practises under their belt, but they too can’t escape the immune system of the body which will not be tricked with repression or suppression, rather it needs expression!
Loving kindness: one of the principle Buddhist teachings is practising loving kindness toward the enemy; they say love your enemies and forgive them. So basically it is a repression of anger towards the enemy and jumping to loving kindness straightaway. But when this is done intellectually, the immune system reacts by producing endorphins in the body which are natural morphines i.e. numbing like substances that affect glucose metabolism. In the long run, the body is high on endorphins which increases the glucose level and decreases insulin production, hence Type 2 Diabetes is contracted. Not only that, this is also a form of spiritual bypass, where one jumps directly to the stage of forgiveness and loving kindness without feeling the anger first. It is like you are telling yourself, “I have forgiven my enemy” and your body goes yeah right! When you say, “I don’t want to feel anger anymore”, the body releases endorphins, which is a natural anesthetic. Essentially, the immune system cannot be tricked or fooled. To understand this better read my article titled, anger is okay, but why? The Chinese have done a lot of atrocities to the Tibetans over the years. One can send loving kindness but unless they become aware that they are upset and unless they express that anger, any kind of joy or compassion won’t be understood by the immune system. They are especially repressive of their anger. To treat diabetes is to deal with their anger. We are constantly sending signals to the immune system. Endorphins are like narcotics. Too much in the body means you are repressing things in your life.
While eastern spirituality and Buddhism have many things to teach the western world, they also have a lot to learn from western science. Cultural conditioning has a huge impact on our behavior; for example, what we think is right or wrong, what we are allowed to express or not, what beliefs we hold dear, what traditions we stay near, what customs we value more, etc. Spirituality is also dependent on culture. That is why there is a vast difference in the spiritual principles and practises among the eastern and western worlds. Studies have shown that culture is in fact more powerful than genetic factors when it comes to diseases. One may be predisposed to a certain illness because of heredity or genes, however, whether that person actually gets that disease depends a lot on his/her emotional health, belief systems and the culture they are navigating. It is all cultural. Biology is cultural. Medicine is cultural. Spirituality is cultural. Hypertension, for example has nothing to do with stress. It is repressed emotion. Our thoughts and emotions affect the immune system, the nervous and endocrine systems more than genetic or biological factors.
Dr. Mario Martinez, the famous author of the Mind-Body Code, has done extensive research on Buddhist monks as well as Catholic monks and his studies reveal fascinating truths about the mind-body connection. While many Tibetan Buddhists get diabetes, many Catholic monks and nuns suffer from prostate and ovarian problems, cervical cancer etc. because of sexual suppression. He goes on further by stating that intellectualizing these concepts of loving kindness, forgiveness etc. do not work. Rather embodying them by first being willing to feel our difficult emotions in our bodies and then processing them to release from our system is a far healthier approach. He also talks about epigenetics and how our genes are constantly interacting with the environment. We are born with our genes so we believe if our parents have a certain disease with genetic disposition, then we would get it too. But it is not like that; it depends more on what we do with our lives and how we process our emotions. The immune system is not a protector, rather a confirmer of the consciousness we present to it. Hence if you change your consciousness you change your immune system. However, it cannot be intellectualized. It has to be a mind-body process of integrating the consicousness. If you have a defenseless disempowered consciousness, you have a disempowered immune system and empowered consciousness has an empowered immune system. Illnesses are easier to treat than the fear you have of coming out of the illness and then having to do what you would have to do without the illness!
To explain this further I wish to draw analysis between the physical and the spiritual worlds. Mankind has always tried to solve the greatest puzzles of the Universe and of life itself, sought answers to life’s most pertinent questions, to know it all, yet one lifetime is not enough to unravel all the mysteries of the Universe. While we are physical beings, our true nature is spiritual, etheric, intangible, just like the mind which cannot be seen, but we know of its existence. The body is a physical manifestation of the mind. So any dis-ease in the mind will show up as a disease in the body, because the body literally reacts to the mind. Thoughts, beliefs, fears, anxiety, worry, stress are all languages of the mind. The mind uses these tools to navigate life and the body just follows the dictates of the mind. Emotions are a mental process. Emotions are clue to informing us that something is going on in the body. And our immune system responds to emotions. Now it is very nice to know about the spiritual realities of our existence, concepts like we are all one, love is the ultimate answer, joy is what we want to experence, etc. However, when these principles are used to bypass ourselves and escape our own uncomfortable feelings that is when it becomes counterproductive. To learn more about this read, understanding negativity & its purpose.
While it is great to imbibe some kind of spiritual practises in our lives like meditation, creative visualisation, positive thinking, grounding, yoga etc. it is definitely not recommended to suppress our desires or repress our difficult emotions. That kind of practise would be more detrimental than beneficial in the long run. Rather embracing all of ourselves and expressing our truths is a faster way to self-realisation than denial of our inner expressions. Channeling our desires or anger toward more creative pursuits is a good practise, like expressing them through art, sharing with a willing friend, not isolating ourselves during our own difficult times, being willing to feel are far healthier than rigid celibate practises. You cannot talk anyone out of their negativity. Rather listen to them, so they can get past it faster. To hell with all the perfection and goodness. If you want to stay alive and healthy, you need to stay authentic. Authentic to yourself and to others. Many diseases and their symptoms are reversible. But we have to be willing to process the emotional factors that lead us to the diseases in the first place. Perhaps it will threaten the attachment relationships, or require a career change that is sucking the lives out of us, or maybe eliminate certain energy vampires from our lives, but such changes will lead us to more self-awareness. Your occupation occupies you, but the process of life actualizes you. So ask yourself, in what area of your life are you not saying, no? Even if you are very evolved, what are you repressing? It is usually in the areas of work or personal relationships. And work on those areas. Say ‘no’ when you want to. Usually the repression was because some needs of yours went unmet, to begin with. So try to meet those needs first, before you can rise up the vibrational scale of ‘feel good’ emotions. The process of life itself is towards more self-knowledge, self-realization. We have to be willing to be kind to ourselves first, before we can be kind to others or receive kindness from others. Same goes with love, forgiveness and other such higher vibrational emotions.
Shame, guilt and feelings of abandonment are the biggest factors that lead to chronic and terminal diseases. And we need to work through these aspects of our consciousness. Usually these feelings come from unresolved childhood trauma. The cancer personality, for example is an overgiving, self-abandoning, people-pleasing personality. This may have a basis in childhood when our parents did not have time for us, or rejected our emotions so we learned to cope by rejecting our own emotions, when they did not value our feelings nor give importance to our emotions and blamed us indirectly for their misery; thus we developed shame for ourselves and because we needed their love and affection for our survival, we tried to please them always and therefore learned to repress our feelings and such behavior continued well into adulthood, as a people pleasing personality.
Dr. Martinez talks about the kind of righteous anger that is actually great for the immune system. If for example, you see someone being violated, someone’s innocence getting robbed, you want to protect that person. Instead if you say, “oh I am one with the universe, so I won’t get angry”, you’re actually commiting a crime. Protection against hostility is an act of non-hostility. Listen to this very enlightening lecture by him uncovering the Buddhist principles deeper in the video above, as he emphasises on embodiment rather than intellectualizing anything for that matter.