Physically, particularly as he progresses, such a person loses his appetite, that is to say, he loses his desire for material things like food and drink and sleep and other kinds of physical enjoyments. He becomes very casual about them. Some people are born that way. According to our understanding, we Hindus say that in their past incarnations they have achieved this state they have gone through their period of struggle and have achieved this freedom from desire. When Sri Ramakrishna saw Swami Vivekananda for the first time he was very much impressed by him. He said, I found the boy had no consciousness of where he was or what he had on or where he sat.’ He had no consciousness of those things at all. Just imagine the beauty of that state! How much of our energy and time and feelings are involved in little things what food we eat, what kind of house we live in, what kind of clothes we put on, how we appear to others. Am I looking attractive and right, or are crow’s-feet appearing and grey hairs coming? all these big problems are on our heart. Our whole life goes like this; we have a keen sense of competition, expressed or unexpressed, and we are caught in those things. But these people get beyond all that. Further, they get beyond a sense of time. Night comes, day comes they don’t know any difference. We always associate night with sleep, and so we fall asleep at night. Not so with them; nor are they overcome by a sense of fatigue. A little rest and they are as fresh as ever.
It is said of the sleep of people in this middle state that they do not lose consciousness, they only lose consciousness of external things, and another kind of consciousness comes alive in them, which can be likened to meditative consciousness. They become unaware of the external: if someone speaks near them, they don’t hear it; if somebody touches them, they don’t feel it, and yet deep within there is a greater consciousness awakened. When one wakes from this kind of sleep he feels as if he has come out of a very deep meditation. Sleep for him therefore is superior to waking consciousness, because in waking consciousness he has to be aware of the world of relative forms, but when he is asleep he is free from this involvement in sense perception, and he becomes conscious only of that which is beyond the senses of spiritual existence, God.
If you ask such a person what he wants, does he want name and fame, does he want anything of the senses? No. If you ask him, Sir, what shall I give you for your birthday?’ it is hard for him to come to a conclusion about it. Can I get something for you?’ It is not easy for him to say at once, Yes, I want this.’ His mind has changed. If people honour him or dishonour him, all right. If the body is healthy or ill, all right. Not that he doesn’t take care of his body; he will take reasonable care of it. But in spite of everything, illness does come to the body; if it comes, let it come.
Some of you think that if you are spiritual your health should bloom. I don’t know what the body has to do with spirituality, but by all means let it bloom. I, too, want it to bloom, but let it do so without asking a price from spirituality. If it doesn’t ask that price and it blooms, welcome. If it doesn’t bloom, that also is welcome. If God can create health, you like it; if He creates illness, you don’t like it. But whatever has been touched by His hand is celestial, wonderful! Don’t ever mistake it. Life is wonderful, because He created it. Death is wonderful because He created it. Health is wonderful, illness is wonderful, because both have been created by Him. Or don’t you think so? You think God created half of it and the other half was created by somebody else? Then that somebody is also a creator, equal to God. Of course, there are some who will not admit that; instead, they go through all kinds of gyrations of philosophy and reasoning to prove health is created by God but illness is not. Well, I confess I have not been able to grasp the essence of such arguments. Simple-minded as I am, I come to the conclusion that if anything is created by God, then everything is created by Him; so why hug good health and not ill health? As a matter of fact, let us forget all these things. From a psychological point of view, he alone conquers ill health who is not affected by it.