Excerpted from the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda:-
The devotee who has achieved final salvation in the Lord finds that his body has completely fulfilled its purpose; he can then use it in any way he deems fit. His work in the world is to alleviate the sorrows of mankind, whether through spiritual means or by intellectual counsel or through will power or by the physical transfer of disease. Escaping to the superconsciousness whenever he so desires, a master can remain oblivious of physical suffering; sometimes he chooses to bear bodily pain stoically, as an example to disciples. By putting on the ailments of others, a yogi can satisfy, for them, the karmic law of cause and effect. This law is mechanically or mathematically operative; its workings can be scientifically manipulated by men of divine wisdom.
The spiritual law does not require a master to become ill whenever he heals another person. Healings ordinarily take place through the saint’s knowledge of various methods of instantaneous cure in which no hurt to the spiritual healer is involved. On rare occasions, however, a master who wishes to greatly quicken his disciples’ evolution may then voluntarily work out on his own body a large measure of their undesirable karma.
Jesus signified himself as a ransom for the sins of many. With his divine powers, his body could never have been subjected to death by crucifixion if he had not willingly cooperated with the subtle cosmic law of cause and effect. He thus took on himself the consequences of others’ karma, especially that of his disciples. In this manner they were highly purified and made fit to receive the omnipresent consciousness which later descended on them.
Only a self-realized master can transfer his life force, or convey into his own body the diseases of others. An ordinary man cannot employ this yogic method of cure, nor is it desirable that he should do so; for an unsound physical instrument is a hindrance to God-meditation. The Hindu scriptures teach that the first duty of man is to keep his body in good condition; otherwise his mind is unable to remain fixed in devotional concentration.
A very strong mind, however, can transcend all physical difficulties and attain to God-realization. Many saints have ignored illness and succeeded in their divine quest. St. Francis of Assisi, severely afflicted with ailments, healed others and even raised the dead.
I knew an Indian saint, half of whose body was once festering with sores. His diabetic condition was so acute that under ordinary conditions he could not sit still at one time for more than fifteen minutes. But his spiritual aspiration was undeterrable. “Lord,” he prayed, “wilt Thou come into my broken temple?” With ceaseless command of will, the saint gradually became able to sit daily in the lotus posture for eighteen continuous hours, engrossed in the ecstatic trance.
“And,” he told me, “at the end of three years, I found the Infinite Light blazing within my shattered form. Rejoicing in the joyful splendour, I forgot the body. Later I saw that it had become whole through the Divine Mercy.”
A historical healing incident concerns King Baber (1483-1530), founder of the Mogul empire in India. His son, Prince Humayun, was mortally ill. The father prayed with anguished determination that he receive the sickness, and that his son be spared. After all physicians had given up hope, Humayun recovered. Baber immediately fell sick and died of the same disease which had stricken his son. Humayun succeeded Baber as Emperor of Hindustan.
Many people imagine that every spiritual master has, or should have, the health and strength of a Sandow. The assumption is unfounded. A sickly body does not indicate that a guru is not in touch with divine powers, any more than lifelong health necessarily indicates an inner illumination. The condition of the physical body, in other words, cannot rightfully be made a test of a master. His distinguishing qualifications must be sought in his own domain, the spiritual.
Numerous bewildered seekers in the West erroneously think that an eloquent speaker or writer on metaphysics must be a master. The rishis, however, have pointed out that the acid test of a master is a man’s ability to enter at will the breathless state, and to maintain the unbroken samadhi of nirbikalpa. Only by these achievements can a human being prove that he has “mastered” maya or the dualistic Cosmic Delusion. He alone can say from the depths of realization: “Ekam sat,”—“Only One exists.”