Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
VACCINATION AND INOCULATION
THE THEORY behind vaccination and inoculation is the same as the one taught as Hatha Yoga by Shiva, or Mahadeva as he is often called. It is said of Mahadeva that he used to drink poison, and by doing so he got over its effect. Mahadeva was the most venturesome among the ascetics. He is pictured carrying a serpent round his neck. If one can be such friends with a serpent as to keep it round one's neck, one can no doubt sit comfortably in the presence of someone one does not like. The hatred and prejudice and nervousness which are felt in the presence of someone one does not like would then not arise. The soul which has forgotten its battle with everything that made it fear and tremble and run away, has conquered life and has become the master of life; it attains the kingdom of heaven. No doubt the methods which Mahadeva adopted were extreme measures; no one could recommend them to his pupils and be thought sane in this modern world!
It is the same with vaccination. When new, such methods have met with a great deal of prejudice and opposition, yet there is much to be said for the principle behind them. It brings us to a higher realization of life, and makes us understand that even that which is called death, if it were put in a cup and given us to drink, could bring us life. By absorbing the destructive element in one's body, the body becomes destruction-proof, so that that particular destruction is no longer a destruction but becomes part of one's nature. This is the method of destruction from the spiritual point of view.
Death is death as long as man is not acquainted with it. When man absorbs it then he is master of death. That was the message of Jesus Christ, who spoke of eternal life from beginning to end; and the mystery of that message is that when once a person has absorbed death he has obtained eternal life.
People say, 'I do not like to touch vinegar, it harms my health; I cannot bear to eat cream, I cannot digest it; I cannot stand sugar in my tea, I do not like it'. For them these things are poison. By saying such things a person makes certain substances foreign, exclusive, to his nature; and he thereby subjects himself to them. There comes a time when they rule him, when he is in their power. The way of Shiva was always to work against his own weaknesses. Though he counted them as weaknesses and not as belonging to his nature, he acted as if everything belonged to his nature and absorbed all that was foreign to it in order that no situation would arise where he would become subjected to it. Snake-charmers, by making snakes bite them a little at a time, become inured to the poison, and it was the same with Shiva: out of death he had made a necklace. One can go to extremes in this way, but it is a law which should be studied and which it is good to know. It teaches us all that is to be found in us, all the destruction which is the source of fear and pain and disappointment.