This may seem to be a strange question. No one really wants to be sick. Being healthy is very important in order to live a full life. When we become ill, it is natural that we want to just get over it and carry on our lives.

However, our relationship to the experience of illness is very important. The nature of this relationship is part of the larger discussion between different healing systems being practiced today. Modern scientific medicine works on the premise of looking only at the physiological functions of the body. It defines illness in that context only. Therefore it finds medicines that affect the specific areas that are affected. It uses language which reflects a combatative relationship to illness - "fighting", "a war on ....", "control". In a way it reflects the immediate desire we all have to "just get rid of it."

Other approaches reflect a different philosophical perspective. Proponents of a wholistic view to illness may describe symptoms as being a sign or indication of an imbalance in the whole person. Getting rid of the symptom can deny looking at more fundamental causes. They would say that only focusing on the most immediate symptoms is like disconnecting the bulb to the oil light in a car which has no oil.

Many people who are questioning the very mechanistic, materialistic view of illness would propose that the body is no more than the physical vehicle in which life is expressed, good and bad. The body of a living person has two more "immaterial" entities which infuse the body, which could be called consciousness (soul) and life (spirit). As yet these qualities cannot be measured, but it is these qualities which dictate the function and well -being of the body.

The point of this discussion is to state that disease is not something just to ignore or suppress, but which serves as a function or a sign which can be helpful to allow us make changes and bring us to a greater understanding of ourselves and our lives. Sometimes disease does need to be "fought", using the approach of modern scientific medicine. At other times it needs to be seen as a metaphor for a part of a person's life which is unfulfilled, or unrealized. Sometimes disease is an effective strategy in order to get something, perhaps attention, or to express something that cannot said or done in other ways. Disease can be very symbolic of a particular state of mind, or be a reflection of a cultural mindset. Disease can also be a mechanism of the body to protect itself from a more serious situation. The body is instinctively responding to protect itself from something more threatening.

The reasons for illness are often complex, but our relationship to being ill is very important. It challenges us to look at ourselves and to see how we can use the experience of illness to become healthier.