Life today is full of contrasts, especially in the widely differing views as to the value of life itself.
In some parts of the world everything is done to preserve the lives of weak children, and the State spares no expense to save quadruplets. Institutions are built for old people and those suffering from chronic diseases. A criminal under sentence of death is carefully watched when he is ill and everything is done to prevent him from committing suicide.
At the same time the medical profession, politicians and even authorities of the church find it necessary to recommend artificial prevention of birth. [see note 1] When the question of capital punishment is brought up there are sharplycontrasting opinions in parliament. A prominent bishop among others declares that the best way to deal with people who are incurable is to do away with them by "mercy killing".
In times when such stronglycontrasting thoughts are conceived by people, many of whom have the best intentions for the benefit of mankind, it seems necessary to reconsider our philosophy in regard to birth, life, illness and death. In illness, as in all other things in life, everything which has a material expression has its spiritual background, and for the welfare of humanity this spiritual background has to be sought. To understand illness we need a new approach, and we have to look more deeply into many problems of life and illness.
As Dr. Rudolf Steiner points out: “The man of the present day would far rather believe that disease is connected only with immediate causes. For the fundamental tendency in the modern view of life is always to seek what is most convenient and it is certainly convenient to go no further than the immediate cause.”
In this book we shall try to observe the life of man as a great unity from birth to death and even beyond death in order to learn how illness occurs. In doing so we shall see that illness often brings to the surface important things which otherwise remain hidden, and we shall learn how to deal with illness in ourselves and how best we may understand it in others...