and swells. If it is disregarded, it lessens and disperses. The more bees are upset the more they swarm around a person’s head, but they disperse if no attention is paid to them. Similarly, the more importance one pays to a piece of string waving in front of one’s eyes in the darkness and to the apprehension it causes one, the more it grows and makes one flee like a madman. While if one pays it no importance, one sees that it is an ordinary bit of string and not a snake, and laughs at one’s fright and anxiety.
If hypochondria is chronic, it is transformed into reality. It is a serious illness afflicting the nervous and those given to imaginings; such people make mountains out of molehills and their morale is destroyed. Then if they encounter unkind ‘half’ doctors or unfair doctors, it further provokes their hypochondria. If they are rich, they lose their wealth, or they lose their wits, or their health.
My sick brother! Your illness is accompanied by physical pain. However, you are surrounded by a significant spiritual pleasure that will remove its effect. For if your father, mother, and relations are with you, their most pleasurable compassion which you have forgotten since childhood will be reawakened and you will see again the kind looks you received in childhood. In addition, friendships envelop you that had remained secret and hidden; these too look towards you with love through the attraction of illness. In the face of these, your physical pain is reduced to insignificance. Also, you have become a master of the masters since those whom you used to serve proudly now serve you kindly at the decree of illness. Moreover, you have attracted towards yourself the fellow-feeling and human kindness in people, and so have found numerous helpful friends and kind companions. And again, you have received the order from your illness to rest from many taxing duties and are taking a rest. For sure, in the face of these immaterial pleasures, your minor pain should drive you to thanks, not complaint.
My brother who suffers from a severe illness like apoplexy! Firstly I give you the good news that for believers apoplexy is considered blessed. A long time ago I used to hear this from holy men and I did not know the reason. Now, one reason for it occurs to me, as follows:
In order to attain union with Almighty God, be saved from the spiritual perils of this world, and to win eternal happiness, the people of God have chosen to follow two principles: