What Is Life?
In our study of the cause and character of disease we must endeavor to begin at the beginning, and that is with LIFE itself, for the processes of health, disease and cure are manifestations of that which we call life, vitality, life elements, etc.
While endeavoring to fathom the mystery of life we soon realize, however, that we are dealing with an ultimate which no human mind is capable of solving or explaining. We can study and understand life only in its manifestations, not in its origin and real essence.
There are two prevalent, but widely differing, conceptions of the nature of life or vital force: the material and the vital.
The former looks upon life or vital force with all its physical, mental and psychical phenomena as manifestations of the electric, magnetic and chemical activities of the physical-material elements composing the human organism. From this viewpoint, life is a sort of spontaneous combustion, or, as one scientist expressed it, a succession of fermentations.
This materialistic conception of life, however, has already become obsolete among the more advanced biologists as a result of the wonderful discoveries of modern science, which are fast bridging the chasm between the material and the spiritual realms of being.
But medical science, as taught in the regular schools, is still dominated by the old, crude, mechanical conception of vital force and this, as we shall see, accounts for some of its gravest errors of theory and of practice.
The vital conception of life, on the other hand, regards it as the primary force of all forces, coming from the great central source of all power.
This force, which permeates, heats and animates the entire created universe, is the expression of the divine will, the "logos," the "word" of the great creative intelligence. It is this divine energy which sets in motion the whirls in the ether, the electric corpuscles and ions that make up the different atoms and elements of matter.
These corpuscles and ions are positive and negative forms of electricity. Electricity is a form of energy. It is intelligent energy; otherwise it could not move with that same wonderful precision in the electrons of the atoms as in the suns and planets of the sidereal universe.
This intelligent energy can have but one source: the will and the intelligence of the Creator; as Swedenborg expresses it, "the great central sun of the universe."
If this supreme intelligence should withdraw its energy, the electrical charges (forms of energy) and with it the atoms, elements, and the entire material universe would disappear in the flash of a moment.
From this it appears that crude matter, instead of being the source of life and of all its complicated mental and spiritual phenomena (which assumption, on the face of it, is absurd), is only an expression of the Life Force, itself a manifestation of the great creative intelligence which some call God, others Nature, the Oversoul, Brahma, Prana, etc., each one according to his best understanding.
It is this supreme power and intelligence, acting in and through every atom, molecule and cell in the human body, which is the true healer, the vis medicatrix naturæ, which always endeavors to repair, to heal and to restore the perfect type. All that the physician can do is to remove obstructions and to establish normal conditions within and around the patient, so that the healer within can do his work to the best advantage.
Here the Christian Scientist will say: "That is exactly what we claim. All is God, all is mind! There is no matter! Our attitude toward disease is based on these facts."
Well, what of it, Brother Scientist? Suppose, in the final analysis, matter is nothing but vibration, an expression of Divine Mind and Will. That, for all practical purposes, does not justify me to deny and to ignore its reality. Because I have an "all-mind" body, is it advisable for me to place myself in the way of an "all-mind" locomotive moving at the rate of sixty miles an hour?
The question is not what matter is in the final analysis, but how matter affects us. We have to take it and treat it as we find it. We must be as obedient to the laws of matter as to those of the higher planes of being.
Life Is Vibratory
In the final analysis, all things in Nature, from a fleeti g thought or emotion to the hardest piece of diamond or platinum, are modes of motion or vibration. A few years ago physical science assumed that an atom was the smallest imaginable part of a given element of matter; that although infinitesimally small, it still represented solid matter. Now, in the light of better evidence, we have good reason to believe that there is no such thing as solid matter: that every atom is made up of charges of negative and positive electricity acting in and upon an omnipresent ether; that the difference between an atom of iron and of hydrogen or any other element consists solely in the number of electrical charges or corpuscles it contains, and on the velocity with which these vibrate around one another.
Thus the atom, which was thought to be the ultimate particle of solid matter, is found to be a little universe in itself in which corpuscles of electricity rotate or vibrate around one another like the suns and planets in the sidereal universe. This explains what we mean when we say life and matter are vibratory.
As early as 1863 John Newlands discovered that when he arranged the elements of matter in the order of their atomic weight, they displayed the same relationship to one another as do the tones in the musical scale. Thus modern chemistry demonstrates the verity of the music of the spheres--another visionary concept of ancient mysticism. The individual atoms in themselves, as well as all the atoms of matter in their relationship to one another, are constructed and arranged in exact correspondence with the laws of harmony. Therefore the entire sidereal universe is built on the laws of music.
That which is orderly, lawful, good, beautiful, natural, healthy, vibrates in unison with the harmonics of this great "Diapason of Nature"; in other words, it is in alignment with the constructive principle in Nature.
That which is disorderly, abnormal, ugly, unnatural, unhealthy, vibrates in discord with Nature's harmonics. It is in alignment with the destructive principle in Nature.
What we call "Inanimate Nature" is beautiful and orderly because it plays in tune with the score of the Symphony of Life. Man alone can play out of tune. This is his privilege, if he so chooses, by virtue of his freedom of choice and action.
We can now better understand the definitions of health and of disease, given in Chapter Two, "Catechism of Nature Cure" as follows:
"Health is normal and harmonious vibration of the elements and forces composing the human entity on the physical, mental, moral and spiritual planes of being, in conformity with the constructive principle of Nature applied to individual life."
"Disease is abnormal or inharmonious vibration of the elements and forces composing the human entity on one or more planes of being, in conformity with the destructive principle of Nature applied to individual life."
The question naturally arising here is, "Normal or abnormal vibration with what?" The answer is that the vibratory conditions of the organism must be in harmony with Nature's established harmonic relations in the physical, mental, moral, spiritual and psychical realms of human life and action.
What Is an Established Harmonic Relation?
Let us see whether we cannot make this clear by a simile. If a watch is in good condition, in harmonious vibration, its movement is so adjusted that it coincides exactly, in point of time, with the rotations of our earth around its axis. The established, regular movement of the earth forms the basis of the established harmonic relationship between the vibrations of a normal, healthy timepiece and the revolutions of our planet. The watch has to vibrate in unison with the harmonics of the planetary universe in order to be normal, or in harmony.
In like manner, everything that is normal, natural, healthy, good, beautiful must vibrate in unison with its correlated harmonics in Nature.
Obedience the Only Salvation
Orthodox medical science attributes disease largely to accidental causes: to chance infection by disease taints, germs or parasites; to drafts, chills, wet feet, etc.
The religiously inclined frequently attribute disease and other tribulations to the arbitrary rulings of an inscrutable Providence.
Christian Scientists tell us that sin, suffering, disease and all other kinds of evil are only errors of mortal mind, or the products of diseased imagination (though this in itself admits the existence of something abnormal or diseased).
Nature Cure philosophy presents a rational concept of evil, its cause and purpose, namely: that it is brought on by violation of Nature's Laws; that it is corrective in its purpose; that it can be overcome only by compliance with the law. There is no suffering, disease or evil of any kind anywhere unless the law has been transgressed somewhere by someone.
These transgressions of the law may be due to ignorance, to indifference or to wilfulness and viciousness. The effects will always be commensurate with the causes.
The science of natural living and healing shows clearly that what we call disease is primarily Nature's effort to eliminate morbid matter and to restore the normal functions of the body; that the processes of disease are just as orderly in their way as everything else in Nature; that we must not check or suppress them, but cooperate with them. Thus we learn, slowly and laboriously, the all-important lesson that "obedience to the law" is the only means of prevention of disease, and the only cure.
The Fundamental Law of Cure, the Law of Action and Reaction, and the Law of Crises, as revealed by the Nature Cure philosophy, impress upon us the truth that there is nothing accidental or arbitrary in the processes of health, disease and cure; that every changing condition is either in harmony or in discord with the laws of our being; that only by complete surrender and obedience to the law can we attain and maintain perfect physical health.
Self-Control, the Master's Key
Thus Nature Cure brings home to us constantly and forcibly the inexorable facts of natural law and the necessity of compliance with the law. Herein lies its great educational value to the individual and to the race. The man who has learned to master his habits and his appetites so as to conform to Nature's Laws on the physical plane, and who has thereby regained his bodily health, realizes that personal effort and self-control are the Master's Key to all further development on the mental and spiritual planes of being as well; that self-mastery and unremitting and unselfish personal effort are the only means of self-completion, of individual and social salvation.
The naturist who has regained health and strength through obedience to the laws of his being, enjoys a measure of self-content, gladness of soul and enthusiasm which cannot be explained by the mere possession of physical health. These highest and purest attainments of the human soul are not the results of mere physical well-being, but of the peace and harmony which come only from obedience to the law. Such is the peace which passeth understanding.