The new psychology and the science of mental and spiritual healing teach us that the lower principles in Man stand or should stand under the dominion of the higher. The physical body, with its material elements, is dominated and guided by the mind. The mind is inspired through the inner consciousness, which is an attribute of the soul. The soul of man is in communion with the Oversoul, which is the Source of all life and all intelligence animating the universe.
Wherever this natural order is reversed, there is discord or disease. Too many people think and act as though the physical body is all in all, as though it is the only thing worth caring for and thinking about. They exaggerate the importance of the physical and become its abject slaves.
The physical body is the lowest and least intelligent of the different principles making up the human entity. Yet people allow their minds and their souls to become dominated and terrified by the sensations of the physical body.
When the servants in the house control and terrify the master, when the master becomes their slave and they can do with him as they please, there cannot be order and harmony in that house.
We must expect the same results when the lower principles in Man lord it over the higher. When physical weakness, illness and pain fill the mind with fear and dismay, reason becomes clouded, the will atrophied and self-control is lost.
Every thought and every emotion has its direct effect upon the physical constituents of the body. The mental and emotional vibrations become physical vibrations and structures. Discord in the mind is translated into physical disease in the body, while the harmonies of hope, faith, cheerfulness, happiness, love and altruism create in the organism the corresponding health vibrations.
Have you ever noticed how the written or printed notes of a tone piece or the perforations on the paper music roll of an automatic player are arranged in symmetrical and geometrical figures and groups? Dry sand strewn on the top of a piano on which harmonious tone combinations are produced shows a tendency to arrange itself in symmetrical patterns.
In this you have a visual illustration of the translation of harmonious sound vibrations, which express the harmonics of the soul's emotions, into correspondingly harmonious arrangements and configurations in the physical material of the paper roll.
A jumble of discords of sound, if reproduced on a music roll, would present a chaotic jumble of perforations.
Thus the purely mental and emotional is translated into its corresponding discords or harmonies in the physical.
As the perforations on the paper music roll arrange themselves either symmetrically or without symmetry and order, in strict accordance with the harmonies or discords of the composition, so the atoms, molecules and cells in the physical body group themselves in normal or abnormal structures of health or of disease in exact correspondence with the harmonious or the discordant vibrations conveyed to them from the mental and emotional planes.
Another Illustration: Two violins, as they leave the shop of the maker, are exactly alike in material, structure and quality of tone. One of the two instruments is constantly used by beginners and persons incapable of producing pure notes. The other passes into the hands of an artist who understands how to use the instrument to the best advantage and who draws from it only musical tones that are true in pitch and quality.
After a few years, compare the two violins again. You will find that the one used by the tyros in music has deteriorated in its musical qualities, while the one in the hands of the artist has greatly improved in quality and purity of tone. What is the reason? The atoms and molecules in the wood of the two instruments have grouped themselves according to the discords or the harmonies that have been produced from them.
If this rearrangement of atoms is possible in dead wood, how much easier must be this adjustment of atoms, molecules and cells to discordant or harmonious vibratory influence in the living, plastic and fluidic human organism!
What harmony is to music, hope, faith, cheerfulness, happiness, sympathy, love and altruism are to the vibratory conditions of the human entity. These emotions are in alignment with the constructive principle in Nature. They harmonize the physical vibrations, relax the tissues and open them wide to the inflow of the life force.
Swedenborg truly says: "The warmth of life is the heat of the divine love permeating and animating the universe." The more we possess of hope, faith, love and their kindred emotions, the more we open ourselves to the inflow and action of the vital energies. The good-natured, cheerful, sympathetic person is more alive than the crabbed, morose or selfish individual.
It has been proved over and over again by everyday experience that mental and emotional conditions positively affect the chemical composition of the tissues and secretions of the body. The destructive emotions of fear, worry, anger, jealousy, revengefulness, envy, etc., actually poison the fluids and tissues of the body. The bite of an angry man may cause blood-poisoning and prove as fatal as the bite of a mad dog. Sudden fear, anger or any other destructive emotion in the nursing mother may cause illness or even death of the infant.
In psychological laboratories it has been found by scientifically conducted experiments that under the influence of destructive mental and emotional conditions, the secretions and excretions of the body show an increase of morbid and poisonous elements.
Selfishness, fear and worry contract and congeal the blood vessels, the nerve fibers, and the other channels through which the life forces are conveyed from the innermost source of life to different parts and organs of the physical body. The flow of the life currents is impeded and diminished. Such are the actual physiological effects of fear, anxiety and egotism on the physical organism.
A man under the influence of great fear and one exposed to freezing present the same outward appearance. In both cases death may result through the congealing of the tissues and the shutting out of the life currents. The person afflicted with the worry habit may not die suddenly like the one overcome by great and sudden fear. Nevertheless, the fear and worry vibrations maintained constantly will surely obstruct and diminish the inflow of the life force, lower the vitality and therewith the resistance to the encroachment of influences inimical to the health of the organism.
The cells in the body are negative, or, at least, they should be negative to the positive mind. The relationship of the mind to the cell should be like that of hypnotist to subject. If the mind could not exert such absolute control over the cells and cell groups, it would be impossible for us to walk, talk, write, dodge danger, etc., with almost automatic ease.
The cells are not able to reason upon the truth or untruth of the suggestions conveyed to them from the mind. They accept its promptings unqualifiedly and act accordingly.
Thus, if the mind constantly thinks of, say, the stomach as being in a badly diseased condition, unable to do its work properly, the mental images of weakness and disease with their accompanying fear vibrations are telegraphed over the efferent nerves to the cells of the stomach and these become more and more weakened and diseased through the destructive vibrations sent to them from the mind.
I often advise my patients to procure a book on anatomy and physiology and to study and keep constantly before their mind's eye the normal structure and functions of a healthy stomach or liver or whatever organ may be involved in any particular case.
This explains why affirmations of health are justified in the face of disease. The health conditions must be first established in the mind before they can be conveyed to and impressed upon the cells.
The well-being of the human body as a whole depends upon the health of the billions of minute cells which compose it. These cells are so small that they have to be magnified several hundred times under a powerful microscope before we can see them. Yet they are independent living beings which grow, assimilate food, multiply and die like the big cell, Man.
These little cells are congregated in communities which form the organs and tissues of the body and in these communities they carry on the complicated activities of citizens living in a large city. Some are carriers, bringing food materials to the tissues and organs or conveying waste and morbid matter to the excretory channels of the body. Other cells manufacture chemical substances, such as sugar, fats, ferments, hormones etc., for the production of which man requires complicated factories. Still others act as policemen and soldiers which protect the commonwealth against bacteria, parasites and other hostile invaders.
The marvelous work performed by these little organisms, as well as observations made in the dissecting room and under the microscope, strongly indicate that these cells are endowed with some sort of individual intelligence. They do their work without our aid or conscious volition. But, nevertheless, they are greatly influenced by the varying conditions of the mind. While their activities seem to be controlled through the sympathetic nervous system, they stand in direct telegraphic communication with headquarters in the brain and every impulse of the mind is conveyed to them.
If there be dismay and confusion in the mind, this condition is telegraphically conveyed over the nerve trunks and filaments to every cell in the body, and as a result these little workers and soldiers become panic-stricken and incapable of rightly performing their manifold duties.
The cell system of the body resembles a vast army. The mind is the general at the head of it. The cells are the soldiers, divided into groups for special work.
Much of the work of an army is carried on through different well-established departments, as the commissariat, the hospital service, the scouts and pickets, etc. Though the life and the activities of the army are so well regulated that they seem automatic, nevertheless much depends upon the commander.
The vital processes of the human organism, digestion, assimilation, elimination, respiration, the circulation of the blood, etc., are going on without our volition, whether we be awake or asleep. These involuntary activities are impelled by the sympathetic nervous system, while the voluntary functions of the body are controlled through the motor [voluntary] nervous system. This division, however, is not a sharp one, and the two departments frequently overlap one another.
The sympathetic nervous system resembles the commissarial department of the army, which attends to the material welfare of the soldiers, while the motor nervous system, with headquarters in the brain, corresponds to the commander with his executive staff, the nerve centers in the spinal cord and other parts of the body being the subordinate officers in the field.
While the physical well-being of the army depends upon the almost automatic work of its different departments, its mind and soul is the man commanding it. He determines the spirit, the energy and the efficiency of the vast organization.
If the commander-in-chief lacks insight, force and determination, the discipline of the army will be lax and its efficiency greatly impaired. If he is a craven, without faith in himself and in the cause he represents, his lack of courage, his doubt and indecision will communicate themselves to the whole army, resulting in discouragement and defeat.
The most successful commanders have been those who were possessed of absolute confidence in themselves and in the efficiency of their army, who in the face of gravest danger and discouraging situations pressed on to the predetermined goal with dogged courage and resolution. Determination and pertinacity of this kind create the magnetic power which imparts itself to every individual soldier in the army and makes him a willing subject, even unto death, to the will of his commander.
When the plague was invading Napoleon's army, that great general entered the hospitals where the victims of the plague were lying, took them by the hand and conversed with them. He did this to overcome the fear in the hearts of his soldiers, and thus to protect them against the dread disease. He said: "A man whose will can conquer the world, can conquer the plague."
To my mind, this was one of the greatest deeds of the Corsican. At a time when "New Thought" was practically unknown, the genius of this man had grasped its principles and was making them factors in his apparent success. "Apparent" because, while we admire his genius, we deplore the ends to which he applied his wonderful powers.
At times when the battle seemed lost, Napoleon would go to the front where the danger was greatest; and by the mere sight of him the hard-pressed soldiers under his command were inspired to super-human effort and final victory.
As long as the glamour of invincibility surrounded him, Napoleon was invincible, because he infused into his soldiers a faith and courage which nothing could withstand. But when the cunning of the Russian broke his power and decimated his ranks on the ice-bound steppes, the hypnotic spell was broken also. Friends and enemies alike recognized that, after all, he was but a man, subject to chance and circumstance; and from that time on he was vulnerable and suffered defeat after defeat.
The power of the mind over the physical body and its involuntary functions (the functions which are regulated and controlled through the sympathetic nervous system) may be illustrated by the demonstrated facts of hypnotism. Through the exertion of his own imagination and his will-power, the hypnotist can so dominate the brain and through the brain the physical body of his subject, as to influence not only the sensory functions, but also heart action and respiration. By the power of his will the hypnotist is able to retard or accelerate pulse and respiration, and even to subdue the heart beat so that it becomes hardly perceptible.
If it is possible thus to control by the power of will the vital functions in the body of another person, it must be possible also to control these functions in our own bodies. Many a Hindu fakir and yogi have developed this power of the mind over the physical body to a marvelous extent.
Here lies the true domain of mental therapeutics. We can learn to dominate and regulate the vital activities and the life currents in our bodies so that they will do their work intelligently and serenely even under the stress of illness or of danger. We can, by the power of will, direct the vital currents to those parts and organs which need them most and we can relieve congested areas by equalizing the circulation, by drawing from the surplus of blood and nerve currents and distributing the vital fluids over other parts of the body.
We must be careful, however, to use our higher powers in conformity with Nature's intent; that is, we must not endeavor to suppress Nature's cleansing and healing efforts. It is possible to do this by the power of will as well as with ice bags and drugs.
Mentally and emotionally, as well as physically, we must work with Nature, not against her. When we understand the fundamental laws of disease and cure, we cannot well do otherwise.