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Chapter 10 The Relation of Soul and Body, and of the Material to the Spiritual Realm

There have been three theories respecting the relation of our outward organism to the interior spiritual principle. Two of these recognize in their connection the relation of cause and effect, but differ as to which is the one or the other, which is prior and which is posterior. The first theory is that of physical influx, or that matter influences mind. This was taught by Aristotle, and the sensualistic schools of philosophy in all subsequent ages. By some, mind has been viewed as the result of a sublimation of matter. This first theory has appearance in its favor — an evidence always unreliable and often deceptive.

The second is, that matter is influenced and governed by spirit, and derives all its life from it. All its changes, forms, and phenomena, are effects of which something spiritual is the cause. This idea pervades the Cartesian philosophy, and was adopted by Swedenborg.

The third is that of pre-established harmony, or that neither acts upon the other, but both were made to act in concert. This theory was advocated by the celebrated Leibnitz. We are not aware that it is seriously adocated by anyone at present, and may be left without further notice. It only belongs to the history of human opinions. In the other two doctrines, we choose between theism and atheism. If there be a God, creation has gone forth from Him. But God is a Spirit. Consequently the material universe owes its origin and its continued existence and control, to an all-pervading divine force, distinct from matter, as a cause from an effect.

But man is a microcosm, a world in himself, and his body sustains the same relation to the soul that the outward universe does to God. The body without the spirit is dead. Consequently it has no life of its own and in itself. Its vital force is derived from the all-pervading spirit. It is an effect of which the soul is the cause. As someone has said, “The active plastic principle is the soul — the true man, of which the body is but the external expression and instrument.”

It is not merely the outward envelope of the interior man, but is pervaded by it, as light is diffused through a crystal vase of water. Hence it becomes transparent to all the states of the soul. Every emotion expresses itself in the face. In a countenance that has not been taught to dissemble, all the varying affections and
emotions of the mind are there visibly displayed.. Every change in our feelings, produces a correspondent arrangement of the moving fibres of the face. Here is a visible effect resulting from a spirituaal cause. But every part of the body corresponds to something in the mind — the hands, the feet, the hair, the brain, the stomach, the lungs, the heart, and all the internal organs. These have no vital action except as they receive it by influx from the indwelling soul.

And every organ in our bodily structure, is only the outward manifestation of a correspondent part and function of our spiritual nature. Consequently our mental states affect the condition and action of the various organs — in fact, are the body’s health or malady. They first influence the intermediate principle, denominated the spiritual body, then the brain and nerves, and then the serious organs. Every abnormal mental state ultimates itself in a correspondent bodily condition.

Let us illustrate this by the effect of fear or a sudden fright. It immediately quickens, and at the salne time weakens, the action of the heart: Its regular contraction and dilatation are changed to a spasmodic flutter. A nervous thrill is felt in the epigastric region or pit of the stomach. This is in the diaphragm, which loses its contractility, and becomes relaxed, so that the respiration is impeded and oppressed. The blood retreats from the surface inward, and from the extremities upward. Such are its immediate effects. If the mental state producing this order of things should become permanent, in the form of anxiety, the corresponding bodily condition will be chronic. And a common disease, called asthma, is the result. But fear will no more really affect the body than any other disorderly mental state.

Melancholy, envy, jealousy, anger, disappointed affection, produce each its specific effect. All disease originate in some abnormal states of the mind, some disturbance or loss of harmony in the inner man, and are but the ultimation, or passing outward to the region of visible effects in the material organism, of those disordered mental conditions. To ascertain the nature and cause of the disturbed state of mind underlying the physical troubles of a patient, is of greater importance than an examination of the pulse or the tounge. If the action of the heart, the diaphragm, the lungs, or the liver, is not healthy, we desire to know what is the cause of their disordered physiological manifestations.

It is of no avail to apply chemical preparations to a cause that chemistry cannot reach. It is of no use to administer stimulants and tonics, when the patient needs only encouragement and sympathy. Why give opium and narcotic drugs, when it is only the excited mind that needs to be quieted, and there needs to be “plucked from the heart a rooted sorrow?” Why give physic to a man who only needs in-
struction and ideas? Says Dr. Taylor, “Diseases are perpetuated, if not produced, by causes over which mere chemical influences cannot be presumed to exercise any positive control. This fact may be, often is, tacitly acknowledged by the physician, but he declines to investigate its relations, so as to be able to turn them to useful account. He is unwilling to acknowledge in practice, although he may admit confidentially, that the headache, the nervousness, the heart disease, the dyspeptic qualms which he is called upon to remedy, are only indications of a peculiar morbid state of the mind or of the emotional nature of the sufferer, which it becomes him to meet directly, rather than to torment his patient with an eternal round of palliatives. In these cases, every medical prescription must be totally irrelevant (though written in the best Latin), unless it recognizes the operation of causes existing in a sphere quite beyond the reach of the most potent drug”

He further observes, “The jests that used to be hurled at the defenceless head of the practitioner who dared to suggest that the thoughts, and feelings, and mental habits of the invalid might need rectifying as well as his bile and blood, are fast losing their point. We are all beginning to suspect that perhaps, after all, a disease may not be the less a disease because its source happens to lie in an unruly imagination, or in excessive activity, or wrong modes of thought. And gradually — very slowly to be sure — yet really, we think people are waking up to the conviction that these intangible causes are not irremediable. They are beginning to see and understand that by this close union and cooperation of the material and immaterial natures, remedial agents may possibly find access to either or both these avenues that otherwise could have no existence. We have faith to believe that the time is near at hand when the mental aspects and relations of disease will receive an amount of attention equal to that which has always been given to the pulse and the tongue, the temperature of the skin, and color and consistence of the excretions.” (Movement Cure, p. 388, 389.)

The body is an organization of material substances, by which we mean the arrangement of its particles so as to form organs or instruments adapted to use. But unless the particles are self-moved, which no one but a disciple of Epicurus would argue, the mind must be the organizing force. The body is only the evolution of the mind, and the means of its external manifestation. The whole material universe is tile ultimation of the spiritual world. The spiritual realm is the animus mundi, the soul of the outward visible creation, and the latter exists from the former.

If you ask where we locate the spirit-world? we answer, it is where our spirits are, for our inner nature belongs to it and is a part of it. The spirituaal world is the interior realm, and it is not seperated from this by spatial distance, but it is as near to this as our souls are to our bodies. It is in the center of the universe and in its circumference; it is in the Milky Way, and the fixed stars, and it is here now. The kingdom of heaven is within.

Jesus proclaimed the great truth that it was at hand, so near as to be witin our grasp. Spiritual substance is the soul of things, and the angel-world is interfused within this. But things become real, substantial, and living in proportion as they are interior. We may gain some idea of this by observing that all substances that can be perceived by the senses, have other substances more subtle within them. Thus all solids contain water in their interstices or pores, even those that seem the dryest.

Suppose the globe we inhabit to be a solid sphere. It contains within and around it water. It is enveloped with aqueous vapor, that surrounds and penetrates it. This is distinct from the solid contents, but is contained within them and around them, and we may conoeive it to be a world by itself abstracted from the solid earth. In fact, nearly three-fourths of this earthy system is water. And it was taught by Thales more than two thousand years ago, that the earth was formed from the water. There may be truth in this. But water contains within it and around it, air enough to support the life of fishes, whose gills serve them for lungs where their blood is oxygenated. The atmosphere extends upward to the distance of forty-five miles and more. It penetrates the ocean, and may be viewed as a world or sphere, interior to the earthy solids and the aqueous element.

But the atmosphere has three degrees. Within and around the air is the ether, whose vibrations, according to Euler, produce light, and the various phenomena of electricity. The ether contains within it the aura, which is not cognizable by the senses. This may be identical with or analogous to the odylic force discovered by the Baron Reichenbach. It may be the same as the animal spirits of the older physiologists, the nervous fluid, the medium through which mind acts upon matter, as the will upon muscular fibre. It constitutes the boundary line between the natural and the spiritual world.

Next to this, but discrete or distinct from it, is the spiritual world in its lowest or outermost degree. Thus in thought we may proceed through the three heavens, each within the other, until we come to the sun of the spiritual world, which is the first substance, and the sphere immediately or proximately surrounding the Lord, the central life.

We may conceive of creation as going forth from Him in successive waves, and the various degrees may be represented to the eye by so many concentric circles. He is the living centre. Around this is what is called the sun of heaven. Further outward is the celestial heaven, then the spiritual heaven, then the ultimate or lowest heaven, then the world of spirits or the intermediate realm, and then the natural world in its various degrees. This is the outside circumference of being, where the creative wave terminates. It is the furthest removed from the vital center; not by distance of space, but in the degrees of life. It being the furthest from the central life, is what we mean by the term ultimate. The word means the furthest and sometimes the last.

Creation in its successive degrees has rolled off in distinct waves of being, like concentric circles, or rather spheres within spheres, and here it terminates. This world is the furthest and last, and is the basis, the continent, and the firmament, of the other degrees.

But is it possible for us to comprehend how natural substance is the ultimation of spiritual substance? There are things analogous to it, which may throw some light upon it, yet they are only remote analogies. Every visible object, or everything cognizable to the senses, is composed of invisible particles or atoms. These by themselves are so minute that none of our senses are affected by them. It is by their combination that they become visible and tangible. Thus what we call a material object, that is, one that is cognizable to the sight or touch, is composed of a substance that cannot be detected by the senses. A muscular fibre is composed of thousands of fibrils bound together, and each fibril of others still more minute, and these of primary atoms. Water is composed of two gases, hydrogen and oxygen. The aiamond is solidified or crystalized carbonic acid gas. Thus the diamond maybe called the ultimation of that gas. All vegetable structures and tissues are combinations of various gases, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, with a small amount of earthy salts. These gases may, and probably do, owe their origin to more subtle substances, and these to others, and they to spiritual substance, which is discrete from them, but may be ultimated in the form we call matter.

There is in every material object a spiritual essence, which is as a soul in its body. The external form which is manifest to our senses, is the correspondent, and representation of that invisible and pneumatical substance.

To the everywhere-present spiritual world we sustain a vital relation. All the involuntary functions of the body, as the action of the heart and the lungs, are carried on by a force received thence by influx, though the action of all the organs may be affected by the influence of our own minds and wills.

If the ideas we have unfolded in this chapter are sound, and we think they cannot be succesfully controverted, they constitute a new mode of medical treatment, and may form the basis of the successful practice of the healing art. It is a law, on the operation of which we may rely, that where a diseased condition of the body is caused by a morbid state of the spiritual life, if we can induce upon ourselves, either directly or through the medium of others, the opposite modes of thought and feeling as a permanent mental state, it will cure the disease. Hundreds of facts could be given to prove the uniformity of the action of this law. All that is necessary is the power intuitively to detect the morbid state of the mind underlying the disease, and how to convert the patient to a more healthful inner life.

All disease is, in its cause, an insanity, using the term in its radical or etymological sense, rather than in its common acceptation. Its secret spring is some abnormality, soundness of the mind, some departure from that most happy of all earthly conditions, expressed in the terse line of Juvenal, sana mens in sano corpore, a sound mind in a sound body. And we think the time is not far distant, when this fundamental truth will be more fully recognized and conformed to by all medical practitioners. The therapeutic systems that acknowledge the influence of the mind upon the body, are the most succesful in the cure of disease, as those of Hahnemann, Ling, and the practitioners of what is called magnetism.


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