Skip to main content

Chapter 13 Correspondence of the Stomach and the Mind

Every part of the body has correspondence with the spiritual nature of man, and is the ultimate expression of some mental faculty, from which it exists and derives its stimulus, or the force that enables it to accomplish its appropriate use in the animal economy. The stomach performs an important function in the vital machinery, answering to certain mental powers and processes. In it, the food we eat undergoes a chemical change to fitt it to be appropriated by the various organs, and its nutritive elements to be assimilated into the several tissues. When it performs its functions faithfully, the body is kept in a healthful condition, and the proper balance is maintained. When in an abnormal state, it affects every other organ, and the body becomes unfitted for the uses of the mind.

The process of digestion, or the reduction of the food to a substance containing the elements of the blood, is a triple one. The aliment is first received by the mouth, where it is masticated and mixed with the secretion from the salivary glands, which seems to be a preparatory process without which digestion is imperfect. The saliva is slightly alkaline, and has the power of changing the amylaceous or starchy elements of the food into grape sugar, and sugar into lactic acid. This is the commencement of the digestive process.

By the act of deglutition or swallowing, it then passes into the first stomach, where it is agitated by a vermicular movement of the organ and is subjected to the action of a peculiar solvent called the gastric juice. Here it is reduced to a uniform pulpy mass denominated chyme. It then passes through the pyloric orifice on the right side into the duodenum or second stomach. Here the contents of the gall cist are emptied into it, and also the pancreatic juice which contains some important vital or nerve stimulus. It is now reduced to a milky substance called chyle, which only awaits the change effected in it by the lungs to transform it into arterial blood. After leaving the duodenum, it enters the intestinal canal, some twenty feet in length, which is lined by the mesenteric glands that drink it up, and it is conveyed into the subelavian vein, whence it passes to the heart and lungs.

It receives the influx of spiritual life by the action of the pulmonary organs. If these processes have been complete, it becomes healthful blood, from which every organ selects what it needs for its nutrition. Such is abrief account of the important process of digestion, so needful to the normal functional activity of the various members and organs of the body.
But we are to bear in mind that everything in the external organism has correspondence with and a vital relation to some part of the spiritual nature, on which its existence and power to act depends. “The body without the spirit is dead.” All its vital processes have a mental origin. The stomach and its use in the animal economy have a spiritual correspondence and significance. But what is there in the mental organism answering to it as cause to an effect?

The memory performs an office in the interior man analogous to that of the stomach in the outward bodily structure. It is the first receptacle of all knowledge — a word we use in the plural as well as singular form, after the cxnmple of Lord Bacon. It is the only entrance into the mind of truths from without, and is as the courtyard and portion of a house. Through it all those truths which we receive by instruction and reading, and which are our spiritual food and drink, enter into the interior man, where they are appropriated and serve to nourish the hidden life.

Thus in its spiritual use the memory answers to the stomach. The one acts on a spiritual, and the other on a material plane. Genuine truth is the proper nutriment of the mind. Sometimes the reception and appropriation of a new truth by a patient excites his whole being, mental and physical, to a higher and healthier activity. The addition of a few new ideas have a hygienic and therapeutic influence far beyond that of the most potent drug.

The gateway over the entrance to the famous Alexandrian library bore the expressive inscription, “Medicine for the Mind.’’ “And certainly many books,” remarks Mr. Alger, deserve to be so characterized. Many a mind has found books charged with sanative influences. Their contents have proved a spell to release the spirit from the brood and harassment of its cares, to allay its heat, lessen the throbbing speed of its emotions, cheer its depression, counteract its delusions, distil blessed anodynes into its hurts, and feed its exhausted energy with restoratives. But truths received by influx from the spiritual realm, and from angelic mind, need not, like those from books and tutors, pass through a process of mental digestion. They enter at once into our life, like the infusion of a healthy arterial blood from one person into another.

We have noticed a fact generally overlooked, that there are two stomachs. Answering to this, there are two memories, an external one that receives and retains simple facts or the record of things done, and an internal one which contains the registry of the ends, motives, or loves from which we act. The one is the recollection, or at least, the record, of truths received, the other of the loves from which all thought and external activity proceed. The latter or interior memory is the mysterious book of our life, for everything which a man ever did, thought, spoke, or felt, and all that he has heard and seen, is indelibly inscribed upon this imperishable tablet, and may become perceptible to angelic intuitions. For everything proceeding from the love is a manifestation of the life of men, and is inscribed upon his inmost being, and must be as lasting as the life itself. Thus our inward history is written in a book more durable than the Ararat or the Andes.

Before a truth can nourish our spiritual life, and minister to the growth of the mind, it must not only be intellectually received, but embraced by the affections. This is as necessary as that food should undergo the second part of the digestive process, before it is fitted to be appropriated into the organic strncture. The distinction of memory into external and internal, is not common in systems of mental science, where its dual functions are generally overlooked, but it is based upon the nature of the mind, and imaged and echoed in the bodily organism.

The correspondence of the stomach and the memory is recognized unconsciously by certain forms of speech in common use. There lies hidden in the words that men instinctively use much genuine philosophy. Many intuitive truths are seen here struggling for utterance and desiring recognition.

The word digestion comes from the Latin dis and gero, the supine of which is gestum, and signifies both to distribute, to reduce to order, as a digest of statute or common law, and also to dissolve. And we are urged sometimes to mark and inwardly digest certain truths, as a homily or discourse. Truths received into the external memory are digested when they are reduced to order, embraced by the love, and appropriated by the mind as principles of life. Then they contribute to the nourishment and real growth of the mind, just as healthful food, when dissolved in the stomach and fitted to be taken up by the lacteals, furnishes the elements necessary to repair the waste of the tissues and to supply the materials of growth.

And we firmly believe that a healthy mental nourishment and consequent progress, is essential to the vigorous functional activity of the digestive apparatus. But we are to avoid overeating and cramming, in the mind as well as the body. Intervals must be given between the introduction of great truths to afford time for rumination, which is a spiritual chewing the cud. One great and living verity will afford nutriment for a week or a month sometimes.

If there be a real connection between a healthy mental progress and a vigorous digestion, it may be asked, why it is that literary men have weak stomachs? The shortest way to explain this, would be to deny the fact. When it is demonstrated to be a truth, we will take the time to show the cause. We challenge the world to prove that there is any necessary connection between literary labor and dyspepsia. One thing we know, that the period of life when the memory is usually the most active and tenacious of truth is that of youth. Then also the digestive organs are the most vigorous. And we have had occasion to observe many times in our dyspeptic patients, that there was a loss of power in the memory. There was at the same time a mental and bodily indigestion, and there is here the relation of cause and effect, but which is antecedent and which posterior we leave everyone to decide for himself.

Youth is more a mental state than a condition of the body. Adolescence, a term used to denote this stage of human life, (from the Latin verb adolesco, to grow), may be predicated of the inner man as well as of the outward form. And youth is really a state of mental and spiritual growth, resulting from the desire of knowing and becoming wise, and lasts as long as that progression continues, and ever ultimates itself in the bodily organism. For a proper exercise and vigor of the mental powers is necessary to the most healthful state of the outward man. It is only when a state of spiritual adolescence ceases, that we begin to grow old. But the Creator manifestly designed that the youthful condition of the interior man should never end, in this world or the next.

It is well known that a tree never ceases to grow while its life continues. Every new leaf and twig it puts forth furnishes it with the means of future enlargement. Thus the Washingtonia Gigantea of California, though it has continued for more than twenty centuries, leaves the record of its yearly growth in a new layer of woody fiber added to its circumference. Thus man should grow spiritually by adding some new truth every day to the sum of his knowledge, and applying it to the practical uses and charities of life.

The first few years of our existence is not the only time to do this; but every age is the appropriate period for storing the mind with living verities. However old we are, however numerous are the days of the years of our earthly pilgrimage, we are only in the infancy and formative stage of our being. Our earth life in its whole duration is the seed-time. The future harvests the germs our hands have sown. Life is probationary, and always will be so, that is, our present state is the chrysalis to be unfolded into our future condition. Every subsequent state will be born from the present, and the morning of every new day will issue from the womb of the preceding evening. Thus through the endless cycles of the eternal future, life will be a succession of seed-time and harvest, sowing and reaping, evening and morning.

The coming age, however far off, has its roots deep-set in the present. Every passing moment contains in its bosom, if we but fully understood its influence and import, an unerring prophecy of what the next shall be. Perpetual progress is the law and normal condition of all created mind. Without this perpetual development of our mental powers, there can be no perfect health of spirit or body.

It is proper to remark that memory is a general property of the mind, and belongs to all the faculties, intellectual and affectional. Each cerebral organ or instrument retains, and, under certain conditions, re-produces the impressions made upon it. A loss of this property of our spiritual organism, indicates awant of tone and vigor in the mind. And this torpidity of the mind enfeebles the action of the organs concerned in the digestive process. And there can be no healthful vigor of the mental powers, without that intellectual progress which we have characterized as perpetual youth.

The confirmed dyspeptic is prematurely old, and exhibits all the signs of senility. There is no hope for him, until his affectional and intellectual nature is rejuvenated. If they can be restored to the normal youthful state of the inner men, and his “youth be renewed as the eagles,” and this not as a transient, momentary mood, but a confirmed spiritual condition, we will warrant it to cure the worst form of indigestion with all its horrors. And such a mental metamorphosis can be effected upon the patient in harmony with certain laws which we hope to be able to unfold. Persons can be made to feel young at the age of threescore years and ten. For youth is an affectional and intellectual state that ought to be perpetual. It is our normal condition in earth and heaven.

In the remarks made above, it has been stated that there is a correspondence between the stomach and the memory, or a sympathetic connection between the digestive organs and that intellectual faculty. They mutually act and react upon each other. But memory depends, to a great extent, upon the power of directing the mind to a fact or object, so as to gain a distinct and full perception of it. It has long ago been observed by physiologists, that those diseases which affect the digestive organs, are attended with a loss of the power of directing the mind steadily and for any length of time in a particular direction, and there is consequently a weakened state of the memory. This takes place in the earlier stages of all febrile diseases. It also occurs in persons broken down by intemperance, and in the first approaches of old age. It is observed in a remarkable degree in connection with all disordered states of the stomach.

This shows the vital relation between the faculty of memory and the stomach. The latter receives from the former the spiritual stimulus that is necessary to its vigorous and healthy action. And an intelligent application of the principles of Mental Hygiene will be found a far more efficient agency in the cure of all forms of dyspepsia, than the administration of drugs and medicines.


Syndicate content