( Originally Published Early 1900's )
It would seem almost unnecessary to suggest the ordinary regimes for health of body. Nevertheless, I shall refer to these regimes because, first, their importance cannot be overestimated, and secondly because they involve certain laws of laws in relation to health which are seldom worked out in hygienic instruction.
What may be called the laws of laws of health would seem to be as follows:
1. Scrupulous Cleanliness of the Body, Without and Within, Makes for Royal Health-Tone. The law should be given rational, not slavish, obedience. Your body and your de per self are in a constant state of interaction. Material uncleanness consented to contaminates that self. Uncleanness of the self also contaminates the body. The white life requires the clean dress of honored flesh. You are invited, therefore, to affirm always and practically,
This robe I wear of unsoiled flesh
2. Sweet, Sound and Early Sleep Gives the Universal Forces their Perfect Opportunity for Good. During sleep the Universal Thought strives to restore, as our conditions permit, harmony of vibrations between its manifests in matter within the body and its manifests in the non-material self. The degree of harmony is made less in all cases by centuries of wrong living, the effects of which are more or less accumulated by inheritance in every man and woman (right living, however, promising in the future perfect freedom there-from on earth), and by the disturbing power of individual wrong living. In order, then, to secure the best results of sleep, our waking thought should be kept in attune, by all practical as well as by all idealizing methods, with reality, truth, beauty and goodness. You are invited, for the reason suggested, to live during the day in such a manner that your last fearless thought at night may be,
"Let my soul walk softly in me,
3. The Utility of Nourishment Issues From Conformity to the Plan of the Universal Forces for Each Individual. For every human body there is a plan on which it is intended to be evolved and maintained. The individual plan is merely a variation of the general plan of our common human nature. That general plan provides for certain foods and kinds of drink, for the manner in which they are to be taken and digested, and for their utilization in building and sustaining the body. This general plan is varied for different persons in the primary intention of the nature of things. Your food and drink, therefore, should depend upon your own peculiar needs. The science of the matter investigates the kinds of nourishment which you in particular re-quire and advises all items furnishing the material elements you demand. But some individual variations, in respect to questions of taste, usefulness and harmfulness, digestibility and adaptation, are undoubtedly results of restrained liberty and wrong thought-life in the past, either of your ancestors or of yourself. That degree of liberty, therefore, which ought to be yours, has perhaps, come to be more or less limited. It is possible for you to secure a desirable enlargement of freedom with regard to food and drink. Of course you have no liberty in the way of natural poisons and beverages which dethrone common sense. Aside from the limits set by Nature, you may acquire the largest measure of personal freedom in the matter if you will determine therefor in the exercise of sound reason. I have had my experience with things not liked and things harmful—apricots, chickens, salmon — and to-day I eat all that's eatable by civilized man, and I drink whatever I choose to drink — alcohol tabooed be-cause I want and need all the brains I possess. It is for you to bring yourself more nearly to the original plan for human bodies in this respect, if you will begin with your inner thought-life and proceed more or less in the following manner:
(a). By insisting upon a larger freedom, not in the way of demanding one thing or another, but in the way of realizing in your deeper self the idea of power therefor;
(b). By endeavoring constantly to bring your thought-life more and more into harmony with the White Life in Nature;
(c). By affirming that the food and drink of which you partake will surely make for health and buoyancy of the body; not merely stating the proposition, but, while so partaking, believing the truth and assuming it to be true — actual for you;
(d). By manifesting at all times the mood of blended courage, hope, confidence, happiness;
4. The Value of Work and Play is the Outcome of Balancing Reactions or Restorations Among Our Personal Activities. If we conceive of any individual as a "field" of vibrations in matter and the ether, induced by muscular and nervous action and by feeling and thought, we see at once that there ought to be an ideal "field" in. which all such vibrations are in a state of harmony. The state indicated would be a condition of balance. When activities in one direction are over intense and unduly prolonged, all vibrations tend to a strain in that direction. Such strain — all in one direction — is not normal, because it signifies disturbance of balance. If harmony in the "field" is to be restored, the one direction-strain must be released so that all right activities may recur and all vibrations proper to the "field" may again take place. Always the ideal is general harmony throughout the personal field. Now, some of the activities of our life are normally those of work, inducing corresponding vibrations in the individual "field," and some of them are normally those of recreation, which is a true word because it means recreation, that is, action or rest inducing corresponding vibration differing from those of work, running, so to speak, in different directions, and so restoring harmony. Work and recreation are, therefore, equally essential to the normal life. We have, however, built up wrong ideas of each of these important functions, so that most of us distinguish work as essentially different in its basic nature from recreation, and more or less an evil, and distinguish recreation as altogether and in itself a good. Both ideas are surely erroneous. I know that too much work, and work under certain conditions, cannot be regarded as a good in itself. Precisely the same is true of recreation. Neither, then, is to be valued or condemned because of the kind of activities involved or vibrations induced, but always and solely with reference to the state of balance or harmony represented in the field of the personal self. The limit of permitted work should be determined by that question alone; work should always be offset, so to speak, by recreation. The limit of recreation permitted should be determined by the same question. It should always be offset by work. In other words, the value of either work or play consists in change of activities restoring balance in the personal field.
But work and recreation are not essentially different in their true nature. In both cases we have activities and vibrations. In all cases some portion of the body is involved. In all eases some features of the mind are active. Action in either case is called work or recreation according to the idea entertained regarding it. If the idea is that of task, the thing is work. If the idea is relaxation, the thing is recreation. I have taken the task-idea into recreation, and soon wearied. I have taken the recreation-idea into work, and have been obliged to call self to account under that law of balance or harmony. A boy, for example, is sawing wood alone: this is work. Neighboring boys join him, and soon invest the whole place with imagination, all busy sawing, splitting,- playing. It is the idea — that is, the real thought, which determines the names we give the two general sets of activities. Nature will check work-vibrations and restore recreation-vibrations, for a time, until harmony of the field is comparatively restored, if only suggestion use the magic word.
You are now invited to maintain, in all your work, the idea of harmony with the Universal Forces of Nature, and the inspiration of the idea that your work is good and is building your self to better.
You are invited also to maintain, in all your recreation, the idea of harmony with the Universal Forces and the inspiration of the thought that your recreation is good and is building your self to better.
5. Purity in the Sex-Life Charges the Personal Field with the Magnetic Power of the Universal Forces. In this respect the individual should be as a god. The human body is designed for Temple-Presence of the Infinite White Life. Epicurus regarded it as a husk, but Aristotle defined the soul as the "perfect expression of the body," meaning, not that the soul is a product of physiological conditions, but that it is the truth of body, the idea, purpose, in which only do the bodily conditions gain their real meaning. To this great Greek the chief of human virtues was High-Mindedness, a crowning Self-Respect. This attitude of the self toward the house in which it lives recognizes the perfect inter-action of self and body, the one being influenced by the other, and so it insists that no injury shall come to the body from the inner sex-life, or from the sex-life to the inner self, but that both shall be maintained in harmony with the absolute whiteness of Eternal Being.
You are invited, then, to maintain purity under the law of liberty, and to adopt this thought as a permanent law: My Personal Dignity Stoops not to Physical Degradation.
6. The Liberty of Conscious Harmony with the Universal Forces Embraces the Intelligent Use of the Science of Medicine. The science of medicine is fairly indicated for our present purpose in the following quotation — from Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes:
"What is the honest truth about the medical art? That by far the largest number of diseases which physicians are called upon to treat will get well at any rate, even in spite of reasonably bad treatment. That of the other fraction, a certain number will certainly die, whatever is done. That there remains a small number of cases where the life of the patient depends on the skill of the physician. That drugs now and then save life; that they often shorten disease and remove symptoms; but that they are second in importance to food, air, temperature, and the other hygienic influences. Throw out opium; throw out wine, and the vapors which produce the miracle of anæsthesis, and I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind."
"It is a mistake to suppose that the normal state of health is represented by a straight horizontal line. Independently of the well-known causes which raise or depress the standard of vitality, there seems to be—I think I may venture to say there is — a rhythmic undulation in the flow of the vital force. The `dynamo' which furnishes the working powers of consciousness and action has its annual, its monthly, its diurnal waves, even its temporary ripples, in the current it furnishes. There are greater and lesser curves in the movement of every day's life,— a series of ascending and descending movements, a periodicity depending on the very nature of the force at work in the living organism."
There is also in our life a periodicity, of the deeper self — a curve of the soul's condition, which varies from time to time. When the curve is downward in both the physical and the spiritual case, drugs are of no more value than stones. When the curve is upward in both cases, drugs may be totally gratuitous, and they may actually retard the combined movements. When the health-curve is downward, the psychic curve may follow suit, but it need not necessarily do so. When the psychic curve is downward, the health-curve tends in the same direction. When the health-curve is upward, the psychic curve usually follows. When the psychic curve is upward, we have the best condition for the cure of disease. But Nature always does the curing. The physician never cures any disease; he merely assists Nature.
It is the function of medical science to arrest downward curves by any tried methods, to take advantage of upward curves, and to know what the curves are in any given casa. I call my physician because I may want him when I cannot help myself in these important respects. I will have in my hands the greatest number of the best forces when I am subject to abnormal conditions. I believe that is common sense, and I know it is perfectly permissible to the most exalted faith in the Soul of our Universe.
I am ready to concede that in a sublime state of ultimate evolution there is nothing which a drug or a doctor can do except surgery that may not better be accomplished by the power of harmonic white-life thought claiming health. But in such a future state disease will long since have vanished. Nevertheless, we do now certainly know a great law of mental power over the body. I do not concede any limits, except as above indicated, to the operation of that law if we could get it fully under control. Its scope, even as matters are, is immense. The law is real, and it belongs to no particular age or body of people. It is as long as time and as wide as earth. Any human being may claim the benefit in total disregard of any philosophy or form of religious belief, provided the white life and the health-claim are with him, under the sole limitations imposed by thousands of years of wrong thought-life in ancestry and similar error in personal past decreasing ability to affirm and realize in a way to secure the full benefits of the law. It is for every human being, nevertheless, to strive for the inner harmony, to invoke the law of spiritual mastery over the body, and to put forth all possessed and obtainable power of thought and realization for health, in good cheer, with valiant heart, and inspired by the truth that, whatever betide, nought can really harm the abiding self. "Be not faithless; but believing."
And so I think that our great Nature-Universe bids us hear these words from the Infinite White Life: "Sons and daughters of the All-Good, the power of thought and harmony are surely for you. If you realize your highest liberty and its greatest efficiency as you now are, you will use, not deny, those instrumentalities which are provided in my ministers, Science and Faith. Must you be a slave either to the material or to the immaterial? Can you not employ both for your welfare? May not the king call in whomsoever he will? All things are yours."
Let us not fall into the old-time religious error of assuming that some particular philosophy or faith which we have discovered embraces all truth and value. Let us not label this or that with our little words, and say: "This is law — this only." The law of thought-power in the physical realm is older than any present civilization. The law of harmony ' as the supreme health-restorer and health-builder is not a law created by the Infinite during the last twenty-five years. I uncover my heart to every soul who is trying for the best things and believes he has found a true way; but I must not believe that this world has been left in stark ignorance of the most fundamental law of our earth-life — that health in its triune wholeness comes of the white life and the realizing claim — to await the birth and word of any man or woman in these times. It is a little too late. Therefore I say to you who may read these pages: "Stand free! Use every means and all methods, material and spiritual (for the material is but a phase of the spiritual), for health and happiness."
7. The Secret of Thought in Relation to Health is the Claim of the White Life Consciously Put Forth for Physical Well-Being. In explanation of this principle, let us try to obtain certain true conceptions concerning the material and pyschic nature of man.
All existences come to being through the activity of one Infinite and Eternal Reality.
The medium in which all material existences exhibit is the universal ether of science, vibrations in this medium constituting light, heat, electricity, magnetism, etc., etc.
So far as we can think, the ether is a manifest, perhaps a primary manifest, of Infinite and Eternal Reality.
It is coming to be scientific to hold that matter reduces in its last analysis to electricity and is a complex form of vibrations of the ether within the ether. Matter is not merely pervaded by the ether; it is a state of the ether.
Matter, then, is a manifest of Infinite and Eternal Reality.
Life is a phase of the activity of matter. If we think of matter in its grossest form, nearest to us in the process of evolution, life may be regarded as an entity different from that matter. We do somehow feel that matter and life are distinct realities. But if we think of matter as a complex form of etheric vibrations, nothing forbids our saying that life also is a form of vibration of the ether within the ether. With this view in mind, we shall think of matter and life as comparatively simultaneous manifests of the ether, life, however, appearing only when the state of etheric vibrations resulting in matter has reached a stage in which vibrations resulting in life can be possible. We should then say that life is a product of etheric vibrations emerging through those that have resulted in matter; that is, life is a product of material activities. This view cannot justly be called materialism because Life is, then, also a manifest of Infinite and Eternal Reality.
We do not scientifically know any sort of mind that is not exhibited through matter. The human mind always exhibits through a human body. What we call mind is a complex of states of consciousness engaged in various activities. Consciousness involves certain physical activities within us. If nothing were acting within, we should not be conscious. This has always been true. The first dawn of consciousness in Nature involved activities within the organism. If we think of that first faintly conscious existence as a mass of crude matter, then the self and its body will appear to be distinctly separated in reality. But if we think of that body as a manifest of etheric vibrations in which life-vibrations also obtained, there is nothing to forbid our saying that consciousness was equally a product of such vibrations. If so, the psychic factor was a form of vibrations of the ether within the ether --- and so, when it appeared, had evolved to higher forms, was consciousness.
Matter is an evolution, and out of it have evolved life, the psychic factor, consciousness. But consciousness is, then, for the reasons above indicated, a manifest of Infinite and Eternal Reality.
Consciousness is the condition of personality. When the former first appeared, it was a product. Thenceforth, because personality was a psychic factor in consciousness, it became a creator. That is to say, it was capable of enlargement and enrichment, and so, began to unfold its powers, to enrich its own contents by appropriation, and to organize itself in various ways depending upon its nature in each case and the influence of environment. In seeking to realize itself, as it must do in the nature of things, and in adjusting to environment, which was a second necessity of its being, it began to direct the activities of matter comprising its own body, to select matter from without needful for its kind of body, and to build this material up into a kind of body best adapted to its existence, and thus, by its own character, to determine the character of the organism which it inhabited.
All this work seems entirely independent until we remember that ether, matter, life, the psychic factor, are manifests of Infinite and Eternal Reality. But when we so remember, we see that personality consisting of a conscious self and a body is similarly a manifest of that Reality.
This conclusion will appear to identify man and Deity unless we discriminate a little. Every object in Nature is a manifest of Infinite and Eternal Reality, but the latter transcends the former simply because the object is such a manifest. A thing which is a manifest or expression of something superior cannot be identified with the superior something. I am not the words which I write, although they manifest me and could not exist without me. Every object in Nature is precisely what it is as a manifest of Reality. There is scant freedom in the natural world apart from man. Nothing in Nature could be other than it is. Man, on the other hand, is a manifest of Infinite and Eternal Reality in the sense that he has a body, and must have one, and is a personality and must be one (if he is man); but in the man psychic factor has come to consciousness, and consciousness, as we have seen, always reveals itself in self-direction and self-organization according to its developed power to think of itself as self-conscious existence. Were it unable to so think of itself, it could not be self-directive in the fullest sense. And were it unable to self-direct its own activities, it could not be conscious in the fullest sense of the word. Our existence manifests Infinite and Eternal Reality, but the power to use that existence is determined by the fact that we are psychic factors in the highest sense exhibited in the earth, and the use we make thereof is determined by our exercise of the power of self-direction and self-organization. We cannot help being human beings, but what kind of human beings we are, within the limits of personal endowments, depends solely upon ourselves.
We may see, then, that the psychic factor within us builds the bodies we live in, so that our physical character is largely an expression of our personal character. Ages of wrong thought-life are behind us, yet even so, it is within our power to improve physical character very greatly indeed.
Now, the power of personal right thinking and harmony with the White Life of Infinite and Eternal Reality may be explained in the following way (you will understand, of course, that the outline is designed merely to be suggestive) :
All matter in the realm of Nature being a manifest of Infinite and Eternal Reality, Nature and her substances are phases of the Eternal Thought. The study of Nature is just the study of that Thought, conducted in various ways and for various purposes. The Thought, in all its existences and relations, is a vast and complex whole, and yet, from the point of view of its highest value to man, a great Word, comparatively simple and open to every earnest and sincere seeker throughout all the ages. If you will ask yourself, What are the main and abiding thoughts which are embodied in Nature? your conclusion, I think, need not be elaborate and confusing. The question, however, must be asked in a receptive and unprejudiced mood, and not merely by the matter-of-fact intellect. "Every inch of earth, of water, of fire, and of air contains the fundamental principles of the universe, and man is the connecting link between dust and Deity, and can bridge the gulf through the illumination of his mind. ‘The most powerful telescope known to man is mind's eye." "He who has cultivated and learned to open his heart to the touch of outward Nature illuminates his inner being by the elevation and refinement of his emotional and imaginative nature. This is the first principle in the objective world of the higher education of mind and soul. The first lesson of Mother Earth is to instruct her children to be softened and sympathetic toward the moods of outward Nature. Thus mankind softens, broadens, and grows, becoming more susceptible to impressions, taking in the glory of the Divine Architect, which is in the world revealed, and the golden gates of the soul are opened."
Seeking with such a spirit, then, the main Thoughts which Nature embodies, I venture to say that Infinite and Eternal Reality has there expressed itself in these great Words:
Reality, Truth, Law,
These are the Thoughts expressed in Nature which are manifest of the White Life. For such the nature of things always declares, when free to do so. By so much as any object of existence fully realizes itself, by so much are these Thoughts, so far as such realization requires, made concrete if only we have the seeing mind and the feeling heart. With these powers of perception, the seeing mind and the feeling heart, we come to know that all in Nature is good and means good to every man and woman and child in this world. There is no evil in Nature. All so-called evil in Nature is due either to some phase of her existence wrongly used or to some false interpretation in human thinking. Nature is real, true, law-full, beautiful, good, harmonious, full of power, a growing organism, a minister of service and well-being, a living thing, a literature of love. If you refer to microbes, poisons, deadly serpents, and the like, I reply that the perfect white life in man, together with the knowledge of science, would teach him to avoid wrong relations and develop within him physical, mental and moral tone (tonus, in the language of the schools). Thus would he be rendered immune from all so-called evils.
If your inner life contains nothing alien to these great Nature-Thoughts, if you see to it that their character is given your personal character, you will secure in the body a degree of the power of harmony which they possess, and your health will infallibly correspond. Do no mistake this sentence. Will you kindly read it again until you see what it really means? The only limit to your health will be the limit of your ability to realize in yourself the mighty Thoughts which make Nature what she is. I do not mean that splendid results must immediately issue from the course indicated. Patience and time are important factors. I do not mean that a dying man can inevitably realize these Thoughts sufficiently to recover health. There are limits, not to the law, but to one's ability to use the law. In spiritual effort, effort of the inner self to lay hold upon the Universal Forces, you can make your own personal discoveries. I may not say a greater word. Above all, I do not mean that merely thinking the Thoughts will be enough, in any case. The method is one of realization as well as affirmation. But by so much as you become that which the Nature-Thoughts suggest, by so much will your physical and psychic health come to buoyancy, joy and power. You are now invited, then, to adopt the following as the permanent law of your thought-life:
I am, in every function of my body and every activity of my deeper self, entirely GENUINE, representing TRUTH, obeying LAW, loving BEAUTY, striving for GOODNESS, coming to HARMONY, possessed of POWER, GROWING to better things, full of HAPPINESS, eager to SERVE, a LIVING white life, and a Lover of all that is good.
If you will thoughtfully and believingly repeat this law twice a day say, for one hundred days, you will find life unfolding new meanings, fears fading and dying, and courage, growing to real greatness.
8. In the Mystery of the Silence the Power of Realization Becomes Greatest and Most Effective Because in Such a State the Self Makes Its High Thoughts a Conscious Claim on All Good Things. The direct utility of the right thought-life is nowhere doubted. By this the psychic factor largely molds the body and influences its functions. Preceding methods or laws have all referred to the truth involved. But the law of direct realization is needed in order to complete the workings of the truth. By direct realization the self consciously claims the present benefit of the spirit or attitude of harmony. You may think of yourself as splendidly well and fearless: that is one thing —you regard your-self as in such conditions. And you may claim your-self now to be well and courageous: that is another thing — you treat yourself for health and fearlessness. When you think of your arm as moving, it does not necessarily move; you have merely entertained the idea. When you will your arm to move, you have claimed your power to move it and have realized the power — realized in actual thought that power. The difference would obtain if your arm were bound: you could still realize in thought the sense of movement. Realization of the Eternal Thoughts is a conscious claim in spirit and appropriation in spirit of the Thoughts as actual within yourself. Realization of benefits for health is a conscious holding of them in mind as present in you. One may in time acquire the fixed mood of realization, but it will assist you to bring about that mood if you will occasionally, say once a day, shut out all disturbances and alien thoughts and feelings, and try to come into communion with the White Life — go into the silence and, by quiet affirmation and sincere, trustful realization, claim the Universal Forces as your helpers in building up your physical tone and the spirit of courage. A sentence like the following may be used:
"Conscious of psychic uprightness in the white life, and of the beauty, utility and wonder of my physical being in its nature, and function, I now claim, and with-out doubt am receiving, the Universal Forces for my best tone and courage-spirit in all-improving health."