Every living thing has an inherent potential force which may be said to be the mainspring of its organism. This energy is so strong and constant that it not only holds in check all corruptive and disintegrative tendencies, but it has positive and formative power. Under normal conditions it is a veritable "dynamo" which transmutes and moulds material into new and characteristic form and expression. This force we call life, but a better definition would be mind.
When mind has laid hold of matter, and erected it into a symmetrical animated statue, so long as this mastery continues, we say, "Here is life." When this mysterious union ceases, or, in other words, the mind lets go of its material, we call the change "death." The matter which has been released from the grasp of the living entity disintegrates. But nothing has died. There has been no forfeiture except simply that of a peculiar form of expression. The essence or mind has discontinued its use of that particular material which it for a time employed for out-picturing or objective manifestation.
Every living form is an external index of some kind of mind. In every detail it is a result, and never a cause. For instance, the tiger-mind picks up material, and moulds it in every particular to express exactly the mental propensities and characteristics of that animal. Feline cunning, ferocity, strength, and adaptation to environment are all mental qualities. Body is passive material, being only acted upon.
The life (or even here we may say the mind) of a beech tree gathers up matter and erects it into a shape, but never makes a mistake regarding the exact form of visible expression. The grain of the wood, bark, every branch, twig, and leaf, all articulate beech, and nothing else.
The human mind, or life, erects its own animate form with exactitude, though the identical material may have been used for other grades of mind a hundred times before.
We have thus concisely stated a few basic principles of being, to note by contrast the baselessness of prevailing materialism. Without intending to be materialistic, we unconsciously become so, judging as we do by outside appearances. We fall into the superficial current, and gauge everything by sensuous measurement. Careful reflection will show us that we are always dealing with surface symptoms and effects, and fail to get down to the depths of primary causation. We drop into the error of regarding mind only as a quality of body, while in reality the latter is merely its instrument. The mind is the substance or entity, as is a number, rather than the figure or character by which it is represented.
Any other philosophy of being than the above makes man a mere bundle of animated matter, and presents him as dependent for his very existence upon a fortuitous concourse of organized material. If mind be only a function or attenuated quality of cooperative dust, what becomes of it when disorganization takes place? We will do well to dismiss such a deadly pessimistic philosophy.
Have not therapeutics, philosophy, science, and theology all together become materialistic? Man regards himself as a material being. He practically thinks of himself as body. This state of consciousness degrades and puts him upon the plane of innumerable limitations.
Metaphysical science and experience show that so far as one holds as a positive principle that he is soul, and that it is normal for him to rule his physical instrument, thus far he gains a growing power and control over it. This thought, firmly and continuously held, so moulds and influences the body, that at length it not only renders a useful and harmonious ministry to its lord and master, but also becomes increasingly impervious to disorder and inharmony. This doctrine exactly fits the constitution of man. It is in accord with law in its deepest and broadest interpretation.
Bearing these points in mind, let us inquire what are life and health? Life is that condition in which the real man, ego, or mind, rules and also receives normal tribute from his sensuous organism. Health is that state of relationship when there is no insurrection or obstacle, and peace and cooperation prevail. The man rules his household, and receives rightful service and respect. The divine established order is recognized and complied with.
Illness is that condition in which the rule of mind is enfeebled, or when the grasp of the ego is weakening upon its legitimate kingdom; and death is the entire loss of its executive hold and authority.
To successfully reign in his lawful domain, man needs added vitality, and a felt connection with the universal exuberant Energy. He must regard himself as a conduit, and be in constant receipt of supplies from the great super sensuous Fountain of Life.
It is not the passive clay which needs manipulation, but the ruler who must have added executive authority. His weakened grasp must be tightened; and this is not possible by visible food only, for "man shall not live by bread alone." If the ego firmly assert its positive supremacy as a matter of divine right, its demands will be complied with. The "divine right of kings" is as nothing in comparison.
We patch the body from the outside, hoping thereby to make it mentally tenable a little longer. But it is built from within. From the inner to the outer is the universal established order.
Mental causation is always primary, but it is too deep for sensuous observation. The draft may occasion a cold, but the cause is more subtle—susceptibility.
Everyone has long been aware that fear, grief, sin, anxiety, pessimism, and all their train, pull down bodily tissue; but we have unwittingly failed to observe that their positive opposites would surely build it up. But this is logical and reasonable. Harmony, joy, optimism, idealism, love, and courage will surely invigorate. Under the now well-understood law of auto-suggestion and thought-concentration, each mental condition can be positively cultivated and made dominant in the consciousness. It is possible to entirely change the mental habit. A daily exercise of immaterial gymnastics, involving systematic thought concentration, is as practicable as any system of muscular and physical development.
What, then, is the remedy for mental or physical infelicity? Change the subjective standpoint. Reconstruct the consciousness. It may not be done in a moment, for all growth is gradual. But the same pains and persistence that we give to a thousand things of far less importance will work a wonderful change in a short time.
We must consciously enter into our possession, and claim that we are living souls rather than poor, weak, material creatures. Dwell not in mere physical sensation, upon the animal plane, but in an affirmed and cultivated conscious superiority over conditions, until they fall into line and serve us. Enthrone the real ego, which is spirit, created in the image of the Infinite, and utilize something of that divine potency which has been hidden by ages of self-imposed limitation.
But man, having lost his spiritual self-consciousness, mistakes the handful of dust which he has for a while utilized, for himself. By immutable law he manifests and outpictures this concept which he has held and carelessly actualized. So long as he regards himself as a poor, weak, material creature he will fill the measure of his own outline.
"As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." This is not a mere moral or religious platitude, but a scientific statement. It has been said that "a man is the architect of his own fortune;" but this is more true of mind and body than of worldly place and possessions. The creative power of thought is his divine instrument; but he has not learned its use, and so, as has till recently been the case with electrical energy, its force has been squandered, or, even worse, turned in the wrong direction.
Man searches the objective world over for balms, specifics, and panaceas, and experiments with every known external thing, but fails to interpret the nearest and grandest of all things—his own constitution. He goes abroad for congenial environment, sunny skies, and favoring climates, but fails to get away from his own perverted thoughts concerning himself. He must learn that through ideals he may displace his specters. By compliance with this great law he may transform seeming adverse conditions. The "Philosopher's Stone" is within his own being. Through the spiritual alembic of his inner nature he may rightfully call for all things to pay him tribute.