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The Mind and the Body

Many of us appear to be under the impression that the mind is something totally apart in every way from the body, and we do not seem to realize that the ideas we hold have immediately a direct effect upon some part of our human frame, and also upon our circumstances generally. We overlook altogether the connection that exists between the mind and the body, and which is inseparable while we continue to live in this world; a little thought, however, is all that is necessary for us to grasp the outlines, if not the whole, of this great and important fact, for, is it not the mind that causes us to walk, to sit, to run, or to stand? Would our bodies go from one place to another on their own account, if we had not the mind that they should do so? Whoever heard of a man in possession of his full faculties, saying that he wanted to go up the street but his body would not go; or that he wanted to sit or to stand, but his body refused to obey his will. We should naturally smile if we heard a man make such a statement; and does not this fact show clearly that we all admit what we might term the first principles of the power of mind over the body? Having granted so much, then why should we imagine that the power ceases at such-like things as those just mentioned, if we will view the body as simply the house that we live in, we shall at once get the full facts of the case. We find a certain part of our house in want of repair; if we have the right mind, we can at once put it in order, but it is of the utmost importance that we should have the mind right, or l otherwise we shall be selecting the wrong material and the place will remain as bad as it was before we made up our minds to repair it.

It is absolutely necessary that the mind should be pure and right in every way or it will not be able to do its work well and satisfactorily. How, for instance, can a man who is wrong in his ideas select the right doctor? He is naturally bound to make blunders, forgetting to take his medicine at the right time, or overlooking other instructions that the medical man has given him. All this and many other things must follow where the mind is working on wrong lines, for it is a positive fact that the mind itself is the actual motive power of everything in any way and in every way connected with ourselves, and if the very essence of our being is out of order then all the various parts, depending as they do upon this inner power, must also be out of order in an exactly corresponding manner. Many of us are fully under the impression that if we retain our liberty and are not placed under lock and key in some lunatic asylum, then it must follow that our minds are right and that we are perfectly sane; this is altogether a wrong and mistaken idea, for doctors who make a special study of lunacy tell us that we are all mad, more or less, and Carlyle told us practically the same thing when he referred to the people in the world as being mostly foolish, for a want of sense is undoubtedly a form of insanity, and no one absolutely in their right senses would ever do anything that could be correctly termed foolish, and yet the majority of us are doing things daily that cannot be classified under any other heading. We must therefore not come hastily to the conclusion that we are perfectly sane simply because our fellow men think that we are; the only possible way for us to find out correctly whether we are right-minded is to take an honest and true stock of our surroundings and our present circumstances generally, and if we find that the majority of the things around us are in every way to our liking, that our bodies are healthy, that our homes are comfortable, that our children are a blessing to us, that our purses contain sufficient for us to help others around us and yet leave enough to supply our daily needs; or, in other words, if we find everything connected with us exactly to our satisfaction, then we may correctly come to the conclusion that our mind is perfectly sound and in a right state; but if, on the other hand, we find that our bodies are far from well, that our homes are uncomfortable, that our children are a worry and a trouble to us, that we have much anxiety in providing for our daily wants, and that, generally speaking, our circumstances are bad, then if we wish to be honest with ourselves and have an earnest desire to know the truth, we must first admit to ourselves that our minds are wrong, that our ideas are mistaken ones, and that the very essence of our being, the motive power which controls everything connected with ourselves, we have allowed to get out of order, and it is without doubt absolutely necessary for us to admit these things before it is at all possible to bring about any improvement in our surroundings.

"Repent and ye shall be converted"; acknowledge that you are wrong and you will at once see the importance of working on different ideas, but if, on the other hand, we continue to think that our mind and thoughts are right while our bodies and circumstances are wrong, then we may depend upon it our troubles have come to stay, for there can be no alteration in the body or in material things until there is an alteration in the mind. To excuse ourselves by thinking that it is quite right for things to be wrong is equal to shutting ourselves in some dungeon and blocking out all daylight, living, or rather merely existing in a false paradise, thinking in our own mistaken minds that the very troubles in this life will mean that much more happiness for us in the next. We imprison ourselves in these dark black holes of sorrow, pain, and if trouble, and refuse to come out of them even at God’s bidding, and we look with pity, if not scorn, upon the man who dares to tell us that we are mistaken.

In reference to the body in particular, we find that a certain amount of waste is continually going on, the mere raising of the arm means so much energy expended, and this must at once be replaced if we wish to continue in good health, just the same as a house requires painting, decorating, and constant repairing if we would keep it in a good condition. When we find a man living in his own freehold house and keeping it in bad repair, we know at once that the man is wrong in his ideas, or that he is indolent, careless, and generally at fault; then it must follow that the same remark applies to us when we do not keep our own bodies in their right state and condition. To say that we cannot do so is simply to show at once a want of knowledge, which we can at any time obtain if we are willing to forego the wrong ideas which we may at the present time possess, for it is not the body that makes the man but the man that makes the body. Most people will grant the power of mind over body, but only up to a certain extent. In this they are quite right, the difference however occurs when we come to define the line that is to be drawn. To say that the mind has complete power and control over the body would not be right, for if this were the case a man might command his body to do certain things that it is absolutely incapable of doing, such as flying through the air without any mechanical contrivance, and many other things of a like character for which the body was never intended. Many of us, however, abuse the power of the mind, and compel the body to do many things which are not right, with the result that the body gets out of order and then the mind becomes troubled, for in all cases it is the mind that is to blame and not the body which by itself can do no manner of harm. We ought therefore to see the importance of keeping the mind pure, and our thoughts and ideas right, or depend upon it we shall have in this world to pay the penalty of abusing the wonderful power that God has endowed us with.

Some people will say that our bodily ailments are hereditary, which means that we are suffering today for sins committed by our forefathers. Can such a thing as this be right or just? If it is not in accordance with Absolute Justice, then we may depend upon it is not right, and no amount of so-called evidence, scriptural quotations, or anything else that we can bring forward, will convince a right-minded man that it is possible for him to suffer today for the sins of his great-grandfather. The idea is simply absurd on the face of it. We may, however, succeed in persuading the majority of people that such is the case, but God himself will not accept it as any excuse; we must therefore look in some other direction for an explanation. Men of science, who have made the human frame a special study, have long since discovered that our bodies are entirely renewed about every seven years. This taking place continually and regularly throughout our whole lifetime; when we reach the age of about seven years there is not one particle of our bodies left that we had at our birth, and at the age of, say, twenty-one every little part of our human frame has been completely changed three times. Taking this great fact into careful consideration, how can we rightly or justly blame our ancestors, or even our parents, for any illness, disease, or complaint that we may have? This renewing is entirely the work of the mind, and the alteration in our bodies takes place exactly in accordance with the state that our mind is in, for the body does not do the work itself. Again we see the great importance of keeping our ideas upon good and pure lines, otherwise trouble must immediately befall us.

Many years ago leeching and bleeding were looked upon as a cure for almost every illness, but those days have long since passed away, and the most advanced physicians of the present time are putting their physics and drugs to a great extent upon one side, and in place of them are giving their patients good sound common-sense advice, telling them to get plenty of fresh air, a reasonable amount of exercise, to seek bright and cheerful company; and in many cases a dietary list is taking the place of the usual prescription. All this goes a long way to prove that even the medical profession are beginning to realize that there is something for the patient to do as well as the doctor. It is only a question of a short time, and we shall have our specialists studying the question of morals (not microbes) and their effect upon the body. They will be demonstrating how every bad thought, word, or action has some detrimental effect upon our frames, instead of trying to make out that our particular illness is hereditary, or that we have incidentally contracted the disease by travelling, say, in some public conveyance. It will be a question of careful inquiry into our daily conduct. Are we generally bad tempered or irritable over small matters? Do we worry over trials? Are we usually selfish in our ideas, or are we on bad terms with our family or any of our acquaintances? These are the sort of questions which the physician of the near future is likely to ask us. Or it may be by careful study that the specialist may be able to explain to us what it is that we are doing or leaving undone that is keeping us in bad health, then having pointed out the actual cause, it will be for us to supply the remedy by stopping at once the particular fault that has brought about the illness.

Think truly and thy thoughts
Shall the world’s famine feed:
Speak truly, and each word of thine
Shall be a fruitful seed:
Live truly, and thy life shall be
A great and noble creed.
—Horatius Bonar

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Hugo Wright

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