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The Germs of Disease

Did the suggestiveness of the modern germ theory of disease ever strike you? So many diseases are now traced to a germ which in former years were attributed to other causes.

From the metaphysical point of view, following the principles of the Science of Being, not only all diseases but all discomfort and unhappiness are traceable to germs. But fortunately the way to render them innocuous is also revealed.

First, let us consider the physical theory and see if we cannot trace a parallel between it and the metaphysical. Disease results from a germ which, taken by any means into the system, will induce such condition unless the system can resist its action. Results will be according to susceptibility. With no susceptibility no sickness will ensue.

Here, but little examination is needed to show us that what really determines the result is not the nature and power of the germ but the degree of susceptibility. Did the germ possess the determining power, susceptibility or non-susceptibility would not matter; and whoever became impregnated by it would inevitably suffer the consequence, which would be exactly the same in all respects for those who were infected by the same germ.

This not being the case, results vary. One is a very serious case, another is a mild case, and again there is no case at all, though three individuals have been exposed to the impregnating conditions at the same time. Susceptibility, then, is what needs investigation rather than the germ. The cultivation of non-susceptibility seems of more importance than the cultivation of germs.

And here we are obliged to enter the metaphysical domain. What makes us susceptible to the action of germs? Can we control this susceptibility? If so, how? Will living upon a certain diet, breathing a certain amount or certain quality of air, taking such and such medicines, or abstaining from them, accomplish it? If the power to rule resides in any of these things the results must be alike to all who employ them, for law is no respecter of persons. But we do not see this impartiality. Under the same apparent conditions one is ill, another well; one recovers from sickness while another sickens. We must look deeper.

Let us apply the principles of the Science of Being. If it seems our fate to be ill and suffer, let us endeavor to rule our fate with our destiny. Our being is above even the possibility of sickness and death. It can never be infected by germs. The real I can never be changed from what its cause makes it. It is sustained eternally by that supreme Cause and no harm can come nigh it. It is Lord over all less that it. It is whole, complete.

But the soul is not yet complete actually, though it is whole potentially. It is in process of "becoming" from the potential to the actual. It is therefore temporarily conditioned. As the potential or subsistent Self in the Lord, "hidden in the bosom of the Father from the beginning," it is unconditioned; but as it develops, or becomes the actual Self, it is conditioned by the stages of its growth and subject to their limitations.

Disease is a condition. It can pertain, therefore, only to that which is conditioned, and its remedy is a contrary condition. A higher condition must destroy a lower condition, and a higher condition must come from more growth—is a greater growth or development.

It is a long step forward when we not only see but begin to feel that the visible physical body is not the seat of disease but only the plane of its visibility. By the relation of subjective and objective, the objective body is the means by which is made visible what is held in the subjective soul. If there be the power to cast out of the soul what has been held within it, it follows that there must be, eventually, corresponding disappearance from the objective body.

What we need to observe, then, is the nature of the soul, its relation to the being and to the visible body, why and how it is conditioned, and how its conditions can be changed. We need give attention neither to the being nor body.

The sense-soul or Adam is subject to the conditions imposed upon it by its own ignorance of the nature of being. It lives in and according to sensation. Although it draws its vitality from the being, it is open to impressions through the senses, suggestions to which it is passive till it begins to awaken through knowledge to a higher possibility. As a soul it is in and surrounded by the atmosphere as relative to it as the physical atmosphere is relative to the physical body.

Our visible bodies are immersed in an ocean of air which is within them, around them, and through them, always in motion. As souls we are immersed in a finer atmosphere, not detected by the tests which reveal the coarser, and which is within us, around us, and through us, always in motion.

Our physical atmosphere is pure in itself or in its original elements; but it is made impure by additions to it, by personal emanations. The atmosphere of a room filled with people and closed so tightly that no fresh air can enter it, becomes vitiated—according to mortal sense—and unfit to breathe because it has its life-giving properties withdrawn by those in the room who give to it instead their own exhalations with whatever these contain.

Everyone in the room inhales as an individual his quota of the atmosphere and adds to it as independently his quota of personal emanations. Consequently, each occupant inhales not only the air as such, but the emanations of all the others.

Here we see that the air of the room is the common receptacle and reservoir from which comes to the individual—through his own action, breathing—the germs or emanations of others which they have put into the atmosphere belonging to all. The atmosphere is not in the least to blame, there is no moral question involved. It is simply the order of nature.

But the individual is bound by this order no longer than he is passive to it. He can let fresh air into the room, put his head out of the window to get some, or leave the room and get into the outer air. If he continues to breathe the poisoned air, the poisonous element enters his lungs and, therefore, penetrates his physical body and leaves its deposits. Consequences ensue which would not occur did he possess the knowledge—and act upon it—of how to avoid them.

To stop breathing so that the emanations of others could not enter his physical body, is not the way out of the difficulty. He has to breathe. He cannot stop breathing. He is compelled to breathe because he is alive. And because he is alive he can choose what he will breathe. He can get the fresh air if he will.

The soul-atmosphere is filled with the emanations of souls, the thoughts which humanity has been thinking for generations. It is full of these germs, loaded with them. All the mortal beliefs of Adam-souls are in this storehouse and we breathe in that atmosphere constantly, inhaling, drawing into the soul-organism the germs of all kinds of sickness, suffering, and death; for these thoughts are the germs with which the soul is inoculated and which breed their consequences so long as the soul is susceptible to them.

And the soul is susceptible so long as it is passive to sense impressions, so long as it remains the Adam-soul. While this passivity continues the human race is bound to be disease-ridden, for the causes of disease are constantly at work and effects must follow. Not till resistance to thought-germs instead of passivity becomes the order, will disease disappear, for the soul leaves it behind through growth, and in no other way.

We hear the dread word "consumption." Lacking understanding, we are impressionable. It calls up a mental picture with us. The occasion is furnished for the fructifying of the germ in the mental atmosphere. We are passive or susceptible to it. We are inoculated and in time it reaches visible expression on the plane of the body.

Susceptibility to disease is nothing more nor less than passivity to it, and is mental rather than physical. It is a mental state and the remedy is the opposite mental state which can be cultivated. The prayer "0! Lord! take this away from me!" will avail nothing, permanently, if our susceptibility is allowed to continue.

Here is where our own power lies. We can cultivate resistance if we will. First, self-knowledge, then application of that knowledge instead of an additional passivity—expecting the Lord to do it all for us. As souls we must breathe. Our thinking is our mental breathing. We cannot stop this mental breathing if we wish to, but we can choose how we will think, what we will think.

We need not go on adding our personal emanations, our mortal-sense thoughts to the common stock; and if we do not think these thoughts, we are not as susceptible to the action of this kind of thought-germs. Like attracts like. This is why we become able to resist the action of these germs when we govern our thinking. We attract the higher and purer, the life-giving germs, when we think the true, instead of the sense thought.

We have to learn to think contrary to sense-impressions instead of according to them, and then we breathe the breath of life instead of the breath of death. Then we awaken out of sleep, arise from the dead. Every thought we think goes from us into the mental or soul atmosphere according to its kind will be the reflex action upon ourselves; and the effect upon all souls will be according to their susceptibility. What we exhale we inhale.

Either the breath of death or the breath of life leaves its deposits—the germs—in the soul-organism, which work to visible expression in the body. As Adams we are subject to the consequences of the breath of death, and they are many and various as mortal sense has labelled them.

"As in Adam we all die, so in Christ are we made alive."

When we learn how to mentally breathe, how to think, and put our knowledge into practice, the Christ has come to the soul, making it alive where before it was “dead in trespasses and sins." We can be inoculated with eternal life as readily as with death. Which do we choose? We can become as susceptible to immortality as to mortality; to the freedom of the sons of God as to the thorns and thistles of the ground.

The thoughts of Jesus of Nazareth through whom was manifest the Christ of God, are in our soul-atmosphere now; and these germs of mastery of mortal conditions and eternal life are able to germinate in our souls now and beget their conditions if we make ourselves susceptible to them by first making ourselves nonsusceptible to the mortal-sense germs.

The whole matter is in our own hands and until the divorce which has for so long obtained between science and religion becomes inoperative, until it is as much a religious duty to be free from disease as it is a scientific possibility, the world will be disease-ridden and the professing Christian will continue to bear his afflictions with resignation because God sends them upon him.

Suffering, disease, and death are but the temporal possibility for the soul because of its connection with being and inherent tendency to unfoldment.

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Ursula N. Gestefeld

  • Born April 22, 1845 and died in 1921 (burried at Graceland Cemetery, Chicago).
  • Involved in Christian Science
  • Most famous work is The Woman Who Dares.

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