The New Science of
Living and Healing
by Wallace D. Wattles
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The New Science of Living and Healing contends that it takes a great deal of argument to make the average man and woman understand that strength is renewed in sleep and that they grow weaker, not stronger by eating. He believes it is the brain that needs to be recharged and that the reader would do well to find out the smallest quantity of food upon which they can live and work without losing weight and live on it.
by Elizabeth Towne
"STARVE and be a Samson!" That is the first line of an illustrated article in a recent number of the New York World, wherein are described the wonderful feats of Gilman Low who "lifted 1,000,000 pounds in thirty-five minutes." When he finds a car track obstructed by a disabled auto, Gilman Low lifts the 1,500 pound touring car out of the way as easily as you or I might move a baby wagon.
Gilman Low has broken all sorts of athletic records, but not on accepted principles of training. Once before, after using conventional methods, three meals a day with meat, etc., he attempted that 1,000,000 pound lift, which consisted in getting under a 1,000 pound weight and raising it on his back 1,000 times in half an hour. That time he raised it 500 times in twenty-five minutes and had to quit.
This time he trained for the feat by living first five weeks on one meal a day, consisting of three eggs, half a loaf of whole wheat bread and raw fruits, nuts or cereals, with one glass of milk taken afterward. During the day he drank plenty of cool, distilled water. Twice during the period he ate meat, but found it detrimental and ceased using it. The last three weeks he ate but four meals a week, of the foods before mentioned. At 10 a. m. of the day the lift was made, he ate six eggs and plenty of bread.
During the eight weeks of training his exercise consisted principally of walking and deep breathing combined with light gymnastics, and he kept out of doors as much as possible, being a firm believer in the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
His 1,000,000 pound lifting was performed before a medical examiner and many witnesses. When he had lifted the 1,000 pound weight 800 times his pulse registered only eighty-five, an increase of thirteen beats, showing a wonderful condition of heart and circulation. During the first one hundred lifts Low's arms were folded across his chest. After that his hands rested on a heavy bench and he lifted with arms, legs and back, increasing speed as he neared the close of his feat.
It cost Gilman Low exactly five and three-quarters pounds in the half-hour of lifting. And he prepared for it by living eight weeks on forty-seven meals, an average of one meal in over one and one-fifth days. And at only two of these meals he ate meat, finding afterwards that it interfered with his work.
When one thinks of Gilman Low eating air and lifting 1,000 pounds a thousand times in half an hour one's imagination skips Samson as unimportant. Why not Atlas, standing on air, living on air and lifting the earth?
How much more can Gilman Low do by eliminating a few more meals? He has already performed wonders after seven to fifteen day fasts. During the physical culture show he fasted seven days and then with the back lift raised 2,000 pounds twenty-two times in nineteen seconds. What next?
All this goes to prove "The New Science of Living" as elucidated by Wallace D. Wattles in the first few chapters of this book.
One of our correspondents asks, "If food is not necessary to maintenance of the physical being, why do all fowls and animals eat nearly continuously? Why does a baby cry for food at frequent intervals, though it sleeps much of the time?"
Nobody imagines that food is not "necessary to the maintenance of physical life." It is.
But food is not the source of physical power, as the old physiology teaches.
Food is to the body what raw material is to the builder. The power which receives food, dissolves and changes it, and builds it into muscle and tissue, nerves, and brain, is the Life Power which flows into us from the Infinite while we sleep.
If we give this Life Power the right food materials, and the right amount of it, it builds beautifully, intelligently, ever improving and refining its work.
If we give too little food material this Life Power builder within us is hampered in its work, just as any carpenter would be if the mill failed to deliver the necessary lumber for the work planned. The body stores enough material for a forty, or fifty, or sixty-day famine, but not enough for eternal famine. Not yet, at least.
If we give too much food material, or not the right kind, it is as if the lumber dealer kept delivering loads of all kinds of lumber until the premises were covered with it. Imagine carpenters trying to build a house in the center of a lumber yard, with all kinds of timber piled about and more coming in with every revolution of the saw, and you will get a faint idea of the difficulties under which labors the builder which is you, when you pour in more food material than he needs.
And the danger of pouring in too much food is far greater than that of delivering too little. For the reason that too much food sets up a state of general inflammation throughout the body, which you interpret as a call for more food, when in reality it means there is already too much on hand. A baby suffering from indigestion acts ravenous. A grown-up stomach that is generating ferments calls for more, more. And another meal piled in gives temporary relief, just as kneading more flour into a batch of bread dough gives temporary relief from ferment.
What would happen to the dough if you kept on kneading it down with more flour, a dozen, a hundred, yes, thousands of times. The result would be un-wieldiness and poison. The same thing happens in the continuously overloaded stomach, and throughout the overloaded body.
And no amount of mental or spiritual science will stop it, though it may retard the process, as cold retards the rising of your bread dough. In this way you may put off the day of reckoning with an overloaded stomach and body, but that is all you can do. The death-poison will get you sooner or later.
There is little danger of giving the builder within you too little material, first, because the body of every person carries enough building material in storage to last a complete famine of thirty to sixty days, or more; second, because the normal hunger of the unstuffed and untempted body is an infallible guide to the amount and kind of food needed.
All our overeating comes from, first, the false belief that strength is gained from eating; second, the habit of eating so many times a day whether hungry or not; third, the continual tempting of the appetite through variety of dishes. Of course, the latter two causes are branches of the first.
The cure and the proof of the new physiology is to eat plain foods, cut out one meal a day, and take 36-hour fasts once a week for say four or five months. The improvement in feelings and endurance, and the change in appetite and tastes will prove the matter to all but the most hopelessly prejudiced minds.
Now, note that normal fowls hunt food "nearly continuously," but they come a long way from eating continuously. And the hunting and scratching enable them to make good use of all food they can find. Every poulterer knows that fowls penned up and overfed lay few eggs and suffer from numerous diseases.
And no animals come anywhere near eating "nearly continuously" except cattle, and they exercise while eating, and if they get over the fence into a too rich field they soon die of over-eating.
If you were to weigh the total amount a cow eats in a day, even in good pasturage, you would find she consumes less in proportion to her weight that the ordinary human being does. As she exercises all the time and gives milk in the bargain.
Another correspondent takes exceptions to Mr. Wattles' statements about fear and digestion, and cites the case of an old lady who "has always eaten much, and anything she wanted, and does yet; who knows nothing about the chemistry of foods, consequently has no fear of results of eating; and yet she has been a victim to sick headache, nerves and kindred troubles all her life."
I should think so. Fear is not the only thing that causes such troubles. And fear of what one eats is not the only kind of fear that hinders digestion. The more fear of any kind one entertains the less food one can properly digest, for fear paralyzes digestive and other processes. Any fear.
But over-eating and wrong eating are at the bottom of all sick headaches. If one adds fear to over-eating one suffers more and oftener, that's all.
This same correspondent says she must have four meals a day, as she is "no good" with her stomach empty; and she can "work all around her daughter who eats half as much and sleeps twice as much."
If she will cut her meals to two a day and fast thirty-six hours once a week, living thus, feelings or no feelings, for, say six weeks, doing it with a will, she will find herself doing still more work, with greater health and mental brightness than ever, and the gone feelings all gone for good. To merely assert that she must have four meals proves nothing. She will prove the opposite if she practices the new way.
And for one person to compare herself to another is futile. It proves nothing, for no two humans are alike. The daughter can cut her meals in two, and fast one day a week, and she will doubtless do more work than at present, and require less sleep.
For over-eating is one great cause of over-sleeping. Any sort of bodily exercise, including digestion, raises the demand for more sleep that the Life Power may accumulate energy to renew the broken down tissues. People of active living, like growing children, need much sleep. And people who eat much need much sleep, for it takes much Life Power to dispose of the food.
One person cannot be compared justly with another in such things; but one can try different methods of living, try them faithfully, and prove which is best, thus measuring themselves by themselves. So far this correspondent seems to have tried only one sort of living.
To eat all one really needs and no more, because the elimination of unneeded food requires Life Power or energy that would better be directed in other channels, - this is the intent of the new physiology. Sensible, is it not?
Life passes through us, we do not possess it.
Chapter 1 - The Source of Work-Power
IT IS PROBABLE that the late Edward Hooker Dewey, M. D., of Meadville, Pa., widely known as "the no-breakfast doctor," influenced more people in the direction of the simplification of life than any other writer, living or dead. His books, "The New Science of Health," and "The No-Breakfast Plan," have been read by many thousands of people and have indirectly influenced many thousands more; his theories are working a revolution, and yet scarcely one in ten of his followers comprehends the really revolutionary character of his thought, or the tremendous importance of his great physiological discovery.
In brief, as set forth in his last book, that discovery is this: That the strength—the work-power—of the human organism is not drawn from the food consumed, but is renewed in sleep. The storage battery of muscle energy and thought energy is not charged and re-charged at the dining table, but in the bedroom. Food is to the human body what the soil is to a plant - merely raw material; tissue elements, to be built into the organism, but not in any sense a source of life.
The interesting points about this theory are:
First, that it is capable of mathematical demonstration, and is therefore true beyond controversy.
Second, that it absolutely overthrows current theories of the source of life and strength, driving the materialistic physiologist from the field by proving that life energy is not the product of functional action, and that most muscle workers would be healthier, stronger and longer lived on one-half, and most brain workers on one-tenth of the quantity of food they now consume. It gives good ground also for the argument that mind is not produced by the body, but that mind produces the body; that the brain does not produce thought, but that thought produces the brain; that there is no chemistry by which a piece of bread can become mind or thought.
Third, it proves that most of the conclusions of the pseudo-science of medicine have been based on false premises, and are erroneous; and that most of the sick are greatly hindered in recovery by feeding, dosing, and other interference.
It gives us, also, a solid foundation upon which we may base a really scientific investigation of the problems of the origin of life, and of the immortality of the soul; but that is beyond the scope of this article.
Let us now "make good" on our first proposition: That we do not get our strength from food. The brain is a storage battery of vital energy, which is charged in some unknown manner, and from some unknown source, during sleep. The stomach is a machine which is run by brain power, and the digestion of food is a tax on strength, and not a source of strength.
Now, as to the mathematics. A laborer will consume a beef-steak and a couple of potatoes, and will shovel twenty tons of earth to a height of five feet; was there sufficient potential energy in the food to perform the work? A Japanese soldier, carrying a heavy load, can march and fight all day and only consume a handful of rice; and he can do this for an indefinite period without loss of weight or strength. Can anyone seriously claim that the enormous amount of energy he displays was potentially in the few ounces of rice consumed per diem? No machine which science has been able to devise can extract one five-hundredth part as much energy from as pound of beef as the human body must draw from it if the old physiology is true; but it is not true. It is mathematically impossible. A man will eat a few slices of pork, and will "run down," catch and overpower two or three full-grown hogs, by the sheer excess of his physical power over theirs. Is the potential energy of a pound of dead pork greater than the kinetic energy of three live three hundred pound hogs?
Consider, next, the numerous cases of protracted fasts which have been recorded since Dr. Dewey's books were published. Leonard Thress, of Philadelphia, fifty-six days, and Miss Estella Kuenzel, forty-two days, with a steady gain in strength from the first day, are among the cases recorded by the doctor himself; and some hundreds of others, perfectly authenticated, prove that a person can go from twenty to sixty days without food and can often do so without appreciable loss of strength. I believe it is the accepted dictum of the old physiology that a man will starve to death in ten days. This has proved to be a mistake, and it is evident that most of the people who have perished of hunger in that limited time died because they thought they had to, and that, properly educated, they might have lived from twenty to sixty days longer. In death by starvation the brain and nervous system, which are the power-plant, lose no weight; the other tissues disappear until the skeleton condition is reached, and death comes because the brain can get no more raw material with which to repair the heart, lungs, stomach, liver, etc.
The organism grows weak and perishes from lack of raw material to replace the daily waste of its vital parts; it dies when the viscera are so attenuated as to be unable to perform their functions, but it dies not for lack of vital energy, but because the vital energy has no material to use in keeping up the organism. Set a plant in gravel, and it will die - not for lack of energy, but for lack of material.
Consider for a moment this claim that the body works with energy generated by its own digestive system. The digestion of food is certainly work, and it certainly takes power; those who remember the feeling of lethargy after a too hearty meal will not be disposed to deny that a very considerable amount of energy is required to operate the stomach. The old physiology claims that the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, etc., are machines which are operated by power which is generated by the action of the stomach; and that the stomach, in turn, is operated by power which is generated by the action of the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, etc. Here is a mechanical impossibility - the stomach generating power to operate the other machines and being in turn operated by power supplied by the other machines. That the body should perform its great amount of external work by means of energy generated by its own internal work is impossible; the claim that it does so is an absurdity. The functional actions of the viscera do not generate energy; they absorb energy. It uses up power to spade up the earth in the garden; and the heart and stomach cannot generate power to operate themselves, without a sufficient surplus to spade up the garden also. It is, I repeat, an absurd denial of all known chemical and mechanical principles to assert that the body works by means of energy generated by its own functional action. As well claim that a man can lift himself by his boot straps.
Power is stored in the brain during sleep, and is probably transmitted to the muscles and organs over the nerves in a manner similar to the transmission of electrical energy over a trolley wire; and there is no evidence that this power comes from our food at all. Food does not "strengthen" us; there is no such thing as a "strengthening" food. We need food to furnish the tissue elements, not to supply power; and every mouthful we eat in excess of the actual need weakens us and tends to shorten our lives. Most people expend more than half of their total life-force in the disposition of unnecessary food; if we only ate from one-tenth to one-half of what we now consume most of us would die of old age, and the average of life in the next generation would probably be beyond the century mark. This shocks you, doesn't it? Well, it is hard, scientific fact; I am just trying to write it in plain, common sense words.
But, you say, do not we feel more strength after eating?
Yes, but not after digesting our food. If strength comes from the assimilation of food it can only be after the food is completely digested; a partially digested mass in the stomach certainly cannot yield any work-power. Now, it takes some hours, at least, to complete the process of assimilation; but the accession of strength is always felt immediately after swallowing the food. You are tired and weak; you swallow a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, and you rise and go to work refreshed; it has "strengthened" you, you say. But it has not; if you will pause to think you will see that your fresh strength cannot have come from the food, which has not had time to be changed at all; it is coffee and toast in your stomach, and will be, for some time; how can it strengthen you before it is digested? And three or four hours hence, when it is digested, you will be as weak as ever. If we get our energy from food, is it before or after we digest it?
You are stronger right after your noon-day meal, but at five p. m., when the food is digested, you are all tired out; and with all your eating you suffer a steady decline in power from the time you emerge from unconsciousness in the morning until you return to it at night. The accession of strength you felt after taking the coffee and toast did not come from the food; it was from the rally nature made, summoning her power to the task of disposing of the food. She drew on the brain for an extra supply of its stored-up energy to perform the work of digestion, and as this power was turned on you felt it throughout the body; but the power came from the brain, and not from the stomach.
We do not live by bread alone; we do not really live by bread at all. Beefsteak and potatoes are not the raw materials from which life and mind are made. The old physiology is controverted by the law of conservation of energy.
So much for our first proposition: now for the second:
Most muscle workers would be stronger, healthier and longer lived on one-half, and most brain workers on one-tenth of the food they now consume.
Since Dr. Dewey's books were published some hundreds of thousands of people have adopted the no-breakfast plan, going entirely without food until noon; and nearly all of them have found, to their astonishment, that they were stronger, brighter, and had more work-power without the breakfast than with it. And the exceptions are nearly always those who cannot grasp the idea that the possession of strength does not depend on keeping the stomach full.
This is the philosophy of the no-breakfast plan: You awake with the brain fully charged with work-power, and your blood contains the tissue elements of the previous day's food; you are, therefore in the best possible condition for work. Why should you eat? It takes power to run the stomach; why not save the power for your other work? You are not really hungry; there is no such thing as a normal hunger on arising in the morning, in a person who has been sufficiently fed on the previous day. Your morning appetite is a matter of habit; of mental attitude. You eat because you are afraid you will get faint later in the day; or you tickle your palate with sweet foods until you arouse a taste for more; but you never eat breakfast because you are genuinely hungry.
If you do not believe all this, put it to the best possible test; try it on yourself. Get up and go to work without eating; and if you are in anything approaching a normal condition you will find that you are in better condition for mental or physical labor with an empty stomach than with a full one. Mind, though, much depends upon your mental attitude; remember that many people who believe in the old physiology have starved to death in ten days, while others, better taught, have fasted forty days without much discomfort. If you expect that because your stomach is empty you will have a fainting fit about ten o'clock, the fainting fit will probably come; you will get just about what you look for. On the other hand, if you put the thought of food resolutely aside, and go to your work without fear of any disagreeable consequences you will have a forenoon of such mental cheer, and of such physical vigor as you have seldom experienced; but you will not feel so well after your noon meal. Why? Because you will overeat; you will mistakenly suppose that because you have done without breakfast you must eat enough, and more than enough at noon to make up the deficiency; and during the afternoon so much of your brain's energy will be required at the stomach that you will have very little left for mental or physical work. This ought to convince you that your stomach is a machine which absorbs energy, instead of being a generator for producing it. The object in dispensing with the breakfast is not to increase the quantity consumed at noon but to prevent the waste of energy in the disposition of unnecessary food.
If you want to be strong, and full of snap and vigor, drop your breakfast entirely, leave off half your noon meal and two-thirds of your evening one. Eat just enough to maintain your weight; not a mouthful more. If you can hold your weight on one cracker a day, and you eat two crackers, the disposal of the superfluous one will be a waste of your life force; it will weaken you by just the amount of power required to dispose of it, and if you overeat as a matter of habit the surplus will be a source of danger, disease and premature death.
You don't believe it, do you? Well, it won't cost you a cent to prove it. If you want to have strength for your work, whether mental or physical, get eight hours of sleep every night in a well-ventilated room; eat plain, hearty food, and the smallest quantity which will maintain your weight. If it takes power to run the stomach it is foolish to keep it in operation more than is actually necessary. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep," said St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians about overeating at the Lord's supper. Wise St. Paul!
Most of the dietary conclusions of the pseudo-science of medicine are based on false premises, and are therefore erroneous; and the recovery of most of the sick is greatly hindered by feeding, dosing, and other interference.
Most physicians accept the theory that we can add to the strength of a sick person by inducing them to swallow food; when the fact is that every mouthful is a tax on their strength, and decreases their power of resistance. It takes power to run the stomach. In every case of severe sickness Nature takes away the appetite, because there is no power to spare for the digestive process; she wishes to conserve her energy for combat with the disease. In severe sickness Nature's way is to suspend digestion and let the brain live on the tissues of the body; which can be spared. That is why a sick person loses in weight. If you feed them, and they still lose, it is proof positive that the food is not being assimilated; if it were assimilated there could be no loss in weight. And if you continue to feed under such conditions you may be absolutely certain that you are loading up their system with waste matter which must be eliminated at a fearful cost in vital power. You may lay it down as a general law which is amply proven in practice, that in the absence of appetite the patient who is fed will lose weight and strength more rapidly than the one who is not fed. When the desire for food is absent, and the tongue is heavily coated, it should be interpreted to mean: "Busy; nothing wanted within." It is homicidal folly to feed under such circumstances; the food decays in the alimentary canal, and generates poisons which are dangerous to life. No matter what the books say, it is foolish to feed the sick person whose breath tells in unmistakable language that their digestive tract is already filled with rotting filth. The sick horse will not eat; and it is to be hoped that sick men, women, and children will some day be allowed by their physicians and friends to exercise horse sense.
Nature would have the severely sick person sleep much, and not eat at all; we try to induce them to eat all they can, and we wake them every few minutes to force into their protesting stomach some nauseous or poisonous compound of drugs. Nine-tenths of our interference with the sick has no scientific justification, and is injurious to them. Put the sick person into a well-ventilated room; make them as comfortable as possible; shut out the neighbors, the family, the preacher - everybody but the nurse, and possibly the doctor; in most cases leave the doctor out, too. It would be a great deal better if two-thirds of the doctors had to resort to some other means of making a living; the other third could easily take care of all the cases where they are really needed. Give nature a chance with your sick one; and if they die you may at least feel sure that you did not help to kill them.
The stomach is a machine which uses up power, and is operated by power supplied from the brain, which is charged during sleep. Remember this physiological fact, and regulate your life accordingly; get sleep enough, and get it under favorable conditions, and eat less.
Sleep, that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life;
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.
— SHAKESEARE, "Macbeth"
Chapter 2 - Sleep
He giveth His beloved sleep. — Ps. 127 : 2IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTER we considered some of the arguments for the new physiology, which holds that vital energy is renewed in sleep, and is not generated by the digestion of food. Man is not, as we have been taught to suppose, an engine whose power comes from the combustion of fuel, or food. If he were, he would never need rest or sleep; supplied with food he could keep on eating and working indefinitely, as an engine can work indefinitely if it supplied with coal; whereas no matter how much or how often he eats, we know that he must have frequent lapses into the silence and unconsciousness of sleep in order to recharge his brain with that mysterious energy by which he lives and works.
We find by observation that the fact that vital power is received in sleep is universal with all forms of life. Men, animals, reptiles, fish and insects sleep; and plants sleep also. You will notice that I speak of vital power as being received, not generated; if the law of conservation of energy holds good as applied to the energy displayed by the human body, then the energy of man is received from some source outside himself; for it is a mechanical impossibility for the organism to generate within itself the power to maintain itself, renew itself, and perform external work also. The human body cannot be regarded as being anything but a machine; and since it is found to be impossible for a machine to operate itself, and to do additional work with power generated by its own operation, I am compelled to accept the hypothesis that there is an inflow of life, which is received by all living organisms during sleep. Let me write this again, and call your attention to it for it is the greatest and most important scientific fact that has been given to the world in a century.
There is an inflow of vital power, which is received by all living organisms during sleep.
I do not know where this inflow of life comes from; I do not know whether it results from some combination of other forces or is a force which is eternally self-existent. I am simply stating the facts as I observe them, and giving the inevitable deductions from them; if the facts disprove the theories you have been holding, you will have to readjust your theories to fit the facts. It is a fact that the human body cannot possibly manufacture its own vital power and at the same time be manufactured by its own vital power; and it is a fact that it receives its vital power in sleep; and necessarily, from some source outside itself.
Life comes to us from somewhere; we do not make it; we receive it. I do not say that it is received only in sleep; I do not know but that there are conditions under which we may receive it when awake. Neither do I say that we always receive it directly from the unknown source; there may be individuals who can become so charged with it as to be able to communicate it to others; I do say, however, that no individual has power to create it in themselves; they can only give what they have received, so that ultimately we all receive from the unknown source.
Now, as to the importance of all this. Hold up your finger, and examine it carefully. What made it? It is made of different chemical elements taken from the food you have eaten; but what combined those elements and built them into a finger? Life! You slept, and your brain was charged with power; that power was applied to the stomach and bowels and digested your food; it took the separate elements and emptied them into the blood; your heart, which beats by brain power, forced them along through the arteries until they came to the finger; and vital energy from the brain built them into bone, muscle, nerve and connective tissue. Life built the finger; and nothing but life can make another like it. All the science in the world cannot duplicate it; we may make something which looks very much the same, but it will not be like your finger at all. Be careful, therefore, about the gentleman who tells you that he has a "remedy" which will renew your finger or fix it up all right if there is anything the matter with it. Nothing can repair or renew the finger but the force which created it - vital power. Nothing can make a finger, nothing can mend a broken or injured finger, and nothing can cure a sick finger but life. There is no remedy, and no known force that can unite a broken bone save life only. Nothing ever made a heart beat but life; all the other powers in the world cannot send a single pulse-throb through the arteries of a dead body. No medicine ever made your heart beat, and none ever will; nothing ever made a heart beat but vital power. The force which operates your heart is stored in your brain during sleep. The only manner in which a medicine could make your heart beat would be by causing the vital power to flow from your brain to your heart. I do not say that medicine can or cannot do this; I will touch upon this point again.
What is true of the heart is necessarily true of every other organ of the body; they are all operated by brain-power, and cannot be operated by any other power. We hear certain medicines spoken of as having power to move the bowels; but a little study must convince us that the only power on earth which can move the bowels is that which is stored in the brain. If a medicine causes the bowels to move it must do so by causing the brain to move them; you understand that I do not say that it is impossible for medicine to do this; I simply say that it is impossible that it should be done in any other way. The vital power which is stored in the brain during sleep is the only power capable of producing functional action in any part of the body. Your heart, stomach, liver, kidneys and bowels are not separate and independent machines, operated by different and extraneous powers; they are all parts of one machine, which is run by brain-power; and the brain is charged in sleep.
Now, if there is defective action, or congestion, or inflammation, or pain in any part of the body, the only possible way to effect a cure is by directing the brain-power to the affected part. If a medicine can do this it is of value, provided its benefit be not neutralized by reactionary or other effects. Local applications produce their curative effect in this manner; a mustard plaster cannot increase functional action in the organs over which it is applied, but it is possible that by a chemical effect upon the tissues may cause the brain to turn its power in that direction, and so increase functional action. This is the only theory of medical action which is in accord with the facts; and we must apply it also in explaining the effects of exercise and massage. Neither exercise nor massage can build up a weak part; but either may cause the brain to build it up, by directing its power to it. Mental healing is accomplished in exactly the same way; it is done by consciously and intelligently directing the brain-power by concentration of mind; and it is by far the most scientific and effective method of healing, when not complicated by speculative absurdities which befuddle the mind and prevent direct and positive action.
Now, again, perhaps you do not see the importance of all this. Go back over this chapter, and the preceding one; examine the facts and study the logic of the deductions. You will hardly fail to become convinced that your body is a machine which is operated by power which is stored in your brain during sleep; and that no other agency can heal it, build it up, or keep it well but this brain-power. If you are sick or weak you know now where your cure is to be found; and you are ready to begin to act intelligently.
First, if the power which is to heal you is to be stored in your brain during sleep, you had better study sleep, and learn how to surround yourself with favorable conditions for the charging of your storage battery with power; sleep intelligently, and with a purpose, so as to get the best results. There are laws which govern the process of charging the brain with vital force; some of them are known; enough to enable you to set to work with a reasonable certainty of getting good results.
Second, having learned how to charge your brain with vital power you must learn how to conserve the power; how to keep yourself from throwing it away, and expending it uselessly; and this is more important, perhaps, than you imagine. Most people waste at least half their vital power.
Third, you will need to learn how to turn this force to the part where it is most needed; and this involves the consideration of all medicines, treatments, exercises, and mental processes.
What we need above all else is to be scientific in our methods of arriving at conclusions. We must avoid speculation, and fanciful theories based on the supposed need for retaining old medical or religious dogmas, and stick to the facts and to the deductions which are the inevitable corollary of the facts. If the facts do not accord with the teaching of the doctor and the physiological authorities, we will have to disbelieve the doctor and the authorities, and accept the facts; and if the facts disagree with the dogmas of the preacher we will have to ask the preacher to revise his dogmas; we must keep to the facts. And here, again, are some of the facts, and some of the things which the facts prove:
In death by starvation the brain loses no weight, but is nourished at the expense of the other tissues of the body. Death does not come so long as there are other tissues available for the brain to feed upon. This proves that the brain, not the stomach is the alpha - the center of vital power. The structure of the body goes to prove that the brain is the power-plant; the afferent nerves carrying sensation in, and the efferent ones carrying power out. It is an absurdity to suppose that muscular power is generated by the muscles themselves; it is far more reasonable to assume that power is transmitted to them over the nerves in a manner similar to the transmission of power over an electric wire.
The strength of the body is not drawn from food; because:
(a) It would be impossible to extract the amount of energy displayed by the body from the quantity of food consumed;
(b) Work-power does not increase in proportion to the quantity of food digested;
(c) If work-power came from food we would not be obliged to sleep for the purpose of renewing our strength; and
(d) The digestion of food is work in itself, and requires the expenditure of power; it cannot, therefore, be done with power drawn from its own processes. Work cannot do itself with power furnished by itself. It is a manifest impossibility that the body should work with energy manufactured by its own internal processes, which are themselves a part of its work, and consume its power.
Lastly, we see that every living thing goes regularly to sleep, and wakes with renewed energy.
From all this we deduce:
That the external work of the human organism is done, and its internal processes carried on by means of a vital energy which is accumulated in the brain during sleep.
That this vital energy is the only power by which the body may be healed, repaired, renewed or maintained.
"Were I to adopt a pet idea as so many people do, and fondle it in my embraces to the exclusion of all others, it would be, that the great want which mankind labors under at this present period is sleep. The world should recline its vast head on the first convenient pillow and take an age-long nap. It has gone distracted through a morbid activity, and while preternaturally wide awake, is nevertheless tormented by visions that seem real to it now, but would assume their true aspect and character were all things once set right by an interval of soul repose." — HAWTHORNE, "Mosses from an Old Manse"
"The mind grows wiser by watching, but her sister, the body, of coarser materials, need the support of repose. " — SCOTT, "Talisman"