Many people make the mistake of considering Disease as an entityâ€”a real thingâ€”an opponent of Health. This is incorrect. Health is the natural state of Man, and Disease is simply the absence of Health. If one can comply with the laws of Nature he cannot be sick. When some law is violated, abnormal conditions result, and certain symptoms manifest them-selves, and to which symptoms we give the name of some disease. That which we call Disease is simply the result of Nature’s attempt to throw off, or dislodge, the abnormal condition, in order to resume normal action.
We are so apt to consider, and speak of, Disease as an entity. We say that “it” attacks usâ€”that “it” seats itself in an organâ€”that it runs it’s [sic] courseâ€”that “it” is very malignantâ€”that “it” is quite mildâ€”that “it” persistently resists all treatmentâ€”that “it” yields readilyâ€”etc., etc. We speak of it as if it were an entity possessed of character, disposition and vital qualities. We consider it as something which takes possession of us and uses its power for our destruction. We speak of it as we would a wolf in a sheepfoldâ€”a weasel in the chicken roost-a rat in the graneryâ€”and go about fighting it as we would one of the animals above mentioned. We seek to kill it, or at least to scare it away.
Nature is not fickle or unreliable. Life manifests itself within the body in pursuance to well established laws, and pursues its way, slowly, rising until it reaches its zenith, then gradually going down the decline until the time comes for the body to be thrown off like an old, well-used garment, when the soul steps out on its mission of further development. Nature never intended that a man should part with his body until a ripe old age was attained, and the Yogis know that if Nature’s laws are observed from childhood, the death of a young or middle age person from disease would be as rare as is death from accident.
There is within every physical body, a certain vital force which is constantly doing the best it can for us, notwithstanding the reckless way in which we violate the cardinal principles of right living. Much of that which we call disease is but a defensive action of this vital force-a remedial effect. It is not a downward action but an upward action on the part of the living organism. The action is abnormal, because the conditions are abnormal, and the whole recuperative effort of the vital force is exerted toward the restoration of normal conditions.
The first great principle of the Vital Force is self-preservation . This principle is ever in evidence, wherever life exists. Under its action the male and female are attractedâ€”the embryo and infant are provided with nourishmentâ€”the mother is caused to bear heroically the pains of maternity-the parents are impelled to shelter and protect their offspring under the most adverse circumstancesâ€”Why? Because all this means the instinct of race-preservation.
But the instinct of preservation of individual life is equally strong. “All that a man hath will he give for his life,” saith the writer, and while it is not strictly true of the developed man, it is sufficiently true to use for the purpose of illustrating the principle of self-preservation. And this instinct is not of the Intellect, but is found down among the foundation stones of being. It is an instinct which often overrules Intellect. It makes a man’s legs “run away with him” when he had firmly resolved to stand in a dangerous positionâ€”it causes a shipwrecked man to violate some of the principles of civilization, causing him to kill and eat his comrade and drink his bloodâ€”it has made wild beasts of men in the terrible “Black Hole”â€”and under many and varying conditions it asserts it supremacy. It is working always for lifeâ€”more lifeâ€”for health-more health. And it often makes us sick in order to make us healthier-brings on a disease in order to get rid of some foul matter which our carelessness and folly has allowed to intrude in the system.
This principle of self-preservation on the part of the Vital Force, also moves us along in the direction of health, as surely as does the influence within the magnetic needle make it point due north. We may turn aside, not heeding the impulse, but the urge is always there. The same instinct is within us, which, in the seed, causes it to put forth its little shoot, often moving weights a thousand times heavier than itself, in its effort to get to the sunlight. The same impulse causes the sapling to shoot upward from the ground. The same principle causes roots to spread downward and outward. In each case, although the direction is different, each move is in the right direction. If we are wounded, the Vital Force begins to heal the wound, doing the work with wonderful sagacity and precision. If we break a bone, all that we, or the surgeon may do, is to place the bones into juxtoposition [sic] and keep them there, while the great Vital Force knits the fractured parts together. If we fall, or our muscles or ligaments are torn, all that we can do is to observe certain things in the way of attention, and the Vital Force starts in to do its work, and drawing on the system for the necessary materials, repairs the damage.
All physicians know, and their schools teach, that if a man is in good physical condition, his Vital Force will cause him to recover from almost any condition excepting when the vital organs are destroyed. When the physical system has been allowed to run down, recovery is much more difficult, if, indeed, not impossible, as the efficiency of the Vital Force is impaired and is compelled to work under adverse conditions. But rest assured that it is doing the best it can for you, always, under the existing conditions. If Vital Force cannot do for you all that it aims to do, it will not give up the attempt as hopeless, but will accommodate itself to circumstances and make the best of it. Give it a free hand and it will keep you in perfect healthâ€”restrict it by irrational and unnatural methods of living, and it will still try to pull you through, and will serve you until the end, to the best of its ability, in spite of your ingratitude and stupidity. It will fight for you to the finish.
The principle of accommodation is manifested all through all forms of life. A seed dropped into the crevice of a rock, when it begins to grow either becomes squeezed into the shape of the rock, or, if it be strong enough, splits the rock in twain and attains its normal shape. So, in the case of Man, who manages to live and thrive in all climates, and conditions, the Vital Force has accommodated itself to the varying conditions, and, where it could not split the rock, it sent out the sprout in a somewhat distorted shape, but still alive and hardy.
No organism can become diseased while the proper conditions for health are observed. Health is but life under normal conditions, while disease is life under ah-normal conditions. The conditions which caused a man to grow to a healthy, vigorous manhood are necessary to keep him in health and vigor. Given the right condition, the Vital Force will do its best work, but given imperfect conditions the Vital Force will be able to manifest but imperfectly, and more or less of what we call disease ensues. We are living in a civilization which has forced a more or less unnatural mode of life upon us, and the Vital Force finds it hard to do as well for us as it would like. We do not eat naturally (1 rink naturally; sleep naturally; breathe naturally; or dress naturally. We “have done those things which we ought not to have done, and we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and there is no Health within us “â€”or, we might add, as little health as we can help.
We have dwelt upon the matter of the friendliness of the Vital Force, for the reason that it is a matter usually overlooked by those who have not made a study of it. It forms a part of the Yogi Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, and the Yogis take it largely into consideration in their lives. They know that they have a good friend and a strong ally in the Vital Force, and they allow it to flow freely through them, and try to interfere as little as possible with its operations. They know that the Vital Force is ever awake to their well-being and health, and they repose the greatest confidence in it.
Much of the success of Hatha Yoga consists of methods best calculated to allow the Vital Force to work freely and without hindrance, and its methods and exercises are largely devoted to that end. To clear the track of obstructions, and to give the chariot of the Vital Force the right of way on a smooth clear road, is the aim of the Hatha Yogi. Follow his precepts and it will be well with your body.