Hatha Yoga teaches that the physical body is built up of cells, each cell containing within it a miniature “life” which controls its action. These “lives” are really bits of intelligent mind of a certain degree of development, which enable the cells to do their work properly.
These bits of intelligence are, of course, subordinate to the control of the central mind of man, and readily obey orders given from headquarters, consciously or unconsciously. These cell intelligences manifest a perfect adaption for their particular work. The selective action of the cells, extracting from the blood the nourishment required, and rejecting that which is not needed is an instance of this intelligence. The process of digestion, assimilation, etc., shows the intelligence of the cells, either separately or collectively, in groups. The healing of wounds, the rush of the cells to the points where they are most needed, and hundreds of other examples known to the investigators, all mean to the Yogi student examples of the “life” within each atom. Each atom is to the Yogi a living thing, leading its own independent life. These atoms combine into groups for some end, and the groups manifest a group-intelligence, so long as it remains a group; these groups again combining in turn, and forming bodies of a more complex nature, which serve as vehicles for higher forms of consciousness.
When death comes to the physical body, the cells separate and scatter and that which we call decay sets in. The force which has held the cells together is withdrawn, and they become free to go their own way and to form new combinations. Some go into the body of the plants in the vicinity, and eventually find them-selves in the body of an animal; others remain in the organism of the plant; others remain in the ground for a time, but the life of the atom means incessant and constant change. As a leading writer has said:
“Death is but an aspect of life, and the destruction of one material form is but a prelude to the building up of another.” We will give our students a brief idea of the nature and work of this cell-life-the life of these little lives of the body.
The cells of the body have three principles: (1) Matter, which they obtain from the food; (2) Prana, or vital force, which enables them to manifest action, and which is obtained from the food we eat; the water we drink and the air we breathe; (3) Intelligence, or “mind-stuff,” which is obtained from the Universal Mind. We will first take up the material side of cell-life.
As we have said, every living body is a collection of minute cells. This is, of course, true of every part of the body, from the hard bone to the softest tissueâ€”from the enamel of the tooth to the most delicate part of the mucous membrane. These cells have different shapes, which are regulated by the requirements of its particular office, or work. Each cell is, to all intents and purposes, an individual, separate and more Or less independent, although subject to the control of cell-group mind; large group commands; and, finally to the central mind of the man, the controlling work, or at least the greater part of it, coming within the control of the Instinctive Mind.
These cells are constantly at work, performing all the duties of the body, each having its own particular work to doâ€”and doing it to the best of its ability. Some of the cells belong to the “reserves” and are kept under “waiting orders” ready for some sudden demand of duty. Others belong to the army of active workers of the cell-community and manufacture the secretions and fluids needed in the varied work of the system. Some of the cells are stationaryâ€”others remain so until needed, when they manifest motion-others are constantly on the move, some making regular trips and some being rovers. Of these moving cells some perform the work of carriers, some move from place to place doing odd jobs, and others do scavenger work, and still another class belong to the police force, or army, of the cell-community. Cell-life in the body may be compared to a large colony, operated on a cooperative plan, each cell having its own work to do for the common good, each working for all, and all working for the common welfare. The cells of the nervous system carry messages from one part of the body to the brain and from the brain to another part of the body, being living telegraph wires, as the nerves are composed of minute cells in close contact with each other, having small projections which are in contact with similar projections from other cells, so that they are practically holding hands and forming a chain, along which passes the Prana.
Of the carriers, moving workers, policemen, soldiers, etc., of the cell-community there are millions upon millions in each human body, it being estimated that there are in one cubic inch of blood at least 75,000,000,000 (seventy-five thousand million) of the red-blood cells alone, not to speak of the other cells. The community is a large one.
The red-blood cells, which are the common carriers of the body, float in the arteries and veins, taking up a load of oxygen from the lungs and carrying it to the various tissues of the body, giving life and strength to the parts. On the return journey through the veins they carry with them the waste products of the system, which are then thrown off by the lungs, etc. Like a merchant vessel these cells carry a cargo on their outgoing trip and bring a second cargo on their return trip. Other cells force their way through the walls of the arteries and veins and through the tissues on their errand of repair work, etc., upon which they have been sent.
Besides the red-blood cells, or carriers, there are several other kinds of cells in the blood. Among the most interesting of these are the policemen and soldiers of the cell-community. The work of these cells is to protect the system from germs, bacteria, etc., which might cause trouble or disease. When one of these policemen comes in contact with an intruding germ the police cell enmeshes it and then proceeds to devour it, if it be not too largeâ€”if it be too large for him to get away with he summons other cells to his assistance, when the combined force gather around the enemy and carry it to some point of the body where it may be thrown out. Boils, pimples, etc., are instances of the throwing out of some intruding enemy or enemies by these policemen of the system.
There is much work for the red-blood cells to do.They carry the oxygen to the parts of the body; they push along the nourishment obtained from the food to the parts of the body where it is needed to build up and repair; they extract from the nourishment just the elements needed to manufacture gastric juice, saliva, pancreatic juices, bile, milk, etc., etc., and then combine them in the proper proportions for use. They do a thousand and one things and are busy continuously like a lot of ants in and around an anthill. The Oriental teachers have long known and taught of the existence and work of these “little lives,” but it has remained for Western science to dig into the subject in such a way as to bring to light the details of their work.
Cells are being born and cells are dying every moment of our existence. Cells reproduce themselves by enlarging and subdividing, the original cell swelling until it finally forms two parts with a small connecting “waist”; then the connection parts and there are two independent cells instead of one. The new cell in turn divides itself up, and so on.
Cells enable the body to carry on its work of continual regeneration. Every part of the human body is undergoing a constant change and tissues are being continually renewed. Our skin, bones, hair, muscles, etc., are constantly being repaired and “made over.” It takes about four months to replace our finger nails-about four weeks to replace our skin. Every part of our bodies is being worn out and renewed and repaired constantly. And these little workmenâ€”the cellsâ€”are the agency performing this wonderful task. Millions of these little workers are ever moving along or working in a fixed position in all parts of our bodies, renewing the wornout tissues and replacing them with new material and throwing out of the system the wornout and injurious particles of matter.
In the lower animals Nature allows the Instinctive Mind a fuller scope and a larger field, and as life ascends in the scale, developing the reasoning faculties, the Instinctive Mind seems. to narrow its field. For instance, crabs and members of the spider family are able to grow new feeders, legs, claws, etc. Snails are able to grow even parts of the head, including eyes which have been destroyed; some fishes are able to regrow tails. Salamanders and lizards are able to grow new tails, including bones, muscle and parts of the spinal column. The very lowest forms of animal life have practically an unlimited power of restoring lost parts and can practically make themselves entirely over, provided there is left the smallest part of them to build upon. The higher form of animals have lost much of this recuperative power and man has lost more than any of them owing to his mode of living. Some of the more advanced of the Hatha Yogis, however, have performed some wonderful results along these lines, and any one, with patient practice, may obtain such control of the Instinctive Mind and the cells under its control that he may obtain wonderful recuperative results in the direction of renewing diseased parts and weakened portions of the body.
But even ordinary man still possesses a wonderful degree of recuperative power, which is constantly being manifested, although the average man pays no attention to it. Let us take the healing of a wound for example. Let us see how it is performed. It is well worth your consideration and study. It is so common that we are apt to overlook it, and yet so wonderful as to cause the student to realize the greatness of the intelligence displayed and called into force in the work.
Let us suppose that a human body is woundedâ€”that is, cut or torn by some outside agency. The tissues, lymphatic and blood vessels, glands, muscles, nerves, and sometimes even the bone, is severed, and the continuity interrupted. The wound bleeds, gapes and causes pain. The nerves carry the message to the brain, calling loudly for immediate help, and the Instinctive Mind sends messages here and there in the body, calling out a sufficient force of repair workmen, who are hurried to the scene of danger. In the meantime the blood pouring from the injured blood vessels washes away, or at least tries to wash away, the foreign substances that have entered the organism, such as dirt, bacteria, etc., which would act as poisons if allowed to remain. The blood, coming in contact with the outside air, coagulates and forms a sticky sort of substance, somewhat resembling glue, and forms the beginning of the coming crust or scab. The millions of blood cells whose duty it is to do the repair work arrive on the scene on the “double-quick” and at once begin to again connect the tissues, displaying the most wonderful intelligence and activity in their work. The cells of the tissues, nerves, blood vessels, on both sides of the wound, begin to increase and multiply, bringing into being millions of new cells, which, advancing from both sides, finally meet in the center of the wound. This forming of new cells bears all the appearance of a disorderly, purposeless effort, but in a short time the hand of the commanding intelligence and of its subordinate centers of influence begins to show itself. The new cells of the blood vessels connect with the same kind of cells on the opposite side of the wound, forming new tubes through which the blood may flow. The cells of what is known as the “connective tissue” unite with others of their kind and draw together the wound. New nerve cells form on each of the severed ends, and, sending out filaments, gradually repair the broken wires, until at last the message passes again without interruption. After all this “inside” work is completed and blood vessel, nerve and connective tissue are fully repaired, the cells of the skin start in to finish the task, and new epidermis cells spring into existence and new skin is formed over the wound, which has healed by that time. All orderly, showing discipline and intelligence. The healing of a woundâ€”apparently so simpleâ€”brings the careful observer face to face with the Intelligence which pervades all of Natureâ€”lets him see Creation in active operation. Nature is ever willing to draw aside the veil and allow us to peep a little into the sacred chamber beyond; but we poor ignorant creatures heed not her invitation, but pass by unheeding and waste our mind force on silly things and hurtful pursuits.
So much for the work of the cell. The cell-mind is supplied from the Universal Mindâ€”the great storehouse of “mind-stuff”â€”and is kept in touch and directed by the mind of the cell-centers, which are in turn controlled by higher centers, until the central Instinctive Mind is reached. But the cell-mind is not able to express itself without both of two other principlesâ€”matter and prana. It needs the fresh material supplied by the well-digested food, in order to make for itself a medium of expression. It also needs a supply of prana, or vi[al force, in order to move and have action. The triune principle of Lifeâ€”mind, matter and force-is necessary in the cell as in the man. Mind needs force or energy (prana) in order to manifest itself in action through matter. As in great things so in smallâ€”as above so below.
In our previous chapters we have spoken of the digestion and of the importance of giving the blood a goodly supply of nourishing, well-digested food, in order that it might properly perform its work of re-pairing and building up the parts of the body. In this chapter we have shown you how the cells use the material in order to do the building-how they use the material to build up themselves, and then how they build themselves in the body. Remember, the cells, which are used as building bricks, surround themselves with the material obtained from the food, making themselves bodies, as it were; then take up a supply of prana or vital energy and are then carried or pushed to where they are needed, where they build themselves, and are built up into new tissue, bone, muscle, etc. Without proper material with which to form themselves bodies these cells cannot carry out their mission; in fact, cannot exist. Persons who have allowed themâ€”elves to “run down” and who are suffering from imperfect nutrition have not nearly the normal amount of blood-cells and are consequently unable to have the work of the system properly carried on. The cells must have material with which to make bodies, and there is only one way in which they can receive this material-by means of nourishment in the food. And unless there is sufficient prana in the system these cells cannot manifest sufficient energy to do their work and lack of vitality is manifested throughout the whole system.
Sometimes the Instinctive Mind is so badgered and brow-beaten by the Intellect of Man that it takes on the absurd notions and fears of the latter and fails to perform its accustomed work properly, and the cells are not properly generaled. In such cases, when the Intellect once grasps the true idea, it seeks to repair its past mistakes and begins to reassure the Instinctive Mind that it understands its duties thoroughly and will be allowed to govern its own kingdom hereafter, and this is followed up with words of encouragement and praise and confidence until the Instinctive Mind recovers its equilibrium and again manages its own household. Sometimes the Instinctive Mind has been so influenced by the previous adverse notions of its owner, or by those of outsiders, that it is so confused that it takes it a long time to recover its normal poise and control. And in such cases it often seems that some of the subordinate cell-centers have practically rebelled and refuse to again submit to dictation from headquarters. In both of these cases the determined commands of the will are needed to bring about peace and order and proper work in all parts of the body. Remember that there is some form of Intelligence in every organ and part and a good strong command from the Will will generally bring about an improvement in abnormal conditions.