Of all the seven principles of man, the physical body is of course the most apparent. It is the lowest in the scale, and is the crudest manifestation of the man. But this does not mean that the physical should be despised or neglected.
On the contrary, it is a most necessary principle for the growth of man in his present stage of development – the temple of the living Spirit – and it should be carefully tended and cared for in order to render it a more perfect instrument. We have but to look around us and see how the physical bodies of different men show the different degrees of development under mental control. It is a duty of each developed man to train his body to the highest degree of perfection in order that it may be used to advantage. The body should be kept in good health and condition and trained to obey the orders of the mind, rather than to rule the mind, as is so often the case.
The care of the body, under the intelligent control of the mind, is an important branch of Yogi philosophy, and is known as “Hatha Yoga.” We are preparing a little textbook upon “Hatha Yoga,” which will soon be ready for the press, that will give the Yogi teachings upon this most important branch of self development. The Yogi philosophy 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 growth, which enable the cells to perform their work properly.
These bits of intelligence are, of course, subordinate to the control of the central mind of the man, and will readily obey orders from headquarters, given either subconsciously or consciously. These cell intelligences manifest a perfect adaptation for their particular work. The selective action of the cells, extracting from the blood the nourishment needed and rejecting that which is not required, 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 student of physiology, 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 group manifests a group-intelligence, as 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 it becomes free to go its own way and form new combinations. Some go into the body of the plants in the vicinity, and eventually find themselves again 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 not devote further space to the consideration of the physical, as that is a subject by itself, and, then, our students are no doubt anxious to be led into subjects with which they are not quite so familiar. So we will leave this first principle and pass on to the second, wishing, however, again to remind the student that the first step in Yogi development consists of the mastery of the physical body and its care and attention. We will have more to say of this subject before we are through with this course.