There is a strange form of egotism in mankind, which seeks expression in a desire of possession of things and objects for their own sake - even if the realization of this desire threatens with disaster and ruin.
In our relation to the use of food, and the act of eating, this fact is especially eminent. For there is a law in life, as inviolable and invincible as the law of gravity - that a possession for which we have no need, becomes a burden. Hence, eating, to be conducive to health and strength, must have its motive in usefulness and service, and its fundamental basis in necessity.
From this it follows that any vegetative act which has not its urge and condition in conscious necessity, lacks harmony and cooperation with the sweep of evolution - which means isolation from true growth and progress. Every ounce of nourishment we take into our system, not prompted by the spirit of usefulness, or in response to positive nu tritional needs, is turned into systemic poisons and their inevitable cellular break-down into enforced eliminations. These eliminations arise from a double necessity; partly because the poisons must be removed from the system to admit the play of organized life, and partly because the excess of nourishment represented by the poisons, is appropriated, physiologically illegitimate, from other systems or organizations of growth. For the rule of evolution is expressed in terms of elemental justice, which, when concretely applied, means balance, equity, harmony, growth and power - energized and adjusted by the driving force of necessity. The universe has limitless supply for every true need, but not an ounce for useless possession. Economy is the spirit of evolution, the condition of growth, and the key to power; and to disregard this principle in our daily mode of living, invokes the life-dissolving forces of weakness, disease and suffering. For what is disease but wrong proprietorship, perverted economy, in which the sufferer either tries to use up something to which he has no individual rights, or fails to utilize and develop something with which he has been evolutionally and biologically trusted. In the former case, the individual is of the egotistic type, with his entire nature absorbed in his own growth, intent on the appropriation of every object of his desire, regardless of the vital proprietorship of others; while in the latter, he fails to assert his own legitimate, evolutionary and constitutional rights, exposing himself to the life-sapping, self-decentralizing influence of alien, egoistical forces.
For it is the balancing action between the assets and liabilities of the mental, moral and physical universe, as related to individual, evolutionary rights, that is expressed in the personal aspects of good and evil, death and suffering, unfoldment and degeneracy. This means that whenever an individual has appropriated more food than the metabolic exchange of his system demand, he inflicts upon himself the inconveniences and sufferings, that inevitably spring from excess in food and drink. In the sluggish system where the centrifugal forces of elimination are too feeble to throw off the excess, the unused waste-deposits condense and crystalize in the joints and flexures of the body, where the circulation is slow, and readily degenerates into forms of rheumatism, gout, neuralgia, hardening of the liver and arteries, etc. On the other hand, if the individual has the nervous temperament, with eliminative powers strong enough to dislodge, at the eventual crisis, the result of long periods of waste-accumulation - the disease may assume the acute type of elimination as manifested in pneumonia, typhoid, cancer, boils, ulcers or any inflamatory febrile waste-removal. In either form of disease, the presence of excess of nourishment is clearly demonstrated: the presence of supply beyond the need, and the power of digestion below the power of elimination.
Back of the entire process of physiological morbidity lies the desire of the individual to possess and enjoy the things of life for the mere sake of personal power and self-gratification. For in assuming this attitude, the individual violates the laws of his own being, and in the very strain of his self-interest, isolates himself from the source of his own eternal existence, and from all the forces that make for health, power and preservation. In other words, in place of rendering himself receptive to the cosmic urge, and plastic to its creative force-currents - with the subsequent benefit of a perpetual rejuvenation through its purifying drainage and reconstruction of his moral, physical as well as psychic nature - the self-consumed individual compels the life-stream to terminate in himself, and by its stagnation harden and congest his nature into mental sterility and premature old age. Or in the words of the great world philosopher of Nazareth: "he who saves his life shall lose it, while he who gives it shall win it everlastingly."
Thus the indulgence of the glutton entails the consequence of a double transgression or double guilt; the destruction of his own self, and the subsequent infringement on the wel fare of other selves. For in a perfectly balanced universe, the excess of one of its parts must necessarily result in the deprivation of others. And furthermore, as the balance of nature can remain disturbed, no matter how minute, only during the lapse of a certain cycle of time - a movement is started in the very process of the individual transgression, by which in the form of physiological derangement, the system of the trangressor is compelled to yield up, grain by grain, under the travail of disease and suffering, the very things he usurped from the elemental storages. And this is the personal atonement awaiting every transgressor; the inevitable condition for the restoration of the broken world-harmony, or final return, through the dissolving personality of the transgressor, of the parts and elements required for the wholeness and completeness of integral universal life.
This fact holds strongly before us the futility and danger of a life spent solely for oneself. It has been brought home to our consciousness that we can retain and profit only by that which is vitally and fundamentally due to us, and that any true advantage in health and power, derivable from life, has its sole basis and possibility in our evolutionary merit and desert. For the same necessity which compels the individual to reap what he has sown, also keeps him from reaping what others, but not he, have sown. Our relation to nature and to life, is entirely based on the principle of steward-ship: personally we have no permanent possession. Personal proprietorship has its sole fact and permanence in universal proprietorship, and arises in our effort to love our neighbor, not only as ourselves, but in ourselves. Life, like water, retains its purity only by unceasing exchange. In either case isolation means stagnation; and the egoist, who lives for himself only, faces constitutional degeneracy and decay.
The lesson taught by the science of life and the philosophy of living, is revolutionary in its very simplicity and reasonableness. Religion and morality have no greater support than in the natural science, undogmatically applied. It uncovers the paths that lead from guilt to punishment, from selfishness to suffering; while at the same time it justifies nature to the sufferer as she proceeds with relentless energy, through the agency of disease, to remove the reeking, decomposing, tissue-corroding, self-generated waste poisons from the system. We become convinced that nature, always kind, always helpful and restorative, in her very destructiveness carries the possibility and ideal of resuscitation and salvation. It is in spite of nature that we succumb to her processes of vital restoration; while death marks the failure of the individual to "make good" his part of the program. For what is death but the lack of systemic nerve-power to sustain a coherent functional reaction to nature's vital excavation and elimination of a self-imposed physiological breakdown. The majority of deaths are practically suicidal, and if occurring prior to the age of 90 or 100 years, are contrary to every law and principle of a progressive, health-and-strength promotive evolution.