It is through the instrumentality or the agency of thought that the Life, the Self, uses, and manifests through, the body. Again, while it is true that the food that is taken and assimilated nourishes, sustains and builds the body, it is also true that the condition and the operation of the mind through the avenue of thought determines into what shape or form the body is so builded. So in this sense it is true that mind builds body; it is the agency, the force that determines the shaping of the material elements.
Here is a wall being built. Bricks are the material used in its construction. We do not say that the bricks are building the wall; we say that the mason is building it, as is the case. He is using the material that is supplied him, in this case bricks, giving form and structure in a definite, methodical manner. Again, back of the mason is his mind, acting through the channel of his thought, that is directing his hands and all his movements. Without this guiding, directing force no wall could take shape, even if millions of bricks were delivered upon the scene.
So it is with the body. We take the food, the water, we breathe the air; but this is all and always acted upon by a higher force. Thus it is that mind builds body, the same as in every department of our being it is the great builder. Our thoughts shape and determine our features, our walk, the posture of our bodies, our voices; they determine the effectiveness of our mental and our physical activities, as well as all our relations with and influence or effects upon others.
You say: " I admit the operation of and even in certain cases the power of thought, also that at times it has an influence upon our general feelings, but I do not admit that it can have any direct influence upon the body." Here is one who has allowed herself to be long given to grief, abnormally so- notice her lowered physical condition, her lack of vitality. The New York papers within the past twelve months recorded the case of a young lady in New Jersey who, from constant grieving over the death of her mother, died, fell dead, within a week.
A man is handed a telegram. He is eating and enjoying his dinner. He reads the contents of the message. Almost immediately afterward, his body is a-tremble, his face either reddens or grows " ashy white," his appetite is gone; such is the effect of the mind upon the stomach that it literally refuses the food; if forced upon it, it may reject it entirely.
A message is delivered to a lady. She is in a genial, happy mood. Her face whitens; she trembles and her body falls to the ground in a faint, temporarily helpless, apparently lifeless. Such are the intimate relations between the mind and the body. Raise a cry of fire in a crowded theatre. It may be a false alarm. There are among the audience those who become seemingly palsied, powerless to move. It is the state of the mind, and within several seconds, that has determined the state of these bodies. Such are examples of the wonderfully quick influence of the mind on the body.
Great stress, or anxiety, or fear, may in two weeks' or even in two days' time so work its ravages that the person looks ten years or even twenty years older. A person has been long given to worry, or perhaps to worry in extreme form though not so long- a well-defined case of indigestion and general stomach trouble, with a generally lowered and sluggish vitality, has become pronounced and fixed.
Any type of thought that prevails in our mental lives will in time produce its correspondences in our physical lives. As we understand better these laws of correspondences, we will be more careful as to the types of thoughts and emotions we consciously, or unwittingly, entertain and live with. The great bulk of all diseases, we will find, as we are continually finding more and more, are in the mind before being in the body, or are generated in the body through certain states and conditions of mind.
The present state and condition of the body have been produced primarily by the thoughts that have been taken by the conscious mind into the subconscious, that is so intimately related to and that directs all the subconscious and involuntary functions of the body. Says one: It may be true that the mind has had certain effects upon the body; but to be able consciously to affect the body through the mind is impossible and even unthinkable, for the body is a solid, fixed, material form.
We must get over the idea, as we quickly will, if we study into the matter, that the body, in fact anything that we call material and solid, is really solid. Even in the case of a piece of material as " solid " as a bar of steel, the atoms forming the molecules are in continual action each in conjunction with its neighbour. In the last analysis the body is composed of cells- cells of bone, vital organ, flesh, sinew. In the body the cells are continually changing, forming and reforming. Death would quickly take place were this not true. Nature is giving us a new body practically every year.
There are very few elements, cells, in the body of today that were there a year ago. The rapidity with which a cut or wound on the body is replaced by healthy tissue, the rapidity with which it heals, is an illustration of this. One " touches " himself in shaving. In a week, sometimes in less than a week, if the blood and the cell structure be particularly healthy, there is no trace of the cut, the formation of new cell tissue has completely repaired it. Through the formation of new cell structure the life-force within, acting through the blood, is able to rebuild and repair, if not too much interfered with, very rapidly. The reason, we may say almost the sole reason, that surgery has made such great advances during the past few years, so much greater correspondingly than medicine, is on account of a knowledge of the importance of and the use of antiseptics- keeping the wound clean and entirely free from all extraneous matter.
- So then, the greater portion of the body is really new, therefore young, in that it is almost entirely this year's growth. Newness of form is continually being produced in the body by virtue of this process of perpetual renewal that is continually going on, and the new cells and tissues are just as new as is the new leaf that comes forth in the springtime to take the place of and to perform the same functions as the one that was thrown off by the tree last autumn.
The skin renews itself through the casting off of used cells (those that have already performed their functions) most rapidly, taking but a few weeks. The muscles, the vital organs, the entire arterial system, the brain and the nervous system all take longer, but all are practically renewed within a year, some in much less time. Then comes the bony structure, taking the longest, varying, we are told, from seven and eight months to a year, in unusual cases fourteen months and longer.
It is, then, through this process of cell formation that the physical body has been built up, and through the same process that it is continually renewing itself. It is not therefore at any time or at any age a solid fixed mass or material, but a structure in a continually changing fluid form. It is therefore easy to see how we have it in our power, when we are once awake to the relations between the conscious mind and the subconscious- and it in turn in its relations to the various involuntary and vital functions of the body- to determine to a great extent how the body shall be built or how it shall be rebuilt.
Mentally to live in any state or attitude of mind is to take that state or condition into the subconscious. The subconscious mind does and always will produce in the body after its own kind. It is through this law that we externalise and become in body what we live in our minds. If we have predominating visions of and harbour thoughts of old age and weakness, this state, with all its attendant circumstances, will become externalised in our bodies far more quickly than if we entertain thoughts and visions of a different type. Said Archdeacon Wilberforce in a notable address in Westminster Abbey some time ago: " The recent researches of scientific men, endorsed by experiments in the Salpetriere in Paris, have drawn attention to the intensely creative power of suggestions made by the conscious mind to the subconscious mind."