We finish with a note on the metaphysical conception of illness and consideration of their etiological factors. Illness marks some imperfection or weakness or else opening to adverse touches in the physical nature and is often connected also with some obscurity or disharmony in the lower vital or the physical mind or elsewhere. Illness is a deformation of the physical nature just as lust, anger, jealousy etc. are deformations of the vital nature; error, prejudice and indulgence of falsehood are deformation of the mental nature.
Thus the origin of the illness may be in the mind; it may be in the vital; it may be in any one of parts of the being. One and the same illness may be due to a variety of causes, it may spring in different cases from different sources of disharmony. But to whatever an illness may be due, material or mental, external or internal, it must before it can affect the physical body, touch and pass through another layer of the being that surrounds and protects it. This subtle layer is called in different teachings by various names viz., the etheric body, the nervous envelope.
It is subtle and yet almost visible. All communications with the exterior world are made through this medium and it is this that must be invaded and penetrated first before the body can be affected. if this envelope be strong and intact one can go into places infested with the worst of diseases e.g. cholera, plague etc., and remain quite immune. It is a perfect protection against all possible attacks of illness, so long as it is whole and entire, thoroughly consistent in its composition, its elements in faultless balance.
This body is built up, on the one side of a material basis, but rather of material conditions than of physical matter, on the other, of vibrations of our psychological states. Peace and equanimity and confidence, faith in health, undisturbed repose and cheerfulness and bright gladness constitute this element in it and give it strength and substance.
As regards the etiological factors of all the diseases that human flesh is heir to, we are forced to conclude that they comprise both exogenous and endogenous components. The most balanced views regarding the subject are presented by the Ayurvedic school of thought which are as follows:
(1) Asathmendriyartha Samyoga i.e. Incompatible correlation of Indriyas (Senses) with their Artha (objects.)
All external objects that can invade our bodies and cause diseases – whether they be physical agents, chemical substances, microbes, parasites or any other can enter our bodies in only five ways through the channels of our five senses, and each of their five ways or modes of entry may exhibit three variations from the standpoint of their capacity to cause diseases viz. variations from natural by way of excess (Atiyoga), defect (Heenayoga) or qualitative change (Mithyayoga.)
The phenomena coming under this category are classified under three heads viz., Shariram (relating to body), Manasam (relating to mind) and Vachicum (relating to speech); and these become causes of disease when faulty understanding causes excessive, defective or perverted correlations of such phenomena (Atiyoga, Heenayoga and Mithyayoga) resulting in abnormality of Dhatu (Tissue) balance.
(3) Parinama also known as kala.
This is quite a technical word and has reference to seasonal and other phenomena governed by the time factor (kala). If, by excess, defect or perversion they become abnormal, then, they may cause disease, by way of causing Dosha – vaishamya. Thus ill – health may be caused by such agencies as abnormally severe or mild seasons, the prevalence of winter conditions during summer or of rain during the non – rainy season and so on. This category also includes karmic causes which are stated to cause manifestation of disease at the time of Karma – Vipaka – the time when Karmic seeds become mature or ripened by Parinama.
(4) Guna – Vaishmya. (Abnormality in the equilibrium of the Gunas).
This category has reference to “Mental Doshas”.
Thus Ayurveda also maintains that it is when the bodily constitution was undermined by the non – observance of the Laws of Health such as Ritucharya, Dinacharya, Brahmacharya and Mithya Ahara and Vihara that the khetra (soil) becomes suitable for the growth of germ – seeds which were powerless to do any mischief in the case of those persons who lead pure and healthy lives because the soil was unsuitable for the germination and growth of the seed.
Regarding the present trend in Modern Medicine Lin Byod writes thus in his book “The Simile in Medicine” – Medicine is just in the process of recovering from enthusiasm of the school of bacteriology which saw in bacteria the sole cause of infectious diseases. Medicine is now entering the throes of constitutional school of medicine which perceives in bacteria only one cause of infectious diseases and recognises the constitution and disposition of the patient as equally important factors.
These papers were published as Editorial in Hahnemann Gleanings and were read before the Bengal Homoeopathic Institute, Calcutta.