DEATH IN THE FAST
NO FULLY satisfactory definition in explanation of what is called death in the physical body has ever been given. In conformity with the theory of life, upon which the belief of the author is based, a definition of physical death is offered that, following the tenets of that belief, covers completely for her the phenomenon of the dissolution of the animal body. The theory referred to considers energy, vitality, or life force, as an entity that emanates from a source without the animal organism, and that animates the latter when, with the body as a laboratory, the chemical transformations necessary to life are effected. This means that the expression of energy as exhibited in sentient living organisms is achieved with those organisms functioning merely as means of transmission, as vehicles. While the explanation may be a bit labored, its purport should be clear, and the definition of physical death here offered is this:--when, for one reason or another, the mysterious force which permeates every sentient living body, giving to it motion, sensation, and thought, is prevented entrance to or passage through the organism, what is called death occurs. This definition is not strikingly original, nor is it completely satisfying, but, after all, the sciences have not as yet been able to analyze life nor the sources of life; and the phenomenon of its cessation, or what is called death, is just as much a mystery.
A digression may here be pardoned. Just what is to be after death, apart from what faith may predicate, we do not know. And men should fear only what they know. They should not, like children, be afraid to go to bed in the dark, afraid of things that they imagine. In all that we really know there is nothing about death to frighten us. We know that our bodies go back to the earth. We know that birth and death come alike to all of us. We can remember nothing that occurred before we were born, yet this thought is not fearsome. We know that this universe, in which the earth is but a grain of sand, is managed with marvelous wisdom and justice. We know in consequence that we have no reason to fear injustice, or terror, or torture.
Death in the physical body is to be regarded as having taken place when there is complete stoppage of the functions of the brain and of the organs of respiration and circulation, with sequent cessation of the processes dependent upon these functions. To amplify, death occurs whenever, through disease or shock, the brain, the storage battery of physical and mental life, becomes unable to perform its task of transmitting energy--life force to its points of action or expression, the vital organs of the body. Vital organs cease functioning when there is obstruction or demolition of some portion of the main lines of transmission followed by life force in its passage from the brain. That this may happen by reason of long continued denial of food to the organism is undoubtedly true, but death from the exhaustion of inanition caused by absence of food is most rare in occurrence. On the other hand, in bodies that are continuously supplied with sustenance, exhaustion from lack of nourishment because of disorder of the nutritive functions proves a most usual agent of dissolution. And this is true since this sort of exhaustion, while having its source in the functional disability of the organs of nutrition, eventually succeeds in inhibiting the cells of the brain from acquiring and hence assimilating those substances necessary for their conservation.
In average conditions death results from disease that is functional in character, not organic. In the experience of the author, death during a fast never has occurred when merely functional disorder was present, nor did it ever result for the sole reason that food was withheld. In every instance listed in this chapter, in every instance of death that has happened during the long years of practice upon which this text is based, the cause of dissolution was conclusively shown by post mortem examination to have been the inevitable consequence of obstruction through structural defect of some portion of the avenues through which life force is expressed. And it is questionable whether, in a conscious being not afflicted with morbid impairment of tissue, or not so situated that food could not be supplied when hunger made its demand, death has resulted from starvation, or, in other words, from the exhaustion of brain sustenance. No evidence that is conclusive shows that this has ever happened.
In disease that is functional in origin and character the fast may be carried to its logical end without a particle of anxiety, for the law of hunger marks the limit beyond which abstinence may not continue lest starvation ensue. Hence, death from starvation is impossible during a fast when functional disease is in question. In the presence of structural organic deficiency the result is not assured. When, however, impairment of tissue is slight in degree, recovery is possible; but, when the fault is such that structural restoration of the organ or organs affected is beyond the power of natural law, no hope of cure exists, although, because functional labor is lessened through abstinence, and distress is with certainty relieved, life may be prolonged. It is always to be remembered that in all disease, whatever its form, the fast is nature's sole curative agency, and is then as much a function as is feeding in health.
The autopsies held upon the bodies of the subjects of whom the causes of death are here described disclosed in every instance disease that was organic in character. In most of these cases arrested development of one or more of the functioning parts of the body was discovered, and in all of them malformation of the intestines was displayed that must be attributed to long continued irritation with inflammation. These cases are those of persons who had resorted to orthodox methods for the relief of their suffering until orthodoxy proved without avail, and who only then bethought themselves of natural law.
In view of the defects exhibited, it is certain that malnutrition occurring in the developing period of life, coupled perhaps with the baneful effects of drugs administered in the attempt to remedy disease, was responsible for fatal issue. Nature had endowed each of these subjects at birth with presumably normal vitality; each of them had suffered early in life from severe forms of functional disorder; and each, with one exception, had virtually exhausted the list of medicines designated as remedies for the symptoms displayed.
While it is not at all a just concept to attempt to place entire responsibility for the conditions shown upon drug dosage, it is to be recognized that, broadly speaking, there is no drug that is in effect not a poison. It is also to be recognized that, while harm ensues when drugs are used for the suppression of disease in mature years, the consequences of administering medical remedies in infancy and in adolescence are much more detrimental.
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