Everyone knows that having a proper diet leads to proper health. For instance, if we ingest too many fatty foods we can increase the risk of cholesterol accumulating and sticking to the walls of our arteries. This accumulation can restrict the flow of blood and eventually lead to a heart attack.
While it is common sense to restrict one’s diet of fatty, greasy, artery-clogging foods, there is also a psycho-spiritual side to health. It is generally known that our mental states can affect our immune systems and overall health.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg took this holistic idea of mind-body health further than any other researcher I have ever come across. He realized that disease could have physical causes, mental causes and even spiritual causes. Each of these causes could produce real changes in the chemistry of the blood and the condition of the bodily tissues.
For instance, his anatomical investigations led him to observe that joy, happiness and love expanded many organic forms, allowing for various fluids and energies to flow more freely and perform their vital functions more efficiently. On the other hand, anger, hatred and repulsion constricted organic tissues, membranes and the flow of our life forces. Antipathy also has a hardening effect while mercy and compassion has a softening effect on the bodily systems.
Furthermore, love and happiness thins and clarifies the blood while sadness and melancholy thickens and “gunks-up” the blood. So when we decide to watch what we eat for holistic wellness, we must also include categories of sustenance beyond the main terrestrial food groups.
We not only eat and digest physical food, we also partake of—and metabolize—mental food. That is, information. We instinctively realize the truth of this analogy when we use lexicons like “chewing on ideas” or “ruminating” over some topic. The point is that some information is healthy for us but other information can be hurtful and lead us astray.
In the same way that food is turned into the fabric of our physical bodies, information can be turned into the very fabric of our inner being.
Swedenborg became uniquely aware of the affects of hurtful information on the health of the human spirit. Eating is appropriating. We appropriate ideas when they become our personal convictions and beliefs. This is why we must be careful not to “swallow whole” false ideas—especially about ourselves—from the over-magnification of our self-importance.
False ideas and principles, which are generated from the love of self, accumulate and stick to each other, clogging up the proper flow of spiritual forces in the human heart (will) and mind (intellect). This is cholesterol from hell—a byproduct of rejecting spiritual goodness from our lives. It cuts us off from God’s loving influence, ultimately threatening the spiritual wellbeing of our souls.
LIFE flows from God into our souls, and from our souls into our bodies. Any blockage along this top-down flow can threaten our wellness. Heart attacks can indeed result from non-physical causes and one’s mental states. Doctors have found victims of heart attacks who show no visible signs of heart disease and healthy people living long lives with high cholesterol levels. Medicine needs to bring God back into its therapeutic arsenal.
The purpose of true religion is to provide the proper dietary and medicinal needs for the eternal health of the human spirit and soul.