October 8, 1977
“While Ruburt was working at one of his books a few days ago, he heard a public service announcement. The official told all listeners that the flu season had officially begun. He sternly suggested that the elderly and those with certain diseases make appointments at once for flu shots.
The official mentioned, by the way, that there was indeed no direct evidence connecting past flu shots with the occurrence of a rather bizarre disease that some of those inoculated with the flu vaccine happened to come down with. All in all, it was quite an interesting announcement, with the implications that straddle biology, religion, and economics. “The flu season” is in a way an example of a psychologically manufactured pattern that can at times bring about a manufactured epidemic.
Behind such announcements there is the authority of the medical profession, and the very authority of your systems of communication as well. You cannot question the voice over the radio. It is disembodied and presumes to know.
Once again, the elderly were singled out. It seems obvious that they are more susceptible to diseases. That susceptibility is a medical fact of life. It is a fact, however, without a basic foundation in the truth of man’s biological reality. It is a fact brought about through suggestion. The doctors see the bodily results, which are quite definite, and those results are take as evidence.
In a few isolated areas of the world even today, the old are not disease ridden, nor do their vital signs weaken. They remain quite healthy until the time of death.
Their belief systems, therefore you must admit, are quite practical. Nor are they surrounded by medical professions. Later in the book we will return to the subject. HERE, you have, however, what almost amounts to a social program for illness—the flu season. A mass meditation, it has an economic structure in back of it: The scientific and medical foundations are involved. Not only this, however, but the economic concerns, from the largest pharmacies to the tiniest drugstores, the supermarkets and the corner groceries—all of these elements are involved.
Pills, potions, and shots supposed to combat [colds and the] flu are given prominent displays, serving to remind those who might have missed them otherwise of the announcements [about] the coming time of difficulty. Commercials on television bring a new barrage, so that (amused) you can go from hay fever season to the flu season without missing any personal medications.
A cough in June may be laughed off and quickly forgotten. A cough in flu season, however is far more suspect—and under such conditions one might think, particularly in the midst of a poor week: “Who wants to go out tomorrow anyhow?”
You are literally expected to come down with the flu. It can be as an excuse for not facing many kinds of problems. Many people are almost consciously aware of what they are doing. All they have to do is pay attention to the suggestions offered so freely by the society. The temperature does rise. Concern causes the throat to become dry. Dormant viruses—which up to now have done no harm—ARE activated.
Coat, glove, and boot manufacturers also push their wares. Yet in those categories there is more sanity, for their ads often stress wholesome activities, portraying the happy skier, the tramper through the woods in winter. Sometime, however, they suggest that their wares will protect you against the flu and colds, and against the vulnerability of your nature.
The inoculations themselves do little overall, and they can be potentially dangerous, particularly when they are given to prevent an epidemic which has not in fact occurred. They may have specific value, but over all they are detrimental, confusing bodily mechanisms and setting off other biological reactions that might not show up, say, for some time.
The flu intersects with the Christmas season, of course, when Christians are told to be merry and [wish] their fellows a happy return to the natural wonders of childhood, in thought at least. [They are also told] to pay homage to God. Christianity has become, however, a tangled and sorry tale, its cohesiveness largely vanished. Such a religion becomes isolated from daily life. Many individuals cannot unify the various areas of their belief and feeling, and at Christmas they partially recognize the vast gulf that exists between their scientific beliefs and their religious beliefs. They find themselves unable to cope with such a mental and spiritual dilemma. A psychic depression often results, one that is deepened by the Christmas music and the commercial displays, by the religious reminders that the species is made in God’s image, and by the other reminders that the body so given is seemingly incapable of taking care for itself and is a natural prey to disease and disaster.
So the Christmas season carries a man’s hopes in your society, and the flu season mirrors his fears and shows the gulf between the two.
The physician is also a private person, so I speak of him only in his professional capacity, for he usually does the best that he can in the belief system that he shares with his fellows. Those beliefs do not exist alone, but are of course intertwined with religious and scientific ones, as separate as they may appear. Christianity has conventionally treated illness as a punishment of God, or as a trial sent by God, to borne stoically. It has considered man as a sinful creature, flawed by original sin, FORCED to work by the sweat of his brow.
Science has seen man as an accidental product of an uncaring universe, a creature literally without a center of meaning, where consciousness was the result of a physical mechanism that only HAPPENED to come into existence, and that had no reality outside of that structure. Science has at least been consistent in that respect. Christianity, however, officially asks children of sorrow to be joyful and sinners to find a childlike purity; it asks them to love a God who will one day destroy the world, and will condemn them to hell if they do not adore Him.
Many people are caught between such conflicting beliefs, fall prey to physical ills during the Christmas season particularly. The churches and hospitals are often the largest buildings in any town, and the only ones open without recourse to city ordinances. You cannot divorce your private value system from your health, and the hospitals often profit from the guilt that religions have instilled in their people.
I am speaking now of religions so intertwined with social life and community ventures that all sense of basic religious integrity becomes lost. Man is by nature a religious creature.
One of man’s strongest attributes is religious feeling. It is the part of psychology most often overlooked. There is a NATURAL religious knowledge with which you are born. It is a biological spirituality translated into verbal terms. It says: “Life is a gift (and not a curse). I am unique, worthy creature in the natural world, which everywhere surrounds me, gives me sustenance, and reminds me of the greater Source from which I myself and the world both emerge. My body is delightfully suited to its environment., and comes to me, again from that unknown Source which shows itself through all the events in the physical world.”
That feeling gives the organism the optimism, the joy and the ever abundant energy to grow. It encourages curiosity and creativity, places the individual in a spiritual world and a natural one at once.
Organized religions are always attempts to redefine that kind of feeling in cultural terms. They seldom succeed because they become to narrow in their concepts, to dogmatic, and the cultural structures finally overweigh the finer substance within them.
The more tolerant a religion is, the closer it comes to expressing those inner truths. The individual, however, has a private biological and spiritual integrity that is part of man’s heritage, and is indeed any creature’s right. Man cannot mistrust his own nature and at the same time trust the nature of God, for God is his word for the source of his being—and if his being is tainted, then so must be his God.
Your private beliefs merge with those of others, and form your cultural reality. The distorted ideas of the medical profession or the scientists, or of any other group, are not thrust upon you, therefore. They are the result of your mass beliefs—isolated in the form of separate disciplines. Medical men, for example, are often extremely unhealthy because they are so saddled with those specific health beliefs that their attention is concentrated in that area more than others not so involved. The idea of prevention is always based upon fear—for you do not want to prevent something that is joyful. Often, therefore, preventative medicine causes what it hopes to avoid. Not only does the idea [of prevention] continually promote the entire system of fear, but specific steps to prevent a disease in a body not already stricken, again, often sets up reactions that bring about side effects that would occur if the disease had in fact been suffered.
A specific disease will of course have its side effects on other portions of the body as well, [effects] which have not been studied, or even known. Such inoculations. Such inoculations, therefore, cannot take that into consideration. There are also cases where the alterations occur after inoculation, so that for a while people actually become carriers of diseases, and can infect others.
There are individuals who very rarely get ill whether or not they are inoculated, and who are not sensitive in the health area. I am not implying, therefore that all people react negatively to inoculations. In the most basic of terms, however, inoculations do no good, either, though I am quite aware that medical history would seem to contradict me.
At certain times, and most particularly at the birth of medical science in modern times, the belief in inoculation, if not by the populace then by the doctors, did possess the great strength of new suggestion and hope—but I am afraid that scientific medicine has caused many new diseases as it has cured. When it saved lives, it does so because of the intuitive healing and understanding of the physician, or because the patient is so impressed by the great efforts taken in his behalf, and therefore is convinced second handedly of his own worth.
Physicians, of course , are always constantly at the beck and call of many people who will not take any responsibility for their own well-being, who will plead for operations they do not need. The physician is also visited by people who do not want to get well, and use the doctor and his methods as further justification for further illness, saying: “The doctor is no good,” or “the medicine will not work,” therefore blaming the doctor for a way of life they have no intention of changing..
The physician is also caught between his religious and his scientific beliefs. Sometimes these conflict, and sometimes they only serve to deepen his feelings that the body, left alone, will get any disease possible.
Again you cannot separate your system of values and your most intimate philosophical judgments from other areas of your private or mass experience.
In this country, your tax dollars go for many medical experiments and preventative-medicine drives—because you do not trust the good intent of your own bodies. In the same way, your government funds [also] go into military defenses to prevent war, because if you do not trust your own body’s good intent toward you, you can hardly trust any good intent on the part of your fellowmen.
In fact, then, preventative medicine and outlandish expenditures for preventative defense are quite similar. In each case there is the anticipation of disaster—in one case from the familiar body, which can be attacked by deadly diseases at any time, and is seemingly at least without defenses; and in the other case from the danger without: exaggerated, ever threatening, and ever to be contended with.
Disease must be combated, fought against, assaulted, wiped out. In many ways the body becomes almost like an alien battleground, for many people trust it so little that it becomes highly suspect. Man then seems to be pitted against nature. Some people think of themselves as patients, as others, for example, might think of themselves as students. Such people are those who are apt to take preventative measures against whatever disease is in fashion or in season, and hence take the brunt of medicine’s unfortunate aspects, when there is no cause.
A Seth Book
by Jane Roberts
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