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The Four Causes of Health

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The Four Causes of Health
By James Dillet Freeman
The Four Causes of Health originally appeared as an article in Daily Word magazine. Because it brought many excellent comments from our readers, it was decided to make it available to our friends in pamphlet form.

I HAVE seen people healed through prayer. The first time I ever saw this was at a prayer meeting. When the meeting was over, a woman came forward, holding out her hands. "Look," she said. She was weeping. She held out her hands and slowly opened and closed them. Then she opened and closed them again.

"This is the first time in five years," she said, "I have been able to move my fingers."

Since then I have seen many people healed through prayer. I have also seen people whom I might reasonably have expected to be healed pray and not be healed.

But if one person ever got a healing through prayer, through changing his thinking, then there is obviously a power here that can work for all — if we learn how to use it.

If one person is healed through prayer, we can all be healed through prayer. If one person changes his life by changing his thinking, we can all change our thinking and change our life. We have only to learn the conditions of success.

Why do we get sick? Why do we get well? Are physical explanations enough?

Aristotle — in an analysis of the way things happen in this world, an analysis that no scientist or philosopher has improved on — says that every event has four causes; these he calls the material cause, the efficient cause, the formal cause, and the final cause.

For instance, the material cause of a house may be thought of as the lumber and nails. And the efficient cause is a carpenter's hammering them together. But the formal cause is the blueprint an architect prepared. And the final cause is someone's need for shelter.

We look at a house and we ask, "How did this house happen to come into being?" If you think about this for a minute, you will see that to give an adequate answer to this question, you have to consider all four causes. Unless all four causes are operating, there will be no house.

Health and sickness, like houses and all other phenomena, have not one but four causes. Material and efficient causes cannot bring about health or sickness until the formal and final causes are in operation. There are whole groups of people whose religious beliefs forbid their accepting medical aid. Yet these people live at least as long and as healthily as others.

Material and efficient causes are the field of medical science, which has lately made marvelous discoveries in this field. But for formal and final causes, we have to look into the mind and soul. This is the field with which Unity deals. Unity deals with the mind and soul, with consciousness, with thinking. Unity believes that when the cause of sickness in the soul is eliminated, germs are not going to attack us, any more than a carpenter is going to build a house when he does not receive an order for one from someone who needs shelter.

Eliminate the formal and final causes of a sickness and the sickness dissolves. Build in the formal and final causes of health, and health is brought forth.

What are the formal and final causes of sickness and health?

First let us consider formal causes. Unity has a great deal to say about formal causes. For the formal cause of a sickness is belief in it. People get sick because they think sickness, accept the possibility of sickness, carry around the form of sickness, as it were, in their mind.

They hear that everyone has been catching cold and immediately they are afraid they are going to get one. In a sense, we blueprint colds just as an architect blueprints houses.

You can see that if we carry around in a pocket in our mind the blueprint of a sickness, we are much more likely to build it into our body than if we do not have a blueprint to work from.

So Unity gives us tools to erase negative blueprints, tools called denials. Deny the possibility of sickness, we say. Make statements like:

"I do not believe in colds, weakness, inefficiency or negativeness of any kind."


"I deny disease as devoid of any reality and affirm health as spiritual and abiding." Because all of us are carrying around so many blueprints of sickness, health takes working at.

The most alive person I know is a woman. I cannot tell you her age — she refuses to accept age. But you might easily take her for half her age. She works diligently every day. She writes. She goes on strenuous lecture tours. She maintains a large house and does a great deal of the work around it — outside and in — herself. She has an active social life. Her idea of a vacation is a wilderness packtrip. She just came back from a world tour and a friend who accompanied her confided half bitterly: "She was the only person on the tour who did not get sick." She has never had a toothache, headache, or stomachache in her life.

It may be just a coincidence, but it happens that this person who is the healthiest person I know is also the person who works hardest — has worked all her life — at developing what we in Unity call a consciousness of health. She sees herself as healthy, young, vigorous. To her health is important. She is always affirming health. She thinks health, talks health, refuses to let thoughts of ill-health lodge in her mind. Be around her awhile and she may have you singing with her a little Unity health song like:

"I am the radiant life of God, I am, I am, I am.
I am the radiant life of God, I am, I am, I am,
The health of God, the strength of God,
Vitality, vigor, and vim of God.
I am the radiant life of God, I am, I am, I am."

Like her, we must keep the form, the shape, the vision of health before us if we would bring health forth. We must feel life surging through our thoughts, flowing through our veins. We must — as Myrtle Fillmore wrote — actually talk to the cells of our body and tell them how healthy they are. And we must do this not occasionally but all the time.

And what about final causes? The final cause, Aristotle taught, is the end, that for the sake of which, the reason why.

If we get sick, we get sick for a reason, just as we build a house for a reason. We may not know the reason, but the reason is there. And if we are well, we are well for a reason. We are well because health is serving the purposes of our soul. We are well because the deep springs of our nature are pouring forth life and health. Sickness and health are a response to life. When we feel faith and love, when we feel victorious and productive, our body is healthy. When we feel frustrated, filled with uncertainty about our-self and life, unloved or unworthy or inadequate, we may react with sickness. I say "may" because we may also react in many other ways.

In a study made a few years ago of men who had been operated on in a certain hospital, not one man was found who had not suffered a setback or a frustration. But we do not have to react to a setback or frustration by getting sick. We react in different ways. Some of these are unprofitable, like sickness. But some are profitable. Faced with having to clear a field of stones, one man may give up in exhaustion. Another may invent a machine that will help all men for all time clear the fields of stones.

This of course is what prayer is for: to help us eliminate mental and emotional factors that tend to defeat us and to build in mental and emotional factors that bring victory.

Whatever the final cause of sickness may be, the final cause of health is certain. The final cause of health is God. The final cause of health is our oneness with God.

God made us and He made us in His image and after His likeness. And God is perfect.

So the deepest urges, the deepest drives that a man has are toward health. We seek to bring forth health because we are made in the image of perfection. Whatever kind of blueprint we may give the carpenter and whatever he may do with the lumber and the nails, the house he is trying to build is not the house of sickness but the house of health. The house he is trying to build is the temple of the living God.

The causes of health are physical. But the causes of health are also of the mind and soul.

The cause of health is faith. The cause of health is God. Affirm your faith in God — and health will come forth in you.

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