The existence and the beginning of life is a puzzle to biological sciences. We cannot observe life as a substantial entity, but only understand its manifestations in the form of living beings. We can distinguish the living from the non-living only based on their sensations and functions.
The healthy living body is not just a collection of organs and tissues, but in this condition, they live in harmony and in co-operation with each other. On the contrary, the dead body cannot maintain the same harmonious state. Though the heart is present, the dead body cannot pump the blood, the lungs cannot breathe the air, and the stomach cannot digest.
Moreover, the dead body cannot preserve itself for a longer period and decays when it becomes lifeless. It is very clear to any logical and analytical mind that an imperceptible force (to human senses) is responsible for the harmonious function of the body during life.
It is a clearly perceptible phenomenon to any reasonable, thinking mind. It cannot be called a concept of metaphysics, as there is no place for speculation here, systematic observation will make it clearly perceivable. Hahnemann accepted this as a fact (footnote to § 13) and called this force as Vital Force.
Some concepts in the universe are out of the explanation, they have to be perceived through our senses only. Eg: We cannot explain nor show the taste of “sweet” to a person who had never tasted the same in his life; he has to taste sweet in order to understand it fully.
Hahnemann was an integralist. He believed neither in the vitalistic theories nor in the materialistic theories fully. He considered life as a result of complementary effort between the material body and the immaterial vital force. The disease is nothing but the disturbance in this harmonious functioning. Hahnemann did not want to commit the same mistake the 18th-century physicians did.
He wanted to avoid theories based on metaphysical explanations and speculations. For him, the vital force was a fact which the human mind could not understand, but at the same time, it is also true that without this vital force the material body cannot sustain even for a short period of time.
Because of this same reason,
He said “How the vital force causes the organism to display morbid phenomenon, that is, how it produces disease, it would be of no practical utility to the physician to know, and will forever remain concealed from him; only what it is necessary for him to know of the disease and what is fully sufficient for enabling him to cure, the lord of life revealed to his senses”.
The doctrine of vital force was introduced for the first time in the 5th edition of Organon. The word vital force has been replaced by the term “Vital Principle” in the 6th edition of Organon. This change was made to avoid confusion with other forces of the physical and chemical sciences. Vital force is a concept to explain the existence of animating invisible energy in the universe, whereas vital principle is a special kind of power possessed by a material body.
B.K. Sarkar says in his “Hahnemann’s Organon”, “The vital force is an abstract term while the life principle is the concrete term”.
H. A. Roberts views vital force: Vital force is that force that animates each individual. The vital force in the individual becomes therefore the ego. It is the most inanimate spark of an individual which gives him identity as well as makes him different from other individuals. It keeps and maintains the individual’s relationship close to the universe. Vital force is capable of three forms of action: motion, direction, and balance. Growth and development are directed motion and the degree of their perfection finds the manifestation of the balance.
“Body and tissue are not life, but they are the channels through which the life functions” —H.A.Roberts
Characteristics or Qualities of Vital Force
Vital force can be defined as an autocratic, autonomic, spirit-like, unintelligent, dynamic, instinctive, a life-preserving force that animates the material body.
1. Autocratic (auto = self, kratic = power): Autocratic means self-power. No tissue or organ in the body has any type of influence on the vital force. The vital force has its own law or power of functioning. It does not derive any type of power from any part of the body at any time.
2. Autonomic or automatic: Vital force is a self-acting force in the body. No force of the body has any control over its action and movements. Vital force is pervaded all over the body uniformly. At every moment and at every stimulus, it moves the body accordingly.
3. Spirit-like force: Vital force has no shape, no volume, and no mass. It cannot be seen, but its functions can only be observed. This immaterial invisible vital force works and functions through this material physical body. The anatomical body is only an instrument in the hands of vital force.
4. Unintelligent: The word ‘intellect’ means power to reason. Though the vital force is a power to control this physical body in a healthy condition, it does not possess the power to reason. It only promotes its sufferings and impulses to the physical body. It is called ‘Unintelligent’ because during any fatal acute disease if any threat to the life of an organism occurs, it tries to save the life by sacrificing one part of the body to the miasmatic influence.
Hence, in the book “Chronic Diseases”, Hahnemann says “It is undeniable that our vital force without the assistance of the active remedies of human art cannot overcome slight acute diseases (if not succumb to them) and restore some sort of health without sacrifising a part of the fluid and the solid parts of the organism through so called crisis. The chronic diseases, which spring from miasms, cannot be healed unaided, even by such sacrifices, nor can real health be restored by this force alone.”
Example: this is the reason why in poliomyelitis, the patient loses functioning of his legs in case of recovery.
5. Dynamic: The law of dynamic is unknown to human beings. How the vital force pervades each cell uniformly remains unknown to us. Only its effects are made clear to our senses through its functions. As long as the vital force exists in the cell, the organism is alive, and the cell functions. In dynamic action, what happens can be seen but why it happens cannot be explained.
6. Instinctive: Instinct means natural impulse. The vital force has a basic natural instinct. It continues performing its function according to the law of nature. It does not change according to the constitutional nature of the person. Vital force is not influenced by knowledge.
7. Life preserving power: It is a known fact that as long as the vital force exists inside the body, it is called a living creature. The moment vital force leaves the body, the body stops functioning and it is called dead. This is the only demonstrable proof for the existence of life-preserving force inside the body.
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Role of Vital Force in Health, Disease and Cure
Health is called a state of ease and comfort where man has no complaints about the surrounding environment. He enjoys each and every movement of his life in health. Man can adjust to the slightest changes that are taking place in the surroundings.
There are so many functions that are taking part in our body. The heartbeats, the lungs breathe, the kidney filters blood, etc. but all these functions are taking place inside the body without a single intimation to ourselves. Man is busy in healthy status doing his social welfare activities (higher purpose of his existence).
It is responsible for the harmonious functioning of all the organs inside the body. As the dynamic attractive force keeps all the planets in the solar system in perfect movement, in the same way, vital force controls the harmonious functioning of the organs of the body. In healthy conditions, vital force rules over the material body.
During health, there is a perfect cooperation between body and mind. The body is the territory of the vital force. It protects the body from any morbific force so that man can use his powers for the welfare of society. Though in our day-to-day life we are getting exposed to many pathogenetic powers, we remain healthy because of vital force. Because of the vital force, the material body can survive, grow, and reproduce. The anatomical body cannot perform any function and cannot even protect itself and decays.
This condition is called the state of perfect health, which cannot be explained or shown in any laboratory but this has to be experienced. Life is invisible and only by the sensations and functions of the organism we can perceive it. Hahnemann comments in his Chronic Diseases says,
“Vital force is a never resting preservative force”.
The vital force in disease Vital force constantly fights with the disease-producing powers at every moment of life. Either because of the prolonged exposure or due to the stronger power of the miasms, vital force deranges. This deranged state of the vital force brings forth a lack of cooperation between the organs and systems of the body. This results in a lack of harmony and disturbance of the normal sensations and functions. These abnormal sensations and functions are called the signs and symptoms.
So, the disease is nothing but the derangement of vital force that is caused by dynamic sickness-producing forces called miasms. Because the miasmatic forces are more powerful than the vital force, vital force is unable to safeguard the body anymore and exhibits its inability in the form of symptoms. Hence, symptoms are called the cries of vital force.
The mission of the physician is to identify the unique suffering of the vital force based on these symptoms. This study of symptoms must always be done in totality, which gives the total picture of the suffering of the vital force. Health is a condition maintained by a dynamic force called the vital force. So, this dynamic vital force can only be deranged by a similar yet powerful dynamic force (miasm) and not by any material substances.
Vital force in Cure
It has a tendency to fight against any morbid force. In the diseased condition, the vital force tries to fight with the miasmatic forces and free the organism from its inimical acts. In some cases of acute diseases, the vital force can overcome the inimical forces without medicinal aid. But in this process of recovery, vital force sacrifices some vital energy or vital organs to the miasmatic force. This happens because vital force follows its laws and principles according to the conditions of nature.
Hence, Hahnemann called vital force an unintelligent force. On the contrary, in some fatal acute diseases vital force is unable to fight against the morbid forces, as they are more powerful than the vital force. In such conditions, vital force requires medicinal help. Without medicinal help in these cases, the vital force deranges and leads to the death of the patient.
The nature of chronic miasm is entirely different from that of acute miasm. Chronic miasmatic forces are more dangerous; they can even run from generation to generation. Hence in chronic diseases, the vital force alone is unable to control the stronger miasmatic forces. In chronic diseases, medicinal aid is mandatory. Vital force hints at its suffering to the physician in the form of signs and symptoms. Based on this symptomatic totality, the intelligent physician administers a homeopathic remedy.
This homeopathic remedy has to be given in such a manner that the medicinal force is always powerful than the miasmatic force. When such action is taken by the physician the deranged vital force initially remains passive and allows stronger medicinal force to remove the weaker miasmatic force. The medicinal disease force being artificial becomes weaker when the physician stops the repetition of the remedy further.
In such conditions, the vital force easily overcomes the medicinal force and also becomes free from both miasmatic and medicinal force. Thus, it regains its energy and restores the disturbed harmony of the organism.
Importance of the Knowledge of Vital Force to a Homeopath
- The theory of vital force is one of the cardinal principles of homeopathy. The dynamic nature of health, disease, and cure takes place with the help of dynamic homeopathic medicines which can only be explained with the help of the theory of vital force.
- Only because of the theory of vital force homeopathy can be called the holistic or intergalactic system of medicine that gives importance to both body and the life force.
- Only if the homeopathic students understand that the diseases are not because of the materia peccans but the derangement of the vital force, he will use only a single simple remedy at a time. This is done in order to stimulate the vital force.
- The concept of the fundamental cause and its actions can only be understood better by the principle of vital force. The selection of the minimum dose and the concept of the constitutional prescription can be better understood and seems logical by this study.
- The law of dynamics and the law of chemistry and physics are entirely different. This can only be better understood by the knowledge of the vital force.
- Individualization of a patient becomes very practical by the study of vital force.
- The concept of vital force makes the study and explanation of the dynamization of the drugs very easy.
- Explanation of ‘The modus operandi of cure’ (how homeopathic cure takes place) is only possible by the study of the dynamic forces like vital force, miasmatic force, and the medicinal force.
- This helps in understanding the psychic sphere of a man and the relation between the body and the mind. This psychosomatic approach to health and disease is very cardinal in the case of the homeopathic prescription.
- The theory of vital force makes it easy to explain the effects of internal and external environments on man and response to various psychological stresses in life.
- Theory of vital force makes the holistic explanation of health, disease, and vital force in cure. This gives the medicine an individual status as a therapeutics first and science later.
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