Vitalism is the firmly held belief that "living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things". Where vitalism explicitly invokes a vital principle, that element is often referred to as the "vital spark", "energy" or "élan vital", which some equate with the soul.

Vitalism grew out of monastic medical concepts and precepts. In the 18th and 19th century during the renaissance, vitalism was discussed among biologists, between those who felt that the known mechanics of physics would eventually explain the difference between life and non-life and vitalists who argued that the processes of life could not be reduced to a mechanistic process. Some vitalist biologists proposed testable hypotheses meant to show inadequacies with mechanistic explanations, but these experiments failed to provide support for vitalism. Biologists now consider vitalism in this sense to have been refuted by empirical evidence, and hence regard it as a superseded scientific theory.

Vitalism has a long history in medical philosophies: many traditional healing practices posited that disease results from some imbalance in vital forces. As most schools evolving in science in the 19th century dropped the foundation of vitalism, this tragic error and oversight would cloud the 20th century in favor of materialism and the waning of religious precepts.

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    VITALISM (VITALISTIC MEDICINES)

    Vitalism is the firmly held belief that "living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things". Where vitalism explicitly invokes a vital principle, that element is often referred to as the "vital spark", "energy" or "élan vital", which some equate with the soul.

    Vitalism grew out of monastic medical concepts and precepts. In the 18th and 19th century during the renaissance, vitalism was discussed among biologists, between those who felt that the known mechanics of physics would eventually explain the difference between life and non-life and vitalists who argued that the processes of life could not be reduced to a mechanistic process. Some vitalist biologists proposed testable hypotheses meant to show inadequacies with mechanistic explanations, but these experiments failed to provide support for vitalism. Biologists now consider vitalism in this sense to have been refuted by empirical evidence, and hence regard it as a superseded scientific theory.

    Vitalism has a long history in medical philosophies: many traditional healing practices posited that disease results from some imbalance in vital forces. As most schools evolving in science in the 19th century dropped the foundation of vitalism, this tragic error and oversight would cloud the 20th century in favor of materialism and the waning of religious precepts.

    The purpose of this short course is to provide the pastor, physician or prospective student an overview of the various esoteric (energy) traditions that today are often called "alternative and complementary medicines." The term energy has been widely used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality and alternative medicines and refers to a seeming wide variety of phenomena, but as this course points out, there is a common theme of all of them that have arisen in human development. This 'energy' is sometimes conceived of as a universal life force running within and between all things, and in other cases it is seen as a more localized phenomenon, such as in vitalism, subtle bodies, or somatic energies such as qi (acupuncture), prana (Ayurveda and yoga), or vital force (homeopathy).

    Those who have been so ordained are obliged to understand these various vitalistic medical systems. They are part of human culture and development, and offer service to our people when understood in righteous context. We should understand that the great religious leaders of the world such as Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Spiritual truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals. Things that are compatible to one another work together in peace, flow and beauty. Those who can perceive compatibility will therefore understand and experience the nature of peace, flow and beauty from the way things work together. One would therefore find closure to ignorance, gain peace and happiness, and fulfill the meaning and purpose of life, which is to find and recognize the meanings through experience and God's love.

    This COURSE provides a general overview of the history and principles of energy (vitalistic) medicines and proposes acceptance of a common theme that pervades traditional and indigenous medicines, e.g. "shakti" (Indian yoga), Holy Wind, Seiki (mystical Japanese), mana loa (Hawaiian Kahunan), Lung (pronounced "loong," this is the Tibetan term which literally translates as "wind"), the greater kan and li (esoteric Chinese), huo (Taoist) and tumo or Dumo Fire (Buddhist); leading up to more modern concepts such as the odic force (von Reichenbach), mesmerism (Franz Mesmer's Animal Magnetism), elan vitale (French philosopher Henri Bergson), archaeus (Paracelsus), orgone (Wilhelm Reich), the primal fire (alchemy), and "the breath of life" (theosophy).

    Various terms of 'energy' are widely used by writers, proponents, and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality and "complementary and alternative' medicines. The context of energy refers to a variety of phenomena, from the unexplained to sometimes directly perceptible to some observers, who have usually undergone some form of training or initiation. This 'energy' is often conceived of as a universal life force running within and between all things, animate and inanimate, and in other cases it is seen as a more localized phenomenon within the organism such as in vitalism, subtle bodies, or specific somatic energies such as qi, prana, or elan vitale. Spiritual energy is often closely associated with the metaphor of life as breath - the words 'qi', 'prana', and 'spirit', for instance, are all related in their respective languages to the verb 'to breathe'. It is also often seen as a continuum that unites body and mind.



    The experience of spiritual energy is described differently depending on the tradition or practice in question. Sometimes it is described as a physical sensation similar to the movement of breath in the body, sometimes as visible "auras", "rays", or "fields", sometimes as audible or tactile "vibrations". As a rule, these experiences are held to be available to anyone, but only after proper training or sensitization through practices which vary widely across different belief systems. Spiritual energy is also usually associated with feelings of bliss or contentment, as in the pleasurable sensations of kundalini, the ecstatic states of certain forms of meditation, and the 'oceanic feeling' discussed by western scholars such as Freud and Rolland. There is no scientific evidence of physical energies of this type.

    Serious studies into the more esoteric approaches to healthcare provide considerable importance for anyone professing some form of skill or aptitude in most all of the alternative and complementary medical vocations (secular or religious). It is apparent that the themes of the vital energy, the elements, the etheric anatomy and etiologies are very similar. If their observations and teachings were fictitious and pagan, one would have to ask:

    • Why did so many variant, medical traditions, at separate times in history and diverse geographic locations, arrive at so similar conclusions?

    • Why did the theme of vital energy so animate so many medical traditions, and why did western science seem so adherent to crush its foundation in favor of chemical medicine?

    • Why did the theme of the elements, whether four or five, survive for so many thousands of years, and interlace itself not only in human anatomy (the humours), but cosmogeny (astrology) in general?

    This School (Therapeutae) proposes that humanity must retain the ancient esoteric teachings for posterity. It appears now, as in times past, that there are but few mature minds in the world; and thus it was that the philosophic-religious doctrines of today were divided to meet the needs of these two fundamental groups of human intellect--one, the mature and philosophic; and the other, immature, materialistic, and incapable of appreciating the deeper mysteries of life. To the discerning few, entering this School, we reveal the esoteric, or spiritual, teachings, while the unqualified many receive only the literal, or exoteric, interpretations. In order to make simple the great truths of Nature and the abstract principles of natural law, the vital forces of the universe were personified in times past, becoming the gods and goddesses of the ancient mythologies. While the ignorant multitudes brought their offerings to the altars of deities representing the procreative energies, the wise recognized that these marble statues were only symbolic concretions of great abstract truths.

    Lesson 0: Choose Your Position Resource
    Lesson 1: Energy Resource
    Lesson 2: Vitalism, its Development Resource
    Lesson 3: Foundations of chemistry (alchemy) Resource
    LESSON 4: MESMERISM Resource
    Lesson 5: Homeopathy & Vitalism Resource
    Lesson 6: CONCLUSIONS Resource
    AUDIO LECTURE: Magnetism & Vitalism (2 hrs.)