An Overlooked Responsibility
Articles By Martha Burleigh

Man and the tortoise have more in common that it appears at first glance. The tortoise is a life that lives within a form that is both house and vehicle. Our physical bodies are both our houses and our vehicles. Without them we could not live or navigate on the physical plane. They are marvellously constructed instruments meant to serve us while we are in incarnation. It is true that they have wills of there own which cause us much trouble, but without them we could not function here. They are our teachers, and our servants, and our children.

Our physical bodies have appetites of their own, which frequently do not coincide with ours. They try to force us into many associations and activities which we do not desire. It is our purpose to learn to control them. They fight our control. It is a case of our will against theirs, until finally we gain complete control. Eternal vigilance, however, is necessary. In this way they are our teachers. They teach us discipline by causing us to need discipline.

Our physical bodies are our instruments of expression. Without them we cannot express on the physical plane. When we have gained control of them, they become our servants. Through them, we have eyes to see, ears to hear, voices to speak. They provide us with the sense mechanism through which we make contact with experience. Through experience we grow. When we have once gained control of them, they become precious possessions. They become the radios and the television sets through which we become aware of life. They are our contact with the world, both seen and unseen. Through the cells of our physical brains we become conscious of abstract ideas. Through the brain mechanism we are able to make those ideas manifest in our world.

An instrument as precious as this needs care. This is a house that cannot be sold when the roof falls in. This is a car that cannot be junked when we run into a tree. At least it cannot if we care to continue to operate on the physical plane. And it is here, on the physical plane, that we gain experience. If we do not do it now, we will do it later. If we do not do it comfortably, we will do it under difficulties. We will find that we have to continue to live in the house with the caved-in roof, or continue to drive the smashed-up car. The limitations of the house and the car will be the limitation we have put on our ability to express.

What does this body need? It needs proper fuel, at proper times. It needs proper rest. It needs a harmonious atmosphere. It needs love and understanding. It needs all these things for us, because we are the life within the form. It also needs these things for the sake of humanity, because it is a cell in the body of humanity. Most of all it needs these things for God, because it is a fragment of God trying to express Himself. Our body is our child. It must be cared for with loving understanding. However, it must not be master of the household.

Proper food is the subject of countless books and articles. There are more fads on food than can possibly learn. One day we are told that we must have a particular food, the next day we may be warned against it. What   we must have, is balance and common sense. Variety is our great facto of safety. At certain stages of development the vegetarian diet seems desirable, but it should be used wisely; more protein may be necessary, and greater variety. Vegetarianism should not be an excuse for starvation or malnutrition. Wisdom and discrimination are essential in the matter of diet.

Proper rest is a matter of rhythm; as we breathe in, we must breathe out. The heart beats, it rests, it beats, it rests. A muscle tenses, it relaxes. The body is capable of tremendous effort. If that effort is made in a rhythmic manner, it can be sustained over long periods of time. There must be periods of effort then periods of relaxation. Change brings about relaxation. Walter Russell wrote that intense creative effort on one kind should not be continued more than two hours. However, if he changed the type of work every two hours he could do intense creative work for eight hours a day without strain. For two hours he would paint, for two hours he would write, for two hours he would work on sculpture.

We ourselves are responsible for the quality of the atmosphere in which we live. We make it harmonious or discontent by the kind of thoughts we think, and by our reaction to our environment. Harmony is a gift we can give to our bodies, for which we will be well repaid.

When the body is ill, it needs proper treatment. Our bodies are like houses. When there is a small leak in the roof, there is first of all a small spot on the ceiling. If we take care of it at once, no great damage is done. But if we wait, the rain pounds on the roof, just as the stress and strain of living pound on our bodies. More and more water seeps in, the plaster soaks, drops of water form and fall on the floor, the floor buckles, and finally the plaster crashes down. The effort and expense of repair are increased, and the comfort of life within the house is impaired. If we take a little time out when we are first warned of trouble, we will not be forced to take out much time for major repairs.

Disciples, who have dedicated themselves to the work of the Plan, need, especially, to heed the care of their bodies. A weak body restricts their ability to serve, it may even distort their instrumentation. They have not the right to ignore it because there is too much work to be done. If they do not care for themselves now they may not be here to serve tomorrow. Balance in all things is important. The body must not be master, it must not be pampered and petted. But it must be cared for so that it is in condition to take the additional strain of discipleship; so that it can give steady, continuous, service for long periods of time.

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