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A Biological View

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THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING (by Lin Yutang, TTC translator), written 1939


P. 28 A Biological View



"Why do we despise the body, when the flesh itself shows such intelligence? After all, we are endowed with a body, which is a self-nourishing, self-regulating, self-repairing, self-starting and self-reproducing machine, installed at birth and lasting like a good grandfather clock for three-quarters of a century, requiring very little attention. It is a machine provided with wireless vision and wireless hearing, with a more highly complicated system of nerves and lymphs than the most complicated telephone and telegraph system of the world. It has a system of filing reports done by a vast complexus of nerves, managed with such efficiency that some files, the less important ones, are kept in the attic and others are kept in a more convenient desk, but those kept in the attic, which may be thirty years old and rarely referred to, are nevertheless there and sometimes can be found with lightning speed and efficiency. Then it also manages to go about like a motor car with perfect knee-action and absolute silence of engines, and if the motor car has an accident and breaks its glass or its steering wheel, the car automatically exudes or manufactures a substance to replace the glass and does its best to grow a steering wheel, or at least manages to do the steering with a swollen end of the steering shaft; for we must remember that when one of our kidneys is cut out, the other kidney swells and increases its function to insure the passage of the normal volume of urine. Then it also keeps up a normal temperature within a tenth of a Fahrenheit degree, and manufactures its own chemicals for the process of transforming food into living tissues.

Above all, it has a sense of the rhythm of life, and sense of time, not only of hours and days, but also of decades; the body regulates its own childhood, puberty and maturity, stops growing when it should no longer grow, and brings forth a wisdom tooth at a time when no one of us ever thought of it. Our conscious wisdom has nothing to do with our wisdom tooth. It also manufactures specific antidotes against poison, on the whole with amazing success, and it does all these things with absolute silence, without the usual racket of a factory, so that our superfine metaphysician maynot be disturbed and is free to think about his spirit or his essence."

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