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Human Body

20 tHE dIssEctors drEAm systems and organs Three truths about your body are it was once one cell, its alive, and its an organised, integrated whole. After that, any analysis divides it into subunits, be they cells, tissues, organs, regions, or chakras, all defined by specialization of form and function. Western physiology identifies sets of cooperative systems, each performing a major task, like blood circulation. Any given system is made up of contributions from several organs, which themselves can be localised collections of tissues, like the heart, kidneys, or intestines, or diffuse like blood vessel or nerve trees. Any tissue contains a specific array of cells, whose vast range of specialization makes it possible for huge beings like us to exist. Bathing in the warmed and modified sea we have trapped in our skin, cells are grateful slaves, told what type to become in embryonic life, then controlled by signals from elsewhere. All the bodys systems are completely interdependent, and all intercommunicate, to varying extents, with the brain sensing and controlling the activity of the whole body, receiving and sending signals as shortterm nerve impulses, or longerterm hormones. The brain can override any other processes trying to happen, especially in adults, for example Tibetan monks who master the art of sweating while naked in a snowstorm. The cartoon systems depicted opposite mostly have their own pages later in this book, but like a single page of a story, each would be meaningless considered in isolation, which dissectors sometimes forget. Much is still unknown, for instance how we can imagine the taste of our ideal food or herb of the moment. 21
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