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Topic: Quimby Manuscripts
Section: Chapter 16 - Disease and Healing, part 1 of 5
Table of Contents to this Topic
Chapter 16 DISEASE AND HEALING
[Dr. Quimby is so greatly interested in calling attention to the power of human beliefs in relation to all man's troubles that he does not give much space to a description of the natural world, does not state his idea of matter very definitely, and often leaves the reader wondering how he distinguishes between matter and "spiritual matter" or the mind of opinions. He is especially interested to point out that matter can be "condensed into a solid by mind action," that it undergoes a "chemical change" as a result of mental changes. He sometimes speaks of it as an "error" or shadow, as "an idea seen or not, just as it is called out." Whatever its objective reality in the Divine purpose, matter in itself is inanimate, there is no intelligence in it. His view of matter is idealistic, therefore, and in considering his theory of disease and its cure we need to bear in mind that matter for him is plastic to thought. The ordinary or external mind which is "spiritual matter" is the intermediate term. Above this mind is the real man with his spiritual senses, his clairvoyant and intuitive powers. The final term is Wisdom, making known its truths in so far as there is responsiveness and intelligence on man's part. This is said to possess a real "identity." To find himself as an "identity" in every truth, man should know himself as the "scientific man," able through Wisdom's help to banish all errors from the world.]
THE RECEPTION OF THIS GREAT TRUTH
I BELIEVE now that the time has nearly arrived when the people will be prepared to receive a great truth that will give an impulse and set. them investigating a subject which will open to their minds new and enlarged ideas of themselves and show man what he is and how he makes himself what he is. It has been said that to know himself is the greatest study of man, but I say that for man to know his error is greater than to know himself; for every person is to himself just what he think he is, but to know his error (1) is what ought to be his greatest study. For the last twenty-five years (2) I have been trying to find out what man is and at last have come to know what he is not. To know that you exist is nothing, but to know what disturbs you is of great value to every person. The world has been developing itself, and we look on and never think it is ourselves. Through ignorance of Wisdom we have made a man of straw and given him life, intellect and a head in the image of our own creation. To this image we have given the idea "man" with certain capacities such as life and death, and have made him subject to evils such as disease. To the man of straw the words I have quoted are applied. This man of straw has been trying to find himself out and in doing this has nearly destroyed or blotted out his real existence. So in looking for man I found it was like the old lady looking for her comb and finding it in her hair. I found I was the very idea I was looking for. Then I knew myself and found that what we call man is not man but a shadow of error.
(1) That is, his bondage to opinion, his mistaken view of his body, and its supposed tendencies to disease.
(2) This was written in 1865,
Wisdom is the true man and error the counterfeit. When Wisdom governs matter all goes well, but when error directs all goes wrong. So I shall assume the old mode of calling man as he is called and. make myself a principle outside of man, just as man makes all "laws of God," as he calls them outside of himself. So man admits he is not with God or a part of Him. Therefore he belongs to this world and expects to die and go to his God. So he lives all his life in bondage through fear of death. Now, this keeps him sick and to avoid all these fears and troubles that disturb his mind and make him sick he invents all sorts of false ideas and never thinks they are the cause of his misery. He invents all sorts of disease to torment himself. Standing outside of these ideas I know that they are the works of man; that God or wisdom has never made anything to torment mankind. Error has created its own misery.
Having had twenty-five years of practice I have seen the working of this evil on mankind, how it has grown till it is increasing and at the present time there is more misery from disease than all other evils put together, and every effort to arrest this evil only makes it worse. Within the last seven years I have sat with more than twelve thousand different persons and have taken their feelings and know what they believe their diseases were and how each person was affected, but I knew the causes. Therefore I know what I say is true that if there had never been a physician in the world there would not have been one-tenth of the suffering. It is also true that religious creeds have made a very large class of persons miserable, but religion like all creeds based on super?stition must give way to Science. So superstition in regard to religion will die out as men grow wise, for wisdom is all the religion that can stand and this is to know ourselves not as man but as a part of Wisdom. But disease is making havoc among all classes, and it seems as though there would never be an end of it unless some one should step in and check this greatest of evils.
I have been in the habit of sitting with patients separately and explaining the disease and the cure till I have come to the conclusion that I can cure persons that are sick if I am in their company, and the number only helps to hasten the cure. I have no doubt that I can go to an audience of one thousand persons and cure more persons in one lecture than can be cured by all the doctors in the state of Maine in the same time, for I know that one-half my patients I do not see as long as to explain what I should make clear in one lecture of two hours. There are a great number of sick who are not able to be cured; for man's life and happiness in this enlightened world (made so by the profession) has made dollars and cents the test, so if a man has not these he must suffer. So my object is to relieve man of some of his sufferings. I am sent for to go to different parts of the country and have always found a large class of poor sick persons not ready to be cured. I want to relieve those who are not able to be cured, and also give directions to minds so that this wisdom shall govern man. It is necessary to say that I have no religious belief. My religion is my life, and my life is the light of any wisdom that I have. So that my light is my eye, and if my eye is the eye of Truth my body is light, but if my eye or wisdom is an opinion my body is full of darkness.
It may be necessary to explain what calls out my arguments. All that I write is intended to destroy some belief of the patient. A belief is what I call a disease, for that embraces the cause and it sets the people to reasoning until their systems are prepared like the earth to receive the idea, and when the phenomenon is brought forth the doctors call that disease. Belief in an idea that cannot be seen by the natural eye is as real as belief in the natural world. Everything that does not come within the natural senses is a belief. Disease is of this class. The phenomenon is admitted and to make man believe it involves a notion that it exists. It does not follow that he is diseased any more than it follows that a man is in the war because he believes there is one. Yet he may be liable to be caught. War like some diseases has its exempts. For instance, small-pox. A man can procure a certificate from a physician that he has had it or has been vaccinated. So the belief makes the thing to the person believing it and as the belief becomes general every person is affected more or less. Children are not exempts, they suffer if they are in the vicinity of the disease, for their parents' sins. Their diseases are the effect o f the community. These results come from the older inhabitants who embody the superstitions of the world, and they are as tenacious of their beliefs.
See how the South fights for slavery under the belief that it is a living institution. (1) The people believe the same of disease and each one will fight for his peculiar disease till truth exterminates both. One is as dangerous as the other and each has its sympathizers and traitors. Take a person sick under the law of disease which he knows will kill him if the law is put in force. People are as anxious to condemn themselves by insisting that they have a certain disease as a rebel is to swear that a Yankee is an abolitionist: each is working to have the victim condemned. Both may be summed up as the effect of man's belief.
(1) This was written, Dec. 1862.
Religious sects fight for their various beliefs which contain not a word of truth and the world has to suffer the consequences. The medical faculty, spiritualists, and every class who have wit enough to have a belief, keep up a warfare to keep their beliefs alive that they may obtain a living. But when these are cut by truth they wither and die out and from the ashes comes freedom or Science. War is always engendered by beliefs. Slavery is the only name for all evils that have affected man, of which disease is one. They all have to pass through a sea of blood before their heads can be crushed and they can be handled by reason. Religious opinions waded through blood before reason could control the mind, and then the warfare was carried on by words. Universal freedom has not yet gone through the sea of blood, but it is now in the storm and God only knows how it will come out. The belief which makes man bind his fellow man is very strong, for it appeals to religious prejudices, and these are really at the bottom of many evils. The natural man believes slavery is right and he is religious in this belief, although in everything else he is governed by party-interest. Every sick person is suffering either directly or indirectly from the effect of some belief, therefore my arguments are to show the absurdity of the beliefs whatever they are, for beliefs are catching. The child is affected by its parents' belief, which is as real an enemy to health as slavery is to freedom. Science is the true man, belief is the enemy of happiness, for every one knows that a man will die before he will give up his belief. So when a person has a belief in any particular disease, he will not give it up until it destroys the body, although he knows that fighting is his own destruction.
When I sit by the sick I find them either like a child or a person in a belief. If they have no ideas that come within their senses they are like one affected by surrounding circumstances, as a child whose parents are fighting is frightened and perhaps killed by the parents' evil acts. When I have a patient who is frightened by some feeling in the system which has not been named, the patient is like a spectator in a riot who finds himself attacked and violently abused when he has been quiet all the time. I have to reason with such persons and convince them of their error, and as they learn the truth they are safe. I take the same course with such as I should with a stranger who has been attacked by a mob. I enter the crowd, take the man by the shoulders lead him out and befriend him till he is safe.
A belief in a disease is like a belief in any other evil, but there are those who putting entire confidence in the leaders accept certain beliefs. Such are honest and are the hardest patients to cure, for they attach a religious respect to their beliefs which are their very life. They often say they would rather die than lose their belief.
A belief going to establish any religion is held on to as a child holds to its mother when afraid of strangers. I frequently have a hard battle with such where their beliefs make them sick before they will relax. They will sometimes weep and lament as though I were really going to take their life. As I have no belief to give them I try to show the absurdity of their errors. It will be seen that in all I write my reasoning is to destroy some belief that my patient has. Rheumatism or the state of mind affecting people in that way is caused by various beliefs. Their minds as I have said are deceived into bad company and they have to suffer the consequences of their acts, although their intentions may have been good.
I will state a case. A man uses tobacco freely, both chews and smokes. His wife being of a sympathetic nature enters into his error to try to reform him. This brings her into the same company that he is in. She is regarded as bad as her husband, she is beaten until blood starts out on her elbows, shoulders, and limbs, and her hands become swollen and sore so that she cannot work. Meantime her husband appears as well as ever. This is taking a disease from sympathy and it shows that such evils are catching in the world.
To such I stand in this way. I take the symptoms and know who is the devil. I expose him, and when I make the patient know him, the devil leaves, the error is cast out, the belief leaves and the patient is cured. This is a process of reasoning from cause to effect, not from effect to effect. The world reasons to make one disease in order to cure another. I destroy the disease by showing the error and showing how the error effects the patients. This was what Jesus tried to prove, so all His acts and talk went to prove the truth of what I have said. Make man responsible for his beliefs and he will be as cautious what he believes as he is in what he sees or does, for he will see that just as he measures out to another so it will be measured out to him. But does the clergy follow out this rule? Do they not dictate to their audience what to believe and what not to believe, without the least regard to their health? Now, to suppose a man can believe one thing and still have a contrary effect is not true. If you make a person believe that he is in danger of any trouble he will be affected according to his belief. So all beliefs are to be analyzed like food or drink to see what it contains and see how it acts upon the body, for the belief being in the mind it shows itself on the body. So when Jesus talked He had some object to obtain for the happiness of man. But to suppose Jesus came from heaven to destroy one error and establish another is to suppose that our beliefs alter the wisdom of God or make a man believe what he cannot understand to insure his happiness in a world that is based on belief. Now, I understand Jesus; I understand Him to condemn all beliefs and show that man is better off without a belief than with one.
What good is it to me whether I believe one thing or another if my belief does not affect my life? If my belief affects my life I get the benefit or misery of my belief, but it does not alter the wisdom of God or alter any of His plans. So if there is a world beyond this my belief cannot change it; my belief may change me. So if Jesus had no higher motive than merely introducing a belief He was like all others who wanted to establish peculiar views. But Jesus never meant to speak of what we call death. His death was the end of sin or error. To lose opinions and find His truth was life, not death. The Wisdom that taught this did not embrace the words "life" and "death."
WORKS THE FRUIT OF OUR BELIEF
What proof can be brought to show that a man is just what he thinks he is? My answer is: his works. Man is known by his works, for they are the fruit of belief and where there is no fruit there is no belief, in that case man is either perfectly ignorant or perfectly wise, and stops work because he is God and God has finished His work. Now man is not supposed to be either of the two, God or an idiot. So he must be a being between both. That makes him a man of opinions and beliefs. To show whether the works are of God or error is the great aim of man. Both cannot be of God, for one reasons from what he believes and the other from what he knows.
I will introduce a man of error who bases his knowledge on others' belief, still thinking he has an opinion of his own. The effect of his wisdom or belief is seen by its fruits. The younger son is he who listens to the wisdom of his brother and sees him contradict himself and shows him his absurdity. This is the scientific man and he is not known, for when the man of opinions is destroyed by the scientific man he is not seen at all. Take two persons talking about mesmerism; one never heard anything, the other is posted in all things pertaining to the law of mesmerism. Let A. he the wise man and B. the ignorant man. A. sits down and expounds the principles of mesmerism. He reads from those who have written on the subject, how a man sits down, takes hold of another's hand, looks him in the eye, and at length the man is affected; his eyes close and he goes to sleep. Then B. asks how this is done. Here comes the mystery or "Science" of A. Finally it enters the head of A. to go to the world of spirits. Here is a large field for operation. C. finds the dead and explains about them to A. and B. By this time they have become so wise that their light has lit up the whole world of spirits, so that everything is perfectly plain. This is as far as they can go. The whole world stops here and here ends mesmerism according to the world's belief. At last there comes a report that spirits made their appearance at Rochester, and raps and table tipping take place. Then B. asks A. how he explains these things. A. "It is by the presence of electricity." B. "I cannot believe that, I want to see something of it." So they go to a medium and everything goes to prove the belief of the medium that it is spirits. One rap means "yes" and two means "no," and these prove the spirits. B. asks A. what he thinks of that. A. says "It is a development of animal magnetism." B. says "No, I believe it must be spirits." Here is a difference of opinion. B. is as well posted as A. The medium agrees with C. B. believed A. till A. showed his ignorance, then B. embraced the opinion of the medium. So it goes on. One opinion is believed till some other opinion comes up that cannot be explained, then some one states an opinion and the multitude follow.
Like the rest of the world I began with no belief or opinion. Like a child I wanted to see. As B. did, I asked A's explanation and took it, then I went to work to prove it and did prove beyond a doubt according to my belief that it was governed by electricity. At last I ran against a stumbling block which upset all my theory and left me without anything but the bare experiments. I then went to work to prove my belief, and the experiments proved anything I believed, and I concluded that man is just what he thinks he is to himself. I have waded through the mire of ignorance, crossed the ruin of superstition, have walked on the water of my belief and at last landed on the shores of Wisdom, where I have found the other branch of truth that tells me that the water or error had dried up so that the dry land of reason is ready to receive the seed of Wisdom into the earth, or mind of man. As I have passed through the fire of superstition and been baptized in the water of error and belief, I have come up out of the water and the heavens or Wisdom are open to me and I see Wisdom in the form of a dove or sympathy saying to every one: "Behold, the truth hath prevailed to open the book of superstition; it hath broken the seal and introduced a new form of reasoning."
I have no belief in regard to religion of any kind, neither have I any belief in another world of any kind. (1) I have no belief in what is called death. In fact I am a total disbeliever in any wisdom that ever taught any religion outside of man's belief. Then you may ask what kind of a man are you without a belief ? I have a belief like all men but it does not apply to what I have been talking about. I have a belief on all subjects that are agitating the country.
(1) Quimby sincerely believed in the real spiritual world of the living, in contrast with "the other world" of the dead.
I believe there was one person who had these same ideas and to that person I give all the credit of introducing this truth into the world, and that was Jesus. I have no doubt of His being the only true prophet that ever lived who had ideas entirely superior to the rest of the world. Not that He as a man was any better, but He was the embodiment of a higher Wisdom, more so than any man who has ever lived.
Perhaps you do not understand my meaning. Take the discovery of electricity. There were men who had conceived some of the ideas of Franklin,-not that Franklin was of himself the discoverer or the person who reduced it to a science, but his mind was the medium that brought the wisdom of the wise into focus, so that an experiment might be made to prove the principle. The wisdom of the world is not confined to any person, but when it begins to condense into a truth it must exhibit itself through some medium. This great truth called Christ was exhibited through the man Jesus, the same as a great truth was exhibited through the man Franklin and called "electricity." There was a belief at the time of destruction or overthrow of this great truth at the crucifixion of Jesus that it should rise again. Since then there has been a constant development of facts showing that there was some wisdom or power superior to man and the superstition of the world has kept it down, as the superstition of slavery has kept Freedom in chains.
Now, I as a man claim no preeminence or superiority over other men, but admit my superiority to the learned and wise. . . . I have none of these sins to answer for. I am free from all that false religion. But I had to contend with the devil or error for more than twenty years before I was free. Now  I stand as one that has risen from the dead or error into the light of truth,-not that the dead or my error has risen with me: I have shaken off the old man or my religious garment, and put on the new man that is Christ or Science, and I fight these errors and show that they are all the makings of our own mind. As I stand outside of all religious belief, how do I stand alongside of my followers? I know that I, through this Wisdom, can go and impress a person at a dis?tance. The world may not believe it, but to the world it is just such a belief as the belief in spirits. To me it is a fact and this is what I shall show.