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Topic: Quimby Manuscripts
Section: Chapter 16 - Disease and Healing, part 5 of 5
Table of Contents to this Topic
HEALTH AND DISEASE
Disease is that part of the mind that can be compared to a wilderness. It is full of erroneous opinions and false ideas of all kinds, and it opens a field for speculators to explore. . . . When I sit by a sick person he tells me the story of his travels, and his experience of the evils that beset him in this wilderness. The scientific character is like the prodigal son, it desires to enter this land of mystery to see what it can gain. . . . As health is the thing most desired, to find out how to keep it and when lost how to restore it, is the object of our journey into this territory.
The question may be asked, What is health? I know of no better answer than this: it is perfect wisdom, and just as a man is wise is his health; but as no man is perfectly wise no man has perfect health. Ignorance is disease, although not accompanied by pain. Pain is not disease itself, but is what follows disease. According to my theory, disease is a belief, and where there is no fear there can be no pain; for pain is not the act but the reaction of something which creates pain.
But, says some one, I never thought of pain till it came. But if it came something must have started it. Therefore it must be an effect, whether it came from some place or from ourselves. I take the ground that it is generated in ourselves, and that it must have a cause. Every one knows that in his natural state a person is sensitive to what is called pain, and if his sensitiveness is destroyed he shows no signs of pain. But to suppose his senses are destroyed because he feels no pain is not correct: his senses [or consciousness] may be detached from his body and attached to another idea, so that he is not sensitive to any effect upon the body which in his natural state would give him pain. This shows that pain is in the mind, like all trouble, though the cause may be in the belief or body.
For instance, suppose a tumor appears on the body, the person feeling no sensation or trouble from it. He consults a physician who, after examining it, asks the man if he has shooting pains and hot flashes. The man says, "No, why do you ask the question?" The doctor replies that it looks like a cancer, and then explains the nature and symptoms of the disease. In the course of an hour the man feels shooting pains. Now where is the pain, in the tumor, or in the belief in a cancer? I answer, in the belief. . . . Error gives direction to the mind, and a cancer is formed just as far as the belief is received by the patient. Every thought is a part of a person's identity, and if it contains a belief he must suffer the penalty of his acts; for to believe is to act.
LEARNING TO HEAL
How can a person learn to cure the sick? As a pupil in mathematics learns to work out a problem. Every word is supposed to have a meaning. Now words are like nuts, some are full, some partially full, some are empty, the food or wisdom is in the word, and if the word contains no wisdom, then it is like husks or froth, it fails to satisfy the desire of the person who seeks the substance. Natural food is to satisfy the natural man and spiritual food or wisdom is to satisfy the inner or scientific man. The child before it begins to know is fed by natural food, while its spiritual food is opinions expressed in words. Therefore as I said, words contain more or less truth; all are not full and some are empty; but when a person speaks a word that contains the real substance and applies it to the thing spoken of, that is what is called the bread of life and he neither hungers nor thirsts for wisdom in regard to that. The sick have been deceived by false words and have fed on food that contains no wisdom. Hungry and thirsty they apply to strangers for food; they ask for health or the bread of life and the natural man taking bread as a natural substance, brings bread to them, but their state of mind does not hunger for natural food, therefore to them it is a stone.
There is a bread, which if a man eat, he is filled, and this bread is Christ or Science. It is the body of Christ. Jesus says, "whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life." "For my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink." The Jews of His days were like the scholars of the present day. Bread is bread, and blood is blood, and they say, "how can this man give us his flesh to eat?" They do not understand that Wisdom is a body and opinion a shadow. The natural man's belief is his body, and to eat and drink the world's wisdom is to eat condemnation or disease.
Now I will illustrate a cure. I sit down by a sick person and you also sit down, I feel her trouble and the state of her mind, and find her faint and weary for the want of wisdom. I tell her what she calls this feeling that troubles her, and knowing her trouble my words contain food that you know not of. My words are words of wisdom and they strengthen her, while if you should speak the same words and the sound should fall on the natural ear precisely as mine, they would be only empty sounds and the sick would derive no nourishment from them.
I will describe this food that you may taste it and be wiser for your meal. In order to prove that food satisfies a person's hunger, I must find a person who is hungry, and in order to prove that my words satisfy the sick, I must take one who hungers and thirsts for the bread of life or health. Being weak and faint from exhaustion she applied to a physician for food to satisfy her desire, for she was famished for the want of wisdom in regard to her trouble. Instead of giving her wisdom which would have satisfied her, he in his ignorance gave her these words full of poison. "Your trouble is a cancer in the breast." As she received these words she became more faint and exhausted till she became sick at her stomach. She ate of this poisonous food till seeds of misery began to agitate the matter, the idea began to form and a bunch appeared in the breast. As she attached the name cancer to the bunch the name and the bunch became one body. The physician's words contained the poison, the poison pro?duced the bunch, their ignorance associated the name with the bunch and called it cancer.
I was called to see the lady and being perfectly ignorant of her trouble, I felt the faint and hungry feeling and as I felt the effect of the doctor's food or opinions on her, I said, The food you eat does not nourish you, it gives you a pain in the breast. This I said in reference to the way she reasoned in regard to her trouble.
"How do you know?" said she. I then told her that she thought her trouble was a cancer and she admitted that it was so. I then told her she had no cancer except what she made herself. I will admit the swelling, said I, but it is of your own make. You received the seed from the doctor, and he prepared the mind or matter for its growth, but the fruit is the work of the medical faculty.
Let us see how much the idea cancer exists in truth. The name exists before the bunch, then the bunch before it ap?peared must have been in the mind, for it was not in sight when the word was first applied to it, or when you were first told that you had one.
You know that you can be affected by another mind. Now I wish to show you that every phenomenon that takes form in the human body is first conceived in the mind. Some sensation is felt which we cannot account for, we then conjure up some idea which we create into a belief, and soon it is condensed into a. form and a name given to it. Then every phenomenon taking the name of disease, is a pattern of some false idea started without the least foundation in truth.
Now, this bunch I call a phenomenon, for I cannot call it a cancer, because if I do I admit a thing outside of the mind. The senses are the man independent of flesh, that is one thing, the word cancer is another. Now, I want to find the matter that the word is applied to. To say a thing exists and to prove its existence are two different things. If any doctor will tell where that cancer was before it was in sight, I will ask him how he knows. Let him say it was in the blood, that the state of the blood indicates the presence of cancerous humor.
Now, do you deny that I told your feelings? "Certainly not." Then have I a cancerous humor? "By no means." Then there is no wisdom in that argument. Again, he never knew you had an ill-feeling till you told him. Then where did he get his knowledge? Not from you for you never thought of a cancer. It must have been from what you said about your pain. Suppose I had said that I felt these same pains and you had kept your peace, then according to his theory I must have a cancerous humor. Now, I know that I have no humor nor had I an idea or pain till I sat by you, therefore his story of a cancer is a lie made out of whole cloth, without the least shadow of truth. It is like the stories of Sinbad the Sailor, or some witch fables that have no existence in truth. Then you will ask, what is this bunch? It is a bunch of solid matter, not a ghost or any invisible thing, but it was made by yourself, and no one else.
I will tell you how you made it. You remember I spoke of your having a heat. This heat contained no good or ill, but it was a mere decomposition of your body brought about by some little excitement. It troubled you, then your superstitious fear of disease began to haunt you in your sleep, creating an action in the part of your breast where the error had made a stand. You commenced then to foster the idea till at last you have excited the muscles to such an extent that the bunch has appeared. If now I have proved the cure I have affected it and the bunch will disappear.
Do you wish to know why? "Yes." Can the effect re?main when the cause is removed? "I presume not." How do you feel ? "I feel easy." How do you feel in regard to your trouble, and in regard to what I have said? "I think you are right, and it looks more reasonable than the doctor's story." Then your senses have left his opinion and have come to my wisdom. This is the new birth, you have risen from the dead and you are free from the doctor's ideas. This truth has destroyed death, and brought life and health through Science. Now, I say unto you, Take up your bed or this Truth and go your way, and when the night of error comes spread out the garment of Wisdom that enfolded Jesus, and wrap yourself in its folds or Truth, till the sun of Life shall shine upon your body, and you rise free from the evils of the old belief. (1)
What is strength? This question sounds as though it might be easily answered, but on consideration it is not so easy. Words are so misused that it is impossible to get at the original meaning, feeling or state when the word was introduced. If you choose to apply the word strength to machinery, then I have no fault to find with the definition, but if it is applied to man also the definition is wrong; for man's strength is in his will, and that is independent of the thing you call "strong." If you say, "that is a strong lever," then it does not include the force that is applied to it. If the person who first used the word applied it to his wisdom as a powerful intellect, then it will only apply where there is intellect, the quality of which is taken into account. This confusion of meaning makes a great deal of trouble, for we put intelligence into everything that has resistance instead of in the intelligence having the strength. A man's legs are a combined lever, and if you mean that they have strength you might as well say that a lever has strength, for one is as much alive as the other and neither of itself can do anything.
The word strength does not convey the author's feelings when he made the expression. He either meant to apply it to wisdom or to matter. If the author meant to give a name to the phenomenon called will, then it makes a vast difference in reasoning about strength. For instance, a person is "weak" in the back or limbs. Now the medical faculty prescribe strengthening linaments, as though there were intelligence in the medicine and it imparted strength to the weak part. This absurd idea is carried out through all our lives, and it deprives man of the true wisdom that might make him happy and intelligent.
My theory disproves the assertion, for I have seen that the word strength is a mere word with no more meaning than to lead man astray.
The corner stone of the medical science is based on this word strength. This or that thing is said to give a person strength. In the case of a fever the whole invention of the medical faculty is brought to play to discover some medicine that will give strength. The chemist is employed to discover the chemical properties which such and such things contain, and numberless articles are said to contain strengthening virtue. The food is strengthening, the air is strengthening and you can find no end to the strengthening things given to the sick, and all the while they are growing weaker.
Every one knows that a horse is stronger than a man, it cannot be the food, for a man fed on grass would die accord?ing to our belief, while the animal will live, and so he will live on the same food as man and still grow no stronger. Man puts the construction on the word to suit himself. If the power applied to man's will is called strength; the thing that will is applied to is not called strong. You may ask what this has to do with the curing of disease. I will tell you, for it is the very thing to correct. There is such a term as resistance and this is opposed to strength. For instance, you wish to raise a stone, the wish that wants to raise a stone is one thing, and the stone is another. If wisdom chooses to apply its strength through the arms its motive or will is applied according to the idea of resistance. If a horse is attached to a dead weight it applies its will or strength and if it fails it makes another effort to overcome the resistance. Strength is intelligence; it embraces all man's wisdom, and if his wisdom is of God or Science his strength is not in himself, and to be wise is to be strong.
I will illustrate my idea of strength as I apply it to the sick. When I use the word I couple it with skill. These two are governed either by natural wisdom or scientific wis?dom. I will state a case of my own experience. I treated a man who had lost the use of his lower limbs, he could not move them when he was sitting in his chair. The doctor called it spinal affection. When he attempted to rise he had not strength enough in his spine to keep his body erect, he would give out at the pit of the stomach, and this took all the power from his legs. This was the doctor's theory and the man believed it and applied his will or strength according to his wisdom. His hope was cut off. He believed the spine was diseased and so did all his friends and physicians. According to my theory his body was like the weight to be moved, his will or strength was applied to his body just as it would be to a lever which you believed would break if you applied too much power to it; his reason directed the power, and being deceived he could do nothing. To cure him, or make his legs strong and his spine well, was to first convince him that there never was any strength in the idea body, that strength came from some other source.
Every one knows that, the will being put into action, an effect is produced called strength. For instance, a person by the power of his will can hold another. What is the grasp? Strength, or is it the will applied to the hand? No one supposes that the hand would catch hold and grasp unless directed by another power. This power is the will governed by the wisdom and the effect is called strength. Strength is the name of the act, so will without an act or motive is no will or strength and availeth nothing. So to sit till his legs grew strong would be as absurd as to make a. steam engine and after it was ready to work sit and wait till the wood made its own fire, its steam, and let its steam on to the piston head. For a man that has lost his strength to sit still and wait for it to come is just as absurd as to prepare a clay bin and then wait for it to make a vessel. Such an idea of strength is so absurd that it takes away a man's reasoning faculties. Let man know that this darkness is the want of right direction to his ambition, then his strength is in putting his will into action, both are the result of his wisdom. Destroy a man's prospects and happiness, and you destroy his strength. So as you rouse his ambition and will, his strength comes. The course taken by the medical faculty in their mode of reasoning destroys man's natural powers and makes him. a mere tool in the hands of a quack. Every man who reasons that strength can be made by food, air, or rubbing, or any linament, is a fool, although he may be honest.
I have tried the experiment and know. I do not guess at it when I say that there is not one particle of virtue in any sort of medicine that people take to give them strength. Neither is there any kind of strength in one kind of food more than another, but it may be all summed up in this, the gratification of man's desires embraces all there is of him, and these vary according to circumstances. All men have a desire for happiness, and this desire creates an appetite, and the desire wants to be gratified. This brings up this feeling [activity] called will, and then it is forced on by wisdom to accomplish a desire. The wants of the animal are limited, therefore it is lively and happy, for it acts according to its will. It is often said that the beasts are sick. Granted, but man takes their freedom from them as well as from the human species. Let both be wild and you see a bold race.
Look at the uncultivated savage and you will not see him creeping around as though he had done some mean, dirty act, like the civilized man. Of all mean looking things a human being completely under the medical faculty is the lowest, he is as much a slave as the negro at the South, and in fact more so. Look at a sick woman suffering from some opinion that the doctors have made her believe, see the mind completely under the doctor, she is not allowed to eat or drink or even walk or think except as the family physician gives direction. The sick have given their souls to the priests and their bodies to the physicians. They then tell about the good doctor, how much he has done for them, showing that he has deprived them of all noble manly feelings, left them sick, feeble in mind and body, while the doctor struts around like a slave-driver, and the sick curl under the lash of their tongue, as the negroes under the lash of their masters. This may seem strange, but it is God's truth, that the sick are a mere tool in the hands of the medical faculty, to be treated just as they please. It never will be any better till the sick rise in their wisdom and declare their independence. You may say I am making war for my own gain, but I think I can convince any one who is out from under these slave drivers, that I could make ten dollars where I now make one. My object is to raise my fellow man to his original state. I am a white abolitionist. The blacks it is true are slaves, but their slavery is a blessing compared with that of the sick. I have seen many a white slave that would change places with the black. The only difference is that white slavery is sanctioned by public opinion. But make the slave know that he is one, and you will see a difference in the result. It is hard for me to keep myself in bounds when I think of the groans of the sick, knowing that it is all the effect of a superstitious ignorance. Does not the South quote the Bible to prove that slavery is of Divine origin? Do not the priests and doctors quote the old heathen superstition to bolster up a weak and feeble edifice just ready to crumble and crush the leaders? Is not Science raising her voice and crying aloud to the people saying how long shall it be till the old heathen idolatry shall come to an end and man shall learn wisdom and be his own master and not a slave? (1)
(1) Nov., 1861.
MIND AND DISEASE
Men create ideas which are matter. These ideas have a real existence in the spiritual world, and their power is according to the nature that is attributed to them, and the fear that men have of them. Fear of an idea thus created, on the part of its creator, condenses its matter so that it might be seen even by the natural eye, a creation composed of the loathsome characteristics conceived of by the person's own belief, an offspring of an excited and degraded mind. Such an idea is disease, the child of the devil. This disease was first one simple, uncompounded idea. But when that finally was pushed into an identity, when men were once afraid of it, then it grew rapidly, like a poisonous weed, and derived its sustenance from the very life-blood to which it owed its existence. All its horrible characteristics it draws from the mind of men, who, could they only understand what they are doing, would plant a good seed in their soil or mind, which could bear no fruit fit for disease to live on, and thus it would starve to death. . . . As mind is matter, its form can be annihilated.
The basis of Dr. Quimby's theory is that there is no intelligence, no power or action in matter of itself, that the spiritual world to which our eyes are closed by ignorance or unbelief is the real world, that in it lie all the causes for every effect visible in the natural world, and that if this spiritual life can be revealed to us, in other words if we can understand ourselves, we shall then have our happiness or misery in our own hands; and of course much of the suffering of the world will be done away with.
He does not deny that cures, as many and great as you please to claim, have taken place under the old belief, but that they were brought about by the inherent efficacy of the medicine itself he does deny.
He admits the possibility of a derangement of the bodily organs, but it is in regard to the cause of this effect that he differs from all others. Doctors consider the cause of disease to lie in the body, while he does not. The doctors have set up a standard of right and wrong with regard to health, and have made the people accept and believe it, and now disease comes from the belief in this.
When our belief embraces disease, we must be liable to it. Consumption will be in the world as long as people are under their present rulers. But when they come to understand that matter is nothing of itself except it be used by mind, and everything that is embraced in this, then consumption will no longer be in existence.
It is hard to talk about it before the science is admitted. . . . It is nothing more than or less than the Christian religion rendered intelligible by being revealed as a Science.
Happiness is not dependent on externals, but lies within us, and is the consciousness of keeping our loftier impulses free from contamination, and revealing in our acts a strength which arises from uncorrupted motives.
Disease is the effect of a wrong direction given to the mind. Unhappiness is its handmaid.
By "spiritual matter" Dr. Quimby does not mean the matter which is visible to the natural eye, but a matter which can be changed into any form which a person chooses. This mind or matter surrounds every person, and contains an expression of character. You know how often in sitting down by a person we have different impressions. For instance, we say such a person is disagreeable, another is gentle, a third selfish; and these impressions we have without being able to account for them in any way to ourselves or others. We should have had the same if we had been blind. Now that which we perceive without the aid of the natural senses is the mind or spiritual matter, or atmosphere or vapor, or whatever you choose to call it, that surrounds every one and is an index of character. This is what we come in contacts with in our intercourse with men, and through this medium we influence others and are influenced ourselves. It contains opinions, thoughts, and everything in us which can be changed.
What we know we have no opinion about. That is eternal and never can be changed. What we do not know, if we have ever been excited on the subject, we have some opinion or belief about, and that opinion or belief may be the cause of unhappiness.
In order that a disease shall be created, a shock must first be produced. You cannot move anything unless you first start it. There must be a shock, be it ever so slight, a little excitement, fright, pleasure, anything which would produce a disturbance in the system. When thus disturbed, the natural heat of the body always either increases or diminishes. Suppose you turn red. A stranger meets you and says you look flushed. That would not be likely to take down your color but would increase it. After two or three remarks of that kind you would begin to feel uncomfortable, your head would feel hot, and the heat might be so great that you would have pain, and presently you would be informed that you look feverish. That would keep up the excitement, and when you went out of doors you would be likely to cough from the irritation caused by, the upward tendency of the heat. That would frighten you a little, though you might not own it or know it. But the disturbance would keep up till some kind friend should inform you that you had taken cold, for your face was flushed and you coughed. That, mind you, is an opinion, for a person may flush and cough from excitement without any cold at all. Now you only need a little help from mistaken friends and a finishing touch from a doctor to put you into a lung, brain, or any other kind of fever they please. That, to use a very simple case, is the way a disease is made.
The countless opinions we are brought up with, and believe as much as we do in our existence, of course affect us, and we have a body according to our belief. The belief comes first, then the system changes accordingly.
Even before the child is born, it is affected by the mother, and receives its mental and physical constitution from her. After it has taken up existence on its own account, it is still affected by her, whether she speaks or not. The greater number of influences which act upon us do not come through the natural senses, and are all the more dangerous of course because unknown.
One object of Dr. Quimby's theory is to bring our spiritual existence to our senses, or rather to prove that our senses are not located in the body as we think they are. Thus we shall be able to protect ourselves.
By thoughts we are all affected, and even by the settled opinions of people, whether they trouble themselves to apply them to our case or not.
Dr. Quimby never accuses any one of imagining that they are sick. He admits every sensation that a person may claim. Indeed he takes their feelings himself, so he has positive proof that they exist independently of what the patient says.
You tell me I "look sick." I say I do not feel sick, in fact I don't know what you mean by the word, so you have to invent some story to tell me or explain by some intelligent sign. I lay my hand on my left side, you ask me what I feel. Now if I had never heard of sickness or disease, I should not know what to say, neither would I be frightened, so it would pass off without anything of any account. But you tell me that people. often die with just such a feeling as I have. This starts me, although I have no idea what you mean, my feelings not containing danger or trouble, but your opinions trouble me exceedingly. I begin now to twist and turn, not knowing what to do. This convinces you that I have disease of the heart and you try to explain to me what I have and how it affects a person. By mesmerizing me into your belief you disturb my mind and create the very idea you have invented, and at last I die just as you foretold. All this is disease and you made it. If I had never seen you nor any one wiser than myself I should not have died.