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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Disease—White Swelling

Dr. Franklin when asked how he accounted for the fact that a fish weighed nothing in a pail of water said, “I never saw the experiment tried.” There are many such fish stories. We take such an one for truth when there is not the slightest evidence of its truth. It stands only on an opinion. In this way we become superstitious, conceited and bigoted. All religion is based on such fish stories that cannot stand the test of science. Disease is one of this kind of fish, all swimming in the ocean of thought. This was the ocean that Jesus walked on. The water was their beliefs. This ocean was where Paul's barque lay, and this was where Jesus' disciples fished when Jesus walked by the seashore or public opinion and seeing Peter and Simon fishing for ideas or converts to the Jewish religion said, “Follow me,” that is, learn the truth. So to teach the gospel of science, you became fishers or teachers of science instead of opinions. Into this sea of opinions Jesus told Peter to cast his hook and catch an idea or fish and he would find a piece of silver or find a truth in this idea which was worth saving.

Every idea contains a truth and the error is the dross. Now if men would learn enough to separate the truth from the error, then they might throw nets into the sea and draw them up and separate the good from the bad. But as it is now they have no standard by which to tell what is true and what is false, for the people are living in darkness and choose darkness rather than light, for their acts are evil. Let men apply this test to the medical and religious leaders. What proof have you of what you assume to be true, only what you have heard, and you are met with this answer: the Bible. Now the Bible does not speak at all, only as someone interprets it, and this interpretation is an opinion, for it is not tested by any scientific act.

If a teacher in mathematics makes an assertion, he proves it so there is no doubt about it. But the priest gives his opinion and we must take it for a truth. This is also true of the medical faculty. They give you an opinion for a truth. Man believes it and here is where he gets himself into trouble. Now apply Franklin's test. Don't believe in what is told you without proof nor attempt to account for it. No one will deny that a sensation can be made on a person. Now this sensation is one thing and the proof is another. I will show you how these two ideas affect man. A physician called on me who was lame with what he called a white swelling on his knee. It was true the knee was swollen, so to deny that the disease was on his knee would be to him absurd. To admit it to myself was as absurd as it would be to him to say the disease was in his mind.

Now here was a fair difference of opinion. To cure him was to change his mind or destroy his disease. The swelling we both admitted, but the cause was the thing in dispute. Now his belief in the white swelling was a part of his identity or wisdom. It was a reality that man could have a white swelling or a disease called by that name. Now I knew that God never made a disease or idea outside of man. I knew that man could invent ideas and condense his belief into a phenomenon that the world would call disease after man's belief. To me the belief was the disease and as I have no belief about my identity in regard to a white swelling, I could see that he was laboring under a false idea. This made the trouble. So then a controversy must come between the physician and myself before I could destroy his belief or disease. So now I must introduce the physician to let you know what he has to say in his own behalf. For his belief was in danger, and his disease being his belief and his belief being his life, to destroy his life or disease was to change his mind. Thus he could lose his belief and find his life in the truth that sets him free.

I will give the substance of my first visit. My ideas to him were like his ideas to me. He thought I was arguing to change his belief to mine, but I was reasoning with him, while he was arguing with me. Now the doctor at first believed that what I was going to talk about was nothing but a desire to have my way, not that I believed that what I said had anything to do with his trouble. You see that the point that separated us was this. What had I to cure? Was it the knee or his belief? To him it was the knee, but to me it was his belief. Now if I addressed myself to him and not to his knee, but to him, he wished me to address myself to his knee as the person. Yet he would not allow that his knee was intelligent, though at the same time he would tell how it felt, what trouble it made him, etc. So, of course, I commenced by telling him how he felt. I directed my conversation to him, not to his knee. He admitted that I told him how he felt, but he put all the feeling in his knee. I put his feeling in his senses and not in his knee. So here was where we differed.

To cure him was to detach his senses from his belief and then his wisdom would be the cure. So I said, Your disease is in the mind. (Dr.) I put it in my knee. (Quimby) Does your knee feel? (Dr.) No. (Q) Then it is you that feels and not your knee. (Dr.) You are too deep for me, I do not see the point you are at. I know my knee is swollen and it hurts me to lay any weight upon it. (Q) Then you admit that you can bear weight on your knee so as to hurt you. (Dr.) Yes. (Q) Then the one that bears the weight is the one that feels the pain. Now is there any pain in the weight? (Dr.) No. (Q) Then the one that bears the weight is not the weight, and the part that the weight bears on is not the one that bears. So that there must be some intelligence outside of the weight and the thing borne on or the knee. Now this something that knows all this that I have said is not matter, it is yourself, your senses and all that makes up the man. Now the weight or body is matter under the direction of the intelligence. So if the intelligence of this world's belief guides you, then your wisdom is enslaved by your opinion and your opinion is the keeper of your body. Your opinion and body is matter or mind and as your senses are in your belief or opinion, you speak of yourself as matter and of course you are in your knee, as much as a criminal is in his prison, who is confined for some crime. Your knee is your prison and your belief embraces your senses and you are in your belief as a criminal, and when you address me, you speak from your prison and you speak like all men who believe in disease. You speak the truth to yourself but to me you speak a lie and the devil is its father and he was a liar from the beginning.

Now when you learn that mind is matter and your belief is matter, then you will see that whatever you believe you can create and whatever you create takes form just according to your idea. Now you believe in the idea white swelling, so that any sensation in the knee that would draw your attention to it will suggest the idea and a phenomenon is created according to your belief. Then you bring the phenomenon as proof to show you were right in your first impression, when you really created the idea yourself. The trouble is in the way we express ourselves. The doctor said his knee felt badly, therefore the bad was in his knee. “My knee makes me feel badly”—he would have separated himself from his knee. Then he would have answered right, and then I should have asked him, What do you think produced this swelling that makes you feel so badly? He of course could not say, only give an opinion.

Now I told him I would tell him what made the swelling in his knee. So I said, You must have had a sudden shock that affected your mind. This shock contained no disease or opinion. For instance, suppose you should be thrown from a carriage onto the ground. The shock given to you disturbed your mind. This disturbance you located in the hip and here was where you first complained. All this contained nothing but a fright on you. But being frightened lest you had injured the hip, you would favor it the same as if it was injured. So to favor it, you kept the leg stiff from the knee to the foot and moved the upper portion of the body, letting the body bend from the hip. So you would bring the weight on the well leg by keeping the lame one stiff. This kept the ankle stiff, so that when the body swung forward, the ankle being stiff, it strained the muscles in the back part of the leg from the hip to the knee. This sensation in the knee that you made for fear of injuring the hip frightened you, and you began to locate your trouble in the knee. This caused the knee to swell and the swelling you called a white swelling. So to favor this, you kept your ankle stiff. This made more pain, and at last the knee was pronounced to have a white swelling. This was a disease, after the opinion of the medical faculty.

1864

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