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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Health and Disease

[Originally untitled.]

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. The medical faculty, spiritualism and all forms of religious beliefs invite the people to enter under their false ideas; and 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, for it forms a great part of every person. The scientific character is like the prodigal son. It desires to enter this land of mystery to see what it can gain; therefore every person with ambition sets out for the prize and alas! ninety-nine out of a hundred fail and are cast into prison. This is the field for scientific investigation and 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, just so his wisdom is his health; but as no man is perfectly wise, no man can have perfect health for ignorance is disease, although not accompanied by pain. Pain is not disease itself but is what follows disease. According to this theory, disease is a belief, and when there is no fear there can be no pain; for pain is not the act but the reaction of something which creates pain and therefore that must take place before the reaction.

But says one, I never thought of pain till it came. Now 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. Everyone knows that a person in his natural state 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 may be detached from his body and attached to another idea so that he is not sensitive to any effect on 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 the body.

For instance, suppose a tumor appears on the body. The person, feeling no sensation or trouble from it, 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 to him like a cancer and then explains the nature and symptoms of such a disease. In the course of an hour, the man feels shooting pains, etc. Now where is the pain, in the tumor, or belief in a cancer? I answer in the belief and as mind is matter a belief is also matter governed by error. Error gives direction to the mind and a cancer is formed just as far as the belief is received by the patient.

If man reasoned from another standard, different results would follow. 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. To illustrate. Suppose while I am talking with you someone comes along and says the small pox is near here. The one who is talking with me never had it; the thought instantly makes his belief in disease and his liability to take it; therefore he is in danger, just as much as he is exposed by his belief. I stand here. I believe that he, as well as the rest of mankind, believes in the disease, but I know that God did not make the disease; therefore being the invention of man, it cannot live where there is no belief. Therefore, I am not affected. To me all disease stands in the same way and just as I have analyzed them, I find that they are the invention of man and they can be dissipated unless the impression is so strong that it is beyond the power of the operator to explain it. Such a case is like the trial of an innocent man when all the evidence is against him. It requires a skillful attorney to get such a case; but when the evidence can be sifted so as to be questioned and destroyed, as it can in nine cases out of ten, there is no danger of losing it.

We all have an influence over each other, and if we know how to direct it, the effect will be just what we want; but if we are guided by a belief, the effect will be just what we do not want when our belief is governed by fear, for our fear affects a person instead of our belief. For instance, a person wishes to influence a friend. If he is afraid that he shall not have the influence he wishes, his fears and not his desire will affect the friend. Therefore it is necessary that man should know himself, for every person is a machine, governed by the owner or someone else. When controlled by wisdom it cannot go wrong, but when guided by error, it cannot go right, for error is not wise, while wisdom is an element of itself, and if our senses are in that, all is right, but if they are in error, discord and misery follow.

To make it understood how we all stand toward each other, I will again compare this wisdom, which is an element in common, to music. Every person possessing it enjoys the pleasure that flows from a knowledge of it. This represents perfect love not of matter. It is harmony without any other character. It is something outside of every other feeling, having its whole happiness in the development of mind; therefore it acts upon man, but ignorance takes it for passion. Then misconstrued and unappreciated it becomes timid. Here is where a great mistake is made. The man that is little above the brute knows no love superior or separate from the brute, while there is a love that does not contain a particle of the animal, the love of the beautiful and wise. This is not appreciated by man and when it comes to him to lead him to a higher state, it is met by the brutal element and a belief formed that it is passion. This cold reception causes a disease and chills the element that flows from the purest fountain. The mistake lies in the false idea of love. Man, being progressive, is not always to remain a brute. His reason must elevate him from the brutal element and lead him to see and feel that the purest love that one can have for another contains no passion nor any of the brutal element. But man began to reason before he came out from the brute and judged the world by his own standard. Therefore to the impure nothing is pure, but those who have passed from the error of matter to the element of love, in which everything lives, can see how it may be misrepresented. The love of parents contains nothing spurious or animal, but let the parent or child be deceived into a belief that they are strangers and then love is changed. Again, let one know of his relation to the other and he in his wisdom discards the error of belief, while the other still is under his brutal belief.

Where then is the brutal element? In the love or in the belief? I answer; in the belief. Let all persons know this and they will understand themselves, and knowing the animal element in the male and female will know their position and safety. Then they will subdue the animal element and lead man into a higher wisdom.

I say it without fear, that religious creeds are based upon this low order of animal intelligence; but as the brutal element is pure, the effect of the belief depends on the intelligence of the person in whom the animal prevails over science.

The reformation of Jesus was intended to separate man from the brutal element that he might rise into that state where ignorance could not enter. This wisdom then will be a light to lead man into the dark and give him power over all unclean ideas and he will become a teacher to those in darkness in whom the light will spring up. This is the light that Paul saw when the scale fell from his eyes. When wisdom becomes common, everyone will use it to draw his friend out of this world into science.

It may be asked if this will not break family ties and destroy marriage contracts? Not at all, for their contracts will be carried into eternal wisdom, whereas they are now made till death. They will then be made for eternity. But says one, If I have got to live with my husband or my wife to all eternity, I shall not believe this doctrine. Let me explain. No two persons are together unless they are agreed. Therefore man and wife are not necessarily together, but most frequently are separate and trying to come together; for as I have said, when two persons agree on one thing, they are together. The difficulty in cases where persons think they are not matched lies in the mutual misunderstanding of the parties. One wants to lead or instruct the other or the one most advanced in wisdom wants the other to share his happiness, while the other knows no happiness outside of this world and cannot see beyond matter. Therefore, this party wishes to control the higher. The higher being capable of receiving the lower wisdom, it becomes deceived by opinions. Under this error it mingles with the lower element and both sink below their level and misery is the result. But cultivate the scientific life and the lower will become subject to the higher.

When two individuals set out on the road to wisdom they will develop each other and their happiness will be one. Their labor will be no greater than to gather gold without much toil. For this science opens such a field to the traveler that he cares not to eat or sleep but his happiness is in investigating the regions that lie open before him. He who enters this country must have a partner, for the whole interest lies in overcoming opposition and developing each other. To be alone in wisdom is like being alone on an island with no prospect of collecting jewels. That which gives me the most satisfaction is to develop a mind capable of improvement. It is like learning music. There is a faculty that gives the operator the greatest happiness. This science is inexhaustible and the more you have, the more you want and you will find this continually exciting you.

1865

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