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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Misery Contains Knowledge

The world has never admitted that misery contained knowledge; nevertheless to the science I am developing, it is as intelligent as any outside expression. Misery is the language of a person who is in trouble and whose trouble comes from the deranged state of the mind. To explain, I have said that every material form from the mineral to the animal kingdom throws off an odor. To me the odor contains no intelligence that I can perceive, though to itself, it may have a language. So every idea of man contains an odor, which is a language that man has learned and taught to others without the use of words. To a person never having heard the term heart disease, it contains no wisdom any more than any strange sound, but both may contain an essence which I can detect. The word orange contains taste and smell, etc., but no intelligence; the term heart disease contains all the feelings and symptoms of a person affected and also the danger of sudden death. To one who never heard of the heart disease, the word would produce a slight sensation, like the odor of something unpleasant; but to one knowing the disease, the odor contains knowledge and it poisons the mind till a being is created after the knowledge of the world. Wisdom detects the difference between the odor of an orange and of heart disease, and the latter affects him, who is in the belief; but if he does not believe, he is not in the knowledge and the sensation produced is like any unexplained sensation. The odor of disease is the belief and that is man's knowledge. Some odors are catching according to the belief. A story that the man in the moon would throw a stone down upon your house and kill you would not be catching to a mature person, but it would be believed by a child and the misery that follows would be the poison of the lie. Children are liable to such a belief, but as they grow older, they learn better.

Make man acquainted with the odors that affect him and no bad effects would follow, while if he remains ignorant, every odor affects him as his knowledge may direct. Each sensation which his knowledge cannot account for is attributed to some mysterious agency from another world. The truth is, man is continually affected by odors coming from things seen and believed, for a belief is as much a reality as a tree. Caspar Hauser was made sick by the odor of a rose. I am easily affected by the odors of disease. When I am in the room with a number of persons and one of them thinks he has the heart disease, I perceive it as easily as I perceive the odor of an apple. It does not always contain knowledge, for to one ignorant of its language, it is not intelligent. If a child who does not understand is told he has the heart disease, no intelligence is conveyed but a sensation is simply produced. We are continually affected by the opinions of the world, and this theory is to make man wiser than opinions and wise enough to understand odors.

February 1863

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