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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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What Is Disease? No. 1

What is disease? Disease is what follows the disturbance of the mind; this mind is spiritual matter. When I speak of disease I do not mean to confine the word to any particular phenomenon or disturbance of the mind, but that the mind or matter is simply disturbed like the soil of the earth, ready to receive the seed or disease. This disturbance contains no knowledge or thought, any more than a house on fire would disturb the inmates or spirits who flee out, not knowing the cause. It embraces mind without truth or error, like weight set in motion without direction. Weight like mind could never set itself in motion, but being set in motion it is called mechanical power. So is mind set in motion, spiritual power. Both are governed by laws of truth or error; the fruit shows which of the two powers govern.

If it is directed by wisdom or God, no bad results can follow; but if directed by error and ignorance, as ignorance is the mind and error the enemy to truth, the truth will show which governs. As there is no knowledge in error, it sometimes follows that some good results follow, as it did in the case of Joseph being sold to the Ishmaelites. They, it is said, meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. Truth does not work in that way (that is by accident). Truth works by laws, like mathematics, error like chance.

The answer may come right or may come wrong (in error); in either way, it contains no law by which the world is any way the wiser. Ignorance is its life and truth its death. So by error comes disease and death; so by the destruction of error comes the introduction of truth or science or health; and as error is matter or mind, it is the instrument of its own destruction. The matter is not annihilated, but the mind is.

That combined substance that shows itself in persons in the form of an opinion indicates its character by a peculiar show of wisdom, superior to its followers. And when disturbed by wisdom or truth, it dies; but when not opposed, its opinions are sown into the minds of others, like seed in the ground, and comes forth in some form.

This which follows the disturbance of the mind the doctors call disease. Here is where all error lies; they take the effect for the cause. We confound the error and truth together; we take an opinion for a truth, which is an error for what we know we have no opinion of.

If opinion is knowledge, then there is no knowledge, for every person has an opinion. Now if opinion is knowledge, then why is reason introduced? This very fact proves that knowledge is the destruction of an opinion or disease, for what we know, we have no opinion about. Now disease is what follows an opinion. It is made up of mind directed by error, and truth is the destruction of an opinion.

These ideas and hundreds of others have been given to explain the effect of the mind. All of them admit disease as one thing and the mind another. This theory that mind is one thing and disease another has left the people in darkness and caused more misery than all other evils put together. It has always been admitted that a theory that cannot be put in practice is not very good.

The mind is a spiritual matter which, being agitated, disturbs the spirit. This disturbance contains no knowledge of itself, but produces a chemical change of the fluids of the system. These disturbances may be produced in various ways, for instance: by the death of a friend, or by religious excitement, witchcraft, etc. All of the above contain what is called knowledge, which is communicated to the spirit and sets it to work to form disease after the form the spirit gives the mind. The mind being the matter under the control of the spirit, it is capable of producing any phenomenon.

October 1859

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