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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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What Is Disease? Part I—Disease, Love, Courage

What is disease? This question is often asked and it could be very easily answered by a physician of the old school by simply pointing out a person coughing and saying this man has consumption. Here is a person who coughs, raises, and etc. Now instead of calling that phenomenon by a name, explain how it came. This the doctor does not do except by another phenomenon as much in the dark as the former, so you may chase him from one lie to another till you are sick and tired and at last you only find it a mystery. Where do I stand as far as disease goes? I know that the bottom of all these phenomena is a lie in the beginning and started by a liar till it was received as true; then the phenomenon is called disease when it is the fruit of our belief.

Every idea is the embodiment of an opinion resolved into an idea. This idea has life or a chemical change, for it is the offspring of man's wisdom condensed into an idea and our senses are attached to it. For instance, you see something that you would like, an apple perhaps. You attach your senses to the idea and then the value is in the idea in the shape of love or worth or anything you may chance to have. If it is love, it is not in the idea but in the essence or author of the idea or owner. I will try to make it plainer. You see a person; at first sight you are affected and you attach your senses to the idea in the form of love. You may or may not be deceived, for love is not matter but solid, and passion is matter governed by error, and subject to love. Love is wisdom, passion is error acting on ignorance. Science is to keep the two separate or error in subjection to wisdom. When two persons meet we think that the first impression comes from the idea or person but this is not the case. The atmosphere around the idea is what is affected and this is not known to us, so we reason from a false basis not knowing ourselves.

To give you a clearer idea of what I wish to convey, I must take myself as one person and my patient as another. When I sit down I am one person, that is, I am quiet of myself, perfectly at ease, not afraid of any impression from my patient, feeling my superiority to them, and this is like strength. My wisdom is my strength; my opponent's wisdom is his error for if he knew the truth he would not want me. So there are two persons in one body or two wisdoms acting through one medium, and as the error is a coward, it assumes a sort of courage but it is the courage that arises from error. I do not know how to describe true courage, for wisdom needs no such word. I never knew that God showed any courage. It seems to be a sort of braggadocio element. If a dog shows courage, it is based on the assumption that he is not afraid, for when he is overpowered his courage fails, so it shows that what is called courage in us is an element not perfectly understood. Take away the fear of danger, then man has courage. Some men see danger where others do not and as no two men reason alike, so no two men's courage is alike. I know of no way of giving you a test of courage as well as to take myself.

When I first commenced my practice, I thought I had courage as much as my neighbors or others, but as I found that I was liable to be affected by another's feelings, my courage failed. So I used some sort of stratagem to get the advantage of my patients, and being rather reckless, I ran risks which the world would call courageous. For instance, I was not afraid of an insane man if I could get his eye; to the world this looked like courage, but to me it was wisdom. I had no fear, for I saw no danger nor harm. Here is where courage is made known. It may be classed like the mechanical powers, pressure and power. Pressure is one element of mechanics. Power is another and embraces both pressure and velocity. So courage is based on one of the elements of action, not seeing the other element reaction. Here is the difference: if you see the reaction, your courage is lost in wisdom. Now I have been trying to get wisdom in regard to the diseases of mankind, for a disease is like the rest of the evils that come within our senses.

When I first used to take the feelings of patients, it took courage to keep me from taking the disease. I know this sort of courage, it was a sort of fear lest I might be called a coward, so I would pluck up courage. But now I see that if I had known what I know now, I should not have been in any more danger than a person in a boat where the water was not over three feet deep. But my courage admitted the water twenty feet deep, rough at that, and myself in a leaky craft. Now as I began to touch bottom or get wisdom, I found that the depth of the water or the danger was in my patient's mind and I believed his story without looking for myself. This made him two men to me. After I had found out the trouble, his fears were one man and his wisdom was another. His error had possession of his wisdom that was based on error and his courage turned to fear. To make courage out of fear was to make him believe there was no danger, then his courage would come, and to destroy both let him know the truth. (To make courage out of fear was to make him believe that there was no danger.) I know that disease is the invention of man, therefore it requires no fear to prevent my saying so. It requires no courage, for there is no danger. Danger is the thing that calls out fear, and courage is the element to face it. So just as a man's fear is, so is his courage. Some never see danger, so their courage is not courage but a kind of artificial mock pride, a desire to be praised for what they do not feel, for their ignorance destroys their fear.

This was the way with myself. My ignorance made me bold for I knew no danger, but as soon as I found that I was liable to be affected by the sick, my fears came. Then just as I saw danger, my fears increased and my courage failed. But I would feel the same reckless propensity to kill disease; so I would be more cautious and more artful till I found my enemy had the same fear that I had. At last it became a sort of warfare between myself and my patient. I found that my courage was my protection and that error was an element or odor that arose from ignorance and fear was what arose from that. So I came to this conclusion: that ignorance begets error, error begets fear, fear begets courage and wisdom destroys all the above.. So as man grows wise he grows strong and his wisdom makes him happy and good, for goodness is wisdom and wisdom is the religion of Jesus, not the Christian religion, but the opposite of that.

One is the invention of man, the other is the wisdom of God which Jesus illustrated by taking a little child. I will do the same to show that goodness is a science and also that religion is a science, and all religion based on man's opinion must come down. One can be proved, the other cannot. I will show the two by the child. Everyone will acknowledge that the child's character somewhat depends upon its bringing up. If this is admitted, it shows that if the parents could see what was best for the child's happiness, much of its misery might be avoided. So you see that it is admitted that the child’s bringing up had something to do with its goodness. Here is a fact like all others in science. Sometimes it works well, sometimes ill, but when it works ill, we see how it might be avoided, showing that if we had more knowledge we could better it. This shows that science is wisdom reduced to practice. So as goodness is the result of our training, it is certain that to be good is a science, and as goodness is religion, that is a science. It is all summed up in this: that the world is made of ignorance, disease, religion and error, hypocrisy and all sorts of evils, and to be a follower of Jesus and believe in the Christ is to separate yourself from all the above and stand alone in your wisdom. This will teach you that man without wisdom is of all things the most miserable. He is liable to get into trouble by every act of his life.

1861

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