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 opens a field for speculators to explore.
~ Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
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 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 part of every person.
The scientific character, which is like the prodigal son, 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 arrested and 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 necessarily accompanied by pain. Pain is not disease itself, but is what follows disease. According to this theory, disease is a belief, and pain is what follows our fears in this belief. And where there is no fear, there can be no pain - since pain is not the act - but the reaction of something. Therefore, that “something” which creates pain must take place before the reaction.
“But,” says one, “I never thought of pain before 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 upon 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. He consults a physician, who after examining it, asks 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 cause 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 a person someone comes along and says, “The smallpox is now here.” The one who is talking with me never had it. His 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 is as well as the rest of mankind who believe in disease. But I know that God did not make the disease; therefore, it - 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, where 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.