show how we get an idea into the mind of man -
and the process of discovery rids the mind of the belief.
~ Phineas Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
The Explanation of an Error is the End of DiseaseSunday, Aug. 27, 1864
The idea that the understanding of my theory is the cure of disease is a stumbling block to the wisdom of this world. They can't see that to understand what you believe is different from believing what you do not understand. Suppose I say to you that the earth is flat, and you do not believe it. Now if I ask you to prove it is not flat, that is out of your power, unless you take the testimony of persons that have proved to the world that it is round. I presume there is not one man in ten million who could prove it either round or flat by experiments of his own; yet every person believes it round - and to them it is round.
Now suppose a certain set of philosophers start the idea that it is of some other shape, just as absurd to the world as the idea that it was round was to the people that believed it flat - and show evidence of their idea, that it is out of the power of the philosophers of our day to refute. Although they might know it was wrong, they would be changed - not only their mind (or belief), but to them the earth would take the form of the majority's belief.
You may say their belief could not alter the earth. Was the earth round to the people that believed it flat? No. Then which changed - the earth or the belief?Could you change their belief and still have the earth flat to those people? No. Then their belief is all that we have to do with; for just as a person believes, to that person it is a fact. This holds good in everything, as far as ourselves are concerned. Now as you have admitted that man can change his belief, you must admit that his belief is something, in order that it may be changed. Now if my belief embraces my senses and all that I know - then to change my belief, I change myself.
Now what does a man believe in regard to what he does not see? If I see myself, I know that fact, but I can believe that I shall not always see myself. So what we see, we know we see; and what we believe, we do not see. Now the thing seen is the phenomenon of what we believe. Suppose I ask you if you ever saw a person with the heart disease, and you should say, “Yes.” I then ask you how you know, and you would have to give some answer that was based on a belief - for your assertion to me is only an opinion.
Now I see the person, and he says, “I have heart disease.” Now is it a reality or a belief - or both? You might say his belief had nothing to do with his disease; that the heart might become diseased and he have no mind (or belief) about it. Then where is it? Can there be a phenomenon in a person and the person know it and still say it is not a part of his senses? The trouble lies in the false idea of ourselves.
Mind, being subject to the will, is always being changed by every thought. Even our thoughts are not our own, and in fact, man is a combination of ideas that are constantly working out some problem - and we are all a part and parcel of this great problem. To suppose that we act of ourselves is as absurd as to suppose that a clock keeps time by the weight. There is an intelligence that governs the world (or man) that is not known, and this intelligence acts upon the belief, while the belief is not aware of the fact.
Now all man's trouble is in this element called “belief” (or mind). The phenomenon that we see is a fact. That is not intelligence - but the effect of intelligence. Here is where we fail in perceiving how the understanding makes the cure. The doctors always address themselves to the phenomenon - I, to the intelligence. I will state a case.
I had a young officer who had his arm shot by a minie ball through the wrist. The hand became so painful and swollen that it was necessary to amputate the limb, just below the elbow. But still, the sensation of the hand remained, and it was so troublesome that he could not rest. His hand was in constant pain. The stump he did not feel, but the hand that had been taken off was as real as the other.
Now I suppose you would say this was all imagination, for the hand was gone. Now who is to decide this question - the person that felt the pain or the observers? He felt the hand, and the doctor could not change his mind by telling him the hand was gone. This was false, in the true sense - for his hand was a part of his senses, and the phenomenon that could be seen was nothing to his senses. He had a hand, and it troubled him. Now was the trouble in his mind or in the phenomenon that the doctor had taken off? I say it was in his mind, and this was what he wished to get rid of. Although he, to his belief, had lost his hand - his senses had not lost it. And to cure (or satisfy his senses), he wished to get rid of his hand; for it became a source of torment.
So I took hold of the stump, and by explaining the truth, I changed the mind, and he cast the idea away. Then he felt of the stump and became quiet, satisfied that it was better to have one arm and be happy and well than having two and being in torment. Now if I could not have changed his mind, he could not have gotten rid of the pain (or misery). So you see, the taking off of the phenomenon called the “arm” had no pain (or disease) in it; for it was there - just as real as before. Suppose he had been a child, and his hand had been crushed, and amputation had taken place. The same effect might have been seen in the child.
We think that our senses (or mind) may not be aware of the suffering of the body; that the body may be sick and the mind well. That is impossible, for the body cannot be sick any more than a steam engine could be sick. The owner may be sick. So a child may be sick. But when we speak of a child, we speak of what we see and not what we understand. The child is not visible, but the phenomenon is; and when we doctor the phenomenon, we do not know the owner. The owner is where the eye cannot penetrate. Does not every person in the room hear the clock strike, whether he is aware of it or not? In the same way, mind is sensitive to every thought, whether the body shows it or not.
A belief is something, and if it comes in contact with matter, it will make an impression. I might bring thousands of facts to show that disease is the effect of our belief, whether we know it or not. How many there are who do not think that they are influenced by others' beliefs, when it is as apparent as it is that the sun shines on a clear day - and yet they will take their oath that no person's belief affects them, when in fact they are the mouthpiece of some belief. How often do we hear this remark, “I have a belief of my own.” Now if they have a belief, it cannot be a fact; so their belief is in regard to something that they think exists. So if you can make a person believe a thing exists, then his belief to him is a fact; and this he considers as his own, although it is a belief.
This is the way disease comes. We are made to believe a lie, and this belief creates a phenomenon. This is the proof that our belief was founded in wisdom - when we do not know that our belief is the very thing that changes the mind and creates. Make man know this, and then he will see that what he needs is to know how to correct his mind, in order to get rid of his trouble. This has to be done by another mode of reasoning, and this is my mode of cure: to change the mind, believing that all our troubles are out of sight - but the phenomenon is in sight. Therefore, never look into the effect for the cause. The cause can never be seen by the natural eye, for man never sees the idea he is afraid of. Causes cannot be seen - only effects. The cause is the belief of what cannot be seen. The belief affects the mind, and a phenomenon is produced. This is called, for instance, “cancer.”
Now show how we get an idea into the mind of man, and the process of discovery rids the mind of the belief. And then the person is as free from cancer as a person who once believed the eclipse was sent from God as a warning to man to repent is, when he understands astronomy. The fear (or belief) is gone, and no phenomenon can take place. So it is with all diseases, for they are all lies - and to discover the mode in which they were made is the destruction of error.