Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
The First Symptoms of Disease
All disease is what follows some sensation on the mind or the fluids of the body. Man's body is made of ideas admitted by the world of opinion. The man, as we see him, is an idea or reality, according to our belief. This makes one fact. All his reasoning about himself are other ideas that are the life and intelligence of the idea “body.” So if the idea "man" believes his body is out of order - to him it is so. This is so with every idea made of the idea "matter."
Matter, according to our belief, is porous, and God can penetrate it. Wisdom is truth, and error is matter (or darkness), or it is porous. Wisdom is as much quicker than lightning as thought is quicker than the bullet from a gun. So as wisdom is so quick - all ideas are nothing to it. For instance look, as you are riding in the cars, at the high board fences put up to prevent the snow from blowing in and drifting onto the track. You know the boards of these fences fit very near together, so the cracks are not far apart. But when the cars are going at a rapid speed, you can see objects on the other side as plainly as though there was no fence. In fact you would scarcely know there was any fence.
This is the way with velocity - it destroys space and distance and weight, so that obstacles in the way are not obstacles to the velocity. Velocity is like wisdom, and opinion is like the fence. The wisdom of opinion stands still, and all is out of sight, or nearly so, on the other side of the fence; while the wisdom that flies without time sees no fence - but sees the objects its attention is called to. So it is with the idea matter (or thought); it is sent so quickly that, to wisdom, it is perfectly transparent.
It is generally believed that the earth was once a ball of liquid fire, cooled off on the outside; that now in the center it is a fire and that people were traveling 'round while it was cooling off. The prints of their feet are in the earth; also remains of animals, etc. All of this is no doubt true - but the explanation of geology is as absurd as the doctor's diagnosis of disease. The phenomenon of the earth and of disease is just the same; both are founded in error and cannot stand the velocity (or progress) of truth. Wisdom can see through the cracks (or pores) (or error) of both and can show that neither is correct. Where were all of these living things while the earth was in this liquid state - for they must have form and size, since they are found embedded in rocks and in the earth? Modern theology is not wise enough to explain these phenomena correctly or satisfactorily. But explain them on the principle I have laid down in regard to matter, and then there is no difficulty in understanding it.
To cure disease is to know what produced it, and to know that embraces all man's ideas and wisdom of the creation of the world; for his religious opinions embrace the creation of the earth and heaven and all things therein. Men reason about all this, and their ideas are sown in the mind, like seed in the earth. So he is, as the scriptures say, “full of dead men's bones” and all sorts of corruption.
The idea earth is full of all sorts of ideas, as much as man. Science is to analyze the earth, and this explains to man his disease; for all are made of ideas. I will give you an illustration of the growth of the idea earth by comparing it with man. To base a truth on an idea is like building a house on the sand. When the wind of investigation shall blow, and the wave of science shall beat upon the house of opinions, it must come down.
Everyone will admit that wisdom is superior to the idea "matter." So we have two alternatives: either that wisdom was nothing before there was matter - or that matter is the creation of wisdom. The world reasons about God as it does about man - that the brain is the seat and origin of the wisdom of man and that the earth (or matter) is the dwelling place of God, and that neither God nor man has any identity out of matter. This is the foundation of man's reasoning; therefore, if one is false, so is the other - but they are false in one respect and true in another. It is true that the phenomena exist in the mind of man (or in his belief), and that matter, to the original man, is his life and wisdom; but to wisdom - out of a belief - this is false. The natural man cannot see wisdom, for wisdom is not visible to the eye of matter.
In all mathematics, there is a wisdom to be admitted, like the principles in geometry. You first assume a truth and then bring evidence to establish it as a fact. Imagine a vast void (or space), where nothing in the form of matter exists. No one is so ignorant as to suppose there never was such a time. Every fact proves to the contrary and goes to show that from the seed things grow - showing progression from void. In this void, imagine wisdom superior to all the effects that have been developed. Give this wisdom an identity with all the senses and faculties like man, only independent of matter, and then you have a perfect fullness of wisdom. Its motion is its own, and from its own self comes all good and perfect wisdom. It speaks ideas, and they come forth. The ideas are in the wisdom, as the mist is in the air. As they move (or act) by their own wisdom that is in the ideas, it grows till it gets condensed into a substance that attaches its life to its growth, as a child. When the child is born, its life is attached to its body, and as it grows (or creates new ideas), they become attached to the child, and this makes the growth of the child.
No one supposes that a man does not know he was once a child. But if the child could have been kept ignorant of its growth till he became a man, no one could even make the man believe that he ever had any earlier existence. Suppose a chicken hatched. After it became a hen, would it ever suppose it was the inhabitant of an egg? It is so with everything that has life. Now suppose that wisdom, from some cause unknown to man, spoke into existence everything that hath life - yet like all other life, there was progression. So if wisdom spoke worlds into existence, it is not to be supposed that the worlds (or planets) were as large as they are now. But the globe, like a child, is the growth of wisdom that is, in itself, like everything on the earth that has life.
Each life is not the same life. The life of minerals is not that of vegetables, and no two things are the same. Our globe is one idea of wisdom, and all the other globes and planets that make up the solar system may be like one family - though each globe contains all the life that ever can be. But the growth or development is progression. For instance, man would not be formed before there was some place for him to live or rest upon. So life attached to matter must have some foundation for the matter, before life could be attached to it. Suppose this void was full of mist (or life) - not wisdom, but life. It would then be in a state like man's mind - to be formed into any idea that might be thought of. But wisdom's works are all done at once.
For instance, if you throw a rock into the air, all the effects were in the act, not developed at the time; but they showed themselves as the progression went on. So when wisdom spake worlds into existence, it is not to be understood that they could be seen as they are now; but were like thoughts taking form. From this fullness of life, worlds nursed its idea, till it became visible to the idea of itself; and then its wisdom was its growth, and its life was its ideas. So its ideas fed off the life of this space. To know its growth is to know what contains the least life; for its life is its wisdom, subject to a higher life - or progression.
Every strata of the earth is a representation of development. So one generation gives way to another more advanced, which lives on the latter. As the earth is composed of all the elements of man, when it had passed through all the generations of life; so as man came forth, he was the substance of all the life of the earth. Man was first in this visible space with God (or wisdom), before he became visible to the living things on the earth. When his life began to act in matter, then it took form. This was man.
I will show you that man reasons about himself as the world reasons about the earth. The doctors and chemists analyze men and beasts, just as they do the earth. Neither supposes there is any intelligence outside of what they analyze, but think man's body is like the earth, and disease is in it, or can get into it; also that man has nothing to do with it - but this is not the case. Seed did not make itself. It is the offspring of some life. And as man is the offspring of all the living, it is not strange that his growth, as well as that of the earth, should be encumbered by the errors of his predecessors.
You will find traces of the development of the earth, following along with its growth; so superstition (or the lower life) often shows itself in the more enlightened lives. The body, like the earth, is the birthplace of both. And the battle is whether the life of progression shall rule - or the life of oppression; for where one is absent, the other rules.
Oppression is the next stratum above pressure. The stone's power is to press everything under it; ignorance is the same, and 'might is right.' When that is conquered by error, or by wisdom, just enough to keep clear - then its power departs and dies, and it is buried. Over its grave springs up a wiser growth which flourishes for a time, till some new life is introduced, and another battle is fought, and the dead are buried in their own ruins.
The earth developed itself by these strata until the brute creation appeared. Then contending parties sprang up. The wiser overpowered the weaker, and the earth began to bring forth grass and yield its fruits; for the minerals were not known to them. At last the life of the human species came forth. Now to suppose that the man of our age contains the same combination of life as the first men did is to suppose that the wisdom of man has never progressed. Man is made up of opinions of truth and error, and his life is a warfare, like all other lives before him. Everyone's hand is against his brother, for truth and error claim the idea "man."
Wisdom is the son of God, and error is the son of the lower life of animals. These two characters are as easily distinguished from each other as light from darkness. If the animal life is predominant, then man is arbitrary and superstitious. If wisdom is predominant, it can be shown. The earth, like man, is analyzed, and geologists can trace life up to human beings. The earth is examined, phenomena are discovered, and philosophers have reasoned and traced the mineral into the vegetable and the vegetable into the animal kingdom. But their causes are not attributed to a wisdom outside and apart from all that is seen. So the medical faculty have traced disease down from Adam to the present time, not thinking that their own ignorance is the very cause of the phenomenon they are trying to explain.
The earth commences like a child, and every stratum shows the rise and fall of some lower life. That part of the globe that would be called the least intelligent, or showing the least life, represents the child. It may have seed, but it cannot come forth, any more than a child. It can grow, and as the identity of the child dies, its life is transferred to another identity (or stratum). So the earth's life passes through the ignorance of the mineral kingdom, buries its mother, and out of the covering or stratum the vegetable life springs, but brings some of its mother (or mineral life), and phenomena are seen - half-mineral, half-vegetable. Thus the earth has been growing and developing itself, like man; but man is a life of a higher stratum of the earth. So he brings into his life all the elements of all the other lives.
When man commences, he is like the earth. He is made of all the lives of the lower kingdoms, and his growth is to cover up the dead (or ignorance) of his birth. So he grows in size and intellect, ridding himself of his old matter. The growth of his body, he gets from the other lives, and it is of his own existence; but eternal life is from wisdom (or God). This wisdom was in the first life of man. But it could not come forth till the lower life (or strata) were fully developed to make the soil fit to bring it forth. And when it sprang up, lower lives appeared also.
Here must be a battle between the life of man and the life of science (or God). The latter has prevailed over the lower in nearly all discoveries, except theology and pathology (or religion and disease). These two phenomena are so plainly discerned in man as tomatoes (or diseases) are in the vegetable world. So far, the higher (or scientific man) has not arrived at an age to bring forth this new kingdom, so the powers of darkness prevail - and will until the time of reformation (or investigation) comes. Then opinion will see that there is a science (or wisdom) superior to itself. It is the science of analyzing the errors (or phenomena) of man.
The chemist can analyze mineral and vegetable life. But man never thinks that all these developments of the earth are the natural result of ignorance, preparing for a higher development of man. When man goes on developing error upon error till he is buried in his own belief, it makes him but little higher than the animal kingdom. But the wisdom of science is to explain the phenomenon of man called disease; to show how they are made and how they can be unmade. This is as much a science as to decompose a piece of metal, which is one of the natural phenomena of ignorance, in itself.
No one supposes that the animal, mineral or vegetable life is aware of itself, how it is affected, or how to account for any phenomena that takes place. So the natural man is just as ignorant of the misery he brings upon himself as the beast. Both are the natural development of matter - and the priest and doctor is the link between the animal and the scientific life. Neither has developed one single idea of wisdom, but they are the stratum for the scientific man to commence with. Their ideas are the field, and their opinions are the tares to be pulled up and burned. When the axe of science is laid at the root of their opinions, you will see disease die and be buried in its own ruin. Out of its soil will rise up wise men, who will rid the world of its errors and its sins. Their iniquities shall be sealed up, and the places where their opinions were once believed shall believe them no more, forever.
So ends the old theory of religion and the creation of disease. Instead of curing disease, the doctors make it. The battle of disease is waged by the priests and doctors against ignorance. The doctors, through their ignorance, make the phenomenon. Their error calls it disease; their reason about the cure is a belief - and if they succeed in making the patient believe, his ignorance corrects his error, sometimes, and health is restored. Now if the child was never deceived, the phenomenon of disease would never happen, any more than among the brutes - but our mode of reasoning makes disease. The diseases of brutes are like these of men, and men differ in regard to them, as much as some men and brutes. If disease was fashionable, you would not see so much labor used to get rid of it. Take a person whose disease makes him feel as though he wanted to be noticed - it is very hard to cure him.