is governed by his belief, but his belief is not always known to him,
so that often he thinks that the phenomenon has nothing to do with his belief -
when all the evil he suffers is from his belief.
~ Phineas Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
My object in introducing this work to the reader is to correct some of the evils that flesh is heir to. During a long experience in the treatment of disease, I have labored to find the causes of so much misery in the world. By accident, I became interested in what was then called “mesmerism,” not thinking of ever applying it to any useful discovery or benefit to man, but merely as a gratification for my own curiosity. In this way, I went into the investigation of the subject. Being a skeptic, I would not believe anything that my subject would do, if there was any chance for deception. So all my experiments were carried out mentally.
This gave me a chance to discover how far Mesmer was entitled to any discovery over those who had followed him. I found that the phenomenon could be produced. This was a truth, but the whys and wherefores were a mystery. This is the length of mesmerism. It is all a mystery, like spiritualism. Each has its believers, but the causes are in the dark.
Believing in the phenomenon, I wanted to discover the causes and find if there was any good to come out of it. At last I found that these phenomena, of themselves, contained no wisdom; for they were like any phenomenon to be accounted for by a higher power than was in the phenomenon. This led me to investigate the subject, so in my investigation, I found that my ignorance could produce phenomena in my subject that my own wisdom could not correct.
At first I found that my own thoughts affected the subject; and not only my thought, but my belief. I found that my thoughts were one thing and my belief another. If I really believed in anything, the effect would follow, whether I was thinking of it or not. For instance, I believed at the outset that mesmerism was governed by the laws of electricity. This was a belief. So whenever I attempted any experiment, the experiment was always in accordance with my belief. Whether I was thinking of it or not, the whole would follow. I believed that silk would attract the subject. This was a belief in common with mankind. So if a person having any silk about him; for instance, a lady with a silk apron - the subject's hand would be affected by it, and the hand would move towards the lady, even if she were behind him.
So I found that belief in everything affects us, yet we are not aware of it, because we do not happen to think. We think our beliefs have nothing to do with the phenomena. Man is governed by his belief, but his belief is not always known to him; so that often he thinks that the phenomenon has nothing to do with his belief - when all the evil he suffers is from his belief. Disease is one of the phenomena that follow a belief that we are not aware of. But anything that is believed has an identity to those that believe it and is liable to affect them at any time, when the conditions of the mind are in the right state.
For instance, take the small pox. Everyone believes in the disease as a living truth. Now those that have had it believe that they are not liable to have it a second time. Now if it is really a fact to them, they are safe; but everyone that never had it is liable, according to their belief. So that it is not necessary that they should know that it is in the same place.
For minds are like clouds, always flying, and our belief catches them, as the earth catches the seeds that fly in the winds. All this I found. So my object was to discover what a belief was made of and what thought was. This I found out by thinking of something my subject could describe, so that I knew that he must see or get the information from me in some way.
At last I found out that mind was something that could be changed. So as I believed that nothing could produce no one thing, I came to the conclusion that mind was something, and I called it “matter.” For I found it could be condensed into a solid and receive a name of a solid called "tumor," and by the same power, under a different direction, it might be dissolved and disappear. This showed me that man was governed by two powers (or directions) - one by a belief; the other by a science.
The creating of disease is under the superstition of man's belief. The cures have been by the same remedy, proving that it takes the hair of the same dog to cure the wound. For the disease, being brought about by a false belief - it took another false belief to correct the first. So that, instead of destroying the evil, the remedy created more.
I found that there is a wisdom that can be applied to these errors (or evils) that can put man in possession of a science that will not only destroy the evil, but will hold up its serpent head, as Moses in the wilderness held up the errors of the religious creeds in the form of a serpent; and all that looked upon his explanation were cured of the diseases that followed their beliefs. So science will hold up these old superstitious beliefs and theories, and all who will listen and learn can be cured - not only of the disease that they may be suffering from, but they will know how to avoid the errors of others.
I shall endeavor to give a fair account of my investigations, and what I have had to contend with, and show how I succeeded. I have said many things in regard to medical science, but all that I have said was called out by my patients being deceived by the profession. The same is true of the religious profession. Every article was written under a very excited state, brought about by some wrong inflicted on my patient by the medical faculty, the clergy or public opinion. All my arguments are used to correct some false opinion that has affected my patient in the form of disease - mentally or physically. In doing this, I have to explain the Bible, for their troubles arise from a wrong belief in certain passages. When I am sitting by a patient, those passages that trouble them, trouble me. The passage comes to me - with the explanation; and I, as a man, am not aware of the answer, until I find it out. So I cannot be responsible for the exact words, but the meaning that the author had, I feel certain I shall give. The exact language may not be the same; for language is not used to convey the impression, but our ideas (or things).
There is a wisdom that has never been reduced to language, for science that never has been taught has never been described by language. The science of curing disease has never been described by language; but the error that makes disease is described and is in the mouth of every child. The remedies are also described, but the remedies are worse than the disease; for instead of lessening the evil, they have increased it. In fact, the theory of correcting disease is the introduction of life.
I will now introduce myself as a mesmerizer, with all the superstitions of a powerful operator - for I had the name of being a very strong mesmerizer. I will give my first experiment. The first trial was with another gentleman, or a young man. We all sat down and took hold of each other's hands. Then the gentleman and myself placed our minds on the subject, willing him to sleep. So we sat, puffing and willing him and forcing the electricity out of us into the subject, till we had filled him full - according to our belief. Sometimes he would be so full that we would have to make passes to throw it off.
At last he came into the right state. Then, as we had him between us, I wanted to know which had the most power over him. So we sat him in the chair, and the gentleman stood in front of him and I, behind him. I willed my friend 'B,' and he tried to draw him out of the chair, but he could not start him. Then we reversed positions, and I went in front, and I drew him out of the chair. This went to show that I had the most power (or will). This ended the first experiment.
I then put him into a mesmeric state in less than five minutes. Now as I was a new-hand at the business, it became necessary to know how to proceed. So after getting all the information I could obtain, I commenced to try experiments. But I am now satisfied, if I never had heard of a mesmeric book nor had any ideas, I should never have had half the phenomena I had; for I believed all I read - and proved it by my experiments.
Here I will say a word or two to the reader. If you can make the reader believe anything - no matter how absurd it is - he will prove it to be true by his experiments. This proves that our beliefs make us act, and our acts are directed by our belief; for the wisdom (or knowledge) is in the belief. People are not aware of this. This was what Jesus tried to prove, so all his acts and talk went to prove the truth of what I have said. Make man responsible for his belief, and he will be as cautious what he believes as he is in what he says and does. For he will see that, just as he measures out to another, just so it will be measured out to him.
But does the clergy follow this rule? Do they not dictate to their audience what to believe and what not to believe, without the least regard to their health? Now to suppose a man can believe one thing and still have a contrary effect is not true. If you make a person believe that he is in danger of any trouble, he will be affected, just according to his belief. So all beliefs are to be analyzed, like food or drink, to see what it contains and how it acts upon the body; for the belief, being in the mind - it shows itself on the body.
When Jesus talked, he had some object to obtain for the happiness of man. But to suppose Jesus came from heaven to destroy one error and establish another is to suppose that our beliefs alter the wisdom of God; or they make a man believe what he cannot understand, to insure his happiness in a world that is based on a belief. Now if I understand Jesus, I understand him to condemn all beliefs, and show that man is better off without a belief than with one. This I will show.
What good is it to me, so far as I am concerned, whether I believe one thing or another, if my belief does not affect my life? And if my belief affects my life, I get the benefit or misery of my own belief - but it does not alter the wisdom of God nor alter any of his plans. So if there is a world beyond this, my belief cannot change it. But my belief may change me. So if Jesus had no higher motive than merely to introduce a belief, then he was like all others that wanted to establish his own peculiar views or beliefs.
Now there was a certain class of people who believed that when a man died he would lie in the grave, or sea or somewhere, till the end of the world; and then he would rise (or the particles would be reunited into a body), and he would rise. Now according to the people's belief of our days, Jesus came to change this belief. So he said, if they would believe what he said, they should never die; and he that believeth, although he be dead, yet shall he live, for he said, "I am the resurrection and the life, and he that believeth in me shall never die."
Now according to the interpretation of this, if Jesus ever found a believer, he must be alive, and also those that were dead could believe. Now how does this last sentence agree with what he said when asked by the Pharisees about the resurrection, and he said, as touching the dead, “God is not the God of the dead but of the living?” Now Jesus never meant to speak of what we call “death.” His death was sin (or error). The life was in your wisdom, and to lose your opinions and find his truth was life, not death. The wisdom that taught this did not embrace the words “life” and “death.”
The old Scriptures never talked of death, for their religion was confined to their lives, and when they died, this was an end of them. So they believed in a God, but God required man to obey him here, and he punished them here and rewarded them; but he never had any other world, until about the time of Jesus. Then it was with a very few, and their belief was so much in the dark, it had but little effect on the world. Here is a point that seems to slip the minds of the people of these days, and they think he came to introduce a new doctrine, but he says, "I came not to bring peace," etc. Matthew 10.