religion is my life and my health,
and every idea that goes to destroy my health and happiness is evil -
and it must be destroyed, or health cannot be enjoyed.
Phineas P. Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Why Do I Talk to the Sick?
The question is often asked, “Why does not Dr. Quimby make his cures and hold his peace; for his talk only confuses the mind of the patient and makes hard-feeling, and it does no good. In this way, he is misunderstood, from the fact that his ignorance of language makes it hard to get the idea which he would convey; for he has never been educated. Upon the whole, his explanation upon what he knows nothing about is against him. If he had an education, he might have been a very smart man; but my advice to him is to hold his peace - at least so far as the explanation of scripture is concerned. He had better let people believe what they please. Cure the patient, and let religion alone.”
This is the opinion of nearly all mankind, who know anything about me. Now to all the above, I plead guilty; and I will plead my own case before the world and my accusers, as they are my judges. So far as electioneering for proselytes in religion is concerned, I am innocent. That I try to establish my religion is not true. My religion is my life and my health - and every idea that goes to destroy my health and happiness is evil, and it must be destroyed, or health cannot be enjoyed.
As I am permitted to speak for myself, I will commence by calling your attention to the first sentence, where it says, “Why does not Dr. Quimby make his cures, and hold his peace.” Now from the above, it would seem as though disease was something that a person had gotten, and to get rid of it was the cure. This acknowledges a something outside the patient, for the patient would not want to get rid of nothing; so disease must be something. Now is this something a living thing, or is it not - or what is it? We often hear of people “catching” a disease, or a patient has “gotten” this disease. Now if they send for a doctor, what does he do? Does he not talk? And must not the patient answer certain questions that the doctor asks him? And is it necessary that the patient should have an education to answer? For if the patient would not tell the doctor how he feels, the doctor would be left to find it out - and a poor investigation would follow. Therefore, it requires that the patient should talk; and so should the doctor.
Now who talks in parables - the doctor or the patient? The patient can say, “I have a pain in my side.” Now if the doctor knew it, himself, by his feelings, there would be no need of deception; but not knowing, he must deceive the patient by his Latin that, to the patient, is words without meaning. And of course the words, without an explanation to the patient, who does not know the meaning, is like “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.”
For instance, the doctor says, “The pericardium of the heart is thickened.” The patient does not know what he means. The doctor's wisdom is in his words, and he thinks that words mean something, without any explanation. Now a word is the name of a substance that has life or something; so disease is the name of some substance that must have life, according to our interpretation of it; for we say we “catch it” or it will “come upon us.”
To use a word without attaching it to the thing that the person can see, either by the eye of the mind or through the senses , is no wisdom in the person who uses it. It is like a dentist who had been making a set of teeth for a lady. After putting them in her mouth, she asked him if she could chew her food with them. The dentist, not satisfied to say, “Yes” - which would not show that he was a man of letters - must make a great palaver of words, that to the lady meant nothing, and wound up with this sentence; that with these teeth she could “masticate” any kind of food.
This kind of explanation was of no use to the woman, and there was no wisdom in it; for the wisdom was in the knowledge that the dentist imparted. By her reply, we get the wisdom of the dentist, for she said, “Oh, yes, I know all that -but I want to know if I can eat with them.”
How often do people laugh at persons, because they do not understand what another says. There are two ways to it. If a person does not know that his wisdom is what he wants to communicate to another, he may deceive himself and also deceive others, by his words. But when plain words are used to express one's feelings, if a person does not understand, it is either that the person has...