Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Sickness is What Follows the Belief that Disease is an Independent Life
Dec. 23, 1861
There are certain phenomena that man is afraid of which do not contain life. These include accidents. For instance, if a person breaks his leg, no one is afraid of the person who broke his leg, because the thing that broke it is not attached to the leg. But if any disease attacks and eats off the leg, then the person is frightened, because he has attached intelligence to disease. We think that we do not attach intelligence to disease, but all our beliefs prove the contrary.
There is not a person who believes in a supreme being called God, but also believes in a supreme being called the devil; and all persons who believe in ministering angels from heaven admit evils spirits from hell. Let them say what they will - actions speak louder than words. If they do not believe in a devil and evil spirits, why do so many place so much power in their minister? It certainly is a great sacrifice for them to attend meeting and pay the minister; they will often pay them twice as much to support the gospel as they will give to the poor. If they thought all will be well after death with them, you would not see them so interested.
All facts go to show that man believes in a heaven and hell. It is true some undertake to deny one and establish the other. The liberal Christians pretend to believe in heaven and disbelieve in a hell, but this is as absurd as the other; for if the Bible teaches one, it does the other. Every act of the liberal churches shows that if they act in obedience to a belief in heaven, the same belief makes them act to keep from hell. As I have said, if one is right, so is the other; and whoever believes in one believes in the other. The same book that teaches heaven teaches also hell.
To disobey heaven was a sin, and as Adam sinned, death entered into man's belief; so all men have sinned. To sin is to transgress some law, and as the torment came from the devil, man has been taught to keep clear of him. As no man has seen God, we have attached our senses to a being which has never been seen; but the devil has been seen as much as the sea serpent, and we often hear of his evils tormenting man. There is not a Christian who honestly believes in God's angels, but who at the same time warns people to keep clear of the evil influences of the devil.
Many try to make the people believe that my cures are the works of the devil. Some go so far as to say that they would rather their friends should die than come to me. Now I ask which power such a person is most afraid of? This fear shows how much they believe in the devil. All such persons attach their senses to the effect produced; so if I affect a person, that person is under the influence of the devil, and all they say is to make the people keep clear of him.
If the devil can be transferred from one to another, it shows that torment is of him, and not of God. These very persons have more to do with the devil than God - for God does not ask any sacrifice, as they offer. According to their belief in the devil, God has nothing to do with those who are well and happy - but is occupied with tormenting the sick; for they seem to be the ones who are tormented. If God is so kind to those who are all the time trying to destroy the devil and are keeping you from him, why does he let them suffer so much - since there is three times the amount of suffering by those who are afraid of the devil than by those who do not care much for him.
Once this devil tormented men by entering them and burning their life out. Then he changed to the form of witchcraft - and now he assumes a more respectable character. He appears in the most fashionable society, in the form of neuralgia, spinal disease, heart disease, rheumatism, etc. The medical faculty are always ready to inform the people of his coming and insist that he has made his appearance, long before he is realized by the patient.
Soon after he is acknowledged, they very modestly offer their services to drive him away. They commence the battle with their various inventions of war - blisters, liniment, calomel, etc. - and fight the devil out of the sick. This is upheld by the clergy and physicians. They are the very agent of the lying influences that started thousands of years ago, and have been fed and nourished by the church, till the world is overrun (like the people of Egypt) with false doctrines; and they have taught, furthermore, that God is at the cause of all this hypocrisy.
I stand apart from all this. All their gods and devils, their heaven and hell, are humbug to me. Their religion arises from the fear of their belief. There is not one particle of sincerity - but it all comes from ignorance. They believe that disease is catching. A broken leg is not catching - but a lie is; and if you make a person believe a lie, they are affected just according to the danger; and their fear is their torment. So as the priests have made the people believe a lie, their torment is the result of their belief.
Here is my belief, founded on practice. My God is all wisdom - not matter, but solid; full of love, compassion and every attribute that wisdom can suggest. The devil is all matter, all error, hypocrisy - and every evil that man is capable of inventing. His intelligence is only opinions, and his life is in his superstition and ignorance; his death is in the wisdom of God (or science). In fact, the devil is a chemical change that every son of God must pass through.
As man passes from matter to science, there is a chemical change; his ignorance puts wisdom in the change and thinks life is in it. By this ignorance, death came into man's belief - because he saw matter moving around and could not account for the cause. He attached his senses to this shadow (or matter), not knowing that the substance was not in the shadow; so that to him everything that moved contains life.
To me everything that moves is matter, and there is no life in it. Life is not matter, nor is it in matter. All disease is made from the belief in another world. I have no other world. My world is one living, progressive world; and man is in the world of matter and ignorance; and to get out of error is to get out of one world into another - so I have one world in progression.
Do I believe in rewards and punishments? I do not believe - I know. I am as sure that everyone will be rewarded according to his works or thoughts, as I am that I am writing this article. It is as sure as that action and reaction are equal. God is the rewarder of every scientific truth. Every error is a chemical change, like the solving of a mathematical problem - when the answer comes right, then comes the reward. The life is in the true answer, and we attach our senses to the truth. This is an everlasting truth. But error attaches itself to the error, and when the true answer comes, the error dies. The misery is what follows the investigation - and the happiness is in the knowledge that you are right.
To show how my religion works on me is to show how I feel when I am sitting by a patient. I seat myself by my patient, and his feelings become mine. I know that these fears arise from some idea based on an opinion. As they have attached their senses to some invisible life in the form of disease that I know is false, their fears, to me, are all in their belief - and I know that they are the cause of their own misery. My religion is to impart to them the evidence that their trouble is in themselves, and their torment is seen in the shadow (or body).
Now make man sensible that there is no misery or happiness for him, except he earns it by his own act; that if he is slothful, he will be rewarded for indolence - then he has some stimulant to excite him to do well. But if his acts are to be governed by rewards outside of his acts, he then becomes selfish and wants more than he deserves; so it is with his misery.
him know that there is no forgiveness for sin (or error), and that he
must take the consequences of his acts - not from anyone else. Then
he becomes the judge of his own self. As sure as man lives, his
punishments will follow his thoughts and acts in the body, in the
form of pain or trouble - whether he is conscious of committing error
or not. So if you believe what a person tells you, and it contains
rewards or punishments outside of your acts, it is false - and you
will get the reward of your belief.