Opposing the Physician and Priest


June 1861


by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


I am often accused of opposing the physician and priest or the religious creeds. In answer to this, I plead guilty, but you must not gather from this that I oppose goodness or virtue or wisdom. I oppose all religion that is based on the opinions of man; and as God never gave an opinion, I am not bound to believe that man's opinions are from God. The difference between man's opinions and God's wisdom is more than one would naturally suppose, but the former is taken for a truth, and this makes the trouble that the wise have to contend with. If man knew himself, he would not be misled by the opinions of others; and as disease is the result of our opinions, it is the duty of all to know themselves, so as to correct their own errors. Now if error is something, as it must be; to correct it must require more wisdom than the wisdom that invented it. So if error is wrong, it cannot be the offspring of wisdom; and of course, it must be from some other source, and that source must be ignorance. Ignorance is the father, and disease is the offspring of error. Therefore, to correct the error is to cure the disease. How do you cure anything, but to explain the error to the sufferer, so that his wisdom may correct his error? And as disease is like any other evil that wisdom has to correct, it must be by a science, to the natural man; although, to a person who has wisdom, science is nothing.

No one supposes that to oppose the physicians' opinions is to cure the disease; for the opinion is the father of the disease or life, and to lose your life or opinion is to recover your health. But wisdom is without father or mother. So to destroy your earthly father is to destroy your opinions; and to be with your heavenly father is to be wise. So everyone that loses his opinions and arrives at the truth is dead to the natural world, but alive in wisdom or Christ. When I sit down by a sick person, and he or she wants to tell me what the doctor says, to me, it is nonsense; for I have not the least regard for their wisdom. Their opinions are the very things I try to destroy, and if I succeed, their opinions have no influence to create disease; for they are the very disease I am trying to destroy. Man's profession, not his wisdom, is the standard of his popularity. I stand in direct opposition to all others in this respect, and here is the conflict; whether man's opinion is to rule or his wisdom. If the medical profession is based on wisdom, then it will stand the test, and disease must have its origin out of the profession. Either this must be true or the opposite. I assert that disease is the offspring of opinion. Ignorance produces the phenomenon or effect, as in the brute creation. But in the perfectly wild brutes, disease or phenomenon differs from that of the domesticated brute. So it is with man. The perfect fool knows no aches or pains. Where there is no fear, there is no torment. Fear is error. Wisdom casts out fear; for it knows no fear.

Now does wisdom have an identity? I answer, "Yes; and so does error.” The opinions of man never have admitted wisdom to have an identity, but admit it as a power or gift, thus making it merely a servant to error, known by the name of “science.” But the person who has the wisdom is not admitted superior to the one who admits it. You often hear persons attempt to explain my cures by their own opinions, not admitting that I have any wisdom superior to their opinions. Thus they make themselves out wise by their own ignorance, since they deny the very power or wisdom they acknowledge, by admitting it as a mystery to them. So they admit a power outside of their wisdom and worship that of which they are completely ignorant. Now I know that this something, which is a mystery to them, is wisdom to me and that my wisdom sees through their opinions; also, that the explanation is the conversion from opinion to truth and health. These two characters, wisdom and opinion, stand before each other; and the people choose the one they will obey, just as they do in national affairs.

President Lincoln is the representative of health or the Constitution. Jeff Davis is the representative of the head of opinions or disease. All those who follow Davis are those who have departed from health or the Constitution and have followed after false gods or guides. When the armies meet, they come face-to-face and unfurl their banners. One is the flag of the sun or Constitution; the other is the banner of darkness or opinions. This wisdom has been represented by Joshua, and as it says to the sun or Northern armies, "Halt!" and to the Southern moon or error, "Stop!", the leaders, seeing the wisdom, are alarmed and flee; but the people rejoice in the light of the American Constitution, that shall make them well, and free them from these blind guides. This is the way with disease. Disease is the offspring of error, and as long as the people will worship men's opinions, just so long they will be sick. To me, it is as clear as daylight that if the people could see themselves, they would discard all the priests' and doctors' opinions, and become a law unto themselves. All I do is put the world in possession of a wisdom that will keep them clear from these two classes of opinion.

You may think I have some feeling against the doctor's character. Not at all. Nor do I think that they who know me have anything against me, as a man, but they scout the idea that I know any more about curing disease than they do. They have the wisdom and I, the power. I stand to the medical faculty in this light, as a harmless humbug, perfectly ignorant of what I profess, and all my talk is to amuse the patient and make him believe the disease is in his imagination. If I succeed, it is all well; but so far as my wisdom goes, that is all humbug. I am aware that this is my position with the faculty, and their opinions have such a strong hold on the people that the mass of people look upon me in the same light. And if by chance, someone chooses to see that I am not the person that these blind guides call me, they are looked upon in the same light. I acknowledge that all this is true, with regard to my position in society. And how do I feel, in regard to it? I know that it is all false, although my word does not make it so; but I suppose that I have the same right to give my opinion with regard to these two classes, as they have to give theirs about me; and I will now give it, and let the masses judge for themselves.

The truth that I am trying to establish is something new. All established theories purporting to improve mankind are merely the effect of one set of demagogues trying to get the ascendancy over another. The people are no better off, but worse. Disease of a person is like that of a nation; each is governed by arbitrary laws, and the governing of both is alike. Disease is acknowledged to have an identity independent of man, and man makes laws to govern it, attaches penalties to their disobedience, and calls them the laws of God. Let us see if these laws are not made by ourselves. Take fire, for instance. If you put your hand into it, having no wisdom about it, who is to blame? You are. How are you to blame? Because you do not know any better, not because you do not know you are to blame. Is a child to blame for putting his hand in the fire? No. Has he not committed the same sin against the same law? You will say, “Yes, but he did not know any better.” Well, did you? If you did, then you committed a sin of your own making, for you put your hand into the fire against a law of your own understanding; and your punishment is according to the transgression. But it is not so with the child. He has committed no sin, for there is no intelligence in the act. Then the act or sin of ignorance is winked at; so that man invents his own misery by his laws.

All governments have laws whereby to govern, and in these laws is concentrated the wisdom of the people, the disobeying of which is followed by some kind of punishment. As the laws are our king, we obey them, through fear, and the mediums or officers of the law are condemned or approved; so we have no sympathy with the laws, except as they keep the people in subjection. This keeps the nation all the time in an uproar, like a family of children who quarrel to get possession of their father's wealth. If they respected their father more than they did their own selfishness, all would go well; but a false idea makes the trouble. The government of the United States was founded on another basis; a higher principle of wisdom, that had no laws for its children, but whose laws were for strangers. It was based upon the wisdom of the people, on the principle that man was capable of self-government. This element filled the whole of the thirteen states, and men and children attached their senses to this wisdom as their father; not as a man of flesh and blood, but an element of love. It was like the love of a good parent who, when the flesh and blood was laid in the ground, hovered around our fears in sympathy and wisdom and comforted us. So the wisdom of the people, gushing through every pore of the signers of the Declaration of American Independence, warms the hearts and limbs of all its children, and each child attaches itself to the wisdom, not the President. As the children grew, they wanted more land; and strangers coming among us, it became necessary to have a servant to explain the father's will. So we selected Washington, not as a leader or dictator, but as a servant or counselor, to explain our father's will and to see that everyone was rewarded, according to his acts. Now in the course of time, differences of opinions sprang up, and contentions arose. Finally, the father was denied, and the will was broken. At last, the wisdom or father was lost, and the son became the power, and then men began to worship the creature, instead of the creator. Now the President is all the government we have, and he is the President of a party. The old will is broken, and man is like a sheep, without a shepherd. This has been the case for more than forty years, till at last a division of the farm came up. This brought up the old will and revived the identity of the father or Constitution. Then the father's sympathy began to ooze out of the pores of his children at the North and adopted sons of the West. A struggle is now going on, to see whether the will is good and whether the people still let old principles of our ancestors rule.

Disease began in the same way. Man, at first, was like a nation, just born into existence, with only the laws of life that ministered to their wants from day to day. As in nations, opinions would spring up, and as men multiplied, they must enter into a sort of combination, for their own protection. This, of course, brought up a controversy, how to carry their plans into execution; and this would lead to parties and leaders. So little by little, men bound themselves with fetters of their own making and punished themselves by their own laws; for God made man upright and man, of himself, sought out these inventions. As controversies arose, of course, men would get excited, and troubles would come out of it. Then laws and penalties would be introduced, leading to superstition and all sorts of error. It then became necessary to select someone to explain the various phenomena. These guides, seeing how their opinions acted on the masses, obtained a power over the people. Their next movement was to keep this power in their own hands, and it has always been handed down, to this day, in nations and individuals.

Man's life is controlled by arbitrary laws. He has no more power over his life, independent of the laws of the medical faculty, than a state has over the laws of the United States. Both act in accordance with the laws of a superior wisdom. In every act of his life, man admits the laws of the medical faculty and dares not depart from them. It is true that leaders spring up and form parties or theories, but all must admit the old constitution of the faculty; that there is disease independent of the mind. The whole controversy among them is how to kill it. One sets up his standard of warfare and attacks the patient with calomel, blisters, etc. Another approaches the patient with hot crop, ready to play upon the disease, if it does not yield. A third advances with a little sugar plum, coaxing him to leave. Another commands the disease to leave by power from another world, and so on, but no one undertakes to deny the authority of their father, the devil or the origin of disease.

This was the condition of the world at the time of Jesus. Speaking of the same thing, he says if the old covenant or theories had been faultless, there would have been no need of another. So it is with the medical theory. If their remedies were equal to their laws, there would have been no need of another mode; but they have created a fire, which they cannot put out. So a new remedy must be applied; for the old theories are like an old garment, ready to fall to pieces, or an old carpet, which will not bear to be shaken. Now I stand alone, as one risen from the dead or these old theories, having passed through all these old ideas and risen again, that I may lead you in this light that will open your eyes to the truth of him who spake as never man spake; for he spoke the truth. This truth condemns all man's opinions. It breaks down all creeds and priestcraft and upsets all the medical faculty and brings peace and good will to man. It teaches that man, in order to break off from his wickedness or opinions, and learn to speak the truth, must not try to deceive his fellow man, by pretending to know what is merely an opinion.

Show me the doctor, who really believes that his medicine has any curative qualities or any intelligence, except as it is associated with his opinion, and I will show you a fool; for no intelligent physician would dare risk his reputation on a homeopathic pill to cure a cough, supposing that the patient took the medicine in his food and did not know it. This shows that they believe that they work on the imagination of the patient. There are certain drugs that will act as an emetic or cathartic; so I can act upon a person as these drugs do, but if the patient should take an emetic by accident, it would then make him vomit. Now when the patient vomits, if a wrong direction is given, another effect might be produced. So that it all goes to show that the mind must be guided by some wisdom superior to itself. If error directs, nothing certain is known of the effect. If wisdom is at the helm, no medicine is wanted; for wisdom can break opinion in pieces, and as disease is the effect of opinion, wisdom is the destruction of disease.

I will illustrate the cures by myself and by the medical man. The medical faculty have, through their ignorance, created a fire or disease, as Jeff Davis has done. And the masses believe that all the phenomena that they see and feel are the effect of a cause outside of themselves and leaders. So they make war with their own shadow, and in their insane mind, come down upon their best friends, thinking they are the cause of their trouble; while their troubles are the effect of their own belief. So it is with the sick. Ignorance, not knowing how the mind can be affected by a direction outside of itself, identifies wisdom with error or matter; so that truth is a stranger, and it is all the time fighting against itself, to get rid of an enemy of its own creation. Now teach man this simple fact, that in all action, the wisdom of reaction is in the act, but the act knows it not; for if it does, no bad effect will follow. To show these two ideas of action and reaction, it is necessary that the act should be known by some strong power or error that cannot be stayed, without some loss. These embrace all the wisdom of the two worlds; one is action and the other, reaction, and our senses are attached to one or the other. Therefore, if we look for the effect, we shall find out the cause. But man does not look so far into this principle, when applied to himself, and here, of all others, is the very place to apply this rule; for it is the very balance of our existence. It is the principle of eternal life. It is life, itself. And to know it is to know every sensation; what it is and what will be the effect on our happiness, before it takes place, so that we may apply another idea of safety.

I will give an illustration to show how this principle is known in part, by some and by others, not at all. I will take a child for a medium, to explain this principle. The child sees a light. Here is a phenomenon. In it, there is no wisdom to the child, so it puts its finger in the light. The sensation frightens the child. This excites the matter or mind, and out of the sensation comes reason. It tries it again, and the same results follow, till fear prevents the child from repeating the act. Now the fire, to the child is an enemy, so it shuns it, fearing it will produce the same effect as before. Thus, you see, it feels a sort of life or wisdom in the fire, till it is taught that the fire is nothing, of itself; only a simple chemical action, without wisdom. To know that is all that is necessary to allay its fears; and when the child knows it, that wisdom keeps him from being burned. Another case. A child will toss a stone into the air, not knowing or thinking that it will come down, until it hits him on the head. Here is where they fail. As soon as they learn how to apply this principle, they will throw up the stone, and the wisdom guides them out of danger. This principle runs all through our lives, and unless we understand it, so as to know how the phenomenon is produced, we do not know the effect.

I will here relate a case, which just happened, that I shall watch and report at a future time. A young lady, whom I had been attending, had been stopping with a friend, some little time. One day, her friend broke out with the measles. She had never been exposed to it, she said, but they were in town, and the U.S. troops had been sick with them. This was known in the city, so here was the origin of the measles. The soldiers were from the country and were accustomed to soldiers' living; eating, drinking and smoking. These habits, and the idea of going to war and leaving their friends, acted upon their minds; and being bilious or full of excitement, these different causes produced an eruption on the skin. Here was where the error commenced. The doctors, ignorant of the cause, invented the application of “measles” to the phenomenon and made the people believe their lie, and this created the disease. So all persons, by the laws of these blind guides, who have exposed themselves or who have not, were liable to have the disease. This made the disease common, and the people gave credit to the doctors for tormenting them with an evil of their own make, just as the South praises the scamp, Davis and others, for making a disease that will be the means of their own destruction; while they fight the very friends who are warning them of their leaders. This was what Jesus did, but the people, like the South, believed him an impostor and crucified the very man who was their friend. This has always been the case, and always will, till man can apply this test of seeing through the phenomena of this world and looking for causes in the effect. They must not call every new phenomenon the result of a power or gift or unknown cause, in order to convince people of anything, but must admit their own ignorance.

I think that I have explained the phenomenon of the measles to the young lady, so that she will not be affected by them. But if she is not, these blind guides will say, "It does not follow that a person must catch the measles, because they are exposed." Then I ask, “Why do they catch them at all?” Here is the fact. This young lady was nervous. Now see the shrewdness of these blind guides, although I will not give them the credit of knowing the fact. For they are only the mediums of the devil who invents these ideas; and he, like Jeff Davis, acts upon his mediums; but see the craft of the old fellow. The measles are slow, getting along. This is just as it must be. If you drop a seed into the earth, it takes time for it to come forth. So it is with disease. When the devil sows his seeds through these doctors, they scatter the seeds promiscuously. Some fall on good ground, as it did with the soldiers; others fall on public opinion and are caught by the wise, which prevent them doing much harm. And some fall on stony ground or where they have had them before, so they do not take root, but wither.

Like every other error that the devil sows, he sows it in the night or darkness, and while men are ignorant or asleep to the little nervous effect the seed is creating, the devil is busy in creating showers of opinion, like rain, to help the seed come forth. The minds are agitated for a time, to create the disease; and when it comes, these blind guides are called upon to destroy their own work. So when wisdom or this principle of action and reaction is acknowledged, then the devil and his works or mediums will be destroyed. This is the end of the world, as far as disease is understood. Then comes up a new theory, having no consumption or any disease; but a wisdom that will explain all these phenomena by the result of action and reaction, or cause and effect. Causes not known are a mystery or power; but when known, the effect is known before it comes, so that man's life may not be affected by it. In one sense, it is foreknowledge. The effect is combined in the cause. The natural man never sees the cause, but when the effect comes, he admits a cause; but to him, it is a mystery or power that he is afraid of. So he reasons to keep clear of it, and in his reason, he creates his own misery; and here doctors his own errors, as though he had caught them from another. In this way, man has been acting against his own happiness, like an insane man that is always trying to destroy himself, by fighting an invisible man, not seen by the well.

— June, 1861.

P. P. Quimby

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