What is disease? It is what follows the effect of a false direction given to the mind or spiritual matter. The body is composed of matter, not mind, but when agitated, that part which is called heat, and is thrown off, is mind or spirit. It is not intelligence, but a medium to be used according to the direction given it, by a power independent of itself, — like that direction given to mechanical power. The effect of this direction (call it what you please) on the body, is to destroy itself, for its life is its own destruction.
[The curing of disease must be governed by a law. Sin or death is the transgression of that law, and when there is no law, there is no transgression.]
— Dec. 1859.
P. P. Quimby
(from The Quimby Manuscripts)
What is disease? It is false reasoning. True scientific wisdom is health and happiness. False reasoning is sickness and death; and on these two modes of reasoning hang all of our happiness and misery. The question is, how can we know how to separate the one from the other? The truth cannot be changed; the false is always changing. The one is science, and the other is error, and our senses are attached to the one or the other. One is the natural development of matter or mind, and disease is one of the natural inventions of error. To show how disease is not what it is supposed to be, by those who use the word, I must show the absurdity of error's reasoning, for error is the father of disease.
We are all taught by this error to call disease something that is independent of man. To make it more plain and show where the two modes of reasoning act, I will suppose a case and take that of a young man who feeling a little disturbed calls on a physician. The physician sounds his lungs, examines his heart, and tells the patient he is very liable to have the heart-disease. The patient asks him how he got it, and is told that he is liable to catch disease and have it and to catch it is to admit that it exists independent of himself. Though the patient were dead it would exist the same and others would be liable to get it. At last the patient really has the heart-disease, which his physician described to him.
And has he created it himself, or has the doctor created it for him? Now I propose to show that he has made what the world calls heart-disease without any one's help. To show how a building is raised is to frame one and then take it down again, so I will take down this building heart-disease which this man has raised, and then you can see how ideas are made or raised. I will say to the patient, "You have built the disease yourself, in your sleep of ignorance." This he cannot understand. So I will tell him how he has worked in his sleep and made this very edifice, heart-disease. So I begin to tell his dream by telling how he feels, in which he admits I am correct. Now when he was asleep, or ignorant of the feelings that disturbed him, behold a spirit in the form of a doctor sat by him. And to and behold, he called up from the dead a person with the heart- disease, as he calls it. "And he handled you, and your sleep departed from you, and your limbs became cold and clammy, and your pulse quickened. This excited your brain, and at last a figure of a person arose like unto the one you saw in your dream, and then you were afraid, and you awoke in a fright. At last the image became more terrible, till at length it over-shadowed you and became a part of yourself, so that when you awoke you looked, and lo! and behold the dream had become a reality, and you had the heart- disease. Now whose dream was it, the doctor's or yours? Did you catch the doctor's or did you create it yourself, by your own reasoning in your sleep or ignorance, according to the pattern set you by the doctor?
"I say you made it yourself. Now to cure you, or take down the building, is to show you that all the feeling you had at the commencement arose from a trifling cause, and that when I can make you understand it I have performed the cure." Instead of giving medicines or going to work by guess to destroy the building, I commence by showing the patient how he framed it by his own hand. So I reason in this way: "You listened to the doctor to try and understand what caused heart-disease. He explained every variety of feeling or symptom, and you listened until you understood it. Now without knowing it you created in your mind the disease, as much as you would if an artist or mechanic had taught you how to draught a building, and you should carry in your mind the building and in your sleep create it. The only difference would be that one would please you, for it would contain wisdom, while the other would hind you, for it would contain fear and would threaten to destroy your life. Your trouble is the material with which to build the building. A chemical change in the fluids of your system takes place, governed by your belief, and you condense the changes into a phenomenon corresponding with your plan. Your ingenuity in manufacturing the disease has been the destruction of your happiness, To destroy the disease I convince you that what the doctor said was an idea gotten up by error, not knowing how to account for some little disturbance, which in itself amounted to nothing, but by the doctor's mode of reasoning about what he knew nothing, you were led astray into the darkness of heathen superstition where all kinds of evil spirits and disease dwell in the brain of man. Superstition always shows itself through the ignorance of man's reasoning, assuming as many names and forms as the father of all lies, the devil or the error of mankind."
P. P. Quimby