May 22, 2016
Letter to a Patient
by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Jan. 25th, 1861
To Mrs. Ware:
By the request of Emma and Sarah I sit down by you to see if I can amuse you by my explanation of disease. You know I often talk to persons about religion and you often look as though you would rather have me talk about anything else. Perhaps it would be better, but if you knew the cause of every sensation, then you would not want a physician. Now you will want me to tell you how you feel and if you will give me your attention I will try to explain. This heavy lazy feeling that you have, accompanied with a desire to lie down and sort of indifference how things go along, comes from a quiet state of your system that prevents your food from digesting as readily as it did while here. But it will act upon you like an emetic or cathartic, either way is right. So give no care to what you shall eat or drink, for that wisdom that governs all science will cause all things to work for the best, and if you want to eat, consult your own feelings and take no one’s opinion.
Remember that he who made us knows better our wants than man. So keep yourself quiet and I will reverse the action from your head and you will feel it passing out of your stomach. Then do not forget to sit up as I used to tell you and remember not to believe what the blind guides say for they have a new mask. They will come to you and if your throat is a little sore, as I have no doubt it will be from what I see for when the food acts as a cathartic it most always makes the throat sore, they will ask if you think this sore throat is the diphtheria, looking as wise as though they had discovered the philosopher’s stone. The heat goes up to the head and tickles the nose; then it condenses and runs down into the throat.
Remember what I tell you about this disease, for these hypocrites or blind guides are working in the minds of the people like the demagogues of the south till they get up a disunion party. So keep on the lookout for these deceivers. I do not say that you will be troubled with them, but I have kept on their track for twenty years and have not the slightest confidence in anything they say. Their wisdom is of this world.
I hear you now, for the first time, asking me if I believe in another world. Yes, but not in the sense of the clergy. I will try to explain my two worlds. You live in Chicago and I in Portland, and if it will not be blasphemy to call your place heaven, we will suppose you are there in heaven and I in Portland. Now, if I am here sitting and talking with you I can't be on earth if your place is in heaven. So I must leave the earth and the matter and come to you. Now if I am with you, what is that that has left the body? It cannot be matter in a visible form, yet it is something. Listen and I will tell you. You read that God made all living things that had life out of the earth so that dead matter cannot produce living life, nor anything else; so all living life is matter in a form or out of a form. As all matter decomposes, the dust or odor that arises from it was the matter that man is formed of; this was human life or man. As the child is of living matter, not wisdom, when it grows to a certain age, it is ready to receive the breath of eternal life.
I want to explain one word. I said the child was living life, that is what I mean, not eternal life. Eternal life is a wisdom, just as much above human life as science is above ignorance. I think I hear you say what becomes of the little child should it die before it arrived at the age. It was made of the dust and shall return to the dust again, and the dust of life. So what have you lost by the change? Nothing, for it is still life, but sown in death or matter a natural body, it rises a spiritual body. Why is it not seen by the natural eyes? Because the natural man cannot discern spiritual bodies. You can see a piece of silver dissolved by a galvanic battery. Is it out of existence? No. Is it its natural self? No, it is the spiritual self. Is it not as much yours as before? “I do not know.” Well then reverse the poles of the battery or your belief and you condense the silver into a solid, all but the dross.
When a child is dead, as you call it, it is dissolved, then raised into a spiritual form in the likeness of its natural body. Why? Because it is free from sin or matter. Then you may ask where is it? With its mother’s heavenly man or wisdom, and grows in wisdom like a plant or child till it is ready to receive the wisdom of eternal life. Eternal life is Christ or Science; this teaches us that matter is a mere shadow of a substance which the natural man never saw nor never can see, for it is not matter; it never changes; it is the same today and forever.
This substance is the essence of wisdom and is in every living form. Like a seed in the earth it grows or develops either in matter or spirit just the same, and it is much under the control of its mother’s wisdom as the gold which is dissolved and held in solution is under that of the chemist. If the mother’s wisdom is of this world, then the spiritual child is not under her earthly care; but nevertheless, it is held in the bosom of its eternal wisdom that will cherish it till it is developed to receive the science of eternal wisdom. Eternal wisdom and eternal life are not the same, for the latter is not wisdom but living matter. Eternal wisdom cannot change but acts on eternal life, changes its form and identity. Eternal wisdom teaches us that all matter is to itself a shadow and is no barrier to wisdom, and just as we are wise in one thing our opinion vanishes. The shadow becomes transparent and nothing remains but the memory of what was, but now is not.
Matter is dense darkness; spirit is light. So, if you are wise your body or wisdom is light, and just as you sink into error you become dense or dark. Therefore let your light shine, so that when this cloud of wind comes blowing round in the form of an opinion, you may know there is something in it, only it is the noise of a demagogue. Believe them not and you will live and flourish. If you can understand this, you get the basis of my belief. For fear I have not made my two worlds clear to your mind, I will say a few words more.
The two worlds may be divided in this way: one opinions, the other science. Opinions are matter or the shadow of science, both are eternal life but one is limited in its sphere, and the other has no limits. One can be seen by the natural eyes; the other is an endless progression. One is always changing; the other is always progressing. The one is made up of reason, opinions, judgment, and the other is science and is the mystery of the latter. The natural man never will know one, for he cannot see wisdom and live.
Wisdom is the natural man’s death. So he looks upon it as an enemy, prays to it, pays tribute to it as though wisdom was a man. He often uses it as a balance to weigh his ignorance in, but never to weigh the difference of his opinions. He often quotes it, talking as though it were his intimate friend, while he to wisdom is only known as a servant or shadow, all of imitation and all the above is matter; science is another character. Science rises above all such narrow ideas. He who is scientific in regard to health and happiness is his own law and is not subject to the laws of man except as he is deceived or ignorant. For wisdom cannot let him disobey her truth without knowing the consequences.
No one after he knows a scientific fact can ignorantly disobey it. So that with science, the punishment is in the act. But with man’s laws it is different; the penalty may follow the act or come after. With wisdom, the laws are science. To know science is to know wisdom and how can a man work a mathematical problem intelligently and at the same time say he is not aware of the fact?
It cannot be done and so it is with every act of our lives. If we know the true meaning of every word or thought we should know what follows so that a person cannot scientifically act wrong. But being misled by public opinion, we believe a lie, so we suffer.
I have gone so far that I have reduced certain states of mind to their causes, as certain as ever a chemist saw the effect of a chemical change. For instance, consumption. I know every sensation of its character and it is as much a character as it ever had an existence. Its father or author is a hypocrite and deceiver. I look upon it as the most vile of all characters. It comes to a person under a most flattering form, with the kindest words, always very polite, ready to lend its aid in any way where it can get a hold. I will illustrate this prince of hypocrites.
I will come in the form of a lady, for it has many faces and characters. I enter as a neighbor with the customary salutations and you reply that you are very well. “Oh I am very glad, for I was expecting to find you abed by what I heard. But you can’t tell anything by gossip. You do not seem quite as well as when I saw you last?” “Oh, yes, fully as well.” “Well, you know there are diseases which always flatter the patient, but you must keep good courage. I suppose you have heard of the death of Mr. .” “No, when did he die?” “He died yesterday but was sick a long time. Sometimes he thought he was getting better, but I knew all the time he was running down. But you must not get discouraged because you are like him, for it is not always certain that a person in the same way as you has consumption. So good morning.”
Here I make you nervous and you are glad when I leave. Knowing I am not welcome in that form I assume another character. I appear as a doctor; I sit down and count your pulse, look at your tongue, take a stick and examine the phlegm that you have raised. Then leaning back in the chair, draw a long sigh, and ask if you have a pain in your left side. Now I will not say but that the doctor is honest, but if he is, it is worse for you. He is like a dog who wags his tail while you feed him but when your back is turned will bite you. If ignorance and superstition is to be put down by scientific facts it is useless to mince matters. If a person is aiding an enemy, he is as guilty as the thief.
I want you to know that every word that is spoken is something, either matter or wisdom. Opinions are made up of words condensed into a belief, so if I tell you that you have congestion of the lungs, I impart my belief to you by a deposit of matter in the form of words. As you eat my belief it goes to form a disease like unto its author, it grows, comes forth and at last takes form as a pressure across the chest.
The doctor comes to get rid of the enemy, and by his remedies he creates another disease in the bowels. This is done by giving some little simple thing. He begins to talk about inflammation of the bowels; this frightens you. The fright contracts the stomach so the heat cannot escape, and it presses on the aorta at the pit of the stomach. This sets your heart to beating, causes a flush in the face which you call a rush of blood to the head.
It makes you feel sleepy and weak, as though you must lie down; then the stomach relaxes and the heat passes down into the bowels; this causes pains. You call it “Inflammation.” All this is very simple if you know what caused it. I will tell you.
Your situation is the cause. (At the time you were lying on the sofa at your father’s house, Judge Ware’s, while I was sitting by you I was aware of your situation, almost to a certainty. I thought you knew it almost to a certainty for you kept laughing. Don’t you remember it? I guess you do.) As your system changed it must produce a chemical change in your breast, for the fluids must change. This would make you feel a little nervous, which feeling would affect your head, making you feel stupid and inclined to loll on the sofa. Finally it would take away your appetite. All of this is not anything out of the way. The sickish feelings are to act upon the stomach. This acts on the bowels and if you will only drink water it will produce a diarrhea which will carry off all nervous excitement, and your health will be better than it has been for some time. This letter is an essay for you to read, so good night. Let me know how it works.
Daily Quotation of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby for Sunday, May 22, 2016
I take the ground that God never made a belief. A belief is of man and is intended to satisfy him instead of true wisdom. If God ever spake, he spoke the truth which liberated men and bound him with no obligations. When man speaks, he always tells a lie; that is, in explaining a phenomenon, he imposes a belief and invents opinions which blind people to truth. Science is the voice of God, opinions that of man. So when man speaks in his own knowledge, he gives an opinion; but when he tells a truth, that is of God.” ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Article: Elements of Progress, Aristocracy, Freedom, Conservatism & Abolitionism
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Today’s featured article is A Letter to a Patient, Mrs. Ware, and begins on page 93 of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond.
In Wisdom, Love, and Light,
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