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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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The Quimby Manuscripts

Chapter 13    QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

[In order to clear the way for real understanding of his theory, Dr. Quimby wrote in February, 1862, answers to fifteen questions put to him by one of his patients. Copies of this manuscript were kept on hand to loan to new patients, and some of the patients made their own copies. On the cover of a copy made in June, 1862, George Quimby has written, "Mrs. Patterson first saw Dr. Quimby in Oct., 1862, 4 months after this was written. Questions and Answers. Portland, June, 1862" George Quimby loaned a copy of this manuscript to Miss Milmine when she was tracing out the various changes made in "Questions and Answers," as recorded in her "Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy." (1) This manuscript is not so clear as the brief articles printed in the following chapter, and known as "Volume I," also loaned to patients and Mrs. Patterson-Eddy. It is printed as originally written, with a few changes in punctuation and capitalization to conform to writings of the same year. Obscure points will be made plain by selections from later articles, in Chapters XV-XVIII.]

(1) See Appendix, "The Quimby-Eddy Controversy." 166

QUESTION 1. You must have a feeling of repugnance towards certain patients. How do you overcome it and how can I do the same ?

Answer. In order to make you fully understand how I overcome the repugnance it will require some little explanation of my mode of curing, for my cures are in my belief or wisdom, and the patient's disease is in his belief or knowledge. Now my wisdom is not knowledge, for what a man thinks he knows is knowledge or opinion, but what is wisdom to a man, he has no opinion about. As God is Wisdom, Wisdom is Science and we call the proof of getting Science knowledge, belief or reason; but when the answer comes, our knowledge vanishes and we are swallowed up in God or Wisdom. The sick are strangers to this Wisdom, being led by false guides without it, who have eyes and see not, ears and hear not, and hearts that cannot understand, therefore like strangers they are at the mercy of every one's opinion. Having a strong desire for wisdom or health, they call on every one for their food or wisdom. So when they ask for bread they receive a stone, or for water they receive vinegar, and thus they are driven like sheep to the slaughter, not daring to open their mouths. This is the state of the patient who asks the above question. My wisdom sees their condition, feels their woes and comes to the rescue, but to get them from their enemy is often an arduous task. The repugnance of which you speak is not towards their personal senses, but to the ideas their senses are attached to. As the ideas are knowledge to them, they are a person besides themselves and it is the identity disease that I first come in contact with. This is what I have to annihilate, and at first I sometimes feel a repugnance towards the sick such as a man will feel in entering a penitentiary to rescue a victim, who has been innocently confined, the disturbance of the rescue sets the house in an uproar, the victim not knowing the cause is as much frightened as her enemies. But when I succeed in destroying her enemies or opinion and get her to wisdom or [her real] self she receives me as one who has saved her from the jaws of death. This to her is health and happiness. You say how can I do the same?  If you believe this Wisdom is superior to opinions, and that opinions are nothing but error that man has embraced, then when you come in contact with a person diseased, your wisdom will throw the mantle of charity over their errors, if it is for the restoration of their health. But if the repugnance arises from some unknown cause, examine yourself and see if the fault lies at your own door. If not you may be sure it is some false opinion in the person that troubles them. So to overcome their evil or error, pour on coals from the fire of love or charity in the form of right reason till you melt down the image of brass that is set up in their minds, and they will leave their errors and embrace the truth.     This is heaven.

2. "You say when you know a thing, it is not an opinion. I can understand that, but how may I be really sure I know a thing? I have felt perfectly sure of a thing and still afterwards found I had been in error, or had been mistaken."

Knowledge, as I have said, is not wisdom, but it may be harmony and it may seem like wisdom. Yet there is a discord. So discord is harmony not understood. To know how to correct this harmony or knowledge that it may be wisdom is the question to consider. The first part of your question where you say "I can understand that" is contradictory to the last sentence, showing that you do not understand. Here is the discord. You say you have been perfectly sure of a thing and yet found you have been mistaken. Now if your wisdom had been perfect, in the thing you thought you knew, it would have revealed the discord or error. So to purify yourself from error so that you may know the truth or Wisdom, is a process of reasoning outside of matter, for there is no wisdom in matter. So that when you have arrived at a truth, if you find it attached to a belief, you may know it is not a truth, for it may change; but this is a truth, that a belief may be changed. God is Truth and there is no other truth, and if we know God the same is known to us. I will now try to attach your senses to God, not the God of this world or Christian's God; but the God of the living, and not of the dead. My God is my standard of truth, and as I know God the same is known to me. I know I am writing this if I know anything; but to know that I shall finish it admits a doubt and to know that you will understand it admits more doubt. This doubt is not wisdom but belongs to that class of man's inventions called reason, knowledge, etc. God is not seen in this question, perfect, except as far as I see, but He is seen in the clouds of my knowledge. When you read this if you understand it, then you will see God face to face but not as Moses did. I await your answer, to know whether He does appear to your understanding; if so then here is your proof that you are born of God in this one thing then you cannot know anything more so far as this question goes. Man's God is all the time listening to his prayers and setting all sorts of trouble. My God does not act at all, He has finished His work and leaves man to work out his happiness according to his own wisdom. I will give you the attributes of my God. The Wisdom or God is in this letter, and if you understand, you will hear His voice saying I understand this. So the understanding is God, for in that there is no matter, and to understand is Wisdom, not matter, and to know wisdom is to know God, for that is Wisdom. I will give you some ideas of God, reduced to man's knowledge. All science is a part of God, and when man understands Science the same is known to God; but the world's God is based on man's opinion and right and wrong is the invention of man, while God is in their reason, but not known.  Here is an illustration. The bells are ringing.  I walk to church and take a seat. The minister opens the Bible and reads the text from John. The fact of going to church, and seeing the minister is known to me, but there might be a doubt in regard to the Bible, for it might be another book. This last I admit with a doubt, and also the verse and chapter is a doubt. He reads the thirteenth chapter of John, 36th verse, where Peter says, "Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake." All the above as far as words go is true, but when he comes to explain where Jesus went, when He came back, or if He went at all, and why His wisdom was knowledge, he reminded me of Paul's words: "All men have knowledge, knowledge puffeth up, charity or wisdom edifieth." I could see nothing but an opinion of what he had no wisdom, a parable of something which he might know as a belief but not wisdom. The explanation of the Bible is founded on man's opinion, and not on Wisdom. The Bible contains Wisdom, but it is not understood, and to prove a thing is to put your proof into practice, for all men can give an opinion. Jesus came into the world not to give an opinion, but to bring light into the world upon some­thing that was in the dark. What was it? where was it? how did He describe it? and what was the remedy? He tells the story Himself, where He called His disciples together and gave them power or wisdom. Now if it was power and not wisdom, then He knew not what Wisdom was. So far as I can see, it admits a doubt, but I have no doubt of what He meant to command them to do.    In Math. Ch. XI. He went to preach, and put His preaching into practice. John was cast into prison for preaching the coming of some one who would put this great truth into practice, so he sent one of his dis­ciples to Jesus to inquire if He was the one that was to come, or do we look for another. Now what was He to come for? Jesus answers this question when He said, "Go tell John the things you have seen and heard, how the blind receive their sight, etc." After telling how John or this truth had suffered, how it had been put down by force, He made a parable of the ignorance of his generation. "We have piped unto you and ye have not danced." Then giving a statement about error, He says "Oh Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden this truth from the wise and revealed it unto babes," even so is it. All things concerning these errors are revealed unto me by my Father. No one knows the truth but the Father, save the son, Jesus, and those to whom He shall teach this truth. Then He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my burden is light." You see that His labor was with the sick, and not the well, and all His talk was to explain where the people had been deceived by the priests and doctors, and if they learned wisdom they would be cured. The knowledge of man puts false construction on his wisdom and gets up a sort of religion which has nothing to do with Jesus' truth. There is where the fault lies. If you do not believe the Bible as they explain it then you are an infidel. So all who cannot believe it as it has been explained, must throw it away. I do not throw the Bible away, but throw the explanation away, and apply Jesus' own words as He did and as He intended they should be applied, and let my works speak for themselves, whether they are of God or man, and leave the sick to judge.

3. "Our spiritual senses are often more acute than our natural ones. What is the difference ? What do you call the spirit-world?"

I will try to explain the difference between spiritual and natural senses. If I had never seen you and wished to write you a letter on some worldly affair, I should address your natural senses, and you would attach yourself to my knowledge. Suppose you believe what I say, then your belief is founded on my knowledge. This belongs to the natural world and your happiness or misery is in your belief. But I have sat by you and taken your feelings, these are [disclosed by] your spiritual senses, not wisdom but ideas not named or classified. In the spiritual world there are things as they are in the natural world that affect us as much, but these are not known by the natural senses or wisdom. The separation of these is what Jesus calls the Law and the Gospel. The natural senses are under the law governed by the knowledge of the natural world, subject to all the penalties and punishments man can invent. The spiritual senses have their spiritual world, with [knowledge of] all the inventions of the natural world, but the communication [relationship] is not admitted by the natural man except as a mystery. There is just as much progress in the spiritual as in the natural world, and the Science I teach is the wisdom of my God [applied] to the senses in the spiritual world. So it requires a teacher to teach the wisdom of God in the spiritual world, as well as that spiritual wisdom that has been reduced to man's senses in the so-called science. Paul says "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" And how shall they teach unless they be sent or understand how to teach? I am now talking to your spiritual senses, standing at your door, knocking with my wisdom at your heart or belief for admittance; if you can understand, then I will come in and drink this Truth with you, and you with me. This is the spiritual world or senses. Suppose you are sick, and feel you need a physician; then is the time you in your spirit will call on me, or my spirit, and when I come if you know my voice or understand, you will open the door, and when you do understand, I am with you.

4. "Is not one's own experience wisdom to him in a certain sense ?"

Wisdom is not knowledge but the answer to our knowl­edge. But in error knowledge is wisdom, till Wisdom comes. For example: Suppose I make a sound, that is not wisdom but a sensation. Suppose you try to imitate it, this process is called knowledge or reason. When the sound is in tone with me, this is wisdom not understood. So we call it wisdom, but when we can make the tone intelligently and teach it to others, then the tone is the effect of wisdom, and wisdom comes out of the discord. Wisdom is always the same, it is the point of all attraction, and everything must come to this, it is harmony. This is the Christ. True Wisdom contains no matter, false wisdom is the harmony not understood. I will illustrate: Suppose you tell me a story that you say is true, but you get your information from another. I believe it and to me it is wisdom, but you see it is not wisdom, for there is a chance for deception. But Wisdom leaves no loophole, it can be tested. This was the contra versy of Jesus. The priests thought their opinions were wisdom, but He knew they were false. To test their wisdom was to put it into practice, so every one was to be known by his works, whether they were of God or not. Jesus showed His wisdom by His works, for when they brought Him the sick He healed them. So did others pretending the same way. If Jesus knew how He cured, then the kingdom of heaven had come to their understanding; but if He did not, then He was just as ignorant as they were, and the world was no wiser for His cures. His wisdom was from above, theirs from man's ignorance. These made the two worlds, Science and error, and as man has borne the one, he shall also bear the other.

5. "Is it possible for one to condense his spiritual self so as to be seen by the natural eye of others as Jesus did?"

This question is not properly stated. Jesus never said He had a spirit, but said, "spirit hath not flesh and blood, as you see me have." There was the rock that they split upon. Jesus' wisdom knew that it was not in the idea body: their knowledge made mind in and a part of the body. So each reasoned according to their wisdom. Their wisdom was their opinion about what persons had said a thousand years before without any proof but merely as an opinion; this they called knowledge. Therefore Jesus' wisdom or Christ was a mystery to them. So when Christ or Wisdom spake through Jesus saying, "though you destroy this temple I will build it up again," this that spoke was the wisdom, so the builder was not destroyed, but the temple. But they believed as all the Christians of our day do, that the temple and the builder were the same; so that when the former was destroyed, they had no idea of what Christ intended to do. Here comes in your question. The Christ that acted upon the idea "Jesus" admitted flesh and blood as well as His enemies, but His wisdom knew it was only an idea, that He could speak into existence and out. So when they destroyed the idea "Jesus" they destroyed to themselves Jesus Christ, or mind and matter. Now when this Wisdom made Himself manifest to them, they thought He was a spirit, for they believed in spirits, but Christ to Himself was the same Jesus as before; for Jesus only means the idea of flesh and blood or senses, or all that we call man. Now, Christ retained all this and to Himself He had flesh and blood. This was to show that when you think a person dead he is dead to you, but to himself there is no change, he retains all the senses of the natural man, (1) as though no change to the world had taken place. This was what Jesus wanted to prove. Man condenses his identity just according to his belief; this all men do, some more than others. I cannot tell how much I can condense my identity to the sick, but I know I can touch them so they can feel the sensation. To me I really see myself but I cannot tell about them. I will try to prove the answer to you. When you read this I will show you myself and also the number of persons in the room where I am, writing this. Let me know the impression you may have of the number. This is the Christ that Jesus spoke of. How much of the Christ I can make known to you, I wait your answer to learn. Read the 16th Chap. of John; He speaks of this truth that shall come to the disciples as I am coming to you. (2)

(1) The italics are Quimby's.
(2) That is, Dr. Quimby will make himself known by means of an "absent treatment," and this will show the questioner how far Quimby can project his spiritual self.

6. "If I understood how disease originates in the mind and fully believe it why cannot I cure disease?

If you understand how disease originates, then you stand to the patient as a lawyer does to a criminal who is to be tried for a crime committed against a law that he is ignorant of breaking, and the evidence is his own confession. You know that he is innocent, but you can get no evidence, only by cross-questioning the evidence against him. Disease has its attending counsel as well as truth or health, and to cure the sick is to show to the judge or their own counsel that the witness lies. This you have to show from the witness' own story, then you get the case. The error is on one side and you on the other, and out of the mouth of the sick comes the witness. I will first state a case. A sick person is like a stranger in his own land, or like an ignorant man not knowing what is law or right and wrong according to law. Both are strangers and both are liable to get into trouble, so each is to be punished according to the crime he has committed. Now the man, ignorant of state laws wants a horse, seeing one he takes it, not knowing that he is liable to any punishment, but as a matter of conven­ience, and when he has used him as much as he pleases he lets him go. Now, he is arrested for stealing, and being ignorant he is cast into prison to await his trial. I appear against him as state's attorney, and you appear for the prisoner. All the testimony is on my side, but if you are shrewd enough to draw from me an acknowledgment that the law cannot punish a man that is ignorant of the law (and not know it) after I have shown the testimony and made my plea, then if you can show that the prisoner has been deceived, and led into the scrape by me, I having received pay from him, then the court will give you the verdict, and arrest and imprison me. A sick person is precisely in this very state. The priests and doctors conspire together to humbug the people, and they have invented all sorts of stories to frighten man and keep him under their power. These stories are handed down from one generation to another till at last both priest and doctors all believe they are God's laws and when a person disobeys one he is liable to be cast into prison. Suppose you are a doctor of the law of health as it is called, and you call on her and commence explaining the necessity of being acquainted with the laws pertaining to health. She being ignorant or like a child sees no sense in your talk; but you continue to explain, and as she grows nervous you keep it up till she shows some sign of yielding to your opinion, then you tell her she has the heart disease, or lung disease and it will soon be found out, and then she will be punished with death at any time that the Judge sees fit to call her. In her fright, she acknowledges she is guilty, then you enter a complaint against her. She is arrested and cast into prison, there to await her trial, you are the devil or error's attorney and she is the judge; she is brought into court to be tried by error's tribunal. Now I appear, for I have heard her story, unknown to the judge or attorney. I have the evidence and see that the very attorney against her is her disease and the author of her trouble. This I keep to myself, till I draw from the judge that a person cannot be tried for a crime which they were forced to commit. This being done, I commence my plea for the victim and show that she has never committed any offense against the laws of God and that she was born free, etc. Then I take up the evidence and show that there is not one word of wisdom in all that has been said, also that she has been made to believe a lie that she might be condemned. In this way I get the case. Disease being made by a belief, or forced upon us by our parents or public opinion, you see there is no particular form of agreement, but everyone must suit his to the particular case. Therefore it requires great shrewdness to get the better of the error: for disease is the work of the devil or error, but error like its father has its cloven foot and if you are as wise as your enemies you will get the case. I know of no better answer than Jesus gave to His disciples when He sent them forth and told them to preach the truth and cure. Be ye wise as they were, or serpents, and as harmless as doves, that is, do not get into a rage. In this way you will annoy the disease and get the case. Now if you can face the error and argue it down, then you can cure the sick.

7. "I can see this belief places man entirely superior to circumstances, but will it not therefore take away all desire for improvement and cause invention to cease, and the whole go back rather than progress, and cause us also to become indifferent to friends and social relations, and say of everything that it is only an idea without substance, and so take away the reality of existence ?"

The answer to this is involved in the last. You can answer it by your own feelings, when you plead the case of the sick, condemned by the world, cast into prison with no one to say a cheering word, but left to the cold icy hand of ignorance and superstition, who have no heart to feel and whose life depends on its destruction. If you can be the means of pleading their case and set them free from their prisons or superstitions and error, into the light of wisdom and happiness, there to mingle with the well and happy, knowing that you were the cause of so much happiness, would it not be enough to prompt you to continue your efforts for the salvation of the sick and suffering, till the great work of reformation is completed? You may answer for yourself, and say if it does not place man superior to the interests of this world, and instead of taking away the reality of existence it makes man's existence an eternal progression of joy and happiness, and its tendency is to destroy death and bring life and immortality to light.

8. "Suppose a person kept in a mesmeric state, what would be the result? Would he act independently if allowed? If not, is it not an exact illustration of the condition we are in, in order to have matter which is only an idea seem real to us, for we act independently?"

I think I understand your question. God is the great mesmeriser or magnet,(1) He speaks man or the idea into existence, and attaches His senses to the idea and we are to ourselves just what we think we are. So [man] is a mesmerised subject, they are to themselves matter. You may have as many subjects as you will and they are all in the same relation to each other as they would be in the state we call waking. So this is proof that we are affected by one another, sometimes independently and sometimes governed by others, but always retaining our own identity, with all our ideas of matter and subject to all its changes, as real as it is in the natural or waking state.

(1) Quimby says this to try to bring meaning from an obscure question. He uses no such expression in his other writings.

9. "What do you think of phrenology?"

As a science it is a mere humbug. It is at best a polite way of pointing out the soft spots of a man's vanity.

10. "What is memory, or that process by which we recall images of the past?"

I have explained memory in that class of reason called knowledge. It is one of the chemical changes to arrive at a fact, matter being only a shadow. When the senses are detached from it we forget the shadow, till it is called up by another. This is memory. If there was no association there could be no memory and those that have the greatest amount of association, and least wisdom have the greatest memories. Those who rely on observation and opinion as the laws of reason have great memories, for their life is in their memory. But the former retain their reason as it is called and are forgetful of events. Memory is the pleasure or pain of some cause or event that affects our happiness or misery, or it is something ludicrous. For instance, a judge hearing one tell another "his coat-tail was short," and the other replied "it will be long enough before I get another" attempted to repeat the joke, but he forgot the sympathy or music in it, and said, "a man told another his coat-tail was short, and he replied, it would be a long time before he got another one." The company failed to laugh and he said, "I do not see anything to laugh at myself, but when I heard it I laughed heartily" Memory is the effect of two ideas coming in harmony so as to produce an effect that leaves a scene of some idea either ridiculous or otherwise embracing so many combinations that it brings up the scene. Memory is one of the senses of man and will exist so long as the idea matter exists. (1)

(1) Elsewhere Quimby calls matter much more than a "shadow" or "idea."

11. "What became of the body of Jesus after it was laid in the ground, if you do not believe it rose?"

Jesus is the idea "matter," so those that believed that Jesus Christ was one believed that His body and soul were crucified. Now came their doubts whether this same idea should rise again. Some believed it would, others doubted. So far as Christ was concerned, all their opinions had no effect. Christ was the Wisdom that knew matter was only an idea that could be formed into any shape, and the life that moved it came not from it but was outside of it. Here was where their wisdom differed. The disciples believed that the wisdom of man would rise out of the error or idea "man," or matter, and matter comes under the head of memory. How far their idea of Jesus went I am unable to say. Some said He was stolen, others that He rose. There is as good reason for believing one story as another. Now, Jesus said nothing about it. Now, I take Christ's own words for truth when He said touching the dead that they rise, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." He knew that they could not understand, but to Himself Christ went through no change. To His disciples He died. So when they saw Him they were afraid because they thought He was a spirit, but Christ had not forgotten His identity Jesus, or flesh and blood. So He says, "a spirit hath not flesh and bones as you see me have." If Christ's believers of this day could have been there with their present belief, I have my doubts whether they could have seen or even heard any sound. Yet I believe Christ did appear and show Himself as dense as their belief could be made, but their unbelief made the idea so rarified that it was a spirit. These are my ideas of the resurrection of Christ.   But Jesus [according to] the world's idea (if the people were as they are now) was without doubt taken away; at any rate, their idea man never rose. Christ lost nothing by the change.            Every person rises from the dead with their own belief, so to themselves they are not risen and know no change, and the dead as they are called have no idea of themselves as dead.

12. "Do we receive impressions through the senses and do they, acting upon the mind, constitute knowledge?" 

This question is answered by Paul to the Romans, although he did not use the same words. This belief means faith, the peace in the truth was through their belief. Hope is the anchor made fast to the truth, belief is the knowledge that we shall attain this truth, so that we glory in the tribulation or action of the mind, knowing that it brings patience and patience confidence and confidence experience, that we shall obtain the truth. Knowledge is opinions, so when an impression is made on the mind it produces a chemical change, this comes to the senses and opens the door of hope to the great truth. This hope is the world's knowledge or religion that is used like an anchor to the senses till we ride out the gale of investigation and land in the haven of God or Truth.

13. "How is matter made the medium of the intelligence of man ?"

There are two ideas, one spirit and one matter. When you speak of man you speak of matter. When you speak of spirit you speak of the knowledge that will live after the matter is destroyed or dead. This is the Christian's wisdom. With God in all the above is only opinions and ideas without any wisdom from God or Truth. All the above is embraced in his idea as an illusion that contains no life but lives, moves, has its being and identity in his wisdom. So that to itself it is a living, moving something with power to act to create and destroy. Its happiness and misery are in itself. So when its shadow is destroyed to B and C he is dead. A loses nothing but is the same as before, but to B and C he is dead. So the shadow is the medium of truth and error, to error it is matter but to Truth it is an illusion.

14. "Do I err in thinking knowledge the effect of some influence on the mind, instead of something independent of the whole individual?"

Knowledge is the effect of an influence on the mind and is the medium that carries the senses to this great Truth.

15. "Can any one bear any amount of excitement and fatigue without a reaction?"

No, no more than a mathematician can solve every problem without a reaction, but as he becomes master of the science, the reaction diminishes, till all error is destroyed.

_______________________

Dr. Quimby's writings are not to establish any religious creed or bolster up any belief of man, but they are simply the out-pouring of a truth, that sees the sick cast into prison, for no other cause than a belief in the opinions of man, there to linger out a miserable existence, driven from society into the dark cell of disease where no friend is allowed to enter to soothe their woes. The knowledge of this condition is known to him from their own feelings and calls forth his plea in their behalf. He stands to the sick as an attorney to a criminal, a friend. This is what he believes Jesus intended to communicate to the world when he said, "they that are well need not a physician, but they that are sick." So he pleads their case and destroys their opinion, breaks the bars of death and sets the prisoner free. This was Jesus' religion, that he believed, taught, and practised. (1)

(1) This paragraph was added by Dr. Quimby for the sake of the general inquirer.

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