by Horatio W. Dresser
[Continued from last week.]
On this point George Quimby writes, “He was always in his normal condition when engaged with his patients. He never went into any trance, and was a strong disbeliever in spiritualism, as understood by that name. He claimed, and firmly believed, that his only power consisted in his wisdom, and in his understanding the patient’s case and being able to explain away the error and establish the truth, or health, in its place. Very frequently the patient could not tell how he was cured, but it did not follow that Mr. Quimby himself was ignorant of the manner in which he performed the cure.”(1)
(1) New England Magazine, March, 1888, p. 273.
There is less documentary evidence to draw upon in the years after 1847, the date of the last experiment in mesmerism of which we have record, and the time when Dr. Quimby was in full possession of his silent method of healing. Naturally newspaper writers were less interested, for this new work was not at all spectacular, like the public exhibitions with Lucius. Moreover, it was harder to understand. For there was now no “subject,” there were in fact no experiments, but simply the quiet development of a method in which Dr. Quimby depended upon his own impressions and intuitions.
So long as it was a question of alleged magnetism Quimby’s work was subject to belief in the mysterious, and he himself was groping his way from belief in the medical faculty and in disease as an entity to a wholly different view. But when he comes to recognize the subtle influence of mind on mind, the power of what we now call suggestion, the expectant attention of onlookers, and his own ability to make an intuitive diagnosis in a wholly normal state, we find his thought moving in the realm of sure principles and fixed laws. His letters to patients indicate that he still gave much prominence to physical conditions, and advised his patients with reference to them. But that was because the patients must have concrete facts to interpret, substituting Quimby’s new view for that of medical diagnosis. The patients ordinarily had no one to depend on save Dr. Quimby, since such healing was not then recognized. Hence they wrote frequently to him and reported their progress, that he might advise them anew.
Again, the experimental period was in a measure more intelligible to the public because the mesmeric activities turned upon the control of one mind by another. The excerpts quoted above have told us that Quimby had exceptional powers of concentration and remarkable control over his subject. The change which he passed through in the intermediate period was from the idea of merely human control to that of inner receptivity to Divine wisdom, and the dedication of all powers of concentration to the carrying out of spiritual ideals. This change was hard to follow, since few people believed in such direct access to higher wisdom, and all thoughts directed to another’s mind were supposedly for the sake of controlling that mind. The prevailing interest in spiritism was no help, for that theory also encouraged belief in the mere action of one spirit on another; it did not trace guidance to the Divine mind. The teachings of the Church were not favorable, for Dr. Quimby’s work centered interest upon the patient’s own inner life at large, not upon the mere problems of sin and salvation. Therefore, the new trail had to be blazed alone.
Still further, Quimby’s reaction against medical theory and practice in his experimental period was a reaction from all sciences based on external signs or appearances, matters that could not be proved. His most frequent reference is to “opinion” taken for truth, and his early articles are directed against all such suggestions or assertions. There must then be a true Science, so he reasoned, which is indeed verifiable. This wisdom will take into account man’s real as opposed to his apparent condition. It will not deny the actuality of human beliefs accepted as truth, while the spell is unbroken; it will break that spell and show people that an error regarded as truth is for the time being as real as life itself. It will therefore build upon psychological facts, but higher facts must gradually be brought into view.
The basis for this Science was laid in a measure by the discovery that the human spirit possesses senses or powers which function independently of matter. These “spiritual senses,” as Quimby later called them, include not merely sight or clairvoyance but the power of detecting odors and atmospheres at a distance, the ability to read another’s mind, and to travel in spirit, making oneself both felt and seen if the recipient of such a visit were himself clairvoyant. For the higher purposes now in view it did not very much matter whether Lucius had actually seen the condition of a diseased body or had merely read from the patient’s mind, and from the minds of others present, what the patient or others merely thought was the disease; in either case the clairvoyant feat was significant. It established the fact that clairvoyance was possible without the aid of spirits; and, when Quimby found that he possessed the same powers, it established the fact that this clear-seeing is possible without mesmeric sleep. What was needed, therefore, was a higher, genuinely spiritual psychology. We find Quimby in his articles endeavoring to express that psychology, always greatly hampered by language and the fact that he had no co-workers save those who helped him to express his ideas.
But if the facts of spiritual perception gave the basis in part for a higher view of the human spirit, there was still another principle to be achieved, that is, the adding of the idea of “the Christ” as common to the works of healing of Gospel times and to those of the new day. There are no references to this idea in the earlier newspaper articles which have been preserved or in the earliest letters to patients. But when we turn to later letters and to the first articles written in the Portland period, in 1859 and early in 1860, we find this idea in full recognition as an essential part of the teaching then given. This shows that if it passed through a period of gradual development, that development must have been begun long before; since this view is not brought forward tentatively but with habitual conviction.
[This is the second installment of a four part series originally written and published as Chapter VI. INTERMEDIATE PERIOD, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
“Christ is the embodiment of that wisdom that sympathizes with the earthly man and reveals to him the truth that will correct his errors, forgive his sins and heal his diseases. I make a difference between what I say as a man and what I feel as a physician. As a man I cannot see or feel a person’s feelings, for such is the natural state of man. But as a physician, I give myself in perfect faith to the guidance of a higher wisdom than that of man which feels and sympathizes with the sick. Everyone who becomes aware of this wisdom gives it the praise and calls it by some name. Jesus called it his Father and the Son of God. Herod, when told of the marvelous words of Jesus, called it the spirit of John the Baptist. Peter called it Christ. Therefore people generally believed in some spiritual power acting on man as they do now. Many persons tell me my power comes from some spirit and give me more than I ask, but very few are willing to admit that I know more about my cures than they do. Jesus never said that he, the man, was God; but he strove to teach the people of the existence of a living principle of wisdom to which matter was subject, and this truth being fully revealed to his mind, he called it the son of God, admitting it in every act and never teaching that the flesh and blood of the natural man was God. The dispute between him and the people was not whether he, the man Jesus, was God or Christ or John the Baptist, but whether the man Jesus had any claim to wisdom superior to that of any wise man or prophet. He contended that he had and, in his words, he showed a wisdom superior to their own; but they, not understanding how such works as his could be done intelligently, were deaf to his words of wisdom and ascribed to him a mysterious power. Therefore they accepted his works as miracles but failed to receive him as a teacher of truth.” ~ Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
[Source: Defense Against an Accusation of Making Myself Equal to Christ. This article is included in Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond, beginning on page 193.]
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond is the ultimate reference source for historically accurate information of this nineteenth-century clockmaker turned metaphysical teacher and healer. Including the Missing Works of P. P. Quimby; based on new and independent research by the editor, the present volume surpasses all previously published “complete” compilations of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby’s writings in size, scope and historical accuracy. Published by the Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Resource Center.
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Today, we continue to explore the INTERMEDIATE PERIOD of Phineas Quimby’s personal development, with the second installment, outlined in chapter 6 of The Quimby Manuscripts, by Horatio W. Dresser in 1921.
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Horatio Willis Dresser, the first child of Julius Alphonso Dresser and Annetta Gertrude (Seabury) Dresser, was born on January 15, 1866, or the day before Quimby died. His parents first met, fell in love and then married while they were each patients of Dr. Quimby during the years of his healing practice in Portland, Maine.
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