November 2, 2014
SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH
Chapter XIX of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
[Continued from last week.—editor.]
EDITOR’S SUMMARY [Concluded]
The Bible, strange as it may seem, “has nothing to do with theology.” It is a scientific explanation of cause and effect, showing how man must act and think for his happiness. It is a study of contrasted elements, such as Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Moses and Aaron, Saul and Paul, Law and Gospel, tares and wheat. It was never intended as a religious book according to the opinion of the world. As a book it “contains no intelligence of itself,” but Intelligence is in it. That is to say, it contains what Swedenborg called “the Word.” Had Quimby been acquainted with Swedenborg’s “Arcana Coelestia,” he would have found a completely worked out science of spiritual correspondences which he would have been inclined to accept at once in principle, although his teachings concerning Jesus are not those of Swedenborg concerning the Lord. His writings contain long articles based on his endeavors to interpret the Scriptures spiritually to his patients. Further than that his exegesis did not go. But he went far enough to set the example followed by Christian Scientists and New–Thought devotees to the present time. He had at least the ideal of a spiritual Science which should be its own evidence, which any one might verify by seeking out the Word.
Religion in the true sense was to Quimby a Science which can be applied for the happiness and health of man here and now. To be religious is to be “more than the natural man.” It yields that wisdom which can say to the sick and palsied man, Stretch forth thine hand, and I will apply the Christ or Science and restore it. Naturally enough Quimby is not interested in the question of sin, and he hardly ever uses the word “evil.” For him it is all a question of ignorance or error. There is neither ignorance nor error in Science, hence no sin or evil. The problem of evil differs in no way from that of disease. Therefore Quimby says nothing about repentance and regeneration. Man already is good in reality. He is Science. He becomes “a part of God” by accepting Divine wisdom as his guide. Quimby does not mean this in the sense of pantheistic submergence of individuality, but in the sense of intimate relationship with that “invisible Wisdom which never can be seen by the eye of opinion.”
If, however, Quimby’s spiritual exegesis might have been fulfilled in Swedenborg’s science of correspondences, we find nothing in his writings pertaining to the realms of evil spirits and angels, and nothing that tells us what for him was the content of the spiritual world. He is not at all interested in psychical experiences except so far as they imply belief in the spiritism of the day, and he opposes this because be finds it fundamentally misleading. He does not raise the question whether there is anything real behind the phenomena, for his interest is to direct attention to the world of Science or “the Christ within.” He is clairvoyant in high degree, but not as “mediums” are, not through self–surrender, but through openness to Divine guidance and intuition.
In one of his critiques of spiritualism, for example, Quimby puts to the typical spiritist the direct questions: “When I speak is it I or my spirit? If it is I, do I think also, and if I think when do I cease thinking? If I lose my organs of speech, etc. belonging to the body, where am I? Am I anything? If I am a spirit, when was I not one? How came I to be flesh and blood and then a spirit? I am either a spirit all the time or I am not, and if I am one what is the change called death, and what dies?” He goes on to say that if the spirit is not “dead” it cannot give an account of what is supposed to have happened, and if it does not “die” there is apparently no way to account for communications purporting to come from the “dead.”
He protests, therefore, against the whole notion that the spirit is the mere thing a seance would make it out to be. Our real existence or selfhood does not change. True memory persists, for it is eternal, while memory attached to this existence “belongs to the idea, matter.” Our real life is composed of light and wisdom, while matter is employed to work out our problems. We are spirits now even while in the flesh. In the spirit we do our real thinking, real living. Hence our real “future life” will have continuity with this life according to the persistence of our most interior identity.
To realize what the spirit is now we should lift our thoughts into spiritual light, bringing together the various items of inner experience to make vivid our conception of the self with all its real or spiritual senses. We do not need to “die” to apprehend these apart from matter, for there never was any matter in them. They are from God or Wisdom. They are what give us visions of objects at a distance, disclosing the inner states of the sick, acquainting us with interior thoughts, revealing “odors” or atmospheres, in short, the whole sphere of the inner life.
A mesmeriser or spiritist medium has, in Quimby’s description, but one identity; while he, Quimby, when clairvoyant has two. To have but one is to yield one’s selfhood to a mysterious power or “spirit” without awareness of what is taking place. But if one has learned, as Quimby knew from long experience, that the real identity, self or spirit possesses these inner powers as a completely equipped being of intelligence, made in the Divine image and likeness, endowed with Divine wisdom as guidance, then one also has a secondary consciousness or identity which is aware of what is going on in the natural world and in man’s natural mind.
So acute was Quimby’s own intuition that in two of his descriptive articles he tells what he saw as if beholding reality itself, when sitting by patients who thought they were dying, and who visualized death by peopling the supposed future world according to their own belief. So vivid was his experience in one instance that he refers to evil spirits almost as if he were afraid of them, though speaking of them as mere creations in the world of opinion. That is, he saw the alleged future life with the eyes of his patient, knew that it was an alleged world simply, and that tho patient’s real world was still an unknown quantity to the patient himself. So he was in the habit of entering the thought–world of all his patients, to see how the situation appeared to the patient. He was able to do this with remarkable sympathy. But thereupon he would make the sharpest sort of distinction between this world of seeming reality and the true spiritual world of the Divine wisdom. A spiritist’s world may be as full of error as a theologian’s future state. Each world sends off its “atmosphere” which the intuitive can discern. We are not free until we make the same discrimination, noting the difference between the world we have been taught to create through error or belief and the world we might know through the inner disclosures of Wisdom.
The spirits most of us believe in are the shadows of our own imagination as surely as the ghosts supposed to haunt graveyards at night. Man should know that he lives in the world of his beliefs. “The whole error on which spiritualism is based is a belief in a world separate and apart from the living.” We should learn that “belief separates, Wisdom unites.” We should begin by learning, therefore, what the true basis of union is even here and now while we live with the flesh, when we communicate with the living. For the real world of the living is the same for all, whereas the world of mere belief is purely relative. Not until we have begun to grow in first–hand acquaintance with spiritual truth, not until we enter the world of Science do we know the one true spiritual world which exists for all. We might go on generating phenomena to the end of time, each in his particular world of Protestantism or Catholicism, Mormonism, reincarnationism and the like, and never arrive anywhere. The only way to arrive is to put a stop to the whole procedure, right about face and ask ourselves what we actually know, what the facts are, what that truth is which can be demonstrated like mathematics.
Dr. Quimby’s great conviction is that there is a spiritual Science, superior even to the most exact of the natural sciences, which is the basis of all true knowledge and the source of all true wisdom. He is willing to be misunderstood, charged with putting down religion, making himself equal to Christ, classified as a mere mesmerist or in any other way if only he can make it clear that there is a straight pathway to this Science. So he frequently speaks of himself as a lawyer pleading the case of the sick in “the court of Science.” In some of his longest articles he introduces the patient first, questioning her to show how little the patient really knows, then he summons the typical doctor, afterwards a typical minister, till the whole case is perfectly clear so far as the wisdom of the world is concerned. He speaks with entire fearlessness when exposing hypocrisy and sordidness. He proves that the sufferer has been victimized. Then when error has not a vestige of reality to stand upon he bespeaks “the Christ within” as manifesting real justice, true health and freedom.
It is impressively significant that Quimby never judges a case by affirming abstract perfection. The patient would not be free if he did not understand his own case, its causes and illusions. The doctor’s verdict or the minister’s diagnosis in terms of sin is as real to the victim as a spiritist’s world to a believer in spiritism or the political world to a demagogue. We are all victims of some sort of demagogue, and must know this for a fact. Why then should we deny what we must understand in order to overcome our servitude? The patient realizes that he is entering an entirely new world when he finds his great healer so sympathetic that the healer puts himself absolutely in the patient’s place, taking upon himself the burdens which doctors and priests have created. This wins the patient’s confidence. Then he is astonished to find that the whole burden dissipates when the power of Quimby’s Science is brought upon it.
This is the picture Quimby would have us bear away with our study of his writings. God or Wisdom is so very real that external forms are mere semblances put on to objectify His truth. We are not to think of the universe as the home of matter, as that in which God dwells; instead all things are in God as intimately as ideas are in the mind, all things are meant for good, all things are guided by Wisdom. This Wisdom is in us, we live in this Wisdom, and when we identify ourselves with His image and likeness the new birth will begin, we shall begin in very truth to live and think from Him. This Life within us will accomplish the work, as shadows disappear before the morning sun. This Wisdom will create the same true world in us all.
[This is the twelfth and final installment of an twelve–part series originally written and published as Chapter XIX. SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
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Today we conclude an twelve–part serial review of Chapter 19, SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH, of the 1921 publication, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser.
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