Editor's Note: February 16, 2002 was the 200th anniversary of Quimby's birth.
We all came from somewhere, and people understand us better when they know where we have come from. All of us in New Thought and most of us in the larger meta-physical movement may trace our roots back to the clockmaker from Belfast, Maine, who, in a time before contemporary psychology, discovered the creative functioning of the unconscious and how we may all become aware of the wonders of wellness through self-discovery.
The very first beginning of our New Thought ideology is associated with a healing, which will not surprise us. Many of us, including this writer, experienced healing when we first began to realize the results of our new understanding. When Quimby, a young husband and father desperately ill with tuberculosis, was cured by running with a horse, his investigative mind went searching for the apparently hidden powers of an unconscious agent in humans that could turn a hopeless condition around to full health and energy.
It was a long and persistent quest. The healer that emerged became a powerful, wonderful benefactor of suffering humanity. Living in challenging times like ours, we may be greatly enriched and empowered by our study of the Quimby writings now available for any of us to pursue. When we do this, we will each derive our own benefits as we interpret through the filter of individual understanding the truths we are discovering. So it is with the writer. In our Life Enrichment Centre in Calgary we have an active spiritual healing group, which, although eclectic and therefore utilizing many effective approaches, acknowledges the clear, original wellness principles we believe Quimby taught and practiced. The following is a brief summary of six of these basic ideas, offered here to you with humility and, may I add, great admiration and fondness, commemorating our own original philosopher-healer, Doctor "Park" Quimby:
1. How we feel is the result of belief. Quimby put it this way: "Happiness is what follows a belief." "Disease is what follows false ideas." And "There is no matter independent of mind." What we glean from this is that our life's experiences and the way we feel are determined by our interpretation of what seems real. Therefore, if we change our thinking, we will also change our lives.
To Quimby, life was not static, it is dynamic; it is a process, forever changing, as quantum physics confirms in our time.
2. Belief is either true or false. Said Quimby: "Man is made up of science and ignorance," and "Every opinion is a person that holds the person who believes it." As we look around our own personal world we can easily see how this applies to the news, to opinions about condition, relationship, self, other, opportunities and possibilities. Obviously, what we all need is better ideas.
3. Every new idea or truth was present before we became aware of it. Here's the awareness that we are surrounded, as it were, by a spiritual sea of potential ideas that contains the answers and solutions we are looking for, individually and collectively. This is a tremendous idea if we can grasp it. In Quimby's own words: "If you work out a problem aright, you acknowledge a Wisdom that existed before you knew it." Years later, Carl Jung would refer to this truth as the Archetype of Perfection, which he located in the soul of you and me.
4. We are one with Universal Wisdom or God. Quimby was the first one to use the term science with reference to his spiritual interpretations of life. He felt that what he was working with could be known and identified and taught to others. He felt that life could be understood, and we sense a strong desire on his part to explain this "science of health and happiness," which wasn't based on human opinions of religions and revelation, but on evidence of theories applied to human problems that were being solved. Quimby was not at all religious in the traditional denominational sense, but he was deeply spiritual in the mystical way; as he puts it, "Every man [woman] is a part of God...God and I are one."
5. We can tune in to this Wisdom and be personally guided. When we contemplate the many marvelous stories in the Quimby papers that tell of the close, silent bonding that took place between healer and patient, we can almost feel something very special is taking place: a co-mingling of intuition and compassion, a deep sense of loving understanding that went, oftentimes, far beyond words. One of the ways Quimby describes the results is, "To make the human subject to the Divine is to make man [woman] know himself [herself]." He identifies this with the essence of Jesus: "Christ is the unseen principle in man [woman]."
6. The Universe responds to us. To Quimby, life was not static, it is dynamic; it is a process, forever changing, as quantum physics confirms in our time. This process is of a responsive nature in relation to the belief and consciousness of the individual. Quimby wrote of this phenomenon in simple terms: "Action and reaction are equal." In New Thought, our entire field of practice in affirmative thinking, contemplative meditation, and spiritual mind treatment is based on this principle.
One remarkable feature of Quimby from an historical perspective is, of course, that he was way ahead of his time, and, in many ways, still is ahead of our time as well. We will do well, in honoring Quimby's 200th birthday in this dimension, to take up further serious study of our beloved mentor who so firmly and valiantly set the stage for a new world of wellness, which we so urgently desire in times like ours.
[Originally published in the INTA New Thought Magazine, Spring 2002, Vol 86, Number 1. Reprinted by the Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Resource Center with permission from the author who retains all publishing rights. —Ron Hughes]