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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Death

What is the true definition of death? Death is the name of an idea; an idea is matter so that the destruction of an idea is death. Every opinion has its center and its center is the idea. Now if a person believes in anything that is founded on an opinion, the idea is in the opinion, and the senses being also in the opinion are attached to the idea. This imprisons the senses in the opinion. Now the idea is of itself nothing but an opinion condensed into a solid and called matter and every word goes to make the idea. So to make an idea, men reason about something they have no proof of, only as an opinion.

The word is called reasoning, governed by their wisdom and their wisdom is of the natural man or error. It affects the mind of their opponent so they build their building or opinion out of their error, and in the center is the idea; and if they succeed in establishing their opinion, they imprison their opponent in their opinion and the misery is what flows from the idea.

I will illustrate. Take the word “consumption.” This word is of itself nothing to the person who never heard of it. To make it is to create the opinion or building and then reduce it to an idea; so matter in the form of words is so arranged as to make the idea in an opinion. Now as the opinion is forming in the mind, a chemical change is going on and the matter is held in solution until it is condensed into a form according to the pattern given by the direction; and after the opinion is fairly established in the mind and the person or idea in the center, the senses are then attached to the idea and become a part of it; so the senses become wedded to the idea and both are held in the belief or opinion. Now to separate the senses from the idea is death to the idea but life to the senses. This separation is what is called death, but it is only death to the one idea.

Man is always dying and living in progression, for error or opinion must always be in the mind and mind must always exist until time is no more. Man is made of science and ignorance or life and death. Man, seen by the senses, is the center of our belief and the senses are attached to the idea called man, so the idea, “man,” varies as much as one star differs from another. No two men or ideas are alike, so each idea, “man,” is composed of error and science. The word brute embraces all kinds of dumb animals, so the word man embraces all kinds of characters that vary as much as the brutes. Each idea, man and brute, is made of this combination called mind combined and held together by a superior wisdom to the matter.

I will now give you an illustration of what I call life and death of the animals. The animal is content to be just as he is and seeks no wisdom above his kind; he lives the animal and when his identity is destroyed, he is forgotten by his race; but this is only my opinion. But the animal that is dead to the living is as much alive in the higher state of matter or mind as the man who loses his idea. Each retains his own identity but man is progressive and the beast is the same forever. The beast has but one rotation of life and death but man lives all his life subject to death. So that to destroy one idea called death, he is liable to die again and again to the end of time unless his wisdom destroys death by the science of life. The last enemy to science is death, so the scientific man or idea shall reign till all error is destroyed.

All identities called man are not the same. There is the well identity of man, the lame, the sick, the deaf, the dumb and so on. I might enumerate as many varieties of men or identities as there are stars in the firmament. Each varies from the other and all are called man. Now all men are liable to have a combination of all these identities. For instance, a well man or child is an identity. Now it changes to a sick identity, so the well identity is destroyed and the child's senses are attached to the identity of a disease. Man's life is a life of progression governed by science or error, so to know what makes happiness is to know what makes misery. The science of life is to know how to keep man from getting into death or error. This is my theory—to put man in possession of a science that will destroy all the above ideas of the sick and teach man one living progression of his own identity, with life free from error and disease. Now as man passes through these combinations, they differ one from another; so will it be in the resurrection of the dead to life, freed from their false ideas and in truth. Now suppose that man could be so wise as to know every sensation that affects his senses. He could never change, so he would be always the same. Now take another that believes in all the opinions of man and he is dying and living all the time, dying to error and living to truth till he dies the death of all his opinions or beliefs. Therefore to be free from death is to be alive in truth, for sin or error is death and science or wisdom is eternal life and this life is the Christ.

March 1861

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