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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Definition of Words, The

As I may have used some words in my writings which may have conveyed to the reader a different meaning from that intended, it will not perhaps be out of place to state some of the words which occur frequently in my writings. For instance, the word mind might be so construed as to mean the definition given it by man in general, that is, the intellectual power of man. The world here makes mind the intelligence while I make it the medium of intelligence. Here we have one point of difference and this difference runs all though my writings. In no case do I admit mind to be wisdom, but when the word might be used without misleading the reader as to its meaning, I may use it, but in the same sense as we say the sun rises and sets knowing all the time that in reality it is not true, yet it conveys the idea of night and day.

I believe mind to be a certain combination of matter under the control of wisdom and error. I make what we call man the medium of two ideas: one of wisdom and the other of error. The body is like the globe, the earth being the medium of the seed. Man's body is the globe, his mind the matter acted upon and changed by wisdom which is struggling in the mind to rid itself of the matter or casket which holds it, and the action is called by the world the enlightened part of man where there is no pure wisdom that is clear from error. Wisdom is that which is reduced to science. If I say I can do a thing and do not do it, or say I can do a thing and then do it, neither is wisdom. But if I can teach you how to do a thing so you can do it according to my directions and always have it done right, then that is science or wisdom reduced to practice. To do a problem and know you do it from memory and never reduce it to practice or apply a principle to it so that you can teach it to another is not wisdom but knowledge. So far as the person himself is concerned, he is rich, but his riches are to himself, but the world is not richer in wisdom. Wisdom which cannot be reduced to practice is but knowledge to the world. Here you will see the idea mind introduced into science. Whenever I use words different from the world, the difference between us is this. While the world applies words to literal things as life and death, this and the other world, each of which has two meanings, I never intend to convey the least meaning of the religious world's ideas of them but merely give them as Jesus applied them to man's belief and acts. To do wrong was a sin and this sin was death, and to be converted from the wrong or have the error explained was the forgiving of sin. The resurrection of truth from death is the receiving of the truth in regard to what we are dead in. This is what Jesus believed as I understand it. His coming from and going to his father was coming from truth into a discussion with a person in regard to the troubles which affect him and abiding with him in sympathy till his errors were destroyed and the truth or Jesus' kingdom established in the very place from which the enemy had been driven out. His ideas differed entirely from those of the religious world in regard to the two worlds, yet both use the same words. The disciples could not understand for he says they had eyes, ears and hearts, yet could not understand. Now if their life or salvation hereafter was what he intended to convey the idea of and he believed as the world did in regard to it, then every one might have understood.

If Jesus' ideas of death were like those of the religious people, then when a man died, he was dead as that was the real belief of all sects and parties. The controversy was whether there was anything after death. The religious people of his day tried to entrap him as he used the same words as they did, but they applied them to literal things and he applied the same words to the mind. The difference in the use of words created the controversy but failed in every way to entrap Jesus. I will give an instance where Jesus' ideas came in contact with those of the people.

When he was walking in the temple at Jerusalem, the chief priests, scribes and elders came to him and asked, “By what authority doest thou these things and who gave thee this authority to do these things?” And Jesus answered and said unto them, “I will also ask you one question and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven or of men? Answer me.” And they reasoned with themselves saying, if we shall say, from heaven, he will say, Why did ye not believe, but if we shall say of man, we fear the people, for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell, and Jesus answered and said unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority do I these things. Now it appears that it was his cures that caused the hatred of the chief priests and elders. They knew that the people believed in Jesus, not because he upheld their religion but because he could cure better than anyone else. But how he performed his cures was the question. The priests pretended it was the power of Beelzebub, but this the mass of the people did not believe. So then the priests sought to find something against him, but all they could find against him was his cures.

Now if man's belief had nothing to do with his sickness, why did Jesus condemn it so? Jesus and Christ are like Saul and Paul, and when the Christ spoke, he did so of himself as God or Wisdom, while the Jews thought he spoke as a man like themselves. When the chief priests came to him and inquired, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders, for they wash not their hands when they eat bread? He asked them, Why do ye also transgress the commandments of God by your tradition? For God commanded saying, Honor thy father and mother and he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say whosoever shall say to his father or mother, it is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited and honor not his father or mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouths but their heart is far from me, but in vain do you worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the multitude and said unto them, Hear and understand, not that which goeth into the mouth defileth the man but that which cometh out, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard these sayings? But he answered and said, Every plant or idea that my heavenly father or wisdom hath not planted shall be rooted up. All these ideas Jesus had to contend against for they created sickness amongst the people. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly and is cast unto the draught? But those things that proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart and they defile the man, for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false worship, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man. After this, as Jesus was departing, a woman of Canaan cried unto him saying, Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, thou son of David, my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. Jesus said unto her, Be it unto thee as thou wilt, and her daughter was made whole from that very hour. Now if the priests had not taught the existence of a devil, then the woman would not have been vexed with one. Jesus knew it was her belief and therefore kept silent, but the mother cried the louder and entreated him to cure her, and when he saw her faith, he cured her daughter.

Now here was a cure performed where the disease was in the mind, as probably no one at the present time believes that the woman had a devil vexing her that could be seen by the natural eye. Perhaps the world's wisdom and knowledge have not been defined as clearly as they might be. Wisdom is demonstrated by science, so it cannot be misunderstood. Knowledge may be wisdom undefined, so it comes under the head of chance and opinions or memory. To know a fact that you cannot explain is not wisdom but knowledge, while to know a fact that you can explain on the wisdom of someone else is not wisdom. To know the globe is round because someone said so is knowledge, but to know it from mathematical calculation is wisdom. To know that a ball thrown in the air will fall to the ground again is wisdom, but to know why it returns with the same force is science. You may admit it, but if you cannot explain it on a scientific principle, then it is knowledge. When I use the word knowledge, I do not mean science or wisdom. Science is the medium by which man proves that he has wisdom; opinions may deceive but science never does. All theories based on science are proved by their standing, and all theories based on the traditions and opinions of the world are knowledge and are not to be believed as true.

Religion, politics, the medical science falsely so called are all based on opinions and will someday fall. All are founded on superstition and ignorance and cannot stand the test of investigation and, like slavery, they must give way to science. It is man's religion and God's wisdom, Jesus or Christ. Jesus was the representative of man, while Christ was the science which took away the errors or sins of man. Misery and disease are sins, and to get clear of them, man pays the priests and doctors just according to the law. There are sins unto death, for instance, the sin of consumption. Now if man sins against the laws of the doctors, he must pay the penalty of his sin and die according to the law of the priests and doctors. Thus he gives all he has of life and happiness and becomes poor and distressed, tormented with a cold, cough, etc., all to gratify the belief and pay the penalty. After the doctor has robbed him of his health and happiness and a great share of his worldly gains, finding nothing left of him but a skeleton, he turns that over to the priest in order that he may torment him. This was the condition of the people in the days of Jesus and he warned them to beware of the doctrines of the Scribes and Pharisees, for they bound heavy burdens on the people, grievous to be borne and would not use the tip of their fingers to remove those burdens.

Is there anyone who cannot see that man's disease was made by his belief? If so, I pity their ignorance. Jesus said unto such, Oh Jerusalem! Jerusalem! (or beliefs), thou that killeth the prophets and stoneth them that are sent unto thee (which is science), how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings (and taught you the truth) and ye would not. Behold! Your house (or opinions) are left unto you desolate, for I say unto you, Ye shall not see me till ye shall say, Blessed is he which cometh in the name of the Lord. That is, ye shall not see Science or Christ till ye get wisdom enough to understand, and then ye will say, Blessed is he that cometh in the Science of Wisdom. Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone (or idea of your belief) upon another that shall not be thrown down.

He gave the disciples the sign of his coming and the end of the world or error by saying, Now learn the parable of the fig tree. When his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things (that were taking place in the world) know that it is near, even at the doors. That is, ye may know that man's belief or opinions have come to an end, that man's corruption had ripened into a harvest ready to be reaped. Then would come the new theory or heaven. The world at this time is like the harvest, ripe. Error like the wheat holds up its head, ready to be cut; but when the sickle of wisdom enters the field of error in the hand of freedom, it will cut down the crop of error and disease and slavery, and the fire of liberty will run over the field of aristocracy and burn up the political stubble. Their land or ideas shall be destroyed and their weapons shall be turned into scientific plowshares or teachers that shall plow up the errors of the old rule of slavery or disease; and then shall come a new generation of ideas, free from the old superstition. Then will the signs of the times be near at hand. Ideas will be warring against each other, and while they are eating and drinking in false ideas, the truth will come in the form of science and liberty and sweep away the old men or ideas. And then the young ideas will go from one sabbath to another and look upon the dead carcass (or beliefs) of the men that have transgressed against me, for the worm shall not die; neither shall the fire be quenched, and they shall be an abomination unto all flesh.

This is always the effect of the evil generation of error. Truth and liberty will always work itself out of matter or opinions, and woe be the man that opposes it. It would be better that he should have a millstone about his neck and be cast into the sea of public opinion, and say he knows nothing about the affairs of the world, and takes no interest in the progression of events, than to oppose this truth. Disease is the slavery that Jesus made war against, and as disease is the shadow of man's belief, his belief is the thing to destroy. The sick are bound by some belief that it is wrong, and disease is the punishment of believing an error. A Northern Copperhead is punishing himself, and his punishment will come to maturity sooner or later, for if a Northern man entertains feelings in unison with Southern traitors, he must meet a traitor's reward, for his belief is a disease and contains its own punishment. How often a person will do a wrong act out of spite merely, and then because they start wrong, rather than acknowledge it, they keep on the wrong track out of malice.

To let a person lead you with his ideas is as hard as dismounting from a horse and walking yourself while you let your enemy ride. We punish ourselves in feeling a desire to punish another. Man is an inventive being and will create and put in practice all the ideas that can be thought of. This world is that state of mind where man creates whatever he understands from what he hears and sees. There is another class that have not this mechanical mind. The idiot has not this inventive genius; though if he undertakes to imitate, he becomes really an inventor, for his imitations are so far from the original that they might pass for new inventions. Disease is one of the inventions of man, and if every man had a scientific mind, they would make diseases more alike. But some have no imitation and some no invention, so their ideas are thrown together haphazard and in that way some of the most awful diseases are created that can be thought of. They cannot be described and it is well they cannot, for if they could, they would be more imitated. The true Science of Wisdom is to destroy the disease and put in its place, science. The true science of wisdom is to destroy error.

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