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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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What Is Death?

What is death? It is a belief. For if it is a fact, there can be no evidence of its coming to life. A person is alive or he is dead. He can't be both, although we hear of the living telling how they died and what they went through. Now if a person can tell all it is said they can, it is proof that they are not dead. Now first settle what a man is of himself after he is dead. According to the spiritualists' mode of reasoning, he cannot be a spirit for they say he is the same person, wears the same clothes and is flesh and blood. Now Jesus says flesh and blood cannot enter heaven, so accordingly these spirits, as they are called, cannot be flesh and blood; if they are, they cannot be spirits, for the same author says spirits have not flesh and bones. Jesus would not allow that he was a spirit but that he had flesh and bones as he had before he was crucified. So he either told a falsehood or his dead body rose, and if that rose, he did give people to believe a lie, for he said as touching the dead, God is not the God of the dead but the living. He also said, They that rise from the dead, not that they rise, etc. Now all this seems like a contradiction. So it is, if you take the Christian's explanation. But if you will take Jesus' explanation, it is clear, for he never had any idea of death as the Christians say he had; his ideas were at variance with all the world. He never taught any other world as was believed by the religious Jews. He made man up of ideas.

To make a man like Jesus' ideas, you must take a child. The child according to his ideas was a blank so the child's existence was not dependent on itself nor a belief nor an opinion. It was a living fact, a child with an identity susceptible of progression. Now as the child's growth of body depended on food, so the growth of its intelligence depended on wisdom or opinions. As the child began to learn, its identity became attached to its knowledge. Now its knowledge embraced flesh and blood and memory and all the senses and everything it learned. Now to lose its memory of what it was would be to destroy its life for its life was a part of itself but its wisdom can create all that it knows. Knowledge is a created element but wisdom is infinite and eternal. It is God, and every person is a God just as far as he is wisdom. To know this is life, for this wisdom will teach man that wisdom is from everlasting to everlasting. Here is the trouble. The knowledge of man is finite and must be forgotten and destroyed, but wisdom not being matter cannot be destroyed.

Now man is a living principle of God, like mathematics. Mathematics is wisdom reduced to practice. The effects of mathematics must be destroyed while the wisdom remains. For instance, take a steam engine. All the principles must exist when the engine is torn to pieces. Now man reasons as though the engine were the living principle and when that is destroyed, the principle or identity of mathematics is dead; but if we stop to think, we shall see the folly of this. Now every machine and every mathematical calculation that has ever been reduced to practice existed before it was formed. Now the wisdom was as separate from each other as the results are. For instance, see the art of printing all over the world. See the amount or identities or wisdom acting upon matter, each having its own identity of wisdom as well as of matter. See the varieties of all sorts of wisdom.

Now suppose that every printing office in the natural world should be destroyed at one blow. Is there any life of printing in existence? The ignorant would say all is dead, but every identity of the printing world would know that this is not so. Each has its own identity. So with man; his body is a machine shop or scientific world carried on by the wisdom of God in the identity of man. Each identity claims its own self. The matter is the fruits of its development. If it does not develop itself, it does not make itself any the less out of existence but it is like the idiot; it is behind the times. It exists, it must exist, and the destruction of the matter does not destroy the principle called man. Now to me I know I live in the principle, and the principle is like all other principles capable of progression; and as I believe in that, I know that the natural man is ignorant of himself as the child is of any science. Science to the natural man has no identity of wisdom. It does not embrace the properties of thought and reason. Yet everyone knows that everything that has form must have its first start in the First Cause.

Now just raise yourself from the earthly man and wander on the globe and look around and see if you are not with all your faculties, having an identity of your own, leaving the spot but not your identity. This is to the world death, but to wisdom, science and progression. Now what proof is there of what I have said, if proof was wanted to establish the foregoing? Volumes could be written to establish this one fact: that a person sitting in his chair or lying on the bed in a state of unconsciousness to the natural world can be at a distance conversing with persons explaining what was going on. Now the objection is that the person is alive for he comes back. If the body is destroyed, then there is no evidence that what I say is true. This false mode of reasoning arises from our ignorance of what man is. When we find that man, like his God, cannot be seen by the natural eye but is like a principle put in practice, then we shall see just how learned or wise we are. What we see has as much to do with the man as the engine of a steamboat lying at a wharf in Portland with the intelligence of the maker in New York. How many people ever saw Franklin, the father of electricity? Yet he exists as much as he did one hundred years ago. Franklin is the name of that wisdom reduced to practice through a medium of flesh and blood, and a body of galvanic batteries. His wisdom was as much in his experiments as in his body and more so, for his body was not the machine to exhibit his wisdom. So he had to create new bodies to illustrate his truth. Now to suppose this truth existed in his batteries or body is to deny the existence of any wisdom outside of man.

1863

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