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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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THE COMPLETE QUIMBY

C. Alan Anderson

 

Dr. C. Alan Anderson (1930-2012)

ONE reason why 1988 will be memorable is that it was the year in which the complete writings of Phineas Parkhurst (“Park”) Quimby (1802-1866) were published. This is the result of decades of work by Dr. Ervin Seale and the late E. S. Collie. I also have been privileged to make some contributions to the project.

Ernest Holmes, in one of his seminar lectures, observed that “our whole system of teaching is based upon Quimby’s concept that the things which have to be resolved are mental, not physical.”

A century and a half ago Quimby, a Maine clockmaker, photographer, and inventor, began experimenting with mesmerism or hypnotism. At that time the usual explanation of mesmerism included the materialistic belief that there was an invisible, electrical fluid connecting one mind with another. However, Quimby concluded that there was no such fluid, but that one mind acts directly on another mind. This was the great principle by which he arrived at the first stage of his metaphysical development.

Quimby abandoned mesmerism and developed his type of spiritual healing, which he believed to be the method used by Jesus. In this second stage, he maintained the explanation that “the Truth is the cure,” as he put it. This culmination of his thought and practice is the second sense in which one might well refer to the complete Quimby, the first sense referring to the complete collection of his writings.

One of the most interesting and important parts of Quimby’s writings, left unpublished until last year, is his early “lecture notes,” revealing that he had somewhat greater knowledge of philosophers than has been assumed. These now published early writings show that he was exposed to anti-idealistic “Scottish Common Sense Realism.” Probably because of this influence, he failed to embrace conventional metaphysical idealism, which holds that mind or spirit is the only reality. However, he came to this same conclusion as a result of his own experience.

Despite the original, distinctive and often confusing terminology that Quimby used, it is possible to summarize his views, though all too briefly, here.

Quimby saw the essence of matter as its changeability and that of Divine Wisdom as its constancy. What we experience as matter is the result of the action of fallible human belief and infallible Divine Wisdom on the lower level of mind, which Quimby called “spiritual matter.” By turning to Wisdom, we can allow the Truth to remedy the situations generated by false beliefs. Thus we become complete, Divinely-oriented Wholes.

(Dr. C. Alan Anderson is Professor of Philosophy and Religion in Curry College, Milton, MA 02186. He is the author of The Problem is God, God In a Nutshell, and Metaphysical Mousetraps.)

[Originally written for a 1989 issue of Creative Thought magazine. Republished here through the courtesy of Anderson-Whitehouse Process New Thought.]

 

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