Notes from the Dresser Class — 1887

Parts of Abby Perry's notes taken
at the Dresser Lectures — in 1887

Lecture I

Sickness & suffering are caused & have been caused by error belief & opinion & fear — An opinion is not truth, but a theory of truth, but understanding is knowledge of the truth — or truth proved to be truth.

Our minds conscious & unconscious, are filled with a mass of errors with regard to illness. We are used to thinking of our minds as a whole & as being in our heads, & yet what are our minds? Our minds are store-houses of all the impressions good & bad, of all the opinions & ideas we have had since we were babies & very little of this mind is conscious at once now, in addition to our minds (mortal) conscious & unconscious, is the universal mortal mind about us made up of the impressions, beliefs, opinions of people in general & for ages past. This is all in the direction of error — of making these bodies of ours capable of sickness, of suffering in themselves, of treating them as if they were independent beings, as if our minds were in them instead of they existing in our minds.

Now we want to prove to you that this flesh & blood of itself & in itself has no life, no feeling, no power, & only by truth & the understanding of it, can error be got rid of. In the light of truth, error must disappear. To this error & the feelings of fear are the causes of disease & suffering.

Lesson II

This was upon the idea of God & was really grand. First they made a few quotations from the Bible — as, "In Him we live & move & have our being" "For God worketh in us to will & to do etc." saying that we believe, but do not understand them, that we say that in Him we live & move, that He works in us — but what does that really mean. In what part of us, where in us is God? Now let us turn a moment & see what He is, who lives in us — & in whom we live. Now to start with we must cast off all limitations of form, for He is Infinite. Take the different attributes & remember that each one is Infinite — Infinite goodness which combines Infinite Wisdom, Justice, Love, Truth, etc. "The same yesterday, today & forever"

Now turn to us, with every bit of goodness, wisdom, justice, truth, love, righteousness, that we have in us, have we not just so much of God?

Before we know that, we think that these attributes are our own, but if they originated with us we should be creators. So we are merely mediums for God to work through, & the new birth, the understanding, is the awakening to this knowledge. And instead of His being far off, He is within — "working in us to will & to do?" It is like a plant growing in a cellar, forcing its way up, obeying a hidden drawing towards something, though it has known only darkness. Still it reaches up. Suddenly some one opens the shutter & the light streams in & floods it. Does it not then feel through every part of it, what it has been feeling after, what it has been growing for? It understands then — God is not far away, a vague principle or spirit to our minds. He is in every good thing we do, in every pure feeling of love we have, in every good thought, & thus we bring him into our daily lives, for can we go to our daily business & work, without wisdom. Can we do anything good in any direction without Him? We even "live & move & have our being in him." When we understand this & turn our faces towards Him — realizing that we are simply mediums for Him to act through, making ourselves the purest mediums we can, & consciously putting ourselves into communion with him, is there any limit to what we may do, to the power we may have, with Infinity to draw from.

Lessons III & IV

Matter is simply the expression of idea — of spirit — existing only as an expression, with no power of itself or in itself. We exist as separate ideas of God & our bodies are the expressions of these ideas. Our bodies are the expression of God's thought or idea, & as a thought of His, must be perfect. God gives us powers of our own, of thought, & will & understanding & puts us here to work out our own salvation to work through finite error into Infinite Truth. Our bodies are faithful mirrors of our minds & spirits. Matter exists only as expression of idea, is nothing to God. He sees only the idea, but we have grown to think mostly of the expression & we have lost the idea.

Questions were asked as to whether we should take care of our bodies. Mrs. Dresser said that we were not to try experiments with our bodies that we wanted to grow out of the thought of our bodies, & as we did that we should find ourselves growing out of the need of the care. We have been facing the wrong way for so long — turning our faces towards our bodies, now we are to change & turn towards the light & our bodies will take care of themselves — as the expressions of our spirits.

We need not say we have no body — that there is no expression, but to recognize it as an expression, & by harmonizing it with the spirit, make it one with God — a perfect expression. If you see a rose, that rose exists as an expression of a thought, an idea which is beautiful, & the expression is beautiful & God's expression, though to him the thought is the rose.

Lesson V

Upon death — so-called death is the result of finite thought & error — God could only have meant this expression of His idea —(the body) to always represent that idea — Christ's strongest desire seems to have been to do away with the idea of death. God fills all space, is All in All. We have believed that when we die we shall be nearer Him than we are now but how can we be any nearer, excepting as we grow more like Him & can we not do that here & now. What we want to do is to "die daily" as Paul said — die to some error, rise to some truth & so bring our Heaven here & now. Christ said "the Kingdom of Heaven is within you" & that surely has no more to do with the so-called Heaven than with our life here. Some one asked if they thought nothing was to be gained by dying. Mrs. Dresser said we should at last learn one thing that our bodies were nothing but an expression. Another asked if we should be well & happy there? Mrs. Dresser said that as we had the idea that we should be well after death as firmly rooted in our minds as the idea of death itself. We probably should be well, but that the same result might be brought about here by the same belief & understanding of the truth.

Practically we must accept this so-called death as the result of centuries of error of belief, but why fear it? or long for it? Why have any thought about it? This is eternity in which we are living now & our one object should be to die to error, to live in Truth, to make ourselves one with God & to help others towards Him.

Our whole life should be that: whether here or "there" & we are as near God here as we grow to be & we live be no nearer there.

If we get rid of all fear of death, we will find that we have done much to lengthen life.

Lesson VI

Upon the causes of disease in a general way.

We really have our health & happiness in our own hands.

In illness a doctor looks at results & treats them on their own ground, instead of looking for cause — it is always caused by the mind — the illness being only the expression. Congestion of the brain is congestion of thought.

We do not need resignation to death. What real difference does it make whether we go or stay, We are in eternity now & are as near God, if we open our hearts to Him, & our minds & spirit to the truth, as we can be anywhere.

On the other hand we can be no nearer Him there as far as place is concerned. We will fight against this finite error of death as long as we can — & make our aims one for Eternity — but when it comes it is nothing to be resigned to. God is "All in All" — Resigned invalids are resigned to an error, & it is hard to work against such cases, for the will is weakened as far as overcoming the error is concerned.

Mrs. Dresser gave a practical illustration of the effect of mind upon health. Supposing some one should come into this room now & accuse me of being a fraud — there would be two ways of taking it — one in a spirit of large charity, such as Christ's "Forgive them, they know not what they do" — with no thought of self & so no disturbance — or to get angry — feel hurt & brood afterwards. Sooner or later there would be a disturbance in health — a headache perhaps.

A learning to take hold of ourselves & things in the largest spirit of charity, is the basis of self-treatment.

On the subject of poisons, Mr. Dresser said that man through ignorance & fear & error has managed to turn almost everything to the possibility of evil, for he has made death, King. He has put him everywhere into the sunlight, so that tie rays of the sun have power to kill into the air so that our bodies can freeze, etc. About the only thing he has left him out of is color, though green & some others are beginning to be associated with this king.

God made all things good & for good, & it is man, who has managed to find evil in them.

Questions were asked on the result of taking poison, not knowing that it was poison — & they explained the universal, finite mind — the accumulation of the opinions, prejudices & beliefs which we all hold in common, which is so strong an effect of finite mind, in the direction of error — (A mind is the strongest human thing in the world) that it will fill any form of so-called matter, making it harmful or helpful, as we give it power. Our being individually conscious or unconscious at the time of taking it could not make the whole difference for the whole weight of the universal mind is on the side of the poison & then, too we do not realize how our unconscious minds are made up of these same opinions & beliefs of error & of fear.

Lesson VII

What is the cause of disease?

The result of finite mind, dwelling in error, ignorance, or fear. Truth is unchangeable. Sensation is in mind & without mind there is no sensation & as our pains come to us only through our senses, they are only in mind.

What is the idea of God?

Without limitation of form, omnipresent, Infinite — infinite wisdom, love, life, truth, peace — unchangeable. He cannot exist in error which is only in our finite minds. He has given us minds capable of thinking & reasoning & leaves us to work out our salvation, to grow out of ignorance & error into truth. He means us for health & happiness & we lose both only because of our ignorance & our blindness. They are possible to each soul.

If we search after Truth, we shall surely find it, & the first touch of it upon the soul is the new birth, the understanding & from that time we can grow into the health & happiness.

What are these so-called bodies of ours?

They are God's expression of His thought & idea — real to us — but not real in themselves. The universe about us is the expression of God's ideas. Does God fill all space? even that occupied apparently by our so-called bodies & the objects about us?

If we could once wholly grasp that idea that our bodies have no room, that all is God, we should understand the whole subject & the more we could grasp it the more power we should have.

What is death?

Death has come about through man's belief in error, that in death we throw off the density of ourselves, not from God's point of view do we go out of our bodies. To Spirit there is no matter, & as we grow more in spirit, matter grows less to us. Finite mind makes matter what it seems to be.

Lesson VIII

Upon the causes of disease. Grief, trouble of any kind, & unfortunate temperaments were the causes of much disease, for if not taken in the right way, they are sure to appear as expressions in some form of so-called illness.

Mrs. Dresser spoke of there being nothing of themselves in their treatments — that they made themselves mediums to the Healing Power — or rather it was as if she & her patients were both in a room, bright with sun-light & the patient had a thick bandage over her eyes — her work was to remove the bandage & let her see that the light was all around her — that she had only thought, it was dark.

Our attitude of mind towards those about us influences them to correspond to our idea of them, so that we have much power in the direction of health or sickness, by our unconscious thought even of those about us.

Mrs. Dresser said in treating, she did not think of the patient's body in any way. She simply tried to impress the truth on their understanding.

Lesson IX

The power of thought is the greatest power in the world — if two person, two friends, should be alone together, sitting by the side of each other, there would be an atmosphere of thought between them, even though there were no words spoken, if they should sit down together & one should give herself up to the other, who should concentrate her mind upon the highest, noblest & most hopeful thoughts for her, she could not help feeling an uplifting influence, & if one was in sorrow or ill & the other should turn her thought consciously towards the Wisdom, just as far as her thought was in the Wisdom could she have power to help.
If you go to a friend in sorrow, & feel only her suffering, you enter into her state of mind, but if you see through it & are strong & full of hope & courage yourself for her, you cannot leave her, even if you have said nothing, without her feeling something of fresh courage & hope.

As soon as you wrote that on paper you saw the folly of being thus troubled. When you resolve to overcome anything that looks foolish, of course you act in wisdom (the opposites of foolishness); then if you remember that wisdom is an infinite quantity & character you will see that you can succeed, & need not fear that you cannot.

By our thought we help out of error, or plunge deeper in, those of whom think. It is so with anyone who is not doing as we would have them, we allow ourselves to think of them & to associate them in our minds with the evil habit or the wrong doing whatever it may be thereby entering into it with them & helping to hold them in it, Our thought should be of them always as they should be, as God means them to be — as in their spiritual reality they are, since they are thoughts of God, it is the same with a person who is ill, or is suffering in any way if you think of them in that errors, or under that cloud, your thought helps to keep them there.

A Mother has everything her own way for her child. Absolute and complete is her influence for good or for evil — not only in her own thought, but in moulding the mind of her child.

The finite mind is like a sensitive plate taking first our impression & then another.

The ordinary idea of prayer has come about from our likening God to an earthly potentate or a human parent, based upon the supposition that He had not a true knowledge of facts & so we must put them before Him, expecting to change His mind by begging & imploring.

When you get tired & try to rest, do not hold the tired feeling as a part of yourself, but consider it as something that must drop & vanish as soon as you think so; or rather consider it as nothing in itself, & therefore it: J.A. Dresser

God is unchangeable Wisdom. He never acts — we must put ourselves into cooperation with Him, into the Wisdom & we shall not ask in vain. He cannot be in error — we must turn from error & to Him. Otherwise it would be as if we were to go into a dark room, wanting the light & imploring God to send it. The light exists & is meant for us — but it is for us to act — to open the shutters & let it in — to go towards it.

It was Jesus (the finite mind) who begged that the cup might pass from him, but it was the Christ who said, "no my will but Thins be done" — In the deepest sense there could be no truer prayer than that of the Christ — but in many ways that sentence has done more harm than almost any other. People have taken it in the sense that if they were ill or suffering, they must be content to stay right there, feeling that sorrow was sent just to be borne, not taking in, that sorrow & suffering must be gone through their meaning learned & applied. God's will studied, & something gained in understanding each time to help the next — so making life fuller & richer & therefore through the understanding of the meaning of it all, making the suffering less all the time.

In treating one should think of each patient as representing a perfect spiritual reality — a thought of God. Any so-called illness, even the outward appearance of it, though it seems solid, are only thoughts, which have been held on to until they have become dense.

Lessons X, XI & XII

These three were upon treatment. In the first came the subject of animals, that it was a noticeable fact that in a wild state they were very seldom sick, but as soon as they came under man's influence through domestication, they not only had diseases, but the same diseases that he had. Animals are supposed to have some of the "Wisdom" but not understandingly so far as we know. We often have influence over the minds of animals.

The Mother's influence with the child is the strongest — the responsibility of everything is in her hands — She has the entire making of the child. Every hour in the day we are unconsciously putting into children's minds some idea or fear of disease, some opinion of error & then by our own opinions our fears & anxieties we bring sickness to them & keep them in it.

We must never allow ourselves to think of a child as naughty — we must trust him utterly, & if he makes a mistake, show him the want of his wisdom in the mistake.

Mrs. Dresser spoke of the Mother's prayer for her child going out into the world — her thought following him — keeping him always where she wants him to be — safe & good & pure — just as far as her heartfelt prayer is in the Wisdom, is it really his safeguard holding him above the evil thing. But in the old faith, the old idea of prayer there was always the doubt — in this new understanding there can be no doubt — for we are working in the Wisdom — working with God, & as far as we do work in the Wisdom will our prayer be answered. It is the understanding prayer — God cannot exist in error — he is unchangeable Wisdom.

Perception or intuition is more natural to some than others, but can be acquired by all — it comes through the putting aside of self.

In beginning to practise this treatment, if one had little perception or intuition, it might be a help to take Christ as our thought, as combining the characteristics one would wish for all & holding him as the ideal for the person one wanted to treat. As one grows more in perception each soul will suggest its own ideal, each with its individual possibilities.

The first broad ground to work upon after this, is peace — harmony with God of the soul before you — filled with Him, who is Infinite Peace — Love — Wisdom, Disease is just the expression of a want of "ease" — peace & harmony. Do not think of the pains or the sufferings you want to rid them of — that is only to bring them into your thought, that you may drive them out & is a waste of time but take the mind that is filled with them & see it filled instead with the wisdom, the love & the peace of God — so filled that there is no room for the other feelings  — & you need not fear but that the expression of that mind will respond.

In your thought of that mind you want to help do not face it, for then you are looking towards it & seeing its errors, but put yourself beside it & together go toward the light. If you think of the errors think of them as vanishing — as the fog before the sunlight, the light of Wisdom shining through them.

Mrs. Dresser said that she had had patients get so restless under a treatment, when her own thought was peace, that they had to walk up & down the room. Since the thoughts of error do not hold on to us, but we to them, the treatment begins to pull us in exactly the opposite direction, from the one we have been used to going in, therefore the result for a time is anything but peaceful.

There is no rule as to length of silent treatment. The average would be about 15 minutes.

No matter who your patients may be, or if you have never seen them before you sit down beside them with a longing to help them, which is the truest love,

You know that in this Wisdom you can help them & then you see them as they really are in their spiritual identity, a perfect thought of a perfect Being, you think of & see them as they would be if they realized it all — if they were consciously filled with God. Before that thought of Wisdom all error must disappear & with it its expression — or the illness & suffering. To be consciously filled with God is to be filled with Peace — the "peace which passeth understanding" to those who look at it from out-side — & into that soul you feel the peace slowly but surely doing its harmonizing work, until all discord ends.

To turn from the changeable, finite thoughts of error, towards the Wisdom which is unchangeable,' opening the soul wide to the incoming of God — making the spirit one with Him — that is the self treatment, & that is what we would give others. "To be spiritually-minded is life."

We must not keep from trying to give this help because we feel our own unworthiness, that of course the more we have the Wisdom ourselves, the more we can do, & that with Infinity to draw from there could be no limit to the possibilities open — but on the other hand, that if a man had fallen to the lowest depths of degradation & yet had a desire to help another, that desire or longing was God in him.