December 11, 2016

Illustrations of Immortality

by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

A river has its head into which little streams flow to supply it. So man has an intellect which is sustained by various streams from the fountain of wisdom. The banks take the name of the river as a man's name is affixed to his bodily form, but both man and river existed before they were named. The river has its Christian name given by man and its surname which comes from its father. For instance, the Penobscot and Kennebec rivers were so named by man but both existed as rivers before their discovery. So with man. His wisdom exists and when it is discovered it is named, and the name is of man. The water of the river is like the mind; both are continually changing and finally they wear out the body or earth. The river empties itself into the earth ready to be drawn out to replenish it as the mind seeks the heights of wisdom that it may draw others to it. Suppose every particle of water to have an identity of intelligence. Its continual motion does not destroy its identity. It is water like in the stream, the lake, the river and the sea; and when it is taken into the earth to nourish and replenish it, it is still water. So man's intellect has its identity whether in one condition or another, and the body is to the intellect what the banks of the river are to the water, an identity to signify that water can be condensed into a form.

Wisdom outside of matter is not recognized, but when it is reduced so that its effect can be seen, it is acknowledged, though not separated from matter. The banks are generally admitted to be the river, and when there is no water in the bed, it is dead. Now the water is as much alive and retains its identity as ever, but man's name is destroyed. In the same way, God in man is not recognized except in the body, and when man sees the wisdom depart, to him man is dead.

Intellect, like water, is always flowing and cutting new channels, and each new channel is like the birth of a child. It receives a name but retains that of its father.

Take the “cut-off” at Vicksburg on the Mississippi. That is like a child who has a name called the “cut-off” or something else, yet with the water it is the same. The difference is in man and not in the water. That, into whatever channel it may flow, has its identity as water. So the wisdom of man is wisdom and his identity is as much in existence as the water that enters into the Atlantic is part of all the moving waters on the globe. It is plain that if each particle of water could speak, it would answer my question concerning the Kennebec or Mississippi or any waters on the face of the globe. It is the same with the intellect of man. My wisdom is in existence as far as I am known, as truly as I am in Portland; and if I was questioned in any quarter of the world where I am known, I, this wisdom, would answer through a medium, although the name that man gives me might not know it.

As the wisdom which constitutes an individual was in existence before it became embodied, so all rivers existed before they were attached to a bed. Let a river have its identity as water as well as its name; then it will be seen that when the name ceases to exist, its identity as water still remains. But man in his reasoning gives life to his own name, and when his idea is destroyed, the life is dead. For instance, if the water of Moosehead Lake should be turned away from the Kennebec Valley, the inhabitants would say that the river had dried up or had died and they would look upon the banks and valley as a thing that once had life but which was now dead. Yet the water might say with the man who knew the facts that there had been no change in the water, that the destruction or death of the river was an opinion of the people, for the water in its identity as a river and as water was entirely distinct from the valley and banks. Man puts wisdom in the matter and not in the principle. So when the matter is destroyed, the principle is dead. Man's wisdom is not of God. God's wisdom is not in matter but outside of it and through it, as the identity of water is distinct from a particular valley. It may be said that this is what all men believe, but actions show that our wisdom is placed in the natural man or matter by our very ignorance. Man has no idea of wisdom identified with anything but his own belief. But if God or Wisdom is the First Cause, everything that is seen is in a representation of Wisdom developed into form. Therefore all identities of man and beasts may exist with the Father, as all the appurtenances of war exist with the government. The contractor of a branch of the war department has all the articles in his wisdom and they are born into the world as fast as they are needed. When one is seen, the world says it is in existence, but it existed before and wisdom brought it to man to name. Thus everything exists with God and man names it; but wisdom has already given it a name which man does not recognize and by that name it will always exist and know itself. Water is water and man may recognize it by a name of river or lake, etc. or may contend that it has dried up; it nevertheless exists in a principle of God's wisdom.

I will try to separate the wisdom of God from that of man. My body sits and writes and all that can be seen is myself and it is my opinion. But the wisdom that governs my opinion that knows what I say as a man is not an opinion. Wisdom has an identity and opinion also. Now what is an identity? Is it in the object that we see or in the wisdom that sees it? There cannot be an identity without intelligence; therefore, man's identity is not in what we see but in the wisdom that cannot be seen and only shows itself through a medium.

Every manufactured article is a symbol of wisdom, but in his reasoning man puts the wisdom in the matter instead of in the cause. Look beyond the body for the created being which is a prior intelligence.

May 1863


Quotation by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


Daily Quotation of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby for Sunday, December 11, 2016

I will class all people who believe in another world in this way. They all believe that mind is one thing and spirit is the highest wisdom known to the Christian world. As mind is, then man's spirit is that part that lives after the mind is dead or gone. Mind, matter and spirit are all one and the same, like the lamp, the oil and the light. The lamp is the body, the oil is the mind, and the light is the spirit. So when the oil is out, the spirit is dead, and this is the end of the religious world. Now this is the way I divide man. The lamp is matter, the oil is mind, and the light is the wisdom or spirit of the oil. The wisdom that carries the lamp is God, and you will see that it is separate and apart from the other combinations of the lamp so that when we see the lamp, the wisdom that directs it is out of sight. This wisdom is what guides the sick. It trims your lamp and furnishes it with the oil or truth so that when the cry of the bridegroom or truth comes, your lamp may be filled and trimmed; and you will not be gone to borrow oil lest he comes when you are after oil, and he passes along and the door is shut.” ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

Article: Letter To Mrs. Woodward

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Editor’s Corner

We are continuing our exploration of Phineas Quimby’s Christology. What was his interpretation of the work and person of Jesus Christ in his own words?

Today’s featured article is Illustrations of Immortality that begins on page 320 of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond.

In Wisdom, Love, and Light,
Ron Hughes

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