July 6, 2014
Chapter XVIII of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
[Continued from last week.—editor.]
THE EFFECT OF RELIGION ON HEALTH
I will give my opinion of the inconsistency of our religious beliefs and their effect upon health. I was visiting a patient whose state differed very much from what is called rheumatism and general disability of the nervous system.1 The doctors had tried their best to relieve her but to no effect; their efforts only made her worse, and at last she sent for me. I found her very nervous, complaining of aches and pains all over. When I told her that it was her mind that was disturbed she replied, “Oh, no, my mind is at rest. I know I am in the hands of a merciful God who will deal with me according to His will. I have full faith in Him.” Do you suppose He knows your troubles? I asked. “Yes, He knows all things.” Suppose Jesus were here as He was eighteen hundred years ago do you think He could cure you? “Oh, yes. I know He knows all my suffering.” Then why does He not cure you? “Because it is His will that I should go through all this suffering to fit me for the kingdom of heaven.” Now suppose your daughter should be taken sick away from home in a strange land among strangers and suppose some kind friend should call on her and say, “You seem very low spirited” and she should reply, “Oh, no I know that it is all right.” “Suppose your mother were here, would you not get well?” “Yes, she knows all my sufferings, but she knows it is all right to make me better prepared to enjoy her company when I get home.” “Do you believe that if she had a mind to cure you she could do so?” “Certainly.” “Can you say you love your mother when you admit your life is in her hands and she permits you to suffer so much?” “Oh, she is my mother, and I feel that she knows what is for the best. It gives me comfort to know that I am in the hands of a merciful being.” [Despite this reasoning the patient fails to admit a point, and so Dr. Quimby, once more addressing her, says:] Would you like to have me cure you? “Yes, if you can, but not if I must give up my belief in my religion. I should rather go down to the grave with my religion than be cured and lose my belief. If you can cure me of my lameness and not talk to me about my religion I should like to get well, but if you cannot cure me without that I do not know as I will be cured, for I don’t think my religion has anything to do with my disease.” Do you not think your belief has something to do with your happiness? “Oh, yes, but it has nothing to do with my disease.” What is your disease? “Why it is rheumatism, the doctors say, and a general prostration of the nervous system” What is that? “Neuralgia, I suppose.” What is that? “I do not know.” Suppose I should try to explain how you came to be in this condition, would you listen? “Yes, if you do not talk religion.” I have no religion to talk. “I know you have not.” Have you? “I hope I have.” Well, I do not want it if it makes me as sick and unhappy as you. “All the comfort I take while lying here all these long nights is to think that I am in the hands of a merciful God who will do all things right.” Would you like to get well? “If it is the will of God, I should be very glad to get well.” Do you think I can cure you? “I do not know, but I hope you can; if you can’t I shall give up all hopes of ever being well.” Then you think your health depends on my science? “Yes.” If I should cure you would you give me credit? “Oh, yes.” But would it be right to upset the will of God who is keeping you in this misery for His own pleasure? “Oh, if God sees fit to have it I believe it is all right. I know I feel badly and I should like to feel better, but if it is the will of God that I must suffer I will submit for I know it is for the best. God suffered in the flesh to teach us to be better prepared for heaven.”
1 This is a typical instance of Quimby's method of re–education.
Then you think if you should die you would go to heaven? “I hope so, for I cannot suffer these pains always.” Where is heaven? Do you believe it is a place? “Oh, no.” Then what is it? “It is a state of mind.” Then you are not very near it, I should judge by your own mind. “Well, I do not know as that has anything to do with my pains.” What is pain? “I don’t know what it is, but I know how it feels.” How do you know it? “I know it through my senses.” Are your senses affected by your mind? “I suppose so.” Then if your mind is disturbed and you put a false construction on the disturbance, won’t it produce an unpleasant effect upon the senses? “I suppose so.” Suppose this unpleasant effect should be pain, is it not the effect produced on the mind? “I don’t know what that has to do with my lameness. I want to get well.” Who wants to get well? “I.” That is, you, Mrs. H——? “Yes.” Is not that all there is of you that has any mind or knowledge? “Yes.” You do not expect this flesh and blood to go to heaven? “No.” Why not? “Because the Bible says flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven.” I thought you just said heaven was a state of mind. “So I did.” Well, do you mean that flesh and blood are in the mind? “Oh, you make me so nervous, you will kill me.” Why? “Because I don’t like to hear you talk so. My mind is all made up and I do not want to be disturbed in this way.” Do you mean your flesh and blood are disturbed? “Oh you disturb my mind and body.” Then your mind is one thing and your body another. You believe in the soul? “Yes.” You believe it goes to heaven when you die? “Yes.” I thought you said heaven was a state of mind. “Oh, yes, but we must die.” What dies? “This flesh and blood.” Well, has it life? “Yes.” Has it feeling? “You would think so if you suffered as much as I.” Then this that suffers is the flesh and blood? “Yes.” Then it is conscious of all these bad feelings? “Yes.” Are the feelings its consciousness or has it another consciousness independent of itself? “No.” Then at death you mean that all of these aches and pains leave you and you will be happy? “Yes.”
Then these aches and pains are the body’s identity and belong to the flesh and blood? “Yes.” Are you happy when you feel so badly? “No.” Then you are not in heaven? “I don’t expect to be happy until I get to heaven.” Can you get there and have these pains? “No.” Then when the pains leave you it will be heaven on earth? “Yes, if that ever takes place.”
Now, let us see where you stand. You have admitted enough to show that your mind is in a confused state like a person in trouble. You have not one particle of true knowledge. Your supposed knowledge is the effect of an impression on the senses, due to the opinion of some one who explained some one’s ideas according to his own view of truth. This opinion taken for truth makes you nervous and brings about all your suffering. You are afraid of your enemies and you pray to the God whom you admit keeps you in misery. You are taught to believe that God is watching all your actions, that He has laid down certain laws and regulations for you to follow and if you disobey you will be punished. This keeps you in bondage and all your life subject to disease. But to suppose God selects you to be punished above your companions is to believe God is partial. This you cannot believe.
Now look at those who worship God; they have a false idea of the God they worship. God is not in any kind of worship that man has established. God is not an identity as man is, if He were He would be in matter. The ignorance of man cannot see intelligence out of matter, so all prayers are in matter, and all that people are afraid of contains matter. This false idea keeps man in the dark. You never see a man praying to the fire that warms him, nor does he pray to the elements. How is it with steam? Is not the person who knows the most about steam the best one to control it, and does not every one have more confidence in such a person than in one who is ignorant of it? So it is with the elements. Man differs in one respect from living matter: he has undertaken to control the elements so as to make them subservient to his will. We often hear persons talking about the laws of nature, as though they were the laws of God and they say if we did not disobey them all would go right. Now, here is the mistake. The laws of nature are very simple of themselves and they never trouble man if he does not trouble them. The beasts conform to these laws, for when they are thirsty they find the laws that quench their thirst, if left to themselves, and when hungry the same intelligence dictates the remedy. But man in his eagerness to be lord over the brutes and elements has developed faculties called senses. These are under a superior wisdom which can control the elements and use them for the benefit of the human race. Now, it is not to be expected that every person who happens to think of flying can make a flying machine that will be successful. Nor is it certain that any invention to control the elements will always work so that accidents as they are called will not take place and lives lost and much trouble made before Science is established. So it is with life. Life is a science that is little understood. The brutes have no desire to investigate science. Man is the only one who has undertaken it. Let us see how far he has progressed. It is a fact that man’s life is shortened by his own belief, for his belief is his practice and the length of his life is in his theory. Every one has his theory in regard to the lengthening of life, but all admit it must end, that it is set in motion and may run down sometime. Some think life is a perpetual machine that never was set in motion and can never stop. To solve this life and save it from being lost is the great problem. Theories for the benefit of man are invented to save his life. He is given the knowledge of every danger he is liable to pass through and is warned against them. These call out the science and skill of the world, to put man in possession of a science to save his life as though his life were something independent of himself. This makes competition. . . .
Our lives are like a journey through a wilderness. We first take the priests’ opinion, that is, to trust in God. When we ask an explanation of God we are answered that He knows all things and not a hair of our head falls to the ground without God knows it; if we look to Him, He will deliver us from all danger, and He takes better care of us than a parent does of his child. This is a brief sketch of God’s goodness. Now suppose we should not do quite as well as we expect, then what follows? God has made a devil, a something worse that stands ready to catch us if we don’t go according to His will or laws. These things are not defined, but like the laws of the United States, every president can construe them according to his belief. The laws of God made by man are arbitrary, though not acknowledged as such. Jesus said “Call no man master but one and that is God.” Here you see you have made a God that is full of inconsistencies and cannot stand the test of common reason. Now look at the true scientific answer to all our beliefs and it shows us that they contain no knowledge of God or life, for God is life eternal and this life was in His Son, Jesus, which was Christ or Science. Now to suppose you lose your life is to be cut off from God, for God is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him. Now destroy man’s belief and introduce God’s truth, then we are set free from this world of error and introduced into the world of light or Science, where there is no death but the living God. This Science will lead us to that happy state where there is no sickness, sorrow, or grief, where all tears are wiped away from our eyes, and there we shall be in the presence of this great Truth that will watch us and hold us in the hollow of its hand and will be to us a light that will open our eyes. We shall not then be deceived by blind guides who say peace, peace, when there is no peace. Then we shall call no one master or leader, for there is but One that leads us and that is God. He puts no restriction upon us, for our lives are in His hands or Science. . . . If you can see God in your knowledge you will admit that everything you do intelligently you do under the direction of a power or intelligence superior to yourself. So when you do anything ignorantly and the effect is bad, giving you trouble, you try to correct your errors, thereby showing that you admit a power superior to yourself. This power is called Christ or God and if you have not this power or Christ you are not of Him. To know God is to know ourselves, and to know ourselves is to know the difference between Science and error. Error is of man and truth is of God, and as truth is not in the cause of disease it is not in the effect. Therefore to say we are happy when in disease is to admit we have no disease, for disease is the error and the effect. Now as opinions contain either truth or error (not known) we are affected by the effect when it comes to the light of Science and then the happiness or misery follows. This is called by the doctors disease and they treat the effect, denying the cause or letting it go as of no account. Here is the difference. I put the disease in the direction of mind and then I know what will be the effect.
Our happiness is the result of correcting our impressions when first made. Our error is the ignorance of these impressions. The opinions of the world and ignorance of ourselves are the causes of our trouble. Suppose you were afraid of some person and you dare not stir lest he should kill you, do you think you would be any worse off to know that he was your friend and he felt unhappy to know that you had such an opinion of him? So it is in every act of our lives, knowledge of ourselves never harmed man. Disease is not in knowledge but in ignorance. For instance, the fear of any trouble is the disease.
Go with me back to the time of the persecution of the church and the Salem witchcraft. All the people believed in evil spirits and witches and considered it wrong to have anything to do with them. Here you see was the disease in the people’s belief, and their belief was put in practice for the safety of mankind. Therefore every invention of their belief was called out to get rid of an evil that was tormenting man. Here you see the belief was one thing and the evil another, and so it is in everything. The wisdom of this world sees the mind one thing and disease another, and reasons by saying the pain came before I had any thought about it, and I had no mind about it. . . . So it is with rheumatic pains, the state of mind or disease is admitted to have an existence as much as evil spirits and we are affected by our belief. If anything disturbs our happiness we fly to some one for protection and in our trouble create a form of something in the mind to locate it in some place in the body. We suffer ourselves to be tormented to get rid of the enemy or disease, as those who believed themselves bewitched would suffer being whipped to drive out the devils. I could name hundreds of cases where persons have called in physicians and between them both they, have made an enemy, the patient suffering himself to be poulticed and blistered almost to death to get rid of the bronchitis or spinal disease or white swelling or some other devil supposed to exist independent of the mind. The doctors who use these means show about as much knowledge as the people in Connecticut did who beat the beer barrel if it worked on Sunday. It is the relic of heathen superstition that wisdom will some time eradicate from the mind by explaining it on scientific principles. Till then the knife, the lance and calomel and such things that are only introduced by a show of truth not much in advance of nailing a horse shoe over the door, or sleeping with the Bible under you to keep off the witches, must govern the people. Jesus knew that all the foregoing belief was founded in ignorance, therefore He was not afraid of these beliefs and said these words: “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.”
[This is the third installment of an eight–part series originally written and published as Chapter XVIII. RELIGIOUS QUESTIONS, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
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