July, 2010

The Healing Principle

    by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

It is an undisputed fact that Dr. Quimby cures disease, and that without any medicine or outward application. How does he do it? is the question that agitates and interests the people. If he has any new way, different from the mysterious and superstitious mode acknowledged by others who have appeared to cure disease, by their personal virtue alone. What is it? Where does he say he gets his power?

In the first place, he denies, that he has any power or gift superior to other men. He contends that he operates intelligently, under the direction of a principle which is always his guide, while with the sick, that this principle he follows in practice and in theory, and under it he learns facts of real life, that he could never get at in any other way. He has found the way by which all errors can be corrected, and which he only applies to disease.

Well, what is the principle?

I do not think I could explain it in one word, but it might be called the principle of goodness. It is the highest intelligence that operates in the affairs of man, always producing harmony and makes man feel that he has more to learn and is a progressive being. It is known in all exclusively, intellectual branches, the Law. The natural sciences and all those studies that teach man, that the more he investigates, the more there is in prospect to learn. You see, such a principle does not operate in the affairs of our everyday life. It has been his aim to develop it in relation to human misery and make life a science.

The cause of all misery is in our ignorance of ourselves he says, and in proportion as he develops this higher, happier part of mankind, which he calls Science, he sees through the mysteries of the ills, that flesh is heir to and just in proportion as he sees through them he can correct them. His cures and his philosophy are one thing. What do you mean by that? his cures I have perfect confidence in, but I do not see through his talk. What is his talk good for?

He says, “that his explanation of the patient's feelings is the cure,” with a knowledge that all trouble is a false alarm, to truth, that whatever obstructions to health he finds, all rest on a skimpy foundation, some opinion or superstition, he proceeds to undermine the foundation and then the structure gives way. However well established are the facts of any disease, he believes the basis all wrong, and that they are dependent on the opinion of man for an existence, and that these opinions are believed in as truth. So that the facts are merely the expression of the belief. To destroy the belief identified with a patient’s feelings, changes the mind and that is the cure.

Then he believes that all disease is in the mind? I should not think he could cure everything by that theory.

He does indeed believe that disease is all in the mind, but then with his experience, the mind is something and embraces a much larger compass of our being than we are taught to consider it. It includes all opinions and religion and everything about us which can change, not that part which is seen by the natural eye, but that which acts upon the natural man. It embraces all excitement and agitation and all the variations of humanity. It is that part that is affected at the contact with a new idea. He says, “mind is matter.”

What kind of matter is it and how does he know that it is matter, if he does not see, or touch it and cannot show it to another person’s senses?

It is not matter that comes to our bodily senses. It is another kind, which is just as sensible to him as that he touches with his hand. Around every one is an atmosphere of intelligence which contains the whole of our identity, and he has become so sensitive to this atmosphere, that its existence is a fact, and it is with that he operates.

I should think he had discovered a sixth sense.

I cannot say that he has found any one faculty that would answer to a sense. But he has refined and spiritualized those faculties which mankind exercise towards each other till he has arrived at the true way of communicating and influencing minds. For instance, his sympathy for his patients is pure from any feeling like blame or contempt, or discouragement, and is as a transparency to reflect their feelings just as they come to him, with light from a higher source, to account for and explain them to the patient, and his explanation illumines their mind.

Well, how does he know that he has got hold of a true method, how does he know but he is mistaken?

There are many reasons which confirm his belief in his method as a science, one is that he constantly improves, he finds he can cure quicker, and harder cases. Then as he explains himself to others, and they understand, it confirms him. But that, you will say is no proof, and it is not in itself. Admitting that there is a first cause, or God, as everyone does, it is not so hard to demonstrate that Dr. Quimby knows more about him and his wisdom, in regard to health, than anyone else. And unto Him, he, Dr. Q. gives all the glory. He knows that while treating disease he is purely under the influence of the highest truth and all that he says to the patient, admitting the basis is a whole train of consistencies. And according as he follows this method, he comes out of many of the common beliefs that he has in common with other men. He knows that all his peculiar belief is not an invention of his own, for it is all contrary to what as a natural man, he believes―it is not substantiated by anything that he has been taught, but rests on the facts of his own experience with the sick―it is a vital truth that teaches him.

[Extracts from The Healing Principle were originally published in Horatio W. Dresser's 1921 publication, The Quimby Manuscripts beginning on page 309, but this article or "piece" was excluded by editor Ervin Seale in the 1988 publication, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: The Complete Writings. It is now published for the first time in its entirety in our book, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond, starting on page 295. ―editor.]


What Is God? Part VI Conclusion

    by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

Perhaps by this time it would be well to sum up all this journey describing how I got into this land and how I got out of it. I will do so in a few words.

After I found that mind was matter I found that ideas were matter, condensed into a solid called disease, and that it contained all the wisdom of its author, like a book. Seeing the book (for sight with wisdom embraces all senses, hearing, tasting, etc.), I open it and see through it. To the patient it is a sealed book but to wisdom there is nothing hid which cannot be revealed or seen, nor so far off that it cannot be reached. So I read the contents of the book to the patient and show that it is false, then as the truth changes his mind the darkness of his mind is lit up till he sees through the error of disease. The light of wisdom dissipates the matter, or disease; the patient once more finds himself freed of opinions and happiness is restored and all is quiet.

What I said above is produced on me by the patient, by lighting up the mind and making the patient clairvoyant so that his own senses see through the priest's and doctor's opinion. This dissipates the opinion, for it is nothing but a shadow taken for a substance and the misery comes from mistaking the opinion for a truth; here is the trouble that arises from opinions. Now let men cease from giving opinions or let the people understand that there is no wisdom in one, then you shut the mouths of these barking dogs, howling night and day, which keep the people in constant excitement.

Look at these barking editors, they do more harm than the army. If Congress would muzzle these apes so they should not tread down fields of wisdom and let in the swine to prey upon the corn of government the people would be glad, for the government is as much diseased as the individual.

If the prescription of the President is equal to the disease, then amputation of some of its limbs will not be needed; but if these blind editors, speculators and Northern politicians are allowed to prescribe for the patient I am afraid that it will linger along till its blood is so far gone that it will go into a decline, lose its identity and become a den of thieves.

There is no doubt that the government is bilious and needs purging to rid itself of the aristocracy that wants to rule after the manner of these opinions, for these opinions are the disease and the government was born with this infirmity. But disease, being an aristocracy founded on opinion, cannot be truth; so in darkness it tries to spread over the whole body and it always makes trouble to save its life, for if it keeps still the tide of progression will overflow it and it will be lost. So the South or disease tries to hold its power and it takes weapons that will be sure to destroy their object, for the extension of slavery is the disease and to carry out the idea is to destroy it. They being ignorant of the wisdom of the North have got up false issues and have been successful in making the people admit them, till finally driven to their last extremity they have shown their cloven foot, so that the North and West have stopped to examine into their troubles.

Seeing no chance for escape or getting up any more false issues they show their shrewdness like the opossum by lying low and crying out, “Let us alone, we want nothing to do with you.” Thinking by proceeding thus the North, rather than quarrel, will propose something by way of compromise.

The timid and weak are pressing the North and West to build up something but the President says, If you have wrongs, lay them before Congress; and the South whines and says, “Let us alone.” This is to get up a sympathy in the North and meanwhile they steal from the government till they have shown their true character and have obliged the North to pass laws for their own safety which must destroy the very institution which the North has never opposed, that is slavery. The very acts of the South will destroy slavery and it cannot be helped.

Aug. 9, 1861

Source: Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond, beginning on page 610.  This is the sixth and final installment of a six-part series written by P. P. Quimby entitled, What is God?editor.


Reminiscences―Part III.

    by Annetta Gertrude (Seabury) Dresser

There seemed to be no obstacle to Dr. Quimby's mental vision. I once knew a lady to go to him simply to test his ability to read her. She remarked to others that she did not believe he could help her, nor tell her what caused her trouble. He received her as he would any one, and after a few moments―without a word having been spoken―took his chair, and, placing it before her, sat down with his back to her, saying to her "That is the way you feel towards me. I think you do not need my services, and that you had better go home."

The following extract from a letter to a clergyman, under date of Oct. 28, 1860, illustrates the care with which he discriminated between his own opinion and that of the higher Wisdom which enabled him to perform his wonderful cures :

"Your letter of the 18th was received; but, owing to a pressure of business, I neglected answering it. I will try to give you the wisdom you ask. So far as giving an opinion is concerned, it is out of my power as a physician, though as a man I might, but it would be of no service; for it would contain no wisdom except of this world. My practice is not of the wisdom of man, so my opinion as a man is of no value. Jesus said, 'If I judge of myself, my judgment is not good, but, if I judge of God, it is right'; for that contains no opinion. So, if I judge as a man, it is an opinion; and you can get plenty of them anywhere.

"You inquire if I have ever cured any cases of chronic rheumatism? I answer, Yes; but there are as many cases of chronic rheumatism as there are of spinal complaint, so that I cannot decide your case by another. You cannot be saved by pinning your faith on another's sleeve. Every one must answer for his own sins or belief. Our beliefs are the cause of our misery, and our happiness and misery is what follows our belief....

"You ask if my practice belongs to any known science. My answer is, No, it belongs to a Wisdom that is above man as man,... It was taught eighteen hundred years ago, and has never had a place in the heart of man since, but is in the world, and the world knows it not."

Again, in reply to a young physician in a letter dated Sept. 16, 1860, he says:

... "To answer any question with regard to my mode of treatment would be like asking a physician how he knows a patient has the typhoid fever by feeling the pulse, and request the answer direct, so that the person asking the question could sit down and be sure to define the disease from the answer. My mode of treatment is not decided in that way.... If it were in my power to give to the world the benefit of twenty years' hard study in one short or long letter, it would have been before the people long before this. The people ask they know not what. You might as well ask a man to tell you how to talk Greek without studying it, as to ask me to tell you how I test the true pathology of disease, or how I test the true diagnosis of disease. All of these questions would be very easily answered if I assumed a standard, and then tested all disease by that standard.

"The old mode of determining the diagnosis of disease is made up of opinions about diseased persons, in their right mind and out of it, and under a nervous state of mind, all mixed up together and set down, accompanied by a certain state of pulse. In this dark chaos of error, they come to certain results like this: If you see a man going towards the water, he is going in swimming; but, if he is running, with his hat and coat off, he is either going to drown himself or some one is drowning, and so on. This is the old way. Mine is this: If I see a person, I know it, and, if I feel the cold, I know it; but to see a person going towards the water is no sign that I know what he is going to do....

"Now, like the latter [the old practitioners], do not deceive your patients. Try to instruct them and correct their errors. Use all the wisdom you have, and expose the hypocrisy of the profession in any one. Never deceive your patients behind their backs. Always remember that, as you feel about your patients, just so they feel towards you. If you deceive them, they lose confidence in you; and just as you prove yourself superior to them, they give you credit mentally. If you pursue this course, you cannot help succeeding.

"Be charitable to the poor. Keep the health of your patient in view, and, if money comes, all well; but do not let that get the lead. With all this advice, I leave you to your fate, trusting that the true Wisdom will guide you,―not in the path of your predecessors.  P. P. Q."

It was thus characteristic of Dr. Quimby to sink the man or personal self in his work, for that larger Self or Wisdom whence he derived his power; and whatever he urged upon another he always practised himself. Throughout his writings this same humility is uppermost; and whatever he wrote and said had a wonderful staying power, since it bore the emphasis of his own stimulating and kindly personality.

After the lapse of twenty-nine years since Dr. Quimby passed away, the most and the best I can say of his teaching and the power of his example is that his theory has stood the severest tests of trouble and sickness in my own family as well as in many others, while his example has been an ever-present ideal. With him his theory was a life, a larger and nobler, a freer and wiser, life than that of the average man. To know the inexpressible depth and value of his teaching, one must live this life, and prove through long experience the truth of his philosophy. That his teaching has never failed in its application, and has been more than a substitute for all that it displaced, is at once the best evidence of its truth and the strongest argument in its favor.

[This is the final installment of a three part series originally written and published as Chapter III. REMINISCENCES, of The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby, with Selections from his Manuscripts and a Sketch of his Life by Annetta G. Dresser. Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1895.―editor.]


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