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"Blessed is he that cometh in the Science of Wisdom." ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

March 9, 2014


    Chapter XVI of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser

Dr. Quimby is so greatly interested in calling attention to the power of human beliefs in relation to all man’s troubles that he does not give much space to a description of the natural world, does not state his idea of matter very definitely, and often leaves the reader wondering how he distinguishes between matter and “spiritual matter” or the mind of opinions. He is especially interested to point out that matter can be “condensed into a solid by mind action,” that it undergoes a “chemical change” as a result of mental changes. He sometimes speaks of it as an “error” or shadow, as “an idea seen or not, just as it is called out.” Whatever its objective reality in the Divine purpose, matter in itself is inanimate, there is no intelligence in it. His view of matter is idealistic, therefore, and in considering his theory of disease and its cure we need to bear in mind that matter for him is plastic to thought. The ordinary or external mind which is “spiritual matter” is the intermediate term. Above this mind is the real man with his spiritual senses, his clairvoyant and intuitive powers. The final term is Wisdom, making known its truths in so far as there is responsiveness and intelligence on man’s part. This is said to possess a real “identity.” To find himself as an “identity” in every truth, man should know himself as the “scientific man,” able through Wisdom’s help to banish all errors from the world.” ~Horatio W. Dresser

[Continued from last week.—editor.]


It may be necessary to explain what calls out my arguments. All that I write is intended to destroy some belief of the patient. A belief is what I call a disease, for that embraces the cause and it sets the people to reasoning until their systems are prepared like the earth to receive the idea, and when the phenomenon is brought forth the doctors call that disease. Belief in an idea that cannot be seen by the natural eye is as real as belief in the natural world. Everything that does not come within the natural senses is a belief. Disease is of this class. The phenomenon is admitted and to make man believe it involves a notion that it exists. It does not follow that he is diseased any more than it follows that a man is in the war because he believes there is one. Yet he may be liable to be caught. War like some diseases has its exempts. For instance, small–pox. A man can procure a certificate from a physician that he has had it or has been vaccinated. So the belief makes the thing to the person believing it and as the belief becomes general every person is affected more or less. Children are not exempts, they suffer if they are in the vicinity of the disease, for their parents’ sins. Their diseases are the effect of the community. These results come from the older inhabitants who embody the superstitions of the world, and they are as tenacious of their beliefs.

See how the South fights for slavery under the belief that it is a living institution.1 The people believe the same of disease and each one will fight for his peculiar disease till truth exterminates both. One is as dangerous as the other and each has its sympathizers and traitors. Take a person sick under the law of disease which he knows will kill him if the law is put in force. People are as anxious to condemn themselves by insisting that they have a certain disease as a rebel is to swear that a Yankee is an abolitionist: each is working to have the victim condemned. Both may be summed up as the effect of man’s belief.

1 This was written, Dec. 1862.

Religious sects fight for their various beliefs which contain not a word of truth and the world has to suffer the consequences. The medical faculty, spiritualists, and every class who have wit enough to have a belief, keep up a warfare to keep their beliefs alive that they may obtain a living. But when these are cut by truth they wither and die out and from the ashes comes freedom or Science. War is always engendered by beliefs. Slavery is the only name for all evils that have affected man, of which disease is one. They all have to pass through a sea of blood before their heads can be crushed and they can be handled by reason. Religious opinions waded through blood before reason could control the mind, and then the warfare was carried on by words. Universal freedom has not yet gone through the sea of blood, but it is now in the storm and God only knows how it will come out. The belief which makes man bind his fellow man is very strong, for it appeals to religious prejudices, and these are really at the bottom of many evils. The natural man believes slavery is right and he is religious in this belief, although in everything else he is governed by party–interest. Every sick person is suffering either directly or indirectly from the effect of some belief, therefore my arguments are to show the absurdity of the beliefs whatever they are, for beliefs are catching. The child is affected by its parents’ belief, which is as real an enemy to health as slavery is to freedom. Science is the true man, belief is the enemy of happiness, for every one knows that a man will die before he will give up his belief. So when a person has a belief in any particular disease, he will not give it up until it destroys the body, although he knows that fighting is his own destruction.

When I sit by the sick I find them either like a child or a person in a belief. If they have no ideas that come within their senses they are like one affected by surrounding circumstances, as a child whose parents are fighting is frightened and perhaps killed by the parents’ evil acts. When I have a patient who is frightened by some feeling in the system which has not been named, the patient is like a spectator in a riot who finds himself attacked and violently abused when he has been quiet all the time. I have to reason with such persons and convince them of their error, and as they learn the truth they are safe. I take the same course with such as I should with a stranger who has been attacked by a mob. I enter the crowd, take the man by the shoulders lead him out and befriend him till he is safe.

A belief in a disease is like a belief in any other evil, but there are those who putting entire confidence in the leaders accept certain beliefs. Such are honest and are the hardest patients to cure, for they attach a religious respect to their beliefs which are their very life. They often say they would rather die than lose their belief.

A belief going to establish any religion is held on to as a child holds to its mother when afraid of strangers. I frequently have a hard battle with such where their beliefs make them sick before they will relax. They will sometimes weep and lament as though I were really going to take their life. As I have no belief to give them I try to show the absurdity of their errors. It will be seen that in all I write my reasoning is to destroy some belief that my patient has. Rheumatism or the state of mind affecting people in that way is caused by various beliefs. Their minds as I have said are deceived into bad company and they have to suffer the consequences of their acts, although their intentions may have been good.

I will state a case. A man uses tobacco freely, both chews and smokes. His wife being of a sympathetic nature enters into his error to try to reform him. This brings her into the same company that he is in. She is regarded as bad as her husband, she is beaten until blood starts out on her elbows, shoulders, and limbs, and her hands become swollen and sore so that she cannot work. Meantime her husband appears as well as ever. This is taking a disease from sympathy and it shows that such evils are catching in the world.

To such I stand in this way. I take the symptoms and know who is the devil. I expose him, and when I make the patient know him, the devil leaves, the error is cast out, the belief leaves and the patient is cured. This is a process of reasoning from cause to effect, not from effect to effect. The world reasons to make one disease in order to cure another. I destroy the disease by showing the error and showing how the error effects the patients. This was what Jesus tried to prove, so all His acts and talk went to prove the truth of what I have said. Make man responsible for his beliefs and he will be as cautious what he believes as he is in what he sees or does, for he will see that just as he measures out to another so it will be measured out to him. But does the clergy follow out this rule? Do they not dictate to their audience what to believe and what not to believe, without the least regard to their health? Now, to suppose a man can believe one thing and still have a contrary effect is not true. If you make a person believe that he is in danger of any trouble he will be affected according to his belief. So all beliefs are to be analyzed like food or drink to see what it contains and see how it acts upon the body, for the belief being in the mind it shows itself on the body. So when Jesus talked He had some object to obtain for the happiness of man. But to suppose Jesus came from heaven to destroy one error and establish another is to suppose that our beliefs alter the wisdom of God or make a man believe what he cannot understand to insure his happiness in a world that is based on belief. Now, I understand Jesus; I understand Him to condemn all beliefs and show that man is better off without a belief than with one.

What good is it to me whether I believe one thing or another if my belief does not affect my life? If my belief affects my life I get the benefit or misery of my belief, but it does not alter the wisdom of God or alter any of His plans. So if there is a world beyond this my belief cannot change it; my belief may change me. So if Jesus had no higher motive than merely introducing a belief He was like all others who wanted to establish peculiar views. But Jesus never meant to speak of what we call death. His death was the end of sin or error. To lose opinions and find His truth was life, not death. The Wisdom that taught this did not embrace the words “life” and “death.”

[This is the second installment of a twelve–part series originally written and published as Chapter XVI. DISEASE AND HEALING, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]

Quotation by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

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Editor’s Corner

Today we are continuing a twelve–part serial review of Chapter 16, DISEASE AND HEALING, of the 1921 publication, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser.

In Wisdom, Love, and Light,
Ron Hughes

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