October 26, 2014

SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH

    Chapter XIX of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser

[Continued from last week.—editor.]

EDITOR’S SUMMARY

It is noticeable that Dr. Quimby holds very steadily to a few great ideas, those that yield a vision of the spiritual life in contrast with worldly matters. Thus we find him contrasting Science with opinion, the spiritual with the natural man, and the spiritual senses with bodily sensibility. He dwells without limit upon the superstitions to which the race has been subjected by priests and the bondages which are traceable to medical opinion. With endless repetition he classifies disease as an “error of mind” or “invention of man,” showing how sensations or pains of minor import have been misinterpreted so as to generate such maladies as cancer and consumption. He is always tracing a patient’s trouble to the particular beliefs, religious, social, medical, which have been accepted in place of realities. Thus his main interest seems to be to disclose the power of adverse suggestion, fear, error, ill–founded belief. His thought therefore seems to lack scope. He seldom takes his readers into the larger world of social problems. He draws few illustrations from history. Even when describing the inner life he passes by such subjects as poise, composure, serenity, spontaneity, and interior self–control; he does not analyze faith, inward guidance or receptivity.

Yet amidst this apparent narrowness he emphasizes certain characteristics which he believes to be universally verifiable, and it is for the reader to see their scope. Having learned, for example, the power of words or names, when associated with painful sensations and supported by medical authority, he passes to a study of the nature and origin of language; and in lengthy articles which we have not had space for he contrasts truth and error so as to show the difference between language as a human invention and that tongue which the spirit speaks, “the language of sympathy” understood by those who know the meaning of the “still, small voice.” Having seen that the sick are slaves to those who pretend to heal them, he turns to African slavery and discourses at length on the Civil War, then in full progress, taking Lincoln and Jefferson Davis as types of men prominent in the struggle. So too he writes at length concerning aristocracy and democracy, and discovers in all human society the same typical forces which he finds in the inner life. Again, his knowledge of the inner life leads him to write on government, the standard of law, the origin of political parties, and the nature of patriotism. History is to him an enlargement of the conflict taking place within. Society becomes intelligible when we understand the forces operating upon man.

There are but few references to nature as the subject of study of the special sciences, although chemistry and mechanics sometimes figure by way of illustration. Physical substances are usually referred to from the point of view of the effects which people produce upon themselves through adverse suggestion, as in the case of medicines and poisons, or food associated with trouble–making opinion. But this is for the sake of acquainting man with the fact, never adequately recognized till Quimby’s time, that because of the dominance of beliefs man is often more influenced by suggestion than by the actual qualities of foods, drugs and poisons. Quimby aims to show that through acceptance of prevalent beliefs man often lives in realms of shadows, subject to his own fancies, literally creating what he believes in. Before we can see things as they are, as God meant them to be, we must learn what it is we think we see. The natural world is beset by appearances. The natural man knows nothing as he ought to know. What we need is a wholly different point of view. Then, in possession of true Science, we should be able to found the special sciences on Divine wisdom. Matter is a term which Quimby uses in so many ways that some of his statements are scarcely intelligible. Matter is what appears before us in the physical world, without intelligence, inanimate; it can be condensed into a solid by mind–action, undergoes changes as the result of mental changes and responses in “the fluids” of the system; it is the natural man’s mind, the stuff which ideas are made of, “an idea used like language to convey some wisdom to another,” “the shadow of our wisdom,” in which are all our beliefs, opinions, emotions; and so as “spiritual matter” or substance it is “an idea seen or not, just as it is called out,” and is compared to a belief or casket. “Matter which is seen is the condensation of the matter not seen, and the unseen matter is mind.” “God, not being matter, has matter only as an idea.” “God is not matter, and matter is only an idea that fills no space in Wisdom.”

What is meant by this apparent confusion is that we should disengage our thought from matter altogether at times, in order to look upon life with the spiritual eye. If by the term “mind” you mean a vague, airy something without influence on the body, then Quimby shows that it is indeed substantial, that thoughts are things which take shape or condense and come forth in bodily manifestation. If by the word “spirit” you mean anything as indefinite as spiritists believe in, he points out that spirit too is substantial, is alive, not “dead.” But when you realize what he means by “substance” your thought has travelled far from material things to the thought of God, in whom is no matter at all, who manifests Himself through matter as a mere vehicle or language. “There is no such thing as reality with God except Himself. He is all Wisdom and nothing else.” “All will admit that God is not matter, for God sees all things. His sight penetrates the darkest places, and not a thing can be hidden from His sight.” You must see the true Substance or “invisible Wisdom that can never be seen by the eye of opinion” before you can look forth upon the panorama of the world, beholding forms taking shape, coming and going at the behest of spiritual powers.

The mind is the medium in which ideas are sown. Ideas, as distinct from one another as different kinds of seeds, grow like seeds, take to themselves character, and become known by their fruits. When the mind is disturbed, the disturbance is shown in the body as a result of sub–conscious processes and “chemical changes.” Mind in relation to body is “spiritual matter” because it can be changed, is excited through fears, is always in process even when we sleep, is not intelligence but subject to it, and because it receives thought–seeds as the earth receives plant–seeds.

Sensation contains no intelligence in itself, but is a mere disturbance of the spiritual matter called “agitation,” ready to respond to any direction given it by our suggestion. So pain is “in the mind,” not in the hip, for example, not in any organ. It contains no intelligence, but might be wisely interpreted. Disease is due to the misconstruing of sensation or pain, it is due to a wrong direction of mind. Hence it is not an evil but an “error.” It is not inflicted on us by God: God created man to be well, happy, free. The reflection or shadow on the body is what the doctors call disease. Our senses or life become imprisoned in the false direction of mind, as a result of “false reasoning.” Dr. Quimby says that he sees both the reflection on the body, the symptoms diagnosed, and the original which casts the shadow, that is, the inward disturbance which might have been wisely interpreted. To cure disease is to (1) see its mental causes, (2) understand the false directions of mind or reasonings, (3) see the truth concerning health as a Divine ideal, (4) realize the great truth that the spirit is not sick; hence (5) to separate the true or “scientific” man from the man of opinion or error. This means undoing the “false reasoning” and learning what would have been the right interpretation of the first sensation or pain.

The senses give us a “knowledge of sensation, with or without Science.” They have their spiritual counterparts, the true or “real” senses, not in and of matter. These are “light,” “life,” and are “in light,” in contrast with the wisdom of this world (in darkness). The true senses constitute the real man or, spirit, the child of God. They are larger than the natural man or body. Hence they are not “in” the body. They include our higher consciousness, clairvoyance or intuition, with the inner impressions coming to us independently of the brain. Thus we have discernment of objects at a distance, we behold spiritual events, conditions, states; we detect “odors” or mental atmospheres at a distance. Through these senses we have immediate access to Divine wisdom and love. They include the feminine side of our nature, the receptivity or higher love. In brief, they yield Science or “the Christ within.” Through this priceless possession man is able to make Divine wisdom manifest in spiritual healing.

Science or Truth is fundamental knowledge of this our real nature, with its inner states and possibilities. It is light in contrast with the wisdom of the world. It is harmony in contrast with disease or discord. It corrects all errors, holds no doubts, proves all things, explains causes and effects. It is Divine wisdom “reduced to self–evident propositions.” It is the basis of all special branches of knowledge when those other sciences are rightly founded. It is Christ, the wisdom of Jesus. It is in all, accessible to all. We all become parts of it in so far as we discern real truth. In fact, Quimby often says the real man “is” Science. In contrast with it, the body is only a “tenement for man to occupy when he pleases.”

Jesus was the man who brought the true light or Christ to light. Christ was His religion, the God in Him. It is the sympathy “which annihilates space.” It separates Truth from error, Wisdom from opinion. “Christ is that unseen principle in man of which he is conscious, but which be has never considered as intelligence.” It is in reality the basis of all true intelligence. It is Wisdom reduced to practice so that it is made tangible or visible in the concrete things of life. More than that, it is the real man in us all, the spiritual self or ego. To be a disciple of Jesus is not only to realize the Christ within as an individual possession, but to put this wisdom into practice in daily life. The New Testament, rightly understood, is the great book of life. We might read the Bible, as indeed we might read the human heart, if we began with the Christ, if we had overcome bondage to the wisdom of the world. To overcome this servitude is to become spiritually free.

God is an eternal and everlasting Essence without matter or visible form. This eternal Wisdom spoke the idea “matter” into existence and everything else that man calls life. The original language was not then the invention of man but was God, sympathy, going forth into expression in the human heart and the world. Man invented language to some extent, but because he had lost the original and was not content to live by Divine guidance: he invented language to “explain his own wisdom.” But language might be used to undeceive. Even now the language of sympathy is the language of the sick. What we need is intuition to read that language, according to Divine guidance. Quimby is a great believer in the guidance of the moment, the inward light which shows where a patient stands, what the needs are, what wisdom is needed to clear away the errors. He emphasizes guidance as wisdom, rather than “power.” He claims no special “power” and maintains that any one can learn to read the original language.

This language discloses man’s true identity or inner consciousness. Man, to be sure, has as many identities as he has directions of mind. But these are transitory. We “attach our senses” to that which we take to be real for the time being, we are imprisoned in certain directions of mind through our “false constructions” or errors. The great point is to observe the central contrast within the self, between (1) the mind of opinions, man’s natural mind, subject to suggestion, changeable like plastic substance, amenable to falsities, “the mind of the flesh;” and, (2) the mind of the scientific man, accessible to Divine truth, possessing an intelligence which does not change, “the Christ within.” There is need of the most clear–cut distinction between the two. Divine truth can accomplish great results in us, far more than the mere “power of thought.” A fundamental change can be wrought by making this incisive distinction, through intuition or “clairvoyance,” by direct openness to Divine wisdom. Then error or darkness will be dispelled.

Again, there is a great contrast between the natural and spiritual worlds. For the moment, in some of Quimby’s critiques on religion, the “other world” seems to have disappeared, and there is apparently nothing left but a collection of beliefs. But this is because Quimby is chiefly concerned with man’s religious belief in a supposed other world as a place of punishment or mere beatitude; because he is convinced that Jesus did not refer to the same sort of “world” which the Jews believed in. Man must first see that his theological heaven or hell is an artifical region created for him by his religious creed, peopled by his own fancies or made vivid by his own fears. The two worlds thus far are in man’s mind and nowhere else. Jesus came to destroy both the world of opinion and the “other world” of theology, that He might reveal the Christ within. But once aware that our “other world” is non–existent, we are ready for the profound truth that all phenomena appearing in the natural world are manifestations of the spiritual world, or world of causes. To attain this vision is no small accomplishment, for it means total victory over all conventional ideas of death, with all its terrors, its supposed decisiveness for salvation and everything else which theology has invented.

[This is the eleventh installment of a twelve–part series originally written and published as Chapter XIX. SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]


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Editor’s Corner

Today we are continuing a twelve–part serial review of Chapter 19, SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH, of the 1921 publication, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser.

In Wisdom, Love, and Light,
Ron Hughes

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