Chapter XIV of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
[The articles published under this head constitute Vol. I of the Quimby writings. They are published here in the order in which they were copied from the originals, as written, save for a few changes made under Quimby’s supervision, and slight condensations. They are printed in this order instead of being arranged in connection with other pieces on the same topics, because they were the first papers containing a statement of the general theory, and the copybook containing them was sometimes loaned to patient—students, including the one who made liberal use of their contents.
In these studies Quimby speaks of mind, in the ordinary sense of the term, as a “substance” which can be changed, in which thoughts are sown as seeds. Mind is put in contrast with intelligence or Wisdom. Thus intelligence is said to possess an “identity” or reality which mind does not have. The next step is to show that the human soul has clairvoyance or intuition, independent of the natural senses. This fact Quimby had proved by repeated experiments in diagnosing the sick.
The term “matter” is used in a peculiar sense throughout, to cover the processes of change attendant upon suggestion and taking place subconsciously. “Thoughts are things,” later writers have said.
One of the copybooks containing these studies has emendations in pencil, made under Quimby’s directions by Miss Sarah Ware, in preparation for a book. The following introductory note by Dr. Quimby is written on the page opposite the first article. It is given here word for word as written.] (Horatio W. Dresser.)
It will be necessary to give the reader some idea of what suggested the following article, headed Mind is Spiritual Matter. I found that by the power of my own mind I could change the mind of my patient and produce a chemical change in the body, like dissolving a tumor. Now the word mind is not the substance, only the name of the substance that can be changed. The world makes mind intelligence, i. e., direction. I put no intelligence in it, but make it subject to intelligence. The word fire, for instance, doesn’t mean the substance to be consumed but the process of consuming it. So mind is the name of a spiritual substance that can be changed. We speak of a cold fire or a hot fire, yet we do not mean that the fire itself is cold or hot, only that we make it hotter or colder; yet it is fire, subject to our direction. Wisdom I do not use in this piece. I call the power that governs mind, spirit. But you will see that I recognize a Wisdom superior to the word mind, for I always apply the word mind to matter, but never apply it to the First Cause.
MIND IS SPIRITUAL MATTER
Thought is also matter, but not the same matter, any more than the earth is the same matter as the seed which is put into it. Thought like the seed germinates and comes forth, like the tree, in the form of an idea. It then waits like the fruit to be eaten. Curiosity is excited and wants to be gratified; it tastes and then inquires; the answer comes and the spirit is affected in proportion to the answer. Illustration: A thought is sown in the mind while asleep or ignorant, it grows and comes forth. The curiosity tastes; it produces a strange sensation in the throat. The spirit inquires, the answer comes, Bronchitis. The spirit is disturbed and tries to rid itself of its enemy. This disturbance is the effect called disease. Now if no name had been given or fears excited, the idea or tree would have died of itself.—Oct. 1859.
WHAT IS DISEASE?
Disease is what follows the disturbance of the mind or spiritual matter. When I speak of disease I do not mean to confine the word to any particular phenomenon or disturbance of the mind, but that mind is disturbed like the soil of the earth ready to receive the seed. This disturbance contains no knowledge or thought, any more than a house on fire which disturbs the inmates or spirits, who flee out, not knowing the cause. It embraces mind without truth or error, like weight set in motion without direction. Weight like mind could never set itself in motion, but being set in motion it is called mechanical power. So is mind set in motion spiritual power. Both are governed by laws of truth or error, the fruit shows which of the two powers governs. If it is directed by the wisdom of God no bad results can follow, but if directed by error and ignorance, as ignorance is the enemy to truth, the truth will show which governs. As there is no knowledge in error, it sometimes happens that some results follow, as it did in the case of selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites. They, it is said, meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. Truth does not work in that way (that is, by accident). Truth works by laws, like mathematics;—error like chance.
The answer may come right, or may come wrong (in error) either way it contains no law by which the world is wiser. Ignorance is its life and truth its death. So by error comes disease or death. But by the destruction of error comes the introduction of Truth or Science, or health; and as error is matter or mind, it is the instrument of its own destruction. The matter is not annihilated, but the opinion is.
The combination which shows itself in persons in the form of an opinion, indicates its character by a peculiar show of wisdom superior to its followers, and when disturbed by Wisdom or Truth, it dies, but when not opposed, its opinions are sown into the minds of others, like seed in the ground, which comes forth in some form.
This form which follows the disturbance of the mind the doctors call disease. Here is where all the error lies; they take the effect for the cause. We confound the error and truth together; we take an opinion for a truth. This is an error, for what we know we have no opinion of. Knowledge is the destruction of an opinion or disease. Disease is what follows an opinion, it is made up of mind directed by error, and Truth is the destruction of this opinion.
These ideas, and hundreds of others, have been given to explain the effect of the mind. All admit the mind one thing and disease another. This theory that mind is one thing and disease another, has left the people in darkness, and caused more misery than all other evils put together. It has always been admitted that a theory that cannot be put in practice is not good.
Mind is a spiritual matter which, being agitated, disturbs the spirit. This disturbance contains no knowledge of itself, but produces a chemical change in the fluids of the system. These disturbances may be produced in various ways, for instance, by a shock on the mind, by the death of a friend, or by religious excitement, witchcraft, etc. All of the above contain what is called knowledge, which is communicated to the spirit and sets it to work to form disease, after the form the spirit gives the mind. The mind being the matter under the control of the spirit, is capable of producing any phenomenon.—Oct. 1859.
[This is the first installment of a fifteen—part series originally written and published as Chapter XIV. CHRIST OR SCIENCE, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
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Today we are beginning a fifteen—part serial review of Chapter 14, CHRIST OR SCIENCE, of the 1921 publication, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser.
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