by Horatio W. Dresser
With reference to the rumor current in his later years that his views were unchanged, Quimby writes in 1862, "As I used to mesmerise, some think my mode of treatment is mesmeric. But my mode is not in the least like those who claim to be mesmerised, or to be spiritual mediums." Adding that he knows all about mesmeric treatment, after "twenty years" since he began the experiments which enabled him to see through it, he says that if he "had no other aim than dollars and cents," he would close his eyes, go into a trance, tell the patient how he felt and call some Indian to prescribe by making out the patient "sick of scrofula or of cancerous humor or some other foolish disease," and impress upon the patient the necessity of having medicine ordered by the spirits of his "own getting up." That is, he sees through the whole game played by mesmerists and mediums who mislead the people and take their money. "If I should do this, I should do what I know to be wrong." Instead, he tells his readers that he asks "no aid from any source but Wisdom. . . . Wisdom never acts in that way."
Again, in October, 1861, Quimby writes: "It is twenty years since I first embarked in what was one of the greatest humbugs of the age, mesmerism. At that time the people were as superstitious about it as they were two hundred years ago in regard to witchcraft."
What was the prime result of his investigations? That the human mind is amenable to suggestion, as we now say; that there are subjects capable of being put into a state which we now call hypnosis; and that the alleged magnetic, electrical or mesmeric effects are not mysterious at all, but are the results of the action of mind on mind. The alleged humbug was reduced to the operation of a principle to which we are all subject, the influence of thought. The supposed wonders of the clairvoyant state are capital instances of the activity of an intuition which we all possess. There is no such process as "mesmerism," therefore. There is no "magnetic healing." There is power of one mind to control another, to be sure, and this was surely remarkable in the case of Quimby and Lucius. But the clairvoyant or intuitive powers of Lucius were not generated in Lucius by Quimby: these are latent powers of the human soul, and all minds have access to things, persons and events at a distance. All healing said to take place by mesmeric, spiritistic or magnetic influences occurs according to one principle: the only principle of healing in every instance whatever, natural and Divine, according to resident energies and unchanging laws. There could be no mesmeric or magnetic science of healing, any more than there exists a medical science: the one true science is spiritual. No one who sees this could ever be content to practise upon the credulity of the people, instilling suggestions into their minds under the guise of a "trance" or by the aid of hypnosis. Hence Quimby's work from this time on was to expose what he called the deception practised by physicians, just as he exposed priestcraft, the humbuggery of mediumship, and the fallacies of every sort of imposition turning upon the acceptance of opinion for truth.
Had Mrs. Eddy known this, she would have seen the futility of calling Quimby an "ignorant mesmerist" at any point in his career. An unenlightened mesmerist he was just as long as he adopted the prevailing theories, while trying them out. His own mind was free and his world of thought a free one from the time he saw that the right thing to do was to seek that Wisdom which "disabuses the mind of its errors." It then became necessary to draw a radical line of distinction between the "mind of opinions," subject to suggestions and in certain instances to hypnosis; and the "mind of Science," the "mind of Christ," possessed by the real self. It was a long road to travel from the point where Quimby started out, a believer in medical practice and a student of mesmerism, to faith in an inner or higher self immediately open to the Divine presence with its guiding Wisdom quickening the "mind of Christ." The guide throughout was love of truth, leading the way to inductions from actual experience. One of his patients who understood the prime results as he saw them fulfilled in Quimby's work among the sick has said:
"This discovery, you observe, was not made from the Bible, but from mental phenomena and searching investigations; and, after the truth was discovered, he found his new views portrayed and illustrated in Christ's teachings and works. If you think this seems to show that Quimby was a remarkable man, let me tell you that he was one of the most unassuming of men that ever lived; for no one could well be more so, or make less account of his own achievements. Humility was a marked feature of his character (I knew him intimately). To this was united a benevolent and an unselfish nature, and a love of truth, with a remarkably keen perception. But the distinguishing feature of his mind was that he could not entertain an opinion, because it was not knowledge. His faculties were so practical and perceptive that the wisdom of mankind, which is largely made up of opinions, was of little value to him. Hence the charge that he was not an educated man is literally true. True knowledge to him was positive proof, as in a problem of mathematics. Therefore, he discarded books and sought phenomena, where his perceptive faculties made him master of the situation. Therefore, he got from his experiments in mesmerism what other men did not get,—a stepping-stone to a higher knowledge than man possessed, and a new range to mental vision." (1)
(1) J. A. Dresser in the "True History," p. 10.
Quimby sums up his results in one of his tentative introductions, in which he says:
"My object in introducing this work to the reader is to correct some of the errors that flesh is heir to. During a long experience in the treatment of disease I have labored to find the causes of so much misery in the world. By accident I became interested in what was then called mesmerism, not thinking of ever applying it to any useful discovery or to benefit man, but merely as a phenomenon for my own gratification. Being a sceptic I would not believe anything that my subject would do if there was any chance for deception, so all my experiments were carried on mentally. This gave me a chance to discover how far Mesmer was entitled to any discovery over those who had followed him. I found that the phenomenon could be produced. This was a truth but the whys and wherefores were a mystery. This is the length of mesmerism, it is all a mystery, like spiritualism. Each has its belief but the causes are in the dark. Believing in the phenomenon I wanted to discover the causes and find if there were any good to come out of it.
"In my investigation I found that my ignorance would produce phenomena in my subject that my own wisdom could not correct. At first I found that my thoughts affected the subject, and not only my thought but my belief. I found that my own thoughts were one thing and my belief another.
If I really believed in anything, the effect would follow whether I was thinking of it or not. For instance, I believed that silk would attract the subject. This was a belief in common with mankind, so if a person having any silk about him, for instance a lady with a silk apron, the subject's hand would be affected by it and the hand would move towards the lady, even if she were behind him. So I found that belief in everything affects us, yet we are not aware of it because we do not think. We think our beliefs have nothing to do with the phenomenon. But anything that is believed has reality to those that believe it, and it is liable to affect them at any time when the condition of the mind is in a right state.
"Minds are like clouds, always flying, and our belief catches them as the earth catches seeds that fly in the winds. My object was to discover what a belief was made of and what thought was. This I found out by thinking of something Lucius could describe, so that I knew he must see or get the information from me in some way; at last I found out that mind was something that could be changed. I called it spiritual matter, because I found it could be condensed into a solid and receive a name called "tumor," and by the same power under a different direction it might be dissolved and made to disappear. This showed me that man was governed by two powers or directions, one by a belief, the other by a science. The creating of disease is under the superstition of man's belief. [Conventional] cures have been by the same remedy. Disease being brought about through a false belief, it took another false belief to correct the first; so that instead of destroying the evil, the remedy created more.
"I found that there is a Wisdom that can be applied to these errors or evils that can put man in possession of a Science that will not only destroy the evil but will hold up its serpent head, as Moses in the wilderness held up the errors of religious creeds, and all that looked upon his explanation were cured of the diseases that followed their beliefs. Science will hold up these old superstitious beliefs and theories and all that listen and learn can be cured not only of the disease that they may be suffering from but they will know how to avoid the errors of others.
"I shall endeavor to give a fair account of my investigations and what I have had to contend with and how I succeeded. I have said many things in regard to medical science but all that I have said was called out by my patients being deceived by the profession. The same is true of the religious profession. Every article was written under an excited state brought about by some wrong inflicted on my patient by the medical faculty, the clergy or public opinion. All my arguments are used to correct some false opinion that has affected my patient in the form of disease, mentally or physically. In doing this I have to explain the Bible, for troubles arise from a wrong belief in certain passages, and when I am sitting by my patient those passages that cause trouble also trouble me, and the passage comes to me with the explanation and I, as a man, am not aware of the answer till I find it out [intuitively].
"There is a wisdom that has never been reduced to language. The science of curing disease has never been described by language, but the error that makes disease is in the mouth of every child. The remedies are also described but the remedies are worse than the disease, for instead of lessening the evil, they have increased it. In fact the theory of correcting disease is the introduction of life."
[This is the third and final installment of a three part series originally written and published as Chapter V. THE PRINCIPLES DISCOVERED, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
An Invitation. The text for this invitation was extracted from the article: Cause of Disease, written by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby in 1863. This article is published in: Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond, by the Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Resource Center. Narration by Ronald A. Hughes. Running time 2:18
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