impressions made on me sometimes as I am attending patients
has opened to me scenes of a future existence so plain that to doubt the truth of them
would be as absurd as to doubt my own existence.
~ Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Death: A SceneJuly 1864
The impressions made on me, sometimes, as I am attending patients has opened to me scenes of a future existence so plain that to doubt the truth of them would be as absurd as to doubt my own existence. And these scenes show me the absurdity of the Christian belief - for man makes himself the creature of his belief. Life and death, to him, are as real as heat and cold.
Now we admit that these two ideas - life and death - exist independent of our senses. Then, of course, they must have an existence outside of our senses (or belief). Now I will admit that man believes all this, and he is responsible to himself for his belief - and all the misery that follows comes from his own belief. Man is in his belief, although he is not a part of it - but is like a man's wisdom in his works. His works contain no wisdom, so his belief is the work of man's wisdom; and if his wisdom is of man's belief, he is in his belief - and if his wisdom is of science, he is in truth.
Now I will show how these two elements take the senses (or man) from the idea “body.” I was attending an aged gentleman who had been rather feeble, and according to the world's belief, was gradually running down. The lamp of life was nearly consumed. Now all his friends expected the change, yet the time had not arrived for the angel to summon him to leave his earthly habitation and be transferred to the world of spirits; yet they, like the bridegroom, clamored till the angel of death gave the alarm.
Now it happened that a strange vision came over the old gentleman. A nervous cough set in. This was the signal of alarm, and the angel of opinion gave the alarm. This roused the inmates, and fear fell upon all the friends. Now I felt the weight of this false belief - death; for I could see no danger, but from sympathy. It went like fire on a prairie, till it enveloped the friends of the old gentleman. This I had to put out, or it would envelop the old gentleman himself.
Now I will relate my vision of what seemed, to me, to be a truth. Man's belief contains something. This acts upon another - and mingles with every person, just according to the evidence. So the sick are at the mercy of the world's belief. Now the senses are not in the belief, so if the belief is presented to a person in doubt, he is not in a state to resist it. So as the belief of the sick man was that his time of departure was near at hand, he would throw from himself an influence that would have a tendency to create distrust in his friends.
So as man's belief in death is a separation from the body, he will try to find some resting place outside of his earthly body. So heaven is introduced. This, being a belief - we all, without being aware, create a place for our friends; and the first impression is that our friends cannot live. This acts like mesmerizing a person. The sick sit or lie, passive, yet convulsed and begin to show signs of short breathing. This encourages the friends in their belief, till a sort of “atmosphere” is created, sufficient to bring up the spirit (or identity) of their friend, and he rises, like a person in a balloon, and is carried beyond the regions of this world. There he floats in space - for their beliefs cannot define a spot.
Now this cloud (or ignorance) (or belief), I saw. And as it gathered around the old gentleman, it seemed as though he sat upon a cloud, ready to leave as soon as the cords of life were severed. Now I felt as though I could locate an atmosphere more rarefied than death and lighter than error's darkness. So I let my light shine into the cloud of death. Death was swallowed up with truth, and the cloud dissolved. The light took its place, and the truth prevailed.