Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
There is one point of belief in which all men are agreed - that the better a person is, the happier he is. In this, as I said, all are agreed, and the only question to be considered or argued is how shall we live so that our lives may be good and happy?
Parents differ from one another as to the manner of rearing children. They do not all see alike, and each one has some peculiar belief in regard to the right way in which the child should be brought up. They may all be honest, yet some of them are deceived. Thus the religious belief of parents has a great influence on the child - for good or for evil - and they stand to their children as God stands to them. If they believe that God requires obedience to his will as a duty they owe him as their preserver and friend, then they want the same obedience from their children.
All kinds of religions are arbitrary and require submission to its will. It is the natural working of the earthly man. He asks to be worshiped, in order that he may worship. In his ignorance, he invents some form of worship, and this to him is religion. Jesus had no religion, yet he worshiped not anyone's God, but a truth; a science that he could feel and appreciate that was his God - but it is not the God of the present religious man. His God is one of power and strength; a God that must be obeyed; a God that requires prayers and a strict regard for his laws.
The whole sum of man's belief is this - that there are two worlds; one that we now live in and the other that we shall inhabit after death. For man believes that he must die and that his body must decompose and return to the mother earth, while his soul - if he has any - will return to the God who gave it.
When men asked if they will know their friends in the other world, they answer, “Oh, yes.” Ask what the soul is, and they say it is the spirit of a person.
“Can you see a spirit?”
“Can the spirit return to earth?”
“Well, we differ on that point; some persons think it can, while other persons think otherwise.”
Therefore some think their departed friends are with them, while others think they are absent. They all agree, however, that we must all die - or something to the same effect; that we throw aside this body and assume a spiritual body. Now this same controversy existed in the days of Jesus, and many were the questions put to him in order to learn what belief he entertained in regard to the dead. Now I believe that I entertain the same ideas in regard to death as Jesus did, and although to others it may be an opinion, I know that what I say is a truth.
Science is not matter - but wisdom reduced to practice. Error is matter, for it can be destroyed. If I should tell you that you had committed an error in regard to a certain business transaction whereby you had lost quite a sum of money, and I make the error so plain to see that you believe it - there would be no effect on the body (or matter). If what I said did not contain something, and it still produced an effect, then it would seem that nothing can produce something; therefore that which I called an error was something real, and I call it “matter,” because it can be changed.
The mind can be changed and the ideas annihilated, and still the mind will exist. A house is built of stone; the house is matter, therefore. Now you destroy the house but not the destruction of the matter; for the matter is eternal and cannot be destroyed, though its combination may change. So it is with beliefs which - like buildings - are made of matter. The belief may be destroyed, but the material remains and can be formed into other ideas, as is the case with any other matter.
Man's belief is all matter. His religion and ideas of disease are all false beliefs, and the effects produced on his body are caused by them. Man's creator is in him and governs him; yet he is recognized only as a principle without wisdom. Assuming that man and his beliefs and all that we see of him are matter and can be changed, I will endeavor to produce a man that is not made of matter; one that you cannot see except through your belief, but whom nevertheless you will admit.
You will admit that there is such a thing as memory, yet memory cannot be seen. You will also admit there are certain principles which we call “science,” but you put no wisdom in them. Now it is just here that we differ. Jesus was a man of matter, but Christ was from God (or Wisdom), and no one will say that God is matter or that He can be changed. Jesus' superiority over the natural man came from some wisdom above opinions; therefore if you believe that his wisdom came from God, you must admit that it existed before the birth of Jesus. If so, what was it, and what was its identity? It could not be seen, yet it was admitted.
We are told that it came into the world, and the world knew it not. It came to its own, and its own received it not. Probably all will admit that this something was intelligence. And if it was, and it is admitted that intelligence can come and go and yet not be seen - then it must have an identity; not of matter but of something else, something that cannot be destroyed - and it must be wisdom. Wisdom must contain within itself all of man's knowledge and ideas and know what is true and what is false - and yet be invisible to our belief. Yet it is the power which governs all matter, whether in the form of man or beast.
The world that Jesus came from, when he said he came from his father, is not the Christian's world, but the world of wisdom. And when he came into this world, as it is called, he did not mean this world of matter, called the “globe,” but the world of opinions (or the people's beliefs). Christ came from wisdom into error to teach the child of science that we are held in bondage by the errors of religion; that this world was not his home. For he had a house not made with hands (or man's belief), but by wisdom, which is eternal; and that the temple (or belief) which held him must crumble to pieces and be destroyed; the matter returning to matter, to be subject to wisdom. To convince the people of this was to teach a new science, and when a person grows up and rids himself of error (or opinions), then he lives in wisdom and is no longer a man of matter.
I will give you my belief - for to you it is a belief, though to me it is a truth. I will take a man, giving him all the wisdom of the religious world, and address myself to him, and show wherein we differ; yet he cannot see the difference, for having eyes, he sees not, and ears but hears not, and a heart but cannot understand. He chooses opinions (or darkness), because he cannot bear the truth (or light) - for science destroys error and sets the truth free.
To make the difference between our beliefs plain, it is necessary to set them down side-by-side. A religious man is one who acknowledges himself to be flesh and blood, but having a soul within him which, after the body dissolves, goes to heaven. The soul is a belief to him, but the flesh and blood is a reality. I ask him to give me his ideas of the worlds. If I understand him, he means by this world the material globe and all that is in it. This constitutes the religious world. The other world to him is but a belief; while this world is a substance, a truth.
His belief is founded on the Bible. He believes that God made this world before he made man, and then he placed man in a literal garden wherein were all kinds of fruits and bade him eat of all kinds but one; that man in this garden disobeyed God's commands and in consequence lost his right to the other world and was banished from God's presence. Seeing that man would not return to him of his own accord, God pitied him and sent his own son, Jesus Christ, into the world to pardon all men - on certain conditions. Man, of himself, can do nothing. His salvation is not of works; lest they should boast - but it is a free gift of God. And to obtain this gift man must forsake father and mother, house and home, and acknowledge before God, on his bended knees, that he is unworthy to be called a Christian; that he has sinned against God - and if he had his just deserts, he would be cast out of heaven forever. He acknowledges that God is the embodiment of all benevolence; that his tender mercies are over all his children and that not one hair of our heads can fall without his notice. He believes that God has prepared a place for him and will sometime send his angel to bear him to his home when he puts aside this earthly body.
I will not say that I have given the whole belief of the religious man, for I have not; but these are some of the principal heads. But unless we comply with all this and much more, God will cut us off from all his blessings and turn us over to the evil one. This is a literal statement of the Christian's belief. I find this truth in the words of Jesus, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus, then, had a kingdom unlike man's - and my kingdom (or theory) is like that of Jesus, as I understand it.
Man's kingdom is in another world outside of this material world, and Jesus came into this world and established his kingdom - but his kingdom is not like that of the Christian. This world, to the Christian, means this material globe, and Jesus' kingdom was in man's belief, which was matter, also. Man was a literal substance and could be seen by the people. Christ (or science) could not be seen, except by those who had this science. One came by sight and the other by feeling and sympathy. The good and wicked were all in this religious world, while no unclean thing could enter the kingdom of Jesus.
The Christian is all the time trying to convert the wicked, while Jesus was trying to destroy them. The kingdom of Jesus and that of the people were so different that Jesus could see no resemblance between them, and he destroyed the kingdom of man in man to establish his own. He aimed to destroy the devil's kingdom - and that is what I am aiming at. Whenever he destroyed the kingdom of man, he holds up his own, creating a new heaven and a new earth, as the old heaven and earth had passed away. The fire shall run over all the earth, burning up every root and stubble, from which shall rise a peculiar people that shall worship God day and night.
I will now give my ideas of all this. This world is man's belief. The truth is the science (or true shepherd). This truth - put in practice - is that which takes away the sins (or errors) of man, and the end of error is the end of the world. The introduction of religion based on science is the commencement of the new world. The science which shall devour our errors is the teaching of this great truth. The sick are those who are bound in prison before the flood, and the opening of the prison doors is the understanding of this truth.
Peter is the science that holds the keys (or theory). All that are loosed on earth by this truth are loosed in heaven (or in their belief). To preach Christ is to put heaven in practice - to liberate the poor and sick who have been bound by the false ideas of the world. I know of no other world than that which Jesus set up in man's heart, which meant the mind. He never had any reference to this globe as a world. His two worlds were science and error. He made but one for himself - and that was science. But man has made another world from his beliefs, and that was the world that he came into, in order to cast out the children of the kingdom of error into a lake of fire. That is, he enters man's belief, and destroying all error, he establishes his kingdom of science; so that men shall come from the east and west, north and south, and sit down with wisdom. It is then that the children of error are cast out, and that was the end of the world. Then a new world begins, and a new religion springs up, based on science. Under this religion, no man will say to another, “Do what is right,” for all will do right, because he will feel right in so doing.