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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

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Dr. Phineas P. Quimby
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Imagination II

February 1862

What is imagination? It is the word used to convey to another some idea that cannot be seen by the person you are addressing - and to him it is nothing but your own fancy. This is an error, for the word is not applied in the right sense. The true meaning of the word, if there is any such, is this - to create a scene in your own mind, by your own wisdom, that you know is only the creation of yourself. It is all the while known to you that you are the author, but if you convince another of it, then it ceases to be imagination and becomes a reality to him. But to you, it is all the while imagination.

Here is the trouble. We take what man believes that cannot be seen for imagination and that which we believe for reality. With God all matter is imagination, for to him it is but shadow; while to man it is a self-evident fact. Man has the same power of creating things which he knows are shadows (or imagination), but to those who believe, they are reality. For instance, to the person who believes it, liver complaint is a reality. To me it is imagination, as I define it, for I can make the same idea and know how I make it. But if I believe in disease, and make it so plain as to believe it is real disease, then my imagination is gone, and I am diseased. This is true.

There are two kinds of imagination to the one who imagines; both real to those who believe. Suppose I am a stump, really, and suppose I say to a man, pointing to another stump, "There is a man with a gun." If my words frighten him, he makes the stump into a man. To me it is a stump, but to him it is a man, without any imagination. There is no imagination in either case. We both see according to our wisdom - but I have deceived him, and to him my deception is a truth. Again, suppose I become so excited as to affect him, so that he sees another object to which he calls my attention. If it is anything that contains life, my fears are excited, and the thing is as real to me as anything that exists.

There is no such thing as reality with God, except himself. He is all wisdom and nothing else. All other things having form are things of his creation (or imagination). His life is attached to all that we call life, and when his life is detached, the shadow - to us - is dead, but to God it never had any life.

There are many ways of illustrating this idea of imagination. I believe this very idea St. John and Jesus tried to explain. Thought-reading was known at that time, for there are many instances recorded where Jesus told them their thoughts - but clairvoyance was rare. All magicians, sorcerers, witches, etc., were thought-readers. Jesus knew that this was the extent of the wisdom of mind known to the priest, and all those who pretended to cure did so on this idea. So when Jesus saw beyond their thoughts - he must be something beyond this power.

Thought-reading is what we call “knowledge,” but clairvoyance is wisdom. The difference is this - the clairvoyant sees by his own light; the thought-reader, by the light of another. Therefore, Jesus is called the “light of the world.” “Light” means that state of wisdom outside of the wisdom of man or thought-reading. It is science. Thought-reading is imagination or reasoning. So when we say a man imagines this or that, it means nothing, except that he believes what someone has told him.

God is the embodiment of light (or clairvoyance), and to his light, all is a mere nothing. When he spoke man into existence, his wisdom breathed into the shadow, and it received life. So the shadow's life is in God; for in this light it moves and has its being, and it becomes the son of God. As Jesus became clairvoyant, he became the son of God. He said, “Although you destroy this temple (or thought), I - that is this clairvoyant self - can speak into existence another, like the one you think you have destroyed.” The rest of the world attached theirs to the thought (or darkness) of the natural man.


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