Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Immortality: A Dialogue
(P) I call that the “soul.”
(T) Well, we will not quarrel about terms.
(P) Where does this something exist after the body dies?
(T) Just where it did before.
(P) Where was it then?
(T) Just where it is now.
(P) Where is that?
(T) Where we are.
(P) Can you see it?
(T) Did you ever see it?
(T) How do you know then that there is one?
(P) Because I see the body moving about.
(T) So do beasts move about. Have they souls?
(P) No, perhaps not. Will you give me your ideas on this subject?
(T) I know that I exist, and this truth does not require taste, sight or any of the five senses to prove it to myself. Does it to you?
(T) This fact proves another fact - that we can exist independently of the five senses.
This part which exists independently of the five senses is what is immortal, but owing to a vague idea as to what “soul” means, I prefer not to use that term. I will call it the “man.” This man contains within himself the knowledge of the five senses. He also contains within himself all the faculties of the mind; and by these faculties the man, wisdom, forms his own body. This, by the world, may be called an opinion - but I arrive at it by previous reflection.
To this body he attaches the five senses, and thus life is given to it. If any accident happens to this body, and the man, wisdom, detaches his senses and faculties from it, the man has not lost anything, although the world may call him dead. But the world has never seen the man or his faculties - only their representatives (or shadow). To the man, the change is no greater than if he were to turn from viewing himself in one mirror to viewing himself in another.
Life and death are, to the world, conditions. When the faculties are attached to matter which the world can see, this is a condition of life; when detached from that and attached to what the world cannot see, that is called a condition of death. But with wisdom, the whole is reversed. Life and death are merely ideas that may be changed.