Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Language INovember 1862
In introducing my ideas to the world, I labor under the disadvantage, as anyone does, who seeks to bring into language what has never been embodied in thought or words. In early ages a celebrated Roman presented his philosophy in a poem, and finding great difficulty in making himself understood, he thus apologized for his language:
I know 'tis hard to explain in Latin verse
The dark mystic notions of the Greeks,
(For I have things to say, require new words
Because the tongue is poor, the subject new)
But your virtue and the pleasure I expect
From tender friendship, makes me bear the toil.
And spend the silent night with watchful eyes
Studious of words and numbers I shall use
To open to your mind such scenes of light
Which show the hidden qualities of things unknown.
If he who commenced with man in matter; reasoned him body and soul out of matter; dissolved him into space and finally lost him, found language inadequate to his subject - some sympathy can be had for one who has struggled day and night to rid himself of the earthly matter and rise triumphant into the world of science; where matter is seen moving, as though it contained life.
Wisdom is a solid truth, and truth cannot be increased or diminished. Therefore, wisdom fills all space. Let us try to identify man in this wisdom that has no matter. A man's wisdom contains his memory of events and his identity of himself, as a man. He knows he has a body; and this is not matter, but wisdom. To make a man lose his knowledge that he has legs is to deprive him of his wisdom, as far as his legs are concerned. And if his wisdom is his belief, that can be dissolved; so that he cannot have any identity at all - then where is he? An answer, in part, may be found in Job, 4th Ch., where a spirit passed before the Temanite; showing the difference between the spiritual and natural man.
For a further illustration, take two rose bushes - one bearing a white rose and the other, a red. Let these represent two children of different complexions. Call the rose the brain (or intellect). From each child flows wisdom, as fragrance comes from the rose - and at first it is confined to the brain. The idea of an intelligence outside of the brain is a mystery. But like odors - their intellects mingle, forming a new combination in the mind; and this process goes on, until the intellect sees that it contains all the elements of the brain, as the odor contains the substance of the rose.
Finally, the children get to that state where they see and reason that matter dissolved contains the elements of man - and here they stop. For in their reason, they never count themselves; but speak as though matter is the only thing that contains life. Now touch the one who reasons, and ask him who it is that talks - the brain or the intelligence. If the odor (or intelligence) speaks - then it has language; but if there is an intelligence in the odor that speaks - then it speaks in and through the odor and makes itself felt by the rose (or brain).
I will explain this by what passes while sitting by a sick person. Every belief contains matter (or ideas) which throw off an odor, like a rose. The white and red roses throw off their peculiar odors. The white is white to itself; and the red is red to itself. In like manner, man throws off two odors - one matter and the other, wisdom. As wisdom is in the odor of man, it is disturbed by the matter (or mind), which also has an odor that is like a polished mirror; and the fear is the image of the belief. Wisdom sees the image in the mirror, held there by its fear. My wisdom disturbs the opinion. This affects the belief, and this deadens the mirror, until the image (or disease) is gone - then this is health.
I find that I am not generally understood when I say, "mind is matter." Words are not matter, but they are the names of something - either matter or solid. The word "solid" cannot be applied to anything that can be changed. Therefore, it must be applied to wisdom, because that fills all space and cannot be made larger or denser; it is in and through all matter which is called solid. I apply the word only to wisdom. Opinions I call matter - for they can be changed. The word does not change, but the substance does.
All names, as I have said, are to represent something. As this wisdom which fills all space is in all matter, matter seems to have life, of itself. But life is in the knowledge of this change - not in the thing that changes. So when I say all disease is in the mind, I do not mean in the word, but in the substance. For instance, all the elements of the rose are in the odor; and if the word matter is applied to the rose (or living bush), the odor would represent its mind (or wisdom); but the wisdom that spoke the rose into existence is not a part of either - yet it holds it in all its different combinations.
The word wisdom embraces science - for that is the name of wisdom reduced to practice. There is no science or wisdom in opinions or belief, so they are embraced in the word mind - for mind embraces all that can be seen of man. I do not believe that because man has invented words to destroy himself, he is destroyed; but that being ignorant of himself, he supposes he is something apart from wisdom - and that when he knows himself, he will see that the very wisdom that speaks, speaks through the very mind (or matter).
To illustrate that the eternal principle of wisdom, which is in matter, is not a part of it - but outside of it, as much as a man's sight is outside his spectacles - I once put a lady into a mesmeric state, that the doctor might extract a needle from her arm. I was seated by her. She had every sense and faculty as perfect as in her waking state, but she contained no matter, except as an idea. Therefore, pain was an idea; and she had sympathy, according to her wisdom. And being in sympathy with me, she took her arm for mine. According to her belief, to cut my arm must cause me pain, so she asked, "Does it not hurt you?" I said, "No," and she replied, "I should think it would!"
Here were two persons - one coming within my senses, as a being of mind; the other I was not aware of. This unknown person still lived with all the faculties and wisdom of herself, while the earthly body was as lifeless and unfeeling as marble. This unseen person is the real person, and to deceive her is to make her grieve; not for herself, but for the man of matter.
Every sensation is a disturbance of this mind, and every idea is made of this matter. And matter is constantly throwing off particles; each of which contains the elements of the idea. Ideas are as separate as living seeds. An apple will not bring forth a pear; neither will the seed (or idea) of consumption produce liver complaint. But a pear may be grafted into an apple tree - and so can spinal disease be grafted into consumption. Each disease throws from itself particles, which contain the elements of the original idea. This atmosphere (or odor) is like a mirror, and the idea is in it. This is seen by the other life (or identity), which I call wisdom; which becomes disturbed from sympathy with the person in this odor (or belief).
To make my meaning plain, I must represent two men - one sick and the other, in health; one a man of opinions and the other, a man of wisdom. Wisdom is not science, but truth - which reduced to practice is called science. To know that you exist is a truth; to prove that you will always exist is a science, because man has not the wisdom to understand himself.
It is a truth that we have a body called “matter,” and it is a truth that we believe it will die; but it is not a truth that it will live again, for this is merely an opinion and must admit a doubt. Wisdom does not admit a doubt - and whether we are of wisdom or of matter is the problem to solve. Here is where man had arrived at the time that Jesus came before the world. Philosophy had reasoned and proved that all which constitute man must change, and therefore must be matter. But the religious community believed that this matter was reunited at the end of the world and took its identity.