What is death? Man, from ignorance, has associated truth with error, till an error has gotten to be as true as life, itself. For life cannot be seen, except as it is made manifest in some idea. This idea is called matter, and it has become so identified with life that life cannot exist without it.
This is the way man reasons. To destroy life is to destroy the idea that contains it. Therefore, when we see the idea without life, we say our life is “dead.” This would be true, if death was life; but it is not so, according to the words of Jesus. He says, "I am the life," and he came to destroy death and him that had the power of death; that is, the devil. Now if the devil has the power of death , death cannot mean what the people think it does.
Let us see what were Jesus' ideas of death and if they are like those of the Christians of our day. What did Jesus mean by these words, "I came, not to save life, but to destroy it; and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it; and he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live?”
Here you see he used the word “death” applied to persons that can be seen at this time. So if death means what we are taught to believe, then Jesus knew not what he said. Take it as you please. It either means an idea that can be changed or it means the destruction of life, and then all he said amounts to nothing. I am certain that I know what Jesus meant to convey to the people, for I have seen death, myself, and eternal life that he spoke of, and can testify that I have passed from death unto life, as he taught his disciples. And knowing this life that is in Christ, I teach it to you; not by opinions, but by words of wisdom that will destroy death and put you in possession of that true life that will make death only an idea, like all other ideas man must get rid of to enjoy himself.
If you will listen to me while I explain the mystery of life, you will see just where the people were at the time Jesus taught this eternal life. The world was in darkness in regard to one thing, that was life, independent of a belief. It never entered into their minds that wisdom was not an idea or that their wisdom was nothing but opinions; not life, but shadows that depended on the light of this life or science. So as the lamp of science lit up, it dispelled the shadow of opinions and embraced life.
Matter, as it is called, with science is nothing but a shadow. Life attaches itself to its own belief, and as its belief is changed, death is destroyed, and life takes its place. For illustration, take the idea man. We all have been made to believe that we are flesh and blood. I, for one, do not wish to lose that idea and believe I shall die. So I believe I am flesh and blood, and my life is attached to it. I also believe in death, according to the New Testament, which is eternal life.
I will now put myself in the position of those who Jesus said were dead in trespasses and sin. I believed, as all the world did, that this body would die, and if there was anything after death, I might be raised and united with my friends in another world, either happy or miserable. Now all this is under the law. So by the law, no flesh can be saved; but the gift of God must be eternal life. In the darkness of this error the light sprang up, and I arose from the dead or unbelief to the light of science and am now out of my old belief, and my life is still attached to the old idea of flesh and blood.
Perhaps you do not get the idea, so I will state it in a clearer way. You once were ignorant of mathematics. Then if a person should present you with a mathematical book, it would be all darkness to you. But the principle or spiritual wisdom was in the book; and as you began to understand, you had life, and your life was in your understanding, and you still had a body of flesh and blood, in your belief. As you lose your life or ignorance, you rise from the dead, but you still have flesh and blood, till the grave or skepticism is destroyed, and you rise into the scientific world, where those who are in the law or ignorance cannot see you; for the dead know nothing of mathematics.
Here is a resurrection. You have risen from the dead and are set down with those who have gone before you. Instead of being in the book, you are out of it; and to prove that you are out of the book, you say to those who are struggling with the world that you will show yourself to them by your resurrection.
So you do a mathematical problem without the book and then show that they are to be judged by their books; and if they are not found in the book of science, they are dead in their own sins or ignorance.
You have a body of flesh and blood in both worlds. So it is with all errors. Death is ignorance. Flesh and blood are admitted. And unless you are made to destroy it by your own belief, you cannot get rid of it. The world has made an end of life, but Jesus was the end of their life. So their life, to him, was death; and his death was the destruction of their belief; and their life was in their belief. So I believe in flesh and blood, but not in death; for I have passed from that belief into a life that is eternal. I have flesh and blood, as you all see, and I shall never be without it. You, from your belief, may destroy my life to yourself, but to me, it is the same today and forever. Here you have the belief of one who has seen the idea of death swallowed up in science. Therefore, to me, the change is not a thing of belief, but a truth.
You may ask me if I do not believe in what is called “death.”
I answer, “Yes. If I did not, I should not try to destroy it in others.”
But it is a belief to those who are under it, and as our lives are a part of each other, to know that my friends are separated from me on account of their belief makes me more earnest that they shall believe the truth. If your father or mother were carried out of your sight, and you thought they were dead, if they knew it, would they not weep for your unbelief? They know they are alive with flesh and blood, but your belief makes a wall so dense that you cannot penetrate your own belief.
— October, 1861.
P. P. Quimby
(from The Quimby Manuscripts)
What is death? Man from ignorance has associated truth with error till error has got to be as true as life itself. Life cannot be seen except as it is made manifest in some idea. This idea is called matter, and it has become so identified with life that life cannot exist without it. This is the way man reasons: To destroy life is to destroy the idea that contains it. Therefore when we see our idea without life we say our life is dead. This would be true if death were life. But this is not so, according to the words of Jesus. He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He came to destroy death, and him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Now if the devil has the power of death, death cannot mean what the people think it does. If death means what we are taught to believe it does, then Jesus knew not what He said. It either means an idea can be changed or it means the destruction of life, and in the latter case what Jesus said amounts to nothing.
I am certain that I know what Jesus meant to convey to the people, for I have seen death myself and the eternal life He spoke of, and can testify that I have passed from death unto life, as He taught the disciples. And knowing this life that is in Christ I teach it to you, not by opinions but by words of wisdom that will destroy death and put you in possession of that true life that will make death only an idea, like all other ideas man must be rid of to be happy.
At the time Jesus taught this eternal world the world was in darkness in regard to one thing, that was life independent of a belief. But as the lamp of Science was lit up it dispelled the shadow of opinions and embraced life. Matter is with Science nothing but a shadow. As its belief is changed death is destroyed and life takes its place. . . .
We have all been made to believe that we were flesh and blood. . .. I believed as all the world did that this body would die, and that I might be raised and reunited with my friends in another world, either happy or miserable. Now, all this is under the law, but by the law no flesh can be saved. In the darkness of this error the light sprang up and I rose from the dead or unbelief to the light of Science, and am now out of my old belief.
I will illustrate. You were once ignorant of mathematics. If someone had given you a mathematical book it would have been darkness to you. But the principle or spiritual wisdom was in the book. As you began to understand you would have life, and the life would be in your understanding. You would still have a body of flesh and blood in your belief. Losing your ignorance, you would rise from the dead into the scientific world, where those in the law or ignorance would not see you; for the dead know nothing of mathematics.
Instead of being in the book, therefore, you are out of it, and to prove this you say to those who are struggling with the world that you will show yourself by your resurrection. So you do a mathematical problem without the book, and then show people that they are to be judged by their own books, and if they are not found in the book of Science they are dead in their own sins or ignorance. You have a body of flesh and blood in both worlds.
So it is with all other error. Death is ignorance, and unless you are made to destroy it by your own belief [effort] you cannot get rid of it. The world has made an end of life, but Jesus was the end of the world's life; so the world's life to Him was death and His life was the destruction of their belief. So I believe in flesh and blood but not in death, for I have passed from that belief into a life that is eternal. I have flesh and blood, as you all see; I shall never be without it [never without a body]. But you from belief may destroy my life to yourself, while to me it is the same today and forever. Here you have the belief of one who has seen the idea death swallowed up in Science, therefore to me the change is not a thing of belief but a truth.
You may ask me if I do not believe in what is called death. I answer, yes, if I did not I should not try to destroy it in others. To know that my friends are separated from me on account of their unbelief makes me more earnest that they should believe the truth. If your father or mother were carried out of your sight and you thought they were dead, if they knew it would they not weep for your unbelief? They know they are alive with flesh and blood. But your belief makes a wall so dense that you cannot penetrate your own belief.
I will now say a few words in regard to the state called death. As this error is so well established that it is folly to deny it, I must explain my grounds for denying what everyone believes. Let us see what man loses by the change called death. If you make a man admit that his happiness is in this state of error or opinions, then to get out of it would be death. But convince every person that he might sit down and fall into a state in which he might go where he pleased, and enjoy the society of those he did in his waking state, and be responsible for his acts the same as though awake, and if his ability and genius and good character earn for him the sympathy of some friend that would like to have him accompany him to a foreign country, and he should go and enjoy all the privileges of a guest, then wake up, don't you suppose he would like to take another trip?
Now destroy all ideas of death and that would destroy disease. Then man would labor for wisdom, and when he grew rich he would say to himself, "I am rich enough, so I will now lie down and rest and enjoy my friends, and listen to the world's talk." So he gives up his cares and lies down, and rides around and enjoys himself. One is a figure of the other; but one is real, and the other is a shadow. The man who is rich in this world's goods to the exclusion of some scientific capital cannot travel in the world of Science with his money. To have money and no wisdom is to be like the rich man in the Bible spoken of by Jesus. He had been at work and got rich, and his crops were so large that he said to himself: "I will tear down my old house and barn, and build me a more expensive establishment; or I will dress up and go into more educated society, among the literary world and enjoy myself." But Science says to him, "This night shalt thou be satisfied that all thy riches will not make thee a man of Science." So you must lose all that foolish pride that impels the rules of the world, for where Science comes riches take to themselves wings and fly away into the wilderness of darkness. When these two characters lie down together, they are received into society according to their worth or talent. For money is not wisdom. So the rich man of this world may be the beggar of the scientific, while this beggar or man of small means with scientific riches will be as far removed from his neighbor as Dives from Lazarus. One must die to become the other. See the man that is made of money and knows nothing but his money when he is past making it. He is feverish and all he thinks of is his money. This is his happiness and someone is all the time getting it away; so he is in trouble, while the man of science is investigating all the improvements of the age and becoming acquainted with scientific secrets. Now they both lie down to enjoy their riches. The miser is all the time nervous and frightened about his money, while the scientific man is travelling on the interest of his capital; and if an expedition is fitted out for some great discovery, where his science is wanted, he receives an invitation and goes and enjoys himself; while the miser is prowling around to buy some secondhand lock to put on his door to keep out robbers. These two characters may go on for hundreds of years, for time is nothing in eternity. So we see every day figures of change. How many persons are there in this city who get up in the morning and pass the day without gaining enough wisdom to last them till nine o'clock? But you will see them up in the morning before day looking around to find some hole to creep into to get a drop of water or a substance to moisten their tongue, for they are tormented by an appetite for this world's goods. So their life is one continual state of excitement, always opposing everything that enlightens men's minds and elevates character. Such a man is dead to the world of Science, whether he is on top of the ground or underneath, while the man of Science is alive whether on the earth or in it. They both lie down in their own sepulcher. If one is made of opinions, he must take it. If the other is science, he will be in it. So while one is progressing, the other is looking on. They are both rewarded for their acts.
What is the true definition of death? Death is the name of an idea; an idea is matter, so that the destruction of an idea is death. Every opinion has its center, and its center is the idea. Now if a person believes in anything that is founded on an opinion the idea is in the opinion, and the senses being also in the opinion are attached to the idea. This imprisons the senses in the opinion. Now the idea is of itself nothing but an opinion condensed into a solid and called matter and every word goes to make the idea. So to make an idea men reason about something they have no proof of only as an opinion. So they build their building and in the center is the idea, and if they succeed in establishing their opinion they imprison their opponent and the misery is what flows from the idea.
I will illustrate. Take the word "consumption." This word is of itself nothing to the person who never heard of it. To make it is to create the opinion or building and then reduce it to an idea. So matter in the form of words is so arranged as to make the idea in the opinion. While the opinion is forming in the mind a chemical change is going on, and the matter is held in solution till it is condensed into a form according to the pattern given by the direction of mind, and after the opinion is fairly established in the mind and the person in the idea which is in the center, the senses are attached to the idea and become part of it. Now to separate the senses from the idea is death to the idea, but life to the senses. This separation called death is only death to the one idea.
Man is always dying and living in progression, for error or opinion must always be in the mind and mind must always exist till time is no more. Man is made of science and ignorance, or life and death. Man, seen by the senses is the center of our belief, and the senses are attached to the idea called man, so the idea "man" varies as much as one star differs from another. . . .
The animal is content to be just as he is, and seeks no wisdom above his kind; he lives the animal and when his identity is destroyed he is forgotten by his race, but this is only my opinion. But the animal that is dead to the living is as much alive in the higher state of matter or mind as the man who loses his idea. Each retains his own identity, but man is progressive and the beast is the same forever. The beast has but one rotation of life and death, but man lives all his life subject to death. So although he destroys one idea called death, he is liable to die again and again to the end of time unless his wisdom destroys death by the Science of Life. The last enemy is death, so the scientific man or idea shall reign till all error is destroyed. All identities called man are not the same. There is the well identity of man, the lame, the sick, the deaf, the dumb, and so on. All men are liable to have a combination of all these identities. For instance, a well man or child is an identity. Now it changes to a sick identity, so the well identity is destroyed, and the child's senses are attached to the identity of a disease. The Science of Life is to know how to keep man from getting into death or error. This is my theory; to put man in possession of a Science that will destroy the ideas of the sick and teach man one living progression [development] of his own identity, with life free from error and disease. Now as man passes through these combinations, they differ one from another. So it will be in the resurrection (of the dead), to life, freed from false ideas and in truth. Suppose a man could be so wise as to know every sensation that affects his senses. He could never change, so he would be always the same. Now take another who believes in all the opinions of man, and he is dying and living all the time, dying to error and living to truth, till he dies the death of all his opinions or beliefs. Therefore to be free from death is to be alive in Truth, for sin or error is death and Science is eternal life, and this life is in Christ.
I said that every opinion had a center, and this center was an idea. I will try to make this more plain, for it is the center or foundation on which all error rests. Destroy this and disease is out of the mind, for this central idea is the fortress error erects to keep the subject in submission. As wisdom is its enemy, it keeps up a constant cannonading to frighten wisdom into subjection. This idea is built by public opinion, got up by demagogues or doctors and priests, its father or founder was a liar, its foundation is ignorance and superstition; its reign is tyranny and slavery to wisdom, its victims are ignorance. This kingdom of darkness is the error of man, every man's mind is subject to this prince of darkness, its power is in its popularity; its laws are arbitrary and binding on all; it knows no mercy; its chief end is the destruction of man's happiness. For that purpose it holds out large rewards, as it did to Jesus, to those who will enter its service. Its honesty is hypocrisy, and in fact its whole aim is slavery and power. What classes does it embrace? It embraces every opinion of man. Ignorance is the foundation, destruction to freedom or Science is its chief end, so its leaders invent all sorts of falsehoods and bind them on the people, or matter, which is liable to be changed or molded into their belief. Every inducement is held out to persuade the senses to become interested in their idea or opinion. Now an opinion is like a city or town that has its center or laws. So as man's senses are traveling, like the man going down to Jericho, who fell among thieves, he listens to these false leaders and hears of some idea like a place. It is described to him by some doctor or priest in an earnest manner; this excites the mind, curiosity is aroused, the senses leave their home or father's house like the prodigal son, and wander away into this place or state; here he is accused of being a stranger and is cast into the belief. The belief is a prison, the idea is the laws, and if he chances to hear of diphtheria, he believes it is as much a place as Boston; so if he chances to go near the place and happens to feel a soreness in the throat, he is accused, and if he acknowledges that he has it, his acknowledgment becomes a belief, this places him in the prison and the sentence being passed, punishment commences. The prison or belief embraces all persons who have transgressed the laws of diphtheria. So every opinion is a prison or place, to hold the person that believes it, and man's senses may have as many indictments against him as he has opinions. So Science or Christ enters the cities or towns, and pleads the case of the senses that are imprisoned, and if he gets the case, the prisoner is set at liberty, or the senses detached from the idea, and the error in the mind explained. Then the prisoner or senses rises from the place of torment into the kingdom of health. Its boundaries are opinions, its subjects are superstitions, and its laws are for the destruction of science. To destroy this kingdom is to introduce Science, is that the warfare is endless, for neither party will yield, no compromise is entered into by Science, but as the kingdom is divided against itself it cannot stand. Now as these two parties are in one man, it may be necessary to define their tactics and show how the senses may keep clear of both. One party assumes an idea and uses all their cunning to make it admitted by the senses, so when that is established, then commences the argument. The opposite side being more ignorant, but more honest, admits the idea but tries to destroy it. Here is an illustration; the children of the kingdom assert that sin is of divine origin, so the opposite acknowledge it and then try to reason it out of existence. They say that Adam's sin was the cause of all sin. Admitting it, then they try to show how inconsistent it is. They say sin is death; when admitted it becomes a law, so they go on assuming anything, and the other side admit, then argue about it, so that the kingdom of Science is not known in all their reason. Science has battled down the walls of error and established liberty or truth in much of their kingdom. It has hewn down the trees of superstition and established the science of mathematics. It has struck at the Science of Health, this is an unbroken wilderness never entered by man. Ever since the days of Moses there have been adventurers, but none has as yet planted the standard of life with such an inscription, "the Science of Life is in the wilderness." Jesus tried to do it but was crucified, Paul and all of his disciples also tried, but no one has ever yet been able to penetrate this dark wilderness and raise the standard and sustain it. . . .
As I explained but one side of the question I will now give the other which is life. I showed that death is opposed to life. I did not use that term, but you will see that is what I mean. Now death is life to the natural man as much as error is. Truth and error have their kingdom, and our senses are in one or the other according to our acts. I gave an explanation of the natural man or error which is matter and showed that all our misery is in our ignorance of the other kingdom called life or Science. This Kingdom is that spoken of in the Scriptures, which was hewn out and came down to earth or the natural man, and became embedded in the hearts of the people. This was the stone or Science that the builders of error rejected which has been the head or foundation of the new Science of Life, and on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. This child was the one without father or mother. It had no beginning of days nor ending of years, but it is from everlasting to everlasting. It was the rock that followed Moses in the wilderness of superstition. It is progress, it knows no evil. It is a consuming fire, that will rage till it burns up every selfish idea. It is never found boasting of its wisdom; it is not puffed up, it sits and sees itself swell in the hearts of the people, but they see it not. Their minds are now seeing the light that is going before them; they are afraid, so that even the kingdom of darkness is in rebellion against itself. The leaders begin to tremble, for they see that the angel of Science has sounded his trumpet, the earth or matter is moved out of its place, the stars or parties are falling, and the powers of the kingdom are shaken.
The spears of superstition have been beaten into ploughshares, Science has ploughed up all the stubble and burnt up the rubbish, the fields of life are bringing forth flowers of happiness, the streams of blood have turned into living waters. The birds of wisdom are sounding their notes of peace, and all the people rejoice. The old beliefs are passed away, and a new belief or heaven is established in the hearts of men where all beliefs shall be tested by Science and the wicked or error shall be destroyed. Wisdom aims at opinions, its march is progress. It knows no fear, its qualities are love. It neither turns to the right nor to the left. It is death to error, when error undertakes to retard its progress, it seeks not its own kingdom or happiness but works on earth or in man for his happiness. Its aim is to establish wisdom in man, and as it is a Science, its identity is eternal life or progress. For this cause it leaves father and mother or error and ignorance, goes into the kingdom of darkness, and seeks out the sick ideas which are prisons, wherein are the children of Science who have been deceived by blind guides. It enters the prison or belief, unknown to the keeper; for wisdom cannot be seen by error, and error or matter is no obstacle to wisdom. It pleads in the prison with the captive, reasons and teaches the Science of Happiness, and protects the prisoner from its enemies in the wilderness of darkness.
P. P. Quimby