Light
Substance And Shadow

 

April 1862

 

by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

 

Does man see himself or any other person or any true substance, or is it the shadow of the substance that he sees? My own observation has satisfied me that what I see is nothing but a shadow of some intelligence which is behind the shadow, as a man looking in a glass sees himself, but the substance is not seen by the reflection although you would think life was in the shadow. Everything is reversed by man's ignorance of himself. This reversed shadow is taken for the substance and it has its identity and its life is dependent on the substance and its acts depend on the wisdom that governs it. The substance is the wisdom or identity that contains the life or God. Man is not seen at all but his senses and feelings are shadowed forth in the world of darkness and life is attached to them.

To make myself better understood, I will illustrate by shadows, which all admit have some invisible substance. Present an apple to a person who has lost the sense of smell but who can see and hear; of course he attaches his sense of sight to the apple but to him the odor is nothing. Then give an apple to a man who has lost his sight but has the sense of smell, and observe how these two reason, one reasoning from the sense of smell and the other from the sense of sight. Here you have the two worlds. The man of sight is the shadow and knows not himself; the man of sympathy who can detect odors is the man, for sympathy is true light or sight and would lead the stranger where his eyes would deceive him. Sympathy is the substance of sight, so everything seen by the eye of the shadow is the reflection of the substance which is in the dark. Man (like the apple or rose) has two identities: one the man of sight and the other the man of sympathy. A, by sight, sees the shadow of his friend. B, by sympathy, sees and feels his friend. A has no idea of his friend out of independent of sight. B is never absent from him and participates in all his joys and sorrows. A is looking for some change that will restore his lost friend. B is at a loss to know why A should grieve. Here is where the two stand. A is the religious man and expects to see his friend in another world. B is the skeptic of A's belief, for his sympathy is in his wisdom and what is wisdom is known to him, so his friend is always with him. The same is true of Jesus Christ. The religious man worships the shadow of the substance, but I worship what I can sympathize with. The Christian is looking for reappearance of the shadow, so he partakes of the sacrament as a token of his belief that the shadow or substance will come.

I commune with the substance whenever I sit down by the sick who have been deluded with this horrid belief. They have spiritual eyes or sympathy but cannot see, so they rely on their eyes or shadows and being blind they wander about like sheep without a shepherd, and having been deceived themselves, they try to deceive others. Jude speaks of these persons when he exhorts those who have received this truth not to be deceived by these blind guides who have eyes and no sympathy, ears and no wisdom, hearts and no understanding; also to be earnest in contending for this truth that will lead man to health and happiness. He says, "There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord. . . . These speak evil of those things which they know not. But what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. . . . These are spots in your feasts of charity. . . . They are clouds without water carried about by winds; trees, whose fruit withereth without fruit . . . raging waves of the sea foaming out their own shame; wandering stars without any light."

Jude was trying to instruct man to attach his wisdom to the sense of sympathy or odor of things instead of the shadow. Every idea is a shadow of a substance, the substance is what the shadow contains and this substance is merely a shadow of some other substance. Trace them back till you find the cause and it will always be found in some sensation where there is neither sight nor sympathy but simply a sensation or disturbance.

When man begins to reason, he either attaches his life and senses to the shadow or to the substance or odor or sympathy. I will state a case. When in the dark, A comes in contact with a rose and having the sense of smell, he enjoys the odor; but B, the Christian, does not until the light comes, and then he sees the shadow. Light makes shadows; the rose was in the dark but the man of sight saw it not. Every idea has its odor and the man of sympathy who has made it his study to reduce the odor to sight or language is a man of science; it is like music reduced to a science. The note A contains no music or sympathy to him who is ignorant of the science of music; nevertheless, every sound is associated with language so that when a sound is made, it is put in the form of a note. And these forms are put together and a body appears visible to the eye to the man of sight. But the music or harmony is out of sight; therefore the man of sympathy can enjoy the music where the other cannot feel it. So with the shadow called man. Thoughts like notes in music are combined into an idea and these contain the substance of the author; the substance is the food for the mind and the ideas are combined into one great idea called man.

So man is the embodiment of his opinions and wisdom, and he shadows forth the fruits of his wisdom like the tree, and the tree is known by its fruits. The judges are the two characters before mentioned. One decides by the looks, the other by the odor, so the standard of judgment depends on the intelligence of the society in which we live. Men judge by the looks. I judge by the odor and in this I differ from all others. I have attached my senses to the odor and have reduced it to language, like sound. If I smell a rose, I know that it is one, from the fact that I have seen the shadow or the substance. So it is with all odors that I have reduced to language, and so it is with disease. Disease is like the apple. If you plant an apple seed, you will not expect the tree to bear pears, but you may engraft a pear. Likewise, if you plant consumption in the mind, it will come up consumption. But as the owner's wisdom is not known in the higher medium of sensation of odors or sympathy, the tree must grow till it begins to bear fruit, till it throws off an odor that can be perceived by the man of true sympathy long before it reaches the horizon of the man of sight. The man of sympathy sees disease long before it makes its appearance. Like the peak of Teneriffe, it beholds the rising sun long before it reaches the horizon of the common mind. The odor of disease is as easily seen and known of itself as a blade of grass is known from an apple pip. The man who never saw an apple pip would never think of an apple, but as soon as the man of sympathy sees the pip, he sees the apple, although he might not detect its quality. Science is to cultivate his wisdom so that he may become familiar with every condition of the phenomenon from the first impression to the bearing of fruit, for then it may not be too late to correct its growth. Every disease throws off this odor, and the life and senses are in it, and the body and countenance of the individual is the shadow of his feelings so that "as a man sows so shall he reap." If he sows to the flesh or what he sees as brutes, he shall reap the reward; but if he sows to wisdom or science, he shall reap everlasting life, for his life is in his wisdom.

Ideas are like fruit. If the eye is the judge, then man deceives himself, for sometimes the most beautiful fruit contains the most poison, and some ideas seem so beautiful and desirable that we eat of them. At first they appear pleasant, but soon we find that we have eaten the poison of some idea in the shape of cancer that will gnaw our very life from us. The man of sympathy could detect this loathsome disease or idea by its odor and destroy it in embryo before it takes form and comes forth in the body. Here you see the two characters: one, ignorant of his situation, is living without God or truth in death and disease ready to be destroyed at any time, while the man of sympathy perceives by the sense of smell the stench of this loathsome disease long before it comes to the man of sight or opinions. My theory is to put man in possession of a wisdom by which he can detect these false fruits from the real, lest he should eat of the tree of disease and die. The tree of life will open his eyes and he will see his nakedness and then he will see that all his knowledge is cut off.

P. P. Quimby

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