On The Senses Being Outside The Body


December 1862


by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


What proof is there that man's wisdom and senses are not in the body, but outside of it and in the mind? I will relate a fact which will prove it. I once put a lady to sleep, that she might have a needle extracted from her arm, and during the operation she said to me, "Does it not hurt you?"

The person who spoke was the one who was looking on; for she could describe all that was transpiring. If it should be said that it was myself who spoke through her, I will admit that she expressed my very thoughts, but if I could speak through her body, why could she not speak through mine? If so, the body of each was only the shadow of our belief, and I, thinking it might hurt her, and she, from sympathy, thought it hurt me. We were therefore, neither of us hurt, from the fact of sympathy. Let her believe that it was her arm that was to be cut, and she would make the same ado, as though she was awake.

This fact holds good in my practice. A patient feels a suffocating feeling and thinks he has the heart disease. If this feeling did not come within his senses, he would not know it. If I am some feet from him and feel it, how can I feel it, unless it is outside of the body? If the heat from a coal fire keeps within the stove, no person can feel it.

Let heat represent intelligence. Then the intelligence is in the heat and not in the stove; for where there is no association, there is no knowledge. If the heat is not explained to a person, there is no intelligence. That part of the heat that is in the stove is like the ore; latent, hid in the ground, but that which makes itself known is the mind, so-called (or intelligence).

So with man. If his wisdom is in his matter, he is like the heat in the stove; ignorant that he has any wisdom outside of himself. Convince him that his wisdom is not in the body; then he learns a fact that will teach him that if he puts his life in what he admits had no beginning or end, then the idea of death is annihilated.

To return to the locality of man's senses. The medium between my body and that of the lady who was undergoing the operation is mind. Our senses are there, and also all our troubles. There is no matter separate from space. The matter which is seen is the condensation of the matter not seen; which unseen matter is mind, and in that are all our beliefs, opinions, emotions, etc. When the mind is disturbed by some opinion or unknown fear, it must take a form before it can affect the body; for the body is merely the shadow, which is reflected through the mind. So when the mind is disturbed, the disturbance is shown on the body.

This may seem a mystery to the most of men, for we take it for granted that every pain or sensation is in us and belongs to us. This is not the case. When my subject's ear would burn, he thought it was mine, showing that the sensation was in his mind. His wisdom, being in his belief, was continually in trouble, which trouble his wisdom located in his mind; and my mind, being a substance in common, we would be affected bodily, alike; the same as two vessels on the water. When the water is troubled, both are disturbed.

The mind is like the water; our bodies, the vessels; and our wisdom, the pilot. Our bodies are affected by the sensation, as the vessels by the storm. The wisdom is outside the mind and body, as the owner is outside of the water and the vessel. The foundation of the latter is on the land; and that of wisdom is on a solid (or truth), which the waves of opinion cannot break. Still, his body, like his vessel, is at the mercy of the gales of prejudice and ignorance, and he is troubled, as a man when his property is at stake.

The loss of the vessel (or body) is a loss, but the pilot and crew are saved or lost, according to our belief. If we believe they went to the bottom with the vessel, to us they did, but to themselves, it may be different; and each is affected according to his belief.

To make my meaning plainer, I will compare the mind to the sea; the body to the vessel, and this is the natural man. All men are in mind, as vessels on the sea, tossed to and fro by the gales of the wind of error and those of heaven. The opinions of the world represent the Captain (or pilot). The wisdom of God is the foundation of all intelligence, and every living being is in this wisdom called God; so the latter stands to each man as the owner of a vessel stands to the master. His property is in his vessel, but his life is not; while the Captain knows no life outside the vessel; neither does the natural man know any life outside his body.

When the gale of disease comes up, the two stand in this way. The Captain (or natural man), by his belief, makes himself a part of the vessel (or body), but the merchant, God's wisdom, makes his vessel (or body) a part of his riches, but no part of his wisdom. One grieves for the loss of property; the other for the loss of life and property.

Now make every person rich in wisdom, and opinions are but property which, like the birds, may take to themselves wings and fly away. Isaiah says, "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest; whose waters cast up mire and dirt." The Christ (or truth) can walk on the water of opinions and know that it is no part of itself.

I will try to show wherein I know more than my patients. To do this, I shall have to state what my patient knows and tell how it happened that I have discovered more than he knows. Whatever my patient knows and feels, he embraces as a part of himself. To him, his body and mind are one. The latter, he calls his wisdom, intelligence, soul, and all that he is capable of expressing. His aches, pains and diseases are also himself; all are affected together and all liable to be destroyed.

This makes the natural man. This is his wisdom, and he is sure of it. To him, it is self-evident. Besides this, he has a belief outside, which is founded on the Bible, that there is something in him which he never saw and which never will be seen; and that this something leaves earth and goes to heaven. This he calls his “soul.” The proof of this belief is so feeble and meager, that he is kept in trouble all the time; for his belief makes him responsible for his soul, since if he does not live just so, he may lose that which, notwithstanding his efforts to save, he would never have known he possessed, had not Jesus brought the knowledge to man 1,800 years ago.

This soul does not come within the natural senses; therefore it is something that man will have after death, if he does not lose it; for there are more chances to lose than to save what he never knew he had. Here is drawn a Christian. The Atheist has no such belief attached to his knowledge. He lives, and when he dies, he runs the risk and waits to know the result. The scientific man has not troubled himself about the matter.

Then has any class of persons tried to solve this problem, on scientific principles? I know of no one on earth at this time, but myself. I stand alone, solving a problem which heathen philosophers and poets, in trying to solve, have been lost in the floods (or error) and swept into the gulf of atheism. True minds have penetrated this land (or wisdom) beyond the natural man, and have returned with some proofs of a land outside this ocean of error, but their proofs, not being sufficiently certain, experiments have failed, and the people are left to wait for more positive knowledge.

They are still looking for someone to penetrate the polar region and learn if they can pass through the icy error of death and land beyond, in wisdom. Occasionally a breeze (or dove) from this land comes to cheer the mariner on his voyage of discovery; but more often, the icy hand of the error of death chills the very blood, and the barque is frozen in the ice (or doubt), and the mariner makes for the nearest land; that he may return home disappointed and die in doubt if there be a passage to the world of science.

I fitted out my barque some twenty years ago and started without chart or compass, trusting to the wisdom of my own experience, determined to be guided by the inhabitants of the land where I journeyed and to make my way to the passage that led to the other world or to a new world on this globe. My first intelligence came from a new source. I found a class of persons with no weight in society, a kind of cast off, degraded set, who lived on the superstition of heathen idolatry and still held to it.

They believed in all kinds of diseases, witchcraft, every variety of misery; and were full of inherited superstition concerning this other world. On conversing with them, I found that all mankind had the same belief, but as it had become unpopular, many concealed the fact that they had any confidence in it. Nevertheless, by their acts they shew themselves of this belief. By getting into the good graces of this class, I was passed along from one to another, sometimes nearly exhausted and on the point of returning, when a light would spring up, or a solitary bird would sing its beautiful notes from the clear sky; while from this light came a mild breath of pure air that would revive my very soul.

In this warmth, it seemed as though I heard a voice say, "Come up hither." Thus urged, I progressed till I saw, as it were, a sea, like a sea of glass, dotted like the ocean with ships. As I approached, I found that these spots were persons, and the vapor around them was their garments. As I came up, I was hailed by my old friends with, “How came you here?” This was, to me, a mystery, for I thought I had been traveling all over the face of the earth; and when I saw my friends, whom I thought dead, alive, I was struck dumb and wanted an explanation of the phenomenon.

Here it is, as it came to me. The earth is round, according to our belief, and man is ambitious to explain the outside and also, the inside of it. So exploring parties are fitted out to discover hidden truths and sciences associated with the earth. But there is a different class of minds who believe there is another world, called the “spiritual” or “scientific” world, which is as much a world as the natural world, and which contains the latter.

So the people are all inside the spiritual world together, some disposed to investigate the surface of the interior world (or earth); while others, like Simms, search into the center (or bowels) of the earth. There is still another class who believe that, as the interior world contains strata, so the scientific world contains strata of scientific wisdom, whence all science springs. One class goes out from matter into science; and the other goes into matter in science, and both are together.

Then this came to light, that all I had been doing was to burn up my error, by progressing in wisdom; and as the light of science sprang up in the mind, I could see men walking on their belief, as I was walking on my science. Then I asked, “How can I make the natural man understand this?” The answer came, “The natural man is not of the world of science; but the child of science is in the world of error, striving to escape; and this is disease.”

Then came an illustration of all I saw. Man, as we see him, is a representation of the earth; his external structure is the attraction to the natural man to explore; the surface of his body is where he looks to see how he is affected by outward sensations. His wisdom sits in the upper chamber, called his brain; and in the majesty of his knowledge, he gives his opinion, and all lesser lights bow their heads in subjection to his will.

His wisdom, being finite, affects his acts; and the consequence is sometimes a convulsion of the earth (or opinions); the power of his life (or knowledge) is shaken, and his kingdom comes down (or departs), like Nebuchadnezzar's, while another takes its place. This kingdom, being all over the world, it rules its subjects; so when the son of science encounters it, a decree goes forth to put everyone to death. Therefore it is necessary that a secret society should spring up, in order to undermine it; whose passwords cannot be understood by the king of this world.

Science is light, and the wisdom of this world is in darkness; hence it does not see the light. Therefore wisdom governs the natural man, although to him it is unknown. It suggests to the natural man, but he, being vain and dishonest, assumes to be the author of his own wisdom. As error is its own destruction, in order that science may reign, it makes war with itself by a power which it only recognizes as a mystery; and in its destruction, calls on this unknown power for help.

To show how the two powers, opinion and truth, come in contact, I will assume that I am this truth, and my patient is the error which holds his life and happiness in bondage. Like all demagogues, error pretends to be kind to the poor, especially when its life depends on holding wisdom in slavery; and in this relation of master and slave, error pretends to be the friend of science and is willing to do what science desires should be done.

So the error in the sick brings the patient to me. The science, which is confined in bondage, knows the language of wisdom and secretly tells me its misery; but the natural man (or error) knows it not. When I tell the error how the sick feel, to him it is a mystery; for error is matter and has no feeling, while sympathy is the language of the sick. As I sit by the sick, I feel their pains, which is the grief of their wisdom. This is outside of their opinions (or body), and my wisdom, being outside of my opinions, I, in my wisdom, see their belief; but their errors do not see me. Therefore to them, I am a mystery.

Suppose a patient sits by me who has the idea of “heart disease.” If he believes it, to him it is a reality, if he attaches it to himself; but to believe in the disease is one thing, and to believe he has it is another. If he believes he has it, his belief contains the substance (or identity) of a man with heart disease. From this substance goes an atmosphere, like that of any decaying substance. Around the idea is this atmosphere, and in it a person with the heart disease. His body is, to his mind, a sort of mirror which reflects the shadow of the idea. By the doctors, this is called “disease.”

I see the original idea, and also see the shadow; and to cure the disease, I destroy the matter by explaining the error. This breaks in pieces the matter, and the shadow on the body disappears. This is my superior wisdom over the patient, and all the language I need is to make the patient understand the truth.

P. P. Quimby

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