I will try to give an illustration of my First Cause. Wisdom is outside of everything. Opinion is in wisdom, for wisdom fills all space. Therefore, it being all-wise, everything comes within itself. Opinion, being in belief, cannot be wisdom, for it is liable to change. Now man is in one or the other of these two elements, wisdom or opinion.
Principles are wisdom reduced to science (or practice). Laws are not principles, but are based on opinions that can change, and they belong to man's reasoning. Principles do not reason at all but are like rays of light. All the principles of wisdom that are understood are like the points of a compass, and these we call “cardinal principles.”
Now man divides the globe into four quarters, and the filling up of the points of a compass is to fill up the space; so that man knows more than the four points. So with wisdom. The principles are so many that it is impossible to understand, only as we grow wise.
Now man has an identity, but the precise locality of it, he does not know. So as he believes in his identity, he forgets that he cannot see himself, only as he develops himself, in his own belief. So principles, having no matter, he is lost when out of matter, for he has no idea of an existence in principle; yet he is in wisdom all the time, and his size is just in proportion to the progress he makes in putting his wisdom into practice.
The man, therefore, that believes in matter as being the First Cause is always changing and is not aware of the change, like the man who thinks everybody is changing, and he is the only one that stands still, when everything changes that goes to make up his identity, but the man. This man you will find in politics. He is in the name “democrat”, a fixed principle, as he thinks; when it is the name of that kind of mortar that is always used to fill up the breaches in progression. Yet it is mortar, though it is sometimes in bricks and sometimes in the gutter and is used for everything. Yet it is democracy (or mortar).
So man's wisdom is the democracy. His senses are attached to the name, and although the matter (or mind) is always changing, he is not changed, for the change is not a part of him. He is nothing but the name. He is like a man who lives in a city, who is always ready to tell you where he lives; but of the growth of the wisdom, he is as ignorant as the mortar that is used to build the building. So he never changes from the name. He knows no other change than what he sees, and as he sees the city grow, he never asks the cause.
But when asked how long he has been a resident of Portland he says, “I was born here, and so was my father.” So his identity is in the name “Portland”, but the wisdom is, to them, a stranger. So when he sees a man that has come to Portland that is posted up with the wisdom of progression, and he finds such a person rising, he looks around and says, “I have always been a resident of Portland, and this man comes among us from abroad. What does he know? He is some renegade from some city (or party). I am a long-lived democrat (or citizen of Portland).
Now the difference is this, one lives in his ignorance and the other in progression. It is the same with truth and error. One works out of opinion (or matter) into science; while the other, like the silk worm, covers himself with the cloak of error till there is no light in him. Now how can we show a man who believes he is in the light that he is in the dark? And yet it is plain that he is in the light, to him, and to every other person who believes as he does.
Now when we admit that everything that can be changed cannot be a principle, then we will see what man is made of. For everything that we see changes, his hair, his skin, his weight, and in fact, everything that goes to make up the man. So if everything changes, what does not change? Principles. Now the man that is in the change thinks he is the same man, although his mind (or matter) is continually going through a change.
Now what kind of a person is this that does not change? The man that knows he exists outside of all these changes and sees the change as a man looks at the skies and sees the clouds pass along and knows that they are nothing but wind. So the change, to this man, is in the clouds; while the other is in the clouds and sees the other looking at him; seeing him blown about by every wind of doctrine. He says to the one that stands still, “What makes you fly around so,” when he, himself, is the one that is carried about and thinks he never changes; like a drunken man who thinks everyone he meets is staggering, while he, himself, is the one that staggers.
Now as the man of opinions is like the cloud, he is not aware of the darkness of himself; so that as he becomes more “rarefied,” he is not aware of the change but thinks the change is in others. This is the state of the sick. They are in their belief. This, to them, is as real as the cloud; but they, being ignorant that it is a belief, make to themselves an image corresponding to their belief and think they are outside of their belief and that the image is a real thing.
I will illustrate. Suppose a person comes to me to be examined. The person shows on his face the marks of and appearance of humor. Now of course this is a fact, and there is no belief about it. Here is the fact before your eyes. So to everyone it is a truth, and their wisdom does not admit it as a belief, but as a thing they can see. Now to show or pretend to convey to them that it is a belief, and it is in their mind, is to the world absurd. Now as absurd as this may seem, this is what I have to do to cure the person. I have to show them that all the foregoing is in the mind.
So now if you can see in your mind such a person sitting by me and that I am trying to change her mind to destroy the “humor,” as it is called, if you will listen to what I say, you will have some slight idea of how I cure a mind diseased. I begin with the person after this manner.
(Dr.) You think you have a humor about you?
(Patient) I know I have.
(Dr.) Well, I don't dispute that you have an eruption on your face, but it is in your mind.
(P) Do you think I imagine that I have a humor, that there is no such thing, and that it is all in my imagination?
(Dr.) No, I admit the phenomenon, but I say it is in your mind.
(P) I have no mind about it. I know it, if I know anything.
(Dr.) What is the cause?
(P) I don't know, only the doctors say my blood is full of humor of a cancerous nature and also that I have scrofula.
(Dr.) When did you get it?
(P) I suppose I inherited it from my mother.
(Dr.) Do you know certainly?
(P) No, only I have been told so.
(Dr.) Then this is a belief?
(Dr.) I thought you said you had no belief, you knew it.
(P) I do know that my face is all covered with humor, and I should be glad to get rid of it.
(Dr.) Yet you say it is not a belief. Did you not say you inherited it from your mother? Now which is true, the humor or the belief?
(P) I know I have got the humor, but the belief I don't care anything about. I can't see that my belief has anything to do with my humor.
(Dr.) Can there be an effect without a cause?
(P) Why, yes, I suppose my blood is out of order, for I know I am bilious.
(Dr.) What is that? Do these things come without a cause?
(P) No, but I don't know any cause for my humor.
(Dr.) Then you say you have no idea of the true cause?
(P) No, only I suppose my blood is not in a very good state.
(Dr.) What got it out of order?
(P) I can't tell, but heat, I suppose, working over the stove, cooking.
(Dr.) Now are you aware that you have proved that all your trouble is in your mind?
P. P. Quimby