The Senses




by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


Are our senses mind? I answer, no. This was the problem ancient philosophers sought to solve. Most of them believed the soul, senses, and every intellectual faculty of man to be mind, therefore our senses must be mind. The translator of Lucretius says Lucretius attacks the ancient academics who held the mind to be the sole arbiter and judge of things, and establishes the senses to be the arbitrators. For, says he, "whatever can correct and confute what is false, must of necessity be the criterion of truth, and this is done by the senses only." This difference is true in part. Both were right. But they confused mind and senses into one, like the modern philosophers who make wisdom and knowledge, mind and senses, Jesus and Christ, synonymous. Now mind and senses are as distinct as light and darkness, and the same distinction holds good in wisdom and knowledge, Jesus and Christ. Christ, Wisdom and the spiritual senses are synonymous. So likewise are Jesus, knowledge and mind. Our life is in our senses: and if our wisdom is in our mind, we attach our life and senses to matter. But if our wisdom is attached to Science, our life and senses are in God, not in matter; for there is no matter in God or Wisdom; matter is the medium of Wisdom.

This difference has been overlooked by the ancients. And modern philosophers have put mind and soul in matter, thus making a distinction without a difference. Now according to modern philosophy, the soul, mind, life and senses are all liable to die; but according to this truth mind is spiritual matter, and all matter must be dissolved. Wisdom is not [physical] life. Our senses are not life. But all of these are solid and eternal; and to know them is life and life eternal. Life is in the knowledge of this wisdom, and death is in the destruction of your opinions or matter.

I will give some experiments of a man of wisdom acting through and dissolving the man of matter so the man of wisdom can escape. This process is Science. Take for example two persons, or you and myself. One wishes to communicate to the other some fact. You feel a pain, I also feel it. Now the sympathy of our minds mingling is spiritual matter. But there is no wisdom in it, for wisdom is outside of matter. If we both feel the same pain, we each call it our own; for we are devoid of that wisdom which would make us know we were affecting each other. Each one has his own identity and wants sympathy, and the ignorance of each is the vacuum that is between us. So we are drawn together by this invisible action called sympathy. Now make man wise enough to know that he can feel the pains of another, and then you get him outside of matter. The wisdom that knows this has eternal life, for life is in the knowledge of this wisdom. This the world is unacquainted with.

Now Jesus had more of this life or truth than any other person, and to teach it to another is a science. If you know it and can teach it, you are a teacher of the truth. But if you know it and cannot teach it, you are a follower of the truth. Now the knowledge of this truth is life, and the absence of it is death. There are a great many kinds of life. The natural man begins at his birth. Animal life is not vegetable, and vegetable is not animal life. And there is another kind of life that is not understood, and that is the life that follows the knowledge of this great truth. The word "life" cannot be applied to Wisdom, for that has no beginning and life has. The word death is applied to everything that has life. All motion or action produces life, for where there is no motion there is no life. Matter in motion is called life. Life is the action of matter, and to know it is a truth, and to know how to produce it is Wisdom. This Wisdom was possessed by Jesus, for He says: "My sheep hear my voice and I give unto them eternal life." "I (Christ) and my Father are one."

I shall show that Jesus was not life, but life or Christ was in Him, and He taught it. He says: "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it." The people believed their life to be in themselves. But Jesus knew their lives were in God, for if they lost their opinions and found this Truth, then they had lost their life and found it.

I will now take my own practice to explain what life is according to Jesus. I said if two persons were sitting together, and each felt a pain each would call it his own. Now this pain is life, for it contains our senses, and this life is in matter, for the pain is in our mind, and our mind, senses, and life are all the same according to the world's wisdom. I know I can take a person's feelings, and this knowledge to me is truth, and to know it is life, and this knowledge the patient does not possess. He knows he has a pain and this to him is a truth, but this life is in his belief, and so his life is liable to be lost by his losing his mind. My life is in my wisdom and my wisdom is not matter. So that to know this is a truth outside of my patient's belief, and this truth contains my life. To get his senses out of his matter into this truth is to give him eternal life. I want to give him eternal life to save him from the sufferings occasioned by his belief that he may lose his life by disease of the heart. My wisdom acting is in matter but it is no part of it, so what to him is disease is to me spiritual matter that can be changed. His ignorance keeps his senses in fear of death, and all his life subject to bondage through his belief.

I commence by describing his feelings. These he admits; but how I can tell them is to him a mystery. This I know for I see him in his error, yet he cannot see me in his wisdom, for it is in its own prison. It wants me to explain how I can see it, and how I know how it feels. I will suppose you, the reader, to be the patient, and that you acknowledge that I tell your feelings and what you think is your disease. All this I get from you without your knowledge, therefore you do not know how I do it. So I will inform you. Ideas have life. A belief has life or matter, for it can be changed. Now all the aforesaid make up the natural man, and all this can be changed. As I am trying to convince you how I take your feelings I must use such illustrations as you understand, for my life is in my words, and if my words cannot destroy your life or matter, then I cannot give you my life or wisdom.

I will now take a rose for an illustration. You are like a rose. You throw from yourself an atmosphere or vapor. When the rose is dead all outside of it is darkness to the germ of the bud. This is the child. As the rose opens it expands and unfolds itself to the world, the same as a child's brain expands and opens the folds of its understanding. As the rose comes before the world of roses it takes its stand with the rest of its kind. So it is with man. As he unfolds his knowledge, he is classed with others of his kind. As the rose throws off its peculiarities to the air, the world judges of its odor. So as man throws off his peculiar character or life, health or disease, the world is to judge of his happiness or misery by the fruits of his belief.

Take a person with consumption. The idea consumption decomposes and throws off an odor that contains all the ideas of the person affected. This is true of every idea or thought. Now I come in contact with this odor thrown from you, and being well I have found by twenty years experience that these odors affect me, and also that they contain the identity of the patient whom this odor surrounds. This called my attention to it, and I found that it was as easy to tell the feelings or thoughts of a person sick as to detect the odor of spirits from that of tobacco. I at first thought I inhaled it, but at last found that my spiritual senses could be affected by it when my body was at a distance of many miles from the patient. This led to a new discovery, and I found my [real] senses were not in my body, but that my body was in my senses, and my knowledge located my senses according to my wisdom. If a man's knowledge is in matter all there is of him (to him) is contained in matter. But if his knowledge is in Wisdom, then his senses and all there is of him are outside of matter. To know this is a truth, and the effect is life in this truth, and this truth is in Wisdom. So the man who knows all this is in Wisdom with all his senses and life.

Then where do I differ from you? In this respect. My wisdom is my health, and your wisdom is your disease; for your wisdom is in your belief, and my wisdom is my life and senses, and my senses teach me that your trouble is the effect of your belief. What is light to me is darkness to you. You being in the dark stumble and are afraid of your own shadow. I with the eye of Truth see in your darkness or belief, and you seem to me blind. Or, like the rose, you cannot see the light, while I am in the light, and see through the clouds of your ignorance, see your senses and all there is of you, held in this ignorance by error, trying like the life of the rose bud to break through and come to the light. You have eyes, taste, and all your senses, but the clouds are before them, and as Jesus said, "Ye have eyes and see not, and have ears and hear not, and a heart that cannot understand." Now what is the reason? It is this. Your eyes have not seen, your ears have not heard, and your heart has not understood what happiness there is in knowing that your life, senses, and all that there is near and dear to you is no part of matter, and that matter is only a belief or casket to hold you in till Wisdom dissolves the casket, and lets you into the light of Science. Then you will hold life in the form of the rose, and live in a world of light, where the sorrows of hell and disease can never come, where you can sit and see that what man takes for reality is only the works of heathen superstition. Then you will not be afraid of disease, which leads to death.

You may ask if all I say is true what is it good for? If it is only a belief, I admit that it is of no more value to a person than any religious belief. You may ask for proof that will give some light upon the subject. I will give it, as near as a man who has eyesight can explain colors to a blind person. When I sit by a patient, if he thinks he has disease of the heart, the atmosphere surrounding him is his belief, and the fear of death is in the density of the clouds of his mind. Now knowing he is in the clouds somewhere I, as it were, try to arouse him. But it appears as though he were blind. So I shake him to arouse him out of his lethargy. At last I see him aroused and look around, but soon sink back again. By my talk I disturb the clouds, and this sometimes makes the patient very nervous, like a person coming out of a fit or awakened from a sound sleep. What I say is truth, and being solid it breaks in pieces his matter or belief, till at last he looks up to inquire what has been the trouble. My explanation rouses him and gives another change to his mind, and that is like a thunder storm. When it thunders and the lightning flashes, the patient is nervous. When the cloud of ignorance passes over and the light of truth comes, then the patient sees where his misery came from, and that it was believing a lie that made him sick. My arguments are based upon my knowledge of his feelings, and this knowledge put in practice is the Science of Health,¹ and is for the benefit of the sick and suffering.


P. P. Quimby

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