"It is to the sick and not to the well, that this is written;
to open their eyes, so that they can see
how they have been deceived."
~ Dr. Phineas P. Quimby
(*Free .pdf Book ~ 474 pages)
as edited by Horatio Dresser, 1921
Biographical Sketch of Dr. Phineas P. Quimby from the Quimby Manuscripts, Ch. 1, by Horatio Dresser, 1921, (Excerpts).
...Quimby's writings were not meant for publication, although their author hoped to revise them for a book, and he had already written experimental introductions.... Time has shown that the original teachings have come to possess a value which might not have been theirs had they been published fifty years ago. Now that the teachings are given to the world, many new estimates will be made. The majority of us are little accustomed to thinking in terms of inner experience, without the embellishments of literary art or the interpretations of sects and schools; and some effort will be required to take up the point of view of a writer who wrote precisely as he thought.
There is little to add to the biographical sketch published by his son George A. Quimby, in the "New England Magazine," March, 1888, so far as external details are concerned. Quimby was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire, February 16, 1802. When two years of age his home was moved to Belfast, Maine, where he spent his boyhood days without noteworthy incident. The family home remained in Belfast. There Quimby began his first investigations in mental phenomena. Thither he went for rest and change in the years of his greatest activities as spiritual healer in Portland; and there his earthly life came to an end, after more than twenty years devoted to the type of work which gives him title to fame among original minds.
His education in the schools was so meager that he did not learn to spell and punctuate as most writers do.... Had he been granted the opportunity as a young man, he would naturally have sought the best training in the special sciences, as that was the tendency of his mind. But there are other sorts of education which some of us value more. If to be educated is to have power to quicken in men and women knowledge of themselves, love for spiritual truth and love for God, then indeed he was educated in high degree. The significant fact is that, with only a common-school education and with but slight acquaintance with the ages of human thought, Quimby made the best use of his powers and grappled with the greatest problems with clear insight. To see why he came to believe as he did is to pass far beyond the external facts of his biography and turn to his inner life with its out-reachings.
Quimby early manifested ability as an inventor, but his mechanical interests do not explain him. So, too, in his occupation as watch and clockmaker, there is no hint of his peculiar ability in discerning the human heart. His power as inventor was limited by his interest in mechanics. Before the period of his experiments in mental phenomena, there is only one incident of any significance recorded - the recovery of his health, in part without the aid of medicine; but even in this case his meager account fails to tell us whether the change was in any sense permanent. It was not until his investigations were well begun that he wholly regained his health and began to see that health is a spiritual possession.
But in reviewing this introductory period of his life, everything once more depends on what we call education. Inventive or creative ability, combined with love for facts; the facts and laws of the special sciences, is a splendid beginning, if one is to devote maturer years to establishing a spiritual science. Perhaps it was Quimby's love for natural facts which kept him from ignoring the existence and reality of the natural world, when he became absorbed in the study of the mind.
Quimby's mind was scientific in the good sense of the term. He did not stop many years in the domain of mechanics. He was not content with letters patent as signs of his ability. Nor was he satisfied with studies in mesmerism, spiritualism and kindred phenomena. The impressive fact is that he continued his researches until he laid the basis for a new structure in the world of thought. During the period of his preliminary investigations, he read books on the sciences, to some extent. But with the beginning of his life-work he branched out in a new direction; working entirely alone, amidst opposition and with no books to help him. His more productive years should, therefore, be judged by his high ideal of a spiritual science.
His great love for truth; his desire to prove all things for himself, is then the most prominent characteristic of his early manhood. Apparently, those who knew him well in the early years of his life in Belfast saw nothing peculiar or exceptional in him. Hence there is nothing recorded that gives us any clue until, putting aside conventional standards of thought, we seek the man's inner type; the sources of his insight in the Divine purpose. Yet there is an advantage in being known by one's fellow townsmen as honest, upright, dedicated to practical pursuits and by no means peculiar. For when Quimby took up a study that was unpopular, he was a prophet with honor in his own country. From his home town he went forth to engage in public experiments, well recommended. And in his own town, he began the practice of spiritual healing; winning there the reputation which led him to move to Portland in 1859 and enlarge his work.
Was he a religious man? In one of his articles he says, "I have been trying all my life, ever since I was old enough to listen, to understand the religious opinions of the world, and see if people understand what they profess to believe." Not finding spiritual wisdom, he was inclined to be skeptical, and later spent much time setting his patients free from religious beliefs. George Quimby tells us emphatically that his father was not religious, in the sense in which one might understand the term “religion.” as applied to organizations, churches and authorized text-books. We shall see reasons for this distinction as we proceed. But if to believe profoundly in the indwelling presence of God as love and wisdom - if to live by this Presence, so as to realize its reality vividly in the practice of spiritual healing - is to be religious; then indeed few men have been more truly religious than he. Those of us who have known his chief followers have felt from them a spiritual impetus coming from his work which surpasses what we have elsewhere met in actual practice.
After he ceased to experiment with mesmerism and began to study the sick intuitively, he took his starting-point in religious matters from the state in which he found his patients. He found many of them victims of what we now call the old theology. The priests and ministers of that theology were, to him, blind guides. Hence, as he tells us, he made war on all religious opinions and on all priestcraft. Jesus was, to him, a reformer who had overcome all his religion, before beginning to establish the “Truth or Christ." Quimby was very radical in opposing doctrinal conceptions of Christ. He uniformly called Jesus a “man like ourselves," that he might win for the Master new recognition as the founder of spiritual science. To him the “Science of the Christ" was greater than a religion.
Did he allow his own personality to become a center of interest and admiration? Not at all. He realized, of course, that his patients would look up to him, as to any physician who had restored them to health when there was apparently no hope. So he sometimes freely spoke of his "power or influence." But this was to divert attention from doctors and medicines. He then disclosed the way to his great truth and kept his "science" steadily before his patient's mind. His manuscripts contain scarcely a reference to himself, save to show what he learned from early investigations; why he is not a spiritualist, humbug or quack and why he believed man possesses "spiritual senses" in touch with Divine wisdom. Thus he often speaks of himself in the third person as "P. P. Q." - not the “natural man" - but the one who has seen a great truth which all might understand.
In his constructive period in Portland, Quimby had around him - not ardent disciples who compared him with the great philosophers or with Jesus, but a small group, who defended him against misrepresentation and regarded him as he wished to be regarded; as a lover of truth. His patients became his special friends, and it was to those most interested that he gave forth his ideas most freely. The Misses Ware, who did most of the copying of the manuscripts and made changes in them, according to his suggestions when he heard them read, were especially fitted for this service, since they brought forward no opinions of their own and were devoted to this part of the work. So, too, Mr. Julius A. Dresser, who spent his time after his own recovery in June, 1860, conversing with new patients and inquirers, explaining Quimby's theory and methods, was particularly adapted to aid the great cause to which his life was dedicated. A few followers wrote brief articles for the press, but none had the confidence to undertake any elaborate exposition, hoping as they did that the manuscripts would soon be given to the world and that these would disclose the new truth in its fullness.
It has been supposed that Quimby did no teaching, and this is true so far as organized instruction is concerned. But he did the same kind of teaching that all original men engage in - he conversed with his followers, speaking out of the fullness of experience and with the force of native insight. Thus he began the educational part of his treatment, as soon as his patients were in a state of mind to listen responsively. Then he explained his "Truth" more at length as responsiveness grew and interest was awakened. Coming out of his office, filled with insights from his latest sitting, he would share his views with interested groups. Sometimes, too, his essays would be read and the contents discussed.... In a way, this is the best sort of instruction in the world; this teaching by the conversational method, when the works and evidences in question are immediately accessible to those interested, to follow the implied principles and learn all they can.
...His patients tell us that Quimby had remarkable insight into the character of the sick. He judged character, not by external signs, not through reasoning from facts to conclusions, but by silent impressions gained as he rendered his mind open to discern the real life and "see it, whole." The quest for facts and the inventive ability of his earlier years became the love for truth regarding his patients and the creative insight of his constructive period. He was in the habit of telling the truth, as he saw it; even if it aroused momentary resentment in the mind of his patients. If a patient was in bondage to medical or priestly opinion, he disclosed this servitude with startling directness. He addressed himself to the real or "scientific" man; summoning the true self into power.
One of his patients has said, "P. P. Quimby's perceptive powers were remarkable. He always told his patient, at the first sitting, what the latter thought was his disease; and as he was able to do this, he never allowed the patient to tell him anything about his case. Quimby would also continue and tell the patient what the circumstances were which first caused the trouble and then explain to him how he fell into his error; and then from this basis he would prove that his state of suffering was purely an error of mind and not what he thought it was. Thus his system of treating diseases was really and truly a science, which proved itself. He taught his patients to understand and they were instructed in the truth as well as restored to health." [J. A. Dresser, in "The True History of Mental Science," revised edition, p. 23.]
That is to say, Quimby's work, emulating that of Jesus, was fundamental and central. It began with bodily and mental healing, when this was called for first - as it was in nearly every instance. It became spiritual and regenerative if a person desired. For he could not compel a person to be born anew. He could but disclose the way persuasively. That his way was indeed persuasive was seen in the case of followers who came to him as a last resort; deeming him some sort of irregular practitioner; his method a "humbug" - and went away deeply touched by his spirit and the power of the great truths he had to give.
Some effort will be required to discern his inner type, on the part of those who have heard adverse opinions circulated about during the long controversial years. It is by no means a mere question of doing him justice, at last. He desired no credit, and there is no reason for underestimating what others have done, in order to win recognition for him. His work and teachings were both like and unlike the teachings and work of his later followers. He undoubtedly possessed greater intuition and greater healing power than the therapists who have come after him. He did not stop with nervous or functional diseases, but more often healed organic disorders. A closet full of canes and crutches left by patients in his office in Portland in the last years of his practice testified to his remarkable power. His followers lacked the requisite confidence to try to heal as he did, while he was still with them. Later, when his ideas and methods began to become known outside of Maine and New Hampshire, the therapists who took up the work had to depend upon questioning their patients, and some of the early writers restated the Quimby philosophy in a much more abstract way.
...The Quimby Writings are
are unquestionably the most important contributions to the subject,
because they show how the modern theory and practice of spiritual
healing came into being.... The underlying theory has been greatly
elaborated since his time. The same ideas and methods have been
applied in fields which he did not enter. Quimby was, if you please,
a pioneer and specialist, devoted to truth as his own insight led to
it, without regard to prior teachings, save those of the New
Testament. But it still remains impressively significant that,
entirely alone in an unfriendly age, he acquired ideas and discovered
methods which gave him title to fame. His writings, therefore, have a
special value of their own.
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