Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
What is Human Life?
What is human life? It is an element of itself that fills all space. Then what is man? It is a knowledge of this life, condensed into a form called “man.” Life, being something that fills all space, independent of ideas - what is it, and how does man know he has it when his idea body is destroyed? As we acknowledge man, it is impossible to prove that there is any life outside of him. To the natural man, this cannot be done; yet it is a fact and can be shown so plainly that even the natural man can have few doubts.
I will try to explain life outside of matter (or what is called flesh and blood). Follow me in your thought into space, outside of everything that has form, and see what kind of a creature you would be. To illustrate - pass into a garden filled with all kinds of flowers, with all their peculiar odors. Man has given a name to each flower, but God has given to each a peculiar odor. Its life is in its odor, and each odor is attracted by its kind.
Man enters, and to him it is like a confusion of tongues. He perceives no distinction of odors, and to him they have no identity of odor; but the flowers have their own identities. Put as much wisdom into the life (or odor) of each flower as you put in each flower, and you have a garden full of living life, with all the wisdom of each flower, outside and apart from the natural eye, yet living and acting in space, with all the knowledge of each flower.
In this chaos of wisdom, each odor is attracted to itself and can mingle and harmonize with its peculiar kind. And when these kinds come in contact with each other, the result is a mingling or union of feelings that does not disturb each other. But if another odor comes, the repulsion is so great that a discord is produced. This is harmony not understood - and it keeps each odor in its proper state.
It is the same with the brute creation, but man - that is his life (or odor) - has a higher development. In this odor (or life) is all the wisdom of God, not reduced to practice; but like the odor of the rose, not acknowledged by the natural man. The natural man is like the uncultivated forest, which often throws off some of the most beautiful odors from the uncultivated flowers. So man, in the forest state, often throws an atmosphere from an original idea (or flower) that fills the whole earth with fragrance; and the people become impregnated with it, for good or evil.
As the man of life (or odor) contains all the wisdom, he cultivates the natural man (or vineyard). And mind, being the soil to cultivate - experiments are tried. So wisdom, being the man of life - he becomes the husbandman of his own vineyard. In the earth (or natural man) is where all seeds (or ideas) are sown; so it brings forth all kinds of creeping things that have life - and the office of wisdom is to keep the vineyard in good order, so that its fruits will produce happiness. By the deception of error (or ignorance), man has wandered away from science (or spiritual life) and, like Esau, has made his way into the wilderness of matter and recognizes no life outside of his own little vineyard. So he lives in death, never dreaming that he is the cause of his own misery.
Now rise up with me into space - like the odor of the rose - and sit down on the clouds of error, and see men walking and blown like trees by every wind of opinion; sometimes torn from the earth by a hurricane and hurled into the air - the tornado being started by some political devil and blown up by his imps. Each of these men, who are affected by the disturbance of the earth (or man), has his identity in this atmosphere. This is disease - and everyone is liable to be affected as much as the rose; so that the man of life will sometimes say, “The life of a savage is preferable to that of a civilized person.” This is disease. He is not intelligent in the wisdom of that great life that teaches him that all things that man creates must come to an end, but that part of man which is true wisdom lives forever. The ignorance of this truth is disease.
While I am sitting here away from the little flock I once used to lead through the valley of disease... while the winds of error are blowing the odor of disease into your very nostrils... I think I hear you say, "Oh had I the wings of a dove, I would fly away and be where I could rest; where my sorrows could be turned into joy." Now as you are putting up your petition to this great truth, I am standing by you, cheering you up by my words and driving away your enemies who come in the form of doubts saying, “I shall not get well, etc.” I am with you and know this and feel it is eternal life. To teach it is to adopt a language that will convey it to another. This is what I am trying to do.
I will try to give you the true man standing by you at this time - not myself as a man in Belfast, but myself as a teacher of this truth, who is with you in whatever condition you may be placed. I will try to give you some idea of myself, as your teacher or physician. To your natural eyes, I cannot be seen - then how am I seen and felt through the senses? The senses are nothing more, of themselves, than a musical instrument is an idea “matter.” To you, I cannot be seen in matter - so if I am with you, I must be something independent of matter.
What is there that all will admit must exist independent of matter? Take the senses of man, and see if there is any matter in them. All will admit that God is not matter; for if God sees all things, his sight penetrates the darkest places, and not a thing can be hidden from his sight. So it is with all the senses of man - and there is no matter in them. A knowledge of these senses, condensed into an idea, spoken into existence, with all the senses attached to it is man in the image of his maker.
Make this image the medium of God (or Christ) to speak through, and then you have the natural man. To know himself is to know that he - that is, his life (or senses) - can be transferred from one idea to another, without the knowledge of the natural man. When you believe this, then you can see and feel that I can be with you, although - according to the natural man's idea - hundreds of miles apart. According to this truth, if we are in harmony, we are together; but if there is a doubt, that is separation (or discord). And the gulf is not widened on account of the idea “distance” - for two persons may be sitting together and the space be as great as the space between the rich man and Lazarus.
Sympathy annihilates space; discord makes it - and man is in one and Christ in the other. To “be with Christ” is to be in harmony with wisdom - and this wisdom will keep us from the evils of man's opinions. This is the theory. How can it be applied to man, and what is the use of a truth that cannot be applied to the evils that flesh is heir to? This truth is talked of by Paul, 1 Cor. 4:5, “For we preach not ourselves, but this truth that is in us.” What was this “Christ?” If Christ is God, then God was in Paul, and Paul was the servant (or medium). Everyone may see that I am of God (or that my words are true) - but there is but one living and true God (or Christ), and all the other Christs are false. Then how are we to know what is truth? When our senses are attached to truth, then we are heirs of Christ; and when attached to error, we are heirs of this world. The “Christ” is to separate the error from the truth; for truth is harmony and error discord.
We often hear it said that if man did not disobey nature's laws, he would not be sick. What does nature command man to obey, that he must suffer if he disobeys? A law is to protect the innocent from the insult of the strong; but facts are not laws. Laws have penalties attached to them - and when there is no law, there is no transgression. If God made a law before he made anyone to disobey it and then made man subject to it - to disobey God's laws would be right; for when he made all things, he pronounced them good. I cannot find any law that God ever made. God's law is truth, and that is right (or law) - so it is right (or lawful) to do good on the Sabbath day.
The Jews made law and not God; for God cannot make anything that will conflict with another. He is the harmonizer, and when man tries to explain it, he calls it a law of honor that harmonizes right (or law). Whatever men agree to do, the agreement is law; for they have agreed that it is right. A law supposes two parties and an agreement, and the binding of this agreement is right (or law); but man made it - not God.
If you throw a stone into the air, it returns with just as much force as it received. This is a truth and, of course, a law. But God has nothing to do with the reaction - for that was contained in the act. This is also a truth (or law) and contains no reward or punishment. But if you, from your ignorance, let the stone fall on your head, you have not obeyed or disobeyed a law and deserve no reward or punishment; but from your ignorance you have learned a fact. A stone will come down on your head if you get under it when it is falling - and that is a fact.
It is false that God makes laws that man disobeys. Man makes lies, and we believe them - and the misery that follows is the reaction of our own act. Therefore we agree to torment ourselves by our own belief. Jesus knew all this and said, “Let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay, and whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil (or opinion).” If man would tell what he knows and no more, he would not deceive his neighbors. Then there would be no transgression, for there would be no law (or opinion). We mix opinion with truth, and we call it law; but all the laws of God are nothing but truth. Man's laws are not God's laws, so sickness is not the disobeying of God's, but man's laws - and this brings sickness and death.