LETTERS TO THE PATIENTS
PORTLAND, Feb. 9th, 1860.
*This letter shows what intimate connection Dr. Quimby established mentally with patients whom he treated absently. The reference to rubbing the head was to show that the absent help applied directly where needed. This tended to strengthen faith.
You know I told you that mind was spiritual matter. In order to illustrate my meaning so you will understand it, I will make use of an illustration that Jesus used. He said, when the skies are red, you know it will be fair weather. Now thought is something and this acts in space. For instance, the body is nothing but a dense shadow, condensed into what is called matter, or ignorance of God or Wisdom. God or Wisdom is all light. Your identity [consciousnessl acts in these two elements, light and darkness, so that all impressions are [subconsciously] made in this darkness or ignorance, and as the light springs up the darkness disappears. One of these elements is governed by Wisdom, the other by error, and as all belief is in this world of darkness, the truth comes in and explains the error. This rarifies the darkness and the light takes its place. Now as this darkness is all the time varying, like the clouds, it is necessary that man should be posted about it as he would about the weather. For our happiness in this world depends a great deal on the weather. For the wisdom of man has got so far from the truth that even the weather is our enemy, so that we step out as though we were liable to be caught by a cold, and if we are then comes the penalty. All this error arises from ignorance. So to keep clear of error is to know who he is, how he gets hold of us, and how we shall know when he is coming.
To make you understand I must come to you in some way in the form of a belief. So I will tell you a story of someone who died of bronchitis. You listen or eat this belief or wisdom as you would eat your meals. It sets rather hard upon your stomach; this disturbs the error or your body, and a cloud appears in the sky. You cannot see the storm but you can see it looks dark. In this cloud or belief you prophesy rain or a storm. So in your belief you foresee evils. The elements of the body of your belief are shaken, the earth is lit up by the fire of your error, the heat rises, the heaven or mind grows dark; the heat moves like the roaring of thunder, the lightning of hot flashes shoot to all parts of the solar system of your belief. At last the winds or chills strike the earth or surface of the body, a cold clammy sensation passes over you. This changes the heat into a sort of watery substance, which works its way to the channels, and pours to the head and stomach.
PORTLAND, Feb. 8th, 1861.
Of course you get very tired, and this would cause the heat to affect the surface as your head was affected, the heat would affect the fluids, and when the heat came in contact with the cold it would chill the surface. This change you call "a cold." But the same would come about in another way. Every word I said to you is like yeast. This went into your system like food and came in contact with the food of your old bread or belief. Mine was like a purgative, and acted like a emetic on your mind, so that it would keep up a war with your devils [errors], and they will not leave a person, when they have so good a hold as they have on you, without making some resistance. But keep up good courage and I will drive them all out so that you may once more rejoice in that Truth which will free you from your tormentors or disease.
If you will sit down and read this letter, take a tumbler of water and think of what I say, and drink and swallow now and then, I will make you sit up so you will feel better. You must be [silent and receptive] just about as long as you used to be in Portland. Try this every night about nine o'clock. This is the time I shall be with Mr. and Mrs. S. You know that where two or three are gathered together in the name of this Truth, there it will be in your midst and help you. So try it and see if it does help you. If you do, let me know.
Hoping this letter will be of some comfort to you and the rest, I remain your true friend and protector till you are well, if I have the Science to cure you. So I leave you for the present and attend to others.*
P. P. Q.
*Despite Dr. Quimby's great confidence in the Truth, he ofter wrote and spoke in this way, never making mere promises or claims. The use of the tumbler of water was to strengthen faith and aid concentration.
Remember how I explained to you about standing straight Just put your hands on your hips, then bend forward ane back.
*Although the absent treatment given in such a case included much more than this letter indicates, Quimby, realizing the importance of expectant attention, mentioned specific results that might be looked for. He tried to make a patient self-helpful as soon possible.
PORTLAND, Feb. 9th, 1860.
This was your belief when you called on me. As I struck at the roots of your belief with the axe of Truth, everything having a tendency to make you unhappy I tried to destroy. So in the destruction there must be a change. This change must be like its father. So if you had grief, it would produce grief for the present. Finally the Truth would dry up your tears and you would rejoice in that Truth that sets you free.
So in regard to the "cold": if you had the idea of "consumption" when I drove that cnemy of man out of your belief, this must produce a like cough, but it is all for the best. Remember that every error has its reaction, but an unravelling of error leads to life and happiness, while the winding it up leads to disease and misery.
*The regenerative process was often emphatic in the case of Dr. Quimby's patients because his power was great, its action immediate. In another letter Dr. Quimby says, "To reverse the action is not a very easy task, but if you will wait patiently I cannot help thinking it will take place."
PORTLAND, March 3, 1861.
*This shows how little emphasis Dr. Quimby himself put on rubbing the head: he could do it as well absently: That is, it was merely "suggestion."
You know I have told you, you think too much on religion or what is called religion. This makes you nervous, for it contains a belief, which contains opinions and they are matter, i.e. they can be changed. If opinions were not anything, they could not be changed. . . . All [so-called] religion is of this world and must give way to Science or Truth; for truth is eternal and cannot be changed. . . . So you see according to the religious world I must be an infidel. Suppose I am. I know that I am talking to you now: does the Christian believe in [this talking with the spirit]? No. Here is where we differ.
Eighteen hundred years ago, there was a man called Jesus who, the Christian says, came from heaven . . . to tell man that if he could conform to certain rules and regulations he could go to heaven when he died; but if he refused to obey them he must go to hell. Now of course the people could not believe it merely because he said so . . . so it was necessary to give some proof that he came from God. Now what proof was required by the religious world? It must be some miracle or something that the people could not understand. So he cured the lame, made the dumb speak, etc. The multitude was his judge and they could not account for all that he did: then he must come from God. Now does it follow? . . . I have no doubt that he cured. But his cures were no proof that he came from God, anymore than mine are, not did he believe it. . . . Jesus was endowed with wisdom from the scientific world or God, not of this world. Nor can he be explained by the natural man. . . . His God fills all space. His wisdom is eternal life, with no death about it. He never intended to give any [theological] construction to his cures; [they] were for the bcnefit and happiness of man. Men were religious from superstition, their religion was made of opinions, and as these were the light of the mind the opinion or light contained an idea: when the idea is lit up, it throws its rays and our senses [consciousness] being in the rays, they are affected by the idea. As their ideas affected the people, they were like burdens grievous to be borne; so the people murmured. . . .
Jesus knew all this. No man was able to break the seal or unlock the secret of health. . . . Wisdom, seeing the groans of the sick, acted upon this man Jesus and opened his eyes to Truth. Thus the heavens were opened to him. He saw this Truth or Science descend, and he understood it. Then came his temptations: if he would listen to the people and become king they would all receive him. This he would not do. But to become a teacher of the poor and sick would be very unpopular. . . . He chose the latter; and went forth teaching and curing all sorts of diseases in the name of this Wisdom, and calling on all men everywhere to repent, believe, and be saved from the priests and doctors who bound burdens on the people. . . .
PORTLAND, March 3, 1861.
In answer to your letter I will say that you know I told you that your disease was in your mind. Now your mind is your opinion, and your opinion is that you have scrofulous or cancerous humour. . . . This opinion shows itself in your system. . . . As I change this something or opinion, it must change the eflect, . . . and in the change it will produce these feelings, because it is in the fluids. As this change goes on it must affect your head and also your side, and it ought to affect your stomach. This will bring on a phenomenon like a cold . . . this carries off all the false ideas and relieves your system of that bloat and heat. Keep up your courage. It is all right.*
*Although Quimby speaks of disease as "in the mind," he speaks of the error or opinion as "something," and mentions the bodily effects without denying that such changes are produced in the physical system. But he turns the thought as quickly as possible to the regenerative changes presently to come.
P. P. Q.
March 3rd, 1861.
March I0th, 1861.
*Quimby conversed with his patients in the same friendly way in spirit as during the talks which followed treatments in his office. He addressed the inner self, speaking what to him was the direct truth, in contrast with the patient's consciousness in bondage to opinion.
March I0th, 1861.
March I0th, 1861.
It is true your husband can travel the briny deep, but he has never entered this ocean of this higher state. . . . Our belief makes our bodies or barks, the sea is troubled, error is the rocks and quicksands where we are liable to be driven by the cross-currents while the wind of error is whistling in our ears. . . . Now keep a good lookout and you will see the breakers ahead. So brace up and see that your compass is right. Keep all snug and fast. Remember what I told you . . . not to lose control of yourself, but stand on deck and give your orders, not in a whining way, but bold and earnest. Then your crew will obey your orders. You will steer clear of all danger and land safe in the port of health.*
P. P. Quimby.
*Quimby habitually inculcated the affirmative attitude by employing the terms familiar to his patients according to their occupation.
PORTLAND. March 19th, 1861.
It is not a very easy thing to forsake every established opinion and become a persecuted man for this Truth's sake, for the benefit of the poor and sick, when you have to listen to all their long stories without getting discouraged. This cannot be done in a day. I have been twenty years training myself to this one thing, the relief of the sick. A constant drain on a person's feelings for the sick alters him, and he becomes identified with the suffering of his patients: this is the work of time. Every person must become affected one way or the other, either to become selfish and mean, so his selfish acts will destroy his wisdom . . . or his wisdom will become more powerful. . . .
It is not an easy thing to steer the ship of wisdom between the shores of poverty and the rocks of selfishness. If he is all self, the sick lose that sympathy which they need at his hand. If he is all sympathy, he ruins his health and becomes a poor outcast on a charitable world. For the sick can't help him and the rich won't.*
*The resource, Quimby points out elsewhere, is found through knowledge that this Wisdom is from God; brings strength, guidance, freedom. Contrast Quimby's spirit as disclosed in this letter with that of later therapeutists who lacked his great sympathy.
[Whenever in his letters to the sick Dr. Quimby speak of spiritism we find him sceptical concerning alleged messages from the "dead." In one letter he says, "As my mode of treating disease is entirely new to the world, the spiritualist claim me as a medium. I deny this, but believe that mind acts on mind, and that it is the living, and not the dead; so here is where we differ." He then goes on to tell about a woman who was greatly misled by an unscrupulous medium. The result was so serious that the woman left her husband in a fit of jealousy, and when Dr. Quimby was called had tried to take her own life by cutting her throat. After hearing a sides of the case, and finding the woman virtually insane, Dr. Quimby sat by her to restore her, her state being so violent that he had to hold her by main force. After four or five hours she was brought to her senses and so quieted that she fell asleep. Then followed Quimby's explanations to both husband and wife, showing how they had been misled, the explanation was convincing and a complete reconciliation followed. This instance shows the thoroughness with which Quimby searched matters out to the end. He endeavored to give a complete substitute for spiritism by showing how one mind can mislead another.
[Sometimes Quimby declined to take cases of certain types, inasmuch as he was working alone and had the force of public opinion against him. What he says with reference to blindness in a letter to an inquirer in 1861, is significant. He says, I should not recommend anyone like your description to come to see me, for I have no faith that I could cure him. If a man is simply blind I have no chance for a quarrel, for we both agree in that fact. But if a person has any sickness which he wants cured and is partially blind besides, then I might affect his blindness, but that is thrown in. I never undertake to cure the well and if a man is blind and is satisfied I can't find anything to talk about: if I undertake to tell him anything he says, Oh! I am all right but my eyes. So he is spiritually blind and cannot see that his blindness had a beginning . . . I refuse to take such cases till my popularity is such that my opinion is of some force to such persons; for opinions of popular quacks are law and gospel about blindness, and so long as the blind lead the blind they will both fall in the ditch."
[When asked if he could cure anyone using intoxicating liquors, he answered by considering all matters involved. Quimby did not undertake to judge a man simply because he drank. For he wrote, "I judge no man. Judgment belongs to God or Science, and that judges right, for it contains no opinion. Giving an opinion is setting up a standard to judge your neighbor by, and this is not doing as you would be done by." He goes on to say that if some one under condemnation as a criminal who has taken to drink comes to him, he pleads his case by tracing every factor to the foundation. Convincing the man that he has been misled by his enemies and has taken to drink to "drown his sorrows," Quimhy brings him to his reason, the victim of persecution abandons his old associates, and is ready to change his habits. But, says Quimby, "if he likes smoking or drinking, he is satisfied and wants no physican. If [he is] sick and I find that liquor it his enemy, then it is my duty to tell him so. If I convince him, he has no more difficulty." Quimby's caution in indulging in any opinion of his own is indicated in a letter, dated April 10, 1861, in which he says:]
An opinion involves more responsibility than I am willing to take. Moreover, an opinion is of no force . . . and it might do a great deal of harm. I always feel as though disease was an enemy that might be conquered if rightly understood. But if you let your enemy know your thoughts, you give him the advantage. Therefore I never give the sick any idea that should make them believe that I have any fears. . . . Making health the fixed object in my mind, I never parley nor compromise. Once when your sister remarked she never expected to be perfectly well, I replied that I never compromised with disease, and as she bad been robbed of her health I should not settle the case except on condition of the return of her health and happiness. . . . When your sister came to me I found her in a very nervous state from the fact that she had lost her sister and expected soon to follow her. This made her very nervous and stimulated her to that degree that she appeared to be quite strong. As I relieved her fears she became more quiet. This she took for weakness. But every change has come just as I told her it would. [Thus Dr. Quimby gradually brought his patient into the affirmative attitude, so that she could see for herself.]
[Again, Quimby wrote as if conversing with his patient and meeting objections point by point, while still carrying on the treatment. Thus he writes to one not yet convinced of the efficacy of absent help:]
I will now sit down by you as I used to, for I see I am with you, and talk to you a little about your weak back. You forgot to sit upright as I used to tell you. Perhaps you cannot see how I can be sitting by you in your house, and at the same time be in Portland. I see you look up and open your eyes, and I hear you say, "No, I am sure I cannot and I do not believe you can be in two places at the same time." I hear you think, not speak. . . . If you [understood], you would not doubt that I am now talking to you. . . . I have faith to believe that I can make you believe by my Wisdom. So I shall try to convince you that although I may be absent in the idea or body, yet I am present with you in the mind. . . . If you know that I am here, [in the case of present treatment] you attach your [thought] to the Christ or Truth and if you believe this you are saved from the uncertainty of seeing me in the body.
[Writing to another patient not quite clear on this point, Dr. Quimby states that when he receives a letter he always feels as though he were spiritually with the patient giving advice. Sometimes he seems to be present with several patients at once, because so many have come to him and are thinking of him. So, he says:]
I make a sort of general visit, as I used to when you were all in my office. But if I feel certain of one I make that one a text to preach from. So I believe if you can make yourself known to me by your faith I can feel you. Since I commenced writing you have come up before me so that I now recall you perfectly well, and I will give my attention to you.
[Speaking of his effort to convince a patient of "this great Truth," Dr. Quimby writes:]
When I say this great Truth I mean this light that lighteth everyone that understands it. When I first sit by you, my desire to see you lights up my mind like a lamp. As the light expands, my [spiritual] senses being attached to the light, each particle of light contains all the elements of the whole. So when the light is strong enough to see your light in your darkness or doubts, then I come in harmony with your light, and dissipate your errors and bring your light out of your darkness. Then I try to associate you with . . . a substance that is separate and part from your . . . senses.
[In still another letter on the same subject Quimby says that sometimes he cannot see a patient when he reads the letter asking for help, because the "errors" obscure his sight. The spiritual self in a person possesses spiritual light, independent of matter. But this is so associated with matter in the average person that it becomes attached to it. In its pure operation his light sees through matter in its various combinations. Common education has placed a barrier between people. Superior intelligence is required to see through this obstacle. To communicate with the spirit in person is to endeavor to reach that part which interiorly sees and hears and is independent of time and space. This part of ourself is not known by the natural man, in his dependence on ordinary sight and hearing. It is imprisoned by "the error of common belief." This belief is under the direction of people who are unaware that there is an intelligence independent of the body. Quimby shows that he wishes to talk with that part of the self which does not believe in the adverse suggestions to which one becomes subject through ignorance. If he can make himself felt apart from common means of communication, this experience will show that the self really possesses these higher powers. If his patient hears his inner voice, she should not put a false construction upon it or become frightened and close the inner door. For he must convince her that her supposed friends are her enemies, those who tell her "with long hypocritical faces and whining tones" that she "looks very feeble," and "not so well." "These are the hypocrites that devour widows' houses. For your science is your house, and as you are all alone you are a widow in the Science of Christ or Truth. Now Christ visited the widowed and fatherless in their distress, and told his disciples to do the same, and keep them pure and unspotted from the world of opinions. While you read this I am with you in your belief or prison, till I shall tear it down and raise you up."
[Again, Quimby admits in writing to a man concerning his wife's case that he has sometimes judged for the moment by what the sick said about themselves, and advised them not to come; but on sitting with such patients he has found their trouble amounted to a "mere nothing." He has advised others to come, on the basis of their own description, and found them far worse than he expected. This has led him to give all people opportunity to take the chance and he will then do the best he can for them. If certain of curing one whom he has never seen he would at once advise favorably. But he will not venture to give a mere opinion. If however the patient herself in this case will write to Quimby, giving an account of her own case, he will devote an hour to her, and so write that she may follow her own leadings. In this way Quimby gave inquirers an opportunity to look beneath all opinions.
[It is noticeable that in these letters, writtcn in 1860 and 1861, Quimby shows that he has a clear conception of the "Science of Christ," or "Christian Science," a term which he employed later.
[To a patient who tried to persuade Quimby to promise that he would heal her, he writes:]
You say in your letter that I told you so and so, and you hold me to what I said, just as though I might forget it. . . . Now these promises are the very things I am trying to get rid of. . . . When my patients get me to make a promise, it seems to them as if that were all, and they never think they have anything to do for themselves. This is so common among the sick that I have become very cautions. . . . Now, do not hold me as P. P. Q. responsible to stop your cough. I must hold you, not Mrs. B. but the sick idea to its promises. . . . You must remember that Mrs. B. said she would keep up good courage, and not be afraid if she coughed a little. If I hear of your complaining about the cough, I shall hold you to your bargain. You see you are bound to keep the peace, to do all that is right so that health may come, and that you may once more rejoice. . . .
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