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Antecedents of New Thought by Eric Butterworth

Lecture 4 - Phineas Quimby

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As you listen to this essay and read the text, keep in mind that the world of Quimby and practitioners of mental science was a society of the common man. As Eric points out, Quimby had no desire to become famous, rich or to rise to intellectual prominence. He simply wished to serve.

This may be symbolic of New Thought in general. It is a movement that has not achieved much prominence in established religion, nor in medical science. But New Thought has made tremendous contributions to the betterment of humankind.

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057 Opening meditation

Let's take a moment now to get still. We want to acknowledge that one presence that indwells us, that surrounds us, that enfolds us, in which we live and move and have our being, yet which is so much a part of us that it is veritably a dimension of us.

It is so important that we free ourselves from the intellectual concepts, techniques, definitions, even verbal treatments from time to time and just acknowledge that our relationship to the infinite is not something that we can turn on or off, not something that we can create or even expand, but something which is. All of our efforts in prayer or meditation, in treatment, are basically intended to enable us to let go, to find our center within the allness of the infinite and to let the healing flow, do its perfect, natural, normal work.

We suggest so often this beautiful concept expressed by the philosopher Plotinus, in the early centuries after Jesus' time, when he talks about letting go of outside pressures, influences and get the feeling that the whole universe is rushing, streaming, pouring into you from all sides while you sit quiet.

This day, in this consciousness of oneness in the infinite flow, may we feel free from prejudices, from preconceived notions, may we be open and receptive in mind and heart, may we feel a sense of objectivity as we consider that which is historical and even intellectual so that we can rightly and wisely gain a new sense of perspective of this that we call new insight in truth. Above all, may we go forth from here today with a greater sense of inner peace, greater confidence in the divine flow, greater sense of security and the radiance of love. We give thanks for this. Amen.

058 Two forces that shaped New Thought

All right, now those of you who've been following along with us know that this is the fourth of our series. We, first of all, considered as the antecedents of this new insight in truth, the flow of philosophy going way back into early times from many different cultures, east and west. Then we considered antecedents in the flow of psychology and considering not only the Freudian aspect of the antecedents of Freud in terms of Mesmer and some of the lesser known influences. Last week we dealt with the transcendentalism of Kant, which came into full flowering in the beautiful optimism of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Aside from the traditional institutions, there were two forces at work in New England in the early and mid 19th century, forces that have combined to shape what we now think of as modern New Thought in America.

One of them was considered last week, the resurgence of transcendentalism, that came out of what we refer to as neoplatonism and the complicated system of Kant, the mysticism of Meister Eckhart, the pantheism of Spinoza and as we said, that which came to full flowering in the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. As I mentioned last week, I believe Emerson had a dominate influence on the development of new thought and one that probably is more profound than is normally accepted. Certainly, he had that optimism of spirit that is reflected in what we call this new insight.

059 Phineas Parkhurst Quimby 1802-1866

Today, we're going to consider the other force that was at work in New England, a wave of interest in mental healing, though it was more properly called mental cure.

There were rumors going around that somewhere up in New England, in the mid-19th century, there was a doctor named Quimby who was effecting magical cures. He used neither massage nor drugs nor magnetism, but he could cure where doctors failed. As is always the case, there's a great curiosity and in the case of people desperately looking for healing, there were many folks who were seeking out Dr. Quimby. Actually, Dr. Quimby was not a doctor at all. He had no diploma, had no medical training. His father was a blacksmith and he was a watchmaker. He was not an educated man. He was not particularly articulate, especially in writing. He wrote a lot of manuscripts but most of them were almost indecipherable because of the poor grammar and so forth.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby / Wikipedia

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby and the dates, 1802 to 1866, to establish it in the chronology of all of the antecedents, was certainly a very deeply sincere and humble and even self-effacing person, but one who was by nature a researcher and had a great deal to do with the evolution and the practice of some of the insights that we now take for granted as a part of what we call truth.

The New Thought movement, or The Truth Movement, or the Metaphysical Movement, and it's referred to in many different ways, is in no way organized or uniform in its teachings. Often because of what I would sometimes call the chauvinism of individual schools or branches or churches, sometimes there is a tendency to act as if this particular school came up out of nowhere and had no antecedents. Certainly as we have said and will say again next week, with no attempt to be critical but objective that this is true of Christian Science. It's probably more than we would want to admit, true of Unity, it's true of religious science, it's true of all of the various groups. It often is ignored that they have any real relationship or that there is any common rootage.

I think that all of these movements that are extant in America today have a tremendous depth to the concepts that were worked out in the healing laboratories of this humble man, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.

060 New Thought concepts that are of Quimby origin

Now because of the common roots that we see evident, if we're willing to be that objective, throughout all of the various New Thought activities, there's a thread that runs through all of these. I think it's important that we acknowledge this and to recognize that many of these concepts were predominantly Quimby in origin.

Let me just suggest a few of them to give us a feeling of relatedness:

  • One is that the ideals are realities and all primary causes are internal forces.
  • Another is that mind is primary and causative while matter is secondary and resultant.
  • Another is that man is a child of God, a spiritual citizen of the universe.
  • There is a belief in metaphysical healing of all physical ills and sicknesses, not considered a positive reality but a negative condition.
  • Another is that God is immanent, indwelling spirit, all wisdom, all goodness, ever present in the universe as a warm and tender father and not as a cold abstraction. Another one that is often very confused and confusing, evil has no place in the world of preeminent reality and power. It is not denied as nonexistent but it is considered a negative quantity, the absence of good.
  • There is a belief in a divine humanity, a human brotherhood with a diving fatherhood.
  • This overall field of new thought is profoundly religious but completely nonsectarian in the classic sense of the word.
  • It believes in the present and progressive revelation of truth but yet reverently acknowledges debt to the Christian Scriptures and to many prophets of the divine flow.
  • It would proclaim to man his freedom from the necessity of belief and disease and poverty and all evil a a part of the divine plan.
  • It has no formal creed and it stands for the practice of the presence of God reduced to a scientific method of living a selfless life through union with a power that is love in action.

These are just some of the basic concepts that run like a golden thread through all of the various contemporary religious movements in this so called new thought stream, such as religious science and divine science and Unity and with some variations in Christian Science and among many of the freelance metaphysical teachers, of which there are so many.

061 Quimby initially explores mesmerism

Franz Mesmer
Franz Mesmer / Wikipedia

Now in a sense the story of Quimby, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, or quite often referred to as P.P. Quimby, begins back with the Austrian physician Franz Mesmer, who we considered a couple of weeks ago. In his early practice, Mesmer had believed in what he called animal magnetism, forces of the body that could be influenced and controlled by magnetic influence. This, as we mentioned, was a concept that was accepted almost emotionally and it became kind of a cultish experience and there were many, many Mesmerists that were around in Europe and came coming over to America. Do you remember later, Mesmer discovered that words strongly spoken were more effective and so he eliminated the magnet. It became a fad, later, to go and see the Mesmerists because they were involved, pretty much, in hypnotism and made all sorts of demonstrations of how the Mesmerist could control another person, simply the process of putting a person in a trance.

Now, it was such an occasion here in America that found Quimby attending a meeting given by a Frenchman named Charles Poyen. It was in Belfast, Maine. Quimby was very excited about what he saw. For a time, he went from place to place to see Poyen, this Mesmerist here in America. He became an avid student. He came to know Poyen personally. It was discovered in the process that Quimby himself had very definite, unmistakable hypnotic power.

In time, as he developed a thing and out of his eagerness to experiment with it, he eventually gave up his watchmaking and went about getting exhibitions. Did this for about 10 years. He became a Mesmerist, as it would say. He hired one of his subjects, a Lucius Burkmar, who had amazing clairvoyant ability. This was a modernization of the Mesmer process. He would Burkmar in a trance and then he'd diagnose disease and prescribe cures, much in the same way as Edgar Cayce did so successfully in the early part of this century. This was something that Mesmer was doing many years in advance.

In later years, after he had tired of the demonstration of the Mesmerist technique, the hypnotist show, he began to eliminate that aspect and he got into a little more sophisticated demonstration of some of the processes and concepts that lead truth. Years later, in the effort to discredit Quimby, he was often described as a Mesmerist healer. This label stuck to him all the way down through the years. Of course, when we actually read the history available and read his own writings as they evolved, and there are may of them available in the Quimby Manuscripts, we see that this was really a great injustice. It's almost the same thing as saying that a child who when he was in his early teens got in trouble with the law and went to the juvenile home that later, all through his life, we refer to him as a juvenile delinquent, even if he became a great lawyer or a teacher or whatever.

062 Quimby questions mesmerism and explores force of mind

Now Quimby had the temperament of a researcher. He was always trying to evolve, to analyze and to gain new insights. He was obviously a complete unlettered scientist. I think without question, Quimby would have become known in the world of psychoanalysis alongside of Freud. Possibly, his works may have been even more profound and startling if he had been more scholarly, more articulate, which he wasn't of course. He didn't move in those circles.

Quimby with Lucius Burkmar
Quimby with Lucius Burkmar / Wikipedia

He probably antedated the development of psychosomatic medicine in America in the early years when he was involved in medical aspects and in his awareness of the influence of thought and the influence of the emotions on psychical ills. He was a pioneer researcher in what we now call ESP and clairvoyance and hypnotism, long before it was even considered as a valid field of consideration. In time, doubts arose in Quimby's mind whether Lucius Burkmar, his medium, the clairvoyant, whether his report of the condition was really true to facts or whether it was simply the result of his perception through thought transference, of what either the physician or Quimby thought was the patient's condition.

He began to wonder whether it was the prescribed remedy that really effected the cure. He discovered that sometimes Lucius Burkmar prescribed a simple herb that couldn't possibly do either any harm or good, but that there was still a cure. He began to see the potential of what probably 75 to 100 years later was considered in medicine as a placebo, that I call the sugar coated nothings, and could see the influence of what was happening. He felt that any medicine might have the same effect. He began to explore the possibility that the cure could not be attributed to medicine but to the patient's confidence in the doctor or the medium.

Then Quimby, as a researcher, began to move on. He left many of these things and eventually turned his back totally and completely on medicine. He began to realize the power of faith, the force of suggestion. Even as Mesmer, those years before, eventually eliminated his magnet as a tool of healing, so Quimby eliminated the clairvoyant medium, eliminated most of the Mesmerist concepts and eventually dispensed with hypnotism entirely. Then he began to deal purely and simply with mind and with the force of mind both in the healer and in the person to be healed.

063 Quimby as an intuitive diagnostician

He began to experiment with, and I think, achieved some other interesting findings in what today would be referred to in the medical circles as a diagnosis. It's rather interesting, I think. This has always been something that's intrigued me a great deal. If we think of medical practice an medical doctors themselves that in the field of medicine, the worth of a physician is basically as a diagnostician. Most medical doctors simply dispense pharmaceutical pills of some kind or another. The worth of the doctor is his ability to diagnose what the problem is so that he knows how to treat it. The treatment methods are simple but it's a matter of knowing what to treat. Quite often this is not so easy.

It is strange to me, and kind of interesting, sort of revealing, that way back in the beginning, the beginning I say in who is considered to be the father of medicine, Hippocrates, back some 400 BC. The Hippocratic Oath, the series of moral concepts of Hippocrates, still remain as a great influence in medicine. But Hippocrates had an interesting concept that in later years was totally lost sight of. It was that when the student of medicine, when he had accumulated all of the information, the facts available relative to any particular ill, then he was trained to be still in an experience of meditation to listen to wisdom from the gods. In the beginning, diagnosis was basically an intuitive process. This was lost sight of down through the years until, as medicine became more scientific and more intellectual and more physical oriented, more involved in techniques and instruments and so forth, there was a tendency to let go of this.

I believe, and I was talking with some folks about this the other day because of some interesting things that we'd seen happen, that even today, the difference between the outstanding physician and the, what would you say, the run of the mill physician, is basically his diagnostic skills. Most of which must be, because they're all involved pretty much in the same textbooks, an intuitive awareness that enables him to go right to the experience. This of course was the demonstration of, as I said, of Cayce, and this is the thing that Quimby was dealing with and dealing with it quite successfully, probably 100 years before anyone else had even thought of it.

064 Treatment by curative suggestion

Now, he based his treatment on deliberate suggestion. His curative method, this so called mind cure, which, and we'll deal with this some next week which Mrs. Eddy formed into Christian Science. I would say, and I say this totally objectively, unfortunately claimed as her own God inspired discovery. The technique was really very simple.

A continuous round of experimentation proved that cures could come by a change of mind through suggestion without medicine. He began, then, to ask the question, "Why need medicine at all?" It appeared to Quimby more and more that what was most deeply involved in healing was mind. If only the mind of the patient could be effectively changed, cure could result. There was a slow transition to his ultimate philosophy and practice, which is kind of hard to trace, simply because we have only the collection of manuscripts which don't indicate any chronology.

He tells of an experience of his own, when he had been having pains and he went to a doctor who diagnosed his tuberculosis. He began to treat him for tuberculosis. He told him, as sometimes a doctor will, supposedly, trying to prepare a person for the worst, he told him of all the things that probably would happen, which Quimby then began to experience exactly as the doctor had told him. He got weaker and weaker and he had all the symptoms of advanced stages of TB. He felt he was on the verge of death.

Out of desperation, he heard of a man who had found help by riding a horse, which seems rather ridiculous. He was desperate, and I suppose it's no more ridiculous than some of the last recourse things that people do. He was too weak to ride a horse. He went for a drive in a carriage. His horse stopped at the bottom of a hill and wouldn't move. He was desperate. He couldn't get the horse to move. He didn't have the energy to give the horse a nudge and so he called to a farmer nearby. The farmer came and whipped the horse into action and whipped him very hard. The horse ran off frantically. He found himself driving the horse home in a frenzy of excitement. When he reached home he felt as strong as ever and he was healed. The condition had totally disappeared.

Now, he was not mislead by this. He said that what this revealed to him was that the medical diagnosis had been wrong. You see, it also led him to realize that regardless of whether a diagnosis is wrong or not, if a diagnosis suggests certain tendencies in the person, he will have them. This is opening the way to a lot of studies of psychosomatics and the suggestions of the symptoms led him into the belief and then the experience of the condition. Through the experience of excitement, there was almost unwittingly a letting go of all these artificial experiences that were merely mental. It released him under the healing power and healing energy that had been within him all the time.

065 Eric's personal confession as sports fan

Now this may seem interesting and kind of ridiculous but I must tell you, by way of confession, that many years ago, I've had this experience myself. I used to laugh about it. If ever I had a time of being under the weather in any way, without even trying to discern what it was, I've always been, and I have to confess this because some people look down on it, but I've always been a sports fan, an avid sports fan. I get a lot of personal relaxation out of sports events, though I rarely ever go to one, so television is a great help occasionally.

I can remember years ago that because of some experiences that I'd had, I used to always say that if ever I had some sort of a time of being under the weather, if I could just go to a sports event I know I'd be better. The same reason. To go and root and scream and howl. I'm always very much involved in the activities when I'm involved in any sort of a sports thing.

Somehow, as Quimby points out, there would be a releasement of a kind of energy, you see, that because you become depressed under the self-defeating process of the illness and the symptoms and the symptoms create more discouragement and then you have more and more symptoms and so forth, the releasement of all this and the excitement of something else and healing results. Obviously, medically, a doctor would say, "That's a lot of bosh." Then an awful lot of things that are involved in the emotional aspect of illness, which has come in for a lot of research in recent years, would actually be this simple in its ideal. However, this is aside from the fact.

066 The origin of all disease are false beliefs

This is something that Quimby himself experienced that helped him to release, to understand, something of the negative influence of suggestion and how the physical form can take on all sorts of symptoms by direct suggestion of someone else. Then he went on, you see, to consider this even further. He said that, "My theory is that all phenomena called diseases are the result of false beliefs originating in the darkness of Egyptian superstition."

You'll begin to see here how Quimby was an antecedent of some of the very strong positions that Mary Baker Eddy had relative to healing. Though he didn't go as far as she did, he stopped far short. He says, "Disease is what follows a belief and a belief is like an atmosphere, so universal, that everyone is liable to effected by it as by chilly winds. God never made the wind to injure a person nor has he put any intelligence into it, so man should be afraid of it, but man does not see it in this light." He says,

"How often we hear the remark, 'Don't expose yourself to the damp cold air,' or, 'Don't get your feet wet. You'll catch your death of cold,' and so forth. This belief that God made the air an enemy to man is a part of the clouds that raise in the mind of every person. When this cloud is seen and felt all persons, old and young, are effected, for the fear is the punishment of the belief. It is no excuse that the ignorant have no belief so they must suffer for the sins of their parents."

Science, which we should say parenthetically, was Quimby's term for truth. When he uses the word science he means truth as we use it. "Science is the sun that burns up the clouds or changes the beliefs of man. A little ray of intelligence springs up and the cloud of superstition vanishes as the true God appears."

He says,

"Disease is a belief, for an individual is to himself just what he thinks he is. He is, in his belief, sick." If I believe I'm sick, I am sick, for my feelings are my sickness and my sickness is my belief in my mind. Therefore all sickness is in mind or belief. To cure the disease is to correct the error, destroy the cause and the effect will cease."

You see this is the basis of the whole mind cure process that evolved.

067 Does not deny the disease but affirms the belief is mistaken

He says, however, and this is where he pulls back a little bit from the extreme position that Mary Baker Eddy ultimately settled into, that he doesn't tell people that sickness is simply imagination. He says,

"I never tell a person that he imagines his sickness and only thinks himself diseased when he really is not. Disease is what follows an opinion. When a man says he has heart disease or a liver complaint, I don't deny it in one sense. I don't say, 'Now, this is wrong. This is error. This is not true.'"

He says,

"I don't admit the disease and tell him that he has not got it but I affirm that the disease is in his belief and that his belief is wrong, even though we may acknowledge the fact that there is a physical problem. If he says, 'I believe I have heart disease,' and he tells what he really believes and his feelings are the literal proof of his belief. This is the only way I reconcile the truth, which denies disease with its real existence, but to acknowledge disease and deny the symptoms is to contradict myself."

He says,

"I always admit the sickness for that is what I feel and that is real, but the disease is another idea that I deny as having any identity outside of the mind or belief."

068 Quimby critical of doctors and priests

Now, as you can see more and more, Quimby came full circle. In the beginning he was very much interested in medicine. He wanted to help people and he became almost an amateur doctor at one time and then eventually through his Mesmerist hypnosis practices, he began to work in conjunction with doctors in trying to work diagnoses, but gradually, he became impatient with the field of medicine, with doctors and the usual medical approach to the ills of man. He said, and again you'll begin to see how this tremendous resistance toward the field of medicine became very strongly rooted in Mary Baker Eddy, he said,

"The great trouble with mankind is that they are spiritually sick. The remedies that apply only serve to make them worse. The invention of disease, like the invention of fashion, has almost upset the whole commUnity. If physicians would investigate mind a little more and medicine a little less, they would be of some service. This inventing disease is like inventing laws. Instead of helping them, they make them worse."

Obviously, these are very extreme statements. I'm sure if taken out of context as they usually are they can be a subject of a great deal of criticism. There are cases here where Quimby, of course, was very much involved in a locked in consideration of mind cure entirely, without really recognizing both the positive effects of and the sincere people involved in medical practice on the outside.

Another pet peeve of Quimby was religion and the priests of religion. He felt that they had very strong holds on the mind of people and thus they deceived people and misled them and led them into all sorts of negatives and fears. He was often considered an atheist. Of course, he wasn't alone in this. He would admit that one of his goals was to set patients free from religious beliefs.

Quimby was no atheist. He was simply, like Emerson, an iconoclast. He wanted to help people to be free in the awareness of their own, what Emerson called, the first hand and immediate relationship with God. He believed profoundly in the indwelling presence of God and he tried to help his patients to live by this presence in the practice of abundant life or in spiritual healing.

It's interesting that he often referred to Jesus and he saw Jesus not as a worker of miracles but as a practicer of mind science. He often said that Jesus cured people by helping them change their mind. If he couldn't change their minds, there would be no cure.

He refers to a story of the rich young ruler who wanted to be a disciple. Jesus told him that he should go and sell all he has and give it to the poor and then come and follow him. The man turned away because he had great possessions (Luke 18:18-30). He points out that the possessions were strong beliefs and that the man was being tested. If he could give up his beliefs, then he could actually accept the truth, or as he referred to it, the science of Jesus. He couldn't do this. He was so tied to his beliefs. He points out that it is harder to unlearn an error than to learn a truth, which reflects the concept of the ancient philosopher, Zeno, who said that the most important part of learning is to unlearn our errors.

069 Health and the term Christian Science

Now it's interesting here too, and we say this purely in an objective sense. I probably should say before I even mention that there are individuals, and there have been one or two so far, who are so locked in their consciousness to the, what I call, the chauvinistic acceptance and involvement in a religious metaphysical institution that they become a little bit upset and uptight about some of the remarks I make that are very objective in trying to see the whole thing.

Let me just say, then, that I have certainly no intent, and we'll deal with this a good bit more next week, no intent to put down or to deride anyone, and certainly not Mary Baker Eddy and the movement of Christian Science. We are trying to be objective, which is very difficult sometimes for the so called scientist.

Quimby often used the term the science of health. You'll find many of the terms that Mary Baker Eddy ultimately codified that run all the way through the writings of Quimby that preceded Mary Baker Eddy's writings by probably 30, or 40, or 50 years. He used the term science of health. As I say, science to him referred to truth. This was his word for truth, much as Mary Baker Eddy used it. He used this to describe his technique.

Once or twice, again many years before Mrs. Eddy popularized the term, he used the name Christian Science. The term Christian Science, separate of its development in Mary Baker Eddy's movement, for a long time, even after Christian Science as a movement had been established, it was a universal term. As a matter of fact, many are confused about this and we'll talk about this in later years, in reference to the Fillmores and the development of Unity. Many say that Unity was an offshoot of Christian Science because there was a time when the Unity magazine was actually entitled, "Christian Science." Then there was, I think, some other appellation related to this.

It was at a period of time when, certainly separate and apart from the movement of Christian Science, the use of the word Christian Science was very universal. Because Quimby referred to science in the context of truth, as his word for truth, Christian Science was truth in the Christian context. Christian Science was often used as a synonym for truth. People would say, "Well, I study Christian Science," much in the same way as you say, "I'm a student of truth," you see. That has led to a lot of misinformation, but, again, more about that as we go along next week.

070 Quimby's simple method of healing

Quimby's system was really very simple. He would sit with a person who would tell him what they believed their trouble was. Remember, his work was not the study of theology or even the teaching of metaphysical theology. He was basically interested in helping people to find healing, mind cure. He was a healer, purely and simply. He didn't really waste much time in codifying teachers or teachings or expressing himself from a podium. He was involved in counseling and the individual experience of healing. People would come and they'd sit with him and he would have them express their feelings and tell them what they felt was wrong with them.

He would speak a few soothing words and suggest that the problem was really not in the physical illness but in their belief in the illness. Then through his technique of suggestion, he would seek to lift them to a belief in their healing, to believe that they had a larger relationship with the universe and therefore they were healed now and to accept that. Sometimes he used, very subtly, some physical means, such as rubbing the afflicted part. In the early days, even, maybe occasionally, some sort of slight manipulation, though he was not, as we would say it, a chiropractor or anything in this relationship. This was long before chiropractic was discovered or developed.

He felt that this gave the patient the kind of a feeling that something tangible was being done, like Jesus telling the man to go bathe in the Jordan seven times. [It was Elisha who said to wash in the Jordan seven times (II Kings 5). Jesus had his man wash in the Pool of Siloam (John 9).]

Obviously, that was purely a device that was used to give the person a confidence, like a doctor who gives someone a placebo even though he knows there's nothing wrong with him except in his emotions or feelings. He may feel that the patient needs something to hold on to, so he will give him a placebo, which is the sugar coated nothing, so that he will feel something is being done and therefore the doctor is helping me and therefore, often, will get well.

This was Quimby's very simple technique. Actually, Mary Baker Eddy followed her teacher in this in her earlier period and not only did the same thing by laying her hands on and even manipulating her patients, but taught her students to do so. She went through the same period of evolution as any sincere teacher does, and she was a sincere teacher, she later repudiated the practice because she got into something else.

It was in part Quimby's use of this technique that caused people to call him a Mesmerist, much in the same way as if a very profound and very skilled metaphysical healer today, who came up through a background of relationship in a more fundamentalist religion, still, even as he's helping the person to get a new insight in truth and to change his concept and so forth, may still feel the help of laying on the hands as it might be done in a more fundamentalist religious approach. Thereby people say, "Oh, he's just a fundamentalist." Of course, that may not at all be the truth. It may be just simply a practice that he's carried over because it gives people something to believe in.

It was probably this, in part, Quimby's use of this, that caused him, at least him exposed him, to the vulnerability so that he could be referred to as a Mesmerist long after he had totally ceased entirely to practice or to believe in any aspect of Mesmerism.

071 Julius and Horatio Dresser publish Quimby manuscripts

Horatio Dresser
Horatio Dresser / Wikipedia

Now, Horatio Dresser, who was a son of Julius Dresser, perhaps I should reverse that. Julius Dresser was probably the most active follower of Quimby. At the time, Mrs. Eddy was being treated and was in a group of advanced students along with Quimby. Julius Dresser made up for Quimby's lack of education and articulate ability to express and so forth. Julius Dresser helped him to get some of his manuscripts together so that when Quimby died, in later years, Julius Dresser inherited all of the manuscripts. He didn't do much about them.

Julius Dresser's son, Horatio Dresser, inherited the manuscripts and eventually was very excited by them and especially through his knowledge of the influence of Quimby through his father, and his father became an outstanding teacher. He worked on these and edited them and revised them and then published them in the year 1921. These manuscripts, the Quimby manuscripts, are available and they are even available in paperback, though I can't tell you right off, I didn't check it before I came in, as to where. We have had them here in paperback. I'm not sure that we do at the present time. They are available today.

072 Quimby's long road as bridge to modern New Thought

He says, this is Horatio Dresser, after making a very extensive and scholarly study of Quimby relative to editing and publishing the manuscripts, he says,

"It was a long road for Quimby to travel from where he started out. As a believer in medical practice and a student of Mesmer, to faith in an inner or higher self, immediately open to the divine presence with its guiding wisdom. The guide was the love of truth leading the way to inductions from actual experience."

I think we must acknowledge that it was this road of Quimby's unfoldment, which covered a lot of ground and went through many different feels and phases of his life, that created a very important bridge for Modern New Thought. He'd had to swing back, as it were, into the transcendental and converge with Emerson. He'd had to become completely God centered. In the process, certainly Quimby had made the great discovery of consciousness and the influence of mind and thought and faith.

073 Quimby as a scientist of transcendentalism

It's amazing that Quimby never referred to Emerson so he probably never knew him. They were contemporaries during much of the same period. They were born within a year of one another in New England. Emerson was a little longer in his life span. It's interesting that Quimby came to a position that paralleled that of the transcendentalism and the concepts of Emerson. It's doubtful if Emerson had ever heard of Quimby and it's doubtful if Quimby had ever heard of Emerson. At least they've never paid much attention to it. They simply traveled in different circles. Quimby was not a teacher, I mean, was not a reader. He was not a student. He was not a scholar. Emerson was all of these. Actually, they were an entirely different stream. Just as today, I'm sure, there exists outstanding people in parallel fields who've never heard of one another and yet may be doing much the same thing in different context.

Quimby, you see, was the classic example of an original thinker. He wasn't simply borrowing ideas from different people. He wasn't borrowing ideas from Emerson or anyone else around him. He was totally engrossed in his own evolution of consciousness and the practical application of methods and trying to find the means of cure in the best possible, simplest, practical way for people. Actually, he could be called a scientist of transcendentalism because he demonstrated, visibly, on human organisms the operation of validity of things that Emerson simply hypothesized about.

074 Quimby precedes modern psychotherapy

It's probably true the Quimby anticipated some of the discoveries of modern psychiatry and psychotherapy. His discovery that physiological conditions have a psychical cause, the way he describes it is, close to a great deal that is found in case books of abnormal psychology today, though his techniques of discovery would be entirely different.

He anticipated, by many decades, some of the pronouncements of modern psychology. He taught that all of our actions are really reactions. All that you and I say and do and engage ourselves in are not direct actions of our conscious will, but they're really reactions of our subjective conditioning, our subconscious practices. Modern psychology is, today, just beginning to come to this point. Quimby worked with it over 100 years ago.

Quimby discovered that there is an inner or a higher mind and that spirit could talk with spirit. Not the transfer of personal thought, and he made clear in this because he'd been involved in research with various paranormal or ESP activities. What we call today realization, this is a very popular word in modern New Thought. The vivid picturing of the divine ideal of man in perfect health and freedom. Not the influence of mind on mind, but the operation of spiritual power, and again, we should interject that Quimby objected to the word power and he always insisted that the real efficiency was wisdom. He used the word wisdom instead of power. He says, "Wisdom is in all. It can be appealed to in all. It is the creative mind within all. Man's part as a healer is to establish the truth of this in his own consciousness."

075 Quimby not concerned with building a movement

The important thing, and the thing that led to a great deal of confusion is, that Quimby never undertook to found any kind of a system or a religion or a movement on this truth, or science, as he called it. As one person stated in referring to a philosopher, he refused to become his own follower. He wasn't interested in this, in building himself up, in setting himself up as a great teacher and leader. He was just busy as a researcher and very much involved in helping people. He had a touching modesty. He wished no credit for inventing dogma or passing miracles. It is extremely doubtful, as I would see it, that he would have even batted an eye or cared even the least if he had known in advance of the great controversy that arose later relative to the origins of Christian Science, or the origins of various movements. I doubt if Quimby would have even given it a second thought.

Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy / Wikipedia

Eventually he left Belfast, Maine and he worked primarily in counseling and personal treatment. His fame spread and people came to him from all over. He had to make appointments with him for months and months ahead of time. It is at this time, as we will outline the story next week, that a Mrs. Patterson, who was later Mrs. Eddy, wife of a medical doctor, chronically ill, quite likely incurably ill, wrote to Quimby for an appointment. He was unable to see her. She kept prevailing. Finally the appointment was made. She saw him a couple of times and was completely healed. This part is about as factual as anything we know. She then joined the inner circle of students. She had a tremendous respect and fondness for Quimby. She wrote letters to him and even wrote sonnets about him. In the book, the Quimby Manuscripts, there is a lovely sonnet, written in her own handwriting, that she wrote to Quimby, which is available as a record today.

She joined this inner circle of students who met to discuss the Quimby principles. It was probably here that much of the impetus for, at least the organizational evolution of New Thought in modern times, began. Among the circle, along with Mrs. Patterson, later Mrs. Eddy, was Julius and Anne Dresser, who, as we said, was probably the most significant student, and Warren F. Evans, who later became one of the most popular writers of New Thought in the 19th century. Many of the books of Warren Evans are still to be found in used book stores. Some of them are interesting, very profound.

As we said, Julius Dresser was a very important figure. He worked very closely with Quimby in trying to encourage him to get his things down on paper because he felt that they were very profound and very important. He was very hard to work with in this sense because Quimby felt it was irrelevant. The most important thing to him was if he was working with a person, whether the person was healed or not. If the person was healed, that's all there was to it. If he wasn't healed, then let's forget it.

It was very hard to encourage him to say, "Let's see what was done and let's write a record of it. Let's at least articulate some of the principles so that others can study them." Quimby was certainly not keen to publish. He was not at all literary minded. Possibly for this reason, it discouraged Julius Dresser and so the works were not published until 1921, which was a full 75 years after his death.

Certainly, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby was a very profound influence, an influence that probably is more keenly felt in the works and the words of other metaphysical teachers. Even as we said, one could understand Immanuel Kant by reading Emerson, it is probably true that one knows a little bit more about Quimby, certainly by Mary Baker Eddy, certainly by people like Judge Troward, who we will discuss in a couple of weeks, certainly by people like Emmet Fox and Ernest Holmes and Charles Fillmore and a number of other more contemporary people. A very profound influence. Certainly it is an interesting story and there's enough of an evidence, enough available in terms of facts relative to Quimby, that it's not a thing that can be doubted or discredited, even though sometimes the chronology is a little bit fuzzy. That's our story for today. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. Very interesting character.