|The spirits of the “dead”
pass through the
that is occupied by the living
and thence into the higher state which is a link to connect the two together -
like the animal and spiritual kingdoms.
~ Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
On Spiritual Medium of Communication from the Spirit World
B: Infidel S: Spiritualist A: Quimby (or Teacher)
Is there proof of any communication from the spirit world? This question involves two ideas - first, what is spiritual knowledge? And second, is all knowledge which cannot be accounted for on natural principles, spiritual? To the last question, I will answer, “Yes.”
Question: Do you mean to say there are two spiritual states?
B: Do you believe in a spiritual state?
A: Yes, I believe there are two spiritual states.
B: Do I understand you to say there are two spiritual states?
B: Can man pass into both ,while the body is living?
B: Do not these communications purporting to come from the spirit world come from it?
B: Is there any other spiritual world that does not communicate with this?
B: Where is the difference between the two?
A: Between the dead and the living.
B: I do not understand you.
A: The spirits of the dead pass through the spiritual world that is occupied by the living; and thence into the higher state, which is a link to connect the two together, like the animal and spiritual kingdoms.
B: I do not understand your answer.
A: To make you understand me, it will be necessary to give you some illustration.
B: Explain the difference between the two spiritual states, so that I can understand where the difference lies.
A: Do you admit there is such a state as is called a spiritual state after death?
B: After death?
B: Well, I do not know that we have any proof of such a state.
A: Well, what will you admit?
B: I will admit that one mind can act upon another mind.
A: Very well. What is mind?
B: It is our thoughts.
A: Can they be seen by our natural eyes?
A: Are not our thoughts spiritual?
B: Well, I suppose they may be called spiritual.
A: Do you admit them to be spiritual?
A: Well, then we agree on one thing; that is that our minds are spiritual.
B: I said nothing about mind - I said thought.
A: Are not our thoughts called mind?
B: Well, I will admit that our thoughts and our mind are the same.
A: Well - is it spiritual?
B: In one sense it is, because they cannot be seen by the natural eye.
A: Therefore that which cannot be seen by the natural eye and yet is, must be spiritual.
A: Then we agree in regard to one spiritual state.
B: Yes, so long as we have living bodies - but destroy the body, and where is the mind or spirit?
A: This is not the question in dispute. As I understand it, the question is not whether the spiritual state ceases at death or continues after the body ceases to exist; but whether there is a spiritual state or not. This is the question. What is the answer to this question? Do you admit a first state?
B: Yes, I admit a spiritual state.
A: Well, as you have admitted a spiritual state, I will try to answer your question in regard to the two spiritual states. Shall I explain the first spiritual state?
B: If you please.
A: As there may be some difference of opinion in regard to what constitutes this state, it will be necessary to ask some questions. Therefore, I will ask if you believe thoughts have forms?
B: I do not know as I understand your question.
A: Well, I will try to put it in such a form as there can be no mistake about it. Can there be an impression, without something to impress upon?
A: If you think of a person - do you not form him in your mind?
B: I think of the person, and that is all.
A: Is thinking an act of nothing?
A: Will you please define what it is - if anything?
B: I will give it up and hear your ideas of it.
A: Well, as you wish to have me explain my ideas, I will try to give an explanation. The trouble lies in ourselves. We admit what we do not believe and then deny that which we profess to believe, therefore showing that we have no belief at all!
B: Explain your meaning.
A: The infidel admits that mind is the result of an organized brain. They also admit that thought is the reflection of the mind. Now they deny that reflection is anything.
(We will let the infidel alone and try the spiritualist, and see if his belief is founded on anything that can stand the test. )
A: You believe that our minds can pass into the spirit world and get knowledge of what the natural man has no knowledge of?
A: Do you believe there is more than one spiritual state?
A: What do you include in the state you call “spiritual?” Are the dead and living all together, or are they separated?
S: I believe that man, while alive, cannot pass into the state of the dead; but the spirits of the dead can come from the spirit world and enter our mortal bodies and communicate to the living about the dead.
A: Have you any proof of this - and if so, please give it.
S: Yes. We have positive proof of it.
A: What is it?
S: Communications through mediums. Do you deny that they are spiritual?
A: No, I do not deny that they are spiritual, but I deny that they come from the dead.
S: Where do they come from, if not from the dead?
A: They don't come at all.
S: What is it that communicates to us through these mediums, if it is not spirits?
A: I have not denied but what it was spirits - but that does not follow that it is from the dead.
S: Please explain where these communications come from that purport to come from the dead.
A: I see you are laboring under the same difficulties that others have, who have not investigated the subject.
S: Give your interpretation of “spirits.”
A: My interpretation is this. Our bodies are composed of animal life, which is called matter, which is a medium of our souls to communicate one fact to another. It is like an instrument to communicate the idea of music. The power can be independent of the body or connected with it.
S: What is the soul? Is it anything independent of an organized brain? Or is it the result of acquired learning?
A: I believe it is something which is independent of matter.
S: Can you bring any proof of its acting independent of the brain?
A: Do you admit the brain is composed of matter?
A: If the brain is composed of matter, does it not occupy space?
S: Yes, but it may be so dissolved as not to seem to occupy space.
A: Well, when in that state - is it matter, or does it cease to be anything?
S: It is still matter.
A: Can it be seen by the natural eye?
S: No - but yet, it is matter.
A: Can it go to another place independent of the body, and there take form, so as to be seen or felt?
S: Yes, I suppose it must, or I must deny all the proof of the mind acting upon the body.
A: This something that feels or sees it - is it a part of it? Or is it something else?
S: I cannot say as it is the same.
A: Then what is it that feels or sees it?
S: I must give up and hear your explanation.
A: The soul is neither matter nor mind, but is that power that acts upon both.
S: In what way is it connected with matter?
A: The soul fills all space and is in possession of all knowledge.
S: Why is man so ignorant?
A: When we speak of man, we speak of something independent of the soul.
S: What is man?
A: Man is a chemical compound of the four kingdoms and contains in his body all the elements of the same. These elements are under the control of the soul - that power called God. Therefore, the result of reason is a chemical action, like the action of steam to machinery.
S: Is man nothing but a machine?
A: In one sense he is, for he is as dependent on another power to direct his act, as a steam engine is to direct it. Each is governed by a power independent of itself.
S: Can this power be seen by man?
A: No, from the fact that it does not contain any of the elements of man. And, therefore, is that that is and is not, and yet is.
S: What is that that cannot be seen, and yet is? Please give some illustration, so that I can understand you.
A: You see yourself in the glass, can you not?
A: Do you see that that sees you?
A: Then there is something that sees and is not seen, and yet is! Again, you move your hand. Is the power seen that moves it? And yet there is a power admitted - is it not so?
S: Yes, but that does not prove to me that this power is independent of matter.
A: Is there not a power that can move your body?
A: Is not your body matter?
A: Is that that is moved the same as the power that moves it?
A: Then you admit a power that is, that cannot be seen, and yet is.
S: Well, what does this power embrace that you call soul?
A: It embraces that power that directs the movement of the mind and body. It also embraces the power that directs all things.
S: What has it to do with minds and thought?
A: A great deal. It is the power that develops all actions.
S: What is the use of a power that makes man unhappy?
A: If properly understood, it makes man happy.
S: I thought you said that man was nothing but a machine!
A: In one sense he is - but in another, he is more than a machine. He, that is his body, embraces what is called mind and spirit. His mind and spirit is the result of an action by another power called soul, which is independent of the body and uses the body to communicate knowledge; like a lever - to communicate power to move weight.
S: Why is man so much troubled with disease, if he is nothing but a machine?
A: I see you do not understand what man is.
S: Well - do you understand?
A: I think so.
S: Please explain man, so that I can understand what he is.
A: In explaining man, I wish you to distinctly understand me; that I make no allusion to his bodily form, but his soul. Will you remember that?
S: I will try to.
A: When I speak of man, I speak of him in two persons, from the fact that they are exactly opposite to each other.
S: I do not know what you mean by “two characters in one,” and yet say that they are right opposite to each other.
A: I will try to make you understand what I mean. You admit such a thing as happiness?
A: You also admit such a thing as misery?
A: Well, these are the two characters I am, again, to speak of.
S: Well, all people admit such a thing as good and bad and happiness and misery.
A: I do not admit such a thing as bad, of itself.
S: You admit such a thing as good?
A: Yes, but I do not admit bad, of itself.
S: Well - what is it that is bad?
A: Bad is the result of ignorance. Of itself, there is neither good nor bad.
S: Explain it, so I can understand.
A: Is there anything in fire, of itself - either good or bad?
A: What is it?
S: Why, you can use it to make yourself comfortable.
A: I admit all that. Is it conscious of being good or bad?
A: Then good or bad must be the result of a power prior to it.
A: Well, you see then - you admit these two powers existing in one person, good or bad.
S: Yes. And will you explain where they differ?
A: They are both matter and are the result of an association. To make it clear, I will elaborate on the two characters. Suppose you should see an object, and you should take it for something very, very beautiful. This would be good - would it not?
A: Suppose you should be convinced it was bad - would not your mind change from good to bad?
A: Suppose you walked up to the object and saw it was nothing but a statue made of wood - would not the good and bad be changed or modified?
S: Yes. But what does this prove?
A: It proves that there is a chemical action on the body, and that is governed by impressions made on the soul.
S: I thought you said the soul contained all knowledge!?
A: So I did.
S: You said there was an impression made on the soul. Now if the soul knows all things - why is it disturbed?
A: Error is not knowledge; neither is impression knowledge. Therefore, when an impression is made on the soul, it is made through the body. This disturbs the fluids of the body, and these fluids contain all the elements that make up reason, etc.
S: Do you say the fluids of the body contain intelligence?
A: A sort of animal intelligence, which is necessary to keep up a chemical action to develop the laws of the soul (or God).
S: I do not know as I understand your reasoning. Why should the soul be disturbed, if it has information of all knowledge?
A: The soul is not disturbed, of itself, but the body is disturbed by impressions, and this produces a sort of chemical action. This action decomposes the nervous system and brings a portion of it into a fluid state, which is under the control of this inferior intellect. This creates objects and all sorts of beings that fancy can imagine.
S: Will you illustrate this idea, so that I can understand it more clearly?
A: I will try to. Suppose a person living in the country, happy and at ease and to all appearances, well. Now his nervous system would be quiet, and everything goes on well, and he is happy. This would be called good, would it not?
A: Well, suppose a person should come from town and call on this person and ask him how he is enjoying himself, and he would first say, “I am perfectly happy,” and the man should look very knowingly at him and reply, “Men sometimes feel the best when they are in the greatest danger.” Would this not be likely to give the man a sort of shock?
A: Well then, the disturbed man received the first shock to his system, and it shows itself in his mind, just in that degree that the system is disturbed. The disturber then goes on to relate all the evil stories his mind can invent. The disturbed man keeps up this chemical action under these impressions, until he is able to create anything that his fancy can imagine. His system changes; his identity also changes; and he becomes a most wretched being. Now this would be called bad - would it not?
A: Well, are these impressions a part of the man's feelings? Or are they something which was independent of the man?