Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Can a Spirit Have Flesh and Blood?Portland, May 1862
Can a spirit have flesh and blood? I answer, “No.” For a spirit is nothing but a shadow - either of a belief or a substance. If a person knows anything, the shadow of the thing known is a spirit; so if we call ourselves a substance, the shadow is a spirit - not a substance.
Truth is a solid and makes no shadow. Wisdom never makes a shadow; but ignorance is simply a shadow of something that exists as a belief. Life is a solid, not a shadow; and as it is attached to a belief (or matter), our life seems to act in the matter; but in life there is no matter, except as we admit it. We do admit it; therefore, all things are based on this belief.
Our senses are our life, and therefore are solid. As man is known to himself in his belief (or matter), he has no idea of himself outside of matter; so that he can be in but one place at a time, according to his belief. Therefore, if I am talking to a person, I monopolize him for a time. Now this is a false idea. The person to whom I am talking may be present at as many places as his wisdom can comprehend.
As I sit and write this, alone, I have no doubt but that many persons may be present to listen and talk upon the subject; and yet not one is aware, in the natural world, of any change in himself. You ask for proof of all this. I have it. A person in a mesmeric state can ask a question of any person at a distance and get a correct answer - and yet the person not know that any question has been asked or answered. When man knows himself, he will see that the thing called “man” is but a very little real identity.
In regard to getting communications from our friends who have died - there is a great error. The person who sends a letter to the medium supposes the spirit friend comes and influences the medium's hand to write, because the answer comes without the medium knowing either party. Here is the mistake. Everyone who believes in the spirit world addresses a letter, as he would to a living friend who lives at a distance, supposing that the friend knows nothing of the request, till he or she is called up by the medium. This is not the case. The person is a part of the friend, and when he addresses the person, the answer is in the question; and if the medium is in a perfect state, he can see the answer, as well as the question.
If you ask a person, whom you call “dead” a question, the wisdom of your friend is with you - but it does not prove that your friend is aware that you asked the question, any more than he is aware of answering it; yet the answer comes and is satisfactory.
I will relate an experiment that I performed with my subject, Lucius, in mesmerism. I asked any person in the room to give me a name of an individual written on a slip of paper. I would send the boy to find the person - dead or alive; which he would do, bringing him into the room and describing him to the audience.
On one occasion a name was handed to me which I gave, as usual, to the boy. He said this was a man who had a wife and three children; that he left his chest of tools in a barn and had gone direct to Boston. I told him to follow the man. So he went and said he had found him in Ohio, in a cooper's shop; that he had died. Still I told him to find him. Finally he said he had found him, and I told him to bring him before the people and describe him.
Said he, "Can't you see him? He stands here."
I told the boy that he was in a mesmeric state. (He could never understand this, but admitted it, because I said so. To him there was no change; he had all his faculties, and his identity was as perfect as when awake. He expressed fear and joy at what he saw, as much as though he had been in a waking state.)
I said, "Describe him." He commenced, giving a general description, and I stopped him, saying, “If there is any peculiar trait or feature about him, mention it.”
"Well," said he, "I should think anyone might know this man by his hare lip."
I asked the person who gave me the name if this description was correct, and he said it was, in every particular. Here was a clear case of spiritualism. The subject would read sealed letters; he would go to a distant place and ask a person a question and get an answer - and yet the person would not be aware of answering any question.
The year that Mr. Dunn was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives in this state, I sent the boy from Belfast, in a mesmeric state, to Augusta to Mr. Abbott, then Representative from Belfast, to inquire who was elected Speaker. He asked Mr. Abbott who was making a speech and received the answer that Dunn had a certain majority, naming it. This was before the vote was cast. A letter was sent to a gentlemen by one who was present when this experiment took place, mentioning the fact; and from some cause, he had neglected to open it until after the vote was taken - when he found that it agreed. Here you see he got a fact, before it was known to the world.
When at Eastport, I put a lady into a mesmeric sleep, who wished to go to New Hampshire to see her friends. I accompanied her. She would smile and bow, and I asked her to whom she bowed. She said, “It is our postmaster.” She then said, “We have now gotten home. Here is where my father lives.” We went into the house. She said, “Our folks are baking.”
I asked her if her father was at home and if she would introduce me, and she went through the ceremony. I said, “Ask your father if anything has happened since you left home.”
At this she started and turned pale and seemed agitated. Upon asking what was the trouble, she said that her uncle was dead; that he came there and was taken sick and had died on such-a-day; and how, mentioning both, her aunt - who came to take care of him had been sick but had recovered, and her brother had carried her home. All this was confirmed in a few days, by letter. Her uncle, Dr. Richardson, sent me a letter which I have in my possession, stating that all she had said was literally true.
I might give many experiments, showing that we don't know ourselves. When I sit by the sick, they tell me their feelings; yet they know it not through their natural senses. Neither am I aware of their presence (or feelings) through the natural organs. But every person has two identities - one, the substance and the other, the shadow. To me, the natural man is the shadow - but to himself, he is the substance, and all that he cannot comprehend is shadow.
A person in a mesmeric state proves to a person in a waking state that there are two states - and each is a mystery to the other. The one in a waking state cannot see how a person can be dead to the waking state and still retain his own identity and be, to himself, the same person as before, and when he comes into the natural state, the mesmeric state is lost. The mesmerized person cannot understand why the person in the natural state cannot know what he knows in the mesmeric state. So each one is a mystery to the other.
Here is the fact. Wisdom has no shadow; a belief has one. A fact is not a solid. For instance, there is a stone - that is a fact; and it casts a shadow. The stone, being the invention of man - it is matter, according to our belief; and this belief makes it a shadow.
Man acts either by his belief or his wisdom. When he is in his wisdom, he is, to opinion, a spirit; but to him, he is himself - with all his belief. So as his belief makes him act in matter, every act is in his belief; and the acknowledging of matter depends on his belief. Jesus, to the world, was dead; so to the world, he was a spirit - but to himself he was alive and had flesh and blood.
Wisdom makes a man know himself, and when he does know himself, he can be in two places at once. This proves to man that, as he rises from error into truth and knows it - he has two identities; one in the body and one, outside. To know this is to understand it, so that you can put your wisdom into practice for the benefit of those who suffer for the sins of their belief.