Skip to main content

Chapter 7 The Spiritual Body — Its Nature and Use

We have seen that the mind or soul is the real man, and exists in the human form. The external body is not the living self. Its curious and wonderful structure and mechanism only render it a form in the lower degree of created things receptive of an animating principle from a higher range of being. It receives its life and moving forces from the indwelling spirit. But between the mind and the outward organism, there is an intermediate and substantial form, called by Swedenborg and Paul the spiritual body.

Between all discrete creations in the universe, there are such intermediates, through which influx descends from the higher to the lower, or, what means the same, from the interior to the external, and by means of which connection is formed and communication is effected. So between the interior soul and the outward material body, there is such an organism. It spans the discrete chasm between mind and matter, connects the two links in the chain of our being, conjoins the soul and body into a unity, and through it they mutually act and react upon each other. It is composed of a substance intermediate between pure spirit and matter, a sort of tertium quid, as the schoolmen would call it, a third something, through which the spiritual principle enters into the grosser body.

But have we any evidence of its existence in our complex being? Is its existence a mere conjecture, an hypothesis, a bold assumption, destitute of any solid proof? Is it a thing taken for granted, and incapable of demonstration? I will not dwell upon the intuitive reasonableness of recognizing such an intermediate substance coming between mind and matter. Nor will I insist upon the plain and positive averment of Paul that, there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” (l Cor. xv. 44.)

Nor need we quote Swedenborg to prove it. The demonstration does not rest upon the authority of any great name. No array of authorities, or long line of unbroken traditions, no marshalling of opinions or personal beliefs, ought to make us give credence to what is not inherently rational, and does not come within the grasp of our intnitions. Modern science does not deal with hypotheses, — that stage of mental growth has passed, — but with positive facts. It is with such solid verities that its temple is built.

It has been objected that the anatomist has never detected the existence of any such organism. Neither has anatomical science, even when sided by microscopical investigations, been able to discover the mind, with its thoughts and affections. Yet there is nothing whose existence is more certain or real. There is a good reason for both these failures. Where a thing is not it cannot be found. This is self-evident. If a man is not in his house, he cannot be discerned there, though we search never so long and sharply for him. The anatomist studies the dead body, the cast off and decaying shell of our being. In this there is no spiritual body. Hence none can there be found. The living inhabitant has vacated his former mansion.

But may we not discover it in the living body? Effects reveal the presence and action of adequate causes. We affirm that it is the seat of all sensation. If we establish this point, the existence of a spiritual body is susceptible of positive demonstration. The material body is destitute of feeling. That it feels is only an appearance which an examination by the light of consciousness shows to be not the real fact. Sensation belongs somewhere to our inner nature. This is admitted in all systems of mental science. We occupy here undisiputed ground. The eye does not see, but something sees through the eye. The outward ear does not hear, but it is only an organ through which something within is affected by the vibratory waves. Nor is the sensation of feeling located in the substance of the brain and nerves. The brain itself is destitute of sensibility, and it has been cut and removed as far down as the Corpus Callosum, without the least pain. The optic nerve, at its base, has been shows to be insensible to light.

These are unquestioned truths. But it is equally certain that pure mind cannot be affccted by the direct contact of matter. This is also admitted. Fire will not burn it, nor does it feel the thrust of a sword. The two substances are discrete. They have unlike properties. So far is sensation from belonging to the interior mind, that the mind perceives it in something external to itself. Consciousness assures us of this. But if sensation, as for instance feeling, is not in the mind, and it is admitted that it is not in the outward body, where must it be placed? Most certainly in an intermediate nature or substance coming between the two, and through which the outward world acts upon our inner being, and mind communicates with and affects external things.

If the anatomist would discover the spiritual body, let him apply the dissecting knife to his own flesh, and the pain he feels reveals it to his consciousness. In this way the scalpel proves the fact of its existence. The prick of a needle reveals it. Puncture the flesh with a lancet, and where the pain is, there it is. For all sensation belongs to this region of our complex being. This explains the reason why, after a limb is amputated, the patient feels a pain in the part as before the operation. The unpleasant sensation only continues where it was, that is, in the answering part of the external spiritual organism. This is a simple solution of an otherwise inexplicable fact.

The external body corresponds or answers to the interior body. The one is the living substance, the other the projected shadow. The parts of the outer are pervaded by the corresponding parts of the inward man, from the greatest to the least. The outer depends upon the inner for its life, and when the former drops off, the interior man lives on. In the chemistry of death, the earthly husk remains in the retort, while the volatile essence ascends to the next higher sphere in perfect human form.

The inner form is the prior seat of all diseased disturbance in the body. Any abnormal mental states, that immediately affect this inner principle, and impede its free circulation through the external organs, so as to weaken its correspondence with the parts, and loosen its connection with them, is the primary cause of disease. When this correspondence ceases, the outward body dies. Magnetic manipulations act upon this department of our being, and go to the root of all diseased action. Hence their efficiency as a therapeutic agency.

In clairvoyance, somnambulism, and the trance, there is a temporary and partial loosening of the connection between the external and internal man, and the subject becomes invested, to a limited degree, with the powers and perceptions of the spirit-life. He anticipates and antedates the state of man in the world beyond.

The reality of the existence of an interior organism within the outward body, has been brought within the range of consciousness in another way. In the case of those who have lost a limb in battle, or otherwise, there remains as vivid a perception of the part as before the mutilation. This is the experience and testimony of all who have lost any part of the outward form, and can be accounted for satisfactorily only on the supposition of an inward body that is not affected by the destruction of the outward organism.

Attempts have been made to explain the fact, so familiar to all surgeons, but they are vague and incomprehensible. The solution is more mysterious than the phenomena to be explained. It is a darkening of counsel by words without knowledge. If there be a spiritual body, or as Kerner calls it, a nerve-projected form, which is the subject of all sensation, everything in relation to the above named fact becomes plain and simple. We may boldly aver, that we have the same evidence of its existence as we have of the material body. In both cases the proof rests upon the testimony of consciousness, beyond which there is no higher evidence, and in which the human mind always rests. It is one of the original laws of belief, and is deemed final in every argument. If we deny its authority, we unsettle the foundation of all evidence, and we may doubt the existence of anything, even of ourselves.

When any part of the external body is removed by disease or accident, there remains the perception of the answering spiritual part, so that after a limb is amputated under the influence of ether, or other anaesthetic agent, on awakening, as it were, to life again, the absent member is not missed, and the person comes slowly to realize that it is gone. But suppose another limb is removed, and still another. Convey them, if you please, to the cemetery. The case remains the same. They are not missed in the conscionsness. Go a step further, and suppose the whole outward form to be removed from the spirit. Disrobe the inner man entirely of its fleshly envelope, there remains the same consciousness of a body as before. The man, the conscious self, still lives.

Such is the condition of the freed spirit upon its entrance upon the life to come. It is conscious of losing nothing that constituted any essential element of its being. It has parted with no life, for the outward body had none of its own. It has been deprived of no one of the senscs, for these belong to the inner and not to the outer man, and when the former passes to the higher realm, it carries with it all that belongs to its nature.

There is in our complex structure a succession of bodily forms, each inclosed, as it were, within the other. First we have the bony frame-work. Taken by itself, it exhibits a rude approach to the human shape. Next comes the motory or muscular system. Added to the former, it fills out the outline to a nearer approach to completeness. Then interpenetrating this rough model or cast of humanity, we have the venous and arterial system, with their innumerable minute branches. These are so diffused, that to puncture the flesh anywhere, even with the point of a lancet, we strike one, and the circulating fluid escapes.

If we could perfectly abstract this system from the rest, it would be a comparatively perfect human form. But the brain with its continuation into the spinal column, and the nerves ramifying from it, is so interfused through the rest of the system, that by applying the point of a needle to any part, we come in contact with it. Taken by itself it would be a nearly complete human form. But pervading this, and diffuscd through it, is the spiritual body, the nerve-projected form. With the nerve matter, the outward vision terminates its range of action. But before the unveiled eye of independent clairvoyance, the inner man is revealed. Then comes the mind with its successive degrees of interiority. Within these, in the living center of our being, lies concealed the divine germ, a spark of the infinite Life. As we progress inward, our being becomes more real and vital. The inner, all the way through, acts upon and into the outer.

The external lives and moves by influx from that which is interior. The mind affects first the spiritual body, then the nerves, then the external organism. Hence all disease being an outward visible effect, we must search for its cause in something further inward. It is a corollary, or natural inference from the principles already established, that it has its origin in some disordered states of the inner man. For there is a pathology of the mind as well as of the external body.


Syndicate content