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THE INNER ELVIS
A Psychological Biography of Elvis Aaron Presley
By PETER O. WHITMER, PH.D.
Hyperion – New York
Copyright 1996
Isbn 0-7868-6102-9

 

Page 329:
Then, in the spring of 1964, Elvis opened a small, thin book.  Its title was The Impersonal Life.  It had been written in 1916 by Joseph Benner. The book would, quite literally, speak to Elvis. Upon reading it, a door, previously locked tight, was opened to reveal parts of Elvis’s past.  Then, he opened another door, one that led to the future.  He walked through and was forever after a changed man. 

Page 349:
Geller immediately gave Elvis a copy of Joseph Benner’s The Impersonal Life.  Always one to look for symbolism and a philosophical answer to a “yes” or “no” question, Elvis opened the book to discover its publisher’s name: “Sun.”  More revelations were in store.  To Elvis, the style and content of the book felt familiar.  Not a radical departure from the Bible, its tone, however, is not preachy or dogmatic.  Instead, compelling phrases like, “Are you ready?  Do you want to go?”  lure the reader on toward the next topic.  Like the Bible, the book is filled with references to the Garden of Eden, to the Ark of the Covenant, to the Sermon on the Mount, and to Christ.  Nonetheless, it does not use given names.  It does not involve a single human character.  Instead, The Impersonal Life is a wholly personalized approach to a spiritual goal similar to that of the Bible. Benner never uses his own name in the text.  The book is an early form of “channeling,” in which the author acts as a conduit for a higher source of inspiration.  The writing emphasizes the trinity of “I”, “You”, and “Me,” and states “your greatest teacher is in your own home, by your own fireplace.”

It is a do-it-yourself guide to enlightenment. For the ultimate victim of celebrity, unable to go out in public, this was like discovering a portable cathedral-one hundred and sixty-seven pages of wisdom, inspiration, and provocation.

While he would later immerse himself in more obscure readings, The Impersonal Life was ground zero for Elvis’s exploration of the beyond within.  And understandably so.  Benner’s writings made sense of Elvis’s core sense of puzzlement over being a surviving twin who had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.  Benner defines the term “impersonal” as meaning that the powers of God reside within each of us.  All have spiritual equality and the energy that emanates from this awareness.  It is a philosophy quite similar to Teilhard de Chardins’s “noosphere,” Freud’s “oceanic consciousness,” or Hegel’s “absolute spirit,” but much easier to read.  It is a cosmic system where everything fits perfectly. 

Benner further explains that the key to this higher level of understanding and of relating to others in a spiritual rather than physical sense are usually hidden.  They need to be coaxed out through a life of mediation, reading, faith, and experience.  Even once an individual becomes fully aware of the power within-a power that each person has an equal potential –these abilities are still of no use unless one carries forth the message “to all hearers”.

The book is concise, and must have been intriguing reading for Elvis.  In the first half alone, there are repeated word games where, for example, “woman” is reworded as “womb man,” and “imagine” as “image-in”.  Sure to grasp the attention of someone who already tended to look for omens and obscure meaning are phrases such as “study carefully in order to recognize SIGNS,” and the admonition, “in every line is a hidden meaning.”  Elvis was also fascinated by Benner’s axiom that individuality is but an illusion, his reference to “you and your brother,” and the statement that “I am your brother.”

The true revelation for Elvis came in Chapter Eleven, titled, simply, “Use.”  Here Benner says that “enough has been revealed to prepare you for the recognition of My Voice speaking within.”  Geller said that Elvis knew the reference was to Jesse.  He was suddenly galvanized by a direct link between something “out there,” the most personal, private, and painful experience of his existence, and Geller as the harbinger of this new awareness.  A reference followed that, even though written in 1916, Elvis could have interpreted only as directly applicable to himself.  “I may be expressing through you beautiful symphonies of sound.”

Page 351
“Benner said, “that manifest as music, and which so affect others as to cause them to acclaim you as one of the great ones of day, which may be attracting to you many followers, who hail you as a wondrous preacher or teacher.”  Elvis found food for the mind, and he stuffed himself.  He was insatiable.  The book completely validated his spiritual searching's and acted to goad him onward and inward.  The reader’s desire to “delve into all kinds of mystical and occult books and teachings,”  it is said, is an allowed indulgence.  Benner even adds, “it was I who led you to these books.”



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