Chapter 2

The Human Engine and the Life Current

by William Benham

Mankind are earthen jugs with spirits in them.


The human body is the earthly tenement of the mind or soul. In its construction and operation is very like a mechanical engine.

Every mechanical engine is built upon the plan that will best enable it to do the kind of work it is intended to perform ; some are so small that their mission is to become the interior works of a watch; some are built to propel a locomotive at high speed, and others to furnish power to some gigantic manufacturing establishment.

In each case the plan of construction and size varies in accordance with the work to be done. The engine, no matter what may be its magnitude or power, is only a shell, a thing of great possibilities, but entirely useless and inoperative until the driving or propelling force which is to set it in motion is applied. This driving force is in some cases steam, in others water-power, compressed air, electricity, or, as in the case of the watch, the mainspring. In whatever way the compressed energy or driving power is generated, it is made available only by combining a large number of primary elements and forces.

Thus with steam, water is necessary, a boiler to hold it, fire to heat the water, a place in which to burn the fire, and fuel with which to build it. All other driving forces are in the same way made up from distinct and separate elements which, combined, will produce their particular kind of power.

The engine is useless without the driving force which operates it. The driving force only wastes itself in the air if it has no engine to operate.

The human body is the human engine. It is built for specific purposes. But it is entirely useless without the proper driving force behind it.

In its first stages of growth, the human body is a mere piece of protoplasm ; it is not until the dawn of mind and the awakening of intelligence manifest themselves that the hu-man embryo becomes a human being. We all know that life, the vital spark which enters our body and sets in motion the organs of mind and sense and makes us live, comes into us from a source outside of ourselves.

The child before it is born is truly a human being, but it is alive only as any other organ of the mother’s body is alive, viz.= it acts in a mechanical way and has motion.

This unborn child while in the process of formation, is getting ready to live, to think, and act, but until the vital spark of intelligence is projected into it, it does not really live. Just as the nose will become the future organ of the sense of smell, the ear of hearing, the eye of sight, so the lines in the hand are prepared and in the hand, ready to receive the spark that will set the entire machinery in motion.

When the vital spark of life has entered the body, as we believe through the ends of the fingers, and causes the nose, eyes, and ears to perform their functions, it at the same moment causes the hand to do its part.

The unborn child does has not life in the fullest sense. The corpse has not life which has departed. You or I cannot impart life to either, neither can they impart life to themselves.

There is some omnipotent force outside of us all that gives life and takes it without consulting our wishes.

Some have called this force=

  • Buddha
  • Ether
  • Electricity
  • God
  • the influence of the Planets

Whatever the name, the result is the same. But for Palmistry this is called a life current that runs through the human body, coming from an outside source.

When the child is born, before it has given the first cry, or breathed air, the fingers extend with a quick, spasmodic jerk. They stand perfectly straight and rigid. Following this involuntary motion of the hands, the lungs take in air, and a cry escapes from the lips.

Shortly after, the child feels hunger, and the hand goes at once to the mouth.

The brain is acting, and directing her servant, the hand, which seeks to carry food to the mouth, the proper place to receive it.

Thus from the first moment of life, the hand takes its place as the servant of the brain, and I believe that at the moment the fingers of the child extend, and become straight and rigid, that life, the vital spark which sets the human machinery in motion, awakens the mind, and habilitates the senses, is projected into the child through the ends of the rigid fingers, and thus becomes the gift of God to His creature. But I do not ask you to believe in any name for this outside force.

As months roll into the first year, less sleep and less feeding are necessary, and as years increase and mind develops, the trend of its thought begins to manifest itself.

During all this time the brain is unfolding, and the hand is changing from the fat little sensual hand of the baby, and taking whatever shape is distinctive to the type to which the child belongs. Up to the age of twelve to fourteen years, the hand is as unformed as the character of the child; but as this age marks the transition from the child to the adult, soon after it is passed the character and hands will begin to assume the proportions which are to guide it in the future.

This is the time when a scientific estimate of the character of the child - its type, whether good, bad, or weak in development, together with a knowledge of all the forces back of it - would be of inestimable value to a parent.


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