Thursday, November 12th, 2009
“Writing the book was like an archaeological dig; I had to put together shards of our lives into a cohesive whole that made sense to the outside world.”
Back in July, we interviewed Philip Smith about his new memoir, Walking Through Walls, which explores his late father’s fantastic life and work as a faith healer. Now it’s out in paperback, so we checked in with him to find out how he feels about publishing his story and how people (and spirits) are reacting.
It’s been a few months since Walking Through Walls came out in hardcover. What’s the most surprising reaction (human or spirit) you’ve received to the book?
The response has been amazing not only from strangers, but also from people who studied with and were healed by my father. I’ve been delighted that many doctors have read the book and told me that they are rethinking how they practice medicine. However, the most surprising and satisfying reaction was both human and spirit. A few months ago a woman who had read the book called me up. After she introduced herself, she told me that my father was with her and did I have a few minutes to speak with him. She proceeded to channel my father for the next 45 minutes, and it was quite a conversation. Those 45 minutes were worth all six years I put into writing the book.
That’s amazing. It seems that your father is definitely still around you and that you are communicating with him in unexpected ways. In your previous interview with us, we learned that the spirits have told you that you’ve barely begun to become the psychic healer you’re perhaps destined to be. Have your abilities developed further in any way since you last spoke with us?
I’ve had several wonderful incidents of communication from the other side. Growing up, I would watch my father communicate with invisible spirits just as he would with the living. For him there was no separation between the living and those in the spirit world. However, I was surprised when this started happening to me.
A couple things have happened: first of all there is much, much more synchronicity in my life since the book came out. People and events seem to materialize holding a big arrow that points in the direction I need to be going. Maybe I’m more sensitive to these signs, but it seems as if my father is all over me these days. I think the book woke him up and he’s back on the scene.
Recently, I have helped several people, but I’ve always felt that my father’s ideas and energy are best manifested through my paintings. The Tibetans make paintings called Thankas that provide the viewer with a blessing or insight. Humbly, I hope that in some small ways my paintings can do the same. They all speak about my father in various ways. By the way, the woman who called me up to talk to my father also told me that I am working with a lot of his information in my paintings.
You mentioned that you stopped painting for a while in order to devote yourself entirely to the book. Have you gone back to painting? Has the experience of writing the book had any effect on your creative process?
Even though in my mind, I never felt that I had stopped painting, I was surprised by how difficult it was to really get back into the flow of painting. Writing the book engaged the less frequently used logical aspects of my brain. As a result, it took a while to reawaken the more atmospheric portion of my brain that flourishes in the creative process. It seems to me that the book writing process dramatically increased my sense of logic and objectivity that was not there before.
With painting, facts, or at least facts as we think of them, do not exist. However, in writing the book, I needed to assemble mountains of facts from his archives to make the book accurate. This required a real switch in brain function. Because my father’s life is so fantastic and stretches our very notion of reality, I needed to make sure that I worked exclusively from documentation. Writing the book was like an archaeological dig; I had to put together shards of our lives into a cohesive whole that made sense to the outside world. This is very, very different from painting.
To an outsider, it may seem that the paintings have not changed, but to me they have. They are simpler and much more charged. The lushness has dropped away and the viewer is now smack-dab in the middle of these strange vignettes, like some sort of surreal black and white movie from another dimension.
Now that the book is finished and you’re painting again, do you think you will ever be compelled to write more?
Possibly. When my father was alive, he wanted to teach as many people as possible his methods so that we could move on to the next level of treating human beings and their bodies as energetic entities rather than animate objects that need to be cut, sawed, and chemically repaired. I have received thousands of emails requesting more information on my father’s healing methods and techniques. So as part of my obligation to my father and his work, I do need to assemble his work in some cogent fashion that can be imparted through a book. However, there are some wonderful characters in my life that might make an interesting book as well. I’m just trying to get my sea legs back after a year of being available to the public for the book. Hopefully the next book project will unfold a bit quicker than this one did.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am very, very grateful for the tremendous interest in the book and in my father’s work. During his life, he was not well received and was harassed by the authorities for his ideas. Now, fifty years later, his ideas are finally being thought about and discussed. This is the problem of being a visionary and being ahead of one’s time. But I am so happy that I was able to bring his work back to life.
And, finally, would you like to give us an updated six-word memoir?
Lucky you, lucky me.
BUY a copy of Walking Through Walls (Now available in paperback!)
VISIT Philip Smith’s website
READ Lisa Qiu’s interview with Philip Smith