The Military Value of Spiritualism

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Military Value of Spiritualism is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in Light on 11 may 1918.

The Military Value of Spiritualism

Light (11 may 1918, p. 147)

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This question of military value is one which has not been sufficiently dwelt upon. When a man is convinced, not as a matter of faith but as a matter of personal knowledge, that death is the door which leads to a very homely and happy life with the same individuality, the same body, save for some improvement, similar surroundings and similar pleasures, save that they are more intense and more refined, it is obvious that his fear of death is lessened and his military value as well as his personal peace of mind increased.

As an illustration, I quote an extract from the letter of a fine young soldier whom I had the opportunity of influencing. He says: "Those few short hours of conversation with you have altogether altered my feelings with regard to death. The description of life over there impressed me and pleased me immensely. It takes all the horror away from being killed, and almost makes one wonder whether it is worth worrying about anything so long as one does one's job to the best of one's ability. I feet now that I can go into the line and stick it ever so much better than I could before. It seems so tangible — so natural."

This letter only came two days ago, and the writer is already in the line, testing the results of his knowledge.

In that interesting and valuable hook, "Do Thoughts Perish ?" (a book which must have been in the press at the same instant as "Raymond," and which confirms Sir Oliver upon many points) the deceased subaltern writes: "If the chaps on the front could realise — which they can't, I know — but if they could see the wonderful and miraculous change which comes in a moment to them, there would be no apprehension of death, but they would leap into this life, possibly before their task was over. That is what makes me hesitate to say more. For to me it seems that if they could see through the dividing line, they wouldn't waver, but would jump for it, which would be wrong; for they have got to do their job first, and do it well all the time, if they want to find themselves in the right place over here."

It seems to me that if some attempt were made to place the results of modern psychical research before our fighting men — handling the various sectarian views which they may hold as tenderly as is consistent with truth — great good might come of it.