The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Impulses from Beyond

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Impulses from Beyond is an article written by Mary Conan Doyle, the first daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in the Waterloo Evening Courier on 22 january 1921.


Impulses from Beyond

Waterloo Evening Courier
(29 january 1921, p. 3)
St. Louis Globe-Democrat
(13 february 1921, magazine section, p. 13)

Imagine a group of people listening for the first time to an organ being played. One says to the other, "How's he do it?" Replies come thick and fast.

"He's pulling out a little stopper!"

"No; he's pressing that board."

"Look, now! He's doing something with his feet."

How many of them have heard a note of music? Perhaps there was one silent one in the crowd.

Now, we know that the air pressure in the pipes of the organ produces a sound vibration. We don't question it. It just does! But that does not alter the fact that there are good and bad organs, and to listen to a bad one is a most nerve-racking waste of time, all of which applies very closely to the medium in the seance.

The only satisfying and convincing test is the quality of the teaching the medium transmits. Has it been helpful? Stimulating? Has it thrown light on what was dark? Has it made something that was obscure to us plain?

Material proofs will cover what is material, but they can never touch what is spiritual. The medium may be tied up with ropes and held down with weights, and pass every physical test — and yet fail to give us anything enlightening. The mere proof of being in touch with outside forces is no longer enough. We want more than that now, and we must ask for it in order to get it.

Having asked, let us suppose that the writer's experience is duplicated, and that others have come in touch with forces that are serious and helpful.

The first thing to do, on being assured that those from beyond have something to give us — is to receive it to our fullest extent. If the knowledge given be historical or technical, look it up, verify it afterwards — not in the spirit of trying to catch someone out — but the intelligent follow-up of what has been given. It will also serve to stamp it on the mind more clearly.

If the message is a spiritual truth, then try to imbibe the thought, let it be with you always, till you live — and make the test that way. For, as the truth is absorbed, so the way is cleared for greater and deeper things, even as our own receptiveness increases.

Perhaps one of the first blessings we receive from those who speak from the peace of eternity is the assurance that this horrible little painting whirlwind we call "Time" and suffer under so — is only recognized on this earth.

In order the more to appreciate this future liberation, let us consider the present state of bondage. At present, through all the struggle and uproar, a human being has scarcely succeeded in building up some form of expression — either of the intellect or the emotion — than community-thought goes and wishes old age on him, and he is granted rest to die!

How often we hear it said: "So-and-so is going off... no longer what he was," and such-like expressions. The man may be at the height of his vitality, but the thought sent out casts its shadow, and the shadows accumulate and spread, till finally that man is brought down to earth, as surely as the butterfly net of the naturalist brings down the specimen he would add to his collection.

We are told that beyond the earthlife there is no decay or death — merely a passing from one degree of thought to another, much like graduating from a college or university. They also tell us that there is no space as we conceive it. That is easier for us to grasp than life without time, to punctuate it, as it were. For even to our consciousness, thought bridges all distances.

One can be in New York, and think of someone in London in the fraction of a second, and when two minds are in perfect rhythm and harmony, the vibration forms a positive connection, resulting in telepathy.

Instances of this are by no means rare. We do not realize for one moment how much of our present life is already beyond the physical, because we deliberately blind ourselves. When such experiences come, instead of recognizing in the gift a power, people merely say: "Funny — what a coincidence!"

Coincidences and presentiments are too numerous to pass unnoticed. They come to seem like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle — so bizarre and meaningless in themselves, so natural in effect when the seeing eye places them where they belong. Indeed, the seance is by no means everything in this new awakening. Let us start by recognizing the beauties and mysteries in our own experience. When we begin to think this way, we are unconsciously moving nearer to the force behind things. And as that realization deepens, all the "uncanny" feeling of communion with those beyond vanishes.

Their thoughts are real as ours, our thoughts real as theirs — only not so clear.

Every unaccustomed thing seems unnatural at first because one instinctively tightens up. Take any beginner, whether learning to drive a motor car or to play the violin — they all start with a feverish clutch. And that is thought, too, isn't it?

Another difficulty is to accept simplicity. It has long been believed the souls of the departed are near us, that life continues without a break, but we have failed to preserve this idea in its simplicity. Unconsciously a wall of mystery has been built up round it — a superficial holiness — (for the very privilege of living is holy, whether here or hereafter) — and this conception of mystery repudiates the truth on account of its very simplicity. It seems almost crude in the measure of our artificial expectation.

There is great need to guard against this loss of simplicity, because it has proved a snare before in man's history.

Whenever the face of truth has been revealed in all its power and sweetness the human heart has responded in a great wave of recognition, but then the material rule of limitation starts to work. The vision fades. The emotion wanes. And, from the depth, like a cry, comes the thought: "I cannot hold it longer!"

What comes next? The mind turns to fashionable symbols to stand for what it "cannot hold." And there the danger point lies.

Symbolism is to truth exactly what paper note currency is to gold. The symbol can be all right as long as the truth of gold if there locked up in the consciousness, but when people try to run on symbolism with nothing back of it then they are on the brink of spiritual bankruptcy.

It may well be asked what then can be done to prevent symbolism becoming as a gravestone over a lost idea? How can the original spark of inspiration be kept alight?

By seeking ever the beauty and harmony in those around us. In the simple people in nature. Let us never forget that humanity means more than art. That are turns always to nature and humanity for its material. Man is himself the truest symbol of the divine.

Take the small baby playing on the grass in the park — the daisies crumpled in its pink palms and the loving eyes of the woman watching it. All that goes to make up the humor and pathos and delight of simple lives. No "highbrows," nothing specially cultured and refined, but the three great impulses — love, energy and joy. Faith in each other and the ultimate good.

They reflect the truth, as the open sea reflects the sky, where there are no impediments or complications, such as cliffs and rocks to cast shadows.

"Seek and ye shall find." Yes — but not far off — quite, quite close for the loving heart back of all things wants us to find.