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

Recognizing the Spirit

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Recognizing the Spirit is an article written by Mary Conan Doyle, the first daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in the Waterloo Evening Courier on 5 february 1921.


Recognizing the Spirit

Waterloo Evening Courier
(5 february 1921, p. 3)
St. Louis Globe-Democrat
(20 february 1921, magazine section, p. 7)

There are times when a really vital and necessary interest in our lives gets artificially suspended, either through circumstances, or intense concentration on one line of thought.

What is natural, however, always reasserts itself, and we know the joy it is when the old interest comes bursting through the bonds of restraint, and appears to us all fresh and radiant — familiar, yet with certain glamour about it.

Humanity at the present time, is feeling just this thrill of joy in recognizing the spirit, after having been absorbed for generations in materialism. It is an inspiration to know that all is living — and nothing strictly speaking void. But once we have sobered dawn a bit, we shall know that a new joy ends in a new responsibility.

Thoughts live with intense life. They are incorporeal and know no death. We are ourselves but a group of thought manifested in flesh. Therefore, death no longer squares all debts. Why should it?

We can't lead selfish cruel lives and then at the last hour murmur fearfully: "God forgive me!" and expect that to right all wrongs. We've got to right them ourselves. God's help is there for everyone with a sincere loving thought in their hearts, because God is love.

But love that excluded justice, would imply imperfect law, and that in turn would reveal imperfect love.

People can rush from one seance to another, and gasp with wonder at each new revelation, but it won't avail much, without the recognition that it is the force behind the psychic demonstration, just as it is the force behind the physical life, that is really the spiritual.

In the end, all have to come back to the starting point — the individual thought and life. When these are right, all other beauty is added, until they are, there is no true advance. As technique is the foundation of art, so character is the foundation of life. Both can only be obtained through hard work and there is no getting anything worth while for nothing. The real revelation is that hard work is worth while; and that linked up with the Great Central Force, we are held by no limitation.

Perhaps the most potent factor in throwing people out of complacency into active thought is the fact of injustice. Sooner or later the stinging bitterness touches them — or one they love — and the mind flames up in fierce resentment. "The world's injustice" is a phrase used by many as proving that divine love has forgotten this world. When all the while divine love has nothing to do with it, and humanity everything.

All who try to get something for nothing, or to gain an advantage at the expense of another — are perpetuating injustice.

And until the individual can rise above egotism, mankind must continue to be born and reborn into strife and muddle, until each has squared his debt — and gone on.

Straight dealing in business and commerce can never be achieved until the problem has been worked out by the individual, and gradually absorbed into the community.

Theosophy and reincarnation attract many because of the direct appeal to justice. But we must see that only the means of doing justice is shown — not justice done. All in the end, comes back to the individual thought. If the new is right, the hereafter will be. We have got to solve our problems now, or have them to meet again.

After all, why should this earth be "a vale of tears?" It wouldn't be if justice were done, man to man. And why should we imagine that life elsewhere is going to be so radically different if we go over with the same egotistical thoughts?

It's like the slovenly housewife who blames the inconvenience of her home, for its untidiness, and discomfort; and affirms, that given new clean quarters, all will be so different. We know quite well that the new home, speedily becomes as the old, if her methods are the same!

The first need is just dealing, and the second to be true to ourselves. It is wonderful how the minute a man realizes he is part of a great whole, and becomes true to himself, he is happy, and everything becomes clear to him. Whether he attends a church or a seance, takes a country walk, or goes to a theatre; all helps him, every manifestation of life becomes the onward pointing finger.

But so many live in a state of apathy till they suddenly get a spasm that they have been forgotten, and had better hurry up and pull something off for themselves! The whole while their instinct is telling them clearly not to, but they bore blindly on, and then when the results are disastrous say "how hard life is!" The easiest task become hard if it is done the wrong way.

It's a question of shedding superstition — but holding on to faith! A distinction with a difference. We live by faith — not only is God — but is each other.

Take the network of law that makes up the social order of a civilized country. Its performance is based to some extent on force, but to a far greater tyranny and violence go together, and can never establish anything permanent. That it is only by sympathetic and intelligent framing of laws to suit people's needs that social life can be held together. We have to rely on others being decent and upright before we can get anything out of them. Everywhere one can see this national belief in operation the inference drawn from what we know, out to what we don't know, but rely on quite safely.

To the naturally religious, this instinct extends on beyond the earth life, and faith in man is expanded into faith in God.

The simple belief does not stand in the path of science, nor does it impede the deepest philosopher's thinking. It is when a creed comes into the question that complications arise. And these complications have been rising and accumulating steadily since the middle ages in Europe. They lost some of their ferocity during the 19th century, but only a drop into a quagmire of sentimentality instead.

Then some strong clear thinkers were born into the community. The world got Spencer, Huxley and Darwin, and the whole school of materialism.

In their disgust at the mush of people's minds they set to work to make a clearance, and tried to uproot faith along with the weeds of superstition and sentimentality. They very nearly succeeded. Left us with a clear — but bare patch!

However, the root of faith remained, no mortal hand could harm it and it is beginning to send up green shoots again in this returning spring of our lives.

In fairness, tho, the great materialists were not "outsiders." They came to fulfill their appointed task, and clear up the muddle we had drifted into.

To be just often means to suspend judgment altogether. We know what a man thinks he stands for; but we don't know what the real significance of his life and work is, till after he has passed on, and his achievement is seen in its relation to the whole.

Justice goes hand in hand with tolerance. We have got to allow for freedom of development, and realize that bound as we are by the common bond of humanity, each is answerable only to God for his thoughts. There is a certain reserve natural to this sphere. Even our neatest and dearest are to a certain degree shrouded from us. Often we sense the love rather than see it. Every soul is as a flame guarded by a body, and it is because reality is so wrapped up that misunderstandings and consequent injustices so readily occur.

We must allow for all this in our estimate of others, and remember that the best course of all is to "judge not at all" because a misjudgment is at once an injustice, and has to be paid for along with the other mistakes.