The Life Beyond the Veil
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
The Life Beyond the Veil is an book written by Rev. G. Vale Owen published in june 1920 by Thornton Butterworth Ltd. and including an introduction written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Introduction by Arthur Conan Doyle
The long battle is nearly won. The future may be chequered. It may hold many a set-back and many a disappointment, but the end is sure.
It has always seemed certain to those who were in touch with truth, that if any inspired document of the new revelation could get really into the hands of the mass of the public, it would be sure by its innate beauty and reasonableness to sweep away every doubt and every prejudice.
Now world-wide publicity is being given to the very one of all others which one would have selected, the purest, the highest, the most complete, the most exalted in its source. Verily the hand of the Lord is here !
The narrative is before you, and ready to speak for itself. Do not judge it merely by the opening, lofty as that may be, but mark the ever ascending beauty of the narrative, rising steadily until it reaches a level of sustained grandeur.
Do not carp about minute details, but judge it by the general impression. Do not be unduly humorous because it is new and strange.
Remember that there is no narrative upon earth, not even the most sacred of all, which could not be turned to ridicule by the extraction of passages from their context and by over-accentuation of what is immaterial. The total effect upon your mind and soul is the only standard by which to judge the sweep and power of this revelation.
Why should God have sealed up the founts of inspiration two thousand years ago ? What warrant have we anywhere for so unnatural a belief ?
Is it not infinitely more reasonable that a living God should continue to show living force, and that fresh help and knowledge should be poured out from Him to meet the evolution and increased power of comprehension of a more receptive human nature, now purified by suffering.
All these marvels and wonders, these preternatural happenings during the last seventy years, so obvious and notorious that only shut eyes have failed to see them, are trivial in themselves, but are the signals which have called our material minds to attention, and have directed them towards those messages of which this particular script may be said to be the most complete example.
There are many others, varying in detail according to the sphere described or the opacity of the transmitter, for each tinges the light to greater or less extent as it passes through. Only with pure spirit will absolutely pure teaching be received, and yet this story of Heaven must, one would think, be as near to it as mortal conditions allow.
And is it subversive of old beliefs ? A thousand times No. It broadens them, it defines them, it beautifies them, it fills in the empty voids which have bewildered us, but save to narrow pedants of the exact word who have lost touch with the spirit, it is infinitely reassuring and illuminating.
How many fleeting phrases of the old Scriptures now take visible shape and meaning ?
Do we not begin to understand that "House with many mansions," and realize Paul's "House not made with hands," even as we catch some fleeting glance of that glory which the mind of man has not conceived neither has his tongue spoken ?
It all ceases to be a far-off elusive vision and it becomes real, solid, assured, a bright light ahead as we sail the dark waters of Time, adding a deeper joy to our hours of gladness and wiping away the tear of sorrow by assuring us that if we are only true to God's law and our own higher instincts there are no words to express the happiness which awaits us.
Those who mistake words for things will say that Mr. Vale Owen got all this from his subconscious self. Can they then explain why so many others have had the same experience, if in a less exalted degree ?
I have myself epitomized in two small volumes the general account of the other world, drawn from a great number of sources. It was done as independently of Mr. Vale Owen as his account was independent of mine. Neither had possible access to the other. And yet as I read this far grander and more detailed conception I do not find one single point of importance in which I have erred.
How, then, is this agreement possible if the general scheme is not resting upon inspired truth ?
The world needs some stronger driving force. It has been running on old inspiration as a train runs when the engine is removed. New impulse is needed. If religion had been a real compelling thing, then it would show itself in the greatest affairs of all — the affairs of nations, and the late war would have been impossible. What church is there which came well out of that supreme test ? Is it not manifest that the things of the spirit need to be restated and to be re-coupled with the things of life ?
A new era is beginning. Those who have worked for it may be excused if they feel some sense of reverent satisfaction as they see the truths for which they laboured and testified gaining wider attention from the world. It is not an occasion for self-assertion, for every man and woman who has been honoured by being allowed to work in such a cause is well aware that he or she is but an agent in the hands of unseen but very real, wise, and dominating forces. And yet one would not be human if one were not relieved when one sees fresh sources of strength, and realizes the all-precious ship is held more firmly than ever upon her course.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.