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The Vital Message by Arthur Conan Doyle


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We come first to the messages which tell us of the life beyond the grave, sent by those who are actually living it. I have already insisted upon the fact that they have three weighty claims to our belief. The one is, that they are accompanied by "signs," in the Biblical sense, in the shape of "miracles" or phenomena. The second is, that in many cases they are accompanied by assertions about this life of ours which prove to be correct, and which are beyond the possible knowledge of the medium after every deduction has been made for telepathy or for unconscious memory. The third is, that they have a remarkable, though not a complete, similarity from whatever source they come.

It may be noted that the differences of opinion become most marked when they deal with their own future, which may well be a matter of speculation to them as to us. Thus, upon the question of reincarnation there is a distinct cleavage, and though I am myself of opinion that the general evidence is against this oriental doctrine, it is none the less an undeniable fact that it has been maintained by some messages which appear in other ways to be authentic, and, therefore, it is necessary to keep one's mind open on the subject.

Before entering upon the substance of the messages I should wish to emphasize the second of these two points, so as to reinforce the reader's confidence in the authenticity of these assertions. To this end I will give a detailed example, with names almost exact. The medium was Mr. Phoenix, of Glasgow, with whom I have myself had some remarkable experiences. The sitter was Mr. Ernest Oaten, the President of the Northern Spiritual Union, a man of the utmost veracity and precision of statement. The dialogue, which came by the direct voice, a trumpet acting as megaphone, ran like this:--

The Voice: Good evening, Mr. Oaten.
Mr. O.: Good evening. Who are you?
The Voice: My name is Mill. You know my father.
Mr. O.: No, I don't remember anyone of the name.
The Voice: Yes, you were speaking to him the other day.
Mr. O.: To be sure. I remember now. I only met him casually.
The Voice: I want you to give him a message from me.
Mr. O.: What is it?
The Voice: Tell him that he was not mistaken at midnight on Tuesday last.
Mr. O.: Very good. I will say so. Have you passed long?
The Voice: Some time. But our time is different from yours.
Mr. O.: What were you?
The Voice: A Surgeon.
Mr. O.: How did you pass?
The Voice: Blown up in a battleship during the war.
Mr. O.: Anything more?

The answer was the Gipsy song from "Il Trovatore," very accurately whistled, and then a quick-step. After the latter, the voice said: "That is a test for father."