Saturday, February 11, 2012
Everybody knows that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Although he did not invent crime fiction, certainly he defined it for many 20th century writers who followed his example. Many people know that he was knighted (in 1902) for his service as a medical doctor during the Boer War. Perhaps you also knew that he developed the science adventure genre (different than regular science fiction) with his Professor Challenger series. Want an example? Fair enough.
You might be surprised to know that Conan Doyle was an early member of the British Society for Psychical Research and spent decades investigating psychic mediums to determine if any were genuine. After many years of skeptical, but open-minded, scientific investigation, he was compelled by overwhelming evidence to declare that there were authentic cases of spirit communication. Ultimately, he became a dedicated spiritualist.
This usually surprises Sherlock Holmes fans, who know nothing about spiritualism and are therefore quick to deprecate it or attempt to distance their favorite mystery writer from its supposed taint. But Conan Doyle was relentlessly honest and personally courageous in expressing truth as he had found it. There is no bypassing that the author considered spiritualism the new revelation--a vital truth to be disseminated throughout the globe. We know this because he entitled two of his books on the subject The New Revelation (1918) and The Vital Message (1919). Our book trailer provides a glimpse at these two non-fiction works.
For a writer primarily known for his fictional detective, adventure, and horror stories (yes, Conan Doyle wrote classic horror, too), his non-fictional writing was equally readable, entertaining, and stimulating. He championed many causes in which injustices had prevailed, solved several real-life crimes, and was a proud British nationalist. Conan Doyle wrote about all these subjects, too, to high acclaim. His spiritualist writings, however, are usually dismissed as soft-headed, while, in every other regard, he was considered a highly intelligent, scientifically-trained professional worthy of careful consideration. Such are the biases against what some characterize as zealous religious opinions.
Make no mistake: Conan Doyle was a scientific investigator, as shrewd as Sherlock Holmes in sifting clues and assessing evidence. Truth was always his measure of fact, and he was unforgiving of fraudulent impersonators, exposing false mediums as charlatans, but also championing genuine mediums as worthy of careful study and investigation.
You may not agree with Conan Doyle's arguments in The New Revelation and The Vital Message, but you should give them a fair and open-minded hearing. Sherlock Holmes would have demanded as much.
Where can you find these two books? There are free digital copies available online at the Project Gutenberg eBook website. Click here and here. A digital version (PDF format) of The Vital Message is available at my Library (see our Evergreen Indiana online catalog). The New Revelation is available in the E.I. online catalog, but it is probably a non-circulating copy (from the Indiana State Library). If you have an E.I. library card, you may try placing an online hold on the copy to see what happens.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
The universe is just energy vibrating at different speeds. For some, this seems to trivialize the universe, but I think it actually makes things much more interesting. There could be an infinite number of different universes vibrating at various rates but occupying the same space. You could have somebody (or many different vibratory somebodies) standing behind you right now and never be aware of it (or them) through your five ordinary human senses. (Go ahead; look behind you. I can wait.)
This possibility fits perfectly with accepted scientific facts. But most animals are restricted in their perceptional powers through five sensory channels. What if you had more channels to surf, so to speak? Felines, canines, and most other non-human animals already know how to access additional awarenesses, as the research of Rupert Sheldrake demonstrates. People, however, are more confined in their consciousness, so it takes considerable work to learn other perceptional mechanisms. It can be done; in fact, humans have been doing it for millenia.
There are libraries filled with books exploring consciousness expansion from various religious and philosophical viewpoints. One such work is Genuine Mediumship, or The Invisible Powers, by Swami Bhakta Vishita (Chicago, Ill. : Advanced Thought Publishing Co., 1919). The author's name was a pseudonym used by William Walker Atkinson (1862-1932), who was born in Baltimore, Maryland and later practiced law in the state bars of Pennsylvania and Illinois. Following a life-changing crisis, he discovered the New Thought movement in the late 1880s, and in the 1890s he moved to Chicago, which had become the major focal point for New Thought ideas. He explored many religious and philosophical systems, finding commonality and consensus in their descriptions of a greater reality. He published extensively under his own name as well as a battery of pseudonyms.
Many of Atkinson's books have been reprinted during the past century or more since their original publications, but it is easiest to find copies in digital archives, such as The Project Gutenberg eBook website.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Robert Crookall (1890-1981) spent much of his professional career as a geologist. For the latter part of his life, however, he was a pioneering parapsychologist whose research anticipated that of such luminaries at Raymond A. Moody, M.D., "father" of near-death experience (NDE) research. Crookall was best known for his research into out-of-body experiences (OOBEs or OBEs), but he also wrote several books that delved into the concepts of the nature of reality, cosmic consciousness, and extended awareness. One such book was The Interpretation of Cosmic & Mystical Experiences, first published in 1969 and intermittently available since via various booksellers (e.g., Amazon.com). The book is available through interlibrary loan from various libraries, but finding a circulating copy becomes more difficult with each passing year. Fortunately, it appears that Google Books has a complete digital version of the book.
Like all of Crookall's books, it is well worth reading, if you're interested in the subject of survival of bodily death and spiritual evolution. As a scientist, Crookall demanded a rigorous level of proof to support various proposed hypotheses, and he evaluated the evidence objectively and rationally. He was open-minded, but he used the scientific method to analyze the available information. His narration of characteristics associated with expanded consciousness was highly detailed, and he identified an enormous array of pertinent case studies. Any of Crookall's books will enlighten and clearly explain difficult concepts to beginning readers, and those further along in their explorations will discover much that they did not previously know.
Does Crookall "prove" life after death in this or any of his other books? It is a matter of compelling evidence that overwhelming persuades an audience that certain conditions exist and are true. Crookall presents what he has found honestly and in as straightforward a manner as the topic permits. He maintains his rigorous standards of proof throughout. That alone makes his books worth reading. That they are also interesting and informative is gravy.
William R. Buckley, J.D.
MPL Reference Coordinator, Adult Services