This soldier has just been killed. He will think that he is still alive for a little while.

Message from a soldier killed by the Japanese

I fell forward into the swampy mud of the jungle, and for a good moment I remained unconscious, in a sort of nightmare.  My body was holding on, while my spirit wanted to escape.  Never think that apparently unconscious people really are;  I wasn’t anyway.  I was conscious but paralysed.  It was a horrible feeling.  Then something snapped, freeing me, and I felt extremely relieved.

When joining my companions, I immediately understood what had happened, when I noticed that they didn’t see me any more;  but I was so preoccupied by there being so little change in me that I didn’t have time to think of anything else.  I wanted to tell them that they didn’t need to fear death and everything that followed, but it wasn’t possible.  Then I saw that the dead Japanese were helping their comrades;  the living Japanese could sometimes see them and hear them and were using the information given to them.  I felt that I should do the same thing.  After a number of useless attempts, for neither my warnings, nor my advice could be accepted by my companions’ brains, I went away, asking myself what I was going to be able to do.

It wasn’t that I wanted to abandon them, but there was apparently no other solution.  I walked in the forest.  For a while, I completely forgot the war and all the trials being suffered by my friends. I was so fascinated by the life that surrounded me!  I know the jungle well;  I had lived alone in it for months and months.  I was coming back to it looking for rest and peace after the torment of the war, and I found there all that I was seeking but better, oh yes, much better.

I discovered things that had been hidden from me throughout all of my terrestrial life.  I can’t describe the beauty of what surrounded me.  The jungle had always seemed to me to be rich in colour, in sounds and in magnificent trees, but never until then had I perceived the significance hidden behind each of these familiar manifestations.  A ray of light, or a sound, seemed to impregnate the very texture of jungle life…

I can’t explain.  I was happy, magnificently happy, and completely myself;  but this self had gained in understanding, and in capacity for happiness, right up to felicity.

Then a voice resounded in my ears, and little by little, I perceived a shining and beautiful form which said to me:

“You see here the country of beatitude, but you have left behind you a country of tumult and passion. Don’t you want to help others to find the key which leads to this place of joy?”

I was so taken-aback at the idea that I hadn’t thought of anyone but myself for ages, that I must have blushed like a young girl.  But “The Shining One” didn’t seem to notice.  I stammered that I hadn’t yet very well understood where I was, and asked him for his help.  He answered:

“No, you have found your path, and you must discover the rest by yourself;  but others might not be as lucky and need help.”

I didn’t want to turn my back on this magnificent place, but “The Shining One” promised to accompany me right to the end.  He explained to me that I only had to evoke this place, and want to return to it, to be back here.  Meanwhile, he told me, we both have to go back to the battlefield.

It’s with regret that I followed him.  We sort of transited, or rather, no, there was no transit point:  our environment melted away and another one took its place.  The jungle moved and dissolved, and another sort of jungle appeared, the one filled with men shouting orders and screaming in pain.  At first, this appeared unbearable to me, but “The Shining One” said to me:

“Come next to this man, he is going to come to us.”

A second later, a bullet tore his stomach, and he curled up at our feet moaning.  “The Shining One” leaned towards him and touched his head and his eyes.  His moans stopped instantly and I saw his spirit abandon his tortured body.  He joined us, pale and bewildered, in the dense vegetation of the jungle.  Before I was able to understand what had happened, we were back in the marvellous jungle;  it was magnificent…

The man who had joined us was one of our soldiers.  He was quiet, and had always seemed boring to me.  I barely knew him.  He never joined in our games, preferring to read.  When he saw me, he livened up:

“I didn’t think that I would find you here, I thought that I’d seen you dead a few days ago.”

I answered:

“You’re right, and a few minutes ago, I saw you dead.”

“The Shining One” looked at me and I understood that I shouldn’t have announced it to him so brutally.  But Burrows didn’t seem affected by the news;  he just said:

“Right, I was hit, wasn’t I?  It doesn’t matter, this battle is horrid, and we haven’t got much chance of coming out of it alive anyway.”

Then he asked:

“What’s it like here?”

I explained to him that it was superb and that he had nothing to fear.  Then, we walked in the jungle along with “The Shining One”.  He explained a lot of things to us.  We rapidly recovered from the shock in this way.  He took us back to the Front so that we could help our companions and introduce them to this life.  That’s what we’re doing now.  I wanted to go further, and learn to inculcate my ideas to those who direct the fighting.  I’m grateful to you for this first lesson.  It’s gone rather well.  But I feel tired, and would like to go back to my jungle, a refreshing source.  I understand that there are different places, all correspond to our state of mind.  It’s like we learned when we were children:

“The Kingdom of God is in you”.

Good night.

4 February 1942.

***

To be continued.

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