The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

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The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by Admin on Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:58 am

Hi All

Once upon a time I was naïve and accepted the affirmation these were as given to Emma Hardinge Britten by the Spirit of the Reformer Robert Owen at Cleveland Hall in 1871. Unfortunately those were simpler times before I discovered Emma Hardinge Britten’s Auto Biography, The write up of the Cleveland Hall lecture in the newspaper “The Medium and Daybreak”, comments made by Zerdini and the excellent work of Paul Gaunt the SNU historian.

I have drawn much of this information from the work of Paul Gaunt, SNU historian, Involved with Two Worlds the newspaper started by Emma Hardinge Britten and editor of the free electric newsletter Psypioneer. In Psypioneer May 2006 he reproduced his article which was published in Psychic News in 2000. some comes from my own research of material I could find like EHB’s autobiography.

Emma’s own auto biography refers to a séance somewhere between 1861 and 1865 which was held with Robert Dale’s son Robert Owen Dale a committed Spiritualist, Leah Fox (of the Fox sisters) and her husband Daniel Underhill. In this it is recorded that Robert Owen entranced Emma and passed over Ten Spiritual Commandments and Ten Laws of Right, written down by Robert Owen Dale.

These were printed in the first Lyceum Manual published in 1887.

Ten Spiritual Commandments
Golden Chain Recitation - No. 109 Ten Spiritual Commandments

I Thou shalt search for truth in every department of being: Test, prove, and try if what thou deemest truth istruth, and then accept it as the word of God.

II Thou shalt continue the search for truth all thy life: And never cease to test, prove, and try all that thou deemest to be truth.

III Thou shalt search by every attainable means for the laws that underlie all life and being: Thou shalt strive tocomprehend these laws, live in harmony with them, and make them the laws of thine own life, thy rule and guide in all thine actions.

IV Thou shalt not follow the example of any man or set of men: Nor obey any teaching or accept of any theory asthy rule of life that is not in strict accordance with thy highest sense of right.

V Thou shalt remember that a wrong done to the least of thy fellow creatures is a wrong done to all: And thoushalt never commit a wrong wilfully and consciously to any of thy fellow-men, nor connive at wrong done by otherswithout striving to prevent or protesting against it.
VI Thou shalt acknowledge all men’s rights to do, think, or speak, to be exactly equal to thine own: And all rightswhatsoever that thou dost demand thou shalt ever accord to others.
VII Thou shalt not hold thyself bound to love, or associate with those that are distasteful or repulsive to thee: Butthou shalt be held bound to treat such objects of dislike with gentleness, courtesy, and justice, and never suffer thineantipathies to make thee ungentle or unjust to any living creature.
VIII Thou shalt ever regard the rights, interests, and welfare of the many as superior to those of the one or the few:And in cases where thy welfare, or that of thy friend, is to be balanced against that of society, thou shalt sacrifice thyself, or friend, to the welfare of the many.
IX Thou shalt be obedient to the laws of the land in which thou dost reside: In all things which do not conflict with thy highest sense of right.

XThy first and last duty upon earth, and all through thy life, shall be to seek for the principles of right, and to live them out to the utmost of thy power: And whatever creed, precept, or example conflicts with those principles, thou shalt shun and reject, ever remembering that the laws of right are - in morals, JUSTICE; in science, HARMONY; inreligion, THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD, THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN, the immortality of the human soul, and compensation and retribution for the good or evil done on earth.


Ten Laws of Right

- Golden Chain Recitation – No. 110

I Manifest TEMPERANCE in all things. Whether physical, mental, moral, affectional, or religious.

II Give JUSTICE to all creatures that be; Justice being the exercise of precisely the same rules of life, conduct,thought, or speech that we would desire to receive from others.

III Show GENTLENESS in speech and act; Never heedlessly wounding the feelings of others by harsh words ordeeds; never hurting or destroying aught that breathes, save for the purpose of sustenance or self-defence.

IV Speak TRUTH in every word or thought spoken or acted; But reserve harsh or unpleasing truths where theywould needlessly wound the feelings of others.

VExercise CHARITY in thought, striving to excuse the failings of others. Yes and charity in speech, veiling the failings of others; charity in deeds, wheresoever, whensoever, and to whomsoever the opportunity offers.

VI In ALMSGIVING be generous. Visiting the sick and comforting the afflicted in every shape that our means admit of, and the necessities of our fellow creatures demand.VII Exhibit SELF-SACRIFICE at all times; Wherever the interests of others are to be benefited by our endurance.

VIII Be TEMPERATE yet firm in defence of our views of right; And protest against wrong, whether for ourselves or others.

IX Display INDUSTRY in following any calling we may be engaged in; And in devoting some portion of ourtime, when otherwise not obliged to do so, to the service and benefit of others.

X Manifest LOVE - above and beyond all; Seeking to cultivate in our families, kindred, friends and, amongst all mankind generally the feeling of that true and tender love which can think, speak, and act no wrong to any creature living; - Remembering always, that where love is, all the other principles of right are fulfilled beneath its influence and embodied in its monitions.

We shall ever hold these ten principles of right to be obligatory upon all men, as they are the deductions evolved fromthe laws of being, and therefore in strict harmony with the divine order of creation. Man’s opinion concerning science and theology are subject to change according to surrounding circumstances, training, or personal experience; but thereligion of right, morality, and love, and the commandments of Duty, originating from the principles inherent in life and being, can never change until man ceases to be, or the harmonies of the universe are themselves changed.

Now reading the autobiography seems to leave this very clear cut. However, the book is short on dates and misses sections of her life including, strangely reference to either the Clevelend Hall event in 1871 or being in the UK at that time. However there is evidence that she was there and the event is recorded, at that time, in the Newspaper “ Medium and Daybreak”. There is also a record of this in the auto biography of JJ Morse leaves of My Life published 1877 and a full transcript of the talk. What becomes clear is that Emma Hardinge Britten issued a creed which was represented as four Principles
“I believe in God;
I believe in the immortality of the humanSoul:
I believe in right and wrong;
I believe in the communion of spirits as Ministering angels.”
Sge described this as her creed “all of them 1 have proved"
She also added “Spiritualism is wholly unselfish. It proclaimed from the first the Fatherhood of God - that you all admit; and with it the Brotherhood of Man - and that you don't all admit.
She talks about the stern laws of compensation and retribution and then says:
But Spiritualism teaches of that God who is a spirit, of that immortality which constitutes the very gist of human existence, of that life – practice for which religious systems have been established as a guide.
What more do we require to constitute the elements of a religion?

It is clear that the Cleveland Hall meeting made only passing reference to sections of the seven principles and none to Robert Owen

However , Robert Owen was mentioned at another meeting, on 3rd May 1871, Emma spoke at the hall of the Mechanics Institute, Northampton, her talk was entitled ‘THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS!’ . At the end of this the editor of “M & D” reported she electrified the audience by reading the ten spiritual commandments listed above, given to her by the spirit of Robert Owen on the morning before the talk. However there is conjecture about this as the only reference to the event the day before was the paper’s editor and Emma Hardinge Britten had, apparently, freely allowed him to use the Creed from Cleveland and the ten laws and commandments.

Suffice to say at a subsequent talk in Oldham Emma in 1887 Emma recapped on the progress of Modern Spiritualism and redefined her “creed’ as
I. I believe in the Fatherhood of God
II. The brotherhood of Man
III. The immortality of the Soul
IV. Personal Responsibility
V. Compensation and Retribution hereafter for all the good or evil deeds done here
VI. And a path of eternal progress open to every human soul that wills to tread it by the path of eternal good
Looking at the 1871 Cleveland hall creed it is now easy to arrive at the current 7 principles which Emma said clearly came from all the grand work of the Spirits since 1848 excluding Robert Owen finally. By 1890 and the foundation of the Spiritualists National Federation the composite seven principles were complete.

This is the conclusion Paul Gaunt reached and it is very hard to fault from the documents discovered. The only red herring is the Northampton reference to Robert Owen but this has much less evidentiary support.

I am entirely grateful that Z brought my attention to this information as I believe it is vital that Spiritualism a belief rooted in the truth is entirely honest about the foundation of the seven principles.


Much more detailed information can be read at the following place

http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/Decalogues%20and%20Principles.pdf
http://www.woodlandway.org/PSYPIONEER_NEWS.HTM
In this one select the May 2006 newsletter although there is much interesting information.

I must note the work of another Australian Garth Willey and his Woodlands Way Sanctuary in Victoria for hosting these records and his personal commentary n the Decalogues.

Cheers Jim


Last edited by Admin on Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by zerdini on Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:13 am

I agree Jim.

The SNU seemed unwilling to admit this as it seemed easier to claim that the spirit of Robert Owen gave the Seven Principles through EHB.

Many people have been misled over this over the years as is still witnessed in addresses in Spiritualist churches here in the UK and probably elsewhere.

My argument has always been that we have nothing to fear from the truth and to do otherwise is to give ammunition to the enemies of Spiritualism.

"The Missing Link" by Leah Fox-Underhill is a very interesting read if you can get hold of it, Jim.

Thanks once again.

Z

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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by tmmw on Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:07 pm

Hello Jim,

Thanks so much for that very informative post and supporting references. It is amazing how The principles of Spiritualism originated and evolved, all beautifully stated. It gives more insight to some of the missing or displaced pieces of this great work.

Take care,
Lynn

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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by Admin on Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:12 am

I notice that one of the Psypioneer Links does not work.

Here are some replacements
Paul Gaunt published his findings on this in Psychic News 2001 which are repeated in this very interesting journal from Garth Willey on pages 24to 28
http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/Decalogues%20and%20Principles.pdf

Paul goes on further about this in the Error that changed History
http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/2.5%20PSYPIONEERFoundedbyLesliePrice.pdf

and there have been updates as more information comes to hand

Update The SNU and history
http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP3.8August07.pdf

A link between Emma Hardinge Britten and Robert Owen, unfortunately the statement of the 7 principles relating to this is in an 1890 Two Worlds Article
http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP6.9.September2010.pdf


Clearly we run into a number of contradictions in the comparitive stories that can be seen. However, it is absolutely clear that the & Principles did not arrive at the 1871 lecture at Cleveland Hall
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by Admin on Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:15 am

Given Emma Hardinge Britten's close links to America. It is interesting also to see the following article where almost all of the concepts of the 7 Principles are tied together.

From the 1876 American Spiritual Magazine, edited by Samuel Watson, reproduced from the Religio Philosophical Journal on pages 260 to 263 we find this very interesting piece.

“A PLEA FOR ORGANISATION
In every department of life, whether in business, party politics, or in the promulgation of the Christian religion, experience has fully demonstrated the fact, that to be successful, systemized organization is necessary …….

To organize Spiritualists successfully it must be on the basis of pure, simple Spiritualism, and nothing else. There is doubtless much to be revealed yet from the Spirit world to the denizens of earth life; but the following cardinal or fundamental points of Spiritualistic doctrine are generally accepted by Spiritualists, and, if so, what objection can there be to organize on such a platform, for a beginning at least?
1. The Fatherhood of God
2. The Brotherhood of Man
3. The Communion of Spirits
4. The Ministration of Angels
5. The Resurrection of the Spiritual Body.
6. Unfolding Progression through all Eternity
7. Rewards and Punishments. That is, the spirit on laying aside the mortal body enters spirit life no better or worse, but becomes subjected to the natural law of unfolding progression, suffering pain and condemnation, or pleasure and happiness, in proportion to the inner life built up when in the mortal body.
If Spiritualists can organize as a body in America, it will prove a tower of strength.
J. Edwards Washington, D.C., 923 9th Street.”
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by Admin on Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:23 am

Of course this was after the collapse of the original National Organisation of Spiritualists after the 1873 Convention. At this event the supporters of the then President Victoria Woodhull adopted such an extreme platform that progressivley other Spiritualist Associations withdrew from the National Body.

Interestingly through its existence, from 1864 to 1873 this organisation never adopted any unifying Principles. Indeed when it was formed some leading Spiritualists refused to join because they felt it would affect the freedom of thought which they considered to be an essential part Cora Richmond being one of those. Strangely she was to become a leading light in the succesful formation of a new body in the USA in 1893 becoming a Vice President.
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by hiorta on Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:36 am

As Life is an individual journey, the only 'guiding principle' needed might be the simple Golden Rule:

'Do as you would be done by'
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by Admin on Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:42 pm

fundamental points of Spiritualistic doctrine are generally accepted by Spiritualists, and, if so, what objection can there be to organize on such a platform, for a beginning at least?

Interesting end to the sentence, so the man proposing an organisation and founding principles envisioned that they may be subject to change. He also talks about them generally being accepted so the fundamental ideas that founded the 7 Principles were widely accepted at a very early stage.
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by hiorta on Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:08 am

Ah, Principles.

Folk who made the journey from the Christianity of yesteryear to Spiritualism seemed to need a 'comfort blanket' of a half way house, reflecting the fear-based thunderings of their earlier exposure to 'religion'. Everyone must travel at their own pace, of course.

I believe it was Churchill who opined, when asked why Spiritualists were not treated equally to other religions, that 'Spiritualists are a rabble and must learn to organise themselves'.

Vive les rabble! Spiritualists tend to think their own thoughts and know where the responsibility for doing so, lies.

In any case trying to organise Spiritualists is like trying to herd cats.
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by zerdini on Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:08 am

Hiorta wrote:
'Spiritualists are a rabble and must learn to organise themselves'.

Please give the source of your quote.

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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by hiorta on Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:04 am

The source of this is my memory to which I am unable to provide a hard-copy link.

The times referred to was the era before the abolition of the Fraudulent Mediums Act and Spiritualists of that time seeking parity of recognition with other religions.

A personal view is that the overall grip Christianity had on society and the Law made it difficult for politicians to be seen to be 'wavering' in their support for 'god' and be seen to be on the side of the devil. Hence the fudge.

Fortunately those days of black & white appeals to fear and prejudice are now gone.

On the other hand, organisations with a single 'head' are far more easily controlled and manipulated and a challenge to this many faceted emerging upstart that dared to refute the Christian view might seem too daunting. Especially as it was rapidly growing in public popularity, fuelled by the obscene loss of life in interminable wars. The power of the Press was mobilised against Spiritualism, as was every pulpit in the lands.

Probably it was Hannan Swaffer who took and then deflected the greatest criticism, but not only was he equal to the task, he was also a founder of the home circle that provided the foundation for the Silver Birch Group to emerge, bringing their inextinguishable light to so many.
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by mac on Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:15 am

"Fortunately those days of black & white appeals to fear and prejudice are now gone."

Perhaps in the UK for the present but not elsewhere.....

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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by mac on Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:24 am

I frequently find myself 'battling' to explain why Spiritualism (equally frequently I say 'Modern Spiritualism' to distinguish it from spiritualism/spirituality) and explain that in the UK it's a recognised religion.

I don't attempt a detailed explanation how that came about and rarely mention The Seven Principles as I see 'em simply as one means to an end. I also point out that Spiritualism isn't simply the Spiritualist church.

Just getting to that point can be a hard enough task for me!

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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by hiorta on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:34 pm

Silver Birch had said that the label, 'Spiritualist' was applied by anyone who realised that Life is governed by the Natural Law that Life is deathless. Physical death cannot change us in the slightest except for being freed from bodily restriction.
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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by mac on Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:14 pm

hiorta wrote:Silver Birch had said that the label, 'Spiritualist' was applied by anyone who realised that Life is governed by the Natural Law that Life is deathless. Physical death cannot change us in the slightest except for being freed from bodily restriction.


That's a fine simplification but, sadly, rather more words of explanation are often needed in forum work.

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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by zerdini on Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:33 pm

mac wrote:
hiorta wrote:Silver Birch had said that the label, 'Spiritualist' was applied by anyone who realised that Life is governed by the Natural Law that Life is deathless. Physical death cannot change us in the slightest except for being freed from bodily restriction.


That's a fine simplification but, sadly, rather more words of explanation are often needed in forum work.

I agree Mac. If Silver Birch is to be quoted then it would help if the exact quote and its source was given.

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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by zerdini on Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:39 pm

I believe it was Churchill who opined, when asked why Spiritualists were not treated equally to other religions, that 'Spiritualists are a rabble and must learn to organise themselves'.

Hiorta then wrote:
The source of this is my memory to which I am unable to provide a hard-copy link.

Unfortunately memory is notoriously unreliable. I do not recall Churchill making any such statement about Spiritualists.

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Re: The Seven Principles a discussion on their creation

Post by Admin on Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:51 am

Just a bit of an update on this and a reminder of some of the issues about changing or varying the principles.

One of the biggest questions is whether the principles remain relevant. I remember an interesting article about that in Spirit of PN http://spiritofpn.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/are-the-seven-principles-still-%E2%80%98fit-for-purpose%E2%80%99-2/


It seems strange that the Principles of Spiritualism seem to be regarded as unalterable nature and this may be a cause of future concern. I am well aware from comments at meetings that, in the same way that saying the Lords Prayer, which some Spiritualist Centres, not just Christian ones, do, can immediately alienate people who have rejected Christianity the Victorian Paternal aspect of the 7 principles can alienate people, especially female attendees.

However, there are two issues about changing them.
  • 1. That traditionally the SNU has become entangled in the incorrect history of how the 7 Principles were received, miraculously, by Emma Hardinge Britten, from Robert Owen, at Cleveland Hall on Sunday 30th April 1871. A detailed discussion of this is at http://www.spiritualismlink.com/t131p15-the-seven-principles-a-discussion-on-their-creation . The medium and daybreak report from 1871 is here http://www.ehbritten.org/texts/primary/ehb_creed_of_the_spirits_medium_and_daybreak_1871.pdf . There is also a one penny brochure Emma produced, I got my copy from the State Library of Victoria but you can download it here http://www.ehbritten.org/texts/primary/ehb_creed_of_the_spirits_1871.pdf both courtesy of Marc Demarest

  • 2. That attempts to change them have often proved less than successful because of conflicting ideas among the compilers. The change by the Victorian Spiritualist Union in Australia, which Lis wrote about in Psychic News some years ago, is a case in point, particularly as it says on the website, despite the complete re write of all 7 principles, that "The principles were originally received through the mediumship of Emma Hardinge Britten"

The VSU principles are
THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUALISM
:: The creative divine spirit of the Universe whom we call God
:: The unity of all created beings
:: The communion of spirits and ministering guides
:: The continuous existence of life beyond the veil of death
:: Communication between incarnate and discarnate spirits
:: Personal responsibility for all our actions whilst on earth
:: A path of eternal progress open to all souls
As you can see they bear little resemblance to Emma's 7 Principles

The American principles have been changed and added to over many years There current version is
1.We believe in Infinite Intelligence.
2.We believe that the phenomena of Nature, both physical and spiritual, are the expression of Infinite Intelligence.
3.We affirm that a correct understanding of such expression and living in accordance therewith, constitute true religion.
4.We affirm that the existence and personal identity of the individual continue after the change called death.
5.We affirm that communication with the so-called dead is a fact, scientifically proven by the phenomena of Spiritualism.
6.We believe that the highest morality is contained in the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
7.We affirm the moral responsibility of individuals, and that we make our own happiness or unhappiness as we obey or disobey Nature’s physical and spiritual laws.
8.We affirm that the doorway to reformation is never closed against any soul here or hereafter.
9.We affirm that the precepts of Prophecy and Healing are Divine attributes proven through Mediumship

In the end, instead of a long detailed theology we have a simple list of ideas by which to try to live our life.
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