Some thoughts from a talk I was helped to write on 21st Sept

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Some thoughts from a talk I was helped to write on 21st Sept

Post by Admin on Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:35 am

Recently I saw a video produced by the Open Door Spiritualist Sanctuary in Canada. It was a journey by members of that centre on a pilgrimage into the history of our movement. Inter woven through the video were pictures of the places, of the pioneers and some of their selected writings.

I found the presentation inspiring because, as a student of Spiritualism, I had seen some of the people and places before but I had never seen it pulled together in the way they managed to do this. (Link https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=726201854083935&set=vb.162945727076220&type=2&theater )

Inspiring but sad too, because far too many people who are now either involved in mediumship, or in Spiritualist centres have ever really looked back on the rich and enlightening 166 year  history of our movement. Indeed I realised that because this underlying basis of Modern Spiritualism has either been diluted, or almost forgotten, then the philosophy becomes lost as well. The vacuum left is filled by a wide range of ideas because, isn’t anything spiritual included in Spiritualism.

The fact is that there are many things which are spiritual which are not Spiritualism. There are many spiritual pathways people can follow that do not belong to Spiritualism. To cite some examples, being a monk and living a cloistered life of reflection on Christ is clearly Spiritual, life as a Buddhist Monk must be seen as spiritual, someone who meditates daily to try and perfect themselves is spiritual, for a Wiccan handfasting and spell casting are spiritual acts and even those carrying out atrocities in the name of Islam could claim to be following a spiritual path.  Before we raise voices about this remember the Catholic Churches atrocities under the Auto De Fe, throughout Europe and Southern America, indeed the last recoded one was not of people but Spiritist books shipped into Spain in the 1860’s and burned as heresy.

I could add more and more items to that and include topics people find interesting along the more paranormal or alien topics which may neither be spiritual or Spiritualism.

Modern Spiritualism is a simple philosophy (belief if you like because we accept God) with a cornerstone based upon mediumship. The very act which founded our movement was the first recorded communication between the spirit of an ordinary person with people living a physical life. The movement is based upon a truth, that in certain circumstances the Spirits of our departed can communicate with us through the intermediary of a medium. It is always worth remembering that; mediumship is just that, a communication from spirit, neither psychic nor fortune telling. The philosophy of Spiritualism is about dealing with the consequences that fall out from that fact.
It is a simple philosophy because it looks at the elements which derive from communication. Spiritualists realised that everyone who went into the Spirit Realms could communicate, there was no barrier for sex, race, religion, or even moral character. The very good and the very bad were all able to make contact.

They realised that, if the Spirit Realms did not discriminate, then neither should we. Not surprisingly this had some major impacts in a developing movement, Spiritualism was the first movement which empowered women to speak and to take authority, it championed the women’s’ rights movement and the anti-slavery campaign. Indeed it would go on to be active in championing workers’ rights in a harsh industrial environment. In almost every sense Modern Spiritualism started life as a radical movement.
This was not about the spiritual path of any individual in the movement, each person could chose a different path, howver, it was about a collectively enlightened outlook upon how people should live and respect all others. Indeed for many years Spiritualism did not organise because they felt that the proof of survival was so important that it must be accepted by every religion. They presumed that as the religions accepted this news and integrated it into their own teachings it would bring about change in our world.

However, this was not to be. Belatedly the Anglican Church produced a favourable report in the 1930’s but they supressed this, until a leaked copy was published in full by Psychic News on the 8th November 1947 (the church released the report finally in 1979). Italian Franciscan Father Gino CONCETTI from the “Osservatore Romano” gave an interview – not officially for the Vatican, but tolerated by it indicating that it was alright for people to seek communication with their loved ones in Spirit. This could be through mediums, but by choice spiritual one’s who did not practice any occultism and preferably were priests. No such breakthrough has occurred in Islam, despite considerable interest on mediumship and Spiritualism from some influential Egyptian Muslims in the 1920’s. To Islam we still  communicate with Djinns (but even now Theosophists say we communicate with the astral remnant until it fades away, the cause of Emma Hardinge Britten’s split from them despite being a founding committee member).

In the face of official rejection Spiritualism organised as a religion both in the USA and UK, through central bodies formed for that purpose. Both countries adopted a set of Principles which Spiritualists should follow. In Australia, whilst we are a religion we have no formal body and are not nationally recognised as one; albeit most churches adopted the UK’s Seven Principles.

These bodies have a tremendous history and many great thinkers have written upon mediumship andphilosophy. We also have some wonderful teachings from Spirit such as the those of Silver Birch and the books of Stainton Moses.

However, despite the Victorian nature of the wording it is our principles which define us.
• The Fatherhood of God.
• The Brotherhood of Man.
• The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels.
• The Continuous Existence of the Human Soul.
• Personal Responsibility.
• Compensation and Retribution Hereafter for all the Good and Evil Deeds done on Earth.
• Eternal Progress Open to every Human Soul.

In simple terms we acknowledge the existence of God and the underlying equality of all mankind. That Spirit can communicate with us to give solace, remembrance, love and help. We affirm that our soul and personality continues on after physical death. We also remind ourselves that we are personally responsible for our actions or inactions in life and that this is a critical stage in our future life in Spirit. This is because, when we reach those realms, Spirit will help us review all aspects of our life as a means for learning and growth.

We also avow that eternal progress is open to all no one will be left behind through the infinite compassion of Spirit.

There is nothing within this that tells us how we should achieve that purpose. We are not told we must or must not do things. It is about living a normal physical life in whatever way you choose but trying to do so within the framework of those guidelines. People can try, or inquire, about anything but it will not override the simple teachings encompassed in these principles and the natural laws of te universe will never be overridden.

Indeed remembering the nature of our principles can help to become discriminating about other, maybe newer or trendy teachings. We know from the lessons we have learned from Spirit r that no one is perceived as “special” and that Spirit will not act to further any group of special beings no matter how far in advance of others they see themselves to be. The ascencion of a specific group to the detriment or harm of others will not happen.

Looking within the concepts we find that the life review replaces the concept of Karma and our philosophy does not teach any form of enforced reincarnation. This would be by choice and mainly to help mankind, but there are many other classrooms where development can be achieved and many ways to help mankind.

Spiritualism is a rational, thinking movement which always asks people to think through whatever you run into in life and make as wise a choice as you can at that point in your physical journey. To a great extent it does not demand anything except living as well as you can and treating each other with respect.

We do not actively seek converts but leave people their own free will to choose. In reality it is a unique philosophy but then it should be because it is the only religion which acknowledges everyone is in fact immortal, the afterlife is not in the ownership of any one religion, the Spirit world is the home to everyone.
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Re: Some thoughts from a talk I was helped to write on 21st Sept

Post by mac on Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:56 am

I can wholeheartedly agree with most of what you've written, Jim, but you're preaching to the converted on this website where many or most of us already know and accept the fundamentals of Spiritualism....  

Where I may disagree a little is about the importance of needing to know about the history of the emergence and development of the movement to avoid dilution of the philosophy and the inclusion of non-Spiritualist aspects.

I hope I'm seen as an online drum-banging Spiritualist - it's certainly a stance I've adopted even though at the same time I may also say to cognoscenti that I fear the movement may be moribund.  I do know how and why things evolved as they have but I'm not a historian and couldn't present details.

That doesn't, however, prevent my presenting the fundamentals that underpin Spiritualism and from pointing out for example, time-after-time, why 'psychic' doesn't automatically mean medium or mediumship.  Yet there's an absurdity that our once-mighty Spiritualist newspaper, once justifiably claiming to be the voice of Spiritualism, is called  'Psychic News'!  No matter because few read it now or care about its title anyway.  (additional comment: It once proclaimed it was the Spiritualist newspaper. The cover of the July 24 2010 edition saw 'The independent Voice of Spiritualism 1932 - 2010'. Nowadays it reads 'DEVELOPING YOUR MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT' with no mention of Spiritualism on its front cover.  correction: I've been informed that PN, this month, was reflecting the holding of the MBS event at Olympia after which I assume it will return to a format which does indicate it as a Spiritualist newspaper )

Where we're really hobbled, though, is that psychic and mediumistic have been confused throughout the whole of the past umpteen years that Modern Spiritualism has been around.  Correct me if I'm wrong about that though.  It's been a moan for decades, if not longer, that the standard of mediumship is deteriorating.  If we can't demonstrate high-quality mediumship predictably and reliably then it's that aspect that most undermines the message found in Spiritualist philosophy - not ignorance about the roots of the movement.

Like it or loath it the folk I 'meet' online are more interested in physical phenomena, near-death-experience and past-life recall than they are hearing about mediums from the past.  Indeed these new generations don't accept the Spiritualist definition of mediumship - good god I've lost count of how many have fallen about with me when I've tried to present the simple meaning that mediumship has for us.  I've been told in no uncertain terms that 'my' mediumship is just wrong and that the word means something altogether different to them.  I was even banned from one website because I constantly pointed out to other members that what they were writing just didn't belong in the forum entitled 'Spiritualism'.  

Maybe the online community isn't representative of people generally but maybe it actually is and if so then it's no wonder that the Spiritualist message doesn't appeal, and may never again appeal, unless it's presented differently from the way it's been in the past.

ps  A few minutes after posting this I took my daily look at the 'Forum' of Psychic News's website.  As per usual there was nothing new but I then decided to take a look at the 'Home' page where there's an advert for the latest edition.  Interestingly the front cover of Psychic News, under its title, says 'DEVELOPING YOUR MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT'  - I wonder if that's in line with the MBS (mind, body, spirit) days held in local pubs?  And no mention now about Spiritualism!  see above


Last edited by mac on Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:36 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : additional material and subsequent corrections)

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Re: Some thoughts from a talk I was helped to write on 21st Sept

Post by Admin on Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:23 am

Thanks for the comments Mac, In regard to Psychic News I can only assume that Sue has decided to go for a broader audience in the hope that they may pick up on the few pieces of Spiritualism it does cover. I suspect there is a commercial need to reach a bigger circulation too. Lis and I subscribe but we have history with PN and David Hopkins writes some thought provoking articles at times with a tip of his hat at our philosophy.

In terms of history we now have the SNU's Pioneer magazine and the excellent Psypioneer. It is our philosophy which does get lost. To me the history and the development of the philosophy are well worth following.

However, I was always a historian at heart, if my A level history had not lost me to boredom in the "Crucible of Democracy" the Tudor and Stewart period I may have tried that path. My school had an unexciting choice so I was doing pure maths (I asked the teacher what is the point of pure maths, all he could tell me was its Pure Maths leaving me with an abiding hatred of differential calculus) and Applied Maths as the only feed in to try for an Economics degree. Luckily the poor marks ended up with me on the first ever Pure Business Degree.

So I am looking at our history and broader history to place our philosophy in terms of other philosophies and history. Interestingly in the 2.5 million years the animal designated Homo (including Neanderthals', Erectus etc), or more to the point the last 70,000 years of Homo Sapiens (the scourge of their predecessors) everything about religion and the various creation stories is man made. Indeed the SNU are busy man making Spiritualism into a truly Homo Sapien religion, one may think they would like to supplant the Church of England.

Now should we be a religion? or a philosophy of life based purely on the knowledge that we survive the death of our physical body with all that falls out from that?. In the end it is proving that truth which finally matters for Spiritualism. Were that reality to be accepted by other faiths they would all have to re write their theology and their dogma. With the current state of mediumship and the new way of training it I am not sure we will ever manage to convince people.
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Re: Some thoughts from a talk I was helped to write on 21st Sept

Post by hiorta on Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:07 am

It would be nigh on impossible task to reflate the real enthusiastic Spiritualism of the war years and later. Death, sudden and shocking, was the everyday companion of so many, whether serviceman or civilian, sailor or emergency worker.

Todays population cannot conceive of such everyday conditions as blackouts, air raids, food scarcity, etc., so Spiritualism wears the appropriate clothing. Physical death is never too far away still, but the demise of 'thou shalt not' religion - it usually included the 'not' in keeping with those child-thrashing days - was a game changer.
The God of Love is nearer to the surface now, so let's see how evolution handles it.
The main obstacle as always, is materialistic thinking.
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