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Philosophical musings

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Post by Admin Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:16 am

From a Talk 8th February 2009

Spiritualism is defined as a belief, a philosophy, a science and a truth. The truth is the first thing we have, that life continues beyond that which we call death. This truth is proven by the messages received from our loved ones in spirit and passed to us by Mediums. This is what mediumship is, it is about giving evidence, information, love and hope from those living now in the spirit realms.

It is a simple truth and it was this direct communication that began with the Fox Sisters in Hydesville in 1848. This was a unique event because we had ordinary people directly receiving messages from similarly identifiable ordinary people in the spirit world. There was no divine revelation from God, no prophetic visions just an ordinary communication in extraordinary circumstances. It was this difference which distinguishes what we know as Modern Spiritualism from recorded prior events of people receiving messages from God. There are clearly recorded incidents of Spirit attempting to communicate prior to this but this was the first successful conversation.

Yes it is a simple truth but with it comes a realisation, we do not die, and there are no dead.  We realise that the individuals who have crossed over have their memories of life, of how they have lived and they still care for those in the physical world.

For many years Spiritualists sought general acceptance of this new revelation about what happens to us after we leave the physical world. This information was so at odds with the teachings of so many religions it created an environment where many Spiritualists were told that it was Satan misleading them to do his work.

Thinking Spiritualists resorted to their own scientific testing to prove their claims introducing the science into our definitions. Yes ordinary citizens, mainly hostile to the idea of communication, formed committees to test the claims of the Fox Sisters in a series of investigations over a complete week following the First Public demonstration of Mediumship at the Corinthian Hall in November 1849. These tests concluded the claims were genuine but Spiritualists were dissatisfied and went further in their own testing.

In 1855 an eminent American scientist Dr Robert Hare published the first book on scientific research, this gave the scientific validation of his tests and highlighted the equipment he created to conduct the test.

In 1871 the British Scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society Cromwell Varley, a committed Spiritualist, presented a paper to the society wherein he wrote on Electrical Discharge and Spiritualism. Then in 1874 another Fellow of the Society and leading Spiritualist William Crookes presented a paper to the society which caused a furore. This paper presented his scientific work in observing and investigating all manner of Spirit communication and phenomena.

Yes subsequently these two men were to become founders, with other eminent figures, of the Society of Psychical research in 1882 but Spiritualism still continued its own scientific research for a long while into the 20th Century although now this seems to have ceased.

Armed with science to prove the truth Spiritualists continued to try and gain acceptance of the tenets of Spiritualism in the traditional Church. The revelation of continued life, with all of us as part of Spirit confirmed that there was a belief in God, the Great Spirit. It is our belief that the knowledge we have confirms that Spirit exists but it is that belief which we cannot essentially prove conclusively that means we are also, by dictionary definition, a religion. Our belief in God places us on very common ground with traditional churches and as many early Spiritualists were from a Christian background they would have been comfortable to return to that belief if it accepted survival of the spirit.

Of course in doing this they were essentially ignoring a few other theological issues which may have arisen. The knowledge which comes from the continued existence of the spirit clearly shows that we all have a part of spirit in us and that no one can save us the journey is ours alone. In other ways Spiritualism was at odds with much of the church as it acknowledged the equality of all men whatever colour or religious creed, being each and every one a spirit living a physical life. In essence many reached back to the direct teachings of Jesus which espoused the same ideas and to his original word, that he was not the son of god. “What I do you all can do.”

The push for acceptance led to a Church of England review and report on Spiritualism. The report was handed to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1939 but not seen by anyone until it was published in the 1960’s, in Psychic News, when a copy was leaked to its editor Maurice Barbanell.

However, other Spiritualists did not want to be integrated back into conventional religion. Many had started to consider the ramifications of the proof they now had, that life continued in the spirit world. It was becoming clear that there had to be a purpose to this life. The experiences we gained in our physical body were very much a part of the growth of our Spiritual being.

A review of the history of Spiritualism shows that it quickly moved to establish a set of Principles, to guide our life with the first adopted in 1864 by the First Spiritualist Temple of Pennsylvania. The spiritualist movement progressively generated its own philosophical framework, aided by the information brought over from Spirit by Mediums, to guide and help us.

As a movement we now have a strong philosophy which is reflective of the Principles of Spiritualism, be they the 7 Principles which we accept or the 9 used by the NSAC in America. The philosophy is illuminated by a number of works which have come from Spirit such as the work of Silver Birch. To restate the 7 Principles;

The Fatherhood of God
The Brotherhood of Man
The Communion of Spirits as Ministering 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

However, for us living this physical life, the most important issue is of what relevance is all of this to our daily life. Spiritualism does not offer any magical solutions to your life problems, we do not have ritual, dogma or mystic answers. It is a simple philosophy based upon natural laws of the universe and Spirits creation. These laws are always in play, it is inconceivable that they would be set aside to allow a miraculous intervention for some special purpose.

Whilst elements of Mediumship and psychic abilities may seem to be Supernatural they are in fact an expression of the natural world that surrounds us, which we do not fully understand and have been unable to explain by man made science. The same natural forces can be seen in the phenomena of Telekinesis and photokinesis.

So Spiritualism is not offering a magical solution to your life and in reality mediums and psychics are not miracle workers to change your life circumstances.

However, the philosophy we live by does have the ability to help you, as an individual, to make these changes. Armed with the knowledge of continual existence you also know that the events of this life remain with you. You become aware that there is a caring Spirit being, a Spirit Guide, a helper who shares your journey. You know that those loved one’s who have passed over remain close by, even though they are evolving and absorbing their own life lessons. You become aware that the actions you take are an expression of your own freewill but that the outcome of these actions is also a part of your personal responsibility.

In these circumstances the insights from a psychic or the information received from loved one’s in spirit can give real guidance to help you achieve those changes you seek. You always have the ability to progress, in this life and the spirit world. The progress is reflective of the way you deal with the impact of the events that occur in your physical life.

Because we all have free will I am not a believer in every event being pre ordained. I feel that although we all come here with a life plan our ability to exercise our free will, for example, acting impulsively or irrationally can cut straight across that plan. I believe those watching from the Spirit World must be tearing their etheric hair out in wonder at our ability to create chaos in our own lives, to our plan and to the lives of others.

What I do believe, however, is that Spirit always look for an opportunity to offer the chance to get back onto the pathway however many times you leave it. Part of the ability to accept this offer is to learn from life events and use them to grow in understanding. The events we live though are a necessary part in the growth of our Spirit.

This is what Spiritualism offers, something concrete to hold onto in both the good times and bad times. To experience these and see them as phases in our growth, enabling us to move onwards and not remain stuck as a consequence what has happened.

So to me Spiritualism offers a belief in something higher, a knowledge that my loved ones remain after death as distinct personalities. It tells me that Spirit is always around us offering healing and help. Finally that after weathering the impact of tumultuous events I can reflect upon them as part of my lifes journey not as a reason to stop me from moving on.

Last edited by Admin on Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:24 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by obiwan Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:55 am

Hi Jim

An interesting piece. As a non-Spiritualist I would make a couple of observations. It seems to me that if spirit communication is proven (and I will assume this for a minute to avoid digression from the main point you make) then it seems to me to be likely that it pre-dates the Fox sisters in Hydesville by many centuries, even millennia. Although it may have been described differently for cultural reasons - there is even a reference to it in the Bible in at least one place (King Saul I think).

As the world becomes more secular and connected I suspect it simply becomes easier for these types of phenomena to be properly discussed. So as a phenomenon I could not be confident that what is being reported has changed much over the centuries in real terms.

As for the organisation of Spiritualism - I have to say my personal view (and it isn't based on a lot of knowledge and I don't wish to offend) is that is very similar to all organised religions. It appears to me at any rate to be highly structured, rule bound, political and stale. From reading the Psychic News in the UK I sometimes get the impression of a collection of people desperate for recognition and awarding themselves titles such as minister and pastor etc and of a kind of "club".

My own limited experience of visiting SNU churches is that they are often dated, poorly attended and those who attend appear often desperate to believe any old rubbish and that any old rubbish is frequently on the menu.

The music is awful, the content of presentations and mediumship trite and almost worthless. I have seen nothing so far (apart from one very good demonstration which I had to travel a long way to see) that would induce me to return to any of the churches I have visited.

Apologies if I have overstepped the mark.


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Post by Admin Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:05 pm

Hi Obi,

I unashamedly take my piece from the point of view of a believer both in psychic abilities and seperately in the continued existence of the spirit. In both cases, as a rational and intelligent man, I have seen too much proof to doubt it (and passed on some very telling messages from loved ones the information for which I could not have any source)

No you have not overstepped the mark, in terms of your first point it may be quite possible that Spirit attempted to communicate but most of the records show the voice of God type of communication.

As a point of interest the Dr Dee diaries are available in eversion which gives communication and phenomena seen by Queen Elizabeth I 's Astronomer. Which is an early record of other phenomena.

As to the other I was writing about the idea of Spiritualism not the Churches. Remember Spiritualism did not have ordination in the SNU until 1973 or thereabouts. Yes in America Ordination is the rule for every church. Personally our Mission has never had an ordained "minister" as leader and the organisation is not in support of the formalisation of the religous elements so no hymns and only opening and few prayers.

You will find social commentators who comment the formalisation of Spiritualism as a religion marked its death as a movement. I am not sure I disagree with that maybe for a while it helped but the rigidity of the proscribed services, politics and apparent lack of development are detrimental to Spiritualism. Most of us watch with despair as we see exactly what you describe as the state of the churches (SNU and Others) the good ones shine out.

At the moment the standard of Mediumship is one worry but good Mediumship is more likely to be developed in a healthy movement which attracts people. It is also more likely where the totality of the experience, the meetings, the philosophy and the phenomena reach out to a broad range of people even dare I say the intelligent ones who many churches seem dedicated to drive away by the poor offerings.

There is no practical test for mediumship, no school examinations, some are natural day one and almost have to become involved to stay sane. Others comfortably exist in a physical life probably unaware of ther skills or using them in a way that assists their life experience. The more people we attract the more likely we are to uncover more able Mediums and more philosophical thinkers.

I and a number of friends often discuss this and generally I believe the use of the word Church should be abandoned for Spiritualist centres. As the leaders are invariably volunteers I think ordination is unnecessary, however, I must admit I wish every centre had qualified counselling and grief counselling skills available.

The real issue for a central body is a push to improve standards in mediumship, talks, teaching and healing not the politics of organisations. Unfortunately when man in a physical body forms an organisation politics seems to appear. A glance at world governments will show you that those who gain power, or want power through a political organisation (even an informal political grouping of friends0 are not always the best people to do the job.

So really I would love to see a non political Spiritualist world body propounding harmony among the many disparate bodies which make up world Spiritualism (Christian Spiritualists, SNU, NSAC etc) they work to promote and improve these areas not proscribe how centres should operate and be run. But then even at 60 I am still an idealist who sometimes forgets the lessons of Don Quijote

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Post by obiwan Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:28 am

Very well put Jim Smile. Thank you.


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