What is Spiritualism?
This is the definition according to the Spiritualist National Union.
Spiritualism is a rational religion based on the proven knowledge that man's spirit survives physical death. This has led to a philosophical and scientific approach new to traditional religious faith.
Spiritualist philosophy contains neither dogma nor creed and it is discussed rather than preached.
There is an increasing tendency in these times to think and act collectively and Spiritualism is a religion matching this trend.
It is a Religion of Reason for all those who see this as an Age of Reason.
At some time in their lives all men ask themselves the question "What happens to me when I die?" Spiritualism claims to give the definite answer to this question.
It affirms that man's spirit survives physical death and enters a Spirit world which surrounds and interpenetrates our material life. It asserts that the truth of this statement can be demonstrated under the right conditions when communication can and does take place between the worlds of spirit and earthly beings. This communication is only possible through individuals who have what are known as mediumistic abilities and who are known as mediums.
Spiritualists stress that the right conditions must prevail for communication to take place and that the prime condition is that there is a spirit person there willing to communicate. It is not generally understood that communication cannot take place unless the spirits are willing to do so. One of the greatest misapprehensions about Spiritualists is that they call up the dead. Nothing could be further from the truth; if anything, it is the other way round; ample evidence exists throughout history that, if and when they are willing, the spirit people call us.
Members of the Spiritualist' National Union recognise the following Seven Principles.
The Fatherhood of God
The Brotherhood of Man
The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels
The continuous existence of the human soul
Compensation and retribution hereafter all the good and evil deeds done on earth
Eternal progress open to every human soul
In the beginning God, or the Great Spirit, created the universe through the natural process of what we call evolution and in the course of time man evolved, endowed as a spirit; that is to say man is a spirit now on this earth. That being so, every child is born with varying degrees of psychic power. We make a joke of women's intuition, but that is an elementary form of psychic development.
There are those with exceptional powers who are known as mediums or instruments, through which those on the other side of life communicate with the people they have left behind. Some people manifest their psychic powers at an early age, some need quite a long period of development, while some never show any sign of such gifts at all. It is a sad thought that through ignorance of this subject, many potentially valuable mediums and healers are lost to the world.
Mediums, although possessing this power, are fundamentally no different from the rest of us. There is nothing supernatural about them - one cannot be above nature, but they are supernormal. Mediumship takes two forms, mental and physical. The former is the more common. In this, the spirit works through the medium's mind and he or she is able to see, or hear clearly, spirit forms or sounds. This is called clairvoyance or clairaudience. Again, a medium may only sense these things (clairsentience), but all mediums possess one, or a combination of these three forms.
One thing must be stressed here - there is no question of fortune telling being practiced. It is true that many fortune tellers, including the gypsy who wants you to cross her hand with silver, possess the gift of clairvoyance, but in the vast majority of cases there is nothing very spiritual about them.
In the days before automation three persons were necessary in the making of a telephone call - the caller, the girl at the exchange and the person being called. No connection could be made without the operator.
So it is with spirit communication. In this case the medium is the operator making contact with someone in the spirit world who wishes to communicate with a person on earth. There is however a big difference between a telephone call and spirit communication. In the former a two-way conversation can be effected, while in the latter only spirit can contact us. One of the charges levelled at us is that we "call up the dead". This we cannot do. They can only come to us and then only when they are able and so wish.
In spirit communication there is a fourth link - the spirit guide or helper, who controls the medium and brings the spirit entity into contact with the person on earth. Between the medium and her helper, a close harmonious partnership exists, thus providing the line of communication between the two worlds. In a church service or public meeting, in the smaller limits of a group or circle, or in the even more intimate contact between the medium and the person seeking communication or help in a private sitting.
Mediums also hold circles for the development of potential clairvoyants or speakers, and the larger open circle for initial development in which those present can take part.
The helper is able to enter the medium's mind and control it, so that thoughts are submitted from the spirit world, which are in turn translated by the medium into descriptions of places or people and the words of a message, through clairvoyance, clairaudience or trance.
The other form of mediumship is physical and demands a very high degree of psychic power which many mediums do not possess. These include direct voice - communication in which the spirit person speaks through the medium in his own recognisable voice using a "spirit" larynx, the other materialisation, when those in spirit present themselves solid and visibly to those they wish to contact and to persons present. Often they can be touched and felt as though they were physically present.
In these forms of mediumship the medium goes into trance, that is, becomes oblivious to immediate surroundings, while generally still retaining partial consciousness
Another form of mediumship is psychometry in which a medium, while holding an object, can obtain impressions of the person to whom it belonged, his character, habits and incidents connected with his life.
There have been many instances where psychometry has been used to aid the police in finding missing persons, or bringing criminals to justice.
Death is always present. We cannot escape from its grasp.
In the midst of life we are confronted with the stark fact that Nature has set a term to earthly existence. Sooner or later every living thing must die.
The death of others whom we have loved causes pain and sorrow. The inevitability of our own dissolution is contemplated with varying degrees of uneasiness. Our fear of dying tends to grow as the years pass and the unavoidable end of life approaches.
Such an attitude of mind is natural to our species. After all, a corpse does seem to indicate that life has been extinguished. Sensory perception gives us no reason to suppose that anything remains of whatever it was which formerly animated the body.
But what our senses tell us is seldom the whole story. Indeed, the range of sensory perception is strictly limited. There are objects invisible to our sight and imperceptible to our touch. There are sounds inaudible to our hearing. The authority for these statements is physical science itself.
Through the use of highly sensitive instruments it has succeeded in extending the normal range of the senses to embrace hitherto unknown phenomena. We cannot, therefore, assert that a thing does not exist simply because we are ordinarily incapable of observing it. When we look at a dead body let us think twice before declaring that what remains of the original person is nothing more than rotting flesh.
The evidence obtainable from psychical research and mystical experience, not only fails to support such a view but decisively rejects it.
To Die is to Gain
Perhaps the simplest definition of death is to say that when it happens some vital element departs from the body. We may call it the spirit or soul or self but whichever name we choose, the absence of this element makes the difference between a living person and a decaying corpse.
For the sake of simplicity let us call this element the soul. Now the soul may survive the dissolution of the body but is it immortal? Does it endure for ever or does it continue to exist for only a limited period after the body has perished?
The immortality of the soul is, of course, no more provable than the existence of God. Nevertheless it is sufficient for our peace of mind to know that the individual self, the very essence of our being, is not extinguished at the moment of death but proceeds to a higher state of consciousness.