Awakening for a Future Society

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While philosophers such as Karl Marx imagined to reform the world through bloody class fights as to arrive at a new social structure, both Rousseau and Kant recognized that a renewed and better world could only come from a different and morally superior humankind, able to revert the state of submission of a vast majority of unprivileged men and women to a small elite. This exploration has been maintained since the beginning of civilization, thousands of years ago, and is to this date sustained by rigid social structures, political systems and religious doctrines. But how could (and can) this powerful and privileged minority keep the largest portion of the world’s population suffering in poverty and disgrace for so long?

The major religious traditions of the past were all founded on the concept of heteronomy (research this word!), as if god acted through punishments and rewards, and the principle of the degradation of souls – with obvious differences from religion to religion. For instance, Adam and Eve were reprehended for eating the forbidden fruit and punished with expulsion from heaven, conception with pain, mortality, etc.; transferring the original sin to all of their offspring. According to this tradition, to escape eternal condemnation, it is required to blindly surrender to god’s will. Those laws called divine are all external to the individual. In this conception, the greatest human virtue are obedience, loyalty and meekness; values that are conditionally maintained for fear of sin and condemnation. In many Eastern reincarnationist doctrines, the mythology is different, but the intrinsic values are mostly the same. In their narratives of traditional religious texts, the soul is originally good when conceived by god, but contaminates itself through multiple failures and errors made over a physical life. Such failures render the soul deserving of punishment through successive reincarnations as a plant, an animal, an insect, etc. depending on the severity of the crime.

But it wasn’t only the religious traditions that propagated the heteronomous moral. The materialist theories emerging on the 19th century abandoned mysticism and superstitions to some degree, but maintained the concept of heteronomy by keeping men submissive to the external laws of society – more precisely, the law of the survival of the fittest (also known as the might is right) determined by biologic and circumstantial differences. According to Auguste Comte, for example, the great masses of workers and all women didn’t have adequate brain development and were therefore organically prevented, by nature, to make adequate use of their intellectual faculties. They should therefore surrender to the command and dominance of the minority of men privileged with a better nervous system able to make them scientists, leaders, commanders, etc. Those sickly fantasies of the positivism of Comte were well accepted on his time and still persist in our present society even if disguised in other more modern and politically correct formats.

But what are the ideas that could revolutionize the world and build a better society? The Swiss philosopher and psychologist Jean Piaget can give us a clue. Piaget, studying the moral judgment of children, established an association between  – heteronomous morality, coercion and submission – and – autonomous morality, cooperation and mutual respect. According to Piaget, it is possible to apply to society this natural psychological process observed in children, fostering, generation after generation, a natural (although complex) change from coercion to solidarity; from a heteronomous morality to an autonomous morality. As he indicated, in conformist societies, where the population is vastly explored, coercion determine submission and passivity. Where freedom is embraced and promoted, fraternal attitude arises and the individual assume responsibility for the well-being of the collectivity (and vice-versa).

Now, if well understood, isn’t the autonomous morality the cornerstone of the original teachings of Jesus (before being manipulated and misrepresented over the centuries)? If you pay attention, words such as “you are gods”, “you can do all I can do and much more”, “I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword” and “my kingdom is not of this world” doesn’t quite fit the merciful Jesus the churches sell you today. Indeed, if studying his words, as well as those of other morally distinguished men, it is possible to observe their moral autonomy, the presence of compassion but also a sense of unbreakable justice. Perhaps this is the last teaching the master of the Galilee left us before dying – do not surrender your will, your reason and your morals  to others. Socrates was arrested and murdered for being loyal to his moral values. Giordano Bruno was burned for not surrendering to the church’s authority. Countless examples of those luminaries that changed our world for better indicate the clear presence of an autonomous morality and freedom of thought. To bring a contemporary example (and I hope you agree with me), wasn’t Edward Snowden acting from a moral autonomous perspective when getting involved in the NSA spying scandal?

                Freedom of thought, acting morally according to the values of one’s own consciousness (even in detriment of self interests and independent of conventional rules and religions); this is the sign of the awakened man ready to build the society of the future. When we have enough of them, we will have a new world as the external projection of their moral and spiritual values. A sustainable future society invariably require individuals capable of mutual collaboration, founded from the autonomous fraternity they feel for each other. So, it is not through scientific development, economic growth, politics or wars that we will build a new society. It is through our own inner reform, arriving at a true and innate understanding of the law of love, preached by way too many and practiced by way too few, that we will be able to find peace and happiness. As noted Allan Kardec on his Posthumous Works, “The social matter doesn’t have, therefore, as a starting point the form of this or that institution; it is completely related to the moral betterment of individuals and their collectivities. There is where one can find the beginnings, the true key to the happiness of humankind. Because then, men will no longer conceive mutually harming each other. It is not enough to cover corruption with varnish, it is indispensable for it to be extinguished” (free translation).

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Boundary-less Spiritism and the Spiritual Practice of the New Millennia

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God is not adept of any religion. Nature, both physical and non-physical, is independent of our beliefs and opinions about it. Science and religion are only human interpretations of the laws that govern the universe and our relationship with it as individual consciousnesses. Every law of physics reflect an attempt to interpret the mechanisms of the four-dimensional (3 of space and 1 of time) physical universe, but doesn’t change those mechanisms themselves, neither explore their relation with other neglected dimensions. Similarly, every religion reflect an attempt to interpret the moral and intellectual laws that govern our connection with the creator and (perhaps) with the universe, but such mechanisms are also independent of our interpretations. This has very important consequences that are often ignored or even denied by our society; that is, we must be very careful not to fall into dogmatism.

Now, allow me a parenthesis before I continue discoursing about religion. This parenthesis is about the dogmatism of our sciences. I am not picking on sciences. The point is that when we talk about dogmatism, it is common for people to think it is only something applicable to religion. However, simply put, dogmatism is the imposition (moral or even physically) of a specific belief system as an unquestionable truth. So, when we think about science, we often think about the application of methods or research, checks and balances that guarantee trustworthy results, right? That’s why questioning science is typically a sign of ignorance, lack of education or both. Science can’t be questioned because it works with verifiable results. Well, it happens that as we go down this path we walk a fine line between exploration and dogmatism. For instance, does it follow that verifiable results must always be physical and positivist? In this case, should we even consider psychology and philosophy fields of science? What about all para-psychological phenomena (ESP, materialization,  telekinesis, etc.) which have already been demonstrated multiple (repeated) times under controlled conditions, by multiple people and everywhere in the globe.  Should we simply deny the veracity of observable phenomena as rulers of what is possible and what is not possible in the universe? Shouldn’t we question whether significant scientific advancements cannot be made through research in areas that, for their own non-material nature, cannot be researched through traditional positivist means? Does science really cannot accommodate any flexibility, any adaptability that proves to be adequate for the study of a given subject matter, or natural events happening in dimensions beyond the three-dimensional space and one-dimensional time? With so many signs that indicate the survival of consciousness after physical death, the reality of reincarnation, among others; should we really reject all studies in those areas? With science coming to the conclusion, through its own means, that the observer consciousness can affect the results of an experiment, that there is a non-local space-time reality (entanglement), that matter is just a condensed energy state, etc.; should we really marginalize those research fields likely to drive potential groundbreaking revolutions and place the burden of proving them right (to a large audience already convinced they are wrong) on anyone who with no funding or support decides to study them? Could this be one of the most disguised forms of dogmatism of our present society?

There is a difference between rejection and denial, the latter being the state of our sciences when opting not to honestly and unbiasedly research certain topics. Then, isn’t this denial evidencing a plain and simple dogmatism? Isn’t it what dogmatic people do, to deny anything different than their own viewpoints? Isn’t it a state of mind where anything opposed to a particular paradigm is ruled out? Dogmatism is a state where out of pride and selfishness we want the universe to function according to our own interpretations of it. Therefore, there is a particular way to connect with God, my way! There are particular natural phenomena that can be accepted; those which can currently be “naturally” explained. Anything else should be classified as paranormal, supernatural or simply charlatanism or delusion. Yet, as Allan Kardec, the codifier of Spiritism, pointed out over 150 years ago, if there is an effect, there must be a cause. The talk below from Rupert Sheldrake brilliantly and clearly demonstrates dogmatism in our sciences.

But, going back to religion, it is of utmost importance that we start freeing ourselves up from the boundaries of any particular paradigm for our connection with God and the universe. Every strict religious belief is dogmatic and restrictive by nature. All religions are a step in our spiritual journey towards perfection and communion with God, but at some point we must free our minds of any particular interpretation. A new consciousness level is achieved when we become genuine explorers of the truth, aware of our current inability to grasp all of the laws of the cosmos and operate at a level of perfection that is in full harmony with the divine love. In other words, Earth humanity will raise to a whole new consciousness level when it free itself up from the walls of religions; when it absorb the universal truths contained in every religion and rid them from everything else. Then, all of us will truly be one. We will not be connected by belief-systems or laws that promote mutual respect and good behavior; we will be connected by divine love. We will be immersed in a love that transcends this planet and connects us with God and all of its creation. We will be awake to what we truly are. Then, as Chico Xavier, one of the most remarkable mediums of recent times noted brilliantly in 1971, at the live Brazilian TV audience program Pinga Fogo, “(…) we will understand that we are part of a universal family”. Indeed, we will then understand the true meaning of the bible passage which notes that God’s kingdom has many dwellings (see John 14:2).

In our development process to this new consciousness level, the Spiritist science codified by Allan Kardec, offers a remarkable new paradigm for the study and practice of spirituality in this new millennia. As Kardec himself noted, “Spiritism is not a new religion as some people pretend it to be because they don’t know it, or a new sect that is formed by taking advantage of older ones. It is a purely moral Doctrine with no dogmas and that allows each person the entire freedom of religion since it imposes none. A demonstration of that is the fact that its most enthusiastic followers are among the most devoted Catholics as among Protestant, Jews and Muslims. Spiritism has never advised anyone to change religion or sacrifice their beliefs. It does not really belong to any religion or better still, it is present in all of them.” (Kardec, October of 1861)

The passage above indicates the framework for a conscious spiritual practice which I consider to be in high demand in our world nowadays. It is a framework of curious, unbiased and unpretentious exploration of our relationship with the divine and the universe.  It is critical that we forge adequate perspectives for the advancement of spiritualist sciences; one that do not create boundaries, but eliminate them; one that free our consciousness from the many incarnations in contact with dogmatic belief systems. As a free-thinker and admirer of the Spiritist sciences, among other spiritualist bodies of knowledge, I believe that it is time for us to understand the smallness of all of our religions. In a universe of trillions of stars, all of them with dozens of planets, it is fair for us to ask: how many religions are out there? Do they have a leader, a pope? Then how many popes are out there? Is there a single religion that actually got everything right? Where is it and how can we know? Our communion with ourselves and, in consequence, with our divine nature requires us to free ourselves from the boundaries of paradigms that cannot be confirmed by reason and felt within our hearts. I see a future where religions will be faced as a step in our history towards true spirituality. I see a future where the boundaries between our four-dimensional reality and other unknown time-space dimensions are finally overcome by many. It is with this vision in mind that I write this text inviting my reader to tap into all of the spiritual knowledge at our disposal. The knowledge contained by all religions of all times as well as that which we can access through further exploration. It is in such way that Spiritism becomes a special step for humanity. Rather than think about it as just another religion, we must deeply understand its purpose, from design to its current state, as an anchor for the birth of a renovated humanity in a renovated Earth. In the words of its founder, “Spiritism proclaims freedom of thought as a natural law; calls it to his followers, in the same way for everyone. It respects all sincere faiths and requests reciprocity. From freedom of thought derives the right to self-examination in matters of faith. Spiritism rejects any form of blind faith, because they require men to surrender their own reason; it considers rootless all faiths imposed: Unshakable faith is only one which can confront reason face to face in all epochs of humanity.” (Kardec, Posthumous Works)

We must then, allow it to grow as we grow with it. At the risk of chocking many, I see a future when all religions will be obsolete as we practice not religion, but a true spiritual communion and connection with all there is. I see a future when the word Spiritism will also be obsolete as we no longer need to protect its ideas from foreign ones (which was the initial intention of the neologism). This is because living true spiritual communion and connection with all there is, the truths brought by Spiritism will be known and practiced by all, beyond its boundaries. Could this be a framework for spiritual practice in the New Millennia? It is certain that time will show.

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Cosmo-ethics

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Before we talk about ethics and cosmo-ethics, it is important that we talk about consciousness level. So, what do I mean by consciousness level? Simply that we are not who we think we are and need to make an analysis detached from our culture and instruction to be able to better arrive at a closer understanding of our essence. I somewhat covered this topic in the text “What Is The Measure Of Your Spiritual Wisdom?“, although the focus there was different. Still, reading the text can be helpful to better understand what I am about to present next.

Our consciousness level reflect all of our innate ideas. All the wisdom we have incorporated to our soul and that will express themselves independently of our present culture and knowledge. Think about this: who would you be if you were to incarnate in a primitive planet where the local humanity hasn’t developed any form of legal system or ethical code; perhaps just a mystical and rudimentary religious code largely based on fear from a angry and vengeful God? Who would you be in this planet and under those circumstances? Who would you be without all the things you have learned in your present life? Would you intuitively know about love? would you intuitively care about others? Would you intuitively exercise charity and defend justice? Would you develop a different concept of God, that perhaps you would keep for yourself? Would you try to share your thoughts and feelings with others? Who would you be if no one was telling you when growing up what is right and what is wrong, what is ethical or unethical? Would you accept robbery and murder or would you intuitively refute those things, even if largely practiced by all of the other individuals around you? Would you practice their religion? Would you develop a sense of belonging or would you feel this place cannot be called home for you? Keep following this rationale and you will understand what I mean by consciousness level.

Your consciousness level is you at an essential level, despite of your culture and much beyond your personality. It is the development you have achieved as an individual intelligence throughout your history and that can then be defined as you personal attributes which should be expressed regardless of place and time. Think about those who have largely distinguished themselves from the crowds throughout the history of humanity – Jesus, Siddhartha, Aristotle, Plato, Newton, Einstein, Gandhi, St. Francis, etc. What allowed them to do so? Did they distinguished themselves only intellectually, or also morally – and if so, why? I believe they all distinguished themselves from the crowds of their time at a consciousness level. At the essence they were above average and that’s what made them a role model of that crowd’s development over centuries or millennia. The crowd at Jesus time (that would be us!) could hardly understand anything he was saying. Two thousand years have passed and the crowd today (and that would be us again!) can at least conceptually understand what he was saying. The question then is, how much more time we need to do the things he did as he himself said we would (see John 14:12)?

I hope I have been able to make it clear at this point that your consciousness level is not what you express on a daily basis. What you are in your daily life is an expression of your consciousness level within the framework of acquired knowledge from your culture. There may be a lot of things about ourselves which are inhibited by our culture. Change the constraints and our wildness will suddenly show itself. At our present consciousness level, we sometimes still need hardships to learn about ourselves and improved who we are.  Those difficulties we face are like the fire burning the imperfections within. Without them we may fall into pretentious illusions of enlightenment. There is nothing like chaos to show us who we really are. Dr. Robert I. Simon, MD in his book Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream notes that “(…) psychiatrists know that if people are removed from their normal world, without their usual external controls and surroundings, they may take liberties that previously they could only imagine. For example, after a major disaster, there is always looting. Many of these looters are people who never before considered robbery. Usually, there are so many looters that the authorities must institute martial law to regain control of the situation. Members of a crowd act in ways that they would not consider as individuals. A crowd does not take away thinking or control as much as it take away an individual’s conscience.” So now we have a basic understanding of what I mean when referring to consciousness level and can advance to ethics and cosmo-ethics.

Cosmo-ethics adds the word “cosmo” (from cosmos) to the concept of ethics to try to take us to think on a more universal way, reflecting not from the standpoint of our own culture or planet but from the perspective of individuals and a human collectivity inserted in a much larger perspective – the perspective of the cosmos. It embraces Jesus’ teachings for “loving God above all and each other as he himself loves us”. It embraces the Spiritist teachings of charity, more precisely, “without charity there is no salvation”. It embraces the values of fraternity, understanding, harmony, charity, respect to all everything and everyone, etc. All spiritual teachings of all times are simply a path to cosmo-ethics – which is above all religions and spiritual concepts; it contains all the truthful and useful pieces of them. I could still go on and on about it, but I guess you’re getting the gist of it.

So, to conclude, I’d like to leave a few questions for your reflection. What drives your personal ethics? (Is it maximum pleasure, profit, physical well-being, the well-being of others, etc.?) If our recent astronomical inferences makes it patent that intelligent life most likely exist somewhere else in our universe, why they haven’t contacted us? We do have countless UFO sightings and it appears that at least some of them might be able to reach Earth. The point to explore here is not what UFOs are; but to make the reader consider whether possible extraterrestrial being assumed to be able to reach Earth somehow could/woud (at least in general) act on a cosmo-ethical way, waiting for our readiness for contact, slowly watching our advancement and perhaps even helping us advance to a consciousness level where we understand we are simply one among many civilizations in the universe and with them are able to live in harmony. Naive? Why almost every movie that covers the extraterrestrial topic portrays them as space pirates? Could that be that we are simply projecting our own thoughts? Are our expectations from them simply a reflection of our own consciousness-level, making us still unprepared for ostensible contact? Against the logic and evidence, who are the pirates?

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POINT #2: We are spiritual beings having an incarnated experience on earth, not living bodies having (or not) spiritual experiences.

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For Point #1, click here!

This point #2 is all about perspective. Think about every person that stood out from the crowds for their moral values. We have had many of these personalities across all centuries and geographies, among which we can cite Aristotle, Plato, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Chico Xavier among many others. Regardless of their religion or nationality, all of them sacrificed themselves at different degrees and created progress. Think about what it means and you will understand what distinguish them from ordinary people – which are us.

To a large extent, we still live our lives trapped on selfish patterns of behavior, ego-centrism and apathy towards others. We are concerned about what people think of us and how we can influence others, usually to our own benefit. If this does not apply to you, then congratulations, you are above Earth humanity average. Now, as a rule, those are the general consciousness level I typically observe (and that I consider responsible for making the world the way it is at the present time). In addition to what I mentioned above, I also observe that most people lack self-esteem and confidence. They live in fear of rejection and uncertainty of who they are. A simple example that demonstrates this point is the fact that most people take criticism very personally (as a personal attack that jeopardizes their integrity and honor) or are easily offended. This lack of self-esteem and confidence makes most people worry about their social status and comply with standards of living that are far from conducive to happiness. But the order of the day is not to cause commotion… just live your life, workday in workday out, spend a great deal of time, effort and financial resources purchasing things you were convinced to be a desperate need and continue unquestioning everything. Most people can’t see we’re trapped on the mindset that life is short and we must enjoy it. Live life fully, some say. Well, in my opinion, this is simply short-sighted. I will expand on this topic a great deal in a different text, when talking more specifically about ethics, or what I call cosmo-ethics. Here, however, we will focus on developing the point that we are spiritual beings, although we will not extinguish it yet.

Do you think the personalities mentioned in the first paragraph operate according to the paradigms noted on the second paragraph of this text? The answer is NO. Regardless of their nationality, religion, education, whatever… they have seen their lives from a different perspective. They used it to make changes in the world in detriment of their own pleasure. They operate not from a selfish, egocentric and fearful standpoint, but one of confidence, charity and universalism. Now this is perhaps the most important detail here – if you ask them, my guess is that they would tell you they have lived their lives fully – that you, reader, ponder about it and come to your own conclusions. For as harsh as it might have been, they enjoyed their life from a spiritual perspective, which provided them incredibly superior delight and comfort. They have effectively contributed to a better world. Note that for going against pre-established norms does not mean they have been anarchists, against all notions of order and common living. It simply means they would not bend their personal moral values and convictions for unjust norms of their society. In fact, being morally more evolved than their society in some regard, they have incited much needed reformations. They have reminded us that laws are designed to bring order and peace, but when they also bring injustice, changes are needed.

I have covered this difference in mindset between those we celebrate and honor as examples to be followed and ordinary people because this simple comparison might provide you some detachment from the illusion of reality created by our incarnated condition and limited senses. Some of us have already effected this detachment, although not changed our behavior. Others, not only realize our spiritual condition, but also are true to it on our daily lives – making positive changes in the world to the limit of our abilities. This does not depend on religion, because religious dogmas are also an illusion. We must realize that the more we awake to our true spiritual nature and are true to it, the more we practice the single and uniform religion of love.

If you are not as religious, maybe you believe in the power of intention, in setting your thought into motion, creating your own reality. The power of intention has gained significant momentum, at least in the United States, after the books and teachings of Ernst Holmes. Holmes teachings have been continued by many organizations and somewhat expanded and popularized through books such as Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret”. People all over the United States, if not within the entire globe, are setting themselves up for “manifesting” things in their lives. Now, think about how the realization of our true nature and purpose in life are critical for the intentions and thoughts we create. We are spiritual beings having an incarnated experience on earth, not living bodies having, or not, spiritual experiences.

Think about the lifestyle of most of our society as I have described earlier in this chapter: Spending a great deal of time, effort and financial resources purchasing things that will grant us a certain status and social approval. Trapped on the mindset that life is short and we must enjoy it while there’s still time. Corrupting our moral values to different extents in order to conform to various forms of injustice. Rending ourselves to greed, prejudice, avarice, pride, anger and so many other vices. Now, think about what we are creating with our own thoughts! At this point, I should say that, regardless of whether or not you believe in the power of intention, your thoughts reverberate through the universe. Your thoughts are your identity in the cosmos; they reveal that you currently are without your temporary body, your true spiritual nature. With this in mind, think about how many times we are loyal to manifestations of “inferior” nature.

Speaking for myself, I see people trying to “manifest” (a word commonly used by some and meaning “consciously create”) those very same things that will provide them greater social status and comfort most of the time. They visualize mansions, whooping paychecks and all other sorts of material things. Accordingly, books align their messages to what most people want to hear: how to become a millionaire, how to prosper financially, etc. It seems that talking about “manifesting” peace, love or the end of war and hunger in the world does not sell very well. Meanwhile, despite all books, techniques and efforts, few achieve their desires and the great minority who could not “manifest” their objectives wonders what they are doing incorrectly – constantly reminding themselves that many have reached their goals. Now, let me say it again: We are spiritual beings having an incarnated experience on earth, not living bodies having, or not, spiritual experiences. Logic should tell us that if an approach isn’t working, maybe we should consider changes. But what should we change? My clue is… who is manifesting your soul or your personality? What is your soul and what does it desire? Does it extend beyond your conscious mind? If you like this point, read our post “Inner light to a brighter future” and wait for our point #3.

Paid Mediumship: A Risky Business

By Ricardo C. Mastroleo, Ph.D., Allan Kardec Spiritist Educational Center .

Source: http://www.aksec.org/Articles/PaidMediumship.pdf

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Spiritism is based on natural, and therefore, universal laws. However, the way it must be introduced and taught to anyone who is new to its core ideas strongly depends on each individual’s cultural values, religious background, and personal motivation to learn this new body of knowledge. In fact, this is a general pedagogical truth that is valid not only to the teaching of Spiritism, but also to the teaching of any field of human knowledge. The ability to educate depends heavily on the understanding the educator has about the individuals that will be learning the new knowledge.

As Spiritism is being established in more and more countries, with different cultures, languages and ethical values, it is imperative that the spiritists in different parts of the globe who lead study groups or deliver talks about Spiritism, take into careful consideration the local cultural values so as to put forward the spiritist message in a way that better resonates in people’s hearts [1], [2], [3].

Charity is one of the pillars of Spiritism, and the act of giving without expecting anything in return is a bright source of light that illuminates and directs our spiritual path. In this context, Kardec extensively discussed [4], [5]the drawbacks of associating the practice of mediumship with financial or any material compensation. On the other hand, in countries like the United States the entrepreneurial attitude is highly valued and encouraged. The ability individuals have to use their talents and ingenuity to create new businesses embodies the basis of the economical system of this country. The value of honest and hard work is taught to children in early ages, where many parents reward their kids with small monetary payments for performing household chores, or encourage them to engage in remunerated activities like mowing a neighbor’s lawn, babysitting, or setting up the traditional lemonade booth in their home’s front yards to sell cold lemonade in a summer day.

It is clear that in such a business oriented environment, which permeates the lives of many people in the United States, it becomes a little tricky to convey the idea that the practice of paid mediumship should be avoided. The purpose of this article is to highlight the main points in Kardec’s arguments discouraging such a practice, and then point out a way in which this concept can be better assimilated in this country.

Give for free what has been received gratuitously

This is the title of Chapter 26 of The Gospel According to Spiritism [4], and is an argument frequently used by spiritists to advocate against the practice of paid mediumship. However, this argument might not be very effective when presented by itself only. Kardec used this passage from the Gospel (Matthew 10:8), and two others, “Paid Prayers” (Mark 12:38-40), and “The Money Changers Expelled from the Temple” (Matthew 21:12-13), to illustrate the importance of charity through our prayers and donation of our time and talents for the benefit of others, and also to emphasize the fact that spiritual progress cannot be purchased, but only attained as a result of our own commitment to self reform in conformity with the Law of Love. But the isolated use of this argument against the commercialization of mediumship might have little impact in a culture where the financial recompense for professional services is always expected. The argument “give for free what you received for free” has a counterargument that is often invoked: “If a gifted and skilled musician, medical doctor, or scientist can charge for their work, why not a gifted and skilled medium? They all got their gifts for free and acquired their skills with their own effort. Why would it be ethically unacceptable for mediums to make a living off their natural aptitudes and skills?”

One might respond to this counterargument by invoking another statement, also found in the same chapter [4] : “Mediums are not to sell words that do not belong to them, seeing that they are not fruits of their conception, nor their research, nor of their personal work”. Although undoubtedly true, this argument can be easily refuted with questions like these: “In the exercise of their activities, sign language interpreters or simultaneous translators are also saying nothing that is fruit of their conception. Does it mean that it is ethically wrong for them to charge for their work? If they are charging for their knowledge of different languages and their ability to provide an instantaneous, accurate translation, why cannot a medium charge for his/her ability and skill to serve as the translator between the spiritual and material realms?”

Intention and mediumship

The discussion above illustrates well the fact that the use of purely ethical arguments in countries like the United States to advise against remunerated mediumistic work can be very ineffective because they conflict with the strong and long-standing culture of hard work along with the merit and remuneration compatible with one’s personal skills and efforts. Consequently, the discussion about the exercise of mediumship as a profession must be conducted in a manner where less weight is given to the ethics of it, and more emphasis put on the practical negative outcomes that might result from such a practice.

That said, an important point to consider is that mediumship is a spiritual and mental activity, where the true intention of the medium, manifested through his/her current vibratory states of mind and heart, will determine the nature of the spirit with whom the connection is to be established [6], [7] . Besides, in any mediumistic activity the bulk of the work is done by the spirit, with the medium being only the translator, the instrument utilized by the spirit. Therefore, the quality of any assistance work is strongly influenced by the level of spiritual evolution of the communicating spirit. However, benevolent spirits, in their willingness to share their love and wisdom with those in need, will tend to stay away from mediums that don’t have a genuine intention to serve. Not because they don’t have the desire to assist the person that requested the medium’s help, but because the vibratory mismatch between the medium and the spirit becomes an impediment for the spirit to properly perform the needed work, in the same way that an out of tune violin becomes a serious obstacle for a virtuoso violinist to produce good music. As Kardec points out [5], “Mediumship is a faculty given for good, and good spirits withdraw from everyone who would make it a stepping-stone for aught that does not answer to the views of Providence. Egotism is the sore spot in the social system; the good spirits combat it, and it cannot be supposed that they come to serve it.”

Consequently, a good medium is not only measured by his/her ability to serve as an accurate translator between the spiritual and material realms, but also by his/her ability to connect to more evolved spirits. This connection takes place when the medium is in a vibratory spiritual state that is compatible with the spiritual state of the spirit, and when it comes to assistance work, this compatibility is influenced by the intention of both medium and the spirit to selflessly do good to others. Similarly, a medium that has the intention to do frivolous or self-interested work will attract frivolous and selfish spirits with whom the vibratory state is more compatible. Kardec underscores this point very clearly [4] : “Those who desire serious communications should before all else ask with seriousness, and following this, should inform themselves of the nature of the sympathies the medium may have with the beings from the Spirit world. Therefore the first condition necessary to attract the benevolence of the good Spirits are humility, devotion, abnegation, and total disinterest, both moral and material.”

Having established the fact that during any mediumistic activity the medium’s underlying intention to perform that activity is a determinant factor of the nature of spirits with whom he/she can be connected, the issue of paid mediumship work can be more soundly examined.

When a medium has a business to provide mediumistic services, profit is expected and it will originate from the revenue generated by the clients. When the medium’s living expenses depend on this revenue, the true intention and motivation to perform the work must be questioned. Is the medium more interested in the client’s consultation fee or in being the instrument of solace for a brother or sister in need? Is the medium more interested in customer satisfaction, feeling compelled to say what the client wants to hear, or in being the channel to the guidance (not always easy to be followed) of benevolent spirits to help a brother or sister to advance in their spiritual journey? Note that these questions are not as relevant to other professionals like, say, a medical doctor or a dentist, because the success of a treatment depends much more on the doctor’s knowledge and experience, and much less on the doctor’s true intention, be it to keep a good reputation and cash flow or to genuinely be an instrument to the patient’s well-being. However, for mediumistic work the true intention of the medium will determine the nature of the spirits who will be doing the work, and any medium engaged in remunerated mediumistic work will be walking a fine line between strictly selling a service to a client and altruistically assisting a brother or sister in need.

Another point to consider is that mediums cannot make promises with respect to specific spirits to channel or spiritual effects to produce, and Kardec states this truth very boldly [4]: “There is not a single medium in the world who can guarantee the obtaining of a spiritual phenomenon at any given moment.” If a medium charges to channel a client’s departed loved one, what if the communication cannot be established? In this scenario, fraud starts to become an attractive option, either for the medium or for mocking spirits who will take no time to seize the moment to take pleasure in being deceitful.

“Mediumship only exists through the co-operation of the Spirits.” [4] Making it into a profession exposes the medium to the risk of becoming an agent of less evolved and untrustworthy spirits because the main driving force for the work might be removed from love and genuine intent to help and instead, focused on the medium’s financial and material needs. For this reason, remunerated mediumship is not a recommended practice.

One might argue that discouraging mediums from charging for their services will prevent the good ones from devoting their whole time for the activity, thus depriving many people of the benefits of their work. The flaw of this argument resides in the misunderstanding of what a good medium really is. As it was pointed out earlier, a good medium is not only the one who has a good control of the mechanics that governs the mental and spiritual connections with the communicating spirit, but also the one who can earn the trust of evolved and loving spirits, who accept to utilize the medium as the instrument of their work. When mediumship becomes a source of revenue, selflessness has a greater chance to be partially or totally replaced by self-centeredness, thus discouraging or even impeding the intervention of benefactor spirits, and favoring the intervention of less evolved spirits, more attuned to the lower vibratory state of the medium.

In conclusion, mediumship is a gift intended to bring us solace, knowledge and light to our spiritual path. Meaningful and dignifying mediumship is the one that enlightens, educates, edifies, and unites us, but it can only be achieved with the concurrence of evolved and loving spirits along with the work of mediums committed to their own inner reform and to a humble and selfless practice focused solely on those they were given the opportunity to assist. When financial recompense is present, there is a risk for the focus on the work to move away from the spiritual needs of the assisted and towards the medium’s material necessities and appetites. This shift in the focus and intention of the medium has a direct impact on the level of the spirits who will do the work, and therefore, in the quality of its outcome. Hence, paid mediumship should be avoided. The problem is not the payment itself, but the selfish intentions that might result from it. In fact, a medium who does not charge but uses his/her mediumistic faculties in an ostentatious manner, as a tool for self-promotion, will incur in the same problem. Mediumship with pride and egotism invariably produces futile results. In order to fulfill its dignifying mission mediumship must always be fueled by love and a sincere and selfless desire to serve.

References

[1] Francisco Cândido Xavier and Waldo Vieira, Among Brothers of Other Lands, Edicei of America, 2011.

[2] Rodrigo Machado, Disseminating Spiritism Worldwide: Quo Vadimus?, The Spiritist Magazine, 14 Jan-Jun 2011.

[3] Ricardo C. Mastroleo, Disseminating Spiritism in the United States, The Spiritist Magazine, 17 AprJun 2012.

[4] Allan Kardec, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Chapter 26, International Spiritist Council, 2004.

[5] Allan Kardec, The Mediums’ Book, Chapter 28, International Spiritist Council, 2006.

[6] Andre Luiz, through the mediumship of Francisco Cândido Xavier, In the Domain of Mediumship, Chapter 13, International Spiritist Council, 2006.

[7] Allan Kardec, The Mediums’ Book, Chapter 20, International Spiritist Council, 2006.