From Divine Spark to Free Will and Beyond

Based on article originally published in Portuguese by Paulo Henrique de Figueiredo at: http://revolucaoespirita.com.br/livre-arbitrio-espiritos-superiores. Translated to English and adapted by Rodolfo de Oliveira.

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St. Augustine  officially converted to Christianity on the year 386, when he became a priest in Milan, Italy. After living quietly in a farm, with relatives and some disciples, he suffered with the death of his mother caused by a fulminating disease. While awaiting the arrival of the ship that would take him back to his native land, which currently corresponds to the geographic location of Algeria, North Africa, he wrote the book “De libero arbitrio” (The free will). The concept of “free will”, which in the future would become a fundamental term of the Spiritist doctrine, was then born.

Augustine had in mind his own experience of life, a contrast between a youth filled with earthly excesses, particularly with women and night life; and now his dedication to the life of a monk. He pondered about the fundamental cause of evil. This was for him a key point of meditation.

At first, the manicheist hypothesis seduced him. An ancient idea, born from Zoroaster’s thoughts in the Arab world.  There would be two great forces, one for good and the other for evil, competing in the universe for supremacy and influence. But this current of thought was considered a heresy, false teaching, being opposed fiercely by Augustine himself.

In this period of history the doctrine of the church was in formation, and there was no place for diverse debates and opinion. The aim  was to establish undeniable dogmas. The problem of evil, hence, posed some fundamental points than ought to be observed. Firstly, God cannot be the creator of evil as this would contradict his infinite goodness. Secondly, evil couldn’t be an opposing force either, a power capable of putting at risk the divine supremacy in the universe. The whole of the understanding of reality cannot contain contradictions that would erode it, destroying its logic.

In his work, Augustine established that evil must proceed from the choice of man; a wrongful choice, different from the determination of the divine good – therefore evil. The cause of sin, then, lies in the free will of people, which is the potential to choose. Liberty, in turn, is the right choice. That is the difference between free will and liberty in his book.

The goods to which people are exposed in the world can be divided between superior goods, which are the virtues, and inferior goods, which are the pleasures of the body. Something’s are intermediary, middle goods, so to speak. Free will, for instance, was in this middle category. Augustine built a logic to classify the experiences of human beings, considering it as a union of two substances: the soul and the body.

When we are under divine grace, Augustine proposes, our choice is oriented to the higher goods, hence the good and the happiness, and later the divine rewards. This is the condition of liberty. On the other hand, when we act without grace, we choose inferior goods, exercising free will, and thus creating sin, the cause of misfortunes, sufferings and eternal punishment.

A millennium and a half later, the teachings of superior spirits, in the dialogues with Allan Kardec and other spiritist researchers, led them to a new explanation, adequate to modern times. The key point to comprehend the new understanding is that Augustine analyzed the issue considering that human life is one, and in it will be resolved its destiny. He also believed, as most of the ancient world, that the soul had been created perfect by God, with all virtues, and degenerated by sin. For the church, every human being is born with original sin, degenerating its essence.

Spiritism, however, was founded when mankind lived the awakening of a new era, determined by freedom of thought and freedom from systems and dogmas. It was not believed that the world would be destroyed by God to give way to paradise. Instead, it was believed that united and determined, it would be possible to regenerate humanity, creating a new world, in the path of happiness. The means would be education and acts of duty, which was the determined use of reason and free will. People choose only what they understand, so free will is subordinated to the use of reason. This is the fundamental importance of education in transforming humanity according to rational spiritualists, free-thinkers of the XIX century.

Society, studying morality independent of religious dogmas, was identifying a new place for free will, now associated with rational thought. But other doubts took place in the debate. Physical pleasures being also “good”, why would their pursuit be an evil? Nature could not oppose divine laws, after all God created both the material and the moral worlds. God would not establish a contradiction, a trap, a trick to submit humankind to error by deception. Pleasure is a natural impulse, everyone feels it, even animals.

The answer of the rational spiritualists, who dominated the moral sciences in Kardec’s time, was brilliant, as Paul Janet explains it in his Elementary Treatise of Philosophy (1879): “Pleasures are good, but they are not the principle of good.” It’s an idea to think about carefully! The materialists who regards pleasure as the fundamental impulse of good are confusing things. Pleasure is a natural good, for it leads human beings to their self-preservation, as well as the species. However, it is not the principle of moral good. The individual acts for the moral good when he freely and rationally chooses what is best for all, based on the moral laws present in its consciousness. Interesting, solves a lot, but does not explain everything properly.

An even better solution lies in spiritism. According to Kardec, spiritism is a complement to rational spiritualism, which was a dominant philosophical movement in the university of its time. The spirits teach, solving the question, that the soul is a progressive, evolving being, elaborating its potentials in three phases of its existence: soul (or spirit), intellect-moral and finally co-creator. Let’s explain this better.

The animistic phase goes from the atom to the higher animal. In this period, the spiritual principle is developed naturally by the impulse of the pleasures and pains, then governed by the instincts and passions, elaborating itself through the evolution of species. It passes through trillions of lives, experiencing the mineral, vegetable and animal states, without ever being conscious of this trajectory.

Then comes the human life, when the intellectual-moral evolution occurs. The soul, at this stage, begins simple and unlearned, that is, without morality and intelligence. In the first few lives, not much change is affected, Kardec explains, continuing the spirit under the infallible command of the instincts. After hundreds or thousands of lives, reason starts to bring forth the understanding. Only then does free will develop the capacity for rational choice, that is, with an understanding of the options. Only then the spirit becomes responsible for both the mistakes made and the progress made. It is important to stress: According to Spiritism, free will is a capacity that the spirit achieves progressively, sustained by reason.

 Finally, when the spirit awakens its virtues and overcomes all imperfections contracted over time, it begins to assume missions in the universe. It assists other spirits overcome their difficulties; become the protector spirit of someone; help a family, a group, a nation, a planet. It can then participate in the creation and evolution of the species of a planet, then acquire responsibilities to an entire solar systems, then galaxies and so forth. The co-creative spirits assist God in the establishment of universal harmony, voluntarily and cooperatively.

The reality of free will, thus understood, shows all its logic and purpose in divine creation. All developed spirits have come to this condition by their dedicated effort in thousands of lives, conquering each of their virtues, and overcoming any imperfection they may have experienced in their past. Like them, we are forgers of our own destinies and ability to act in the good.

We have already overcome the almost endless animistic evolution in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. We have overcome the thousands of first lives aimed solely to awaken intelligence and free will. We now must make use of these instruments of the soul to overcome attachments and imperfections, facing the challenges of life, and awakening the qualities that will be the tools to act in the universe in favor of universal harmony, our reason for being and source of true happiness.

 

Psychic Self-Defense in Multiple Relationship Domains

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Important preliminary point: People’s minds do not operate on their own, but in network. Our intellectual life takes place in a network that involves multiple intelligences (human being in physical and non-physical forms) in vibrational resonance. We are constantly surrounded and interacting with other intelligences that harmonize with us at some level. They are drawn to us due to common interests, desires, experiences, ties from the past, etc. The invisible world exerts significant influence upon us, good and bad. So common is this influence that we can say we are all mediums, just in different degrees of awareness and intensity of the phenomena. Our virtues, good intentions and efforts in a moral path connect us with intelligences aligned with such energies. Our vices, evil inclinations, flaws of character and rebellious behavior connect us with intelligences that align with such vibrations and allow them to influence us. Therefore, the most important aspect of our spiritual practice is in the moral realm (and any spiritual practice devoid of a moralizing factor can be considered dead and flawed). This is why Jesus advised us to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. The depth of such statement can’t be summarized in a few words, but we’d like to highlight the following aspects: 1. Know yourself. 2. Strive to love yourself to your highest potential. 3.  Because you love yourself, strive to rid yourself from all flaws of character you identify within yourself. 4. Love all other God’s creations to the limit of your ability.

“459. Do spirits influence our thoughts and actions? ‘They often direct both; their influence is greater than you suppose, for very frequently it is they who guide you.’ ” [1]

If the elements covered above are clear to you, we can now proceed to exploring our relationship with non-physical intelligences to a higher degree. Where do they come from?  How can they help or harm? How their influence fit in the perspective of inner reform, awakening to a spiritual life and contribution to the development of Earth?

Life exposes us to multiple forms of relationships. Relationships are critical to our development as each person with whom we interact work as a mirror of ourselves. In this sense, healthy relationships reflect our internal harmony and unhealthy relationships reflect our internal conflicts and dissatisfactions. While we are influenced by all relationships to some degree, some of them receive more of our own energy, dedication, time, etc. Our level of involvement, intimacy, vested interest and exposure naturally provide them a characteristic and proportional psychic intensity (strength, lasting effect, probability and nature of multiple psychic influences). In other words, where we spend most of our energy and time is also where we are probably most exposed to psychic influences and where those influences maintain the stronger and more lasting connection with us (psychic intensity). The nature of such influences will depend on our moral inclinations and the direction we give to our though and will – good or bad.

For instance, consider our life in society. We are influenced by our culture, customs, language, etc. In the society where we express ourselves, we have a good idea of what is accepted, rejected, supported or disdained in multiple situations. In many situations, however, we might feel like we don’t really need to care about people’s opinions regarding what we do or think. This is a clear indication that the societal domain typically has a low psychic intensity. Unless we gather their contact information, we might not re-encounter someone we talked to at a park or in a leisurely day at the beach. This is the same from an invisible perspective, so that most likely the intelligences (incarnated or discarnate) we interact with today in the societal relationship domain won’t be seen again tomorrow or ever. Relationships in the societal domain can be described as casual.

“Question 767. Is absolute isolation contrary to the law of nature? ‘Yes, since man instinctively seeks society, and since all men are intended to help forward the work of progress by aiding one another.’

Question 770. What is to be thought of those who live in absolute seclusion in order to escape the pernicious contact of the world? ‘The life of such persons is doubly selfish. In avoiding one evil, they fall into another, since they forget the law of love and charity.’” [1]

Now, consider our professional environment. This is already a much different relationship domain, with stronger psychic strength. In the professional domain, we are typically expected to attend specific physical locations where work takes place and interact regularly with the individuals whom are there. Because of the higher frequency of interaction, time of exposure, vested interest and energy spent in this environment, the relationships we maintain in this domain have a much stronger influence and impact over our psyche. We are more careful on our approach in this domain. Things we just wouldn’t care about in a societal relationship domain, when affecting the professional relationship domain might matter a lot more! For instance, some people might not care about screaming at someone in a traffic jam or being disrespectful somehow – but if we then learn that the person we interacted with is a co-worker, then things get a little different, isn’t it? Some people here in Oregon, for instance, enjoy attending to nudist sites. But how does it sound bumping into a co-worker there? Yeah, chances are it is not that cool! So, if we are clear about those two domains, let’s insert a new one into this picture. Let’s call it friendship circles. In this domain, relationships start getting more personal. We might not spend the same time we do at work with friends, but friends are people we get to know more intimately and that know us more deeply too. We typically have something in common with our true friends. In other words, we are in energetic or vibratory resonance with them – and naturally might harmonize with their invisible influences too. We are more opened to being ourselves around friends. In a professional setting, people are typically careful about the ideas and opinions shared. Among frinds, this is remarkably different. The emotional connection in this relationship domain is stronger, promoting an environment of safety and trust.

Continuing the logic developed thus far, we can now explore the relationship domain here described as the extended family. This domain is composed of those individuals connected by ties of family but that do not participate on the same household. We can change country, state, city, address. We can change jobs and friends, but family will always be family. It is true that the psychic intensity maintain with certain family members might not be as strong as perhaps some of a professional nature, but if a regular relationship is maintained, then there is a lasting factor of the family bonds that shouldn’t be neglected. In any case, the central point we are developing in this text is that different relationships have different psychic intensities. The relationship domains explored here are not supposed to be applicable in all case, but just theoretical frames of references that allow us to understand the logic of spiritual influences. The final relationship domains we’d like to note are the conjugal life and our relationship with ourselves. None of the former relationship domains noted here have the intensity, the lasting factor, the depth of intimacy and the demand of love and moral virtues observed in the conjugal life (assuming this relationship is taken seriously by the partners, of course). But if love partners have a deep bond established among them, no relationship can be as profound as that we have with ourselves. This is why most psychic influences happens within and affect our household environment and our relationship with ourselves – therefore the importance of knowing ourselves cannot be underestimated.

We hope that at this point it is abundantly clear that the multiple relationship domains we maintain have different levels of psychic intensity according to their own nature. This means, we are more likely to suffer spiritual obsessions (or spiritual attacks) coming from our family circles than from that leisurely day at the beach. This also means we will have more conflicts coming from our family circles that from that leisurely day at the beach… We should also not ignore such conflicts and simply focus on peacefully enjoying that leisurely day at the beach. Doing so would be a waste of time and an escape from the urgent need for inner reform. Remember, relationships are mirrors of ourselves and conflicts that are painful to us typically indicate something we have to revise within ourselves. But, just in case, let’s be a little clearer on this point. We are not instigating you to pick fights and engage in conflict. We are simply suggesting that our spiritual development only takes place when we successfully manage the conflicts within them – with love and maturity. A spiritually developed person is only that who can bring peace where there was anger and warmongering; hope where there was only despair and delusion, and light where a blinding darkness prevailed.

In a previous post from our site (“What is the measure of your spiritual wisdom?”), it was mentioned that the measure of our spiritual development is related to the quality and impact of our influence in the environments with which we engage. This influence takes place in all of those relationship domains. So what is your ability to make peace by inspiring others? What is your qualification to manage discordance with empathy, love and honesty? How much light do you bring to the multiple relationship domains you maintain? Are you inspired by a network of intelligences working for the common good of the cosmos or those that simply inspire you to do whatever is best for your own self-interest? Are you defending privileges or promoting a world of freedom and equal access to opportunities?

In order to develop adequate psychic self-defense, it is critical that we understand our personal goals in each of those domains. Where are we doing well, where are we failing. What do we want to achieve in each of them, and why. What to watch for and how/when to contribute. Start with your relationship with yourself and work your thoughts up to your relationship with your spouse, family, workplace and society. Remember that a consequence of operating in a network means that if we don’t know what we want, defend and care about – then other intelligences will fill the void. Therefore, it all starts by knowing who we are and what we stand for. If we don’t have a working compass for our relationship with ourselves, then most likely our other relationship domains won’t be functional either.

If we trust the spiritual realm has plans to bring peace and order to our world, than know that we are right, but they depend on human hands – which actually live in this world to do the job. They do this by inspiring those of us who want to learn to face conflict and transform ourselves. They understand that external changes can only be a natural consequence of internal reforms (see our post “Inner light to a brighter future”). We are their mediums, all of us who seek to change and make change. But, more than ask for change, we must be the change we want to see. Be the change, not forgetting that it starts with us, our relationships with those who are most dear to us, and so on… before impacting the whole of society. So, again, what positive impact are you making to yourself? How about your spouse or significant other? Family? Friends? Are you contributing to their development? Are you learning with your conflicts in those relationship realms? Are you inclined to peace, love, freedom, trust and good on them? Or you seek to dominate, dictate what’s right and wrong, acceptable or not, expected or not. Are you coherent with what you defend? Are your actions coherent with your speech and is your speech coherent with your mind? Are your head and hands occupied? Do you ONLY and ALWAYS employ words for good? How malicious and futile is your mouth? Do you fear silence and need to find ways to distract your mind (with alcohol, narcotic drugs, loud music, work stuff, sports, etc.)? Do you demand from others more than from yourself? Do you suppose the annoyances from others only indicate changes they need to make? Do you take others as ungrateful or evil? Are you easily influenced by money, power, fame or the need for appreciation and recognition? One more: do you know who you are and what you stand for? The following section has been extracted from The Gospel According to Spiritism, from Allan Kardec for being a remarkable good reference for moral development and psychic self-defense. Peace, love and much work to all!

 

Moral Persons [2]

Truly moral persons are those who practice the law of justice, love and charity in its greatest purity. If they question their conscience about their actions, they ask themselves if they have violated this law; if they have done any evil; if they have done all the good they could; if they have willingly disregarded any opportunity to be useful; if anyone might have a complaint about them; and, finally, if they have done unto others everything they would like to have done unto themselves.

They have faith in God, and in God’s goodness, justice and wisdom. They know that nothing happens without God’s permission, so they submit to the Divine Will in everything.

They have faith in the future; thus, they place spiritual possessions above temporal ones.

They know that all the vicissitudes of life, all its sorrows and all its disappointments are trials or expiations, and they accept them without complaining.

Persons imbued with the sentiment of charity and love for their neighbor do the good for its own sake without expecting anything in return, and they repay evil with good, defend the weak against the strong and always sacrifice their own interests to the interests of justice.

                They find their satisfaction in the benefits they spread around, the service they render, the happiness they promote, the tears they dry and the consolation they provide to the afflicted. Their first impulse is to think of others before thinking of themselves and to attend to the interests of others before their own. The selfish, on the other hand, calculate the profits and losses entailed in every generous act.

Moral persons are kind, humane and benevolent toward all regardless of race or creed, because they regard all people as their brothers and sisters.

They respect all sincere convictions that others might hold to and they do not anathematize those who do not think like they do.

In all circumstances charity is their guide; they tell themselves that those who harm others with malevolent words, who hurt others’ feelings with their pride and disdain, who do not recoil from the idea of causing suffering or difficulty, however slight, when it could be avoided, fail in their duty of love for their neighbor and do not deserve the Lord’s clemency.

They hold no hatred or rancor, or desire for vengeance. Following Jesus’ example, they forgive and forget offenses, and remember only good deeds, because they know that they will be forgiven according to how they themselves have forgiven.

They are indulgent toward others’ weaknesses, for they know that they themselves need indulgence, and they recall these words of Christ, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

They never take pleasure in searching for defects in others or in calling attention to them. If necessity forces them to do so, they always look for the good that might mitigate the evil.

They study their own imperfections and strive incessantly to combat them. All their efforts are focused on being able to say to themselves tomorrow that they are better than they were yesterday.

They do not seek to exalt their spirit or talents at the expense of others; instead, they seize every opportunity to point out what is praiseworthy in other people.

They do not gloat over their wealth or their personal advantages, for they know that everything that has been given to them can be taken away.

They use but do not abuse the possessions that have been accorded to them, for they know that they are a trust for which they will have to render an accounting, and that the worst use of them in regard to themselves would be to use them to satisfy their passions.

If the social order has placed others under their tutelage, they treat them with kindness and benevolence, because they are their equals before God. They use their authority to lift their morale and not to squash them with their pride. They avoid anything that could render their subordinates’ position more painful.

Those who are subordinate, on the other hand, understand the duties of their position and are scrupulous in consciously fulfilling them.

Finally, moral persons respect in their fellow beings all the rights arising from the laws of nature, in the same way they wish their own to be respected.

This is not a list of all the qualities that define moral persons, but whoever makes an effort to possess them is on the road that leads to all the others.

References

[1]: Kardec, Allan. The Spirits’ Book.

[2]: Kardec, Allan. The Gospel According to Spiritism.

The Link Between Men and Animals

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Basic Initial Clarifications

The objective of this article is to discuss the title’s subject matter from the standpoint of the research conducted by the author and in light of his own understanding of the Spiritist science. Therefore, all ideas here presented are not intended to reflect the Spiritist consensus on the topic, but instead, and noting again to ensure transparency on this matter, the current perspective of the author(s) of the article based on research conducted and considering the following research model:

  1. Multiple messages obtained through mediumistic means are presented and compared.
  2. The philosophy and theories developed are evaluated in light of the body of knowledge already accepted by the Spiritist science.
  3. The philosophy and theories developed are critiqued from a rational perspective and considering any objective evidence that can be used to reason their validity.

                Anyone who would like to present evidence or logical arguments that either confirm or refute the ideas here presented is highly encouraged to do so (this is how we do Spiritist science!), as to collaborate to elevating the quality of this work. Dire to question, dire to reason your own beliefs – since unshakable truths are only those which can confront reason face to face in all epochs of humanity.

Early Spiritist Studies

To appropriately cover the topic of elementals (or spirits of nature as noted in the Spiritist codification produced by Allan Kardec) and the progress of animals towards human beings, one of the most controversial within Spiritism at Kardec’s time, it is convenient to start with a brief summary of early Spiritist studies on this topic.

Kardec first covered this topic in the first edition of the Spirit’s book, in 1857. After revisions to the Spirit’s Book were implemented t arrive at its final version, in 1858, the topic remained in suspension as no conclusion could be formulated at that time – which is natural as not even the theory of Evolution of Species of Charles Darwin was published at the time. It is thus that we have the following within the Spirit’s Book of 1858:

“(…) all spirits do not think alike with regard to the relations that exist between humans and animals. According to some, the spirit can only incarnate as a human after passing through the different degrees of the lower beings of creation. According to others, people have always belonged to the human race, without passing through the various degrees of the animal world.”[1]

The topic continued to be explored and studied within Spiritist circles. In parallel, Darwin brought about a revolution when introducing the idea of evolutionary biology. In the Spiritist Magazine of 1860, an important message has been received which is strikingly related to a contemporary message to be provided later  in this text. Here I mention this simply as to highlight the progression of ideas that you will be able to observe throughout this text. This progression of ideas will then explain why the spirits talked about animals in Happy worlds, such as Jupiter – which to some extent seem excessively mystical and dubious.

“The world is a huge staircase whose elevation is infinite, but whose base rests on a horrible chaos. What I mean is that the world is nothing else but a constant evolution of creatures. You are very low. Despite that, there are many others below you. That is because, listen well, I don’t speak about your planet only but every planet in the Universe. Don’t be afraid though, since we shall limit ourselves to planet Earth.

Before that, however, a couple of words about a planet called Jupiter, from which the ingenious and immortal Palissy has given you some strange and supernatural insights for your imagination. Remember that in one of those remarkable drawings he depicted some animals from Jupiter. Isn’t there an evident progress in them? Could you deny a level of superiority in them over the Earthly animals? Would you still see only an evolution of the form and not of intelligence, considering that the activities that they execute cannot be performed by the animals from Earth? I only mention that example to you in order to indicate already a superiority of creatures that are well below you. How about if I mentioned every globe that I know, which is about, five or six? Even on Earth, observe the existing difference among them. Then! If the variation in form is so wide, so progressive, that there is an even physical evolution, could you deny the spiritual progress to those creatures? Well then, know this, that if matter evolves, even the lowest, even more so the spirit that animates it. (Message from the spirit Charlet).

Note: In the August 1858 issue we published a plate drawn and engraved by the spirit of Bernard Palissy, representing Mozart’s house in Jupiter, with a description of that planet, which has always been described as one of the most advanced in our planetary system, morally and physically. The same spirit provided a large number of drawings about the same subject. There is one among them which shows a scene with animals, playing in the area reserved for their dwelling, at Zoroaster’s house. It is, no doubt, one of the most interesting of the collection. Among the portrayed animals there are some with a form closely resembling the Earthly human form, at the same time showing something of the ape and of the satyr. Their action indicates intelligence and it is clear that their structure may be adequate to manual labor that they execute to human beings. The animals, as they say, are the servants and the servers, since human beings are only given to intelligent work. That is the reference used by Charlet above, to a drawing made more than three years ago.” [2]

In a later message, the same spirit, Charlet, notes:

“In the more advanced worlds, the animals are so much advanced that the strictest orders are passed to them by the word, whereas among you it is frequently by beating. In Jupiter, for example, one word is enough whereas among you even the whip does not suffice. There is, however, a sensible progress in your Earth which has never been explained: it is the fact that the animal evolves. Thus, in former times the animals were much more rebellious to human beings. There is also progress on your side for having understood their improvement since you forbid yourself of mistreating them. I was saying that there is moral progress in the animal. There is also a progress in their condition. In that way a poor horse, mistreated, hurt by a carter even more than the animal, will be comparatively in a much better condition, happier than its executioner. Isn’t that in all fairness and should we be surprised by the fact that a suffering, beaten animal, be rewarded for having endured a life of torture? God is just before anything else and all creatures are ruled by his laws which states: ‘every weak creature which has suffered shall be rewarded’. Always comparatively, I dare say and add that the animal sometimes has more soul, more heart than humans in many circumstances.” [2]

In 1860, though, Kardec had not drawn any conclusions regarding the evolution of animal souls into human. The topic is only considered resolved in 1865, when he writes:

“This explanation, as we see, concerns the grave question of the future of animals. We will deal with it soon enough, because it seems to us sufficiently elaborated, and we believe that we can, from today, consider it as settled in principle, by the agreement of the teaching“[3]

The explanation, can be summarized by the following excerpt:

“In the lower beings of creation, in those in which the moral sense does not exist and in which the intelligence is not yet but in the state of instinct, the fight could have no other objective but the satisfaction of a material necessity. Now, one of the most imperative material needs is that of nutrition; they struggle only to live, that is to say, to take or defend a prey, because they could not be stimulated by a higher objective. It is in this first period that the soul is elaborated and rehearsed for life. When it reaches the degree of maturity necessary for its transformation, it receives from God new faculties: free will and moral sense, divine spark in a word, which give a new course to its ideas, endow it with new aptitudes and new insights. But the new moral faculties of which it is endowed are only developed gradually, because nothing is abrupt in Nature. there is a transitional period where man is difficult to distinguish from the animal. In these early ages, the animal instinct dominates, and the struggle still has for furniture the satisfaction of material needs; later, animal instinct and moral sentiment counterbalance each other. Man then fight, not to nourish themselves, but to satisfy their ambition, their pride, the need to dominate: for all of those things it is still necessary for man to destroy. But, as the moral sense prevails, sensitivity develops, the need for destruction is reduced to the point it ends up being completely extinguished and turned into a hateful thing: man has horror of blood. However, the fight is always necessary for the development of the spirit, because even this point, which seems to us to be culminating, is far from perfect; it is still through activity that the spirit acquires knowledge, experience, and divest itself of the last vestiges of animality. But then the fight, which was bloody and brutal, becomes purely intellectual; man then fights against its difficulties and not against its peers.” [3]

This is a beautiful summary that shows a logical progression of the spirit in the animal reign towards humans. Consciousness, as we should naturally expect, develops slowly and continually. This is also in full agreement with the perspective that in our initial human existences we are simple and ignorant. It also gives us a good perspective to infer the place of Earth human inhabitants in the larger perspective of the universe’s humankind.

In 1865, then, the controversy observed in the Spirit’s book (back in 1858) is settle and the Spiritist understanding becomes that indeed the spirit can only incarnate as a human after passing through the different degrees of the lower beings of creation.

Here I’d also like to open a parenthesis to make a related point addressed to all of those engaged in understanding the Spiritist science. As you can see by what has been exposed thus far, Spiritism does not have sacred books. The “religious” approach of referring to a sacred book (or a collection thereof) where all philosophical answers can be found does not work for Spiritism because the Spirits’ teachings are progressive, dependent on our ability to understand what is being taught and a myriad of other factors. In any case, Spiritism is to be studied,  carefully and  Constantly. The Spirits’ teachings require comparisons, questions, reasoning and careful consideration against the body of knowledge already incorporated to the doctrine. This means also that the Spirits’ Book, being the first book published by Kardec, is far from being the final or even major reference to Spiritist science as codified by Kardec. Have you studied (not read, but studied, compared, scratching notes, questions, etc.) all books published by Kardec in their order of publishing? How many editions of the Spiritist Magazine have you read? Think about it!

Recent Studies

Now, back to our topic of study, I’d now like to cover how the transition from animal to human takes place according to two different spirit communications and I hope it will make sense why the spirits often mentioned the more evolved state of animals in Happy Worlds when approaching this topic at Kardec’s time – as observed in the message from 1860 we reproduced here.

“We will approach the progress of animals which are in their final phase of transition between the animal and the [human] spirit. (…)

If we make a comparison between the animals of the world Starlight [a world that, according to the spiritual author, was about eighteen thousand and two hundred years ahead of Earth, in evolutionary terms, at the time Jesus was incarnated on Earth] and those of Earth, the evolutionary distance between them is at the same distance as that of the men of today in relation to primates who inhabited caves. (…) The animals nowadays are now domesticated by man and learn so many things that really surprise us. Imagine in a few thousand years! (…) If we did a thorough analysis, these spirits found in those worlds [more evolved, particularly Happy Worlds as per the Spiritist classification of worlds], would not be considered animals in comparison to terrestrial animals, they would be considered hominal spirits.

Explaining better the issue of the missing link [between animals and men], which is a great puzzle to most scholars seeking clarification on Earth, we find no other way to speak about these animal spirits of the blessed worlds. When these intelligent principles inhabit animal bodies in a more perfect form and reach a certain degree of intellectual evolution, they begin to inhabit these worlds where a process of transitioning them to Happy Worlds is carried out. (…)

The animals that inhabit the superior worlds are those that have reached a greater degree of evolution. Those who are in the spiritual plane are more evolved than those of the planet Earth, except for those who have disincarnated there [on Earth] and are waiting for their next reincarnation [on Earth] to continue their evolution. These animals are still attached to the physical world, but you may consider that the animals that are working on the spiritual plane are far more evolved than the others. (…)

In the world Starlight, their sorting is done as follows: The agents of farms that have laboratories conduct intellectual experiments to test the animals’ I.Q.. They place them [the animals] to conduct certain activities and observe those that do well. Those who can do the job better and more quickly are separated from the others. The agents continue t perform this sorting, alternating the animals’ job duties. When they master themselves, they are given the task of guiding those inferiors to them. In this condition, they cease to be commanded and become commanders. Among the Bedouins on planet Earth, the leader takes the lead using brute physical force. In the higher worlds one becomes a leader who is more intelligent. At the moment they begin to command, they also begin to reason because they have the ability to have a continuous thought, to plan what to do to as to effectively carry out the task. Then, animals that are in the condition of command, begin to reason and in that way they are perfecting their work and using attributes that make them faster, more constructive and perfect. (…)

The higher spirits who work in this organization constantly devote to them fraternal feeling and love, so the animals feel as if they were their real children. With the affection that these spirits pass on to them and the great support they receive, they are motivated to continue, more and more, seeking a greater degree of intellectual progress. It’s like a wheel that cannot stop to keep up with the rhythm of the speed. After many millions of years of experience in various sectors of the work of intellectual awakening, the animals also create, by their own efforts, a spiritual atmosphere around them. In this way they give rise to their perispiritual form through the effort of their own labor and their own mind, fed by thoughts and the repetitive moments of elaborating and planning what they have been doing for a long time in the spiritual realm.

When acquiring continuous thought, their perispirit does not disintegrate anymore. The animal has conquered the individuality by his own effort, its work and the help of the spiritual benefactors who intuit them and encourage them to work. Between them and the spiritual friends, there is also a bond of friendship and gratitude. They discarnate. Start to have a spiritual life and change their bodies. In spirituality, they adopt a more sublime and delicate perispirit, being even more opened to receiving help from their spiritual benefactors.

This is the transition point. Animals, with all affection and love, are then taken to primitive worlds. They go through a process of “incarnation”, not in physical body, but in the spiritual dimension of these worlds, so that they may have a new body, a new life; living as elementals [Kardec refer to Elementals as Spirits of nature] who have the role of working in nature, carrying out heavier duties in the preparation of these worlds, so that, one day, they may be able to receive them. Remembering that in the elemental realm these spirits who act in the nature have great intuitive capacity to receive inspirations and orientations of the superior spirits and thus, their works can be executed in perfect harmony. However, the instinct of conservation remains very strong throughout their life trajectory, since they need to develop, more and more, the capacity for reasoning.

These spirits are led by higher spirits. (…) In this trajectory within the elemental kingdom, they will still live for billions and billions of years until it is time to have their first experience reincarnating as a man. In the first few times they will still have severe difficulties, since the spirit, when reincarnated, loses immense potential. So that we can estimate the loss, when the spirit is disincarnated it has its reasoning capacity at one hundred percent. (…) But when it reincarnates, it can only absorb, after much effort and dedication, twenty percent of what it brings in its evolutionary baggage.”[4]

Another reference indicates a similar perspective. Besides the reference to Christ, note the similarities between the animals evolution passing through continuously more evolved worlds until they reach their most evolved state as an animal of a Happy World. Then, they are sent to Primitive worlds where they first work as elementals until they are able to experience their first human incarnations.

“To this date, the scientists on Earth look for the so called “lost link”. They are after concrete evidence, material proof of the union between the animal and the human being and seek to identify the exact moment when this would have occurred. In vain. The spirits of nature, beings that completed their evolutionary process in the previous kingdoms to  the human species, live in the transition phase, which we call elemental. However, the process of humanization, or, more precisely, the sidereal instant in which they acquire the light of reason and become human spirits, only Christ knows. Jesus, as the ultimate representative of the Father on the planet Earth, is the only one who has the science and power to grant these beings the light of reason. And this does not take place on Earth, but in special worlds, prepared for this kind of transition. Kardec himself, whom I was able to study while still incarnated, addresses the existence of these worlds in The Spirits’ Book.

When the right timing comes, these beings are led to transition words in a sleeping state and, under the direct interference of Christ, they will awaken in his presence, possessors of the eternal flame of reason. From then on, they are sent to primitive worlds, where they will experience their first incarnations in the humanities of these orbs. This is the reason for the failure of the scientists search: they seek, on Earth, the connecting link, the missing link between the animal world and the human world. They will never find it. The evidence is not on planet Earth, but belongs exclusively to the cosmic plane, administered by Christ.” [5]

Two messages are still not enough to form definitive conclusions, but it’s interesting to note the logical content of the paradigm presented, indicating that indeed there are many dwellings in the father’s mansion and as human beings we have already lived in many of them. The ideas here presented also show the first human incarnation as a point when the now human spirit is “simple and ignorant”, in harmony with a basic Spiritist understanding. There is a clear harmony with the logical expectation of progressive intellectual development and a beautiful solidarity among beings of different levels of evolution.

Bonus: But what really are Elementals?

Let’s start with two questions from the Spirit’s Book.

Question 537: The mythology of ancient civilizations is entirely based on Spiritist ideas with the difference that they viewed spirits as deities. They represented those gods with special attributes; some controlled the wind, others lightning, while others ruled over plants and vegetation, and so on. Is this belief groundless?

“It is so groundless that it is far from having any semblance of truth.”

a) By the same reason could spirits somehow inhabit the core of the Earth and rule over the development of geological phenomena?

“Those spirits definitely do not live within the Earth, but they direct its developments according to their various terms. One day you will receive an explanation of all these phenomena, and you will then understand them better.Do the spirits who exert power over natural phenomena act intelligently and with conscious intent, or from an instinctive and irrational impulse?

Question 540: Do the spirits who exert power over natural phenomena act intelligently and with conscious intent, or from an instinctive and irrational impulse?

“Some act in one way, and others in another. Let us make a comparison: think of the hosts of animals that gradually formed islands and archipelagos in the ocean. Do you think that the transformation of the Earth’s surface has no Divine purpose and is not necessary to general harmony?”

“All this is accomplished by animals of the lowest degree that are simply providing for their physical needs without being aware that they are God’s instruments. In the same way, spirits of the most rudimentary degrees are useful to the general whole. While preparing for life, and before having full awareness of their acts and of their free will, they act upon certain phenomena in which they are the unwitting agents. They begin by executing the orders of their superiors and when their intelligence is more developed, they direct the processes of the material world. Further along, they are able to direct the effects of the moral world. This is how everything is useful, everything in nature is linked together, from the original atom to the archangel, who began as an atom. This is an admirable law of harmony that your mind is still too narrow to fully comprehend.”

We see that the spirit’s clearly didn’t want to approach the topic in great detail at that time. Now, let’s see some additional information, more contemporary, provided by Robson Pinheiro’s book Aruanda.

“Elementals are beings that have not yet passed through the stage of humanity. Originating from the lower realms of nature and more specifically from the animal kingdom, they have not yet entered the human species. For this reason they bring a very intense instinctive and primary content. For them, man is a god. It is customary, even natural, to obey the human being and, in this process, they bind to man intensely. Therefore, my son, every medium is responsible not only for the communications given through him/her, but also for his/her good or bad use of these powers and beings of nature. (…)

Goblins and gnomes are elementals linked to forests and, many of them, to deserted places. They have a dwarf form, reminiscent of the human aspect. They like to walk through the woods and forests, giving signs of their presence through snakes and birds. (…)

The ondines are linked more specifically to streams, springs, as well as the dew near these places. We cannot fail to also mention their relation to the rain. (…) The nymphs, elementals that resemble the ondines, present themselves with the spiritual form involved in a blue aura and radiate intense luminosity. (…)

We also have elementals that relate to the earth, which we call avissais. They are usually associated with rocks, underground caves, and sometimes come to the surface. They act as transformers, converting material elements into energy. They are also precious helpers in the work of good spirits, especially when there is a need to create clothing and clothing for materialized spirits. As they are connected to the earth, they bring a quota of primary energy essential for the reconstitution of the perispiritual appearance of materialized entities, including at times when they have lost the human form or feel as having their limbs and organs torn apart.” [5]

Reference

[1] Kardec, Allan. The Spirits’ Book.

[2] Kardec, Allan. Spiritist Magazine of 1860.

[3] Kardec, Allan. Spiritist Magazine of 1865.

[4] Resende, Izoldino. Planeta Terra em Transição (Planet Earth in Transition). 2012. Dictaded by the spirit Ismael through psychofony.

[5] Pinheiro, Robson. Aruanda. 204. Dictated by the spirit ângelo Inácio through psycography.

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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