A Proposal for Spiritists Within and Outside Brazil

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First of all, let me note that in this text I am presenting my personal perspective on Spiritism. Let me also note that this text is addressed to people of all nationalities, although primarily focused on the American public with which I have more direct contact. With these two basic parameters clarified, let me then mention that I consider myself an areligious free-thinker. The practice of rational spirituality based on Christ’s moral values (which are not religious values) and a lucid and disciplined sense of scientific exploration interests me more than the blind adherence to dogmas. It was and still is in this framework that Spiritism presents itself as a divine gift, allowing me to be a scientist of the spirit and understand my place in the universe. By pulling out the roots of materialism, mysticism and dogmatism out of the knowledge once restricted to religions, it creates the base that every spiritualist should know for further exploration. The spirits have multiple times over the centuries told us that knowledge is spread all over the Earth and continue to encourage us to study. It is thus my understanding that by studying this knowledge that has been sowed throughout all lands and cultures we demonstrate our fraternity, lucidity and freedom. It is by advancing the science of the visible and invisible that we honor the legacy of Allan Kardec. It is only when collaboration among all peoples takes place that Spiritism will have fulfilled its mission; uniting us all through true Christian values (and here, I am not talking about adoration of Christ, but the practice of the ethical values he taught and practiced).

In our present state of spiritual and moral development, it is not reasonable we expect to have final answers to complex questions. This also applies to Spiritism. As multiple other Sciences, Spiritism isn’t the end, but only a mean of exploration of our internal and external worlds. Spiritists around the world, then, should not focus only in learning its present Brazilian version – which, by the way, is quite different than the original Spiritism developed in France by Allan Kardec (if you can’t tell the differences, you must study more!). Spiritists around the world then should learn the Spiritist Method, its basic concepts and rationale and use this knowledge to explore new niches of wisdom still untouched. How much has the Spirit of Truth and a multitude of other evolved spirits sowed in your own culture? Did good spirits only inspire Spiritist mediums, scientists, writers, etc.? We need to think Spiritism not as a painting on the wall, showing only one image, created decades or centuries ago, and that now requires constant restoration to continue to show some of its original splendor. No, we need to think Spiritism as a window that allows us to explore the entire cosmos.

So, can we study the works of Edgar Cayce or Barbara Ann Brennan in light of Spiritism? How about Arthur Conan Doyle, William Denton, William Walker Atkinson, Charles Leadbeater, Karl Popper, Rupert Sheldrake, Amit Goswami, and so many others. I have to be very honest at this point. So many Spiritists in the U.S., where I presently live, wish more Spiritist books originally written in Portuguese were translated to English. This is fair and understandable, however, how many American Spiritists (again, arguments and ideas here presented can be extended to all nationalities) have read and understood the basic books of Allan Kardec, all already translated to English? How many have read and understood the books from Chico Xavier dictated by André Luiz, also to the most part already available in English? Just those books are sufficient to provide a solid Spiritist foundation and provide the appropriate tools for further exploration. Then, why shouldn’t Spiritists study the spirit communications, ideas and research developed in their land not necessarily under a Spiritist perspective? Who are the scientists the spirits are inspiring nowadays? Where are them and what is their science? Listen, my friends, Spiritism is not a painting to hang on the wall, but window to explore the universe!

Do you happen to know the work of Edith Fiore, an American psychologist who emphasizes the importance of the aura to good health? She notes that the aura is for the emotional, mental and spiritual dimension of an individual just as the immunologic system is for the physical body. Isn’t it intriguing? So, what led her to arrive at those conclusions? How does this fit with the current Spiritist knowledge? Yes, you have much to learn with Brazilians, but you also have much to teach. In fact, so does the rest of this planet. If Brazil has the potential to be the heart of the world, what is the heart without a brain? More or less the same as a brain without heart, as both would be limited and impaired – therefore the need (and beauty) for collaboration.

To conclude, let me note that the Spiritist method is discussed here (https://oregonspiritistsociety.com/2017/06/10/spiritist-method/) and propose that more Spiritists dedicate their time to make sound analysis of relevant authors, thinkers and researchers in light of Spiritism. What is the objective support of their theories? If correct, what would be the consequences of such ideas to Spiritism? Could and should Spiritist groups work in partnership with research centers? How can we recover the Science that once was the cornerstone of Spiritism? We need scientists of the cosmos (internal and external)! To what extent can you say you contribute to this work?

If you liked this post, watch the youtube video we created with a similar and relater content:

Love, peace and light to all!

The Spiritist Method of Study & How to Advance Spiritism Today

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Introduction

In this text, we will study what is the Spiritist Science, its Method of research and how it applies to your belief systems and your possible contributions to the emergence of spirituality free from dogmas and mysticism on Earth. In this process, we hope it will become clear that the antagonism between science and spirituality is only apparent. In our view, such antagonism stems from two factors: 1. The formal sciences reluctance to consider the existence of non-physical dimensions of nature and life, albeit sizable sum of evidence supports this idea. 2. Spiritualist and religious people’s reluctance to question and test their paradigms, entering the real of rational faith instead of blind faith. Both are trapped in their own dogmas and egoistic beliefs. Both are not prepared for the new millennia. So, if you also seek a solution for this dilemma, this text is also for you!

We live at a time when scientific research in fields such as quantum physics indicates the observer’s mind affects the result of the experiment (influence of mind over matter) and theoretical physicists work with models that predict the existence of perhaps even eleven dimensions. We live at a time when psychosomatic illnesses, physical imbalances caused by unhealthy states of mind, are seriously studied and acknowledged by at least part of the medical community. In this context, it becomes illogical, if not irrational, to continue to advocate the reduction of nature to only three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. Likewise, it is inappropriate for this modern humanity, equipped with research methods sufficiently advanced to demystify many of the mystical beliefs of the past, to continue to practice faith without reason. In fact, both science and spirituality reside together in the minds and hearts of the human beings ready for the new millennium. It is primarily for them that we write this text as only they would be able to live and appreciate Spiritism to its full potential. So, let’s start with what is Spiritism!

Spiritism is defined by its founder, Allan Kardec, as “the science that studies the origin, the nature and the destination of the spirits, as well as its relation with the corporeal world. It is at the same time a science of observation and a philosophy of moral consequences.” Compare it with a modern definition of science, such as “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of an object through observation and experiment” and it becomes obvious that two elements are essential for anything that aims to be designated as science: The object and the method of study of such object, which obviously must be adequate to the nature of such object. So, if pipettes are appropriate for the study of chemistry and scalpels to the study of medical anatomy, what are the instruments appropriate for the study of the spirit? Is it impossible to scientifically study realities not observed by our five basic senses? Allan Kardec did not see this impossibility and designed the Spiritist Science applying reasoning and adapted scientific methodologies to study spiritual phenomena and the ideas proposed by multiple spirits. However, before we delve into his Method, let’s clarify a few points about Spiritism itself as to avoid possible misconceptions about it.

“Spiritism is the new Science that comes to reveal to men, through indisputable proofs, the existence and nature of the spiritual world and its relationship with the corporeal world. It shows to us no longer as a super natural thing but, on the contrary, as one of the living and restlessly acting forces of nature, like the source of an immense number of phenomena hitherto misunderstood and thus thrown to the domain of fantastic and marvelous.” (Allan Kardec, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Chap. I, item 5.)

“Spiritism is, no doubt, a Science of observation, but it is perhaps even more a Science of reasoning and reason is the only means that can make it progress and triumph over certain resistances. Such fact is only contested if it is not understood. The explanation removes all of its marvelous character, referring it to the general laws of nature.” (Allan Kardec, The Spiritist Magazine, 1859)

“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.” (Allan Kardec, The Spiritist Magazine – October 1861)

The Spiritist Method

Kardec was not a typical man of science. Like many of the great personalities who have revolutionized the world throughout history, he allied a rational and curious personality completed by a seemingly incorruptible character. He was not adept to any particular spiritualist line of thought, but a scientist seeking to gain scientific understanding of allegedly spiritual phenomena occurring with certain frequency in multiple parts of the globe (and only for this reason attracting his attention, or curiosity). As an ethical scientist, he remained neutral, observing the phenomena itself as the object of study and drawing conclusions only after careful consideration of relevant facts. Anyone who impartially read his books – especially The Mediums’ Book – would come to this same conclusion. This is important to note because he didn’t resort of science as a way to prove his own points, a practice unfortunately common to scientists and spiritualists. In fact, Kardec’s studies changed to a large degree his own ideas.

“I applied the experimental method to this science [Spiritism], not accepting preconceived theories. I observed carefully, compared and deduced consequences. By the deduction and chaining of the facts, I sought to raise from effects to causes, not admitting an explanation as valuable unless it could solve all the difficulties of the matter. That is how I always proceeded in my previous works since the age of 15.

I soon understood the seriousness of the task I was about to undertake, and saw on those phenomena the key to the so obscure and controversial problem of the past and the future of humankind, to which a solution I lived searching to find. It was therefore a complete revolution in the ideas and beliefs of the world. Hence, it was necessary to proceed with circumspection and not careless, to be positive and not idealistic, as not to let myself be led by illusions.” (Allan Kardec, Posthumous Works)

In developing his Spiritist studies, Kardec proceeded in the same way our “conventional” scientific studies are carried out, adopting a Method that allowed for a rigorous analysis of the reproduction of the phenomena, the logic of the theories proposed and their coherence with what can be objectively observed and with other concepts already proposed and verified. Kardec’s Method, in its thoroughness and simplicity, we venture to say, is probably the most revolutionary aspect of the doctrine itself, since most spiritual ideas proposed by Spiritism were already raised by other fields of human knowledge. Kardec, however, understood well the nature of spirit communications as an object of study and the pitfalls that the lack of a method of study could bring to Spiritist studies.

“One of the first results that I gathered from my observations was that the spirits, being nothing more than the souls of men, possessed neither the full wisdom nor the integral science; That their knowledge was confined to the degree of advance they had obtained, and that their opinion had only the value of a personal opinion. Recognized from the beginning, this truth preserved me from the grave choice to believe in the infallibility of the spirits and prevented me from formulating premature theories, based on what had been said by one or some of them.” (Allan Kardec, Posthumous Works)

If no spirit is infallible and a method of science to study Spiritism should be considered, it is of utmost importance that we explore the Spiritist Method in more detail – and that we ask whether we are preserving its considerations to date. According to J. Herculano Pires, the Spiritist Method can be summarized by:

  1. Selection of unsuspecting medium collaborators, both from a moral standpoint, and from the purity of faculties and spiritual assistance.

  2. Control of communicating Spirits, through the coherence of their communications and the content of their language.
  3. A rigorous analysis of the communications, from the logical point of view, as well as their confrontation with demonstrated scientific truths, putting aside all that cannot be logically justified.
  4. Universal consensus, that is, concordance of the various communications, given by different mediums, at the same time and in several places, on the same subject.

 

Now, let’s see if we can identify the various elements of this Method in action through Kardec’s own description of his Method applied to the analysis of the concept of reincarnation, offered by the spirits themselves:

“We repeat what we have already said about it, that when we were taught the doctrine of the reincarnation by the spirits it was so far off from our thoughts that we had envisioned a completely different system about the antecedents of the soul, system that is in fact shared by several people. Regarding this subject the doctrine of the spirits has surprised us. We go further: it contradicted us, since it knocked our own ideas down. Hence, it is far from being a reflection of those ideas. That is not all. We did not give in at the first clash. We fought back; defended our opinion; raised objections and only surrendered before the evidence and when we noticed the insufficiency of our system to solve all questions related to this issue”. (Allan Kardec, The Spiritist Magazine, 1858)

Kardec himself was initially contrary to the idea of reincarnation. The concept proposed by the spirits forced him to consider two mutually exclusive paradigms, which he analyzed in light of reason:

“If we do not accept the plurality of corporeal existences, it would be necessary to accept that the soul is created at the same time the physical body is being formed since from two, one is correct: either the soul that animates the body at time of birth has already lived before, or it has not. Between those two hypotheses there is no middle ground; Now, from the second hypothesis, that which defends the soul did not live before, a multitude of unsolvable problems arise”. (Allan Kardec, The Spiritist Magazine, 1862)

Among the “problems” faced when rejecting Reincarnation, Kardec pointed out:

  1. Why does the soul show so diverse aptitudes and independent from the ideas acquired by education?
  2. Where does the super-normal aptitudes towards Science and Art, in children of early age come from, while others remain mediocre or inferior their whole life?
  3. Where do the innate ideas that some present and others don’t, come from?
  4. Where do premature instincts of vices or virtues; innate feelings of dignity or inferiority, in certain children come from, contrasting with the environment where they were born?
  5. Abstraction made of education, why certain men are so more advanced than others?
  6. Why are there savages and civilized men? If you take a tribal man in his diapers and educate him in the best colleges, will you turn him into a Laplace or Newton?

 

So, let’s now summarize how Kardec dealt with information provided by the spirits that differed from his own point of view:

  • At first, he did not accept Reincarnation as a reality.
  • The spirits presented the idea of Reincarnation as a reality.
  • Kardec initially objected and argued, defending his own paradigm and collecting arguments, evidence, facts.
  • Then, Kardec considered both hypotheses in light of all evidence collected and exhaustively dialoguing with the greatest diversity of spirits possible.
  • Finally, between the two systems, the most logical and compatible with the observable objective reality prevailed.

 

This example demonstrates well how Spiritism can be understood as a “science for spiritual studies”, based on critical reasoning and logical assessments of information obtained from multiple and independent mediums, in multiple places at different times. At this point, let us be very clear that we do not advocate Spiritism as the only possible venue to study spirituality or non-physical realities.  This text simply advocates that due to its well-developed scientific methodology, Spiritism can offer a path for those who seek peace between their scientific and rational side and their spiritualized nature. Spiritism allows for a “sorting” of concepts that can withstand critical reasoning and those that do not – allowing people to continue to live and practice their spirituality at least relatively free from fantasies, vague concepts of reality, mystical ideas and dogmatism.

To support this claim, consider that the formal sciences only made important progress after their studies were based on controlled experimental methods. Why then should not spiritualist ideas be put to the test through a similar approach, so that advances can also be made in this area of ​​human knowledge? It is clear that the methods must be adapted to suit the nature of the object of study, but, after Kardec’s legacy, how will such studies be carried forward and by whom? This is the question we must address later in this text (after proper understanding of the Spiritist Method).

In the introduction to his first book, The Spirits’ Book, Kardec also notes the comments below, which are relevant to a clear understanding of the Spiritist science and some of the criticism it receives for intending to study non-physical realities under a scientific perspective. Read it considering that some scientific truths of the recent past are often seen as delusions nowadays and some of the present fiction/dreams will be explained truths in the future. Our history involves a constant evolution, with science and spirituality, both, experiencing hits and misses.

“When science goes beyond the tangible observation of facts and attempts to evaluate and explain those facts, the field is opened up to conjecture. Each individual develops a system of his or her own and they must do their utmost to relentlessly defend it. Contradictory systems are suggested and rejected every day, one right after the other, disparaged as absurd errors, and then later proclaimed as incontestable truths. Facts are the sole criterion of our judgment, the sole argument for which there is no retort. In the absence of facts, those who are wise remain skeptical.

For subjects that have been fully explored and studied, the opinions of the educated are fairly authoritative, because their knowledge is more extensive and enlightened than that of an ordinary person. However, with respect to new facts or principles or even the unknown, their opinions should only be considered hypothetical, because they are no freer from prejudice than anyone else. One can even argue that scientists are more likely to be narrow-minded than someone else, because each of them is naturally prone to look at everything from their particular point of view. A mathematician accepts no other proof than that demonstrated by algebra, while a chemist refers everything to the action of the elements, and so on. When individuals select a specialization, they usually dedicate their entire mind and efforts to it. Beyond the scope of this field, such an individual often makes false inferences because of an insistence on treating every subject in the same manner. This is the consequence of human weakness. Therefore, while we should confidently consult a chemist in matters pertaining to analysis, a physicist with regard to electricity, or a mechanical engineer about driving forces, we must grant no more authority to their unfavorable opinion of Spiritism than we should to the opinion of an architect on a matter pertaining to music. This we must do without detracting from the respect due to their special knowledge.

Physical sciences are based on the properties of matter, which may be experimented upon and manipulated as desired. In contrast, phenomena created by spirits are an effect of the action of intelligent beings who have wills of their own, and who continuously show us that they are not subjected to our whims. Therefore, observations cannot be carried out in the same manner because they require special conditions and a different point of departure. Insisting on submitting them to the same methods of investigation is to insist on assuming the existence of analogies that do not in fact exist. As a result, science is incapable of determining the truth of Spiritism. It has nothing to do with it and its conclusion, whether favorable or otherwise, is of no bearing whatsoever.

Spiritism is the result of a personal conviction that scholars may hold as individuals, and is completely independent of their scientific notions. To submit the question to the decision of physical science would be the same as appointing a group of physicists and astronomers to settle the existence of the soul. Spiritism deals exclusively with the existence of the soul and its state after death. It is completely irrational to assume that someone must be a great psychologist simply because they may be a great mathematician or anatomist. When anatomists dissect a human body, they look for the soul, and, because they do not find it through the use of their scalpels, in the same way that they find a nerve, or do not see it evaporate like gas, they conclude that it does not exist. They reach this conclusion because their reasoning stems from an exclusively material point of view.

This by no means signifies that they are right and that the rest of the world is wrong. Following this line of reason, we conclude that the task of determining the truth or fallacy of Spiritism does not fall within the realm of science. When Spiritist beliefs have become widespread and accepted by the masses, which, if estimated by the speed at which they are currently being spread, is a time not very far off, the same will apply as with all new ideas that have encountered opposition. Scholars ultimately yield to the force of evidence. They will individually admit ideas that they now reject and, until that time, it would be premature to distract them from their special studies with something that is foreign to both their school of thought and field of research.

Meanwhile, those who denounce Spiritism without having a thorough understanding of the subject, and expose to ridicule those who do not submit to their way of thinking, forget that such has been done in regard to nearly every great discovery unearthed by humankind. They run the risk of being grouped among the members of the academic assembly who, in 1752, laughed at Benjamin Franklin’s paper on lightning rods and branded it worthless rubbish; or among those who caused France to miss out on the opportunity of pioneering the use of steam in shipping by labeling Robert Fulton’s plans an impracticable dream. And yet, both of these concepts not only proved to be true, but also went on to make great contributions to humanity. If those two assemblies, which included the leading minds of the world among their members, had nothing but disdain and sarcasm for ideas that they did not understand, but which were destined to revolutionize science, industry, and daily life a few years later, how may we expect that another unfamiliar subject should be met with any greater degree of respect?

The errors of some, though unfortunate for the honor of their memory, do not invalidate our esteem in regard to other matters. Common sense is not dictated by an official diploma, and there are fools both inside and outside the walls of academic institutions. We ask our adversaries to simply glance over the supporters of Spiritism and determine whether they see only uneducated and irrational individuals, or whether, despite the immense number of respectable individuals who have accepted it, Spiritism can be regarded as an old wives’ tale. In fact, their character and scientific knowledge should inspire people to think, ‘If these persons believe in this, there must be something to it.'” (Allan Kardec. The Spirits’ Book)

Before concluding this section, it is important we consider one more excerpt, this time from the article “General Control of the Spirits’ Teachings”, published by Kardec in 1864. Here it should be highlighted the importance Kardec attributed to the spontaneity of the communication in different parts of the globe and to different, independent mediums.

“The concordance in the teaching of the spirits is, therefore, the best control; but we still need that it occurs under certain conditions. The least certain of all is when a medium himself/herself interrogates several spirits on a dubious point; it is very evident that if he/she is under the dominion of an obsession, and if he/she has business with a deceiving spirit, this spirit can tell him/her the same thing under different names. There is, no more, a sufficient guarantee of the conformity which can be obtained by the mediums of a single center, because they may suffer the same influence. The only serious guarantee is in agreement that exists among spontaneous revelations, by means of a large number of strange mediums to each other, and in various countries. It is then conceived that such communications are not concerning to secondary interests, but rather to the very principles of the doctrine. Experience proves that when a new principle should receive its solution, it is taught spontaneously on different places at the same time, and in an identical way, if not in form, at least in principle. If, then, a spirit formulate an eccentric system, based solely on its ideas and out of the truth, one can be sure that this system will be circumscribed, and will fail the test of unanimity of the instructions given by all other parties, as has already occurred many times. (Allan Kardec, The Spiritist Magazine, 1864).

For Allan Kardec, the moral character, universality and concordance of spirit revelations confers to the Spiritist Science strength and authority. It is in the universal concord of rational and moral ideas spontaneously offered by the spirits that lies the best proof of safety of new spiritual teachings. Therefore, if adopting the same rationale, for a new concept to be admitted into the Spiritist body of Knowledge, it must be originated from teachings of multiple evolved spirits to various mediums across the world. As to identify this condition, the following criteria is proposed – offering a similar although individually conceived perspective to the criteria noted earlier on in this text and proposed by J. Herculano Pires.

  • Internal Coherence: The concept should not conflict with fundamental elements already incorporated to the Spiritist Science unless it clearly indicates a conceptual flaw admitted previously by mistake.
  • Grounded Rationality: The concept should be analyzed critically and logically in light of all observable evidence (not necessarily of material nature!).
  • Spontaneity & Universality: The concept should be obtained spontaneously by multiple and reliable mediums independent from each other and in multiple places (ideally multiple countries).
  • Verification: The concept should be verified through dialog with the greatest possible number of spirits of all degrees of advancement.

 

A Proposal for the Advancement of the Spiritist Science

The initial sections of this text were devoted to explaining the Spiritist Method and clarifying the necessary conditions that must be observed for new concepts to be assimilated into the Spiritist body of knowledge. We covered a lot of theory, and now should develop practical plans seeking to answer how Spiritism can be safely developed nowadays. Moreover, how can we, me and you – regardless of whether we are ostensible mediums, contribute to the progress of the Spiritist Science (and your spiritual development in the process)? The ideas here presented are not intended to constitute a final work proposal, but a step forward towards a further widespread practice of Spiritist studies, similar to what was maintained by Kardec at his time – and that constituted the Spiritist Science. We argue that recovering this scientific side of Spiritism protects it from natural dissolution by individual misunderstandings, misinterpretations, wrongful associations of ideas, etc. We also consider that recovering this scientific side of Spiritism allows it to continue to make safer steps forward in the human understanding of the physical and non-physical realities of the cosmos (now happening at a global scale), while ignoring it could naturally lead Spiritism to the status of a human religion and the natural consequences that it entails.

“No science exists that has come forth from a single man’s brain. All, without exception, are the result of successive observations, supported by previous observations, as in a known point, to reach the unknown. This is how the spirits proceeded, in relation to Spiritism.” (Allan Kardec, Genesis)

There was a time when religion and spirituality could be practiced through blind faith in a single book or a single person. This practice is destined to fall into shortcomings and excesses of all sorts and in our view, is not suitable for rational minds, ready to reason the causes and consequences of ideas. So, what is the spiritual practice of the awakened minds? We see it as being that of collaboration, of plurality of ideas, of humble and honest search for knowledge and inner development. This practice, however, cannot suit the flaws of character of those locked in their own pride, wishing to impose their beliefs on all and make the world cater to their needs. This practice is inadequate to those who are still constrained by sects of knowledge, closed to new paradigms and our urgent need to recycle ideas and make change. This practice is not adequate to those who do not question their own certainties. It is not adequate to those still attached to syntax rather than meaning. It is also not adequate to those who seek meaning without labor and study. This practice is for those who consciously celebrate freedom and diversity, knowing how to coexist among individuals who express opposing ideas. If alone we are tremendously limited, united we more thoroughly are able to reach the truth.

It is with this spirit of cooperation that we invite all of those inspired by this article, all of those touched by the Spiritist Science, all free thinkers and rational spiritualists to collaborate with this work. It is with the honest intention to promote progress in our understanding of the multiple dimensions of the cosmos and their intrinsic inter-dependency that we convene the rationale here exposed and it is clear to us that with the sum of additional minds this original proposal could be perfected.

Proposal

The spiritual world has offered us vast material for research in the form of thousands of books, let alone uncountable letters and messages, written through independent mediums in different places and different times. Spiritism itself has now spread through multiple countries and the internet can be used to suitably and safely (considering the proper precautions) connect us across multiple geographies. All of this material, allow us to carry out extensive studies of new concepts proposed by the spirits. This work cannot be performed by anybody or any specific group alone; it belongs to all of us and should be carried out according to the principles of collaboration and charity, thought by Jesus and incorporated to the Spiritist Science from its beginnings. No one is better than everyone! Our proposal, therefore, is that individuals and groups of individuals interested in studying the Spiritist Science (particularly those interested in writing about it or teach it) identify topics of interest and conduct studies according to the Method here proposed. It is critical that we look for the harmony of the teaching and use only primary reference sources. It is only though the universal concord of rational and moral ideas spontaneously offered by the spirits that we can safety contribute to the progress of Spiritism.

Considering this, the reader will note with a simple visit to the Oregon Spiritist Society’s website (www.oregonspiritistsociety.com) that such endeavor has been started through the development of articles published in this website. Everyone is encouraged to challenge or support the ideas and concepts there proposed, indicating new reference sources and/or any new relevant facts. Everyone is invited to develop new studies and share them with this group, so we can also contribute to such studies. As this collaborative effort progresses, new interesting ideas might be uncovered and evaluated according to the Spiritist Method, so as to be either demystified or confirmed. Individual errors of judgment can hopefully be compensated by our collective voice and the Spiritist Science can be practiced and studied on a safer landscape, especially when venturing beyond the topics brilliantly covered by Allan Kardec. The goal then is to form a network of scientists of the spirit devoted to studying the spirit communications and non-physical realities utilizing the Spiritist Method as a mean to advance this Science and prevent its loss through the irresponsible sharing of seemingly good ideas that do not pass through all the scientific boundaries established by Kardec himself for the advancement of Spiritism.

Therefore, those interested in conducting Spiritist research following the general parameters noted by this text are encouraged to contact the Oregon Spiritist Society and/or submit research material for this group’s publishing consideration on its website. Articles submitted for consideration will pass through a preliminary review by the group and if needed, other external collaborators, before being published in the group’s website for further collaboration of others. In any case, collaborators can also publish research material in their own websites, blog or any other online platform and invite us to collaborate with their content material on their platform.

We would like to conclude this article asking the reader (especially those working in Spiritist centers or often representing Spiritism in some fashion): how can you be sure you are educating others correctly regarding the Spiritist Science? Are you observing the Spiritist Method when incorporating new knowledge into your own viewpoints of the Doctrine, your texts, speeches and public communications? You are responsible for what you divulge and good intention (especially after reading this article – sorry!) alone might not be good enough. What are the standards you apply to the quality of your work? It is never enough to note that in the Spiritist Magazine of 1867, the following communication was provided as a warning that the strategy of spirits devoted to slowing down the progress of Spiritism (as a way to hamper the progress of humanity) was to dissolve Spiritism from within:

“You will see the consolidation of Spiritist meetings where the confessed aim will be the support of the Doctrine and the secret purpose will be its undoing; Supposed mediums will have the command communications appropriate to their objectives; Publications that, under the cloak of Spiritism, will strive to demolish it; Doctrines that will lend some of their ideas to Spiritism, but with the goal to supplant it. This is the struggle, the real struggle to be overcome, and that will be pursued with obstinacy [by the invisible opposition of Spiritism], but out of which the strongest will be victorious.” (Allan Kardec, Spiritist Magazine, 1867)

Therefore, if not for the development of the Spiritist Science, then for its preservation – be concerned with the quality and trustworthiness of what you share. It was considering all the elements shared in this article that we developed the proposal here presented (and it is for the same reasons that the Oregon Spiritist Society have adjusted the form of the lectures and publications it issues) – however, real progress can only be achieved through collaboration. As a simple example, Chico Xavier, one of the most trusted and celebrated mediums of recent times, has reached the count of 500 books published. Who can read all of them, compare the information with what has been shared with other mediums in other geographies and languages, make a rational analysis of the material in light of reason alone as well as in light of the Spiritist Science and write about the findings? Again, Spiritism can only progress through charity and collaboration! So, let’s talk? How can we contribute to each other?

 References

  • Pires, J Herculano. Ciência Espírita, FEESP.
  • Kardec, Allan. The Spirits’ Book.
  • Kardec, Allan. The Gospel According to Spiritism.
  • Kardec, Allan.
  • Kardec, Allan. Posthumous Works.
  • Kardec, Allan. Spiritist Magazine – multiple articles from multiple years.

 

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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Spiritism: The Work of Allan Kardec and Its Implications for Spiritual Transformation

By Alexander Moreira-Almeida

Source: http://www.metanexus.net/essay/spiritism-work-allan-kardec-and-its-implications-spiritual-transformation

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Despite the growing discussion about science-spirituality relationships, there remains many problems in integrating spirituality and scientific knowledge. This debate has often been characterized by radicalism and mutual denial. As another consequence of the contemporary emphasis on rationality and empirically based knowledge, building a strong and acceptable base to support the spiritual aspect of life as well as ethics has remained a huge challenge.

Although the current debate on science and spirituality has discussed several important topics, it usually does not touch the scientific investigation of certain claims about the spirit (its existence, survival after bodily death, reincarnation, etc.). However, this was not always the case. During the 19th century, through the vehicles of spiritualism, spiritism, and psychical research, many researchers tried to use a scientific approach to investigate spiritual experiences. Of special interest among these three related groups was the investigation of evidence that suggested the personality’s survival after death (AubrÈe & Laplantine, 1990; Gauld, 1968; Kardec, 1860; Myers, 1903). The scientific investigation of the existence of a non-physical or spiritual realm, a fundamental claim of many, if not most, spiritual traditions (Hufford & Bucklin, 2006), was a main goal of those investigators.

This effort involved numerous high level scientists and scholars who provided many contributions to topics such as the dialogue between religion and science, between faith and reason and even a new approach to metaphysics. However, these works are virtually unknown by contemporary authors in those fields.

Despite often dealing with the same subject (spiritual/psychic experiences), spiritualism, spiritism and psychical research frequently differed from each other regarding views of science, research methods, and success in formulating a comprehensive theory. Spiritism, developed by Allan Kardec (1804-1869),  developed a more inclusive philosophical system based on a research program of spiritual experiences. Stressing a rational and empirical investigation, Spiritism developed a theory of the self, including its survival after death—the  concepts of reincarnation and unlimited spiritual evolution that formed the basis for a new empirical foundation of ethics, i.e. the founding of moral precepts on experimentally observed facts. Studies in Spiritism also could contribute to topics such as metaphysics, the science and religion dialogue and the rediscovery of human meaning and purpose. However, these implications of Spiritism have not been the subject of systematic study. The relatively few academic studies of Spiritism usually focus largely on the religious aspect that became prominent in the spiritist movement later in its history. Currently, the principal ideas of Spiritism have led to a developing social movement spawning study groups, healing centers, charity institutions and hospitals utilized by millions of people in dozens of countries, most of them found in Brazil (AubrÈe & Laplantine, 1990; CEI, 2008; Moreira-Almeida & Lotufo Neto, 2005; Stoll, 2003).

Spiritism has become an important social force in Brazil, with a large interest in assisting poor people, health care, and religious issues (AubrÈe & Laplantine, 1990; Sampaio, 2003). However, we will focus our present discussion on the philosophical aspects of Spiritism and its potential contribution to the current academic dialogue on science and spirituality. The purpose of this paper is to introduce into the contemporary debate some contributions of Spiritism to the religion and science dialogue and its relevance to spiritual transformation and a foundation for ethics. To better provide readers with a first hand contact with Kardec’s original ideas, we will base our paper largely on direct quotations form Kardec’s writings on Spiritism.

Development of Spiritism

Allan Kardec (1804-1869) was one of the first scholars to propose a scientific investigation of psychic/spiritual phenomena, but his research work is not well known. He was a French scholar who worked mainly as an educator and writer. By the middle of the 19th century, a strong interest in mediumistic phenomenabegan in the United States, quickly spread to Europe and then became worldwide, becoming known as modern spiritualism (Gauld, 1968). In 1855, Kardec started an investigation of mediumistic experiences. His purpose was to submit these experiences to scientific investigation (Kardec, 1890; Moreira-Almeida, 2008).

During his initial investigation, Kardec posed and tested several hypotheses to explain mediumistic phenomena: fraud, hallucinations, a new physical force, somnambulism (including unconscious mental activity and clairvoyance), thought reflection (including telepathy and super-psi), disincarnate spirits and several other theories. He accepted that fraud, hallucination, unconscious cerebration and thought reflection could explain many phenomena regarded as mediumistic. However, when mediumistic phenomena were studied as a whole (taking into account all kinds of observed mediumistic experiences), the best explanation would be the spiritist hypothesis – a spiritual origin for the phenomena (Kardec 1859,1860,1861; Moreira-Almeida, 2008). Evidence produced by mediums convinced Kardec that personalities that had survived death could be the source of mediumistic communications (some of this evidence is listed below).

  1. Mediums providing accurate information (e.g. personal information about some dead person) unknown to themselves and to any sitter at the mediumistic séance
  2. Mediums showing unlearned skills such as:
    • A) illiterate mediums who produce mediumistic writing;
    • B) writing with calligraphy similar to the alleged communicating personality
      when alive;
    • C) speaking or writing in a language unknown to the medium (xenoglossy
      and xenography);
  1. Mediumistic communications showing a wide range of personal psychological characteristics (such as character, humor, conciseness, choosing of words, likes, dislikes, etc) related to the alleged communicating personality.

After Kardec became convinced that mediums could put him in touch with spirits (human personalities who survived bodily death), Kardec worked to develop a scientific research program to study this subject and called it Spiritism, defined by him as “a science that deals with the nature, origin, and destiny of spirits, and their relation with the corporeal world” (Kardec, 1859:6):

“Spiritism has not discovered nor invented the spirit, but was the first to demonstrate its existence by undeniable proofs. It has studied it, analyzed it, and made evident its action” (Kardec, 1868:12).

Spirituality and Science: Spirits as components of the natural world

Spiritism does not accept miracles or the supernatural. According to Spiritism, spirits (like matter) are components of the natural world, thus regulated by natural laws and suitable to scientific investigation. Kardec stressed that considering the interaction between both elements of universe (matter and spirits) would make it much easier to understand and accept many phenomena, mainly those described by spiritual traditions:

“Spirit and matter are the two elements, or forces, governing the universe. (…) Spiritism, in demonstrating the existence of the spiritual world and its relations with the material world, provides the key to a multitude of hitherto unknown phenomena, which have been considered as inadmissible by a certain class of thinkers” (Kardec, 1868:3).

According to Kardec, we should be “on guard against the exaggeration from both credulity and skepticism” (Kardec, 1858:2). He stressed that we should be very careful in attributing to spirits all sorts of phenomena that are unusual or that we do not understand:

“I cannot stress this point enough, we need to be aware of the effects of imagination (…). When an extraordinary phenomenon is produced – we insist – the first thought should be about a natural cause, because it is the most frequent and the most probable” (Kardec, 1860:77).

Kardec, despite being a contemporary of positivism, developed epistemological and methodological guidelines for his investigation that are in several aspects in line with later developments in philosophy of science throughout the 20th century. He advocated, and actually used, research methods appropriate to the subject matter he was interested in investigating, namely, the spiritual element. Thus, for instance, he pointed out the relevance of well-attested reports of spontaneous cases, in contrast with a misplaced attempt to mimicking physics, which, in many cases, appeals to quantitative measurements and laboratory experiments. Kardec also stressed that just collecting experimental data is not enough to make a science, for which it is essential to develop a comprehensive, logically consistent theory. In his pioneering exploration of the new field, he succeeded in allying a sense of rigor to a salutary openness to the novel (Kardec 1859; 1860,1861; Chibeni 1999; Moreira-Almeida, 2008).

Kardec often emphasized the need for a comprehensive and diversified empirical basis for spiritual experiences. To enlarge the range of observed phenomena, he asked that reports of mediumistic manifestations of several sorts be sent to him (Kardec, 1858:6). He reported having received “communications from almost a thousand serious spiritist centers scattered over highly diversified areas of the Earth” (Kardec, 1864:8). Fernandes (2004), investigating the amplitude of Kardec’s correspondence, surveyed Kardec’s publications on Spiritism and found published references to contacts related to Spiritism from 268 cities in 37 countries (in Africa, Asia, Europe, and from the three Americas).

“Spiritism proceeds in the same way as the positive sciences, by using the experimental method. When facts of a new kind are observed, facts that cannot be explained by known laws, it observes, compares and analyzes them. Reasoning then from the effects to the causes, it discovers the laws which govern them. Then it deduces their consequences and seeks for useful applications. Spiritism proposes no preconceived theory (…) Thus, it is rigorously correct to say that Spiritism is an experimental science, not the product of imagination. The sciences have not made real progress before they adopted the experimental method. This method has hitherto been taken as applicable only to matter, but in truth it is equally applicable to metaphysical things.” (Kardec, 1868:10-1).

In his revolutionary approach to spirituality, Kardec frequently compared mediums to microscopes, since both were instruments that revealed and put humankind in contact with an invisible world that, despite being previously ignored, have always had a strong impact on human lives (Kardec,1860:421). Following Kardec`s analogy, the empirical observations provided by mediums and microscopes would allow the investigator to “see” how these invisible worlds are, making possible to formulate and to test hypothesis regarding the natural laws governing them.

Based on his investigations, Kardec developed a comprehensive theoretical framework to account for the whole body of observed phenomena. This resulted in the spiritualist philosophy called Spiritism. As a philosophical system, Spiritism has many concepts that have been proposed by other philosophies and religions. Some of Spiritism’s core concepts are: survival of consciousness after death, communication between incarnate and discarnate minds (mediumship), reincarnation, and unlimited spiritual evolution. According to Kardec, a scientific basis and the coordination of these concepts in a single theory were the main difference between Spiritism and previous philosophies that hold similar notions.

A new ground for ethics

Kardec strongly stressed the ethical implications of his studies. Spiritism neither has any ritual nor claims to be the only way to spiritual evolution and happiness. However, Kardec proposed that Spiritism could provide a much larger perspective to evaluate consequences of a behavior. Through Spiritism, one would be able to evaluate the long-run consequences of our actions, not just during one terrestrial life, but also at postmortem and in future lives.

This represents a crucial reinforcement of an approach to ethics known as “utilitarianism”, whose main exponents were Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (18th and 19th centuries). In this approach moral norms are not taken on the basis of authority, pure intellection, but as following from a scientific appraisal of the consequences of human actions with regard to the attainment of happiness of the whole of humankind.

“Spiritism has, furthermore, a particularly strong moralizing power, to the extent in which it clearly shows […] the consequences of good and bad actions, which become so to speak palpable” (Kardec, 1868:21).

 “What Spiritism adds to the Christian moral is the knowledge of the principles governing the relationships  between alive and dead men, thus completing the vague notions he gave of the soul, its past and future. It thereby grounds the Christian doctrine on the very laws of nature. […] Charity and fraternity become thus a social necessity. Heretofore, man does by conviction what he before did by pure sense of duty, and he does it better” (Kardec, 1868:30-1).

A call for spiritual transformation

Kardec stressed that an experimental demonstration of survival after death would have a high impact on humanity:

“The very possibility of communicating with the beings inhabiting the spiritual world has very important, incalculable consequences. […] It represents a complete revolution in our ideas” (Kardec, 1868:13).

“Had Spiritism just eliminated man’s doubt concerning future life, it would already made more in behalf of his moral amelioration than all disciplinary laws, capable of bridling him in certain circumstances, but which does not really transform him to the better” (Kardec, 1868:19-20).

Reincarnation would also have large implications:

“The plurality of existences (…) is one of the most important laws revealed by Spiritism, since it shows the reality of this law and its need for progress. This law explains a lot of apparent anomalies of human life; differences in social position, premature deaths that, without reincarnation, would make useless to the souls such short existences; the inequality of moral and intellectual abilities, by the antiquity of the soul who has progressed and learned more or less, and who, being reborn, brings what has acquired in his previous lives” (Kardec, 1868:19).

The cognitive framework provided by Spiritism would be a strong call to spiritual transformation:

“Communication with the beings of the world beyond the grave enables us to see and to comprehend the life to come, initiates us into the joys and sorrows that await us therein according to our deserts, and thus brings back to spiritualism those who had come to see in man only matter, only an organised machine; we are therefore justified in asserting that the facts of Spiritism have given the death-blow to materialism. Had Spiritism done nothing more than this, it would be entitled to the gratitude of all the friends of social order; but it does much more than this, for it shows the inevitable results of evil, and, consequently, the necessity of goodness. (…) the future is no longer for them a vague imagining, a mere hope, but a fact, the reality of which is felt and understood when they see and hear those who have left us lamenting or rejoicing over what they did when they were upon the earth. Whoever witnesses these communications begins to reflect on the reality thus brought home to him, and to feel the need of self-examination, self-judgment, and self-amendment” (Kardec, 1860:421-2).

Conclusion

Despite being virtually absent from the academic debate on the relationship between spirituality and science, Spiritism has developed several contributions to the field that may provide new insights on the religion and science dialogue. A major aspect of Spiritism is the project of pursuing a fact-grounded scientific investigation of topics previously considered metaphysical.

Most of spiritist ideas discussed here are not new, Kardec did not create them, but they were submitted to experimental investigation and organized into a comprehensive theory through Spiritism. By proposing an investigation of spirituality based on a rational analysis of facts, Spiritism aims to provide a basis for spirituality in the contemporary world, by fostering the pursuit of ongoing spiritual transformation.

References

AubrÈe, M. & Laplantine, F. (1990). La table, le livre et les esprits (The table, the book, and the spirits). Paris: …ditions Jean-Claude L‡ttes.

Chibeni, S. S. “The spiritist paradigm”, Human Nature, vol. 1, n. 2,  pp. 82-87, January 1999. Available at:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/8482/artigos/paradigm.htm

Fernandes, W. L. N. (2004). Allan Kardec e os mil n˙cleos espÌritas de todo o mundo com os quais se correspondia em 1864… Retrieved from: http://www.spiritist.org/larevistaespirita/mil.htm

Gauld, A. (1968). The founders of psychical research. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Hess, D. J. (1991). Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazilian Culture. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Hufford, David J & Bucklin, M. A. (2006). The Spirit of Spiritual Healing in the United States. In: Koss-Chioino, J. D. & Hefner, P. Spiritual Transformation and Healing. Lanham: Altamira.

Kardec, A. (1858). Introduction. Revue Spirite – Journal d’…tudes Psychologiques 1(1), 1-6. Available at:

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/charles.kempf/rs140.htm

Kardec, A. (1859/1999). What is Spiritism? Philadelphia: Allan Kardec Educational Society.

Kardec, A. (1860). Manifestations physiques spontanÈes. Revue Spirite – Journal d’…tudes Psychologiques 3(1), 77-81.

Kardec, A. (1860/1996) The spirits’ book. 2nd ed. Rio de Janeiro: FEB. Available at:

http://www.usspiritistcouncil.com/PDF/spirits_book.pdf

Kardec, A. (1861/1986) The mediums’ book. Rio de Janeiro: FEB. Available at:

http://www.usspiritistcouncil.com/PDF/medium_book.pdf

Kardec, A. (1864/1987) The gospel according to the Spiritism. London: The Headquarters Publishing Co Ltd. Available at:

 http://www.usspiritistcouncil.com/PDF/gospe_according_to_spt.pdf

Kardec, A. (1868) La genese, les miracles et les predictions selon le spiritisme. Paris: Union Spirite FranÁaise et Francophone. Available at:

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/charles.kempf/Livres/gs.htm

Kardec, A. (1890/1927). Oeuvres Posthumes. Paris: Union Spirite FranÁaise et Francophone. Available at:

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/charles.kempf/posthume/OP6.pdf

Moreira-Almeida, A. (2008). Allan Kardec and the development of a research program in psychic experiences. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association & Society for Psychical Research Convention. Winchester, UK. pp.136-151.

Myers, F. W. H. (1903/2001). Human personality and its survival of bodily death. Charlottesville: Hampton Roads Publishing.

Sampaio, J. R. (2004). Volunt·rios: um estudo sobre a motivaÁ„o de pessoas e a cultura em uma organizaÁ„o do terceiro sector (Volunteers: a study about people’s motivation and the culture of a third sector organization). PhD dissertation. Faculdade de Economia, AdministraÁ„o e Contabilidade. Universidade de S„o Paulo. S„o Paulo.

Stoll, S. J. (2003). Espiritismo ‡ Brasileira. S„o Paulo: Edusp; Curitiba: Editora Orion.

Always when available, quotations were extracted from published English versions of Kardec’s works. Otherwise, I translated from the French original. When necessary to improve fidelity to French originals, I amended quotations from published English versions.

Mediumship is the alleged human faculty that would allow people called mediums to be in contact with discarnate spirits.

“Positive science” means, in the philosophical parlance of that time, inquiry thoroughly based on facts (Kardec, 1864a).

“Experimental method” should not  be taken as simply laboratory method, but research method based on empirical observations, i.e. on every kind of fact attestable by careful observation

 

 

Brazilian Mediums Shed Light on Brain Activity During a Trance State

Originally posted by www.newswise.com on 14-Nov-2012 10:00 AM EST. 

Source Newsroom: Thomas Jefferson University

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Newswise — (PHILADELPHIA) – Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil analyzed the cerebral blood flow (CBF) of Brazilian mediums during the practice of psychography, described as a form of writing whereby a deceased person or spirit is believed to write through the medium’s hand. The new research revealed intriguing findings of decreased brain activity during the mediums’ dissociative state which generated complex written content. Their findings will appear in the November 16th edition of the online journal PLOS ONE at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0049360.

The 10 mediums—five less expert and five experienced—were injected with a radioactive tracer to capture their brain activity during normal writing and during the practice of psychography which involves the subject entering a trance-like state. The subjects were scanned using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) to highlight the areas of the brain that are active and inactive during the practice.

“Spiritual experiences affect cerebral activity, this is known. But, the cerebral response to mediumship, the practice of supposedly being in communication with, or under the control of the spirit of a deceased person, has received little scientific attention, and from now on new studies should be conducted,” says Andrew Newberg, MD, director of Research at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and a nationally-known expert on spirituality and the brain, who collaborated with Julio F. P. Peres, Clinical Psychologist, PhD in Neuroscience and Behavior, Institute of Psychology at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues on the research.

The mediums ranged from 15 to 47 years of automatic writing experience, performing up to 18 psychographies per month. All were right-handed, in good mental health, and not currently using any psychiatric drugs. All reported that during the study, they were able to reach their usual trance-like state during the psychography task and were in their regular state of consciousness during the control task.

The researchers found that the experienced psychographers showed lower levels of activity in the left hippocampus (limbic system), right superior temporal gyrus, and the frontal lobe regions of the left anterior cingulate and right precentral gyrus during psychography compared to their normal (non-trance) writing. The frontal lobe areas are associated with reasoning, planning, generating language, movement, and problem solving, perhaps reflecting an absence of focus, self-awareness and consciousness during psychography, the researchers hypothesize.

Less expert psychographers showed just the opposite—increased levels of CBF in the same frontal areas during psychography compared to normal writing. The difference was significant compared to the experienced mediums. This finding may be related to their more purposeful attempt at performing the psychography. The absence of current mental disorders in the groups is in line with current evidence that dissociative experiences are common in the general population and not necessarily related to mental disorders, especially in religious/spiritual groups. Further research should address criteria for distinguishing between healthy and pathological dissociative expressions in the scope of mediumship.

The writing samples produced were also analyzed and it was found that the complexity scores for the psychographed content were higher than those for the control writing across the board. In particular, the more experienced mediums showed higher complexity scores, which typically would require more activity in the frontal and temporal lobes, but this was not the case. Content produced during psychographies involved ethical principles, the importance of spirituality, and bringing together science and spirituality.

Several possible hypotheses for these many differences have been considered. One speculation is that as frontal lobe activity decreases, the areas of the brain that support mediumistic writing are further disinhibited (similar to alcohol or drug use) so that the overall complexity can increase. In a similar manner, improvisational music performance is associated with lower levels of frontal lobe activity which allows for more creative activity. However, improvisational music performance and alcohol/drug consumption states are quite peculiar and distinct from psychography. “While the exact reason is at this point elusive, our study suggests there are neurophysiological correlates of this state,” says Newberg.

“This first-ever neuroscientific evaluation of mediumistic trance states reveals some exciting data to improve our understanding of the mind and its relationship with the brain. These findings deserve further investigation both in terms of replication and explanatory hypotheses,” states Newberg.

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Thomas Jefferson University
Thomas Jefferson University (TJU), the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia, is nationally renowned for medical and health sciences education and innovative research. Founded in 1824, TJU includes Jefferson Medical College (JMC), one of the largest private medical schools in the country and ranked among the nation’s best medical schools by U.S. News & World Report, and the Jefferson Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, Population Health and the College of Graduate Studies. Jefferson University Physicians is TJU’s multi-specialty physician practice consisting of the full-time faculty of JMC. Thomas Jefferson University partners with its clinical affiliate, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals.