What Spiritualism Teaches

Rev. Lelia Cutler, NST, NSAC President, Memorial Spiritualist Church, Norfolk, VA

I have been a teacher all of my life—in so many ways.  When I was a child, other kids would ask:  “Teach me to…  could be bake a cake, crochet a doll dress, draw a picture, or do homework.  Teaching Spiritualism has been my joy for the last thirty-five years.  There is a list of “What Spiritualism Teaches” from the 1994 Centennial Book.   It covers basics, but they are so elementary to the new seeker on our path.

  • A spark of divinity is in all of us.
  • We have personal responsibility for our lives.
  • Death is the doorway to the Spirit World
  • We are spirit persons encased in a physical body.
  • As we live our life, we make our happiness or unhappiness both in the Earth life and the Spirit life.
  • Spirit people are conscious beings who can and do communicate with those on Earth
  • Spirit communication and healing power is demonstrated as part of our religion.

Belief in Infinite Intelligence means we believe that God is a source of creative energy, which is a part of all that exists, human, animal, plant and any other manifestation.  Therefore, this belief that God exists in everything means that we have a spark of divinity in each of us.  We are not disconnected and trying to reach a God in the form of man, but we are a part of this wonderful existence created by and permeating all.  There is a spark of divinity in all of us, and we can contact that divinity by quietness, meditation, or just asking.  It is there for us to acknowledge and use to manifest what is for our greater good in this world.

The responsibility for the use of this wonderful divine spark is all ours.  We can visualize receiving all our wants and desires, and we can accept the responsibility for whatever manifests as a result of our wants and desires.  No one can do it for us.  We forgive ourselves, we like and love ourselves, so that we may have the ability to like and love and forgive others.  What a wonderful concept.  I am in charge of my life and I can soar or I can fall, according to my own knowledge and use of my talents and abilities.  This responsibility trains us for the next stage of life—making the transition to the spirit world.  We know that there is no death and there are no dead.  The change called death is but a transition to a more beautiful and peaceful life in the spirit world.  Death is but a doorway to the Spirit World and is a natural phase of life.

We are a spirit encased in a spiritual body, which happens to be living in a clay temple, called the physical body.  We are a triune being, body, soul and spirit.  When the time comes for the transition to spirit, the soul and spirit ascend to the next plane of life, and the physical body is not needed.  It can be released and returned to mother Earth.  Knowing that there is no pain in this transition—only that from a physical point of view—releases the fear of death.  We rise from this body and feel the loving peaceful calm of the spirit world and see those who wait for us in that realm.

As we live in this world, we continually make our happiness or unhappiness by our understanding of the laws of God, Natural Law, or Universal Law.  They are all the same thing.  As we learn about these laws, we can recognize how they work in our lives.  Cause and effect, action and reaction, law of thought—all of these are working continuously.  We just need to understand how to use that knowledge to make life more enjoyable and productive.  As we improve our spiritual life here on earth, we are also improving our spiritual life for the next phase of life.   Spirit people are just conscious beings who can and do communicate with those of us on Earth.  We are preparing for that opportunity.  When we make the change to spirit, we see loved ones waiting for us.  They may look just like they did while here on Earth, or may present themselves as they most enjoy—possibly younger than the time of transition.  We must remember that our communication with these beings are with those we have known, or maybe not, but they have the same personalities that they enjoyed here.  I would not ask my machinist father to explain a legal problem I am having.  We do not become all knowing just because we pass to spirit.

Spirit communication is a primary part of our religion and is practiced regularly at our services and in our lives.  This is mediumship, and mediumship can also include healing from spirit.  However, all healing comes from Infinite Intelligence and is assisted by our spirit guides and loved ones.

When we learn these lessons, we are preparing and progressing for a more spiritual life both here and in the next plane of life.  Learn all you can for we know that the more we learn, the more we realize we do not know.


Spiritualism and Spirituality

Kenneth W. James, The Church of the Spirit, Chicago IL
June 22, 2008

I would strongly suspect that each of you has at one time experienced questioning from a friend or associate about just what Spiritualism is.  I have had to explain how Spirituality is not exactly the same as Spiritualism several times to different groups who are interested in just what we do here at The Church of The Spirit, and at other Spiritualist churches around the country.  I am always uncomfortable when I explain the “difference” between Spiritualism and Spirituality, because for those of us who embrace the religion, science and philosophy of Spiritualism, these two things are not necessarily distinct.

Spirituality, as it is used today, refers to the recognition and cultivation of those aspects of human experience that are considered not strictly of the material realm—the realm of sensory phenomena that occur as transformations of matter in space/time.  The growing interest in so-called New Age thought, the reconnection with various bodies of spiritual writings including non-Western religious traditions, the more esoteric aspects of Western religious traditions, and the rise in interest in earth-based systems of religion all indicate that humanity in the twenty-first century is hungry for something beyond the material reality that can be discerned by our sense organs.  Some scholars use the term “mysticism” as a synonym for spirituality; mysticism has been defined as a direct experience of the Divine.  Since the term “mysticism” usually connotes a one-god, monotheistic perspective, I will use the term spirituality instead of mysticism to refer to this connection with a “distinctly-other” dimension of experience that may or may not refer to a single divine presence.

The three dominant religious traditions of the West at this time, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all have spiritual components to them.  In Jewish circles, the spiritual quest is mapped by the texts and traditions of the Kabbalah.  In Christianity, the writings of particular saints who are labeled “mystics” form the corpus of spirituality.  In Islam, the Sufi tradition covers the dimension of the deeply spiritual.  Clearly there is a problem with talking about spirituality within these great traditions.  Each tradition, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, purport to express the complete revelation of God in God’s relation to humanity; as such they are by definition spiritual expressions.  However, in each tradition, the perhaps originally spiritual presentation of God became codified into practices and teachings (called in Christianity “ritual” and “dogma”) that gradually separate from their spiritual roots.  Ernest Scott in his book People of the Secret and Idries Shah in his book The Sufis both discuss this gradual separation of the spiritual from the literal expression of religious tradition.  So, over time, some practitioners of these great religions sense this separation as a loss of connection with the spiritual, and move to recover that connection, through Kabbalah, Christian Mysticism, and Sufism.

The pull toward spirituality seems to be like a soul-hunger felt by certain people at different times in their lives.  Others may not ever be aware of this pull toward spirituality.  Yet, wherever someone exhibits passion in regard to some earthly phenomenon, be it God, nature, Wall Street or the Cubs and the Sox, the seeds of spirituality may be found.  The spiritual impulse is part of the human condition; no culture or society has ever been found that does not have an expression of the spiritual, although the specific content of that expression may seem anything but spiritual to others.  So spirituality is the pull toward “something more”, as a response to the emptiness expressed in Peggy Lee’s haunting song, “Is That All There Is?”.

Spirituality may be considered a necessary but not sufficient condition for embracing the science, philosophy and religion of Spiritualism.  If the Fox sisters and their kin were strict materialists, with no spiritual core at all, I’m sure they would have found explanations for the raps they heard by studying the physics of aging wood walls and the effect of moisture on housing structures.  But because their fundamental disposition included the possibility of the spiritual, they began to formulate what has come to be considered the beginnings of Modern American Spiritualism.

For spirituality to become Spiritualism, there must be an appreciation of the particular combination of spirit and personality as we understand it in the human being.  I am not just an accidentally conscious carbon-based life form (although I am that as well); I am also a being who unfolds in space and time with a particular identity and who forms particular relationships with other beings, places and things on the earth plane.  Spiritualism places a great value on these specific, particular aspects of the human being.  Who I become in this life is intimately tied to the particularities of my experience, the specific people, places and things I encounter as I grow and develop, and the connections I establish while I am here on the earth plane.  Spiritualism recognizes that these specifics of my identity cohere in a way that survives what is considered death: I may leave the earth plane, but the structure of my particular being remains intact after this change.  Moreover, I retain the capacity to interact with beings on the earth plane in several ways: directly (although most human beings neither notice nor fully value the sense that the so-called dead are contacting them), through mediums, and through the action of healers who channel the energy of Spirit.

The history of Spiritualism recognizes and chronicles the various ways to verify or demonstrate that the continuity of our personality persists after the change called death.  While in the United States, we call communications from mediums “messages,” in England and elsewhere these mediumistic messages are called “demonstrations,” indicating that when we receive a message, the continuity of the human person after the change called death is being proven.  That’s one reason why some of the messages we hear given to others at our services or in a séance may not make much sense to anyone but the person receiving the message.  The message communicates something more than the words may indicate: the message communicates that our loved one continues whole and intact even though not on the earth plane.

The specifics of Spiritualism expressed in our Principles show that Spiritualism participates in the Spiritual, but also forms a specific tradition that sets it apart from the general impulse toward Spirit that is inherent in human experience.  For some of us, probably for everyone here today, events work together to go beyond simply acknowledging that there is a “something more” to our experience than is covered in materialist perspectives on life.  For some of us, probably for everyone here today, there is an experience that can only be explained as the presence of a loved one who has gone through the change called death, but who has returned to communicate in some manner with us.  Acknowledging that experience and exploring what it means is the fundamental attitude of Spiritualism.  We explore, test, investigate, prove and express what we find to others.  If they accept spirituality, they may come to embrace Spiritualism.  Spiritualism brings new vitality to every form of spirituality.  And I believe that Spiritualism can bring harmony among various religious traditions that, at present, battle with one another for the supremacy of Truth.  As Madame Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, has stated, “There is no religion higher than Truth!”  As Spiritualists, we affirm that this Truth is expressed in the maxim, “There is no death, and there are no dead.”  Our teachings, our services, our séances and our writings all develop this truth, enhancing Spiritualism and enriching spirituality.


Tis the Season

Rev. Carol Brown, NST, Memorial Spiritualist Church, Norfolk, VA

Thanksgiving – A time for giving thanks.

Christmas, Hanukkah and other religious and secular holidays – A time for sharing.

New Year’s Day – A time for new beginnings.

Thanksgiving. This holiday reminds us to be ever mindful of our blessings and to always give thanks for our lives, our friends, our blessings and our bounty.  To give thanks for the choices we’ve made and the lessons learned that have made us who we are. To be thankful for the ability to give to others in so many ways: a kind word or a smile, giving a thanksgiving basket to a family in need, making a donation to the food bank or opening our home on Thanksgiving day to those without a family.  To give thanks for our knowledge of continuous life and communication with spirit.  And to give special thanks that Infinite Intelligence and spirit are so willing to bring truth, understanding and direction to each of us when we are willing to ask and then to listen for their guidance.

By giving thanks we are expressing our gratitude for what we have in our life.

By giving thanks we are expressing our belief that those things for which we are giving thanks will continue to manifest in our lives.  Giving thanks is a knowing – an affirmation – a declaration.  Giving thanks is a way of sending that thought, that desire, out to the universe where the Law of Attraction will continue to bring those wonderful things to us.

Religious and Secular Holidays.   Peace on Earth.  As we pray for and visualize peace-on-earth, we remember that “peace-on-earth begins with me” and this understanding helps us to bring peace and serenity into our lives.

Good will toward men.  When we see people allowing others to merge into traffic, smiling and being courteous to others, expressing a kind word or giving a helping hand, we realize they are practicing the Golden Rule and treating others as true brothers and sisters.

A Celebration of Light.  The Hanukkah lights and the lights we see on Christmas trees remind us to look for the light of Infinite Intelligence in others and to allow our own light to shine brightly.

By giving and sharing our time and energy for a good cause, such as giving canned goods to the food bank, money to various charities and holiday funds, toys to the Marine Corps toys-for-tots program, clothing and gifts to the child whose name is on the angel tree or by visiting someone in a nursing home or veteran’s hospital, the month of December gives us the opportunity to put into motion the Laws of Attraction, Compensation and Cause and Effect.

New Year’s Day. The opportunity to begin anew, to make choices that will benefit us and others.  What better time than New Year’s Day to remember our seventh principle: “We affirm that the doorway to reformation is never closed against any soul, here or hereafter.”

Traditionally New Year’s Day is the day we begin trying to live in accordance with our New Year’s resolutions – to break old habits and replace them with something that will enhance and better our daily lives.

If we really want to enhance and better our daily lives, maybe this year our resolution should be that, to the best of our ability, we will live our lives in accordance with our NSAC Declaration of Principles and the Laws of Infinite Intelligence.

Tis The Season To Be Thankful, To Practice The Golden Rule and To Re-Form Our Thoughts, Words and Deeds.This is the time of year when we are most likely to share with others – not only our material possessions, but also ourselves.

We must remember that we can only share with others what we already have.  If we want to share, to teach, to be an example, we must possess those things we are talking about.  We must try our best to walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk.

We must remember we can only share with others what we already have.  If we want to share material things we must have the ability to obtain those things before we can give to others.  It is not the amount one gives, but the intent.  The willingness to give with no thought of return.

We can be thankful that the science, philosophy and religion of Spiritualism can change one’s life if one so chooses.

We are thankful that Spiritualism teaches:

Personal Responsibility – we are responsible for every thought we think every word we speak, and every thing we do.

We Are Spiritual Beings Now – even while in the physical body.  We are not a physical being that has a soul, but we are a soul that has a physical body.

We Need Not Fear Death – for so-called death is only a change of form.  The soul continues to exist when the body is no longer useful.  We are spirit now encased in a physical body and we will continue to exist as spirit throughout eternity.

Those Who Have Passed to the Spirit Side of Life Are Conscious – not asleep – and that Communication Between the Living and the “Dead” is a Fact, proven by the phenomena of Spiritualism.  This, of course, brings comfort to the bereaved and alleviates sorrow.

As We Sow on Earth, We Will Reap in This Physical Life and in the Life to Come.  Our life and circumstances in the spirit world will depend upon our progress and actions while in this physical world.  We are responsible for our future whether in the physical or spiritual plane of existence.

Natural Law Instead of Miracles – Natural Law Instead of a Rewarding or Punishing God.  God is not made in the image of man.  God is not a human form sitting on a throne dispensing rewards or punishments.  God is an Infinite Intelligence that has created Natural Laws that cannot be set aside by anyone (not even Infinite Intelligence).  So-called miracles are Natural Law in action that humankind just does not understand at this point in time

The Spark of Divinity Dwells in All – as stated in the first two principals of the NSAC Declaration of Principles and the Interpretation of the first Principle:

Declaration of Principles 1 and 2:

  1.  We believe in Infinite Intelligence.
  2.  We believe that the phenomena of nature, both physical and spiritual are the expression of Infinite Intelligence.

We believe in a supreme Impersonal Power, everywhere present, manifesting as life, through all forms of organized matter, called by some, God, by others, Spirit, and by Spiritualists, Infinite Intelligence.
Tis the Season.  The season of Holidays to be celebrated – and special times to be spent with family and friends.

At this time of year we are reminded that two of the most important things in our lives are people and choices.

Every moment, every hour, every day we choose how to interact with others.  We decide how to react to others.

We can choose to make our own happiness or unhappiness by the choices we make.

As Spiritualists we can choose to learn and understand the science, philosophy and religion of Spiritualism, to manifest it in our lives and to share it with others.

And most importantly – we can choose to ask Infinite Intelligence and spirit to help us recognize in everyday events the spiritual truths we need in order to learn and progress.

Tis the Season To be Reminded. Thanksgiving reminds us to give thanks each day – knowing our needs will be met.

December’s religious and secular holidays remind us to share, to contribute to world peace by our own thoughts and actions, to recognize natural law in action when we hear of the so-called miracles celebrated during the holiday season and, most of all, to practice the Golden Rule.

New Year’s Day reminds us that each day, each hour, each moment, is an opportunity for new beginnings and that we have the gift of re-forming our thoughts, words and actions at any time, here or hereafter.

May this holiday season bring each of us the opportunity to recognize the spiritual truths surrounding us each and every day of our lives.  

Three Questions about Spiritualism

Rev. Bradley Gosselin,  NSAC Trustee
Greater Boston – 01/08

Spiritualism is a fascinating and wonderful subject.  The NSAC says it is a science, philosophy and religion of continuous life based upon communication with the Spirit World with the demonstrated fact of mediumship.  What is interesting is that so few Spiritualists talk about the religion and admit to it.  It is interesting because I remember in my early days when someone would say, “What is a Spiritualist, or what is Spiritualism?” I used to get nervous and used to hesitate and wonder what to say.  Now I look at them and say, “How much time do you have, because it is a fascination subject and a wonderful thing to talk about.”

Spiritualism is as old as human beings, as old as mankind.  In its earliest days it was considered magic and that was superstition.  But, it imbedded itself in all of the major religions, in all the religions of the world.  No matter the ancient religions and the modern religions that you desire to study, you will find the tenets and teachings of Spiritualism in them.  The continuity of life, and afterlife, and Natural Law.  It was that way in the earliest religions, and then at the Council of Nica in 325 the church decided that we should not be talking to God, we should be talking to priests and let the priest talk to God.

Many things happened over the years.  The religions split and split and splintered.  All of the religions did, that was as it should be as each had its own thing to teach.  Each had its own particular points to get across.

Then a wonderful thing happened.  In 1848 two little girls in Hydesville, New York proved that communication with the Spirit World is a fact. They were able to demonstrate it.  And then what happened? Well, Emma Harding Brittan, one of our pioneers wrote a book and said that there would be 50 years of growth, and there was.  In those first 50 years we look back at pictures when there were thousands of people sitting in the audiences and congregations to listen to the words, to listen to the philosophy of Spiritualism. Then as she predicted there was a 50 year period of stagnation , and then a 50 year period of rebirth.  We are in the 50 year period of rebirth!

Guess what! We don’t see it in our churches.  We don’t see it in our camps where there used to be hundreds and thousands that would show up for our services.  We now get 50 or 25.  We go to our summer camps where there used to be thousands and we get a few hundred.

But, there is a reason for that , it is interesting because so many people got turned off by the term “religion”.  They find it easy to accept the philosophy of Spiritualism, the science of Spiritualism, but when it gets to the religion of Spiritualism they get nervous because of all the things that have happed in all the religions of the world.  None of the religions of the world are perfect, including Spiritualism, and none of all the religions of the world are all bad.  But, it is a fact that many things done in the name of religion and in the name of God have turned people off.

In the late 1890’s one of our pioneers, Professor J.S. Loveland, delivered a lecture, and that was in the growth of Spiritualism, and he said that one of the things that was the move toward metaphysical science and the move toward mind cure that would take away from the religion of Spiritualism; and they did.

We have many places in the world where Spiritualism is not allowed so they set up spiritual centers and metaphysical temples.  We have in this country set up spiritual centers and metaphysical temples, but they all teach the same tenets of Spiritualism so there is a growth, we don’t see it, bit it is there.

It is fascinating as we look back at the history.  In the 1890’s, Rap Waldo Trine wrote a book “In Tune with the Infinite” and he said many things in that book and he talked about the Natural Laws.  I was reading a review of that book recently and it said that this was the book that laid the foundation for all of the self-help books of the seventies, the eighties, the nineties and those coming today, because they are all about the Natural Laws.  So many Spiritualists laugh when they hear the book “The Secret” because they say “We have known that for over 150 years.” Actually man has known that since the beginning of time.

We learn, we push it aside because we are always looking for something new.  Do we find it? When we look back we find all we are doing is rediscovering what we already know; that there is a God, that we are a part of that God, that we have that divine spark within us.

Spiritualism teaches many things.  Its amazing to me, always, that so many of the scientists of today do not want to accept the teachings and proof of Spiritualism although that proof has been given many, many times.

People shy away from that term “religion” but, allots everyone embraces that philosophy; that philosophy that says there is Natural Law that defines everything in this existence, that life is continuous, that there is no death.  Many of the religions say it in a different way but, that is what they say.  Some of the prayers that I learned as a youth were, “world without end, amen.” And we talked about “life everlasting.” That is what Spiritualism not only talks about but teaches.  That is what we demonstrate with our mediumship.

There are so many wonderful things about Spiritualism.  I recently came across an article written by Professor Alfred Wallace, that was written in 1874.  For those of you who many not know, Professor Wallace was one of our pioneers.  Professor Wallace was writing a book on evolution and he found out that Charles Darwin was writing a book on evolution so he gave his material to Charles Darwin and did not ask any credit for it.  He shared that material and contributed quite substantially to the theory of evolution.  He did not say that there was no creation.  He did not say that there was no God.  He said that life is evolving, and that is what the theory of evolution really is.

Scientists will accept the theory of evolution, but if you turn around and say to them; ok we have this theory of evolution and he starts at this point, but what happened before they say, “We don’t know and we will not accept it until it is fully proven.” That is fine, that is all right, that is their duty to accept nothing that is not proven to their satisfaction.  That is not what Spiritualism teaches us.

We are a religion of conviction and not of conversion.  We don’t go out and say, “This is it.” We say, “Here we are, this is what we believe, this is how we act this is how we behave, this is what we say.  If you want to accept us fine, if you want to join us, wonderful.  It is your choice as it is every morning to get up out of bed.” It is interesting how some will accept and some will not.

It is fascinating when you read the history of Spiritualism and find out in the 1850’s Spiritualists were there for the women’s rights movement.  Spiritualism was first to give women a platform to speak from.  Spiritualism was there fighting for civil rights, the freedom from slavery.  There were many things that Spiritualists fought for and it was all because of the moral teachings of Spiritualism. That is what Spiritualist philosophy offers us, a moral foundation to build our lives on: to learn to live with, to learn to understand, to learn to accept.  Professor Wallace said, “how wonderful it is that Spiritualists have a knowledge of Socrates that he wasn’t crazy, he had an understanding of the Spirit World and the guides that were working with him.  He says that Spiritualism gives new understanding to the things that were happening during the witchcraft trials.  He said many fascinating things, but what got me was when he talked about the moral teachings of Spiritualism.  He says, “Manners are duality consisting of an organized spiritual form evolved coincidentally with and permeating the physical body and having corresponding organs in development”  Imaging that! That’s what we say, “That we are spiritual being having a human experience.” This is the way the talked in the 1870’s.  This is the way they wrote in the 1870’s, this is the way he chose to say it.  But, the fact remains, we are spiritual beings.

We have free choice, we will always have free choice.  Sometimes when Elizabeth and I are teaching a class and the students start to ask, “What happens when I get over to the Spirit World, what will I do?  We say, “what ever you want to do, the choice is yours.” It doesn’t change, you are not suddenly going to evolve into a saint if you are not a saint here.  You’re not suddenly going to evolve into some wonderful magical mystical individual.  You’re not going to evolve into a brilliant mind.  You are going to go there and study, learn and evolve as you would on the earth plane.

Professor Wallace says, “Death is a separation of this duality and effects no change in the spirit morally or intellectually.” That is what we teach. You are the same over there as you are here and that’s the beauty of our Principle, “Reformation is always possible.” I’m often reminded of that commercial when I was young, the one about the oil company that used to say, “you can pay me now or pay me later.” That is what reformation is.  You are going to have to reform now or reform later, because we all make mistakes and we all have a lot to learn.  We all have much to understand.  Most importantly it is about love, it is about acceptance, its living and understanding what this life is about.

He also says, “Progressive evolution of the intellectual and moral nature is the destiny of individuals.” That is your destiny, evolution.  Evolution here and evolution when you get to the Spirit World.

We are always evolving this is what Spiritualism teaches us.  The knowledge, attainments and experiences of the earth life is forming the basis of the Spirit Life.  One of my early teachers often told the story of how we build that buildings in the sky that we are going to live in someday: how we will build our home.  We will, we will, but today, tomorrow, the next day is the building of the foundation of our spirit life.  Learn in this existence, understand in this existence, accept this existence with the knowledge and understanding that some day you are moving on to the Spirit World; to a more wonderful more glorious and greater opportunity to serve yourself and others, and the God of your understanding.

Thank you, and may the love of Spirit fill your heart.