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.

Spiritualism in a Time of War

Kenneth W. James,  The Church of the Spirit
July 15, 2008

I usually allow the topic for my lecture to come to me, and then I expand upon it.  Today’s topic was an uncomfortable one to become aware of:  the relationship between Spiritualism and war.  The more I thought about this topic, and reflected on it from the perspective of the early history of Modern American Spiritualism, I realized that it was an important and necessary topic for our local community here in this church, and for the larger Spiritualist community, to consider.

Modern American Spiritualism is usually said to have begun with the phenomena of the Fox sisters in Hydesville, NY in 1848.  If you remember your nineteenth-century history, you will realize that this is just thirteen years from the start of the Civil War in the United States.

As part of my lecture today, I will make reference to the writings of Emma Hardinge (later Britten), who published Modern American Spiritualism in 1869.  This work is considered foundational for the training of Spiritualist ministers even today.  It documents the rise of Spiritualism in America dating from the revelation to the Fox sisters, but also places this “modern” movement within the context of spiritualism that has prehistoric roots.  Virtually every religious text from past millenia affirm the presence of phenomena that we understand to be spiritualist in nature.  Our current era presents us with a particular version of spiritualism, but it is important to remember that Spiritualism as we know it did not begin in Hydesville in 1848.  This was just its most proximal appearance.

As I read a few passages from Hardinge’s book, let us remember that she wrote at a time and with a consciousness very different from our own.  She wrote at a time when it was acceptable to write with flowery passages and word choices, and with a consciousness that was comfortable speaking of heaven, and angels, and at a time when patriotism was not thought to be the possession of the few, but the heritage of the many.

After covering in detail the early years of American Spiritualism, Hardinge devotes a chapter to Spiritualism in during the Civil War.  At the beginning of that chapter she writes (Hardinge, pp.493-494).  Hardinge affirms the bravery of the Spiritualist soldiers, and shows how bravery, compassion, and intuitive shrewdness in battle all could be related to the fundamental principles affirmed by all Spiritualists, including these soldiers.

But Spiritualism, above all, affirms the validity of communication between the so-called dead and those still on the Earth plane.  It is in this regard that Spiritualism was of service to the mourning survivors of soldiers and others who made their transition as a result of war.  In a particularly touching section of her chapter, Hardinge writes of a mother and her five sons. (Hardinge, pp. 505-507).

It is interesting to note that this mother, when she remarried, was forced to stop speaking of her clear connection to Spirit and to the spirits of those who had been brought by war through the change called death.  Nevertheless, her story emphasizes the role of Spiritualism in a time of war: to facilitate communication between those on the Earth plane and their departed loved ones, taken by this Moloch of war, which requires “life, more life.”

While it is uplifting during our services to receive messages that remind us of the power of positive thought and the love which the Divine shows to humanity, these Spiritualist greetings are only a small hint of the power of mediumistic communication.  In Britain, for example, what we call “readings” are referred to as “demonstrations”, because the medium’s primary vocation is the demonstration that life and personal identity continue after the change called death.  Therefore, simple messages like, “you always loved my blue turtleneck sweater,” when it affirms without a doubt that one’s beloved still lives in the world of Spirit, are far more important to our religion than messages that tell us, “you create your own reality.”

We are once again in a time of war.  And as Spiritualists, our sensibilities must be turned toward service of the larger whole.  Whether we are mediums or healers or not, as Spiritualists we can always and everywhere affirm, even if only in our hearts, that those who have died have never, ever left.  These so-called dead have a pact with the living.  This pact, facilitated through mediumistic communications, takes away the fear of death, and replaces it with the understanding that we are all connected all the time, and death changes nothing of this connection.  This message is critical in a time of war, when all around us, and maybe we ourselves, are despairing at the depths of hatred, unconsciousness, stupidity and arrogance that humankind can reach.  Not denying the presence of these sad elements, as Spiritualists we can and must affirm for others, Spiritualist or not, that these so-called dead have merely entered a new realm of life, one to which we are all called.  With the wisdom sadly gained through their experience of war, those who have been brought to Spirit through acts of war bring with them a deeper awareness of life and the connections between people than we can ever come to on the Earth plane.

As Spiritualists in a time of war, we are called upon to demonstrate the truth that life continues after the change called death, that the door to reformation is never closed against any soul, here or hereafter, and that Spirit and spirits intercede for those on the Earth plane in ways that we cannot even imagine, but which are nevertheless true and necessary to healthy living.  It is possible that the consciousness of those who have gone through the change called death as a result of war are even now working to bring peace and harmony to our wounded and benighted world.  We can offer the best we have, our awareness of Spirit, as a tool to aid this cause.  Spiritualism has always been a religion of peace, connection, love and light, but it is not afraid of war, separation, hatred and darkness.  Fear has no place in the hearts and minds of Spiritualists because of the fundamental truth that has always been behind the religion, science and philosophy of Spiritualism:  There is no death and there are no dead, and those who have gone to the world of Spirit still communicate with those on the Earth plane.  Those communications are powerful forces for healing, and we must all bring those communications forward for the good of the whole of humanity, and all the inhabitants on this Earth plane


Rev. Bradley Gosselin, NST, Lily Dale Spiritualist Church, Lily Dale, NY

Good Morning.

It is interesting that from the beginning of time three questions have intrigued mankind.  Is there life after death? Is there a Spirit World? And is communication possible?

In the earliest of days, what we called ancient times, Spirit tried to prove those points and they were looked upon as magic and viewed though superstition.  Throughout the ages the oracles, priests, sages and priestesses in the temples talked about an afterlife, made predictions, and foretold of things to come; and in many cases they were discounted.  The ancient philosophers wrote of a Spirit World, of an afterlife and in many cases they too were discounted.

In 325 AD, King Constantine called the Council of Nica together and had the bishops declare, that the people could no longer talk to God, but they had to talk to the priests, and from that time on the churches, in the name of religion, tried to take control of the people.  They told them that they had to do this, they had to do that.   But, all the major religions did leave that thread of Spiritualism through them, that there is an afterlife and that there is a Spirit World.  They all called it a different name, but it didn’t matter; it was the same thing.

Time went on, the churches, because they felt they were losing control of the people as they came along, called those mediums out there, witches.  They burned them, they hung them, they drowned them.  It was probably another couple of hundred years before mediumship started to come forward again.

In 1744 Emanuel Swedenborg was the first to talk about the Spirit World, to talk about the different spheres of the Spirit World and write about it.  Emanuel Swedenborg was a brilliant engineer and scientists.  When he came forward with his religious teachings about life in the Spirit World, he too, was sometimes discounted.  In many cases he had to hide for his life because they wanted to burn him as a witch, but he talked about it and he wrote about it.

In the early 1800’s one of our early pioneers, Andrew Jackson Davis, started writing and he talked about a place called Summerland which was the Spirit World, and he wrote many beautiful things about that world; about the things that we have to look forward to some day.

It wasn’t until 1848 when two little girls, Katy and Maggie Fox brought forth proof through the physical phenomena of rappings that communication with the Spirit World is a possibility and a fact.  After they brought their demonstration of physical phenomena and the raps, the mediums who had been in their houses parlors, holding circles and holding séances, started coming forward.  And we started to learn the truth about the wonders of the Spirit World.  They started to bring through the wonders and beauty of physical phenomena.  So it went on and the phenomena grew and Spiritualism came again to the forefront.

It is interesting, that as the scientists came to debunk Spiritualism, people like Hume, Crooks and many others; those who came with an open mind realized that Spiritualism and the truth that it taught; that there was a Spirit World and that communication was possible; and that we did continue on after the so called physical death.  It continued on but, many scientists came with a closed mind and said, “No, it is all bunk.” Those who came with a closed mind walked away without accepting the proof of Spiritualism.  Those who came with an open mind accepted and joined the movement.  The dispute continued on.

In 1887 Professor Alfred Russell Wallace gave a lecture in San Francisco.  For those who don’t know professor Wallace, he was a renowned scientist and he had written about evolution and when he heard that Charles Darwin had a book ready to be published, he gave Charles Darwin all of his material and said, “Use it, you don’t have to say it came from me.  Just use it to define that theory of evolution.”The theory of evolution came on to the world.

The scientists grabbed it and said, “See, there is no creation.  Creation does not exist.” But, they didn’t really look, because Charles Darwin did not start before life, he stared with life.  He talked about how life evolved.

We all evolve, we evolve from a seed to a fetus, to a child to a young adult, to full grown adult.  That is the physical part of us that evolves, not the spiritual part, not the inner part of us that is the God Spark that resides within us.

I would like to read a small part of Professor Wallace’s lecture.  He said, and the lecture was “If a man die shall he live again?” It was in 1887 in San Francisco.

He said, “If a man die, shall he live again? This is the question that in all ages has troubled the souls of men.  The prophets and the wise men of antiquity were in doubt as the the answer…….”

He goes to say, if there is no afterlife what is there in the life we are living? I we have no hope of a future existence then why do we have any moral teachings, why do we have any moral beliefs; why do we decide that there is a right and a wrong; why do we have affections for family and friends, spouses, children? Why do we bother if there is no afterlife? Why do we bother if we have nothing to leave behind us? Why do we bother if this is all there is?  Think about it.

What a sad commentary it would be if you knew that some day, when this physical existence is over, there is nothing to look forward to, that there is not the beauty of the Spirit World that so many have come back to tell us about.  Think about it.  Why then would this life be worth living; why then would we take the time and effort to try to make ourselves a better person, a better individual?  or to share that love that God gave us with all humanity, whether we know them or not.  Why would we pray as we did earlier for those in war torn countries, for those in Ecuador? Why? Because, we know there is an afterlife.  We do know that there is a future ahead of us.  We do know the someday we will look back on the beauty of this life, on what we have done, on what we have given, on what we have accomplished, and on what we have left behind.

It is important to understand that as Spiritualism teaches, we have a moral responsibility.  If we didn’t believe in an afterlife, why would we have a moral responsibility?

I would like to close with my favorite description of Spiritualism.

“Ask the Spiritualist who really knows, “What is Spiritualism.” He will tell you that it is not only the most comforting, uplifting, simple and utterly reasonable religion, the most satisfactory and workable philosophy, the most interesting, thrilling and accurate science, but over and beyond all that, the most tremendous TRUTH that has ever offered itself to the consciousness of Man.” by Marcella DeCou Hicks

That is what Spiritualism is all about “Truth.”  The truth that there is an afterlife, the truth that there is a Spirit World; the truth that they do come back and communicate with us, the truth that we do have guides that help us, and guide us – that bring us love, that bring us light and helps us to find that inner peace we search for, that help us to make this a better world, to help us to make ourselves a better individual.

A friend of mine had her father pass away last week and I sent her a note and I said, “Isn’t it wonderful, as a Spiritualist, to know that he had gone on to the Spirit World, that he has no more pain or discomfort, that his is free at last.” But, over and beyond all of that understand that it is the physical loss that is more difficult.  It is the physical loss that we must overcome.  As much as we know that they have found peace, we have to find our own peace with our loss.  As much as we know that we can call on them and they will visit us, it is still the physical presence that we miss.

So remember, there is life after this so called death.  There is a Spirit World.  Communication with that Spirit World is available to each and every one of us.  It is available within varying degrees.  We have mediums that come and work from the platform, that bring us wonderful messages.  We can sit in our own homes and we can do our meditations and reach out to our loved ones in the Spirit World and know that they are with us, and if we pay close attention, we can feel their breath and we can hear their words.

I thank you and many the love of Spirit fill your heart.