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.