Concepts Involved in Spiritualism
One of the reasons Spiritualism is so interesting to study is that it is concerned with so many aspects of our life. To add to this interest, Spiritualism approaches often familiar subjects, such as human behavior and creativity, from a very different perspective than that held in science. Scientists are obliged to base new research on existing theory and practice, thus forcing anything that falls outside of this norm into the category of “phenomenal,” and thus often “ignored.” In fact, mainstream science doe snot have the vocabulary necessary to address anything concerned with a greater reality. By acknowledging the existence of Infinite Intelligence, Natural Law and personal survival, Spiritualism can offer more complete explanations for the way things are around us.
Because of this different view, any explanation of the way Spiritualists approach the study of Phenomena should be preceded with an explanation of some of the fundamental assumptions held by Spiritualists. We invite you to take a few minutes to read the following explanations for these fundamental Spiritualist concepts. There is also a supporting web page explaining the terminology of Spiritualism in Phenomenal study.
Please note that these concepts have been described from a perspective designed to encourage scientific inquiry. As such, some terms normally used in Spiritualism may have been substituted with terms thought to be more consistent with those used in the academically community.
|Please visit the NSAC website for more complete information about the Religion of Spiritualism and the NSAC.
The Nine Principles of Spiritualism
Perhaps the best place to begin describing Spiritualist concepts is by offering the nine guiding Principles of Spiritualism. These are:
|Declaration of Principles
- We believe in Infinite Intelligence.
- We believe that the phenomena of Nature, both physical and spiritual, are the expression of Infinite Intelligence.
- We affirm that a correct understanding of such expression and living in accordance therewith, constitute true religion.
- We affirm that the existence and personal identity of the the individual continue after the change called death.
- We affirm that communication with the so-called dead is a fact, scientifically proven by the phenomena of Spiritualism.
- We believe that the highest morality is contained in the Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye also unto them.”
- We affirm the moral responsibility of individuals, and that we make our own happiness or unhappiness as we obey or disobey Nature’s physical and spiritual laws.
- We affirm that the doorway to reformation is never closed against any soul here or hereafter.
- We affirm that the precepts of Prophecy and Healing are Divine attributes proven through Mediumship.
Please follow this link to the NSAC website for a description of Spiritualism.
Following then, are explanations of some of the concepts important to Spiritualism:
A Prime Creator and the operation of Natural Law
In Spiritualism, the Prime Creator, First Cause, God, whatever you think of when you think of the force that started reality in the first place, is known as Infinite Intelligence. Yes, it is correct to say that Infinite Intelligence is God. Spiritualists do believe in God. But there are a few important differences in the way Spiritualists understand God. Infinite Intelligence is not a father figure that offers rewards and punishment to his children.
Infinite Intelligence influences our world and our lives through the Principles of Natural Law. Natural Law, spiritual energy and purpose are thought to emanate from Infinite Intelligence. The more a person can learn to live in accordance with Natural Law the more that person will find life to be agreeable–or at least understandable. Put another way, living in a way that violates Natural Law is certain to create difficulties in a person’s life.
Living in accordance with Natural Law is not a matter of doing “good” or “bad.” Yes, living in a way that is consistent with Natural Law would seem to have good results for a person, but this goodness would be in the same context as the goodness one derives from not violating a traffic law, and thereby, not being given a traffic ticket.
Spiritualists seek to understand Natural Law as a way of life. Spiritual Maturity can be defined as the understanding of Natural Law and living in accordance with those Principles. A spiritually mature person can be defined as a person who has learned to live in accordance with Natural Law, rather than in conflict with it.
Spiritualist will say that understanding and living in accordance with Natural Law is an equivalent with the idea of “obeying the will of God.
The history of Humankind includes considerable reference to the ability of people to communicate with spirits. As Humankind evolved toward our current civilization, so has the nature of this communication and belief as to who we are communicating with. There has been one constant throughout this long history: that is, the part that the individual plays in this communication as a medium between this world and the other side.
Mediumship is fundamental in human behavior.
In Spiritualism, mediumship is taught as an ability that can be learned and is practiced as a regular part of a person’s relationship with nature. Mediumship is not a mysterious gift handed down by a god to a favored few. It is an ability that is inherent in each of us. It can be learned just as an average person can train to be an accomplished athlete.
As with any human ability associated with consciousness, individuals experience mediumship in different ways. It has been our experience that people who have not studied mediumship, or who have not had personal experience with it, will not easily recognize this ability within themselves. However, with some training, it quickly becomes clear that the ability is there and in use as a natural part of a person’s life.
In general, any form of transference of information from etheric to physical reality involving a person living in the physical, is considered mediumship. It is important to note that in Natural Law, there is the Principle of Agreement. Simply stated, this Principle holds that an object of reality must energetically agree with the aspect of reality it will occupy. For instance, you as Self exist in this physical aspect of reality by living in a physical body. You are not your body. Perhaps it is more correct to say that you are in a symbiotic relationship with your body, for once the body dies, you as Self continue. Without your physical body to help you “energetically agree” with this physical aspect of reality, you cannot remain here
Items of information are considered objects of reality. And so, items of information cannot exist in the physical without something to help them “energetically agree” with the physical. So you can see that any form of communication between our world and the spirit world must be facilitated in some way by something in our world as a transformer. Mediumship is that transformer. Thus, it is through our mediumship that our spirit friends are able to impress their thoughts and actions into the physical.
Meditation provides a good comparison for the nature of mediumship. Meditation is “the intentional directing of attention to the clear aspect of one’s own inner nature. In meditation, a person is asked to seek a state of relaxation in which the body is more or less asleep while the person remains mentally alert. The objective is to remove external stimuli so that the mind is free to focus on internal, mental processes. Once so relaxed, the person is then asked to clear the mind of thoughts about daily issues and to focus on not thinking at all. This is no paradox, really. The objective is to achieve a mental condition in which the person is ready to mentally listen to something that may originate “behind” or “within” the normal mental chatter. It is this “listening” that is important in mediumship.
In mediumship, “Listening” is more often referred to as sensing and may take the form of mentally hearing, feeling or seeing subtle sensations, depending on the individuals way of interfacing with the environment. From the web site of the National Association of Spiritualist churches web site:
“A medium is one whose organism is sensitive to vibrations from the Spirit World and through whose instrumentality, intelligences in that world are able to convey messages and produce the phenomena of Spiritualism. The phenomena of Spiritualism consists of: prophecy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, gift of tongues, laying on of hands, healing, visions, trance, apports, revelations, raps, levitation, automatic and independent writing and painting, photography, materialization, psychometry, direct and independent voice, and any other manifestation which proves the continuity of life.”
Probably the most common form of mediumship is what has historically been referred to as “intuition.” When people state that they have a hunch or that they have a feeling about something, they are recognizing the operation of mediumship in their lives. Mediumship is a native ability that is as common as thought, itself.
People may function as mediums without being aware of their contribution to the Phenomena occurring around them. The poltergeist phenomenon is a good example. Hauntings researchers are coming to the conclusion that poltergeist are made possible when there is a young person in the household. While they are not usually aware of their contribution, these people appear to provide the psychic energy needed for a nonphysical entity to cause changes in the physical world.
People may be strong physical mediums, yet when they are witness to something phenomenal happening around them, perhaps direct voice or levitation, they may not recognize that they have played an important part. This ability to facilitate the occurrence of Phenomena is sometimes referred to as “being a battery.” In this regard, a person organizing a development circle, who is aware of the concept of a human battery, will often try to situate strong mediums so that they will help to energetically balance the group.
Mediumship via Electronic Means
An important modern day development in mediumship is spirit communications via an electronic device. This is most commonly known as Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP); however, when images are involved, or two way communication through a device such as a radio, it is know as Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC). And yes, what is known about this phenomenon tells us that it is correct to describe it as Technology Augmented Mediumship (TAM). This phenomenon is known by many other names as well, making it clear that this is a very young science. We will refer to the phenomena as EVP on this web site.
You should know that there are differing opinions as to whether or not EVP is influenced by the mediumship ability of the person doing the recording. Spiritualists who are familiar with mediumship will recognize the similarities in how mediumistic phenomena occurs and how EVP occurs. It is also noteworthy that some of the first EVP recordings were made while researchers were attempting to make audio recordings of the direct voice phenomenon produced by mediums.
For more information, please refer to the American Association – Electron Voice Phenomena web site at atransc.org
Spiritual healing is a central concept of Spiritualism. It is taught and practiced in the Spiritualist church as a demonstration of the existence of etheric reality, that people are spiritual beings and that there are entities that exist beyond our physical realm. It also shows that physical life is a preparation for the larger more expanded life beyond death.
One of the forerunners of Modern Spiritualism, Harry Edwards, felt that there were three purposes or goals behind the act of spiritual healing:
- Spiritual healing is a recognizable, approachable and understandable sign and proof of Humankind’s immortality. Spiritual healing provides the reassurance that we are spirit now. We are immortal now.
- The act of spiritual healing comes from what is good. It is received in goodness and accomplishes only that which is good. It points out the true meaning behind the Brotherhood of Humankind.
- Spiritual healing is beautiful because it heals. It frees the body from pain and allows the spirit to expand and realize its own potential.
Healing Postulates maintained by the NSAC:
- Spiritual healing is the direct result of law-governed forces.
- To make spiritual healing an effective health tool the healing force (energy) requires direction that has intelligence behind it.
- In order to be successful, the guiding force, the Intelligence behind spiritual healing, must be able to successfully ‘diagnose’ and ‘treat the particular illness in question.
So you can see that Infinite Intelligence is thought to be the source of all healing, not the person who is functioning as a healer.
Spiritual healing is thought of as two distinct forms:
- Spiritual healing is a conveyance of energy from a spiritual source to the one in need. This is the more desirable form of healing, in that the healer is functioning as a conduit for a nonphysical intelligence to bring energy to the one in need.
- Magnetic healing is a transfer of the healer’s personal energy or vitality to the one in need. While this can be a powerful form of healing, it is not normally the objective form taught in Spiritualism. This form can deplete the healer’s personal energy to an undesirably low level.
The energies thought to be involved in spiritual healing assume many forms:
- There is a certain amount of healing potential in the process of healing, itself. Properly done, the act of healing is a very relaxing experience for both the one in need and the healer. Like meditation, this can be very therapeutic.
- The human body is believed to posses a form of energy often called Vitality, bio-energy (parapsychology), chi (Taoism) or prana (Hinduism). This energy is said to be etheric energy that has been differentiated by the Self to maintain the human body.
- Spiritual energy is a higher form of energy thought to be made available to a person by a nonphysical entity who directly accesses this energy from Infinite Intelligence.
- The human body is thought to be surrounded by energy fields generated by the higher bodies occupied by Self. This is seen as the auric field or the aura. The first and most commonly recognized body is usually known as the etheric body. The condition of the etheric body is thought to be a precursor to the condition of the physical body. For instance a negative attitude will appear to clairvoyants as a dark color in the aura and the physical body is thought to eventually respond with a relevant ailment.
Close examination of other energetic healing modalities, such as therapeutic touch, etheric healing, Reiki, and laying on of hands, will show that all are based on more or less the same fundamental concepts. Specifically, that it is possible to bring additional energy to the one in need in support of healing. It remains the responsibility of the recipient to accept this energy.
It should also be recognized that the one in need may have habitually violate some aspect of Natural Law, and until they come into compliance with Natural Law, help from spiritual healing will be temporary at best. Also, the one in need may very well be working to exit the body in transition. In this case, successful energetic healing would eventually facilitate this transition.
Planes of Existence
Planes of existence are a central concept in metaphysics. The simple explanation is that there are levels or “other universes” in reality that are similar to our physical universe, but that are different in their relationship to Infinite Intelligence and offer differing opportunities for personal development.
It is believed that, as Self, a person enters into the “lower” planes to experience Natural Law from the perspective offered in the lower planes. Self’s purpose is to gain an understanding about the operation of Natural Law, and thereby, gain in spiritual maturity. In this way, then, Self is thought to progress back toward Infinite Intelligence by gaining lessons in spiritual maturity that are available on each plane.
The concept of planes of existence is not the same as the concept of parallel realities or parallel worlds. In the parallel concepts, the physical universe is entirely or partially replicated but remain physical. This replication is usually attributed to either the Uncertainty Principle as described in Quantum Physics or to important decisions that result in splits in the stream of time.
One of the Principle of Natural Law recognized in Spiritualism is the Law of Continuity, which holds that there are no breaks between the physical and the spiritual reality. There are differences, however. A phrase commonly used in Spiritualism to describe the difference between the physical aspect of reality and others is, “This new state (of existence after physical death) has definite existence, but is characterized by a different atmosphere and kind of awareness.”
Remembering that everything is energy, the energetic difference between planes is probably a difference in many fundamental characteristics of energy. It is common in discussions to refer to the difference as one of differing vibration. Such a term is useful, as is “higher” or “lower,” but these terms should not be thought to be descriptive of the difference in the character of the underlying energy. The difference is more that of attitude and worldview.