Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Global Spiritualism

 In South Africa, the native population still follow age-old spiritual traditions.  Their Shamen or Sangomas know, as humanity from the beginning has known, that life continues after the death of the physical body and that communication between those who have passed and those of us remaining on Earth is not only possible but has always happened.  They still communicate with the spirit world (their ancestors) as their forebears have done for centuries.  Some years ago, the well-known British medium, Albert Best, visiting South Africa, went to meet a Sangoma and in broad daylight, Albert’s late wife, materialised, fully formed beside him for all to see!
There is nothing new in this.  Psychic gifts have always been around.  Spiritualism is a natural progression from the work of Shamen.  It is designed for a different type of society, that’s all. Emma Hardinge-Britten, in her fascinating book “Nineteenth Century Miracles” describes the work of numerous mediums and psychics all over the world, both before and after 1848.  The inexorable growth of materialism since the Industrial Revolution led to millions of people moving from the land, where they worked closely with nature, to cities, where the natural world was almost entirely absent.  Those in the Spirit World, who care for and worry about us, knew the world needed a dramatic demonstration of the power of the Spirit in order to counteract materialism: Hence the Hydesville knockings and the birth of Spiritualism in 1848.

The early days Spiritualism produced a lot of mediums, many of whom were what we call Physical Mediums, gifts that we encounter but rarely today.  These gifts allowed the mediums to dazzle and amaze nineteenth century Americans and Europeans:  So much so that by 1863 it was possible to hold a convention of people representing several million Spiritualists world-wide.  Unfortunately, human greed allied to the cupidity of many sitters, led to widespread fraud, especially where materialisation was concerned.  As a result the numbers of avowed Spiritualists declined rapidly, a situation not helped by splits within the Spiritualist movement; splits that led to the formation of organisations such as Christian Science, Theosophy, Spiritism and Christian Spiritualism.

Religions have always split.  This is human nature I suppose; people wanting to be the big fish in the smaller pond.  We need to focus more on what unites us instead of what divides and begin working together again, exchanging ideas and discussing the way forward for us all.  Especially is there a need to discuss and implement, ways to raise the standard of mediumship and give it a more spiritual dimension.   Many demonstrations of mediumship today are little removed from fortune-telling.  The proof of life after death and the philosophy that stems from this is vital for a world struggling through the morass of materialism.  People are crying out for guidance and we owe it to them and those in the spirit world to be less self-indulgent and work harder to help them. What can we do?
In addition to a willingness to work with other groups and discus openly mutual challenges and the future, we need to examine our past.  Spiritualism as a religion, not just as a vehicle for psychic development and practice, brought a new dimension into religious thinking.  A dimension incidentally that caused much heart-searching within the Christian church at the time.  It is a dimension which all the great religions had in their infancy but lost as they were side-tracked by the lure of power and its corruptive influence.  Not long after 1848 Spiritiualism began to produce a body of philosophy, under guidance from spirit, and powerful speakers appeared.  Speakers, working in trance and through inspiration, like Emma Hardinge-Britten, Andrew Jackson-Davis, Estelle Roberts and many others were able to explain why knowledge of eternal life is so important for us all.  We need more like them today.

Early Spiritualism did not have churches and powerful trance, physical and mental mediums developed their gifts in home circles.  Indeed I know no leading medium today whose development did not involve sitting in a home circle.  Development was not all that such circles provided.  They also gave anyone prepared to sit in love and harmony with others to link with those in spirit, an almost magical sense of the true beauty and glory of life in all its forms.  Home circles are not just places to make contact with family and friends and receive proof of their continued existence.  In such circles, knowledge of the life awaiting us after passing from Earth-life is given with a gentleness and love that brings immense comfort to the sitters.  Details have been given of the boundless opportunities existing for us all once the need for food and physical shelter are removed; details of the schools and halls of learning; of visits from those bright beings who have progressed beyond anything you and I can envisage; of gatherings for special celebrations and of groups dedicated to helping those on Earth.

I know churches that see home circles as competition and therefore discourage their formation, preferring to run development circles in the church.  This is to completely misunderstand the role of home circles.  In the past the spirit world have told us that one day mediums will not be required because each individual will be his or her own medium.  Each of us will be able to contact those in spirit whenever we choose and receive guidance direct.  It is only through the intimacy and harmony of home circles that this wonderful state of affairs can be achieved.  Let us therefore switch off our televisions, put away our smart phones and at least once a week join our friends from the spirit world in joy and harmony.  The benefits would be immense.

Nowhere could the influence of the spirit world have greater benefits than upon scientific research, if only scientists asked for help and made themselves available.  However, the materialistic bias of scientific training needs to be altered before this can happen.  Some scientists are finally willing to accept that much that happens on Earth cannot be explained satisfactorily on the basis of physics and materialism alone.  Should we perhaps make greater efforts to show that Spiritualism and mediumship are not ‘weird’?  It is as natural as breathing and scientists in the spirit world can help those on Earth.  To do this we would of course require logical and convincing arguments, not airy-fairy New Age gobbledegook. 
If we succeed it would return science to the holistic position it held before materialism took hold.  Then science accepted that all physical life was energised by the power of spirit and the physical should always be examined in relation to the spiritual.  Science could benefit a great deal from such a change.  Many of the disasters brought about by introducing new drugs and medical treatments too hurriedly could have been avoided by co-operation with spirit scientists.    What an opportunity this is for Spiritualists! 
For an illustration of how Astronomers and Astro-physicists could benefit and thus widen our understanding, one need only look at “The Lowlands of Heaven”, written through automatic writing by the Rev George Vale-Owen. In it was given a description from spirit of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, things unknown at that time.  They were only discovered by scientists in the late twentieth century and even today, little is known about them and their purpose.  Spirit claimed in 1913 that these forces were used in the creation of ectoplasm and the transmission of light throughout the universe:  Fascinating claims that at least deserve to be properly investigated.

Global Spiritualism faces many challenges but incredible opportunities.  Challenges within Spiritualism itself are the easiest to overcome.  If we stopped being so defensive and introspective, put more effort into raising standards, worked in closer harmony with the spirit world, then our internal squabbles would quickly disappear.  The role of ego would be diminished and ideas for widening our spiritual impact on humanity in all fields of human endeavour (not just in religion) would begin to flow.  We should look forward with confidence, secure in the knowledge that the spirit world will help us all the way.
Lionel Owen                                                                                                             March 2017

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Spiritual Path

I was recently sent an Internet article that talked about what was referred to as The Spiritual Path *. Whilst there was some very interesting and useful information to help relationship issues and other emotional problems, the majority of the article seemed to focus on New Age philosophy which has always seemed too ‘airy-fairy’ to me, and Theosophy. It got me thinking and I should like to share with you the thoughts that came to me on reading the article. 

New Age practitioners expect one to accept spiritual messages purely on trust, without any attempt to provide meaningful proof of where such messages originated; Messages received, allegedly from other planets and solar systems for instance. Indeed I am of the opinion that so-called New Age thinking has damaged Spiritualism by encouraging people to accept ‘messages’ even when such ‘messages’ do not contain one jot of evidence to prove that the individual bringing the ‘message’ is really the person that the medium claims it to be. Conversely, the greater willingness of sitters and congregations to accept information without requiring proof, has made mediums lazy. Far too many appear in public to demonstrate mediumship before they have developed their psychic gifts to a competent level where they can fulfill the true requirements of a medium. i.e. The need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that life continues in a Spirit World after we leave this one. It is different when a medium is giving a private, one-to-one, reading. Then the need for proof, though important, is less essential, especially where the medium is using his or her gift to help the sitter with an emotional or spiritual problem. In public though, the need for proof is paramount, in order that people, other than the recipient of the message, can also be satisfied that communication between the two worlds is taking place. 

There is a need in my view, for a return to basics where the training of platform mediums is concerned. Every aspiring medium should be required to provide proof that the communicator they claim to be receiving information from, really is that person. Such proof will take many forms, such as physical description, relationship to the recipient of the message, details of any physical infirmities, personality, reason for passing to the Spirit World, even addresses, details of friends, neighbors or relatives and many others. To obtain such information the medium must not only be sensitive and alert to information being transmitted from the Spirit World to any of his or her five physical senses but also maintain two-way communication with the communicator by asking mental questions. This requires time and a level of dedication and hard work from the student that seems lacking in many today.

The other focus of the article was on Madame Blavatsky's Theosophy which as a Spiritualist I have always found far too intellectual and exclusive, the fact that Madam Blavatsky was at first a Spiritualist notwithstanding. The concentration on becoming a ‘Master’ by communing with ‘Arisen Masters’ always seemed to me to be ego driven and elitist.

I have always believed that we, as individuals, choose to come to live on Earth in order to learn spiritual lessons through our interactions with other life that shares the planet with us. We try to learn tolerance, understanding and how best to help one another. All this is helped enormously once we have convincing proof of our immortality through contact with those close to us who have passed on.

I believe we should be striving to be the best physical person we can be but also recognizing that we and all others will frequently fall far short of the ideal. We should always try to guard against becoming judgmental. At the same time we should be trying to understand the true relationship that exists between us and all other life on the planet (animal, vegetable and mineral), not focussing on trying to become some kind of esoteric "master". Whilst I think mystics have contributed a great deal to our understanding of God and our place in the scheme of things, I have never thought one should encourage people generally to lead lives insulated from the physical world to a greater or lesser degree. For instance, I have always questioned the true value of the contemplative life chosen by nuns and monks in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions. I believe nuns and monks are sincere in their convictions and many are truly ‘good’ people but have always wondered about the wisdom of cutting oneself off from normal physical life when it is the very thing we have chosen to come to Earth to experience! I know they still have their human challenges in the nunneries and monasteries but can it be the same? This is not to say that I disagree with encouraging contemplation and meditation but I believe such practices should not take over our lives. They should instead, take their place alongside the rest of what life on Earth requires of us.

In many ways the early Spiritualists, with their insistence on treating Spiritualism as a science that required proof of its claims, were in advance of many modern Spiritualists and mediums. Returning to basics in my view means reverting to their approach. After all, they were operating in societies with a far less liberal attitude towards their Spiritualism than is the case in many places today. We are much more liberated in the practice of Spiritualism than were they. It behoves us therefore to be at least as rigorous as they were in the practice of mediumship.