PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUALISM
EXPLANATION OF THEIR MEANING IN THE 21ST CENTURY
religions tie their adherents to a creed or dogma. Spiritualism
does not. The philosophy of Spiritualism is founded on seven basic
principles. These seven principles "act as guidelines for the
development of a personal philosophy of how to live one's life".1.
What is a
principle? The dictionary definition is "a fundamental truth on
which others are founded, or from which they spring", whilst another
definition, "based on Spiritualist philosophy, is a 'teaching'
which everyone knows or can believe to be true, although different
opinions can be held about its lesson. In other words, freedom
."2.This aspect is unique to
teachings of spirit imparted to the world in through the mediumship
of Emma Hardinge Britten, a pioneer of the early Spiritualist
Movement, and upon which Spiritualism is based are:
Fatherhood of God
of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels
Existence of the Human Soul
and Retribution hereafter, for all good and
done on earth
Progress open to every Human Soul
Without doubt the rather 'Victorian' language of the Seven Principles,
may at first appear as a stumbling block to seeing their relevance
in the modern world of the 21st Century. Transmitted
in 1871, the principles are couched in the language and understanding
of that time. Some may at first struggle with the apparently 'paternalistic'
and even 'sexist' terminology. Others might find the terminology
archaic and reminiscent of Christian concepts of 'good' and 'evil'
and 'retribution' wherein the believer can either look forward
to a 'place in heaven' or live in fear of landing in 'Hell' when
their time on Earth is done.
To view the
meaning of the Seven Principles in this way would, however, be
an error as further examination of the Principles will, I hope,
reveal. In understanding the true meaning and relevance of the
Seven Principles, their value to us as guiding principles is re-affirmed.
Given as inspired guidelines, they are open to interpretation
by each individual according to their own personal understanding
and particular circumstances. It is for this reason that many
Spiritualist Churches, Missions, and Centres, cite the words "with
liberty of interpretation" whenever referring to the Seven Principles
of Spiritualism. Spiritualism does not claim a monopoly of Religion.
It believes that "one's religion is a personal matter and any
person adopting Spiritualism is Free to interpret the Principles
according to their own awareness".3.
FATHERHOOD OF GOD
recognise that there is a creative force in the universe, and
that force, or 'energy', or 'Intelligence', is an all knowing,
ever present creative 'consciousness' that not only brought the
whole universe into existence, and also life itself in its many
forms, but also continues to actively create and interact with
the whole of the creation. The 'God' of the first Principle of
Spiritualism is 'The Creative Force', the 'Life Force', the 'Great
Spirit', the 'Divine Consciousness', or 'The All that Is', and
not the God of the Christian's, reduced to a nebulous figurehead
sitting on a throne meting out punishment for wrongdoing, or rewards
for 'worshiping' in 'his' name. The 'God' perceived by Spiritualists
"is not the limited Deity of the Judeo-Christian world, endowed
with both human virtues and vices
..the Spiritualist God
is a more abstract idea, embodying all the creative and positive
attributes, yet possessing none of the vices and negativity attributable
to Mankind. Each and every individual is united to this Deity
by dis-severable ties: bonds inherent in his or her very existence.
God is Divine Love!"4.
'God' is infinite Power, and infinite Love. This 'God' is a source
of hope, encouragement, love and support, constantly available
to each and every one of us. It is a God of infinite Wisdom that
will never reject us, who are a part of 'its' creation. A 'God'
who, in creating all that exists, or will ever exist, imbrued
all things with a part of its Divine Consciousness. Every person,
no matter what their faith or religion may be, is a part of 'God's'
creation, and therefore holds within their very being a part,
or a 'spark' of the Divine.
believe that we all: Muslim; Jew; Catholic; Protestant; Baptist;
Mormon; Wiccan; Pagan; Atheist, Spiritualist, and so on, are part
of 'God's' creation and hold within their being this 'Divine Spark'
of God. We believe that "we all follow our own path at our own
pace, discovering the 'God' within and bringing us a greater knowledge
of this Divine source".5.
perceive that all hold the 'Divine Spark' of God within their
being, and that it is this that spark that gives us life and consciousness,
we 'honour' the source of that Life Giving Force, coming to 'God',
and acknowledging 'God' as children come to the wise 'parent/parents'
who have given them life, nurtured them in their infancy and who
stand by them as they come of age. In this sense do Spiritualists
understand the words: 'The Fatherhood of God'.
principle of Spiritualism is a statement of "our ideal of God,
and of our consequent human relationships"6. We must
clearly understand "that the concept of God envisaged
not a person in the ordinary sense of the word, that the use of
the term 'Fatherhood' means only that we regard this relationship
as one of the attributes of the Supreme Mind. Perhaps the term
'Parenthood' would be more helpful, because some of us may have
unhappy memories of a stern father relationship, whilst parenthood
would include a mother relationship, invoking happy memories of
the loving care and guidance
However, the term fatherhood
can still be used, with its interpretation, where desired, as
our ideal of God is as the Supreme Mind or Consciousness beyond
the Universal Plan. "We conceive God as Supreme Mind and the infinite
source of life, love, wisdom and power manifesting through Natural
Law".7. Spiritualism is "confident in claiming the
existence and presence of a Divine order and the working outwards
of a Divine Power which dwells in all things. The life of animals
and plants, the growth of flowers, and, in fact, existence and
development of any kind would be impossible without the presence
of this latent power".8.
clear, having examined the views of a broad range of Spiritualist
writers, past and present, that the 'God' of which we speak is
neither male nor female; the Spiritualist God IS the creative
intelligence behind all creation. It is the 'Infinite Power' or
'Force' that gives rise to all life, all existence. We each hold
within our being, as creatures of God's creation, an infinitesimal
part of God which drives us to become aware of, and express the
divinity within, in all aspects of our lives. That all people,
and all living things, including the Earth and the Universe, are
a part of God and 'its' creation we should honour and respect
the divine aspect in all things, and in so doing will honour the
'father' who created all things.
the first principle, 'The fatherhood of God' in this way allows
the Spiritualist in the 21st Century to still find
meaning and guidance in its words. God, the Creator, the Infinite
Intelligence or Mind, or whatever other phrase might be called
upon, is an ever present Presence' in our lives.
the Father, we honour all things in God's creation. In respecting
the 'Fatherhood of God' we find we must respect all things in
and respecting all things as a part of God, we can arrive at an
understanding that we must love all things as we love the 'Father'
respect, or honour God, without respecting, honouring, and loving
God's creation is in fact to deny God.
As we live
our earthly lives, as we strive to progress toward a greater understanding
of 'God' and 'its' creation, we become aware "that life and progress
stem from within, dependent on this power source", and "we conceive
God as being in the highest sense Our Father and ourselves as
units of His Being and members of His Family".9. We
might choose, in these modern times to say Father/Mother God to
convey that what we have in mind is not a paternalistic figure;
we might be inclined to describe God as the Great Spirit, Loving
and Eternal Father or Divine Creator, in order to reflect our
changing and ever growing awareness of this Infinite Source of
all things, but inherent in all these words is a conviction that
there is a 'Supreme Being', and that Supreme being 'guides' us
and our journey, through this experience we call Life.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN
Concise Oxford Dictionary definition of 'brotherhood' is "Relationship
between brothers; companionship; (members of) association for
mutual help etc.; community of feeling; kindred", while the word
'man' is defined as "Human being, individual of genus Homo,
and a brother, a fellow human being, a person; the human
race", thus it is clear that the second principle of Spiritualism
'The Brotherhood of Man' is not referring to the male species,
but to ALL human beings. It is highlighting that we are all part
of the family of God, and as such have a common bond or relationship
to each other.
principle confirms the validity of the truth that service to God
involves, necessarily, service to the Community of Mankind. Implicit
in this idea is the concept of collective responsibility
principle embraces the idea that we are inextricably connected,
not merely to those of our immediate kith and kin but to Humanity
as a whole. The concept of the Brotherhood of man draws into kinship
the totality of mankind, irrespective of individual or collective
ideas to the contrary. If one would truly 'Serve' one's Creator,
the only possible avenue of service is through that of service
to God's children: our fellow creatures".10.
argue that the title of the second principle should be amended
to brother-sister-hood of mankind to reflect in modern terms the
"ideal expressed in the teaching that we are all brothers and
sisters and there is no high or low, except in spiritual attainment"
and as "children of God we are all equal"11. Others
have maintained that since the words 'brotherhood' and 'man' contain
within their meaning all people there is no need to make any alteration.
For the Spiritualist,
the concept incorporated in 'The Brotherhood of Man' is wide ranging,
radiating from home life through every phase of human relationship.
"Though we humans may differ in colour, build, social development
or ideal, we are basically of the same pattern and we all have
ahead of us the same exalted physical goal".12.
Vigurs, a former President of the Spiritualist National Union
in the United kingdom, and a man who was involved in the struggle
to gain the Spiritualist Movement exemption from the Witchcraft
Act in that country, expressed the view of most Spiritualists
when he wrote "in the home we have two relationships, the ordinary
physical relationship of parents and children and the spiritual
relationship of brothers and sisters in God's family. This leads
to the surprising realisation that, as spirit beings, all parents
and their children are brothers and sisters. So, with that realisation
existing, we must treat each other in our homes with the same
courtesy and consideration we show to others, and a full realisation
of this fact should make a great improvement in the way some parents
treat their children. And, of course, vice versa".
of brotherhood, sisterhood, universal famility relationship, could,
if carried into practical effect in our daily lives, transform
the whole basis of earthly existence, as family life in this context
embraces not only the immediate family circle or our local community
or nation, but all communities and all nations, with all members
being equal. Accomplishment of this realisation would put an end
to communal strife and warring factions, combat national self-interest-first
considerations and territorial gains or acquisitions at the expense
of others, and develop a spirit of true INTER-nationalism">13.
concept or ideal would apply in all facets of life; in the workplace;
in the school and university; and in the realm of religions too.
Sadly, religion is in our world, still a cause of separation and
discussion. Different concepts of God and/or interpretations of
creeds and dogmas abound, resulting in the formation of splinter
groups, persecution and even heresy hunts by one religion toward
another or any other religion. And, all too often this is done
in the name of 'God'.
be tempted to ask how, and why, God, if such a Creator Force or
Supreme Intelligence, does exist, 'allows' the children of its
creation to act with such hatred, dislike, prejudice and persecution.
The Spiritualist will answer that Love, dislike and hatred between
individuals or nations, and wisdom, silliness or folly, in decisions
or actions, are due merely to different degrees of mental and
spiritual development and our sub-conscious reaction to circumstances
or conditions. The Spiritualist will point to the 'free will'
given to Humankind by the Creator. We are 'free' to choose to
act wisely, or foolishly, to demonstrate the love of the spark
of the Divine Spirit that exists within each of us, or to ignore
that spark of Divinity.
principles of Spiritualism will also demonstrate, we are all on
a spiritual pathway. We progress along that pathway at our own
pace; ultimately the goal is to discover our true spiritual identity
and to reflect it in our world through service to our spiritual
community, but God will let us awake to this reality in our own
time, much as a wise parent will allow the child to make their
mistakes, learn their lessons, rather than impose the right behaviour
through rigid rules and regulations, or punishment.
will take many more generations to raise Humankind to the stage
where we can rise above hatred and envy and become wise enough
to govern our lives on the basis of the ideal as expressed in
the principle 'The Brotherhood of Man', but Spiritualists have
recognised that this is ultimately an intrinsic part of the spiritual
journey, and so they strive, as
as small groups of people who come together, in their Churches,
and Missions, to put into practice the message contained within
this second principle of Spiritualism.
of Man' principle "teaches that God, being the Universal Parent,
we are all members of His Family. This means that all men and
women good, bad or indifferent; wise or foolish; strong
or weak; virtuous or sinful; lovable or hateful; worthy or unworthy
are all members of the same family as brothers and sisters
and entitled to each other's love and service."14.