Friday, November 25, 2016

Reflections on the Day After: Why Thanksgiving is Decidedly My Favorite Holiday

Who doesn’t love a day off of work, time spent with loved ones, and a delicious meal?  All things to be grateful for and a wonderful way to celebrate, for sure!  But they’re not unique. As enjoyable and truly special as they may be, we do similar things on other holidays and occasions as well.  The dishes may change, and the people we’re with may vary a bit, but these general aspects of the Thanksgiving holiday are common among our various celebrations throughout the year.

At one point in the day yesterday, it just hit me. Thanksgiving has got to be my favorite of them all. For me, two unique things about this day really make my heart smile.

For one thing, Thanksgiving is a day that we can all share. It’s not a religious holiday that by definition involves only a portion of the population. Furthermore, even more shared than Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or other non-religious occasions like Valentine’s Day and the like, Thanksgiving is a simple but distinctive celebration, with nothing* but love and gratitude as its focus. We can all join in, and how awesome is that?

(*Note: I’m going to ignore here the fact that as something relatively new, stores are now opening on Thanksgiving and people are actually out in them. Personally, I still choose not to join in. Many people, I know, likewise feel the same, but whether you like it or love it, let’s not bring that in here as a point of contention.)

Now, the other thing I love about Thanks-giving… is the giving of thanks! I’ve always loved that, but this year I appreciated it even more than ever before. My husband I have a tradition of spending a number of hours on Thanksgiving day, reaching out to friends and loved ones to give them our good wishes. It’s great to hear from so many and to catch up with some whom we haven’t connected with in in a long time. This year, however, instead of just calling or writing to say “Happy Thanksgiving” and to enjoy the many conversations, we actually stopped to really tell people how much they meant to us, to share with them our gratitude for we what appreciated in them, and to thank them for ways they had been there for us throughout the year.

The impact on me was significant.  My heart truly felt happy to connect with so many in a vibration of warmth and love.  It feels so awesome to let people know they are appreciated, and connecting in that way with people from all different parts of our lives is really special. Adding to that my general thoughts and reflections, throughout the day, about various reasons for which I feel so blessed, I literally started feeling grateful for gratitude itself.

As I connected with even more individuals through the medium of social media, I also found the wave of positive thoughts, thanksgiving wishes, and expressions of thankfulness to be so truly refreshing. We have spent so many weeks in this country enduring a heightened division among us that it felt so good to see and feel something welcomingly different. For at least a day, we shared a vibration of joy and thanksgiving.

Gratitude is something we talk about so much in Spiritism. We know conceptually that it is a source of both nourishment and healing for our souls. Still, when we stop to cultivate it and enjoy it as we may do on days like Thanksgiving, we realize how powerful it really is. It then becomes strikingly evident how important it is for us to exercise and express gratitude not just on a dedicated holiday but as much as possible all throughout the year.


Having said all the above, I must add one more thing. I want to acknowledge that for a good number of people the holidays are trying times, including Thanksgiving.  Even when feeling grateful for acknowledged blessings, many find themselves - around the holidays in particular - reminded of losses, difficulties, or loved ones missed so dearly. Others may be prompted to reflect on their lives and for one reason or another find themselves burdened by regrets.  And of course many struggle, whether it be to make ends meet or to simply make it through the day.  If you count yourself among them, I am thinking of you as well, and I have you in my prayers. My heart goes out to those who are hurting, and I ask that in our vibrations of gratitude and love, we remember and extend our giving hearts and hands to those who need the kindness and compassion and of others.  

I likewise pray that for the well-being of our nation, we can keep alive any healthy and vibrations that may have been kindled over this Thanksgiving weekend. For our world as a whole, I pray for peace. Finally, I extend my sincere appreciation to all those who are doing what they can to cultivate respect and care for all individuals, as well as for the environment we share and will one day leave for generations to come. To all doing their best to be make a impact in this world, I thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and God bless.

Thank you for reading!
Blessings to all, today and always

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Taking A Step Back to Gather Perspective and Push Forward.

Ahhhhh, Spiritism…  the science, philosophy, and moral compass that I love so much and from which I have drawn strength and understanding on countless occasions. Where would I be today if were not for this blessing in my life?!  I don’t know, but one thing I am absolutely sure of is my immense gratitude for the opportunity to acquire this knowledge. 

There are times in life when something unexpected seems to hit us from “out of nowhere” - at least from nowhere within the range of our expectations. Whether disruptive acts of Mother Nature, unforeseen circumstances of life that leave us with a feeling of loss, or other events spawned by what strikes us as shocking choices, attitudes or behaviors of our fellow human beings, such events leave us bewildered, asking questions, perhaps making demands. In some cases, we may even find ourselves in a state of anger or fear. 

For some given period of time, a blow like this may threaten to knock us off balance, and it is not until time, faith, reasoning, an open mind, the compassion of others, personal resilience, or any combination of the above helps us to find our “center” that we press forward, with relative equilibrium. In these moments, we should turn to the resources that help us to do just that, and for me Spiritism is one of them.  

To me, it seems that only from the perspective of the immortal soul do certain things stand even a chance of making any sense, as painful as they may still be to endure. That said, it’s not simply that we are immortal. It is that life itself is multi-dimensional and that this particular material lifetime is but one of many - just a spec on the radar of our spiritual existence. Reincarnation is the key to understanding so much about life; but again, reincarnation, alone, is still not enough. The key is that we are evolving, each and every one of us. We are simultaneously on both our individual pathways and a greater, shared journey. 

This is, in part, why we have so much in common and, at the same time, so many differences. It also helps to explain why our collective progress is only a reflection of where we are as an entire group of diverse individuals, including both ends of any spectrum, no matter what aspect or characteristic we chose to measure. This was one of the thoughts behind the following statement I posted on Facebook last week.

I understand, however, that understanding a statement like the one above is probably not something that will happen without some background and foundation in the general principles of Spiritism. A true understanding, to the point of drawing strength and courage from such a concept, will likely only come through some amount of time spent actually studying and reflecting on the teachings found throughout Spiritist literature.

This is why I was so thankful, yesterday, to see this presentation which I’m sharing with you here since the recording is already available. If you are rather new to Spiritism, this video will give you a chance to see and hear some information and clarifications that may serve as at least one source of calmness in a moment of chaos, light in a space of darkness, or hope in a time of doubt or worry. If it at all resonates with you, then I would encourage you to explore further into Spiritism

For those who are already Spiritist, there are some great reminders here that help us to gather our thoughts and regain footing when we stumble over unseen obstacles inherent to a world in our planet’s current stage of spiritual transformation.

Experience of Immortality in Times of Transition
- Suzana Simoes

This timely presentation captures the essence of Spiritism so as to demonstrate just how Spiritism affords us invaluable insights on life and the process of transformation, and it calls upon us to put that knowledge into action.  

◊ ◊ ◊

Let us not become paralyzed, but mobilized. This is not “religious talk”. Nor is it ignorance. Likewise, it is neither blind faith nor a deaf ear. It is the application of an informed and rational faith to make sense of the world and to find the hope and courage to be that which we desire to see in the world around us.  

Don’t take my word for it. Check out the video.

Thank you for reading!
Blessings to all, today and always

Thursday, September 8, 2016

More Isn’t Always Better: Spiritists Value Suffering But Do Not Seek It

More isn’t always better. Ironically, whether it’s a natural human tendency or more of a widespread cultural norm, we so often think that just because something is good in some way, it then behooves us to seek more of it. That is simply not true, but perhaps this is why there is sometimes a misconception, among those who make hasty assumptions without understanding well the teachings of Spiritism, that because Spiritists emphasizes the role of suffering in facilitating our spiritual progress we then seek out ways to suffer as if intentionally.

Just to set the record straight, Spiritists seek happiness, not suffering. This is what we are striving for. The more we study Spiritism, the better we understand how suffering helps our spirits, in the long run, to overcome barriers to the attainment of that happiness we so desire. Suffering educates, awakens, motivates, and inspires, yet the suffering we value is the suffering that finds its cause somewhere in our past, whether in this lifetime or before it. For those circumstances, we are then enlightened by Spiritism regarding the purpose of suffering, as well as what is required on our part to take advantage of its benefits. 

In no way do we seek further suffering as if in attempt to “capitalize” on it and reap its “greatest possible benefits”. This, in fact, would be contrary to divine law! Our ultimate goal is actually to minimize our suffering and maximize our joy, until the latter grows and swells like an ocean wave approaching the shore line, ready to wash away any remaining imprints from our painful past.  

Reflecting on this understanding, I am reminded of the famous Serenity Prayer, by Reinhold Niebuhr:

   God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
   The courage to change the things I can, 
   And the wisdom to know the difference.

◊ ◊ ◊

Would you like to know more about the Spiritist understanding of suffering?  Here are a few resources for you to explore more:

Watch my talk entitled Understanding Suffering:

Read about The Meaning of Suffering on this webpage:

Check out these articles regarding suffering on the NW Spiritism blog:

Thank you for reading!
Blessings to all, today and always


Monday, June 6, 2016

“Punished By God?” - Why Spiritism Today Deserves a Different Choice of Wording

I don’t know about you, but I’ve personally reached a point in my Spiritist studies where I just think that references to being “punished by God”, and the like, do not represent the best choice of wording to use in our present-day dissemination of the Spiritist message. I kind of cringe a bit when I occasionally see or hear such wording being used still today. Please know that I mention this only because of my love of Spiritism and my appreciation for the invaluable perspectives it affords. For over 150 years now, the spiritual realm has been working hard to help us understand the Spiritist teachings and employ them for our own betterment, and the spirits’ message deserves terminology that will convey it as effectively as possible. While Spiritism leads us to understand the compassionate nature of God and the beneficial aspects of our experiences as evolving, spiritual beings, the connotation that is typically associated with the word punishment can take away from a more enlightened understanding of our spiritual evolution. 

Spiritism helps us to comprehend our gradual development of intelligence and moral capacity, and it shows us how all our experiences contribute to this education and growth. As such, we know that along our journey, we make choices and, consequently, the results of those choices become part of our learning process. We learn how reincarnation facilitates our progress by allowing us opportunity after opportunity to learn at our own, self-directed pace. And from countless communications from spirits at all different degrees of advancement, we have testimonies that help us to learn from both the mistakes of some and the motivational examples and wisdom of others. 

Through literature that has helped us to envision the interactive nature of the spiritual and material realms, we’ve learned, among many important teachings, about so many ways in which discarnate beings help and support us in the struggles of material life. Most importantly, suffering takes on new meaning under the light of Spiritist principles. Though we may still struggle to embrace our challenges, disappointments, and pains, from Spiritism we understand their role in helping direct us toward the true happiness we are all destined to achieve. 

Having stated the above, when one thinks about being “punished by God” or “paying for something one has done”, what comes to mind (or what could, in isolation, come to mind) may be something totally different from an understanding of learning, accountability, the compassionate justice of our creator, and the natural laws that govern life.  That wording may tend to make us envision an act of revenge or retaliation of some sort, as if an “angry” God were still settling scores. If Jesus came to teach us about God’s love and eradicate this kind characterization of God, then the spirits have explained Jesus’ message with information that deepens our understanding of God’s perfect nature.

Granted, within the greater context of Spiritist teachings, the word punishment can be understood in a way that is in better agreement with the Spiritist principles; in fact, this exercise is of particular importance when reading the foundational texts of Spiritism, and those who understand Spiritism can make the proper association when doing so. But isn’t it preferable for our present-day dialogue to go “straight to the point” with language that resonates best with that which has enlightened and inspired us?  And shouldn’t we also consider how we may best serve those who come new to Spiritism and, at minimum, do not yet have the context with which to make the proper interpretation?

◊ ◊ ◊

As I’ve hinted to just above, I am very aware that the works of the codification, for example, include many instances of the words punishment and its variations.  The latter are found in statements made both by Allan Kardec, himself, and the communicating spirits. Perhaps invariably, then, some may question whether I am contradicting Kardec or pointing out what I’d consider a flaw in those texts. I assure you that this is not at all the case.

To begin, we need to allow for the timing and historical context of those works. From its inception, Spiritism offered a shining light to liberate its students from the hopeless belief in eternal damnation, while also empowering individuals with awareness of their spiritual existence and progress. Considering that grand contribution, any potential issue with the mere use of the word punishment, in reference to the unpleasant consequences of certain choices was much less significant than the benefits afforded by those relatively progressive teachings that were introduced. The way I see it, the terminology at that time perhaps represented a bridge between old and new concepts. By the way, for those who’ve read my previous post entitled “Dear ‘The Spirits’ Book’, You had me at ‘What is God?’”, this is not unlike the analogy I used there of crossing monkey bars.    

It’s also important to keep in mind that the word punishment doesn’t have to conjure up thoughts of vindication. For example, a parent may punish a child and do so out of love - to establish authority, teach a lesson, or deter a harmful behavior. In this case, it is the parent who is generating the circumstances that the child will experience as an unwanted consequence of his or her actions. The punishment, therefore, is unpleasant but temporary, and as the child matures, he or she will one day understand both its beneficial purpose and the love with which it was instilled. This meaning is rather acceptable, and perhaps this interpretation is the bridge that would help take us to a more involved understanding.  It also helps us to read through the earlier Spiritist texts.

Now, while the child in the above example is not electing nor generating his or her own punishment, in the reality of our spiritual life, we do in fact influence how we experience the outcomes of our choices and the kinds of experiences by which we will learn. This happens, for instance, through the workings of our conscience (see The Spirits’ Book, Q&A 621) and even through certain situations that, while in the discarnate state, we may request for an upcoming incarnation.  Furthermore, unlike the parent who typically creates a punishment designed primarily for calling the child’s attention, in a general way, the kinds of consequences we experience, via divine law and our own conscience, are very specific to what we need to learn and/or correct as a result of our less than ideal choices and behaviors.

For further exploration, let’s consider the fact that we do not always correlate unpleasant consequences to punishment. This depends upon the source of the circumstances. To illustrate, suppose you run too quickly down a flight of stairs and you end up falling and getting hurt.  You may recognize your error in taking the stairs too fast, but would you put the rest of the blame on punishment?  No, because you understand the natural law of gravity. And who can blame “science”?  Well, although the example is extremely simplistic, the point can be made that the circumstances we may deem as “God’s punishment” are really, in a similar way, only the materialization of laws just as natural as the law of gravity. They are, however, still not yet understood in that way.

◊ ◊ ◊

When we come across punishment in Spiritism, let us be conscious of the intended meaning of the word. Fortunately, once one has taken the time to read through Kardec’s texts, this meaning does become clear within the rich philosophical framework of Spiritist principles. We cannot take punishment in this context to indicate an “eye-for-an-eye” type of retribution. It simply refers to the fact that we must be shown where we have gone wrong and then correct our mistakes, restore what we have damaged, or re-harmonize what we have left in imbalance. We may be in moral debt for having caused a loss, but we’re not “made to pay”; as painful as the process may be, we’re instead given the opportunity to re-establish our good standing.

My point in all of this is to say that while the word punishment, per se, is not necessarily inaccurate, I believe that the negative connotation it carries, for many, does not do the greatest justice to the truly inspirational education that Spiritism has brought to us. Under such circumstances, it may unintentionally lend itself to the viewpoint of the child who fails to see the greater purpose and screams “unfair!” at a (perceived-to-be) external imposition of consequences, even more so if we read into it an attribution to God of imperfect human tendencies and behaviors.

While we can understand the wording in texts from Kardec and other earlier writers, I humbly suggest that in our modern-day communications, we take care to select words and expressions that really introduce others to kind of inspiring clarification that Spiritism is capable of. So let’s make it clear that we are not truly punished, but rather we are educated. We do not pay; we restore. We are not condemned; we are redeemed. We are not sinners; we are students. We are not belittled; we are beloved. 

I believe that in taking this approach, we will not only help those who are new to Spiritism; we will also grow in our own exploration and practical application of the Spiritist philosophy.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Research Paper on The Scientific Investigations of Allan Kardec

What made Allan Kardec and his work stand out amidst all the Spiritualist activity that was so prominent during his time? Much of this had to do with the scientific approach that Kardec applied to his studies of spirit manifestations and communications. 

Kardec’s scholarly and professional background made him well prepared to take on this task of such significance, and this is illustrated by the approach he took to this work, as well as the elucidating logic woven through his explanations of the spirits’ teachings derived as a product of his investigations.

Those who appreciate these characteristics of Kardec’s work, as well as those who would like to learn more about Kardec’s process of investigating the existence, communicability, influence, and teachings of spirits will want to check out this recently published research paper that I, for one, was thrilled to come across.

Author Alexander Moreira-Almeida referred to Kardec as “a pioneer in proposing scientific investigation of psychical phenomena”, and he wrote about it this paper, entitled “Allan Kardec and the Development of a Research Program in Psychic Experiences”.

I encourage you to take a look into this and share it, as Moreira-Almeida has attempted to increase awareness about the existence and significance of Kardec’s research. I leave with you here the abstract and more information about the author. You can then follow the link to the full-length paper that has graciously been made available to the general public.

Paper Abstract (spacing included by me for visual purposes):

Allan Kardec was one of the first scholars to propose a scientific investigation of psychic phenomena but details of his life and his research work are not well known and have been misrepresented. This paper is a descriptive essay briefly presenting Kardec's biography, the first steps in his seminal research, and several epistemological/methodological guidelines he proposed to develop a comprehensive scientific research program to deal with psychic phenomena.

Kardec raised and tested several hypotheses to explain mediumistic phenomena: fraud, hallucination, a new physical force, somnambulism (including unconscious cerebration and clairvoyance), thought reflection (including telepathy and super-psi), discarnate spirits and several other theories. He accepted that fraud, hallucination, unconscious cerebration and thought reflection could explain many phenomena regarded as mediumistic. However, when mediumistic phenomena were studied as a whole, the best explanation would be the spiritist hypothesis, a spiritual origin for the phenomena. He named this hypothesis "Spiritism".
Some guidelines he proposed to advance scientific research in psychical phenomena were: to use methods appropriate to the subject of investigation, to avoid both sterile skepticism and credulity, to be open to the novel, and to heed the need for a comprehensive and diversified empirical basis. He stressed the importance of theory for a scientific research program, and that facts are not enough to create certainty. Parapsychology/psychical research has much to gain in better knowing Kardec's and other pioneer's works, not just for a better understanding of the field's history, but also for potential scientific/philosophical tools that may be useful to move the field forward. Deeper studies on aspects of Kardec's work and life are warranted.

About the Author:


 Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF) School of Medicine, Founder and Director of the Research Center in Spirituality and Health - NUPES-UFJF, Brazil. Chair of the Section on Spirituality of the World Psychiatric Association. Trained in psychiatry, CBT and has a PhD in Health Sciences from the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil. Formerly a postdoctoral fellow in religion and health at Duke University (USA). Coordinator of TV NUPES (


Full-length Paper and List of References:
View here

Thank you for reading!
Blessings to all, today and always

Friday, March 11, 2016

What Is Spiritism? (Great Video!)

Curious about Spiritism? Sit back, relax, and have a watch this fantastic video!

 What Is Spiritism?

(shared with the gracious permission of Conscious Living Spiritist Group)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Does Analytical Thinking Decrease Religious Belief?

Or do we simply need beliefs that stand up to logic?

The Huffington Post published an article about research suggesting that "prompting people to engage in analytical thinking can cause their religious beliefs to waver" to some degree.  Here’s my two cents on that suggestion, from the perspective of Spiritsm:

Having dared to dive deeply into their religious beliefs, people sometimes discover questions left unresolved or some specific teachings that do not make rational sense. Still, many do not lose their intuitive sense of a higher power. At that point they may become seekers. Alternatively, they even may choose to stay with their religion, turning to it as a way to connect with God and taking from it that which they find in agreement with their sentiment and reason.

Regardless, there is a reason why people believe so strongly about certain things they “feel” to be true, even when the complete set of teachings (meaning, taken in their entirety), in any particular religion or philosophy, does not resonate with their analytical thinking. Question # 959 of the The Spirits’ Book, for example, asks, “Where do we get our instinctive sense that there is a future life?”, and the spirits answered that it is from the knowledge we had before our (present) incarnation. Some of the initial Q&A's of this book also refer to this same intuitive belief that we have about the existence of God.

That said, many who hear this intuitive voice but take a hard look at their traditional religions or philosophies become restless with doubts and questions, and they start searching for something that can answer their questions without compromising reason or faith. What they are seeking is, in fact, the “rational faith” (as opposed to “blind faith”) that Kardec wrote about upon analyzing the Spiritist teachings and realizing their capacity to revolutionize our way of thinking.

A time has come in which our evolutionary human spirits seek to understand life and its meaning on a deeper level. But it must also be a practical level.  This is why so many find Spiritism to be a breath of fresh air.

We’re not looking for the mysterious or esoteric. We want to comprehend and be fully engaged. We want information that gives us insight into why we are here in this world, why we suffer through hardships that seem to have no fair cause, and how we can find happiness. We want to know that there is good reason for cultivating love and compassion. We want to understand our creator. We want to know what will happen to us when we “die” and if our loved ones that already passed on continue to live. We want explanations for supernatural phenomena that others try to dismiss. And the list goes on.

Friends, it is for this reason that Allan Kardec wrote that "unshakeable faith is only that which meets reason face to face in every epoch"1 and that “it is precisely the rationalism of our century that leads us to accept Spiritism”!2

Thank you for reading!
Blessings to all, today and always


1 "The Gospel According to Spiritism"  
See items 7 in Chapter XIX of The Gospel According to Spiritism by Allan Kardec [original title in French: L’Évangile Selon Le Spiritisme, published in 1864], translation © 2008 by the International Spiritist Council, published in 2008 by the International Spiritist Council.

2 What Is Spiritism? by Allan Kardec [original title in French: Qu’est-ce Que Le Spiritisme?, published in 1859], translation © 2010 by the International Spiritist Council, published in 2011 by the International Spiritist Council.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Attempted Hijacking of Humankind’s Progress and the Challenges We Face in this Moral Assault from Another Realm

Progress is inevitable. From everything Spiritism has to teach us, we know that as humankind advances in acquisition of knowledge and virtue, the world we call home will also change.  From books like Kardec’s The Gospel According to Spiritism and Genesis and Genesis, we’ve learned that somewhere on the horizon is a phase of planetary evolution called “regeneration”. Aware that we’ll only achieve this degree of advancement after leaving behind that which now qualifies Earth as a “world of trials and expiations”, we’re likewise ensured that divine providence affords the mechanisms and resources to guide us on this journey of spiritual growth.

Whether consciously or not, we benefit from the tireless efforts of countless angelic beings. In seeing us through the eyes of understanding and compassion, they do everything they can to help us. As Spiritists, we find tremendous comfort and inspiration in our awareness of these invisible companions. They are, in reality, none other than human spirits like ourselves (albeit in a discarnate state); however, by fruit of their own labor they have experienced a kind of joy that can only be found through the pursuit of moral dignity. Wishing to help others achieve the same, they act with the desire and commitment to serve, thus enabling their own progress and the progress of those who benefit from their care.

◊ ◊ ◊

With that kind of support at hand, we might look around, then, and question why our world is still so backward. Why is there still so much unhappiness and unrest?  Why are there so many souls wandering astray, one incarnation after the next, repeatedly violating the will of the conscience and causing pain to themselves and others? 

This, too, is made clear in the explanations afforded by Spiritism. Lest we not become complacent in the inspiring knowledge of our destined future state, Spiritism also teaches us that the timing at which progressive change will take place depends on the use we make – both individually and collectively - of the free will granted to us. Thus, the voices are there to call us to good, to offer wise counsel, to lend encouragement. The invisible, back-stage actors move silently behind the scenes trying to set the stage for positive outcomes in the circumstances of our daily lives. In the end however, the thoughts we nurture and the actions we take are both of our own choosing. It is, therefore, crucial for us to understand that alongside the army of unseen benefactors willing to go to battle for our awakening, there’s also a legion of opponents bent on goals that are of an entirely opposite motive.

This may come as no surprise, for indeed, Spiritism teaches us about the potential influences from unhappy spirits, whose suggestions and vibrations we attract if we are not careful with the kind of thoughts we entertain on a regular basis.  Whether they’re strangers merely drawn to us by way of vibrational affinity or adversaries from unresolved conflicts of our past lives in the material world, these spirits can exert an influence that can likewise become progressively dangerous and harmful, eventually reaching various stages of what, in Spiritism, we call obsession.

◊ ◊ ◊

What may not be so readily apparent, even once one begins to study Spiritism and becomes aware of this aspect spiritual influence, is just how widespread, perverse, and organized these unhappy spirits can be in their efforts to keep others from experiencing, even from pursuing, any kind of peace or happiness. For example, we’re familiar, here in the material world, with the existence of organized crime. As such, we can understand why, given that discarnate spirits are merely the same souls who at times live out incarnate lives in the material world, we find similar behaviors (both good and bad) in both realms. As such, the organized mobilization of corruption and cruelty indeed takes place not just here, but also in the spirit world. Furthermore, the targets of its actors are not limited to fellow discarnate spirits, for the material world also suffers a tremendous impact from their morally deranged intentions.

The above, in part, is the focus of explanations shared by an instructor at an educational establishment in the spiritual realm. The instructor offered these explanations to  spirit author, André Luiz, who then narrated the encompassing conversation in the second chapter of his novel, Liberationpsychographed by the medium Francisco Cândido Xavier.  

As I read through that chapter, I could not help but be reminded of a text in the book Obsession1, written by spirit author Manoel Philomeno De Miranda and psychographed by Divado Franco, in which the author writes about the existence of “gangs” in the lower regions of the spirit world. De Miranda informs that the spirits who gain positions of "power" in these organizations, "obsess other discarnate entities like themselves, who in turn become obsessors of incarnate individuals, setting up a very complex circle of communal living, exploiting one another physically and psychically.”

Are these morally debased spirits some sort of diabolic beings apart from the community of souls that you and I are a part of?  No, they are merely human spirits whose lamentable choices over the course of multiple lifetimes have lead them so far into the abyss of hopelessness and despair, accompanied by ruminating thoughts of resentment and the like, that they literally cannot fathom any other reality. And though progress is not some privilege that they’ve relinquished for all of eternity, they will not even begin the long road of redemption until they tire enough of their own circumstances to become open to the rescue support that is always there in the waiting.

Comments from the mentioned instructor to André Luiz help to explain these spirits’ current state. He informs André:

Incapable of going straight from the grave to heaven, the children of despair organize themselves into vast colonies of hate and moral misery, fighting amongst themselves for control of the earth. Like us, they possess a large, invaluable intellectual patrimony, and, as fallen angels of Science, they seek, above all, the debasement of the divine processes that guide planetary evolution.

Entrenched in the dark passions that flog their consciences, spirits whose minds are crystallized in rebelliousness try in vain to undermine the Divine Harmony, creating cysts of inferior life on the earth. They know countless ways to disturb, hurt, obscure, and destroy. They enslave the beneficent services of reincarnation in great expiatory sectors and make use of agents of discord against every embodiment of sublime purposes for which God designed our actions.[…]

Few [among incarnates] understand that death is just a modification of one’s body and fewer still are those – even the most learned religious individuals – who are wise enough to live in the physical vessel according to the superior principles they have espoused.[…]

Imperfect spirits that we still are, we follow those with whom we are attuned and we reap the rewards of ascent and victory, or the damages of descent and failure, controlled as we are by intelligences that are stronger than ours and who stay at our side in the progressive or depressive zone in which we have put ourselves.[…]

Fallen souls […], no matter who they are, do not comprise a spiritual race sentenced to languish in a demonic state of madness forever as part of the discarnate collectivity, in a completely senseless condition. No, they comingle with the terrestrial multitudes and have a strong influence on many homes and administrations. The fundamental interest of the most intelligent ones is to keep the world distracted and in the dark by encouraging ignorance and selfishness, postponing indefinitely the arrival of the Kingdom of God.

◊ ◊ ◊

As I read this text and reflected on both the extent of such activity and the challenges it presents for Earth’s progress given the influence on this material world, I was not only reminded of the text from Manoel Philomeno De Miranda.  Something else that came to mind is a completely different and otherwise unrelated (and non-Spiritist) book that I’ve recently been exposed to, entitled Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy2.  This book presents a disturbingly eye-opening view on current practices in smuggling and illicit trade (of all kinds imaginable), outlining just how widespread this growing, global phenomena of alarming consequences really is.  It was actually a set of interesting parallels between certain details of this book and the above concepts from Spiritist literature that inspired the title for this blog post.

A particular irony came to my mind as I read Illicit. As we all know, there are individuals and corporations, worldwide, that, whether for the sake of legal obedience or by their own moral standards, are making efforts to ensure compliance with laws and codes of conduct. The latter are intended to maintain order, establish justice, and protect people and the living world around us. Meanwhile, however, in parallel, we find a myriad of persons and entities across the globe who collaborate with one another in complete disregard for any laws or even for the moral consequences of their illicit commercial activity. As he suggests with such a title, the author of Illicit proposes that the smugglers, traffickers, and copycats are hijacking our global economy (not to mention the dignity and safety of human lives, in many cases). Reading André Luis’ text, I was reminded of that irony as I thought about the efforts that many individuals are making to live morally dignified lives, backed by the extensive support humankind receives from the spiritual realm, and, meanwhile, the juxtaposition of all this noble activity with the unfortunate determination of those unhappy “spiritual gangsters” to impede our achievement of happiness and peace.   

Another shared concept that struck me was that of a deep intertwining of two co-existing worlds. The author of Illicit, for example, made very clear the presence of a deep penetration of the illicit trade activity within the movement, mechanisms, and commercial infrastructure of legal global commerce and everyday life. Likewise, along the innumerable points touched by the networks of illicit trade, we are all (governments, citizens, financial institutions) impacted in some way and are likewise involved, willingly or unwillingly, to some degree. 

In many ways, this is not unlike the operations carried out by criminals of the spirit world, who use sophisticated networks to disseminate the object of their own trafficking activity: moral degradation. They too, infiltrate our world (in both spiritual and material dimensions) with their horrifying effects, using some of the same fundamental mechanisms that facilitate the noble work of loving souls. Through the law of affinity, mediumistic influence, the manipulation of spiritual energies, and other spiritual “tools”, these delinquent souls “smuggle” their disruptive ideas, energies, and influence into our minds, our homes, and our lives.

It is argued in Illicit  that we will not make any progress in combatting illicit trade practices if we see them only as “underground”, “black market”, and “offshore” operations. A different mentality and understanding is required because we cannot afford to imagine all this as being somehow apart from everything else. Similarly, in order to combat the dreadful influence of morally and mentally ill, discarnate spirits, we cannot view the lower vibratory zones where they’re found as being a hell that exists somewhere else and that has no involvement with the material realm we inhabit. It is critical for us to understand the mutual influence of the spiritual and material realms and to recognize the ways in which we determine the types of influences that we attract (good or bad) as well as the relationships we establish.

◊ ◊ ◊

At the level of undertaking described in the above-mentioned Spiritist texts, such orchestrated efforts to impede progress collectively become an assault on our planet as a whole. 

The methods of attack are the same ones we refer to when we talk about obsession in discussions focused on individuals or groups of individuals. Still, the extent of organization behind the impact that ultimately and directly reaches us as incarnate beings only reinforces the need for awareness and protection.

Spiritist knowledge is so relevant and so desperately needed. The reasons do include but go far beyond the understanding that death does not exist, the awareness that we can communicate with the spirit realm, or the knowledge that reincarnation is a reality. Even more important are the implications of such realities and what they mean for us in terms of our own responsibilities.

Knowing that there is life beyond the grave is comforting when we think about our loved ones and other benevolent spirits who support us in our worthy intentions. However, it’s also alarming when we consider that there are ill-willed spirits who can pursue a connection with us in order to cause us harm. As a result, with the further understanding that our own thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors open the doorway to the influences we receive, we realize just how important it is to nourish our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

Along similar lines, reincarnation is a fascinating phenomenon to study and reflect on. However, studying about the justice of reincarnation and the ways that natural laws facilitate our long term attainment of true happiness actually gives us a new appreciation for the difficulties we endure. Furthermore, by understanding the multi-incarnation dramas that can play out until an established conflict is overcome, we perceive our relationships in a new way; we begin to see others with more compassion, and we recognize the true value of understanding and forgiveness, both for healing wounds from prior incarnations as well as in preventing the disastrous carryover of today’s conflicts, meaning into the spiritual realm (after death) or beyond (into a future incarnation). We also believe in the need to pray for our transgressors as well as those whom we ourselves have transgressed.

Finally, Spiritism never fails to remind us about our duties toward one another as children of God.  As such, De Miranda writes (though Franco’s mediumship):
Every obsessor […] is a brother of ours in the spiritual rearguard, where most of us have also been in the past. They need compassion and mercy, prayer and positive thoughts from all who are devoted to rescue work. We must offer them the opportunity for renewal and point out to them the luminous road they must travel, guided by the light of their spiritual discernment, in order to free themselves from the suffering through which they atone for their past errors.

Spiritism teaches us not to see or treat even malicious spirits as the enemy, with teachings that provide all the explanation behind such guidance. And, for example, you will find at Spiritist Centers special mediumistic sessions held specifically for the purposes of treating cases of obsession. Dedicated and trained incarnate Spiritist workers collaborate with discarnate partners in the spiritual realm and use the resource of mediumship to console and counsel suffering spirits who are often times involved in obsessive ties with one or more incarnate individuals.

◊ ◊ ◊

Knowledge is, indeed, power, and it is an invaluable start when it comes to addressing issues concerning spiritual obsession and the existence of “organized crime” in the spiritual dimension. Even still, without action, knowledge alone is powerless to be of any good. Therefore, let it be clear that although progress is inevitable, the pathway we take to achieve it is ours to carve out. 

Divine law will ensure that, with time, we will eventually climb to reach the peak of spiritual progress. However, our own choices over the span of countless incarnations will determine how windy our course at times may become and how deep the valleys we travel through may get before we finally rise and make our way to the top. If we disregard the compass of our conscience and we descend into those valleys, we will encounter the kind of company that inhabits the corresponding zones of the lower spiritual realms.

To combat these negative influences, we must continue to study and disseminate Spiritism, where we find eye-opening knowledge about these realities of spiritual life. Even more important is that we put Spiritism’s teachings into practice. This is necessary in order liberate ourselves from the binding threads of bitterness and unrest sown through the conflicts of our past. Furthermore, it is the way in which we will effectively protect ourselves today, while ensuring our gradual progress toward the true happiness of tomorrow.

Thank you for reading!
Blessings to all, today and always

1 De Miranda, Manoel Philomeno [spirit Author], Franco, Divaldo P. [Medium]. 1980 Obsession. (translation of "Grilhoes Partidos). Trans. Donato Ely J. and Miranda, Herminio C. Salvador, Ba, Brazil. Centro Espirita "Caminho da Redenção". 15-16.
2 Mosés, Naím. 2005. Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy. New York: Anchor Books.