Friday, October 27, 2017

Remembering Romeo & Juliet and Reflecting on A Tragic Misconception Concerning Suicide

I came across Q&A 956 in “The Spirits’ Book”, and I couldn’t help but consider how it puts a bit of a thorn in the heartrending romanticism of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet".

The question reads:
Q:  "Do those who cannot bear the loss of loved ones and kill themselves in the hope of rejoining them accomplish their objective?"

The spirits answer:
A: “The result for them is much different than what they hoped for. Instead of being reunited with the objects of their affection, they keep themselves away from them even longer because God cannot reward an act of cowardice, an insult which demonstrates distrust in divine providence. They will pay for that moment of insanity with afflictions even greater than those they wished to shorten, and they will not have the compensation they hoped for.”

Did Romeo and Juliet believe they would be reunited, or could they simply not bear to be without one another for the rest of their days here on Earth? Either way, anyone who has ever been in love and dreaded the thought of continuing life without the object of his or her undying affection can certainly sympathize with the emotional catalysts for such actions. This is what makes us such fans of this theatrical masterpiece that portrays an emotional turmoil so many can related to. Unfortunately, however, in real life, choices like this do not lead one to happiness in the beyond, as one may hope. 

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From a broader perspective, Romeo and Juliet’s story reflects how a materialistic view on life may ultimately lend itself to a very tragic misconception. From this view, one my see taking his or her life as a way to escape deep pain and suffering. Honest to God, my heart goes out to anyone who is feeling so much hurt or despair that suicide appears to be the best alternative, but this is only made worse by the fact that cutting one’s life short does not take away our problems. In fact doing so limits our ability to resolve them. This also highlights the importance of the message in Spiritism. Spiritism shows us that life beyond the grave continues and that, upon leaving behind the material body, we remain the same individual we were while incarnated - with the same joys, the same sorrows, the same accomplishments thus far achieved, and the some problems left to overcome. Thus demonstrating the futility of ending our own lives and likewise the importance of working through our struggles while we remain incarnate, Spiritism also, however, provides a source of hope and consolation to help us in life’s trying times.

When we allow life to takes its natural course and bravely bear our trials, a natural death can relieve us from certain afflictions - such as the physical pain of an ill body, the longing to be with the loved ones who await our return to the spirit world, or the normal day-to-day challenges of living in the material world. However, many problems that we deal with while alive (incarnated) on Earth - such as broken relationships, addictions, a troubled conscience, moral weaknesses, etc. – do not go away merely because we’ve once again left behind yet another material body and thus closed another chapter on the life story of our immortal soul. Problems like the latter will always require resolution, something that will take effort on our own part to attain, as we continue living and growing in two realms of life.

Suicide only complicates things further and for two reasons. First of all, once we are no longer in the material world, it becomes even harder to actively work on resolving these issues. Sometimes, there are things we can do from the spirit world, but it’s also very possible that we have to wait for a new incarnation to resume where we “left off”. Secondly, the act of prematurely ending one’s life carries with it its own painful consequences – from the darkness and suffering one may experience in the spirit world to the imprint that such an act may have on the circumstances of a future incarnation.

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Collectively, the many teachings of Spiritism help us to understand why suicide is never a good answer. Meanwhile, our loving and knowledgeable mentors and teachers, communicating to us from the discarnate state and through the aid of mediumship, bring us compassion and hope. For all who are interested, below I recommend some resources for learning more about the Spiritist viewpoint and teachings related to the above discussion. If you would like information on where to obtain the books mentioned or which book to begin with, feel free to contact me.

For anyone who may, in particular, have been finding him or herself contemplating suicide: I ask you to please consider exploring the Spiritist teachings and, above all, please reach out to a trusted individual for help. Note that below I have also included US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Furthermore, if you find comfort in what Spiritism offers and you would like to learn more about it, starting with one of the books below, contact me; I will be happy to get you a copy.


Recommended Resources

US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Spiritist Books, topic of Suicide:

Those Left Behind - Understanding Suicide from a Spiritist View (Jussara Korngold)

Spiritist Books for study of Spiritist teachings:

Allan Kardec’s “The Gospel According to Spiritism” 
     (see especially the chapter “Blessed are the Afflicted”)

Allan Kardec’s “Heaven and Hell”

Spiritist Books, specifically, enlightening and inspiring novels:

Nosso Lar  (spirit André Luiz, medium Chico Xavier)

And Life Goes On (spirit André Luiz, medium Chico Xavier)

Resignation (spirit Emmanuel, medium Chico Xavier)

Memoirs of a Suicide (spirit Camilo Candido Botelho, medium Yvonne A. Pereira)

Paul and Stephen (Spirit Emmanuel, medium Chico Xavier)

Spirits Books, messages of inspiration

Happy Life  (spirit Joanna de Ângelis, medium Divaldo Franco)

Child of God  (spirit Joanna de Ângelis, medium Divaldo Franco)

Living and Loving  (spirit Joanna de Ângelis, medium Divaldo Franco)

Our Daily Bread  (spirit Emmanuel, medium Chico Xavier)

The Pathway, the Truth and the Life  (spirit Emmanuel, medium Chico Xavier)


Understanding Suffering - This talk of mine discusses the Spiritist perspective on suffering 

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Spirits: Why Not?! Seeing is Not Believing!

It puzzles me that so many people consider spirits to be nothing but a myth, something you’d have to be fooled to believe in. I’m guessing this has a lot to do with pop culture’s portrayal of “ghosts”. How often do we find movies & videos, books and articles, TV shows, and other media focusing on the miserable plight of suffering spirits and their haunting presence among the lives of the living? They encourage people to see these beings from beyond the grave as either too scary to contemplate or nothing but entertainment for whatever it’s worth to the audience.

We can’t blame all the resistance on popular media though. There are other reasons for the indifference or claims that that spirits simply do not exist. In response to some of those reasons listed here, I might make some suggestions such as these:

With respect to all but the last of the positions above, I would propose flipping things around for a moment of contemplation. What if you start with the details behind the notions and claims that people, in at least some in locations all over the world and throughout all times have seen spirits, heard spirits, or otherwise experienced or documented phenomena that offer strong evidence for the continued existence of individuals once living here in the flesh? Can there not be something to all that?

Yes, it would take some time and willingness to gather and study those details. Yes, you’d have to weed through information garbage to filter out the gems. Yes, you may have to question beliefs that, for you, have been a source of your skepticism concerning spirits. However, if you found the evidence in favor of the existence of spirits to be convincing or even thought-provoking, might it then give you cause to reconsider your perspective?

Of course, sometimes people don’t hold a deliberate disbelief in spirits, or in spirits being among us.  They simply haven’t given it much thought or haven’t had much exposure to information from sources other than contrary teachings or the pop culture I mentioned above. I was one of them, myself! That is, until Spiritism came into my life.

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One of the arguments that surprises me most goes along the lines of, “[Spirits don’t exist because] I can’t see them.”

Really? Of course, we all know the old expression that “Seeing is believing”. Ironically though, that comes nowhere near the way we actually think of the world in this day and age.

Our lives are filled with things we believe to exist or take for granted without seeing them for ourselves. We began learning this at an early age, when our teachers had us look through the microscope. As adults, we could list numerous examples. from the simple to the complex. Furthermore, even when we do “see” something, we know that what we perceive doesn’t necessarily reflect reality! Who doesn’t love a good magic trick? Who hasn’t enjoyed a 3-D movie? Today we’ve gone beyond that to create virtual reality and, even better, the in-development mixed-reality technologies. 

I think we can all agree that seeing is not necessarily believing, just as not seeing is not a direct and just cause for not believing. So when it comes to spirits, I say we scrap those thoughts and instead turn to the one that says, “There’s more than that which meets the eye.”

I’d like to share with you a personal experience that struck me as quite analogous to this concept of seeing or not seeing spirits. Where I work, we recently adopted a new software, which offers many options for customizing the display of project information. Each customized configuration is called a “view”, and it so happens that I create the views for my team.

At first I got frantic calls from panicked users claiming that their data (from the old system) was “gone!!!!!” I would then remind them that it was there but simply hidden through filters. To see it, they needed only to switch to a different “view”.

It occurred to me that the information filters in that software are a bit like the limitations on our senses as incarnate spirits. The inability to perceive spirits is nothing more than a temporary filter. Those who are ostensive mediums have a “view” that allows them to see, hear, or otherwise register the presence of spirits. The fact that others cannot perceive the same does not mean the spirits are not there.

That analogy coincides nicely with Spiritist author Richard Simonetti’s explanations in his book “Mediumship, All You Need to Know””. I would like to provide you this excerpt from that text:

“What is mediumship?
In its simplest definition, mediumship is being sensitive to the influences of the spirit realm. It’s the sixth sense,” which places us into contact with the world of spirits, in much the same way as our senses of touch, taste, smell, seeing, and hearing place us in contact with the world of humans

Does this mean that we are all humans?
All humans have the sensitivities that make the perception of spiritual influences possible.  Not all humans, however, are sufficiently sensitive to produce mediumistic phenomena

What determines this difference?
Let’s imagine someone wearing a suit of armor that impairs their ability to hear and see what is happening around them. This is what happens with us when we reincarnate. We put on a dense flesh garment that inhibits our spiritual perceptions. A medium is someone who has an opening in this armor.”

Is it a physical type of opening? Is it in the body?
Mediumship is a spiritual faculty inherent to all spirits. When we reincarnate it becomes dependent on the conditions of the body. In this regard, we can say that it’s organic because it’s subordinate to a physical structure which doesn’t inhibit all contact with the spirit world.” 

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For Spiritists, rather than questioning the existence of spirits (as we have already been convinced by the evidence and logic), we are hopefully now using this knowledge about spirits, including our own existence as spirits, to take advantage of this incarnation. If, as students of Spiritism, we are convinced by the logical theory but have not yet delved into the practical evidence and explanations, it is important that we study that piece of Spiritism - from Kardec and others as well. After all, this basic notion is fundamental to the entirety of Spiritist principles, perspectives, and approach to life!

To begin with, I’d highly recommend:

     Allan Kardec’s “The Mediums’ Book”: Part One:
         Ch   I - Are There Spirits?
         Ch  II - The Extraordinary and the Supernatural
         Ch III - Methodology
          Ch IV - Theories

     Allan Kardec’s “What is Spiritism”
          Chapter: The Critic / Section: “False Explanations of the Phenomena”

Just a word of caution. In our enthusiasm for Spiritism, we may be eager for others to study and gain from the same “enlightenment”. Let’s remember, however, that not everyone will see Spiritist thought, principles, and information in the same way or find in it the same degree of benefit. Nor does everyone have to! If we share the awareness of Spiritism, it is only to let each individual decide if the body of Spiritist knowledge and information is a good fit for him or her at this time.

Meanwhile, let’s continuously remind ourselves that any information, if not consciously employed for our own betterment, is simply that, information. What we do with it is up to us!

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