American Spiritist


















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Important Points
      The following summary is mostly by the International Spiritist Counsel

  • God is eternal, immutable, immaterial, unique, all-powerful, sovereignly just and good.
  • God created the universe, which comprehends all beings, animate and inanimate, material and immaterial.
  • Physical beings constitute the visible or incarnate world; non-physical beings constitute the invisible or spiritual world, i.e., the spirit-world.
  • The spirit-world is the normal, original, eternal world; it is pre-existent to and survives everything else.
  • The physical world is secondary. It could cease to exist, or even never have existed at all, and not affect the essence of the spirit-world.
  • Spirits temporarily assume a perishable physical body, the death of which restores them to liberty.
  • Among the different kinds of physical beings on Earth, God has chosen the human species for the incarnation of spirits who have arrived at a certain degree of development. This characteristic gives the human species a moral and intellectual superiority over other living species.
  • The soul is an incarnate spirit, the body its material envelope.
  • Human beings consist of the following: (1) a body, or physical being similar to that belonging to animals and animated by the same vital principle; (2) a soul, an immaterial spirit incarnated in the body; (3) an intermediate link which unites the soul and body.
  • Human beings have two natures: animal and spiritual. Through the body, humans participate in the nature of animals, with which they share instincts. Through the soul, they participate in the nature of the spirits.
  • A link, known as the perispirit (or spiritual body), unites the body and the spirit. It is a semi-material envelope, as opposed to the fully material envelope of the body. At death, the spirit sheds the physical body, the grosser of the two, but preserves the perispirit, the spiritual body. The perispirit constitutes an ethereal body that the spirit can render visible, or even tangible, as in the case of spirit-sightings.
  • A spirit is not, therefore, an abstract being, a concept of thought. Rather, it is a real and well-defined entity that, in certain situations, can be perceived by sight, hearing, and touch.
  • Spirits belong to different orders; they are not equals either in power, intelligence, knowledge, or moral excellence. Those in the highest order are distinguished by purity, knowledge, and love of goodness – they are often called “angels” or “pure spirits.” The others are relatively more distant from this perfection. Those in the lower orders are inclined to most of our human passions (hate, envy, jealousy, pride, etc.) and may still take pleasure in wrong-doing. Among them are those who are neither good nor very bad, but have frivolous, mischievous or irksome natures. These might be classed as giddy and foolish spirits.
  • Spirits do not belong perpetually to the same order. They are destined to attain perfection and, as they do so, progress up through the different orders. This advancement is achieved through incarnations, which are undertaken either as special missions or as trials leading to purification. Physical life is an experience spirits must undergo many times before reaching this goal. These lives can be understood as cleansing exercises from each of which spirits generally emerge in a more purified state.
  • On leaving the body, the soul returns to the spirit-world, where it exists as a free spirit (i.e., free from the limitations of the physical world) and where it will stay for an indeterminate time until it enters a new incarnation.
  • Spirits have many incarnations. From this we can conclude that we have all had many existences, and will have many others on Earth and elsewhere.
  • The incarnation of spirits only takes place in human beings. Spirits do not incarnate in animal form.
  • The chain of incarnations is always progressive. The spirit’s speed of progress depends on its efforts, but it cannot regress.
  • The qualities of the person are a reflection of the incarnate spirit’s. Consequently a good person is the incarnation of a good spirit, and a bad person of a less advanced one.
  • The soul possesses its individuality before incarnating and will preserve it after the death of the body.
  • On returning to the spirit-world, the spirit meets those it has known on Earth. In addition, it gradually recalls the actions, both good and harmful, of its former lives.
  • An incarnate spirit is under the influence of matter. Those who surmount this influence through inner transformation raise themselves nearer to the higher spheres. Those who give in to instinctual tenden cies and pursue solely the gratification of physical desires are closer to the inferior realm.
  • Incarnated spirits live on different worlds throughout the universe.
  • The ethics of the higher spirits may be summed up in the words of Christ: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” In brief, do good to all and wrong no one. This principle of action furnishes humanity with a rule of conduct that has universal application, from the most trivial to the most critical matters.
  • Enlightened intelligences teach that self-centeredness, pride, and exaggerated sensuality keep human beings engrossed in their animal natures. Accordingly, the person who detaches him or herself from worldly things and who practices “love thy neighbor” grows more spiritual. The spirits advise that we always serve others, as our means allow us, and that the strong and powerful owe assistance and protection to the weak. They caution that the person who misuses power to oppress fellow beings violates the laws of God. They also teach that in the spirit-world nothing can be hidden; that the hypocrite is unmasked and all wrong-doing revealed; that the unavoidable presence of those we have wronged on Earth is one of the trials we must face in the spirit-world; and that the moral state of spirits, depending on how advanced or un-advanced they are, gives rise in that world to enjoyments or suffering and regrets.
  • Further, they teach that there are no unpardonable faults and that there is no misdeed that cannot be redressed. Men and women find the means of redemption and progress through reincarnation. Their desire and effort set the pace of their advancement toward the ultimate aim of all – perfection.

    • Free (or discarnate) spirits do not occupy a circumscribed space. They are everywhere, and both perceive and regularly associate with human beings. They constitute an invisible but active society that constantly interacts with our own.
    • Spirits constantly exert an influence on both the physical and mental environments of the Earth. They constitute one of the powers of nature, since they can act equally upon matter and thought. They are the cause of many sorts of previously unexplained or misinterpreted phenomena, which now find a compelling rationale in the Spiritist Doctrine.
    • Spirits constantly interrelate with human beings. The good ones inspire people to take the high road, sustain them through trials, and instill in them courage and acceptance. The less advanced ones inculcate sordid ideas and depressing thoughts. They take pleasure in our troubles and strive to make us like themselves.
    • Spirit interactions with human beings can be either subtle or direct. The subtle communications happen without our awareness, generally in the form of inspiration. We need to exercise discernment, however, in distinguishing between the uplifting and the malevolent kinds. Direct exchanges occur through writing, speech, and other physical manifestations, usually with the intervention of a medium who acts as a link between the two worlds.
    • Spirits communicate either spontaneously or when called forth by those on the physical plane. Generally speaking, it is possible to evoke all free intelligences – from the most obscure to the most illustrious, from loved ones to enemies – regardless of the epoch in which they lived. If permitted, they may share information about their new situation, their thoughts regarding us, and any insights they feel like imparting.
    • Spirits move by laws of affinity. It is the similarity of values that attracts them to an assembly. Advanced spirits take pleasure in assemblies with serious purpose, wherein members are animated by love and a sincere desire to learn and progress. Their presence repels less advanced spirits. The latter, in turn, find themselves at ease among frivolous minds that come together solely out of curiosity or other harmful motives. In such assemblies nothing useful is produced. The spirits’ suggestions are trifling, ill-natured, and deceptive. To make matters worse, they often borrow venerated names to impose their ideas more effectively.
    • It is easy to distinguish between advanced and less advanced spirits. The language of higher spirits is dignified, high-minded, and free from every trace of human passion. Their counsels breathe wisdom. Their aim is always the advancement of humanity. On the other hand, remarks by less advanced spirits make use of commonplace, sometimes coarse, language and often contain substantial inconsistencies. Although they sometimes make true and worthwhile statements, their observations are usually ethically flawed and full of false arguments. They play upon the naiveté of their audience by feeding false hopes and swelling their listeners’ egos. Obviously, enlightening communications can only be obtained in assemblies of a serious character where participants are united in thought and desire by the pursuit of love and truth.
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