Friday, 2 September 2016

London Spiritist Group

I was invited to attend a Brazilian Spiritist group and I arrived at the venue at 7pm when coffee and refreshments were served. It was explained to me that this course in spirituality is very popular in Brazil and has been brought to the UK along with books that are used as their source material. These are five books codified by Allan Kardec. At 7.30pm, we entered a very pleasant room and gathered to enjoy some calm background music. Each member in turn read from a book of spiritual wisdom and was able to make comments and ask questions on the text. These books, written in question and answer format, provide spiritual knowledge. After this, there was a lecture by a Brazilian speaker on a matter relating to spiritual life. The lecture was delivered in Portugese and there was a translator standing by. This section of the meeting offers a different subject each week though all are based ethical living and how to live a moral life by contributing to our world by paying attention to relationships, communal considerations, green issues, etc. Then we were invited to receive spiritual healing by way of a prayer and small glass of water.

I was also invited to attend free day's training on the Spiritist Healing Method. Jesus is recognised as their role model. Spiritism does not practise hands-on healing but suggests that the healer channels spiritual fluids that are transmitted from the Universe to the seeker. Healers emphasise that they are required to pray regularly and to study recognised spiritual material, and avoid any behaviour which does not reflect an exemplary lifestyle. The group believe that ordinary people have the gift of healing, but this work requires preparation and self-sacrifice. They state that amongst the various requirements, a good healer has the ability to abstain from smoking, drinking alcohol and the taking of illegal drugs. If the healer is unwell, healing cannot be offered. Spiritist healers work together as a team and rarely as individuals. They only heal within the Centre during the regular meeting time and all new healers understudy with two experienced healers. When the healing workshop was completed, each trainee were asked to give a demonstration of the healing technique and then receive group feedback. All participants were satisfied with the study day.

Upon completion of the workshop, each participant was presented with a study pack which contains a bibliography of further reading of the subjects covered. I thought the day was useful and enjoyable. 

Who was Allen Kardec?
Allan Kardec was a French scholar who lived in the latter part of the nineteenth century. He was known in academic circles as Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail, but upon spirit recommendation, and on account of his previous incarnation as a Druid with the name Allan Kardec, it was decided that he should adopt this name for his spirit based work. Though not a medium, he was deeply interested in spirit communication and he coined the word “Spiritism”. He believed that spirits naturally communicate with people here in physical world and he was interested in gaining more information about spirit life. In order to do this, he requested a number of mediums and channellers ask “Spirits of Truth” to give answers to frequently asked questions relating to life in the material world and life in the spirit realms. Many thousands of questions were codified into books that are still popular reading and study material throughout the world and especially in Brazil, where schools and hospitals are supported and maintained by Spiritists. Of those spirits who contributed to this great body of knowledge were St. Augustine, St. Francis, St. Thomas Aquinas and Voltaire. Jesus is the role model for the movement. The Medium’s Book, The Spirit’s Book, the Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell and other books are still available. Many eminent mediums are respected by Kardecists, such as Sir William Crookes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Camille Flammarion. “It was Flammarion who said “Spiritism is not a religion but a science”. Other mediums whose work is deeply respected include Leon Denis, Chico Xavier and Waldo Vieira. Kardec was convinced there was a connection between science and spirituality, and he gave Spiritism scientific roots. Upon his tomb is written: To be, to live, to be reborn, and to keep progressing. That is the Law. 

These study groups hold workshops on spiritual enlightenment and courses for mediumship education (which cover aspects of spirit release and healing training). I recently attended a study group in London that takes place each Monday evening. When I arrived at the venue, coffee and refreshments were provided and then we entered a room and assembled in a circle to enjoy the calm background music. Each member in turn read from a book of the collected wisdom and we were all able to make comments or ask questions on the text. These books give a thorough and grounded knowledge in all things related to spiritual study and learning. After this, we attended a lecture by a visiting speaker on a matter relating to spirit life. This part of the meeting tends to be on a different subject each week. Anna Sinclair was the guest speaker on this special occasion. Her talk was inspired by the phrase: Spiritists! Love one another, that is the first precept; educate yourselves is the second" from chapter 6 of the Gospel According to Spiritism.

Anna said that she was interested in joining the AKSG in 1987 was because the teaching has such a rational approach to spirituality, and also because, unlike many faiths, Spiritists come together through study to learn more about spirituality by questioning and discussion. Spiritist doctrine appeals to the intellect and the more mature emotions. It also encourages members to aspire to the teachings of Jesus as to honour Him for His capacity to express love, forgiveness and understanding for others. Anna went on to say that St. Augustine would examine his conscience at the end of each day and we should also adopt a similar programme of spiritual growth. Anna described the innovative “reflective” model of learning that considers choices in our thinking and behavioural style and examines how we can learn to react differently. This ability to examine our impact on others can liberate us from repeated unconscious patterns and can create new spiritual behaviour and habits that lead to transformation. The latest understanding is for teachers to provide a suitable environment for learning, offering conditions for students to learn, yet the learning is totally dependent upon the student using the provisions pm offer and making the most of the opportunity to learn. We can do this by asking ourselves probing questions which demonstrate thoughtfulness and commitment to our chosen path, such as: “What does the doctrine mean to me” “How can I improve my spiritual life?” and “What can I do today to make a difference?” In addition, we can ask the spirits certain questions and analyse their replies, accepting what is most useful and meaningful for our life. Each of our incarnations has been planned and negotiated specifically for each family and society in which we live, so that our experience can help those with whom we come into contact. Each person has a valuable contribution to make in every community that they have chosen to live in.

To progress and become enlightened in our spiritual life we need to become more loving, peaceful and neighbourly, and this can be accomplished by prayer, self discipline and clarifying our life purpose. Those suffering in Spirit had the same problems as they had in life. In order to relieve our own suffering in the spirit world we need to eliminate our spiritual problems now. Society itself can be a depressing and aggressive environment where family values are undervalued and it is difficult for us to find our true focus. Pressure for the media and societal mores can oppose our own spiritual direction. In order to contribute and make our lives worthwhile we need to challenge and think for ourselves. We all want to be happy and bring happiness into our world or we can become caught in a downward spiral and struggle to lift ourselves up again. However, it is a privilege to be incarnated so we must do the best with our incarnation by becoming a better person in our family and societal environment. The Spiritist Doctrine demonstrates how we can do this. The AKSG offers spiritual training to each member and provides the opportunity to spread the word and has enable others to set up similar groups within the UK and abroad. Anna lastly thanked Janet, the group co-operators, and those in Spirit for the excellent work achieved since inauguration in 1983.  After this, we were each invited into an adjoining room to receive spiritual healing. At the end of the evening, I had a short time to chat to the founder of the study group, Janet Duncan, who has been organising these study meetings for 25 years.

Article by Wendy Stokes Wendy Stokes is the author of The Lightworkers Circle Guide - A Workbook for Spiritual Groups which explains how to facilitate a group for healing, divination and channelling. The royalties are donated to Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust which help to protect endangered species from extinction.

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