What is Spiritism?
Find below the main principles of the Spiritis Doctrine:
God is the Supreme Intelligence, first cause of all things. God is eternal, immutable, immaterial, unique, omnipotent, supremely just and good.
The Universe is God’s creation. It encompasses all rational and non rational beings, animate and inanimate, material and immaterial.
In addition to the corporeal world inhabited by incarnate Spirits, which are human beings, there exists the spiritual world, inhabited by discarnate Spirits.
The are other inhabited worlds in the Universe, with beings at different degrees of evolution; some less, some equal and others more evolved than human beings on Earth.
All the Laws of the Nature are Divine Laws because God is their author. They cover both the physical and moral laws.
A Human Being is a Spirit incarnated in a material body.
What connects the physical body to the Spirit is a semi-material body named perispirit.
Spirits are the intelligent beings of creation. They constitute the world of the Spirits, which pre-exists and outlives everything.
Spirits are created simple and ignorant. They evolve intellectually and morally, passing from a lower order to a higher one, until they attain perfection, when they will enjoy unalterable bliss.
Spirits preserve their individuality before, during, and after each incarnation.
Spirits reincarnate as many times as is necessary for their spiritual advancement.
Spirits are always progressing. In their multiple physical existences, they many sometimes become stationary but they never regress. The speed of their intellectual and moral progress depends on the efforts they make to attain perfection.
Spirits belong to different orders according to the degree of perfection they have attained: Pure Spirits, who have attained maximum perfection; Good Spirits, whose predominant desire is towards goodness; and Imperfect Spirits, characterized by their ignorance, their tendency towards evil, and by their inferior passions.
The Spirits’ relations with Human Beings are constant and have always existed. The Good Spirits attract us towards goodness, sustain us in life’s trials, and help us bear them with courage and resignation. The Imperfect Spirits induce us towards error.
Jesus is the Guide and Model for all Humankind. The Doctrine He taught and exemplified is the purest expression of God’s Law.
The morality of Christ, as contained in the Gospels, is the guide for the secure progress of all Human Beings. Its practice is the solution for all human problems and the objective to be attained by Humankind.
Humans Beings are given free-will to act, but they must answer for the consequences of their actions. Future life reserves for Human Beings penalties and pleasures according to the respect they do or do not show for God’s laws.
Prayer is an act of adoration for God. It is found in the natural law and is the result of an innate sentiment in every Human Being, just as the idea of the existence of the Creator is innate.
Prayer makes Human Beings better. Whoever prays with confidence grows stronger against bad tendencies, and God sends the Good Spirits to assist them. This assistance will never be denied when requested with sincerity.
History of Spiritism
The text below was written by Allan Kardec in the 1860s, giving his personal explanation of the circumstances that led him to write the Spiritist codification.
By the year 1848, several strange phenomena were gaining notoriety in the United States, consisting in noises, raps and movement of objects with no apparent cause. They would happen spontaneously, several times, with a characteristic intensity and frequency. However, it soon became clear that these phenomena could also occur through the presence of certain people whom were known as ”mediums”. These people could provoke the phenomena at will, making experiments possible. Such experiments were made using tables, not because these objects are more favorable than others, but because they were more convenient, movable, and because it was easier to sit around them than any other furniture. In this way the rotation of tables was achieved, and subsequently, movements in all directions: jumps, turns, fluctuations, violent strokes etc. These phenomena were originally called ‘table dancing’ or ‘table turning’.
Initially the facts could be perfectly explained by the action of an electric or magnetic current or unknown kind of fluid, and such was the first formed explanation. But within a short time, intelligent effects were recognized in them, such that the movement obeyed the will. The table could move to the right or to the left, toward some certain person, it could stand on one or two feet upon command, knock the ground a number of ordered times, knock regularly, etc. It was clear that the cause was not purely physical and, based upon the principle: ”To every effect a cause is associated, to every intelligent effect there is an intelligent cause”, an intelligence was appointed as the cause.
However, what was the nature of this intelligence? Such was the question. Initial impressions were that it could be the reflection of the medium’s intelligence or of his assistants. But experience soon disproved this, since responses totally alien to the thought and knowledge of the present people and even in opposition to their ideas, wills or desires were obtained. Therefore this intelligence could only belong to an invisible being. The way to ascertain this was quite simple: a discussion with such entity sufficed. A conventional number of knocks to signify a yes or no answer or to designate alphabetical letters was created and, in this way, several chosen questions obtained answers. This phenomenon was called `talking tables’. Interrogated in this way about their nature, all the beings declared themselves to be spirits and belong to an invisible world. As the phenomena were produced in different locations, through several different people and observed by serious and intelligent people, it was not possible they were an illusion.
From America the phenomena spread to France and the rest of Europe, where the talking and turning tables were the rage and became a means of entertainment in public halls. But when people began to tire of them, they turned their attention toward other things.
However, within a short time, the phenomenon presented itself under a new aspect that remove it from the domain of a simple curiosity. Due to space limitations all the phases can not be described herein, therefore we will proceed to the most renown aspect which attracted the most attention of serious people.
Before we proceed we must remark that the reality of the facts encountered many opponents. Some of them, without taking into account the integrity and impartiality of their investigators, would only consider the phenomena as a fraud or a clever subtlety. Those who did not admit to anything but matter, who did not believe in the invisible world, who thought that everything finds its end in the death of the body, the materialists, in one word, the so called strong spirits, they moved the existence of the invisible spirits to the field of absurd tales. They considered those who took the subject seriously as crazy, and treated them with sarcasms and mockeries. Others who could not deny the facts and under the influence of certain ideas, considered the phenomena an exclusive action of the devil, trying, therefore, to frighten the timid. However, today fear of the devil has lost its popularity. In fact the subject became so popular and was portrayed in so many ways that people got used to the idea, and many believed that this was the time to find out what it really was. Aside from a few timorous women, the communication of the true devil’s arrival was somewhat malicious for those who had seen it only in pictures or in the theater. For many it was a powerful impulse and they tried to rise barriers against the new ideas. By doing so they involuntarily initiated an opposite reaction, and so became the propagators of the ideas; the louder they cried the more efficient they were. Other critics were also unsuccessful since the facts, carefully verified by clear reasoning, provided only denials. When their publications are analyzed the testimony of the ignorance and the lack of serious observation of the facts are encountered everywhere. Nowhere can one find a positive demonstration of their impossibility. All of their argumentation are summed up by the claims: ”I do not believe, therefore, it does not exist. All those who believe are crazy. Only we have the privilege of reason and sound judgment.” The number of believers resulting from the serious or comical criticisms was immense, because only private opinions are found in them which are devoid of disproof. Let us continue with our exposition.
The communication through raps was rather slow and incomplete. It was discovered that, by attaching a pencil to a movable object (such as a basket, a small board or a similar item, on which the fingers could be placed), the object would begin to move and make signs. Later it was discovered that such objects were only dispensable accessories. Experience has shown that the spirit who acted upon a unanimated body could in the same way control the arms or the hands and lead the pencil. Writing mediums then appeared, that is, people who could write in an involuntary manner under the impulse of the spirits, being their interpreters and instruments. Thenceforth the communications had no limits, and the exchange of thoughts was as fast and easy as among the living. It was a vast field opened to exploration, the discovery of a new world: the world of the invisible, very much the same as the microscope has unveiled the world of the infinitely small.
Who are these spirits? What is their role in the Universe? What is their reason for communicating with the mortals? Such were the first questions demanding explanation. The spirits soon revealed that they were not apart from creation, but were instead the very souls of those who had lived on the earth or on other worlds. After having left their corporeal envelopes, they populate and fly through the space. There was no room for doubt when friends and relatives were recognized among them, furnishing proofs of their existence when interrogated. They came to demonstrate that death was only for their bodies, that their souls or spirits continue to live, that they are very near us, that they can see us very much like when they were alive. They kindly watch over those whom they loved and whose memories very much please them.
In general we make a completely false idea of the spirits. They are not abstract or vague beings as many would imagine. Also they are not a glaring radiance or a spark, but are rather very real, having their own individuality and definite form. We can have a approximate idea of them according to the following explanation:
There are three essential things in human beings: * The soul or the spirit, the intelligent principle where the thoughts, will and moral sense are found. * The body, the material envelope, weighty and rough. The body enables the spirit relate with the material world. * The perispirit, the light fluidic envelope, which is the intermediary bound between the spirit and the body.
When the exterior covering is threadbare and can no more work, the spirit get rid of it, like the fruit liberates itself from the shell or as one forsake a clothing which is no longer useful. That is what we call death.
Therefore, death is simply the destruction of the crude shell of the spirit; only the body dies, not the spirit. During life, the spirit is somewhat limited by the material links of matter to which it is bounded. These limits can many times neutralize its faculties, and the body’s death liberates it from such bounds setting it free (like the butterfly from its cocoon). But the spirit gives up only the material body, keeping the perispirit which is a kind of ethereal body, vaporous and very subtle to us. It has the human form which seems to be the standard one. In its normal state, the perispirit is invisible, but the spirit can make certain changes upon it so as to render it temporarily visible or able to be touched, similar to what happens to condensed vapor. In this manner, the spirits can sometimes appear to us during apparitions. By using the perispirit, the spirit can act upon matter and produce several phenomena of raps, movements, writing etc.
Raps and movements are a way for the spirits to testify their presence and to call our attention, like a person may do to make others notice oneself. Some of them do not limit themselves to make moderate noises, but instead produce a row of breaking dishes, of opening and closing doors or disordered furnitures.
Through knocks and combined movements they are able to express their thoughts, but writing, which they prefer, offers them the most complete, convenient and fastest way. As they can make marks, so they also can lead the hands to drawn, write music or play a piece in a musical instrument. In few words, because they lack physical bodies, they use a medium to manifest themselves to the human in a sensible way.
Spirits can also manifests themselves in several other ways, including through vision and audition. Certain people called hearing mediums, have the capacity to listen to spirits and they can, therefore, talk to them. Others, the seeing mediums can see them. Spirits which generally manifest themselves visually appear in the same way as when they were alive, although in a vaporous way. On other occasions, this form is so similar to a living being that it appears to be almost a complete delusion. They have sometimes been taken to be flesh and blood humans which people talked to and shook hands without even suspecting they were spirits, except for their later sudden disappearance.
The permanent and general capacity to see spirits is rare, but individual apparitions specially at the moment of death, are very common. The released spirit seems to hurry to see its relatives and friends again, as if it wished to show them that it has just left the earth but wants to tell them it is still alive.
By gathering individual recollection, many authentic but until then unnoticed facts can be considered as having happened not only at night during sleep, but during the day in the most complete state of wakefulness. In the past, these facts were considered as marvelous and supernatural and were placed in the domain of wizardry and witchcraft. Today, however, the incredulous attribute them to imagination and we, since the spiritist science has given us the key, know how to produce them and that they do not leave from the normal phenomenological order.
We also believe that the spirits, just because they are spirits, should not be understood to have supreme knowledge and wisdom; this is a mistaken understanding that experience did not delay to prove. Among the spirit communications, there are those which are rich in sublime profundity, eloquence, wisdom and morals and reflect only good and benevolence. Others, however, are extremely vulgar, futile, trivial and even rough. Through these messages the spirits reveal their most perverted instincts. It is clear that they can not come from the same source and that, if there are good spirits, there are also bad ones. Since the spirits are only the very souls of the human, they can not turn into perfect beings after leaving their bodies. They keep the imperfections of their corporeal lives until final improvement. Therefore, in their messages, we see all degrees of goodness and badness, of wisdom and ignorance.
The spirits are generally happy to communicate and are very satisfied to know that they were not forgotten. They gladly describe their impressions after leaving the earth, their new situation, the origin of their happiness and suffering in their new world. Some are happy, others are unhappy, suffering terrible torments according to the way in which they lived and the good or bad use they made of their lives. By watching them in all phases of their new lives, paying attention to the positions they occupied on earth, their types of death, their characters and behaviors as human beings, we can come to a sufficiently accurate, if not complete, knowledge of the invisible world. Such knowledge enables us the explanation of our future state and to foresee the happy or sad destiny that waits for us there.
The instructions given by high level spirit regarding every subject of interest to humankind and their answers regarding the proposed questions were carefully gathered and organized. Together they constitute a whole science, a moral and philosophical doctrine called Spiritism. Spiritism is, therefore, the doctrine founded upon the existence, manifestations and teachings of the spirits. This doctrine is fully exposed in The Spirits’ Book with regard to its philosophical aspect. Its practical and experimental aspect is contained in The Mediums’ Book, while the moral aspect is contained in The Gospel according to Spiritism. Through the analysis we make here, one can access the variety, extension and importance of the subjects covered by the doctrine.
As we have seen, Spiritism had its beginning in the common phenomena of the turning tables. But since facts speak more to the eyes than to the intellect, giving rise more to curiosity than to feelings, the interest in them disappears with curiosity in face of the lack of any sensible explanation. The situation changed when a theory came to explain cause, when it was realized that an entire moral doctrine sprang from those dancing tables with which so many had such a happy time for a short while. This doctrine speaks to the soul; it dissipates the distress of doubts and satisfies the desire for a complete explanation of the future of humankind that was previously left in the vacuum. Serious people received the new teachings as a helpful doctrine and, since then, instead of declining, it quickly spread. Within a few years it encountered support worldwide, especially among enlightened people. The number of supporters increases daily and one can say that today Spiritism has obtained its ”right of citizenship”. It is founded on bases which challenge the effort of its opponents who are more or less interested in its denial. The proof is that the attacks and criticisms could not delay its march for even a moment. Its opponents could never explain this simple fact. For the Spiritists, if it continues to propagate in spite of its criticism, it is because Spiritism is good and the way of its reasoning is better than of its opponents.
Spiritism, however, is not a modern discovery. The facts and principles upon which it is based were lost in the night of the times, since one can find its tracks in the beliefs of all people, in all religions and in the majority of sacred and profane writers. But such facts neither were properly considered nor their consequences completely deduced, they were instead interpreted according to the superstitious ideas of the ignorant.
In fact, Spiritism is founded on the existence of the spirits. As the spirits are only the souls of people and since there were always people, Spiritism could not have invented or created the spirits. If the souls or spirits can manifest themselves to the living, this is a natural fact that, therefore, has always been so since the beginning of time. Therefore in any place or time one can find proofs of such intense manifestations, especially in the Biblical texts
The logical explanation of the facts, the more complete knowledge of the spirit nature, of their role and way of action, the revelation of our future state and finally the gathering of these facts into a scientific and doctrinal body are, however, modern. The ancient knew its principles, while modern individual knows its details. In past times the study of these phenomena was a privilege within certain castes and were revealed only to their initiates. In the middle ages, those who ostensibly dealt with them were considered warlocks and were therefore burned at the stakes. But today, there is no longer any mystery, no one burns anyone, everything happens clearly and everyone is free to learn and practice Spiritism, since there are mediums everywhere
The very doctrine that the spirits teach today is not new. It can be found in fragments of the greatest philosophers from India, Egypt and Greece, and entirely in the teachings of Christ. What is then the goal of Spiritism? It came to give new testimonies, to point out, using facts, unknown or not well understood truths and to re-establish, in its true sense, misinterpreted ones.
Spiritism teaches nothing new, that is true. But is it not valuable to show, in an obvious and irrefutable way, the existence of the soul, its survival over body’s death, its immortality, its future punishments and rewards? How many believe in such things, but only with weak and hidden thoughts, silently wondering: ”And if it were not so?” How many people were brought to discredit because they were given a future which their minds could not rationally accept? Is it not admirable, then, if the weak believer could say: “Now I am sure!”, that the blind could see the light? By facts and logic Spiritism dissipates distressing doubts and brings back faith to those who had lost it. It unfolds the existence of the invisible world which is around us and in which we unsuspectingly live. Through the example of the dead, Spiritism shows us our happy or sad future condition. It explains the cause of earthly sufferings and shows us a way to soften them. Its propagation will have as an inevitable effect the destruction of materialist doctrines which can no longer resist to its evidence. Human beings, convinced of the greatness and importance of their future, eternal life, draw a parallel between it and the indefiniteness of the terrestrial life which is so short. By their thoughts they elevate themselves above ungenerous human values, and realize the cause and reason for their sufferings, which are thereupon viewed by them with meekness and endurance because they understand they are a way for their improvement. The example of those who come from the beyond to describe their joys and pains, demonstrating the reality of the future life shows, at the same time, that God’s justice leaves no wickedness without punishment and no virtue without reward. Finally, we also add that the communication of our dear departed ones brings us a sweet consolation, showing not only that they continue to live but also that they are less far from us than if they were in a foreign land.
Briefly stating, Spiritism softens the distress of life’s sadness, calms the despair and agitation of the soul, dissipates the uncertainties and fears of the future and eliminates suicidal feelings. At the same time it brings happiness to those who believe in it. This is the secret of its fast propagation.
From a religious point of view, Spiritism is based on the fundamental truths of every religion: God, the soul, immortality, future punishments and rewards. It is, however, independent of any particular cult. Its goal is to prove to those who negate soul’s existence that the soul survives after the body, that it suffers after death the consequences of the good or evil practiced during its corporeal life. Now then, this is common to any religion.
As a belief in the spirits, Spiritism is also not different from any religion or people, since in any place where there were humans there will always be souls or spirits. Its manifestations are natural to all times and descriptions can be found in all religions without exception. One can, therefore, be a Catholic or Protestant, a Greek or a Roman, a Jew or a Muslim and yet believe in the manifestations of the spirits and, consequently, be a Spiritist. The fact that Spiritism has adherents from all sects is proof of this.
In a moral sense, Spiritism is essentially Christian since it merely teaches the development and application of Christ’s teachings, which are the purest of all and whose superiority no one contests. This proves that such teachings are God’s law and that it is for everyone.
By being independent of any cult, Spiritism prescribes none of them. It preoccupies itself with no particular dogmas nor is it a religion since it has neither priests, pastors nor temples. It answers those who ask if it is of any good to follow such or such practice: If your conscience asks you to do it, do it and God always takes into account the intention. In essence: Spiritism imposes itself on no one, it is not intended for those who have a faith or whose faith is sufficient, but rather it is for the immense majority of unbelievers and insecure. Spiritism does not take these unbelievers and insecure out of the Church, as they are morally apart from it already. It makes them walk three fourths of the way; it is up to the Church to make them walk the rest.
It is true that Spiritism opposes certain beliefs such as eternal punishments, the material fire of hell, the devil’s personality, etc. However, is it not also true that such ideas, imposed as absolute truths, have always made and continue to make unbelievers? If, by giving a rational explanation for such dogmas, Spiritism brings back faith, is it not helping religion? As a venerable ecclesiastic said: ”Spiritism makes one believe in something. Now, is it not better to believe in something rather than absolutely nothing?”.
As the souls are the spirits, one can not deny the existence of the spirits without denying the souls. If one admits to the existence of souls or spirits, the question is then reduced to its purest expression: Can the souls of the dead communicate with the living? Spiritism proves the affirmative by material facts. What proof can be given to the contrary ? If it is so, all negations will not impede that it continues to be, since one deals with no system or theory but with nature’s law. Now then, humankind’s will is powerless before nature’s law and whether one wants to or not, its consequences must be accepted as well as human’s beliefs and habits adequate themselves to them.
Translated into English by A. L. Xavier Jr. and Carol de Macedo. Based on the essay “O Espiritismo em sua mais simples expressão” by A. Kardec, 2nd ed., FEESP (1989).
1- What is a medium?
A medium is anyone who possess the ability to perceive the spirit world in any way. Since such awareness is found in everyone, Spritism teaches that ‘we are all mediums’. Now, for the sake of clarity, when Spiritism talks about mediumship it refers to the person who’s awareness of the Spirit world has reached a level in which the person is conscious of the phenomena and in which direct, controlled spirit communication is at least a possibility. In all mediumship phenomena the medium is just the messenger for the communication and not the author.
2- How does this awareness occur?
The spirit world is a series of dimensions existing in different vibrations than that of our own material world. A medium, to put it very simply, is like a radio that can be in tune to different radio frequencies (dimensions) under particular circumstances. This particular type of awareness is like any other of our senses.
3- Why are some more in tune to the spirit world than others?
A person’s mediumship development is a natural part of a spirit’s evolution, occurring slowly during the long process of incarnation, death and reincarnation. So when an individual’s mediumship development has reached a certain level, during the person’s next incarnation the ability will show itself.
4- So being an active medium means I am more evolved than those who are not?
That very much depends on what you mean by ‘more evolved’. Certainly being an active medium means that in your long development of the ability, you have finally reached a certain point. But if by the phrase ‘more evolved’ you mean more ethically, morally or spiritually evolved, then the answer is no. A person’s mediumship development does not reflect their evolution in any other aspect of their being. Anyone, from the most ethical, to the most unethical individual can develop mediumship ability. You should see mediumship like any other ability, like a talent for sports, music or carpentry, any person can possess such gifts, but that in no way implies a high, or low level of ethical or spiritual growth.
5- If mediumship has nothing to do with a person’s spirit or ethical evolution, then why is the ability part of our overall evolution?
We all are in the process of developing mediumship abilities because it is a vital tool for learning and the expiation of past errors. Developing a greater awareness of God and of the rest of the universe is a perfectly reasonable and necessary step in the evolution of any intelligent being.
6- What do you mean when you say mediumship is a tool for learning?
Any tool or experience that is a part of our lives is a critical part of the learning process. Mediumship is a tool that we can use freely, and so how we use this ability will be a direct reflection of our ethical growth, and of the vital lessons we have yet to learn. Just like with any person in school, learning happens from understanding both the successes and the failures.
7- Are you saying that mediumship has a right and wrong way of using it, and that we learn from using it correctly and incorrectly too?
Exactly! The right way of using mediumship is based on the same reasonable standard as in making any other ethical choice.
You misuse mediumship when you use it to exploit others, to cause harm, for self indulgence, exploitation, abuse, manipulation and as a tool for violence.
And you use the tool correctly when you use it to help others, to bring enlightenment, and to give selflessly without any personal gain.
The way we use our mediumship and the consequences of these uses will make us directly aware of our virtues and our faults.
8- Did I understand right, did you just say that mediumship can not be used for any personal gain?
You can use your mediumship in whatever way you wish; we all have freedom of choice. But ideally, the ability does the most good when profit, greed and self-service do not interfere with the process of helping others.
Think about how destructive a profit motive can be for example for a charitable or religious organization, or for a government. In this same way the goal of personal gain will warp any attempt to use the ability to do only good.
9-This makes no sense, I have every right to make a living from all my abilities, how can it be wrong to make money from my mediumship?
As I said before you are free to take any path you wish in life. But just because you can do something does not mean that you should. This is a matter of ethical principle; you stand up for a principle and make the needed self-sacrifices, when you feel that the principle is worth that sacrifice.
It is important to understand something, when you choose to use your ability for unselfish good, because of the divine charity of God, you will find opportunities for making a living in other ways not related to your mediumship.
Of course, if your only real motives are wealth and power, then the fastest way to those goals will be using your mediumship for profit and exploitation. But it is also important to understand that every action has a consequence and that using mediumship for exploitation and personal gain will have equally negative consequences.
10- In question 5 you said that mediumship is also a tool for making amends for past errors, can you explain?
A vital part of our long-term ethical evolution is by making amends for past errors. Once we reach a point in our learning process in which we become aware that a particular action is wrong, the time then comes for us to make up for all the times in our past incarnations when we took that wrong course of action and harmed others.
How we can go about making amends for those past errors are many. Using a mediumship ability is certainly one of these ways.
A Mediumship gift is not easy; it is a life long commitment that will complicate ones lives in every way imaginable. So using this ability to unselfishly help others is all the more a merit and ethical act. Every time a medium helps someone unselfishly that medium is wiping away many past errors, confirming that the ethical lessons have been learned and taking immense leaps in their spiritual evolution.
11- So mediumship is a burden?
A mediumship gift is like any other difficult path in our lives. It has low moments but it also has great moments of joy, which quickly make the past difficulties worthwhile.
For a medium that chooses to use their gift unselfishly, the rewards are many. Helping others, and being a messenger through which enlightened spirits communicate brings a level of happiness and personal satisfaction that is beyond words.
12- So the way you use your mediumship has to do with the kind of spirits that communicate through you?
Of course! In life the way you conduct yourself and treat others will directly determine the kind of people that are attracted to you and the kind of people that are repulsed by you.
A medium who fights to live an ethical life in spite of the many temptations, will attract helpful and wise spirits who will assist and provide guidance in this chosen path. Just as mediums who use their gift to fulfill their material, selfish impulses will attract selfish, deceitful, impulsive spirits who will use the medium to do harm and do harm to the medium in the process.
13- Tell me about these helpful wise spirits that guide some mediums?
These mediums that have chosen a path of self-sacrifice and charity, will attract spirits who are also on this path of enlightenment. This does not mean that all the spirits attracted to this medium are perfect (very evolved). The spirit world, like the material world, is filled with individuals who are in different levels of evolution. But the point is that the intentions of the spirits attracted are positive ones.
Once a medium who has chosen this positive path, has been tested and has shown that he/she is willing to make this a life long journey, another kind of spirit will join the ‘good spirits’ already attracted to the medium. They are called spirit teachers; these spirits have reached a high level of ethical evolution and will come only when they see that the medium is both willing and able to carry out an important task. Spirit teachers use every opportunity to communicate God’s love and enlightenment to those of us on earth, and will from this point on teach and use the medium for this wonderful task.
This does not mean that the medium who is a messenger for spirit teachers is now more evolved than any other incarnated person. Again, mediumship does not reflect a person’s evolution, but if a medium is an instrument for more evolved spirits then it does reflect the devotion this medium has shown to doing good and to the steadiness of his/her own personal ethical growth.
14- Tell me about these selfish, hurtful spirits that use some mediums?
A medium who has chosen the path of impulse, personal gain and exploitation will attract spirits who share the same goals. And just like in material life, ‘there is no honor among thieves’, these destructive spirits will use the willing medium for these negative goals and at the same time bring great harm to the medium, just for the enjoyment that doing such harm will bring.
15- I’ve read that mediums have no control over the spirits that communicate through them, is this true?
In the previous questions I have explained how the mediums chosen way of life decide what kind of spirit is attracted to them, and that is clearly a tool of control available to any medium. But the medium also has full control every single time that they allow a spirit to communicate through them.
Let me clarify. A spirit tries to communicate and the medium has to decide to allow the communication or to not allow the communication.
– If the medium is attracted to spirits on the path to enlightenment, then the medium will instinctively recognize this type of spirit and allow it to communicate. Or recognize that this is not that kind of spirit and refuse to allow it to communicate.
– If the medium is attracted to spirits who are very ignorant, hurtful and destructive then the medium will decide to allow the communication with this kind of spirit. When a destructive spirit communicates through a sympathetic medium, the medium is forced to endure terrible physical traumas, sometime outwardly visible, and sometimes not outwardly noticeable. This trauma usually leads to short term memory loss. Just like someone who has been in a car accident, the medium who has allowed a destructive spirit to communicate awakens from the experience not recalling exactly what happened. This makes it easy to excuse what has just happened to ‘forces beyond their control’.
16- So mediums are always in control, but what about spirit possession?
Spirit possession is a myth, what happens is that an ignorant medium sometimes gives permission for a spirit to communicate for long periods of time (obsession). And the resulting chaos is misunderstood as a possession. But at no point is the medium invaded by a spirit, nor does the medium ever not have the ability to end the communication.
For all mediums, the kind of spirits they allow to communicate is determined by their own maturity, level of ethical growth and good decision-making skills.
17- Once a medium has allowed a spirit to communicate, is the medium responsible for what happens next?
Yes. At all times the medium is responsible for his/her actions (the kind of spirits he/she allows to communicate and for the consequences of his/her actions (the good or harm the spirit does through him/her).
To clarify, the spirit is certainly responsible for what he/she does through a medium, but the medium always bares equal responsibility for what happens. Both the medium and spirit are equally accomplices in whatever good and harm comes from the communication.
18- How can a medium tell the difference between a helpful and hurtful spirit when the time comes for a spirit to communicate?
This question require a detailed answer, the below is taken directly from “The Mediums’ Book”, Chapter X, ‘The Nature of Spirit Communications’.
” If we bear in mind the infinite variety that exists among Spirits, under the double aspect of intelligence and of morality, we perceive that a corresponding diversity must exist in their communications, which necessarily reflect the elevation or the backwardness of the Spirits by whom they are made; and that the quality of their ideas, their degree of knowledge or of ignorance, their virtues and their vices, will be evidenced by the communications which emanate from them, and which no more resemble each other than do, among men, those of the savage and the most enlightened European. But all the shades presented by Spirit-communications may be grouped into four principal categories; according to their most salient characteristics, they may be designated as coarse, frivolous, serious, and instructive.
Coarse communications are those which shock propriety. They can only proceed from Spirits at a very low stage of development, still soiled with the impurities of materiality. They are in no way different from the utterances of coarse and vicious men, and are revolting to every one who has the least delicacy of sentiment; being trivial, obscene, insolent, arrogant, malevolent, or even impious, according to the character of the Spirits who make them.
Frivolous communications emanate from Spirits who are frivolous, mischievous, and keen to trickery, rather than wicked, and who attach no importance to what they say. As there is nothing unseemly in their communications, they amuse persons who take pleasure in futile talk. Such Spirits, however, sometimes come down upon their interlocutors with clever, biting sallies, throwing off, in the midst of commonplace jokes, hard truths which often hit the mark. These frivolous Spirits are around us in swarms, and take every opportunity of mixing themselves up with the communications of other Spirits. Having no respect for veracity, they take a mischievous pleasure in hoaxing those who have the weakness or presumption to believe in them. Those who amuse themselves with such communications naturally give access to foolish and deceptive Spirits; while, at the same time, they repel serious ones, who, like serious men, avoid the society of the unreasoning and the giddy.
Serious communications are distinguished by the gravity of the subjects of which they treat, and by the seriousness of their tone. Every communication exempt from coarseness and frivolity, and having in view a useful object, even though it be of merely private interest, may be classed as ‘serious’, but nevertheless, it may not be exempt from error. Serious Spirits are not all equally enlightened; there are many things of which they are ignorant, and concerning which they may be mistaken. For this reason, Spirits who are really superior constantly advise us to submit all communications to the test of examination and reason.
It is therefore imperatively necessary to distinguish between communications that are seriously true and communications that are seriously false. This is not always easy, for it is often under the guise of seriousness that presumptuous and superficial Spirits seek to foist upon us their erroneous ideas and absurd theories, unscrupulously assuming the most honored and even the most venerated names, in order the more effectually to impose upon us, a method of deception which constitutes one of the most dangerous stumbling blocks of practical Spiritism…..
Instructive communications are those which are not only serious, but also convey the teachings of Superior Spirits on points of science, morality, philosophy, etc. They are more or less profound in proportion to the elevation and dematerialization of the communicating Spirit. In order to reap benefit from such communications, they must be followed up with regularity and perseverance. Serious Spirits attach themselves to those who desire instruction, and assist them, but those who see in these manifestations a source of passing amusement are left by them to the companionship of Spirits as frivolous as themselves. It is only by the regularity and frequency of such communications that we can appreciate the moral and intellectual worth of the Spirits with whom we thus hold conversation, and the degree of confidence which they deserve. If experience is necessary in order to form a true estimate of men, it is, if possible, still more necessary in forming a true estimate of Spirits.
In applying to these communications the qualification of instructive, we imply that they are true; for what is not true can never be instructive, though expressed in the most imposing language. We therefore do not include in this category certain teachings which have nothing serious about them but their high-flown and pretentious style by which Spirits possessed of more presumption than philosophy endeavor to mislead. But such Spirits, being unable to disguise their shallowness are incapable of keeping up their false assumptions for any length of time; they soon betray their weak side if we continue to converse with them and ply them with questions which compel them to show their incompetence. “
To paraphrase the biblical passage ‘ you know a tree by its fruit’. You will learn to recognize what kind of spirit that is trying to communicate with you by the ‘feeling’ you get from the spirit, the way the spirit communicates, the type of message the spirit wants to communicate and the willingness of the spirit to respect you and your free will.
19- What kind of preparations does a medium need to keep away the ignorant spirits and to use this gift for good?
Again, others have explained it better, below are exerts from: Eliseu Rigonatti books: Development of Mediumship, Qualities of a Good Medium, Mediumship Without Tears, and Studying Mediumship. Sao Paulo: Editora Pensamento Ltda
Seriousness in purpose and use of the mediumship: The serious mediums understand that their faculty has been given to them as a gift by which they can progress spiritually, through their assistance to those in need (both incarnate and discarnate) and in their cooperation in the dissemination of the instructive and inspiring messages. Therefore, they only use their faculties for good and useful ends. They do not exploit their brethren of the Spirit realm with requests for help in material matters or inferior spiritual desires, nor do they exercise their faculty to satisfy the curious and indifferent or for any other futile purpose.
Modesty / Humility: The Spirits teach us that pride is the most influential moral imperfection and continuously warn their students of its signs and consequences. In avoiding the downfalls caused by pride, the good medium remembers that he/she is only a simple instrument of others employed under Gods’ will and therefore does not assume any merit for the communications that he/she receives or for the healing energies that he/she helps bring to another. He/she also recognizes that he/she is not infallible and when duped by deceitful Spirits, he/she understands that this happened due to a fault in his/her character or some error in his/her conduct. The humble medium is willing to regularly practice self-criticism in order to recognize his/her own mistakes and avoid becoming unbalanced (through excessive enthusiasm, apathy toward results, or being at mercy of unenlightened Spirits who may plan for his failure). In addition to practicing self-criticism, the good medium is also open to constructive criticism from trust-worthy friends and mentors, and even seeks out advice and mentoring.
Continuous Vigilance: Like any Spiritist, the Spiritist medium can be recognized by his/her efforts toward inner reform. The good medium takes care to be vigilant of his/her thoughts and actions, recognizing the power they have to determine what kind of invisible beings accompany and influence him/her, and in the medium’s case, communicate through him/her. This medium seeks to develop the qualities that attract good spirits, such as kindness, good-will, love of the neighbor, and detachment from earthly things, while working to overcome any tendencies or momentary weakness in characteristics that repel good spirits, such as pride, vanity, selfishness, jealousy, hatred, greed, and attachment to the
Perseverance: A perseverant medium, understanding that the development and exercise of his/her faculty requires time and patience, will not become discouraged by the obstacles that arise or the time that it takes him/her to develop his/her mediumship in a proper way. If for some reason a medium’s faculty has been suspended, he/she will look inside him/herself for the cause and wait patiently for when he/she is allowed (by the spiritual authority that he/she respects) to resume his/her work.
Devotion: A devoted medium is willing to sacrifice his/her time, energy, habits, pleasures, etc. in benefit of others who suffer. He/she also recognizes that as a worker of God, and without discrediting any opportunity to serve and fulfill his/her responsibilities, his/her ideal is to serve, aid, and heal.
Discipline: A disciplined medium will take his responsibilities seriously and can be counted on for his/her punctuality and preparation for meetings, his/her vigilance and concentration in cooperation with the maintenance of harmonious vibrations during a session, and in his/her devotion to prayer and study.
Good Will and Benevolence: A medium with good will attends a meeting with happiness and satisfaction in the opportunity to work and puts forth full effort during the moments devoted to his/her development. Out of benevolence, this medium will serve everyone that he/she is able to help with the same compassion and good will.
Discretion: A medium who practices with discretion will use his/her faculty to help those in need without making them feel humiliated or shamed, and by keeping for him/herself (i.e. not blabbing about) those person’s situations, no matter how dramatic or interesting a story they’d make for conversation elsewhere.
Discernment: Discernment, acquired through study and attention to good Spirits’ advice, will help the medium to examine various situations and offer wise advice for a sound solution, and it will help in the critical analysis of Spirit communications that should be a regular practice of all mediums and participants of a mediumistic session.
Disinterestedness: Disinterestedness refers to a lack of material interest and is the virtue by which a medium gives for free what he receives for free. The disinterested medium exercises his/her faculty voluntarily for the sole purpose of helping others and seeks no material reward for his/her work. Likewise, he/she does not seek the praise or appreciation of humankind and humbly awaits his/her reward in the kingdom of Heaven.
20- Oh God! How can anyone expect me to become a saint to be a good medium?!?
Learning is a slow, life long process; the point is to strive for a tiny bit of progress every day. The above is the ideal, if we possessed the ability to fulfill such ideals perfectly, we would be with God and not on this earth with our fellow fallible brothers and sisters.
Live your life as best you can and every evening ask yourself, “Have I learned anything today?” “Have I done good today?” “What mistakes have I made today?” Be honest in answering those questions and let the answers be your guide for the next day.
Remember that when you strive to live an ethical life and do good, you are never alone. Spirit friends, teachers and of course God will open doors for you, help you endure the daily trials and become guides that will be with you every day of your life.
21- How does Spiritism fit into my ethical growth and my use of this mediumship gift?
The bases of Spiritism consists of 5 books of spirit teachings put to paper by the French educator Allan Kardec in the 1860s. These books contain detailed explanations for every spirit and mediumistic phenomena, the ethical laws God has established for our spiritual growth, the methodology of life’s daily trials, the different levels of spirit evolution, a rediscovery of the misunderstood ethical truths of the Christian new testament, details of how the universe and Spirits were created and what God has in store for all of us.
Within these 5 basic books, and the latter spiritist teachings you will find the needed instruction, clarification and inspiration for dealing with your gift and the obstacles, trials and temptations you will encounter in our daily life.
22- If I see/hear a spirit claiming to be a family member is it a good or bad spirit?
Just because the spirit looks like a family member does not mean it really is. As mediums we attract spirits with the same virtues and/or faults as our own, and spirits do have the ability to appear in different forms (faces). .
At the same time it is also important to remember that just because a family member has disencarnated, this does not mean that their relationship with you has ended. If that family member truly loved you it is reasonable that they would try to communicate with you and/or through you.
So when confronted by this dilemma, don’t concentrate on the possibility that the spirit is or is not a dead relative, instead the important thing is to judge the spirit based on the criteria needed to identify a good spirit or an ignorant spirit.
23- I have never seen spirits but I have heard them, when awake and asleep. Am I a medium?
Yes, any kind of communication between you and a spirit is mediumship. The particular kind of spirit communication allowed by your mediumship is particular to every individual like a fingerprint. It is not a reflection of greater or lesser mediumship ability or ethical progress.
24- When I was a child I could see spirits but now I can’t, why?
A medium during childhood actually possesses a much deeper connection between the material and spirit world. So it is common for children to experience mediumship phenomena. But as the child ages and reaches pre teen years the same hormonal changes that accompany young adulthood also limit mediumship in many individuals.
If your mediumship is developed enough for spirit communication in your adult years, the ability will show itself again. If it is not, you are not to blame, in your next existence the ability will have evolved enough to return during adulthood.
25- I was tormented as a child by cruel spirits, why? And who were they?
As I said in the last question, for children mediumship phenomena is common. Sometimes the child has developed the ability to block hurtful spirits at that early age, and sometimes it hasn’t. This is why it is important to take child mediums to Spiritist centers for help.
If you had to endure this torment, I feel for you. Consider the experience for what it was, a trial, and try to learn patience, endurance and forgiveness from it.
As to why a spirit would torment you, we are surrounded by spirits of different levels of evolution, and ignorant hurtful spirits enjoy causing harm when the opportunity arises.
26- What is my guardian angel? How can I recognize this angel when it communicates?
A guardian angel is the name sometimes given to your main spirit guide. When a spirit is created and first incarnates on earth, God assigns an evolved spirit to be the guide for the young spirit during its Earthly incarnations. As time passes, the reincarnating spirit develops relationships with other spirits through family bonds. The time can come when a family member who evolves more quickly can choose to take the place of the existing guardian angel.
As for recognizing your guardian angel, you will feel great affinity, and affection for this spirit who will appear to be with you more often than all other spirits you may see. And of course the guardian angel will show the necessary characteristics of an evolved spirit.
27- I don’t even believe in God, how is it that I am a medium?!?
To be a medium you can be of any religion, an atheist, any gender, social status, age, race or be from any country. Mediumship is just a tool, like a talent for music or dance, what you do with the gift is up to you.
Though, it might be wise to reconsider your disbelief in God, spirits and an after-life considering the fact that you can see spirits, the after-life and the consequences of God’s love and justice every day.
28- I can see and hear spirits, how do my 5 senses perceive the spirit communications?
Your 5 senses have nothing to do with your mediumship. Mediumship is its own distinct sense, disconnected from the other 5. You ‘perceive’ spirits with your mind, the information is processed by your brain and the brain interprets the communication as if it were coming from the eyes, ears or other sensory organs. But in fact See, Hear, Taste, Touch and Smell are not involved.
29- Can I die or be severely harmed during a spirit communication?
Yes, you could also die or be severally harmed by driving a car or walking down the street on any given day. Mediumship is a tool that requires great study and discipline by the medium. The medium is exposed to dangers when he/she chooses to arbitrarily allow communication with any spirit and refuses to choose the path of learning and personal ethical progress.
30- I want to be a medium, what do I need to do to learn?
Mediumship is an ability that develops naturally during many life times. It cannot be forced. Now if you have some mediumship ability and wish to improve those abilities, this is possible.
But it might be wise to ask yourself the nature of your intentions for developing your mediumship. If you want to do good with your mediumship, then your spirit guides and teachers will help with the development as they see fit. Trying to force the further development of a mediumship ability opens the doors to cruel, ignorant and hurtful spirits who will exploit your misguided intentions.
31- I am a medium, can I communicate with the spirits of people who are still alive?
Yes of course you can. Every time an incarnated person goes to sleep, their spirit leaves the body and performs needed tasks. It is very possible for a medium to communicate with the spirit of a sleeping, living person.
32- I communicated with the spirit of a famous celebrity, or saint; what does that mean?
Spirits have the ability to take any form (face) they wish. It is most important under these circumstances to judge the spirit on the criteria to determine if he/she is a good or ignorant spirit.
The spirit guides have told us that good spirits will never give their true name if they were famous or well known in a past life. Vanity is not the characteristic of a good spirit; on the contrary, a good spirit wants to be heard based on the merits of their message not on arbitrary things like fame or notoriety. So one should be extremely weary of the intentions of spirits claiming to be famous people.
That said, spirits who appear as saints are a possible exception. Many times good spirits will appear as saints to mediums who do not believe in spirits or the spirit world and are devoutly religious. They do this knowing that appearing in the form of a saint is the only way in which the medium will listen to their message. But again it is still critical to judge the spirit on the criteria to determine if he/she is a good or ignorant spirit
33- A spirit communicated a dire prediction of future events, should I listen?
The spirit teachers tell us that accurate predictions of the future are impossible for two reasons:
First: since any one possessing such knowledge would imply that this person has a quality only supposedly possessed by God.
Second: since this would imply that we do not truly possess the gift of freedom of choice from God.
What spiritism does clarify is that evolved Spirits who understand the details of divine laws, can look at a person’s life, motivations and past decisions and make an educated guess as to the consequences of such choices on a person’s future. But this is in no way foretelling the future, just like having a financial planner tell you the best way to retire at 40, will in no way be an assurance that this will happen.
Like with any other spirit communication the priority should be to judge the spirit on the criteria to determine if he/she is a good or ignorant spirit. If you judge the spirit to be good, then listen to the warning, try to avoid the danger, pray for God’s help during this trial and try to learn from the experience.
34- A spirit told me that someone else wants to hurt me, what should I do?
I’ll say it again, the first priority has to be to judge the spirit on the criteria to determine if he/she is a good or ignorant spirit. Then if you judge the spirit to be good intentioned then take action.
Now what you need to ask, is what the spirit teachers tell us is the most effective way to defend oneself from harm?
Violence brings only more violence in a cycle that will last for countless existences. So if you are forewarned that someone intends to harm you, your first reaction must never be anger or hate. Such emotions will only assure that the violence will take place. Instead we are taught that prayer is an effective tool of defense. Pray that God enlightens and pacifies the person who wants to harm you and that you will endure this trial safely.
35- A spirit told me that if I followed his instructions that I could get a material thing I really want, what should I do?
As I have said before, the first priority needs to be to judge the spirit on the criteria to determine if he/she is a good or ignorant spirit. Though in this circumstance, the spirit has already revealed his ignorant nature with his offer. A spirit who truly wants to help you will not offer you material gain; instead that spirit will offer you ethical guidance and uplift you with knowledge of the beauty of God’s love.
Now if the material thing you want is for example a job, and the instructions given by the spirit are positive ones like prayer and patience then this spirit is giving you good advice.
36- I am a medium and I do not want to be one any more, what do I do?
This is a very difficult question. Mediumship is a natural ability that has evolved in you through many existences. Ideally you could simply not use the ability and move on with your life. But the reality is that mediumship is a 6th sense that cannot be turned off. You can choose to ignore your mediumship and never develop it. But the problem is that by doing so you make yourself vulnerable to hurtful spirits who will exploit your unwillingness to develop the ability to control the spirit communication that is part of your mediumship.
I suggest much prayer, deep soul searching and study of the Spiritism. When you are ready find a Spiritist center near you and ask its leaders for help.
Myths & Misconceptions
Below is a list of explanations that help clarify many questions, doubts and misconceptions that surround Spiritism. If you have a question or about Spiritism that you feel should be on this page, feel free to contact us.
1- Is Spiritism part of the occult?
The dictionary defines Occult as meaning:
– Hidden and difficult to see; “an occult fracture”; – Having an import not apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence; beyond ordinary understanding; “mysterious symbols”; “the mystical style of Blake”; “occult lore”; “the secret learning of the ancients”.
It is true that in the past, and still today those who do not understand Spiritism claim that is part of the occult. This has always been untrue. By its very nature Spiritism works to clarify and explain both the spirit related phenomena, spitit evolution and the divine laws that govern the universe to anyone who wishes to learn. So in no way is it mysterious, hidden, beyond ordinary understanding, or counter intuitive.
2- Is Spiritism pagan?
The dictionary defines Paganism as:
– Not acknowledging the God of Christianity and Judaism and Islam.
This is an ironic question since the very first answer given by the spirit teachers as part of the Spiritist Codification defines and acknowledges the existence of one true God. Spiritism also goes on to acknowledges the inherent truths found not just in the three major western religions, but the sparks of truth found in all religions.
3- Is Spiritism anti-Jesus?
To be ‘anti’ something is defined as:
– A person who is opposed to something, such as a group, policy, proposal, or practice.
This is definitely not the way Spiritism sees Jesus. On the contrary Jesus is seen as a superior spirit, who incarnated and was the greatest of all our teachers. A person who’s sacrifice to be again reborn , tortured and then killed by those he wanted to enlighten, is seen as one of the most profound acts of love in human history.
4- Spiritism is about telling the future?
On the subjects of fortune telling and/or predictions Spiritism is very clear that such things are impossible. For two reasons: first since anyone possessing such knowledge would imply that this person has a quality only supposedly possessed by God. And second: since this would imply that we do not truly possess the gift of freedom of choice from God.
What spiritism does clarify is that evolved Spirits who understand the details of divine laws, can look at a persons life, motivations and past decisions and make an educated guess as to the consequences of such choices on a person’s future. But this is in no way foretelling the future, just like having a financial planner tell you the best way to retire at 40, will in no way be an assurance that this will happen.
It is also important to note that even if an evolved Spirit can make an educated guess on the future events of a certain person, this Spirits’ ability to communicate this possible occurrence is limited by the Law of Cause and Effect. If part of an incarnated person’s trial is to have to endure this future event without any forewarning then the Spirit will not be allowed to communicate the warning.
5- Is Spiritism a religion?
Religion is defined as:
– A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship. – The life or condition of a person in a religious order. – A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
This question was answered best when Kardec said:
“Spiritism is a philosophical doctrine with religion effects, as is any spiritualist philosophy, because it inevitably reaches to the roots of all religions: God, soul, and future life. But it is not a constituted religion, since it has no services, no rituals, no temples, and no one among its adherents received the title of priest or high priest.” — Posthumous Works – Allan Kardec
6- Is Spiritism about demon/spirit worship?
Part of the mistaken belief that Spiritism is a pagan religion and occult related has led to the belief that Spiritism is demon worship.
Spiritism clearly explains that a ‘demon’ is just a fellow person, now discarnated, who has become trapped in the cycle of violence, cruelty, ignorance and hate. In no way would such a person be worshiped. Instead such individuals must be prayed for, so God will help inspire them to seek the path of progress.
As for the related claim that Spiritist worship spirits. Again, Spiritism teaches us that there is only one God, and that spirits are just our fellow persons who are discarnated. Under such realizations, why would a Spiritist worship a fellow spirit?
7- Is Spiritism just another pseudoreligious scam?
Spiritism teaches that a Spiritist must NEVER profit from charity or dissemination of the teachings. A true Spiritist has an unrelated paying job/profession and does their Spiritist related work for its own sake, not for personal gain.
“Freely ye have received, freely give. St Matthew, 10. 8″
Spiritism, as said in question 4, is not a religion implied or otherwise. As for its validity, there are millions of Spiritists all over the world. Nonetheless, accepting the teachings of Spiritism is a very personal choice.
8- Is Spiritism all about ghosts?
Spiritism does explain what ‘ghosts’ and related spirit manifestations really are, their causes and effects. But its focus is not about ‘ghost’ or Spirits. It reveals the truth about God, the immortal spirit, reincarnation, divine laws, reasons for suffering, life’s trials and the steps we must all take to evolve and reach our true potential. The subjects of Spirits and mediumship are a small part of a much larger group of teachings.
9-Spiritism teaches that all religions are false?
As we started to explain in question number 2, Spiritism teaches us that all religions are valid. Each one is a distinct path to God, possessing many of the great truths that God has revealed to humanity through many missionaries (prophets) in our history.
Spiritists believe that the wisdom and knowledge revealed to us in the codification is just a further detailed clarification of the truths God revealed to the religious prophets of the past.
10- Spiritists charge fees for card readings, good luck charms and other services?
No, as said before in question 7, a Spiritist can never profit from charity or dissemination of the Spirit teachings. Sadly nothing stops an unethical individual from using the title ‘spiritist’ to make money. God has given us all free will, and the ability to take whatever path we wish to take. Though eventually we must all face the consequences of our choices.
11- Spiritist are a branch of ‘santerisimo’, worshiping the dead?
“Santeria” is defined as:
An African-based religion similar to voodoo, originating in Cuba and Brazil, which combines the worship of traditional Yoruban deities with the worship of Roman Catholic saints.
Spiritism does not teach the worship of ancestors, ghosts, spirits or anyone other than God (as explained in question 6). Because many native religions worship ‘spirits’ or dead ancestors, to whom they attribute great powers, some have made the mistaken conclusion that Spiritism is somehow related to santerismo. It is in no way related.
It is important to note that Spiritism explains why the animal sacrifices common in ‘santeria’ and other religious groups are not just misguided and unethical, but also have the opposite effect intended.
12- Is Spiritism dangerous?
Spiritism is knowledge from the spirit teachers. And knowledge is not inherently dangerous.
Living a way of life based on these Spirit teachings (as explained in question 5) will help bring about great ethical progress and many rewards in the afterlife, certainly there is nothing dangerous about this.
What is dangerous is ignorance. Ignorance in the form of those who do not study spiritism to gain wisdom, but to try and use it as a tool for personal gain. Under such circumstances any knowledge can be dangerous. One should not blame the tool for acts of misuse; but rather those who have willingly misused the tool.
13- Is Spiritism about spirit possessions and exorcisms?
Spiritism explains that spirit possession is a misnomer. That in fact there is no such occurrence, what happens is that an ignorant person chooses to succumb to what is always an outsider’s influence. As for an exorcism, that is a Catholic religious ritual in no way related to Spiritism. Again, as explained in question 8, the focus of Spiritism is not ghosts or spirits.
14- Isn’t the science in Spiritism just a lot of pseudoscientific nonsense?
The first spirit teachings were revealed to the scientist and educator Allan Kardec in the 1850s-60s. Yet far from being nonsense, its revelations about nature continue to be slowly proven by modern science. Concepts such as multi dimensions, evolution, plurality of worlds and electromagnetic waves are just a few of the ones first revealed in Spiritism and confirmed by human science.
Since Allan Kardec, thousands of books of Spirit teachings have been written on every scientific subject imaginable. In Brazil and many other countries the conclusions of the scientific knowledge presented by the Spirit teachers has been recognized and validated. In the USA the now common use of past life regressions, and the use of alternative, faith related healing methods all have their origins in Spirit teachings.
15- Didn’t Jesus say that talking to spirits is wrong?
Jesus never speaks for or against communicating with spirits. It is true that the old testament (the prophets) certainly forbid communicating with spirits.
To understand why it was forbidden, a few things about life at that time, and the nature of Spirit communication needs to be understood:
People of that time were extremely ignorant,lacking even the most basic understanding of God or morality. So the prophets had to use a policy of total fear and control in order to force people to start to give up their destructive, selfish ways. This ignorance was so great that even after the 10 commandments were recognized as law, it still took Jesus being reborn on earth, his torture and death, to begin to clarify in these people an understanding of God.
It was this need for absolute control that forced the prophets to forbid comunicating with Spirits, in order for no other outside forces to interfear with the teachings from God they intended their people to learn.
You are probably wondering why some Spirits would dare contradict God’s teachings.
Spiritism gives us a clear answer:
Spirits are nothing more than disincarnated people in diffrent states of evolution. So ignorant people in life, remain ignorant after death since the process of learning and evolving is a very slow one. Those spirits who have evolved and achieved purity are the ones God sends as guides (angels) and as teachers. The problem is that these extremely ignorant people totally lacked the ability to make such distinctions.
In order for a medium, back then, or today to be able to communicate with wise, loving, teacher spirits he/she must be a strong, ethical and well disciplined individual.
The Spiritist teachings of the 1860s were the first time when a clear and concise guide to train a medium and make such distinctions was ever made available. So it is perfectly reasonable that communicating with spirits be forbidden until such instructions were in place, and people possesed the ability to understand them.
Once again, as we said in question 8, Spiritism is not all about mediums and communicating with spirits, but it does include the guide we mentioned above.
16- Are all Spiritist mediums?
According to the teachings received by Allan Kardec from the Spirits, everyone is a medium. The difference is that some people have what is called ostensive mediumship. But, having said that, being a Spiritist and a medium are two separate concepts. A Spiritist is a person who believes certain ideas , lives a certain way, and understands God’s divine laws (as explained in previous questions). A Spiritist certainly does not need to be a medium to be a Spiritist.
Mediumship is just the ability to communicate with spirits. Any person ignorant or good can have this gift. A person of any religion, social class, gender or nationality can be born with this ability. Mediumship will not automatically make them a Spiritist. Just as being a Spiritist will not automatically make anyone a medium.
What is also important to remember is that what a person does with this gift, like anything else in their lives, is a matter of free will.
17- A medium could be talking to demons, right?
Again, there are no such things as demons, only spirits of different levels of evolution (as explained in question 6). What kind of spirits a medium talks to or ignores, is based on the same common sense principles as in any conversation in ordinary life.
A good person meets someone on the street and through conversation can judge if the person they are talking to is also a good person, or a selfish destructive person. The good person can then choose to listen and follow or ignore and not follow this person based on that judgment.
While an ignorant person meets someone on the street and through unreasoned impulse (an ignorant person lives by their impulses) may feel affinity to this person because they both share the same ignorance
or may feel repulsed by this person because the person is more ethical and challenges a self centered way of life. The ignorant person then chooses to befriend the equally ignorant person and ignore the good person.
18- Spiritism allows mediums to do what they want?
Spiritism provides, among its many other teachings, an explanation as to why a certain kind of spirit chooses a certain kind of medium. And it explains the divine laws that govern these communications. As for the conduct of a medium who is a Spiritist, if he or she ignores divine law and chooses to live a selfish destructive life then that person is only a Spiritist in name.
To help clarify the spirit teachings on this subject, below is the reasonable standard for the two types of medium spirit relationships: A medium who is a good person, who lives an ethical life and strives to always be a better person talks to a spirit and quickly judges the spirits true intentions: realizes if the intentions are good or ignorant and then chooses to continue the communication or end the communication.
A medium who is undisciplined, selfish, cruel and destructive talks to a spirit but lacks the wisdom to make distinctions based on ethical principles. Instead this ignorant medium follows only unreasoned, self-centered impulses and will feel comfortable only around spirits who are equally undisciplined, selfish, cruel and destructive. Because of this affinity the medium will embrace and follow what ever this ignorant spirit tells them. And by contrast when a good spirit comes along and tries to communicate with this medium, the medium will feel no affinity, be repulsed and ignore the good spirit’s messages.
In Mark 7 verses 17,18 and 20 Jesus gives us all a clear guide to making good judgments about people or spirits.
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
19- In spiritism isn’t the spirit in control of the medium?
No, this is not true. As explained in a previous question spirit possession is a myth. At no point is the outside force (the spirit) forcibly taking control of the medium.
Of course many mediums who have been tools of destructive, cruel and hurtful Spirits claim that they are unwilling victims of these unethical spirits. But here is where the spirit teachings explain why this is untrue.
The spirits attracted to a medium directly reflect that person’s ethical evolution, and their mediumistic training. So an evolved medium will attract more evolved spirits while an ignorant medium will attract ignorant, destructive spirits. Once the spirit is attracted and wants to communicate through the medium, only the medium possesses the final choice to permit the comunication. What happens is that for ignorant and untrained mediums, there is no willingness to choose which spirits to allow communication with and which not to. Since their ignorance attracts equally ignorant spirits, they are the ones that will end up being channeled. As for the claims of mediums being unwilling victims, part of the claim is denial, and the other is biological. An untrained medium many times does not recall the events just before, and during a spirit communication, so they claim a lack of control over the situation. Even though this is untrue.
All mediums need to understand that they will be held responsible for any and all results of a sproitit communication. This is why medium training and the ethical growth of the medium is so critical.
20- If Spiritists do not follow a religion why do they believe in reincarnation like Buddists?
Reincarnation is defined as:
1. Rebirth of the soul in another body.
2. A reappearance or revitalization in another form; a new embodiment:
3 : Embodiment in a new form (specially the reappearance of a person in another form);
4 – In the Hindu or Buddhist doctrine that person may be reborn successively into one of five classes of living beings (god or human or animal or hungry ghost or denizen of hell) depending on the person’s own actions
Spiritism does not define reincarnation in the Hindu or Buddist way. The Spirit teachers revealed that when God creates a spirit it is simple and ignorant. God’s plan is for the spirit (all of us) to evolve intellectually and ethically, passing from a lower order to a higher one, until we attain perfection, and become God’s workers.
God in his infinite charity gives a Spirit all the time the individual needs to go through this long process of evolution. So a Spirit incarnates on Earth, learns a lifetime worth of lessons through trials, discarnates , then reincarnates and the cycle continues over and over again. In each reincarnation the spirit learns (or at least tries to learn) new lessons based on the new point of view and circumstances provided by that new human incarnation. This cycle continues until the Spirit has learned all the lessons needed on Earth in order to progress to a higher level of evolution.
21- Spiritists have to be wrong, because the bible says their is no reincarnation, doesn’t it?
Actually a belief in reincarnation was prevalent in the Jewish culture of the Old Testament and during the time of Jesus. It became part of early Christian thought championed by the great Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria, but was eventually labeled hearsay in the Concile of Constantinople in the year 553 AC
Many examples in the Old Testament still remain that hint toward the Jewish belief in reincarnation. Such as Genesis 28:12 Jacob’s Ladder, Job 14:7-9 , Psalm 16:10,11, Psalm 51:10,12, Isaiah 25:8, Isaiah 26:19 and Jeremiah 18:1,6.
But the most direct reference to reincarnation still present in the bible is found in the New Testament and relates to the prophesy of Elijah/Elias:
Jewish Old Testament prophecy foretold that the return of the prophet Elijah/Elias would precede the birth of the Messiah (Jesus)
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet,
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children
and the heart of the children to the fathers…
And so in the New Testament it talks about how John the Baptist was ‘the return’ of Elias.
Mat 11:14 And if ye will receive [it], this is Elias, which was for to come.
Mat 16:14 And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.
Mar 9:13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
Luke 9:8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.
How could any society that rejected reincarnation believe that the long ago dead Elias had returned within the body of John the Baptist? And if this ‘return’ was untrue, why does the claim come from the mouth of Jesus himself?
The conflict between the church and idea of reincarnation that Spiritist , people of biblical times, and Jesus himself held to be true exists because the concept is contrary to the very basic Christian idea of an instant salvation.
Salvation according to Christian dogma came in the form of Jesus’ death on the cross. This supreme sacrifice of the Son of God freed humanity from the original sin and gave us the path to deliver us from the sins of daily life. For this reason Christians must follow church dogma so they will receive this salvation and not be trapped in purgatory, or condemned to Hell itself.
In the eyes of the church if a person can be reborn again and again then the process of salvation is a slow one and in the hands of the individual, not the church. This is why the concept was outlawed in the Concil of Constantinople in the year 553 AC.
22- Spiritism is unchristian?
As explained in question 16, Spiritism and Christianity are at a difficult impasse on the reincarnation issue, though Spiritism recognizes the validity and holds great respect for all religions. As for the claim that it is ‘unchristian’, this is not true.
The dictionary defines the term ‘Christian’ as:
1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.
The spirit teachers tell us that indeed Jesus was the savior described in Old Testament prophecies. They also tell us that we need to follow the teachings of Jesus as basics for an ethical way of life. So to say that Spiritist are unchristian is false.
Of course the Spirit teachers do not agree with the literal definitions and interpretations that Christian religions have given to the life and teachings of Jesus. The Spiritist book called ‘The Gospel According to Spiritism’ explains in detail the historical context of Jesus’ words and actions and in that way helps clarify what kind of life and ethical path Jesus wanted us to take in our lives. It is ironic that back in the 1860s the spirit teachers were enlightening us about biblical history and context, and that is has taken biblical archeologists more than 100 years to start coming to the same realizations about Jesus, his life and teachings.
23- Is Spiritism a kind of cult to Spirits?
As said before in question 6, Spiritists do not worship spirits or anyone other than God. As for a cult:
Cults can go by any name, and claim any beliefs; their purpose is to dominate their members for the ego and profit of the groups’ leaders.
Spiritism is in no way for personal economic gain, for the domination or manipulation of anyone. It is in no way a cult. In fact the spirit teachers say that no one should ever be pressured, forced or unduly influenced to learn or embrace Spiritism. Spiritists share their knowledge only with those who wish to know more, and anyone studying Spiritism has the right to walk away if they feel they no longer wish to continue these studies.
24- Spiritism is supposed to be a science, is it like Christian Science, Scientology or Intelligent design?
Christian science is:
1: Protestant denomination founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866 [syn: Christian Science, Church of Christ Scientist]
2: religious system based on teachings of Mary Baker Eddy emphasizing spiritual healing [syn: Christian Science]
Intelligent design is:
a theory that nature and complex biological structures were designed by intelligent beings and were not created by chance; abbr. ID Example: Intelligent design refers to the theory that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life in all its diversity
A belief system developed by L. Ron Hubbard, based on a person being an immortal spiritual being whose survival depends on him/herself and his/her attainment of brotherhood with others and the universe
Spiritism is not a church nor a religion as stated in answer number 9, nor is it any way related to Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science. Even though Spiritism is based on the reality of the immortality of the soul, but other than that, Spiritism has no connection to the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.
As for Intelligent Design , as much as it sounds scientific, this theory is actually an offshoot of Christian creationism, again completely unrelated to Spiritism.
As for the first part of the question yes, Spiritism does have a scientific aspect.
25- Isn’t Spiritism’s claims of being a science, a religion and a philosophy just a lot of nonsense?
The teachings of Spiritism have three basic aspects: Science, Religion and Philosophy.
The knowledge of a religious nature (not a religion but having religious implications) includes the information about Jesus, his teachings and ethical way of life.
The knowledge of a philosophical nature includes the vast information about the afterlife, the immortality of the spirit, the existence of God, divine laws, the origins of Humankind and the universe.
The knowledge of a scientific nature includes explanations of the many categories of Spirit related phenomena, reincarnation, mediumship, and the influences the true spirit nature of man has on all the formal sciences such as biology, physics, psychology, and chemistry etc.
26- Spiritism, is it like spiritualism?
The belief that the dead communicate with the living, as through a medium.
Certainly Spiritism believes in the existence and communication with Spirits. But a spiritualist only believes in that mediumistic phenomena. Spiritism is the acceptance of a vast amount of Spirit teachings in which mediumship is only one small part. People who are uninformed commonly confuse the terms spiritualist and spiritist, and their definitions. :
27- Is Spiritisim a kind of atheism?
No, one of the fundamental teachings of Spiritism is the understanding that one true God does exist and that God is the Supreme Intelligence of the Universe.
28- Do Spiritists define God in the same way as Christians, Jews, and/or Muslims do?
No. Spiritism respects, recognizes the validity of, but does not share the definition given to God by the major western religions.
Spiritist defines God as a divine, perfect being who is the principle cause of all things. To Spiritism God has no recognizable human shape, nor does he favor certain groups, nor does he curse or punish those who sin and do not follow ‘his’ ways.
Spiritism sees God as a merciful loving creator who sees all the intelligent beings (us) of his creation as equal. In his infinite wisdom and charity God gives us the time (life times) we need to evolve and achieve our fullest potential. Certainly God established divine laws and reasonable consequences when those laws are not followed, but these are not curses or punishments, but tools for learning from our mistakes.
This process of birth and rebirth, of learning and making mistakes and having to endure the consequences, is part of the path to the amazing gifts that come with our evolution. At no place in this long, difficult and personal journey of evolution does God forsake or condemn us, no matter how many times we stumble and fall. Instead God provides each one of us with spirit guides (angels) to help us again find our way, the opportunity to atone for those past errors and yet another chance to continue on our path of evolution.
Surely this truly wise, all loving God was the one Jesus called Father and carried in his heart!
29- Spiritism isn’t a religion, then why do they have churches?
Spiritism has no churches, rituals, priests or dogmas. Many people with good but misguided intentions who are spiritualist, or are ‘santeristas’ create churches they call Spiritist. Sadly some less than honest individuals who are looking to exploit mediumistic phenomena for profit also create churches they call Spiritist.
30- If Spiritists don’t have churches then what is SGNY and other such groups?
What Spiritists who want to teach and expand their charitable work are encouraged to do, by the spirit teachers, is to form non-profit centers for study and charitable work. And we mean legal, government recognized non-profit groups.
31- Spiritism talks about laws, are these like the laws of nature?
Yes, but Spiritism reveals that the Laws of Nature cover both laws of physics and ethical laws. These divine moral and physical laws are those that govern our existences and the rest of the universe. Here are a very brief summery of each:
Law of free will/of Liberty: There is no fate. From the moment of our creation we are free to take whatever paths we wish to take. We can learn and evolve at our own pace and deal with the consequences of our mistakes as we see fit. When it is time for us to reincarnate we even choose our next existence and the trials that we will learn from in that existence. Even the nature of our death and length of our lives are in our hands.
Law of Cause and effect: We all possess the gift of free will, but eventually the consequences of past choices push us into situations that correspond directly to those choices. These effects are not punishments, but tools for learning which is fundamental to our evolution.
So the trials, lessons, and progress of every reincarnation are the effects of all our past decisions. After every reincarnation a person’s spirit guide shows them all the major decisions of that existence. Emphasizing the intention behind the action, the consequences of these actions and how these actions affected others. Once a person has faced the very best and worst of themselves they choose how the consequences of these actions will play out in their next existence.
Law of Affinity:
To put it simply, it says that ignorant people will be attracted to other ignorant people, and wise/good people will be naturally attracted to equally good people. When an ignorant medium tries to communicate with spirits, equally ignorant spirits will be attracted o him. While when a good person tries to communicate with Spirits, good spirits will be attracted to him or her and communicate.
Law of Worship
From the moment our spirit is created, even before our first earthly incarnation, we all instinctively possess an understanding of the existence of God. We innately realize God exists, that this is our creator and that we possess the tool to communicate with this creator, the tool of prayer. This is the actual cause for divine worship found in all human cultures no matter how diverse and isolated.
Law of Work
Labor of some sort is required to fulfill all tasks. In the material world labor (physical and intellectual) is required for everything from self-preservation to the maintaining of societies. In the spiritual world labor is requiered for all personal fulfillments, fulfillment of assigned tasks, and for the helping of others. All labor, both in the spiritual and material worlds has one overall purpose, learning. Through work comes learning and evolution, without work, we would all remain children in an intellectual capacity and there would be no progress.
It is important to note that labor like anything else, must not be abused through extremes such as exploitation or self abuse. There is no progress when any tool, like labor, is used for destructive intentions.
Law of Reproduction
Simply put, for all beings to continue to exist and evolve in the material world reproduction in some form is a necessity. As for humans, reproduction is a necessity in order for spirits to continue to have opportunities for incanation and reincarnation.
Law of Preservation
The natural will to live is essential for the continued existence of all species in the material world. Without life, there would be no opportunities for learning and evolution. Of course, the more an intelligent being evolves, the more rational thought and the less instinct is involved in the methods and limits of self-preservation. Certainly self-sacrifice is a form of charity, but the intent and reasoning behind the act determines if it is truly an act of charity or a self-destructive act.
Law of Destruction
All things in the material world, everything from a human body to the worlds in our solar system will eventually end. The elements within them of course will simply change from one form to another. This change is a necessity because from it comes renewal. On a smaller scale on earth there is constant birth death and rebirth, materially speaking. Fire and natural calamities bring much destruction but eventually it brings about renewal. For intelligent beings like us, destruction is just another tool for learning. As our bodies decay we endure and learn from these changes and the mutation they bring. For human societies, destruction and rebuilding means grouth and new opportunities for the society to take more positive paths to meet its goals.
Now the forms of destruction caused by war and murder are not seen as part of the law of destruction. Life is sacred, and the intentional taking of a life is always a violation of divine law. And as such has clear and rational consequences in order for those involved to learn from such errors in judgment.
Law of Society/Social Law
The forming of societies is natural to human beings, it is necessary for intellectual and ethical progress.
And in order for human societies to function and thrive they must have laws. Of course the ethical evolution of a society is clearly seen by the way their laws protect, give equal rights, and serve the societies citizens. The more ignorant and corrupt the society is, the more its laws reflect the self-centered destructive nature of those in control.
Law of Progress
Progress is vital to the evolution of a society. Which means that the scientific discoveries that change our society daily, are actually a vital part of God’s plan for all of us. Of course the ethical evolution of a society is also a critical part of this progress. So when scientific discoveries are applied in a society void of solid ethical principles, these tools become instruments of harm instead of the instruments of learning they were intended to be used for.
As for the individual the Law of Progress means that a person is always learning and evolving. A person can get caught up in obsessions and destructive behavior but they can never forget those lessons that have truly been learned or loose the evolution gained from such learning.
A Comment About The Last Two Laws
The whole purpose behind human society and progress being a vital part of God’s plan for us is that this combination of circumstances creates an environment of learning critical for our development of reasoning skills. And the more we can reason, the better we can use this critical tool for our continued spirit evolution.
Law of Equality
We are all always equal in the eyes of our creator, God. Every spirit that will ever incarnate and/or reincarnate on earth is governed by the same divine laws and on the same path of evolution as the rest of us. The belief in the superiority of one group over another is a violation of God’s law. And the negation of the basic truth that we are all brothers and sisters.
The reality of reincarnation also completely obliterates the idea of inequality. As part of our evolution we will be reincarnated countless times and in countless bodies of all races, religions, genders, social statuses and states of health.
As for the idea of superiority or inferiority of a person based on the level of evolution of their Spirit, this too is an illusion. All spirits who incarnate/reincarnate on an earthly world are basically on the same level of evolution. Once that basic level of evolution has been achieved, the spirit no longer needs to reincarnate in a human form. It is also important to realize that those who cling to the idea of superiority and inferiority are not those who are searching for the path to their own ethical and intellectual evolution.
Law of Justice
At the moment of the creation of our Spirit, like the knowledge of the existence of God, we also all possess the instinctive knowledge of what is right and wrong (a conscience). Because of our ignorance, we lack an understanding of the consequences of our actions and impulsively choose the path of less resistance, that selfish unethical path.
Law of Charity
‘Without charity there is no salvation’, so said the spirit teachers. The greatest instrument for purgeing ourselves of past errors and progressing morally is through charity, benevolence for every one and indulgence. It is only when one is showing charity to others that one is putting into practice the lessons learned and meriting the blessings that come with progress. Law of love
Love is the basis of all of God’s laws and gifts God has given us. It is the driving force for all progress and the constant state of being for all superior spirits. It is the antitheses for the materialist, instinct driven view of the universe man in his ignorance lives by. Unselfish love was the message Jesus brought to humanity and died on the cross to make sure the lesson was never forgotten.
32- This is all somewhat confusing, can a person make a distinction between a Spiritist center and one of these other places using the name ‘spiritist’?
When you go to a Spiritist center (or one calling itself Spiritist) use good sense. If they want to sell you services, charms or holy water, if they use rituals, have priests or ministers, and/or are associating themselves with santerismo, then they are not spiritst centers. That’s why it is important to educate yourself about Spiritism so you can make the distinction between Spiritist organizations and those who use the label Spiritist but represent completely different ideas.
Through these organizations you can find a list of US and international Spiritist groups.