Spiritualism in the Evolution of Philosophy  by Ernest Thompson


Chapter IV

In many countries, and particularly among the Latin races of the world, the philosophy arising from the facts of psychical phenomena, is divided between two conceptions of what course man’s evolutionary development takes after his transition to the world of spirit. The majority outside of the English speaking nations, follow the ideas which Allan Kardec developed, the dominating principle of which is that the human spirit must reincarnate again into this earthly life for further spiritual progress, whilst the minority adhere to the principle that it is in the Spirit world where further spiritual development is achieved, and that this is only possible in the more refined spheres of spirit life. Whilst Spiritualists are divided upon this important principle, both sections uphold the truth of survival after death and communication with spirits. Only in Theosophy, which is also based on Reincarnation, are the basic facts of mediumship denied and indeed ridiculed. For this reason both Spiritualists and Spiritists have been able to unite in world federation to uphold and propagate the basic truths of survival after death and communication with spirits.

How Spiritism Originated

Allan Kardec (1804-1869), whose real name was M Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail, investigated the claims of Spiritualism in 1850, at a time when the news of the Hydesville rappings was beginning to excite the attention of Europeans. He investigated the subject through the mediumship of two daughters of a friend. In the spirit messages which ensued he was informed that “spirits of a much higher order than those who habitually communicated through the two young mediums, came expressly for him, and would continue to do so, in order to enable him to fulfil an important religious mission.” His means of communication with these spirits were the planchette and rappings, so he decided that the best way to compile the teachings to be given was to draw up a series of questions relating to the problems of life and put them to the communicating intelligence’s. Upon the replies he received to his questions he founded his system of Spiritism. After two years he made the following statement: “The instructions thus transmitted constitute an entirely new theory of human life, duty and destiny that appears to me to be perfectly rational and coherent, admirably lucid and consoling, and intensely interesting.” He published these teachings in The Spirits’ Book, which appeared in 1856 and this was eventually adopted by the Spiritist Movement as their textbook of spiritual philosophy. In 1864 he published The Mediums’ Book which is a guide to mediumship.

The Spiritist Philosophy

In the introduction to the Spirits’ Book Kardec sums up his philosophy in the following words: “Spirits having to pass through many incarnations, it follows that we have all had many existences, and that we shall have others, more or less perfect, either upon this earth or in other worlds. The incarnation of spirits always taken place in the human race; it would be an error to suppose that the soul or spirit could be incarnated in the body of an animal. A Spirit’s successive corporeal existences are always progressive, and never retrograde; but the rapidity of our progress depends on the efforts we make to arrive at perfection. The qualities of the soul are those of the spirit incarnated in us; thus, a good man is the incarnation of a


Spiritualism in the Evolution of Philosophy

- 43 -

good spirit, and a bad man is that of an unpurified spirit. The soul possessed its own individuality before its incarnation; it preserves that individuality after its separation from the body. On its re-entrance into the spirit world, the soul again finds there all those whom it has known upon the earth, and all its former existences eventually come back to its memory, with the remembrance of all the good and of all the evil which it has done in them. The incarnated spirit is under the influence of matter; the man who surmounts this influence, through the elevation and purification of his soul raises himself near to the superior spirits, among whom he will one day be classed.

He who allows himself to be ruled by bad passions, and places all his delight in the satisfaction of his gross animal appetites brings himself nearer to the impure spirits, by giving preponderance to his animal nature. Incarnated spirits inhabit the different globes of the universe.”

To the question, “What is the aim of the incarnation of spirits?” Kardec received the following reply. “It is a necessity imposed on them by God, as the means of attaining perfection. For some of them it is an expiation; for others, a mission. In order to attain perfection, it is necessary for them to undergo all the vicissitudes of corporeal existence. It is the experience acquired by expiation that constitutes its usefulness. Incarnation has also another aim, viz., that of fitting the spirit to perform his share in the work of creation; for which purpose he is made to assume a corporeal apparatus in harmony with the material state of each world into which he is sent, and by means of which he is enabled to accomplish the special work, in connection with that world, which has been appointed to him by the divine ordering. He is thus made to contribute his quota towards the general weal, while achieving his own advancement.”

The principle of Reincarnation had not been included in the principles adopted by the Spiritualists’ Movement because there is no scientific proof to support the doctrine, and was therefore wisely omitted from a philosophy which enjoyed the strength and security of foundations laid upon scientifically proved facts. It is difficult enough to propagate the philosophy of Spiritualism to a materialistic world, even with the demonstrable proofs provided by mediumship, but to include a theory which cannot be demonstrated would be to seriously weaken the whole case. It is not surprising therefore that the British and American movements, which do not include reincarnation in their professed principles, are the strongest and most virile organisations.

Psychological Influences of Preconceived Ideas

Swedenborg, Davis, Tuttle, Peebles, Britten, Moses, Owen, Evans, Findlay and several other great Spiritualist writers were unable to accept this theory. William Howitt, one of the pioneers of British Spiritualism, thought that “the thing strikes at the root of all faith in the revelations of Spiritualism. If reincarnation be true, pitiable and repellent as it is there must have been millions of spirits who on entering the other world, have sought in vain their kindred children and friends... Has even a whisper of such woe ever reached us from the thousands and tens of thousands of communicating spirits? Never.” The Hon. Alexander Aksakof, who was contemporaneous with Kardec, wrote, “That the propagation of this doctrine by Kardec was a matter of strong predilection is clear; from the beginning reincarnation has not been presented as an object of study, but as a dogma. To sustain it he has always had recourse to writing mediums, who, it is well-known, pass so easily under the psychological influence of preconceived ideas; and Spiritism has engendered such in


Ernest Thompson MSNU

- 44 -

profusion; whereas through physical mediums the communications are not only more objective, but always contrary to the doctrine of reincarnation. Kardec adopted the plan of always disparaging this kind of mediumship alleging as a pretext its moral inferiority. Thus the experimental method is altogether unknown in Spiritism.”



The scientific marvels and industrial enterprises of the nineteenth century had many remarkable effects upon society. Transport and communications linked up the East and the West in such a way that customs, diet and apparel became more and more international. Manufactured goods travelled east and raw materials travelled west. Trade was also a means whereby ideas, philosophies and religions were spread and propagated. Christian missionaries travel led to India and China, and Eastern religious beliefs returned’ by the same trade routes. The seeds of Oriental doctrines took root in many Western minds, which had already been cleared of the weeds of orthodox creeds, now withered under the purifying flames of scientific Rationalism. One of these seed carriers of Eastern doctrines was Madame Blavatsky who had been brought up in a home life saturated with superstition and fantasy as the story of her life reveals. Between the ages of seventeen and twenty-seven she “led a wild, wandering life for ten years all over the world in search of mysteries.” She found them in the colourful, esoteric and abstruse teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., and embodied them in her system of Theosophy.


The two most fundamental concepts in Theosophy are “Karma” and “Reincarnation.”

“Karma,” in the first place, rejects the idea of God, who Blavatsky regards in her Key to Theosophy, as a “gigantic shadow of man, and not of man at his best either. The God of Theology, we say - and prove it - is a bundle of contradictions and a logical impossibility.” Nineteenth century Rationalism had already refuted the idea of God so that the way was open to many people for the acceptance of “karma,” which Blavatsky describes as ‘unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being.” In her Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky writes, “Those who believe in karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving, thread by thread, around himself, as a spider does his cobweb, and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man... The only decree of karma - an eternal and immutable decree - is absolute harmony in the world of matter as it is in the world of spirit. It is not, therefore, karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that harmony depends, or - break them.”

Karma Creates Nothing

The Secret Doctrine then proceeds to state that “the law of karma is inextricably interwoven with that of reincarnation... It is only this doctrine that can explain to us the mysterious problem of good and evil, and reconcile man to the terrible and apparent injustice of life. Nothing but such certainty can quiet our revolted sense of justice. For, when one unacquainted with the noble doctrine looks around him and observes the inequalities of birth


Spiritualism in the Evolution of Philosophy

- 45 -

and fortune, of intellect and capacities; when one sees honour paid to fools and profligates, on whom fortune has heaped her favours by mere privilege of birth, and their nearest neighbour, with all his intellect and noble virtues - far more deserving in every way - perishing for want and for lack of sympathy - when one sees all this and has to turn away, helpless to relieve the undeserved suffering, one’s ears ringing and heart aching with the cries of pain around him - that blessed knowledge of karma alone prevents him from cursing life and men as well as their supposed Creator... This law, whether, conscious or unconscious, predestines nothing and no one. It exists from and in eternity truly for it is eternity itself; and as such, since no act can be coequal with eternity, it cannot be said to act, for it is action itself. It is not the wave which drowns the man, but’ the personal action of the wretch who goes deliberately and places himself under the impersonal action of the laws that govern the ocean’s motion. Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plants and creates causes, and karmic law adjusts the effects, which adjustment is not an act but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, bike a bough, which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigour.”

From the foregoing it would appear that whilst “karma” directs a spirit into a given body, for the purposes of compensation and retribution, and thus determines its existence, a spirit can apparently act outside of “karma,’’ and even create causes, and is therefore independent of “karma” in its actions according to the philosophy of Theosophy.

Spirit Return

What has Theosophy to say about the return of our spirit friends and relatives as proved by the psychical phenomena of Spiritualism? Let us refer once more to the writing of the founder, Madame Blavatsky, for our authority. Key to Theosophy she states, “if by ‘Spiritualism’ you mean the explanation which Spiritualists give of some abnormal phenomena, then decidedly we do not. They maintain that these manifestations are all produced by the ‘spirits’ of departed mortals, generally their relatives, who return to earth, they say, to communicate with those they have loved or to whom they are attached. We deny this point blank.”

“Spiritualism is a word of manifold and wide significance. I really do not know what Spiritualists mean by the term; but what we understand them to claim is that the physical phenomena are produced by the reincarnating ego, the Spiritual and immortal ‘individuality.’ And this hypothesis we entirely reject.” She writes rather vehemently (on page 149), that she would “rather accept the ‘New Jerusalem’ with its streets paved like the show windows of a jeweller’s shop, than find consolation in the heartless doctrine of the Spiritualists. The ideal alone that the intellectual conscious souls of one’s father, mother, daughter, or brother find their bliss in a ‘Summerland’ - only a little more natural, but just as ridiculous as the ‘New Jerusalem’ in its description, would be enough to make one lose every respect for one’s ‘departed ones’. To believe that a pure spirit can feel happy while doomed to witness the sins, mistakes, treachery, and above all, the sufferings of those from whom it is severed by death and whom it loves best, without being able to help them, would be a maddening thought.”

According to Theosophy, Karma functions principally through the process of reincarnation in the development and progress of our spiritual natures. Annie Besant, Blavatsky’s greatest disciple and interpreter, explains in her book lectures on Theosophy, that in order to achieve spiritual progress a spirit must be reborn over and over again in a long series of reincarnations. After each life on earth the spirit returns to the Spirit World to assimilate its


Ernest Thompson MSNU

- 46 -

experiences, “and only when the experiences of one life are assimilated does he return to earth for another life, in order to gain more... He passes away to the other side of death to learn, by the lessons of pain, the errors which he has made, and by the lessons of enjoyment, the right thoughts and feelings he has had, and during the later part of that post-mortem life he assimilate what he gathered on earth.” There is however no memory of former incarnations whilst on earth; they are only revealed in heaven. Reincarnation, Mrs Besant explains, is necessary from the standpoint of logic, science and morality.

Logical, Scientific and Mortal

Her Logical reason is that we return to earth because, “if all our best and wisest and noblest are taken away into worlds where there is no opportunity to use the wisdom they have garnered, into worlds where wisdom is useless, because every one is irretrievably saved or damned, then the whole of human life becomes irrational, and the whole of human experience is thrown on the rubbish heap of nature.” Scientifically reincarnation is sound, she asserts, because Darwin’s theory of evolution, which was based on the transmission of qualities from parent to offspring, was “not the view of the scientist of today; he now tells us that parents do not transmit their mental and moral qualities to their offspring; on the contrary, he says that the higher the intellectual qualifications, the lower the reproductive power.”

Since Mrs Besant’s day however the science of genetics has proved that mental characteristics are also transmitted from parent to child at birth. She argues however that as parents are young when babies are born, mature experience cannot be transmitted. She overlooks the enormous influence of elementary education which has taken place before marriage. School life, for many people, constitutes a most important phase in their mental development. In this period much of the fundamental knowledge of civilisation is assimilated.

Morally reincarnation is sound, she continues, because the criminal is merely the reincarnation of “a young, not yet unfolded spirit, a savage; the other, (the genius) is a spirit aged in experience; both are the results of their own past, self-created from within.”

Fixed Number of Egos

Several questions arise from this philosophy. Is there a definite number of spirits or egos, and if so how does reincarnation account for the steady increase in population throughout the history of man? “The answer,” she states ‘its a very simple one: those who are in incarnation at any one time form a very small minority of the egos who are tied to the wheel of births and deaths.” The population ‘might increase’ very much in the number of egos present at any given time, without increase in the total number of spirits. Those who are out of incarnation remain longer away from earth as they evolve, as mankind progresses, for the higher types of men reincarnate more slowly than the lower... One may point out however, that there is no reliable proof that the population of the globe is increasing; look back, for example, to the invasion of Greece by Xerxes and notice the immense army that was gathered together then, and you will see that though the census was not taken in those days, there are proofs enough that the world was thickly populated!”

Destiny Determined by Karma

Apparently according to Mrs Besant, on page 77, a spirit can will himself to reincarnate into a particular body for a specific purpose. On another page however she states that human destiny


Spiritualism in the Evolution of Philosophy

- 47 -

is determined by the law of karma, as for example in the case of the death of a newly born bade. “Such an ego had become indebted to the law by causing the death of some one, but without malice, without intention, killing by some passing carelessness or folly. “In regard to this case she states “I am speaking here from facts which we have looked back and seen. But in such cases”, she continues, “for the most part, it is the karma of the parents which is the chief cause of such a birth, and an ego is chosen for their child who owes such a debt as I have mentioned, in order that their heavier karma may be worked out. It is the parents’ karma which plays the larger part in the cases of children who die soon after birth.”

Animals and Human Egos

In regard to the evolution of nations this “is brought about by more and more highly developed egos being born into that nation thus lifting it up step by step to a higher level; for they themselves are the nation... And when a nation has reached its highest point, so that the physical type has reached its limit, can go no further, but most change in order to advance, then comes the time for its decay.” When the type becomes “too low for the incoming egos; the human race has outgrown it; and when there are no longer any souls so little developed as to inhabit these bodies, the women cease to bear children, the type diminishes and gradually dim out. That is what causes the stoppage of the influx from the animal kingdom. There is now a gulf between the lowest human and the highest animal stage. The human types have perished with which nature originally bridged the gulf, and so egos rising out of the animal kingdom can find no bodies low enough for their use. They must therefore remain at rest, until, in another world, types are born sufficiently simple and low for their indwelling.”

Between Reincarnations

There is the whole question of people being born in deformed and crippled bodies. “That is the result,” Mrs Besant claims, “of cruelties inflicted upon others, paid for by deformities in another birth. What then is the period spent between reincarnations? In the long heavenly life - lasting sometimes for thousands of years - the whole of the time is spent with the people you loved upon the earth, and when you come back you tend to come back in groups, together with those you loved before. There is nothing more striking, in tracing a series of lives, than to see how husbands and wives, relations and friends, come back together. If for other reasons they have been born on opposite sides of the world even, they will be drawn together as friends and lovers, if they had love for each other in the past.’

Remembering Past Incarnations

To the question, why do people fail to remember their past births, Mrs Besant answers that the new physical brain is to blame. “The brain is new. How should the brain that was not in the past life remember the events of the past life? Your desire-body is new; how should it remember the desires felt and satisfied in its predecessor? Your mind is new; how should it remember past thoughts? It is only you, you yourself, the living immortal ego, who can remember because he has passed through all the experiences, and he forgets nothing.” From this it would appear that the physical brain and the memory are regarded as synonymous by Theosophy. It appears however that the memories of the past can be recovered by meditation (page 96). Generally speaking, “karma” is the law which forces spirits to reincarnate for the purpose of compensation and retribution, eg, for correcting the evil man by making him suffer for his past deeds. If however Mrs Besant’s early contention is true, that it is possible for a man to choose his own reincarnation, it makes it difficult to believe that an evil man would


Ernest Thompson MSNU

- 48 -

prefer a painful existence, that is if the operation of this law of “karma” is universal, and true. STAINTON MOSES TEACHINGS OF THE SPIRIT WORLD

It was natural, when means of communication were well established between the Spirit world and our own, through mediumship, that important information was soon forthcoming concerning the life after death. This knowledge has a profound philosophical content, confirming some, and denying other conceptions associated with current religious beliefs. This was to be expected, as all religions were based upon the principle of survival at their original. Now the chief requirement for the transmission of philosophical thought from the Spirit world is a medium with an intelligent brain, so that the ideas can be psychologically reflected with a reasonable degree of accuracy. In 1870, such an intelligent, mediumistic person, William Stainton Moses, MA (Oxon.) (1839-92) a Church of England clergyman, began to take an interest in Spiritualism and unfolded his psychic powers. He thus presented the spirit people with an opportunity they had been waiting for. Among his various mediumistic faculties they decided to use his susceptibility to being controlled by them when writing. Soon they began to give, through his hand, the higher teachings of the Spirit world. These however were in direct opposition to the orthodox faiths and creeds, which Stainton Moses had held, and at first he resisted and opposed the new ideas. This was rather good evidence of the existence of another mind controlling his personality, quite apart from the fact that he often used to occupy his mind with reading and other interests whilst his hand was recording the messages, in order to test the reality of the controlling entity.

Eternal Progress

His most famous book, Spirit Teachings, is not only a treasure of Spiritualist philosophy, but also a long drawn out argument between Moses and his spirit guide, Imperator, in which, by sheer opposition of contradictions, the fundamental differences between the Spiritualist and Orthodox outlooks are most sharply drawn. In the beginning Imperator made it clear that “that which seems contradictory is not the Word of God, but in the mind of man. Man was not content with the simple message. He has adulterated it with his glosses, overlaid it with his deductions and speculations... but it is necessary to destroy man’s rubbish before God’s truth can be revealed.” Then he commenced to lay the foundations. “As the soul lives in the earth life, so does it go to spirit life. Its tastes, its predilections, its habits, its antipathies they are with it still”. To the question “is life eternal?” Imperator answered “Yes; we have every reason to believe so... The soul that gains most is the soul that keeps ever before it the work that has been allotted to it, which has laboured zealously for its own improvement and the benefit of its fellows, which has loved and served God, and has followed the guidance of its guardians. This is the soul, which has least to unlearn, and which progresses rapidly. This is the one desire of spirit. More Progress! More Knowledge! More Love! Till the dross is purged away, and the soul soars higher and yet higher towards the Supreme.”

Violation of law

With regard to the earth plane Imperator claimed that our “earth is the highest of seven spheres; that there are, succeeding the earth life, seven spheres of active work, and succeeding these, seven spheres of divine contemplation. But each sphere has many states.” In the spheres below the earth, “the slopes of Avernus are dotted with spirits hurrying to their


Spiritualism in the Evolution of Philosophy

- 49 -

destruction, sinking with mad haste to ruin. Each is a centre of a knot of malignant spirits, who find their joy in wrecking souls and dragging them down to their own miserable level. In these spheres they must remain, subject to the attempted influence of missionary spirits, until the desire for progress is renewed. When the desire rises, the spirit makes its first step... They that will not seek for anything that is good, that wallow in impurity and vice, sink lower and lower, until they lose conscious identity, and become practically extinct, so far as personal existence is concerned; so at least we believe. This is the sin unto death of which Jesus told his followers; the sin against the Holy Spirit of God of which you are told. It is the sin of exalting the animal to the extinction of the spiritual... The unhealthy passions prey on themselves; and the voice of the spirit is heard no more. Down must the soul sink, down and yet down, further nd further, until it is lost in fathomless obscurity... Punishment is ever the immediate consequence of sin; it is of its essence, not arbitrarily meted out, but the inevitable result of the violation of law.” Remorse, loathing for sin, and a desire for good is the way out. “The spiritual atmosphere is changed, and into it good angels enter readily and aid the striving soul. Slowly the results of former sin are purged away and the soul begins to progress.”

Marriage Ties

In regard to marriage ties Imperator wrote, “All things with us are subordinated in the education of the spirit, which is perpetually being developed. There can be no community of interest save between congenial souls. Consequently no tie can be perpetuated which is not a help to progress... All souls that are mutually helpful remain in loving intercourse so long as it is profitable for them. When the period arrives at which it is more profitable for them to separate, they go their way without sorrow, for they can still commune and share each other’s interests.” The reverse of such law would only perpetuate misery, and eternally bar progress, but “spirits filled with mutual love can never be really separated. You are hampered in understanding our state by considerations of time and space. You cannot understand how souls can be far apart, as you count space, and yet be, as you would say, intimately united. We know no time, no space. We could not obtain really close union with any spirit unless the intelligence be absolutely on the same mental and progressive plane. Indeed, any such union would be impossible for us. Soul may be linked with soul in bonds of affection, without any intimate connection such as we mean by being on the same plane of development. Love units spirits at whatever distance.”


Then Imperator began to touch on religion, emphasising the difference between reason and faith. “Religion, to be worthy the name, must have its two sides - the one pointing to God, the other to man. What has the received faith, which is called orthodox by its professors, to say on these points; and wherein do we differ in our message; and how far is such difference on our part in accord with reason? For, at the very outset, we claim, as the only court to which we can as yet appeal, the reason which is implanted in man.” Blind faith can be no substitute for reasoning trust. What has the Spirit world to say about God? “In place of an angry, jealous tyrant it reveals a loving father who is not loving in name alone, but in very deed and truth; into whose dealings naught but love can enter; who is just and good and full of affection to the lowest of His creatures. It does not recognise any need of propitiation towards this God. It rejects as false any notion of this divine being vindictively punishing a transgressor, or requiring a various sacrifice for sin. No such anthropomorphism finds any place in our creed. God, as we know Him in the operation of His laws is perfect, pure, loving and holy, incapable of cruelty, tyranny, and other such human vices” but “operating in strict accordance with


Ernest Thompson MSNU

- 50 -

those laws which are a necessity of orderly existence... The theology of the spirit is simple and confined to knowledge. We value as nothing mere speculation. Eternal justice is the correlative of eternal love.

Mercy is no divine attribute. It is needless; for mercy involves remission of a penalty inflicted, and no such remission can be made save where the results have been purged away. We deal with practical life: and our creed may be briefly written:- Honour and love your Father, God (Duty to God). Help your brother onward on the path of progress (Duty to neighbour). Tend and guard your own body (Bodily culture). Cultivate every means of extending knowledge (Mental progress). Seek for fuller views of progressive truth (Spiritual growth). Do ever the right and good in accordance with your knowledge (integrity). Cultivate communion with the spirit land by prayer and frequent intercourse (Spiritual nurture).”

As man ascends the eternal spiral of progression he unfolds within himself more and more of the divinity of which he is part. Wisdom and love have ever been the two greatest virtues, which have evolved in man, and with them he has been able to increase correspondingly his understanding and communion with his divine parent. It has been a constant revelation. In the words of Imperator, (Spirit Teachings) through the hand of Stainton Moses, “So much of truth is given as a man can grasp, no more under any circumstances, but just as much as he can grasp., as much as suffices for his present craving.” As the spirit people have experience of two worlds the average spirit entity has more knowledge of God than his earthly counterpart, for more has been revealed to him, and he can therefore impart to us a greater understanding of life and destiny, but as Imperator pointed out this knowledge has to be given through the instrumentality of a medium, and consequently “the purity of the Spirit message depends much on the passivity of the medium and on the conditions under which the message is communicated. Hence, in your Bible there are traces here and there of the individuality of the medium; of error caused by imperfect control; of the colour of his opinions; as well as of special peculiarities addressed to the special needs of the people to whom the message was first given, and for whose case it was primarily adapted.” The re-interpretation of the Bible, in the light of psychic knowledge, is therefore one of the many important blessings which have to come to us as a result of spirit teachings. “The inspiration is divine but the medium is human,” and this applies to all the so-called words and commands of God in the Bible, bearing in mind that the spirit messengers were but mediums of divine wisdom also.

Relative Conceptions of God

Imperator points out that, “if no one seer can satisfy his ideal, he selects from many of the points which please him, rejects the remainder, and manufactures his own revelation piecemeal... With a theology so framed, we are accused of being at variance. It is true. We have no commerce with it. It is of the earth, earthy; base and low in its conception of God; degrading in its influence on the soul; insulting to the Deity whom it professes to reveal. We have no part in it. We do indeed contradict and disown it. It is our mission to reverse its teaching, to substitute for it truer and nobler views of God and of the Spirit.” As no man has ever seen God however, no man can know what he is really like. There is speculation about God in the spirit world just as there is on earth and therefore, insists Imperator, “to press to the end of literal accuracy any spirit teaching about God is mere folly. All the revelation of God is characteristic of the age in which it is given... Indeed, since the conception which each frames for himself is to him his God, it cannot be that revelation can be in advance of capacity. It is in the nature of things impossible... You have made your God, and you have made Him act as you see fit.” God can be “known to you only by His operations, and through


Spiritualism in the Evolution of Philosophy

- 51 -

your conceptions of His nature and attributes.” The wave of materialism which was then sweeping the world (19th cent.) had its uses Imperator thought, and referred to “the destructive criticism of German scholars who have dealt a much needed blow to blind belief in the verbal exactitude of human utterances.”


Imperator was very revealing on the subject of prayer. “The fancy of a prayer to the ear of an ever-present God, who is willing to alter unalterable laws in response to a capricious request, has done much to discredit the idea of prayer altogether. Believe it or not! Prayer - the spontaneous cry of the soul to its God, through the friends who, it knows are near, and are every ready to catch up the unuttered petition, and bear it upwards and ever upwards till it reaches a power that can respond this is no matter of formal preparation.

It consists not in any act of outward show. It trammelled by conventional form, or bound up in stereotyped phraseology. True prayer is the ready voice of spirit communing with spirit: the cry of the soul to invisible friends with whom it used to speak: the flashing along the magnetic line a message of request which brings swift as thought, its ready answer back. It is the placing of a suffering soul in union with a ministering spirit who can soothe and heal. It needs no words, no attitude, no form. It is truest when these are absent, or at least unstudied. It needs but a recognition of a near guardian, and an impulse to communion.”


One of ‘the most important revelations in Spirit Teachings is the new attitude towards Jesus which Spiritualists have adopted. “Man has gradually built around the teachings of Jesus a wall of deduction and speculation, and material comment, similar to that with which the Pharisee had surrounded the Mosaic law. The tendency has increasingly been to do this in proportion as man has lost sight of the spiritual world. And so it has come to pass that we find hard, cold materialism deduced from teachings, which were intended to breathe spirituality, and to do away with sensuous ritual. It is our task to do for Christianity what Jesus did for Judaism. We would take the old forms and spiritualise their meaning, and infuse into them new life. Resurrection rather than abolition is what we desire. We say again that we do not abolish one jot or tittle of the teaching, which the Christ gave to the world. We do but wipe away man’s material glosses, and shows you the hidden spiritual meaning, which he has missed... He preached the religion of daily life, the moral progress of the spirit in the path of daily duty forward to a higher knowledge. Repentance for the past, amendment and progress in the future, summed up most of his teaching... The true attitude of the spirit is one of striving earnestly in the hope of reaching a higher position than that which it has attained. In perpetually progressing it finds its truest happiness... The religion which we teach is one of acts and habits, not of words and fitful faith.” In these spirit teachings the principle of “Personal Responsibility” replaces the conception of a vicarious atonement of sins by a saviour. “Man’s responsibility,” wrote Imperator, “its in proportion to the light which is in him; man’s duty is not lessened but increased by the quality of the revelation of which he is the recipient.” The essence of the principle of “Personal Responsibility” is that man must work out his own salvation. To make retribution for sin, each spirit, must journey through remorse and uncongenial labour; for by no other means can it be purified. Selfishness must be eradicated by self-sacrifice. Idleness must be rooted out by laborious toll. The spirit must be purified by suffering. This is for it the only upward path of progress.”


Ernest Thompson MSNU

- 52 -


The True Atonement