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 Kardecist Spiritualism

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Silver Wind
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PostSubject: Kardecist Spiritualism   Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:35 pm

Kardecist Spiritualism started in nineteenth century France, through the works of Leon Hyppolite Denizart Rivail, who became known under the name Allan Kardec. Mediumistic phenomena had aroused interest in French salons since the previous century, combining philosophical and scientific curiosity with a quasi-religious exploration of the mysteries of the spirit. Positivism and mysticism were united. Kardec made a systematic observation of such phenomena and produced a work which has become a classic for a movement which is still expanding today.

Kardec's ideas were well received in Brazil. They attracted the attention of educated people who saw in them a sign of modernity compared with the conservatism of the Catholic Church and gained converts among the liberal professional classes and the military. By 1884 the ideas had spread widely enough for a Brazilian Spiritualist Federation to be formed. In the twentieth century Brazil became the country where spiritualism found its most widespread expression. Today it numbers its adherents in millions and its ideas influence religious culture as a whole. The principle of reincarnation, for example, is probably accepted by a majority of Brazilians.

Spiritualists meet at "Centres". The leader of a Centre does not need to have undergone formal training, nor to have gone through any investiture rites. Spiritualists are economical with regard to ritual, preferring direct verbal communication. The training of its adherents takes place on a daily basis at the Centre, where there is a strong educational emphasis, with lectures to expound the doctrines of the cult. At the end of the lecture, the mediums go through the audience performing "passes" with their hands, which serve as a discreet purification ritual.

Seances are conducted in the same style. Incorporation does not annihilate the consciousness of the medium and generally occurs in an environment of discreet half-light. If the spirit is in a higher state, it will guide those present and offer them counsel. If, on the contrary, the spirit is still suffering the loss of earthly things, the relationship is inverted, and it is the medium's task to instruct and offer help to the suffering spirit.

Mediumship should display the same combination of enlightenment and charity which should guide the lives of devotees. It allows moral advancement to cross the barrier of death, so as to join the living ("embodied") and the dead ("disembodied") in communication. The vast spiritualist literature is itself the fruit of mediumistic practices. Authors such as Francisco Cândido Xavier (Chico Xavier) write under the direct influence of the higher spirits, "psycho-writing" their teachings. There are artists who paint whilst in a trance. More spectacularly, to the point of generating controversy, is the practice of medicine, and even surgery, which is carried out by disembodied spirits making use of the "equipment" of the medium. The alleged German surgeon Dr Fritz continues to practise in Brazil, using a succession of mediums and attracting a large number of patients.

There is no spiritualist centre which is not involved in some kind of charitable activity. Day care centres, nursing homes, clinics, food distribution centres etc. are all provided by voluntary work which benefits a large number of people. It is the most visible expression of spiritualist ethics, based on the principal of "Karma". Spiritualists believe that every action, good or bad, has its consequences for the path of each individual's spiritual evolution. Enlightenment and charity lead the spirit through successive reincarnations, in an evolutionary process, which allows us to overcome earthly suffering and proceed to higher levels of existence.

by Rubem César Fernandes

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