Spiritism & Ethics
ETHICS is considered by many to be a somewhat esoteric topic. What most do understand about ethics is that it has something to do with good and bad, and that it is a controversial topic. Ethics has two aspects, first its definition: what does ethics mean. How what is ethical and not ethical can be identified. Second, its practice: the practical application, evolution and modification of a persons ethical code of conduct.
DEFINITION OF ETHICS:
Simply, ethics is the rational understanding of what is correct behavior and what is not correct behavior. Ethics is usually defined by its identification with Religion, Culture and/or the Law. In truth these definitions are all too limiting.
With Religion, ethics is defined as an absolute code of conduct specified in that faith’s dogmatic writings. This kind of code of conduct, not reasoned (by man), never changing, is commonly called Morality. Ethics can not be defined as just Morality because Religious Dogma is intended only for the followers of that particular faith. In order for any ethical code to remain relevant and stand the test of time it has to be flexible, rational, applicable to varying groups of people and willing to change as peoples understanding of the world changes.
With culture, ethics is referred to as ‘traditional values’. It is limited to groups of people sharing common history, traditions, set of beliefs and ancestry. These traditional values come about slowly with time, having many unreasoned elements, aspects that are prejudiced, discriminatory, illegal, filled with contradictions, and an unwillingness to change even as people become wiser and more experienced.
With the Law, ethics is the ‘Institutions Of Law’, each controlling different categories of a societies rules of conduct. These rules are limited to what is specified within the official government approved documents of a particular nation or group. These kinds of ethics can shift dramatically with changes in the political parties controlling law making bodies, changes in the intentions of a government, or changes in the beliefs of the voting majority (within democracies). Because of these shifts, law based ethics are considered by many to be hypocritical, and more an act of government/political control than something to respect and live by.
For others laws are seen in terms of the ‘Social Compromise’, meaning they are necessary for a society to function but not reflective of personal ethics, or conduct. These standards of conduct are considered only in terms of the dependency upon the services provided by the society, and a wish not to be punished by that society.
Any ethical code that changes as part of any ‘agenda’ can not be accurate, or a product of rational thinking. By the same token any code that is followed only because of dependency and fear is not going to be reflected anyone’s reasoned and honest personal code of conduct.
Spiritisim and the Law
It is important to take this moment to point out Spiritism’s view of the rule of law. It clarifies the importance of the ‘social compromise’, and how the evolution of societies is governed by ‘universal Law of Progress’. It is true that because of Human ignorance no nation has laws that are truly fair and reasoned, but eventually with time and the evolution of all societies, their laws too will reflect that progress. As for Spiritism’s attitude toward following societies laws it says:
Gospel according to Spiritism chapter 2 section 7
“.. prescribes respect for the rights of each person, as each one desires to be respected. It extends as well to the fulfillment of obligations towards family, society and authority, just as much as for individuals in general.”
More will be discussed about this subject at a later date.
Philosophical Ethics. This is the scientific approach to ethics. It is basically that of studying the beliefs of well known and influential past thinkers on the subject such as Plato and Aristotle (philosophical ethics having its origins in ancient Greece) and more modern thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, D.W. Ross, C.L. Stevenson, Alasdair MacIntyre, and John Rawls. It also concentrates on a clearer identification of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ and is divided into three major school of thought called Virtue Ethics (moral character), Deontology (duty/rules) , and Consequentialism (consequence). Each coming to different conclusions based on the POV each school takes on the subject. These views of ethics are reasoned and change based on a growing understanding of humanity.
Spiritisim Defines Ethics:
Spiritisim’s definition of Ethics has aspects found in the basic concepts of all three of Philosophical ethics schools of thought.
Dates back to the ancient Greek thinkers and is thus the oldest type of ethical theory in Western philosophy. Plato discussed four key virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance and justice.
Virtue-based ethical theories focus on helping people develop good character traits, such as kindness and generosity. These character traits will, in turn, allow a person to make the correct decisions later on in life. Virtue theorists also emphasize the need for people to learn how to break bad habits of character, like greed or anger
Spiritism teaches that a major part of a persons spiritual evolution comes about by changes in conduct. Virtues like empathy, charity, indulgence , humility, and love are vital to achieving a higher level of existence. Without these virtues (along with intellectual progress) a person can never achieve their true potential.
Theories focusing on the consequences any action might have. Understanding the results of a choice is vital to identifying if it is the ‘right’ choice. Correct consequences only come from correct choices, incorrect consequences must come from incorrect choices.
Consequentialism is considered controversial by critics because it neglects to analyze the nature (cause) of the consequences that are being labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In this school of thought any pleasurable act such self indulgence and even masochism can be labeled as having good consequences, therefore coming from good choices.
Spiritisim teaches us about the importance of action and consequence as well, though focusing on a non-materialistic pov.. Universal Law assures that actions and choices have corresponding consequences that reflect the ethical or unethical nature of the action. It is as important to explore the results of your actions as it is to identify the cause.
The correct ethical choices come from an understanding of our ‘moral’ duties and a knowledge of the rules exist to regulate those duties. When we follow our duty, we must be behaving ‘morally’. These duties, rules, and obligations are determined by God. Being ‘moral’ is a matter of obeying God. The consequences of these choices, and/or the personal character of the person are irrelevant. Only the intent of following the moral law and actually obeying these laws without question, is relevant in this school of thought.
Spiritism teaches how vital it is to make personal, informed and reasoned choices in our lives. So the concepts of duty and blind obedience are considered very unwise. A person can only make a truly ethical choice when it is done honestly and with a clear rational understanding of why they are making that choice.
That said, Spiritism does reflect aspects of the Deontological school of thought through a focus on ‘intent’ when making a choice. All of us here on Earth are spirits in a lower level of evolution and as such are extreamly limited both in our ethical and scientific understanding of all aspects of life. Since for us learning is an extremely slow and many times painful process, the majority of the choices we make, will not have the results we expect. We may have the intent and assurance that the choices we are making are correct but in fact many are not. Since our choices can only reflect our level of knowledge at the time we are making them.
Spiritism clarifies that our honest intent when making a choice is given great importance in terms of whether or not our choice is correct or not. Without this aspect of universal justice, all of our actions would be unethical since none of us here on Earth are evolved enough to display true wisdom. A balance between what we have done (the consequences of actions) and what we intended (what we wanted to happen) is also critical in the learning process.
Spiritism also has Deontological implications in its clarifications of universal law (not Biblical old testament laws) and focuses on the importance of our understanding these laws and how they affect our choices and who we are.
SUMMERY OF UNIVERSAL LAWS:
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 required 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 incarnation 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. 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.
In conclusion Spiritism defines ethics as being the application of possitive changes in conduct, keeping true to an honest intent, learning about actions and their consequences and an undertsnading of universal law. All the concepts put forth by Spirit teachers in the 1850s-70s are part of modern philosophical study today.
APPLICATION OF ETHICS
Spiritisim clarifies and explains the basis for a solid rational code of Ethics:
FROM THE SPIRITS BOOK, Book 3 chapter 12
Characteristics of the Virtuous Man.
918. By what signs can we recognize a man as having accomplished the progress that will raise him in the spirit-hierarchy?
“The elevation of an incarnated spirit is proved by the conformity of all the acts of his corporeal life with universal law, and by his comprehension of spiritual life.”
The truly virtuous man is he who practises the law of justice, love, and charity, in its greatest purity. If he interrogates his conscience in regard to the acts accomplished by him. He will ask himself whether he has done nothing wrong, whether he has done all the good in his power, whether no one has cause to complain of him, and whether he has done to others all that he would wish others to do to him. Being filled with the sentiment of charity and kindness for all, he does good for its own sake, without hope of reward. and sacrifices his own interest to justice.
He is kind, benevolent, humane, for all, because he sees a brother in every man, whatever his race or his belief.
If he has been given him power and riches, he considers them as A TRUST confided to him for the general good;…. If the constitution of society has made other men dependent on him, he treats them with kindness and benevolence, as being his equals in the sight of God; he uses his authority to raise them ethically, and not to crush them by his pride.
He is indulgent for the weaknesses of others, knowing that he too needs indulgence, and remembering the Words of Christ, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”
He is not vindictive, but remembers only benefits; following the example of Jesus, he forgives all offences, for he knows that he will only obtain forgiveness in proportion as he has forgiven.
He respects the rights of others, as established by the law of nature, as scrupulously as he desires those rights to be respected in his own case.
As you can see, the Spirit teachers give us a solid, nondogmatic set of suggestions as to what criteria an ethical person should use to make choices through their life. A code of conduct that has already been revealed to diffrent people, at different points in history and put into practice by people like Buddha, Gandhi, Mohammed, and Jesus over thousands of years. This time accompanied by explanations and clarifications as to why and how these ideas bring about progress. A code of ethics that transends race, religion, culture, politics, geography, and age.
The Ethical Code:
Just like all animals have an instinctual code of conduct that comes from natural evolution, the spirits within human animals too have an ingrained code of conduct. A code that comes from the conclusions made based on the experiences in present and in past existences. This set of criteria is what we use to make all the decisions of our lives and is called our Ethical Code
Our point of view on every aspect of our life, the way we treat others, treat ourselves, our prejudices, addictions, obsessions, passions, and how we act within society, every choice is based on a corresponding past conclusions found in our ethical code of conduct. Since this ethical code exists in our subconscious mind, ingrained like instinct, even when we seem to act without thought, our impulsive reactions still reflect this criteria.
Unlike the ideal ethical code suggested by the Spirit teachers, our own personal ethical code is far from perfect. Instead it reflects both our best and worst qualities, and everything in between. We (everyone of Earth) are reincarnated Spirits in a lower state of evolution, with many many imperfections. As the word “ignorance” implies, we are very imperfect because there is so much we do not yet know. And so our code reflects what little we have learned and the many lessons we have yet to understand. This is why an ethical code is a reflection of a spirit’s state of evolution.
Unlike character and physical traits which change with every reincarnation, our ethical code is carried intact from reincarnation to reincarnation, always assessable in our subconscious. And unlike our physical bodies which change based on naturally predetermined stations of deterioration, our ethical code is constantly and sporadically changing, based on the choices and the consequences of these choices we make daily. A subsequent reaction to an event either reinforces an already ingrained set of criteria or becomes part of a set of experiences that are influencing changes in that particular criteria.
Because change is an extreamly slow process, a change in our ethics can take countless experiences, through many reincarnations, to have the desired effect. This is why many people seem to remain trapped in the same behavior over and over and over again during a life time, while others seem to make drastic changes in conduct that seem overnight.
Changing The Ethical Code:
Universal Law provides us with two ways to improve our ethical code, one for the short period of time we call the physical life time and the other for the long term series of reincarnations required for Spirit evolution. .
First Method Of Change:
The first method of change is the ideal code of conduct mentioned earlier. Striving daily to live by this code of conduct is the ‘active’ or rational way in which we can bring about these changes in our behavior. It does not matter if we fail every day to apply these changes. Change is a slow process, one that requires constant effort, and countless failures before seeing the desired effect.
Spirits BOOK BOOK THREE Chapter 12
365. What is the most efficacious method of ensuring one’s own ethical improvement in the present life, and resisting the attraction of evil? “One of the sages of antiquity has told you: ‘Know thyself”.’
366 – We fully admit the wisdom of the maxim; but this self-knowledge is just what it is most difficult to acquire. By what means can we acquire it?
“Do what I myself used to do during my life upon the earth. At the close of each day I examined my conscience, reviewed all that I had done, and asked myself whether I had not failed in some duty, whether some one might not have reason to complain of me. It was in this way that I succeeded in obtaining a know-ledge of myself, and in ascertaining what there was in me that needed reforming. He who, every evening, should thus recall all the actions of the day, asking himself whether he has done ill or well, and praying God and his guardian angel to en-lighten him would acquire great strength for self-improvement, for, believe me, God would assist him. Ask yourself these questions; inquire of yourself what you have done, and what was your aim in such and such a manner; whether you have done anything that you would blame in another; whether you have done anything that you would be ashamed to avow. Ask yourself also this question -‘If it pleased God to call me back, at this moment, into the other life, should I, on returning into the world of spirits, in which nothing is hidden, have to dread the sight of any one? Examine what you may have done, first, against God; next, against your neighbor; and lastly, against yourself. The answers to these questions will either give repose to your conscience, or show you some moral malady of which you will have to cure yourself.
“Self-knowledge is, therefore, the key to individual improvement; but, you will ask, ‘How is one to judge one’s self? Is not each man subject to the illusions of self-love, which diminish his faults in his own eyes and find excuses for them? …This is true, but you have a means of ascertainment that cannot deceive you. When you are in doubt as to the quality of any one of your actions, ask yourself what would be your judgement in regard to it if it were done by another? If you would blame it in another, it cannot be less blameable when done by you, for God’s justice has neither two weights nor two measures. Endeavour also to learn what is thought of it by others; and do not overlook the opinion of your enemies, for they have no interest in disguising the truth, and God often places them beside you as a mirror, to warn you more frankly than would be done by a friend. Let him, then, who is firmly resolved on self-improvement examine his conscience in order to root out his evil tendencies, as he roots out the weeds from his garden; let him every night. cast up his moral accounts for the day, as the tradesman counts tip his profit and loss; he may be sure that the former will be a more profitable operation than the latter. He who, after this footing tip of his day’s doings, can say that the balance of the account; is in his favour, may sleep in peace, and fearlessly await the moment of his awaking in the other life.
by the spirit of SAINT AUGUSTINE
Second Method Of Change
The second method of change, meant for our long series of reincarnations, is that of our choice of trials in these life times. After disincarnation we are shown the main experiences of that life time just passed. We are shown these images, and relive the experiences on a deep emotional level, not just from our own POV, but from the pov of those in our lives we have effected. We relive the choices we have made, in a way that feels totally real and also relive these choices from the eyes of those who experienced the consequences of our choices.
For most Spirits this results in deep seeded impulses for change. A realization that only by making up for these past mistakes, and by pressuring themselves to change their way of reacting to certain situations, can they come to peace with themselves, and continue the process of Spiritual evolution. The disincarnated Spirit then instigates these changes by choosing the type and intensity of trails for their upcoming life times.
FROM The Spirits Book 2 Chapter 6
Choice of Trials 258. In the state of erraticity, and before taking on a new corporeal existence, does a spirit foresee the things which will happen to him in that new existence?
“He chooses for himself the kind of trials which he will undergo, and it is in this freedom of choice that his freewill consists.”
– It is not God, then, who imposes upon him the tribulations of life as a chastisement? “Nothing comes to pass without the permission of God, for it is He who has established all the laws that rule the universe. You would have to inquire why He has made such and such a law, instead of taking some other way. In giving to a spirit the liberty of choice, He leaves to him the entire responsibility of his acts and of their consequences. There is nothing to bar his future; the right road is open to him as freely as the wrong road. But if he succumbs, there still remains to him the consoling fact that all is not over with him, and that God in His goodness allows him to recommence the task which he has done badly. You must, moreover, always distinguish between what is the work of God’s will and what is the work of man’s will. If a danger threatens you, it is not you who have created this danger, but God; but you have voluntarily elected to expose yourself to this danger, because you have seen in so doing a means of advancement, and God has permitted you to do so.”
259. If the spirit has the choice of the kind of trials which he will undergo, does it follow that all the tribulations we experience in the earthly life have been foreseen and chosen by us?
“It would not be correct to say that such has been the case with all of them; for you cannot be said to have chosen and foreseen all the things which happen to you in this life, and all their details. You have chosen the kind of trial to which you are subjected; the details of this trial are a consequence of the general situation which you have chosen, and are often the result of your own actions.
260. How can a spirit choose to be born among those who are leading a bad life?
“It is necessary for him to be sent into the conditions which will furnish the elements of the trial he has demanded. To this end, there must be a correspondence between the imperfection of which he desires to free himself, and the social surroundings into which he is born. For example, if he have to struggle against the instinct of brigandage, it is necessary for him to be thrown among brigands.”
262. As a spirit, at its origin, is simple, ignorant, and without experience, how can he make an intelligent choice of an existence, and how can he be responsible for such a choice?
“God supplies what is lacking through his inexperience, by tracing out for him the road which he has to follow, as you do for the infant in its cradle; but he allows him, little by little, to become the master of his choice, in proportion as his free-will becomes developed; and it is then that he often loses his way and takes the wrong road, if he do not listen to the advice of the good spirits, who endeavor to instruct him; it is this which may be called the fall of man.”
– When a spirit is in possession of his free-will, does the choice of his corporeal existence always depend solely on his own volition, or is this existence sometimes imposed on him by God as an expiation?
“God can afford to wait; He never hurries the work of expiation. Nevertheless, God does sometimes impose an existence upon a spirit, when the latter, through his ignorance or his obstinacy, is incapable of perceiving what would be to his advantage, and when He sees that this existence may subserve his purification and advancement, while furnishing him also with the conditions of expiation.”
264. What is it that decides a spirit’s choice of the trials which he determines to undergo?
“He chooses those which may serve to expiate faults, and at the same time help him to advance more quickly. In view of these ends, some may impose upon themselves a life of poverty privations, in order to exercise themselves in bearing them with courage; others may wish to test their powers of resistance by the temptations of fortune and of power, much more dangerous, because of the bad use that may be made of them, and the evil passions that may be developed by them; others, again, may desire to strengthen their good resolutions by having to struggle against the influence of vicious surroundings.”
266. Does it not seem natural to make choice of such trials as are least painful?
“From your point of view, it would seem to be so, but not from that of the spirit; when he is freed from materiality, his illusions cease, and he thinks differently”.
A spirit may therefore, make choice of the hardest trial, and consequently of the most painful existence, in the hope of thereby attaining more rapidly to a happier state, just as a sick man often chooses the most unpalatable medicine in the hope of obtaining a more rapid cure. … They perceive the ends which these trials are intended to work out-ends far more important for them than the fugitive enjoyments of earth. After each existence, they see the steps they have already accomplished and comprehend what they still lack for the attainment of the purity which alone enable them to reach the goal and they willingly submit to the vicissitudes of corporeal life. Demanding of their own accord to be allowed to undergo those which will aid them to advance most rapidly.
267. Can a spirit make his choice while in the corporeal state?
“His desire may exercise a certain amount of influence, according to the quality of his intention; but, when he returns to spirit-life, he often judges things very differently. It is only as a spirit that he makes his choice; but he may, nevertheless, make it during the material life, for a spirit, even while incarnated, has occasional moments in which he is independent of the matter he inhabits.”
268. Until a spirit has reached the state of perfect purity, has he constantly to undergo trials?
“Yes; but not such as you understand by that term. By the term trials, you understand only material tribulations. But when a spirit has reached a certain degree of purification, although he is not yet perfect, he has no more tribulations of that kind to undergo. He has, nevertheless, to perform creating duties which advance his own improvement, but there is nothing painful in these, as, for example, the duty of aiding others to work out their own improvement.”
In this second form of changing an ethical code, the individual initially takes a more ‘passive’ or reactionary role in the change. A Spirit reincarnates in a new body, bringing with them only their ethical code. Having no conscious memory of their past lives in order to avoid the burden of anger, guilt, depression or confusion that would come about if they recalled those past mistakes. The reincarnated spirit then is confronted with the many difficult trials it had chosen before birth. Trials in which they have to endure the very same mistakes in ethical judgment they acted upon others, except this time they are on the receiving end and not the giving end of the unethical behavior. With only their ethical code to guide them, they react based on the new experiences they are learning from.
At this point the Spirit has one of two choices: One is to search for ‘justice’, meaning they realize that they have been wronged, and learn through the experience why what was done to them was wrong and want to never let that happen to anyone else. So in this situation what was once a spirit’s ethical shortcoming is being modified by a tough lesson in injustice.
The second possible reaction is to seek ‘revenge’, the Spirit was wronged and this becomes justification to wrong others in the same way or even worse. So instead of a mistake in judgment being changed (a new lesson being learned) the mistake is reinforced by a Spirits desire for revenge. In this tragic second scenario the vengeful reincarnated Spirit is choosing to become trapped in a cycle of repeated violence, which we see so commonly in our society. In order for the Spirit to force itself to change its behavior it will choose harsher and harsher trials during its continuing lifetimes until finally the long suffering spirit alters the error in its ethical code of conduct.
ETHICS AND SPIRITISIM SUMMERY:
Spiritisim provides us, not just with an understanding of ethics, but of how we apply ethics in our individual lives, and how our ignorance is reflected in the limitations of our ethical code. It explains the natural laws that govern the Spirit world (universal laws) and how they influence our reincarnations here on earth. It clarifies how we choose trials to force ourselves to modify our conduct. And why applying the ethical lessons found in the teachings of Socrates and Plato, ,the example of Jesus of Nazareth, amoung many others and the suggestions of the Spirit teachers are a way to evolve faster and avoid many painful trials.