Attempting to determine what is fate and what is freewill is difficult when exploring Spiritism. This article explains the areas of your life that must occur and the areas where you have a choice.
There is a great article about the true meaning of religious freedom and what our founding fathers really meant by the separation of church and state. You can read the whole article here.
First the author, Steven F. Hayward, makes the point that during the first years of our republic, certain legislators in the state of Virginia, wanted to tax the people to support the churches. similar to what the process is in Europe today. Steven presents the theory that government financing of religion serves to decrease the active intellectual competition between beliefs, therefore given the lack of public discussion, the interest in religion wanes and people drift away.
Below is an excerpt;
In other words, if, instead of grasping for secular political power, different Christian denominations competed for the souls of citizens, then religion, paradoxically, could have a larger and more salutary effect on the character of society. It is tempting to see this as an example of the superiority of competition over monopoly, and although this would not be wrong (the example of moribund state churches in Europe today bolsters this point), it is too superficial. The paradox of strengthening religion by seemingly weakening it politically is central to the American character. Consider the following two statements by George Washington. In 1796, Washington said that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” Yet in his famous farewell address two years later, Washington said, “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
A Rebuke to Attackers of Reason and Revelation in Equal Measure
This was not a contradiction or even a paradox to the Founders because they understood the essential harmony between the moral teachings of reason (natural law, if you like) and the moral teachings of revealed religion when it came to political questions. The principle of the separation of church and state is today widely misinterpreted to mean the exclusion of religion from public life. The Founders, to the contrary, thought a fastidious neutrality on the part of the state between denominations and faiths would strengthen the influence of faith in our culture.
Next he expounds on the original intent of the separation of church and state by our founding fathers. It is not that our state should divorce itself from any type of religion, meaning no Christmas, no prayers, no demonstration of any type of spirituality, which is the end result of our PC culture, but only that all religions should be left in competition to present their ideas to all citizens.
All precepts that any Spiritist would completely agree. Spiritism should be allowed to present our Doctrine, allow other religions to adopt parts to suit their own purposes, thereby enriching spiritual opportunities for all those interested in improving themselves.
In the book Between Heaven and Earth, dictated to Francisco C. Xavier, by the spirit Andre Luiz, a woman, named Antonina, is given a chance to meet her deceased child (Marcos) in the Spirit world. She finds the child is happy with his life in heaven. She feels wonderful about the experience. When her spirit is put back into her body, the team leader (Clarencio), with whom Andre and Hilario are assisting, says,
“Our friend cannot hold on to the memory of what occurred,” stated Clarencio.
“Why not?” asked Hilario.
“Very few spirits are capable of living on earth with the visions of life eternal. They need the environment of inner twilight. A full memory of what occurred would result in a fatal longing.”
But the Minister patiently explained:
“Each stage in life is characterized by special purposes. Honey may be tasty nectar for the child, but it mustn’t be given indiscriminately – too much and it becomes a laxative. While we are in the earthly envelope, we cannot stay in contact with the spirit realm too long or our soul will lose interest in struggling worthily till the end of the body. Antonina will recall our trip but only vaguely, like someone who brings a beautiful but blurry picture to the living arena of her soul. But she will remember her son more vividly, enough for her to feel reassured and convinced that Marcos is waiting for her in the Greater Life. Such certainty will be sweet nourishment for her heart.” [page 79]
James had a full life review, with a council determining if he should stay or return. He also found out that indeed, he did have a life plan. Read More.
Joseph Mery – A 19th century French writer who believe he lived during the reign of Augustus, the Emperor of Rome.
According to Wikipedia, Joseph Mery was writer of stories, satires, and plays. He lived in France, and was born in 1797 and died in 1866.He was an acquaintance of Alexandre Dumas, who wrote the Count of Monte Cristo, and many other famous works.
Joseph Mery believed he lived in the time of Augustus, at the height of the Roman Empire. Read more.
If we do reincarnate, then how it is done? Do we remember who we were, what we did? Why must we endure childhood? How do we keep “ourselves” through the first stage of our life? The process is fully explained by Spiritism.
At the beliefnet site, there is an article that discusses the growth of the belief in reincarnation among Christians. It is an interview with Dr. Christopher Bache;
Dr. Christopher Bache is the author of Life Cycles: Reincarnation and the Web of Life and a professor of religion at Youngstown State University. He spoke with Beliefnet about the recent surge in interest in reincarnation and its implications for Christianity. Do you think a belief in reincarnation is becoming more mainstream among Americans?
I think very much so. The Gallup polls taken in the mid-1970s and mid-80s show that approximately 24% of the American adult population believes in reincarnation. This is a remarkable statistic, given that medical, academic, and scientific institutions generally have not supported that belief.
A fairly recent Gallup poll–I believe in 1999–indicated that over 20% of the people who self-identify as Christians believe in reincarnation. What do you think is going on?
Several things. One thing is that people are slowly becoming aware of the high caliber of evidence that supports reincarnation. Not only Ian Stevenson’s extraordinary studies with children, but also therapeutic evidence and the large number of clinical psychologists who are doing past life therapy. That discipline has matured a great deal over the past twenty-five years.
Another thing is that reincarnation opens up a new avenue within which to view the problem of suffering.
You’re saying a belief in reincarnation helps us understand the existence of suffering and evil?
What it does is expand exponentially our understanding of how much time we have to refine and perfect the life process. As a teacher, how much knowledge I can expect a student to demonstrate on a test or paper is directly related to how much time I give them to perform it. If it’s a one-hour test, I can expect a certain caliber of response. With a two-hour exam, I have higher expectations. If by reincarnation you expand the idea that we have not a hundred years, but millions of years–
To become good people?
I think that’s too narrow. By expanding our temporal horizon, it expands the horizon of what the creative project is all about. Clearly there’s the problem of suffering and the sense that life somehow can get twisted along the way. If we approach that phenomenon within a reincarnation perspective, we can see that some challenges, wounds or hardships leave such a mark on the soul that they contract or twist the soul in a way that might not be fully resolved within one lifetime. It might take several lifetimes to resolve and work that out.
All of this is great news. For it shows that the general tenets of Spiritism are being accepted, even if it is under a vague feeling that there must be something more than just one life. The idea that people, independently, without the knowledge of the Spiritist Doctrine, are familiar with the concept of improving ourselves through trials shows us the potential for the Doctrine to become accepted by people already questioning their spiritual beliefs.
At the time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. (Matthew, chapter 11:25)
As with many passages in the Bible, this could be interpreted in different ways. According to the doctrine of Spiritism, the most likely answer is that little children represent our humble aspect, where we look up to our parents and gladly take in what they offer us, without question, and with the trust of an innocent. Not, with the attitude of a teenager, questioning everything and secretly (or not so secretly, depending on the mood), thinking that we know best and everyone else is irretrievably stupid. Hence, we should accept the Word of God as children accept the word of their parents, knowing their love will see us through and that we shall become wiser with age, but the foundation of our moral code is strong, stable, and everlasting.
And what was hidden from the wise and learned? First, the attitude of humility, the knowledge that we have little knowledge, that we always have more to learn. Next, the fact the Universe does not rotate around us, but that we must be the givers and not the takers. Lastly, love is a powerful force that doesn’t bloom in a field of pride and selfishness. How many of the wise and learned understand this? I am sad to say, it took me a very long time.
Many people and some religions believe that the souls of humans can be reincarnated into animals and then back again. According to The Spirits Book, the answer is a no. But there is a hint of a qualifier.
Here is what The Spirits Book tells us;
613. Can a spirit which has animated a human body be incarnated in an animal?
“No; for such an incarnation would be retrograde step; and a spirit never retrogrades. The river does not flow back to its source.”
Hence, we are told with no uncertainty that a human soul can’t transfer to a lesser form. Now, for the question can an animal, at some point, after a series of reincarnation, begin life in a human body. It is answered;
601. Do animals follow a law of progress like men?
“Yes; and it is for this reason that, in the higher worlds in which men are further advanced, the animals are more advanced also, and possess more developed means of communication. But they are always inferior to man, and subject to him; they are, for him, intelligent servitors.”
Therefore, animals progress via their own path and do not intersect with humans. So it would seem that there is no cross over at all between animals and us. But, the origin of a spirit is unknown, even to the spirits themselves. This hole in the knowledge of where a spirit is first created leaves the door open to some sort of progression from lower life forms.
Again in The Spirits Book, it is written;
“The starting-point of spirit is one of those questions which have reference to the origin of things, and to the secret design of God. It is not given to man to comprehend them completely, and he can only form, in regard to them, suppositions and theoretic systems, more or less probable…
It is thus, for example, that all spirits do not think alike in reference to the relations which exist between man and the animals. According to some, spirit only arrives at the human period after having been elaborated and individualized in the different degrees of the lower beings to creation, According to others, the spirit of man has always belonged to the human race, without passing through the ascensional degrees of the animal world.” [Allan Kardec, The Spirits Book, p. 336]
So we could have started off as an animal and after a long and laborious trial of eons, grow into the ranks of humans, or we could have first just entered the physical body of a primitive human and then started our path. The relationship between our souls and the souls of animals is unclear and we will have to be content with the fact, as Allan Kardec wrote, “as for the mysterious kinship which exist between man and the animals, that we repeat, is God’s secret.” [Allan Kardec, The Spirits Book, p. 337]