During the Age of Reason, most commonly acknowledged occurring during the 18th century in England and France, but beginning in the 17th century when the numbers of scientific discoveries started to explode; ideas reigned. It was thought that to calmly shift through the arguments and weigh the pros and cons, then and only then to respond, or to conduct one’s own experiments was the correct approach when discussing new theories. Excitable replies and overly emotional retorts were considered to show a lack of intellectual force.
Today, we live in the opposite world. At least in the most visible section of our popular culture. The spirit realm understands this current hysteria will not last.
Contrary to popular opinion, we are not placed on earth to reside safely and in constant peace. We are not here to listen only to what we desire to hear. We are not here to close ourselves off and only read, watch, and listen to what we already know.
We are on this planet of atonement, this campus where we must pay for our past misdeeds and accumulate new experiences, to accomplish one goal and one goal only – improve our character and transform our personality – to rid ourselves of the blemishes (hate, envy, pride, selfishness …) and instill positive attributes (love, fraternity, charity, honesty …).
This can’t be accomplished without interaction with others. We must be exposed to good, bad, indifferent, stupid, and intelligent ideas so we can acquire the skills to filter out those which are useful for ourselves and society and those which are indifferent or detrimental. To hone this process we must learn critical thinking and get rid of the habit of emotional reaction.
When I was in Junior High, I had a wonderful Social Studies and History teacher. He spent an entire series of classes on being able to discern points of view. For example, he showed us the headlines of newspapers that covered the Hungarian revolution against the Communists in 1956. From behind the iron curtain to newspapers of different ideologies in the west. We learned, through critical thinking, that all news had a point of view, all news was biased in one way or another. By taking his class, through these valuable examples we knew to take nothing at face value. That we must distill the facts for ourselves, then and only then make our conclusions. This lesson has never left me.
Later on when I was in positions of responsibility for corporations, I saw first-hand how articles in newspapers and magazines could be easily manipulated to push whatever point of view you desired. And, when only reporting a simple story, the facts were incorrect or manufactured by reporters with an ideology to shove onto their unsuspecting public. Trust nothing you see, read or hear – analyze for yourself first, then determine the amount of confidence you have in the alleged facts presented.
Unfortunately, this is particularly true of our media today. Their ability to selectively edit and rearrange audio and video makes it easy to misshape even the most innocent of acts. Hence, the need to be on your guard and to learn to filter all information through your own mind and conscience.
How to Start
Every human has a conscience. It is the set of Divine Laws given to us by the Supreme Being. It is through this mechanism that we compare every action and thought against. The maturity and breadth of your conscience depends upon your spiritual maturity. Your spiritual maturity is gathered via multiple existences on earth – reincarnation.
The spirit Joanna explains the process:
“Reincarnation is the instrument for spiritual progress. At times, individuals must endure expiation when their wrongs are serious, submitting to afflictions that are educational disciplines, whereby the duties they must fulfill are fixed deep in their conscience. At other times, they undergo trials, which strengthen the moral fibers responsible for dignifying action.
Rather than being a punishment, the gift of physical rebirth is a blessing of God’s love. It helps the spirit develop latent resources, like soil that is tilled and fertilized so that the tiny seed may become the lush plant sleeping within …
Given this reality, broaden your conscientiousness through reflection and act with ethical certainty, surrendering from now on to the duty of enlightenment.
Never put off your duties under the pretext that you will have future opportunities.
Your conscience will tell you that today, here and now, is the time and place to build your spiritual Self, which must ascend, freeing itself from primitive atavisms and perturbing passions.
Awareness of reincarnation will drive you to progress through love and the good with no alternative for failure, because the light of happiness shining ahead will be the stimulus for reaching your goal.
Without reincarnation, intelligent life would return to chaos and the logic of progress would be reduced to stupidity and ignorance.”[i]
We are all in the process of improving our spiritual quotient. Some may find it difficult to flesh out the gray areas for ethical dilemmas, while others, with a history of added incarnations or more successful incarnations will be able to competently unlock the right answer.
Whatever the status of a person’s spiritual and intellectual growth, utilizing your own conscience, ignoring the words and deeds of others is the starting place. We are placed on earth to exercise our wills to trim away bad habits and to reinforce positive attributes. To do this, we must exercise what thinking and feeling ability we possess.
The important point to remember is that pure intellect, or in other words the level of IQ a person has, does not imply spiritual ascendancy. The spirit Joanna emphasizes this theme:
“Currently, psychology is facing a new approach regarding the develop of interpersonal intelligence, which has to do with social relationships, the observation and monitoring of events, and the ability to discern, responding consciously to the various spiritual states, different temperaments, and care that must be used in the treatment of others, something that goes way beyond intellectual robotization.
Consequently, it is necessary to harmonize emotion and thought, such that they mutually aid each other, with emotion providing warmth to reason, which in turn offers understanding to the heart, thus avoiding remaining on just one aspect of the reality that makes up the human being.
Of course, misdirected emotions perturb one’s thought, making concentration difficult and working against the intellect. In the same way, cold and logical intelligence creates obstacles to sharing, to emotional focus, rendering individuals deprived of love and sensitivity. They may express all the beauty, describe all the harmony, and speak of all the greatness of life, but will feel nothing, rendering it only intellectual and lifeless in form.
When emotions predominate, attitudes are embarrassing, and persons simply cannot think correctly or tell right from wrong, creating behavioral problems. Neuroscience says that this phenomenon is the result of the functional memory, located in the pre-frontal cortex. Hence, it is necessary that, in the festival of life, emotions coexist well with reason so that sentiment and thought contribute mutually to the commitment to happy results in human decision and conduct.
We will conclude by saying that individuals have two brains: the emotional and the rational, which we may say are two types of intelligence, or even two types of minds. The development of both corresponds to the successes or failures that affect human beings.”[ii]
An advanced spirit is not simply a computer beyond our imagination. A high spirit also contains love and empathy. Almost universally, when people report their near death experiences, if they describe an encounter with a shining angelic being, they speak of the wave of warmth and love emanating from their bodies.
This is why we must learn to combine the two forces of intellect and emotion into one power. Using our conscience and will, we must study to focus that radiant beam of energy for the good. This is the definition of spiritual wisdom.
Just as we need to exercise patience, to learn to wait for the right time, to not rush that which must be developed over the course of events, we also need to exercise understanding and empathy. Only with these two key levers can we postulate dispassionate opinions.
As one advances in the Spiritist Doctrine and comprehends the long arc of our education on earth (and possibly other planets as well), a sense of calmness descends upon you like a protective covering. The little disappointments, the petty bureaucratic requests, the malicious gossip, all become background noise that you become less and less aware of. Eventually, even the greater challenges are recognized as opportunities to either gain more knowledge or pay off past debts.
The lack of stress, self-induced beforehand, but now erased or vastly diminished, frees up your mind to focus on new horizons. You will find your ability to concentrate enhanced. You no longer have a thousand insignificant worries dancing around your head. All this frees you to lift your intellect and feelings to greater destinations. You can begin to more fully explore your conscience, your actions, the actions of those around you, and you can better set attainable goals for yourself.
More importantly, you can expend the right amount of effort to think through problems and formulate an opinion, based upon the foundation of spiritual wisdom you have built. Emmanuel, in the book Thought & Life, psychographed by Francisco (Chico) C. Xavier, provides us with the importance of understanding:
“The farmer cannot furrow his fields without a plough.
A sculptor uses a chisel to bring out his creative ideas hidden within marble.
Likewise, to produce protective mental reflexes, we need understanding as a foundation for the task of our renewal; an understanding that symbolizes dynamic brotherhood; a feeling that is like a magnet in which our best attracts the best in others.
All of us are immersed in our own mental waves by virtue of an existing natural circuitry.
We classify ourselves as good or bad according to the way we use our feelings and thoughts which are electromagnetic forces that either protect or hurt, help or damage, vitalize or destroy. They always return bearing the elements of happiness or unhappiness that we had given them.
When we are angry, irritated, aggressive or rude towards others, we instigate through reflexive action, discouragement and intemperance, cruelty and coldness towards ourselves. On the other hand, whenever we are generous and understanding, being of service and useful to those around us, we create happiness, tranquility, security and cheerfulness that work in our favor.
Life answers us through every creature and everything according to the nature of our call.
Until all beings reach cosmic consciousness, they are differentiated by the light that raises them to the pinnacle of evolution, or by the shadows of darkness from the suffering caused by their past.
This symbolism works even with humanity on Earth; the Sun in its full splendor is high above us, while the dark abysses are found below.
All of us receive inspiration for the future from our Celestial Father and all of us suffer the repercussions of the past upon our lives.
To undo the handcuffs of evil we have forged against our souls, we must seek goodness, feel it, visualize it and mold it with all the resources we can muster.
We can begin by distinguishing the criminal from the crime, just as the farmer sees the difference between the worm and the soil, so that he can lessen the strength of the former and enhance the usefulness of the latter. And just as the farmer works to eliminate all blights to save his crop, so must our understanding find the means to help our neighbor who falls into crime.
To make ourselves humble in order to help, without diminishing our own heights, is to insure the improvements of all and thereby enhance our own progress.
However, only tireless dedication to understanding can guarantee us the necessary balance in the task of our self-improvement. We must make it our most cherished dream, for only love, pure and true, can create in our minds the energy of divine light as it radiates from us into waves on constant renewal.”[iii]
Emmanuel stressed the importance of giving constructive criticism. Be generous with positive emotions and approach giving your opinion in the fairest manner possible, even while rejecting that which was presented to you. Rebuff with as much diplomacy as manageable. Finding the gem of agreement and eliminating the other points helps to validate the other persons approach to their idea while not actually agreeing with their original premise, is an excellent device to present your opinion in opposition to the one given to you.
On the other hand, be open to changing your mind. Think through what was offered to you and determine if your conscience, heart, and mind sees valid arguments which may alter your own thinking.
As you journey onward, learn to trust yourself. When you feel you have established a firm foundation of belief – in God and in the truth of the Spirit Universe and all that implies – you shall more often than not be correct in your opinions. Emmanuel tells us:
“Undoubtedly, there are many people of estimable opinion to whom we may resort at opportune moments. However, we should never discount the opinion of our own conscience, because that divine sanctuary is where the voice of God usually enlightens us.”[iv]
And this is the most difficult part of the equation – we must listen to our conscience, not rationalize why this or that fragment is fine. To ascend is to listen to the total findings of your inner voice, not just the parts you like.
Accomplishing this feat makes you the owner of your spiritual truth. You become unalterably tied to the Spirituality and the spirit universe. Your thoughts become intertwined with the grace and majesty of the aims and feelings of superior spirits.
This happens because you are no longer influenced by the baser emotions of lesser spirits – spirits who have not yet discovered how to leave the Lower Zone for the brightness and heights of heaven. Their radiations of ill-conceived adventures will no longer enthrall you … ill-gotten gains are not welcomed in your new state.
Only by being responsible for your construction of your moral authority, directed by your conscience in concert with God will you be able to make the big push to your ascendancy. Freeing yourself of doubt in the pursuit of goodness is a life-changing event. You shall be a wholly different person. A person with a noble aim and countenance.
The spirit Joanna lays out the ramifications of reaching this state:
“Whatever you resolve, without analyzing it deeply, will become truth to you.
Believing it to be true, you will see it as real.
You need to submit your beliefs to the test of reason to see which ones can endure the scalpel of logic and common sense.
Therefore any criticisms and reproaches leveled at you ought not disrupt you and throw you off balance.
First of all, draw up your action plan and make up your mind to carry it out. Shielding yourself with the ideal you have espoused, press on.
Do not argue over your plans and aspirations with the world’s owners of the truth, especially those who are particularly close to you, because those individuals are unwilling to understand you, let alone help you.
The majority of them are passionate combatants for their own transitory truths, which they do not give up because they are belligerent. Consequently, they become severe criticizers, aggressive sentinels and forceful fighters against others.
Pay them no mind. If you disregard their senseless opinions against you, their slanderous references and acidic comments, none of it can touch you.
But if you do heed them, they will become truths that trouble you and disrupt your progress, although you have a destiny to reach.
The truth gives balance; it stimulates order and respect for the ideas of others.
Fulfill your commitments, unconcerned with what others think about you, your actions, your life. You are free to act, but remember you are a slave to what you do, reaping as you have sown. The rest is unimportant, unless you decide to make it important.
The truth always satisfies. So, let its power pervade you, and carry on tranquilly, supported by it.”[v]
Live your truth, interpret the actions and ideas of others through your truth. Give them your dispassionate opinion fashioned by your truth. And above all, love, simply love everyone for who they are, wherever they fall on the spiritual maturity scale – for one day they too shall become a perfect spirit.
Learn about the spirit realm, your place in it and how we are guided to the path of learning. Read my series of three books.
[i] Franco, Divaldo, Times of Health and Conscientiousness, Leal Publisher, pp. 132-133
[ii] Franco, Divaldo, Life: Challenges and Solutions, Leal Publisher, pp. 148-149
[iii] Xavier, F.C., Thought & Life, Roundtable Publishing Limited, pp. 43-44
[iv] Xavier, F.C., The Way, the Truth and the Life, EDICEI, p. 173
[v] Franco, Divaldo, Times of Health and Conscientiousness, Leal Publisher, pp. 48-49