According to the spirit Emmanuel, this quote isn’t trying to tell us to just survive until we die, but to live life with a goal and don’t waver in its pursuit. Emmanuel elaborated on the message in the New Testament:
“When the Master applauded persistence, he was referring to the arduous task of those striving for excellence on the spiritual path.
It is necessary to eliminate false notions of unearned favors from the Divinity.
No one will be able to avoid with impunity the amount of effort required in the endeavor for self improvement.
The doors of heaven are wide open. They have never been closed. However, in order for people to rise to such a height, they need wings of love and wisdom. For this purpose, the Supreme Lord grants an abundance of merciful material to all his children and confers on each one the duty of molding it. Such a task, however, requires tremendous effort. In order to conclude it, days and lifetimes are required. Many lose heart and prefer to remain at a standstill for centuries on end in the labyrinth of the lower spheres; nevertheless, good workers know how to persevere until they reach the divine objectives of the earthly path as they continue on a sublime trajectory towards perfection.”[i]
Spiritual self-improvement is not accomplished easily. It is not a votive message per day or a poster hung on the wall. Effort and dedication is required. Hence, guidance through prayer or meditation is needed to light the road ahead toward spiritual wisdom.
Daily work to earn what is necessary to live and survive takes commitment and discipline. With it, the rewards of physical life are attainable – housing, food, security, and times of leisure. Spiritual growth comes with a different set of rewards – contentment, peace, calmness, happiness, and satisfaction.
And these are the outcomes while on earth. But, more importantly the honors of ascending up the levels of heaven … living life as a spirit amongst untold wonders and creating your own environment of constant discovery and friendships in a plane of support and love are rewards far surpassing anything attainable on earth.
Result of an Absence of Work toward Spiritual Growth
In the book Heaven and Hell, by Allan Kardec, he relates the invocation of the spirit of a twenty-five year old woman who had recently died. She was born into a relatively wealthy family and she had the reputation of spending her time on frivolous pursuits. She was a nice woman, not mean and also not inclined to spirituality. In other words, she was like most people. She existed on earth, and attempted to derive whatever pleasures she could without harming others. A good and decent young lady.
A group of mediums evoked her three days after she had died from an unknown cause. Her death was sudden, no one saw her suffer. When she was called to the mediums, she was extremely confused. She thought she was in a dream. She could see her parents and others in the household, but they couldn’t see her. She also felt herself to be two persons. She felt attached to her physical body and yet she knew she was in another form.
The group prayed for her and asked for assistance to be given. When she was evoked a few days later, she told the group:
“Thank you for having prayed for me. I have recognized the goodness of God, who has relieved me of the suffering and apprehension coming from the detachment of my spirit from my body. My poor mother will have a very difficult time resigning herself; however, she will be comforted. What to her eyes may seem like a misfortune was meant to occur and was indispensable so that the things of heaven might become to her what they really should be: everything. I will be at her side until the end of her earthly trial and I will help her bear it. I’m not unhappy, really, but I still have much to do to approach the state of the blessed. I will ask God to grant that I may return to the earth, for I must make up for the time I wasted during my last existence. May your faith uphold you, my friends. Trust in the effectiveness of prayer, especially when it comes from the heart. God is good.”[ii]
The young woman was regretful over her lack of spiritual direction. It was as if a person visited Paris, without ever touring the Louvre Museum, view the Eiffel Tower, enjoy the architecture, and only eat at McDonalds during their entire stay. While one could say they were in Paris, they didn’t experience or learn from Paris. The trip would have only been a change of location, without effect.
This is precisely what occurs to millions of souls who pass over every day. They had to travel long and hard through life. The ups and downs, and the chaos and order … all without profit. For they started their life the same as they ended it – the same character and personality.
This is not a fate you wish to suffer. Spiritism tells us that to be incarnated into a physical body on earth is a privilege. There are twofold more spirits on and around the earth waiting for a chance to come and use the opportunity for growth.
Work for Gain
But Jesus answered them. “My Father is working even now, and I work also.” (Jn. 5:17)
The spirit Emmanuel, in the book The Way, the Truth and the Life, psychographed by Chico Xavier, explored the feelings of humans on the planet about work:
“Everywhere we look, we see unhappy, complaining people.
Almost all of them are actually asking for help. Very few love the task they have been given. Most people complain about their job.
The problem, however, is not the job, but the understanding of the opportunity.
Usually, complaints in this regard are the product of an unconscious laziness. It is the innate desire to hold on to what is useless and ruinous from failures in the obscure past.
But Jesus came to save us from ‘dying in sin.’ He brought us the blessing of work, which is the unceasing activity of life. So that we may know how to honor our own endeavor, Jesus referred to the Father, who never stops working on his eternal endeavor of love and wisdom, and to his own task, which was replete with imperishable dedication to humankind.
So, when you feel tired, remember that Jesus is working. We started our humble undertaking only yesterday, but the Master has been toiling for us for how long?”[iii]
We are being trained to ingrain the habit of labor. This is the central meaning of what Emmanuel presented to us. To work is to keep busy, to learn, to help others, and help yourself. To remain idle is to accomplish nothing, assist no one, and to dwell on the fleeting pleasures of life.
Idleness is the root cause of much unhappiness for those who are trapped in its clutches. The poor souls who spend time on day dreams, without any foundation in reality, range from the inherited rich to the person receiving government money every month. Neither class has to work. And so they make the horrible decision to not work.
These small minority of people, for most people desire to be productive and actively seek out work, spend their time creating false narratives – whether conspiracy theories of why the world is against them, their status as a victim, or elaborate tapestries of a dream life coupled with legions of people who are halting their meteoric advance. They all exist in their own mind – their immature character and lack of wisdom snares them into a closed cycle of selfishness and pride.
They only need to shift their focus from themselves and onto others to start to be liberated from their fantasies. Hence, the spirit realm urges us to immerse ourselves in productive labor. By doing so, we take ourselves to the road to self-improvement.
It is peculiar that to not concentrate on ourselves we may start the path to perfection. But this peculiarity explains our place on earth and … most importantly, in the spirit realm. We are not isolated beings, we are part of a whole and as such we can’t grow alone, but only in concert with the sea of spirits around us.
The spirit Emmanuel explains the true environment in which we live. While many of us believe we are alone and disconnected from those around us – nothing could be further from the truth:
“The soul enters into resonance with the mental currents of souls who are in tune with it.
We assimilate the thoughts of those who think as we do. When we feel, visualize, speak or act, we are in tune with the emotions or ideas of all other persons, incarnate or discarnate who are on our wavelength.
We are constantly attracting or repelling mental energies that attach themselves to us. They will either strengthen us for good or for evil, according to the direction we choose.
In anything we do or plan, or any opinion we give, we are always the sum of many people.
We are the expressions of thousands of persons and thousands of persons express us.
Desire is the lever that acts upon our feelings. It generates the energy we use in accordance with our will.”[iv]
Hence, only by working, side by side with others, who are focusing their energies on positive outcomes, can we tap into the stream of consciousness that will serve to bring greater focus and will power to our own ratiocination processes. In effect, we use the power transmission of outside forces to work the lathe to hone our skill to fashion and control our thoughts.
Existing in isolation is like a madman shouting at the people on a crowded sidewalk. All of his energy is dispersed, without any effect. On the other hand, utilizing the mental transmissions of others allows us to rationally gather our ideas and fashion a megaphone to target our voice to be widely heard and acted upon.
This is what work teaches us. To plan, focus, act, and measure our progress. And all of this occurs in a dense atmosphere of mental images and thoughts swirling around us. As we learn to harness our brain, we also learn the ability to filter out harmful thoughts which deter us from our objective.
This is part of the training we are expected to absorb while on earth.
Use of Prayer
We are not without support in our educational process. Prayer and meditation is our channel to request guidance and assistance. The spirit world has and will continue to invest time and effort on our behalf. Who knows how many thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years that we have been gestating toward becoming a productive and useful spirit.
Prayer is so much more than commonly thought. Our prayers are heard, analyzed, and acted upon by a legion of spirits. Prayers are directed to different levels within heaven according to the need and complexity of the request.
The Rev. G. Vale Owen, in his communications with high spirits, exposed entire complexes, staffed by spirits, whose job was to intercept and send our prayers onward to the correct recipient. Prayers are not lost in the ether, they are real and actionable. Prayers are precious reminders of our growth on the physical plane to the army of spirits under the direction of Christ.
Emmanuel, lays out what praying means:
“Prayer is a Divine Journey of the mirror of our soul aiming towards the Higher Realm, in order to reflect its greatness.
Imagine a mirror turned towards the sun to reflect its brightness into a dark pit.
This is essentially the function of prayer as it reaches Divine Love and concentrates its light upon the ignorance and suffering, misery and hatred present in the world.
There are varying degrees of prayer which begin from the simplest desire of the lowest beings up to those of divinely exalted angels. Nothing is done on Earth without the desire of an aspiration that guides the steps of all creatures.
Throughout the Planet, prayer is the motion that sustains the cosmic tapestry. In the oceans, the ebb and flow of tides perpetuate their own equilibrium; in the plant world, it is the yearning to reach the light to assimilate its elements. In the animal kingdom, it is the instinct of curiosity and inquiry that mark the basic sign of reason; and in Man, it is his natural concentration before any useful enterprise along the human path.”[v]
Emmanuel describes the healing and usefulness of prayer. Prayer is the conduit of love to us from God. Through our aspirations we become connected to the spirit realm and others on our planet. With this connection, our actions, and goals are revealed. Our future can be interpolated to determine if we are following the established blueprint for our life – which was created before our birth.
Spiritism doesn’t just generalize about prayer, it delivers the details. Spiritism lifts the covers to explain how prayer actually works for our benefit. Emmanuel illustrates how prayer functions in our daily life:
“When the professor plans his lesson and the physician concentrates on a remedy for a certain ailment, when an administrator devises a program to carry out a task, and the engineer works attentively on the blueprints for a certain project, in fact all are using a form of prayer. They are reflecting on their mental screen from their past education, the science of healing, legislation and the progress that flows from the invisible plane with abstract images before manifesting to the world.
To pray is to align oneself with the greatest source of power in the Universe, to absorb its riches and to reflect the laws of permanent renewal that govern the foundations of life.
Prayer gives a spark to the hidden energies of the heart and releases them by the living and image forming power of thought. In turn these images ascend to the Higher Spheres, touching the minds of both visible and invisible entities around us. As a result of this contact, we will receive answers from the Divine Plane, for the All-Merciful Father manifests Himself through His children who express His divine goodness.
When a person turns to prayer, they touch responsive hearts. Such contact produces reflexes of enlightenment. Through them the Spirit silently receives the influx of the Divine Messengers in the form of inspiration and inner help. These are the sublime servants who assist with the soul’s evolution, renewing emotions and thoughts through which one progresses.
The process of prayer is the highest means of interchange between Earth and Heaven.”[vi]
Without prayer, without thoughts, we are simply automatons who were born and are destined to return our elements to the earth. But with prayer, we are connected to the entire spirit universe. We exit this planet with our spirit form ennobled … ready for the next challenge.
Unification of Prayer and Work
In the book Spiritual Wisdom: Missives of Hope, Jose Herculano Pires provided further interpretation about each of the messages received during mediums meetings led by Chico Xavier. These selected messages were printed in a Brazilian newspaper with commentary from Mr. Pires.
In one message there is a poem about the required difficulties of our trials on earth. In his quest to provide a more exhaustive explanation, Jose Herculano Pires brilliantly described the needed synergy between work and prayer:
“Earth is a field of trials; and human life is a stage of apprenticeship on this field. We have trials and hardships, which are different from one another. Trials are means of learning whereas hardships are consequences of our past, atonement of the mistakes we made in previous lives. If we are here, it is because we need these experiences; and if we are aware that we requested our trials and tribulations while in the spiritual world, then we should understand that we asked for them because our need was dire.
Guided by the good spirits, the incarnate spirit sees its inferior situation in the spiritual world with exactitude; and it knows that its true and definite world is the spiritual not the earthly one. The struggling spirit understands that earthly existence is temporary and that its sole objective is to prepare the interexistent for the true and permanent life. When on Earth, the spirit is not entitled to complaining, and it must face its problems and be grateful to God for the opportunities of acquittance, reparation, and progress that are granted.
If the incarnate spirit does not proceed in this way, it is because it is entranced by the illusions of the physical plane, which causes it to lose the spiritual vision of its real objective during corporeal life. However, sincere prayer is a resource that the spirit has at its disposal to ask for assistance from the friends on the other side. And every sincere prayer, every legitimate request, soon receives its answers through intuition, a warning that seems to derive from the spirit’s own consciousness, or even through a friendly message conveyed by the human telegraphy of mediumship.
No one comes to Earth to enjoy perfect happiness, which we can only experience in the spiritual world or in the superior worlds of the infinite cosmos. Happiness on Earth consists precisely in having the opportunity to face our trials and atonements with strength and determination, and without lamentation as The Gospel According to Spiritism instructs us in the item mentioned above. As Jesus taught us, truly happy individuals are only those who are successful in the world towards their elevation to the superior stances of the true life, which is the spiritual one.”[vii]
We are on earth for a reason – to grow, to educate ourselves. In order to accomplish this objective, we must follow the course of events laid down for us. We must follow and expand in wisdom from one episode to the next; we must work and ask for guidance. We ask for assistance through prayer and meditation.
We receive our messages from the spirit world via many avenues. Dreams, visions, intuitions, synchronicities, and other means are all employed by the spirit world to herd us onto the right path – the road to the light. It’s not easy and isn’t meant to be.
Nevertheless, strive we must and never falter, for the fruits of victory are sweet beyond our earthly comprehension. The journey is won by putting one foot in front of the other. Never stopping, feeling sorry for yourself as little as possible, and laboring to pull yourself out of one predicament after another with minimal whining and complaining.
While those who leave their physical body, who are still attached to earth, will watch their precious possessions rot and decay; you will return to the spirit realm with your sparking achievements, improved character, and bright reflections from the love instilled in you; you shall know the battle was worth fighting. Only then can you help those who are tethered to the planet find their stride as you found yours.
[i] Xavier, F. C., Our Daily Bread, EDICEI, pp. 85-86
[ii] Kardec, A., Heaven and Hell, International Spiritist Council, p. 325
[iii] Xavier, F.C., The Way, the Truth and the Life, EDICEI, pp. 21-22
[iv] Xavier, F.C., Thought & Life, Roundtable Publishing Limited, pp. 35-36
[v] Xavier, F.C., Thought & Life, Roundtable Publishing Limited, pp. 95-96
[vi] Xavier, F.C., Thought & Life, Roundtable Publishing Limited, p. 96
[vii] Xavier, F. C., Pires, J. H. Spiritual Wisdom: Missives of Hope, Spiritist Alliance for Books, pp. 88-89