Perseverance is the secret to a fulfilled life. We all know this, for we learned it as a child, and we have mostly ignored it since. Our culture of rapid gratification – internet pages must load within two seconds – movies must have action before the opening credits – all promote the abandonment of any pursuit that encounters the smallest obstacle or delay.
We understand that most successful people are those who don’t give up. They continue striving in the face of repeated failures. In fact, they gather experience from their failures, which allows them to more expertly surmount hurdles placed in their path.
One of the most famous stories of perseverance is of Robert the Bruce. He declared himself to be King of Scotland in 1306. He fought the English for years to drive them out of the country. During one particular low point in his struggles, he found himself alone in a dreary cave on the island of Rachrin.
His brother had been caught and executed and his wife was held captive by the English. He was in despair. His fortunes couldn’t be lower. As he sat in the cave, hiding from the English, he thought of giving up. Then he spotted a spider trying to weave a web. The spider attempted to jump from one ledge to another so he could begin the web’s construction.
Robert watched intently. He saw the spider fail six times, which was the number of times he had battled the enemy. He told himself that if the spider was successful on the next try, then he too would once more gird himself for battle. The spider leaped and was able to connect to the other side. Robert went on to defeat the English and drive them out of Scotland.
Everything was against this brave King. He had lost repeatedly. His closest family were either dead or in prison. Yet, he had a goal in mind … he struggled on.
The spirit world wishes us to struggle on too. They well realize we shall encounter implacable foes and lose battles in our quest for true spirituality and understanding of our place on earth. But we must not let defeat deter us.
The spirit Joanna de Angelis supplies the definition of perseverance:
“Perseverance entails tenacity and persistence in the endeavor one is undertaking or plans to undertake, such that the course is not interrupted. Even when challenges manifest, firmness of decision on what one will carry out instills more interest in the process, helping one to finish the project without discouragement taking hold and working against it.
Only with perseverance can one shape one’s ambitions to one’s acts, making them accomplishable, materializing them, especially those of lofty moral character, the ones that result in blessings for the spirit.”[i]
The key phrase, which highlights the vast difference between the physical and spiritual universes is “materializing them”. In our world, actual physical labor is always required for any task, even if that means just typing code via a keyboard. Whereas, in the spirit realm, thought is the impetus for action.
Hence, the quest to build a new house is painstaking for us on earth – we must design, earn money for the materials and labor, buy and deliver the resources, take the wood, nails, roofing, etc., and begin building – all with our sweat. In the spirit realm, a high spirit may gather a group of friends, agree on the design and then construct the edifice by the power of their minds.
Therefore, given the added effort to accomplish a task on the physical plane, acquiring persistence is required and will be of great benefit when we return to the spirit universe. Because, high spirits don’t only create houses to live in, but as spirits continue their ascent, they begin to build planets, and direct the evolution of life over the span of countless eons.
Joanna, in the book Life: Challenges and Solutions, tells us more about the quality we should acquire:
“The effort to persevere at lofty objectives is an achievement of the awakened conscience, objectives that lift individuals from intellectual and moral parasitism to the level where countless, dormant, inner resources bloom just waiting to be awakened by the will.
Like any other type of conditioning, perseverance is the result of the persistence individuals impose on themselves to achieve the objectives that promote and dignify them. There is no one devoid of perseverance or who is incapable of achieving it, because it results only from the desire that becomes an actual attempt, to be accomplished by continuous action.
From the acquisition of patience, and then perseverance – which completes it – one proceeds to self-confidence, i.e. to the certainty about existing possibilities that may be used for fulfilling one’s inner longings. Fear vanishes, along with the self-punishing, self-afflicting mechanisms that disrupt the individual’s evolution.
With self-confidence, the will is controlled by a healthy mind, which discerns what one should and can do, what one’s objectives in life on earth are, and how to mature emotionally and psychology to confront the vicissitudes, difficulties and problems that make up part of one’s inner growth.”[ii]
Perseverance is the springboard toward faith. Faith that is built upon strong foundations, upon ideals cemented by patience and persistence. True faith bolsters one’s self-confidence and erases doubts. I am not speaking of blind faith, where followers believe in whatever is told to them like a fanatic, without introspection and analysis, but of an intellectual certainty that can withstand the immense pressures of modern society and rampant materialism. Faith that can stay true, with love for all and without imposing ideals upon others who are not ready.
Faith is Power in the Spirit Realm
Since thought is action in the spirit universe, certainty of thought is the accelerator to control the engine. An idea alone does nothing. It must be backed up by a focused beam of will power.
The spirit Zabdiel defines what “faith” actually means in the spirit world:
“’According to your faith be it unto you.’ This stands a promise of power today as when He first said it; and it may be claimed with full assurance of fulfillment. Only that faith must be present, and then the present enablement will be manifest, in ways diverse but with an uncertainty of cause and effect.
Now, this is not alone to you, but to us here in these sphere progressed and progressive. It is the acquiring of faith in exercise that we study to compass and, that gotten, we are powerful to help others, and ourselves to enjoy. For it is delight and pleasure to give, more than to receive, as He said.
But do not mistake the nature of faith in the using of it. In the earth life it is of indefinite quality as mostly understood – something between trustfulness and a right understanding of what is truth. But here, where we study all things as to their essence, we know that faith is more than this. It is power capable of scientific analysis, in a measure in correspondence with the progress made by any man.”[iii]
Faith in the spirit realm is power, raw power to create, transform, and destroy. Hence only those who have been rigorously trained and tested are allowed to weld such an instrument. This is why we are on earth … to learn how to control our minds, so one day we can manage this Divine Power … and the first step is to cultivate perseverance, so we may begin to climb the heights of spiritual authority.
The Stairs of Goodness
Goodness – what does it entail? And why should we keep doing good? Jose Herculano Pires, in the book Spiritual Wisdom: Missives of Hope, tells us in a section titled “The Stairs of Goodness”:
“Satre’s sentence is well known. ‘Hell is other people.’ However, Andre Luiz proposes the opposite: ‘Heaven is other people.’ When we understand well the need for social life, we learn that the obstacles are rings of a ladder we must climb. Such obstacles are precisely the other individuals for they are the ones who deny us the benefits we wish to attain, who try to divert us from our paths or use us as instruments for their personal gain at the expense of our own accomplishments.
But if we are in the physical life to develop our faculties and learn how to overcome difficulties, it is evident that obstacles are resources of which we avail ourselves for our improvement. An obstacle race is a valuable training ground to an athlete. We are nothing but athletes of the spirit developing our skills during life.
An athlete develops muscles, agility, and equilibrium. The spirit advances the intelligence, thought, understanding, and love. But without others along the way, we would not have the opportunity of practicing. As it is, we are forced to find other means of behavior to the extent of our failures in social relationships. Therefore, when we treat others as our brothers and sisters, as opposed to adversaries, we are able to overcome the obstacles.
God is supreme goodness, and the others represent the rungs of the ladder that leads us to Him. By thinking of God and promoting goodness to others we will be climbing the stairs to true success. We must nullify today the consequences of the evil we embraced in the past for those reactions are what entangle us. Let us learn presently to do good to others and the Creator will reciprocate with the good of others on our behalf.”[iv]
Jose Herculano Pires brilliantly explained our plight here on earth in four paragraphs. What we think of as punishment and frustration brought on by other people who don’t submit to our desires, or even worse, actively thwart our plans – are, in actuality, the course material we so sorely require for self-improvement.
Think back to when you were a student. You were assigned a book to read. You read it with great reluctance, lamenting the time wasted, when you could be doing something fun. You read the book deep enough, just to get a passing grade … no more, no less.
After the test was completed, the knowledge was discarded, never to be retrieved again. Whatever the teacher wished to convey with the book was lost upon you. But, there were a few, or maybe one lone student, who truly absorbed the book and couldn’t wait to express their amazement at the gems hidden inside. You and others quickly shut them down, or shamed them to remain quiet. You didn’t want to hear their ramblings. Your focus was on other things. More immediate pleasures to be experienced.
The lone student who was able to learn from the book was like an annoying mosquito that you tried to bat away and forget about. While you went on to satisfy your desires. Nevertheless, there was a small spark of recognition that you may have missed something, which only served to increase your disdain for the person who found the buried treasure.
That is our life on earth. Most of the lessons placed in front of us are dismissed as temporary problems, which should be resolved quickly and efficiently. And, if possible, the cause of the trouble must be eliminated.
Jose Herculano Pires exposes the wrongness of this approach. Each assignment, each obstacle, each difficult person is a wall that must be climbed. We can’t go around, through, or stop in our tracks. The very act of facing the hurdle and dealing with its consequences, fairly and honestly, is precisely the lesson we need.
One cannot express enough the difficulty of adhering of embracing the boulders on your path and dealing with them in a fraternal and helpful manner. Nothing is more challenging in your life than this.
Preparing for an expedition to Mount Everest is child’s play compared to the deep well you must create of love, empathy, understanding, and compassion to utilize the resources you shall desperately need as you encounter and attempt to solve your problems with goodness in mind.
Jose Herculano Pires, in the last sentence of his “The Stairs of Goodness”, states that as we perform acts of goodness, others will equally assist us in our endeavors.
As we strive to improve, spirits from heaven lend us a hand. They are there to plant suggestions to those who could help us and to block possible negative actions. As we walk on the path of the light, we become part of a virtuous cycle, where positive acts begat more.
There is more. Benefits are not only for your current life but for future lives. As one embarks upon the road of love, subsequent physical existences are composed of mainly edifying episodes. Periods of tragedy and pain are greatly reduced.
In the book Planetary Transition, by the spirit Manoel Philomeno De Maranda, psychographed by Divaldo Franco, there are communications detailing the arrival of advanced spirits from another star system. They resided on a “Happy World”, a planet a level ahead of a planet of regeneration, which is the next destination of the earth – we are a planet of atonement, where spirits learn from past errors by repairing their mistakes and improving their character.
Scores of spirits volunteered to be reborn on earth to help lead the human race to a more civilized plateau, where hate, envy, disease, and poverty are vastly reduced or eradicated. These missionaries, who have led virtuous and productive lives, will not be subjected to the type of atoning dramas so prevalent in our lives.
The spirit Manoel, reports on the life plan of these self-sacrificing souls, who come to earth to speed us on our planet’s path to a globe of regeneration:
“Bringing from the dimension whence they came the treasures they had acquired in the process of evolution, they were not exiled for the purpose of rehabilitation, but were volunteers of love contributing to the happiness of the human lives amongst whom they would be reborn.
Therefore in most cases the care with regard to rebirths was limited to the genetic contributions from their future parents so that the candidates’ perispirits could mold their intellectual and moral needs, experiencing the environment conjectures, but also developing their commitments without major impediments resulting from their organic machinery.”[v]
Hence, their superior level, allows their perispirit (that which envelops the physical body and connects to the spirit mind) to alter and supplement the cells comprising the embryo to conform to their intellectual and physical desires to the limits of the genetic material supplied by the parents.
Since, their past lives have been pristine, there is no need to experience hard trials of reparation for past misdeeds. Their lives will be free of tragedies and major diseases. If you have ever encountered people who have lived a “charmed life”, never having excessive drama or catastrophic health issues – they could well be spirits from superior planets who have graciously accepted a mission to come to earth to be a beacon of righteousness and love.
Living a life of honesty, fraternity, and compassion, results in a future life plan absent of personal disasters, unless you yourself desire to improve a specific character attribute. That is not to say, your future life will be free of conflict, for besides atoning for past mistakes, we, as immature spirits, still need to acquire certain life skills. Always keep in mind, your education, as well as your life, stretches out for eternity!
The Rule of Helping
The spirit Neio Lucio, in the book Jesus in the Home, wrote about different conversations Jesus held with his disciples in Peter’s and other’s houses. In one chapter, titled “The Rule of Helping”, Jesus was asked how to help others and allow them to retain their dignity. Jesus responded thusly:
“John, if you are seeking a rule of thumb by which to help others while at the same time helping yourself, remember to love your companions of the earthly journey as much as you would like to be loved and helped by them.
Under the pretext of fostering the truth, don’t make your life a battle in which your feet walk the earth like a fierce warrior in the desert. Remember that most ill persons already realize to some degree what their illness is, and so they need friendship and understanding more than they need medicine.
Bear in mind that there’s not one soul on earth who doesn’t have difficult problems to resolve; because of this, learn to show fraternal courtesy toward all of them.
Welcome your travel companions not merely with the greeting suggested by the rules of etiquette, but also with the warmth of your sincere desire to serve.
Gaze into the eyes of people as they talk to you, observing their kind interest, and always be a tactful and attentive listener. Don’t raise your voice too loudly, because the certainty and serenity with which the most serious of matters should be dealt does not depend upon how loudly they are discussed.
Refrain from taking part in futile conversations, undignified comments are always a criminal invasion into personal matters.
Praise those who are industrious, and even when faced with those who are evil and lazy, try to exalt the good they are capable of doing.
Flee pessimism, but wisely keep up your guard when dealing with individuals who are enterprising in carrying out respectable yet fleeting business in the world. Unproductive melancholy, which knows only how to complain, has never been useful to Humankind, who is in need of good spirits.
Make daily use of the shiny key of a friendly smile. It is with a spontaneous gesture of kindness that we can ward off many crimes and erase many wrongs.
Do your best to always be punctual; don’t make your friends wait for you, so that you are not attributed a false sense of importance.
Give thanks for all the blessings along the way, acknowledging both the large ones and the small ones. If the sun provides warmth for life, the grain of wheat provides our daily bread.
Allow the living, invisible waters of Love that proceed from God Our Father flow through your heart to benefit the realm of struggle in which you live. Love is the divine force that enriches life and bestows power.
Above all, let us do the best we can to aid in the happiness and spiritual growth of everyone around us; not just here, but everywhere; not just today, but always.”[vi]
Christ gave a tall order to John. John asked how could he fulfill all of this? Christ told him to keep goodwill always in the forefront of whatever he does.
When one reads the passage above, it sounds challenging but doable to keep yourself on the path of love and assistance. But live through one day and see how many times the rules are violated.
As I wrote down what Christ told John, I found numerous instances where I failed, just the day before! At work I raised my voice. I didn’t realize it until someone told me afterward. I wasn’t tactful, instead I gave orders. I was pessimistic and I certainly didn’t make use of a friendly smile, when I should have. All failures in only a twelve hour period! I am happy to report that when I was asleep I was perfect.
We are creatures of habit, the routines we enact, the interactions with people, and even the tone of voice we use in specific circumstances. This is why the perseverance of goodness is a herculean task for those of us far from spiritual perfection.
All we can do is to start and measure our progress each day and resolve to be better the next. Little by little we shall improve. I know that I am much better than before I had found Spiritism. Unfortunately, I still have a long way to travel, since I was (and am) full of pride and too aggressive when I want something done. But, slowly the hard edges are being smoothed. Hopefully, one day in a future life, I can approach the true persistence of goodness and effectively assist those around me.
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, Life: Challenges and Solutions, Leal Publishing, p. 116
[ii] Franco, Divaldo, Life: Challenges and Solutions, Leal Publishing, pp. 116-117
[iii] Owen, G. Vale, The Life Beyond the Veil, Square Circles Publishing, p. 257
[iv] Xavier, F. C., Pires, J. H. Spiritual Wisdom: Missives of Hope, Spiritist Alliance for Books, pp. 53-54
[v] Franco, Divaldo, Planetary Transition, Leal Publishing, pp. 163-164
[vi] Xavier, F.C., Jesus in the Home, EDICEI, pp. 113-114