The Spiritist Centre and its Spiritual Dimension
The Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, the first genuine spiritist centre in our world, was the guiding focus of the spiritist nuclei which emerged afterwards in different countries
According to Deolindo Amorim, in1850 about 300 spiritist groups already existed in the United States. However the first society duly constituted under the aegis of the Spiritist Doctrine was the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, founded by Kardec on 1st April 1858.
Spiritism was born, as we know, in the intimacy of family nuclei. Professor Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail had attended many meetings in private homes (Mrs. Plainemaison, Mr Roustan and Mr Baudin etc..) before founding the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, which became the guiding focus of other groups that emerged in France and other countries.
Its origin was, however, exclusively moral.
The Concept of the Spiritist Centre
The spiritist centre is the cell for the dissemination of Spiritism and of the reconciliation of its followers, where they have contact with the renewal message from the Consoler. A visual point of convergence of the movement, it is, in the words of Emmanuel, "a school where we teach and learn, grow and collect the good graces towards ourselves, improve ourselves and improve our fellow creatures, on the eternal path ".
J. Herculano Pires, referring to the spiritist centre, said: "We can figure it as a concave mirror in which all philosophic (spiritual) activities are reflected and come together, projecting themselves as combined in the social plan, be it spiritist and non spiritist". A closed spiritist centre is not acceptable nowadays, closed in its four walls, which Leopoldo Machado called “spiritism of the dead", when he advocated that we made spiritism of the "living".
The spiritist centre should take on the characteristics of Temple, Home, Hospital, School and Workshop. Emmanuel asserts: "When you open the doors of a Spiritist Christian temple or of a domestic shrine that is dedicated to the worship of the Gospel, a divine light illuminates the darkness of human ignorance and through the beneficent rays of the star of brotherhood and knowledge, that shines for the good of the community, men who are within its vicinity, even if do not wish to, move without realizing it, towards a better life" ("Reform" January 1951).
The Purposes of the Spiritist Centre
This is the essential function of the Spiritist Doctrine; to operate the spread of the Spiritist Doctrine for the renewal of man, whose purposes are derived from the core nature of study, fellowship, prayer and work, based on the Gospel of Jesus interpreted in the light of the Spiritist Doctrine. The centre should be the home of the greater family, where children, youths, adults and the elderly have the opportunity to socialize, study and work. The more stable centres are those in which the whole family participates, where the activities of adults, young people and children are integrated. Thus these centres form a large family, which is to reunite families that work in them.
As a school for the souls that spiritist centres should be, where prayer is always present in the process, it is up to the spiritist centre to promote the education of men, the systematic study of the Spiritist Doctrine and the Gospel, the evangelization of the child in the light of the Spiritist Doctrine, the integration of young people in the tasks of the Centre, the study of mediumship, the fraternal assistance to people who seek the Centre and the establishment of the cult of the Gospel in the home.
It must have as its target the spiritual man, before the physical man, preparing him to be a good man in the social environment in which he is. Systematic study is an excellent tool for staff training for the Centre (aka spiritist house). The study of mediumship aims to offer reliable guidance for mediumistic activities. The dialogue with people, the direct contact with the participants of the Centre in order to know what they want to do; is also an essential activity.
The spiritual centre is also a place of spiritual and material help. Its work in the field of care is based on the motto: "Without Charity there is no salvation". In this sense, it is up to the spiritist house to promote spiritist social welfare service, ensuring its charitable, preventive and promotional characteristics, combining spiritual and material help and making sure that this service is developed concurrently with meeting the needs of evangelization.
If Spiritism is opposed by the different Christian religions with respect to the doctrine (in the meaning of philosophy) that teaches, it is tolerated, respected and even helped in the field of social welfare, where it develops an important role. We have to understand, however, that charity, as conceptualized in question number 886 of work “The Spirits’ Book” - kindness to all, indulgence for the imperfections of others, forgiveness of offences - is something that transcends mere almsgiving and assistance. We must bear in mind that, in the spiritist task, we must be aware that the goal is the evangelization of the person, and that the other activities are simply means.
The Spiritist Centre and Unification
Within the activities of the order of spiritist unification, the Spiritist Centre is a fundamental unit. Allan Kardec was, as it is known, the first to conceive the need for unification when he proposed that the centres kept each other informed, exchanged information and visited each other, forming a great spiritist family (The Mediums’ Book, chapter 29, item 334).
Indeed, how to assess the concordance and the universality of the teachings without a catalytic centre? The very own elaboration of the Spiritist Philosophy, the reason that led Kardec to propose in his "1868 Project", the existence of a coordination centre for the spiritist movement. Later on, in a message given through Frederick Jr., Kardec emphasized three items of the spiritist action to be developed by spiritist centres: the unification, the school of mediums and charity.
Also in this sense is the following warning from Bezerra de Menezes: "With solidarity, we will be union. Separated from each other, we will be points of view. Together, we will achieve the fulfillment of our purposes. Distant from each other, we will continue looking for the work with which we have already found ourselves honoured by Divine Providence "(psychographic message by Chico Xavier, in “Unification" from Nov. / Dec. 1980).
It is, therefore, up to the spiritist centre to effectively participate in the movement for unification, and join experiences and efforts with other local and regional centres of the movement, which has to be inherently democratic, since it has no power to impose one’s will on others. The book "Guidelines for the Spiritist Centre” published by FEB, based on a text approved by federal national Council, is an example, as a result compiled from broad discussion carried out by Spiritist Centres and regional organizations of the spiritist movement.
The spiritist centre that is closed in upon itself has no means to evolve, due to the lack of exchange of ideas, experiences and interaction; as the united Centres are capable of projecting themselves in society.
The Spiritist centre and social changes
The solution of social problems, Kardec writes in "Genesis" (Ch. XVIII, item 25), is all in the moral improvement of individuals and the masses. It is not Spiritism that creates social renewal, but the maturing of humanity that will make it a necessity.
In "The Mediums’ Book", chapter 29, item 350, Kardec wrote: "If Spiritism is, as it was announced, to bring a transformation of humanity, this may only be for the improvement of the masses, which may happen gradually and little by little, just for the betterment of individuals". And later on, in the same item, the Codifier proposes: "It is for a providential end that all serious spiritists society must tend to, gathering around themselves all those who have the same feelings; then there will be unity, sympathy and brotherhood amongst them, and not a vain and puerile antagonism of self-love, of words rather than facts, then they will be strong and powerful, because they will be supported on an indestructible base: good for all."
The projection of the Spirit Centre in society is a function of the preparation of spiritist men as agents for change. The Spiritist Doctrine (philosophy) gives us a higher idea of God and shows, in essence what the purpose of life on Earth is. Spiritism substantiates (give evidence for) the afterlife, and thus that material life is no longer the only reality, removing from materialism its support base.
It is in the essence of Spiritism, and therefore, of the spiritist centre to wrestle constantly with materialism and its favourite child; selfishness which is the most radical addiction and the cause all the ills of society; disseminating Spiritism through books and all available means of communication.
The role of the spiritist centre is to place the Spiritist Doctrine within the reach of man in the intimacy of the family or in the social segments in which we live and campaign.
The Spirit Centre and Codification
The spiritist centre is the depositary of the principles of the Spiritist Philosophy and it cannot move away from the spiritist philosophy, otherwise Spiritism will suffer the same fate as Christianity. Bezerra de Menezes proposes to us: "It is essential to maintain Spiritism as it was delivered to Allan Kardec by the Divine Messengers, without political commitment, without religious professionalism, without depressing personalisms, and without burning for conquest of fleeting earthly powers" (psychographic message by Chico Xavier "The Reformer" of ten. 1975).
The adoption of exotic theories and practices or not in tune with the simplicity and purity of the spiritist tasks compromises its goal and disorients followers and those who are assisted. Here, for example, the case of Projectiology: there is no doubt as to its value, but is not a subject for the spiritist centre. As is the case with many other theories and practices alien to the philosophy (doctrine) codified by Allan Kardec.
The spiritist centre has sufficient resources to provide care to those who seek it with psychophysical problems: prayer, the laying on of hands healing, magnetized water, disobsession *, as well as essential evangelical-philosophic guidance. The Centre that seeks to strengthen the alternative processes of treatment and cure indicates a lack of faith in the therapy proposed by the Consoler.
The contribution brought by André Luiz (Spirit), especially in books that make up the series called "Astral City"(aka Nosso Lar), is a completion of the works of Kardec. His reports on the spiritual life are kind of follow up of the second part of the book entitled "Heaven and Hell". Kardec's work, however, is the basis of spiritist studies and Emmanuel wanted to demonstrate this by writing the books "Religion of the Spirits," "Harvest of Mediums", "Book of Hope" and "Divine Justice", around the basic works of the Kardekian codification, which constitute the "touchstone" in the field of Spiritism in order to avail ourselves here of an expression coined by Herculano Pires in the book "The Stone and the Weeds."
In the Spiritist Congress held by USE (Union of Spiritist Societies of São Paulo) in May 1992, a conclusion became striking: `the spiritist cause is greater than the spiritist house". The spiritist cause is the end; the spiritist house is the mean. But we generally reverse it, giving more importance to the House than the cause, or making concessions to keep the house, to the detriment of the cause. In this sense, the Centre should avoid the use of lotteries, raffles, bazaars, bingos and other ill-advised means to raise money. The world of Caesar has its requirements, but we cannot forget that at the Spiritist Centre we are at the service of God. We cannot accept, therefore, the claim that the end justifies the means.
The Spirit Centre and the Triple aspect
The three aspects of Spiritism - science, philosophy and religion - should be studied in the spiritual centre, but the religious aspect plays a major role.
Scientific research can and should be done if the centre has people with the capacity, on specific days and meetings; to perform work in this area. But we should not forget that if we are applying the Spiritist Philosophy in the Centre we are at the same time practicing the scientific, the philosophical and religious aspect.
Consider this example: when a person loses a loved one and receives at the spiritual centre a spiritual message which proves that their loved one continues to live; this is due to the mediumistic phenomenon, which is the object of the spiritist science. The person then begins to reflect, seek information about the phenomenon and its causes, and is enriched with such thoughts: this is the philosophical aspect. Then, in the face of the new conception of life one has acquired, one changes his behaviour towards the world: then we have the religious aspect. The spiritist centre thus provides, fundamentally the practice of the three aspects, whose split was made by Kardec solely for didactic purposes.
The Organization and simplicity of the Spiritist Centre
The Spiritist Centre is characterized by the typical simplicity of the first houses of the nascent Christianity, without images, rituals, symbols, vestments, sacraments or manifestations, such as funerals, weddings and baptisms. In its simplicity, it should work as an educational and liberating element, eliminating mental conditionings and the ingrained habits that we bring from the past; recent or remote; with heightened vigilance in the philosophical and mediumistic practices, and keeping in mind that the end does not justify the means.
The spiritist centre should be organized not only to effectively develop its basic activities, but also to fulfil its legal obligations. As a guideline, it should adopt the departmental structure and the planning of activities. The departments cannot be watertight, but work together, exchanging experiences and ideas. The planning of activities is critical because it is the improvisation that often leads to route detours.
The direction of the spiritist centre must be democratic. There is no place for an autocratic leader within the spiritist environment, one who thinks he owns the institution and shields himself in the Spirits to justify his ideas. It is management-led, with the cooperation of the group due to its skill, patience, tolerance and honesty of purposes, which is more in line with the essentials of the Spiritist Philosophy.
* Disobsession: In Spiritism, the practice whereby mediums receive lost or perturbed spirits and whereby another member of the centre talks to the spirit in order to educate, evangelise or “indoctrinate” it. These lost or perturbing spirits are not necessarily linked to the specific victim, and the afflicted do not need to be present during the disobsession meeting. Frequently, though, victims are present an as a result, non Spiritists may refer to disobsession as “exorcism”( a word that Spiritist reject because it implies demons or other non human spirits) – note taken from the book entitled “Obsession, Passes, Counselling by J. Herculano Pires, translated by Jussara Korngold and Marie Levinson
Astolfo O. de Oliveira filho
Translation: Renata Rinaldini
Source O Consolador