por Ely Matos and Ricardo Baesso de Oliveira

Teaching Spiritism: A Language for the 21st Century Part 1

The dynamics of speech, communication techniques and ways of presenting and disseminating ideas portray their time and evolve like all things. Thus, it is necessary to reflect on whether the teaching and dissemination of Spiritism has been adapted to the language of the new society, referred to by some as post-industrial or post-modern.

Seeking to promote meditations on the theme, we present in this text some proposals, with the objective of motivating reflections. The care with the presentation of the Spiritist Doctrine dates back to Allan Kardec. The Encoder of Spiritism recorded, in the first part of The Book of Mediums (The Method), the need to evaluate the way in which the teaching of the Spiritist Doctrine is best administered, in order to lead more safely to conviction.

Our proposals refer to the following items and are developed throughout the text:

1. Presentation format

2. Content of the speech

3. The Gospel Lessons

4. Accuracy of information

5. Kardec as a priority

6. Subsidiary works

7. Use of reason

8. Responsibility for life

9. The question of merit

10. Indulgence with others

11. Optimistic language

12. Social issues

13. Limited knowledge

14. The danger of boasting

15. Relationship with sciences and religions

16. The diversity of Spiritists.


1. Presentation format

Spiritist exhibitions should be shorter, with space for the active participation of the public. Participants must not only propose questions, but also provide ideas and comments. An active speech space motivates the listener to express their thoughts without fear of criticism or mockery. The one who speaks needs to hear to know better. The listener always has something to say and his speech makes the dialogue more dynamic, which maximizes the evolution of knowledge.

The Book of Mediums, item 18:

Not only what is given from the pulpit or the rostrum constitutes teaching. There is also that of simple conversation. The one who seeks to persuade another, whether through the process of explanations or through experiences, also teaches.

2. Content of the speech

The speech (both written and spoken) should be simpler and more objective, less formal, less elaborate, with words and terms suitable for the audience. Long evangelical descriptions or extensive reports of facts and stories, which take up a long time in speech, should be avoided. It is necessary to carefully assess the need to present historical data, dates and classical quotations, which demonstrate erudition but add almost nothing to the collective clarification.

The Book of Spirits, item 627:

The teaching of the Spirits has to be clear and unambiguous, so that no one can claim ignorance and so that everyone can judge and appreciate it with reason.

The Book of Mediums, item 267:

Superior Spirits express themselves simply, without prolixity. They have a concise style, without excluding poetry from ideas and expressions, of course, intelligible to everyone, without requiring any effort to be understood. They have the art of saying many things in a few words, because every word is used exactly.

3. The Gospel Lessons

The Gospel lessons are complementary to the moral teaching of the Spiritist Doctrine. As Kardec did, it is necessary to transpose Jesus from Palestine from the beginnings of the Christian era and bring him to the present time, putting Him together with the tormented and little enlightened man of our days. The lessons, passages and parables of the Gospel must be contextualized and explained from the fundamental principles of Spiritism, as Kardec did in The Gospel According to Spiritism.

The Gospel according to Spiritism - Introduction

The essential thing was to put Him [Jesus] within the reach of all, through the explanation of obscure passages and the unfolding of all the consequences, with a view to the application of the teachings to all conditions of life.

The Book of Spirits, item 627:

Jesus often used allegories and parables in His language, because He spoke in accordance with times and places. It is necessary now that the truth be made intelligible to everyone.

4. Accuracy of information

Care and rigor are required when passing on information from other fields of study and other disciplines, such as Biology, Psychology, Anthropology, Physics, among others. We must avoid submitting erroneous or outdated data from unreliable sources. In case of doubt, it is preferable to omit the information: we cannot, in Spiritist studies, present incorrect information.

The Book of Spirits, Introduction, item 13:

The study of Spiritism is immense; it concerns all questions of metaphysics and social order; it is a world that opens before us. Is it any wonder that it takes time, a long time?

Spiritist Magazine, December/1867

[...] light cannot become shadow; the truth cannot become error(Arago)

Spiritist Magazine, November/1859

[...] such publications have the inconvenience of misleading people who are not in a position to examine them and discern the true from the false. The mistake of some authors is to write about a subject before they have gone into it sufficiently.

5. Kardec as a priority

It is necessary to present Kardec in a priority, rigorous, attentive and careful way. However, it is necessary to observe the scientific and philosophical context of his time; many analyzes made by Kardec are dated, that is, they consider the knowledge and culture existing in Europe in the mid-19th century. It is also important to consider the difficulties experienced by him in contact with inexperienced mediums and spirits of varied evolutionary nature.

Posthumous works - part II - My first initiation in Spiritism

I conducted myself, therefore, with the Spirits, as I had done with men. For me they were, from the smallest to the largest, means of informing me and not predestined revealers. Such were the dispositions with which I undertook my studies and continued in them always. Observe, compare and judge, that's the rule I constantly followed.

The circumstances having placed me in relation to other mediums, whenever the occasion arose I took advantage of it to propose some of the questions that seemed to me the thorniest. That's how more than ten mediums took part in this work.

6. Subsidiary works

When presenting ideas and concepts of subsidiary works (mediumistic or not), it is necessary to understand that each one of them portrays the author's own thinking. In the case of mediumistic works, we know that the message is naturally influenced by the medium and that the spiritual author is also influenced by the culture and knowledge of his time. They can be studied, but they have no doctrinal authority in themselves.

The Gospel according to Spiritism - Introduction

[...] with regard to everything that is outside the scope of the exclusively moral teaching, the revelations that each one may receive will have an individual character, without a stamp of authenticity; they must be considered personal opinions of this or that Spirit and it would be imprudent to accept and propagate them lightly as absolute truths.

7. Use of reason

We must refrain from presenting information that go against reason, that refer to past reincarnations of known personalities, that come from fanciful “mediumistic” reports and that add nothing to the Spiritist knowledge.

The Book of Spirits, conclusion, item VI

Its strength [of Spiritism] is in its philosophy, in its appeal to reason, to common sense. In antiquity, it was the object of mysterious studies, which were carefully hidden from the common. Today, no one has secrets. It speaks a clear, unambiguous language. There is nothing mystic about it, nothing of allegories susceptible to false interpretations. It wants to be understood by everyone, because the time has come to make men know the truth. Far from opposing the diffusion of light, it wants it for the whole world. It does not claim blind belief; wants man to know why he believes. Relying on reason, it will always be stronger than those who rely on nothingness.

The Book of Mediums, item 267 -

Every notorious scientific heresy, every principle that shocks common sense, points to fraud.

The prediction of any event for a given time is an indication of mystification.

(This article will be completed in the next issue.)


Eleni Frangatos - eleni.moreira@uol.com.br



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita