By Cláudio Bueno da Silva

Spiritual Culture Centers

Considering the new times and the changes that progress brings to society, one can ask whether the spiritist center model that we know today is able to respond satisfactorily to the many questions that arise in modern life.

It is known that the period we are going through requires effective attitudes of mental and behavioral change and that this is only possible to the extent that we understand the cause and consequences of the problems that affect us. The spiritist center, as a disseminator of the principles of Spiritism, is called to contribute with its clarifications.

The Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, considered the first established spiritist center, founded by Allan Kardec on April 1, 1858, emerged as a “regular center of observations”, and had the purpose of researching matters pertinent to the new Doctrine and evaluating the results of this research, also proposing to provide information to interested parties, who could also communicate their own observations.

Much of the doctrinal theory of Spiritism was born in that center of transcendental studies where the working material was dialogues with spirits, carefully conducted by Allan Kardec, with the help of good mediums.

Spiritist groups and influences

Since then, thousands of spiritist centers have been created around the world, and it is natural to think that their characteristics must have been influenced by the values, culture, customs, and traditions of the environment in which they emerged, and quite probably the particular interference of people and groups creating standards and procedures at their discretion.

As a consequence, it is also natural to think that, for the most part, they were unable to carry out the methods that Allan Kardec used in “Society”, and which were based on scientific, spiritual and cultural interests.

In Brazil, this methodological and functional “adaptation” of the spiritist center over the decades was significant and the spiritist centers basically specialized in attending to the physical-emotional pain of their visitors, although performing other relevant tasks.

In this sense, there is an incisive and audacious statement by Herculano Pires in the work Agonia das religiões (chap. XI, “A cura divina”, Paidéia, 2000) in which he states that “The purpose of Spiritism is not therapeutic, but cultural”.

The charity flag

In Brazil, the spiritist center vigorously embraced charitable assistance, becoming a reference in this type of work. This activity, undoubtedly commendable, led to the development in the spiritist world of a concept of charity modeled on what is conventionally called “welfareism”, in which, according to experts, there is no interest in studying the causes of needs, only alleviating their immediate effects.

The spiritist concept of charity has a “very broad meaning”, says Allan Kardec, and “applies to all personal relationships” (...) in addition to relationships between individuals, relationships between cities and cities, between states and states, from countries to countries” (1). The meaning of spiritist charity goes beyond the donor/needy relationship and encompasses the universe of relationships between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and lies, virtue and vice.

Allan Kardec has always been concerned with human destiny. With his reflections and superior writings of a moral/social nature, he influenced many to think of charity as a way of lifting people up, of making them walk on their own, of encouraging them in the search for autonomy, to find the knowledge that makes them agents promoting freedom, solidarity, and fraternity.

Commitment to spiritual knowledge

For many fans, just reading the works of Allan Kardec is not enough. Debate, conversation, and clarification of the fundamental questions of existence and the life of relationships between men are necessary so that, in addition to the knowledge of transcendence, the awakening of conscience, the formation of moral citizenship and the development of a critical and rational spirit are acquired, and the assimilation of the reasons that make us understand and love, in addition to other knowledge that, assimilated by reason, will enrich people and make them actively participate in the construction of an improved and more just society. The spiritist center can and should contribute to the maturity of the social/spiritual thought of spiritists.

The spiritist center can never abandon the resources of consolation and moral clarification. The demand for material assistance should also not be neglected, but there must be greater commitment to what Spiritism originally proposes, first of all, the awareness of the being through spiritist knowledge intertwined with other forms of knowledge, and the application of this knowledge in all social levels and relations. Without this perspective there will be no change, or it will take much longer than is reasonable.

I believe that Brazilian spiritualist centers have always had the purpose of guiding men in spiritual matters and relieving their pain. However, it is undeniable that they adapted to the mold of historical religious tradition, distancing themselves from the universal proposal for transformation conceived in the original texts of Allan Kardec and the Spirits.

If this phenomenon was inevitable over the decades of practice in spiritist centers here, it is necessary from now on, with a broader view, to restructure them, considering the social, cultural, and scientific advances of new times. Because everyone knows about the progressive nature of Spiritism.

Spiritual culture centers

It cannot be ignored how much spiritists of various generations did with the intellectual and material resources they had, with the conviction that they were doing their best. However, today more than ever, it is necessary for spiritists to update their language and communication and use the revolutionary tools that spiritist philosophy proposes to the world. We must try to improve the understanding of what Kardec, and the Spirits thought and called Spiritism.

In the mid-19th century, social discussion topics did not have the global exposure and thematic breadth that they have today. Even so, Allan Kardec was not oblivious to the reality of his time and debated issues of real interest to humanity in the Spiritist Review, always extracting from these studies the necessary conclusions with a moral and spiritual background.

In The Mediums’ Book (2), referring to the possible lack of mediums in newly formed groups and who would therefore have their task hampered, Allan Kardec suggests that the participants get busy studying. He says: “Everything that may be related to Spiritism, for or against, be read and commented on. From this discussion, to which each person contributes their own reflections, come clarifications that go unnoticed in an individual reading. Alongside special works, newspapers also contribute facts, news, reports, reports of virtues or vices that raise serious moral problems that can be resolved by Spiritism. This is also a way of proving that it (Spiritism) is linked to all aspects of social life.”

Therefore, the contemporary spiritist center, in addition to the studies specific to its philosophy, needs to incorporate the ethical-moral concept and the spiritual vision of the Doctrine on all issues that affect human development. This is part of the education of the being, of its conscientious maturation. The spiritist needs to form an opinion on many issues, even if moderately so, so that he can act and act in accordance with them.

It is also necessary to re-read and re-study mediumship and reincarnation, which cause so many divergences in conceptualization and applicability in the spiritist world.

Personally, I now see the spiritist center as a nucleus for the development of spiritual culture, where total emphasis should be placed on the education of incarnates, without compromising the attention focused on Spirits. It is good to say here that the Spirits participate in the activities of men, and any advancement of these will inevitably be accompanied by the former. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that the Spirit's testing ground is here, in the incarnate world.

Spiritual culture centers applied to the education of incarnated spirits, spiritual betterment, and behavioral improvement. All of this synchronized with mediumistic experiences that will certainly continue to bring contributions from Spirits to the evolution of humanity of which they are also part.

“There is no climate for the development of Spiritist Culture”, said J. Herculano Pires in O Centro Espírita (1st edition, Paidéia, 1980). After almost 50 years, I believe there is now an opportunity to think seriously about this.

Herculano Pires says more in O Centro Espírita: “In order to reestablish the spiritist truth among us and return our movement to a dignified and coherent doctrinal position, it is necessary to understand that the Spiritist Doctrine is an urgent call to human dignity, to man's conscience to duties and commitments on the social and spiritual planes, both combined in view of the demands of the superior law of Human Evolution.”


(1) Viagem espírita em 1862, Allan Kardec, “Discurso III”, O Clarim Editora. *Not in English

(2) The Mediums’ Book, A.K., “Meetings and Societies”, item 347. 



Solange Grande - sa.kardec@gmail.com



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita