Current reading

You will find a review just below/following this posting of a book I am currently reading. This book is The Spirits Book, by Allan Kardec, written in the 1800’s. Another book I am reading currently is called The Marriage of Spirit, by Leslie Temple-Thurston, 2000. Both of these books are so chock-full of wisdom I cannot absorb it all at one sitting. Thus I purchased these books (as opposed to my usual library check-outs), and am reading them bit-by-bit as occasion allows. But rather than wait until I am completely finished working my way through these books, I will try and share information and wisdom gleaned from them as it occurs. Thus I posted a review of only the “Introduction” to Kardec’s book.

I have already gained a lot from The Marriage of Spirit and will likely be posting some reflections of that in the near future.

Allan Kardec

I have begun working my way through a book by Allan Kardec. I will certainly not be done reading it any time soon; in fact, I may never finish the entire book! This is because of the sort of book it is. First, a bit about the author, and then I will share just a little of what I have read so far.

Allan Kardec was a French educator, living from 1804 to 1869. He is best remembered as the systematizer of “spiritism”. In his 50’s already, he became interested in a phenomenon gaining widespread appeal in high society, namely contacting spirits of departed souls. He and others experimented with various methods of communicating with these spirits, and receiving information from them. What began as merely frivolous entertainment gradually evolved into an awareness that these spirits were attempting to convey information.

The Spirits Book was Kardec’s first publication of the results of this experimentation. The body of the book consists of 1019 questions which were put to the spirits, and their answers. While it is not at all difficult to read, it is written in the 19th century, translated in the 1870’s into English. Thus it contains the typical wordiness of 19th century writing. But with that caveat lector, the book contains much fascinating stuff, especially given its date.

In the introduction (which is as far as I’ve gotten so far!) Kardec summarizes the information received from the spirit dimension. And it is amazing to me how much it agrees with information of the spirit dimension received from other, more contemporary, sources.

I have been reading about near-death experiences, for example, for over thirty years, fascinated by the information these experiencers bring back from the spiritual dimension. More recently I have been receiving information about the spiritual dimension from other sources. And every one of these sources is almost completely in agreement. There is a consistency which cannot be ignored. There has to be something about all these messages which tell us at least a bit about heaven, the spiritual dimension.

And I find that much of this information is in line with biblical writings as well. The Bible does not give us a great deal of information about heaven, mostly hints and small glimpses. The theology gleaned from the Bible does differ at some key points from the information received more experientially. I don’t know all the answers to these discrepancies. I trust God in this. My position is that I don’t need to know all the answers, that I only need to trust and obey. I follow, obedient to where he may lead, trusting in his love and infinite care for me. He will not lead me astray.

I cannot share the entire summary of key points of the doctrine transmitted by the spirits to Allan Kardec and his associates. They cover over six pages! But here are just a few, to possibly whet your appetite.

“The spirit-world is the normal, primitive, eternal world, pre-existent to, and surviving, everything else.

“The corporeal world is only secondary; it might cease to exist, or never have existed, without changing the essentiality of the spiritual world.

“The soul is an incarnated spirit, whose body is only its envelope.

“On quitting the body, the soul re-enters the world of spirits from which it came, and from which it will enter upon a new material existence after a longer or shorter lapse of time, during which its state is that of an errant or wandering spirit.

“The incarnated spirit is under the influence of matter; the man who surmounts this influence, through the elevation and purification of his soul, raises himself nearer to the superior spirits, among whom he will one day be classed. He who allows himself to be ruled by bad passions and places all his delight in the satisfaction of his gross animal appetites brings himself nearer to the impure spirits, by giving preponderance to his animal nature.

“Spirits who are not incarnated, who are errant, do not occupy any fixed and circumscribed region; they are everywhere, in space, and around us, seeing us, and mixing with us incessantly; they constitute an invisible population, constantly moving and busy about us, on every side.

During a recent visit to Sao Paulo, Brasil, I visited with my daughter-in-law about Spiritism. She and her mother go to meetings on occasion. I wished my visit had allowed me the opportunity to accompany her to one of these meetings. I gathered that the meetings consist primarily of discussion of Kardec’s ideas, and other practitioners of Spiritism, such as Chico Xavier. They apparently pray and support each other in the various troubles life tends to bring. It sounded not unlike the small group experience of most contemporary church-goers. What I would’ve liked to learn more about was whether there was much practicing of contact with spirits today, or whether they primarily focused on past writings of such experiences. Future agenda!!!



So, I have come to this spot in my path, now in the early months of 2013. As anyone knows who lives their life consciously as a journey, the path doesn’t end; it continues. And so my own trek continues. Where it will lead, only Spirit knows. And he isn’t telling! At least not the big picture. I find he leads step by step. We only need to see the next small bit of where we are going. We can trust that he is the one who holds the entire picture in mind and knows where he is leading us.

Please, dear reader, view this little exercise as a snapshot in time. There will be more to the road than shared here. I continued to put off posting this final chapter in my life’s story which I call, Out of Winkler. I am so aware of how much more there is to learn, of how much farther I have yet to go on this road of discovery. But I also feel the need to bring this particular saga to an end! And so I post what I call “Conclusion”, knowing that it is in no way any sort of conclusion, just the point where I am now, the place in the road where I have come to at this time.

As I continue down the trail, I will be sharing further experiences on my blog on the Urban Monk website, under the “Journal” heading. It has been an exciting hike thus far; I expect the excitement to only increase as we all head down the path. There are lots of predictions about this time which we live in. Who knows what may yet transpire?

What is clear to me is that old paradigms no longer apply. I get into discussions over some of my ideas, and I find that I am continually put into categories under old paradigms such as liberal/conservative. If I am talking with someone who views them self as conservative, and I espouse ideas they cannot accept, I am labelled as “liberal”. I certainly do not view myself as a “liberal” Christian! I consider myself still firmly in the “conservative” camp. However, I recognize that my open-mindedness may be viewed askance as quite “liberal” by some. Perhaps a label I could accept was one we sort of adopted in the 1970’s, and that is “radical”. (See my chapters on that era, around chapter three.) I can easily consider myself a radical conservative evangelical Christian.

One paradigm on which I sense myself moving from one end to the other might be a paradigm on revealed truth. If you mark the ends of this continuum as biblical truth on one end, and spiritual truth at the other, then I can accept that I am moving radically along this line. Most of my life I received truth as it was revealed in scripture. I spent great amounts of energy and time studying the Bible, praying and meditating, searching for truth as God was revealing it through his book. “God’s will” was a constant topic of discussion.

As I have moved through life, documented in the previous chapters of Out of Winkler, I have increasingly begun to accept truth as it is revealed through experience, both mine and others’ experiences. I cannot view myself any longer as a “person of the book”, or a “book Christian”. This viewpoint I see as limiting, and even a hindrance to my growth as a spiritual person. I do not reject biblical writings. I see the problem more as one of traditional Church interpretations of the Bible.

And I do not see the Bible as the only truth, the only source of truth. God continues to speak to people today. Just look at some of my blogs on this website and you will see that I accept truth coming to us in many ways. And I think God’s Spirit is increasing his contact with us, teaching more and more, and teaching us more quickly than ever before. So I guess it would be fair to say that the end of this continuum which I am moving out of could be labelled as book, legal, law type of faith. The end toward which I continually feel myself drawn could be labelled as Spirit, divine, spiritual. And in my trusting walk down this path, I no longer feel an urgent need to have all the answers. That need was certainly part of my journey when I was closer to the book end (pun intended?!!!) of the paradigm. The way I view this at present is that my faith was very much based on my intellect, my ability to figure out the answers, my ability to understand. Now I see my part in this as really a simple trust. I trust Spirit to lead, to show me the way, to use me as it sees fit. I allow my life to unfold bit by bit as it is meant to unfold.

As I come to the end of this part of my spiritual journey I do sense an increasing urgency from Spirit. We have been given tasks to do. There is a reason why each of us is on earth at this particular time, in our own particular location. We must be about those tasks, whether they are big, or small and seemingly insignificant. The part each of us agreed to play is of utmost importance, not only to our own spiritual life and well-being, but also to the well-being of the planet, and indeed the entire universe. It is time to be awake, grow in our spiritual consciousness, reach out to aid each other on the path, and thus fulfill our destinies.

Sylvia Browne

I have just finished reading two books from this most prolific author. I had not heard of her before, but while reading these books, carrying them around with me in public, I encountered several people who immediately recognized what i was reading. “Oh, I have read most of her books!”, was a comment I heard more than once. I felt left out!!! Where have I been?!! But I guess this is yet one more instance of things coming our way when the time is right, when we are ready to receive them. I operate on that principle, in fact, when I post on The Urban Monk. I trust that you, the reader, are receiving these offerings at the time which is right for you. Not that you will thus necessarily agree with what I say, but more along the lines that you are being thoughtfully prodded by Spirit at a time when you can receive it.

The two books I read by Sylvia Browne are, The Two Marys, and The Mystical Life of Jesus. These two books outline the lives of Jesus, his mother Mary, and his wife, Mary Magdalene. Sylvia Browne is a psychic, a gift she has had since childhood. She receives a lot of information from her spirit guide, Francine. But these two books also contain a lot of research into the lives of these pivotal people.

Sylvia calls herself a “gnostic Christian”. She founded a church called “Novus Spiritus”. She is completely and unapologetically a Christian. But her beliefs do not rely only on biblical revelation as do the beliefs of most Christians. Being “gnostic”, that is, “knowing” or knowledge based, she also takes from revelation received through other, more esoteric sources (such as her own spirit guide). This of course leads her to sound quite different from orthodox Church teaching! She says she has been severely criticized and persecuted throughout her life and ministry. But her faith in God, and relationship with him and his son, remains strong despite the opposition.

Sylvia is very critical of “Pauline Christianity”, which comes mostly from Paul’s writings in the Bible and is what primarily comprises orthodox Church theology. She draws heavily on the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings. But she also relies on other writings, many of which have come to light only in the past century or so, having been destroyed by the Church when they made decisions on what would comprise Church theology and what would not.

I myself find it very interesting that so many of these early writings have been recently re-discovered. What does that fact alone tell us? What is God saying to us in our day by allowing these earlier banned documents to be revealed?

I would not be as critical as Sylvia Browne of the early Church’s decisions about what was in and what was out as far as early writings circulating among believers. I view the Church leaders in the perspective that they were operating to the best of their ability with what they were given. I do view their decisions as human ones, made with human reasoning, but I do not necessarily, out-of-hand, consider them nefarious.

Moving to the content of Sylvia Browne’s books, they tell a much more complete story of the lives of these three characters so central to the Christian faith. We get details of what Jesus was up to before beginning his public ministry in Palestine. We get filled in on story elements missing in the biblical accounts. And it is most fascinating to consider!! Especially for someone like me who has been part of Church all my life and studied extensively the Church’s book, the Bible.

Well before encountering these books I had come to accept the fact of Jesus being a married man. And, dear reader, I find nothing in the Biblical writings which would preclude this!! It is only Church tradition which has led us to believe that Jesus was single. (And what does that tell us!!!)

These books tell us much about Jesus’ travels as a young man, going to numerous places to learn from scholars of his day, taking with him various companions. Browne also paints a picture of Jesus coming from a fairly well-to-do family, not the poor downtrodden picture we often get from Church tradition. His uncle, Joseph of Arimathaea, was a wealthy business man, with ships, tin-mines in the British Isles, etc. Jesus’ father Joseph, as a carpenter, had an extensive, successful business with numerous employees working for him. Jesus was able to use family resources to become a student and itinerant teacher.

The part of Sylvia Browne’s stories about which I have the biggest questions center around the resurrection and time following. She has received information from beyond that Jesus did not die on the cross when he was crucified. After surviving this horrific experience, he spent a short time in Palestine, appearing to his disciples, giving them final messages (all recorded in the Bible), and then travelled once again, re-visiting some of his earlier places, and eventually settling in the south of France, in the Languedoc region. I had long known that Mary Magdalene had lived out her life there, but to consider Jesus and Mary living out their lives there together, was a new one for me! I take that information with a grain of salt, putting it on the back burner, so to speak, for future consideration.

Francine has told Sylvia that a lot of this information will come to light in the coming years, probably soon! We will see, I guess, whether this pans out. Once again, I take information coming from sources like this with some hesitation. Not all mystical, psychic revelations are 100% accurate. There is variance in the information which comes out of all these stories. Taken together they present a fascinating picture. But I take no one account as truth over all others. And I encourage my friends and readers to do the same. Learn as much as you can from this, adding it to the fabric of the larger picture. New information (like Sylvia Browne’s is for me) does not need to negate what I have learned from other sources, from other peoples’ stories of truth.

Again, these books are fascinating to read. I highly encourage everyone to read them! Learn from them, take the parts which you can accept, and allow the rest to slough off like water off a duck’s back. “. . . read it (the Bible, and I would add, her books) with new eyes of love and right living and spiritual search. . . . If you stop searching for truth, then you become complacent and you really don’t realize what his life was about.” (p 121, The Mystical Life of Jesus). I hope you enjoy these writings as much as I did, and that you let me know your reactions!

Chico Xavier

A few weeks ago I watched a video drama of the life of Chico Xavier. He was a Brazilian mystic who could sense very concretely the spirit world. Of course, with gifts like these, he grew up as a very different child, being viewed as odd at best, of-the-devil at worst.

In adulthood, he was able to hear messages from the spirit world, and write them down. He became widely popular, as people sought him out to seek messages from departed loved ones. He did thousands of “readings” during his long life (he died in 2002, age 92). In 2012 a Brazilian TV show named him the greatest Brazilian of all time, based on a viewer survey.

Xavier was heavily influenced by the works of Allan Kardec, a French educator, who became famous for systematizing Spiritism. Xavier never claimed to compose any of his writings, which numbered in the hundreds of books, saying he was only a channel, writing what the spirits dictated.

One of his most famous writings, Nosso Lar (Our Home), was made into a movie in 2010. In English it is called Astral City. It is the messages from Dr Andre Luis which comprise this story, a phenomenal account of the heavenly realm we enter upon dying. This profound movie is certainly worth searching out and watching. It will affect your views of dying and the afterlife.

Back to the dramatized video of Chico Xavier’s life, one of the most powerful scenes occurs when he receives messages from a murder victim which exonerate the shooter. Communicating through the writing of Xavier, the spirit/soul of the victim tells his parents, and the shooter’s parents, that his death was the result of an accident and was not a murder at all. This evidence was entered into a court, and the perpetrator was absolved of his crime. The two mothers, who had been good friends before the accident, and then became estranged, were reunited in their friendship. It was a ground-breaking case, receiving much publicity, especially in Brasil.

Chico Xavier’s life was a difficult one, from beginning to end. From his childhood, right through his adulthood, he was surrounded by people who either wanted to take advantage of his gift, or who wanted readings. His health suffered. Since he claimed to not be the author of anything, he refused to take money for any of his readings, books or writings. He was only the writer and messenger, penning what others, in the spirit world, were saying. So, even with growing popularity, he remained relatively poor all his life. And he struggled with health issues, especially his eyesight.

But what he gave the world has continued. Many of his writings have been translated into English and other languages. I have read just a couple of these writings. The quality of the translations is not consistently good. Some of the writings are quite readable, others abysmal.

When I visited Brasil recently, I found out that there is quite a large following of Xavier and Kardec’s works. There are groups of people who meet in homes or small meeting places to discuss their works, to pray for each other, and to continue some of the traditions. These “spiritists” do not claim to be a religion as such, but merely people who have accepted the validity of these writings. It was not clear to me how much mediumship continues today. It sounds like most of what happens in these meetings is based on what has already been written down.

I have seen a few instances of evidence that the organized Church feels threatened by this spiritist movement (which to my mind lends credibility to the truth of the movement!). In fact, the video of Chico Xavier’s life shows some of this resistance by the Church. In Brasil, of course, “the Church” is mostly the Roman Catholic Church. But I have seen some criticism of spiritism from evangelical churches as well. It would appear that the organization which claims to be the closest follower of God’s truth does not really want to hear what God has to say to us today! They want to persist with the comfortable platitudes which have been handed down through the centuries. No new revelations can be allowed. The Church would have us believe that God is not the same today as he was a few thousand years ago. He spoke then through prophets and teachers, but today speaks only through what was written down way back. Any revelation which comes to gifted ones in today’s world gets labelled as devilish, evil, and must be stamped out. Xavier himself always claimed to be operating within the confines of Christianity, and began his “ministry” with the blessing of a beloved priest who had known him as he grew up.

So, through most of his life, he struggled with this dichotomy. People loved him, and sought him out to hear wisdom from beyond. But the Church largely persecuted him, labelling him as being of the devil (where have we heard that before?!!!).

My own personal view is that I have no trouble accepting Chico Xavier for what he was and claimed to be. As with any mystic gifts, there is never a guarantee of 100% accuracy. Thus there is a bit of inconsistency from one mystic to another. Xavier’s words do not always completely agree with revelations from other sources.  But overall, we can receive wonderful messages and glimpses of the life-beyond through the words of Chico Xavier.


Some quick notes on recent happenings: yesterday I was hit by a bout of insomnia, something I experience occasionally. And I felt very negative, attacked, even. I could not sense the presence of my own one, God, heaven, or anything spiritual. I felt empty, alone, bereft. I prayed, I meditated, finally fell back to sleep for an insufficient time.

During the day, I had several experiences which totally turned my outlook around! I ran into a couple of people who expressed real interest in what I was reading. We discussed common interests, etc. Very encouraging.

Later in the day I encountered a person severely depressed over things happening in his life. I was able to be a listening ear and say some encouraging things (hopefully encouraging!!!). It felt Spirit was using me to help a fellow sufferer on the road.

Over all, these two incidents helped me feel back in touch, back in tune, in step.

Thank you, thank you, thank you my own one!!