Two fundamental principles lie at the heart of the Spiritualist movement:
The human soul and consciousness survives physical death, and
Communication between those who have passed and those on earth is possible.
People often enter the world of Spiritualism following bereavement. Feeling lost, alone, confused. . . Questioning the very meaning of their own existence. What's the point of doing all we do, going through all we must, if it's all to end with the death of the physical body?
At such times, we don't want sympathetic words. What we need is proof that our loved ones really do continue to existence, albeit in a different form.
For a few - the lucky ones - that proof comes through direct experience of those that have passed on. It might be visual manifestation, it might be objects relating to that person being moved, it might be a particular song being played on the radio every time you switch on. . . Perhaps many more of us have had an intangible “awareness" of a loved one's presence.
Spiritualism can offer proof via messages given by a medium. Mediums are either inherently sensitive souls or those who have worked to develop their innate sensitivity, either way they are folk who are better able to raise their mental vibrations to a Spiritual level that the most of us.
Evidence of survival falls into two types.
The first is the single outstanding event or message that's so far beyond the odds of chance that the beholder is left in no doubt of the reality of survival.
Unfortunately such outstanding evidence is comparatively rare. Communication relies on the meeting of two very different worlds. Each world must bend itself towards the other. That communication occurs at all is amazing, but the process is inevitably imperfect.
Thus the second, and more common, type of evidence is the more mundane details that build up like the pieces of a jigsaw. You may be given some information that while correct could apply to 50% of the population. This might happen with different pieces of information many times over many sittings. Each time the odds of it being due to chance decrease. Occasionally you'll be given erroneous stuff which will decrease your overall certainty; as most mediums admit, every sitting is an experiment, don't be discouraged. Rather look at the bigger picture, and I'm sure you'll find the positives far outweigh the negatives.
If you open demonstrations at a Spiritualist church, listen closely to messages given to others, as these too are valuable proof. But retain a healthy skepticism, are the sitters saying yes just to be polite? If they are regulars, might the medium be drawing on prior knowledge?
Evidence can also come from beyond the world of Spiritualism.
Research in the field of parapsychology is providing an ever-growing pool of evidence of a reality beyond the physical realm. If phenomena like telepathy, precognition and psychokinesis are real they imply the existence of some part of us beyond the physical body. If so, then how can that non-physical part just disappear when the heart ceases to beat? When conventional scientists abandon their irrational hostility and begin serious open-minded study of the paranormal they often end up admitting there's some truth in it, eg Sirs William Crookes and Oliver Lodge of the Victorian era right up to Nobel Prize laureate Brian Josephson of Cambridge University.
There is also a strong logical/philosophical case for survival, or at very least the existence of a non-physical part of us. We undeniably have free will, but whatever it is within us that makes our choices, it surely isn't governed by purely physical processes in the brain. What is it that gives us an appreciation of beauty, art, music. . . these things have do nothing to aid evolutionary survival, but without them life is empty. Similarly, what of religion and ancient myths of Gods and Spirits? Though developed independently in isolated cultures these often share common features.
Johnny Finnis is the editor of new age spirituality - exploring the idea that this life, this world, is not the totality of our existence. In fact, it might be just one small part of something much bigger, just one tiny step along an infinite journey. . . Have your say on our blog A Spiritual Voice