Spiritualism is More Virile Than Ever – 1989 Presidential Address

In a far-reaching and rallying call to delegates at the Spiritualists’ National Union’s annual conference in 1989, President Gordon Higginson said that despite obstacles and hostility, Spiritualism “is more virile today than it has been in its history.”  

Urging members to continue the work of the movement’s pioneers, he called for Spiritualists to play a more active part in the world around them and help create a new standard of human life and welfare.  But in frank mood, Gordon also said that some Spiritualists “are not prepared to act as spiritual beings.”   Here is the full text of his speech:

“The pioneers of the Spiritualist movement will again be gathering around us this weekend.  Our movement has a long line of pioneers.  It is so lengthy it fades away into the distance.  Names tend to be forgotten, but their work lives on after them.  You and I, too, will leave traces on that road which is winding into the future.  Traces of the work we do will remain when people have forgotten our names, our initials and, thank God, even our mistakes!

Our pioneers were subjected to every form of scorn and abuse.  They were called upon to make sacrifices for the truth which they prized because it brought them liberty and a new knowledge.   They lost their jobs; they were stoned and pelted in the streets.  Their homes were invaded.  The windows of their homes were smashed.  Their meetings were broken up by ruffians.  They lost friends.  But still they went on.  They knew Spiritualism was true and stood by it.

And despite every kind of hostility and obstruction, Spiritualism is more virile today than it has been in its history.   If Spiritualism were based on a lie, if it had no facts to offer, it would have perished years ago. Nothing but truth could have withstood the assaults made on our movement.

Are we prepared this weekend to look our pioneers straight in the face and say that with all our weaknesses and our imperfections, we will try to be as faithful to Spiritualism as they have been?  They have handed the banner of Spiritualism on to us. Will we strive to hand it on unsullied to those who come after us?

I look back on history and see how we have-advanced.  When I do so I notice that the torchbearers, who belonged to all races and all creeds, seem to be forced forward by some power greater than themselves.   Now and then they had psychic experiences.  They saw visions, they dreamed dreams. They heard voices.  Moved by a courage that seems superhuman they not only envisaged a greater freedom, a world brotherhood, a wider understanding of truth, but lived and often died for it.

Some of these had what is called faith. Some had none.  Anyway, it is because of them that we have progressed from what we call the Dark Age.   They strove, they suffered.  And then when their work was done they disappeared from mortal ken, forgotten.  But their work remains and we will continue it.

I often wonder about them. Some were churchmen who braved the powers of barbarism.  Some were scientists who braved churchmen.  Some left their churches altogether and founded new ones.  Some belonged to no church, but saw in religious teachings only ignorance.  Each knew a bit of truth.  None knew it all.

As I saw these men and women, I saw them as part of a great plan, and that it was through them that the world was made better, evolved, and moved on to higher things and greater understanding.  But all of them, whether they knew it or not were, I know now, part of a great purpose, brave spirits in the flesh urged on by great spirits who, before them, had striven, suffered and died, and who were now continuing their work in another place.

I can see because of my knowledge of Spiritualism a new world being born.  I believe in that new world just as I believe in the dawn of each new day.  There is a new world beginning, whether you know it or not.  The old world is crumbling because it has served its turn and done its work.  The world is ready for newer ideals and a better system to unite the nations of the world.   I believe that God is on the move – and we have a vital part to play in the divine scheme of life.

If there is any weakness in the Spiritualist movement today, it is because many Spiritualists are not prepared to act as spiritual beings, that our churches are not living centres of spiritual power and force.  Many have forgotten what Spiritualism has to do with human life.

We must take our knowledge and spiritual force into every phase of human life because it has a message for every phase of it.  We should make this world as accessible as possible to spirit power and to the higher minds of spirit.   Once you allow the spirit force to touch you, those on the Other Side will co-operate with you for the common good.   The spirit world is not only concerned with the machinery, but also with where the machinery is going and how it is being used.

Spiritualism is a religion.  The fact that some Spiritualists do not realise it makes no difference.  It is a religion because it understands the spiritual side of our natures, our relationship to God and to one another.   Spiritualism is not a cult; it is not a superstition; it is not faith.  It is not a creed.  It has no ritual.  It is not Christian.   Spiritualism is not just about death, it is about life, living, evolving and spiritually unfolding.

We have learned that love is the most powerful force in the universe.  Love attracts its own.  Love seeks to comfort its own.  Love strives to reach its own.   And love will sweep aside all the obstacles that stand in the way.

Spiritualism has a real mission for today’s world.   The highest religion in the world is to serve one another.  We must during this conference keep in mind that our efforts must make the SNU a body to serve all humanity to its fullest extent.   Then we shall do the work for which we came into being.  Our pioneers fought and died paving the way for a new standard of human life and welfare.  We must not fail them.

I can see the dawning of a new era which will rise out of the chaos, confusion and horrors of today’s world.   We know that the SNU is behind all crusades which seek to uplift humanity and get rid of man’s self-created evils.  The kingdom of heaven on earth· must no longer be a phrase to which Spiritualists pay mere lip service.

The home circle must again be a place where new inspiration and new courage can be given to spur on workers for humanity.   The Spiritualist church should be made a centre from which all the forces of the spirit can radiate good-will and living thoughts in all sections of life.

Spiritualism is a religion which does not just make statements.  It does not rely on a book or a legend or what happened in some far off day, a time concerning which, the records are either incomplete or lost altogether.  It is something that is demonstrable to any person who is brave enough to throw overboard the false teachings of past ages.   This was truth once, but has become perverted and distorted over the years.

Spiritualism is a challenge to all the dying ideas of dogmatic creeds.  It proclaims a message founded on present-day inspiration and not the glamour of the past.  We do not claim to have a monopoly on divine truth, realising that truth has many facets.  The approach to God can be made through countless channels.

Spiritualism teaches that each of us is possessed of a portion of God.  For that reason we survive death, which cannot rob us of our divinity.  Because man is related to God by a divine tie he requires no intermediary to act on his behalf.  He has within himself all that is necessary to enable him to have communion with the spirit behind all life.

In Spiritualism, there is room for all.  The Jew can worship with the gentile, the Buddhist with the Mohammedan, the Hindu with the Brahmin.  We must safely guard these truths.   There is no colour bar; there is equality of race, caste, creed and social position.  Youth and age have their part to play.   Spiritualism is intended not for any sect or nation, but for the whole world.  Under its broad banner of inspiration, people of every creed, of every nation can worship together, recognising the God who is their common father.

Spiritualism has given us a new weapon with which to fight the cruelties of the world – a weapon more powerful than any weapon or force known to science.   With the knowledge of survival, with the knowledge of man as a spiritual being, we must lend our weight to all those who seek to alleviate human suffering, to make the conditions of life such that the human spirit can function as God intended it to in the world.

Our work in Spiritualism consists of sweeping away all the inequalities of life that make man evil and allow the human spirit to function in better conditions by lending our support to all those who strive for peace, justice and human happiness on earth.   We must make this world what it was intended to be: a kingdom of heaven on earth for the children of God to dwell in.

Source: Psychic News, 5th August 1989


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