A Story from the spirit world
Do you wonder what happens when you die? Would you like a tour of some regions of the astral world populated by spirits? I say "some regions" because the spirit world is a very large place and our tour guide, Andre Luiz, can only tell us about the places he actually visited. Andre Luiz is the "spirit pen name" for one of a number of spirits who dictated information and stories through the mediumship of Francisco "Chico" Xavier.
About Chico Xavier
As a young man, he began receiving documents through automatic handwriting, where a spirit literally moves the hand that writes words on paper. The literary output of Chico Xavier, covering many topics, became popular literature in Brazil. Xavier never took a cent from the sale of these books, instead becoming a one-man charitable institution for the poor of his native land. There is no doubt he was a sincere and saintly person and the many web sites (pretty much all in Portuguese) dedicated to his memory (he died in 2002) attest to how much he was loved and revered by Brazilians.
Spiritism is is the belief that spirits of the departed are all around us and that the physical world is influenced by, and influences, the spirit world. Much of its main ideas are in The Spirits Book, which was compiled by Allan Kardec in France in the mid 19th century. The Spiritist Doctrine was taken to Brazil by Brazilians educated in France and there it took hold with the general population.
The books of Chico Xavier were generally unavailable in English, but an organization called the Allan Kardec Education Association (AKES) set as its goal the translation of as many as possible, given time and funds, into the English language. Only two Chico Xavier books were currently available and The Messengers became the third (Note:when I first wrote this review in 2005). I admit to some personal excitement about this one because I had the privilege of editing the book. I got a thorough advance look at this tale of the afterlife from the spirit pen of Andre Luiz.
In The Messengers, Andy is studying with instructors in Nosso Lar to become a helper, or messenger, to the people of earth. He listens to lectures, talks with instructors, and is finally given an assignment, along with another former physician, Vincent, to return to earth under the care of an advanced worker, Aniceto. Aniceto tells Andy that the task is difficult and that "we don't waste time whining or expecting praise every time we do a good job."
Andy goes to a lecture at The Messenger Center in an auditorium filled with other spirits and learns that most of the spirits sent to earth, either in a physical body or as spirit helpers, have failed in their assigned duties. The lecturer, Telesphor, paints a grim picture of the tasks ahead. Since this manuscript was received during the 1940s, the lecture includes reminders of the terrible war that rages on earth. After the lecture, Andy lingers to hear the stories of some of the other spirits in the audience. He mostly hears sad stories of past failures. Andy is a bit shaken, but ready to move forward.
The Journey Back to Earth
The outpost is an amazing place, where the spirit helpers who live within its walls must defend against constant attacks from deranged discarnates whose anger and hatred cause fierce magnetic storms. Only within the walls can rescue and rehabilitation happen. The workers within minister to many confused and sick spirits who are well enough to receive help. They also have long wards of beds where the "sleepers" lay, reliving their worst actions on earth in a dreamlike state. Skilled workers assist these poor souls in an effort to awaken them to the reality of their situation.
Andy meets Alfred and his beautiful wife, Ismalia, who lives in a higher plane and is with Alfred only for a visit. Alfred has another sad story to tell, about his life on earth and a friend who told a false story about Ismalia, whom he had sexually harassed. A jealous Alfred believed the stories and left Ismalia and his children and only returned after Ismalia had passed on. When the man who had given false witness was on his death bed, he told Alfred the truth. When Afred passed on, he learned that Ismalia had worked to help him from the other side. He wanted to be with her again, but, due to his need to make amends, was only able to have her visit from time to time. Since becoming administrator of the Outpost, he had been working diligently to serve others.
Later we meet Paul, the man who had falsely accused Ismalia. He is tortured by the memory of what he did (not only to Ismalia, but other women as well) and the lives he helped ruin. We find that Alfred and Ismalia have not only forgiven him but are now working to help him. They are carrying out Jesus' dictum to do good to those who harm you.
Aniceto explains: "The criminal cannot run away from universal justice, because the crime committed will be carried in his or her conscience. On Earth or over here, each individual lives in the reality of his or her own interior world. We all have to live with the most intimate creations of our minds."
We meet other interesting characters at the Outpost and read about a beautiful prayer ceremony where Ismalia's prayer produces "a profusion of small bluish flowers" emanating from her heart and showering onto those present. A spectacle of "special effects" along with music makes this an event unique to the spirit world.
But soon the astral travelers continue their journey. It seems there are many modes of transportation in the spirit world and in this case, Alfred provides a car and driver to take the travelers through some difficult areas ahead. They used "volitation" to get the rest of the way to the coast of Brazil. (Volitation is a method of "flying" - just moving without using your feet).
Activities In Rio
We learn that even on earth (maybe especially on earth), there are demented spirits who try to disrupt the helpers. In fact, Andy is amazed at the number of dark-looking spirits who seem to be everywhere around town. He says that anywhere he went, there were easily as many discarnates as people in the flesh. As Andy gains spiritual strength, he is able to see more and more of what had been invisible to him before.
Here is an interesting conversation between Aniceto and Andy as they rested in the countryside from their work:
"But does the mental matter emitted by individuals also have a life of its own, just like microbes that generate physical illnesses"?
"And could it be any different? You both know that incarnated humans are both physical and psychological beings. When one examines a physical illness, one doesn't take into consideration only the physiological situation, but also the psychological status of the individual."
"If the sick body produces millions of pathogenic microorganisms, so does the sick mind launch millions of mental forms into the environment. In this way, when it comes to people who have no knowledge of spiritual realities, not only the bodies, but also the minds, become ill. "
And another interesting passage from the same section of the story:
"As we all know, no living creature could survive on Earth without nitrogen. Although humans move around in an ocean of nitrogen and breathe in approximately one thousand liters per day, they cannot absorb it directly from the air. For the time being, God has not permitted the development of cells in the human body which are capable of spontaneously absorbing nitrogen, such as is the case for oxygen. It is only the plant kingdom which is capable of removing nitrogen from the soil and fixing it, so that other beings can live. Each grain of wheat is a blessing, and each fruit is a receptacle of sugar and albumin, loaded with indispensable nitrogen. All farming and cattle ranches are nothing more than the organized and methodological search for this precious element. If humans could fix only a small part of the nitrogen that they take in daily, Earth would be transformed into a true spiritual paradise. But if the Lord gives us much, it is also reasonable that He expects us to collaborate and make an effort towards our own happiness. Even in "Nosso Lar", we are far from being able to absorb our nutrition entirely from the air. And humanity, my friends, transforms the search for nitrogen into a mayhem of uncontrolled passions, hurting and being hurt, offending and being offended, enslaving and becoming enslaved, always surrounded by darkness …"
"The concept of the oneness of the universe is a vision not all can grasp, and it can cost a high price that we are not always willing to pay. We find it tough to do away with old habits and get on the right path. Under these circumstances, once we discarnate, the environment that we will find ourselves in will be full of the mental creations that we lived with while incarnated. Consequently, it's logical that those who thought and talked about nothing else but their illnesses will find themselves enslaved to these thoughts once in the spiritual world."
The helpers begin to provide "magnetic treatments" to the sick spirits. Andy joins in this work and finds he has cured a spirit of her blindness. He is startled as she says to him, "Who are you, Messenger of God?" Andy is naturally shaken by this experience. Aniceto tells him not to be affected by the woman's natural reaction and go on with his work and Andy finds he is not successful with everyone he tries to heal.
At the meeting are also people in the flesh, and several engage in a conversation about the work of mediums. There is a discussion of "phony mediums" and other problems with the process. We learn that good communication between the physical and spiritual planes depends on a lot of factors and can be disrupted by bad intentions or the presence of individuals not ready for serious communication. It is an imperfect process with many pitfalls.
Aniceto, Andy and Vincent are called to help a woman who has just died and is afraid to leave her physical body. She is in the morgue, lying on a slab, with the spirit of a young man who loved her close by, trying to coax her from her body. Aniceto takes over and tells the women that he is a doctor who has a new treatment. The woman is relieved and says she has had a bad dream in which she died and saw her fiancé. Aniceto tells her "Death doesn't exist...just believe in life" They go on to help another dying man, whose spirit mother is by him, trying to help him separate. He too is helped to peacefully pass to the world of spirit.
Finally, Andy's first experience as a Messenger was over, and it was time to return to Nosso Lar.
The story of Andy's experiences as a Messenger makes interesting reading and as you can see from this summary, there are many ideas in this material that are generally unfamiliar, such as: The spirit world has colonies and outposts; spirits travel by flying, walking and even by vehicles; spirits are all around us and can influence us; spirits assist us when we are dying so we can separate from our bodies; spirits use magnetic healing.
The Messengers comes with an Introduction, a Prologue and a Preface. There is also a glossary in the back that gives more information on Spiritist concepts.
You can purchase copies of books by Chico Xavier, including The Messengers, from amazon.com.
-- the edition I reviewed: The Messengers 2005 edition
-- a newer edition: The Messengers 2008 edition
Personal Note: I had the privilege of introducing The Messengers at the book launch on July 9 2005 at the Community Church of New York. The audience filled the church as several speakers gave their views on the life of Chico Xavier. I gave a fifteen minute talk on the adventures of Andre Luiz as told in TheMessengers, explaining that the truths in this manuscript are the same as many very ancient spiritual traditions and also bear a striking resemblance to the revelations in the Readings of Edgar Cayce.
The main speaker was the very dynamic Divaldo Franco, who spoke in Portuguese. Those of us who don't know that language had headphones with a simultaneous translation. It was clear that many in the audience DID know Portuguese, as many were Brazilian. Spiritism is primarily a Brazilian movement, but a number of organizations in the US are working to bring its literature to an English-speaking audience. The Spiritism Group of New York is one of those organizations.
More About Spiritistism:
See my review of The Spirits Book and other related books.