Christian Rationalism: Part VIII


CHAPTER XIII

CHARACTER

Character is the sum of an individual's moral qualities. Among these both his virtues and the sum of spiritual values gained in previous incarnations are outstanding.

This valuable quality indicates the levels of human spirituality which can be measured by the firmness and rectitude displayed in everyday life.

Honesty in business dealings or in other areas are not the only measures of character. Character is also gauged by uncompromising aversion to cowardice, intrigue, envy, ambiguity, falsehood, disloyalty, treachery, in short, all undignified actions.

There are, in reality, few human beings endowed with a truly spotless character. This is because faultlessness cannot be taken for granted until the last incarnations in human form.

Educated individuals are not necessarily endowed with good character because many of them use education as a tool for deceit.

However, the advantages and even the need for education and culture cannot be denied. They contribute largely to the development of intelligence and of reasoning capacity, the means by which the spirit analyses, compares, infers and arrives at conclusions in the search for truth about life. Character is one of the most precious assets of the spirit, however, by no means easy to build. On the contrary, it requires long periods of meditation during many incarnations in the course of which ideas sink in under the herd test of experience.

It is only after enduring much disillusionment, grief, injustice and ingratitude that man is able to measure, in the innermost recesses of his soul, the extent of human wretchedness. Then, disgusted, he rebels against it.

Thus, having known and experienced suffering, the spirit gradually frees itself from evil actions and, through enlightenment and conviction follows the rigid tracks of a flawless conduct.

Man can develop his intelligence in any field of activity, be it in the literary and scientific circles, or in factories, business, agriculture, schools, shops, or in the home. Any honest working environment provides frequent opportunities for character refinement, always at a normal progressive pace. There is no room for radical change or instant regeneration. However, man will not accomplish anything without effort, good-will and, above all, an enlightened awareness coupled with a sense of duty and a desire to do his best.

Parents and teachers who are capable of transmitting to their children and students the vivid and high-sounding language of example, in regard to rectitude, will exercise and exceptional influence over them which will translate into esteem, obedience and respect.

It is no overstatement to say that the world needs more and more competent, honest parents and teachers. Those who are really so, have excellent tools in their hands which help considerably to mould the character of teenagers under their guidance.

There are parents who are inferior to their children in character. There are also those who are teachers in name only because their sole asset is their intellectuality. However, bad examples are not copied by people who have spiritual discernment to recognise them and reproach them. Parents and teacher of bad character on the one hand, and more evolved children and students on the other, follow different routes, each endeavouring to satisfy their own yearnings, be they sickly and vicious, or beneficial and purifying.

A teacher's task is not limited to academic training. School, as an extension of the home, imposes on teachers the unquestionable duty of instilling in students' minds the edifying concepts that will make them good citizens.

If the action of teachers in the building of their students' characters is highly praiseworthy, much more so is the role of parents whose inescapable duty is to watch the overall character of their offspring during childhood because that is the best stage to assimilate training.

MIDDLE -OF-THE-ROAD

In the definition of the lines of character, everyone should consider the avoidance of extremes, where equilibrium lies.

Good judgement, equity, common sense, punctuality, loyalty, harmony, courage, magnanimity, good-humour, dignity, gratitude, politeness, faithfulness, moderation, truthfulness, self-respect, respect for others, zeal, all of these are qualities which, if properly cultivated, compose a prime set of spirituality ennobling virtues. It is to these virtues that man turns when he feels the desire to acquire them in order to mould and enrich the spiritual complex which accounts for a refined character.

Fear and recklessness are two extremes. In their middle lies courage, one of the components of character.

All moral attributes are at equal distance from these two extremes. The prodigal and the miser are at opposite extremes, whereas the moderate remains in the centre. This is the ideal position for all persons of good character.

Also in the same extreme positions are the negative attributes that debase the spirit whereas in the centre shine the positive, ideal, constructive attributes which ennoble the spirit and promote its growth in the upward scale of evolution.

Ill will and worship are also extremes, like prodigality and miserliness, but friendship and virtue play an outstanding role in the middle.

Men and women both fall down the sides of dangerous abysses because they do not realise that between two equal opposing forces there is always a central point of equilibrium where they should remain to enjoy its fruits.

Both ill will and worship create deplorable situations. Ill will arises feelings of aversion, hatred and revenge which carry with them the most harmful consequences for the individual who entertains them. Worship leads to fear, subservience and humility, to repression of initiative, alienation of will, and lack of self-confidence. Both ill will and worship bring about spiritual discredit and a glaring invalidation of self-worth.

Both of the feelings mentioned above slow down evolution or even halt it completely, which is very detrimental to character. To work towards betterment of this great, incomparable attribute promotes accumulation of immeasurable spiritual riches.

As already said, material possessions remain on Earth. The same is not true of spiritual possessions. The latter never separate from those who know how to accumulate them. And the best fortune man can claim is the one formed by noble actions that always reflect greatness of character.

CHAPTER XIV

THE FAMILY

Family is the basis, the foundation, the support of all stable societies.

Whenever a family excels in the cultivation of high spiritual qualities and does not allow itself to be contaminated by the virus of corruption, it plays a very relevant role in the improvement of the community.

Just as the force of cohesion keeps together the component cells of bodies in their utilitarian phase, families also need the force of cohesion to interconnect themselves like the cells of a whole, and to form a homogeneous, progressive, peaceful society intent on the development of the most meaningful virtues.

This force of cohesion derives from high affinitive feelings, noble aspirations, solidarity in accomplishments aiming at perfection, and disindividualization of efforts made towards a common goal.

The greater the number of familial nuclei engaged in the development of this force of cohesion, the higher the environmental indexes of morality and honesty.

The behaviour of a community, which reflects the condition of the majority of its members, is a measure of the average level of improvement of a people. It reveals its productive and accomplishing capacity, both materially and spiritually.

Therefore, family formation becomes an outstanding social problem. By this is meant not the union of two human beings who are spiritually apart, not the spiritual and physical intertwining of spouses having in mind their mutual responsibilities and the preservation of the human species.

To those who marry, a clear understanding of each spouse's duties and rights is essential. As a rule, these rights and duties are not equal, but complementary.

It is through association of interests aiming at the same goal, intelligently felt and pursued with devotion, that the spiritual ties linking wife to husband and husband to wife are formed. Thus, physical attraction, which is so debasing to mankind when perverted, should come second. Incarnation carries with it, besides other commitments, the duty to form a family, to honour and dignify it at all costs.

Therefore, those who, either by action or omission, contribute to the break-up and disintegration of the family, are guilty of serious spiritual offence.

Communities, which nations are made of, will be great and respected as long as the foundations of their moral structure, represented by the spiritual links connecting families, are strong enough to repel the evil currents of corruption, unbridled sensuality, self-worship and immorality. Family is a nucleus where man can exercise the virtues of affection, tolerance, loyalty, self-denial, abnegation, faithfulness, sacrifice, respect and community of feelings.

As a corollary, the home is a school of spiritual improvement and a field for psychic development. It is easy to make mistakes. It is difficult to correct them. Therefore, to avoid mistakes, man needs to be on permanent guard.

AN OPEN BOOK

A couple's familial responsibilities, although heavy, are not more than they can cope with. There must be complete trust between husband and wife. Like an open book, both spouses should always be ready to reveal their mutual feelings. Neither should do anything that may intimately arise shame or the need to conceal.

Secretiveness, hiding of faults or lying in order to maintain appearances are very detrimental to character, besides hindering spiritual evolution. Family life is much happier when each spouse strives to deserve the full confidence and moral support of the other.

Infidelity and adultery, besides hurting decency, leave an indelible spiritual stain on the conduct planned for an incarnation.

Honest thought and will power are powerful weapons to be wielded in the fight against the thrusts of inferior forces, which try to encircle man in the harmful animistic matter of their currents as soon as they perceive an affinitive feeling bent towards infidelity.

Man and woman act as mutual complements. They act to counterbalance and keep in equilibrium a condition that should be permanent.

The spirit is linked to the entire physical body by animistic cords and relies on them to make possible the equilibrium of organic functions. Similarly, spiritual action unfolds in the formation of the family, assigning to men tasks that involve high thinking capacity and accurate training, and to women those that are more closely tied to sensibility and gentleness, without excluding intellectual gifts with which women are likewise endowed.

Therefore, each spouse should endeavour to perform his or her tasks well. If they stand united, they will carry out their arduous and dignifying assignment. If they grow spiritually apart, they will sow the seeds of discord and disagreement and their work will be left unaccomplished.

HARMONY AND UNDERSTANDING

Violin and bow are two distinct parts that, united, produce sublime musical sounds in the hands of an artist. Similarly, two human beings joined in marriage, although endowed with different qualities and assigned different tasks, should help each other under the harmonious vibrations of mutual accord and understanding

Men and women should never be concerned about the value of their contributions as these are measured by different standards. Liquids are measured by units of volume, whereas textiles are measured by lineal units. Therefore, there can be no comparison and equivalency between such bodies.

Consequently, it is also impossible to establish a fair comparison between male and female production because a fundamental unit is lacking. Hence, the duties of men and the duties of women, although equal in value, cannot be reversed. Doing so would infringe natural laws and cause a corresponding imbalance.

The spirit has no sex, although male and female tendencies and actions are revealed in earthly life. It is the spirit itself that decides what sex it will adopt when it reincarnates.

As a rule, if the spirit incarnates as a woman, its aim is motherhood. This tendency is so marked that a little girl, as soon as she starts taking her first steps, displays a special interest in dolls whose bodies she caresses like a mother does to a child. The same happens to a boy who turns his attention to little horses, automobiles or tool boxes.

The maternal instinct arises in women in the dawn of infancy. To be a mother - devoted to her mission with body and soul - is the noblest accomplishment of a woman on Earth.

The support given to a wife to facilitate her familial duties, and to a daughter so that she will eventually become a good mother, is never too great. Women need much loving care so that they will not fail in the accomplishment of their high ideals, summed up in the excellence of her home environment and offspring.

Women play an extremely relevant role in the task of human regeneration. To achieve this goal they need to keep in permanent touch with their children - who will be the parents and rulers of tomorrow - in an effort to rear them according to the patterns of a fully virtuous moral conduct. Children's subconscious is pliable and therefore sensitive to the guidance they receive. This guidance should be ruled by the principles of honesty, devotion to work and to truthfulness. In this way they will grow up to be good citizens, excellent husbands and wives, and exemplary parents.

GOOD HUMOUR

The members of a family should never be lacking in serenity as well as good humour, and the cultivation of these qualities is of the utmost importance. Good humour and pessimism are irreconcilable. A good disposition paves the way to success because it overpowers defeatist thoughts and groundless fears, thereby driving nervousness away.

The countenance of a good humoured individual reflects joy and self confidence and he is bound to enjoy good health.

Living in a family setting demands of its members a great dose of self-denial and tolerance. By so doing harmony and understanding among them will not be lacking, and the bonds of affection that should unite them will become stronger and stronger.

Let us always bear in mind that we are all imperfect and stronger.

These errors should be faced not with indignation and rebellion, but with calm and understanding. For this reason, impulsive, violent, untimely tempers need to be subdued.

A husband's personality may differ from his wife's, just as those of their children may differ among themselves. These differences are easily understood if we take into account the diverse spiritual categories of the members of a family.

One of the greatest human virtues consists of respecting other's viewpoints without ever falling short of politeness.

In order to maintain family unity and togetherness, the husband must put in as much effort as his wife. Every family member should feel proud to share his honourable name.

The deepest foundations of parents' moral authority are their conduct and good examples, and this authority will be greater or smaller depending on the degree of sincerity, common sense and honesty of their behaviour.

Whenever they feel the need to guide their children, good parents should set examples from the undeviating rectitude of their own conduct. Good parents never let their children acquire vices. They spare no efforts to ensure that their own lives will serve as a model of behaviour that their children may mirror with regard to love of family, honesty and devotion to work. Children in turn need to listen to their parents' judicious advice in order to forearm themselves against the risks and dangers to which they will be exposed in the course of their lives. Improvement of mankind must begin with rebuilding of family habits. It is an accepted principle that every individual can be as good as he aspires to be, within human possibilities. By the same token, the maxim that every people has the government it deserves is likewise confirmed. Hence the need to always strive to raise the indexes of familial formation so that every nation will have a government up to par with its spiritual development and its moral awareness.

A people's well being and happiness can easily be measured by its attachment to home and family. Those who, without serious justification, refuse to form a family, fail to fulfil their duty to society and cannot be considered good citizens.

CHAPTER XV

BRINGING UP CHILDREN

"One cannot give what one does not have" - goes the old and wise saying.

Unfortunately, in our day and age only a minority of men and women are prepared to raise their children in a manner that meets the demands of spiritual and material life

People who are truly worthy of the name of parents are not those who limit themselves to irresponsible procreation. Real parents are those who measure and weight their matrimonial responsibilities and prepare themselves to conscientiously fulfil the duties of parenthood.

Procreation per se is merely instinctive considering the general source of animal life. However, as far as human beings are concerned, the resulting consequences are very serious and relevant. As a rule, children are the image of their parents. With the immense power of assimilation they have in childhood, they try to imitate what they see adults do and this is indelibly recorded in their subconscious.

Therefore, it is impossible to dissociate the home from school. After all, the home is above all a school - a good or bad one - where parents (teachers) are continuously giving to students (their children) lessons and examples of discipline or indiscipline, virtue or vice, work or idleness, honesty or dishonesty, courage or cowardice, truth or falsity, dignity or abasement, order or disorder, shame or shamelessness, loyalty or treason, sincerity or hypocrisy.

Upbringing begins in the cradle. A few days after birth, children already display inclinations and tendencies which need stimulation when good and severe, uncompromising repression when unreasonable and inconvenient.

The responsibilities of a couple, during their children's childhood are enormous. In addition to constant watchfulness, they demand from both husband and wife, for the sake of their children's upbringing, all the courage, sacrifice and self-denial they are capable of offering. Giving their children a good upbringing should come first on the parents' list of priorities and should never be neglected.

INSIGHT AND UNDERSTANDING

Parents should not frighten their children with threats and shouting. They should act calmly, using insight and understanding, in order to gain their trust, love and respect. A good educational approach consists of frequent informal conversations in the course of which parents can intelligently tackle the faults they have observed in their children and help them to correct themselves by showing them how to do the right things.

Although they may not show it outwardly, deep inside children feel grateful to parents whenever they perceive parental interest in their future, security and well-being.

Parents should prefer restriction of privileges for a specified period of time to physical punishment, which should be used only in extreme cases and, even so, in a moderate fashion.

Nevertheless, if the wrongdoing is serious enough to call for physical punishment, it should be applied only if the mother or father are complete serene. Nervousness and the resulting change in the tone of voice weaken their authority to punish. It also arises a feeling of rebellion in the child, which is the opposite of what parent had in mind.

Every educational action should have, as a goal and source of inspiration, a sincere desire on the part of parents to strengthen their children's personality and character.

Criticism in the presence of strangers is entirely inadvisable because it humiliates children and hurts their feelings.

ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR

Many parents vent their anger on their children, thereby making them scapegoats of their nervousness and ill humour. This attitude, besides being wrong, is also deeply abusive. As a result of it, children tend to see their parents as heartless and cruel. Consequently, these children become deceptive and insincere, in their endeavour to conceal their actions (which they formerly practised in the presence of their parents) in order to escape punishment.

Fathers and mothers should give advice whenever necessary and timely. Attentive, constant watch, aiming at the discovery of character flaws as they are revealed, will indicate the right moment. Among the indicators of character flaws are vanity, lack of punctuality, carelessness, negligence, malicious gossip, untruthfulness, impoliteness, disrespect, tattletaling, cowardice, cruelty, mockery, disloyalty and pretence. Children should be made aware of these flaws and should listen with due attention and respect to their parents' admonitions. These should be administered with love and concern in clear, objective, and no uncertain terms.

Sincerity, loyalty, fairness and truthfulness should always be the mainstays of children's upbringing. The natural curiosity of the little ones should be appeased but never by means of makeshift, conventional untruths which are always discrediting. Rational, convincing explanations within the reach of young minds should always be preferred.

There is nothing ugly or shameful in Nature when the limitations of natural law are respected. Vice, corruption, affront to sound habits, lack of respect and morals, these are shameful. Those who are willing to reason and make good use of their intelligence will not lack the means of expression to convey to their children sound ideas about the subtleties of earthly life.

TRUST IN PARENTS

Children should learn to trust their parents. This will enable parents to guide, enlighten and help their children so that they can learn to find solutions to their problems. However, this trust will cease to exist if parents lack morality, decency, moderation, common sense, self-respect, consistency and exemplary conduct. In other words, if they do not do as they want their children to do. Discreet supervision and watch are two techniques that should always be present in the educational approach of parents. According to an old adage, "Birds of a feather flock together". Bad company is always detrimental and the tendency for evil is a fact of life. Furthermore, both the ominous influence of the Inferior Astral and the errors accumulated in past incarnations contribute to this tendency.

Bad company, excessive freedom, unreasonable compromise and apparently harmless concessions have been known to lead countless people off the right path.

It is in the home - and not outside of it - that children and youth should try to find a comforting, pleasant environment and a shelter against temptation and danger.

Radical changes are unattable, even in the intimacy of the home. However, a great deal can be achieved in the home towards personality development. Even if this cannot be done on account of the temperamental rebellion of certain incarnate spirits, any improvement whatsoever should be a reason for rejoicing because such improvement, no matter how small, is always worth something. Parents' efforts towards raising their children can never be too great. Good upbringing should invariably be founded on an important trilogy: work, honesty and discipline. It is a constructive process, the results of which multiply in the course of generations.

CHAPTER XVI

PHYSICAL AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA

Although they differ in classification, both physical and psychic phenomena have an essentially common origin and are produced by the same powers. Inasmuch as the Universe is composed of Force and Matter, in both physical and psychic manifestations the agent is always one, namely Universal Force, revealed in a multiplicity of ways.

Outward expressions of Force do not go beyond the limits of normal phenomenology framed within natural law. They provide valuable ingredients for transcendental studies in the spiritual sphere.

Contrary to widespread belief, the most common human senses - smell, sight, touch, hearing, and taste - do not originate in the physical body. Their origin is in the spirit that gives them outward expression by means of suitable organs which do not work without spiritual vibrations and the consequent impulses transmitted to them. They are like a violin whose strings need to be struck by a player in order to produce sound.

The spirit, while incarnated, cannot give outward expression to all its capabilities. One of these is the telepathic sense, which is common on the astral level. Mankind will not be in a condition to use this capability on Earth until it reaches a stage of higher evolution.

Under the present conditions prevailing on Earth, the telepathic sense would be very dangerous because it would be like a holding valve for human miseries, which need to be consciously fought, not repressed.

In the worlds where they belong, spirits communicate by means of thought. On Earth, articulated language will continue to prevail, as a means of expression, for a long time to come.

Manifestations of psychic phenomena vary according to the degree of evolution and the peculiarities of each spirit. Mediumnity, which is expressed in various ways, adds unequivocal demonstrations of these phenomena to human knowledge. This is because mediums have a more developed sensibility than other people, which enables them to establish contact with psychic vibrations. Vibrations that are harmonious, or that match and adjust to others, associate among themselves.