Subject for Study.
343. When a person has invoked his relations and friends, some celebrated personages, to compare their opinions as spirits with those they had during their lives, he is often embarrassed to sustain a conversation without falling into trivialities. Many persons think that the Book on Spirits has exhausted the series o questions on morals and philosophy : this is an error ; for this reason it may be useful to indicate the source whence almost illimitable subjects for study may be drawn.
344. If the invocation of illustrious men, of superior spirits, is eminently useful for the instruction they give us, that of ordinary spirits is not less so, though they may be incapable of solving questions of high bearing : by their inferiority they depict themselves, and the smaller the distance that separates us, the greater relation we find to our own situation, without reckon ing that they often give us characteristic traits of the highest interest, as we have explained above, No. 281, in speaking of the utility of special invocations. Here is an inexhaustible mine of observations, taking only those whose lives 'present some peculiarity in regard to their kind of death, age, good or bad qualities, their happy or unhappy position in the world, their habits,' mental state, &c.
With elevated spirits, the range of study is enlarged ; besides the psychological questions, which are limited, there may be proposed to them a great number of moral problems, which extend to infinity on all the po sitions of life, on the best conduct under certain given circumstances, on our reciprocal duties, &c. The value of the instruction we receive on any subject, moral, historical, philosophical or scientific, depends entirely on the state of the spirit interrogated ; it is for us to judge.
345. In addition to invocations proper, spontaneous dictations offer innumerable subjects of study. They consist in waiting for whatever subject it may please the spirits to treat. Several mediums, in such cases, can work simultaneously. Sometimes an appeal may be made to a designated spirit ; more ordinarily those who choose to come are awaited, and often come in the most unexpected manner. These dictations may give rise to a crowd of questions whose theme is thus found already prepared. They should be scanned with care, to study all the thoughts they contain, and to judge if they bear the seal of truth. This examina tion, made with severity, is, as we have said, the best guarantee against the intrusion of deceiving spirits. From this motive, as well as for the instruction of the whole, knowledge of the communications obtained outside of the reunion should be given. There, as may be seen, lies an inexhaustible source of elements, eminently serious and instructive.
346. The occupations of each stance may be regu lated as follows : —
1. Reading of communications obtained in the last seance, correctly drawn up.
2. Varieties. — Correspondence. — Reading of com munications obtained outside of the seances. —Rela tion of interesting facts of Spiritism.
3. Works of Study. — Spontaneous dictations. — Various moral questions and problems proposed to the spirits. — Invocations.
4. Conference. — Critical and analytical examination of the various communications. — Discussion on the various points of spirit science.
347. Circles are often stopped in their very birth from want of mediums. Mediums are, assuredly, one of the essential elements of spirit reunions ; but they are not an indispensable element, and one would be wrong in supposing that, lacking them, there is nothing to do. Doubtless those who come together simply for experimentation, can no more do without mediums than musicians in a concert can do without instru ments ; but those who have serious study in view have a thousand subjects to occupy them, all as useful and profitable as if they could operate them for themselves. Besides, the reunions that have mediums, might be accidentally deprived of them, and it would be a pity should they, for that reason, feel that nothing is left for them but to retire. The spirits themselves may, occasionally, place them in such a condition in order to teach them to do without. We will say, further, that it is necessary, in order to profit by the teach ings, to consecrate a certain time to their meditation. Scientific societies have not always instruments of observation at hand, and yet they are never at a loss for subjects of discussion ; in the absence of poets and orators, literary societies read and comment on ancient and modern authors ; religious societies medi tate on the Scriptures ; spiritist societies should do the same, and they would draw great profit for their advancement by establishing conferences in which they may read and comment upon all that may relate to Spiritism, either for or against. From this discus sion, where each could bring the tribute of his reflec tions, might spring rays of light that might have passed unperceived in an individual reading ; special works, journals swarming with facts, recitals, events, traits of virtue or vice, raising grave moral problems which Spiritism alone can solve —a proof that it is suited to every branch of social order.
We would warrant that a spiritist society that would organize its work in this way, procuring the necessary materials, would scarcely find time to give to the direct communications of spirits ; for this rea son, we call the attention to this point of truly serious circles, those who have self-instruction more at heart than 'pastime. (See No. 207, chapter on the Formation of Mediums)