Mediumistic and Spiritual Unfoldment
by Glyn Edwards and Santoshan
Psychic Awareness (chapter extract)
I behold the Invisible in the visible.
I recognise Its Power manifesting through all.
People have understood and used psychic powers since ancient times. Their use can be found in nearly all religious traditions and indigenous cultures. The third section of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, which dates back to around the second century CE, deals with the development of the siddhis (psychic and miraculous powers). Like the superknowledges in Buddhism, some of these powers are sought after in order to help yogis and yoginis overcome the effects of karma and attain spiritual freedom in their lives.
Along with the Yoga Sutra, much has been written about psychic and mediumistic phenomena. Some writers believe that psychic and mediumistic abilities are detrimental to various areas of spiritual life. But this is only true if they are developed at the expense of spiritual awareness and practices of compassion, kindness, inclusiveness, unity, discernment and other attributes of a spiritual life and consciousness. Others believe that mediumship is a spiritual gift, separate from the psychic aspect of our nature. Some teachers of mediumship tell us that it is higher than psychic realms of knowledge – an altogether finer vibration that is separate from psychic abilities.
Yet if we look closely at mediumship, it becomes clear that it is a facet of our psychic being and is not necessarily a spiritual power if used in isolation from other areas of unfoldment. Like any other abilities we have, the responsibility of making them spiritual forces for good is down to us as individuals. In reality mediumship works through the same internal mechanisms of perception that we use to perceive regular physical life. For we would know nothing of the physical world if it were not for our psychic senses – every thing we perceive is processed through them. We experience everything in symbolic form, which has symbolic meaning to us, including language and all other sensory data. We can know nothing of daily life until it is first perceived as a psychic image. So whether we like it or not, we are actually already living in a psychic world and the ability of mediumship also functions through it.
Yet on another level, all life – including the amazing workings of psychic activity in Nature and ourselves as interconnected parts of Nature – is a manifestation of God’s goodness and creativity. This implies that psychic activity and powers, along with everything else, are facets of a spiritual source. In the end it is about the ways we categorise and separate things from one another that leads to differences of opinion. A holistic and an inclusive approach to and understanding of the whole of life and spirituality is the wisest path to follow.
Psychic and Spiritual Awareness
From one perspective, we see that the unfoldment of mediumship by itself does not require us to awaken to recognized qualities of spirituality. To become in tune with spiritual realms of life and action needs individual commitment and a deeper understanding of the Divinity of all. There are exceptions of course, where spirit intervention has happened in people’s darkest hours of need, which has changed people’s outlook and conduct. But this kind of experience may happen just once in someone’s life, which means that being open to spiritual dimensions of living are our responsibility.
Mediumship is an ability much like any other. It operates through the mind. Its results are coloured to a certain or lesser extent by the character and personality of the individual. Some mediums have developed their mediumistic powers to a high degree, but have not displayed any change in their personal and spiritual nature. Another factor to bear in mind is that the majority of spirit communicators have only recently passed to the spirit world. This implies that they may not have spiritually progressed much more than when they were alive in the physical realm of existence. Therefore, having the ability to be mediumistically aware of them will not necessarily make us spiritual, any more than being aware of people in our physical world makes us spiritual.
The word ‘psychic’ is in fact a broad term that encompasses the spirit, our inner being, psychological nature and mind. Psychic abilities are about awareness of certain non-physical influences. People who have mediumistic experiences describe how they get an impression or flash of something, a sense of seeing or feeling someone. This occurs through the psyche and unconscious and conscious mind and connects with our individual nature and to the whole of who and what we are. Because of its connections with our individual nature, we need to ask ourselves if we are spiritually aware and are acknowledging spiritual precepts.
All these points are made not to discredit the views of others, but to emphasize that our spiritual growth is in our own hands. Even though any effort we are prepared to make spiritually will attract corresponding influences that will enhance our unfoldment, it is still up to us to take the first step.
Working at the Level of our Understanding
Sometimes we see mediumship working at a person’s individual level of understanding. For instance, at a public demonstration a medium gave messages which, although accepted as reasonably good evidence by everyone he went to, were all to do with various material pleasures, such as a pint of beer, a bottle of Scotch, or a plate of prawn sandwiches! Some mediums give messages that are always centred around someone’s clothing or jewellery, but give little evidence of a person’s inner nature and character. This kind of evidence can be useful, but if mediums constantly work at this level and none other, it shows they have not taken a wide enough view of mediumship.
Levels of Awareness
There is much that we still do not understand about the human mind and how to awaken to different realms of our spiritual nature. In the past we may have been influenced in our thinking by the beliefs of others. Now we must take the opportunity to discover for ourselves their truth or falsehood. There are problems in trying to distinguish too sharply between inspirational and intuitive knowledge, the psychic, the mediumistic and the spiritual, the prophet and the activist, the mystic and the seer, as there is no clear point where one of them ends and another begins. All have their origins in our being and are an expression of an interactive whole, which consists of our spirit, minds, feelings and bodies. All are but a flowing towards a discovery of the infinite potential in all.
These powers that manifest in our unfoldment are simply a means by which we can demonstrate that there is something beyond ordinary physical realms of experience. But ask yourself what it is: ‘Psychic, mediumistic or spiritual?’ Individual beliefs will differ about what these things may be and can cause conflict and confusion, whereas an all-embracing and inclusive outlook on unfoldment does not. So search and discover the truth for yourself – this is an essential facets of what spiritual growth is about.
A Holistic Embrace
If approached sensibly, psychic and mediumistic unfoldment can lead to understanding the whole of our being and bring us into harmony with all life. When development is interwoven with a dedication to awakening to our spiritual consciousness, it will lead us to an embodiment of its implications. Although our spiritual nature is already the ground of our individual being and is interconnected with the ground of all, we will still have to awaken to its influence. If we are to be representatives of the spirit – either as mediums or advocates for paths of spiritual living – our lives need be a reflection of the spirituality of all life. Psychic and mediumistic abilities by themselves are neither good nor bad; it is what we do with these powers and any insights we have into the spiritual source of all that determine their worth. If we learn how to use them wisely and selflessly and allow them to lead us to a greater understanding and way of being and healthily interacting with other people and life, they will become something of real value.
Psychic and mediumistic abilities are neither unnatural nor supernatural as they are a product of natural and intrinsic laws in all life. People who have had a premonition or followed up something as simple as a hunch, will have discovered how their psychic nature functions as an ordinary everyday facet of themselves. To deny these faculties exist can mean ignoring inherent and integral parts of our nature that are as vital as any of our five physical senses – we would hardly wish to stop any of those from working. Many have been born with psychic and mediumistic abilities. Many have found these abilities unfolding naturally through a variety of spiritual practices. Masters of yoga tell us that through practising yogic postures and breath awareness, psychic and clairvoyant abilities can unfold, even if we are not actively trying to develop them. The Buddha was well aware that practices of meditation led to possession of psychic and clairvoyant powers.
But whatever use these abilities may have, the purpose of developing them needs be linked with an awareness of our true nature. They need to lead and open us to a wider vision of individual, social and global responsibility, which expresses itself in every area of our lives. This way the problem of any ability becoming a distraction to spiritual realms of growth will not arise.