As Marc Stuart, a Scottish medium teaching traditional Scottish spiritualism to the USA, I am aware of often conflicting concepts within many Scottish spiritualist communities. The major one is the definition of what it means “to work for Spirit," Many people in Scottish spiritualism believe that this means professional mediums should not charge for their time. I strongly believe that working for Spirit does not preclude us from earning a living, and I am not alone on this side of the debate. Of course, in the USA, the French phrase laissez-faire is more appropriate and takes earning a living to a much higher extreme than most Scots would be comfortable with.
Mediums in the USA are often judged by how much they charge. The higher the charge, the better you must be, goes the logic. Think of it in the way that people think of the price of diamonds.
Of course, there are times when we may feel compelled to work for free, such as when serving on a church platform where we should only ask for our expenses. There may also be situations where someone is guided to us and cannot afford to pay, and in those cases, I have been known to waive my fee.
However, I also believe that earning a living as a medium and teaching mediumship can be a way of working for Spirit. By increasing the number of trained mediums in the methods that work, we can more effectively serve Spirit. This attitude is common among American spiritualists, which is ironic given that it aligns with the philosophy of the famous Scottish economist Adam Smith in his first book, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments."
The book dates from 1759 and explores the nature of morality and human behaviour.
The book begins with an analysis of human psychology, specifically the idea that we have an the capacity for sympathy and a desire for social connection. Smith says that this sympathy is the basis for morality and that it is what allows individuals to recognize the needs and feelings of others and to act accordingly.
Smith also distinguishes between two types of sympathy: the sympathetic imagination and sympathy proper. The former involves the ability to imagine how one would feel in another's situation, while the latter involves sharing in another's emotions.
Smith goes on to explore the nature of virtue and argues that it is the result of individuals acting in accordance with their own conscience and the standards of society. He also discusses the role of praise and blame in shaping moral behaviour, arguing that social approval and disapproval are powerful motivators for individuals.
One of the key ideas is that people are motivated by self-interest, but limited by a concern for the welfare of others. Smith argues as individuals act out of self-interest, they also have a desire to see others happy. It is this desire is what motivates them to act morally.
Overall, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" is a complex piece of work that explores human morality. It established Smith as a leading philosopher and laid the foundation for his later work in economics. The book's emphasis on sympathy and social connection in shaping morals continues to influence philosophical and ethical theory today.
Adam is of course more recognised for his work in Economics, "The Wealth of Nations" which is a seminal work by Adam Smith, published in 1776. It argues that a nation's wealth is measured by the productivity and efficiency of its economy, rather simply the amount of gold and silver it possesses. Smith introduces the concept of the "invisible hand," in which individuals pursuing their own self-interest in a free-market benefit society. He advocates for specialization, competition, and free trade. And for clarity Mediumship would be included as such a specialization! The book continues to be studied today.
While it is not accurate to say that modern Spiritualism directly borrows ideas from Adam Smith's "The Theory of Moral Sentiments." Spiritualism is a religious and philosophical movement that emerged in the mid-19th century, several decades after Smith's book was published. However, it is possible that some Spiritualist beliefs and practices are consistent with the ideas explored in Smith's work.
"The Theory of Moral Sentiments" emphasizes the importance of sympathy and social connection in shaping moral behaviour. Smith argues that individuals are motivated by a natural desire to see others happy and prosperous, and that this desire is what motivates them to act morally. Spiritualism also emphasizes the importance of compassion and empathy, and many Spiritualist practices are geared towards fostering a sense of connection and community.
Spiritualism also places a strong emphasis on personal responsibility and the importance of individual conscience. Smith argues that virtue is the result of individuals acting in accordance with their own conscience and the standards of society. Spiritualism similarly emphasizes the importance of personal morality and encourages individuals to take responsibility for their own spiritual growth and development.
Overall, while there may be some overlap between the ideas explored in "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" and Spiritualism, it is important to recognize that these are separate and distinct philosophical and religious traditions. Smith's work is primarily concerned with the nature of morality and human behaviour, while Spiritualism is a spiritual and religious movement with its own unique beliefs and practices.
I was always aware of Adam Smith because of both subject matter and geography. As I grew up in Edinburgh and had a love of Economics at school, my guilt secret was always embarrassing the Business Studies teachers when they made mistake, well I was only a child at the time. He lived in Edinburgh for a significant portion of his life after moving there in 1737 to attend the University of Edinburgh. He became a lecturer in the city and wrote "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" before moving to Glasgow in 1751 to take up the Chair of Logic at the University of Glasgow. He returned to Edinburgh in 1764 to continue working on "The Wealth of Nations" and became involved in the city's social and political life. Smith lived in Edinburgh for the rest of his life and is buried there. Edinburgh played a significant role in Smith's life and career, influencing his work on economics and political philosophy.
It was in Edinburgh itself that much later in life I began my journey into Spiritualism, where "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" was written which brings me back to where I started. In summary, while we should always prioritize serving Spirit, you should not feel guilty earning a living as a professional Medium or charging for your services. By doing so, we can all contribute to the growth and development of Spiritualism and help more people connect with Spirit.