Allan Kardec

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134. What is the soul?
“An incarnated spirit.”

a) What was the soul before being united with a body?
“A spirit.”

b) Are souls and spirits one and the same thing?
“Yes, souls are spirits. Before joining a body, the soul is one of the intelligent beings living in the invisible world. It assumes a physical body temporarily to complete its purifcation and enlightenment.”

135. Is a person made up of anything other than a soul and a body?
“The link that unites the soul and the body.”

a) What is the nature of this link?
“It is semi-material, it is the intermediary between the soul and the body. This is required for communication between the soul and the body. The spirit can act upon matter and vice versa through this link.”
Therefore, human beings are made up of three essential elements:
1) The body, or material being, similar to animals, and given life by the same vital principle;
2) The soul, or incarnated spirit, which is housed in the body;
3) The intermediary principle, or perispirit, which is a semi-material substance. It is the innermost envelope of the spirit and unites the soul with the body. This three-part nature is equivalent to that of a fruit, which includes the seed, the perisperm, and the rind or shell.

136. Is the soul independent of the vital principle?
“The body is merely the envelope, as we have repeated multiple times.”

a) Can a body exist without a soul?
“Yes, however, when the body dies that the soul leaves it. The union between the soul and the body is not complete before birth, but once this union is established, only physical death can break the bond uniting the body to the soul. Organic life may exist in a body without a soul, but the soul cannot live in a body deprived of organic life.”

b) What would our body be if it had no soul?
“A mass of fesh without intelligence, anything you would like to call it, except a human being.”

137. Can the same spirit incarnate two different bodies at the same time?
“No, the spirit cannot be divided and cannot live in two different bodies at the same time.” (See The Mediums’ Book, chapter on Bi-corporeality and Transfguration.)

138. What should we think about some people’s opinion that the soul is the principle of material life?
“This is a matter of words, to which we impart very little importance. Before anything else, you should come to an agreement among yourselves.”

139. Some spirits, and some philosophers before them, have defned the soul as “an animated spark emanating from the Great Whole.” What is the cause of this contradiction?
“There is no contradiction. It depends on the meaning you attribute to certain words. Why does your language not have a word for each thing?”

The word soul is often used to express very different things. Sometimes it is used to refer to the principle of life and in this sense it is correct to fguratively state that the soul is an animated spark emanating from the Great Whole. These words describe the universal source of the vital principle, of which each being absorbs a portion, and that returns to the general mass after death. This idea does not in any way exclude that of a separate moral being, independent of matter, maintaining its own individuality. This being is also called the soul, and it is in this sense that we speak of the soul as an incarnate spirit. In having different defnitions for the word soul, spirits each use their own version according to their personal perspectives and the earthly ideas that they still support. This is just one example of the inadequacy of the human language, which does not have a unique word for each idea, a shortcoming that causes a vast number of misunderstandings and disputes. It is for this reason that the higher spirits tell us to frst come to a mutual understanding in terms of our definitions. (1)

(1) Refer to the explanation regarding the word soul in the introduction, Section II. A.K.

140. What should we think of the theory that the soul is subdivided into as many parts as there are muscles in the body, each ruling over a bodily function?
“It still depends on the meaning attributed to the word soul. If you equate the soul with the vital fuid, that theory is correct. If the word is used to express an incarnate spirit, it is wrong. We said that a spirit cannot be divided. Therefore, movement is transmitted to the organs through the intermediary fluid, without ever dividing itself up.”

a) All the same, there are spirits who have given this definition. “Ignorant spirits often mistake the effect for the cause.”

The soul acts through organs, and those organs are given life by the vital fuid distributed among them, and more abundantly in those that constitute the centers or foci of movement for each organism. This explanation is no longer acceptable when the term soul is used to signify a spirit that inhabits the body during life and vacates it at death.

141. Is there any truth to the belief that the soul is outside the body and surrounds it?
“The soul is not locked inside the body like a bird in a cage. It radiates in all directions, and manifests itself outside the body as light radiates from a glass globe, or as sound emanates from a loudspeaker. In this sense, the soul can be understood as being outside the body, but it does not envelop the body. The soul has two envelopes: the perispirit, which is its frst, innermost envelope, being light and subtle in nature. The other is the body, which is crude, material, and heavy. The soul is the center of both these envelopes, like a nut in its shell, as we have already explained.”

142. What should we think of the theory that the soul of a child is completed during each period of human life?
“There is only one spirit and it is whole in both children and adults. The bodily organs, which serve as the instruments for manifestations of the soul, are gradually developed and completed. Again, you mistake the effect for the cause.”

143. Why do spirits have different defnitions for the term soul?
“All spirits are not equally enlightened in regard to these matters. Some spirits are not so advanced intellectually; they are incapable of digesting abstract concepts. They are like children in your world. Other spirits are false scholars, and ineffectively use words to impose their authority upon others. They also resemble many individuals in your world. Even spirits who are truly enlightened may express themselves in terms that on the surface appear to be different, but, at heart, they actually mean the same thing. This is especially true in regard to matters that your language fails to accurately express, and that can only be conveyed through fgures and comparisons that you in turn misinterpret as reality.”

144. What should we understand of the concept called the ‘soul of the world’?
“It is the universal principle of life and intelligence from which individual spirits are born. People often use these terms without truly knowing what they mean. The word soul is so variable that everyone interprets it according to their own perceptions or ideas. Sometimes a soul is attributed to the Earth, which must be understood as indicating the collection of devoted spirits who give you proper guidance when you listen to them, and who are God’s deputies in your world.”

145. How have so many philosophers, from both ancient and modern times, discussed psychological questions for so long without arriving at the truth?
“Those persons were the predecessors of Spiritism. They have paved the way for others. They were subject to errors and often mistook their own ideas for true light because they were human beings, but these same errors have served truth by showcasing the pros and cons of the argument. Additionally, there are many truths among these errors that a comparative study would reveal to you.”

146. Does the soul have a fxed center in the body?
“No, but it is said to reside in the head among people of great intellect and prolifc thinkers, while it is said to reside in the heart of people who are sentimental and possessive of a more humanitarian nature.”

a) What should we think of the opinion that the soul in some vital center?
“That is to say that the spirit may reside in this spot in your body because it is where all sensations meet. However, those who place it in what they consider the center of vitality mistake it for the vital fuid or principle. In any case, the soul has a stronger presence in organs that are moral and intellectual indicators.”

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