Allan Kardec

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189. Does a spirit enjoy all of its faculties from its creation?
“No. As in the case of human beings, spirits experience infancy. At birth, they only have an instinctive existence, and scarcely possess any cognizance of themselves or their actions. Their intelligence develops gradually.”

190. What is the state of the soul at its frst incarnation?
“Equivalent to human infancy. Its intelligence is only beginning to bloom, it may be said to be testing out life.”

191. Are the souls of savages in a state of infancy?
“Relative infancy, but they have already experienced some development because they have passions.”

a) Are passions a sign of development? “Development yes, but not of perfection. They are a sign of activity and an awareness of the Self. In the embryonic state of the soul, intelligence and vitality exist only as seeds.”

A spirit goes through successive phases similar to those of the corporeal life. It develops slowly from an embryo to infancy, and reaches adulthood through a succession of periods, destined to reach perfection. The main difference between these two lives is that spirits are not subject to weakness or deterioration. The life of a spirit, while having a beginning, has no end. It takes a vast span of time, according to our perception of it, in passing from infancy to mature development, and this progression is completed by passing through various worlds. The spirit life is a sequence of corporeal lives, each providing an opportunity for progress. These lives are made up of days, each an opportunity to acquire experience and knowledge. However, just as a person may have unproductive days, a spirit may have a futile corporeal existence because it has failed to properly leverage it.

192. By leading a perfect life now, could we skip all the degrees and become a pure spirit without passing through the intermediate levels?
“No, because what human beings believe to be perfection is actually quite far from it. Some qualities exist that are unknown to them, and in the current state, they have no means of comprehending them. They may be as perfect as is humanly possible on Earth, but still far from absolute perfection. A child, no matter how bright or talented it may be, must go through youth to reach adulthood, and a patient must recuperate before making a complete recovery. Additionally, a spirit must advance both intellectually and morally. If it has advanced in only one of these directions, it must match this development in the other to reach the top of the ladder. The more a person advances in the present life, the shorter and less painful his or her future trials will be in later existences.”

a) Can people assure themselves a future existence with less bitterness than their present life?
“Yes, of course, they can shorten the length and diffculties of the road. Only the person who neglects advancement remains stagnant.”

193. Can individuals fall to a lower point than the one they have already reached in new lives?
“In terms of social position, yes. As a spirit, no.”

194. Can the soul of a good person inhabit the body of a scoundrel when reincarnated?
“No, because a spirit cannot regress.”

a) Can the soul of a wicked person become that of a good one?
“Yes, if he or she repents, it is a reward.”

Spirit advancement is always progressive and never regressive. They gradually rise in the spirit hierarchy and never regress from the point at which they have arrived. Throughout their different corporeal lives, they may be downgraded as human beings, but not as spirits. Therefore, the soul of a person who has reached the peak of material power may, in a subsequent life, be a modest artisan, and vice versa, because positions among individuals are frequently the inverse of the elevation of their morality. Herod was a king, and Jesus a carpenter.

195. Could the ability to improve in a future existence result in some people leading immoral lives, when they know that they are always able to make amends at some point in time?
“Such a premise indicates no real belief in anything and the idea of eternal punishment could not affect such individuals anyway, because their reason would reject it and lead to skepticism in everything. If only reason guided people, there would not be so many skeptics. An imperfect spirit might reason this way during physical life, but once freed from the shackles of the material body, they have a dramatically different way of thinking. They realize that they made a great error and this causes them to adopt an opposite sense in their next existence. This is how progress is accomplished and why some are more advanced than others. Some people have already had the experiences that others have yet to go through, acquiring them little by little, and each spirit is responsible for their own progress or delaying it indefnitely.”

Those who hold an inferior position want to change it as soon as possible. In addition, those who know that the trials and tribulations of the present life are the consequences of their own imperfections seek any means possible to insure a new existence that is less painful. This attitude will much more effectively keep them away from a bad path than the threat of eternal fre, which they do not believe in anyway.

196. Since spirits can only improve by experiencing the tribulations of physical existence, does physical life equate to a type of sieve or flter, through which the beings of the spirit world must pass to reach perfection?
“Precisely. They improve themselves through these trials by avoiding wrongdoing and practicing the good. It is only through many successive incarnations or purifcations and after a longer or shorter lapse of time that they succeed in reaching their goal, in accordance with their efforts.”

a) Does the body infuence the spirit to improve or does the spirit infuence the body?
“Your spirit is everything and your body is nothing but a decaying envelope, that is all.”

There is a material comparison of the purifcation of the soul in the juice of the vine. It contains the liquid called the spirit, or alcohol, but it is weakened by numerous foreign elements that change its nature. It requires several distillations to reach absolute purity, each of which remove a fraction of its impurities. The still is the body into which it must enter for purifcation, and the foreign elements are the perispirit, which gradually purifes itself as the spirit approaches perfection.

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