Allan Kardec

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207. Parents often transfer physical likeness to their children; do they also transfer moral likeness?
“No, because they have different souls or spirits. The body may yield a body, but the spirit does not yield any other spirit. The descendants of the same race share nothing other than blood.”

a) What causes the moral likeness that sometimes exists between parents and children?
“The infuence of moral sympathy, which brings together spirits with similar thoughts and inclinations.”

208. Do the spirits of the parents have any infuence over the spirit of their child after birth?
“They have a very large infuence on it. As we have already told you, spirits are made to contribute to one another’s progress. The spirits of the parents are entrusted with the mission of developing those of their children by the training they give them. It is a task that is appointed to them, and which they cannot fail to fulfll without feeling a sense of guilt.”

209. How is it that good and virtuous parents often give birth to children who are perverse and malicious in nature? In other words, how is it that the good qualities of the parents do not always attract a good spirit to embody their child?
“A bad spirit may ask to have good, honest parents in the hope that their counsel may help him or her mend their ways, and God often entrusts such a child to the care of virtuous individuals so that they may beneft from their love and care.”

210. Can parents attract a good spirit into the body of their child by their objectives and prayers?
“No, but they can improve the spirit of the child, who was entrusted to them for that purpose. It is their duty to do this, but bad children are often sent as a trial for the improvement of the parents as well.”

211. What causes the similarity of character that so often exists among siblings, especially between twins?
“The understanding that exits between two spirits who are attracted by similarities of thoughts and ideas, and who are happy to be together.”

212. In the case of conjoined twins who share some of their organs, are there two spirits or two souls?
“Yes, but their likeness often makes them seem as though there were only one.”

213. Since spirits incarnate as twins due to feelings of sympathy, from where does the hostility that is sometimes felt by twins for one another originate?
“There is no set rule stating that only sympathetic spirits are incarnated as twins. Unsympathetic spirits may have formed this link to try to work out their differences during a new physical life.”

214. How should we interpret the stories of children fghting in their mother’s womb?
“As a fgurative representation of their animosity towards one another, which goes back to times before their birth. People rarely make suffcient allowance for the fgurative element in certain statements.”

215. What is the cause of the distinctive character that we observe in each population or ethnic group?
“Spirits make up different families, formed based on the similarity of their tendencies, which are more or less purifed according to their elevation. Each population is a large family made up of sympathetic spirits. The tendency of the members of these families to unite is the source of the similarity that forms the distinctive character of each population. Do you think that good and compassionate spirits would want to be a part of a hard and unrefned population? No, spirits sympathize with the masses in the same manner that they sympathize with individuals. They go to the region where they will fnd the most harmony with the inhabitants.”

216. In its new existence, does a spirit preserve any traces of the moral character exhibited in its former lives?
“Yes, but it changes as it improves. Its social standing may also change greatly in successive lives. After being a master in one existence and becoming a slave in another, their tastes are altogether different and it is diffcult to recognize them. Since it is the same spirit, there may be certain similarities between the manifestations of their character in successive lives, but these manifestations refect the change in conditions and habits particular to each new corporeal life, until the character has improved and completely changed. People who were once arrogant and cruel can become humble and humane through repentance and effort.”

217. Does a person preserve any traces of his or her physical nature from previous lives?
“When the body is destroyed, the new one has no connection to the old one. However, the spirit is refected in the body and despite the body only being matter, it is modeled based on the capacities of the spirit. Therefore, the latter imprints a specifc character that is most visible in the face, especially in the eyes which have been called the true window to the soul. In short, the face refects the soul more than the rest of the body. An extremely ugly face can even be attractive when it is the outer shell of a good, wise, and humane spirit. On the other hand, a handsome or beautiful face may not trigger any agreeable feelings, or may even incite repulsion. At frst sight, it may seem that only strong, healthy bodies could serve as the envelopes for good spirits. Yet every day we see virtuous and superior people with deformed bodies. Without the existence of any distinctive likeness between them, the similarity of tastes and inclinations may bestow a family-likeness upon the physical bodies successively embodying the same spirit.”

As the body housing the soul in a new incarnation does not have any essential connection with the one it has left (it may even belong to another race), it would be illogical to assume a series of lives from a likeness that may only be coincidental. Nevertheless, a spirit’s qualities often modify the body used for its manifestations, and give a distinctive look to the face, even in a general manner. This is how hints of nobility and dignity may be found even under the humblest shell, the attempt to disguise the immorality of an individual with luxurious clothing often fails. Some individuals, who have climbed up from the lowest standing, manage to adopt the habits and manners of the higher ranks with little effort as if it were natural, while others, despite their advantages of birth and education, always seem to be out of place in refned society. How can this be explained other than as a refection of a spirit’s past lives?

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