Allan Kardec

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304. Does a spirit remember its physical life?
“Yes, since a spirit has lived as a human being many times, it remembers what it has been and often laughs at the foolishness of its past.” Like adults who laugh when reminiscing about the foolishness of their youth and the silliness of their childhood.

305. Do spirits spontaneously recover memory of their physical life immediately after death?
“No, it comes back to them little by little, like objects gradually becoming visible out of a fog once they focus on it.”

306. Does a spirit remember every detail of its life? Can it grasp its entire life at a single retrospective glance?
“Depending on the infuence things have had on its state as a spirit, it remembers them more or less clearly. However, we should understand there are many trivial things in its life of no importance; as such, the spirit does not even try to remember them.”

a) Could it remember them if it wanted to remember?
“It could recall the most obscure details of every incident of its life, even of its thoughts. However, a spirit will not choose to do this if it does not fulfll a useful purpose.”

b) Does it understand the purpose of its physical life in relation to the future life?
“Of course, it sees it and understands it better than when incarnated in the living. It understands the need for purifcation to reach God, and it knows that some of its impurities are shed in each existence.”

307. How does a spirit recall its past life? Is it through an effort of imagination, or is it like a picture right before its eyes?
“Both. Everything that it is interested in remembering appears to it as if it were present. Others life events appear more or less vaguely in its thoughts, or are forgotten entirely. The more dematerialized the spirit is, the less importance it attaches to material things. When we communicate with an errant spirit who has just left this world, it often forgets the names of people it liked or other details that may seem important to you. They are inconsequential to the spirit and it erases them from its memory. However, it remembers perfectly the main events of its life that have contributed to its improvement.”

308. Does a spirit recall all the lives that have preceded the one it has just left?
“Its entire past unfurls before it like the legs of a journey completed by a traveler. As we have told you, it does not precisely remember all its past actions. It can only remember them in proportion to the impact they have had on its present state. Its earliest lives are hazy, like infancy for instance, and swallowed by the night of oblivion.”

309. How does a spirit view the body that it has just vacated?
“As uncomfortable clothing that encumbered it. It is elated to fnally be rid of it.”

a) How does it feel when it sees the decomposition of its body?
“Almost always indifferent, like something it no longer cares about.”

310. In time, does a spirit recognize the remains that once belonged to it?
“Sometimes, but this depends on a more or less elevated perspective with regard to material matters.”

311. Does respect for the material items once owned by a spirit attract its attention to those objects, and is it pleased by this respect?
“A spirit is always happy to be remembered by those it has left behind. The objects preserved jog the memory of those holding onto them; however a spirit is attracted by their thought and not the objects themselves.”

312. Do spirits preserve the memory of the pain and suffering that they endured in their last physical life?
“They often do and this memory further accentuates the happiness they enjoy as spirits.”

313. Do people who have been happy in their physical lives miss their earthly pleasures when they leave this world?
“Only lower order spirits miss pleasures that accompany the impurity of their nature, and which must be atoned by suffering. Higher spirits prefer the happiness of eternity to the feeting happiness of human life.” Just as an adult despises the delights of his or her youth.

314. When individuals have initiated important endeavors for a worthwhile cause and their lives are cut short by death, do they regret leaving the work unfnished when they reach the other world?
“No, because they understand that others are destined to complete them. On the contrary, they try to inspire other people to carry on what they left behind. Their goal in this world is to be useful to the human race, and it is the same in the spirit world.”

315. When individuals leave behind works of art or literature, are they still as interested in these matters when they reach the spirit world as they were in this world?
“They view them from a different perspective, according to their elevation, and often criticize what they once admired.”

316. Is a spirit interested in the unfolding of events in this world that affect the progress of the arts and sciences?
“That depends on its degree of elevation, and the mission it may have to accomplish. What appears brilliant to you is often trivial to spirits. If they take an interest in it, it is only as a teacher takes an interest in the work of a schoolboy. They survey all indications of elevation for incarnated spirits and take note of their progress.”

317. Do spirits retain a love of their country and patriotism after death?
“For elevated spirits, their country is the universe. In terms of the Earth, they only prefer the spot wherever the most like-minded individuals assemble.”

A spirit’s circumstances and perspectives are infnitely diverse according to their many degrees of moral and intellectual development. Higher spirits generally stay on Earth for short periods of time. Everything that happens here is so trivial in comparison to the splendor of infnity, yet human beings attach so much importance to incredibly foolish matters. Higher spirits have very little interest in earthly things, unless they have been sent here with a mission to contribute to the progress of its people. Lower spirits visit our Earth more frequently, but have a higher perspective of earthly matters than humans. Most spirits are sedentary and make up the ambient population of the invisible world. They retain the same ideas and tastes that they had while clad with their corporeal envelope, and intermingle at our gatherings, in business, and during pastimes. According to their character, they partake in all of these matters more or less actively. No longer able to satisfy their material passions, they relish watching those who immerse themselves in their indulgences and encourage them to do so. Some have better inclinations and simply watch and observe in order to bring about their advancement by acquiring knowledge.

318. Do spirits change their ideas when in the spirit state?
“Very often. A spirit’s ideas undergo drastic changes as it becomes dematerialized. It may occasionally retain the same ideas for a long period of time, but gradually the infuence of matter diminishes, and it sees more clearly. Eventually, a moment arrives when it seeks the means of advancing.”

319. As spirits have already lived in the spirit world before they incarnate here, why are they astonished when they re-enter that world?
“This feeling is only feeting, and results from the confusion that follows their waking. They soon recover their consciousness as the memory of the past comes back to them, and the impression of the earthbound life is erased.” (163 et seq.)

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