611. Is the common origin of the intelligent principle of living beings part of the doctrine of metempsychosis?
“Two things can share the same origin and no longer resemble one another at a later period in time. Who would recognize a tree, with its leaves, fowers and fruit, in the shapeless germ contained in the seed from which it has sprouted? When the intelligent principle reaches the degree of development necessary to become a spirit and enters the human phase it has no more relationship with its primitive state.
It is no longer the soul of a beast as the tree is no longer a seed. In the human phase, there is the animal-like body and the passions that result from the infuence of the body combined with the instincts of self-preservation that are intrinsic to all matter. Therefore, one cannot state that such and such a person is the incarnation of such and such an animal. and this commonly understood version of the doctrine of metempsychosis is inaccurate.”
612. Can a spirit that has animated a human body incarnate in an animal?
“No, because this would be a regression and a spirit never regresses. A river does not fow back to its source.” (See no. 118)
613. However fawed the theory of metempsychosis may be, could this doctrine be a result of an intuitive recollection of the different lives of human beings?
“We fnd the idea of an intuitive recollection in this theory and in many others, but as in the case of most of their intuitive ideas, humans have distorted it.”
Metempsychosis would be true if it were understood to be the progression of the soul from a lower to a higher state, in which it acquires the new development that transforms its nature. However, when understood to mean that any animal can transmigrate directly into a human, and a human into an animal, which would imply regression or fusion, it is false. The fact that fusion is not possible between different species is an indication of their contrasting degrees, and that must also be the case with the spirits that bring life to them. If the same spirit could animate them interchangeably, it would imply the existence of something that could manifest itself only by the possibility of physical reproduction.
The spirits teach us that reincarnation is founded on nature’s ascending movement and the development of humans within their own species. This does not undermine the dignity of humans in no way. What degrades human beings is the bad use they make of the abilities that God has given them for their advancement. Be what it may, the antiquity and universality of the doctrine of metempsychosis, and the number of well-respected individuals who support it proves that the root of reincarnation is nature itself. Rather than diminishing the likelihood that it is truth, this fact must be understood as a substantial argument in its favor.
Questions about the origin of a spirit encompass the origin of all things and God’s secret designs. Human beings are not meant to fully understand them and can only form more or less probable hypotheses and theories in this respect. The spirits 232 Allan Kardec - The Spirits’ Book are far from knowing everything and may also have, in regard to what they do not know, individual opinions that may or may not be supported by fact.
This is why all spirits do not think alike with regard to the relations that exist between humans and animals. According to some, the spirit can only incarnate as a human after passing through the different degrees of the lower beings of creation. According to others, people have always belonged to the human race, without passing through the various degrees of the animal world. The former theory has the advantage of giving a purpose to the future of animals, which form the earliest links in the chain of thinking beings. The latter theory is more consistent with the dignity of human beings, and it is summarized below.
The different species of animals do not intellectually proceed from one another by progression. In other words, the spirit of an oyster does not successively become that of a fsh, bird, quadruped, and quadrumane. Each species is a physical and moral absolute, and each individual draws the sum of the intelligent principle that is necessary from the universal source depending on the nature of its body and the work it has to accomplish in nature. This intelligent principle is restored to the general mass at its death. Beings from worlds more advanced than ours (see no. 188) are also distinct races that correspond to the needs of those worlds, and the degree of advancement of the individuals who live there. However, they do not spiritually proceed from the human beings on earth. It is not the same with humans. From a physical perspective, humans form a link in the chain of living beings, but morally speaking, there is a solution of continuity between animals and humans. Humans alone possess the soul, or spirit, the Divine spark that gives them the moral sense and extended vision that animals sorely lack. This spark is the principal being within them, preexistent to and surviving their bodies, and preserving their individuality.
What is the origin of the spirit? What is its initial starting point? Is it formed from the individualized intelligent principle? That is a mystery that would pointless to try to penetrate, and regarding which, as we have said, we can only build theories. What can be confrmed by both reason and experience is the survival of each spirit and the persistence of its individuality after death, its ability to develop, with the happiness of its next life depending on its advancement and all the moral consequences that fow from this certainty. Like so many other things that are currently of little signifcance to our advancement and useless for us to dwell on, the mysterious relation that exists between humans and animals, we repeat, is one of God’s secrets.