THE SPIRITS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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943. What causes the distaste for life that sometimes takes hold of people without any discernible reason?
“Idleness, lack of conviction and often satiety. When people use their abilities in the pursuit of some useful aim that is in line with their natural aptitudes, their work is not dull. Life passes quickly, and they are able to bear the reversals of life patiently and with resignation. They look forward to a more solid and lasting happiness in the future.”


944. Do human beings have the right to dispose of their own life?
“No, only God has that right. Voluntary suicide is a violation of God’s law.”


a) Is suicide always voluntary?
“No. When a person undergoing a phase of insanity kills him or herself, they have no real knowledge of the act being committed.”


945. What should we think of people who commit suicide because they are sick of life?
“Imprudent people! Why did they not seek out useful work? Life would not have seemed so heavy to them.”


946. What should we think of people who resort to suicide to escape from the troubles and disappointments of this world?
“Poor spirits, who lack the courage to bear the unhappiness of life. God helps those who suffer valiantly, but not those who have neither strength nor courage. The struggles of life are trials or atonements, and those who bear them with resignation are happy because they receive a great reward! Those who believe that their well-being is a result of chance or luck are quite unfortunate! Chance or luck, to borrow their expressions, may favor them for a time, but afterwards the emptiness of those words becomes apparent.”


a) Are people who drive an unhappy person to commit this desperate act accountable for the consequences of their action?
“Yes, and it is severe because they have to answer for those actions as for a murder.”


947. If the struggle with adversity discourages a person and he or she allows himself or herself to die of despair, is it this considered suicide?
“This is suicide, but those who caused the crime or could have prevented it are more to blame than the victims, and the latter are judged compassionately. Nevertheless, they are not absolved completely, if they have shown a lack of resolve and perseverance, or have failed to make the best use of their intelligence to help themselves. It is even harder for them if pride paralyzes their intelligence, or they are embarrassed to earn a living by manual labor and prefer to die of starvation rather than deviate from their social standing. Is there not a hundredfold more honor and dignity in bearing adversity, braving the ill-natured remarks of the vain and selfish, whose goodwill is only for those who are in want of nothing, and who turn a cold shoulder to all who are in need of help? To throw away one’s life on account of such people is even more absurd, seeing that they are completely indifferent to the sacrifice.”


948. Is suicide as disgraceful when committed to escape the shame of having done wrong as when it is prompted by despair?
“Suicide does not erase a fault, and is actually a second fault in addition to the first. People who have the courage to do wrong should have the courage to bear the consequences of their actions. God is our judge, and sometimes the circumstances may be a factor in diminishing the atonement.”


949. Is suicide excusable when committed to avoid bringing disgrace to one’s children or family?
“People who act under this belief do no good, but they think they do, and God takes their intention into consideration. Intention lessens the fault, but it is a fault nevertheless. When you have eliminated your social prejudices and injustices, you will have no more suicides.” People who take their own lives to escape the shame of a bad action prove that they attach more value to the opinion of other people than to that of God. They return to the spirit world burdened by their wrongdoings. As a result, they deprive themselves of the atonement planned for the current life. God is not as inexorable as human beings are. God pardons those who sincerely repent and takes into account our efforts to remedy our wrongs, but suicide resolves nothing.


950. What should we think of people who kill themselves hoping to reach a happier state of existence sooner?
“What foolish logic! If a person does good works, he or she is much more certain of reaching that happiness. Suicide delays the entrance into a better world, those who have committed this act eventually ask to come back to Earth to complete the life that they mistakenly cut short. A fault, no matter what it may be, can never open the door to the sanctuary of the good.”


951. Is the sacrifice of one’s life admirable when it is made to save the lives of others or to be useful to them?
“When incurred for such an end, it is inspirational. However, such a voluntary sacrifice of life is not suicide. God disapproves of useless sacrifices, and when pride tarnishes the intention as well. A sacrifice is only admirable when disinterested. If accomplished with a selfish end in mind, its value decreases in God’s eyes.”


Every sacrifice at the cost of our own happiness made for the sake of others is extremely commendable in God’s eyes because it fulfills the law of charity. Life is a human being’s most valuable earthly possession. Those who renounce it for the good of fellow beings rather than committing a crime are making the ultimate sacrifice. However, before making this sacrifice they should consider whether their life could be more useful than their death.


952. Are people who fall victim to excessive indulgence in passions that they know will hasten their death, but to which they are uncontrollably addicted to, committing suicide?
“This is moral suicide. Do you not see that in this case such persons are even guiltier? They are guilty of lacking resolve, of the sin of depravity, and of neglecting God.”


a) Would this person be more or less guilty than the person who commits suicide out of despair?
“Such individuals are guiltier because they had time to reflect on the suicidal nature of the course they are pursuing. When a person commits suicide impulsively, sometimes a degree of confusion or disorientation is quite similar to madness. The former is punished much more severely than the latter as the penalties for a crime are always proportionate to the consciousness and intention of the wrong committed.”


953. When people face an unavoidable and terrifying death, are they guilty for abridging their sufferings by a voluntary death?
“It is always wrong not to wait for the end appointed by God. Besides, how can people tell whether the end of their life has really come, or whether some unexpected help may reach them at what they believe to be their last breath?”


a) We admit that in ordinary circumstances suicide is reprehensible, but what about the times when death is unavoidable, and life can be abbreviated for only a few moments?
“It always means a lack of resignation and submissiveness to the will of the Creator.”


b) In this case, what are the consequences of this action?
“Atonement proportioned to the gravity of the mistake, according to the circumstances under which it was committed, as always.”


954. Is there any guilt in an imprudent action that has unnecessarily caused loss of life?
“There is no guilt where there is no positive intention or consciousness of doing harm.”


955. In some countries, women voluntarily burn themselves with the body of their husbands. Are they guilty of suicide and punished for the crime?
“They obey the dictates of prejudice and are often the victims of force rather than their own free will. They believe that they are carrying out a duty, and such an act does not constitute suicide. Their excuse is in the moral bankruptcy and ignorance of the majority of them. All such barbaric and stupid customs will disappear with the development of civilization.”


956. Do those who are unable to bear the loss of loved ones and kill themselves in the hope of rejoining them in the afterlife attain their goal?
“In such cases, the result of suicide is the opposite of what they desire. Instead of a reunion with their loved one, those who make this sad mistake find themselves separated for a very long time from the precise being they hoped to rejoin. God cannot grant a favor and reward an act that is proof of moral cowardice. It is also an insult as it shows distrust in God’s plans. They pay for their foolishness with sorrows that are greater than those they fancied they were about to shorten, and for which they are not compensated by the satisfaction they hoped to obtain.” (See no. 934 et seq.)


957. Generally speaking, what are the effects of suicide on the state of the spirit?
“The consequences of suicide vary because the penalties it entails always correspond to the circumstances that have led to its occurrence. The one unavoidable consequence is disappointment; the rest depends on the circumstances. Some of those who kill themselves atone for their fault right away; others do so in a new human life that is even harder than the one whose course they have interrupted.”


Observation has confirmed that the consequences of suicide are not the same in all cases. Some of the consequences that result from a sudden interruption of life are the same in all cases of violent death. The major outcome is a greater tenacity and subsequent persistence of the link that unites the spirit and the body to break. In nearly all such cases, this connection is in its full strength at the time of rupture. When death is the result of natural causes, the link weakens gradually and may disconnect before the complete expiration of life. The consequences of this situation are, first, extension of the confusion following death, and second, the illusion that the spirit is still living on Earth. (See nos. 155, 165)


In some suicide cases, the affinity that continues to exist between the spirit and the body produces a sort of repercussion from the state of the body on the spirit. The spirit then, forcibly, perceives the effects of the body’s decomposition and experiences intense anguish and horror. This state may continue for the length of time the interrupted life would have lasted. This is not a fundamental result of suicide. However, people who voluntarily shorten their lives never escape the consequences of their lack of courage. In one way or another, eventually, they must make amends for their faults. In this manner, some spirits who were very unhappy on Earth reveal that they committed suicide in previous lives as well, and voluntarily submit to new trials to try to bear them with resignation. In some cases, the result of suicide is a sort of connection with matter, from which they vainly try to break free in order to ascend to happier worlds. Something blocks them from accessing these realms. In other cases, they regret the futile deed and from which they have gained nothing but disappointment.


Religion, morality and every philosophy condemn suicide as contradicting the law of nature. They all stress the principle that we have no right to shorten our lives voluntarily. Nonetheless, why do we not have that right? Why are we not free to put an end to our suffering? Spiritism focuses upon numerous examples of those who have yielded to this temptation in order to show that suicide is not only a fault and violation of moral law (something that is of little significance to some), but it is also foolish because a spirit gains nothing by it. Spiritism does not just preach this theoretically; it lays out the facts before our eyes.

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