983. When atoning for faults in a new existence, does a spirit experience material suffering? If so, is it correct to say that the soul only experiences moral suffering after death?
“It is very true that when the soul is reincarnated, it is forced to suffer the trials of physical life. However, only the body experiences material suffering.”
“You often say that when someone dies that they no longer suffer, but this is not always true. A spirit no longer experiences physical pain, but depending on their imperfections, they may have to bear more severe moral suffering, and may be even unhappier in a new life. Those who are greedy beg for bread and are prey to all the miseries of poverty. The proud experience all types of humiliation and those who have abused their authority and treated subordinates poorly must obey an even crueler master. All the tribulations of life are atonements for the faults committed in a previous life, unless they are the consequence of faults committed in the present life. When you leave your present life, you will understand this.” (See nos. 273, 393, 399)
“People who consider themselves happy on Earth because they are able to satisfy their passions make little effort to improve themselves. Such ephemeral happiness is often atoned in the present life, but certainly it can be atoned in another life that is equally material.”
984. Are all major adversities in our current earthly lives always an atonement for current faults committed by us?
“No, we have already told you that they are trials imposed by God, or chosen by you in the spirit state before your reincarnation to atone for the faults committed by you in a previous life. No violation of God’s laws, especially of the law of justice, ever remains unpunished and a corrective measure will sooner or later always take place. If you do not correct it in the same life, you will certainly have to correct it in another. This is why individuals whom you view as fair-minded are often tormented by the faults of their past.” (See no. 393)
985. When a spirit reincarnates in a more advanced world, is this a reward?
“It is a consequence of its purification. As spirits become purified, they reincarnate in progressively higher worlds, until having rid themselves of all materiality, wash away all impurities, and entering the eternal happiness of fully purified spirits in God’s heart.”
In worlds where the conditions of existence are less material than ours, the wants of their inhabitants are less crude and their physical suffering is less acute. The people from those worlds no longer possess the vile passions that make them each other’s enemies in lower worlds. Having no motives for hatred or jealousy, they live in peace because they practice the law of justice, love and charity and experience none of the worries and anxieties incited by envy, pride and selfishness that torment us on Earth. (See nos. 172, 182)
986. Can spirits who have progressed in their terrestrial life reincarnate in the same world?
“Yes, and if they have not been able to accomplish their mission, they may ask to complete it in a new life. In that case, it is no longer an atonement for them.” (See no.173)
987. What becomes of the person who, without doing wrong, does nothing to be free from the influence of matter?
“Since such individuals have made no progress towards perfection, they have to begin a new life of the same nature as the one they have left. They remain stationary and prolong the suffering of atonement.”
988. There are individuals whose lives are perfectly calm, who have nothing to do for themselves and are exempt from all worries. Is their good fortune proof that they have nothing to repent from any former existence?
“Do you know many such people? If you think you do, you are mistaken. Such lives are often only calm on the surface. A spirit may have chosen such a life, but after leaving it, it realizes that it has not helped it move forward, and it regrets the time it has wasted in idleness.”
“Bear in mind that a spirit can only acquire knowledge and elevation through activity, so if it sleeps without a care in the world, it does not advance. It is as though it (according to your world) needs to work, but goes off for a stroll or goes to bed with the intention of doing nothing. Bear in mind that each of you must answer for voluntary uselessness, and that such uselessness is always lethal to your future happiness. The sum of that happiness is exactly proportionate to the sum of the good that you have done, while the sum of your unhappiness is always proportionate to the sum of the wrongs you have done, and how many you have made unhappy.”
989. There are individuals who although are not bad, make everyone around them unhappy due to their character. What consequences shall they suffer?
“Such individuals are definitely not good, and they will atone for this wrong by being in contact with people whom they have made unhappy. This is a constant atonement for them. In another life, they will endure all that they have caused others to endure.”