Allan Kardec

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1012. Are there any specific places in the universe set apart for the joys and sorrows of spirits, according to their merit?
“We have already answered this question. The joys and sorrows of spirits are inherent to their degree of perfection. Each spirit finds the principle of its happiness or unhappiness in itself. As spirits are everywhere, there is no enclosed or confined place set apart for either one or the other. As for incarnated souls, they are more or less happy depending on how advanced their world is.”

a) Does this mean that heaven and hell, as people have imagined them, do not exist?
“They are only symbols. There are happy and unhappy spirits everywhere, but as we have also told you, spirits of the same order are together by sympathy. When they are perfect, they can meet wherever they like.”

A fixed place for rewards and punishments exists only in the imagination of human beings. It stems from a tendency to materialize and define things of which one cannot grasp the infinite essence.

1013. What should we understand as purgatory?
“It is a state of physical and moral suffering, marked by a period of atonement. It is usually upon the Earth that God affords you the opportunity to experience your purgatory and atone for your mistakes.”

Purgatory is a figure of speech that signifies the state of imperfection of spirits who need to atone for their faults until they attain happiness by achieving complete purification. It is not a specific place. Purification happens through several reincarnations. Consequently, purgatory consists of the trials of physical life.

1014. Why do spirits whose speech reveals them to be superior answer questions from serious individuals about hell and purgatory, according to common beliefs?
“They speak in a language that is understandable to the people who pose the questions understand. When these individuals are deeply immersed in preconceived ideas, the spirits avoid interfering with their convictions. If a spirit were to tell a Muslim, without the proper precautions, that Mohammed was not a true prophet, it would be poorly received.”

a) That is understandable for spirits who want to educate us. How is it that others, when questioned about their situation, reply that they are suffering the tortures of hell or purgatory?
“When they are inferior, and not completely dematerialized, they retain some of their earthly ideas, and describe their impressions using terms that are familiar to them. Their state allows them to obtain only a very flawed view of the future. This is why errant spirits, or those recently freed from their physical bodies, often speak in the same manner as they did during physical life. Hell means a life of extremely difficult trials, characterized by uncertainty with regards to improvement, while purgatory is a life of trials embarked upon with the certainty of a happier future. When you experience intense pain, do you not say that you are suffering as a cursed soul? The expression is only a figure of speech.”

1015. What should we understand as “a tormented spirit”?
“An errant and suffering spirit, uncertain of the future, and to whom you may provide assistance that it often requests by contacting you in its attempt to obtain relief.” (See no. 664)

1016. How should we understand the concept of heaven?
“Do you think that it is a place like the Elysium of Greek mythology, where all good spirits are crowded together haphazardly, with no other care than that of enjoying passive happiness for eternity? No, it is universal space. It is the planets, the stars and all the higher worlds where spirits enjoy all their faculties fully, without having to experience the ills or misfortunes of material life, or the suffering that is characteristic of inferiority.”

1017. Spirits have said that they inhabit the fourth and fifth heaven, and so on. What did they mean by this?
“You ask them which heaven they live in because you have the idea that there are different levels of heavens, like stories of a home, so they answer you according to your personal beliefs. For them, references to a fourth or fifth heaven mean different degrees of purification and happiness. The same applies when you ask a spirit whether it is in hell. If it is unhappy, it says yes because hell is synonymous with suffering. However, it knows perfectly well that it is not a furnace. A Pagan would have replied that it was in Tartarus.”

The same may be said of other similar expressions, such as “the city of flowers,” “the city of the elect,” “the first, second, or third sphere,” and so on, which are only allegories used by some spirits figuratively, whether out of ignorance about the nature of reality, or simply because they lack any knowledge of even the most elementary principles of science.

According to the restricted idea of specific locations for rewards and punishments, and the common belief that Earth was the center of the universe, that the sky formed a vault, and that there was a region of stars, people placed heaven up above and hell down below. This resulted in expressions such as to “ascend to heaven,” to be in “the highest heaven,” to be “cast down into hell,” and so on. Astronomy has mapped out Earth’s history and described its formation. Today science has demonstrated that the Earth is one of the smallest worlds in space and has no special significance, that space is infinite, and that there is neither up nor down in the universe. As a result, it has become necessary to stop placing heaven above the clouds and hell in the depths of the Earth. There was never a specific space assigned to purgatory. Spiritism provides the most rational, impressive and consoling explanation about all these three subjects to human beings. It shows us that heaven and hell exist in ourselves. In a similar vein, we find purgatory in the state of incarnation in our successive corporeal or physical lives.

1018. How should we interpret Christ’s words, “My kingdom is not of this world?”
“When he replied in such a manner, Christ was speaking figuratively. He meant to say that he only reigned over pure and unselfish hearts. He is wherever the love of goodness reigns, but those who are greedy for or attached to the things of this world are not with him.”

1019. Will goodness ever reign on Earth?
“Goodness will reign on Earth when among the spirits who come to live here the good outnumber the bad ones. They will usher in a reign of love and justice, which is the source of goodness and happiness. Through moral progress and adhering to God’s laws, humanity will attract good spirits to Earth and will keep the bad ones away. However, the latter will not definitively leave Earth until its people are completely free of pride and selfishness.”

“The transformation of humanity was predicted, and you are now approaching the time when it is destined to take place. Progress will happen when higher spirits incarnate and create a new generation on Earth. The wicked spirits who die each day and all who try to halt advancement are excluded and forced to incarnate somewhere other than Earth. They would be out of place among the honorable members of the human race, whose happiness is impaired by their presence. They will go to new, less advanced worlds, where they will carry out difficult missions. These missions will provide them with the means of advancing, while contributing to the advancement of their younger, less evolved brothers and sisters. In this exclusion, do you not see the true significance of the transcendent image of the Paradise lost? Do you not also see in the appearance of human beings on Earth under similar conditions and carrying the seeds of passions, as well as proof of their primitive inferiority within themselves, the real meaning of original sin? Considered from this perspective, original sin consists of the imperfection of human nature. Therefore, each member of the human race is only responsible for their own imperfection and wrongdoing, and not for that of their ancestors.”

“All of you, people of faith and goodwill must enthusiastically and courageously devote yourselves to the noble work of regeneration. You will in turn reap a hundredfold for every seed you sow. Woe to those who close their eyes against the light, because they will sentence themselves to centuries of darkness and sorrow! Woe to those who focus their happiness on the things of this world, because they will suffer hardships that far exceeds their present joys! And above all, woe to the selfish, because they will find no one to help them bear the burden of their misery.” Saint Louis

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