THE SPIRITS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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INTRODUCTION

I

New words are needed to convey new ideas clearly and to avoid the inevitable confusion that ensues from using the same term for expressing different concepts. The words spiritual, spiritualist, and spiritualism each have a given meaning that is specifc. To attribute a new meaning to these words by applying it to Spiritism merely increases the numerous causes of ambiguity that already exist.

In actuality, spiritualism is the opposite of materialism. Anyone who believes that something more than matter exists inside of us is a spiritualist, but this does not necessarily mean that they believe in the existence of spirits or their communication with the physical world. It is with this distinction in mind that we avoid the use of spiritual and spiritualism and instead, use Spiritist and Spiritism to describe the latter belief. These words indicate their origin and root meaning, and have the advantage of being perfectly clear and understandable. Therefore, we reserve the word spiritualism for its commonly accepted meaning and the central principle of Spiritism as the relationship of the physical world with spirits or beings that inhabit the invisible world. We refer to the adherents and supporters of Spiritism as Spiritists.

The Spirits’ Book contains the principles of Spiritism, which is generally associated with the spiritualist school, of which it presents one perspective. This is why Spiritualist Philosophy appears at the top of the title page.


II


Another word that must be defned is soul, because it is the cornerstone of every moral belief system, and, due to the lack of a clear-cut defnition, it has been the subject of many controversies. The differences of opinion concerning the nature of the soul directly stem from the plethora of meanings attributed to this word. A perfect language would have a unique term for every idea and concept, thus avoiding many debates and arguments, and misinterpretations would be impossible.

Some defne the soul as the principle of organic life, with no existence of its own and ending with the life of the body. According to this belief, otherwise known as materialism, the soul is an effect and not a cause.

Others believe that the soul is the principle of intelligence, the universal agent of which each being absorbs a portion. According to this theory, there is only one soul for the entire universe that distributes sparks of itself to all intelligent beings. When these beings die, each spark returns to the common source and rejoins the general whole, just as streams and rivers fow back to the ocean from which they were originally produced. This opinion differs from the previous belief in that there is something more than matter that resides in us, and it continues to exist even after our death. However, practically speaking, it is as if nothing remains of us after death since all sense of individuality is lost and we lose all perception of our identity. According to this theory, the universal soul is God and each being is a fragment of the Supreme Being. This is a variation of Pantheism.

Yet, there are people who view the soul as a moral being. Completely distinct and free from matter, this being preserves its individuality after death. This interpretation of the word soul is unquestionably the most widely received, because the idea of a being surviving the body is an instinctive belief, independent of all teachings, evidence of which may be found across all nations, ethnic groups and religions, regardless of their degree of civilization. This doctrine, which dictates that the soul is a cause and not an effect, is supported by spiritualists.

Without delving into the actual merits of these opinions, and only taking into consideration the linguistic aspects, these three applications of the word soul derive from three clear-cut ideas, each requiring a different term. Soul, therefore, has a triple signifcance, and is used by each ideology according to the different meaning it attaches to that word. The fault truly lies in the fact that human languages have only one word to convey three ideas. To avoid the confusion that naturally ensues from using the same word to express three different ideas, the meaning of soul must be limited to only one of them. It is irrelevant to which idea it is attributed, provided that the choice is clearly understood and agreed upon. In our opinion, the most logical action would be to attribute to the word soul its most widespread and commonly understood meaning, which is why we use it to indicate the immaterial and individual being residing within us that survives the body. Even if this being did not actually exist and were only a fgment of the imagination, a specifc term would still be needed for it.

Given the lack of a specifc term for each of the other two ideas, we use the term vital principle to defne the material and organic life that is common to all living beings regardless of its source, from plants to humankind. As life can exist when a being does not have the ability to think, the vital principle is a distinct and independent element.

The word vitality does not express the same idea. According to some, the vital principle is a property of matter, produced wherever matter is found under specifc conditions. In contrast, most believe that it resides in a special, universally circulated fuid, of which each being absorbs a portion during life. This effect can be compared to how inert bodies absorb light. This is the vital fuid, which is generally regarded as being the same as the animalized electric fuid, also known as magnetic fuid, nervous fuid, and so on.

Regardless, one fact, proven by observation, is certain. Organic beings possess an intrinsic force that, for as long as it is present, produces the phenomena of life. All organic beings possess this physical life, which is independent of intelligence and thought. Intelligence and thought are faculties belonging to select organic species, and among those gifted with intelligence and thought, only one possesses a special moral sense that renders it indisputably superior over all others: human beings.

Because it has multiple meanings, the term soul excludes neither Materialism nor Pantheism. Spiritualists themselves understand soul to have one of the frst two defnitions, without denying the distinct immaterial being to which it would give another name. This word does not represent an opinion, rather it is a versatile term defned by each individual according to his or her own school of thought. As such, this is an endless source of dispute.

Confusion could be avoided by adding a descriptive term, when using the word soul in the three cases defned above, that would specify the perspective or the manner in which we apply it. This word would be generic, representing the principles of material life, intelligence and moral judgment, each of which would be distinguished by a specifc feature or characteristic. This method is employed, for instance, for the word gas by adding the words hydrogen, oxygen or nitrogen. Therefore, we could say – and perhaps it would be the best approach – vital soul for the principle of material life, intellectual soul for the principle of intelligence, and spiritual soul for the principle of our individuality after death. This is merely a question of words, but it is crucial for ensuring clarity and understanding. In this case, the vital soul would belong to all organic beings, plants, animals and humans; the intellectual soul would specifcally belong to animals and humans; and the spiritual soul would belong to humankind alone.


It is very important to be explicit in regard to this point, because Spiritism is naturally based on the existence of a being inside us that is completely independent of matter and that lives on after the body has succumbed to death. The word soul appears frequently throughout this work; therefore, it is critical to defne the meaning that we attach to it to avoid any potential disputes or misunderstandings. We can now move along to the main object of this preliminary explanation.

III

Spiritism, as with all new concepts and belief systems, has both ardent supporters and staunch detractors. We will attempt to counter some of the objections formulated by its critics. We will scrutinize the merit of the reasoning on which such criticism is based, admitting beforehand that we will not be able to convince everyone because some people believe that enlightenment was intended solely for them. We are not claiming that we will be able to convert or sway everybody, but we are primarily addressing those who, without clinging to prejudices or preconceived ideas, honestly seek the truth. We will prove to these individuals that our critics’ objections are the consequence of a failure to observe all the facts thoroughly, yielding a predictably superfcial and hasty conclusion.

First, we must briefy summarize the progressive series of phenomena that gave birth to Spiritism.

The frst fact observed was the movement of various objects, commonly known as table-turning or table-tipping. This phenomenon, frst observed in the United States (or more accurately, reintroduced in that country as history proves that it can be traced back to the earliest periods of antiquity) was accompanied by strange occurrences, such as unusual noises, knocking sounds with no discernible cause, and other similar incidences. This phenomenon rapidly spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Initially it was met with skepticism, but the sheer volume of occurrences soon made it impossible to question its authenticity.

If the phenomenon in question had been limited to the movement of physical objects, it could have been explained by any solely physical cause. After all, we are far from being fully aware of the secret agents of nature, or even from fully understanding all the properties of those which are known to us. For example, electricity is not only increasing the resources it offers humankind on a daily basis, but it appears to be on the brink of shedding new light on science. Subsequently, it could not be conclusively ruled out that electricity, modifed by given circumstances or some other unknown agent, might be the cause of these movements. The presence of multiple individuals increasing the intensity of the action appeared to bolster this hypothesis, because this gathering could be viewed as forming a battery, the power of which was in proportion to the number of its components.

The circular movement of the table was in no way shocking or unexpected. After all, circular movement is frequently found in nature, take the stars and planets of the universe for example. All stars move in circles and therefore it seemed possible that the movement of the tables was a small-scale impulse or reaction of the movement of the universe. Some cause, unknown up until now, could accidentally produce a current for small objects that would be parallel to those forces that propel the planets into orbit.

However, not only was the movement not always circular, it was often erratic, with the table sometimes being violently shaken, toppled, carried around in various directions, lifted off the ground, and held up in the air, all contrary to the known laws of static electricity and gravity. Despite all this, nothing occurred that could not be explained by the force of an invisible physical agent. It is not uncommon to see electricity topple buildings, uproot trees and hurl extremely heavy objects far distances, through either the force of attraction or repulsion. The knocking and other unusual noises, assuming that it is caused by something other than ordinary wood expansion or any other accidental cause, could very well be manufactured by the accumulation of a mysterious fuid. It has been observed, after all, that electricity is capable of producing the loudest sounds.

Up to this point, everything can be considered as merely being an effect of physics or physiology. Without venturing outside these two felds of science, these phenomena generated a subject that was quite worthy of serious study and scrutiny by scholars. Why was this investigation never completed? As diffcult as it may be to admit, the complete disregard of the scientifc and academic world was based on something that once again demonstrates the superfciality of the human mind.

First of all, the ordinary nature of the basis for the frst experiments played a decisive role in this derision. The infuence exerted by a simple word in regard to even the most serious matters is incredible! Without considering the possibility that this movement could be produced with any object, the use of tables was automatically associated with it. This deduction was undeniably made because a table is the most convenient object with which to experiment, and because people can sit around a table more easily than any other piece of furniture. However, people who pride themselves on their intellect are sometimes foolish and one can see how many leading minds may have considered it beneath them to give any credibility to what was commonly known as table dancing. If what had been observed by Galvani had been discovered by an illiterate or uneducated person and christened with a ridiculous name, it probably would have been relegated to a position right alongside the divining rod. What scientist would not, in that case, have considered it offensive to study frog dancing?

Nevertheless, a few individuals who were humble enough to admit that nature might not yet have revealed all her secrets to humankind, attempted to investigate the matter. However, as the phenomena did not always respond to their trials, and were not always produced to their liking or according to their methods of experimentation, they reached an unfavorable conclusion. Despite that conclusion, the tables continued to turn and, like Galileo, we can say, “And yet it moves!” We may further assert that these phenomena have been produced to such an extent that we have accepted them. Opinions are now only divided with regard to their nature. Can the fact that these phenomena are not always produced in exactly the same manner, or according to the wishes and requirements of each individual observer, be rationally considered an argument against their veracity? The phenomena of electricity and chemistry, for example, are subject to certain conditions. Do we deny their existence simply because they do not occur when those conditions are not present?

Is it that shocking that certain conditions are necessary for the movement of objects by human fuid, or that it should not occur when the observer insists on producing it according to one’s own whims, or in subjecting it to the laws of known phenomena, without considering that new facts may result from the action of laws that are new to us? In order to learn about such laws, the circumstances under which those occurrences are produced must be thoroughly studied. Such a study can only be completed through comprehensive, focused observation.

Some will object that deception is often apparent. We frst ask whether the challengers are positive that what they labeled as deception may not simply be facts for which they are not yet able to account, like a peasant who misconstrued the experiments of a physics professor for the tricks of an illusionist. Even if we admit that deception occasionally occurs in some cases, can it serve as grounds for denying the authenticity of all facts or occurrences? Should we deny the existence of physics simply because some illusionists call themselves physicists? Similarly, the integrity of the individuals involved in these manifestations should be considered, as well as any interest that they may have in deceiving others. Could it be a joke? A joke may be funny at frst, but if kept up for too long, it becomes as tiresome for the hoaxer as for the victim. Besides, a hoax that manages to be successfully carried out from one end of the Earth to the other, among the most upright and educated minds, would be as extraordinary as the phenomena in question, if not more so.


IV


If these phenomena had been limited to the movement of objects, they would have remained within the realm of physical science, as we already explained. This proved to be very far from the actual case, as these phenomena were revealed to be only the tip of an even more extraordinary iceberg. However, it was soon discovered that the impulsion communicated to inert objects was not merely the product of a blind mechanical force, but the action of an intelligent cause. This discovery opened up a whole new feld of observation and promised to resolve many mysteries. Is there, in fact, an intelligent power? That is the question at the heart of the matter. If such a power exists, what is it? What is its nature and origin? Is it superhuman? These are the secondary questions that naturally stemmed from the frst.

The initial expressions were communicated through the legs of tables, replying “yes” or “no” to the questions asked by moving up and down, or striking a given number of times. There was nothing conclusive here for skeptics, as these answers could simply be an effect of chance. Before long, however, more complete replies were obtained by means of the object in motion producing a number of knocks that corresponded to the number of each letter of the alphabet, so that words and sentences began to form in reply to the questions asked. The accuracy of these replies and their correlation with the questions asked provoked utter astonishment. When asked about its nature, the mysterious being who gave these replies declared that it was a spirit or genius, gave a name, and even provided specifc information about itself. This response is of substantial signifcance. It proves that no one suggested the idea of spirits as an explanation for the phenomenon, but that the phenomenon provided this explanation itself. Hypotheses are often established in exact sciences to serve as the basis of an argument, but, in this particular instance, this was not the case.

This method of communication was not only diffcult but also tedious. The spirits themselves suggested another method, a factor that is extremely signifcant. One of these invisible beings suggested attaching a pencil to a small basket or another object. This basket, placed upon a sheet of paper, was moved by the same secret power that moved the tables. However, instead of following a simple, regular movement, the pencil traced letters that formed words, sentences, and entire conversations, flling many pages with the answers to the most profound questions of philosophy, morality, metaphysics, psychology, and so on, as rapidly as if written by hand.

This suggestion was made at one and the same time in the United States, France and several other countries. On June 10, 1853 in Paris, one of the most enthusiastic advocates of Spiritism – who had been busily engaged in contacting spirits since 1849 – was offered the suggestion to, “Fetch the small basket from the other room, attach a pencil to it, place it on a sheet of paper, and place your fngers on the edge of the basket.” After these instructions were followed, the basket began to move. A few moments later and the pencil legibly wrote, “I expressly forbid you to repeat to anyone what I have just told you. The next time I write, I will do it better.”

The object holding the pencil is nothing more than an instrument. As such, its nature and form are irrelevant and convenience is the only point to be taken into account. This desire for convenience led to many adopting the use of an instrument known as a planchette.

The basket, or planchette, moves only under the power of mediums, individuals who are gifted with a special power or ability and act as intermediaries between spirits and human beings. The conditions granting this power depend on physical and moral causes that are still not quite understood, as mediums are of all ages, are both female and male, and exhibit every degree of intellectual development. This ability can be developed further by exercise.

V

Next, it was realized that the basket and the planchette merely formed an appendage to the hand. Mediums, directly holding the pencil, found out that they were forced to write under an impulse that was involuntary and often at an intense speed. Not only were the communications carried out more quickly in this manner, but they became easier and more extensive. Today, this method is the most frequently employed and the number of individuals endowed with this gift is substantial, and constantly growing.

Experience gradually revealed several other varieties of the mediumistic faculty, and it was discovered that communications could also be received through speech, hearing, sight, touch, and so on, and even through the direct writing of the spirits themselves, without the assistance of the medium’s hand or a pencil.

After this was established, the role and action taken by the medium in obtaining the replies needed to be determined, both mechanically and morally, and became a crucial point in proving the authenticity of Spiritism. Two points of the utmost importance that could not escape an astute observer answered this question. First is the manner in which the basket moves under the infuence of the medium. The medium simply places his or her fngers on the edge of the basket in such a manner that it would be impossible to guide it in any direction whatsoever. When two or three individuals place their fngers on the same basket at the same time, any sort of control is made even more unfeasible as a truly phenomenal harmony of movements and thoughts would be required to produce the same reply to the question asked. This diffculty is further amplifed by the fact that the handwriting often radically changes with each spirit who communicates, and whenever a given spirit communicates, the same writing is reproduced. A medium would have to train him or herself to change his or her handwriting an infnite number of times, and would also have to memorize the unique penmanship of each spirit.

The second point is the nature of the replies given, which are often beyond the scope of the knowledge or intellectual capacity of the medium, especially when the questions asked are of an abstract or scientifc nature. Mediums are frequently unaware of what they are prompted to write, since the question asked and the reply given may be in a foreign language, or the question may even be asked telepathically. The basket, or the mediums, are often compelled to write spontaneously, without any question being put forward, and regarding a completely random subject.

The replies, in some cases, are marked by such wisdom, depth, and relevance, and convey such elevated and inspiring thoughts, that they could only come from a superior intelligence, instilled with the purest sense of morals and ethics. Other times, they are so banal, shallow, and trivial, that it is impossible to believe they came from the same source. Drastic differences in language can only be explained by the variety of intelligences who communicate with us. Are these intelligences human, or do they transcend humanity? This is the next point to be discussed in this book, the complete explanation of which is provided by the spirits themselves.

These facts, while beyond our usual sphere of observation, do not occur in secret for the beneft of only a single individual. They transpire in broad daylight so that everyone can see them, and are obtained by tens of thousands of individuals every day. These effects have a cause and, as they reveal the action of intelligence and will, they are clearly beyond the realm of merely physical effects.

Many theories have been proposed regarding this subject. We will thoroughly examine these notions at a later time and determine whether they can account for all the phenomena now occurring. For the time being, we will assume that beings distinct from the human race exist, since this is the explanation given by the intelligences communicating with us. Let us see what they say.



VI

The communicating beings call themselves spirits or geniuses, as we have already remarked. In many cases, these spirits belonged to human beings who at one time lived on Earth. They make up the spiritual world, as we make up the physical world during our earthly life.

We will now briefy summarize the critical points of Spiritism that the spirits have communicated to us in order that we may easily counter certain objections.

“God is eternal, absolute, immaterial, unique, all-powerful, supremely just and good.”

“God has created the universe, which comprises all beings, animate and inanimate, material and immaterial.”

“Material beings make up the visible or physical world, and immaterial beings make up the invisible or spiritual world, in other words, the spirit world.”

“The spiritual world is the normal, original and eternal world, preexistent to and surviving everything else.”

“The physical world is only secondary. It could cease to exist, or never have existed, and this would have no effect on the essence of the spiritual world.”

“Spirits temporarily don an ephemeral material envelope, which is destroyed upon death and their freedom is restored.”

“Among the different species of corporeal beings, God has chosen humankind to embody spirits that have reached a particular degree of development. This is what gives humankind its moral and intellectual superiority over all others.”

“The soul is an incarnated spirit whose body solely serves as an envelope.”

“A human being is made up of three things:
1) The body, or material being, similar to animals and animated by the same vital principle;
2) The soul, or immaterial being, a spirit incarnated in the body;
3) The link that bonds the soul and the body together, the liaison between matter and spirit.”

“People therefore has two natures: their bodies give them a physical or animal nature, of which they possess the instincts, and their soul gives them a spiritual nature.”

“The perispirit is a semi-material envelope connecting the body and the spirit. Death is the destruction of the body’s material envelope, but the spirit keeps its second envelope, the perispirit. This envelope is an ethereal body that is invisible to us in its normal state, but spirits can occasionally render it visible, and even tangible, such as the case of apparitions.”

“A spirit is not an abstract, undefned being, conjured up by our imaginations. It is a real, distinct being that, in some cases, can be seen, heard, and touched.”

“Spirits belong to different classes, and are not equal in power, intelligence, knowledge or integrity. Those of the highest order are superior spirits, set apart from those beneath them by their perfection, knowledge, proximity to God, and love of goodness. They are angels or pure spirits. The other classes are progressively further removed from this perfection. Lower ranking spirits are inclined to most of our passions: hatred, envy, jealousy, pride, and so on. They take pleasure in immorality and wrongdoing. There are some who are neither good nor bad, but are mischievous and troublesome rather than malicious. These spirits may be classifed as capricious or foolish spirits.”

“Spirits do not permanently belong to the same order. They are all destined to ultimately reach perfection by passing through the different degrees of the spirit hierarchy. This betterment takes place through incarnation, which is imposed on some as an atonement and on others as a mission. Material life is a trial that must be experienced many times until absolute perfection has been attained. It is a type of flter from which spirits emerge more or less purifed.”

“Upon leaving the body, the soul returns to the spirit world from which it originated, and from which it will enter into a new material existence after a given period of time, during which it will be a wandering spirit.”

“Spirits must incarnate many times; consequently we all have had numerous existences and will have others, more or less perfect, either on Earth or in other worlds.”

“The incarnation of spirits always takes place in the human race. It would be wrong to presume that a soul or spirit could be incarnated in the body of an animal.” (1)

“The succession of a spirit’s corporeal lives are always progressive and never regressive, but the speed of our progress depends on the effort that we put forward to reach perfection.”

“The qualities of our soul are those of the spirit incarnated within us. Therefore, a good person is the incarnation of a good spirit, and a bad person is the incarnation of an impure spirit.”

“The soul has its own individuality before incarnation. This individuality is preserved after its separation from the body.”

“On its return to the spirit world, the soul is reunited with all those it has known on Earth, and all its former lives are eventually recalled, along with the recollection of all the good and bad that it has done.”

“An incarnated spirit is under the complete infuence of matter. Individuals who are able to overcome this infuence, through the elevation and purifcation of their soul, are one step closer to the good spirits, among whom they will one day be placed. Those who allow themselves to be controlled by bad passions and fnd satisfaction in physical appetites lower themselves to the level of impure spirits by allowing their animal natures to reign.”

“Incarnated spirits live in the different worlds of the universe.”

“Wandering spirits, or those that are not incarnated, do not dwell in any fxed region. They are found throughout space and all around us, seeing us and interacting with us on a constant basis. They constitute an invisible population that is constantly active around us.”

“Spirits incessantly exert action over the moral and physical worlds. Acting upon both matter and thought, they constitute one of the powers of nature that effectively causes many phenomena which currently remain unexplained or misinterpreted, and for which only Spiritism provides a rational explanation.”

“Spirits are incessantly involved in relations with humanity. Good spirits try to lead us to what is right, support us through the trials of life, and help us bear these trials with courage and submission. The immoral ones tempt us to do wrong. For them it is a pleasure to see us fail and, thus become more like them.”

“Spirit communications with human beings can be either imperceptible or obvious. They make indiscernible communications through the good or bad infuence that they exert on us without our cognizance. It is our duty to distinguish between good and bad inspirations by exercising our judgment. Obvious communications take place by means of writing, speech, or other physical manifestations, usually through mediums who serve as their instruments.”

“Spirits express themselves spontaneously or in response to being contacted. All spirits may be contacted, from those who have animated the most obscure individuals to those who have been the most famous characters, regardless of the time period in which they lived. Even our own relatives, friends and enemies may be contacted. Through written or verbal communication, we obtain guidance, information regarding their situation beyond the grave, their thoughts regarding us, and whatever revelations they are allowed to make.”

“Spirits are attracted through empathy for the moral nature of those who contact them. Superior spirits enjoy serious-minded sessions, driven by the love of goodness and the genuine desire to learn and improve. Their presence deters inferior spirits, who, on the contrary, are attracted to free access and may freely act on frivolous individuals or those guided by mere curiosity, and wherever immoral instincts are found. Instead of obtaining good advice or useful information from these spirits, nothing is to be expected from them but trivial diversions, lies, tricks, or hoaxes, as they often assume the names of the most respected and recognized individuals in order to more effortlessly lead people astray.”

“It is very easy to distinguish between good and wicked spirits. The type of language that superior spirits employ is always proper, honorable, characterized by the highest integrity, and free of any trace of human passions. Their guidance provides the purest wisdom, and their frst priority is always to aid in our improvement for the good of humankind. In contrast, the communications of inferior spirits are full of inconsistencies, and their language is often thoughtless, trivial and even vulgar. While they sometimes say things that are good and true, they more often make false and ridiculous statements prompted by ignorance or malice. They prey upon the gullibility of those who question them, amusing themselves by fattering their vanity, and duping them with false hopes. In short, enlightening communication is only obtained through serious, thoughtful interactions, in which the participants are connected by an intimate association whose purpose is the pursuit of goodness.”

“The moral philosophy of superior spirits may be summed up, as that of Christ, in the gospel proverb, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ In other words, do good to all and wrong to no one. This provides humankind with a universal rule of conduct, applicable even to those matters which seem the most insignifcant.”

“They teach us that selfshness, pride, and sensuality are passions that cause us to regress to our animal nature by attaching us to matter. Those who detach themselves from matter in their human lives by showing disdain for trivialities and by loving their neighbors bring themselves closer to their spiritual nature. We should all strive to be useful, according to the abilities and means that God has given us. The strong and powerful must help and protect the weak, while those who abuse their strength and power to oppress their fellow human beings violate God’s law. They teach us that nothing is hidden in the spirit world, that hypocrites are exposed, and that everyone’s wretched deeds are disclosed. The inevitable and perpetual presence of those whom we have wronged during our human life is one of the punishments that await us in the spirit world. The lower or higher classifcation of a spirit directly correlates to the experience of sufferings and joys unknown to us on Earth.”

“They also teach us that there are no unforgivable mistakes which cannot be erased by atonement. We accomplish this during the different existences that permit us to progressively advance, according to our desire and the effort we put forward to reach our ultimate goal: perfection.”

This is the summary of Spiritism, as contained in the teachings imparted by the superior spirits. We will now explore the objections to it.


________________________________________________________________________

(1) The difference between reincarnation and metempsychosis is signifcant and is explained later in this book. A.K.


VII

The opposition from the scholarly world, for many, constitutes proof, or at the very least a signifcantly strong argument, supporting the absurdity of Spiritism. We are not indifferent to the judgment of academics. On the contrary, we actually have great respect for them and would be honored to be counted among them. However, we cannot judge their opinions to be unquestionably conclusive under all circumstances.

When science goes beyond the tangible observation of facts and attempts to evaluate and explain those facts, the feld is opened up to conjecture. Each individual develops a system of his or her own and they must do their utmost to relentlessly defend it. Contradictory systems are suggested and rejected every day, one right after the other, disparaged as absurd errors, and then later proclaimed as incontestable truths. Facts are the sole criterion of our judgment, the sole argument for which there is no retort. In the absence of facts, those who are wise remain skeptical.

For subjects that have been fully explored and studied, the opinions of the educated are fairly authoritative, because their knowledge is more extensive and enlightened than that of an ordinary person. However, with respect to new facts or principles or even the unknown, their opinions should only be considered hypothetical, because they are no freer from prejudice than anyone else. One can even argue that scientists are more likely to be narrow-minded than someone else, because each of them is naturally prone to look at everything from their particular point of view. A mathematician accepts no other proof than that demonstrated by algebra, while a chemist refers everything to the action of the elements, and so on. When individuals select a specialization, they usually dedicate their entire mind and efforts to it. Beyond the scope of this feld, such an individual often makes false inferences because of an insistence on treating every subject in the same manner. This is the consequence of human weakness. Therefore, while we should confdently consult a chemist in matters pertaining to analysis, a physicist with regard to electricity, or a mechanical engineer about driving forces, we must grant no more authority to their unfavorable opinion of Spiritism than we should to the opinion of an architect on a matter pertaining to music. This we must do without detracting from the respect due to their special knowledge.

Physical sciences are based on the properties of matter, which may be experimented upon and manipulated as desired. In contrast, phenomena created by spirits are an effect of the action of intelligent beings who have wills of their own, and who continuously show us that they are not subjected to our whims. Therefore, observations cannot be carried out in the same manner because they require special conditions and a different point of departure. Insisting on submitting them to the same methods of investigation is to insist on assuming the existence of analogies that do not in fact exist. As a result, science is incapable of determining the truth of Spiritism. It has nothing to do with it and its conclusion, whether favorable or otherwise, is of no bearing whatsoever.

Spiritism is the result of a personal conviction that scholars may hold as individuals, and is completely independent of their scientifc notions. To submit the question to the decision of physical science would be the same as appointing a group of physicists and astronomers to settle the existence of the soul. Spiritism deals exclusively with the existence of the soul and its state after death. It is completely irrational to assume that someone must be a great psychologist simply because they may be a great mathematician or anatomist. When anatomists dissect a human body, they look for the soul, and, because they do not fnd it through the use of their scalpels, in the same way that they fnd a nerve, or do not see it evaporate like gas, they conclude that it does not exist. They reach this conclusion because their reasoning stems from an exclusively material point of view.

This by no means signifes that they are right and that the rest of the world is wrong. Following this line of reason, we conclude that the task of determining the truth or fallacy of Spiritism does not fall within the realm of science. When Spiritist beliefs have become widespread and accepted by the masses, which, if estimated by the speed at which they are currently being spread, is a time not very far off, the same will apply as with all new ideas that have encountered opposition. Scholars ultimately yield to the force of evidence. They will individually admit ideas that they now reject and, until that time, it would be premature to distract them from their special studies with something that is foreign to both their school of thought and feld of research.

Meanwhile, those who denounce Spiritism without having a thorough understanding of the subject, and expose to ridicule those who do not submit to their way of thinking, forget that such has been done in regard to nearly every great discovery unearthed by humankind. They run the risk of being grouped among the members of the academic assembly who, in 1752, laughed at Benjamin Franklin’s paper on lightning rods and branded it worthless rubbish; or among those who caused France to miss out on the opportunity of pioneering the use of steam in shipping by labeling Robert Fulton’s plans an impracticable dream. And yet, both of these concepts not only proved to be true, but also went on to make great contributions to humanity. If those two assemblies, which included the leading minds of the world among their members, had nothing but disdain and sarcasm for ideas that they did not understand, but which were destined to revolutionize science, industry, and daily life a few years later, how may we expect that another unfamiliar subject should be met with any greater degree of respect?

The errors of some, though unfortunate for the honor of their memory, do not invalidate our esteem in regard to other matters. Common sense is not dictated by an offcial diploma, and there are fools both inside and outside the walls of academic institutions. We ask our adversaries to simply glance over the supporters of Spiritism and determine whether they see only uneducated imbeciles, or whether, despite the immense number of respectable individuals who have accepted it, Spiritism can be regarded as an old wives’ tale. In fact, their character and scientifc knowledge should inspire people to think, “If these persons believe in this, there must be something to it.”

We repeat that if these facts had been limited to the mechanical movement of inert bodies, physical science would have been able to determine their cause. However, the manifestations in question are beyond the laws or forces known to humanity and therefore are beyond the scope of human science. When the facts to be observed are completely new and do not fall within the scope of any known science, scientists should temporarily set their scientifc notions aside to objectively evaluate them. They should remember that a new study cannot be correctly tested under the pressure of preconceived ideas.

People who believe they are capable of exercising foolproof reasoning are likely to come to wrong conclusions. Even those whose ideas are the furthest from the truth profess to base them on reason and it is in the name of reason that they reject whatever sounds impossible to them. Those who once rejected the highly regarded discoveries of humankind did so in the name of reason. What some call reason is often only pride in disguise, and whoever regards themselves as foolproof or perfect essentially claims to be equal to God. We are addressing ourselves to people who are wise enough to withhold their judgment in regard to what they have not yet seen, and who, judging the future based on the past, do not believe that the human race has reached its peak, or that nature has turned over the last page of its book.

VIII


We add that studying any belief system such as Spiritism, which introduces us to radically different and awe-inspiring ideas, can only be successful when done by serious-minded and tenacious individuals, free of prejudices, and motivated by an unyielding desire to fnd the truth. Those who tend to reach a conclusion easily, without thorough examination, and without employing the proper methodology, order or attention to detail that is necessary to be successful are not capable of properly studying Spiritist beliefs. Neither are those who, in order to maintain a reputation for being witty, seek to ridicule matters of grave importance, which have been judged to be such by individuals whose knowledge, character, and convictions command respect. Individuals who deem the facts in question to be unworthy of their attention should refrain from studying them. No one would attempt to interfere with their beliefs, and they should respect the beliefs of those who have a differing opinion.

The characteristics of serious-minded and thoughtful study are the method and perseverance with which it is carried out. Is it any surprise that practical answers are not always obtained from spirits in reply to questions that, no matter how serious in content, are randomly asked, among a slew of others that are unrelated or irrational?

What is more, a question that is highly complex needs to be preceded by various considerations in order to guarantee clarity. Whoever truly wants to research or learn a new science must do so through methodical study, starting at the beginning and following the proper sequence and development of ideas. If a student who is unfamiliar with the most elementary basics of a science asks an ill-conceived question of the most respected professor in the feld could that professor, no matter how kind or compassionate, give a satisfactory answer? This isolated response would be incomplete, and as is so often the case, unintelligible, absurd, or contradictory. The same holds true for the relationships that we establish with the spirits. If we are to learn Spiritism, a full course must be completed with them. However, we must select our teachers carefully, and work meticulously and persistently.

We have said that superior spirits are only attracted to serious-minded encounters where a perfect union of thought and desire for the pursuit of moral excellence must exist. Good spirits are repelled by frivolity and idle curiosity, in much the same way that these characteristics repel reasonable individuals. The road is consequently left open to the hordes of reckless and lying spirits who are always waiting for opportunities to mock us at our own expense. What happens when a serious question is asked under such circumstances? It is answered, but by whom? It is as if you were at a lively dinner party and you suddenly ask questions such as, “What is the soul? What is death?” or any others that are equally out of harmony with the tone of such a social gathering. If we want earnest, thoughtful answers, we must be serious and place ourselves in the appropriate situation. Doing so is the only way that we can obtain fulflling communications. Nevertheless, we must be resolute in our investigations otherwise the superior spirits will abandon us, just like a professor abandons hopelessly idle students in his class.

IX

The movement of objects is an already proven fact. What remains to be determined is whether or not there is a manifestation of intelligence behind this movement, and, if so, what is the source of this intelligence.

We are not talking about the intelligence displayed in the movement of certain objects, verbal communications, or even those written directly by the medium. These manifestations, evident for those who have thoroughly studied the matter, are not suffciently independent of the will to make a new observer a believer. We will therefore only discuss writings obtained through an object equipped with a pencil, such as a basket or planchette, with the fngers of the medium placed upon the object in such a manner so as to preclude the possibility of exercising even the slightest infuence on the drawing of the letters.

Even if we assume that, by some amazing stroke of ingenuity, a medium succeeds in deceiving the most acutely observant eye, how can we explain the nature of the communications when they transcend the medium’s scope of knowledge? We are not talking about short, monosyllabic replies either, but many pages, as frequently happens, at incredible speeds. Sometimes the replies are spontaneous, while at other times they are on a specifc subject. There are even instances in which poems of an elevated nature, utterly fawless in style, fow from the pen of an illiterate medium. What is even stranger is that these events are occurring across the globe, and that the number of mediums is increasing. Are these facts real or not? We can only say, “Watch and see. There will be plenty of opportunities to do so, but observe often, for a long time, and according to the right conditions.”

How do our doubters reply in view of the evidence presented? They say that we are the victims of charlatans or illusions. First, charlatanism does not occur where there is no proft to be made. Charlatans do not practice their craft for free. When fraud is committed, it must be for the sake of a joke. But by what strange coincidence is there an arrangement between criminals from one end of the globe to the other to act in the same way, produce the same effects, and give replies, regarding the same subjects in different languages, that are identical in meaning (if not in words)? How is it that sincere, honorable, and educated individuals can fall prey to such manipulation and for what purpose? How is it that the patience and skill essential for carrying out such a deception are found even in young children? Mediums, if they are not passive instruments, must possess a high degree of skill and a vast array of knowledge, which is in direct contradiction with our usual expectations regarding certain ages and social standings.

Our opponents maintain that if there is no fraud, both parties may be the victims of an illusion. It is only reasonable that the reputation of the witnesses are questioned when we decide the value of the evidence. It may be a fair question to ask whether Spiritism, with millions of supporters, recruits followers only among the ignorant. We understand the logic of doubt, given that the phenomena on which Spiritism is based are so extraordinary. However, what is not admissible is the habit of some skeptics in assuming that they have a monopoly on common sense, and the hasty manner in which they accuse anyone who holds a view that is contrary to their own of being either infatuated or stupid, regardless of the intellectual or moral worth of their opponents. Any observer can attest that the opinion of enlightened individuals who have seen, studied, and meditated on any subject for an extensive amount of time is always proof of the worth of that subject, or at least a presumption in its favor. After all, it has been able to capture the attention of esteemed scholars who, we may reasonably assume, have no interest in spreading untruths or wasting time on worthless matters.


X


Some doubts are more misleading than others, at least at frst glance, because they are made by critical minds and based on observation.

One of these objections is prompted by the fact that the language of spirits does not always seem worthy of the elevation attributed to supernatural beings. If detractors would take the trouble to read through the summary of Spiritism that we provided above, they would see that the spirits themselves readily admit they are not at all equal to one another in intellect or moral qualities. We should not accept everything said by the spirits as literal truth, and we must weigh the merit of their statements for ourselves. Of course, those who gather from this that we only communicate with immoral or depraved beings, whose sole interest is to deceive us, are not familiar with the messages obtained in the meetings regularly held with superior spirits, otherwise they would not come to such a conclusion. It is unfortunate that they have only seen, by pure chance, the worst side of the spirit world because we do not want to presume that they only attract bad, crude, or lying spirits, rather than good ones. We merely suggest that, in some cases, their principles may not be strong enough to repel iniquity, and imperfect spirits take advantage of their curiosity, while higher spirits pull away from them.

Judging the spirits based on these facts is as irrational as judging the character of an entire population by the actions of one small group of wild or scandalous individuals, with whom educated and respectable citizens have no relation. Such individuals are like travelers who, when they enter a capital through one of its worst peripheral sections, judge all of its inhabitants by the values and language of a rough neighborhood. Just as in our own world, there are higher and lower classes of society in the spirit world. Therefore, it is necessary to study superior spirits, in order to see that the other world is not solely populated by ignorant and cruel beings. When asked if superior spirits visit us, we reply: Do not stay in the outskirts. See, observe, and judge, all the facts are within the reach of all, except those described by Jesus as “having eyes and they do not see; ears, and they do not hear.”

A variation of the same objection consists in attributing all spirit communications, and the accompanying physical manifestations, to the intervention of some diabolical power that assumes every form to effectively deceive us. We will not even dignify this theory with a response. That premise has been refuted by what we have already said, and we will only add that if such were the case, it would have to be admitted either that the devil is sometimes very wise, reasonable and moral, or else there are good devils.

Indeed, is it possible that God allows only bad spirits to manifest to destroy us, without giving us the counterbalance of good spirits? If not, we have admitted God’s impotence. On the other hand, to believe that our Creator can but abstains from doing so, contradicts the belief in Divine goodness. Both theories are equally blasphemous. Admitting the communication of vile spirits by default acknowledges the existence of spirit manifestations. If they exist, it can only be with the permission of God, and how can we morally believe that it is allowed to occur only for a bad purpose? This theory contradicts both the simplest precepts of common sense and religion.



XI


One strange aspect of these manifestations is the fact that only the spirits of famous fgures communicate with us, and people wonder why these spirits are the only ones who do so. This error, like many others, is due to superfcial observation. Among the spirits who spontaneously present themselves, most are unknown than known to us. Well-known spirits use illustrious names that we can readily identify. As for the spirits we evoke, unless they are relatives or friends, they are spirits we do not know. As the names of famous people come to mind most effectively, they are naturally observed most often.

Detractors also fnd it strange that the spirits of eminent individuals would respond to our call so intimately, and sometimes are interested in things that appear to be inconsequential in comparison to what they accomplished during their life. There is nothing surprising in this for those who know that the power and consideration that these persons may have possessed in their human life in no way correlates to their standing in the spirit world. Spirits confrm the words of the gospel “the last shall be frst, and the frst shall be last”5 with regard to the rank we receive when we return to the spirit world. Accordingly, those who have been frst on Earth may fnd themselves to be among the last in the spirit world. Those who are worshiped and revered on the Earth may fnd themselves below the poorest craftsman, as all their glory is left behind when they leave this world. In a similar vein, the most powerful monarch may be ranked below the lowest of his or her subjects.


XII

The borrowing of well-known and respected names by inferior spirits has been observed and confirmed by the spirits themselves. How can we be sure, then, that spirits who reveal themselves as Socrates, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Fénelon, Napoleon and Washington were really these men that they claim to have been? This doubt even persists among many passionate advocates of Spiritism. They believe in the intervention and manifestation of spirits, but wonder how we can be certain of their identity. In truth, this assurance is very diffcult to obtain. Nevertheless, although it cannot be settled as authentically as a certifcate issued by an offce of vital records, it may be reasonably presumed, based on certain signs.

When the communicating spirit is someone we have personally known, such as a relative or friend, and especially if they have passed away recently, that person’s manner of speaking perfectly matches the character that we knew. This provides a strong indication of individual identity, which is almost conclusive when the spirit speaks of private matters or family concerns that only that specifc person could know. A child surely recognizes the language of his or her parents, just as parents recognize that of their child. During these intimate sessions, remarkable events may occur that can persuade even the most stubborn skeptic. The most skeptical are often amazed by the unexpected revelations made to them.

There is another common circumstance that helps verify a spirit’s identity. We have already said that the handwriting of the medium generally changes with the spirit contacted, and the same handwriting is faithfully reproduced every time the same spirit communicates. In the case of recently deceased individuals, this writing often bears a striking resemblance to that of the person during their lifetime. Signatures, in particular, are sometimes perfectly exact. We are still far from presenting this fact as a general rule or constant recurrence, but it is worthy of notice.

Spirits who attained a certain degree of purifcation are entirely free of all physical infuences. Still, as long as they are not completely dematerialized (the expression that they use), they retain most of the ideas, inclinations and even habits that they had while on Earth, all of which constitute additional means of identifcation. This is particularly found in the vast number of small details that are only caught through unrelenting and attentive observation. Spirits who were once authors have been known to discuss their own works or theories, approving or criticizing certain parts. Other spirits may even reveal circumstances connected with their life or death. From these indications, we obtain what may be regarded as moral proof of their identity, the only type that can be sought under abstract circumstances.

If sometimes we can establish the identity of a spirit, to a certain extent, there is no reason to believe that this cannot happen in other cases. Despite not having the same means of identifcation for individuals whose death has occurred further in the past, we can always base our assessment on language and character. The spirit of a good person does not clearly express itself in any way similar to a perverse or immoral individual. As for lower spirits who assume respected names, they soon betray their true nature by their manner of speaking. If someone calling himself Fénelon, for instance, expressed comments straying from Fénelon’s common sense or morality, the deception would become obvious immediately. If the thoughts expressed were always pure, consistent and of an elevation matching Fénelon’s character, there would be no reason to doubt his identity. Otherwise we would have to admit that a spirit whose communications teach only goodness would knowingly be guilty of lying, and that would be contradictory.

Experience has taught us that spirits of the same degree and character, and animated by the same sentiments, unite into groups and families. However, the number of spirits is infnite and we are far from knowing all of them. In fact, the names of the vast majority remain unknown to us. A spirit from the same category as Fénelon may come to us on his behalf, and may even be sent by Fénelon himself as his representative. If this were the case, he would naturally call himself Fénelon because he is his equivalent, capable of taking his place, and because we need a name in order to form an idea with regard to him. What does it matter whether a spirit is really Fénelon or not? If everything that he says is excellent, an in keeping with what Fénelon would probably say, then he is a good spirit. The name that a spirit assumes is of no importance and often is only a means of defning our viewpoint. This would not be acceptable in more intimate sessions, but, as explained above, the identity of the communicating spirit in those instances may be determined by other means.

The substitution spirits make, however, may cause many mistakes, resulting in errors and deception. In fact, this is one of the most critical diffculties of practical Spiritism. We never said that this feld of investigation would be easier than any other science, or that it could be successfully explored without any serious effort. It cannot be stressed enough that Spiritism is a new feld of study, one that demands extensive and tireless exploration. As the facts on which Spiritism is based cannot be produced, and often occur when least expected, we must wait for them to present themselves. For the attentive and patient observer, there are endless materials for study because there are thousands of characteristic nuances that are countless sources of enlightenment. The same applies to every other branch of science. While a superfcial observer only sees a fower, a botanist discovers a treasure trove of knowledge.



XIII


The above observations lead us to address the discrepancies that exist in the statements made by spirits, which is another diffculty imposed on Spiritism.

Spirits differ widely with respect to their knowledge and integrity. Therefore, it is obvious that the same question may garner very different responses, depending on the rank that they hold. This is exactly the same case as if a question were asked of a scientist versus an imbecile or a fraud. What is important here, as we previously mentioned, is knowing who is the spirit to whom we are addressing our question.

How is it that spirits, recognized for their superiority do not always agree? First, other causes may have an infuence on the nature of the answers regardless of the quality of the spirits themselves. This is a point of the utmost importance that will be explained in detail through further study, provided that this study is carried out with unrelenting attention, extensive observation, and methodical perseverance. Years of study are needed just to become even a mediocre physician, while three-quarters of a lifetime is necessary to become a scholar. Meanwhile, people like to think that a few hours are enough to learn the science of the infnite! Let there be no mistake, Spiritism is a vast subject and involves both metaphysical and social matters. It is a new world opening up before us. Is it strange, then, that time, and a good deal of it at that is required to learn it?

The contradictions the opponents of Spiritism allude to are not always as fundamental as they may seem at frst. On a daily basis, individuals who work on the same feld of science provide various defnitions for the same thing. Sometimes this is because they use different terms, and sometimes it is because they study it from different perspectives, although the fundamental idea is the same in each case. We dare you to count the different defnitions that exist for the word grammar! We also add that the form of the answer often depends on the form in which the question is asked. It is foolish to regard what is often only a difference of words as a contradiction. Superior spirits completely disregard forms of expression, because thought is everything for them.

For example, let us focus on the defnition of the word soul. As this word has no fxed meaning, spirits may differ in the signifcance that they attribute to it, much like ourselves. One may say that it is the principle of life; another may call it the moral spark; a third may say that it is internal; a fourth, that it is external, and so on and so forth. Each may be right from his or her own specifc perspective. Some may even support materialistic theories, although such is not the case. It is the same with regard to the word God. According to some, God is the principle of all things. According to others, God is the Creator of the universe, the Supreme Intelligence, the Infnite, the Great Spirit, and so on. Regardless of the name, it is always God. Lastly, we cite the classifcation of spirits. They form an uninterrupted succession from the lowest to the highest. Therefore, all attempts at classifcation are arbitrary, and one may regard them as forming three, fve, ten, or twenty classes, without being wrong. All human sciences offer the same variations. Every investigator has his or her own system and these systems change, but science remains the same. Whether we study botany according to Linnaeus, Jussieu, or Tournefort, it is still botany. We must stop attributing more importance to merely conventional matters than they deserve, and devote ourselves to what is truly important. In doing so, refection often reveals a similarity that appears to be conficting at frst glance.


XIV


We would skip over the argument of certain skeptics in relation to the spelling errors of some spirits, if this argument did not call attention to a point of great importance. Spirit orthography is not always fawless. However, those who seriously support this criticism must be very short of arguments, debating that since spirits know everything, they should at least be able to spell correctly. We counter this argument by pointing out the numerous spelling errors that more than one of the great minds of science commit, which in no way invalidate their scientifc fndings, but there is a much more important point here. For spirits, especially superior spirits, the idea is everything while the form is nothing. Free of matter, their language is as rapid as thought. Since it is their thoughts that are directly communicated, it must therefore be very bothersome to use human speech when they communicate with us, through our long forms and inability to convey all ideas. It is curious to see the means they employ to preclude this diffculty.

It is the same for us when we have to express ourselves in a language with longer words and phrases, with fewer expressions than those we usually employ. This is the diffculty suffered by geniuses, impatient and frustrated by the constraint of their pens, which always lag behind their thoughts. In light of this, it is easy to understand why spirits attach little importance to spelling, especially in the communication of serious and profound teachings. We should marvel, rather, at how they are able to express themselves in all languages, and that they understand them all. It must not be viewed that they are unable to express themselves correctly. They simply do this when they deem it to be necessary. For instance, they do this when they dictate poetry, some of which is recorded by illiterate mediums and, nonetheless, is of a fawlessness and elegance that stupefes even the toughest critic.

XV


There are people who see danger everywhere, and in everything that is new to them. These people have drawn the unfavorable conclusion that some of those who have turned to Spiritism have lost all sense of reason. How can rational people consider this a serious argument? Doesn’t a loss of reason also occur when weak minds are overwhelmed in any intellectual pursuit? Who can say how many have gone mad over mathematics, medicine, music, philosophy, and others? Are those studies to be denounced on that account? What does that prove? Arms and legs, the instruments of physical activity, are often injured by physical labor; the brain, the instrument of thought, is often impaired by intellectual labor. Although the instrument may be injured, the spirit remains intact, and, when freed from matter, regains full possession of its faculties. In this manner, it may be said that human beings often succumb as martyrs to labor.

Intense mental application of any kind may induce mental illness, whether science, art or religion, all having produced their respective share of enlightened minds being driven insane. The predisposing cause of madness is to be found in the brain that renders it more or less susceptible to certain impressions. When the predisposition to insanity exists, its manifestation takes on the character of the pursuit which forms a fxed idea. This fxed idea may be that of the spirits, for those who have been deeply captivated by Spiritism, or by God, angels, the devil, fortune, power, art, science, maternity, or a political or social system. It is likely that a religious fanatic would have gone mad over Spiritism, if it had been his or her predominant mental occupation. Likewise, a person who goes mad over Spiritism, in other circumstances would go mad over something else.

We therefore assert that Spiritism does not prompt insanity and that it actually protects against insanity when correctly understood.

Among the most common causes of cerebral overstimulation, one must consider the disappointments, misfortunes, shattered hope, and other troubles of human life, which are also the most common causes of suicide. However, true Spiritists view the things of this world from such an elevated point of view that they seem petty in comparison with the future they see before them. Life appears so feeting that its misfortunes are, in their eyes, merely unpleasant bumps along the road. What would produce violent emotions in the mind of another only affects them slightly. They know that the sorrows of life are trials that further our advancement if endured with resignation, and that they are rewarded according to the courage with which they have accepted them. Their convictions help shield them from despair, and consequently from a frequent cause of madness and suicide. Through spirit communications, they also know the fate of those who voluntarily shorten their lives, which gives pause for serious refections. The number of those who have been stopped on the downward spiral is significant. This is one of the results of Spiritism. Non-believers may laugh as much as they like. We only wish them the consolation it provides to people who have delved into its mysterious depths.

Among the causes of insanity, one must include fear. Fear of the devil has deranged many minds and who can say how many feeble minds have fallen victim to the devil after having been shown hideous, detailed pictures? It is sometimes said that the devil only frightens little children to make them well-behaved, like the boogeyman and the werewolf. When these mythical creatures have lost their power, those who have been subjected to this sort of training are likely to be worse off than before. People employ these methods and reach mediocre results. They overlook the risk of epilepsy entailed in such disturbing action on the delicate brain of a child. Religion would be weak if its power could only be sustained by fear. Fortunately this is not the case, as there are other means of acting on the soul. Spiritism provides a more effective and serious support than superstitious terror, if it is able to put this theory to use. It shows the reality of things, and neutralizes the disastrous effects of unreasonable fear.


XVI


Two arguments still need to be investigated, and are the only ones truly deserving of this name because they are founded on rational theories. Both admit the reality of the material and moral phenomena of Spiritism, but they deny the intervention of spirits.

According to the frst of these theories, all manifestations attributed to spirits are merely effects of animal magnetism, also known as Mesmerism. Mediums are in a state that might be called waking somnambulism, a phenomenon that is likely to have been observed by anyone who has studied animal magnetism. In this state, the intellectual faculties acquire abnormal development and the circle of our intuitive perceptions extends beyond its ordinary limits. Mediums fnd in themselves through their lucidity, everything that they say and all the notions transmitted by them, even with regard to subjects with which they are completely unfamiliar in their regular state of consciousness.

We do not dispute the power of somnambulism, a type of slight hypnotism, whose wonders we have witnessed and studied for more than thirty-fve years. We admit that many spirit manifestations may be explained by such, but we maintain that sustained and attentive observation reveals a host of events in which any intervention by the medium, other than as a passive instrument, is categorically impossible. To those who attribute these phenomena to magnetism, we say, “See and observe, for you have surely not seen everything.” We would also ask them to consider the two following points, suggested by their own theory. What is the origin of Spiritist theory? Is it a system invented by a few individuals to account for certain events?

Not at all. Then who suggested it? The very mediums whose lucidity you praise; if their rationality is what you declare it to be. Why should they attribute to spirits what they have derived from themselves? How can they have given such precise, logical and inspiring information in regard to the nature of those superhuman beings? Either mediums are lucid, or they are not. If they are, and if we trust their authenticity, we cannot think that they are wrong with regard to this point, without being contradictory. Second, if all the phenomena originated from the mediums themselves, they would always be identical for that particular medium. We would never fnd the same medium employing different languages, varied styles of expression, or making contradictory statements. If anything, the lack of unity so often observed in the manifestations obtained by the same medium is proof of the variety of sources, and as the cause of this diversity is not found in the medium, it must be sought elsewhere.

According to another opinion, mediums are the real source of the manifestations. They do not derive them from themselves, as the supporters of the somnambulist theory assert, instead, they derive them from the individuals around them. The medium acts like a mirror, refecting all the thoughts, ideas and knowledge of those around him or her, and, therefore, says nothing that is not known by at least one of them. One of the fundamental principles of Spiritism is that those who are present exercise some infuence on the manifestations, this cannot be denied. However, this infuence is very different from the hypothesis that we are considering, and in no way supports the idea that mediums are the echo of the thoughts of those around them. There are thousands of facts and events that directly prove the contrary. This is a serious error and shows the danger of hasty conclusions. People who are unable to deny the reality of phenomena that current science is unable to explain, and who are also unwilling to admit the presence of spirits, have to fnd their own way to explain it. Their theory would be superfcially plausible if it explained all the facts, but it cannot do this.

Based on the evidence of facts, it has been proven that a medium’s communications are often entirely foreign to the thoughts, knowledge, and even the opinions of those who are present. These communications are frequently spontaneous, and contradict all preconceived ideas. Of course, naysayers are not discouraged by such a slight diffculty. They maintain that the radiation of thought extends far beyond the circle immediately around us. Mediums are the refection of humanity in general, so if they do not draw their inspiration from those around them, they derive it from those who are further away in the town or country in which they live, from people in the rest of the globe, and even from those of other worlds.

This theory does not provide a more simple and probable explanation than that given by Spiritism, for it assumes a cause that is much more spectacular. The idea that universal space is populated by beings who are in perpetual contact with us, and who communicate their ideas to us, is certainly not more objectionable than the hypothesis of universal radiation, coming from every point of the universe, and converging in the brain of one person.

Once again, and this is a point that we cannot stress enough, the somnambulist theory and that which may be called the refective theory, are products of the imagination of human minds. These are individual opinions created to explain an event. However, the human mind did not conceive Spiritism; it was dictated by the manifesting intelligences themselves. This occurred at a time when no one thought of spirits and the opinion of most of humanity was opposed to such a hypothesis. We frst need to ask from where the mediums could have derived a theory that never existed in the mind of anyone on the globe. We also ask by what strange coincidence did tens of thousands of mediums, across the entire globe and unknown to one another, all agree in proclaiming the same idea. If the frst medium that appeared in France was infuenced by opinions already accepted in the United States, what led this person to search for ideas across the ocean in a nation whose values and language were foreign to his or her own, instead of adopting those in his or her immediate vicinity?

There is yet another circumstance that merits further attention. The earliest manifestations in France, as in the United States, were not written or oral, but were transmitted through rapping or knocking that indicated the letters of the alphabet, forming words and sentences. This is how the communicating intelligences declared themselves to be spirits. Although we admit the involvement of the medium’s mind in the production of verbal or written communications, we cannot attribute the same involvement on the part of the medium in producing rapping or knocks. The medium could not have known them beforehand.

Any number of facts could be cited that prove the existence of clear individuality and an absolutely independent will on the part of the communicating intelligence. We challenge our antagonists to observe the phenomena in question more carefully. We assure them that if they study these events objectively and refrain from drawing any conclusions until they have thoroughly studied the subject, they will fnd that their theories are inadequate to account for all of the phenomena that have occurred. We will only pose the following two questions: Why do the communicating intelligences often refuse to answer certain questions in regard to well-known matters, such as the name or age of the asker, what they may have in their hand, what they did yesterday, or what they intend to do the following day? If mediums are mirrors refecting the thoughts of those around them, answering these questions should be simple.

Our critics counter by inquiring why spirits, who should know everything, are unable to answer simple questions, as dictated by the adage, “He who can do the most can do the least,” and conclude, from this assumed inability, that the phenomena cannot be caused by spirits. If an ignorant or foolish person were to stand before an academic council and ask why it is light out in the middle of the day, would a reply be given? Would it be reasonable to conclude, from the derision or silence with which such a question might be received, that its members were merely imbeciles? It is precisely because they are at a higher level than us that spirits decline to answer idle and foolish questions. This is why they are silent when such questions are asked, or they advise us to focus on more serious subjects.

We also would ask why spirits come and go as they please, and why, after they leave, neither prayers nor pleas can bring them back. If mediums were acted upon solely by the mental impulsion of those around them, the union of their wills would stimulate their clairvoyance in such a case. If they do not yield to the wishes of people gathered around them, even when strengthened by their own desire, it is because they obey a power that is separate from themselves and those around, a power that asserts its own independence and individuality.



XVII


When skepticism about Spiritism is not the result of consistent opposition, stemming from selfsh motives, it is mostly rooted in an imperfect understanding of the facts. Nevertheless, this does not stop many persons from attempting to answer questions as if they were experts.

One can be very clever and educated, yet lack judgment. Believing that one is infallible or perfect is the clearest sign of impaired judgment. Many people regard spirit manifestations as merely a matter of curiosity. We hope that the reading of this book will show them that this remarkable experience is more than just a mere pastime.

Spiritism has two parts: the experimental, which deals with general manifestations, and the philosophic, which deals with intelligent manifestations. Whoever has observed only the former is like someone whose knowledge of physics is limited to recreational experiments and does not extend to fundamental principles. Spiritist philosophy is composed of teachings communicated by spirits. The knowledge they convey is of a nature that is far too signifcant to be learned effectively without critical and resolute attention.

This is the only way that critical facts and nuances can be absorbed. If this book does nothing more than demonstrate the serious nature of the subject, and encourage interested minds to approach it in this vein, it will be considered a success. We would delight in having been chosen to assist in a work for which we can take no credit, as its principles and whatever honors it may obtain are entirely due to the spirits by whom it has been dictated. We also hope that it will serve as a guide for those seeking enlightenment by showing them the inspiring purpose of individual and social progress and pointing out the path by which that end can be reached.

We will conclude this introduction with one fnal observation. In searching the depths of space, astronomers discovered seemingly vacant spaces that appeared to trump the general laws governing the distribution of the planets and stars. This fact led them to speculate that those spaces were occupied by bodies that escaped observation. Conversely, they observed certain effects, the cause of which was unknown to them, and said to themselves, “There must be a world here, otherwise there would be a void that should not exist, and the effects we have observed imply the presence of a world in that void.” Based on this reasoning, they calculated the features of the globe whose presence they had deduced, and the facts subsequently supported their assumption. Let us now apply the same method of reasoning to a different order of ideas.

If we observe all beings, we fnd that they form a continuous chain from raw matter to the most intelligent humans. However, there is a huge gap between humanity and God, who is the alpha and omega of all things. Is it rational to believe that the links of the chain stop with human beings? Can humans simply scale the distance that separates them from the infnite without any transition whatsoever? Reason dictates that there must be other links between the human race and God, just as it showed astronomers that there must be other worlds, unknown to them, between the then known worlds. What philosophy has flled this void? Spiritism shows us that it is flled with the beings from every rank of the invisible world, and that these beings are the spirits of humans who have reached the successive degrees leading to perfection. Consequently, all things are linked together from one end of the chain to the other, from alpha to omega. Those who deny the existence of spirits must explain what dwells in this immense space that the spirits claim to dwell in, and those who ridicule this philosophy are in fact mocking God’s works and awe-inspiring omnipotence.

Allan Kardec

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