THE SPIRITS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER IV
MULTIPLE LIVES
On Reincarnation - Justice of Reincarnation - Incarnation on Different Worlds - Progressive Transmigration - Fate of Children After Death - Gender of Spirits - Family Relationships - Physical and Moral Likeness - Innate Ideas

On Reincarnation

166. How can a soul that has not reached perfection during corporeal life achieve purifcation?
“By experiencing the trial of a new existence.”

a) How does the soul carry out this new existence? Is it through its transformation as a spirit?
“The soul undergoes a transformation when it purifes itself. For this transformation to happen, it needs to experience the trial of corporeal life.”

b) Does the soul have multiple corporeal lives?
“Yes, we all have many lives. Those who say any different want you to stay ignorant like them.”

c) This statement implies that the soul, after leaving one body, inhabits another. In other words, it reincarnates itself. Is this correct?
“Obviously.”

167. What is the purpose of reincarnation?
“Atonement and the progressive betterment of humankind. Without this, where would its justice lie?”

168. Is there a limited number of corporeal lives, or does a spirit continue to reincarnate itself forever?
“With each new existence, a spirit takes a step forward in the path of progress. When it sheds all its impurities, the spirit no longer needs the trials of corporeal life.”

169. Is the number of incarnations the same for all spirits?
“No, a person who advances quickly is spared many trials. However, these successive incarnations are always numerous because progress is almost infnite.”

170. What does the spirit become after its fnal incarnation?
“A perfectly happy spirit; a pure spirit.”


Justice of Reincarnation


171. What is the basis of reincarnation?
“Reincarnation is based on God’s justice and revelation. An affectionate father, as we have already explained, always grants his children the opportunity to redeem themselves, no matter how rebellious they may be. Reason alone dictates that it would be unfair to infict eternal misery on those who have not had the opportunity to improve themselves. Aren’t we all God’s children? Injustice, merciless hatred, and unrelenting punishments are only found in the worlds of selfsh people.”

All spirits strive for perfection and God provides them this opportunity through the trials of corporeal life. Divine justice compels them to use their new existence to do what they were not able to do or complete in a prior trial.

It would not be consistent with God’s justice or goodness to condemn to eternal suffering those who have encountered obstacles to their improvement, obstacles that may have resulted from circumstances beyond their control, and, thus, are independent of their will. If the fate of humankind were conclusively determined after death, God would not have weighed the actions of all objectively and according to the same criteria.

Reincarnation, which asserts that people have many successive lives, is the only theory that satisfes the idea that we form of God’s justice with regard to those who are placed in morally inferior conditions. It is the only one that can explain the future and give us hope because it offers us a way to make amends for our errors through new trials. This concept is indicated by reason, and taught by the spirits.

People who are aware of their own inferiority obtain reassuring hope from the concept of reincarnation. If they believe in God’s justice, they cannot reasonably hope to be immediately placed on the same level as those who have made a better use of life. However, the knowledge that they will not be barred from supreme happiness forever based on this inferiority, and the fact that they will be able to reach this happiness through new efforts resuscitates their courage and replenishes their energy. Who does not, at the end of their career, laments that an experience was acquired too late to be of actual use? This is not a loss, for they proft from it in a new corporeal life.

Incarnation on Different Worlds

172. Are all our different corporeal existences lived on Earth?
“No, not all of them. There are many different worlds on which we may live our lives. This world is neither the frst nor the last, but it is defnitely one of the most material and furthest removed from perfection.”

173. Does the soul pass from one world to another for each new life or can multiple lives be in the same world?
“A soul may live in the same world many times, if it is not ready to move onto a higher one.”

a) So, we can live on Earth several times?
“Absolutely.”

b) Can we come back after living on other worlds?
“Of course, you may have already lived elsewhere and on Earth.”

174. Must we live on Earth again? “No, but if you do not advance, you could end up on a world that not only is not better than this one, it could be worse.”

175. Is there any sort of advantage in coming back to Earth?
“There is no special advantage, unless it is to fulfll a mission. In that case, the spirit advances, wherever it may be.”

a) Wouldn’t we be happier to remain a spirit?
“No, no! Because we would remain stationary and we want to get closer to God.”

176. Can spirits come to this world for the frst time after they incarnate in other worlds?
“Yes, just as you may go to others. All the worlds are in solidarity. What is not accomplished in one is completed in another.”

a) So, there are people who are on Earth for the frst time?
“Many, and at various degrees.”

b) Is there any sign marking spirits who are here for the frst time?
“This would not be of any use to you.”

177. To arrive at perfection and supreme happiness, the ultimate goal of humankind, does a spirit need to pass through all the worlds that exist in the universe?
“No, there are many worlds of the same degree where a spirit would learn nothing new.”

a) Then how can we explain multiple lives in the same world?
“A person may fnd him or herself in very different situations each time, which provide the opportunity for growth and experience.”

178. Can spirits live in a world that is inferior to the one in which they have already lived?
“Yes, when fulflling a mission to advance progress. In this case, they gladly accept the trials of such an existence, because these provide them with a means to advance.”

a) Can this also occur as a means of atonement? Can God send defant spirits to lower worlds?
“Spirits may remain stationary, but they never regress. Their atonement is not advancing, and by having to restart their squandered lives under the conditions best suited to their nature.”

b) Who is forced to restart the same existence?
“Anyone who fails to fulfll a mission or endure a trial.”

179. Have all the beings that inhabit a given world arrived at the same degree of perfection?
“No, just as on Earth, some are more advanced, while others are less advanced.”

180. Do spirits retain the intelligence that they possessed in one world, when moving on to another?
“Of course, intelligence is never lost. They may not have the same means of manifesting it, which depends both on their superiority and on the quality of the body they will assume.” (See, Infuence of Body.)

181. Do the beings that inhabit other worlds have bodies like ours?
“Of course they have bodies; a spirit must be clothed in matter to act upon matter. This envelope is more or less material according to the purity of each spirit, and these levels of purity determine the different worlds through which they will be able to pass. There are many dwelling places in our Father’s house, and therefore many degrees among those dwellings. Some know this and are cognizant of this fact while on Earth, others are not.”

182. Can we know precisely the physical and moral state of different worlds?
“As spirits, we can only make revelations according to your degree, meaning that we cannot reveal these things to everyone because some are not equipped to comprehend such revelations, and would be confused by them.”

As a spirit is purifed, the body that clothes it also approaches the spiritual nature. Being less dense, it no longer crawls on the ground. Its physical needs more refned and it is no longer forced to destroy other beings to feed itself. At this stage of spiritual development, the spirit enjoys more freedom and possesses methods of perception that are unknown to us. It can see with its eyes what we see only in thought.

A spirit’s level of purifcation determines the moral excellence of the corporeal beings in which they are incarnated. The animal passions become weaker, and selfshness gives way to the sense of brotherhood.

In higher worlds, wars do not exist. There is no hatred or confict because they are pointless, no one would even dream of doing harm to their fellow beings. Their intuitive foresight and the security resulting from a conscience free of remorse allow them to face death without apprehension. They look upon it without fear and as a simple transformation.

The length of a lifetime in different worlds appears to be proportionate to the moral and physical superiority of each world and this is perfectly rational. The less material the body, the less subject it is to the torments that disturb corporeal life. The purer the spirit, the less subject it is to the passions that undermine it. This correspondence between moral and physical circumstances is proof of God’s compassion, Who aims to reduce suffering.

183. Does the spirit go through a new infancy when passing from one world to another?
“Infancy is a necessary transition everywhere. However, it is not as underdeveloped in all worlds as in yours.”

184. Does a spirit choose the new world it will inhabit?
“Not always, but requests can be made that may be granted if the spirit has earned it. Worlds can only be accessed by spirits according to the degree of their elevation.”

a) If a spirit makes no request, what determines the world in which it will be reincarnated?
“The degree of its elevation.”

185. Is the physical and moral state of living beings on every globe always the same?
“No, worlds are also subject to the law of progress. Like yours, all have started out by being inferior, and the Earth will undergo a transformation similar to what has occurred on countless other worlds. It will become an earthly paradise when the people who inhabit it have become good.”

The human beings that currently populate the Earth will gradually disappear, and will be succeeded by increasingly perfect races. These transformed races will replace the current human race, as the latter succeeded others that were even more rudimentary.

186. Are there worlds where the spirit, having ceased to inhabit a material body, only has the perispirit as an envelope?
“Yes and this envelope becomes so ethereal that, for you, it is as if it did not exist. This is the state of pure spirits.”

a) It seems as though that statement implies that there is no clear line between the state of the fnal incarnations and that of a pure spirit.
“No, this differentiation does not exist. However, as the difference between them continues to diminish, they blur into one another just as the darkness of night fades into dawn.”

187. Is the perispirit the same in every world?
“No, it is more or less ethereal. In passing from one world to another, a spirit dons the matter of each, changing its envelope at the speed of lightning.”

188. Do pure spirits inhabit special worlds, or are they in universal space without being attached to any specifc planet?
“Pure spirits inhabit specifc worlds, but they are not confned to them as people are on Earth. They possess the highest power of instantaneous movement.” (1)

______________________________________
(1) According to the spirits, Earth and its inhabitants, both physically and morally, is one of the least advanced of all the planets of our solar system. Mars is even lower, and Jupiter is greatly superior to Earth in every respect. The Sun is not inhabited by corporeal beings, but constitutes a meeting place for higher spirits to irradiate their thoughts to the other worlds that they govern through lower spirits, to whom they transmit their action through the universal fuid. In terms of physical makeup, the sun is a center of electricity, and all other stars seem to be identical to ours in nature and function. The size of the planets and their distance from the sun have no bearing on their individual degree of advancement. For example, Venus is said to be more advanced than Earth, and Saturn less advanced than Jupiter. Spirits that have been embodied as many well-known individuals on Earth are said to be reincarnated on Jupiter, a world that is one of the closest to perfection. Learning that individuals who did not merit such placement have been welcomed to such, an advanced planet garnered quite a bit of shock. We do not fnd anything surprising here. First, we must consider that some spirits who have roamed this planet may have been sent here on a mission, despite seeming to hold a low or inferior rank in our eyes. Second, these individuals may have had intermediary existences between their lives on Earth and on Jupiter, during which they made great strides in self-improvement. Lastly, there are infnite degrees of development on Jupiter, just as here on Earth, and there may be as much distance between said degrees as between a savage and a civilized person on Earth. Living on Jupiter does not necessarily imply they have become equal to the most advanced beings, just as an illiterate fool is not considered equal to a philosopher simply because they both live in Paris. The conditions of longevity are different and no comparison can be made between ages. A person, who died several years ago, was contacted and stated that he had been incarnated in a world for six months, a world that is unknown to us. When asked his age in that world, he replied, “I’m not sure because we do not count time the same way you do. Second, our mode of existence is not the same. Our development is much more rapid in this world. Despite only being here for six months, according to your measurement of time, I am about what one usually is at the age of thirty on Earth in terms of intelligence.” Other spirits have given many similar replies, and nothing implausible has been observed. On Earth, many animals acquire full development in only a few months. Is there any reason why the same cannot apply to people in other worlds? We should point out, however, that the degree of development acquired by a 30-year-old man on Earth is only infancy when compared to his destiny. Those who consider humanity, in its current form, as the standard of creation are quite shortsighted. To assume that ours is the only type of existence in the universe is to undervalue God’s Divine power. A.K.


Progressive Transmigration


189. Does a spirit enjoy all of its faculties from its creation?
“No. As in the case of human beings, spirits experience infancy. At birth, they only have an instinctive existence, and scarcely possess any cognizance of themselves or their actions. Their intelligence develops gradually.”

190. What is the state of the soul at its frst incarnation?
“Equivalent to human infancy. Its intelligence is only beginning to bloom, it may be said to be testing out life.”

191. Are the souls of savages in a state of infancy?
“Relative infancy, but they have already experienced some development because they have passions.”

a) Are passions a sign of development? “Development yes, but not of perfection. They are a sign of activity and an awareness of the Self. In the embryonic state of the soul, intelligence and vitality exist only as seeds.”

A spirit goes through successive phases similar to those of the corporeal life. It develops slowly from an embryo to infancy, and reaches adulthood through a succession of periods, destined to reach perfection. The main difference between these two lives is that spirits are not subject to weakness or deterioration. The life of a spirit, while having a beginning, has no end. It takes a vast span of time, according to our perception of it, in passing from infancy to mature development, and this progression is completed by passing through various worlds. The spirit life is a sequence of corporeal lives, each providing an opportunity for progress. These lives are made up of days, each an opportunity to acquire experience and knowledge. However, just as a person may have unproductive days, a spirit may have a futile corporeal existence because it has failed to properly leverage it.

192. By leading a perfect life now, could we skip all the degrees and become a pure spirit without passing through the intermediate levels?
“No, because what human beings believe to be perfection is actually quite far from it. Some qualities exist that are unknown to them, and in the current state, they have no means of comprehending them. They may be as perfect as is humanly possible on Earth, but still far from absolute perfection. A child, no matter how bright or talented it may be, must go through youth to reach adulthood, and a patient must recuperate before making a complete recovery. Additionally, a spirit must advance both intellectually and morally. If it has advanced in only one of these directions, it must match this development in the other to reach the top of the ladder. The more a person advances in the present life, the shorter and less painful his or her future trials will be in later existences.”

a) Can people assure themselves a future existence with less bitterness than their present life?
“Yes, of course, they can shorten the length and diffculties of the road. Only the person who neglects advancement remains stagnant.”

193. Can individuals fall to a lower point than the one they have already reached in new lives?
“In terms of social position, yes. As a spirit, no.”

194. Can the soul of a good person inhabit the body of a scoundrel when reincarnated?
“No, because a spirit cannot regress.”

a) Can the soul of a wicked person become that of a good one?
“Yes, if he or she repents, it is a reward.”

Spirit advancement is always progressive and never regressive. They gradually rise in the spirit hierarchy and never regress from the point at which they have arrived. Throughout their different corporeal lives, they may be downgraded as human beings, but not as spirits. Therefore, the soul of a person who has reached the peak of material power may, in a subsequent life, be a modest artisan, and vice versa, because positions among individuals are frequently the inverse of the elevation of their morality. Herod was a king, and Jesus a carpenter.

195. Could the ability to improve in a future existence result in some people leading immoral lives, when they know that they are always able to make amends at some point in time?
“Such a premise indicates no real belief in anything and the idea of eternal punishment could not affect such individuals anyway, because their reason would reject it and lead to skepticism in everything. If only reason guided people, there would not be so many skeptics. An imperfect spirit might reason this way during physical life, but once freed from the shackles of the material body, they have a dramatically different way of thinking. They realize that they made a great error and this causes them to adopt an opposite sense in their next existence. This is how progress is accomplished and why some are more advanced than others. Some people have already had the experiences that others have yet to go through, acquiring them little by little, and each spirit is responsible for their own progress or delaying it indefnitely.”

Those who hold an inferior position want to change it as soon as possible. In addition, those who know that the trials and tribulations of the present life are the consequences of their own imperfections seek any means possible to insure a new existence that is less painful. This attitude will much more effectively keep them away from a bad path than the threat of eternal fre, which they do not believe in anyway.

196. Since spirits can only improve by experiencing the tribulations of physical existence, does physical life equate to a type of sieve or flter, through which the beings of the spirit world must pass to reach perfection?
“Precisely. They improve themselves through these trials by avoiding wrongdoing and practicing the good. It is only through many successive incarnations or purifcations and after a longer or shorter lapse of time that they succeed in reaching their goal, in accordance with their efforts.”

a) Does the body infuence the spirit to improve or does the spirit infuence the body?
“Your spirit is everything and your body is nothing but a decaying envelope, that is all.”

There is a material comparison of the purifcation of the soul in the juice of the vine. It contains the liquid called the spirit, or alcohol, but it is weakened by numerous foreign elements that change its nature. It requires several distillations to reach absolute purity, each of which remove a fraction of its impurities. The still is the body into which it must enter for purifcation, and the foreign elements are the perispirit, which gradually purifes itself as the spirit approaches perfection.

Fate of Children after Death


197. Are the spirit of children who die as infants as advanced as those of adults?
“Sometimes much more, for they may have previously lived longer and acquired more experience, especially if they have made progress.”

a) Can the spirit of a child be more advanced than that of his or her father?
“This happens very frequently. Do you not often see it in your world?”

198. In the case of a child who has died very young without ever having the opportunity to do wrong, is his or her spirit a higher spirit?
“If the child has not had the opportunity to do wrong, it has not had the opportunity to do anything good either and God does not exempt the child from the trials that he or she must undergo. If the child is pure, it is not because it is a child, but because it is more advanced.”

199. Why is life often cut short in childhood? “The short-lived life of a child may be a complement to a previous existence interrupted before its intended end. In addition, the child’s death is often a trial or atonement for their parents.”

a) What happens to the spirit of a child who dies young?
“It restarts a new existence.”

If a human being has only one existence and his or her future is determined for all eternity after this one existence, how could half the human race that dies in infancy, merit eternal happiness without putting forth any effort? What exempts them from the often painful conditions of progress inficted on others? This would not be consistent with God’s justice. Reincarnation acts as the most supreme justice equally distributed to all. The possibilities of the future are open to all without any exception or preference being given to any. Those who are the last to arrive have only themselves to blame. Each person must merit happiness by his or her own actions, and bear the consequences of their wrongdoing.

Viewing childhood as a normal state of innocence is completely irrational. Do we not see children who display wicked instincts at an age when even education could not have yet any infuence on them? Many seem to be crafty, dishonest, devious, and even display the instincts of theft and murder from birth, despite the good examples surrounding them. Criminal law absolves them from their wrongs, asserting that they have acted without judgment, which is correct because their actions are instinctive rather than the product of deliberate intent. However, from where do these different instincts of children of the same age, raised under the same conditions, and subjected to the same infuences originate? If not from the inferiority of the spirit, where does this mature perversity come from since education has played no role? Those who are vicious have a spirit that has made less progress and each suffers the consequences, not of their actions as a child, but as the result of wrongful actions in prior lives. The law is the same for everyone, and no one can escape God’s justice.

Gender of Spirits

200. Do spirits have a gender?
“Not as you comprehend it, because gender depends on the physical makeup. Love and sympathy exist among them, but founded on a similarity of sentiments.”

201. Can a spirit that has animated the body of a man animate the body of a woman in a new existence, and vice versa?
“Yes, the same spirit can animate both male and female bodies.”

202. Does a spirit, when in the spirit world, prefer to be incarnated as a man or as a woman?
“Spirits are indifferent in this regard, which is always decided according to the trials that they must undergo.”

Spirits incarnate themselves as men or women because they have no gender and, as it is necessary for them to develop in every direction, both sexes, as well as every variety of social position, provide them with special trials and duties, and with the opportunity of acquiring experience. A spirit who always incarnate as a man would only possess the experiences and knowledge of men.

Family Relationships

203. Do parents transfer a part of their soul to their children? Or do they only give them the organic life to which another soul then adds the moral life?
“Only the organic life is given by the parents because the soul is indivisible. A daft father may have intelligent children, and vice versa.”

204. Do our relationships extend beyond our present existence since we have had many lives?
“Of course. The succession of their physical lives establishes a variety of relationships among spirits, which date back to their former lives. These relationships are often the cause of the empathy or aversion which you sometimes feel towards individuals whom you seem to meet for the frst time.”

205. It would appear that, for some, reincarnation seems to destroy family ties by carrying them back to periods prior to our present existence.
“It extends rather than destroys them. On the contrary, the idea that present relationships are based on prior affections makes the bonds between members of the same family less precarious. It makes the duties of brotherhood even more crucial, because your neighbor or your servant may be the incarnation of a spirit who has formerly related to you by blood.”

a) Regardless, it diminishes the importance that many people give to their ancestry, since we may have had a spirit that has belonged to a different race than our father, or one that has held a different social standing.
“That is true, but this importance is usually based on pride because most people honor their ancestors’ title, rank, and fortune. Many are embarrassed to admit that they have an honest shoemaker for a grandfather, but boast being the descendant of debauchee of noble birth. No matter what people may say or do, they cannot prevent the actions of Divine order. God has not established natural law to meet the demands of human vanity.”

206. If there is no relationship between the spirits successive reincarnations as the descendants of the same family, is it foolish to honor the memory of one’s ancestors?
“Of course not, people should celebrate belonging to a family that counts elevated spirits among its members. Although spirits do not proceed from one another, their affection for those who are related to them by family ties is real. People are often led to incarnate in such and such a family because of preexisting links, and by the infuence of attractions due to relationships from previous lives. You can rest assured that the spirits of your ancestors are in no way gratifed by the honors you pay to their memory from a sentiment of pride. Their merits, no matter how great, can only add to your incentives by stimulating your efforts to follow the good examples they may have set for you. Through emulation of their good qualities your memory can become pleasant and valuable.”

Physical and Moral Likeness

207. Parents often transfer physical likeness to their children; do they also transfer moral likeness?
“No, because they have different souls or spirits. The body may yield a body, but the spirit does not yield any other spirit. The descendants of the same race share nothing other than blood.”

a) What causes the moral likeness that sometimes exists between parents and children?
“The infuence of moral sympathy, which brings together spirits with similar thoughts and inclinations.”

208. Do the spirits of the parents have any infuence over the spirit of their child after birth?
“They have a very large infuence on it. As we have already told you, spirits are made to contribute to one another’s progress. The spirits of the parents are entrusted with the mission of developing those of their children by the training they give them. It is a task that is appointed to them, and which they cannot fail to fulfll without feeling a sense of guilt.”

209. How is it that good and virtuous parents often give birth to children who are perverse and malicious in nature? In other words, how is it that the good qualities of the parents do not always attract a good spirit to embody their child?
“A bad spirit may ask to have good, honest parents in the hope that their counsel may help him or her mend their ways, and God often entrusts such a child to the care of virtuous individuals so that they may beneft from their love and care.”

210. Can parents attract a good spirit into the body of their child by their objectives and prayers?
“No, but they can improve the spirit of the child, who was entrusted to them for that purpose. It is their duty to do this, but bad children are often sent as a trial for the improvement of the parents as well.”

211. What causes the similarity of character that so often exists among siblings, especially between twins?
“The understanding that exits between two spirits who are attracted by similarities of thoughts and ideas, and who are happy to be together.”

212. In the case of conjoined twins who share some of their organs, are there two spirits or two souls?
“Yes, but their likeness often makes them seem as though there were only one.”

213. Since spirits incarnate as twins due to feelings of sympathy, from where does the hostility that is sometimes felt by twins for one another originate?
“There is no set rule stating that only sympathetic spirits are incarnated as twins. Unsympathetic spirits may have formed this link to try to work out their differences during a new physical life.”

214. How should we interpret the stories of children fghting in their mother’s womb?
“As a fgurative representation of their animosity towards one another, which goes back to times before their birth. People rarely make suffcient allowance for the fgurative element in certain statements.”

215. What is the cause of the distinctive character that we observe in each population or ethnic group?
“Spirits make up different families, formed based on the similarity of their tendencies, which are more or less purifed according to their elevation. Each population is a large family made up of sympathetic spirits. The tendency of the members of these families to unite is the source of the similarity that forms the distinctive character of each population. Do you think that good and compassionate spirits would want to be a part of a hard and unrefned population? No, spirits sympathize with the masses in the same manner that they sympathize with individuals. They go to the region where they will fnd the most harmony with the inhabitants.”

216. In its new existence, does a spirit preserve any traces of the moral character exhibited in its former lives?
“Yes, but it changes as it improves. Its social standing may also change greatly in successive lives. After being a master in one existence and becoming a slave in another, their tastes are altogether different and it is diffcult to recognize them. Since it is the same spirit, there may be certain similarities between the manifestations of their character in successive lives, but these manifestations refect the change in conditions and habits particular to each new corporeal life, until the character has improved and completely changed. People who were once arrogant and cruel can become humble and humane through repentance and effort.”

217. Does a person preserve any traces of his or her physical nature from previous lives?
“When the body is destroyed, the new one has no connection to the old one. However, the spirit is refected in the body and despite the body only being matter, it is modeled based on the capacities of the spirit. Therefore, the latter imprints a specifc character that is most visible in the face, especially in the eyes which have been called the true window to the soul. In short, the face refects the soul more than the rest of the body. An extremely ugly face can even be attractive when it is the outer shell of a good, wise, and humane spirit. On the other hand, a handsome or beautiful face may not trigger any agreeable feelings, or may even incite repulsion. At frst sight, it may seem that only strong, healthy bodies could serve as the envelopes for good spirits. Yet every day we see virtuous and superior people with deformed bodies. Without the existence of any distinctive likeness between them, the similarity of tastes and inclinations may bestow a family-likeness upon the physical bodies successively embodying the same spirit.”

As the body housing the soul in a new incarnation does not have any essential connection with the one it has left (it may even belong to another race), it would be illogical to assume a series of lives from a likeness that may only be coincidental. Nevertheless, a spirit’s qualities often modify the body used for its manifestations, and give a distinctive look to the face, even in a general manner. This is how hints of nobility and dignity may be found even under the humblest shell, the attempt to disguise the immorality of an individual with luxurious clothing often fails. Some individuals, who have climbed up from the lowest standing, manage to adopt the habits and manners of the higher ranks with little effort as if it were natural, while others, despite their advantages of birth and education, always seem to be out of place in refned society. How can this be explained other than as a refection of a spirit’s past lives?


Innate Ideas


218. Does a spirit preserve any trace of the thoughts and ideas it had or the knowledge it acquired in past lives?
“It retains a vague memory, which gives the spirit what you call ‘innate ideas’.”

a) So the theory of innate ideas is not pure fantasy?
“No, the knowledge acquired in each life is not lost. When a spirit is free from the material body, it always remembers what it has learned. It may forget this knowledge partially or temporarily when it reincarnates. However, the dormant intuition that it maintains helps it advance. If this intuition did not exist, the spirit would always have to begin its education from scratch. In a new life, a spirit picks up from the point at which it had left at the end of its previous life.”

b) If that is the case, there must be a very close connection between two consecutive lives?
“That connection is not always as close as you might think, since the conditions of the two lives are often very different, and the spirit may have made considerable progress in the interval between them.” (216)

219. What is the origin of the extraordinary faculties of individuals who appear to intuitively possess certain felds of knowledge, such as languages, mathematics, and so on, without any formal education?
“The vague recollection of their past, the result of progress previously made by the soul, but of which it has no present consciousness. From where else could that intuition originate? A spirit may change its body or shell, but it remains the same.”

220. Can we lose certain intellectual faculties when we change our bodies, such as an interest in the arts?
“Yes, if you have tarnished that faculty or made bad use of it. An intellectual faculty may also lie dormant for an entire existence because the spirit chooses to exercise another faculty that is completely unrelated to the latent ability. However, it will come into play in a future life.”

221. Are the instinctive knowledge of God’s existence and the intuition of a future life due to retrospective memory, which appears to be natural to human beings even savages?
“Yes, it is a memory that a person maintains of what they knew as a spirit before reincarnation, but pride often stifes this feeling.”

a) Are beliefs that are similar to Spiritism found across all nations due to this memory?
“The principles contained in Spiritism are as old as time itself and are consequently found everywhere. Incarnate spirits maintain the intuition of their time as a spirit and possess an instinctive consciousness of the spirit world. Still, this intuition is often tainted by prejudices, ignorance and superstition.”

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