222. Some people object that the dogma of reincarnation is not new,
and merely a revival of Pythagoras’ theory. We have never claimed that
Spiritism was a modern invention. On the contrary, it is a result of
natural law. Therefore, it must have existed since the beginning of
time, and we have always striven to prove that traces of it are found
in the earliest chronicles of antiquity. Pythagoras was not the author
of metempsychosis, but borrowed it from Indian and Egyptian philosophers,
who had already maintained this theory for ages. The idea
of soul transmigration was a widespread belief, admitted by the most
eminent thinkers of that time.
Where did this idea come from? Through revelation or intuition?
We do not know, but it may be safely assumed that no concept could
have survived ages and commanded the respect of the most esteemed
members of the human race if it had not been based on some solid
ground of truth and reason. The ancient roots of this doctrine should
therefore be considered an argument in its favor, rather than an objection.
At the same time, it must not be forgotten that there is a fundamental
difference between the antique doctrine of metempsychosis
and the modern doctrine of reincarnation, namely, that the spirits
who teach the latter categorically reject the idea that the human soul
can be embodied by an animal, and vice versa.
The spirits who now teach the dogma of multiple corporeal lives
reaffrm a theory that was born in the earliest ages of history, and that
has maintained a position of importance up to the present day for a
vast majority of people. However, they present this dogma in a manner
that is more rational, more compliant with the natural law of progress,
and more in harmony with the wisdom of the Creator by stripping
away the embellishments and exaggerations added by superstition.
A circumstance worthy of note is the fact that it is not in this book
alone that the doctrine in question has been instructed in recent years.
Even before its release, numerous publications of a similar nature had
already been circulated in various countries, and their number has greatly increased since. Here we may ask why it is that the statements of
all spirits are not in agreement. We will revisit this matter later.
For now we will review this topic from a perspective that is entirely
irrespective of any assumed declarations of the spirits. Let us suppose
that they made no statement whatsoever in regard to it, and even that
the very existence of spirits had not been surmised. Placing ourselves
on neutral ground for a moment and admitting the possibility of the
hypotheses pertaining to the variety and unity of corporeal lives, let us
see which of these is most in line with reason and our own interests.
There are people who reject the idea of reincarnation simply because
they do not like it, declaring that their present life has been
quite enough for them, and that they have no desire to restart a similar
one. We would like to ask these people whether they think that God
has asked them their wishes and opinions in regulating the universe.
Either the law of reincarnation exists, or it does not. If it exists, no matter
how displeasing it may be to them, they are compelled to submit to
it because God does not ask their permission to enforce it. It is as if a
sick person were to say, “I have suffered enough today, I do not chose
to suffer tomorrow.” Regardless of his or her opposition, that person
must continue suffering, not only tomorrow, but day after day, until
cured completely. Likewise, if it is their destiny to live again physically,
they will reincarnate and live again. Will it serve them to rebel against
necessity in vain, like a child refusing to go to school, or a condemned
criminal refusing to go to prison? They must submit to their fate, no
matter how unwilling they may be to do so. Such objections are too
foolish to merit more serious examination. However, in order to reassure
them, we will say that the Spiritist doctrine of reincarnation is by
no means as terrible as they imagine it to be, and that if they studied it
in depth, they would realize that they have nothing to fear. They would
understand that each new life depend solely on their own behavior,
that they will be happy or unhappy depending on their actions in this
present life, and that they may even raise themselves above the danger of falling
into the quicksand again due to their actions in this life.
We are assuming that those whom we are addressing believe in
some sort of afterlife and that they do not anticipate annihilation or
losing their soul to a universal whole, like so many drops of rain in the
ocean. If you believe in a future life, you probably do not think that it
will be the same for all because, in that case, what would be the point
of doing good? Why would human beings exercise any form of self-control?
Why should they not satisfy all their passions and desires, even at
the expense of the rest of the world, if the result is the same no matter what? If, on the other hand, you believe that the future will be happier
or less happy according to what one does in life, wouldn’t you want to
be as happy as possible in the future, since it will be for eternity?
Do you consider yourself to be one of the most excellent beings
who has ever walked the Earth, and that you are thereby are entitled
to supreme happiness? No. You admit, then, that there are some who
are better than you, and who consequently are entitled to a higher
standing, although you do not deserve to be counted among sinners.
Place yourself, then, for a moment, in this situation and imagine that
someone comes to you and says, “You are suffering; you are not as happy
as you could be and you are seeing others enjoying pure happiness.
Would you like to exchange your position for theirs?” “Of course,”
you reply, “how do I do that?” “Very simple, all you need to do is redo
what you have done badly, and try to do it better.” Would you hesitate
to accept the offer, even at the cost of several lifetimes of trials? Let us
look at an even more straightforward example. Imagine that someone
approaches a person who, although not completely destitute, is forced
to suffer a life of poverty due to a small income, and says to him or her,
“Here is an immense fortune that can be yours, on the condition that
you work hard for one minute.” The laziest person would say, without
hesitation, “I am ready to work for one minute, two minutes, an hour,
a whole day if necessary! What is a day’s labor in comparison to the
certainty of wealth and comfort for the rest of my life?” What is the
duration of a corporeal life in comparison to eternity? Less than a minute,
less than a second.
We sometimes hear people say, “God, who is supremely good, cannot
force a human being to restart a series of trials flled with anguish
and tribulations.” Is there more kindness in sentencing people to
eternal suffering for a few moments of error than in giving them the
means to make amends for their faults?
“Two manufacturers each had a worker who hoped to one day become
their employers’ partners. However, both workers wasted their
day and deserved to be fred. One of the manufacturers dismissed the
bad worker, despite heartfelt pleas. This working person was unable to
obtain any other employment and died of poverty. The other manufacturer
said to the worker ‘You have wasted a day. You owe me compensation
for the loss you have caused me. You have done your work
poorly and you owe me for it. Start over again. If you do a good job
I will not fre you, and you may still seek the higher position that I
had promised you.” Do we really need to ask which manufacturer has
proven to be the most humane? Would God, the paradigm of mercy itself, be more infexible than a just and compassionate person? The
idea that our actions for a few years decide our fate for eternity, in
spite of the fact that we could not reach perfection, while we were
on Earth flls the mind with anguish. Meanwhile, the opposite idea is
incredibly consoling as it gives us hope. Without choosing a side for
or against multiple lives, and without admitting that either hypothesis
is preferable, we contend that no one would prefer, if the matter were
left to his or her own choice, to sustain a sentence against which there
is no appeal. A philosopher once said, “If God did not exist, it would
be necessary to invent one. ”That is what one could say about the
concept of multiple lives. As we have already stated, God does not
ask our permission when creating Divine plans, nor does God consult
our preferences; things either are, or they are not. We will now
investigate the probability and consider this topic from a different
perspective, the philosophical point of view. We will not include
any teachings imparted by the spirits.
If reincarnation does not exist, it means we have only one corporeal
life. If the present corporeal life is the only one we are going to have
then each person’s soul is created at the same time as his or her bodies.
However, if we assume the preexistence of the soul we need to determine
the state of the soul before it is united with the body. If the soul
existed before the body, we must establish whether this state of being
constitutes an existence. There is no middle ground. Either the soul
existed before its union with the body, or it did not. If it existed, what
was its condition? Did it possess self-awareness? If not, it must have
been nearly comparable to non-existence. If it possessed individuality,
it must have been either progressive or stationary. In either case, what
was its degree of advancement upon uniting with the body? If, on the
contrary, we assume that the soul is born into existence at the same
time as the body, or that, prior to the birth of the body, it possesses only
negative faculties, we have to ask the following questions:
1. Why do souls have such a diversity of aptitudes, independent of
the ideas acquired by education?
2. From where does the special aptitude for certain arts and sciences
exhibited by many children at a very young age originate, while others
remain inferior or mediocre for their entire lives?
3. From where do some individuals derive the innate or intuitive
ideas that others lack?
4. From where do some children derive an instinctual gravitation
towards vice or virtue, or innate senses of dignity or wrongdoing, which
often contrasts with the circumstances into which they were born?
5. Why is it that some people, independent of education, are more
advanced than others?
6. Why is it that some human beings are savages and others civilized?
If you took a Khoikhoi baby from its mother’s breast, and
raised it in our most renowned schools, could you successfully make
this baby a Laplace or Newton?
We would ask what philosophy or theosophy can resolve these
problems? Either the souls of human beings are equal at birth or not,
that we cannot doubt. If they are equal, why are there so many different
aptitudes? Do they depend on the physical attributes of each child?
This would be the most unfair and immoral hypotheses because in that
case it makes a person a mere machine. People would not be responsible
for their actions, but would have the right to place all the blame for
their wrongdoings on the imperfections of their physical structure. If,
on the other hand, souls are created unequal, God must have created
them this way. In that case, why is this inherent superiority granted to
some and denied to others? Would such partiality be consistent with
God’s justice and the equal love God gives to all creatures?
On the contrary, if we admit the existence of multiple lives everything
is easily explained. At birth, human beings possess the level of
insight that they acquired previously. They are more or less advanced,
depending on the number of lives they have previously had and how
close or far they are from the common starting point. This is similar to
how in a company made up of individuals of all different ages, each person
has a degree of development and experience proportionate to the
number of years lived. The succession of years for the life of the body is
equivalent to what the succession of lives is for the life of the soul.
Imagine that one thousand people of every age, from an infant
to an eighty-year-old, were brought together in one place at the same
time. Suppose that their past is hidden from you, and you, in your ignorance,
imagine them all to have been born on the same day. You would
naturally wonder how some are big and some are small, some are old
while others are young, some are educated and others ignorant. But if
their past was revealed and you discovered that some had lived longer
than others, all these differences would be explained. God, out of divine
justice, could not create souls either more or less perfect. Given
our multiple corporeal lives, the differences in qualities that we see
around us is still consistent with strict equality because everything has
roots, not in the present, but in the past. Is this reasoning based on
any preconceived system or hypothesis? No. Instead it is founded upon
the clear and undeniable fact that natural aptitudes, in addition to
intellectual and moral development, are all different. This cannot be
explained by any current theory, while the explanation is simple, natural
and rational by using a new theory. Does it make sense to prefer a
theory that does not explain this fact over one that does?
In regard to the sixth question, one will quickly dismiss the Khoikhoi
as an inferior race. To this we simply ask whether a Khoikhoi is
or is not a human being. If it is a human being, why has God denied
it the privileges granted to the Caucasian race? If it is not a human
being, why try to make it Christian? Spiritist philosophy is much more
wide-ranging than all of that, because it acknowledges that there are
not several species of human beings but only humans as a whole, and
only recognizes human beings whose spirituality is more or less backward,
but who are all capable of the same progress. This view of the
human race is more in line with the concept of God’s justice, is it not?
We have considered the soul in regard to its past and its present. If
we now consider it in terms of the future, we encounter further diffculties
that modern theories still cannot explain.
1. If our future destiny is to be decided solely by our present life,
what will be the respective positions of the savage and the civilized
person in the future? Will they be on the same level, or will there be a
difference in their level of eternal happiness?
2. Will the individuals who have tirelessly worked their entire life
to achieve moral and intellectual improvement be placed at the same
rank as others who have remained at a lower point of moral and intellectual
improvement, not through their own fault but because they
had neither the time nor the opportunity to advance?
3. Can the individuals who have done wrong because the path to
enlightenment has been closed off to them be fairly punished for their
wrongdoing, even though this is not the result of a voluntary choice?
4. We strive to enlighten, moralize, and civilize all humans, but
for each individual that we are able to successfully educate, there are
millions who die every year without ever seeing the light. What is their fate? Should they be treated as sinners? If not, how have they deserved
the same treatment as the others?
5. What is the fate of children who die before they have been able
to do either good or bad? If they are welcomed among the purest spirits,
why have they been given this standing without having done anything
to deserve it? Why are they exempted from suffering the tribulations
of the physical life?
What current doctrine can solve these problems? If we acknowledge
our consecutive lives, all these problems are solved in compliance
with Divine justice. What we are unable to complete or do in one life,
we accomplish in another. Thus, no one escapes the law of progress.
Everyone is rewarded according to his or her own merit, and no one is
excluded from the ultimate attainment of supreme happiness, regardless
of the obstacles they must overcome on the journey to get there.
Questions related to this subject may be infnitely multiplied, because
the psychological and moral problems that can only be solved
by the theory of multiple lives are innumerable. In this work, we have
restricted our examination to the most general issues. Some detractors
may maintain that whatever the arguments in its favor, reincarnation is
not acknowledged by the Church and its acceptance would therefore,
not only confict religious doctrine but utterly decimate it as well. Our
objective is not to discuss the implications of this subject, but rather to
highlight the exceedingly moral and rational character of the theory.
On the contrary, we may confdently contend that a moral and rational
doctrine cannot possibly be antagonistic to a religion that proclaims
the Divine Being to be the paradigm of goodness and reason. What
would have happened to the Church if, in opposition to scientifc research
and the discoveries of humanity, it had continued to resolutely
reject overwhelming evidence, thus, ostracizing anyone who did not
believe in the movement of the sun around the Earth or the six days of
creation? How would “enlightened nations” have retained any shred
of credibility if they continued to champion a religious system that
taught such obvious errors as steadfast beliefs? Whenever any evidence
has been established conclusively, the Church has sensibly supported
this evidence. If the facts of human life are proven to be irreconcilable
without reincarnation, if certain points of Church dogma can only
be explained by such means, the Church will be forced to acknowledge
its truth. It will have to confess that the apparent antagonism
between these two arguments is superfcial. Religion has no more to
fear from the acceptance of this doctrine than from the discovery of
Earth’s movement and geologic time periods, which outwardly appear to contradict the sacred texts. In reality, reincarnation is implied in
many passages of the Scriptures, and is explicitly noted in the Gospels:
“As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged
them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has been
raised from the dead.’ Then, his disciples asked him, ‘Why do the
scribes say that Elijah must come frst?’ He said in reply, ‘Elijah will indeed
come and restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already
come, and, they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they
pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.’ Then the
disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.”
(Matthew, 17: 9-13)
Since John the Baptist was Elijah, this implies that Elijah’s spirit or
soul must have reincarnated in the body of John the Baptist.
Whatever our opinion about reincarnation is, regardless of whether
we accept it or reject it, we will, if it exists, have no choice but to
experience it. The crucial point here is that the spirits’ teachings are
predominantly Christian. They are founded on the concepts of the
immortality of the soul, future rewards and atonements, God’s justice,
free will, and Christ’s moral code. For that reason, it cannot be considered
We have discussed this subject without referring to any of the
spirits’ statements because they do not constitute an offcial authority
for many people. If we, and so many others, have adopted the belief
in multiple lives, it is not simply because the spirits have preached it.
The reason is that it is rational and resolves inconsistencies that would
otherwise be impossible to explain. If a person suggested it to us, we
would adopt it assuredly and quickly. We would renounce our preconceived
notions because when there is proof that an opinion is fawed
even self-love has more to lose than to gain if it clings to it stubbornly.
Likewise, we would reject the theory of reincarnation if it appeared
to confict with reason, even if preached by the spirits, just as we have
rejected many other ideas they suggested. We have learned by experience
that we cannot blindly accept ideas suggested by spirits or people
alike. The biggest advantage in support of reincarnation is that it is
incredibly rational. It also has the confrmation of facts – both positive
and material – that are clear to all who study the subject patiently and
purposefully. This eradicates any possibility of doubt as to the reality of
reincarnation. When this affrmation become widespread those who
currently oppose it will be forced to relinquish their opposition. This
is precisely what happened with ideas concerning the formation and
rotation of the Earth.
In summary, the theory of multiple lives is the only one that explains
what is otherwise inexplicable. It is comforting and it complies
with the concept of fair justice perfectly. It is the life preserver that
God throws to humanity.
The words of Jesus leave no doubt regarding this last statement. As
we read in the 3rd chapter of the Gospel according to John:
Verse 3. Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus, “Very truly I tell you, no one
can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again,”
Verse 4. Nicodemus said to him, “How can someone be born when
they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s
womb to be born!”
Verse 5. Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the
kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh
gives birth to fesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not
be surprised at my saying, You must be born again.” (John 3:3-7) (See
the article Resurrection of the Body, no. 1010, hereinafter)