Allan Kardec

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455. Natural somnambulism occurs spontaneously and independent of any known external cause, but among certain people endowed with a special physical makeup, they may be produced artifcially through the action of a magnetic agent.

The state called magnetic somnambulism is no different than natural somnambulism, except that it is artifcially produced, while the other is spontaneous.

Natural somnambulism, despite its miraculous nature, is a wellknown fact that few now dispute. Why should we view magnetic somnambulism as more extraordinary or incredible simply because it is produced artifcially, like so many other phenomena? Some say that charlatans exploit it, but that is another reason to refuse abandoning it to their hands. Whenever science embraces somnambulism, charlatans will have far less infuence on the masses. Meanwhile, since both natural and artifcial somnambulism effectively, are a fact – there is no arguing against fact – they are gaining grounds despite detractors, even in the realm of science, where it is entering through a multitude of side doors instead of through the front. Its right to be scientifcally respected will soon be fully recognized.

For Spiritism, somnambulism is much more than a physical wonder. Somnambulism sheds a brilliant light on psychology and it is a state in which we can study the soul, because in this state the soul fully reveals itself. One of the phenomena that characterize the soul is clairvoyance – which is independent of the ordinary organs of sight. Critics claim that somnambulists do not see all the time and, at the will of the experimental scientist, as they see with the eyes. Should we be shocked that the results are not the same given that the means are different? Is it logical to expect identical effects when the instruments do not exist? The soul has properties just like the eyes, and the former must be judged in its own right, and not by analogy.

The root of the clairvoyance of both the magnetic and the natural somnambulist is the same exactly: it is an attribute of the soul, and it is, in fact, an intrinsic ability of the spiritual being in us, and which has no limits than those assigned to the soul itself. They see wherever their souls can transport themselves, regardless of the distance.

At a distance, somnambulists do not see from where their bodies are located, as if through a telescope. It is, instead, as if the objects in the scope of their vision are in front of them, as if they were exactly where they see them because their souls are there in reality. This is why their bodies seem to be overpowered and deprived of sensation, until their souls retake possession of them. This partial separation of the soul and the body is abnormal and is not permanent. This is why the body feels tired after a lapse of time, especially when the soul is active during that partial separation.

The fact that soul sight or spirit sight is not restricted and has no defnite center explains why somnambulists are unable to attribute any special organ or focus to it. They see because they see, without knowing why or how, because sight for them, as spirits, does not have its own place in the body. If they refer their perception to their body, this focus seems to be where vital activity is greatest, particularly in the brain, the epigastria region, or whatever organ is where the bond between the spirit and body is strongest.

The scope of somnambulistic clarity is not limitless. Even when completely free, a spirit only possesses the abilities and knowledge associated with its degree of evolution. This limitation is further narrowed when associated with matter and subjected to its infuence. This is why somnambulistic clairvoyance is neither universal nor foolproof. It is less reliable when it deviates from the purpose given by nature, and is, instead, treated as a curiosity or subject of experimentation.

When the spirits of somnambulists are free, they more easily communicate with other spirits, incarnate or disincarnate, through the contact of fuids that make up their perispirits, and which enable the transmission of thought, like an electric wire.. Somnambulists do not require verbal speech to convey thoughts, which they feel and deduce. This method of perception makes them highly accessible and vulnerable to the infuences of the moral atmosphere surrounding them. Because of this, the presence of a large group of spectators to witness a somnambulist’s ability is not ideal, particularly when it is comprised of those who are only curious. These manifestations only occur freely in intimate gatherings, and under the infuence of sympathetic surroundings. The presence of those who are malicious or hostile produces the same effect as someone’s hand touching the sensitive person.

Somnambulists see their spirits and their bodies at the same time. The spirit and the body are two beings that represent their dual existence, both spiritual and physical blend into one by the ties that united them. Somnambulists do not always understand this situation and the duality, which often leads them to speak of themselves as if they were speaking of another person. In such cases, the physical being sometimes speaks to the spiritual being, and the spiritual being sometimes speaks to the physical being.

In each physical existence, spirits acquire more knowledge and experience. They lose sight of these gains when they reincarnate because matter is too rudimentary to allow them to recall this knowledge fully. However, they remember it as spirits. This is how some somnambulists show signs of possessing knowledge beyond their education and apparent intellectual capacity. Therefore, the intellectual and scientifc inferiority of somnambulists while awake does not disprove the knowledge that they may display when lucid. Depending on circumstances and intention, they may draw this knowledge from their own experience, from clairvoyant perception of actual events, or from counsels that they receive from other spirits.. Their statements are more or less correct depending on their degree of evolution.

In both natural and magnetic somnambulism, God provides undeniable proof of the existence and independence of the soul by allowing us to witness the awe-inspiring display of its emancipation. Through these phenomena, it opens to us the book of our destiny. When somnambulists describe their visions, it is obvious that they are seeing what they are describing, just not through their human eyes. They see themselves at that distant point, and feel transported there. Part of the somnambulist is actually present at that distant point, and since it is not the body, it can only be the soul or spirit. We human beings lose ourselves in abstract and unintelligible metaphysical subtleties in search of the root of our moral existence. However, God places the simplest and most certain means for studying experimental psychology right within our reach.

Ecstatic trance is the state in which the soul’s independence from the body is most apparent and tangible to the observer.

In dreaming and somnambulism, the soul wanders through physical worlds. In an ecstatic trance, the soul penetrates an unknown world, that of ethereal spirits, with whom it communicates, bounded by unsurpassable limits that would not be granted to the spirit without fully breaking the links that tie it to the body. Enveloped by different wonders, captivated by a harmony that is foreign to Earth, and overwhelmed by immeasurable bliss, the soul catches a glimpse of heavenly happiness, and it may be said that it places one foot on the threshold of eternity.

The annihilation of physical ties is almost complete while a person is in an ecstatic trance. The body possesses organic life only and a single thread connects it to the soul. It would break forever from the exertion of only the slightest effort.

In this state, all earthly thoughts disappear and give way to the purifed sensitivity that is the essence of our immaterial being. Completely absorbed in this transcendent state of contemplation, a person in an ecstatic trance views human life merely as a stop on our eternal journey. The successes and failures of this lower world, along with its rudimentary joys and sorrows, are nothing more than pointless incidents along a journey, and the ecstatic person anxiously awaits its end.

The same thing happens with ecstatics as with somnambulists: depending on their level of elevation their lucidity may be more purifed or less so, and they may or may not be able to grasp the truth of things. In their abnormal state of ecstasy, there is sometimes more nervous excitement than true lucidity. In fact, this nervous excitement impairs their lucidity and the resulting revelations are often a mixture of truth and error, inspirational and ridiculous ideas or even outrageous whims. Inferior spirits often take advantage of this excitement, which is a source of weakness when unrestrained, to overpower the ecstatic person. They assume the appearance that confrms the ideas and preconceptions from their waking state. This is an obstacle, but not all cases are similar, and we must weigh their statements carefully and judge their revelations under the microscope of reason.

The soul can be emancipated when it is awake, and this allows people possessing the second sight to see, hear, and feel beyond the limits of our senses. They perceive things wherever their soul may travel through ordinary sight, and judge these perceptions to be some kind of mirage. When the second sight occurs, the physical state is visibly changed. A person’s gaze becomes distant, and his or her physical appearance refects that the nervous system is in an unusual state. It is apparent that the physical eyes take no part in present perceptions because vision continues, despite the closing of the eyes.

The second sight, for those who possess this gift, appears as natural to them as conventional sight. It is an attribute of their being, and they are not aware of its exceptional character. They normally forget this brief lucidity, which fades from their memory like a distant dream.

The power of the second sight varies from a perplexing sensation to a clear perception of present or distant things. In its rudimentary state, it gives some individuals acuity or confdence in their decisions and actions that we may call the precision of the moral glance. At a higher degree of development, it incites premonitions. Even further developed, it may show events that have already taken place, or that are about to happen.

Natural and artifcial somnambulism, ecstatic trance, and second sight all stem from the same cause. Like dreams, they are a branch of natural phenomena and have always existed. History shows us that they have been recognized and exploited since the dawn of time. They provide an explanation for a great number of occurrences that irrational preconceptions have led humanity to label as “supernatural.”

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