VII. LAW OF PROGRESS
State of Nature - The March of Progress - Declining Nations - Civilization - Progress of Societal Legislation - Influence of Spiritism on Progress
State of Nature
776. Are the state of nature and the law of nature the same thing?
“No, the state of nature is the original state. Civilization is incompatible
with the state of nature, while the law of nature contributes to
the progress of humankind.”
The state of nature is the first phase of the human race, and the
starting point of its intellectual and moral development. Human
beings, born imperfect and containing the seed of their
betterment, are not destined to live in the state of nature forever,
just as they do not remain in the state of infancy. The state of
nature is brief, and human beings outgrow it through progress
and civilization. On the contrary, natural law rules humankind
as a whole. People improve as they understand this law more
clearly, and mold their actions to adhere to it.
777. In the state of nature, people with fewer wants do not have many of the
tribulations as human beings who are socially more advanced. What should
we think of the opinion of those who regard the former state as being that of
the most perfect happiness that can be obtained on Earth?
“What do you expect? That is the ignorant bliss of the brute. Such
happiness is that of an animal, but there are people who know no better.
Children are also happier than adults.”
778. Can humankind regress to the state of nature?
“No. Humankind must always progress, and cannot return to the
state of infancy. If they progress because it is God has willed it. An assumption
that people can revert to the primitive condition is to deny
the law of progress.”
The March of Progress
779. Do humans contain a force within them that propels them forward
on the path of progress, or is their progress only the product of education?
“Human beings develop themselves naturally. Human beings do
not progress at the same rate, or in the same manner. This is why the
most advanced help others move forward through social contact.”
780. Does moral progress always follow intellectual progress?
“It is the result, but it does not always follow it immediately.” (See
a) How can intellectual progress lead to moral progress?
“By making human beings gain an understanding of good and
wrongdoing they can then choose between them. The development
of free will follows the development of intelligence and increases the
accountability of human actions.”
b) How is it then that the most enlightened nations are often the
“Complete and integral progress is the purpose of life, but nations,
like individuals, reach it gradually. Until the moral sense is developed,
they may even employ their intelligence in doing evil. Moral sense and
intellect are two forces that are balanced over the course of time.” (See
781. Do human beings have the power to halt progress?
“No, but they can hamper it sometimes.”
a) What should we think of those who attempt to halt progress, and
make the human race regress?
“God will punish them. They will be overthrown by the flow they
want to stop.”
Progress is a condition of human nature and no one can prevent
it. It is a living force that bad laws may hamper, but not
smother. When these laws become incompatible, progress
breaks them down and continues to do so until the laws of humankind
match Divine justice, which wills the best for everyone,
and until all laws made by the strong to the detriment of
the weak are eradicated.
782. Are there individuals who honestly obstruct progress while believing
that they are helping it move forward, because they often regard something
as “progress” that is not such?
“Yes, they are like small pebbles under the great wheel that cannot
keep it from moving.”
783. Does the improvement of humanity always follow a progressive and
“There is a regular slow progress that inevitably results from circumstances,
but when a population does not advance quickly enough,
God creates a physical or moral shock that hastens its transformation.”
Human beings cannot remain unaware forever, because they
must reach the goal God set for them. Circumstance enlightens
them gradually. Moral revolutions, like social revolutions, are
introduced into the minds of a nation slowly. They continue to
evolve for centuries, and suddenly sprout, toppling the crumbling
structure of the past that is no longer in harmony with the
goals and objectives of a new day.
Human beings often perceive only the fleeting chaos and confusion
that affect them in their material interests, but those
who raise their thoughts above themselves admire the Divine
planning that brings good out of evil. Such commotions are
like a storm that purifies the atmosphere after disturbing it.
784. The perversity of humankind is immense. It seems that human beings
are regressing rather than advancing, at least in terms of morality.
“You are wrong. Look at the human race as a whole, and you will
see that it is advancing. It has arrived at a clearer perception of what
is evil, and witnesses the reform of some kind of abuse every day. An
excess of wickedness is required to show the need for good and the
need for reforms.”
785. What is the greatest obstacle to progress?
“Pride and selfishness. This is in terms of moral progress, as intellectual
progress is constant, and at first glance, it seems to magnify
those vices by developing ambition and the love of possessions and
wealth. These feelings drive human beings to carry out the research
that enlightens their minds, and this is how all things are linked together
in the moral and physical worlds, and how good is eventually
created out of iniquity. This condition is only temporary and will
change as human beings become aware that there is an infinitely greater
and everlasting happiness beyond the realm of earthly pleasures.”
(See Selfishness, Chapter XII)
Two types of progress mutually support one another, but do
not necessarily occur at the same rate: intellectual progress
and moral progress. In civilized nations, the former is currently receiving a great deal of encouragement, and it has reached a
degree of advancement that is incomparable to past ages. The
second is very far from reaching the same point, although if
we compare the social values across centuries, we are forced to
admit that progress has also been made in this direction. Why
has progress stalled in morality more than in intelligence? Why
should there be less of a difference between the morality of the
19th and 24th centuries than between that of the 14th and the
19th? Not questioning the consistency of moral progress would
be to assume either that the human race has reached the peak
of perfection, which would be ridiculous, or that it is not morally
perfectible, which experience contradicts.
786. History shows us many nations that have relapsed into barbarism after
being subjected to shocks or blows that have devastated them. Where is progress
in these cases?
“When your house threatens to fall down, you tear it down to build
another that is more stable and more practical. However, chaos continues
in your home until the latter is built.”
“Here is another example. You are poor and live in a hut, but you
become wealthy and leave the hut to live in a palace. A poor person
then comes along and moves into the hut you have vacated. This individual
is a winner in the move, as he or she was previously homeless.
Well then, learn from this that the spirits incarnated in this declining
culture are no longer those who had comprised that culture during its
time of splendor. The more advanced spirits have moved on to better
worlds and have progressed, while the less advanced have taken their
vacated places, which they too will in turn vacate.”
787. Are there individuals who are intrinsically rebellious towards progress?
“Yes, but they are progressively becoming extinct, physically.”
a) What will be the fate of the souls that incarnate in these races?
“They will reach perfection by experiencing other lives. God does
not disinherit anyone.”
b) So the most civilized human beings may have been savages and cannibals?
“You were one once, even more than once, before becoming what
you are now.”
788. Nations are collective individualities that pass through the phases of
infancy, maturity, and decline, just as individuals do. Does this truth, as proven by history, imply that the most advanced nations of this century will
ultimately experience their decline and end, just like those of antiquity?
“Nations that only live a material life and whose greatness is based
on force and territorial expansion are born, grow, and die, because
the strength of a nation eventually becomes exhausted like that of an
individual. Nations whose selfish laws are opposed to the progress of
enlightenment and charity die because light kills darkness, and charity
kills selfishness. That being said, nations and individuals also have a
spiritual life, and those whose laws are in harmony with God’s eternal
laws will continue to live and serve as a beacon for other nations.”
789. Will progress ultimately unite all the people of the Earth in a single nation?
“No, not into a single nation. That would be impossible because
climate differences yield distinct habits and needs that make up nationalities,
each of which always need laws tailored to its special habits
and needs. Charity has no geographical boundaries and makes no
distinction between skin colors. When God’s law is the basis of human
made law everywhere and the law of charity is practiced among nations
and among individuals, everyone will live in peace and happiness
because no one will attempt to do wrong to a neighbor or live at the
expense of others.”
The human race advances through the progress of individuals,
who gradually become enlightened. When they constitute a
majority, they take the lead and draw the rest forward. Persons
of genius sporadically emerge and give momentum to advancement,
and persons of authority, God’s instruments, carry out in
the course of a few years what the race, left to its own devices,
would have taken several centuries to accomplish.
The progress of nations further highlights the justice of reincarnation.
Through the efforts of moral individuals, a nation
advances intellectually and morally, and is ultimately happier
in this world and in the next. However, during its slow journey
over the course of successive centuries, thousands of individuals
die every day. What is the fate of those who have fallen along
the way? Does their relative inferiority deprive them of the happiness
reserved for future generations? Is their happiness relative?
Divine justice cannot permit such an injustice. Through
experiencing many lives, the right to happiness is within the
reach of all the legacy of progress does not exclude anyone.
Those who have lived during barbaric times can come back in
a period of civilization in the same nation or another, and can
profit by the advancement of the various nations on Earth.
However, the concept of one life presents another difficulty.
According to that theory, the soul is created at birth. For some
individuals to be more advanced than others, God would have
to create souls for them that are more advanced than the rest of
creation. What would be the source of this favoritism? How can
one person, who has lived no longer than another, often not
even as long, merit a superior soul? That is not the only problem.
A nation, over the course of a thousand years, transitions
from barbarism to civilization. If all human beings lived one
thousand years, we could understand that they would have the
time to progress. However, many die every day, at all ages, and
people are continuously being reborn on Earth. At the end of
one thousand years, no trace remains of those who were living
in a country one thousand years before. The nation has become
civilized – but who has progressed? Are they the people
who were once barbarians? But they died a long time ago. Are
they the newcomers? If the soul is created at birth, these souls
did not exist during the period of barbarism, and we would be
required to assert that the efforts made to civilize a nation do
not have the power to improve imperfect souls, but to make
God create more perfect souls.
We will now compare this theory of progress with that given by
the spirits. The souls that come to a civilized nation have had
their infancy, like all others, but they have already lived and
are advanced due to prior progress. They are attracted by the
circumstances best suited to them and their present condition.
The efforts to civilize a nation are not aimed at creating better
quality souls in the future, but rather, at attracting souls that
have already progressed, regardless of where they have previously
lived. The progress each nation accomplishes provides the
key to the progress of humankind as a whole. It shows that when
every nation on the Earth has reached the same level of moral
advancement, our planet will be a haven of good spirits, who will
live in a fraternal union. All the bad spirits will be repelled and
forced to seek surroundings that suit them in inferior worlds,
until they are worthy of coming back into our transformed
world. The commonly accepted theory of the one life, devoid
of the concept of reincarnation, leads to another consequence,
specifically, that the work of social betterment is only beneficial
to present and future generations. Its result is null and void for
past generations, who made the mistake of entering the world
too soon, and who have to make do, hampered by the faults of
their barbaric past. According to Spiritism, the progress accomplished
by later generations is also beneficial to the generations that preceded them, who can improve for the goal of civilization
when they reincarnate at a point in the future. (See no. 222)
790. Is civilization the progress of humankind or according to some philosophers,
“It is incomplete progress. Humankind does not suddenly morph
from infancy to maturity.”
a) Is it rational to condemn civilization?
“You should condemn those who abuse it, rather than God’s work.”
791. Will civilization be purified eventually so that the evils caused by it
“Yes, when humankind’s moral nature is as fully developed as its
intelligence. The fruit cannot appear before the flower blooms.”
792. Why does civilization not produce all the good it can produce?
“Because human beings are not yet ready or willing to obtain
a) Could it also be because it generates new passions in creating new wants?
“Yes, and because a spirit’s faculties do not progress at the same
rate, everything takes time. You cannot expect perfect fruit from an
incomplete civilization.” (See nos. 751-780)
793. What are the signs of a fully developed civilization?
“You recognize it by its moral development. You think you are advanced
because you have made great discoveries and brilliant inventions
and because you are better sheltered and clothed than savages.
However, you will only truly have the right to call yourselves ‘civilized’
when you have eradicated vices from your society and when you live
as brothers and sisters, practicing Christian charity. Until then, you
are merely enlightened nations that have only passed through the
first phase of civilization.”
Civilization has its degrees, like everything else. A civilization in
transition is an incomplete civilization. It produces distinct evils
unknown in the primitive state. Still, it constitutes a natural and
necessary progress that remedies the problems it causes. As civilization
is perfected it ends some of the problems it causes and
these troubles vanish completely with moral progress.
The most advanced nation from any two that have reached the
top of the social ladder is the one with the least amount of selfishness, greed, and pride. The one whose habits are morally
better, more intellectual than material and where intelligence
can develop freely. It is the one with the greatest amount of
kindness, good faith, compassion and generosity. It is where
prejudices of class and birth are not rooted because they are
compatible with true love for one’s neighbor. Its laws do not allow
privileges and are the same for every member of its society.
It is the one where justice is administered with the least amount
of bias and the weak always finds support against the strong. It
is where human life, beliefs, opinions are respected and where
there is the smallest number of poor and unhappy individuals.
Finally, it is a nation where people who are willing to work are
guaranteed the essentials for survival.
Progress of Societal Legislation
794. Can society be sufficiently governed only by natural law without human
“If the laws of nature were properly understood and people were
willing to practice them, they would be sufficient. But society has its
demands and requires special laws.”
795. What causes the instability of human laws?
“During barbaric times, laws were made by the strongest who established
them to their own advantage. Therefore, as human beings
have acquired a clearer understanding of justice, these laws have had
to be modified. Human laws will become more stable as they approach
true justice, meaning, as they represent everyone and are in harmony
with natural law.”
Civilization has created new needs for human beings, and these
needs are relative to their social standing. People in civilized societies
regulate the rights and duties of their standing through
human laws. They have often created imaginary rights and
duties that are condemned by the natural law, and that every
nation removes from its code as it progresses because people
are influenced by their passions. Natural law is absolute and
the same for all. Human law is variable and progressive; at the
inception of human societies, it only could establish the rights
of the strongest.
796. Is the severity of criminal laws necessary for society as it stands today?
“A depraved society requires more severe laws, but your laws, unfortunately,
are designed to punish wrongdoing after the fact, rather than eliminating the source of bad behavior. Only education can reform humankind,
and then you will no longer require such harsh laws.”
797. How can human beings be led to reform their laws?
“This occurs naturally, based on the circumstances, and through
the influence of more advanced individuals who drive the world forward
on the path of progress. It has already changed significantly, and
will continue to do so. Just wait and see!”
Influence of Spiritism on Progress
798. Will Spiritism become a widespread belief, or will it continue to only be
accepted by the minority?
“It will definitely become a widespread belief, and will mark a new
era in the history of humankind because it belongs to nature and the
time has come for it to be recognized and accepted by human knowledge.
It will have to withstand fierce criticism prompted by selfish interests
rather than by conviction, because there are individuals whose
interests lie in tearing down this belief, some out of pride, others for
material motives. Its opponents, however, will be forced to join the
general consensus, or otherwise risk undermining their own efforts.”
Ideas are only transformed over the course of time, never
suddenly. Flawed ideas are weakened over successive generations,
and end up disappearing little by little along with those
who professed them. They are replaced by other individuals
with new ideas, as is the case in regard to political ideas and
principles. Look at paganism: no one today professes the religious
ideas of pagan times. Yet, they left traces that could only
be erased by the complete rebirth of the human beings who
supported these beliefs for several centuries after the dawn of
Christianity. The same will happen with Spiritism. It has been
making considerable progress, but healthy skepticism will persist
for two or three generations that only time will be able to
break down. Nevertheless, its progress will be faster than that of
Christianity, because Christianity itself clears the way for it and
serves as its basis and support. Christianity had to destroy prior
beliefs; Spiritism only has to build up from there.
799. How can Spiritism contribute to progress?
“By destroying materialism, which is one of the plagues of society,
and making people understand where their true interest lies. When
human beings no longer doubt the future life; they will understand
more clearly that they can guarantee their future by the present. By
destroying the prejudices of divisions, castes and skin color, it teaches individuals about the great solidarity that will one day unite them as
brothers and sisters.”
800. Should we be concerned that Spiritism may fail to triumph over the negligence
of human beings and their attachment to material things?
“This question demonstrates a very superficial knowledge of human
nature, if one could believe that any cause could transform them
by mere charm or enchantment. Ideas change gradually, depending
on the individual, and several generations are needed for the complete
eradication of old habits. Therefore, the transformation of humankind
can be carried out only over the course of time, slowly, and
step by step. With each new generation, part of the veil evaporates, and
Spiritism will dissolve it entirely. In the meantime, even if it only cures
human beings of a single fault, this is a step forward. This would be a
tremendous accomplishment because this first step would make the
rest much easier.”
801. Why have the spirits not taught what they are teaching now since the
beginning of time?
“You do not teach to children what you teach to adults, just as you
do not give newborn babies food that they cannot digest. There is a
time and place for everything. Spirits have taught many things that human
beings have not understood or that they have distorted, but that
they are now capable of understanding. Through their teachings, they
have prepared the ground to sow the seed that is now about to take
hold and grow despite being incomplete.”
802. Since Spiritism must mark the progress of humankind, could the spirits
speed up this progress through general and clear manifestations to convince
even the most skeptical individuals?
“You want miracles, but God grants you miracles every day and yet
you still have people who deny their existence. Did Christ convince
his contemporaries by the miracles he accomplished? Do you not see
people, to this day, denying the most evident facts, despite occurring
before their very eyes? Are there not some who say that they would not
believe, even if they saw it? No, it is not through miracles that God will
bring human beings back to their senses. God’s goodness allows them
to convince themselves through reason.”