Allan Kardec

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Contradictions in the language of the spirits

The contradictions so frequently found in the language of the spirits, even about essential questions, have been a cause of uncertainty to some people, with respect to the real value of their communications, circumstance of which the adversaries also take advantage. At first sight those contradictions really seem to be one of the main stopping blocks of the Spiritist Science.

Let us see if they hold the importance attributed to them.

One needs to start by analyzing how Science produced similar anomalies at the beginning of its inception. Which scholar was not confused in his investigation by facts that apparently contradicted the established rules? Doesn’t Botany, Zoology, Physiology, Medicine and the language itself offer us thousands of similar examples and doesn’t their bases defy any contradiction? It is by comparing the facts, observing the analogies and dissimilarities that it is possible to gradually establish the rules, the classification, and the principles: in one word, to constitute the Science.

Well, Spiritism has just germinated. Thus it is not surprising that it adjusts to the common law while its study is completed. It is only then that one will acknowledge that with this Science, as with everything else, the exception almost always confirms the rule.

As a matter of fact, the spirits have always told us that we should not be worried about such small divergences and that everything would be soon driven towards a unity of belief. In fact, such a prediction holds true every day, as we penetrate further and further into the causes of these mysterious phenomena and that the facts are better observed. Contrary to that, the dissidences manifested in the origin evidently tend to weaken. One can even say that nowadays these are nothing more than isolated personal opinions.

Although Spiritism is in nature and that it has been known and practiced since the beginning, it is a fact that it has never been as universally spread as it is today. This is due to the fact that at other times it was studied as something mysterious, where the commoners were not initiated. It was preserved by tradition so that the vicissitudes of humanity and the lack of means for its transmission weakened insensibly. The spontaneous phenomena that took place, from time to time, went unnoticed or were interpreted according to the ignorance of the day or even were exploited to the benefit of one belief or another.

It was reserved to our century, when progress receives a never-ending impulse, to bring about a Science that, so to speak, only existed in its latent state. It was only a few years ago that the phenomena were seriously observed. Spiritism is truly a new Science that step by step implants into the heart of the masses, waiting to occupy an official position.

This Science, in principle, seemed very simple. To the superficial minds it was nothing more than the art of moving tables. However, a more careful observation revealed a much more complex Science than previously thought from its ramifications and consequences. The turning tables are like Newton’s apple, whose fall contains the system of the world.

It has happened to Spiritism the same that happens, in principle, to everything else: the first ones could not see it all; each one would see from their standpoint and communicate their impressions from their point of view and according to their ideas and prejudices. Well, isn’t that a fact known to everyone that, depending on the environment, the same object may seem cold to some and hot to others?

Let us take another example from the ordinary things, even trivial ones, in order to make us better understood. The newspapers have published lately: “Mushrooms is one of the most bizarre foods: delicious or deadly, microscopic or showing phenomenal dimensions, constantly disorienting the Botanists. In the Doncastre tunnel there is a mushroom developing for about twelve months and, as it seems, has not yet reached its final phase of growth. It is currently fifteen feet in diameter. It showed up on a wooden log, considered the most beautiful specimen ever observed. Its classification is difficult as the opinions are divided.”

Thus, here we have Science perturbed by the appearance of one mushroom that presents a new species. This fact has provoked in us the following reflection: Suppose several naturalists independently observing a variety of this vegetable. One will say that the mushroom is an edible criptogamus, appreciated by the gluttonous; the second one will say that it is poisonous; the third will say that it is invisible to the naked eye; the fourth will say that it can reach up to forty-five feet in diameter, etc. At first sight all opinions seem contradictory and not much helpful to the definition of the true nature of the mushrooms. Later a fifth observer will acknowledge the identity of the general characters and show that those diversified properties are nothing more than varieties or subdivisions of only one class. Each observer was right from their point of view; all were wrong though when concluding from the particular to the general and when they took the part by the whole.

The same happens with the spirits. They have been judged according to the nature of the relationships established with them; consequently some were made demons and other angels. Because there was rush in explaining the phenomena before everything was seen, each observer made it on their own terms and, very naturally, sought the causes where the object of their concerns were placed. The Magnetist referred everything to magnetism; the Physicist to the action of electricity and so forth. The divergence of opinions with respect to Spiritism comes then from the different aspects that are considered.

On which side is the truth?

This is what the future will demonstrate. But the general tendency will not move much. One principle evidently dominates and progressively unites the premature systems. A less exclusive observation will unite all systems in a common origin and we shall soon see that the divergence is more accessory than fundamental.

It is understandable that man may raise antagonistic theories about things but what can seem more original is that the spirits themselves contradict each other. This is what, since the beginning, caused a certain confusion of ideas.

The several spiritist theories have then two sources: some were born from the human brain; the spirits gave others. The former emanates from men that showing excessive confidence in their own believes to have the key to what they seek, when most of the time they have only found a picklock. No surprise there, but the fact that among the spirits some said one thing and others something else was less conceivable. However, this is now perfectly explainable.

In the beginning an absolutely false idea was made about the nature of the spirits. They were seen as special beings, not having anything in common with matter, knowing everything. They were, according to personal opinions, malefactors or benefactors, some with every virtue others with every vice, all generally with an infinite knowledge and superior to humanity. Following the news of the recent manifestations, the first idea that came to mind to most people was that it was a means of penetrating all occult things; a new method of guess work, less subjected to doubts as with the vulgar processes.

Who could tell the number of people who dreamt of making easy fortune by the revelation of the occult treasures; by the technological or scientific discoveries which would cost the inventors no more than the work of describing what was dictated by the wise men of the other world! God knows how many failures and disillusions!

How many pseudo recommendations, each more ridicule than the next, were not given by the charlatans of the invisible world! We know someone that requested an infallible recommendation to tint the hair. A waxy formula was given which reduced the person’s hair to something like a compact mass, which the poor patient had great difficulty to eliminate.

All these dreamlike hopes had to fade away while the nature of that world became clearer and the true objective of the visits we receive from its inhabitants became known. To several people, however, where was the value of those spirits who did not even have the power of providing some millions to those who did not do anything? They could not be spirits!

The short lasting fever was replaced by indifference and in some by incredulity. Oh! How many proselytes could have the spirits made if they could benefit the indolent! The devil himself would have been adored had he had agitated his wallet.

Besides the dreamers there were serious people who saw something in those phenomena beyond vulgarity. They carefully observed; probed the inside of that mysterious world and easily noticed a providential objective of an elevated order in those strange if not new facts. Everything changed in aspect once noticed that the spirits were creatures who lived on Earth, to whom we will join after our death; that they left their dense covering here like the silkworm leaves its cocoon to become a moth.

We could no longer doubt when we saw our parents, friends and contemporaries coming to talk to us, providing irrefutable proofs of their presence and identity. Considering the great diversity of characters presented by humanity, under the intellectual and moral point of view, and the crowd that daily emigrates from Earth to the invisible world, it disgusts reason to admit that a stupid Samoyed, a fierce cannibal or a vile criminal suffer with death a transformation that puts them on the same spot as the scholar and the man of good deeds. One can thus understand that there should be more or less advanced spirits and from there on explain the so much diversified communications in which some elevate to the sublime and others go down to the dirt.

We understand even better when we stopped believing that our small grain of sand, lost in space, is the only inhabited among millions of similar globes, learned that it occupies an intermediary position, close to the lowest of the scale; and as consequence that there are beings more advanced than the most advanced among us and others even more basic than our savage ones.

Since then the moral and intellectual horizon have amplified, as our earthly horizon when the fourth part of the world was discovered; at the same time the power and majesty of God grew before our eyes, from the finite to the infinite. Thus, the contradictions in the language of the spirits were soon explained, as it was understood that inferior beings from all points of view could not think and express like the superior ones; consequently, they could not know everything, neither understand everything and that God should reserve only to the elected ones the knowledge of the mysteries unreachable by ignorance.

The spirits’ scale, outlined by the spirits themselves and according to the observation of the facts, gives us the key to all apparent anomalies of the language of the spirits. It is necessary to get to know them by the force of habit and, so to speak, be able to deduce their class at first sight, according to the nature of their manifestations. According to the need, it is necessary to say to one that he is a liar, to another that he is a hypocrite, to this one that he is malevolent, to the other that he is rude, etc..., without being impressed by their arrogance and bragging, neither by their threats or sophisms nor even by their adulation. This is how one can keep this mob away that pullulates around us and that stays away when we know how to attract only spirits that are truly good and serious; we do the same with respect to the living ones.
Will these tiny beings be eternally dedicated to evil and ignorance? No, hence such partiality would not be in agreement with the justice, neither the goodness of the Creator who provides the existence and well being of the smallest insect. It is through a succession of existences that they elevate and approach Him, while improving themselves. Those inferior spirits only know God by the name; they neither see him nor understand him, in the same way that the last peasant in the middle of his heathers does not see nor understand the sovereign of his own country.

If we carefully study the own character of each class of spirits we will easily understand that there are some incapable of providing accurate teachings regarding the state of their world. If we consider further that there are others that by nature are frivolous, liars, mockers, malevolent, and that others are still impregnated by the earthly ideas and prejudices, we will understand that in their relationship with us they can make fun of us; consciously induce error by malice; affirm something that they don’t know; give us perfidious advices or even trick us in good faith, when judging things from their point of view.

Let us make a comparison.

Suppose that a colony of Earth’s inhabitants, on a given day, find the means of traveling to the moon; suppose that the colony is composed of several elements of the population of our globe, since the most civilized European to the Australian savage. Moon’s inhabitants would be moved and even astonished if they could obtain accurate teachings from their visitors about our planet, which some supposed inhabited but were not sure, since among them there are some that consider themselves the only inhabitants of the universe. They surround the newcomers and question them; the wise ones rush to publish the moral and physical history of Earth. How could it not be an authentic history once they have visual witnesses? One of them has a Zealander in his house who says that on Earth it is a real treat to eat men and that God allows it so as the victims are sacrificed in His honor. In another house there is a philosopher that talks about Plato and Aristotle and says that anthropophagi is an abomination condemned by all Divine and human laws. Here a Muslim who does not eat flesh but who says that salvation is conquered by killing the highest number of Christians; in another place there is a Christian saying that Mohammed was an imposter; further down there is a Chinese who considers everyone else as barbarians and affirms that when one has too many children God allows to throw them into the river; a Bohemian paints the picture of dissolute life in the big capital cities; an Anchorite preaches abstinence and mortifications; a Hindu fakir shreds the body and to open the doors of heaven he self imposes such a suffering that, comparatively, the privations of the most devout cenobite constitute sensuality. Then comes a Scientist saying that it is Earth that turns not the Sun; a peasant says that the Scientist is a liar since he sees the Sun rising and setting very well; a Senegalean says that it is hot; an Eskimo says that the sea is a frozen plain and that traveling can only be done by sledges. Politics is not forgotten: some praise absolutism, others the liberals; this one says that slavery is against nature and that, as children of God, all men are brothers; another one says that some races were cut for slavery and that they are much happier than in a free state, etc.

I believe the Selenites (Moom’s inhabitants) would feel embarrassed to write Earth’s physical, political, moral and religious history based on such documents.

“Who knows”, they think, “we will find greater unity among the scholars? Let us interrogate a group of doctors.”

One of them, a doctor from the Parisian Faculty, center of lights, says that every disease in principle has a contaminated blood and because of that it is necessary to renovate the blood, bleeding the patient whatever the case may be.

- You are wrong, says a wise comrade, man never has enough blood; if you drain it you drain life. I agree that the blood may be contaminated but what do we do when a vase is dirty? Nobody breaks it but tries to clean it; then give purgative, purgative, and purgative until it is clean.
A third one says:

- Gentlemen, with the bleeding you kill the patients and with the purgatives you poison them. Nature is wiser than all of us. Let it run its course. Let us wait.

- That is it, reply the other two, if we kill our patients you allow them to die.

Things get heated up when a fourth doctor, taking aside a Selenite, pulls him to the left saying:

- Do not listen to them. They are all ignorant. I don’t even know why they belong to the Academy! Follow my reasoning: every patient is weak; thus there is a weakening of the organs. This is pure logic or I don’t recognize myself anymore. One has to provide tonus but for that there is only one remedy: cold water. I stick to that.

- Do you cure every patient of yours?

- Everyone, as long as the disease is not deadly.

- With such an infallible process, do you belong to the Academy?

- I have presented my candidacy three times but would you believe that I have always been blocked by these pseudo scholars, because they know that I would pulverize them with my cold water?

- Mr.Selenite, says another person in the conversation, pulling him to the right – we live in an atmosphere of electricity which is the true principle of life; increase it when it is not enough; diminish it when in excess; neutralize the opposing fluids one by the other - that is the secret. I do wonders with my devices. Read my ads and you will see! *

We would never come to an end if we wanted to summarize every contrary theory that was preconized, from all branches of human knowledge, including exact sciences. However, it was in the metaphysics that the field was widely open to the most contradictory doctrines.

Nevertheless, a man of spirit and discerning capacity (why would he not be on the moon?) compare all these incoherent affirmations and comes to a very logical conclusion: there are hot and cold regions on Earth; in certain places men devour each other; in others they kill those who think differently; all for the great glory of their divinity; finally, each speaks according to their knowledge and praises things from the point of view of their passions and interests.
Now, who is going to preferably believe?

By the language and without difficulty, he will distinguish the truly wise from the ignorant; the serious man from the frivolous; the thinker from the sophist. He will not confuse good with bad feelings, elevation with ridicule, good with evil and shall say: “I have to hear everything, understand everything, because, even from the speech of the most ignorant, I can learn; but my esteem and confidence will only be conquered by the worthy one. “If this earthly colony wants to implant their habits and customs in our world, the scholars will repel the advices that seem harmful and shall follow those that seem advanced and in which they cannot detect falsehood or lie but, on the contrary, recognize in them the sincere love for the good.

Would we proceed differently if a colony of Selenites happened to come to Earth? Then! What is presented here as a hypothesis is a reality with respect to the spirits that although don’t show up in flesh and blood they are not less present because of that, in an occult way, transmitting their thoughts to us through their interpreters, which are the mediums.

When we have learned to get to know them we will judge them by their language, by their principles. Their contradictions will no longer have anything that surprises us as we will see that some know what others ignore; that some are placed much below or are still too materialized to understand and appreciate things of a more elevated order. Such is the man that at the foot of the mountain cannot see more than a few steps ahead of him while the one who is at the summit can see a boundless horizon.

The first cause of contradictions is thus the degree of intellectual and moral development of the spirits but there are others about which it is useless to draw the attention.

It should be said that one has to consider the question of the inferior spirits, since it is understandable that they can make mistakes out of ignorance. How to admit that the superior spirits may be in disagreement? How can they employ a language in one place and a different one in another place? That the same spirit, finally, is not always coherent with himself?

The answer to that question rests on the complete knowledge of the Spiritist Science and this Science cannot be taught in a few words because it is as vast as all philosophical Sciences. As all other branches of human knowledge it is only possible to acquire it by the study and observation. We cannot repeat here everything we have published with that regard; we refer the reader to that material, limiting ourselves to a simple summary. Every difficulty disappears to the one who casts an investigative eye over this question, without preventions.

Facts demonstrate that the deceiving spirits have no scruples in adopting respectable names, aiming at better enforcing their nastiness, fact that also happens among us. By the fact that a spirit presents any name it does not follow that he is really the one he declares to be. There is in the language of the serious spirit, however, a touch of distinction that could not go unnoticed. He only breathes goodness and benevolence and never denies himself. The language of the imposter spirits, on the contrary and despite the varnish that it shows, hurts the ears, as they say. It is not surprising then that under the disguise of certain names, the inferior spirits teach crazy things. It is up to the observer to know the truth, what is not difficult as long as he wishes to deeply study what we have said in the “Practical Instruction” (Mediums’ Book).

Those spirits flatter the taste and inclination of people whose character they know is weak and credulous enough to pay attention to them. These people become echoes of their prejudice and even of their superstitious ideas. This is due to a very simple reason: the spirits are attracted by their sympathy to the spirits of people who evoke them and listen to them with pleasure.

As for the serious spirits, according to the person they communicate with, they can also use a different language, but with a different objective. Whenever they judge convenient and to better elucidate, they express in accordance with the time, place and people, avoiding sudden confrontation with entrenched ideas. “That is why”, they say, “we do not speak to a Chinese or to a Muslim as we do to a Christian or a civilized man, because we would not be heard. Sometimes we may seem to agree with the way people see things so as to gradually lead them to the desired teaching, whenever possible and without affecting the essential truth”.

Isn’t that evident that if a spirit wanted to lead a fanatic Muslim to practice the sublime teaching of the Gospel by saying: “so whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them...” it would have been rejected had it been said to have come from Jesus? Well, what is preferable: to leave the Muslim in his fanatism or make him good, inducing him momentarily to think that it had come from Allah? This is a problem whose solution we will leave to the reader. As for us, it seems that making him kinder and more human he will be less fanatic and more accessible to the idea of a new belief instead of imposing it by force. There are truths that in order to be accepted cannot be carelessly thrown on people’s faces.

How many bad things would men have avoided had they always behaved like that?

As seen, the spirits are very careful regarding the way they speak. In such a case, however, the divergence is apparent rather than real. It leads man to the good; it destroys selfishness, pride, hatred, envy, and jealousy, teaching them the practice of true Christian charity that is essential to them. The rest will come with time. They preach by example as much as by speech, since they are truly good and superior spirits. They breathe kindness and benevolence. Irritation, violence, bitterness, harsh words, or even when the spirits say good things are never a sign of true superiority. The really superior spirits are never upset or affected. If they are not heard they just leave. That is all.

There are still two causes of apparent contradiction that should not be left blank. As we already said on many occasions, the inferior spirits tell us what we want to hear, without any compromise with the truth. The superior spirits go quiet or refuse to answer whenever we ask something indiscreet or about something that they do not have permission to explain. “In such a case”, they told us, “you should never insist because the frivolous spirits will respond and trick you; you may think that it was us and you will even admit that we are in contradiction. The serious spirits are never in contradiction. Their language is always the same with the same people. If some of them say contradictory things taking a common name, be certain that it is not the same spirit that speaks or, at least, that is not a good spirit. You shall recognize the good one by the principles that he teaches; hence every spirit that does not teach the good is not a good spirit. You should reject him.” Wishing to say the same thing in two different places the same spirit will not literally use the same words. Thought is everything to him. Unfortunately man is fonder of format than meaning. It is the format that he always interprets according to his ideas and passions and that interpretation may give rise to apparent contradictions that also originate from the insufficiency of human language to express super human things. Let us study in depth, let us investigate the intimate thought and we will see that many times there is analogy where a superficial exam led us to see nonsense.

The causes of contraction in the spirits’ language may thus be summarized as:

  1. The degree of ignorance or wisdom of the spirits with whom we communicate;

  2. The trickery of the inferior spirits who, by malice, ignorance or malevolence, on taking a borrowed name, may say things in contradiction to others that were said somewhere else by the spirit whose name they stole;

  3. The personal failures of the medium who can influence the communications and alter or distort the thought of the spirits;

  4. The insistence on obtaining an answer to something that the spirit refuses to say and that is answered by an inferior spirit;

  5. The own will of the spirit who speaks in accordance with the moment, place and persons and may judge convenient not to say everything to everybody;

  6. Insufficiency of human language to express things of the incorporeal world;
  7. The interpretation that each one may give to a word or to an explanation, according to their own ideas, prejudices or the point of view that was used to analyze the issue. There are many difficulties that can only be overcome by a long and persistent study. Also, we have never said that the Spiritist Science is easy. The serious observer that investigates everything with maturity, patience and perseverance, learns a number of delicate nuances that escapes the superficial observer. It is through these subtle details that he initiates into this Science. Experience teaches us how to get to know the spirits, as it teaches us how to get to know men. We have just analyzed the contradictions from a generic point of view. In other articles we shall analyze specific and more important points.

* The reader will recognize that our criticism only addresses the exaggeration in all things. There is always a good side in everything; the error is in the exclusivism that the wise man will know how to avoid. We don’t have the intention of confusing the true scholars, of whom humanity is honored in fairness, but those who exploit the ideas without discernment. These are the ones we want to talk about. Our objective is uniquely to demonstrate that the official Science is not exempt of contradictions.

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