Allan Kardec

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Self-interested Mediums

304. As everything can become a subject for mak ing capital, it is not astonishing that persons should wish to make capital out of the spirits ; it remains to be seen how they will take the thing, if such a specu lation should be introduced. We will say, first, that nothing lends greater aid to charlatanism and jug glery than such doings. If we see false somnambu lists, still oftener do we see false mediums ; and this reason alone should induce distrust. Disinterested ness, on the contrary, is the most peremptory answer to those who see nothing in the facts but a skillful maneuver. There is no disinterested charlatanism. What motive could persons have for using deception without profit ? still more, when their proved honor places them above suspicion. ?
If the gain a medium may draw from his faculty may be an object of suspicion, this would not be a proof that the suspicion is well founded ; he might have a real aptitude, and act in perfect sincerity, while making it pay : let us see if, in this case, we can rea sonably expect a satisfactory result.

305. If all that we have said of the conditions neces sary to serve as interpreter to good spirits ; of the num beiless causes that may repel them ; of the circum stances, independent of their will, which are often an obstacle to their coming ; of all the moral conditions that may exercise an influence over the communica tions, —if all this has been thoroughly comprehended, how can it be supposed that a spirit, however little elevated, can be, at all hours of the day, at the orders of a director of stances, and subject to his require ments to satisfy the curiosity of the first comer ?

We know the aversion of the spirits for everything that savors of cupidity and egotism, the few cases in which they help in material things ; and yet they are expected to assist in making money by their presence! The very thought is repugnant, and one must know very little of the spirit world to believe that this may be. But, as trifling spirits are less scrupulous, and only seek occasion to amuse themselves at our ex pense, it results that if persons are not mystified by a false medium, there is every chance of their being so by such spirits. These reflections alone will show the measure of the degree of confidence that should be given to communications of this kind. For the rest, why employ paid mediums, when now, if a person has not the faculty himself, he can surely find it in his family or among his friends and acquaintances ?

306. Interested mediums are not the only ones who may exact a fixed payment ; self-interest is not always seen in the hope of a material gain, but also in ambi tious views of every kind on which personal hopes may be founded ; that again is a trait on which mock ing spirits know very well how to seize, and how to profit by, with an address and skill truly remarkable, — rocking to sleep by deceitful illusions those who place themselves under their control. To recapitulate : mediumship is a faculty given for good, and good spirits withdraw from every one who would make it a step ping-stone for aught that does not answer to the views of Providence. Egotism is the sore spot in the social system ; the good spirits combat it, and it cannot be supposed that they come to serve it. This is so ra tional that it would be useless to insist further on this point.

307. Mediums for physical effects are not in the same category ; these effects are usually produced by less scrupulous, inferior spirits. We do not say that these spirits may necessarily be bad : one can be a porter and a very honest man ; a medium of this cat egory, who would make money of his faculty, might have one who would help him without repugnance ; but here again is another danger. The medium for physical effects has received his faculty no more for his pleasure than has the medium for intelligent com munications : it has been given to him on condition that he make a good use of it ; and if he abuse it, it will be withdrawn or turned to his detriment, for, per emptorily, the inferior are under the control of the superior spirits.

The inferior spirits like well to mystify, but they do not like to be mystified ; if they lend themselves will ingly to jesting, to things for curiosity, because they like amusement, they no more than others like to be used for money-making or selfish views ; and they prove at every instant that they have their will ; that they act when and how seems good to them, so that the medi um for physical effects is still less sure of the regularity of the manifestations than the writing medium. To pretend to produce them at fixed days and hours would be a proof of the most profound ignorance. What, then, will be done to earn his money ? Simulate the phenomena : this is what happens not only with those who make it a regular business, but even with persons apparently simple, who find this easier and more agreeable than to work. If the spirit does not give, they supply it : imagination is so fertile when money is in question ! Self-interest being a legitimate motive of suspicion, it gives the right for rigorous examina tion, and none can be offended by it without justifying suspicions. But as far as suspicion is legitimate in such case, just so far is it offensive toward honorable and disinterested persons.

308. The medianimic faculty, even restricted to the limit of physical manifestations, has not been given to make a parade on the platform, and whoever pretends to have at his orders spirits, to exhibit in public, may justly be suspected of charlatanism or jugglery more or less skillful. Let this be held for truth, every time an announcement of pretended seances of Spiritism or Spiritualism is made, wherever the place ; and let every one remember the right he purchases with his entrance.
From all that precedes we conclude that the most absolute disinterestedness is the best guarantee against charlatanism ; if it does not always insure the good ness of intelligent communications, it takes from bad spirits a powerful means of action, and silences de tractors.

309. There remains what may be called amateur jugglery ; that is, innocent frauds of mischievous jest ers. They may doubtless practice it, by way of pas time, in trifling and frivolous circles, but not in serious assemblies, where only serious persons are admitted. A person may please himself by a momentary mystification, but he must be endowed with singular pa tience to play this part for months and years, and each time for several consecutive hours. Interest of some kind can alone give this perseverance ; and this interest, we repeat, makes everything suspicious.

310. It will, perhaps, be said, that a medium who gives his time to the public, in the interest of the thing, cannot give it for nothing ; for he must live. But is it in the interest of the thing, or in his own, that he gives it ? and is it not rather because he sees in it a lucrative business ? You can always find de voted people at that price. Has he no other industry at his disposal ? Let us not forget that spirits, what ever may be their superiority or inferiority, are the souls of the dead ; and when morality and religion make it a duty to respect their remains, the obligation is still greater to respect their spirits.

What would be said of one who should take a corpse from the tomb to exhibit it for money, because there might be something about it to arouse curiosity ?

Is it less disrespectful to exhibit the spirit than the body, under the pretext that it is curious to see a spirit act ? It is also to be remarked that the price of seats is according to the wonders they can perform, and the attraction of the spectacle. Surely, during his life, had he been a comedian, he could hardly have supposed that, after his death, he would find a manager who would make him play comedy gratis for said manager's own profit.
It must not be forgotten that physical as well as in telligent manifestations are permitted by God only for our instruction.

311. These moral considerations aside, we will not aver that there cannot be interested mediums, honorable and conscientious, because there are honest men in all trades ; we speak only of the abuse : but it will be readily agreed that there is more reason for the abuse in paid mediums, than with those who, regard ing their faculty as a favor, employ it only to render a service.
The degree of confidence or mistrust that may be given to a paid medium depends entirely upon the esteem his character and morality may command, in dependent of circumstances. The medium who, with an eminently serious and profitable aim, would be pre vented from utilizing his time in any other way, and for that reason exonerated, must not be confounded with the speculating medium, him who, from premedLtated design, would make a trade of his mediumship. According to the motive and the end, the spirits could condemn, absolve, or even favor ; they judge the in tention rather than the material fact.

312. Somnambulists who utilize their faculty in a lucrative manner are not in the same case. Though this may be subject to abuse, and disinterestedness be a greater guarantee of sincerity, the position is differ ent, as it is their own spirit that acts ; it is, conse quently, always at their disposal, and, in reality, they simply make money of themselves, because they are free to dispose of their person as they understand it, while speculating mediums use the souls of the dead. (See No. 172, Somnambulistic Mediums.)

313. We are fully aware that our severity in respect to interested mediums will arouse against us all those who make money, or may be tempted to make money, by this new trade ; and we shall make bitter enemies of them, as well as of their friends, who will naturally take up their cause ; we console ourselves that the merchants whom Jesus drove from the temple could not have regarded him with a favorable eye. We have also against us those who do not see the thing with the same gravity ; yet we believe we have a right to our opinion and to express it : we force no one to adopt it. If an immense majority agree with us, it is, apparently, because they find it just ; for we see not, indeed, how it can be proved that there are not more good chances for frauds and abuses in speculation than in disinterestedness. As to ourselves, if our writings have tended to cast discredit on interested mediumship in France and in other countries, we believe it will not be one of the least services they will have ren dered to serious Spiritism.

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