Allan Kardec

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Chapter XXVII

Of Contradictions.

297. The adversaries of Spiritism do not fail to ob ject that its believers do not agree among themselves ; that all do not partake the same beliefs ; in fact, that they contradict each other. If, they say, the teach ings are given to you by the spirits, how is it that they are not identical ? Nothing but a serious and profound study of the science can reduce this argument to its just value.
Let us hasten to say, first, that these contradictions, of which some persons make great account, are in gen eral more apparent than real ; that they more often pertain to the superficies than to the depth of the thing, and, consequently, are unimportant. The con tradictions proceed from two sources, men and spirits.
298. The contradictions of human origin have been sufficiently explained in the chapter on Systems, No. 36, to which we refer our readers. Every one will un derstand that, in the beginning, when the observations were still incomplete, divergent, opinions arose on the causes and the consequences of the spirit phenomena, three quarters of which opinions have fajlen before a more serious and searching study. With very few exceptions, and aside from those persons who do not easily give up ideas they have embraced, or to which they have given birth, it may be said that, at present, there is unity among the immense majority of spiritists, at least as to general principles, if not in insignificant details.
299. In order to comprehend the cause and the value of the contradictions of spirit origin, one must become identified with the nature of the invisible world, and have studied it under every aspect. At first sight, it may seem astonishing that the spirits do not all think the same ; but that cannot surprise any one who will consider the infinite number of degrees that must be passed through before attaining the height of the scale. To suppose them to have ah equal appreciation of things would be to suppose them all at the same level ; to think they should all see cor rectly would be to admit that they have all reached perfection, which is not and cannot be, if it be remem bered that they are but human beings stripped of the corporeal envelope. Spirits of every rank being able to manifest themselves, the result is, that their com munications bear the seal of their ignorance or their knowledge, of their moral inferiority or superiority. The instructions we have given are to enable the true to be distinguished from the false, the good from the bad.
It must not be forgotten that among spirits, as among men, there are false and half-learned scientists, haughty and presumptuous spirits, and systematists. As it is given only to the perfected spirits to know everything, there are for others, as well as for us, mys teries which Jhey explain in their own way, according to their ideas, and on which they may have opinions more or less correct, which from self-love they desire to have prevail, and which they like to put forth in their communications. The wrong is, that some of their interpreters have too lightly embraced opinions contrary to good sense, and of which the authors should be made responsible. Thus, the contradic tions of spirit origin have no cause but the diversity of intelligence, knowledge, judgment, and morality of spirits who are, as yet, unfitted to know everything, or . to comprehend everything. (See Book on Spirits. Introduction, § XIII. ; Conclusion, § IX.)
300. Some persons will say, Of what use are the teachings of the spirits if they offer to us no greater certainty than human teachings ? The answer is easy : We do not accept the teachings of all men with equal confidence, and between two doctrines we give the preference to that whose author seems to us most en lightened, most capable, most judicious, least accessible . to passion ; we must act the same with the spirits.
If in the number there are some who are not above humanity, there are many who are far beyond it ; and these could give us instructions, we should seek in vain among the most learned men. We must dis tinguish them from the rabble of inferior spirits, and a profound knowledge of Spiritism will certainly lead us to this distinction.
But even these instructions are limited, and if it is not given to spirits to know everything, for still greater reason should it be the same with men. Thus, there are things on which they are questioned in vain, either that it is forbidden to reveal them, or because they are themselves ignorant of them, and could give us only their personal opinion ; but these very personal opin ions are what vain spirits give as absolute truths. It is especially on what should remain hidden, as the future, and the principle of things, that they insist the most, in order to appear to be in the secrets of God ; so it is on these points there are the most contradic tions. (See the preceding chapter.)
301. The following answers were given by spirits to questions relative to contradictions : —
1. "Can the same spirit, communicating to two dif ferent circles, transmit to them contradictory answers on the same subject ? "
" If the two circles differ in opinions and thoughts, the answer might reach them travestied, because they are under the influence of different columns of spirits : it is not the answer that is contradictory ; it is the manner in which it is rendered."
2. " We understand that an answer might be altered ; but when the qualities of the medium exclude all idea of bad influence, how does it happen that superior spirits hold a different and contradictory language on the same subject with persons perfectly serious? "
" The really superior spirits never contradict them selves, and their language is always the same with the same persons. It may be different according to the persons and places ; but it is necessary to pay atten tion to this —the contradiction is often only apparent ; more in the words than in the thought ; for on reflec tion it will be found that the fundamental idea is the same. Then the same spirit may answer differently on the same question, according to the degree of per fection of those who invoke him, for it is not always good that all should have the same answer, while they are not as advanced. It is exactly as if a child and a ' savant ' should ask you the same question ; surely you would answer to each in such a way as to be compre hended, and to satisfy them ; the answer, though differ ent, would always have the same groundwork."
3. " From what motive do serious spirits seem to agree with ideas and prejudices of some persons, while in others they assail the same ? "
" It is necessary that we make ourselves understood. If a person has a very confirmed conviction on a doc trine even false, we must turn him from this convic tion, but little by little ; for this reason we often use his terms, and appear to partake of his ideas, in order that he may not be suddenly disconcerted, and cease to allow us to instruct him. Besides, it is not good to shock prejudices too abruptly ; it might be the means of not being listened to : for this reason the spirits often speak in the sense of the opinion of those who hear them, in order to lead them little by little to the truth. They appropriate the language of the persons, as you would do yourself, were you a somewhat skillful orator ; thus they would not speak to a Chinese or to a Mohammedan, as they would to a Frenchman or to a Christian, for they would be sure to be repulsed.
" You must not take as a contradiction what is often but a skillful elaboration of the .truth. All spirits have their tasks marked out by God ; they accomplish them in the conditions He judges right for the good of those who receive their communications."
4. " Even apparent contradictions might engender doubts in the spirit of some persons ; by what means can we know the truth ? "
" To discern errors from truth, the answers must be examined thoroughly, and meditated long and serious ly ; it is an entire study. Time is necessary for this, as for all other studies.
" Study, .compare, examine thoroughly ; we tell you this constantly ; knowledge of the truth is at this price. How do you expect to reach the truth when you interpret everything after your own narrow ideas, which you take for great ones ? But the day is not far dis tant when the teachings of the spirits will be every where uniform in the details, as in the fundamentals. Their mission is to destroy error, but that can come only by degrees."
5. "There are persons who have neither time nor capacity for a serious and thorough study, and who accept what is taught them without examination. Is there no danger that they may thus give credence to error ? "
" Let them practice good and do no evil ; that is the essential thing ; for that there are not two doctrines. Good is always good, whether it be done in the name of Allah or Jehovah, for there is only one God for the universe."
6. " How can spirits, who appear to be developed in intelligence, have ideas evidently false on certain things ? "
" They have their doctrine. Those who are not suf ficiently advanced, but who think they are, take their own ideas of the truth. It is the same among you."
7. " What are we to think of that doctrine which says that only one spirit can communicate, and that one is God or Jesus ? "
" The spirit who teaches that is one who desires to govern ; for that reason he wants to have it believed that he is alone; but the wretch who dare take the name of God will bitterly expiate his pride. As to these doctrines, they refute themselves, because they are in contradiction to the most proved facts ; they do not deserve serious examination, for they have no root.
" Reason tells you that good proceeds from a good source, and bad from an evil one : why should you de sire a good tree to bring forth evil fruit ? Did you ever gather grapes from an apple tree ? The diversity of the communications is the most patent proof of the diversity of their origin.
" Besides, the spirits who pretend that they alone communicate forget to say why the others cannot. Their pretension is the negation of the most beauti ful and consoling facts of Spiritism —the relations of the visible and invisible worlds, of mankind with the beings dear to them, and who would otherwise be lost to them without return. These relations identify man with his future, and detach him from the material world ; suppress them, he .is again plunged into the doubt that makes his torment — given food for his egotism.
" In examining with care the doctrines of these spir its, we see, at every step, unjustifiable contradictions, the traces of their ignorance of the most evident thing, and, consequently, the certain signs of their in feriority. Spirit of Truth."
8. " Of all the contradictions we observe in the com munications of spirits, one of the most striking is that relating to re-incarnation. If re-incarnation is a neces sity of spirit life, how is it that all the spirits do not teach it ? "
" Do you not know that there are spirits whose ideas are limited to the present, as among many men of the earth ? They believe that what is for them must last forever ; they do not see beyond the circle of their perceptions, and trouble themselves neither about whence they come, nor whither they go ; and yet they must undergo the law of necessity. Re-incarnation is, for them, a law of necessity, of which they will not think until it comes ; they know that the spirit progresses, but how is for them a problem. Then, if you ask it of them, they will talk to you of the seven heavens, one above the other, like stagings : there are some, even, who will talk of the sphere of fire, the sphere of stars, then the city of flowers, and the city of the chosen."
9. "We can easily imagine that spirits but little advanced would not comprehend this question ; but then, how is it that spirits of a notoriously moral and intellectual inferiority speak spontaneously of their different existences, and of their desire to be re-incar nated, to make amends for their past? "
" There are many things occurring in the world of spirits difficult for you to comprehend. Have you not among you persons very ignorant on some things, and enlightened on others ; persons who have more judg ment than instruction, and others who have more instruction than judgment ? Do you not know, also, that some spirits are pleased to keep men in ignorance, while pretending to instruct them, profiting by the ease with which their words gain credit ? They may seduce those who do not go to the bottom of things, but when they are pressed to extremity by reasonings, they cannot long sustain their role.
" Notice, especially, the prudence with which the spirits in general promulgate the truth ; a too vivid and too sudden light dazzles without illuminating. They might, in certain cases, consider it useful to spread it only gradually, according to the times, the places, and the persons. Moses did not teach all that the Christ taught, and the Christ himself said many things the understanding of which was reserved for future gen erations. You speak of reincarnation, and are aston ished that this principle has not been taught in certain countries ; but remember, that in a country where the prejudice of color reigns supreme, where slavery is rooted in the manners, they would have rejected Spiritism, if only for that it proclaimed re-incarnation, for the idea that he who is master may become a slave, and the reverse, would have appeared monstrous. Was it not better that the general principle should be first accepted, safe, later, to bring its consequences ? O, mankind ! how short-sighted to judge the designs of God ! Know that nothing can be done without His permission, and without a motive which, very often, you cannot penetrate.
" I have told you that unity would come in the spirit belief ; take it as a certainty that it will come, and that the disagreements, already deeply-seated, will be effaced, little by little, as men are enlightened, and will disappear completely ; for such is the will of God, against which error cannot prevail. " Spirit of Truth."
10. " Will not the erroneous doctrines that some spirits teach have the effect of retarding the progress of true science ? "
" You would have everything without trouble : under stand that there is no field where weeds will not grow for the laborer to root out. These erroneous doc trines are a consequence of the inferiority of your world ; if men were perfect, they would accept only the true ; errors are like false stones, which an experi enced e_ye alone can distinguish ; you need an appren ticeship to distinguish the true from the false : well, these false doctrines are useful in exercising you to distinguish truth from error."
—"Are not those who adopt the error retarded in their progress ? "
" If they adopt error, it is because they are not sufficiently advanced to comprehend truth."
302. " While awaiting the coming of unity, each person believes he himself has the truth, and main tains that he alone is in the true; an illusion that does not fail to call to him deceiving spirits : on what can an impartial and disinterested man base his judgment ?"
" The purest light is obscured by no cloud ; the diamond without flaw is most valuable : judge, then, the spirits by the purity of their teachings. Unity will come from that side where good has never been mingled with bad ; to that side man will rally by the law of events, for they will judge that there is the truth. Remark, besides, that the fundamental princi ples are everywhere the same, and should unite you in a common thought —the love of God and the practice of good. Whatever may be the mode of progression supposed for souls, the final end is the same, and the means of attaining it is also the same —do good ; and there are not two methods of doing it.
" Should there arise capital differences as to the principle, even, of doctrine, you have a certain rule for valuing them — the following : The best doctrine is that which best satisfies the heart and the reason, and which contains the most elements to lead men to good ; it is, I assure you, the one that will prevail. " Spirit of Truth."
Remark. The contradictions that present them selves in spirit communications may arise from the following causes : the ignorance of some spirits ; the deceptions of the inferior spirits, who, either from malice or mischief, say the very contrary from what the spirit whose name they have usurped has already said elsewhere : the will of the spirit, who talks accord ing to the times, the places, and persons, and consid ers it useful not to say everything to everybody ; the insufficiency of human language to express the things of the incorporeal world ; the insufficiency of the means of communication which do not always permit the spirit to render his whole thought; finally, to the in terpretation each one may give of a word or an expla nation, according to his ideas, his prejudices, or the point of view from which he sees the thing. Study, observation, experience, and the abnegation of all sentiment of self-love, alone can teach us to distinguish these different shades.

Of Mystifications.

303. If it be disagreeable to be deceived, it is still more so to be mystified ; and it is one of the dangers . from which it is easiest to be preserved. The means of unmasking the tricks of deceiving spirits are shown by all the preceding instructions ; for that reason we say but little. We give the answers of spirits on the subject: —
1. " Mystifications are among the greatest disagreea bles in the practice of Spiritism : is there any way to be preserved from them?"
" It seems to me you can find the answer in all you have been taught. Yes, certainly, there is a very simple means ; it is, not to ask of Spiritism more than it can or ought to give you ; its end is the moral amelioration of humanity ; so long as you depart not from that, you will never be deceived, because there are not two methods of comprehending true morality, which every man of good sense will admit.
" The spirits come to instruct and guide you into the way of good, and not into that of honors and fortune, or to serve your mean passions. If nothing trifling is ever asked of them, or nothing beyond their attributes, no foothold is given to deceiving spirits ; from whence you may conclude, that he who is mystified has only what he deserves.
" The role of the spirits is not to teach you about the things of this world, but to guide you surely in what may be useful to you in the other. When they talk to you of things here below, it is because they judge it to be necessary, but not on your asking. If you look upon spirits only as supplying the place of diviners or sorcerers, you will surely be deceived.
" If men had but to ask the spirits in order to know everything, they would no longer have their free-will, and would turn aside from the path marked out by God for humanity. Man should act for himself ; God does not send the spirits to smooth the road of material life, but to prepare that of the future."
" But there are persons who ask nothing, and who are unworthily deceived by spirits who come sponta neously, without being called."
" If they ask nothing, they allow themselves to tell what happens to them all the same. If they meet with reserve and distrust all that is not the essential object of Spiritism, trifling spirits will not so easily take them for dupes."
2. " Why does God permit sincere persons, those who accept Spiritism sincerely, to be mystified ? May not that shake their belief?"
" If it shake their belief, it must be because their faith is not very solid : those who renounce Spiritism from a simple disappointment would prove that they do not understand it, and do not belong to the serious party. God permits mystifications to test the perse verance of true believers, and to puniuh those who make it an object of amusement. "Spirit of Truth."
Remark. The turnings and doublings of the mysti fying spirits sometimes surpass anything that can be imagined ; the art with which they draw up their batteries and arrange their means of persuading would be a curiosity, were it always only for innocent pleasan tries ; but these mystifications may have disagreeable consequences for those who are not on their guard : we are happy that we have been able, in time, to open the eyes of some persons who have asked our advice, and to have spared them from ridiculous and compro mising actions. Among the means these spirits em ploy, we must place in the front rank, as being most frequent, those which have for their aim to tempt cupidity, such as the revelation of pretended hidden treasures, the announcement of inheritances, or other sources of fortune.
At first sight we ought especially to suspect all pre dictions for a fixed time, as well as all precise indica tions touching material interests ; to beware of every step prescribed or advised by spirits when the motive is not eminently rational ; never to allow ourselves to be dazzled by the names they take to give an appear ance of truth to their words ; to mistrust bold scientific theories and systems ; anything, in short, foreign to the true moral end of the manifestations. We could fill a volume with the history of all the strange mysti fications that have come to our knowledge.

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