CONTRADICTIONS AND MYSTIFICATIONS.
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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.
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
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.