A Priest — Would you kindly permit me to ask you a few
questions on my part?
Allan Kardec. — Gladly. But before answering you, I think
I should let you know how I intend to discuss matters with you.
First, I must say that I have no intention whatsoever of
converting you to our ideas. If you want to know about them in
detail, you will find them in the books where they have already
been explained. You can study them at your leisure and feel free to
accept or reject them.
The goal of Spiritism is to combat disbelief and its disastrous
consequences while providing obvious proofs for the existence of
the soul and future life. It thus speaks to those who believe in
nothing at all or those who doubt; and their numbers are large, as
you know. Those who have religious faith, and for whom such faith
is sufficient, do not need Spiritism. To those who say, "I believe in
the authority of the Church and I shall hold to what it teaches,
without looking further," Spiritism replies that it does not impose
itself on anyone and has not come to force any conviction.
Freedom of conscience is one consequence of freedom
of thought, which is one of the attributes of human beings;
Spiritism would be in conflict with its own principles of charity
and tolerance if it did not respect this freedom. For Spiritism,
every belief, if it is sincere and does not lead people to do wrong
to their neighbor, is respectable, even if erroneous. For example,
if people were to find their consciences telling them to believe
that it is the sun that orbits around the earth, we would say to
them: Believe it if you like, because it will not keep the earth from
orbiting the sun. Just as we do not try to violate your conscience,
do not try to violate other people's consciences. If you make an
innocuous belief into an instrument of persecution, it becomes
harmful and should be opposed.
That, Reverend, is the line of conduct I have followed with
the clergy of several denominations who have addressed me. When
they question me about certain points of the Doctrine, I provide
them with the explanations they need, but I avoid arguing about
certain dogmas that Spiritism is not concerned with; thus, they
are all free to make their own evaluations. However, I have never
sought them out with the desire to undermine their faith through
any kind of pressure. Those who come to us as brothers, we
welcome as brothers; those who reject us, we leave in peace. This is
the advice I always give to Spiritists because I have never approved
of those who believe it their mission to convert the clergy. I always
tell them: Sow in the field of the disbelievers because there is an
ample harvest to gather.
Spiritism does not impose itself because, as I have said, it
respects freedom of conscience. Moreover, it understands that
any imposed belief is superficial and gives only the appearances
of faith, but it is not real faith. It lays out its principles in front of
everyone so that all may form an opinion with full knowledge of
the facts. Those who accept its principles, whether they are clergy
or laity, do so freely because they find them to be rational. But we
in no way trouble ourselves with those who are not of our opinion.
If there is a struggle between the Church, and Spiritism nowadays,
we know that we are not the ones who caused it.
Priest — If the Church sees the rise of a new doctrine and
believes its principles condemnable according to the Church's conscience, do you question its right to discuss them and fight
them, and to caution the faithful against what it regards as error?
A.K. - In no way do we question a right that we ourselves
claim. If the Church would confine itself to the limits of the
discussion, there would be nothing to be concerned about. But
read most of the writings issued by its members or published in
the name of religion, in addition to the sermons that have been
preached, and you will see offense and slander bursting forth far
and wide, and the principles of the Doctrine undeservedly and
maliciously misrepresented. Haven't we heard from atop the pulpit
that its adherents are enemies of society and the public order? That
those whom it has brought back to the faith are to be anathematized
and rejected, by the Church because it is better to be a disbeliever
than to believe in God and the soul through Spiritism? Hasn't it
been lamented that there are no Inquisition-type burnings-at-the-
stake for Spiritists? In certain locations, haven't they singled them
out for the reprehension of their fellow citizens, even urging them
to pursue and insult them in the streets? Haven't they enjoined all
the faithful to flee from them like the plague, dissuading domestic
servants from going to work for them? Haven't women been
urged to leave their husbands, and husbands to leave their wives
because of Spiritism? Haven't they caused employees to lose their
jobs, depriving workers of their wages and the unfortunate of the
bread of charity because they are Spiritists? Haven't they even sent
the blind away from certain almshouses because they wouldn't
renounce their beliefs? Tell me, Reverend, is that fair treatment?
Have Spiritists answered insult with insult, wrong with wrong?
No. They have applied calm and moderation. Public awareness has
already absolved them of being the aggressors.
Priest - Any sane person would deplore such excesses, but
the Church shouldn't be held responsible for the abuses committed
by some of its less informed members.
A. K. - I agree, but aren't these less informed members the
leaders of the Church? Look at the pastoral letter of the Bishop
of Algiers and a few others. Wasn't it a bishop who ordered the
book-burning in Barcelona? Don't the higher level ecclesiastical
authorities have all the power over their subordinates? If the
Church thus tolerates sermons unworthy of the evangelical pulpit,
if it favors the publication of offensive and defamatory writings
against a class of citizens, and if it does not oppose persecutions
practiced in the name of religion, it is because it approves of them.
In sum, by systematically turning away Spiritists who return
to it, the Church has forced them to withdraw unto themselves. By
the nature and violence of its attacks, it has widened the discussion
and taken it to new ground. Spiritism, is merely a philosophical
doctrine; it is the Church itself that has caused it to grow by
presenting it as a dreaded enemy. Lastly, it is the Church itself that
has proclaimed it a new religion. That was a blunder, but passion
does not reason.
A Free Thinker — You have proclaimed freedom of thought
and conscience and have declared that every sincere belief is
respectable. Materialism is a belief like any other; why shouldn't it
enjoy the freedom, you grant to all the others?
A.K. — Everyone is certainly free to believe as they please or to
believe in nothing at all, and we would no more excuse persecution
against those who believe in nothingness after death than against a
schismatic from any religion. In combating materialism, we attack
not individuals, but a doctrine, which, if harmless to society when
confined to the conscience of educated people, turns into a social
calamity if it becomes widespread.
The belief that everything ends for human beings at death,
that all solidarity ceases when physical life ceases, leads us to
regard sacrificing our present welfare on behalf of someone else
as pure nonsense; hence the maxim: "Every man for himself
because there is nothing after this life." In other words, charity,
fraternity and morality have no basis, no reason for being.
Why inconvenience, restrain and deprive ourselves today, when
tomorrow, perhaps, we will be no more? The denial of the
future and the mere doubt about the future life are the greatest
stimulants of selfishness, the source of most of humankind's ills.
A great deal of virtue is needed to keep us from falling into vice
and crime, with no restraint other than our will-power. Human
respect might restrain men and women of the world, but not
those for whom the fear of public opinion is nil.
Belief in the future life, demonstrating the continuation of
relationships between individuals, establishes a solidarity that does
not stop at the grave; thus, it changes the course of ideas. If this
belief were nothing but a "man of straw," it would be temporary;
but since its reality is a fact derived from experience, then, in the
interest of the social order, it is an obligation to spread it and strive
against the opposite belief. This is what Spiritism does, and it
does so with success because it provides proof, and because people
would surely prefer the certainty of the continuation of life and
of being able to live happily on a better world as compensation
for the miseries of this one, as opposed to believing in being
dead forever. The thought of being erased from existence forever,
of believing that their children and those dear to them are lost
with no possibility of coming back, puts a smile on a very small
number of faces, believe me. That is why attacks against Spiritism
in the name of disbelief have had such, little success and have not
weakened it for an instant.
Priest — Religion teaches all of that, and until now it has
been sufficient. Why is there a need for anew doctrine?
A.K. - If religion is sufficient, why are there so many
disbelievers, religiously speaking? It is true that religion teaches us
and" tells us to believe, but there are so many people who do not
believe in words alone! Spiritism proves and enables us to see what
religion teaches through theory. Moreover, where do these proofs
come from? From spirit manifestations. Well now, it is likely that
spirits manifest only with God's permission; thus, if God, out of
divine mercy, sends this aid to people to draw them out of disbelief,
it would, be impious to reject it.
Priest — But you cannot deny the fact that Spiritism is not in
agreement with religion on all points.
A.K - Goodness, Reverend! All religions say the same thing:
Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, as well as Catholicism.
If Spiritism denied the existence of God, the soul, the soul's
individuality and immortality, future rewards and punishments,
and free will; if it taught that we are on this world only for
ourselves and that we should think only of ourselves, it would
not be only contrary to Catholicism, but all the religions of the
world; it would be the negation of all moral laws, the foundations
of human society. Far from it. The Spirits proclaim a sole God
who is supremely just and good. They say that human beings
are free and are responsible for their actions, and that they are
rewarded and punished according to the good or evil they have
done. They place above all other virtues evangelical charity and
this sublime rule taught by Christ: "Do unto others as you would
have them do unto you." Aren't these the foundations of every
religion? And the Spirits have done even more: they have initiated
us into the mysteries of the future life, which for us is no longer
an abstraction but a reality. Those whom we ourselves once knew
have come back to describe their situations to us and to tell us
how and why they suffer or are happy. What is anti-religious about
that? This certainty of the future, of meeting our loved ones once
again — is that not comforting? Isn't the magnificence of the spirit
life - which is our essence — compared with the paltry anxieties of
earthly life enough to make us lift up our souls and to encourage
us toward the good?
Priest — Regarding general matters, I agree that Spiritism is
consistent with the great truths of Christianity; but does the same
apply from the dogma point of view? Doesn't it contradict certain
principles that the Church teaches us?
A.K. - Spiritism is, above all, a science and does not
concern itself with dogmatic issues at all. This science has
moral consequences as do all philosophical sciences. Are these
consequences good or bad? We can judge them by the general
principles I just mentioned. A lot of people are mistaken about the
true character of Spiritism. The matter is serious enough to merit
some further discussion.
First, let us cite a comparison: electricity, present in nature,
has existed throughout time, and throughout time it has produced
the effects that we are familiar with and many that we are not yet
familiar with. Ignorant of the true cause, people used to explain
these effects in a more or less bizarre way. The discovery of electricity
and its properties has undermined a host of absurd theories, while
shedding light on more than one of nature's mysteries. What
electricity and the physical sciences in general have done for certain
phenomena, Spiritism has done for phenomena of a different order.
Spiritism is founded on the existence of an invisible world
made up of incorporeal beings who populate space, and who are
none other than the souls of those who used to live on the earth or
on other spheres, where they left their material envelopes behind.
We call these beings spirits. They surround us continuously
exerting a great influence on people without them even being
aware of it; they play a very active role in the mental world, and up
to a point in the physical world. Spiritism is therefore contained
in nature, and we may say that, for a certain order of ideas, it is
a power, just as electricity is a power from another point of view,
and gravity from yet another. The phenomena, whose source is
the invisible world, have in fact been produced throughout time;
that is why the history of every culture mentions them. As with
electricity, only in their ignorance did people attribute these
phenomena to more or less-rational causes and give free reign to
their imaginations regarding them.
Spiritism has been studied more thoroughly since its
popularization and has shed light on a multitude of questions
formerly insolvable or misunderstood. Its true character is
therefore that of a science and not of a religion, and the proof is
that it counts among its adherents people of all faiths who have not
had to renounce their convictions because of it: devout Catholics
who do not in any way neglect all the duties of their creed - as
long as they are not rebuffed by their Church; Protestants of all
denominations, Jews, Muslims, even Buddhists and Brahmans.
Therefore, Spiritism rests on principles independent of
any dogmatic nature. Its moral consequences are those found
in Christianity because Christianity is the clearest and purest of
all doctrines. Furthermore, it is for this reason that, of all the
religious sects in the world, Christians are the most capable of
understanding Spiritism in its true essence. Can we blame it
because of this? Of course, everyone can make a religion of their
opinions and interpret known religions as they please, but from
there to establishing a new church there is a great distance.
Priest - But don't you perform evocations according to
some religious formula?
A.K. - Of course, we bring a religious sentiment to the
evocations and to our meetings, but there is no sacramental formula;
for spirits, thought is everything and form is nothing. We call them
in God's name because we believe in God and we know that nothing
is done in this world without his permission, and that if God does
not allow them to come, they will not come. We proceed with our
work calmly and thoughtfully, first because it is a necessary condition
for observations, and second because we know the respect we owe to
those who no longer live on earth, whatever their circumstances may
be, happy or unhappy, in the spirit world. We evoke good spirits
because, knowing there are good ones and evil ones, we do not want
the latter to come and interfere deceitfully in the communications
we receive. What does all this prove? That we are not atheists, but it
does not at all imply that we are religionists.
Priest - Well then! What do the high order spirits say about
religion? The good ones ought to advise and guide us. Suppose I
have no religion and I want to choose one. What would they say
if I were to ask them: Would you advise me to become a Catholic,
Protestant, Anglican, Quaker, Jew, Muslim or Mormon?
A.K. - There are two points to consider regarding religions:
the general principles common to all of them, and the principles
peculiar to each one. The former are those we have been speaking of
thus far; those that all spirits proclaim, regardless of their order. As
for the latter, average spirits, although not evil, may have preferences
and opinions; they may advocate this or that form. Thus, they may
encourage certain practices either from personal conviction, whether
from ideas retained from earthly life, or whether out of prudence so as
not to frighten timid consciences. Do you believe, for example, that an
enlightened spirit - maybe Fenelon himself- in addressing Muslims
would tell them inappropriately that Mohammed was an impostor,
and that they will be damned if they do not become Christians? He
would refrain from doing so, because he would be rejected.
In general, when not asked to address a matter specifically,
high order spirits do not concern themselves with particulars.
They limit themselves to saying: "God is good and just; God
wants only the good." The best of all religions, therefore, is that
which teaches only what conforms to God's goodness and justice;
which entails the broadest, most sublime idea about God and
does not lessen him by attributing human narrow-mindedness
and passions to him; which renders people good and virtuous and
teaches them all to love each other as brothers and sisters; which
condemns every wrong done to one's neighbor; which does not
authorize injustice under any form or pretext; which does not
prescribe anything contrary to the immutable laws of nature, for
God cannot contradict himself; whose clergy embody the best
example of goodness, charity, and morality; the one that best
pursues the struggle against selfishness and least flatters people's
pride and vanity; and lastly, in whose name the least amount of
evil is committed, for a good religion cannot be the pretext for
any evil whatsoever — it must not leave any door open to it, either
directly or by interpretation. Observe, j udge and choose.
Priest — I suppose that certain points of the Catholic doctrine
are contested by spirits you regard, as being of a high order. I
suppose that these points may actually be erroneous; according to
these same spirits, for those for whom they are articles of faith -
whether right or wrong - and who practice them accordingly, can
such a belief be harmful to their salvation?
A.K. — Certainly not, if such belief does not deter them from
doing good, and if, on the contrary, it prompts them to do so. On the
other hand, the best-founded belief will obviously barm their faith
if it gives them occasion to do evil, to be lacking in charity toward
their neighbor, and if it makes them hard and selfish, because then
they are not acting according to the law of God, and God considers
thoughts before acts. Who would dare think otherwise?
For example, regarding those who might believe
wholeheartedly in God, but in God's name commit acts that are
inhumane or contrary to charity, do you think that their faith will
do them any good? Aren't they all the more blameworthy because
their means of being enlightened are all the greater?
Priest - So devoted Catholics who scrupulously fulfill the
duties of their creed are not condemned by the Spirits?
A.K. - No, if it is a matter of conscience for them, and if
they do so with sincerity. But yes - a thousand times yes — if it is
out of hypocrisy, and if it displays only the appearance of piety.
High order spirits, those whose mission is the progress of
humankind, rise up against every abuse that might hinder such
progress, regardless of the nature of the abuse and regardless of which
individuals or social classes may profit from it. Now you cannot deny
the fact that religion has not always been exempt from this. Even if
among its clergy there are those who fulfill their mission with true
Christian devotion, who render their mission, grand, beautiful and
respectable, you will have to agree that not all have always hufilled
the sanctity of their ministry. The Spirits are opposed to evil wherever
it may be found. Is pointing out the abuses of religion the same as
attacking it? Religion has no greater enemies than those who defend
such abuses, for they are what give rise to the thought that something
better can replace it. If religion is in danger, we have to lay the blame
on those who offer a false idea of it, transforming it into a battleground
of human passions, and who exploit it to further their ambitions.
Priest — You say that Spiritism does not argue over dogma,
and yet it accepts certain points contested by the Church, such
as reincarnation and the presence of humans on the earth before
Adam. It also denies eternal punishment, the existence of demons,
purgatory, and the fires of hell.
A.K. - These points have been argued over for a long time,
and it is not only Spiritism that has questioned them; they are
merely opinions, some of which are considered controversial
even by theology and which only the future will settle. One great
principle governs them all: the practice of the good, which is the
higher law, the essential sine qua non condition for our future, as
proved by the condition of the spirits who communicate with us.
While waiting for light to be shed on these questions, believe, if
you wish, in flames and material tortures if doing so keeps you
from doing evil. But that will not render them more real if they
do not actually exist. Believe that we have only one corporeal
existence if it pleases you: that will not prevent you from being
born again here or elsewhere if that is really the way it is, and
despite what you might think. Believe that the world was fully
created in six twenty-four hour days if that is your opinion: that
will not keep the earth from bearing proof to the contrary in its
geological layers. Believe, if you wish, that Joshua stopped the sun:
that will not stop the earth in its orbit. Believe that humankind
has been on the earth for only 6,000 years: that will not keep
the facts from showing that that is impossible. And what would
you say if one fine day this inexorable geology produces obvious
evidence that demonstrates the anteriority of humankind, just as
it has demonstrated, so many other things? So believe in anything
you like, even in the Devil, if such belief enables you to be good,
humane and charitable toward your fellow beings. As a moral
doctrine, Spiritism imposes only one thing: the necessity of doing
good and not doing evil. It is a science of observation, which, I
repeat, has moral consequences, and these consequences are the
confirmation and proof of the great principles of religion. As for
the secondary questions, it leaves those to each one's conscience.
Be mindful of the fact, sir, that Spiritism does not dispute
in principle some of the different points of which you just spoke.
If you had read everything that I have written on the subject,
you would have seen that it is limited to giving such points a
more logical and rational explanation than the one commonly
given. This is why it does not deny purgatory, for example; on
the contrary, it demonstrates its necessity and justice. But it does
even more - it defines what purgatory is. Hell has been described
as an immense furnace, but is that really how scholarly theology
understands it? Obviously not; it says quite clearly that it is
merely a symbol and that the fire in which one burns is a mental
fire, a symbol of the greatest sorrows.
As for eternal punishment, if it were possible to survey
the personal opinion of all individuals in a position to reason or
understand - even among the most devout - we would see on
what side the majority is because the idea of eternal torment is a
denial of God's infinite mercy.
Moreover, let's see what the Spiritist doctrine says on the
The length of the punishment depends on the improvement
of the guilty spirit. No condemnation for a set time is pronounced
against it. What God requires of it to bring its suffering to an
end is repentance, expiation, and reparation; in other words, a
serious, effective improvement and a sincere return to the good.
The spirit is thus the arbiter of its own fate; it can prolong its
suffering by its obstinacy in evil, or it can mitigate or shorten it
through its efforts to do good.
Since the length of the punishment depends on repentance,
it follows that the guilty spirit who did not repent and never
improved itself would continue to suffer, and that for it, the
punishment would be eternal. Eternal punishment should thus be
understood in the relative and not the absolute sense.
A condition inherent to low order spirits is that they cannot
see the end of their situation and so they think that they will have to
suffer forever; for them it is a punishment. But as soon as their soul
opens up to repentance, God enables them to glimpse a ray of hope.
This doctrine obviously conforms more to God's justice
which punishes as long as we persist in evil and pardons when
we enter the path of the good. Who devised this doctrine? Was
it us? No. It was the Spirits, who teach and demonstrate it by the
examples they set before us each and every day.
Therefore, spirits do not deny future punishment - they
have described their own sufferings; and this description has more
impact on us than that of never-ending fire, because everything
about it is perfectly logical. We understand that it is possible, that
it must be so, and that such a situation is a completely natural
consequence of things; it can be accepted by the philosophical
thinker because there is nothing about it that clashes with reason.
That is why Spiritist beliefs have brought a multitude of people
back to the good - even materialists, whom the fear of hell, as it
has been depicted, had not been able to restrain.
Priest — Even if I were to accept your reasoning, don't you
think ordinary people need images that are more frightening than
a philosophy they can't understand?
A.K. — That is an error that has created more than one
materialist, or at the very least, has turned more than one person
away from religion. There conies a time when such images are no
longer frightening, and then people who do not bother to delve
into the matter more deeply after rejecting one aspect end up
rejecting the whole and say to themselves: If they have taught me
a false principle as an indisputable truth, if they have given me an
image, a symbol as being the reality, who says the rest is any more
truthful? On the contrary, if reason, as it increases, does not reject
anything, faith is strengthened thereby. Religion will always gain
by following the progress of ideas. If someday it runs into peril,
it will be because humans have advanced while it has remained
behind. It is a mistake in this day and age to believe that people
can be led by means of fear of the Devil and eternal tortures.
Priest - The Church indeed recognizes nowadays that
physical hell is just a symbol, but that does not rule out the
existence of demons; without them, how can one explain the
influence of evil, which cannot come from God?
A.K. - Spiritism does not believe in demons in the popular
sense of the word, but it does believe in evil spirits who are no better
and who do as much harm by arousing evil thoughts. Spiritism only
states that these are not separate beings, created for evil and perpetually
devoted to it as some kind of outcasts of creation and tormentors
of humankind. They are less-evolved, still-imperfect beings, but for
whom God reserves a future. That is in agreement with the Orthodox
Church, which believes in the conversion of Satan, an allusion to the
improvement of evil spirits. Note further that the word demon does
not imply the idea of evil spirits except through the modern meaning
that has been given to it, because the Greek word daimon means
genius, intelligence. Now, to admit communications from evil spirits
is to recognize in principle the reality of spirit manifestations. Next,
we must find out if only evil spirits communicate, which the Church
uses as its reason to prohibit communicating with spirits. Here we call
upon both reasoning and the facts. If spirits, whatever they may be,
communicate, it is only with God's permission: are we to understand
that God allows only the evil ones to communicate? How could
that be? If he gives them full liberty to come and deceive humans,
would he prohibit the good ones from coming as a counterweight to
neutralize their pernicious teachings? Wouldn't believing such a thing
call into question God's power and goodness and make Satan a rival
to the Divinity? The Bible, the Gospel and die Church Fathers fully
recognize the possibility of communicating with the invisible world,
and that good spirits are not excluded from that world; so why would
they be excluded nowadays? Moreover, by accepting the authenticity of
certain apparitions and communications from the saints, the Church is thus rejecting the idea that we can communicate only with evil
spirits. "When communications contain only good things; when they
preach the purest and most sublime evangelical morals, selflessness,
disinterest and love toward our neighbor; when they fight evil, no
matter in what shade it presents itself, is it really rational to believe
that malicious spirits have thereby come to perform their work?
Priest - The New Testament teaches us that the angel of
darkness, or Satan, can transform himself into an angel of light to
A.K. -According to Spiritism, and the opinion ofmany Christian
philosophers, Satan is not a real being; he is the personification ofevil, just
as Saturn used to be the personification of time. The Church takes this
allegoricalfigureliterally; it is a matter of opinion that I will not discuss.
Let us say, for a moment, that Satan is a real being; by exaggerating his
power in order to frighten people, the Church achieves a completely
different result, i.e. one of die destruction not only of all fear, but also
of all belief in his person, according to the proverb: "Those who wish
to prove too much prove nothing at all." The Church represents Satan
as eminently clever, skilful, and cunning; however, when it comes to
Spiritism, the Church makes him play die role of an inept and a fool.
Since Satan's goal is to feed hell with his victims and to steal
souls from God, we can see why he busies himself with those who
are on the path of the good to lead them into evil. And to do
so, according to a beautiful allegory, he transforms himself into
an angel of light; that is, he hypocritically feigns virtue; what is
incomprehensible, however, is why he would let those he already
has in his clutches escape. Those who believe in neither God nor
the soul, who scorn prayer and are immersed in vice, already belong
to Satan as much as is possible. He has nothing further to do to
sink them deeper in the mire; thus, to encourage them to return
to God, to pray to him, to submit to his will, and to encourage
them to renounce evil while showing them the happiness of the
elect and the sad fate that awaits the wicked would be the act of a
fool, which would be more stupid than if we were to give freedom
to caged birds with the thought of catching them again afterward.
Therefore, in the doctrine of exclusive communication with
demons, there is a contradiction that strikes all sensible people. That
is why no one could ever be persuaded that spirits who lead back to
God those who used to deny him and used to do evil; that spirits
•who console the afflicted, give strength and courage to the weak,
and who, by the sublimity of their teachings, raise the soul above
material life, are Satan's accomplices, and that on such grounds we
ought to interdict all relations with the invisible world.
Priest - If the Church forbids communications with the
spirits of the dead, it is because they are against religion, since
they are formally condemned by the Gospels and by Moses. The
latter, declaring the death penalty against such practices, proves
how reprehensible they are in God's eyes.
A.K. — I beg your pardon, but this prohibition is not found
anywhere in the Gospels; it is found only in the Mosaic Law. It is
thus a matter of knowing if the Church puts the Mosaic Law above
the law of the Gospels; or to put it another way, if the Church
is more Jewish than Christian. It is also worth noting that of all
religions, the one that opposes Spiritism the least is Judaism, and
that it has not resorted to the Mosaic Law, upon which Christian
denominations rest their opinion, to prohibit evocations. If biblical
instructions are the code of the Christian faith, why prohibit the
reading of the Bible? What would be said of forbidding a citizen
from studying the law code of his or her own country?
The reason for Moses' prohibition was that the Hebrew
lawmaker wanted his people to break with all the customs they
had acquired while among the Egyptians, and the one we are
discussing here was a subject of abuse. The dead were not evoked
out of respect and affection for them, or out of a sentiment of piety,
but as a means of fortunetelling, the object of shameful dealings
exploited by charlatanism and superstition. Moses was therefore
right to prohibit it. If he pronounced a severe punishment against
this abuse, it was because he needed harsh means to govern his
unruly people; also, the death penalty was widely used in his
lawmaking. One wrongly leans on. the severity of the punishment
in order to prove the degree of culpability in evoking the dead.
If the argument against evoking the dead comes from God
himself- as the Church claims - it must have been God who decreed
the penalty of death against offenders. The death penalty therefore
has an origin as sacred as the prohibition. So why hasn't it been
preserved? Moses promulgated all his laws in the name of God and
under God's orders. If we believe that God is their author, why are
they no longer observed? If Moses' law is for the Church an article of
faith at one point, why isn't it an article of faith at every point? Why
resort to it for what we need, but then reject it when it is unsuitable?
Why not follow all its regulations; for instance, circumcision, to
which Jesus himself submitted and did not abolish?
There were two parts to the Mosaic Law: first, the law of
God, summarized in the Sinai tablets, which has remained because
it is divine, and which Christ only developed further; second, the
civil or criminal law, appropriate for the customs of the time, and
which Christ abolished.
Today, circumstances are no longer the same, and Moses'
prohibition has no reason to be. Moreover, if the Church forbids
evoking spirits, can it prevent them from, coming without being
called? Every day, don't we see people who have never been
involved in Spiritism, and who knew nothing about it before it
was divulged, experiencing manifestations of all kinds?
Another contradiction: if Moses prohibited, evoking the
spirits of the dead, it was because such spirits could, in fact, come;
otherwise, his prohibition would have been needless. If they were
able to come in his time, they still can today. And if they are spirits
of the dead, then they are not demons exclusively. We must be
logical above all.
Priest - The Church does not deny that good spirits can
communicate, since it acknowledges that saints have manifested.
But it cannot consider as good those who come in order to
contradict its immutable principles. The Spirits teach of future
punishment and reward, but they do not teach as the Church does;
the Church alone can judge the spirits' teachings and distinguish
the good from the evil.
A.K. - That is the big question. Galileo was accused of heresy
and of being inspired by the Devil because he revealed a law of
nature that proved the error of a belief regarded as unassailable; he
was condemned and excommunicated. If the Spirits had concurred
with the Church's exclusive point of view, and if they had not
proclaimed freedom of conscience and condemned certain abuses,
they would have been welcomed by the Church and would not
have been regarded as demons.
This is also the reason why all religions — Islam as well as
Catholicism - believe themselves to be in the exclusive possession
of the absolute truth, and why they regard any doctrine that is not
completely orthodox from their point of view as the work of the
Devil. Now, the Spirits have not come to overthrow religion, but
like Galileo, to reveal new laws of nature. If some points of faith
are disputed because of this, it is because they are in conflict with
these laws, as in the case of belief in the sun's movement. The issue
is in knowing if an article of faith can annul a law of nature, which
is the work of God. And if this law is acknowledged, wouldn't it
be wiser to interpret dogma in light of it instead of attributing it
to the Devil?
Priest - Let's leave the issue of demons; I know that it
has been diversely interpreted by the theologians. The theory of
reincarnation, on the other hand, seems more difficult to reconcile
with dogma because it is nothing more than metempsychosis
taken afresh from Pythagoras.
A.K. - Now is not the time to discuss an issue that would
require a long explanation. You can find it discussed in The Spirits
Book and in The Gospel according to Spiritism. 1 will say only a few
words about it.
The metempsychosis of the ancients consisted in the
transmigration of humans' souls into animals, which would imply
degradation. Besides, this doctrine was not what is commonly
believed. Transmigration into animals was not considered a
condition inherent to the nature of the human soul, but as a
temporary punishment; thus, the souls of murderers would pass
into the bodies of savage beasts to receive their punishment
therein; those of the unchaste, into swine and wild boar; those
of the inconstant and inconsistent, into birds; those of the lazy
and ignorant, into aquatic animals. After a few thousand of years,
more or less, according to the culpability of this kind of prison, the
soul would re-enter humanity. Animal reincarnation was therefore
not an absolute condition, and we can see that it was allied with
human reincarnation. The proof of it is that the punishment of
timid men would consist in passing into the bodies of women to
be exposed to scorn and insults. It was a kind of bogeyman for the simple-minded, much more than an article of faith among
philosophers. Just as one says to children: "If you are naughty, the
wolf will eat you," the ancients said to criminals: "You will turn
into wolves." Today they say: "The Devil will get you and carry
you off to hell."
The plurality of existences, according to Spiritism, differs
essentially from, metempsychosis in that it does not accept the
incarnation of souls into animals, even as a punishment. The
Spirits teach that the soul does not regress, but that it progresses
continuously. Its different corporeal lives take place in humanity;
each existence is a step forward on its path of intellectual and
moral progress - which is quite different from metempsychosis.
Not being able to acquire full development in one sole existence,
frequently shortened by accidental causes, God allows it to use a
new incarnation either to finish the task it was unable to finish or
to start over what it had done badly. Expiation in the corporeal
body consists of the tribulations one endures while in it.
As for the issue of knowing if the plurality of existences is
or is not contrary to certain dogmas of the Church, I will limit
myself to saying that one of two things is true: either reincarnation
exists or it does not; if it does, it is within the laws of nature. In
order to prove that it does not exist, we would have to prove that
it is contrary not to dogma but to such laws, and that we can
find another law that would explain more clearly and logically the
questions that only reincarnation can solve.
Moreover, it is easy to demonstrate that certain dogmas
find a rational endorsement in reincarnation that renders them
acceptable to those who used to reject them because they did
not understand them. So it's not a matter of destroying, but of
interpreting. This will occur later by necessity. Those who will not
accept the interpretation will be perfectly free, as they are today,
to believe that it is the sun that revolves around the earth. The
idea of the plurality of existences is becoming popularized with
astonishing speed because of its sound logic and its conformity
with God's justice. Once it is acknowledged as a natural truth and
accepted by everyone, what will the Church do?
In sum, reincarnation is not a doctrine invented for the needs
of a cause, nor is it a personal opinion. It either is or isn't a fact.
If it is demonstrated that there are certain things that are materially
impossible without reincarnation, we must accept thefact that they are
the result of reincarnation, because if it is part of nature, it cannot
be annulled by an opposing opinion.
Priest — According to spirits, are those who do not believe in
them or their manifestations less fortunate in the next life?
A.K. - If this belief were indispensable for people's salvation,
what would become of those who, since the world began, have not
held it, and those who, for a long time to come, will die without
holding it? Could God close the door of the future to them?
No, the Spirits who teach us are more logical than that; they tell
us: God is supremely just and good and does not make people's
future destinies depend on conditions outside their will; they do
not say: Without Spiritism there is no salvation, but like Christ:
Without charity there is no salvation.
Priest — Then allow me to tell you that, since the Spirits teach
only the principles of the morals we find In the Gospel, I do not see
of what use Spiritism can be since we used to be able to be saved
before it and we still can be without it. That would not be the case if
the Spirits had come to teach, some great new truths, some principles
that would change the face of the world as Christ did. At least Christ
did it by himself alone and his doctrine was unique, whereas there
are spirits by the thousands who contradict each other; some say
white; others, black. From this it follows that, from the beginning,
their adherents have formed many sects. Wouldn't it be better to
leave spirits alone and hold on to what we already have?
A.K. - You are mistaken, sir, not to abandon your point
of view of taking the Church as the sole criterion of human
knowledge. If Christ spoke the truth, Spiritism could not do
otherwise; and instead of throwing stones at it, it should be
welcomed as a powerful auxiliary that has come to confirm,
through all the voices beyond the grave, the fundamental truths
of religion that have been refuted by disbelief. For materialism to
£ght against Spiritism is understandable, but for the Church to
unite with materialism against it is inconceivable. What is just as
inconsistent is that the Church labels as demonic a teaching that
is based on the same authority and proclaims the divine mission
of the founder of Christianity.
But did Christ say all there was to say? Could he reveal
everything? No, because he himself said: "I still have many things
to tell you, but you would not understand them, which is why I
speak to you in parables." Spiritism has come at this time - now
that people are mature enough to understand it - to complete
and explain what Christ touched upon only lightly, or spoke
about only in allegorical form. Of course, you will say that the
responsibility for this belongs to the Church. But to which one? To
the Roman, Orthodox or Protestant Church? Since they are not
in agreement, each one has given its own explanation and claimed
this privilege. Which one has managed to unify all the dissident
denominations? God is wise, and foreseeing that humans would
get their passions and prejudices involved, he did not want to
entrust them with the care of this new revelation. He entrusted it
to spirits, his messengers, who have proclaimed it to every corner
of the globe and apart from any particular denomination so that it
could apply to all of them, and so that no one could turn it to his
or her own advantage.
turned, away from the path traced out by Christ? Are his moral
precepts scrupulously observed? Haven't his words been twisted to
make them an argument for ambition and human passions when,
in fact, they are a condemnation of them? Spiritism, on the other
hand, through the voice of the Spirits sent by God, has come to
call for the strict observation of his precepts by those who have
turned away from them. Mightn't this last motive in particular be
the one that qualifies it as the work of Satan?!
You are wrongly giving the name sect to a few differences of
opinions related to spirit phenomena. For many, at the beginning
of any science, when the observations are still incomplete, it isn't
at all surprising that contradictory theories would arise; but such
theories rest on details and not on the fundamental principle.
Schools can thus explain certain facts in their own way, but these are
no''more sects than the different systems that divide our scholars
regarding the exact sciences, such as in medicine, physics, etc. So
delete the word sect because it is entirely inaccurate for the case in
question. Moreover, hasn't Christianity given birth to a multitude
of sects since its inception? Why hasn't the word of Christ been
powerful enough to impose silence on every controversy? Why is
it susceptible to interpretations that still divide Christians today
into different churches, each claiming to be the sole keeper of the
truth necessary for salvation, cordially detesting each other and
denouncing each other in the name of their Divine Master, who
preached only love and charity? Human weakness, will you say? So
be it; how can you expect Spiritism to triumph suddenly over this
weakness and transform humanity as though by magic?
Now, I will address the question of usefulness. You stated
that Spiritism teaches us nothing new; that is an error. It teaches a
great deal to those who do not stop at the surface. Moreover, had
it done nothing more than to put the maxim: Without charity there
is no salvation, which unites people, in the place of Without the
Church there is no salvation, which divides them, that alone would
have marked a new era for humankind.
You also stated that we could do without Spiritism. Agreed,
just like we could do without a multitude of scientific discoveries.
People did just as well before the discovery of all the new planets;
before eclipses were calculated; before the microscopic world was
known about - and a hundred other things. In order to live and
grow their wheat, peasants don't have to know what a comet is, and
yet nobody denies that all these things have expanded the circle of
ideas and have enabled us to penetrate deeper into the laws of
nature. Well, the world of spirits is one such law, which Spiritism
fias enabled us to know by teaching us the influence it has on the
corporeal world. Supposing that its usefulness were limited to just
that, wouldn't the revelation of such a power be great enough?
Now, let's take a look at its moral influence. Lets say that it
teaches absolutely nothing new in this respect. What is religions
greatest enemy? Materialism, because materialism believes in
nothing; well, Spiritism is the negation of materialism, which has
no more reason to exist. It is no longer by means of reasoning
or blind faith that materialists are told that everything does not
come to an end with their bodies, but by means of the phenomena,
which are shown to them and which allow them to touch them
with their fingers and see them with their eyes. Isn't that by itself
lending a small service to humankind, to religion? But that isn't
all: add the certainty of the future life, the living scenario of those
who have gone before us, showing the need for the good and
the inevitable consequences of evil. That is why, without being
a religion per se, it essentially takes religious ideas and develops
them in people who have none, and it strengthens them in those
who are uncertain. Religion therefore finds a support in it, not for
those persons with narrow minds, who see religion entirely in the
doctrine of eternal fire and in form more than in essence, but for
those who see it according to the grandeur and majesty of God.
In other words, Spiritism enlarges and elevates ideas, and it
combats abuses produced by selfishness, cupidity and ambition. But
who would dare defend them and declare themselves to be their
champion? Although it is not indispensable to salvation, Spiritism
facilitates it and sets us firmly on the path of the good. Moreover,
what sensible person would dare assert that a lack of orthodoxy is
more reprehensible in God's eyes than atheism and materialism? I
pose the following questions outright to all those who fight Spiritism
from the point of view of its religious consequences:
1. Who will be worse off in the future life: those who believe
in nothing, or those who, believing in general truths, do not accept
certain parts of Church dogma?
2. Will Protestants and schismatics be mixed in together in
the same punishment as atheists and materialists?
3. Are those who are not orthodox in the strict sense of the
word, but who do all the good they can, who are kind and indulgent
toward their neighbors and honest in their social relationships, be
less assured of their salvation than those who believe in everything,
but who are hard, selfish, and uncharitable?
4. Which is worth more in Gods eyes: the practice of
Christian virtues without the practice of the duties of orthodoxy,
or the practice of the latter without the duties of morality?
So, Reverend, I have responded to the questions and objections
that you have addressed to me; but as I told you at the beginning,
without any preconceived intention of leading you to our way of
thinking or of changing your convictions, I have restricted myself
to enabling you to consider Spiritism from its true point of view. If
you had not come to me, I would not have gone looking for you.
That does not mean that we would scorn your adherence to our
principles, if that had occurred - very far from it. On the contrary,
we are happy for all the adherents we can attract, and who are all the
more valuable to us when they come freely and willingly. Not only
do we not have the right to exert any constraint over anyone, but we
would hesitate to trouble the conscience of those who, having beliefs
with which they are satisfied, do not willingly come to us.
We said that the best way to become enlightened about
Spiritism is to study the theory first; the phenomena will then
come naturally and you will understand them, regardless of the
order in which they are brought up by the circumstances. Our
publications are created with the goal of facilitating this study;
consequently, that is the route we recommend.
The first reading should be this summary, which presents
a collection of the most salient points of the science. By reading
it, one can get an idea about it and be convinced that, in essence,
it contains something very serious. In this short exposition, we
have adhered to indicating points that should especially rivet the
attention of the observer. Ignorance of the fundamental principles
is the cause of erroneous appraisals by the majority of those who
judge what they do not understand, or do so according to their
If this first contact has created a desire to know more
about Spiritism, people should read The Spirits' Book, where the
principles of the doctrine are fully developed; next, The Mediums'
Book for the experimental part, meant to serve as a guide for those
who want to proceed by themselves, and for those who want to
get a clear idea of the phenomena. Then come the assorted works
in which the applications and consequences of the doctrine are
developed such as The Gospel according to Spiritism, Heaven and
Hell according to Spiritism, etc.
The Revue Spirite is a sort of applications course due to
the numerous examples and developments it contains on the
theoretical and the experimental aspects.
To serious individuals who have done a preliminary study,
it would be a pleasure for us to verbally provide the necessary
explanations on the points they might not have entirely understood.