1. It would be a mistake to think that witnessing a few
extraordinary phenomena would be enough for certain disbelievers
to be convinced. Those who cannot believe in a soul or spirit in
the human being cannot believe in it outside the human being
either. Consequently, by denying the cause, they deny the effect.
Hence, they nearly always come with a preconceived idea and
a negative stance that keeps them from making a serious and
impartial observation. They ask questions and raise objections to
which it is impossible to immediately respond completely, because
it would be necessary to give a sort of course and to start from the
beginning for each individual. The result of prior study is that it
can respond beforehand to objections, the majority of which are
founded on the ignorance of the cause behind the phenomena and
the conditions in which they are produced.
2. Those who are unfamiliar with Spiritism believe that spirit
phenomena can be produced in the same way that other phenomena
can be produced in physics and chemistry experiments. Hence,
their intention to subject them to their will and their refusal to
place themselves in the conditions needed to observe them. Since
in principle they do not believe in the existence and intervention
of spirits - at least they do not understand their nature or their
modes of action - they act as if they were dealing with raw matter and since they do not get what they were asking for, they conclude '
that there are no spirits after all.
If they would look at the issue from a different perspective,
they would understand that spirits are human souls, that after death
we ourselves will be spirits and that we too would be ill-disposed
to serve as playthings to satisfy the fantasies of the curious.
3. Even though certain phenomena may be induced because they result from free intelligences, they are never at our complete
disposal, no matter who we are, and whoever attempted to obtain them at will would be demonstrating either their ignorance or their bad faith. We must wait for the phenomena and understand them as they happen, and quite frequently it is at the moment when it is least expected that the most interesting and most conclusive incidents
occur. Persons who seriously want to learn must therefore approach !
this subject - like all others - with patience and perseverance, and do
everything that needs to be done; otherwise, they would be better off not to concern themselves with the matter.
4. Spiritist meetings meant for spirit manifestations do not
always present the best conditions, whether for obtaining satisfactory
results or for leading disbelievers to conviction; we must admit that
there are meetings from which disbelievers leave less convinced than
when they arrived, raising objections to those who talk to them
about the serious nature of Spiritism by mentioning the often-
ridiculous things they saw. They are no more logical than those who
judge an art by the sketches of an apprentice, a person by his or her •
caricature, or a Greek tragedy by a parody on it. Spiritism has its j
students too, and persons who want to know more about it should !
not do so by drawing upon one sole source; only by examining and
comparing can they arrive at a decision.
5. Frivolous meetings have grave consequences for beginners who attend them because they give them an erroneous idea of the
character of Spiritism. Those who attend only meetings of this
sort will never be able to take seriously something they see treated
frivolously by the very persons who claim to be its adherents. Prior
study will teach them to judge the importance of what they see
and to separate the good from the bad.
6. The same line of reasoning applies to those who judge
Spiritism by certain eccentric books that can give them only an
incomplete and foolish idea of it. Authentic Spiritism is no more
responsible for those who understand it badly or who practice
it wrongly than poetry is responsible for those who write bad
verse. It is deplorable that such works exist, they say, because they
compromise the true science. Of course, it would be preferable for
only good works to be available, but the greater error falls to those
who do not go to the trouble to study the subject thoroughly.
The same applies to all the arts and sciences. Even on the most
serious subjects aren't there treatises that are absurd and packed
full of errors? Why would Spiritism be any more privileged in
this respect, especially at its beginning? If those who criticize it
would stop judging it by its appearances, they would know what it
accepts and what it rejects, and they would not accuse it of what it
itself rejects in the name of reason and experience.
7. Spirits are not, as often imagined, separate beings within
creation. They are souls of those who used to live on the earth or
on other worlds, stripped of their corporeal envelope. Whoever
believes in the existence of the soul after the death of the body
must therefore also believe in the existence of spirits. To deny
spirits is to deny the soul.
8. Generally speaking, people have a mistaken idea about the
make-up of spirits. They are not, as some believe, vague and indefinite
beings, nor are they flames like will-o'-the-wisps or ghosts like in the
tales about souls from another world. They are beings like we are, with
a body like ours, but fluidic and invisible in its normal state.
9. While the soul is united to the body during life, it possesses
a two-fold envelope: one heavy, coarse and destructible, which is the
body; the other fluidic, light and indestructible, called the perispirit.
10. Thus, in the human being there are three essential
components: 1) the soul or spirit, which is the intelligent principle
that harbors the thought, will and moral sense; 2) the body,
which is the material envelope that enables the spirit to relate
to the exterior world; and 3) the perispirit, which is the fluidic,
light, imponderable envelope that serves as the connection and
intermediary between the spirit and the body.
11. When the outer envelope is spent and can no longer
function, it succumbs and the spirit rids itself of it like the fruit
rids itself of its husk, the tree of its bark, the snake of its skin; in
other words, as if it were taking off an old and useless garment.
This is what is called death.
12. Death is nothing but the destruction of the material
envelope; the soul abandons it like a butterfly leaving its chrysalis;
however, it retains its fluidic body or perispirit.
13. The body's death frees the spirit from the envelope that
had bound it to the earth and made it suffer; once freed of this
burden, it possesses only its ethereal body, which allows it to travel
space and traverse distances at the speed of thought.
14. The union of the soul, perispirit and physical body
comprise the human being; the soul and perispirit apart from the
body comprise the being called the spirit.
Note: The soul is thus a simple being; the spirit, a two-fold
being and the human being, a three-fold being. Hence, it would
be more precise to keep the word soul to designate the intelligent
principle, and the word spirit to refer to the semi-material being
formed from this principle plus the fluidic body. However, since one
cannot conceive of the intelligent principle separate from all matter,
or the perispirit not being animated by the intelligent principle,
the terms soul and spirit are usually employed interchangeably. It is
the appearance only that consists in taking the part for the whole,
in the same way that one says that a town is populated by so many
souls, or a settlement by so many houses. Philosophically, however,
it is essential to differentiate between them.
15. Spirits clothed with physical bodies comprise humankind
or the visible, corporeal world; when they are rid of these bodies,
they make up the spirit or invisible world. They populate the space
in the midst of which we live, without our even suspecting it, just
as we used to live in the midst of the world of the infinitesimal
without suspecting it before the microscope was invented.
16. Spirits are not, therefore, abstract, vague and indefinite
beings, but concrete, circumscribed beings, who, if visible, would
resemble humans; thus, it follows that, if at some given moment,
the veil hiding them were to be lifted, they would form an entire
population around us.
17. Spirits retain all the perceptions they had while on
earth, but to a higher degree because their faculties are no longer
deadened by matter. They experience sensations unknown to us;
they see and hear things that our limited senses do not enable us to
see or hear. For them there is no darkness, except for those whose
punishment requires them to be in darkness temporarily. All our
thoughts reverberate within them and they can read them like an
open book. What we may be able to hide from a living person
cannot be hidden once that person becomes a spirit.
18. Spirits are everywhere: in our midst and at our side,
rubbing elbows with us and observing us constantly. Due to their
continued presence amongst us, spirits are the agents of diverse
phenomena; they perform an important role in our mental world
and to a certain degree, in our physical world; consequently, they
are one of the forces of nature.
19. Once the survival of the soul or spirit after death is
accepted, it is reasonable to accept the survival of affectionate
relationships; otherwise, the souls of our relatives and friends
would be lost forever to us.
Since spirits can go everywhere, it is also reasonable to
assume that those who used to love us during their life on earth
continue to love us after death; that they can approach us, desiring
to communicate with us by utilizing the means at their disposal.
Experience has confirmed this fact.
In effect, experience has shown that spirits hold on to the
.serious relationships they had while on earth and that they take
delight in coming to those whom they loved, especially when they
are attracted by the affectionate thoughts and sentiments sent to
them; on the other hand, they are indifferent toward those who
show indifference toward them.
20. Spiritism's objective is to verify and study the
manifestations of spirits, their faculties, their happy or unhappy
conditions, and their future; in other words, to know about the
spirit world. Because such manifestations have been confirmed,
the result has been the irrefutable proof of the existence of the
soul, its survival after the body and its individuality after death,
i.e., the future life. Consequently, it is the negation of materialist
doctrines, not only by means of reason but by the facts.
21. A more or less normal idea held by persons who are
not familiar with Spiritism is the belief that spirits must know all
things and. possess supreme wisdom simply because they are free of
matter. This is a serious mistake.
Since spirits are merely the souls of human beings, they
do not suddenly reach perfection upon leaving their earthly
envelope. The spirit's progress only occurs over time, and it is
only successively that it gets rid of its imperfections and acquires
the knowledge it lacks. It would also be illogical to believe that
the spirit of a primitive or of a criminal could suddenly become
wise and virtuous, just as it would be contrary to God's justice to
believe that it would remain unevolved forever.
Since there are humans of all degrees of knowledge and
ignorance, goodness and malice, the same applies to spirits.
There are those who are only frivolous and playful; others who
are deceitful, fraudulent, hypocritical, evil and vindictive, and still
others who are possessed of sublime virtues and wisdom unknown
upon the earth. Such diversity in the character of spirits is one of
the most important points to consider because it explains the good
or evil nature of the communications that may be received, and it
is especially important to be able to distinguish between them.
Communications with the Invisible World
22. Having accepted the existence, survival and individuality
of the soul, Spiritism is left to answer one principal question: Are
is a result of experience. Once the exchange between the visible
and invisible worlds has been established as a fact, and once the
nature, cause and means of this exchange is understood, a whole
new field opens up to observation and is the key to a multitude
of problems; at the same time, it is a powerful moralizing element
since it puts an end to any doubts regarding the future.
23. In many people's minds, what sheds doubt on the
possibility of communicating with the dead is the mistaken
idea regarding the state of the soul after death. The soul is
usually imagined to be a breath, a vaporous being, or something
vague that can only be understood by means of thought; or
something that evaporates and goes off to who knows where,
to such a far away place that it is hard to understand how it
could return to the earth. If, to the contrary, we consider its
union with a fluidic, semi-material body, with which it forms a
physical, individual being, its communications with the living
hold nothing incompatible with reason.
24. Since the visible world lives in the midst of the invisible
world and is in constant contact with it, it follows that these two
react incessantly upon each other; that, since there are human
beings, there are spirits too, and that if the latter have the ability
to manifest themselves, then they must have done so in all ages
and amongst all cultures. However, as of late, spirit manifestations
have increased substantially, and have taken on a greater character
of authenticity. It was in the designs of Providence to put an end
to the scourge of disbelief and materialism by means of obvious
proofs, enabling those who have left the earth behind to come
and attest to their existence, and to reveal their happy or unhappy
condition to us.
25. The communications between the visible and invisible
worlds may be secretive or open, spontaneous or induced.
Spirits act upon humans secretively through the thoughts
they suggest to them and through certain influences; they act
openly through effects discernible to the senses.
Spontaneous manifestations occur unexpectedly and
fortuitously. Quite often, they occur to persons unfamiliar with
Spiritist ideas, and who, for that very reason, cannot understand
them; consequently, they attribute them to supernatural causes.
Manifestations that are induced occur by means of certain
individuals endowed with special faculties for producing such
effects, and who are designated by the name mediums.
26. Spirits can manifest in many different ways: by means
of sight, hearing, touch, noises, movements of objects, writing,
drawing, music, etc.
27. Spirits sometimes manifest spontaneously through
noises and raps, which are frequently their way of attesting to their
presence and calling attention to themselves - just like someone
knocking on a door to let those inside know someone is there.
There are spirits who do not limit themselves to causing moderate
noises, but who go so far as to produce a racket that sounds like
dinnerware breaking, doors opening and closing, or furniture
being overturned. Some even cause real trouble and damage.
28. Although invisible to us in its normal state, the perispirit is
ethereal matter, nonetheless. In certain cases, the spirit can undergo
a sort of molecular modification that renders it visible and even
tangible; this is how apparitions are produced. This phenomenon
is no more extraordinary than steam, which is invisible when it is
extremely rarified, but which becomes visible when it is condensed.
Spirits who make themselves visible nearly always appear as
they did while alive so that they can be recognized.
29. The ongoing and widespread sighting of spirits is extremely
rare, but isolated apparitions are quite frequent, especially at the
time of death. The liberated spirit seems to be in a rush to see its
relatives and friends again, as if to advise them that it has just left
the earth and to tell them that it is still alive. Any person can delve
into his or her memories and see how many authentic incidents of
this type - unperceived at the time - have occurred not only at night
during sleep, but in broad daylight while wide awake. Formerly, such
incidents would have been considered supernatural and extraordinary,
and attributed to magic and sorcery; today, disbelievers attribute them
to imagination. However, since Spiritist science has provided the
key to them, we know how they are produced and that they are not
outside the order of natural phenomena.
30. It was with the help of its perispirit that the spirit used
to act upon its physical body; it is with this same fluid that it
continues to manifest itself by acting upon inert matter, producing
noises and moving tables and other objects, which it lifts, knocks
down or carries about. There is nothing surprising about this
phenomenon if we consider the fact that the most powerful
motors use the most rarified and even imponderable fluids such as
air, steam or electricity.
It is also with the help of its perispirit that the spirit enables
a medium to write, speak or draw. Not having a tangible body to
act ostensibly when it wants to manifest, it uses the medium's body
and borrows its organs, with which it acts as if it were its own body
by means of the fluidic emanation it pours out over the medium.
31. It is by this same means that the spirit acts upon the
table in the phenomenon known as the turning or talking tables,
whether to cause them to move with no specific purpose in mind,
or whether to produce intelligent raps to spell out the letters of
the alphabet in order to form words and sentences. This is called
typtology. In this phenomenon, the table is merely an instrument
that the spirit uses in the same way that it uses a pencil in order
to write. It endows the table with momentary life by means of the
fluid that penetrates it; however, the spirit does not become part of
the table. Emotional persons who see a being who used to be dear
to them manifest and thus hug the table act foolishly because it is
exactly as if they were hugging a baton that a friend was using to
produce raps. The same applies to those who talk directly to the
table as if the spirit were contained within the wood itself, or as if
the wood had become the spirit.
When communications occur by this means, the spirit must
be represented not as if it were within, the table, but beside it, with
the same appearance it had when alive and the way it would be seen
at that moment if it could make itself visible. The same applies to
written communications: the spirit should be thought of as being
at the mediums side, guiding the hand or transmitting its thought
via a fluidic current.
Whenever the table becomes detached from the floor and
floats in the air without any means of support, the spirit does not
lift it with its arms, but envelops it and penetrates it with a sort of
fluidic atmosphere that neutralizes the effects of gravity, like the air
in balloons and paper kites. This penetrating fluid momentarily
gives the table a specifically greater lightness. When it is held to
the floor, it is similar to what happens to the bell-jar from which
all the air has been removed. All these comparisons are used only
to demonstrate the similarity of the effects, not the complete
similarity of the causes.
When the table chases someone, it is not the spirit who is
doing the chasing, because it can remain peacefully in the same
spot while moving the table by means of a fluidic current that
enables it to move the table at will. When raps are heard within the
table or somewhere else, the spirit is not beating it with its hand or
with some other object; it is directing a jet of fluid that produces
the effect of an electric-like jolt at the point where the noise is
heard. It can change the noise, just as the sounds produced by the
action of air can be changed.
Therefore, one can see that it is no more difficult for a spirit
to lift a person than to lift a table, move an object from one place
to another, or throw it about; these phenomena are produced
according to one and the same law.
32. One can see by these few explanations that there is
nothing supernatural or extraordinary about spirit manifestations.
They are phenomena induced according to the law that governs
the exchange between the visible and invisible worlds, a law as
natural as the law of electricity, gravity, etc. Spiritism is the science
that enables us to know about this law, just as mechanics enables
us to know about the law of motion, and optics, the law of light.
Being part of nature, spirit manifestations have been produced in
all ages; once understood, the law governing them explains a series
of problems that used to be considered insolvable; it is the key to a
multitude of phenomena exploited and amplified by superstition.
33. Once removed from the arena of the extraordinary,
these phenomena are in no way repugnant to reason, because they
may be placed alongside all other natural phenomena. In the ages
of ignorance, all effects whose causes were not understood were
regarded as supernatural. A string of scientific discoveries narrowed
the circle of the extraordinary; the knowledge of this new law has
reduced it to nothing. Therefore, those who accuse Spiritism of
having resuscitated the extraordinary demonstrate that they are
talking about something they know nothing about.
34. Spirit manifestations are of two types: physical effects and
intelligent effects, The former are material and ostensive, such as
movements, noises, the carrying of objects, etc.; the latter consist
in the normal permutation of thought with the help of signs,
words, and especially, writing.
35. Communications received from spirits may be good or
bad, correct or erroneous, profound or superficial, depending on
the nature of the spirits that manifest. Those that display wisdom
and knowledge are spirits that have evolved; those that display
ignorance and evil qualities are little-evolved spirits, but who will
evolve with time.
Spirits can only respond to things they know about,
according to their advancement, and furthermore, to things
they are allowed to talk about because there are things they
must not reveal, since it has not yet been given to humans to
know about everything.
36. Due to the diversity in the qualities and aptitudes of
spirits, it is not enough simply to address any spirit available in
order to receive a correct response to every question, because, on
many subjects, it can give only its personal opinion, which may be
right or wrong. If it is wise, it will acknowledge its ignorance about
what it does not know; if it is frivolous or deceitful, it will respond
to anything without any concern for the truth whatsoever; if it is
proud, it will offer its idea on the matter as if it were the absolute
truth. This is why the book of 1 John 4:1 states: Do not believe
every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are of God. Experience has
proven the wisdom of this advice. Thus, it would be imprudent
and thoughtless to accept everything that comes from spirits
without testing it first. That is why it is crucial to understand the
nature of the spirits with whom we are relating.
37. The quality of spirits may be determined by their
language. The language of truly good, high order spirits is
always dignified, noble, logical and lacking in contradictions; it
displays wisdom, benevolence, modesty and the purest morality;
it is concise and does not employ needless words. Regarding
ignorant or proud low order spirits, the emptiness of their
thoughts is almost always made up for by a superabundance
of words. Every obviously erroneous thought, every maxim
contrary to sound morality, every piece of foolish advice,
every gross, trivial or just plain silly expression, and lastly,
every trace of malevolence, presumptuousness or arrogance are
incontestable signs of the spirit's unevolved character.
38. Low order spirits are ignorant to various degrees; their
moral horizon is limited and their discernment restricted. They
often have only an erroneous and incomplete idea of matters and
are still under the influence of earthly preconceptions, which they
sometimes assume to be true; thus, they are incapable of solving
certain issues. They can lead us intentionally or unintentionally
into error concerning what they themselves do not understand.
39. All low order spirits are not, therefore, downright evil;
there are those who are only ignorant and frivolous; others are
facetious, witty or fun-loving spirits who know how to pull off a
cunning, scathing joke. Moreover, we may find in the spirit world
- just as on the earth - every sort of wickedness or every degree of
intellectual and moral excellence.
40. High order spirits are concerned solely with intelligent
manifestations intended for our instruction. Physical or purely
material manifestations are most often assigned to low order
spirits, who are commonly called rapping spirits, just as amongst
us, feats of physical strength are performed by manual laborers and
41. Communicating with spirits must always be done calmly
and thoughtfully; we must never lose sight of the fact that spirits are
the souls of .men and women, and that it would be inappropriate to
make them the object of a game or entertainment. If we owe due
respect to mortal remains, we ought to have even more respect for
the spirit. Frivolous and thoughtless meetings thus fail in their duty,
and persons who take part in them should be mindful that they
themselves may be called to the spirit world at any moment and
would not look favorably on being treated with such little deference.
42. Another, equally important point to consider is the
fact that spirits are free; they communicate when they want, with
whom they want and when they are able because they have their
occupations to attend to. They are not at the beck and call of
anyone, no matter who they are, and no one has the right to make
them come against their will or make them reveal what they must
keep silent about. Consequently, no one can say for certain that
a particular spirit will come upon being evoked at a set time, or
respond to this or that question. To say otherwise is to display one's
complete ignorance about the most basic principles of Spiritism.
Only charlatanism hasfailsafe sources.
43. Spirits are attracted out of affinity, similarity of tastes and
character, and the intention of whomever desires their presence.
High order spirits would no more attend a pointless meeting than
a scholar would attend a meeting of thoughtless children - plain
common sense says it could not be otherwise. If they sometimes
attend such meetings, it is for the purpose of providing healthy
counsel, combating vice or trying to lead someone onto the right
path. If they are not heeded, they withdraw. It would be completely
wrong to think that serious spirits could possibly enjoy responding
to futilities or idle questions that display neither respect for them
nor any real desire to learn, and even less to think they would come
to put on a show to entertain the curious. If they did not do such
things during their lifetime, they would not do so after their death.
44. Frivolous meetings result in attracting frivolous spirits
who are looking for nothing else but the opportunity to deceive
and mystify. For the same reason that serious individuals do not
attend inconsequential gatherings, serious spirits attend only
serious meetings, whose purpose is instruction and not curiosity.
These are the types of meetings in which high order spirits enjoy
providing their teachings.
45. The result of what we have stated so far is that in order
to be worthwhile every Spiritist meeting must be serious and
reverential as the number one condition. Everything must occur
respectfully, religiously and honorably if its aim is to obtain the
habitual concourse of good spirits. It must not be forgotten that if
these same spirits were present at such meetings while incarnate,
they would have been given the respect to which they are even
more entitled after death.
46. It is useless to allege that certain curious, frivolous or
recreational experiments would convince disbelievers; actually,
just the opposite is the case. Disbelievers who are already
Inclined to mock the most sacred beliefs cannot see something
serious where entertainment is Involved. They cannot be led to
respect something that is not: presented to them in a respectable
manner; consequently, useless and frivolous meetings - those that
display no order, seriousness or concentration, always leave a bad
impression. What is most convincing, however, is the proof of the
presence of those whose memory is dear to them. In light of their
serious, solemn words and the intimate details they reveal, such
disbelievers blanch and tremble with emotion. But because they
have so much respect, admiration and fondness for the person
whose soul appears to them, they feel shocked and scandalized
to see him or her come to a disrespectful gathering in the midst
of dancing tables and the comedic performances of thoughtless
spirits. Disbelievers that they are, their minds reject such an
alliance between the serious and the frivolous, the religious and
the profane, and that is why they label the whole thing as trickery,
and often leave even less convinced than when they came.
Meetings of this nature always do more harm than good
because they keep more individuals away from the Doctrine than
they lead to it, not to mention the fact that they open the way for
detractors to find plenty of reasons to mock them.
47. It is a mistake to make a sport of physical manifestations;
if such manifestations no longer carry the weight of a philosophical
teaching, they nevertheless are useful from the phenomenological
point of view because they represent the ABCs of the science, to
which they have provided the key. Although they are not as useful
as they once were, they still help to convince certain people. Even
so, order and decency should not be excluded from meetings
where experiments are performed. If such experiments were
always performed appropriately, they would more easily convince
disbelievers and would in every respect produce better results.
48. Some people have gotten a completely mistaken
idea regarding evocations. There are those who believe they
involve bringing back the dead with the morbid appearance
of the grave. The little we have already stated so far should be
enough to correct this error. Only in novels, ghost stories and
plays are the discarnate dead seen to leave their graves dressed
ridiculously in their burial shrouds and rattling their bones.
Spiritism, which never performs miracles, has never produced
anything of the sort and has never made a dead body come back
to life; once the body is in the grave, it is there forever. But the
fluidic, intelligent spirit being does not remain there wrapped
in its coarse envelope; it disengages from it at the moment of
death, and once the separation occurs, it has nothing more in
common with it.
49. Malevolent criticism is pleased to represent spirit
communications as involving the outlandish and superstitious
practices of magic and necromancy. If those who speak of Spiritism
without knowing anything about it had gone to the trouble of
studying the subject, they would have spared themselves the
trouble of wasting their imagination or making allegations that
serve no other purpose than proving their ignorance and ill will.
For the benefit of persons unfamiliar with the Spiritist science,
we will state that there are neither days, times nor places that
are more propitious than others for communicating with spirits;
that neither formulas, sacramental or cabalistic words are needed
to evoke them; that neither training nor initiation is needed; that
no use of symbol or material object, whether to attract them or to
repel them, is effective, and that thought alone is sufficient; and
lastly, that mediums, without leaving their normal state, receive
their communications as simply and as naturally as if they were
dictated by incarnate persons. Only charlatanism could employ
eccentric mannerisms and add ridiculous accessories.
Evoking spirits is done in God's name with respect and
concentration: this is all that is recommended to serious persons
who wish to communicate with serious spirits.
The Providential Aim of Spirit
50. The providential aim of spirit manifestations is to
convince disbelievers that all does not end for human beings when
their life on earth ends, and to give believers a more correct idea
regarding the future. Good, spirits come to instruct us for our
improvement and progress, but not to reveal to us what we must
not yet know or what we must learn solely by our own efforts. If
it were enough to simply ask spirits in order to get the solution
to every scientific problem, or to make discoveries or profitable
inventions, any ignoramus could become a genius at no cost, and
any lazy person could get rich without having to work for it -
which is not what God has willed. Spirits help persons of genius
through inspiration, but in. order to leave the merit to them they
do not exempt them from having to do work or research.
51. It would be completely wrong to see spirits as merely
fortunetellers' helpers. Serious spirits refuse to concern themselves
with useless matters. Frivolous, mocking spirits concern themselves
with anything and everything, respond to anything and everything,
and predict whatever people want them to predict with no concern at
all for the truth; they feel a mischievous sense of pleasure in deceiving
gullible persons. That is why it is essential to be perfectly certain about
the nature of the questions that can be put to spirits.
52. Apart from what can be of help to moral progress, there
is nothing but uncertainty contained in revelations that may be
received from spirits. The first regrettable consequence for persons
who divert their faculty from its providential aim is to be fooled by
the deceitful spirits that swarm around people; the second is to fall
under the control of these same spirits, who can, by way of false
advice, lead them to real, material- misfortune; the third is to lose
after death the benefit of having known Spiritism.
53. Thus, manifestations are not meant to serve material
interests; their usefulness lies in their moral consequences.
However, if they led to no further results than to make known a
new law of nature and to physically demonstrate the existence of
the soul and its survival after death, they would accomplish much,
because it would open up a broad new way to philosophy.
54. Mediums display a wide variety in their aptitudes, which
render them more suitable or less so for obtaining this or that
phenomenon, or this or that type of communication. According to
such aptitudes, we may say that there are physical effects, intelligent
communications, seeing, speaking, hearing, sensitive, drawing,
polyglot, poetic, musical, writing, etc. mediums. A medium cannot
expect what is outside his or her faculty. Without understanding
the various mediumistic aptitudes, the observer cannot be
informed about certain difficulties or impossibilities that may be
encountered in the practice of mediumship.
55. Physical effects mediums are most particularly capable of
inducing material phenomena, such as movements, raps, etc., with
the aid of tables or other objects. When these phenomena express
a thought or obey a will, they are intelligent effects, which for that
very reason, point to an intelligent cause and are a way for spirits to
manifest. By means of a. number of ordinary raps, we may receive
answers such as yes or no, or die designation of letters of the alphabet
that may be used to form words or sentences. This primitive method is
very slow and does not lend itself to lengthy exchanges. Talking tables
began the science; nowadays, there are means of communication that
are as fast and complete as the ones used between incarnates; tables
serve only incidentally and for experimentation.
56. Of all the means of communication, writing is the simplest,
fastest and most convenient, and allows the lengthiest exchanges; it is
also the faculty most frequently found among mediums.
57. In order to obtain a written communication, physical
intermediaries such as baskets, planchettes, etc. attached to a pencil
were used at first. It was later realized, that such accessories were
needless and that mediums could write directly with the hand as
in ordinary circumstances.
58. Mediums write under the influence of the spirits who
use them, as their instruments; their hand is caused to write by
involuntary movement, which most of the time they cannot control.
Some mediums have no awareness ofwhat they are writing; others are
vaguely aware, although the thought is not their own. This is what
distinguishes the mechanical, intuitive and semi-mechanical mediums.
Spiritist science explains the way the spirit's thought is transmitted to
the medium and the role the latter plays in communications.
59. Mediums possess the faculty of communication, but
effective communication depends on the will of spirits. If spirits
do not want to manifest, mediums obtain nothing and are like
instruments without musicians.
Spirits communicate only when they want to or when they are
able to, and are not at anyone's beck and call; no medium has the ability
to make them come whenever desired and against their will.
This explains the intermittence of the faculty in the best
mediums, in addition to its suspension, which they sometimes
must bear for several months.
Consequently, it would be erroneous to liken mediumship
to a talent. Talents are acquired by work, and those who possess
them are always master over them; mediums are never master of
their faculty, because it depends on an outside will.
60. Physical effects mediums who on a regular basis and at their
pleasure are able to obtain certain phenomena - if it does not involve
trickery - are being used by low order spirits who enjoy putting on
such exhibitions and who were perhaps involved in the same type of
work when they were alive. Nevertheless, it would be absurd to believe
that even such low order spirits would enjoy being put on display.
61. The darkness required for the production of certain
physical effects of course arouses suspicion, but proves nothing
against their reality. In chemistry it is a known fact that there are
combinations that cannot occur under light, and that compositions
and decompositions occur under the action of the luminous fluid.
Since all spirit phenomena result from the combination of the
personal fluids of both the spirit and the medium, and since these
fluids are physical, it should come as no surprise that in certain
cases the luminous fluid works against their combination.
62. Intelligent communications also occur by means of
the fluidic action of the spirit upon the medium; the fluid of the
latter must identify with the fluid of the former. The ease of the
communication depends on the degree oilaffinity between the two
fluids. Each medium is thus capable of receiving the impression or
impulse of this or that spirit's thought to varying degrees. Such a
medium may be a good instrument for one, but a bad instrument
for another. The result is that even though two equally well-
endowed mediums may be right next to each other, a spirit may
manifest through one and not the other.
63. Therefore, it is a mistake to believe that it is enough
simply to be a medium in order to receive communications from
every spirit with the same ease. There are no more universal
mediums for making evocations than there is a universal
aptitude for inducing every type of phenomenon. Spirits prefer
to look for instruments who vibrate in unison with them; if
they were to impose themselves on the first to come along, it
would be like forcing a pianist to play the violin, under the
reasoning that if he or she knows music, he or she should be
able to play every instrument.
64. Without harmony - the only quality that can lead to
fluidic assimilation - communications are impossible, incomplete
or false. They may be false because, in the absence of the spirit
desired, there is no lack of others who are ready and willing to take
advantage of the occasion to manifest, and who care very little
about telling the truth.
65. The fluidic assimilation is at times completely impossible
between certain spirits and mediums. At other times - and this
is the most common case - it is only established gradually over
time. This is what explains why spirits who are accustomed to
manifesting through one particular medium do so more easily
and why the first manifestations nearly always display a certain
restraint and are less explicit.
66. Fluidic assimilation is as necessary in communications
involving typtology as it is in those involving writing, since in either
case there is a transmission of the spirit's thought, whatever the
material means employed.
67. Since mediums cannot impose themselves on the spirit
they want to evoke, it behooves the spirit itself to choose its own
instrument. In any case, the medium must identify beforehand
with the spirit through concentration and prayer, at least for a few
minutes, and even for a few days, if possible, in order to induce
and activate the fluidic assimilation. This is the way to attenuate
68. Whenever the fluidic conditions are not proper
for the spirit to communicate directly with the medium, the
communication may occur through the intermediary of the latter s
spirit guide. In this case, the thought only arrives second hand;
that is, after having passed through two sources. Thus, one can
understand how important it is for the medium to be well assisted
because if he or she is assisted by an obsessor, ignorant or proud
spirit, the communication will inevitably be altered.
Here, the medium's personal qualities truly perform an
important role due to the nature of the spirits he or she attracts.
The most unworthy mediums can possess powerful faculties,
but the safest are those who combine such strength with the
best affinities in the spirit world. Now, these affinities are in no
way guaranteed by the impressive names that spirits might use
or that they might take when signing communications, but by
the consistently good nature of the communications obtained
69. Whatever the mode of communication may be, the
practice of Spiritism from the experimental point of view entails
many difficulties and is not without its problems for anyone who
lacks the necessary experience. Whether one is experimenting
for oneself or whether simply observing, it is crucial to know
how to distinguish amongst the various natures of the spirits
that can manifest, to know the causes of all the phenomena, the
conditions in which they may be produced, and the obstacles
that may be encountered, in order not to ask the impossible. And
it is no less necessary to know about all the conditions and all the
dangers of mediumship, the influence of the environment, moral
Dangers Mediums Might Encounter
70. One of the greatest dangers regarding mediumship
is obsession,i.e. the control that certain spirits may have over
mediums by imposing themselves on them with apocryphal names
and by keeping them from communicating with other spirits. This
is also a danger to the new and inexperienced observer, who, not
being familiar with the characteristics of the phenomenon, may
be fooled by appearances, like those who, not knowing medicine,
may be mistaken about the cause and nature of a sickness. If prior
study in this case is useful for observers, it is indispensable for
mediums because it furnishes them the means of preventing a
problem that could have regrettable consequences. That is why
we feel that it is never too much to recommend studying before
delving into the practiced
71. Obsession presents three main, well-characterized
degrees: simple obsession, fascination and subjugation. In the first,
mediums are perfectly aware that they are not receiving anything
good and they are not mistaken about the nature of the spirits
who insist on manifesting through them, and from whom they
would love to disentangle themselves. This sort of case is not all
that serious: it is only a mere inconvenience and the medium can
get rid of it by not writing for a while. When the spirit tires of not
being listened to, it leaves.
Obsessive fascination is much more serious in that the
mediums are completely deluded. Spirits who control them gain
their trust to the point of paralyzing their judgment in analyzing
their communications and making them believe that the most
absurd things are truly sublime.
The distinctive characteristics of this type of obsession is that
of causing mediums to be excessively susceptible; to believe that only
what they themselves write is good, just and true, rejecting and even
regarding as evil all critical advice and every critical observation; to
break off relations with their friends rather than admit that they
have been deceived; to envy other mediums whose communications
are deemed better than theirs; to want to control Spiritist meetings,
which they leave if they cannot prevail. They end up suffering
such overwhelming domination that the spirit can compel them to
assume the most foolish and compromising attitudes.
72. One of the distinctive characteristics of evil spirits is that
they impose themselves; they give orders and expect to be obeyed.
Good spirits never impose themselves; they provide counsel and if
they are not heeded, they withdraw. As a result, evil spirits leave
a feeling that is grueling and tiring and which produces a sort of
uneasiness; it frequently causes a feverish agitation, and brusque,
irregular movements. Good spirits, on the other hand, leave a
calming and gentle feeling that instills a sense of true well-being.
73- Obsessive subjugation, which used to be called possession, is a physical coercion exerted by spirits of the worst kind and it can even neutralize the obsessee's free will. It is often limited to
simple disagreeable feelings, but sometimes it causes disorderly
movements, foolish actions, screams or incoherent or offensive
words. The mediums subject to it are at times aware of their
ridiculous behavior but they can do nothing about it. This state
differs essentially from pathological insanity, with which it is
wrongly confused, because in obsessive subjugation there is no
organic lesion; since the cause is different, the curative measures
must also be different.
Applying the standard procedures of
douches and physical treatments to obsessive subjugation may often induce true insanity where there was nothing but a strictly
moral cause to begin with.
74. In insanity per se, the cause of the problem is internal
and it is necessary to try to reestablish the organism to its normal
state. In subjugation, the cause is external and it is necessary to
rid the patient of an invisible enemy by opposing it not with
medications but with a moralpower superior to its own. Experience
has shown that, in such a case, exorcisms have never produced a
satisfactory result; they aggravate rather than improve the situation.
By pointing out the true cause of the problem, only Spiritism can
provide the means of combating it. The obsessor spirit must be
educated morally, somehow; by means of wisely directed counsel,
one can render it better morally and make it willingly renounce its
torment of the patient, who is then liberated.
75. As a rule, obsessive subjugation is individual; however,
when a phalanx of evil spirits invades a population, subjugations
can take on an epidemic scale. One such phenomenon occurred at
the time of Christ; only a powerful moral superiority could have
dominated those malevolent beings called demons and reinstate
their victims' peace of mind.
76. An important fact to consider is that obsession, whatever
its nature, is independent of mediumship and may be found in
every degree — especially the third kind - in a large number of
individuals who have never even heard of Spiritism. In fact, since
spirits have existed in every age, they must have exerted the same
influence in every age. Mediumship is not a cause but only a
means of manifesting such influence; hence, one can state with
certainty that every obsessed medium must be enduring, in some
way and frequently in the commonest acts of life, the effects of
this influence, and that apart from mediumship it would express
itself through other effects often, attributed to those mysterious
illnesses that escape every investigation by medicine. By means of
mediumship, the malfeasant being betrays its presence; without
mediumship, it is a hidden enemy no one suspects.
77. Persons who cannot believe in anydung apart from matter
cannot believe in a hidden cause, but when science finally emerges
from its materialistic impasse, it will recognize, in the action of the
invisible world that surrounds us and in the midst of which we live,
a force that acts upon physical things as well as mental things. This
will be the opening of a new road to progress and will provide the
key to a multitude of wrongly understood phenomena.
78. Since obsession can never be caused by a good spirit, one
essential point is that of knowing how to recognize the nature of
the spirits who manifest. Unenlightened mediums can be deceived
by appearances, whereas those who are prudent look out for the
smallest signs of suspicion, and the spirit ends up withdrawing
upon realizing there is nothing it can do. Prior understanding of
the means of distinguishing between good and evil spirits is thus
indispensable to mediums who do not want to expose themselves to
being caught in a trap. It is no less indispensable to mere observers,
who can thereby evaluate the worth of what they see and hear.
Characteristics of Mediums
79. The mediumistic faculty is connected with the organism;
it is independent of the medium's moral qualities and may be found
in the most unworthy as well as in the most worthy individuals.
This does not apply to the preference that good spirits give to the
80. Good spirits communicate voluntarily to varying degrees
through this or that medium according to their affinity with
the medium's own spirit. What comprises the characteristics of
mediums is not the ease with which they receive communications,
but their ability to receive only good ones and not to become
playthings of frivolous and deceitful spirits.
81. Mediums who leave much to be desired from the moral
point of view sometimes receive very good communications,
which can only have come from good spirits, and it would be a
mistake to be surprised by this fact; it is often in these mediums'
best interest and to give them, wise advice. If they do not take
advantage of it, they have only themselves to blame because
they write their own condemnation. God, whose goodness is
infinite, cannot refuse assistance to those who have the most
need of it. The virtuous missionary who teaches good morals
to criminals is acting in the same way as good spirits do with
Furthermore, when good spirits want to provide a useful,
widespread teaching, they will make use of the instrument at
hand; however, they will leave him or her when they find one with
whom they have more affinity and who will take advantage of their
lessons. When good spirits withdraw, low order ones, unconcerned
about moral qualities, then have an open playing field.
The result is that morally imperfect mediums who do not
mend their ways sooner or later become prey to evil spirits, who
quite often lead them to their ruin and great misfortune, even
while in this world. As for their faculty, as beautiful as it was and
would have remained, it becomes tarnished first by being forsaken
by good spirits and then by being lost altogether.
82. Even the most deserving mediums are not exempt
from manifestations by deceitful spirits; first, because none are
sufficiently perfect not to have a weak spot that can provide access
to evil spirits; second, in order to exercise their judgment, good
spirits at times allow it to happen so that their mediums can
learn how to tell truth from error and be wary so as not to accept
anything blindly without having tested it first. But deception does
not come from good spirits and any respectable name that signs an
error is necessarily apocryphal.
This may also be a test of patience and perseverance for any
Spiritist, medium or not. Those who become discouraged by a few
deceptions show good spirits that the latter cannot count on them.
83. It is no more surprising to see evil spirits obsess respectable
persons than it is surprising to see evil persons persecuting good people.
It is interesting that, ever since The Mediums' Book was
published, obsessed mediums have become much less numerous,
because, having been forewarned, they are on their guard and
watch for the smallest signs that may betray the presence of a
deceitful spirit. Most of the ones who are obsessed either did not
study the subject first or did not heed the counsels offered to them.
84. What comprises a medium per se is the mediumistic
faculty, which may be more developed or less so; what comprises
the sure medium, the one who can truly be classified as a good
medium, is the use of the faculty, the aptitude to serve as an
interpreter for good spirits. Regardless of the faculty, a medium's
ability to attract good spirits and repel evil ones is due to his
or her moral ascendancy. This ascendancy is in proportion to
the sum of the characteristics that make such mediums moral
persons, and with it they obtain the affinity of good spirits and
exert control over evil ones.
85. For the same reason, the sum of mediums' moral
imperfections liken them more to the nature of evil spirits and
keep them from the ascendancy needed to avoid them. Instead
of being the ones who exert control over evil spirits, evil spirits exert
control over them. This applies not only to mediums, but to
everyone else, since there is no one who is not influenced by
spirits. (See nos. 74, 75 above)
86. In order to impose themselves on mediums, evil spirits
know how to skillfully exploit all their moral defects; the one
that gives them the greatest access is pride, the sentiment that
dominates most obsessed mediums, especially those who are
fascinated. Pride leads them to believe in their infallibility and to
scorn advice. Unfortunately, this sentiment is encouraged by the
praise of which they might be the object; when their faculty is a
little transcendental, they are sought out and flattered; they end
up believing in their own importance and regard themselves as
indispensable, which leads them to their downfall.
87. While imperfect mediums pride themselves with
the illustrious names - usually apocryphal - that sign the
communications they receive, and regard themselves as the
privileged interpreters of heavenly powers, good mediums never feel
sufficiently worthy of such a favor and always maintain a healthy
distrust of the quality of what they receive; that is, they do not trust
their own judgment. Since they are only passive instruments, they
understand that if the communication is good, they cannot regard
it as their personal merit any more than they can be held responsible
if it is bad. It would be foolish to believe unquestionably in the
identity of the spirits who manifest through them, and they leave
the matter to be judged by disinterested third parties without any
more offence to their personal vanity for an unfavorable judgment
than an actor would be for criticism leveled at the play in which he
or she played a part. Their distinctive character displays simplicity
and modesty; they are happy with the faculties they possess, not
out of vanity but rather as a means of being useful, which they
willingly are when the occasion arises, and without being offended
if they are not given top preference.
Mediums are spirits' intermediaries and interpreters; thus,
it is the responsibility of the evoker, or even the mere observer, to
determine the worthiness of the instrument.
88. The mediumistic faculty is a gift from God as are all
faculties that may be used for either good or evil, and it may be
abused. Its purpose is to put us in direct communication with
the souls of those who used to live so that we may receive their
teachings and be initiated into the future life. Just as sight puts us
in communication with the visible world, mediumship puts us in
communication with the invisible one. Those who employ it for
useful purposes, for their own and their neighbors' advancement,
are fulfilling a true mission, for which they will be rewarded. On
the other hand, those who abuse it and use it on useless matters
or for material gain divert it from its providential aim and must
sooner or later bear the consequences like anyone else who makes
bad use of a faculty.
89. Certain spirit manifestations lend themselves quite
easily to being imitated, but even though they may be exploited
like so many other phenomena by means of trickery and
sleight-of-hand, it would be absurd to conclude that they do
not actually exist at all. For anyone who has studied and knows
the normal conditions under which they may be produced, it
is easy to tell an imitation from an authentic manifestation.
Furthermore, an imitation could never be complete and could
deceive only unknowing observers incapable of understanding
the characteristic nuances of authentic phenomena.
90. The manifestations easiest to imitate are certain physical
effects and common intelligent effects, such as movements, raps,
apportations, direct writing, banal responses, etc. The same does
not apply to intelligent communications of a high level. To imitate
the former, only skillfulness is required; to simulate the latter,
an uncommon erudition, exceptional intellectual abilities and a
comprehensively broad — so to speak - faculty of improvisation would
91. Persons who are unfamiliar with Spiritism may be
led to suspect the good faith of mediums; study and experience
provide them, the means of assuring themselves of the authenticity
of the phenomena. Additionally, the best guarantee lies in the
medium's absolute disinterest and honorability. There are persons
who, because of their position and character, are beyond any
suspicion. If the possibility of material gain, can encourage fraud,
common sense would indicate that where there is nothing to gain,
charlatanism has nothing to do.
92. We may find both enthusiasts and eccentrics among
Spiritism's adherents - as in everything else. They are usually
the worst propagators because the ease with which they accept
everything without an in-depth examination arouses distrust.
Knowledgeable Spiritists are on their guard against blinding
enthusiasm and observe everything coolly and. calmly. This is the
way not to fall victim to either illusions or deceptions. Besides the
issue of good faith, beginning observers should, before anything
else, take into consideration the seriousness of the character of the
persons they address.
The Identity of Spirits
93. Since all the defects of humanity may be found among
spirits, cunningness and deceitfulness may also be found. There
are spirits who have no qualms about adorning themselves with
the most respectable names in order to inspire trust. Hence, it
is necessary to refrain from believing wholeheartedly in the
authenticity of every signature.
94. Identity is one of the big problems of practical Spiritism
and it is often impossible to prove its authenticity, especially when
dealing with highly evolved spirits from ancient times. Amongst
those that manifest, many do not have names that mean anything
to us; consequently, to provide us with something to fix our
thoughts on, they may take the name of a known spirit of the
same category. Thus, if a spirit communicates using the name St.
Peter, for example, that does not mean that it really is the apostle
himself; it could be him, or it could be a spirit of the same order,
who has been sent by him.
The question of identity in this case is by all means secondary,
and it would be childish to connect any importance to it; what
matters is the nature of the teaching. Is it good or bad, worthy or
unworthy of the personage who took the name? Would he or she
approve of it or condemn it? That is the whole issue.
95. Identity is easiest to prove when dealing with contemporary
spirits, whose character and habits are known, because it is by the
habits and characteristics of their private lives that their identity is
more assuredly revealed, and often in an incontestable manner.
Whenever relatives or friends are evoked, it is their personality that is
ofmost interest and it is thus quite natural to try to prove their identity.
However, for those who are only partially familiar with Spiritism, the
means to do so are generally insufficient and may lead to error.
96. A spirit can reveal its identity through a multitude of
circumstances highlighted in its communications, which reflect its
habits, character, language and even its familiar quirks. It may also
reveal its identity through intimate details, which it willingly divulges
to persons it cares about - these are the best proofs. However, it is
very rare that it will satisfy any direct questions asked of it in this
regard, especially if asked by persons who are indifferent toward
it, and whose sole objective is curiosity or proof. The spirit proves
its identity as it wishes or as it is able according to the type of its
interpreter's faculty, and often these proofs are super-abundant. The
mistake is to want it to provide them in the way the evoker wants
them given; that is, when it refuses to yield to his or her demands.
97. The contradictions that often appear in what spirits say
should come as a surprise only to observers who merely possess an
incomplete understanding of the Spiritist science. Contradictions
result from the nature of the spirits themselves, who, as already
stated, can only understand matters according to how evolved
they are; many of them know even less than certain incarnates.
Regarding a multitude of facts, they can provide only their
personal opinion, which may be correct to some degree while still
reflecting the earthly prejudices they have not yet abandoned.
Others fabricate their own theories about what they do not yet
understand, particularly regarding scientific matters and the origin
of things. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that they
are not always in agreement with one another.
98. W e may be surprised at finding contradictory
communications signed by the same name. According to the
circumstances, only low order spirits could differ in what they say,
because high order spirits never contradict one another. Whoever
is relatively inexperienced regarding the mysteries of the spirit
world should understand the ease with which certain spirits adorn
themselves with borrowed names in order to make what they
say more believable. Thus, we may safely conclude that if two
communications that are radically contradictory as to the depth
of the thought carry the same respectable name, one of the two is
99. Two ways may serve to settle our thoughts concerning
issues of doubtful identity: the first is to submit communications
to the severe test of reason, common sense and logic. This is
the recommendation given by all good spirits, but one that is
discouraged by deceitful spirits, who know very well that they
can only lose with a serious examination. That is why they avoid
discussion and want to be blindly believed.
The second criterion of true identity lies in the agreement of
the teaching. When the same principle is taught in several places
by different spirits and mediums who do not know each other
and who are not under the same influence, we can conclude that
it entails more truth than one coming from only one source and
which contradicts the majority.
The Consequences of Spiritism
100. In light of the uncertainty concerning revelations
made by spirits, one might ask: So what good is the study of
Spiritism, after all?
It is useful to materially prove the existence of the spirit world.
Since the spirit world is composed of the souls of those
who used to live on the earth, it proves the soul's existence and its
survival of the body.
The souls who manifest reveal their joys and their sufferings
according to the way their earthly life was lived, which thus proves
the notion of future rewards and punishments.
As souls or spirits describe their state and their situation,
they correct erroneous ideas made regarding the future life, and
especially the nature and duration of punishments.
Consequently, the future life goes from being a vague and
uncertain theory to being a consummate and positive fact, which
results in the need to labor as much as possible during our short,
present life on behalf of our everlasting future life.
Let us imagine that a 20-year-old man is certain that he will
die at 25. What will he do during those five years? Will he labor for
the future? Surely not. He will make every effort to enjoy himself to
the utmost and would think it wrong to impose meaningless fatigue
and privation on himself. However, if he is certain that he is going
to live to be 80, he will act otherwise because he will understand the
need to sacrifice a few moments of repose in the present to ensure
repose in the future for several years. The same would be the case for
anyone for whom the future life is an uncertainty.
Doubt about the future life naturally leads people to yield
completely to the pleasures of the present; hence the excessive
importance given to material wealth.
The importance given to material wealth arouses covetousness,
envy and jealousy in those who have little vis-a-vis those who have
much. From covetousness to the desire to obtain at any cost what
their neighbor possesses, there is only one small step; hence the hatred,
disputes, lawsuits, wars and all the ills engendered by selfishness.
With doubt about the future, people who are oppressed
during this life by sadness and misfortune see death as the only
end to their suffering. Hoping for nothing more, they think it is
rational to shorten it through suicide.
Without hope in the future, it is quite natural for people to
be affected and become desperate from the disappointments they
experience. The violent jolts they feel as a result resonate in their
minds, the cause of most cases of insanity.
Without the future life, the present one is ofcrucial importance
to people, the sole object of their concerns, and they relate everything
to it. That is why they want at any price to enjoy not only material
wealth but honors; they aspire to stand out, to rise above others and
to eclipse their neighbor by means of ostentation and status; hence
the unbridled ambition and importance they give to titles and all
the futilities of self-centeredness, for which they would sacrifice even
their honor because they see nothing else beyond it.
Certainty about the future life and its consequences
completely changes the order of people's ideas and enables them
to see matters from a different perspective; the veil is lifted and
they discover an immense and splendid horizon. In light of the
infinite and the grandeur of the life beyond the grave, the present
life vanishes like a second before the centuries, like a grain of sand
before the mountain. Thus, everything else becomes small and
petty, and they marvel at the importance once given to matters
so ephemeral and childish; hence, in the events of life, a calm
tranquility appears, which is already happiness in comparison
to the worries and torments people impose on themselves when
trying to rise above others; the same applies for vicissitudes and
disappointments, to which they become indifferent. By removing
any hint of despair, it prevents numerous cases of insanity and
diverts the thought from suicide. With certainty about the future,
individuals can hope and resign themselves; with doubt about it,
they lose patience because they expect nothing beyond the present.
From the examples of those who used to live, people are shown
that the sum of future happiness is the result of the moral progress
achieved and the good that has been done while on earth; that the
sum of future unhappiness is the result of the sum of the vices and
bad deeds; consequently, in all those who are well convinced of this
truth, there is a wholly natural inclination to do good and avoid evil.
When the majority of people are imbued with this idea, when
they profess these principles and practice the good, the result will be
that the good will win out over evil in this world; that people will no
longer seek to harm one another; that they will govern their social
institutions for the good of all and not for the privilege of the few; in
other words, they will understand that the law of charity taught by
Christ is the fount of happiness even while in this world, and they
will base their civil laws on the law of charity.
The awareness of the spirit world that surrounds us and its
action'upon the corporeal world reveals one of the powers of nature,
and consequently the key to a multitude of incomprehensible
phenomena both in the physical and mental realms.
Once science recognizes this new power, unknown to it
even today, it will correct a multitude of errors that have arisen
from attributing everything to one sole cause: matter. The
acknowledgement of this new cause in nature's phenomena will be
a lever for progress and will produce the effect of discovering an
entirely new agent. With the help of Spiritist law, science's horizon
will broaden, just as it broadened with the help of the law of gravity.
Once scholars from atop their cathedras start proclaiming
the existence of the spirit world and its actions on life's phenomena,
they will instill in our youth the counterweight to materialist ideas,
instead of predisposing them to denying the future.
In their lessons on classical philosophy, professors teach the
existence of the sou! and its attributes according to the various schools
of thought, but without any material proof. Isn't it strange that now
that such proofs have appeared, they are rejected and regarded as
superstitious by these same professors? Aren't they telling their students:
We teach you the existence of the soul, but there is nothing that proves
it? When a scholar transmits a tlieory on a scientific matter, he or she
zealously seeks and happily gathers all the data that may prove the
theory true. So, how could a professor of philosophy, whose duty it
is to prove to his or her students that they have a soul, regard with
disdain the means of providing them with a patent demonstration?
101. Let us say that spirits are incapable of teaching us
anything that we don't already know or that we cannot find out
about by ourselves; even then, the mere proof of the spirit world's
existence should be enough to bring about a revolution in thought.
Now, a revolution in thought necessarily leads to a revolution in the
order of things, and it is this revolution that Spiritism is preparing.
102. But spirits have done more than this. If their revelations
are surrounded by certain problems and demand detailed
precautions for them to be verified precisely, it is no less true that
enlightened spirits — when we know how to question them and
when they are permitted — can reveal unknown facts to us, provide
us with explanations of incomprehensible things and place us
on a more rapid path of progress. It is in this, especially, that the
complete and careful study of the Spiritist science is indispensable
in order not to ask of it what it cannot give; overstepping its
bounds is what exposes us to being deceived.
103. The smallest causes can produce the largest effects;
thus it is that, from a small seed arises a huge tree; that the fall of
an apple leads to the discovery of the law that governs worlds; that
frogs twitching on a plate revealed the galvanic force; it was also
thus that, from the ordinary phenomenon of the turning tables
arose proof of the invisible world, and from such proof a doctrine
that in just a few years has crossed the world and can regenerate it
simply by providing evidence for the reality of the future life.
104. In conformance with the axiom that there is nothing
new under the sun, Spiritism teaches little in way of absolutely new
truths. There are no absolute truths except those that are eternal;
since they are founded upon the laws of nature, such truths, taught
by Spiritism, have therefore existed throughout all ages. There, we
can find the seeds that a more complete study and more careful
observation have developed further. The truths taught by Spiritism
are thus consequences rather than discoveries.
Spiritism has neither discovered nor invented spirits,
nor has it discovered the spirit world, which has been believed
in throughout all ages; it has only demonstrated it by means of
physical phenomena and has shown it in its true light, thereby
freeing it from the prejudices and superstitious ideas that have
engendered doubt and disbelief.
Comment: Although incomplete, these explanations are
enough to show the basis upon which Spiritism rests, the character
of the manifestations, and the degree of trust that they may inspire
according to the circumstances.