What is Spiritism?

Allan Kardec

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Preliminary Remarks

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.

Concerning Spirits

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 communicationsbetweensoulsandthelivingpossibleiThis possibility 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 not scholars.

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 / Manifestations

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.

Concerning Mediums

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 the difficulty.

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 from them.

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 dispositions, etc.

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 medium, however.

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 imperfect mediums.

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 be necessary.

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 necessarily apocryphal.

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.

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