What is Spiritism?

Allan Kardec

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Visitor — Supposing that the matter is verified and Spiritism is recognized as a reality, what would its practical usefulness be? If we have done without it until now, it seems to me that we could continue to do without it and still live quite serenely.

A.K. - One could say the same about railroads and steam, without which we used to live very well.

If we understand "practical usefulness" to mean living well, making fortunes, knowing the future, discovering coal mines or hidden treasures, receiving inheritances or saving ourselves from the efforts of doing research, Spiritism serves no one; it can neither raise nor lower the stock market, be transformed into shares, or produce finished inventions ready to be utilized. But how many of our sciences would be useless from that point of view! How many there are with no advantages, commercially speaking! Humans got along perfectly well long before the discovery of all the new planets, before they knew that it is the earth that orbits and not the sun, before eclipses could be calculated, before they knew about the microscopic world, and a hundred other things. In order to live and grow their wheat, peasants don't have to know what a comet is. So why do scholars devote themselves to such research, and who would dare say they are just wasting their time?

Everything that serves to lift a corner of the veil aids the development of our intelligence and enlarges our range of ideas by enabling us to penetrate the laws of nature more deeply. Since the spirit world exists by virtue of one of such laws of nature, Spiritism enables us to know about it. It teaches us the influence that the invisible world exerts on the visible world and the connections between the two in the same way that astronomy teaches us the connections between the stars and the earth. It shows us that invisible world is one of the forces that govern the universe and contributes to maintaining overall harmony. But let's suppose that its usefulness ends there; apart from any moral doctrine, wouldn't the revelation of such a power still be very useful? So, is it really nothing that a whole new world is revealed to us, especially if knowledge about the spirit world puts us on the track of a multitude of up-to-now unsolvable problems? Is it nothing at all that it initiates us into the mysteries beyond the grave, which ought to hold some interest to us because each and everyone must take that fateful step sooner or later? Spiritism has another, more positive usefulness, however: the moral influence it exerts by necessity. Spiritism is the obvious proof of the soul's existence, of its individuality after death, its immortality, and its future destiny; thus, it is the destruction of materialism, not by means of reasoning, but by the facts.

We shouldn't ask Spiritism what it can give, nor look for something in it that is beyond its beneficial purpose. Before the serious progress made in astronomy, people believed in astrology. Would it be reasonable to claim that astronomy is useless behause we can no longer find the prediction of our future in the influence of the heavenly bodies? In the same way that astronomy has dethroned the astrologers, Spiritism has dethroned the soothsayers, sorcerers and fortune-tellers. Spiritism is to magic what astronomy is to astrology, and chemistry is to alchemy.

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