What is Spiritism?

Allan Kardec

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Visitor - I would agree, sir, that from a philosophical point of view, the Spiritist doctrine is perfectly rational. But there is still the matter of the manifestations, which cannot be resolved except by the phenomena themselves; it is precisely the reality of these phenomena that many people dispute and you should not find it surprising that they would like to witness them.

A.K. - I do think that is quite natural; however, since I want to make the most of this opportunity, I will explain what conditions are best for observing the phenomena, and especially for understanding them. Those who do not want to observe them under such conditions do not have a true desire to learn, so it would be useless to waste our time on them.

You will also agree, sir, that it would be strange indeed if a rational philosophy had emerged, from illusory and fabricated occurrences. In good logic, the reality of the effect implies the reality of the cause; if one is true, the other cannot be false, because where there is no tree, no fruit can be gathered.

It is true that not everyone has been able to confirm the phenomena because not everyone has met the conditions needed to observe them or has had the necessary patience and perseverance. The same applies here as in all the sciences: what some do not do, others will. Every day, we accept astronomical calculations without having made them ourselves. Be that as it may, if you find a particular philosophy to be good, you will accept it as you would any other, but you will reserve your opinion about the ways and means that have led to it, or at least accept it as a hypothesis until fully verified.

The elements of conviction are not the same for everyone; what convinces some makes no impression on others - and that is why we must have a little of everything. But it is wrong to believe that physical experiences are the only means of convincing someone. I have seen persons unmoved by the most remarkable phenomena but convinced by a simple written response. When we see a phenomenon that we do not understand, the more extraordinary it is the more suspicious it seems, and our minds always look for an ordinary cause behind it. If we do understand it, however, we accept it more easily because it has a reason for being and the extraordinary and supernatural vanish. Indeed, the explanations I have just given you in this interview are far from being complete; but as abridged as they may be, I am persuaded that they will give you something to think about; and if circumstances enable you to witness any incidents of manifestation, you will see them with a less biased eye because you will have a basis for your reasoning.

There are two aspects to Spiritism: the experimental part, involving the manifestations, and the philosophical doctrine. I am. visited by people every day who have not seen anything but who believe as firmly as I do simply because of the study they have made of the philosophical part; for them, the phenomena involving the manifestations is secondary. The foundation is the doctrine, the science. They see it as so great, so rational, that they find in it everything conducive to satisfying their inner yearnings, apart from the manifestations. They have concluded that even if there were no manifestations at all the Spiritist Doctrine would nonetheless be the one that best resolves a multitude of problems thought unsolvable. How many have stated that similar ideas had been brewing in their minds but had remained unclear. Spiritism stated such ideas precisely and gave them a form, and it was like a flash of light. This explains the number of adherents won over by a single reading of The Spirits Book. Do you think that would have been the case if Spiritism hadn't gone beyond the turning and talking tables?

Visitor - You were right in saying that the turning tables gave rise to a philosophical doctrine, and I am far from suspecting the consequences that could arise from something regarded as a simple object of curiosity. I can now see how vast the field opened up by your system is.

A.K. - I would stop you there, sir; you accord me way too much honor by attributing this system to me, because it is not mine. It has been deduced in full from the Spirits' teachings. I only saw, observed and coordinated, and I am now trying to help others understand what I myself do; that is the full lot that has fallen to me. There is this crucial difference between Spiritism and other philosophical systems: the latter are the work of persons who were enlightened to varying degrees, whereas personally, I haven't been worthy of inventing one single principle regarding what you attribute to me. They say: the philosophy of Plato, Descartes and Leibnitz; they will not say: the doctrine of Allan Kardec. That is fortunate because what importance could a name have in such a serious matter? Spiritism has vastly superior auxiliaries, next to whom we are but atoms.

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