What is Spiritism?

Allan Kardec

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116. At what moment does the union between the soul and body occur?

At conception, the spirit, although still in the errant state, becomes connected by a fluidic tie to the body with which it is to unite. This tie tightens as the body develops. From then on, the spirit is overcome by a sort of confusion that continues to increase. At the time of birth, this confusion is complete and the spirit loses its self- awareness; it regains its ideas gradually, starting at the moment of the child's first breath. At this point, the union is complete and definitive.

117. What is the intellectual state of the child's soul at the moment of its birth?

The soul's intellectual and moral state is the same as before its union with the body; that is, the soul possesses all the ideas it had acquired previously, but due to the confusion that accompanies its change, its ideas are momentarily in a latent state. They gradually awaken, but manifest only in proportion to the development of the child's organs.

118. What is the origin of innate ideas, precocious dispositions, and instinctive aptitudes for an art or science without having undergone anyformal instruction?

Innate ideas can have only two possible sources: the creation of some souls more perfect than others, in which case they would have been created at the same time as the body, or the previous progress accomplished prior to the union between the soul and the body. Since the former is incompatible with God's justice, that leaves only the latter. Innate ideas are the result of knowledge acquired during previous existences, and which remain in a state of intuition to serve as the basis for acquiring new ideas.

119. How can geniuses appear in social classes deprived of any intellectual education?

This fact shows that innate ideas are independent of the environment in which people are educated. Both environment and education develop innate ideas, but they do not provide them. Persons of genius are incarnations of already-advanced spirits, who have already progressed significantly. Thus, education may provide the instruction they still lack, but it cannot provide genius where there Is none.

120. Why are there children who are instinctively good in a wicked environment and in spite of bad examples, whereas others are instinctively evil in a good environment and in spite ofgood counsels?

It is the result of already-accomplished moral progress, just as innate ideas are the result of intellectual progress.

121. Of two children of the same parents and educated under the same conditions, why may one be intelligent and the other slow, one good and the other evil? Why is it that the child of aperson of genius is sometimes a dullardand thechildofa dullardaperson ofgenius?

This fact finds its support in the origin of innate ideas. Moreover, it shows that the soul of such a child in no way proceeds from the parents; otherwise, in virtue of the saying that the part is of the same nature as the whole, the parents would transmit their qualities and defects to their children, just as they transmit the principle of their corporeal qualities. In procreation, only the body proceeds from the body, whereas the souls are independent of one another.

122. If souls are independent of one another, where does the mutual love of parentsfor their children comefrom?

Spirits are brought together out of affinity, and birth into this or that family does not happen by chance. Most often it depends on the choice of the spirit who rejoins those whom it used to love in the spirit world or during previous lifetimes. Furthermore, parents have the mission to aid the progress of the spirits who incarnate in their children; and to encourage them, God inspires them to mutual affection; however, they often fail at their mission and are punished as a result.

123. Why are there badparents and bad children?
They are spirits who are brought together as a family not out of affinity, but as a trial, and often as a punishment for what they were in a previous existence. One parent is given a bad child because he himself or she herself was perhaps a bad child; in order to undergo the punishment of talion, the child is given a bad parent because he or she was a bad parent.

124. Why do we find certainpersons born into a lowly condition possessed of instincts of dignity and greatness, while others, born into the upper classes, display instincts of a lower nature?

This is an example of an intuitive memory of their character and the social position they occupied in a previous existence.

125.What is the cause of the sympathies and antipathies between persons who meetfor the first time?

They are most often persons who once knew and perhaps loved each other in a previous existence, and who, upon meeting once again, are attracted to each other.

Instinctive antipathies also result from previous relationships.

These two sentiments may have a different cause, however. The perispirit radiates around the body a type of atmosphere imbued with the good or bad qualities of the incarnate spirit. By means of the contact of their spiritual fluids, two persons who meet experience the resultant feeling, which may be either pleasant or unpleasant. Their spiritual fluids tend either to intermingle or to repel each other according to their similar or dissimilar nature.

This is how the phenomenon of thought transmission may be explained. Through the contact of their spiritual fluids, two souls understand each other somehow. They are in tune with each other and comprehend each other without even speaking.

126. Why don'tpeople remember theirprevious lives? Wouldn't such remembrance be necessaryfor theirfutureprogress?

(See "Forgetfulness of the Past" - Dialogue with Visitor, above) 127. What is the origin of the sentiment called the conscience? It is the intuitive remembrance of the progress accomplished

in previous lives and of resolutions made by the spirit before incarnation - resolutions it does not always have the strength to keep once incarnated.

128. Do human beings have fee will or are they subject tofatalism? If their conduct were subject to fatalism, they would have no responsibility for the evil or merit for the good they do; hence, any punishment would be unjust and any recompense senseless. Humans' free will is a consequence of God's justice, the attribute that gives them their dignity and lifts them above all other creatures. This is so very true that the esteem, they have for one another is due to their free will. Those who lose it accidentally because of sickness, insanity, chemical dependency or mental impairment are pitied or treated with contempt.

Materialism, which makes all the moral and intellectual faculties depend on the physical body, reduces humans to the status of being machines without free will, and consequently, with no responsibility for the evil or merit for the good they do.

129. Did God create evil?

God did not create evil but established laws, and these laws are always good because God is supremely good. Those who obeyed them faithfully would be perfectly happy. But since spirits have free will, they do not always obey them; evil is the result of their breaking these laws.

130. Are humans born good or evil?

One must distinguish between the soul and the person. The soul is created simple and ignorant, meaning neither good nor evil, but because of its free will it is susceptible to taking either the good path or the evil one; in other words, to obeying or breaking God's laws. The person is born either good or evil according to whether he or she is the incarnation of an evolved or unevolved spirit.

131. What is the origin ofgood and evil on the earth, and why is there more evil than good?

The origin of evil on the earth is the result of the imperfection of the spirits incarnated on it. Because the earth is a less evolved world, the predominance of evil derives from the fact that most of the spirits that inhabit it are themselves less evolved or have progressed little. On more highly evolved worlds, where only purified spirits are allowed to incarnate, evil is either nearly or completely unknown.

132. What is the cause of the ills that afflict humankind? The earth may be considered as both a world of instruction for little-evolved spirits and one of expiation for guilty spirits. Humankind's ills are the consequence of the moral imperfection of incarnate spirits. Through the contact of their vices, they make themselves mutually unhappy and punish one another.

133. Why do bad individuals frequently prosper while good ones are the target of all sorts ofafflictions?

For those who see nothing but the present life and who believe it is the only one, this fact must seem a supreme injustice. This is not the case, however, when one considers the plurality of existences and the brevity of each when compared to eternity. The study of Spiritism shows that the prosperity of bad people has awful consequences for them in subsequent existences; that the afflictions of individuals of the good are, on the contrary, followed by a great and lasting happiness if they have borne their afflictions with resignation; for them, it is like one unfortunate day in a lifetime of prosperity.

134. Why are some born into destitution and others into opulence? Why are there persons horn blind, hearing and speech-impaired or afflicted with incurable diseases, whereas others have every physical advantage imaginable? Is this an effect of chance or ofProvidence?

If it is an effect of chance, it cannot be one of Providence; if it is the effect of Providence, people might ask: where is God's goodness and justice? Clearly, it is because they do not understand the cause behind such ills that many are led to blame God. It is understandable that those who become poverty-ridden or infirm due to their imprudence or their excesses should be punished wherein they have sinned; however, if the soul is created at the same time as the body, what has it done to deserve such afflictions from birth or to be exempt from them? If we acknowledge the justice of God, we must acknowledge that these effects have a cause; if this cause does not lie in this life, it must lie in a previous one because in all things the cause must precede the effect. Hence, the soul must have lived before and it must have deserved the expiation. Spiritist studies have, in fact, shown us that more than one person born into poverty was once rich and. respected in a previous existence, but made bad use of the wealth that God enabled him or her to administer; that more than one person born into abjectness was once proud and powerful; that quite often those who commanded with harshness are submitted to the mistreatment and humiliation that they forced others to bear.

A life of pain is not always one of expiation; it is quite often a trial chosen by the spirit itself, who sees it as a way to evolve more rapidly if it bears it with courage. Wealth is also a trial more perilous than poverty due to the temptations and abuses it arouses. The examples of those who have lived also show that it is a trial from which few manage to emerge victorious.

Differences in social positions would be all the more unjust - when they do not result from our conduct in the present life - if they didn't have a means of compensation. It is the conviction of that truth, acquired through Spiritism, which gives us the strength to endure life's vicissitudes and to accept our lot without envying the lot of others.

135. Why are there severely mentally impairedpersons?
Their situation would hardly be at all reconcilable with God's justice if the theory of a single existence were true. No matter how miserable the situations individuals are born into may be, they can rise above them by means of intelligence and labor; mentally impaired persons, however, are destined from birth to death to suffer brutality and contempt.There is no possible compensation for them. So, why would their soul have been created that way?

Spiritist studies of the mentally impaired have shown that their soul is as intelligent as the souls of the unimpaired; that such infirmity is an expiation inflicted on spirits for having abused their intelligence in a previous life, and that they suffer cruelly by feeling imprisoned by bonds they cannot break and by the contempt to which they are subjected, when they may have been lauded for their intelligence in a previous existence.

136. What state is the soul in during sleep?

During sleep, only the body rests; the spirit does not sleep. Experiments have shown that during this time the spirit enjoys its complete freedom and the full use of its faculties. It takes advantage of the body's rest and the times in which its presence is not needed in order to act freely and go wherever it wishes. During its lifetime, no matter how far it may travel from the body, the spirit remains connected to it by a fluidic tie that serves to call it back whenever its presence in the body is needed. This tie is broken only by death.

137'. What causes dreams?
Dreams result from the spirit's freedom during sleep and are sometimes the remembrance of places and persons the spirit has seen or visited while in that state.

138. Where do presentiments come from?
They are the spirit's vague and intuitive memories of what it learned during times of freedom; sometimes, they are secret warnings given by benevolent spirits.

139. Why are there both primitive and civilizedpeople?
Apart from the preexistence of the soul, this question would be insolvable, unless we were to believe that God created primitive and civilized souls, which would be a denial of his justice. Furthermore, reason refuses to believe that, after death, the soul of the primitive either remains forever in its little- evolved state or that it is in the same position as the soul of the enlightened individual.
If one accepts the idea that there is one starting point for all souls — the only doctrine compatible with God's justice - the simultaneous presence of primitivism and civilization is a material fact that demonstrates the progress that some have achieved and that others are capable of achieving. The primitive's soul thus will attain the level of the civilized soul with time. However, since primitives die every day, their souls cannot attain such a level except through subsequent incarnations more and more perfected and suitable for their advancement, and after going through all the intermediary levels between the two extremes.

140. Would it be possible, according to some people's way of thinking, that the soul incarnates only once but then goes on to accomplish further progress in the spirit state or in other realms?

This proposition would be acceptable if on the earth there were only people of the same moral and intellectual level, in which case we could say that the earth is meant for only one specific level; the exact opposite seems obvious, however. In fact, it would be incomprehensible that primitives could not become civilized on earth, since there are many advanced souls incarnated, on the same globe. From this we must conclude that the possibility for the plurality of earthly existences results from the very examples we have right before our eyes. If it were otherwise, we would have to explain: First, why would only earth have the monopoly on incarnation? Second, if such a monopoly were a fact, then why are there souls incarnated at every level of advancement?

141. In the midst of civilized societies, why are there individuals of a level of ferociousness similar to the most barbaric primitives?

They are little-evolved spirits who have left their former barbaric cultures to reincarnate in an environment unfamiliar to them, and in which they feel out of place, just as a boor would feel if suddenly brought into the environment of high society.

Comment: It would be hard to believe, without denying God's justice and goodness, that the soul of a hardened criminal could have the same point of departure in this life as an individual full of every virtue. If the soul were not previous to the body, the soul of the criminal would be as new as the soul of the moral individual; why then would one be good and the other evil?

142. Where do the distinctive characteristics of the various cultures comefrom?

From spirits who share more or less the same tastes and inclinations and who incarnate in a sympathetic environment - and often in the same environment - where they can satisfy such inclinations.

143. How do cultures progress and decay?
If the soul were created at the same time as the body, the humans of today would be as new and as primitive as the humans of the Middle Ages. But why, then, are their habits more benign and their minds more developed? If in the death of the body the soul leaves the earth for good, we must ask further: What would be the result of the work done to improve a culture if it had to be recommenced with the new souls arriving each and every day?

Spirits incarnate into a sympathetic environment and according to the level oftheir advancement. For example, a person in one culture, who has progressed sufficiently but who did not find in that culture an environment corresponding to the level he or she has reached, will incarnate in a more advanced culture. As a generation moves a step forward, through syrnpatihy it attracts new arrivals of more advanced spirits who perhaps might have previously lived in that same country and progressed. It is thus that, step by step, a nation advances. If the majority of the new arrivals were of a less evolved nature, and if the former inhabitants departing every day did not then return to a worse environment, the culture would decay and end up dying out.

Comment: Such questions give rise to others which find their solution in the same principle; for example, where does the diversity of cultures on earth come from? Are there cultures that rebel against progress? Is the black race capable of attaining the level of the European? Is slavery useful to the progress of less evolved cultures? How can the transformation of humankind, take place?

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