Allan Kardec

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General description of the state of the guilty on their return to the spirit-world dictated at a meeting of the Spiritist Society of Paris, October 1860.

“Wicked, selfish, obstinate spirits are given over immediately after death to harrowing doubts in regard to their present and future destiny. They look around them, and as they do not at once perceive any object on which to wreak their evil tendencies, they are seized with despair, for isolation and inaction are intolerable to evil spirits, they do not elevate their sight to the areas inhabited by the pure spirits. They next begin to examine more carefully the surroundings amidst which they find themselves; they soon perceive the prostration of the weaker spirits who are undergoing punishment, and they attach themselves to these as to a prey, arming themselves against them with the memory of their past misdeeds, of which they remind them incessantly by mocking gestures. This derisory pantomime not sufficing for their malice, they swoop down upon the Earth like famished vultures. They seek out, among mankind, the souls they think most likely to offer an easy road to their temptations, they take possession of such, stimulating their cupidity, striving to extinguish their faith in God, until, having obtained the mastery of their conscience, they draw them into every sort of evil.

The backward spirit who is thus able to exercise his malice is almost happy; he only suffers when he is unable to act, or when his efforts are frustrated by the action of superior spirits.

Meantime, centuries succeed centuries; the evil spirit, at length, finds himself suddenly invaded by darkness. His circle of action closes around him like a prison; his conscience, hitherto passive, pierces him with its torturing stings. Inactive, and carried away by the whirlwind of regrets and apprehensions, he wanders aimlessly, with hair bristling from fright, as per the scriptures. Presently, a sense of emptiness penetrates his being; a frightful void seems to yawn around him; the moment for commencing his expiation has come. Reincarnation stares him in the face, with all its horrors; he beholds, as in a mirage, the terrible trials to which he is about to be subjected; he would fain shrink back, but he is drawn onwards by a force superior to his own. Hurled down into the yawning abyss of fleshly life, he sinks through the horror of emptiness until the vale of oblivion envelopes him like a shroud.

Born again on Earth, he lives, he acts, he is again guilty of evil deeds; he is tormented by vague reminiscences that he cannot account for, by fitful presentiments that make him tremble, but that do not yet suffice to induce him to quit the path of evil. Extended on a prison couch, or on a luxurious bed (what does it matter?), the dying reprobate becomes aware, under his seeming unconsciousness, of a whole world of forgotten thoughts and sensations that are coming to life and moving within him. Under his closed eyelids, he sees a light that is not of earth; he hears strange sounds; his soul, about to quit his body, is uneasy and agitated, his stiffened hands clutch vainly at the coverings under which he is lying. He tries to speak; he would fain shriek, to those about him, “Hold me back! I see chastisement!” But the power of speech no longer exists for him; death settles on his pale lips; and those about him whisper “He is at rest! Georges”

A truer, more eloquent, more terrible picture of the fate of the evildoer was never drawn. Is there any need of adding, to the horrible sufferings thus portrayed, the phantasmagoria of material flames and physical tortures?

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