THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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INTRODUCTION
1. THE OBJECTIVE OF THIS WORK


The Gospel can be divided into five parts: the events in the life of Christ; the miracles; the prophecies; the words taken by the Church on which they based their dogmas; the moral teachings. The first four have been the object of controversies. But the last, however, has remained constantly inviolate. Before this divine code even incredulity bows down. This is the common ground where all cults may be united, the flag under which all may gather, whatever their creeds may be, because it has never been a matter of religious dispute, which always and in all places has originated from dogmatism. Moreover, if it had been discussed, then all cults would have found their own condemnation within it, seeing that, in the majority, they have held on to the more mystical rather than the moral part, which demands an intimate reform from each one. Specially prepared for mankind, it constitutes a code of rules on how to behave in every circumstance of private and public life and offers the basic principles for all social relations, founded on rigid justice. It is, finally and above all, the infallible route to lasting happiness and the uplifting of a comer of the veil that hides the future life. This is what forms the exclusive objective of this work.

Everyone admires the moral behind the Gospel; everyone proclaims its sublimeness and the need we have of it. However, of the many who proclaim their faith, believing what others have said or relying on maxims which have become proverbs, few know the basis and even fewer understand it or are able to deduce the consequences of it. In many cases the reason for this is in the difficulty of understanding the Gospel, which for many is quite unintelligible. The allegorical form used and the intentional mysticism of the language make it something we read because we feel we ought to, because our conscience tells us to or because we are obliged to, as one would read prayers, without understanding them and consequently without taking any benefit from them. In this way the moral precepts go unnoticed, scattered here and there between a mass of narrative. This makes it impossible to get the general idea of the whole or to take these ideas as specific subjects for reading and meditation.

It is true that various works have already been written concerning the evangelic moral. But after being put into modem prose they have lost their primitive simplicity, which at the same time constitutes their charm and authenticity. Many others also deal with the best known maxims reduced to the simplest form of proverb. These then are no more than aphorisms, deprived of part of their value and interest doe to the lack of accompanying accessories and the circumstances of the enunciation.

In order to avoid these undesirabilities, we have collected together in this work all the subjects, so to say, that go to form a universal moral code without distinction as to creed. In these citations we have kept all that is useful to the development of these ideas, putting aside only that which does not pertain directly to the matter. Apart from this we have kept scrupulously to the translations by Sacy and to the division of the verses. But instead of following a chronological order, which would have been impossible and have made no sense, we have methodically grouped and classified the various maxims according to their respective natures so that they fallow on, one from the other, as much as possible. Indication of chapters and verses permit reference to the original texts whenever desired.

These details refer only to the material side of our work, which an its own would be of secondary importance. The main objective was to put these teachings within easy reach of everybody by means of clear explanations, especially those passages which have, until now, remained obscure and so unfold the full consequences of these teachings and the manner in which they may be applied Tu. all walks of life. This is what we have attempted to do together with the help of the Good Spirits who assist us.

Many paints in the Gospel, the Bible and in the writings of the sacred authors, are in general unintelligible, some even appearing nonsensical for lack of key which would help in understanding their true meaning. This key is to be found in its mast complete form within Spiritism, as those who have already made a serious study of it can verify, and as many more in the future will also come to recognise. Spiritism is to be found throughout ancient times and repeatedly during the different epochs of humanity. We find vestiges in many places in the form of writings, in beliefs and in monuments. This is the reason why at the same time it is opening new horizons for the future, it is also projecting a no less brilliant light upon the mysteries of the past.

As a compliment to each precept we have added some well chosen instructions from amongst those dictated, in various countries and to different mediums, by the Spirits. If they bad been taken from only one origin they would probably have suffered the influence either of the person or the ambient, whereas the diversification of origins proves that the Spirits give teachings without distinction and that no one person is specially privileged. *
This work is for the use of everyone. From it we may all discover the means by which we may apply Christ's morals to our daily lives and how best to go about it. This applies very specially to Spiritists. Thanks to the relationship between man and the invisible world, which has henceforth been established on a permanent basis, the law of the Gospel which the Spirits have taught to all nations, will no longer be a matter of dead words because each one will be able to understand them and will see themselves incessantly compelled to put them into practice, according to the counselling of the Spiritual guides. These instructions coming from Spirit are really the voices from Heaven who have come to enlighten mankind and invite him to put the Gospel into practice.


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* It would have been possible, without doubt, to have presented many more communications from Spirit on each subject, all of wich were received in cities and centres other than those cited. We wished, however, to avoid monotony and useless repetition and so have limited our choice to those which, from their base and form, apply more adequately within the plan of this work, reserving for future publication those we have not been able to use here.
With respect to the mediums, we have refrained from naming them. In most cases they themselves asked not to he mentioned and so we have made no exceptions. It is also a fact that the names of these mediums would not add more value to the work of the Spirits. The mentioning of them by name would only be an incentive to personal pride, to which serious mediums give no importance. They understand fully that their part in the work being merely passive, the value of the communication in no way exalts their personal merit. It would be foolish to allow oneself to become vain about an intelligent work to which one had only lent mechanical assistance.


2. THE AUTHORITY BEHIND THE SPIRITIST DOCTRINE
The Universal Control of the Spirit Teachings



If the Spiritist Doctrine were of a purely human conception it would offer no more guarantee than the enlightenment of those who actually conceived it. But no one on Earth could seriously contemplate the pretention of possessing the exclusive and absolute truth. If the Spirits who made these revelations had manifested to only one man we would have no guarantee of their origin since we would need to believe, on his word alone, what he said he had received as teachings from them. If we accepted perfect sincerity on his part, the most he could do would be to convince his circle of acquaintances. He would be able to form a sect, but never be able to form a world congregation.

God wished the new revelations to reach mankind by the quickest and most authentic path, so He entrusted the Spirits to deliver them from pole to pole, manifesting everywhere without conferring the exclusive privilege of hearing these words to any one individual. One person might be deceived, could even deceive themself, but this could not happen when millions of people see and hear the same thing. This constitutes a guarantee for each one and for all. For the rest, it is possible to make one man disappear, but it is not possible to make everyone disappear. It is possible to bum books, but you cannot bum Spirits, and even if all the books were burnt, the base of the doctrine would still be inexhaustible because it is not to be found on Earth and would reappear in every place so that all might partake of it. If there is a shortage of men to diffuse it, there will always be Spirits whose action reaches everyone and even those whom no person can reach.

So then, it is the Spirits themselves who do the propagating with the help of innumerable mediums, disseminating all over the world. If there had been but one interpreter, however favoured be might have been, Spiritism would barely be known. To whatever class be belonged, that interpreter would have been the object of caution to many people and not every nation would have accepted him, whereas the Spirits communicate to the four corners of the Earth, to all peoples, to all sects, to all parties and everyone accepts teem. Spiritism has no nationality and does not stem from any known cult that might exist; nor is it imposed by any social class seeing that any person may receive instructions from parents, relatives and friends from the beyond. This is haw it had to be accomplished if it was to lead all mankind towards brotherhood. If it did not maintain itself in neutral territory it would nurture dissensions instead of pacifying them.

The force of Spiritism, as well as the cause of its rapid spread, resides in this universal teaching. Where the word of one solitary person, even with the help of the press, would take centuries to become known by all, millions of voices are making themselves beard simultaneously in every corner of this planet. All are proclaiming the same principles and transmitting them on all levels, from the scholarly down to the most ignorant, in order that no one be disinherited. So far, this is an advantage that no other doctrine bas to offer. If Spiritism then be the truth, it is not afraid of being unwanted by man, nor of modern revolutions, nor of the physical subversions of this globe, because nothing can touch the Spirits.

This is not however the only advantage which comes from this exceptional situation. It also offers an unattackable guarantee against all misgivings which might arise, be it from someone’s ambition or be it through the contradictions of some Spirits. We cannot deny that these contradictions are obstacles, but they bring their own remedy with them alongside the ill.

We know that Spirits, doe to differences in their various individual capacities, do not possess all the truth and do not claim to. It is not given to all to be able to penetrate certain mysteries. The knowledge of each one is proportional to their evolution. Ordinary Spirits know nothing more than does Man himself, but amongst them, as amongst men and women, are those who are presumptious and falsely wise, who think they know everything, boot who in fact are ignorant; these are the systematical ones who take their own ideas to be the truth. In short, it is only the highly evolved Spirits, those who are almost completely dematerialised, who find themselves free from earthly ideas and prejudices. It is also known that less scrupulous Spirits do not hesitate to deceive by taking names which do not belong to them in order to impose their utopian ideas. As a result of all this and in relation to all that is outside the exclusive field of moral education, the revelations that any one medium may receive will have an individual character, without any stamp of authenticity and should be considered as personal opinions, from this or that Spirit, and it would be imprudent to accept them or thoughtlessly propagate them as absolute truths.

The first corroborative test to be undertaken is without doubt that of reason, to which it is wise to submit, without exception, all that comes from Spirit. Any theory in evident contradiction to good sense, or against rigorous logic, or positive facts that have been previously acquired should be rejected, however apparently respectable be the name by which it is signed. This test will no doubt be left incomplete due to the lack of illumination of some people and the tendency of many to take their own opinions as judgements of truth. That being the case, what are those who deposit absolutely no faith in themselves to do? They should seek what seems to be the majority and take this as a guide. This then, is the manner in which you should proceed when judging what is said by the Spirits, who are the first to offer the means of so doing.

Complete concordance of Spirit teaching is the best proof of authenticity. However, it is important that this be received only under determined conditions. The weakest type of concordance is obtained when the medium, of his own accord, interrogates many different Spirits about a doubtful point. It is evident that, if the medium is under an obsessing influence or dealing with a mystifying Spirit, then that Spirit may say the same thing under different names. Neither is it any adequate guarantee to conformity when communications are received by different mediums at the same centre because they may be under the same influences.

Only one sure guarantee exists for spirit teachings: This is the concordance that exists between revelations which have been received spontaneously by a large number of mediums not known to each other and located in different places.

It is understood that we are not referring to those communications which deal with secondary interests, but those referring to the basic principles of the doctrine. Experience has taught us that when a new principle is to be presented, it always happens spontaneously in different places at the same time and in the same way, if not in actual form at least in general content.

On the other hand, if by any chance a Spirit formulates eccentric doctrine based exclusively on its own ideas and excluding the truth, you may be sure that this idea will remain confined and undoubtedly will collapse when confronted with instructions received from many other places, similar to many examples which are already known. It was this exclusiveness which destroyed all the biased doctrine which sprang up at the time of the initiation of Spiritism, when each one explained the phenomena according to their own beliefs, before the Laws that govern the relationship between the visible and invisible worlds became known.

That is what we have based ourself on when formulating a principle for the doctrine. We do not insist on it being true just because it might be in accordance with our own ideas. Neither do we have the least desire to uphold ourself as being the sole possessor of the whole truth and we have never said to anyone: "Believe in this because it is I who tell you". We consider that our own opinion is nothing more than personal, which might be true or false, as we are no more infallible than anyone else. It is not because we were taught a principle that we believe it to be true; it is doe to the fact that it has received the sanction of concordance.

The position in which we find ourself is that of receiving communications from almost a thousand serious Spiritual Centres, scattered over highly diversified areas of this planet This gives us the possibility of observing on which principles concordance is established. It is this concordance which has guided us till today, and it is the one which will go on guiding us in new fields still to be explored. We have noticed while studying these communications, coming from France and outside, that from the very special nature of the information a new path is being sought and that the moment bas arrived to take a step forward. These revelations, many times given through veiled words, have frequently passed unperceived by many who receive them. Others have thought themselves to be the sole receivers. Taken in isolation, we would have given them no importance and it is only the coincidence which proves their seriousness. Later, when these new teachings reach the public, there will be many who will remember having received the same orientation. This general movement which we are studying and observing, together with the assistance of our Spiritual Guides, is what helps us to judge whether it is the correct moment to do something or not.

This universal verification constitutes the guarantee of the future unity of Spiritism and will annul all contradictory theories. It is here that in the future we shall find our criteria for the truth. The cause of the success of the doctrine as put forth in THE SPIRITS' BOOK and THE MEDIUMS' BOOK was due to the fact that everybody bad received confirmation, direct from Spirit, of what these books contain. Whereas if all the Spirits bad come to contradict them they would have received the same fate suffered by others who expounded imaginary concepts. Not even the support of the press would have saved them from shipwreck. But on the contrary, deprived as they were of this support, they nevertheless opened new paths and have made rapid advancement. This is because the Spirits offered their support and goodwill which not only compensated but surpassed the lack of goodwill an the part of Man. This is what will happen to all ideas, whether emanated from Man or Spirit, which prevail even in the face of this confrontation and this is the final test whose strength no one can deny.

Suppose it pleased some Spirits to dictate a book, under whatever title you choose, offering contrary teachings; let us suppose their intention was hostile, with the object of discrediting the doctrine and maliciously provoking apocryphal communications. What influence could these writings exercise if they were refuted by all other Spirits? Anyone wishing to launch a doctrine in their own name should first seek assurance in combined concordance from the Spirits. There is no comparison between a system devised by only one person to that of another devised by everyone What can the arguments of slanderers, wishing only to belittle, achieve against the opinion of the masses, if millions of friendly voices from space make themselves heard in opposition in every comer of the Universe, as well as in family homes?

What happens to the innumerable publications which have the pretention of destroying Spiritism? Which of them has as much as caused a hesitation in its march? Till now no one has considered the matter from this point of view without forgetting the most important fact: each one has been depending on themselves, without counting on the Spirits.

The principle of concordance is also a guarantee against any alterations to which Spiritism might be subjected by other sects wishing to take possession of it for their own ends, and so change it to suit their own ideas. Whosoever tries to deviate Spiritism from its providential objective will never succeed, for the simple reason that the Spirits, as a universal body, will cause any ideas contrary to the truth to fall.

From all this stands out the main truth, which is that he who wishes to oppose the established and sanctioned ideas could, to be sure, cause a localised perturbation lasting but a short while, but could never dominate the whole, not even for a moment and certainly not over a period of time. We should also like to point out that instructions given by Spirits on points not yet elucidated by the doctrine should not be considered as law, until these instructions have been duly isolated and proven. Neither should they be accepted except with all doe reserve and under the heading of 'awaiting confirmation'. From this we understand the need for greater prudence before making any such communication public. But if they are deemed fit to be publicised they should be presented as mere individual opinions, possibly true, but awaiting confirmation. It will be necessary to wait for this confirmation before proclaiming it as a complete truth, unless you wish to be accused of levity or of irreflected cruelty.

The Superior Spirits proceed with extreme wisdom in their revelations. They never touch on the most important questions, except gradually, until our intelligence shows itself to accept a more advanced truth and when circumstances show themselves to be favourable to a new idea. This is why they did not reveal everything from the outset, and still have not told everything. They never give themselves to impatience, like those who want to eat the fruit before it is ripe. It is useless to try to hurry things forward beyond the time designated by Providence for its revealing, and if you do try, the serious Spirits will always deny their assistance. Those Spirits who are frivolous are not the least preoccupied with the truth and consequently will give answers to anything and everything. So it is in this manner that whenever a question is premature, contradictory answers will always be found.

The principles mentioned above have not been formed as the result of a personal theory; they are consequences which have been forced upon us from the varying conditions within which Spirit communication is manifest. It is quite evident that if one Spirit says one thing and thousands of other Spirits say something different, we presume the truth does not lie with the solitary communicant. For someone to imagine they possess the troth against all the rest would be quite illogical, be it man or Spirit. The really ponderous Spirits, if they do not feel completely or sufficiently clarified about any subject never give a definite answer, but declare that they are merely giving their own point of view and suggest that we await the necessary confirmation.

However large, beautiful or just an idea appears, it is impossible to unite opinions right from the first moment. The conflicts which arise in this case are the inevitable consequences which such a movement would cause, and they are necessary so that the truth may be emphasized and the sooner this happens the better, so that any false ideas may be discarded. Any Spiritists who feels worried by this situation may be tranquil, as all these isolated claims will fall before the enormous and discerning force of universal concordance.

It is not the opinion of any man which will produce unity, but the unanimous voices of the Spirits; it will not be any man, least of all myself, who will destroy the Spiritist orthodoxy, neither will it be a Spirit wishing to impose whatever it may be. This unity will be accomplished by the universal gathering of Spirits who communicate throughout the world, by order of God. This is the essential character of the Spiritist Doctrine; this is its force and its authority. God desired that His Law be set upon an immovable base and so did not trust the se fundamentals to only one fragile being.

Before such a powerful tribunal, where neither conspiracy, rivalries, sects or nations are known, all opposition, ambition and those who seek individual supremacy will fall. We ourselves will fall if we try to substitute our own ideas for those of God. He alone will decide all lawful questions, impose silence an disagreement and give reason to those who have it. Before this imposing accord, from the voices of Heaven, what value has an opinion of a mere man or that of one Spirit? It makes no more impression than a drop of water in the ocean and even less than a child’s voice in a tempest.

Universal opinion, like that of a supreme judge, is the one which is pronounced last, being formed from all the individual opinions. If one of these contains the truth it merely shows its own relative weight in the balance and if it is false it cannot prevail against the rest. In this immense concourse all individuality disappears and this constitutes yet another disappointment for man's pride.

This harmonious assemblage is already being formed and before the turn of this century we shall see its full brightness shining forth in such a manner as to dissipate all doubt. The field is prepared and from now an patent voices will receive the mission of making themselves heard in order to congregate Man under one banner. But until this actually happens, all those who fluctuate between two opposing points of view can observe in which way general opinion forms. This will be the correct indication as to the declaration of the majority of the Spirits an the varying subjects about which they offer orientation, and is an even more accurate sign as to which of the two systems will prevail.

3. HISTORIC FACTS


In order to better understand the Gospel, it is necessary to know the true meaning of many of the words used which bear relation to the customs and the Jewish society of the time. Some of these words no longer have the same meaning and have frequently been misinterpreted, which in tom has led to uncertainty. When the full meanings are explained, it shows the real sense behind certain maxims which, at first sight, appear rather strange.

SAMARITANS - After the division of the ten tribes, Samaria became the capital of the dissident kingdom of Israel. Destroyed and rebuilt various times, under Roman rule it became the administrative head of Samaria, one of the four divisions of Palestine. Herod the Great beautified Samaria with sumptuous monuments and to gratify Augusto, gave it the name of Augusta, in Greek Sébaste.

The Samaritans were almost constantly at war with the kings of Judah. Profound aversion, dating from the time of the separation, perpetuated between the two tribes causing them to avoid any kind of reciprocal relations. In order to widen the schism, and to avoid going to Jerusalem for religious festivities, they built themselves a private temple and adopted some reforms. They only admitted the Pentateuch, which contained the laws of Moses, rejecting all other books to which these were annexed, and their sacred books were all written in ancient Hebrew characters. According to orthodox Jews, they were heretics and consequently despised, excommunicated and persecuted. The antagonism between the two nations was founded exclusively upon their religious divergencies, despite the fact that the origin of their belief was the same. They were the Protestants of their time.

Some Samaritans are still to be found in certain regions of the Lavent, especially near Nablus and in Jaffa. They observe the laws of Moses more strictly than other Jews and only marry amongst themselves.

NAZARITES - The name given in olden times to Jews who took the vow, either temporary or perpetual, to remain in perfect purity. They promised to observe chastity, abstain from alcoholic drinks and not to cut their hair. Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist were Nazarites.

Later on, the Jews gave this name to the first Christians, alluding to Jesus from Nazareth. This was also the name given to a heretical sect from the first phase of the Christian epoch and who, like the Ebonites, from whom they adopted certain principles, mixed the practice of the Mosaic Law with those of Christian dogmas. This sect disappeared during the fourth century AD.

PUBLICANS - In ancient Rome this was the name given to those who rented out the collection of public taxes and all kinds of incomes, either in Rome itself or in other parts of the Empire. They were like the general collectors and auctioneers of taxes in the ancient system in France, which still exists in some regions. The risks they ran made most people close their eyes when it came to their frequently amounted riches which for some, were the fruits of levies and scandalous gains. Later on the name 'Publican' was extended to all those who superintended public monies and their underling agents. Today, the term is employed in a disparaging way, to denote financiers and agents with very few scruples. It is said: "As greedy as a Publican" or "as rich as a Publican", referring to their ill-gotten gains.

During Roman role the question of taxes was what the Jews found most difficult to accept, causing great irritation amongst themselves. Many revolts resulted from this problem, so turning it into a religious question, as it was considered to be against the Law. Indeed, a powerful party was formed at whose front was put a certain citizen named Judah the Gaulite, whose objective was to abolish all taxes. The Jews consequently abominated these taxes and all those entrusted with collecting them. Thence sprang up the aversion shown to Publicans of all categories, amongst whom could be found many people of esteem, but who due to their functions, were despised together with whomsoever kept company with them. Prominent Jews considered it a compromise to have any personal relationship with these people.

TAX COLLECTORS - These were the lower class of collectors, entrusted principally with the collection of tools an entering cities. Their function corresponded more or less with those of the customs officials and the granting of passes. They shared the rejection suffered by Publicans in general. This is the reason why, in the Bible, we frequently meet the ward Publican alongside the expression - sinful people. This did not imply debauchery or vagrancy but was a term of scorn, synonym for people who kept bad company persons unworthy to mix with decent people.

PHARISEES (From the Hebrew, meaning division or separation.) - Tradition is an important part of Jewish theology. It consists of a compilation of the successive interpretations given to the Scriptures which became articles for dogmas. Amongst scholars this was the subject for interminable discussions, most of which were over simple questions as to the meaning of words and their form, just like theological disputes and subtleties of scholastics in the Middle Ages. From all this resulted different sects, each one wishing to have the monopoly of the Truth and consequently detesting one another, as so often happens.

Among these sects the most influential were the Pharisees, whose chief, Hillel, a Jewish doctor born in Babilonia some 180 or 200 years BC, was the founder of a famous school where it was taught that faith should be put only in the scriptures. The Pharisees were persecuted at different times, especially under Hyrcania (who was sovereign pontiff and king of the Jews), Aristoblus and Alexander, who was a king of Syria. However, Alexander granted them honours and restored their properties which made it possible for them to reacquire their old powerful status. This was conserved until the ruin of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD, at which time the name disappeared in consequence of the scattering of the Jews.

The Pharisees took an active part in religious controversy. They were faithful practitioners of exterior cults and ceremonies, full of ardent zeal, proselytism, enemies of innovations, maintaining great severity of principles. But behind the cover of punctilious devotion lay dissolute habits, a great deal of pride and above all an excessive desire to dominate. Religion was actually a means to an end, rather than an object of sincere faith. It possessed nothing of virtue beyond outward appearances and ostentation. Nevertheless, they exercised a great influence over the people, in whose eyes they were sacred. This is how they became powerful in Jerusalem. They believed, or made out they believed, in Divine Providence, the immortality of the soul, eternal punishment and the resurrection of the dead (See chapter 4, item 4). But Jesus, esteeming simplicity and the qualities of the heart above all else, whose preference within the law was for the spirit which vitalizes to the word which kills, applied Himself throughout His mission to the unmasking of their hypocrisy, and because of this was considered by them to be their enemy. This then is the reason why the Pharisees, together with the High Priests, incited the people to eliminate Him.

THE SCRIBES - This name was given in the main to the secretaries of the kings in Judea and to certain people who understood matters relating to the Jewish army. Later it was applied to those scholars who taught the Law of Moses and interpred it to the People. They joined in common cause with the Pharisees, sharing their principles as well as their aversion to all innovations. This is why Jesus included them when He launched criticism against the Pharisees.

SYNAGOGUE (From the Greek SUNAGOGUÊ meaning assembly, congregation.) There was only one temple in Judah, that of Solomon in Jerusalem, where all the great ceremonies of worship were held. Every year all the Jews would go there in pilgrimage for the principal festivals, such as the Passover, the Dedication and the Feast of the Tabernacle. It was on the occasion of these feasts that Jesus would also be present. The other cities did not have temples, only synagogues, buildings where the Jewish people would collect for their Saturday meetings and public prayers, under the leadership of their Eiders, the scribes, or scholars versed in the Law. It was due to this fact that Jesus, although He was not a priest, was able to teach at the synagogues on Saturdays.

Ever since the ruin of Jerusalem and the dispersal of the Jews, the synagogues, in the cities where hey went to live, became temples for the celebration of their cults.

SADDUCEES - Another Jewish sect founded about 24 BC whose name came from Sadoc, us founder. They did not believe in immortality or resurrection, nor in good and bad angels. However, they did believe in God. But as they expected nothing after death, they served Him having in mind only temporary recompenses which, according to them, were limited by Divine Providence. With these thoughts in mind, their main objective in life was the satisfaction of all physical senses. As to the scriptures, they followed the texts of the old laws. They would not accept traditions or any form of interpretation. They put good works and the pure and simple observance of this law before all outward practices of worship. They were, as you see, the materialists, deists and sensualists of their time. The sect had few followers, but amongst them were some important personages and it became a political party constantly in opposition to the Pharisees.

ESSENES - They were a Jewish sect founded about the year 150 BC in the time of the Maccabeans, whose members, living in types of monastries, formed amongst themselves a kind of moral and religious association. They distinguished themselves by their pacific ways and austere virtues, taught the lave of God and neighbour, the immortality of the soul, and believed in resurrection. They were celibate, condemned war and slavery, held all their worldly goods in common, and devoted themselves to agriculture. Contrary to the Sadducees, who were very sensual and denied immortality, and the Pharisees of rigid external practices and only apparent virtues, the Essenes never took part in the disputes which caused antagonism between the other two sects. In their way of life they were similar to the first Christians, and the moral principles they professed caused many people to suppose that Jesus had belonged to their community before He began His mission. It is certain that He knew them, but there is nothing to prove that He was related to them, so all that has been written to this effect is simply hypothetical. *

THERAPEUTS (From the Greek THÉRAPEUTAY, formed from THÉRAPEUEYN to serve, meaning: servants of God or Healers.) - These were Jewish sectarians and contemporaries of Christ, being mostly established in Alexandria in Egypt. Like the Essenes, whose principles they adopted, they also practiced all the virtues. They were extremely frugal in their eating habits, were celibate, dedicated to meditation, lived solitary lives and constituted a truly religious order. Filon, a platonic Jewish philosopher from Alexandria, was the first to speak of the Therapeuts, whom he considered as a Jewish sect. Eusebius, Saint Jerome and other originators of the Church believed them to be Christians. Whether they were, or whether they were Jewish, the fact remains that, like the Essenes, they represent a link in the union between the Jewish and Christian faiths.

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* THE DEATH OF JESUS, supposedly written by an Essene is an entirely apocryphal work, whose only objective was to serve one opinion. It carries within it the proof of its modern origin.



4. SOCRATES AND PLATO, THE FORERUNNERS OF THE CHRISTIAN IDEA AND SPIRITISM.


From the mere fact that Jesus knew the Essenes, it is erroneous to conclude that His doctrine was derived from this sect, and that if He had lived in another environment He would have professed other principles. Great ideas have never appeared suddenly. Those founded an truth have always bad their predecessors, who partially prepared the path. Later, at the appointed time, God sends a man who has the mission of resuming, ordinating, and completing those scattered elements and uniting them into a doctrine. In this way, when the idea arrives it finds Spirits disposed to accept it. This also happened to the Christian idea, which prognosticated many centuries previously, before either Christ or the Essenes, having had Socrates and Plato as us principle predecessors.

Socrates, like Christ, wrote nothing himself, or at least left nothing written. Like Christ, he also suffered the death of a criminal, victim of fanaticism, because he had dared to attack existing beliefs and for having put virtue above hypocrisy and the image of form, in other words, for having combatted religious prejudice. In the same manner as Jesus, Whom the Pharisees accused of corrupting the people by His teaching, Socrates was also accused by the Pharisees of his time, seeing that they have always existed in all epochs, for proclaiming the dogma of the unity of God, the immortality of the soul and the future life. Just as the doctrine of Jesus became known only through the writings of His disciples, so the doctrine of Socrates became known through his disciple Plato.

For these reasons we judge it appropriate to offer a brief summary of the most prominent points of Socrates' teachings in order to show the concordance with the Christian principles. To those who consider this parallel a profanity, claiming there can be no similarity between pagan doctrine and that of Christ, we would say that the teachings of Socrates were not pagan, because he objectively combatted paganism. As to the teachings of Jesus, which are more complete and pure, they have nothing to lose by this comparison as it is impossible to diminish the greatness of Christ's Divine mission, and that for the rest, we are dealing with historical fact which no one can obliterate. Man has now reached a point when the light emerges from beneath the bushel of its own accord, because he has reached sufficient maturity to be able to meet truth face to face, and it will be the worse for those who do not wish to see this. The time has arrived to consider matters in a more ample and evolved manner, not from the point of view of narrow and diffident interests of sects and castes. Moreover, these citations will prove that if Socrates and Plato presented Christian ideas, they also gave us the fundamental principles of Spiritism in their writings.


A SUMMARY OF THE TEACHINGS OF SOCRATES AND PLATO


1. Man is an incarnate soul. Before his incarnation he existed united to the primordial models, to the ideas of truth, goodness and beauty; then separating from them, he incarnates, and on remembering his past is more or less tormented by the desire to return.

The independence and distinction between the basic principle of intelligence and those of matter could not be more clearly expressed. Apart from this, it is also the doctrine of pre-existence, of man's vague intuition of another world to which be aspires; of leaving the spirit world in order to incarnate and of his return to the spirit world after death. Finally, it also expressed the doctrine of the fallen angels.

2. The soul becomes perturbed and confused when it uses the body in order to consider any object; it becomes dizzy, as if intoxicated, because it holds on to things which, by their very nature, are subject to change; whereas, when Man contemplates his very essence, he directs himself to that which is pure, eternal and immortal and seeing that his soul is of this nature, he remains joined to this state as long as he can. His perturbations then cease because he is joined to that which is immutable, and this is the state of the soul called wisdom.

Thus, the man who considers things in a down-to-earth fashion is only deceiving himself. To see things in their true perspective he must look upon them from high up, that is to say from the spiritual point of view. Those who are in possession of true wisdom then, must isolate the soul from the body in order to be able to see with the eyes of the Spirit. This is what Spiritism also teaches (see chapter 2, item 5).

3. As long as our physical body and our souls are immersed in this corruption, we can never possess the object of our desire, which is Truth. In fact, the body stirs op thousands of obstacles due to the necessity we have of caring for it. Moreover, it fills us with desires, appetites, doubts, a thousand fancies and foolish things, in such a way that we find it impossible to be sensible, even for an instant. But, if it is not possible to know anything in its entirety while the soul remains joined to the body, either we shall never know the truth, or we shall only know it after death. Freed from the misleading ideas of the body, we hope it will be permissible to talk with men and women who have also been liberated, and so understand for ourselves the essence of things. This is the reason why true philosophers prepare themselves for dying, as death represents nothing to them, and in no way is it to be feared.

Here we have the principles of the faculties of the souls being obscured by the corporeal organs and the expansion of purified souls. This does not happen to impure souls (see HEAVEN & HELL 1st part, chapter 2; & 2nd part, chapter 1).

4. The soul in its impure state finds itself oppressed, and is once again attracted to the visible world by the fear of that which is invisible and immaterial. It is a mistake then, to say that the gloomy ghosts seen round tombs and monuments most be the soul of those who have left their bodies without being absolutely pure, and so still conserve part of their material form, which makes them visible to the human eye. In fact they are not good but bad souls, dragging with them the penalties of their first life, who find themselves forced to wander in such places, where they will continue to wander till their appetites, inherent to the material form with which they are clad, recalls them to another body. Then, beyond doubt, they will return to the some habits which were the object of their preferences during their first life.


Not only the principle of reincarnation is clearly shown here, but also the stale of those souls who maintain themselves under the yoke of matter, as described to us in spiritual communications. Furthermore, it is said that reincarnation in a material body is the consequence of the impresses of the soul, whereas the purified soul finds itself exempt from further reincarnation. This is exactly what Spiritism teaches, only adding that the soul which, having made good resolutions while in the spiritual world and possessing some acquired knowledge, brings less defects, more virtues and intuitive ideas on being reborn than it had in the preceding incarnation. In this way each existence shows both intellectual and moray progress (see HEAVEN & HELL, 2nd part, Examples).

5. After our death the genie (Daimon, devil), who had been assigned to us during our life, will take us to a place where all who most go to Hades, in order to be judged, are gathered. The souls, after having been in Hades the necessary length of time are then returned to this life, for long periods and multiple times.

This is the doctrine of the Guardian Angels or Protecting Spirits, and of successive reincarnations after intervals of varying lengths in the spirit world.

6. Devils occupy the space which separates Heaven from Earth; this constitutes the link which unites the Universe with itself. The Divinity never enters into direct contact with Man, which is done through the mediation of the devils with whom the gods have dealings, and who occupy themselves with him both during waking and sleeping.

In ancient times the word daimon, from which the term evil was derived, was not used in the bad sense as it is today. Nor was it used exclusively for evil beings, but for Spirits in general within which were included Superior Beings called gods, as well as the less elevated, the actual devils, who communicated directly with Man. Spiritism also says that Spirits inhabit space, that God only communicates with Man through the intermediary of pure Spirits who are entrusted to transmit His wishes. Spirits also communicate with Man during sleep as well as while he is awake. If we put the word Spirit in place of the word devil we have the Spiritist doctrine, and by putting the word Angel we have the Christian doctrine.

7. The constant preoccupation of the philosophers (as understood by Socrates and Plato) is to take great care of the soul, less with respect to the present life, which lasts but an instant, but more with respect to eternity. As the soul is immortal, would it not be more prudent to live our lives bearing this fact in mind?


Both Spiritism and the Christian faith teach the same thing.


8. If the soul is immaterial, then after this life it will have to go to a world which is equally invisible and immaterial, the some way as the body decomposes and returns to matter. It is very important, however, to clearly distinguish the pure soul which is truly immaterial and which nourishes itself, as God does, from thoughts and the sciences, from that of the soul which is more or less stained by impurities of a material nature, which impedes elevation to all that is divine and which, in fact, causes it to be retained in its earthly surroundings.

As we can see, both Socrates and Plato understood perfectly the different levels of the dematerialized soul. They insisted on the varieties of situations resulting from its more or less purified states. What they said though intuition, Spiritism proves by the numerous examples which it places before us (see HEAVEN & HELL, 2nd part).

9. If death meant the complete dissolution of man the bad Spirits would have much to gain from death as they would find themselves at one and the same time free from body, soul and vices. Only those who adorn their soul not with strange ornaments, but with those which are appropriate, may await the hour of their return to the other world with tranquillity.

This is equal to saying that materialism, when it proclaims there is nothing alter death, annuls all previous moral responsibility, this being consequently an inductive to badness and that badness bas everything to gain from nothingness. Only the man who has divested himself of all vice and enriched himself with virtue can await the arousing in the other life with tranquillity. By means of examples, which are offered to us daily, Spiritism shows how painful it is for those who are bad to pass over into this other life (see HEAVEN & HELL, 2nd part, chapter 1).

10. The body retains the well-impressed vestiges of the care it received, as well as the marks of all accidents suffered. The same applies to the soul. When it disposes of the body it maintains in evidence the features of its character, its affections, as well as the marks that hove been left on it by all the various occurrences during its life. Thus, the worst thing that can happen to a man or woman is to return to the other world with his or her soul laden with crimes. You see Calicles, that neither you nor Polux, nor Gorgias, can prove that we should lead a different life that coo be useful when we find ourselves on the other side. From so many different opinions the only one which is Unshakable is that it is better to receive than to commit an injustice, and that, above all else we must be careful not just to seem like, but to actually be men and women of goodness. (Taken from a dialogue between Socrates and is followers when be was in prison.)

Here we are faced with yet another point of capital importance which experience has proved to us: that the soul which is not yet purified retains the ideas, tendencies, character and passions which it bad while on Earth. Is not the maxim - It is better to receive than to commit an injustice - entirely Christian? Jesus expressed the same thought when He said: "If someone strikes you on the cheek, then offer him the other one too" (see chapter 12, items 7 & 8).

11. One of two things - either death is the absolute destruction or it is the passing of the soul into another place. If everything is extinguished, then death would be like one of those infrequent nights when we do not dream nor have any consciousness of ourselves. However, if death is but a change of habitation, the passageway to the place where the dead must meet, what happiness to find there all those we have known! My greatest pleasure would be to closely examine the inhabitants of this other home and to distinguish there, as we do here, which of those who deem themselves worthy are actually so considered. But it is time to part, me to my death and you to life (Socrates to his judges).

According to Socrates, those who live upon the Earth meet again after death and recognise each other. Spiritism shows that relationships continue to the extent that death is not an interruption nor the cessation of life, but rather an inevitable transformation without any discontinuity.

If Socrates and Plato had known what Christ was to teach five hundred years later, and which Spiritism now spreads, they would have said exactly the same things. There is nothing surprising in this fact, however, if we consider that all great truths are eternal and all advanced Spirits had to know them before they came to Earth in order to be able to deliver them. We may consider even further that Socrates and Plato, together with all the other great philosophers of those great times, could have later been among those chosen to uphold Christ in His Divine Mission, being chosen precisely because they were more apt to understand His sublime teachings. It also appears highly probable that today they participate in the Host of Spirits charged with teaching mankind these same truths.

12. Never return one injustice with another, nor harm anyone, whatever harm they may hove caused to others. Few, however, will admit this principle and those who disagree will, beyond doubt, do nothing but despise one another.

Is this not the principle of charity, which prescribes that we do not return evil for evil and that we forgive our enemies?

13. We know the tree according to its fruit. Every action should be qualified by what it produces: qualified as evil when it causes evil and as goodness when it produces goodness.

The maxim: "It is by the fruits that we know the tree," is repeated many times throughout the Gospel.

14. Riches ore a great danger. Every man who loves riches does not love himself, nor those who belong to him (see chapter 16).

15. The most beautiful prayers and the most beautiful sacrifices mean less to God than a virtuous soul who has struggled to be like Him. It has been a grave error to think that the gods dispense more attention to their offerings than to our souls. If that were the case then the greatest culprits would become favoured. But no, the truly just and upright are those who, by their words and deeds, fulfill their duties to the gods and humanity (see chapter 10, items 7 & 8).

16. We call he who loves his body more than his soul, depraved. Love is everywhere in nature and it calls us to use our intelligence; we even find it in the movements of the planets. It is love which covers nature with its richest carpet; it is o decoration and makes its home where there are flowers and perfumes. It is also love which gives peace to mankind, calms the seas, silences the storm and gives sleep to sufferers.

Love, which will unite Man through a fraternal link, is a consequence of Plato's theory on universal love as a Law of Nature. Socrates said: "Love is neither a god nor a mortal, but a great devil," that is, a great Spirit which presides over universal love. This proposition was held against him like a crime.

l7. Virtue cannot be taught but comes as a gift from God to those who possess it.

This is almost be Christian doctrine of grace; but if virtue is a gift from God, then it is a favour and we may ask why it is not conceded to all. On the other hand, if it is a gift then there is no merit on the part of those who possess it. Spiritism is more explicit in saying that those who possess a virtue have acquired it through their own efforts during successive lives, by ridding themselves, little by little, of their imperfections. Grace is a force which God gives to a well meaning man or woman so that he or she may expunge their badness and so be able to practise good.

18. The natural disposition shown by all, is to perceive our defects far less than we see those of others.

The Gospel says: "You see the mote that is in the eye of your neighbour, but you do not see the beam that is in your own eye" (see chapter 10, items 9 & 10).

19. If doctors are unsuccessful in treating the majority of ailments it is because they treat the body without treating the soul If the whole is not good condition then it is impossible that part of it should be well.

Spiritism offers the key to the relationship which exists between the soul and the body, so proving that one of them is constantly reacting on the other. This idea opens up a new field for science. With the possibility of showing the real cause of certain ailments, the way of curing them becomes easier. When science takes into account the spiritual element in the organism, then failures will be much less frequent.

20. All men, right from infancy, commit far more badness than goodness.

In this sentence, Socrates touches on the grave question of the predominance of badness on Earth, a question which is insoluble without knowledge of the plurality of worlds and the destiny of our planet Earth, inhabited as it is by only a fraction of humanity. Only Spiritism can resolve this question which is more fully explained further an in chapters 3, 4 & 5.

21. It is more judicious not to suppose you know that of which you are in ignorance.

This is directed at those who offer criticism about matters unknown to them, even in basic terms. Plato completes this thought of Socrates by saying: "In first place, if it is possible, we must make them more honest in their words; if they are not, we shall not bother with them, and we shall seek nothing but the truth. We shall do our best to instruct them, but shall not insult them."


This is how Spiritism should proceed in relation to those who contradict, whether in good or bad faith. If Plato were to come alive today he would find things almost as they were in his time and he would be able to use the same words. Socrates would also meet creatures who would jeer at his belief in Spirits and would believe him to be mad, together with his disciple Plato. It was for having professed these principles that Socrates saw himself ridiculed, accused of impiety and condemned to drink hemlock. So, assuredly, by reason of its controversy stirring up many prejudices and striking against many prejudices, these great new truths will not be accepted without a fight, nor without making martyrs.

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