EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN AGAIN HE CANNOT SEE THE
KINGDOM OF GOD
Resurrection and reincarnation. - Reincarnation strengthens family ties, whereas a single
life would destroy them. -INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS: Limits of incarnations. -
The need for incarnation.
1. When Jesus came into the coasts of Ceasaria Philippi, He asked His disciples saying
whom do men say that the Son of man am? And they said, some say that thou art John the
Baptist: some, Elias: and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, but
whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, thou art the Christ, the Son of
the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for
the flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven
(Matthew, 16: 13-17; Mark, 8: 27-30).
2. Now Herod the Tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed,
because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; and some, that Elias had
appeared; and others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John
have I beheaded; but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see Him
(Luke, 9: 7-9; Mark, 6: 14-15).
3. (After the transfiguration) And His disciples asked Him, saying, why then say the
scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall
first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they
knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of
Man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the
Baptist (Matthew, 17: 10-13; Mark, 9: 11-13).
RESURRECTION AND REINCARNATION
4. Reincarnation was part of the Jewish dogmas, being taught under the name of
resurrection. Only the Sadducees, who believed that everything ended with death, did not accept
the idea of reincarnation. Jewish ideas on this point, as on many others, were not clearly defined
because they had only vague and incomplete notions with regard to the soul and its connection with
They believed that man could live again without knowing exactly the manner by which this could
happen. They used the name resurrection for what Spiritism more correctly calls reincarnation,
Resurrection presupposes a return to the same physical body, whereas science demonstrates that
this is materially impossible, especially when that same body has decomposed and long since been
dispersed and reabsorbed. Reincarnation is the return of a soul, or Spirit, to physical life in another
body which has been newly formed for it, and which has nothing to do with the previous one. The
word 'resurrection' can be applied to Lazarus but not to Elias, nor to the other prophets. If,
according to their belief, John the Baptist was Elias, then the body of John could not have been the
body of Elias because John was seen as a child and his parents were known. John then could be
Elias reincarnated but not resurrected.
5. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same
came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come
from God.' for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus
answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he
cannot see the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he
is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of
the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh;
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born
again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof but canst not tell
whence it cometh, and wither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit Nicodemus
answered and said unto Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him,
Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto you, We
speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.' and ye receive not our witness. If I
have to Id you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly
things? (John, 3:1-12).
6. The idea that John had been Elias and that the prophets could relive again on Earth is to
be found in many passages of the New Testament, but is most notedly quoted in the above extract.
(See verses 1, 2, & 3.) If this was an erroneous belief, Jesus would have combated it as He did
many others. But from this He gave it complete sanction and authority by making it a basic
principle and necessary condition by saying: 'No one may reach the Kingdom of God if he is not
born again,' and further insisted when He added: 'Do not be surprised when I say it is necessary to
be born again.'
7. The words: If man is not born again of water and of Spirit, have been interpreted in the
sense of regeneration by means of the water of Baptism. But in the original text it was said simply:
not born of water and of Spirit, whereas in some translations the words of spirit have been
substituted by Holy Spirit, which does not correspond to the original meaning. This capital point stands out from the first
comments which the Gospels raised and will one day be confirmed beyond all possible doubt. *
* The translation by Osterwald is according to the original text. It says: NOT BORN OF THE WATER AND OF
THE SPIRIT. That of Sacy says: OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, that of Lamennais: OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
8. To enable the real meaning of these words to be reached it is also necessary to pay
attention to the significance of the word water
which is not used here in its usual sense.
The knowledge of physics was very imperfect in ancient times when it was believed that the
Earth had risen out of the water. Therefore water was considered to be the exclusive primitive
generating substance. This is why we read in the book of Genesis: '...the Spirit of God moved upon
the face of the waters; it floated above the waters; .. . Let there be firmament in the midst of the
waters; ... Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land
appear; ... Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that
may fly above the Earth in the open firmament of heaven.'
According then to this belief, water represented the nature of matter, just as the Spirit
represented the nature of intelligence. The words: 'If man is not reborn of the waters and of the
Spirit, or in water and in Spirit', thus signify -'if man is not born with his body and his soul'. This is
the manner in which these words were originally understood.
This interpretation is wholly justified by these other words: What is born of the flesh is flesh
and what is born of Spirit is Spirit. Here Jesus established a clear distinction between body and
Spirit. What is born of the flesh clearly indicates that only the body generates from the body and
that the Spirit is independent.
9. The words: 'The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound but know' not from
whence it comes nor whence it goes' are referring to the Spirit of God, who gives life to whom He
wishes, or rather to the soul of man. The words you know not where it comes from nor where it
goes', signifies that we do not know who the Spirit had been previously or who it will be in the
future. If the Spirit or soul was created at the same time as the body we would know where it came
from because we would know its beginning. Whichever way you look at this passage, it confirms
the principle of the pre-existence of the soul and subsequently the plurality of existences.
10. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth
violence and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until
John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear,
let him hear (Matthew, 11: 12-15).
11. Even if the doctrine of reincarnation as expressed re John might be interpreted in
principle in a purely mystic sense, the same could not happen with this passage from Matthew,
which does not permit any ambiguity: He is Elias, who was to come. Here there is nothing
figurative, nothing allegorical, only a complete affirmation. 'Since the time of John the Baptist till
today the Kingdom of Heaven is seized by violence.' What do these words mean when John the
Baptist was still alive at that moment? Jesus explains them to us when He says: 'If you wish to
understand what I am saying, this is Elias who was to come. Therefore, if John was Elias, Jesus
alluded to the time when John was living under the name of Elias. 'Till the present time the
kingdom is seized by violence,' is another allusion to the violence of the Mosaic laws, which
ordered the extermination of infidels so that the rest might attain the Promised Land, the Paradise
of the Hebrews, whereas according to the new law Heaven was to be won by charity and mildness.
Jesus then added: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. These words are frequently
uttered by Him, telling us that not everyone was in a condition to understand certain truths.
12. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake, and
sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the
dead (Isaiah, 26:19).
13. This passage from Isaiah is also explicit: 'Thy dead men shall live again.' If the prophet
had wished to speak of a spiritual life, if he had intended to say that those who had been executed
were not dead spiritually speaking, he would have said: 'They are still alive,' and not 'They will live
again.’ In the spiritual sense these words would be a contradiction, because they imply an
interruption in the life of the soul. In the sense of moral regeneration they would be a denial of
eternal suffering because they establish in principle that all those who are dead will one day come
back to life.
14. But when a man hath died once, when his body, separated from his spirit, has been
consumed, what happens to him? Having died once can a man live again? In the war in which
l find myself each day of my life, l await my mutation. (Job, 14: 10 & 14. Translation taken
from Le Maistre de Sacy).
When a man dies, he loses all his strength, expires, afterwards, where is he? If a man
dies, will he live again? Will I wait all the days of my combat, until there comes some
mutation? (Taken from the Protestant translation of Osterwald.)
When a man is dead, he lives forever: when my days of existence on Earth have
finished, I will wait, seeing that I shall return again. (Taken from the Greek translation.)
15. In these three translations the principle of the plurality of existences is clearly expressed.
Nobody can imagine that Job was referring to regeneration from baptismal water, which for sure he
had never heard of. 'Man having died once, can he live again? The idea of dying once and reliving
implies dying and living many times. The Greek version is even more explicit, if that is possible.
'When my days of existence on Earth are finished, I will wait, for I will return again' or return
again to Earth. This is so clear, as if someone were saying: I leave my house, but I will return.
'In the war in which I find myself each day of my life, I await my mutation.' Here Job
evidently was referring to his struggles against the miseries of life, 'I await my mutation' meaning
he was resigned. In the Greek version, I will wait, seems to apply more preferably to a new
existence: 'When my existence has ended, I will wait, seeing that I shall return again.' It is as if Job,
after death, places himself in the interval which separates one life from another and says that it is
there he will await till the moment of return.
16. So there is no doubt that under the name of resurrection, the principle of reincarnation
was a fundamental belief of the Jews. A point which Jesus and the prophets in general confirm, and
from which it follows that to deny reincarnation is also to deny the words of Christ One day,
however, when they have been well meditated upon, without preconceived ideas, His words will be
recognised as an authority on this point, as well as on many others.
17. From the religious point of view we add to this authority the philosophical view point of
the proofs resulting from the observance of the facts. When we try to discover from the effects
what the causes might be, reincarnation becomes an absolute necessity, an inherent part of
humanity, in a word: a Law of Nature, By its very results it becomes evident in a material manner,
so to speak, in the same way that a hidden motor reveals itself by its movement, It is the only way
Man can find out where he came from, where he is going and why he is here on Earth and still be
able to justify the many abnormalities and all the apparent injustices which present themselves
during life. *
* See THE SPIRITS' BOOK, chapters 4 & 5; WHAT IS SPIRITISM, chapter 2, by Allan Kardec and also LA
PLURALITÉ DES EXISTENCES by Pezzani, for further information on reincarnation.
Without the principle of the pre-existence of the soul and the plurality of existences, the
maxims of the Gospel in the most part become unintelligible, which is the reason why they have
given rise to so many contradictory interpretations, This is the only principle which will restore
them to their true and original meaning.
REINCARNATION STRENGTHENS FAMILY TIES WHEREAS A
SINGLE LIFE WOULD DESTROY THEM
18. Family ties are not destroyed through reincarnation as some would believe. On the
contrary, they become stronger and closer. The opposite principle would, on the other hand,
certainly destroy them.
In space, Spirit entities form groups or families bound together by affection, sympathy
towards each other, and by similar inclinations. Happy at being together, these Spirits seek each
other. Incarnate life separates them only for a while, so on returning to the spiritual world they
again reunite as friends who have just returned from a journey. Frequently they will even follow
each other into the incarnate form, coming here to be united in the same family or the same circle
of friends and acquaintances, in order to work together for their mutual progress. When some
members of the same spiritual family become incarnate and others not, they then continue their
contact by means of thought. Those who are free watch over those who are captive. Those who are
more advanced do everything they can for the less advanced, so helping them to progress. After
each physical existence all have made some advancement, even if it is only a step along the path to
progress. As they become less bound by matter, their affections become more real and more
spiritually refined, due to the fact that they are not perturbed by selfish or violent passions. This
then allows them to live many lives in the flesh without suffering any loss of mutual esteem.
It is understood, of course, that we refer to real affection, soul to soul, being the only love
which survives after the destruction of the body. So it follows that those of this world who join
together because of physical attraction, will have no motive to look for each other in the spirit
world. The only lasting relationships are those linked by spiritual affection, all carnal affections
being extinguished together with the cause that brought them about, in other words, the physical
body. Understand by this that the physical cause no longer exists in the world of Spirits, but the
soul exists eternally.
With regard to those who join together exclusively out of interest, they clearly mean nothing
to each other. Death separates them both on Earth and in Heaven.
19. The union and affection which can exist between relatives is an indication of former
sympathies which have brought them together. This is why, when referring to someone whose
character, tastes, and inclinations hold no similarity to other members of the same family, it is
customary to say that they do not belong to that family. When saying this, the truth is expressed far
more profoundly than suspected. God permits that in certain families these Spirits, who are
uncongenial or strangers to each other, reincarnate with the dual purpose of serving as a test for
some members of that family, and as a means of progress for others. In this manner, due to contact
with good Spirits and the general care dispensed to them, the bad or wicked Spirits get better, little
little Their characters grow milder, their habits become more refined and their aversions dissipated.
This is how the various fusions of different categories of Spirits are accomplished, as is done with
different races and peoples on the planet.
20. The fear that some people may have with regard to the indefinite increase in
relationships due to reincarnation is basically selfish; proving a lack of love sufficiently ample as to
be able to embrace a large number of people. Does a father who has many children love them any
less than he would if there was only one? The selfish people may be tranquil because there is no
reason for such a fear. The fact that a person may have had ten incarnations does not mean that in
the spirit world he will find ten fathers, ten mothers, ten wives and a prodigious number of children
and relatives. There he will always encounter only those who had been the object of his affections,
some of whom he would have been linked to here on Earth in various relationships, or perhaps even
the same ones.
21. Let us now look at the consequences of an anti-reincarnationist doctrine, It by necessity
annuls all previous existences of the soul, seeing that under these ideas the soul would be created
together with the body, no previous links would exist and all would be complete strangers one to
another, The father would be a stranger to his child. The relationships between families would then
be reduced to mere physical relations without any spiritual links whatsoever, Therefore, there
would be no motive at all for anyone to claim the honour of having had such-and-such a person for
their ancestor. Whereas, with reincarnation ancestors and descendants may have known each other,
lived together, loved one another and can reunite later on in order to further the links of sympathy
22. All that refers to the past. So now let us look at the future, According to one of the
fundamental dogmas that comes from the idea of non-reincarnation, the destiny of all souls is
irrevocably determined after only one existence, This fixed and definite idea of fate implies the
ending of all progress, because when there is still some form of progress, then there is no definite
fate. Depending on whether we have lived a good or bad life, we should go immediately to either
the home of the blessed or to eternal hell, We should then be immediately and forever separated,
without hope of ever being united again. In this way fathers, mothers and children, husbands and
wives, brothers and sisters, and even friends would never be sure of seeing each other again; this
then means the absolute rupture of all family ties.
However, with the acceptance of reincarnation and consequential progress, all those who
love one another will meet again on Earth and also in space, gravitating together in the direction of
God. If some weaken along the path they will delay their progress and their happiness, but there
will never be a total loss of hope. Helped, encouraged and sustained by those who love them, they
will one day be able to extricate themselves from the quagmire into which they have allowed
themselves to fall, With reincarnation there is perpetual
solidarity between incarnates and discarnates constantly consolidating the links of affection.
23. In conclusion, four alternatives present themselves to Man for his future beyond the
tomb. Firstly - nothingness, according to the materialist doctrine; secondly - absorption into the
universe, according to the pantheistic idea; thirdly - individuality with a fixed and definite destiny,
according to the Church; fourthly - individuality with constant progress according to the Spiritist
In the first two of these alternatives, family ties are interrupted at the time of death, and no
hope is left for these souls of ever meeting again in the future. With the third alternative, there is a
possibility of meeting again, if each has gone to the same region, which might be either Heaven or
Hell. But with the plurality of existences, which is inseparable from gradual progression, there is
certainty of the continuity of relationships between those who love, and this is what constitutes the
INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS.
LIMITS OF INCARNATIONS
24. What are the limits of incarnation?
In actual fact, incarnation does not have clearly defined limits if we are thinking only of the
envelope which constitutes the physical covering of the Spirit since the materiality of this covering
diminishes in proportion as the Spirit purifies itself. In certain worlds more advanced than Earth,
this covering is already less compact, less heavy, more refined and consequently less subject to
vicissitudes. In worlds of still higher elevation it is translucent and almost fluidic. It dematerializes
by degrees and finally becomes absorbed in the perispirit. According to the kind of world in which
it lives, the Spirit reclothes itself with a covering appropriate to that world.
The perispirit itself undergoes successive transformations. It becomes more and more
etheric, until it reaches complete depuration which is the state of all pure Spirits. If special worlds
are destined for more highly advanced Spirits, they do not remain prisoners there as in the inferior
worlds. The special state of detachment in which they find themselves allows them to travel to any
part of the Universe to which they may be called on missions.
If we consider incarnation from the material view point, such as can be verified here on
Earth, we can say that it is limited to inferior worlds. But it depends on each Spirit to liberate itself
more or less quickly, by working towards purification. We should also consider that in the
discarnate state, that is to say in the intervals between bodily existences, the situation of each Spirit
depends on the nature of the world to which it is linked, by the degree of advancement it has
acquired. Thus in the spiritual world we are more or less happy, free or enlightened, according to
the degree of dematerialization achieved. - SAINT LOUIS (Paris, 1859).
THE NEED FOR INCARNATION
25. Is incarnation a punishment and are guilty spirits bound to suffer them?
The passing of Spirits through corporeal life is necessary in order that they may fulfill by
means of a material action the purpose to which God assigned them. This is necessary for their own
good, as the activity which they are obliged to perform will help the development of their
intelligence. Being just, God must distribute everything in equal parts to all His children; so it is
established that everyone starts from the same point, with the same aptitudes, the same obligations
to fulfill and having the same liberty to proceed. Any type of privilege would be an injustice. But
for all Spirits incarnation is a transitory state. It is a task imposed by God at the beginning of life, as
a primary experiment in the use of free-will. Those who discharge this task with zeal pass over the
first steps of their initiation quickly, less painfully, and so are able to reap the fruits of their labour
at an earlier date. Those who, on the contrary, make bad use of the liberty that God has granted
them, delay their progress and according to the degree of obstinacy demonstrated, may prolong the
need for reincarnating indefinitely, in which case it becomes a punishment. - SAINT LOUIS (Paris,
26. NOTE - A common comparison would make this difference more easily understandable.
The scholar cannot reach superior studies in science if he has not passed through the series of
classes which lead to that level. These classes, whatever may be the work demanded, are the means
by which the student will reach his objective and are not a punishment inflicted upon him. If he is
diligent he can shorten the path and consequently will encounter less thorns. However, this does not
happen to the one who is negligent and lazy, which will oblige him to repeat certain lessons. It is
not the work of the class which is the punishment, but the necessity to recommence the same work
This is what happens to mankind on Earth. For the primitive Spirit, who is only at the
beginning of his spiritual life, incarnation is the means by which he can develop his intelligence.
Nevertheless, it is a punishment for an enlightened man, in whom a moral sense has been greatly
developed, to be obliged to live over again the various phases of a corporeal life full of anguishes,
when he could have arrived at the end of his need to stay in inferior and unhappy worlds. On the
other hand, if he works actively towards his moral progress, he not only shortens the period of his
material incarnations, but also may jump over the intermediate steps which separate him from the
Is it possible for Spirits to incarnate only Once in any one world and then fulfill their other
existences in different worlds? This would only be possible if every person were at exactly the
same point in both intellectual and moral development. The differences between them, from the
savage to civilised man, show the many degrees which must be ascended. Besides, an incarnation
must have a useful purpose. But what of the short-lived incarnations of children who
die at a tender age? Have they suffered to no purpose, for themselves or for others? God, Whose
laws are wise, does nothing that is useless. Through reincarnating on the same globe, and by being
once again in contact with each other, He wishes these same Spirits to have the desire to repair
reciprocated offences. With the help of their past relationships, He wishes to establish family ties
on a spiritual basis, founded on the principles of the natural laws of solidarity, fraternity and