THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER 7

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT

What should be understood by the words 'poor inspirit.' - He who exalts himself shall be debased. - Mysteries that are hidden from the learned and prudent. - INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS: Pride & humility. - Mission of the intelligent person on Earth.



WHAT SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD BY THE WORDS 'POOR IN SPIRIT'


1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew, 5: 3).

2. Sceptics have mocked this maxim, as they have mocked many other things they do not understand. By 'the poor in spirit' Jesus did not mean those devoid of intelligence, but the humble, in as much as He said that the Kingdom of Heaven would be for them and not for the prideful.

Men of knowledge and imagination, so called by public conviction, generally hold such high opinions of themselves and their superiority that they consider everything divine as being undeserving of their consideration. By concentrating all their attention upon themselves, they are then unable to lift up their eyes to God. This tendency to believe they are superior to everything else very frequently leads them to deny anything which might be above them, even Divinity itself, for fear it might belittle them. Or if they condescend to admit its existence, they then contest one of its most beautiful attributes, that of providential action over things of this world, because they think they alone are sufficient to govern. Taking the intelligence they possess as a measure for universal intelligence, and judging themselves able to understand everything, they are unable to believe in the viability of that which they do not know. They consider their judgement to be law.

If they do not admit the existence of the invisible world and of a superhuman power, it is not because it is beyond their capability, but because their pride makes them revolt against the idea of something above which they are unable to place themselves and which would bring them down from the pedestal upon which they like to contemplate. Hence they only have scorn for everything that does not belong to the visible and tangible world. They attribute to themselves such imagination and learning that they cannot believe in things which, according to their way of thinking, are only good for simple people, taking for poor in spirit all who take such matters seriously.

However, say what they like, they will inevitably be drawn into this invisible world they scoff at, together with everyone else. It is there that their eyes will be opened, so making them realise their errors. Nevertheless, God being just, He cannot receive those who have denied His majesty in the same manner as those who submitted to His laws with humility, nor can He give them equal share.

By saying that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor in spirit, Jesus teaches that no one will be admitted without simplicity of heart and humility of spirit; that the ignorant person who possesses these qualities will be preferred to the wise person who believes more in himself than in God. In all circumstances Jesus put humility into the category of virtues that bring Man near to God and pride into the category of vices that keep Man away from God. The reason for this is clear, for to be humble is an act of submission to God, whereas pride is a revolt against Him. For Man then, there is far greater value for his future happiness by being poor in spirit, as the world would understand it, and rich in moral qualities.


HE WHO EXALTS HIMSELF SHALL BE DEBASED


3. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And who shall receive one such little child, in my name, receiveth me (Matthew 18:1-5).

4. Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him. And He said unto her, What wilt thou? She said unto Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit; the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy Kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with? They say unto Him, We are able. And He said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink from my cup and be baptised with the baptism that lam baptised with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand, is not mine to give, but it shall be given unto them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto Him and said, Ye know that the Prince of the Gentiles exercises dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: and whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant: even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life as ransom for many (Matthew 20: 20-28).


5. And it came to pass as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day that they watched Him. And He put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when He marked how they chose out the chief rooms: saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend go up higher; then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be debased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:1 & 7-11).

6. These maxims stem from the principle of humility that Jesus was constantly presenting as an essential condition for the happiness promised to the chosen of the Lord, which He presented in this manner: "Blessed be the poor inspirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." He took a child as a symbol of simplicity of heart when He said: "The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven shall be he who is humble and who is as a little child." That is to say, who holds no pretension to superiority or infallibility.

We find the same fundamental idea in the following maxim: He who desires to be the greatest amongst you, let him be your servant, and also in this: He that humbles himself shall be exalted and he who exalts himself shall be debased.

Spiritism confirms its theory through examples when it shows us that those who are great in the spiritual world are those who were small on Earth, and that frequently those who were great and powerful on Earth find themselves extremely small in the spiritual world. This is because on dying, Man takes with him only that which makes for greatness in Heaven, that which is never lost, which are his virtues. All earthly greatness, such as riches, titles, glory, nobleness of birth, etc., are impossible to take. On reaching the other side, if Man has nothing apart from these qualities, he finds himself destitute of everything, as a person who is ship-wrecked loses everything, even to his clothes. The only item still retained is pride, which makes the position even worse, more humiliating, when it is found that those they trod underfoot on Earth have been raised to places of glory far above.

Spiritism also shows another side of this principle within the process of successive reincarnations, when those who in one life have raised themselves to high positions, are then born into lowly conditions in a succeeding existence, if they have allowed themselves to be dominated by pride and ambition. Therefore do not seek the highest positions on Earth nor place yourself above others if you do not wish to be obliged to descend. On the contrary, seek the most humble and modest positions, seeing that God will then give you a more elevated place in Heaven if you deserve it.

MYSTERIES ARE HIDDEN FROM THE LEARNED AND PRUDENT


7. At that time Jesus answered and said: I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Matthew, 11: 25).

8. It may appear quite singular that Jesus gives thanks to God for having revealed these things to the simple and humble, who are the poor in spirit, and for having hidden them from the learned and prudent; who apparently are more able to understand. But we must recognise that the former are those who are submissive, who humble themselves before God and do not consider themselves superior. The latter are those who are arrogant, full of pride for their worldly knowledge, judging themselves prudent because they deny God or who, when they are not refusing to accept Him, treat Him as an equal despite the fact that in ancient times learned was a synonym for wise. This is why God has left them to discover the secrets of the Earth and revealed the secrets of Heaven only to the humble, who prostrate themselves before Him.

9. The same thing has happened today with the great truths revealed by Spiritism. Many of those who are incredulous are surprised by the fact that the Spirits take so little trouble to convince them. The reason for this being that it is preferable to look after those who seek with good faith and humility, rather than offer enlightenment to those who suppose they already possess it; who perhaps imagine that God should be very thankful for having managed to attract their attention by proving His existence to them.

The power of God manifests itself in all things, from the smallest to the greatest. He does not hide His light, but rather disperses it in constant waves to every corner of the Universe, to such an extent that only those who are blind do not see. God does not wish their eyes to be opened by force, seeing that they desire to keep them shut. Their time will come. But first it is necessary that they feel the anguish of darkness and so recognise it is the Divinity and not mere chance which hurts their pride. In order to overcome this incredulity, God uses the most convenient means according to each individual. It is not their incredulity that prescribes what is to be done, nor is it up to them to say: "If you want to convince me, then you must do this or that on a certain occasion because this is what could persuade me." Therefore those who are unbelievers should not be surprised if neither God nor the Spirits who execute His wishes, do not submit to these demands. Instead, they should ask themselves what they would say if the lowest of their servants tried to impose upon them in whatever form. God imposes the conditions and does not accept those who wish to impose conditions on Him. He listens kindly to those who direct themselves to Him with humility and not to those who judge themselves greater than He.

10. It is often asked if God could not touch these people personally by means of clearly evident manifestations before which even the most obstinate unbeliever would be convinced. Beyond all doubt He could. But in this case what merit would be gained and more importantly, what use would it be? Do we not see people every day who do not bow down even before such evidence and who say: "Even if I saw I would not believe because I know it is impossible"? If they deny truth in such a manner it is because their spirits have not yet reached sufficient maturity to enable them to understand, nor their hearts to feel it. Pride is the cataract which covers their vision. What good does it do to show a light to one who is blind? Rather it is first necessary to cure the cause of the ill. This is why, as a skilful doctor, He first of all punishes their pride. He will never abandon any of His children since sooner or later their eyes will be opened, but He wishes this to happen of their own free-will. Then defeated by the torments of incredulity, they will throw themselves of their own accord into His arms, begging to be forgiven just as the prodigal son did.


INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS.

PRIDE AND HUMILITY


11. My dear friends, may the peace of the Lord be with you! I am come in order to encourage you to follow the good pathway.

The humble Spirits, who in other times inhabited the Earth, have been commissioned by God to enlighten you. Blessed be the Lord for the grace that He has granted us of being able to help you improve. May the Holy Spirit illuminate me, so helping to make my words understandable and grant me the favour of being able to put them within reach of all! You who are incarnate, who undergo trials and are searching for the light, I pray that the will of God come to my aid so that I may make His teachings shine before your eyes!

Humility is a virtue much forgotten amongst you. Of the many examples given very few have been followed. However, is it possible to be charitable to your neighbour without being humble? Of course not, because this sentiment reduces mankind to the same level by telling them they are brothers and sisters who should help one another mutually, which leads then to a state of goodness. Without humility you are merely adorning yourself with virtues you do not possess, as if you used clothes especially for the purpose of hiding some physical deformity. Remember He who saved us; remember His humility which was so great as to put Him above all the prophets!

Pride is the terrible adversary of humility. If Christ promised the Kingdom of Heaven to the poor it was because the great ones of this Earth imagined their titles and riches to be recompenses, conferred upon them due to merit, and so considered themselves to be of an essence much purer than that of the poor. They judged that the titles and riches were due to them, in view of which, when God took them away, they accused Him of injustice. Oh! What a mockery of God's justice, what blindness! Does God then distinguish by means of the body? Is not the physical covering of the poor person just the same as that of the rich person? Has the Creator made two kinds of humanity? Everything made by God is wise and great. Therefore never attribute to Him those ideas created by your own prideful minds.

Oh, you who are rich! While sleeping beneath your golden ceilings safe from the cold, are you unaware that thousands of your brothers and sisters, who in God's eyes are worth just as much as you, sleep upon straw? Are not those who go hungry your equals? I know full well that your pride revolts at my words. You agree to give alms, but you will never shake their hands! "Why so!" you will say, "I, who am of the noblest blood, one of the great of this Earth, equal to those miserable wretches covered in rags! This is a vain Utopia of pseudophilosphers! If we are equal, why would God have placed them so low and me so high?" It is quite true that your vestments are not alike, but if you undressed yourselves what difference would there be between you and them? Nevertheless, those of noble blood would say there is a chemical difference; but till today no such difference has even been discovered between the blood of a lord and that of a plebeian, or that of a master and that of his slave. Who can guarantee that in the past you too have not been wretched and unfortunate as they are now? That you too have not begged for alms? Who can say that one day in the future you will not beg alms of one you despise today? Are riches eternal? Do they disappear when the body extinguishes itself? After all, the body is nothing more than the perishable covering of the Spirit! Ah! Cover yourselves with a little humility! Cast your eyes finally on the reality of the things of this world, on what leads to greatness on the one hand and debasement on the other. Remember you will not be spared from death, for no one is; nor can your titles be preserved from its blow, which may strike today, tomorrow or at any hour. If you bury yourself in your pride, oh, how much you will have to lament! Then you will be deserving of great compassion.

You who are so full of pride, what were you before you became noble and powerful? Probably you were beneath the lowest of your servants. Therefore, bow down your haughty brows, for God can cause you to fall at the exact moment when you most exalt yourselves. All men are equal on the divine scale of justice; only virtue marks the distinction in the eyes of God. All Spirits come from the same essence and all bodies are formed from the same matter. Your titles and names modify nothing. They remain in the tomb and in no way contribute to the possibility of enjoying the fortunes of the chosen. Their titles of nobleness are based solely on acts of charity and humility.

Poor creature! You are a mother! Your children suffer! They are cold and hungry while you, bent under the burden of your cross, go out to humiliate yourself in order to bring them bread! Oh! I bow down before you! How saintly and noble you are, how great in my eyes! Pray and wait, because happiness still is not of this world. God will grant the Kingdom of Heaven to the poor and oppressed who have confidence in Him.

And you, sweet maiden, who are still but a child, thrust into work and privations. Why do you have such thoughts? Why do you cry? Lift up your eyes to God, who is serene and full of pity. He will not abandon you. The sound of parties and the joys of this world make your heart beat faster. You wish to adorn yourself and join together with the fortunate of this sphere. You say to yourself that, like the women you see passing by free of cares and full of laughter, you too could be rich. Oh! Dear child, do not say such things! If you only knew how many tears and what unspeakable pain are hidden beneath those embroidered dresses, how many sobs are muffled by the sound of that noisy orchestra, you would prefer your humble position and pauperism. Maintain yourself pure in the eyes of God if you do not want your Guardian Angel to turn from you, covering his face with his white wings, leaving you to your remorse on this planet, without a guide, without support, where you will be lost and where you will be forced to await punishment in the next world.

All you who suffer injustice from your fellow men, be indulgent with the faults of your brothers and sisters, pondering that you are not exempt from guilt. This is charity and also humility. If you suffer from slander, then bow down your head before this trial. What importance does the slander of this world have for you? If your conduct is pure, cannot God recompense you? Support courageously the humiliations put upon you by man; be humble and recognise that only God is great and powerful.

Oh dear God! Will it be necessary for Christ to return to Earth a second time in order to teach His laws because Man has forgotten them? Will He once again have to expel the merchants from the temple for defiling His house, which should have been kept exclusively for prayer? Ah, who knows? Oh mankind, if God granted this grace once more would you not reject Him yet again? Would you not accuse Him of blasphemy because He would humble the pride of modern pharisees? Perhaps it is even possible that you would make Him follow the road to Golgotha again.

When Moses climbed mount Sinai to receive God's commandments, the people of Israel left to themselves abandoned the true God. Men and women gave whatever gold they possessed in order that an idol could be made for them to worship. Civilized Man still imitates them. Christ bequeathed His doctrine to you, giving examples of all the virtues, but you have abandoned these examples and precepts. Each one of you, charged with passions, has made a god in accordance with your desires; for some, bloody and terrible, for others, indifferent to the interests of the world. Nevertheless, the god you have fabricated is still the golden calf which each adapts to his own tastes and ideas.

My friends, my brothers and sisters, awaken! Let the voices of the Spirits echo in your hearts. Be generous and charitable without ostentation, that is to say, do good with humility. Let each one, little by little, begin to demolish the altars erected by everyone to their pride. In a word, if you are a true Christian you will possess the kingdom of truth. Do not continue to doubt the goodness of God when He is giving so many proofs of this fact. We have come to prepare the way so that the prophesies may be fulfilled. At some possible future time, when the Lord gives you a more resounding demonstration of His clemency, may His celestial messenger find you gathered together in a great family. It is hoped that by then, your hearts being gentle and mild, you will be worthy to hear the divine words He would offer. May the Chosen One encounter only laurels in His path which have been laid there by your having returned to goodness, charity and fraternity amongst men. Then will your world become an earthly Paradise. However, if you remain insensible to the voices of the Spirits who have been sent to purify and renew your civilized society, which although rich in science, is so poor in noble sentiments, then sadly there will be nothing left for you but tears and groans of unhappiness. But that will not happen! You will return to God the Father, and all of us who have contributed to the fulfilling of His wishes will join together in singing a hymn of thanksgiving for His unbounding goodness, so as to glorify Him throughout all the coming ages. So be it. LACORDAIRE (Constantine, 1863).

12. Mankind, why do you complain about the calamities which you yourselves have heaped upon your heads? You despise the saintly and divine morality of Christ, so do not be surprised that the cup of iniquity should overflow on all sides.

Trouble has become generalised. Who is to blame if not you who have unceasingly tried to crush each other? It is impossible to be happy without mutual benevolence; but how can benevolence coexist alongside pride? Pride! This is the root of all your troubles. Apply yourselves therefore to destroying it, if you do not wish continually to perpetuate these fatal consequences. There is only one way which offers itself for this purpose, but it is infallible: take Christ's law as your invariable rule of conduct, that very same law which has been spurned or falsified in its interpretation.

Why do you hold that which shines and enchants the eyes in higher esteem than that which touches the heart? Why do you make the vice of opulence the object of your adulations, whereas you are disdainful of true merit when it is obscure? Whenever a rich debauchee appears, even though he be lost in body and soul, all doors open, all rush to give him attention; whereas a godly person who lives by his work is hardly given a good-day! When the consideration dispensed to others is measured by the gold they possess or the name they use, what interest can they have in correcting their defects?

But it would be very different if the many degrading and immoral practices which are gilded over, were censured by public opinion as much as is the failing of poverty. But pride shows itself ever indulgent to all who flatter it. You say that this is the century of cupidity and money. Beyond doubt; but why allow material necessity to overshadow your good sense and reason? Why must each one wish to place themself above their brother? Society today suffers the consequences of this fact.

Never forget that this state of affairs is always a sign of moral decay and decline. When pride reaches extremes it is an indication of an imminent fall, for God never fails to punish the arrogant. If He sometimes allows them to rise, it is only in order to give time for meditation and to mend their ways under the blows which come to strike their pride from time to time, to serve as warnings.But instead of becoming humble, they rebel. Thus when the cup is full God will cause them to descend, and according to how high they have risen, the more terrible will be their fall.

Suffering humanity, whose selfishness has corrupted all things, we beg you to renew your courage despite everything. In His infinite mercy God has sent you a powerful remedy for all your ills, an unexpected help for all your miseries. Open your eyes to the light! Here are the souls of those who no longer live upon the Earth, who have come to call you to the fulfilment of your true obligations. They will tell you, with the voice of experience, that compared to eternity the vanities and grandeurs of this passing existence become mere trifles. There, the greatest is the one who has been the humblest amongst the most humble of your world; he who has most loved his fellow beings will himself be the best loved in Heaven. If the powerful on Earth abuse their authority, they will find themselves reduced to a position of obedience to their own servants and lastly, humility and charity, who are as two brothers going hand in hand, are the most efficient means of obtaining grace before He who is Eternal. - ADOLF, Bishop of Argel (Marmande, 1862).



MISSION OF THE INTELLIGENT PERSON ON EARTH


13. Never be prideful of what you know, because that knowledge has very restricted limits in the world in which you live. Supposing you were a prominent intellectual celebrity on this planet, still you would have no right to be proud. If God, within His designs, causes you to be born in an ambient where you could develop this intelligence, then it was because He wished you to use it for the benefit of everyone. You have been given a mission by the fact of God having placed an instrument in your hands, which can be used to develop the retarded intelligences around you, and so conduct them to God. Is not the nature of the instrument an indication as to the purpose it should be used for? Does not the hoe which the gardener gives to his assistant, show to what use it should be put? What would you say if instead of working with the hoe, he raised it against his master with a desire to injure him? You would say it was monstrous, that he should be expelled. Well then, is it not the same for he who uses his intelligence to destroy the idea of God and Providence amongst his fellow men? Does he not raise the hoe, which was given to him to till the soil, against his master? Has he then the right to receive the promised salary? On the contrary, does he not deserve to be expelled from the garden? Do not doubt that he will be! Then he will pass through many miserable existences full of humiliations, until he finally bows down before Him to Whom he owes everything.
Intelligence holds great riches in future merits, provided it is well employed. If all men and women who possessed it used it in conformity with God's wishes, then it would be easy for the Spirits to perform their task of helping humanity advance. Unhappily, many have become instruments of pride and perdition against themselves. Mankind abuses intelligence as it does all the other faculties. But nevertheless, there is no lack of teachings which warn of a powerful Hand that may withdraw what has been granted. - FERDINAND, a Protecting Spirit (Bordeaux, 1862).

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