THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER 8

BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART

Simplicity and pureness of heart. - Sinning by means of thought. Adultery. - True pureness. Unwashed hands. -Offences. If your hand is the cause of an offence, cut it off. -INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS: Let little children come unto me. - Blessed are those whose eyes are closed.


SIMPLICITY AND PURENESS OF HEART


1. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew, 5: 8).

2. And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the Kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And He took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them (Mark, 10:13-16).

3. Pureness of heart is inseparable from simplicity and humility. It excludes all ideas of selfishness and pride. This was why Jesus took infancy as the symbol of purity and humility.

It might appear unjust to make this comparison seeing that the Spirit of a child could be very old, and on being reborn to corporeal life might bring with it the imperfections which it had not been able to cast off during previous incarnations. Only a Spirit who has reached perfection can offer an example of true purity. However, from the point of view of our present life it offers an exact comparison because a child, having had no opportunity as yet to manifest any perverse tendencies, presents us with an image of innocence and purity. So it becomes clear that Jesus did not say the Kingdom of Heaven was meant for children, but for those who resemble them.

4. Since the Spirit of a child has lived before, why does it not show itself as it really is right from birth? Everything in God's work is full of wisdom. A child needs special care which only a mother's tenderness can bestow, tenderness which stems from the frailty and ingenuousness of the child. For a mother, her child is always an angel and this is the way it must be in order to captivate concern. She would not be able to offer the same solicitude if, in place of ingenuousness, she saw virility and adult ideas in the infantile features, nor if she came to know the past of that incarnate Spirit.

From the time of birth ideas gradually take on shape and impulse according to the development of the organs, from which it is possible to say that during the first years the Spirit is truly a child, because all ideas which form the true character remain dormant. During this period of dormancy, in which the instincts are also latent, the Spirit is more malleable, more accessible to impressions which can modify the character and which helps the Spirit progress. All of which makes it easier for the parents to educate the child at this stage.

The Spirit then, wears a temporary tunic of innocence and so Jesus was right when, not withstanding the anteriority of the soul, He takes a child as the symbol of purity and simplicity.


SINNING BY MEANS OF THOUGHT. ADULTERY


5. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew, 5: 27 & 28).

6. Under no circumstances should the word adultery be accepted in the exclusive sense to which it is commonly applied, but rather it should be understood in more general terms. Jesus used it many times in an extensive sense to designate evil, sin and every type of bad thought, as for example in this passage: " Whosoever therefore, shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He commeth in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark, 8: 38).

True pureness is not only in behaviour but also in thought, since the person who has a pure heart does not even think evil. Jesus wished to say that He condemned sin even in thought, because it is a sign of impurity.

7. This principle naturally leads to the following question: Do we suffer consequences for a bad thought even if it is not followed by the actual action?

At this point it is necessary to make an important distinction. As the soul advances along its path to evolution and spiritualization, it will slowly become enlightened, and so little by little divest itself of its imperfections according to the greater or lesser goodwill it demonstrates within its freewill.

Therefore all evil thoughts result from the imperfections of the soul. But according to the strength of the desire to purify itself, the evil thought becomes a means of advancement when it is energetically repelled. This is an indication of a positive action by the soul in order to extinguish a blemish. In this way it will not give in to the temptation to satisfy an evil desire, and having resisted, the soul feels itself to be stronger and content with the victory.

On the contrary, the person who has made no good resolutions will look for every opportunity to practice evil, and if this is not achieved it will not be for the wanting, but for the lack of opportunity. This person then will be just as guilty as if he or she had actually committed evil.

To summarize, a certain degree of progress has already been achieved by the person who does not conceive the idea of committing evil; for the person who feels the urge but constantly repells it, progress is in the process of realization; for the person who thinks in terms of evil, taking pleasure in these thoughts, then the evil still exists in all its strength. In the one the work has been done, whereas in the other it is still to be started. But being just, God takes into account all these gradations when it comes to individual responsibilities for acts and thoughts.


TRUE PURENESS. UNWASHED HANDS


8. Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were in Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandments of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, honour thy father and mother: and, he that curseth father and mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, it is a gift; by whatsoever though mightest be profited by me; and honour not his father or his mother he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.

And He called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto Him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But He answered and said, every plant; which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Matthew, 15:1-14).

9. And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him: and He went in, and sat down to meat And when the Pharisee saw it; he marvelled that He had not first washed before dinner, and the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also?. (Luke 11: 37-40).

10. The Jews had scorned God's true commandments in order to cling to the practice of regulations which had been established by man and had made the observance of these regulations a matter of conscience. The original simple substance became lost beneath complicated forms of ritual. As it was much easier to practice exterior cult than to effect moral reform, to wash hands instead of cleansing the heart, Man became deluded, believing himself exonerated before God by conforming to these practices. Thus, seeing that the people were taught that God demanded nothing more of them, they remained the same as they had always been. Hence the prophet said: 'But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine commandments of men."

The verification of this can be found in the moral doctrine of Christ, which has ended up in second place and as a result many Christians, just like the ancient Jews, consider that salvation is better guaranteed by means of external practice rather than by moral practice. It is to these man- made additions to God's law which Jesus referred to when He said "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up."

The object of religion is to conduct humanity towards God. Well, God can only be reached through perfection. Therefore every religion which does not make Man better than at the present time, will never reach its objective. Everything which Man judges will support him in committing evil, is either false or had its principles falsified. Such is the result of all religions where the form surmounts the base. Belief in the efficiency of exterior manifestation is null and void if it does not oppose the acts of murder, adultery, robbery, the causing of slander or damage in whatsoever form to whomsoever it may be. These kinds of religion never create godly men and women, only people who are superstitious, hypocrites and fanatics.

The mere appearance of pureness is not enough, because above all else it is necessary to have a pure heart.


OFFENCES. IF YOUR HAND BE THE CAUSE OF AN OFFENCE, CUT IT OFF


11. Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost (Matthew, 18: 6-11).

And if thy right hand offends thee, cut it off and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of they members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Matthew, 5: 30-29).

12. In its most usual sense the word offence means any action which goes ostensively against morality or decorum. The offence is not in the action itself so much as in the repercussion it may cause. The word always implies a certain amount of commotion and dispute. Many people are content if they avoid causing offence in public, because this would cause them to suffer loss of prestige, so hurting their pride. They do their best to hide their mistakes as this is sufficient to quieten their consciences. They are, as Jesus said: "As white sepulchres which are full of rottenness, like vessels which are clean without, but dirty within."

But in the evangelic sense the accepted meaning of the word 'offence', used so repeatedly, is very much more generalised and this is why in certain cases its meaning is not understood. It becomes not only that which affects the conscience of another person, but also everything which is the result of vice and human imperfections, every bad reaction from one individual to another, with or without repercussion. In this case the offence is the effective result of bad morality.

13. Jesus said: It is necessary that offences exist in the world, because due to the many imperfections of those on Earth, humanity shows itself inclined to practice evil and also because bad trees only bring forth bad fruits. From these words then, we must understand that evil is the consequence of Man's imperfections and not that there exists an obligation to practice evil.

14. It must needs be that offence comes so that humanity, being in atonement here on Earth, may punish itself by contact with its own failings, thus becoming its first victims, from whence it will finally come to understand the inconvenience of this way of life. When people are tired of suffering due to evil, they will seek a remedy in goodness. Therefore the reactions caused by these failings serve for some as a punishment and for others as a test. This is how God gets good out of evil and how humanity makes use of badness.

15. It could be said then, that evil is necessary and that it will last forever, seeing that if it disappears God would be deprived of a powerful means of being able to correct the guilty. It could also be said that it is useless to try to better mankind. However, if we ceased to have culprits then it would be unnecessary to have any kind of punishment.

Let us suppose that mankind was transformed, so becoming composed only of good men and women, then no one would think of doing evil to his neighbour and all would be happy to be good. This is the condition found in the elevated worlds, where evil has been banished. This is what will come to pass here on Earth, when Man has made sufficient progress. But new worlds are populated by primitive Spirits and also serve as places of exile, places of atonement, for those Spirits who are imperfect, rebellious, persistent in evil or who have been expelled from worlds which have become places of happiness.

16. But woe to that man by whom the offence comes. That is to say, that evil always being evil, the person who without knowing serves as an instrument of Divine justice, whose bad instincts were utilized, commits no less an evil and so deserves punishment. In this manner an ungrateful child is a punishment or trial for the parents, who are forced to suffer by its attitude. This is because the mother or father had themselves been bad children and made their parents suffer. So they pay the penalty. But the circumstances should not be an excuse for the child's behaviour, who in return will have to pay the penalty through his or her own children, or in some other manner.

17. If your hand be the cause of offence, cut it off. This is a very strong statement and it would be absurd for it to be taken in its literal sense. It should therefore be understood that each one must destroy within themselves everything that might cause offence, that is to say all evil, by rooting out every impure thought and every tendency towards violence, corruption or depravity. It also means that it is preferable for a man to cut off a hand rather than use it to commit an evil action, or better still, to lose one's sight rather than allow one's eyes to conceive bad thoughts. For those who take the trouble to discover the allegoric meaning of His words, Jesus never said anything that was absurd. Nevertheless, many things cannot be understood without the key to decipher them and this key is offered to us through Spiritism.


INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS.

LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME UNTO ME


18. Christ said: "Let the little children come unto me." Profound in their simplicity these words do not contain just a call to children, but also a call to the souls who gravitate in the inferior regions where misfortune knows no hope. Jesus also calls to the infantile intellectuality of the adult, to the weak, to those in slavery, to the depraved and to the wicked. He could teach nothing to the physically infantile, still bound by matter and submitted to the yoke of instinct, as these had not yet reached the superior category of reason nor of free-will, which is exercised around them and for their benefit.

Jesus wanted mankind to deliver themselves to Him with confidence, in the same way that tiny tots, with their special appeal, win over the hearts of women, who are all mothers. Then He could submit these souls to His tender and mysterious influence. He was the flame which brought light to the darkness, that dawn light which announces the sunrise. He was the initiator of Spiritism, which should in its turn attract to Him not the children, but men of goodwill. Vigorous action has begun; it is no longer a question of instinctive belief and mechanical obedience; it is necessary for Man to follow the intelligent law which shows its universality.

Dearly beloved, the time has come in which, when explained, all fallacies will become truths. We shall teach the exact meaning of the parables and show the strong correlation existing between what was and what is now. In truth I say unto you that these great spiritual manifestations will open up the horizons and that this is the messenger which will shine resplendently as the sun upon the mountain top. - JOHN THE EVANGELIST (Paris, 1863).

19. Let the little children come unto Me for I have the milk which will strengthen the weak. Let all those who are fearful, feeble, in need of help and consolation come unto Me. Let the ignorant come unto Me, so that I may enlighten them. Let all who suffer come unto Me, together with the afflicted and the unfortunate. I will teach them the great remedy which will soften their ills, revealing unto them the secret that will cure their wounds! What is this supreme balsam, my friends, which possesses such high virtue that it may be applied to all types of wounds suffered by the heart and heal them? It is love and charity! If you possess this divine flame, what is there to be afraid of? Then every moment of your life you will say: "Dear Father, I pray that Your wish be done and not mine; if it be Your pleasure to test me through pain and tribulations, blessed be it, because I know it is for my own good. If it pleases you Lord, have mercy on this weak creature, giving justifiable happiness to this heart and blessed be it yet again. But do not allow divine love to lie sleeping in my soul; make it rise up unceasingly and present itself at Your feet as witness of my gratitude."

If you have love, then you have the most desirable thing on Earth. You possess a most precious pearl which no occurance, nor malice of those who hate and persecute, can take away. If you have love you will have placed your treasure where the worms and rust cannot attack, having extinguished everything capable of defiling the pureness of your soul. Every day you will feel the diminishing weight of matter, and like a bird in the sky which no longer remembers the Earth, will continually rise up without ceasing till your soul, full of exhilaration, fills itself with the elements of the true life in the bosom of the Lord. - A Protecting Spirit (Bordeaux, 1861).


BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE EYES ARE CLOSED.*


20. My good friends, why did you call me? Was it because you wished that I put my hands upon the unhappy sufferer that is present and cure her? Ah, what suffering, dear God! She has lost her sight and darkness envelopes her. Poor child! Let her pray and wait. I do not know how to perform miracles, if God does not wish it. All the cures that I have been able to obtain, that you have been informed about, can only be attributed to He who is our Father. In your afflictions always lift up your eyes to Heaven and say from the bottom of your hearts: "Lord, cure me, but cause my sick soul to cure itself before you cure my body; let my flesh be chastised, if this be necessary, so that my soul may rise up to Your bosom with the same whiteness it possessed when You created it." After this prayer, my friends, may the good Lord always hear you. Then you will be given strength, courage and perhaps also the cure for which you have asked, in recompense for your abnegation.

However, since I am here in this assembly which deals principally with study, I will tell you that those who are deprived of their sight should consider themselves blessed in their atonement. I would remind you that Christ said it was better to pluck out your eye if it were evil, and that it was preferable to cast it into the fire rather than allow it to become the cause of your condemnation. Ah! How many there are in this world who one day, when they are in absolute darkness, will curse the time they saw the light! Oh yes, how happy are those who through atonement find they have been struck in their sight! Then their eyes will not be the cause of offence nor of their downfall. They can live the full life of the soul. They can see more than those whose vision is clear! ... When God permits that I open the eyelids of some of these sad sufferers and restitute the light, then I say to myself: Dear soul, why do you not wish to know all the delights of the Spirit who lives by love and contemplation? Then you would not ask to see images that are less pure and gentle than those you glimpse through your blindness.!

Oh! Blessed is the blind person who wishes to live with God! More fortunate than you who are here at this moment, he feels happiness; it is tangible to him; he sees the souls of men and can rise up with them to the spiritual spheres where he can perceive what even the predestined of the Earth cannot manage to see. Our eyes, when open, are always ready to cause the downfall of the soul; whilst, when shut, they are always ready to help us rise up in the direction of God. Believe me, my good and dear friends, on many occasions blindness is the true light of the heart, whereas sight is frequently the angel of darkness which leads to death.

And now, a few words directed at you, my poor sufferer. Wait and be of good faith! If I were to say: "My child, your eyes will op en," how jubilant you would feel! But who knows if this joy would not be the cause of a great loss! Have faith then in the good Lord who gives us happiness and permits sadness. I will do everything for you that I am permitted, but on your side you must pray, and even more important, meditate on all that I have said.

Before I leave, may all who are here gathered together receive my blessing. VIANNEY, parish priest of Ars (Paris, 1863).


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* This communication was given in response to an appeal of a blind person, in whose name the Spirit of J. B. Vianney, a parish priest of Ars, was evoked.

21. REMARKS: When an affliction is not a consequence of acts committed in this life, then we must look for the cause in a previous life. Everything which we call a whim of chance is nothing more than the effect of God's justice. He does not inflict wilful punishment, but desires that every penalty be in accordance with the misdeed. If in His goodness He has cast a veil over our past actions, He has also pointed out the way by saying: "Who kills by the sword shall perish by the sword." From these words we should understand that each creature is always punished according to the way in which he or she has sinned. If someone suffers the torment of losing their sight, then it is because their sight was the cause of their downfall. It might also be that this person was the cause of someone else losing their sight, perhaps in consequence of excessive work that had been imposed upon them by the one who has now lost theirs; perhaps also through ill treatment, lack of care, negligence, etc. In these cases the person responsible always undergoes the penalty caused by his own actions. On repenting, he may have chosen this very atonement, thereby applying to himself the words of Jesus: "If your eye is the motive for offence, then cast it out."


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