Allan Kardec

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Return goodness for evil - Discarnate enemies. Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. - INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS: Vengeance. - Hate. - Duelling.


1. Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite fully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? (Matthew, 5: 43- 47).

For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew, 5: 20).

2. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke, 6: 32-36).

3. If the principle of charity is to love one 5 neighbours, then to love one 5 enemies is the most sublime application of this same principle, seeing that the possession of this virtue represents one of the greatest victories which can be achieved against selfishness and pride.

However, there is usually a misunderstanding in relation to the meaning of the word 'love' in this situation. When He spoke, Jesus did not mean that each one of us should have the same tenderness for an enemy as would be felt for a brother, sister or friend. Tenderness presupposes confidence; well, no one can deposit confidence in another person knowing that they bear malice; no one can show effusive friendship knowing that the other person is likely to abuse the situation. Between people who have no confidence amongst themselves there cannot be the same manifestations of sympathy which exist between those who share the same ideas. In short, no one can feel the same pleasure when they are with an enemy as would be felt when in the company of a friend.

The diversity of feelings in these two very different circumstances is the result of a physical law, which is the assimilation and repulsion of vibrations. An evil thought produces a vibrationary current which causes an unpleasant impression. A good thought encompasses us with a very agreeable emanation. This is the reason for the different sensations which are experienced on the approximation of a friend or an enemy. So then, to love one's enemy cannot signify that there should be no difference between the affection for an enemy and that for a friend. If this precept seems difficult to put into practice, perhaps impossible, this is only because it was falsely understood that Jesus had ordered us to give both friends and enemies an equal place in our hearts. Seeing that the restrictions of the human language oblige us to use the same term to express different shades of a sentiment, it is then necessary to establish these differences according to the various cases.

Therefore, to love one's enemies does not mean showing affection which would not be within our nature, as contact with an enemy makes our heart beat in an entirely different manner to the way it beats on contact with a friend. To love one's enemy means we should not hate, nor bear rancour against them, nor desire vengeance. It means to forgive all the evil they have caused without hidden thoughts and without conditions. It means to not put obstacles in the way of a reconciliation and to wish them well, instead of bad things. It is to feel joy, instead of regret, at the good things that may come their way; to help them whenever possible and to abstain by words or acts from everything which might prejudice them. Finally, it means to always return goodness for evil without any intention to humiliate. Whosoever can proceed in this manner fulfils the conditions of the commandment: Love your enemies.

4. To those who are incredulous, loving an enemy is contra sense. For those to whom the present life is everything, an enemy is someone noxious, who perturbs their rest and from whom, as is thought, only death can bring liberation. This is a reason for desiring vengeance. These people are not interested in forgiving, unless it is to satisfy their pride before the world. In certain other cases the act of pardon seems to them to be a weakness to which they will not stoop, and even if they do not reap vengeance, they will certainly retain rancour and evil desires against the other person.

For the believer and above all for the Spiritist, the way of looking at this situation is very different because their vision extends over the past and into the future, between which the present life is nothing more than a point in time. The Spiritist knows that due to the peculiar destiny of this planet, meeting with evil and perverse people is to be expected. The wickedness to be faced is all part of the ordeals to be supported. From this elevated point of view, the vicissitudes are easier to bear, less bitter, whether they originate from other fellow beings or from things. If they do not complain to themselves of their trials, neither should they complain to those who serve as instruments. If, instead of bemoaning, Spiritists were to thank God for being put to the test, they should also thank the hand that offers them the opportunity to demonstrate their patience and resignation. This idea will naturally dispose them towards forgiveness. They also know that apart from this, the more generous they are the more they become elevated in their own eyes, so putting themselves beyond the reach of their enemies' darts.

The person who occupies an elevated place in this world does not feel they are offended by the insults of those whom they consider their inferiors. The same happens in the moral world to those who elevate themselves above materialistic humanity. They understand that hate and rancour only degrade and lower them. In order to be superior to their adversary, their soul must be larger, nobler and more generous than his.


5. The Spiritist has still other motives for being indulgent towards his enemies. In the first place, he knows that evil is not the permanent condition of mankind. This occurs due to the temporary state of imperfection, and just as children correct themselves of their defects, so the evil man or woman will one day recognise their errors and so gradually become good people.

The Spiritist also knows that death is only a relief from the material presence of the enemy, because this enemy can continue to pursue with hate even after leaving the Earth. They also know that the vengeance which was seized on fails in its objective, as it has the contrary effect of causing even more irritation, which is capable of continuing on from one existence to another. It was up to Spiritism to prove through experience and the law which governs relationships between the visible and invisible worlds, that the expression: extinguish hate with blood is radically wrong, and that in fact blood only feeds hate, even in the after-life. It is therefore up to the doctrine to offer a positive reason for this fact, together with a practical motive for forgiveness and for Christ's commandment: Love your enemies. There is no heart so perverse that it will refuse, even though reluctantly, to show itself to be sensitive to good behaviour. Through good comportment it is possible to take away all pretext for retaliation and , who knows, even make a friend out of an enemy, before and after death. Through bad behaviour Man only succeeds in irritating his enemy, who then becomes the instrument which God's Justice will use to serve as a punishment for those who are unable to forgive.

6. It is always possible to find enemies amongst both incarnates and discarnates. Our enemies in the invisible world manifest themselves and their malice by means of obsession and subjugations, as can be frequently seen. These represent a kind of trial, which as in other types of trials, help in the process of advancement, and for this reason the sufferer should accept them with a certain amount of resignation. These happenings are also a consequence of the inferior nature of this globe, for if there were no evil people on this planet then there would be no evil Spirits around it either. Hence, if we are to be benevolent with our incarnate enemies, we should also treat those of them who are discarnate in a like manner.

In days gone by it was the custom to make bloody sacrifices of innocent victims, in order to appease the hellish gods who were none other than evil Spirits. These fiendish gods followed on after the devils, who are the same thing. Spiritism shows us that these devils are merely the souls of perverse men and women, who have not yet disposed of their material instincts and that no one can succeed in appeasing them, except by sacrificing the hate that exists, that is to say, by being charitable towards them. This has the effect of not only stopping them in their evil practices, but also of recovering them and bringing them back to the path of goodness, thus contributing to their salvation. In this way the maxim: Love your enemies, is not circumscribed to the Earth ambient and the present life, but rather forms part of the great universal laws of solidarity and fraternity.


7. Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (Matthew, 5: 38-42).

8. The prejudices of the world with respect to what is commonly called 'a point of honour' produces the kind of sombre susceptibility which is born of pride and the glorification of ones own personality, which in turn leads mankind to return an injury or offence with another. This is taken as justice, by those whose moral sense is still embedded in worldly passions. This was why the law of Moses prescribed an 'eye for an eye' and a 'tooth for a tooth', in accordance with the epoch in which Moses lived. When Christ came, He said: 'Return goodness for evil,' and added: 'Do not resist the evil that they wish to do to you, if someone shall smite thee on thy cheek, present him the other also, To the proud this teaching seems cowardly because they do not understand that it takes more courage to support an insult than it does to take vengeance. This is always due to the fact that their vision does not go beyond the present.

Should we then take this precept at its face value? No, no more than the other, which tells us to pluck out our eye when it is the cause of offence. If we were to take these teachings to their final consequences, it would mean the condemnation of all restraint, even legal restraint, so leaving an open field for those who are evil by absolving them from any kind of fear. If no one were to check their acts of aggression then very quickly the good would also become their victims. The very instinct of self-preservation, being one of the laws of Nature, prevents anyone from offering themselves for assassination. By enunciating that maxim, Jesus did not mean that self-defence is forbidden, but rather that He condemned vengeance. Telling us to offer the other cheek when one has been injured, is merely another way of saying we must not repay evil with evil. Mankind should humbly accept everything that serves as a means of weakening his pride. There is greater glory in receiving an offence, than in being the offender; of patiently suffering injustice, than practising it; in being deceived, than being the deceiver; to be ruined rather than be the one who causes the ruin. It is also the condemnation of all duelling, which in actual fact is nothing more than the manifestation of pride.

Only faith in the future life and the justice of God, who never allows evil to go unpunished, can give a person the necessary strength to patiently support the blows dealt to either their interests or their self-respect. This is why we are constantly repeating how necessary it is to look to the future; and the more we are able to raise up our thoughts above this material life, the less we shall be hurt by the things of this world.


9. Vengeance is one of the last relics of the barbaric customs, which tend to disappear from the human race. It is, like the duel, one of the last vestiges of the savage habits under which humanity was struggling at the outset of the Christian era. This is why vengeance constitutes a sure indication of the backward state of the men and women who lend themselves to it and also of the Spirits who inspire them. Accordingly, my friends, this sentiment should never vibrate in the heart of anyone who proclaims themself to be a Spiritist. You know full well that to avenge oneself is so much against Christ's precept: 'Forgive your enemies', that the person who refuses to forgive not only is not a Spiritist, but certainly is not even a Christian. Vengeance is an even more ruinous inspiration when its companions are assiduous in falseness and baseness. Indeed, they who deliver themselves to this fatal and blind passion, almost never seek vengeance openly. When they are the stronger, they fall savagely upon those they call the enemy, seeing that the mere presence of these persons inflames their spite, anger and hate. However, in most cases they assume a hypocritical attitude, concealing the evil sentiments which animate them deep in their hearts. In hidden ways they follow their unsuspecting enemy in the shadows, awaiting an opportunity to strike without danger to themselves. While hiding from their enemy, they constantly spy on them, preparing a hateful trap and when the occasion is propitious, they put the poison in the cup.

When their hate does not reach such extremes, they attack the victim through their honour and affections; nor do they hesitate in the use of slander and perfidious insinuations, ably spread on all sides, which increase along the way. As a consequence, when the one who is being persecuted presents themself in those places where the whispers of the persecutor have past, they are astonished to receive a cold reception instead of friendly and benevolent faces from those who had previously welcomed them. They are even more surprised, when instead of outstretched hands, even these are refused. Finally they feel themselves defeated when even their greatest friends and closest relatives withdraw and avoid them. Ah! The coward who seeks vengeance in this manner is a hundred times more guilty than the one who confronts his enemy and insults him face to face! So let us do away with these primitive customs! Let us dispense with these procedures from bygone days! Every Spirit who still today lays claim to a right to seek vengeance for themselves, is no longer worthy to take part in the phalanx who hold as their motto: Without charity there is no salvation! But no, I can no longer detain myself in the thought that a member of this great Spiritist family would dare in the future to give in to the impulse of vengeance, instead of forgiveness. - JULES OLIVIER (Paris, 1862).


10. Love one another and you will be happy. Above all else, take to heart the need to love all those who inspire indifference, hate and scorn. Christ, who should be considered as the model, gave an example of this kind of devotion. Missionary of Love that He was, He loved so much as to give His very blood and life for Love. It is a painful sacrifice to love those who insult and torment us, but it is exactly this sacrifice which makes you superior to them. If you were to hate them, as they hate you, then you would be worth no more than they. To love them is the Immaculate Host you offer to God on the altar of your hearts, which will envelop you in its aroma as if it were a sweet perfume. If the law of Love demands that each one love all their brothers and sisters without distinction, it does not mean that the heart will be protected as if by a breastplate against evil conduct On the contrary, it is the most anguishing of trials, which I know full well, having experienced this same torture during my last earthly existence. But God is ever present, and punishes in this life or the next all who violate the law of love. My dear children, do not forget that love draws us near to God and hate drives us away from Him. - FENELON (Bordeaux, 1861).


11. A person is only truly worthy if, when thinking of life as a journey which leads to a determined point, they take little heed of the roughness of the way and do not allow their footsteps to turn aside from the straight and narrow path. With their gaze firmly set on a distant point to be reached, it is of no importance to them that briars and thorns threaten to scratch, as these do not impede progress. To devote one's time to avenging an affront is to recoil before life's ordeals and is always a crime in the eyes of God; and if you were not beguiled, as indeed you are, by your own prejudices, you would see it as being ridiculous and supreme madness.

It is a crime to commit homicide by duelling, as even your own laws recognize. No one has the right, under any circumstances, to make an attempt against the life of a fellow creature as this is, I repeat, a crime in the eyes of God who has traced the line of conduct required to be followed. In this case, more than in any other occurance, you are your own judge. Remember, you will be pardoned only in as much as you are able to pardon others. Through the act of pardoning you draw near to the Lord, since clemency is akin to strength. While even a drop of blood drawn by the hands of Man flows upon the Earth the true Kingdom of God, wherein will reign peace and love which will banish animosity, discord and wars forever, will still not have been implanted on this planet. When this happens the word 'duel' will exist in your language only as a distant and vague remembrance of a past that is gone. Then no other antagonism will exist amongst mankind, apart from the noble rivalry of righteousness. ADOLF, Bishop of Argel (Marmande, 1861).

12. Beyond all doubt, in certain cases duelling may constitute a test of physical courage, of disdain for life. But unquestionably it is a proof of moral cowardice, just as suicide is. The suicide has not the courage to face the vicissitudes of life, whereas the duellist cannot support offences. Was it not Christ who said there is more honour and value in presenting the left cheek to he who has hit you on the right, than in avenging an offence? Did He not say to Peter in the Garden of Olives: 'Put away your sword because he who kills with the sword shall also perish by the sword'? In so saying did He not condemn for ever the act of duelling? In fact, my children, what kind of courage comes from a violent disposition, from a bloody and wrathful temperament which bellows at the slightest offence? What greatness can be found in a person who at the least insult believes that only blood can repair the damage? Let him tremble! For, from the bottom of his conscience a voice will persist in saying: "Cain! Cain! What have you done to your brother?" And he will answer that it was necessary to spill blood in order to save his honour. Then the voice will reply: "In the few minutes that remain to you of your earthly life, you thought only to save your honour before men, but you never thought to save it before God!" Poor wretch! How much blood will Christ demand of you for all the violence He has received? Was it not enough that you injured Him with thorns and lances? That you put on Him an infamous garment, and that in the middle of His atrocious agony, you made Him listen to the mockery and derision that was showered upon Him? How many reparations has He asked of you for your many offences? The last cry of the Shepherd was a supplication to God in favour of His torturers! Oh! Be like Him! Forgive and pray for those who offend you.

My friends, remember the precept: 'Love one another.' Then for every blow received through hate, you will be able to reply with a smile and to every affront, you will offer forgiveness. Without doubt the world will rise up in fury and treat you as a coward. So, lift your head up high and show you are not afraid to gird yourself with thorns as Christ did, and that your hand does not wish to be accomplice to an assassination authorized by false ideas of honour, that are nevertheless nothing more than pride and self-conceit When God created Man, did He bestow the right of life and death one over the other? No, this right was given only to Nature for the purpose of reconstruction and reorganization, whereas you are not permitted to dispose even of yourselves. The duellist then, just as the suicide, will find himself marked by blood when he comes before God. For both of these the Supreme Judge will reserve long and harsh penalties. If this same Judge has threatened all who call their fellow beings by the name of Raca, how much more severe will be the punishment for those who reach His presence with the blood of their brothers and sisters on their hands! - SAINT AUGUSTIN (Paris, 1862).

13. The duel, once called God's justice, is one of the most barbaric customs still persisting in some human societies. What would you say, however, if you saw two adversaries being plunged into boiling water or submitted to the contact of red hot iron, in order to put an end to their dispute? The one who is right being he who best suffers the test? Would you not classify these customs as being unreasonable and senseless? Well, duelling is far worse than all this. For the dextrous duellist it is nothing short of murder, practised in cold blood with all due premeditation, since he is certain of the efficiency of the blow to be dealt. For the adversary, who is almost sure to succumb by virtue of his weakness and inability, it is suicide committed after cold reflection. I know that on many occasions the person has sought to avoid the consequences of the criminal alternative by placing the responsibility for the act upon chance. Is this not going back, under another name, to the ideas from the Middle Ages of God's Judgement? We remind you that in those times Man was infinitely less guilty. It is true that the very use of the words 'God's Judgement' reveals a naive faith, but it was always some small degree of faith in the Justice of God, Who could never allow the innocent to succumb, whereas a duel resorts to brute force to such an extent that frequently the one who was offended is the one who succumbs.

Oh, senseless conceit, foolish vanity and insane pride, when will you be substituted by Christian charity, by love of one's fellow creatures and by humility, all of which were prescribed and exemplified by Christ? This will only happen when Man ceases to be dominated by these monstrous preconceptions, which the laws are impotent to repress because it is not enough to prohibit evil. For this to occur it is necessary for the source of goodness and the horror of evil to live jointly in the hearts of all humanity. - A Protecting Spirit (Bordeaux, 1861).

14. "What will they say about me," you frequently ask, "if I refuse to make the reparation that is being demanded of me or if I do not complain about those who offend me?" Those like you who are foolish, those who are backward, will censure you. But those who have been enlightened by the beacon of intellectual and moral progress will say that you have proceeded with true wisdom. Let us reflect then for a moment. Due to a word, sometimes said without thinking or the wish to offend, coming from one of your fellow beings, your pride is hurt, so you then reply scathingly and there stems a provocation. Before the decisive moment arrives ask yourself if you are behaving like a Christian. What will you have to answer to society for if you rob it of one of its members? Think of the remorse of having deprived a woman of her husband, a mother of her child, the children of their father and with this their means of sustenance! For sure, the one who offended owes a recompense. But is it not more honourable to give this spontaneously, recognising one's errors, than to endanger the life of the one who has the right to complain? As to the offended, it so happens that sometimes, because they feel gravely injured themselves or that someone dear to them has been insulted, it is not only self-respect that is at stake, but that their heart has been hurt and is suffering. So apart from it being stupid to risk one's life by throwing oneself against a wretch who is capable of infamy, we would ask if when the person dies, does the insult or whatever it was, cease to exist? Is it not true that when blood is spilt it leaves an even deeper impression of a fact which, if false, will fall of its own accord and if true, would be better buried in silence? Then nothing more is left than the quenching of the thirst for vengeance! Ah! Unhappy satisfaction which almost always gives way, even in this life, to pungent remorse! When it is the one that was offended who succumbs, where is the retribution?

When charity finally becomes the general rule of conduct for humanity, all acts and words will be confined to this maxim: Do not do to others that which you would not wish them to do to you. When this happens all causes for dissensions will disappear and with this the duels and wars, which are only duels between nations - FRANÇOIS-XAVIER (Bordeaux, 1861).

15. Because of an offensive word, possibly something slight, a man of the world throws away his life, which came from God, or throws away the life of a fellow creature, which also belongs to God. This man is a hundred times more guilty than the scoundrel, driven by covetousness and sometimes by necessity, who enters into a residence with intent to rob and kills all those who oppose his intentions. In this case, we are usually dealing with a person of little education having an imperfect notion of good and bad; whereas the duellist, as a rule, belongs to the more cultured class. The one kills with brutality, while the other kills with method and refinement, in view of which society forgives him. I would even add that the duellist is infinitely more guilty than the scoundrel who, on giving way to a desire for vengeance, kills in a moment of exasperation. The duellist however does not have the excuse of a frenzy of passion, because between the moment of insult and retribution there has been time for reflection. He acts coldly, with premeditation, studying and calculating everything so that he may be more sure of killing his opponent It is true he also exposes his own life, which is what rehabilitates him in the eyes of the public, as they see only an act of courage and disregard for life. But is there any courage on the part of someone who is sure of himself? The duel, reminiscent of barbarous times in which the right of the strongest was law, will disappear as a result of a better appreciation of what a point of honour really means, and according to the extent that mankind deposits living faith in a future life. -AUGUSTIN (Bordeaux, 1861).

16. REMARKS: As time goes by, duelling is becoming more and more rare. But if from time to time a painful example still occurs, at least the number is greatly diminished compared with days gone by. In those olden days a man could not leave his house without anticipating an encounter, and so always took the necessary precautions. A characteristic sign of the habits of those times and of the people was the habitual presence, either ostensible or hidden, of arms for both attack and defence. The abolition of this custom demonstrates the softening of habits, and it is interesting to follow this graduation from the epoch in which a gentleman only rode out covered with armour plate, to the times when a sword at the waist was more an ornament or blazon than a weapon of aggression. Another indication of the modification of these customs is that formerly these strange combats were held in the middle of a thoroughfare before a mob, whereas in more recent times they were held in secret. At present, death is something which causes emotion. But in other times no one took any notice of it.

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