Allan Kardec

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Characteristics of Perfection. - The good person. - The good Spiritist. - The parable of the sower. - INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE SPIRITS: Duty. - Virtue. - Those who are superior and those who are inferior. - The worldly person. - Look after both body and spirit.


1. 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 despitefully use you, and persecute you. 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? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect (Matthew, 5: 44 & 46-48).

2. Since God possess infinite perfection in all things, the proposition: "Be perfect as your Celestial Father is perfect," if taken literally would presuppose the possibility of attaining absolute perfection. If it were given to Man to be as perfect as his Creator, then he would become his equal, which is inadmissible. But the people to whom Jesus spoke did not understand this nuance, which caused Him to limit Himself to the presentation of a model and tell them that they must strive to reach it.

Those words then must be understood in the sense of relative perfection, that which humanity is capable of achieving and which most nearly approaches the Divinity. What does this perfection consist of? Jesus said: "In loving one's enemies, in doing good to those who hate us, in praying for those who persecute us." In this way He shows that the essence of perfection is charity in its most ample form, because it implies the practice of all the other virtues.

In fact, by observing the results of all the vices and even of simple defects, it can be recognised that there is not one which does not more or less disfigure the sentiment of charity, because all of them have their beginnings in selfishness and pride, which are the negation of it. This is due to the fact that everything which over-stimulates our self-esteem destroys, or at least weakens, the elements of true charity which are: benevolence, indulgence, abnegation and devotion. Love for one's fellow creatures, when extended to love for one's enemies, cannot be allied to any defect which is against charity. Therefore for this reason it is always an indication of a greater or lesser moral superiority. From this it follows that the degree of perfection is in direct relation to the extent of this love. It was for this reason that Jesus, after having given His Disciples the rules of charity and all that they contain of the most sublime, said to them: "Be perfect, as your Celestial Father is perfect."


3. The truly good person is one who complies with the laws of justice, love and charity in their highest degree of purity. If they examine their conscience concerning their own actions they will ask themselves if they have violated those laws, if they have practised any evil, if they have done all the good that was possible, if they have voluntarily disregarded any occasion to be useful, if anyone has any complaint to make of them and finally, if they have done to others everything that they would wish done to themselves.

They deposit their faith in God, in His goodness, in His justice and in His wisdom. They know that without His permission nothing can happen. So they submit themselves in all things to His will.

Good people have faith in the future, which is the reason to put spiritual possessions before those of a temporary nature. They know that all vicissitudes of life, all pain and all deceptions are trials or atonements and accept them without murmuring.

Men and women who possess the sentiments of charity and love do good for the sake of goodness, without waiting for payment of any kind. They repay evil with good, take up the defence of the weak against the strong and always sacrifice their own interests in the name of justice.

These kind of people encounter satisfaction in the benefits they are able to spread, in the service they are able to render, in the happinesses they promote, in the tears they are able to dry and in the consolation they offer to those who are afflicted. Their first impulse is always to think of others before themselves and to look after these interests before looking after their own. On the other hand, the selfish person always calculates the benefits and losses arising from any generous action.

The good person is always good, humane, and benevolent with everyone, without distinction as to race or creed, because they see all men and women as brothers and sisters. They respect all sincere convictions in others and never launch reprobation against those who think otherwise.

Charity guides them in every circumstance, because they know that those who prejudice others with evil words, who injure others with their pride by disregarding their susceptibilities, or who knowing they could avoid it, do not draw back at the thought of causing suffering or yet a contrariety, however small, lack the obligation to love one's neighbour and so do not deserve the clemancy of the Lord.

They do not harbour rancour, hate nor yet desire vengeance. Instead they follow the example of Jesus by forgiving and forgetting all offences, only remembering the benefits received, because they know that we ourselves shall be forgiven only in as much as we are able to forgive others.

These kind of people are indulgent with the weaknesses of others because they know that they also need indulgence, remembering that Christ said: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." They do not take pleasure in looking for defects in others, nor in calling attention to them, and if necessity obliges them to do so, they always try to look for the good qualities so as to lessen the bad ones.

Good people study their own imperfections and work unceasingly to combat them, using all their strength, so that tomorrow they will be able to say that they are just a little better than they were the day before.

The good person never tries to emphasize the importance of their own spirit or talents at the expense of others. But on the contrary, they take every opportunity to highlight in others whatever these people may have that is useful. They are not conceited about their riches, nor of any personal advantage, knowing that everything that has been given to them may be taken away.

They use, but do not abuse, the possessions which have been conceded to them because they are only a deposit, for which they will be required to give full account. They know that the most detrimental employment that these riches can be put to is the satisfaction of their own passions.

If then, by social order, a good person has been placed in a position of command over their fellow creatures, they treat them with kindness and benevolence, because before God all men are equal. They use their authority to raise up the morale of these people and never to crush them with their own pride. They avoid everything which might cause a subordinate position to be even more painful than necessary.

On the part of those who are subordinate, let it be understood that the duties which go with this position must be clearly appreciated and conscientiously fulfilled. (See chapter 17, item 9.)

Finally, a good person is always one who respects the rights of their fellow beings, as assured by the laws of nature, in the same way that they would wish their own to be respected.

These are not all the qualities which distinguish a good person, but anyone who tries hard to possess those which have been mentioned will find themselves on the road which leads to all the rest.


4. Spiritism, when thoroughly understood and above all when deeply and sincerely felt, leads to the results already expounded, which characterize the true Spiritist just as much as the true Christian, for they are one and the same. Spiritism does not institute any new morals; it only makes it easier for mankind to understand and practise Christ's morals by giving an unshakable and enlightened faith to those who are in doubt or who waver.

Meanwhile, many of those who believe in the fact of mediumistic manifestations do not comprehend the consequences nor the far reaching moral effects, or if they do, then they do not apply them to themselves. To what is this attributed? Is it due to some failing in the clarity of the doctrine? No, because it does not contain any allegories or forms which could lead to false interpretations. Clarity is the very essence from which it gets its strength, because it touches Man's intelligence directly. There is no mystery, and those who are initiated are not in possession of any secrets hidden from the people.

Is it indispensable then to possess an outstanding intelligence in order to understand? No, in as much as there are people of notable capacities who do not understand, whereas there are many of ordinary intelligence, even young people, who grasp the meaning of even the most delicate points with remarkable precision. This proves that the so called physical part of science only requires eyes to be able to observe, while the essential part demands a certain degree of sensitivity, which can be called maturity in the moral sense and which is quite independent of age or level of education, because it is peculiar to the spiritual advancement of the incarnate soul.

In some people, material ties are still too strong for them to be able to release themselves from earthly things. A kind of mist with which they are surrounded, does not allow them to see into the infinite future. This results in the fact of them not being able to break away from old tendencies or habits because they cannot see that there exists something better than what they already have. They believe in Spirits as a simple fact. But this modifies none or very few of their instinctive tendencies. In a word, they perceive nothing more than a small ray of light insufficient to guide them or offer profound aspirations which would make it possible for them to overcome their inclinations. The phenomenon touches them more than the morality, which seems to them to be hackneyed and monotonous. They ask only that the Spirits unceasingly initiate new mysteries, without asking themselves if they have become worthy of penetrating the hidden secrets of the Creator as yet. These then are the imperfect Spiritists, some of whom have remained stationary in time or have turned away from their brother's and sister's faith, due to their having drawn back before the necessity of self-reform, or perhaps they have kept sympathy with those who share the same weaknesses or prejudices. Nevertheless, the acceptance of the fundamental principles of the doctrine is the first step, from which it will be easier for them to take a second step in a future life.

The person who can be justifiably classified as a true and sincere Spiritist is to be found on a superior level of moral progress. The spirit of this person almost completely dominates their physical body, so giving them a clearer perception of the future. The principles of the doctrine, which leave many untouched, cause them to feel deep inner vibrations. In short, their heart is moved and this is what makes their faith unshakable. It is like a musician who is touched by only a few chords, whereas another person hears only sounds. The true Spiritist can be recognised by their moral transformation and by the efforts they employ in order to dominate their bad instincts. While one is content with a limited horizon, the other, who understands that better things exist, makes every effort to liberate himself and always manages to do this when their desire is strong and true.


5. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered unto Him, so that He went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth. And when the sun came up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up, and choked them: but others fell upon good ground,, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew, 13:1-9).

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the Word of the Kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart This is he which received seed by the wayside. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself but dearth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution Aristech because of the Word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the Word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness ofriches, choke the Word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew, 13: 18-23).

6. The parable of the sower truly represents the various ways in which we may make use of the teachings from the New Testament. There are so many people for whom these teachings are nothing more than dead words which can be compared to seeds which fall on stony ground and produce no fruits at all.

This parable brings us a no less justifiable application of the different categories of Spiritists. Do we not find symbolised in it those who are only attracted to material phenomena, from which they are unable to learn anything, because they only see it as an object of curiosity? Does it not show us those who seek the brilliance of spirit communication merely to interest themselves as long as it satisfies their imagination and who, after listening to the messages, continue to be just as cold and indifferent as they were before? Then there are those who consider the advice very good and admire it, but only apply it to others and never to themselves. Finally there are those for whom the teachings are as seeds which fall on good soil and produce fruits.


7. Duty is a moral obligation, firstly to ourselves and then to others. Duty is a law of life encountered in the smallest details as well as in the most elevated acts. Now I wish to speak only of moral duty and not of that duty which refers to the professions.

Within the order of sentiments, duty is a very difficult one to fulfill because it finds itself in antagonism with the seductions of interest and of the heart. Its victories have no witnesses and its failures suffer no repressions. Man's intimate duty is left to his free-will. The pressure of Man's conscience, this guardian of interior integrity, alerts and sustains him, but shows itself frequently impotent against the deceptions of passion. Duty of the heart, when faithfully observed, elevates Man, but how can we define it with exactitude? Where does duty begin? Where does it end? Duty begins exactly at the point where the happiness or tranquility of our neighbour is threatened, and therefore terminates at the limit we would not wish to be passed in relation to ourselves.

God has created all men equal in relation to pain; whether we be small or great, ignorant or educated, we all suffer for the same motives so that each one may judge in clear consciousness the evil that can be done. With reference to goodness, in its infinite variety of expressions, the criterion is not the same. Equality in the face of pain is God's sublime providence. He desires that all of His children, being instructed through their common experiences, should not practise evil with the excuse of not knowing its effects.

Duty is a practical summary of all moral speculation; it is the bravery of the soul which faces the anguishes of battle. It is both austere and mild, ready to adapt itself to the most diverse complications while maintaining inflexibility before temptations. The man who fulfils his duty loves God more than his fellow beings and loves his fellow beings more than himself It is at one and the same time judge and slave in its own cause.

Duty is the most beautiful laurel of reason, and is born of it as a child is born of its mother. Man should love duty, not because it protects him from the evils of life from which humanity cannot escape, but because it transmits vigour to the soul, which it needs so as to be able to develop.

Duty grows and irradiates under a constantly more elevated form in each of the superior stages of humanity. A person's moral obligations towards God never cease, They must reflect the eternal virtues, which do not accept imperfect outlines, because He wishes the grandeur of His work always to be resplendent before their eyes. - LAZARUS (Paris, 1863).


8. Virtue, at its highest level is a combination of all those essential qualities which constitute a goodly person, namely to be good, charitable, hard working, sober and modest. Unfortunately these virtues are almost always accompanied by slight moral failures which tarnish and weaken them, The person who calls attention to their virtues is not virtuous, because they lack the principle quality which is modesty; but they possess the vice in greatest opposition to modesty, which is pride. Virtue that is really deserving of this name, does not like to exhibit itself. We must pay attention in order to be aware of its presence; it hides itself in the shadows and runs away from public admiration. Saint Vincent de Paul was virtuous. The dignified curate of Ars was virtuous, as are a great many others who are little known in this world, but are known to God. All of these good people were ignorant of the fact that they were virtuous. They allowed themselves to be carried along by their saintly inspirations, practising good with absolute disinterestedness and complete forgetfulness of self.

It is to this virtue, well understood and practised, that I call you, my children. It is to this really Christian and truly spiritual virtue that I invite you to commit yourselves. But remove from your hearts the sentiments of pride, vanity and self-love which always tarnish the most beautiful of these qualities. Do not imitate those people who offer themselves as models, who blow their own trumpets about their own qualities for all who are tolerant enough to listen. This ostentatious virtue almost always hides a mass of little wickednesses and hateful weaknesses.

In principle, the man or woman who exalts themself, who erect statues to their own virtues, by this very fact annul all the merits they might effectively have had. Furthermore, what can be said of those whose only value is in appearing to be what they are not? You must clearly understand that whoever does good has a feeling of intimate satisfaction in the bottom of their heart. But from the moment that satisfaction is exteriorised for the purpose of provoking praise, it degenerates into self- love.

Oh, all of you whom the Spiritist faith has reanimated with its rays, who know just how far away from perfection Man finds himself, you will never deliver yourselves over to this failing! Virtue is a blessing which I desire for all sincere Spiritists, but with this warning: It is better to have fewer virtues and to be modest than to have many and be proud. It was because of pride that the various groupings of humanity through the ages have successively lost themselves. It will be through humility that they will one day redeem themselves. - FRANÇOIS-NICOLAS-MADELEINE (Paris, 1863).


9. Authority, just as much as fortune, is delegated; and those who have received it will be required to give an account of what they have done with it. Do not believe that it has been given for the futile pleasure of command, nor even less as a right or property, as is falsely thought by the majority of powerful people on Earth. Besides, God is constantly proving that it is neither the one nor the other, since He takes it away whenever it pleases Him. If it was a privilege inherent to the person who exercised it, it would be inalienable. However, no one can say that something belongs to them, when it may be taken away without their consent. God confers authority with the title of mission or test, as He sees fit, and takes it back in the same manner.

For the depository of authority, whatever its extent may be, from the master over his servants to a sovereign over his peoples, it must never be forgotten that such people have souls in their charge, and will have to answer for both the good and bad directives given to these subordinates. The misdemeanours these may commit, and the vices to which they may succumb in consequence of the directives received or the bad examples given, will all revert to those in command; just as in the same way the fruits of the solicitudes offered in conducting these subordinates towards goodness will also revert to those in authority. Every good person on Earth has either a small or a great mission, and whatever form it may take, it is always given for the purpose of goodness. Therefore to turn it away from its purpose is to fail in the execution of the task.

If God asks the rich man: "What have you done with the fortune in your hands which should have been a source for spreading fruitfulness all around you?", He will also inquire of those who have some authority: "What have you done with your authority? What evils have you avoided? What progress have you made? If I gave you subordinates it was not so that you could turn them into slaves to your desires, or docile instruments for your whims or your greed. I made you strong and entrusted to you those who were weak, so that you could protect them and help them to climb up towards Me."

The acting superior who keeps Christ's words despises none of his subordinates, because he knows that social distinctions do not exist before God. Spiritism teaches him that if these people are obeying him today, perhaps they have already given him orders in the past, or may give them to him later on, and that then he will be treated in the same manner as when they were under him.

If the superior has duties to be fulfilled, the subaltern also has duties on his side which are no less sacred. If this person is also a Spiritist their conscience will tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they are not exempt from fulfilling these duties even when their superior does not fulfill his, because they know that you do not repay evil with evil and that the failings of some do not authorize others to fail likewise. If they suffer in their position, they will comment that without doubt they deserve it because they have perhaps abused the authority they had been given at some other time, and that now they are feeling the disadvantages that they had made others suffer. If they are obliged to support this situation for want of a better one, then Spiritism teaches them to be resigned as a test of their humility which is necessary for their advancement. Their belief guides them in their conduct; inducing them to proceed as they would wish subordinates to behave towards them, if they were the superior. For this reason they are more scrupulous in the fulfilment of their obligations, as they understand that all negligence in the work which has been confided to them would cause a loss to the one who pays them and to whom they owe their time and effort. In a word, this person is guided by their sense of duty, which their faith has instilled in them, and the certainty that all turning aside from the straight and narrow pathway will be a debt incurred that must be repaid sooner or later. - FRANÇOIS-NICOLAS- MADELEINE. Cardinal MORLOT (Paris, 1863).


10. A sentiment of pity should always animate the hearts of those who gather together under the eye of the Lord, imploring the assistance of the Good Spirits. Therefore purify your hearts. Do not allow yourselves to be perturbed by futile and mundane thoughts. Lift up your Spirits towards those you are calling, so that they, having encountered favourable dispositions, may launch a profusion of seeds which should germinate in your hearts so as to produce the fruits of charity and justice.

Do not think, however, that in constantly urging you to pray and meditate we wish you to lead the life of a mystic, or that you should maintain yourselves outside the laws of the society in which you are condemned to reside. No. You must dwell with the people of your time in the manner in which they live. Sacrifice wants, even frivolities of the day, but sacrifice them with a pure sentiment which can sanctify them.

You are called upon to be in contact with Spirits of diverse natures and opposite characters. do not enter into conflict with anyone with whom you may find yourself. Always be happy and content, with the happiness which comes from a clear conscience and the contentment of one who will inherit Heaven and is counting the days till they receive their inheritance.

Virtue does not consist of having a severe and gloomy appearance, or in repelling the pleasures which the human condition permits. It is sufficient to refer all your acts to God, Who gave you your life. It is enough that at the commencement and at the end of each task you lift up your thoughts to the Creator, asking Him with a heartfelt impulse for His protection in order to execute the work, or His blessing on its termination. On doing anything at all, take your thoughts up to that Supreme Source. Do nothing without first thinking of God, so that this thought may come to purify and sanctify your acts.

Perfection, as Christ said, is only to be found in the practice of unlimited charity, since the duties of charity cover all social positions from the most lowly to the most elevated. The person who lives in isolation will have no means of exercising charity. It is only by being in contact with one's fellow creatures, in painful battle, that we are able to find occasion to practise it. The one who isolates himself therefore is entirely deprived of the most powerful means of perfection. In only having to think of oneself, life becomes that of a selfish person. (See chapter 5, item 26.)

Therefore do not imagine that in order to be in constant contact with us, to live under the watchful eye of God, you must wear a hair shirt and cover yourselves with ashes. No, no, and yet again no! Be happy within the picture of human needs, but in this happiness never allow a thought or an act which could offend God, or cause a shadow to fall upon the face of those who love you or direct you. God is love and He blesses all who sanctify their own love. - A Protecting Spirit (Bordeaux, 1863).


11. Does spiritual perfection depend on the mortification of the body? In order to resolve this question I will base myself on elementary principles and begin by demonstrating the need to take care of the body, which according to the alternatives of health and sickness, has a very important influence upon the soul, because we must consider it to be a prisoner of the flesh. So that this prisoner can live, move itself, and even have an illusion of liberty, the body must be sound, of good disposition, and be vigorous. Let us then make a comparison. Let us suppose that both are in perfect condition; what should be done to maintain the balance between their aptitudes and their necessities, which are so very different?

In this case two systems are confronting each other: that of the ascetics who wish to bring down the body, and that of the materialists who wish to diminish the soul. Two forms of violence, each one almost as foolish as the other. Alongside these two great parties seethe the indifferent multitudes who, without either conviction or passion, love with tepidness and are economic with their pleasure. Where then is wisdom? Where then is the science of living? Nowhere at all! And this great problem would still remain to be solved if Spiritism had not come to help the researchers and demonstrate to them the relationship which exists between the body and the soul, and to tell them that as they are both reciprocally necessary, it is indispensable that both are looked after.
So then, love your soul and also look after your body which is the instrument of the soul. To pay no attention to these needs, which Nature itself indicates, is to ignore God's laws. Do not castigate your body due to failings which your free-will can induce you to commit, and for which it is just as responsible as is the badly driven horse for the accidents it causes. Perchance, will you be more perfect if by tormenting your body you do not become less selfish, less prideful and more charitable towards your neighbours? No, perfection is not to be found in this manner, but exclusively in the reformation to which you submit your Spirit. Discipline it, subjugate it and mortify it; this is the way to make it more docile to God's will, and is the one and only way which leads to perfection - GEORGES, a Protecting Spirit (Paris, 1863).

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