THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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RETURN GOODNESS FOR EVIL

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.

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