Allan Kardec

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1. The existence of the spiritual principle is a fact needing no more demonstration than does the existence of the material principle. It is sort of axiomatic truth; it affirms itself by its effects as matter by those which are peculiar to it.

According to the maxim, “all effects have a cause; all intellectual effects must have an intelligent cause.” There is no one who would not see a difference between the mechanical effect of a bell agitated by the wind and the movement of this same bell destined to give a signal, a notice, attesting by that a thought, an intention. Now, as it can occur to no one to attribute the thought to a bell, one concludes that it is moved by an intelligence to which it serves as an instrument of manifestation.

For the same reason no one thinks of attributing thought to the body of a deceased man. If a living man thinks, it is because there exists something in him that is not destroyed by his death. The difference between him and the simple bell is that the intelligence that makes the bell ring is outside of it, whereas that which makes a man act comes from within.

2. The spiritual principle is the corollary of the existence of God. Without this principle God would forever remain unrevealed to man; for one could not conceive sovereign intelligence reigning eternally over only animal matter, or a terrestrial monarch reigning throughout his life only over stones. As one cannot admit God to be without the essential elements of divinity, justice, and goodness, these qualities would be useless if exercised only over matter.

3. On the other hand, one would not be able to conceive of a God sovereignly just and good creating intelligent and sensible beings, in order to condemn them to nothingness after a few years of suffering without compensation, enjoying a view of an indefinite succession of beings who are born without having demanded the gift of life, who are endowed with the power of thought only to learn pain, and are destroyed after an ephemeral existence.

Without the survival of the thinking being, the sufferings of life would be on the part of God cruelty without object. This is why materialism and atheism are consequences of one another. Denying the cause, one cannot admit the effect; denying the effect, one cannot admit the cause. Consequently materialism is not reasonable.

4. The idea of the perpetuity of the spiritual principle is innate in man. It is present in him through intuition and aspiration; he comprehends that there alone is compensation for the ills of life. That is why there always have been and always will be more spiritualists than materialists, more theists than atheists.

To the intuitive idea and to the power of reason Spiritism comes to add the sanction of facts - the material proof of the existence of a spiritual being, of its survival, immortality and individuality. It points directly to and defines that which was vague and abstruse in this thought. It shows us the intelligent being acting outside of matter either during or after the life of the body.

5. The spiritual and vital principle are by no means one and the same thing!

Commencing always with the observation of facts, if the vital principle were inseparable from the intelligent principle, there would be some sense in confounding them. But, as we see some beings who live without thinking, like plants - beings animated with organic life, who give no manifestation of thought; as there are produced in living beings active movements independent of the act of the will; as during sleep organic life is in all its activity, whilst intellectual life does not manifest itself by any exterior sign - we are induced to conclude that organic life resides in a principle inherent in matter, independent of the spiritual life which is inherent in Spirit. Consequently, as matter possesses vitality independent of Spirit, it is evident that this double vitality reposes upon two different principles (Chap. X, n° 16 to 19).

6. Does the spiritual principle have its source in the universal cosmic element? Can it be only a transformation of it? A mode of existence of this element, like light, heat, electricity, etc?

If it were thus, the spiritual principle would submit to the vicissitudes of matter. It would be extinguished by disintegration, as is the vital principle. An intelligent being would have a momentary existence, like unto the body; and at death it would be annihilated, or return into the universal whole, which is the doctrine of the materialists.

The properties sui generis which are found in the spiritual principle prove that it has an independent existence of its own; but, if it had its origin in matter, it would not have these properties. Consequently, as intelligence and thought cannot be attributes of matter, one arrives at the conclusion that the material and spiritual elements are the two constituent principles of the universe. The individualized spiritual element constitutes the beings called Spirits, as the individualized material element constitutes the different organic and inorganic bodies of nature.

7. Admitting there is a spiritual being, and its source found to be outside of matter, what is its origin? From whence does it come?

Here the means of investigation absolutely fail, as in all matters relating to the beginning of things. Man can ascertain only that which is material. Upon all else he can establish only hypothesis. Whether this knowledge is beyond the compass of his present intelligence or whether it is useless or inconvenient for him to possess it now, God does not give it to him even by revelation.

That which God reveals to him by his messengers, besides that which man is able to deduce for himself from the principle of sovereign justice, which is one of the essential attributes of divinity, is that all have the same starting-point; that all are created simple and ignorant, with an equal aptitude to progress by their individual activity; that all will attain the degree of perfection compatible with the creature by their personal efforts; that all, being children of the same Father, are objects of an equal solicitude; that there is no one more favored, or better endowed than another, or excused from the labor which would be imposed upon others in order to attain the end.

8. In the same way as God has created material worlds during all time, he has equally created spiritual beings for the same length of time; without this, the material worlds would have been useless. One could rather conceive of spiritual beings without material worlds, than the latter without spiritual beings. Material worlds must furnish to spiritual beings the elements of activity for the development of their intelligence.

9. Progress is the normal condition of spiritual beings and relative perfection the object to which they must attain. Now, as God has always created, and is always creating, there must be some spirits who have reached the highest point of the ladder of progress.

Before this world was created, worlds had succeeded to worlds, and, when sprang forth from the chaos the elements which form this globe, space was peopled with spiritual beings in all degrees of advancement, from those who were just born into life to those who through countless ages had ranked among the pure Spirits, commonly called angels.

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