Allan Kardec

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10. Matter being the object of the work of the spirit for the development of his faculties, it is necessary that it should be able to act upon matter; that is why man has come to inhabit it as the woodcutter lives in the forest. The former being at the same time the object and instrument of the labor, God, instead of uniting him to the rigid stone, created for his use organized flexible bodies, capable of receiving all the impulsions of his will, and of lending themselves to all his movements.

The body is then at the same time the envelope and the instrument of the Spirit; and, as the latter acquires new aptitudes, it is reinvested with an appropriate envelope for the new kind of work which it must accomplish, as a workman is given finer utensils for his work as he becomes capable of performing more difficult tasks.

11. In order to be more exact, it is necessary to say that it is the spirit itself which fashions its envelope, and appropriates it to its new needs. It brings it toward perfection, develops and completes the organism by measure as it experiences the need of manifesting new qualities. In a word, it makes him in accordance with his intelligence. God furnishes the materials for the work; it is up to the Spirit to put it to functioning. Thus advanced races have an organism or, one might say, utensils of a more refined order than the primitive races. Thus is explained the special seal which the Spirit imprints on the expression of the face and manner (Chap. VIII, n°7: The Spirit of the Earth).

12. As soon as the spirit is born into self-conscious life, it must for its advancement make use of its faculties, which are at first in a rudimentary state. That is why it is invested with a material envelope, appropriate to its state of intellectual infancy - an envelope which it quits in order to be reinvested with another suited to its enlarged forces. Now, as from all time worlds have existed, and as these worlds have given birth to organized bodies proper to be receptacle of Spirits, from all time Spirits have found what their degree of advancement was, and the necessary elements for their material life.

13. Bodies being exclusively material are subject to the vicissitudes of matter. After having for some time operated, it becomes disorganized and decomposed. The vital principle, no longer finding an element for its activity, is extinguished, and the body dies. The Spirit, for whom the body deprived of life is henceforth useless, leaves it as one moves away from a ruined house, or throws an article of wearing apparel aside, after it is no longer serviceable.

14. The body is then simply an envelope to receive the Spirit; consequently, its origin and the materials of which it is composed matters little. Let the body of man be a special creation or not, it is certainly formed from the same elements as that of animals, animated by the same vital principle, and one might say heated by the same fire, as it is lighted by the same luminary, subject to the same vicissitudes and to the same needs; this is a point upon which there can be no controversy.

Considering only matter and abstracting the Spirit, man has nothing which distinguishes him from the animal; but there is an immediate change of aspect when the distinction between the habitation and the inhabitant is made.

A great lord under his own roof, or dressed in the garments of a peasant, is a great lord. He is always the same man; it is not by his vestment that a man is elevated above the brute, and made a unique being, it is by his Spirit.

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