The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

Back to the menu
Dear Sir,

You have dedicated the publication of Le Siècle newspaper, of October 27th last, to the spirits and their partisans. Despite the ridicule you have cast over a problem much more serious than you think, I am pleased with the fact that by attacking the principle you have maintained the courtesy of the form, for it is not possible to say in a more candid way that we have no common sense. Thus, I will not confuse your witty article with the gross diatribes that give a sad idea of the good taste of the authors, worthy of all educated persons, adepts or not.

I do not have the habit of responding to criticism. Hence, I would have let your article pass, as done to many others, if I had not been assigned by the spirits to thank you in the first place for having given attention to them, and second to give you an advice. Please understand Sir that if it were for me I would not have done it. I do my job. That is all.

• How come! You may say – do the spirits give importance to a paper that I wrote about them? It is very kind of them.
Certainly, because they were by your side when you wrote it. One of them who is very sympathetic to you, even tried to preclude you from using certain reflections, in his opinion not worthy of your sagacity, afraid of the criticism that you might have to face, not from the spirits with whom you hardly occupy, but from those who are aware of your knowledge. Be sure that they are everywhere; that they know everything that is said and done and that at the time of reading these words, they will be by your side, observing you. You can then say:
• I cannot believe in the existence of these beings who inhabit space and that we cannot see. • Do you believe in the air that you don’t see, and yet surround us?
• That is very different. I believe in the air because although I cannot see it I can feel it; I hear its roar in the storm, resonating through the chimney of the fireplace, and I see the objects that it displaces.
• Well then! The spirits are also heard; they also displace solid objects, lift, transport and break them.
• Oh well, Mr. Allan Kardec! Appeal to your reason. How do you want intangible beings – supposing that they do exist, fact which I would only admit if I saw them – to have such a power? How can immaterial creatures act upon matter? That is not reasonable.
• Do you believe in the existence of those myriads of tiny animals that rest on the palm of your hand, which can be covered to the thousands just by the tip of a needle?
• Yes, because I don’t see them with my eyes but the microscope allows me to see them.
• However, before the invention of the microscope, if you were told that you have thousands of tiny creatures leaping from and onto your skin, that a clear single drop of water holds a whole population, that you massively absorb them with the purest air that you breathe; what would you have responded? You would have screamed against the absurd, and if you were a newspaper reporter you would have written against the tiny beings, fact which would not prevent them from existing. You admit it today because the fact is easily recognizable. Before that, however, you would have declared that it was something impossible. Then, why is it so irrational to believe that space is populated by intelligent beings that, although invisible, are not microscopic? As for myself I must confess that the idea of little beings, like homeopathic creatures, having visual, sensorial, circulatory, respiratory, etc. organs seem even more extraordinary to me.
• I agree but still these are material beings, they are something, while your spirits, what are they? They are nothing. These are abstract, immaterial beings.
• To begin with, who told you that they are immaterial? Observation – and I here ask you to balance well this word observation, which does not mean system – observation, I was saying, demonstrates that these occult intelligences have a body, an envelope (wrapping); invisible, that is correct, but not less real. Well, it is through that semi material envelope that they act upon matter. Are the solid bodies the only ones to show a driving force? On the contrary, aren’t the rarefied bodies those that show such a power in its highest degree, such as air, vapor, all gases, and electricity? Why then you deny it to the substance that constitutes the envelope of the spirits?
• I agree, but those substances are invisible and intangible in certain cases, and condensation may turn them visible and even solid. We can hold, keep and analyze them, fact that makes their existence irrefutably demonstrated.
• Well! That is a good one! You deny the spirit because you cannot place it inside a retort (distillation flask) to know if it is composed of Oxygen, Hydrogen and Nitrogen. Please tell me if before the discoveries of modern Chemistry, the composition of air, water and the properties of a number of invisible bodies were known, whose existences were even unsuspected. What would then be said to anyone who announced the wonders that we now admire? Charlatans and dreamers would have taken them. Suppose you have in your hands a book written by a scientist of those days, denying all these things, and even trying to demonstrate their impossibility. You will say: here we have a very pretentious scientist, who took the matter lightheartedly, issuing an opinion about something that he did not know enough. An abstention would have been better to keep his reputation. In one word, you would have a not so good opinion about his judgment. Well then! In a few years we will see what will be thought of those who try to demonstrate today that Spiritism is just a chimera. It is, no doubt, regrettable to certain people and to the amateurs that the spirits cannot be placed inside a flask to be observed at will. Don’t you think, however, that they absolutely escape our senses! If the substance that constitutes its envelope is invisible in its natural state, it can also experience a kind of condensation, like that of the vapor, but by another cause, or to be more exact, by a molecular alteration that makes it momentarily visible and even tangible. We can then see them as we see one another, and touch them. They can grab us and leave marks in our limbs. But such a state is temporary. They can leave such state as fast as it was acquired, not as a consequence of a mechanical rarefaction, but as a result of their will, since those are intelligent beings rather than inert bodies. If the existence of the intelligent beings who populate space is demonstrated; if, as just seen, they exert influence over matter, why is it strange that they can communicate with us, transmitting their thoughts through material means?
• If the existence of those beings is proved, yes. That is where the problem is, though.
• Initially, the important thing is to demonstrate that possibility. Experience will do the rest. If that existence is not demonstrated to you, it is to me. I hear you saying, intimately: - “that is a weak argument.” I agree that my personal opinion has little value, but I am not alone. Many more, before me, thought the same. I did not invent or discover the spirits. Such a belief count on millions of adepts, as much as or more intelligent than I am. Who will decide among the believers and unbelievers?
• Common sense, you will say.
• Be it. I however add that time helps us daily. But how can those who don’t believe award themselves with the privilege of common sense, when the believers are mostly recruited not among the ignorant but the educated ones, whose number increases day by day? I take it from my own correspondence; by the number of foreigners who come to see me; by the distribution of our Review, which is now completing its second year and has subscribers in the five continents, in the highest echelons of society and even in the thrones. Honestly tell me if this is the march of an empty idea, of a utopia.
Attesting this capital point in your article, you say that it threatens to take the proportions of a scourge and add: “Oh! God! Didn’t the human kind already have enough frivolities to impact reason, without this new doctrine which comes to take over our poor brain?”
It seems that you do not appreciate doctrines. Not everyone likes the same things. I will only say that I don’t know the intellectual role to which the human being would have been reduced if, since his existence on Earth, he did not have his doctrines that made him think, moving him away from the passive state of the brute. There are, no doubt, good and bad doctrines, just and false, but it was to distinguish them that God gave us reason.
You forgot something: the precise and clear definition of what you call frivolities. There are people who define in such a way everything with which they disagree, but you have sufficient intelligence to believe that it is your exclusivity. There are other people who give such a classification to all religious ideas, who see the belief in God, in the soul and its immortality, in the future penalties and rewards as those things of pious people and to intimidate the children. I don’t know your opinion about it but taking from your article someone might infer that you somehow share some of those ideas. Irrespective if you share those ideas or not, I allow myself to say, with many others, that the true scourge is in those ideas, if they spread. With materialism; with the belief that we die like the animals and that after death is the nothingness, and good has no reason to be, and the social ties no consistency. It is the sanction of selfishness. The penal law would be the only barrier to preclude the human being from exploiting others. If that is so, how can we punish a person that kills his fellow human being to take his wealth over? You will then say, because that is evil. But why is it evil? And he will respond: There is nothing after me. It is all gone. I fear nothing. I want to live the best possible here, and for that purpose I will take from those who have. Who forbids? Your law will? Your law will be right if I am caught. But if I am smarter, if I escape the law, then reason will be with me.
Then I will ask you which society could subsist under similar principles?
That reminds me of the following fact:
A gentleman who, as they say, did not believe in God or in the devil, and did not hide it, noticed that his servant was robbing him. One day he caught the man by surprise and asked:
• How dare you, scum, take what is not yours? Don’t you believe in God?
The servant laughed and responded:
• Why should I believe if you don’t believe yourself? Why do you have more than I do? If I were rich and you poor, who would prevent you from doing what I am doing? I was unlucky this time, and that is all. I will try to do better in the future.
That gentleman would feel happier if his servant had not taken the belief in God so frivolously. It is from that belief and the others deriving from it that man owes his true social security, much more than to the severity of the law, since the law cannot reach everything. If the belief was entrenched in everyone’s hearts, there would be nothing to fear from each other. Frontally attacking that belief is the same as loosening the reins of all passions, destroying all scruples. That is what has recently taken a priest to say these sensible words, when asked about his opinion with respect to Spiritism: “Spiritism leads to the belief in something. Well, I prefer those who do believe in something to those who believe in nothing, for these don’t even believe in the need for the good.”
Spiritism, in fact, is the destruction of materialism. It is the patent and irrefutable proof of what certain people call futilities, as: God, the soul, a happy or unhappy future life. That scourge, as you call it, has other practical consequences. If you knew, as I do, how many times it has reestablished the calm to hearts broken by sorrow; which kind consolation it spreads over the miseries of life; how much it soothes hatred, preventing suicides and you wouldn’t scoff as much.
Suppose that one of your friends tells you: “I was desperate; I was about to blow my brains out but today I know how much it would cost me and I gave up.” If another tells you: “I used to envy your merit and superiority. Your success impacted my good night’s rest. I wanted vengeance, to defeat you, to ruin you. I even wanted to kill you. I confess that you were in great danger. Today, however, I am a spiritist, I now understand how wrong those feelings were and I renounce them. Instead of doing you harm I came to help you.” You would probably say: “There is thankfully something good in that madness.”
What I am saying Sir is not to convince you or to convert you to my ideas. You have your own convictions, which are enough to you, solving all questions with respect to the future. It is then very natural that you keep them. But you have introduced me to your readers as the promoter of a scourge. Then I had to show you that it would be desirable that no scourge produced a greater evil, starting from the materialism. I count on your impartiality to transmit my answer to them. You will then say:
• But I am not materialist. One can very well not bear that opinion and still doesn’t believe in the manifestations of the spirits.
• I agree. Then you are a spiritualist without being a spiritist. If I was wrong with respect to your convictions, it is because I took literally your declaration towards the end of your article. You say: “I believe in two things: in the love of people towards everything that is wonderful, even when that wonderful is absurd, and in the editor who sold me the fragment of a Sonata by Mozart for 2 francs.”
If all your belief is limited to that, it seems to me to be the cousin of skepticism. But I bet that you believe in something more than in Mr. Ledoyen, who sold you a fragment of the Sonata for 2 francs. You believe in the product of your articles that, as I suppose, if I am not mistaken, you don’t offer by the love of God more than Mr. Ledoyen does with his books. Every person has one’s own profession. Mr. Ledoyen sells books. The writer sells prose and verses. Our poor world is not sufficiently advanced so that we can live, feed and dress for free. Perhaps one day the property owners, tailors, butchers, and bakers are sufficiently enlightened to understand that it is dishonorable to ask for money. The booksellers and writers will then be dragged by the example.
• With all that you did not give me the advice given by the spirits.
• Here it is: It is prudent that we don’t speak frivolously about what we don’t know. Let us imitate the wise reservation from Arago, who said with respect to the animal magnetism: “I could not approve the mystery made by the serious scientists when watching experiments of somnambulism. Doubt is a demonstration of modesty and it rarely hinders the progress of Science. We cannot say the same about incredulity. The one, who, outside the field of pure mathematics, pronounces the word impossible, indicates lack of prudence. Reservation is a duty, particularly when referring to animal organisms.”
(News from Bailly)

Related articles

Show related items
Wait, loading...