The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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The Spiritist Review initiates its third year and we are delighted to announce that it does so in the most favorable circumstances. We gladly take the opportunity to express all of our gratitude to the readers for the daily demonstrations of sympathy that we receive from them. That alone would give us great encouragement had we not found in nature itself, and in the objective of our work, enormous moral compensation for the resulting fatigue. The multiplicity of tasks to which we dedicate entirely is such that it is physically impossible for us to respond to all letters of congratulation that come to our hands. Thus, we are forced to respond collectively to their authors, begging them to accept our appreciation. Those letters and the large number of people that give us the honor of coming to us to talk about these serious issues convince us more and more about the progress of the true Spiritism, and by true Spiritism we mean the one understood in all its moral consequences. Not eluded by the actual reach of our work, the simple thought of having contributed by sowing a few grains onto the scale is a kind satisfaction to us because those seeds would have served as a wakeup call to people’s thoughts.

The growing prosperity of The Review is an indication of the benevolence with which it is received. We can only continue our work, following the same guidelines, since it receives the blessings of time, not distancing ourselves from moderation, prudence and courtesy that have always guided us. Leaving to the detractors the sad privilege of calumny and personalism, we shall not follow them in the terrain of hopeless controversy. We say hopeless because it would not lead them to conviction and it is a waste of time to discuss a subject with people who ignore the foundations of what is discussed. We have one thing only to tell them: study first and then we will see. We have better things to do than speaking to those who do not want to listen. As a matter of fact, what does it matter, definitely, the contrary opinion of this or that one? Will such an opinion have so great an influence capable of precluding the natural progress of things? The greatest discoveries had to face the fiercest adversaries, fact that has not discouraged them. Hence, let incredulity hum around us, certain that nothing can veer us off from the route that has been delineated by the seriousness of the subject itself.

We said that the spiritist ideas evolve. In fact, since some time now they have gained immense territory. One would say that they are in the air. Certainly, this is not due to the noise produced by the broad or the small press. If those ideas advance despite everything and against everything else, and despite the ill-will found in certain regions, the fact of the matter is that they are endowed by sufficient vitality. Anyone who takes the burden of studying Spiritism will find such a great moral satisfaction; the future so clear, precise and logically unfolding before them that they will acknowledge that it would be otherwise impossible, even feeling impressed for not having understood it earlier, as if coming from an innermost feeling that had always told them so. Once developed, the Spiritist Science does nothing more than formulating the ideas, retrieving them from the darkness of the deepest self where they have always been.

The future then reveals a clear, precise, perfectly defined objective. It no longer wanders about since its path is clear. No longer a fortunate or disgraceful future which one could not understand and repelled for that very reason. It is a rational future, consequence of the natural laws, capable of withstanding the strictest scrutiny. The human being then feels happy and relieved from the huge burden of uncertainty, and uncertainty is a torment. In spite of anything else, the individual probes the deepness of the future and cannot see it but as eternal. Then comes the comparison between such a future and the briefness and fragility of this Earthly life.

If the future does not offer any certainty it stuns the person, who then bows before the present and refuses nothing to make such idea of the future bearable. His conscience is hopeless when he speaks of good and evil. He says to himself: Good is what makes me happy. Why should I then see goodness somewhere else? Why should I support those in misery? The human being wants to be happy and to be happy one needs to enjoy; enjoy what the others have. The human being wants gold, a lot of gold, sticking to that as to his own life, since gold is the means of having all material pleasures. Why bother with his neighbor’s well-being? What matters is one’s own well-being before anything else. The human being then seeks satisfaction in the present since the possibility of any later satisfaction is unknown in a doubtful future. He then becomes greedy, jealous, selfish, and even with all those pleasures, the person is not happy, yet for life seems too short.

A positive future changes everything: the present is just ephemeral; he sees it goes by with no sadness. He is no longer attracted so much to the material pleasures as they cannot give him but a transient, evanescent satisfaction, leaving emptiness in his heart. He then aspires for a lasting and thus more real happiness. Where can he find it if not in the future? Spiritism frees the individual from the tortures of uncertainty by showing and demonstrating such a future, thus making the individual happy. Well, anything that brings happiness finds followers.

The adversaries of Spiritism attribute its fast propagation to a superstitious fever that takes humanity over through the passion for the extraordinary. However, they should be logical before anything else. We will accept their reasoning, if we can call that reasoning, when they clearly explain why does such a fever hit precisely the educated layers of society, more than the uneducated ones. On our end we say that it is because Spiritism appeals to reason and not to blind faith; that the enlightened classes conduct due diligence, reflect and understand it. Behold, superstitious ideas cannot withstand examination.

As a matter of fact, all of you who attack Spiritism, do you really understand it? Have you studied it, scrutinizing its details, maturely considering all of its consequences? No you did not, a thousand times, you did not. You talk about something that you don’t know. All of your criticism – and I don’t talk about the silly, vulgar and gross diatribes, lacking any reason, bearing no value – I talk about those that at least have the appearance of seriousness; all of your criticism, I was saying, reveal the most absolute ignorance of the subject.

In order to criticize it is necessary to oppose reason against reason, proof against proof. Is that possible without a profound knowledge of the subject? What would you think of someone who intended to criticize a piece of artwork not knowing, at least in theory, the basic rules of drawing and painting; the merits of an opera without knowing music? Do you know the consequences of an ignorant criticism? It is ridiculous and a pure demonstration of lack of common sense. The more elevated the position of the critic; the more he is in evidence, the more his own interest forces circumspection, avoiding the always easy denial of talking about something that is unknown.

That is why the attacks against Spiritism short living, favoring its development instead of precluding it. Those attacks operate as propaganda; they lead to scrutiny and scrutiny can only favor us because we appeal to reason. There isn’t a single article against this Doctrine which has not led to an increase in the number of subscriptions and book sales. Mr. Oscar Comettant’s article (see Le Siècle from October 27th last, and our replica in the Spiritist Review, December 1859) produced the sales of more than fifty samples of the famous Mozart’s Sonata (costs 2 francs net, according to Mr. Comettant’s important and witty observation). The articles of the L’Univers from April 13th and May 28th, 1859 (see our response in the Review in the May and June 1859 issues) oversold the remainder of the first edition of The Spirits’ Book, as well as others. Nonetheless, let us go back to less material things. As long as the opposing arguments are not but of the kind mentioned above, Spiritism shall fear nothing.

We insist that the main source of progress of the spiritist ideas is in the satisfaction given to those dedicated to their serious study, finding in the Doctrine something beyond a futile pastime. Well, since all seeks happiness, it is not surprising that those persons cling to an idea that makes them happy. We said somewhere else that the time of curiosity is over with regards to Spiritism, now replaced by the period of reason and philosophy. Curiosity has its time. Since that time has passed, one objective must replace the other. The same cannot be said about something related to serious thought and philosophy. Spiritism has advanced in particular since the time when people began to understand its reach, in its most subtle essence, for it touches the most sensitive string of the human being: happiness, even still in this world. That is the cause of its propagation; the secret of the strength which shall make it triumph.

All of you who attack Spiritism, do you want a safe way of fighting it successfully? I will give you one: replace it by something better. Find a more logical solution to every issue resolved by Spiritism. Give the individual another assurance, one that makes him happier, but be aware of the reach of the word assurance since the individual will only accept as certain something that seems logical. It is not good enough to say that Spiritism is not that because it is very easy to say so. You must demonstrate not only by denial but also by facts that Spiritism is not, has never been and cannot be it. Finally, prove that the consequences of Spiritism don’t make the individual better through the practice of the purest Evangelical moral, a much acclaimed but rarely practiced moral.

When you have done so, I will be the first to bow before you. Meanwhile, allow me to see your doctrines, the denial of any future, as the source of egotism, a worm which corrodes society, and consequently a true plague. Yes, Spiritism is strong, and it is stronger than you since it is based on the very foundations of religion: God, the soul, the future reward and penalties, all based on the good deeds or evil actions which one may practice. You are supported by incredulity. Spiritism invites the human being to happiness, to hope and true fraternity. You offer people with the nothingness for perspective and selfishness for consolation. Spiritism explains everything while you explain nothing. Spiritism demonstrates through facts, you demonstrate nothing. How would you expect any hesitation between the two doctrines?

In summary, we attest that – and everyone sees and feels like we do – Spiritism has treaded a gigantic step this last year and such a step is a guarantee of the next step for this coming year. It was not only the considerable increase in the number of followers but a remarkable change has taken place in the general opinion, even among those who are indifferent. They say that, bottom line, that there may well be something in Spiritism; that one should not intend to offer a hastily assessment. Those who shrugged their shoulders start to fear the ridicule by connecting their names to a precipitated judgment, which can be denied later. Thus, they prefer to remain silent and wait. There will still be and for a long time, no doubt, people who will try to belittle it since they have nothing to lose with the acknowledgement of posterity, some for their lightheartedness or ill-faith, others out of pure machination.

Nevertheless, we are okay with the idea of being taken to Charenton since we would get there in good company and such a tasteless joke, like many others, is a common place which does not bother us, due to the absolute lack of reason shown by such attacks. The weapon of ridicule, a supposedly frightening weapon, evidently wears out, falling from the hands that manipulate them. Has it lost its power? No, as long as it does not shoot at false targets. Ridicule can only kill what is ridiculous in itself, only having the appearance of seriousness, stimulating the hypocrite, removing their masks. Something that is really serious will only receive minor blows, leaving the battlefield always triumphant. Just observe if a single great idea, attacked by the ignorant and jealous crowd from its inception, has fallen, not standing its ground! Well then, Spiritism is one of the greatest ideas since it touches the most vital issues of human happiness, and one cannot go unpunished for spreading jokes about such a serious matter.

Spiritism is strong because it is founded on the natural laws; responding to its adversaries by recruiting people around the world since its infancy. A few years more and its detractors, impotent to combat it through reason will be so much out of touch and so much isolated that they shall be forced to shut up, opening their eyes to the light.

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