The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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Mr. Allan Kardec’s answer to Mr. Editor of the Gazette de Lyon


We received an article signed by C.M., published in the Gazette de Lyon on August 2nd, 1860 under the title “A session of the spiritists”. In that article, although I was not directly attacked, I am so in the person of all those who share my convictions. However, this would mean nothing if your words did not tend to deceive the public opinion about the principles and consequences of the spiritist beliefs, casting ridicule and criticism upon those who profess these beliefs and that you point to the legal courts. Please allow me some corrections about it, while I count on your impartiality with the hopes that you will publish them since you thought adequate to publish the attack in the first place.

You should not think Sir that this has the objective of convincing you or to respond to aggression with aggression. Whatever the reasons that may impede you from sharing our way of seeing things I don’t intend to look for them and I do respect them, if they are sincere. I only ask for reciprocity that is a normal practice among civilized people. With respect to unfriendly name-calling, I don’t have the habit of doing that.

Had you seriously discussed the principles of Spiritism; had you opposed any arguments, good or bad, I could have responded. However, your whole argumentation is limited to classify us as ignorant people; and that is not up to me to discuss if you are right or wrong since pointing out everything that is inaccurate in your assertions would be total personalism.

It is not good enough to tell those who don’t think like us that they are a bunch of fools; anybody can do that. It is necessary to show them that they are wrong. But how can it be done? How to get into the heart of the issue if we don’t know the first word about it? Well, I believe that this is your situation otherwise you would have used better weapons than the banal accusation of stupidity. When you have given the necessary moral time to the serious study of Spiritism – and I warn you that one needs a lot of time – when you have learned everything that can substantiate your opinion, doing an in-depth analysis of all questions; when you have witnessed thousands of experiments, as a mindful and impartial observer, your criticism will then bear some value. Until then it is no more than an individual opinion, based on nothing and it can expose you to be caught off-guard later, accused of ignorance. The beginning of your article is a demonstration of that. Here is what you say: “The so called spiritists are certain hallucinatory people who broke away from every religious belief of their time and country…” Do you know Sir that this is a very serious accusation, even more so for being false and a slanderous? Spiritism is entirely based on the dogma of existence of the soul, in its survival to the body, in its individuality after death, immortality and in the future penalties and rewards. Spiritism does not sanction those truths by theory. Its objective is to patently demonstrate them. That is why so many people who believed nothing have been redirected to the religious ideas. The whole moral of Spiritism is simply the development of Christ’s maxims: the practices of charity, pay evil with good, to be indulgent to one’s neighbors, forgive the enemies; in a word, to act towards the others as we wished they would do towards us. Would you then find these ideas so stupid? Have they broken down every religious belief? No, you will say, but then it is enough to be a Catholic to have those ideas. To have them, maybe, but to practice them is something else, as it seems. Is it very Christian of you, catholic, to insult courageous people who have never done any harm to you, that you don’t even know and that trusted you enough to welcome you in their ambient. Let us suppose that they are wrong. Will it be through name-calling and by bothering them that you will drive them back?

Your article contains another factual mistake that once again demonstrates your ignorance in matters of Spiritism. You say that the “followers are generally workers”. You should then know Sir, to your own benefit, that from the current number of five to six million spiritists, almost all of them belong to the most educated classes of society; among its fervent members, Spiritism counts on doctors in all countries, lawyers, judges, scholars, civil servants of high echelons, officers of all ranks, artists, scientists, businessmen, etc., people that you lightheartedly classify as ignorant. Let us nevertheless get over it. Do the words insult and calumny seem too harsh to you? Let us see.

Have you given enough thought to your words when, after saying that the followers are generally workers, you added with respect to the gatherings of Lyon: “since they don’t receive well those who denounce much intelligence from their looks; the spirits only care to manifest to the simple ones. That is the likely cause of our admission there”. And later you say: “After a brief speech given by the high priest about the nature of the spirits, everything done in a style that may enchant the spirits, due to its… simplicity, the questions began.” I don’t remember the mockery related to the goose pen that according to you the medium used, and other also very witty things. I speak more seriously. I will say only this: your eyes and ears served you very badly because the medium that you speak of does not use a goose pen and both the form and the content of most questions and answers mentioned in the article are pure invention. Those are then small calumnies through which you intended to make your talent shine.

Thus, in your opinion, to be admitted to such worker’s sessions one needs to be a worker, that is, lacking common sense, and you were introduced there because you were certainly taken by a fool. Had they assessed you with sufficient spirit to invent things that don’t exist, it is very likely that they would have shut the door on you.

Have you thought, Sir, that you don’t only attack the spiritists but the whole working class, and in particular that of Lyon? Have you forgotten that these are the very workers, the weavers as you say with contempt, that make your city prosper through the industry? Weren’t those worthless creatures the workers that produced Jacquard? Where have the manufacturers come from, in good number, those who acquired fortune out of their own work, order and savings? Isn’t that an insult to their work comparing their looms to shameful gallows? You ridiculed their language; do you forget that their skill is not that of giving academic speeches? Does one need a sophisticated style to say what is in their mind? Your words are not only frivolous, Sir, and I used this word for consideration. Your words are insensible. If God has never reserved you terrible days, pray for those who feel offended don’t remember that. The spiritists will forget because that is what charity commands them. You must then wish that all of them are, since they drink out of the fountain of Spiritism, the principles of social order, respect to property and religious feelings.

Do you know what the Lyon workers do, those that you treat with so much disdain? Instead of going to get high in the cabarets or being fed by subversive and chimerical doctrines, in that workshop that you contemptuously compare to the cave of Throphonius, amidst those looms of four gallows, they think of God. I have seen them during my staying here. I talked to them and I am convinced of the following: Many among them used to curse their tough work; today, they accept it with Christian resignation, as a trial. Many were envious and jealous of the luck of the wealthy ones; today they know that richness is a trial still more slippery than misery and that the unfortunate person that suffers and does not yield to temptation is the true elected of God. They know that true happiness is not in the superfluous and that those who are called the happy ones in this world also endure cruel anguishes, not appeased by the gold. Many of them laughed at the prayer; today they pray and return to the forgotten path of church, because they did not believe in anything before and now they do. Several would have succumbed in despair; now that they know the fate of those who voluntarily abbreviate their lives, now they yield to God’s will since they know that they have a soul which was uncertain before. Finally, because they know that their passage on Earth is transient and that God’s justice fails no one.

There you have, Sir, what those ignorant people know, as you call them know. They may perhaps express themselves in a ridicule language, trivial to the eyes of a smart man like you, but to the eyes of God the merit is in the heart and not in the elegance of the phrases.

In another point you say: “In former times the Church was powerful enough to silence similar diversions. It was perhaps too harsh, it is true, but it stopped evil. Nowadays, since the religious authority is powerless and common sense does not have sufficient power to do justice to such hallucinations, shouldn’t the established authority intervene …etc.?” In fact, the Church used to burn people at the stake. It is a real shame that we no longer have the stakes. Oh! Disgraceful effects of the progress of the ideas!

I don’t have the habit of responding to diatribes. If it were only about me I would not have said anything. However, since it is related to a belief that makes me proud of professing it because it is an eminently Christian belief, you try to ridicule hard working and honest people just because they are illiterate, forgetting that Jesus was a worker. You provoke them with offensive words; promote the rigor of the law and the religious authorities against them when they are a peaceful people that understand the emptiness of utopias that move them and that have scared you. I had to take their defense, keeping up with the duties imposed by charity, telling them that if others don’t do their duty this is not a reason for them to stay away from theirs.

That is, Sir, the advice that I give you; these are also the advice of the spirits who are silly enough to address simple and ignorant people and not you. It is perhaps because they know that they are going to be better understood. By the way, could you tell me why has Jesus chosen his apostles among the people and not among the scholars? It is certainly because in those days there was no reporter to tell him what to do.

You will certainly say that your criticism only affects the belief in the spirits and their manifestations and not the sacred principles of religion. I am sure about it. Why then saying that the spiritists broke away from every religious principle? The fact is that you don’t know about their basis. Nevertheless, you saw there a person praying with heart and you, a Catholic, you laughed at a person in prayer!

You probably don’t know what that the spirits are either? The spirits are only the souls of those who had lived. Souls and spirits are one and the same thing. Thus, by denying the existence of the spirits you are also denying the soul. Admitting the soul, its survival and its individuality is the same as admitting the spirits. The whole question then is to know if the soul can manifest to the living ones, after death. The sacred books and the priests of the Church have acknowledged that. If the spiritists are wrong so are those authorities. In order to prove it it is necessary to demonstrate, not by a simple denial, but through imperious reasons:

1. That the thoughtful being existing in us during this life can no longer think after death;

2. That if the being thinks it must no longer think of the loved ones;

3. That if the being thinks of the loved ones, it must no longer wish to communicate with them;

4. That if the being can be everywhere, it cannot be around us;

5. That if the being is around us, it cannot communicate with us.

If you only knew the condition of the spirits, their nature, and if I can say so, their physiological organization as they describe it to us, and as the observation confirms, you would know that the spirit and the soul, as the only and the same thing, the spirit lacks only the body that is left behind at death, keeping however an ethereal body that is a fluidic body to the spirit, with whose support the spirit may, under certain conditions, become visible. That is the case of the apparitions that is perfectly admitted by the Church itself, since it uses some of them as an article of faith. Given the foundation above, I will add the following propositions to the previous ones, asking you to prove them:

6. That the spirit cannot act upon inert matter through its fluidic wrapping;

7. That if it can act upon inert matter, it cannot act upon an animated being;

8. That if it can act upon an animated being, it cannot drive their hand and write;

9. That if it can make someone write, it cannot respond to their questions and transmit their thoughts.

When you have demonstrated that everything above is impossible, by the use of so blatant reasoning as those used by Galileo when demonstrating that it is not the Sun that goes around Earth, then your opinion shall be taken into account.

You will certainly object that the spirits sometimes say absurd things in their communications. That is very true; and they do more than that: they sometimes say rude and insolent things. This is because when the spirit leaves the body it does not leave immediately behind all of its imperfections. It is then likely that those who say ridiculous things as spirits also did the same when they were among us. That is why we don’t blindly accept everything that comes from the spirit more than we do to what comes from human beings.

However, I stop here since I don’t intend to give a lecture. It was enough for me to demonstrate that you spoke about Spiritism without having any knowledge about it.

Respectfully yours,

Allan Kardec

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