The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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Society, October 19th, 1860

A spirit by the name of Balthazar showed up spontaneously in a private meeting, dictating the following phrase by knocks: “I like good food and women; cheers to melon and lobster, coffee and liquor!”

It seemed to us that this sort of disposition from an inhabitant of the other world could give rise to a serious study, from which we could take instructive teachings about the faculties and sensations of certain spirits. To us it was an interesting object of observation that showed on its own, or even better, which could have been sent by the superior spirits, willing to provide us with more instructions. We were to blame if we did not use this opportunity. It is obvious that the burlesque statement of that spirit reveals a very special condition, whose study can shed light onto what we can call physiology of the spiritual world.

That is why the Society decided to evoke him and not for a futile motive, but with the hopes that a new subject of instruction would be found. Certain people believe that we can only learn from the spirits of great individuals. It is a mistake. It is true that only the elevated spirits can give us lessons of high theoretical philosophy but the knowledge about the actual condition of the spiritual world is not less important to us. Studying some spirits we are somehow surprised by their flagrant nature. It is seen by the wounds that we can find the means of healing them. How could we be aware of the future penalties and rewards if we had not seen unfortunate spirits? Through them we understand that one can suffer a lot without being thrown into the fire or without experiencing physical tortures in hell, and such conviction, given by the spectacle of the dregs of the spiritual world, is not one of the causes that have least contributed to attract adepts to the Doctrine.

1. Evocation. – A. My friends, here you have me before a great table, but ah! It is empty!

2. This table is empty that is true; however, can you tell us what good would it do to you if it had plenty of food? What would you do with that? – A. I would feel its smell as I did with its taste in the past.

OBSERVATION: This answer contains a whole teaching. We know that the spirits have our sensations and feel the smells as well as the sounds. Since they cannot eat, a material and sensual spirit feeds from the emanation of the food; enjoys them by the smell, like they did through taste when alive. Hence there is something of material in their pleasure, but as there is really more desire than reality, by nudging the desires the pleasure becomes a punishment to the inferior spirits that still keep their human passions.

3. Let us talk seriously, I beg you. Our purpose is to learn, rather than play games. Kindly respond seriously to our questions and if necessary please use the support of a more enlightened spirit. You have a vaporous body, we know that well. But tell us, if there is a stomach in such a body? – A. An also vaporous stomach that can only take smells.

4. When you see tasty food do you feel like eating them? – A. Ah! I can no longer eat! Those foods to me are like the flowers to you; you smell but you don’t eat. That is it then! I am also satisfied.

5. Does it give you any pleasure to see other people eating? – A. A lot, when I am around.

6. Do you feel the need to eat and drink? Please notice that we say need; a short while back we used the word desire, which is different. – A. Need, no; but desire, yes, always!

7. Is that desire completely satisfied by the smell that you inhale? Is it the same as if you were eating? – A. It is the same as asking you if the sight of a badly wanted object satisfies you as much as if you had possession of that object.

8. Thus, as it seems, your desire must be a real torture since there is no real pleasure. – A. A torture greater than you think. But I try to confuse myself, creating the illusion.

9. Your condition seems too material to us. Tell us: do you sleep eventually? – A. No. I enjoy wandering around.

10. Does time seem too long to you? Do you ever get bored? – A. No. I visit the fairs and markets; I see the catch arriving at the fish market and that keeps me really busy.

11. What did you do when alive on Earth?

Note: Someone says that he would certainly be a cook. – A. I did appreciate the good food, not as a glutton. I was a lawyer, son of a gastronome, and grandson of a gastronome. My parents were “ fermiers généraux” (businessmen that in the old monarchy had the right of collecting taxes, before the payment of a certain fixed amount to the treasury). Responding to the preceding comment, the spirit added: - A. You see now that I was not a cook and I would not invite you to my feasts because you don’t know how to eat or drink.

12. Have you been dead for a long time? – A. I died about thirty years ago, when I was eighty years old.

13. Do you see other spirits happier than you? – A. Yes. I see some spirits whose happiness consists on loving God. I still don’t know that. My thoughts remain on Earth.

14. Do you understand the causes that make them happier than you? – A. I still don’t appreciate them, like the one that doesn’t understand a fine dish and cannot appreciate it. Perhaps I will get there. Good-bye. I will look around for a little delicious and succulent dinner.

OBSERVATION: This spirit is a real phenomenon. It is part of that large group of invisible creatures that have not moved anything above human condition. The only difference is the lack of material body but their ideas are exactly the same. This is not a bad spirit. The only thing against him is the sensuality, at the same time a cause of torment and joy. Then, as a spirit he is not very unhappy; he is even happy in his own way. But God knows what expects him in a new existence! A sad return may well make him think and develop the moral sense, still subdued by the supremacy of the senses.

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