The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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Ladies and gentlemen, and all of you, my dear and good brothers in Spiritism:

The warm and benevolent welcome that I received from you, since my arrival, would be enough to make me proud, if I did not understand that such testimonies are addressed much less to the person than to Spiritism, of which I am no more than one of the most humble servers. It is the consecration of a principle and I feel doubly happy, for this principle must one day ensure human’s happiness and the appeasement of society, when it is well understood and even better when it is practiced. Its adversaries only combat it because they do not understand it. It is up to us; it is up to the true spiritists, to those who see in Spiritism something more than experiments more or less curious, making it understood and propagating it, preaching by actions as much as by words. The Spirits’ Book resulted in the demonstration of its philosophical reach. If this book has any merit it would be presumptuous of me to be proud of it because the Doctrine that it contains is not my creation. The honor for the good that it has done is due to the wise spirits that have dictated it and that used me as their server. I can then hear the praise without harming my modesty and without exalting my self-esteem. Had I wished to prevail from that I would certainly have claimed its conception, instead of having it attributed to the spirits; and If there is any doubt about the superiority of those who cooperated, one just needs to take into account the influence that it has exerted in such a short time, only by the power of logic, and without any of the material means proper to super excite curiosity.

Nonetheless, ladies and gentlemen, the warmth of your reception shall be a powerful encouragement to me in my laborious undertaking, which I have turned into the reason of my life, because it gives me the consoling assurance that the good hearted individuals are no longer so rare in this materialistic century, as people like to proclaim it.

The feelings that such benevolent testimonies make germinate in me are better understood than expressed; and what gives them a priceless value to my eyes is that they are not driven by any personal consideration. I do thank you from the bottom of my heart, in the name of Spiritism, especially on behalf of the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, that shall be happy for your kind demonstrations of sympathy, and proud for having such a great number of good and loyal comrades in Lyon. Allow me to cover in a few words the impressions I take from my brief passage among you.

The first thing that caught my attention was the number of followers. I already knew that Lyon had a large number but I was far from suspecting that it was so significant, already in the hundreds, and soon I hope will be countless. But if Lyon is distinguished for the number it is not less for the quality, which is even better. I have only met sincere spiritists, all over the place, those who understand the Doctrine in its true point of view. There are, ladies and gentlemen, three categories of adepts: the first ones limit themselves to the belief in the manifestations, seeking the phenomena before anything else. Spiritism for those is just a series of more or less interesting facts. The second group sees more than facts. They understand its philosophical reach; admire the moral that result from it but do not practice it. For them, Christian charity is a beautiful maxim, and that is all. Finally, the third group is not satisfied by the admiration of the moral: they practice it and accept all of its consequences. Well convinced that the earthly life is a transient trial, try to take advantage of these short intervals to march in the path of progress delineated by the spirits, struggling to do the good deeds and to repress their bad inclinations. Their relationships are always safe because their convictions keep them away from any evil thought. Charity is their rule of conduct in everything. These are the true spiritists, or better, the Christian spiritists.

Well, ladies and gentlemen! I am glad to tell you that I have not found here any adept of the first category. I have not seen anywhere people concerned with Spiritism for mere curiosity. I have not seen anywhere people using the communications for futile issues. The objective is serious and the intentions honest everywhere. Based on what I see and from what I hear, there are many in the third category. Thus, honor to the spiritists of Lyon, for having entered so widely into this progressive avenue, without which Spiritism would be aimless. Such example shall not be lost and will have its consequences. It was not without reason, I see it well, that the other day the spirits responded, through one of our most dedicated mediums, although one of the most obscure, when I manifested my surprise to them: “Why are you surprised? Lyon was the city of the martyrs. Faith is alive here. It shall give apostles to Spiritism. If Paris is the brain, Lyon shall be the heart.” The coincidence between this answer and the message that was just given before in Mr. Guillaume’s speech, is something very meaningful.

The latest speed of propagation of Spiritism, despite the still present opposition, or perhaps because of that opposition, can give us an insight into the future. Let us then sensibly avoid everything that may produce an unpleasant impression. Let us avoid not the loss of a granted cause, but to delay its development.

Let us follow the advice of the wise spirits on this, and let us not forget that many results have been compromised in the world for excess of precipitation. Let us not forget either that our enemies from the other world, as those from this, may try to drag us through a dangerous path.

You have asked me to give you some advice and to me it is a pleasure to give you those that can be suggested by experience. They shall never be more than a personal opinion that I invite you to analyze with your wisdom, making the use that may seem more adequate to you since I do not have the pretension of imposing myself as an absolute judge. You intendedto form a large society. I have already given you my thoughts on that and I will summarize them here.

It is a fact that the best communications are obtained in meetings with a small number of people, where there is harmony and communion of feelings. Well then, the larger the number the more difficult it is to obtain such homogeneity. Since it is impossible that in the beginning of a science, still so new, there would not be some divergences in the way of assessing certain things, from that divergence there would infallibly be a discomfort which could lead to disunion. The small groups, on the contrary, will always be more homogeneous. In the small groups everyone knows everyone better; it is a more family-like and may admit with better criteria those who are desired. As everybody definitely tends to the same objective they can get along perfectly well and will do even more so due to the absence of that unstoppable susceptibility, incompatible with the quietness and concentration of the spirit. The bad spirits that always try to spread disharmony, irritating susceptibilities, will always have less domination in a small group when compared to a large and heterogeneous group. In short, the unity of vision and feeling will be easier to establish there. The multiplicity of groups has another advantage: the reception of a much larger variety of communications, by the diversity of skills of the mediums. These partial sessions should share their production with the other small groups, each group separately, and everyone will then take advantage of the mutual works. As a matter of fact, there will come a time when the number of attendees will no longer fit a unique session, and the group will have to break by the force of things. That is why it would be better to do now what will have to be done later.

From the point of view of propaganda, there is no doubt that the novice may collect better elements of conviction in the intimacy rather than in the large meetings. Hence there are two reasons to prefer the small groups that can be multiplied to the infinity. Well, twenty groups of ten persons, for example, will unquestionably obtain more and make more proselytes than a single session of two hundred people.

I mentioned, not long ago, the divergences that may arise and I said that they should not create obstacles to the perfect understanding between the centers. In fact, those divergences can only occur in the details and not in the broader picture. The objective is the same: the moral betterment; the means is the same: the teachings given by the spirits. If such teachings were contradictory; if one had evidently to be false and the other true, notice that this could not alter the objective which is to lead the individual towards the good path, for his greater present and future happiness.

Now, good cannot have double standards. However, from a scientific or dogmatic point of view, it is useful, or at least interesting, to know who is right and who is wrong. Then! You have an infallible criterion to evaluate it, be it some simple details or radically divergent systems. This does not apply to the spiritist systems only but to every philosophical system.

First, analyze which one is more logical, which one better corresponds to your expectations, which one can achieve the objective in a better way. The truer will evidently be the one that explains better, that gives better reasons for everything. If a single fact can be opposed to a system, contradicting its theory, it means that the theory is either false or incomplete. Then, analyze the practical results of each system. The truth must be on the side of the one that produces the greater good; that exerts a healthier influence; that produces more good and virtuous people; that stimulates the good deeds based on the purest and most rational motives. Happiness is the constant objective aspired by the human being. Truth will be on the side that yields greater moral satisfaction; In short, that makes people happier.

Considering that the teachings come from the spirits, the multiple groups, as with the individuals, are under the influence of certain spirits who preside over their works, or direct them morally. If those spirits are not in agreement the question will be which ones are more trustworthy. It will evidently be the one whose theory cannot raise serious objection; in short, the one that in all points gives more proof of superiority. If everything that is taught is good, the name taken by the spirit is irrelevant. In that sense, the issue of identity is absolutely secondary. If, under a respectable name, the teaching fails in its essential qualities, you can definitely conclude that the name is apocryphal and an impostor or a mocking spirit is using it. General rule: the name is never a guarantee. The only, the true guarantee is the superiority of thought and the way it is expressed. The deceiving spirits may imitate everything, everything, except true wisdom and true feeling.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is not my intention here to give you a course in Spiritism, and I will perhaps abuse your patience with such details. However, I cannot avoid adding a few more words. It frequently happens that in order to have certain utopias accepted, the spirits impersonate a false wisdom, trying to impose them through the utilization of an arsenal of technical words, trying to fascinate those who easily believe in anything. They have still an even more efficient way that is the presentation of false virtues. Supported by great words like charity, fraternity, and humility, they expect to obtain free access to the grossest absurd; and that is what happens often when one is not forewarned. Hence, we must not be led by the appearances from the part of the spirits as much as human beings. Now, I do confess that this is one of the greatest difficulties. However, it has never been said that Spiritism is an easy science. It has its hurdles that can only be avoided by experience. To avoid falling in the trap it is necessary, from starters, to be guarded against blinding enthusiasm and pride that leads certain mediums to believe that they are the only interpreters of truth. One needs to examine everything cold-bloodedly, weigh-in everything, control everything, and if one’s own assessment is suspicious, which it is sometimes sensible, it is then necessary to report to others, following the proverb that four eyes see more than two. A false self-esteem or an obsession may singly push a notoriously false idea, which is repelled by everyone’s common sense.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t ignore the fact that I have many enemies here. Although it may stun you there is nothing truer. Yes, there are people here who hear me with rage; not among you, thank God, where I expect to have friends only. I refer to the deceiving spirits who don’t want me to provide you with the means of unmasking them, since I uncover their tricks, putting you on guard, subtracting from them the domination they could exert upon you. With that respect, ladies and gentlemen, it would be a mistake to imagine that such domination is exerted upon the mediums only. Rest assured that the spirits act incessantly upon us, since they are everywhere, and without our knowledge, mediums or not, spiritists or not. Mediumship does not attract them; on the contrary, it provides the means of knowing the enemy that is always betrayed. Always, listen well, and that the only abuse is to those who allow themselves to be abused.

That, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to complete my thought about what I have just said regarding the dissidences that could take place among several groups, given the diversity of the teachings. I told you that despite some divergences, they should get along and must get along well, as long as they are true spiritists. I gave you the means of controlling the value of the communications, which is how the kind of influence exerted on each one may be appreciated. Given that every good influence comes from a good spirit; that everything that is bad comes from a bad source; that the evil spirits are the enemies of union and concord, the group that is assisted by a bad spirit will be the one to throw the stones on the other and will not reach out to them. As for myself, ladies and gentlemen, I see you all as my brothers and sisters, both with the truth and in error. However I declare out loud that I will be wholeheartedly with those who show more charity and abnegation. If any of you, God forbid, had any feelings of hatred, envy or jealousy I would be sorry for you because you would be under a bad influence and I would rather have those bad thoughts coming to you from a strange spirit than from your own heart. And that would only make me suspicious of the truthfulness of the communications received by you, considering that a truly good spirit will only suggest good feelings.

I will finish this speech, ladies and gentlemen, too long already, with a few considerations about the causes that must ensure the future of Spiritism. You all understand, from what you have before your eyes and from your own feelings, that on a future day Spiritism must exert a huge influence onto the social fabric. However, it is still far away from the day when such influence will be generalized, no doubt. Generations are needed so that man can dispose of the old man. However, since now and if good cannot be generalized, it is already individual, and because that good is effective, the doctrine that entails it is so easily accepted. I will even say that it is enthusiastically accepted, by many. In fact, and abstraction made of its rationality, which philosophy is more capable of liberating human beings from the earthly bonds, elevating their soul to infinity? Which one can give them a more just, more logical idea, supported by patent proofs, about their nature and destiny? May its adversaries replace it by something better; by a more consoling doctrine, better accommodated to reason; by a more cheerful thought than knowing that our dead loved ones remain close to us, see us, hear us, speak to us and give us advice; that gives a more legitimate reason for resignation; that lessens the fear of death even further; that entails more calmness during life’s trials; that replaces, finally, that smooth quietness that one feels by saying: I feel better. Spiritism will lower its weapons before any doctrine which can do all that better.

Hence, Spiritism makes people sovereignly happy. With Spiritism there is no more isolation or despair. It has already spared many faults, impeded several crimes, given peace to many families, and corrected many deviations. How shall that be then when all people are fed by such ideas! Because they will strengthen through reason and will no longer relegate their soul. Human beings want happiness; Spiritism gives that; they will embrace Spiritism. Is Spiritism annihilation wanted? Then, give human beings a better source of happiness and hope. That is as far as the individuals are concerned.

There are two other forces that may have feared Spiritism’s arrival: the civil and the religious authorities. Why is that so? It is because Spiritism is unknown to them. Today the Church begins to see that it will find in Spiritism a powerful weapon against incredulity; the logical solution to several embarrassing dogmas, and finally, that it brings back a good number of stray sheep to their Christian duties.

The civil authority, on the other hand, starts to see proofs of its beneficial influence upon the working classes to which this doctrine, through conviction, brings ideas of order, the respect to property and clarifies about the emptiness of the utopias. Witnessing almost miraculous moral metamorphoses, it shall soon see in the propagation of these ideas a more useful food for thought than the joys of the cabaret or the turmoil of public squares, and consequently a safeguard to society. Thus, people, Church and power envisaging one day in Spiritism a barrier against the brutality of passions, a guarantee to public order and tranquility, a return to the extinguishing of religious ideas, its obstruction will be in no one’s interest. On the contrary, each part will seek a support in Spiritism. As a matter of fact, who can stop the current of this river of ideas that already flows its benevolent waters in the five continents?

These are, my dear comrades, the considerations that I wanted to bring you. I end by thanking you once again for your kind welcome, whose memory shall always be in my mind. I equally thank the good spirits for the total satisfaction granted to my trip, because wherever I stopped I found good and sincere spiritists and I could attest, before my own eyes, the immense development of these ideas and how easily they spread. I found happy people everywhere; suffering people who were consoled, sorrows that were soothed, hatred that was appeased; everywhere I found trust and hope succeeding the anguishes of doubt and uncertainty. Still once more, Spiritism is the key to true happiness and that is the secret of its irresistible power. Is then utopia a doctrine that does such prodigies? May God in His goodness, my dear friends, send you good spirits to assist you with your communications, so that you can be clarified about the truths that you have been assigned to spread. There will be one day when you will harvest a hundred times the grain that you have sowed.

May this feast of friends, my beloved companions, like the former feasts, may this be the guarantee of union among all true spiritists! I propose a toast to the spiritists of Lyon, both in my name and in the name of the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies.

Allan Kardec

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