The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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Although it was only recently that it was published, The Mediums’ Book has already given rise to the formation of private spiritist groups in several places, as we advised. They tell us, however, that they have to stop given the lack of mediums. That is why we see it as our responsibility to give them some advice on how to face that issue.

A medium, particularly a good medium, is incontestably one of the essential elements of any meeting that deals with Spiritism; but it would be a mistake to think that in their absence there wouldn’t be anything else to do and that we should sit back and cross our arms or adjourn the session. We don’t absolutely share the opinion of a person that compares a spiritist session without mediums to a concert without musicians. We believe that there is a much more appropriate comparison – it is that of the Institute of all scientific societies that know how to use their time without the need to have before their eyes the elements of experimentation.

One goes to a concert to hear music. It is then evident that if the musicians are not there than the objective will have failed. However, we go to a spiritist meeting – or at least we should – to learn, to get instructed. The question now is if we can do that without the medium. For someone who attends such gatherings with the sole objective of seeing effects, the medium would be as indispensable as the musicians in the concert; however, those who seek enlightenment, who want to gain in-depth understanding of the several parts of the science, those will have more than one way of achieving that even in the absence of an instrument of experimentation. That is what we will try to explain.

For starters we say that if mediums are common, good mediums in the true meaning of the word are rare. Experience constantly demonstrates that it is not enough to have the mediumistic faculty in order to receive good communications. It is then better to lack an instrument than to have a defective one.

It is certain that those who seek more the fact than the quality in the communication; that take part more for distraction than clarification, the choice of a medium is indifferent, and the one who produces the greater amount of effects will then be the most interesting one. But we speak of those who have a more serious objective and see farther; it is to them that we are addressing, since we are sure to be understood. On the other hand the best mediums are subjected to more or less lengthy intermittences, during which there is partial or total suspension of the mediumistic faculty, not to mention the high number of accidental causes that may momentarily deprive them from their participation. Let us still add to the fact that the perfectly flexible mediums, those malleable to all sorts of manifestations, are even rarer. They usually have special skills from which they should not be diverted from. You see then, if we don’t have enough spare supply of mediums, we can suddenly be unprepared when least expected, and it would be unfortunate to have our work interrupted on such occasions.

The fundamental teaching that is sought in serious gatherings is, no doubt, the one given by the spirits. However, what would be the benefit taken by a pupil from if a more skillful teacher was by his side and he did not have to work himself? If he did not give any thought to the lessons? What would be the advancement of his intelligence if the teacher were permanently by his side, spoon-feeding him each task and sparing him from the effort of thinking?

The spirits play two roles in the spiritist meetings: some are the teachers who develop the principles of the science, clarifying all doubtful points, particularly teaching the laws of true morality; others operate as material of observation and study, and serving as examples of application. Once the lesson has been given, their task ends and ours begins, that is, to work on what we were taught, so that we can better understand its meaning and scope. This is to allow us time to do our duties (if we may make this classical comparison) that spirits sometimes suspend their communications. They get tired of endlessly and uselessly repeating the same thing. They warn us, if we do not listen they will leave so that we take time for reflection.

In the absence of mediums, a meeting whose objective goes beyond the sight of a moving pencil has a thousand and one means of employing the time in a useful way. We scantily indicate a few below:

1st – Re-read and comment previous communications whose careful study will better express its true value. If anyone said that this can be tedious and boring we would say that we are never tired of listening to good music or poetry; that after having heard an eloquent sermon we would like to read it again with a fresh mind; that certain books are read twenty times because every time we discover something new. Someone that is only impressed by words gets bored when the same thing is only repeated twice, even if it is something sublime; such person always feels the need for something new to attract their attention, or better saying, in order to distract them. The person that gives thought to the subject has an additional sense: such a person is more in touch by the ideas than the words. That is why they like to hear numerous times something that speaks to their soul, not stopping at their ears.

2nd – Recount knowledgeable facts, discuss them, analyze them, explain them by the laws of the spiritist science; examine their possibility or impossibility; find what there is of probable or exaggerated cause; distinguish imagination from superstition, etc.

3rd – Read, comment and develop each article of The Spirits’ Book and The Mediums’ Book, as well as all other publications about Spiritism. We hope to be forgiven here for citing our own publications, which is very natural since that is why they were written. As a matter of fact, this is only an indication and not an intentional recommendation. Those who do not agree are perfectly free to set them aside. It is far from us to be pretentious and to believe that others cannot do it as well as or even better than we did. Our only point here is that we do believe that through these books the Spiritist Science is faced in a more comprehensive way than in many other publications, and that they encompass a larger number of questions and objections. That is why we recommend them; for their intrinsic merit, the future will be the great judge of that. One day we will provide a rational catalog of the books that directly or indirectly deal with the Spiritist Science, in the former and modern times, in France and abroad, among the holy and profane writers, as soon as we have gathered the necessary elements. It is naturally a very extensive work and we appreciate very much those who want to facilitate the task by providing us with documents and references.

4th – Discuss the several systems of interpretation of the spiritist phenomena.

Regarding this subject we recommend Mr. de Mirville and Mr. Louis Figuier’s books which are the most important. The first one is rich with facts of the highest interest, collected from legitimate sources. It is only the conclusion that is questionable since he sees demons everywhere. It is true that his taste was well served by chance, bringing before his eyes what could help him best, whereas a large number of facts seen by religion as the acts of angels and saints were hidden from him.

L’histore du merveilleux dans les temps modernes (translated here as The History of the Marvelous) by Mr. Figuier, is interesting from another point of view. It is not very clear why some facts are described in details in the book but it is interesting to know them. As for the so called spiritist phenomena, these occupy the smallest part of the four volumes. While Mr. Mirville explains everything by the devil when others explain them by angels, Mr. Figuier who doesn’t believe in the devil, or in angels, or in the spirits, good or bad, explains everything, or believes to do so, as the result of the human body. Mr. Figuier is a scientist. He is serious and is supported by some scientists. One can then consider his books as the last official word of the science about Spiritism, and that word is the negation of any intelligent principle outside matter. It is a shame that science may serve such a sad cause. However, since it is science that incessantly unveils the wonders of creation that writes the name of God on each leaf of the plants, on each wing of the insects, that science is not to blame. The culprits are those who struggle to persuade others, in the name of science, that there is no hope after death.

The spiritists will then see in that book what becomes of the terrible stroke of lightening that should supposedly annihilate their belief. Those who could have been shaken, afraid of the shock, will become stronger when they see the weakness of the opposed arguments; the many contradictions resulting from the ignorance and a lack of real observation of the facts. The reading of this work can be useful with that respect, and also to allow the spiritists to talk about it with better knowledge than the author does with Spiritism, having denied it without having studied it, for the sole reason of simply denying the existence of any extraordinary human power. One must not fear the infection of similar ideas. They offer the antidote themselves: human’s instinctive aversion to the nothingness. The prohibition of a book is a demonstration of fear. We do recommend Mr. Figuier’s book.

If the flimsiness of the arguments against Spiritism is manifested in the serious works, their total worthlessness is only in their bitter attacks and defamatory articles where the powerless rage is betrayed by rudeness, insults and slander. It would give them too much importance had we read them in our serious gatherings. There is nothing to refute on them, nothing to discuss, and consequently nothing to learn. They just need to be neglected. As one can then see, outside the instructions of the spirits there is ample material for useful work. We would even add that we can collect abundant material from their study to submit to the spirits through our questions.

However, if we can provide for the momentary absence of mediums, it would not be logical to sustain their indefinite deficiency. All efforts must be employed with the objective of finding them. The best thing to do for a spiritist gathering is to find mediums inside the group, here referring the reader to our last publication, pages 306 and 307 (The Mediums’ Book, Chap. XVII), where one can see that the task is easier than originally thought.

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