The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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Since we are talking about journalists with respect to Spiritism let us not stop on the way. We are not generally spoiled by those gentlemen and considering that we don’t hide their criticism they must allow us to present our counterpoint and arguments against the opinion of Mr. Deschanel and others like a writer whose celebrity and influence are unquestionable, and without being accused of self-serving interest. The praises in fact are not directed to us, personally; at least we don’t take them personally and always address them to our spiritual guides that kindly supervise our work. Therefore we could not benefit from any merit that might be found in our work; we accept the praise not as a confirmation of our personal worth but as a recognition to the endeavor that with the help of God we hope to take on successfully for we have not finished yet and the most difficult part is yet to come. From that point of view, Mr. Louis Jourdan’s opinion has some weight because everyone knows that he does not speak lightheartedly just to fill out the columns of a newspaper with empty words. He can certainly be wrong, like anyone else, but his opinion is always conscientious.

It would be premature to uphold that Mr. Jourdan is a confessed follower of Spiritism. He himself declares that he has not seen any manifestation and that he is not in touch with any medium. He analyzes from his own personal thoughts and since he does not base his opinion on the denial of the soul or any other extra-human power, he sees in the Spiritist Doctrine a new phase of moral life and a means of explaining what was inexplicable up until now. Behold, by admitting the foundations his reason does not absolutely refuse to admit their consequences while Mr. Figuier cannot admit such consequences since he repels the fundamental principle.

He did not study everything nor had he investigated everything of this vast science, hence it is not surprising that his ideas are not well established about all points and for that reason certain questions may seem hypothetical. As a sensible man, however, he does not say: “I don’t understand, hence it cannot be.” He, on the contrary, says: “I don’t know because I did not learn that but I don’t deny it.” As a serious man he does not ridicule an issue that addresses the most serious interests of humanity and as a wise man he remains silent about things that he ignores, afraid of having his denials belied by the facts, as it has happened to so many others who then hear the irresistible argument: “You speak of something that you don’t know.”

He then releases matters of detail, confessing his incompetence, limiting himself to the appreciation of the principle, admitting its possibility is only led by reason as commonly happens every day. Mr. Jourdan first published an article about The Spirits’ Book in the #8 issue of the ‘Le Causeur Magazine, in 1860. It is now over a year since that publication and we had not yet mentioned the fact in our Review, a demonstration that we don’t hastily prevail from the praises during a time when we textually cited or indicated the bitterest criticisms, also a demonstration that we are not afraid of their influence. That article was reproduced as a full chapter in his new book ‘Un Philosophe au coin du feu *. We extracted the following passages from that article:

“I formally promised to return to a subject about which I only mentioned a few words and that deserves a very special attention. It is about The Spirits’ Book that contains the principles of the spiritist doctrine and philosophy. The word may sound barbarian to us but what can one do? New things do need new names. The turning tables led to Spiritism and today we have a complete doctrine, entirely revealed by the spirits since The Spirits’ Book was not produced by any man. Mr. Allan Kardec’s function was limited to the collection and organization of the answers given by the spirits to the many questions addressed to them, brief responses that do not always satisfy the curiosity of the interrogator, but when considered as a whole they actually form a doctrine, a moral and even perhaps a religion.”

“You must appreciate it yourself. The spirits provided clear explanations about the primary causes, about God and the infinite, about the attributes of God. They gave us the general elements of the universe, knowledge about the principle of everything, the properties of matter. They discussed the mysteries of creation, the formation of the worlds and the living beings, and also the causes of diversities in the human races. From there to the vital principle it is just a step, and they also told us what the vital principle is, the meaning of life and death, intelligence and instinct.”

“Then, they unveiled the spiritual world, that is, the world of the spirits, and told us about its origin and nature; how the spirits incarnate and the objective of such incarnation; the process of returning from the corporeal to the spiritual life. Wandering (errant) spirits, transient worlds, perceptions, sensations and sufferings of the spirits, relationships beyond the grave, sympathetic and antipathetic relationships among the spirits, return to the corporeal life, emancipation of the soul, intervention of the spirits on the physical world, occupations and missions of the spirits, hiding nothing from us.”

“I said that the spirits were not only founding a doctrine and a philosophy, but also a religion. They have in fact established the code of moral life in which there are laws that seem of great wisdom to me, not even missing the future penalties and rewards that could be understood from words like heaven, purgatory and hell. As seen from the above, it is a complete system and I have no problem in admitting the fact that if it does not show the powerful cohesion of a philosophical work, if there are contradictions here and there, it is at least of remarkable originality given its elevated moral reach and for the unforeseen solutions given to the complex issues that have concerned the human spirit at all times.”

“I am a total stranger to the spiritist school; I don’t know its leader or its followers; I have never seen any little table dancing or turning; I don’t have any contact with any medium; I have not witnessed any of those supernatural or miraculous events that are reported to me by the spiritist publications. I don’t absolutely confirm or deny the communications with the spirits; in principle I believe that such communications are possible and it does not shock my reason at all. In order to believe in them I don’t need the explanations given to me by a scholar, friend of mine, Mr. Louis Figuier, about facts that he attributes to the magnetic influence of the mediums.”

“I don’t think that it is impossible to establish communication between the invisible world and us. Don’t ask me how and why; I know nothing about it. That is more a question of feeling than mathematical demonstration. Hence, I am expressing my feeling, but it is a far from a vague feeling, a feeling that leaves a well-defined impression in my heart and in my spirit.”

“If we can capture the vital fluids from the infinite space around us, through the movement of our lungs, it is evident that we are constantly interacting with the invisible world. Is such a world populated by wandering spirits, like lost souls, always ready to respond to our calls? That is more difficult to admit but also premature to deny absolutely.”

“Undoubtedly it is not difficult to believe that God’s creatures are not all like us, the sad inhabitants of our planet. We are very imperfect, submitted to unrefined material needs, thus it is not difficult to imagine that there are superior beings who are not subjected to any corporeal penalty; bright and luminous creatures, spirit and matter like us but a more subtle, pure matter, less dense and not so heavy; fluid messengers uniting the universes, sustaining the multiple races and planets for the accomplishment of their missions.”

“Through breathing we are in contact with a myriad of creatures whose existence we cannot understand and whose shapes we cannot reproduce. Thus, it is not absolutely impossible that some of those beings may accidentally get in touch with us but what does seem trivial is the need for a material support of a table, a basket or a medium so that those relationships may be established.”

“Those communications are either useful or pointless. If useful then the spirits must not need to be mysteriously evoked and questioned in order to teach people what people need to know. If pointless, why resort to using them?”

“I have no problem with the idea of accepting these influences, inspirations, revelations if you will. What I do absolutely deny is when people say: God said so, so you must obey. And that under pretext it is a revelation. God spoke through Moses, Christ, Mohamed thus you will be Jewish, Christian or Muslim otherwise you shall endure the eternal penalties and while we wait we will damn you here on Earth.”

“No, no. I don’t accept similar revelations at any price. There is a supreme law above all revelations, all inspirations and all prophets, past and future: the law of freedom. I can accept anything that you like as long as that law is in its foundation. Remove that law and it is only violence and darkness. I want to have the freedom of believing or not believing and admitting that out loud. It is my own right and I want to use it. It is my freedom and I want to preserve that. If you tell me that I will lose my soul if I don’t believe what you teach me; it is possible. I want to stretch my freedom to that limit; I want to be able to lose my own soul if I desire to do so. Who will then be the judge of my salvation or my loss? Who will be able to say: That one was saved, this one here is lost for good? Shouldn’t the mercy of God be infinite? Will anyone be able to assess the abyss of the conscience?”

“The same principle is found in the curious book by Mr. Allan Kardec and that is why I am reconciled with the spirits that were questioned by him. The briefness of the answers is a proof that the spirits have no time to waste; what surprises me is the fact that they still waste some in order to complacently address the call of so many people who waste theirs in the evocations.”

“Everything more or less clearly stated by the spirits, and whose answers Mr. Allan Kardec compiled, was developed and exposed with remarkable clarity by Michel who is certainly to me the most complete and most advanced of all contemporary mystics. His revelation is at the same time a doctrine and a poem, a healthy and energizing doctrine, bright poetry. The only advantage that I find in the questions and answers published by Mr. Allan Kardec is the fact that they are given in a much more accessible format to the general mass of readers, and in particular to the female readers, the main ideas about which is important to have their attention. Michel’s books are not of an easy reading; they continually require a very attentive reader. The book that we mentioned above, on the contrary, may be considered a kind of vade mecum (handbook); if we take it and serendipitously open it in any page the questions will call our attention, raising our curiosity. The questions addressed to the spirits are typically those that concern all of us. The answers are sometimes very weak; on other occasions they encompass the most complex issues in a few words and always offer vivid interest and healthy indications. I am not aware of a more attractive, more consoling, and more fascinating course of moral. There one finds confirmation of the greatest principles on which modern civilizations are founded, particularly the principle of all principles: freedom! Heart and spirit are smoothed and strengthened by that book. The chapters about the plurality of the systems and the law of individual and collective progress have a special appeal and exert a powerful attraction. As for me, Mr. Allan Kardec’s spirits have not taught anything about that. I believe since long ago that there is a progressive development of life through the worlds; that death is the portal to a new life whose trials are in proportion to the achievements of a previous existence. This is in fact the old Gallic faith, the druidic doctrine and the spirits invented nothing here but they did add a series of deductions and excellent practical rules to guide one’s life. That book may have great utility, regardless of the interest and curiosity generated by its origin, particularly to the indecisive minds, to the insecure souls that navigate the turbulent waters of doubt. Doubt is the worst evil! It is the most horrific prison from which one needs to escape at any price. This strange book will help men and women in the consolidation of their lives, breaking the shackles of their prisons, precisely because it is presented in a simple and elemental way, like a popular catechism that everybody can understand.”

After the citation of a few questions about marriage and divorce that he finds trivial and not handled according to his personal taste, Mr. Jourdan finishes his article as below:

“I must say, however, that the spirits’ answers about this subject are not superficial. The whole book is remarkable; the general subject is marked by a certain magnificence and a lively originality. May it stem out or not from a wonderful source, the work is exciting in several aspects and just because it has made me largely interested I am led to believe that many people may also be interested.”


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* A philosopher by the fire – 1 vol., Dentu edition

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