Spirituality, New-Age - Editions, Livres
THE SPIRITS’ BOOK by ALLAN KARDEC ( the continuation )

Minerals and Plants.
585. WHAT do you think of the division of the natural world into three reigns, the mineral,
vegetable, and animal, to which some naturalists add a fourth class-viz., the human species;
or that other division of the world into two classes-viz., the organic and the inorganic? Which
of these divisions is to be preferred?
"They are all good; as to which is best, that depends on your point of view. From the point of
view of matter, there are only inorganic and organic beings; from the moral point of view,
there are evidently four degrees."
These four degrees are, in fact, distinguished by well-marked characteristics, although their extremes
seem to blend into each other. Inert matter, which constitutes the mineral reign, possesses only
mechanical force; plants, composed of inert matter, are endowed with vitality animals, composed of inert
matter, and endowed with vitality, have also a sort of instinctive intelligence, limited in its scope. but
giving them the consciousness of their existence and of their individuality man, possessing all that is found
in plants and animals, is raised above all the other classes by special intelligence, without fixed limits,
which gives him the consciousness of his future, the perception of extramaterial things, and the knowledge
of God.
586. Are plants conscious of their existence?
"No; they do not think; they have only organic life."
587. Do plants feel sensations? Do they suffer when they are mutilated?
"Plants receive the physical impressions which act upon matter, but they have no perceptions;
consequently they do not feel pain."
588. Is the force which attracts plants towards each other independent of their will?
"Yes; for they do not think. It is a mechanical force of matter that acts upon matter; they
could not resist it."
589. Some plants, as, for instance, the mimosa and the dionea, have movements which give
evidence of their possessing great
sensitiveness, and, in some cases, a sort of will, as in the case of the latter, whose lobes seize
the fly that lights on it, in order to suck its juices, and even seem to set a snare for it, in order
to kill it. Are these plants endowed with the faculty of thought? Have they a will, and do they
form 'in intermediate class between the vegetable and animal natures? Are they points of
transition from the one to the other?
"Everything in nature is transition, from the very fact that everything is different, and that
everything, nevertheless, is linked together. Plants do not think, and have consequently no
will. The oyster that opens its shell, and all the zoophytes, do not think; they have only a blind
natural instinct."
The human organism furnishes us with examples of similar movements that take place without any
participation of the will, as in the organs of digestion and circulation the pylorus closes itself at the
contact of certain substances, as though to refuse them passage. It must be the same with the sensitive
plant, the movements of which do not necessarily imply perception, and, still less, will.
590. Is there not, in plants, an instinct of self-preservation which leads them to seek what may
be useful to them, and to avoid what would do them harm?
"You may call it, if you will, a sort of instinct: that depends on the extension you give to the
word; but it is purely mechanical. When, in chemical operations, you see two bodies unite
together. it is because they suit one another, that ~s to say, there is an affinity between them;
but you do not call that instinct."
591. In worlds of higher degree, are the plants, like the other beings, of a more perfect
"Everything in those worlds is more perfect; but the plants are. always plants, as the animals
are always animals, and as the men are always men.
Animals and Men.
592. If we compare man with the animals in reference to intelligence, it seems difficult to
draw a line of demarcation between them; for some animals are, in this respect, notoriously
superior to some men. Is it possible to establish such a line of demarcation with any
"Your philosophers are far from being agreed upon this point. Some of them will have it that
man is an animal; others are equally sure that the animal is a man. They are all wrong. Man is
a being apart, who sometimes sinks himself very low, or who
may raise himself very high. As regards his physical nature, man is like the animals, and less
well provided for than many of them; for nature has given to them all that man is obliged to
invent with the aid of his intelligence for his needs and his preservation. His body is subject
to. destruction, like that of the animals; but his spirit has a destiny that he alone can
understand, because he alone ~s completely free. Poor human beings who debase yourselves
below the brutes! do you not know how to distinguish yourselves from them ? Recognise the
superiority of man by his possessing the notion of the existence of God."
593. Can the animals be said to act only from instinct?
"That, again, is a mere theory. It is very true that instinct predominates in the greater number
of animals; but do you not see some of them act with a determinate will ? This is intelligence;
but of narrow range."
It is impossible to deny that some animals give evidence of possessing, besides instinct, the power of
performing compound acts which denote the will to act in a determinate direction, and according to
circumstances. Consequently, there is in them a sort of intelligence, but the exercise of which is mainly
concentrated on the means of satisfying their physical needs, and providing for their own preservation.
There is, among them. no progress, no amelioration no matter what the art that we admire in their
labours, what they formerly did, that they do today neither better nor worse, according to constant forms
and unvarying proportions. The young bird isolated from the rest of its species none the less builds its
nest on the same model, without having been taught. If some of the animals are susceptible of a certain
amount of education, their intellectual development, always restricted within narrow limits, Is due to the
action of man upon a flexible nature, for they themselves have no power of progressing but that artificial
development is ephemeral and purely individual, for the animal, when left again to himself, speedily
returns within the limits traced out for it by nature.
594. Have animals a language?
"If you mean a language formed of words and syllables, no; but if you mean a method of
communication among themselves, yes. They say much more to one another than you
suppose; but their language is limited, like their ideas, to their bodily wants."
-There are animals who have no voice; have they no language?
"They understand one another by other means. Have men no other method of communicating
with one another than by speech ? And the dumb, what do you say of them ? The animals,
being endowed with the life of relation, have means of giving one another information, and of
expressing the sensations they feel. Do you suppose that fishes have no understanding among
themselves ? Man has not the exclusive privilege of language; but that of the animals is
instinctive and limited to the scope of their wants and
ideas, while that of man is perfectible. and lends itself to all the conceptions of his
It is evident that fishes, emigrating in masses, like the swallows that follow the guide that leads them, must
have the means of giving one another information, of arriving at a common understanding, and of concarting
measures of general interest. It may be that they are gifted with a sense of vision sufficiently acute
to allow of their distinguishing signs made by them to one another, or the water may serve them as a
vehicle for the transmission of certain vibrations. It is evident that they must have some means. whatever
these may be. of comprehending one another, like all other animals that have no voice. and that
nevertheless perform actions in common. Should it, then. be deemed strange that spirits are able to
communicate among themselves without having recourse to articulate speech? (282.)
595. Have animals free-will in regard to their actions?
"They are not the mere machines you suppose them to be; but their freedom of action is
limited to their wants, and cannot be compared to that of man. Being far inferior to him, they
have not the same duties. Their freedom is restricted to the acts of their material life."
596. Whence comes the aptitude of certain animals to mutate human speech, and why is this
aptitude found among birds, rather, for instance, than among apes, whose conformation has
so more analogy to that of man?
"That aptitude results from a particular conformation of the vocal organs, seconded by the
instinct of imitation. The ape imitates man's gestures; some birds imitate his voice."
597. Since the animals have an intelligence which gives them a certain degree of freedom of
action, is there, in them, a principle independent of matter?
"Yes; and that survives their body."
- Is this principle a soul, like that of man?
"It is a soul, if you like to call it so; that depends on the meaning you attach to this word. But
it is inferior to that of man. There is, between the soul of the animals and that of man, as great
a difference as there is between the soul of man and God."
598. Does the soul of the animals preserve, after death, its individuality and its selfconsciousness?
"It preserves its individuality, but not the consciousness of its me. The life of intelligence
remains latent in them."
599. Has the soul of the beasts the choice of incarnating itself in one kind of animal rather
than in another?
"No; it does not possess free-will."
600. As the soul of the animal survives its body, is it, after death, in a state of erraticity, like
that of man?
"It is in a sort of erraticity, because it is not united to a body; but it is not an errant spirit. The
errant spirit is a being who thinks and acts of his own free-will; but the soul of the animal has
not the same faculty, for it is his self-consciousness which is the principal attribute of the
spirit. The soul of the animal is classed after its death, by the spirits charged with that work,
and almost immediately utilised; it has not the leisure to enter into connection with other
601. Do animals follow a law progress like men?
"Yes; and it is for this reason that, in the higher worlds 111 which men are further advanced,
the animals are more advanced also, and possess more developed means of communication.
But they are always inferior to man, and subject to him; they are, for him, intelligent
There is nothing unreasonable in this statement. Suppose that our most intelligent animals, the dog, the
elephant, the horse, were furnished with a bodily conformation appropriate to manual labour, what could
they not do under the direction of man?
602. Do animals progress, like man, through the action of their will, or through the force of
"Through the force of things; this is why there is, for them, no expiation."
603. Have the animals, in the higher worlds, a knowledge of God?
"No; man is a god for them, as spirits were formerly gods for men."
604. The animals, even the advanced ones of the higher worlds, being always inferior to man,
it would seem as though God had created intellectual beings condemned to a perpetual
inferiority such an arrangement does not appear to be in accordance with the unity of design
and of progress discernible in all His works.
"Everything in nature is linked together by an enchaining which your intellect cannot yet
seize; and things apparently the most discrepant have points of contact at the comprehension
of which man will never arrive in his actual state. He may obtain a glimmering of them
through an effort of his intelligence; but it is only when that intelligence shall have acquired
its full development, and shall have freed itself from the prejudices of pride and of ignorance,
that he will be able to see clearly into the work of God;
until then, his narrowness of thought causes him to look at every thing from a low and petty
point of view. Know that God cannot contradict Himself, and that everything in nature is
harmonised by the action of general laws that never deviate from the sublime wisdom of the
- Intelligence, then, is a common property, and a point of contact, between the soul of the
beast and that of man?
"Yes, but the animals have only the intelligence of material life; in man, intelligence gives
moral life."
605. If we consider all the points of contact that exist between man and the animals, does it
not seem as though man possessed two souls-viz., an animal soul and a spiritual soul, and
that, if he had not the latter, he might still live, but as a brute; in other words, that the animal
is a being similar to man, minus the spiritual soul? From which it would follow that the good
and bad instincts of man result from the predominance of one or other of these two souls.
"No; man has not two souls; but the body has its instincts resulting from the sensation of its
organs. There is in him only a double nature-the animal nature and the spiritual nature. By his
body he participates in the nature of the animals and their instincts; by his soul he participates
in the nature of spirits."
- Thus, besides his own imperfection, which he has to get rid of, a spirit has also to struggle
against the influence of matter?
"Yes, the lower a spirit's degree of advancement, the closer are the bonds which united him
with matter. Do you not see that it must necessarily be so? No; man has not two souls: the
soul is always one in a single being. The soul of the animal and that of man are distinct from
one another, so that the soul of the one cannot animate the body created for the other. But if
man have not an animal soul, placing him, by its passions, on a level with the animals, he has
his body, which often drags him down to them; for his body is a being that is endowed with
vitality, and that has its instincts, but unintelligent, and limited to the care of its own
A spirit. in incarnating himself in a human body, brings to it the intellectual and moral principle that
renders it superior to the animals. The two natures in man constitute for him two distinct sources of
passions; one set of passions springing from the instincts of his animal nature, and the other set being due
to the impurities of the spirit of which he is the incarnation, and which are in sympathy with the grossness
of the animal appetites. A spirit. as he becomes purified, frees himself gradually from the influence of
matter. While under that influence, he approaches the
nature of the brutes when delivered from that influence, he raises himself towards his true destination.
606. Whence do the animals derive the intelligent principle that constitutes the particular
kind of soul with which they are endowed?
"From the universal intelligent element."
- The intelligence of man and of the animals emanates, then, from one and the same
"Undoubtedly; but, in man, it has received an elaboration which raises it above that which
animates the brute.".
607. You have stated that the soul of man, at its origin, is in a state analogous to that of
human infancy, that its intelligence is only beginning to unfold itself, and that it is essaying to
live (190); where does the soul accomplish this earliest phase of its career?
"In a series of existences which precede the period of development that you call humanity."
- The soul would seem, then, to have been the intelligent principle of the inferior orders of the
"Have we not said that everything in nature is linked together and tends to unity ? It is in
those beings, of which you are very far from knowing all, that the intelligent principle is
elaborated, is gradually individualised, and made ready to live, a3 we have said, through its
subjection to a sort of preparatory process, like that of germination, on the conclusion of
which that principle undergoes a transformation and becomes spirit. It is then that the period
of humanity commences for each spirit with the sense of futurity, the power of distinguishing
between good and evil, and the responsibility of his actions; just as, after the period of
infancy comes that of childhood, then youth, adolescence, and ripened manhood. Is the
greatest genius humiliated by having been a shapeless foetus in his mother's womb ? If
anything ought to humiliate him, it is his lowness in the scale of being, and his powerlessness
to sound the depths of the divine designs and the wisdom of the laws that regulate the
harmonies of the universe. Recognise the greatness of God in this admirable harmony that
establishes solidarity between everything in nature. To think that God could have made
anything without a purpose, and have created intelligent beings without a future, would be to
blaspheme His goodness, which extends over all His creatures."
- Does this period of humanity commence upon our earth?
"The earth is not the starting-point of the earliest phase of human incarnation; the human
period commences, in general, in worlds still lower than yours. This, however, is not an
absolute rule; and it may happen that a spirit, at his entrance upon the human phase, may be
fitted to live upon the earth. Such a case, however, though possible, is unfrequent; and would
be an exception to the general rule."
608. Has a man's spirit, after death, any consciousness of the existences that have preceded
his entrance upon the human period?
"No; for it is only with this period that his life, as a spirit, has begun for him. He can scarcely
recall his earliest existences as a man; just as a man no longer remembers the earliest days of
his infancy, and still less the time he passed in his mother's womb. This is why spirits tell you
that they do not know how they began." (78.)
609. Does a spirit, when once he has entered upon the human period, retain any traces of
what he has previously been, that is to say, of the state in which he was in what may be called
the ante-human period?
"That depends on the distance which separates the two periods, and the amount of progress
accomplished. During a few generations, there may be a reflex, more or less distinct, of the
primitive state, for nothing in nature takes place through an abrupt transition, and there are
always links which unite the extremities of the chain of beings or of events; but those traces
disappear with the development of free-will. The first steps of progress are accomplished
slowly, because they are not yet seconded by the will; they are accomplished more rapidly in
proportion as the spirit acquires a more perfect consciousness of himself."
610. The spirits who have said that man is a being apart from the rest of creation are, then,
"No, but the question had not been developed; and besides, there are things that can only be
known at their appointed time. Man is, in reality, a being apart, for he has faculties that
distinguish him from all others, and he has another destiny. The human species is the one
which God has chosen for the incarnation of the beings that are capable of knowing Him."
611. Is not the common origin of the intellectual principle of living beings a consecration of
the doctrine of the metempsychosis?
"Two things may have the same origin, and yet not resemble one another at a later period.
Who could recognise the tree, with its leaves, flowers, and fruit, in the shapeless germ
contained in the seed from which it has issued ? From the moment when the principle of
intelligence has reached the necessary degree of development for becoming spirit, and for
entering upon the human phase, it has no longer any connection with its primitive state, and is
no more the soul of the beasts than the tree is the seed. In man, there is no longer anything of
the animal but his body, and the passions which are the joint product of his body and of the
instinct of self-preservation inherent in matter. It cannot, there-fore, be said that such and
such a man is the incarnation of such and such an animal; and consequently the doctrine of
the metempsychosis, as commonly understood, is not true."
612. Can a spirit which has animated a human body be incarnated in an animal?
"No; for such an incarnation would be a retrogradation; and a spirit never retrogrades. The
river does not flow back to is source." (118.)
613. However erroneous, may be the idea attached to the doctrine of the metempsychosis,
may not that doctrine be a result of an intuitive reminiscence of the different existences of
"That intuitive reminiscence is seen in this belief as in many others; but, like the greater part
of his intuitive ideas, man has perverted it."
The doctrine of the metempsychosis would be true if by that Word Were understood the progression of
the soul from a lower state to a higher state, in which it acquires the new development that will transform
its nature; but it is false when understood as meaning that any animal can transmigrate directly into a
man, and a man into an animal, which would imply the idea of a retrogradation or of a fusion. The fact
that fusion is not possible between corporeal beings of two different species is an indication of their being
of degrees that are not assailable, and that such must be the case, also, with the spirits that animate them.
If the same spirit could animate them alternately, it would imply the existence, between them. of an
identity that would manifest itself by the possibility of corporeal reproduction. Reincarnation, as now
taught by spirits, is founded, on the contrary, upon the ascensional movement of nature and upon the
progression of man in his own specie,, which detracts nothing from his dignity. 'What really degrades
man is the evil use he makes of the faculties which God has given him for his advancement. And, at all
events, the antiquity and universality of the doctrine of the metempsychosis, and the number of eminent
men who have professed it, proves that the principle of reincar-
nation has its roots in nature itself ; a fact which, so far from diminishing the probability of its truth,
must be regarded as constituting a weighty argument In its favour.
The startling-point of spirit is one of those questions which have reference to the origin of things, and to
the secret designs of God. It is not given to man to comprehend them completely, and he can only form, In
regard to them, suppositions and theoretic systems, more or less probable. Spirits themselves are far from
knowing everything ; and may also have, in regard to what they do not know, Individual opinions more
or less in harmony with fact.
It is thus, for example, that all spirits do not think alike in reference to the relations which exist between
man and the animals. According to some, spirit only arrives at the human period after having been
elaborated and individualised in the different degrees of the lower beings of the creation. According to
others, the spirit of man has always belonged to the human race, Without passing through the ascensional
degrees of the animal world. The first of these theories has the advantage of giving an aim to the future of
animals, which are thus seen to form the earliest links In the chain of thinking beings ; the second theory
is more consonant with the dignity of man, and may be summed up as follows: -
The different species of animals do not proceed intellectually from one another by road of progression.
Thus the spirit of the oyster does not become successively that of the fish, the bird, the quadruped, and
the quadruped. Each species is a fixed type, physically and morally, each individual of which draws, from
the universal source of being, the sum of the intelligent principle which is necessary to it according to the
nature of its organs and the work it has to accomplish in the phenomena of nature, and which it restores
to the general mass of that principle at its death. Those of worlds more advanced than ours (188) are also
distinct races, that are fitted to the needs of those worlds, and to the degree of advancement of the men of
whom they are the auxiliaries, but that do not proceed, spiritually, from those of the earth. It is not the
same with man. It is evident that, physically, he forms a link in the chain of living beings; but there is,
morally, a solution of continuity between the animals and him; for man alone possesses the soul, or spirit,
the divine spark, which gives him the moral sense and the extended vision which are wanting in the
animals; and this soul, spirit, spark, is, in him, the principal being, pre-existent to, and surviving, his
body, and thus preserving his Individuality. What is the origin of spirit? What its starting-point? Is it
formed by the individualising of the intelligent principle? This is a mystery which it would be useless to
attempt to penetrate, and in regard to which, as we have said, we can do no more than build up theories.
What is certain, what Is indicated alike by reason and by experience, is the survival of each spirit and the
persistence of his individuality after death, his faculty of progressing, the happiness or unhappiness of his
next state of being, according to his advancement or his backwardness in the path of purification, and all
the moral consequences which flow from this certainty, as for the mysterious kinship which exists
between man and the animals, that we repeat, is God's secret, like many other matters the knowledge of
which, at this time, is of little importance to our advancement, and upon which it would be useless to
Characteristics of Natural Law
614. What is to be understood by natural law?
"The law of nature is the law of God. It Is the only rule that ensures the happiness of man, for
it shows him what he should or should not do, and he only suffers because he disobeys it."
615. Is the law of God eternal?
"It Is eternal and unchangeable as God Himself."
616. Can God have prescribed to mankind in one age what He has forbidden in another?
"God cannot be mistaken. Men are obliged to change their laws, because they are imperfect ;
but the laws of God are perfect. The harmony which regulates both the material universe and
the moral universe is founded on laws established by God from all eternity."
617. What are the objects embraced by the divine laws? Have they reference to anything but
our moral conduct?
"All the laws of nature are divine laws, since God is the author of all things. The seeker after
science studies the laws of nature in the realm of matter; the seeker after goodness studies
them in the soul, and practises them."
- Is it given to man to fathom both these divisions of natural law?
"Yes; but a single existence does not suffice for doing this."
What, indeed, are a few years for acquiring all that is necessary to constitute a perfect being. if we
consider only the distance that separates the civilised man from the savage? A human life, though
prolonged to its utmost possible length, is insufficient for such a Work ; much more is it so when cut short
before Its term, as is the case with so large a proportion of the human race.
Some of the divine laws regulate the movements and relations of inert matter; they are termed physical
laws, and their study is the domain of science, others of these laws concern man, as considered in himself
and in his relations to God and to his fellow-creatures they are termed moral laws, and regulate the life of
relation as well as the life of the soul.
618. Are the divine laws the same for all worlds?
"Reason tells you that they must be adapted to the special nature of each of those various
worlds, and proportioned to the degree of advancement of the beings who inhabit them."
Knowledge of Natural Law
619. Has God given to all men the means of knowing His law?
"All may know it, but all do not understand it. Those who understand it best are they who
seek after goodness. All, however, will one day understand it; for the destiny of progress must
he accomplished."
The justice of the various incarnations undergone by each human being is evident when seen in the light
of the principle just enunciated; since, in each new existence, his intelligence is more developed, and he
comprehends more clearly what is good and what is evil. If everything had to be accomplished by each
man in a single existence, what would be the fate of the many millions of human beings who die every day
in the brutishness of the savage state, or in the darkness of ignorance, without having had the possibility
of obtaining enlightenment? (177, 222.)
620. Does a spirit, before his union with the body, comprehend the law of God more clearly
than after his incarnation?
"He comprehends that law according to the degree of development at which he has arrived,
and preserves the intuitive remembrance of it after being united with a body; but the evil
instincts of man often cause him to forget it."
621. Where is the law of God inscribed?
"In the conscience."
- Since man carries the lawn' of God in his conscience, where was the need of revealing it to
"He had forgotten and misunderstood it; God willed that it should be recalled to his memory."
622. Has God given to some men the mission of revealing His law?
"Yes, certainly. In every age there have been men who have received this mission; spirits of
higher degree, who have incarnated themselves for the purpose of advancing human
623. Have not those who have professed to instruct mankind sometimes made mistakes, and
led them astray by false reasonings?
"Those who, not being inspired by God, have arrogated to themselves, through ambition, a
mission which they had not received, may, undoubtedly, have led them into error;
nevertheless, as, after all, they were men of genius, great truths are often to be found, even in
the midst of the errors they taught."
624. What are the characteristics of the true pro prophet?
"The true prophet is an upright man who is inspired by God. He may be recognised both by
his words and by his deeds. God does not employ the mouth of a liar to teach the truth."
625. What is the most perfect type that God has offered to man as his guide and model?
Jesus is the type of the moral perfection to which man may attain upon this earth. God offers Him to our
thought as our most perfect model and the doctrine taught by Him is the purest expression of the divine
law, because He was animated by the divine spirit, and was the purest being who has ever appeared upon
the earth.
If some of those who have professed to instruct man in the law of God have sometimes led him astray by
the inculcation of error. it is because they have allowed themselves to be swayed by sentiments of too
earthly a nature, and because they have confounded the laws which regulate the conditions of the life of
the soul which regulate the life of the body. Many pretended revealers have announced as divine laws
what were only human laws, devised by them for serving their own passions and obtaining dominion over
their fellow-men.
626. Have the divine or natural lares been revealed to men by Jesus only, and had men,
before His time, no other knowledge than that given them by intuition?
"Have we who told you that those laws are written everywhere? All the men who have
meditated upon wisdom have therefore been able to comprehend and to teach them from the
remotest times. By their teachings, imperfect though they were, they have prepared the
ground for the sowing of the seed. The divine laws being written in the book of nature, it has
always been possible for man to know them by searching after them. For this reason, the
moral precepts they consecrate have been proclaimed, in all ages, by upright men; and, for the
same reason also, the elements of the moral law are to be found among every nation above
the barbarian degree, although incomplete, or debased by ignorance and superstition.
627. Since the true laws of God have been taught by Jesus, what is the use of the teachings
given by spirits? Have they anything more to teach us?
"The teachings of Jesus were often allegoric, and conveyed in parables; because He spoke
according to the time and place in
which He lived. The time has now come when the truth must be made intelligible for all. It is
necessary to explain and develop the divine laws, because few among you understand them,
and still fewer practise them. Our mission is to strike the eyes and ears of all, in order to
confound pride, and to unmask the hypocrisy of those who assume the outward appearances
of virtue and of religion as a cloak for their turpitudes. We are charged to prepare the reign of
good announced by Jesus; to furnish the explanations that will render it impossible for men to
continue to interpret the law of God according to their passions, or to pervert the meaning of
what is wholly a law of love and of kindness."
628. Why has not the truth been always placed within reach of every one?
"Each thing can only come in its time. Truth is like light; you must be accustomed to it
gradually; otherwise it only dazzles you.
"Hitherto, God has never permitted man to receive communications so full and instructive as
those which he is permitted to receive at this day. There were, undoubtedly, in ancient times,
as you know, individuals who were in possession of knowledge which they considered as
sacred, and which they kept as a mystery from those whom they regarded as profane. You can
well understand, from what you know of the laws which govern the phenomena of spiritcommunication,
that they received only a few fragmentary truths, scattered through a mass of
teachings that were generally emblematic, and often erroneous. Nevertheless, there is no old
philosophic system, no tradition, no religion, that men should neglect to study; for they all
contain the germs of great truths, which, however they may seem to contradict each otherperverted
as they are by their mixture with various worthless accessories-may be easily coordinated,
with the aid of the key that Spiritism gives you to a class of facts which have
hitherto seemed to be contrary to reason, but of which the reality is irrefutably demonstrated
at the present day. You should therefore not fail to make those old systems a subject of study,
for they are rich in lessons, and may contribute largely to your instruction."
Good and Evil
629. What definition can be given of the moral law?
"The moral law is the rule for acting aright, that is to say, for distinguishing practically
between good and evil. It is founded on
the observance of the law of God. Man acts rightly when he takes the good of all as his aim
and rule of action; for he then obeys the law of God."
630. How can we distinguish between good and evil?
"Good is whatever is in conformity with the law of God; and evil is whatever deviates from
it. Thus, to do right, is to conform to the law of God; to do wrong, is to infringe that law."
631. Has man of himself the means of distinguishing what is good from what is evil?
"Yes, when he believes in God, and desires to do what is right. God has given him
intelligence in order that he may distinguish between them."
632. As man is subject to error may he not be mistaken in his appreciation of good and evil,
and believe himself to be doing right, when, in reality, he is doing wrong?
"Jesus has said: 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.'
The whole moral law is contained in that injunction. Make it your rule of action, and you will
never go wrong."
633. The rule of good and evil, what may be called the rule of reciprocity or solidarity,
cannot be applied to a man's to personal conduct towards himself. Does he find, in natural
law, the rule of that conduct, and a safe guide?
"When you eat too much, it hurts you. God gives you, in the discomfort thus produced, the
measure of what is necessary for you. When you exceed that measure, you are punished. It is
the same with everything else. Natural law traces out for each man the limit of his needs:
when he oversteps that limit he is punished by the suffering thus caused. If men gave heed, in
all things, to the voice which says to them 'enough!' they would avoid the greater part of the
ills of which they accuse nature."
634. Why does evil exist in the nature of things? I speak of moral evil. Could not God have
created the human race in more favourable conditions?
"We have already told you that spirits are created simple and ignorant (115). God leaves man
free to choose his road; so much the worse for him if he takes the wrong one; his pilgrimage
will be all the longer. If there were no mountains, man could not comprehend the possibility
of ascending and descending; if there
were no rocks, he could not understand that there are such things as hard bodies. It is
necessary for the spirit to acquire experience; and, to that end, he must know both good and
evil. It is for this purpose that souls are united to bodies." (119.)
635. The different social positions create new wants which are not the same for all men.
Natural law would therefore appear not to be a uniform rule?
"Those different positions are in nature, and according to the law of progress; they do not
invalidate the unity of natural law, which applies to everything."
The conditions of a man's existence vary according to times and places hence arise for him different
wants. and social positions corresponding to those wants. Since this diversity is in the order of things, it
must be consonant with the law of God; and this law is none the less one in principle. It is for reason to
distinguish between real wants and wants that are factitious or conventional.
636. Are good and evil absolute for all men?
"The law of God is the same for all; but evil resides especially in the desire for its
commission. Good is always good, and evil is always evil, whatever a man's position may be;
the difference is in the degree of his responsibility."
637. When a savage, yielding to his instinctive desire feeds on human flesh, i~ he guilty in so
"I have said that the essence of evil is in the will; therefore a man is more or less guilty
according to his light."
Circumstances modify the relative intensity of good and of evil. A man often commits faults that are none
the less reprehensible for being the consequence of the social position in which he is placed; but his
responsibility is proportioned to the means he possesses of distinguishing between right and wrong. Thus
the enlightened man who commits a mere injustice 15 more culpable in the sight of God than the ignorant
savage who abandons himself to his instincts of cannibalism.
638. Evil seems, sometimes, to be a consequence of the force of things. Such is, for instance,
in some cases, the necessity of destruction, even to the extent of taking the life of a fellowcreature.
Can it be said that, in such cases, there is violation of the law of God?
"Evil, in such cases, is none the less evil, although necessary; but this necessity disappears in
proportion as the soul becomes purified by passing from one existence to another; and man
15 then all the more culpable when he does wrong, because he comprehends more clearly the
character of his action."
639. The evil we do is often the result of the position that has been made for us by other men;
where, in such a case, lies the greatest amount of culpability?
"With those who have been the cause of the wrong-doing. Thus the man who has been led
into evil, by the position that his fellow-creatures have made for him, is less guilty than those
who have caused him to go astray, for each has to suffer the penalty, not only of the evil he
has done, but of that which he has caused another to do."
640. Is he who profits by another's wrongdoing, even though he took no part in its
commission, as guilty as though he had taken part in it?
"Yes; to take advantage of a crime is to take part in it. He would, perhaps, have shrunk from
committing the evil deed, but if, the deed being done, he takes advantage of it, it is equivalent
to doing it, and proves that he would have done it himself, if he could, or if he dared."
641. Is it as reprehensible to desire to do an evil deed as to do it?
"That is as the case may be. Voluntarily to resist the desire to do wrong, especially when there
is a possibility of gratifying that desire, is virtuous; hut he, who has only not done the wrong
thing because the opportunity was wanting, is as guilty as though he had done it."
642. In order to be acceptable in the sight of God, and to insure our future happiness, is it
sufficient not to have done evil?
"No; it is necessary for each to have done good also, to the utmost limits of his ability; for
each of you will have to answer, not only for all the evil he has done, but also for all the good
which he has failed to do."
643. Are there persons who, through their position, have no possibility of doing good?
"There are none who cannot do some good; the selfish alone find no opportunity of so doing.
The mere fact of being in relation with other human beings suffices to furnish the opportunity
of doing good, and every day of your lives provides this possibility for every one who is not
blinded by selfishness. For doing good is not restricted to the giving of alms, but also
comprehends being useful to the full extent of your power, whenever your assistance may be
644. Is it not sometimes the case that the situation in which a man finds himself placed has a
good deal to do with leading him into vice and crime?
"Yes, but that situation is itself a part of the trial which has been chosen by his spirit in the
state of freedom; he has elected to expose himself to its temptations, in order to acquire the
merit of resistance."
645. When a man is plunged, so to say, in an atmosphere of vice, does not the impulsion to
evil become, for him, almost irresistible?
"The impulsion is strong, but not irresistible, for you sometimes find great virtues in an
atmosphere of vice. Those who thus remain virtuous in the midst of incitements to evil are
spirits who have acquired sufficient strength to resist temptation, and who, while thus testing
that strength, fulfil the mission of exercising a beneficial influence on those around them."
646. Is the meritoriousness of virtuous action measured by the conditions under which that
action has been accomplished? In other words, are there different degrees of meritoriousness
in doing right?
"The meritoriousness of virtuous action depends on the difficulty involved in it; there would
be no merit in doing right without self-denial and effort God counts the sharing of his morsel
of bread by the poor man, as of a higher merit than the giving of his superfluity by the rich
one. Jesus told you this in His parable of the widow's mite."
Division of Natural Law
647. Is the whole of the law of God contained in the rule of love of the neighbour laid dawn
by Jesus?
"That rule certainly contains all the duties of men to one another; but it is necessary to show
them its various applications, or they will continue to neglect them, as they do at the present
day. Besides, natural law embraces all the circumstances of life, and the rule you have cited is
only a part of it. Men need precise directions; general precepts are too vague, and leave too
many doors open to human interpretations."
648. What do you think of the division of natural law into ten parts, vie., the Ian's of
adoration, labour, reproduction, preservation, society, equality, liberty, justice, love, and
"The division of the law of God into ten parts is that of Moses, and may be made to include
all the circumstances of life, which is the essential point. You may therefore adopt it, without
its being held to have any absolute value, any more than the various other systems of
classification which depend on the aspect under which the subject is considered. The last of
those parts is the most important; because the law of charity includes all the others, and it is
therefore through the observance of this law that mankind advances most rapidly in spiritual
Aim of Adoration
649. In what does adoration consist?
"In the elevation of the thought towards God. Through adoration the soul draws nearer to
650. Is adoration the result of an innate sentiment, or the product of exterior teaching?
"Of an innate sentiment, like the belief in the Divinity. The consciousness of his weakness
leads man to bow before the Being who can protect him."
651. Are there peoples entirely without the sentiment of adoration?
"No; for there never was a people of atheists. All feel that there is, above them, a supreme
652. May adoration be regarded as having its source in natural law?
"It is included in natural law, since it is the result of a sentiment innate in man; for which
reason it is found among all peoples, though under different forms."
External Acts of Adoration
653. Are external manifestations essential to adoration?
"True adoration is in the heart. In all your actions remember that the Master's eyes is always
upon you."
-Are external acts of worship useful?
“Yes, if they are not a vain pretence. It is always useful to set a good example; but those who
perform acts of worship merely from affectation and for the sake of appearances, and whose
conduct belies their seeming piety, set a bad example rather than a good one, and do more
harm than they imagine."
654. Does God accord a preference to those who worship Him according to any particular
"God prefers those who worship Him from the heart, with sincerity, and by doing what is
good and avoiding what is evil, to those who fancy they honour Him by ceremonies which do
not render them any better than their neighbours.
"All men are brothers, and children of God; He calls to Him all who follow His laws,
whatever may be the form under which they show their obedience.
"He who has. only the externals of piety is a hypocrite; he whose worship is only a pretence,
and in contradiction with his conduct, sets a bad example.
"He who professes to worship Christ, and who is proud, envious, and jealous, who is hard and
unforgiving to others, or ambitious of the goods of earth, is religious with the lips only, and
not with the heart. God, who sees all things, will say to him, 'He who knows the truth, and
does not follow it, is a hundredfold more guilty in the evil he does than the ignorant savage,
and will he treated accordingly in the day of retribution.' If a blind man runs against you as he
goes by, you excuse him; but if the same thing is done by a man who sees, you complain, and
with reason.
"Do not ask, then, if any form of worship be more acceptable than another; for it is as though
you asked whether it is more pleasing to God to be worshipped in one tongue rather than in
another. Remember that the hymns addressed to Him can reach Him only through the door of
the heart."
655. Is it wrong to practise the external rites of a religion in which we do not heartily believe,
when this is done out of respect for those with whom we are connected, and in order not to
scandalise those who think differently from us?
"In such a case, as in many others, it is the intention that decides the quality of the act. He
whose only aim, in so doing, is to show respect for the belief of others, does no wrong; he
does better than the man who turns them into ridicule, for the latter sins against charity. But
he who goes through with such practices simply from interested motives, or from ambition, is
contemptible in the sight of God and of men. God could not take pleasure in those who
only pretend to humiliate themselves before Him, in order to attract the approbation of their
656. Is worship performed in common preferable to individual worship?
"When those who sympathise in thought and feeling are assembled together, they have more
power to attract good spirits to them. It is the same when they are assembled for worshipping
God. But you must not therefore conclude that private worship is less acceptable; for each
man can worship God in his own thought."
Life of Contemplation.
657. Have men who give themselves up to a life of contemplation, doing nothing evil, and
thinking only of God, any special merit in His eyes?
"No, for if they do nothing evil, they do nothing good; and besides, not to do good is, in itself,
evil. God wills that His children should think of Him; but He does not will that they should
think only of Him, since He has given men duties to discharge upon the earth. He who
consumes his life in meditation and contemplation does nothing meritorious in the sight of
God, because such a life is entirely personal and useless to mankind; and God will call him to
account for the good he has failed to do." (640.)
658. Is prayer acceptable to God?
"Prayer is always acceptable to God when dictated by the heart, for the intention is everything
in His sight; and the prayer of the heart is preferable to one read from a book, however
beautiful it may be, if read with the lips rather than with the thought. Prayer is acceptable to
God when it is offered with faith, fervour, and sincerity; but do not imagine that He will listen
to that of the vain, proud, or selfish man, unless it be offered as an act of sincere repentance
and humility."
659. What is the general character of prayer?
"Prayer is an act of adoration. To pray to God is to think of Him, to draw nearer to Him, to
put one's self in communication with Him. He who prays may propose to himself three
things: to praise, to ask, and to thank."
660. Does prayer make men better?
"Yes; for lie who prays with fervour and confidence has more strength for withstanding the
temptations of evil, and for obtaining from God the help of good spirits to assist him in so
doing. Such help is never refused when asked for with sincerity."
- How is it that persons who pray a great deal are sometimes very unnameable, jealous,
envious, and harsh, wanting in benevolence and forbearance, and even extremely vicious?
"What is needed is not to pray a great deal, but to pray aright. Such persons suppose that all
the virtue of prayer is in its length, and shut their eyes to their own defects. Prayer, for them,
is an occupation, a means of passing their time, but not a study of themselves. In such cases,
it is not the remedy that is inefficaceous, but the mode in which it is employed."
661. Is there any use in asking God to forgive us our faults?
"God discerns the good and the evil: prayer does not hid faults from His eyes. He who asks of
God the forgiveness of his faults, obtains that forgiveness only through a change of conduct.
Good deeds are the best prayers, for deeds are of more worth than words."
662. Is there any use in praying for others?
"The spirit of him who prays exercises an influence through his desire to do good. By prayer,
he attracts to himself good spirits who take part with him in the good he desires to do."
We possess in ourselves. through our thought and our will, a power of action that extends far beyond the
limits of our corporeal sphere. To pray for' others is ~n act of our will. If our will be ardent and sincere, if
calls good spirits to the aid of the party prayed for, and thus helps him by the suggestion of good
thoughts, and by giving him the strength of body and of soul which he needs. But, in his case also, the
prayer of the heart is everything; that of the lips is nothing.
663. Can we, by praying for ourselves, avert our trials, or change their nature?
"Your trials are in the hands of God, and there are some of them that must be undergone to
the very end; but God always takes account of the resignation with which they are borne.
Prayer calls to your help good spirits who give you strength to bear them with courage. so that
they seem to you less severe. Prayer is never useless when it is sincere, because it gives you
strength, which is, of itself, an important result. 'Heaven helps him who helps himself,' is a
true saying. God could change the order of nature at the various contradictory demands of His
creatures; for
what appears to be a great misfortune to you, from your narrow point of view, and in relation
to your ephemeral life on the earth, is often a great blessing in relation to the general order of
the universe; and, besides, of how many of the troubles of his life is man himself the author,
through his short-sightedness or through his wrong doing! He is punished in that wherein he
has sinned. Nevertheless, your reasonable requests are granted more often than you suppose.
You think your prayer has not been heeded, because God has not worked a miracle on your
behalf; while, in fact. He has really assisted you, but by means so natural that they seem to
you to have been the effect of chance or of the ordinary course of things. And, more often
still, He suggests to your minds the thought of what you must do in order to help yourselves
out of your difficulties."
664. Is it useful to pray for the dead, and for suffering spirits, and, if so, in what way can our
prayers soften or shorten their sufferings? Have they the power to turn aside the justice of
"Prayer can have no effect upon the designs of God; but the spirit for whom you pray is
consoled by your prayer, because you thus give him a proof of interest, and because he who is
unhappy is always comforted by the kindness which compassionates his suffering. On the
other hand, by your prayer, you excite him to repentance, and to the desire of doing all that in
him lies to become happy; and it is this way that you may shorten the term of his suffering,
provided that he, on his side, seconds your action by that of his own will. This desire for
amelioration, excited by your prayer in the mind of the suffering spirit, attracts to him spirits
of higher degree, who come to enlighten him, console him, and give him hope. Jesus prayed
for the sheep that have gone astray; thereby showing you that you cannot, without guilt,
neglect to do the same for those who have the greatest need of your prayers."
665. What is to be thought of the opinion which rejects the idea of praying for the dead
because it is not prescribed in the gospel?
"Christ has said, to all mankind, 'Love one another.' This injunction implies, for all men, the
duty of employing every possible means of testifying their affection for each other; but
without entering into any details in regard to the manner of attaining that end. If it be true that
nothing can turn aside the Creator from
applying, to every action of every spirit, the absolute justice of which He is the type, it is none
the less true that the prayer you address to Him, on behalf of a suffering spirit for whom you
feel affection or compassion, is accepted by Him as a testimony of remembrance that never
fails to bring relief and consolation to the sufferer. As soon as the latter manifests the slightest
sign of repentance. but only then. help is sent to him; but he is never allowed to remain in
ignorance of the fact that a sympathising heart has exerted itself on his behalf, and, is always
left under the consoling impression that this friendly intercession has been of use to him.
Thus your intervention necessarily induces a feeling of gratitude and affection, on his part, to
the friend who has given him this proof of kindness and of pity; and the mutual affection
enjoined upon all men by Christ will thereby have been developed or awakened between you
and him. Both of you will thus have obeyed the law of love and union imposed on all the
beings of the universe; that Divine law which will usher in the reign of unity that is the aim
and end of a spirit's education."¹
666. May we pray to spirits?
"You may pray to good spirits as being the messengers of God, and the executants of His
will; but their power, which is always proportioned to their elevation, depends entirely on the
Master of all things, without whose permission nothing takes place. For this reason, prayers
addressed to them are only efficacious if accepted by God."
667. How is it that polytheism, although it is false, is nevertheless one of the most ancient and
wide-spread of human beliefs?
"The conception of the unity of God could only be, in the min(l of man the result of the
development of his ideas. Incapable, in his ignorance, of conceiving of an immaterial being,
without a determinate form, acting upon matter, man naturally attributed to Him the attributes
of corporeal nature, that is to say, a form and a face; and thenceforth everything that appeared
to surpass the proportions of an ordinary human intelligence was regarded by him as a
divinity. Whatever he could not understand was looked upon
¹ This reply was given by the spirit of M. Monod, the well-known and highly-esteemed Protestant pastor
of Paris, deceased in 1856. The preceding reply (Nº. 664) was given by the spirit of St Louis.
by him as being the work of a supernatural power; and, from that assumption, to the belief in
the existence of as many distinct powers as the various effects which he beheld but could not
account for, there was but a step. But there have been, in all ages, en lightened men who have
comprehended the impossibility of the world's being governed by this multitude of powers,
without a supreme over-ruling direction, and who have thus been led to raise their thought to
the conception of the one sole God"
668. As phenomena attesting the action of spirits have occurred in all ages of the world, and
have thus been known from the earliest times, may they not have helped to induce a belief in
the plurality of gods?
"Undoubtedly; for, as men applied the term god to whatever surpassed humanity, spirits were,
for them, so many gods. For this reason, whenever a man distinguished himself among all
others by his actions, his genius, or an occult power incomprehensible by the vulgar, he was
made a god of, and was worshipped as such after his death." (603.)
The word god, among the Ancients, had a wide range of meaning. It did not, as in our days, represent the
Master of Nature, but was a generic term applied to all beings who appeared to stand outside of the pale
of ordinary humanity and, as the manifestations that have since been known as "spiritist" had revealed to
them the existence of incorporeal beings acting as one of the elementary powers of nature, they called
them gods, just as we call them spirits. It is a mere question of words; with this difference, however, that,
in their ignorance, purposely kept up by those whose interests It served, they built temples and raised
altars to them, making them offerings which became highly lucrative for the persons who had charge of
this mode of worship whereas, for us. spirits are merely creatures like ourselves, more or less advanced,
and having cast off their earthly envelope. If we carefully study the various attributes of the pagan
divinities, we shall easily recognise those of the spirits of our day, at every degree of the scale of spirit-life,
their physical state in worlds of higher advancement, the part taken by them in the things of the earthly
life, and the various properties of the perispirit.
Christianity, in bringing its Divine light to our world, has taught us to refer our adoration to the only
object to which It is due. But it could not destroy what is an element of nature; and the belief in the
existence of the Incorporeal beings around us has been perpetuated under various names. Their
manifestations have never ceased; but they have been diversely interpreted, and often abused under the
veil of mystery beneath which they were kept. while religion has regarded them as miracles, the
Incredulous have looked upon them as jugglery; but, at the present time, thanks to a more serious study
of the subject, carried on in the broad daylight of scientific investigation, the doctrine of spirit-presence
and spirit-action, stripped of the superstitious fancies by which it had been obscured for ages, reveals to
us one of the sublimest and most important principles of nature .
669. The custom of offering human sacrifices dates from the remotest antiquity. How can
mankind have been led to believe that such an enormity could be pleasing to God?
"In the first place, through their not having comprehended God as being the source of all
goodness. Among primitive peoples, matter predominates over spirit. Their moral qualities
not being yet developed, they give themselves up to the instincts of brutality. In the next
place, the men of the primitive periods naturally considered that a living creature must be
much more valuable in the sight of God than any merely material object; and this
consideration led them to immolate, to their divinities, first animals, and afterwards men,
because, according to their false ideas, they thought that the value of a sacrifice was
proportioned to the importance of the victim. In your earthly life, when you wish to offer a
present to any one, you select a gift, the costliness of which is proportioned to the amount of
attachment or consideration that you desire to testify to the person to whom you offer it. It
was natural that men who were ignorant of the nature of the Deity should do the same."
-The sacrificing of animals, then, preceded that of human beings?
"Such was undoubtedly the case."
-According to this explanation, the custom of sacrificing human beings did not originate in
mere cruelty?
"No; but in a false idea as to what would be acceptable to God. Look, for instance, at the story
of Abraham. In later times men have still farther debased this false idea by immolating their
enemies, the objects of their own personal animosity. But God has never exacted sacrifices of
any kind; those of animals, no more than those of men. He could not be honoured by the
useless destruction of His own creations."
670. Have human sacrifices, when offered with a pious intention, ever been pleasing to God."
"No, never; but God always weighs the intention which dictates any act. Men, being ignorant,
may have believed that they were performing a laudable deed in immolating their fellowbeings;
and, in such a case, God would accept their intention, but not their deed. The human
race, in working out its own amelioration, naturally came to recognise its error, and to
abominate the idea of sacrifices
that ought never to have entered into enlightened minds. I say 'enlightened,' because, however
dense the veil of materiality in which they were enveloped, their free-will sufficed, even then,
to give them a glimmering perception of their origin and their destiny, and many among them
already understood, by intuition, the wickedness they were committing, but which they none
the less accomplished for the gratification of their passions."
671. What should be thought of the wars styled "religious?" The sentiment that induces a
nation of fanatics to exterminate the greatest possible number of those who do not share their
belief, with a view to rendering themselves acceptable to God, would seem to proceed from
the same source as that which formerly led them to immolate their fellow-creatures as
"Such wars are stirred up by evil spirits; and the men who wage them place themselves in
direct opposition to the will of God, which is, that each man should love his brother as
himself. Since all religions, or rather all peoples, worship the same God, whatever the name
by which they call Him, why should one of them wage a war of extermination against
another, simply because its religion is different, or has not yet reached the degree of
enlightenment arrived at by the aggressor? Not to believe the word of Him who was sent by
God and animated by His spirit is excusable on the part of peoples who neither saw Him nor
witnessed the acts per-formed by Him; and, at all events, how can you hope that they will
hearken to His message of peace, when you try to force it upon them by fire and sword? It is
true that they have to be enlightened, and that it is your duty to endeavour to teach them the
doctrine of Christ; but this must be done by persuasion and gentleness; not by violence and
bloodshed. The greater number among you do not believe in the communication we have
with certain mortals; how could you expect that strangers should believe your assertions in
regard to this fact, if your acts belied the doctrine you profess?"
672. Was the offering of the fruits of the earth more acceptable in the sight of God than the
sacrificing of animals?
"It must evidently be more agreeable to God to be worshipped by the offering of the fruits of
the earth, than by that of the blood of victims. But I have already answered your question in
telling you that God's judgement is directed to the intention, and that the
outward fact is of little importance in His sight. A prayer, sent up from the depths of the
heart, is a hundredfold more agreeable to God than all the offerings you could possibly make
to Him. I repeat it, the intention is everything; the fact, nothing."
673. Might not these offerings be rendered more agreeable to God by consecrating them to
the relief of those who lack the necessaries of life, and, in that case, might not the sacrificing
of animals, accomplished in view of a useful end, be as meritorious as it is the reverse when
subserving no useful end, or profiting only to those who are in need of nothing? Would there
not be something truly pious in consecrating to the poor the first-fruits of all that God grants
to us upon the earth?
"God always blesses those who do good; to help the poor and afflicted is the best of all ways
of honouring Him. I do not mean to say that God disapproves of the ceremonies you employ
in praying to Him; but a good deal of the money thus spent might be more usefully employed.
God loves simplicity in all things. The man who attaches more importance to externals than
to the heart is a narrow-minded spirit; how, then, could it be possible for God to regard a
form as of any importance in comparison with the sentiment of which it is the expression?"
Necessity of Labour.
674. Is the necessity of labour a law of nature?
"That labour is a law of nature, and is proved by the fact that it is a necessity, and that
civilisation obliges man to perform a greater amount of labour, because it increases the sum
of his needs and of his enjoyments."
675. Ought we to understand by “labour” only occupations of a material nature?
"No; the spirit labours like the body. Every sort of useful occupation is a labour."
676. Why is labour imposed upon mankind?
"It is a consequence of his corporeal nature. It is an expiation, and, at the same time, a means
of developing his intelligence. Without labour man would remain in the infancy of
intelligence. This is why he is made to owe his food, his safety, and his well-being entirely to
his labour and activity. To him who is too weak in body for the rougher kinds of work, God
gives intelligence to make up for it; but the action of the intelligence is also a labour."
677. Why does nature herself provide for all the wants of the animals?
"Everything in nature labours. The animals labour as really as you do, but their work, like
their intelligence, is limited to the care of their own preservation; and this is why labour,
among them, does not lead to progress, while, among men, it has a double aim, viz., the
preservation of the body, and the development of thought, which is also a necessity for him.
and which raises him continually to a higher level. When I say that the labour of the animals
is limited to the care of their preservation, I mean that this is the aim which they propose to
themselves in working. But
they are also, unconsciously, and while providing only for their material needs, agents that
second the views of the Creator; and their labour none the less concurs to the working out of
the final end of nature, although you often fail to discover its immediate result."
678. In worlds more advanced than the earth, is man subjected to the same necessity of
"The nature of the labour is always relative to that of the wants it supplies; the less material
are those wants, the less material is the labour. But you must not suppose that man, in those
worlds, remains inactive and useless; idleness would be a torture instead of a benefit."
679. Is he who possesses a sufficiency of worldly goods for his subsistence enfranchised from
the law of labour?
"From material labour perhaps, but not from the obligation of rendering himself useful
according to his means, and of developing his own intelligence and that of others, which is
also a labour. If the man, to whom God has apportioned a sufficiency of means for insuring
his corporeal existence, be not constrained to win his bread by the sweat of his brow, the
obligation of being useful to his fellow-creatures is all the greater in his case, because the
portion appointed to him gives him a greater amount of leisure for doing good."
680. Are there not men who are incapable of working at anything whatever, and whose
existence is entirely useless?
"God is just; He condemns only him who is voluntarily useless; for such an one lives upon
the labour of others. He wills that each should make himself useful according to his faculties.
681. Does the law of nature impose upon children the obligation of labouring for their
"Certainly it does, just as it imposes on parents the duty of labouring for their children. For
this reason God has given a place in nature to the sentiment of filial and paternal affection, in
order that the members of a family may be led, by their mutual affection, to aid each other
reciprocally-a duty which is too often lost sight of in your present state of society."
Limit of Labour. Rest.
682. Rest being a necessity after labour, is it not a law of nature?
"Undoubtedly it is. Rest serves to restore the bodily powers and is also necessary in order to
give a little more freedom to the mind, enabling it to raise itself above matter."
683. What is the limit of labour?
"The limit of strength; but God leaves man at liberty to decide this point for himself."
684. What is to be thought of those who misuse their authority by imposing too heavy a
labour on their inferiors?
"They commit one of the worst of crimes. Every man exercising authority is answerable for
any excess of labour imposed by him on those who are under his orders, for he thereby
transgresses the law of God." (273.)
685. Has man a right to repose in old age?
"Yes; he is only obliged to labour according to his strength."
- But what resource is there for the old man who needs to work in order to support himself,
and yet is unable to do so?
"The strong should work for the weak; where family-help is not to be had, society should
supply its place. Such is the law of charity."
To say that it Is necessary for man to work is not to make a complete statement of the subject for it is also
necessary that he who has to gel his bread by labour should be able to find occupation, and this is far
from being always the case. whenever the suspension of labour becomes general, it assumes the
proportions of a famine. Economic science seeks a remedy for this evil In the equilibrium of production
and consumption: but this equilibrium. supposing it to be attainable, will always be subject to
intermittences, and during these intervals the labourer must live. There is an element of the question
which has not been sufficiently considered. viz., education, not merely the education of the intellect, not
even that of the moral nature as given by books, but that which consists in the formation, of characters
and habits; for education is the totality of the habits acquired. When we consider how great a mass of
individuals are thrown each day into the torrent of population. abandoned, without principles or curb. to
the impulsions of their animal instincts, can we wonder at the disastrous consequences thence resulting?
When the art of education shall be rightly understood and practised, each man will bring into the sphere
of daily life habits of order and forethought for himself and for those dependent on him, and of respect
for what is worthy of being respected ; and these habits will enable him to traverse periods of difficulty
with greater ease. Disorder and improvidence are social sores that can only be cured by education rightly
understood; the generalisation of such education is the starting-point and essential element of social wenbeing,
the only pledge of security for all.
Population of the Globe.
686. Is the reproduction of living beings a law of nature?
"Evidently it is; without reproduction the corporeal world would perish."
687. If the population of the globe goes on increasing as it has hitherto done, will it, in
course of time, become too numerous?
"No; the Divine overruling always provides for, and maintains, equilibrium. God permits
nothing useless. Man sees but a corner of the panorama of the universe, and is therefore
unable to perceive the harmony of its various departments."
Succession and Improvement of Races.
688. There are at this moment upon the earth races of men who are evidently and rapidly
diminishing. Will they eventually disappear from it?
"Yes; but it is because others will have taken their place, as your place will some day be taken
by others."
689. Are the men now upon the earth a new creation, or the improved descendants of the
primitive human beings?
"They are the same spirits; come back to improve themselves with the aid of new bodies, but
who are still very far from having reached perfection. Thus the present human race, which, by
its increase, tends to invade the whole earth and to replace the races that are dying out, will
have its period of decrease and disappearance. It will be replaced by other and more perfect
races, that will descend from the present race, as the civilised men of the present day are
descended from the rough-hewn savages of the primitive periods."
690. Regarded from a purely physical point of view, are the bodies of the present race of men
a special creation, or have they proceeded from the bodies of the primitive races by
"The origin of races is hidden in the night of time; but as they all belong to the great human
family, whatever may have been the primitive root of each, they have been able to form
alliances with one another, and thus to produce new types."
691. What, from a physical point of view, is the distinctive and dominant characteristic of
primitive races?
"The development of brute force at the expense of intellectual power. The contrary takes
place at the present day; for man now acts rather through his intelligence than through his
bodily strength, and yet he accomplishes a hundred-fold more than he formerly did, because
he has learned to avail himself of the forces of nature, which the animals cannot do."
692. Is the improvement of the vegetable and animal races, through the applications of
science, contrary to the law of nature? Would it be more conformable with that law to leave
them to follow their normal course?
"It is the duty of all beings to concur, in every way, in helping forward the general progress;
and man himself is employed by God as an instrument for the accomplishment of His ends.
Perfection being the aim towards which everything in nature is tending, to help forward this
process of improvement is to assist in working out the Divine intentions."
- But man, in his efforts to ameliorate the races of the lower reigns, is generally moved by
self-interest, and has no other aim than the increase of his personal enjoyments; does not this
diminish the merit of his action?
"What matters it that his merit should be null, provided the work of progress be
accomplished? It is for him to render his labour meritorious by inspiring himself with a noble
motive. Besides, in effecting these ameliorations, he develops his intelligence; and it is in this
way that he derives the greatest benefit from his labour."
Obstacles To Reproduction.
693. Are the human laws and customs that have been established for the purpose of placing
obstacles in the way of reproduction contrary to the laws of nature?
"Whatever hinders the operations of nature is contrary to the general law."
- But there are many species of living beings, animal and vegetable, the unlimited
reproduction of which would be hurtful to other species, and would soon be destructive of the
human race. Is it wrong for man to arrest their reproduction?
"God has given to man, over all the other living beings of his globe, a power which he ought
to use for the general good, hut not to abuse. He may regulate reproduction according to his
needs; hut he ought not to hinder it unnecessarily. The intelligent action of mankind is a
counterpoise established by God for restoring the equilibrium of the forces of nature; and
herein, again, man is distinguished from the animals, because he does this understandingly,
while the animals, that also concur in maintaining this equilibrium, do so unconsciously,
through the instinct of destruction which has been given to them, and which causes them,
while providing for their own preservation only, to arrest the excessive development of the
animal and vegetable species on which they feed, and which would otherwise become a
source of danger."
694. What is to be thought of usages intended to arrest reproduction in the interest of
"They prove the predominance of the body over the soul. and show 110w deeply man has
plunged himself in matter."
Marriage and Celibacy
695. Is marriage, that is to say, the permanent union of two beings, contrary to the law of
"It is a progress arrived at by the human race."
696. What would be the effect, upon human society, of the abolition of marriage?
"A return to the life of the beasts."
The free and fortuitous union of the sexes is the state of nature. Marriage Is one of the first results of
progress In the constitution of human society, because it establishes fraternal solidarity, being found
among every people, though under different conditions. The abolition of marriage would therefore be a
return to the infancy of the human race, and would place man even below certain animals that give him
the example of constant unions.
697. Is the absolute indissolubility of marriage to be found in the law of nature, or is it only
an ordination of human law."
"It is a human law, altogether contrary to the law of nature. But men may change their laws;
those of nature are alone unchangeable."
698. Is voluntary celibacy meritorious in the sight of God?
"No; those who live single from selfish motives are displeasing to God, for they fail to
perform their share of social duties."
699. Is not celibacy, on the part of some persons, a sacrifice made by them for the sake of
devoting themselves more entirely to the service of humanity?
"That is a very different thing; I said ‘from selfish motives’. Every sort of personal sacrifice is
meritorious when it is made for a good end; and the greater the sacrifice, the greater the
God cannot contradict Himself, nor regard as evil what He himself has made, and therefore He cannot
regard the violation of His law as meritorious. But although celibacy, in itself, is not meritorious, it may
become much when the renunciation of family-joys is a sacrifice accomplished in the interests of
humanity. Every sacrifice of personal interests, when made for the good of others and without any
reference to self, raises him who makes it above the level of his material condition.
700. Is polygamy or monogamy most in conformity with the law of nature?
"Polygamy is a human institution, the abolition of which marks an era of social progress.
Marriage, according to the intention of God, should be founded on the affection of the beings
who enter into it. In polygamy there is no real affection; there is only sensuality."
701. Is the almost exact numerical equality existing between the sexes an indication of the
proportions according to which they ought to be united?
"Yes; for every arrangement of nature has a specific purpose."
If polygamy were in accordance with the law of nature, it ought to be possible to establish it everywhere
but it would be physically impossible to do so, owing to the numerical equality of the sexes.
Polygamy must therefore be regarded as a mere custom, adapted to the present state of certain peoples,
and that will gradually disappear with the progress of their social improvement.
The Instinct of Self-Preservation.
702. Is the instinct of self-preservation a law of nature?
"Undoubtedly so. It is given to all living creatures, whatever their degree of intelligence; in
some it is purely mechanical, in others it is allied to reason.”
703. To what end has God given the instinct of self-preservation to all living beings?
"They are all necessary to the working out of the providential plans; and therefore God has
given them the desire to live. And besides, life is a necessary condition of the improvement of
beings; they feel this instinctively, without understanding it."
Means of Self-Preservation.
704. Has God, while giving to man the desire to live, always furnished him with the means of
doing so?
"Yes; and if man does not always find them, it is because he does not know how to avail
himself of the resources around him. God could not implant in man the love of life, without
giving him the means of living; and He has accordingly endowed the earth with a capacity of
production sufficient to furnish all its inhabitants with the necessaries of life. It is only that
which is necessary that is useful; that which is superfluous is never useful."
705. Why does not the earth always produce enough to provide mankind with the necessaries
of life?
"It is because man ungratefully neglects that excellent nursing-mother! Moreover, he often
accuses nature of what is the result of his own unskilfulness or want of forethought. The earth
always produce the necessaries of life, if men could content them-selves therewith. If it does
not suffice for all his wants, it is because men employ, in superfluities, what should be
devoted to the supply of necessaries. Look at the Arab in the desert; he always finds enough
to live upon, because he does not create for himself factitious needs; but when half the
products of the earth are wasted in satisfying fanciful desires, ought man to be astonished if
he afterwards runs short, and has he any reason to complain if he finds himself unprovided
for when a famine occurs ? I repeat it; nature is not improvident, but man does not know how
to regulate his use of her gifts."
706. By the term 'fruits of the earth,' should we understand merely the products of the soil?
"The soil is the original source of all other productions, which are, in reality, only a
transformation of the products of the soil; for that reason, by 'fruits of the earth' are to be
understood everything enjoyed by man in his corporeal life."
707. There are always persons who lack the means of existence, even in the midst of
abundance. Who is to blame for this?
"In some cases, the selfishness which too often prevents men from being just to others; in
other cases, and most often, themselves. Christ has said, 'Seek, and ye shall find;' but these
words do not imply that you have only to cast your eyes on the ground in order to find all that
you may desire, but rather that you must seek for what you want, and not indolently, but with
ardour and perseverance, and without allowing yourselves to be discouraged by obstacles that
are often only a means of putting your constancy, patience, and firmness to the proof." (534.)
If civilisation multiplies our needs, it also multiplies our resources and our means of existence. But it must
be admitted that, in this respect. much still remains to be done; for civilisation will only have
accomplished its task when it shall no longer be possible for any human being to lack the necessaries of
life, unless through his own fault. Unfortunately, too, many persons choose a path for which nature has
not fitted them, and in which they necessarily fail of success. There is room in the sunshine for every one;
but on condition that each takes his own place, and not that of another. Nature cannot justly be held
responsible for the results of defective social organisation, nor for those of personal selfishness and
There would, however, be blindness in denying the progress which has already been accomplished in this
direction among the nations which are most advanced. Thanks to the efforts of philanthropy and of
science for the amelioration of the material condition of mankind, and notwithstanding the constant
increase of the population of the globe, the effects of insufficient production are considerably attenuated,
so that the most unfavourable years are far less calamitous than formerly. Hygiene, unknown to our
forefathers, yet so essential a condition of public and individual health, is the object of constant and
enlightened solicitude: asylums are provided for the unfor-
tunate and the suffering: and every new discovery of science is made to contribute its quota to the general
weal. Far as we still are from having attained to the perfection of social arrangements, what is already
accomplished gives the measure of what may be done with the aid of perseverance, if men are reasonable
enough to seek after solid and practical improvements, instead of wasting their energies on utopian
projects that put them back instead of helping them forward.
708. Are there not social positions in which the will is powerless to obtain the means of
existence, and in which the privation of the barest necessaries of life is a consequence of the
force of circumstances?
"Yes; but such a position is a trial which, however severe, the party who is subjected to it
knew, in the spirit-state. that he would have to undergo. His merit will result from his
submission to the will of God, if his intelligence does not furnish him with the means of
freeing himself from his troubles. If death supervenes, he should meet it without a murmur,
remembering that the hour of his deliverance is approaching, and that any yielding to despair
at the last moment may cause him to lose the fruit of his previous resignation."
709. In critical situations men have been reduced to devour their fellow--men, as the only
means of saving themselves from starvation. Have they, in so doing, committed a crime' And
if so, is their crime lessened by the fact that it has been committed under the excitement of the
instinct of self-preservation?
"I have already answered this question in saying that all the trials of life should be submitted
to with courage and abnegation. In the cases you refer to there is both homicide and crime
against nature; a double culpability that will receive double punishment."
710. In worlds in which the corporeal organisation of living beings is of a purer nature than
in the earth, do these need food?
"Yes; but their food is in keeping with their nature. Their aliments would not be substantial
enough for your gross stomachs and, on the other hand, those beings could not digest your
heavier food."
Enjoyments of the Fruits of the Earth.
711. Have all men a right to the usufruct of the products of the earth?
"That right is a consequence of the necessity of living. God cannot have imposed a duty
without having given the means of discharging it."
712. Why has God attached an attraction to the enjoyment of material things?
"In order, first, to excite man to the accomplishment of his mission, and next, to try him by
- What is the aim of temptation?
"To develop his reason, that it may preserve him from excesses."
If man had only been urged to the using of the things of the earthly life by a conviction of their utility, his
indifference to them might have compromised the harmony of the universe. Cod has therefore given him
the pleasurable attractions that solicit him to the accomplishing of the views of Providence. But God has
also willed, through this attraction. to try man by temptations that incite him to abuses against which his
reason should protect him.
713. Has nature marked out the proper limits of corporeal satisfactions?
"Yes, limits that coincide with your needs and your well-being. When you overstep them, you
bring on satiety, and thus punish yourselves."
714. What is to be thought of the man who seeks to enhance corporeal enjoyments by
inventing artificial excesses?
"Think of him as a poor wretch who is to be pitied rather than envied, for he is very near
- Do you mean to physical death, or to moral death?
"To both."
The man who, in pursuit of corporeal satisfactions, seeks an enhancement of those satisfactions in any
kind of excess, places himself below the level of the brute, for the brute goes no farther than the
satisfaction of a need. He abdicates the reason given to him by God for his guidance: and the greater his
excesses, the more dominion does he give to his animal nature over his spiritual nature. The maladies and
infirmities, often occasioning death, that are the consequences of excess in the satisfaction of any
corporeal attraction, are also punishments for thus transgressing the law of God.
Necessaries and Superfluities.
715. How can men know the limit of what is necessary?
"Wise men know it by intuition; others learn it through experience, and to their cost."
716. Has not nature traced out the limit of our needs in the requirements of our
"Yes, but man is insatiable. Nature has indicated the limits of his needs by his organisation;
but his vices have deteriorated his constitution, and created for him wants that are not real
717. What is to be thought of those who monopolise the productions of the earth, in order to
procure for themselves superfluities, at the expense of others who lack the necessaries of life?
"They forget the law of God, and will have to answer for the privations they have caused
others to endure."
There is no absolute boundary-line between the necessary and the superfluous. Civilisation has created
necessities that do not exist for the savage and the spirits who have dictated the foregoing precepts do not
mean to assert that civilised men should live like the savage. All things are relative; and the function of
reason is to determine the part to be allotted to each. Civilisation develops the moral sense, and, at the
same time, the sentiment of charity, which leads men to give to each other mutual support. Those who live
at the expense of other men's privations monopolise the benefits of civilisation for their own profit they
have only the varnish of civilisation, as others have only the mask of religion.
Voluntary Privations.
718. Does the law of self-preservation make it our duty to provide for our bodily wants?
"Yes; without physical health and strength, labour is impossible."
719. Is it blameable in a man to seek after the comforts and enjoyments of corporeal life?
"The desire of corporeal well-being is natural to man. God only prohibits excess, because
excess is inimical to preservation; He has not made it a crime to seek after enjoyment, if that
enjoyment be not acquired at another's expense, and if it be riot of a nature to weaken either
your moral or your physical strength."
720. Are voluntary privations, in view of a voluntary expiation, meritorious in the sight of
"Do good to others, and you will thereby acquire more merit than is to be acquired by any
self-imposed privations."
-Is any voluntary privation meritorious?
"Yes; the self-privation of useless indulgences, because it loosens man's hold on matter, and
elevates his soul. What is meritorious is resistance to the temptation that solicits to excess or
to indulgence in what is useless; it is the cutting down even of your necessaries, that you may
have more to give to those who are in want. If your privations are only a vain pretence, they
are a mere mockery."
721. At every period in the past, and among all peoples, there have been men who have lived
a life of ascetic mortification; is such a life meritorious from any point of view?
"Ask yourselves to whom such a life is useful, and you will have the reply to your question. If
such a life is only for him who leads it, and if it prevents him from doing good to others, it is
only a form of selfishness, whatever the pretext with which it is coloured. True mortification,
according to the dictates of Christian charity, is to impose privation and labour upon yourselves
for the good of others."
722. Is there any foundation in reason for the abstinence from certain aliments practised
among various peoples?
"Whatever man can eat without injury to his health is permitted to him. Legislators may have
prohibited certain aliments for some useful end, and, in order to give greater weight to their
prohibitions, have represented them as emanating from God."
723. Is the use of animal food by man contrary to the law of nature?
"With your physical constitution, flesh is useful for nourishing flesh; without this kind of
sustenance man's strength declines. The law of preservation makes it a duty for man to keep
up his health and strength, that he may fulfil the law of labour. He should therefore feed
himself according to the requirements of his organisation."
724. Is there any merit in abstinence from any particular kind of food, animal or other, when
undergone as an expiation?
"Yes, if undergone for the sake of others; but God cannot regard as meritorious any
abstinence that does not impose a real privation, and that has not a serious and useful aim.
This is why we say that those whose fasting is only apparent are hypocrites." (720.)
725. What is to be thought of the mutilation of the bodies of men or of animals?
"What is the use of asking such a question ? Ask yourselves, once for all, whether a thing is
or is not useful. What is useless cannot be pleasing to God, and what is hurtful is always
displeasing to Him. Be very sure that God is only pleased with the sentiments that raise the
soul towards Him. It is by practising His law, and not by violating it, that you can shake off
your terrestrial matter."
726. If the sufferings of this world elevate us through the manner in which we bear them, are
we elevated by those which we voluntarily create for ourselves?
"The only sufferings that can elevate you are those which come upon you naturally, because
they are inflicted by God. Voluntary sufferings count for nothing when they are not useful to
others. Do you suppose that those who shorten their lives by superhuman hardships, like the
bonzes, fakirs, and fanatics of various sects, advance their progress thereby? Why do they not
rather labour for the good of their fellow-creatures? Let them clothe the naked; let them
comfort those who mourn; let them work for the infirm; let them impose privations upon
themselves for the sake of the unfortunate and the needy; and their life will be useful, and
pleasing to God. When your voluntary sufferings are undergone only for yourselves, they are
mere selfishness; when you suffer for others, you obey the law of charity. Such are the
precepts of Christ."
727. If we ought not to create for ourselves voluntary sufferings that are of no use to others,
ought we to endeavour to ward off from ourselves those which we foresee, or wit h which we
are threatened?
"The instinct of self-preservation has been given to all beings to guard them against dangers
and sufferings. Flagellate your spirit, and not your body; mortify your pride; stifle the
selfishness that eats into the heart like a devouring worm; and you will 4o more for your
advancement than you could do by any amount of macerations out of keeping with the age in
which you are living."
Necessary Destruction and Unjustifiable Destruction.
728. Is destruction a law of nature?
"It is necessary that all things should be destroyed that they may be re-born and regenerated;
for what you call destruction is only a transformation, the aim of which is the renewing and
amelioration of living beings."
- The instinct of destruction would seem, then, to have been given to living beings for
providential purposes?
"God's creatures are the instruments which He uses for working out His ends. Living beings
destroy each other for food; thus maintaining equilibrium in reproduction, which might
otherwise become excessive, and also utilising the materials of their external envelopes. But
it is only this envelope that is ever destroyed, and this envelope is only the accessory, and, not
the essential part, of a thinking being; the essential part is the intelligent principle which is
indestructible, and which is elaborated in the course of the various metamorphoses that it
729. If destruction be necessary for the regeneration of beings, why does nature surround
them with the means of self-preservation?
"In order that their destruction may not take place before the proper time. Destruction that
occurs too soon retards the development of the intelligent principle. It is for this reason that
God has given to each being the desire to live and to reproduce itself."
730. Since death is to lead us to a better life, and since it delivers us from the ills of our
present existence, and is therefore
to be rather desired than dreaded, why has man the instinctive horror of death which causes
him to shrink from it?
"We have said that man should seek to prolong his life in order to accomplish his task. To
this end God has given him the instinct of self-preservation, and this instinct sustains him
under all his trials; but for it, he would too often abandon himself to discouragement. The
inner voice, which tells him to repel death, tells him also that he may yet do something more
for his advancement. Every danger that threatens him is a warning that bids him make a
profitable use of the respite granted to him by God; but he, ungrateful, gives thanks more
often to his 'star' than to his Creator."
731. Why has nature placed agents of destruction side by side with the means of
"We have already told you that it is in order to maintain equilibrium, and to serve as a
counterpoise. The malady and the remedy are placed side by side."
732. Is the need of destruction the same in all worlds?
"It is proportioned to the more or less material state of each world; it ceases altogether in
worlds of higher physical and moral purity. In worlds more advanced than yours, the
conditions of existence are altogether different."
733. Will the necessity of destruction always exist for the human race of this earth?
"The need of destruction diminishes in man in proportion as his spirit obtains ascendancy
over matter. Consequently, you see that intellectual and moral development is always
accompanied by a horror of destruction."
734. Has man, in his present state, an unlimited right of destruction in regard to animals?
"That right is limited to providing for his food and his safety; no abuse can be a matter of
735. What is to be thought of destruction that goes beyond the limits of needs and of safety; of
hunting, for instance, when it has no useful aim, and is resorted to from no other motive than
the pleasure of killing?
"It is a predominance of bestiality over the spiritual nature. All destruction that goes beyond
the limits of your needs is a violation of the law of God. The animals only destroy according
to the
measure of their necessities; but man, who has free-will, destroys unnecessarily. He will be
called to account for thus abusing the freedom accorded to him; for, in so doing, he yields to
evil! instincts from which he ought to free himself."
736. Are those peoples especially meritorious who, in regard to the taking of animal life,
carry their scrupulousness to excess?
"Their sentiment in regard to this matter, though laudable in itself, being carried to excess,
becomes an abuse in its turn; and its merit, moreover, is neutralised by abuses of many other
sorts. That sentiment, on their part, is the result of superstitious fear, rather than of true
Destructive Calamities.
737. What is the aim of God in visiting mankind with destructive calamities?
"To make men advance more quickly. Have we not told you that destruction is necessary to
the moral regeneration of spirits, who accomplish a new step of their purification in each new
existence? In order to appreciate any process correctly, you must see its results. You judge
merely from your personal point of view, and you therefore regard those inflictions as
calamities, because of the temporary injury they cause you; but such upsettings are often
needed in order to make you reach more quickly a better order of things, and to effect, in a
few years, what you would otherwise have taken centuries to accomplish." (744.)
738. Could not God employ other methods than destructive calamities for effecting the
amelioration of mankind?
"Yes; and He employs them every day, for He has given to each of you the means of
progressing through the knowledge of good and evil. It is because man profits so little by
those other means, that it becomes necessary to chastise his pride, and to make him feel his
- But the good man succumbs under the action of these scourges, as does the wicked; is this
"During his earthly sojourn, man measures everything by the standard of his bodily life; but,
after death, he judges differently, and feels that the life of the body, as we have often told you,
is a very small matter. A century in your world is but the length of a flash in eternity, and
therefore the sufferings of what you call
days, months, or years, are of no importance; let this he a lesson for your future use. Spirits
are the real world, pre-existent to, and surviving, everything else; they are the children of
God, and the object of all His solicitude; and bodies are only the disguises tinder which they
make their appearances in the corporeal world. In the great calamities that decimate the
human race, the sufferers are like an army that, in the course of a campaign, sees its clothing
tattered, worn out, or lost. The general is more anxious about his soldiers than about their
- But the victims of those scourges are none the less victims?
"If you considered an earthly life as it is in itself, and how small a thing it is in comparison
with the life of infinity, you would attach to it much less importance. Those victims will find,
in another existence, an ample compensation for their sufferings, if they have borne them
without murmuring."
Whether our death be the result of a public calamity or of an ordinary cause. we are none the less
compelled to go when the hour of our departure has struck: the only difference is that, in the former case,
a greater number go away at the same time.
If we could raise our thoughts sufficiently high to contemplate the human race as a whole. and to take in
the whole of its destiny at a glance. the scourges that now seem so terrible would appear to us only as
passing storms in the destiny of the globe.
739. Are destructive calamities useful physically notwithstanding the temporary evils
occasioned by them?
"Yes, they sometimes change the state of a country, but the good that results from them is
often one that will be felt by future generations."
740. May not such calamities also constitute for man a moral trial, compelling him to
struggle with the hardest necessities of his lot?
"They are always trials, and, as such, they furnish him with the opportunity of. exercising his
intelligence, of proving his patience and his resignation to the will of God, and of displaying
his sentiments of abnegation, disinterestedness, and love for his neighbour, if he be not under
the dominion of selfishness."
741. Is it in man's power to avert the scourges that now afflict him?
"Yes, a part of them; but not as is generally supposed. Many of those scourges are the
consequence of his want of foresight; and, in proportion as he acquires knowledge and
experience, he becomes able to avert them, that is to say, he can prevent their
occurrence when he has ascertained their cause. But, among the ills that afflict humanity,
there are some, of a general nature, which are imposed by the decrees of Providence, and the
effect of which is felt, more or less sensibly, by each individual.
"To these, man can oppose nothing bill his resignation to the divine will, though he can, and
often does, aggravate their painfulness by his negligence."
In the class of destructive calamities resulting from natural causes, and independently of the action of
man. are to be placed pestilence, famine, inundations, and atmospheric influences fatal to the productions
of the earth. But has not man already found. In the applications of science, in agricultural improvements,
in the rotation of crops, in the study of hygienic conditions, the means of neutralising, or at least of
attenuating, many of these disasters ? Are not many countries. at the present day, preserved from terrible
plagues by which they were formerly ravaged? What, then, may not man accomplish for the advancement
of his material well-being, when he shall have learned to make use of all the resources of his intelligence,
and when he shall have added, to the care of his personal preservation. the large charity that interests
itself in the well-being of the whole human race? (107.)
742. What is the cause that impels man to war?
"The predominance of the animal nature over the spiritual nature, and the desire of satisfying
his passions. In the barbaric state, the various peoples know no other right than that of tile.
strongest; and their normal condition is, therefore, that of war. As men progress, war becomes
less frequent, through their avoidance of the causes which lead to it; and when it becomes
inevitable) they wage it more humanely."
743. Will wars ever cease on the earth?
"Yes; when men comprehend justice, and practise the law of God; all men will then be
744. What has been the aim of Providence in making war necessary?
"Freedom and progress."
- If war is destined to bring us freedom, how does it happen that its aim and upshot are so
often the subjugation of the people attacked?
"Such subjugation is only momentary, and is permitted in order to weary the nations of
servitude, and thus to urge them forward more rapidly."
745. What is to be thought of him who stirs up war for his own profit?
"Such an one is deeply guilty, and will have to undergo many corporal existences in order to
expiate all the murders caused by
him; for he will have to answer for every man who has been killed for the satisfaction of his
746. Is murder a crime in the sight of God?
"Yes, a great crime; for he who takes the life of his fellow-man cuts short an expiation or a
mission; hence the heinousness of his offence."
747. Are all murders equally heinous?
"We have said that God is just; He judges the intention rather than the deed."
748. Does God excuse murder in cases of self-defence?
"Only absolute necessity can excuse it; but if a man can only preserve his life by taking that
of his aggressor, he ought to do.
749. Is a man answerable for the murders he commits in war?
"Not when he is compelled to fight; but he is answerable for the cruelties he commits, and he
will be rewarded for his humanity."
750. Is parricide or infanticide the greater crime in the sight of God?
"They are equally great; for all crime is crime.”
751. How is it that the custom of infanticide prevails among peoples of considerable
intellectual advancement, and is even recognised as allowable by their laws?
"Intellectual development is not always accompanied by moral rectitude. A spirit may
advance in intelligence, and yet remain wicked; for he may have lived a long time without
having improved morally, and gained knowledge, without acquiring moral purification."
752. Is the sentiment of cruelty connected with the instinct of destruction?
"It is the instinct of destruction in its worst form, for, though destruction is sometimes
necessary, cruelty never is; it is always the result of an evil nature."
753. How comes it that cruelty is the dominant characteristic of the primitive races?
"Among the primitive races, as you call them, matter has the ascendancy over spirit. They
abandon themselves to the instincts of the brute; and as they care for nothing but the life of
the body, they think only of their personal preservation, and this generally renders them cruel.
And besides, peoples, whose development is still imperfect, are under the influence of spirits
equally imperfect, with whom they are in sympathy, until the coming among them of some
other people, more advanced than themselves, destroys or weakens that influence."
754. Is cruelty a result of the absence of the moral sense?
"Say that the moral sense is not developed, but do not say that it is absent; for its principle
exists in every man, and is this sense which, in course of time, renders beings kind and
humane. It exists, therefore, in the savage; but in him it is latent, as the principle of the
perfume is in the bud, before it opens into the flowers."
All faculties exist in man in a rudimentary or latent state; they are developed according as circumstances
are more or less favourable to them. The excessive development of some of them arrests or neutralises
that of others. The undue excitement of the material instincts stifles, so to say, the moral sense; as the
development of the moral sense gradually weakens the merely animal-faculties.
755. How is it that, in the midst of the most advanced civilisation, we sometimes find persons
as cruel as the savages?
"Just as, on a tree laden with healthy fruit, you may find some that are withered. They may be
said to be savages who have nothing of civilisation about them but the coat; they are wolves
who have strayed into the midst of the sheep. Spirits of low degree, and very backward, may
incarnate themselves among men of greater advancement, in the hope of advancing
themselves; but, if the trial be too arduous, their primitive nature gets the upper hand."
756. Will the society of the good be one day purged of evildoers?
"The human race is progressing. Those who are under the dominion of the instinct of evil,
and who are out of place among good people, will gradually disappear, as the faulty grain is
separated from the good when the wheat is threshed; hut they will be born again under
another corporeal envelope, and, as they acquire more experience, they will arrive at a clearer
understanding of good and evil. You have an example of this in the plants and animals which
man has discovered the art of improving, and in
which he develops new qualities. It is only after several generations that the improvement
becomes complete. This is a picture of the different existences of each human being."
757. Can duelling be considered as coming under the head of lawful self-defence?
"No; it is murder, and an absurdity worthy of barbarians. When civilisation is more advanced
and more moral, men will see that duelling is as ridiculous as the combats which were
formerly regarded as the ‘judgement of God.'"
758. Can duelling be considered as murder on the part of him who, knowing his own
weakness, is pretty sure of being killed?
"In such a case it is suicide."
- And when the chances are equal, is it murder or suicide?
"It is both."
In all cases, even in those in which the chances are equal. the duellist is guilty; in the first place, because
he makes a cool and deliberate attack on the life of his fellow-man, and in the second place, because he
exposes his own life uselessly. and without benefit to any one.
759. What is the real nature of what is called the point of honour in the matter of duels?
"Pride and vanity; two sores of humanity."
- But are there not cases in which a man's honour is really at stake, and in which a refusal to
fight would be an act of cowardice?
"That depends on customs and usages; each country and each. century has a different way of
regarding such matters. But when men are better, and more advanced morally, they will
comprehend that the true point of honour is above the reach of earthly passions, and that it is
neither by killing, nor by getting themselves killed, that they can obtain reparation for a
There is more real greatness and honour in confessing our wrongdoing if we are in the wrong, or in
forgiving if we are in the right; and, in all cases, in despising insults which cannot touch those who are
superior to them.
Capital Punishment.
760. Will capital punishment disappear some day from human legislation?
"Capital punishment will, most assuredly, disappear in course 0£ time; and its suppression
will mark a progress on the part of the human race. When men become more enlightened, the
penalty of death will be completely abolished throughout the earth; men will
no longer require to be judged by men. I speak of a time which is still a long way ahead of
The social progress already made leaves much still to be desired, but it would be unjust towards modern
society not to recognise a certain amount of progress in the restrictions which, among the most advanced
nations, have been successively applied to capital punishment, and to the crimes for which it is inflicted. If
we compare the safeguards with which the law, among those nations, surrounds the accused, and the
humanity with which he is treated even when found guilty, with the methods of criminal procedure that
obtained at a period not very remote from the present, we cannot fail to perceive that the human race is
really moving forwards on a path of progress.
761. The law of Preservation gives man the right to preserve his own life; does he not make
use of that same right when he cuts off a dangerous member from the social body?
"There are other means of preserving yourselves from a dangerous individual than killing
him; and besides, you ought to open the door of repentance for the criminal, and not to close
it against him."
762. If the penalty of death may be banished from civilised society, 'was it not a necessity in
times of less advancement?
"Necessity is not the right word. Man always thinks that a thing is necessary when he cannot
manage to find anything better, In proportion as he becomes enlightened, he understands
more clearly what is just or unjust, and repudiates the excesses committed, in times of
ignorance, in the name of justice."
763. Is the restriction of the number of the cases in which capital punishment is inflicted an
indication of progress in civilisation?
"Can you doubt its being so? Does not your mind revolt on reading the recital of the human
butcheries that were formerly perpetrated in the name of justice, and often in honour of the
divinity; of the tortures inflicted on the condemned, and even on the accused, in order to
wring from him, through the excess of his sufferings, the confession of a crime which. very
often, he had not committed ? Well, if you had lived in those times, you would have thought
all this very natural; and, had you been a judge, you would probably have done the same
yourself. It is thus that what seemed to be right at one period seems barbarous at another. The
divine laws alone are eternal; human laws change as progress advances; and they will change
again and again, until they have been brought into harmony with the laws of God."
764. Jesus said, "He that take the sword shall perish by the sword." Are not these words the
consecration of the principle of retaliation? and is not the penalty of death, inflicted on a
murderer, an application of this principle?
“Take care! You have mistaken the meaning of these words, as of many others. The only
righteous retaliation is the justice of God; because it is applied by Him. You are all, at every
moment, undergoing this retaliation, for you are punished in that wherein you have sinned, in
this life or in another one. He who has caused his fellow-men to suffer will be placed in a
situation in which he himself will suffer what he caused them to endure. This is the true
meaning of the words of Jesus; for has He not also said to you, 'Forgive your enemies,' and
has He not taught you to pray that God may forgive you your trespasses as you forgive those
who have trespassed against you, that is to say, exactly in proportion as you have forgiven?
Try to take in the full meaning of those words."
765. What is to be thought of the infliction of the penalty of death in the name of God?
"It is a usurpation of God's place in the administration of justice. Those who act thus show
how far they are from comprehending God, and how much they still have to expiate. Capital
punishment is a crime when applied in the name of God, and those who inflict it will have to
answer for it as for so many murders."
Necessity of Social Life.
766. Is social life founded in nature?
"Certainly; God has made man for living in society. It is not without a purpose that God has
given to man the faculty of speech and the other faculties necessary to the life of relation."
767. Is absolute isolation contrary to the law of nature?
"Yes, since man instinctively seeks society, and since all men are intended to help forward the
work of progress by aiding one another."
768. Does man, in seeking society, only yield to a personal feeling, or is there, in this feeling,
a wider providential end?
"Man must progress; he cannot do so alone, because, as he does not possess all faculties, he
needs the contact of other men. In isolation he becomes brutified and etiolated."
No man possesses the complete range of faculties. Through social union men complete one another, and
thus mutually secure their well-being and progress. It is because they need each other's help that they
have been formed for living In society, and not in isolation.
Life of Isolation.
769. We can understand that the taste for social life, as a general principle, should be
founded in nature, as are all other tastes; but why should a taste for absolute isolation be
regarded as blameable, if a man finds satisfaction in it?
"Such satisfaction can only be a selfish one. There are also men who find satisfaction in
getting drunk; do you approve of them ? A mode of life, by the adoption of which you
condemn yourselves not to be useful to any one, cannot be pleasing to God."
770. What is to be thought of those who live in absolute seclusion in order to escape the
pernicious contact of the world?
"The life of such persons is doubly selfish. In avoiding one evil, they fall into another, since
they forget the jaw of love and charity."
- But if such seclusion is undergone as an expiation, through the imposing on one's self of a
painful privation, is it not meritorious?
"The best of all expiations is to do a greater amount of good than you have done of evil."
771. What is to be thought of those who renounce the world in order to devote themselves to
the relief of the unfortunate?
"They raise themselves by their voluntary abasement. They have the double merit of placing
themselves above material enjoyments, and of doing good by fulfilling the law of labour."
- And those who seek in retirement the tranquillity required for certain kinds of labour?
"Those who live in retirement from such a motive are not selfish; they do not separate
themselves from society, since their labours are for the general good."
772. What is to be thought of the vow of silence prescribed by certain sects from the very
earliest times?
"You should rather ask yourselves whether speech is in nature, and why God has given it ?
God condemns the abuse, but not the use, of the faculties He has given. Silence, however, is
useful; for, in silence you have fuller possession of yourself; your spirit is freer, and can then
enter into more intimate communication with us; but a vow of silence is an absurdity. Those
who regard the undergoing of such voluntary privations as acts of virtue are prompted,
undoubtedly, by a good intention in submitting to them; but they make a mistake in so doing,
because they do not sufficiently understand the true laws of God."
The vow of silence, like the vow of isolation. deprives man of the social relations which alone can furnish
him with the opportunities of doing good, and of fulfilling the law of progress.
Family - Ties.
773. Why is it that, among the animals, parents and children forget each other, when the
latter no longer need the care of the former?
"The life of the animals is material life, but not moral life. The tenderness of the dam for her
young is prompted by the instinct
of preservation in regard to the beings born of her. When these beings are able to take care of
themselves, her task is done; nature asks no more of her, and she therefore abandons them in
order to busy herself with those that come afterwards."
774. Some persons have inferred, from the abandonment of the young of animals by their
parents, that the ties of family, among mankind, are merely a result of social customs, and
not a law of nature; what is to be thought of this inference?
"Man has another destiny than of the animals; why, then, should you always be trying!]g to
assimilate him to them ? There is, in man, something more than physical wants; there is the
necessity of progressing. Social ties are necessary to progress; and social ties are drawn closer
by family-ties. For this reason, family-ties are a law of nature. God has willed that men
should learn, through them, to love one another as brothers." (205.)
775. What would be the effect upon society of the relaxation of family-ties?
"A relapse into selfishness."
State of Nature.
776. Are the state of nature and the law of nature the same thing?
"No; the state of nature is the primitive state. Civilisation is incompatible with the state of
nature, while the law of nature contributes to the progress of the human race."
The "state of nature" is the infancy of the human race, and the starting point of its intellectual and moral
development. Man, being perfectible, and containing in himself the germ of his amelioration, is no more
destined to live for ever in the state of nature, than he is destined to live for ever in the state of infancy;
the state of nature is transitory, and man outgrows it through progress and civilisation. The "law of
nature," on the contrary, rules the human race throughout its entire career; and men improve in
proportion as they comprehend this law more clearly, and conform their action more closely to its
777. Man, in the state of nature, having fewer wants, escapes many of the tribulations he
creates for himself in a state of greater advancement. What is to be thought of the opinion of
those who regard the former state as being that of the most perfect felicity obtainable upon
the earth?
"Such felicity is that of the brute; but there are persons who understand no other, It is being
happy after the fashion of the brutes. Children, too, are happier than grown-up people."
778. Could mankind retrograde towards the slate of nature?
"No; mankind must progress unceasingly, and cannot return to the state of infancy. If men
have to progress, it is because God so wills it; to suppose that they could retrograde towards
the primitive condition would be to deny the law of progress."
March of Progress.
779. Does man contain in himself the force that impels him onward in the path of progress,
or is his progress only the product of instruction?
"Man is developed of himself, naturally. But all men do not progress at the same rate, nor in
the same manner; and it is thus that most advances are made to help forward the others,
through social contact."
780. Does moral progress always follow intellectual progress?
"It is a consequence of the latter, but does not always follow it immediately." (192-365.)
- How can intellectual progress lead to moral progress?
"By making man comprehend good and evil; he can then choose between them. The
development of free-will follows the development of the intelligence and increases the
responsibility of human action."
- How comes it, then, that the most enlightened nations are often the most perverted?
"Complete and integral progress is the aim of existence; but nations, like individuals, only
leach it step by step. Until the moral sense is developed in them, they may even employ their
intelligence in doing evil. Moral sense and intellect are two forces which only arrive at
equilibrium in the long run." (365-751.)
781. Has man the power of arresting the march of progress?
"No; but he has sometimes that of hindering it."
- What is to be thought of the men 'who attempt to arrest the march of progress, and to make
the human race go backwards?
"They are wretched weaklings whom God will chastise; they will be overthrown by the
torrent they have tried to arrest."
Progress being a condition of human nature, it is not in the power of any one to prevent it. It is a living
force that bad laws may hamper, but not stifle. When these laws become incompatible with progress,
progress breaks them down with all those who attempt to hold them up and it will continue to do so until
man has brought his laws into harmony with the divine justice which wills the good of all, and the
abolition of all laws that are made for the strong, and against the weak.
782. Are there not men who honestly obstruct progress while believing themselves to be
helping it forward, because, judging the matter from their own point of view, they often
regard as "progress" what is not really such?
"Yes; there are persons who push their little pebbles under the great wheel; but they will not
keep it from going on."
783. Does the improvement of the human race always proceed by slow progression?
"There is the regular slow progress that inevitably results from the force of things; but, when
a people does not advance quickly enough, God also prepares for it, from time to time, a
physical or moral shock that hastens its transformation."
Man cannot remain perpetually in ignorance, because he must reach the goal marked out for him by
Providence; he is gradually enlightened by the force of things. Moral revolutions, like social revolutions,
are prepared, little by little, in the ideas of a people; they go on germinating for centuries, and at length
suddenly burst forth, overthrowing the crumbling edifice of the past, which is no longer in harmony with
the new wants and new aspirations of the day.
Man often perceives, in these public commotions, only the momentary disorder and confusion that affect
him in his material interests ; but he who raises his thoughts above his own personality admires the
providential working which brings good out of evil. Such commotions are the tempest and the storm that
purify the atmosphere after having disturbed it.
784. Man's perversity is very great; does he not seem to be going back instead of advancing,
at least, as regards morality?
“You are mistaken. look at the human race as a whole, and you will see that it is advancing;
for it has arrived at a clearer perception of what is evil, and every day witnesses the reform of
some abuse. The excess of evil is required to show you the necessity of good and of reforms'."
785. What is the greatest obstacle to progress?
"Pride and selfishness. I refer to moral progress; for intellectual progress is always going on,
and would even seem, at the first glance, to give redoubled activity to those vices, by
developing ambition and the love of riches, which, however, in their turn, stimulate man to
the researches that enlighten his mind, for it is thus that all things are linked together, in the
moral world as in the physical world, and that good is brought even out of evil; but this state
of things will only last for a time, and will change, as men become aware of that, beyond the
circle of terrestrial enjoyments, there is a happiness infinitely greater and infinitely more
lasting." (See Selfishness, chap. xii.)
There are two kinds of progress, that mutually aid one another, and yet do not proceed side by sideintellectual
progress, and moral progress. Among civilised peoples the first is receiving, at the present
day, abundant encouragement; and it has accordingly reached a degree of advancement unknown to past
ages. The second is very far from having reached the same point; although, if we compare the social
usages of periods separated by a few centuries, we are compelled to admit that progress has also been
made in this direction. Why then should the ascensional movement stop short in the region of morality
any more than of intelligence? Why should there not be as great a difference between the morality of the
nineteenth and the twenty-fourth centuries as between that of the fourteenth and the
nineteenth? To doubt of the continuity of moral progress would be to assume either that the human race
reached the summit of perfection, which would be absurd, or that it is not morally perfectible, which is
disproved by experience.
Degenerate Peoples.
786. History shows us many peoples who, after having been subjected to shocks that have
overthrown their nationality, have relapsed into barbarism. What Progress has there been
made in such cases.?
"When your house threatens to fall about your ears, you pull it down, in order to build
another, stronger and more commodious; but, until the latter is built, there is trouble and
confusion in your dwelling.
"Comprehend this also: you are poor and live in a hovel; you become rich, and quit the hovel
to live in a palace. Then comes a poor devil, such as you formerly were, and takes possession
of the hovel you have quitted; and he is a gainer by the move, for he was previously
altogether without shelter. Learn from this that the spirits now incarnated in the people that
you call 'degenerate' are not those who composed that people in the time ~f its splendour;
those spirits, being of advanced degree, have gone to reside in nobler habitations, and have
progressed, while others less advanced have taken their vacated places, which they too will
vacate in their turn."
787. Are there not races that, by their nature, are incapable of progress?
"Yes, but they are day by day becoming annihilated corporeally."
- What will be the future fate of the souls that animate those races?
"They, like all others, will arrive at perfection by passing through other existences. God
deprives no one of the general heritage."
- The most civilised men may, then, have been savages and cannibals?
"You, yourself, have been such, more than once, before becoming what you now are."
788. The various peoples are collective individualities, that pass, like individuals, through
infancy, manhood, and decrepitude. Does not this truth, attested by history, seem to imply
that the most advanced peoples of this century will have their decline and their end, like those
of antiquity?
"Those peoples that only live the life of the body, those whose greatness is founded only upon
physical force and territorial extension, are born, grow, and die, because the strength of a
people becomes exhausted like that of a man; those whose selfish laws are opposed to the
progress of enlightenment and of charity die, because light kills darkness, and charity kills
selfishness. But there is for nations, as for individuals, the life of the soul; and those whose
laws are in harmony with the eternal laws of the Creator will continue to live, and will be the
guiding-torch of the other nations."
789. Will progress ultimately unite all the peoples of the earth into a single nation?
"No, not into a single nation; that is impossible, because the diversities of climate give rise to
diversities of habits and of needs that constitute diverse nationalities, each of which will
always need laws appropriate to is special habits and needs. But charity know nothing of
latitudes, and makes no distinction between the various shades of human colour; and when
the law of God shall be every-where the basis of human law, the law of charity will be
practised between nation and nation as between man and man, and all will then live in peace
and happiness, because no one will attempt to wrong his neighbour, or to live at his expense."
The human race progresses through the progress of individuals, who gradually become enlightened and
improved, and who, when they constitute a majority, obtain the upper hand, and draw the rest forward.
Men of genius arise from time to time and give an impulse to the work of advancement; and men having
authority, instruments of God, effect in the course of a few years what the race, left to itself, would have
taken several centuries to accomplish.
The progress of nations renders still more evident the justice of rein-carnation. Through the efforts of its
best men, a nation is made to advance intellectually and morally; and the nation thus advanced is happier
both in this world and in the next. But during its slow passage through successive centuries, thousands of
its people have died every day. what will be the fate of those who have thus fallen on the way? Does their
relative inferiority deprive them of the happiness reserved for those who came later? Or will their
happiness be always proportioned to that inferiority? The divine justice could not permit so palpable an
injustice. Through the plurality of existences, the same degree of happiness is obtainable by all, for no one
is excluded from the heritage of progress. Those who have lived in a period of barbarism, come back in a
period of civilisation among the same people or among another one; and all are thus enabled to profit by
the ascensional movement of the various nations of the earth, from the benefits of which movement they
are excluded by the theory which assumes that there is only a single life for each individual.
Another difficulty presented by the theory referred to may be conveniently examined in this place.
According to that theory, the soul is crested at the same time as the body; so that, as some men are more
advanced than others, it follows that God creates for some men souls more advanced than the souls He
creates for other men. But why this favouritism? How can one man, who has lived no longer than another
man, often not so long,
have merited to be thus endowed with a soul of a quality superior to that of the soul which has been given
to that other man?
But the theory of the unity of existence presents a still graver difficulty. A nation, in the course of a
thousand years, passes from barbarism to civilisation. If all men lived a thousand years, we could
understand that. in this period, they would have the time to progress; but many die every day, at all ages,
and the people of the earth are incessantly renewed, so that every day we see them appear and disappear.
Thus, at the end of a thousand years, no trace remains in any country of those who were living in it a
thousand years before. The nation, from the State of barbarism in which it was, has become civilised-but
what is it that has thus progressed? Is it the people who were formerly barbarian? But they died long ago.
Is it the newcomers? But if the soul is created at the same time with the body, it follows that their souls
were not in existence during the period of barbarism; and we should therefore be compelled to admit that
the efforts made to civilise a people have the power, net to work out the improvement of souls that are
created imperfect, but to make God create souls of a better quality than these which He created a
thousand years before.
Let us compare this theory of progress with the one now given by spirits. The souls that come into a
nation in its period of civilisation have had their infancy, like all the others, but they have lived already,
and have brought with them the advancement resulting from progress previously made; they come into it,
attracted by a State of things with which they are in sympathy, and which is suited to their present degree
of advancement, so that the effect of the efforts to civilise a people is not to cause the future creation of
souls of a better quality, but to attract to that people souls that have already progressed, whether they
have already lived among that people, or whether they have lived elsewhere. And the progress
accomplished by each people, when thus explained, furnishes also the key to the progress of the human
race in its entirety, by showing that when all the peoples of the earth shall have reached the same level of
moral advancement, the earth will be the resort of good Spirits only, who will live together in fraternal
union, and all the bad spirits who flow infest it, finding themselves out of place among the others, and
repelled by them, will go away, and will seek in lower worlds the surroundings that suit them, until they
have rendered themselves worthy of coming back into our transformed and happier world. The theory
commonly received leads also to this other consequence, viz.. that the labour of social amelioration is
profitable only to present and future generations; its result is null for the generations of the past, who
made the mistake of coming into the world too Soon, and who have to get on as they can, weighted as they
are through the faults of their barbarian epoch. According to the, doctrine now set forth by spirits, the
progress accomplished by later generations is equally beneficial to the generations that preceded them,
and who, r'-living upon the earth under improved conditions, are thus enabled to improve themselves in
the focus of civilisation. (222.)
790. Is civilisation a progress, or, according to some philosophers, a decadence, of the
human race?
"A progress, but incomplete. Mankind does not pass suddenly from infancy to the age of
- Is it reasonable to condemn civilisation?
"You should condemn those who misuse it, rather than condemn the work of God."
791. Will civilisation be eventually purified, so that the evils caused by it will disappear?
"Yes, when man's moral nature shall be as fully developed as his intelligence. The fruit
cannot come before the flower."
792. Why does not civilisation produce at once all the good it is capable of producing?
"Because men are not as yet either ready or disposed to obtain that good."
- May it not be also because in creating new wants it excites new passions?
"Yes, and because all the faculties of a spirit do not progress together; everything takes time.
You cannot expect perfect fruit from a civilisation that is still incomplete." (751-780.)
793. By what signs shall we know when a civilisation has reached its apogee?
"You will know it by its moral development. You believe yourselves to be considerably
advanced, because you have made great discoveries and wonderful inventions, because you
are better lodged and better clothed than the savages; but you will only have the right to call
yourselves 'civilised' when you have banished from your society the vices that dishonour it,
and when you live among yourselves like brothers, practising Christian charity. Until then,
you are merely enlightened nations, having traversed only the first phase of civilisation"
Civilisation has its degrees like everything else. An incomplete civilisation is a state of transition which
engenders special evils unknown to the primitive state; but it none the less constitutes a natural and
necessary progress. which brings with it the remedy for the evils it occasions. In proportion as civilisation
becomes perfected. it puts an end to the ills it has engendered, and these ills disappear altogether with the
advance of moral progress.
Of two nations which have reached the summit of the social scale, that one may be called the most
advanced in which is found the smallest amount of selfishness, cupidity, and pride: in which the habits are
more moral and intellectual than material; in which intelligence can develop Itself most freely; in which
there is the greatest amount of kindness, good faith, and reciprocal benevolence and generosity; in which
the prejudices of caste and of birth are the least rooted, for those prejudices are incompatible with the
true love of the neighbour; in which tree laws sanction no privilege, and are the same for the lowest as for
the highest; in which justice is administered with the least amount of partiality; in which the weak always
finds support against the strong; in which human life, beliefs, and opinions are most respected; in which
there is the smallest number of the poor and the unhappy; and, finally, in which every man who is willing
to work is always sure of the necessaries of life.
Progress of Human Legislation.
794. Would the laws of nature be sufficient for the regulation of human society, without the
help of human laws?
"If the laws of nature were properly understood, and if men were willing to practise them,
they would be sufficient. But society has its exigencies, and requires the co-operation of
special laws."
795. What is the cause of the instability of human laws?
"In times of barbarism the laws were made by the strongest, who framed them to their own
advantage. It has therefore become necessary to modify them, as men have acquired a clearer
comprehension of justice. Human laws will become more stable in proportion as they
approach the standard of true justice; that is to say, in proportion as they are made for all, and
become identified with natural law."
Civilisation has created for man new wants, and these wants are relative to the social state he has made
for himself. He has found It necessary to regulate by human laws the rights and duties appertaining to
this state but, influenced by his passions, he has often created rights and duties that are merely imaginary,
that are contrary to natural law, and that every nation effaces from its code in proportion as it
progresses. Natural law is immutable and the same for all; human law is variable and progressive; It
alone could consecrate, in the infancy of human societies, the right of the strongest.
796. Is not tile severity of penal legislation a necessity in the present state of society?
"A depraved state of society requires severe laws, but your laws, unhappily, aim rather at
punishing wrong doing when done, than at drying-up the fountain-head of wrong doing. It is
only education that can reform mankind; when that is done, you will no longer require laws of
the same severity."
797. How can the reform of human laws be brought about?
"It will be brought about by the force of things, and by the influence of the men of greater
advancement who lead the world onward in the path of progress. It has already reformed
many abuses, and it will reform many more. Wait!"
Influence of Spiritism on Progress.
798. Will Spiritism become the general belief, or will its acceptance remain confined to the
"It will certainly become the general belief, and will mark a new era in the history of the
human race, because it belongs to the natural order of things, and because the time has come
for it to be ranked among the branches of human knowledge. It will nevertheless have to
withstand a good many violent attacks-attacks that will be prompted rather by interest than by
conviction, for
you must not lose sight of the fact that there are persons whose interest is to combat this
belief, some from self-conceit, others from worldly considerations; but its opponents, finding
themselves in a decreasing minority, will at length be obliged to rally to the general opinion,
on pain of rendering themselves ridiculous."
Ideas are only transformed in the long run, never suddenly. Erroneous ideas become weakened in the
course of successive generations, and finish by disappearing, little by little, with those who professed
them, and who are replaced by other individuals imbued with new ideas, as is the case in regard to
political principles. Look at paganism: there is certainly no one, in our day, who professes the religious
ideas of pagan times; and yet, for several centuries after the advent of Christianity, they left traces that
could only be effaced by the complete renovation of the races who held them. It will be the same with
Spiritism; it will make considerable progress, but there will remain, during two or three generations, a
leaven of incredulity that only time will be able to destroy. Nevertheless, its progress will be more rapid
than that of Christianity, because it is Christianity itself that opens the road for it. and furnishes its basis
and support. Christianity had to destroy; Spiritism has only to build up.
799. In what way can Spiritism contribute to progress?
"By destroying materialism, which is one of the sores of society, and thus making men
understand where their true interest lies. The future life being no longer veiled by doubt, men
will understand more clearly that they can insure the happiness of their future by their action
in the present life. By destroying the prejudices of sects, castes, and colours, it teaches men
the large solidarity that will, one day, unite them as brothers."
800. Is it not to be feared that Spiritism may fail to triumph over the carelessness of men and
their attachment to material things?
"To suppose that any cause could transform mankind as by enchantment would show a very
superficial knowledge of human nature. Ideas are modified little by little, according to the
differences of individual character, and several generations are needed for the complete
effacing of old habits. The transformation of mankind can therefore only be effected in the
course of time, gradually, and by the contagion of example. With each new generation, a part
of the veil is melted away; Spiritism is come to dissipate it entirely. But, meantime, if it
should do no more than cure a man of a single defect, it would have led him to take a step
forward, and would thus have done him great good, for the taking of this first step will render
all his subsequent steps easier.”
801. Why have not spirits taught, from the earliest times, what they are teaching at the
present day?
"You do not teach to children what you teach to adults, and you do not give to a new-born
babe the food which he could not digest; there is a time for all things. Spirits have taught
many things that men have not understood or have perverted, but that they are now capable of
understanding aright. Through their teaching in the past, however incomplete, they have
prepared the ground to receive the seed which is now about to fructify."
802. Since Spiritism is to mark a progress on the part of tile human race, why do not spirits
hasten this progress by manifestations so general and so patent as to carry conviction to the
most incredulous?
"You are always wanting miracles; but God sows miracles by handfuls under your feet, and
yet you still have men who deny their existence. Did Christ Himself convince His
contemporaries by the prodigies He accomplished? Do you not see men, at this day, denying
the most evident of facts, though occurring under their very eyes? Have you not among you
some who say that they would not believe, even though they saw? No; it is not by prodigies
that God wills to bring men back to the truth; He wills, in His goodness, to leave to them the
merit of convincing themselves through the exercise of their reason."
Natural Equality
803. Are all men equal in the sight of God?
"Yes, all tend towards the same goal; and God has made His laws for the equal good of all.
You often say, 'The sun shines for all;' and, in saying this, you enunciate a truth much
broader, and of more general application, than you think."
All men are subjected to the action of the same natural laws. All are born in the same state of weakness,
and are subject to the same sufferings; and the body of the rich is destroyed like that of the poor. God has
not given to any man any natural superiority in regard either to birth or to death all are equal in His
Inequality of Aptitudes.
804. Why has God not given the same aptitudes to all men?
"All spirits have been created equal by God; but some of them have lived more, and others
less, and have consequently acquired more or less development in their past existences. The
difference between them lies in their various degrees of experience, and in the training of
their will, which constitutes their freedom, and in virtue of which some improve themselves
more rapidly; hence the diversity of aptitudes that you see around you. This medley of
aptitudes is necessary, in order that every man may concur in working out the designs of
Providence, within the limits of the development of his physical and intellectual strength.
What one cannot do, another does; and thus each contributes his share of usefulness to the
general work. Besides, all the words of the universe being united by solidarity, it is necessary
that the inhabitants of the higher worlds, most of which were created
before yours, should come and dwell in it, in order to set you an example."
805. Does a spirit, in passing from a higher world to a lower one, preserve, in their integrity,
the faculties he had previously acquired?
"Yes; we have already told you that a spirit who has progressed cannot again fall back. He
may choose, in his spirit-state, a corporeal envelope more benumbing, or a position more
precarious, than those he quits; but all this is so combined as to teach him some new lesson,
and thus to aid his future progress."
The diversity of human aptitudes is thus seen to be the result, not of any diversity in the creation of men,
but of the various degrees of advancement attained to by the spirits who are incarnated in them. God,
then, has not created the inequality of human faculties, but He has permitted spirits of different degrees
of development to be thus brought into contact with each other, in order that the more forward may aid
the more backward, and also in order that all men, having need of one another's help, may arrive at the
practical comprehension of the law of charity that is destined to unite them.
Social Inequalities.
806. Is the inequality of social conditions a law of nature?
"No; it is the work of man, not of God."
- Will this inequality eventually disappear?
"Nothing is eternal but the laws of God. Do you not see that it is being effaced, little by little,
every day? Your present inequalities will disappear with the disappearance of pride and
selfishness; the only inequality that will remain is that of desert A day will come when the
members of the great family of God will no longer regard themselves as being of blood more
or less pure; they will know that it is only the spirit that is more or less pure, and that this
does not depend on social position."
807. What is to be thought of those who abuse the superiority of their social position by
oppressing the weak to their own profit?
"They deserve to be anathematised! Sad will he their fate; for they will be oppressed in their
turn, and they will be re-born into an existence in which they will endure all that they have
caused to be endured." (684.)
Inequality of Riches.
808. Is not the inequality of riches a result of the inequality of faculties, which gives to some
persons more means of acquiring than are possessed by others?
"Yes, and no. And knavery and robbery ? What do you say of them?"
- But hereditary riches are not the fruit of evil passions?
"How do you know that ? Go back to their source, and you will see whether it is always pure.
How do you know whether they were not, in the beginning, the fruit of a spoliation or an
injustice ? But, without speaking of their origin, which may have been bad, do you think that
the hankering after wealth, even when most honestly acquired, the secret longings to possess
it more quickly, are laudable sentiments? These are what God judges; and His judgement is
often more severe than that of men."
809. If a fortune has been ill-gotten in the beginning, are those who subsequently inherit it
responsible for this?
"Most certainly they are not responsible for the wrong that may have been done by others, and
of which they may be altogether ignorant; but you must understand that a fortune is often sent
to such and such an individual for the sole purpose of giving him the opportunity of repairing
an injustice. Happy for him if he comprehends this! If he does it in the name of him who
committed the injustice, the reparation will be counted to both of them; for it is often the
latter who has endeavoured to bring it about."
810. We may, without infringing legality, dispose of property more or less equitably Are we
held responsible, after death, for the disposition we have made of it?
"Every seed bears its fruit; the fruit of good deeds is sweet that of others is always bitter;
always-remember that."
811. Is an absolute equality of riches possible? and has it ever existed?
"No, it is not possible. The diversity of faculties and characters is opposed to it."
- There are men, nevertheless, who believe it to be the remedy for all the ills of society. What
do you think of them?
"They are framers of systems, or moved by ambition and jealousy; they do not understand
that the equality they dream of would be speedily broken up by the force of things. Combat
selfishness, for that is your social pest; and do not run after chimeras."
812. If equality of riches be not possible, is it the same in regard to well-being?
"No; but well-being is relative, and every one might enjoy it if men had arrived at a good
understanding among themselves. For true well-being consists in employing one's time
according to one's bent, and not in work for which one has no liking; and as each has different
aptitudes, no useful work would be left undone Equilibrium exists in everything; it is man
who disturbs it."
- Is it possible to arrive at this mutual understanding?
"Men will arrive at it when they practise the law of justice."
813. There are men who fall into destitution and misery through their own fault; surely
society is not responsible in such cases?
"Yes; we have already said that society is often the primary cause of such failures; and
besides, is it not the duty of society to watch over the moral education of all its members ?
Society often perverts their judgement through a bad education, instead of correcting their
evil tendencies." (685.)
Trials of Riches an of Poverty
814. Why has Cod given wealth and power to some, and poverty to others?
"In order to try them in different ways. Moreover, as you know, it is the spirits themselves
who have selected those trials, under which they often succumb."
815. Which of the two kinds of trial, poverty or riches, is the most to be dreaded by man?
"They are equally dangerous. Poverty excites murmurings against Providence; riches excite to
all kinds of excesses."
816. If the rich man has more temptations to evil, has he not also more ample means of doing
"That is precisely what he does not always do. He often becomes selfish, proud, and
insatiable. His wants increase with his fortune, and he never thinks he has enough, even for
Worldly grandeur, and authority over our fellow-creatures, are trials as great and as slippery as
misfortune: for the richer and more powerful we are, the more obligations we have to fulfil, and the
greater are our means of doing both good and evil. God tries the poor through resignation, and the rich
through the use he makes, of his wealth and power.
Riches and power give birth to all the passions that attach us to matter, and keep us at a distance from
spiritual perfection: this is why Jesus said that it is casier for a camel to pass through the needle's eye
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. (266.)
Equality of Rights of Men and of Women.
817. Are men and women equal in the sight of God, and have they the same rights?
"Has not God given to them both the knowledge of good and evil, and the faculty of
818. Whence comes the moral inferiority of women in some countries?
"From the cruel and unjust supremacy which man has usurped over her. It is a result of social
institutions, and of the abusive exercise of strength over weakness. Among men but little
advanced morally, might is mistaken for right."
819. For what purpose is woman physically weaker than man?
"In order that to her may be assigned certain special functions. Man is made for rough work,
as being the stronger; woman, for gentler occupations; and both are differenced that they may
aid each other in passing through the trials of a life full of bitterness."
820. Does not woman's physical weakness make her naturally dcpendent on man?
"God has given strength to the one sex in order that it may protect the other, but not to reduce
it to servitude."
God has fitted the organisation of each being for the functions which it has to discharge. If God has given
less physical strength to woman, He has, at the same time. endowed her with a greater amount of
sensibility, in harmony with the delicacy of the maternal functions and the weakness of the beings
confided to her care.
821. Are the functions to which woman is destined by nature. as important as those which are
allotted to man?
"Yes, and still more important; for it is she who gives him his first notions of life
822. All men being equals according to the law of God, ought they also to be such according
to the law of men?
"Such equality is the very first principle of justice. Do not unto others what you would not
that others should do unto you."
- In order to be perfectly just, ought legislation to proclaim an equality of rights between men
and women?
"Equality of rights, yes, but not of functions. Each should have a specified place. Let man
busy himself with the outer side of life, and woman with its inner side; each sex according to
its special aptitude. Human law, in order to be just, should proclaim the equality of rights of
men and women. Every privilege accorded to either sex is contrary to justice. The
emancipation of woman follows the progress of civilisation; her subjection is a condition of
barbarism. The sexes, moreover, exist only through the physical organisation. Since spirits
can assume that of either
sex, there is no difference between them in this respect, and them ought consequently to enjoy
the same rights."
Equality in Death.
823. Whence comes the desire of perpetuating one's memory by means of funeral
"It is the last act of pride."
- But is not the sumptuousness of funeral monuments more frequently due to the action of
relatives desirous to honour the memory of the defunct, than to the defunct himself?
"In such cases it is an act of pride on the part of relatives who desire to glorify themselves; for
assuredly it is not always for the one who is dead that all these demonstrations are made, but
rather to gratify their own vanity by making an impression on others, and to parade their
wealth. Do you imagine that the remembrance of their loved ones is less durable in the hearts
of the poor, because the latter have no flowers to lay upon their graves ? Do you imagine that
marble can save from oblivion the name of him who has led a useless life upon the earth?"
824. Is funeral pomp blameable under all circumstances?
"No; when displayed in honour of a noble life, it is just, and conveys a useful lessen."
The grave is the place of; meeting for all men-the inevitable end of all human distinctions. It is in vain
that the rich man seeks to perpetuate his memory by stately monuments; time will destroy them like his
body nature has so willed it. The remembrance of his deeds, whether good Or bad, will be less perishable
than his tomb; the pomp of his funeral will neither cleanse away his turpitudes nor raise him a single step
on the ladder of the spirit-hierarchy. (320 et seq.)
Natural Liberty
825. Are there any positions in life in which a man may flatter himself that he enjoys absolute
"No, because all of you, the greatest as well as the least, have need of one another."
826. In what condition of life could a man enjoy absolute freedom?
"That of a hermit in a desert. As soon as two men find themselves together, they have
reciprocal rights and duties to respect, and are, therefore, no longer absolutely free."
827. Does the duty of respecting the rights of others deprive a man of the right of belonging
to himself?
"In nowise; for he holds that right from nature."
828. How can we reconcile the liberal opinions professed by some persons with the
despotism they themselves sometimes exercise in their own houses, and among their
"Their intelligence is aware of the law of nature, but this perception is counterbalanced by
their pride and selfishness. When their profession of liberal principles is not hypocrisy, they
know what ought to be done, but do it not."
- Will their profession of liberal principles, in the earthly life, be of any avail to such persons
in the other life?
"The more clearly a principle is understood by the intellect, the more inexcusable is the
neglect to put it into practice. He who is sincere, though simple, is farther advanced on the
divine road than he who tries to appear what he is not."
829. Are any men intended by nature to be the property of other men?
"The absolute subjection of any man to another man is contrary to the law of God. Slavery is
an abuse of strength; it disappears with progress, gradually, as all other abuses will
The human law which sanctions slavery is a law against nature, because it assimilates man to the brute,
and degrades him physically and morally.
830. When slavery is already established in the habits of a people, are those who profit by
that institution to blame for conforming to a usage which appears to them to be natural?
"What is wrong is always wrong, and no amount of sophistry can change a bad deed into a
good one; but the responsibility of wrong-doing is always proportional to the means of
comprehending it possessed by the wrong-doer. He who profits by the institution of slavery is
always guilty of a violation of natural law; but in this, as in everything else. the guilt is
relative. Slavery having become rooted in the habits of certain peoples, men may have taken
advantage of it without seeing it to be wrong, and as something which appeared to them
altogether natural; but when their reason, more developed and enlightened by the teachings of
Christianity, has shown them that their slave is their equal in the sight of God, they are no
longer excusable."
831. Does not the inequality of natural aptitudes place some of the human races under the
sway of other races of greater intelligence?
"Yes, in order that the latter may raise them to a higher level, but not that they may brutify
them still more by slavery. Men have too long regarded certain human races as workinganimals
furnished with arms and hands, which they have believed themselves to have the
right of using and selling like beasts of burden. They fancy themselves to be of purer blood;
fools, who see only matter! It is not the blood that is more or less pure, but only the spirit."
832. There are men who treat their slaves humanely, who let them want for nothing, and who
think that freedom would expose them to greater privations; what do you say of such
"I say that they have a better understanding of their own interests than those who treat them
cruelly; they take the same care of their cattle and horses, in order to get a better price for
them at market. They are not so guilty as those who treat them badly, but they none the less
treat them as merchandise, by depriving them of the right of belonging to themselves."
Freedom of Thought.
833. Is there in man something that escapes constraint, and in regard to which he enjoys
absolute liberty?
"Yes, in his thought man enjoys unlimited freedom, for thought knows no obstacles. The
action of thought may be hindered, but not annihilated."
834. Is man responsible for his thoughts?
"He is responsible for them to God. God alone can take cognisance of thought, and condemns
or absolves it according to His justice."
Freedom of Conscience.
835. Is freedom of conscience the natural consequence of freedom of thought?
"Conscience is an inner thought that belongs to man, like all his other thoughts."
836. Has man tile right to set up barriers against freedom of conscience?
"No more than against freedom of thought, for God alone has the right to judge the
conscience. If man, by his laws, regulates the relations between men and men, God, by the
laws of nature, regulates the relations between men and God."
837. What is the effect of the hindrances opposed to freedom of conscience?
"To constrain men to act otherwise than as they think, and thus to make hypocrites of them.
Freedom of conscience is one of the characteristics of true. civilisation and of progress."
838. Is every honest belief to be respected, even when completely false?
"Every belief is worthy of respect when it is sincere, and when it leads to the practice of
goodness. Blameable beliefs are those which lead to the practice of evil."
839. Is it wrong to scandalise those whose belief is not the same as our own?
"To do so is to fail in charity, and to infringe on freedom of thought."
840. Is it an infringement of the freedom of conscience to place hindrances in the way of
beliefs that are of a nature to cause social disturbance?
"You can only repress action; belief is inaccessible."
The repression of the external acts of a belief, when those acts are injurious to others is not an
infringement of the freedom of conscience, for such repression leaves the belief itself entirely free.
841. Ought we, out of respect for freedom of conscience, to allow of the propagation of
pernicious doctrines, or may we, without infringing upon that freedom, endeavour to bring
back into the path of truth those who are led astray by false principles?
"Most certainly you not only may, but should, do so; but only by following the example of
Jesus, by employing gentleness and persuasion, and not by resorting to force, which would be
worse than the false belief of those whom you desire to convince. Conviction cannot be
imposed by violence."
842. All doctrines claiming to be the sole expression of the truth, by what signs can we
recognise the one which has the best right to call itself such?
"The truest doctrine will be the one which makes the fewest hypocrites and the greatest
number of really virtuous people-that is to say, of people practising the law of charity in its
greatest purity and in its widest application. It is by this sign that you may recognise a
doctrine as true; for no doctrine, of which the tendency to make divisions and demarcations
among the children of God, can be anything but false and pernicious."
Free - Will
843. Has man freedom of action?
"Since he has freedom of thought, he has freedom of action. Without free-will man would be
a machine."
844. Does man posses freewill from his birth?
"He possesses free-will from the moment when lie possesses the will to act. In the earliest
portion of a lifetime free-will is almost null; it is developed and changes its object with the
development of the faculties. The child, having thoughts in harmony with the wants of his
age, applies his free-will to the things which belong to that age."
845. Are not the instinctive predispositions that a man brings with him at birth an obstacle to
the exercise of his free-will?
"A man's instinctive predispositions are those which belonged to his spirit before his
incarnation. If he is but little advanced, they may incite him to wrongdoing, in which he will
be seconded by spirits who sympathise with that wrong-doing; but no incitement is
irresistible when there is a determination to resist. remember that to will is to be able." (361.)
846. Has not our organism an influence on the acts of our life, and if so, does not this
influence constitute an infringement of our free-will?
"Spirits are certainly influenced by matter, which may hamper them in their manifestations.
This is why, in worlds in which the body is less gross than upon the earth, the faculties act
more freely; but the instrument does not give the faculty. In considering this question, you
must also distinguish between moral faculties and intellectual faculties. If a man has the
instinct of murder, it is assuredly his spirit that possesses this instinct, and not his organs. He
who annihilates his thought, in order to occupy himself only with matter, becomes like the
brute, and still worse, for he no longer endeavours to preserve himself from evil, and it is this
which constitutes his culpability, because he does so of his own free-will." (See No.367 et
seq., Influence of Organism.)
847. Does aberration of the mental faculties deprive man of free-will?
“He whose intelligence is deranged by any cause whatever is no longer master of his
thoughts, and thenceforth is no longer free. Mental aberration is often a punishment for the
spirit who, in another existence, has been vain or haughty, or has made a bad use of his
faculties. He may be re-born in the body of an idiot, as the despot may be re-born in the body
of a slave, and the hard-hearted possessor of riches, in that of a beggar; but the spirit suffers
from this constraint, of which he is fully conscious; and it is in this constraint that you see the
action of matter." (371 et seq.)
848. Is the aberration of the mental faculties produced by drunkenness an excuse for the
crimes committed in that state?
"No; for the drunkard has voluntarily deprived himself of his reason in order to satisfy his
brutish passions. He thus commits. not one crime, but two."
849. What is the dominant faculty of man in the savage state? Is it instinct or free-will?
"Instinct; which, however, does not prevent his acting with entire freedom in certain things;
but, like the child he uses his freedom for the satisfaction of his needs, and obtains its
development only through the development of his intelligence. Consequently, you, who are
more enlightened than the savage, are more blameable than a savage if you do wrong."
850. Does not social position sometimes place obstacles in the way of free action?
"Society has, undoubtedly, its exigencies. God is just, and takes everything into account; but
He will hold you responsible for any lack of effort on your part to surmount such obstacles."
851. Is there a fatality in the events of life, in the sense commonly attached to that word-that
is to say, are the events of life ordained beforehand, and, if so, what becomes of freewill?
"There is no other fatality than that which results from the determination of each spirit, on
incarnating himself, to undergo such and such trials. By choosing those trials he makes for
himself a sort of destiny which is the natural consequence of the situation in which he has
chosen to place himself. I speak now of physical trials only: for, as regards moral trials and
temptations, a spirit always preserves his freedom of choice between good and evil, and is
always able to yield or to resist. A good spirit, seeing (1 man hesitate, may come to his aid,
but cannot influence him to the extent of mastering his will. On the other hand, a bad spiritthat
is to say, a spirit of inferior advancement, may trouble or alarm him by suggesting
exaggerated apprehensions; but the will of the incarnated spirit retains, nevertheless, its entire
freedom of choice."
852. There are persons who seem to be pursued by a fatality independent of their own action.
Are not their misfortunes, in such cases, the result of predestination?
"They may be trials which those persons are compelled to undergo because they have been
chosen by them in the spirit-state; but you often set down to destiny what is only the consequence
of your own faults Try to keep a clear conscience, and you will be consoled for the
greater part of your afflictions.
The true or false view we take of the things about us causes us to succeed or to fail in our enterprises; but
it seems to us more easy, and less humiliating to our self-love, to attribute our failures to fate, or to
destiny, than to cur mistakes. If the influence of spirits sometimes contributes to our success, it is none the
less true that we can always free ourselves from their influence, by repelling the ideas they suggest when
they are calculated to mislead, us.
853. They are persons who escape one danger only to fall into another; it seems as though it
had been impossible for them to escape death. Is there not a fatality in such cases?
"There is nothing fatal, in the true meaning of the word, but the time of death. When that time
has come, no matter under what form death presents itself, you cannot escape it."
- If so, whatever danger may seem to threaten us, 'we shall not die if our hour has not come?
"No, you will not be allowed to die-and of this you have thousands of examples; but when
your hour has come, nothing can save you. God knows beforehand the manner in which each
of you will quit your present life, and this is often known also to your spirit; for it is revealed
to you when you make choice of such and such existence."
854. Does it follow, from the inevitability of the hour of death, that the precautions we take in
view of apparent danger are useless?
"No, for those precautions are suggested to you in order that you may avoid the dangers with
which you are threatened. They are one of the means employed by Providence to prevent
death from taking place prematurely."
855. What is the aim of providence in making us incur dangers that are to be without result?
"When your life is imperilled, it is a warning which you yourself have desired, in order to turn
you from evil, and to make you better. When you escape from such a peril, and while still
feeling the emotion excited by the danger you had incurred, you think, more or less seriously,
according to the degree in which you are influenced by the suggestions of good spirits, of
amending your ways. The bad spirit returning to his former post of temptation (I say bad, in
reference to the evil that is still in him), you flatter yourself that you will escape other dangers
in the same way, and you again give free scope to your passions. By the dangers you incur,
God reminds you of your weakness, and of the fragility of your existence. If you examine the
cause and the nature of the peril you have escaped, you will see that in many cases its
consequences would have been the punishment of some fault you have committed, or of some
duty you have neglected. God thus warns you to look into your hearts, and to pursue the work
of your self-amendment." (526-532.)
856. Does a spirit know beforehand the kind of death to which he will succumb in the earthly
"He knows that he has exposed himself by the life he has chosen to die in some particular
manner rather than in another; but he also foresees the efforts he will have to make in order to
avoid the danger, and he knows that, if God so permit, he will escape it."
857. There are men who brave the perils of the battlefield with the full persuasion that their
hour is not come; is there any foundation for such confidence?
"A man often has a presentiment of his end; he may, in the same way, have a presentiment
that his time for dying has not yet come. These presentiments are due to the action of his
spirit-protectors, who may 'wish to lead him to hold himself ready to go away, or to raise his
courage in moments when he has especial need of it. They may also come to him from the
intuition he has of the existence he has chosen, or of the mission he has accepted, and which
he knows, as a spirit, that he has to fulfil." (411-522.)
858. How is it that those 'who have a presentiment of their death generally dread it less than
"It is the man, and not spirit, who dreads death; he who has the presentiment of his death
thinks of it rather as a spirit than as a man. He understands that it will be a deliverance, and
awaits it calmly."
859. If death is inevitable when the time appointed for it has arrived, is it the same in regard
to all the accidents that may happen to us in the course of our life?
"They are often small enough to permit of our warning you against them, and sometimes of
enabling you to avoid them by the direction we give to your thoughts, for we do not like
physical suffering; but all this is of little importance to the life you have chosen. The true and
sole fatality consists in the hour at which you have to appear in, and disappear from, the
sphere of corporeal life."
- Are there incidents which must necessarily occur in a life, and that spirits will not avert?
"Yes, but those incidents you, in your spirit-state, foresaw when you made your choice. But,
nevertheless, you must not suppose that everything which happens to you was 'written,' as
people express it. An event is often the consequence of something you have done by an act of
your free-will, so that, had you not done that thing, the event would not have taken place. If
you burn your finger, it i~ not because such an incident was preordained, for it is a trifling
inconvenience resulting from your own carelessness, and a consequence of the laws of matter.
It is only the great sorrows, the events of serious importance and capable of influencing your
moral state, that are foreordained by God, because they will be useful to your purification and
860. Can a man, by his will and his efforts, prevent events that were to have occurred from
taking place, and vice-versa?
"He can do so if this seeming deviation is compatible with the life he has chosen. And, in
order to do good, which should be, and is, the sole end of life, he may prevent evil, especially
that which might contribute to a still greater evil."
861. Did the man who commits a murder know, in choosing his existence, that he would
become a murderer?
"No; he knew that, by choosing a life of struggle, he incurred the risk of killing one of his
fellow-creatures; but he did not know whether he would, or would not, do so; for there is,
almost always, deliberation in the murderer's mind before committing the crime, and he who
deliberates is, evidently, free to do or not to do. If a spirit knew beforehand that he would
commit a murder, it would imply that he was predestined to commit that crime. No one is
ever predestined to commit a crime; and every crime, like every other action, is always the
result of determination and free-will.
"You are all too apt to confound two things essentially distinct the events of material life, and
the acts of moral life. If there is, sometimes, a sort of fatality, it is only in those events of your
material life of which the cause is beyond your action, and independent of your will. A 5 to
the acts of the moral life, they always emanate from the man himself, who, consequently, has
always the freedom of choice; in those acts, therefore, there is never fatality."
862. There are persons who never succeed in anything, and who seem to be pursued by an
evil genius in all their undertakings; is there not, in such cases, something that may be called
a fatality?
"It is certainly a fatality, if you like to call it so, but it results from the choice of the kind of
existence made by those persons in the spirit-state, because they desired to exercise their
patience and resignation by a life of disappointment. But you must not suppose that this
fatality is absolute, for it is often the consequence of a man's having taken a wrong path, one
that is not adapted to his intelligence and aptitudes. He who tries to cross a river without
knowing how to swim stands a very good chance of drowning; and the same may be said in
regard to the greater part of the events of your life. If a man undertook only the things that are
in harmony with his faculties, he would almost always succeed. What causes his failure is his
conceit and ambition, which draw him out of his proper path, and make him mistake for a
vocation what is only a desire to satisfy those passions. He fails, and through his own fault;
but, instead of blaming himself, he prefers to accuse his 'star.' One who might have been a
good workman, and earned his bread honourably in that capacity, prefers to make bad poetry,
and dies of starvation. There would be a place for every one, if every one put himself in his
right place."
863. Do not social habits often oblige a man to follow one road rather than another, and is
not his choice of occupation often controlled by the opinion of those about him? Is not the
sentiment which leads us to attach a certain amount of importance to the judgement of others
an obstacle to the exercise of our free-will?
"Social habits are made, not by God, but by men; if men submit to them, it is because it suits
them to do so, and their submission is therefore an act of their free-will, since, if they wished
to enfranchise themselves from those habits, they could do so. Why, then, do they complain ?
It is not social habits that they should accuse, but their pride, which makes them prefer to
starve rather than to derogate from what they consider to be their dignity. Nobody thanks
them for this sacrifice to opinion, though God would take note of the sacrifice of their vanity.
We do not mean to say that you should brave public opinion unnecessarily, like certain
persons who possess more eccentricity than true philosophy: there is as much absurdity in
causing yourself to be pointed at as an oddity, or stared at as a curious animal, as there is
wisdom in
descending, voluntarily and unmurmuringly, when you are unable to maintain yourself at the
top of the social ladder."
864. If there are persons to whom fate is unpropitious, there are others who seem to be
favoured by fortune, for they succeed in everything they undertake. To what is this to be
"In many cases, to their skilful management of their affairs; but it may also be a species of
trial. People are often intoxicated by success; they put their trust in their destiny, and pay in
the curl for their former successes by severe reverses, which greater prudence would have
enabled them to avoid."
865. How can we account for the run of luck that sometimes favours people under
circumstances with which neither the will nor the intelligence have anything to do; in games
of hazard, for instance?
"Certain spirits have chosen beforehand certain sorts of pleasure, the luck that favours them is
a temptation. He who wins as a man often loses as a spirit; such kick is a trial for his vanity
and his cupidity."
866. The fatality which seems to shape our material destinies is, then, a result of our free
"You, yourself, have chosen your trial; the severer it is, and the better you bear it, the higher
you do raise yourself. Those who pass their lives in the selfish enjoyment of plenty and of
human happiness are cowardly spirits who remain stationary. Thus the number of those who
are unfortunate is much greater, in your world, than of those who are fortunate, because
spirits generally make choice of the trial that will be most useful to them. They see too clearly
the futility of your grandeurs and your enjoyments. Besides, the most fortunate life is always
more or less agitated, more or less troubled, if only by the absence of sorrow." (525 et seq.)
867. Whence conies the expressions "Born under a lucky star"?
"From an old superstition that connected the stars with the destiny of each human being-a
figure that some people are silly enough to take for literal truth."
868. Can the future be revealed to man?
"As a rule, the future is hidden from him; it is only in rare and exceptional cases that God
permits it to be revealed.
869. Why is the future hidden from man?
"If man knew the future, he would neglect the present, and would not act with the same
freedom, because he would be swayed by the thought that, if such and such a thing is to
happen, there is no need to occupy one's self about it; or else he would seek to prevent it. God
has willed that it should not be thus, in order that each may concur in the accomplishment of
the designs of Providence, even of those which he would desire to thwart; and thus you,
yourselves, often prepare the way, without your knowing it, for the events that will occur in
the course of your life."
870. Since it is useful that the future should be hidden, why does God sometimes permit it to
be revealed?
"Because in such cases this foreknowledge, instead of hindering the accomplishment of the
thing that is to be, will facilitate it, by inducing the person to whom it is revealed to act in a
different way from that in which he would otherwise have acted. And, besides, it is often a
trial. The prospect of an event may awaken thoughts more or less virtuous. If a man becomes
aware, for instance, that he will succeed to an inheritance which he had not expected, he may
be tempted by a feeling of cupidity, by elation at the prospect of adding to his earthly
pleasures, by a desire for the death of him to whose fortune he will succeed, in order that he
may obtain possession of it more speedily; or, on the other hand, this prospect may awaken in
him only good and generous thoughts. If the prediction be not fulfilled, it is another trial, viz.,
that of the way in which he will bear the disappointment; but he will none the less have
acquired the merit or the blame of the good or bad thoughts awakened in him by his
expectation of the event predicted."
871. Since God knows everything, He knows whether a 'nun will or will not fail in a given
trial; where then is the use of this trial, since it can show God nothing that He does not
already know in regard to that man?
"You might as well ask why God did not create man accomplished, perfect (119); or why man
has to pass through childhood before arriving at adult age (379). The aim of trial is not to
enlighten God in regard to man's deserts, for God knows exactly what they are, but to leave to
man the entire responsibility of his conduct, since he is free to do or not to do. Man having
fret choice between good and evil, trial serves to bring him under the
action of temptation, and thus to give him the merit of resistance, for God, though knowing
beforehand whether he will triumph or succumb, cannot, being just, either reward or punish
him other wise than according to the deeds he has done." (258.)
The same principle is practically admitted among men. Whatever may be the qualifications of a candidate
for any distinction, whatever may be our confidence of his success, no grade can be conferred on him
without his having undergone the prescribed examination-that is to say, without his desert having been
tested by trial, just as a judge only condemns the accused for the crime he has actually committed, and
not on the presumption that he could or would commit such crime.
The more we reflect on the consequences that would result from our knowledge of the future, the more
clearly do we see the wisdom of Providence in hiding it from us. The certainty of our future good fortune
would render us inactive that of coming misfortune would plunge us in discouragement in both cases our
activities would be paralysed. For this reason, the future is only shown to man as end which he is to attain
through his own efforts, but without knowing the sequence of events through which he will pass in
attaining it. The foreknowledge of all the incidents of his journey would deprive him of his initiative and
of the use of his freewill; he would let himself be drawn, passively, by the force of events, down the slope
of circumstances, without any exercise of his faculties. When the success of a matter Is certain, we no
longer busy ourselves about it.
Theoretic Summary of the Springs of Human Action.
872. The question of free-will may be thus summed up: Man is not fatally led into evil; the
acts he accomplishes are not written down beforehand; the crimes he commits are not the
result of any decree of destiny. He may have chosen, as trial and as expiation, an existence in
which, through the surroundings amidst which he is placed, or the circumstances that
supervene, he will be tempted to do wrong; but he always remains free to do or not to do.
Thus a spirit exercises free-will, in the spirit-life, by choosing his next existence and the kind
of trials to which it will subject him, and, in the corporeal life, by using his power of yielding
to, or resisting, the temptations to which he has voluntarily subjected himself. The duty of
education is to combat the evil tendencies brought by the spirit into his new existence duty
which it will only be able to thoroughly fulfil when it shall be based on a deeper and truer
knowledge of man's moral nature. Through knowledge of the laws of this department of his
nature education will be able to modify it, as it already modifies his intelligence by
instruction, and his temperament by hygiene. Each spirit, when freed from matter, and in the
state of erraticity, chooses his future corporeal existences according to the degree of
purification to which he has already attained; and it is in the power of making this choice, as
we have previously pointed out, that his free-will principally consists This free-will is not
annulled by incarnation,
for, if the incarnated spirit yields to the influence of matter, it is always to the very trials
previously chosen by him that he succumbs, and he is always free to invoke the assistance of
God and of good spirits to help him to surmount them. (337.)
Without free-will there would be for man neither guilt in doing wrong, nor merit in doing
right-a principle so fully recognised in this life, that the world always apportions its blame or
its praise of any deed to the intention-that is to say, to the will of the doer; and will is but
another term for freedom. Man, therefore, could hot seek an excuse for his misdeeds in his
organisation, without abdicating his reason and his condition as a human being, and
assimilating himself to the condition of the brute. If he could do so in regard to what is
wrong, he would have to do the same in regard to what is wrong, he would have to do the
same in regard to what is right; but, whenever a man does what is right. he takes good care to
claim the merit of his action, and never thinks of attributing that merit to his organs, which
proves that he instinctively refuses to renounce, at the bidding of certain theory-builders, the
most glorious privilege of his species, viz., freedom of thought.
Fatality, as commonly understood, supposes an anterior and irrevocable ordaining of all the
events of human life, whatever their degree of importance. If such were the order of things,
man would be a machine, without a will of his own. Of what use would his intelligence be to
him, seeing that he would be invariably overruled in all his acts by the power of destiny ?
Such pre-ordination, if it took place, would be the destruction of all moral freedom; there
would be no such thing as human responsibility, and consequently neither good nor evil,
neither virtues nor crimes. God, being sovereignly just, could not chastise His creatures for
faults which they had not the option of not committing, nor could He reward them for virtues
which would constitute for them no merit. It would be, moreover, the negation of the law of
progress; for, if man were thus dependent on fate, he would make no attempt to ameliorate
his position, since his action would be both unnecessary and unavailing.
On the other hand, fatality is not a mere empty word; it really exists in regard to the position
occupied by each man upon the earth and the part which he plays in it, as a consequence of
the kind of existence previously made choice of by his spirit, as trial, expiation, or mission,
for, in virtue of that choice, he is necessarily
subjected to the vicissitudes of the existence he has chosen, and to all the tendencies, good or
bad, inherent in it; but fatality ceases at this point, for it depends on his will to yield, or not to
yield, to those tendencies. The details of events are subordinated to the circumstances to
which man himself gives rise by his action, and in regard to which he may be influenced by
the good or bad thoughts suggested to him by spirits. (459.)
There is a fatality, then, in the events which occur independently of our action, because they
are the consequence of the choice of our existence made by our spirit in the other life; but
there can be no fatality in the results of those events, because we are often able to modify
their results by our own prudence. There is no fatality in regard to the acts of our moral life.
It is only in regard to his death that man is placed under the law of an absolute and inexorable
fatality; for he can neither evade the decree which has fixed the term of his existence, nor
avoid the kind of death which is destined to interrupt its course.¹
According to the common belief, man derives all his instincts from himself; they proceed
either from his physical organisation, for which he is not responsible, or from his own nature,
which would furnish him with an equally valid excuse for his imperfections, as, if such were
the case, he might justly plead that it is through no option of his own that he has been made
what he is.
The doctrine of Spiritism is evidently more moral. It admits the plenitude of man's free-will,
and, in telling him that, when he does wrong, he yields to an evil suggestion made by another
spirit, it leaves him the entire responsibility of his wrong-doing, because it recognises his
power of resisting that suggestion, which it is evidently more easy for him to do than it would
be to fight against his own nature. Thus, according to spiritist doctrine, no temptation is
irresistible. A man can always close his mental ear against the occult voice which addresses
itself to his inner consciousness, just as he can close it against a human voice. He can always
withdraw himself from the suggestions that would tempt him to evil, by exerting his will
against the tempter; asking of God, at the same time, to give him the necessary strength, and
calling on good spirits to help him in vanquishing the temptation.
This view of the exciting cause of human action is the natural consequence of the totality of
the teaching now being given from
¹In relation to suicide and its consequences, vide 957, and following commentaries.
the spirit-world. It is not only sublime in point of morality; it is also eminently fitted to
enhance man's self-respect. For it shows him that he is as free to shake off the yoke of an
oppressor, as lie is to close his house against unwelcome intrusion; that he is not a machine,
set in motion by an impulsion independent of his will; that he is a reasoning being, with the
power of listening to, weighing, and choosing freely between, two opposing counsels. Let us
add that, while thus counselled, man is not deprived of the initiative of his action; what he
does, he does of his own motion, because he is still a spirit, though incarnated in a corporeal
envelope, and still preserves, as a man, the good and bad qualities he possessed as a spirit.
The faults we commit have their original source, therefore, in the imperfection of our own
spirit, which has not yet acquired the moral excellence it will acquire in course of time, but
which, nevertheless, is in full possession of its free-will. Corporeal life is permitted to us for
the purpose of purging our spirit of its imperfections through the trials to which we are thus
subjected; and it is precisely those imperfections that weaken us and render us accessible to
the suggestions of other imperfect spirits, who take advantage of our weakness in trying to
make us fail in the fulfilment of the task we have imposed upon ourselves. If we issue
victorious from the struggle, our spirit attains a higher grade; if we fail, our spirit remains as
it was, no better and no worse, but with the unsuccessful attempt to be made over again: a
repetition of the same trial that may retard our advancement for a very long period. But, in
proportion as we effect our improvement, our weakness diminishes and we give less and less
handle to those who would tempt us to evil; and as our moral strength constantly increases,
bad spirits cease at length to act upon us.
The totality of spirits, good and bad, constitute by their in-carnation the human race; and as
our earth is one of the most backward worlds, more bad spirits than good ones are incarnated
in it, and a general perversity is visible among mankind. Let us, then, do our utmost not to
have to come back to it, but to merit admission into a world of higher degree; one of those
happier worlds in which goodness reigns supreme, and in which we shall remember our
sojourn in this lower world only as a period of exile.
Natural Rights and Justice.
873. Is the sentiment of justice natural, or the result of acquired ideas?
"It is so natural that your feeling spontaneously revolts at the idea of an injustice. Moral
progress undoubtedly develops this sentiment, but it does not create it. God has placed it in
the heart of man, and for this reason you often find, among simple and primitive people,
notions of justice more exact than those of others who are possessed of a larger amount of
874. If justice be a law of nature, how is it that men understand it so differently, and that the
same thing appears just to one, and unjust to another?
"It is because your passions often mingle with this sentiment and debase it, as they do with
the greater part of the natural sentiments, causing you to see things from a false point of view.
875. How should justice be defined?
"Justice consists in respect for the rights of others."
- What determines those rights?
"Two things: human law and natural law. Men having made laws in harmony with their
character and habits, those laws have established rights that have varied with the progress of
enlightenment. Your laws, at this day, though still far from perfect, no longer consecrate what
were considered as rights in the Middle Ages; those rights, which appear to you monstrous,
appeared just and natural at that epoch. The rights established by men are not, therefore,
always conformable with justice; moreover, they only regulate certain social relations, while
in private life there are an
immense number of acts that are submitted only to the tribunal of conscience."
876. Independently of the right established by human law, what is the basis of justice
according to natural law?
"Christ has told you: 'Do unto others whatsoever you would that others should do unto you.’
God has placed in the heart of man, as the true rule of all justice, the desire which each of you
feels to see his own rights respected. When uncertain as to what he should do in regard to his
fellow-creature in any given conjuncture, let each man ask himself what he would wish to
have done to him-self under the same circumstances; God could not give him a safer guide
than his own conscience."
The true criterion of justice is, in fact, to desire for others what one would desire for one's self; not merely
to desire for one's self what one would desire for others, which is not precisely the same thing. As it not
natural to desire harm for one's self, we are sure, in taking our personal desires as the type of our conduct
to wards our neighbours, never to desire anything but good for them. In ail ages and in all beliefs, man
has always sought to enforce his personal rights; the sublime peculiarity of the Christian religion is its
taking of personal right as the basis of the right of the neighbour.
877. Does the necessity of living in society impose any special obligations on mankind?
"Yes, and the first of these is to respect the rights of others; he who respects those rights will
always be just. In your world, where so many neglect to practise the law of justice, you have
recourse to reprisals, and this causes trouble and confusion in human society. Social life gives
rights and imposes corresponding duties."
878. It is possible for a man to be under an illusion as to the extent of his rights; what is there
that can show him their true limit?
"The limit of the right which he would recognise on the part of his neighbour towards himself
under similar circumstances, and vice-versa."
- But if each attributes to himself the rights of his fellow-creatures, what becomes of
subordination to superiors? Would not such a principle be anarchical and destructive of all
“Natural rights are the same for all men, from the smallest to the greatest; God has not
fashioned some men from a finer clay than others, and all are equals in His sight. Natural
rights are eternal; the rights which man has established perish with his institutions. But each
man feels distinctly his strength or his weak-
ness, and will always be conscious of a sort of deference towards him whose wisdom or
virtue entitles him to respect. It is important to mention this, in order that those who think
themselves superior may know what are the duties that will give them a right to deference.
There will be no insubordination when authority shall be attributed only to superior wisdom."
879. What would be the character of the man who should practise justice in all its purity?
"He would be truly righteous, after the example of Jesus; for he would practise the love of the
neighbour and charity, without which there can be no real justice."
Right of Property - Robbery.
880. Which is the first of all the natural rights of man?
"The right to live, and therefore no one has the right to take the life of his fellow-creature, or
to do anything that may compromise his personal existence."
881. Does the right to live give to man the right to amass the means of living, in order that he
may repose when no longer able to work?
"Yes but he should do this in concert with his family. like the bee, by honest labour, and not
by amassing in solitary selfishness. Certain animals, even, set man an example of this kind of
882. Has man the right to defend what he has amassed by his labours?
"Has not God said, 'Thou shalt not steal?' and did not Jesus say: 'Render unto Caesar the
things that are Caesar’s?'"
What a man has amassed by honest labour is a legitimate property that he has a right to defend for
possession of the property which is the fruit of labour is a natural right as sacred as the right to labour or
to live.
883. Is the desire to posses natural to man?
"Yes; but when it is simply for himself, and for his personal satisfaction, it is selfishness."
- But is not the desire to possess a legitimate one, since he who has enough to live upon is not
a burden to others?
"Some men are insatiable and accumulate without benefit to any one, merely to satisfy their
passions. Do you suppose that this can be pleasing to God? He, on the contrary, who amasses
through his labour, in order to have the means of assisting his
fellow-creatures, practises the law of love and of charity, and his labour receives the blessing
of God."
884. What is the characteristic of legitimate property?
"No property is legitimate unless acquired without injury to others." (808.)
The law of love and of justice, forbidding us to do to others what we would not that others should do to
us, implicitly condemns every means of acquiring which would be contrary to that law.
885. Is the right of property unlimited?
"Everything that has been legitimately acquired is undoubtedly a property; but, as we have
said, human legislation, being imperfect, frequently sets up conventional rights opposed to
natural justice. For this reason, men reform their laws in proportion as progress is
accomplished, and as they obtain a better notion of justice. What appears right in one century
appears barbarous in another." (795).
Charity and Love of the Neighbour.
886. What is the true meaning of the word charity as employed by Jesus?
"Benevolence for every one, indulgence for the imperfections of others, forgiveness of
Love and charity are the complement of the law of justice; for, to love our neighbour is to do him all the,
good in our power, all that we should wish to have done to ourselves.
Charity, according to Jesus, is not restricted to alms-giving, but embraces all our relations with our
fellow-men whether our inferiors, our equals, or our superiors. It prescribes indulgence on our part,
because we need the same ourselves; it forbids us to humiliate the unfortunate, as is too often done. How
many, who are ready to lavish respect and attentions on the rich, appear to think it not worth their while
to be civil to the poor; and yet, the more pitiable the situation of the latter, the more scrupulously should
we refrain from adding humiliation to misfortune. He who is really kind endeavours to raise his inferior
in his own estimation, by diminishing the distance between them.
887. Jesus has also said: Love your enemies. But would it not be contrary to our natural
tendencies to love our enemies, and does not unfriendliness proceed from a want of sympathy
between spirits?
"It would certainly be impossible for a man to feel tender and ardent affection for his
enemies; and Jesus did not intend to prescribe anything of the kind. To 'love your enemies'
means to forgive them, and to return good for evil. By so doing, you become their superior;
by vengeance, you place yourselves beneath them."
888. What is to be thought of alms-giving?
"To be reduced to beg degrades a man morally as well as physically; it brutifies him. In a state
of society based on the law of God and justice, provision would be made for assisting the
weak without humiliating. them; the means of living would be insured to all who are unable
to work, so as not to leave their life at the mercy of chance and of individual good-will."
- Do you blame alms-giving?
"No; it is not the giving of alms that is reprehensible, but the way in which it is too often
done. He who comprehends charity as inculcated by Jesus seeks out the needy, without
waiting for the latter to hold out his hand."
"True charity is always gentle as well as benevolent, for it consists as much in the manner of
doing a kindness as in the deed itself. A service, if delicately rendered, has a double value;
but if rendered with haughtiness, though want may compel its acceptance, the recipient's heart
is not touched by it.
"Remember, also, that ostentation destroys, in the sight of God, the merit of beneficence.
Jesus has said: 'Let not your left hand know what your right hand does;' teaching you, by this
injunction, not to tarnish charity by pride and vanity."
"You must distinguish between alms-giving, properly so-called, and beneficence. The most
necessitous is not always he who begs by the wayside. Many, who are really poor, are
restrained from begging by the dread of humiliation, and suffer silently and in secret: he who
is really humane seeks out this hidden misery, and relieves it without ostentation.
"'Love one another;' such is the divine law by which God governs all the worlds of the
universe. Love is the law of attraction for living and organised beings; attraction is the law of
love for inorganic matter."
"Never lose sight of the fact, that every spirit, whatever his degree of advancement, or his
situation in reincarnation or in erraticity, is always placed between a superior who guides and
improves him, and an inferior towards whom he has the same duties to fulfil. Be therefore
charitable; not merely by the cold bestowal of a coin on the mendicant who ventures to beg it
of you, but by seeking out the poverty that hides itself from view. Be indulgent for the defects
of those about you; instead of despising the ignorant and the vicious, instruct them, and make
them better; be gentle and benevolent to your inferiors; he the same for the
humblest creatures of the lower reigns; and you will have obeyed the law of God."
889. Are there not men who are reduced to beggary through their own fault?
"Undoubtedly there are; but if a sound moral education hadtaught them to practise the law of
God, they would not have fallen into the excesses which have caused their ruin. It is mainly
through the generalisation of such education that the improvement of your globe will be
ultimately accomplished." (707.)
Maternal and Filial Affection.
890. Is maternal affection a virtue, or is it an instinctive feeling common to men and to
"It is both. Nature has endowed the mother with the love of her offspring in order to ensure
their preservation. Among the animals, maternal affection is limited to the supply of their
material needs; it ceases when this care is no longer needed. In the human race, it lasts
throughout life, and assumes a character of unselfish devotion that raises it to the rank of a
virtue; it even survives death, and follows the career of the child from beyond the grave. You
see, therefore, that there is in this affection, as it exists in man, something more than as it
exists among the animals." (205-385.)
891. Since maternal affection is a natural sentiment, why is it that mothers often hate their
children, and even, in some cases, before their birth?
"The absence of maternal affection is sometimes a trial chosen by the spirit of the child, or an
expiation for him if he have been a bad father, a bad mother, or a bad son, in some previous
existence. In all cases, a bad mother can only be the incarnation of a bad spirit, who seeks to
throw obstacles in the path of the child, in order to make him succumb in the trial he has
chosen. But such a violation of the laws of nature will not remain unpunished, and the spirit
of the child will be rewarded for surmounting the obstacles thus thrown in his way."
892. When parents have children who cause them sorrow, are they not excusable for not
feeling for them the same tenderness they would have felt had their conduct been different?
"No; for the training of their children is a task that has been confided to them, and their
mission is to make every possible effort to bring them back into the right road. (582, 583).
Besides, the sorrows of parents are often the consequence of the bad habits they have allowed
their children to contract from the cradle; a reaping of the evil harvest of which they
themselves have sown the seeds."
Virtues and Vices.
893. Which is the most meritorious of all the virtues?
"All virtues are meritorious, for all of them are signs of progress on the upward road. There is
virtue in every act of voluntary resistance to the seductive influence of evil tendencies; but the
sublimity of virtue consists in the sacrifice of self-interest to the good of others. The highest
of all virtues is that which takes the form of the widest and most disinterested kindness."
894. There are persons who do good from a spontaneous impulse, without having to
overcome any opposite feeling; is there as much merit in their action as in that of others who,
in doing good, have to struggle with their own nature, and to surmount an opposing impulse?
"Those who have no longer to struggle against selfishness are those who have already
accomplished a certain amount of progress. They have struggled and triumphed in the past,
and their generosity, therefore, no longer costs them any effort. To do good seems to them to
be perfectly natural, because they have acquired the habit of kindness. They should be
honoured as veterans, who have won their grades on the field of battle.
"As you are still far from perfection, such persons strike you with astonishment, because their
action contrasts so strongly with that of the rest of mankind, and you admire it in proportion
to its rarity; hut you must know that what is the exception in your world is the rule in worlds
of more advanced degree. In those worlds goodness is everywhere spontaneous, because they
are inhabited only by good spirits, among whom even an evil intention would be considered
as an exceptional monstrosity. It is this
general prevalence of goodness that constitutes the happiness of those worlds; it will be the
same in your earth when the human race shall have been transformed, and shall rightly
comprehend and practise the law of charity."
895. Besides the defects and vices in regard to which no one can be mistaken, what is the
most characteristic sign of imperfection?
"Selfishness. Virtuous appearances are too often like gilding upon copper, that cannot stand
the application of the touchstone. A man may possess good qualities which make him pass in
the eyes of the world for virtuous, but those qualities, though proving him to have made a
certain amount of progress, may not be capable of standing trial, and the slightest disturbance
of his self-love may suffice to show his real character. Absolute disinterestedness is indeed so
rare a thing in your earth, that you may well regard it with wonder, as something phenomenal.
"Attachment to material things is a sign of inferiority, because the more a man cares for the
things of this world, the less does he understand his destiny; his disinterestedness, on the
contrary, proves that he has arrived at a wider and clearer view of the future."
896. There are persons who are generous, but without discernment, and who lavish their
money without doing any real good, from the want of a reasonable plan for its employment;
is there any merit in their action?
"Such persons have the merit of disinterestedness., but they have not that of the good they
might do. If disinterestedness be a virtue, thoughtless prodigality is always, to say the least of
it, a want of judgment. Fortune is. no more given to some persons to be thrown away than to
others to be locked up in a safe; it is a deposit of which they will have to render an account,
for they will have to answer for all the good they might have done, but failed to do, for all the
tears they might have dried with the money they have wasted on those who had no need of it."
897. Is he to blame who does good, not with a view to obtaining any reward upon the earth,
but in the hope that he will be rewarded for it in the other life, and that his situation there
will be the better for having done it? and will such a calculation act unfavourably on his
"You should do good from charity-that is to say, disinterestedly.
- But it is very natural that we should desire to advance, in order to emerge from. so painful
a. state as our present life; spirits themselves tell us that we should practise rectitude in order
to attain this cud. Is it wrong, then, to hope that, through doing good, we way be better off
than we are upon the earth?
"Certainly not; but he who does good spontaneously, without even thinking of its result; for
himself, and simply for the sake of pleasing God and relieving his suffering neighbour, has
already reached a higher degree of advancement, and is nearer to the summit of happiness,
than his brother who, more selfish, does good from calculation, instead of being impelled to it
solely by the sentiment of charity already naturalised in his heart." (894.)
- Should not a distinction be made between the good we do to our neighbour and the care we
give to correcting our own defects? We can understand that there is but little merit in doing
good with the idea that it will be counted to us ii' the other life; but is it also a sign of
inferiority to amend ourselves, to conquer our passions, to correct whatever is faulty in our
disposition, in the hope of bringing ourselves nearer to spirits of higher degree, and of
raising ourselves to a higher position in the spirit-world?
"No, no; by 'doing good' we merely meant being charitable. He who calculates, in every
charitable deed he does, how much interest it will pay him, in the present life or in the next
one, acts selfishly; but there is no selfishness in working out one’s own improvement in the
hope of bringing one's self nearer to God, which should be the aim of every effort."
898. The corporeal life being only a temporary sojourn in a bluer state of existence, and our
future life being therefore what we should mainly care for, is there any use in trying to
acquire scientific knowledge that only bears upon the objects and wants of corporeal life?
"Undoubtedly there is, for such knowledge enables you to benefit your brethren; and beside';,
your spirit, if it have already progressed in intelligence, will ascend more rapidly in the other
life, and will learn in an hour what it would take you years to learn upon the earth. No kind of
knowledge is useless; all knowledge contributes more or less to your advancement, because
the perfected spirit must know everything, and because progress has to
be made in every direction, so that all acquired ideas help forward his development."
899. Of two men, equally rich, and both of whom employ their wealth solely for their
personal satisfaction, but one of whom was born in opulence and has never known want,
while the other owes his fortune to his labour, which is the more culpable?
"He who has known what it is to want, for he has felt the suffering which he does not
900. Can he who constantly accumulates, without doing good to any one, find an excuse in
the fact that he will thus leave t larger fortune to his heirs?
"Such an excuse would only be a compromise with a bad conscience.
901. Of two miserly men, one denies himself the necessaries of life, and dies of want in the
midst of his treasure; the other is stingy in regard to others, but is lavish in his outlay for
himself, and, while he recoils from making the smallest sacrifice to render a service to his
neighbour, or to subserve a noble cause, is regard less of expense in the gratification of his
tastes or passions. If a kindness is asked of him, he is always short of funds; but, for the
satisfying of any fancy of his own, he has always plenty of money. Which of them is the more
guilty of the two, and which of them will be the worse off in the spirit-word?
"He who spends on his own enjoyment, for he is more selfish than miserly. The other is
already undergoing a part of his punishment."
902. Is it wrong to desire riches as a means of doing good?
"Such a desire is laudable when it is pure; but is it always quite disinterested, and does it,
never cover any secret thought of self ? Is not the first person to whom one wishes to do good
too often one's self?"
903. Is it wrong to study other people's defects?
"To do so merely for the sake of criticising or divulging them is very wrong, for it is a want of
charity. To do so with a view to your own benefit, through your consequent avoidance of
those defects in your own person, may sometimes be useful; but you must not forget that
indulgence for the faults of others is one of the elements of charity. Before reproaching others
with their imperfections, you should see whether others might not reproach
you with the same defects. The only way to profit by such a critical examination of your
neighbour's faults is by endeavouring to acquire the opposite virtues. Is he miserly ? Be
generous. Is he proud ? Be humble and modest. Is he harsh ? Be gentle. Is he shabby and
petty? Be great in all you do. In a word, act in such a way as that it may not be said of you, in
the words of Jesus, that you 'see the mote in your brother's eye, but do not see the beam in
your own eye.'"
904. Is it wrong to probe the sores of society for the purpose of rendering them evident?
"That depends on the motive from which it is done. If a writer's only object be to create a
scandal, it is a procuring of a personal satisfaction for himself by the presentation of pictures
that are corrupting rather than instructive. The mind necessarily perceives the evils of society,
but the observer who takes pleasure in portraying evil for its own sake will be punished for
doing so."
- How can we judge, in such a case, of the purity of intention and the sincerity of an author?
"It is not always necessary to do so. If he writes good things, profit by them; if bad ones, it is
a question of conscience that concerns himself. But if he desires to prove his sincerity, he
must do so by the excellence of his own example."
905. There are books that are very fine, full of moral teachings front which, though they have
aided the progress of the human race, their authors have not derived much moral profit. Will
the good those authors have done by their writings be counted to them as spirits?
"The principles of morality, without a corresponding practice, are the seed without the
sowing. Of what use is the seed, if you do not make it fructify and feed you? Such men are all
the more guilty, because they possess the intelligence which enables them to comprehend. By
not practising the virtues they recommend to others, they fail to secure the harvest they might
have reaped for themselves."
906. Is it wrong for him who does good to be conscious of the goodness of his deed, and to
acknowledge that goodness to himself?
"Since a man is conscious of the evil he does, he must also be conscious of the good he
accomplishes; it is only by this testimony of his conscience that he can know whether he has
done ill or well. It is
by weighing all his actions in the scales of God's law, and especially of the law of justice,
love, and charity, that he can decide whether they are good or bad, and can thus approve or
disapprove of them. It cannot, therefore, be wrong in him to recognise the fact that he has
triumphed over his evil tendencies, and to rejoice in having done so, provided he does not
make this recognition a subject of vanity, for, in that case, he would be giving way to a
tendency as reprehensible as any of those over which he has triumph." (919.)
The Passions.
907. As our passions have their roots in nature, are they evil in themselves?
"No; it is only their excess that is evil, for excess implies a perversion of the will. But the
principle of all his passions has been given to man for his good, and they may all spur him on
to the accomplishment of great things. It is only their abuse that does harm."
908. How can we define the limit at which the passions cease to be good or bad?
"The passions are like a horse that is useful when under control, but dangerous when it
obtains the mastery. A passion becomes pernicious the moment when you cease to govern it,
and when it causes an injury to yourselves or to others."
The passions are levers that Increase man's powers tenfold, and aid him in the accomplishment of the
designs of Providence but if, instead of ruling them, he allows himself to be ruled by them, he falls into
every sort of excess, and the same force which, held well in hand, would have been useful to him, falls
upon and crushes him.
All the passions have their source in a natural sentiment or a natural want. They are therefore not evil in
themselves, since they constitute one of the providentially-appointed conditions of our existence. what is
usually meant by "passion" is the exaggeration of a need or a sentiment.
But this exaggeration Is the excessive action of a motive-power, and not the power Itself; it is this
excessive action which becomes an evil, and leads to evil consequences of every kind.
Every passion that brings man nearer to the nature of the animals takes him further from the spiritual
Every sentiment that raises man above the nature of the animals is evidence of the predominance of his
spiritual nature over his animal nature and brings him nearer to perfection.
909. Would a man's own efforts always suffice to enable him to vanquish his evil tendencies?
"Yes, very slight ones are often all that is needed; it is the will that is wanting. Alas! how few
of you make any serious efforts to vanquish those tendencies!"
910. Can a man obtain efficacious help from spirits in overcoming his passions?
"If he addresses a sincere prayer f('r such help to God and to his good Genius, good spirits
will certainly come to his aid, for it is their mission to do so." (459.)
911. Is not the action of the passions sometimes so violent that the will is powerless to
withstand them?
"There are many who say 'I will,' but whose willing is only on their lips, and who are not
sorry that what they declare themselves to will does not take place. When a man is unable to
vanquish his passions, it is because, through the backwardness of his spirit. he takes pleasure
in yielding to them. He who controls his passions comprehends his spiritual nature; he knows
that every victory over then is a triumph of his spirit over matter."
912. What is the most efficacious means of combating the Predominance of the corporeal
"The practice of abnegation."
913. Which, among the vices, may be regarded as the root of the others?
"Selfishness, as we have repeatedly told you; for it is from selfishness that everything evil
proceeds. Study all the vices, and you will see that selfishness is at the bottom of them all.
Combat them as you will, you will never succeed in extirpating them until. attacking the evil
in its root, you have destroyed the selfishness which is their cause. Let all your efforts tend to
this end; for selfishness is the veritable social gangrene. Whoever would make, even in his
earthly life, some approach towards moral excellence, must root out every selfish feeling
from his heart, for selfishness is incompatible with justice, love, and charity; it neutralises
every good quality."
914. Selfishness having its root in the sentiment of personal interest, it would seem that, to
extirpate pate it entirely from the human heart, must be a very difficult matter. Is it possible
to do so?
"In proportion as men become enlightened in regard to spiritual things, they attach less value
to material things; and as they emancipate themselves from the thraldom of matter, they
reform the human institutions by which selfishment is fostered and excited. Such should be
the aim of education."
915. Selfishness being inherent in the human race, will it not always constitute an obstacle to
the reign of perfect goodness upon the earth?
"It is certain that selfishness is your greatest evil; but it belongs to the inferiority of the spirits
incarnated upon the earth, and not to the human race as such, and consequently, those spirits,
in purifying themselves by successive incarnations. get rid of their selfishness as they do of
their other impurities. Have you, upon the earth. none who have divested themselves of
selfishness, and who practise charity ? There are more of such than you think, but they are
little known, for virtue does not seek to display itself in the glare of popularity. If there is one
such among you, why should there not be ten ? if there are ten. why should there not be. a
thousand? and so on."
916. Selfishness, so far from diminishing, increases with the civilisation that seems to
strengthen and intensify it; how can the effect be destroyed by the cause?
"The greater the development of an evil, the more hideous is it seen to be. It was necessary
for selfishness to do a vast amount of harm, in order that you might see the necessity of
extirpating it. When men shall have divested themselves of selfishness, they will live like
brothers, doing each other no harm, but mutually aiding each other from a sentiment of
solidarity. The strong will then be the support, and not the oppressor, of the weak; and none
will lack the necessaries of life, because the law of justice will be obeyed by all. It is of this
reign of justice that spirits are now charged to prepare the advent."
917. By what means can selfishness be destroyed?
"Of all human imperfections, the most difficult to root out is selfishness, because it is
connected with the influence of matter, from which man, still too near his origin, has not yet
been able to enfranchise himself, and which his laws, his social organisation, his education,
all tend to maintain. Selfishness will be gradually weakened as your moral life obtains
predominance ever your material life. through the knowledge which Spiritism gives you of
the reality of your future state, stripped of allegoric fables. Spiritism. when it comes to be
rightly understood, and identified with the beliefs and habits of the human race, will
transform all your customs, usages, and social relations. Selfishness is based on the
importance you attribute to your own personality; Spiritism,
on the contrary, when rightly understood, causes you to look at everything from a point of
view so elevated that the sentiment of personality is lost, so to say, in the contemplation of
immensity. In destroying the sentiment of self-importance, by showing its real nature,
Spiritism necessarily combats selfishness.
"Man is often rendered selfish by his experience of the selfishness of others, which makes
him feel the need of defending himself against them. Seeing that others think of themselves
and not of him, he is led to think of himself rather than of others. But let the principle of
charity and fraternity become the basis of social institutions, of the legal relations between
nation and nation and between man and man, and each individual will think less of his own
personal interests, because he will see that these have been thought of by others; he will
experience the moralising influence of example and of contact. Amidst the present overflow
of selfishness, much virtue is needed to enable a man to sacrifice his own interests for the
sake of others, who often feel but little gratitude for such abnegation; but it is above all to
those who possess this virtue that the Kingdom of Heaven is opened, and the happiness of the
elect assured: while, at the day of judgement, whoever has thought only of himself will be set
aside, and left to suffer from his loneliness." (785.) (FÉNÉLON.)
Laudable efforts are made to help forward the progress of the human race; the generous sentiments are
encouraged, stimulated, honoured, more than has been the case at any former epoch, and yet the
devouring worm of selfishness is still the pest and torment of society. It is a social disease that affects
every one, and of which every one is more or less the victim it should therefore be combated as we combat
any other epidemic. To this end we must proceed as does the physician, and begin by tracing the malady
to its source. We should seek out, in every department of the social fabric, from the relationships of the
family to those of nations, from the cottage to the palace, all the causes, all the influences, patent or secret,
that maintain and develop selfishness The causes of the malady being discovered, the remedy Will
spontaneously present itself, and through the efforts of all, directed to a common end, the virus will
gradually be extirpated. The cure may be slow, for the causes of the malady are many, but it is not
impossible. It can only be effected, however, by going to the root of the evil, that is to say, by generalising
education ; not the education which merely advances men in knowledge, but that witch improves them
morally. Education, rightly understood, is the key of moral progress, when the art of training the moral
nature shall be understood as is the art of training the intellect, it will be possible to straighten a crooked
nature as we straighten a crooked sapling. But this art demands much tact, much experience, and
profound observation; it Is a great mistake to suppose that the possession of scientific knowledge suffices
to enable the teacher to exercise it with success. whoever observes the life of a child, whether rich or poor,
and notes all the pernicious influences that act upon its weakness from the moment of its birth, the
ignorance and negligence of those who have charge of it, and the mischievous tendency of many of the
means employed with a view to moralise it, will not wonder that the world should be so full if crooked
sticks. But let the same skill and care be given to the training of the moral nature as to that of the
intellect, and it will be seen that, even should some natures
prove refractory, the greater number only need to be suitably cultivated in order to yield good fruit.
Man desires to be happy, and this desire. implanted in him by nature, prompts him to labour unceasingly
to improve his condition upon the earth. and to seek out causes of the evils that afflict him, in order to
remove them, when he toughly comprehends that selfishness Is one of those causes, that it engenders the
pride, ambition, cupidity, envy, hatred, jealousy. by which he is continually annoyed, that it brings
trouble into all the social relations, provokes dissensions, destroys confidence, converts friends into foes,
and obliges each individual to remain constantly on the defensive against his neighbour, he will see that
this vice is incompatible, not only with his own felicity, but even with his own security ; and the more he
has suffered from it, the more keenly will he feel the necessity of fighting against it, as he fights against
pestilence, dangerous animals, and every other source of disaster, for he will be compelled to do so in view
of his own interest. (784.)
Selfishness is the source of all the vices, as charity is the source of all the virtues. To destroy the one, to
develop the other, should be the aim of all who desire to insure their own happiness, in the present life, as
in the future.
Characteristics of the Virtuous Man.
918. By what signs can we recognise a man as having accomplished the progress that will
raise him in the spirit-hierarchy?
"The elevation of an incarnated spirit is proved by the conformity of all the acts of his
corporeal life with the law of God, and by his comprehension of spiritual life."
The truly virtuous man is he who practises the law of justice, love, and charity, in its greatest purity. If he
interrogates his conscience in regard to the acts accomplished by him. he will ask himself whether he has
done nothing wrong, whether he has done all the good in his power, whether no one has cause to complain
of him, and whether he has done to others all that he would wish others to do to him. Being filled with the
sentiment of charity and kindness for all, he does good for its own sake, without hope of reward. and
sacrifices his own interest to justice.
He is kind, benevolent, humane, for all, because he sees a brother in every man, whatever his race or his
If God has given him power and riches, he considers them as A TRUST confided to him for the general
good; he Is not vain of them, for he knows that God. who has given them to him, can take them from him.
If the constitution of society has made other men dependent on him, he treats them with kindness and
benevolence, as being his equals in the sight of God; he uses his authority to raise them morally, and not
to crush them by his pride.
He is indulgent for the weaknesses of others, knowing that he too needs indulgence, and remembering the
Words of Christ, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone."
He is not vindictive, but remembers only benefits; following the example of Jesus, he forgives all offences,
for he knows that he will only obtain forgiveness in proportion as he has forgiven.
He respects the rights of others, as established by the law of nature, as scrupulously as he desires those
rights to be respected in his own case.
Self - Knowledge.
919. What is the most efficacious method of ensuring one's own moral improvement in the
present life, and resisting the attraction of evil?
"One of the sages of antiquity has told you: 'Know thyself.' "
- We fully admit the wisdom of the maxim; but this self-knowledge is just what it is most
difficult to acquire. By what means can we acquire it?
"Do what I myself used to do during my life upon the earth. At the close of each day I
examined my conscience, reviewed all that I had done, and asked myself whether I had not
failed in some duty, whether some one might not have reason to complain of me. It was in
this way that I succeeded in obtaining a know-ledge of myself, and in ascertaining what there
was in me that needed reforming. He who, every evening, should thus recall all the actions of
the day, asking himself whether he has done ill or well, and praying God and his guardian
angel to en-lighten him would acquire great strength for self-improvement, for, believe me,
God would assist him. Ask yourself these questions; inquire of yourself what you have done,
and what was your aim in such and such a manner; whether you have done anything that you
would blame in another; whether you have done anything that you would be ashamed to
avow. Ask yourself also this question -'If it pleased God to call me back, at this moment, into
the other life, should I, on returning into the world of spirits, in which nothing is hidden, have
to dread the sight of any one? Examine what you may have done, first, against God; next,
against your neighbour; and lastly, against yourself. The answers to these questions will either
give repose to your conscience, or show you some moral malady of which you will have to
cure yourself.
"Self-knowledge is, therefore, the key to individual improvement; but, you will ask, 'How is
one to judge one's self? Is not each man subject to the illusions of self-love, which diminish
his faults in his own eyes and find excuses for them? The miser thinks himself to be merely
practising economy and foresight; the proud man thinks his pride to be only dignity.' This is
true, but you have a means of ascertainment that cannot deceive you. When you are in doubt
as to the quality of any one of your actions, ask yourself what would be your judgement in
regard to it if it were done by another? If you would blame it in another, it cannot be less
blameable when done by you, for God's justice has neither two weights nor two measures.
Endeavour also to learn what is thought of it by others; and do not overlook the opinion of
your enemies, for they have no interest in disguising the truth, and God often places them
beside you as a mirror, to warn you more frankly
than would be done by a friend. Let him, then, who is firmly resolved on self-improvement
examine his conscience in order to root out his evil tendencies, as he roots out the weeds from
his garden; let him every night. cast up his moral accounts for the day, as the tradesman
counts tip his profit and loss; he may be sure that the former will be a more profitable
operation than the latter. He who, after this footing tip of his day's doings, can say that the
balance of the account; is in his favour, may sleep in peace, and fearlessly await the moment
of his awaking in the other life.
"Let the questions you address to us be clear and precise, and do not hesitate to multiply
them; you may well devote a few minutes to the securing of a happiness that will last for ever.
Do you not labour every day with a view to insuring repose for your old age ? Is not this
repose the object of your desires, the aim that prompts your endurance of the fatigues and
privations of the moment ? But what comparison is there between a few days of rest,
impaired by the infirmities of the body, and the endless rest that awaits the virtuous ? and is
not this latter worth the making of a few efforts ? I know that many will say, 'The present is
certain, and the future uncertain ;' but this is precisely the error we are charged to remove
from your minds, by showing you your future in such a way as to leave no doubt in your
minds concerning it. This is why, having begun by producing phenomena calculated to arrest
your attention through their appeal to your senses, we now give you the moral teachings that
each of you is charged t6 spread abroad in his turn. It is to this end that we have dictated The
Spirit's Book."
Happiness and Unhappiness.
920. Is it possible for man to enjoy perfect happiness upon the earth?
"No; for corporeal life has been appointed to him either as a trial or an expiation; but it
depends upon himself to lighten the evils of his lot, and to render it as happy as life can be
upon the earth."
921. We can conceive that man will be happy upon the earth when the human race shall have
been transformed; but, meanwhile, is it possible for each man to ensure for himself a
moderate amount of happiness?
"Man is more often the artisan of his own unhappiness. If he obeyed the law of God, he
would not only spare himself much sorrow, but would also procure for himself all the felicity
that is compatible with the grossness of earthly existence."
He who is perfectly sure that the future life is a reality regards his corporeal life as being merely a
traveller's momentary halt in a wayside inn, and easily consoles himself for the passing annoyances of a
journey which is bringing him to a new and happier position, that will be all the more satisfactory in
proportion to the completeness of the preparations he has made for entering upon it.
We are punished, even in the present life, for our infraction of the laws of corporeal existence, by the
sufferings which are the result of that infraction and of our own excesses. If we trace what we call our
earthly ills back to their origin, we shall find them to be, for the most part, the result of a first deviation
from the straight road. This deviation caused us to enter upon a wrong path, and each subsequent step
brought us more and more deeply into trouble.
922. Earthly happiness is relative to the position of each person; what suffices for the
happiness of one would be misfortune for
another. Is there, nevertheless, a common standard of happiness for all men?
"As regards material existence, it is the possession of the necessaries of life; as regards moral
existence, it is a good conscience and the belief in a future state."
923. Does not that which is a superfluity for one become a necessary of life for another and
vice versa, according to differences of position?
"Yes, according to your material ideas, your prejudices, your ambition, and all your absurd
notions that you will gradually get rid of as you come to understand the truth of things.
Undoubtedly, he who, having possessed an income of thousands, becomes reduced to as
many hundreds, looks upon himself as being very unfortunate, because he can no longer cut
so great a figure in the world, maintain what he calls his rank, keep horses, carriages, and
lackeys, and gratify all his tastes and passions. He appears to himself to lack the very
necessaries of life; but is he really so much to be pitied while, beside him, so many others are
dying of cold and hunger, and have not even where to lay their head? He who is wise
compares himself with what is below him, never with what is above him, unless it be to raise
his soul towards the Infinite." (715.)
924. There are misfortunes which come upon men independently of their own conduct, and
that befall even the most upright. Is there no way of preserving one's self from them ?
"Such misfortunes must be borne with resignation and without murmuring, if you would
progress; but you may always derive consolation from the hope of a happier future, provided
you do what is needed to obtain it."
925. Why does God so often bestow the gifts of fortune on men who do not appear to have
deserved such a favour?
"Wealth appears to be a favour to those who see only the present, but you must remember that
fortune is often a more dangerous trial than poverty." (814 et seq.)
926. Does not civilisation, by creating new wants, become the source of new afflictions?
"The ills, of your world are proportional to the factitious wants that you create for yourselves.
He who is able to set bounds to his desires, and to see without envy what is above him, spares
himself many of the disappointments of the earthly life. The richest of men is he who has the
fewest needs.
"You envy the enjoyments of those who appear to you to be the favourites of fortune, but do
you know what is in store for so many of them ? If they use their wealth only for themselves,
they are selfish, and, in that case, a terrible reverse awaits them. Instead of envying, you
should pity them. God sometimes permits the wicked to prosper, but his prosperity is, not to
be envied, for he will pay for it with weeping and gnashing of teeth. If a righteous man
undergoes misfortune, it is a trial from which, being bravely borne, he will reap a rich reward.
Remember the words of Jesus: 'Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.'"
927. Superfluities are certainly not indispensable to happiness, but it is otherwise in regard
to the necessaries of life. Is it not, then, really a misfortune to be deprived of these?
"A man is really unfortunate only when deprived of what is necessary to life and to bodily
health. If this privation be the result of his own misconduct, he has only himself to blame for
it; if it be the fault of others, a heavy responsibility will rest with those who have caused it."
928. By our special aptitudes, God evidently shows to each of us our special vocation. Are
not many of the ills of life attributable to our not following that vocation?
"Yes. It often happens that parents, through pride or avarice, force their children from the
path traced out for them by nature; but they will be held responsible for the results of this
- You would then approve of the son of some high personage making himself a cobbler, for
instance, if he were endowed with a natural aptitude for cobbling?
"You must not go off into absurdities and exaggerations. Civilisation has its necessities. Why
should the son of a man occupying a high position make himself a cobbler, if able to do
something more important? Such an one might always make himself useful, according to the
measure of his faculties, without running counter to common sense. For instance, if he were
not fitted to make a good lawyer, he might be a good engineer, a mechanician, etc."
The placing of people in positions for which they are naturally unfit is assuredly one of the most frequent
causes of failure and disappointment.
Want of aptitude for the career on which one has entered is an inexhaustible source of reverses; and as he
who has thus failed in one career in often prevented by pride front seeking a resource in some humbler
avocation, he is often tempted to commit suicide in order to escape what he regards as a humiliation:
whereas, if a sound moral education had raised him above the stupid prejudices of pride, he would have
been at no loss to obtain the means of subsistence.
929. There are persons who, being utterly without resources, though surrounded by
abundance, have no other prospect than starvation. What course should they take under such
circumstances? Ought they to allow themselves to die of hunger?
"No one should ever admit into his mind the idea of allowing himself to die of hunger; a man
could always find the means of obtaining food if pride did not interpose itself between want
and work. It has often been said that 'No work is dishonourable it honestly done;' but this is
one of the aphorisms that each man is more prompt to apply to his neighbour than to
930. It is evident that, were it not for the social prejudices by which we allow ourselves to be
swayed, a man would always be able to find some sort of work that would enable him to gain
a living, even though he thus took a humbler position; but among those who have no such
prejudices, or who put them aside, are there not some who are really unable to provide for
their wants, through illness, or through other circumstances independent of their will?
"In a society organised according to the law of Christ, no one would die of hunger."
Were society organised with wisdom and forethought, no one could lack the necessaries of life unless
through his own fault ; but a man's faults themselves are often the result of the circumstances in which he
finds himself placed. When men shall have advanced sufficiently to practise the law of God, they will not
only be better intrinsically and as individuals, but will organise their social relations on a basis of justice
and charity. (793)
931. Why is it that, in our world, the classes that suffer are so much more numerous than
those that are prosperous?
"None of you are perfectly happy, and what the world regards as prosperity often hides the
most poignant sorrows. Suffering is everywhere. However, by way of replying to the thought
which prompted your question, I answer, that what you call the suffering classes are the most
numerous, because the earth is a place of expiation. When mankind shall have made it the
sojourn of goodness and of good spirits, there will be no more unhappiness in the earth,
which will then be a terrestrial paradise for all its inhabitants."
932. How is it that, in this world, the wicked so often have power over the good?
"That is a consequence of the weakness of the good. The wicked are intriguing and
audacious, the good are often timid. When the latter shall be determined to have the upper
hand they will have it."
933. Men are often the artisans of their own worldly sufferings; are they also the artisans of
their moral sufferings?
"Even more so; for their worldly sufferings are often independent of their action; but it is
wounded pride, disappointed ambition, the anxieties of avarice, envy, jealousy, all the
passions, in short, that constitute the torments of the soul.
"Envy and jealousy! Happy are they who know not those two gnawing worms! Where envy
and jealousy exist, there can be no calm, no repose. Before him who is the slave of those
passions, the objects of his longings. of his hatreds, of his anger, stand like so many
phantoms, pursuing him without respite, even in his sleep. The envious and jealous are
always in a fever. Is such a state a desirable one? Can you not understand that, with such
passions, man creates for himself the most terrible tortures, and that the earth really becomes
a hell for him?"
Many of our colloquial expressions present vivid pictures of the effects of the different passions. We say,
"puffed up with pride ;" "dying with envy,"' "bursting with spite;" "devoured by jealousy;" etc.;
pictures that are only too true to their originals. In many cases, these evil passions have no determinate
object. There are persons, for instance, who are naturally jealous of everyone who rises, of everything
that oversteps the common line, even when their own interest is in no way concerned, and simply because
they are not able to command a similar success. Every manifestation of superiority on the part of others is
regarded by them as an offence to themselves ; for the jealousy of mediocrity would always, if it could,
bring everyone down to its own level.
Much of the unhappiness of human life is a result of the undue importance attached by man to the things
of this world ; vanity, disappointed ambition, and cupidity, make up no small part of his troubles. If he
placed his aims beyond the narrow circle of his outer life, if he raised his thoughts towards the infinitude
that is his destiny, the vicissitudes of human existence would seem to him as petty and puerile as the
broken toy over the loss of which the child weeps so bitterly.
He who finds his happiness only in the satisfaction of pride and of gross material appetites is unhappy
when he cannot satisfy them; while he who asks for no superfluities is happy under circumstances that
would be deemed calamitous by others.
We are now speaking of civilised people. for the savage, having fewer wants, has not the same incitements
to envy and anxiety ; his way of looking at things is altogether different. In the civilised state, man reasons
upon and analyses his unhappiness, and is therefore all the more painfully affected by it; but he may also
reason upon and analyse the means of consolation within his reach. This consolation is furnished him by
Christianity, which gives him the hope of a better future, and by Spiritism, which gives him the certainty
of that future.
Loss of Those We Love.
934. Is not the loss of those who are dear to us a legitimate source of sorrow, seeing that this
loss is both irreparable and in-dependent of our action?
"This cause of sorrow, which acts alike upon rich and poor, is the common law of humanity,
for it is either a trial or an expiation; but you have the consolation of holding communication
with your friends through the means already possessed by you, while awaiting other means
that will be more direct, and more accessible to your senses."
935. What is to be thought of the opinion which regards communication with those who are
beyond the grave as a profanation?
"There can be no profanation where there is reverent concentration of thought and sympathy,
and when the evocation is made with fitting respect; and the proof of this is found in the fact
the spirits who love you take pleasure in coming to you; they rejoice in being remembered by
you, and in being able to converse with you. But there would be profanation in this
communication if carried on in a spirit of frivolity."
The possibility of entering into communication with spirits is most consoling, since it gives us the means
of holding converse with those o~ our relatives and friends who have quitted the earthly life before us. By
our evocation, we draw them nearer to us they come to our side, hear us, and reply to us there is, so to
say. no longer any separation between them and us. They aid us with their counsels, and assure us of the
pleasure afforded them by our remembrance It is a satisfaction for us to know that they are happy, to
learn from themselves the details of their new existence, and to acquire the certainty of our rejoining
them in our turn.
936. What effect has the inconsolable sorrow of survivors upon the spirits who are the object
of that sorrow?
"A spirit is touched by the remembrance and regrets of those he has loved; but a persistent
and unreasonable sorrow affects him painfully, because he sees, in this excessive grief, a want
of faith in the future and confidence in God, and, consequently, an obstacle to the
advancement of the mourner, and, perhaps, to their reunion."
A spirit, when disincarnated, being happier than he was upon the earth, to regret his change of life is to
regret his being happy. Two friends are prisoners, shut up in the same dungeon both of them are some
day to be set at liberty, but one of them obtains his deliverance before the other. Would it be kind on the
part of him who remains in prison to regret that his friend has been set at liberty before him? Would
there not be on his part more selfishness than affection In wishing his friend to remain in captivity and
suffering as long as himself? It is the same with two persons who love one another upon the earth; he who
quits it first is the first delivered ; and the other ought to rejoice in his deliverance, while awaiting with
patience the moment when he shall he delivered in his turn.
We may illustrate this subject by another comparison. You have a friend whose situation, while
remaining near you, is a painful one; his health or his Interests require that he should go to another
country, where he will be better off in every respect. He will no longer be near you at every moment. but
you will still be in correspondence with him the separation between you will be only in your daily life.
Should you grieve for his removal, since it Is for his good?
By the evident proofs which it gives us of the reality of the future life, and of the presence about us and
the continued affection and solicitude of those we have loved, as well as by the relations which it enables
us to keep up with them, Spiritism offers us the most effectual consolation under the greatest and most
painful of earthly sorrows; it does away with solitude and separation, for it shows us that the most
isolated of human beings is always surrounded by a host of friends, with whom he can hold affectionate
We are often impatient under the tribulations of life; they seem to us so intolerable that we cannot
believe it to be possible for us to bear up under them; and yet, if we have borne them with courage, if we
have been able to silence our murmurings, we shall rejoice to have undergone them, when we have
finished our earthly career, as the patient rejoices. when convalescent, to have resigned himself to the
painful course of treatment that has cured him of his malady.
Disappointments, Ingratitude, Blighted Affections.
937 Are not the disappointments that are caused by ingratitude, and by the fragility of earthly
friendships, also a source of bitterness of the human heart?
"Yes; but we teach you to feel pity for the ungrateful, and for faithless friends; their
unkindness will do more harm to them-selves than to you. Ingratitude comes of selfishness;
and he who is selfish will meet, sooner or later, with hearts as hard as his own has been.
Think of all those who have done more good than you have done, who are more worthful than
you are, and whose kindness has been repaid with ingratitude. Remember that Jesus himself,
during his life, was scoffed at, despised, and treated as a knave and an impostor; and do not
be surprised that you should be treated in the same way. Let the consciousness of the good
you have done be your recompense in your present life, and do not trouble yourself about
those to whom you have done it. Ingratitude serves to test your persistence in doing good; it
will be counted to you hereafter, and those who have been unmindful of your kindness will be
punished, and all the more severely, the greater has been their ingratitude."
938. Are not the disappointments caused by ingratitude calculated to harden the heart and
render it unfeelings?
"It would be wrong to let them do so; for the generous man is always glad to have done good.
He knows that, if those whom he has benefited do not remember his kindness in the present
they will remember it in a future one, and will then feel shame and remorse for their
- But this knowledge will not prevent him from being acutely pained by ingratitude in the
present life; might not this pain lead him to think that he would be happier if he possessed
less sensibility ?
"Yes; if he preferred a selfish happiness; but that sort of happiness is a very pitiable one. Let
such a man try to understand that the ungrateful friends who desert him are unworthy of his
friendship, and that he has been mistaken in his estimate of them, and he will no longer regret
their loss. Their place will by and by be filled by others who are better able to understand
him. You should pity those from whom you have received ill-treatment that you have not
deserved, for a heavy retribution will overtake them; but you should not allow yourselves to
be painfully affected by their misconduct. Your indifference to their ill-treatment will place
you above them."
Nature has implanted in man the need of loving of being loved. One of the greatest enjoyments accorded
to him upon the earth is the meeting with hearts that sympathise with his own. This sympathy gives him a
foretaste of the happiness that awaits him in the world of perfected spirits, where all is love and kindness
a happiness that is refused to the selfish.
Antipathetic Unions.
939. Since spirits who are sympathetic to one another are spontaneously attracted' to each
other, how is it that, among incarnated spirits, the love is often only on one side; that the
most sincere affection is met with indifference or even with repulsion; and that, moreover, the
liveliest affection of two persons for one another may be changed into dislike, and even into
"Such a contrariety of feeling is a punishment, but only a passing one. Besides, how many are
there who imagine themselves to be desperately in love with each other, because they judge
one another from appearances only, but who, when obliged to live together, soon discover
that their affection was nothing more than a passing caprice ? It is not enough to be taken
with some one who pleases you, and whom you imagine to be gifted with all sorts of good
qualities; it is only by living together that you can ascertain the worth of the appearances that
have captivated you. On the other hand, how many of those unions that seem, at first, as
though they never could become sympathetic, grow, in time, into a tender and lasting
affection, founded upon the esteem that has been
developed between the parties by a better and more complete acquaintance with each other's
good qualities? You must not forget that it is the spirit which loves, and not the body, and
that, when the illusion of corporeal attractions is dissipated, the spirit perceives the real
quality of the union into which it has entered.
"There are two kinds of affection-that of the body, and that of the soul, and these are often
mistaken for one another. The affection of the soul, when pure and sympathetic, is lasting;
that of the body is perishable this is why those who fancied that they loved each with an
eternal affection often detest one another when their illusion has vanished."
940. Is not the lack of sympathy between persons destined to live together also a source of
sorrow, and one that is all the more bitter because it poisons an entire existence?
"Very bitter it is, undoubtedly; but it is usually a misfortune of your own causing. In the first
place, your laws are in fault; for how can you suppose that those who dislike one another can
be intended by God to live together ? In the next place, you yourselves are to blame, for you
often seek, in those unions, the satisfaction of your pride and ambition rather than the
happiness of a mutual affection; and, in such cases, you undergo the natural consequences of
your prejudices."
- But, in such cases, is there not generally an innocent victim?
"Yes, one for whom it is a heavy expiation; but the responsibility of such unhappiness will,
nevertheless, be brought home to those who caused it. If the light of truth have reached the
soul of the victim, faith in the future will give consolation under present suffering. But the
causes of these private misfortunes will disappear in proportion as your prejudices are
Fear of Death.
941. The fear of death causes perplexity to many persons; whence comes this fear in the case
of those who believe in a future life?
"Such fear is altogether misplaced; but when people have been, in their youth, thoroughly
indoctrinated into the belief that there is a hell as well as a heaven, and that they will most
likely go to the former, because whatever belongs to human life is a mortal sin for the soul,
they are naturally afraid, if they have retained their religious belief, of the fire that is to burn
them for ever
without destroying them. But most of those who are thus indoctrinated in their childhood, if
possessed of judgement, throw aside that belief when they grow up, and, being unable to
assent to such a doctrine, become atheists or materialists; so that the natural effect of such
teaching is to make them believe that there is nothing beyond this present life.
"Death has no terrors for the righteous man, because, with faith, he has the certainty of a
future life; hope leads him to expect an existence happier than his present one; and charity,
which has been the law of his action, gives him the assurance that, in the world which he is
about to enter, he will meet with no one whose recognition he will have reason to dread."
The carnally-minded man, more attracted by corporeal life than by the life of the spirit, knows only the
pains and pleasures of terrestrial existence. His only happiness Is in the fugitive satisfaction of his earthly
desires; his mind, constantly occupied with the vicissitude, of the present life, and painfully affected by
them, is tortured with perpetual anxiety. The thought of death terrifies him, because he has doubts about
his future, and because he has to leave all his affections and all his hopes behind him he leaves the earth.
The spiritually-minded man, who has raised himself above the factitious wants created by the passions,
has, even in this lower life, enjoyments unknown to the carnally-minded. The moderation of his desires
gives calmness and serenity to his spirit. Happy in the good he does. life has no disappointments for him,
and its vexations pass lightly over his consciousness, without leaving upon it any painful impress.
942. Will not these counsels as to the way to be happy in the present life be considered by
many persons as somewhat commonplace; will they not be looked upon as truisms; and will it
not be said that, after all, the true secret of happiness is to be able to bear up under one's
"A good many people will take this view of the matter; but, of these, not a few will be like the
sick man, for whom the physician prescribes dieting, but who demands to be cured without
changing his habits, and while continuing the indulgences of the table that keep up his
Weariness of Life - Suicide
943. What is the cause of the weariness of life which some-times takes possession of people
without any assignable reason?
"Idleness; lack of conviction; sometimes, satiety. For him who employs his faculties in the
pursuit of some useful aim in harmony with his natural aptitudes, exertion is not disagreeable:
his time passes quickly in congenial occupation; and he is able to bear the
vicissitudes of life with patience and resignation, because he looks forward to a more solid
and lasting happiness in the future."
944. Has a man the right to dispose of his life?
"No; that right belongs to God alone. He who voluntarily commits suicide contravenes the
providential ordering which sent him into the earthly life."
- Is not suicide always voluntary?
"The madman who kills himself does not know what he is doing."
945. What is to be thought of those who commit suicide because they are sick of life?
"Fools! why did they not employ themselves in some useful work ? Had they done so, life
would not have been a weariness to them."
946. What is to be thought of those who resort to suicide in order to escape from the troubles
and disappointments of this world?
"They are weaklings who lack courage to bear the petty annoyances of existence. God helps
those who suffer bravely, but not those who have neither strength nor courage. The
tribulations of life are trials or expiations; happy are those who bear them without
murmuring, for great will be their reward! Unhappy, on the contrary, are those who expect
their well-being from what they impiously call 'chance' or 'luck'! Chance, or luck, to borrow
their own expressions, may favour them for a time; but only to make them feel, afterwards,
and all the more bitterly, the emptiness of those words."
- Will not those who have driven an unhappy fellow-creature to this deed of despair be held
responsible for the consequences of their action?
"Yes; and heavy indeed will be their punishment, for they wilt have to answer for those
consequences as for a murder."
947. Can we consider as having committed suicide the man who, becoming disheartened in
his struggle with adversity, allows himself to die of despair?
"Such self-abandonment is suicide; but those who had caused the crime, or might have
prevented it, would be more to blame for it than the one by whom it had been committed, and
the latter would therefore be judged leniently. But, nevertheless, you must
not suppose that he would be entirely absolved if he had been wanting in firmness and
perseverance, or had failed to make the best use of his intelligence to help himself out of his
difficulties. And it would go still harder with him if he had been one of those whose
intelligence is paralysed by pride, who would blush to earn their living by manual labour, and
would rather die of starvation than derogate from what they call their "social position." Is
there not a hundredfold more nobleness and true dignity in bearing up against adversity, in
braving the ill-natured remarks of the futile and selfish, whose goodwill is only for those who
are in want of nothing, and who turn the cold shoulder to all who are in need of help ? To
throw away one's life on account of such people is doubly absurd, seeing that they will be
perfectly indifferent to the sacrifice."
948. Is suicide as blameable, when committed in order to escape the disgrace of having done
wrong, as when it is prompted by despair?
"A fault is not effaced by suicide, which, on the contrary, is a second fault added to the first.
He who has had the courage to do wrong should have the courage to bear the consequences of
his wrong-doing. God is the sole judge, and sometimes diminishes the penalty of wrongdoing
in consideration of the circumstances which led to it."
949. Is suicide excusable wizen committed in order to avoid bringing disgrace on one's
children or family?
"He who has recourse to such an expedient does wrong; but, as he believes his action to be
for the best, God takes note of his intention, for his suicide is a self-imposed expiation; his
fault is extenuated by his intention, but it is none the less a fault. But when you have got rid
of your social prejudices and abuses, you will have no more suicides."
He who takes his own life, in order to escape the disgrace of a bad action, proves that he attaches more
value to the estimation of men than to that of God; for the goes back into the spirit-world laden with his
iniquities, of the means of atoning for which, during his earthly life, he has thus deprived himself. God is
less inexorable than men often are; He pardons those who sincerely repent, and takes account of sill our
efforts to repair what we have done amiss; but nothing is repaired by suicide.
950. What is to be thought of him who makes away with himself in the hope of arriving
sooner at a happier state of existence?
"Another piece of folly! Let a man do good, and he will be much more sure of reaching such a
state. His suicide will delay
his entrance into a better world; for be himself will ask to be allowed to come back to the
earth, in order to complete the life that he has cut short in pursuit of a mistaken idea. The
sanctuary of the good is never opened by a fault, no matter what may have been its motive."
951. Is not the sacrifice of one's life meritorious when it is made in order to save the lives of
others, or to be useful to them?
"Incurred for such an end, it is sublime ; but such a voluntary sacrifice of life is not suicide. It
is the useless sacrifice that is displeasing to God, and also that which is tarnished by pride. A
sacrifice is only meritorious when disinterested; if accomplished in view of a selfish end, its
value is proportionally lessened in the sight of God."
Every sacrifice of our interest or enjoyment made for the sake of others is supremely meritorious in the
sight of God for it is the fulfilling of the law of charity. Life being. of all earthly possessions, the one to
which men attach the greatest value, he who renounces it for the good of his fellow-creatures does not
commit a crime he accomplishes a sacrifice. But, before accomplishing it, he should consider whether his
life might not be more useful than his death.
952. Does he commit suicide who falls a victim to the excessive indulgence of passions which
he knows will hasten his death, but which habit has converted into physical necessities that
lie is unable to control?
"He commits moral suicide. Do you not see that a man, in such a case, is trebly guilty? For he
is guilty of a want of firmness, of the sin of bestiality, and of forgetfulness of God."
- Is such a man more or less guilty than he who kills himself from despair?
"He is more guilty, because he has had time to reflect on the suicidal nature of the course he
was pursuing. In the case of him who commits suicide on the spur of the moment, there is
sometimes a degree of bewilderment not unallied to madness. The former will be punished
much more severely than the latter; for the retributive penalties of crime are always
proportioned to the consciousness of wrong-doing that accompanied its commission.
953. Is it wrong on the part of him who finds himself exposed to some terrible and inevitable
death to shorten his sufferings by killing himself?
"It is always wrong not to await the moment of dissolution appointed by God. Besides, how
can a man tell whether the end
of his life has really come, or whether some unexpected help may not reach him at what he
supposes to be his last moment?"
- We admit that suicide is reprehensible under ordinary circumstances, but we are supposing
a case in which death is inevitable, and in which life is only shortened by a few instants?
"There is always in such a case a want of resignation and of submission to the will of the
- What in such a case are the consequences of suicide?
"The same as in all other cases; an expiation proportioned to the gravity of the fault,
according to the circumstances under which it was committed."
954. Is there guilt in the imprudence which has accidentally caused a loss of life?
"There is no guilt where there is no positive intention or consciousness of doing harm."
955. Are the women who, in some countries, voluntarily burn themselves to death with the
body of their husband, to be considered as committing suicide, and have they to undergo the
punishment of that crime?
"They obey the dictates of a superstitious prejudice, and, moreover, are often the victims of
force rather than of their own free-will. They believe themselves to be accomplishing a duty,
and such an act does not partake of the character of suicide. Their excuse is found in the
moral nullity and ignorance of the greater number of them. All such barbarous and stupid
customs will disappear with the development of civilisation."
956. Do those persons attain the end they have in view, who, unable to bear the loss of the
objects of their affection, kill them-selves in the hope of rejoining them in the other life?
"In such cases the result of suicide is the opposite of what was hoped for. Instead of being
reunited to the object of their affection, those who have made this sad mistake find
themselves separated, and for a very long time, from the being they hoped to rejoin; for God
cannot recompense, by the granting of a favour, an act which is at once a proof of moral
cowardice, and an insult offered to Himself in distrusting His Providence. They will pay for
their folly with sorrows still greater than those they fancied they were about to shorten, and
for which they will not be compensated by the satisfaction they hoped do obtain." (934 et
957. What are in general the effects of suicide on the state of the spirit by whom it has been
"The consequences of suicide vary in different cases, because the penalties it entails are
always proportioned to the circumstances which, in each case, have led to its commission.
The one punishment which none can escape who have committed suicide is disappointment;
the rest of their punishment depends on circumstances. Some of those who have killed
themselves expiate their fault at once; others do so in a new earthly life harder to bear than
the one whose course they have interrupted."
Observation has confirmed the statement that the consequences of suicide are not the same in all cases;
but it has also shown us that some of those consequences, resulting from the sudden interruption of life,
are the same in all cases of violent death. Foremost among these Is the greater tenacity and consequent
persistence of the link that unites the spirit and the body, which link. In nearly all such cases, is in its full
strength at the moment when it is broken; whereas, when death is the result of natural causes, that link
has been gradually weakened, and is often severed before life is completely extinct. The consequences of
violent death are, first, the prolongation of the mental confusion which usually follows death, and, next,
the illusion which causes a spirit, during a longer or shorter period, to believe himself to be still living in
the earthly life. (155, 165.)
The affinity which continues to exist between the spirit and the body produces, in the case of some of
those who have committed suicide, a sort of repercussion of the state of the body in the consciousness of
the spirit, who is thus compelled to perceive the effects of its decomposition, and experiences therefrom a
sensation of intense anguish and horror; a state which may continue as long as the life which he has
interrupted ought to have lasted. This state is not a necessary result of suicide; but he who has voluntarily
shortened his life can never escape the consequences of his want of courageous endurance; sooner or
later, and In some way or other, he is made to expiate his fault. Thus, many spirits who had been very
unhappy upon the earth have stated that they had committed suicide In their preceding existence, and
that they had voluntarily submitted to new trials in order to try to bear them with more resignation. In
some cases the result of suicide is a sort of connection with terrestrial matter, from which they vainly
endeavour to free themselves, that they may rise to happier worlds, access to which is denied to them; in
other cases it Is regret for having done something useless, and from which they have reaped only
Religion. morality, all systems of philosophy, condemn suicide as being contrary to the law of nature; all
lay it down as a principle that we have no right to voluntary shorten our life; but why have we not that
right? Why are we not at liberty to put an end to our sufferings? It was reserved for Spiritism to show, by
the example of those who have succumbed to that temptation, that suicide is not only a fault, as being an
infraction of a moral law (a consideration of little weight with some persons), but is also a piece of
stupidity, since no benefit is to be gained by it, but quite the contrary. The teachings of Spiritism in
regard to this subject are not merely theoretic ; for it places the facts of the case before our eyes.
Annihilation - Future Life.
958. Why has man an instinctive horror of the idea of annihilation?
"Because there is no such thing as nothingness."
959. Whence does man derive the instinctive sentiment of a future life?
"From the knowledge of that life possessed by his spirit previous to his incarnation; the soul
retaining a vague remembrance of what it knew in its spirit-state."
In all ages, man has occupied himself with the question of a future beyond the grave; and it is natural that
he should have done so. Whatever importance he may attach to the present life, he cannot help seeing
how brief it is, and how precarious, since it may be cut short at any moment, so that he is never sure of
the morrow. What becomes of him after death? The query is a serious one, for it refers, not to time, but to
eternity. He who is about to spend many years in a foreign country endeavours' to ascertain beforehand
what will be his position there; how, then, is it possible for us not to inquire what will be our state on
quitting our present life, since it will be for ever?
The idea of annihilation Is repugnant to reason. The most thoughtless of men, when about to quit this life,
asks himself what Is going to become of him, and Involuntarily indulges in hope. To believe in God
without believing in a future life would be illogical. The presentiment of a better life is In the inner
consciousness of all men. God cannot have placed it there for nothing.
The idea of a nature life implies the preservation of our individuality after death ; for what good would It
do us to survive our body, if our moral essence were to be lost in the ocean of infinity? Such a result
would be, for us, the same as annihilation.
Intuition of Future Joys and Sorrows
960. Whence comes the belief in future rewards and punishments which is found among all
"It is a presentiment of the reality imparted to each man by the spirit incarnated in him. This
internal voice does not speak to him without a purpose; he is wrong in giving so little heed to
it. If he listened to it more often and more heedfully, it would be better for him."
961. What is the predominant sentiment at the moment of death Is it doubt, fear, or hope?
"Doubt with the sceptical, fear with the guilty, hope with the good."
962. How is it that there are sceptics, since the soul imparts to each man the sentiment of
spiritual things?
"There are fewer sceptics than you suppose. Many of those who, from pride, affect scepticism
during life, are a good deal less sceptical when they come to die."
The doctrine of moral responsibility is a consequence of the belief In a future life. Reason and our sense of
justice tell us that, in the apportionment of the happiness to which all men aspire, the good and the
wicked could not be confounded together. God could not will that some men should obtain, without effort,
blessings Which others only obtain through persevering exertion.
Our conviction of the justice and goodness of God, as evidenced by the justice and goodness of His laws,
forbids us to suppose that the good and the bad can occupy the same place in His sight, or to doubt that.
sooner or later, the former will receive a reward, and the latter a chastisement, for the good and the evil
they have done. And thus, from our Innate sense of justice, we derive our intuition of the rewards and
punishments of the future.
Intervention of God in Rewards and Punishments.
963. Does God concern Himself personally about each man? Is He not too great, and are we
not too small, for each individual to be of any importance in His sight?
"God concerns Himself about all the beings He has created, however small they may be;
nothing is too minute for His goodness."
964. Has God to concern Himself about each of our actions in order to reward or to punish
"God's laws apply to all your actions. When a man violates one of those laws, God does not
pronounce sentence on him by saying, for example, 'You have been gluttonous; I shall punish
you for it.' But He has traced a limit to appetite. Maladies, and even death, are the
consequence of overstepping that limit. Punishment, in all cases, is a result of the infraction
of a law."
All our actions are subjected to the laws of God; and any wrong doing en our part, however unimportant
It may seem to us, is a violation of those laws. When we undergo the consequences of such violation, we
have only ourselves to thank for It; for we are the sole authors of our happiness or unhappiness, as Is
shown in the following apologue : -
"A father has educated and Instructed his child-that Is to say, he has given him the means of knowing
how to guide himself in the affairs of life. He makes over to him a piece of land to cultivate, and says to
him, 'I have given you the practical directions, and all the necessary implements, for rendering this land
productive, and thereby gaining your living. I have given you all the instruction needed for understanding
those directions. If you follow them, your land will yield abundant harvests, and will furnish you
wherewithal to obtain repose in your old age; if you do not, it will bear nothing but weeds, and you will
die of hunger. And having said this, he leaves him free to act as he pleases."
Is it not true that the land thus given will produce exactly in the ratio of the skill and care bestowed on its
cultivation, and that any mistake or negligence on the part of the son will have an injurious effect on its
productiveness? The son will therefore be well or ill off in his old age, according as he has followed or
neglected the directions given to him by his father. God is still more provident than the earthly father, for
He tells us, every moment, whether we are doing right or doing wrong, through the spirits whom He
constantly sends to counsel us, though we do not always heed them. There is also this further differenceviz.,
that, if the son of whom we have been speaking has misemployed or wasted his time, he has no
opportunity of repairing his past mistakes, whereas, God always gives to man the means, through new
existences, of doing this.
Nature of Future Joys and Sorrows.
965. Is there anything of materiality in the joys and sorrows of the soul after death?
"Common-sense tells you that they cannot be of a material nature, because the soul is not
matter. There is nothing carnal in those joys and sorrows; and yet they are a thousand times
more vivid than those you experience upon the earth; because the spirit when freed from
matter is more impressionable; matter deadens its sensibility." (237-257.)
966. Why does man often form to himself so gross and absurd an idea of the joys and sorrows
of the future life?
"Because his intelligence is still but imperfectly developed. Does the child comprehend as
does the adult ? Besides, his idea of a future life is often a result of the teachings to which he
has been subjected-teachings that are urgently in need of reform.
"Your language being too incomplete to express what lies beyond the range of your present
existence, it has been necessary to address you through comparisons borrowed from that
existence, and you have mistaken the images and figures thus employed for realities; but, in
proportion as man becomes enlightened, his thought comprehends much that his language is
unable to express."
967. In what does the happiness of perfected spirits consist?
"In knowing all things; in feeling neither hatred, jealousy,
envy, ambition, nor any of the passions that make men unhappy. Their mutual affection is for
them a source of supreme felicity. They have none of the wants, sufferings, or anxieties of
material life; they are happy in the good they do, for the happiness of spirits is always
proportioned to their elevation. The highest happiness, it is true, is enjoyed only by spirits
who are perfectly purified; but the others are not unhappy. Between the had ones and those
who have reached perfection, there is an infinity of gradations of elevation and of happiness;
for the enjoyments of each spirit are always proportioned to his moral state. Those who have
already achieved a certain degree of advancement have a presentiment of the happiness of
those who are further on than themselves; they aspire after that higher happiness, but it is for
them an object of emulation, and not of jealousy. They know that it depends on themselves to
attain to it, and they labour to that end, but with the calmness of a good conscience; and they
are happy in not having to suffer what is endured by evil spirits."
968. You place the absence of material wants among the conditions of happiness for spirits;
but is not the satisfaction of those wants a source of enjoyment for mankind?
"Yes, of animal enjoyment; but when men cannot satisfy those wants, they are tortured by
969. What are we to understand when it is said that the purified spirits are gathered into the
bosom of God, and employed in singing His praises?
"The statement is an allegorical picture of the knowledge they possess of the perfections of
God, because they see and comprehend Him; but you must not take it literally, any more than
other statements of a similar character. Everything in nature, from the grain of sand upwards.
'sings'-that is to say, proclaims the power, wisdom, and goodness of God; but you must not
suppose that spirits of the highest order are absorbed in an eternal contemplation, which
would be a monotonous and stupid would be a perpetual uselessness. They have no longer to
undergo the tribulations of corporeal life, an exemption which is itself an enjoyment; and,
besides, as we have told you, they know and comprehend all things, and make use of the
intelligence they have acquired in aiding the progress of other spirits; and they find enjoyment
in this order of occupation."
970. In what do the sufferings of inferior spirits consist?
"Those sufferings are as various as are the causes by which they are produced, and are
proportioned to the degree of inferiority of each spirit, as the enjoyments of the higher spirits
are proportioned to their several degrees of superiority. They may be summed up thus -The
sight of happiness to which they are unable to attain; envy of the superiority which renders
other spirits happy, and which they see to be lacking in themselves; regret, jealousy, rage,
despair, in regard to what prevents them from being happy; remorse and indescribable moral
anguish. They long for all sorts of enjoyments; and are tortured by their inability to satisfy
their cravings."
971. Is the influence exercised by spirits over one another always good?
"It is always good on the part of good spirits; but perverse spirits endeavour to draw aside
from the path of repentance and amendment those whom they think are susceptible of being
misled, and whom they have often led into evil during their earthly life."
- Death, then, does not deliver us from temptation?
"No, but the action of evil spirits is much less powerful over other spirits than over men,
because they no longer have the material passions of the tempted for auxiliaries." (996.)
972. In what way do evil spirits bring temptation to bear upon other spirits, since they have
not the passions to work upon?
"If the passions no longer exist materially, they still exist in thought, on the part of spirits of
slight advancement; and the evil ones keep up impure thoughts in their victims by taking
them to places where they witness the exercise of those passions, and whatever tends to excite
- But what end do those passions subserve, since they have no longer any real object?
"That is just what constitutes the tortures of the spirit-life. The miser sees gold which he
cannot possess; the debauchee, orgies in which he can take no part; the haughty, honours
which he envies, but cannot share."
973. What are the greatest sufferings that can be endured by wicked spirits?
"It is utterly impossible to describe the mental tortures that are the punishment of some
crimes; even those by whom they are experienced would find it difficult to give you an idea
of them.
But, assuredly, the most frightful of them all is the sufferer s belief that his condemnation is
unchangeable and for all eternity."
Men form to themselves, in regard to the joys and sorrows of the soul after death, a conception more or
less elevated according to the state of their intelligence. The greater a man's degree of development, the
more refined and the more divested of materiality is his idea of them; the more rational is the view he
takes of the subject, and the less literally does he understand the images of figurative language in regard
to them. Enlightened reason, in teaching us that the soul is an entirely spiritual being, teaches us also that
it cannot be affected by impressions that act only upon matter; but it does not follow there from that is
exempt from suffering, or that it does not undergo the punishment of its wrongdoing. (237.)
The communications made to us by spirits show us the future state of the soul, no longer as a matter of
theory, but as a reality. They bring before us all the incidents of the life beyond the grave ; but they also
show us that they are the natural consequences of the terrestrial life, and that, although divested of the
fantastic accompaniments created by the imagination of men, they are none the less painful for those who,
in this life, have made a bad use of their faculties. The diversity of those consequences is infinite, but may
be summed up by saying that each soul is punished by that wherein it has sinned. It is thus that some are
punished by the incessant sight of the evil they have done; others, by regret, fear, shame, doubt, isolation,
darkness, separation from those who are dear to them, etc.
974. Whence comes the doctrine of eternal fire?
"From taking a figure of speech for a reality, as men have done in so many instances."
- But may not this fear lead to a useful result?
"Look around you, and see whether there are many who are restrained by it, even among
those by whom it is inculcated. If you teach what is contrary to reason, the impression you
make will be neither durable nor salutary."
Human language being powerless to express the nature of the sufferings of spirit-life, man has been
unable to desvise any more appropriate comparison for them than that of flee, because, for him, fire is at
once the type of the most excruciating torture, and the symbol of the most energetic action. It is for this
reason that the belief in "everlasting burning" has been held from the earliest antiquity and transmitted
by succeeding generations to the present day ; and it is for this reason, also, that all nations speak, in
common parlance, of "fiery passions," of "burning love," "burning hate," "burning with jealousy," etc.
975. Do inferior spirits comprehend the happiness of the righteous?
"Yes; and that happiness is a source of torment for them, for they understand that they are
deprived of it through their own fault; but it also leads a spirit, when freed from matter, to
aspire after a new corporeal existence, because every such existence, if well employed, will
shorten the duration of that torment. It is thus that he makes choice of the trials through which
he will be enabled to expiate his faults; for you must remember that each spirit suffers for all
the evil he has done or of which he has been
the voluntary cause, for all the good which he might have done and which he did not do, and
for all the evil that has resulted from his having failed to do the good he might have done."
"In the state of erraticity, a spirit's sight is no longer veiled; it is as though he had emerged
from a fog and saw the obstacles that intervene between him and happiness, and he therefore
suffers all the more, because he understands the full extent of his culpability. For him,
illusion is no longer possible; he sees things as they really are."
A spirit, when errant, embraces, on the one hand, all his past existences at a glance: on the other, he
foresees the future promised to him, and comprehends what he lacks for its attainment. He is like a
traveller who, having reached the top of a hill, beholds both the road over which he has already travelled,
and that by which he has still to go in order to reach the end of his journey.
976. Is not the sight of spirits who suffer a cause of affliction for the good ones? And, if so,
what becomes of the happiness of the latter, that happiness being thus impaired?
"Good spirits are not distressed by the suffering of those who are a lower point than
themselves, because they know that it will have an end; they aid those who suffer to become
better, and lend them a helping hand. To do this is their occupation, and is a joy for them
when they succeed."
- This is comprehensible on the part of spirits who are strangers to them, and who take no
special interest in them; but does not the sight of their sorrows and sufferings disturb the
happiness of the spirits who have loved them upon the earth?
"If spirits did not see your troubles, it would prove that they become estranged from you after
death, whereas all religions teach you that the souls of the departed continue to see you; but
they regard your afflictions from another point of view. They know that those sufferings will
aid your advancement if you bear them with resignation; and they are consequently more
pained by the want of fortitude which keeps you back, than by sufferings which they know to
be only temporary."
977. Spirits being unable to hide their thoughts from one another, and all the acts of their
lives being known, does it follow that those who have wronged their fellows are always in
presence of their victims?
"Common sense might suffice to tell you that it cannot be otherwise.
- Is this divulging of all his evil deeds, and the perpetual presence of those who have been the
victims of them, a chastisement for the guilty spirit?
"Yes, and a heavier one than you may suppose it to be; but it only lasts until he has expiated
his wrong-doing, either as a spirit, or as a man in new corporeal existences."
When we find ourselves in the world of spirits, all our past will be brought into view, and the good the
evil that we have done will be equally known. In vain would the malefactor seek to avoid the sight of his
victims; their presence, from which he cannot possibly escape, will be for him a punishment and a source
of remorse until he has expiated the wrongs he has done them, while the spirit of the upright man will
find himself constantly surrounded by kindness and good-will.
Even upon the earth there is no greater torment for the wicked man than the presence of his victims,
whom he does his utmost to avoid. What will it be when, the illusions of the passions being dissipated, he
comprehends the evil he has done, sees his most secret actions brought to light and his hypocrisy
unmasked, and perceives that he cannot hide himself from the sight of those he has wronged? But, while
the soul of the wicked is thus a prey to shame, regret, and remorse, that of the righteous enjoys perfect
978. Does not the remembrance of the faults committed by the soul, during its state of
imperfection, disturb its happiness even after it has attained to purity?
"No, because it has redeemed its faults, and has come forth victorious from the trials to which
it had submitted for that purpose."
979. Does not the prevision of the trials it has still to undergo, in order to complete its
purification, excite in the soul a painful apprehension that must lessen its happiness?
"Yes, in the case of a soul who is still soiled by evil, and therefore it can only enjoy perfect
happiness when it has become perfectly pure. But for souls who have attained to a certain
degree of elevation, the thought of the trials they have still to undergo has in it nothing
The soul, arrived at a certain degree of purification, has already a foretaste of happiness. It is pervaded
by a feeling of satisfaction, and is happy in all that it sees, in all that surrounds it. The veil which covers
the marvels and mysteries of creation being already partially raised for it, the divine perfections begin to
be perceived by it in their splendour.
980. Is the sympathic link which unites spirits of the same order a source of felicity for them?
"The union of spirits who sympathise in the love of goodness is one of their highest
enjoyments, for they have no fear of seeing that union disturbed by selfishness. In worlds
altogether spiritual, they form families animated by the same sentiment, and this union
constitutes the happiness of those worlds, as in your world you
group yourselves into categories, and experience pleasure in being thus brought together. The
pure and sincere affection felt by elevated spirits, and of which they are the object, is a source
of felicity, for there are neither false friends nor hypocrites among them."
Man enjoys the first-fruits of this felicity upon the earth when he meets with those with whom he can
enter into cordial and noble union. In a life of greater purity than that of the earth, this felicity becomes
ineffable and unbounded, because their inhabitants meet only with sympathetic souls whose affection will
not be chilled by selfishness. For love is life; it is selfishness that kills.
981. Is there, as regards the future state of spirits, any difference between him who, during
his earthly life, was afraid of death, and him 'who looked forward to it with indifference, or
even with joy?
"There may be a very considerable difference between them, though this is often obliterated
by the causes which gave rise to that fear or that desire. Those who dread death, and those
who desire it, may be moved by very different sentiments, and it is those sentiments which
determine the state of a spirit. For instance, it is evident that, if a man only desires death
because it will put an end to his tribulations, that desire is, in reality, a sort of murmuring
against Providence, and against the trials which lie has to undergo."
982. Is it necessary to make a profession of Spiritism, and to believe in spirit-manifestations,
in order to ensure our well-being in the next life?
"If it were so, it would follow that those who do not believe in them, or who have not even
had the opportunity of learning anything about them, will be disinherited, which would be
absurd. It is right-doing that ensures future well-being; and right-doing is always right-doing,
whatever may be the path that leads to it." (165-799.)
Belief in Spiritism aids our self-improvement by clearing our ideas in regard to the future; it hastens the
progress and advancement of individuals and of the masses. because it enables us to ascertain 'what we
shall some day be, and is at once a beacon and a support. Spiritism teaches us to bear our trials 'with
patience and resignation, turns us from the wrong-doing that would delay our future happiness, and
contributes to our attainment of that happiness; but it does not follow that we may not attain to that
happiness without it.
Temporal Sorrows.
983. Does not a spirit, when expiating its faults in a new existence, undergo material
suffering, and, that being the case, is it
correct to say that, after death, the soul experiences only moral sufferings?
"It is very true that, when the soul is reincarnated, it is made to suffer by the tribulations of
corporeal life; but it is only the body that undergoes material suffering.
"You often say, of one who is dead, that he is released from suffering; but this is not always
true. As a spirit, he has no more physical sufferings; but, according to the faults he has
coinmitted, he may have to bear moral sufferings still more severe, and, in a new existence,
he may be still more unhappy. He who has made a selfish use of riches' will have to beg his
bread, and will be a prey to all the privations of poverty; the proud will undergo humiliations
of every kind; he who has misused his authority, and treated his subordinates with disdain and
harshness, will be forced to obey a master still harder than himself. All the tribulations of life
are the expiation of faults committed in a preceding existence, when they are not the
consequence of faults committed in the present one. When you have quitted your present life,
you will understand this. (273, 393, 399.)
"He who, in the earthly life, esteems himself happy because he is able to satisfy his passions,
makes few efforts at self-improvement. Such ephemeral happiness is often expiated in the
present life, but will certainly be expiated in another existence equally material."
984. Are the troubles of our earthly life always the punishment of faults committed by us in
our present lifetime?
"No; we have already told you that they are trials imposed on you by God, or chosen by you
in the spirit-state, and before your reincarnation, for the expiation of faults committed by you
in a former existence; for no infraction of the laws of God, and especially of the law of
justice, ever remains unpunished, and if it be not expiated in the same life, it will certainly be
so in another. This is why persons whom you regard as excellent are so often made to suffer;
they are stricken in their present life for the faults of their past existences." (393.)
985. When a soul is reincarnated in a world less gross than the earth, is such a reincarnation
a reward?
"It is a consequence of its higher degree of purification; for, in proportion as spirits become
purified, they reincarnate themselves in worlds of progressively higher degrees, until, having
themselves of all materiality and washed themselves clean of all stains, they enter on the
eternal felicity of the fully purified spirits in the presence of God."
In worlds in which the conditions of existence are less material than in ours, the wants of their inhabitants
are less gross, and their physical sufferings are less acute. The men of those worlds no longer possess the
evil passions which, in lower worlds, make them each other's enemies. Having no motives for hatred or
jealousy, they live in peace with one another, because they practise the law of justice, of love, and of
charity and they therefore know nothing of the worries and anxieties that come of envy, pride, and
selfishness, and that make the torment of our terrestrial existence. (172, 182.)
986. Can a spirit who has progressed in his terrestrial existence be reincarnated in the same
"Yes; and if he have not been able to accomplish his mission, he may himself demand to
complete it in a new existence; but, in that case, it is no longer an expiation for him." (173.)
987. What becomes of the man who, without doing evil, does nothing to shake off the
influence of matter?
"Since he has made no progress towards perfection, he has to begin a new existence of the
same nature as the one he has quitted. He remains stationary; and thus prolongs the sufferings
of expiation."
988. There are persons whose life flows on in a perfect calm; who, having nothing to do for
themselves, are exempt from all cares. Is their good fortune a proof that they have nothing to
expiate from any former existence?
"Do you know many such ? If you think you do, you are mistaken. Such lives are often only
calm in appearance. A spirit may have chosen such an existence; but he perceives, after
quitting it, that it has not served to bring him on, and he then regrets the time he has wasted in
idleness. Bear well in mind that a spirit can only acquire knowledge and elevation through
activity; that, if he supinely falls asleep, he does not advance. He is like one who (according
to your usages) needs to work, but who goes off for a ramble, or goes to bed, with the
intention of doing nothing. Bear well in mind, also, that each of you will have to answer for
voluntary uselessness on your part, and that such uselessness is always fatal to your future
happiness. The sum of that happiness is always exactly proportioned to the sum of the good
that you have done; the sum of your unhappiness is always proportioned to the sum of the evil
that you have done, and to the number of those whom you have rendered unhappy."
989. There are persons who, without being Positively wicked, render all about them unhappy
by their ill-temper; what is, for them, the consequence of this?
"Such persons are assuredly not good, and they will expiate this wrong by the sight of those
whom they have rendered unhappy, which will be a constant reproach for them; and then, in
another existence, they will endure all that they have caused to be endured by others."
Expiation and Repentance
990. Does repentance take place in the corporeal state, or in the spiritual state?
"In the spiritual state; but it may also take place in the corporeal state, when you clearly
comprehend the difference between good and evil."
991. What is the consequence of repentance in the spiritual state?
"The desire for a new incarnation, in order to become purified. The spirit perceives the
imperfections which deprive him of happiness; and he therefore aspires after a new existence
in which he will be able to expiate his faults." (332, 975).
992. What is the consequence of repentance in the corporeal state?
"The spirit will advance even in his present life, if he have the time to repair his faults.
Whenever your conscience reproaches you, or shows you an imperfection, you may always
become better."
993. Are there not men who have only the instinct of evil, and are inaccessible to repentance?
"I have told you that progress must be incessant. He who, in his present life, has only the
instinct of evil, will have the instinct of goodness in another one, and it is to effect this end
that he is re-born many times. For all must advance, all must reach the goal; but some do this
more quickly, others more slowly, according to the energy of their desire. He who has only
the instinct of good is already purified, for he may have had that of evil in an anterior
existence." (804.)
994. Does the perverted spirit who has not recognised his faults during his life always
recognise them after his death?
"Yes; he always does so, and lie then suffers all the more, for he feels all the evil he has done,
or of which he has been the voluntary cause. Nevertheless, repentance is not always
immediate. There are spirits who obstinately persist in doing wrong, notwithstanding their
sufferings; but, sooner or later, they will see that have taken the wrong road, and repentance
will follow this discovery. It is to their enlightenment that the efforts of the higher spirits are
directed, and that you may usefully direct your own."
995. Are there spirits who, without being wicked, ape indifferent about their own fate?
"There are spirits who do not occupy themselves with anything useful, but are in a state of
expectancy. In such cases they suffer in proportion to their inactivity; for all states and
conditions must conduce to progress, and with them, this progress is effected by the suffering
they experience."
- Have they no desire to shorten their sufferings?
"They have that desire, undoubtedly; but they have not sufficient energy to do what would
give them relief. Are there not among you many who prefer to starve rather than to work?"
996. Since spirits see the harm that is done them by their imperfections, how is it that any of
them Persist in aggravating their Position, and prolonging their state of inferiority, by doing
evil, as spirits, in turning men aside from the right road?
"It is those whose repentance is tardy that act thus. A spirit who repents may afterwards allow
himself to be drawn back into the wrong road by other spirits still more backward than
himself." (971.)
997. We sometimes find that spirits, who are evidently of very he who, urged on by pride,
revolts against God, persisting in his touched by the prayers offered for them. How is it that
others, whom we have reason to believe are more enlightened, show a hardness and a
cynicism that no efforts can vanquish?
"Prayer is only efficacious in the case of spirits who repent; he who, urged on by pride,
revolts against God, persisting in his wrong-doing, and perhaps going even more widely
astray, cannot be acted upon by prayer, and can only derive benefit therefrom when a
glimmering of repentance shall have shown itself in him." (664.)
We must not lose sight of the fact that a spirit, after the death of his body. is not suddenly transformed. If
his life have been reprehensible, it has been so because he was imperfect. But death does not render him
perfect all at once he may in his wrong-doing, his false ideas, his prejudices, until he has become
enlightened by study, reflection, and suffering.
998. Is expiation accomplished in the corporeal state, or in the spirit-state?
"Expiation is accomplished during the corporeal existence, through the trials to which the
spirit is subjected; and, in the spirit-state, through the moral sufferings belonging to the
spirit's state of inferiority."
999. Does sincere repentance during the earthly life suffice to efface the faults of that life,
and to restore the wrong-doer to the favour of God?
"Repentance helps forward the amelioration of the spirit, but all wrongdoing has to be
- That being the case, if a criminal should say, "Since I must necessarily expiate my past, I
have no need to repent," what effect would it have upon him?
"If he harden himself in the thought of evil. his expiation will be longer and more painful."
1000. Can we, in the present life, redeem our faults?
"Yes, by making reparation for them. But do not suppose that you can redeem them by a few
trifling privations, or by giving, after your death, what you can no longer make use of. God
does not value a sterile repentance, a mere smiting of the breast, easily done. The loss of a
little finger in doing good to others effaces more wrong doing than any amount of self-torture
undergone solely with a view to one's own interest. (726.)
"Evil can only be atoned for by good; and attempts at reparation are valueless if they touch
neither a man's pride nor his worldly interests.
"How can his rehabilitation be subserved by the restitution of ill-gotten wealth after his death,
when it has become useless to him, and when he has already profited by it ?
"What benefit can he derive from the privation of a few futile enjoyments and of a few
superfluities, if the wrong he has done to others is not undone ?
"What, in truth, is the use of his humbling himself before God, if he keeps up his pride before
men?" (720, 721.)
1001. Is there no merit in ensuring the useful employment, after our death, of 'he property
possessed by us?
"To say that there is no merit so doing would not be correct; it is always better than doing
nothing. But the misfortune is, that he who only gives after his death is often moved rather by
selfishness than by generosity; he wishes to have the honour of doing good without its costing
him anything. He who imposes privation upon himself during his life reaps a double profitthe
merit of his sacrifice, and the pleasure of witnessing the happiness he has caused. But
selfishness is apt to whisper, 'Whatever you give away is so much cut off from your own
enjoyments;' and as the voice of selfishness is usually more persuasive than that of
disinterestedness and charity, it too often leads a man to keep what he has, under pretext of
the necessities of his position. He is to be pitied who knows not the pleasure of giving; for he
is deprived of one of the purest and sweetest of enjoyments. In subjecting a man to the trial of
wealth, so slippery, and so dangerous for his future, God placed within his reach, by way of
compensation, the happiness which generosity may procure for him, even in his present life."
1002. What will become of him who, in the act of dying, acknowledges his wrong-doing, but
has not time to make reparation? Does repentance suffice in such a case?
"Repentance will hasten his rehabilitation, but it does not absolve him. Has he not the future,
which will never be closed against him?"
Duration of Future Penalties.
1003. Is the duration of the sufferings of the guilty, in the future life, arbitrary or subordinate
to a low?
"God never acts from caprice; everything in the universe is ruled by laws which reveal His
wisdom and His goodness."
1004. What decides the duration of the sufferings of the guilty?
"The length of time required for his amelioration. A spirit's state of suffering or of happiness
being proportioned to tile degree of his purification, the duration of his sufferings, as well as
their nature, depends on the time it takes him to become better. In proportion as he
progresses, and his sentiments become purified, his sufferings diminish and change their
1005. Does time appear, to the suffering spirit, longer or shorter than in the earthly life?
"It appears longer; sleep does not exist for him. It is only for spirits arrived at a certain degree
of purification that time is merged, so to say with infinity." (240)
1006. Could a spirit suffer eternally?
"Undoubtedly, if he remained eternally wicked; that is to say, if he were never to repent nor to
amend, he would suffer eternally. But God has not created beings to let them remain for ever
a prey to evil; He created them only in a state of simplicity and ignorance, and all of them
must progress, in a longer or shorter time, according to the action of their will. The
determination to advance may be awakened more or less tardily, as the development of
children is more or less precocious; but it will he stimulated, sooner or later, by the
irresistible desire of the spirit himself to escape from his state of inferiority, and to be happy.
The law which regulates the duration of a spirit's sufferings is, therefore, eminently wise and
beneficent, since it makes that duration to depend on his own efforts; he is never deprived of
his free-will, but, if he makes a bad use of it, he will have to bear the consequences of his
1007. Are there spirits who never repent?
"There are some whose repentance is delayed for a very long time; but to suppose that they
will never improve would be to deny the law of progress, and to assert that the child will
never become a man."
1008. Does the duration of a spirit's punishment always depend on his own will, and is it
never imposed on him for a given time?
"Yes; punishment may be imposed on him for a fixed time, but God, who wills only the good
of His creatures, always welcomes his repentance, and the desire to amend never remains
1009. According to that, the penalties imposed on spirits are never eternal?
"Interrogate your common sense, your reason, and ask yourself whether an eternal
condemnation for a few moments of error would not be the negation of the goodness of God ?
What, in fact, is the duration of a human life, even though prolonged to a hundred years, in
comparison with eternity? ETERNITY! Do you rightly comprehend the word? sufferings,
tortures, without end, without hope, for a few faults! Does not your judgement reject
such an idea? That the ancients should have seen, in the Master of the Universe, a terrible,
jealous, vindictive God, is conceivable, for, in their ignorance, they attributed to the Divinity
the passions of men; but such is not the God of the Christians, who places love, charity, pity,
the forgetfulness of offences, in the foremost rank of virtues, and who could not lack the
qualities which He has made it the duty of His creatures to possess. Is it not a contradiction to
attribute to Him infinite love and infinite vengeance? You say that God's justice is infinite,
transcending the limited understanding of mankind; but justice does not exclude kindness,
and God would not be kind if He condemned the greater number of His creatures to horrible
and unending punishment. Could He make it obligatory on His children to be just, if His own
action towards them did not give them the most perfect standard of justice? And is it not the
very sublimity of justice and of kindness to make the duration of punishment to depend on the
efforts of the guilty one to amend, and to mete out the appropriate recompense, both for good
and for evil, 'to each, according to his works'?"
"Set yourselves, by every means in your power, to combat and to annihilate the idea of eternal
punishment, which is a blasphemy against the justice and goodness of God, and the principal
source of the scepticism, materialism, and indifferentism that have invaded the masses since
their intelligence has begun to be developed When once a mind has received enlightenment,
in however slight a degree, the monstrous injustice of such an idea is immediately perceived;
reason rejects it, and rarely fails to confound, in the same ostracism, the penalty against which
it revolts and the God to whom that penalty is attributed. Hence the numberless ills which
have burst upon you, and for which we come to bring you a remedy. The task we point out to
you will be all the easier because the defenders of this belief have avoided giving a positive
opinion in regard to it; neither the Councils nor the Fathers of the Church have definitely
settled this weighty question. If Christ, according to the Evangelists and the literal
interpretation of His allegorical utterances, threatens the guilty with a fire that is
unquenchable, there is absolutely nothing in those utterances to prove that they are
condemned to remain in that fire eternally.
"Hapless sheep that have gone astray! behold, advancing towards you, the Good Shepherd
who, so far from intending to drive you
for ever from His presence, comes Himself to seek you, that He may lead you back to the
fold! Prodigal children! renounce your voluntary exile, and turn your steps towards the
paternal dwelling! Your Father, with arms already opened to receive you, is waiting to
welcome you back to your home!"
"Wars of words! wars of words! has not enough blood been already shed for words, and must
the fires of the stake he rekindled for them ? Men dispute about the words 'eternal
punishments,' 'everlasting burnings;' but do you not know that what you now understand by
eternity was not understood in the same way by the ancients ? Let the theologian consult the
sources of his faith, and he, like the rest of you, will see that, in the Hebrew text, the word
which the Greeks, the Latins, and the moderns, have translated as endless and irremissible
punishment, has not the same meaning. Eternity of punishment corresponds to eternity of
evil. Yes; so long as evil continues to exist among you, so long will punishment continue to
exist; it is in this relative sense that the sacred texts should be interpreted. The eternity of
punishments, therefore, is not absolute, but relative. Let a day come when all men shall have
donned, through repentance, the robe of innocence, and, on that day, there will be no more
weeping, wailing, or gnashing of teeth. Your human reason is, in truth, of narrow scope; but,
such as it is, it is a gift of God, and there is no man of right feeling who, with the aid of that
reason, can understand the eternity of punishment in any other sense. If we admit the eternity
of punishment, we must also admit that evil will be eternal; but God alone is eternal, and He
could not have created an eternal evil, without plucking from His attributes the most
magnificent of them all, viz., His sovereign power; for he who creates an element destructive
of his works is not sovereignly powerful. Plunge no more thy mournful glance, 0 human race!
into the entrails of the earth, in search of chastisements ! Weep, but hope; expiate, but take
comfort in the thought of a God who is entirely loving, absolutely powerful, essentially just."
"Union with the Divine Being is the aim of human existence. To the attainment of this aim
three things are necessary-knowledge, love justice: three things are contrary to this aimignorance,
hatred, injustice. You are false to these fundamental principles when you falsify
the idea of God by exaggerating His severity; thus suggesting to the mind of the creature that
there is in it
more clemency, long-suffering, love, and true justice, than you attribute to the Creator. You
destroy the very idea of retribution by rendering it as inadmissible, by your minds, as is, by
your hearts, the policy of the Middle Ages, with its hideous array of torturers, executioners,
and the stake. When the principle of indiscriminating retaliation has been banished for ever
from human legislation, can you hope to make men believe that principle to be the rule of the
Divine Government ? Believe me, brothers in God and in Jesus Christ, you must either resign
yourselves to let all your dogmas perish in your hands rather than modify them, or you must
revivify them by opening them to the beneficent action that good spirits are now bringing to
bear on them. The idea of a hell full of glowing furnaces and boiling cauldrons might be
credible in an age of iron; in the nineteenth century it can be nothing more than an empty
phantom, capable, at the utmost, of frightening little children, and by which the children
themselves will no longer be frightened when they are a little bigger. By your persistence in
upholding mythic terrors, you engender incredulity, source of every sort of social
disorganisation; and I tremble at beholding the very foundations of social order shaken, and
crumbling into dust, for want of an authoritative code of penality. Let all those who are
animated by a living and ardent faith, heralds of the coming day, unite their efforts, not to
keep up antiquated fables now fallen into disrepute, but to resuscitate and revivify the true
idea of penality, under forms in harmony with the usages, sentiments, and enlightenment of
your epoch.
"What, in fact, is 'a sinner' ? One who, by a deviation from the right road, by a false
movement of the soul. has swerved from the true aim of his creation, which consists in the
harmonious worship of the Beautiful, the Good, as embodied in the archetype of humanity,
the Divine Exemplar, Jesus Christ.
"What is 'chastisement' ? The natural, derivative consequence of that false movement; the
amount of pain necessary to disgust the sinner with his departure from rectitude, by his
experience of the suffering caused by that departure. Chastisement is the goad which, by the
smarting it occasions, decides the soul to cut short its wanderings, and to return into the right
road. The sole aim of chastisement is rehabilitation; and therefore, to assume the eternity of
chastisement is to deprive it of all reason for existing.
"Cease, I beseech you, the attempt to establish a parallelism of duration between good,
essence of the Creator, and evil, essence
of the creature; for, in so doing, you establish a standard of penality that is utterly without
justification. Affirm, on the contrary, the gradual diminution of imperfections and of
chastisements through successive existences, and you consecrate the doctrine of the union of
the creature with the Creator by the reconciliation of justice with mercy."
It is desired to stimulate men to the acquisition of virtue, and to turn them from vice, by the hope of
reward and the fear of punishment but. if the threatened punishment is represented under conditions
repugnant to reason, not only will it fail of its aim, but it will lead men, in rejecting those conditions, to
reject the very idea of punishment itself. But let the idea of future rewards and punishments be presented
to their mind under a reasonable form, and they will not reject it. This reasonable explanation of the
subject is given by the teachings of Spiritism.
The doctrine of eternal punishment makes an implacable God of the Supreme Being. Would it be
reasonable to say of a sovereign that he is very kind, very benevolent. very indulgent, that he only desires
the happiness of all around him, but that he is, at the same time, jealous, vindictive, inflexibly severe, and
that he punishes three-quarters of his subjects with the most terrific tortures, for any offence, or any
infraction of his laws, even when their imputed fault has resulted simply from their ignorance of the laws
they have transgressed? Would there not be an evident contradiction in such a statement of the
sovereign's character? And can God's action be less consistent than that of a man?
The doctrine in question presents another contradiction. Since God fore-knows all things, He must have
known, in creating a soul. that it would transgress His laws. and it must therefore have been. from its
very formation, predestined by Him to eternal misery: but is such an assumption reasonable", or
admissible? The doctrine of punishment proportioned to wrongdoing is, on the contrary, entirely
consonant with reason and justice. God undoubtedly foresaw, in creating a given soul, that, in its
ignorance, it would do wrong: but He has ordained that its very faults themselves shall furnish it with the
means of becoming enlightened. through its experience of the painful effects of its wrong-doing He will
compel it to expiate that wrong-doing, but only in order that it may be thereby more firmly fixed in
goodness thus the door of hope is never closed against it, and the moment of its deliverance from suffering
is made to depend on the amount of effort it puts forth to achieve its purification. If the doctrine of future
punishment had always been presented under this aspect, very few would ever have doubted its truth.
The word eternal is often figuratively employed, in common parlance, to designate any long period of
duration of which the end is not foreseen, although it is known that it will come in course of time. We
speak, for instance, of "the eternal snows" of mountain-peaks and polar regions, although we know, on
the one hand, that our globe will come to an end, and, on the other hand, that the state of those regions
may be changed by the normal displacement of the earth's axis, or by some cataclysm. The word eternal,
therefore, in this case, does not mean infinitely perpetual. We say, in the suffering of some long illness,
that our days present the same "eternal round" of weariness; is it strange, then, that spirits who have
suffered for years, centuries, thousands of ages even, should express themselves in the same way?
Moreover, we must not forget that their state of backwardness prevents them from seeing the other end
of their road, and that they therefore believe themselves to be destined to suffer for ever; a belief which is
itself a part of their punishment.
The doctrine of material fire, of furnaces, and tortures, borrowed from the pagan Tartarus, is completely
given up by many of the most eminent theologians of the present day, who admit that the word "fire" is
employed figuratively in the Bible, and is to be understood as meaning moral fire (974). Those who, like
ourselves, have observed the incidents of the life beyond the grave, as presented to our view by the
communications of spirits, have had ample proof that its sufferings are none the less excruciating for not
being of a material nature. And even as regards the duration of those sufferings, many theologians are
beginning to admit the restriction
indicated above, and to consider that the word eternal may be considered as referring to the principle of
penality in itself, as the consequence of an immutable law, and not to its application to each individual.
When religious teaching shall openly admit this interpretation, it will bring back to a belief in God and in
a future life many who are now losing themselves in the mazes of materialism.
Resurrection of the Body.
1010. Is the doctrine of the resurrection of tile body an implication of that of that of
reincarnation, as now taught by spirits?
"How could it be otherwise? It is with regard to that expression as to so many others, that
only appear unreasonable because they are taken literally, and are thus placed beyond the pale
of credibility; let them only be rationally explained, and those whom you call free-thinkers
will admit them without difficulty, precisely because they are accustomed to reflect.
Freethinkers, like the rest of the world, perhaps even more than others, thirst for a future; they
ask nothing better than to believe, but they cannot admit what is disproved by science. The
doctrine of the plurality of existences is conformable with the justice of God it alone can
explain what, without it, is inexplicable; how can you doubt, then, that its principle is to be
found in all religions?"
1011. The Church, then, in the dogma of the resurrection of the body, really teaches the
doctrine of reincarnation?
"That is evident; but it will soon be seen that reincarnation is implied in every part of Holy
Writ. Spirits, therefore, do not come to overthrow religion, as is sometimes asserted; they
come, On the contrary, to confirm and sanction it by irrefragable proofs. But, as the time has
arrived to renounce the use of figurative language, they speak without allegories, and give to
every statement a clear and precise meaning that obviates all danger of false interpretation.
For this reason there will be, ere long, a greater number of persons sincerely religious and
really believing than are to be found at the present day."
Physical science demonstrates the impossibility of resurrection according to the common idea. If the relics
of the human body remained homogeneous, even though dispersed and reduced to powder, we might
conceive the possibility of their being reunited at some future time ; but such is not the case. The body is
formed of various elements, oxygen, hydrogen, azote, carbon, etc., and these elements, being dispersed,
serve to form new bodies, so that the same molecule of carbon, for example, will have entered Into the
composition of many thousands of different bodies (we speak only of human bodies, without counting
those of animals); such and such an individual may have, in his body, molecules that were in the bodies of
the men of the earliest ages; and the very same organic molecules that you have this day absorbed in your
food may have come from the body of some one whom you have known; and so on, Matter being finite in
quantity, and its transformations being infinite in number, how is it possible that the innumerable bodies
formed out of it should be reconstituted with the same
elements? Such a reconstruction is a physical impossibility. The resurrection of the body can, therefore,
be rationally admitted only as a figure of speech, symbolising the fact of reincarnation; thus interpreted,
it has in it nothing repugnant to reason, nothing contrary to the data of physical science.
It is true that, according to theological dogma, this resurrection Is not to take place until the "Last Day,"
while, according to spiritist doctrine, it takes place every day; but is not this picture of the "Last
Judgement" a grand and noble metaphor, implying, under the veil of allegory, one of those immutable
truths that will no longer be met with incredulity when restored to their true meaning? To those who
carefully ponder the spiritist theory of the future destiny of souls, and of the fate that awaits them as the
result of various trials they have to undergo, it will be apparent that. with the exception of the condition
of simultaneousness, the judgement which condemns or absolves them is not a fiction, as is supposed by
unbelievers. It is also to be remarked that the judgement which assigns to each soul Its next place of
habitation is the natural consequence of the plurality of worlds, now generally admitted ; while,
according to the doctrine of the "Last Judgement," the earth is supposed to be the only inhabited world.
Paradise, Hell and Purgatory.
1012. Are there, in the universe, any circumscribed places set apart for the joys and sorrows
of spirits, according to their merits?
"We have already answered this question. The joys and sorrows of spirits are inherent in the
degree of perfection at which they have arrived. Each spirit finds in himself the principle of
his happiness or unhappiness; and, as spirits are everywhere, no enclosed or circumscribed
place is set apart for either the One or the other. As for incarnated spirits, they are more or
less happy or unhappy, according as the world they inhabit is more or less advanced."
-"Heaven" and "hell," then, as men have imagined them, have no existence?
"They are only symbols; there are happy and unhappy spirits everywhere. Nevertheless, as we
have also told you, spirits of the same order are brought together by sympathy; but, when they
are perfect, they can meet together wherever they will,"
The localisation of rewards and punishments in fixed places exists only in man's imagination; it proceeds
from his' tendency to materialise and to circumscribe the things of which he cannot comprehend the
essential infinitude.
1013. What is to be understood by Purgatory?
"Physical and moral suffering; the period of expiation, It is almost always upon the earth that
you are made by God to undergo your purgatory, and to expiate your wrong-doing."
What men call purgatory is also a figure of speech, that should be understood as signifying, not any
determinate place, but the state of imperfect spirits who have to expiate their faults until they have
attained the complete purification that will raise them to the state of perfect blessedness. As this
purification is effected by means of various incarnations, purgatory consists in the trials of corporeal life .
1014. How is it that spirits who, by their language, would seem to be of high degree, have
replied according to the commonly-received ideas to those who have questioned them in the
most serious spirit concerning hell and purgatory?
"They speak according to the comprehension of those who question them, when the latter are
too fully imbued with preconceived ideas, in order to avoid any abrupt interference with their
convictions. If a spirit should tell a Mussulman, without proper precautions, that Mahomet
was not a true prophet, he would not he listened to with much cordiality."
- Such precautions are conceivable on the' part of spirits who wish to instruct us; but how is
it that others, when questioned as to their situation, have replied that they were suffering the
torture's of hell or of purgatory?
"Spirits of inferior advancement, who are not yet completely dematerialised, retain a portion
of their earthly ideas, and describe their impressions by means of terms that are familiar to
them. They are in a state that allows of their obtaining only a very imperfect foresight of the
future; for which reason it often happens that spirits in erraticity, or but recently freed from
their earthly body, speak just as they would have done during their earthly life. Hell may be
understood as meaning a life of extremely painful trial, with uncertainty as to the future
attainment of any better state; and purgatory as a life that is also one of trial, but with the
certainty of a happier future. Do you not say, when undergoing any very intense physical or
mental distress, that you are suffering 'the tortures of the damned' ? But such an expression is
only a figure of speech, and is always employed as such."
1015. What is to be understood by the expression, "a soul in torment"?
"An errant and suffering soul, uncertain about its future, and to whom you can render, in its
endeavour to obtain relief, an assistance that it often solicits at your hands by the act of
addressing itself to you." (664.)
1016. In what sense is the word heaven to be understood?
"Do you suppose it to be a place like the Elysian Fields of the ancients, where all good spirits
are crowded together pell-mell, with no other care than that of enjoying, throughout eternity,
a passive felicity? No; it is universal space; it is the planets, the
stars, and all the worlds of high degree, in which spirits are in the enjoyment of all their
faculties, without having the tribulations of material life, or the sufferings inherent in the state
of inferiority."
1017. Spirits have said that they inhabited the third, fourth, and fifth heaven, etc.; what did
they mean in saying this?
"You ask them which heaven they inhabit, because you have the idea of several heavens,
placed one above the other, like the storeys of a house, and they therefore answer you
according to your own ideas; but, for them, the words 'third,' 'fourth,' or 'fifth' heaven, express
different degrees of purification, and consequently of happiness. It is the same when you ask a
spirit whether he is in hell; if he is unhappy, he will say 'yes,' because, for him, hell is
synonymous with suffering; but he knows very well that it is not a furnace. A Pagan would
have replied that lie was in Tartarus."
The same may be said in regard to other expressions of a similar character, such as "the city of flowers,"
"the city of the elect," the first, second, or third "sphere." etc., which are only allegorical, and employed
by some spirits figuratively, by others from ignorance of the reality of things, or even of the most
elementary principles of natural science.
According to the restricted idea formerly entertained in regard to the localities of rewards and
punishments, and to the common belief that the earth was the centre of the universe, that the sky formed
a vault overhead, and that there was a specific region of stars. men placed heaven up above, and hell
down below; hence the expressions to "ascend into heaven," to be in "the highest heaven." to be "cast
down into hell." etc. Now that astronomy, having traced up the earth's history and described its
constitution, has shown us that it is one of the smallest worlds that circulate in space and devoid of any
special importance, that space is infinite, and that there is neither "lip" nor "down" in the universe, men
have been obliged to cease placing heaven above the clouds. and hell in the "lower parts of the earth." As
for purgatory. no fixed place was ever assigned to it.
It was reserved for Spiritism to give. in regard to all these points, an explanation which is at once. and in
the highest degree, rational. sublime, and consoling, by showing us that we have in ourselves our "hell"
and our "heaven," and that we find our "purgatory" in the state of incarnation, in our successive
corporeal or physical lives.
1018. In what sense should we understand the words of Christ, 'My kingdom is not of this
"Christ, in replying thus, spoke figuratively. He meant to say that He reigned only over pure
and unselfish hearts, He is wherever the love of goodness holds sway; but they who are
greedy for the things of this world, and attached to the enjoyments of earth, are not with
1019. “Will the reign of goodness ever be established upon the earth?
"Goodness will reign upon the earth when, among the spirits who come to dwell in it, the
good shall be more numerous than the bad; for they will then bring in the reign of love and
justice, which are the source of good and of happiness. It is through moral progress and
practical conformity with the laws of God, that men will attract to the earth good spirits, who
will keep bad ones away from it; but the latter will not definitively quit the earth until its
people shall be completely purified from pride and selfishness.
"The transformation of the human race has been predicted from the most ancient times, and
you are now approaching the period when it is destined to take place. All those among you
who are labouring to advance the progress of mankind are helping to hasten this
transformation, which will be effected through the incarnation, in your earth, of spirits of
higher degree, who will constitute a new population, of greater moral advancement than the
human races they will gradually have replaced. The spirits of the wicked people who are
mowed down each day by death, and of all who endeavour to arrest the onward movement,
will be excluded from the earth, and compelled to incarnate themselves elsewhere; for they
would be out of place among those nobler races of human beings, whose felicity would be
impaired by their presence among them. They will be sent into never worlds, less advanced
than the earth, and will therein fulfil hard and laborious missions, which will furnish them
with the means of advancing, while contributing also to the advancement of their brethren of
those younger worlds, less advanced than themselves, Do you not see, in this exclusion of
backward spirits from the transformed and regenerated earth, the true significance of the
sublime myth of the driving out of the first pair from the garden of Eden? And do you not
also see, in the advent of the human race upon the earth, under the conditions of such an
exile, and bringing within; itself the germs of its passions and the evidences of its primitive
inferiority, the real meaning of that other myth, no less sublime, of the fall of those first
parents, entailing the sinfulness of their descendants? 'Original sin,' considered from this
point of view, is seen to consist in the imperfection of human nature; and each of the spirits
subsequently incarnated in the human race is therefore responsible only for his own
imperfection and his own wrong-doing, and not for those of his forefathers.
"Devote yourselves, then, with zeal and courage to the great work of regeneration, all you
who are processed of faith and good will; you will reap a hundredfold for all the seed you
sow, Woe to those who close their eyes against the light; for they will have condemned
themselves to long ages of darkness and sorrow! Woe to those who centre their enjoyment in
the pleasures of the earthly life; for they will undergo privations more numerous than their
present pleasures! And woe, above all, to the selfish; for they will find none to aid them in
bearing the burden of their future misery!"
HE who, in regard to terrestrial magnetism, knows only the little figures of ducks which, with
the aid of a magnet, are made to swim about in a basin of water, would find it difficult to
understand that those toy-figures contain the secret of the mechanism of the universe and of
the movement of worlds, He, whose knowledge of Spiritism is confined to the table- turning
which was the starting-point of the modern manifestations, is in a similar position; he regards
it merely as an amusement, a social pastime, and cannot understand how a phenomenon so
simple and so common, known to antiquity and even to savage tribes, can be connected with
the weightiest questions of psychology and of human life, For the superficial observer, what
connection can exist between a table that turns and the morality and future destiny of the
human race? But as, from the simple pot which, in boiling, raises its lid (a pot, too, which has
boiled from the remotest antiquity), there has issued the potent motor with whose aid man
transports himself through space and suppresses distance, so, be it known to you, 0 ye who
believe in nothing beyond the material world! there has issued, from the table-turning which
provokes your disdainful smiles, a new philosophy that furnishes the solution of problems
which no other has been able to solve, I appeal to all honest adversaries of Spiritism, and I
adjure them to say whether they have taken the trouble to study what they criticise; reminding
them that criticism is necessarily of no value unless the critic knows what he is talking about,
To ridicule that of which we know nothing, which we have not made the subject of
conscientious examination, is not to criticise, but to give proof of frivolity and want of
judgement. Assuredly, if we had present this philosophy as being the product of a human
brain, it would have met with less disdain, and would have had the honour of being examined
by those who profess to be the leaders of opinion: but it claims to be derived from spirits;
what an absurdity! It is
scarcely held to deserve a single glance by those who judge it merely by its title, as the
monkey in the fable judged of the nut by its husk, But put aside all thought of the origin of
this book; suppose it to be the work of a man, and say, in truth and honesty, whether, after
having carefully read it, you find in it anything to laugh at?
Spiritism is the most formidable opponent of materialism, and it is therefore not surprising
that it should have the materialists for adversaries; but as materialism is a doctrine which
many of those who hold it hardly dare to avow, they cover their opposition with the mantle of
reason and science, Their shafts are especially aimed at the marvellous and the supernatural,
which they deny; and as, according to them, Spiritism is founded on the marvellous and the
supernatural, they declare that it can be nothing more than a ridiculous delusion.
Strange to say, some of those who are most incredulous in regard to Spiritism deny the
possibility of its phenomena in the name of religion, of which they often know as little as they
do of Spiritism. They do not reflect that, in denying, without restriction, the possibility of the
"marvellous" and the "supernatural," they deny religion, for religion is founded on revelation
and miracles; and what is revelation if not extra-human communications? All the sacred
writers, from Moses downwards, have spoken of this order of communications. And what are
miracles if not facts of a character emphatically marvellous and super-natural, since they are,
according to liturgical acceptation, derogations from the laws of nature, so that, in rejecting
the marvellous and the supernatural, they reject the very basis of all religions ? But it is not
from this point of view that we have to consider the subject. Belief in spirit-manifestation
does not necessarily settle the question of miracles; that is to say, whether God does, or does
not, in certain cases, derogate from the eternal laws that regulate the universe; it leaves, in
regard to this question, full liberty of belief to all. Spiritism says, and proves, that the
phenomena on which it is based are supernatural only in appearance, that they only appear to
some persons to be such, because they are unusual, and out of the pale of facts hitherto
known; and that they are no more supernatural than all the other phenomena which
the science of the present day is explaining, though they appeared to be "miraculous" in the
past. All spiritist phenomena, without exception, are the consequence of general laws; they
reveal to us one of the powers of nature, a power hitherto unknown, or rather that has not
hitherto been understood, but which observation shows us to be included in the scheme of
things. Spiritism, therefore, is founded less on the marvellous and the supernatural than is
religion itself; and those who attack it on this score do so because they know not what it
really is. As for those who oppose it in the name of science, we say to them, be they ever so
learned, "If your science, which has taught you so many things, has not taught you that the
domain of nature is infinite, you are scientific to very little purpose."
You say that you wish to cure your age of a malady of credulity that threatens to invade the
world. Would you prefer to see the world invaded by the incredulity that you seek to
propagate? Is it not to the absence of all belief that are to be attributed the relaxing of familyties
and the greater part of the disorders that are undermining society? By demonstrating the
existence and immortality of the soul, Spiritism revives faith in the future, raises the courage
of those who are depressed, and enables us to bear the vicissitudes of life with resignation.
Do you call this an evil? Two doctrinal theories are offered for our acceptance; one of them
denies the existence of a future life, the other proclaims and proves it; one of them explains
nothing, the other explains everything, and, by so doing, appeals to our reason; one of them is
the justification of selfishness, the other gives a firm basis to justice, charity, and the love of
one's fellow-creatures; one of them shows only the present and annihilates all hope, the other
consoles us by showing the vast field of the future; which of the two is the more pernicious?
There are some, among the most sceptical of our opponents, who give themselves out as
apostles of fraternity and progress; but fraternity implies disinterestedness and abnegation of
one's own personality, and by what right do you impose such a sacrifice on him to whom you
affirm that, when be is dead, everything will be over for him, that soon, perhaps to-morrow,
he will be nothing
more than a worn-out machine, out of gear, and thrown aside as so much rubbish? Why, in
that case, should he impose on himself any privation ? Is it not more natural that he should
resolve to live as agreeably as possible during the few brief instants you accord to him? And
would not such a resolve naturally suggest to him the desire to possess largely in order to
secure the largest amount of enjoyment? And would not this desire naturally give birth to
jealousy of those who possess more than he does? And, from such jealousy to the desire to
take from them what they possess, is there more than a single step? What is there, in fact, to
restrain him from doing so? The law? But the law does not reach every case. Conscience? the
sense of duty? But what, from your point of view, is conscience? and upon what do you base
the sense of duty? Has that sense any motive or aim if it be true that everything ends for us
with our present life? In connection with such a belief, only one maxim can be reasonably
admitted-viz., "Every man for himself." Fraternity, conscience, duty, humanity, progress
even, are but empty words. Ah! you who proclaim such a doctrine, you know not how much
harm you do to society, nor of how many crimes you incur the responsibility! But why do we
speak of responsibility? Nothing of the kind exists for the materialist; he renders homage only
to matter.
The progress of the human race results from the practical application of the law of justice,
love, and charity. This law is founded on the certainty of the future; take away that certainty,
and you take away its corner-stone. It is from this law that all other laws are derived, for it
comprises all the conditions of human happiness; it alone can cure the evils of society; and
the improvement that takes place in the conditions of social life, in proportion as this law is
better understood and better carried out in action, becomes clearly apparent when we compare
the various ages and peoples of the earth. And if the partial and incomplete application of this
law have sufficed to produce an appreciable improvement in social conditions, what will it
not effect when it shall have become the basis of all social institutions? Is such a result
possible ? Yes; for as the human race has already accomplished ten steps, it is evident that it
can accomplish twenty, and so on. We can infer the future from the past. We see that
the antipathies between different nations are beginning to melt away; that the barriers which
separated them are being overthrown by the progress of civilisation, and that they are joining
hands from one end of the world to the other. A larger measure of justice has been introduced
into international law; wars occur less frequently, and do not exclude the exercise of humane
sentiments; uniformity is being gradually established in the relations of life; the distinctions
of races and castes are being effaced, and men of different religious beliefs are imposing
silence on sectional prejudices, that they may unite in adoration of one and the same God. We
speak of the nations who are at the head of civilisation (789-793). In all these relations, men
are still far from perfection, and there are still many old ruins to be pulled down before the
last vestiges of barbarism will have been cleared away; but can those ruins withstand the
irresistible action of progress, that living force which is itself a law of nature ? If the present
generation is more advanced than the last, why should not the next be more advanced than the
present one ? It will necessarily be so through the force of things; in the first place, because
each generation, as it passes away, carries with it some of the champions of old abuses, and
society is thus gradually reconstituted with new elements that have thrown aside antiquated
prejudices; in the second place, because, when men have come to desire progress, they study
the obstacles which impede it, and set themselves to get rid of them. The fact of the
progressive movement of human society being incontestable, there can be no doubt that
progress will continue to be made in the future.
Man desires to be happy; it is in his nature so to do. He only he has not obtained complete
happiness, and that this happiness but for which result progress would have no object; for
where would be the value of progress for him if it did not improve his position ? But when he
shall have obtained all the enjoyments that can be afforded by intellectual progress, he will
perceive that he has not obtained complete happiness, and that this happiness is impossible
without security in the social relations; and as he can only obtain this security through the
moral progress of society in general, he will be led, by the force of things, to labour for that
end, to the attainment of which, Spiritism will furnish him with the most effectual means.
Those who complain that spiritist belief is spreading in all directions and threatening to
invade the world, thereby proclaim its power; for no opinion that is not founded on reason
and on fact could become general. Therefore, if Spiritism is taking root everywhere, making
converts in every rank of society, and especially among the educated classes, as is admitted
by all to be the case, it is evident that it must founded in truth. That being so, all the efforts of
its detractors will be made in vain; an assertion borne out by the fact that the ridicule
attempted to be heaped upon it by those who have hoped thereby to arrest its march seems
only to have given it new life. This result fully justifies the assurances that have been so
constantly given us by our spirit-friends, who have repeatedly said to us, "Do not allow
yourself to be made uneasy by opposition. Whatever is done against you will turn to your
advantage, and your bitterest opponents will serve you in spite of themselves. Against the will
of God, the ill-will of men is of no avail."
Through the moral teachings of Spiritism, the human race will enter upon a new phase of its
destiny; that of the moral progress which is the inevitable consequence of this belief. The
rapid spread of spiritist ideas should cause no surprise, being due to the profound satisfaction
they give to those who adopt them with intelligence and sincerity; and as happiness is what
men desire above all things, it is not surprising that they should embrace ideas which impart
so much happiness to those who hold them.
The development of these ideas presents three distinct periods. The first is that of curiosity,
excited by the strangeness of the phenomena produced; the second, that of reasoning and
philosophy; the third, that of application and consequences. The period of curiosity is gone
by, for curiosity has only a brief existence; the mind, when satisfied in regard to any novelty,
quitting it at once for another, as is not its habit in regard to subjects that awaken graver
thought and that appeal to the judgement. The second period has already begun; the third will
certainly follow. The progress of Spiritism has been specially rapid since its essential nature
and its scope have been more correctly understood, because it touches the most sensitive fibre
of the human heart, viz., the desire of happiness, which it augments immeasurably, even in
the present world; this, as previously remarked, is the cause of its
wide acceptance, the secret of the force that will make it triumph. It renders happy those who
understand it, while awaiting the extension of its influence over the masses. How many a
spiritist, who has never witnessed any of the physical phenomena of spirit-manifestation, says
to himself, "Besides the phenomena of Spiritism, there is its philosophy, which explains what
NO OTHER has ever explained. That philosophy furnishes me, through arguments draw from
reason only and independently of any sanction but that of reason, with a rational solution of
problems that are of the most vital importance to my future; it gives me calmness, security,
confidence; it delivers me from the torments of uncertainty. In comparison with results so
valuable, the question of the physical phenomena is of secondary importance."
To those who attack this philosophy, we reply, "Would you like to have a means of
combating it successfully ? If so, here it is: Bring forward something better in its place; find a
more philosophic solution of the problems it solves: give to man ANOTHER CERTAINTY
that shall render him still happier. But you must thoroughly understand the meaning of the
word certainty, for man only accepts as certain what appears to him to be reasonable. You
must not content yourselves with saying that the thing is not so, which is a mode of
proceeding altogether too easy. You must prove, not by negation, but by facts, that what we
assert to exist has no existence, has never been, and CANNOT BE, and above all, having
shown that it has no existence, you must show what you have to offer in its place; and you
must prove that the tendency of Spiritism is not to make men better, and consequently
happier, by the practice of the purest morality-that sublime and simple morality of the
Gospels, which men praise so much, and practise so little. When you have done all this, you
will have a right to attack it."
Spiritism is strong because its bases are those of religion itself, viz., God, the soul, the
rewards and punishments of the future; because it shows those rewards and punishments to be
the natural consequences of the earthly life; and because, in the picture it presents of the
future, there is nothing which the most logical mind could regard as contrary to reason. What
compensation can you offer for the sufferings of the present life, you whose whole doctrine
consists in the negation of the future? You base your teachings on incredulity; Spiritism is
based on confidence in God: while the latter invites all men to happiness, to hope, to true
fraternity, you offer them, in prospect, ANNIHILATION, and in the present, by way of
consolation, SELFISHNESS: it explains everything, and you explain nothing; it proves by
facts, while your assertions are devoid of proof. How can you expect that the world should
hesitate between these two doctrines?
To suppose that Spiritsm derives its strength from the physical manifestations, and that it
might therefore be put an end to by hindering those manifestations, is to form to one's self a
very false idea of it. Its strength is in its philosophy, in the appeal it makes to reason, to
common sense. In ancient times it was the object of mysterious studies, carefully hidden from
the vulgar; at the present day it has no secrets, but speaks clearly, without ambiguity,
mysticism, or allegories susceptible of false interpretations. The time having come for making
known the truth, its language is such as all may comprehend. So far from being opposed to
the diffusion of the light, the new revelation is intended for all mankind; it does not claim a
blind acceptance, but. urges every one to examine the grounds of his belief, and as its
teachings are based upon reason, it will always be stronger than those who base their
arguments upon annihilation. Would it be possible to put a stop to spirit-manifestations, by
placing obstacles in the way of their production? No; for such an attempt would have the
effect of all persecutions, viz., that of exciting curiosity, and the desire of making
acquaintance with a forbidden subject. Were spirit-manifestations the privilege of a single
individual, it would undoubtedly be possible, by preventing his action, to put an end to them;
but unfortunately for our adversaries, those manifestations are within everybody's reach, and
are being obtained by all, from the highest to the lowest, from the palace to the cottage. It
might be possible to prevent their production in public, but, as is well known, it is not in
public, but in private, that they are most successfully produced; and as any one may be a
medium, how would it be possible to prevent each family in the privacy of its home, each
individual in the silence of his chamber, each prisoner, even, in his cell, from holding
communication with the invisible beings around them, in the very presence of those who
should endeavour to prevent them from doing so? If mediums were forbidden to exercise
their faculty in one country. how would it be possible to hinder them from doing so elsewhere
throughout the rest of the world, since there is not a single country, in either continent, in
which mediums are not to be found? In order to
shut up all the mediums, it would be necessary to incarcerate half the human race; and even if
it were possible, which would scarcely be easier, to burn all the spiritist books in existence,
they would at once be reproduced, because the source from which they emanate is beyond the
reach of attack, and it is impossible to imprison or to burn the spirits who are their real
Spiritism is not the work of any man; no one can claim to have created it, for it is as old as
creation itself. It is to be found everywhere, in all religions, and in the Catholic religion even
more than in the others, and with more authoritative inculcation, for the Catholic dogma
contains all that constitutes Spiritism; admission of the existence of spirits of every degree;
their relations, occult and patent, with mankind; guardian-angels, reincarnation, the
emancipation of the soul during the present life, second-sight, visions, and manifestations of
every kind, including even tangible apparitions; As for demons, they are nothing else than bad
spirits; and with the exception of the belief that the former are doomed to evil for ever, while
the path of progress is not closed against the others, there is, between them, only a difference
of name.
What is the special and peculiar work of modern Spiritism? To make a coherent whole of
what has hitherto been scattered; to explain, in clear and precise terms, what has hitherto been
wrapped up in the language of allegory; to eliminate the products of superstition and
ignorance from human belief, leaving only what is real and actual: this is its mission, but that
of a founder does not belong to it. It renders evident that which already exists; it co-ordinates,
but it creates nothing, for its elements are of all countries and of every age. Who, then, could
flatter himself with the hope of being able to stifle it, either by ridicule or by persecution? If it
were possible to proscribe it in one place, it would reappear in another, or on the very spot
from which it had been banished, because it exists in the constitution of things, and because
no man can annihilate that which is one of the powers of nature, or veto that which is in
virtue of the Divine decrees.
But what interest could any Government have in opposing the propagation of spiritist ideas?
Those ideas, it is true, are a protest against the abuses that spring from pride and selfishness;
but although such abuses are profitable to the few, they are injurious to the many, and
Spiritism would therefore have the
masses on its side, while its only adversaries would be those who profit by the abuses against
which it protests. So far from Governments having anything to dread from the spread of
spiritist ideas, the tendency of those ideas being to render men more benevolent towards one
another, less greedy of material things, and more resigned to the orderings of Providence, they
constitute, for the State, a guarantee of order and of tranquillity.
Spiritism presents three different aspects, viz., the facts of spirit-manifestation, the
philosophic and moral principles deducible from those facts, and the practical applications of
which those principles are susceptible; hence three classes into which its adherents are
naturally divided, or rather, three degrees of advancement by which they are distinguished:
1st, Those who believe in the reality and genuineness of the spirit-manifestations, but confine
themselves to the attestation of these, and for whom Spiritism is merely an experimental
science; 2d, Those who comprehend its moral bearings; 3d, Those who put in practice, or, at
least, endeavour to put in practice, the system of morality which it is the mission of Spiritism
to establish. Whatever the point of view experimental, scientific, or moral, from which these
strange phenomena are considered, every one perceives that they are ushering in an entirely
novel order of ideas, which must necessarily produce a profound modification of the state of
the human race; and every one who understands the subject also perceives that this
modification can only be for good.
As for our adversaries, they may also be grouped into three categories:1st, Those who
systematically deny whatever is new, or does not proceed from themselves, and who speak
without knowing what they are talking about. To this class belong all those who admit
nothing beyond the testimony of their senses they have not seen anything, do not wish to see
anything, and are still more unwilling to go deeply into anything; they would, in fact, be
unwilling to see too clearly. for fear of being obliged to confess that they have been mistaken;
they declare that Spiritism is chimerical insane. utopian. and has no real existence, as the
easiest way of settling the matter; they are the wilfully incredulous. With them may be classed
those who have condescended to glance at the subject, in order to be able to say, "I
have tried to see something of it, but I have not been able to succeed in doing so;" and who do
not seem to be aware that half an hour's attention is not enough to make them acquainted with
a new field of study; 2d, Those who, although perfectly aware of the genuineness of the
phenomena, oppose the matter from interested motives. They know that Spiritism is true; but
being afraid of consequences, they attack it as an enemy. 3d, Those who dread the moral rules
of Spiritism as constituting too severe a censure of their acts and tendencies. A serious
admission of the truth of Spiritism would be in their way; they neither reject nor accept it, but
prefer to close their eyes in regard to it. The first class is swayed by pride and presumption;
the second by ambition; the third by selfishness. We should seek in vain for a fourth class of
antagonists, viz., that of opponents who, basing their opposition on a careful and
conscientious study of Spiritism, should bring forward positive and irrefutable evidence of its
It would be hoping too much of human nature to imagine that it could be suddenly
transformed by spiritist ideas. The action of these undoubtedly is not the same, nor is it
equally powerful, in the case of all those by whom they are professed; but their result,
however slight it may be, is always beneficial, if only by proving the existence of an extracorporeal
world, and thus disproving the doctrines of materialism. This result follows from a
mere observation of the phenomena of Spiritism; but, among those who, comprehending its
philosophy, see in it something else than phenomena more or less curious, it produces other
effects. The first and most general of these is the development of the religious sentiment,
even in those who, without being materialists, are indifferent to spiritual things; and this
sentiment leads to contempt of death-we do not say to a desire for death, for the spiritist
would defend his life like anyone else, but to an indifference which causes him to accept
death, when inevitable, without murmuring and without regret, as something to be welcomed
rather than feared, owing to his certainty in regard to the state which follows it. The second
effect of spiritist convictions is resignation under the vicissitudes of life. Spiritism lead us to
consider everything from so elevated a point of view that the importance of terrestrial life is
proportionally diminished, and we are less painfully affected by its tribulations; we have
consequently more courage under affliction, more moderation in our desires, and also
a more rooted repugnance to the idea of shortening our days, Spiritism showing us that
suicide always causes the loss of what it was intended to obtain. The certainty of a future
which it depends on ourselves to render happy, the possibility of establishing relations with
those who are dear to us in the other life, offer the highest of all consolations to the spiritist;
and his field of view is widened to infinity by his constant beholding of the life beyond the
grave, and his growing acquaintance with conditions of existence hitherto veiled in mystery.
The third effect of spiritist ideas is to induce indulgence for the defects of others; but it must
be admitted that, selfishness being the most tenacious of human sentiments, it is also the one
which it is most difficult to extirpate. We are willing to make sacrifices provided they cost us
nothing, and provided especially that they impose on us no privations; but money still
exercises an irresistible attraction over the greater number of mankind, and very few
understand the word "superfluity" in connection with their own personality.
The abnegation of our personality is, therefore, the most eminent sign of progress.
"Do spirits," it is sometimes asked, "teach us anything new in the way of morality, anything
superior to what has been taught by Christ? If the moral code of Spiritism be no other than
that of the gospel, what is the use of it?" This mode of reasoning is singularly like that of the
Caliph Omar, in speaking of the Library of Alexandria: - “If," said he, "it contains only what
is found in the Koran. it is useless, and in that case must be burned; if it contains anything
that is not found in the Koran, it is bad, and in that case, also, it must be burned." No; the
morality of Spiritism is not different from that of Jesus; but we have to ask, in our turn,
whether, before Christ, men had not the law given by God to Moses? Is not the doctrine of
Christ to be found in the Decalogue? But will it therefore be contended that the moral
teaching of Jesus is useless? We ask, still further, of those who deny the utility of the moral
teachings of Spiritism, why it is that the moral teachings of Christ are so little practised. and
why it is that those who rightly proclaim their sublimity are the first to violate the first of His
laws, viz., that of universal charity" Spirits now come not only to confirm it, but also to
show us its practical utility; they render intelligible, patent, truths that have hitherto been
taught under he form of allegory; and, with this reinculcation of the eternal truths of morality,
they also give us the solution of the most abstract problems of psychology.
Jesus came to show men the road to true goodness. Since God sent Him to recall to men's
mind the divine law they had forgotten. why should He not send spirits to recall it to their
memory once again, and with still greater precision, now that they are for-getting it in their
devotion to pride and to material gain? Who shall take upon himself to set bounds to the
power of God, or to dictate His ways? Who shall say that the appointed time has not arrived,
as it is declared to have done by spirits, when truths hitherto unknown or misunderstood are
to be openly proclaimed to the human race. in order to hasten its advancement ? Is there not
something evidently providential in the fact that spirit-manifestations are being made on all
points of the globe? It is hot a single man, an isolated prophet, who comes to arouse us; light
is breaking forth on all sides, and a new world is being opened out before our eyes. As the
invention of the microscope has revealed to us the world of the infinitely little, the existence
of which was unsuspected by us, and as the telescope has revealed to us the myriads of
worlds the existence of which we suspected just as little,-so the spirit-communications of the
present day are revealing to us the existence of an invisible world that surrounds us on all
sides, that is incessantly in contact with us, and that takes part, unknown to us, in everything
we do. Yet a short time, and the existence of that world, which is awaiting every one of us,
will be as incontestable as is that of the microscopic world, and of the infinity of globes in
space. Is it nothing to have made known that new world, to have initiated us into the
mysteries of the life beyond the grave ? It is true that these discoveries, if such they can he
called, are contrary to certain received ideas; but have not all great scientific discoveries
modified, and even overthrown, ideas as fully received by the world, and has not our pride of
opinion had to yield to evidence ? It will be the same in regard to Spiritism, which ere long
will have taken its place among the other branches of human knowledge.
Communication with the beings of the world beyond the grave enables us to see and to
comprehend the life to come, initiates us into the joys and sorrows that await us therein
according to our deserts, and thus brings back to spiritualism those who had come to
see in man only matter, only an organised machine; we are there-fore justified in asserting
that the facts of Spiritism have given the death-blow to materialism. Had Spiritism done
nothing more than this, it would be entitled to the gratitude of all the friends of social order;
but it does much more than this, for it shows the inevitable results of evil, and, consequently,
the necessity of goodness. The number of those whom it has brought back to better
sentiments, whose evil tendencies it has neutralised, and whom it has turned from wrongdoing,
is already larger than is usually supposed, and is becoming still more considerable
every day; because the future is no longer for them a vague imagining, a mere hope, but a
fact, the reality of which is felt and understood when they see and hear those who have left us
lamenting or rejoicing over what they did when they were upon the earth. Whoever witnesses
these communications begins to reflect on the reality thus brought home to him, and to feel
the need of self-examination, self-judgement, and self-amendment.
The fact that differences of opinion exist among spiritists in regard to certain points of
doctrine has been used by opponents as a handle against it. It is not surprising that, in the
beginning of a new science, when the observations on which it is based are still incomplete,
the subjects of which it treats should have been regarded by its various adherents from their
own point of view, and that contradictory theories should thus have been put forth. But a
deeper study of the facts in question has already overthrown most of those theories, and,
among others, that which attributed all spirit-communications to evil spirits, as though it were
impossible for God to send good spirits to men; a supposition that is at once absurd, because
it is opposition to the facts of the case, and impious, because it is a denial of the power and
goodness of the Creator. Our spirit-guides have always advised us not to trouble ourselves
about divergences of opinion among spiritists, assuring us that unity of doctrine will
eventually be established; and we accordingly see that this unity has already been arrived at in
regard to the major part of the points at issue, and that divergences of opinion, in regard to the
others, are disappearing day by day.
To the question, "While awaiting the establishment of doctrinal unity, upon what basis can an
impartial and disinterested inquirer arrive at a judgement as to the relative merits of the
various theories put forth by spirits?" the following reply was given: -
"The purest light is that which is not obscured by any cloud; the most precious diamond is the
one which is without a flaw; judge the communications of spirits, in like manner, by the
purity of their teachings. Do not forget that there are, among spirits, many who have not yet
freed themselves from their earthly ideas. Learn to distinguish them by their language; judge
them by the sum of what they tell you; see whether there is logical sequence in the ideas they
suggest, whether there is, in their statements, nothing that betrays ignorance, pride, or
malevolence; in a word, whether their communications always bear the stamp of wisdom that
attests true superiority. If your world were inaccessible to error, it would be perfect, which it
is far from being; you have still to learn to distinguish error from truth; you need the lessons
of experience to exercise your judgement and to bring you on. The basis of unity will he
found in the body of doctrine among the adherents of which good has never been mixed with
evil; men will rally spontaneously to that doctrine, because they will judge it to be the truth.
"But what matter a few dissidences of opinion, more apparent than real ? The fundamental
principles of Spiritism are every where the same, and should unite you all in a common bond;
that of the love of God and the practice of goodness. Whatever you suppose to be the mode of
progression and the normal conditions of your future existence, the aim proposed is still the
same, viz., to do right; and there is but one way of doing that."
If there be, among spiritists, differences of opinion in regard to some points of theory, all of
them are agreed in regard to the fundamentals of the matter; unity, therefore, already exists
among them, with the exception of the very small number of those who do not yet admit the
intervention of spirits in the manifestations, and who attribute these either to purely physical
causes, which is contrary to the axiom, "Every intelligent effect must have an intelligent
cause," or to a reflex action of our own thought, which is disproved by the facts of the case.
There may, then, be different schools, seeking light in regard to the points of spiritist doctrine
that are still open to controversy; there ought not to be rival sects, making opposition to one
another. Antagonism should
only exist between those who desire goodness, and those who desire, or do, evil; but no one
who has sincerely adopted the broad principles of morality laid down by Spiritism can desire
evil or wish ill to his neighbour, whatever may be his opinions in regard to points of
secondary importance. If any school be in error, it will obtain light, sooner or later, if it seeks
honestly and without prejudice; and all schools possess, meanwhile, a common bond that
should unite them in the same sentiment. All of them have a common aim; it matters little
what road they take, provided it leads to the common goal. None should attempt to impose
their opinion by force, whether physical or moral; and any school that should hurl its
anathema at another would be clearly in the wrong, for it would evidently be acting under the
influence of evil spirits. The only force of an argument is its intrinsic reasonableness; and
moderation will do more to ensure the triumph of the truth than diatribe envenomed by envy
and jealousy. Good spirits preach only union and the love of the neighbour; and nothing
malevolent or uncharitable can ever proceed from a pure source.
As bearing on the subject of the foregoing remarks, and also as a fitting termination of the
present work, we subjoin the following message from the spirit of Saint Augustine-a message
conveying counsels well worthy of being laid to heart by all who read it:-
"Long enough have men torn one another to pieces, anathematising each other in the name of
a God of peace and of mercy, whom they insult by such a sacrilege. Spiritism will eventually
constitute a bond of union among them, by showing what is truth and what is error; but there
will still be, and for a long time to come, scribes and pharisees who will reject it, as they
rejected Christ. Would you know the quality of the spirits who influence the various sects into
which the world is divided? Judge them by their deeds and by the principles they profess.
Never did good spirits instigate to the commission of evil deeds; never did they counsel or
condone murder or violence; never did they excite party-hatreds, the thirst for riches and
honours, or greed of earthly things. They alone who are kind, humane, benevolent, to all, are
counted as friends by spirits of high degree; they alone are counted as friends by Jesus, for
they alone are following the road which He has shown them as the only one which leads to
GOD 63
God and infinity 63
Proofs of the existence of God 64
Attributes of the Divinity 65
Pantheism 66
Knowledge of the first principles of things 68
Spirit and matter 69
Properties of matter 71
Universal space 72
Formation of worlds 74
Production of living beings 75
Peopling of the earth : Adam 76
Diversity of human races 77
Plurality of worlds 77
The Biblical account of the creation 78
Organic and Inorganic beings 83
Life and death 84
Intelligence and instinct 86
Origin and nature of spirits 88
Primitive and normal world 90
Form and ubiquity of spirits 90
Perispirit 92
Different orders of spirits 92
Spirit-hierarchy 93
Progression of Spirits 101
Angels and demons 105
Aim of Incarnation 107
The soul 108
Materialism 112
The soul after death 114
Separation of soul and body 115
Temporarily confused state of the soul after death 118
Reincarnation 120
Justice of reincarnation 121
Incarnation in different worlds 122
Progressive transmigrations
Fate of children after death 129
Sex In spirits 131
Relationship-Filiation 131
Physical and moral likeness 132
Innate Ideas 135
Errant or wandering spirits 149
Transitional worlds 152
Perceptions, sensations, and sufferings of spirits 153
Theoretic explanation of the nature of sensation in spirits 157
Choice of earthly trials 163
Relationships beyond the grave 170
Sympathies and antipathies of spirits-Eternal halves 173
Remembrance of corporeal existence 176
Commemoration of the dead-Funerals 180
Preludes to return 183
Union of soul and body-Abortion 185
Moral and Intellectual faculties of mankind 189
Influence of organism 190
Idiocy and madness 192
Infancy 194
Terrestrial sympathies and antipathies 197
Forgetfulness of the past 199
Sleep and dreams 204
Visits between the spirits of living persons 209
Occult transmission of thought 211
Lethargy - Catalepsy-Apparent death 211
Somnambulism 212
Trance 216
Second-sight 217
Explanation of somnambulism, trance, and second-sight 219
Penetration of our thoughts by spirits 225
Occult influence of spirits on our thoughts and actions 226
Possession 229
Convulsionaries 231
Affection of certain spirits for certain persons 232
Guardian-angels-Protecting, familiar, and sympathetic spirits 233
Presentiments 242
Influence of spirits on the events of human life 242
Action of spirits In the production of the phenomena of nature 246
Spirits during battle 248
Pacts with spirits 250
Occult power-Talismans-Sorcerers 251
Benedictions and curses 253
Minerals and plants 261
Animals and men 262
Metempsychosis 269
Divine or natural law 270
Characteristics of natural law 270
Knowledge of natural law 272
Good and evil 274
Division of natural law 278
Aim of adoration 280
External acts of adoration 280
Life of contemplation 282
Prayer 282
Polytheism 285
Sacrifices 287
Necessity of labour 290
Limit of labour-Rest 291
Population of the globe 293
Succession and Improvement of races 293
Obstacles to reproduction 294
Marriage and celibacy 295
Polygamy 298
Instinct of self-preservation 297
Means of self-preservation 297
Enjoyment of the fruits of the earth 299
Necessaries and superfluities 300
Voluntary privations -Mortifications 301
Necessary destruction and unjustifiable destruction 304
Destructive calamities 306
War 308
Murder 309
Cruelty 309
Duelling 311
Capital punishment 311
Necessity of social life 314
Life of isolation 314
Family ties 315
State of nature 317
March of progress 318
Degenerate peoples 320
Civilisatlon 322
Progress of human legislation 323
Influence of spiritism on progress 324
Natural equality 327
Inequality of aptitudes 327
Social inequalities 328
Inequality of riches 328
Trials of riches and of poverty 330
Equality of rights of men and women 331
Equality In death 332
Natural liberty 333
Slavery 334
Freedom of thought 335
Freedom of conscience 335
Free-will 336
Fatality 338
Foreknowledge 343
Theoretic summary of the springs of human action 345
Natural rights and justice 349
Right of Property-Robbery 351
Charity-Love of the neighbour 352
Maternal and filial affection 354
Virtues and vices 356
The passions 361
Selfishness 362
Characteristics of the virtuous man 365
Self-knowledge 365
Earthly joys and Sorrows 363
Happiness and unhappiness 368
Loss of those we love 373
Disappointments-Ingratitude-Blighted affections 374
Antipathetic unions 375
Fear of death 376
Weariness of Life-Suicide 377
Future joys and sorrows 383
Annihilation-Future life 383
Intuition of future joys and sorrows 383
Intervention of God in rewards and punishments 384
Nature of future joys and sorrows 385
Temporal sorrows 391
Expiation and repentance 394
Duration of future penalties 397
Resurrection of the body 403
Paradise-Hell-Purgatory-Original sin 404

THE SPIRITS’ BOOK by ALLAN KARDEC ( the continuation ) (Spirituality, New-Age - Editions, Livres)    -    Author : Melanie - Canada

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Zen-Blogs >> Spirituality, New-Age >> Blog #52