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Incredulity in regard to spirit-communication, when not the result of systematic opposition from selfish motives, has almost always its source in an imperfect acquaintance with the facts of the case; which, however, does not prevent a good many persons from attempting to settle the question as though they were perfectly familiar with it. It is possible to be very clever, very learned, and yet to lack clearness of judgement; and a belief in one’s own infallibility is the surest sign of the existence of this defect. Many persons, too, regard spirit manifestations as being only a matter of curiosity. Let us hope that the reading of this book will show them that the wonderful phenomena in question are something else than a pastime.

Spiritism consists of two parts: one of these, the experimental, deals with the subject of the manifestations in general; the other, the philosophic, deals with the class of manifestations denoting intelligence. Whoever has only observed the former is in the position of one whose knowledge of physics, limited to experiments of an amusing nature, does not extend to the fundamental principles of that science. Spiritist philosophy consists of teachings imparted by spirits, and the knowledge thus conveyed is of a character far too serious to be mastered without serious and persevering attention. If the present book had no other result than to show the serious nature of the subject, and to induce inquirers to approach it in this spirit, it would be sufficiently important; and we should rejoice to have been chosen for the accomplishment of a work in regard to which we take no credit to ourselves, the principles it contains not being of our own creating, and whatever honour it may obtain being entirely due to the spirits by whom it has been dictated. We hope that it will achieve yet another result-viz., that of serving as a guide to those who are desirous of enlightenment, by showing them the grand and sublime end of individual and social progress to which the teachings of Spiritism directly tend, and by pointing out to them the road by which alone that end can be reached.

Let us wind up these introductory remarks with one concluding observation. Astronomers, in sounding the depths of the sky, discovered seemingly vacant spaces not in accordance with the general laws that govern the distribution of the heavenly bodies and they therefore conjectured that those spaces were occupied by globes that had escaped their observation. On the other hand, they observed certain effects the cause of which was unknown to them; and they said to themselves, “In such a region of space there must be a world, for otherwise there would be a void that ought not to exist; and the effects we have observed imply the presence in that seeming void of such a world as their cause.” Reasoning, then, from those effects to their cause they calculated the elements of the globe whose presence they had inferred, and facts subsequently justified their inference. Let us apply the same mode of reasoning to another order of ideas. If we observe the series of beings, we find that they form a continuous chain from brute matter to man. But between man and God, who is the alpha and omega of all things, what an immense hiatus! Is it reasonable to suppose that the links of the chain stop short with man, that he can vault, without transition, over the distance which separates him from the Infinite? Reason shows us that between man and God there must be other links, just as it showed the astronomers that between the worlds then known to them there must be other worlds as yet unknown to them. What system of philosophy has filled this hiatus? Spiritism shows that it is filled with the beings of all the ranks of the invisible world, and that these beings are no other than the spirits of men who have reached the successive degrees that lead up to perfection; and all things are thus seen to be linked together from one end of the chain to the other. Let those who deny the existence of spirits tell us what are the occupants of the immensity of space which spirits declare to be occupied by them; and let those who scoff at the idea of spirit-teachings give us a nobler idea than is given by those teachings of the handiwork of God, a more convincing demonstration of His goodness and His power.

ALLAN KARDEC

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

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For more information, please check out these links:

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

– Questions & Answers section

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here.

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

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386. Could two beings, who have already known and loved each other, meet again and recognise one another, in another corporeal existence?

“They could not recognise one another; but they might be attracted to each other. The attraction resulting from the ties of a former existence is often the cause of the most intimate affectional unions of a subsequent existence. It often happens in your world that two persons are drawn together by circumstances which appear to be merely fortuitous, but which are really due to the attraction exercised upon one another by two spirits who are unconsciously seeking each other amidst the crowds by whom they are surrounded.”

-Would it not be more agreeable for them to recognise each other?

“Not always; the remembrance of past existences would be attended with greater disadvantages than you suppose. After death they would recognise one another, and would then remember the periods they had passed together.” (392.)

387. Is sympathy always the result of anterior acquaintanceship?

“No; two spirits who are in harmony naturally seek one another, without their having been previously acquainted with each other as men.”

388. May it not be that the meetings which sometimes take place between two persons, and which are attributed to chance, are really due to the action of some sort of sympathetic relationship?

“There are, among thinking beings, orders of relationship with ‘which you are not yet acquainted. Magnetism is the pilot of the science that will enable you to understand them at a future period.”

389. What is the cause of the instinctive repulsion sometimes excited in us by persons whom we see for the first time?

“The latent antipathy of two spirits who divine each other’s nature, and recognise one another, without the need of speaking together.”

390. Is instinctive antipathy allays the sign of an evil nature on the part of one or both of the parties who feel it?

“Two spirits are not necessarily evil because the)’ are not sympathetic; for antipathy may spring from a want of similarity in their way of thinking. But in proportion as they ascend, these shades of difference are effaced, and their antipathy disappears.”

391. Does the antipathy of two persons take its first beginning on the part of the better or the worse one of the two?

“It may begin simultaneously on the part of both; but, in such a case, its causes and effects are different. A bad spirit feels antipathy against whoever is able to judge and to unmask him. On seeing such a person for the first time, he knows that he will be disapproved by him; his repulsion changes into hatred or jealousy, and inspires him with the desire of doing harm to the object of his antipathy. A good spirit feels repulsion for a had one, because he knows that he will not be understood by him, and that they do not share the same sentiments; but, strong in his own superiority, he feels neither hatred nor jealousy towards him, and contents himself with avoiding and pitying him.”

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

***

For more information, please check out these links:

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

– Questions & Answers section

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here.

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

400. Does the incarnated spirit reside willingly in his corporeal envelope?

 

“You might as well ask whether a prisoner willingly remains locked up in prison. The incarnated spirit aspires incessantly after his deliverance; and the grosser his envelope, the more desirous is be to be rid of it.”

 

401. Does the soul take rest, like tile body, during sleep?

 

“No; a spirit is never inactive. The bonds which unite him to the body are relaxed during sleep; and as the body does not then need his presence, he travels through space, and enters into more direct relation with other spirits.”

 

402. How can we ascertain the fact of a spirit’s liberty during sleep?

 

“By dreams. Be very sure that, when his body is asleep, a spirit enjoys the use of faculties of which he is unconscious while his body is awake. He remembers the past, and sometimes foresees the future: he acquires more power, and is able to enter into communication with other spirits, either in this world or in some other.

 

 

“You often say, ‘I have had a strange dream, a frightful dream, without any likeness to reality’.

 

 

You are mistaken in thinking it to be so; for it is often a reminiscence of places and things which you have seen in the past, or a foresight of those which you will see in another existence, or in this one at some future time. The body being torpid, the spirit tries to break his chain, and seeks, in the past or in the future, for the means of doing so.

 

 

“Poor human beings! how little do you know of the commonest phenomena of your life! You fancy yourselves to be very learned, and you are puzzled by the most ordinary things. To questions that any child might ask, ‘What do we do when we are asleep?’ ‘What are dreams?’ you are incapable of replying.

 

 

“Sleep effects a partial freeing of the soul from the body. When you sleep, your spirit is, for the time being, in the state in which you will be after your death. The spirits who at death are promptly freed from matter are those who, during their life, have had what may be called intelligent sleep. Such persons, when they sleep, regain the society of other spirits superior to themselves. They go about with them, conversing with them, and gaining instruction from them; they even work, in the spirit-world, at undertakings which, on dying, they find already begun or completed. From this you see how little death should be dreaded, since, according to the saying of St. Paul, you ‘die daily.’

 

 

“What we have just stated refers to spirits of an elevated degree of advancement. As for those of the common mass of men, who, after their death, remain for long hours in the state of confusion and uncertainty of which you have been told by such, they go, during sleep, into worlds of lower rank than the earth, to which they are drawn back by old affections, or by the attraction of pleasures still baser than those to which they are addicted in your world; visits in which they gather ideas still viler, more ignoble, and more mischievous than those which they had professed during their waking hours. And that which engenders sympathy in the earthly life is nothing else than the fact that you feel yourselves, on waking, affectionately attracted towards those with whom you have passed eight or nine hours of happiness or pleasure.

 

On the other hand, the explanation of the invincible antipathies you sometimes feel for certain persons is also to be found in the intuitive knowledge you have thus acquired of the fact that those persons have another conscience than yours, because you know them without having previously seen them with your bodily eyes. It is this same fact, moreover, that explains the indifference of some people for others; they do not care to make new friends, because they know that they have others by whom they are loved and cherished. In a word, sleep has more influence than you think upon your life.

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

 

(Please click here for Physical and Moral Likeness, part I)

 

 

212. In children whose bodies are joined together, and who have some of their organs in common, are there two spirits, that is to say, two souls?

 

“Yes; but their resemblance to one another often makes them seem to you as though there were but one.”

 

213. Since spirits incarnate themselves in twins from sympathy whence comes the aversion that is sometimes felt by twins for one another?

 

“It is not a rule that only sympathetic spirits are incarnated as twins. Bad spirits may have been brought into this relation by their desire to struggle against each other on the stage of corporeal life.”

 

214. In what way should we interpret the stories of children fighting in their mother’s womb?

 

“As a figurative representation of their hatred to one another, which, to indicate its inveteracy, is made to date from before their birth. You rarely make sufficient allowance for the figurative and poetic element in certain statements.”

 

215. What is the cause of the distinctive character which we observe in each people?

 

“Spirits constitute different families, formed by the similarity of their tendencies, which are more or less purified according to their elevation. Each people is a great family formed by the assembling together of sympathetic spirits. The tendency of the members of these families to unite together is the source of the resemblance which constitutes the distinctive character of each people. Do you suppose that good and benevolent spirits would seek to incarnate themselves among a rude and brutal people ? No; spirits sympathise with masses of men as they sympathise with individuals. They go to the region of the earth with which they are most in harmony.”

 

216. Does a spirit, in his new existence, retain any traces of the moral character of his former existences?

 

“Yes, he may do so; but, as he improves, he changes. His social position, also, may be greatly changed in his successive lives. If, having been a master in one existence, he becomes a slave in another, his tastes will be altogether different, and it would be difficult for you to recognise him. A spirit being the same in his various incarnations, there may be certain analogies between the manifestations of character in his successive lives; but these manifestations will, nevertheless, be modified by the change of conditions and habits incident to each of his new corporeal existences, until, through the ameliorations thus gradually effected, his character has been completely changed, he who was proud and cruel becoming humble and humane through repentance and effort.”

 

217. Does a man, in his different incarnations, retain any traces of the physical character of his preceding existences?

 

“The body is destroyed, and the new one has no connection with the old one. Nevertheless, the spirit is reflected in the body; and although the body is only matter, yet, being modelled on the capacities of the spirit, the latter impresses upon it a certain character that is more particularly visible in the face, and especially in the eyes, which have been truly declared to be the mirror of the soul-that is to say, that the face reflects the soul more especially than does the rest of the body. And this is so true that a very ugly face may please when it forms part of the envelope of a good, wise, and humane spirit; while, on the other hand, very handsome faces may cause you no pleasurable emotion, or may even excite a movement of repulsion. It might seem, at first sight, that only well-made bodies could be the envelopes of good spirits, and yet you see every day virtuous and superior men with deformed bodies. Without there being any very marked resemblance between them, the similarity of tastes and tendencies may, therefore, give what is commonly called a family-likeness to the corporeal bodies successively assumed by the same spirit.”

 

The body with which the soul is clothed in a new incarnation not having any necessary connection with the one which it has quitted (since it may belong to quite another race), it would be absurd to infer a succession of existences from a resemblance which may be only fortuitous but, nevertheless, the qualities of the spirit often modify the organs which serve for their manifestations, and impress upon the countenance, and even on the general manner, a distinctive stamp. It is thus that an expression of nobility and dignity may be found under the humblest exterior, while the fine clothes of the grandee are often unable to hide the baseness and ignominy of their wearer. Some persons, who have risen from the lowest position, adopt without effort the habits and manners of the higher ranks, and seem to have returned to their native element while others, notwithstanding their advantages of birth and education, always seem to be out of their proper place in refined society. How can these facts be explained unless as a reflex of what the spirit has been in his former existences?

 

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

207. Parents often transmit physical resemblance to their children; do they also transmit to them moral resemblance?

 

“No; because they have different souls or spirits. The body proceeds from the body, but the spirit does not proceed from any other spirit. Between the descendants of the same race there is no other relationship than that of consanguinity.”

 

– What is the cause of the moral resemblance that sometimes exists between parents and children?

 

“The attractive influence of moral sympathy, which brings together spirits who are animated by similar sentiments and tendencies.”

 

208. Are the spirits of the parents without influence upon the spirit of their child after its birth?

 

“They exercise, on the contrary, a very great influence upon it. As we have already told you, spirits are made to conduce to one another’s progress. To the spirits of the parents is confided the mission of developing those of their children by the training they give to them; it is a task which is appointed to them, and which they cannot without guilt fail to fulfil.”

 

209. How is it that good and virtuous parents often give birth to children of perverse and evil nature? In other words, how is it that the good qualities of tile parents do not always attract to them, through sympathy, a good spirit to animate their child?

 

“A wicked spirit may ask to be allowed to have virtuous parents, in the hope that their counsels may help him to amend his ways; and God often confides such an one to the care of virtuous persons, in order that he may be benefited by their affection and care.”

 

210. Can parents, by their intentions and their prayers, attract a good spirit into the body of their child, instead of an inferior spirit?

 

“No; but they can improve the spirit of the child whom they have brought into the world, and is confided to them for that purpose. It is their duty to do this; but bad children are often sent as a trial for the improvement of the parents also.”

 

211. What is the cause of the similarity of character so often existing among brothers, especially between twins?

 

“The sympathy of two spirits who are attracted by the similarity of their sentiments, and who are happy to be together.”

 

 

(Please click here to read Physical and Moral Likeness, part II)

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

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 sensuality?

 

“They prove the predominance of the body over the soul. and show how deeply man has plunged himself in matter.”

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

525. Do spirits exercise an influence over the events of our lives?

 

“Assuredly they do; since they give you advice.”

 

– Do they exercise this influence in any other way. than by means of the thoughts they suggest to us; that is. to say, have they any direct action on the course of earthly events?

 

“Yes; but their action never oversteps the laws of nature.”

 

We erroneously imagine that the action of spirits can only be manifested by extraordinary phenomena we would have spirits come to our aid by means of miracles, and we imagine them to be always armed ‘with a sort of magic wand. Such is not the case; all that is done through their help being accomplished by natural means, their intervention usually takes place without our being aware of it. Thus, for instance, they bring about the meeting of two persons who seem to have been brought together by chance they suggest to the mind of some one the idea of going in a particular direction. They call your attention to some special point, if the action on your part thus led up to by their suggestion, unperceived by you, will bring about the result they seek to obtain. In this way, each man supposes himself to be obeying only his own impulse, and thus always preserves the freedom of his will.

 

526. As spirits possess the power of acting upon matter, can they bring about the incidents that will ensure tile accomplishment of a given event? For example, a man is destined to perish in a certain way, at a certain time. He mounts a ladder; the ladder breaks, and he is killed. Have spirits caused the ladder to break, in order to accomplish the destiny previously accepted by or imposed upon this man?

 

“It is very certain that spirits have the power of acting upon matter, but for the carrying out of the laws of nature, and not for derogating from them. by causing the production at a given moment of some unforeseen event, in Opposition to those laws. In such a case as the one you have just supposed, the ladder breaks because it is rotten, or is not strong enough to bear the man’s weight. But, as it was the destiny of this man to be killed in this way, the spirits about him will have put into his mind the idea of getting upon a ladder that will break down under his weight, and his death will thus have taken place naturally, and without any miracle having been required, to bring it ‘about.”

 

527. Let us take another example; one in which the ordinary conditions of matter would seem, to be insufficient to account for the occurrence of a given event. A man ‘is destined to be killed by lightning. He is overtaken by a storm, and seeks refuge under a tree; the lightning strikes the tree, and he is killed. Is it by spirits that the thunderbolt has been made to fall, and to fall upon this particular man?

 

“The explanation of this case is the same as that of the former one. The lightning has fallen on the tree at this particular moment, because it was in accordance with the laws of nature that it should do so. The lightning was not made to fall upon the tree because the man was under it, but the man was inspired with the idea of taking refuge under a tree upon which the lightning was about to fall; for the tree would have been struck all the same, whether the man had been under it or not.”

 

528. An ill-intentioned person hurls against some one a projectile which passes close by him, but does not touch him. Has the missile, in such a case, been turned aside by some friendly spirit?

 

“If the individual aimed at were not destined to be struck, a friendly spirit would have suggested to him the thought of turning aside from the path of the missile, or would have acted on his enemy’s sight in such a way as to make him take a bad aim; for a projectile, when once impelled on its way, necessarily follows the line of its projection.”

 

529. What is to be thought of the magic bullets which figure in certain legends, and which, by a mysterious fatality, infallibly reach their mark?

 

“They are purely imaginary. Man delights in the marvellous, and is not contented with the marvels of nature.”

 

– May the spirits who direct the events of our lives be thwarted by other spirits who desire to give to’ our lives a different direction?

 

“What God has willed must needs take place. If delay or hindrance occur, it can only be by His appointment.”

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

 

 

549. Is there any truth in the idea that pacts can be entered into with evil spirits?

 

“No; there is no pact, but there is sympathy, between an evil nature and evil spirits. For example; you wish to torment your neighbour, but you know not how to set about it; and you therefore call to your help some of the inferior spirits, who, like yourself, only desire to do evil, and who, in return for the help they give you in carrying out your wicked designs, expect you to help them with theirs. But it does not follow that your neighbour will not be able to get rid of such a conspiracy by an opposing conjuration and the action of his will. He who desires to do an evil deed calls evil spirits to his assistance by that mere desire; and he is then obliged to serve them as they have served him, for they, on their side, have need of his help in the evil they desire to do. What you call a pact consists simply in this reciprocity of assistance in evil.”

 

The subjection to evil spirits, in which a man sometimes finds himself, proceeds from his abandoning himself to the evil thoughts suggested by them, and not from any sort of stipulations between them and him. The idea of a pact, in the sense commonly attached to that word, is a figurative representation of the sympathy which exists between a bad man and malicious spirits.

 

550. What is the meaning of the fantastic legends of persons selling their soul to Satan in order to obtain from him certain favours?

 

“All fables contain a teaching and a moral; your mistake is in taking them literally. The one you refer to is an allegory that may be thus explained -He who calls evil spirits to his aid, in order to obtain from them the gifts of fortune or any other favour, rebels against Providence. He draws back from the mission he has received, and from the trials he was to have under gone, in his earthly life; and he will reap the consequences of this rebellion in the life to come. By this we do not mean to say that his soul is condemned to misery for ever; but as, instead of detaching himself from matter, he plunges himself deeper and deeper into it, his enjoyment of earthly pleasures will only have led to his suffering in the spirit-world, until he shall have redeemed himself from the thraldom of evil by new trials, perhaps heavier and more painful than those against which he now rebels. Through his indulgence in material pleasures, he brings himself under the power of impure spirits, and thus establishes between them and him a tacit compact which leads him to his ruin, but which it is always easy for him to break with the assistance of higher spirits, if he have the firm determination to do so.”

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

 

367. Does a spirit, in uniting itself with a body, identify itself with matter?

 

“Matter is only the envelope of the spirit, as clothing is the envelope of the body. A spirit, in uniting himself with a body, retains the attributes of his spiritual nature.”

 

368. Does a spirit exercise his faculties in full freedom after his union with a body?

 

“The exercise of faculties depends on the organs which serve them for instruments. Their exercise is weakened by the grossness of matter.”

 

– It would appear, then, that the material envelope is an obstacle to the free manifestation of a spirit’s faculties, as the opacity of ground glass is an obstacle to the free emission of light?

 

“Yes, an obstacle which is exceedingly opaque.”

 

The action exercised upon a spirit by the gross matter of his body may also be compared to that of muddy water, impeding the movements of the objects plunged into it.

 

369. Is the free exercise of a spirit’s faculties subordinated, during his incarnation, to the development of his corporeal organs?

 

“Those organs are the soul’s instruments for the manifestation of its faculties; that manifestation is, therefore, necessarily subordinated to the degree of development and perfection of those organs, as the perfection of a piece of manual work depends on the goodness of the tool employed.”

 

370. May we, from the influence of the corporeal organs, infer a connection between the development of the cerebral organs and that of the moral and intellectual faculties?

 

“Do not confound effect and cause. A spirit always possesses the faculties that belong to him; but you must remember that it is not the organs that give the faculties, but the faculties that incite to the development of the organs.”

 

– According to this view of the subject the diversity of aptitudes in each man depends solely on the state of his spirit?

 

“To say that it does so ‘solely,’ would not be altogether correct. The qualities of the incarnated spirit are, undoubtedly, the determining principle of those aptitudes; but allowance must be made for the influence of matter, which hinders every man, more or less, in the exercise of the faculties inherent in his soul.”

 

A spirit, in incarnating himself, brings with him certain characterial predispositions therefore, if we admit the existence, for each of these, of a special organ in the brain. The development of the cerebral organs is seen to be an effect, and not a cause. If his faculties were a result of his bodily organs, man would be a mere machine, without free-will, and would not be responsible for his actions. Moreover, if such were the case, we should be forced to admit that the greatest geniuses-men of science, poets, artists-are only such because a lucky chance has given them certain special organs whence it would follow, still further, that, but for the chance-acquisition of those organs, they would not have been geniuses, and that the stupidest of men might have been a Newton, a Virgil, or a Raphael, If he had been provided with certain organs a supposition still more flagrantly absurd, if we attempt to apply it to the explanation of the moral qualities.

 

For, according to this system, Saint Vincent de Paul, had he been gifted by nature with such and such an organ, might have been a scoundrel and the greatest scoundrel alive, had he only been gifted with an organ of an opposite nature, might have been a Saint Vincent de Paul. If, on the contrary, we admit that our special organs, supposing such to exist, are an effect and not a cause, that they are developed by the exercise of the faculties to which they correspond, as muscles are developed by movement, we arrive at a theory which is certainly not irrational. Let us employ an illustration equally conclusive and commonplace. By certain physiognomic signs we recognise a man who is addicted to drink. Is it those signs that make him a drunkard, or is it his drunkenness that produces those signs? It may be safely asserted that our organs are a consequence of our faculties.

 

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), page 190. Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

459. Do spirits influence our thoughts and our actions?

 

“Their influence upon them is greater than you suppose, for it is very often they who direct both.”

 

460. Have we some thoughts that originate with ourselves, and others that are suggested to us?

 

“Your soul is a spirit who thinks. You must have observed that many thoughts, and frequently very opposite ones, come into your mind reference to the same subject, and at the same time. In such cases, some of them are your own, and some are ours. This is the cause of your uncertainties, because you have thus in your mind two ideas that are opposed to each other.”

 

461. How can we distinguish between the thoughts which are our own and those which are suggested to us?

 

“When a thought is suggested, it is like a voice speaking to you. Your own thoughts are generally those which first occur to you. In point of fact, this distinction is not of much practical importance for you, and it is often better for you not to be able to make it. Man’s action is thus left in greater freedom. If he decides for the right road, he does so more spontaneously; if he takes the wrong one, he is more distinctly responsible for his mistake.”

 

462. Do men of intelligence and genius always draw their ideas from their own minds?

 

“Their ideas sometimes come from their own spirit; hut they arc often suggested to them by other spirits who judge them to be capable of understanding them, and worthy of transmitting them. When they do not find the required ideas in themselves, they make an unconscious appeal for inspiration; a sort of evocation that they make without being aware of what they are doing.”

 

If it were useful for us to be able to distinguish clearly between our own thoughts and those Which are suggested to us, God would have given us the means of doing so, as he has given us that of distinguishing between day and night. When a matter has been left by Providence in a state of vagueness, it has been left so because it is better for us.

 

463. It is sometimes said that our first thought is always the best, is this true?

 

“It may be good or bad according to the nature of the incarnated spirit. It is always well to listen to good inspirations.”

464. How can we ascertain whether a suggested thought comes from a good spirit or from an evil one?

 

“Study its quality. Good spirits give only good counsels. It is for you to distinguish between the good and the bad.”

 

465. To what end do imperfect spirits incite us to evil?

 

“To make you suffer as they do themselves.”

 

– Does that lessen their own sufferings?

 

“No; but they do so from jealousy of those who are happier than themselves.”

 

– What kind of sufferings do they wish to make us undergo?

 

“Those which result from being of an inferior order, and far removed from God.”

 

466. Why does God permit spirits to incite us to evil?

 

“Imperfect spirits are used by Providence as instruments for trying men’s faith and constancy in well-doing. You, being a spirit, must advance in the knowledge of the infinite. It is for this end that you are made to pass through the trials of evil in order to attain to goodness. Our mission is to lead you into the right road. When you are acted upon by evil influences, it is because you attract evil spirits to you by your evil desires, for evil spirits always come to aid you in doing the evil you desire to do; they can only help you to do wrong when you give way to evil desires. If you are inclined to commit murder, you will have about you a swarm of spirits who will keep this inclination alive in you; but you will also have others about you who will try to influence you for good, which restores the balance, and leaves you of your decision.”

 

It is thus that God leaves to our conscience the choice or the road we decide to follow, and the liberty of yielding to one or other of the opposing influences that act upon us.

 

467. Can we free ourselves from the influence of the spirits who incite us to evil?

 

“Yes; for they only attach themselves to those who attract them by the evil nature of their thoughts and desires.”

 

469. By what means can we neutralise the influence of evil spirits?

 

“By doing only what is right, and putting all your trust in God, you repel the influence of inferior spirits, and prevent them from obtaining power over you. Take care not to listen to the suggestions of spirits who inspire you with evil thoughts, stir up discord among you, and excite in you evil passions. Distrust especially those who flatter your pride, for, in so doing, they attack you on your weakest side. This is why Jesus makes you say in the Lord’s Prayer, “Let us not succumb to temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Spirit’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), page 226. Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Spirit’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

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