What the Advanced Spirits told Allan Kardec
Sometime in the year of 1853 or 1854, Hippolyte Léon Dénizarth Rivail, a French educator, decided to investigate the mediumship phenomena that had been breaking out in France. He began sitting at the home of a friend, Emile Charles Baudin, whose daughters, Caroline, 16, and Julie, 13, were mediums. While most of the messages coming through the two young girls were of a mundane nature, the messages became serious and profound when Rivail was present. He was informed that spirits of a higher order were communicating when he was present because they knew he could comprehend the messages and get them to the public. Among those purportedly communicating with Rivail, who adopted the pseudonym Allan Kardec, were John the Evangelist, St. Augustine, St. Vincent De Paul, St. Louis, Socrates, Plato, Fénélon, Benjamin Franklin, and Emanuel Swedenborg.
It was these advanced spirits who told him to adopt the pseudonym Allan Kardec for the books he would write "in the fulfillment of the mission" which they had for him. In 1857, Kardec's book, Le Livre des Esprits (The Spirits' Book) was published, offering answers to many questions which Kardec put to the spirits. Here are a few of those questions and answers.
Why is it that reason is not always an infallible guide?
"It would be infallible if it were not perverted by a false education, by pride, and by selfishness. Instinct does not reason. Reason leaves freedom to choice, and gives man free will."
Do all spirits pass by the road of evil to arrive at good?
"Not by the road of evil, but by that of ignorance."
How is it that some spirits have followed the road of good, and others the road of evil?
"Have they not their free-will? God has not created any spirits bad; He has created them simple and ignorant, that is to say, possessing an equal aptitude for good and for evil. Those who become bad become so of their own free-will."
How can spirits, at their origin, when they have not yet acquired self-consciousness, possess freedom of choice between good and evil? Is there in them any principle, any tendency, which inclines them towards either road rather than towards the other?
"Free-will is developed in proportion as the spirit acquires the consciousness of himself. Freedom would not exist for the spirit if his choice were solicited by a cause independent of his will. The cause which determines his choice is not in him, but is exterior to him, in the influence to which he voluntarily yields in virtue of the freedom of his will. It is this choice that is represented under the grand figure of the fall of man and of original sin. Some spirits have yielded to temptation; others have withstood it."
Whence come the influences that act upon him?
"From the imperfect spirits, who seek to take possession of him and to dominate him, and who are happy to see him succumb. It is this temptation that is allegorically pictured as Satan."
Does this influence act upon a spirit only at its origin?
"It follows him through all the phases of his existence as a spirit, until he has acquired such thorough self-command that evil spirits renounce the attempt to obsess him."
Why has God permitted it to be possible for spirits to take the wrong road?
"The wisdom of God is shown in the freedom of choice which He leaves to every spirit, for each has thus the merit of his deeds."
Since there are spirits who, from the beginning, follow unswervingly the right path, and others who wander into the lowest depths of evil, there are no doubt, many degrees of deviation between these extremes?
"Yes, certainly; and these degrees constitute the paths of the great majority of spirits."
Does the remembrance of his corporeal existence present itself to a spirit, complete and spontaneously, immediately after his death?
"No, it comes back to him little by little in proportion as he fixes his attention upon it, as objects gradually become visible out of a fog."
Do spirits of different orders mix together in the other life?
"Yes and no; that is to say, they see each other, but they are none the less removed. They shun or approach one another according to the antipathies or sympathies of their sentiments, just as is the case among yourselves. The spirit-life is a whole world of varied conditions and relationships, of which the earthly life is only the obscured reflex. Those of the same rank are drawn together by a sort of affinity and form groups or families of spirits united by sympathy and a common aim - the good, by the desire to do what is good, and the bad, by the desire to do evil, by the shame of their wrong-doing, and by the wish to find themselves among those whom they resemble."
Are all spirits reciprocally accessible to one another?
"The good go everywhere, as it is necessary that they should do, in order to bring their influence to bear upon the evil-minded. But the regions inhabited by them are inaccessible to inferior spirits, so that the latter cannot trouble those happy abodes by the introduction of evil passions."
Do spirits retain any human passion?
"Elevated spirits, on quitting their bodily envelope, leave behind them the evil passions of humanity, and retain only the love of goodness. But inferior spirits retain their earthly imperfections. Were it not for this retention, they would be of the highest order.
How is it that spirits, on quitting the earth, do not leave behind them all their evil passions, since they are then able to perceive the disastrous consequences of those passions?
"You have among you persons who are, for instance, excessively jealous; do you imagine that they lose this defect at once on quitting your world? There remains with spirits, after their departure from the earthly life, and especially with those who have had strongly marked passions, a sort of atmosphere by which they are enveloped, and which kept up all their former evil qualities; for spirits are not entirely freed from the influence of materiality. It is only occasionally that they obtain glimpses of the truth, showing them, as it were, the true path which they ought to follow."
Do spirits foresee the future?
"That, again, depends on their degree of advancement. Very often, they foresee it only partially; but, even when they foresee it more clearly, they are not always permitted to reveal it. When they foresee it, it appears to them to be the present. A spirit sees the future more clearly in proportion as he approaches God. After death, the soul sees and embraces at a glance all its past emigrations, but it cannot see what God has in store for it. This foreknowledge is only possessed by the soul that has attained to entire union with God, after a long succession of existence."
When a soldier, after a battle, meets his general in the spirit-world, does he still acknowledge him as a superior?
"Titles are nothing; intrinsic superiority is everything."
Why do not all spirits define the soul in the same way?
"All spirits are not equally enlightened in regard to these matters. Some spirits are still so little advanced intellectually as to be incapable of understanding abstract ideas; they are like children in your world. Other spirits are full of false learning, and make a vain parade of words in order to impose their authority upon those who listen to them. They, also, resemble too many in your world. And besides, even spirits who are really enlightened may express themselves in terms which appear to be different, but which, at bottom, mean the same thing, especially in regard to matters which your languae is incapable of expressing clearly, and which can only be spoken of to you by means of figures and comparisons that you mistake for literal statements of fact."