- Is the soul reincarnated immediately after its separation from the body?
“Sometimes immediately, but more often after intervals of longer or shorter duration. In the higher worlds, reincarnation is almost always immediate. Corporeal matter in those worlds being less gross than in the worlds of lower advancement, a spirit, while incarnated in them, retains the use of nearly all his spirit-faculties, his normal condition being that of your somnambulists in their lucid state.”
– How long may these intervals last?
“From a few hours to thousands of ages. Strictly speaking, there are no fixed limits to the period of erraticity or wandering, which may be prolonged for a very considerable time, but which. however, is never perpetual. A spirit is always enabled, sooner or later, to commence a new existence which serves to effect the purification of its preceding existences.”
–Does the duration of the state of erraticity depend on the will of the spirit, or may it be imposed as an expiation?
“It is a consequence of the spirit’s free-will. Spirits act with full discernment; but, in some cases, the prolongation of this state is a punishment inflicted by God, while in others, it has been granted to them at their own request, to enable them to pursue studies which they can prosecute more effectually in the disincarnate state.”
- In what way do wandering spirits obtain instruction? It can hardly be in the same way as men.
“They study their past, and seek out the means of raising them-selves to a higher degree. Possessed of vision, they observe all that is going on in the regions through which they pass. They listen to the discourse of enlightened men, and to the counsels of spirits more advanced than themselves, and they thus acquire new ideas.”
- 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 keeps 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 parth which they ought to follow.”
- Can spirits in the state of erraticity enter all the other worlds?
“That depends on their degree of advancement. When a spirit has quitted the body, he is not necessarily disengaged entirely from matter, and he still belongs to the world in which he has lived, or to a world of the same degree, unless he has raised himself during his earthly life to a world of higher degree; and this progressive elevation should be the constant aim of every spirit, for without it lie would never attain to perfection. A spirit, however, may enter worlds of higher degree; but, in that case, he finds himself to be a stranger in them. He can only obtain, as it were, a glimpse of them; but such glimpses often serve to quicken his desire to improve and to advance, that he may become worthy of the felicity which is enjoyed in them, and may thus be enabled to inhabit them in course of time.”
- Can the spirits who occupy these worlds quit them at pleasure?
“Yes, they can leave them for any other region to which they may have to go. They are like birds of passage alighting on an island in order to rest and recover strength for reaching their destination.”
– Do spirits, arrived at absolute perfection, possess the complete knowledge of the future?
“‘Complete is not the word; for God alone is the sovereign master, and none can attain to equality with Him.”
247 . Do spirits need to travel in order to see two different points? Can they, for instance, see the two hemispheres of the globe at the same time?
“As spirits transport themselves from point to point with the rapidity of thought, they may be said to see everywhere at the tame time. A spirit’s thought may radiate at the same moment on many different points; but this faculty depends on his purity. The more impure the spirit, the narrower is his range of sight. It is only the higher spirits who can take in a whole at a single glance.”
The faculty of vision. among spirits, is a property inherent in their nature, and which resides in their whole being, as light resides in every part of a luminous body. It is a sort of universal lucidity, which extend. to everything. which embraces at once time, space, and things. and in relation to which, darkness or material obstacles have no existence. And a moment’s reflection shows us that this must necessarily be the case. In the human being. sight being produced by the play of an organ acted upon by light, It follows that, without light. man finds himself in darkness but the faculty of vision being an attribute of the spirit himself, independently of any exterior agent, spirit-sight is independent of light. (Vide Ubiquity, Nº 92, p. 91.)
264. What is it that decides a spirit’s choice of the trials which he determines to undergo?
“He chooses those which may serve to expiate faults, and at the same time help him to advance more quickly. In view of these ends, some may impose upon themselves a life of poverty privations, in order to exercise themselves in bearing them with courage; others may wish to test their powers of resistance by the temptations of fortune and of power, much more dangerous, because of the bad use that may be made of them, and the evil passions that may be developed by them; others, again, may desire to strengthen their good resolutions by having to struggle against the influence of vicious surroundings.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- How can a man be responsible for deeds, and atone for faults, of which he has no remembrance? How can he profit by the experience acquired in existences which he has forgotten? We could understand that the tribulations of life might be a lesson for him if he remembered the wrong-doing which has brought them upon him; but if he forgets his former existences, each new existence is, for him, as though it were his first, and thus the work is always to be begun over again. How is this to be reconciled with the justice of God?
“With each new existence a spirit becomes more intelligent, and better able to distinguish between good and evil. Where would be his freedom if he remembered all his past ? When a spirit reenters his primitive life (the spirit-life), his whole past unrolls itself before him. He sees the faults which he has committed, and which are the cause of his suffering, and he also sees what would have prevented him from committing them; he comprehends the justice of the situation which is assigned to him, and he then seeks out the new existence that may serve to repair the mistakes of the one which has just passed away. He demands new Trials analogous to those in which he has failed, or which he considers likely to aid his advancement; and he demands of the spirits who are his superiors to aid him in the new Task he is about to undertake, for he knows that the spirit who will be appointed as his guide in that new existence will endeavour to make him cure himself of his faults by giving him a sort of intuition of those he has committed in the past. This intuition is the evil thought, the criminal desire, which often come to you, and which you instinctively resist, attributing your resistance to the principles you have received from your parents, while it is due in reality to the voice of your conscience; and that voice is the reminiscence of your past, warning you not to fall again into the faults you have already committed. He who, having entered upon a new existence, undergoes its Trials with fortitude, and resists its temptations to wrong-doing, rises in the hierarchy of spirits, and takes a higher place when he returns into the normal life.”
If we have not an exact remembrance, during our corporeal life, of what we have been, and of the good or evil we have done, in our preceding existences, we have the intuition of our past, of which we have a reminiscence in the instinctive tendencies that our conscience, which is the desire we have conceived to avoid committing our past faults in the future, warns us to resist.
- In worlds more advanced than ours, where the human race is not a prey to our physical wants and infirmities, do men understand that they are better off than we are? Happiness is usually relative; it is felt to be such by comparison with a state that is less happy. As some of those worlds, though better than ours, have not reached perfection, the men by whom they are inhabited must have their own troubles and annoyances. Among us, the rich man, although he has not to endure the physical privations that torture the poor, is none the less a prey to tribulations of other kinds that embitter his life. What I ask is, whether the inhabitants of those worlds do not consider themselves to be just as unhappy, according to their Standard of happiness, as we consider ourselves to be according to ours; and whether they do not, like us, complain of their fate, not having the remembrance of an inferior existence to serve them as a standard of comparison ?
“To this question two different answers must be given. Three are some worlds among those of which you speak the inhabitants of which have a very clear and exact remembrance of their past existences, and therefore can and do appreciate the happiness which God permits them to enjoy. But there are others, of which the inhabitants, though placed, as you say, in better conditions than yours, are, nevertheless, subject to great annoyances, and even to much unhappiness, and who do not appreciate the more favourable conditions of their life, because they have no remembrance of a state still more unhappy. But if they do not rightly appreciate those conditions as men, they appreciate them more justly on their return to the spirit-world.”
Is there not, in the forgetfulness of our past existences, and especially when they have been painful, a striking proof of the wisdom and beneficence of Providential arrangements? It is only in worlds of higher advancement, and when the remembrance of our painful existences in the past Is nothing more to us than the shadowy remembrance of an unpleasant dream, that those existences are allowed to present themselves to our memory. Would not the painfulness of present suffering, in worlds of low degree, be greatly aggravated by the remembrance of all the miseries we may have had to undergo in the past? These considerations should lead us to conclude that whatever has been appointed by God is for the best, and that it is not our province to find fault with His works, nor to decide upon the way in which He ought to have regulated the universe.
The remembrance of our former personality would be attended, in our present existence, with many very serious disadvantages. In some cases, it would cause us cruel humiliation in others, it might incite us to pride and vanity in all cases, it would be a hindrance to the action of our free-will. God gives us for our amelioration just what is necessary and sufficient to that end, viz., the voice of our conscience and our instinctive tendencies. He keeps from us what would be for us a source of injury. Moreover, if we retained the remembrance of our own former personalities and doings, we should also remember those of other people a kind of knowledge that would necessarily exercise a disastrous influence upon our social relations. Not always having reason to be proud of our past, it is evidently better for us that a veil should be thrown over it. And these considerations are in perfect accordance with the statements of spirits in regard to the existence of higher worlds than ours. In those worlds. in which moral excellence reigns, there is nothing painful in the remembrance of the past, and therefore the inhabitants of those happier worlds remember their preceding existence as we remember to-day what we did yesterday. As to the sojourns they may have made in worlds of lower degree, it is no more to them, as we have already said, than the remembrance of a disagreeable dream.
The Spirits’ Book by Allan Kardec . Date of Publication: April 18, 1857