Allan Kardec

I have begun working my way through a book by Allan Kardec. I will certainly not be done reading it any time soon; in fact, I may never finish the entire book! This is because of the sort of book it is. First, a bit about the author, and then I will share just a little of what I have read so far.

Allan Kardec was a French educator, living from 1804 to 1869. He is best remembered as the systematizer of “spiritism”. In his 50’s already, he became interested in a phenomenon gaining widespread appeal in high society, namely contacting spirits of departed souls. He and others experimented with various methods of communicating with these spirits, and receiving information from them. What began as merely frivolous entertainment gradually evolved into an awareness that these spirits were attempting to convey information.

The Spirits Book was Kardec’s first publication of the results of this experimentation. The body of the book consists of 1019 questions which were put to the spirits, and their answers. While it is not at all difficult to read, it is written in the 19th century, translated in the 1870’s into English. Thus it contains the typical wordiness of 19th century writing. But with that caveat lector, the book contains much fascinating stuff, especially given its date.

In the introduction (which is as far as I’ve gotten so far!) Kardec summarizes the information received from the spirit dimension. And it is amazing to me how much it agrees with information of the spirit dimension received from other, more contemporary, sources.

I have been reading about near-death experiences, for example, for over thirty years, fascinated by the information these experiencers bring back from the spiritual dimension. More recently I have been receiving information about the spiritual dimension from other sources. And every one of these sources is almost completely in agreement. There is a consistency which cannot be ignored. There has to be something about all these messages which tell us at least a bit about heaven, the spiritual dimension.

And I find that much of this information is in line with biblical writings as well. The Bible does not give us a great deal of information about heaven, mostly hints and small glimpses. The theology gleaned from the Bible does differ at some key points from the information received more experientially. I don’t know all the answers to these discrepancies. I trust God in this. My position is that I don’t need to know all the answers, that I only need to trust and obey. I follow, obedient to where he may lead, trusting in his love and infinite care for me. He will not lead me astray.

I cannot share the entire summary of key points of the doctrine transmitted by the spirits to Allan Kardec and his associates. They cover over six pages! But here are just a few, to possibly whet your appetite.

“The spirit-world is the normal, primitive, eternal world, pre-existent to, and surviving, everything else.

“The corporeal world is only secondary; it might cease to exist, or never have existed, without changing the essentiality of the spiritual world.

“The soul is an incarnated spirit, whose body is only its envelope.

“On quitting the body, the soul re-enters the world of spirits from which it came, and from which it will enter upon a new material existence after a longer or shorter lapse of time, during which its state is that of an errant or wandering spirit.

“The incarnated spirit is under the influence of matter; the man who surmounts this influence, through the elevation and purification of his soul, raises himself nearer to the superior spirits, among whom he will one day be classed. He who allows himself to be ruled by bad passions and places all his delight in the satisfaction of his gross animal appetites brings himself nearer to the impure spirits, by giving preponderance to his animal nature.

“Spirits who are not incarnated, who are errant, do not occupy any fixed and circumscribed region; they are everywhere, in space, and around us, seeing us, and mixing with us incessantly; they constitute an invisible population, constantly moving and busy about us, on every side.

During a recent visit to Sao Paulo, Brasil, I visited with my daughter-in-law about Spiritism. She and her mother go to meetings on occasion. I wished my visit had allowed me the opportunity to accompany her to one of these meetings. I gathered that the meetings consist primarily of discussion of Kardec’s ideas, and other practitioners of Spiritism, such as Chico Xavier. They apparently pray and support each other in the various troubles life tends to bring. It sounded not unlike the small group experience of most contemporary church-goers. What I would’ve liked to learn more about was whether there was much practicing of contact with spirits today, or whether they primarily focused on past writings of such experiences. Future agenda!!!