Spiritism: Precepts from the Spirits’ Teachings
Translated into English by A. L. Xavier Jr. and Carol de Macedo. Based on the essay “O Espiritismo em sua mais simples expressão” by A. Kardec, 2nd ed., FEESP (1989).
The below was written by Allan Kardec in the 1860s, giving his personal explanation of the principles of ethical conduct inferred from the Spiritist codification.
35. The essential aim of Spiritism is human improvement. In it one should only seek for what can really help humanity’s improvement.
36. The true spiritist is not one who believes in its manifestations, but he who profits from the teachings given by spirits. It is useless to believe if this faith does not make one progress positively and also do the utmost for one’s fellow creatures.
37. Selfishness, pride, vanity, greed, hate, enviousness, jealousy and slander are like venomous plants to the soul, the stems of which must be pulled daily; their antidote is charity and humbleness.
38. Spiritism faith is only useful for those who can say: we are better today than yesterday.
39. The value which humanity gives to its ephemeral goods is inversely proportional to his faith in the spirit life. His doubts concerning the future make him look for his happiness in this world even at the sacrifice of his fellow creatures.
40. Earth afflictions are remedies to the soul. They salve for the future like a painful surgical treatment which relieves a sick person’s life and brings back heath. For this reason Christ said: ”Blessed are the afflicted for ye shall be comforted”.
41. Always look below you and not above you when you are suffering. Think about those who suffer more than you.
42. Despair is a natural feeling for he who believes everything ends with death. It is nonsense for those who believe in the future.
43. Humankind is sometimes the artisan of his own unhappiness in this world. If he went back to the source of his misfortunes he would see that his pains are the consequence of his unawareness, pride and avidity and, therefore, his violation of God’s law.
44. Prayer is an act of worship. Praying to God is to think about Him, to approach Him, to get in touch with Him.
45. He who prays with devotion and trust is stronger against evil’s temptations and God sends good spirits to watch over him. It is an ever fulfilled request provided if it is honest.
46. Pray a lot is unimportant, but one must pray well. Some people believe that prayer’s merit lies in its length, while they close their eyes to their flaws. Prayer is an occupation to them, a time killer, and not a self evaluation.
47. He who asks God to forgive his mistakes is only pardoned if he changes his behavior. Good actions are better than prayers since acts are more valuable than words.
48. Prayer is recommended by all good spirits. It is also practiced by imperfect spirits as a way of alleviating their sufferings.
49. Prayer can not change providence resolutions. But suffering spirits feel less deprived of protection and become less unhappy through praying. Prayer stimulates their courage and will for improvement through regret and repair. It can also change spirit’s inclination from evil. In this sense, prayer can not only lessen but also shorten sufferings.
50. Let each one pray according to their beliefs and in the manner they consider more convenient, since form is nothing, but thought is everything. Sincerity and pureness of purpose is essential. Good thoughts are worth more than thousand words which are like the noise of a mill and where the heart can not be found.
51. God makes some persons strong and powerful in order for them to help the weak. Powerful people who oppress the weak are warned by God. In general they receive their punishment in the present life without impairing their future.
52. Fortune is a bounty whose owner can only temporarily enjoy it, since he can not take it to the grave. The affluent will be severely called to account for the use of their wealth.
53. Fortune is a more dangerous test than misery since it constitutes a temptation to the abuse and excess, and because it is harder to be moderate than extravagant.
54. The ambitious person who prevails and the rich one who sustains his material pleasures should be pitied rather than envied, since one must take into account the consequences. By the terrible examples of the dead who have communicated to us their experience after death, Spiritism demonstrates the truthfulness of Christ’s statement: ”He who elevates himself will be humiliated and he who humiliates himself will be elevated”.
55. Charity is the supreme Christ’s law: ”Love each other as brothers and sisters; – Love your neighbor as yourself; – forgive your enemies; – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; all this is summed up in the word charity.
56. Charity is not only alms-giving, for there can be charity in thought, in words and in acts. He who is charitable in thoughts is lenient towards his fellow person’s mistakes; he who is charitable in words say nothing against his fellow person, and he who is charitable in acts helps his fellow sisters and brothers according to his capacity.
57. A poor person who shares his bred with someone even poorer is more charitable and has much more merit in God’s eyes than those who, lacking for nothing, give only that which is superfluous to them.
58. He who declares himself a Christian and, at same time, feeds evil feelings, hate, jealousy and lack of charity towards his neighbor, is both lying and offending God.
59. People of all casts, sects and races, you are all brothers and sisters since God is calling all you to Him. Join your hands in whatever manner you may adore Him. Do not anathematize each other, as anathema is a violation of the law of charity proclaimed by Christ.
60. Through selfishness, people are in eternal conflict while through charity they will be at peace. If charity alone constitutes the basis of human institutions, people’s happiness in this world will be guaranteed. According to Christ words, only charity will also guarantee future happiness, since all virtues which can lead people to perfection are implicitly contained in it. There will be no room for selfishness, vanity, hate, jealousy and slander with the true charity that was taught and practiced by Christ, nor for strong attachment to this world’s goods. For this reason, Spiritism exhorts the maxim:
WITHOUT CHARITY THERE IS NO SALVATION
Unbelievers! You can laugh at the spirits, mock in the face of those who believe in their manifestations. Laugh then, if you dare, at this maxim which they have just stated and which keeps you alive since, if charity disappeared from earth, people would destroy themselves and you would probably be among the first victims. The time is coming when this principle, fully proclaimed in the name of the spirits, will constitute a safe guarantee and a title of the trustfulness of those who have brought it recorded on their own hearts.
A spirit said: ”They mocked at the turning tables, but they will never laughed at their resulting philosophy and ethics”. In fact, after a couple of years, we are far from these first phenomena which entertained curious and lazy for a short while. You say that these ethics is old fashioned: ”The spirits should be clever enough to give us something new” (A witty phrase of several critics). So be it! If it is old fashioned, it is ageless and people are no less guilty for having practiced it so sparingly. Only real truths are eternal. Spiritism comes to remember it, and it do so not through a revelation of a sole person, but through the voices of the spirits which, as a last trumpet proclaim: ”Believe that all those whom you call dead are more alive than yourselves, since they can see and listen to what is hidden to you. Admit them, who come to talk to you, your relatives, friends and all those whom you once loved on earth and that you believed forever lost.” Unhappy are those who believe everything finishes with the body, since they will be fiercely undeceived. Unhappy are those who are uncharitable, for they will suffer what they had done to others. Listen to the voices of the suffering who have came to say: ”We suffer because we did not recognize God’s power and doubt his infinite mercy. We suffer because of our pride, our selfishness, greed and all bad passions which we had not restrained. We suffer for all evil we did to our fellow beings through the lack of charity.
Unbelievers! Say if this doctrine which teaches such things is worth laughing at, if it is good or not! From the point of view of the social order, say if we could be happy or not, better or not if we practiced it!