HEAVEN AND HELL
The Divine Justice Vindicated in the Plurality of Existence
The passage from the earthly life to spirit-life, future rewards and punishments, angels and devils, etc.
Followed by numerous examples of the state of the soul, during and after death.
BEING THE PRACTICAL CONFIRMATION OF "THE SPIRITS' BOOK"
BY Allan Kardec
Translated from the Sixtieth Thousand - By Anna Blackwell [London: Trubner & Co., Ludgate Hill - 1878]
Part First - Doctrine
8. Incarnation is necessary to the double progress, intellectual and moral, that has to be accomplished by spirit; it ensures his intellectual progress by compelling him to employ his activity in the various pursuits of the earthly life, and it ensures his moral progress by making him feel the need which men have of one another. Social life is the touchstone which reveals the good or bad qualities of a spirit. Kindness, malevolence, gentleness, violence, charity, selfishness, generosity, avarice, humility, pride, sincerity, hypocrisy, loyalty, treachery – in a word, all that constitutes human goodness and human badness – find their motive, aim, and stimulus, in the relations of each man with his fellows. If it were possible for a man to live alone, he would have neither vices nor virtues; for, though isolation may preserve from evil, it also annuls the possibility of goodness.
9. A single corporeal existence is manifestly insufficient to enable a spirit to acquire all the goodness he lacks, and to rid himself of all the evil that is in him. Would it be possible, for instance, for a savage to attain, in a single incarnation, to the intellectual and moral level of the most advanced European? It is physically impossible for him to do so. Must he, then, remain eternally in ignorance and barbarism, deprived of the enjoyments that can only be reached through the development of the intellectual and moral faculties? The simplest common sense suffices to show us that such a supposition would be the negation both of the justice and goodness of God and of the law of progress, which is the law of nature. And it is for this reason that God, being supremely just and good, grants to the spirit of each man as many successive existences as he needs for attaining to the perfection which is the aim of his being.
In each ne existence, a spirit brings with him, under the form of natural aptitudes, of intuitive knowledge, of intelligence, and of morality, all the gains that have been made by him in his previous existences. Thus each new existence takes him on a step further upon the road of progress.¹
10. In the intervals between his successive incarnations, a spirit returns, for a longer or shorter time, into the spirit-world, where he is happy, or unhappy, according to the good, or the evil, he has done in his previous lives. The life of the spirit-world I the normal state of the spirit, the definitive state towards which he is tending; for it is his spirit which is undying, while the state of incarnation is one of transition and passage. It is especially in the spirit-state that he reaps the fruit of the progress accomplished by him during incarnation; it is also in that state that he prepares for a new struggle with ignorance and evil, and forms the resolutions which he will strive to put into practice in his next return to the discipline of human life.
The spirit progresses also in erraticity, in which state he acquires special knowledge which he could not acquire upon the earth, and modifies the ideas acquired by him through his subjection to the action of matter. The state of incarnation and the spirit-state are for him the source of two kinds of progress, each of which is equally necessary to his advancement; and it is in order that he may reap the special benefits of each that he is made to alternate between these two modes of existence.
11. A spirit may be reincarnated upon the earth or in other material worlds. Among the latter, there are some which are further advanced than others, and in which the conditions of existence, both physical and moral, are less painful than upon the earth; but, into those happier worlds, only such spirits are admitted as have arrived at a degree of advancement in harmony with that of those worlds.
Incarnation in worlds of higher degree is, of itself, a reward for the spirits whose efforts have fitted them to share the life of those worlds, the inhabitants of which are exempted from the ills and the vicissitudes to which we are exposed upon the earth. Their body, being more fluidic, are free from the grossness of earthly flesh, and are not subject to the diseases, infirmities, or even to the needs of our present bodily state. Spirits of low degree being excluded from those worlds, their people live together in peace, with no other care than that of effecting the advancement by their intellectual activity. True fraternity reigns in those worlds, because in them selfishness has no existence; true equality reigns in them, because no proud or vain-glorious spirit could obtain admission into them; and true liberty reigns in them, because, in those worlds, there are no disorders to be repressed, no ambitious tyrants seeking to oppress their weaker brethren. In comparison with the earth, such worlds are paradises, although they are but the temporary resting-places of the spirit, on the road of progress which is leading him up to the attainment of the yet higher mode of existence that constitutes the true, definitive life of the soul. The earth, being as yet a world of low degree, and destined to serve as a place of purification for imperfect spirits, evil necessarily predominates in it, and will continue to do so until the Divine ordering shall make it the abode of spirits of greater advancement than those who are now incarnated in it.
It is thus that each spirit, progressing gradually in proportion as he accomplishes his development, arrives at length at the apogee of felicity; but, before attaining to the highest point of perfection, he enjoys increasing degrees of happiness, proportioned to each successive of his advancement. It is with the spirit, in this respect, as with a child; in his infancy, he shares the pleasures of childhood, in his youth, those which belong to adolescence, and, when he has attained to man’s state, the riper satisfactions of manhood.
12. The felicity of the perfected spirits is not a state of idle contemplation, which would be, as has frequently been pointed out, merely a state of eternal and wearisome uselessness. Spirit-life, at even the highest rungs of the ladder, is, on the contrary, a state of constant activity, though an activity exempt form fatigue. The most perfect felicity of that life consists in the enjoyment of all the splendors of the creation, which human language is incapable of describing, and of which the most exuberant human imagination would fail to form the remotest conception; - in the knowledge and comprehension of all things; in the absence of every sort of suffering, physical and moral; in an interior satisfaction, a serenity of soul that nothing can disturb; in the pure and perfect affection which unites all the beings who have attained to that elevation, and who, through the absence of evil and inferior spirits, are beyond the reach of disappointment or annoyance; and, above all, in the vision of God and in the understanding of the sublime mysteries of existence that are unveiled only to those who have rendered themselves worthy of such initiation. The happiness of the fully purified spirits consists also in the exercise of the functions with which they rejoice to be charge. They are the Messiahs, the Messengers of God, for the transmission and the execution of His volitions; they accomplish great missions preside over the formation of worlds and the maintenance of the general harmony of the universe, glorious posts at which spirits only arrive as the direct result of their perfection. Those only who have reached the highest grade of perfectibility are admitted to a knowledge of the secrets of God, and receive the direct inspiration of His thought, of which they are the immediate representatives.
¹ See foot note, chap. I, no. 3.
Part Second - Examples
MR. SANSON (II)
(Spiritist Society of Paris, April 25, 1862; after evoking the spirit of Mr. Sanson in the usual manner.)
A. Friends, I am here.
Q. We are much pleased with the conversation we had with you on the day of your funeral; and as you permit us to talk with you, we shall be very glad to continue our conversation, that we may obtain all the information you are able to give us.
A. I am quite ready to converse with you and am happy to see that you think of me.
Q. Whatever can help to enlighten us in regard to the nature of the invisible world is of the utmost importance, both to us, and to all; for it is the false idea which men form to themselves of the other life that usually leads them to skepticism. Therefore you must not be astonished at the numerous questions that we shall have to ask you.
A. I shall not be astonished; and I am waiting to know what you wish to ask me.
Q. You have described, with luminous clearness, the passage from life to death; you have told us that, at the moment when the body breathes its last, life breaks down, and the sight of the spirit is extinguished. Is this moment a painful one? Is it attended with any suffering?
A. Undoubtedly it is; for life is a succession of sufferings, and death is the complement of them all. For that reason we feel a violent wrench, as though the spirit had to make a superhuman effort to free himself from his fleshly envelope; it is this effort that absorbs our whole being and makes us lose the consciousness of what we are becoming.
This is not the case in general. Experience shows us that many spirits lose consciousness before death occurs; and that, with those who have reached a certain degree of dematerialization, the separation takes place without any effort.
Q. Do you know whether the moment of death is more painful for some spirits than for others? Is it more painful, for instance, in the case of the materialist, of him who believes that everything will be ended for him with the death of his body?
A. Certainly. The spirit who is prepared for death has already forgotten his suffering, or, rather, he is accustomed to it; and the mental quietness with which he sees the approach of death prevents him from suffering doubly, as he would otherwise do, because he knows what is awaiting him. Moral suffering is the most painful of all; and its absence, at the moment of death, diminishes immensely the pain of the separation. He who does not believe in a future life is like a prisoner under sentence of death, whose thought beholds both the gibbet and the unknown.
Q. Are there materialists so rooted in their denial of immortality as really to believe, in this solemn moment, that they are about to be plunged into annihilation?
A. There are, undoubtedly, some who believe in annihilation up to their last hour; but, at the moment of the separation, an entire change comes over the spirit’s mind. He is tortured by doubt, and anxiously asks himself what is going to become of him; he seeks for something to cling to, and finds nothing. The separation, in such a case, cannot take place without causing this impression.
A spirit gave us, on another occasion, the following description of the end of the unbeliever: -
“The confirmed unbeliever experiences, in his last moments, all the anguish of the horrible nightmare in which the sleeper seems to be at the edge of a precipice, on the point of falling into the abyss beneath him. He makes the most agonizing efforts to fly from the danger, and he is unable to move; he seeks in vain for something to stay him, some fixed point by which to keep himself out of the terrible void into which he feels himself to be slipping; he tries to call for help and is unable to make any sound. It is under the pressure of this frightful agony that the dying man is seen to writhe in the convulsion of the death-throes, wringing his hands, and gasping out stifled and inarticulate cries, all of which are the certain indications of the nightmare from which he is suffering. In ordinary nightmare, your wakening relieves you of the incubus that was oppressing you, and you rejoice to perceive that you have only been dreaming; but the nightmare of death often lasts for a very long time, even for many years, after the separation has taken place; and the suffering thus caused to the spirit is sometimes rendered still more severe by the thick darkness in which he finds himself.”
Q. You have told us that, at the moment of death, you no longer saw, but that you foresaw. By this, we understand you to mean that you no longer saw with your bodily eyes, which is perfectly comprehensible; but we should like to know whether, before the life of your body was entirely extinct, you obtained a glimpse of the spiritworld?
A. That was what I meant to say. The instant of death restores to the spirit his normal clairvoyance; the bodily eyes no longer see, but the spirit, whose sight is far more penetrating, immediately discovers around him an unknown world, and this reality, becoming suddenly visible to him, gives him – though only momentarily, it is true – a sense of intense delight, or of inexpressible distress, according to the state of his conscience and the remembrance of his past existence.
The spirit is here alluding to the instant preceding the loss of consciousness, which explains his saying “though only momentarily;” for the same agreeable or disagreeable impressions are again perceived by the spirit on his awaking in the other life.
Q. Be kind enough to tell us what you saw at the moment when your spirit-eyes were opened to the light of the other world. Describe to us, if possible, the aspect of the objects that then presented themselves to your sight.
A. When I came to myself and was able to look about me, I was dazzled, and could not understand what I saw; for the mind does not regain clearness instantaneously. But in proportion as I recovered the use of my faculties, I perceived that I was surrounded by a numerous company of friends, among whom were all the spiritprotectors who are in the habit of coming to our séances; they were rejoicing in my arrival, and welcomed me with smiles. I felt myself to be in the enjoyment of the plenitude of health and strength, and was able to accompany them, joyously and without effort, through the vast expanse of space around me. But what I saw, in my journey through immensity, cannot be described in human speech. I shall come to you again, nevertheless, to speak with you more at length of my happiness, within the limits of what it is permissible for us to say. Be quite sure of one thing, viz., that what you understand by happiness, in your world, is a fiction. Live wisely, innocently, in the spirit of charity and of loving-kindness; and you will have prepared for yourselves impressions that your greatest poets would be powerless do describe.
Faire tales are, undoubtedly, full of absurdities; but may they not be, in some of their details, an imperfect reflex of what goes on in the world of spirits? Does not Mr. Sanson’s recital of his experiences resemble the story of the beggar who, having gone to sleep in a poor and dingy hut, finds himself, on awaking, in a splendid palace and surrounded by a brilliant court? A Time of New Hope and Trials.