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
13. The employments of spirits are proportioned to their advancement, to the knowledge they possess, to their capacities, to their experience, and to the degree of confidence reposed in them by the sovereign Master. In the spirit-world, there is no privilege, no favor that is not the consequence of personal merit; all the arrangements of that higher world are weighed in the scales of absolute justice. The most important missions are confided only to those who are known, by God, to be, at once, able to fulfill them worthily, and incapable of betraying them or of failing in the accomplishment of the tasks committed to them. While, under the very eye of God, the most worthy of these exalted servants of the Most High compose the Supreme Council of the Universe, others, a degree below them, are charged with the direction of the various solar systems, and others, again, of a yet lower rank in the hierarchy of perfected spirits – that is to say, of those whose intellectual acquirements and absolute devotion to general interests have placed them in the highest category of the spirit-world – are charged with the direction of a single planet. After these, in the order of their personal advancement and hierarchical rank, are the spirits who, though of high advancement in comparison with those of lower degree, are still far from having attained to the vast knowledge and perfect purity of the highest category, and who are entrusted with the direction of a single nation, of a single family, of a single individual, are charged to push forward some special branch of progress, or to superintend the various operations of nature, all of which, to the minutest details of the work of creation, are carried on under the constant supervision of spirits specially charged, for the time being, with the special task which, through their degree of knowledge and of devotion, they are best fitted to discharge. In the vast and harmonious unity of creation, there are occupations for all varieties and degrees of capacity, of aptitude, of devotion; occupations that are solicited with ardent desire and accepted with joy and gratitude, because devotion and service are means of advancement for the spirits who aspire to the ineffable felicity of the supreme degree.
14. Besides the great missions which are confided only to spirits of the higher degrees, there are others, of every degree of importance, which are entrusted to spirits of corresponding degrees of advancement; so that every spirit, even those who are incarnated, may be said to have his own – that is to say, certain duties to perform for the for the benefits of his fellows – from the father of a family, on whom is laid the task of bringing forward his children, to the man of genius who endows society with new elements of progress. It is among the spirits who are charged with these missions of secondary importance that weakness, unfaithfulness, and withdrawals often occur, failures in duty that delay the advancement of the individual who is guilty of them, but that have no disturbing effect on the general course of events.
15. Thus all the intelligent beings of the creation assist on carrying the general work of the universe, whatever the degree of development at which they have arrived, and each of them according to his possibilities; some of them in the state of incarnation, others in the spirit-state. There is activity everywhere; from the bottom of the ladder to the top, all are learning, aiding one another, mutually supporting each other, and holding out a helping hand to assist each other in reaching the summit.
Solidarity is thus established between the spirit-world and the corporeal world, in other words, between spirits and men, between spirits in freedom and spirits in the capacity of the flesh. And thus, too, all true sympathies, all pure and sincere affections are perpetuated, strengthened, and ennobled, through the purification and continuation of the affectionate relationships of spirits, in their successive existences.
Everywhere, throughout infinity, are life and activity; not a corner of the boundless extent around us that is not peopled with intelligent creatures; not a region that is not incessantly traversed by innumerable legions of radiant beings, invisible to the gross senses of spirits in flesh, but the sight of whom fills with admiration and rapture the souls that are freed from the veil of materiality. Everywhere, throughout the universe, there is happiness proportioned to the degree of progress achieved, to the greatness of the tasks accomplished; for each spirit carries within himself the elements of his happiness, according to the category in which he is placed, for the time being, by his degree of advancement.
The happiness of spirits depending on their own personal qualities and not on any physical surroundings, it exists wherever there are spirits who are capable of being happy; but there is not, throughout the universe, any fixed and circumscribed region of happiness. The fully purified spirits find their happiness wherever they may be, in any and every part of the universe, because they contain the elements of that happiness in themselves, and they are always able to contemplate the Divine Majesty, because God is everywhere.
16. Happiness, nevertheless, is not simply a matter of personal feeling, for, if it were merely individual, if it could not be shared with others, it would be selfish and incomplete; to be perfect, it requires communion of thought and feeling on the part of those who are able to understand and to sympathize with one another. The higher spirits, attracted to each other by similitude of ideas, tastes, and sentiments, form vast homogeneous groups, or families, in which each individual radiates his own qualities and receives the serene and beneficent emanations of all the other individualities of the group, whose members sometimes disperse, to occupy themselves with the missions entrusted to them, sometimes assemble at some given point of space, to inform each other of the result of their labors, sometimes gather round a spirit of higher degree, to receive his counsels or his directions.
17. Although spirits are everywhere, the globes of the universe are the centers in which they assemble by preference, according to the similarity existing between themselves and those by whom they are inhabited. Globes of great advancement are surrounded by the shining hosts of the higher spirits; around globes of low degree, low and backward spirits swarm in crowds. The earth is still one of the latter. Each globe has, therefore, so to say, its own population of incarnate and disincarnate spirits, supplied, for the most part, by the incarnation and disincarnation of the same spirits. The population of the various globes is more stable in proportion to their backwardness, because, the lower the globe, the more closely are its spirits attached to matter; it is more floating in the globes of higher degree, because their spirits are more emancipated from the influences of materiality. But the higher spirits voluntarily quit the splendid worlds which are foci of light and joy, and go to worlds of lower degree, in order to sow therein the germs of progress, to bring consolation and hope to the spirits incarnated in them, to raise the courage of those who are sinking under the trials and struggles of corporeal life; - and they sometimes incarnate themselves in the world whose improvement they wish to help forward, in order to accomplish their undertaking with greater efficiency and success.
18. In the boundless immensity around us, where, then, is “Heaven”? “Heaven” is everywhere; it has no fixed site, no place, no circumscribing limits; the globes of high degree are the last stations on the road which leads to it; virtue opens the gates of that supreme abode; vice bars its entrance; for only those who have reached the highest degree of purity can cross its threshold.
In contrast with this grand and magnificent view of the universe, which shows us its remotest regions peopled with intelligent inhabitants, which assigns to all the objects of creation a meaning, a purpose, and an aim, how mean, how petty, is the doctrine which limits the human race to an imperceptible point of space, which represents mankind as beginning at a given instant, and as being destined to come to an end, at a given time, with the world which it inhabits, the career of the race embracing but a moment in eternity! How sad, dark, and chilling is the doctrine which represents the rest of the universe, before, during, and after, the brief episode of the career of the human race, as void of life and movement, an incommensurable desert plunged in eternal silence! How prolific of despair is such a doctrine, presenting to the mind the picture of the small group of the elect, absorbed in perpetual contemplation, while the great majority of the only creatures of immensity are condemned to endless torments! How cruel, for all loving hearts, is such a doctrine, interposing an impassable barrier between the living and the dead! The souls of the elect, in their selfish happiness, think only of their own beatitude; the souls of the damned, in their hopeless eternity of misery, think only of their own despair. Is it strange that selfishness should be rife upon the earth, when it is presented to mankind as reigning supreme in “Heaven”? And how narrow, how degrading, is the idea given, by such a doctrine, of the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of God!
How grand, how sublime, on the contrary, is the idea of the Divine Being that is given by Spiritism! What vast horizons does its doctrine open out to the mind, what splendid vistas does it unroll to the imagination and the heart! But what proves it to be true? Reason, in the first place; revelation, in the second place; and, lastly, its accordance with the scientific progress of the day. Between two doctrines, one of which debases, while the other exalts, our idea of the attributes of God; - one of which is in contradiction, and the other in harmony, with the law of progress that is visible in every department of existence; - one of which remains stationary while the other leads us incessantly forwards, - common sense suffices to show us which is the nearest to the truth. In presence of two doctrines thus diametrically opposed to each other, let each inquirer interrogate his own consciousness, his own aspirations, and an inner voice will reply to his inquiry as to which is the true one. The aspirations of mankind are the voice of God, and cannot deceive us.
19. But why, then, it may be asked, has God not revealed all truth to mankind, from the beginning? For the same reason which renders it impossible to impart, to an infant, the knowledge that is imparted to an adult. The restricted revelation of former ages was sufficient for the needs of the human race in the period for which it was intended; the Divine revealing are always proportioned to the mental and moral capacities of the spirits to whom they are made. Those who, at the present day, are receiving a fuller revelation, are the same spirits who received the more restricted revelation of the earlier ages, but who, since that earlier period, have increased in intelligence.
Before physical science had revealed to mankind the existence of the living forces of nature, the mechanism of the heavens, the true nature and mode of formation of the earth, could men have understood the immensity of space, and the plurality of the worlds of the universe? Before geology had shown them the constitution of the earth, could they have dislodged “hell” from its depths, or understood the allegorical meaning of the six days of the creation? Before astronomy had discovered the laws which regulate the universe, could they have seen that there is neither “high” nor “low” in space, and that the sky is neither above the clouds nor bounded by the stars? Before psychological science had come into existence, could they have identified themselves with spiritual life, or have formed to themselves a conception of an existence after death, whether happy or unhappy, otherwise than in connection with some fixed locality and under some physical form? No; comprehending through the senses rather than by thought, the idea of an illimitable universe was too vast for their intelligence; it was needful to reduce the idea of the universe to narrower proportions, in order to bring it within their sphere of vision, deferring its broader presentation to a later period. A partial revelation was useful in the past, and the wisdom of the Providential ordering is shown in this proportioning of its teachings to the needs and capacities of the time in which it was made; but it is insufficient at the present day, and they are wrong who, not taking into account the progress of ideas, imagine that they can hold men of mature age in the leading-strings of infancy
(See The Gospel Explained by Spirits, chap. III).
Part Second - Examples
MR. SANSON (II)
(Spiritist Society of Paris, April 25, 1862; after evoking the spirit of Mr. Sanson in the usual manner.)
Q. Under what aspect did the spirits appear to you? Was it under the human form?
A. Yes; our spirit-friends have always told us, upon the earth, that they retain, in the spirit-world, the transitory form which they wore in their last earthly life; and this is true. But what a difference between the clumsy human machine, that drags itself along, so heavily, upon the earth, with its load of sorrow and trials, and the wondrous fluidicity of the spirit-bodies! There is no ugliness among them, for their features have lost the expression of harshness which is characteristic of the human race. Their beauty may truly be termed beatific, and their movements are the perfection of elegance and grace. The language of spirits has intonations unknown to human speech; and their glance has the depth and brilliance of a star. Try to imagine al the beauty that can be built up by the power of the Supreme Architect, and you will have formed to yourselves some faint idea of the appearance of spirits.
Q. How do you appear to yourself? Do you seem to yourself to possess a form that is limited and circumscribed, although fluidic? Do you feel that you have a head, a trunk, arms, and legs?
A. Spirits, having preserved a form which resembles the human, but idealized, divinized, have, undoubtedly, all the members of which you speak. I feel myself perfectly in possession of a form and fingers; for we can, by our will, render ourselves visible to you, or press your hands. I am close to you, and I have pressed the hand of each one of you, without your being aware of my doing so; our fluidicity enables us to be everywhere without occupying any point of space, without causing you any sensation, if such be our desire. At this very moment, your hands are folded, and my hands are in yours. I say to you “I love you!” yet my body takes up no place, the light passes through it; and what would seem to you to be a miracle, if you could see it, is, for spirits, the continuous action of every instant.
Spirit-sight has no relation to human sight, just as the spirit-body has no real likeness to the human body, for it is, in generals and in details, absolutely different from the latter. The perspicacity of a spirit may be called divine, in this sense, viz., that it extends to everything, even to the divining of your thoughts; and his form is so completely under his control that he can, when he chooses to do so, assume the appearance best calculated to recall him to your remembrance; but in point of fact, the advanced spirit, who has finished with the trials of an earthly life, has an affection for the form which has brought him a step forward on the upward road.
Q. Spirits are of no sex; but as, only a few days ago, you were a man, is there, in your present state, more of the masculine nature than of the feminine? And how is it, in this respect, with spirits who have been separated for a longer time from their earthly body?
A. For us, there is neither “masculine” nor “feminine;” there is no procreation among spirits. Spirits are created by God; since, for the carrying out of His marvelous designs, He has willed that they should reincarnate themselves upon the earth, it was necessary to provide them with the means of effecting the reproduction of fleshly bodies through the agency of males and females. But you can understand, without its being necessary to enter into any explanation of the matter, that there can be no sex in spirits.
It has always been asserted by spirits that they are of no sex, because the sexes are only needed for the reproduction of bodies, and as spirits do not reproduce themselves, sex would be useless to them. Our question was intended, not to draw forth a fresh assertion of this fact, but to ascertain whether, after a death so recent as that of Mr. Sanson, the spirit retained, in this respect, any impression of his terrestrial state. Spirits who have reached a certain degree of purity are perfectly aware of their non-sexual nature; but, among those of lower degree, who are not yet dematerialized, there are many who believe themselves to be still what they were upon the earth, to have preserved the same passions and the same desires, and imagine themselves to be still men or women; hence it is that some of them have declared that spirits are of one or other sex. The contradictions observable in the statements of spirits are due, in part, to the different degrees of advancement at which they have arrived, in part to pre-conceived ideas, and the want of careful examination, on the part of those who question them.
Q. How does our present séance appear to you? Do we appear, to your new perceptions, the same as we did when you were among us? Can you see each of us as clearly, as distinctly, as formerly?
A. Much more clearly, for I can read the thoughts of each, and I am delighted with the excellent impression that is caused me by the good intentions of all those who are here assembled. I wish that the same cordial understanding could be arrived at, not only in Paris, by the union of all the spirits circles, but also throughout the whole France,* too many of whose spiritist societies are separated by jealousy, excited by the machinations of quarrelsome spirits who take pleasure in discord and disunion, whereas spiritism should be synonymous with the complete and absolute forgetfulness of the ME.
Q. You say you read our thoughts; can you explain to us the way in which this perception of thought is effected?
A. It is not easy to do so; to explain to you the prodigious faculty of the spirit-sight, it would be necessary to begin by giving you the knowledge of a whole arsenal of agents unknown to you, and by rendering you as learned as we are, which could not be done, because your faculties are limited by your physical organism. Patience! Try to become good, and you will attain to this knowledge. As yet, you have only the amount of knowledge which corresponds to you degree of advancement; in course of time, you will be as we are. Try to die the death of the righteous, that so you may be able to learn much in the other life. Let curiosity – which is the stimulus of the reflective mind – lead you on gently to the passage which will procure for you the satisfaction of all your desires for knowledge, past, present, and future! Meanwhile, let me say (by way of replying, as well as I can, to the question you have just addressed me), that the air by which you are surrounded, impalpable as we are, takes the impress of your thought; every breath you exhale is, so to say, a page on which your thought is written; and all those pages are read, and commented upon, by the spirits who are incessantly about you, messengers of a divine telegraphy which nothing escapes.
• At the time of his decease, ALLAN KARDEC was engaged in elaborating the bases of a General Association, having its seat in Paris, and to which all the Spiritist Societies of Paris, of France, and of all other countries, were to be affiliated. – TR.