What Spirits say about reincarnation
Excerpt from "The Spirits' Book" by Allan Kardec
All spirits tend towards perfection, and are furnished by God with the means of advancement through the trials of corporeal life; but the divine justice compels them to accomplish. in new existences, that which they have not been able to do, or to complete, in a previous trial.
It would not be consistent with the justice or with the goodness of God to sentence to eternal suffering those who may have encountered obstacles to their improvement independent of their will, and resulting from the very nature of the conditions in which they found themselves placed. If the fate of mankind were Irrevocably fixed after death. God would not have weighed the actions of all in the same scales, and would not have treated them with impartiality.
The doctrine of reincarnation-that Is to say, the doctrine which proclaims that men have many successive existence-is the only one which answers to the idea we form to ourselves of the justice of God in regard to those who are placed, by circumstances over which they have no control, in conditions unfavourable to their moral advancement ; the only one which can explain the future, and furnish us with a sound basis for our hopes. because it offers us the means of redeeming our errors through new trials. This doctrine is indicated by the teachings of reason, as well as by those of our spirit-instructors.
He who is conscious of his own inferiority derives a consoling hope from the doctrine of reincarnation. If he believes in the justice of God, he cannot hope to be placed, at once and for all eternity, on a level with those who have made a better use of life than he has done but the knowledge that this inferiority will not exclude him for ever from the supreme felicity, and that he will be able to conquer this felicity through new efforts, revives his courage and sustains his energy. who does not regret, at the end of his career. that the experience he has acquired should have come too late to allow of his turning it to useful account? This tardily acquired experience will not be lost for him ; he will profit by it in a new' corporeal life.
If man had but a single existence, and if, after this existence, his future state were fixed for all eternity, by what standard of merit could eternal felicity be adjudged to that half of the human race which dies in childhood, and by what would it be exonerated from the conditions of progress, often so painful. imposed on the other half? Such an ordering could not be reconciled with the justice of God. Through the reincarnation of spirits the most absolute justice is equally meted out to all. The possibilities of the future are open to all, without exception, and without favour to any. Those who are the last to arrive have only themselves to blame for the delay. Each man must merit happiness by his own right action, as he has to bear the consequences of his own wrong-doing.
It is, moreover, most irrational to consider childhood as a normal state of innocence. Do We not see children endowed with the vilest instincts at an age at which even the most vicious surroundings cannot have begun to exercise any influence upon them? Do we not see many who seem to bring with them at birth cunning, falseness, perfidy, and even the instincts of thieving and murder, and this in spite of the good examples by which they are surrounded? Human law absolves them from their misdeeds, because it regards them as having acted without discernment and it is right in doing so, for they really act Instinctively rather than from deliberate intent. But whence proceed the instinctual differences observable in children of the same age, brought up amidst the same conditions, and subjected to the same influences? Whence comes this precocious perversity. if not from the inferiority of the spirit himself, since education has had nothing to do with producing it? Those who are vicious are so because their spirit has made less progress and, that being the case, each will have to suffer the consequences of his inferiority, not on account of his wrong-doing as a child, but as the result of his evil courses in his former existences. And thus the action of providential law is the same for each, and the justice of God reaches equally to all.
The body with which the soul is clothed in a new incarnation not having any necessary connection with the one which it has quitted (since it may belong to quite another race), it would be absurd to infer a succession of existences from a resemblance which may be only fortuitous but. nevertheless, the qualities of the spirit often modify the organs which serve for their manifestations, and impress upon the countenance, and even on the general manner, a distinctive stamp. It is thus that an expression of nobility and dignity may be found under the humblest exterior, while the fine clothes of the grandee are often unable to hide the baseness and ignominy of their wearer. Some persons, who have risen from the lowest position, adopt without effort the habits and manners of the higher ranks, and seem to have returned to their native element while others, notwithstanding their advantages of birth and education, always seem to be out of their proper place in refined society. How can these facts be explained unless as a reflex of what the spirit has been in his former existences?
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.