QUESTIONS THAT MAY BE ADDRESSED TO SPIRITS.
Preliminary observations - Questions that are agreeable or disagreeable to Spirits - Questions about the future - About past and future existences - About moral and worldly interests - About the destiny of Spirits - About health - About inventions and discoveries - About hidden treasures - About other worlds.
286. Too much importance cannot be attached to the manner of addressing questions to spirits, and to the nature of the questions addressed to them. In regard to the questions we address to Spirits, two things are to be considered, viz., their form and their purport. As regards their form, they should be conveyed with method, clearness, and precision; complexity should always be avoided. But there is another point not less important, viz., the order in which our questions should be arranged. When a subject requires a series of questions, it is essential that these should be made to follow one another in regular sequence, so that they may grow naturally out of one another; spirits answer questions, when put in this way, much more easily and clearly than when they are asked at random, jumping abruptly from one subject to another. For this reason, it is always well to prepare our questions beforehand, and only to intercalate, during the sitting, such new ones as may be suggested by the circumstances of the moment. Not only are our questions likely to be better stated by being drawn up when our mind is in a state of repose, but this preparatory labor, as previously remarked, is a sort of anticipatory evocation, at which the spirit may himself have been present, and which will have disposed him to respond to our call. Those who adopt this plan will find that the spirit evoked, frequently answers a question as though he had foreseen it; thus proving that he had been aware of it beforehand.
The purport of a question requires even more careful attention than its form; for it is often the nature of the question that determines the truth or falsehood of the reply. There are questions to which spirits, for reasons unknown to us, are unable, or are not permitted, to reply; and, in such cases, it is useless to insist, as the answer, if given, can only be from lower and unscrupulous spirits.
287. As previously remarked, some persons think it better not to put any questions to spirits, but to await their spontaneous communications. To the considerations we have already opposed to this view of the matter, we add, that spirits do, undoubtedly, make spontaneous communications which are often of great interest and value, and which it would be wrong to neglect; but there are explanations for which we should have to wait a long time, if we did not elicit them by our inquiries. The Spirits' Book, and The Mediums' Book, for instance, would be still to be written, or, at least, would be far less complete, had we not addressed to spirits the questions which, with the answers given to them, we offer in these works to the attention of our readers; and the weighty problems involved in them would be still awaiting the solutions that have been thus obtained in response to our inquiries. The questioning of spirits, carefully, thoughtfully, and respectfully, with a view to obtaining such information as they are able and permitted to give us, is of very great utility. And it is, moreover, by questioning them closely, that we are able to unmask the deceptive spirits who are so apt to present themselves spontaneously under assumed names, and with pretensions to superior knowledge of which the falsity is thus made apparent. If what has been already said in the present work has been correctly understood by the reader, some idea of the limits within which questions to spirits should be confined will already have been formed by him; nevertheless, for greater certainty, we now give the statements of various enlightened spirits in reference to the points on which they are usually questioned by beginners.
[kardec now asks for clarifications from a trusted spirit guide]
288. Questions with spirits sympathize, and those with which they do not sympathize.
1.Do spirits willingly answer the questions addressed to them?
"That depends on the questions themselves. Serious spirits always answer with pleasure the questions that you address to them with a view to your moral advancement. They take no notice of idle questions."
2. Does the seriousness with which a question is asked suffice to ensure its receiving a serious answer?
"No for the quality of the answer depends, in part, on the quality of the spirit who replies."
-- But does not a serious question drive away frivolous spirits?
"It is not the question that drives them away; it is the character of the questioner."
3. What sort of questions are particularly displeasing to good spirits?
"All that are useless or prompted by mere curiosity; they do not answer such questions, but are repelled by them."
-- Are there any questions which are specially disagreeable to imperfect spirits?
"None but such as would show up their ignorance and cunning, when they wish to deceive you; in other cases, they answer any and every question, without regard to truth."
4. What is to be thought of those who only seek, in spirit-communications, for amusement, or for information concerning their worldly interests?
"Such persons afford delight to inferior spirits, who, like themselves, want to be amused, and who take pleasure in hoaxing them."
5. When spirits do not answer certain questions, is it because they do not choose to do so, or because they are forbidden to do so by a superior power?
"It may be for either reason; there are some things that cannot be revealed to you at present, and others of which the spirits themselves are not cognizant." - By insisting strongly, can we always succeed in getting a spirit to reply? "No; the spirit who does not choose to reply is always able to go away. For this reason you should never persist m trying to make us answer. To insist on having a reply, when the spirit interrogated is not willing to give it, is a sure way to be deceived."
6. Are all spirits able to comprehend the questions addressed to them?
"Certainly not. There are many questions which imperfect spirits are incapable of comprehending; but this does not prevent their replying at random, as is done by foolish people in your world."Remark. - When a useful end is to be gained by so doing, a more enlightened spirit often comes to the aid of an ignorant one. Such help may be easily detected by the different quality of the answers, and also by the admissions of the more ignorant spirit himself. This, however, only happens when the latter is good, although ignorant; no such help is ever given to spirits who make false pretensions to knowledge.
289. Questions about the future.
7. Can spirits foretell to us the future ?
"If men foresaw the future, they would neglect the present; and yet it is about the future that you are always trying to obtain answers But you are wrong in doing so; for spirit-manifestation is not divination. If you are absolutely determined to obtain answers about the future, or anything else, you will get them; for foolish and deceiving spirits are always ready to answer you. We are perpetually telling you this"
8. But are not future events sometimes spontaneously foretold, and truly, by spirits?
"A spirit may foresee events which he considers it useful to make known, or of which he may be commissioned to inform you; but announcements respecting the future are generally to be distrusted, because they are more often made by deceptive spirits for their own amusement. It is only by a consideration of all the circumstances of the case that you can judge of the degree of confidence to which any prediction is entitled."
9. What kinds of predictions are most to be distrusted?
"All that are not of general utility. Predictions about personal matters are almost always deceptive."
10. What object have spirits in spontaneously announcing events which are not to take place?
"They usually do so to amuse themselves with your credulity and the alarm or satisfaction they occasion. False predictions, however, have sometimes a more serious object; viz., that of testing him to whom they are made, by showing the good or evil sentiments they excite in his mind."Remark. - Such would be, for example, an announcement that flatters our cupidity or ambition, such as the prospect of an inheritance, etc.
11. Why do serious spirits, when they predict an event, so rarely fix its date; is it because they cannot, or because they will not, do so?
"It may be for either reason. Spirits feel the approach of an event, and may sometimes give you warning of it; but as to predicting exactly the time when it will take place, they are sometimes not permitted to do so, and sometimes they cannot do so, because they do not know it themselves. A spirit may foresee that an event will happen; but the precise moment of its happening may depend upon conditions not yet accomplished, and which are only foreseen by the Almighty. Frivolous spirits, who have no scruple in deceiving you, specify days and hours without troubling themselves about the fulfillment of their predictions. For this reason, circumstantial predictions are usually to be distrusted.
"We cannot too often remind you that our mission is to aid your moral progress, and thus to help you forward on your road to perfection. He who seeks only wisdom from his commerce with spirits will never be deceived. But you must not suppose that we waste our time in listening to your foolishness, telling your fortunes, and assisting you to waste your time; we leave all that to the tricky spirits who amuse themselves with doing so, like mischievous children.
"Providence has placed a limit to the revelations that may be made to men. Serious spirits keep silence concerning everything that they are forbidden to reveal By insisting on receiving answers to questions which it may not be lawful for us to reply to, you expose yourselves to imposition on the part of inferior spirits, ever ready to seize on any pretext for playing with your credulity."Remark. - Spirits may foresee certain future events as a consequence of other events which they see occurring, or of which they may have a presentiment. They infer the happening of the events thus foreseen, but within a period of time which they do not measure as we do; and, in order to fix the epoch at which those events will occur, they would have to identify themselves with our manner of calculating the duration of time. As spirits are often unwilling to do this, apparent errors are of frequent occurrence in the predictions made by them.
12. Are not some persons endowed with a special faculty, by which they are enabled to foresee future events?
"Yes; those whose souls have the power of disengaging themselves from matters are able; when thus disengaged, to see; and, when such revelations will be useful, they are permitted to reveal certain things. But, of those who make predictions, the majority are impostors and charlatans. The prophetic faculty, however, will be more common hereafter"
13. What is to be thought of spirits who take pleasure in predicting the death of certain persons at some stated time?
"Such spirits are malicious jesters, having no other aim than that of enjoying the alarm they create. You should pay no heed to such absurdities."
14. How is it that some persons are warned by a true presentiment of the time of their death?
"It is usually because their own spirit, in its moments of liberty, has learned its approaching release; and the intuition of this release is retained by them on waking. Persons thus prepared for such an intuition are neither frightened nor troubled by it. They see, in the separation of body and soul, only a change of condition; or, to employ a commonplace metaphor, they look upon it as the exchanging of a coarse and cumbrous garment for a silken robe. The fear of death will diminish in proportion to the spread of spiritist belief."
290. Questions as to our past and future existences.
15. Can spirits tell us of our past existences?
"God sometimes, for a special object, permits those existences to be revealed to you. When such knowledge will conduce to your instruction and edification, the revelation is permitted; but, in such cases, it always comes to you spontaneously, and in some unforeseen manner. It is never permitted for the satisfaction of mere curiosity."
-- Why is it that some spirits never refuse to deal in this kind of revelation?
"Because they are mocking spirits who are amusing themselves at your expense. In general, every revelation of this kind which has not an eminently serious and useful end may be set down as false. Mocking spirits like to flatter your self-love by pretending that you have been rich or powerful in former existences; and there are mediums and believers who accept as gospel everything that is told them on this head, and who cannot see that their present advancement in no way justifies the exalted positions which-through a petty vanity that causes as much amusement to spirits as to men-they fancy themselves to have formerly occupied. It would be more reasonable, more in conformity with the progressive march of beings, and also more honorable to themselves, to suppose that they have ascended rather than descended. No revelations of this kind are entitled to credence, unless they have come spontaneously, and through several mediums, all strangers to each other, and ignorant of what may have been previously revealed on the subject; when these conditions exist, there is good reason for believing the statements thus made."
-- If we may not know our anterior individuality, is it the same in regard to the kind of existence we have had, and the good and bad qualities which have been our predominant characteristics in our former lives?
"No; such knowledge is often permitted, because it may tend to your improvement; but, by studying what you now are, you may yourself infer what you have been"
16. Can anything be revealed to us about our future existences?
"No; whatever spirits may tell you on this subject is all nonsense, as you may easily see; for your future existence cannot be fixed beforehand, because it will be what you will have made it for yourselves, both by your conduct during your present life on earth, and also by the choice which you will make, in regard to that new existence, when you have re-entered the spirit-world. The less you have to expiate, the more happy will that existence be; but to foreknow the where and the how of that phase of your career is an impossibility, excepting in the special case (a very rare one) of spirits who are only on your earth for the accomplishment of an important mission, and for whom the road is, so to say, traced out beforehand, and may therefore be foreseen."
291. Questions about moral and worldly interests.
17. May we ask counsel of spirits?
"Yes, certainly; good spirits never refuse their aid to those who invoke them with confidence, especially in regard to all that concerns the soul; but they repel the hypocrites who pretend to ask for light, while preferring darkness."
18. Can spirits give us advice on private matters?
"Sometimes; according to the motive of your demand, and the nature of the spirits to whom you apply. Advice concerning private life is best given by familiar spirits, because they attach themselves to individuals, and interest themselves in whatever concerns the individual life of those whom they protect. The familiar spirit is your personal friend, the witness and confidant of your most secret thoughts; but you sometimes weary him with questions so ridiculously stupid that he ends by leaving you. It is as absurd to ask for advice of an intimate nature from spirits who are strangers to you, as it would be to ask counsel of the first person you met in the street. And you should never forget that puerility in the questioner is incompatible with superiority in the spirit who replies. * You must also take into account the qualities of the familiar spirit himself, who is usually good or bad according to the qualities which cause him to sympathize with the person to whom he has attached himself. The familiar spirit of a bad man is necessarily a bad spirit, and his counsels will naturally be pernicious; but he will be compelled to withdraw and to give up his place to a better spirit, as soon as the man himself begins to improve. Like goes with like."
19. May familiar spirits promote our material interests by making revelations to us for that purpose?
"They are sometimes permitted to do so, and they very often assist you, in regard to those interests, as circumstances arise; but be assured that good spirits never lend themselves to the desires of cupidity and of greed. Bad spirits dazzle you by holding out a thousand temptations, in order to lure you on and to deceive you afterwards. And you must remember that, if your purification requires you to undergo such and such vicissitudes, although your spirit-protectors may aid you to bear them more resignedly and may sometimes mitigate them, they are not permitted - and this for your own sakes, and in view of your best interests in the future - to deliver you from them. It is with your guardian-angel as with a wise and affectionate father, who neither gives his child all he asks for, nor allows him to shirk a necessary task."Remark. - Our protecting spirits often show us the road we had better take, but without keeping us in leading-strings; if they did more than simply counsel us, leaving us free to do or not to do, we should lose our power of initiative and should not dare to take a step without them, which would be prejudicial to our advancement. In order to progress, we need to acquire experience, and often at our own expense; our spirit friends, therefore, even while giving us counsel, leave us to our own resources, as does a skilful teacher in dealing with his scholars. In the ordinary affairs of life, they counsel us by inspiration, and thus leave to us all the merit of our action, when we go right, and all the responsibility of our error, when we go wrong. To ask advice of our familiar spirits, at every moment and in regard to the common affairs of daily life, as is done by some persons, is to impose on their kindness, and to mistake the nature of their mission. There are mediums who incessantly appeal to them for a decision in regard to the most trifling things. Such an abuse of medianimity denotes pettiness of ideas on the part of the medium; and it is; more-over, presumptuous to suppose that we have a good spirit always at our command, as a servant, and with nothing better to do than to be perpetually looking after the trumpery interests of our earthly lives. On the other hand, such an annihilation of our own judgement, such a reducing of ourselves to a state of passivity, renders our present life profitless, and is therefore prejudicial to our future. If it he puerile to question spirits about futile things, it is no less puerile on the part of spirits to busy themselves about the petty details of our daily life; such spirits may he well-intentioned, but they must evidently he very little above the earthly level.
20. If one who is deceased has left his affairs in a state of confusion, is it permissible to ask his spirit to assist in getting them into order, and to question him in regard to the property he may have left behind him, in cases when such property is not known, and the information is needed in the interests of justice?
"You seem to forget that death is deliverance from earthly cares; do you suppose that a spirit, who is rejoicing in the recovery of his liberty, will voluntarily come back and resume his chain, by occupying himself with things that he no longer cares for, in order to satisfy the cupidity of heirs who are perhaps rejoicing in his death, from the hope that it may be to their pecuniary advantage? You talk of justice; but there may be justice in the disappointment of covetous expectations, as a commencement of the punishment that Providence has in store for all who are greedy of earthly things. On the other hand, the embarrassment sometimes caused you by such a death may be a part of the appointed trials of your life; and, from these, it is not in the power of any spirit to release you, because they have been imposed upon you by the decrees of Providence."Remark. - The foregoing answer will doubtless disappoint those who imagine that spirits have nothing better to do than to serve us as sharp-sighted guides and helpers, not on the road to higher realms of being, but on that of earthly prosperity! Another consideration lends additional force to this reply. If a man, during his life on earth, has allowed his affairs to fall into confusion through his own want of care, he is not likely to give himself more trouble about them after his death; for, in all probability, he is delighted to be delivered from business-worries, and, if he have any elevation of mind, he will attach even less importance to earthly things, now that he is a spirit, than he did when he was a man. As to any property that he may have left, unknown to his heirs, he may have no motive for interesting himself on behalf of persons who would perhaps not give him a thought if they did not hope to get something from his estate; and, if we suppose him to be still imbued with human passions, we may even imagine him as taking a malicious pleasure in witnessing their disappointment. When a spirit thinks it useful to make revelations of this character, either in the interest of justice or from affection for certain persons, he makes them spontaneously. In order to receive such a revelation, it is not necessary to be a medium, nor to have recourse to a medium; for, in such cases, the spirit himself contrives to bring the needed knowledge to the parties concerned, through seemingly fortuitous circumstances; but he is never led to do this by any demand on the part of the persons interested, because no demand can do away with the trials appointed by Providence for any human being. Such demands, on the contrary, would be more likely to aggravate those trials; and, as they would generally be prompted by covetousness, the spirit would see that he is only evoked from greediness and selfishness, and would therefore he all the more indisposed to reply to such an evocation.
292. Questions about the destination of Spirits.
21. May we ask spirits for information concerning their situation in the other world?
"Yes; and they give such information willingly, when the inquiry is dictated by sympathy, or by the desire of obtaining useful knowledge, and not by mere curiosity."
22. Are spirits permitted to describe their sufferings and their joys?
"Certainly; and these revelations are a most important teaching for you, because they show you the true nature of the rewards and punishments that await you all. By destroying the false notions you have formed to yourselves on that subject, they tend to revivify your faith and confidence in the goodness of God. Superior spirits rejoice in describing to you their felicity; and the evil ones are often constrained to describe their sufferings, both in order to awaken repentance on their part, and also that they may find relief in so doing, as he who is unhappy in your world is relieved by pouring out his trouble, and by the compassion he thus excites.
"You must never forget that the essential and exclusive object of spiritism is your moral amelioration; and that it is for the attainment of this end that spirits are permitted to initiate you into the knowledge of the life to come, thus furnishing you with examples which you may turn to your own profit. The more thoroughly you identify yourselves with the world which awaits you, the less will you regret the one in which you now are. This is, in fact, the sole aim of the new revelation."
23. Can we, by evoking a person about whose fate we are uncertain, learn from himself whether he is still on earth?
"Yes, if uncertainty in regard to his death be not a necessary trial for those who are interested in knowing about it."
-- If dead, could the person thus evoked make known the circumstances of his death, so that these might be verified?
"If the spirit attached any importance to such circumstances, he might do so; otherwise he would not trouble himself to narrate them."Remark. - Experience proves that, in such cases, a spirit is often not at all excited by any of the motives that may lead persons upon the earth to desire to learn the circumstances of his death. If he himself desires to make them known, he does so of his own accord, either through a medium, or by dreams, visions, apparitions, &c., and may thus give the most exact intelligence about himself; in contrary cases, a lying spirit may deceive us with perfect ease, and may amuse himself by leading us to make fruitless searchings, or to take other measures equally useless. It frequently happens that the disappearance of some one whose death cannot be legally proved, throws the affairs of his family into great confusion; yet it is only in very rare and exceptional cases that we have known spirits to put inquirers on the track of the facts concerning which they had been questioned by the survivors. Spirits could, no doubt, clear up all such mysteries if they chose to do so, or if such action on their part were permitted; but they are never permitted to do so when the embarrassment caused by such uncertainty is intended as a trial for those who are interested in ascertaining the truth of the matter thus left in doubt. To attempt to recover an inheritance by invoking the aid of spirits is, therefore, to allow one's self to be lured on by chimerical hopes, about which the only point of certainty is the loss of time, effort, and money, incurred in pursuing them.
293. Questions about health.
24. May spirits give us advice about our health?
"Health being necessary to the accomplishment of your work on earth, spirits are often allowed to occupy themselves therewith, and generally do so very willingly; but, as there are ignorant spirits as well as learned ones, it does not do to address yourselves to the first comer, in regard to this matter, any more than in regard to any other."
25. Are we more likely to obtain good advice, if we address ourselves to the spirit of some medical celebrity?
"Terrestrial celebrities are by no means infallible, and they are often influenced by the erroneous ideas of the earthly life; for death does not always deliver you from those ideas immediately. The science of the earth is very slight in comparison with that of the spirit-world. The more elevated a spirit is, the greater is his knowledge; and spirits who are utterly unknown to you may possess science far surpassing that of your scientific men. Besides, science alone does not suffice to make a man a superior spirit; and you would be astonished at the very low place occupied, in the spirit-world, by some of your terrestrial celebrities. The spirit of one of your lights of science, if he have not progressed in goodness as a spirit, will know no more, in the spirit-world, than he knew when in the earthly life."
26. Does a scientific man, on returning to the spirit world, perceive the erroneousness of his scientific errors?
"If he has arrived at a sufficiently elevated degree to comprehend that his development is still incomplete, he perceives his errors, and avows them without hesitation but, if not sufficiently dematerialized, he may still retain some of the prejudices of his earthly life."
27. Could a physician, by evoking the spirits of his deceased patients, obtain an insight into the cause of their death, and ascertain the errors he may have committed in his treatment of them; thus advancing his medical knowledge?
"He could do so, and it would be for him a very useful study; especially if he could obtain the assistance of enlightened spirits. But to obtain such help, he would need to enter upon his inquiry seriously, assiduously, and with the simple desire of mitigating human suffering; and not as a means of obtaining knowledge and fortune with little trouble."
294. Questions about inventions and discoveries.
28. Are spirits permitted to guide us in our scientific researches and discoveries?
"The ascertainment of scientific truth is the work of genius; science can only be obtained through labor and effort, for it is through work alone that man advances on his way. Where would be his merit if he had only to interrogate spirits in order to arrive at the possession of knowledge? Every fool, in that case, could become a man of science, at small cost to himself. It is the same with regard to industrial discoveries and inventions. Besides, each new discovery must come at its proper time, and when men's minds are ripe for it; if men were able to obtain knowledge from advanced spirits, they would overthrow the order of events by causing fruit to be brought forth before its proper season. "God has said to the human race: - 'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.' This admirable figure portrays the condition of mankind in worlds of low degree; man must progress, and his progress must be accomplished by the effort of work. If what he needs were given to him ready-made, where would be the exercise of his intelligence? He would be like the idle schoolboy who gets his sum done for him by the clever lad at his elbow."
29. But are scientific men and inventors never assisted in their researches by spirits?
"Ah, that is a very different thing! When the time for a discovery has come, the spirits charged with the direction of human progress seek out a man capable of seconding their action, and suggest to his mind the necessary ideas for bringing that discovery to light, but in such a way as to leave to him all the merit of the achievement; for it is he who must elaborate, and bring to bear, the ideas thus suggested. All the great achievements of the human intelligence have been suggested in this way. But spirits leave each man in his own sphere. They do not impart divine secrets to one who is only fit to till the ground; but they draw out of obscurity the man who is capable of seconding the divine designs. You should not allow yourselves to be tempted, by curiosity or ambition, into inquiries that are foreign to the purpose of spiritism, and that can only lead to mystifications and disappointments."Remark. - A clearer knowledge of spiritism has calmed the feverish eagerness which, in the beginning, led people to flatter themselves that they would be enabled to make all manner of discoveries by its means; some persons even going so far as to ask spirits to give them recipes for dyeing and beautifying the hair, for curing corns, etc.! We have met with many people who fancied that they were about to make their fortune with the aid of spirits, but who only succeeded in making themselves a laughing-stock. It is the same with those who flatter themselves that, with the aid of spirits, they will penetrate the mystery of the origin of things; for there are spirits who, in regard to all such matters, have theories of their own, but theories which are usually no better worth than those of men.
295. Questions about hidden treasures.
30. Can spirits enable us to discover hidden treasures?
"Spirits of high degree take no interest in such matters; but mocking spirits frequently pretend to indicate treasures which do not exist, or which are in some other place than that in which they cause you to see them. Such deceptions, however, are sometimes useful, by showing you that the true source of fortune is work. If Providence designs a hidden treasure to be found by some one, it will be found by him in what will appear to him as a natural way; otherwise, it will not be found at all."
31. Is there any truth in the belief that hidden treasures have their guardian spirits?
"Spirits not yet dematerialized may attach themselves to such things. Misers, who have hidden their treasures, often keep watch and ward over them after death; and the perplexity they feel on seeing them removed is a chastisement for their folly, and one which they are made to undergo until they understand the uselessness of such hoardings. There are also the spirits of the earth, who are charged with the direction of its interior transformations, and who have been allegorically represented as the guardians of natural riches."Remark. - The question of hidden treasures may be placed in the same list with that of lost inheritances; a man must he insane to count upon the pretended revelations that may be made to him by the wags of the other world. As previously stated, when spirits are desirous or able to make revelations of this kind, they do so spontaneously, and without having any need of mediums. Here is an example to the point: - A lady who had lost her husband, after having been married to him for thirty years, was on the eve of being turned out of her house, without resources, by her stepsons, on whom she had lavished the devotion of a mother. She was in the very depths of despair, when, one evening, her husband appeared to her, and told her to follow him into his study, where he showed her his writing-desk, which was still under seal, and of which he caused her, by a sort of second-sight, to see the interior. He thus showed her a secret drawer, of the existence of which she had not been aware, and the mechanism of which he explained to her, adding: - "I foresaw what has happened, and took care to insure your comfort. In that drawer you will find my will; this house is yours, and I have left you an annuity of ... . " He then disappeared. The day the seals were removed, no one could open the drawer. The widow then recounted what had happened to her, and opened the drawer with the aid of the directions given her by the spirit of her husband. The will was found in the drawer; and its contents were exactly what they had been stated to be by the spirit.
296. Questions about other worlds.
32. What confidence may we put in the descriptions of different worlds given us by spirits?
"That depends upon the advancement of the spirits by whom such descriptions are given; for spirits of low degree are just as incapable of giving any such information as an ignorant man would be, among you, of giving you lessons in geography. You frequently ask questions about other worlds of ignorant spirits who know no more about them than you do. If they are well-meaning, they give you descriptions in accordance with their own ideas, whatever these may be; if they are addicted to joking, they amuse themselves by giving you fantastic descriptions drawn from their own imagination, a faculty of which they are in as full possession in their wandering state as they were upon the earth, and which supplies them with the various stories that they tell you on all manner of subjects, but that have no foundation in fact. You must not suppose, however, that it is absolutely impossible to obtain from spirit.; true information concerning other worlds. More advanced spirits are happy to tell you of those which they inhabit, in order to aid your progress by descriptions that may decide you to follow the road by which they are reached. Such information is also useful, by fixing your ideas in regard to the future, and thus giving you something more definite than the vague perspective which is all that you have hitherto had in prospect."
-- What proof can we obtain of the accuracy of these descriptions?
"The best proof is the agreement of the various descriptions with one another; but you must not forget that they are only given with a view to aiding your moral advancement, and that it is therefore in regard to the moral state of the inhabitants of those globes, rather than in regard to their physical or geological nature, that you may expect to obtain truthful information. In regard to the latter, even if truthful descriptions were given to you, you could not, with your present intellectual faculties, understand them. Such inquiries cannot conduce to your advancement in your present life; and you will have every facility for learning the nature and history of those other worlds when you are living in them."Remark. - Questions concerning the physical constitution and astronomical elements of worlds, belong to the category of scientific researches which spirits ought not to spare us the trouble of making for ourselves, however convenient it might be to our astronomers to make spirits do their calculations for them, although they would probably take good care not to acknowledge any such help!
These pages are lightly edited excerpts from The Mediums' Book: Guide for Mediums and Invocators by Allan Kardec [Leon Rivail] A download (acrobat format) of the complete volume is free.