QUESTIONS FROM ALLAN KARDEC'S "THE SPIRITS' BOOK"
The Spirits' Book contains 420 pages of answers, written in 1860, to the following 1019 questions:
God and infinity
1. What is God?
2. How should we define infinity?
3. Can we say that God is Infinity?
Proofs of God's existence
4. What are the proofs of God's existence?
5. God's existence seems to be universally intuited. What can we conclude from this fact?
6. Can't our intuitive sense of God's existence be explained as the result of our education and cultural ideas?
7. Can we find the first cause of things in the essential properties of matter?
8. What about the view that the creation of all things resulted from chance combinations of matter?
9. What proof is there that the First Cause of all things is a Supreme Intelligence, superior to all other intelligences?
Attributes of God
10. Can any individual understand the essential nature of God?
11. Will we ever be able to comprehend the mystery of God?
12. If we cannot understand the essential nature of God, can we have at least some of God's perfection?
13. When we say that God is eternal, infinite, unchangeable, immaterial, unique, all-powerful, sovereignly just and good, aren't we expressing a complete idea of the qualities of the Divine?
14. Is God a being distinct from the universe, or, as some people believe, the result of all the forces and intelligences of the universe?
15. What is your view concerning pantheism, which states that all natural bodies, beings, and planets are parts of God and, taken together, make up the essence of God.
16. Pantheists claim that their belief demonstrates some of God's qualities. They argue that since worlds are infinite in number, God must be infinite, and that, since empty spaces do not exist, God must be everywhere. Then they conclude that, since God is everywhere, God must be everything and thus the intelligent cause of the universe. How can we counter this argument?
The beginnings of things
17. Can we ever know how everything began?
18. Will we ever be able to penetrate the mystery of things we don't understand now?
19. Can't we penetrate some of nature's secrets through science?
20. Are we allowed to receive advanced teachings about matters that are beyond the scope of our sense and of science?
21. Has matter, like God, existed from all eternity, or was it created at some specific point in time?
22. Matter is generally defined as something that occupies space, that can be perceived by one of more senses, and that is impenetrable. Is this definition correct?
23. What is spirit?
24. Are the words spirit and intelligence synonyms?
25. Is spirit independent of matter, or is it only one property of matter, as colors are a property of light and sounds a property of air?
26. Can spirit be conceived of without matter, and matter without spirit?
27. There are, then, two general elements of the universe--matter and spirit?
28. Since spirit itself is something, wouldn't it be clearer and more correct to call these two general elements by the terms inert matter and intelligent matter?
Properties of matter
29. Is ponderability an essential property of matter?
30. Is matter formed of one element or several?
31. Where do the different properties of matter come from?
32. According to this view, flavors, odors, colors, sounds, the poisonous or medicinal qualities of certain substances, are only the result of changes in one basic, universal element?
33. Is this same basic matter capable of undergoing all possible changes and thereby acquiring all the properties we associate with matter in our world?
34. Do molecules of matter have a defined form?
35. Is the universal space infinite or limited?
36. Does an absolute void exist in any part of space?
The formation of planets
37. Was the universe created, or has it existed from all Eternity, like God?
38. How did God create the universe?
39. How are planets formed?
40. Are comets, as we currently believe, celestial bodies in the early stages of formation, i.e., are they constituted by newly condensed matter?
41. Is it possible for a completely formed planet to be destroyed and its matter disseminated again in space?
42. How long does it take to form a planet--Earth, for instance?
The creation of living beings
43. When did living beings start to appear on Earth?
44. Where did the living beings who appeared on Earth come from?
45. Where were the organic elements before the formation of Earth?
46. Do any living beings come into existence spontaneously now?
47. Was the human species among the organic elements present in the primitive Earth?
48. Can we establish, then, the period when human beings and the other living beings on the Earth first appeared?
49. If the biological prototypes of the human species were among the Earth's organic elements, why don't we see humans being produced spontaneously today?
The population of earth--Adam and Eve
50. Did the human species begin with only one person?
51. Is it possible to know when Adam lived?
The diversity of human races
52. What caused the physical and cultural differences that distinguish our human races?
53. Did the human species come into existence in various places?
54. If the human species hasn't all evolved from one common ancestor, can we still regard each other as brothers and sisters?
The multitude of planets
55. Are other planets inhabited?
56. Is the physical composition of all planets the same?
57. Since planets are physically different, can we assume that their inhabitants are differently constituted?
58. Are the planets furthest removed from the sun deprived of light and heat, given that the sun appears only as a star to them?
The biblical account of the creation
59. (No question)
Organic and inorganic beings
60. Is the force that unites the elements of matter in organic and inorganic bodies the same?
61. Is there a difference between the matter found in organic and inorganic bodies?
62. What causes this vitalization?
63. Is the vital principle a special agent, or is it only a property of organic matter? In other words, is it a cause or an effect?
64. We have seen that spirit and matter are the two constituent elements of the universe. Is the vital principle a third?
65. Does the vital principle exist in any one of the bodies known to us?
66. Is the vital principle the same for all organic beings?
67. Is vitality a permanent quality of the vital principle, or does it only develop through the interactions of the organs in which we see it operate?
Life and death
68. What causes the death of organic beings?
69. Why is death from heart problems more likely to occur than when other organs become diseased or damaged?
70. What happens to matter and the vital principle after death?
Intelligence and instinct
71. Is intelligence a quality of the vital principle?
72. What is the source of intelligence?
73. Is instinct independent of intelligence?
74. Can we draw a line of demarcation between instinct and intelligence? In other words, can we define precisely where one ends and the other begins?
75. Does instinct diminish as the intellect grows?
The origin and nature of spirits
76. What is the definition of spirits?
77. Are spirits called "children" of God because they are parts of God, or are they distinct beings?
78. Have spirits, like God, always existed, or did they have a beginning?
79. As the intelligent and material principles are the two general elements of the universe, is it safe to say that spirits are formed out of the former and inert bodies out of the latter?
80. Is the creation of spirits always going on, or did it only take place at the beginning of time?
81. Are spirits formed spontaneously or do they evolve from each other?
82. Are spirits immaterial?
83. Do spirits ever die? We understand that the universal intelligent principle from which spirits come is eternal. What we're asking is whether the spirit's individuality has an end. We know, for instance, that material bodies eventually return to the natural element. Does something similar happen to spirits? After all, if something has a beginning shouldn't it also have an end?
84. Do spirits constitute a different world from the one we see?
85. Is the spirit world the principal one in the universe?
86. Then would the essence of the spirit world have remained unchanged even if the material world had never existed, or if it ceased to exist?
87. Do spirits occupy a defined and limited region in space?
The form and omnipresence of spirits
88. Do spirits have a well-defined, and consistent form?
89. Do spirits use up measurable time when transporting themselves through space?
90. When a spirit travels from one place to another, is it conscious of the distance covered, or is it suddenly transported to the place it wants to go?
91. Does matter obstruct a spirit's movement?
92. Do spirits have the gift of omnipresence? In other words, can a spirit divide itself or exist at several points of space at the same time?
Perispirit (spiritual body)
93. Are spirits enclosed by an envelope of some sort?
94. Where does the spirit get this ethereal substance?
95. Can a spirit's perispirit assume definite form and can we see it?
The different orders of spirits
96. Are all spirits equal, or does a hierarchical ranking exist among them?
97. Are the orders or degrees of purification among spirits fixed at a certain number?
98. Are spirits of the second order actually able to express their 'love of good' through their actions?
99. Are all spirits of the third order essentially bad?
The spirit hierarchy
100. (No question)
Third order--imperfect spirits
101-106. (No question)
Second order--good spirits
107-111. (No question)
First order--pure spirits
112-113. (No question)
The progression of spirits
114. Are spirits always good or bad by nature, or do the same spirits advance through their own efforts?
115. Are some spirits created good and others bad?
116. Do any spirits remain forever in the lower ranks?
117. Are spirits themselves responsible for hastening their progress towards perfection?
118. Can spirits regress?
119. Could God exempt spirits from the trials they undergo to reach the highest rank?
120. Do all spirits have to taste evil to arrive at good?
121. Why do some spirits follow the road of good, and others the road of wrong-doing?
122. How can spirits, who don't have self-consciousness initially, possess freedom of choice? Do they have some inner principle or tendency that inclines them towards one road and not the other?
123. Why does God allow for the possibility that a spirit will take the wrong road?
124. Are there many degrees between those of spirits who from the beginning chose a path of good and those who chose a path of wrong?
125. Will the spirits who've chosen the wrong road ever reach the same degree of elevation as the others?
126. Are spirits who reach the supreme degree after wandering into the wrong road less deserving than others in God's sight?
127. Are all spirits created equally intellectually?
Angels and demons
128. Do the beings we call angels, archangels, and seraphim form a special category different from that of other spirits?
129. Have the angels passed up through all the degrees of progress?
130. If the view which claims that some beings are created perfect and superior to all others is wrong, why is it found in the tradition of almost all peoples?
131. Are there any demons in the usual sense of that term?
The purpose of incarnation
132. Why do spirits incarnate?
133. Is incarnation necessary for spirits who have followed the right road from the beginning?
134. What is the soul?
135. Is there anything in human beings besides a soul and a body?
136. Is the soul independent of the vital principle?
137. Can the same spirit incarnate itself in two different bodies at the same time?
138. What about the assertion that the soul is the principle of material life?
139. Certain spirits, and certain philosophers before them, have defined the soul as "A spark that has emanated from the Great Whole." Why does this contradiction exist?
140. According to one theory, the soul is subdivided. It has as many parts as there are organs in the body. In this way, the theory proposes, the soul governs each bodily function. What should we think of this view?
141. Is there any truth in the view that the soul is exterior to the body and surrounds it?
142. What about the theory that the soul undergoes a process of formation that begins in childhood and is carried on through the successive stages of human life?
143. Why don't all spirits define the soul in the same way?
144. What are we to understand by "the soul of the world"?
145. Why have so many philosophers, ancient and modern, discussed ethical and metaphysical questions without arriving at the truth?
146. Does the soul have a definite location within the body?
147. Why are anatomists, physiologists, and scientists in general, so often materialists?
148. It's unfortunate, isn't it, that studies that ought to convince us of the superiority of the Intelligence governing our world should lead instead to materialism? Is this an indictment against scientific investigation?
The soul after death
149. What happens to the soul at the moment of death?
150. Does the soul preserve its individuality after death?
151. There are people who subscribe to the opinion that the soul returns to the Universal Whole after death? What is your reaction to this?
152. Is there any proof that the soul preserves its individuality after death?
153. In what sense should we understand eternal life?
Separation of soul and body
154. Is the separation of the soul from the body painful?
155. How is the separation of soul and body brought about?
156. Can a definite separation of the soul and body take place before organic life stops completely?
157. Does the soul ever experience, at the moment of death, a desire or an ecstasy that gives it a glimpse of the world it is about to re-enter?
158. On Earth we notice the metamorphosis of the caterpillar, which first crawls on the ground, then shuts itself up in its chrysalis as if dead, and finally is reborn as a butterfly, taking on a new and brilliant existence. Does this give us anything like a true idea of the relationships among our terrestrial life, our experience of death, and our new existence in the spirit world?
159. What sensation does the soul experience at the moment it regains consciousness in the spirit-world?
160. Does the spirit immediately find itself in the company of the ones it knew on Earth who died before it?
161. In cases of violent or accidental death, where the organs haven't been damaged by age or illness, does the separation of the soul take place as soon as the organic life ends?
162. After depacitation, for instance, does a person retain consciousness for a longer or shorter time?
The state of the soul after death
163. Does the soul regain self-awareness immediately after leaving the body?
164. Do all spirits experience this confusion to the same degree and for the same length of time?
165. Does a knowledge of the Spiritist Doctrine exert any influence on the length of this state of confusion?
166. How does a soul that has not reached perfection on Earth complete its work of purification?
167. What is the purpose of reincarnation?
168. Is there a set limit to the number of incarnate lives, or does a spirit go on reincarnating forever?
169. Is the number of incarnations the same for all spirits?
170. What happens to a spirit after its last incarnation?
The justice of reincarnation
171. What is the basis for the doctrine of reincarnation?
Incarnation on different planets
172. Do we lead all our incarnated lives on Earth?
173. Does the soul pass from one planet to another with each new incarnation, or can it live several lives on the same planet?
174. Are we required to live on Earth again?
175. Is there any advantage in coming back to live on Earth?
176. Can spirits come to this planet for the first time, after having been incarnated on others?
177. In arriving at perfection and supreme happiness, does a spirit have to reincarnate on all the planets in the universe?
178. Can spirits reincarnate on planets relatively less advanced than the ones on which they've lived already?
179. Have all the beings that live on any given planet arrived at the same level of perfection?
180. When a spirit passes from one planet to the next, does it retain its intelligence?
181. Do beings on other planets have bodies like ours?
182. Is any exact knowledge of the physical and spiritual satate of the different planets possible?
183. On entering a new life on another planet, does the spirit always have to go through a new infancy?
184. Can a spirit choose the planet it will live on?
185. Is the physical and ethical state of the living beings on each planet always the same?
186. Do planets exist in which spirits no longer need material bodies and have no envelope except the perispirit?
187. Is the substance of the perispirit the same on all planets?
188. Do pure spirits live on special worlds, or are they in univeresal space without being attached to any particular one?
189. Does the spirit enjoy the full range of its faculties as soon as it is formed?
190. What is the soul like when it is first incarnated?
191. Were the souls of our primitive peoples in a state of infancy?
192. By leading perfect lives on earth, can we skip the intervening steps of the ascent toward perfection and arrive at the state of pure spirits?
193. Can someone in a new life descend to a point lower than one he or she has already reached?
194. Can the soul of a good person, in a new incarnation, animate the body of a scoundrel?
195. Wouldn't the realization that advancement is inevitable lead some people to continue doing wrong in their current lives? After all, they can always rationalize that they will improve at a later time?
196. Since spirits can only be made better by undergoing the trials of incarnate life, can we say that the material life is sort of a sieve or strainer though which spirits are required to pass in order to reach perfection?
Children after death
197. Is the spirit of a child who dies in infancy as advanced as that of an adult?
198. A child who has died in infancy has had no chance to do wrong. Does its spirit belong to the higher orders of the spirit hierarchy?
199. Why is life so often cut short in childhood?
Sex and gender in spirits
200. Do spirits have gender?
201. Can a spirit who has animated the body of a man in one life animate the body of a woman in a new one, and vice-versa?
202. Do spirits prefer to be incarnated as men or women?
203. Do parents transmit a part of their souls to their children, or do they only give them biological life to which souls will later add the ethical and intellectual life?
204. Do our family ties extend beyond our present lives?
205. The doctrine of reincarnation, some people argue, destroys family ties because it carries relationships back to periods prior to our present existence.
206. If there isn't an actual line of ancestry among spirits successively incarnated in the same family, is it pointless to honor the memory of one's ancestors?
Physical and psychological likeness
207. Children inherit physical characteristics from their parents. Do they inherit psychological ones?
208. Do the spirits of parents influence the spirit of their child after its birth?
209. Why do good parents often give birth to children who are inclined to wrong-doing? In other words, how is it that the good qualities of the parents don't always attract a good spirit to animate their child?
210. Can parents attract an advanced spirit into the body of their child through prayers and intentions?
211. What causes the same character traits to appear in siblings and especially in twins?
212. In Siamese twins, whose bodies are joined and who share some organs, are there two spirits--that is to say, two souls?
213. Since the spirits who incarnate as twins are brought together by affinity, why do we sometimes see twins who dislike each other?
214. How should we interpret stories of children fighting in their mother's womb?
215. Why do the different peoples of the Earth have distinctive characters?
216. Does a newly reincarnated spirit retain any traces of the psychological character it had in its previous life?
217. Does a spirit, in its different incarnations, retain any traces of the physical character of its previous lives?
218. Does an incarnate spirit retain any traces of the perceptions it had and the knowledge it gained during its prior life?
219. There are some people who seem to grasp certain subjects like mathematics and languages intuitively and without study. Where to such extraordinary talents come from?
220. In going from one incarnation to the next, can we lose certain intellectual faculties--for instance, the taste for an art?
221. Do we owe to memory the intuition of God's existence and the presentiment of a future life, both of which are universal notions?
Many lives: additional considerations
222. (No question)
223. Is the soul reincarnated immediately after it separates from the body?
224. What happens to the soul between incarnations?
225. Is the fact that some spirits spend more time in the spirit world before taking up a new life necessarily a sign that they belong to the lower spirit orders?
226. Are all free spirits in a transient state?
227. How are free spirits instructed? Their education can hardly resermble ours.
228. Do spirits retain any human feeling?
229. Why don"t spirits, on departing Earth, leave their negative feelings behind, since they can see how disastrous their consequences were?
230. Do spirits progress in the spirit-world?
231. Are transient spirits happy or unhappy?
232. Can spirits in the spirit-world go to all the other planets?
233. Do pure spirits ever go to less advanced planets?
234. Are there places that serve as resting-places for free spirits?
235. Do spirits progress while on transitional worlds?
236. Given their special nature, are these worlds permanently destined to be the dwelling places of free spirits?
Perceptions, sensations, and suffering of spirits
237. Does the soul, when it has returned to the spirit-world, have the same perceptions it had in earthly life?
238. Are the perceptions and knowledge of spirits unlimited? In short, do they know everything?
239. Do spirits understand the first cause of all things?
240. Do spirits perceive time as we do?
241. Do spirits have a truer, more precise view of the present than we do?
242. How do spirits acquire knowledge of the past? Is this knowledge without limits for them?
243. Do spirits foresee the future?
244. Do spirits see God?
245. Is spirit-signt localized, like the sight of incarnate beings?
246. Do spirits need light in order to see?
247. Do spirits need to travel in order to see two different points? Can they for instance, see two hemispheres of the world at the same time?
248. Do spirits see things as distinctly as we do?
249. Are spirits aware of sounds?
250. Since its senses are part of a spirit's very being, can a spirit deactivate or shield itself from the senses?
251. Are spirits affected by music?
252. Are spirits aware of natural beauty?
253. Do spirits experience our physical neds and sufferings?
254. Do spirits feel fatigue and need rest?
255. When a spirit says that it suffers, what is the nature of the suffering?
256. Why, then, do spirits sometimes complain that they suffer from cold or heat?
Theoretical explanation of the nature of sensation in spirits
257. (No question)
Choice of trials
258. Before incarnating, does a spirit foresee what will happen to it in its new life?
259. If the spirit chooses the kind of trials it will undergo, have we foreseen and chosen all the difficulties we experience in our earthly life?
260. Why would a spirit choose to be born among people who are leading a crooked life?
261. Must the spirit, in the course of its earthly journeys, undergo every sort of temptation? Must it encounter all the circumstances that excite pride, jealousy, greed, sensuality, etc.?
262. A spirit, at its origin, is simple, ignorant, and without experience. How can it choose a life intelligently, and how can it be responsible for that choice?
263. Do spirits choose their next life immediately after death?
264. What drives a spirit's choice of trials to undergo?
265. If some spirits select this kind of environment as a trial of their goodness, don't others make the same choice out of a desire to live in surroundings compatible with their tastes--surroundings, in other words, where they can give free rein to their appetities?
266. Wouldn't a spirit naturally choose the easiest trials?
267. Can a spirit choose its next incarnate life while still in an incarnate state?
268. Must a spirit constantly undergo trials until it reaches the stae of perfect purity?
269. Can a spirit make a mistake about the value of the trial it chooses?
270. Why do some people select one career rather than another?
271. As a spirit studies the various conditions of incarnate life that will help it progress, why would it ever consider, for example, being born among cannibals?
272. Can spirits from less advanced planets than Earth, or from our own more backward peoples (cannibals, for instance), be born among more advanced peoples?
273. Can a more advanced spirit be reincarnated, as a means of purification, among a less advanced people?
Relationships in the spirt realm
274. Do the different degrees of advancement establish a hierarchy of powers among spirits? In other words, do subordination and authority exist among them?
275. Do the power and consideration an individual enjoys on Earth give him or her ascendancy once in the spirit-world?
276. When someone who has been important on Earth finds him or herself in an inferior place in the spirit-world, is this change of position a cause of humiliation?
277. After dying in battle, will a soldier who meets his general in the spirit-world still acknowledge him as a superior?
278. Do spirits of different orders mix together in the other life?
279. Are all spirits equally approachable to each other?
280. What are relations like between good and unethical spirits?
281. Why do less advanced spirits take pleasure in encouraging us to do wrong?
282. How do spirits communicate with each other?
283. Can spirits hide their thoughts or conceal themselves from each other?
284. How can spirits, who have no bodies, establish individuality? And how is this individuality distinguishable from an incarnate spirit's?
285. Do spirits who have lived together on Earth recognize each other? For instance, do sons recognize their fathers, and friends their friends?
286. Does the soul see, immediately after death, the relations and friends who have returned to the spirit-world before it?
287. How is the soul received when it returns to the spirit-world?
288. How do spirits of the lower orders feel at the sight of a like-minded spirit when it arrives?
289. Do our relatives and friends sometimes come to meet us when we are leaving earth?
290. Are relatives and friends always reunited after death?
Affinity of spirits; eternal halves
291. Do spirits have special personal attachments among themselves that go beyond the general feeling that comes from affinity?
292. Can spirits feel hatred for each other?
293. Do those who have been enemies on Earth remain enemies in the spirit-world?
294. Does the memory of earthly wrongs done to one another create obstacles among spirits?
295. How do those we have wronged feel about us after death?
296. Can the personal affections of spirits change?
297. Does the affection that two spirits have felt for each other on Earth continue in the spirit-world?
298. Is it true that souls are predestined to be united and that each of us has a spiritual counterpart somewhere in the universe--another half, so to speak--with whom we will one day reunite?
299. How, then, should we understand the term "other half," which spirits sometimes use to indicate other spirits for whom they have a special liking?
300. When two perfectly attuned spirits are reunited in the spirit-world, are they reunited for all Eternity, or can they separate and unite with other spirits?
301. Do two completely attuned spirits complete each other, or does their attunement result from having a similar character?
302. Does similarity of thought and feeling alone constitute perfect attunement among spirits, or does it also require the same degree of intellectual development?
303. Can spirits who are not now well attuned become so in the future?
Memory of incarnate lives
304. Does a spirit remember its incarnate lives?
305. Does the memory of an incarnate life present itself to a spirit, completely and spontaneously, as soon as death occurs?
306. Does the spirit remember all the details of a previous life? Does it take in the whole of it at a single glance?
307. How does a previous life present itself to a spirit's memory? Is it through a determined effort of the imagination, or is it more like a moving picture revealed before its eyes?
308. Does a spirit remember the lives previous to the one it has just left?
309. How does a spirit view the body it has just left?
310. After a time, does a spirit recognize its mortal remains or objects it once owned?
311. Is a spirit's interest aroused by the attitude of its loved ones toward its former belongings? Is it happy to see the respect they pay them?
312. Do spirits remember the sufferings they endured in their last incarnate life?
313. Does a spirit who has been happy on Earth regret leaving the enjoyments it knew here?
314. Does a spirit regret leaving important work unfinished when death interrupts that work?
315. When someone has left behind works of art or literature, does the spirit of that person take the same interest in them as when living?
316. Does a spirit still take an interest in the progress of arts and sciences on earth?
317. Do spirits have any feelings toward their native lands after death?
318. Do spirits change their ideas in the spirit-world?
319. Since spirits have already lived in the spirit-world before being incarnated, why do they feel surprise on re-entering that world?
Funeral services, memorials
320. Are spirits affected by the memory of loved ones on Earth?
321. In some countries a special day is set aside for the remembrance of the dead. Are spirits drawn towards their living friends on that day, and do they make it a point to meet the ones who go to pray beside their graves?
322. Do the spirits of people who have been forgotten go to the cemeteries despite the fact that no one visits their graves? Do they grieve because no one remembers them?
323. Is a spirit more pleased when its friends visit its grave, or when they offer prayers for it in their homes?
324. When statues are erected to deceased persons and buildings are named after them, are the spirits of those present at the dedication? And are they pleased with these kinds of ceremonies?
325. Why do some persons want to be buried in one place rather than another? Do their spirits go there more willingly after death? And does a spirit's interest in matters so mundane indicate its lack of perfection?
326. When the soul has returned into spirit-life, is it pleased by the honors paid to its mortal remains?
327. Do spirits ever attend their own funerals?
328. Is a spirit ever present at meetings of its heirs?
329. Should the respect that human beings have traditionally and universally shown the dead be attributed to an intuitive belief in a future state?
Preludes to return
330. Do spirits foresee the time of their next incarnation?
331. Do all spirits concern themselves with their approaching incarnation?
332. Can a spirit speed up or delay the moment of reincarnation?
333. Suppose a spirit finds itself reasonably happy in the spiritual realm and it is, say, at an average level of development with no immediate desire to better iself. Could it prolong its stay indefinitely?
334. Is the union of a given soul with a given body predetermined, or is the body chosen only at the last moment?
335. Is the spirit allowed to choose the body it will enter, or does it only choose the kind of life that will provide its trial?
336. Is it possible that a child about to be born will not find a spirit willing to incarnate in it?
337. Is the union of a given spirit with a body ever imposed?
338. If several spirits ask to incarnate in the same body, how is the choice made among them?
339. Is the moment of incarnation accompanied by confusion similar to the one that follows human death?
340. Does a spirit see the moment of reincarnation as a solemn one--as something serious and important to it?
341. Before incarnation, is the spirit's uncertainty about the outcome of the trials in its new life a source of anxiety?
342. When a spirit returns to the spirit-world, friends come to receive it. Are spirit friends also present at the moment of reincarnation when it leaves the spirit-world?
343. Sometimes in our dreams we see beings who show us affection but whose faces we don't recognize. Are these the spirit-friends who have followed us into incarnate life?
Union of spirit and body; abortion
344. When does the spirit unite with the body?
345. Is the union between the spirit and the body final from the moment of conception? Could the spirit, during the early stages of union, suddenly refuse to animate the body?
346. What happens to the spirit if the body it has chosen dies before birth?
347. Can a spirit benefit in any way from an incarnation in which the body dies a few days after birth?
348. Does a spirit know beforehand that the body it chooses has no chance of living?
349. If, for some reason, a spirit fails to accomplish the goals of a proposed incarnation, does it immediately reincarnate?
350. When a spirit is definitively united to an infant body and can no longer refuse the union, does it sometimes regret the choice it has made?
351. During the time between conception and birth, does a spirit have the use of all its faculties?
352. At the moment of birth, does the spirit have all its faculties intact?
353. Since the union of the spirit and the body is not complete and definitive until birth has taken place, can we consider the fetus as having a soul?
354. What is the nature of life in the womb?
355. Medical science has shown us that the bodies of some infants are so constituted that the infants could never have lived outside the womb. If so, why are these children produced?
356. Among still-born children, are their some who were never intended for the incarnation of a spirit?
357. What are the consequences of abortion for a spirit?
358. Is induced abortion a crime, no matter in what period of gestation it is induced?
359. In cases where the birth of the child would endanger the life of the mother, is it a crime to sacrifice the child to save the mother?
360. Is it rational to treat the fetus with the same respect as the body of a child that has lived?
Ethical and intellectual qualities
361. Where do good and bad human qualities come from?
362. Wht is the character of individuals in whom sly and foolish spirits are incarnated?
363. Do spirits have any feelings or appetities that we don't?
364. Is it only one spirit that gives a person both moral and intellectual qualities?
365. Why are some people of high intelligence, which obviously indicates advancement, also extremely corrupt?
366. Some people believe that our various intellectual and moral qualities are the products of so many different spirits incarnated in one person, with each spirit having some special faculty. How should we view this theory?
Influence of the body
367. When the spirit joins the body, does it become identical with its matter?
368. Does a spirit have the full and free exercise of its faculties after union with the body?
369. During its incarnation, does the full exercise of a spirit's faculties depend on the development of its bodily organs?
370. Can we conclude that, because of the influence of the body's organs, a connection exists between the development of the brain and the development of moral and intellectual qualities?
371. Is there any truth to the belief that the souls of the mentally handicapped are inferior to those of people who have normal mental ability?
372. What purpose does Providence have in creating the mentally handicapped?
373. What good came from the existence of the mentally handicapped, who cannot do either good or evil and therefore cannot progress?
374. In the spirit-state, are mentally handicapped persons conscious of their condition?
375. When a person is mentally ill, what is the state of his or her spirit?
376. Why does mental illness sometimes lead to suicide?
377. After death, is the spirit of a mentally ill person still affected by this state?
378. How does a mental disease affect a spirit after its death?
379. Is the spirit who animates the body of a child as advanced as the spirit of an adult?
380. Does a spirit think as a child or as an adult during infancy?
381. When a child dies, does its spirit immediately regain its old strength?
382. During childhood, does the incarnate spirit suffer from the constraints its underdeveloped body imposes on it?
383. Why must a spirit go through infancy?
384. Why are an infant's first sounds always cries?
385. Why does the character of young people change, especially as they go through adolescence. Is it the spirit that changes?
Affinities and antipathies
386. Could two spirits, who have already known and loved each other, meet again and recognize each other in another incarnate life?
387. Is empathetic feeling always the result of prior acquaintance?
388. Are the apparently chance meetings that sometimes take place between two persons really due to a prior empathetic relationship?
389. What causes the instinctive aversion we sometimes feel for people we meet for the first time?
390 Is instinctive antipathy always a sign of a lower nature on the part of one or both the parties who feel it?
391. Does the hostility of two persons begin with the better or the worse one?
Forgetfulness of the past
392. Why can't the incarnate spirit remember its past?
393. How can we held responsible for our deeds, and rid ourselves of our faults, if we do not remember them? How can we gain by experiences acquired in lives we have forgotten? We might understand that the trials of life are a lesson to us if we could only recall the wrongs that have brought those trials about. But if we forget our former lives, each new life must be like the first one, so that all the work must begin again. How can we reconcile this with God's justice?
394. On planets more advanced than ours, where beings are not prey to our physical wants and infirmities, do they understand that they are better off than we are? Happiness, after all, is usually relative. Since planets even better than ours have not reached perfection, the inhabitants must have their own troubles and annoyances--like the rich person on Earth who doesn't go through the physical privations of the poor but nonetheless experiences difficulties that embitter his or her life. What we are asking is this--do the inhabitants of those planets consider themselves to be just as unhappy, according to their own standard of happiness, as we consider ourselves to be according to ours, especially since they don't remember their past lives either?
395. Can we receive revelations about our former lives?
396. Some people believe they have a vague memory of an unknown past, which comes to them like the fugitive image of a dream. Is this belief only an illusion?
397. In incarnate lives more developed than ours, is the memory of earlier lives more exact?
398. If our instinctive tendencies are a reflection of the past, can someone study those tendencies and discover the mistakes he or she has made?
399. The demands of the incarnate life are at once trials in which we purify ourselves of past faults and a series of lessons for the future. From the nature of those demands, can we conclude anything definite about the character of our preceding life?
Sleep and dreams
400. Does an incarnate spirit really want to be in the body?
401. Does the soul rest, as the body does, during sleep?
402. How can we verify that the spirit is liberated during sleep?
403. Why don't we always recall our dreams?
404. What do you think of the differing systems of interpreting dreams?
405. Often we see things in dreams that appear to be predictions but that don't come to pass. How do you explain that?
406. At times, in a dream, we see incarnate people who are well known to us doing things we know absolutely that they had not considered doing. Isn't this the result of pure imagination?
407. Is it necessary that the body be completely asleep before the soul is liberated?
408. At times we seem to hear words pronounced distinctly within ourselves. Yet these words have no connection to anything we are thinking about. Where do they come from?
409. Often, in a state of twilight sleep and with our eyes closed, we see distinct images--figures we can make out in the minutest detail. Is this a real visual effect or imagination?
410. Sometimes, when we are drowsy or asleep, we have ideas that amaze us but that disappear from waking memory, despite our best efforts to recall them. Where do these ideas come from?
411. Does an incarnate spirit, when liberated from matter and acting as a spirit, know when its death will occur?
412. Can the activity of the spirit during sleep cause fatigue in the body?
Out of body visits between the living
413. The fact that the soul is liberated during sleep suggests that one lives two lives simultaneously: the life of the body, and the less conscpicuous life of the soul. Is this perspective correct?
414. Can acquaintances visit each other during sleep?
415. Why do these nightly meetings happen if we don't remember them?
416. Can we willingly bring about such spirit-visits? For instance, can we say before going to sleep: "Tonight I will meet the spirit of such and such a person and will speak with it about this or that subject?"
417. Can a number of incarnate spirits, during sleep, assemble together?
418. Someone believes that a close friend has died, though the friend is still alive. Could this person meet that friend as a spirit and discover the truth? And could an intuition of that fact be retained on awakening?
419. A discovery simultaneously occurs to several different people. Where does the idea actually come from?
420. Can spirits communicate among themselves while awake?
421. How can two perfectly awake people often have the same idea at the same time?
Apparent deaths, catalepsy
422. People in a cataleptic state generally see and hear what is going on around them, but they can communicate none of it. Do they receive their impressions through their eyes and ears?
423. Can a spirit in a state of catalepsy separate itself entirely from its body (so that the body appears dead) and afterwards come back and animate it?
424. Is it possible to interfere with the process of dying and strengthen ties that are on the verge of breaking down? In other words, can we, with timely help, restore life to a person who would have died otherwise?
Spontaneous and induced trance
425. Is there any connection between spontaneous trance and dreaming?
426. Is there a relation between a spontaneous and an induced trance?
427. What is the nature of what some call hypnotic (or mesmeric) force?
428. What gives some trance subjects the power of clairvoyance?
429. How can a trance subject see through opaque objects?
430. Since the clairvoyance of a trance subject is that of the spirit, why can't she see everything, and why does she make so many mistakes?
431. What is the source of a trance subject's innate ideas. How can he speak accurately about things he ignores in his waking state and that are often above his intellectual capabity?
432. How do you explain the ability of some trance subjects to see at a distance?
433. Does the extent of the trance subject's clairvoyance depend on the physical body or on the nature of the spirit incarnated in it?
434. Are the abilities of the trance subject identical to those of the spirit in the spirit world?
435. Can trance subjects see other spirits?
436. When trance subjects see things at a distance, does their sight come through the agency of the body or the soul?
437. Since it is the soul that travels to distant places, why does the trance subject's physical body nonetheless feel the heat or cold that is present in those places?
438. Is the trance subject's condition after death influenced by the use he or she has made of this ability?
439. How do you define ecstatic trance? How does it differ from other forms of trance?
440. Does the soul of someone in an ecstatic trance really enter the higher realms?
441. Ecstatic trance subjects, elated with transcendental life, frequently express a desire to leave the physical world. Is this desire genuine? Wouldn't the instance for self-preservation prevail?
442. If the trance subject were left alone, could his or her soul leave the body?
443. Sometimes an ecstatic subject claims to see things that are obviously the product of an imagination colored by earthly beliefs and prejudices. Can't we conclude, then, that not everything he sees is real?
444. How reliable are the revelations of an ecstatic subject?
445. What is the value of ecstasy and trance phenomena? Should we view them as a kind of initiation into a future life?
446. Can trance phenomena be reconciled with a materialistic vision?
447. Is there any connection between second sight and the phenomena of dreaming and trance?
448. Is second sight a permanent ability?
449. Does second sight always occur spontaneously?
450. Can second sight be developed by exercise?
451. Why does second sight seem to run in certain families?
452. Is it true that circumstances can develop second sight?
453. Is everyone who is gifted with second sight aware of it?
454. Does a form of second sight explain the ability of people, who, though not endowed with superior intelligence, seem to have sharper judgment than others?
Trance, ecstacy and second sight: a summary
455. (No question).
Probing human thoughts
456. Do spirits see everything that we do?
457. Can spirits see our most secret thoughts?
458. What do such spirits think of us when they observe us?
Influencing thoughts and actions
459. Do spirits influence our thoughts and actions?
460. Do all our thoughts originate with us or do some come from spirits?
461. How can we distinguish between our own thoughts and the ones suggested to us?
462. Do people of high intelligence and genius always draw their ideas from their own minds?
463. It is sometimes said that our first thoughts are the best. Is this true?
464. How can we tell whether a suggested thought comes from a good spirit or from an unenlightened one?
465. Why do unenlightened spirits incite us to do wrong?
466. Why does God allow these spirits to tempt us?
467. Can we free ourselves from the influence of spirits who tempt us to do wrong?
468. Do spirits renounce their attempts to influence us when we repel them by our will?
469. How can we neutralize the influence of these spirits?
470. Have the spirits who tempt us and try to test our resolve received a mission to do this? And if they have, are they responsible for accomplishing such a mission?
471. Sometimes we feel a vague anxiety and uneasiness, or else an inward satisfaction, and cannot identify a cause for either. Are these feelings simply a result of physiological conditions?
472. When spirits want to excite wrong-doing in us, do they merely take advantage of our circumstances? Can they manipulate situations that favor their intentions?
473. Can a spirit temporarily take over an animate body and act in the place of the spirit rightfully incarnated in it?
474. If there is no such thing as "possession" in the ordinary sense of the term--that is to say, the cohabitation of two spirits in the same body--is it possible for an incarnate spirit to find itself so influenced by another that its will is, so to speak, paralyzed?
475. Can a soul drive away these disturbing presences through its own actions and thus free itself of their influence?
476. Can the fascination exercised by this kind of spirit be so complete that the subjugated person is unaware of it? And, in this case, couldn't a third person intervene and put an end to it? Would you tell us, in any event, how we might stop this kind of oppression?
477. Do formulas of exorcism have any power over ill-intentioned spirits?
478. In some cases, even well-meaning individuals fall victim to possession. What is the best means of getting rid of the spirits trying to control them?
479. Is prayer effective in ending negative spirit influence?
480. What should we thinkof the "casting out of devils" spoken of in the Gospels?
481. Do spirits play a part in the phenomena exhibited in cases of hysteria?
482. How can a whole population be suddenly thrown into a state of hysteria and crisis?
483. What causes the physical insensibility sometimes seen in hysterics--and in other people, too--when they are subjected to extreme physical pain?
Affection for people
484. Do spirits have affection for certain persons?
485. Is the affection exclusively one of feeling?
486. Do spirits take an interest in our misfortunes and our prosperity? And are the ones who wish us well upset when when we undergo the ills of life?
487. Which causes the most pain to our spirit friends--our physical sufferings or our ethical failings?
488. Do relatives and friends who have entered the spirit-world before us feel more affection for us than spirits who are strangers?
Guardian angels, mentors, and guides
489. Are there spirits who associate themselves with a particular individual and protect and help that person?
490. What does the expression 'guardian angel' mean?
491. What is the mission of spirit guides?
492. Is a spirit guide assigned to an individual from birth?
493. Is the mission of a spirit guide voluntary, or is it a duty?
494. Is the spirit guide indissolubly bound to the person it guards?
495. Will a spirit guide sometimes abandon its ward if the ward refuses to follow its advice?
496. If a spirit abandons a ward, can it do the ward harm afterwards?
497. How can a spirit guide allow its ward to succumb to the influence of ill-intentioned spirits?
498. Does a spirit guide allow a ward to wander into wrong paths because it cannot cope with the malevolent spirits who may be influencing the ward?
499. Is the spirit guide constantly with the ward? Are there no circumstances under which the guide, without abandoning, may lose sight of a ward?
500. Does a time arrive when a spirit no longer needs a guardian angel?
501. Why is the influence of spirits on us hidden? And why isn't their protection readily apparent to us?
502. When the spirit guide succeeds in leading a ward onto the right road, does the action benefit the guide in any way?
503. Does the spirit guide feel regret when a ward takes the wrong road? Doesn't such a sight disturb its own happiness?
504. Can we ever know the name of our guardian angel?
505. Are the spirit guardians who take well-known names always the persons who bore those names?
506. When we are in the spirit-life, will we recognize our spirit guardian?
507. Do all spirit guardians belong to the higher classes of spirits, or can they be found among those of average advancement, too? Can a parent, for example, become the spirit guardian of a child?
508. Can spirits who have left Earth under favorable conditions become guides for loved ones who survive?
509. Do primitive people and those of a debased nature have spirit guardians and, if so, are those spirits equal in order to those of more advanced individuals?
510. When a parent who watches over his or her child is reincarnated, does that person still continue the guardianship?
511. In addition to the spirit guardian, is there also an unethical spirit attached to each individual--a spirit, in other words, who will incite the person to wrong-doing and consequently provide needed opportunities for the struggle between good and bad?
512. Can we have several spirit guardians?
513. Do friendly spirits act on an individual because it is their mission?
514. Are "familiar spirits" the same as friendly spirits and spirit guardians?
515. There are people, who exercise a sort of charismatic charm over certain individuals, through which they may either inspire them onto the right road or lead them astray. How do you explain this situation?
516. Could a spirit guide incarnate itself in order to accompany us more closely in our earthly life?
517. Are there spirits who associate themselves with a family in order to watch over and aid them?
518. Since spirits are attracted by affinity, are they also attraced to groups of persons who are working for some specific cause?
519. Do societies, cities, and countries have their special spirit guardians?
520. Are the spirit guardians of a whole people more advanced than the ones attached to individuals?
521. Can certain spirits advance the progress of the arts by protecting the individuals who cultivate them?
522. Is a presentiment always a warning from a spirit guardian?
523. Presentiments and the voice of instinct are always somewhat vague. What should we do when we are in a condition of uncertainty?
524. Do our spirit guides' warnings concern only our ethical guidance? Do they sometimes give us presentiments about our other personal affairs?
The events of human life
525. Do spirits exercise an influence over the events of our lives?
526. Since spirits can act on matter, can they bring about the incidents that will insure that a given event will happen? For example, a man is destined to die in a certain way and at a certain time. He climbs a ladder, the ladder breaks, and he is killed. Did spirits cause the ladder to break as a way of fulfilling this man's destiny?
527. Here is another example--one in which the ordinary conditions of matter appear insufficient to account for the event. A woman is destined to be killed by lightning. She is overtaken by a storm and finds shelter under a tree. Lightning strikes the tree, it falls, and the woman is killed. Have the spirits caused the lightning to strike the tree and kill this person?
528. An ill-natured person shoots at someone, narrowly missing the person. Has some friendly spirit turned the bullet aside?
529. What are we to think of magic bullets, that, in certain legends, infallibly hit their target?
530. Are there petty and scornful spirits who cause the various small difficulties that ruin our projects and upset our plans? In short, do such spirits bring on the minor troubles of human life?
531. In the case of those who have harmed us on Earth, does their animosity disappear when they return to the sprit-world?
532. Can spirits prevent misfortunes from happening to their proteges?
533. Can spirits obtain wealth and fame for us if we ask them to do so?
534. At times fate seems to place obstacles in the way of our plans. Is this always due to the influence of spirits?
535. When anything fortunate happens to us, should we thank our spirit guardian for it?
Production of natural phenomena
536. Are the major natural catastrophes due to random causes, or do all of them serve a providential purpose?
537. Ancient mythology is based on ideas that Spiritist Doctrine embraces as well, but there is this difference: the ancients regarded spirits as divinities and represented them as having special attributes. Some of their gods and goddesses had power over the winds, others over lightning; others, again, presided over vegetation, etc. Does this belief have any basis in reality?
538. Do the spirits who preside over natural phenomena form a special order in the spirit-world? Ae they separatge beings, or have they lived physical lives like us?
539. Are certain natural phenomena--storms, for example--the work of a single spirit or a group of spirits?
540. Do these spirits act freely, with knowledge and intention; or instinctively, from an unreasoning impulse?
In time of war
541. In a battle, do spirits help and support each side?
542. In war, right can only be on one side. How can spirits, then, support the wrong side?
543. Can spirits influence a general in planning a campaign?
544. Could hostile spirits suggest poor strategies that will cause a general to be defeated?
545. Is a general ever guided by second-sight--an intuitive perception that shows him the result of his strategy beforehand?
546. In the heat of battle, what becomes of the spirits of soldiers who are killed? Do they continue to take an interest in the struggle after death?
547. Do the spirits of those who fought against each other in life still regard each other as enemies after death? Are they still enraged with each other?
548. While a spirit is coolly watching a battle, does it witness the separation of the souls from the bodies of fallen combatants? How does this phenomenon afffect it?
Pacts with spirits
549. Is it true that we can enter into pacts with evil spirits?
550. How should we interpret the fantastic legends of persons who sell their souls to Satan in order to obtain certain favors?
Occult powers, charms
551. Can an ill-natured person, who can command the help of a wrong-doing spirit, cause harm to his or her neighbor?
552. What should we think about the belief in the power of certain persons to cast spells over others?
553. Some people claim to be able to control the wills of spirits through formulas and ritual acts. What is the effect of these practices?
554. Isn't it possible that someone's confidence in a talisman will attract a spirit? In this case, after all, the person's thought is the real agent of action whereas the talisman acts only as a sign that helps concentrate and direct the thought.
555. What meaning should we give to the term "sorcerer"?
556. Do some persons really have the gift of healing by the laying on of hands?
Blessings and curses
557. Do blessings and curses actually draw down good and evil on the people who receive them?
Occupations and missions of spirits
558. Spirits strive for self-improvement. Do they do anything else?
559. Do imperfect spirits also have a useful role in the universe?
560. Does each spirit have specific responsibilities?
561. Is the work spirits do permanent for each of them, and are particular kinds of work exclusive to certain spirit orders?
562. Are the spirits of the higher orders, who have acquired all possible knowledg, in a state of absolute rest; or do they also have occupations?
563. Are the occupations of spirits carried on without interruption?
564. Are there idle spirits who do no useful work?
565. Do spirits analyze our works of art? Do these works interest them?
566. Does a spirit who excelled in a particular area while incarnate--a painter or an architect, for example--continue to show a special interest in that area in the spirit-world?
567. Do spirits take part in our activities and pastimes?
568. Do spirits who have missions accomplish them while incarnate or as free spirits?
569. What kind of missions would free spsirits have?
570. Are spirits always conscious of the missions they are to carry out?
571. Do only elevated spirits carry out missions?
572. Is a mission imposed on a spirit, or does it choose the mission freely?
573. What would be the mission of an incarnate spirit?
574. What is the mission of the intentionally idle on Earth?
575. The common occupations seem to be more in the nature of day-to-day tasks than missions. As we understand the word, mission refers to something more inclusive and less personal. Given this point of view, how can we recognize a person who has a mission on Earth?
576. Are people with important missions assigned the mission before birth, and are they consciously aware of it in life?
577. Are a person's good works always determined by a previously established mission, or can there be unplanned missions?
578. Can a spirit fail in its mission through its own fault?
579. How can God, who assigns all missions, give one to a spirit who might fail it?
580. Does the spirit who is assigned a mission experience the same apprehension as the spirit who undertakes a trial of purification?
581. Among those individuals of superior knowledge who impact human progress, some impart wrong ideas and misconceived notions to us. In what light should we regard these persons?
582. Can parenthood be considered a mission?
583. When a child takes the wrong road despite the dedication of good parents, are they still held responsible?
584. Often a military commander or a conqueror becomes blinded by his personal motives and will do anything to attain his objectives, even to the point of bringing about widespread calamity. How should we understand the mission of such persons?
The mineral and plant kingdoms
585. Some scientists divide the natural world into three kingdoms: the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal (some naturalists would add a fourth, the human). Others divide it into two classes--organic and inorganic. Which is preferable?
586. Are plants conscious of their existence?
587. Do plants feel sensations? Do they suffer when they are mutilated?
588. Is the force that attracts plants towards each other independent of will?
589. Some plants--for example, the mimosa and the Venus fly trap--move in ways that indicate great sensitiveness and, in some cases, a sort of will. The Venus fly trap seizes the fly that lights on it, sucks out its juices, and even seems to set a snare in order to kill it. But do these plants really think or have a will of their own? Are they an intermediate category between the vegetable and animal kingdoms?
590. Do plants have an instinct for self-preservation?
591. Are plants more perfect in nature, on more advanced worlds, as other beings are?
592. When we compare the intelligence of humans and animals, it is difficult at times to draw a clear line of separtion between them. In several well-known respects, some animals are notoriously superior to certain humans. Can we ever distinguish between them with any precision?
Animal and human domain
593. Do animals act only from instinct?
594. Do animals have a language?
595. Do animals act on their free will?
596. Certain animals have the ability to imitate human speech. Why is this ability found among birds rather than, for instance, among apes? Apes, after all, resemble us far more, anatomically.
597. Since animals have an intelligence that gives them a degree of free action, do they have a principle independent of matter?
598. After death does the 'soul' of an animal keep its individuality and its self-consciousness?
599. Can the 'soul' of an animal choose to be incarnate in one kind of animal rather than another?
600. Given that the 'soul' of the animal survives its body, is it in a transient state after death, like the human soul?
601. Do animals follow a law of progress like humans?
602. Do animals progress, like human beings, through their wills, or through the force of events?
603. Do animals on more evolved planets have a knowledge of God?
604. So even advanced animals on more evolved planets are always inferior to humans. But God, it seems, has created here beings that are condemned to a state of perpetual inferiority. Isn't this arrangment contrary to the unity of designa and progress evident in God's other work?
605. When we think of all the points of contact between humans and animals, we might conclude that we actually have two souls: an animal and a spiritual one. Without the spiritual soul, we would continue to live, but we would only have animal life. (In other words, animals are like us, minus the spiritual soul.) Our good and bad instincts, then, may primarily reflect the predominance of one kind of soul over the other. Is this a correct view?
606. Where does the intelligent principle that makes up the animals' particular kind of soul come from?
607. You have said that the human soul, at its origin, is in a state similar to the infant's; that its intelligence is only beginning to unfold. Where does the soul complete this earliest phase of its career?
608. After death, does the spirit have any awareness of its existences prior to its human period?
609. Once a spirit enters on its human period, does it retain any traces of what it has previously been--that is to say, of where it was during its pre-human period?
610. Are the spirits who say that humans are beings apart from the rest of creation wrong?
611. Is the common origin of the intelligent principle of living beings a vindication of the doctrine of metempsychosis?
612. Can a spirit that has animated a human body be incarnated in an animal?
613. But even though the doctrine of metempsychosis is wrong, couldn't it result from an intuitive memory of the different phases of human existence?
The characteristics of natural law
614. What does the term "natural law" mean?
615. Is this law eternal?
616. Can God have given us laws in one era and then revoked them in another?
617. What areas of life do the Divine laws cover? Do they refer to anything beyond our ethical actions?
618. Are the Divine laws identical everywhere?
The knowledge of natural laws
619. Has God given us the means of knowing the law?
620. Does a spirit understand the law of God more clearly before or after an incarnation?
621. Where is the law of God written?
622. Has God given the revelation of the law to some individuals as a mission?
623. But there have been many, isn't it true, who have professed to instruct humanity but have sometimes made mistakes in their reasoning and have, as a result, led us astray?
624. What are the characterisrtics of the true prophet?
625. What is the most perfect example that God has offered to us as a guide and model?
626. Did Jesus alone reveal the divine or natural laws that have been shown to us? Did we have no other way of knowing about them before His time except through intuition?
627. Since the true laws of God have been taught by Jesus, what is the purpose of the teachings the spirits have given us? Do they have anything more to teach us?
628. Why hasn't the truth been always placed within everyone's reach?
Good and bad
629. How would you define the ethical law?
630. How can we distinguish between good and bad?
631. Do we have it in our power to distinguish between good and bad?
632. Since we are subject to error, can't we be mistaken in our appreciation of good and bad and believe that we are doing right when, in fact, we are doing wrong?
633. The rule of "do unto others as you want others do unto you," which is a rule of reciprocity, cannot be applied to conduct toward oneself. Does the natural law provide a safe rule of conduct here?
634. Why does the bad--I use the word here in its ethical sense--exist in the nature of things? Couldn't God have created the human species in more favorable conditions?
635. Different social positions ceate different wants for people. Doesn't this violate the idea that the natural law is uniform?
636. Are the good and the bad absolutes for everyone?
637. When a cannibal eats human flesh, should we consider him or her guilty for doing so?
638. Wrong-doing sometimes seems to be the result of the force of things. For instance, we might be forced to steal in order to eat or to take the life of someone who is robbing us. Are cases like these violations of God's law?
639. We often do wrong because of the circumstances someone may have forced on us. Where does the greater fault lie in these cases?
640. If we profit by someone else's wrong-doing, even though we took no part in it ourselves, are we as accountable as if we had been involved?
641. Is it as bad to desire to do wrong as it is to do it?
642. In insuring our future happiness, is it enough simply not to have done anything wrong?
643. Are there people who, because of their circumstances, cannot do good?
644. Isn't it true that the situation in which a person finds herself has a good deal to do with leading her into vice and crime?
645. When someone is plunged into an atmosphere of vice, doesn't the impulse to do wrong become almost irresistible?
646. Does the merit earned by a good action depend on the conditions under which the action was performed? In other words, are there different degrees of merit in doing right?
The divisions of natural law
647. Is the whole of God's law contained in the 'love thy neighbor' principle?
648. What do you think of the division of natural law into parts--that is, the laws of worship, work, reproduction, preservation, society, equality, liberty, and, finally, the law of justice, love and compassion?
The purpose of worship
649. What is the purpose of worship?
650. Is worship the result of an inborn feeling, or is it something handed down to us by education?
651. Was there ever a people that completely lacked this inborn feeling?
652. Does worship have its source in natural law?
653. Are external acts essential to worship?
654. Is there a form of worship God prefers?
655. Is it wrong to observe the external rites of a religion only out of respect for people we associate with, although their belief is different from ours?
656. Is it better to worship in a group or alone?
657. Do people who give themselves up to a life of contemplation, who do nothing wrong and think only of God, have any special merit?
658. Is prayer meaningful to God?
659. What is the true essence of prayer?
660. Can prayer make a person better?
661. Is there any use in asking God to forgive our faults?
662. Is there any use in praying for others?
663. As we pray for ourselves, can we prevent our trials from taking place or change their nature?
664. Is it useful to pray for the dead, especially those that we suppose are suffering? How can our prayers help them? Can prayer overturn Divine justice?
665. Some people are against prayers for the dead because this practice is not prescribed by the gospels. What should we think of this view?
666. Can we pray to spirits?
667. If the belief in many gods is baseless, how is it that it is one of the most ancient and widespread human beliefs?
668. Phenomena attesting to the action of spirits have occurred and been known since most ancient times. Could these phenomena have led to belief in many gods?
669. The custom of offering human sacrifices dates from remotest antiquity. How could people have been led to believe that such an atrocity could be pleasing to God?
670. Have human sacrifices, when offered with a truly religious intention, ever been pleasing to God?
671. In human history, we are all aware that entire nations have set out to exterminate each other because of their religious differences and because, by so doing, they believed they would make themselves acceptable to God. Behind this attitude we find a motivation similar to the one that led to the sacrifice of human beings. What do you think of so-called "religious wars"?
672. Was the offering of the fruits of the earth more acceptable in the sight of God than the sacrificing of animals?
673. Couldn't these offering be made more agreeable to God by dedicating them to the relief of the poor? Wouldn't it be truly spiritual to commit to them the first-fruits of all that God has given us?
The necessity for work
674. Is work a requirement of the law of nature?
675. Should we understand that 'work' only applies to material occupations?
676. Why do we have to work?
677. Why does nature provide for all the needs of animals?
678. Are the inhabitants of realms more evolved than Earth subject to the same need to work?
679. Are the rich exempt from the law of work?
680. Aren't there some people who are incapable of working at anything whatever and whose existence is entirely useless?
681. Does the law of nature require that children care for their parents?
The limits of work
682. Since rest is always required after work, is it also a law of nature?
683. What is the limit of work?
684. What should we think about people who misuse their authority, overworking those under them?
685. Do we have a right to retire in old age?
The population of the earth
686. Is the reproduction of living beings a law of nature?
687. If the world's population keeps growing as its current rate, will the planet eventually become too crowded?
The evolution of races
688. At the moment there are races on Earth whose numbers seem to be quickly dwindling. Will they eventually disappear?
689. Are the people now on Earth a new creation of the descendants of more primitive humans?
690. From a strictly physical point of view, are the bodies of the people within a race a special creation or have they evolved from the bodies of primitive races?
691. Again from a purely physical point of view, what is the dominant characteristic of primitive races?
692. Is the scientific improvement of vegetable and animal species contrary to the law of nature? Would we be more in accord with that law if we let them follow their normal course?
Obstacles to reproduction
693. Are human laws and customs that interfere with reproduction contrary to the laws of nature?
694. What about the use of birth control methods in order to more freely enjoy sensuality?
Marriage and celibacy
695. Is marriage--that is to say, the permanent union of two people--contrary to the law of nature?
696. What effect would the abolition of marriage have on human society?
697. Is the ideal that a marrriage cannot be dissolved found in the law of nature, or is it a human law?
698. Do people who choose celibacy have any particular merit in God's sight?
699. Don't some people, though, decide to stay celibate in order to devote themselves entirely to the service of humanity?
700. Numerically, men and women are almost equal. Does this also give us some idea of the way human beings ought to be numerically grouped in marriage?
701. Which conforms better to the law of nature, polygamy or monogamy?
The instinct for self-preservation
702. Is the instinct for self-preservation a natural law?
703. Why did God grant this instinct to living beings?
The means of self-preservation
704. When humans were given the will to live, did God also provide us with the means of survival?
705. Why, then, doesn't Earth produce enough to supply everything humans require?
706. Should we understand that only products from the soil are considered to be the fruits of the earth?
707. Some people invariably lack the means of subsistence, even when surrounded by abundance. How do you explain this?
708. Aren't there conditions in which the means of survival have nothing to do with human will, where shortage of the most essential things result from circumstances?
709. In very critical times some people are forced to sacrifice their fellow human beings in order to keep from starving. Do they commit a crime? And if so, is the crime lessened by the need to survive that was created by the self-preservation instinct?
710. On planets where bodies are more perfect, do the beings still need food?
Enjoying the fruits of the earth
711. Is it an inherent human right to enjoy of the fruits of the earth?
712. Why did God make material possessions attractive?
713. Does Nature establish limits to such pleasures?
714. What about the person who is always looking to increase his or her pleasures through all kinds of abuses?
Needs and wants
715. How can we know the limits of our needs?
716. Can't we say that the limits of human needs are established by our bodily structure?
717. We all know of people who live extravagantly, overconsuming when others don't even have the bare essentials. How are we to view them?
718. Does the law of self-preservation require us to provide for our bodily needs?
719. Are we to be blamed for seeking comfort?
720. Do self-inflicted hardships, endured for the purpose of spiritual purification, confer any special merit?
721. An ascetic life of sacrifice has been practiced throughout the ages and among many different people. Does it have any merits from any point of view?
722. Is abstaining from certain foods, as some people do, a rational idea?
723. Is eating meat contrary to natural law?
724. Does abstaining from animal and other foods have any merit as a purification?
725. What about mutilating the body or the bodies of animals as a means of purification?
726. If our trials on Earth place us on a higher level, depending on how we endure them, can we be elevated by trials we voluntarily create for ourselves?
727. If we are not to create voluntary suffering, which is useless, shouldn't we take measures to protect ourselves from the hardships that we anticipate will pose a threat to us?
728. Is destruction a law of Nature?
729. If destruction is necessary for transformation, why does Nature instill species with the self-preservation instinct?
730. Since death will lead us to a better life and liberate us from the evils of the world, it is something we should desire more than fear. Why does each of us, then, feel such instinctive horror and apprehension when facing it?
731. Why, along with the means of preservation, did Nature simultaneously place the means of destruction in our path?
732. Is the need for destruction the same on all planets?
733. Will the need for destruction always exist among us on Earth?
734. In our present state do we have an unlimited right to destroy animals?
735. What about destruction that surpasses the limits of the needs and safety of everyone--for instance, when the object is solely to destroy for the sake of sport, without any beneficial purpose?
736. In regard to the taking of animal life, some people are scrupulous in the extreme. Do they have any special merit?
737. What purpose does God have in allowing natural calamities to occur?
738. Couldn't God use other means than disasters of this kind to improve us?
739. Do such natural calamities, despite the problems they cause, have any useful purpose from a purely physical point of view?
740. Aren't such calamaties also ethical trials for us, forcing us to strive harder to get what we need?
741. Can we avert calamities?
742. What causes human beings to wage wars?
743. Will war ever disappear from Earth?
744. Why does Providence allow wars to take place?
745. What about those people who stir up war for their own benefit?
746. Is murder a crime under God's laws?
747. Are all murderers equally guilty?
748. Is murder in self-defense justifiable under God's laws?
749. Are we held accountable for murders we commit in war?
750. Who is guiltier under God's laws--someone who kills a parent or someone who kills an infant?
751. Why does infanticide remain as a custom, even to the point where it is legally sanctioned, among certain intellectually evolved people?
752. Should we consider cruelty part of the instinct of destruction?
753. Why was brutality a dominant characteristic of primitive peoples?
754. Doesn't cruelty result from the lack of an ethical sense?
755. Why do we find cruel and unevolved beings living among relatively civilized people?
756. Will society someday be purged of wrong-doers?
757. Can a duel be considered a legitimate defense?
758. How should we think of a duel when one of the combatants, aware of his incompetence, is sure he hasn't the slightest chance of winnning?
759. What is the purpose of the so-called "point of honor" with reference to a duel?
760. Will capital punishment be abolished in the future?
761. The law of preservation gives each of us the right to preserve his or her own life. Can't we apply this same right when it comes to eliminating a dangerous member of society?
762. Certainly, it is possible to banish capital punishment in civilized societies. But wasn't it indispensable in earlier times?
763. Are the restrictions imposed on capital punishment a reliable indication of social progress in our society?
764. Jesus said: "He who kills by the sword shall perish by the sword." Don't these words represent a sanction of the principle of retaliation? Isn't the death imposed on a murder an application of this penalty?
765. What about the death penalty imposed in God's name?
Is social life necessary?
766. Is social life natural to human beings?
767. Is absolute isolation contrary to the law of nature?
768. Does this search for life in society derive only from personal need, or does it actually originate in the wider objectives of Providence?
769. Very well, we accept the fact that, as a general principle, social life falls within the laws of nature. But since all human inclinations are also part of nature, why should a reclusive life--if it reflects someone's genuine desire--be subject to reproach?
770. What we should think of those people who chose to live as recluses as a means of escaping harmful influences?
771. What do you think of people who leave society in order to devote themselves to helping the unfortunate?
772. Since ancient times, various religious orders have prescribed a vow of silence. What is your view of this vow?
773. Why do the ties among animals and their offspring loosen when the young reach adulthood?
774. Some people, noting this loosening of ties among animals, believe that human family ties may only be the result of culture, not natural law. Are they right?
775. What effect would the loosening of family ties have on society?
The natural state
776. Are 'natural state' and 'natural law' the same thing?
777. In the natural state humans have fewer needs and do not suffer the self-imposed demands that come with more advanced states. Based on this, some people have suggested that the natural state allows for the most complete form of happiness on Earth. Is there any truth in this view?
778. Can humanity return to the natural state?
The march of evolution
779. Do we as human beings find the drive to progress built into us, or is it the result of education?
780. Does ethical progress always follow intellectual progress?
781. Is it possible for us to stop the march of progress?
782. Aren't there some people whose theories and actions are contrary to progress but who are, from their own perspective, acting in good faith--supposing, as they do, that they are helping progress along?
783. Does human evolution always proceed slowly?
784. The human capacity for wrong-doing is impressive. Doesn't it seem that we are going backwards instead of progressing, at least from the ethical point of view?
785. What are the biggest obstacles to progress?
786. History has shown us many nations that, overwhelmed by some event of catastrophic proportions, have apparently regressed to a lawless state. Where is the progress in such cases?
Nations in decline
787. Aren't there peoples who resist progress?
788. Nations are collective individualities: just like individuals, they go through their periods of infancy, maturity, and gradual decline. Doesn't this truth, which is historically verifiable, lead us to suppose that the most advanced nations of this century will, like the ancient ones, have their decline and fall?
789. Will progress one day create a single nation out of the many now on Earth?
790. Is civilization and indication of progress or, as some philosophers assert, of human decadence?
791. Will modern civilization eventually purify itself and eliminate all the wrongs it has brought about?
792. Why doesn't civilization immediately produce all the ethical good that it is capable of producing?
793. How can we recognize an evolved civilization?
The progress of human law
794. Are natural laws sufficient to regulate human societies?
795. Why is there such instability in human laws?
796. Are strict criminal laws a necessary fixture of our modern society?
797. How can we be led to reform our laws?
The contribution of the Spiritist Doctrine
798. Will the Spiritist Doctrine become a popular belief or will it continue to be accepted only by a few?
799. How can the Spiritist Doctrine contribute to evolution?
800. Do we have any reason to fear that the Spiritist Doctrine will not be able to survive human indifference and the attachments we have to material things?
801. Why haven't the spirits brought us these ideas before?
802. Since the Spiritist Doctrine is a significant step forward in our evolution, why don't the spirits speed it up by making their manifestations so evident that even the most incredulous will believe?
803. Are all of us equal before God?
The inequality of talents
804. Why hasn't God given the same amount of talent to all of us?
805. Does a more evolved spirit retain all of its faculties when it passes from a more to a less advanced world?
806. Are social inequalities part of natural law?
807. What should we think of people who, strictly for personal benefit, use their social position to oppress others?
808. Aren't differences in income the result of people's differing talents, some of which are more valued by society than others?
809. Would heirs to a fortune based on illegal activities be held accountable for them?
810. Often people write wills that distribute their assets in a more or less equitable way among their loved ones. After passing on, are these people held accountable for any possible consequences of their dispositions?
811. Is absolute equality of wealth possible, and has it ever existed?
812. Does economic inequality imply that we will never enjoy the same level of well-being on earth?
813. Should society be responsible for people who, because of their own failings, end up living in misery?
Wealth and poverty as trials
814. Why do some of us have wealth and power while others are poor?
815. In which one, wealth or poverty, is it harder to succeed?
816. If the wealthy person is more exposed to temptations, doesn't he or she also have more opportunities to do good?
Equal rights for men and women
817. Are men and women equal before God, and are they entitled to the same rights?
818. Why do women have an inferior status in some societies?
819. Why are women physically weaker than man?
820. Doesn't a woman's physical weakness make her naturally dependent on man?
821. Are the functions assigned to women as important as those assigned to men?
822. Should men and women be equal before human laws, as they are before the law of God?
Equality in death
823. Where does the desire to preserve one's memory through lavish funerals and prominent monuments come from?
824. In this case, should we condemn elaborate funerals?
825. Are there any conditions under which we experience absolute freedom?
826. What would be the lifestyle of someone with absolute freedom?
827. Doesn't always respecting the rights of others deprive us of the right of personal freedom?
828. Some people hold liberal opinions. Yet, in their own houses and among people who work for them, however, they are regular tyrants. How can we reconcile this contradiction?
829. Are there people who, by their nature, are intended to be the property of others?
830. When slavery has been established in a place for a long time, are the slave-holders to blame for conforming to a custom that seems natural to them?
831. Some peoples have advanced more than others, with the result that their talents and skills have placed them in a position of superiority to others. Should less advanced people be dependent on more advanced ones?
832. Some people treat their slaves humanely, let them want for nothing, and argue that freedom would expose them to greater privations. How are we to interpret these claims?
Freedom of thought
833. Is there anything in us that escapes constraint and in which we can enjoy absolute liberty?
834. Are we responsible for our thoughts?
Freedom of conscience
835. Does freedom of conscience arise naturally from freedom of thought?
836. Does anyone have a right to set up barriers to the freedom of conscience?
837. What effect do obstacles to freedom of conscience have?
838. Is every belief to be respected, even if it is known to be false?
839. Is it ever right to offend people whose beliefs are not the same as our own?
840. Does it infringe on freedom of conscience to put controls on beliefs that can lead to social turmoil?
841. Should we, out of respect for freedom of conscience, allow the spread of dangerous ideas? Or may we, without infringing on this freedom, try to convince people that they have been deluded by those ideas?
842. All doctrines aspire to be the sole expression of the truth. How can we recognize one that can rightfully be presented as true?
843. Do human beings have freedom of action?
844. Do we have free will from birth?
845. Don't some people have instinctive predispositions that present obstacles to their exercise of free will?
846. Doesn't the body have influence over our actions, and if so, doesn't this influence constitute an infringement on the spirit's free will?
847. Does mental illness or physical damage to the brain deprive us of our free will?
848. Since drunkenness distorts the intellectual faculties, can it be considered an extenuating circumstance in the commission of a crime?
849. What faculty has a more important role in the primitive state--instinct or free will?
850. Doesn't social status sometimes put limits on the use of free will?
851. Are there some life events that are fated--that is to say, preordained--and, if so, what becomes of free will?
852. Some people seem to be pursued by a fate that is independent of their own actions. Don't the misfortunes of these individuals result from predestination?
853. Some people fall into one danger after another. It seems that death is always staring them in the face. Isn't fate involved in such cases?
854. Are we to conclude, then, that precautions taken to avoid danger are useless?
855. What purpose could Providence have in making us face serious dangers that really will not affect us?
856. Does a spirit know the kind of death it will have beforehand?
857. Some soldiers brave the dangers of the battlefield, totally convinced that they will survive. Is there any foundation for this confidence?
858. Why do people who have premonitions of their death generally dread it less than others?
859. If death is inevitable when the time comes, can we say the same about all the accidents that happen to us in the course of a lifetime?
860. Can we, through our will and actions, prevent certain foreordained events from taking place?
861. Does a murderer know, in choosing a life plan, that he or she will commit murder?
862. There are people who never succeed in anything, who seem to be pursued by an "evil genius" in all their undertakings. Isn't there something that can be called fate in such cases?
863. Don't society's values often lead us to follow one career over another? The choice of a profession, after all, is often influenced by the opinions of our friends and relations. Isn't this pressure to accede to the judgment of other people an obstacle to our free will?
864. If there are some people whom fortune treats unkindly, others seem disproportionately favored by it and succeed in everything they try. To what can we attribute this?
865. How do we account for the run of luck that sometimes happens, for instance, in games of chance, where will and intelligence have nothing to do with the outcome?
866. In other words, what looks like fate in the shaping of our material destinies is really the result of our free will?
867. Where does the expression "born under a lucky star" come from?
868. Is the future ever revealed to us?
869. Why should it be hidden?
870. Since it is useful for the future to be hidden, why does God sometimes permit it to be revealed?
871. Knowing everything, God knows whether someone will or will not fail in a given trial. What is the purpose of a trial, then, if God has nothing to learn about that person?
Theoretical summary of the motivations of human action
872. (No question.)
Natural rights and justice
873. Are we born with a sense of justice, or is it something acquired by education?
874. If the notion of justice is so natural, why do different people understand it so differently? Very often, what seems just to me is seen as a grave injustice by someone else.
875. How would you define justice?
876. According to natural law, what is the fundamental principle of justice?
877. Does social life impose special responsibilities on us?
878. Sometimes we unknowingly overstep the boundaries of our own rights. How can we tell when we've gone too far?
879. Suppose someone really lives up to the true meaning of justice. Could you tell us something about that person?
880. Which is the most important among our natural rights?
881. Given our right to life, do we also have the right to accumulate wealth so that, for example, we may live comfortably when we'r no longer able to work?
882. Do we have the right to defend the possessions we have accumulated through hard work?
883. Is the desire to possess natural to us?
884. How to you define "rightful property"?
885. Are there any limits to the right to property?
Love of one's neighbor
886. What did Jesus really mean when he used the word "love"?
887. Jesus also said: "Love your enemies." Doesn't that sound inconsistent with human nature? Besides, isn't hostility just the result of lack of affinity between spirits?
888. What is your opinion of giving handouts?
889. Aren't there cases where beggars have no one but themselves to blame for their misfortunes?
890. Is motherly love a virtue, or is it an instinctive feeling common to humans and animals?
891. If motherly love is such a natural feeling, why do some mothers hate their children, even from before their birth?
892. Can't parents be excused for not feeling the same tenderness for children who cause them great deal of sorrow?
Virtues and faults
893. Which is the greatest virtue?
894. With some people goodness seems to be second nature. Others, if they want to act generously, have to overcome negative thoughts and feelings. Do the actions of the two have the same merit?
895. Certain attitudes are obvious signs of a corrupted ethical sense. At a deeper level, what is the most characteristic sign of ethical imperfection?
896. Some quite generous people nonetheless lack the ability to make effective decisions and end up lavishing their money without doing any real good. Do their actions have any merit?
897. Can someone be blamed who does good only in the hope of rewards or advantages in the spirit world. Does this kind of calculation delay our progress?
898. Given the temporary nature of our physical existence and the importance of our future life, is it useful to acquire scientific knowledge when this knowledge only concerns the physical life?
899. Two equally wealthy individuals use their wealth entirely for their own personal satisfaction. One was born to an affluent family and never wanted for anything; the other became rich through hard work. Which one is guiltier?
900. Can someone who constantly accumulates wealth, but without doing good to anyone, excuse it on the ground of leaving a larger fortune to his or her heirs?
901. Consider two misers. One denies himself the necessities of life and dies of starvation in the midst of plenty. The other is lavish in providing for herself and gratifying her desires but refuses to make the smallest sacrifice for a neighbor or help a worthwhile cause. When someone asks her for a favor, she is always short of funds. On the other hand, when indulging a personal whim, she always has money. Which of the two is guiltier, and will he or she be the worse off in the spirit-world?
902. Is it wrong to want riches in order to do good?
903. Is it wrong to study other people's flaws?
904. Is it wrong to investigate and expose social ills?
905. There have been books of the highest artistry that have aided human progress through the power of their ethical message. The authors themselves, though, have not always been particularly ethical individuals. Will the good these authors have done through their writings be counted to them once they are in the spirit-life?
906. Is it wrong for someone who does good to be conscious of that goodness and to inwardly acknowledge it?
907. Many of our passions have their roots in our instinctual nature. Are they therefore bad by definition?
908. How can we identify the limit at which they stop serving their useful purpose?
909. Are our own efforts always enough to overcome our instinctual tendencies?
910. Can spiritual friends help someone trying to cope with such tendencies?
911. Aren't there passions and appetities that are sometimes too strong to withstand?
912. What is the best way to deal with the predominance of our physical nature?
913. What is the fundamental cause of the faults found in human nature?
914. Since selfishness has its basis in self-interest, is it possible to eliminate it totally?
915. Since selfishness seems to be inherent in the human race, won't it always obstruct the reign of goodness on Earth?
916. Far from diminishing, selfishness increases with civilization, which seems to feed and make it stronger. This, however, brings up a problem. How can the effect (selfishness) be destroyed by the cause (civilization)?
917. How can selfishness be eliminated?
Characteristics of the good person
918. How can we recognize those individuals who have made enough progress to rise in the spiritual hierarchy?
919. In the present life, how can we guarantee our own ethical progress and our ability to resist our lower tendencies?
Relative happiness and unhappiness
920. Can we enjoy perfect happiness on Earth?
921, Once the human race is transformed, we can foresee that our happiness will be nearly complete. But in the meantime, can't we hope for a limited form of happiness?
922. Each person views happiness on Earth differently. The hardship of one turns on the happiness of someone else. Is there, nonetheless, a common measure that will let us gauge happiness?
923. Can't it be said that what one person finds a luxury another will see as a necessity of life, and vice versa? Doesn't it all depend on the economic situation?
924. Still, don't bad things happen even to the best of us--things that are independent of our conduct? Isn't there some way of sparing ourselves from them?
925. Why does God give fortunes to people who obviously don't deserve them?
926. Isn't civilization, in creating new needs and desires, the source of new problems?
927. We understand that nonessential things are not indespensable to happiness. But the same is not true for basic necessities. Isn't it real misfortune to be deprived of them?
928. Our talents are indicative of a vocation. Don't many of the troubles we have in life come from not pursuing that vocation?
929. Even in the midst of wealthy communities we find people who lack the most basic necessities and who seem to have only death to look forward to. What should they do in such circumstances--allow themselves to die in destitution?
930. It is obviously social pressure that keeps some of us from getting work, especially when we have to take a less well-paid and lower-ranked position than our previous one. But aren't there some people who have no personal prejudices, who have put pride behind them, and yet are still genuinely incapable of providing for themselves? What about people who become sick, for instance, or meet some other circumstance beyond their control?
931. In modern society, it seems that most people struggle to make ends meet, while a small upper-class lives a happy life. Why is that?
932. Why do the wrong-doers of this world so often have authority over the good?
933. Do we design our ethical sufferings in the same way we do our physical ones?
The loss of loved ones
934. Isn't the death of a loved one a legitimate source of grief, since the loss is both irreversible and independent of our wishes?
935. Some people consider communicating with spirits blasphemous? How should we view this opinion?
936, What effect does uncontrollable grief of surviving relatives have on newly departed spirits?
Ungratefulness, ruined friendships
937. The disappointments caused by ungratefulness and the fragility of human friendships are another source of bitterness to our hearts, are they not?
938. Is it possible for the disappointments that ungratefulness causes to harden our hearts?
939. Friendly spirits are spontaneously attracted to each other in the spirit world, this we can safely assume. How, then, do you explain that among us on Earth, affections are often one-sided, or met with rejection and indifference. Furthermore, how does a relationship that starts with the most loving feelings change into dislike, even hatred?
940. Can't we say, too, that incapatability between persons destined to live together is also a genuine source of suffereing, made all the more bitter because it poisons an entire lifetime?
The fear of death
941. The fear of death is puzzling. How do we explain it, given that it originates with people who claim to believe in an afterlife?
942. Many people will consider your prescriptions for happiness to be somewhat commonplace, mere truisms. Couldn't anyone say, after all, that the true secret of happiness lies in our ability to bear up under our troubles?
943. Some people feel a deep weariness of life without any apparent reason. Where does this feeling cvome from?
944. Do we have the right to terminate our own lives?
945. What should we think of people who commit suicide because they are bored with of life?
946. And should we view, in the same light, people who resort to suicide in order to escape their troubles and failings?
947. Some people become disheartened by their struggles, give up on themselves, and die in despair. Is this suicide?
948. Is suicide wrong when it is committed out of shame for the harm the suicidal person has inflicted on others? Is this more justifieable than an act prompted by despair?
949. Can suicide be excused when the person wants to avoid bringing disgrace on his or her children or family?
950. Occasionally we hear of people who kill themselves in hopes of entering a happier existence more quickly. What should we make of them?
951. But there is nobility, isn't there, when we sacrifice our lives in order to save the lives of others or to be useful to them?
952. There are some people whose excessive indulgence they well know, will bring on an early death. Their habits become addictions that they cannot control. Is this considered suicide?
953. Are we wrong to take our own lives in order to shorten sufferings that are going to lead to our death anyway?
954. Is there any guilt when negligence accidentally leads to a loss of life?
955. In some countries, women used to voluntarily burn themselves to death on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Were they considered suicides and did they have to undergo correction for that crime?
956. Some people kill themselves because they cannot bear the loss of loved ones and want to be with them in the next life. Do they succeed in their intent?
957. What is the state of the spirit after suicide?
958. Why do we instinctively reject the idea of annihilation?
959. Where do we get our instinctive sense that there is a future life?
The intuition of future joys and sorrows
960. The belief in future joys and sorrows is found among all people. Where does it come from?
961. What is the predominant feeling most people experience at the moment of death? Is it doubt, fear, or hope?
962. Since we have these innate spiritual perceptions, why are there so many skeptics?
God's intervention in our joys and hardships
963. Is God personally concerned with each of us? Isn't God much too important, and we much too small to be consequential in the sight of the Divine?
964. Does God need to know each of our actions to "reward" or "punish" us? Aren't most of our actions too insignificant?
The nature of future joys and hardships
965. Do the suffering and happiness of the soul after death have anything material in them?
966. Why are our ideas about our future trials and happiness so soften childish and absurd?
967. In what ways are the more advanced spirits happy?
968. You tell us that a condition for spiritual happiness is freedom from material needs. Isn't the satisfaction of these same needs a source of pleasure for us?
969. How should we interpret the statement that pure spirits are united in the bosom of God and are continually busy singing God's praises?
970. In what ways do less advanced spirits suffer?
971. Is the influence that spirits exercise over each other always good?
972. If they aren't subject, how can they be tempted?
973. What are the worst hardships that wrong-doing spirits endure?
974. Where does the doctrine of eternal fire come from?
975. Do less advanced spirits understand the happiness of the good?
976. Does the sight of unhappy spirits upset the more advanced ones? Does it disturb their happiness?
977. If spirits cannot hide their thoughts from each other and all their actions are transparent, does an offending spirit always view its victim?
978. Doesn't the memory of faults committed in a more backward time disturb the happiness of an advanced spirit?
979. Does the thought of the trials that is still has to endure to reach perfection interfere with a spirit's happiness?
980. Are the ties of fellowship that link spirits of the same order a source of happiness for them?
981. Is there a difference in the future condition of a spirit who was afraid of death and one who looked on it indifferently or even with relief?
982. Is it necessary to accept the tenets of the Spiritist Doctrine and to believe in spirit manifestations to be assured of a favorable situation after life?
983. Is it correct to say that a free spirit endures tribulations of a psychic nature while an incarnate one experiences those of a physical nature?
984. Do all the difficulties of our physical life result from mistakes in the present life?
985. Can we consider it a reward when someone reincarnates on a more advanced world?
986. Can a spirit who made considerable progress while on Earth still reincarnate here?
987. What happens to us when we avoid doing wrong but do nothing to free ourselves from material attachments?
988. We find many people whose life flows smoothly, who are free from all cares. Do these comfortable circumstances indicate that they have nothing from the past to deal with?
989. There are people who, though not completely bad, spread unhappiness because of their bad tempers. What will happen to them?
Rehabilitation and repentance
990. Does repentance occur in the physical or in the spiritual state?
991. What are the consequences of repentance for a free spirit?
992. And what happens when we repent while in the physical state?
993. Don't some people have tendencies only toward evil doing and refuse to repent?
994. When we fail to recognize our faults during the physical life, will we do so after death?
995. Are there spirits who, without showing ill-disposition, are unconcerned about their own fate?
996. Since spirits can see the harm their imperfections cause them, why do some of them aggravate and prolong their state by doing wrong in the spirit state--by misleading humans, for instance?
997. We see spirits who, though relatively unevolved, are still open to constructive thoughts and to prayers made on their behalf. How do you explain the fact, then, that other spirits, while giving the impression of being more knowledgeable, are hard and cynical?
998. Does atonement occur in the physical or the spiritual state?
999. Is sincere repentance during physical life enought to erase our faults and deserve God's grace?
1000. Can we make amends in our present life?
1001. Isn't there any value in deciding that our possessions will serve a useful purpose after we are gone?
1002. What can a person do who faces immediate death and has no chance to make amends? Is it enough to repent?
The length of corrections
1003. Is the length of the trials we experience in future reincarnations arbitrary or does it follow a law?
1004. What determines the length of our trials?
1005. To a suffering spirit, does time seem longer or shorter in the spirit-world than in the physical one?
1006. Can a spirit's sufferings be eternal?
1007. Are there spirits who never repent?
1008. Does the length of the spirit's trials always depend on its will, or are some of them imposed on it for a prescribed amount of time?
1009. According to the above, would the trials imposed never be eternal?
The resurrection of the body
1010. Does the doctrine of the resurrection of the body actually refer to the doctrine of incarnation taught by spirits?
1011. Then, through the dogma of the resurrection of the body, the church is teaching the doctrine of reincarnation?
Heaven, hell, and purgatory
1012. Are there places in the universe that are reserved for the punishment or reward of spirits, according to their merit?
1013. How are we to understand Purgatory?
1014. What prompt some spirits, who seem to be of the higher orders, to answer questions regarding Hell and Purgatory in the commonly understand sense that you have told us is wrong?
1015. What should we understand by the phrase "a tormented soul"?
1016. In what sense should we understand the word "Heaven"?
1017. Some spirits have stated they inhabit the fourth or the fifth heaven. What do they mean by this?
1018. How should we understand Christ's words: "My Kingdom is not of this world"?
1019. Will goodness ever rule on Earth?
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