The Spirits' Book
Book Two - The Spirit World
Chapter XI - The Three Kingdoms
613. However erroneous, may be the idea attached to the doctrine of the metempsychosis, may not that doctrine be a result of an intuitive reminiscence of the different existences of man?
"That intuitive reminiscence is seen in this belief as in many others; but, like the greater part of his intuitive ideas, man has perverted it."
The doctrine of the metempsychosis would be true if by that Word Were understood the progression of the soul from a lower state to a higher state, in which it acquires the new development that will transform its nature; but it is false when understood as meaning that any animal can transmigrate directly into a man, and a man into an animal, which would imply the idea of a retrogradation or of a fusion. The fact that fusion is not possible between corporeal beings of two different species is an indication of their being of degrees that are not assailable, and that such must be the case, also, with the spirits that animate them. If the same spirit could animate them alternately, it would imply the existence, between them. of an identity that would manifest itself by the possibility of corporeal reproduction. Reincarnation, as now taught by spirits, is founded, on the contrary, upon the ascensional movement of nature and upon the progression of man in his own specie,, which detracts nothing from his dignity. 'What really degrades man is the evil use he makes of the faculties which God has given him for his advancement. And, at all events, the antiquity and universality of the doctrine of the metempsychosis, and the number of eminent men who have professed it, proves that the principle of reincarnation has its roots in nature itself ; a fact which, so far from diminishing the probability of its truth, must be regarded as constituting a weighty argument In its favor.
The startling-point of spirit is one of those questions which have reference to the origin of things, and to the secret designs of God. It is not given to man to comprehend them completely, and he can only form, In regard to them, suppositions and theoretic systems, more or less probable. Spirits themselves are far from knowing everything ; and may also have, in regard to what they do not know, Individual opinions more or less in harmony with fact.
It is thus, for example, that all spirits do not think alike in reference to the relations which exist between man and the animals. According to some, spirit only arrives at the human period after having been elaborated and individualized in the different degrees of the lower beings of the creation. According to others, the spirit of man has always belonged to the human race, Without passing through the ascensional degrees of the animal world. The first of these theories has the advantage of giving an aim to the future of animals, which are thus seen to form the earliest links In the chain of thinking beings ; the second theory is more consonant with the dignity of man, and may be summed up as follows: -
The different species of animals do not proceed intellectually from one another by road of progression. Thus the spirit of the oyster does not become successively that of the fish, the bird, the quadruped, and the quadruped. Each species is a fixed type, physically and morally, each individual of which draws, from the universal source of being, the sum of the intelligent principle which is necessary to it according to the nature of its organs and the work it has to accomplish in the phenomena of nature, and which it restores to the general mass of that principle at its death. Those of worlds more advanced than ours (188) are also distinct races, that are fitted to the needs of those worlds, and to the degree of advancement of the men of whom they are the auxiliaries, but that do not proceed, spiritually, from those of the earth. It is not the same with man. It is evident that, physically, he forms a link in the chain of living beings; but there is, morally, a solution of continuity between the animals and him; for man alone possesses the soul, or spirit, the divine spark, which gives him the moral sense and the extended vision which are wanting in the animals; and this soul, spirit, spark, is, in him, the principal being, pre-existent to, and surviving, his body, and thus preserving his Individuality. What is the origin of spirit? What its starting-point? Is it formed by the individualizing of the intelligent principle? This is a mystery which it would be useless to attempt to penetrate, and in regard to which, as we have said, we can do no more than build up theories. What is certain, what Is indicated alike by reason and by experience, is the survival of each spirit and the persistence of his individuality after death, his faculty of progressing, the happiness or unhappiness of his next state of being, according to his advancement or his backwardness in the path of purification, and all the moral consequences which flow from this certainty, as for the mysterious kinship which exists between man and the animals, that we repeat, is God's secret, like many other matters the knowledge of which, at this time, is of little importance to our advancement, and upon which it would be useless to insist.