The Spirits' Book
Book One - First Causes
Chapter IV - Vital Principle
Life and Death
70. What happens to the matter and vital principle of organic beings after their death?
“Inert matter decomposes and is used to form other bodies. The vital principle returns to the general mass.”
When the elements making up the organic being die they blend in such a manner to form new beings, which in turn draw the principle of life and activity from the universal source. They absorb it, and then restore it to that same source when they die. The organs, so to speak, are impregnated with the vital fluid, which enables all the body’s components to actively communicate with one another when certain injuries occur and to restore functions that have been temporarily suspended However, when the elements essential to the functioning of the body have been destroyed or too severely injured, the vital fluid is unable to restore movement that constitutes life, and the being dies. The organs react more or less powerfully upon one another and their mutual action results from their harmony. When this harmony is destroyed or disrupted in any manner, their functions cease just as a machine stops when its essential parts are out of order, or as a clock stops when its gears are worn out or accidentally broken, and in which there is no longer any motive force to keep it running.
We have a better example of life and death in an electric device. The device, like all natural bodies, contains electricity in a latent state, but the electrical mechanism is only manifested when the fluid is set in motion by a special cause. When this movement is induced, the device is said to become alive, but when the cause of the electrical activity ceases, the mechanism ceases to occur and the device is once again inert. Organic bodies are like an electric device in which the movement of the fluid produces the phenomena of life, and in which the culmination of that movement results in death.
The quantity of vital fluid present in all organic beings is not the same. It varies in the different species of living beings, and is not always the same in the same individual or individuals of the same species. Some may be saturated with it, while others have only very small quantities. Consequently, certain species have a more active and persistent life due to the abundance of vital fluid present in their bodies.
The vital fluid contained in a given organism may be exhausted, and become insufficient to support life, unless it is renewed by the absorption of substances that contain it.
The vital fluid may be transferred from one individual to another. For those who possess copious amounts, it may be given to someone else who is deficient. In certain cases, this may rekindle the vital fame when on the verge of being snuffed out.