Allan Kardec Spiritist Educational Center

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Spirits' BookKardec

"Unshakable faith is only that which can meet reason face to face in every human epoch.” Allan Kardec

"Spiritism, marching hand in hand with progress, will never be overthrown because if new discoveries should demonstrate that it is in error upon a point, it would modify itself in regard to it. If a new truth is revealed, it accepts it." Allan Kardec

Who was Allan Kardec?

Allan Kardec was born Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail in Lyon, France, in October of 1804. From an affluent family, the young Rivail at the age 10 was sent to Switzerland to study in one of the most prestigious schools in Europe at that time, the Yverdon Institute, led by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a renowned pedagogue and educational reformer. Pestalozzi’s pedagogy, whose goal was to develop in his pupils their academic and practical skills as well as a social awareness and their ability to love and selfishlessly do good to others (summarized as Head, Heart and Hands), had a profound and lasting impact on the young Rivail. After graduation, he returned to Paris and devoted most of his life to education. He was a teacher and author of many publications, among others, A Plan for the Improvement of Public Instruction, submitted by him in 1828 to the French Legislative Chamber; A Course of Practical and Theoretic Arithmetic, on the Pestalozzian System, for the’ use of Teachers and Mothers (1829); A Classical Grammar of the French Tongue (1831); Reform plan for the examination and schools to educate young people (1847), where he emphasized  the need to offer equal opportunities of education for girls; A Manual for the use of Candidates for Examination in the Public Schools; with Explanatory Solutions of various Problems of Arithmetic and Geometry (1848). He was a member of several academic societies, among others, the Royal Society of Arras, which, in 1831, awarded him the Prize of Honor for his essay on the question, “What is the System of Study most in Harmony with the Needs of the Epoch?” For many years, inspired by his mentor Pestalozzi, Prof. Rivail gave free lectures of Math and Sciences for those who had no other means to afford them otherwise.

In the spring of 1855, Prof. Rivail reluctantly accepted an invitation to participate in a “dancing table” experiment. Dancing or turning table was a trendy form of entertainment at that time in Europe, where a small group of people sitting around a table with the palm of their hands on top, but not necessarily touching it, enabled the table to move up in the air and down. The members of the group then asked questions that were answered by the table (allegedly by the action of spirits) according to a pre-arranged code associating the letters of the alphabet to the taps of the leg’s table on the floor.

Prof. Rivail’s scientific mind scoffed the idea that tables had the capacity to think. But after attending the séance and conducting some experiments he was very impressed with the results. There was no doubt in his mind that the table did jump independently of the participants’ will and logically responded to their queries. Intrigued by the nature of the phenomenon, he participated in other meetings to continue his observations. When he asked the table how it could think without having a brain and a nervous system, the answer was that it was not the table that was thinking, but the souls of people who once lived on Earth. Surprised by this revelation, he started to ask questions in his own mind (without vocalizing them), to which the table gave proper answers. In order to avoid being deceived, he brought to the meetings questions written in a sealed envelope and unknown by any other participant. The questions were answered appropriately.

Convinced that the table was being handled by an intelligent being, Prof. Rivail wanted to expedite the communication with it since tapping out the alphabetic code was tedious and slow. He placed a small basket on the table with a pencil attached to it. He realized that just one person in the group, with a hand on top of the basket, could make the basket move and write whole sentences. Later he found that the basket was unnecessary and the person could directly hold the pencil and serve as the medium (or intermediary) to intermediate the communications from the intelligent sources he called spirits. He continued conducting these meetings, asking thoughtful questions in order to exploit the scientific, philosophical and religious aspects of this new reality that it was being presented to him by the spirits. In order to rule out the influence of the medium in the communications, Prof. Rivail asked the same questions through several mediums in different meetings. After two years of intensive work, asking questions, compiling and organizing the material based on the agreement and universality of the answers, and adding his commentaries, he published in 1857 The Spirit’s Book under the pseudonym of Allan Kardec. This book is the foundation of what he called Spiritism, which is a science that studies the origin, nature and destiny of spirits as well the relationships that exist between the corporeal and spiritual worlds. Kardec also wrote The Mediums' Book (1861), The Gospel According to Spiritism (1864), Heaven and Hell (1865), and The Genesis (1868). These five books together comprise the codification of Spiritism. These and other publications were written during years of methodic investigation and rigorous analysis of information obtained by many mediums and many spiritist groups in France and other countries in Europe. This exchange of information was made through the monthly journal Spiritist Review, a Journal of Psychological Studies , and the Parisian Society of Psychological Studies, both founded (and directed) by Kardec in 1858.

Kardec was a progressive thinker with a strong sense of social justice, and a passionate educator who viewed education as an important tool to correct social imbalances. He was a self-taught person who was well versed in several subjects and a gifted writer with a deep knowledge of the French language (he also spoke fluent German and English). He was well known and well connected in the intellectual circles of Paris, and even without a university education he was a scholar who helped shaping the French educational system of his time. He firmly believed in the power of love and giving as well as in the power of reason and scientific observation.

Kardec passed away in March of 1869 after devoting the last fourteen years of his life to the research and development of the philosophical, scientific and religious foundations of Spiritism, which brings forth
a renewed vision of our true spiritual nature, our relationship with the Creator, and the strong ties of brotherhood to which we are all connected.

What is Spiritism?

There are many resources on the Internet that discuss and explain the foundations of Spiritism, Spiritist Education and Explore Spiritism being just a few of them. But in a nut shell, its main basic concepts can be summarized as (extracted from the Spirits' Book):

  • God (eternal, immutable, immaterial, unique) created the universe, which comprehends all beings, animate and inanimate, material and immaterial
  • Physical beings constitute the visible or incarnate world; non-physical beings constitute the invisible or spiritual world
  • Spirits temporarily assume a perishable physical body, the death of which restores them to liberty
  • The soul is an incarnate spirit, the body its material envelope
  • Human beings consist of the following : a body, or physical being; a soul, an immaterial spirit incarnated in the body; an intermediate link, called perispirit or spiritual body, which unites the soul and the body
  • Perispirit is a semi-material envelope, as opposed to the fully material envelope of the body. At death, the spirit sheds the body, but preserves the perispirit. The perispirit constitutes, then, an ethereal body that the spirit can render visible, or even tangible, as in the case of spirit sightings
  • Spirits belong to different orders; they are not equal either in power, intelligence, knowledge, or ethical excellence
  • Spirits have many incarnations. From this we can conclude that we have all had many existences, and will have many others on Earth and elsewhere
  • The chain of incarnations is always progressive. The spirit’s speed of progress depends on its efforts, but it cannot regress
  • The soul possesses its individuality before incarnating and will preserve it after the death of the body
  • Spirits constantly interrelate with human beings. Furthermore, they may communicate spontaneously or in response to human evocations
  • The ethical teachings of the higher spirits may be summed up in the words of Christ: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In brief, do good to all and wrong no one
  • Further they teach that there are no unpardonable faults and there is no misdeed that cannot be redressed. Men and women find the means of redemption and progress through reincarnation

Since the departure of Allan Kardec Spiritism has been enhanced by a number of unselfish and altruistic individuals who devote(d) their time and resources to obtain and disseminate new information, be it through their mediumistic faculties, be it as a result of study and research, but all, without exception, putting their hearts and hard work to the service of the highest good, without any monetary compensation. Leon Denis, Cammille Flammarion, Ernesto Bozzano, Bezerra de Menezes, Euripedes Barsanulfo, Chico Xavier and Divaldo Franco are just a few in a long list of men and women who add(ed) many bricks to the edifice of Spiritism and, at the same time, use(d) its structure of love and charity to give solace to so many.

Spiritism is and will continue to be a work in progress. As science unveils new laws of nature, as new social and ethical challenges arise, as new teachings from other schools of thought are revealed, following the virtues of Kardec - open-mindedness, logical thinking, scientific mind, avid desire to learn and impeccable moral standards - Spiritism shall continue its determination to embrace progress and new concepts, adjust outdated ones, always under the scrutiny of reason and science, as long as they are under the governance of the law of love.