The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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The Spirits’ Book among the South American Natives

We know that The Spirits’ Book has sympathetic readers all over the world, but we wouldn’t imagine to find it among the natives of South America, had it not been for a letter that came to our hands from Lima, a few months ago, whose thorough translation seemed to us appro- priate to publish, considering the significant fact contained in that letter and its easily understandable reach. The letter has a comment that spares us from any reflection.

“Your Excellency Mr. Allan Kardec,
Forgive me for not writing in French. I can read but cannot write correctly and intelligently in French.

For more than ten years now I visit, with a certain frequency, the natives that inhabit the eastern side of the Andes, in those American regions of Peru. The Spirits’ Book that I purchased in one of those trips to Lima follows me in my solitude. Do not be surprised when I tell you that I read it with enthusiasm and that I continuously re-read it. Also, I would not bother wasting your time with so little if I did not have certain information that should be of your interest and if I did not wish to receive your advice. I have no doubt that your human feelings are in agree- ment with the sublime principles of your book.

Those native people which we call savages are less ignorant than generally assumed. If one says that they live in huts and not in palaces; that they don’t know our arts and sciences; that they ignore the etiquette of the civilized world, then they will be true savages. However, with respect to their intelligence, we find among them ideas of a remarkable fairness; a great finesse of ob- servation, as well as noble and elevated feelings. They understand things with a marvelous ability and have an incomparably less slothful spirit as the peasants of Europe. They despise whatever seems useless to them, with respect to the simplicity, which is suf- ficient to their life style. The tradition of independence is always alive among them, explaining their insurmountable aversion to- wards their conquerors. However, whilst showing hatred towards the race in general, they get attached to the individuals who in- spire in them an absolute trust. It is to that trust that I owe the blessings of sharing their intimacy. When I am among them I feel safer than in some large cities. When I leave them they become sad and make me promise that I will return. When I return it is party time all over the tribe.

Such explanations were necessary for the following reason:

I told you that I had The Spirits’ Book in hands. One day I had this idea of translating to them a few passages, which very surprisingly to me they understood better than I supposed, given their very judicious observations.

Here is an example.

The idea of reincarnating on Earth seems absolutely natural to them. One day, one of them asked me: “When we die, can we be reborn among the white people?”
- Certainly, I said.

- Then you may well be one of our relatives?

- It is possible.

- That is certainly why you are good to us and we love you.

- It is also possible.

- Then, when we meet a white man we should not do any harm to him since he could be one of our brothers.

You will for sure be impressed, as I am, by such a conclusion from a native and the feeling of fraternity that grew in him. As a matter of fact the idea of spirits is not new among them. It is pres- ent in their beliefs and they are convinced that it is possible to talk to their deceased relatives who come to visit them. The important thing is to take advantage of that and to try and moralize them. I do not think it would be impossible since they still do not have the vices of our civilization.

That is why I need your advices and your experience. As I see it, there is no reason to suppose that we can only influence the ig- norant by talking to their senses. I do think, on the contrary, that it would only be a way of keeping them with those narrow ideas, developing in them the tendency towards superstition. I believe that reason, when we learn to position ourselves on the level of the intelligences which will always have a more lasting influence.

I wait for your response, with most cordial...etc.


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