Kardec, Model of Devotedness and Abnegation


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Allan Kardec and his wife Amélie Gabrielle Boudet

Allan Kardec and his wife Amélie Gabrielle Boudet

 “Devotedness and abnegation are both a continuous prayer ending with a profound teaching.  Human wisdom resides in these two words.”[1]

Kardec was one of the most solid models of devotedness and abnegation.  Those that attentively read his published works in the Spiritist Magazine were able to glean some of the aspects of his character, of his virtues which, despite his modesty and discretion, are underscored here and there.

With the intent to highlight the qualities of this noble Spirit, to whom we owe the legacy of the spiritist science, we sought out some of his works that give evidence to his good sense and virtues.

It is known how much the Master endured mockery, slander, defamation and derision in part by those that did not understand the noble mission that this generous soul accepted to carry out on Earth, for love of mankind.

The manner in which he lived, how he faced the most difficult situations, the most furious adversaries, are evident in his works, in his own words, and serve as a lesson to those that seek to conquer virtues and wish to learn with the practical examples of this notable Spirit, who was known on the Earth as Allan Kardec.

In stumbling upon fame, he had to renounce his taste for quietude…

In the property which I possess and that remains as the rest of that which bad-faith was unable to take away, we could live in tranquility and far from the confusion of the affairs of others.  In removing me from obscurity, Spiritism came to push me into a new direction; in a small amount of time I saw myself dragged by a force that I was far from predicting.  When I conceived the idea of The Spirits’ Book, my intention was to not expose myself and to remain incognito; but, having been promptly surpassed, this was not possible for me: I had to renounce my taste for solitude, at the risk of abdicating the work undertaken that grew from day to day.  It was necessary for me to follow its impulse and rein it in.  If my name now has some popularity, it was certainly not me that sought it, as it is evident that I do not owe it to propaganda, nor to the camaraderie of the press, and that I have never taken advantage of my position and my relations to launch myself in society, when this would have been easy.[2]

Courage, firmness, humility and sacrifice…

“But, as the work grew, a broader horizon unfurled itself in front of me, whose limits receded.  I understood then the immensity of my task and the importance of the work which was left for me to do in order to complete it.  Far from being frightened, the difficulties and the obstacles doubled my efforts; I saw the objective and decided to reach it, with the assistance of the good Spirits.  I felt that I had no time to lose and did not waste it in pointless visits nor in idle ceremonies.  It was my life’s work.  I dedicated all of my time to it; I sacrificed my rest and my health for it, because the future was written in irrefutable characters before me.  I did it by my own impulse, and my wife, who is neither more ambitious nor more calculating than I, completely agreed with my points of view and helped me in the laborious task, as she still does, by a task at times beyond her strengths, sacrificing without a thought the pleasures and distractions of the world, to which she was accustomed given her family’s position.”[3]

Privations of material interests and expediency in the propagation of the Doctrine

“Without distancing ourselves from our lifestyle, this exceptional position was still enough to generate necessities which I was unable to provide with just my own resources.  It would be difficult to imagine the amount of expenses that it brings about, and what I would have avoided without it.  The need to live in two residences is, as it has already been said, an increase in expenses, by the obligation to have double the furniture, without counting the portion of small expenses demanded by this dual habitation and the losses that result from the negligence of my material interests, relegated by a series of works that absorb me all the time.  It is not a complaint which I am formulating, for my current occupations are voluntary; it is a fact that I am noting, in response to those that say that everything is profit for me in Spiritism.  In regard to the special costs occasioned by my position, it would be impossible to list them, but, if I were to consider that I have more than eight hundred franks in postage expenses annually, independent of trips, and that I have the need to connect with someone to help me, and other small indispensable expenses, you will understand that I am not exaggerating when I say that my annual expenses, which have been incessantly increasing, are today more than tripled.  One could make an approximation, to how much this excess can increase in eight years, taking an average of 6,000 francs per year.  Well, no one will contest the utility of these costs towards the success of the doctrine, which would have evidently weakened had I remained in my retreat, without seeing anyone and without the numerous relations that I maintain daily.  However, it is what I would have been forced to do, if nothing had to come to my aid.

Very well, gentlemen, what afforded me this supplement of resources was the product of my works.  I am happy to say that it was with my own work, with the fruit of my sleeplessness that I provided, at least in greater part, the material necessities for the initial setup of the doctrine.  Thereby, I brought a large share to the Spiritism fund.  God wanted it to find within itself its first means of action.  In the beginning I would lament that my small fortune would not allow me to do what I wanted for the good cause, but today I see the finger of Providence and the realization of this prediction so often repeated by the good Spirits: “Do not fret about anything.  God knows what it is you need and will know how to provide for you.”

Had I employed the product of my works to the increase of my material pleasures, this would have resulted in a loss to the detriment of Spiritism, however, no one would have had the right to object, because I had the right to do as I pleased with that which I only owed to myself; but, because I deprived myself before, I could deprive myself afterwards; I think that by investing it in the work, no one will think it to be badly employed money and the ones that help in the propagation of the works will not be able to say that they work in order to enrich me.[4]

Confronting slander and defamation…

“They often spoke of the profits which I obtained with my works; no serious observer truly believes in my millions, a negative affirmation of those that claimed to know from a good source that I had a princely lifestyle, four-in-hand carriages and that in my house one would only step on Aubusson rugs. (June 1862 Magazine)  In spite of what I had said, furthermore, the author of a brochure that I know of, and that proves, through hyperbolic calculations, that the estimate of my income surpassed the civil list of the most powerful sovereign in Europe, because, only in France, twenty million spiritist are my contributors (July 1863 Magazine), there is one fact more authentic than his calculations.  It is that I have never asked for anything to anyone, and no one has ever given me anything, to me personally; in a word, I don’t live at the cost of anyone, whereas the sums that were voluntarily trusted to me in the interest of Spiritism, not one parcel was diverted to my advantage.

My immense riches would, thereby, proceed from my spiritist works.  Even though these works had earned an unexpected success, it is enough to have a small understanding of the book business to know that it is not with philosophical books that in five or six years, millions will be accumulated, when one has authorship rights under each sale of only a few cents.  But, more or less, being that this product is the fruit of my labor, no one has the right to meddle in how I put it to use, even if it was raised to millions, considering that the sale of the books, like the subscription of the Magazine, is optional and not imposed under any circumstance, not even to assist the meetings of the Society, no one has anything to do with this.  Commercially speaking, I am in the position of every man that collects the fruit of his labor; I run the risk of every writer, which may be victorious just as much as he may be a failure.”

“We have had to live very modestly most of the time, this is correct, but what would have been little for certain people, was enough for us, thanks to our tastes and our habits of order and economy.  Our small income was collected from the product of the works which I had published before Spiritism, and of a modest job that I had to leave when the works of the Doctrine absorbed my entire time.”

“Since, from this perspective, I do not have anything to account for, I believe it useful, through the very cause to which I devoted myself, to give some explanations.”

“For starters, I will say that being that my works are not my exclusive property, I am obligated to buy them from my editor and pay for them as a bookseller, with the exception of the Magazine; that the profit finds itself singularly reduced by the works that are not sold and by the gratuitous distributions, made in the interest of the Doctrine, to the people that without this would be deprived of them.  A much more simplistic calculation proves that the price of ten lost or donated volumes, for which I am still obligated to pay, is enough to absorb the profit of one hundred volumes.  This being claimed by way of information and in parentheses.  After having everything accounted for and having produced the balance, something still remains however.  Imagine whatever figure you wish.  What do I do with it?  This is what most worries certain creatures.”

A simple lifestyle…

“Whoever saw us in private in former times and sees us today, can attest that our lifestyle has not changed since I began to devote my time to Spiritism.  It is now just as simple as it was then.  So it is certain that my profits, as large as they may be, do not sever to provide us with the pleasure of luxury.  Could it be that I had the habit of hoarding in order to have the pleasure to contemplate my fortune?  I do not think that my character and my habits have ever been able cause this assumption.  Why are things like this?  Considering that I take no advantage from this, the more fabulous the sum, the more embarrassing is the response.  One day the exact figure will be known, as well as its detailed employment, and the creators of history will be able to economize the imagination.”[5]

A legacy of detachment and abnegation…

Allan Kardec
Allan Kardec

“Personally, and even though being an active part of the committee, we do not venture to overload the budget, not through fees, or through reimbursement of trips, or any one cause.  If we have never asked for anything for ourselves, we would do so even less in this circumstance; our time, our life, all of our physical and intellectual strengths belong to the Doctrine.  We thereby formally declare, that no part of the resources to which the committee has access will be diverted to our own enjoyment or advantage.

On the contrary, we bring our share to it:

1st – Through the surrender of the profit of our works, completed and still being worked on;

2nd – Through the addition of real estate and furniture values.

As such, we invest in the realization of our plan in the interest of the Doctrine, and not to create for us a position, one which we do not need.  It was in preparing the paths of this initial setup that until today we consecrated the product of our works, as aforementioned.  If our personal means do not permit us to do more, at the very least we will have the satisfaction of seeing in it the laying of the first stone.”[6]

Recognition, gratitude and modesty…

“Ladies, gentlemen, and all of you, my dear and good brothers in Spiritism.

The benevolent reception which I receive among you, since my arrival, would be enough to fill me with pride, if I did not comprehend that such testimonies are geared less to the person than to the Doctrine, from which I am no more than one of its humble workers.  It is the consecration of a principle and I am doubly happy, because this principle must one day guarantee the happiness of man and the repose of Society, when well understood, and even better when practiced.  Its adversaries only combat it because they do not understand it.  It is up to us; up to the true spiritists, those that see in Spiritism something more than more or less curious experiences, to make it understood and to propagate it, preaching through example as much as through the word.  The Spirits’ Book had as a result demonstrated its philosophical reach.  If this mood has any merit, it would then be my presumption to pride myself in this, because the doctrine that it concludes is not a creation of mine.  All of the honor for the good that it generated goes to the wise Spirits that dictated it and that wanted to make themselves available to me.  Therefore, I am able to listen to the compliment without having my modesty harmed, and without exalting my self-esteem because of it.  If I wished to prevail myself of this, I would have certainly reclaimed its conception, instead of attributing it to the Spirits; and if able to doubt the superiority of those that cooperated, it would be enough to consider the influence that he exercised in such a small amount of time only through the power of logic, and without any of his own material means to overexcite the curiosity.

Be that as it may, gentlemen, the cordiality of your reception will be for me a powerful encouragement in the laborious task that I endeavored and of which I made the purpose of my life, because it gives me the consoling certainty that men of heart are no longer as rare in this materialistic century, as many like to proclaim.  The feelings that cause these benevolent testimonies to arise within me are better understood than expressed; which gives them, in my eyes, an inestimable value, and that have as their motive any personal consideration.  I will thank you from the bottom of my heart, in the name of Spiritism, above all in the name of the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, which will itself feel the happiness from the demonstrations of sympathy that it was kind enough to give you, and proud to count on Lyon for such a large number of good and faithful brethren.  Permit me to retrace, in some words, the impressions that I take with me from my brief passage among you.”[7]

Prudence, indulgence and firmness of purposes…

“If my principles are false, why are others not presented that would substitute them, causing them to prevail?  It appears, however, that they are generally not judged irrational, since it has encountered adherents in such large numbers.  But, is this not precisely what excites the ill-humor of certain people? If these principles had not found partisans, if they were ridiculous, they would certainly not be spoken about from the very first enunciation.

Concerning the others, the ones that pretend that I do not advance fast enough, these wish to push me, – with good intention, I would like to believe, for it is always better to presuppose the best than the worst, in a path which I do not want to risk myself.  Without letting myself be influenced be it by the ideas of some, or of others, I follow the route which I myself traced: I have an objective, I see it, I know how and when I will reach it and the clamor of those that pass by me do not disturb me.

Believe me gentlemen, there are plenty of rocks on my path.  I walk over them, even the highest and heaviest ones.  If the true cause of certain antipathies and certain dismissals was known, many surprises would await us!”[8]

Faith in the future life, respect, humility before flattery and other jealous traps

It is still needed, therefore, to mention the people who are put, relative to me, in false positions, ridiculous and compromising, and that seek to justify themselves, in the last instance, appealing to small slanders: the ones that hoped to seduce me through praise, believing to be able to lead me to serve their designs and that recognized the uselessness of their maneuvers in order to attract my attention; those that I did not praise nor adulated and that is what they expected from me; those, at last, that did not forgive me for having guessed their intentions and that are always like the serpent on which one steps.  If all of these people decided to place themselves, for one small instant, in an extraterrestrial position and see things from a little higher perspective, would understand very well the puerility which worries them and they would not be shocked with the little importance that all of this gives to the true spiritists.  It is that Spiritism opens up horizons so vast that the corporeal life, short and ephemeral, erases itself with all its vanities and its small intrigues, before the infinite spiritual life.

Therefore, I should not omit a censure that was addressed to me:  of having done nothing to bring back to me once more those that distanced themselves.  This is true and the founded disapproval; I deserve it, for I have never given a single step in this sense and here are the motives of my indifference.  Those that approach me, do that because it is convenient to them; it is less because of my person than by the sympathy that is awakened by the principles which I profess.  The ones who distance themselves do that because it is not convenient to them or because our way of seeing things reciprocally are not in agreement.  Why then, would I go find them, to impose myself upon them?  It seems to me to be more convenient to leave them at peace.  Moreover, honestly, I lack the time for this.  It is known that my occupations do not allow for one instant of rest.  Furthermore, for one that departs, there are one thousand that arrive.  I judge it a duty to dedicate myself, above all, to these and that is what I do.  Pride?  Disdain for others?  Oh! No! Honestly, not!  I do not disdain anyone; I lament for those that act badly, I plead to God and to the Good Spirits to allow better sentiments to be born within them; and that is all.  If they return, they are always received with much jubilation.  But to run after their footprints, this is not possible for me to do, even given the time with which the people of good-will demand of me, and, then, because I do not give to certain individuals the importance to which they attribute themselves.  To me, a man is a man, just that!  I measure his value by his acts, his sentiments, and never by his social position.  May he belong to the highest order of society, if he acts badly, if he is selfish and negligent of his dignity, he is, in my eyes, inferior to the laborer who proceeds correctly, and I will shake more cordially the hand of a humble man, whose heart I am able to hear, than the one of a potentate whose chest lays silencet.  The first warms me, the second freezes me.

Men of the highest position honor me with their visit, but never, because of them, has a laborer remained in the waiting room.  Many times, in my hall, the prince will sit himself next to the laborer; if he feels humiliated, I will say that he is not worthy of being a spiritist.  But I feel happy in saying that, I have seen them, many times, shake each other’s hands, fraternally, and, then, a thought occurred to me:  “Spiritism, here is one of your miracles; this is the sign of many other prodigies!”[9]

Tolerance, moderation, kindness, benevolence, simplicity, dedication and tenderness…

“It would be dependent upon me to open the doors to the highest levels of society, but I have never gone to knock on them.  This would demand time which I prefer to employ more usefully.  I place in first instance the consolation that is necessary to offer those that suffer, lift the courage of the fallen, and tear a man away from his passions, of despair, of suicide, perhaps to detain it at the threshold of the crime!  Is this not worth more than the golden dados?  I keep thousands of letters that are to me worth more than all the honors of Earth which I look at as true titles of nobility.  But then, I did not drive you out if I allow those that turn their backs to me to depart.

I know I have adversaries!  But their number is not as great as the supposed enumeration mentioned could make.  They find themselves in the groups which I cited, but there are only isolated individuals and their number is small in comparison with those that themselves wish to testify their sympathy to me.  Furthermore, they have never been able to disturb my rest, not even once has their machinations and their diatribes stirred my emotions and I ought to add that this profound indifference from my part, the silence with which I oppose their attacks, is not what least exasperates them.  As much as they try, they will never be able to cause me to stray from moderation and of the rule which I maintain as conduct.  It will never be claimed that I responded to injury with injury.  The people who know me privately can say if I have ever mentioned them; if at any time, in Society, one sole word was uttered, if any one allusion was made in comparison to any one of them.  Even through the “Magazine” I have never responded to their aggressions, if aimed at my person, and God knows that there have been plenty!

Moreover, of what use is, their animosity?  Of nothing!  Not against the doctrine or against me.  The spiritist doctrine proves, by its progressive march, that it has nothing to fear.  Concerning me, I do not occupy any position, because of this nothing exists which can be taken away from me; I do not ask for anything, I do not solicit anything and, so, nothing can be denied to me.  I do not owe anything to anyone, in this way there is nothing that can be demanded of me; I do not speak ill of anyone, not even of those that do so of me.  In what, then, could they harm me?  Surely whatever I did not say could be attributed to me and this has already been done more than once.  But, those that know me are capable of distinguishing what I say from that which I am incapable of saying and I thank the many, in similar circumstances, that knew how to answer for me.  What I affirm, I am always ready to repeat in the presence of whoever it may be, and when I affirm that I did not say or did not do anything, I believe to be in the right to be trusted.

Moreover, what does this represent in the face of the objective that we, the sincere and devoted Spiritists, pursue together?  Of this immense future that unfurls itself before our eyes?  Believe me, gentlemen, it was necessary to see how a theft perpetrated against the great work, the instants which we would lose preoccupied with these pettinesses.  From my side I thank God for having, here on Earth, conceded so many moral compensations for the price of such passing tribulations, and also for the happiness to watch the triumph of the spiritist doctrine.

I ask for your forgiveness, gentlemen, for you to be, for such a long time, busy with subjects relative to me, but I believe it useful to clearly establish this position, in order that it be possible for you to know in whom to believe, of conformity with circumstances and so that you may be convinced that my line of conduct is traced and that nothing will cause me to deviate from it.  As for the rest, I believe that from these observations, – the abstraction made of my person – will result in some useful teachings.”[10]

“…He died this morning, between 11 and 12 o’clock, suddenly, in delivering an edition of the Revue (Magazine) to a library cashier that had just bought it; he curved over himself, without professing a single word: he was dead…Paris, March 31st, 1869.”11]


 [1] The Gopspel according to Spiritism, chapter VI – Christ the counselor – The promised counselor, item 4.

 [2] Spiritist Magazine, December, 1868 – The transitory Constitution of Spiritism

 [3] Spiritist Magazine, June, 1865 – Account of the cashier of Spiritism

 [4] Idem

 [5] Spiritist Magazine, December, 1868 – The transitory Constitution of Spiritism

 [6] Idem

 [7] Spiritist Magazine, October, 1860 – Banquet offered by the Spiritists of Lyon to Mr. Allan Kardec.

 [8] Spiritist Voyage in 1862 – Discourses pronounced during the general meetings of the Spiritists of Lyon and Bordeauz – Discourse I

 [9] Idem

 [10] Spiritist Voyage in 1862 – Discourses pronounced during the general meetings of the Spiritists of Lyon and Bordeauz – Discourse I

 [11] Rational Catalogue, Works that may serve to establish a spiritist library – Ed. Masdras, 2004.

Source: IPEAK.com.br – Instituto de Pesquisas Espíritas Allan Kardec