On 18 April 1857, Rivail (as Allan Kardec) published his first book on Spiritism, Le Livre des Esprits (The Spirits’ Book), comprising a series of answered questions (502 in the first edition and 1,019 in later editions exploring matters concerning the nature of spirits, the spirit world, and the relationship between the spirit world and the material world.
Extract from The Spirit Book
“God imposes incarnation for the purpose of leading spirits to perfection: for some, it is an expiation; for others, a mission. However, in order to reach this perfection, they must undergo all the vicissitudes of corporeal existence –therein lies their expiation. Incarnation has a further objective, which is to place spirits in situations where they can do their share in the work of creation. On each world, they clothe themselves with an instrument that is in harmony with the essential matter of that world so that they may use that instrument to carry out the orders of God. In this way, they contribute to the general work and progress at the same time.”
The action of corporeal beings is necessary for the evolution of the universe, but out of divine wisdom God has willed that in this same action they might have a means of progressing and drawing near to God. Thus, through an admirable law of divine providence, everything is connected and everything in nature is in solidarity.
Is incarnation necessary for spirits who have followed the path of the good from the beginning?
“All are created simple and ignorant, gaining instruction through the struggles and tribulations of corporeal life. Since God is just, God would not make some blissful without their having deserved it through hardship and work.”
But then what benefit is there for spirits to follow the path of the good if it does not exempt them from the hardships of corporeal life?
“They reach the goal more quickly. Moreover, the hardships of life are often consequences of a spirit’s imperfections; the more purified it becomes, the fewer torments it will have to suffer.”