The Spirit's Book, Allan Kardec
134. What is the soul?
“An incarnated spirit.”
“An incarnated spirit.”
a) What was the soul before being united with a body?
b) Are souls and spirits one and the same thing?
“Yes, souls are spirits. Before joining a body, the soul is one of the intelligent beings living in the invisible world. It assumes a physical body temporarily to complete its purifcation and enlightenment.”
135. Is a person made up of anything other than a soul and a body?
“The link that unites the soul and the body.”
a) What is the nature of this link?
“It is semi-material, it is the intermediary between the soul and the body. This is required for communication between the soul and the body. The spirit can act upon matter and vice versa through this link.”
Therefore, human beings are made up of three essential elements:
1) The body, or material being, similar to animals, and given life by the same vital principle;
2) The soul, or incarnated spirit, which is housed in the body;
3) The intermediary principle, or perispirit, which is a semi-material substance. It is the innermost envelope of the spirit and unites the soul with the body. This three-part nature is equivalent to that of a fruit, which includes the seed, the perisperm, and the rind or shell.
136. Is the soul independent of the vital principle?
“The body is merely the envelope, as we have repeated multiple times.”
a) Can a body exist without a soul?
“Yes, however, when the body dies that the soul leaves it. The union between the soul and the body is not complete before birth, but once this union is established, only physical death can break the bond uniting the body to the soul. Organic life may exist in a body without a soul, but the soul cannot live in a body deprived of organic life.”
b) What would our body be if it had no soul?
“A mass of flesh without intelligence, anything you would like to call it, except a human being.”
137. Can the same spirit incarnate two different bodies at the same time?
“No, the spirit cannot be divided and cannot live in two different bodies at the same time.” (See The Mediums’ Book, chapter on Bi-corporeality and Transfiguration.)
138. What should we think about some people’s opinion that the soul is the principle of material life?
“This is a matter of words, to which we impart very little importance. Before anything else, you should come to an agreement among yourselves.”
139. Some spirits, and some philosophers before them, have defined the soul as “an animated spark emanating from the Great Whole.” What is the cause of this contradiction?
“There is no contradiction. It depends on the meaning you attribute to certain words. Why does your language not have a word for each thing?”
The word soul is often used to express very different things. Sometimes it is used to refer to the principle of life and in this sense it is correct to figuratively state that the soul is an animated spark emanating from the Great Whole. These words describe the universal source of the vital principle, of which each being absorbs a portion, and that returns to the general mass after death. This idea does not in any way exclude that of a separate moral being, independent of matter, maintaining its own individuality. This being is also called the soul, and it is in this sense that we speak of the soul as an incarnate spirit. In having different definitions for the word soul, spirits each use their own version according to their personal perspectives and the earthly ideas that they still support. This is just one example of the inadequacy of the human language, which does not have a unique word for each idea, a shortcoming that causes a vast number of misunderstandings and disputes. It is for this reason that the higher spirits tell us to first come to a mutual understanding in terms of our definitions.