Q. What is truth?
A. Idea identical with being.
Q. What is reality?
A. Knowledge identical with being.
Q. What is reason?
A. The Word identical with being.
Q. What is justice?
A. The motive of acts identical with being.
Q. What is the absolute?
Q. Can one conceive anything superior to being?
A. No; but one conceives in being itself something super eminent and transcendental.
Q. What is that?
A. The supreme reason of being.
Q. Do you know it, and can you define it?
A, Faith alone affirms it, and names it God.
Q. Is there anything above truth?
A. Above known truth, there is unknown truth.
Q. How can one construct reasonable hypotheses with regard to this truth?
A. By analogy and proportion.
Q. How can one define it?
A. By the symbols of faith.
Q. Can one say of reality the same thing as of truth?
A. Exactly the same thing.
Q. Is there anything above reason?
A. Above finite reason, there is infinite reason.
Q. What is infinite reason?
A. It is that supreme reason of being that faith calls God.
Q. Is there anything above justice?
A. Yes; according to faith, there is the Providence of God, and the sacrifice of man.
Q. What is this sacrifice?
A. It is the willing and spontaneous surrender of right.
Q. Is this sacrifice reasonable?
A. No; it is a kind of folly greater than reason, for reason is forced to admire it.
Q. How does one call a man who acts according to truth, reality, reason and justice?
A. A moral man.
Q. And if he sacrifices his interests to justice?
A. A man of honor.
Q. And if in order to imitate die grandeur and goodness of Providence he does more than his duty, and sacrifices his right to the good of others?
A. A hero.
Q. What is the principle of true heroism?
Q. What is its support?
Q. And its rule?
Q. What is the Good?
Q. What is the Evil?
Q. What is permissible pleasure?
A. Enjoyment of order.
Q. What is forbidden pleasure?
A. Enjoyment of disorder.
Q. What are the consequences of each?
A. Moral life and moral death.
Q. Has then hell, with all its horrors, its justification in religious
A. Yes; it is a rigorous consequence of a principle.
Q. What is this principle?
A. Liberty. Q. What is liberty?
A. The right to do one’s duty, with the possibility of not doing it. Q. What is failing in one’s duty?
A. It involves the loss of one’s right. Now, right being eternal, to lose it is to suffer an eternal loss..
Q. Can one repair a fault?
A. Yes; by expiation.
Q. What is expiation?
A. Working overtime. Thus, because I was lazy yesterday, I had to do a double task today.
Q. What are we to think of those who impose on themselves voluntary sufferings?
A. If they do so in order to overcome the brutal fascination of pleasure, they are wise; if to suffer instead of others, they are generous; but if they do it without discretion and without measure, they are imprudent.
Q. Thus, in the eyes of true philosophy, religion is wise in all that it ordains?
A. You see that it is so.
Q. But if, after all, we were deceived in our eternal hopes?
A. Faith does not admit that doubt. But philosophy herself should reply that all the pleasures of the earth are not worth one day of wisdom, and that all the triumphs of ambition are not worth a single minute of heroism and of Charity.
Q. What is man?
A. Man is an intelligent and corporeal being made in the image of God and of the world, one in essence, triple in substance, mortal and immortal.
Q. You say, ‘triple in substance’. Has man, then, two souls or two bodies?
A. No; there is in him a spiritual soul, a material body, and a plastic medium.
Q. What is the substance of this medium?
A. Light> partially volatile, and partially fixed.
Q. What is the volatile part of this light ?
A. Magnetic fluid.
Q. And the fixed part?
A. The fluidic or fragrant body.
Q. Is die existence of this body demonstrated?
A. Yes; by the most curious and the most conclusive experiences. We shall speak of them in the third part of this work.
Q. Are these experiences articles of faith?
A. No, they pertain to science.
Q. But will science preoccupy herself with it?
A. She already preoccupies herself with it. We have written this book, and you are reading it.
Q. Give us some notions of this plastic medium.
A. It is formed of astral or terrestrial light, and transmits the double magnetization of it to the human body. The soul, by acting on this light through its volitions, can dissolve it or coagulate it, project it or withdraw it. It is die mirror of die imagination and of dreams. It reacts upon the nervous system, and thus produces the movements of the body. This light can dilate itself indefinitely, and communicate its reflections at considerable distances; it magnetizes the bodies submitted to the action of man, and can, by concentrating itself, again draw them to him. It can take all the forms evoked by thought, and, in the transitory coagulations of its radiant particles, appear to the eyes; it can even offer a sort of resistance to die touch. But these manifestations and uses of the plastic medium being abnormal, die luminous instrument of precision cannot produce them without being strained, and there is danger of either habitual hallucination, or of insanity.
Q. What is animal magnetism?
A. The action of one plastic medium upon another, in order to dissolve or coagulate it. By augmenting the elasticity of the vital light and its force of projection, one sends it forth as far as one will, and withdraws it completely loaded with images; but this operation must be favored by the slumber of the subject, which one produces by coagulating still further the fixed part of his medium.
Q. Is magnetism contrary to morality and religion?
A. Yes, when one abuses it.
Q. In what does the abuse of it consist?
A. In employing it in a disordered manner, or for a disordered object.
Q. What is a disordered magnetism?
A. An unwholesome fluidic emission, made with a bad intention; for example, to know the secrets of others, or to arrive at unworthy ends.
Q. What is the result of it?
A. It puts out of order the fluidic instrument of precision, both in the case of the magnetizer and of the magnetized. To this cause one must attribute the immoralities and die follies with which a great number of those who occupy themselves with magnetism are reproached.
Q. What conditions are required in order to magnetize properly?
A. Health of spirit and body; right intention, and discreet practice.
Q. What advantageous results can one obtain by discreet magnetism?
A. The cure of nervous diseases, the analysis of presentiments, die re-establishment of fluidic harmonies, and the rediscovery of certain secrets of Nature.
Q. Explain that to us in a more complete manner.
A. We shall do so in the third part of this work, which will treat specially of the mysteries of Nature.
we have spoken of a substance extended in the infinite.
That substance is one which is Heaven and earth; that is to say, according to its degrees of polarization, subtle or fixed.
This substance is what Hermes Trismegistus calls the great Telesma. When it produces splendor, it is called Light.
It is this substance which God creates before everything else, when He says, ‘Let there be light.’
It is at once substance and movement.
It is fluid, and a perpetual vibration.
Its inherent force which sets it in motion is called magnetism.
In the infinite, this unique substance is the ether, or the etheric light.
In the stars which it magnetizes, it becomes astral light.
In organized beings, light, or magnetic fluid.
In man it forms the astral body, or the plastic medium.
The will of intelligent beings acts directly on this light, and by means of it on all that part of Nature which is submitted to the modifications of intelligence.
This light is the common mirror of all thoughts and all forms; it preserves the images of everything that has been, the reflections of past worlds, and, by analogy, the sketches of worlds to come. It is the instrument of thaumaturgy and divination, as remains for us to explain in the third and last part of this work.
EXTRACT FROM ELIPHAS LEVI’S BOOK
“THE KEY OF THE MYSTERIES”