Answers given by Pliny to questions addressed to him at the Society, on January 28th, 1859
- Speak that I will respond.
2. Although you have been dead for about 1743 years, do you still keep memories of your life in Rome during Trajan’s time?
- Why then we, the spirits, would not remember? You have memories of several years of your infancy. What is a previous existence to the spirit other than the infancy of existences, which we have to go through before reaching the end of the trials? Every worldly existence or existence wrapped by the material veil, is a step to- wards the ether, and at the same time a material and spiritual infancy: spiritual because the spirit is still in the beginning of the trials; material because the spirit has just got to the more dense phases, through which they must learn and depurate.
3. Could you tell us what you have been doing since that time?
- It would take long to tell you what I have done. I tried to be good. No doubt you wouldn’t like to spend hours and hours until I told you everything. Then be satisfied with an answer. I repeat: I tried to do the good deeds, learn and lead the Earthly beings to approach the Creator of all things, the One who gives us the spiritual as well as the material bread.
4. In which world do you live now?
- Never mind. I spend some time everywhere. Space is my do- main and of many others too. These are questions that a wise spirit, enlightened by the saint and Divine ray, should not respond, unless on very rare occasions.
5. In a letter that you wrote to Sura you reported three cases of ap- paritions. Do you remember them?
- I confirm them because they were true. You daily have similar facts to which you don’t pay attention. Those are very simple, but at that time, they were considered remarkable. This should not surprise you. Leave these things behind since you have others much more extraordinary.
6. However, we would like to ask you a few questions with regard to this.
- I will give you generic answers and that will be enough for you. Nonetheless, ask if you will. I will give you terse answers.
7. In the first case a lady appears to Curtius Rufus, and tells him that she is Africa. But who was that lady?
- A great figure. It seems to me that she is too simple to the enlightened people of the XIX century.
8. What was the reason behind the appearance of Athenodorus’ spirit, and why those shackles’ noises?
- Symbol of slavery; manifestation; means of convincing people and to draw their attention, making them talk about it and demonstrate the existence of the spiritual world.
9. You defended the cause of the persecuted Christians before Trajan. Were you driven by a simple duty of humanity or by conviction, regarding the truthfulness of that Doctrine?
- Both but humanity came second.
10.. What do you think about your panegyric of Trajan?
- It should be redone.
11. You wrote about the history of your time, writings which have been lost. Could you repair that loss by dictating it to us?
- The spiritual world does not manifest for these things in particular. You have these forms of manifestations but they have their objectives. There are multiple guidelines, laid down on the left and on the right hand side of the great path of truth. But leave it behind; do not dedicate your time or studies to that. It is up to us to see and judge what is important to you to learn. There is a time for everything. Thus, do not move away from the guidelines that we have delineated to you.
12. We are pleased to be worthy of your elevation and above all, your altruism. They say that you charged nothing to the clients who were defended by you. Was such altruism as rare in Rome as it is among us?
- Don’t praise my past qualities. I give no importance to them. The altruism is almost non-existent in your century. In every two hundred people you will find only one or two true al- truist. You know very well that this is the century of money and selfishness. Presently, people are made of mud, coated by metal. Formerly, there was feeling, the stuff of antiquity; today, there is only the social position.
13. Although not defending our century, it does seem that it is more valuable than yours, when corruption was in its apex and accusa- tions had no sacred grounds.
- I give you an accurate depiction. I know that there wasn’t much altruism over that time; however there was something that you don’t have or have in small dose – the love of beauty, of noble, of greatness. I speak about everybody. Today’s in- dividual, particularly those of the west, and even more par- ticularly the French, have their hearts ready to achieve great things but that is only a transient spark. Soon there comes reflection and reflection leads to second thoughts, saying: the positive, the positive before anything else. Then selfishness and money take the lead again. We manifest ourselves exactly because you have moved away from the principles given by Jesus. So long. You will not understand.
OBSERVATION: We understand very well that our cen- tury falls short of what is expected. Its ulcer is selfishness and selfishness engenders greed and the mindless search for opulence. From that point of view we are far from the altru- ism that the Roman people gave us so many sublime examples, during a certain period, but which was not that of Pliny. However, it would be unfair not to recognize its superiority in more than one point, even over the most beautiful times of Rome that also had its time of barbarism. Then, there was ferocity even in greatness and altruism, while our century is going to be marked by the soothing of the traditions and by the feelings of justice and humanity, which presides over all institutions since birth and even over the disputes among nations.