Friday, January 21, 2011
The starry heavens above me, the moral law within me
The last lecture given in Neuchatel in the year 1912 was to have been supplemented by that given the following day in St. Gallen, a full report of which is, unfortunately, not available. All that exists is in the form of notes and headings, so scattered and sparse that one is almost afraid to reproduce them. Yet their importance for the explanation of how the karma of man plays between his microcosmic and macrocosmic being is such that they are made accessible in order that the discerning reader may lose nothing.
Rudolf Steiner, St. Gallen, December 19, 1912:
Theosophy teaches us that the processes in operation between death and a new birth are connected with the conditions prevailing in the cosmos. A very significant difference has here to be considered. Changes may take place within us during physical existence, but not, in the same sense, during the period between death and a new birth. Suppose, for example, between birth and death we have been related in some way to a human being, or have shared experiences with a friend. And now, after his death, we have learnt from him something that was not a common experience between us on the Earth. How is a relationship established after death? How can our feelings toward him give expression to sympathy or antipathy? When we ourselves have passed through the gate of death and are followed, later on, by someone with whom we had a certain relationship in physical life, this must necessarily remain unchanged for a long time after death; for after death we cannot add anything new to the old relationship. After passing into the spiritual world we are still subject to our own, individual karma. The time when this karma can be transformed comes only in a new life and can only be adjusted or fully discharged in a new incarnation. An individual among the dead cannot, in spiritual existence, work upon the other dead in such a way as to change their life. But it is possible for a man still living on the Earth to have an effect upon one who has passed through death. Take the following case as an example. — Two human beings who love one another have different attitudes to Theosophy: one of them loves and the other hates it; hence there is a spirit of opposition between them.
If the human being is able to speak of the freedom of his will, this is because the “I”-consciousness takes far deeper paths than does the astral consciousness; in the depths of soul, therefore, a man often yearns for what, in his conscious life, he hates. How can we be of help to one of the dead? We must be united with him by a spiritual bond. We can help, for example, by quietly reading to him; uniting ourselves with him inwardly and lovingly, we can take him with us through a sequence of thoughts, we can send ideas and imaginations up to him in the higher worlds. Such services of friendship are always helpful. Reading in this way is of benefit, although in earthly life the man may have been too indifferent, too easy-going; we can lighten his sufferings even when there was no evidence in his life that he longed for these things. Much blessing is often sent from the physical plane into the spiritual worlds, in spite of the great gulf which separates the life between birth and death from the life between death and a new birth. Many living people will feel that they are intimately connected with the dead; they will also be conscious that they help the dead. The first souls with whom we come into contact after death are those with whom we had already formed close ties on the Earth, not those who were unknown to us on Earth. A direct continuation of the earthly life takes place after death. The soul is inside whatever it perceives, fills it through and through.
During the period of Kamaloca, the ether-form of man expands as far as the orbit of the Moon. All human beings occupy the same space; they are not “in each other's way” during the Kamaloca-period. After this period of Moon-existence we inhabit the Mercury sphere; then the Venus-sphere, then the Sun-sphere; here we live within a sphere of higher spirituality, for the astral elements of the Moon-sphere have been overcome. Life in each of the planetary spheres depends upon the mood and quality of soul acquired during the Moon-period; the life of those who have unfolded the quality of moral fellow-feeling differs from the life of those who are egoists. The former open themselves to humanity. Above all we shall be able to form a connection with those with whom we were together in earthly life. The nature of these relationships will depend upon whether we have been a comfort or a source of trouble to the others. A man of inferior morality will become a spiritual hermit; a truly moral man, on the contrary, a sociable inhabitant of the Mercury-sphere.
During the following Venus condition we expand to the outermost circumference of the Venus-sphere. A man who in earthly life had no religious feelings, who had received into himself nothing of the Eternal, the Divine, who during the Mercury-period had no bonds with other human souls, will become a hermit even during the Venus-period; but there too he is a sociable being if during the Mercury-period he was together with other kindred spirits and warm mutual relationships existed between them. Atheists become hermits in the Venus-period; monists are condemned to live in the prison-house of their own souls, so that the one is shut off from the other. A hermit has a dull, torpid kind of consciousness from which other human souls are excluded. A sociable being has a bright, clear consciousness which finds its way into the other being. Man ascends higher and higher into the world of the stars; but the more dimly he lives through these regions, the more rapidly he skims through the ages and therefore returns the more quickly to reincarnation — this applies, for example, to those who were criminals or idiots in their previous existence. On the other hand, the clearer consciousness has been in the world of the stars the more slowly does the soul return to incarnation. Man must have been fully conscious out in the cosmos if he is to be capable of building and shaping the physical brain of his subsequent life.
The condition of existence in which he becomes an inhabitant of the Sun-sphere sets in about a century after death. During this Sun-period it is possible to acquire a certain relationship to all human beings. If a man has consciously received the Christ Impulse, the way to all other human beings is open for him. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, union can be achieved with the Christ Impulse, the supreme spiritual Power. But a man who has not received the Christ Impulse remains a hermit, even in the Sun-sphere.
When a human being with his aura is revealed to the clairvoyant during the Moon-period of existence, a seed or kernel, enclosed in a kind of auric cloud, is perceived within the vast ether-body. This aura is dark and remains so, even during the Mercury-period. During the Venus-period one side of the auric cloud lights up; and if, as clairvoyants, we then observe the human being, we perceive that if he was a moral, religious man he is able, from that time onward, to have real contact with the beings of the higher hierarchies. If he was a good and righteous man he lives in spiritual contact with higher beings during the Venus-period; if he was an unrighteous man he cannot know or recognize these higher Beings and is thus condemned to the pain of isolation.
Before the Mystery of Golgotha, in the first epoch of post-Atlantean culture, conditions were such that the Throne of Christ was to be seen upon the Sun. Those who had been good and righteous in their lives found their way to the Christ on the plane of Sun-existence. In the age of Zarathustra, the Christ was already on His way to the Earth and could not be found on the Sun. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ has been united with the Earth. If, on the Earth, men have not received the Christ Impulse, they cannot find Christ between death and a new birth. When a man has become a Sun-dweller and has taken the Christ Impulse into himself, a multitude of facts, known as the Akasha Chronicle of the Sun, lie open before him. If on the Earth he had not found Christ, he cannot read the Akasha Chronicle on the Sun. We can learn to read this great script if, on the Earth, we have accepted the Mystery of Golgotha with warmth of heart — and then, on the Sun, we are able to perceive the deeds of Christ on the Sun through the millennia. Existence today is such that we are strong enough to become Sun-dwellers.
Later on we enter the sphere of Mars, then the spheres of Jupiter and Saturn and then, finally, the world of the fixed stars. On the path of return to the Earth, the ether-body of man shrinks and shrinks in size — until it is so tiny that he can incarnate again in a new human germ-cell.
Up to the period of Sun-existence, we stand under the leadership of Christ. From the Sun-existence onward we need a leader whose task it is to guide us to the further realms of cosmic space. Lucifer now comes to our side. If we have fallen prey to him on the physical plane, it is bad for us; but if on the Earth we have rightly understood the Christ Impulse, then we are strong enough on the Sun to follow even Lucifer without danger. From then onward he has charge of the inner progress of the soul, just as on this side of the Sun, Christ has had charge of our ascent. If on the Earth we have received the Christ Impulse, Christ is the keeper of the soul on the path to the Sun. Beyond the periphery of the Sun-sphere, Lucifer leads us out into the cosmos within the periphery of the Sun; he is the Tempter.
If during the Sun-period we have been armed with the Christ Impulse, Christ and Lucifer guide us as brothers. Yet how differently words spoken by Christ and by Lucifer are to be understood! As a wonderful precept there are the words of Christ: “In you lives the spark of the Divine, ye are Gods.” (John 10:34). And then, Lucifer's words of temptation: “Ye shall be as Gods.” (Genesis 3:5) These are similar utterances — but, at the same time, in dire antithesis! Everything depends upon whether here, on the Earth, man stands at the side of Christ or at the side of Lucifer.
Theosophy gives us a deep and profound understanding of the world. A certain knowledge must come to us in the physical body. On the Earth we must acquire understanding of Christ and Lucifer through Theosophy — otherwise we cannot pass with consciousness into cosmic space. The time is now beginning on the Earth when men must know quite consciously whether it is Christ or Lucifer who, after death, whispers these words into the soul. In the life between death and a new birth we must unfold a true understanding of Christ in order that we shall not be condemned to wander through the cosmos in a state of sleep.
Theosophy must be an influence, too, in little things. More and more it will become apparent whether or not forces of life have been acquired between death and a new birth. There will be human beings born with dried up, withered bodies, because owing to their antagonism to Theosophy they have been unable to gather life-forces from the cosmos. Understanding of Theosophy is necessary for the sake of Earth-evolution itself! If men have opened their souls to Theosophy, the knowledge that before this life they were in a spiritual world will bring them happiness. “The starry heavens above me, the moral law within me” — this realization alone gives the world its greatness. Man says to himself: “In the world of the stars I received the essence and content of my inner life; what I lived through in the cosmic expanse flashes up now within my soul. The existence of evil impulses in my soul is due to the fact that during my sojourn in the world of the stars I did not try to receive its forces or the Spirit-Power of Christ.” We have, indeed, yet to learn how to achieve union with the Macrocosm. Today the human being can have only a dim premonition of what happens between death and a new birth. He feels: In earthly existence I live within my soul and bear in my spirit the forces of the starry heavens. If a man meditates deeply on this concept it will become a great and mighty power within him.