Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart, December 4, 1922:
It gives me great satisfaction to be able to speak to you today on passing through Stuttgart, and I should like to make this an opportunity for discussing several things connected with the last two lectures I have been permitted to give here. I spoke then about man's relation to the spiritual world in so far as knowledge of it can be advanced by bringing to light the processes that go on during sleep without our being conscious of them, and by the illumination that spiritual science can throw on the experiences undergone by man in the spiritual world between death and a new birth.
But if between death and a new birth we were able to experience only what makes us one with the beings of the higher world, and were never able to experience ourselves, then on Earth it would be impossible for us ever to achieve freedom, consciousness of freedom, consciousness of our personality, which is fundamentally identical with the consciousness of freedom. Thus when on Earth we develop morality and freedom, they are memories of the rhythm we experience in the spiritual world between death and a new birth.
But by directing our gaze to the soul we can speak more exactly of what echoes on in the soul — the becoming one with spiritual beings on the one hand, and on the other our experience of spiritual consciousness of the self. What during earthly life remains in our soul as an echo of the becoming one with the beings of the spiritual world is the capacity for love. This capacity for love is more deeply connected than people think with the moral life. For without the capacity for love there would be no moral life here on Earth; it all arises from the understanding with which we meet the soul of another, and from striving to accomplsh what we do out of this understanding. How we behave to others with selflessness, or how in love we can act morally, are essentially echoes from our life between death and rebirth in common with spiritual beings; and this remains with us after our experience of what one might call loneliness — for so it is felt to be — the lonely experience of our self in the spiritual world. For we do then feel lonely when we, as it were, breathe out. In-breathing is like an experience of spiritual beings; out-breathing like an experience of our self.
But feeling lonely — well, this feeling lonely has its echo here on Earth as our capacity for remembering — our memory. As human beings we should have no memory were it not an echo of what we have described as a feeling of loneliness. We are real individuals in the spiritual world because — I cannot say because we withdraw into ourselves — but because we can liberate ourselves from the higher spirits within us. That makes us independent in the spiritual world. Here on Earth we are independent because we are able to remember our experiences. Just think what would become of your independence if in your thoughts you had always to live in the present. Your remembered thoughts are what make it possible for you to have anything of an inner life. Remembering makes us into personalities here on Earth. And remembering is the echo of what I have described as the experience of loneliness in the spiritual world.
I might put it thus, that we have gradually to unlearn flying and learn to walk. You understand that I am speaking figuratively, but the picture is in absolute accord with truth, with reality. Thus we find our way into our body. The feeling of loneliness finds a refuge in the body and becomes the faculty of remembering, and we have to win through to a new feeling for community on Earth. This proves to be very significant when with the aid of spiritual science we study the state of sleep.
Thus for ordinary consciousness it is an unconscious experience of what man has to live through in what I called in my book Theosophy the soul world. And the intuitive and inspired consciousness described in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds gathers from the observation of sleep what man has to go through during the first stage after death. These things are not mere fabrications; they are plainly observed once the gift of observation has been acquired. Thus, from going to sleep till waking, man lives without his body through what he has done with his body when awake.
And in what is thus developed between going to sleep and waking, we have something that goes through the gate of death and then lives on further in the spiritual world. It is lost between death and rebirth when we are living together with the spiritual beings of the higher worlds, and we recover it as a seed during earthly life through love. For love discloses its meaning when with his ego and astral body a man in sleep is outside his physical body and etheric body. Between going to sleep and waking his essential being widens if he is full of love and prepares himself well for what is to happen to him after death. If he is loveless and is poorly prepared for what is to happen to him after death, his being narrows. The seed for what happens after death lies pre-eminently in the unfolding of love.
Why is our recollection thus weak and shadowy? It is indeed the shadow of our experience of self between death and a new birth. Within it is the faculty of remembering, so that it really gives us our existence. That which gives us flesh and blood here on Earth, between death and a new birth gives us the faculty of memory. Over there memory is robust and full-blooded — if I may use such expressions for what is spiritual — then it takes on flesh and becomes weak. When we die, for a few days — I have often described this — the last remnant of memory is still present in the etheric body. If when we go through the gate of death we look back over our past life on Earth, memory fades out. And out of this memory there unwinds what the force of love on Earth has given us as force for life after death.
Thus the force of memory is the heritage we receive from our pre-earthly life, and the force of love is the seed for what we have after death. That is the relation between earthly life and the spiritual world.
Here on Earth this breathing process becomes memory and love. And in fact memory and love also work together here in physical earth-life as a kind of breathing. And if with the eyes of the soul you are able to look at this physical life rightly, you will be able to observe in an important manifestation of breathing — speaking and singing — the physiological working together of memory and love.
In a way it is also a breathing process running through the whole of life. Just as we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, so, united in us we have the force of memory and the force of love, meeting one another in speech, meeting one another in tone. One can say that speaking and singing in man are an alternating interchange of permeation by the force of memory and by the force of love. Herein lies something extraordinarily significant for disclosing the real secret of tone and sound.
Why then do we transform ordinary speech that we have here on Earth as a utilitarian faculty — why do we transform it into song by divesting it of its utilitarian function and making it express our own being in declamation, in song? Why do we transform it? What are we doing then?
Neither is he a true artist who in a pronounced way is impelled to be an egotist in his art. Only those who are disposed to open out to the world, who become one with their fellows, who unfold love, can unite this unfolding of love closely with their own being. Altruism and egotism unite in one stream. They flow together naturally and most intimately in the sounding arts, but they flow together also in the plastic arts. And when through a certain deepening of our forces of knowledge there is revealed to us how man is connected with a supersensible world where past and future are concerned, we can also say that man has a present foretaste of this connection in his creation and enjoyment of art. Actually art never acquires its full value if it is not to some extent in accord with religion. Not that it has to be sanctimonious — even art in a jovial mood can have this accord.
Art, religion, and science were formerly one, and we should still have a sense of their common origin. This we can have only when there is a return to the spirit in human civilization and human development; when we take seriously the relation existing between man here in his physical existence on Earth and the spiritual world. This knowledge we ought to make our own from the most varied points of view.