|Ex Deo Nascimur In Christo Morimur Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus|
Sunday, November 30, 2014
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." — John 8:32
|"I am the way, the truth, and the life." — John 14:6|
Not I, but Christ in me
|Ex Deo Nascimur In Christo Morimur Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus|
Rudolf Steiner: "Lucifer is the bringer of personal freedom for the individual; the Christ is the bearer of freedom for the whole human race, for all of humanity on Earth. Anthroposophy significantly teaches us that acknowledgment of the Christ Spirit will take the form that people are free to recognize the Christ or not, just as they are free not to be ethical. The Christ is meant to be a truth that the human being is free to accept or not accept. All other truths belonging to the whole of humanity do compel us. But there are truths still resting in the world's keeping that relate specifically to the Mystery of Golgotha. Giving them recognition must be a free deed for the human spirit. They will give this spirit nobility in that they are acknowledged in an act of free will. Free truth, concrete free truth, deeply influences the human spirit as it evolves on Earth. We see how gaining truth in freedom is one of the fundamental laws of human evolution....We shall only feel what it means to be human on Earth when we know the conscious ideal we have before us: the ideal of freedom and the truth, the truth which will create an external body for itself in that freedom."
pp. 76-77 [Stockholm, June 10, 1913]
pp. 76-77 [Stockholm, June 10, 1913]
The Inner Nature of Man and Our Life Between Death and Rebirth.
The fifth of six lectures to members of the Anthroposophical Society.
Rudolf Steiner, Vienna, April 13, 1914:
I have now to speak once more of the events between death and rebirth, making use of the ideas we have acquired in the previous lectures. As we can only deal briefly with this wide subject, a great deal can be but indicated and much else which perhaps does not follow from this pictorial presentation will have to be worked out later; but that which at present you may find incomplete will be made clear in the further course of our studies in Spiritual Science.
When a person passes the portal of death, he lays aside his physical body. This is consigned to the elements of the earth. In other words we may say of the physical body, that it has withdrawn from the forces and laws proceeding from the true man which permeate it between birth and death and which are different from the mere chemical and physical laws to which, as physical body, it succumbs after death. From the standpoint of the physical plane, a person has naturally the idea that he has left on the physical plane that part of his being which belongs to that plane. What belongs to the physical plane is consigned to the physical plane. For the comprehension of man himself and also for any comprehension of the spiritual world, we have naturally to consider the point of view taken by the dead person when he has passed through the portal of death. To him the leaving of the physical body means an inner process, a soul-process. To those who are left behind, what happens to the physical body after death is an external process, and the inner being of the person who has died, his human soul nature, can no longer express itself in the mortal residue; but to the man himself who has passed through the portal of death, something is connected with this leaving of the body. To him it means an inner experience of the soul; he feels: Thou hast come forth out of thy physical body and art leaving it behind.
From the standpoint of the physical plane, it is extremely difficult to give an accurate description of what here takes place within the soul; for it is an inner process of far reaching importance and immense significance. It is an inner process which lasts but a brief space of time, but it is of universal importance to the whole of human life. Now if the ideas connected with what then takes place in the soul were to be described — these ideas which of course cannot be touched upon at present in a public lecture because they would astonish the public too much, though perhaps the time will also come for this — if we were to describe the external process of ideas (now of course the spiritually external) with which the path of life running between death and rebirth commences, we might say that the person who has passed the portal of death has the feeling: Thou art now in an entirely different relationship to the world from that in which thou wast before; thy former relationship to the world is radically reversed. If we wished to describe the ideas which are then experienced in the soul, we should have to say that up to his death a person has lived on the earth. During this time he has been accustomed to stand on the solid, material earth, to see there the beings belonging to the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, to see the mountains, rivers, clouds, stars, sun and moon; and from his own standpoint and through the powers of his physical body he has become accustomed to conceive of all this as we do to-day. This he does although at the present day we know from the teaching of Copernicus that fundamentally what we see is an illusion. There above us is the blue vault of the heavens, like a bowl, there are the stars, over it pass the sun and moon. Man is within this bowl as it were, he is within this hollow globe, in the centre, on the earth, together with all that the earth reveals to his powers of perception.
We are not at present concerned with the fact that it is an illusion when through the limitation of our capacities, we picture to ourselves this blue circumference, but with the fact that we cannot do otherwise than see it; we see a blue globe as a firmament above us. Now when a person has passed the portal of death, the first idea he has to form in his soul is: ‘Thou art now outside, but as though sunk into a single star.’ At first he is unconscious of the starry world in which he is really outspread, at first he is only aware of what he has left, he is only aware that he has left the sphere of consciousness he possessed in the physical body, he has left all that he was able to see by means of the human capacities developed in his physical body. Something has really happened — but spiritually — similar to what would happen if a chick, which at first is within the egg-shell, were consciously to experience how it breaks through this and afterwards sees the broken egg-shell — the world which had previously surrounded it — from outside, instead of from inside. Naturally this idea, which passes through the human soul at this point is Maya; but it is a necessary Maya or illusion. As we have already said, that which previously gave our consciousness its content has shrunk together as if into a single star, only that from this star radiates what we might call ‘radiating cosmic wisdom.’
This radiating cosmic wisdom is what I dealt with in the last lecture and regarding which I said that we possess it in its fullness. It shines and glitters at first as if from a fiery star. It is now not blue, like the firmament, but fiery, shining, reddish — like a fiery star. And from it streams forth into space the plenitude of wisdom, which in inward motion first presents to us what might be called a memory-tableau of our last earthly life. All the events we have consciously experienced in our soul between birth and death now come before our soul, but in such a manner that we know: There thou seest all, because the star shining before thee is the background which, through its inner activity, is the cause of thy being able to see what is outspread before thee, as a memory tableau. That is expressed more from the standpoint of the imagination. From the standpoint of inwardness the experience is somewhat as follows: The one who has passed the portal of death is entirely filled with the thought: Thou hast left thy body; now in the spiritual world this body is nothing but will. Thy body is a star of will, a star whose substance is will; and this will glows with warmth, and into the expanses of the world into which thou hast now poured thyself, it rays back to thee thy own life between birth and death as a great tableau. To the circumstance of thy sojourn within this star thou owest the privilege that thou art able to draw and absorb from the world what thou hast drawn and absorbed from it while on the physical plane: for this star, this will-star, which now forms the background is the spiritual part of thy physical body, this will-star is the spirit which permeates and strengthens thy physical body. That which streams to thee as wisdom is the activity, the mobility of thy etheric body.
This period passes. The period during which we have the impression that our life is running its course like a memory-tableau really only lasts for some days. Our thoughts, which became our memories during life on earth, unfold once more before our souls in this memory-tableau. We can maintain this tableau as long as we have the power under normal conditions to keep awake in the physical body. It does not depend upon how long we once remained awake in life under abnormal conditions, it depends upon the power we have within us to keep ourselves awake. In one case it may be that a person can scarcely keep awake one night without tiredness overcoming him, in another case it may be that he can hold out longer without becoming tired; but the length of time he needs to finish with this memory-tableau depends upon the degree of this power. We also have the distinct inner consciousness that because this will-star is in the background, there is contained within the memory-tableau what we have gained in our last earthly life, there is contained in it that by which we have become more mature, what we have carried beyond death as a plus quantity as compared with what we had as a minus quantity when at birth we entered into earthly life. This, which we may describe as the fruit of the last life, we feel in such a way as if it would not remain as it appeared during the memory-tableau, but as if it withdrew, as if it went away into the future and disappeared in those future ages.
In this lecture I shall speak principally of the condition in the life between death and rebirth of those who have reached the normal length of life and have died under normal conditions. Exceptional cases will be dealt with in the next lecture.
Thus the fruit of our life, if we have gained such fruit, withdraws to a distance and we know within our soul: — This fruit exists somewhere, but we have been left behind by it. We have the consciousness that we have remained at an earlier period of time, the fruit of our life hurries forward, it arrives before us at a later period of time and we have to follow after it. We must grasp correctly what I have just said, this idea of the inward experience of the fruit of our life being in the universe; because it is this inward experience which forms the basis of our consciousness, the beginning of our consciousness after death.
Our consciousness must always be aroused by something. When we awake in the morning our consciousness is enkindled anew through our entering into the physical body and thereby confronting outer objects, through something affecting us from outside, while during sleep we are unconscious. In the state immediately after death, this consciousness is enkindled by our inward feeling and experience of the fruits of our last life, experience of what we have gained. These fruits exist, but outside us. Our consciousness is first enkindled after death through this feeling and experience of our inmost earthly nature being outside us. By this our consciousness is quickened. Then begins the period during which it is necessary for us to develop soul-forces which had really to remain undeveloped during our life on the physical plane, because they were used to organise the physical body and all appertaining to it — soul-forces which during physical life have to be changed into something else. These forces have to awaken gradually after death. Even in the days during which we experienced the memory-tableau we notice this awakening of soul-capacities. This happens when the memory-tableau gradually fades away and grows dim, because it is during these days that we actually develop the forces lying at the foundation of the faculty of remembrance, but not acting consciously during physical life. The reason these forces do not act consciously during physical life is because during this physical life we have to transform them in order to be able to form memories. The last great memory which we have after death in the form of the tableau must first fade away, must gradually grow dim. Then out of the darkness develops that which we could not consciously possess before death; for if we had had it consciously before death we could never have formed the forces of memory. The forces which now develop in the soul during the fading of the remembrance of the tableau of life were, during life, transformed into the power by which we remember: they now emerge, because the power to remember earthly thoughts in the ordinary way is overcome and this spiritually transformed memory-force is awakened within us as the first spiritual soul-force which comes forth from the human soul after death, just as the soul-forces come forth in a growing child in the first weeks of its life. As this soul-force grows it is revealed to us that behind our thoughts, which while we were on the physical plane were but shadows, something lives; there is life and movement in the world of thought. We become aware that the thought pictures in our physical body were but a shadow and that in them there really lives and expands a vast number of elemental beings. Our memories grow dim and in their place we see emerge a vast number of elemental beings out of the universal cosmos of wisdom.
You might ask, ‘Is it not a great loss when after death the power of memory is overcome and we have something else in its place?’ We do not miss it, because we then have a very good substitute for it. Instead of remembering our thoughts as we do in life, we notice after death that these thoughts, which we had in life as memory-thoughts, only seem to be memories. This treasure of memory which is ours during life becomes something much more than merely a treasure of memory. When we are out of our physical body, we see all this treasure of memory as a living presence; it exists. Every thought is alive, is a living being. Now we know: During physical life thou didst think, thy thoughts appeared to thee; but while thou wast under the delusion that thou wast forming thoughts, thou wast producing nothing but elemental beings. That is the new thing thou hast added to the whole cosmos. Something new exists, to which thou gavest birth in the spirit; that which thy thoughts really were now stands before thee. We now first learn by direct vision what elemental beings are, because this is the first time we come to know the elemental beings we have ourselves produced. This memory-tableau is the very important impression we receive in the first period after death; but this begins to live, really to live, and as it begins to live we perceive it as nothing but elemental beings. It now shows its true face, as it were and its disappearance merely signifies its change into something different. If, for example, we died at the age of sixty or eighty, we do not need the power of memory to remember a thought we had, say, at the age of twenty, because it is there as a living elemental being, it has waited and we do not need to remember it; then if we died, for example, at the age of forty the thought would only be twenty years old and we should see it clearly. These elemental beings themselves tell us how long it is since they were formed. Time becomes space: it stands before us, because the living beings reveal their own time-signature. Under these conditions time becomes the immediate present.
From these, our own elemental beings, which surrounded us during life and which we see at death, we learn the nature of the elemental world and thereby prepare ourselves gradually to understand the elemental beings in the outer world not produced by us, but existing apart from us in the spiritual cosmos. Through our own elemental creations we learn to know the others. Think how very different this life between death and rebirth really is from our earthly life. The main thing is that after physical birth we are not aware of ourselves. What we experience as a baby, those around us experience with us; we are born, and others, our parents, look upon this which has been born. Neither are we aware of ourselves at first after death, but we see as an outer world that to which we have given birth. We ourselves look upon that which is outside, that to which we have given birth at the moment of death. When at our physical birth we enter into existence, we have an incomprehensible world before us, and to those around us we are indeed a being who only sprawls and cries and laughs; but after death, after our birth into the spiritual world — which to the physical world is death — we enter at once into an environment to which we ourselves have given birth, which we have ourselves organised, for we have ourselves given birth to it. There, we have given birth to a world, whereas, when we are born physically, this world gives birth to us. Such are the conditions with respect to thought and also to that which springs from thought as our store of memory.
It is different as regards what belongs to our feeling and our will. In the first lecture I mentioned that all that belongs to the spheres of our feeling and our will is not yet born in us, that in a certain respect will and feeling are something which is not fully born. This can be seen clearly after death; for will and feeling, as they pervade the physical body, still exist after death. So that after a time, after the will-star has withdrawn with the fruits of our last earthly life, we live in an elemental world which forms our environment to which we ourselves give the fundamental tone through our transformed memories. We live in such a manner in this world, which really is ourselves, in the sense I have just explained, that we know: Thy feeling and thy will are still in thee. They have still a sort of remembrance, a sort of connection with thy last earthly life. This condition lasts for decades. When we are in earthly life between birth and death, we enjoy and suffer, we live in our passions and we develop impulses of the will through having the feeling and willing soul in our body; but it is never the case that all the forces contained in feeling and will are really able to find an outlet through the body. Even though we may die in very old age, we still could have enjoyed more, suffered more, we still could have developed more impulses of the will. All the possibilities of feeling and will that yet remain in the soul must, however, be overcome. As long as these are not fully overcome we still have a connection of desire with our last earthly life. We look back, as it were, at this last earthly life. It is, as I have often expressed by a trivial word, a sort of weaning from the connection with the physical earthly life. Anyone who is but to a slight degree a true spiritual investigator soon penetrates into the nature of the force which we have now to overcome, and this overcoming takes decades to accomplish: but it is revealed comparatively easily to spiritual investigation.
Each day when we fall asleep and when we experience the interval between sleeping and waking, we are in our soul and spiritual nature outside our body. We return, because in our soul and spirit nature we have the impulse to return, because we really have a desire for our body. We absolutely long for our body. And one who can consciously experience awaking, knows: you want to awaken and you must will to waken. In the spirit and soul-nature there is indeed a force of attraction to the body. This must gradually decline, it must be entirely overcome and this takes decades to accomplish. This is the period in which we gradually overcome our connection with our last earthly life and this is why, in the period which is occupied in the manner I have just described, we really have to experience in a reversed direction everything that took place in our earthly life.
Now that the previous lectures have been given, I am in a position to describe various conditions more minutely than before, when only a general outline could be given; for before this could be done, it was necessary that certain ideas should first be brought forward.
Let us suppose that we have passed the portal of death and that we have left someone behind on the earth. We are now in the period when we have gained the power of beholding elemental beings and of having the inward feeling that the fruits of our earthly life have withdrawn; but that we are still connected with this last earthly life. Let us suppose, that when we have passed the portal of death we have left behind one whom we have loved very much. Now, when after death we have become accustomed to our elemental creations, we gradually attain to seeing the elemental beings of others; it is possible for us now to see the thoughts of others as elemental beings. We see the thoughts that live in the soul of the person we have left behind, for they are expressed in living elementals which appear before our soul as mighty Imaginations. In this way we can now have a much more intimate connection with the inner life of this person than we had with him in the physical world; for while we ourselves were in the physical body we could not indeed see the thoughts of the other, whereas now we can. But we have need of the feeling-memory — please note the word — the feeling-memory, the connection of feeling with our own last earthly life. We must feel, just as we felt in the body, and this feeling must echo in us. Then, when the thoughts of the other appear to us, the whole condition, which otherwise would only be as a picture, receives life. Thus, by the route of our feeling, we gain a living connection with our friend: it is really so with everyone.
You see, it is a development of a condition which may be described thus: There is a period during which we still have to draw from our last earthly life the forces enabling us to enter into living relationship with the surrounding spiritual world; we have still to be connected with this earthly life. We love the souls we have left behind, the contents of whose souls appear to us as thoughts, as elemental beings. But we love them because we ourselves are still living in the love we developed for them during our earthly life. The expression is not a happy one, but some of you will understand me when I say that earth-life — not the thought-life but the earth-life whose soul-contents are filled with feeling and permeated with the impulse of will — this earth-life, with which we are still connected, becomes like a sort of electric switch connecting our own individuality with what goes on around us spiritually; we perceive everything in a roundabout way through our last earthly life, but we only perceive what appertains to us in the spiritual world, through the feeling and will that were ours in our last earthly life. It is now really the case that we feel ourselves living on further into time, as a sort of comet of time. Our earthly life is still there like the kernel of the comet, but the kernel sends out a sort of tail into the near future through which we live. We are still connected with our earthly life in so far as this is filled with feeling and will, and from this experience something must be born within our soul as I have described, something that is not directly feeling and will. The soul-powers we develop here in the physical world, which include the power of feeling as we have it here in the physical world and the power of the will as we have it here in the physical world, these soul-powers we possess in this form, because we are living in the physical body. When the soul no longer lives in the physical body, it has to develop other qualities which only slumber during physical life. Because the echoes of feeling and will reverberate in it for years, the soul has to mature something from them which it can also use for the spiritual world in this respect, namely a force which I might describe as something like a feeling-desire or a desiring-feeling. In respect of our feeling and our will, we know that these dwell within our soul; but after death we do not, on the whole, possess such feeling and desire, they must gradually fade and die down, and they do this after some years.
But during this dying down and fading away, something has to develop from feeling and will which can be ours after death. Our thoughts live outside us as elemental beings; of inward feeling and will we should have nothing in this spiritual world which we ourselves are, and which is there, outside us. We have gradually to develop a will — and this we really do — which streams forth from us, which pours forth from us, as it were, and undulates and moves to where our living thoughts are. These it penetrates, because then upon the waves of will floats the feeling which in physical life is within us and not outside. Feeling then returns to us floating on the waves of will. There, outside surges and billows the ocean of our will and upon this swims our feeling. When the will strikes against an elemental thought-being, the contact produces an up-glimmering of feeling and we perceive this ‘ricochet’ of our will as an absolute reality of the spiritual world. Let us suppose there is an elemental being in the outer spiritual world. When we have gradually worked out of the condition we must first pass through, our will going forth from us breaks against this elemental being. When it strikes against the elemental being it is thrown back. It does not now return as will, but as feeling, which floats back to us on the waves of will. Our own being which is poured out into the cosmos lives as feeling which comes back to us on the waves of will. The elemental beings thereby become real to us and we gradually perceive that which exists outside us as the outer spiritual world.
Still another soul-force has to come forth from us, which slumbers in a much deeper layer of the soul than the feeling-will or the willing-feeling. It is creative soul-force, which is like an inner soul-light that must shine forth over the spiritual world, in order that we may not only see the living, active, objective thought-beings floating back to us on the waves of feeling in the ocean of our will, but that we may also illumine this spiritual world with spiritual light. Creative, spiritual illuminating power must go forth from our soul into the spiritual world. This awakens gradually.
You see, that while living in physical life we have at least differentiated within us the pair of brothers — feeling and will, from feeling-will or willing-feeling: we possess these as a duality whereas when we have passed the portal of death they are unity. The creative soul-force which we radiate as soul-light into spiritual space (if I may use the word ‘space’ here, for in reality it is not space, but we have to try to make these conditions comprehensible by expressing them pictorially), this soul-light slumbers so deep down within us because it is connected with something regarding which we neither may nor can know anything during life. That which is liberated as light and which then illumines and brightens the spiritual world slumbers very deep down within us during our life on the physical plane. What then rays forth from us, has to be transformed during our physical life and used in such a way that our body shall really live and that consciousness shall dwell in it. Entirely below the threshold of consciousness works this spiritual illuminating power in our physical body, as the power which organises life and consciousness. We dare not bring it into our earthly consciousness, for we should then rob our physical body of the power which has to organise it. But when we have no body to take care of, it becomes spiritual illuminating power, and streams through, shines and glitters through everything: these words signify actual realities.
Thus we gradually work our way onwards to where we become at home in the spiritual world and experience it as a reality, just as here we experience the physical world as a reality. We gradually arrive at really having the souls of those who have passed the portal of death as our companions in the spiritual world, in so far as these really live in the spiritual world. We then live among souls, just as here in the physical body we live among bodies. As we enter more and more into the true spirit of Spiritual Science, the assertion that after death we do not meet again all those with whom we have lived here, would be, to one who goes more deeply into the matter, as foolish as if someone were to say, with respect to the physical plane, that when we enter upon the earth at birth we find no human beings there. Human beings are all about us. — To one who knows spiritual life it is exactly the same as if someone were to say: the child comes into the physical world, but it sees no one there. That, obviously, is nonsense. In the same way it is nonsense when people say: when we enter into the spiritual world we do not find again all the souls with whom we have been associated, neither do we find the Beings belonging to the higher Hierarchies, whom we recognise in their order, as here upon the earth we recognise minerals, plants and animals! But there is this difference, here in the physical world we know that when we see and hear objects and beings, the possibility for doing so comes through our senses, from the outer world. In the spiritual world we know that this possibility comes from ourselves, because what we may call the soul-light streams forth from our souls illuminating everything about us.
Thus do we live in the period which may be called the first half of our life between death and rebirth. While we are living in this period we go through the two conditions I have already described: — one, a condition lasting for years, in which, through the illuminating power proceeding from our soul, we are connected with the spiritual world and are thus enabled to perceive spirits and souls about us. This then grows dim and we have the feeling: thou canst develop thy soul-illuminating power, thy soul-light less and less, thou art obliged to let it become dimmer and darker in a spiritual sense. Thereby thou canst see spiritual beings less and less. It becomes increasingly the case that we enter alternating periods in which we have a feeling which we may express thus: Beings surround thee on all sides but thou art becoming more and more solitary, thou art aware only of the contents of thine own soul and these contents grow richer to the same extent that thou ceasest to be able to illuminate the beings without. — There are periods of spiritual companionship, and again, periods of spiritual solitude during which we live over again in our soul, what we experienced in the periods of spiritual companionship. These conditions alternate. Such is our life in the spiritual world: spiritual companionship, and again spiritual solitude. In periods of spiritual solitude we know: what thou didst experience in the spiritual world around thee was indeed there, thou knewest about all that; but now there remains only the echo of it within thee. One might say, that what we experience in the periods of spiritual solitude, are memories; but these words do not express it exactly. I must therefore try to describe it to you from another aspect. It is not as if in the period of spiritual darkness, when one has no companions, one were to remember what one had previously experienced in the spiritual world, but as if one had to produce this afresh every moment: it is a continual inward creation. One is inwardly aware: While there, outside thee the outer world exists; thou must remain alone and create and create. What thou createst is the world which surges around thee beyond the shores of thine own being.
As we thus live on further during the first half of our life between death and rebirth and approach the middle of the period between death and rebirth, we feel the solitary life grow richer and richer and at the same time the vision of our spiritual environment becomes dimmer and more restricted. This continues until we arrive at the middle of the period between death and rebirth, which in my last Mystery Drama, The Soul's Awakening, I have endeavoured to describe as the Midnight of the World. That is the period when we have the strongest inward life, but we no longer have within us the creative soul-force enabling us to illumine our spiritual environment. Here, one might say, infinite worlds fill us inwardly, spiritually, but we are unable to know anything about any other being except our own. That is the central point in our experience between death and rebirth, it is the Midnight of the World.
Now the time begins when there develops within us the longing for a positive creative power; for although we have an infinite inner life, there awakens within us the longing to have an outer world again. And so different are the conditions of the spiritual world from those of the physical world, that whereas in the physical world longing is the most passive force (when there is something for which we long, this something is what determines us), the reverse is the case in the spiritual world. There, longing is a creative force; it transforms itself into something which, as a new kind of soul-light, is able to give us an outer world, an outer world which is yet an inner world, inasmuch as it reveals to us a vision of our previous earthly incarnations. These now lie outspread before us, illumined by the light that is born of our longing. In the spiritual cosmos there is a power which comes from longing, which can illumine this backward survey and enable us to experience ourselves.
But to this end one thing is necessary in our present age. I have said that during the whole of the first half of our life between death and rebirth we alternate between inner life and outer life, between solitude and spiritual companionship. At first the conditions in the spiritual world are such, that each time we return to our solitude in the spiritual world, to our inner activity, we call up before our soul again and again what we have experienced in the outer world. Thereby a consciousness is aroused which expands over the whole of the spiritual world; with the swing of the pendulum this again contracts during the period of solitude.
There is one thing, however, which exists there and which we must retain, no matter whether we expand into the great spiritual world, or withdraw into ourselves. Before the Mystery of Golgotha took place, it was possible, through the forces connecting man with primeval times, to preserve a connection with that which gave him the feeling of ‘I’. It was possible not to lose this connection, for he could preserve a clear remembrance of one thing in the previous earthly life, namely, that in this life on the earth he had lived as an ‘I’; and this remembrance continued both through the periods of solitude and of companionship. Before the Mystery of Golgotha the forces of inheritance took care of this. Now, it can only be accomplished through the fact that the soul-content, which we may have through Christ having entered into the earth aura, remains connected with that which we have released from us as the treasure we have brought from the earth, which we perceived withdraw immediately after leaving the physical body. This is the permeation with the Christ-substance, which after death gives us the power to maintain the remembrance of our ‘I’ up to the time of the world-midnight, in spite of all expansion and in spite of all the contraction into solitude. Thus far does the impulse proceeding from the power of Christ extend, that through it we do not lose ourselves. Then from our longing must spring a new spiritual power, a power that only exists in spiritual knife and by which, through our longing a new light may be kindled.
In the physical world there is Nature and the Divinity which pervades Nature, from which we are born into the physical world. There is the Christ-impulse which is present in the earth's aura, that is, in the aura of physical nature. But the power which draws near to us in the Midnight of the World, through which our longing is enabled to illumine the whole of our past, this power exists only in the spiritual world where nobody can live. When the Christ-impulse has brought us as far as to the Midnight of the World, and when the Midnight of the World is experienced by the soul in spiritual loneliness, because the soul-light cannot yet stream forth from us, when world-darkness has come upon us, when Christ has led us thus far, then in the Midnight of the World there emerges something spiritual from our desire, creating a new world-light which illuminates our being and by means of which we enter anew into worldly existence. We learn to know the Spirit of the spiritual world which awakens us, because out of the Midnight of the World a new light shines, the light which illuminates the whole of our human past.
In Christ we have died; through the Spirit, through the bodiless Spirit for which the technical expression Holy Ghost is used, i.e., the Spirit that lives without a body — (for this is meant by the word Holy, namely, a spirit without the weakness of one that lives in the body) — through this Spirit we are reawakened at the Midnight of the World. At the World-Midnight we are awakened by the Holy Ghost:
PER SPIRITUM SANCTUM REVIVISCIMUS
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Rudolf Steiner: "Is there anything in life of which we could not say that we could have done it better? It would be sad if there were anything with which we could be completely satisfied, because there is nothing we could not do better. The difference between a person standing higher and one standing lower in life is precisely that the latter always desires to be satisfied with himself. The person standing higher in life is never completely satisfied, because the subtle wish to do better, even to do things differently, always exists as a motive. This is an area that is often misunderstood. People see something great when they regret a deed. However, that is not the best we can do with a deed, because we often base our regret in egotism; namely, people desire to have done the deed better to be better people. That is egotistical. Our striving will be without egotism only when we cease to desire to have done a completed deed better and instead place greater value in doing the same deed better the next time. The intent and the effort to do something better the next time is higher than regret."
The Inner Nature of Man and Our Life Between Death and Rebirth.
The fourth of six lectures to members of the Anthroposophical Society.
Rudolf Steiner, Vienna, April 12, 1914:
In my second public lecture here, I tried, as far as is possible in a public lecture, to describe in broad outline the life of man between death and rebirth. We shall go more deeply into this subject in the next two lectures, in order to gain a clearer understanding of our life here in the physical world. The preparation provided by the previous lectures was necessary before we could go further. This course of lectures will provide the means whereby we can enter more deeply into this subject than was possible in the public lectures.
I have often said that if a person wants to know and understand the spiritual worlds — and these are the worlds in which we live between death and rebirth — he must make certain conceptions and ideas his own, which cannot be gained from experience here on earth, but which, if once gained, will be of infinite importance to life on the physical plane; and this importance will increase more and more.
To begin with, let me now explain one difference between the experience in the spiritual world and the experience on the physical plane, which when heard for the first time must seem astonishing and strange, so that we might easily think that these things would be difficult of comprehension. But the deeper we go in Spiritual Science, the more we shall find that these things become ever more comprehensible. When we live on the physical plane and are affected by the experiences of the physical plane, one thing must, upon recollection strike us forcibly. That is, that on this physical plane we are confronted with what we call reality, existence, being. One might say that the more unspiritual a person is, the more does he rely upon what he has before him on the physical plane as the ‘reality’ that presses in upon him. But as regards what we wish to acquire on the physical plane as ‘knowledge,’ knowledge of this reality, the case is different. As children we have to be taught to develop the capacities for acquiring the knowledge of the physical plane and then we have to work further and further. The acquisition of knowledge demands mental work. Nature, that is to say external reality, does not of itself yield up the contents of its wisdom and its laws; we have to acquire this knowledge. Indeed, all human striving after knowledge consists in actively acquiring from passive experience, the wisdom and the law that Nature contains.
Now matters are quite different when either by the exercises which lead to spiritual investigation, or by passing through the portal of death, we enter into the spiritual world. The relation of man to the surrounding spiritual world is not, under all circumstances, what I am now about to describe; but it is so in important moments, during important experiences. In our life on the physical plane we are not always striving after knowledge, for sometimes we pause in this labour. So also, what I shall now describe is not continually necessary in the spiritual world, but it is requisite and necessary for us at certain times. The astonishing thing is that man has no lack of wisdom in the spiritual world. A person may be a fool in the sense-world, but simply through his entrance into the spiritual world wisdom streams towards him in its reality. Wisdom that we acquire with trouble in the physical world, that we have to work for day after day if we wish to possess it, is already ours in the spiritual world, just as surrounding nature is ours in the physical world. It is always there, and it is there in the greatest abundance. To a certain extent we may say that the less wisdom we have acquired on the physical plane, the more abundantly does this wisdom stream towards us on the spiritual plane. But, we have a special task, with respect to this wisdom on the spiritual plane.
In recent lectures I told you that on the spiritual plane the ideal of humanity stands before us, the content of the religion of the Gods, and that we have to strive towards it. We cannot do this, if we are incapable of so exercising our will — that is, our feeling-will, our willing-feeling — that we continually diminish this wisdom, continually take something away from the wisdom which for ever streams towards us and which there surrounds us as the phenomena of nature do here. We must have the power to deplete more and more the wisdom which there comes towards us. Here, on the physical plane we have to become wiser and wiser; there we have to endeavour so to exercise our will and our feeling that we diminish and darken the surrounding wisdom. For the less we are able to take from it, the less strength do we find within us whereby to fill ourselves with the necessary forces to approach the ideal of humanity as real being. This approach has to consist in our taking more and more away from the surrounding wisdom. What we thus take away we are able to transform within us so that the transformed wisdom becomes the life-force which drives us towards the ideal of humanity,. This life-force we have to acquire during the period between death and rebirth. It is only by changing into life-force, the wisdom which flows into us so abundantly, that we can approach a fresh incarnation in the correct way. When we return to earth, we must have changed so much wisdom into life-force, we must have diminished the wisdom by so much, that we have sufficient organising spiritual life-forces to permeate the substance we receive through heredity from father and mother. Thus we have to lose wisdom more and more.
When we find a thorough materialist again after his death, one who on the physical plane did not recognise any reality in spirit, who said during his life, ‘All that you say about spirit is nonsense; your wisdom is nothing but fantasy; I will have nothing to do with it. I admit nothing but what is to be found in external nature’ — in the case of such a person, when met with after his death, one sees wisdom stream towards him so abundantly that he cannot escape it. From all sides spirit streams towards him. To the same extent that he did not believe in spirit here, he is overflooded by it there. His task is now to change this wisdom into life-forces, so that he may produce a physical reality in his next incarnation. He is to produce whathe called reality from this wisdom, he is to diminish this wisdom; but it will not permit itself to be diminished by him, it remains as it is. He is unable to form reality out of it. This dreadful punishment of the spirit confronts him, namely, that whereas in his last life here on the physical plane he relied only upon reality, whereas he entirely denied spirit, he is now unable to save himself, as it were, from spirit and he is unable to produce anything real out of this spirit. He is always faced with the danger of not being able to come again into the physical world through forces which he himself produces. He lives continually in the fear — ‘Spirit will push me into the physical world and I shall then have a physical existence which denies everything that I recognised as true in my previous life. I shall have to allow myself to be thrust by spirit into physical reality, I shall not have produced reality by myself.’ That is a most astonishing thing, but it is a fact. To be a great materialist and deny spirit before death is the way to be drowned, as it were, in spirit after death and to find in it nothing of the only reality one had formerly believed in, A man is then choked or drowned in spirit.
These are ideas which we have to acquire more and more in the course of our. study of spiritual science; for if we do acquire them they lead us onward harmoniously even in physical life and they show us, to a certain extent, how the two sides of life have to supplement and balance each other. We form the instinctive desire really to introduce this balance into our life.
I might give you another example of the connection between physical and spiritual life. Let us take a concrete, individual example. Suppose we have told a lie to someone on the physical plane — I am speaking of actual cases. When we tell a lie to someone, it happens at a certain point of time and what I shall now describe as the corresponding event in the spiritual world also takes place at a certain point of time between death and rebirth. Let us suppose we have told a lie to someone at some particular time on the physical plane; then, during our sojourn in the spiritual world, be it through initiation or through death, there comes a certain time when our soul in the spiritual world is entirely filled with the truth we ought to have expressed. This truth torments us; it stands before us and torments us to the same degree in which we deviated from it when we told the lie. Thus one need only tell a lie on the physical plane in order to bring about a time in the spiritual world when we are tormented by the corresponding truth, the opposite of the lie. There the truth torments us because it lives in us and burns us, and we cannot bear it. Our suffering consists in our seeing the truth before us. But we are in such a condition that this truth gives us no satisfaction, no joy, no pleasure; it torments us. One of the peculiarities of our experience in the spiritual world is that we are tormented by what is good, by the things which we know ought to uplift us.
Take another example. In our life in the physical world we may be lazy in doing something which it is our duty to do industriously; then comes a time in the spiritual world when we are filled with the industry we lacked in the physical world. Industry most surely comes; it is alive in us when we have been lazy in the physical plane. The time comes when from inner necessity, we have to exercise this industry unconditionally. We devote ourselves to it entirely and we know that it is something which is extremely valuable; but it torments us, it makes us suffer.
Let us take another case which is perhaps less under the control of human volition, but depends upon other processes of life which go on more in the background of existence and are connected with the course of our karma; let us take the case in which we have passed through an illness. When in physical life we have had an illness which has caused us pain, we experience at a certain point of time in the spiritual world the opposite feeling, the opposite condition, namely, that of health. And this feeling of health strengthens us during our sojourn in the spiritual world to the same degree that the illness weakened us. This is an instance which perhaps may not only shock our intellect, like the other things we have mentioned, but it may enter much more deeply into the emotional aspect of our soul and irritate it. We know that the things of Spiritual Science must always be grasped through our feelings; but in this case we must remember the following. We must clearly understand that something like a shadow lies over this connection between physical illness and the corresponding health and strength we have in the spiritual world. The connection exists, but there is something in the human breast which prevents the feelings from rightly coming to terms with this connection. We must indeed admit this connection has another result when we really understand it, and this result may be described as follows: —
Let us suppose that a person takes up Spiritual Science and devotes himself seriously to it — not in the way in which other sciences are taken up. These may be studied theoretically; one may receive what they give merely as thoughts and ideas. Spiritual Science ought never to be taken up in this manner. It ought to become a spiritual life-blood within us. Spiritual Science ought to live and work in us; it ought also to awaken feelings through the ideas it gives us. To one who really hearkens to Spiritual Science in the right way there is nothing it has to give which does not either, on the one hand, uplift us, or on the other, allow us to see into the abuses of existence in order that we may there find our way aright. The student who understands Spiritual Science correctly always follows what it says with the appropriate feelings. Spiritual Science when accepted will transform his soul, even while in the physical world, simply through the ideas that live in him and through his acquiring the habits of thought and feeling which we have just mentioned as being necessary. I have often said that the earnest study of Spiritual Science is one of the best and most deeply-penetrating of all exercises.
Something remarkable gradually appears in one who takes up Spiritual Science. A person who performs exercises — possibly he does not do it in order to become a spiritual investigator himself, but only tries earnestly to understand Spiritual Science — such a person may perhaps not be able for a very long time to think of seeing clairvoyantly for himself. He will be able to do it sometime; though this may perhaps be a far-off ideal. But if he really allows Spiritual Science to act upon his soul in the manner we have indicated, he will find that the instincts of life, the more unconscious impulses of life change. His soul really becomes different. No one can take up Spiritual Science without it influencing the instinctive life of the soul. It makes the soul different, it gives it different sympathies and antipathies, it fills it with a sort of light, so that it feels more certain than it did formerly. This may be noticed in every realm of life; in every realm of life Spiritual Science expresses itself in this way. For example, a person may be unskilled; but if he takes up Spiritual Science he will see that without doing anything else than filling himself with Spiritual Science, he will become more apt and capable, even to the manner in which he uses his hands. Do not say: ‘I know some very unskilled people who follow Spiritual Science; and they are still very unskilled!’ Try to reflect to what extent these have not yet really permeated themselves inwardly with Spiritual Science according to the necessities of karma. A person may be a painter and exercise the art of painting to a certain degree; if he takes up Spiritual Science he will find that what we have just mentioned will flow instinctively into the actions he performs. He will mix his colours more easily; the ideas he wants will come more quickly. Or suppose he is a teacher, and wishes to take up some science. Many who are in this position will know how much trouble it often costs to gather together the literature required to clear up some question or other. If he takes up Spiritual Science, he will not go as before to a library and take down fifty books that are of no use, but he will immediately lay his hands on the right one. Spiritual Science really enters into one's life; it makes the instincts different; it gives us the impulse to do the right thing.
Of course what I shall now say must always be thought of in conjunction with human karma. It must always be kept in mind that man is subject to the law of karma under all circumstances. But taking into consideration the law of karma, the following is still the case. Let us suppose that a certain kind of illness attacks someone who has taken up Spiritual Science in the way described and it is in his karma that he may be cured. Naturally, it may be in his karma that the disease cannot be cured; but, when considering an illness, karma never under any circumstance says that it must run a certain course in a fatalistic sense, it can be cured or it cannot be cured. Now, anyone who has earnestly taken up Spiritual Science acquires an instinctive feeling which helps him to oppose the illness and its weakening effect with the proper remedy. That which in the ordinary way is experienced as the result of the illness in the spiritual world works back into the soul, and, in so far as one is still in the physical body, it acts as instinct. One either succumbs to the illness or finds within oneself the way to the forces of healing. When the clairvoyant consciousness finds the right remedy for an illness, it happens in the following way: such a clairvoyant is able to call up before him the picture of the illness. Let us suppose that he has the picture before him of the illness which approaches a person in such or such a way and has a weakening effect on him. Owing to his clairvoyant consciousness there appears to him the counterpart of the illness, namely, the corresponding feeling of health, and the strengthening which springs from this feeling. That which can now happen to man in the spiritual world as the corresponding cure for that from which he is suffering in the physical world, is perceived by the clairvoyant. Through this the clairvoyant is enabled to advise the man for his good. Indeed, one need not even be a fully developed clairvoyant, but this may appear to one instinctively from seeing the picture of the illness. But the cause of that which to clairvoyant consciousness appears as compensation in the spiritual world, belongs to the picture of the illness as much as the swing of a pendulum to one side belongs to the swing to the other side.
From this example you will see how the physical plane is related to the spiritual world and how fruitful for the guidance of our life here the knowledge of the spiritual world may be.
Let us go back once more to the first concrete fact we mentioned, namely: that just as nature surrounds us on the physical plane, so what is spiritual, wisdom-filled spirit, surrounds us in the spiritual world and is always there. Now, if you understand this thoroughly, an extremely important light is cast on what takes place in the spiritual world. In the physical world we may pass by objects and observe them in such a way that we may ask: What is the principle or nature of this object? What is the law of this Being, or this process? Or, on the other hand, we may pass stupidly by and ask nothing at all. We shall never learn anything intelligently on the physical plane if we are not impelled, as it were, by the object itself to ask questions, if these objects do not present problems which we recognise as such. By merely looking at objects and processes, we should never on the physical plane arrive at being a soul that guides itself. On the spiritual plane this is different. On the physical plane we put our questions to objects and processes, and we have to make efforts to investigate them in order to find the answer to our questions from the things themselves. On the spiritual plane things and Beings surround us spiritually and they question us, not we them. They are there and we stand before them and are continually being questioned by them. We must now have the power to draw from the infinite ocean of wisdom the answer to these questions. We have not to seek the answers in the objects and processes, but in ourselves; for the objects question us; all around us are objects questioning us.
At this point the following comes under consideration. Let us suppose that we confront some process or some Being in the spiritual world; inevitably it asks us a question. We cannot approach it without its doing so. We stand there with our wisdom, but we are unable to develop sufficient will, sufficient feeling-will, or willing-feeling to give the answer from out this wisdom, although we know that the answer is within us. Our inner being is infinitely deep; all answers are within us — but we are unable really to give the answer. The consequence of this is that we rush past on the stream of time and fail to give the answer at the proper time, because we have not gained the capacity — perhaps through our previous evolution — we have not become mature enough to answer the question when the time comes for it to be answered. We have developed too slowly with respect to what we ought to answer; we can only give the answer later. But the opportunity does not recur; we have missed it. We have not made use of all our opportunities. Thus we pass by objects and events without answering them. We have experiences such as this continually in the spiritual world. Thus it may come about, that in our life between death and rebirth we stand before a Being which questions us. We have not developed ourselves sufficiently in our earthly life and the intervening spiritual life, to give the answer when we are asked. We have to pass on; we have to enter into our next incarnation. The consequence of this is that we must receive the impulse once more, in our next incarnation, through the good Gods, without being conscious of it, so that we shall not pass by the next time when the same question is asked. This is how things come to pass.
I have often mentioned that the further we go back in human evolution the more do we find that humanity did not then possess our present mentality, but had a kind of clairvoyance on the physical plane. Our present mental outlook developed from a dull, dreamy clairvoyance. The more primitive and elementary the stages of mental development of some races still are, the closer connection we find in their thought and feeling to this original clairvoyance. Although the primitive atavistic clairvoyance is becoming less and less frequent, we still find in unexplored regions of the earth people who have preserved something from former times, so that we still find echoes of the ancient days of clairvoyance. This clairvoyance reveals — although in a dim, dreamy form, because it is a seeing into the spiritual world — it reveals peculiarities which reappear in the developed clairvoyance; only in the latter case it is not dim and dreamy, but clear and distinct. Spiritual Science shows us that when a man of the present time goes through life between death and rebirth, he has progressively to answer the questioning Beings more and more at the proper time; for on his power to answer depends his true development, and his approach to the ideal of the Gods — the perfect man. As we have already said, in former times people had this experience in the domain of dreams and we have the remains of it in a great number of fairy-tales and sagas. These are gradually disappearing, but they run somewhat as follows. A certain person meets a spiritual Being. This Being repeatedly questions him and he has to answer. And he knows that he must give the answer by a certain time, when the clock strikes, or something of that sort. This ‘question motif’ in fairy-tales and sagas is very widespread and is a form of dreamlike clairvoyant consciousness which now reappears in the spiritual world, in the way have described. On the whole, the description of what takes place in the spiritual world provides in all cases a valuable clue to the understanding of myths, sagas, fairy-tales, etc., and enables us to place them where they belong. This is a point which shows that everywhere, even in the mental culture of the present day, evolution is standing, as it were, at the door of Spiritual Science.
It is very interesting, that a book such as the one by my friend Ludwig Laistner, The Riddle of the Sphinx, which in many respects is a good and well-intentioned book, is unsatisfactory, because in order to be satisfactory, the ‘question motif’, with which Ludwig Laistner specially deals, would have had to be treated from the basis of occult knowledge; the author would have had to know something about the truths of occult science which enter here.
Bearing these examples in mind, we see that the conditions in the spiritual world depend upon something quite definite. In the spiritual world it is not a case of gathering knowledge as we do here; it is even a case of diminished knowledge and changing the force of knowledge into life-force. One cannot be an investigator in the spiritual world in the same sense as one can in the physical world; that would be an absurdity, for there a person is able to know everything, it is all round about him. The question is whether he is able to develop his will and his feeling, in contradistinction to his knowledge, whether in individual cases he is able to bring forth from the treasure of his will sufficient power to make use of his wisdom; otherwise he is stifled by or drowned in it. Whereas in the physical world wisdom depends on thinking, in the spiritual world it depends upon the adequate development of the will, the feeling-will, the will which brings forth reality out of wisdom, which becomes a kind of creative power. There we have Spirit as here we have Nature, and our task is to lead Spirit to Nature. A beautiful statement is contained in the theosophical literature of the first half of the nineteenth century, a statement made by Oetinger, who lived at Murrhardt, in Wurtemburg, and who was so far advanced in his own spiritual development that at certain times he was able quite consciously to help spiritual beings, that is, souls who were not on the physical plane. He made the remarkable statement which is very beautiful and very true: ‘Nature and the form of nature is the aim of spiritual creative power.’ What I have just brought down to you from the spiritual world is contained in this sentence. In the spiritual world creative power strives to give reality to that which at first heaves and surges in wisdom. Here, we bring forth wisdom from the physical reality; there we do the reverse. Our task there is to produce realities from wisdom, to carry out in living realities the wisdom we find there. The goal of the Gods is reality in form.
Thus we see that it depends upon will permeated with feeling, or feeling-filled-will being changed into creative force; this we must employ in the spiritual world in the same way as here in the physical world we have to employ great mental efforts in order to arrive at wisdom.
Now, in order that this should be possible, it is very important that we should develop our feeling and thinking in the right way, that we should prepare ourselves here on the physical plane in a manner which is right for the present cycle of evolution; for all that takes place in the spiritual world between death and rebirth is the result of what takes place in the physical world between birth and death. It is indeed true, that conditions are so different in the spiritual world that we have to acquire entirely fresh conceptions and ideas if we wish to understand them, but all the same the two are connected like cause and effect. We only understand the connection between what is spiritual and what is physical, when we recognise it really as the connection of cause and effect. We have to prepare ourselves while in the physical world and we might therefore now consider the question: How, at the present age, can we prepare ourselves in the right way, so that — whether we enter the spiritual world through initiation or through death — we shall really possess the spiritual power necessary to draw what we have need of from the wisdom that is there — so that we may bring forth realities from this surging flowing wisdom. Whence comes such power? It is important that these questions should be answered in a manner adapted to our present age. In the age when mankind thought in such a way, that the origin of what I have called the ‘Saga motiv’ resulted, the case was different; but from whence comes this soul-force in the present age?
In order that we arrive at the answer to this, may I bring forward the following?
We can study the various philosophies and inquire as to how philosophers arrive at the idea of God — there are, of course, philosophers who have sufficient spiritual depth to be convinced from the existence of the world that we may speak of a Divine Being who pervades it. In the nineteenth century we need only take Lotze, who tried to produce in his religious philosophy something that was in harmony with the rest of his philosophy. Others too were sufficiently profound to have with all their philosophy a sort of religious philosophy also. We find one peculiarity in all these philosophers, a very definite peculiarity. They think to reach Divinity with ideas gathered from the physical plane; they reflect, they investigate in a philosophical manner, and come to the conclusion — as is the case with Lotze — that the phenomena and beings of the world are held together by a divine First Cause which pervades all and brings all into a certain harmony. But when we go more minutely into the ideas of these religious philosophers, we find that they always have one peculiarity. They arrive at a Divine Being who pervades all; and when we consider this Divine Being more closely, this God of the philosophers, we find that it is approximately the God called in the Hebrew, or rather, the Christian religion ‘God the Father’. Thus far do the philosophers go; they observe Nature and are profound enough not to deny everything Divine in an empty-headed, materialistic way; they can arrive at Divinity, but it is God the Father.
One can demonstrate most exactly, after studying these philosophers, that mere philosophy, as thinking philosophy, can lead nowhere but to a monotheistic Father-God.
If in the case of individual philosophers, such as Hegel and others, Christ is mentioned; it does not spring from philosophy — this can be proved — it comes from positive religion. These people have known that positive religion possesses the Christ and therefore they can speak of Him. The difference is, that the Father-God can be found through philosophy, but Christ cannot be found by any philosophy, by any method of thought. That is quite impossible.
That is a statement which I suggest you should weigh well and consider; if rightly understood it leads us far into the most important probings and strivings of the human soul. It is connected with something which is expressed in the Christian religion in a very beautiful, symbolic and pictorial manner; namely, that the relation of this other God, Christ, to the Father-God is understood as the relation of the Son to the Father. That is a very significant fact, although it is only a symbol. It is interesting to notice that Lotze, for example, cannot make anything out of it. ‘One cannot take this symbol literally, that is obvious,’ says Lotze. He means that one God cannot be the son of another. But there is something very striking in this symbol. Between father and son the relationship is something like that between cause and effect; for in a certain way one may see the father is the cause of the son. The son would not exist if the father were not there — like cause and effect. But we must take into account one peculiar thing, namely, that a man who eventually may have a son, may also have the possibility of not having a son, he may be childless. He would still be the same man. The cause is the man A, the effect is the man B, the son; but the effect need not come about, the effect is a free act, and follows as a free act from the cause. For this reason, when we study a cause considering it in connection with its effect, we must not merely inquire into the nature of the cause, for by this we have done nothing at all; but we must inquire whether the cause also really causes; that is the important question. Now a characteristic of all philosophy is that it follows a line of thought, it develops one thought out of another; it seeks for what follows in that which has gone before. Philosophers are justified in doing this; but in this way we never arrive at the connection which comes about when we call to mind the fact that the cause need not cause at all. The cause remains the same in its own nature whether it causes or not. That changes nothing in the nature of the cause. And this important fact is presented to us in the symbol of God the Father and God the Son: this important fact, that the Christ is added to the Father-God, as a free creation, as a creation which does not follow in due course, but which emerges as a free act alongside the previous creation and which also had the possibility not to be; the Christ is therefore not given to the world because the Father had to give the Son to the world, but the Son is given to the world as a free act, through grace, through freedom, through love, which when it creates, gives freely. For this reason we can never arrive at God the Son, the Christ, through the same kind of truth by which the philosophers arrive at God the Father. In order to arrive at Christ it is necessary to add the truth of faith to the philosophical truth, or — as the age of faith is declining more and more — to add the other truth which is obtained through clairvoyant investigation, which likewise only develops in the human soul as a free act.
Thus from the ordered processes of nature it may be demonstrated that there is a God; but it can never be proved by external means from the chain of causes and effects that there is a Christ. Christ exists and can pass by human souls if they do not feel in themselves the power to say: That is Christ! An active up-rousing of the impulse for truth is required in order to recognise Christ in that which was there as Christ. We can arrive at the other truths which lie in the realm of the Father-God, if we merely devote ourselves to thought and follow it consecutively; for to be a materialist means at the same time to be illogical. Religious philosophy according to Lotze, and religious philosophy in general, has its origin in the fact that through thought we can rise to this Divinity of religious philosophy. But never can we be led to recognise Christ merely through philosophy; this must be our own free act. In this case only two things are possible; we either follow faith to its ultimate conclusions, or we make a beginning with the investigation of the spiritual world, Spiritual Science. We follow faith to its ultimate conclusion when we say with the Russian philosopher Solovioff: ‘With regard to all the philosophical truths man gains about the world, to which his logic forces him, he does not stand related as to a free truth. The higher truth is that to which we are not forced, which is our free act, the highest truth won by faith.’ Solovioff reaches his highest point when he says: ‘The higher truth, that which recognises Christ, is the truth which works as a free act, which is not forced.’ To the spiritual investigator and to those who understand Spiritual Science, knowledge comes; but this is an active knowledge which rises from thought to Meditation, Inspiration and Intuition, which becomes inwardly creative, which, when creative, participates in spiritual worlds and thereby becomes similar to what we have to develop when we enter into the spiritual world, whether we do so through initiation or through death.
The wisdom which we acquire with such difficulty on earth, surrounds us in all its fullness and wealth in the spiritual world — just as nature surrounds us here on the physical plane.
The important thing in the spiritual world is that we should have the impulse, the power, to make something out of this wisdom, to produce from it reality. To create freely through wisdom, to bring about something spiritual as fact, must become a living impulse in us. This impulse can only be ours if we find the right relationship to Christ. Christ is not a Being who can be proved by external brain-bound logic, but who proves Himself, who realises Himself in us as we acquire spiritual knowledge. Just as Spiritual Science joins up with other science as a free act, so knowledge about Christ is added to us as soon as we approach the world into which we enter through spiritual investigation, or through death. If in our present age we seek to enter the spiritual world aright, that is to say, if we wish to die to the physical world, our attitude to the world must be that attitude which is only gained when we relate ourselves to Christ in the right way. Through the observation of nature we can attain to a God who is like ‘God the Father’ of the Christian religion, Him we find through the observation of what is around us when we live in the physical body; but to understand Christ aright, apart from tradition and revelation, from pure knowledge alone, is only possible through Spiritual Science. It leads into the realm which man enters by dying — whether it be that dying which is a symbolical dying, the going forth from the physical body in order to know oneself in the soul outside the body, or the other dying, the passing through the portal of death. We provide ourselves with the right impulses to pass through the portal of death, when we find the true relationship to Christ. The moment when death takes place, whether it comes about through Spiritual Science or whether we actually go through the portal of death, the moment it comes to dying, to leaving the physical body, the important thing in the present cycle of time is that we should confront in the right way the Being Who has come into the world, in order that we may find connection with Him. God the Father we can find during life; we find the Christ when we understand the entering into the Spirit, when we understand dying in the right way.
In Christ we die
IN CHRISTO MORIMUR