Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Regarding Human Reincarnation

Rudolf Steiner:  "The spiritual science that the author of this book has in mind points to a form of experience that the soul can have independent from the body, and in this experience an individual entity is revealed. It emerges like a higher human nature for whom the physical man is like a tool. The being that feels itself as set free, through spiritual experience, from the physical body, is a spiritual human entity that is as much at home in a spiritual world as the physical body in the physical world. As the soul thus experiences its spiritual nature, it is also aware of the fact that it stands in a certain relation to the body. The body appears, on the one hand, as a cast of the spiritual entity; it can be compared to the shell of a snail that is like a counter-picture of the shape of the snail. On the other hand, the spirit-soul entity appears in the body like the sum total of the forces in the plant, which, after it has grown into leaf and blossom, contract into the seed in order to prepare a new plant. One cannot experience the inner spiritual man without knowing that he contains something that will develop into a new physical man. This new human being, while living within the physical organism, has collected forces through experience that could not unfold as long as they were encased in that organism. This body has, to be sure, enabled the soul to have experiences in connection with the external world that make the inner spiritual man different from what he was before he began life in the physical body. But this body is, as it were, too rigidly organized for being transformed by the inner spiritual man according to the pattern of the new experiences. Thus there remains hidden in the human shell a spiritual being that contains the disposition of a new man.
Thoughts such as these can only be briefly indicated here. They point to a spiritual science that is essentially constructed after the model of natural science. In elaborating this spiritual science one will have to proceed more or less like the botanist when he observes a plant, the formation of its root, the growth of its stem and its leaves, and its development into blossom and fruit. In the fruit he discovers the seed of the new plant-life. As he follows the development of a plant he looks for its origin in the seed formed by the previous plant. The investigator of spiritual science will trace the process in which a human life, apart from its external manifestation, develops also an inner being. He will find that external experiences die off like the leaves and the flowers of a plant. Within the inner being, however, he will discover a spiritual kernel, which conceals within itself the potentiality of a new life. In the infant entering life through birth he will see the return of a soul that left the world previously through the gate of death. He will learn to observe that what is handed down by heredity to the individual man from his ancestors is merely the material that is worked upon by the spiritual man in order to bring into physical existence what has been prepared seedlike in a preceding life.
Seen from the viewpoint of this world conception, many facts of psychology will appear in a new light. A great number of examples could be mentioned here; it will suffice to point out only one. One can observe how the human soul is transformed by experiences that represent, in a certain sense, repetitions of earlier experiences. If somebody has read an important book in his twentieth year and reads it again in his fortieth, he experiences it as if he were a different person. If he asks without bias for the reason for this fact, he will find that what he learned from his reading twenty years previous has continued to live in him and has become a part of his nature. He has within him the forces that live in the book, and he finds them again when he rereads the book at the age of forty. The same holds true with our life experiences. They become part of man himself. They live in his “ego.” But it is also apparent that within the limits of one life this inner strengthening of the higher man must remain in the realm of his spirit and soul nature. Yet one can also find that this higher human being strives to become strong enough to find expression in his physical nature. The rigidity of the body prevents this from happening within a single lifespan. But in the central core of man there lives the potential predisposition that, together with the fruits of one life, will form a new human life in the same way that the seed of a new plant lives in the plant.
Moreover, it must be realized that following the entry of the soul into an independent spirit world the results of this world are raised into consciousness in the same way that the past rises into memory. But these realities are seen as extending beyond the span of an individual life. The content of my present consciousness represents the results of my earlier physical experiences; so, too, a soul that has gone through the indicated exercises faces the whole of its physical experience and the particular configuration of its body as originating from the spirit-soul nature, whose existence preceded that of the body. This existence appears as a life in a purely spiritual world in which the soul lived before it could develop the germinal capacities of a preceding life into a new one. Only by closing one's mind to the obvious possibility that the faculties of the human soul are capable of development can one refuse to recognize the truthfulness of a person's testimony that shows that as a result of inner work one can really know of a spiritual world beyond the realm of ordinary consciousness. This knowledge leads to a spiritual apprehension of a world through which it becomes evident that the true being of the soul lies behind ordinary experiences. It also becomes clear that this soul being survives death just as the plant seed survives the decay of the plant. The insight is gained that the human soul goes through repeated lives on earth and that in between these earthly lives it leads a purely spiritual existence.

  This point of view brings reality to the assumption of a spiritual world. The human souls themselves carry into a later cultural epoch what they acquired in a former. One can readily observe how the inner dispositions of the soul develop if one refrains from arbitrarily ascribing this development merely to the laws of physical heredity."

No comments:

Post a Comment