Saturday, October 24, 2020

An idea whose cromulence has come


It would help matters if more gals realized that most guys would fuck a woodpile on the chance there was a snake in it.

Friday, October 23, 2020

13 ways of looking at my guru. #3: The Spirit of Truth

Rudolf Steiner


Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  ~John 16:13-14

"You should be leading lives of joy   deep inner joy in the truth! There is nothing in the world more delightful, nothing more fascinating, than the experience of truth."  — Rudolf Steiner

Thursday, October 22, 2020

13 ways of looking at my guru. #7: The 7th Avatar : Rama


My guru, Swami Rama

Rudolf Steiner:  "Now Rama, the son of Parashu-Rama, appears as the seventh metamorphosis of the logos and in love he softened the hardness and strictness of the law, and the warriors loved the law in willing obedience. It was the first still-legendary ideal king of the people of ancient India and all other peoples."

Concerning the Astral World and Devachan, p. 116

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Forming Our Destiny


Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, November 18, 1915:

My first sad and heavy duty is to acquaint you with the fact that our dear friend, the leader of the Munich Lodge, Fraulein Stinde, now belongs to those whom we have to reckon to-day as the ‘Sphere-Beings.’ She left this physical plane yesterday evening. It is not possible just now to speak about this extremely severe and significant loss to our society. As a beginning to our consideration for to-day I will merely say these few words concerning this event, which is so painful and important to us.
Fraulein Stinde belongs to those who are certainly known to the greater number of our friends. She belongs to those who have grasped our matters in the deepest depths of their hearts and have completely identified themselves with them. In her house (and that of her friend the Grafin Kalckreuth) I was able as early as 1903 to give the first intimate lectures in our sphere, which I had to give in Munich. And one may say that from this first occasion when Fraulein Stinde approached us, she united with our aims not only her whole personality but the whole power of her work, so valuable, so excellent and influential. She forsook the artistic calling which was previously so dear to her, in order to put herself and her powers entirely at the service of our work, and since then she has worked intensely for this, in a rare, objective, quite impersonal manner, both in narrower and wider circles. She was the soul of our whole work in Munich. And she was one of those souls, of whom one could say, that through the inner qualities of her being she gave the very best guarantee that in Munich itself, our aims would be able to develop in the best possible manner. You know what an immense task was laid on all those persons helping in Munich in those early years, through the performances of the Mystery Plays and everything connected with them. Fraulein Stinde and her friend Grafin Kalckreuth gave themselves up absolutely to this work, and above all, it may be said, with the understanding created by the profound nature of their studies, and by the will which may itself be born of this. I may perhaps point out that the intense labour which Fraulein Stinde accomplished, really very considerably exhausted her life-strength in later years. It must be admitted that the valuable life-force which was perhaps too rapidly used up of late, was devoted to our cause in the most beautiful and deeply satisfactory manner. Probably no one among those who knew her most intimately, could help feeling that this personality was one of our very best workers. It is true many of the activities of Fraulein Stinde have been misunderstood, and it is to be hoped that the sun-like force that proceeded from her personality will presently be recognised, even by those of our friends and followers who through prejudice have misunderstood her work. And those of our wider circle who could observe all she did for our cause, will, in common with those more closely connected with her, preserve the most faithful recollection of her. We are sure that in her case we may quite specially emphasise the mantram which must often be uttered during these days in connection with the departure of many of our friends from the physical plane. It may be especially emphasised with reference to Fraulein Stinde, that amidst the many attacks and oppositions which our cause encounters in the world, we reckon on the help of those in the spiritual-world — we reckon on those who have only changed the form of their existence, and who, in spite of their passage through the gate of death, are still truly united with us in soul, and are most significant and important co-workers. The many veils which surround those still incarnate in the physical body, gradually fall away, and the souls of these dear departed friends — of this we are sure — work in our midst, and we specially need their help. We need the help of those no longer assailed from the physical plane, those who have no longer to consider the limits of the physical plane. If we have the deep and earnest belief in the success of our cause in the civilisation of the world, it is because we have the full consciousness that those who formerly belonged to us, are still our best forces, that they work among us from the spiritual world with spiritual means. The trust in our cause that we require, will often be strengthened by the knowledge that we must thank our departed friends for being in our midst in order that, by uniting our forces with theirs, we can accomplish the labour which is laid upon us for the spiritual civilisation of the world. I should now like to continue the considerations which we began to develop in our last lecture. Such times as our own, in which the enigma of death approaches the human soul in so many different forms — and on this we laid stress in our last lecture — urges us quite specially to investigate what man is certainly able to acquire regarding the spiritual world. Times like our own, in which humanity is exposed to such severe trials, are destined for the very purpose of leading the human soul to inquire as to the beings of the spiritual world. For who does not see at each step in what is happening to-day — and is happening in the greater part of the civilised world — who does not see at almost every stage the great riddle of Life confronting him? And who does not feel that great connections lie concealed behind such events as those occurring around us to-day and which, as they occur, convulse the souls and hearts of men with pain and sorrow, though fill them also with hope and confidence? Certainly, he who beholds the events of the world with but a short-sighted vision, will judge such far-reaching events by those which immediately precede and follow them. But one who externally, without entering into esoteric considerations, regards the course of cosmic events and compares earlier times with the present, will become conscious of how very much may be connected first with that, let us say, which in quite a different manner, runs its course later on in the Cosmos, as effect. Consider there are now many people who say: “The present events of the war are merely the results of external political opposition among the various nations and peoples.” Certainly, that is true, and there is no question of bringing forward anything in objection to the truth of such a conception in a limited sense; but, if we consider, for example, the wars which were waged in the beginning of the Middle Ages between the Central European peoples and those of South Europe and above all the peoples belonging to the Roman Empire, we must say that the wars which took place then in political strife also proceeded from the opposition, the political opposition which then existed; they had their causes in those oppositions in their immediate vicinity. These battles have now run their course. They have evoked certain configurations in the entire life of Europe. If we investigate but a little into history and consider what happened at that time through the battles of the Central European peoples with, let us say, the peoples of the Roman Empire, we shall come to the conclusion that out of the earlier configuration of the European World there has arisen a later one. But if we wish to estimate correctly the real point at issue, we must consider all the historical results. For these historical results which have occurred in Europe could not have arisen as they have, if those battles had ended the other way. And what was the consequence of this European History? The whole manner in which Christianity spread and grew in Europe is the result of it! And if we consider these deep connections we can say: In all that happened in the following centuries, the facts lie thus: the events of these centuries are karmically connected with their causes, the battles of those times. That means that the events to which we have alluded, are connected with the whole later configuration of the European World even in its spiritual relations. Just consider that in all its gravity, and you will admit that Christianity then spread in Europe and so fashioned itself, that through the youthful Germanic peoples opposing the Roman peoples who had now grown old, and through the uniting of their youthful forces with that which flowed into humanity as the announcement of Christianity, a certain European atmosphere was thereby created, into which the souls descending later were born. Thus the souls lived and developed in the following centuries, in accordance with these events. Thus we may say: If a man at that time had asserted: ‘How does that affect things? It is merely a political opposition between the nations of South and Central Europe,’ he would be right. But if another had said: ‘Just look, the configuration of the spiritual civilisation of all the following centuries will result from what is happening’ — he also would be right, and in a much deeper sense. If we seek the immediate causes of anything by pointing to the opposing forces nearest at hand, we do not therewith touch on the entire gravity of the occurrence. The affairs of this world are all very intimately connected. And if we require inner strengthening in order, as it were, to find the right forces for the support of our work, we need only remind ourselves that in a still smaller circle than our present one, were once seated together those who, when Christianity was first announced represented its great Cosmic Truths. I have already often used this comparison. But we shall apply it yet again to-day. There was a time which we can describe as follows: We see the old Roman Empire. We see it with its old philosophy. We see it living entirely in the atmosphere of the old heathen philosophy. We see this Empire with the people who in a sense formed the upper classes. And there below, truly more underneath than our ‘under’ signifies to-day — literally underneath, in the catacombs under the earth, we see the first small handful of Christians, possessing something quite foreign to the world-culture up above, but which they carried so deeply in their hearts that its force became truly cosmically creative. Let us picture to ourselves these catacombs. There, underneath in the catacombs, with their thoughts directed to the Christ-impulse, were the first Christians — and above, over their heads, the Romans, who behaved quite differently from the first Christians. You know all that, I need not relate it further. But if you picture two centuries later, how different everything appears! That which was above is swept away, and that which was venerated underground in secret has found its way to the surface! Certainly, the times and the forms in which such doings occur change; but the essential remains. Concerning those who to-day advocate the external scientific and spiritual culture it may be said — though this is not to be taken literally — they feel themselves above, and call that which is striven for in our circles, the philosophy of a few sectarians, derived from a few abnormal minds. But he who really penetrates the nature of these conceptions of ours and who above all permeates himself with them, may have the assurance that here too some day what is kept under will be on the top. Here then our thoughts may dwell on the transformed world which will arise out of these difficult times of ours, on the spiritual which mankind must learn to grasp. For there hardly exists a greater similarity in historical evolution, than that between our own times and that which played its part in the epoch when the old Roman culture was still above, and Christianity, tended by a few faithful souls, was still below.
I should like to point out — if I may do so without seeming narrow-minded through a too exact and pedantic reference to these things, for in these days we should be very broad indeed — that it is especially good to hold before the soul as imaginative pictures our own epoch and that of the Rome at the first appearance of Christianity.
Now, many who to-day oppose what we call Spiritual Science, cannot fail to feel the entirely different nature of that which Spiritual Science must advocate, in contradistinction to that which is otherwise upheld among the so-called ‘normal’ people of to-day. And here we need only observe, if we wish to understand this correctly, how the first announcement of Christianity was completely opposed to that which was upheld among the Romans, the normal men of those times: with such a thought we must make ourselves acquainted, for it is again and again leveled against us that with the accepted means of cognition man cannot reach worlds such as those with which we are concerned. We must really so grasp the more intimate work in our groups as to be able to say: This life in our groups is not useless. It is not without significance to this cause of ours, that we should meet together in such groups, and again and again renew, not only acquaintance with the theoretical results of our doctrine, which is not of importance, but also renew our warm feelings and sensations for the actual things and beings of the spiritual world. Thereby we accustom ourselves to that manner of psychic sensing and feeling which above all makes it possible for us to take up spiritual truths in a different way from those who are unprepared. In our group meetings there must occasionally be imparted to you something from the higher and later parts of spiritual knowledge. We cannot always start afresh from the beginning. But this intimacy within the life of the groups must make it possible for a number of our friends to take into themselves, into their souls, such things as I pointed out in the last lecture, namely, the special manner of verifying our spiritual knowledge, and of taking it into oneself. We cannot verify these things in the same manner as man does in the external world when he contacts things with his eyes: but he who has a feeling for such facts as I pointed out last time, will, even if he does not himself see into the spiritual world, feel that through the mutual support of spiritual truths the value of these truths is intensified. Therefore I shall yet again draw attention to the very significant fact that on the one side, through many years of study, the definite point of view is reached, that a third of our life between birth and death — in time — is again lived through after death; while now on the other side a quite different point of view is discovered — namely, that in reality we experience our sleep life in a special form during the time we call Kamaloka, and that this time also occupies a third of the life on the physical plane. These two points of view are quite independent of each other and have been discovered from different starting points. We have also shown on other occasions how, from three or four different points of view, one always comes to the same conclusion. Thus do the truths support each other. But for this, we must ourselves acquire the right feeling. This will produce something like a natural elemental feeling for the truth of this spiritual knowledge. I must often appeal to this, otherwise I could not give out the later and higher truths in the various group-meetings.
Last time we drew attention to the fact that the right connection of our Ego-consciousness between death and rebirth is, as it were, kindled through that panoramic review of our last earth-life which takes place after death. We go over our life again in a kind of tableau. You must quite clearly understand what a man there really beholds. We are here accustomed to stand on the physical plane, forming, in a sense, a kind of central point of our cosmic horizon, and we see the world around us which makes an impression on our senses. In normal life on the physical plane, we do not look into ourselves, we turn our gaze outwards. Now, if we want to form an idea of the life immediately following death, it is important to keep in mind that this gaze on the panorama of life is absolutely different from the perception we are accustomed to use on the physical plane. On the physical plane we look out of ourselves and regard the world as our environment. ‘We are here, we look outwards, and not into ourselves.’ Immediately after death we have a few days in which our field of vision is filled with that which we have undergone between birth and death. We then look within from the circumference to the centre. We regard our own life in its chronological course. Whereas we usually say: ‘Here are we and everything else is outside us’ ... immediately after death we have the consciousness that this distinction between us and the world does not exist. For we look from the circumference on to our own life, which for these few days is our world. In ordinary perception on the physical plane we behold hills, houses, rivers, trees, etc., so, in the same way, we see that which we have undergone in life from a certain personal standpoint, as our own immediate world. And because we see it, that gives the starting point for the maintenance of the Ego through the entire life between death and rebirth. It is that which strengthens and invigorates the soul, so that between death and rebirth it always knows: ‘I am an Ego!’ Here in physical life we realise our Ego through the fact — which I have often pointed out — that we stand in a certain relation to our body. Consider: if you reflect closely on a dream you will say: In the dream you have no clear feeling of the Ego, but often a feeling of separation. That is because man here on the physical plane only really feels his Ego through contact with his body. You can represent it very crudely thus: If you move your finger through the air — there is nothing there! Move it further — there is still nothing. When you touch something, however, in coming against something, you know of yourself, you become aware of yourself. We are thereby made aware of our Ego. Not the Ego itself is aroused — the Ego is a Being — but the consciousness of the Ego. The opposition makes us aware of our Self. Thus we are Ego-conscious in the physical body because of our living in it. For this reason we have received the physical body. In the life between death and rebirth we have an Ego-consciousness, because we have received the forces which proceed from the vision of the previous life. We come to a certain extent in contact with that which the world of space gives us and thereby win our Ego-consciousness for the life between birth and death. We come in contact with that which we ourselves have experienced between birth and death in the last life, and thereby have our Ego-consciousness for the life between death and rebirth.
There now follows the quite different life which occupies a third of the time of the life between birth and death, and which is usually called the Kamaloka life. This life follows. It is of such a nature that we may say a widening of our vision appears. While during the first few days our vision is really directed only to our self, to our past life, not to the personality — this, as time goes on, becomes quite different. Certainly the power of knowing oneself as an Ego remains. But there now appears, and you can gather for yourselves, from the lectures and books, what I am about to say — there now appears something quite peculiar, to which man has first to accustom himself, because the whole method of perceiving in that world is quite different from what it is here on the physical plane. A great part of that which man has to undergo after death consists in inwardly accommodating himself to a different mode of perception. Here we have nature around us. What we here regard in the physical world as nature is absolutely nonexistent in that world which is ours between death and rebirth. To see nature here we have our physical eyes, ears, and the whole physical apparatus of perception. And this nature as it exists with its fullness of colour and other characteristics could not be perceived by other, different organs of perception. Therefore we are endowed with a physical body, that we may be able to perceive nature. After death, in the place of what is here around us as nature, we have around us the spiritual world which we describe as the world of the hierarchies and world of pure being, of pure soul. Not matter or substance or objects which have colour, but pure being. That is the essential point. Therefore naturally the astonishment is greatest for those souls who denied the spirit while here in physical life. For those, who deny the spirit and believe nothing of the spiritual, are placed in a world which they have denied, and which is completely unknown to them. They have compulsorily to live in a world whose existence they actually refused to admit.
Thus we are encompassed by a spiritual environment of pure being, of pure soul. And now gradually emerge souls, fashioning themselves out of this universal soul-world, for at first there are souls everywhere — souls whom we do not recognise. We know they are all souls, but we do not recognise them individually; and gradually the individual souls appear more distinctly and concretely. And especially at this time appear those souls with whom we have lived here on the physical plane, the souls of men with whom we have lived here. While we face this fullness of souls we learn to know among whom we are: this soul is so and so, that soul is someone else, and so on. We make acquaintance with these souls. First of all we must recognise the fact that the whole relation in which we stand to the world then, between death and rebirth, is essentially different, in yet other respects to the relation in which we stand here on the physical plane. Here we say that the world is outside us; after death we have really the consciousness that the world is within us. Just imagine that for a moment here, on the earth, you were to dissolve entirely, that you were to vanish into vapour. The vaporous cloud which is you spreads out more and more and only ceases to spread further when it reaches the firmament. It expands, but it can get no further. Let us consider for a moment the firmament as a being. You then feel yourself as this firmament and now see everything within it; thus you stand outside with your consciousness and see the world inside. You feel yourself in such a way that everything that appears is within you. Just as here a pain is inside us, in like manner after death beings appear in us as inner experience. That brings about the infinite intimacy of the experiences between death and rebirth, the fact of being so bound together with them that we actually have them as our own inner experiences. And here there is a certain distinction. Consider such a soul as I have instanced, which one begins to recognise and of which all one can know at first is: ‘Yes, it is there, but it has no form. It is not yet perceptible, but it is there.’ To make it perceptible one has to accomplish an inner activity, an activity somewhat like the following: Let us suppose ourselves placed in the spiritual. If I feel behind me something which I do not see, the following idea arises in me: It is there, but I must accomplish an activity in order to get some conception of it. I may say it is comparable to touching a thing so as to get an idea of it. This inner activity is necessary if the imagination is to appear. I know the being is there, but I have first to create the imagination by uniting myself inwardly with the being. That is the one way in which man can perceive souls. The other manner is this: that one does not oneself accomplish this inner activity with such intensity, but it arises of its own accord. It appears without one's having very much to do with it. It is somewhat like our perception of something here, only of course it is transferred into the spiritual. And this distinction can exist between two souls. Of the one, man receives a perception through being very active himself; of the other, through an imagination arising out of itself. You only need be attentive to recognise this distinction. For if you become acquainted with a soul that requires more activity to be perceived; that is the soul of one who has died. But a soul that appears more of its own accord is a soul which is incarnate here on the earth in a physical body. These distinctions are really there. Man stands — with a few exceptions, which we can mention at the proper time — man stands in union after death both with the souls who have died and those who are still here on earth. And the distinction lies in a man's knowing which kind of soul he has to deal with; he knows he must be active or passive, according to the way in which there arises the imagination of the soul which he faces.
Now, there is one idea, one characteristic, which has indeed been expressed many times already, but which we will once more bring forward in connection with the life which occupies a third of the earth-life just elapsed, and which we are accustomed to call the life in Kamaloka. If you are living here on the earth and somebody strikes you, you are aware of it. You perceive it, and say: he has struck me. And as a rule it makes a difference whether somebody hits you, or whether you hit him, and if you hear something said by someone, you have not the same experience as when you yourself say something. All this is quite reversed in Kamaloka life, in which we live our life backwards between death and rebirth. To use this rough illustration it is then as follows. If you have given anybody a blow in life, you feel what the other person felt through the blow. If you have injured another through a word, you experience the feeling you caused him. Thus you feel the experience of the other soul. In other words, you experience the results brought about by your own deeds. We experience in this journey backwards everything which other people have experienced through us during our life here, between birth and death. If you have lived here between birth and death with many hundreds of men, these men have experienced something through you. But here in physical life you cannot feel that which those others felt and experienced through you, you only experience what they make you go through. After death this is reversed, and it is essential that we should experience everything in this review which others have suffered through us. Thus we undergo the effects of the last earth existence, and the task of these years really lies in our experiencing them. Now, while we are undergoing these effects, the experience is transformed in us into forces, and it happens in the following manner: Suppose I have offended a man, who has thereby suffered bitterly. During Kamaloka I now experience this bitterness myself. I go through it as my own experience. And while I now experience it, it makes good in me the force which must work as opposition; that is, while I undergo this bitterness, I create in myself the force to wipe away from the world this bitterness. I thus realise all the effects of my deeds and thereby absorb the force to wipe them away. And during this time in Kamaloka — which lasts a third of the earth-life — I absorb all the forces which may be expressed as an intense longing in the now disembodied soul, to remove everything which destroys perfection by retarding the soul's evolution. If you ponder over this you will see that man himself makes his own Karma, that is, that he has in himself the wish to become such that everything undesirable may be wiped out. Thus is Karma prepared, during this particular time. We incorporate into our souls the force which we must take up between death and rebirth, in order to bring about in the next incarnation that configuration of our life which we are able to regard as the right one. This is how Karma is created. In order to understand these things aright — not only theoretically but so to grasp them that they may penetrate deeply into our forces of feeling and willing — we must be clear that the whole mode of feeling common to the dead is absolutely different from that of the living. The living may very easily say, ‘I pity this or that dead man because he has to suffer something from which he cannot escape!’ But suppose he has terribly wronged another and can do nothing to put it right, you may perhaps feel sorry for the dead man, but that is quite uncalled for; for he desires nothing more than to be able to evolve the forces whereby he can balance the wrong. That is the very thing which he regards as precious. You would thus be wishing that he should not reach what he himself most longs for. To attain this he must undergo all the aforesaid suffering, for the positive develops out of the negative. Through insight into that which we have done, we develop the power of making compensation.
Thus we may say that at the end of this Kamaloka period a man has already determined, in accordance with his last life and its recapitulation, how he will enter the next incarnation in his existence; and in what relation he will stand to this or that person in order to compensate this or that. There we actually determine our Karma for the life we are to enter.
The first part of our time is spent in assimilating from the spiritual world the forces through which we can build up humanity in general, and through which we can form for ourselves a body suitable for our own individuality. First we have the plan of our Karma. Then we must fashion the human body to this end. That requires a much longer time, and takes place later on. Now, you can see from this that the essential of the time in Kamaloka lies in the fact that it gives us the possibility of ethically preparing our next incarnation in the right manner. We must be quite clear that each following incarnation depends on the earlier ones. We see how our following incarnations are prepared. And we see that the entire mode of a man's life depends on the way in which he went through his former life. The objection is raised by persons who have not yet fully considered the matter, that this contradicts a man's freedom. I will return to this later — it does not contradict freedom.
If we thus observe individual persons in life we find that they are very, very different; no matter how many men there are on the earth, they are all different. Yet one may distinguish categories. There are, for instance, men who so behave that from their earliest youth we can see that as individuals they are specially suited for this, or that. As you know, there are such people. Even in childhood we can predict that they will accomplish some definite purpose. They thrust themselves into it, as it were. They possess activity. They have a special task, because they develop force for this end. Others we find who are interested in many things but have no definite inclination to any one thing. They take up many things. Perhaps later in life they may come to a definite task which is not specially suited to them; they might perhaps have been able to do something else quite as well. In short, people are quite different one from another in reference to the way in which they act in life. And this really makes life possible. There are men, for example, who enter life, and who do not seem to have much to do, externally. But they need only speak a word or two to have an influence on people. Such men work more through their inner being. Others work more externally. That is intimately connected with the manner in which they have lived through their previous incarnation. There are persons who die in early youth — before the age of thirty-five — in order to have these very limitations. Such men with regard to their death in this incarnation are in a quite different position from those who die after the age of thirty-five. One who dies before the age of thirty-five still stands nearer to the world from which he descended at birth. This thirty-fifth year is an important boundary. One then crosses a bridge, as it were. The world out of which a man has descended then withdraws, and he produces a new spiritual world from his inner being. It is important that we should distinguish this. And now suppose a man dies before the age of thirty-five. On reincarnating, those forces develop in him which he did not use in the years which would have followed his thirty-fifth year. Such men, who before the thirty-fifth year go through death in this way in one incarnation, thereby economise for the next incarnation certain forces, which would have been exhausted if they had lived till fifty, sixty or seventy years of age. The forces which they thus saved are added to those with which they incarnate in the next life. Thereby such souls are born into bodies through which they are in a position, especially in their youth, to confront life with strong impressions. In other words: when such souls, who in their last incarnation died before the thirty-fifth year, reincarnate again, everything makes a strong impression on them. They are deeply stirred by things, they enjoy things deeply, they have living feelings and are easily urged to impulses of will. They are those who take a strong position in life, and who receive a mission. A man does not die without cause before his thirty-fifth year; he will thereby receive a quite definite mission in his next life. These things are complex, and death before the age of thirty-five may also bring about other things — it is not absolute law, for these are only examples. But when a man dies after thirty-five it happens that in his next life he does not receive such strong impressions from the things in his surroundings. He cannot easily be stirred or roused. He becomes acquainted more slowly but more intimately with things, and he thus prepares himself for a life in his next incarnation in which he will work more through his inner nature, without being so definitely guided to a special task in life. He will so stand in life, that he would perhaps have preferred some other task, and is diverted from it in order to accomplish something perhaps absolutely against his will. Because through the previous earth incarnation he had accustomed himself to work more delicately, he can now be used in a wider sphere. And if a man — I have already mentioned this case earlier — if a man is led in very early youth through the gate of death, let us say in his eleventh, twelfth, or thirteenth year of life, he then has but a short time in Kamaloka. But he remains very, very near the world which he forsook at physical birth. Everything appears different. After a life ending with the twelfth year, there follows the usual retrospect during the first days after death, but it takes place in such a manner that it appears more from outside. Whereas if a man dies at the age of fifty, sixty or seventy, he himself must do much more to bring about this retrospect. It must be brought about by his own activity. And because they have to experience this life after death in so many various ways, men are thereby differently prepared for their next life. It may be that in one life a man is especially active. Now, if an especially active man is summoned from life at an early age, it would then occur that in his next life his Karma would appoint him to a quite definite task in life, which he would certainly accomplish. He would be as if predestined. If, however, a man is especially active in one life and lives to a good old age, these forces are then intensified inwardly. He has then in his next life a more complicated task. Outer activity withdraws, and there appears in the soul the necessity to evolve inner activity.
Thus the life of man is complex as it develops from incarnation to incarnation. We shall continue these considerations in the next lecture. Now, I should like to conclude by saying one thing: When you face a whole epoch such as ours, in which in a relatively short time an exceptional number of men are led in abnormal fashion through the gates of death, then through this something quite exceptional is being prepared. And it was necessary that this should be prepared. You see each year how the time of blossoming comes to the world in intervals. If you look back in history you can also say that even there the blossoms appear at intervals. A great time of blossoming was the epoch of Lessing, Herder, Schiller, Fichte, Goethe. It is as if there was then a gathering of geniuses for a time, and it then ceased. And thus the world progresses in leaps. Such intervals of genius are recorded, and then these things change again. In the spiritual realms too, we have a blossoming, a special sprouting, at intervals. Now, in our days we have an interval of decay in the physical realm. Here you have again two things which you can place as pictures, side by side, and which as pictures are tremendously significant. Great physical decay — which is the seed for a later significant spiritual blossoming. Things have always two sides. From this standpoint, ever seeking again and again force and consolation — but also gaining confidence in our hopes — let us once more repeat in reference to our times, and from the consciousness of our spiritual science:
From the fighters' courage,
From the blood of battles,
From the mourners' suffering,
From the people's sacrifice,
There will ripen fruits of Spirit
If with consciousness the soul
Turns her thought to Spirit Realms.

Ye shall know them by their fruits


 "Walruses are like prisons." ~Fooko G'joob


"You should be leading lives of joy   deep inner joy in the truth! There is nothing in the world more delightful, nothing more fascinating, than the experience of truth."  — Rudolf Steiner

"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice."  — Philippians 4:4

"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad"  — Matthew 5:12

Goethe:  "To what avail is all expenditure and labor of suns and planets and moons, of stars and galaxies, of comets and of nebulae, and of completed and still growing worlds, if not at last a happy man rejoices in his existence?”

Life is an open book — read it and weep for joy

Life is an ever-opening gift.
Rudolf Steiner:  "May my soul bloom in love for all existence."

"This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." 
— Psalm 118:24

Be the Banjoy!

My dharma is penance. So my natural view is that the world is a penitentiary — WHICH IS CAUSE FOR REJOICING! As my dharma reading says: "make space for there to be joy in the penance — the ability for recompense."

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Forming of Destiny and Life after Death


Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, November 16, 1915:

My dear friends, 

This evening, when to my deep satisfaction I can be with you again after long absence, let our first thoughts be once more directed to the fields where the great events of our time are taking place, where so many of our dear brothers in humanity have to enter with their own life and soul for what the tasks of this time are requiring of them:
Spirits ever watchful, Guardians of their souls!
May your vibrations waft
To the Earth-men committed to your charge
Our souls' petitioning love:
That, united with your power,
Our prayer may helpfully radiate
To the souls it lovingly seeks.
And for those who in consequence of these events have already passed thro' the gate of death:
Spirits ever watchful, Guardians of their souls!
May your vibrations waft
To the Men of the Spheres committed to your charge
Our souls' petitioning love:
That, united with your power,
Our prayer may helpfully radiate
To the souls it lovingly seeks!
And that Spirit whom we are seeking thro' the deepening of Spiritual Science — the Spirit with whom we desire to unite, who descended on to the Earth and passed thro' earthly Death for the salvation of mankind, for the healing, progress and freedom of the Earth — may He be at your side in all your difficult duties.
N.B. — These Meditations were repeated at the beginning of each Lecture of this Course.
After a long absence I am able to be again in your midst, and I should like especially to devote the three lectures of this week to directing our gaze to a knowledge of the spiritual world, which stands more or less in close connection with those significant and deeply incisive events of our time which touch us so deeply. Our attention should not be turned immediately to the events themselves, but to what perhaps in everyone, in the feeling of us all, is connected with these events, like riddles, like uneasy questions concerning the destiny of man and the Cosmos. Our attention must be turned to this: to that wider destiny of the human soul, to which it is subject in that region of Cosmic existence to which the gaze of Spiritual Science is also directed, and which is not limited to earthly material existence. We are very much tempted at this time to knock at the door through which the human being passes when he forsakes this earthly body. We are urged towards that to which the human being can look up when he needs higher consolation, a deeper source of strength than can be obtained from material life. In how many ways does the voice of the spiritual world cry in these times to our hearts, even to those who do not wish to penetrate into the spiritual world, but whose hearts are nevertheless the windows into the spiritual world. How clearly and in how manifold a way does the spiritual world knock at these windows in our days. It is therefore fitting that we should once again bring together, from a special point of view, many things which we are able to know concerning this spiritual world.
One thing must be admitted by anyone who transcends the narrow prejudices of materialism (those prejudices which altogether deny the existence of a spiritual world). The view of those who do not deny the existence of a spiritual world but merely maintain that man can learn nothing of it by human means, goes somewhat further. If one does not stand at the standpoint of the absolute materialist, but has been so ripened by life as to admit at least the existence of a spiritual world — and this stage may soon be reached — even if such an one denied the possibility of knowing anything of it, he is not far from the thought that the knowledge which can be assimilated and the results which can be acquired through the ordinary material world, must indeed be trivial compared with that which spreads out as a wider kingdom in the spiritual world lying behind the physical-sensible. Certainly there are in our days narrow-minded materialistic souls who would enclose the entire human being in such narrow limits that man would have to be regarded as little higher than the animal, and belonging entirely to the animal-evolution. Certainly, there are such men. But they will become ever fewer; and, as we have often seen even Natural Science does not now admit these prejudices. And if one only begins by admitting that in the human being there is something which transcends external nature, very soon knowledge will arise of how trivial and limited is that which the physical-sensible world embraces, when compared with the greatness and might of the whole universe. And if we then study man himself, and become conscious of that which lives and can live in him, we cannot do otherwise than say: “No matter how far the spiritual world may extend, however great its kingdom, man is a kind of microcosm in himself.” However much a man may hold it as unproven; yet, he in his being, extends to the whole kingdom of the spiritual world. Although to sense-perception, those depths of the soul into which the deeper parts of the spiritual world extend may be concealed, they do extend into the human being. Man does not only consist of physical body, of a combination of external physical forces and substances, he is also a product of the entire Cosmos, a veritable microcosm. And much that we have striven and sought after, was intended to show, in detail, how far man is a product of the spiritual world, and how far in him are really to be sought, not only the forces of this earth, but we might also say those of all the heavens. If this thought is once grasped, it will be clear that by means of ordinary knowledge, we can really know but very little of man. Through ordinary science we know certain things concerning the laws of nature — which knowledge we acquire between birth and death. But even a very little penetration into spiritual science — not enough to be termed knowledge but enough to throw light upon life's riddles — will make us realise that, if we are to understand the human being, we must apply ourselves to something very different from the little external science that we can acquire between birth and death through the external means of the body, through the external senses and the understanding bound to the brain.
Now, let us unite this thought with another, with the thought which goes as a main thread through all our considerations: the thought of repeated earth-lives. That which probably most astonishes those who have busied themselves a little with our views, is this thought of repeated earth-lives, and that the time which we pass here between birth and death is relatively so short, compared with the time which we pass in the spiritual world between death and rebirth. From many different points of view we have stated that as a rule the time which man has to pass between death and rebirth is much, much longer than the relatively short time between birth and death here in physical life. There is a connection between the two thoughts which I have just expressed: that the little which we here acquire between birth and death, in the way of knowledge and fruits of life, stands to the spiritual wealth of the cosmos with which man is connected, in about the same ratio as the short time between birth and death stands to the longer time between death and rebirth. For in reality, it will occur to you from the many considerations which we have developed, that it is the task of the human soul between death and rebirth to assimilate quite other knowledge and forces from those we acquire here in our physical life.
Really, one can say, my dear friends, that when we enter physical earth-life, when we descend from the spiritual world and incarnate in the body given us by our ancestors through heredity, it is then our duty to have ready all the forces and all the fine ramifications of those forces which we require for the purpose of organising this body of ours. You know that our body, as we receive it, is born of our parents. But with this body our psychic-spiritual being unites, and this being has previously passed a long time in the spiritual world between death and rebirth. Could one see — if one were for a moment justified in making the hypothesis — what this external human being can become merely through the forces of heredity, through the forces peculiar to the substance bestowed on us by our parents, we should see that with these forces alone man cannot become what he is. Through these forces which represent our external physical existence, and into these substances and groups or organs, we must pour that which we as souls bring, into the form which we receive from our parents; and out of the abstract soul-substance we form the individual person we are.
As I have said: it is a foolish hypothesis, but we may make use of it, to make things clear: let us think for once what might have arisen if you all were merely born of your parents. Let us leave Karma out of consideration, and leave out of account the fact that we are, of course, born into definite families; and let us only regard physical heredity. Then you would all be alike as human beings. You would only have the general human physical character. That you are quite definite individuals, that so many individual beings sit here before us, rests on the fact that the general human form, even in its finest principles, is fashioned by the spiritual individuality which descends from the spiritual world and enters into that which is given by father and mother.
To that end, just as we must have fingers to grip an object in the physical world, just as we must perceive an object in order to grasp it — even as we must have the necessary organs and also must have learnt to grasp a thing — so must we have learnt to attach ourselves to all the different organs which form our body physically. We have all got ears, but we each hear in our own way. We all have eyes, but we see individually. For the external organs this is least perceptible; in the inner behaviour of man it is more striking. Thus we must insert our psychic-spiritual essence into all these quite general organs, and fashion them individually. We must learn to know the forces, the inner psychic-spiritual formations, so that what we receive through inheritance as ears, nose, eyes, brain, etc., we can fashion individually. That means that when at birth we enter the physical world we must have knowledge, and not only knowledge but practical possibilities of using it. This wonderful structure of man, how little do we really know of it through external science? We must inwardly learn the whole subtle structure of the brain, because we have to organise it inwardly. And all these spiritual-psychic processes, everything which makes it at all possible for us to be men in a human body between birth and death, all this we have to acquire for ourselves. Just as we have to acquire abilities for ourselves in life, so we must also acquire between death and rebirth the power of being men in physical life. We must keep this in view. It must be quite clear to us, and then we shall be able to form an idea of what we do not know of man through mere physical knowledge, but which we must realise through that other knowledge which we have to assimilate in a practical form between death and rebirth. But we know that what we shall assimilate between death and rebirth is built on to all that we have assimilated in earlier earth-lives. And so, just as in a certain sense our physical life here is regulated between birth and death, so too is our life between death and rebirth regulated. We enter physical life as one might say, half sleeping, dreaming, as small children. We cannot at once develop memory, this development we have first to learn. If, however, we examine things more closely, we find that during the time before we develop memory, certain relations to the outer world are acquired. The child first gropes and then learns to grasp. Thus certain things are acquired systematically. The child learns much during this time, much more than is usually supposed. Then again each single epoch of life so runs its course that the later epochs are based on the earlier ones. Not only is the structural formation of man built up here between birth and death — but his life also. And his life between death and rebirth is similarly ruled and regulated. In this respect — to become aware how regulated this life of ours is — we need only bring to mind one thing that we have long known.
We have often emphasised the fact that for our soul-life here in physical existence we need a conception of our Ego, which once acquired — in the second, third and fourth year of life, that time to which we can go back in memory — should never leave us. In a man with whom to a certain extent this Ego-thread is broken, a disturbance of the soul's equilibrium takes place. There are such people, as I have often mentioned, but they are really suffering from a severe psychic illness. It may happen that a man is suddenly torn away from the connection with his Ego. He does not remember his earlier life. He may, for instance, go to the station, and buy a ticket for some place or another. His reason functions quite normally. At the intervening stations he does everything necessary, in quite a reasonable way. But he does not remember anything that previously took place. His inner life only extends to the point when he resolved to buy a ticket and make the journey. He travels all over the world with his mind and reason quite in order. Then comes a moment when he knows: he is he. Till then, his soul-life was extinguished as regards memory. The understanding may be in order, although the memory is extinguished. The Ego is wrenched away and the man suffers from a severe psychic illness. I myself had an acquaintance who while occupying a relatively high post was suddenly seized by such an illness. He suddenly had the impulse to travel, after having forgotten everything about himself and who he was. He traveled, as one might say, blindly through the world from one place to the other, and found himself again in his native city, in an asylum for the homeless. Then it suddenly came back to him who he was. The interval was passed quite rationally, but was not connected with the rest of his life. The illness befell him a second time — but this time he committed suicide while still in that state of consciousness in which the memory was dissociated from the Ego.
Now, you see, just as in the life between birth and death the Ego must be a continuous thread, which may not at any time during daily life lose the possibility of remembering what has happened since that point in childhood to which one can go back, so must it be also in the life between death and rebirth. There, too, we must always have the possibility of preserving our Ego. Now this possibility is given us, and it is given us through the fact that the first days after death are passed in the manner we have often described. Immediately after death a man has before him, as in a mighty picture, the life which has just run its course. For several days he goes back over his whole past life, but always so that the whole life is there before him. It lies before him as in a great panorama. Now, of course, if observed more closely, it turns out that these days in their review of the past life, are as it were endowed with a certain power of observation. In a sense we regard the life during these days from the standpoint of the Ego. We see in particular everything in which our Ego was interested. We see the relations which we have with a person, but we see them in a connection with the results we ourselves obtained from them. Thus we do not regard things quite objectively, but see all that has borne fruit for ourselves. Man sees himself everywhere as the centre. And that is extremely necessary. For from these days when he thus sees everything which has been fruitful for him, arises that inner strength and force which he needs in the whole of his life between death and rebirth, in order there to be able firmly to retain the thought of the Ego. For we owe the power of being able to retain the Ego between death and rebirth to this vision of the last life; the power to do so really proceeds from this. And I must again specially emphasise this, even if I have said it before — the moment of death is of extraordinary significance. Death is something which most distinctly has two totally different aspects. Regarded here from the physical world it certainly has many sad aspects, many painful sides. But we really only see death here from the one side; after our death we see it from the other. It is then the most satisfying and most perfect occurrence that we can possibly experience, for there it is a living fact. Whereas here death is a proof of how frail and transitory the physical life of man is — when seen from the spiritual world it is actually a proof that the spirit continually wins the victory over everything non-spiritual, that the spirit is ever the life, the eternal, ever-unconquerable life.
Death is precisely the proof that in reality there is no death, that Death is a Maya, an illusion. Herein lies the great difference between the life from death to rebirth and our life here from birth to death. For as you know, no man can with ordinary physical means of cognition remember his own birth. No one can prove his own birth by personal experience, for he has not seen it himself. One's birth is something which cannot be seen by the human eye here in physical life. It lies before the time which we can remember. Birth is never included in our recollection. Death, however — and it is thereby distinguished from birth as regards its significance after death — death stands before our spiritual vision as the greatest, most significant, living and perfect event in our life between death and rebirth. For death is precisely the means by which we retain our Ego-consciousness after death. And just as little as it is possible in physical life to remember our birth, is it necessary and self-evident in the life between death and rebirth, that the great moment, when the spirit separates from the body should, during the whole time we pass in the spiritual world, always stand before our psychic-spiritual gaze. For from this death flows to us, in connection with what we have experienced here, the force we need to feel ourselves as ‘I.’ We might say: “If we were unable to die we could never experience a spiritual Ego. For we owe the possibility of experiencing a spiritual Ego to the fact that we can die physically.” Thus lie the facts for our Ego. The Ego is strengthened and invigorated through our experiencing those first days after death, in which we are still within our etheric body. Then the etheric body is laid aside and we experience — retrospectively — the preceding life; this we call the passage of the human soul through the soul-world; a life lasting longer than that shorter life which lasts only a few days, and which immediately follows physical death. Now, the opinion is very prevalent that a person who can look into the spiritual world immediately beholds everything. I have often corrected this. Nothing produces such humility as true insight into the spiritual world. For one may look for a very long time, and the investigation of the single facts of the spiritual world is really a long, long labour, and is accomplished by means of forces of the spiritual world. It is mere prejudice to believe that anyone who looks into the spiritual world can immediately give information about everything. Just as here in the physical world things are investigated gradually, in the course of time, so is it in the spiritual life; things have to be investigated little by little. And now I should like to touch on a point which must appear important to some of those here present: that is, the absolute agreement of the different spiritual facts as they gradually come to light, as they continually arise in new forms. Even to those who do not yet see into the spiritual world, this may be a proof of the truth of that for which a true and genuine investigation is striving. In my Occult Science I have given, from different standpoints, a definite time to the periods of the life between death and rebirth. I should now like to bring forward yet another standpoint which I did not quote in my Occult Science for a simple reason, which I will not conceal from you, so that you may see that Spiritual Science is striven for here in an honourable and upright manner: for the simple reason that at that time I did not yet know these facts myself, but was only able to discover them later. There is a certain connection between the spiritual life which can be developed here on the physical plane, and the spiritual life between death and rebirth. You already know that we pass our physical life here in waking and sleeping. On the one hand we have a full consciousness in the waking state, and then for the normal man an unconscious condition sets in, in the time between sleeping and waking.
Now you know also from what has been set forth in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment that this sleep-life may be lit up by consciousness, that it is possible to look into that which happens between falling asleep and waking up. If we can attain to this, and learn more and more of the life which man passes here in sleep, we really learn to know an amazing kingdom of Life. In this unconscious condition between falling asleep and waking up a vast and amazing kingdom of human life flows by unperceived by the normal human existence. A great deal goes on then. And that which very soon strikes us, in this sleep-life, is that it is much more active than the life between waking and sleeping. During sleep we are within our Ego and astral body, and have as it were, our physical body and etheric body outside us. Now, even this external life is an active one, with many people a very active life indeed. It appears so active to us because we do not take all the inactivities which exist in this outer life much into consideration. Really, if everything in this external life had to proceed from our own initiative, we should be greatly astonished how differently everything would take place.
Just consider — you get up every morning, you hardly form the resolution to get up, you do it from habit; and you do not really come to a closer knowledge of what it signifies to be so connected with the whole Cosmic-ordering, that you pass your life at definite times in one or other of these two conditions of waking and sleeping, and have to regulate your life accordingly. How many people think of this? It all goes on as a matter of course. And now try for once, to consider how much goes on in this way, so that in a sense, we go through life like automata. You will then come to recognise that there is a great deal more inactivity in the life between waking and falling asleep, but great activity in the life between sleeping and waking. There a complete and tremendous activity takes place. It is an interesting fact that people who are relatively indolent in external life between waking and sleeping are just the busiest between sleeping and waking. Man is then extremely active, only he knows nothing of this in ordinary life. If we examine more closely into that which drives the soul, that is, the Ego and astral body, we find that this activity is really intimately connected with the whole existence of man, though in our journey through life we consciously take but very little of it with us. We do not work upon all our life as it approaches us externally. I should like to give an apt instance of this. Just consider, you are now hearing this lecture, which lasts perhaps one hour. Really, without wishing to offend any of the dear friends sitting here, I may say: it would be possible to hear infinitely more in the words of this lecture than the different friends sitting here, are hearing. Indeed, it would be possible to gather much more from all I am saying, than I know myself. But what I mean is this — and I am only saying this in illustration of the above — you will go home presently, go to bed and sleep, and wake up to-morrow morning. And in the time between your sleeping and waking — quite unconsciously, of course, as regards the normal consciousness — you will work upon much of what you are now in a position to hear. You will work upon it a great deal in your next sleep and perhaps also during the following nights. One sees souls labouring between sleeping and waking in quite a different fashion at what they have absorbed. And even if it occurred that someone had listened very inattentively, and had merely been somewhat receptive, yet through that receptivity he would draw into his soul the spiritual powers and impulse in the lecture. And that would be worked upon during sleep, and transformed into what we require not only for the rest of life up till death, but beyond death. Thus we work over our whole life as it transpires by day between our waking and sleeping. Everything we experience by day we work upon during the night. Thus as it were, we learn lessons which we need for all the rest of our life here, and beyond death into the next incarnation. When we are asleep, we are our own prophetic transmuters of our life. This sleep-life is full of tremendously deep riddles, for it is much more deeply connected with what we experience, than is the external consciousness, and we work at it all from the standpoint of its fruitfulness for the following life. What we can make of ourselves through what we have experienced, is the object of our labour in the time between sleeping and waking. Whether we become stronger and more powerful in our soul, or perhaps have to reproach ourselves, we labour at all our experiences so that they become life-fruit. You see from this, that the life between sleeping and waking is really enormously significant, and that it goes deeply into the whole riddle of man.
Now, perhaps one day the spiritual investigator forms the intention — we may even say the purpose — of comparing this life of sleep with another, a super-sensible life, and he decides to compare it with those days which take their course during the life of Kamaloka. And note here, though this can only be seen by clairvoyance, that whereas here in life we can recollect all that we have experienced in our day-life, after death — after the time of the life-tableau is past — we obtain a memory of all our nights. This is an important secret which is revealed to us. We remember all our night-life. This review so presents itself that we really live backwards starting from the last night passed here in life, passing to the preceding one, and so on. In this way we experience the whole life again backwards, but as seen from the night-aspect. One experiences again in this retrospective recollection, what one has unconsciously thought and investigated. One really goes back through one's life, but not from the day-aspect. How long does that last approximately? Now remember that we sleep away about one-third of our life. As you know, there are people who naturally sleep much more. But on an average we sleep away a third of our life. Therefore this retrospect also lasts about one-third of our earth-life, because we experience the nights. Just think how wonderfully that agrees with the other points of view which have been elucidated. We have always said that the life in Kamaloka lasts about one-third of one's life. And when we take the above into consideration, we again see that it must be a third. Thus do these things harmonise. The details always fit in. That is the wonderful thing in spiritual investigation — one learns to know a fact, and when that is settled, one presently learns it again from another aspect.
It is always like the case of a man who climbs a hill from which he sees something first from one side and then from another side, yet the essential points are always the same. So that one can say: Here in earth-life between birth and death our life is so experienced that it is always torn away from us, it is always broken off by the night-life; and we only remember the day-life, the things we have experienced by day. But in the night-life we do more than remember them; we work upon them and transform them, as stated above. And what we cannot remember now, we remember during the Kamaloka life. That is an important connection, and from this you will grasp many things which perhaps could not be understood otherwise. Just consider, especially in our present time, how many relatively young men pass through the gates of death. I have already stated from many points of view the significance this has for the collective life of humanity. But let us first look at the two divisions which we have just characterised. (We will come on to other things in the course of these lectures.) Let us first consider the life in the etheric body which lasts only a few days, during which a man has his life tableau before him, and then we shall consider the life of the soul in the soul-world. In going through the previous life from the night-side we shall easily be able to see why the spiritual investigator must say that even these two periods of life between death and rebirth are different for a man who has gone relatively early through the gates of death; one who dies at a later age has different experiences. This concerns us very closely because so many now are dying at a relatively early age. You see it is really the case that the separate sections which I have distinguished are of great significance for our life here in the physical world. I have given these divisions of life thus: the first extends to the seventh year, to the change in dentition; the next to the fourteenth year, the time of puberty; another extends to the twenty-first year and so on; in periods of seven years. And if you earnestly consider what lies in these phases of life you will see that the thirty-fifth year becomes an important epoch. Till then we are, as it were, in a state of preparation, whereas later we have ended the preparatory stage and built up our life on the basis of what has been prepared up to the thirty-fifth year. This thirty-fifth year of life is of very great significance. Till then, not merely the bodily growth continues, but also the growth of the soul; for the soul of a man really grows.
Now, it must decidedly be emphasised that much of the ripened condition of life can only be attained after the thirty-fifth year. And if we consider this thirty-fifth year of life from another point of view, it will appear still more significant to us. You see, if we place these seven-year epochs of life before the soul, we first have the building up of the physical body to the age of seven, and the building up of the etheric body to the age of fourteen. From the fourteenth to the twenty-first year there is fashioned and organised what we call the astral body; then the sentient soul to the age of twenty-eight, the rational or intellectual soul to the age of thirty-five, and the self-conscious or spiritual soul to the age of forty-two. And then we come to spirit-self, which is a kind of evolving back again to the astral body, and so on. The further epochs of life do not progress in periods of seven years, but irregularly, for they will only evolve to regularity in the future. Thus, unless thwarted by the errors of education, a certain regularity is followed up to the thirty-fifth year. Now, we may be especially struck by the deeper significance of the entire development of life, when we observe people who die at these different epochs of life. Suppose — merely as an instance — that we follow the soul of an eleven, twelve, or thirteen-year old boy or girl, who goes through the gate of death at that early age. In accordance with what I have already described, it follows in such a case that the etheric body — which would theoretically have been able to care for the full life of the child — has these unused forces still within it. In general it happens, that man during the whole life between birth and death really prepares himself for death: he really makes himself ready for death. In reality our whole life is a preparation for death, in so far that we continually labour at the destruction of the body. If we could not destroy it we could never attain to perfection. For we purchase the perfection, as it were, with the destruction of the outer physical body. Now, when a boy of thirteen goes through the gate of death, he does not accomplish the long work of destruction, which he might have been able to do. He does not fulfil everything he might have done. This expresses itself in a noteworthy manner. If we follow such a soul, we find it in the spiritual world, after a certain time, a relatively short time, between death and rebirth, in what I might call a most noteworthy society. We find it among those souls who are so preparing themselves for their next life that they will soon have again to descend to the earth. These are the souls who will soon incarnate. Among these then, live such souls as pass through the gate of death at the age of eleven, twelve, or thirteen. They are placed among them. And if we look more closely into these connections it turns out, strange to say, that these souls who are soon to enter their earth-life, require that which these other souls can bring up to them from the earth to give them the strength they on their part require to enter a physical body. Thus the souls of the young form a strong help to those others who must soon descend to the earth. Young children who are quite normal, who have no prominent spiritual life, but are merely intelligent, are normally able to give certain assistance, which can no longer be given by one who dies in later years. He, too, has his task, each one must accommodate himself to his own Karma, and we should not on this account wish to die at this or that age, for we all die at the age permitted by our Karma. Thus the help a soul can offer to the souls awaiting incarnation cannot be given by one who dies in later years. That rests in the fact that during the first half of life a soul stands nearer to the entire spiritual world, in one sense, than in the second half of life. Yet in another sense this is not the case. But in a certain sense we do stand nearer to the spiritual world in the first half of our life. In fact the whole life so runs its course that the longer we live in the physical body the further we are from the spiritual world. A child of one year still stands very close to the spiritual world. When it forsakes the physical plane it is soon in the spiritual world. This is the case up to the fourteenth year; till then a child so lives in the physical body that it can easily enter the world of souls who are seeking an early incarnation. This is connected with the fact that even in the tableau, one who dies very young has different experiences from those of one who dies in later life.
Thus the thirty-fifth year of life is an important boundary. If a man dies before the thirty-fifth year, he first experiences the life-tableau, and then goes backwards through the night-life. But during this entire experience of the spiritual world, he sees — as it were ‘through a glass darkly,’ as if he were seeing it through the life-pictures — that spiritual world which he forsook on being born. His perspective still extends to the spiritual world. But if he has passed this thirty-fifth year then it is quite different. He no longer beholds that wherein he himself was before birth. That is one of those things which particularly strikes one now, when so many die young. For this looking back at the spiritual world still retains a certain significance up to the thirty-fifth year. Of course after the fourteenth, fifteenth, or sixteenth year it is no longer such a direct vision, but even from then to the thirty-fifth year, if death occurs, it is as if the spiritual life was everywhere reflected in the retrospective life-picture. If one dies quite in infancy, there is naturally not much experience of life to go back over — one can almost immediately look into the spiritual world. If a child dies at the age of thirteen, he has a retrospective tableau, but immediately behind that lies the spiritual world. He can still see the spiritual world clearly. If death takes place later, the spiritual world is not perceived so distinctly, but it is contained in what one sees as one's own life. Up to the thirty-fifth year we are still connected with that spiritual world from which we descended. One who dies before the age of thirty-five, experiences even in the first period of the life in which he sees the life-picture, and then in the retrospective journey through the soul-world, that he really is in a kind of homeland which he forsook at birth. He has the direct feeling of coming back home into the world from which he descended. This is of tremendous importance. For each one who dies thus is, in one sense, as you see, immediately placed more easily into the spiritual world than one who dies later. Out of his post-mortem survey he carries far more spirituality into his next life between birth and death. And those young men who die in such numbers in our present age, will from this standpoint become important bearers of spiritual truths and spiritual knowledge when they descend to earth again in their next incarnation. Thus we see that the terrible suffering which is poured over the world is nevertheless necessary for the course of existence as a whole. For the blood which now flows will be the symbol of a certain refreshing of spiritual life at a particular time in the future, and this is necessary for the whole evolution of humanity. Then will the souls, who now go through the gate of death so early, descend again; but most of them will descend different from what they would have been had they reached the limits of life in material existence, and then died. It is Cosmic Wisdom which now calls away a number of souls, that they may be allowed to perceive even in their retrospective tableau and experiences, deep spiritual secrets connected with the earth. That, too, is Cosmic Wisdom, for these souls are thus filled with that which they will behold in stronger form when they come to see it again; they will have been strengthened by the shorter earth life which they have undergone. That is the true Wisdom of the Cosmos. And so we must say that much of what rightly gives us pain when we are only able to regard it from the standpoint of earthly existence, shows us its redeeming side when we observe it from the standpoint of spiritual vision. Thus it is with the whole of life. Certainly, my dear friends, earthly pain cannot be at present avoided through such a consideration. It must be experienced. For that is the very condition for its compensation. If we did not experience it in the physical world it could never be compensated. But although we must suffer many things in the physical world, there are nevertheless moments in which we can place ourselves at the standpoint of the spiritual. Then we shall recognise that much of that which must appear to us as painful from a lower point of view is a tribute which must be offered to the higher spiritual worlds and the wise beings therein, in order that the evolution of the whole Cosmos and of human existence may go forward not in a one sided manner, but in every direction. The expiation for much suffering must be achieved, and to this end the suffering itself must first be endured. Spiritual science cannot indeed spare us that, but it can teach us to lay it on the altar of existence, to seek the compensation, and to recognise the Wisdom of the Cosmos, in spite of all the pain which for higher ends it must cause. This is what spiritual science can give us as a precious unction for the whole human existence. Thus from this standpoint also and right from the feelings which spiritual science can arouse in us, let us regard the powerful events of our time, and say again that which we have often repeated here: —

From the fighters' courage,
From the blood of battles,
From the mourners' suffering,
From the people's sacrifice,
There will ripen fruits of Spirit
If with consciousness the soul
Turns her thought to Spirit Realms.