Tuesday, August 3, 2010

As our physical body gets older, our etheric body gets younger

"Though we human beings have to undergo painful experiences, we suffer them for the sake of harmony in the entire universe."

Rudolf Steiner, the conclusion to a lecture given September 15, 1915:

Those who die young have old etheric bodies that have not had time to grow young, and these are all the more teeming with will. Direct will-force in all its immediacy, the love element, creative love-force, permeates them. That is the difference between the etheric bodies of the old and the young. The former bear more the character of wisdom, the latter of will. The etheric body of a person who dies young streams out love, warm love, a warm etheric love-element, while that of an older person streams out an aura filled with light and wisdom....

...there has to be a continuous development of talents in humankind's progressive evolution. This person must be gifted in this direction, another in that, with capabilities ranging all the way to the genius level. That could not be the case if nobody were fated to die young. And as we look up to people of special genius, we can attribute their gifts to the fact that some individuals have to die young. To contemplate the mystery of death in the case of young human beings is to realize that early death is part of the the wise design, for it gives rise to forces of soul-endowment needed by the human race for its further progress.

If we can lift ourselves above a personal reaction to death to a contemplation of what is needed by humankind as a whole, we encounter the wisdom involved in the deaths of both young and old. It is important to realize that a truly genuine and earnest study of spiritual science does not remain mere theory, but that a proper grasp of theories leads to attitudes and feelings that enable us to achieve greater harmony in our lives than we could achieve if we did not have it. We need spiritual science to develop the deeper insight that can lead to a perception of the consonance that lies behind life's otherwise unbearable dissonance.

We learn to understand the sacrifices that we have to make in life and the things that pain us, if we know that the entire universe can be maintained rightly only by developments that cannot but cause us sorrow. We simply have to make the effort to sense that the many hundreds of geniuses such as Homeer, Shakespeare, Goethe, Michelangelo, Raphael, and so on, are essential to humankind's progressive evolution, and it would not have existed as such had the ground not been prepared by people dying young. This has nothing to do with the individual. Those who die young and thus sacrifice their etheric bodies in their youth provide the entire cosmos with a fruitful soil for the growth and maturing of human soul capacities.

We become united with the universe when, instead of taking an abstract approach to spiritual science, it becomes for us a seeking out of impulses that flow into us as soul-warmth, reconciling us with the world, moving us to our depths as they show us that, though we human beings have to undergo painful experiences, we suffer them for the sake of harmony in the entire universe.

It is not always easy to withdraw our attention from individual life to focus on the life of the whole world. But the fact that achieving this goal is difficult is also the reason why it strengthens us. And as we develop a feeling for community from our suffering, a sense for the totality of the cosmic order becomes ever more intense and lays ever more profund hold on our innermost soul. And we prepare ourselves in doing this to become participants in the universal order of a kind that the gods can make use of.

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