Sunday, January 13, 2019

Death is swallowed up in victory

The words inscribed on the Holy Grail:
"Die, and Become"

1 Corinthians 15:54-55

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Rudolf Steiner:

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 center.
     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 emphasize 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.”