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.

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