Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Great Blessing of Death

Rudolf Steiner:

The only really great men are those whose work derives from the great world-secrets, and many people today who talk glibly of originality and the like have no inkling of the depths from which the truly great achievements in the arts have been born.

If now we look further at the progress of human life between birth and death, we have to recognise that it is confined within certain narrow limits. We can indeed work at and enhance our faculties; in later life we can acquire qualities of soul which were lacking earlier on; but all this is subject to the fact that we can accomplish nothing that would require us to transform our physical and etheric bodies. These bodies, with their particular aptitudes, are there at birth; we find them ready-made. For example, we can reach a certain understanding of music only if we are born with a musical ear. That is a crude example, but it shows how transformation can be frustrated; in such cases the experiences can indeed be united with the soul, but we must renounce any hope of weaving them into our bodily life.

If, then, we consider human life from a higher standpoint, the possibility of breaking free from the physical body and laying it aside must be regarded as enormously wholesome and significant for our entire human existence. Our capacity to transform experiences into faculties is limited by the fact that every morning, on returning from sleep, we find our physical and etheric bodies waiting for us. At death we lay them aside and pass through the gate of death into a spiritual world. There, unhampered by these bodies, we can carry to spiritual completion those experiences between birth and death that we could not embody because of our corporeal limitations.

When we descend once more from the spiritual world to a new life on earth, then, and only then, can we take the powers we have woven into our spiritual archetype and give them physical existence by impressing them plastically into the initially soft human body. Now for the first time we can weave into our being those fruits of experience that we had indeed garnered in our previous life but could not then carry into physical embodiment. Seen in this light, death provides for the enhancement of life.

Source: October 29, 1909. GA 58

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