Why should we concern ourselves with life after death?

There are many people, particularly in our materialistic age, who ask why they should concern with life between death and rebirth or, if the idea of repeated earth lives is rejected, with an existence after death, since they surely can wait and see what happens after death when the time comes! This is said by people today who have not quite lost the feeling for the spiritual world but who are not yet equipped with sufficient soul-powers to acquire concepts and feelings about the super-sensible. They add that if they perform their duty here on earth, they shall experience in the appropriate way what awaits them after death.

Now a genuine connection with life between death and rebirth brings out clearly the fallacy of such a view and how important it is during earthly existence to have formed an idea of the conditions of life after death.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth – XVI – Strasbourg, May 13, 1913

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on February 1, 2017

People will say: It is pathological to even think in terms of spirit and soul

At the Council of Constantinople it was decreed that the spirit did not exist; it was dogmatically stated that the human being consisted only of body and soul, and it was heresy to speak of a human spirit. In the same way attempts will be made to decree the soul, the inner life, as nonexistent.

The time will come — and it may not be far off — when quite different tendencies will come up at a congress like the one held in 1912 and people will say: It is pathological for people to even think in terms of spirit and soul. ‘Sound’ people will speak of nothing but the body. It will be considered a sign of illness for anyone to arrive at the idea of any such thing as a spirit or a soul. People who think like that will be considered to be sick and — you can be quite sure of it — a medicine will be found for this. At Constantinople the spirit was made non-existent. The soul will be made non-existent with the aid of a drug. Taking a ‘sound point of view’, people will invent a vaccine to influence the organism as early as possible, preferably as soon as it is born, so that this human body never even gets the idea that there is a soul and a spirit.

The two philosophies of life will be in complete opposition. One movement will need to reflect how concepts and ideas may be developed to meet the reality of soul and spirit. The others, the heirs of modern materialism, will look for the vaccine to make the body ‘healthy’, that is, makes its constitution such that this body no longer talks of such rubbish as soul and spirit, but takes a ‘sound’ view of the forces which live in engines and in chemistry and let planets and suns arise from nebulae in the cosmos. Materialistic physicians will be asked to drive the souls out of humanity.

People who think that playful ideas will help them to look ahead to the future are very much mistaken. We need serious, profound ideas to look ahead to the future. Anthroposophy is not a game, nor just a theory; it is a task that must be faced for the sake of human evolution.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the Spirits of Darkness – LECTURE 5 – Changes in Humanity’s Spiritual Make-up – Dornach, 7 October 1917

Translated by Anna R. Meuss

Previously posted on January 8, 2017

Mobility of thoughts

I was overjoyed recently when I read that there are still people who, going beyond the ordinary routine of life, have already perceived the practical life as something important. Recently a news item spread through the world, describing how Edison tested the people he wished to prepare for some sort of practical work. It did not interest him at all whether or not a merchant was able to keep books. That, he said, can be learned in three weeks if one is a reasonable, intelligent person. None of these specialties interested him at all; these one can learn. 

When Edison wished to know whether people would be of any use in practical life, however, he tested them by asking them questions like, “How large is Siberia?” Thus when he wished to discover whether someone was a good bookkeeper, Edison did not ask whether he could conduct an audit properly, but he asked, “How large is Siberia?” or “If a room is five meters long, three meters wide, and four meters high, how many cubic meters of air are contained in this room?” and similar questions. He posed questions like, “What is standing at the place where Caesar crossed the Rubicon?” and so on, just general questions. And according to the extent to which a person could answer such questions, Edison hired him as a bookkeeper, or whatever. He knew that if a person could answer such a general question this was a proof that his schooling had not been in vain, that as a child he had developed mobile thoughts, and this is what Edison demanded.

This is how practical life really should be conducted, whereas in recent times we have steered precisely in the opposite direction, succumbing more and more to specialization, so that finally one could really despair of finding the people needed for practical life. It is impossible to get anyone to do something outside the pigeonhole into which he wants to fit. Already today it must be said that in this way too we must work toward the mobility of thoughts. If there is such a working toward the mobility of thoughts, then these thoughts will not harden, and Ahriman will be in a difficult position.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 205 – Therapeutic Insights: Earthly and Cosmic Laws – Dornach, July 3, 1921

Translations by May Laird-Brown, Alice Wulsin and Gerald Karnow

What is it that holds man back from spirit-knowledge? 

For what is it that holds man back today from spirit-knowledge? — Lack of soul courage, not to say soul cowardice. Man wants to receive everything passively, wants to set himself down in front of the world as if it were a movie, and wants to let the microscope and the telescope tell him everything. He does not want to temper the instrument of his own spirit, of his own soul, by activity. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 223 – The Cycle of the Year – Lecture V – Dornach, 4th April 1923 (wrong date, in the German GA 223 it is 8th April 1923)

Translated by Barbara Betteridge & Frances E. Dawson 

Previously posted on January 7, 2017

Knowledge and feeling of the life between death and the new birth

It is just as necessary for a human being to have knowledge, feeling and perceptiveness of the life between death and the new birth as of earthly life itself. For when he enters earthly life at birth, the confidence, strength and hopefulness connected with that life depend upon what forces he brings with him from the life between the last death and the present birth. 

But again, the forces we are able to acquire during that life depend upon our conduct in the earlier incarnation, upon our moral and religious disposition or the quality of our attitude of soul. We must realise that whether the future evolution of the human race will be furthered or impeded depends upon our active and creative co-operation with the super-sensible world in which we live between death and the new birth. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 141 – Between Death and Rebirth – Lecture 2 – Berlin, 20th November 1912

Translated by E. H. Goddard & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on January 9, 2017