The egoism we develop in the physical world, without being willing to acquire self-knowledge, shows up when it is carried into spiritual worlds. Nothing is so disturbing, nothing can be so bitter and disheartening as to experience the result of our failure to develop love and compassion in the physical world.
Ascending into the spiritual world, we are filled with anguish by the selfishness and lack of love we have achieved in the physical-sense world. When we cross the threshold, everything is revealed, not only the obvious but also the hidden egoism that rages in the depths of men’s souls.
Someone who with outward egoism frankly insists that he wants this or that for himself is perhaps much less egoistic than those who indulge in the dream that they are selfless, or those who assume a certain egoistic self-effacement out of theosophical abstractions in their upper consciousness.
This is especially the case when the latter declaim their selflessness in all sorts of repetitions of the words “love” and “tolerance.” What a person carries up into higher worlds in the form of an unloving lack of compassion is transformed into hideous, often terrifying figures he meets on entering the spiritual worlds, figures that are extremely disturbing for the soul.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 147 – Secrets of the Threshold – Lecture VIII – Munich, 31 August 1913
Translated by Ruth Pusch