The love or even the sympathy we extend to the dead eases his path, removes hindrances from him

In order that we may really understand one another, I want to speak first of certain aspects of the mutual relationship between the living and the dead, starting with a quite simple phenomenon which will be explained in accordance with the findings of spiritual investigations. Souls who sometimes practise a little self-contemplation will be able to observe the following (and I believe that many have done so). Let us suppose that someone has hated another person in life, or perhaps it was, or is, merely a question of antipathy or dislike. When the person towards whom hatred or antipathy was directed dies, and the other hears of his death, he will feel that the same hatred or antipathy cannot be maintained. If the hatred persists beyond the grave, sensitive souls will feel a kind of shame that it should be so. This feeling — and it is present in many souls — can be observed by clairvoyance. During self-examination the question may well be asked: Why is it that this feeling of shame at some hatred or antipathy arises in the soul, for the existence of such hatred was never at any time admitted to a second person?

When the clairvoyant investigator follows in the spiritual worlds the one who has passed through the gate of death and then looks back upon the soul who has remained on the earth, he finds that, generally speaking, the soul of the dead has a very clear perception, a very definite feeling, of the hatred in the soul of the living man. The dead sees the hatred — if I may speak figuratively. The clairvoyant investigator is able to confirm with all certainty that this is so. But he can also perceive what such hatred signifies for the dead. It signifies an obstacle to the good endeavours of the dead in his spiritual development, an obstacle comparable with hindrances standing in the way of some external goal on earth. In the spiritual world the dead finds that the hatred is an obstacle to his good endeavours. And now we understand why hatred — even if there was justification for it in life — dies in the soul of one who practises a little self-contemplation: the hatred dies because a feeling of shame arises in the soul when the one who was hated has died. True, if the man is not clairvoyant he does not know the reason for this, but implanted in the very soul there is a feeling of being observed; the man feels: the dead sees my hatred and it is an actual hindrance to his good endeavours.

Many feelings rooted deeply in the human soul are explained when we rise into the worlds of spirit and recognize the spiritual facts underlying these feelings. Just as when doing certain things on earth we prefer not to be physically observed and would refrain from doing them if we knew this was happening, so hatred does not persist after a person’s death when we have the feeling that we ourselves are being observed by him. But the love or even the sympathy we extend to the dead eases his path, removes hindrances from him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Links Between the Living and the Dead – Bergen, 10th October 1913



Concern for friends, relatives and children

Concern for friends, relatives and children may also act as a kind of gravity that holds souls (post mortem) back in the earth sphere. It is important to pay attention to this because by taking it into account we can also help the dead. If, for instance, we realize that the departed soul feels anxiety for a living person — and much can come to our knowledge in this respect — it will help the dead person in his further development to relieve him of this anxiety. We ease the life of someone who has died by relieving him, for example, of anxiety about a child whom he has left behind unprovided for. By doing something for the child, we relieve the dead person of anxiety, and this is a true service of love. Let us picture such a situation. The dead person has not available the means to rid himself of anxiety. From his realm he may be unable to do anything that would ease the circumstances of a child, a relative or a friend. He is often condemned — and in many cases this weighs heavily upon the seer — to bear the anxiety until the situation of the one left behind improves of itself or by circumstances. Therefore, if we do something to better the situation we will have performed a real deed of love for the dead one.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: Man’s Journey through the Cosmic Spheres after Death – Munich, 12th March 1913


All is not moonlight and roses behind the veil of sensory perception

One should not believe that when one glimpses behind the veil of the senses and reaches the region beyond the threshold, that one ends up in a realm of pure beauty. Do not think that someone who cognisant of these worlds expresses himself light-heartedly when he says: if people are not carefully prepared, they need to be held back when coming to the threshold of the spirit world. – Because it is essential that one first of all gets to know the totally unedifying foundations, before one experience what in a sense is elevating and wholesome behind the curtain.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 219 – Das Verhältnis der Sternenwelt zum Menschen und des Menschen zur Sternenwelt – Dornach, 16 December 1922 (page 81)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


The six basic exercises – 6. Harmony

Thus we have named five capacities of the soul that the student must make his own by correct training: Control of the direction of thought; control of the impulses of will; calmness in joy and sorrow; positiveness in judging the world; impartiality in our attitude toward life. Anyone who has employed certain consecutive periods of time for the purpose of acquiring these capacities will still be subject to the necessity of bringing them into harmonious concord in his soul. He will be under the necessity of practicing them simultaneously, in pairs, or three and one, and so forth, in order to bring about harmony.

The exercises just characterized are indicated by the methods of spiritual training because by being conscientiously carried out they not only effect in the student what has been designated above as a direct result, but indirectly much else follows, which is needed on the path to the spiritual worlds. Whoever carries out these exercises to a sufficient degree will encounter in the process many short comings and defects in his soul-life, and he will find precisely the means required by him for strengthening and safeguarding his intellectual life, his life of feeling, and his character.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – V: Cognition of the higher worlds. Initiation. (Part 2)

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges


The six basic exercises – 5. Unbiased receptivity in our attitude toward life  

Thought linked with will undergoes a certain maturing if we permit ourselves never to be robbed by previous experiences of the unbiased receptivity for new experiences. For the student of the spiritual the following thought should entirely lose its meaning, “I have never heard that, I do not believe that.” It should be his aim, during specific periods of time, to learn something new on every occasion from everything and everybody. From every breath of air, from every leaf, from the babbling of children one can learn something if one is prepared to bring to one’s aid a certain point of view that one has not made use of up to the present. It will, however, be easily possible in regard to such an ability to go wide of the mark. One should not in any way disregard, at any particular stage of life, one’s previous experiences. One should judge what one experiences in the present by one’s experiences of the past. This is placed upon one scale of the balance; upon the other, however, must be placed the inclination of the student continually to experience the new. Above all, there must be faith in the possibility that new experiences may contradict the old.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – V: Cognition of the higher worlds. Initiation. (Part 2)

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges