Thus the human being is born into that family which is able to transmit to him by heredity the bodily conditions which correspond to his karmic potentialities. It then looks, if we go back to the example of moral courage, as if the latter itself had been inherited from the parents. The truth is that man, through his individual being, has searched out that family which makes the unfoldment of moral courage possible for him.
In addition to this it may be possible that the individualities of the children and the parents have already been connected in previous lives and for that very reason have found one another again. The karmic laws are so complicated that we may never base a judgment upon outer appearances. Only a person to whose spiritual sense-organs the higher worlds are at least partially manifest may attempt to form such a judgment.
Whoever is able to observe the soul organism and the spirit, in addition to the physical body, is in a position to discriminate between what has been passed on to the human being by his forebears and what is his own possession, acquired in previous lives. For ordinary vision these things are not clearly distinguishable, and it may easily appear as if something were merely inherited which in reality is karmicly determined.
It is a thoroughly wise expression which states that children are “given” to their parents. In respect of the spirit this is absolutely the case. And children with certain spiritual qualities are given to them for the very reason that they, the parents, are capable of giving the children the opportunity to unfold these spiritual qualities.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – ANSWERS TO SOME QUESTIONS CONCERNING KARMA – Essay in Luzifer/Gnosis – October 1904
Translated by Lisa D. Monges