People talk of immortality only as the negation of death. Certainly this side of immortality is as important as the other — we shall have much more to say about it — but the immortality we first come to know in the way I have briefly indicated is not the negation of death, but “unbornness”, the negation of birth; and both sides are equally real. Only when people come once more to understand that eternity has these two sides — immortality and “unbornness” — will they be able to recognise again in man that which is enduring, truly eternal.

Modern languages all have a word for immortality, but they have lost the word “unbornness”, although older languages had it. This side of eternity, “unbornness”, was lost first, and now, in this materialistic age, the tragic moment is threatening when all knowledge of immortality may be lost — for in the realm of pure materialism people are no longer willing to know anything whatever of the spiritual part of man.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 227 – The Evolution of Consciousness: I: First Steps towards Imaginative Knowledge – Penmaenmawr, 19th August 1923

Translated by Violet E. Watkin & Charles Davy