No contradiction

I have often indicated that there is no contradiction between a scientific fact that is correctly presented and the facts brought forward by Spiritual Science. It is just as if someone were to say: Here is a man; how comes it that he is alive? It is because he has lungs inside him and there is air outside. Needless to say, that is quite correct. 

But someone else may turn up and say: This man is alive for an entirely different reason. A fortnight ago he fell into the water and I jumped in after him and pulled him out; but for that he would not be alive today! Both these assertions are correct. In the same way, natural science is quite correct when it says that a man bears within himself characteristics inherited from his ancestors; but it is equally correct to attribute them to his karma and other factors.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 141 – Between death and rebirth: Lecture Eight – Berlin, February 11, 1913


Things that concern man cannot be found through the study of animals

The things that concern man cannot be found through the study of animals. I have often stressed this difference in public lectures, and should like to emphasise it still more here. People are in the habit of thinking: an eye is an eye, an organ is an organ, lungs are lungs, a liver is a liver, and so forth. But that is not so, the eye in man is the organ which also exists in the animal world as eye, but with a modification: it is changed by the fact that in man the ego has been incorporated. 

The same is the case with all other organs. And for the occurrences within the organs, especially in cases of disease, the permeation by the ego is of much greater importance than what happens in the animal’s organs, where there is no such permeation. This essential difference is still far too little regarded and men persist in off-hand pronouncements of this sort: “here I have a knife; well, a knife’s a knife, isn’t it? One knife is the same as another, so both, being knives, must have the same origin.” But suppose that one of these “identical” knives is a table knife, the other a razor. In that case the simple proposition that “a knife’s a knife” becomes untenable. 

It is making the same mistake to explain the human eye and the animal eye by the same methods and terms. It is simply nonsense to seek for the explanation of anything in its mere external aspect; moreover such an approach is entirely barren as a foundation for study. Study founded on animal “material” simply hinders the adequate study of certain conditions in mankind; for it is only possible to form a just estimate of the dissimilarity here, by realising that in man it is precisely the peripheral organs which are the most permeated by the ego and moulded by it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 312 – Spiritual Science and Medicine – Lecture XIV – Dornach, April 3, 1920

Interest / Health / Karma (3 of 3)

These things go even farther. There are human beings (and so there were in former epochs of the earth) who never look up to the stars their whole life long, who do not know where Leo is, or Aries or Taurus; they have no interest in anything in this connection. Such people are born, in a next life on earth, with a body that is somehow limp and flabby. Or if, by the vigour of their parents, they get a model that carries them over this, they become limp, lacking in energy and vigour, through the body which they then build for themselves.

And so it is with the entire constitution which a man bears with him in a given life on earth. In every detail we might refer it to the interests he had in the visible world — in an all-embracing sense — in his preceding life on earth.

People, for instance, who in our time take absolutely no interest in music — people to whom music is a matter of indifference — will certainly be born again in a next life on earth either with asthmatic trouble, or with some disease of the lung. At any rate, they will be born with a tendency to asthma or lung disease. And so it is in all respects; the quality of soul which develops in our earthly life through the interest we take in the visible world, comes to expression in our next life in the general tone of our bodilyhealth or illness.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships, Volume I: Lecture V – March 1, 1924

Interest / Health / Karma (2 of 3)

No doubt it is more or less “risqué” nowadays to speak of these things, but you will only understand the inner connections of karma if you are ready to learn about the karmic details. Thus, for example, in the age when the human souls who are here today were living in a former life on earth, there was already an art of painting; and there were some human beings even then who had no interest in it at all. Even today, you will admit, there are people who do not care whether they have some atrocity hanging on the walls of their room or a picture beautifully painted. And there were also such people in the time when the souls who are here today were living in their former lives on earth. Now, I can assure you, I have never found a man or a woman with a pleasant face — a sympathetic expression — who did not take delight in beautiful paintings in a former life on earth. The people with an unsympathetic expression (which, after all, also plays its part in karma, and signifies something for destiny) were always the ones who passed by the works of art of painting with obtuse and phlegmatic indifference.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships, Volume I: Lecture V – March 1, 1924

Interest / Health / Karma (1 of 3)

Suppose a man has little interest in the physical world around him. Perhaps he just manages to interest himself in the things that immediately concern his bodily life — whether, for instance, one can eat more or less well in this or that district. Beyond that, his interests do not go; his soul remains poor. He does not imprint the world into himself. He carries very little in his inner life, very little of what has radiated into him from the phenomena of the world, through the gate of death into the spiritual realms. Thereby he finds the working with the spiritual beings, with whom he is then together, very difficult.

And as a consequence, in the next life he does not bring with him, for the up-building of his physical body, strength and energy of soul, but weakness — a kind of faintness of soul. The model works into him strongly enough. The conflict with the model finds expression in manifold illnesses of childhood; but the weakness persists. He forms, so to speak, a frail or sickly body, prone to all manner of illnesses. Thus, karmically, our interest of soul-and-spirit in the one earthly life is transformed into our constitution as to health in the next life. Human beings who are “bursting with health” certainly had a keen interest in the visible world in a former incarnation. The detailed facts of life work very strongly in this respect.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships, Volume I: Lecture V – March 1, 1924