Between death and a new birth — and this begins immediately or soon after death — the dead has contact and can make links only with those human souls, whether still-living on Earth or in the spiritual world, with whom he has already had karmic connection on Earth, in the last or in an earlier incarnation. […]
With these he grows more and more closely acquainted. You must not imagine that their number is small, for individual human beings have already passed through many Earth lives. In every Earth life a whole host of karmic connections has been made and of these is spun the web which then, in the spiritual world, extends over all the souls whom the dead has known in life; only those with whom acquaintance has never been made remain outside the circle.
This indicates a truth which should be emphasised, namely, the supreme importance of the Earth life for the individual human being. If there had been no Earth life we should be unable to form links with human souls in the spiritual world. The links are made karmically on Earth and then continue between death and a new birth. Those who are able to see into that world perceive how the dead gradually makes more and more links — all of which are the outcome of karmic connections formed on Earth,
Just as concerning the first kingdom with which the dead comes into contact — the animal kingdom — we can say that everything the dead does, even when he simply moves, causes either pleasure or pain in his environment, so we can say concerning everything experienced in the human realm in yonder world that the dead is in much more intimate connection with human beings in the domain of soul-life. When the dead becomes acquainted with a soul, he gets to know this soul as if he himself were within it. After death knowledge of another soul is as intimate as knowledge here on Earth of our own finger, head or ear — we feel ourselves within the other soul. The connection is much more intimate than it can ever be on Earth.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 – The Dead Are With Us – Nüremberg, February 10, 1918
Translated by D.S. Osmond