The spirit form after death

We have seen that when a human being has passed through the gate of death and come into the super-sensible world, he reveals himself there to Imaginative vision in a spirit-form. You must understand, of course, that perception of the spiritual is quite different from perception of an object in the world of sense. For instance, those who are endowed with the faculty of spiritual vision will say: “Yes, I saw the phenomenon, but I could not tell you anything about the size of it.” The phenomena of the spiritual world are not spatial in the sense that a material object presented to the eye is spatial. Nevertheless, we can only describe them in such a way that they seem to resemble a visual image seen by the physical eye — or whatever other sense-impression we make use of in our description. You must bear this in mind in connection with all the descriptions I shall now be giving of what takes place in the super-sensible.

When a human being has passed through the gate of death, the spirit-form, of his head gradually fades away. On the other hand, the whole of the rest of his form becomes “physiognomy,” a physiognomy which expresses, for instance, how far the man was, in earthly life, a good man or a bad man, a wise man or a fool. These qualities can remain hidden in the material world; an out-and-out villain can walk about with an absolutely innocent face. But when the gate of death has been passed, they can no longer be concealed. There is no doing it with the face, for the face fades right away; and the rest of the form, which grows more and more like a physiognomy, allows nothing to be hid.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Supersensible Man: Lecture III – The Hague, 17th November 1923 (afternoon)

Translated by Mary Adams

Previously posted on January 18, 2017

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Nourishment to the dead

When we go to sleep at night, the ideas and thoughts which have passed through our consciousness in our waking hours begin to live, to be living beings. Then the souls of the dead draw near and share in these ideas, feeling nourished as they perceive them. When clairvoyant vision is directed to the dead who night after night make their way to the sleeping human beings left behind on earth — especially blood-relations but friends as well — seeking refreshment and nourishment from the thoughts and ideas that have been carried into sleep, it is a shattering experience to see that they often find nothing. For as regards the state of sleep there is a great difference between one kind of thought and another.

If throughout the day we are engrossed in thoughts connected with material life, if our mind is directed only to what is going on in the physical world and can be achieved there, if we have given no single thought to the spiritual worlds before passing into sleep but often bring ourselves into those worlds by means quite different from thoughts, then we have no nourishment to offer to the dead. 

I know towns in Europe where students induce sleepiness by drinking a lot of beer! The result is that they carry over thoughts which cannot live in the spiritual world. And then when the souls of the dead approach, they find barren fields; they fare as our physical body fares when famine prevails because our fields yield no crops. Especially at the present time much famine among souls can be observed in the spiritual worlds, for materialism is already very widespread. Many people regard it as childish to occupy themselves with thoughts about the spiritual world but thereby they deprive souls after death of needed nourishment.

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

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Charles Davy

Previously posted on January 17, 2017

What is the real nature of germs?

What is the real nature of germs? Well, here we come to a subject essential for human life. When we see the air around us filled with different species of birds and the water filled with fishes, when we observe the life forms that creep along the earth and others frolicking on it and revealing themselves to our senses, we are looking at beings we can correctly describe as creatures of the developing Godhead in one form or another, even if they are occasionally harmful. 

But in the case of germ-like creatures resident and active in other living beings, in plants, animals, or humans, we are dealing with creations of Ahriman. To understand the existence of such creatures correctly we must know that they express spiritual facts, namely the relationship between human beings and Ahriman. This relationship is established through a materialistic attitude and purely egotistical states of fear. We see the conditions allowing the existence of such parasitic beings correctly if we realize that they are a symptom of Ahriman intervening in the world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 –  The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path: LECTURE THREE: AWAKENING SPIRITUAL THOUGHTS – Basel, May 5, 1914

Translated by Christian von Arnim and edited by Joachim Reuter

If students are apt to be bored

If students are apt to be bored by what they have to listen to in preparation for their medical studies, it is not the fault of the natural science but of those who expound it. We should never speak of science as “boring,” but rather of “boring” professors! Truly the fault does not lie with science, for science has undoubtedly good solid matter to offer. However God-forsaken are many of those who expound science to-day, science herself has the co-operation of good Spirits. 

When, however, we turn from these achievements of genuine and scholarly research and listen to what psychologists and philosophers have to say about the soul or the eternal part of man, we very soon realise that, apart from what has come from earlier traditions, it is all words, words, words, which lead nowhither. If out of the deepest needs of his soul a man turns to-day to psychology or philosophy, he will not merely be bored, he will find nothing whatever to answer his questions.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Supersensible Man: Lecture I – The Hague, 13th November 1923

Translated by Mary Adams

Previously posted on January 15, 2017