As we know, man lives not only for himself but also in connection with human evolution as a whole. Usually when man passes through death his etheric body dissolves into the cosmos. A part of this dissolving etheric body always stays intact, however, and so we are always surrounded by these remaining parts of the etheric bodies of the dead, for our good, or also to our detriment. They affect us for good or ill according to whether we ourselves are good or bad. Far reaching effects emanate also from the etheric bodies of great individualities. Great forces emanating from the etheric body of Christian Rosenkreutz can work into our soul and also into our spirit. It is our duty to get to know these forces.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – ROSICRUCIAN CHRISTIANITY – Lecture 1 – Neuchatel, 27th September 1911