It may seem now, as if the passage through the life between death and new birth makes it necessary that the consecutive lives on earth would be more and more perfect. However, this is virtually not the case, because it is true what already a great spirit said out of his almost ill soul: “the world is deep and deeper than the day has thought” (Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)). We can come only slowly and gradually to that what is put in us, and that our human forces are rather imperfect in relation to what they must become once, and what can stand as an ideal of true humanity before us.
Then it becomes apparent that we are not always able to survey after death which forces we have to appropriate in order to compensate the committed wrong. There many forces participate, so that it may be that we believe to compensate with an even bigger egoism or folly what we have committed from egoism or folly in the previous life. Thereby it can happen that the following incarnation is an even more imperfect one, an even harsher training than the previous one was. However, overall the course through the repeated lives is a rise. It is possible that the human being looking back at the past life can be in error concerning the way of compensating something and that thereby imaginary or real descents are caused. Overall, strong rises often follow deep “falls” of the human being, while after death the dreadful happens that we look back at a deep wrong we have committed, or what adhered to us as a big imperfection, and that we experience a big rise after a deep fall.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 63 – The Meaning of Immortality of the Human Soul – Berlin, 4 December 1913