After death (3 of 5)

Between birth and death we have experienced this or that with this or that person or plant or mountain spring, with all we have approached during life. There is no single experience whose spiritual counterpart is not engraved into the spiritual world in which we are ever present, even while on earth. Every hand-shake we have exchanged has its spiritual counterpart; it is there, inscribed into the spiritual world. Only while we are surveying our life in the first days after death do we have these pictures of our life before us. These conceal, to a certain extent, what we have inscribed into the world through our deeds, thoughts and feelings.

The moment we pass through the gate of death to this other ‘life’, we are at once filled with the content of our life-tableau, i.e. with pictures which extend, in perspective, back to birth and even beyond. But all this vanishes into the wide cosmic spaces and we now see the spiritual counter-images of all the deeds we have done since birth. All the spiritual counter-images we have experienced (unconsciously, in sleep) become visible, and in such a way that we are immediately impelled to retrace our steps and go through all these experiences once more. In ordinary life, when we go from Dornach to Basle we know we can go from Basle to Dornach, for we have in the physical world an appropriate conception of space. But in ordinary consciousness we do not know, when we go from birth to death, that we can also go from death to birth. As in the physical world one can go from Dornach to Basle and return from Basle to Dornach, so we go from birth to death during earthly life, and, after death, can return from death to birth. This is what we do in the spiritual world when we experience backwards the spiritual counter-images of all we have undergone during earthly life. Suppose you have had an experience with something in the external realm of Nature — let us say, with a tree. You have observed the tree or, as a woodman, cut it down. Now all this has its spiritual counterpart; above all, whether you have merely observed the tree, or cut it down, or done something else to it, has its significance for the whole universe. What you can experience with the physical tree you experience in physical, earthly life;now, as you go backwards from death to birth, it is the spiritual counterpart of this experience that you live through.

If, however, our experience was with another human being — if, for example, we have caused him pain — there is already a spiritual counterpart in the physical world; only, it is not our experience: it is the pain experienced by the other man. Perhaps the fact that we were the cause of his pain gave us a certain feeling of satisfaction; we may have been moved by a feeling of revenge or the like. Now, on going backwards through our life, we do not undergo our experience, but his. We experience what he experienced through our deed. That, too, is a part of the spiritual counterpart and is inscribed into the spiritual world.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction – Lecture IX – Dornach, 10th February 1924

Translated by Vera Compton-Burnett

Previously posted on April 5, 2018

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After death (2 of 5)

It is really as if we saw what we have actually been calling our ego during earthly life, disappear into the wide spaces of the cosmos. This experience lasts a few days and, when these have passed, we feel that we ourselves are being expanded too. Between birth and death we feel ourselves within our memories; and now we actually feel ourselves within these rapidly retreating memories and being received into the wide spaces of the universe.

After we have suffered this super-sensible stupor, or faintness, which takes from us the sum-total of our memories and our inner consciousness of earthly life, we live in the third phase of memory. This third phase of memory teaches us that what we had called ourself during earthly life — in virtue of our memories — has spread itself through the wide spaces of the universe, thereby proving its insubstantiality for us. If we were only what can be preserved in our memories between birth and death, we would be nothing at all a few days after death.

But we now enter a totally different element. We have realised that we cannot retain our memories, for the world takes them from us after death. But there is something objective behind all the memories we have harboured during earthly life. The spiritual counterpart, of which I spoke yesterday, is engraved into the world; and it is this counterpart of our memories that we now enter.

To be continued


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction – Lecture IX – Dornach, 10th February 1924

Translated by Vera Compton-Burnett

Previously posted on April 4, 2015

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Steiner by Bernhard Hoetger

After death (1 of 5)

When we go through the gate of death our life on earth is followed by a few days in which pictures of the life just ended come before us in a gigantic perspective. These pictures are suddenly there: the events of years long past and of the last few days are there simultaneously. As the spatial exists side by side and only possesses spatial perspective, so the temporal events of our earthly life are now seen side by side and possess ‘time-perspective’. This tableau appears suddenly, but, during the short time it is there, it becomes more and more shadowy, weaker and weaker. Whereas in earthly life we look into ourselves and feel that we have our memory-pictures ‘rolled up’ within us, these pictures now become greater and greater. We feel as if they were being received by the universe. What is at first comprised within the memory tableau as in a narrow space, becomes greater and greater, more and more shadowy, until we find it has expanded to a universe, becoming so faint that we can scarcely decipher what we first saw plainly. We can still divine it; then it vanishes in the far spaces and is no longer there.

That is the second form taken by memory — in a sense, its second metamorphosis — in the first few days after death. It is the phase which we can describe as the flight of our memories out into the cosmos. And all that, like memory, we have bound so closely to our life between birth and death, expands and becomes more and more shadowy, to be finally lost in the wide spaces of the cosmos.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction – Lecture IX – Dornach, 10th February 1924

Translated by Vera Compton-Burnett

Previously posted on April 3, 2018

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By David Newbatt

That terrible evil of our times

If a person looks back in a more unselfish way to what he has experienced in childhood, youth, etc. — according to the age he has reached — there emerges as if out of the gray depths of the spirit various persons who have had something to do with his life in all sorts of relationships.

Look back into your life and pay less attention to what interests you in your own respectable person and much more to those figures that have come into contact with you, educating you, befriending you, assisting you, perhaps also injuring you — often injuring you in a helpful way.

One thing will then become evident to you and that is how little reason a person really has to ascribe to himself what he has become. Often something important in us is due to the fact that one person or another came into contact with us at a certain age, and — perhaps, without knowing it himself, or perhaps, being fully aware of the fact — drew our attention to something or other. In a comprehensive sense, a really unselfishly conducted survey of our lives is made up of all sorts of things that do not give us occasion to immerse ourselves selfishly in our own being, to brood over ourselves egotistically, but lead us to broaden our views to include those figures who came into contact with us. Let us immerse ourselves with real love in what has come into our life. 

We shall often discover that what evoked an antipathy in us at a certain period is no longer so disagreeable to us when a sufficient length of time has passed because we begin to see an inner connection. The fact that we had to be affected in an unpleasant way at a certain time by one person or another might have been useful to us. We often gain more from the harm that a person does to us than from the furtherance afforded us by another. It would be advantageous to a person if he more frequently exercised such a survey of his life, and should permeate his life with the convictions flowing from his self observation. “How little occasion I really have to occupy myself with myself! How immeasurably richer my life becomes when I look back to all those who have entered my life!”

In this way we free ourselves from ourselves when we carry out such an unselfish survey. We then escape from that terrible evil of our times, to which so many fall victims, of brooding over ourselves. It is so extremely necessary that we should free ourselves from this brooding over ourselves. Anyone who has once felt the power of such self-observation as I have just described will find himself far too uninteresting to spend much time brooding over his own life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 186 – The Challenge of the Times – Lecture 5 – Dornach, 7th December 1918

Translated by Olin D. Wannamaker

Previously posted on March 7, 2018

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Karma

In fact the law of karma is the most consoling law there is. Just as it is true that nothing exists without a cause, so it is equally true that nothing existing remains without its effects. I may be born in poverty and misery; my abilities may be very limited; yet whatever I do must produce its effect, and whatever I accomplish now, by way of industry or moral activity, will certainly have its effect in later lives. If it depresses me to think that I have deserved my present destiny, it may equally cheer me to know that I can frame my future destiny myself.

Anyone who really takes this law into his thinking and feeling will soon realise what a sense of power and of security he has gained. We do not have to understand the law in all its details; that becomes possible only at the higher stages of clairvoyant knowledge. Much more important is it that we should look at the world in the light of this law and live in accordance with it. If we do this conscientiously over a period of years, the law will of its own accord become part of our feelings. We verify the truth of the law by applying it.


Source: GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VI – Stuttgart, 27th August 1906

Translated by E. H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on March 6, 2018

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