The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 6 of 6)

In characterising this state of civilisation we can only say that it is complex in the highest degree. It must also be said that the connection between what man does, what he carries out, and what he loves, is weakening all the time. And if we were to count those people who in their positions in external life to-day are obliged to engage in some activity that goes much against the grain, their number would by far exceed the number of those who affirm: I can only say that I love my external occupation, that it brings me happiness and contentment.

Only recently I heard of a strange statement made by someone to a friend. He said: ‘When I look back over my life in all its details I confess that if I had to live through it again from childhood to the present moment, I should do exactly the same things I have done up to now.’ — The friend replied: ‘Then you are one of those most rarely to be found at the present time!’ — The friend was probably right, as far as most men of the modern age are concerned. Not many of our contemporaries would assert that, if it depended on them, they would without hesitation begin life all over again, together with everything it has brought in the way of happiness, sorrow, blows of fate, obstacles, and would be quite content if everything were exactly the same again.

It cannot be said that the fact just mentioned — namely that there are so few people nowadays who would be willing to recapitulate the karma of their present life together with all its details — it cannot be said that this is unconnected with what the prevailing cultural state of humanity has brought in its train. Our life has become more complex but it has been made so by the different karmas of the personalities living on the earth to-day. Of that there can be no doubt at all. Nor will those who have the slightest insight into the course taken by human evolution be able to speak of any possibility of a less complicated life in the future. On the contrary, the complexity of external life will steadily increase and however many activities are taken over from man in the future by machines, there can be very few lives of happiness in this present incarnation unless conditions quite different from those now prevailing are brought about. And these different conditions must be the result of the human soul being convinced of the truth of reincarnation and karma.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

reincarnationkarma1977_covs

The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 5 of 6)

You may say: You are telling us very strange things. They may be all very well for poets or writers, or others engaged in spiritual pursuits. To such people you do well to preach that they should love, delight in, be devoted to, their particular positions in life. But what of all those human beings whose situations, in their very nature and with the labours they involve, cannot possibly be particularly welcome but will inevitably evoke the feeling of belonging to the neglected or oppressed? — Who would deny that a large proportion of the efforts made in modern civilization aim at introducing into life continuous improvements which may help to get rid of the discontent at having been placed in such unpleasant situations? How numerous are the different institutions and sectarian endeavours to better life in all directions in order that even from the external aspect the earthly life of mankind might be bearable!

None of these endeavours reckon with the fact that the kind of discontent inevitably brought by life to numbers of people to-day is connected in many respects with the whole course taken by the evolution of humanity, that fundamentally speaking, the way in which men developed in past ages led to karma of this kind, and that out of the combined working of these different karmas the present state of human civilisation has proceeded.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

reincarnationkarma1977_covs

The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 4 of 6)

Above all it follows from the idea of karma that we should not feel ourselves to have been placed by chance into the world-order, into the positions in which we find ourselves in life; on the contrary, we should feel that a kind of subconscious decision of the will underlies it, that as the result of our earlier incarnations, before we passed into this earthly existence out of the spiritual world between death and a new birth, we resolved in the spiritual world—a resolve we merely forgot when we incarnated in the body — to occupy the very position in which we now find ourselves.

Consequently it is the outcome of a prenatal, pre-earthly decision of the will that we are assigned to our particular place in life and have the actual inclination to steer towards the blows of destiny that befall us. If a man then becomes convinced of the truth of the law of karma, he will inevitably begin to incline towards, even possibly to love, the position in the world in which he has placed himself — no matter what it may be.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

reincarnationkarma1977_covs

The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 3 of 6)  

But all external life as it presents itself to-day is the picture of a social condition which, in its development, has excluded, has indeed refuted, the idea of reincarnation and karma. External life to-day is organised almost as if there were a deliberate desire to quash any possibility of men being able, through their own inner development, to discover the reality of reincarnation and karma. 

In point of fact there is, for example, nothing more hostile to a real conviction of reincarnation and karma than the principle that a man must be remunerated, must receive wages corresponding to his actual labour. To speak like this seems utterly eccentric! Do not, however, take this example to imply that Anthroposophy would wish to throw to the winds the principles of an established practice and to introduce a new social order overnight! That cannot be. But men must become alive to the thought that no fundamental conviction of reincarnation can ever flourish in a world-order in which it is held that there must be a direct correspondence between wages and labour, in which man is obliged, through the labour he performs, to obtain the necessities of life. 

Naturally the prevailing conditions must remain, to begin with, for it will be clear, above all to anthroposophists, that what exists is in turn the outcome of karmic law and in this sense is justified and inevitable. But it is absolutely essential for men to be able to realise that what can, nay must, ensue from recognition of the idea of reincarnation and karma, unfolds as a new seed in the organism of our world-order.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

reincarnationkarma1977_covs

The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 2 of 6)  

Naturally it will not do to think: Now, reinforced with the knowledge of reincarnation and karma, I shall at once be able to grapple with external life. That, of course, is not possible. The essential thing is to understand how the truths of reincarnation and karma can penetrate into external life in such a way that they become its guiding principles.

Now let us consider how karma works through the different incarnations. When a human being comes into the world, his powers and capacities must, after all, be regarded as the effects of causes he himself engendered in earlier incarnations. If this idea is led to its consistent conclusion, every human being must be treated as if he were a kind of enigma, as a being hovering in the dark foundations of his earlier incarnations. If this idea of karma is put earnestly into effect a significant change will be brought about, not in methods of education only but in the whole of life. If that were achieved, the idea of karma, instead of being merely an anthroposophical idea, would be transformed into something that takes hold of practical life itself, would become a really potent factor in life.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

reincarnationkarma1977_covs