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.