Accidental death and karma

Before you have lived through your present life, you have experienced many others. What you have experienced in your past life will be worked out in a particular way. For example, it might be that you need to have a long life this time so that everything can work out according to what occurred in previous earth lives. However, outer events can be in contradiction to this necessity. 

I could have an accident due to external circumstances, and I could die so that, for example, based on my previous earthly life, I die proportionately too early. In connection with the previous life on earth, it is not meant that I should die so early because I still have things to do on earth. However, I could still die. Please do not believe that it is definitely sure that I will not die! I might die; the accident might happen anyway. I might die so that my whole destiny would be changed. For I would not have the experience, I would have had to go through. My whole destiny would be changed! This is where the spiritual being who leads man from earthly life to earthly life can intervene and warn him. There is always an explanation for such a warning. 

But of course, the relations are incredibly complicated, and it can also be that this being who wants to protect the human being – if we’re going to call it that – has to do with other beings who prevent this warning. In the spiritual world, such conflicts can undoubtedly take place. But if these evil beings, if I may put it this way, have no particular interest in keeping this warning back, then it comes through. […] And so extraordinary things can happen, even outwardly; this happens countless times.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 350 – Rhythmen im Kosmos und im Menschenwesen / Wie kommt man zum Schauen der geistigen Welt? – Dornach, June 13, 1923 (page 92-93)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


Steiner about the suicide of Bernhard Suphan

From 1890-1897 Steiner worked at the Goethe-Archive at Weimar. Director was there Bernhard Suphan (1845-1911). In The Story of My Life Steiner writes about him:

When I came to Weimar, and entered into a close relationship with Bernhard Suphan, he was a man sorely tried in his personal life. His first and second wives, who were sisters, he had seen buried at an early age. He lived now with his two children in Weimar, grieving over those who had left him, and not feeling any happiness in life. His sole satisfaction lay in the good will which the Grand-duchess Sophie, his profoundly honoured lady, bore to him. In this respect for her there was nothing servile: Suphan loved and admired the Grand-duchess in an entirely personal way.

In loyal dependence was Suphan devoted to Herman Grimm. He had previously been honoured as a member of the household of Grimm in Berlin, and had breathed with satisfaction the spiritual atmosphere of that home. But there was something in him which prevented him from getting adjusted to life. One could speak freely with him about the highest spiritual matters, yet something bitter would easily come into the conversation, something arising from his experiences. Most of all did this melancholy dominate in his own mind; then he would help himself past these experiences by means of a dry humour. So one could not feel warm in his company. He could in a moment grasp some great idea quite sympathetically, and then, without any transition, fall immediately into the petty and trivial. He always showed good will toward me. In the spiritual interests vital within my own soul he could take no part, and at times treated them from the view-point of his dry humour; but in the direction of my work in the Goethe Institute and in my personal life he felt the warmest interest. 

I cannot deny that I was often painfully disturbed by what Suphan did, the way in which he conducted himself in the management of the Institute, and the direction of the editing of Goethe; I never made any secret of this fact. Yet, when I look back upon the years which I passed with him, this is outweighed by a strong inner interest in the fate and the personality of the sorely tried man. He suffered in his life, and he suffered in himself. I saw how in a certain way, with all the good aspects of his character and all his capacities, he sank more and more into a bottomless brooding which rose up in his soul. When the Goethe and Schiller archives were moved to the new building erected in Ilm, Suphan said that he looked upon himself in relation to the opening of this building like one of those human victims who in primitive times were walled up before the doors of sacred buildings to sanctify the thing. He had really come gradually to fancy himself altogether in the role of one sacrificed on behalf of something with which he did not feel that he was wholly united. He felt that he was a beast of burden working at this Goethe task with which others with higher intellectual gifts might have been occupied. In this mood I always found him later whenever I met him after I had left Weimar. He ended his life by suicide in a mood of depression.

Source: Rudolf Steiner –  GA 28 – The Story of my life – Chapter 14

Previously posted on March 25, 2018


Bernhard Suphan

Rudolf Steiner about the suicide of his friend Rudolf Ronsperger

To this time (1882) belongs still another youthful friendship very significant for me. This was with a young man who was in every way the opposite of the fair-haired youth. He felt that he was a poet. With him, too, I spent a great deal of time in stimulating talk. He was very sensitive to everything poetic. At an early age he undertook important productions. When we became acquainted, he had already written a tragedy, Hannibal, and much lyric verse.

I was with both these friends in the “practice in oral and written lectures” which Schröer conducted in the Hochschule. From this course we three, and many others, received the greatest inspiration. We young people could discuss what we had arrived at in our minds and Schröer talked over everything with us and elevated our souls by his dominant idealism and his noble capacity for imparting inspiration.

My friend often accompanied me when I had the privilege of visiting Schröer. There he always grew animated, whereas elsewhere a note of burden was manifest in his life. Because of a certain discord he was not ready to face life. No calling was so attractive to him that he would gladly have entered upon it. He was altogether taken up with his poetic interest, and apart from this he found no satisfying relation with existence. At last he had to take a position quite unattractive to him. With him also I continued my connection by means of letters. The fact that even in his poetry he could not find real satisfaction preyed upon his spirit. Life for him was not filled with anything possessing worth. I had to observe to my sorrow, how little by little in his letters and also in his conversation the belief grew upon him that he was suffering from an incurable disease. Nothing sufficed to dispel this groundless obsession. So one day I had to receive the distressing news that the young man who was very near to me had made an end of himself.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 28 – The Story of My Life – Chapter IV

Previously posted on March 23, 2018


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.


How an initiate experiences his own death

For the initiate the next physical death is an entirely different event from the death as he knew it formerly. He experiences death consciously by laying aside the physical body as one discards a garment that is worn out or perhaps rendered useless through a sudden rent. Thus his physical death is of special importance only for those living with him, whose perception is still restricted to the world of the senses. For them the student dies; but for himself nothing of importance is changed in his whole environment. The entire supersensible world stood open to him before his death, and it is this same world that now confronts him after death. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds – IX – The Guardian of the Threshold

Translated by George Metaxa, with revisions by Henry B. Monges

Previously posted on March 19, 2018