A stroke of destiny

A stroke of destiny that befalls a person during life in the physical world may seem, from the point of view of that (physical) life, to contain something altogether opposed to the man’s own will. In the life between death and rebirth a force, resembling will, rules in the soul that gives to the person the tendency toward experiencing this very blow of fate. The soul sees, as it were, that an imperfection has clung to it from earlier earth-lives — an imperfection that had its origin in an ugly deed or an ugly thought. Between death and re-birth, there arises in the soul a will-like impulse to make good this imperfection. The soul, therefore, becomes imbued with the tendency to plunge into a misfortune in the coming earth-life, in order, through enduring it, to bring about equilibrium. After its birth in the physical body, the soul, when met by some hard fate, has no glimmering of the fact that in the purely spiritual life before birth, the impulse that led to this hard fate has been voluntarily accepted by it. What, therefore, seems completely unwished for from the point of view of earth-life is willed by the soul itself in the supersensible.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – Theosophy: Addenda (No. 12)

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

Previously posted on March 31, 2018

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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

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Opposition to Anthroposophy

It might, of course, be argued that Anthroposophy could also be made more widely known through public lectures given to entirely unprepared listeners; but those who belong to our groups in a more intimate sense will realise that the whole tone, the whole manner of delivering a lecture to an unprepared public must necessarily be different from that of a lecture given to those who through an inner urge and through their whole attitude, are able to take seriously what the general public would not yet be able to accept. Quite certainly this state of things will not improve in the immediate future—on the contrary, the opposition will become stronger and stronger. Opposition to Anthroposophy in every domain will increase in the outside world, just because it is in the highest degree necessary for our age, and because what is the most essential at any particular time always encounters the strongest resistance.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 5. Reincarnation and karma: the fundamental ideas of the anthroposophical world conception. The strengthening of the moral life – Berlin, 5 March 1912

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

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Bust by David Dozier

Variety in the different incarnations (2 of 2)

And it must be constantly emphasised that when anthroposophists have the desire to sacrifice themselves, such desire is not enough. Many people would like to sacrifice themselves all the time — they feel happy in so doing — but before anyone can make a sacrifice of real value to the world he must have the strength required for it. A man must first be something before he can usefully sacrifice himself; otherwise the sacrifice of egohood is not of much value. Moreover in a certain respect a kind of egoism — although it is repressed — a kind of laziness, is present when a man makes no effort to develop, to persevere in his strivings, so that what he can achieve is of real value.

It might seem — but please do not misunderstand this — as though we were preaching lovelessness. The outer world is very prone to-day to reproach anthroposophists by saying: You aim at perfecting your own souls, you strive for the progress of your own souls. You become egoists! — It must be admitted that many capricious fancies, many failings and errors may arise in men’s endeavours towards perfection. What very often appears to be the principle of development adopted among anthroposophists does not by any means always call for admiration. Behind this striving there is often a great deal of hidden egoism.

On the other side it must be emphasised that we are living in an epoch of civilisation when devoted willingness for sacrifice only too often goes to waste. Although lack of love is in evidence everywhere, there is also an enormous waste of love and willingness for sacrifice. This must not be misunderstood; but it should be realised that love, if it is not accompanied by wisdom in the conduct of life, by wise insight into the existing conditions, can be very misplaced and therefore harmful rather than beneficial. 

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.

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Variety in the different incarnations (1 of 2)

Just as the sex usually alternates in the successive incarnations, so, as a rule, an incarnation with a more intellectual trend follows one more inclined towards faith, then again towards intellectuality, and so forth. There are, of course, exceptions — there may be several consecutive male or female incarnations. But as a rule these qualities are mutually fruitful and complementary.

Other qualities in the human being are also complementary in a similar way, for example, the two qualities of soul we will call the capacity for love and inner strength.

Self-reliance, harmonious inner life, a feeling of our own sure foundations, the inner assurance that we know what we have to do in life—in this connection too the working of karma alternates in the different incarnations. The outstanding stamp of the one personality is loving devotion to his environment, forgetfulness of self, surrender to what is around him. Such an incarnation will alternate with one in which the individual feels the urge not to lose himself in the outer world but to strengthen himself inwardly, applying this strength to bring about his own progress. This latter urge must not, of course, degenerate into lack of love, any more than the former urge must not degenerate, as it might well do, into a complete loss of one’s own self. These two tendencies again belong together. 

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.

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