Necessary knowledge

Nobody can fail to realise that it is just as necessary for a human being to have knowledge, feeling and perceptiveness of the life between death and the new birth as of earthly life itself. For when he enters earthly life at birth, the confidence, strength and hopefulness connected with that life depend upon what forces he brings with him from the life between the last death and the present birth. But again, the forces we are able to acquire during that life depend upon our conduct in the earlier incarnation, upon our moral and religious disposition or the quality of our attitude of soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 141 – Between Death and Rebirth: LECTURE TWO – Berlin, 20th November 1912

Translated by E.H. Goddard & D.S. Osmond

Previously posted on July 28, 2018

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Usually people do not know a lot or nothing at all about their former incarnations

The human being living on earth knows nothing of his former incarnations with the usual external consciousness. Indeed, we know that there are people among the theosophists who after a relatively short time know a lot of their former incarnations. Once I got to know a group of people in a European city where Seneca [Seneca (~1–65 A. D.), Roman philosopher], Frederic II of Prussia [Frederic II of Prussia (1712–1786)], the German Emperor Joseph II [German Emperor Joseph II (1741–1790)], the Duke of Reichstadt [Duke of Reichstadt (1811–1831), Napoleon Franz Bonaparte von Reichstadt, son of Napoleon I.], Madame Pompadour [Madame Pompadour (Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson) (1721–1764)], Marie-Antoinette [Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France (1755–1793)] and still some other people were sitting together at a coffee table.

But apart from those who know so much about their former incarnation, after they have learnt a little theosophy, people do not know a lot, as everybody knows, or nothing at all about their former incarnations with their everyday external knowledge. Since, as true as it is that the human being knows nothing of his previous incarnations by that which just the present human cycle gives him, it is true that he has everything for his will development after death that remained to him from previous lives. There it is different between death and a new birth. Whereas people know nothing about their previous incarnations between birth and death here, they have all the forces of their previous incarnations in themselves in the life between death and a new birth, but also that which has always been experienced between death and a new birth.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 159 – The Mystery of Death – Cologne, 19th June 1915

Previously posted on June 6, 2018

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Kamaloka – The positive develops out of the negative (1 of 3)

One idea, one characteristic, which has indeed been expressed many times already, but which we will once more bring forward in connection with the life which occupies a third of the earth-life just elapsed, and which we are accustomed to call the life in Kamaloka. If you are living here on the earth and somebody strikes you, you are aware of it. You perceive it, and say: he has struck me. And as a rule it makes a difference whether somebody hits you, or whether you hit him, and if you hear something said by someone, you have not the same experience as when you yourself say something. 

All this is quite reversed in Kamaloka life, in which we live our life backwards between death and rebirth. To use this rough illustration it is then as follows. If you have given anybody a blow in life, you feel what the other person felt through the blow. If you have injured another through a word, you experience the feeling you caused him. Thus you feel the experience of the other soul. In other words, you experience the results brought about by your own deeds. We experience in this journey backwards everything which other people have experienced through us during our life here, between birth and death. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 157a – The Forming of Destiny and Life after Death: LECTURE 2: ON THE FORMING OF DESTINY – Berlin, 18th November, 1915

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on May 2, 2018

A moment of supreme importance

I have told you that the Event of the Mystery of Golgotha was a moment of supreme importance for the evolution of the world. The Christ appeared in the realm into which man enters after death, where Ahriman’s influence was even mightier than in the world around man here on earth between birth and death. In the realm of existence between death and rebirth, Ahriman’s influences worked upon man with terrible, overwhelming power.

And if nothing else had taken place, utter darkness would gradually have closed in upon man in the ‘realm of Shades’ — as it was correctly designated by the ancient Greeks. A condition of complete isolation, leading to the intensification of egoism would have set in between death and rebirth; man would have been born into his new life as a gross and overweening egotist. Hence it is more than a figure of speech to say that after the Event of Golgotha, at the moment when the Blood flowed from the wounds, the Christ appeared in yonder world, in the realm of the Shades, and cast Ahriman into fetters. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The Deed of Christ and the Opposing Spiritual Powers: Mephistopheles and Earthquakes – Berlin, 1st January 1909

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

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Previously posted on December 15, 2017

Supreme importance of Earth life

Between death and a new birth — and this begins immediately or soon after death — the dead has contact and can make links only with those human souls, whether still-living on Earth or in the spiritual world, with whom he has already had karmic connection on Earth, in the last or in an earlier incarnation. […] 

With these he grows more and more closely acquainted. You must not imagine that their number is small, for individual human beings have already passed through many Earth lives. In every Earth life a whole host of karmic connections has been made and of these is spun the web which then, in the spiritual world, extends over all the souls whom the dead has known in life; only those with whom acquaintance has never been made remain outside the circle.

This indicates a truth which should be emphasised, namely, the supreme importance of the Earth life for the individual human being. If there had been no Earth life we should be unable to form links with human souls in the spiritual world. The links are made karmically on Earth and then continue between death and a new birth. Those who are able to see into that world perceive how the dead gradually makes more and more links — all of which are the outcome of karmic connections formed on Earth,

Just as concerning the first kingdom with which the dead comes into contact — the animal kingdom — we can say that everything the dead does, even when he simply moves, causes either pleasure or pain in his environment, so we can say concerning everything experienced in the human realm in yonder world that the dead is in much more intimate connection with human beings in the domain of soul-life. When the dead becomes acquainted with a soul, he gets to know this soul as if he himself were within it. After death knowledge of another soul is as intimate as knowledge here on Earth of our own finger, head or ear — we feel ourselves within the other soul. The connection is much more intimate than it can ever be on Earth. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 – The Dead Are With Us – Nüremberg, February 10, 1918

Translated by D.S. Osmond