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.



The principle “I believe” has to be replaced with “I believe what I know.”

Truly spiritual thoughts nourish our soul and maintain it. It would be the death of our soul if it always had to live in thoughts taken only from the physical world. In earlier times, religious beliefs were such spiritual thoughts human souls need. That phase of our development has been completed, and we live now in a time when we on earth will gradually lose the ability to take in what speaks only to our emotions, our faith. 

We can still preserve this faith for a time, galvanizing it, so to speak, but we cannot keep it for the future. The principle “I believe” has to be replaced with “I believe what I know.” People will begin to feel that this new principle must be applied. Otherwise we deny ourselves any possibility of knowing something about the life between death and a new birth. Then we would return to pitiful conditions in our next incarnation.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path: LECTURE SIX: FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE – Prague, April 17, 1914

Translated by Christian von Arnim


Those who eat in order to live / Those who live in order to eat

There are men … how shall I speak of them? Let us say they are ready eaters; they are fond of eating. Others are not so fond of eating. I do not want to say gluttonous people and non-gluttonous people for this would hardly be in place in a serious study. But I will say: there are people who are fond of eating and there are others who are less fond of it. This too is connected in a certain sense with what the human being experiences in his passage between death and a new birth, before and after the midnight summit of existence. The middle point here is the midnight summit of existence.

There are human beings who, as I will put it, ascend very high into the spiritual, and there are others who do not rise so high. Those who ascend very high will eat in order to live. Those who do not rise so high will live in order to eat.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 236 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume II – Lecture VIII – Dornach, 10th May 1924

Translated by G. Adams, M. Cotterell, C. Davy, & D.S. Osmond

Previously posted on April 7, 2019


A faint reflection

What we experience in pre-earthly existence in working together with the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies leaves in us a heritage for our earthly life, a faint shadow of this communion with the Hierarchies. If between death and a new birth we had no such community of life with the Beings of the Hierarchies, we could not unfold, here on Earth, the power of love. 

The power of love we unfold here on Earth is of course only a faint reflection, a shadow of our communion with the Spirit-Beings of the Higher Hierarchies between death and a new birth, but it is a reflection of that communion. That here on the Earth we are able to unfold human love, sympathetic understanding for another human being, is due to the fact that between death and a new birth we are able to live in communion with the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 219 – Man and the World of Stars: IV: Rhythms of Earthly and Spiritual Life. Love, Memory, the Moral Life. – Dornach, December 15, 1922

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond


Previously posted on June 29, 2017

The dead are perpetually working into our physical world

You must remind yourselves that as well as living through his life here between birth and death, man passes again and again through the life between death and a new birth. Just as here on earth we have experiences through the instrumentality of our body, we also have experiences between death and a new birth, and these experiences are by no means without significance for what we do during our earthly existence in the physical body. But neither are they without significance for what happens on earth as a whole. 

For only part — and indeed the rather lesser part — of what happens on the earth originates from those who are living in the physical body. The dead are perpetually working into our physical world. The forces of which man is unwilling to speak today in the age of materialism are nevertheless at work in the physical world. Our physical environment is fashioned and permeated not only by the forces emanating from the spiritual world, from the Beings of the higher Hierarchies, but forces proceeding from the dead also penetrate into what surrounds and overtakes us here. So that a full and complete survey of man’s life is possible only if we look beyond what can be told us by knowledge obtained through the senses and through history, here on earth. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 196 – Some Conditions for Understanding Supersensible Experiences – Dornach, 18th January 1920

Previously posted on March 27, 2017