All intellectual reasoning must cease when it is a matter of earlier earthly lives

The moment we turn from one earthly life to an earlier life in the past, all intellectual reasoning comes to a standstill. Vision alone is the criterion here. A last vestige of intellectual understanding is possible when it is a matter of relating earthly life to the last phase of existence between death and rebirth from which it has directly proceeded — that is, to the life of soul-and-spirit just before the descent to earth. Here, up to a point, an intellectual approach is possible. When, however, it is a matter of showing the relation between one earthly life and a preceding incarnation, this can be done only in the form of narrative, for vision is the sole criterion.

In undertaking such investigations it is absolutely essential to get rid of all preconceived notions. If, because of some opinion or view we may hold concerning the present or the last earthly life of a human being, we imagine that it is justifiable to argue intellectually that because of what he is now, he must have been this or that in an earlier incarnation — if we make judgments of this kind, we shall go astray, or at any rate it will be very easy to go astray. To base an intellectual judgment of one incarnation upon another in this way would be just as if we were to go into a house for the first time, look out of the windows facing north, and seeing trees outside were to conclude from these trees what the trees look like from the windows facing south. What must be done is to go to the south windows, see the trees there and look at them with entirely unbiased eyes.

In the same way, all intellectual reasoning must cease when it is a matter of apprehending the Imaginations which correspond to the earlier earthly lives of the personalities in question.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships, Volume I: Lecture VIII – Dornach, 9th March, 1924

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

Previously posted on January 18, 2015

Effect of hate after death

Let us consider what is yet another real experience to the seer. When we contemplate people who live between death and rebirth and seek to translate into our language what torments them, they tell us the following. “Something lives in me that causes me to suffer. It rises up out of my own self. It is akin to a headache in the physical world, except that the pain is experienced inwardly. I am myself the one who causes the pain.” A human being after death may complain of much inner pain, inner suffering.

Now if the seer traces the origin of the inner suffering that strikes souls after death, he discovers that it comes from the way of life of these people here on earth. Suppose a person has felt a quite unjustifiable loathing for a fellow human being. Then the one who hated experiences inner pain after death, and he now suffers inwardly what he has inflicted on the other.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: IX: Life After Death – Linz, January 26, 1913

Translated by Rene Querido