Knowledge and feeling of the life between death and new birth

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. We must realise that whether the future evolution of the human race will be furthered or impeded depends upon our active and creative co-operation with the super-sensible world in which we live between death and the new birth.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 141 – Between Death and Rebirth – Lecture 2 – Berlin, 20th November 1912

A much more magnificent work than all earthly cultural activity

It is doubtless justified to sing the praises of all that human beings are doing for civilization, for culture, on earth. Far from condemning this singing of praises, I declare myself, once and for all, in favor of it when it is done in a reasonable way. But a much more encompassing, a much more exalted, a much more magnificent work than all earthly cultural activity is performed by heavenly civilization, as it might be called, between death and a new birth: the spiritual preparation, the spiritual weaving of the human body. For nothing more exalted exists in the world order than the weaving of the human being out of the world’s ingredients. With the help of the gods, the human being is woven during the important period between death and a new birth.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 226 – Man’s Being, His Destiny and World-Evolution: Lecture II – Kristiana, 17th May 1923

Translated by Erna McArthur

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After death (3 of 5)

Between birth and death we have experienced this or that with this or that person or plant or mountain spring, with all we have approached during life. There is no single experience whose spiritual counterpart is not engraved into the spiritual world in which we are ever present, even while on earth. Every hand-shake we have exchanged has its spiritual counterpart; it is there, inscribed into the spiritual world. Only while we are surveying our life in the first days after death do we have these pictures of our life before us. These conceal, to a certain extent, what we have inscribed into the world through our deeds, thoughts and feelings.

The moment we pass through the gate of death to this other ‘life’, we are at once filled with the content of our life-tableau, i.e. with pictures which extend, in perspective, back to birth and even beyond. But all this vanishes into the wide cosmic spaces and we now see the spiritual counter-images of all the deeds we have done since birth. All the spiritual counter-images we have experienced (unconsciously, in sleep) become visible, and in such a way that we are immediately impelled to retrace our steps and go through all these experiences once more. In ordinary life, when we go from Dornach to Basle we know we can go from Basle to Dornach, for we have in the physical world an appropriate conception of space. But in ordinary consciousness we do not know, when we go from birth to death, that we can also go from death to birth. As in the physical world one can go from Dornach to Basle and return from Basle to Dornach, so we go from birth to death during earthly life, and, after death, can return from death to birth. This is what we do in the spiritual world when we experience backwards the spiritual counter-images of all we have undergone during earthly life. Suppose you have had an experience with something in the external realm of Nature — let us say, with a tree. You have observed the tree or, as a woodman, cut it down. Now all this has its spiritual counterpart; above all, whether you have merely observed the tree, or cut it down, or done something else to it, has its significance for the whole universe. What you can experience with the physical tree you experience in physical, earthly life;now, as you go backwards from death to birth, it is the spiritual counterpart of this experience that you live through.

If, however, our experience was with another human being — if, for example, we have caused him pain — there is already a spiritual counterpart in the physical world; only, it is not our experience: it is the pain experienced by the other man. Perhaps the fact that we were the cause of his pain gave us a certain feeling of satisfaction; we may have been moved by a feeling of revenge or the like. Now, on going backwards through our life, we do not undergo our experience, but his. We experience what he experienced through our deed. That, too, is a part of the spiritual counterpart and is inscribed into the spiritual world.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction – Lecture IX – Dornach, 10th February 1924

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After death (2 of 5)

It is really as if we saw what we have actually been calling our ego during earthly life, disappear into the wide spaces of the cosmos. This experience lasts a few days and, when these have passed, we feel that we ourselves are being expanded too. Between birth and death we feel ourselves within our memories; and now we actually feel ourselves within these rapidly retreating memories and being received into the wide spaces of the universe.

After we have suffered this super-sensible stupor, or faintness, which takes from us the sum-total of our memories and our inner consciousness of earthly life, we live in the third phase of memory. This third phase of memory teaches us that what we had called ourself during earthly life — in virtue of our memories — has spread itself through the wide spaces of the universe, thereby proving its insubstantiality for us. If we were only what can be preserved in our memories between birth and death, we would be nothing at all a few days after death.

But we now enter a totally different element. We have realised that we cannot retain our memories, for the world takes them from us after death. But there is something objective behind all the memories we have harboured during earthly life. The spiritual counterpart, of which I spoke yesterday, is engraved into the world; and it is this counterpart of our memories that we now enter. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction – Lecture IX – Dornach, 10th February 1924

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