Here, on earth, death has a terrifying aspect

Here, on earth, death has a terrifying aspect only because we look upon it as a kind of dissolution, as an end. But when we look back upon the moment of death from the other side, from the spiritual side, then death continually appears to us as a victory of the spirit, as the Spirit that is extricating itself from the physical. It then appears as the greatest, most beautiful and significant event. Moreover, this experience kindles that which constitutes our ego-consciousness after death. Throughout the time between death and a new birth we have an ego-consciousness that not only resembles but far exceeds that which we have here during our physical life. We would not have this ego-consciousness if we could not look back incessantly, if we would not always see — but from the other side, from the spiritual side — that moment in which our spiritual part extricated itself from the physical. We know that we are an ego only because we know that we have died, that our spiritual has freed itself from our physical part. When we cannot contemplate the moment of death, beyond the portal of death, then our ego-consciousness after death is in the same case as our physical ego-consciousness here upon the earth when we are asleep. Just as we know nothing of our physical ego-consciousness when we are asleep, so we know nothing concerning ourselves after death if we do not constantly have before us the moment of death. It stands before us as one of the most beautiful and loftiest moments.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – The Moment of Death and the Period Thereafter – Leipzig, February 22nd, 1916

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It is said that death is a riddle that no one ever has, or ever will solve

Death is indeed life’s greatest riddle, so much so that the individual who could solve it would have solved also the other great riddle, that of life itself.

It is said that death is a riddle that no one ever has, or ever will solve. People who speak like that have no notion of the arrogance (German: Unbescheidenheit) the words imply, nor of the fact that a solution to the riddle does exist, but a solution they fail to understand.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – Supersensible Knowledge – Lecture VI: Illness and Death – Berlin, 13th December 1906

Translated by Rita Stebbing

Previously posted on May 23, 2016

How an initiate experiences his own death

For the initiate the next physical death is an entirely different event from the death as he knew it formerly. He experiences death consciously by laying aside the physical body as one discards a garment that is worn out or perhaps rendered useless through a sudden rent. Thus his physical death is of special importance only for those living with him, whose perception is still restricted to the world of the senses. For them the student dies; but for himself nothing of importance is changed in his whole environment. The entire supersensible world stood open to him before his death, and it is this same world that now confronts him after death.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds – IX – The Guardian of the Threshold

Translated by George Metaxa, with revisions by Henry B. Monges

Previously posted on December 18, 2015

Self-indulgent and unscrupulous people become slaves to evil spirits after death

We see many souls who are condemned for a certain time between death and a new birth to be the slaves of the spirits who send sickness and death into physical life. Thus we see there souls between death and a new birth who are under the dominion of beings whom we call the Ahrimanic spirits, or the spirits of hindrance, of those who work at death in life, and of those who bring obstacles into life.

And a hard lot it is which the seer observes, in some souls, when they have to submit in this manner to the slave yoke. If one traces back such souls to the life they led before they passed the portals of death, one finds that the souls who for a certain time after death must serve the spirits of resistance have prepared this for themselves by self-indulgence during life. And the slaves of the spirits of sickness and death have prepared this fate for themselves by having been unscrupulous before death. So there we see a certain relation of the souls of men to the evil spirits of sickness and death, and to the evil spirits of resistance.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Occult Research into Life Between Death and a New Birth: THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MUTUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE LIVING AND THE SO-CALLED DEAD – Stuttgart, February 20, 1913

Translated by Ruth Hofrichter

The death of something that is merely regarded as religion

It is well-nigh incomprehensible to me that again, quite recently, anthroposophical Spiritual Science should have been accused by theological circles of destroying the religious life. It has been said, for example: the life of Anthroposophy betokens the death of religion!

Now the life of Anthroposophy is indissolubly bound up with that life of the soul in which the very deepest forces of religion unfold. This search for super-sensible realities cannot betoken the death of religion — at most it might betoken the end of something that is merely regarded as religion and is already dead. If, indeed, this is what has happened to religion, Anthroposophy would simply be opening up a vista of death.

By its very nature, however, being a living path to the super-sensible realities, Anthroposophy is a means whereby the religious feelings, the whole-hearted devotion of men to the super-sensible worlds may be enhanced, quickened, pervaded with warmth.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 79 – On the Reality of Higher Worlds – Christiania (Oslo), November 25, 1921

Translation by D. S. Osmond