About the fear of death

At the moment of death, when the human being goes through the portal of death, he sees numerous hindering, malevolent forces approaching him. These forces, however, are usually drawn near through the fear of death. The greater the fear of death, the stronger their power is. Fear of death has always been a cause of anxiety at the moment of death. When, however, the dying person is aware that fear cannot change anything about the dying process that he has to go through, these forces and powers appear like desiccated bags.

The human being can only gain victory over the fear of death and bravely face it if he knows that in him is an immortal, eternal inner core for whom death is only a metamorphosis of life, a change of life form. As soon as the human being discovers his immortal inner core through spiritual science, he learns more and more how to overcome anxiety and in the long run all fear of death disappears as well. The more materialistic a person is however, all the more will he fear death.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlin, December 12, 1907 (page 146)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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STEINER AND MARIE VON SIVERS

Previously posted on July 17, 2018

Wishes and desires after death (2 of 3)

When death takes place, the possibility for the gratification of these desires is cut off. The enjoyment of appetizing food can come only through the physical organs that are used for taking in food: the palate, tongue, and so forth. After throwing off the physical body man no longer possesses these organs. But if the ego still has a longing for these pleasures, this longing must remain ungratified. In so far as this enjoyment is in accord with the spirit, it exists only as long as the physical organs are present. If it has been produced by the ego, without serving the spirit, it continues after death as desire, which thirsts in vain for satisfaction. We can only form an idea of what now takes place in the human being if we think of a person suffering from burning thirst in a region in which water is nowhere to be found. This, then, is the state of the ego, in so far as it harbors, after death, the unextinguished desires for the pleasures of the outer world and has no organs with which to satisfy them. Naturally, we must imagine the burning thirst that serves as an analogy for the conditions of the ego after death to be increased immeasurably, and imagine it spread out over all the other still existing desires for which all possibility of satisfaction is lacking. 

The next task of the ego consists in freeing itself from this bond of attraction to the outer world. In this respect the ego has to bring about a purification and emancipation within itself. All desires that have been created by it within the body and that have no inherent rights within the spiritual world must be rooted out. — Just as an object takes fire and is consumed, so is the world of desires, described above, consumed and destroyed after death. This affords us a glimpse into the world that supersensible knowledge designates as the “consuming fire of the spirit.” All desires of a sensual nature, in which the sensual is not an expression of the spirit, are seized upon by this “fire.” The ideas that supersensible knowledge must give in regard to these processes might be found to be hopeless and awful. It might appear terrifying that a hope, for whose realization sense organs are necessary, must change into hopelessness after death; that a desire, which only the physical world can satisfy, must turn into consuming deprivation. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – III. Sleep and Death

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

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About Christian Morgenstern

Of recent years, a man of poetic nature joined us [Christian Morgenstern]. Coming from a life that was dedicated to the purest idealism and had already undergone a mystical deepening, this man joined our Anthroposophical Movement. Although his soul dwelt in a failing body, he devoted himself heart and soul to our spiritual Movement. In the spring of this year we lost him from Earth-life; he passed through the gate of death. He left to mankind a series of wonderful poems, published in a volume that came out shortly after his death.

Owing to the difficulties of his bodily life he was separated in space from our Movement for long periods, either in a lonely spot in the Swiss mountains, or in some other place recommended for his health. But he remained attached to our Movement, from however far away, and his poems, which in certain anthroposophical circles have lately been recited over and over again, are the poetic reflection, as it were, of what we have been developing in Anthroposophy for more than ten years.

Now he has passed through the gate of death, and something very remarkable comes from occult observation of this soul. The significance of the soul’s life in that ailing body has become apparent only since death. While working faithfully with us for the progress of our Movement, this soul absorbed something that developed very great strength below the surface of the gradually dying body. This strength was concealed by the ailing body as long as the soul dwelt within it; but now, when one comes into the presence of this soul after death, there shines forth, as it can shine forth only in the spiritual life, the content of the life which this soul absorbed. The cloud-like sphere in which our friend now lives, after having passed through the gate of death, presents itself as a mighty cosmic tableau. For the occult observer this is a most striking sight.

Source; Rudolf Steiner – GA 155 – CHRIST AND THE HUMAN SOUL – Lecture 2 – Norrköping, 13th July, 1914

Translation by Charles Davy

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Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914)

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 March 19, 2018

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The way of the soul: from desire to love

The soul progresses on its pilgrimage through the world from desire to love. This is the way of the soul: from desire to love. The desiring soul sticks to the physical-sensuous. However, the loving one can be penetrated by the spirit, obeys the spirit, and fulfils the commandment of the spirit. This is the difference of the age of the souls. The young souls are the longing ones, the ripe souls are those which love, which make the spirit work in them. In the soul-world or in the astral world we see this soul body of the human being gleaming in its different qualities, and we can thereby distinguish the degree of maturity of a human soul. All qualities which we can observe in this soul body come from the devotion to the sensuous or from the devotion to the spiritual.     

Now we also understand what death means, actually. We want to try to understand the concept, the idea of death once with this idea just won. What happens at first when the human being dies? That which has followed not only the physical principles in his physical body up to now, but what has also complied with the soul principles: the hand which has moved in accordance with the feelings which have surged through the soul, the look which has looked out into the world because it has been carried by the spiritual qualities in the soul, the countenance which has changed its expression depending on the soul, everything that has obeyed the soul in life goes its own ways after the death of the body.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 53 – Origin and Destination of Humanity – Lecture VI: The Soul-world – Berlin 10th, November, 1904

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Rudolf Steiner and Annie Besant