A stroke of destiny

A stroke of destiny that befalls a person during life in the physical world may seem, from the point of view of that (physical) life, to contain something altogether opposed to the man’s own will. In the life between death and rebirth a force, resembling will, rules in the soul that gives to the person the tendency toward experiencing this very blow of fate. The soul sees, as it were, that an imperfection has clung to it from earlier earth-lives — an imperfection that had its origin in an ugly deed or an ugly thought. Between death and re-birth, there arises in the soul a will-like impulse to make good this imperfection. The soul, therefore, becomes imbued with the tendency to plunge into a misfortune in the coming earth-life, in order, through enduring it, to bring about equilibrium. After its birth in the physical body, the soul, when met by some hard fate, has no glimmering of the fact that in the purely spiritual life before birth, the impulse that led to this hard fate has been voluntarily accepted by it. What, therefore, seems completely unwished for from the point of view of earth-life is willed by the soul itself in the supersensible.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – Theosophy: Addenda (No. 12)

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.

Previously posted on March 31, 2018

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Accidental death and karma

Before you have lived through your present life, you have experienced many others. What you have experienced in your past life will be worked out in a particular way. For example, it might be that you need to have a long life this time so that everything can work out according to what occurred in previous earth lives. However, outer events can be in contradiction to this necessity. 

I could have an accident due to external circumstances, and I could die so that, for example, based on my previous earthly life, I die proportionately too early. In connection with the previous life on earth, it is not meant that I should die so early because I still have things to do on earth. However, I could still die. Please do not believe that it is definitely sure that I will not die! I might die; the accident might happen anyway. I might die so that my whole destiny would be changed. For I would not have the experience, I would have had to go through. My whole destiny would be changed! This is where the spiritual being who leads man from earthly life to earthly life can intervene and warn him. There is always an explanation for such a warning. 

But of course, the relations are incredibly complicated, and it can also be that this being who wants to protect the human being – if we’re going to call it that – has to do with other beings who prevent this warning. In the spiritual world, such conflicts can undoubtedly take place. But if these evil beings, if I may put it this way, have no particular interest in keeping this warning back, then it comes through. […] And so extraordinary things can happen, even outwardly; this happens countless times.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 350 – Rhythmen im Kosmos und im Menschenwesen / Wie kommt man zum Schauen der geistigen Welt? – Dornach, June 13, 1923 (page 92-93)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

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Karma

In fact the law of karma is the most consoling law there is. Just as it is true that nothing exists without a cause, so it is equally true that nothing existing remains without its effects. I may be born in poverty and misery; my abilities may be very limited; yet whatever I do must produce its effect, and whatever I accomplish now, by way of industry or moral activity, will certainly have its effect in later lives. If it depresses me to think that I have deserved my present destiny, it may equally cheer me to know that I can frame my future destiny myself.

Anyone who really takes this law into his thinking and feeling will soon realise what a sense of power and of security he has gained. We do not have to understand the law in all its details; that becomes possible only at the higher stages of clairvoyant knowledge. Much more important is it that we should look at the world in the light of this law and live in accordance with it. If we do this conscientiously over a period of years, the law will of its own accord become part of our feelings. We verify the truth of the law by applying it.


Source: GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VI – Stuttgart, 27th August 1906

Translated by E. H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on March 6, 2018

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Consolation: Any grief is the cause of a rise of the soul-life

The soul continually puts questions about the human destiny and his dissimilarity to itself. Can a thoughtful soul endure that on one side innocent human beings live in bitterness and misery, and on the other side, people live apparently in happiness who do not deserve it? This is the big question which the human soul has to put to destiny. As long as we consider life only between birth and death, we never find an answer to this riddle.

We never find consolation for the soul. If we look, however, at the law of karma, we know that any bitterness, any misery is the result of causes which were there in former lives. Then we say on one side: what the soul experiences today as its destiny is the effect of former experiences. This cannot be anything else.

Consolation becomes this explanation immediately when we look at the future because we say: somebody who experiences something painful or bitterness and grief today can complain of his destiny not only, but he has to say to himself: bitterness, heartache have effect on the future. What is your pain today is for your future life in such a way as the pain of a child if it falls: it learns to go. Thus any grief is the cause of a rise of the soul-life, and the soul finds consolation immediately if it says to itself: nothing is without effect. The life which I experience today must bear its fruit for the future.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 52 – Spiritual Teachings of Soul/World: Course V – Lecture I: What Does the Modern Human Being Find in Theosophy? – Berlin, March 8, 1904

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