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



Everything that a man thinks and feels has its effects in the outer world

It is so often said in everyday life: Thoughts are duty-free! — meaning that we can think what we like and nobody in the external world will be affected. This is one important point where a man who has really grasped spiritual impulses is at variance with the materialistic thinker.

The materialist agrees that injury is caused if he throws a stone at a man, but he thinks that a thought of hatred which he may harbour against a fellow-creature, does not hurt him. Those however who have real knowledge of the world know that far, far stronger effects proceed from a thought filled with hatred than can ever be caused by a stone. Everything that a man thinks and feels has its effects in the outer world and the seer can follow with great precision the effect of a loving thought that goes out to another man, and the very different effect that is produced by a thought filled with hatred. When you send out a loving thought to someone the seer perceives a form of light shaped like a sort of flower-calyx, playing around his etheric and astral bodies, thereby contributing something to his vitality and happiness. On the other hand a thought of hatred bores its way into the etheric and astral bodies like a wounding arrow.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Theosophy of the Rosicrucian: VI: The Law of Destiny – Munich, 30th May 1907

Translated by M. Cotterell & D.S. Osmond

Previously posted on December 23, 2018


Kind words have a direct effect on us

The kind words spoken to us have a direct effect on us, just as color affects our eyes directly. The love living in the other’s soul is borne into your soul on the wings of the words. This is direct perception; there can be no question here of interpretation. […] 

We live with the souls of others just as we live with colors and sounds. Anyone who does not realize this knows absolutely nothing of our inner life. It is very important to understand these things. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 169 – Toward Imagination: Lecture 3: The Twelve Human Senses – Berlin, 20th June 1916

Translated by Sabine H. Seiler

Previously posted on July 29, 2018


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 R.M. Querido

Previously posted on June 7, 2017

Inversion of cause and effect

An example will demonstrate how necessary it is to think about things in a really practical manner. Let us imagine that for some reason or other a man climbs a tree. He falls from the tree, strikes the ground, and is picked up dead. Now, the thought most likely to occur to us is that the fall killed him. We would be inclined to say that the fall was the cause and death the effect. In this instance cause and effect seem logically connected. But this assumption may completely confuse the true sequence of facts, for the man may have fallen as a consequence of heart failure. 

To the observer the external event is exactly the same in both cases. Only when the true causes are known can a correct judgment be formed. In this case it might have been that the man was already dead before he fell and the fall had nothing to do with his death. It is thus possible to invert completely cause and effect. In this instance the error is evident, but often they are not so easily discernible. The frequency with which such errors in thinking occur is amazing.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 108 – Practical Training In Thought – Carlsruhe, January 18, 1909

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