Here in physical life we realise our Ego through the fact — which I have often pointed out — that we stand in a certain relation to our body. Consider: if you reflect closely on a dream you will say: In the dream you have no clear feeling of the Ego, but often a feeling of separation. That is because man here on the physical plane only really feels his Ego through contact with his body. You can represent it very crudely thus: If you move your finger through the air — there is nothing there! Move it further — there is still nothing. When you touch something, however, in coming against something, you know of yourself, you become aware of yourself. We are thereby made aware of our Ego. Not the Ego itself is aroused — the Ego is a Being — but the consciousness of the Ego. The opposition makes us aware of our Self. Thus we are Ego-conscious in the physical body because of our living in it. For this reason we have received the physical body. In the life between death and rebirth we have an Ego-consciousness, because we have received the forces which proceed from the vision of the previous life. We come to a certain extent in contact with that which the world of space gives us and thereby win our Ego-consciousness for the life between birth and death. We come in contact with that which we ourselves have experienced between birth and death in the last life, and thereby have our Ego-consciousness for the life between death and rebirth.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 157a – THE FORMING OF DESTINY AND LIFE AFTER DEATH: 2. On the forming of Destiny – Berlin,18 November 1915
PORTRAIT BUST BY DAVID DOZIER