Kamaloka (purgatory, purification fire) – Part 3 of 5

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. Such a point of view is possible only as long as one does not consider the fact that all wishes and desires, which after death are seized by the “consuming fire,” in a higher sense represent not beneficial but destroying forces in life. 

By means of such destructive forces, the ego tightens the bond with the sense world more strongly than is necessary in order to absorb from this very sense world what is beneficial to it. This sense world is a manifestation of the spirit hidden behind it. The ego would never be able to enjoy the spirit in the form in which it is able to manifest through bodily senses alone, did it not want to use these senses for the enjoyment of the spiritual within the sense world. Yet the ego deprives itself of the true spiritual reality in the world to the degree that it desires the sense world without the spirit. 

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.


In Good Faith

Just think how often one hears these days – I have said this repeatedly for many years – when one or the other has lied, has significantly lied: “But he believed what he said, he said it to the best of his knowledge and in good faith”. – Yes, that does not change the objective facts any more than it changes anything if you put your finger in flaming fire to the best of your knowledge and in good faith; no providence will help you not to burn your finger even if you put it in the fire to the best of your knowledge and in good faith.

The same holds good in a larger context – and it would be sad if it were otherwise – it does not help to refer to ‘to the best of my knowledge and in good faith’. The human being is not free to say what is untrue in good faith and to the best of his knowledge, but he has an obligation to ensure that what he says is true. […]

There is no more enticing and seductive saying than this ‘in good faith’ […]. For this ‘in good faith’ is a comfortable bed for the extremely sluggish humanity that does not feel the obligation, when asserting something, to first ascertain whether it is true, whether or not it corresponds to the facts.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 205 – Menschenwerden, Weltenseele und Weltengeist – Dornach, July 17, 1921 (page 238-239)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


The reason why many people fear the spiritual world

In the fourth post-Atlantean age — people only know tales about it today and of course they do not believe them — there was an ordeal by fire. To prove guilt or innocence, people were made to walk a red hot grid. If they got burned, they were considered to be guilty, if not, if they walked across without being harmed, they were considered to be innocent.

People consider this to be an old superstition today, but it is true. It is one of the abilities people had in the past and are no longer able to have today. In those days, human nature had this quality: Innocents who were utterly convinced of their innocence and knew themselves to be in the protection of the divine spirits at such a solemn moment, people who were so firmly connected with the spiritual world in their consciousness that the astral body would be taken out of the physical body, could walk across the embers with their physical bodies. It really was so in the past. This is the truth. It is really a good thing for you to be fully and completely clear in your minds that this old superstition is based on truth — though of course it is not a good idea for you to go and tell the vicar all about it.

These things have undergone a transformation. In the past, individuals who had to prove their innocence in a particular way, could be made to walk the embers on occasion. You can, however, be quite certain, that, generally speaking, people were afraid of fire even then; they did not enjoy walking over red hot grids. Even in those days it would generally make them shudder — except for those who were able to prove their innocence in this way. But some of the power which carried people through the embers in those days has now become more inward in the sense I spoke of in my last lecture. The clairvoyance of the fifth post-Atlantean age, the connection with the world of the spirit, is based on the same powers, except that the powers which formerly enabled people to walk through fire have been transformed and become more inward.


If one wants to be in touch with certain factors which belong to the world of the spirit, one has to overcome much the same reluctance as had to be overcome when people went through fire. That is the reason why many people fear the spiritual world today as much as they fear fire. We cannot really say people are just speaking figuratively when they say they are afraid of getting burned; they really are afraid. This is the reason for the opposition to anthroposophy: people are afraid of getting burned. Yet the progress of time demands that we gradually approach the fire and do not shy away from reality.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the Spirits of Darkness: Lecture 7: Working from Spiritual Reality – Dornach, 12 October 1917

Translated by Anna R. Meuss

Earth, water, air, and fire (or warmth)

Spiritual Science knows of four states of matter: earth, water, air, and fire or warmth. 

By “earth” we mean all that is solid; thus frozen water or ice is included in “earth”. 


“Water” is all that is fluid; thus molten iron or metal is also “water.” 


Air is all that is gaseous; thus steam would come under the heading of “air.” 



According to the view of the Physicist of the present day, fire or warmth is only a state of matter, an extremely rapid vibration of its smallest particles. 

But to Spiritual Science warmth is also a substance, one much finer than air. According to Spiritual Science, when a body is heated it absorbs the substance of warmth; when it cools it parts with warmth, the substance of warmth can condense to air, this in its turn can condense to water, and this to earth.

All substances were once present merely as warmth. When the Earth was in the Saturn condition, only warmth existed.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – The Gospel of St. John – Lecture III – Basle, 18 November, 1907

Translator unknown

Both sides

People will only learn to think in a thorough, energetic way when they use the spiritual philosophy of life and train themselves to be all-rounders in this way, when they come to realize that everything needs to be considered from different angles. Practical life does already force us to do so day by day. People are quite right when they say that fire is a great boon. Yet it is also true to say that fire causes great harm, burning down towns and villages. It is not possible to be absolute and say “Fire is good”, or “Fire is evil”.  When it comes to fire, practical life teaches us to accept that there are two sides to it.

Yet when we are asked to do the same with spirits of the higher worlds, Lucifer and Ahriman, for instance, we are redundant to accept this. Instead we tend to ask: “is Lucifer a good or an evil spirit?” and “is Ahriman a good or an evil spirit?”. People want to have definitions to answer those questions, and an answer like “Lucifer and Ahriman may be both good and evil” is considered unsatisfactory. There is no such demand when it comes to fire.  There everyday life makes us change a wrong opinion into a right one.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 150 – Die Welt des Geistes und ihr Hereinragen in das physische Dasein – Stockholm, June 10, 1913 (page 86)

This English translation has been copied from the book: How the Spiritual World Projects into Physical Existence – The Influence of the Dead (page 65) – Published by Rudolf Steiner Press

Previously posted on December 19, 2016