Many children born during the last seven to ten years wear a melancholy expression

It may sound an extraordinary statement, but it is nevertheless true, that for some seven, eight or ten years now a real student of human life can observe quite a different expression on the faces of new-born babies. Many people, it is true, do not notice this, for the most important things of life pass unheeded to-day. But one who has acquired an eye for such things knows that very many children born during the last seven to ten years wear a melancholy expression. It is as if they ‘held back’ from the world. One might say that even from the first days of life, from the first week onwards, something different can be seen in the physiognomy of these children. And if we investigate this remarkable fact that seems so strange to the man of to-day, we find that the souls entering the world through birth bear within them from before conception and birth that which gives their faces this melancholy expression. Hidden though it often be behind all their smiles, it is nevertheless there in the faces of these children, almost from birth. It was not there formerly. In these souls there lives — though it is quite unconscious, of course — a “reluctance” to enter life. Souls entering through birth to-day feel a kind of hindrance, a difficulty, in entering the physical world.

Now it is a fact that man undergoes an important experience in the spiritual world before entering the physical world through conception and birth, and the effects of this experience are active in his coming life. Here on the earth men die; they pass through the gate of death, laying aside their physical bodies and taking their souls into the spiritual world. These souls still bear within them the effects of all they have experienced in the physical world. After passing through the gates of death human souls appear, on the whole, as the after-effects of what they have immediately experienced in earthly life. Now such souls meet those who are about to descend into a physical body. (This is actually the case. I can only tell you of it, for these things can only be brought from the spiritual world through actual experience of them.) This meeting between those souls who have just passed through the gate of death and those who are just about to enter the physical world through the gate of birth is an important event. Its effect is decisive in many respects. In a certain sense, its function is to give the descending souls some idea of what they will encounter here. It is from this meeting that the “impulse” is derived that stamps the peculiar expression of melancholy on the faces of children entering the world to-day. They do not want to enter the world of which they have learnt through this meeting. For they know how, in a sense, their “spiritual plumage” will be ruffled by what mankind, immersed in materialistic thoughts and feelings, views and deeds, is experiencing on the earth to-day.

This fact (which, naturally, can only be established spiritually) and other things beside throw a strong light on our whole age. The present times can only be understood on such a basis, and we ought to strive for such an understanding.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF TO-DAY – Heidenheim, June 12, 1919

Translated by H. Collison and M.A. (Oxon)

Sad Baby in Love

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Welfare and Misfortune

Knowledge of higher worlds by no means concerns only the individual human being, only his personal welfare and misfortune. Precisely through true occult-scientific observations man arrives at the certainty that, from a higher standpoint, the welfare and misfortune of the individual is intimately bound up with the welfare or misfortune of the whole world. The human being comes to understand that he injures the whole universe and all its beings by not developing his forces in the proper way. If he lays waste his life by losing the relationship with the supersensible, he not only destroys something in his own inner being — the decaying of which can lead him finally to despair — but because of his weakness he creates a hindrance to the evolution of the whole world in which he lives.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: I: THE CHARACTER OF OCCULT SCIENCE

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

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Hidden spiritual causes (1 of 2)

All mere dreaming and imagining about the supersensible brings only confusion for they are incapable of satisfying the opponents. The latter are right when they say that such general references to supersensible beings are not an aid to the understanding of the facts. These opponents, it is true, may say the same thing about the definite indications of spiritual science. In this case, however, it can be shown how the effects of hidden spiritual causes appear in outer life. 

The following can be maintained: Suppose that what spiritual research has established by means of observation is true, namely, that man after death has passed through a period of purification and that he has experienced psychically during that time how a definite act, which has been performed in a previous life, is a hindrance to further evolution. While he was experiencing this, the impulse developed in him to rectify the consequences of this act. He brings this impulse with him into a new life, and it then forms the trait of character that places him in a position where this rectification is possible. Consider the totality of such impulses, and you have a reason for the destined environment in which a person is born.

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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Destruction and hindrance will be reversed and changed into the good

We have seen how the separate planets, the separate bodies of our cosmic system, arise from a common original substance, and have recognized that spiritual beings of various kinds are active in all this evolution. We have pointed out too in former lectures how spiritual science does not see merely physical material objects in the bodies of our cosmic system, but linked with the physical and material, spiritual beings of various grades. These may be beings of the most exalted order who raise evolution, thus benefiting the whole system, or they may be spiritual beings of a lower kind who hinder and destroy.

Yet we must be clear that what seems to be hindrance and destruction is in the long run again membered into the wisdom of the whole system. One might therefore say: When something apparently destructive, retarding and evil exists anywhere, then evolution in its whole course will be so wisely guided that even this evil, this destruction and hindrance will be reversed and changed into the good.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 102 – The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man: Lecture IV– Berlin, 29th February 1908

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Previously posted on September 30, 2017

Worried thoughts

Much worry dries out and withers the physical brain. Worried thoughts make furrows in it and thereby make one think such thoughts repeatedly. Here the physical body becomes a hindrance to a man’s progress. Facial wrinkles reflect these groove[s]. Worries live in a certain astral substance; soters [sic] are highly developed individualities who take this sorrow substance upon themselves. The greatest man of sorrow was Christ. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes – Berlin, 11th November 1908

Previously posted on May 31, 2016