The dead do not judge

As to the way in which the dead person sees the human beings who are here on earth, there is one thing of outstanding importance. Let us not imagine that the dead has not a keen and living interest in the world of human beings. He has, indeed, for the world of human beings belongs to the whole cosmos. Our own life belongs to the cosmos. And just as we, even in the physical world, interest ourselves in the subordinate kingdoms, so do the dead interest themselves intensely in the human world, and send their active impulses into the human world. For the dead work through the living into this world. We have only just given an example of the way in which they go on working soon after their passage through the Gate of Death.

But the dead sees one thing above all, and that most clearly. Suppose, for example, that he sees a human being here following impulses of hatred — hating this person or that, and with a merely personal intensity or purpose. This the dead sees. At the same time, however, according to the whole manner of his vision and all that he is then able to know, he will observe quite clearly, in such a case, the part which Ahriman is playing. He sees how Ahriman impels the person to hatred. The dead actually sees Ahriman working upon the human being. On the other hand, if a person on earth is vain, he sees Lucifer working at him. That is the essential point. It is in connection with the world of Ahriman and Lucifer that the dead human being sees the human beings who are here on earth. Consequently, what generally colours our judgement of people is quite eliminated for the dead. We see this or that human being, whom in one sense or another we must condemn. Whatever we find blameworthy in him, we put it down to him. The dead does not put it down directly to the human being. He sees how the person is misled by Lucifer or Ahriman. This brings about a toning-down, so to speak, of the sharply differentiated feelings which in our physical and earthly life we generally have towards this or that human being. To a far greater extent, a kind of universal human love arises in the dead. This does not mean that he cannot criticize — that is to say, cannot rightly see what is evil in evil. He sees it well enough, but he is able to refer it to its origin — to its real inner connections.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – On the Connection of the Living and the Dead – Berne, 9 November 1916

Previously posted on April 26, 2020

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The fourfold human being

We have often brought to mind that man as we know him in his present form is, to begin with, a fourfold being; that he consists of the physical, etheric and astral bodies and the “I.” To spiritual vision these four principles appear in their external form as if the human physical body is enclosed in the centre like a kind of kernel. During the day this physical body is permeated by the so-called etheric or life-body which projects very slightly round about the head as a luminous halo, but which also completely permeates the head; further down it becomes more cloudy and indistinct and the more it approaches the lower parts of man the less definitely does it show the form of the physical body.

Now these two principles of the human being are during the day enveloped by what we call the astral body, which projects on all sides like an ellipse, in the shape of an egg, and in its fundamental form it has luminous rays which look as if their direction really were from outside inward, as if they would penetrate from outside to the inner part of the man. Within this astral body are outlined a great number of different figures, every possible kind of lines and rays, many like flashes of lightning, many in curious twists; all this surrounds the human being in the most varied manifestations of light. The astral body is the expression of his passions, instincts, impulses and desires, as also of all his thoughts and ideas. The clairvoyant consciousness sees portrayed in this astral body all that one calls soul-experiences, from the lowest impulses to the highest ethical ideals.

Then we have the fourth principle of the human being, which one might sketch as if something were sending in rays to a point lying about one centimetre (3/8 inch) behind the forehead. That would be the diagrammatic representation of the fourfold man. In the course of these lectures we shall see how the several parts are distinguished in the whole.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 104 – The Apocalypse of St. John: Lecture II – Nuremberg, 19th June 1908

Translated by M. Cotterell

Previously posted on October 19, 2019

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How can joy and love become impulses of the daily work again?

A human being who works on a small part in the factory will never have the abandon for the product that the former craftsman had; this is past retrieval. It is never possible in future with our complex conditions that a merry song penetrates the field of work. The song has faded away, the song that joins the product!

We ask, is there another impulse, which can replace it? Let us look at the time when more and more factories were built and more and more human beings were herded together in the sites of modern misery. If we let all that pass by, we realise — even if many things have changed — that one means to attach the future development simply to the past, when joy and love were still the impulses of work. However, humanity could create no substitute that attaches the human being again to the product. This can also not brought back. However, something else can be done. What can replace it? How can joy and love become impulses of the daily work again? How can one create them?

Of course, some people will argue, create impulses for a work that is dirty, bad, and hideous! — There are such impulses. Remember only what mothers do if they do the work because of love for the child. Remember what the human being is able to do if he does anything because of love for other human beings. There is no love for the product of the work necessary; there it needs a tie between human being and human being. You cannot bring back the love for the product within humanity, because it was bound to primitive, simple relations. However, what the future must bring back is the big, all-embracing understanding and love from human being to human being. Not before any human being finds the impulse for his activity from the deepest impulses which only a spiritual world movement can give, not before he is able to do the work because of love for his fellow men, it is not possible to create real impulses for a future development in the sense of the human welfare.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Knowledge of Soul and Spirit: Lecture XI: Occupation and Earnings – Berlin, 12 March 1908

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Highly developed and, at the same time, colosally stupid

Through the perverse conditions of our modern culture we have reached the point where a man in his special subject can be a most highly developed being and, at the same time, colosally stupid where the great problems of man kind are concerned, understanding absolutely nothing about them. 

We have in our midst nowadays this curious phenomenon — that someone who has only passed through the primary school, and perhaps has not done this very satisfactorily, and has been dragged rather than brought up, has more sensible things to say about general human conditions than the man who has passed through higher education and excels in his own sphere. 

Today we must fight this phenomenon if we have any idea of sending into the depths those impulses which alone can bring improvement, impulses which do not lead merely to the superficial measures sought by those unwilling to take the path demanded by reality if anything is to happen. Naturally today we have let the evil go so far that we no longer have the personalities fit to build the foundations for a college of the kind, and are in the terrible situation of possessing no teachers for general human culture. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 192 – Social Basis For Primary and Secondary Education: Lecture III: Social Basis For Primary and Secondary Education – Stuttgart, 1 June, 1919

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In the astral world all things appear reversed

Anyone whose senses are opened to the astral world will at first be bewildered, because there is really nothing in the physical world with which he can compare it. The astral world has a whole range of characteristics of its own and he has to learn many new things. One of the most perplexing aspects of this world is that all things appear reversed, in a sort of mirror-reflection, and he has to get used to seeing everything in a new way. For instance, he has to learn to read numbers backwards. We are accustomed to read the figures 3, 4, 5, as 345 but in the astral world we have to read them backwards as 543. Everything appears as its mirror-reflection, and it is essential to be aware of this.

The same law applies also to higher things — in the field of morality, for instance. People do not at first understand this. It may happen that they see themselves surrounded by black, malignant forms which threaten and terrify them — this happens with very many people and they mostly have no idea what it signifies. The fact is that these figures are their own impulses, desires and passions, which live in what we call the astral body. Ordinary people do not see their own passions, but these may sometimes become visible as a result of processes active in the brain and soul, and then they appear as mirror-images. You see the mirror-images of your desires in the same way as when looking into a mirror you see reflected images of the objects around you. Everything that comes out of you seems to be going into you. Further, time and events move backwards. In the physical world you see first the hen and then the egg. In the astral world you see the egg and then the hen that laid it. Time in the astral moves backwards: you see first the effect and then the cause. This explains how prophecy is possible — if it were not for this reversal of the time-sequence it would be impossible to foresee events.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE TWO: THE THREE WORLDS – Stuttgart, 23rd August 1906 

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on March 19, 2019

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