It is certainly more or less risky nowadays to speak of these things. But we shall understand the relationships of karma only if we are ready to occupy ourselves with the details about it. The art of painting, for example, already existed at a time when human souls, now living, were living in a former earth life; and there were human beings who had no interest at all in painting. Even today there are people who are quite indifferent whether they have some atrocity hanging on the walls of their room, or a well-painted picture. And there were also such people at the time when the souls who are living today were present in former earth lives. Indeed, my dear friends, I have never found a human being with a pleasing face, a sympathetic expression, who did not take delight in the art of painting in a former earth life. The people with an unpleasing expression (which, after all, also plays its part in karma and has its significance for destiny) were always those who had passed by the works of the art of painting with obtuse and phlegmatic indifference.
But these things go much farther. There are human beings (and there were also such in former epochs of the earth) who never look up at the stars, who do not know where Leo is, or Aries, or Taurus, who have no interest in anything in this connection. Such people will be born, in a subsequent earth life, with a body that is somehow indolent; or, if through the vigor of their parents they receive a model which carries them beyond this, they become flabby, lacking in energy and vigor in the body which they then build for themselves.
And thus, it is possible to trace back the state of health which the human being bears with him in a given earth life to the interest he had taken in the visible world to the widest extent during his former earth life.
People, for instance, who in our time take absolutely no interest in music — people to whom music is a matter of indifference — will certainly be born again in a next earth life with asthmatic trouble, or with some disease of the lungs; or, they will be born with a susceptibility to asthma or lung disease. It is an actual fact that the quality of soul which develops in one earth life through the interest we take in the visible world comes to expression in our next earth life in our general bodily disposition in regard to health or illness.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – KARMA: 5 – The Single Factor of Karma – Dornach, 1 March 1924
Translated by Henry B. Monges