Why must a highly developed human soul be reborn in a helpless, undeveloped child?  

Question: “Is it possible to understand, according to the law of reincarnation and karma, how a highly developed human soul can be reborn in a helpless, undeveloped child? To many a person the thought that we have to begin over and over again at the childhood stage is unbearable and illogical.”

Answer: How the human being can act in the physical world depends entirely upon the physical instrumentality of his body. Higher ideas, for instance, can come to expression in this world only if there is a fully developed brain. Just as the pianist must wait until the piano builder has made a piano on which he can express his musical ideas, so does the soul have to wait with its faculties acquired in the previous life until the forces of the physical world have built up the bodily organs to the point where they can express these faculties. The nature forces have to go their way, the soul, also, has to go its way. To be sure, from the very beginning of human life a cooperation exists between soul and body forces. The soul works in the flexible and supple body of the child until it is made ready to become a bearer of the forces acquired in former life periods. For it is absolutely necessary that the reborn human being adjust himself to the new life conditions.

Were he simply to appear in a new life with all he has acquired previously, he would not fit into the surrounding world. For he has acquired his faculties and forces under quite different circumstances in completely different surroundings. Were he simply to enter the world in his former state he would be a stranger in it. The period of childhood is gone through in order to bring about harmony between the old and the new conditions. How would one of the cleverest ancient Romans appear in our present world, were he simply born into our world with his acquired powers? A power can only be employed when it is in harmony with the surrounding world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – Reincarnation and Karma – ANSWERS TO SOME QUESTIONS CONCERNING KARMA

Translated by Lisa D. Monges

Previously posted on January 23, 2020


Does Anthroposophy attribute no significance to ‘chance’?

Question [part of]: Does Anthroposophy attribute no significance to ‘chance’?

Answer [part of]: It is not unjustifiable to speak of “chance” in the physical world. And however true it is to say: there is no “chance” if we take into consideration all the worlds, yet it would be unjustifiable to eradicate the word “chance” if we are merely speaking of the interlinking of things in the physical world.

Chance in the physical world is brought about through the fact that things take place in this world within sensible space. They must, in as far as they occur within this space, also obey the laws of this space. Within this space, things may outwardly meet which have inwardly nothing to do with each other. The causes which let a brick fall from a roof, injuring me as I pass by, do not necessarily have anything to do with my karma which stems from my past.

Many people commit here the error of imagining karmic relations in too simple a fashion. They presume, for instance, that if a brick has injured a person, he must have deserved this injury karmicly. But this is not necessarily so.

In the life of every human being events constantly take place which have nothing at all to do with his merits or his guilt in the past. Such events find their karmic adjustment in the future. If something happens to me today without being my fault, I shall be compensated for it in the future.

One thing is certain: nothing remains without karmic adjustment. However, whether an experience of the human being is the effect of his karmic past or the cause of his karmic future will have to be determined in every individual instance. And this cannot be decided by the intellect accustomed to dealing with the physical world, but solely by occult experience and observation.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – Reincarnation and Karma – ANSWERS TO SOME QUESTIONS CONCERNING KARMA

Translated by Lisa D. Monges

Previously posted on January 21, 2020


Together again

In the present age we are not thrown together by chance with other people. That the path of life brings us into contact with certain people and not with others depends upon the working out of individual karma. For we have entered upon a period of human evolution which brings man’s preceding karmic developments to a culminating point. 

Think how much less karma had been accumulated in the earlier periods of earth evolution! With every incarnation fresh karma is made. At first, people had to meet under totally new conditions, with the possibility of forming fresh connections. But through repeated earth-lives we have gradually reached a point at which, as a general rule, we do not meet anyone with whom in former incarnations we have not shared this or that experience. 

And these experiences bring us into contact again with those who shared them. We meet other people as it would appear by chance but in reality because in former incarnations we had already met, and on the strength of this are brought together again.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – How Can the Destitution of Soul in Modern Times Be Overcome? / Social Understanding – Liberty of Thought – Knowledge of the Spirit – Zurich, October 10th, 1916

Previously posted on January 12, 2020

About sub-consciousness and karma

We have often heard that when criminals, in whom instinctive subconsciousness works very strongly, have committed some particular crime, they have a peculiar instinct; they are drawn back to the place where they did it; an indefinable feeling drives them back. Such things only express in special cases what is common to man in respect of many things. When we have done something, accomplished something, however seemingly unimportant, something of it remains in us, something of what we have grasped in the doing of it; a certain force remains in us from the thing we have done, from the forces with which we have done it something remains connected with the ego. This cannot be otherwise expressed, although of course it is expressed as a kind of imagination.

A man cannot avoid forming certain connections with all the beings he meets, and the things he grasps (not, of course, physical things only), the things with which he has something to do in life. We leave our own distinctive mark on all things, and a feeling of being bound up with the things with which we have come in touch by our deeds, remains in our subconsciousness. In the case of criminals this comes to expression in an abnormal way, because there the unconsciousness flashes up very instinctively into the ordinary consciousness; but in his sub-consciousness every man has the feeling that he must return to the place with which he has come in touch by his deeds.

This also takes part in forming our karma; our karma arises from this. From this subconscious feeling, which at first presses into existence in a nebulous way, we have the general feeling of unity with the whole world. Because everywhere we leave our mark, we have this feeling.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 181 – Earthly Death and Cosmic Life: lecture 6 – Berlin, 19th March, 1918

Authorized translation/Edited by H. Collison

Previously posted on December 7, 2019


Saving strength in one life to use it in another

Suppose a man dies before the age of thirty-five. On reincarnating, those forces develop in him which he did not use in the years which would have followed his thirty-fifth year. Such men, who before the thirty-fifth year go through death in this way in one incarnation, thereby economise for the next incarnation certain forces, which would have been exhausted if they had lived till fifty, sixty or seventy years of age. The forces which they thus saved are added to those with which they incarnate in the next life. Thereby such souls are born into bodies through which they are in a position, especially in their youth, to confront life with strong impressions. In other words: when such souls, who in their last incarnation died before the thirty-fifth year, reincarnate again, everything makes a strong impression on them. They are deeply stirred by things, they enjoy things deeply, they have living feelings and are easily urged to impulses of will. They are those who take a strong position in life, and who receive a mission. A man does not die without cause before his thirty-fifth year; he will thereby receive a quite definite mission in his next life. These things are complex, and death before the age of thirty-five may also bring about other things — it is not absolute law, for these are only examples. […]

Now, if an especially active man is summoned from life at an early age, it would then occur that in his next life his Karma would appoint him to a quite definite task in life, which he would certainly accomplish. He would be as if predestined. If, however, a man is especially active in one life and lives to a good old age, these forces are then intensified inwardly. He has then in his next life a more complicated task. Outer activity withdraws, and there appears in the soul the necessity to evolve inner activity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 157a – The Forming of Destiny and Life after Death: LECTURE 2: ON THE FORMING OF DESTINY – Berlin, 18th November, 1915.