Why should we concern ourselves with life after death?

There are many people, particularly in our materialistic age, who ask why they should concern with life between death and rebirth or, if the idea of repeated earth lives is rejected, with an existence after death, since they surely can wait and see what happens after death when the time comes! This is said by people today who have not quite lost the feeling for the spiritual world but who are not yet equipped with sufficient soul-powers to acquire concepts and feelings about the super-sensible. They add that if they perform their duty here on earth, they shall experience in the appropriate way what awaits them after death.

Now a genuine connection with life between death and rebirth brings out clearly the fallacy of such a view and how important it is during earthly existence to have formed an idea of the conditions of life after death.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth – XVI – Strasbourg, May 13, 1913

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on February 1, 2017

Envy/Selfishness/Fraternity

What comes about in the economic life through brotherliness or unbrotherliness, through what people do for each other, in economic relations, does not, strange as it sounds, only have significance for this life between birth and death, but it actually has a huge meaning for the life after death as well.

It is, for example, important whether I spend my life in jealousy and behave in such a way that my outlook is one of envy, or whether I act out of love for humanity. Actions, in so far as they belong to public life, in so far as bringing people together, do not only have importance here on earth, but the results are carried through the gate of death and has implications for the whole life between death, which affects us after the present earthly life, and the next earthly life.

So we can say: what takes place here in the economic life, will affect how people will live between death and a new birth. For example, if an economic order is built only on selfishness, then it will mean that people will to a high degree be lonely between death and a new birth, that they will have the greatest difficulty to find other human beings. In short, it is of huge significance for life between death and the following birth, how people here are behaving in economic relations.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner  – GA 196 – Geistige und soziale Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwickelung – Dornach, January 31, 1920 (page 127-128)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on August 3, 2017

About economic life and brotherhood

Just think, my dear friends, how economic life draws us into a particular relation with the world. You will readily understand what this relation is if you compel yourselves to imagine that it were possible for us to be entirely absorbed in economic life. If that could happen, what should we be like? We should be thinking animals, nothing else. We are not thinking animals for the reason that besides economic life we have a life of rights — a political life — and a knowledge of the spirit, an earthly spiritual life. Through economic life we are thus plunged, more or less, into the midst of human relationships. And because of this interests are kindled — precisely in this field of human relations we are able to develop interests which in the true sense of the word are fraternal. In no other realm than that of economic life are fraternal relationships so easily and obviously developed among human beings.

[…] In the economic sphere, it is through the overcoming of self that something valuable, not derived from personal desires, comes to expression — brotherhood, responsibility for others, a way of living so that the other man gains experience through us.
In the spiritual life we receive according to our desires. In the sphere of rights we make a claim to something we need in order to make sure of a satisfactory human life as an equal among equals. And in the economic sphere is born that which unites men in terms of feeling: that is, brotherhood. The more this brotherhood is cultivated, the more fruitful economic life becomes. And the impulse towards brotherhood arises when we establish a certain connection between our property and another’s, between our need and another’s, between something we have and something another has, and so on.
This fraternity, this brotherly relation between men which must radiate through economic life if health is to prevail there, may be thought of as a kind of emanation rising from the economic sphere — and in such a way that if we absorb it into ourselves we are able to take it with us through the gate of death and carry it into the super-sensible life after death.
On earth, economic life looks like the lowest of the three social spheres, yet precisely from this sphere arises an impulse which works on into super-earthly realms after death.  

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 193 – Inner Aspect of the Social Question: II – Zurich, 11th February 1919

Translated by Charles Davy

Previously posted on July 19, 2017

We must always bear in mind that we should not imagine men living on in the spiritual world as they last were, when here

We must always bear in mind that we should not imagine men living on in the spiritual world as they last were, when here. The trivial ideas that people hold, as, for instance, that those who die as children continue to live on as children, are naturally incorrect. The imagination may picture the dead as we last saw them here, but that is not their true form; it is rather the expression of it. A child may die, but the human entity incarnated in the child may be a highly evolved soul, and continue its life after death as a highly evolved soul.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 157a – The Forming of Destiny and Life after Death – Lecture 3 – Berlin, 20th November 1915

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on June 10, 2017

Why look beyond the threshold?

Among the fiercest critics of Steiner, was Johann Wilhelm Hauer, the theologian from Tübingen. After attending a lecture by Rudolf Steiner on “life after death”, Hauer had this to say: “Why look beyond the threshold? We’ll have enough time to find out what it’s like once we get there.” Rudolf Steiner commented: “That would be exactly the same, as if polar explorers, embarking on a trip to the north pole, said: ‘We’ll decide on what we need for our trip, once we arrive at the north pole.’”

Source: Sie Mensch von einem Menschen! Rudolf Steiner in Anekdoten door Wolfgang G. Vögele (page 159)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on May 3, 2017