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

About the perception of the karma of a person

When one wants to understand the karma of an individual, one must not look at his or her profession, what his or her social conditions are, nor at what such a person can do or cannot do. One must rather look deep into their soul, into the qualities and abilities that may eventually become manifest in any profession.  Because after all, we must see what a person was in a previous life. […] One should begin with looking through all that is outward and come to perceive the inner being, the purely human, that whereby the human being is human, is an individual personality.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 346 – Vorträge und Kurse über christlich- religiöses  Wirken: V – Dornach, 9 september 1924 (bladzijde 79)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on May 20, 2015

Old and New Clairvoyance (2 – End)

The more advanced soul is clearly the one that comes to sound judgments out of its ordinary understanding – and this ordinary understanding is completely sufficient to grasp spiritual science if one is free of preconceived notions.

We are making a great mistake if we allow atavistic clairvoyant abilities to impress us. We are on the wrong track if we believe such a person’s soul is particularly advanced. That this soul shows such abilities means that it has failed to go through certain things that had to be experienced in the age of clairvoyance. Therefore, that soul is now catching up on what was missed earlier. It is quite grotesque when people involved in spiritual science believe that someone who displays a certain clairvoyance without having studied spiritual science must have been someone important in a previous life. Such a person was quite certainly less important than someone displaying sound judgment about things.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – Presence of the Dead: Lecture One: Understanding the Spiritual World (Part One) – Berlin, 18th April 1914

Translated by C. von Arnim

Previously posted on January 3, 2015

Male and female

Countless phenomena of life will become clear to us if we think of human nature as the working together of two polar opposites. In the man the masculine pole works outwards and the feminine lives more inwardly, while in the woman the opposite holds true.

Spiritual science however also shows us a deeper reason why a masculine quality is to be found in the woman and a feminine in the man. Spiritual science speaks of how human beings strive after ever greater perfection, through many lives. Our present life is always the result of a previous one. Thus as we proceed through many lives, we experience both male and female incarnations. What arises in this way may be expressed as the effect of those experiences gathered on both sides in earthly life.

Whoever is able in this way to look more deeply into the male and female natures knows that the more intimate experiences of the two sexes are very different, and must be very different. Our entire earth existence is a collection of the most varied experiences. However, these experiences can only become comprehensive through their being acquired from the viewpoint of both sexes. […] So long as one merely looks at the physical body little can be understood. The spiritual lying behind must also be recognised.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Man and Woman in Light of Spiritual Science – Munich, 18th March 1908

Translated by Bernard Jarman

Previously posted on May 28, 2015

Good habits will produce good health

Good habits will produce good health; bad ones will create a tendency to some specific illness in the next life. A strong determination to rid oneself of a bad habit will work down into the physical body and produce a tendency to good health. How a disposition to infectious diseases arises in the physical body has been particularly well observed. Whether we actually get a disease will depend on what we do; but whether we are specially liable to contract it is the result of the inclinations we had in a previous life. Infectious diseases, strangely enough, can be traced back to a highly developed selfish acquisitiveness in a previous life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VII: Workings of the Law of Karma in Human Life – Stuttgart, 28th August 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on February 24, 2015