The characteristic stamp of the modern anthroposophist (part 6 of 6)

In characterising this state of civilisation we can only say that it is complex in the highest degree. It must also be said that the connection between what man does, what he carries out, and what he loves, is weakening all the time. And if we were to count those people who in their positions in external life to-day are obliged to engage in some activity that goes much against the grain, their number would by far exceed the number of those who affirm: I can only say that I love my external occupation, that it brings me happiness and contentment.

Only recently I heard of a strange statement made by someone to a friend. He said: ‘When I look back over my life in all its details I confess that if I had to live through it again from childhood to the present moment, I should do exactly the same things I have done up to now.’ — The friend replied: ‘Then you are one of those most rarely to be found at the present time!’ — The friend was probably right, as far as most men of the modern age are concerned. Not many of our contemporaries would assert that, if it depended on them, they would without hesitation begin life all over again, together with everything it has brought in the way of happiness, sorrow, blows of fate, obstacles, and would be quite content if everything were exactly the same again.

It cannot be said that the fact just mentioned — namely that there are so few people nowadays who would be willing to recapitulate the karma of their present life together with all its details — it cannot be said that this is unconnected with what the prevailing cultural state of humanity has brought in its train. Our life has become more complex but it has been made so by the different karmas of the personalities living on the earth to-day. Of that there can be no doubt at all. Nor will those who have the slightest insight into the course taken by human evolution be able to speak of any possibility of a less complicated life in the future. On the contrary, the complexity of external life will steadily increase and however many activities are taken over from man in the future by machines, there can be very few lives of happiness in this present incarnation unless conditions quite different from those now prevailing are brought about. And these different conditions must be the result of the human soul being convinced of the truth of reincarnation and karma.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 135 – REINCARNATION AND KARMA THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN MODERN CULTURE 4. Examples of the working of karma between two incarnations – Stuttgart, 21 February 1912 

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D.S. Osmond, C. Davy and S. and E. F. Derry.

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Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply (1 of 3)

Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply, some event that moves you to joy or sorrow. Now you know that the whole of life runs its course in such a way that we can separate it into periods of about seven years in length. Roughly speaking, the first is from birth to the change of teeth, the second to the age of puberty, the third to the beginning of the twenty-first year, and so on. All these boundary lines are of course only approximate. Here then we have one division that shows itself in the course of human life.

The turning-points in the development of the human being which we arrive at by this method are clearly marked in the earlier part of life — change of teeth, and puberty — but later are more or less concealed, although they can be distinctly noted by one who knows what to look for. That which takes place in the soul and spirit of the human being about the twenty-first year of life is, for one who can observe it, just as clearly perceptible as the change at puberty is for external physiology. The division into seven-year periods holds true, in fact, for the whole course of human life.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – ELEMENTAL BEINGS AND HUMAN DESTINIES – Dornach, December 6, 1919

Translation revised by Charles Davy

Previously posted on May 1, 2020

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Advice after the death of Anna Wagner

On December 31, 1905, Rudolf Steiner wrote to his esoteric pupil Paula Stryczek, who had turned to him for advice after the death of Anna Wagner (1847-1905):

Dear Miss Stryczek, 

Let me say this to you on the occasion of this unhappy event.
When a person dear to us crosses into the other worlds, it is especially important to send our thoughts and feelings without in any way giving the impression that we want her back, which would make life difficult for her in the new spheres she is entering.  What we would send into her worlds is not our own sorrow, but our love for her. Don’t misunderstand me; I do not mean that we must be hardened or indifferent.  But it should be possible for us to look toward the dead person and think, “May my love accompany you and surround you.”  According to my insights, such feelings give wings to the dead person, whereas the feelings of many mourners (such as, ‘Oh, if you were only still here with us’) become obstacles in her path. This is a general suggestion about how we ought to direct our feelings in such cases.  

In this particular case, let me advise you to take up some thoughts based on ancient occult traditions, although they are not yet fully accessible to me in good German.
In inner stillness, say them to yourself three times a day, one of which should be immediately before you fall asleep, so you take them with you into the spiritual world. Ideally, you should fall asleep with the thoughts:
May the offering of my love envelop you, cooling all heat, warming all cold.
May my gift of light carry you upward on wings of love. 
It is important to have the right feelings when it comes to the words “heat” and “cold”. They do not mean physical heat and cold but rather warmth and coolness of feeling, although it is not easy for someone still embedded in the physical heath to get an idea of what these qualities signify to the disembodied.  A recently deceased person must first become aware that the astral element is still effective even though it cannot make use of physical tools. Many of our earthly aspirations are fulfilled by physical tools, and now those tools are no longer there. The soul experiences not having physical organs as something similar to – but only similar to – a burning thirst. That is the strong sensation of “heat” upon becoming disembodied. The same applies to what our will wants to do: it is accustomed to using physical organs it no longer has. On the soul level, this “deprivation” is comparable to a sensation of cold.
Intervention by the living can be especially helpful with regard to these feelings, which are not exclusively the results of an individual life but are related to the mysteries of incarnation. That is why it is possible for us to come to the aid of a disembodied friend.
There is still one more thing that I would ask of you: precede the above sentences by directing a few thoughts toward Mr. Wagner. Their content should be something like this:
“her true love surrounded you until now and continues to surround you, unchanged.
May she continue to hold you, in strength of spirit, just as she illumined you through her visible presence.”
I wanted to write to you today, but physical work obscures spiritual experience,
and at the moment I have so much work to do on the physical plane that I cannot give you anything more specific than this general advice. Of course you should feel free to share these lines with anyone you see fit. I hope that many hearts will turn towards this personality who is dear to us.
Please give my best regards to our dear Doctor and be assured of the same for yourself.
Yours truly, Dr. Rudolf Steiner.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 264 – Zur Geschichte und aus den Inhalten der ersten Abteilung der Esoterischen Schule 1904 – 1914 (page 101-103)

This translation is from Peter Selg’s book The Path of the Soul After Death, translated by M. Saar

It is in the end of book notes (note 37)

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Previously posted on October 24, 2017

Pain/Sorrow/Will-power

As regards what we experience as pain and sorrow, it is seen on the spiritual plane that the pain and sorrow we have borne on the physical plane work on and permeate our soul with such force on the spiritual plane that this force becomes will-power. Our soul thereby becomes stronger, and we are able to transform this strength into moral power which we are able to bring back with us again to the physical plane, in order that we may not only have certain capacities, through which we are able to produce something of value to the world around us, but that we may also have the moral power to develop these capacities into character.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 153 – The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebirth: Lecture 6 – Vienna, 14th April 1914

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on December 14, 2016

Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply (1 of 3)

Suppose you experience something that affects you very deeply, some event that moves you to joy or sorrow. Now you know that the whole of life runs its course in such a way that we can separate it into periods of about seven years in length. Roughly speaking, the first is from birth to the change of teeth, the second to the age of puberty, the third to the beginning of the twenty-first year, and so on. All these boundary lines are of course only approximate. Here then we have one division that shows itself in the course of human life.

The turning-points in the development of the human being which we arrive at by this method are clearly marked in the earlier part of life — change of teeth, and puberty — but later are more or less concealed, although they can be distinctly noted by one who knows what to look for. That which takes place in the soul and spirit of the human being about the twenty-first year of life is, for one who can observe it, just as clearly perceptible as the change at puberty is for external physiology. The division into seven-year periods holds true, in fact, for the whole course of human life.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – ELEMENTAL BEINGS AND HUMAN DESTINIES – Dornach, December 6, 1919

Translation revised by Charles Davy