Hidden spiritual causes (2 of 2)

The same may apply to another supposition. Again assume that what spiritual science says is true, namely, that the fruits of a past life are incorporated in the spiritual human seed, and that the land of the spirits in which this seed exists between death and rebirth is the realm in which these fruits ripen in order to appear again in a new life changed into talents and capacities, and to form the personality in such a way that it appears as the effect of what has been gained in a former life. — 

Anyone who makes these assumptions and, with them, observes life without prejudice will see that through them all facts of the sense world can be acknowledged in their full significance and truth, while at the same time everything becomes comprehensible that must remain forever incomprehensible to the one who, while relying only on physical facts, directs his attitude of mind toward the spiritual world. Above all, every illogical assumption will disappear, for instance the one mentioned above, that because the most important name stands at the end of a blood relationship series, the bearer of that name must have inherited his talents. Life becomes logically comprehensible by means of the supersensible facts communicated by spiritual science.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science: III: SLEEP AND DEATH

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

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Inheritance of talents and capacities (3 – End)

Thus the human being is born into that family which is able to transmit to him by heredity the bodily conditions which correspond to his karmic potentialities. It then looks, if we go back to the example of moral courage, as if the latter itself had been inherited from the parents. The truth is that man, through his individual being, has searched out that family which makes the unfoldment of moral courage possible for him. 

In addition to this it may be possible that the individualities of the children and the parents have already been connected in previous lives and for that very reason have found one another again. The karmic laws are so complicated that we may never base a judgment upon outer appearances. Only a person to whose spiritual sense-organs the higher worlds are at least partially manifest may attempt to form such a judgment. 

Whoever is able to observe the soul organism and the spirit, in addition to the physical body, is in a position to discriminate between what has been passed on to the human being by his forebears and what is his own possession, acquired in previous lives. For ordinary vision these things are not clearly distinguishable, and it may easily appear as if something were merely inherited which in reality is karmicly determined. 

It is a thoroughly wise expression which states that children are “given” to their parents. In respect of the spirit this is absolutely the case. And children with certain spiritual qualities are given to them for the very reason that they, the parents, are capable of giving the children the opportunity to unfold these spiritual qualities.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – ANSWERS TO SOME QUESTIONS CONCERNING KARMA – Essay in Luzifer/Gnosis – October 1904

Translated by Lisa D. Monges

Previously posted on January 28, 2017

Inheritance of talents and capacities (2 of 3)

But nobody can pass on to his offsprings what is connected with the actual spiritual being of man, that is, for instance, the acuteness and accuracy of his life of thought, the reliability of his memory, the moral sense, the acquired capacities of knowledge and art. These are qualities which remain enclosed within his individuality and which appear in his next incarnation as capacities, talents, character, and so forth. 

The environment, however, into which the reincarnating human being enters is not accidental, but it is necessarily connected with his karma. Let us assume a human being has acquired in his previous life the capacity for a morally strong character. It is his karma that this capacity should unfold in his next incarnation. This would not be possible if he did not incarnate in a body which possesses a quite definite constitution. This bodily constitution, however, must be inherited from the forebears. 

The incarnating individuality strives, through a power of attraction inherent in it, toward those parents who are capable of giving it the suitable body. This is caused by the fact that, already before reincarnating, this individuality connects itself with the forces of the astral world which strive toward definite physical conditions.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – ANSWERS TO SOME QUESTIONS CONCERNING KARMA – Essay in Luzifer/Gnosis – October 1904

Translated by Lisa D. Monges

Previously posted on January 27, 2017

Inheritance of talents and capacities (1 of 3)

THE following question has been asked: “According to the law of reincarnation, we are required to think that the human individuality possesses its talents, capacities, and so forth, as an effect of its previous lives. Is this not contradicted by the fact that such talents and capacities, for instance moral courage, musical gifts, and so forth, are directly inherited by the children from their parents?”

Answer: If we rightly conceive of the laws of reincarnation and karma, we cannot find a contradiction in what is stated above. Only those qualities of the human being which belong to his physical and ether body can be directly passed on by heredity. The ether body is the bearer of all life phenomena (the forces of growth and reproduction). Everything connected with this can be directly passed on by heredity. What is bound to the so-called soul-body can be passed on by heredity to a much lesser degree. This constitutes a certain disposition in the sensations. Whether we possess a vivid sense of sight, a well-developed sense of hearing, and so forth, may depend upon whether our ancestors have acquired such faculties and have passed them on to us by heredity.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 34 – ANSWERS TO SOME QUESTIONS CONCERNING KARMA – Essay in Luzifer/Gnosis – October 1904

Translated by Lisa D. Monges

Previously posted on January 26, 2017

What is the law of karma?

What is the law of karma? The principle of making good in a subsequent incarnation what was reprehensible in a preceding one. Differentiation must be made between karma that takes effect inwardly and one that has more external results. Karma taking effect inwardly is connected with the forming of character, talents and habits. Karma that manifests in more external ways takes the form of the conditions of life in which a man is placed, such as family, nationality and so forth. We will now consider more closely how karma works in physical life. 

For example, what appears in one life as urge or impulse, desire and ideation, emerges in the next life, or one of the following lives, as habit. From good habits a fine, well-knit, healthy physical body will come into existence in the next incarnation. A bad habit makes (in RS Archive is used the word ‘snakes’) its appearance in another life in the form of an illness or as a tendency to illness. Thus, the causes of illnesses are to be sought in the inclinations and habits of a previous life. 

The actual destiny of an individual is, on the contrary, the result of his former deeds. A person who radiates much love in one life will, in another, be able to stay young, inwardly as well as outwardly, for a long time. A person who harbors many feelings of hatred in one life will age prematurely in another. Individuals who abandon themselves to an ordinary, indolent life, which avoids all forms of spirituality, deprive themselves of something for their subsequent life that will be difficult for them to retrieve.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 109 – Rosicrucian Esotericism: X: On Karma, Reincarnation and Initiation Budapest, 12th June 1909

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond

Previously posted on November 6, 2016