The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebirth

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The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebirth

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:08 pm

The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebirth
by Rudolf Steiner
Series XXXII
Six Lectures by Rudolf Steiner, Ph.D.
Vienna, 9 – 14 April, 1914
(Shorthand Report unrevised by the Lecturer)
Authorised Translation
Edited by H. Collison
Copyright, 1928, by Marie Steiner




Given just before the start of World War I, Rudolf Steiner here describes the panoramic reality of the spiritual worlds encountered by human beings after death. He speaks of the joys and sufferings experienced in those worlds by people of different characters, the vision of the “ideal human being” that souls experience, the cosmic midnight hour, the deeper causes behind such phenomena as materialism and criminality, the process leading to rebirth in the world of the senses, and why, on earth, we must lose our direct perception of the spiritual worlds. He also describes some of the methods through which direct perception of the worlds of soul and spirit can be developed.

These six lectures given by Rudolf Steiner at Vienna, Austria in April of 1914, are from the lecture series entitled, The Inner Being of Man and Life Between Death and Rebirth. They were published in German as, Inneres Wesen des Menschen und Leben Zwischen Tod und Neuer Geburt. Printed for Members of the School of Spiritual Science, Goetheanum, Class I, no person is held qualified to form a judgement on the contents of this work, who has not acquired — through the School itself or in an equivalent manner recognised by the School — the requisite preliminary knowledge. Other opinions will be disregarded; the authors decline to take them as a basis for discussion.


Lecture 1: The Four Spheres of the Inner Life April 09, 1914
Lecture 2: The Vision of the Ideal Human Being April 10, 1914
Lecture 3: The Senses and the Luciferic Temptation April 11, 1914
Lecture 4: Wisdom in the Spiritual World April 12, 1914
Lecture 5: Between Death and the ‘Cosmic Midnight Hour’ April 13, 1914
Lecture 6: Pleasures and Sufferings in the Life Beyond April 14, 1914
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Re: The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebir

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:09 pm


Vienna, 9th April, 1914.

Our aim in this course of lectures will be to describe the inner life of man in relation to the life between death and rebirth, in order to show how intimately these two realms of existence are connected. A secondary aim will be to point out, as the result of this knowledge, certain guiding lines which will enable human beings to take the right course in many difficult situations in life, and which are fitted in many respects to give a sure support to the life of the soul, affording as they do, a thorough understanding of this soul-life. To this end it will be necessary for you to work through these first lectures, which are intended to provide a foundation. They will lead us into esoteric, scientific realms which to many might perhaps at first appear to be far removed from what human feeling would like to grasp at once; but when we have arrived at the true goal of these lectures you will see that this goal can only be attained in a pure manner if we first work through the apparently remote esoteric knowledge which is now to be put before you.

If, to begin with, we consider the inner life of man abstractly, it appears in the three forms we have often mentioned; in the forms of thought, feeling and will. But in order to consider this inward life fully, we must add a fourth, for to the inner life of man belong not only the three realms we have just mentioned, but also that which he obtains through the perceptions of the senses. We do not allow colours and sounds, perceptions of warmth and other sensations to rush past our consciousness, but we lay hold of these impressions, we turn them into perceptions. The fact that we are able to remember these impressions, that we are able to retain them, that we not only know a rose is red when we have one directly in front of us, but that we are able to carry the red of the rose with us, to preserve as it were, the colours as a conception in the memory — this testifies that the life of sensation, the life of perception through which we bring ourselves into touch with the outer world belongs also to our inner life. So that we may say, that we must count our perception of the outer world as part of our inner life, in so far as we make it into something inward in the very act of perceiving it.

We must reckon our thoughts, by means of which we create knowledge for ourselves regarding what is immediately around us, and through science regarding what is more distant, as that, by means of which we make the outer world into our own inner world in a much deeper sense than by perception. We do more than merely live in our perceptions, we reflect upon them and we are aware that through this reflection we are able to experience something of the secrets in the things perceived.

Next, we have to reckon our feelings as part of our inner life; in our feelings we are immediately in that realm of the inner life of man which contains within itself all that brings us as human beings in touch with the world in a manner worthy of humanity. The primary foundation of our truly human existence is that we are able to feel concerning things — that we are able to feel pleasure in what is around us. In a certain sense this is also the foundation of all our happiness and sorrow; for these are made up of feeling, which wells up and again subsides. Certain feelings arise within us, or force themselves on us, which uplift and strengthen our life and in which we feel happy and satisfied; other feelings arise through the events of life, through our destiny and also through our inward life, which give us pain and sorrow. When we use the word ‘feeling’, we are referring to the realm which embraces the happiness and sorrow of human life.

When we refer to the will, we are dealing with that which makes us of value to the world, which so places us in the world that we not only live a life of knowledge and a life of feeling within ourselves, but are able to re-act upon the world. What a human being wills, and what flows from his will into his actions, constitutes his value to the world. Thus we may say that in referring to the realm of will we are dealing with that element which shows that man is a part of the world and it is our inner life which thus flows out into the world and forms part of it. Whether they are the emotions and passions of criminal natures hostile to social life that flow into the will and thence become part of the world to the world's detriment, or whether they are the high, pure ideals which the idealist draws down from his contact with the spiritual ordering of the world and allows to flow into his actions, allows to flow perhaps only into his words which act upon human beings, stimulating them or revealing the worth of man — in either case we are always dealing with what lies in the realm of will, with what gives to man his value. So that all the wealth which man can really possess as a soul-being, is expressed, when we mention these four realms: Perceptions, Thought, Feeling and Will.

Now to one who goes somewhat more deeply into the consideration of what we may call the four inner spheres of the soul-nature of man, there appears a significant difference between the first two and the last two parts of this four-fold human being. In ordinary life, the difference does not really enter very much into the consciousness of man; at the most it only enters our consciousness when we reflect upon these four spheres of human nature in the following manner.

In speaking of perception, and reflecting upon it, we have the feeling that with perception we are directly in touch with the outer world. Through perception we interiorise the outer world; it furnishes something which belongs to our inner being when we have worked upon the sensation. But we have the feeling that we must so order our sensation that it gives us true images of the outer world in certain conditions, and every failing or defect in the life of perception and of sensation, every distortion of the senses means that our inner life is impoverished through our becoming poorer with respect to what we are able to obtain from the outer world.

In passing from perception to thought, we become aware that also with respect to thought we may have the feeling that we must not be satisfied if this thought merely stirs and dies down again within itself; thoughts only have an ultimate value when they represent within us something which is objective, something that is outside us. Our reflections would give us no satisfaction if through them we could not experience something about the outer world.

But when we pass to our feeling and reflect a little thereon, we find that this feeling, or, perhaps better, the life of feeling, is much more intimately connected with our own inner being than are thought and perception. When we wish to perceive or feel certain subtleties of the outer world in the right way, we have the idea that we must, to begin with, develop ourselves in a purely external manner on the physical plane. If we have a thought which we can call true, we say of this true thought that it must really hold good for all our fellow-men and it must also be possible to convince others of this thought if we can only find the right words to express it. But if we stand before a phenomenon of nature, or, shall we say, a human work of art, and through this develop our feelings, we know that fundamentally our human nature alone does not help us fully to exhaust what may thus be in front of us. It may be that when we hear a piece of music or see a painting we remain quite dull simply because we have not educated our feeling to be able to perceive its refinements. If we follow this direction of thought we find that this life of feeling is very interior and that we are unable to convey it to others directly in thought in the manner we experience it inwardly. In our life of feeling we are, under all circumstances, in a certain sense alone. We know at the same time that this life of feeling is the source of a special inward treasure, it is an inward result of evolution, and just because it is something so subjective, it cannot directly pass over into the object in the same way as it lives inwardly.

The same thing must be said with respect to the will. How different we human beings are with respect to what we will, with respect to what passes into our actions through our will! The great variety of human action really comes about through one person willing this and another that. When in the case of feeling we are able to rejoice in finding a companion in life who, in a purely inward, subjective manner, has arrived at a similar standpoint of feeling as ourselves, one who, through feeling, can so interiorise certain refinements in the external world that he has an understanding which is independent of and yet connected with us, we feel that our life is enhanced by such companionship. Each one of us has to develop his own feelings within himself; but we are able to find others whose feelings echo our own. For although the life of feeling is inward, it is still possible for different human beings to have feelings that are in unison. But there cannot be two wills which are directed to one and the same object, that is, two human beings who wish to do one and the same thing at the same time. The two wills cannot unite in a single object. Even the handle we grasp to turn a machine we can only grasp ourselves, though another helps us with it, the part of the work that we do through our own will is only half of the whole work. We do our half, the other person the other half. Two will-impulses cannot exist together in one object. Although we occupy common worlds through our will, it is exactly through this will that we are so placed in the world that each of us is a single individuality. It is just by this we are shown how the will constitutes the individual worth of a human being, how from this standpoint the will is the innermost thing.

We may gather from this that perception and thought are more external in the inner life of man, and that feeling and will are more internal, and constitute his true inner nature.

Now with respect to these four spheres of human soul-life another distinction may be seen, even through an entirely external, exoteric method of observation. When we confront the world with our perception we may say that this perception does indeed bring the world to us, but from one standpoint only. How small is that section of the world which through our perception we are able to make into our own inner life! In perception we are dependent upon place and time. We must allow that the very least part of what we perceive in the world enters our inner life through our perception. And with respect to our thought we have the notion that no matter what efforts we make there are always further steps that can be taken; through our thought we can always press on further and further. In short, we have the notion that the world is there outside, and through perception and thought we can only make ourselves masters of a tiny portion of this world. It is different with feeling; for in this case one asks: what possibilities of feeling, what possibilities in the way of joy and sorrow are within us? What might we not bring forth from the depths of our soul! And if we did bring it forth, how much more nobly should we feel about the things of the world!

Whereas with regard to perception and thought one has the notion that there is a great deal outside in the world of which one can experience only a small portion through perception and thought; with respect to feeling one has the sensation: within me are endless depths; could I but bring them forth, my feeling would become richer and richer. I can only bring forth the smallest part and transform it into actual feeling ... through perception and thought I can only turn a tiny portion of the world into my own inner world, in the sphere of actual experience I can only give expression to a part of the possibilities I have within me. And this is also the case to a much higher degree with the will. I refer to one thing only. How strongly we feel our shortcomings in what we do, as compared with what we might do, or in what it is possible for us to do!

Thus we realise that we only bring a portion of the outer world into our inner life through our perception and thought; and we are only able to bring forth a part of what lies deep down in the soul, through our feeling and our will. Thus the four spheres of our soul-life are divided, as it were, into two parts; perception and thought on the one side, feeling and will on the other.

An entirely different light is thrown upon these four spheres of our inner life when we try to illumine esoterically that which we may thus explain exoterically by means of thought.

You know that during the night when a person is asleep, the connection between his ‘I’ and his astral body on the one hand, and his physical body and etheric body on the other, is different from what it is while he is awake. During the day while he is awake his physical body, etheric body, astral body and ‘I’ are coupled together in a normal manner. This connection is loosened during sleep, so that the astral body and the ‘I’ are away from the sphere of the senses and from the sphere of thought, that is, away from the entire sphere of the instruments of consciousness, and therefore the darkness of night is spread over normal consciousness and unconsciousness supervenes. Now, when through his esoteric exercises a person so strengthens his soul that he knows and perceives — that is, he spiritually knows and perceives — in the spiritual soul-being which he is during the night; when he is unconscious outside the body, when he really experiences this spiritual soul-being as his own human nature outside the body, then a new world appears to him, a spiritual world, just as a physical world exists for a person when he makes use of the senses and the brain which serves thought. Thus a spiritual world is around him.

Now, the spiritual environment which can then be observed, is by no means always the same. Were a person to place himself in the position of a spiritual investigator, he would see at various times and in various ways, how the intention always affects what a person sees spiritually. It is not the conscious intention, but rather the unconscious, instinctive intention which always affects what he really wants to know. If, for example, a person goes out of his body in order to come in contact with a dead person, this intention affects the whole of his spiritual field of consciousness; he overlooks, as it were, all that does not belong to this intention. If he succeeds at all, he steers straight for the dead person and his destiny, in order to see what he desires to see in connection with him. The rest of the spiritual world remains unnoticed — it would be better to use the word obscure — and the person then feels his connection with the dead. Thus what a man sees in the spiritual world, depends upon his intention. And so you can understand, that what is described by the clairvoyant consciousness regarding what it sees in the spiritual world, may vary infinitely with different clairvoyant individuals. Each one may have seen quite correctly what he did see, according to the purpose in him when he withdrew his soul and spirit from his physical, bodily part. In this and the following lectures I shall describe what the clairvoyant consciousness sees when it enters into the spiritual world with the intention of knowing the inner human-life — these four soul-spheres of Perception, Thought, Feeling and Will — in order actually to get behind that which ebbs and flows in this human soul causing it happiness and sorrow.

Let us suppose that a clairvoyant consciousness has reached the point where the spiritual and soul-part can really leave the physical bodily-part in a way similar to what is usually done unconsciously during sleep; and he leaves it with the definite purpose — the definite impulse to become acquainted with, to feel really confronted with the inner life of man. He will meet with what I shall now try to describe.

The first thing that the clairvoyant consciousness meets with, is in fact a complete reversal of his entire mental outlook. As long as we are in the body we look around us with our senses and think about what we see with our intellect. We look upon a world of mountains, rivers, clouds, stars, etc., and at one point in this world we see ourselves as a very small thing compared with this great world. When the clairvoyant consciousness begins to act outside the body, this relationship is exactly reversed. The world which ordinarily is outspread before our senses and which we reflect upon with the intellect that is connected with our brain — this world disappears from our view. It no longer provides us with thoughts, but one feels as if poured out into this world, one really feels as if one has left one's body.

This perception is correctly expressed when we say to ourselves, Thou art now poured out into the world which previously thou didst look upon, thou art in it, thou fillest the whole space up to a certain limit, and yet thou thyself livest in time. This is a sensation to which one has to become accustomed; it is at first a sensation which may be expressed by saying, that what previously was outer world has now become inner world. Not as if one now carried within one this former outer world, but one has the feeling it has become one's inner world; one feels: thou art living in the space in which formerly thy sense-impressions were outspread and art regarding the objects and processes of which thou didst think. Thou art living in it. ... And when one develops clairvoyant consciousness to a certain extent, the tiny being, the man, who formerly seemed to stand in the centre of the sensible horizon, now really becomes the world, and we look on it as we formerly looked on the whole of the outer world which was outspread in space and ran its course in time. To a certain extent we have become the world. Only imagine what a reversal of the human way of considering the world it is, when that which previously was not world, that to which one had said ‘I’ — when this now really becomes the world outside, towards which everything tends. It is as if from every point of space one were to look towards a single centre and there behold oneself. It is as if one floated back and forth in time and at a certain point, on a wave of this stream of time, one found oneself. One has oneself become the world.

That is the first impression received when — and I once more lay stress on this — when with ‘intention’ to learn to understand the inner life of man, one develops the clairvoyant consciousness; that is the first impression. Is it not remarkable that one goes out of the body with intention to learn about the inner life of man and the first thing that meets one is the human form itself? But how changed is this human form! One cannot say it often enough: that one must go out of the body with the intention of becoming acquainted with the inner life of man and then all that I now tell you takes place. Naturally, it does not necessarily always appears the same. How differently does this human form present itself! One knows: ‘That which thou art now looking at, is thyself; yea, it is thee. Thou who formerly didst feel thyself within thy skin, within thy blood, art now outside.’

At first one sees only what one might call the outer form of that which stands there; though changed. These eyes, those parts which were eyes, shine like two suns, but suns which inwardly vibrate with sparkling light, suns which sparkle, whose light shines out and fades, giving forth radiant light — thus do the eyes appear in the changed human form. The ears begin to sound in a certain way. One does not see the ears as one does in the physical world, but one feels a certain resonance. The whole skin shines with a sort of radiation, which one feels rather than sees. In short, the human form appears to one as something which gives forth light, sound and magnetic, electric radiations. These expressions are naturally inappropriate, because they are taken from the physical world. Thus does the world stand before us, and this is our world at the beginning of the clairvoyant experience we have described. One sees the human being which sparkles with light, the whole skin sparkles so that one can feel it, the eyes can be seen, the ears heard. And when one has this impression, one knows: Thou hast seen thy physical body, from outside the body. One knows: seen from the standpoint of the spirit the physical body is like this.

If one then tries to exercise an inner activity out there, outside the body, which may be compared to reflection — though this differs somewhat from ordinary thinking, for it is the exercise of an inner creative soul-force — if one does this, one sees something more in this shining being; one sees forces moving within it, something like a circulation of force permeating this shining form. Then one knows: That which thou seest like a separate part within thy light body is thy thought-life seen from outside. One may call that of which one now sees part, the etheric body. One sees the etheric body as the weaving thought-life. It is like a circulation of dark waves, a spiritual blood circulation, one might describe it as dark waves in the light-body, giving a peculiar appearance to the whole and constraining one to acknowledge there in thy physical body pulses and weaves the etheric body, which thou now seest from outside, which now becomes visible to thee.

You see, therefore, that outside the body one gains the knowledge that the physical and etheric bodies really exist, and how they appear when seen from outside.

But this inward strengthening may go still further. If one were only to see what I have just described, one would appear peculiar in the spiritual world: one would appear in the spiritual world like a being who on the physical plane could indeed receive impressions from the outer world, but who was inwardly entirely void of feeling, who could feel nothing at all. What corresponds to feeling on the physical plane, can also move us inwardly when outside the body. It is not feeling, for feeling has meaning and existence only within the physical body, but it is that which corresponds to feeling in the spiritual world. Previously, for instance, we merely felt that we were within space and moved in time; in that space in which we observed events and beings and in that time in which we realised that we were in it. When, however, the inner soul-nature which corresponds. to feeling is awakened outside the body, the soul-nature begins to develop a knowledge through which all sorts of things come to light, through which one not only feels as if outspread in space, but through which one perceives something in this space, something which moves in the stream of time; as ‘being.’ One now finds, not what one formerly saw by means of the body and its organs in the outer world, but one finds one has experiences in the inner part of this outer world, in the spiritual part which lives and moves in this outer world. It is as if the space, in which formerly one had only been aware of oneself, were now filled with innumerable stars all in motion, to which one belongs oneself. Then one knows: Thou art now experiencing thyself in the astral body outside the physical body in such a way that what formerly was only felt, now comes to life as inner content.

In looking back at that part of oneself seen previously, which we described as the outer world — that light-body with the dark thought-circulation of the etheric body within it — then, at the moment of concentration [outside the body] upon the astral, the star-life of the astral body, — the body one has left behind — appears different. The exact difference may be expressed as follows: Thou canst concentrate upon thyself, looking back on thy light-body and thy etheric-thought body; thou canst so concentrate on thyself that an inner star-world comes to life within these, regarding which thou knowest: This thou fillest completely, now thou lookest back on thy physical body which thou hast left behind; the shining may then cease, the thought circulation also.

This is done to a certain extent voluntarily and in the place of what has faded, comes an image of our own being, which appears to us — it cannot be expressed otherwise — it appears as our ‘personified karma.’ That, which as human beings we bear within us, that on account of which we shall have this or that fate, is here as if rolled into one. Before us stands our karma personified. When we see this we know: thou art that; such thou really art in thy moral, inner being, as thou standest as an individuality in the world, that thou thyself really art!

Then emerges another consciousness and this consciousness which now supervenes is very depressing. For instance, one sees the whole of this personified fate in such a way that one feels it in most intimate connection with one's body, with one's earth-man, and indeed in such a way that one knows directly: The manner in which thy muscles are constructed in thy earthly body, the whole form of thy muscular system is the creation of this thy fate, thy karma. Now comes the time when one says to oneself: How different Maya or Illusion is from reality! As long as we are on the physical plane we think that this man of muscle consists of fleshly muscles; in reality these fleshly muscles are crystallised karma. And they are so formed in man, so crystallised, that, even to the finest chemical formation man bears his crystallised karma in his muscular system. So strongly is this the case that the spiritual observer sees quite clearly that when for example a person has exercised his muscles so that they have taken him to a place where an accident happens to him, it happened because in his muscles lay the spiritual force which drove him of himself to the place where the accident occurred. The cosmic order has crystallised our fate within our muscular system. In our muscular system lives the spirit (crystallised for the physical plane), which without our apparent knowledge leads us everywhere, directing our coming and our going in accordance with our karma.

If inward strengthening is carried further, if the pupil while outside his body, experiences his inner being still further, there arises within him what in physical life on the physical plane corresponds to the impulse of the Will. As soon as this life of Will rises within a man — but when outside the body — he feels not only as if he were within a system of stars, but as if he were in the sun of this system: he knows that he is one with the sun of his planetary system. One might say that when a person inwardly experiences his astral body he knows that he is one with the ‘planets’ of his planetary system; when he experiences his ‘I’ outside the body he knows that he is one with thy sun of his solar system, to which everything turns, around which all is ordered. If we look back on that which is now no longer within us, but outside — and what is outside us, so long as we are in the physical body, is within us when we are outside the body, and what is within us, when we are in the physical body, is outside us when we are outside the body — if one now looks back at oneself, something else appears; in looking at oneself, one is confronted by the necessity that what exists out there in the physical world as one's own body, had to come into being and must again decay.

The growth and decay of the physical body is what confronts one. One becomes aware that there are Spiritual Powers and Beings which guide and direct the coming forth and growth of this physical body and that there are others which disintegrate this physical body. One becomes aware of that into which this actual growth and decay in the physical world again crystallises. For one knows that this growth and decay is connected fundamentally with the bone-system of man. With the formation of the bone-system in the human physical body, judgement, so to say, is given, regarding the form in which the human being experiences birth and death in the physical body. The way in which a man comes into being and decays, is decided by the way in which the bone-system is crystallised within him. The knowledge comes to one — thou couldst not be the being thou art in physical existence if the whole world had not co-operated in order to bring about the hardening of the physical nature, so that it appears as it does in thy bone-system. In the skeleton one learns to reverence — curious as this may sound — the ruling Cosmic Powers which find their spiritual expression in all the Beings concentrated in the life of the sun. One learns to recognise that this skeleton has been sketched out, as it were, in the cosmic order as the fundamental plan of man, and that the other physical organs have been attached to it.

Thus to clairvoyant vision, that which now has become the outer world culminates in the symbol of death, or one might say, in the vision of the skeleton. For through such clairvoyant experiences one at length acquires knowledge of how the spiritual worlds have fashioned an external physical symbol, as it were, of themselves — these spiritual worlds to which one really belongs with one's inner being and into which one enters on going out of the body. At this fourth stage we also learn that when we perform actions in the world, when we exercise our will, a force is active within us of which we are unconscious on the physical plane and which we only now learn to recognise. If we but make a forward movement and in doing so employ the mechanism of our skeleton, universal cosmic forces take part in the action, forces into which we really first enter when we have experienced this fourth stage outside our body.

Suppose a person goes for a walk and with the aid of the mechanism of his bones moves his limbs forward; he imagines that he does this for his own pleasure. In order that forces might come into existence to enable us to move ourselves forward by the mechanism of our bones, the whole world had to come into being and the whole world had to be filled with divine spiritual forces, spiritual forces of which we only become aware when we arrive at the fourth stage. The divine spiritual Cosmos participates in our every step, and though we think that it is we who move our feet forward, we could not do so if we did not live within the spiritual Cosmos, within the divine world. As long as we are in our physical body we gaze around us; there we see the beings belonging to the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, we see mountains, rivers, oceans, seas, clouds, stars, sun and moon; what we see externally has an inner Being and we ourselves enter into this inner Being when we live outside our body in the manner described. When we live in these Beings we know that their spiritual essence, that which is hidden behind the radiant Sun, behind the shining stars, behind the mountains, rivers, seas, clouds — that which is hidden there lives in the mechanism of our bones when we move them, and that all this must be so.

We can now more clearly understand what was said previously. Just as our will is inwardly connected with the mechanism of our bones, our feelings are inwardly connected with our muscular system. This muscular system is the symbolical expression of our feeling-system. In order that our muscles can be constructed as they are, permitting of expansion and contraction, so as in their turn to set the mechanism of the bones in motion — in order that this can come to pass, the whole planetary system is necessary. We learn this when we find ourselves in our astral body. In our muscular system lives the whole planetary system, just as the whole cosmos lives in the mechanism of our bones. What can be said in a similar way about our thoughts and our sense-perceptions will follow in the next lectures.

Spiritual knowledge reveals such things to us. From this we see that spiritual knowledge is truly not merely something which gives us thoughts and ideas, but which can permeate our whole soul so that we thereby really learn to know ourselves; we become different human beings in all our feeling and thinking. For when a person accepts what has just been described as the experience of clairvoyant consciousness — and which I think can easily be understood — if he accepts this and allows it to work upon his mind and then gathers it together in one fundamental feeling in his soul, how may this fundamental feeling be expressed? How must we describe in a few words that which is enkindled within us as an inner feeling through this clairvoyant knowledge?

We look at that which seemingly is most ordinary, the expression of our most everyday moods, and we receive something like an impression of what is described concerning Capesius and Benedictus in the opening sentences of my Mystery Drama, The Soul's Probation, namely how in man are gathered together the aims which divine Spiritual Beings have set before them, how into the nature of man flows that which divine Spiritual Beings have thought throughout the worlds, If we wish to sum this up in one vital feeling, we may describe it by saying that we now regard human nature differently from what we did before, we now know in a different manner than formerly that human nature is permeated by the divine Cosmos. Our consciousness is fired by this and waxing stronger declares with inner understanding of soul and feeling that if we wish to understand man, we cannot do so otherwise than by recognising that the whole is born from out Divine-Spirituality. When we consider him and observe how his feelings flow into his muscular activity and how Divine-Spirituality, the Cosmos, enters into his bones, how the whole universe lives in the movement of his bones and the whole planetary system lives in the contraction, expansion and relaxation of his muscles, when we ponder on this and feel it deeply, we can say with full understanding: Of a truth man is born from God:

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Re: The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebir

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:10 pm


Vienna, 10th April, 1914.

In the last lecture, my task in connection with our study of Thought, Feeling, Will and Perception, was to impart a few esoteric experiences which the human soul undergoes, when as a spiritual investigator it lives outside the body with the intention of experiencing something concerning the inner nature of man. To-day I shall try to bring forward other experiences from a different aspect, because only when we observe life from different spiritual points of view are we really able to arrive at the true explanation of it.

You will remember, that in the last lectures we tried to describe what the human soul first sees when, from outside the body, it looks back at its own body and on all that is connected with it physically; and then how it afterwards discovers what the astral body and Ego of man experience when they strengthen themselves more and more in the sphere into which they enter when outside the body. Now there is another way of considering the same matter and indeed it is of supreme importance in true, spiritual research, to realise that one only really solves the riddle of existence through spiritual observation, when a matter is considered from various sides. There is another way of leaving the body. I might say that the way I described in the last lecture showed us the soul leaving the body, so that it simply goes out of the body into space and begins to live there outside the body. This process of leaving the body can also take place in the following manner. In order to find the way out of oneself, one may try to begin with, to enter more deeply into oneself; one may try to connect oneself with spiritual experiences through that in the soul which is most similar to them, one may try to connect oneself with these experiences through one's memory. I have often said that because as human souls we are not only able to perceive, to think, to feel and to will, but are also able to store up our thoughts and perceptions as a treasure in the memory, we are thereby really able to change our inner life into something spiritual. In recent public lectures I mentioned that the French philosopher Bergson says that the treasure of memory in the human soul cannot be considered as directly connected with the body, but rather as an interior possession of the soul, as something which the soul develops, something which is purely of the soul and spirit.

In fact, when Imagination begins in the clairvoyant consciousness, when from the darkness of spiritual existence the first impressions emerge, these first impressions are very similar in quality and in their whole nature to the contents of the soul which we bear within us as the treasure of memory. When we begin to perceive with clairvoyant consciousness, the revelations from the spiritual world appear in us like memory pictures, but infinitely more spiritual. We then notice that the treasure of our memory is the first really spiritual thing through which we lift ourselves, to a certain extent, out of our body. But then we have to go further, we have to draw forth from spiritual depths fleeting pictures, such as those memory presents to us, but much more living; pictures which do not belong to our experience like the ideas in memory, but which rise, as it were, behind the memory. This must be borne in mind. Something comes forth from unfamiliar spiritual realms, whereas the treasure of memory comes forth from what we have experienced in physical life.

Now, if we try to turn our spiritual gaze to the experiences of our Ego during the years that have passed since our childhood, back as far as our memory extends, if we try to shut out everything external and live entirely within ourselves, so that we penetrate more and more deeply into our memory and draw forth from its treasures what is not usually present, we gradually approach the point of time to which our remembrance extends. And if we do this often, if we acquire a certain amount of practice in calling forth long-forgotten memories — and this can be done — so that we develop a stronger power of memory; if we call forth more and more of what we have forgotten and thereby strengthen the power which evokes memories, we shall find, that just as in a meadow flowers appear among the green blades of grass, so between the memories appear pictures, imaginations of something we have not known before, something that really emerges like flowers among the grass in a meadow, but which comes forth from entirely different spiritual depths than do our memories which only come forth from our own soul. Then we learn to distinguish between what might be connected in any way with our memories, and what comes forth from spiritual sources and spiritual depths. Thus we gradually become able to develop the power to call forth the spiritual from its depths. We thereby get out of our body in a different way from the one described in the last lecture, where one leaves the body directly, as it were. By the method we have just described we first go backwards through our life. We sink into our inner life. Through strengthening our power of remembrance we accustom ourselves to draw forth spiritual things from the spiritual world in our inner life between our memories, and thus at length we attain to where we push on beyond birth and beyond conception, into the spiritual world in which we lived before we were connected in our present incarnation with physical substance through heredity. Returning rapidly through our life we reach out into the spiritual world far back in ‘time’, before we entered into this incarnation. This is the other way of leaving the body and of entering the spiritual world, a way quite different from the one described in the last lecture. Notice this difference carefully, for in this course of lectures I have to acquaint you with very many subtleties and intimate things regarding spiritual life, and it is difficult to describe these in fitting words. It is only when we try to comprehend these differences that we enter correctly into these matters and acquire certainty in our thought about them.

If a person leaves his body in the manner I have just described, he comes out of it quite differently. When he leaves his body in the manner I described in the last lecture, he feels that he is outside his life in outer space. I described how he diffuses himself over external space and how he looks back at his physical body. He slips out of his body and fills space, as it were. He steps out into ‘space’. But if a man really goes through what we are describing to-day, he steps out of space itself; space ceases to have any meaning for him. He leaves space and is then only in ‘time’. So that on leaving his body in this way, the words: ‘I am outside my body’ cease to have any meaning, for outside signifies a relationship in space. He feels that he does not exist contemporaneously with his body, he feels himself in ‘time’; at that time in which he was before his incarnation, in a ‘before’. And he looks upon his body as existing afterwards. He really exists only within onstreaming, onflowing time. In place of ‘outer’ and ‘inner’, comes a ‘before’ and ‘after’.

Through this way of going forth from his body he is really able to enter into the realms we pass through between death and rebirth: for he goes back in time, he lives back into a life in which he lived before his earth-life. Earthly life appears in such a way that he asks: What is in the future? What appears to us there as coming later? In this way, you have a more exact understanding regarding matters which I have been unable to go into so fully in my public lectures, how for instance we enter concretely into the realms in which we live between death and rebirth.

If in this way the pupil has passed out of his body by returning into the life which he had previously lived in the spirit, he has thereby passed out of space. This way of leaving the body, going from the ‘present’ to the ‘previous’, has a much higher degree of inwardness than the other way, and, to the spiritual investigator, the way we have just described is infinitely more important than the way we described in the last lecture which does not get out of space; for that which concerns the deeper matters of the soul can only really be comprehended when one leaves the body in the manner described to-day. And now I might mention one thing, from which you will see how one has to try to get behind the depths and subtleties of human life.

Here in the physical body we live our physical life; we make use of our senses; we perceive the world; we think about the world; we feel in it; through our actions we try to be of value in this world; we act consciously by means of our body. Thus everyday life goes on; this life goes on, in so far as we belong to the physical plane. Now for every one who truly wishes to establish his worth as a human being there must be a higher life and there always has been a higher life of the soul. Religions which inspired men to a higher life have always existed. In the future, Spiritual Science will inspire mankind to this higher life. What is the aim of this higher life? What is the aim of this life which in Thought, Feeling and Perception transcends what the physical plane has to offer, which, in one person is but dim religious ideas, in another through the clear definitions of Spiritual Science, far transcends what the senses can see, what the intellect which is connected with the brain can think, or what man through his body can accomplish in the world? The human soul tends towards a spiritual life. To feel spiritual life within himself, to know something about the spiritual life which goes beyond physical life — this alone it is which gives man his value. We might say that as long as a human being dwells in the physical body he endeavours to enhance his value, he tries to gain a notion of his true destiny, through a life which he conceives as going beyond the physical world, through a presentiment of feeling, a knowledge of the spiritual world. ‘Look up to the spirit, feel that spiritual forces are weaving through the physical world I’ — That is fundamentally the note which religion and the life connected with religion should give to man. Anyone who means to bring up a child seriously will take care not to allow this child to grow up with external, material conceptions alone, but will provide it with ideas regarding a super-sensible world.

Let us now, without wishing to draw attention to the limited and dogmatic side of any religion, describe as religion that which draws man out of this physical world. And with respect to what we have just described as the passing of the human soul beyond birth and conception into a previous spiritual world where it is also out of space, let us ask: Is there between death and rebirth, is there in the world into which we enter in the manner we have explained, is there something there which might be called a religion of that spirit-land? Is there something above, which may be compared to religious life on earth? We have already described in many particulars and shall yet have to describe further what a human being goes through between death and rebirth; but let us now ask, is there such a thing as religion in spiritual life? Is there something concerning which one may say that it bears the same relationship to the experiences in the spirit-land as the references to the super-sensible world bear to the everyday life of the physical plane?

Anyone who passes out of his body in the manner we have described arrives at the knowledge that up above in the spirit-land there is also something like a sort of religious life. And, curiously enough, while one experiences everything around one in the spirit-land, spiritual beings and spiritual events, one has there before one continually the picture of the human ideal; this appears like a mighty spiritual structure, throughout spiritual life, or at least for a great part of this life between death and rebirth. Here on earth, we have as religion everything that transcends man; in the spiritual world, we have the Ideal Man himself as religion. We learn that the various Beings of the various spiritual hierarchies permit their forces to work together in order that man may gradually be produced in the world, in the manner described in my book, Occult Science. The aim of the creative activity of the Gods is the Ideal Man. That Ideal Man does not really come to life in physical man as he is at present, but in the noblest spiritual and soul life that it is possible through the perfect development and training of aptitudes which this physical man has within him. Thus a picture of Ideal Man is ever present to the mind of the Gods. This is the religion of the Gods.

On the far shore of Divine existence there rises before the Gods the temple which presents the image of Divine Being in the form of man, as the highest divine work of art, and the special thing is that while man develops in the spirit-land between death and rebirth, he gradually matures so as to be able to see this temple of humanity, this high ideal of humanity. Whereas here upon earth, we recognise that a life of religion has to be our free act, that we have to draw it forth ourselves and that it is also possible for the materialistic mind to deny religion, the reverse is the case in the spirit-land between death and rebirth. The longer we live within the second half of the time between death and rebirth, the more clearly does it appear before us, so that we cannot disregard it, that this most sublime Ideal Man, the goal of the Gods, is always before us. Here on earth a person may be irreligious, because his soul may disregard the spirit as compared to the body; above, it is impossible for him not to see the aim of the Gods, for it stands clearly before his eyes. Thus in the second half of the life between death and rebirth the ideal of humanity stands, as it were, on the shore of existence, that is to say, on the shore of on-flowing time (consider all these expressions as referring to ‘time’ that is outside space). A religion formed on knowledge cannot exist there; for in the spiritual world we realise what the content of religion is. In this sense no one can be irreligious there. The religious ideal of the spirit-land is ever before one, it stands there of itself, it is the goal of the Gods and when we enter upon the second half of our life between death and rebirth it stands before us as the mightiest, the most glorious Imagination. Although we cannot there develop a religion by knowledge, still, under the guidance of the higher Spiritual Beings who are there active for man, we do develop a sort of religion.

While perception or sight cannot be taught, because things are self-evident; our will, our feeling-will and willing-feeling have to be stimulated in the second half of our life between death and rebirth, in order that we may really strive towards what we see there. Into our willing-feeling, into our feeling-will How a divine will and a divine feeling. In order that we may choose the path towards these in the second half of our life between death and rebirth, we are instructed with respect to our willing-feeling; — all these terms are inappropriate for this entirely different life, but still this expression may be used. It is only when a teacher has first called forth ideas in us, that he then works further upon our feelings; but over there it is the case that when one has passed over the point which we have still to describe, midway between death and rebirth, when one has passed that which in my last Mystery Drama, The Soul's Awakening, I describe as the Midnight Hour, there is at first a certain dullness as regards willing and feeling in respect of that which stands as a glorious temple in the distance of ‘time’. Divine forces then send a glowing warmth through the inner powers of our soul. It is a kind of instruction which speaks directly to our inner being, and which has such an effect that we gradually gain the power really to desire to tread the path towards the ideal we see.

Whereas in physical life we may stand in front of a teacher and he may stand before us, and yet we may really feel that he speaks to our heart from outside, we feel that our spiritual teachers, who belong to the higher hierarchies, when they teach us in the manner I have just described, send their own forces directly into our inner being. Earthly teachers speak to us; in the life between death and rebirth spiritual teachers pour their life into our souls, then they instruct us in spiritual religion. Thus we feel these teachers from the higher hierarchies ever more and more within us, we feel ourselves connected with them more and more inwardly, and thereby our inner life becomes stronger. ‘Thou art accepted ever more and more by the Gods; the Gods live in thee more and more, and they help thee to grow inwardly stronger and stronger I’ — That is the fundamental feeling throughout the second half of the life between death and rebirth.

Thus we see that everything in that life is so arranged that our experiences run their course in the depths of the soul itself. Now, while being instructed by the Gods, we arrive at a certain point in our experience between death and rebirth — at a very important point. Far away at the most distant point of time we see the ideal of humanity; but the forces which our divine-spiritual teachers can give us are dependent on what we have made of ourselves in the course of our incarnations, in the course of our previous human life. As we turn towards life from the Midnight of the world, we stand exactly midway between death and rebirth; as we follow our life further and further and see the ideal of humanity in the most distant future, we are at a point whence we have the furthest perspective of this ideal of humanity.

When we reach this point we have to say to ourselves — of course we do not say this, we experience it quite inwardly, but it has to be expressed in the words of ordinary life — we have to say to ourselves: ‘Divine Spiritual Forces have worked on thee, they have entered ever more and more deeply within thy soul, they live in thee; but thou hast now arrived at the point where thou canst not fill thyself any more with these forces, for thou wouldst have to be far more perfect if thou wouldst go beyond this point.’ Here an important decision has to be made. At this moment a severe temptation assails us.

The Gods have meant well by us; they have given us all they could in the meantime; they have made us as strong as was possible according to the measure of the power we have so far acquired in life. The strength given us by the Gods is within us, and a temptation comes which says to us: ‘Thou canst follow these Gods; thou canst now allow all that thou art, to enter, as it were, into the forces the Gods have given thee; thou canst go into the spiritual worlds, for the Gods have given thee a very great deal.’ We might at this point spiritualise ourselves entirely. This is the prospect that confronts us. But we could only do this by turning aside from the path leading to the great ideal of humanity. This means, in other words, that we should force our way into the spiritual worlds taking all our imperfections with us, and there they would change into perfection. This they would really do. We might enter with our imperfections, and because we were permeated with divine forces we should become a spiritual being, but this being would have to renounce the possibilities it now has within it, which it has not realised on its path so far, and which lie in the direction of the great ideal of humanity, these it would have to renounce. Each time, before an earthly incarnation takes place, the temptation comes to remain in the spiritual world, to enter into the Spirit and to develop further with what we already have which is now entirely permeated with Divinity, but to renounce what it is possible for us to become more and more as men, along the path to the distant religious ideal of the divinely spiritual world. The temptation assails us to become irreligious with respect to the spirit-land. This temptation is all the stronger because at no time in the evolution of humanity has Lucifer greater power over man than at this moment, when he whispers ‘Seize the opportunity, thou canst remain in the Spirit; thou canst carry over into the spiritual light all that thou has acquired!’ Lucifer tries by every means to make the soul forget the possibilities it yet has within it, and which stand before it as the distant temple on the far shores of time. As humanity now is, a man would not be able to withstand the temptation of Lucifer at this point, if the Spirits to whom Lucifer is opposed did not now take upon themselves the affairs of man. A fight for the human soul takes place, between Lucifer and the Gods who lead man towards his ideal, the Gods who adhere to the religion of the Gods. The result of this fight is that the archetypal image which the human being has formed from his earthly existence, is thrown out of time into space, it is attracted magnetically by special existence. This is also the moment when that magnetic attraction through the parents is felt, when the human being is transported into the sphere of space; when he becomes connected with space. Through this, all that might instil into him the temptation to remain in the spiritual world is veiled. And this veiling is expressed by his being enveloped by the body. He is surrounded by the body in order that he may not see what Lucifer wishes to put before him. And when he is enveloped by the covering of the body, when he sees the world by means of his bodily senses and his bodily intellect, he does not see what he might otherwise strive after in the spiritual world, if he were misled by the Tempter. He does not see it; he sees this world of Spiritual Beings and spiritual events from outside, as revealed to his senses and to the intellect connected with the brain. When he is in the sense-body, the Spirits who watch over him undertake his development.

Let us now ask: How much goes on in the subconscious depths of our soul between birth and death, how much goes on without our knowing anything about it? If we had to do consciously all that occurs in our lives, we could by no means go through our earthly existence. I have already indicated in my book, The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind, that when a person enters into physical incarnation he himself must work plastically on his brain and nervous system. He works upon it, but he works unconsciously. All this is the outcome of a much greater wisdom than that which a human being can comprehend with the intellect that is bound to the senses. Between birth and death a wisdom rules within us which exists behind the world which we see with our senses and concerning which we think with the intellect that is connected with our brain. This wisdom is in the background; it is hidden from us between birth and death, but it controls, it lives and works within us in the subconscious depths of our soul, and in these subconscious depths of our soul it has to take our affairs in hand, because we have to be withdrawn for a time from the vision of that which would be a temptation for us. All the time we live in our body we should — if the Guardian of the Threshold did not withhold from us the vision into the spiritual world — be tempted step by step to abandon our still undeveloped human possibilities and to follow the upward sweep into the spiritual worlds, taking with us all our imperfections, instead of allowing ourselves to be guided thereto through careful training. We have need of our earthly life so as to be withdrawn during this time from the temptation of Lucifer.

Up to the time mentioned, when we are led forth into space, Lucifer has no power over us and there is always the possibility of progress; but he draws near at the time we have to make the decision. We can make no further progress through our previous life, so we wish to turn aside with all our imperfections and remain in the spiritual world. The Gods of progress, to whom Lucifer is opposed, protect us from this by withdrawing us from the spiritual world, by hiding themselves from us and from the spiritual world, doing that which has to be accomplished in us without our being conscious of it. Thus we stand here as human beings in the world, conscious in our physical body, and say: ‘We give ye thanks, ye Gods! Ye have given us the power to know as much of the world as is good for us; for if we were to see beyond the threshold of the present horizon of our consciousness we should be in danger every moment of not wishing to reach the goal of humanity.’ We have to be transported into the world of space from that bright, higher condition of consciousness in which we live between death and rebirth — when spiritual worlds and spiritual beings surround us, when we are in the spirit, in order that in the world of space that world may be hidden from us which we are unable to endure until we have passed through the period between birth and death. During the time we dwell on earth, through our having been withdrawn from the spiritual world, through this spiritual world not having worked upon us and through material objects alone having surrounded us — we have again received a new impulse towards the distant goal of the ideal of humanity. For the divine Spirits who drive us forward work in us the whole time we live upon earth, during which time we do not see consciously into the spiritual world. They work in such a manner that they are not disturbed by our state of consciousness, they are not disturbed by our being tempted to follow Lucifer. They instil so much power into us, that, when we pass through the portal of death, we are able again to press forward a little further towards the ideal of humanity.

What I have just indicated in these words is another mystery which lies behind human existence. I think it is good for us at this Eastertide to consider those conditions of life which are attained by going out of the body in a more inward way; to consider the relationship between death and rebirth and the life we afterwards pass in the physical body. We then observe life between death and rebirth and become aware of the guidance of the good Spiritual Beings who are helping us onward. We look up to these Divine Beings as to our past life in the spirit, and we understand that our present existence in the body between birth and death has been lent to us by the Gods, in order that without our doing anything towards it, they may be able to take care of us so that we may develop further. While we perceive the world, while we think in the world, feel in it, will in it, while we store up our treasure of memory in order to have a connected existence in physical life; — behind it all, behind our conscious life, Divine Spiritual Beings are active; guiding onward the stream of time. They have sent us forth into space in order that we may there have exactly as much consciousness as they find it good for us to have, for behind this consciousness they wish to guide our destiny further towards the great ideal of humanity, the IDEAL of the religion of the Gods.

When we consider our inner being in this manner, the inner being which under normal conditions of life we are unable consciously to see and investigate, when we try to fill ourselves with the feeling that there is something within us, which, though we cannot perceive it, with the normal powers of human life, is nevertheless our deepest inner-soul nature; when we try to become aware of this soul-nature which is so deeply hidden within us, and then try to realise that the Gods rule in this soul-nature which we ourselves cannot guide, we then get the right feeling regarding the God which rules within us.

The words that have been spoken to-day have been spoken not so much on account of their theoretical content but to the end that this feeling might arise: — a true Easter-feeling. When the soul, looking on that which is revealed to it when it goes out of itself into space, when, filling space, this soul learns and knows ‘Out of the Divine I am born’, it can still further deepen this knowledge through what has been said to-day, for it becomes aware that: ‘With all I know, with all that is accessible to my soul in Perception, Thought, Feeling and Will, I am born out of a deeper soul-being, that soul-being within me which is yet one with the Divinity which flows within the stream of ‘time’, but flows in it with the Divine. We are aware of a knowledge which may be expressed in a much deeper way than the knowledge expressed at the end of the last lecture. As the result of our considerations to-day, the statement, ‘Out of God we are born’, can be made in a much deeper sense, for we are aware that this soul, together with what it knows regarding itself, is born every moment from out the Divine, so that every moment we may fill our deepest, most inward being with this thought:

‘Out of God we are born’,
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Re: The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebir

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:10 pm


Vienna, 11th April, 1914.

In this lecture we shall have to draw attention to several positive results of occult investigation which will enable us to penetrate into the nature of man and will also show us what a complicated being man really is as he exists in the world. Can we think otherwise than that this human being must be a very complicated being, when we reflect how the true ideal of man, that which it is possible for man to become if he really develops all the possibilities contained within him, is fundamentally the content of the religion of the Gods and that all the Spiritual Beings belonging to the various hierarchies whom we know to be connected with human nature really work together with one object, that of building up man out of the whole cosmos, as the purport of that cosmos.

The first thing we remark is that when a human being receives impressions of the outer world, he actually receives into his consciousness only a small portion of what really surges in upon him. When in the physical world, he opens his sense organs and the intellect connected with his brain and nervous system, when he considers the world and tries to explain what comes to him in this way, only a small portion of what surges in upon him, really attains the form of ideas, only a tiny portion really enters the consciousness of man. Light and colour contain much more than what enters man's consciousness. In sound there is much more than what comes into the consciousness of man. External materialistic physics in its childish idea of the world says that behind colour, behind light, etc., there are material processes, vibrations of atoms and so on. This is indeed but a childish conception of the world, for in reality the following comes to light: —

We must investigate human perception with clairvoyant vision, for only by observing the actual process of perception can we understand man's relation to the surrounding world, even though we consider only the physical world. Something quite unique appears when we observe the process of perception clairvoyantly. Let us suppose some object affects our eyes, we perceive light or colour, and thus we have in our consciousness the sensation of light or colour. The remarkable fact one discovers through spiritual investigation is that in the human being there appears not only this light and this colour, but, in consequence of light and colour, there appears what we might call a sort of light-corpse or colour-corpse. Our eyes cause us to have the sensation of light and colour. Thus we might say: The light streams towards us and brings about in us the sensation of light; but looking deeper into our being we discover that while we are conscious of light, our human nature is permeated by something that has to die in us in order that we may have the sensation of light. We can have no perception, no sensation from outside without a sort of corpse being formed as the result of this sensation.

The spiritual investigator has to say: ‘Here I see a human being; I know that he has the sensation of red. But I see that this red which is in his consciousness pours forth something, pervades his whole being with something which in so far as it has entered within his skin and the limits of his etheric body — kills something in him which becomes like the corpse of the colour. Imagine that whenever we confront the physical world and have our sense-organs open, we always receive into us the corpses of all our sensations, as phantoms — but active phantoms. Whenever we perceive the outer world, something dies in us. This is a most remarkable phenomenon. And the spiritual investigator has to ask: What happens here? What is the cause of this very remarkable phenomenon?

One has to consider what it really is that comes to us as light. This light has a great deal behind it. What manifests as light is only the forerunner, as it were, of that which surges in upon us: at any rate there is not behind the light that undulating motion which external physics fancies, but behind the light, behind all sensations, behind all impressions, there is that which we only comprehend when we view the world occultly through Imaginations, through creative images. The moment we perceive all that lives in light, in sound or in warmth, we perceive, behind what reaches our consciousness, creative Imagination, and within this again is revealed Inspiration, and within that, Intuition. That which comes into our consciousness as the sensation of light or sound is but the outermost layer, only the froth, as it were, of what comes to us; but within it there is that which, if it were to enter our consciousness, could become in us Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.

In what we perceive, we really only receive one-fourth of that which assails us; the other three-fourths penetrate into us without our being aware of them. When we perceive colour, there presses into us, as it were, below the surface of the sensation of colour, — creative Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition; these sink into us. When we investigate more closely into that which thus enters into us, we find that if Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition were really to enter our organism as they wish to do through sense perception, the result would be, that even during the period of our physical earthly existence between birth and death, they would bring about the same spiritual effect as I mentioned yesterday as a possible result of the temptation of Lucifer. This Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition would so act upon us that we should have the impulse to cast behind us every possibility that exists for our becoming the Ideal Man in the far-distant future, and we should want to spiritualise ourselves as we are now; we should want to become spiritual beings at the stage of perfection we have now reached through our previous life. In a certain sense we should say to ourselves: ‘It will be too great an effort for us to become man, for to reach this goal we should have to tread a difficult path in the future. We shall forego the possibilities yet lying in man, we prefer to become angels with all our imperfections, for then we can rise at once into the spiritual world, we can then spiritualise our being; we shall however, be less perfect than we might be in the cosmos, in view of our possibilities, but still we shall be spiritual, angelic beings.’

Here again, you see from this example the great importance of what is called the threshold of the spiritual world, and how important the Being is, who is called the Guardian of the Threshold. For there he stands, at the point of which I have just spoken. It is he who only allows sensation to enter our consciousness, and does not allow Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition to enter; for if these were to enter they would rouse within us a direct impulse to spiritualise ourselves just as we are, foregoing all the subsequent life of humanity. This has to be veiled from us; the door of our consciousness is closed against this impulse which penetrates our being. And in so far as it penetrates our being without our being able to illuminate it with the light of consciousness, as we are obliged to let it descend into the dark depths of our subconsciousness, there come towards it those Spiritual Beings to whom Lucifer is opposed. These come into our being from the other side and now arises within us the war between Lucifer, who sends in his Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition, and the Spiritual Beings to whom Lucifer is opposed. With every sensation, with every perception we should behold this battle, if the threshold of the spiritual world were not closed to our outward perception. But to clairvoyant vision it is not closed.

From this you may see what a great deal really takes place in the inner part of human nature, and the result in us of the battle which takes place there is what I have described as a sort of corpse, a partial corpse. This corpse is the expression of that which has to become entirely material in us, it is like a mineral deposit, which we are unable to spiritualise. If this corpse were not formed through the war between Lucifer and his opponents we should have, instead of this corpse, the result of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition within us and we should rise at once into the spiritual world. The corpse forms the dead weight by which the good Spiritual Beings — the opponents of Lucifer — detain us at first in the physical world, detain us in it so that because of this veiling we should strive towards the true ideal of human nature and the fulfilment of all the possibilities that may be ours. Through this content, this corpse-phantom being formed in us, through our receiving into ourselves, every time we perceive, something which is at the same time a corpse, we kill in us during the act of perception this ever-springing impulse towards spiritualisation. It is while this deposit is forming that what I have often mentioned occurs, and of which it is so important we should recognise the full significance. Just consider! When you look into a mirror you have a sheet of glass before you; this you would see through, if it were not for the mirroring substance spread on it. Through the mirroring substance being upon the sheet of glass everything that is in front of the mirror is rejected. If you were really to stand before your physical body in such a way that you experienced the perceptions which pass into it from Imaginations, Inspirations and Intuitions, you would then see through the physical body, and your feeling would be such that you would say: ‘I will have nothing to do with this physical body; I will take no notice of it, but I will rise just as I am into the spiritual world.’

The physical body would really stand before you like a pane of glass without any mirroring substance behind it. But the physical body is now permeated with the corpse which resembles the mirroring substance of the mirror and it reflects everything that falls upon it, exactly as in the case of sense perception. It is in this way sense that perceptions originate. The permanent corpse we bear within us is the reflecting substance of our whole body and we thereby see ourselves in the physical world. It is because of this that we are individual physical beings in the physical world. How complicated does the human being now appear to us!

Let us take the other case, in which we not merely perceive, but we think. When we think, it is not a sense perception. Sense perceptions may give rise to thought, but true thought does not consist of sense perceptions, it is a more interior process. When we think, we make no impression in our physical body with the actual thought, but we do upon our etheric body. When we think, all that is in the thought does not enter into us. Were all that is contained in thought to enter into us, we should feel, every time we think, nothing but living, elemental beings pulsing in us; we should feel inwardly alive. I mentioned once at Munich that if a person were to experience thoughts just as they are, he would feel somewhat as if he were in an ant heap. Thoughts would live in him, everything would be alive. We do not perceive this life in our human thought, because again, only what is like the froth of it enters our consciousness and forms those shadow-pictures of thought which appear in us as our thinking. On the other hand, that which permeates thought as living force, sinks into our etheric body. We do not perceive the living beings, the living elemental beings swarming through us, but only an extract, something like a shadow of them; but the other part, the life, does enter into us and as it enters into us pervades us in such a manner that again a battle takes place, this time in our etheric body, between the progressing spirits and Ahriman, the Ahrimanic beings. And what is the outcome of this battle? It is that thoughts do not appear in us as they would do if they were alive. Were they to appear as they actually are, we should feel ourselves within the life of the thought-beings moving hither and thither; but we do not perceive this, and our etheric body, which otherwise would be transparent, is rendered opaque. I might say that it becomes somewhat like a smoke-topaz, which has darker layers in it, while quartz is quite transparent and pure. In the same way our etheric body is filled with a spiritual obscurity and that which thus fills our etheric body is the treasure of our thought.

This treasure of thought arises through thoughts being reflected, as it were, in our etheric body in the way described, but in this case, in ‘time’, they are reflected back as far as to the point of time to which our memory extends in physical life. Memory is rejected thoughts, thoughts reflected in time. But deep down in our etheric body, behind memory, work the good divine Spiritual Beings to whom Ahriman is opposed and there they create, they construct the forces which are able to reanimate what has died in the physical body as the result of the above-described process. Thus whereas in our physical body a corpse is produced (a corpse which has to be produced, because otherwise we should have the impulse to spiritualise ourselves with all the imperfections we possess), something like an invigorating vital force proceeds from the etheric body, so that in the future that which has been killed can once more be regenerated.

We now see for the first time the significance of ‘before’ and ‘afterwards’. If in the immediate present we were fully to experience the Intuitions, Inspirations, etc., which enter into us, we should spiritualise ourselves, but through their being thrown into the future by Ahriman, through their not being used now, but being preserved as germs for the future, they attain at last to their true nature. That which we should misuse at the present time we shall employ in the future, when we have passed the portal of death, to shape a new life for ourselves from out the spiritual world. That which — if we were to use it in the physical world — would lead us to spiritualise ourselves with all our imperfections is the force that leads us after death to apply ourselves again to physical earthly life. In such opposite directions do things work in different worlds!

Such is the case with respect to our thought. And now let us consider feeling, that which we have within us as inner feeling. That which we perceive as inner feeling is, once more, not really what it could be according to its whole inner nature. What we have within us as feeling, what enters our consciousness as feeling, is only the shadow of what really lives within us; for here again, in our feeling Spiritual Beings live. Remembering what I said in the first lecture, you will perceive that in feeling live the Spiritual Beings who are really at the back of the whole of our planetary system, only they do not enter our consciousness. Feeling, as we know it, enters our consciousness; the rest remains outside our consciousness. What does it really mean when we say that the rest remains outside our consciousness? It is really very difficult to find words in ordinary language which exactly describe these things. Just as we must say perception and thought produce within us something that is really like a ‘killing’ — but in the case of thought, through counteraction, there is at the same time a sort of impulse towards a future ‘making alive’ — so also we have to say that every feeling we have is not really born in us, it does not come fully into existence. If everything that is in us when we feel were to emerge, what is contained in the feeling would lay hold of and give force to that which is behind the feeling in quite a different manner. That which really makes feeling into a living being, into a living being whose life is nourished by the entire planetary system, does not appear directly. Feeling does arise in us but as a shadow of what it really is. The result is that however profoundly a person may enter into his world of feeling, however deep his feeling for humanity, he is really aware of something unsatisfactory in respect of every feeling. He perceives that each feeling might be enhanced, it might come forth with more power. Especially as regards feeling we have something like a secret consciousness that it could reveal to us much more than it does; it hides something that lives in our inner being, something that is in the depths of our soul and that is only half born.

When we pass on to our will, to all that as wish and will can arise within us, the case is the same as with feeling, but to a higher degree; for behind the will is to be found the Spiritual Being, the Causal Being, who really lives in the sun. In the will there lives not merely that which lives in the planets, but that which lives in the sun itself — but hidden. The will is still less entirely born than is feeling. The will would permeate us very, very differently, if all that is contained in it were really to manifest itself in our consciousness. Only the outermost surface of the will, only it's most superficial part is really expressed. The other remains hidden from us. Why does a whole world remain hidden from us in feeling and in will? It is because if that which remains hidden from us were to be seen from the physical plane, we could not bear it. Seen from the physical plane it would have such an appearance that we should want to ward it off, we should want to turn away from it.

That which lives in feeling and in will, and remains unborn, is karma in process of development, evolving karma. Let us suppose, to choose a concrete example, that we have a hostile feeling towards someone. That which comes into our consciousness when we have this hostile feeling is but the ripple on the surface; below, forces are active which extend over the whole of our planetary system. But it is precisely that which remains hidden that says to us: ‘Through thy hostile feeling thou art implanting in thyself something that is imperfect,’ this thou must make good. The moment that were to appear, which dwells below the surface, we should see before us the ‘Imagination’ of what karmically must balance this hostile feeling. In order to avoid the compensation we should unite ourselves with Lucifer and Ahriman, because we should judge what we saw from the standpoint of the physical plane. On the physical plane this is hidden from us; the Guardian of the Threshold hides it from us because we can only judge the things which are unborn in our feelings and in our will when we live in the spiritual world between death and rebirth. There we will what otherwise we never should will; there we will that what corresponds to a hostile feeling shall really be corrected, because there we have a true interest in the contents of divine religion, in the perfect ideal of humanity, which would make of us perfect human beings. From this we know that what has come to pass through a hostile feeling must receive its equivalent compensation. It has to be held over till the future, only after death may that appear which has remained unborn in our feeling and will.

Thus you see I have presented to you four things connected with the human soul. That which remains unborn in our feeling lives in the astral body. That which remains unborn behind our will, lives in the ‘I’. Again, when we receive impressions of the outer world we receive into us at the same time something like a physical corpse, which is really the mirroring-substance of our physical body. We also have within us a deposit, resembling a beclouding of the etheric body. In our astral body we have something which does not come to birth in the period between birth and death; and in our will we also have something which is not born during this period. This fourfold possibility which a human being bears within him, must be aroused in the period between death and re-birth. It lives within us as the kernel of our soul, just as surely as the seed for the following year lives in the plant. Thus we do not only speak of a soul-seed in a general way, but we can even comprehend this soul-seed in its fourfold nature. When we have a feeling which produces an inward uneasiness, when we are not in harmony with life, it is because a certain pressure is exercised upon the conscious part of our feelings by the unborn part of our feelings. How can this pressure be relieved? Now this pressure is something to which every human being is continually exposed; for what I have just described — in so far as it relates to feeling and will, that is, to what is really our soul-life — is that which brings us into inner disharmony. If there were true unison between that part of feeling and will which is born, and that which remains below the threshold of consciousness, if the right relationship, the right harmony existed, we should live in this sense-world as happy and useful human beings. Here lies the real reason for all inner dissatisfaction. If anyone is inwardly dissatisfied, it comes from the pressure of the subconscious part of his feeling and will.

Now, to the explanation I have given, I must add that the nature of man has changed in the course of his evolution. What I have just described applies particularly to the present time, but it was not always thus. In ancient periods of human evolution, let us say in the ancient Persian, Egyptian and Indian ages, it was different. Of course man's perceptions arose in exactly the same manner, and Imaginations, Inspirations and Intuitions were contained in them; but in ancient times these Imaginations, Inspirations and Intuitions were not so entirely without effect upon man as they are to-day. They did not kill so completely the inner physical part of man. They did not make such a dense mineral deposit. This was because, in those ancient times under certain conditions when perceptions came from outside, something shot up out of feeling and will to meet it. If, for example, we go back to the Egyptian or the Babylonian civilisation and observe human beings, then we find that they perceived quite differently. Of course they confronted the outer sense-world just as we do, but their bodies were so organised that the Imaginations hidden within the sense-perceptions had not only their destructive effect, but they entered with a certain life-giving power. Because they entered in this living way they produced inwardly the reflection of that which now remains entirely hidden in the Ego and astral body. The Spiritual Beings belonging to the sun and planetary system pressed out from within and reflected as it were that which was animated by the Imagination; so that to the people belonging to the ancient Egyptian and Babylonian civilisations there were certain times when, on turning their gaze to the physical world, they did not only have physical perceptions as we have them, but life-endowed perceptions.

The Egyptian knew that behind his perceptions there was something which expressed itself in Imaginations. Hence he was not so foolish as to suppose that behind the perceptions there were vibrations of material atoms, as our present physicists do, but he knew that there was life behind them and from his inner being there streamed towards him pictures of the animated starry heavens and the living sun.

This was particularly strong during the Persian culture, when, together with the outer perception, something like the inner, spiritual force of the sun shone forth — Ahura Mazdao! If we go back to still more ancient times we find this interaction, this meeting of the inner and the outer expressed very much more strongly. To-day this can no longer be the case; but there can be a substitute, and here we reach a point where from the very nature of the thing we can really understand the task of the anthroposophical conception of the world. A substitute has to be produced. We confront the outer world with our perceptions. We think about it, a part of this outer world remains hidden from us, and this has a deadening and darkening effect upon us, but through Spiritual Science we can restore that which is thus darkened and deadened. It is precisely through the restoration of what otherwise is killed and darkened, that the science originates which portrays evolution through the Saturn, Sun and Moon Periods, as described in my book Occult Science. Every human being possesses this knowledge regarding the evolutions of Saturn, Sun and Moon, only it is in the background of his consciousness. He would prefer not to be an earthly man were he able to see it directly, without the necessary preparation: he would prefer not to have any connections with the earth, and to end with the Moon evolution. All the knowledge we are able to acquire through Spiritual Science illuminates the hidden part of evolution in the past. That which as Imaginations, Inspirations and Intuitions lives outside and does not consciously enter into us, is really what we have gone through in the past. To gain this knowledge we must pass beyond the veil of sense-perception.

It is somewhat different regarding what is contained in our feeling and will. A person may say (and many have the impulse to say this at the present time): ‘Why should I concern myself with what these odd people think out, or have thought out, regarding a super-sensible world? I do not accept such ideas!’ A person who says this has never formed any idea as to why religions have come into our evolution. The one thing which all religions have in common is that they relate to things we cannot perceive with our senses: a person who accepts religious ideas fills himself with something he cannot perceive with his senses. Ideas which come from what we sensibly perceive, never give such an impulse to our feelings and will as may have an uplifting power after death. In order that the ‘unborn’ part of our feeling and will may continue to be active after death — as indeed it must — we do not use ideas gained through the perception of the senses, or through the intellect attached to the brain. These do not help us at all. The only ideas which give us the impulse and power which we need after death, are the ideas which correspond to that which is not outwardly real, the conceptions which when accepted make us pious and by which we look up to a spiritual world. Religious conceptions are those which cannot work in us as yet, but they become active forces after death. When we acquire religious conceptions we are not merely acquiring knowledge, but something that can become active after our death. For this reason it must be that anyone who does not want to reflect upon active forces of such a nature may laugh about them and in his materialism may reject them, but if he does not acquire ideas regarding what is super-sensible he will have but crippled powers wherewith to develop that which has remained unborn in his feeling and will.

Therefore it must frequently be stated that light is thrown on the past by clairvoyant consciousness. This is recognised at the present time in so far as it exists behind the veil of the sense-world as Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. In former times this consciousness was given to man as a religious belief, in order that he might not lose all uplifting power for the period after death and that he might have something in his soul — like a seed — that could carry on the life of the soul even when he had laid aside the physical body. The time has now come when mankind ought to acquire ideas about the super-sensible worlds through the understanding of Spiritual Science. For this reason it cannot be too often stated that the spiritual investigator alone can investigate these matters in the super-sensible world; but when they have been investigated and then imparted to us, there is something in our inmost soul which is a hidden language of the soul, which can grasp and understand the discoveries made by the spiritual investigator. It is only when the prejudices of the mind and senses hold sway that the super-sensible ideas furnished us by spiritual research are looked upon as nonsense, as foolishness and fantasy — ideas which, when accepted, endow the soul with an uplifting power which enables it to find its way in the cosmos through all the ages to come. It will always be the case that only those who have gone through an esoteric development will be able to investigate the contents of the spiritual world; but to know these contents, to work upon them inwardly in the consciousness, to hold them as ideas and conceptions, to possess the spiritual world as a certainty of the soul's existence is something that humanity will have need of more and more as its necessary spiritual food.

It is this which shows us how, from its very nature, the mission of our Anthroposophical Movement can be understood. In ancient times it still was the case that knowledge was animated from above and the capacity for receiving this knowledge came from below. Hence the ancients still possessed a direct consciousness of the spiritual worlds, but this consciousness gradually became dim and dark. Had this not come to pass, man would not have arrived at the full consciousness of the Ego, He can only attain to full consciousness of his Ego by developing to the highest degree in his physical body, the phantom-corpse of which I have spoken. Our physical body, as a transparent being, must be, as it were, entirely overlaid with ‘mirror-foil’ and only when it is completely overlaid, are we so conscious of ourselves that we can say: ‘I am an I’. But the complete overlaying has only been done slowly and gradually, for it has developed in the course of the evolution of humanity: it was completed in the age in which the Mystery of Golgotha took place.

The application of the ‘mirror-foil’ was then completed. Before that time the higher and the lower natures of man still met, what was below and what was above in a human being came together. One may say that through the covering of ‘mirror-foil’ being perfected, the higher and the lower were completely forced apart and this only came about when the event of Golgotha drew near.

What had then really taken place? Let us look more closely at what had taken place. Picture to yourselves the consciousness of these ancient people before the Mystery of Golgotha. From outside comes the life-giving force of Imaginations; from within arise pictures of the superhuman spiritual world. What are these pictures which thus arise in the human being? As we know, this was possible in ancient times, owing to the clouded condition of human consciousness. Those who knew these things, those who as Initiates were able to see the human soul and who saw it in this meeting of the life-giving Imagination from without and the vision from within, these did not say, ‘Man alone sees this’; but these ancient Initiates — the ancient Jewish Initiates, for example — said: ‘Jahveh or Jehovah looks upon His world in man. God thinks in man.’ Just as at the present time, in our cycle of evolution, when we have a thought, we may say ‘I think’, those who knew these things in ancient times said, when the pictures from the spirit-worlds appeared to them, ‘The Gods are thinking in us.’ Or as they recognised the unity of Divinity in Monotheism, they said, ‘Jehovah thinks in man; man is the stage whereon the play of divine thoughts is carried out.’ Men felt themselves inflamed by these thoughts; therefore they said, ‘In me the Gods think.’ But the necessity arose in human evolution that this should become more and more impossible and that darkness should spread more and more. The possibility of seeing visions, the thoughts of the Gods in man, ceased. The phantom-like corpse in man became more and more pronounced. The time drew near, when no more thoughts came forth from out human nature to meet the Gods. The Divine Being regarding whom it was said that He thought through man, felt His consciousness becoming dimmer and dimmer — for His consciousness consisted in His thoughts. And the longing arose within this Divine Being to awaken a new form of consciousness. When men acquire a different form of consciousness, they acquire something of the utmost importance. When the Gods create a new form of consciousness, they create with it something essential; something of the most profound moment occurs. The thing of profound importance that now came into being was the Christ. Christ the child of the Godhead, restored to man the power whereby he was conscious of God — restored the consciousness which the previously mentioned Divine Being had felt to be darkened. To accomplish this the Christ had to enter into and become a part of human nature. We must become fully aware of the fact, that in the act of perceiving the sense-world we receive continually into ourselves the content of death; that when we think about this world we are receiving obscuration and darkness into ourselves; and when we feel and will, something remains unborn in us. All these remain below in the depths of our consciousness, and with them there enters into us the content of something dead and something unborn which we can only first make use of after we are dead. But the power to do this would be crippled, if we could not let it sink into the Being whom the Godhead has brought to birth as the principle of a new consciousness, if we could not let it flow into the Christ-Being. When through spiritual science we really recognise the meaning of evolution, we become conscious of the following: — We realise that we send down into the subconscious depths of our being that which dies in us; but the death which we send down more and more into our own being is received by the Christ Who comes to meet us with life-giving power. Christ gives life to that which dies in us, which darkens in us, which remains unborn in us. We allow that to die in us, which must die in order that we may approach the true ideal of humanity with all the possibilities it contains; but the death-content which streams into us we pour into the Christ-Being, for He has pervaded human evolution since the founding of Christianity, and we also realise that what remains unborn in us, our feeling and will, is received by the Christ-substance into Whom it will sink after death. For within us dwells the Christ ever since He passed through the Mystery of Golgotha. Into Christ we let sink the death-content which is present with every perception; into Him we allow the darkening of our power of thought to sink. Into the light, into the spiritual sunlight of Christ we send our darkened thoughts, and when we pass through the portal of death, our unborn feeling sinks within the substance of Christ and so too does our unborn will. When we understand evolution aright we say to this evolution: In Christ we die —

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Re: The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebir

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:11 pm


Vienna, 12th April, 1914.

In my second public lecture here, I tried, as far as is possible in a public lecture, to describe in broad outline the life of man between death and rebirth. We shall go more deeply into this subject in the next two lectures, in order to gain a clearer understanding of our life here in the physical world. The preparation provided by the previous lectures was necessary before we could go further. This course of lectures will provide the means whereby we can enter more deeply into this subject than was possible in the public lectures.

I have often said that if a person wants to know and understand the spiritual worlds — and these are the worlds in which we live between death and rebirth — he must make certain conceptions and ideas his own, which cannot be gained from experience here on earth, but which, if once gained, will be of infinite importance to life on the physical plane; and this importance will increase more and more.

To begin with, let me now explain one difference between the experience in the spiritual world and the experience on the physical plane, which when heard for the first time must seem astonishing and strange, so that we might easily think that these things would be difficult of comprehension. But the deeper we go in Spiritual Science, the more we shall find that these things become ever more comprehensible. When we live on the physical plane and are affected by the experiences of the physical plane, one thing must, upon recollection strike us forcibly. That is, that on this physical plane we are confronted with what we call reality, existence, being. One might say that the more unspiritual a person is, the more does he rely upon what he has before him on the physical plane as the ‘reality’ that presses in upon him. But as regards what we wish to acquire on the physical plane as ‘knowledge,’ knowledge of this reality, the case is different. As children we have to be taught to develop the capacities for acquiring the knowledge of the physical plane and then we have to work further and further. The acquisition of knowledge demands mental work. Nature, that is to say external reality, does not of itself yield up the contents of its wisdom and its laws; we have to acquire this knowledge. Indeed, all human striving after knowledge consists in actively acquiring from passive experience, the wisdom and the law that Nature contains.

Now matters are quite different when either by the exercises which lead to spiritual investigation, or by passing through the portal of death, we enter into the spiritual world. The relation of man to the surrounding spiritual world is not, under all circumstances, what I am now about to describe; but it is so in important moments, during important experiences. In our life on the physical plane we are not always striving after knowledge, for sometimes we pause in this labour. So also, what I shall now describe is not continually necessary in the spiritual world, but it is requisite and necessary for us at certain times. The astonishing thing is that man has no lack of wisdom in the spiritual world. A person may be a fool in the sense-world, but simply through his entrance into the spiritual world wisdom streams towards him in its reality. Wisdom that we acquire with trouble in the physical world, that we have to work for day after day if we wish to possess it, is already ours in the spiritual world, just as surrounding nature is ours in the physical world. It is always there, and it is there in the greatest abundance. To a certain extent we may say that the less wisdom we have acquired on the physical plane, the more abundantly does this wisdom stream towards us on the spiritual plane. But, we have a special task, with respect to this wisdom on the spiritual plane.

In recent lectures I told you that on the spiritual plane the ideal of humanity stands before us, the content of the religion of the Gods, and that we have to strive towards it. We cannot do this, if we are incapable of so exercising our will — that is, our feeling-will, our willing-feeling — that we continually diminish this wisdom, continually take something away from the wisdom which for ever streams towards us and which there surrounds us as the phenomena of nature do here. We must have the power to deplete more and more the wisdom which there comes towards us. Here, on the physical plane we have to become wiser and wiser; there we have to endeavour so to exercise our will and our feeling that we diminish and darken the surrounding wisdom. For the less we are able to take from it, the less strength do we find within us whereby to fill ourselves with the necessary forces to approach the ideal of humanity as real being. This approach has to consist in our taking more and more away from the surrounding wisdom. What we thus take away we are able to transform within us so that the transformed wisdom becomes the life-force which drives us towards the ideal of humanity,. This life-force we have to acquire during the period between death and rebirth. It is only by changing into life-force, the wisdom which flows into us so abundantly, that we can approach a fresh incarnation in the correct way. When we return to earth, we must have changed so much wisdom into life-force, we must have diminished the wisdom by so much, that we have sufficient organising spiritual life-forces to permeate the substance we receive through heredity from father and mother. Thus we have to lose wisdom more and more.

When we find a thorough materialist again after his death, one who on the physical plane did not recognise any reality in spirit, who said during his life, ‘All that you say about spirit is nonsense; your wisdom is nothing but fantasy; I will have nothing to do with it. I admit nothing but what is to be found in external nature’ — in the case of such a person, when met with after his death, one sees wisdom stream towards him so abundantly that he cannot escape it. From all sides spirit streams towards him. To the same extent that he did not believe in spirit here, he is overflooded by it there. His task is now to change this wisdom into life-forces, so that he may produce a physical reality in his next incarnation. He is to produce what he called reality from this wisdom, he is to diminish this wisdom; but it will not permit itself to be diminished by him, it remains as it is. He is unable to form reality out of it. This dreadful punishment of the spirit confronts him, namely, that whereas in his last life here on the physical plane he relied only upon reality, whereas he entirely denied spirit, he is now unable to save himself, as it were, from spirit and he is unable to produce anything real out of this spirit. He is always faced with the danger of not being able to come again into the physical world through forces which he himself produces. He lives continually in the fear — ‘Spirit will push me into the physical world and I shall then have a physical existence which denies everything that I recognised as true in my previous life. I shall have to allow myself to be thrust by spirit into physical reality, I shall not have produced reality by myself.’ That is a most astonishing thing, but it is a fact. To be a great materialist and deny spirit before death is the way to be drowned, as it were, in spirit after death and to find in it nothing of the only reality one had formerly believed in, A man is then choked or drowned in spirit.

These are ideas which we have to acquire more and more in the course of our. study of spiritual science; for if we do acquire them they lead us onward harmoniously even in physical life and they show us, to a certain extent, how the two sides of life have to supplement and balance each other. We form the instinctive desire really to introduce this balance into our life.

I might give you another example of the connection between physical and spiritual life. Let us take a concrete, individual example. Suppose we have told a lie to someone on the physical plane — I am speaking of actual cases. When we tell a lie to someone, it happens at a certain point of time and what I shall now describe as the corresponding event in the spiritual world also takes place at a certain point of time between death and rebirth. Let us suppose we have told a lie to someone at some particular time on the physical plane; then, during our sojourn in the spiritual world, be it through initiation or through death, there comes a certain time when our soul in the spiritual world is entirely filled with the truth we ought to have expressed. This truth torments us; it stands before us and torments us to the same degree in which we deviated from it when we told the lie. Thus one need only tell a lie on the physical plane in order to bring about a time in the spiritual world when we are tormented by the corresponding truth, the opposite of the lie. There the truth torments us because it lives in us and burns us, and we cannot bear it. Our suffering consists in our seeing the truth before us. But we are in such a condition that this truth gives us no satisfaction, no joy, no pleasure; it torments us. One of the peculiarities of our experience in the spiritual world is that we are tormented by what is good, by the things which we know ought to uplift us.

Take another example. In our life in the physical world we may be lazy in doing something which it is our duty to do industriously; then comes a time in the spiritual world when we are filled with the industry we lacked in the physical world. Industry most surely comes; it is alive in us when we have been lazy in the physical plane. The time comes when from inner necessity, we have to exercise this industry unconditionally. We devote ourselves to it entirely and we know that it is something which is extremely valuable; but it torments us, it makes us suffer.

Let us take another case which is perhaps less under the control of human volition, but depends upon other processes of life which go on more in the background of existence and are connected with the course of our karma; let us take the case in which we have passed through an illness. When in physical life we have had an illness which has caused us pain, we experience at a certain point of time in the spiritual world the opposite feeling, the opposite condition, namely, that of health. And this feeling of health strengthens us during our sojourn in the spiritual world to the same degree that the illness weakened us. This is an instance which perhaps may not only shock our intellect, like the other things we have mentioned, but it may enter much more deeply into the emotional aspect of our soul and irritate it. We know that the things of Spiritual Science must always be grasped through our feelings; but in this case we must remember the following. We must clearly understand that something like a shadow lies over this connection between physical illness and the corresponding health and strength we have in the spiritual world. The connection exists, but there is something in the human breast which prevents the feelings from rightly coming to terms with this connection. We must indeed admit this connection has another result when we really understand it, and this result may be described as follows: —

Let us suppose that a person takes up Spiritual Science and devotes himself seriously to it — not in the way in which other sciences are taken up. These may be studied theoretically; one may receive what they give merely as thoughts and ideas. Spiritual Science ought never to be taken up in this manner. It ought to become a spiritual life-blood within us. Spiritual Science ought to live and work in us; it ought also to awaken feelings through the ideas it gives us. To one who really hearkens to Spiritual Science in the right way there is nothing it has to give which does not either, on the one hand, uplift us, or on the other, allow us to see into the abuses of existence in order that we may there find our way aright. The student who understands Spiritual Science correctly always follows what it says with the appropriate feelings. Spiritual Science when accepted will transform his soul, even while in the physical world, simply through the ideas that live in him and through his acquiring the habits of thought and feeling which we have just mentioned as being necessary. I have often said that the earnest study of Spiritual Science is one of the best and most deeply-penetrating of all exercises.

Something remarkable gradually appears in one who takes up Spiritual Science. A person who performs exercises — possibly he does not do it in order to become a spiritual investigator himself, but only tries earnestly to understand Spiritual Science — such a person may perhaps not be able for a very long time to think of seeing clairvoyantly for himself. He will be able to do it sometime; though this may perhaps be a far-off ideal. But if he really allows Spiritual Science to act upon his soul in the manner we have indicated, he will find that the instincts of life, the more unconscious impulses of life change. His soul really becomes different. No one can take up Spiritual Science without it influencing the instinctive life of the soul. It makes the soul different, it gives it different sympathies and antipathies, it fills it with a sort of light, so that it feels more certain than it did formerly. This may be noticed in every realm of life; in every realm of life Spiritual Science expresses itself in this way. For example, a person may be unskilled; but if he takes up Spiritual Science he will see that without doing anything else than filling himself with Spiritual Science, he will become more apt and capable, even to the manner in which he uses his hands. Do not say: ‘I know some very unskilled people who follow Spiritual Science; and they are still very unskilled!’ Try to reflect to what extent these have not yet really permeated themselves inwardly with Spiritual Science according to the necessities of karma. A person may be a painter and exercise the art of painting to a certain degree; if he takes up Spiritual Science he will find that what we have just mentioned will flow instinctively into the actions he performs. He will mix his colours more easily; the ideas he wants will come more quickly. Or suppose he is a teacher, and wishes to take up some science. Many who are in this position will know how much trouble it often costs to gather together the literature required to clear up some question or other. If he takes up Spiritual Science, he will not go as before to a library and take down fifty books that are of no use, but he will immediately lay his hands on the right one. Spiritual Science really enters into one's life; it makes the instincts different; it gives us the impulse to do the right thing.

Of course what I shall now say must always be thought of in conjunction with human karma. It must always be kept in mind that man is subject to the law of karma under all circumstances. But taking into consideration the law of karma, the following is still the case. Let us suppose that a certain kind of illness attacks someone who has taken up Spiritual Science in the way described and it is in his karma that he may be cured. Naturally, it may be in his karma that the disease cannot be cured; but, when considering an illness, karma never under any circumstance says that it must run a certain course in a fatalistic sense, it can be cured or it cannot be cured. Now, anyone who has earnestly taken up Spiritual Science acquires an instinctive feeling which helps him to oppose the illness and its weakening effect with the proper remedy. That which in the ordinary way is experienced as the result of the illness in the spiritual world works back into the soul, and, in so far as one is still in the physical body, it acts as instinct. One either succumbs to the illness or finds within oneself the way to the forces of healing. When the clairvoyant consciousness finds the right remedy for an illness, it happens in the following way: such a clairvoyant is able to call up before him the picture of the illness. Let us suppose that he has the picture before him of the illness which approaches a person in such or such a way and has a weakening effect on him. Owing to his clairvoyant consciousness there appears to him the counterpart of the illness, namely, the corresponding feeling of health, and the strengthening which springs from this feeling. That which can now happen to man in the spiritual world as the corresponding cure for that from which he is suffering in the physical world, is perceived by the clairvoyant. Through this the clairvoyant is enabled to advise the man for his good. Indeed, one need not even be a fully developed clairvoyant, but this may appear to one instinctively from seeing the picture of the illness. But the cause of that which to clairvoyant consciousness appears as compensation in the spiritual world, belongs to the picture of the illness as much as the swing of a pendulum to one side belongs to the swing to the other side.

From this example you will see how the physical plane is related to the spiritual world and how fruitful for the guidance of our life here the knowledge of the spiritual world may be.

Let us go back once more to the first concrete fact we mentioned, namely: that just as nature surrounds us on the physical plane, so what is spiritual, wisdom-filled spirit, surrounds us in the spiritual world and is always there. Now, if you understand this thoroughly, an extremely important light is cast on what takes place in the spiritual world. In the physical world we may pass by objects and observe them in such a way that we may ask: What is the principle or nature of this object? What is the law of this Being, or this process? Or, on the other hand, we may pass stupidly by and ask nothing at all. We shall never learn anything intelligently on the physical plane if we are not impelled, as it were, by the object itself to ask questions, if these objects do not present problems which we recognise as such. By merely looking at objects and processes, we should never on the physical plane arrive at being a soul that guides itself. On the spiritual plane this is different. On the physical plane we put our questions to objects and processes, and we have to make efforts to investigate them in order to find the answer to our questions from the things themselves. On the spiritual plane things and Beings surround us spiritually and they question us, not we them. They are there and we stand before them and are continually being questioned by them. We must now have the power to draw from the infinite ocean of wisdom the answer to these questions. We have not to seek the answers in the objects and processes, but in ourselves; for the objects question us; all around us are objects questioning us.

At this point the following comes under consideration. Let us suppose that we confront some process or some Being in the spiritual world; inevitably it asks us a question. We cannot approach it without its doing so. We stand there with our wisdom, but we are unable to develop sufficient will, sufficient feeling-will, or willing-feeling to give the answer from out this wisdom, although we know that the answer is within us. Our inner being is infinitely deep; all answers are within us — but we are unable really to give the answer. The consequence of this is that we rush past on the stream of time and fail to give the answer at the proper time, because we have not gained the capacity — perhaps through our previous evolution — we have not become mature enough to answer the question when the time comes for it to be answered. We have developed too slowly with respect to what we ought to answer; we can only give the answer later. But the opportunity does not recur; we have missed it. We have not made use of all our opportunities. Thus we pass by objects and events without answering them. We have experiences such as this continually in the spiritual world. Thus it may come about, that in our life between death and rebirth we stand before a Being which questions us. We have not developed ourselves sufficiently in our earthly life and the intervening spiritual life, to give the answer when we are asked. We have to pass on; we have to enter into our next incarnation. The consequence of this is that we must receive the impulse once more, in our next incarnation, through the good Gods, without being conscious of it, so that we shall not pass by the next time when the same question is asked. This is how things come to pass.

I have often mentioned that the further we go back in human evolution the more do we find that humanity did not then possess our present mentality, but had a kind of clairvoyance on the physical plane. Our present mental outlook developed from a dull, dreamy clairvoyance. The more primitive and elementary the stages of mental development of some races still are, the closer connection we find in their thought and feeling to this original clairvoyance. Although the primitive atavistic clairvoyance is becoming less and less frequent, we still find in unexplored regions of the earth people who have preserved something from former times, so that we still find echoes of the ancient days of clairvoyance. This clairvoyance reveals — although in a dim, dreamy form, because it is a seeing into the spiritual world — it reveals peculiarities which reappear in the developed clairvoyance; only in the latter case it is not dim and dreamy, but clear and distinct. Spiritual Science shows us that when a man of the present time goes through life between death and rebirth, he has progressively to answer the questioning Beings more and more at the proper time; for on his power to answer depends his true development, and his approach to the ideal of the Gods — the perfect man. As we have already said, in former times people had this experience in the domain of dreams and we have the remains of it in a great number of fairy-tales and sagas. These are gradually disappearing, but they run somewhat as follows. A certain person meets a spiritual Being. This Being repeatedly questions him and he has to answer. And he knows that he must give the answer by a certain time, when the clock strikes, or something of that sort. This ‘question motif’ in fairy-tales and sagas is very widespread and is a form of dreamlike clairvoyant consciousness which now reappears in the spiritual world, in the way have described. On the whole, the description of what takes place in the spiritual world provides in all cases a valuable clue to the understanding of myths, sagas, fairy-tales, etc., and enables us to place them where they belong. This is a point which shows that everywhere, even in the mental culture of the present day, evolution is standing, as it were, at the door of Spiritual Science.

It is very interesting, that a book such as the one by my friend Ludwig Laistner, The Riddle of the Sphinx, which in many respects is a good and well-intentioned book, is unsatisfactory, because in order to be satisfactory, the ‘question motif’, with which Ludwig Laistner specially deals, would have had to be treated from the basis of occult knowledge; the author would have had to know something about the truths of occult science which enter here.

Bearing these examples in mind, we see that the conditions in the spiritual world depend upon something quite definite. In the spiritual world it is not a case of gathering knowledge as we do here; it is even a case of diminished knowledge and changing the force of knowledge into life-force. One cannot be an investigator in the spiritual world in the same sense as one can in the physical world; that would be an absurdity, for there a person is able to know everything, it is all round about him. The question is whether he is able to develop his will and his feeling, in contradistinction to his knowledge, whether in individual cases he is able to bring forth from the treasure of his will sufficient power to make use of his wisdom; otherwise he is stifled by or drowned in it. Whereas in the physical world wisdom depends on thinking, in the spiritual world it depends upon the adequate development of the will, the feeling-will, the will which brings forth reality out of wisdom, which becomes a kind of creative power. There we have Spirit as here we have Nature, and our task is to lead Spirit to Nature. A beautiful statement is contained in the theosophical literature of the first half of the nineteenth century, a statement made by Oetinger, who lived at Murrhardt, in Wurtemburg, and who was so far advanced in his own spiritual development that at certain times he was able quite consciously to help spiritual beings, that is, souls who were not on the physical plane. He made the remarkable statement which is very beautiful and very true: ‘Nature and the form of nature is the aim of spiritual creative power.’ What I have just brought down to you from the spiritual world is contained in this sentence. In the spiritual world creative power strives to give reality to that which at first heaves and surges in wisdom. Here, we bring forth wisdom from the physical reality; there we do the reverse. Our task there is to produce realities from wisdom, to carry out in living realities the wisdom we find there. The goal of the Gods is reality in form.

Thus we see that it depends upon will permeated with feeling, or feeling-filled-will being changed into creative force; this we must employ in the spiritual world in the same way as here in the physical world we have to employ great mental efforts in order to arrive at wisdom.

Now, in order that this should be possible, it is very important that we should develop our feeling and thinking in the right way, that we should prepare ourselves here on the physical plane in a manner which is right for the present cycle of evolution; for all that takes place in the spiritual world between death and rebirth is the result of what takes place in the physical world between birth and death. It is indeed true, that conditions are so different in the spiritual world that we have to acquire entirely fresh conceptions and ideas if we wish to understand them, but all the same the two are connected like cause and effect. We only understand the connection between what is spiritual and what is physical, when we recognise it really as the connection of cause and effect. We have to prepare ourselves while in the physical world and we might therefore now consider the question: How, at the present age, can we prepare ourselves in the right way, so that — whether we enter the spiritual world through initiation or through death — we shall really possess the spiritual power necessary to draw what we have need of from the wisdom that is there — so that we may bring forth realities from this surging flowing wisdom. Whence comes such power? It is important that these questions should be answered in a manner adapted to our present age. In the age when mankind thought in such a way, that the origin of what I have called the ‘Saga motiv’ resulted, the case was different; but from whence comes this soul-force in the present age?

In order that we arrive at the answer to this, may I bring forward the following?

We can study the various philosophies and inquire as to how philosophers arrive at the idea of God — there are, of course, philosophers who have sufficient spiritual depth to be convinced from the existence of the world that we may speak of a Divine Being who pervades it. In the nineteenth century we need only take Lotze, who tried to produce in his religious philosophy something that was in harmony with the rest of his philosophy. Others too were sufficiently profound to have with all their philosophy a sort of religious philosophy also. We find one peculiarity in all these philosophers, a very definite peculiarity. They think to reach Divinity with ideas gathered from the physical plane; they reflect, they investigate in a philosophical manner, and come to the conclusion — as is the case with Lotze — that the phenomena and beings of the world are held together by a divine First Cause which pervades all and brings all into a certain harmony. But when we go more minutely into the ideas of these religious philosophers, we find that they always have one peculiarity. They arrive at a Divine Being who pervades all; and when we consider this Divine Being more closely, this God of the philosophers, we find that it is approximately the God called in the Hebrew, or rather, the Christian religion ‘God the Father’. Thus far do the philosophers go; they observe Nature and are profound enough not to deny everything Divine in an empty-headed, materialistic way; they can arrive at Divinity, but it is God the Father.

One can demonstrate most exactly, after studying these philosophers, that mere philosophy, as thinking philosophy, can lead nowhere but to a monotheistic Father-God.

If in the case of individual philosophers, such as Hegel and others, Christ is mentioned; it does not spring from philosophy — this can be proved — it comes from positive religion. These people have known that positive religion possesses the Christ and therefore they can speak of Him. The difference is, that the Father-God can be found through philosophy, but Christ cannot be found by any philosophy, by any method of thought. That is quite impossible.

That is a statement which I suggest you should weigh well and consider; if rightly understood it leads us far into the most important probings and strivings of the human soul. It is connected with something which is expressed in the Christian religion in a very beautiful, symbolic and pictorial manner; namely, that the relation of this other God, Christ, to the Father-God is understood as the relation of the Son to the Father. That is a very significant fact, although it is only a symbol. It is interesting to notice that Lotze, for example, cannot make anything out of it. ‘One cannot take this symbol literally, that is obvious,’ says Lotze. He means that one God cannot be the son of another. But there is something very striking in this symbol. Between father and son the relationship is something like that between cause and effect; for in a certain way one may see the father is the cause of the son. The son would not exist if the father were not there — like cause and effect. But we must take into account one peculiar thing, namely, that a man who eventually may have a son, may also have the possibility of not having a son, he may be childless. He would still be the same man. The cause is the man A, the effect is the man B, the son; but the effect need not come about, the effect is a free act, and follows as a free act from the cause. For this reason, when we study a cause considering it in connection with its effect, we must not merely inquire into the nature of the cause, for by this we have done nothing at all; but we must inquire whether the cause also really causes; that is the important question. Now a characteristic of all philosophy is that it follows a line of thought, it develops one thought out of another; it seeks for what follows in that which has gone before. Philosophers are justified in doing this; but in this way we never arrive at the connection which comes about when we call to mind the fact that the cause need not cause at all. The cause remains the same in its own nature whether it causes or not. That changes nothing in the nature of the cause. And this important fact is presented to us in the symbol of God the Father and God the Son: this important fact, that the Christ is added to the Father-God, as a free creation, as a creation which does not follow in due course, but which emerges as a free act alongside the previous creation and which also had the possibility not to be; the Christ is therefore not given to the world because the Father had to give the Son to the world, but the Son is given to the world as a free act, through grace, through freedom, through love, which when it creates, gives freely. For this reason we can never arrive at God the Son, the Christ, through the same kind of truth by which the philosophers arrive at God the Father. In order to arrive at Christ it is necessary to add the truth of faith to the philosophical truth, or — as the age of faith is declining more and more — to add the other truth which is obtained through clairvoyant investigation, which likewise only develops in the human soul as a free act.

Thus from the ordered processes of nature it may be demonstrated that there is a God; but it can never be proved by external means from the chain of causes and effects that there is a Christ. Christ exists and can pass by human souls if they do not feel in themselves the power to say: That is Christ! An active up-rousing of the impulse for truth is required in order to recognise Christ in that which was there as Christ. We can arrive at the other truths which lie in the realm of the Father-God, if we merely devote ourselves to thought and follow it consecutively; for to be a materialist means at the same time to be illogical. Religious philosophy according to Lotze, and religious philosophy in general, has its origin in the fact that through thought we can rise to this Divinity of religious philosophy. But never can we be led to recognise Christ merely through philosophy; this must be our own free act. In this case only two things are possible; we either follow faith to its ultimate conclusions, or we make a beginning with the investigation of the spiritual world, Spiritual Science. We follow faith to its ultimate conclusion when we say with the Russian philosopher Solovioff: ‘With regard to all the philosophical truths man gains about the world, to which his logic forces him, he does not stand related as to a free truth. The higher truth is that to which we are not forced, which is our free act, the highest truth won by faith.’ Solovioff reaches his highest point when he says: ‘The higher truth, that which recognises Christ, is the truth which works as a free act, which is not forced.’ To the spiritual investigator and to those who understand Spiritual Science, knowledge comes; but this is an active knowledge which rises from thought to Meditation, Inspiration and Intuition, which becomes inwardly creative, which, when creative, participates in spiritual worlds and thereby becomes similar to what we have to develop when we enter into the spiritual world, whether we do so through initiation or through death.

The wisdom which we acquire with such difficulty on earth, surrounds us in all its fullness and wealth in the spiritual world — just as nature surrounds us here on the physical plane.

The important thing in the spiritual world is that we should have the impulse, the power, to make something out of this wisdom, to produce from it reality. To create freely through wisdom, to bring about something spiritual as fact, must become a living impulse in us. This impulse can only be ours if we find the right relationship to Christ. Christ is not a Being who can be proved by external brain-bound logic, but who proves Himself, who realises Himself in us as we acquire spiritual knowledge. Just as Spiritual Science joins up with other science as a free act, so knowledge about Christ is added to us as soon as we approach the world into which we enter through spiritual investigation, or through death. If in our present age we seek to enter the spiritual world aright, that is to say, if we wish to die to the physical world, our attitude to the world must be that attitude which is only gained when we relate ourselves to Christ in the right way. Through the observation of nature we can attain to a God who is like ‘God the Father’ of the Christian religion, Him we find through the observation of what is around us when we live in the physical body; but to understand Christ aright, apart from tradition and revelation, from pure knowledge alone, is only possible through Spiritual Science. It leads into the realm which man enters by dying — whether it be that dying which is a symbolical dying, the going forth from the physical body in order to know oneself in the soul outside the body, or the other dying, the passing through the portal of death. We provide ourselves with the right impulses to pass through the portal of death, when we find the true relationship to Christ. The moment when death takes place, whether it comes about through Spiritual Science or whether we actually go through the portal of death, the moment it comes to dying, to leaving the physical body, the important thing in the present cycle of time is that we should confront in the right way the Being Who has come into the world, in order that we may find connection with Him. God the Father we can find during life; we find the Christ when we understand the entering into the Spirit, when we understand dying in the right way. In Christ we die —

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Re: The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebir

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:11 pm


Vienna, 13th April, 1914.

I have now to speak once more of the events between death and rebirth, making use of the ideas we have acquired in the previous lectures. As we can only deal briefly with this wide subject, a great deal can be but indicated and much else which perhaps does not follow from this pictorial presentation will have to be worked out later; but that which at present you may find incomplete will be made clear in the further course of our studies in Spiritual Science.

When a person passes the portal of death, he lays aside his physical body. This is consigned to the elements of the earth. In other words we may say of the physical body, that it has withdrawn from the forces and laws proceeding from the true man which permeate it between birth and death and which are different from the mere chemical and physical laws to which, as physical body, it succumbs after death. From the standpoint of the physical plane, a person has naturally the idea that he has left on the physical plane that part of his being which belongs to that plane. What belongs to the physical plane is consigned to the physical plane. For the comprehension of man himself and also for any comprehension of the spiritual world, we have naturally to consider the point of view taken by the dead person when he has passed through the portal of death. To him the leaving of the physical body means an inner process, a soul-process. To those who are left behind, what happens to the physical body after death is an external process, and the inner being of the person who has died, his human soul nature, can no longer express itself in the mortal residue; but to the man himself who has passed through the portal of death, something is connected with this leaving of the body. To him it means an inner experience of the soul; he feels: Thou hast come forth out of thy physical body and art leaving it behind.

From the standpoint of the physical plane, it is extremely difficult to give an accurate description of what here takes place within the soul; for it is an inner process of far reaching importance and immense significance. It is an inner process which lasts but a brief space of time, but it is of universal importance to the whole of human life. Now if the ideas connected with what then takes place in the soul were to be described — these ideas which of course cannot be touched upon at present in a public lecture because they would astonish the public too much, though perhaps the time will also come for this — if we were to describe the external process of ideas (now of course the spiritually external) with which the path of life running between death and rebirth commences, we might say that the person who has passed the portal of death has the feeling: Thou art now in an entirely different relationship to the world from that in which thou wast before; thy former relationship to the world is radically reversed. If we wished to describe the ideas which are then experienced in the soul, we should have to say that up to his death a person has lived on the earth. During this time he has been accustomed to stand on the solid, material earth, to see there the beings belonging to the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, to see the mountains, rivers, clouds, stars, sun and moon; and from his own standpoint and through the powers of his physical body he has become accustomed to conceive of all this as we do to-day. This he does although at the present day we know from the teaching of Copernicus that fundamentally what we see is an illusion. There above us is the blue vault of the heavens, like a bowl, there are the stars, over it pass the sun and moon. Man is within this bowl as it were, he is within this hollow globe, in the centre, on the earth, together with all that the earth reveals to his powers of perception.

We are not at present concerned with the fact that it is an illusion when through the limitation of our capacities, we picture to ourselves this blue circumference, but with the fact that we cannot do otherwise than see it; we see a blue globe as a firmament above us. Now when a person has passed the portal of death, the first idea he has to form in his soul is: ‘Thou art now outside, but as though sunk into a single star.’ At first he is unconscious of the starry world in which he is really outspread, at first he is only aware of what he has left, he is only aware that he has left the sphere of consciousness he possessed in the physical body, he has left all that he was able to see by means of the human capacities developed in his physical body. Something has really happened — but spiritually — similar to what would happen if a chick, which at first is within the egg-shell, were consciously to experience how it breaks through this and afterwards sees the broken egg-shell — the world which had previously surrounded it — from outside, instead of from inside. Naturally this idea, which passes through the human soul at this point is Maya; but it is a necessary Maya or illusion. As we have already said, that which previously gave our consciousness its content has shrunk together as if into a single star, only that from this star radiates what we might call ‘radiating cosmic wisdom.’

This radiating cosmic wisdom is what I dealt with in the last lecture and regarding which I said that we possess it in its fullness. It shines and glitters at first as if from a fiery star. It is now not blue, like the firmament, but fiery, shining, reddish — like a fiery star. And from it streams forth into space the plenitude of wisdom, which in inward motion first presents to us what might be called a memory-tableau of our last earthly life. All the events we have consciously experienced in our soul between birth and death now come before our soul, but in such a manner that we know: There thou seest all, because the star shining before thee is the background which, through its inner activity, is the cause of thy being able to see what is outspread before thee, as a memory tableau. That is expressed more from the standpoint of the imagination. From the standpoint of inwardness the experience is somewhat as follows: The one who has passed the portal of death is entirely filled with the thought: Thou hast left thy body; now in the spiritual world this body is nothing but will. Thy body is a star of will, a star whose substance is will; and this will glows with warmth, and into the expanses of the world into which thou hast now poured thyself, it rays back to thee thy own life between birth and death as a great tableau. To the circumstance of thy sojourn within this star thou owest the privilege that thou art able to draw and absorb from the world what thou hast drawn and absorbed from it while on the physical plane: for this star, this will-star, which now forms the background is the spiritual part of thy physical body, this will-star is the spirit which permeates and strengthens thy physical body. That which streams to thee as wisdom is the activity, the mobility of thy etheric body.

This period passes. The period during which we have the impression that our life is running its course like a memory-tableau really only lasts for some days. Our thoughts, which became our memories during life on earth, unfold once more before our souls in this memory-tableau. We can maintain this tableau as long as we have the power under normal conditions to keep awake in the physical body. It does not depend upon how long we once remained awake in life under abnormal conditions, it depends upon the power we have within us to keep ourselves awake. In one case it may be that a person can scarcely keep awake one night without tiredness overcoming him, in another case it may be that he can hold out longer without becoming tired; but the length of time he needs to finish with this memory-tableau depends upon the degree of this power. We also have the distinct inner consciousness that because this will-star is in the background, there is contained within the memory-tableau what we have gained in our last earthly life, there is contained in it that by which we have become more mature, what we have carried beyond death as a plus quantity as compared with what we had as a minus quantity when at birth we entered into earthly life. This, which we may describe as the fruit of the last life, we feel in such a way as if it would not remain as it appeared during the memory-tableau, but as if it withdrew, as if it went away into the future and disappeared in those future ages.

In this lecture I shall speak principally of the condition in the life between death and rebirth of those who have reached the normal length of life and have died under normal conditions. Exceptional cases will be dealt with in the next lecture.

Thus the fruit of our life, if we have gained such fruit, withdraws to a distance and we know within our soul: — This fruit exists somewhere, but we have been left behind by it. We have the consciousness that we have remained at an earlier period of time, the fruit of our life hurries forward, it arrives before us at a later period of time and we have to follow after it. We must grasp correctly what I have just said, this idea of the inward experience of the fruit of our life being in the universe; because it is this inward experience which forms the basis of our consciousness, the beginning of our consciousness after death.

Our consciousness must always be aroused by something. When we awake in the morning our consciousness is enkindled anew through our entering into the physical body and thereby confronting outer objects, through something affecting us from outside, while during sleep we are unconscious. In the state immediately after death, this consciousness is enkindled by our inward feeling and experience of the fruits of our last life, experience of what we have gained. These fruits exist, but outside us. Our consciousness is first enkindled after death through this feeling and experience of our inmost earthly nature being outside us. By this our consciousness is quickened. Then begins the period during which it is necessary for us to develop soul-forces which had really to remain undeveloped during our life on the physical plane, because they were used to organise the physical body and all appertaining to it — soul-forces which during physical life have to be changed into something else. These forces have to awaken gradually after death. Even in the days during which we experienced the memory-tableau we notice this awakening of soul-capacities. This happens when the memory-tableau gradually fades away and grows dim, because it is during these days that we actually develop the forces lying at the foundation of the faculty of remembrance, but not acting consciously during physical life. The reason these forces do not act consciously during physical life is because during this physical life we have to transform them in order to be able to form memories. The last great memory which we have after death in the form of the tableau must first fade away, must gradually grow dim. Then out of the darkness develops that which we could not consciously possess before death; for if we had had it consciously before death we could never have formed the forces of memory. The forces which now develop in the soul during the fading of the remembrance of the tableau of life were, during life, transformed into the power by which we remember: they now emerge, because the power to remember earthly thoughts in the ordinary way is overcome and this spiritually transformed memory-force is awakened within us as the first spiritual soul-force which comes forth from the human soul after death, just as the soul-forces come forth in a growing child in the first weeks of its life. As this soul-force grows it is revealed to us that behind our thoughts, which while we were on the physical plane were but shadows, something lives; there is life and movement in the world of thought. We become aware that the thought pictures in our physical body were but a shadow and that in them there really lives and expands a vast number of elemental beings. Our memories grow dim and in their place we see emerge a vast number of elemental beings out of the universal cosmos of wisdom.

You might ask, ‘Is it not a great loss when after death the power of memory is overcome and we have something else in its place?’ We do not miss it, because we then have a very good substitute for it. Instead of remembering our thoughts as we do in life, we notice after death that these thoughts, which we had in life as memory-thoughts, only seem to be memories. This treasure of memory which is ours during life becomes something much more than merely a treasure of memory. When we are out of our physical body, we see all this treasure of memory as a living presence; it exists. Every thought is alive, is a living being. Now we know: During physical life thou didst think, thy thoughts appeared to thee; but while thou wast under the delusion that thou wast forming thoughts, thou wast producing nothing but elemental beings. That is the new thing thou hast added to the whole cosmos. Something new exists, to which thou gavest birth in the spirit; that which thy thoughts really were now stands before thee. We now first learn by direct vision what elemental beings are, because this is the first time we come to know the elemental beings we have ourselves produced. This memory-tableau is the very important impression we receive in the first period after death; but this begins to live, really to live, and as it begins to live we perceive it as nothing but elemental beings. It now shows its true face, as it were and its disappearance merely signifies its change into something different. If, for example, we died at the age of sixty or eighty, we do not need the power of memory to remember a thought we had, say, at the age of twenty, because it is there as a living elemental being, it has waited and we do not need to remember it; then if we died, for example, at the age of forty the thought would only be twenty years old and we should see it clearly. These elemental beings themselves tell us how long it is since they were formed. Time becomes space: it stands before us, because the living beings reveal their own time-signature. Under these conditions time becomes the immediate present.

From these, our own elemental beings, which surrounded us during life and which we see at death, we learn the nature of the elemental world and thereby prepare ourselves gradually to understand the elemental beings in the outer world not produced by us, but existing apart from us in the spiritual cosmos. Through our own elemental creations we learn to know the others. Think how very different this life between death and rebirth really is from our earthly life. The main thing is that after physical birth we are not aware of ourselves. What we experience as a baby, those around us experience with us; we are born, and others, our parents, look upon this which has been born. Neither are we aware of ourselves at first after death, but we see as an outer world that to which we have given birth. We ourselves look upon that which is outside, that to which we have given birth at the moment of death. When at our physical birth we enter into existence, we have an incomprehensible world before us, and to those around us we are indeed a being who only sprawls and cries and laughs; but after death, after our birth into the spiritual world — which to the physical world is death — we enter at once into an environment to which we ourselves have given birth, which we have ourselves organised, for we have ourselves given birth to it. There, we have given birth to a world, whereas, when we are born physically, this world gives birth to us. Such are the conditions with respect to thought and also to that which springs from thought as our store of memory.

It is different as regards what belongs to our feeling and our will. In the first lecture I mentioned that all that belongs to the spheres of our feeling and our will is not yet born in us, that in a certain respect will and feeling are something which is not fully born. This can be seen clearly after death; for will and feeling, as they pervade the physical body, still exist after death. So that after a time, after the will-star has withdrawn with the fruits of our last earthly life, we live in an elemental world which forms our environment to which we ourselves give the fundamental tone through our transformed memories. We live in such a manner in this world, which really is ourselves, in the sense I have just explained, that we know: Thy feeling and thy will are still in thee. They have still a sort of remembrance, a sort of connection with thy last earthly life. This condition lasts for decades. When we are in earthly life between birth and death, we enjoy and suffer, we live in our passions and we develop impulses of the will through having the feeling and willing soul in our body; but it is never the case that all the forces contained in feeling and will are really able to find an outlet through the body. Even though we may die in very old age, we still could have enjoyed more, suffered more, we still could have developed more impulses of the will. All the possibilities of feeling and will that yet remain in the soul must, however, be overcome. As long as these are not fully overcome we still have a connection of desire with our last earthly life. We look back, as it were, at this last earthly life. It is, as I have often expressed by a trivial word, a sort of weaning from the connection with the physical earthly life. Anyone who is but to a slight degree a true spiritual investigator soon penetrates into the nature of the force which we have now to overcome, and this overcoming takes decades to accomplish: but it is revealed comparatively easily to spiritual investigation.

Each day when we fall asleep and when we experience the interval between sleeping and waking, we are in our soul and spiritual nature outside our body. We return, because in our soul and spirit nature we have the impulse to return, because we really have a desire for our body. We absolutely long for our body. And one who can consciously experience awaking, knows: you want to awaken and you must will to waken. In the spirit and soul-nature there is indeed a force of attraction to the body. This must gradually decline, it must be entirely overcome and this takes decades to accomplish. This is the period in which we gradually overcome our connection with our last earthly life and this is why, in the period which is occupied in the manner I have just described, we really have to experience in a reversed direction everything that took place in our earthly life.

Now that the previous lectures have been given, I am in a position to describe various conditions more minutely than before, when only a general outline could be given; for before this could be done, it was necessary that certain ideas should first be brought forward.

Let us suppose that we have passed the portal of death and that we have left someone behind on the earth. We are now in the period when we have gained the power of beholding elemental beings and of having the inward feeling that the fruits of our earthly life have withdrawn; but that we are still connected with this last earthly life. Let us suppose, that when we have passed the portal of death we have left behind one whom we have loved very much. Now, when after death we have become accustomed to our elemental creations, we gradually attain to seeing the elemental beings of others; it is possible for us now to see the thoughts of others as elemental beings. We see the thoughts that live in the soul of the person we have left behind, for they are expressed in living elementals which appear before our soul as mighty Imaginations. In this way we can now have a much more intimate connection with the inner life of this person than we had with him in the physical world; for while we ourselves were in the physical body we could not indeed see the thoughts of the other, whereas now we can. But we have need of the feeling-memory — please note the word — the feeling-memory, the connection of feeling with our own last earthly life. We must feel, just as we felt in the body, and this feeling must echo in us. Then, when the thoughts of the other appear to us, the whole condition, which otherwise would only be as a picture, receives life. Thus, by the route of our feeling, we gain a living connection with our friend: it is really so with everyone.

You see, it is a development of a condition which may be described thus: There is a period during which we still have to draw from our last earthly life the forces enabling us to enter into living relationship with the surrounding spiritual world; we have still to be connected with this earthly life. We love the souls we have left behind, the contents of whose souls appear to us as thoughts, as elemental beings. But we love them because we ourselves are still living in the love we developed for them during our earthly life. The expression is not a happy one, but some of you will understand me when I say that earth-life — not the thought-life but the earth-life whose soul-contents are filled with feeling and permeated with the impulse of will — this earth-life, with which we are still connected, becomes like a sort of electric switch connecting our own individuality with what goes on around us spiritually; we perceive everything in a roundabout way through our last earthly life, but we only perceive what appertains to us in the spiritual world, through the feeling and will that were ours in our last earthly life. It is now really the case that we feel ourselves living on further into time, as a sort of comet of time. Our earthly life is still there like the kernel of the comet, but the kernel sends out a sort of tail into the near future through which we live. We are still connected with our earthly life in so far as this is filled with feeling and will, and from this experience something must be born within our soul as I have described, something that is not directly feeling and will. The soul-powers we develop here in the physical world, which include the power of feeling as we have it here in the physical world and the power of the will as we have it here in the physical world, these soul-powers we possess in this form, because we are living in the physical body. When the soul no longer lives in the physical body, it has to develop other qualities which only slumber during physical life. Because the echoes of feeling and will reverberate in it for years, the soul has to mature something from them which it can also use for the spiritual world in this respect, namely a force which I might describe as something like a feeling-desire or a desiring-feeling. In respect of our feeling and our will, we know that these dwell within our soul; but after death we do not, on the whole, possess such feeling and desire, they must gradually fade and die down, and they do this after some years.

But during this dying down and fading away, something has to develop from feeling and will which can be ours after death. Our thoughts live outside us as elemental beings; of inward feeling and will we should have nothing in this spiritual world which we ourselves are, and which is there, outside us. We have gradually to develop a will — and this we really do — which streams forth from us, which pours forth from us, as it were, and undulates and moves to where our living thoughts are. These it penetrates, because then upon the waves of will floats the feeling which in physical life is within us and not outside. Feeling then returns to us floating on the waves of will. There, outside surges and billows the ocean of our will and upon this swims our feeling. When the will strikes against an elemental thought-being, the contact produces an up-glimmering of feeling and we perceive this ‘ricochet’ of our will as an absolute reality of the spiritual world. Let us suppose there is an elemental being in the outer spiritual world. When we have gradually worked out of the condition we must first pass through, our will going forth from us breaks against this elemental being. When it strikes against the elemental being it is thrown back. It does not now return as will, but as feeling, which floats back to us on the waves of will. Our own being which is poured out into the cosmos lives as feeling which comes back to us on the waves of will. The elemental beings thereby become real to us and we gradually perceive that which exists outside us as the outer spiritual world.

Still another soul-force has to come forth from us, which slumbers in a much deeper layer of the soul than the feeling-will or the willing-feeling. It is creative soul-force, which is like an inner soul-light that must shine forth over the spiritual world, in order that we may not only see the living, active, objective thought-beings floating back to us on the waves of feeling in the ocean of our will, but that we may also illumine this spiritual world with spiritual light. Creative, spiritual illuminating power must go forth from our soul into the spiritual world. This awakens gradually.

You see, that while living in physical life we have at least differentiated within us the pair of brothers — feeling and will, from feeling-will or willing-feeling: we possess these as a duality whereas when we have passed the portal of death they are unity. The creative soul-force which we radiate as soul-light into spiritual space (if I may use the word ‘space’ here, for in reality it is not space, but we have to try to make these conditions comprehensible by expressing them pictorially), this soul-light slumbers so deep down within us because it is connected with something regarding which we neither may nor can know anything during life. That which is liberated as light and which then illumines and brightens the spiritual world slumbers very deep down within us during our life on the physical plane. What then rays forth from us, has to be transformed during our physical life and used in such a way that our body shall really live and that consciousness shall dwell in it. Entirely below the threshold of consciousness works this spiritual illuminating power in our physical body, as the power which organises life and consciousness. We dare not bring it into our earthly consciousness, for we should then rob our physical body of the power which has to organise it. But when we have no body to take care of, it becomes spiritual illuminating power, and streams through, shines and glitters through everything: these words signify actual realities.

Thus we gradually work our way onwards to where we become at home in the spiritual world and experience it as a reality, just as here we experience the physical world as a reality. We gradually arrive at really having the souls of those who have passed the portal of death as our companions in the spiritual world, in so far as these really live in the spiritual world. We then live among souls, just as here in the physical body we live among bodies. As we enter more and more into the true spirit of Spiritual Science, the assertion that after death we do not meet again all those with whom we have lived here, would be, to one who goes more deeply into the matter, as foolish as if someone were to say, with respect to the physical plane, that when we enter upon the earth at birth we find no human beings there. Human beings are all about us. — To one who knows spiritual life it is exactly the same as if someone were to say: the child comes into the physical world, but it sees no one there. That, obviously, is nonsense. In the same way it is nonsense when people say: when we enter into the spiritual world we do not find again all the souls with whom we have been associated, neither do we find the Beings belonging to the higher Hierarchies, whom we recognise in their order, as here upon the earth we recognise minerals, plants and animals! But there is this difference, here in the physical world we know that when we see and hear objects and beings, the possibility for doing so comes through our senses, from the outer world. In the spiritual world we know that this possibility comes from ourselves, because what we may call the soul-light streams forth from our souls illuminating everything about us.

Thus do we live in the period which may be called the first half of our life between death and rebirth. While we are living in this period we go through the two conditions I have already described: — one, a condition lasting for years, in which, through the illuminating power proceeding from our soul, we are connected with the spiritual world and are thus enabled to perceive spirits and souls about us. This then grows dim and we have the feeling: thou canst develop thy soul-illuminating power, thy soul-light less and less, thou art obliged to let it become dimmer and darker in a spiritual sense. Thereby thou canst see spiritual beings less and less. It becomes increasingly the case that we enter alternating periods in which we have a feeling which we may express thus: Beings surround thee on all sides but thou art becoming more and more solitary, thou art aware only of the contents of thine own soul and these contents grow richer to the same extent that thou ceasest to be able to illuminate the beings without. — There are periods of spiritual companionship, and again, periods of spiritual solitude during which we live over again in our soul, what we experienced in the periods of spiritual companionship. These conditions alternate. Such is our life in the spiritual world: spiritual companionship, and again spiritual solitude. In periods of spiritual solitude we know: what thou didst experience in the spiritual world around thee was indeed there, thou knewest about all that; but now there remains only the echo of it within thee. One might say, that what we experience in the periods of spiritual solitude, are memories; but these words do not express it exactly. I must therefore try to describe it to you from another aspect. It is not as if in the period of spiritual darkness, when one has no companions, one were to remember what one had previously experienced in the spiritual world, but as if one had to produce this afresh every moment: it is a continual inward creation. One is inwardly aware: While there, outside thee the outer world exists; thou must remain alone and create and create. What thou createst is the world which surges around thee beyond the shores of thine own being.

As we thus live on further during the first half of our life between death and rebirth and approach the middle of the period between death and rebirth, we feel the solitary life grow richer and richer and at the same time the vision of our spiritual environment becomes dimmer and more restricted. This continues until we arrive at the middle of the period between death and rebirth, which in my last Mystery Drama, The Soul's Awakening, I have endeavoured to describe as the Midnight of the World. That is the period when we have the strongest inward life, but we no longer have within us the creative soul-force enabling us to illumine our spiritual environment. Here, one might say, infinite worlds fill us inwardly, spiritually, but we are unable to know anything about any other being except our own. That is the central point in our experience between death and rebirth, it is the Midnight of the World.

Now the time begins when there develops within us the longing for a positive creative power; for although we have an infinite inner life, there awakens within us the longing to have an outer world again. And so different are the conditions of the spiritual world from those of the physical world, that whereas in the physical world longing is the most passive force (when there is something for which we long, this something is what determines us), the reverse is the case in the spiritual world. There, longing is a creative force; it transforms itself into something which, as a new kind of soul-light, is able to give us an outer world, an outer world which is yet an inner world, inasmuch as it reveals to us a vision of our previous earthly incarnations. These now lie outspread before us, illumined by the light that is born of our longing. In the spiritual cosmos there is a power which comes from longing, which can illumine this backward survey and enable us to experience ourselves.

But to this end one thing is necessary in our present age. I have said that during the whole of the first half of our life between death and rebirth we alternate between inner life and outer life, between solitude and spiritual companionship. At first the conditions in the spiritual world are such, that each time we return to our solitude in the spiritual world, to our inner activity, we call up before our soul again and again what we have experienced in the outer world. Thereby a consciousness is aroused which expands over the whole of the spiritual world; with the swing of the pendulum this again contracts during the period of solitude.

There is one thing, however, which exists there and which we must retain, no matter whether we expand into the great spiritual world, or withdraw into ourselves. Before the Mystery of Golgotha took place, it was possible, through the forces connecting man with primeval times, to preserve a connection with that which gave him the feeling of ‘I’. It was possible not to lose this connection, for he could preserve a clear remembrance of one thing in the previous earthly life, namely, that in this life on the earth he had lived as an ‘I’; and this remembrance continued both through the periods of solitude and of companionship. Before the Mystery of Golgotha the forces of inheritance took care of this. Now, it can only be accomplished through the fact that the soul-content, which we may have through Christ having entered into the earth aura, remains connected with that which we have released from us as the treasure we have brought from the earth, which we perceived withdraw immediately after leaving the physical body. This is the permeation with the Christ-substance, which after death gives us the power to maintain the remembrance of our ‘I’ up to the time of the world-midnight, in spite of all expansion and in spite of all the contraction into solitude. Thus far does the impulse proceeding from the power of Christ extend, that through it we do not lose ourselves. Then from our longing must spring a new spiritual power, a power that only exists in spiritual life and by which, through our longing a new light may be kindled.

In the physical world there is Nature and the Divinity which pervades Nature, from which we are born into the physical world. There is the Christ-impulse which is present in the earth's aura, that is, in the aura of physical nature. But the power which draws near to us in the Midnight of the World, through which our longing is enabled to illumine the whole of our past, this power exists only in the spiritual world where nobody can live. When the Christ-impulse has brought us as far as to the Midnight of the World, and when the Midnight of the World is experienced by the soul in spiritual loneliness, because the soul-light cannot yet stream forth from us, when world-darkness has come upon us, when Christ has led us thus far, then in the Midnight of the World there emerges something spiritual from our desire, creating a new world-light which illuminates our being and by means of which we enter anew into worldly existence. We learn to know the Spirit of the spiritual world which awakens us, because out of the Midnight of the World a new light shines, the light which illuminates the whole of our human past.

In Christ we have died; through the Spirit, through the bodiless Spirit for which the technical expression Holy Ghost is used, i.e., the Spirit that lives without a body — (for this is meant by the word Holy, namely, a spirit without the weakness of one that lives in the body) — through this Spirit we are reawakened at the Midnight of the World. At the World-Midnight we are awakened by the Holy Ghost:

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Re: The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebir

Postby admin » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:12 pm


Vienna, 14th April, 1914.

In this, my last lecture, I should like to continue from where we left off yesterday. We were speaking of what I described as the great ‘Midnight Hour of our spiritual existence between death and rebirth’, that Midnight Hour when our human inner experience is most intense and when that which we may call spiritual companionship, our connection with the outer spiritual world, has reached its lowest ebb, so that in a certain respect during this Midnight Hour of our spiritual existence spiritual darkness surrounds us. We said also that the longing for the outer world again becomes active within us, that this longing arises through the Spirit which works in spiritual worlds, and that it enkindles a new soul-light in us, so that it becomes possible for us to see an external world of a particular kind. The external world we then see is our own past, which has run its course through previous incarnations, and the intervening periods between deaths and re-births: this we then survey as an outer world, through looking back upon what we have received from, and enjoyed in worldly existence, and upon that for which we are indebted to the world. When we thus survey our previous experiences, two things come before us with particular intensity. We have enjoyed certain things and this is shown us by spiritual vision; we have had certain joys and sorrows in life. We can survey these joys and sorrows, but we see what we have experienced in such a way that it is its spiritual value which appears to us; we see it with respect to what it has made of us.

Let us take a concrete example. We look back upon some enjoyment, some satisfaction we have had at some time in our past life. We then feel: this is not something that is past; the time when we enjoyed it does indeed lie behind us, but it is not something that is absolutely past. It is something which continues its activity into all future time and it continues it in such a manner that it still awaits what we are going to make out of it. When we have experienced some enjoyment, some satisfaction, in our soul we feel somewhat as follows when we survey it: ‘This must become a force within thee, a force in thy soul, and thou canst allow this force to act within thee in two ways. In this spiritual existence in which thou art after the Midnight of the World two things are possible; the spiritual world simply gives thee the power to bring about one of these possibilities; thou canst change this past enjoyment, this past inward satisfaction into a capacity, so that through the past enjoyment thou art able to develop a certain power in thy soul, whereby thou canst accomplish something in the world, small or great, that is of value to the world. That is one thing. The other we may express to ourselves thus: ‘I have had the enjoyment, I shall be satisfied with it, I shall take it into my soul and refresh myself through this past enjoyment.’ When we do this with much of what we have enjoyed and has given us pleasure, we produce a power within us through which we gradually degenerate and suffocate spiritually. This is one of the most important things we can learn in the spiritual world, that through enjoyment, through that which has given us pleasure, we have also become debtors to the world. There rises before our spiritual eyes the prospect of our suffocating in the after-effects of these past satisfactions and enjoyments, if we do not decide at the right time to create capacities from them which can produce something of value to life. From this you see once more, spiritual events interact with what takes place on the physical plane.

When a person fills himself more and more with the knowledge of Spiritual Science as outlined in the lecture before the last, this will pass into the instinctive life of his soul and in respect to the pleasures he has upon the physical plane will develop a feeling, like the stimulus of an inner conscience, that he must not give himself up to certain enjoyment, pleasure or joy for its own sake, but he must fill this joy with a feeling of thankfulness to the universe, to the spiritual powers of the universe; for he will know that through every pleasure, through every enjoyment he becomes a debtor to the universe. We arrive most easily and most certainly at the right attitude, in the transformation of those enjoyments and pleasures which are of a spiritual nature. Enjoyments and pleasures which can only be satisfied through the body, or through having a body on the physical plane, confront us in this period between death and rebirth as something that must be transformed if we do not wish to be slowly suffocated in them. We feel the necessity for this transformation, but we also feel that in the first place it will require many incarnations, that we must be in the spiritual world again and again between these incarnations, so that at length we may be able to bring about this transformation.

Then we discover something else in the spiritual world. We find that in our present cycle of humanity we have enjoyments and pleasures on the physical plane in which our soul-spiritual nature is entirely submerged, that the enjoyment or the pleasure, assumes a sub-human, I will not say animal character; for pleasure and enjoyment may assume a sub-human character. We find that with enjoyments such as these, we really prepare infinite pain for certain beings in the spiritual world with whom we only meet when we enter this world. And the sight of the pain we cause these beings is so extremely disturbing, so oppressive, filling our soul with such forces, that we cannot well arrive at the harmonious upbuilding of the things necessary for our next incarnation.

As regards what we experience in a different way, 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.

We have experiences such as these and many others, directly after the spiritual Midnight Hour of existence. We feel and experience what our value has become through our previous life; we also feel and experience to what capacities we may attain in the future. And after we have lived for a time longer in the spiritual world, there appears from the twilight of our spiritual environment a clear vision, not only of our own past life, but also of all the human beings with whom we were closely connected in that life; people appear in spiritual relations, with whom we have been connected in some way in former stages of existence. It is not as if we had not been with these human beings before — we are always together with those who have been near us in life, in by far the greater portion of the time between death and rebirth — but now, when we meet them again after the Midnight Hour of our spiritual existence, we see clearly in these human beings what we owe to them or they to us. Our point of view is now not merely: such and such was thy relation to these people at such and such a time — we knew this before — but these people are now for us the expression of the compensation for our previous experiences with them. By the manner in which they come before us, we see by what new experience on the physical plane we may have to repay that for which we are indebted to them, or such like. When we confront the souls of these human beings we see, as it were, the activities which in the future must reproduce the relationships we have had with them in the past. This will be best understood if we take an example which is as concrete as possible, an application of what has already been mentioned in previous lectures.

Let us again suppose that we have lied to some one. Then comes the time, when in the spiritual world the possibility arises of our being tormented by the truth, the opposite to our lie. Our relation to this person to whom we have lied so changes during this time, that as often as we see him (and we see him often enough with our spiritual eyes) he causes the truth, the opposite to the lie we have told, to rise within us and this torments us. Thereby arises from deep down within us a tendency which causes us to say: ‘Thou must meet this person again on the earth below and thou must do something that will compensate the wrong thou hast done in telling the lie; for here in the spiritual world thou canst not compensate what has been brought about through thy lie, here thou canst only see quite clearly the effect of a lie in the cosmos. What has been done upon the earth in this way must be made good again upon the earth. We know that in order to make compensation we need forces which can only develop in us when we again possess an earthly body. From this a tendency arises in our soul to take once more on ourselves an earthly body which will give us the opportunity to perform the actions whereby the imperfections we have caused upon earth may be repaired; otherwise, when we have gone through death once more this person will again appear to call forth the torment of the truth.

Thus you see the whole spiritual technique; how in the spiritual world there is produced within us the impulse karmically to make compensation for various things. These compensations occur also in other connections; but of course I should have to enumerate many thousands of cases if I were to speak of all that comes into consideration in respect of this important subject of karma. For example, let us take the following case: Let us suppose we are in the period after the Midnight Hour of existence in the spiritual world, so that we look back at certain pleasures we have had and say: ‘We can change the effects of these experiences into capacities to which we can give expression when we are re-embodied.’ But the following may also happen. We may observe that when we are changing these past experiences into capacities, in this our present condition, certain elemental beings disturb us (this can happen); these elemental beings do not allow us to acquire these capacities. We may then ask ourselves: ‘What can I do now? If I yield to these elemental beings which approach and will not suffer capacities to arise in me, I shall not be able to develop these capacities. But I must develop them. I know that I shall only be able to give the service due to certain people in my next incarnation if I have these capacities.’ As a rule in such cases we decide to acquire these capacities; but we thereby injure the elemental beings which are around us: in a certain way they feel that they are attacked by us. When we acquire these capacities, they feel that their own life is thereby darkened, as if something were taken away from their wisdom. One of the consequences often springing from this is, that when we are reborn we find that one or more human beings are possessed by these elemental beings and are inspired with particularly hostile intentions towards us.

Think how deeply this enables us to see into human experience, how profoundly it teaches us to comprehend human life and really to acquire the right instinct to comport ourselves correctly on the physical plane. But this does not mean that we should ever say, when on the physical plane: ‘At that time I had to protect myself. I have thereby made this person a sworn enemy; I must now give in to him.’ The case might arise where it would be good to yield, but, on the other hand, it might happen that if we yield, these hostile elemental beings who act through one person or another might, through what they now do on the physical plane, compensate themselves abundantly for the loss they suffered through our self-protection. They might go beyond what was taken away from them, and the consequence of this would be that we should not be able to save ourselves from them, when we again enter the corresponding period in the stream of time between death and rebirth, and they would then give the death blow to certain of our capacities.

The world becomes ever more and more complicated when we get real insight into it; but we cannot wonder at this. I might give you other examples of the karmic connections between life on earth and life between death and rebirth. Let us take the case of a person who through illness dies earlier than another who enters into ‘time’, as it were, after a normal length of human life. His illness brings him to an early death; but he really retains certain forces within him which he would have expended if he had reached the normal length of human life. The man would have used these forces, which remain within him as a reserve of strength, if he had not died early, and when the life after death is examined, the spiritual investigator finds that these forces are added to the man's forces of will and feeling, strengthening them. Such a person is in the position so to use, after the Midnight Hour of existence, what has accrued to him through these forces before the Midnight Hour of existence, that he enters earthly life as a man of stronger will and of much more character than if he had not died so early. It is, however, previous karma that determines this and naturally it would be the greatest folly if a person were to think that he would gain what has just been described by bringing about an early death artificially; he would not gain it thus. What happens when an early death is brought about artificially, you will find described in my book Theosophy, so far as it is necessary to explain it. I also referred there to the case where a person meets with an early death through an accident. When he is torn away from the experiences of the physical plane through an accident, while his forces would have still been sufficient to enable him to reach old age, there remains to him a surplus of force and when the Midnight Hour of existence has passed he can use this to strengthen his intellectual powers. We find through spiritual investigation that great inventors are often people who in former incarnations died through an accident. If we really wish to survey these things with understanding, we have to realise that in the spiritual world the standpoint of life is really quite different from what it can be in the physical world.

It will grow more and more comprehensible to you, that in order to understand the spiritual worlds one has first to acquire the necessary conceptions and ideas, because the spiritual worlds are so very different from the physical world. Hence no one should wonder when something relating to the spiritual worlds is described, that when the ideas of the physical world are directed to this description, it should at first be felt to be unsatisfactory. For example, it is a fact, which is confirmed by spiritual investigation into many cases, that if a person dies a thorough materialist, with a materialistic frame of mind, and leaves others behind who are also materialistically inclined, he at first suffers a certain loss in the spiritual world. When he has passed through the portal of death without spiritual inclinations, and wishes to look back at his loved ones on the earth, he cannot see them directly if in their souls there is no spiritual thought; he has knowledge of them only up to the time when he passed through death. His spiritual eyes cannot see what they are now experiencing below upon the earth, because there is no spiritual life in their souls; for only spiritual experience throws light up into the spiritual worlds. Before such a person can see the matter quite clearly, he has to wait until in the spiritual world itself he has developed the necessary forces with which to see clearly that the souls he has left behind are materialistically inclined because they have succumbed to Ahriman. Were he to experience this immediately after death he would be unable to bear it. He has first to grow into the knowledge that materialistically inclined souls are possessed by Ahriman; then he may begin to have vision of these souls, until they have passed the portal of death and in the spiritual world have liberated themselves from their materialistic tendencies. It is only later that he experiences union with them.

Someone might say: These conditions which you describe as taking place after death are not at all consoling. That, my dear friends, is an idea which is gained on the physical plane; it is not an idea that is filled with the understanding of the spiritual worlds. A person living between death and rebirth, comes to a point where he says: ‘Oh, how impossible, how comfortless it would be directly after death to see those souls who are materialistically inclined!’ How infinitely better it is for these souls to pass first through this period of probation! They would lose themselves, they would be unable to reach what they ought to reach if the matter were not arranged in this way. The point of view becomes entirely different when the things of the world are considered from the spiritual side, and a time will come when it will be necessary for man, while still on the physical plane, to have a correct understanding of the truths of Spiritual Science.

Spiritual Science has come into the world because the evolution of humanity requires that the knowledge of the spiritual world and its conditions should enter more and more into human souls, instinctively at first, then consciously. I will draw your attention to a purely external thing which is very important, in order that you may see how we shall be able more and more to judge the true contents of our life on the physical plane through understanding the laws of spiritual existence. It is something external and as an external thing is extremely important. When we consider nature, the remarkable spectacle is presented to us of a small number of seeds being used in every case to continue the same kind of life, but that an extremely large number of seeds come to nothing. We observe myriads of fish eggs in the ocean, a few only of which become fishes, the rest perish. We look out over the fields and see vast quantities of grains of wheat, only a few of which grow into plants, the rest are ground up into flour for human food and for other purposes. A great deal more has to be produced by nature than really becomes fruit and again seed in the regular course of existence. This is a wise regulation of nature; for in nature order and law exist and demand that what thus deviates from its own deeply founded routine of existence and fruiting, should be so used, that it serves the other continuing stream of existence. The various creatures would not be able to live if all seeds actually bore fruit and attained the development possible to them. Beings have to exist, which are used to form the ground-work from which other beings can grow. It is only in appearance that anything is lost, only in maya; in reality nothing is lost in the works of nature. Spirit rules in nature and the fact that something is apparently lost from the continuous stream of evolution is based upon the wisdom of the spirit, it is a spiritual Law, and we must consider this matter from the standpoint of the spirit; we then soon find that what apparently is turned aside from the straight forward stream of events, has its own well justified place in existence. This is founded in the spirit. Hence it may also be of value on the physical plane, in so far as we here live a spiritual life.

Let us consider a case which concerns us very closely. Public lectures have to be given on the subject of Spiritual Science. These are given to a public that is gathered together simply through advertisement. Something happens here which is somewhat similar to the case of the seeds of corn, a part only of which are used in the straight forward stream of existence. One must not be discouraged when, in such circumstances, one has to bring the stream of spiritual life apparently without choice before many, many people, and when only a few separate themselves and really enter into this spiritual life, become anthroposophists, and join the direct stream. Under these circumstances, it still happens that these scattered seeds come to many who, after a public lecture, go away and say, for example, ‘What mad nonsense the fellow talked!’ Seen with respect to external life, this is like the germs — shall we say — like the fish-germs that come to nothing in the ocean; but from the standpoint of a deeper investigation it is not so. Souls who through their karma come to a lecture and who then go away and say: ‘What foolish nonsense the fellow talked!’ — these souls are not yet ready to receive the truth of the spirit; but it is necessary for their souls in their present incarnation to feel the approach of the power contained in Spiritual Science. However much they may scold, it remains a force in their souls for their next incarnation. Thus the germs have not been lost; they find a way. Life with respect to spiritual things is under the same laws, whether we follow the spirit in the order of nature, or in the case which we consider to be our own.

Now let us suppose we wished to carry this over into external material life, and were to say: ‘But this is just what happens in outer life.’ Yes, my dear friends, it is exactly because this is happening, that I say that we are living towards a future when this will appear in ever greater degree. More and more articles will be produced, more and more factories will be built. No one now asks, ‘How many articles are needed?’ as was formerly the case, when the tailors in the town only made a suit when someone ordered it. The need then determined the numbers to be made; but now they are produced for the market; the various wares are piled up as much as possible. Production works entirely according to the principle upon which nature works. Nature is carried into the social order, and this will at first gain the upper hand more and more. But here we are considering the material realm. The spiritual law has no application in external life, simply because it is suited only to the spiritual world; and something very remarkable results. As we are speaking among ourselves we may say these things, but at the present day the world will not agree with us in this. Things are now produced for the market regardless of the amount required, not according to what was explained in my essay on Theosophy and Social Life — all that is produced is piled up in warehouses and governed by the money market, and then the producers wait to see how many are bought. This tendency will grow greater and greater until it destroys itself and when I say the following you will know the reason. One who spiritually observes social life, sees the germ of frightful social abscesses springing up everywhere. That is the great social problem confronting those who understand life; that is the frightful fact which is so depressing and which — even if we could suppress all our enthusiasm for Spiritual Science and the impulse which makes us long for it — yet makes us cry out for the remedy for this world disease that is already so far advanced and which will become ever worse and worse. That which in one field, in one sphere, must work as nature works, is seen by one who seeks to spread abroad spiritual truths to become a cancer when it enters the sphere of culture, as we have just described.

It will only be possible to recognise this and find the remedy, when Spiritual Science lays hold of and fills the hearts and minds of men. When one sees these things, one would fain fill one's words with the most intense fire, so that the attention of as many of our contemporaries as are able to understand them may be attracted to the times we are approaching. We can perceive these things when we make ourselves acquainted with the different points of view that exist in one and another spheres of life. These different points of view confront a person, when experiencing the life between the Midnight Hour of existence and rebirth, for it is from them that he must work creatively on himself.

When he has formed the tendencies for the fulfilment of his karma in respect of his more intimate experiences, others rise before his soul which are not so intimate. He experiences the religious and other societies to which he has belonged in such a way that they reveal to him certain things he must do in his following incarnation in order not to become one-sided. In short, this life flows on in such a way that it still alternates between spiritual companionship and spiritual solitude, but its essential task is that the human being then constructs the archetype for his new earthly life in a purely spiritual form.

Long, long before the human being descends to earthly life he has constructed out of the spiritual world the spiritual etheric archetype, which has within it forces, which we might call spiritual magnetic forces. These draw him down to parents in respect of whom he feels that they give him the hereditary attributes which enable him to enter upon a new earthly life. I have already mentioned that the normal time for this is when we have the feeling that we are uniting with that which withdrew from us as the fruit of our last earthly life. But the human being does not always reach this point. When we do come to this point the course of our life is such that we fully feel the connection between the bodily part and the spiritual part, but often the man enters into life too soon. Most people are prematurely born, spiritually, and this is only compensated for later through experiences with which we feel entirely in harmony.

One thing is of very special importance which I mentioned in the last lecture. When our longing for an outer world has reached its greatest intensity because we have entered most deeply into solitude, then it is that the Spirit, which only lives and moves in spiritual worlds, approaches us and changes our longing into a kind of soul-light. Up to this point we must keep our connection with our ‘I’. We must, as it were, preserve the remembrance: Upon earth thou wast this ‘I’; this ‘I’ has to remain to thee as a memory. That man is able to do this in our age depends upon the fact that Christ brought into the earth's aura the power by which we can maintain our memory up to the Midnight Hour, when we again have this ‘I’. Otherwise this could not at the present time have been brought over from our earthly life. If the Christ-impulse had not entered the earth, an interruption would have occurred, a break, in the middle of the period between death and rebirth which would have made our existence inharmonious. Long before the Midnight Hour we should have forgotten that we were an ‘I’ in our last life; we should have felt connection with the spiritual world, but we should have forgotten ourselves. We have to develop our Ego so powerfully on earth, that we gain this Ego-consciousness ever more and more. This has become necessary since the Mystery of Golgotha. But because on earth we attain to an ever great consciousness of our Ego, we thereby exhaust the forces we have need of after death in order that we should really not forget ourselves up to the Midnight Hour of existence. In order to be able to retain this remembrance, we have to die in Christ. For this the Christ-impulse is necessary. It preserves for us up to the Midnight Hour of existence the possibility of not forgetting our ‘I’.

Then at the Midnight Hour of existence the Spirit approaches us. We have now retained the memory of our ‘I’. If we carry this on into the Midnight Hour of existence, to where the Holy Ghost approaches and gives us the vision and the connection with our own inner world, as if with an outer world — if we have kept this connection, the Spirit can then lead us further to our re-embodiment, which we bring about through having formed our archetype in the spiritual world. In reality, however, things do not take place in such a way that one does only what is necessary, but just as a pendulum never rests, but swings to one side so as to swing again to the other, and as it is right this should be so, so is it also with the spiritual life. The Christ-impulse supplies us with more than barely sufficient force just to make the connection, it gives us sometimes so much, that if the Spirit should not come to us, the Christ-impulse would be able to bear us quickly over. We should not be able to make the connection with our memory, but the Christ-impulse would carry us over. This is of great importance; and as we develop on into the future, it will be increasingly necessary for man that he should receive more than merely a bare amount of the Christ-impulse. Even at the present time, it is necessary that man should experience during his earthly life not merely what is absolutely necessary regarding Christ, but that the Christ-impulse should enter into his soul as a mightier impulse, so that it will sweep him rapidly beyond the Midnight Hour of existence. For the force of the Spirit is strengthened through the impulse of Christ, and we feel the force of the Spirit more strongly throughout the second half of our life between death and rebirth, than would be the case if the Christ-impulse were not there.

The surplus of the Christ-impulse that remains with us, strengthens the impulse of the Spirit. Otherwise the Spirit would only be active for the Spirit, and it would cease working when we were born. As we fill ourselves with the Christ-impulse it strengthens the impulse of the Holy Ghost, and thereby such a spiritual impulse is introduced to our souls that, when we enter earthly incarnation, it is not exhausted in this incarnation as are the other forces we bring with us at birth. I have already mentioned that we transform the forces we bring over from the spiritual world into our inner organisation, but the surplus which we gain in this way through the Christ-impulse strengthening the impulse of the Spirit — this we bring over with us into existence, but it does not need to be transformed during our life on earth. The further we advance into the future, the more necessary will human beings be for the development of the earth, human beings who, because they are filled with the Christ-impulse and the impulse of the Spirit, bring something into earthly life with them when they enter their new incarnation. The Spirit must work with greater power, so that it does not only work up to the time of birth, when everything that is brought from the spiritual world is transformed, so that only the tiny amount of consciousness endures which informs us of our physical environment, and of what can be understood by the intellect connected with the brain. If, as we develop towards the future we did not gradually bring with us as human beings a surplus of spirit, as has just been described, humanity would gradually reach the point where it would have no idea that there was a Spirit, then during earthly life only the unspiritual Spirit, Ahriman, would rule, and humanity would only be able to know of the physical world that is perceived by the senses, and of what is comprehended by the intellect that is connected with the brain. In the onward development of mankind, all these things are even now being experienced to a certain extent, even now humanity is in danger of losing the Holy Ghost.

But it will not lose it. Spiritual Science will be the watcher which will see that humanity does not lose the Holy Ghost, this Spirit which approaches the soul at the Midnight Hour of existence, in order to waken within it the longing to see itself in its past and recognise its value. Spiritual Science will have to speak more and more impressively of the Christ-impulse, so that more and more Spirit shall enter into physical existence through birth, in more and more human beings, and so that in this physical existence there shall be more and more human beings who feel: ‘I have certainly within me forces which have to be transformed into organising forces, but there is something also dawning in my soul which need not be transformed. I have brought with me into this physical world some of the Spirit which appertains only to the spiritual worlds, although I am living in my body.’ — This is the Spirit which will enable people to see what is spoken of by Theodora in the Mystery Drama, The Portal of Initiation, namely, the etheric form of Christ. The power of the Spirit which thus enters people's bodies will open spiritual eyes through which to see and understand the spiritual worlds. First, people will have to understand them, and then they will begin with understanding to behold them; vision will come, because the Spirit so lays hold of people's souls that they will be able to bring this Spirit into their bodies, and the Spirit will shine out even in their earthly incarnations; it will dawn first in a few, and then in a larger number. So we may say: Through the Spirit, through the Holy Ghost we are awakened in the great Midnight Hour of existence. So also from another side we may say — when we bear in mind what the Spirit provides for earthly evolution in the future: — the best part of the soul, that by which we are enabled to see into the spiritual worlds, will be awakened more and more by the Holy Ghost even when in the physical body. As man is awakened by the Holy Ghost in the Midnight Hour of existence, so also will he be awakened while living in his physical body on the physical plane. He will waken inwardly through the Spirit rousing him out of the sleep of sense; otherwise through mere sense-perception and through the intellect that is connected with the brain, man would always remain asleep. The Spirit will shine into this human sleep, which as it developed toward the future would otherwise gradually overcome humanity. The spirit in man will shine into this sleep even during physical existence. In the midst of the decline of spiritual life, in the midst of spiritual death, caused by an outlook based merely on sense-perception and a brain-bound intellect, the souls of men will be awakened by the Holy Ghost — even now during physical existence:

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