[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib



Highlight Words

Life Between Death and Rebirth

Schmidt Number: S-2662

On-line since: 27th October, 2004

VII

The Working of Karma in Life After Death

Bern, December 15, 1912

We are celebrating today the fifth anniversary of the Bern Branch. It is also the first occasion on which we have gathered in this room. Let us hope it will offer a worthy frame for our spiritual work and striving in this city. The fact that we are able to hold our more intimate meetings surrounded by such architectural forms as these is of significance for our spiritual endeavors. We know that in a number of different places such rooms are striven for and already exist. In view of the twofold festive nature of this event, it is appropriate to say a few introductory words about the significance of such forms.

In our strivings we repeatedly come to a threefoldness in one or the other direction that may be termed the sacred triad. We discover it expressed in the human soul as thinking, feeling and willing. If we consider thinking we shall find that in our thinking activity we have to direct ourselves according to objective necessities. If we fail to do so, whether in thinking about the things of the physical plan or about spiritual things, we shall commit the error of not reaching the truth. In relation of our will, also, we must orient ourselves according to certain external moral precepts. Here, too, we have to act according to necessities. In fact, with regard to both our thinking and our willing the necessities of higher realms play into the physical world.

Man feels truly free only in the realm of his feelings. It is quite different from thinking and willing. We feel most at home in the sphere of feeling and sensation when we are compelled neither by thinking nor by willing, but can surrender to what is purely felt. Why is this so? We sense that our thinking is connected with something, is dependent. We likewise feel a dependency in our willing. In our feelings, however, we are completely ourselves and there we live completely within our own soul, as it were. Why is this so? It is because ultimately our feelings are a mirror picture of a power that lies far beyond our consciousness. Thoughts must be considered as images of what they represent. We must so develop our will that it expresses our duties and responsibilities. In the sphere of feeling we can freely experience what speaks to our soul because, occultly considered, feelings are a mirror image of a realm that does not enter our consciousness. It lies beyond our consciousness and is of a divine spiritual nature.

We might say that the gods seek to educate mankind through thinking and willing. Through feeling the gods allow us to participate in their own creative working, though in a mysterious way. In feeling we have something immediately present in our own souls in which the gods themselves delight.

Now by means of forms as they have been created here, our studies can be accompanied by feelings that draw us closer to the spiritual worlds. This intimacy with the spiritual world must be the result of all our considerations. That is why we can attach a certain importance to such surrounding forms and seek to penetrate what they can mean for us. We look in all directions and feel the power of light and color, which for us can become a revelation of what lives in the spiritual world. What we have to say certainly also can be understood in the barren, dreadful halls unfortunately so prevalent everywhere today. But a real warmth of soul can only come about in spiritual studies when we are surrounded by forms such as these. That this can be so after the first five years of our work here in Bern may be looked upon as the good karma that blesses and accompanies our activities. Therefore, we shall devote this occasion that is festive in a twofold way to considering the significance of spiritual science, of a spiritual knowledge, for modern man.

 Much that will be considered today has been spoken about previously but we shall discuss it from new aspects. The spiritual worlds can only become fully intelligible if we consider them from the move varied viewpoints. Life between death and a new birth has been described in many different ways. Today our considerations will deal with much that has concerned me recently in the sphere of spiritual investigation.

We remember that as soon as we have gone through the gate of death we experience the kamaloca period during which we are still intimately connected with our feelings and emotions, with all the aspects of our soul life in the last earthly embodiment. We gradually free ourselves from this connection. Indeed, we no longer have a physical body after death. Yet, when the physical and etheric bodies have been laid aside, our astral body still possesses all the peculiarities it had on earth, and these peculiarities of the astral body, which is acquired because it lived in a physical body, also have to be laid aside. This requires a certain time and that marks the period of kamaloca. The kamaloca period is followed by experiences in the spiritual world or devachan. In our writings it has been characterized more from the aspect of what man experiences through the different elements spread out around him. We shall now consider the period between death and a new birth from another side. Let us begin with a general survey.

When man has gone through the gate of death he has the following experience. During life on earth he is enclosed within his skin, and outside is space with things and beings. This is not so after death. Our whole being expands and we feel that we are becoming ever larger. The feeling of being here in my skin with space and surrounding things out there is an experience that we do not have after death. After death we are inside objects and beings. We expand within a definite spatial area. During the kamaloca period we are continually expanding, and when this expansion reaches its end, we are as large as the space within the orbit of the moon. The fact of dwelling within space, of being concentrated in one point, has quite a different meaning after death than during physical existence. All the souls who dwell simultaneously in kamaloca fill out the same space circumscribed by the orbit of the moon. They interpenetrate one another. Yet this interpenetration does not mean togetherness. The feeling of being together is determined by quite other factors than filling a common spatial area. It is possible for two souls who are within the same space after death to be quite distant from one another. Their experience may be such that they need not know of one another's existence. Other souls, on the other hand, might have close, intimate connections and sense each other's presence. This depends entirely on inner relationships and has nothing to do with external spatial connections.

In later phases when kamaloca has come to an end, we penetrate into still vaster realms. We expand ever more. When the kamaloca phase draws to a close, man leaves behind him as if removed everything that during his physical existence was the expression of his propensities, longings and desires for earthly life. Man must experience all this but he must also relinquish it in the Moon sphere or kamaloca. As man lives on after death, and later recalls the experiences in the Moon sphere, he will find all his earthly emotions and passions inscribed there, that is, everything that developed in his soul life as a result of his positive attraction to the bodily nature. This is left behind in the Moon sphere and there it remains. It cannot be erased so easily. We carry it with us as an impulse but it remains inscribed in the Moon sphere. The account of the debts, as it were, owing by every person is recorded in the Moon sphere.

As we expand farther we enter a second realm that is called the Mercury sphere in occultism. We shall not represent it diagrammatically, but the Mercury sphere is larger than the Moon sphere. We enter this sphere after death in the most varied ways. It can be accurately investigated by means of spiritual science. A person who in life had an immoral or limited moral disposition lives into the Mercury sphere in a completely different way from one who was morally inclined. In the Mercury sphere the former is unable to find those people who die[d] at the same time, shortly before or after he did, and who are in the spiritual world. He so enters into the spiritual world that he is unable to find the loved ones with whom he longs to be together. People who lack a moral disposition of soul on earth become hermits in the Mercury sphere. The morally inclined person, however, becomes what one might call a sociable being. There he will find above all the people with whom he had a close inner connection on earth. This determines whether one is together with someone. It depends not on spatial relations, for we all fill the same space, but on our soul inclinations. We become hermits when we bring an unmoral disposition with us, and sociable beings, if we possess a moral inclination.

We encounter other difficulties in connection with sociability in the Moon sphere during kamaloca but by and large whether a man becomes a hermit or a sociable being there also depends on the disposition of his soul. A thorough-going egoist on earth, one who only indulged his urges and passions, will not easily find in the Moon sphere the people with whom he was connected on earth. A man who has loved passionately, however, even if it were only physically, will nevertheless not find himself completely alone, but will find other individuals with whom he was connected. In both these spheres it is generally not possible to find human beings apart from those with whom one has been connected on earth. Others remain unknown to us. The condition for meeting other people is that we must have been with them on earth. Whether or not we find ourselves with them depends on the moral factor. Although they lead to a connection with those we have known on earth, even moral strivings will not carry us much farther beyond this realm. Relationships to the people we meet after death are characterized by the fact that they cannot be altered.

We should picture it as follows. During life on earth we always have the possibility of changing a relationship with a fellow man. Let us suppose that over a period of time we have not loved someone as he deserved. The moment we become aware of this we can love him rightly, if we have the strength. We lack this possibility after death. Then when we encounter a person we perceive far more clearly than on earth whether we have loved him too little or unfairly, but we can do nothing to change it. It has to remain as it is. Life connections bear the peculiar quality of a certain constancy. Because they are of a lasting nature, an impulse is formed in the soul by means of which order is brought into karma. If we have loved a person insufficiently over a period of fifteen years, we shall become aware of it after death. It is during our experience of this that we bring about the impulse to act differently in our next incarnation on earth. We thereby create the impulse and the will for karmic compensation. That is the technique of karma.

Above all, we should be clear about one thing. During the early phases of life after death, namely during the Moon and Mercury periods (and also during subsequent periods that will shortly be described), we dwell in the spiritual world in such a way that our spiritual life depends on how we lived on earth in the physical world. It not only is a question of our earthly consciousness. Our unconscious impulses also play a part. In our normal waking state on earth we live in our ego. Below the ego-consciousness lies the astral consciousness, the subconscious sphere. The workings of this sphere are sometimes different from our normal ego-consciousness without our being aware of it.

Let us take an actual example that occurs quite frequently. Two people are on the friendliest of terms with each other. One develops an appreciation for spiritual science while the other, who previously appeared quite complacent towards it, comes to hate spiritual science. This animosity need not pervade the whole soul. It may only be lodged in the person's ego-consciousness, not in his astral consciousness. As far as his astral consciousness is concerned, the person who feeds his animosity still further might in fact have a longing and a love for the spirit of which he is unaware. This is quite possible. There are contradictions of this kind in human nature. If a person investigates his astral consciousness, his subconscious, he might well find a concealed sympathy for what in his waking consciousness he professes to hate. This is of particular importance after death because then, in this respect, man becomes truly himself. A person may have brought himself to hate spiritual science during a lifetime, to reject it and everything connected with it, and yet he may have a love for it in his subconscious. He may have a burning desire for spiritual science. The fact of not knowing and being unable to form thoughts of his memories can result in acute suffering during the period of kamaloca because during the first phase after death man lives mainly in his recollections. His existence is then not only determined by the sorrow and also the joy of what lives in his ego-consciousness. What has developed in the subconscious also plays a part. Thus man becomes truly as he really is.

Here we can see that spiritual science rightly understood is destined to work fruitfully in all spheres of life. A person who has gone through the gate of death is unable to bring about any change in his relation to those around him, and the same is true of the others in relation to him. An immutability in the connections has set in. But a sphere of change does remain that is in the relationship of the dead to the living. Inasmuch as they have had a relationship on earth with those who have died, the living are the only ones who can soothe the pain and alleviate the anguish of those who have gone through the gate of death. In many cases such as these, reading to the dead has proved fruitful.

A person has died. During his lifetime for [one] reason or another he did not concern himself with spiritual science. The one who remains behind on earth can know by means of spiritual science that the deceased has a burning thirst for spiritual science. Now if the one who remains behind concerns himself with thoughts of a spiritual nature as if the dead were there with him, he performs a great service to him. We can actually read to the dead. That enables the gulf that exists between the living and the dead to be bridged. The two worlds, the physical and the spiritual, are severed by materialism. Consider how their union will take hold of life itself! When spiritual science does not remain mere theory but becomes a life impulse as it should, there will not be separation but immediate communication. By reading to the dead we can enter in immediate connection with them and help them. The one who has avoided spiritual science will continue to feel the anguish of longing for it unless we help him. We can assist him from the earth if such a longing is at all present. By this means the living can help the dead.

It also is possible for the dead to be perceived by the living, although in our time the living do little to bring about such connections. Also in this respect spiritual science will take hold of life, will become a true life elixir. To understand in which way the dead can influence the living let us take the following as our starting point. What does man know about the world? Remarkably little if we only consider the things of the physical plane with mere waking consciousness. Man is aware of what happens out there in front of his senses and what he can construe by means of his intellect in relation to these happenings. Of all else he is ignorant. In general he believes that he cannot know anything apart from what he observes by means of sense perception. But there is much else that does not happen and yet is of considerable importance. What does this mean?

Let us assume that we are in the habit of going to work at eight o'clock every morning. On one occasion, however, we are delayed by five minutes. Apart from the fact that we arrive five minutes late nothing unusual has happened apparently. Yet, upon closer consideration of all the elements involved, we might become aware that precisely on that day, if we had left at the correct time we would have been run over. That means that had we left at the right time we would no longer be alive.

Or what is also possible and might have occurred is that a person might have been prevented by a friend from sailing on the Titanic. He might feel that had he sailed he surely would have been drowned! That this was karmically planned is another matter. But do think, when you consider life in this way, of how little you are in fact aware. If noting of what might have taken place has happened, then you are simply unaware of it. People do not pay attention to the countless possibilities that exist in the world of actual events.

You might say that surely this is of no importance. For the outer events it matters little, yet it is of importance that you were not killed. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we might have known that there was a high probability of being killed. If, for instance, we had not missed the train that was involved in a major accident. One cannot mention all possible cases and yet they happen constantly on a small scale. Certainly, for the external course of events we only need know what can be observed.

Let us assume that we definitely know that something would have happened had we not missed the train. Such a knowledge makes an inner impression on us, and we might say that we have been saved in a remarkable way by good fortune. Consider the many possibilities that confront people. How much richer would our soul lives be if we could know all the things that play into life and yet do not happen! Today people only consider the poverty-stricken sequence of what has actually occurred.

It is as if one were to consider a field with its many ears of wheat and reflect that from it a relatively small number of seeds will be sown. Countless others will not sprout and will go in another direction. What might happen to us is related to what actually occurs as the many grains of wheat that do not sprout are related to those that sprout and carry ears. This is literally so, for the possibilities in life are infinite. Moments in which especially important things for us in the world of probability are taking place are also particularly favorable moments for the dead to draw near. Let us suppose that a person left five minutes early, and as a result his life was preserved. At a particular moment he was saved from an accident, or it might also happen that in such a manner a joyful event escaped him. A dream picture that imparts a message from the dead can enter life at such moments. But people live crudely. As a rule, the finer influences that constantly play into life go unheeded. In this respect, spiritual science refines the feelings and sensations. As a result, man will sense the influence of the dead and will experiences a connection with him. The gulf between the living and the dead is bridged by spiritual science that becomes a true life elixir.

The next sphere after death is the so-called Venus sphere In this sphere we become hermits if on earth we have had an irreligious disposition. We become sociable spirits if we bring a religious inclination with us. Inasmuch as in the physical world we are able to feel our devotion to the Holy Spirit, so in the Venus sphere shall we find all those of a like inclination towards the divine spiritual. Men are grouped according to religious and philosophic trends in the Venus sphere. On earth it is so that both religious striving and religious experience still play a dominant part. In the Venus sphere the grouping is purely according to religious confession and philosophic outlook. Those who share the same world-conception are together in large, powerful communities in the Venus sphere. They are not hermits. Only those are hermits who have not been able to develop any religious feeling and experience.

For instance, the monists, the materialists of our age, will not be sociable, but lonely beings. Each one will be as if encaged in the Venus sphere. There can be no question of a Monistic Union because by virtue of the monistic conception each member is condemned to loneliness. The fact that each is locked in his cage has not been thought out. It is mentioned so that souls may be brought to an awareness of reality as compared to the fanciful theories of monism that have been elaborated on earth. In general we can say that we come together with those of the same world-conception, of the same faith as ourselves. Other confessions are hard to understand in the Venus sphere.

This is followed by the Sun sphere. Only what bridges the differences between the various religious confessions can help us in the Sun sphere. People do not find it easy to throw bridges from one confession to another because they are so entrenched in their own views. A real understanding for one who thinks and feels differently is particularly difficult. In theory such an understanding is often claimed, but matters are quite different when it is a question of putting theory into practice.

One finds, for instance, that many who belong to the Hindu religion speak of a common kernel in all religions. They in fact, however, only refer to the common kernel of the Hindu and Buddhist religions. The adherents of the Hindu and Buddhist religions speak in terms of a particular egoism. They are caught in a group egoism.

 One might insert here a beautiful Estonian legend about group egoism that tells of the origin of languages. God wished to bestow the gift of language on humanity by means of fire. A great fire was to be kindled and the different languages were to come about by having men listen to the peculiarities of the sounds of the fire. So the Godhead called all the peoples of the earth to assemble so that each might learn its language. Prior to the gathering, however, God gave preference to the Estonians and taught them the divine-spiritual language, a loftier mode of speech. Then the others drew near and were allowed to listen to how the fire was burning, and as they heard it they learned to understand the various sounds. Certain peoples preferred by the Estonians came first when the fire was still burning quite strongly. When the fire was reaching its end the Germans had their turn, for the Estonians are not particularly fond of the Germans. In the feebly crackling fire one heard, “Deitsch, peitsch; deitsch, peitsch” (German, whip). Then followed the Lapps of whom the Estonians are even less fond. One only heard, “Lappen latchen” (Lapp, lash). By that time the fire was reduced to mere ashes, and the Lapps, brought forth the worst language of all because the Estonians and the Lapps are deadly enemies. Such is the extent of the Estonians' group egoism.

A similar group egoism is true of most peoples when they speak of penetrating to the essential core common to all religious creeds. In this respect, Christianity is absolutely not the same as all the other creeds. If, for example, the attitude in the West was comparable to that toward the Hindu religion, then old Wotan still would reign as a national god. The West has not acknowledged a ruling divinity to be found within its own area, but one outside it. That is an important difference between it and the Hinduism and Buddhism. In many respects, Western Christianity is not permeated by religious egoism. Religiously it is more selfless than the Eastern religions. This is also the reason why a true knowledge and experience of the Christ impulse can bring man to a right connection with his fellow men, irrespective of the confessions they acknowledge.

In the Sun sphere between death and rebirth it is really a matter of an understanding that enables us not only to come together with those of a like confession, but also to form a relationship with mankind as a whole. If sufficiently broadly understood in its connection with the Old Testament religion, Christianity is not one-sided. Attention has been drawn previously to something of considerable importance that should be recognized. You will recall that one of the most beautiful sayings of Christ, “Ye are Gods,” is reminiscent of the Old Testament. Christ points to the fact that a divine spark, a god dwells in every human being. You are all Gods; you will be on a par with the Gods.

It is a lofty teaching of Christ that points man to his divine nature, that he can become like God. You can become God-like, a wonderful and deeply moving teaching of Christ! Another being has used the same words, and it is indicative of the Christian faith that another being has done so. At the opening of the Old Testament Lucifer approaches man. He takes his starting point — and therein lies the temptation — with the words, “You shall be as Gods.” Lucifer at the beginning of the temptation in Paradise and later Christ Jesus use the same words! We touch here upon one of the deepest and most important aspects of Christianity because this indicates that it is not merely a matter of the content of the words, but of which being in the cosmic context utters them. In the last Mystery Drama it had to be shown that the same words have a totally different meaning according to whether spoke by Lucifer, Ahriman or the Christ. We touch here upon a deep cosmic mystery, and it is important that we should develop an understanding for the words, “Ye are Gods” and “Ye shall be as Gods,” uttered on one occasion by the Christ, on the other by Lucifer.

We must consider that between death and rebirth we also dwell in the Sun sphere where a thorough understanding of the Christ impulse is essential. We must bring this understanding along with us from the earth, for Christ once did dwell in the Sun but, as we know, He descended from the Sun and united Himself with the earth. We have to carry Him up to the Sun period, and then we can become sociable beings through the Christ impulse and learn to understand Him in the sphere of the Sun.

We must learn to discriminate between Christ and Lucifer, and in our time this is only possible by means of anthroposophy. The understanding of Christ that we bring with us from the earth leads us as far as the Sun sphere. There it acts as a guide, so to speak, from man to man, irrespective of creed or confession. But we encounter another being in the Sun sphere who utters words that have virtually the same content. That being is Lucifer. We must have acquired on earth an understanding of the difference between Christ and Lucifer, for Lucifer is now to accompany us through the further spheres between death and rebirth.

So you see, we go through the Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Sun spheres. In each sphere we meet, to begin with, what corresponds to the inner forces that we bring with us. Our emotions, urges, passions, sensual love, unite us to the Moon sphere. In the Mercury sphere we meet everything that is due to our moral imperfections; in the Venus sphere all our religious shortcomings; in the Sun sphere, everything that severs us from the purely human.

Now we proceed to other spheres that the occultists terms the spheres of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Here Lucifer is our guide and we enter into a realm that bestows new forces upon us. Just as here we have the earth below us, so there in the cosmos we have the Sun below us. We grow into the divine-spiritual world, and as we do so we must hold fast in memory what we have brought with us of the Christ impulse. We can only acquire this on earth and the more deeply we have done so, the farther we can carry it into the cosmos. Now Lucifer draws near to us. He leads us out into a realm we must cross in order to be prepared for a new incarnation. There is one thing we cannot dispense with unless Lucifer is to become a threat to us, and that is the understanding of the Christ impulse, of what we have heard about Christ during our life on earth. Lucifer approaches us out of his own accord during the period between birth and death, but Christ must be received during earthly life.

We then grow into the other spheres beyond the Sun. We become ever larger, so to speak. Below us we have the Sun and above, the mighty, vast expanse of the Starry heavens. We grow into the great cosmic realm up to a certain boundary, and as we grow outward cosmic forces work upon us from all directions. We receive forces from the mighty world of the stars into our widespread being.

We reach a boundary, then we begin to contract and enter again into the realms through which we have traveled previously. We go through the Sun, Venus, Mercury and Moon spheres until we come again into the neighborhood of the earth and everything that has been carried out in the cosmic expanse has concentrated itself again in an embryo borne by an earthly mother.

This is the mystery of man's nature between death and a new birth. After he has gone through the gate of death he expands ever more from the small space of the earth to the realms of Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. We have then grown into cosmic space, like giant spheres. After we as souls have received the forces of the universe, of the stars, we contract again and carry the forces of the starry world within us. This explains out of spiritual science how in the concentrated brain structure an imprint of the total starry heavens may be found. In fact, our brain does contain an important secret.

We have yet another mystery. Man has gathered himself together, incarnated in a physical body to which he comes by way of his parents. He has journeyed so far during his expansion in cosmic space that he has recorded his particular characteristics there. As we gaze from the earth upward to the heavens, there are not only stars but also our characteristics from previous incarnations. If, for instance, we were ambitious in previous earth lives, then this ambition is recorded in the starry world. It is recorded in the Akasha Chronicle, and when you are here on the earth at a particular spot, this ambition comes to you with the corresponding planet in a certain position and makes its influence felt.

That accounts for the fact that astrologers do not merely consider the stars and their motions but will tell you that here is your vanity, there is your ambition, your moral failing, your indolence; something you have inscribed into the stars is now working out of the starry worlds onto the earth and determines your destiny. What lives in our souls is recorded in the vastness of space and it works back from space during our life on earth as we journey here between birth and death. If we truly understand them, these matters touch us closely, and they enable us to explain many things.

I have concerned myself a great deal with Homer. Last summer during my investigations into the conditions between death and rebirth I came upon the immutability of the connections after death. Here, in a particular passage, I had to say to myself that the Greeks called Homer the blind poet because he was such a great seer. Homer mentions that life after death takes place in a land where there is no change. A wonderfully apt description! One only learns to understand this through the occult mysteries. The more one strives in this direction, the more one realizes that the ancient poets were the greatest seers and that much that is secretly interwoven in their works requires a considerable amount of understanding.

I would like to mention something that happened to me last autumn and which is quite characteristic. At first, I resisted it because it was so astonishing, but it is one of those cases where objectivity wins. In Florence we find the tombs of Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici by Michelangelo. The two brothers are portrayed together with four allegorical figures. These figures are well known, but at a first visit it occurred to me that something was not quite right with this group. It was clear to me that the one described as Giuliano is Lorenzo, and vice versa. The figures, which can be removed, had obviously been interchanged on some occasion and it has gone unheeded. That is why the statue of Giuliano is said to be that of Lorenzo, and vice versa. But I am really concerned here with the four allegorical figures.

Let us first deal with this wonderful statue, “Night.” It cannot be understood simply in terms of an allegory. If, however, knowing about the etheric body and imagining it in its full activity, one were to ask, “What is the most characteristic gesture corresponding to the etheric body when it is free from the astral body and ego?” the answer would be the gesture as given by Michelangelo in “Night.” In fact, “Night” is so molded that it gives a perfect representation of the free, independent etheric body, expressed by means of the forms of the physical body when the astral body and ego are outside it. This figure is not an allegory, but represents the combination of the physical and etheric bodies when the astral body and ego are outside them. Then one understands the position of the figure. It is historically the truest expression of the vitality of the etheric body.

One comes to see the figure of “Day” as the expression of the ego when it is most active and least influenced by the astral, etheric and physical bodies. This is portrayed in the strange gesture and position of Michelangelo's “Day.” We obtain the gesture of the figure “Dawn” when the astral body is active, independent form the physical and etheric bodies and the ego, and of “Dusk” when the physical body is active without the other three members.

I struggled long against this piece of knowledge and to begin with thought it quite absurd; yet the more one gets into it, the more it compels one to recognize the truth of the script contained in these sculptures. It is not that Michelangelo was conscious of it. It sprang from his intuitive creative power. One also understands the meaning of the legend that tells that when Michelangelo was alone in his studio, the figure “Night” became endowed with life, and would move around freely. It is a special illustration of the fact that one is dealing with the etheric body. The spirit works into everything in art as in the evolution of humanity. One learns to understand the world of the senses only if one grasps how the spirit works into sensible reality.

There is a beautiful saying by Kant. He says, “There are two things that have made a specially deep impression on me, the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” It is particularly impressive when we realize that both are really one and the same. Between death and rebirth we are spread out over the starry realms and receive their forces into ourselves, and during our life in a physical body the forces we have gathered are active within us as moral impulses. Looking up to the starry heavens we may say that we dwell among the forces that are active out there during the period between death and rebirth. This now becomes the guiding principle of our moral life. The starry heavens outside the moral law within are one and the same reality. They constitute two sides of that reality. We experience the starry realms between death and rebirth, the moral law between birth and death.

When we grasp this, spiritual science grows into a mighty prayer. For what is a prayer but that which links our soul with the divine-spiritual permeating the world. We must make it our own as we go through the experiences of the world of the senses. Inasmuch as we strive consciously towards this goal, what we learn becomes a prayer of its own accord. Here spiritual knowledge is transformed immediately into feeling and experience, and that is how it should be. However much spiritual science might work with concepts and ideas, they will nevertheless be transformed into pure sensations and prayer-like feelings. That is what our present time requires. Our time needs to experience the cosmos by living into a consideration of the spirit in which the study itself takes on the nature of a prayer. Whereas the study of the external physical world becomes ever more dry, scholarly and abstract, the study of spiritual life will become more heartfelt and deeper. It will take on the quality of prayer, not in a one-sided sentimental sense but by virtue of its own nature. Then man will not know merely as a result of abstract ideas and the divine that permeates the universe is also in him. He will realize as he advances in knowledge that he truly has experienced it during life between the last death and a new birth. He will know that what he experienced then is now in him as the inner riches of his life.

Such considerations, related as they are to recent research, help us to gain an understanding of our own development. Then spiritual science will be abler to transform itself into a true spiritual life blood. We shall often speak further about these matters in the future.




Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com
[Spacing]