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Earthly Death and Cosmic Life
By Rudolf Steiner
Copyright © 1927
Here Steiner presents the results of spiritual research into the
metamorphoses of the human physical body in the course of successive
Lectures 1 through 7 of 21 from the series entitled,
Dying Earth and Living World (Living Cosmos),
published in German as,
Erdensterben und Weltleben. Anthroposophische Lebensgaben.
Bewustseins-notwendigkeiten Fuer Gegenwart und Zukunft.
An authorized translation from a shorthand report unrevised by the
Lecturer, and edited by Harry Collison.
This volume is presented here with the kind permission of the Rudolf
Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.
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| ||Cover Sheet
|Synopsis of Contents
|Lecture 1. ||The Present Position of Spiritual Science
||January 22, 1918|
The War meditations.
Though civilisation moves at terrific pace, thinking remains slow and
rigid. History cannot be grasped by mere intellect. Its concepts do
not enter ordinary consciousness, but are more like the impulses in
our dream life. Hermann Grimm and Gibbon. Ranke. President Wilson.
Socialism. Karl Marx and his theories, where the intellect uses what
has become a corpse and builds on it in terms of natural science. His
theories are lifeless. America was known before 1492. History belongs
to the subconscious. Psycho-Analysis and Prof. Jung. History
and politics have nothing to do with ordinary consciousness, and can
only be understood and applied by what Spiritual Science calls the
‘imaginative consciousness.’ President Wilson and Don
Pedro of Brazil. Love cannot be preached; it belongs to the spirit
and its fruition can only be studied in light of cosmic evolution.
Socialism and the East.
|Lecture 2. ||A Contribution to our Knowledge of the Human Being
||January 29, 1918|
Art explains better than Science. Anatomy. In study we must
avoid mere analogies. The original causative forces for the formation
of man's head work from cosmos, and man's head is its image; the rest
of the skeleton is from heredity. Man's outer form has a twofold
origin. Man is twofold in perception — head and heart.
Wilsonism. Scholastic training only touches the head, and goes too
fast. When the head is 28 the rest is only about 7, in modern
education. A man should not mature for public life before 45. Between
death and re-birth we work on the head, and there is added something
for the rest of the organism. The older we grow the younger the
etheric, but in youth we must learn to supply spiritual ideas as
future youthful forces. Education. Nothing now is given to the head
that will enable it to reflect cosmic wisdom. Valentine of Bâle.
‘Early bird catches the worm.’ It is in spiritual matters
that man has become most materialistic. Inner sincerity is sadly
lacking. One must sometimes disregard enquirers into Anthroposophy.
Dr. Rittelmeyer. Johannes Müller's attacks.
|Lecture 3. ||The Living and the Dead
||February 05, 1918|
our sense perceptions we are awake, in
our ideas less so; in our feelings we are not awake. F. T. Vischer.
In our willing we are in profound sleep. In the sleeping part of us
we are living with the dead. We are only separated by our state of
consciousness. The third consciousness is that of waking or falling
asleep. In communicating with a dead man, he is in us and we in him.
On falling asleep we should put our questions to the dead and receive
answers on our awakening. We are not accustomed and therefore do not
understand such a language as when the dead speak in us and we from
the dead. In the super-sensible world time becomes space. The souls of
those dying young remain with us. The souls of those dying old take
part of our souls with them. On falling asleep we may address the
old, on awaking we hear the messages of the young. The dead children
bring religious feeling into our life, and their answers to us are
more universal and less individual than those of older people. We
become burdensome to those who died old if we have thoughts they
cannot entertain. Spirit was eliminated from Western humanity in 869,
at the 8th Council at Constantinople. W. Wundt.
|Lecture 4. ||The Cosmic Thoughts and our Dead
||March 05, 1918|
materialistic we are there
is something spiritual in the subconscious. We all die leaving
certain perceptions unexercised. They continue after death, giving a
desire to return and complete them. Formerly one could complete one's
life and its task. By our communion with the dead we can prevent our
perceptions from being lost. We can so discipline our thoughts as to
find the common ground for ourselves and the dead. A hindrance to
this is dissipation of thought. We must learn to be silent and wait
for inspiration. There is, besides what we see, hear and perceive, an
objective thought texture. This is the surging thought world out of
which the sense world has arisen. ‘The world of reality is but
the fabric of a dream.’ — Shakespeare. This can only be
reached by ceasing our prodigality of thought. This ‘thought
tissue’ is the common ground where we meet the dead. Finding
oneself. The feeling for Karma, and realisation of one's own
presence. Communion with the dead, by a remembered feeling of a joint
interest. These moments should then lie quiet while used to receive
answers from the dead. It is useful to develop an image of the dead
person's entity and in regard both to living and dead to gain
knowledge of another not by analysis but by harmony. Life is
impoverished if the dead are forgotten. It is best to think of those
connected with us by Karma. To-day the young consider themselves
mature enough to be Councillors of State, they would do better to go
to the dead for advice. The Oriental and the Western. Rabindranath
Tagore. The Goethe Society. Moszkowski. Socrates. No compromise
between truth and falsehood.
|Lecture 5. ||Man's Connection with the Spiritual World
||March 12, 1918|
Apparent waste in
Nature and Life. An example given of subconscious activity. Destiny.
Higher consciousness. Our head consciousness is a sieve, but the
subconscious part retains what goes through. Animals are all sieve,
experience goes right through. The difference is because animals have
no hands. Man has made his hands organs of thought. In the hands,
which develop subconscious thinking, destiny is seen. Animal
head rests over earth. Man's head rests on himself. This is due to
cosmos. Fatigue. Judgments of destiny pass through head and are
retained by hands. Judgments of thoughts and actions are guided
by the astral lotus flowers, and their light extends from space into
time. Because man is shut off below by his diaphragm he is linked by
his subconsciousness to his destiny. The difference between man and
animal is in orientation. The critic within man is usually
subconscious, but after death becomes conscious as he discerns the
light of the lotus flowers. A sense of humour is useful in Spiritual
Science. It defeats another mood that encroaches on Spiritual
Science. What is a busybody? What is his opposite?
|Lecture 6. ||Feelings of Unity and Sentiments of Gratitude: A Bridge to the Dead
||March 19, 1918|
existence of the Spirit world, or the beings in it, or the dead
in no way depends upon our state of consciousness. But it is easier
to have revelation of the hierarchies than of the dead. The concepts
of the Spiritual world are difficult for us to grasp because between
death and rebirth we are anticipating the life conditions of Jupiter
evolution. Man is in a sense disunited, but the Hierarchies are
united. If we first learn to understand the Hierarchies, it is
easier to communicate with the dead. Feeling of unity with all
things. We are united with all our actions, and they enter our karma
in the subconscious. Prosperity at the expense of others.
Feeling of real unity with the dead is essential, with love
sufficient for sacrifice. There is spiritual air between us and the
dead that prevents the hearing. The common error about memory. The
subconscious is usually grateful for every impression it gets; and
conduct and discernment do not enter into it. The dead can only
speak to us through the element which passes through the dreams
interwoven with our life, and we must take into our consciousness a
feeling of gratitude for our life. We must not wish them back; we
must be grateful they were with us. They are burdened by us, if we
feel we have lost them. The loss of a child. People do not avoid
thinking; they avoid effort. They avoid Spiritual Science, not
because it is difficult, but because an effort is needed to accept
its ideas. Those who find it easy are not always those who benefit.
The common ground where we meet the dead is the sense of gratitude
for our life here and for former companionship. This feeling of
gratitude quivers into the hands and arms.
|Lecture 7. ||Confidence in Life and Rejuvenation of the Soul: A Bridge to the Dead
||March 26, 1918|
psychic atmosphere required for communication between
living and dead. Gratitude and unity with environment connected
with our karma, also confidence and faith in life. The thoughts of
the dead can sail to us on this mood of confidence. Modern education
and mere memory. Only in regard to his head, man is in the stream of
evolution. The head is oldest, and it is only the head that
remembers former incarnations. The remaining organisms are
preliminary to later incarnations and only began with the old Moon
and were then a parasite. Kant and difficulties to understanding. The
brain is a transformed spinal cord, and the present spinal cord is
only an appendage. The head develops three or four times quicker than
the rest of the body; therefore education should give refreshment to
the head by means of the heart. Examination of teachers should be
directed to their heart, their power, and not to mere knowledge. When
we wish to talk to the dead, there is necessity of an ever-fresh and
hopeful outlook and confidence in our dead friends. Regrets for the
past are useless both as regards ourselves and others. One must build
up life hopes. The essentials repeated. A short but important
summary. The ego and astral if separate from the etheric and physical
are not yet sufficiently evolved to stand alone, but would merge with
other egos and astral. In the world after death man is singled out
and separate from other men because each one has his own starry
structure and belongs to this or that class of angel or archangel.
One soul may have similar stars to another, but not the same starry
structure. Nothing is worse than if by our impatience we conjure up a
mist before the soul.
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