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Karmic Relationships:
Esoteric Studies - Volume II

By Rudolf Steiner

Translated by George Adams
with revisions by M. Cotterell, C. Davy and D. S. Osmond
Bn/GA 236

At the end of his life Rudolf Steiner took up the task that was his special destiny; to bring to the West a knowledge of reincarnation and karma. To do this he gave over eighty lectures in 1924 in which he explicitly and concretely revealed the destinies of various individuals from one life to the next in order to show how the general laws of karma operate in individual cases. He also revealed many details of the karmic streams of the members of the Anthroposophical Society. These volumes constitute an immeasurable contribution to the understanding of reincarnation and karma, and the tasks of the Anthroposophical Society in connection with the Archangel Michael.

Sixteen lectures given at Dornach, Switzerland, between 6th April and 29th June, 1924. Published here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer. The original texts of the lectures are contained in Vol. II of the series entitled Esoterische Betrachtungen karmischer Zusammenhänge in the Complete Edition of Rudolf Steiner's works. (No. 236 in the Bibliographical Survey, 1961).

Copyright © 1974
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 Cover Sheet  
Publisher's Note
Editorial Note
Lecture I: F. Bacon, Comenius, Marx, Engels, Otto Hausner April 06, 1924

Examples of karmic relationships. Lord Bacon of Verulam and Amos Comenius. Marx and Engels. Otto Hausner.

Lecture II: The Esoteric Trend in the Anthroposophical Movement April 12, 1924

The esoteric trend in the Anthroposophical Movement. Souls united by karma work together in their pre-earthly existence. Leopold von Ranke, influenced in his pre-earthly life by Bacon of Verulam. Schlosser by Amos Comenius. One incarnation works across into later incarnations. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer.

Lecture III: The Study of History and the Observation of Man April 23, 1924

Study of history must centre around observation of man. The fruits of earlier epochs are carried over into later times by human beings themselves. Pestalozzi. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. Emerson. Herman Grimm.

Lecture IV: Reincarnation of Former Initiates, Ibsen, Wedekind, Hölderlein April 26, 1924

Reincarnations of former Initiates. Differences in the successive earthly lives. Adaptation to new conditions of civilisation. Earlier knowledge is submerged but not lost; it merely takes a different form of expression. The great question in the Mysteries of Asia Minor during the early Christian centuries. The ancient Initiate-wisdom of earlier lives presses its way from the heart into artistic, poetic creation. Ibsen, Frank Wedekind, Hölderlein, Hamerling.

Lecture V: Wonder in Everyday Life, Nero, Crown Prince Rudolf April 27, 1924

The attitude of wonder towards the things of everyday life. Types of character emerge from events in history, becoming impulses of soul in subsequent earthly lives. The Emperor Nero. The Crown Prince Rudolf. Good and evil viewed in the light of karma. The problem of destiny. Temple architecture. Meditation in pictures. The Goetheanum Building — an education for vision of karma.

Lecture VI: The Study of Karma and Moral Life May 04, 1924

The study of karma has value only when it flows into the moral life. Man is little inclined to detach himself from his own being and to give himself wholly to another. Spiritual endeavour is fraught with the danger of enhanced egoism. Karmic adjustment between death and a new birth. Karma casts its shadows or its light in advance. Practical exercises for the vision of karma. Through ‘thinking away’ the physical man, the impulses of Saturn, Sun and Moon become visible behind him.

Lecture VII: Perception of Karma May 09, 1924

Perception of karma attained gradually through inner activity of soul. The beginning of the path to knowledge is to fill our thoughts with the infinitely wise provisions made in the world; then we must be able to wait. Insight into karmic connections can be stimulated by picturing vividly something experienced during the day; during the night the astral body gives shape to the picture in the outer ether which impregnates it with its own substance; the picture is further elaborated during the second and third days and nights by the etheric body and it is then received into the physical body, spiritualised and transformed. Spiritual exertion is essential if will is to be transformed into vision. In the study of karma, absolute clarity and soundness of head and heart must prevail.

Lecture VIII: Karmic Connections in Relation to the Physical May 10, 1924

Karmic connections in relation to the physical. Studies that approach the study of karma from the side of the bodily form, the physiognomy and the external manifestations of the human being in the physical world. Certain types of character point back to definite behaviour in the previously earthly life. Matter is the outer revelation of the spiritual. The human form and its possibilities of movement are an image of the spiritual world. Head, rhythmic system, metabolic-limb system, in the stream of karmic development.

Lecture IX: The Inner Configuration of Karma, Reading World Script, Ten Aristotelian Concepts May 11, 1924

The inner configuration of karma. The shaping of karma is connected with the primeval Teachers of humanity who now have their dwelling-place in the Moon. The magic power of these Moon Beings. The pictures of man's deeds in the ‘negative’. The strong impressions of life in the soul-world on the backward journey after death. In the region of the Moon Beings the pictures of earthly experiences are imbued with cosmic substance. Reading the World-Script in the light of the ten Aristotelian concepts. Observation of the backward journey after death of two individualities: the prototype of Strader in the Mystery Plays, and Jacob Frohschammer. The transformation of man's being after death in a sphere of reality utterly different from earthly reality. The seed of karma and the ‘negatives’ inscribed into the cosmic ether are received into the earthly will when the individual returns to incarnation.

Lecture X: Terrestrial and Extra-terrestrial Shaping of Karma May 16, 1924

The terrestrial world and the extra-terrestrial world work quite differently upon the shaping of karma. The transition from life shared with the Moon Beings to life shared with the higher Hierarchies. Journey through the planetary spheres. What is in essence human derives from the Sun-existence; the earthly is but an image. Bad karma is left behind before man enters the Sun-existence; it is found again in the Moon-sphere on the return from cosmic existence. Homunculus in Goethe's Faust. Predisposition to health arises in the Sun-existence; predisposition to illness is engendered in the region below that of Sun-existence. In the world of the Second Hierarchy, natural laws are without validity. In the region of the First Hierarchy, the spiritual laws are transformed into the physical.

Lecture XI: Beings of the Spiritual World and the Shaping of Karma May 18, 1924

Beings of the spiritual world and the part they play in human karma. Man's connection with the beings of the kingdoms of nature and with the higher Hierarchies of spiritual Beings. Karmic demands and karmic fulfilments. Unborn-ness and Immortality. Modern cleverness and its failure to give support in the later years of life. Concrete reality of man's relation to the higher Hierarchies.

Lecture XII: Influence of the Hierarchies, Planetary Beings, Voltaire May 29, 1924

Influence of the Hierarchies and reflections of the planetary Beings. Imaginative and Inspired consciousness. Life after death in the planetary spheres. Elaboration of karma in union with the higher spiritual Beings. Voltaire. Eliphas Levi. Victor Hugo.

Lecture XIII: Understanding Karmic Connections May 30, 1924

Understanding of karmic connections depends upon insight into what is happening in the world behind man's ordinary consciousness, therefore upon super-sensible cognition. Survey of the life-tableau. In acts of Imaginative and Inspired knowledge man still remains within the physical body. The physical body as the bearer of spiritual Beings. Karma is shaped by the gods who are working within the human being. Freedom is acquired through the development of the Consciousness Soul. Human destiny an affair of the gods. Tranquil acceptance of destiny kindles forceful and strong spiritual impulses. Scenes in the Mystery Plays.

Lecture XIV: The Study of Problems Connected with Karma June 22, 1924

Concerning the sense of responsibility in regard to communications from the spiritual world. Spiritual science and the writing of a biography. How and where does higher vision perceive karma working in the life of a man? Deeds of the day are translated, integrated into karma during sleep. During sleep man has memory-experiences of his own lives on earth. Behind the cosmic thoughts live the Hierarchies, just as our own human being lives behind our memory-thoughts. Karma is contained in the ‘section’ of the cosmos allotted to each of us by the Hierarchies who look back over our previous earthly lives.

Lecture XV: Groups of Human Souls United by their Karma June 27, 1924

Groups of human souls united by their karma. The connection of events in Nature with the karma of humanity. The influence of karma upon external Nature in volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and similar phenomena. Behind and through the workings of the Sun weave the Beings of the Second Hierarchy. The “Midnight Sun”. From the world of the Second Hierarchy the Third Hierarchy rays on us during sleep through the traces of our thoughts left behind in the etheric body. Into the weaving and working of the Second Hierarchy there strikes the First Hierarchy. These two Hierarchies together are concerned with man's astral body and Ego. Initiation-vision in cult and ritual. “True ritual comes into existence as a copy of happenings in the spiritual world”.

Lecture XVI: Karma Viewed from the Standpoint of World History June 29, 1924

Karma viewed from the standpoint of world-history. Social systems created under the influence of materialistic thinking. Events in elemental Nature and events due to civilisation. Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers play into the deeds wrought by the gods for man. Difference in the karmic consequences of Nature-catastrophes and catastrophes due to civilisation. Moon-forces remaining in the earth are stirred into activity and used by the Ahrimanic forces. Nature-catastrophes lead to the introduction of an earthly element into the spiritual worlds. The karmic consequence of Nature-catastrophes and of catastrophes brought about by civilisation is enhancement of the intellectual faculties of the will respectively, in the next earthly life. Through misguided impulses in civilisation a Luciferic element is carried into the spiritual world, working in that world as darkness, of which Ahriman can avail himself. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc. The good gods lead human destinies again into the paths of righteousness and justice. The destiny of men is in-woven with the destiny of gods. Knowledge of karma is the holy ground of the spirit where we reach out for the hands of the gods.

Relevant Literature
Summarised Plan of the Complete Edition of Rudolf Steiner's works in the original German

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