Steiner Online Library Spiritual Science for Human Evolution

The Inner Nature of Man and the Life Between Death and a New Rebirth
GA 153

Synopsis of Contents

This Synopsis of Contents is in no way authoritative but is merely intended for the possible convenience of students:

Lecture I

9th April, 1914

Thought, Feeling, Will and the Sense-perceptions. The value to us of Perception and Thought is in their relation to the outer world. Feeling and Will are more interior in their value and constitute man's true inner nature. Feeling though inward can be shared with others, but two Wills cannot unite in a single object. Will constitutes the individual worth of each human being. The above is an exoteric consideration. Esoterically it is different. Spiritual investigator is affected in his vision by what he consciously intended. Intention is most important. Hence great variation is possible. These lectures will investigate what clairvoyant consciousness discovers in the human life of Perception, Thought, Feeling, Will. Perception of outer world becomes an inner world. One goes out of the body with the intention of becoming acquainted with the inner man, and one meets the human form. It is a body of light. As regards thought, one sees at this time in this body of light, the darkening waves of the etheric body — a spiritual blood circulation. Feeling in this connection is also different in the spiritual world. What was only felt in physical life now comes to life as inner soul content. The astral body — and innumerable stars in motion — this is the spiritual substitute for Feeling in the physical. Now we let all this fade away, there comes an image of our own being — ‘personified karma.’ The next stage of consciousness is one where one sees this personified karma in one's muscular system. We then come to what corresponds with Will, and we realise our connection not only with the planets but with the sun, and we experience the Ego outside the body. Next comes necessity for being and for decay. We see the Beings causing both and we see the skeleton which they have created. For all this a whole planetary system has been necessary and we realise we are born from a source divine Ex Deo Nascimur.

Lecture II

10th April, 1914

This lecture explains the different ways of leaving the body (Bergson on Memory). The treasure of memory helps us to leave the body. Imagination is not bound by experience as memory is. We must strengthen our memory of the past events, and we shall then be able to discriminate between what comes from spiritual sources and what comes from our memory. We then push on to where we were before we incarnated. We described in Lecture 1 a means of leaving the body by going into Space. Lecture 2 describes going into Time which is a process much more inward and more important. There always has been and always will be a higher life of the soul. Religion. Is there a religion in spirit-land, or something that can have the same reference to the super-sensible world as we have in everyday life? The answer is ‘Yes’! In the spirit-world religion is experienced as a picture of ‘the Human Ideal.’ We learn that this is the work of the hierarchies, this is the religion of the gods. All this exists in the dimension of Time. There is no religion there founded on knowledge. There we have the content of religion always before us. On earth our teachers speak to us, but during the second half of our post-mortem existence spiritual teachers pour their light into us. The forces which our spiritual post-mortem teachers can give us, depend greatly on what we have made of ourselves in previous incarnations. Then comes the great temptation to become a permanent spiritual being and to remain in spiritual worlds. Lucifer up to this time has helped us but wishes to prevent our return to help the human ideal. A big battle ensues between Lucifer and the gods. And the human ideal is thrown out from the dimension of Time into the dimension of Space, a magnetic attraction is felt to the future parents, and the human ideal is veiled from Lucifer by being enveloped in a physical body. Man now no longer sees the spirit-world, he is a sense body, where Spirits watch over his development. Spiritual wisdom in our unconscious existence, controls us upon earth, because we have to be withdrawn for a time from the vision of what would be a temptation. The Guardian of the Threshold protects us, but the gods hide from us. Our present existence has been lent us by the gods. They rule the inner soul which we cannot guide. This knowledge is deeper than that which we learned in Lecture I, but it leads to the same statement — Ex Deo Nascimur.

Lecture III

11th April, 1914

Our eyes cause a sensation of light and colour. With this comes Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition in the background; and a sort of corpse of colour is the result. The Guardian allows sensation to enter our consciousness, but does not allow Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition to enter; Lucifer otherwise sends this impulse into our sub-consciousness and thus fighting against the gods, serves their designs; because if he had his way, our physical body would be like a pane of glass without any rejecting substance, But the physical body becomes permeated with ‘corpses’ which resemble the reflecting substance, reflect everything and thus originate sense perceptions. True thought does not consist in sense perception, it is more interior. It does not touch the physical body but the etheric body. That which permeates thought as a living force enters into the etheric body. We do not perceive the elemental forces swarming through us. Shadow pictures appear as thinking. In this case of thinking, conflict occurs with Ahriman, and thus thoughts do not appear alive, but sink into the etheric and become opaque spiritual obscurity. But thus reflection occurs back to the time to which our memory extends. Memory consists in thoughts reflected in Time. The good powers re-animate in the etheric body what has died in the physical body. The meaning of ‘before’ and ‘afterwards.’ Ahriman's action prevents our using Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition in the present and delays our spiritualisation. This works out for our good. In Feeling, Spirit Beings live but they do not enter our consciousness. Feeling is only half barn in us. The same with willing, but more so, as it is the Causal Being, living in the Sun that is hidden from us though forming part of the Will. That which lives in Feeling and Will, but remains unborn is Karma in process of development. That which remains unborn in our Feelings lives in the Astral body; that which remains unborn in our Will lives in our Ego. Inner dissatisfaction comes from pressure of the subconscious part of Feeling and Will. Everyone possesses the knowledge of Saturn, Sun, Moon, but it is below his consciousness. He would prefer not to remain on earth if he saw it directly. Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition is what we have gone through in the past; and to regain this knowledge we must pass beyond the veil of sense perception. The dead part in us of past evolution is illumined by what we can acquire of Spiritual Science. The only ideas which are active after death are those which do not depend on the brain or on our senses. Religious conceptions become active forces in us after death. The use of Spiritual Science. Full consciousness of the Ego can only be obtained by development of the phantom-corpse. The phantom-corpse: — Each act of Perceiving the sense world brings death. Each act of Feeling and each act of Willing brings about something that remains unborn; all this we can only use after death. We re-create it as a new form of consciousness when we let it flow into the Christ Being — In Christo Morimur.

Lecture IV

12th April, 1914

On Earth, Nature does not yield up its wisdom to us unless we try to acquire it. In the spirit-world, wisdom pours into us without effort. But we have to deplete ourselves of it in order that the wisdom transformed may become the life forces driving us towards the ideal of humanity. This is the only right way to approach a fresh incarnation. We need this life force to permeate the substance received from our parents. A lie — its effect in the spirit-world. Effect of laziness, and illness in the spirit-world. Things of this spirit-world must be grasped through our Feelings. Spiritual Science should never be taken up like other sciences. It should be life-blood. The practical results of Spiritual Science in life. It gives the instinct and powers to work well, to do the right thing. Karma and the cure of illness. As nature surrounds us on the physical plane, so does wisdom surround us in the spiritual. In the physical world we are always questioning nature; in the spiritual world the opposite occurs. To help us to answer we must become more and more conscious of the Spirit impulse. The “question-motif” in fairy-tales. In the spirit-world our wisdom depends on the development of Will and Feeling, bringing reality out of wisdom as something creative. The form of nature depends on spiritual creative power. Most philosophers admit God the Father — Monotheism. Christ cannot be found by any philosophy or method of thought. Solovioff: ‘The highest truth works as a free act and is not forced.’ Christ the Son is not the result of Christ the Father, but is a free and independent matter. In the spirit-world the important thing is to create as a free reality something out of the cosmic wisdom that surrounds us. This can only be done by a right realisation of Christ. We prove Him not by logic but by Himself. God the Father we find in life and nature. Christ is only rightly found when we confront Him in the right way at death, meaning death in the physical or going forth from the physical to know oneself in the soul, outside the body — In Christo Morimur.

Lecture V

13th April, 1914

At death, the inner experience is that of leaving something behind, the physical returns to the physical. The first experience after death is the feeling of expansion beyond the blue for nothing else. We now become ‘at home’ in the spirit-world and recognise the friends we have known and the Beings of higher hierarchies. The difference in recognition is that on earth we become aware of things through our senses, from the outer world. In the spirit-world we become aware by means of the light streaming from within. We now reach half-way between death and new birth, our soul-light now begins to grow dim. We become solitary; but the contents of our soul become richer. The periods of companionship alternate with solitude. We now reach the description of the world's midnight in the ‘Soul's Awakening.’ We now have the strongest inward life but not the creative soul force enabling us to illuminate our environment. We only know about ourselves. In the physical world desire is passive, in the spirit-world it is creative. At this point we now begin to yearn to create an outer world and we have a vision of our past incarnations. In all this the feeling of the Ego must be preserved. Before Golgotha this was preserved by the forces of inheritance. Since Golgotha it is the permeation with the Christ Impulse that gives the power to maintain the remembrance of the Ego. The Christ Impulse brings us to the midnight of the world: our desire towards creation illuminates our being and we learn to know the ‘New Spirit’ that awakens us and illuminates our human past. This being is the Holy Ghost. ‘Holy’ means a Spirit without the weakness of one that lives in the body — Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.

Lecture VI

14th April, 1914

At the ‘world midnight’ our inner experience is most intense, and our spiritual companionship is least. We begin to long for action and we look back at our past life. We see our past pleasures and we have the alternative of creating out of them something that may be useful or allowing ourselves to degenerate in the past pleasures. We have become debtors to the world. But we become aware that the transformation will take many incarnations. Some almost animal pleasures give intense pain to the spirit-world. Pain suffered on the physical plane gives spirit strength and will power towards creativeness on the spirit plane. Before and after the ‘world midnight’ we see again the friends we met on earth; but after the midnight we learn what we must do for them in the next incarnation. Concrete example of a lie and its result. The action of certain elementals who hinder a good resolution. By means of early death, forces are accumulated before the ‘midnight hour,’ which after the ‘midnight hour’ are used so that, in that person's next incarnation, he has more will and more character than otherwise. (This does not refer to suicides). Intellectual powers are often the result of death by accident before the normal time in a previous incarnation. Communication from living to dead is barred if those left behind on earth are not spiritual. Only spiritual experience throws light into spirit-worlds. The one in the spirit-world may, however, later, in his sojourn, have a vision of those left behind, but he then realises that the materialistically inclined are obsessed by Ahriman, until they reach the spirit-world and have liberated themselves from materialistic tendencies. It is only later that he experiences union with them. Those in spirit-world approach those on earth with a different point of view. There is no waste in life on earth, e.g., fish spawn, wheat-grain. People who come to spiritual lectures and turn aside. It may be necessary to bring them light, for it remains a force in their souls for the next incarnation. Mass production. Social life is a disease that will destroy itself. That which in one sphere works as nature works, may become a disease if it enters another sphere. These different views confront one at the ‘midnight hour,’ for from them one must work creatively on oneself. One realises not only one's intimate karma, but so as not to become one-sided the tendencies of religions and societies to which one has belonged. After ‘midnight hour’ this life still alternates between solitude and companionship, but one is meantime constructing a spiritual etheric-archetype for the next life in a spirit form. Within this archetype are forces drawing us to physical parents who can give hereditary attributes we shall need. The normal time for this is when we feel unity with what withdrew from us as the fruit of our former life. But we seldom wait for this. Usually we incarnate too soon. At the ‘midnight hour’ when in deepest solitude, we yearn for an outer world, the Holy Ghost fills our longing into a soul-light. Up to this point we must have kept connection with our Ego. It is due to Christ that we can keep this memory up to the ‘midnight hour.’ But we must accumulate more than just sufficient of this Christ Impulse. The surplus strengthens the impulse of the Holy Ghost. Like the case of excess of fish-spawn we must have a surplus of the Spirit when we incarnate. Theodora, in the Mystery Plays. More people must see the etheric Christ. The Spirit must first prepare by bringing sympathetic understanding. The Spirit will shine more and more even into drowsy man, even now when humanity is in its ‘spiritual death’ — Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.

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"You can see from this, my dear friends, what mischief will be set on foot if the truths of Spiritual Science are withheld. For man will be exposed to the forces of evil, and he will only be protected from it by giving himself up to the spiritual life of the good. To withhold the spiritual life of goodness from men is to be no friend to humanity. Whoever does this, be he Freemason or Jesuit, is no friend to humanity. For it means handing men over to the forces of evil. And there may be a purpose in doing so. This purpose may be to confine goodness to a small circle, in order by the help of this goodness to dominate the helpless humanity who are thus led by evil into the follies of life."

—Rudolf Steiner,
Spiritual Science Notes On Goethe's Faust, Vol. II, No. 273-8.

Spiritual Exercises

Calendar of the Soul

In 1912 Rudolf Steiner offered a “calendar of the soul” with weekly verses that express how the changing seasons in both the outer natural world and our inner lives help humanity evolve. Download and read the verses in four translations with commentary by Eloise Krivosheia of the Los Angeles Branch of the Anthroposophical Society.


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