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Manifestations of Karma
GA 120

6. The Relationships Between Karma and Accidents

21 May 1910, Hamburg

It is easily understood that karmic law can operate when, in the sense demonstrated, a cause of illness asserts itself from within man. But it is more difficult to understand that the experiences and actions of a previous life brought in by the individual at birth can provoke such illnesses as are the result of exterior causes—such illnesses as science calls infections. Nevertheless, if we go deeper into the true nature of karma, we shall learn not merely to understand how these external causes can be related to the experiences and deeds of earlier lives, but we shall also learn that accidents which befall us, events which we are prone to describe as chance, may stand in a definite relationship with the course of a previous life. We must indeed penetrate somewhat deeper into the whole nature of man's being if we wish to understand the conditions that are so veiled by our human outlook.

We saw yesterday how chance or accident always presents the external event in a veiled form, because in those instances where we speak of chance, the external deceptions created by the ahrimanic powers are the greatest possible. Now let us examine in detail how such accidents, that is to say those events that are generally called ‘accidents,’ come about.

Here it is necessary to bear in mind the law, the truth—the recognition that in life much of what we describe as ‘arising from within,’ or as ‘derived from the inner being of man’ is already clothed in illusion, because if we truly rise above illusion, we find that much of what we at first believe to have originated within man must be described as streaming in from outside. We always encounter this when we have to deal with those dispositions, those traits of character, which are summed up under the name of ‘hereditary characteristics.’ It seems as though these hereditary characteristics are a part of us only because our forbears had them, and it may appear to us in the most eminent degree as though they had fallen to our lot through no fault of our own, and without our co-operation. It is easy to arrive at a mistaken distinction between what we have brought from earlier incarnations and what we have inherited from our parents and forbears. When we reincarnate we do not come haphazard to such and such parents or to such and such a country. There is operating here a motive allied to our innermost being. Even in those hereditary characteristics which have nothing to do with illness, we must not assume anything haphazard. In the case of a family such as Bach's for instance, there were for many generations again and again more or less renowned musicians born (there were more than twenty more or less renowned musicians in Bach's family). We might well believe that this has purely to do with the line of heredity, that the characteristics are inherited from the forbears, and that as such characteristics are there, certain tendencies towards musical talent brought over from a previous incarnation will be unfolded. This is not so however; the facts are quite different.

Suppose that someone has the opportunity of receiving many musical impressions in a life between birth and death, that these musical impressions pass by him in this life, simply for the reason that he has not a musical ear. Other impressions which he receives in this life do not pass by him in the same way, because he has organs so formed that he can transform the experiences and impressions into capacities of his own. Here we can say that a person has impressions in the course of his life which are capable of being transformed into capacities and talents through the disposition which he has brought with him from his last birth; and he has other impressions, which on account of his general karma, because he has not received the suitable powers, he cannot transform into the corresponding capacities. They remain, they are stored up, and in the period between death and a new birth they are converted into the particular tendency to be expressed in the next incarnation. And this tendency leads the person to seek for reincarnation in a particular family which can provide him with the suitable organs. Thus if someone has received a great many musical impressions, and because of an unmusical ear, he was unable to transform them into musical capacities or enjoyment, this incapacity will be connected with the tendency in his soul to come into a family where he will inherit a musical ear. From this we shall now see that if a certain family inherits a certain construction of the ear—which can be inherited just as well as the external form of the nose—all those individuals who in consequence of their former incarnation long for a musical ear, will strive to come into this family. From this we see that, in fact, a person has not inherited a musical ear or a similar gift in a particular incarnation. ‘by chance,’ but that he has looked for and actually sought for the inherited characteristic.

If we observe such a person from the moment of his birth, it will seem to us as though the musical sense were within him, a quality of his inner being. If, however, we extend our investigation to the time before his birth, we shall find that the musical ear for which he had to seek is something that has come to him from outside.

Before his birth or conception the musical ear was not within him. There was only an impulse urging him to acquire such an ear. In this case man has drawn to himself something external. Before reincarnation the feature which is later termed hereditary was something external. It approached man, and he hastened to take it. At the moment of incarnation it became internal, and made its appearance within. Thus, in speaking of hereditary disposition, we suffer from a delusion, because we do not take into account the time when the inner quality was an external one.

Let us now enquire whether an external event occurring between birth and death, might not be the same as the case we have just now been discussing—whether it might be capable of being transformed into something internal. We cannot reply to this question without examining still more closely the nature of sickness and health. (We have given many instances in order to characterise sickness and health. And you know that I do not define, but try little by little to describe things, and to add ever more characteristics, so that they may gradually become comprehensible. So let us now add some more characteristics to those we have already collected.)

We must compare sickness and health with something that appears in normal life, namely, sleeping and waking, and we shall then find something of still greater significance. What is taking place within a human being when the daily states of sleeping and waking succeed one another? We know that when we sleep, the physical and the etheric body are abandoned by the astral body and the Ego, and that the awakening is a return of the astral body and Ego to the physical and etheric body. Every morning on waking, all that constitutes our inner being—astral body and Ego—dives down again into our physical and etheric bodies. What happens with regard to those experiences which a human being has when going to sleep and when awakening?

If we consider the moment of going to sleep, we see that all experiences which from morning to night fluctuated in our lives, especially the psychic experiences of joy and sorrow, happiness and pain, passions, imaginations, and so forth, sink down into the subconscious. In normal life, when asleep, we ourselves are unconscious. Why do we lose consciousness when we fall asleep? We know that during the state of sleep we are surrounded by a spiritual world, just as in the waking state we are surrounded by things and facts of the physical world of the senses. Why do we not perceive this spiritual world? Because in normal life to see the spiritual facts and spiritual things surrounding us at the present stage of human development between going to sleep and awakening, would prove dangerous in the highest degree. If the person were today to pass over consciously into the world which surrounds us between going to sleep and awakening, his astral body which gained its full development in the Ancient Moon period, would flow out into the spiritual world, but this could not be done by the Ego, which can be developed only during the Earth period, and which will have completed its Evolution at the end of the Earth period. The Ego is not sufficiently developed to be able to unfold the whole of its activity between falling asleep and awakening. If we were to fall asleep consciously, the condition of our Ego could be illustrated as follows. Let us suppose that we have a small drop of coloured liquid; we drop this into a basin of water and allow it to mix. The colour of that small drop will no more be seen because it has mixed with the whole mass of the water. Something of this nature happens when man in falling asleep leaves his physical and etheric bodies. The latter principles are those which hold together the whole of the human being. As soon as the astral body and Ego leave the two lower principles, they disperse in all directions, impelled always by this principle of expansion. Thus it would happen that the Ego would be dissolved, and we should indeed be able to envisage the pictures of the spiritual world, but should not be able to understand them by means of those forces which only the Ego can bring to bear—the forces of discernment, insight, and so forth—in short, with the consciousness we apply to ordinary life. For the Ego would be dissolved and we should be frenzied, torn hither and thither, swimming without individuality and without direction in the sea of astral events and impressions. For this reason, because in the case of the normal person the Ego is not sufficiently strong, it reacts upon the astral body and prevents it from entering consciously the spiritual world which is its true home, until there comes a time when the Ego will be able to accompany the astral body wherever it may penetrate. Thus there is a good reason for our losing consciousness when we fall asleep, for if it were otherwise, we should not be able to maintain our Ego. We shall be able sufficiently to maintain it only when our Earth evolution is achieved. That is why we are prevented from unfolding the consciousness of our astral body.

The very reverse takes place when we awaken. When we awaken and sink down into our physical and etheric bodies, we ought in reality to experience their inner nature. But this does not happen, for at the moment of waking we are prevented from regarding the inner nature of our corporeal being, because our attention is immediately directed to external events. Neither our faculty of sight nor our faculty of perception is directed towards penetration of the inner being, but is distracted by the external world. If we were immediately to apply ourselves to our inner being, there would be an exact reversal of the situation that would occur if we fell asleep and entered the spiritual world with our ordinary consciousness. Everything spiritual that we had acquired through our Ego in the course of our Earth life would then concentrate, and after our re-entry into the physical and etheric bodies, it would act upon them most powerfully, bringing about a tremendous increase of our egotism. We should sink down with our Ego; and all the passions, the desires, the greed, and the egotism of which we are capable would be concentrated within this Ego. All this egotism would pour away into the life of the senses. So that this may not happen we are distracted by the external world, and are not permitted to penetrate our inner being with our consciousness.

That this is so can be confirmed from the reports of those mystics who attempted really to penetrate the inner being of man. Let us consider Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler, and other mystics of the Middle Ages, who in order to descend into their own inner being dedicated themselves to a state in which their attention and interest was entirely turned away from the external world. Let us read the biographies of many Saints and Mystics who tried to descend into their inner selves. What was their experience? Temptations, tribulations, and similar experiences which they have depicted in vivid colours. These were compressed in the astral body and Ego, and made themselves felt as opposing forces. That is why all those who as Mystics have attempted to descend into the inner self found that the further they descended, the more were they impelled to an extinguishing of their Ego. Meister Eckhart found an excellent word to describe this descending into his own inner self. He speaks of ‘Ent Werdung,’ that is to say the extinction of the Ego. And we read in “;The Theologia Germanica”; (German Theology) how the author describes the mystic path into the inner human being, and how he insists that he who wishes to descend will act no longer through his own Ego, but that Christ with Whom he is fully permeated, will act within him. Such Mystics sought to extinguish their Ego. Not they themselves, but Christ within them should think, feel, and will, so that there may not emerge what dwells within them in the form of passion, desire and greed, but rather that which streams into them as Christ. That is why St. Paul says ‘Not I, but Christ in me.’

We can describe the processes of awakening and falling asleep as inner experiences of the human being: awakening as a sinking down of the compressed Ego into the corporeality of man, and falling asleep as a liberation from consciousness, because we are not yet ready to see that world into which we penetrate on falling asleep. Through this we understand waking and sleeping in the same sense in which we understand many other things in this world, as a permeation by one another of the various members of the human entity. If we consider a waking person from this point of view, we shall say that in him are present the four members of the human entity, the physical body, etheric body, astral body, and the Ego, and that they are linked together in a certain way. What results from this? The fact of ‘being awake.’ For we could not be awake were we not so to descend into our corporeality that our attention is distracted by the external world. Whether we are awake or not depends upon a certain regulated co-operation of our four members. And again, whether we are asleep or not depends upon the proper separation of our four members. It is not enough to say that we consist of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and Ego, for we understand man only when we know to what extent the various members are linked together in a certain state, and how intimately they are connected. This is necessary to an understanding of human nature. Now let us examine how these four members of man are linked together in the case of a normal person. Let us set out from the standpoint that the condition of man when awake is the normal condition.

Most of us will remember that the consciousness we at present possess as earth-men between birth and death, is only one of the possible forms of consciousness. If, for instance, we study ‘Occult Science,’ we shall see that our present consciousness is a stage among seven different stages of consciousness, and that this consciousness which we possess today developed out of three other preceding stages of consciousness, and that it will at a later period develop into three other succeeding forms of consciousness. When we were Moon beings we had not yet an Ego. The Ego became united with man only during the Earth period. That is why we could not gain our present consciousness before the Earth period. Such a consciousness as we have today between birth and death, presumes that the Ego co-operates with the other three members exactly as it is doing today and is the most exalted of the four members of the human entity. Before we were impregnated with the Ego we comprised only physical body, etheric body, and astral body. The astral body was then our most exalted member, and our consciousness then was such as can to-day be compared only with our dream consciousness which is a survival of the past. But we must not think of the present dream consciousness, but one in which the dream images represent realities. If we study the dream as it is to-day, we shall find in its manifold images much that is chaotic, because our present dream consciousness is an ancient inheritance. But if we study the consciousness that preceded that of today, we should find that we could not at that time see external objects such as plants, for instance. Thus it was impossible for us to receive an external impression. Anything that approached us evoked an impression analogous to that of a dream, but corresponded to a certain external object or impression.

Thus before dealing with the Ego-consciousness, we shall have to deal with a consciousness which might be termed an astral consciousness, because it is attached to the astral body which was formerly the most exalted member. It is dim and nebulous, and not yet irradiated by the light of the Ego. When man became earth-man, this consciousness was outshone by the Ego-consciousness. The astral body, however, is still within us, and we might ask how it was that our astral consciousness could be so dimmed and eliminated that the Ego-consciousness could fully take its place? This became possible because through man's impregnation by the Ego, the earlier connection between the astral body and the etheric body was greatly loosened. The earlier and more intimate connection was, so to speak, dissolved. Thus before the Ego-consciousness, there existed a far more intimate relationship between man's astral body and the lower members of his being. The astral body penetrated further into the other members than it does today. In a certain respect the astral body has been wrested from the etheric and physical bodies.

We must make ourselves quite clear about this process of the partial exit, this detachment of the astral body from the etheric and physical bodies. Even today, might there not be a possibility with our ordinary state of consciousness to establish something similar to this ancient relationship? Could it not happen also today in a human life, that the astral body should try to penetrate further into the other members than it ought, to impregnate and penetrate more than is its due? A certain normal standard is necessary for the penetration of the astral body into the etheric and physical bodies. Let us suppose that this standard is exceeded in one direction or another. Certain disturbances in the whole of the human organism will result from this. For what man is to-day depends upon that exact relationship between the various principles of his being which we find in a normal waking state. As soon as the astral body acts wrongly, as soon as it penetrates deeper into the etheric and physical bodies, there will be disorder. In our past discussions we saw that this really takes place. We then looked at the whole process from another aspect. When does this happen? It happens when man in an earlier life impregnated his astral body with something, allowed something to flow into it that we conceive as a moral or intellectual transgression for that earlier life. This has been engraved on the astral body. Now, when man enters life anew, this may in fact cause the astral body to seek a different relationship with the physical and etheric bodies than it would have sought had it not in the preceding life been impregnated with this transgression. Thus are the transgressions committed under the influence of Ahriman and Lucifer transformed into organising forces which, in a new life induce the astral body to adopt a different relationship towards the physical and etheric bodies than would be the case had such forces not intervened.

So we see how earlier thoughts, sensations, and feelings affect the astral body and induce it to bring about disorders in the human organism. What happens when such disorders are brought about? When the astral body penetrates further into the physical and etheric bodies than it normally should, it brings about something similar to what takes place when we awaken, when our Ego sinks down into the two lower principles. Awakening consists in the sinking down of the Ego-man into the physical and etheric bodies. In what then consists the action of the astral body when, induced by the effects of earlier experiences, it penetrates the physical and etheric bodies further than it should? That which takes place when our Ego and our astral body sink down into our physical and etheric bodies on awaking and perceive something, shows the very fact of our awakening. Just as the state of waking is the result of the descent of the Ego-man into our physical and etheric bodies, there must now take place something analogous to what is done by the Ego—something done by the astral body. It descends into the etheric body and the physical body. If we see a man whose astral body has a tendency towards a closer union with the etheric and the physical bodies than should normally take place, we shall see the astral body accomplish the phenomenon which we otherwise achieve by the Ego upon awakening. What is this excessive penetration of the physical and etheric bodies by the astral body? It consists in that which may otherwise be described as the essence of disease. When our astral body does what we otherwise do upon awakening, namely pushes its way into the physical body and the etheric body, when the astral body which normally should not develop any consciousness within us, strives after a consciousness within our physical and etheric bodies, trying to awaken within us, we become ill. Illness is an abnormal waking condition of our astral body. What is it we do when in normal health we live in an ordinary waking condition? We are awake in ordinary life. But so that we could possess an ordinary waking condition, we had at an earlier stage to bring our astral body into a different relationship. We had to put it to sleep. It is essential that our astral body should sleep during the day whilst we are dominated by our Ego-consciousness. We can be healthy only if our astral body is asleep within us. Now we can conceive of the essence of health and illness in the following way. Illness is an abnormal awakening within man of the astral body, and health is the normal sleeping state of the astral body.

And what is this consciousness of the astral body? If illness really is the awakening of the astral body, something like a consciousness must be manifested. There is an abnormal awakening, and so we can expect an abnormal consciousness. A consciousness of some kind there must be. When we fall ill something must happen similar to what occurs when we awake in the morning. Our faculties must be diverted to something different. Our ordinary consciousness awakens in the morning. Does any consciousness arise when we become ill?

Yes, there arises a consciousness that we know all too well. And which is this consciousness? A consciousness expresses itself in experiences! The consciousness which then arises is expressed in what we call pain, which we do not have during our waking condition when in ordinary health, because it is then that our astral body is asleep. ‘The sleeping’ of the astral body means that we are in regular normal relationship to the physical and etheric bodies, and are without pain. Pain tells us that the astral body is pressing into the physical body and the etheric body in such a way in an abnormal state, and is acquiring consciousness. Such is pain.

We must not apply this statement without limits. When we speak in terms of Spiritual Science we must put limits to our statements. It has been stated that when our astral body awakens, there arises a consciousness that is steeped in pain. We must not conclude from this that pain and illness invariably go together. Without exception, every penetration into the etheric and physical bodies by the astral body constitutes illness, but the inverse does not hold. That illness may have a different character will be shown by the fact that not every illness is accompanied by pain. Most people take no notice of this because they usually do not strive after health, but are satisfied to be without pain; and when they are without pain they believe themselves to be healthy. This is not always the case; but generally in the absence of pain, people will believe themselves to be healthy. We should be under a great delusion if we believed that the experience of pain goes always together with illness. Our liver may be damaged through and through, and if the damage is not such that the abdominal wall is affected, there will be no pain at all. We may carry a process of disease within us which in no way manifests itself through pain. This may be so in many instances. Objectively regarded these illnesses are the more serious, for if we experience pain we set to work to rid ourselves of it, but when we have no pain we do not greatly trouble to get rid of the disease.

What is the position in those cases where there is no pain with illness? We need but remember that only little by little did we develop into human beings such as we are today, and that it was during our earth period that we added the Ego to the astral body, etheric body, and physical body. Once, however, we were men who possessed only etheric body and physical body. A being possessing only these two principles is like a plant of the present day. We meet here a third degree of consciousness infinitely more vague, which does not attain to the clarity even of today's dream consciousness. It is quite a mistake to believe that we are devoid of consciousness when we sleep. We have a consciousness, but it is so vague that we cannot call it up within our Ego to the point of memory. Such a consciousness dwells also within plants; it is a kind of sleep consciousness of still lower degree than the astral consciousness. We have now reached a still lower consciousness of man.

Let us suppose that through experiences in a previous incarnation we have brought about not only that disorder which comes into our organism when the astral body goes beyond its bounds, but also disorder caused by the etheric body pushing its way wrongly into the physical body. There certainly may arise such a condition where the relationship between the etheric body and the physical body is abnormal for present day man, where the etheric body has penetrated too far into the physical body. Let suppose that the astral body takes no part in this; but that the tendency created in an earlier life effects a closer connection that there should be between the etheric body and the physical body in the human organism. We have here the etheric body behaving in the same way as the astral body when we have pain.

If the etheric body in its turn sinks too deeply down into the physical body, there will appear a consciousness similar to that which we have during sleep, like the plant consciousness. It is not surprising therefore that this is a condition of which we are not aware. Anyone unaware of sleep will be equally unaware of this condition. And yet it is a form of awakening! As our astral body will awake abnormally when it has sunk too deeply into the etheric and physical bodies, so will our etheric body awake in an abnormal manner when it penetrates too deeply into the physical body. But this will not be perceived by us, because it is an awakening to a consciousness even more vague than the consciousness of pain. Let us suppose that a person has really in an earlier life done something that between death and re-birth is so transformed that the etheric body itself awakens, that is, it takes intense possession of the physical body. If that happens there awakes within us a deep consciousness that cannot however be perceived in the same manner as other experiences of the human soul. Must it, however, be ineffectual because imperceptible? Let us try to explain the peculiar tendency acquired by a consciousness which lies still one degree deeper.

If you burn yourself—which is an external experience—this causes pain. If a pain is to appear, the consciousness must have at least the degree of consciousness of the astral body. A pain must be in the astral body; thus, whenever pain arises in the human soul, we are dealing with an occurrence in the astral body. Now let us suppose something happens which is not connected with pain, but is, however, an external stimulus, an external impression. If something flies into your eye, this causes an external stimulus and the eye closes. Pain is not connected with it. What does the irritant produce? A movement. This is something similar to what occurs when the sole of your foot is touched; it is not pain, but still the foot twitches. Thus there are also impressions upon a human being which are not accompanied by pain, but which still give rise to some sort of an event, namely, a movement. In this case, because he cannot penetrate down into this deep degree of consciousness, the person does not know how it comes about that a movement follows the external stimulus. When you perceive pain and you thereby repulse something, it is the pain which makes you notice that which you then reject. But now something may come which urges you to an inner movement, to a reflex movement. In this case the consciousness does not descend to the degree at which the irritant is transformed into movement. Here you have a degree of consciousness which does not come into your astral experience, which is not experienced consciously, which runs its course in a kind of sleep consciousness, but is not, however, such, that it does not lead to occurrences. When this deeper penetration of the etheric body into the physical body comes about, it produces a consciousness which is not a pain consciousness, because the astral body takes no part in it, but is so vague that the person does not perceive it. This does not necessarily mean that a person in this consciousness cannot perform actions. He also performs other actions in which his consciousness takes no part. You need only remember the case in which the ordinary day-consciousness is extinguished and a person while walking in his sleep commits all kinds of acts. In this case there is a kind of consciousness which the person cannot share in, because he can only experience the two higher forms of consciousness: the astral consciousness as pleasure and pain, etc., and the Ego-consciousness as judgement and as the ordinary day-consciousness. This does not imply that a man cannot act under the impulse of this sleep consciousness.

Now we have the consciousness which is so deep that a man cannot attain to it when the etheric body descends into the physical body. Let us suppose that he wishes to do something concerning which in normal life he can know nothing, which is connected in some way with his circumstances; he will do this without knowing anything about it. Something in him, namely, the thing itself, will do this without his knowing anything about it. Let us now take the case of a person who through certain occurrences in a former life has laid down causes for himself, which in the period between death and re-birth work down to where they lead to a penetration of the etheric body into the physical body. Actions will proceed from this which lead to the working out of more deeply-lying processes of disease. In this case the person will be forced by such activities to search out the external causes for these diseases.

It may seem strange that this is not clear to the ordinary Ego-consciousness—but a person would never do it from this consciousness. He would never in his ordinary Ego-consciousness expose himself to a host of bacilli. But let us suppose that this dim consciousness finds that an external injury is necessary, so that the process which we have described as the whole purpose of illness may come about. This consciousness which penetrates into the physical body then seeks for the cause of the disease or of the illness. It is the real being of man which goes in quest of the cause for illness in order to bring about what we called yesterday the process of illness. Thus from the deeper nature of disease and illness we shall understand that even if no pain appears, inner reactions may always come, but if pain is manifested—as long as the etheric body penetrates too far into the physical body—there may always come that which one may call: the search for the external causes of illness through the deeper-lying strata of human consciousness itself. Grotesque as it may sound, it is nevertheless true, that we search with a different degree of consciousness for the external causes of our diseases—just as we do for our inherited characteristics—when we need them. But, again, what we have just said only holds good within the limits we have described to-day.

In this lecture it has been our special task to show that a person may be in the position—without following it with the degree of consciousness of which he is aware—to look for an illness, and this is brought about by an abnormal, deeper condition of consciousness. We had to show that in an illness we are concerned with an awakening of stages of consciousness which as human beings we have long transcended. Through committing errors in a previous life, we have evoked deeper degrees of consciousness than are appropriate to our present life; and what we do from the impulses of this deeper consciousness influences the course of the disease, as well as the process which actually leads to it. Thus we see that in these abnormal conditions ancient stages of consciousness appear which man has long since passed. If you consider the facts of every-day life but a little, you will be able to understand in a general way what has been said today. It is indeed the case, that through his pain, man descends more deeply into his being, and this is expressed in the well-known statement that a person only knows that he possesses an organ when it begins to give him pain. That is a popular saying, but it is not so very stupid. Why does a person in his normal consciousness know nothing about it? Because in normal cases his consciousness sleeps so deeply that it does not dip intensely enough into his astral body; but if it does, then pain appears, and through the pain he knows that he has the organ in question. In many of the popular sayings there is something which is quite true, because they are heirlooms of earlier stages of consciousness in which man, when he was able to see into the spiritual world, was aware of much that we now have to acquire with effort. If you understand that a person may experience deeper layers of consciousness, you will also understand that not only external causes of illness may be sought by man, but also external strokes of fate which he cannot explain rationally, but the rationality of which works from the deeper strata of consciousness. Thus it is reasonable to suppose that a man would not out of his ordinary consciousness place himself where he may be struck by lightning; with his ordinary consciousness he would do anything to avoid standing where the lightning may strike him. But there may be a consciousness active within him, which lies much deeper than the ordinary consciousness, and which from a foresight which is not possessed by the ordinary consciousness leads him to the very place where the lightning may strike him—and wills that he should be so struck. The man really seeks out the accident.

We have understood that it is possible to attribute karmic influences to accidents and other exterior causes of illness. How this is brought about in detail, how those forces which are in the deeper layers of consciousness act on human beings, and whether it is permissible for our ordinary consciousness to avoid such accidents, are questions we shall be dealing with later. In the same way as we can understand that if we go to a place where we may be exposed to an infection, we have done so under the influence of a degree of consciousness that has driven us there, so also must we be able to understand how it is that we take precautions to render such infections less effective, and that through our ordinary consciousness we are in a position to counteract these effects by hygienic measures. We must admit that it would be most unreasonable if it were possible for the sub consciousness to seek disease germs if they could not on the other hand be counteracted through the ordinary consciousness.

We shall see that it is both reasonable to seek out causes of illness, and reasonable too, out of the ordinary consciousness to take hygienic measures against infection, thus hindering the causes of illness.