Olaf 15. Overcoming Death Through Knowledge—Pre-birth and Post-mortal Experiences of the Soul—Our Connection With the Dead - Vol. 159. The Mystery of Death (2013) - Rudolf Steiner Archive
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The Mystery of Death
GA 159

15. Overcoming Death Through Knowledge—Pre-birth and Post-mortal Experiences of the Soul—Our Connection With the Dead

19 June 1915, Cologne

At our Düsseldorf branch consideration the day before yesterday we looked a little at that which one calls the passage through the gate of death by the human being. It is that which matters that the Western mental development is penetrated with a knowledge which overcomes death, as it were, through knowledge, overcomes it because it recognises death as a transformation of life.

It is a matter of course that just in our time, penetrated with materialistic views, death must appear more and more like a border of the world which the human being experiences. We can easily imagine that this was substantially different in ancient times; because, as we know, the human beings had leftovers of an old dreamy clairvoyance in these times. This dreamy clairvoyance was connected with an existence in the spiritual worlds. Because in those times in which our souls were embodied in such bodies in which still a clairvoyant existence was possible in the spiritual worlds, our souls were connected with the spiritual world. Death was to them at that time not a significant, not a final phenomenon as it is in our times. But this would become stronger and stronger if that knowledge did not come bit by bit into our time which should be opened by spiritual science. Hence, do not believe that this spiritual science which we acquire does not have the greatest significance already as spiritual science itself for the whole experience of the human being.

Indeed, many of us will say: we strive for two things on our way through the spiritual-scientific movement. First: to penetrate that reasonably which spiritual science gives us. Secondly: because we apply to our souls the spiritual-scientific methods, as they are outlined to us, for example, in the book How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds?, we strive for getting the perception of the spiritual world already during our physical incarnation. But some will say: definitely only to some, only to few it is allotted by their karma to reach the spiritual world consciously in this incarnation. Indeed, everybody would and does come into the spiritual world in certain sense who only applies these rules; but noticing that he is in it; taking notice on it is more difficult than entering it. Some people are prevented from being aware in which way they are in the spiritual world even if they are really in it. Because they are unable to apply that fine, intimate attention on their experience. One would like to say, everybody who applies the instructions given in the book How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds? enters the spiritual world with his self after a relatively short time, but—he does not notice it. Just concerning such a consideration I have to stress repeatedly that the reasonable understanding of that which is given in spiritual science does not depend at all whether anybody himself beholds in the spiritual world.

We have often said: the spiritual-scientific view is necessary, of course, to get the facts of the spiritual world. If, however, the facts are given, everybody can understand them if he uses his unbiased healthy reason not clouded by prejudices of the external materialistic world. We have to realise that it does not suffice if we intend or persuade ourselves that we are beyond the prejudices which the materialistic age gives. Indeed, concerning our will, concerning our longing we are beyond these prejudices of the materialistic time if we devote us seriously to the spiritual-scientific movement. Since basically nobody will confess honestly and sincerely to this spiritual-scientific movement who is not penetrated in the deepest inside by the longing for overcoming the materialistic prejudices. But they stick in our ways of thinking firmly, and that sticks especially firmly which is not directly a materialistic prejudice but which is connected with the materialistic prejudice. It is connected with the materialistic prejudice, with the whole materialistic world view that the human being cannot develop a comprehensive power of thinking in a certain way. Our time strives for intelligence and logic, but those who want to be at the head of the scientific or cultural efforts of our time do not possess a lot of keen mind and logic.

One does not aim at the whole clearness of thinking in our time at all. If one fully aimed at the clearness of thinking, one would also be able to understand spiritual science completely. Who thinks clearly cannot argue anything against that which spiritual science has to bring forward—of course on the whole; since the spiritual scientist can be mistaken as the human being can generally be mistaken. Countless examples could be given which show us that just our time is little inclined to apply clear, keen thinking.

I would like to give you an example only of our days. One could read it always as a very common judgment of a really great man,1the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) in his unfinished work On War (1832) a very significant person. This judgment has been repeated, and one of the German commentators on politics showed off particularly presenting this judgment time and again. A great man said once that war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse with the admixture of different means. This appears to some thinkers, who think just in the sense of our time, to be infinitely logic: war is a continuation of politics with different means. Of course, nothing should be argued against the significance of the man who said this. He means with it that the peoples have political intercourse with each other in a certain way, thereby they order their problems together; if this politics has arrived at a point where it cannot be continued, then—well, what then?—Then just war continues politics. In this sense, the judgment of all human beings can be justified and accepted immediately.

But if one thinks a little, one finds out how one-sided such a judgment is in most cases. Since this judgment is the same as one says, for example: there are two human beings who are friends or are in another relationship who always have got on well, maybe, have loved each other endlessly, and start then quarrelling. You could also say: quarrel is the continuation of love. The quarrel is externally considered the continuation of love. But about the nature of the quarrel one will have said nothing particular if one knows that this quarrel is the continuation of love. One has achieved nothing with it; of course, one has not stated the least about war if one looks at it, so that one says: war is the continuation of politics. It is really that way that judgments which are, nevertheless, rather one-sided judgments can appear tremendously significant in this time.

Today a judgment is appreciated that expresses nothing particular about the nature of the matter in question. However, such a judgment not always needs to be futile. It can even be very fruitful. But those who bear witness of our world view should penetrate the veil of maya a little also concerning the external life. Of course, one should not argue anyhow against the judgment which one reads in every third newspaper column, because it is a fruitful judgment. However, one would experience something peculiar with the correctness of the judgment if one wanted to examine it with a clear thinking. This also holds true if one can read almost in every newspaper column: we shall be victorious, because we must be victorious.—One can argue nothing against the justification of this judgment, against the fertility and the value of this judgment; but if anybody who stands before a river and has to cross over it says: I shall swim, because I must swim,—the correctness of the judgment depends whether he is able to swim. You can testify the correctness of the judgment of a non-swimmer in this case with a clear thinking: I want to swim, because I must swim. Which value does such a judgment have? It has a high value, because there are forces, there is courage and confidence, they penetrate the will. It is a judgment motivating the will. It is not a judgment which recognises anything, but it strengthens the will. That is why the judgment is significant and important. Do not misunderstand such matters. They are stated to show that a clear thinking understanding the matters is something different than that which is asserted so often. In our time, the materialistic ways of thinking are exceptionally developed.

However, our judgment is mostly obscured if we have to examine what the spiritual scientist says. It is true that everything can be seen that the spiritual scientist says, even if one has never looked into the spiritual world, if one applies a really healthy, correct thinking. There is nobody who, also without being clairvoyant, if he only had a healthy judgment, would have to be an adversary of spiritual science. There are other reasons in the nature of the human being, in the soul of the human being to be an adversary of spiritual science. One of these reasons is the following above all.

If the human being perceives in the physical world, his physical percipience is always supported by his physical, etheric, and astral bodies. These human members were created in the course of the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions, and were added to the human being through the forces of the divine hierarchies. Today, they are that which they have become in the past. The human being is put in that which was prepared for him for long times, when he enters his physical existence. All that supports him when he perceives in the physical world. Whenever we perceive, whenever we form a mental picture, an impression is made in our physical body. We know nothing about it, but this impression does take place in the physical body. That is why we have a memory during the physical life. You have to imagine this matter only correctly. If we put the question: why do we have a memory in the physical life?—We must say: whenever we form a mental picture, an impression on the physical body is made.

This impression is even more or less humanlike. Any mental picture which we form makes not only—like the materialist-fantastically thinking human being means—an impression here or there in the brain, but any mental picture makes an impression on the whole human being. Any mental picture which we form really delivers an impression reproducing a kind of the human head and upper parts of the chest. It is really true: if I now speak hundred syllables per minute to you, you have formed about fifty human beings within yourselves in these minutes, however, you have got rid of fifty human pictures quickly, and it alternates quickly between these two processes. You can imagine how many such human pictures you have formed in yourselves when the hour of this consideration is over. These human pictures are more or less identical in their external figure, but incomparable on the other hand; no picture is completely identical to the other. Any picture is different from the other, even if just a little. It is a childish idea if anybody believes if he has an impression of his outside world and remembers it tomorrow that this impression has sat in any form in him. It has not sat at all in him, but a picture which is humanlike has remained in the human being. Really, a humanlike picture remains of every impression of the outside world.

If you remember the impression again tomorrow, you transport your soul into this human picture which is in you. The reason why you see not this human picture, but remember the impression, is that you read in your astral body. It is really a reading activity, a subconscious reading activity. Exactly the same way as if you want to write down something and read it later, you describe not the letters, but that which the letters mean tomorrow if you remember the experiences of today. You do not look at the picture which originated in you, the human phantom which lives there in you, but you interpret it. You transport yourself into this human phantom in your soul, and your soul experiences something different than this human phantom. It experiences that which it experienced yesterday once again.

The human being needs not to be very surprised about that, because if you read Goethe's Faust—what do you deal with it? With a lot of paper and printer's ink of any shape. This is materially the complete Faust. You would never have the Goethean Faust if your soul were not able to work anything on that you have in paper and printer's ink before yourself. If you were not able to decipher this, it would just be paper and printer's ink. With regard to the external world the materialists debate perpetually that that does not exist which the spiritual scientist speaks about. But these materialists are as clever as a human being would be clever who says: what do you tell about the Goethean Faust, it does not exist at all, and there is only paper and printer's ink!—This judgment about Faust is completely identical to the judgment which today the materialists pronounce on the world. But that applies also to our memories. Tomorrow, nothing of an impression of today is there in our human being but the phantom, the image, and the soul has to cope with all the remaining matters working on this phantom. As well as from the paper and the printer's ink in our soul the whole Goethean Faust appears, something appears from that which has remained as a phantom in us. It is like a reanimation of the today's impression if we remember it tomorrow.

But this activity which must be carried out, so that we can remember, is carried out for us by means of our wonderfully formed physical body and our etheric body which were prepared through the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. They arrange that, they act for us. The materialistically thinking human being feels that. Now take into consideration that the spiritual truth, which is gained, is gained without this help, that the help of the external physical body is not enlisted. The forces which work, otherwise, in the external body must come from the inside of the soul; there must be worked from the soul. If one has a spiritual view which is not managed by the external world, we cannot transport ourselves into an internal phantom which has remained if we want to remember it; for this is in the body. There we must work for the whole matter with a much bigger strength, without this support. This is nothing especially miraculous. Imagine only how the difference, which I mean, mirrors the matter in small details. Let us assume that today somebody reads a poem, and he keeps this poem till tomorrow, which he has read today. Then he can read it tomorrow again, the day after tomorrow again. However, we suppose that he does not keep it, and then he must say it by heart. You see the difference: once we do something, as it were, that has nothing to do with us; the external paper carries what we would have to do, otherwise, from one time to the other; the paper is a support to us. We must exert ourselves more if we reconstruct the poem by heart. Thus somebody who lives in the spiritual world has to exert his will more than somebody who relies on the support of his body. However, this is connected with the fact that everything that is gained in the spiritual-scientific field, even what should be only understood generally, demands big mental efforts. A materialist may be much more sluggish, lazier than a spiritual scientist. This is the reason or at least one of the reasons why the human beings are materialists. They are not materialists, because they are forced by means of a logic, but they are materialists from fear, but also from sluggishness, because they want that anything that takes place in the soul does not come into being by the internal forces of the soul, but that it happens by that which is imprinted in their bodies, which is recorded there.

These are matters which we have to consider if we want to see the reasons why many people are adversaries of spiritual science. Above all, however, it is difficult to manage with the thinking completely if anything is to be reached that the human being must still reach if he goes through the gate of death.

The day before yesterday, I have already pointed to that which is essential if one goes through the gate of death crossing: this is self-knowledge. Of course, this self-knowledge is not anything easy at all. Some of you have already heard as I have spoken about that that with regard to the external figures the human beings make the biggest mistakes very often. There is an often mentioned philosopher, who lived in Vienna; I do not mean the Hamburg Maack who grumbles about theosophy, but Ernst Mach, the philosopher to be taken seriously. He wrote an Analysis of Sensations. Therein he tells the following very naively: I walked once in the street; suddenly I had to stop, because a person met me, and I thought: this is a person with a very unpleasant face, even with an intolerable face. Lo and behold, I found out that I had passed a mirror, and the mirror was hanging in such a way that I had seen myself. There I took notice how little I was familiar with my own figure.—When he saw himself, he took himself for a disagreeable human being with an intolerable face. This is a philosophy professor, a famous professor of the present. And to confirm that which he had experienced he adds something else. When he was a professor already for a long time, one day he went by train, arrived very tired at a city and got in a bus. There he saw a man on the other side getting in, and he thought: what a down-and-out school master gets in!—Then, however, he saw on the opposite side a mirror hanging, and he found out that he had called himself a down-and-out school master. He draws attention to the fact that he, as he says, knew the type more exactly than his special figure.

It is already hard to recognise oneself concerning the appearance of the human being—with ladies it is perhaps easier, because they more often look in the mirror,—but it is still completely different if it matters the soul. There is almost no other possibility of self-knowledge in our time than to sharpen the knowledge forces we can take up from spiritual science. The concepts, the mental pictures we take up from spiritual science are suitable just in the best sense to sharpen our self-knowledge. Everything is founded on self-cognition generally speaking that we take up from the book Occult Science in Outline. Any mental picture we take up from this book means, actually, to recognise ourselves, to know what the human being is real. While we study how the human physical, etheric and astral bodies were gradually created during the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, we get to know what is in us. While we get to know what is in us, our powers of imagination are sharpened to recognise ourselves much better than it is possible otherwise.

To which extent does this self-knowledge have significance for the moment of death? As long as we stay here in the physical body, self-knowledge is just knowledge. If we go, however, through the gate of death, everything changes to willpower that we have learnt as self-knowledge. The better we recognise ourselves, the stronger a kind of willpower comes into being just when we have taken off the physical body. Let us suppose for example, that we have realised here that we were, we say, a choleric person concerning certain things. You know that it is hard to transform us completely in the physical life to take off the violence even if we understand it. But at the moment when we take off the physical body when we only know: you were choleric—that becomes will. This will is directed to eliminate the violence from our being. Any knowledge judgment becomes, while we go through the gate of death, a will judgment; it becomes willpower. Then something very significant takes place that we can call—in certain sense—the reversal of something that is experienced before the birth of the human being that is forgotten, however, because the human being cannot look back to the times which he went through before his birth.

Let us imagine, however, the human being would already be able to do that which he develops in the Jupiter existence: if he were about to gradually return from the spiritual world to an incarnation, he would experience something in extremely strange way like looking at his future figure, his future life. He would also behold something of his physical figure. But he would never penetrate that in this physical figure which would appear to him in it like two points. Imagine that we would have our physical figure like in a fog when we walk to birth. We would see it as light, but there we would see impenetrable, dark points, dark balls, still some other things, but just these dark balls. Long before his physical birth, the human being sees—in time, not in space—before himself: you become this. He already sees how his physical constitution is formed out of the nature of the spirits of form. This appears to him as a light figure more or less, but in it two dark balls are floating. When the human being lives toward the physical life—he does this partially already in the body of his mother—there he absorbs certain forces from these surroundings which the mother forms then. He feels being gradually linked with this light figure, and then he senses, as if he were in these two balls inparticular. They have appeared to him as impenetrable before, now he himself is in it and feels the forces which come to him from all sides, they flow into him. Then he pierces these two balls, the space of the balls; the space loses its impenetrability.

These are the places where later the eyes are. If one approaches the physical-earthly incarnation that way, it is the eyes we cannot see but we can see by means of the eyes. They are like impenetrable balls toward which we live. Then one penetrates them in the last phase, before one enters the physical world. If anybody consciously lived through this, that would be, actually, a miraculous phenomenon. Imagine that the human being says to himself, leaving the spiritual world and entering the physical world: now you go with your soul toward this physical figure. You find two dark balls there. You cannot see through them with your present soul; this is full of spiritual substance.—Then one gets the strength to make transparent what was spiritually non-transparent first. If one “sees first the light of day” as one says, these spaces which were non-transparent are just the reason why one sees. You yourselves cannot see the eyes; if you saw them, you would not see the world.

When the human being goes through the gate of death, the sight of death is such a miraculous phenomenon in the spiritual human life after death, because he experiences something similar that took place here with his eyes. Only that the whole human being experiences it consciously. He has to get the feeling after death: there you left behind the world. Up to now he had the physical world in the eye as a physical experience, even that which the etheric body still shows as a tableau at the end. Now he goes through the gate of death with his self-knowledge, which then becomes willpower.—Imagine now that the dead would be here. He leaves behind his physical experiences. He radiates his willpower, which he has acquired from his self-knowledge. This radiating willpower which is acquired through self-knowledge gets rid of that which prevents us from looking into the spiritual environment.

(Aetherleib = etheric body, toter Mensch = dead soul, Willenskraft = willpower)

As well as we get rid of the clouding of the eye while going into birth, so to speak, we get rid of that which prevents us from looking into the spiritual world by means of this willpower. We make ourselves transparent after death. This is the significant event.

If the human being goes through the gate of death, he has an overview of his whole life like of a great tableau, as long as he has the etheric body in himself. This stands before him. But now he also gets the feeling: you see yourself. You are that while you lived between birth and death, you yourself are everything.—Now the complete strength of self-knowledge stirs in him, which he has gained to himself, and pierces it as I have described; the etheric body thereby leaves. Then it is, as if a veil fell, and the spiritual world behind it comes to the fore. It is this tremendous experience to go through the gate of death and to have the complete last life before oneself, because the etheric body has become free. Then the soul gets the feeling: this last life is a veil which covers a tremendous world to you which you could not see during life. Now the willpower, coming from self-knowledge, fights against this veil and removes it. While the veil tears, the spiritual world behind it comes to the fore.

One does not need to be anxious, because somebody could say to himself: in our present time many people have done nothing at all to get some self-knowledge. According to the judgment of many people one can hardly be cleverer and more intelligent than a present university professor of philosophy; this is the ideal of the present intelligence. However, somebody can be predisposed to such a small self-knowledge like that famous man, even a philosopher, who is really a significant person. Somebody could become faint-hearted and say: self-knowledge is in a bad way.—Of course, if the matters were that way that the human beings depend whether they only have that willpower from self-knowledge which results from the life of present time, then the human beings would be in a rather bad way. In certain respects, the human beings of the present are rightly very proud of the tremendous progress of knowledge, which has been achieved. Think only how a doctor of present time who knows any current trend of medicine proudly looks down on those who were doctors not yet long ago. These all were fools, he thinks, of course. With regard to the external knowledge, people have achieved a lot of things in the course of the last centuries and found out about the external world how the external phenomena are connected and so on. Big progress has been done. But with regard to self-knowledge, the ancient times which we have gone through in former incarnations were far ahead; so far ahead, actually, that the present human being if he thinks materialistically has no idea what he should do with that which comes from ancient times. Since everything that the human beings today regard as old prejudices was basically self-knowledge, while the souls of ancient times experienced it. Only the last left-overs of self-knowledge are reported.

The human being living on earth knows nothing of his former incarnations with the usual external consciousness. Indeed, we know that there are people among the theosophists who after a relatively short time know a lot of their former incarnations. Once I got to know a group of people in a European city where Seneca,2Seneca (~1–65 A. D.), Roman philosopher Frederic II of Prussia,3Frederic II of Prussia (1712–1786) the German Emperor Joseph II,4German Emperor Joseph II (1741–1790) the Duke of Reichstadt,5Duke of Reichstadt (1811–1831), Napoleon Franz Bonaparte von Reichstadt, son of Napoleon I. Madame Pompadour,6Madame Pompadour (Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson) (1721–1764) Marie-Antoinette7Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France (1755–1793) and still some other people were sitting together at a coffee table. But apart from those who know so much about their former incarnation, after they have learnt a little theosophy, people do not know a lot, as everybody knows, or nothing at all about their former incarnations with their everyday external knowledge. Since, as true as it is that the human being knows nothing of his previous incarnations by that which just the present human cycle gives him, it is true that he has everything for his will development after death that remained to him from previous lives. There it is different between death and a new birth. Whereas people know nothing about their previous incarnations between birth and death here, they have all the forces of their previous incarnations in themselves in the life between death and a new birth, but also that which has always been experienced between death and a new birth.

When the human being goes through the gate of death, so he has not only that willpower which comes from self-knowledge that the human beings mostly do not have today, but all the willpower which do not come from the self-knowledge of this life but from the self-knowledge, which he got in former times. So that the human being when he goes through the gate of death just is not lacking willpower which gets rid of this veil that is woven by the own life. However, if the human being wanted to gain new willpower in the course of the next millennia, this self-knowledge of ancient times would be more and more appreciated in the present era. That is why spiritual science had to appear for the further human development. Since it is the course of humankind that the human willpower still suffices today that, however, now also the time begins when during the earth development this willpower can be invigorated while the human being familiarises himself with the spiritual world.

The earth development of humankind would be exposed to a risk if the human beings resisted up to the end of the earth development from now on in every respect to take up anything of spiritual science. Then, however, the human being would be less and less able to perceive anything of the spiritual matters and events over there in the spiritual world. He would be able to do this less and less. He would be less and less able to penetrate the veil of which I spoke. Thus you see which significance self-knowledge transformed to willpower has. Here this knowledge is a self-observation; over there it is self-will which is pulling off the veil from the spiritual world. Just in those who go through the gate of death one perceives how important it is for them that they themselves invigorate their willpower as I have explained now, the willpower that comes from self-knowledge. That is why it is rather significant that the human being, while he goes through the gate of death, through these different stages, occupies himself with that which is in him what is in his self what he was during his earth-life.

If anybody has community with a dead, then it is of big significance to make this community especially fruitful that one helps the dead to strengthen and fulfill his self-consciousness. This is definitely meant that way: suppose that anybody, who was here in the physical life with us, would go through the gate of death. While we have lived with him, we know how he was; we know what he has especially liked to do. When he has gone through the gate of death, he is in urgent need to summon up strong internal forces for everything that he wills. These must flow out of his retrospect. We can help him if we think of him how he appeared to us in life; if we pay attention to that, if we send thoughts to him which characterise him. Beside the different things which have already been said about our occupation with the dead who have passed from us, we can also help the dead showing them, as it were, the image of their nature. Thus we take a certain strain away from them developing that willpower which has to tear up the characterised veil.

That is why it happened to me that the other phenomenon has resulted of which I have already spoken to you the day before yesterday. It has resulted to me when I had to speak at the funeral of friends before short time that I felt it necessary to express that which lives in the friends as their nature, just at the funeral. There I spoke not out of memory, but I spoke while my soul was transported completely into the other soul, after this had already gone through the gate of death.

If you deal with a soul which has already gone through the gate of death, then it is about that you transport yourself into this soul. Here in the physical world, the object is there, you look at it from without. In the spiritual world, you are with your whole being in this psycho-spiritual element. In the individual case of which I spoke the day before yesterday, it was just possible to put myself in the soul of this person who had gone through the gate of death and was characterised by me as a person who for long years before her death occupied herself with our world view who lived completely in it, so that she was able to put into words her own contents, her nature, living in spiritual science and taking up certain forces, as long as she was in her etheric body. I managed to catch this from the dead and I had to speak this at the funeral.

It was different in another case. When I had to speak at the funeral of our dear Fritz Mitscher who is especially dear to the members of our branch here, I felt the necessity also to transport myself in this soul who had gone through the gate of death. But now the necessity arose to put into words that which this soul was during life for his friends and fellowmen, who were also members of our anthroposophical movement, to think this together with this soul after death and to experience together what motivates and increases that will which results from self-knowledge. I had to say some things just at this funeral which harmonise with that which our dear friend Fritz Mitscher experienced in the times of his development, after he had come to our spiritual-scientific movement, what he had learnt, how his internal karma had driven him. The words which I had to speak there are not my words, as I have said, they came from the forces of his own soul, but formed so that they expressed the essential part of the years which preceded his death.

I had to say that—not: I wanted to say what I had to say there. Of course, these words were not his own words directly; the concerning soul would never have said this from himself in life. It is that which the other soul felt, nevertheless, who is connected with the soul of the deceased, as well as one can feel only with a soul who is already disembodied. I want to inform you of these words which I had to speak at the funeral:

A hope, filling us with happiness:
You entered the field
Where, through the power of soul being,
Earth's spirit blossoms
Reveal themselves to investigation.

Your longing was bound from the beginning
To pure truth-loving being;
To create out of spirit-light
Was the earnest life goal
For which you strove without rest.

You nurtured your beautiful gifts
To tread with steady steps
Bright paths of spirit-knowledge
As truth's true servant
Unperturbed by worldly contradiction

You trained your spirit-organs
That, with courage and persistence,
On both sides of the path
Repelled error for you
And made a space for truth for you.

For you, to form your Self
For the revelation of pure light
So the soul's sun-power
Might shine mightily within you
Was your life's concern and joy.

Other cares, other joys
Barely touched your soul,
For knowledge seemed to you to be
The light that gives existence meaning,
Seemed to your life's true value.

A hope, filling us with happiness:
You entered the field
Where, through the power of soul being,
Earth's spirit blossoms
Reveal themselves to investigation.

A loss that pains us deeply,
You disappeared from the field
Where the Spirit's earthly kernels
In the womb of soul being
Ripened your senses for the spheres.

Feel how we lovingly gaze
Into the heights that now
Call you to other works.
Give to the friends left behind
Your power from spirit-realms,

Hear our souls' entreaties
Sent to you in confidence and trust:
For our earthly work here we need
Strong forces from spirit-lands,
For which we thank dead friends.

A hope, filling us with happiness,
A loss that pains us deeply:
Allow us to hope, that you, far-near,
Unlost, light our life
As a soul-star in spirit-realm.

If these words must not be taken so that they are spoken by the soul, however, they were spoken in such a community with the soul that after relatively short time this soul revealed something that came now only from the soul; not at all from my soul, but only from the soul who had gone through the gate of death. Then this sounded in that way, and since that time these words sound to me always:

For me, to form my Self
For the revelation of pure light
So the soul's sun-power
Might shine mightily within me
Was my life's concern and joy.

Other cares, other joys
Barely touched my soul,
For knowledge seemed to me to be
The light that gives existence meaning,
Seemed to my life's true value.

When I heard these words for the first time—since that time it has happened several times—from this deceased soul, there I got on only—for that which I read out there, is so written really word by word as it was heard in connection with the other soul—there I only got on that a dialog could come into being. At the cremation I had said:

For you, to form your Self
For the revelation of pure light
So the soul's sun-power
Might shine mightily within you
Was your life's concern and joy.

“You” and “yours” appear in these stanzas. But it was not done by me anyhow. I noticed only, when the words came back from the deceased soul that these words were so formed that one may quote them just also in the first person:

For me, to form my Self
For the revelation of pure light

You see a dialog reaching beyond the grave, a kind of communication.

With respect to this I would like to speak about something that is often mentioned in our spiritual-scientific movement which one cannot repeat enough. In the stanzas, which have been spoken to a deceased soul, you find something that reminds you of that which is expressed most significantly where it is said:

Hear our souls' entreaties
Sent to you in confidence and trust:
For our earthly work here we need
Strong forces from spirit-lands,
For which we thank dead friends.

Take such a thing not as bare words. This speaks of something that is connected in the deepest sense significantly with the whole being of our spiritual-scientific movement.

If a soul has so striven like that about whom I speak here, so that he wanted to penetrate that which he could learn of knowledge, of experiences with the spiritual-scientific impulses, and goes so early through the gate of death, then such a soul can remain a loyal co-worker. Thus it was a little bit like an entreaty when I called these words to this soul that he may help us in our efforts for the future of earth. For you can consider this as something sure: the abyss between the living and the dead human beings must be bridged vividly through our spiritual science in the course of the earth development. We have to learn, just as we are together with human beings living in physical bodies, to look at the dead human beings not as dead, but as living among us, as living and creating. Those who are the so-called dead are working with us with forces available to them.

We have to seize that vividly and not theoretically which impulses spiritual science has to create and convert in us into the vivid life which we want to insert to the cultural development out of spirit. I have to say: concerning our external civilisation one needs the assistance of those in future who are in the spiritual worlds up there. Those who get entrance for the spiritual-scientific movement here on earth need the dead souls. That is why I said that we need the strength for our work on earth from spiritual realms for which we thank the dead friends. We make an entreaty, as it were, to the souls to work with us on earth. I mean such souls who go on working with the forces which are strengthened by that which they took up here and penetrated themselves with that which they have taken up in the spiritual worlds.

Sometimes it appears so symptomatically which difficulties and obstacles our anthroposophical earth work does find. Among various things you can observe time and again, I want to emphasise one thing only. In a South German magazine, an article appeared some years ago which caused a sensation, because it was rumoured that a very significant philosopher had written it. The editor of the magazine is called Karl Muth. That Karl Muth has accepted an article of many pages in those days. When my Occult Science in Outline was published, he has brought this article, just resuming this book Occult Science. It would not have been so especially difficult to me to eradicate the worst things of the article, the most foolish assertions. Since with the truth of that great philosopher it is as follows: many people regard him really as a great philosopher. But he appears to some whom he approached in life—he does not need to have approached them especially near, to have sat opposite to them only once,—clinging to them like a limpet. He appeared to me that way, and I had to fight off him. But after he had written postcard after postcard, letter after letter to me, he also sent me this article as a manuscript. I could not resolve to read the article, because it began already too foolishly. There the author said, for example: Steiner calls that occult science which he wrote there in his book. But there cannot be an occult science at all, because this is the nature of science that it is not secret, but is public.—So, an occult science is contradictory to the nature of science itself. Thus it started. Where one turned over a few pages, one got on such impertinent follies that it was fatal to me to read on, to read the manuscript. It still lies there somewhere. It is a folly, because one needs only to be able to speak German to feel this folly. This is just, as if anybody says: there are no natural sciences. However, there are natural sciences. There is not a secret science, of course, but there is an occult science. It was too foolish, but the editor of the magazine thought that it was an especially significant article. Many people read the article, and regarded it as something very clever that was written about spiritual science where it was criticised thoroughly.

Now the war came. That philosopher is no German, but now he counts himself to the worst enemies of Germany. Now he writes a number of letters to the same Karl Muth who in those days—you forgive the trivial expression—licked his fingers that he got the article of the famous philosopher. A lot of venom has already been emptied over Germany and the German nation, but anything more toxic, more dreadful has not been written, actually, than that which this famous philosopher wrote in letters to Karl Muth. The most horrible judgments and reviews about Germanness and German nature are found there. Now the following can be considered still as a good sign. The philosopher concerned wrote, after he had spit venom, unfortunately not with “occult science,” because the censorship did not stop it crossing the border, so that it arrived even in Munich, and Muth (Muth = courage) found the courage to print this venom again; now, however, not to print the “significant article of a significant man” but—after years the same Karl Muth prints this writing about the Germans and writes: of course, a man who writes that way should be in the lunatic asylum!—You see, Karl Muth needed this writing about the German nature to get on that the man is a fool. Some years ago, however, he let the same fool loose on our spiritual science. A reasonable person could know this already in those days, but fools are often regarded also as famous philosophers; it does not depend on it. But you see which unfavourable conditions spiritual science is exposed to. If the war had not come and Karl Muth had not been taught that, actually, the dear man, this professor Wincenty Lutoslawski, is a fool, he would have again accepted an article annihilating spiritual science from the feather of this “famous philosopher” at the next opportunity.

You also see that in our time human beings are not often inclined to get on with their judgment which point of view they have to take concerning spiritual science. I give this example only to show—one could give many such examples—which obstacles our spiritual-scientific movement is exposed to, that even those who must be regarded later as fools are let loose on it. Then the judgment may also be justified that some other things which are said against this spiritual science are not cleverer. Since where it could be proved once rather strikingly, there it has been proved.

We have to realise that we also need the forces of those who went through the gate of death, and who, before they went through this gate, took up that which is contained in the light of spiritual science. We need them to enliven the spiritual-scientific impulses. The abyss between the living and the dead must be cleared away first on our spiritual-scientific field above all. This is why something like an admonition must appear time and again: We want to keep the consciousness that we had souls being closer to us, as long as they walked in their physical bodies among us, as it was before, only just according to their other condition of life. We want to keep this, even if the souls concerned have gone through the gate of death. For it belongs to the nicest, to the most significant what we can gain from spiritual science if we can look at those who went through the gate of death as human beings living among us, meeting us; as those meet us who live in their physical bodies. This becomes an essential support, because now so many souls go through the gate of death as young people on the fields where something new prepares itself out of blood and death, and deliver their unused etheric bodies to the spiritual world.

The human etheric body is prepared in such a way that it can supply the human being with vital forces up to the highest age. If the human being goes now through the gate of death in his youth, the forces remain unused which could still have been used here if the human being grew up to a higher age. Now we can look up to the spiritual etheric world where the human being still stays some time after he has left the physical plane. There are just many youthful etheric bodies of those available who were killed in action and went through the gate of death. These etheric bodies do not dissolve immediately but keep holding together and containing the forces which could have supplied life for a long time.

These etheric bodies will be there, they will be forces which can help the human beings when these look up longing with the consciousness of spiritual science where that is contained in unused etheric bodies. From above these forces join with those who join consciously with these forces of the spiritual-scientific consciousness. Feeling and sensing that, we should turn to them. We have to lively bear witness to the spiritual world. We should be able to say to ourselves: there have to be human beings just in future, in the time which follows this war, here on our earth who carry souls in themselves which can look up at the spiritual world, so that these unused etheric bodies are realities to them; that it becomes reality to them through their knowledge of the spiritual world. Then spiritual science will be up to that which is not only knowledge, but real life; real life also because of the destiny-burdened events of our time. Then somebody can say: there are souls in the world who look up to the etheric bodies above there which develop their unused forces, and that is why they are able to take up these forces and to work even stronger. These unused forces of the etheric bodies of those who sacrificed themselves on the fields of blood and death are fruitful for the souls on earth in future.

For this reason, we also want to think again of that cooperation which can come into being between the human beings who are inspired and spiritualised with spiritual-scientific knowledge and look at that which remains of the etheric bodies from this war, what can come into being from this internal interaction of souls. We also want to write those words in our souls again which I would like to speak now at the end of our branch considerations, out of the whole interrelation of the events:

From the courage of the fighters,
From the blood of the battles,
From the grief of the bereaved,
From the nation's sacrifices
Will grow up the fruits of spirit
If souls aware of spirit turn
Their senses to the spirit-land.