Between Death and Rebirth of the Human Being
Berlin, 19 March 1914
The today's topic is within this series of talks indeed the most ambitious; nevertheless, I would like once to do some remarks about this particular object of spiritual-scientific research. I am allowed to require with these talks that once also such a special object of spiritual-scientific research is accepted, after I have tried so often to allege the possible proofs and evidence of the beneficiary of this spiritual research in a more general way. Today I have to refrain from all these arguments and documents of course. Since what I want to say about the life between death and rebirth, I say in such a way that I tell the suitable spiritual-scientific results, as I got them. Although that makes certain conceptual difficulties to the present consciousness, and the modern consciousness of time must still reject the — one says “supposed” — results of spiritual science, nevertheless, I would like to do the following introductory remark. I am well aware to speak in a time which has the great discovery of Robert Julius Mayer (1814-1878, German physician), the transformation of natural forces more than sixty years behind itself, more than half a century the great discoveries that Darwin made. It has experienced the great results of natural sciences, for example, spectral analysis, the achievements of astrophysics and experimental biology. Nevertheless, in full recognition of these scientific results I would like to speak about the object of the today's topic, in spite of the contradiction that it must cause with those who believe to be able to stand only on the firm ground of natural sciences refusing the spiritual-scientific research.
I would still like to make a second introductory remark. If I did not know clearly that within the strictest spiritual-scientific methodology that what I have to say about the life between death and rebirth of the human being is as sustainable as the results of the mentioned scientific fields, I would regard it as frivolous to speak before this audience about results of spiritual-scientific research. Since I am aware of the responsibility to speak just about these fields in a modern scientific sense. Indeed, the whole way is not very popular today how the soul must relate to truth and truthfulness of research if it wants to take up the results of spiritual-scientific research impartially. Quite briefly, I would like to go into this spiritual condition first which must exist with the spiritual researcher and in certain sense also with someone who should recognise the results of spiritual-scientific research as true.
Another attitude concerning truth and truthfulness, concerning the human knowledge than it exists today is necessary. Somebody who wants to obtain spiritual-scientific results with the methods that I have discussed in these talks has to face that knowledge with holy shyness, with unlimited reverence above all. How easily does one accept that attitude to truth who wants to decide everything from the start that presents itself just to the human life, so that he assumes, I can judge that what can be stated in the fields of existence and reality with the soul capacities that are given to me. Nevertheless, the spiritual researcher and someone who wants to accept his results need another mind-set saying to himself: in order to receive truth my soul needs preparation, needs the experience of a constitution that exceeds the everyday life. If one lives in spiritual science — I ask you not to misunderstand this expression in an ascetic or other sense — you feel very much how impossible the everyday mind-set is to be able to live really with truth, with knowledge. You feel knowledge like something hovering over you that you can approach if you exceed as it were your usual self if you exert all forces to prepare yourself to receive truth worthily. You feel as unworthy if one wants to judge truth with the everyday spiritual condition — this is something that you can know from spiritual science-, and then one is waiting, until the soul has made some progress again in its preparation, until it prepares that power and worthy reception which is justified towards truth and knowledge. One feels often in such a way that one says to himself, I still wait, rather I am patient and let it hovering over me, I am not allowed to enter it; otherwise I would spoil it maybe because I am not yet ripe for it.
With these and other words with which I could still characterise the matter I would like to turn your attention to the mood of holy shyness, to unlimited reverence compared with truth and truthfulness and knowledge which must be typical of the spiritual-scientific research. More and more arises from that how the soul must outgrow itself as it must be less and less anxious to make final judgements from the usual day constitution, and that it must use more and more care to prepare the forces for reaching a worthy point of view towards truth. Very briefly: the truth seeker acting in the spiritual-scientific sense gets around more and more to using care for the preparation of the soul, for the development of abilities for truth and more and more he abandons from wanting to approach this truth with the usual soul forces, with the usual criticism. — With these introductory words, I wanted to suggest only the mood in which spiritual science is compared with such matters. Now I want to come immediately to the object that was sufficiently prepared by the talks of this winter.
If the human being goes through the gate of death, he belongs to a world that is accessible, however, only to spiritual research. This spiritual research can gain knowledge that only the body-free soul can attain. We have often discussed the methods by which the human soul gains not only knowledge because it uses the body and its senses to get into contact with the outside world, but that the soul really leaves the body, so that this body is outside like an outer object, and experiences itself in a spiritual environment. I have often explained how the soul of the spiritual researcher gets around to doing that. Thereby it enters that world which the human being enters after death. Now I want to tell without farther preparation what the spiritual researcher has to say about the life between death and rebirth by the methods discussed for a long time here.
The first matter is that the human soul experiences a change of its position to the world of thought if it has become free of body after death in natural way. I have often emphasised that the human soul carries the forces of thinking, of feeling and willing in itself. This division of the soul forces applies, strictly speaking, only to the life between birth and death. I have to fight beside the generally ambitious of the topic still with the difficulty of finding expressions for a quite different world. Since the expressions of language are coined for the sensory life; and only because I try to characterise the quite different soul experiences after death from a certain viewpoint that uses the words approximately I will manage with this field. You have to consider that we have to speak about a field, for which the words are missing, actually.
After the human being has walked through the gate of death, he experiences something in relation to his thinking, to his thoughts. We have the life of thoughts in the life between birth and death in such a way that we have the thoughts in our soul, we think. These thoughts are to us at most images of an outer reality between birth and death. When the human being has cast off his physical body, the thoughts become outer reality in a peculiar way. This is the first experience that the dead has in the spiritual world that he feels the thoughts detached from himself that they are as it were outside of his soul. It is as if the thoughts walk to an outer soul world. The thoughts walk, one could say, a certain way so that they are detached from the immediate soul experience as the thoughts which become our memories in the usual life. However, we have the feeling with our memories that they dive in an unaware experience down from which they can be brought back at the suitable moment. They break away from the present life, but in such a way that we have the sensation that they are in us. After death, the thoughts also break away from us in such a way that the whole world of thoughts that the human being has collected in the life between birth and death becomes an objective world. They do not break away in such a way that we have the consciousness that they submerge into an uncertain darkness; but they become independent in such a way that they form an outer spiritual world of thoughts except us. In this world, everything is in the form of thought that we have gained as experiences in the last life between birth and death in such a way that we have thereby become just richer in experiences of life.
This is spread out as it were to a kind of life tableau about which we say to ourselves, you have experienced this in your last life in such a way that it becomes a conceptual experience of life; this is round the soul after death. However, it does not look like fleeting thoughts, but as if the thoughts become denser, more vivid when they break free from the soul and get independent life, and establish a world of beings. This world in which we live then is the world of the thoughts leaving us which have an independent existence. Indeed, this world is like a tableau of memories, but like one which has made itself independent, and about which we know that one has acquired it, but that it lives objectified in the outside world.
This experience of the soul in the world of thoughts lasts individually different for the single human beings, however, lasts some days. For then after days the dead experiences that this whole world goes away like in a spiritual perspective, as if it goes far, far away from him. After some days, this world of thoughts disappears gradually in far distance. I have drawn the attention in my Occult Science to the fact that it lasts longer with those human beings, who spent the days easier without sleeping in the life before death. As long one gets along without sleep in life, as long this tableau of memories lasts. Hence, someone who gets tired sooner — but it matters, above all, which forces the human being has — who cannot stand it at all without sleep if it is necessary to wake longer with that person the tableau of memories goes away sooner than with someone who can exert himself to maintain his forces longer without sleep. However, one does not need to exert in this direction, but it concerns only what the human being can possibly perform in this respect.
What appears as the new consciousness is connected with it. What we have as our usual awake consciousness between birth and death is stimulated by the fact that we collide with the objects of the outside world. In sleep, we do not do this, then there we also do not have our usual consciousness; but we collide also with the hearing, with the eyes with the outside world, and thereby we have the everyday consciousness. As the consciousness is stimulated in the usual life by the contact with the outside world, our consciousness is unfolded after death by the fact that the human being knows himself connected with that what I have described as the experience of thoughts after death, which go away. This is the stimulation of the consciousness after death that consists in the fact that the soul has the remaining sensation: your thoughts have gone far away, you must search them! With it, I could characterise the impression which the soul experiences then, and which forms the force that the spiritual consciousness is stimulated after death: you must search your disappeared thoughts. This knowledge of the disappeared thoughts forms a part of the self-consciousness after death. We will see immediately afterward which role this kind of self-consciousness plays.
After death, the world of willing and the world of feeling change different from the world of thoughts. Actually, one cannot speak at all of such a separation of willing and feeling after death as one can do it in the life between birth and death. Hence, I must already say that something exists in the soul after death like a willing or desiring feeling, or like a will completely filled with feeling. The expressions that we have for feeling and willing do not match after death. At this time, the feeling is similar even more to that, what one experiences in the will; and the will is penetrated much more with feeling than in the life between birth and death. While the thoughts form a world outside of the soul after death as it were, one has to say of the willed feeling and the felt will that these are closer connected with the soul. Now the soul experiences a strengthened willing and a willed feeling except the specified part of the self-consciousness. This gives an infinitely more intensive inner life than the inner life of the soul is when it lives in the body. The human being feels when the thoughts have gone away for a long period, which can last for decades, as his principal world in his inside. This inside becomes so powerful that he has to draw his attention — if I am allowed to use this word, although it does not correctly match the postmortal life — upon that which arises there inside as the felt willing and willed feeling. This felt willing and willed feeling looks back at the past life on earth for years. The human soul feels something like a longing for the felt willing and willed feeling, and with it for that, what the last life offered. Any life offers many a thing, but the possibilities of experience are far bigger than what the human being absorbs in reality.
When the human being dies, he feels willing, or he wants to experience feeling everything that he — I cannot say “knows” — but of which he feels that he could still have experienced it. All uncertain emotions, all possible experiences that life could have brought and has not brought, all that is connected with the previous life, with that what the soul experiences. In particular, that what the soul should have done according to its sensation appears as strong, as intensive inner experience. What the soul owes other human beings, all that appears as the feeling of lacking love of which we are not aware in the life between birth and death; the dead feels that intensely. Hence, we can say that after death years pass in which the soul is occupied with breaking free gradually from the last life, from the connection with the last life. These years do not pass in such a way that we are torn out of the experiences of the last life. We are connected with the human beings whom we have left whom we have loved; but we are connected because we have gained certain feelings and connections with them in life; and on the detour of that what life offered or refused us we are connected with them. I have to express myself always figuratively. After death, one can absolutely remain connected with somebody to whom one was close in life, but only by the fact that one has a connection in the feelings that one had in life with him. An intensive connection with him thereby develops. One lives together after death with the living but also with the dead with whom one had a connection in life. You have to imagine the life after death lasting in this way for years. It is a life, in which the soul experiences everything that it wants, desires and demands as it were in the felt and willed connection of memories with the last life.
If one investigates how long this time lasts, one realises that the first years of childhood are without influence on these years after death. The time from birth until the time up to which we remember later where we learn to experience our self-consciousness is unimportant for these years at first. The life that follows the middle of the twenties is also more or less unimportant for the durance of that soul condition which I have just described. The soul has a connection, a relationship to this experience of thoughts, and it must find it again, because it is that by which it has become in the life on earth what it is; but it has gone away. Like an outer life about which one knows that it is there one faces these experiences of life transformed in thoughts. One experiences the other world which one lives through after death if this world of thoughts has gone away in its strengthened willing and feeling.
Then the time comes when one escapes from the mere strengthened inner life where it is in such a way, as if beings appear gradually from the spiritual that are adapted to the spiritual world as the beings of the physical world — minerals, plants, animals and physical human beings — are adapted to our sensory physical world. That is you leave yourself and you enter a spiritual world. You enter a spiritual environment so that you feel quite different towards this world from towards the sensory world when we are in a physical body. I would have to state many things to characterise this quite different sensation; but I would like to bring in one example only that is striking.
If we see the objects of the outside world, we say that we see them if light of any source falls on them, we become aware of them this way. While we now settle in the objective state of the spiritual world after we have felt our last life on earth back, you experience that you have let something mature like an inner light from the time of the last life on earth in yourself, like an inner soul force. This gives you the possibility more and more to perceive and to look at the outer world of the spiritual beings and processes, to live within them. If you can feel the time of that described soul state like a kind of breaking off the connection with the previous life on earth, you experience that in the deepest inside of this feeling will and willing feeling that inside world which is basically the inside world of many years has matured in itself. You spread this inner light like a force by which the processes and beings of the outer spiritual world become visible. Then you know: if you had not developed this inner light in yourself, it would be dark around you in the spiritual world and you would perceive nothing. The force that you must apply to overcome the connection with the last life on earth is at the same time that force which must be spent and which is like an inner light. There a soul force awakes for which one has no words in the usual world, because there is such a thing in the usual sensory life only for that who penetrates with spiritual research just into the spiritual world.
If I wanted to use a word for what the human being experiences as a force of the illumination of the spiritual environment coming out of himself, I would like to say, one develops something like a creative will that is penetrated with intensive feeling at the same time. Something creative is therein; one feels as a part of the universe that is creative, however, in this just discussed part that floods the spiritual world. You have the sensation: because I feel in myself as a part of the universe, the spiritual world is noticeable, knowingly experienceable to you, while you experience what one can call the “soulhood” (German: Seelenheit, neologism by Steiner)) after death and the fact that one settles in what becomes more and more visible and experienceable.
Today I portray this world between death and the next birth more from an internally experienced, from an internal state. In my Theosophy or in my Occult Science I have described this world more for the spiritual-scientific view from the outside. Because I do not like to repeat, I choose the other way today. Someone who knows, however, from how many viewpoints one can describe a field of the sensory world, knows that it is completely the same what I have characterised with other words in the mentioned books.
The soul feels how it settles in the world of the spiritual processes and spiritual beings. I have expressly to say that to these spiritual processes and spiritual beings in which the soul settles because of its own light also those human souls belong with which one had a connection — indeed, only these and not those with which one had no connection in life. So one can say:
While you have experienced more your inside in willing desire and feeling willing through the years, you start now more and more experiencing the spiritual outside world objectively, you start working in it as you work with regard to your tasks and experiences in the sensory world. However, I have to mention one thing: what you experience that way as an inner force of light develops gradually and cyclically. Thus, it develops that you feel: in me the force of light has awoken; it enables me to experience certain other beings and processes of the spiritual world; but it dawns away if you have used it for a while. As you feel the outer sun setting in the evening, you feel the inner force of light more and more tiring in the life between death and rebirth. However, when this has tired, another condition comes into being. In this condition the soul feels strong in its inside which it experiences repeatedly; but again it experiences that internally what it has brought from the other condition where it had developed the force of light. Thus, one must say that the conditions in which we are given away to all spiritual processes and beings alternate with those where the inner light expires again and is, completely extinguished. However, our felt willing and willing feeling awakes there again in such a way that everything lives as memories in it that we have experienced in the spiritual world what comes from the outside. Thus, you have conditions that alternate, as if you live once in the outside world, then again as if you have taken the outside world completely in yourself, so that it appears as inner experiences. It is a change between these two conditions.
We can also say that we experience ourselves once like in extensive sociability with the whole spiritual world; then this condition alternates with inner loneliness in which we have the whole experienced spiritual universe in ourselves. However, at the same time we know that we live now in ourselves. What is experienced there is that what our souls have kept, and we are now not in contact with something else. — With the regularity as sleeping and waking alternate in life, these conditions change in the spiritual world between death and new birth, namely: the condition of expanding in a mental outer world and the condition of inner self-enjoyment and self-knowledge where one feels: now you are alone in yourself, excluding all outer processes and beings; now you experience in yourself. Both conditions must alternate, because only thereby the inner force of light survives that the human being is rejected repeatedly on himself.
I have described these processes more detailed in my writing The Threshold of the Spiritual World. — This cyclic self-experience, once in a lonesome, then in a sociable life, is necessary, because thereby the force of light survives This goes on in such a way that one settles down in wealthier and wealthier spiritual worlds for which one needs more and more inner force of light. This lasts a long time. Then one feels that one is subjected to a certain border because one has settled in these spiritual worlds. This border depends on the capacities that one has appropriated in life. One soul creates a smaller horizon, the other a larger one.
However, then a time comes when one feels the inner force of light decreasing. This happens when one approaches the middle of the time between death and new birth. There one experiences in such a way that one feels: now the inner force of light decreases more and more; now you can light up less and less what is round you. The light becomes fainter and fainter, and the time approaches, when those times become more significant in which the inner experiences become more intensive. The inner experience becomes wealthier; the survey becomes darker and darker until the middle of the time between death and rebirth where one experiences what I have called the spiritual midnight in my mystery drama The Soul's Awakening (The Soul's Probation). Since you experience a time where you are fulfilled with the spiritual world where you wake, but wake at “night” where you experience yourself as concluded in the spiritual world. It is a feeling of the most intensive experiencing-in-yourself in the middle between death and rebirth. This experiencing-in-yourself produces a condition which is intolerable for the soul in the long run. It is knowledge of a knowledge that is intolerable that you do not want to have because it is only knowledge. You feel in yourself: you bear a world in yourself that you experience only knowingly, while you know that you are concluded by it in the reality; you have lost the force of light. Night enters in the spiritual world.
However, in this condition we have the experiences that are mentally passive, otherwise, in the physical body. Now they become something active. While you settle more and more in the twilight and, finally, in the night of the spiritual world, the longing for an outside world becomes bigger and bigger. While the longing, the desire for the world of the life on earth is something that must find its satisfaction from the outside, is that what one experiences at spiritual midnight like a longing for a force which develops with us as under suitable conditions the electric or magnetic forces develop. It is a longing in the soul that bears a new force that is able to conjure up an outside world before the soul again. The soul has settled more and more in a spiritual inside world; this has become bigger and more tremendous. However, the longing lives in it to have an outside world around itself again. This longing is an active force, and the outside world, which it creates, is a quite peculiar one.
The first what we experience, after we have reached the middle between death and rebirth, is that an outside world places itself before us which is, however, again none. We face pictures if we awake from the loneliness which appear from our preceding life on earth. Therefore, an outside world that is, nevertheless, again our past outside world is around us, and the longing that is an active force has led us to it. We face our experiences on earth as an outside world for a while and we face them judging. While we have experienced them, we were within them; now we face them.
There a second longing originates to compensate the defects and imperfections of the former earth-lives compared with the new consciousness. Now the time enters in which the soul feels what it has to do concerning the thoughts that have hastened away from it. It receives the sure knowledge now that awakes in the second half of the life between death and new birth: your experiences of thought have run ahead of you; you can find them only on the detour of a new life on earth. From this second experience, that compared with the old life on earth and the knowledge that one can only find his thoughts which have run ahead if one calls back them again to a new life on earth, — from there the instinctive drive for a new life on earth originates. It cannot be judged according to the last life on earth. At the specified time, the soul regards it as a matter of course to unite again with that what as thoughts has gone away from it and what it can only find on the detour of a new earth-life where it finds the possibility only to correct imperfections and defects at the sight of the past earth-life.
Now new experiences appear perpetually from the twilight of the spiritual world. This is the connection with affiliated human beings. We had this connection before we experienced the time before that spiritual midnight; we worked with them in the spiritual world and we were connected with them in spirit. Now those appear again, with whom we had an unbalanced relation in life, with whom we were related by blood, to whom we were affiliated in life. They appear in such a way that we can assess according to their appearance what is still unbalanced what we still owe to them what we still have to compensate. We feel connected with these souls, as we have to feel connected with them according to the result of the living together in former earth-lives. This is the first experience after our life on earth that we want to live together in a new life on earth with the souls with which we have once lived closer together. In the farther course of this time, those souls appear with which we had a less close connection with which we had the same religion or nation in common with which we formed an entity so to speak. The souls which were placed in our earthly development appear in such a way that their appearance show how our soul must form its new embodiment to search what must result as an effect from the former earth-lives in the life with the souls which appear there. — Finally, the connection with souls or also with ideals appears from the spiritual twilight. After we have experienced the survey of our past life on earth, of the persons who have been close to us in the past life on earth, with the communities which have been close to us, those persons face us who were ideal figures for us in the last life, even if we had no contact with them personally. We face our personal ideals, our mental world.
From these experiences, the force develops in the soul to combine again with the life on earth. However, I have still to mention that also in the second half of the postmortal existence life runs cyclically. We have to distinguish the time of life in that outside world where we behold our former friends and relatives, our ideals et cetera externally objectively as it were, and then that other time where we have them only in our inside. This alternates again with necessity for the soul as in the usual life waking and sleeping, day and night alternate. From the forces that develop in the soul by the sight of everything that I have just characterised, the ability originates in the soul to form the prototype of the new life on earth at first spiritual-mentally. What we had to send off as the experiences of life transformed into thoughts we do not yet behold immediately if we enter into the second half of the life between death and rebirth. Nevertheless, the creative willing and feeling cause that the soul feels this life as an increase of strength; and this increase causes that from the surrounding spiritual substance something crystallises like the prototype of a new life.
In the spiritual world, the relation between perceiving and experiencing mentally is different from that in the physical world. In the physical world, we perceive the outside world; then it is in our thoughts, but the thoughts are passive. If we experience the spiritual world in the described way, if we consider the mental leftovers of our past life, of our former friends and relatives, of our ideals in the spiritual world, a force develops which enlivens us. This strengthening drives us to a new life on earth. — Excuse me choosing some unusual expressions; but I have also to describe unusual conditions.
Now more and more these only vaguely felt forces appear to the human being who lights up the outer spiritual world round himself that lead to the escaped experiences of life. The prototype of a new life becomes more and more certain, and this causes that the human being feels driven down to the physical world on earth by the forces that are in himself. He feels driven down in such a way that he feels attracted by that parental couple which can give him the physical cover that can correspond to the prototype of his future life on earth created in the spiritual world. Three things combine with the rebirth of the human being: the male, the female, and the spiritual. One can say that long before the human being enters the new earth-life, this developed force moves to the parental couple concerned; since the human being is internally, substantially this force which grows, one could say, as the force, which drives to the prototype at first and then to the new life on earth.
However, just the most different relations can happen there. One has to consider at first that the human being gets a review of his former life on earth. He thereby attains the inner longing for a new earth-life. Now it can happen that the human being feels very well: you must embody yourself on earth; but you cannot arrive at that point where you can embody yourself in a new earthly body in such a way that you can grasp the experiences of life that have run ahead of you.
We consider this case that arises to the spiritual experience. While we live on earth, we do not make all experiences that we could make. Spiritual science is not necessary to realise this; since if already in the life on earth many things pass our attention, one must say even more that many things penetrate to us that we are not aware of. With other words: if we pay attention, we have to admit that we do not make the experiences that we could make. Nevertheless, the experiences approach us. If we consider ourselves as pupils of life, we must say that all that approaches us. This experience also belongs to our experiences in the postmortal life. However, if we get to the second half of the postmortal life, we have convinced ourselves that we cannot come with all what you have appropriated to the point where you can fully combine with a new life on earth. Then it is necessary to combine with a new earth-life earlier than it is necessary because of the thoughts which have run ahead — and to reproach yourself that only in a second life on earth, maybe only after two or three lives on earth, you will have arrived at the point where you experience your thoughts which have run ahead. This will cause that such a human being does not have the intensive longing for the life on earth as he would have it in the other case and would grasp life completely.
There is the possibility that the human being combines not intensely enough with the life on earth; he has probably attained the force to embody himself again but not that force that he could have experienced everything that was to be experienced. Hence, in such case he does not have enough joy of life slumbering in the soul depths. Everything that induces a person not to take the life on earth seriously enough comes from this side. Here something appears to the spiritual researcher that often weighs heavily on his heart.
As a spiritual researcher, one faces any life with empathy. Let us consider a criminal's life spiritual-scientifically which is directed in the most comprehensive sense against the human order. One can have the deepest compassion, even if one does not want to deny the guilt, with such a life and want to explain it from his life. If one tries to get an answer for such a question, it becomes apparent that human beings get, actually, to the wrong, to the crime who cannot take life seriously because of the mentioned conditions. I have convinced myself, while I have followed these matters until the so-called thieves' slang that even in it something is contained of an attitude that does not take life seriously, underestimates, and despises it. One must not be fully aware of this. The day consciousness often knows little about that what exists in the depths of the soul. The criminal often develops a strong self-feeling, he wants life; but in the depths of his soul to which the consciousness does not reach you find disdain of life. The fact that he has not reached the place where his thoughts have run ahead is the reason why he does not take life seriously. Search in the lives of criminals, and you find that contemptuous mood towards life is there until the expressions of the thieves' slang. Tremendous riddles reveal themselves to the attentive observer of life. I would like to say that spiritually premature infants develop there.
Therefore, they did not have the force because they came too early to take life completely seriously, to develop the feeling of responsibility completely that is necessary in life. A life, which reaches that time at least approximately, where the thoughts transformed into objective beings have run ahead, grows together most intimately with the life on earth. This grows together with the forces, which one can develop only on earth, those of conscience, of responsibility. This grows together with all that what takes the earth-life seriously, so that morality develops. Since one must have the feeling towards the earth-life that one must completely combine with it if right morality should arise in the soul. There is, for example, one thing that becomes explicable to us considering the human life in the light of spiritual science and, indeed, it enriches our feelings and sensations towards life and towards the human beings because we can manage easier and orientate ourselves easier in life if we understand it.
The spiritual researcher finds, for example, a life that is finished in the time between birth and death earlier than it is normal either by illness or by misfortune. That has such an effect on the other life between death and rebirth that by the untimely penetration, may misfortune or illness cause it, in the spiritual world forces for the soul are created which would not have been there, otherwise, for it. As strange it sounds, as paradoxical it appears, what can lack from our former life on earth to develop all forces that can be ours by other conditions we can maybe attain only by the fact that we finish our life earlier than it is normal for a human being. However, spiritual science will never give the authorisation of an artificial end of life anyhow which the human being himself causes before the normal end of life or before an end caused by other conditions.
Just if one tries to look into the spiritual life between death and rebirth this way, one realises that quite different forces are active there than those in the life between birth and death. However, these forces are attached naturally to everything that the outer life in the body offers to us. To be perfectly honest I could never have come with any only philosophical thoughts, with any intellectual efforts to that what I dared to tell you today. Only on the way of spiritual research, which I have so often described here, these matters can arise. If then one has them, however, and asks himself whether they match the life on earth, they match life completely. Even if the question could emerge, why the human being does not remember his former life on earth, one can answer that the spiritual researcher sees when the human being descends to an earthly life that he must use the forces which could remember everything that I have told now for the inner arrangement of his sensory-physical body. The forces that the human being uses to transform the twilight of the first years of childhood into the wake consciousness of the later life on earth are those forces that the human being could transform to remember his former life on earth. They flow into the body; they make the human being strong for the life between birth and death.
Not before the spiritual researcher breaks his soul from his physical body,
Not before he comes to an experience outside the physical body,
Not before he frees the forces again which the human being uses, otherwise, to make his eyes seeing, his limbs moving,
Not before he applies these forces to experience purely in the soul,
His view extends to the wholly spiritual horizon where he experiences what I have described today. The spiritual researcher beholds the forces of memory transforming which one could suppose in the human being.
In the human being is an everlasting, immortal soul core. However, in the life between birth and death it is used at first in such a way that it is taken up in the performances of the sensory body. Indeed, one can say that we live in a period of transition in which the human being attains a new relation to the body where he also hurries up to a reinforced inner life of the body. Therefore, spiritual science feels the task to inform its results because the soul develops from life to life more and more internally and realises in future, what I have said today as a necessary knowledge without which it cannot live in its whole constitution. Because then a natural clairvoyance appears again, which becomes explicable and to which I have now drawn your attention.
So spiritual research takes another way speaking of the soul's immortality than that which a mere conceptual philosophy can take. Spiritual science does not approach the question of immortality in such a way that it wants to prove immortality, but it goes forward in such a way that it searches the ways to the essentiality of the soul. If one has the soul, if one knows how it experiences itself internally, then one does not need to invent philosophical proofs of immortality. Since then one notices that that which goes beyond death what goes through a life between death and rebirth leads to a perpetually renewed earth-life. This is in the life between birth and death already within us, and while we recognise it in ourselves, we recognise it in its immortality at the same time. This is included in the life as surely as we know of a seed that it develops producing a new plant. Thus, we can know that the soul is immortal. Nevertheless, we know of the plant seed that one can use it as human food. One does not perceive such a loss with the human soul core; but indeed that what lives in the soul is the claim of following earth-lives, and with it the claim of the soul's immortality, and it is not used for something else as it can happen with the plant seed. Hence, one can speak of the immortality of every soul.
I have already mentioned at the beginning of the today's consideration that this is very contrary to the consciousness of our time. However, how should the consciousness of our time look benevolently at that what I have explained in this and in the other talks? On the one side, the consciousness of our time longs intensely for knowing something about the soul; on the other side, however, it is keen to limit the cognitive forces if one wants to know anything. One often accuses spiritual science of illogicality and superstition. Well, spiritual science can endure this. Since if it looks at the opposing “logic,” it knows why spiritual science can settle only so slowly in the human hearts. Again, I can point to a book that brings thoughts about death (Arthur Brausewetter Thoughts on Death, 1913). You find a strange sentence there that I quote only for formal reasons: “Immortality cannot be proved. Even Plato and Mendelssohn (Moses M., 1729-1786) based on him were not able to confirm the immortality and the simplicity of the soul; since even if one wants to admit the simplicity of the soul, the soul is, nevertheless, an object of the inner constancy which is unproven and unprovable.”
One does not need to go into the other explanations; since somebody who writes the sentence: Plato and even Mendelssohn could not prove the immortality of the soul from its indestructibility, should write even immediately, one cannot prove the immortality of the rose from its red colour. Since if one talks of the immortality of the soul, one cannot speak — if one is not thoughtless — of the fact that it is not immortal because it cannot be proved. — One writes such matters down today and you can read them in a book that will have and has a big public because our contemporaries like such a book, and because one ignores such things. So one ignores something that is a principle of the opponents of spiritual science. If they accuse spiritual science of illogicality, they look, above all, at their own logic. I have often spoken about all the other objections against spiritual science; therefore, I do not want to come back to them, but state only what I have also brought forward as a final sensation in other talks:
One feels always united with the results of spiritual science with the most enlightened spirits of the earthly human development. Even if they did not had spiritual science, because it is possible in this form only today, nevertheless, they had a premonition of that direction in which spiritual science moves. If on one side some monistic or other spirits allege that immortality cannot be proven, one would like to point as a spiritual researcher to a great man among the anticipating spirits in this respect with whom one feels united.
What does spiritual science say about what I tried to explain? It shows what already so develops in us between birth and death that it has to experience all conditions — if it is relieved of the body — which I have described today. One does not get to know the human soul between birth and death if one does not know what it is able between death and rebirth of. If some denominations do not feel in harmony with spiritual science because it creates an extended idea of God, one can only say, how much disheartened are you with your idea of God, with your religious feeling! This appears in such a way, as if one had said to Columbus, do not discover America, why should you discover this unknown country? In our country, the sun shines so beautifully; can one know whether it shines as beautifully in another country? — The reasonable human being would have responded: oh, everywhere it shines as nicely as it shines here! — The spiritual scientist feels his idea of God like a shining spiritual sun. He knows that the idea of God, the religious feeling, and the faith of those must be disheartened who say, the God whom we revere in our religious life will not prevail in the worlds of the spiritual-scientific researcher. However, if the religious feeling is strong enough, it will feel the radiance of this spiritual-scientific idea of God in the spiritual worlds, and the idea of God will suffer as little damage by spiritual science as Copernicus and Galilei damaged it.
However, spiritual science knows that the soul prepares itself already in the body for the life between death and rebirth. The life between birth and death gets sense and meaning, while we look at the existence between death and the next birth. That is why we feel in harmony with the most enlightened spirits. One of them anticipated what I have explained today. Goethe said once, I would like to say with Lorenzo di Medici (1449-1492, Florentine statesman) that those are already dead in this life who do not hope for another. Spiritual science feels in harmony with these words. Since it knows that the soul must accept what may occur to it, while it looks at that what may happen to it outside of the body and after the life in the body. As the existence of a plant seed is only justified because it develops a new plant, that towards which we live with our souls is not that which we have already in ourselves, but what we can hope for. Immortality is proved best by the fact that we only need to look at the forces on which we live. Since we live on the forces that we can hope for as the immortal forces. Yes, spiritual science leads us to that basic feeling which penetrates and seizes our whole life that Goethe expressed so nicely with the just cited words. Spiritual science says, prove the feeling to us that someone is already dead for the life in the body who cannot hope for the life in spirit and for that what the soul is as spirit for the whole world!