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Origin and Destination of Humanity
GA 53

III. Reincarnation and Karma

20 October 1904, Berlin

Eight days ago, I spoke about the composition of the human being and about the different parts of his entity. If you refrain from the finer gradation which we have discussed at that time, we can say that the human being disintegrates into three members: body, soul and mind. A consideration of these three human members leads to the big principles of human life, to the same laws of the soul and of the mind as the consideration of the outside world leads us to the principles of the physical life. Our usual science only knows the principles of the physical life. It knows nothing to say about the principles of the soul-life and the spiritual life on the higher fields. But there are the same laws in these higher fields, and these laws of the soul-life and the spiritual life are undoubtedly more important for the human being than what happens externally in the physical space. But the lofty determination of the human being, the comprehension of our destiny, the understanding why we are in this body which sense this life has the answers to these questions can be found solely in the higher fields of the spiritual life.

A consideration of the soul-life shows its big basic law to us, its developmental law, and the law of reincarnation. And a consideration of the spiritual life shows us the law of cause and effect, the law which we exactly know in the physical world that any effect has its cause. Any action of the spiritual life has its cause and must have its cause, and this spiritual law is called the law of karma. The law of reincarnation or re-embodiment consists in the fact that the human being lives not only once, but that the life of the human being proceeds in a whole number of repetitions which had started once and will once find an end. Starting from other conditions the human being as we will still see in later talks enters in this law of reincarnation and he will overcome this law later again to move on to other phases of his development. The law of karma says that our destiny, what we experience in life is not without cause, but that our actions, our experiences, our sufferings and joys in a life depend on the preceding lives that we have made our destiny to us in the past lives. As well as we live now, we create the causes of the destiny which meets us when we are re-embodied; this is the cause which forms the destiny of our future life.

Now we want to get involved a little more exactly in these ideas of the soul development and the spiritual causing. The law of reincarnation or re-embodiment deals with the fact that the human soul appears and lives on earth not once but many times. Of course, only somebody can completely realise the immediate factuality of this law who advances so far using mystic, theosophical methods that he can study in the psychic fields of existence as the everyday human being in the external fields of the sensuous life and facts. Not before the higher facts take place before his soul-eyes as for the sensuous human being the facts of the physical world take place before his physical senses, reincarnation is a fact to him. There is also still a lot that the human being does not yet realise today according to its real being, but he can see it in its effects and, therefore, he believes in it. Reincarnation is something that most people cannot regard as a fact and are not accustomed to consider it as an external effect, and, therefore, they do not believe in it. Also the phenomena of electricity are such that every physicist says that the real being of electricity is unknown to us; but people do not doubt that something like an entity of electricity exists. They see the effects of electricity, light and movement. If people were able to see the external effects of memory with their physical eyes, then they would not doubt that there is reincarnation. One can still recognise memory. Nevertheless, one has to make oneself familiar with the external expression of reincarnation to get used to the idea gradually to be able to correctly see that which theosophy calls reincarnation.

Hence, I would like to consider those facts purely externally which are accessible to everybody which everybody can observe to which he is not used only to take the right points of view. However, if he did so, he would say to himself: I do not yet know reincarnation as a fact, but I can assume like with electricity that there is such a thing. Who wants to see the external physical facts in the right light, must carefully pursue the law of development which we perceive everywhere in the outside world thanks to the scientific research of the 19th century. He has to ask himself: what happens before our eyes in the realm of life? I note from the start that I want to touch this fact only in general because I speak on Darwinism and theosophy in the next talks. All those questions which are connected with this part of this lecture are connected with doubt and ideas whether theosophy would be disproved by modern Darwinism. I answer these questions in the talk which I hold a week from today.

We have to understand this development correctly. In the 18th century the great naturalist Linnaeus (Carl L., 1707–1778, the father of modern taxonomy, Systema naturae, 1735) still said that as many botanical genera and animal genera exist side by side as have been made originally. This opinion is no longer shared by any naturalist. The more perfect living beings one assumes have developed from more imperfect organisms. Thus natural sciences have transformed that which one once could observe only side by side into a temporal succession. If now we ask ourselves: by which means is it possible that development occurs by which means is it possible that in the sequence of the different species and genera in the animal and plant realms an interrelation does exists? Then we get to a law which is darkish for our natural sciences, but is connected with the law of physical development. This is the fact which expresses itself in the so-called heredity. As everybody knows, the descendant of an organism is not different from its ancestor.

So the similarity of ancestor and descendant confronts us. The variety originates from the fact that a difference is added to this similarity in the course of time. It is, so to speak, a result of two factors: of that in what the descendants are like their ancestors, and of that in what they are different. The variety of the animal guise and plant guise comes into being from the most imperfect up to the most perfect one. Never would anybody understand why the difference exists unless the law of heredity were there. One could also not understand why the descendant is different, so that this difference is added to the similarity. This connection of similarity and difference gives the concept of physical development. You find it in the plant life, in the animal life and in the human life. If, however, you ask: what develops in the physical realm, what in the plant life, what in the animal life and what in the human life? Then we receive a drastic difference between the human life and the animal life. One must have realised, one must have completely thought through this difference, then one does not stand still where the physical researcher stands still. One feels constrained to advance; one has to extend the idea of development substantially. Only the old habitual ways of thinking cause that the human beings cannot come to higher levels of development.

I would like to make this difference of humanity and the animal realm clear to you now. It expresses itself in a fact which is unquestionable, but is not enough taken into consideration. If, however, one has conceived it, it brings light and absolutely clarifying. One can express this fact with the catchword: the human being has a biography, the animal has no biography. Of course, the owners of dogs, horses or monkeys will argue that an animal has peculiar, individual inclinations and an individual existence in certain respect, and that one can write, hence, also a biography of a dog, a horse or a monkey. This should not be doubted. But in the same sense one can also write the biography of a quill. However, nobody denies that it is not the same if we speak of a human biography. Everywhere are only transitions, gradual differences, and that is why that which preferably applies to the human being also applies to subordinate beings in the transferred sense, it can even be applied to external matters. Why should we not be able to describe the qualities of an ink-pot? But you will find that a radical difference exists between the biography of a person and the biography of an animal. If we want to speak of that which of the animal interests us to the same extent as the biography of the individual human, then we have to deliver the description of the species. If we describe a dog, a lion, then our description applies to all dogs or lions. In doing so, we do not need to think of biographies of excellent human beings. We can write the biography of a Mr. Lehman or a Mr. Schultz. However, it differs substantially from any animal biography, and it is for the human being of the same interest as the description of the species for the animal life.

With that is said for everybody who thinks that way completely exactly: the biography signifies for the human being what the description of the species signifies for the animal. Hence, in the animal realm one speaks of an evolution of the species and the genera; with the human being one has to set in with the individual. The human being is a species for himself, not in the physical sense, as far as the human being is on the highest level of animality, for it is the same with the human being as with the animals concerning the generic : if we describe the human being as a species, we describe him in such a way, as we describe the lion species, the tiger species or the cat species. The description of the individual of the human being is substantially different. The individual of the human being is a species for himself. This sentence, completely understood, leads us to a higher concept of describing the evolution within the human realm. If you want to inform yourselves about the generic of the human being, about his exterior guise for this is the generic of the human being , then you will resort to the concept of heredity like in the animal evolution. Then you know, why Schiller had a particular form of the nose, a particular physiognomy; then you derive his guise more or less successfully from his forefathers. The biography of the human being goes beyond that. It only concerns the radical difference of a human being from all other human beings. Of these two fields the generic is not important for the idea of reincarnation or re-embodiment. The other field matters which we distinguish from the generic as the real soul, as the inner life of the human being, in what one differs human beings from anyone.

You all know that everybody has a particular soul-life and that it expresses itself in sympathies and antipathies, in our characters, in that which we recognise as the peculiar way how we are able to live out emotionally. As well as performances of the lion have the specific imprint of the lions, of the lion species, the specific performance of Mr. Miller or Mr. Lehman has the specific imprint of these individual souls. We can only consider the temperament and the character of a person as the individual of a human being. However, we already find the same everywhere in the animal realm what we have considered as characteristic of the human soul. There we also find sympathies and antipathies, inclinations, desires, even particular characters. Ignoring finer differences again, we call the sum of the animal habits the manifestation of the animal instincts.

The natural sciences of the 19th century tried to explain this instinct, this soul element in the animal like the external guise, namely by means of heredity. One said that the animals accomplish certain activities, and because they have done many activities often and often these activities imprint themselves on their beings, so that they become habitual; then they appear transmitted to the descendants as particular instincts, for instance, if one coerces certain dogs to run fast, because one uses them for hunting. Because of this exercise the descendants of these dogs are already born with the instinct of fast running as such disposed hunting dogs. Lamarck tries this way to explain the instincts of the animals; they should be inherited exercises.

However, a real consideration shows very soon that just the intricate instincts cannot be transmitted and connected with any inherited exercise. Just the most intricate instincts show in their very nature to the observers that they are impossibly due to heredity. Take a fly which flies away if you come close to it. This is an instinctive reaction. By which means should the fly have acquired this instinct? The ancestors did not have this instinct. They would have to get the aware or unaware experience that not getting up is injurious to them under certain circumstances, and thereby they would have got the habit of flying away to avoid the damage. Who has a real overview of the interrelationship is hardly able to say that so and so many insects got to be used to fly away to not be killed because they have experienced that they are killed. They would have to stay alive in order to pass these experiences to their offspring.

So, you see, it is impossible to speak of heredity that way without getting involved in the gravest contradictions. We could speak of hundred and thousand cases where animals do something just only once. Take the pupation, for instance: this is done only once in life, and from it follows strikingly that it is not possible to speak of heredity in the soul-life like in the physical life. Hence, the naturalist puts the sentence completely aside that the instincts are inherited exercises.

Here we do not deal with a transmission of direct experience in the physical life, but with an effect of the animal soul-world. We speak a little more exactly about this animal soul-world in the next talks. Today we can be content with the statement of the impossibility to speak of the transmission of soul qualities of ancestors to descendants in the same sense as one speaks of heredity in the physical realm. However, the human being has to bring an interrelationship into the world if he generally wants to see sense and reason in the world; he must be able to refer any effect to its cause. He must be able to refer to causes what appears in the individual soul-life what appears within the human individual as sympathies and antipathies, as manifestations of temperament and character.

The human beings have different qualities. Hence, we have to explain the difference of the human individuals. We cannot explain them in another way than that we introduce the same idea of development in psychic fields as we did it in the physical. How senseless would it be if one wanted to believe that a perfect lion has grown as a species suddenly out of the earth or that an imperfect animal has suddenly developed? How impossible is it that the individual of the human being has developed from the uncertain? We have also to derive the individual as we derive the perfect genus from an undeveloped genus. Nobody will honestly explain the qualities of the human soul like the bodily qualities if he really does think.

What is connected with the body, what is caused by the fact that I have weaker hands than my fellow man is physical heredity. Because I have a weak body, my hands will be weaker than those of another who has a stronger body. Everything that is connected with the physical body and its development is inherited, but not that which belongs to the internal soul-life. Who would attribute Schiller's (Friedrich S., 1759–1805, German classic poet) characteristic, his talent, his temperament et etcetera, or Newton's talent to their ancestors (Isaac N., 1642–1727, English physicist, mathematician and philosopher)? Someone who closes his mind is able to do this. But somebody who does not close his mind cannot come to such a consideration. If the human being is his own species as a soul-being, the intricate soul qualities which face us with this or that being must not be attributed to his physical ancestors, but to other causes in the past which were somewhere else than with the ancestors. Because the causes are only assigned to the individual human being, they have only to do with the individual human being. As we cannot find the lion in the bear genus, the individuality cannot be derived from another human being, but only from the human being himself because the human being is the individual of the own species. That is why he can be derived only from himself. Because the human being brings certain qualities with him which determine him also like the species determines the lion, they have to be also derived from the individual itself. We get that way to the chain of different incarnations which the individual person must have already experienced just as the lion species. This is the external approach. If we look around in the physical life, it appears to us only understandable if we are able to go beyond mere heredity and to think a law of reincarnation which is the principle on the soul level.

For someone who is able to observe spiritually no hypothesis but a conclusion exists here. What I have said is only a conclusion. The fact of reincarnation exists for somebody who can rise to direct observing with the methods of mysticism and theosophy. In the last talk, we wanted to learn to microscope theosophically, so to speak. Today we want to state that theosophists are so far advanced that sympathies and antipathies, passions and wishes, briefly, the character exists as fact there before the soul-eyes like the external physical body stands before the eyes of the physical observer. If this is the case, the soul observer is in the same situation as the external researcher, then the soul observer has the same facts, then he observes the intricate structure, that light guise, which is embedded in the external guise, also as external reality, like the external guise is reality for the physical observer. This auric structure expresses the fact for him that he deals with a lofty, perfect living soul-being, with a differentiated, organised aura equipped with many organs like we deal with the lion as a being, which has many organs.

If we observe the soul, the aura of imperfect savages, it seems to be relatively simple; it appears in simple colours, appears in such a way that one can compare the contrast of this simple aura, this undifferentiated aura poor in colours of a savage and the intricate aura of an European civilised human being with that of an imperfect snail or amoeba and the perfect lion. Then we exactly pursue the development in the realm of the soul even as the aura. Then we see that a perfect aura can only originate on the way of development, while we see that the aura if we go backward was a more imperfect one. Somebody who is able to observe in this realm can get an immediate observation of the soul-life itself.

If we ascend to the spiritual life, the physical law of cause and effect faces us in the higher life, the law of karma. This law of karma means exactly the same for the spirit as the law of cause and effect, the law of causality, for the external, physical phenomena. If you see any fact in the outer physical world if you see a stone falling down, then you ask: why does the stone fall? And you do not rest, until you have found the cause. If you have spiritual phenomena, you have to ask also for the spiritual causes. The spiritual facts are close to us! The one is a person whom we call a happy one, another is condemned to misfortune for his whole life. What we call human destiny is included in the question: why is this and that?

Before this “why” the whole external science stands completely helplessly because it does not know how to apply its law of cause and effect to the spiritual phenomena. If you have a metal ball and you throw it into water, a particular fact happens. But the fact becomes another if you have made the metal ball glowing first. You will try to get the different phenomena clear in your mind concerning cause and effect. You also have to ask in the spiritual life: why is one person not successful compared to another person? Why do I succeed in this but not in that? This results in recognising the cause that a certain fact shows a particular characteristic in reality. Because I have heated the metal ball first, the water starts boiling. It does not depend on the water, it depends on the change which the metal ball has experienced before and that causes the destiny of the metal ball. Thus the destiny of the metal ball depends on the conditions it has gone through before. It depends on which phenomena approach the ball with a following experience in order to keep to the example.

We have to say: any action which I do contributes also to my spiritual human being, changes my spiritual human being as the heating-up has changed the physical metal ball. An even finer thinking is necessary here than in the realm of the soul. One has to realise here with patience and rest that an action changes the spiritual human being. If today anybody steals anything, this is an action which stamps the spiritual human being with a lower quality as if I do a good action to a human being. It is not the same whether I do a moral action or a physical one. What the heated up metal ball is for the water, this is the moral stamp for the human being. Just as little as something physical remains without effect for the future, just as little the moral stamp remains without effect for the future. Also in the spiritual realm there are no causes without corresponding effects. From that results the big law that any action must necessarily produce an effect for the spiritual being in question. The moral stamp must express itself in the spiritual being, in the destiny of the spiritual being.

This law that the moral stamp of an action must come into effect at any rate is the law of karma. With it we have got to know the concepts of reincarnation and karma. People argue various things against these concepts; however, nothing can be argued against their general character by the real thinker. The human life shows us in all its phenomena, and the external facts prove that development exists also in the spiritual life that cause and effect also exist in the spiritual life. Also those who do not stand on the theosophical point of view have attempted to find cause and effect also in the spiritual fields, for example, a philosopher of recent time, Paul Rée (1849–1901, German philosopher, The Origin of Moral Sensations, 1877), the friend of Friedrich Nietzsche. He attempted to explain a spiritual phenomenon externally by means of development. He asks: has conscience always been there in the evolution? Then he shows that there are human beings who do not have what we call conscience in our evolution. He says that there were times in which such a thing like conscience was not developed in the human soul. In those days, the human beings different from us made particular experiences. They found that if they carry out certain actions these actions result in punishment that the society takes revenge on those who are injurious to the society. Within the human soul a feeling developed of that which should be and of that which should not be. This was transformed in the course of time to a kind of heredity, and today the human beings are already born with the feeling which just expresses itself in their conscience something should be or something should not be. Conscience developed that way, Rée thinks, within the whole humanity. Rée showed here nicely that we can also apply the concept of development to the soul qualities, to conscience. If he had advanced a step more, he would have come in the field of theosophy.

I would like to tell a phenomenon in addition, this is the phenomenon that we can exactly indicate the point in the European history of civilisation where one speaks of conscience first. If you follow the whole ancient Greek world and trace the descriptions and accounts, you do not find a word, not even in the ancient Greek language, for conscience. One had no word for it. It may be especially remarkable to hear what Plato tells about Socrates. In all Socratic dialogues the word is not yet included which appeared in Greece later only in the last century before Christ. Some think that the daimonion is conscience.

However, this can easily disproved, and, hence, it cannot be considered seriously. We find conscience only in the Christian world. There is a drama trilogy, the Oresteia by Aeschylus. If you pursue these three dramas, you see that Orestes stands under the immediate impression of the matricide. He has murdered his mother because she killed his father. Now it is shown to us how Orestes is persecuted by the Furies, and it is shown how he turns to the court and the court acquits him. Nothing else appears than the concept of the gods taking revenge externally. There the process expresses itself in the fear of external powers. Nothing of that exists which the concept of conscience includes.

Then Sophocles and then Euripides follow. With them Orestes faces us quite differently. Why he feels guilty this faces us here in another way. With these poets Orestes feels guilty because he now owns knowledge to have done something wrong. And from it the word conscience forms in Greek and also in Latin. Having a knowledge of one's own action, being able to observe oneself, being with one's own action this must have developed first. If now Paul Rée were right that conscience is a result of general human development that it develops out of that which the human being observes, because he is punished for that which harms to the fellow man, and, hence, harms to himself if he does anything that is not for the purposes of a reasonable world order. If this were the cause, this conscience would had undoubtedly to appear also in general. Because the external inducement takes place in the same sense, it would have to appear with bigger human masses; it would have to appear in a tribe at the same time, would develop as a general quality of the human species. Here one would have to study the Greek history as a soul history. At that time when in Greece with individual persons the concept developed which we do not yet find in older Greece, there was a period in which really the public unscrupulousness was the order of the day. Read the accounts of the time of the wars between Athens and Sparta! We cannot consider conscience as a general quality of the human species like the qualities of the animals.

Another objection is made: if the human being lived repeatedly, he would remember his former lives. However, one cannot understand this from the start why this is mostly not the case. One has to realise what memory is and how it comes into being. I already explained last time that the human being lives in the present developmental stage, indeed, in the astral and spiritual worlds but that he is not aware of these two worlds that he is only aware of the physical world and attains in the future and on higher levels what some human beings have already attained today. The average human being becomes aware of soul and spirit only later. The average human being is aware in the physical world and lives in the worlds of soul and spirit. This is due to the fact that his real force of thinking, the brain, needs the physical world to be able to work. Being physically active means becoming aware in the physical life. In sleep the human being is not aware. Who develops with mystic methods, develops his consciousness also in sleep and in the higher states. It makes the remembrance possible of that which the human being experiences in the course of life. Because his brain exists in the physical world, he remembers what meets him physically. The remembrance of the human being extends farther who works not only with the physical brain but can make use of the soul material to be aware also within the soul like the everyday human being is aware within his physical body. Even as the imperfect animal does not yet have the ability of the developed lion, but will have this quality once, also the human being who does not yet have the ability to remember the former lives will gain it later.

In the even higher fields it is difficult to get spiritually to the insight into the interrelation of cause and effect. This is possible only in the spiritual world if the human being is able to think not only in the physical and astral bodies, but in the purely spiritual life. Then he is also able to say of every occurrence why it has happened. This field is so lofty that a lot of patience is necessary to acquire those qualities so that one can understand cause and effect in the spiritual life. Who is aware in the physical and lives only in the astral and the spiritual worlds has only the recollection of his experiences between birth and death. Somebody who is conscious in the astral world remembers his birth up to a certain degree. However, who is conscious in the spiritual world sees the law of cause and effect in its real interrelation.

Another objection is included in the question: do we not come there to fatalism? If everything is caused, the human being is subjected to fate saying to himself time and again: this is my karma, and we cannot change our fate. One can say this just as little as one can say: I cannot help my fellow man, and it makes me so hopeless that I cannot help him; I must despair to make him better, because it is his karma. Somebody who compares the law of life with the laws of nature and knows what a law is will never come to such a wrong view of the law of karma.

The way how sulphur, hydrogen and oxygen combine to sulphuric acid is subjected to an unalterable law of nature. If I act against the law which lies in the qualities of these substances, I never achieve sulphuric acid. My personal performance belongs to it. I am free to combine the substances. Although the law is absolute, it becomes effective with my free action. This also applies to the law of karma. An action which I have done in the past lives entails its effect in this life. But I am free to work against the effect, to do another action which possibly cancels injurious results of the former action lawfully. As according to the unalterable law a glowing ball, put on the table, burns the table, I can cool the ball and put it then on the table. It does no longer burn the table. In the one and in the other case I have acted according to the law. An action in the past induces me to an action; the effect of my action in the past life cannot be removed, but I can carry out another action and change the injurious effect to a useful effect, only that everything takes place according to the laws of spiritual causes and effects. The law of karma can be compared with an account management. On the left and on the right we have certain amounts. If we add on the left and on the right and subtract them from each other, we receive the account balance. This is an unalterable law. Depending on my preceding transactions the account balance is positive or negative.

Even if this law works definitely, I can still add new items and the whole balance changes as lawfully as it has changed once. I am caused by karma particularly, but at every moment the account balance of my life can be changed by new registrations. If I want to add a new item, I must only have added both sides to see whether I have a cash flow or debts. It is also the same with the experiences in the account balance of life. They adapt themselves to life. Who can see how his life is caused can also say to himself: my balancing is active or passive, and I have to add this or that action to cancel the bad in life to be gradually relieved of that which I have accumulated as my karma. We regard this as the big goal of human life: the relief of karma which was caused once. It depends on every single human being to find goals to balance the account of life.

Thereby we have the two big laws, the law of the soul-life and the law of the spiritual life. Today the question already arises: what does originate between two lives, how does the spirit work between death and the next birth? We have to look at the human destiny in the time during two lives and want to go through the stations between death and a new life. Then we see what of faith, knowledge and religiousness can penetrate the western knowledge. The big laws address not only to the senses but also to the spirit and to the soul, so that the human being understands to speak of cause and effect not only in the physical but also in the spiritual life. For that which the great spirits said will come true; time will tell that we understand the world only partly if we only take what we hear, see and feel. We have to ascend to completely understand the world and investigate the laws. That is the very striving of the human being. We have to learn where from the human being comes and to which future he goes. These laws must be searched for in the spiritual world, and then we understand Goethe's saying, who was a representative of theosophy, and recognise what he wanted to say with the following:

Nature, mysterious in day's clear light,
Lets none remove her veil,
And what she won't discover to your understanding
You can't extort from her with levers and with screws.

Faust I, verses 672-675

Not until the human being advances beyond the merely personal if he is aware of the overweight of the individuality, of the higher personal if he understands how to become impersonal how to live impersonally how to let prevail the impersonal in himself, he lives from the civilisation involved in the external form to a future culture full of life. Even if it is not that which theosophy regards as its highest ideal, it is also not the last ethical consequence which we draw from theosophy. It is a step to the ideal which the human being learns to live only then if he does not look at the personal, but at the eternal and imperishable. This eternal and imperishable, the buddhi, the core of wisdom which rests in the soul has to replace the very rational civilisation. There are many proofs that theosophy is right with this view of the future human development.

However, the most important matter is that forces make themselves noticeable in life which should be really understood to fulfil us with their ideal. This is the great thing with Tolstoy (Leo T.,1828–1910, Russian writer) that he wants to lift out the human being from the close circle of his thoughts and deepen him spiritually that he does not want to show him the ideals of our material world, not of our anyhow arranged social life but the ideals which are able to appear in the soul only. If we are right theosophists, we recognise the forces which work in the world evolution, we do not remain blind and deaf towards that which shines to us as theosophy in our present, but we recognise these forces of which is normally spoken in theosophy prophetically. This must be just the typical of a theosophist that he overcomes darkness and errors that he learns to correctly evaluate and recognise life and world. A theosophist who withdraws and faces life cool would be a bad theosophist, even if he preached about a lot of theosophical dogmas.

Such theosophists who guide us from the sensuous world to the higher worlds who themselves behold in the super-sensible worlds, should also teach us, on the other side, to observe the super-sensible on our physical plane and to not get lost in the sensuous. We investigate the causes which come from the spiritual to completely understand the sensuous which is the effect of the spiritual. We do not understand the sensuous if we stand still within the sensuous, because the causes of the sensuous life come from the spiritual. Theosophy wants to make us clairvoyant in the sensuous.

That is why it talks of the “ancient wisdom.” It wants to make us receptive to the spiritual. It wants to transform the human being so that he can see the higher super-sensible secrets of existence clairvoyantly. But this should not be obtained by lack of understanding of that which exists directly round us. Someone would be a bad clairvoyant who is blind and deaf to the events of the sensuous world, to that which his contemporaries are able to accomplish in the direct surroundings. Moreover, he would be a bad clairvoyant if he were not able to recognise that of a person by which in our time the human beings are guided to the super-sensible. What is the use in us becoming clairvoyant without being able to recognise what lies as our next task directly before us?

Answers to Questions

Question: In which relation are the single animals and their type to the human being?

The animal as a type being corresponds to the human being. The animal as a type is not subjected to reincarnation, just as little the single animal. The lion type, for example, is individualised gradually and in connection with higher beings it experiences phases in its future development that we can anticipate but cannot call human-like because they are not similar to the human being and least of all to the future human being. Read up with Haeckel in his Wonders of Life about the point in time when life originated first on earth. Animals cannot become human beings. The single animal can never become a human being.

Question: Is the prayer anyhow justified according to the theosophical view?

The prayer existed at all times of evolution. It signified to the first Christians not only the means of communion with God. The prayer should completely evoke in the Christian what Tolstoy describes as a mood in the human soul and feels that he is penetrated by it. The higher the things are for which the human being asks, the better it is. Prayers in order to get exterior things are not in the sense of early Christianity. “Yet not my will but yours.” What is the will of the Father in the old Christian sense? It is that will which shows the primal law of all world evolution. I want that my results and wishes are so perfect that they correspond to the sense of the Father's will, to the spiritual world law that they do not differ from the big spiritual world law.

If I have any prayer by which I aim at an arbitrary petition which arises from my everyday nature, from my arbitrariness, then the prayer is not held in the sense: “Yet not my will but yours.” However, a prayer of this kind exists unless the object of the petition is drawn down to us, unless our will should go through, but if our will is lifted up, if one strives for apotheosis with it, for the divine, the Christian resurrection of the soul. Because theosophy only wants the understanding of all religions, it agrees to that. The human being may thereby get to conflict with theosophy because he does not understand his own religion. Someone who knows Christianity and its methods and the prayer belongs to the methods of Christianity, because it is a means of the communion with the divine universal soul knows that it is not contradictory to theosophy.

Question: What does the theosophist think of the Christian baptism?

If we want to understand baptism correctly, we have to go back to its original significance. Baptism originally signified one of the first stages, which the human being gradually passed to the higher knowledge. It existed as a so-called trial by water in the ancient mysteries. It belonged to the ceremonial actions which were connected with the fact that the human beings were taken up step by step to the highest profundities. These ancient mysteries were nothing else than cult sites and schools of wisdom. Baptism was the first trial of initiation. It was not only an external form, but connected with particular degrees of knowledge.

The person to be baptised had to have developed certain virtues in himself; then the baptism was given to him. Above all one demanded from the persons to be baptised of the ancient mystery religions that they had acquired in life what one calls firm self-confidence, the capability to rely always on themselves. This trait of character was connected with the fact that one sought internally for the kingdom of God in the human being in the deeper mystery religions, and that only those were allowed to belong to the higher community who had found direction and goal in themselves, who were able to trust themselves. The internal transformation was the keystone of a curriculum to these pupils.

This was the case in the mysteries. Then there came Christianity and put what had been taught in the mysteries as a truth before the whole humanity. This is a quite significant mystic fact that now not only those can become blessed who are initiated into the mysteries, but also those who only believe. With it the baptism became a so-called sacrament of the church. This baptism is the continuation of an ancient rite, the trial by water in the mysteries. Here is a point where we have to believe in spiritual knowledge or we do not progress. The actions which are carried out integrating somebody into the community are in such a way that something spiritual is connected with them that is not only an external formality, but something that is connected with the whole spiritual life of the community, so that something really takes place from the spiritual point of view with the person to be baptised.

This is a quite fantastic thing to the materialist. But for that who knows something about the higher planes of existence it is also a fact. The external Christianity also destroyed a lot of internal spirituality. However, we must not forget if we want to understand such an action that we are not allowed to draw down it to our present materialistic world view.