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Spiritual Science: A Treasure for Life
GA 63

IV. On Death

27 November 1913, Berlin

After I have spoken about the nature and attitude of spiritual science in general in the first three talks, I would now like to discuss special objects. I note from the start that this talk and that of the next week form a whole as it were. They deal with the questions of the human soul life which are connected with death and with that what follows for the human being from death, and what I would like to call the sense of human immortality.

It is not easy in general to speak just about the topic of this evening in our time; for there are many outer and inner obstacles against a consideration of death in the present time. Above all I have to draw your attention—in order to avoid any misunderstanding today—to the fact that spiritual science has it not so good as some other scientific fields. Spiritual science depends on considering the fields about which it speaks in the strictest sense logically distinguished from adjoining fields.

I must say this because the discussions that should be done today and next time have only a meaning for the human experience, and because a more naturalistic science of the present is inclined to expand that which one understands by death to everything living. Now just spiritual science shows that that what is externally the same for the different beings can be very different concerning its inner nature, and I will probably have the opportunity in the course of the talks to draw your attention to the significance of death in the plant and animal realms. I intend to speak about death of the human being today only.—However, there are some other obstacles. I would like to show the nature of these obstacles—without going into a general characteristic—just from the attitude of spiritual science based on single facts.

 These obstacles are based on a fear of the death problem not clearly arising in the human consciousness. One needs only to consider this fear just with the most enlightened spirits of the present. One could point to many enlightened persons; one would find the same thing. I want to do it relating to the great religious researcher and orientalist Max Müller (Friedrich Max Müller, 1823-1900). ders what he wrote about death here or there that attracts attention above all which faces us also with numerous persons of the present: the timidity to imagine the possibility of investigating anything about death. Even the great Max Müller managed to say that all human thoughts that exceed the human life between birth and death even if they originate from a poet like Dante in his Divine Comedy are only childish poetry. Nevertheless, Max Müller says, if an angel descended from heavenlies onto earth and wanted to say anything to the human being about the conditions of the human life after death, the human being would understand these statements as little as a just born child would understand if one held a talk to it about the conditions of the present life in any human language. Some aversion exists even with the most enlightened spirits of the present to refer to these matters. Besides, Max Müller is not a negative mind in relation to the matters of human immortality; he himself is ensouled by a certain religious security concerning a postmortal life. He does only not want to award the possibility to the human being to attain any knowledge of the postmortal life. He emphasises repeatedly that the human being cannot know anything about the fields that are beyond death.

This fact shows symptomatically which difficulties exist in the present concerning our topic. However, one can also say that the modern scientific view mentioned in the previous talks repeatedly is so significant that it distracts the human being from the idea to gain any knowledge of the postmortal life.

I have spoken in the preceding talks so appreciatively about this scientific way of thinking and so approvingly about that what it has brought to light that today I am not misunderstood if I say briefly why it is difficult with the scientific way of thinking to admit that one can penetrate into the fields beyond death. What is this scientific way of thinking based on? Why has it become great? Because it established the principle of the human sensory observation and the application of the intellectual activity to this sensory observation in the strictest sense of the word.

You can now realise one matter easily. If one makes the principle of sensory observation and the application of the intellect to the sensory observation the exclusive principle of research, one wants, quite certainly, to investigate what the human being receives with his body by his birth and develops in his physical life. That what one could broach as anything “immortal” that has a spiritual life beyond birth, or conception, and death and one cannot enclose it in the field of sensory observation and intellectual research bound to the senses. With his body, the human being most certainly receives what surrounds his being what organises his senses and his reason that binds itself to the senses. The human being certainly acquires that in the area of temporality which research does in the most remarkable sense in the modern scientific way. This belongs to the area in which our being disintegrates if we go through the gate of death. Hence, without any doubt natural sciences completely work with tools, which pass away at death as they originate with birth. One is not surprised if one makes the work with these tools the exclusive principle of research that one cannot investigate what these tools cannot reach.

Therefore, nothing seems to be more foolish than to suppose that one could penetrate with the means of natural sciences into the mysterious fields one day that are beyond death. Hence, it has also happened that not the worst spirits of the nineteenth century finally denied the life after death from the scientific point of view. Since among many extraordinary praises of the scientific way of thinking which controls the general education and thinking more than one believes certainly also that is justified that it has educated the human being so that his preconceptions, his wishes and desires—his subjectivity—do not have a say if it concerns the scientific investigation of anything. One just gets big respect if one sees the efforts of this way of thinking really and works in the experiment with it: operating in the observation strictly objectively in such a way that anything subjective of the human being plays no role. Why should this not be concerning the question of death? However, have not always the human emotions, wishes, and desires played the biggest role if the human being answered to this question? While one has given up in the scientific research that these things play a role, just the ethically not worst persons of the nineteenth century refused the life after death.

If one looks for the reasons why these spirits refused a life after death, one finds noble motives. One has to admit this without further ado. Some materialistic thinkers of the last century said that it belongs to the human egoism to wish that one reached with his little ego beyond death. It is nobler, they said, that the human being should merge that what he works what he acquires between birth and death in the general human life, in the stream of historical development, and that he should know that this ego does not survive, but sacrifices itself on the altar of general humanity. Some moral and academically educated people regarded such a sacrifice, such merging of that what one has acquired in life as that what one can say about the death of the human being.

There are many things indeed which rebel within the human emotions and wishes against such a merging in the general stream of humanity. All that must not have a say answering our question based on real cognition. However, there is one thing that can lead the human being, even if not to an answer, nevertheless, to a correct question at least concerning death and the life after death. Even if one refrains from all wishes, from any fear of death if one refrains from all what he likes as an answer about the life after death, and if one looks, actually, only at that what he is entitled to look, namely at the economy in the universe, then one has to answer possibly as follows. If one considers what the human being acquires in life internally as valuable what revives there in the soul as our innermost possession and as possession concerning that what we can do for love, devotion and other impulses for ourselves and our surroundings, and one asks himself: what is the most valuable?—It is something intimate and individual for any human soul, so that one cannot give away it to the stream of general existence because of its intimate character. Really; so much we can also give away to the general stream of existence—the most valuable is connected so tightly with our soul that we would not give away it that it would absolutely have to sink into the general nothing if we did not go as something through the gate of death. For the most valuable would be lost without doubt for the world economy that the human soul has attained and worked for if the human life were over with death. However, this would contradict what we notice, otherwise, everywhere in the universe. We realise that nowhere in the universe forces develop up to an extreme height that they can develop at first and dissolve then into nothing; but everywhere forces are generated in such a way only that they change, that they keep on working in the world. Should the human being be condemned solely to acquire something that would not be processed further in the universe, but would have to dissolve into nothing?

This is by no means an answer at first, but means putting the following question that is quite independent of human wishes and preferences: how would it be possible for the purposes of a general world economy that that dissolves into nothing what the human being acquires in his soul during life? However, one cannot advance farther than to put this question, actually, with the means of outer research. Since undoubtedly one has to search the immortal of the human being beyond the outer experience. The outer experience approaches us by the senses, and a slight experience shows that also everything that can result from reason belongs to the outer experience, and that that all can only develop within the physical body which we get by birth or conception, and which dissolves at death. However, with it we have no tools that enable us to investigate the problem of death.

In the introductory talks I have already spoken of the fact that the human being is able to develop his soul by the spiritual-scientific methods, indeed, in such a way that it is detached from the bodily experience like by a spiritual chemistry. Thereby it really attains a point of view on which it cannot only express itself as a phrase, but as an immediate inner experience: I know what it means to develop a spiritual-mental activity in myself which does not have the body as its tool. Can we hope that anything can be stated about death by anything else than by investigating it with the means of the described cognitional forces instead of means of the outer experience? Just if one thinks scientifically, one must say that one has to experience what one should investigate. However, with no outer tool one can experience death that just takes away the outer tools from us.

Thus, one can investigate death only under the premise that it is possible with tools that do not exist within the bodily life. I have drawn your attention to the fact that the human being can strengthen his soul life by certain inner intimate exercises, so that really his spiritual-mental is detached from the bodily, like while decomposing water oxygen is detached from hydrogen. Thus, these exercises detach the spiritual-mental of the human being from the bodily and with it, the human can experience internally in the spiritual-mental. If he experiences internally in the spiritual-mental this way, if he gets around to having his own bodily as an object like an outer object beside himself, then he becomes aware of that what the spiritual researchers of all times meant when they moved two experiences closer together: the experience of the so-called initiation and the experience of death.

We must only keep in mind that spiritual research existed at all times. Spiritual research was done already in the oldest times of humanity in the so-called mysteries. Someone who would like to inform himself more exactly about it can read up in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact and the Mysteries of Antiquity. However, at that time spiritual research could not be done as today. The human beings change in the course of evolution quite substantially; and before I go further into it, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in ancient times one had to develop quite different forces in the soul. This is why in sites, which were, so to speak, halfway of art, science, and religion, the human being concerned was brought to the point where by the development of his soul forces the spiritual world appeared to him.

One has to develop soul forces in our times that are different from those of former times, after the souls have been educated during the last centuries scientifically. Therefore, spiritual science must be different in our time where it must be a continuation of natural sciences. However, it always brought those two experiences: the development of the soul capacities, which allow experiencing the spiritual world regardless of the bodily, and the experience of death. Repeatedly we find in the different writings expressed that the human being who was brought to the experience of the spiritual world, its processes, and beings approached the “gate of death” in the mysteries. That means that he experiences something about which he knows immediately that it resembles the experience of death, or that it is something with which one can also know the relevance of death if one recognises it. The initiand knew that he had to approach the border of death. One always said this. In my writing A Way to Human Self-Knowledge, I describe an experience that I have already mentioned here which the human being attains if he opens himself to meditation and concentration for many years. I have said there that if the human being carries out that development of his soul by which it grows out of the body for short times to a body-free experience, he arrives at an infinitely meaningful moment that shakes the soul when it appears for the first time. The spiritual researcher must often repeat it later; but when it appears for the first time, it is a deeply intervening experience. If one increases that soul activity limitlessly which one else calls attention, devotion, the body-free soul forces gain strength in such a way that a particular moment appears in the soul life.

It may appear in the turmoil of the everyday life; it does not even disturb if one ascends to such an experience by a development as I have described it in the book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds? and the usual everyday experience can go on apart from that. This moment can appear also in sleep. Then one feels it suddenly, or one feels an Inspiration or Intuition during the day life flowing into the general life. Typically, I want to describe what one experiences that way. It can be different a hundred and a hundred times with the human being, but always it has something of that what I would like to describe now. I try to express it in words; but doing this, I am aware that I can express it with words only imperfectly. One feels, as if one is rudely awakened, and one has the feeling that something asks: what happens with me? It is, as if a flash goes through the room where I am and as if it smashes the vessel of the outer physical body. At such a moment of increased knowledge you do not only feel something sneaking that destroys the outer physical body, but you feel almost filled with that what destroys the physical body. You feel that you can only maintain yourself with this experience by means of the strengthened inner soul forces, and you say to yourself now, I know what can exist in the outer world to detach the physical body from me in which I am. From this moment on you know that something spiritual-mental is in the human being that is independent of the physical body. The physical body relates to the spiritual-mental like an outer vessel and tool. From this moment on you know figuratively what death is.

Indeed, it is an uncertain knowledge, an uncertain experience at first; but it gives the soul that mood and inner seizing of a spiritual reality by which it can get into that what enables the soul to penetrate into the regions of spiritual life. It is an intimate experience; but it is an experience of humanly quite general kind because it is so serious that it separates you from that what is connected in the narrower sense with the personal wishes and intentions and familiarises you with that what is, actually, always only behind life. However, it shows something else quite clearly: the difference between achieving the real spiritual-scientific knowledge and that outer knowledge. You obtain outer science, outer knowledge learning this or that, you get yourself into this or that striving; then you have what you desire to learn. You gain for yourself by working what you should know.

It is not the same case with the spiritual-scientific knowledge. Indeed, it is not in such a way that somebody should believe that one gains spiritual-scientific knowledge in such a way that once enlightenment comes over the soul which then surveys the spiritual world. Indeed, some people imagine that one attains spiritual-scientific knowledge without any effort. However, that does not apply. If anybody said that on the part of spiritual research many a thing is said that the historian can bring to light only with efforts in a years-long work from the documents and sources, and then the spiritual-scientific researcher comes and says something without anticipating that one can say such a thing only after years-long research; then this is presumptuousness. One has to answer that the spiritual researcher must not only spend the work that one needs to such years-long investigation of documents or experimentation; but he must carry out the whole work that is necessary for years in himself. However, this work has another aim, another character in a way.

That which one can perform as a spiritual-scientific researcher does not really lead to knowledge but is only its preparation. All that I have said in my writing How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds? characterises that only what the soul has to do to prepare for that moment when the spiritual world reveals itself. Preparation—not elaboration as in the outer science—is that what the spiritual researcher has to carry out at first. Indeed, one learns to recognise this if one can connect sense with the words: I experience myself as a spiritual-mental being within the spiritual world.

Then one still connects sense with something else, namely with that what does not seem so important, indeed, as the question of death because the usual consciousness is accustomed to it, namely with sleep. One learns to recognise the nature of sleep. One recognises that and in which way the human spiritual-mental being leaves the physical body every time with falling asleep as the hydrogen leaves the oxygen if water is decomposed. However, the human soul is not strong enough in sleep to maintain its consciousness. In the normal life, the human being can maintain his consciousness only if he submerges with his spiritual-mental being in the physical body and this reflects his mental experiences to him like in a mirror. He can have this experience only like in a reflection in his mental consciousness. It is in such a way, as if the human being maintained his consciousness only because he would pass by mirrors as it were and while looking in the mirrors he would sense and feel his self. However, if the human being sees himself in the mirror, he knows that not the mirror is the cause of the picture, but he who is standing in front of it.

The human being who experiences a spiritual-scientific development starts knowing that that what he thinks, feels, and perceives in the usual life is like a reflection, and that he is in the spiritual experience a being that perceives itself like in a reflection if it submerges in the body. The body makes the soul strong enough that it can perceive itself; if it is, however, beyond the body, it is not strong enough to know of itself. If the human being comes to the point that he senses and feels his independent spiritual-mental existence as it were, he knows that that is behind the mirror of the usual consciousness in reality. Then he starts knowing, not only as a phrase, but by immediate experience that he is from falling asleep up to awakening in his real spiritual-mental being and experiences that in it from which he can only not get any consciousness in the normal human experience.

The spiritual researcher learns to experience as one experiences in sleep, but only with the big difference that one is unaware in the normal sleep, while the spiritual researcher consciously experiences in his inside preparing his soul and gaining strength compared with the bodily-physical experience. Then the spiritual researcher completely experiences his spiritual-mental essence. Besides, one experience is of particular significance. One would like to call it the “change of the ego-experience.” The ego that we must have in life if life should normally pass lights up from a certain point of childhood. This is the point up to which we remember in life. If we can remember, we know how everything that we have experienced is connected with the ego. We sit down as it were beside our ego and feel united with all our conscious experiences. Our egoity is warranted only because we feel united with the ego with all mental experiences. If the spiritual researcher reaches that point, where he can scrape out his spiritual-mental core from the physical body, then a big transformation of his ego-experience takes place. For that transformation one has to be prepared, so that one does not become upset. A great deal of that what I have described in my writing How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds? is intended to prepare the soul for this experience.

What happens at a certain moment when the soul becomes free of the body? What happens there, what becomes an immediate experience can be shown approximately, and I would like to take the following way.

If we took the human body as the outer science investigates it with its outer tools, one would already get clear by outer logical reasons about the fact that this human body must be penetrated by something, so that it does not follow its own laws and its own inner necessities. Which laws and necessities are these? They appear at death when the physical body disintegrates. Then it is left to its own resources, to its very own laws. One can conclude by a certain logic, which I have also already explained here, that in the human being something higher must exist than this physical body. However, a certain rest must always remain there with such logical considerations that make objections possible if from the start a healthy sense of truth does not exist for that which spiritual science can investigate from the primal grounds of existence. What is it, however, if really the initiation takes place by which the spiritual researcher experiences himself internally independently from his physical-body? There he really has his physical body beside himself, knows himself beyond this physical body, does not have it around himself; and how does it appear to him? One must not believe that it is so nice and cute that one hovers over his body and has his body lying in the bed.

That is not the case. Nevertheless, you perceive something very strange after a suitable preparation. You do not perceive the vital forces of the body but the lethal forces that already exist during the whole life as the dissolving forces. If you want to express yourself scholarly, you may say that you get to know the latent death in the body. Everywhere you get to know the trends of the body to fit into the elements of earth and to disintegrate. One can express this by a comparison; but I do not only mean a mere picture with it, but I use it in order to express inner experiences that one has to do.

Look at a candle flame. The candle burns low. The fuel is destroyed. As long as fuel is there, the flame can be there. Why is the flame there? Solely because the fuel burns gradually and dissolves. If you want to avoid that the fuel dissolves, you must extinguish the flame. You cannot demand that the candle remains intact and the flame still burns. You can only have the sight and use of the flame, while the fuel consumes itself.

Like such a flame the own physical body appears to you in the supersensible sight while it is used up. The body appears like the candle that burns low. You know what takes place in the body because in the body always the tendency exists to consume itself. As the flame of the candle originates by consuming the fuel, the human ego emerges from the forces of death. You would never experience this ego if you did not carry death in your body. That applies to the human being. Put yourself hypothetically in a human body that would be inserted in the world so that it could not die that it would not have the forces that consume it. Its ego would be extinguished; the ego would no longer be there! This is the impressive knowledge that you attain as a spiritual researcher, which one must summarise with the following words. We carry not only the vital forces, but we also carry the forces of death in ourselves. It gives us the possibility of ego-consciousness for the life between birth and death.

Indeed, you feel a transformation taking place by an inner process if you are now as a spiritual researcher out of the physical body. The ego becomes something that one does not like. From a thought, which accompanies you, otherwise, always in life without which you are not there while awake, the ego becomes something that you do not have in yourself that you face like a flame emerging from the picture of the physical death: the ego becomes memory. This is the significant transition to spiritual cognition that you have the ego as a mere memory in yourself about which you know that it is there at which you can look like at a memory, but you cannot have it in yourself now.—You get to know death spiritual-scientifically and its connection with the ego in the normal human life.

Now spiritual investigation can go on. You can divide what we experience in the soul in three groups. I would like to point two groups out as significant, namely the imagining thinking and the will. We must accompany the everyday life with our thoughts. What would we be as human beings if we did not walk thinking through the world if we could not form thoughts of the things? What would we be as human beings if we did not have the impulses to do this or that, to accomplish this or that? Will and thinking are the soul forces that always accompany the human being through his everyday life.

If you advance in spiritual research to the body-free experience, you realise that you are not able to take the thinking into the body-free experience. You have to leave the everyday thoughts outside, also those of the usual science, which follow the experience of the outer senses; they die away, while you enter the body-free cognition. The spiritual researcher understands completely if anybody who wants to count generally only on the life of thoughts as for example Professor Forel (Auguste-Henri F., 1848-1931, Swiss psychiatrist, brain researcher, myrmecologist), says: consciousness falls asleep very soon if it has nothing to imagine from the outside. This is comprehensible. For you cannot take the impressions that come from the outside world with you neither into sleep nor into the spiritual-scientific experience. For someone who wants to become a spiritual researcher this causes something extremely depressing by which he feels apart from everything to which he is attached in the outer life, that he considers as the most valuable about which you can even say to yourself, in the normal life, you fall asleep if you do not have it.

You have to go as spiritual researcher in a life where you cannot have this where you must lay down everything that you were used to think about in the usual life. What do you experience then concerning that which expresses itself in the normal life as thinking if the thoughts, which you normally do no longer have, have died away if they have remained before the threshold of the spiritual world? You experience at first what sleep makes. This is a quite significant experience to know how sleep makes it. Now you learn to agree even in rather modest way with the materialistic thinker who says that the brain is necessary for thinking, and certain movements must form the basis of a thought in our brain. Quite true, very true! One has to dismiss any objection against materialism that the thoughts can also be there without brain. Since thinking is not that, by which we settle in the spiritual world. We do not find them there. Nevertheless, we find that from which the thought in the brain only originates. What sets the brain in particular motions, so that it becomes the mirror of thoughts? These are only the spiritual-mental forces. Behind the thinking—not in the thinking—the spiritual-mental forces work which the spiritual researcher finds. Hence, he agrees with that what the materialistic researcher—if he remains in the borders of his field—can say that the everyday thoughts are results of the brain. However, what takes action in the brain that always makes the physical body the mirror of thinking is the work of the spiritual-mental behind it. We come as spiritual researchers really behind the everyday life into the creative realm of the world. Hence, we also learn to understand sleep and experience how that what is behind sleep mends the worn-out parts of our brain at night.

We look at this regeneration of the body; we get to know the activity of sleep. As spiritual researchers, we get to know the thoughts, which face us by day from the one side, from the other side. Whenever a thought can appear and appears in the mirror of the brain, we get to know it from the other side if the body sleeps if it lives within the brain and stimulates the brain to its activity by day. One gets to know thinking from the other side this way. This is the one part how you get to know thinking.

Now the other part, how one gets to know thinking, is something of spiritual research that you do not like from the start if you have not well prepared yourself. You get to know the inner work, the inner feeling, the inner self-experience of the soul. You get to know the soul as something internally mobile; you get to know an activity of the soul from which one can ask: what does this activity want? It wants to form thoughts. However, in such a way as it appears it cannot form thoughts. You get to know a part of the soul activity that is used to mend the exhausted brain in sleep; you may be content with that. You get to know another part of the soul activity with which you touch the whole physical brain like from the inside from which you may say to yourself: you have it now. While you start investigating more exactly, you realise that you have it by what you have experienced from birth and have processed it in your soul; but it has thereby become something that touches your brain; and this does not let it come about as usual thoughts of the everyday life. The spiritual researcher settles in a condition that way where he feels imprisoned in his body, his wondrous tool of thinking. He feels so touched with it that he says to himself, now you could form thoughts from your inner activity if your brain did not lie there like a heavy mass and cannot be roused to that what the soul wants.

One often speaks of the fact that the methods, which the spiritual researcher has to go through, lead to a certain suffering. Suffering always consists of the fact that something that one would like to carry out in the soul is prevented. Even physical pains consist of it; however, I want to speak about the latter another time. Suffering seizes the spiritual researcher in his development and that which wants to become a thought but cannot become a thought. Since the brain is good only for the thoughts which are obtained in the normal life. Maybe you understand just at this point that the investigation of the death problem becomes, nevertheless, an inner martyrdom of the soul. You can do it only because the human being has the necessary thirst for knowledge in himself to discover the mysteries of life. Yes, you also understand that this investigation is not carried out so often because one makes progress, indeed, generally only if one can be way beyond everything that one likes, otherwise, in life. Hence, one speaks only with a certain melancholy and deep seriousness about what I have indicated just now. Then you are able more and more to look not only at the lack in the spiritual-mental experience, but you learn to renounce to form thoughts from that what you experience with the body. This learning to renounce one can easily express; however, this renunciation belongs to the serious problems of life. This renunciation is connected with bitterness, which justifies itself only because it just leads to knowledge.—If you have experienced to be unable to find an expression in thought of that what you have attained, then you experience it only internally. What do you experience then? You experience what is fit to intervene, indeed, not in the body because the body prevents it but in that what forms the origin of a new physical body that we build for the next life on earth if we have gone through a life after death in a wholly spiritual world.—I speak later about the experiences in the time between death and the next birth.

I have tried to show by means of inner experiences, which the spiritual researcher has, how he experiences his inner, spiritual-mental essence that must emerge because of its own peculiarities in the next life on earth. That is as certain as a sprout evolves into a new plant. Since you do not get to know that of the human being which outgrows death, while you speculate on it, but while you recognise what prepares itself for the life beyond death, if you look for that what you cannot see with the senses and cannot think with the reason engaged in the senses. Spiritual science does not speculate or philosophise on immortality; but it wants to prepare the human soul in such a way that its immortal essence lies there, I would like to say, “spiritually prepared” as one also investigates something in natural sciences, while one extracts it surgically from the surroundings in which it cannot be investigated in its peculiarity. So far about thinking.

The matters of will are different. Here you experience a transformation, too. Then you realise how much the will that one expresses in the outside world depends on the constitution of the body, how a strong will in the usual life is connected intensely with the whole constitution of our body. With any impulse of will we bring our body into the field, so to speak. However, as spiritual researchers we must now have the will without the body. There the will asserts itself straight away in a way, as you are not used to it, otherwise. Otherwise, you are used if you have an impulse of will to bring your body into the field; if the body lies idly in the bed, no impulse of will stirs. We feel impulses of will always connected with the body. Now, however, the soul which wants to penetrate into the spiritual world is beyond the body; the body plays a part in the will impulse. This causes a certain inner tension, as if the will is limited from all sides, as if it is in an impenetrable eggshell, as if you are hindered from thinking, imagining, feeling and perceiving, from walking, from standing, from everything.

You feel the will as self-contained, but as stumbling at the walls everywhere through which it cannot go. You have to do the inner spiritual exercises again so far that you perceive not only this negative of the will, but that you can experience the inside like pressed in the will. Then you realise that you want something again that you do not like to experience. If you apply the will in the outer world, you have the will impulses on the one side, the moral-social order on the other side. You impose duties upon yourself in life, or the moral-social order imposes them upon you. One makes a difference between good will and bad will, between right and wrong; one distinguishes the moral rules from the will impulses in the outer world. This is correct. Now when you have withdrawn from the outer world, the will remains to you in a quite similar way as the ego has just now remained. What you have wanted remains like a memory. I describe how the experiences arise. I have to describe the Imaginative view in this case; this seems maybe fantastic, but I have to show the matters in such a way.

Then you experience something in your pressed will like morality contained in this will. You experience an action that must considered as bad with the outer sensory consciousness in this will in such a way that you have to compensate it. You experience the will in memory in such a way that the compensating force of that what must happen because the immoral action demands this is included in the will. I cannot help saying, if you have done anything bad, it must place itself beside you like a ghostlike enemy who stands beside you, until you have got rid of him by compensating actions. Someone who experiences the will in himself and in his memory what he himself has wanted faces the bad without fail which has an effect, until he has got rid of it by compensating will impulses. You experience what one often calls the inner work of karma.

Then you know for sure: if you experience an act of volition that you have wanted, you experience it in such a way that you recognise that it is done. Since every act of volition belongs, like thinking, to memory. Then you know that it is done, at the same time it has contributed that we advance in our development. Something also spreads over our consciousness that one can call an enlightening purification of that what is done. However, any action has an effect in such a way that you realise how the moral and the mechanical that are separated in the physical life are combined. You realise that something bad or immoral is effective, until you endeavour to extinguish it to a certain degree in the outside life, until we have gained the power to extinguish the bad; that means to make it good. We know if we experience the will in the body-free cognition that this has its inner moral impulses at any price; we know that karma is an active force continuing to have an effect in the world. We experience painfully now recognising that there are many, too many actions in our present life that we cannot compensate. We know about them, because we behold their reality that they go along in our next life on earth and contribute there to our destiny.

You can call investigation of death what I tried to suggest in such a way, because it means to experience what strides through the gate of death as the immortal of the human being. You recognise from all that that the true investigation of death is an intimate, inner research that it is, however, the more a generally human one because it aims at that what one can find in all human beings. For it is due to the outer body and the outer world that we are these particular human beings in the life between birth and death; this does not go with us through the gate of death. That goes with us through the gate of death, which lies behind the physical-sensory realm. That causes the physical-sensory realm and our outer experience between birth and death.

Now we put the following question. Why do we notice nothing of our immortal soul in the usual life? Why does that what can reveal the mystery of death drape itself in such darkness? Because we live on this darkness in the usual soul life between birth and death. We must extinguish our immortal in the usual consciousness, so that we live in the body in the outer physical sensory world, we become fond of it and accomplish our mission on it. If we want to penetrate to our immortal, we must extinguish our everyday life.

If we must extinguish our immortal in our usual consciousness to have the usual physical-sensory everyday life, we are not surprised that we do not find that what can inform us about death within the everyday life for which just the mystery of death must be covered. The spiritual researcher can also show, why one cannot find the mystery of death in the usual life. For while we descend with our spiritual-mental part from spiritual heights to that what is given us by the line of heredity by father and mother, while we combine with the bodily-physical substances and submerge in them, the limited consciousness must extinguish the infinite consciousness. At death where the infinite consciousness lights up again, the limited consciousness is extinguished, and that what can be maintained of it exists as memory. However, the life after death is guaranteed by the spiritual-scientific development of the human soul if it exercises those methods by which it already penetrates into the spiritual world in the usual life and passes the gate of death fully consciously.

Next time, however, I would like to describe the immediate result of that what we tried to discuss spiritual-scientifically today as the mystery of death which is there already during life, and which enables our usual consciousness. Yes, an aversion exists against these matters in the present; one does not like to investigate them. Even good, brilliant thinkers shy away from penetrating into those regions to which I have today pointed related to the death problem.

So it happens that such an excellent person like Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949, Belgian playwright, Nobel Prize in 1911) puts the [most] wrong views of the death problem forward in his recently appeared booklet On Death—which you should read because he has written it so excellently. He who is able to speak about all the other fields of life very brilliantly had to fail with this matter because he has a particular way to approach the matters; namely to describe death with the same cognitive means as the outer matters. He is no spiritual researcher. He does not know that one has to leave these means if the areas should be investigated which are considered with the death problem. Maeterlinck is in the same situation, as once the mathematicians were towards the problem that one called the square of the circle. There were certain times when one sent solutions to mathematical circles how one could transform a circle into a square using a compass. However, all the solutions were dissatisfying, and today everybody is a dilettante who still deals with this problem because it is strictly proved that the problem cannot be solved this way. While one had the opportunity once to count as a genius if one wanted to solve the square of the circle, today someone is a dilettante who still attempts this. Concerning immortality the view of the human beings will also change as the views of those mathematicians changed. For somebody still attempts a solution of the square of the circle in another field today; but one would have to say to him, you demand that one proves the mysteries of death with the means of the usual life. However, it matters, above all, that one realises the proofs. One must also realise that the proofs that want to prove the mystery of death and immortality with means of the usual life are impossible because we have covered the forces of the immortal just in our everyday life, so that we become ego-conscious human beings in the transience.

However, a particular feature still appears with Maurice Maeterlinck. After he has talked at cross-purposes everywhere, he finally concludes—somewhat more brilliantly, belletristically than Max Müller, who did it somewhat more professorially—that the soul should get used to the fact that it cannot really investigate the mysteries of existence in this and not in that life. Then he adds, it is probably good that one cannot investigate them. He would not wish on his worst enemy that he could investigate the real mysteries. He is afraid that the world becomes free of mysteries if they are investigated that it would lose any shine of the mysterious if one penetrated into the mystery of death. He considers it as valuable that a mystery remains a mystery, so that one does not destroy the surprise in the soul if one comes behind such a mystery.

I have already mentioned in another context that the mysteries do not become inferior if one faces them as spiritual science can speak about them. Since just that which we investigate in the mysteries does not make life more superficial, but deeper and deeper. It is still in such a way that if we behold in something of our previous life on earth, this does not solve the riddle of life superficially and does really not deprive the mystery of life of its shine but it makes it even greater, even more brilliant. Spiritual research does not penetrate into the matters so that it deprives the mysteries of existence of their admirable character, but so that our admiration can still increase because one can investigate the reasons behind the matters.

Therefore, one has to answer to someone who speaks about death as Maeterlinck does and says, he does not wish on his worst enemy that the mysteries are investigated, that the mysterious is not taken away from life, while one attempts to investigate it. However, with a trivial word—it is not trivial, but it is meant quite seriously-, one could express what one would like to say to a person who wants to maintain life while he wants to accept it as “unfathomable.” One could ask him, would you want if anybody has been born blind to advise that he should not be operated so that that what is round him remains a mystery to him, and that the shine of the world should not illuminate his inside? Would you like to argue that you did not wish even on your worst enemy that the mystery of the world would be divested of its wonders because he would be operated?—Someone who answers yes could also answer with the question, which Maeterlinck expresses at the end of his book: the world would lose its shine if one investigated its mystery. Spiritual-scientific research shows that this is not the case if one investigates the mysteries of the world. While investigating death our emotional life will just get the view that death forms a necessary link in the whole life, and that not only Goethe's word is true that nature invented death to have a lot of life, but that for the human life the word is true: nature needs death to let perpetually arise always new marvellous things from the origin of life.