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Popular Occultism
GA 94

VII. Effects of the Law of Karma

5 July 1906, Leipzig

Let us continue our considerations on the effects of the law of Karma, and report what has already been explained: The actions of past lives come to expression in the present life as external life-destinies. The inclinations, the temperament, etc. of the past life change into the physical constitution of health in this life.

Another connection presents itself when we study man's life of thoughts. Our thought-life is an activity of the astral body. The nature of our thought-life influences the etheric body of our next life, that is to say, the lasting moral attitude and mentality. Let us study the mood of the Schopenhauer, who was a pessimist. To view life pessimistically or optimistically, produces a quality in the etheric body; in the case of pessimism this attitude is due to the fact that in a past life such a person had unsatisfactory or unhappy experiences. When someone judges his fellow-men negatively, does nothing but criticize, this inclination will express itself in a next life in a definite physical constitution, namely in the fact that this person will soon grow old and not evince much youthfulness. A good preparatory condition for the next life is to meet all people in a loving way and not reject them.

How is heredity linked up with the fact of reincarnation and Karma? Many will try to oppose reincarnation with the objection that there are our families in which all generations were musicians, and they will trace this back to heredity. A great theosophist once said: It is not true that children resemble their parents, it is rather that the parents resemble the children. Let us throw light upon the meaning of these words.

In the beginning of his development the human being had an astral body which had not yet been elaborated by his Ego. During the course of the incarnations the Ego begins to work into the astral body. The astral body and thus becomes more perfect. The capacity of distinguishing truth from error is only an acquisition of later incarnations. Everything in life must first be learned through experience. A true judgment only develops through error. Mathematical truths also arise through the fact that the opposite is false. Man continually works upon his astral body with his Ego; A clairvoyant sees a great difference in the astral body of a developed or undeveloped person.

As a result of this work upon the astral body there is in every human soul a part still filled by lower instincts and passions, and a part spiritually elaborated by the Ego. Francis of Assisi for example had completely transformed and elaborated his astral body. That part of the astral body which has been transformed by the Ego is designated by the occultists with the Oriental expression of Manas.

Far more difficult than the work upon the astral body is the work upon the etheric body, because it is far more difficult to permeate it. This impermeable quality of the etheric body is in part man's own work, in so far as it is the result of former deeds, but in part it is also the work of other higher Beings who were active when the etheric body was formed. The more a human being works into his ehteric body, the more he becomes what is cllled a religious, wise person.

An occultist must not only know the method of working upon the astral body, but also that of working upon the the etheric body. The occult disciple transforms his etheric body consciously, so that he acquires the faculty of exercising a harmonizing influence upon the forces of the etheric body. In the case of an initiate this influence on the etheric body manifests itself in such a way that in certain phases of his life he can command over forces which he would otherwise not have. What thus arises, as a result of the Ego's work upon the etheric body, is called Buddhi, and a person who has reached this stage is called a Chela.

At a certain moment the Chela grows conscious of his past earthly lives.

Last of all, upon a very high stage of development, the human being also gains control over his physical body. Such an initiative is called a "Master&". The part of the physical body over which the human being gained control, is called Atma. In this lecture we cannot deal with the mystery of working into the physical body, and with the flashing up of Atma, which is the result of this work.

Everything coming from a past life which has not yet been elaborated by the human Ego, continues along the path of ordinary heredity and faces him in a new life as the karma of the generations. This is in the case of modern people a more or less larger part coming from the astral body, the greatest part coming from the etheric body and generally everything coming from the physical body.

In the case of an Initiate or a “Master”, we see the following: When he is born, he only bears a small outward resemblance to his family, and in his whole appearance he bears a far greater resemblance to the appearance which he had during a past incarnation, because he was already able to work into his physical body. Heredity works most strongly of all in the incarnation of insignificant personalities but where personality is strongly differentiated and marked, resemblance is slight. Let us take a human nucleus with definite capacities, that was incarnated many centuries ago and now tends towards a new incarnation. In accordance with his capacities he must feel attracted towards parents whose physical qualities most closely correspond with his capacities. He seeks out the family whose bodily constitution and being can give him the most suitable physical body, the one he needs in order to give full expression to his capacities. A great musician will need a line of ancestors that can give him a body with the best organ for his musical activities. This is the meaning contained in the seemingly paradoxical sentence: The parents resemble their children.

Another question arises: Is man's only work in Kamaloca and Devachan to work for himself? On the contrary, he also works on the remaining world. The fact that man continually enters new incarnations is not devoid of meaning and purpose, for each time he underwent an essential transformation. He returns to the earth only when he can learn something new. The events on the physical plane have their origin in the spiritual worlds. What produced the changes in the fauna and flora of Central Europe since the past 1500 years? Spiritual Beings and the not incarnated human souls! The physical is the expression of purely spiritual processes.

Even as the stones of houses do not accumulate of their own accord and become a house, so the animal kingdom cannot change of its own accord. Everything that changes within the animal kingdom proceeds from the astral plane, at least as far as the warm-blooded animals are concerned. Everything that undergoes a change in the vegetable kingdom is directed from the sphere of Devachan. Natural science traces back changes in the animal kingdom to adaptations to external life-conditions. To use the word adaptation is a make-shift. For it is the work of Spiritual Beings. Natural science can never discover the true causes for such transformations, a clairvoyant can see them.

There are Beings concerned with the transformation of the vegetable and animal kingdoms of the earth. Man also cooperates in this, when he lives in Kamaloca and Devanchan. Nothing ever happens by “miracle” everything is determined by lawful ordered influences.

Even as upon the physical plane the human spirit gradually formed communities and states out of small tents and huts, so he also transforms the fauna and the flora in Devachan. We ourselves prepared the nest where we were born. In Kamaloca, to be sure, man works upon the different animal species.

Before the human being incarnates, he has a foresight of his coming earthly life. (Karma) If this life will be a hard one, he may have a strong shock, and under certan conditions he may become an idiot, because his etheric body rebels against the descending into the physical body, so that its center of power becomes dislocated outside the brain.