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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Between Death and Rebirth
GA 141

Translated by E. H. Goddard and Dorothy S. Osmond from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer. The original texts of the lectures are contained in the series of 10 lectures entitled Life between Death and a New Birth in Relation to Cosmic Facts, in German, Das Leben Zwischen dem Tode und der Neuen Geburt Im Verhaeltnis Zu Den Kosmischen Tatsachen in the Complete Edition of Rudolf Steiner's works.

Lecture I November 05, 1912
All the forces of the soul must be activated if the essence of Anthroposophy is to be grasped. Subjects must be studied from constantly new sides. Since the last third of the nineteenth century the soul need only be duly prepared and revelations will flow from the spiritual world. Activity in the physical world, quietude in the spiritual world. Since 1899, spiritual influences must take effect inwardly instead of being occasioned by outer events. These lectures will deal chiefly with the life after death when the Kamaloka period is over. After death relationships between individuals continue as they were during life on Earth. Homer's seership. Michelangelo and the Medici tombs in Florence. Our attitude to spiritual knowledge can establish the seeds of a true morality. Companionship or isolation in the planetary spheres after death depend upon moral and religious attitudes of soul in earthly life. For karmic adjustments, return into the physical body is essential.
Lecture II November 20, 1912
Consciousness of the ‘I’ acquired as the result of contacts and collisions with the external world and with the body when waking from sleep. Between birth and death a human being may reduce the value of his ‘I’ as the result of causing suffering to others. Effects of the destruction thus caused remain in his astral, etheric and physical bodies; the forces able to repair the damage to these sheaths cannot be drawn from the Earth but only from the planetary spheres after death. Particular qualities acquired on Earth determine whether companionship or isolation will be experienced by the soul after death when passing through the spheres of Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Experiences during Initiation closely akin to those undergone during the life after death. Understanding of every human soul without distinction of creed necessary for Initiation as it is in the Sun sphere. The meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek contains a deep secret of the evolution of humanity. The distinction between Christianity and other faiths. The Mystery of Golgotha was fulfilled for all men, not only for those who call themselves Christians. “Ye shall be as Gods” — difference in implications of these words if uttered by Lucifer or Christ. Forces needed for renewal of the etheric body in the next incarnation must be drawn from the Sun sphere, for renewal of the astral body from the other planetary spheres.
Lecture III December 03, 1912
Relationships established during existence on Earth cannot, to begin with, be changed during the life after death. From the possible suffering caused by this realisation the power is acquired to change conditions in later karma. Those living on Earth are able to have a great influence on those who have died. Reading to the dead. Opposition to Anthroposophy in the upper consciousness may take the form of longing for it in the subconsciousness. Necessity of mediation between the physical world and the spiritual world. Possibilities which do not become reality on the physical plane exist as forces and effects in the spiritual world. Actual experiences are only a fractional part of the possibilities. The purpose of Anthroposophy is fulfilled in the creation of an actual link between the physical and spiritual worlds. The relation of the soul to the body. Analogy of the plant and its connection with the Sun. Man belongs to the Universe, not only to the Earth. Only during the last four centuries has consciousness of this connection been lost. The Christ Impulse imparts feeling of kinship with the Macrocosm. A twelfth century allegory. Reference to Chapter IV in the book Occult Science — an Outline.
Lecture IV December 10, 1912
After death the human being draws forces from the stellar world to the extent to which he developed moral and religious qualities during life on Earth. Man is not meant to witness what happens to him during sleep, i.e. the restoration of forces used up during waking life. Processes of cognition lie within the field of man's consciousness but the life-giving process does not. The expulsion from Paradise. The purpose of life between death and rebirth is that forces may be drawn from the stellar world for shaping the following incarnation. Difference between the life after death and the condition of sleep is fundamentally one of consciousness only. Direct astronomical vision in ancient Egypt but no logical thinking. In the Graeco-Latin epoch there was only remembrance of what had formerly been direct vision. By the time of Copernicus men had eyes only for physical globes in space. Kepler's spiritual insight into the connection of certain events with heavenly constellations. Anthroposophy is a torch by which the spiritual world is illumined for us from a certain time onwards during life after death. Forces once drawn from the stellar worlds must now be drawn from men's own souls. This is the mission of the Earth.
Lecture V December 22, 1912
This was a special lecture given “as a kind of Christmas gift” on the subject of Christian Rosenkreutz and Gautama Buddha: their missions and achievements in the spiritual history of mankind.
Lecture VI January 07, 1913
In our fifth post-Atlantean epoch the sixth is prepared in the souls of men by increasing understanding of the Christ Impulse and of the Mystery of the Holy Grail. The latter is connected with the mission of Buddha in the Mars sphere referred to in the preceding lecture. Of the members of man's being it is the ‘I’ or Ego which, basically speaking, passes through all the periods of existence between birth and death and death and rebirth. But this ‘I’ must not be confused with the ‘I’ recognised in earthly life. The true ‘I’ is the actor in the processes of learning to walk, to speak and to think. There is a natural correspondence between the true form of man and those faculties. The human form stems from the Spirits of Form. These Spirits are opposed by backward Luciferic Spirits who suppress the consciousness proper to the Ego. The bodily organs are pervaded by the Spirits of Form quite differently in each case. Contrast between the head and the rest of the physical body. At a certain stage of development, physical mobility can be held still while complete mobility of the corresponding etheric organs is maintained. Between death and rebirth man experiences the higher ‘I’ of which he is unconscious during earthly life between birth and death.
Lecture VII January 14, 1913
Cyclic seven-year periods in life. Coming of the second teeth marks the culmination of the formative process which works from within the human being. Growth, however, continues until checked by forces working from outside (see diagram). The work of the ‘regular’ Hierarchies and of the Luciferic Beings belonging to those Hierarchies. Essential changes take place in the course of time both in life on Earth and after death. ‘Public Opinion’ and its influence. St. Paul's profound esoteric knowledge exemplified in his teaching of the ‘first Adam’ and the ‘second Adam’. Progressive dimness of man's life of soul after death until the Mystery of Golgotha when the new impulse was given to spiritual life. The Baptism by John the Baptist and its effects. In the life of soul men were under the leadership of the Third Hierarchy to a far greater extent than was the case after the Mystery of Golgotha. The power and influence of the Luciferic beings have no significance in man's life after death. The effect of the Buddha's influence in the Mars sphere (see Lecture Five). In the future it will be characteristic of those who are to become spiritual leaders on Earth that a fundamental change takes place in their whole character when they have reached a certain age. This is the result of the Buddha's influence in the Mars sphere during their life between death and rebirth. Rosicrucianism has always recognised this.
Lecture VIII February 11, 1913
The greatest mysteries of existence are within man himself. The thoughts conceived by divine-spiritual Beings in the past live on in the present mineral, plant and animal kingdoms, just as our memory-pictures continue into our present life. With our memory we grasp a tiny corner of world-creation, namely what has passed over from creation into existence. From the viewpoint of sleep we behold what is hidden from waking life. Results of destructive processes during waking life are repaired during sleep. Processes of destruction in the organism are the precondition of the life of soul. Experiences during the life between death and the new birth. At a certain point there is a reversal of vision. Everything that was outside us in life on Earth becomes our inner world. Preparation of the body of the future earthly existence. When the soul encounters in the spiritual world that which bears a new life germinally within it, this is an experience of the moment of the last death in reverse. Vision of spiritual realities gradually lost by human souls in the course of evolution. Men are now beginning to be interested only in what is sub-sensory, e.g. vibrations, wave lengths, the working of forces. The mission of Anthroposophy is to counter the withering of man's inner spirituality.
Lecture IX March 04, 1913
Spiritual investigation discloses that the super-sensible forces needed by man in order to mould his body and also his destiny are received by him from the Beings of the Hierarchies whom he contacts between death and rebirth. Rejection of spiritual ideas in earthly life means loneliness and darkness in the spiritual world after death, also inability to mould the physical organs efficiently for the next incarnation. Individuals after death are approached by Luciferic or Ahrimanic beings according to their attitude to spiritual knowledge while on Earth. The power exercised by Ahrimanic beings during a soul's life after death can be recognised in characteristics of three successive incarnations. An example: egotistic mysticism in one life, hypochondria in the next, defective thinking in the third. Acting out of love rather than merely out of a sense of duty enables contact to be made after death with spiritual beings who send down to the physical world forces that promote health. Life in the spiritual world depends upon the mode of our life in the physical body on Earth. Relationship with the Buddha can be established during the life between death and rebirth even if there had been no contact in earthly life, but this remains an exceptional case. Nothing can replace the significance of our connection with the Earth. Words of Leonardo da Vinci. Anthroposophy can bridge the gulf between the living and the dead.
Lecture X April 01, 1913
Reference to the book Theosophy, Chapter III on the Soul World, the Soul in the Soul World after Death, the Spiritland, the Spirit in the Spiritland after Death. These descriptions are more closely related to inner conditions of the soul, whereas in the present lecture-course the descriptions are of great cosmic conditions and the functions of the planetary spheres. Experiences of the soul after death in Kamaloka and final discarding of longings connected with earthly life. Passage through the planetary spheres. Quotation from the book Theosophy with special reference to experiences in the Mars region and the mission of Buddha (Lecture Five). At the beginning of the seventeenth century Brahmanism was absorbed into Buddhism in the cultural life of India. Events on Earth are reflected images of happenings in the Heavens. The fruits of the soul's experiences beyond the Saturn sphere between death and rebirth make progress of culture on Earth possible. The stream of spirituality which has its centre of gravity in the Mystery of Golgotha comes from Old Sun. The death on Golgotha was only seemingly a death; in reality it was the birth of the Earth-Soul.