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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Earthly Death and Cosmic Life
GA 181

Here Steiner presents the results of spiritual research into the metamorphoses of the human physical body in the course of successive incarnations.

Lectures 1 through 7 of 21 from the series entitled, Dying Earth and Living World (Living Cosmos), published in German as, Erdensterben und Weltleben. Anthroposophische Lebensgaben. Bewustseins-notwendigkeiten Fuer Gegenwart und Zukunft. An authorized translation from a shorthand report unrevised by the Lecturer, and edited by Harry Collison.

I. The Present Position of Spiritual Science January 22, 1918
The War meditations. Though civilisation moves at terrific pace, thinking remains slow and rigid. History cannot be grasped by mere intellect. Its concepts do not enter ordinary consciousness, but are more like the impulses in our dream life. Hermann Grimm and Gibbon. Ranke. President Wilson. Socialism. Karl Marx and his theories, where the intellect uses what has become a corpse and builds on it in terms of natural science. His theories are lifeless. America was known before 1492. History belongs to the subconscious. Psycho-Analysis and Prof. Jung. History and politics have nothing to do with ordinary consciousness, and can only be understood and applied by what Spiritual Science calls the ‘imaginative consciousness.’ President Wilson and Don Pedro of Brazil. Love cannot be preached; it belongs to the spirit and its fruition can only be studied in light of cosmic evolution. Socialism and the East.
II. A Contribution to our Knowledge of the Human Being January 29, 1918
Sometimes Art explains better than Science. Anatomy. In study we must avoid mere analogies. The original causative forces for the formation of man's head work from cosmos, and man's head is its image; the rest of the skeleton is from heredity. Man's outer form has a twofold origin. Man is twofold in perception — head and heart. Wilsonism. Scholastic training only touches the head, and goes too fast. When the head is 28 the rest is only about 7, in modern education. A man should not mature for public life before 45. Between death and re-birth we work on the head, and there is added something for the rest of the organism. The older we grow the younger the etheric, but in youth we must learn to supply spiritual ideas as future youthful forces. Education. Nothing now is given to the head that will enable it to reflect cosmic wisdom. Valentine of Bâle. ‘Early bird catches the worm.’ It is in spiritual matters that man has become most materialistic. Inner sincerity is sadly lacking. One must sometimes disregard enquirers into Anthroposophy. Dr. Rittelmeyer. Johannes Müller's attacks.
III. The Living and the Dead February 05, 1918
In our sense perceptions we are awake, in our ideas less so; in our feelings we are not awake. F. T. Vischer. In our willing we are in profound sleep. In the sleeping part of us we are living with the dead. We are only separated by our state of consciousness. The third consciousness is that of waking or falling asleep. In communicating with a dead man, he is in us and we in him. On falling asleep we should put our questions to the dead and receive answers on our awakening. We are not accustomed and therefore do not understand such a language as when the dead speak in us and we from the dead. In the super-sensible world time becomes space. The souls of those dying young remain with us. The souls of those dying old take part of our souls with them. On falling asleep we may address the old, on awaking we hear the messages of the young. The dead children bring religious feeling into our life, and their answers to us are more universal and less individual than those of older people. We become burdensome to those who died old if we have thoughts they cannot entertain. Spirit was eliminated from Western humanity in 869, at the 8th Council at Constantinople. W. Wundt.
IV. The Cosmic Thoughts and our Dead March 05, 1918
However materialistic we are there is something spiritual in the subconscious. We all die leaving certain perceptions unexercised. They continue after death, giving a desire to return and complete them. Formerly one could complete one's life and its task. By our communion with the dead we can prevent our perceptions from being lost. We can so discipline our thoughts as to find the common ground for ourselves and the dead. A hindrance to this is dissipation of thought. We must learn to be silent and wait for inspiration. There is, besides what we see, hear and perceive, an objective thought texture. This is the surging thought world out of which the sense world has arisen. ‘The world of reality is but the fabric of a dream.’ — Shakespeare. This can only be reached by ceasing our prodigality of thought. This ‘thought tissue’ is the common ground where we meet the dead. Finding oneself. The feeling for Karma, and realisation of one's own presence. Communion with the dead, by a remembered feeling of a joint interest. These moments should then lie quiet while used to receive answers from the dead. It is useful to develop an image of the dead person's entity and in regard both to living and dead to gain knowledge of another not by analysis but by harmony. Life is impoverished if the dead are forgotten. It is best to think of those connected with us by Karma. To-day the young consider themselves mature enough to be Councillors of State, they would do better to go to the dead for advice. The Oriental and the Western. Rabindranath Tagore. The Goethe Society. Moszkowski. Socrates. No compromise between truth and falsehood.
V. Man's Connection with the Spiritual World March 12, 1918
Apparent waste in Nature and Life. An example given of subconscious activity. Destiny. Higher consciousness. Our head consciousness is a sieve, but the subconscious part retains what goes through. Animals are all sieve, experience goes right through. The difference is because animals have no hands. Man has made his hands organs of thought. In the hands, which develop subconscious thinking, destiny is seen. Animal head rests over earth. Man's head rests on himself. This is due to cosmos. Fatigue. Judgments of destiny pass through head and are retained by hands. Judgments of thoughts and actions are guided by the astral lotus flowers, and their light extends from space into time. Because man is shut off below by his diaphragm he is linked by his subconsciousness to his destiny. The difference between man and animal is in orientation. The critic within man is usually subconscious, but after death becomes conscious as he discerns the light of the lotus flowers. A sense of humour is useful in Spiritual Science. It defeats another mood that encroaches on Spiritual Science. What is a busybody? What is his opposite?
VI. Feelings of Unity and Sentiments of Gratitude: A Bridge to the Dead March 19, 1918
The existence of the Spirit world, or the beings in it, or the dead in no way depends upon our state of consciousness. But it is easier to have revelation of the hierarchies than of the dead. The concepts of the Spiritual world are difficult for us to grasp because between death and rebirth we are anticipating the life conditions of Jupiter evolution. Man is in a sense disunited, but the Hierarchies are united. If we first learn to understand the Hierarchies, it is easier to communicate with the dead. Feeling of unity with all things. We are united with all our actions, and they enter our karma in the subconscious. Prosperity at the expense of others. Feeling of real unity with the dead is essential, with love sufficient for sacrifice. There is spiritual air between us and the dead that prevents the hearing. The common error about memory. The subconscious is usually grateful for every impression it gets; and conduct and discernment do not enter into it. The dead can only speak to us through the element which passes through the dreams interwoven with our life, and we must take into our consciousness a feeling of gratitude for our life. We must not wish them back; we must be grateful they were with us. They are burdened by us, if we feel we have lost them. The loss of a child. People do not avoid thinking; they avoid effort. They avoid Spiritual Science, not because it is difficult, but because an effort is needed to accept its ideas. Those who find it easy are not always those who benefit. The common ground where we meet the dead is the sense of gratitude for our life here and for former companionship. This feeling of gratitude quivers into the hands and arms.
VII. Confidence in Life and Rejuvenation of the Soul: A Bridge to the Dead March 26, 1918
The psychic atmosphere required for communication between living and dead. Gratitude and unity with environment connected with our karma, also confidence and faith in life. The thoughts of the dead can sail to us on this mood of confidence. Modern education and mere memory. Only in regard to his head, man is in the stream of evolution. The head is oldest, and it is only the head that remembers former incarnations. The remaining organisms are preliminary to later incarnations and only began with the old Moon and were then a parasite. Kant and difficulties to understanding. The brain is a transformed spinal cord, and the present spinal cord is only an appendage. The head develops three or four times quicker than the rest of the body; therefore education should give refreshment to the head by means of the heart. Examination of teachers should be directed to their heart, their power, and not to mere knowledge. When we wish to talk to the dead, there is necessity of an ever-fresh and hopeful outlook and confidence in our dead friends. Regrets for the past are useless both as regards ourselves and others. One must build up life hopes. The essentials repeated. A short but important summary. The ego and astral if separate from the etheric and physical are not yet sufficiently evolved to stand alone, but would merge with other egos and astral. In the world after death man is singled out and separate from other men because each one has his own starry structure and belongs to this or that class of angel or archangel. One soul may have similar stars to another, but not the same starry structure. Nothing is worse than if by our impatience we conjure up a mist before the soul.