At the end of his life Rudolf Steiner took up the task that was his special destiny; to bring to the West a knowledge of reincarnation and karma. To do this he gave over eighty lectures in 1924 in which he explicitly and concretely revealed the destinies of various individuals from one life to the next in order to show how the general laws of karma operate in individual cases. He also revealed many details of the karmic streams of the members of the Anthroposophical Society. These volumes constitute an immeasurable contribution to the understanding of reincarnation and karma, and the tasks of the Anthroposophical Society in connection with the Archangel Michael.
Eleven lectures given at Dornach, Switzerland, from 1st July to 8th August, 1924. Translated by George Adams, with revisions by D. S. Osmond. Published here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.
Translated from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer. The original texts of the lectures are contained in Vol. III of the series entitled Esoterische Betrachtungen karmischer Zusammenhänge in the Complete Edition of Rudolf Steiner's works. (No. 237 in the Bibliographical Survey, 1961).
|Lecture I:||Introduction to these Studies on Karma
Intellectualism and the mood of soul which preceded it: men received the thoughts into themselves from the cosmic ether. As late as the early Middle Ages this old conception persisted in personalities influenced on the one side by Arabism and on the other by Aristotelianism. For the civilisation of Europe a special impulse towards the development of the Spiritual Soul was necessary. Two spiritual streams in conflict: the quasi-Arabian philosophers and the Dominican Scholastics who, as the representatives of individualism, fight against them. Intense inner conflicts at the time of this struggle to make possible the development of the Spiritual Soul and to uphold the reality of individual Thinking.
|July 01, 1924|
|Lecture II:||Forces of Karmic Preparation in the Cosmos
Forces of karmic preparation in the cosmos. The former incarnations of a man work on his later incarnations as a spiritual instinct within the Ego; after death he becomes objectively conscious of the experiences undergone on earth. The web of karmic relationships. The transmutation of the earthly deeds of men into the heavenly deeds of souls. When two human beings are working together something takes place as between the two, transcending the individual experiences of either. The connection of what happens in the human world on earth with what goes on in the spiritual worlds above is at most established for the ordinary consciousness when sacred spiritual actions are brought into the physical world of sense. The heavenly deeds and consequences of certain happenings fall like a fine rain into the mirror-images of thought on earth. But the shades, the very real ghosts of the 19th century move about among the men of the present day who are enticed by the Ahrimanic trend of the age.
|July 04, 1924|
|Lecture III:||The Spiritual Foundations of Anthroposophical Endeavour
The connection between human life on earth and that which goes on in the cosmos. Whatever happens here on earth has its corresponding counterpart in the spiritual worlds. This comes to expression in the writing of the stars. What are the spiritual, cosmic realities underlying such a community as the Anthroposophical Society? By what predisposition is a soul led to Anthroposophy? — A longing for Christ accompanies many souls from their pre-earthly life into their present life on earth: they strive again to know Christ as a Being of the Sun. Christian experience mingles with the conceptions of ancient Paganism. In many souls influences are present which make it possible for men to fall victim to the temptations of Lucifer and Ahriman.
|July 06, 1924|
|Lecture IV:||The Soul's Condition of Those Who Seek for Anthroposophy
Two groups are to be distinguished in the Anthroposophical Movement: the one with a more inward need of the heart to place Christ in the central point, the other finding great satisfaction in knowing Him from the aspect of cosmology and of earthly and human history. The origins of this grouping go back to the times of the Atlantean Oracles. For those souls who come to Anthroposophy to-day, that incarnation is particularly important which falls into the early centuries after Christ. Some human souls have had many, others comparatively few past incarnations on the earth. Souls of the one group, taken as a whole, received Christianity in those early centuries chiefly through their intellect; the others received the impulses paramountly into their will. Experiences in the life between death and a new birth of the mighty Imaginations enacted as a super-sensible spiritual action in the first half of the 19th century.
|July 08, 1924|
|Lecture V:||Spiritual Conditions of Evolution Leading up to the Anthroposophical Movement
The common element in the soul-condition of the two groups in the first Christian centuries was a feeling, slight and delicate but present nevertheless, between falling asleep and waking, of the Spiritual working and weaving in external Nature, and of the instreaming of spirituality in the light-filled spaces of the cosmos. Perception of the innocence of Nature's being. Then men began to ponder about the depth of the forces that bring forth the good and evil in the human soul. This mood of soul arose especially among those who received knowledge and teachings from the East. (‘Bulgars’ — human beings who were most strongly touched by this opposition of the good and evil spiritual powers. Heretics). Then came the time when vision of the rainbow-shining glory over the plants, the desire-nature about the animals, faded away; between falling asleep and waking the whispered language of the spiritual worlds grew fainter but the Spiritual could still be spoken of as of something known to men; in the following time, the feeling of the souls in their life after death was that upon earth the evening twilight of the Logos had set in. With this is connected the rise of the Catechism; the Mass in its totality becomes exoteric instead of being divided, as formerly, into an exoteric and an esoteric portion. The fundamental feeling of the souls in the spiritual world between the 7th and the 20th century was: Christ is no longer being recognised in His true nature; the sacred ceremony is no longer understood. This feeling intensified their sense of the need for a new Christ-experience on the earth.
|July 11, 1924|
|Lecture VI:||The School of Chartres
High places of knowledge, relics of the ancient Mysteries, were present until the 7th or 8th century A.D. In those centres men did not speak of abstract laws of Nature but of the creative power of the Goddess Natura. Then the delicate but living connection with the spiritual world faded but the old teachings were still cultivated in certain centres whose impulses only came to an end in the 12th or 13th century. Knowledge concerning the four Elements, the Planetary System, the ‘Cosmic Ocean’, the secrets of the ‘I’, were cultivated until the turn of the 14th–15th century. The School of Chartres and its teachers. Towards the end of the 12th century, such teachings were still cultivated in the University of Orleans. Platonists and Aristotelians. Brunetto Latini. At the beginning of the 13th century a supremely important ‘exchange of ideas’ took place in the spiritual world with the aim of bringing about a new spirituality on earth. A wonderful co-operation between souls working from above and those who were below on earth was the result. Into this spiritual atmosphere true Rosicrucianism was able to pour its influence.
|July 13, 1924|
|Lecture VII:||The New Age of Michael
The manipulation of the intellect by the individual, personal man leads him to freedom of will. In the first Christian centuries, until the 8th or 9th, the Cosmic Intelligence was flowing down from the heavens to the earth. Scholasticism: a wrestling of mankind for a clear understanding of the Intelligence that is pouring in. The Spiritual Soul, and with it the Intelligence, begins to become part of humanity. Rosicrucian wisdom consisted in this, that one had a certain clarity of understanding for these facts. In the domain of the Sun, Michael gathered around him the souls who then, at the beginning of the 15th century, were united in the super-sensible School of Michael. From now onwards the Michael principle was to be developed through the Intelligence of the human soul itself until the beginning of the new Michael Age on earth at the end of the 19th century. The great crisis from the beginning of the 15th century until our day is the battle of Ahriman against Michael. Ahriman wants to make the former Cosmic Intelligence altogether earthly. The carrying over of the Cosmic Intelligence into the system of nerves and senses (the head-organisation) in man is experienced from the spiritual world as though a cosmic thunderstorm were taking its course. Such an event had last taken place in Atlantean time when the Cosmic Intelligence, while remaining cosmic, had taken possession of the hearts of men. Through spiritualisation of the intellect, the head-man must now again become a heart-man. The end of the century.
|July 28, 1924|
|Lecture VIII:||Ahriman's Fight Against the Michael Principle. The Message of Michael
The previous Michael dominion, its cosmopolitan stamp and its aim: the consciousness that in spite of the Fall, man can after all ascend to the Divinity. Since the 8th or 9th century the Cosmic Intelligence has passed from the hands of Michael into the hands of men. Conflict between the Scholastics and the Mahommedan followers of Aristotelian learning. In the last Michael age an atmosphere of discouragement had come over the ancient Mysteries; it was an age of great trial and probation. The word of Michael at that time was: Man must reach the Pan-Intelligence, he must take hold of the Divine upon earth in sinless form. In the new Michael age men will have to become aware of the way of their salvation, to realise that they must rescue themselves from Ahriman's aim to take possession of the Intelligence that has come into their hands. Anthroposophists must learn to realise that the cosmos to-day is engaged in this battle of Ahriman against Michael. Earthly reflection in Raymond of Sabunda of the teachings of Michael in the super-sensible. It is a Michael impulse to lead men again to the point where they will read in the Book of Nature, not only in the Book of Revelation.
|August 01, 1924|
|Lecture IX:||Entry of the Michael Forces. Decisive Character of the Michael Impulses
The Michael impulses are of a kind to enter deeply and intensely into the whole being of man, hence into his physical karma. The time of the great crisis. The Michael impulses are fraught with great decisions. Human beings who in the present incarnation receive the Michael impulses through Anthroposophy are thereby preparing their whole being in such a way that these Michael impulses enter even into the forces that are otherwise determined merely by the connections of race and nation. The finer, more intimate connections of life must be observed; they extend even into the realms of the Angeloi. While the Michael community is being formed here on earth, the kingdom of the Angeloi is being turned into a twofold kingdom, a kingdom of Angeloi with an upward tendency, and one with a downward tendency. The intellectualism prevailing everywhere to-day is spiritual nourishment for the Ahrimanic Powers. The possibilities for Ahriman to take a hand in civilisation have become ever greater and greater. A diminution or diversion of consciousness in a human being gives Ahriman the possibility to incorporate himself and to work out of that human being. The age is fraught with mighty decisions.
|August 03, 1924|
|Lecture X:||The Michaelites: Their Karmic Impulse Towards the Spiritual Life — The Working of Ahriman into the Once Cosmic and Now Personal Intelligence
In the karmic impulse impelling a man towards the Spiritual are summed up all the experiences undergone in the way described before the souls descended into the present earthly life. Inner initiative of soul is demanded of the anthroposophist. Undermining of initiative through the materialistic intellectualism that is so widespread to-day. Undetermined fear of life. Materialism holds good of physical life only. The tragedy in the karma of men who cannot find their way to spirituality. The time will come when in human beings who are taken hold of by the Spirit in this earthly incarnation, the Spirit will reveal its own power to form the physiognomy, to shape the whole form of man. To those who stand in the field of materialism to-day it will be demonstrated that the Spirit is creative, for they will behold it in outer form and feature. Ahriman's striving to tear the Intelligence from Michael. The Ahrimanic spirits cannot incarnate but can temporarily incorporate themselves and so work in the souls of men. Ahriman has in this way actually appeared as an author. (See end of next lecture. Nietzsche's Anti-Christ and Ecce Homo).
|August 04, 1924|
|Lecture XI:||Evolution of the Michael Principle Throughout the Ages. The Split in the Cosmic Intelligence
Battle waged by the Schoolmen of the Dominican Order to maintain and uphold the personal immortality of man. Averroes declared a heretic. To-day we have to say: “In the sense in which man has become immortal, as to his Spiritual Soul, he has indeed attained immortality — the continued consciousness of personality after passing through the gate of death — but he has attained this only since the time when a Spiritual Soul took up its abode in earthly man.” The Sun-Intelligence of Michael and the Planetary Intelligences. In the 9th century A.D., with the descent of the Cosmic Intelligence into men, the Sun-Intelligence of Michael and the Planetary Intelligences gradually came into cosmic opposition one with another. In the Ecumenical Council of 869 A.D. the signal was given for an overwhelming event in the spiritual world above: a split among the Angels who guide human souls, leading to disorder in the karma of men. This is the chaotic element in the history of recent times. With the penetration of Michael to earthly rulership, Michael brings the power which is to bring order again into the karma of those who have gone with him. The restoration of the truth in karma. The mission of Anthroposophy.