Journey in the astral world after death

From Anthroposophy

page to be developed


In the process after death, after Laying off the etheric body after death, Man continues his journey without physical and etheric bodies, so only with the astral body and 'I'.

What follows is an experience in the Astral world, living one's life backwards as in a rewind of wind-back of what was recorded as daily experiences during the previous life. This takes about the same time as the accumulated length of all nights that the person slept through during incarnate life, starting from the moment of death upto the moment of birth. Man lives through all life experiences but with much more intense emotions, and lived from the perspective of the surrounding and not from one's personal 'I perspective.

This process is also called the journey in kamaloka or the purification of the astral body

Aspects

  • the link with the Third Hierarchy (H3)
  • Moon beings record destiny and inscribe Man's deeds and experiences in the akashic records (1924-01-28-GA240, 1924-03-30-GA239)
  • see also: The etheric heart as an astral recorder

Illustrations

Lecture coverage and references

Dante Alighieri's 'Divine Comedy' (1472)

The Purgatory or Purgatorio is the second part of Dante's Divine Comedy, following the Inferno and preceding the Paradiso.

The purgatory or kamaloka is depicted as a mountain with seven levels of suffering and spiritual growth (associated with the seven deadly sins). Dante climbs the mountain, with as guide the roman poet Virgil, and Beatrice in the last four cantos. While climbing Dante discusses the nature of sin, examples of vices and virtues.

1913-03-12-GA140

quote A

The first period after a Man's death is filled with experiences connected in some way with his recent life on earth. He is emerging from, growing away from, his last earthly life, and during the first period after death the emotions, passions and feelings that affected his astral body all continue to exist. Because during physical incarnation man is conscious of these feelings only when he is actually within his physical body, it is natural that his experiences of all these forces in the astral body is essentially different when he is passing through the region of existence between death and a new birth. In normal cases, although there are many exceptions, a sense of deprivation is present during the first period after death. This is due to the fact that man must live through the experiences in his astral body without having a physical body at his disposal. He still longs for his physical body, and in normal cases this longing holds him back in the sphere of the earth for a longer or shorter period. Life in kamaloca takes its course in the sphere between the earth and the orbit of the moon, but experiences in kamaloca that are of essential significance take place in a realm nearer the earth than, let us say, the orbit of the moon.

Souls who have unfolded only few feelings and sentiments transcending the affairs of earthly life remain bound to the earth sphere by their own cravings for a considerable time. Even outwardly it is easy to understand that a man who for a whole lifetime has cultivated only such feelings as can be satisfied by means of bodily organs and earthly conditions can but remain bound to the earth sphere for a certain time. Impulses and desires quite different from those ordinarily imagined can also cause a soul to remain bound to the earth sphere. Ambitious people, for instance, who cultivate an inordinate longing for certain things within earthly conditions and who depend on the appreciation of their fellow men, thereby develop an emotional disturbance in their astral body that will result in their being bound to the earth sphere for a longer time after death. There are many reasons for which human souls are held back in the earth sphere. By far the greater majority of communications from the spirit world made by mediums stem from such souls and consist essentially of what they are striving to cast off.

Although the motives binding these souls to the earth are mostly ignoble, it need not invariably be so. It may also be due to anxiety for those who have been left behind on earth. Concern for friends, relatives and children may also act as a kind of gravity that holds souls back in the earth sphere. It is important to pay attention to this because by taking it into account we can also help the dead. If, for instance, we realize that the departed soul feels anxiety for a living person — and much can come to our knowledge in this respect — it will help the dead person in his further development to relieve him of this anxiety. We ease the life of someone who has died by relieving him, for example, of anxiety about a child whom he has left behind unprovided for. By doing something for the child, we relieve the dead person of anxiety, and this is a true service of love. Let us picture such a situation. The dead person has not available the means to rid himself of anxiety. From his realm he may be unable to do anything that would ease the circumstances of a child, a relative or a friend. He is often condemned — and in many cases this weighs heavily upon the seer — to bear the anxiety until the situation of the one left behind improves of itself or by circumstances. Therefore, if we do something to better the situation we will have performed a real deed of love for the dead one.

It has frequently been observed that a person who had planned to do something definite in life died and then continued to cling to the plan after his death. We help him if we ourselves attempt to do what he would have liked to do. These situations are not difficult to grasp. We should take account of them because they tally with clairvoyant observation.

There are many other facts that may keep a soul in the etheric sphere of the earth. Eventually he grows beyond this sphere. This process has already partly been described. Our concepts must be recast if we wish to gain an understanding of the life between death and rebirth. It is not really incongruous to speak about the dead in words taken from the conditions of earthly existence because our language is adapted to these conditions. Although what can be expressed in words about life after death tallies only in a pictorial sense, it need not necessarily be incorrect.

Descriptions are never quite accurate that convey the idea that the dead are confined to a definite place like a being who is living in a physical body. What is experienced both after death and in initiation is that one is emerging from the body and one's whole soul-being is expanding. When we follow a soul who has reached the Moon sphere as we call it, the “body” denotes the expansion of the range of experience. In actual fact the human being grows, in a spiritual sense, to gigantic dimensions. He grows out into the spheres, but the spheres of the dead are not separate from each other as in the case of men on earth. They are spatially intermingled. A sense of separateness arises because consciousness is separate. Beings may be completely intermingled without knowing anything of one another.

The feeling of either isolation or community after death of which I spoke during my last visit is connected with the interrelationships of consciousness. It is not as if a dead person were on some isolated island in a spatial sense. He pervades the other being of whose existence he is totally unaware although they occupy the same space.

Let us now consider what comes about mainly when the period of kamaloca is over. When an individual enters his spirit world existence after passing through the Moon sphere, kamaloca is not yet entirely at an end. This does not preclude the fact that it is within the Moon sphere that adjustments take place that are of significance not only as kamaloca experiences, but also for the later life of the individual when he again enters existence through birth.

We can characterize in the following way what is added to the kamaloca experiences. A Man may be so active in life that he brings all his talents to expression. But there are many men of whom we have to say, when we observe them with the eyes of the soul, that according to their faculties and talents they could have achieved in life something quite different from what they have in fact achieved. Such people have lagged behind their talents. ...

quote B

[Intentions .. unfulfilled -> inscriptions in the spheres]

Something else comes into consideration. There are people who nurture a great number of intentions in the course of their life. It need not be a question of talent, but of intentions connected either with trivial or important aims. How much in life merely remains at the stage of intention without being fulfilled!

There are things in this category that need not be considered blameworthy.

[example: Goethe's uncompleted Pandora]

... The very greatness that had conceived the plan of the poem prevented him from completing the work. .. It was not because of shortcomings but in a sense because of his greatness that Goethe was prevented from completing Pandora. This is the case with some of his other works, too. He left them unfinished. ...

Now there is something great in a poet who does not complete a work such as Pandora, but every imperfection in Man is inscribed by him into the Akasha Chronicle in the Moon sphere, and thus an abundance of shortcomings and imperfections come before the eye of the seer in the realm between Earth and Moon. Human imperfections, be they noble or no, are faithfully recorded there. Instances can be found in which, through physical health, through a bodily constitution, providing a good foundation for intellectual gifts, a man would have been capable of achieving certain things, but failed to do so. What he could have become but had not become when he passed through the gate of death — this is inscribed in the Akasha Chronicle.

Do not imagine that the end of Pandora is in some way inscribed in the Moon sphere. What is inscribed has to do with Goethe's astral body, namely, that he had conceived a great, far-reaching plan and only fulfilled a part of it. All such things, including trivial matters, are inscribed between the spheres of Earth and Moon. A person who forms a resolution but has not carried it out before his death, inscribes the fact of non-fulfillment in this sphere. A fairly accurate characterization can be given of what is disclosed to the eye of seership in this realm.

  • A promise that has not been kept, for example, is not inscribed until later, actually not until the Mercury sphere is reached. An unfulfilled resolution, however, is inscribed in the Moon sphere.
  • Anything that affects not only ourselves but also others is not immediately inscribed in the Moon sphere, but only later. Anything that affects us as individuals, that keeps us behind our proper stage of evolution and thus denotes imperfection in our personal development, is inscribed in the Moon sphere.

It is important to realize that our imperfections, especially those that need not have been inevitable, are inscribed in the Moon sphere.

It should not be thought that in all circumstances such an inscription is a dreadful thing. In a certain sense it can be of the greatest value and significance. We will speak in a moment of the meaning and purpose of these inscriptions in the Akasha Chronicle. First it must be emphasized that as the person expands into other spheres, all his imperfections are there inscribed. He expands from the Moon sphere into the Mercury sphere; I am speaking entirely from the aspect of occultism, not from that of ordinary astronomy. Something is inscribed by him in all the spheres, in the Mercury sphere, the Venus sphere, the Sun sphere, the Mars sphere, the Jupiter sphere, the Saturn sphere and even beyond.

Most inscriptions, however, are made within the Sun sphere, for as we heard in the last lecture, outside the Sun sphere a man mainly has to adjust matters that are not just left to his own individual discretion.

Thus after having cast away more or less completely what still draws him to the earth, man journeys through the planetary spheres and even beyond them. The contact thus established with the corresponding forces provides what he needs in his evolution between death and a new birth. When I spoke in the last lecture of man coming into contact with the higher hierarchies and receiving the gifts they bestow, that was the same as saying that his being expands into the cosmos. When the expansion has been completed he contracts again until he has become minute enough to unite as a spirit-seed with what comes from the parents. This is indeed a wonderful mystery. When the human being passes through the gate of death he himself becomes an ever-expanding sphere. His potentialities of soul and spirit expand. He becomes a gigantic being and then again contracts. What we have within us has in fact contracted from the planetary universe. Quite literally we bear within us what we have lived through in a planetary world.

...

[Inscriptions: karma in the spheres and astrology]

Man, however, inscribes his perfections and imperfections into whatever sphere he enters according to their affinity with the characteristic qualities of that sphere.

Between death and rebirth our perfections and imperfections are faithfully recorded in the Akasha Chronicle. Certain attributes are inscribed in the Moon sphere, others in the Venus sphere, others in the Mars sphere, others in the Mercury sphere, others in the Jupiter sphere, and so on. When we are returning to an incarnation in a physical body and our being is slowly contracting, we encounter everything that was inscribed on the outward journey. In this way our karma is prepared. On the path of return we can inscribe into our own being the record of an imperfection we ourselves first inscribed into the Akasha Chronicle. Then we arrive on the earth. Because there is within us everything we inscribed into our being on the return journey, and we are obliged to inscribe a great deal even if not everything, because of this our karma unfolds. Up above, however, everything still remains inscribed.

Now these inscriptions work together in a remarkable way. They are engraved into the spheres, into the Moon sphere, Venus sphere, and so on. These spheres are involved in certain movements so that the following may happen. Let us say that a man has inscribed one of his imperfections into the Moon sphere.

  • While passing through the Mars sphere he has inscribed there a quality of his character through the fact that he acquired in that sphere a certain element of aggressiveness that was not previously in him.
  • Now on the return journey he passes through the Mars sphere again and comes back to the earth. He lives on the earth and has received into his karma what he has inscribed in the Mars sphere but at the same time it stands recorded above him. Up there is Mars, in a certain relationship to the Moon. (The outer planets indicate the relative positions of the spheres.) Because Mars stands in a certain relationship to the Moon, the inscription of the aggressive element and the man's imperfections are, as it were, in the same constellation. The consequence is that when the one planet stands behind the other they work in conjunction. This is the time when the individual in question will tackle his imperfections with the aggressive quality acquired from Mars. So the position of the planets really does indicate what the man himself has first inscribed into these spheres.

When in astrology we ascertain the positions of the planets and also their relative positions to those of the fixed stars, this gives some indication of what we ourselves have inscribed. The outer planets are in this case a less important factor. What actually has an effect upon us is what we ourselves have inscribed in the several spheres. Here is the real reason why the planetary constellations have an effect upon man's nature. It is because he actually passes through the several planetary spheres.

When the Moon stands in a certain relationship to Mars, and to some fixed star, this constellation works as a whole. That is to say, the Mars quality, Moon and fixed star work in conjunction upon the man and bring about what this combined influence is able to achieve.

So it is really the moral inheritance deposited by us between death and rebirth that appears again in a new life as a stellar constellation in our karma. That is the deeper basis of the connection between the stellar constellation and man's karma. Thus if we study the life of a man between death and a new birth we perceive how significantly he is connected with the whole cosmos.

[Saturn sphere – necessity]

An element of necessity enters into a man's connection with the realms lying beyond the Sun sphere.

Let us consider the Saturn sphere in particular.

If during his present earth life a man has made efforts to master the concepts of spiritual science, the passage through the Saturn sphere is of special significance for his next life.

It is in this sphere that the conditions are created that enable him

  • to transmute the forces acquired through the knowledge of spiritual science or anthroposophy
  • into forces that elaborate his bodily constitution in such a way that in his coming life he has a natural inclination towards the spiritual.

A human being may grow up today and be educated as a materialist, Protestant or Catholic. Spiritual science approaches him. He is receptive to it and does not reject it. He inwardly accepts it. He now passes through the gate of death. He enters the Saturn sphere. In passing through it, he absorbs the forces that make him in his next life a spiritual man, who shows even as a child an inclination to the spiritual.

It is the function of every sphere through which we pass between death and rebirth to transform what our souls have assimilated during an incarnation into forces that can then become bodily forces and endow us with certain faculties. Yesterday I could only go as far as is possible in a public lecture when I said that the true Christian impulses were already in Raphael when he was born. This must not be taken to imply that Raphael brought with him some definite Christian concepts or ideas. I have said impulses, not concepts. What has been taken into the conceptual life in one incarnation is united with the human being in quite a different form. It appears as impulses or forces. The power that enabled Raphael to create those delicate, wonderful figures of Christianity in his paintings came from his earlier incarnations. We are justified in speaking of him as a “born Christian.” Most of you know that Raphael had been incarnated previously as John the Baptist, and it was then that the impulses that appeared in the Raphael existence as inborn Christian impulses had penetrated into his soul.

It must always be emphasized that conjectures and comparisons may lead far off the mark when speaking about successive incarnations. To the eyes of seership they present themselves in such a way that in most cases one would not take one life to be the cause of the next. In order that something assimilated in the life of the soul in one incarnation may be able to unfold forces in the next incarnation that work upon the bodily foundation of talents, we must pass through the period from death to rebirth. On earth and with terrestrial forces it is impossible to transform what our souls have experienced in earthly life into forces capable of working upon the bodily constitution itself. Man in his totality is not an earth being, and his physical form would have a grotesque appearance according to modern ideas if only those forces present in the earth sphere could be applied to his bodily development.

When an individual comes into existence through birth he must bear within him the forces of the cosmos, and these forces must continue to work within him if he is to assume human form. Forces that build up and give shape to such forms cannot be found within the earth sphere. This must be borne in mind. Thus in what he is man bears the image of the cosmos in himself, not merely that of the earth. It is a sin against the true nature of man to trace his source and origin to earthly forces, and to study only what can be observed externally in the kingdoms of the earth through natural science. Nor should we ignore the fact that everything a man receives from the earth is dominated by what he brings with him from those super-earthly spheres through which he passes between death and rebirth. Within these several spheres he becomes a servant of one or the other of the higher hierarchies.

What is inscribed in the Akasha Chronicle between the earth and the moon is of special importance because it is there that among other things all imperfections are recorded. It should be realized that the inscribing of these imperfections is governed by the view that every record there is of significance for the individual's own evolution, either furthering or hindering his progress. Because it is there inscribed in the Akasha Chronicle between earth and moon, it also becomes significant for the evolution of the earth as a whole.

[Example illustration: Leonardo da Vinci]

The imperfections of really great men are also recorded in that sphere. One example of tremendous interest for clairvoyant observation is Leonardo da Vinci. He is a spirit of greatness and universality equaled by few others on earth, but compared with what he intended, his actual achievements in the external world in many respects remained incomplete. As a matter of fact, no man of similar eminence left as much uncompleted as Leonardo da Vinci. The consequence of this was that a colossal amount was inscribed by him in the Moon sphere, so much indeed that one is often bound to exclaim, “How could all that is inscribed there possibly have reached perfection on the earth!”

At this point I want to tell you of something that seemed to me quite significant when I was studying Leonardo da Vinci. I was to give a lecture about him in Berlin and a particular observation made in connection with him seemed to be extremely important. It fills one with sadness today to see on the wall of the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan the rapidly disappearing colors that now convey no more than a faint shadow of what the picture once was. If we remember that Leonardo took sixteen years to paint this picture, and think of how he painted it, we gain a definite impression. It is known that he would often go away for a long time. Then he would return to the picture, sit in front of it or many hours, make a few strokes with the brush and go off again. It is also known that many times he felt unable to express what he wished in the painting and suffered terrible fits of depression on this account. Now it happened that a new prior was appointed to the monastery at a time when Leonardo had already been working at the picture for many years. This prior was a pedantic and strict disciplinarian with little understanding of art. He asked impatiently why the painter could not finish the picture, reproached him for it and also complained to Duke Ludovico. The Duke repeated the complaint to Leonardo and he answered, “I do not know whether I shall ever be able to complete this picture. I have prototypes in life for all the figures except those of Judas and Christ. For them I have no models, although in the case of Judas, if no model turns up I can always take the prior. But for the Christ I have no prototype.” That, however, is digressing.

What I want to say is that when one looks today at the figure of Judas in the picture that has almost completely faded, a shadow is to be seen on this figure, a shadow that cannot be explained in any way, either by the instreaming light or by anything else. Occult investigation finds that the painting was never as Leonardo da Vinci really wanted it to be. With the exception of the figures of Judas and the Christ he wanted to portray everything through light and shadow, but Judas was to be portrayed in such a way as to give the impression that darkness dominated the countenance from within. This was not intended to be conveyed by external contrasts of light and shadows. In the figure of Christ the impression was to be that the light on His countenance was shining from within, radiating outwards from within. But at this point disharmony beset Leonardo's inner life, and the effect he desired was never produced. This affords a clue when one is observing the many remaining inscriptions made by Leonardo in the Moon sphere. It is an example of something that could not be brought to fulfillment in the earth sphere.

When the period following that of Leonardo da Vinci is investigated, it is found that Leonardo continued to work through a number of those who lived after him. Even externally there can be found in Leonardo's writings things that later on were demonstrated by scientists and also by artists. In fact, the whole subsequent period was under his influence. It is then discovered that the inscribed imperfections worked as inspirations into the souls of Leonardo's successors, into the souls of men who lived after him.

[Importance of Imperfections (eg evolutionary periods)]

The imperfections of an earlier epoch are still more important for the following epoch than its perfections.

  • The perfections are there to be studied, but what has been elaborated to a certain degree of perfection on the earth has, as it were, reached an end, has come to a conclusion in evolution.
  • What has not been perfected is the seed of the following divine evolutionary process.

Here we come to a remarkable, magnificent paradox. The greatest blessing for a subsequent period is the fruitful imperfection, the fruitful, justifiable imperfection of an earlier period.

  • What has been perfected in an earlier epoch is there to be enjoyed.
  • Imperfection, however, imperfection originating in great men whose influences have remained for posterity, helps to promote creative activity in the following period. Hence, there is obviously tremendous wisdom in the fact that imperfections remain in the neighborhood of the earth, inscribed in the records of the Akasha Chronicle between earth and moon.

This brings us to the point where we can begin to understand the principle that perfection signifies for the different epochs the end of a stream of evolution, and imperfection, the beginning of an evolutionary stream. For imperfection in this sense men should actually be thankful to the gods.

What is the purpose of studies such as are contained in this lecture?

The purpose is to make man's connection with the macrocosm more and more comprehensible, to show how men bear the macrocosm compressed within them and also how they can be related to their spiritual environment. Realization of what these things mean can then be transformed into a feeling that pervades a man in such a way that he combines with this knowledge a concept of his dignity that does not make him arrogant, but fills him with a sense of responsibility, prompts him to believe not that he may squander his powers, but that he must use them.

It must, of course, be emphasized that it would be futile to say, “I had better leave imperfect such faculties as I possess.” Nothing whatever could be gained by such an attitude! If a man were deliberately to ignore his imperfections, he would, it is true, inscribe them as described, but they would have no light nor would they be capable of having any effect. Only those imperfections that are inscribed because they were due to necessity and not to result of laziness can work in the way that has been described

1924-GA239 and 1924-GA240

Alles, was man im Leben durchmacht, alles, was erlebt wird von dem Menschen, das wird beobachtet von jenen Wesen, welche einmal mit den Menschen die Erde bewohnt haben als Geistwesen. Das wird beobachtet und wird in lebendiger Gestalt eingetragen in die Akasha-Substanz. Diese Urlehrer – diese Mondenwesen, die einstmals die großen Lehrer während der Zeit der Urweltsweisheit waren – diese Geistwesen, sie sind die Registratoren für die Erlebnisse der Menschheit.

and

Sie sind es, welche dasjenige aufnehmen, was während der Nächte, die wir innerhalb des Erdendaseins durchleben, in die Akasha-Chronik hineingeschrieben wird; sie durchdringen es mit ihrer eigenen Wesenheit und lassen es uns dann in dem ersten Drittel beim Rücklauf durch das Leben nach dem Tode stärker erleben als die Ereignisse des Lebens hier auf der Erde. Wer hineinschauen kann in das, was ein Toter in diesen ersten Jahrzehnten nach dem Tode durchlebt, der weiß, daß die Erdenerlebnisse ja robust genug sind, sie stoßen und treiben uns, was aber da durchlebt wird durch die Macht magisch wirkenden Lehrer, die auf dem Monde ihre Kolonie aufgeschlagen haben, das wirkt viel stärker, das übertönt, das überfärbt die irdischen Erlebnisse.

1924-01-28-GA240

If we now turn from the cosmic aspect to man himself, we find that human destiny is woven in a wonderful way out of two kinds of circumstances. When two individuals meet each other, one of them, let us say, in his twenty-fifth year, the other in his thirtieth, it may be the case — not, of course, always — that when the one or the other looks back over his life up to this point he realises with absolute certainty that each of them has pursued his path of life as though they were deliberately seeking for one another. To ignore such things simply denotes lack of thought. The child had already set out upon the path that led inevitably to the other human being and the latter's path too led to the common meeting-point. All this took place in the subconscious realm — but what has been at work there? Think of the one individual as A and the other as B. Before entering into earthly life, A descended through the Moon sphere.

The Moon Beings had inscribed in their records and also into his astral body, what he had experienced in common with B in the past earthly life, and these entries made by the Moon Beings in the Akasha Chronicle influenced the paths taken by both A and B. From the moment they meet, the subconscious is no longer all-important, for the two now come face to face and make a certain impression on one another. This is not a case of conservation of the past; it is the present that is now at work. The angels intervene and lead the individuals concerned to further stages. The forces of Sun existence are now operating, so that within a Man's inmost being, Sun and Moon together weave his destiny. This can be clearly visualised by thoughtful perception of the course of human life.

...

I have said that the Moon Beings, the great Recorders, register destiny; but immediately an Initiate encounters someone with whom he was karmically connected in the previous earthly life, the light of the Full Moon radiates to him the recorded ‘entries’ of the other individual.

What we think and do in the immediate present does not at once speak to us, but after a certain time, by no means very long, our deeds that have been registered by the Moon Beings become living and, in a sense, articulate. The Akashic pictures are living pictures; if you discover the content of a past earthly life you learn to know both yourself and the other human being concerned. Common experiences of the past incarnation rise up into consciousness; no wonder that we hear them speak both from within ourselves and from within the other individual. We are united inwardly with those with whom we were associated in the previous earthly life.

1924-03-30-GA239

(KR5-L2)

synopsis: The Moon Beings are connected with man's past. Initiation science and the recognition of karmic relationships. The Akasha Chronicle.

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