Kamaloka journey in the astral world after death
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. These experiences during incarnate life are processed during the period of sleep and inscribed into our astral body, see also see also: The etheric heart as an astral recorder.
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 (the indian sanskrite term used in theosophy) or purgatory (in Christian terminology) or also simply the purification of the astral body.
Of the fruits of the earth life, after processing in this journey, only the purified package with noble good moral contents can go along with the I into the spiritual world, where it will be integrated into the spirit self or causal body. The rest remains in the astral world as a personal 'package' that is taken along again in the next life during the descent towards incarnation.
- kamaloka or purgatory (also 'place of desires')
- an area of the astral world (lower regions), so not some region set apart: kamaloka is where we are, and the spirits of the dead are always hovering around us, but they are inaccessible to our physical senses.
- length of this period:
- about one-third of the length of his past life
- we experience the memory that was registered during the time we slept all of our nights during incarnate life .. hence approx. a third of the total lifetime (1915-11-16-GA157A)
- how it is experienced:
- man lives through his whole life again, but backwards. He goes through it, day by day, with all its experience's, events and actions, back from the moment of death to that of birth.
- "Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:3) refers to this point, before Man can truly enter the spirit world (1909-01-26-GA107, also 1906-08-24-GA095)
- it makes the soul more independent of physical desires
- typically strong feelings of deprivation and burning thirst, having to do with all desires that are still in the astral body, but no physical body or organ to satisfy them
- the more one has already made himself independent in his life and taken an interest in contemplating spiritual things, the easier this kamaloka time will be for him.
- the process of purification, freeing itself from this bond of attraction to the outer world and all physical and sensual desires is called in spiritual terms 'consuming fire of the spirit' (1910-GA013)
- specific case examples described: suicide, vivisectionist, materialistic person vs someone who lives very sober (1906-08-24-GA095)
- note: both conscious and subconscious desires: during the kamaloca period it is immaterial whether wishes, desires and passions are present in our upper I-consciousness or astral subconsciousness. Both work as burning factors after death, and wishes and desires we have concealed during life are even more active after death. "Things of considerable significance and of which we are not aware are constantly happening to our souls" and these influences impact and transform our soul life. (1912-12-28-GA140)
- man lives through his whole life again, but backwards. He goes through it, day by day, with all its experience's, events and actions, back from the moment of death to that of birth.
what happens spiritual-scientifically
- from the proess of living through our life experiences backward, a moral judgment on our worth as human beings emerges as we judge, in a moral sense, the events through which we pass in reverse. As a result, after death, we acquire and form a spiritual body, formed out of our moral qualities. (1923-05-17-GA226)
- Moon beings record destiny and inscribe Man's deeds and experiences in the akashic records (1924-01-28-GA240, 1924-03-30-GA239)
- at the end of the process: the soul raises the higher ennobled part of his astral body, and leave the lower part behind
- a karmic package is left behind (1924-05-16-GA236), that is picked up again when the soul descends again towards incarnation (1922-10-14-GA218) - see FMC00.498 below
- The remaining part is the third human astral corpse or husk, consisting of the lower impulses and desires which have not been transmuted. Normally this gradually dissolves. With savages and uncultivated people, a large part of the lower astral body remains behind; with more highly developed people there is much less.
- This corpse may continue to hover about in astral space, and may be a source of many dangerous influences. It may manifest in spiritualistic seances and come to speak through a medium.
- it is important that this third astral corpse is dissolved completely before a man returns to a new incarnation. Though this mostly happens, in exceptional cases a man may reincarnate quickly before his astral corpse has dissolved and this gives specific difficulties. (1906-08-24-GA095)
- on the importance of the Christ Impulse for transition between the astral world and spirit world, see Christ Module 20 - After death
- Purgatorio in Dante's Divina Commedia
- the link with the Third Hierarchy (H3), see also Structure of Man between death and a new birth (eg Schema FMC00.132)
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God
Note: Robert F. Kennedy quoted these lines in his speech on 4th April 1968, the day of the assassination of Martin Luther King, before he himself was murdered on 5th of June. Matthew 18:3
Verily I say unto you, unless ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven
FMC00.498 is an overview diagram showing the process between death and a new birth, with some (non-exhaustive) references for the various phases. This can serve as a map to organize one's study coverage and initialize one's overall understanding based on the references that provide a starting point for the different phases and aspects. As most schemas on this site, also this schema originates from a pencil drawing made along such study process (DL 2016).
Schema FMC00.499 is an illustration with excerpts from the fresco in the Camposanto Monumentale in Pisa, Italy. The fresco is 564 x 1497 cm and attributed to Buonamico Buffalmacco (1262-1340) who painted it around 1336-1341. The work was heavily damaged but has been beautifully restored. Rudolf Steiner describes the composition extensively in 1913-12-23-GA150 and states that though it is currently known as 'The triumph of death' it was known before as Purgatory (which corresponds to kamaloka), explaining why Purgatory is the correct name for the work.
Rudolf Steiner explains that the painting depicts the message to the living ones, that "the secrets of existence that must be contemplated after death" and the medieval mystery of the three members of man is given form through the hermit sitting above the three coffins (lower right). The hermit, in peaceful contemplation symbolically represents the relationship between man's soul and the eternal. He guards three coffins, that represent the physical body (skeleton in first coffin), the etheric body (corpse half eaten by worms), and the astral body (a body not long dead and just beginning to decay, in the third coffin). Of course the huge composition contains a lot more. Click once or twice to enlarge.
See also the upper right corner representing the battle for the human soul in the astral world, see detail Schema FMC00.499A on Christ Module 14 – the counterforces: Lucifer, Ahriman and Sorat
Schema FMC00.499B shows the early 14th century fresco Purgatory (see also Schema FMC00.499): above the version before restauration: severely damaged but with still vibrant colours. Therefore below a copy of the work: an engraving which can be helpful as a map to the various parts of the composition.
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.
Man also participates in this astral world, which we have now become acquainted with, during his physical life. Daily and hourly we participate in the processes of the astral world. We have become acquainted with the processes and entities which can be encountered in the astral world by those whose eyes are open to this astral world. Today, again, a special object is to be singled out; we want to look more closely today at that which Theosophy calls "Kamaloka".
If we want to understand what Kamaloka is, we must first of all be clear about the fact that we have already passed through many incarnations within our development, that many others have preceded our present incarnation in the flesh and that many others will follow. The essential thing is that we have to fulfill our tasks in this incarnation, in this earthly life.
It is quite wrong to claim that Theosophy distracts from life or wants to lead man into a kind of cloud-cuckoo-land, that it preaches an asceticism turning away from actual life. This would be a completely wrong conception of what the theosophical movement wants. Rather, theosophy regards this very life as the instrument, the tool, which we must use to fulfill our highest spiritual tasks in development. Whoever withdraws from life, whoever does not use the spiritual forces also in the physical, does not fulfill the tasks he has on earth. Therefore, it is one of the ideals of Theosophy that we derive the greatest possible benefit from our physical existence for the highest spiritual life.
We know, honored ones present - and we must presuppose this today - that that which is the human spirit, which is the actual true self within us, that this is embodied not once but innumerable times within earthly existence. We know that our present earthly existence has been connected to innumerable earlier ones and that this present life will be followed by further embodiments. We must now ask the question:
What does the human self accomplish in the time between two embodiments?
How does the human self participate in the other worlds that are not like our physical world?
Only by going on pilgrimage through the other worlds in the appropriate manner is it able to derive the greatest possible benefit from physical existence for its development. The worlds through which the human self goes on pilgrimage in the interim between two embodiments are first the Kamaloka and then the Devachan. When the physical shells have fallen off the human being [after death], he enters the world which we call in Theosophy "Kamaloka", the "place of desire". And when he has stayed there for a while, then he goes on pilgrimage through the higher spiritual world, the Devachan, which we also call the "world of the spiritual." Through these worlds the human soul goes on pilgrimage after its earthly pilgrimage. If we want to understand what part these two other worlds, Kamaloka and Devachan, have in the whole pilgrimage of the human soul, then we must think first of all of the tasks that man has to accomplish in his earthly existence. These have always been taught in the secret sciences and are taught to us today also by Theosophy.
They are quite specific tasks which the human self has to undertake and perform within its earthly pilgrimage. Man has to train certain virtues which he cannot train outside the earth pilgrimage. There are seven such virtues. Man came to earth with the dispositions for these virtues, and at the end of his earthly pilgrimage he should have fully developed these seven virtues.
If I may use a comparison, I would like to say: Let us imagine a human being who is endowed with the greatest benevolence for his fellow human beings according to his disposition, a completely generous human being, but who is completely poor and therefore is not able to make use of his charitable disposition. In this way, the human character is also, according to its disposition, a highly perfected one; however, the human being is not yet able to make real use of it. Now let us imagine that this man moves to a still uncultivated, distant country and tries to make it productive; he produces so much there by hard work that he now acquires the means which, when he comes back to his original country, he can now make available for the benefit of his fellow men. Now he can carry out what was contained in him as a disposition of generosity.
There now begins for the soul an essentially different period, the period of breaking its attachment to the physical world. The best way to think of this is to remind ourselves that for an occultist, urges and desires are realities. What is contained in the astral body is not nullified after death when the physical body has been laid aside, but all the urges and desires are present.
- An individual who was a bon vivant during his life does not, at death, lose his desire for tasty foods, for desire clings to the astral body and he has lost only the physical equipment of palate, tongue and so forth, by means of which his greed can be satisfied. His condition — the same applies in different circumstances — is comparable with that of someone suffering from terrible thirst without any possibility of quenching it. He suffers from these longings and from having to forego the prospect of satisfaction.
The purpose of this suffering is to realize what it means to have desires that can be satisfied only through physical instruments. This condition is called kamaloka, the realm of desires, where habits are broken. It lasts for a third of the time spent by a human being between birth and death; perhaps it may be possible later on to go into the matter with greater exactitude. So if somebody dies at the age of sixty, it can be said that he spends twenty years, a third of his past life, in kamaloka. As a rule, therefore, kamaloka lasts until a man has rid himself of all the desires that still link him with the physical plane. This is one aspect of the period of kamaloka, but we will study it from still another.
What a human being experiences in the physical body is of value to him because he evolves to higher and higher stages as the result of what he achieves on earth. That is the essential point.
On the other hand, between birth and death there are many inducements for individuals to create hindrances to their development, for example, everything that we do to injure our fellowmen. Every time when, at the cost of our fellowmen, we provide satisfaction for our own aims or embark for self-seeking reasons on a project that in some way affects the world, we create a hindrance to our development: Suppose we give someone a box on the ear. The physical and moral pain connected with it is a hindrance to our development. This hindrance would cling to us for all our subsequent lives in future epochs if we did not expunge it from the world. During the kamaloka period an impetus is given to a man to get rid of these hindrances to his development. During the period of kamaloka the individual concerned lives over his whole life in backward order, three times as quickly. The significant characteristic of the astral world, of kamaloka, is that things appear as mirror images; this is the confusing element for a pupil when he enters the astral world. For example, he must read the number 346 as 643; he must reverse everything when he is looking into the astral world. So it is, too, in the case of all passions.
Suppose that as the result of genuine training or of pathological conditions, someone becomes clairvoyant. To begin with he sees his own urges and passions streaming out of him; they appear to him in the form of varied shapes and figures and approach him in rays from all sides. Whoever becomes clairvoyant in the astral realm, either in a well-regulated or irregular way, immediately sees these figures, which in the form of goblins or demonic beings, rush upon him. This is a distressing experience, especially for individuals who become clairvoyant but know nothing of it. It will become less and less infrequent because we are living today in a stage of evolution when in a number of people the eyes for sight of the spiritual world are opening. This must also be said in order that those who have the experience shall not be alarmed. Spiritual science is there in order to lead human beings into the spiritual world. For many who become clairvoyant this process is fraught with much unhappiness of soul because they are ignorant of the facts and conditions. They see things in the astral world as mirror images and they see other things too in the spiritual world. In the physical world, when a hen lays an egg, you see the hen first and then the egg; astrally you see the process of the egg going back into the hen. Everything is experienced in reverse order.
Think of a man who dies at the age of sixty and then, in kamaloka, comes to the point when, at the age of forty he gave someone a box on the ear. Now, in kamaloka, he experiences everything that the other person experienced; he is literally within the body of the other. Thus, a man lives his life in backward order to his birth. But he does not experience pain only, he also experiences the happiness, the joy he has given to others. Little by little the soul discards the hindrances to its development and evolution and must be thankful to the wise guidance that makes compensation possible. Together with the will to make compensation, the soul receives something like a token, an impulse of will, to make reparation for what hinders its development, and in the coming life it is able to do this. We realize, therefore, that the objective tableau is something altogether different from the retrospective experiences in kamaloka. In kamaloka a man experiences exactly what the other person felt as the result of his behavior; he experiences the other side of his own deeds. But not only has this cross to be experienced. What has been experienced here (in physical life) as pain, is experienced in yonder world as happiness and joy — happiness and joy, therefore, as the opposite of what they were in the physical world. The purpose of kamaloka is to impart to the soul what the tableau of memory cannot impart, namely, the experiences of pain and joy in retrospect.
When kamaloka has been lived through, a kind of third corpse is discarded. The physical corpse was the first to be discarded, then the etheric corpse, which dissolves in the cosmic ether, and now the astral corpse is laid aside. This astral corpse comprises whatever from a man's astral body has not yet been purified and regulated by his I. What was once his as the bearer of his urges and passions and has not been transformed and spiritualized by his I, frees itself after the period of kamaloka.
On his further path the human being takes with him an extract of his astral body:
- firstly, the sum total of all the good will impulses, and
- secondly, what he has transformed through his I.
Whatever urges he has ennobled into beauty, goodness and morality form the extract of his astral body. At the end of the kamaloka period the human being consists of the I and around it he has laid, as it were, the extracts of the astral body and of the etheric body, the good impulses of will.
lecture titled: Life of the soul in kamaloka
In the case of ordinary men, then, we have two corpses, of the physical and etheric bodies; we are left with the astral body and the I. If we are to understand this condition we must realise that in his earthly life a man's consciousness depends entirely on his senses. Let us think away everything that comes to us through our senses: without our eyes, absolute darkness; without our ears, absolute silence; and no feeling of heat or cold without the appropriate senses. If we can clearly envisage what will remain when we are parted from all our physical organs, from everything that normally fills our daytime consciousness and enlivens the soul, from everything for which we have to be grateful to the body all day long, we shall begin to form some conception of what the condition of life is after death, when the two corpses have been laid aside. This condition is called kamaloka, the place of desires. It is not some region set apart: kamaloka is where we are, and the spirits of the dead are always hovering around us, but they are inaccessible to our physical senses.
What, then, does a dead man feel? To take a simple example, suppose a man eats avidly and enjoys his food. The clairvoyant will see the satisfaction of his desire as a brownish-red thought-form in the upper part of his astral body. Now suppose the man dies: what is left to him is his desire and capacity for enjoyment. To the physical part of a man belongs only the means of enjoyment: thus we need gums and so forth in order to eat. The pleasure and the desire belong to the soul, and they survive after death. But the man no longer has any means of satisfying his desires, for the appropriate organs are absent. And this applies to all kinds of wishes and desires. He may want to look at some beautiful arrangements of colours — but he lacks eyes; or to listen to some harmonious music — but he lacks ears.
How does the soul experience all this after death? The soul is like a wanderer in the desert, suffering from a burning thirst and looking for some spring at which to quench it; and the soul has to suffer this burning thirst because it has no organ or instrument for satisfying it. It has to feel deprived of everything, so that to call this condition one of burning thirst is very appropriate. This is the essence of kamaloka. The soul is not tortured from outside, but has to suffer the torment of the desires it still has but cannot satisfy.
Why does the soul have to endure this torment? The reason is that Man has to wean himself gradually from these physical wishes and desires, so that the soul may free itself from the Earth, may purify and cleanse itself. When that is achieved, the kamaloka period comes to an end and man ascends to the spirit world.
How does the soul pass through its life in kamaloka? In kamaloka a man lives through his whole life again, but backwards. He goes through it, day by day, with all its experience's, events and actions, back from the moment of death to that of birth. What is the point of this? The point is that he has to pause at every event and learn how to wean himself from his dependence on the physical and material. He also relives everything he enjoyed in his earthly life, but in such a way that he has to do without all this; it offers him no satisfaction. And so he gradually learns to disengage himself from physical life. And when he has lived through his life right back to the day of his birth, he can, in the words of the Bible, enter into the “kingdom of Heaven”. As Christ says, “Unless ye became as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven.” All the Gospel sayings have a deep meaning, and we come to know their depth only by gradually entering into the divine wisdom.
There are some particular moments in kamaloka which must be singled out as specially important and instructive.
Among the various feelings a man can have as part of his ordinary life is the sheer joy of being alive, of living in a physical body. Hence he feels the lack of physical body as one of his worst deprivations. We can thus understand the terrible destiny and the horrible torments which have to be endured by the unfortunates who end their lives through suicide.
- When death comes naturally, the three bodies separate relatively easily. Even in apoplexy or any other sudden but natural form of death, the separation of these higher members has in fact been prepared for well in advance, and so they separate easily and the sense of loss of the physical body is only slight.
- But when the separation is as sudden and violent as it is with the suicide, whose whole organism is still healthy and firmly bound together, then immediately after death he feels the loss of the physical body very keenly and this causes terrible pains. This is a ghastly fate: the suicide feels as though he had been plucked out of himself, and he begins a fearful search for the physical body of which he was so suddenly deprived. Nothing else bears comparison with this. You may retort that the suicide who is weary of life no longer has any interest in it; otherwise he would not have killed himself. But that is a delusion, for it is precisely the suicide who wants too much from life. Because it has ceased to satisfy his desire for pleasure, or perhaps because some change of circumstances has involved him in a loss, he takes refuge in death. And that is why his feeling of deprivation when he finds himself without a body is unspeakably severe.
But kamaloka is not so hard for everyone. If a man has been less dependent on material pleasures, he naturally finds the loss of his body easier to endure. Even he, however, has to shake himself free from his physical life, for there is a further meaning in kamaloka.
During his life a man does not merely do things which yield pleasure; he lives also in the company of other men and other creatures. Consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, he causes pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, to animals and men. All such occasions he will encounter again as he lives through the kamaloka period; he returns to the place and moment when he was the cause of pain to another being. At that time he made someone else feel pain; now he has to suffer the same pain in his own soul. All the torment I ever caused to other beings I now have to live through in my own soul. I enter into the person or the animal and come to know what the other being was made to suffer through me; now I have to suffer all these pains and torments myself. There is no way of avoiding it. All this is part of the process of freeing oneself — not from the working of karma, but from earthly things.
A vivisectionist has a particularly terrible life in kamaloka.
It is not for a theosophist to criticise what goes on in the world around him, but he can well understand how it is that modern men have come to actions of this kind. In the Middle Ages no one would have ever dreamt of destroying life in order to understand it, and in ancient times any doctor would have looked on this as the height of madness. In the Middle Ages a number of people were still clairvoyant; doctors could see into a man and could discern any injury or defect in his physical body. So it was with Paracelsus, for example. But the material culture of modern times had to come, and with it a loss of clairvoyance. We see this particularly in our scientists and doctors; and vivisection is a result of it. In this way we can come to understand it, but we should never excuse or justify it. The consequences of a life which has been the cause of pain to others are bound to follow, and after death the vivisectionist has to endure exactly the same pains that he inflicted on animals. His soul is drawn into every pain he caused. It is no use saying that to inflict pain was not his intention, or that he did it for the sake of science or that his purpose was good. The law of spiritual life is inflexible.
How long does a man remain in Kamaloka? For about one-third of the length of his past life. If for instance he has lived for seventy-five years, his time in Kamaloka will be twenty-five years.
And what happens then? The astral bodies of people vary widely in colour and form.
- The astral body of a primitive kind of man is permeated with all kinds of shapes and lower desires: its background colour is a reddish-grey, with rays of the same colour emanating from it; in its contours it is no different from that of certain animals.
- With a highly educated man, or an idealist such as Schiller or a saint such as St. Francis of Assisi, things are quite different. They denied themselves many things; they ennobled their desires and so forth. The more a man uses his I to work on himself, the more rays will you see spreading out from the bluish sphere which is his I-centre. These rays indicate the forces by means of which a man gains power over his astral body.
Hence one can say that a man has two astral bodies: one part has remained as it was, with its animal impulses; the other results from his own work upon it.
When a man has lived through his time in kamaloka, he will be ready to raise the higher part of his astral body, the outcome of his own endeavours, and to leave the lower part behind. With savages and uncultivated people, a large part of the lower astral body remains behind; with more highly developed people there is much less. When for example a Francis of Assisi dies, very little will be left behind; a powerful higher astral body will go with him, for he will have worked greatly on himself.
[Third human corpse - spiritualistic seances, dissolves, exceptionally not when quick reincarnation]
The remaining part is the third human corpse, consisting of the lower impulses and desires which have not been transmuted. This corpse continues to hover about in astral space, and may be a source of many dangerous influences.
1 - This corpse continues to hover about in astral space, and may be a source of many dangerous influences.
This, too, is a body which can manifest in spiritualistic seances. It often survives for a long time, and may come to speak through a medium. People then begin to believe that it is the dead man speaking, when it is only his astral corpse. The corpse retains its lower impulses and habits in a kind of husk; it can even answer questions and give information, and can speak with just as much sense as the “lower man” used to display. All sorts of confusions may then arise, and a striking example of this is the pamphlet written by the spiritualist, Langsdorf, in which he professes to have had communication with H. P. Blavatsky. To Langsdorf the idea of reincarnation is like a red rag to a bull; there is nothing he would not do to refute this doctrine. He hates H.P.B. because she taught this doctrine and spread it abroad. In his pamphlet he purports to be quoting H.P.B. as having told him not only that thedoctrine of reincarnation was false but that she was very sorry ever to have taught it. This may indeed be all correct — except that Langsdorf was not questioning and quoting the real H.P.B. but her astral corpse. It is quite understandable that her lower astral body should answer in this way if we remember that during her early period, in her Isis Unveiled, she really did reject and oppose the idea of reincarnation. She herself came to know better, but her error clung to her astral husk.
2 - This third corpse, the astral husk, gradually dissolves, and it is important that it should have dissolved completely before a man returns to a new incarnation.
3 - In most cases this duly happens, but in exceptional cases a man may reincarnate quickly, before his astral corpse has dissolved. He has difficulties to face if, when he is about to reincarnate, he finds his own astral corpse still in existence, containing everything that had remained imperfect in his former life.
Kamaloka is a time of renunciation for man because he must relinquish his desires to immerse himself in the spiritual world. This kamaloka period lasts longer or shorter depending on whether the human soul is ready to renounce his yearnings. What matters here is how man has already learned to regulate his passions and enjoy life despite refraining from such cravings.
There are pleasures and desires of a lower and higher nature. Enjoyments and desires for the satisfaction of which the physical body is not the actual instrument of gratification, we call higher pleasures and aspirations. These do not belong to that which Man has to get rid of after death. If a Man still has something that draws him to physical existence, lower enjoyment, he remains in the astral region of kamaloka. Then, when nothing more draws him to these excesses, he becomes capable of living in the spiritual world. The soul’s sojourn in kamaloka lasts about a third of its past life.
It therefore depends on how old the person was when he died, i.e. how long he lived on Earth. Yet the time in kamaloka is by no means just terrible and unpleasant. In any case, it makes the soul more independent of physical desires.
The more he has already made himself independent in his life and taken an interest in contemplating spiritual things, the easier this kamaloka time will be for him. He thereby becomes freer and thus becomes grateful for this time.
The feeling of deprivation in earthly life transforms into a sense of bliss in kamaloka. Paradoxical feelings arise for all a person has learnt to do without during his life, in that it grows into enjoyment in kamaloka.
Man passes through the kamaloka period which lasts roughly a third of the length of his earthly life — in reverse sequence. Assuming that a man dies in his fortieth year, he will pass through all the experiences he has gone through in life in the reverse order, beginning with his thirty-ninth year, then the thirty-eighth, the thirty-seventh, the thirty-sixth, and so on. He really does go through his whole life backwards, right to the moment of birth.
This is what is behind the beautiful words of Christ, when He was speaking of Man’s entry into the spiritual world or the kingdom of Heaven: ‘Except ye … become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven!’ In other words, Man lives backwards as far as his first moments and being absolved of everything, he can then enter the spirit world or the kingdom of heaven, and be in the spiritual world from then onwards.
This is difficult to imagine, as we are so very accustomed to time being absolute, like it is on the physical plane. It requires considerable effort to get used to this, but it will come.
For the I there are two kinds of desires in life:
- the desires that have their source in the bodies, and therefore must be satisfied within these bodies, ceasing with the disintegration of these bodies, and
- the desires that have their source in the spiritual nature of the I.
As long as the I is within the bodies, these desires also are satisfied by means of bodily organs, for in the manifestations of the bodily organs the hidden spirit is at work, and in all that the senses perceive they receive at the same time something spiritual. This spiritual element exists also after death, although in another form. All spiritual desires of the ego within the sense world exist also when the senses are no longer present.
If a third kind of desire were not added to these two, death would signify merely a transition from desires that can be satisfied by means of the senses to those that find their realization in the revelation of the spiritual world. This third type of desire is produced by the I during Its life in the sense world because it finds pleasure in this world also in so far as there is no spirit manifest in it. The basest enjoyments can be a manifestation of the spirit. The gratification that the hungry being experiences in taking food is a manifestation of spirit because through the eating of food something is brought about without which, in a certain sense, the spirit could not evolve. The I can, however, transcend the enjoyment that this fact of necessity offers. It may long for good tasting food, quite apart from the service rendered the spirit by eating.
The same is true of other things in the sense world. Desires are created thereby that would never have come into being in the sense world had the human I not been incorporated in it. But neither do these desires spring from the spiritual nature of the I. The I must have sense enjoyments as long as it lives in the body, also in so far as it is spiritual; for the spirit manifests in the sense world and the ego enjoys nothing but spirit when, in this world, it surrenders itself to that medium through which the light of the spirit radiates. It will continue to enjoy this light even when the sense world is no longer the medium through which the rays of the spirit pass. In the spirit world, however, there is no gratification for desires in which the spirit has not already manifested itself in the sense world.
When death takes place, the possibility for the gratification of these desires is cut off. The enjoyment of appetizing food can come only through the physical organs that are used for taking in food: the palate, tongue, and so forth. After throwing off the physical body man no longer possesses these organs. But if the I still has a longing for these pleasures, this longing must remain ungratified. In so far as this enjoyment is in accord with the spirit, it exists only as long as the physical organs are present. If it has been produced by the I, without serving the spirit, it continues after death as desire, which thirsts in vain for satisfaction. We can only form an idea of what now takes place in the human being if we think of a person suffering from burning thirst in a region in which water is nowhere to be found. This, then, is the state of the I, in so far as it harbors, after death, the unextinguished desires for the pleasures of the outer world and has no organs with which to satisfy them. Naturally, we must imagine the burning thirst that serves as an analogy for the conditions of the I after death to be increased immeasurably, and imagine it spread out over all the other still existing desires for which all possibility of satisfaction is lacking.
The next task of the I consists in freeing itself from this bond of attraction to the outer world. In this respect the I has to bring about a purification and emancipation within itself. All desires that have been created by it within the body and that have no inherent rights within the spiritual world must be rooted out. Just as an object takes fire and is consumed, so is the world of desires, described above, consumed and destroyed after death. This affords us a glimpse into the world that supersensible knowledge designates as the 'consuming fire of the spirit'.
All desires of a sensual nature, in which the sensual is not an expression of the spirit, are seized upon by this “fire.” The ideas that supersensible knowledge must give in regard to these processes might be found to be hopeless and awful. It might appear terrifying that a hope, for whose realization sense organs are necessary, must change into hopelessness after death; that a desire, which only the physical world can satisfy, must turn into consuming deprivation.
Such a point of view is possible only as long as one does not consider the fact that all wishes and desires, which after death are seized by the “consuming fire,” in a higher sense represent not beneficial but destroying forces in life. By means of such destructive forces, the Itightens the bond with the sense world more strongly than is necessary in order to absorb from this very sense world what is beneficial to it. This sense world is a manifestation of the spirit hidden behind it. The I would never be able to enjoy the spirit in the form in which it is able to manifest through bodily senses alone, did it not want to use these senses for the enjoyment of the spiritual within the sense world. Yet the I deprives itself of the true spiritual reality in the world to the degree that it desires the sense world without the spirit. If the enjoyment of the senses, as an expression of the spirit, signifies an elevation and development of the I, then an enjoyment that is not an expression of the spirit signifies the impoverishing, the desolation of the I. If a desire of this kind is satisfied in the sense world, its desolating effect upon the ego nevertheless remains. Before death, however, this destructive effect upon the I is not apparent. Therefore the satisfaction of such desires can produce similar desires during life, and man is not at all aware that he is enveloping himself, through himself, in a 'consuming fire'.
After death, what has surrounded him in life becomes visible, and by becoming visible it appears in its healing, beneficial consequences. A person who loves another is certainly not attracted only to that in him which can be experienced through the physical organs. But only of what can thus be experienced may it be said that it is withdrawn from perception at death; just that part of the loved one then becomes visible for the perception of which the physical organs were only the means. Moreover, the only thing that then hinders that part from becoming completely visible is the presence of the desire that can only be satisfied through physical organs. If this desire were not extirpated, the conscious perception of the beloved person could not arise after death. Considered in this way, the picture of frightfulness and despair that might arise in the human being concerning the events after death, as depicted by supersensible knowledge, must change into one of deep satisfaction and consolation.
Above all during the first period after death, during the time in kamaloka, an individual sees what has been determined by his life before death, but to begin with he must leave it as it is; he is unable to bring about any change in what he experiences.
We will now take an example that can be instructive in many respects. Here we can also consider the life in kamaloka, for the existing relationships do not change when the transition takes place into the period in the spirit world.
Let us think of two friends living on Earth, one of whom comes into contact with Anthroposophy at a certain time in his life and becomes an anthroposophist. It may happen that because of this, his friend rages against Anthroposophy. You may have known such a case. If the friend had been the first to find znthroposophy he might himself have become a very good adherent. Such things certainly happen but we must realise that they are very often clothed in maya. Consequently it may happen that the one who rages against znthroposophy because his friend has become an adherent is raging in his surface consciousness only, in his I-consciousness. In his astral consciousness, in his subconsciousness he may very likely not share in the antipathy. Without realising it he may even be longing for Anthroposophy. In many cases it happens that aversion in the upper consciousness takes the form of longing in the subconsciousness. It does not necessarily follow that an individual feels exactly what he expresses in his upper consciousness. After death we do not experience only the effects of the contents of our upper consciousness, our I-consciousness. To believe that would be to misunderstand entirely the conditions prevailing after death. It has often been said that although a human being casts off physical body and etheric body at death, his longings and desires remain. Nor need these longings and desires be only those of which he was actually aware. The longings and desires that were in his sub-consciousness, they too remain, including those of which he has no conscious knowledge or may even have resisted. They are often much stronger and more intense after death than they were in life. During life a certain disharmony between the astral body and the ‘I’ expresses itself as a feeling of depression, dissatisfaction with oneself. After death, the astral consciousness is an indication of the whole character of the soul, the whole stamp of the individual concerned. So what we experience in our upper consciousness is less significant than all those hidden wishes, desires and passions which are present in the soul's depths and of which the ‘I’ knows nothing.
In the case mentioned, let us suppose that the man who denounces anthroposophy because his friend has become an adherent passes through the gate of death. The longing for anthroposophy, which may have developed precisely because of his violent opposition, now asserts itself and becomes an intense wish for anthroposophy. This wish would have to remain unfulfilled, for it could hardly happen that after death he himself would have an opportunity of satisfying it. But through a particular concatenation of circumstances in such a case, the one who is on Earth may be able to help the other and change something in his conditions. This is the kind of case that may frequently be observed in our own ranks.
We can, for instance, read to the one who has died. The way to do this is to picture him vividly there in front of us; we picture his features and go through with him in thought the content, for example, of an anthroposophical book. This need only be done in thought and it has a direct effect upon the one who has died. As long as he is in the stage of kamaloka, language is no hindrance; it becomes a hindrance only when he has passed into the spirit world. Hence the question as to whether the dead understands language need not be raised. During the period of kamaloka a feeling for language is certainly present. In this practical way very active help can be given to one who has passed through the gate of death. What streams up from the physical plane is something that can be a factor in bringing about a change in the conditions of life between death and the new birth; but such help can only be given to the dead from the physical world, not directly from the spiritual world.
Let us take an example. Two people are living together. One of them comes to anthroposophy and is enthusiastic about it, the other does not share this enthusiasm. In fact, the more the former becomes interested in anthroposophy, the more the latter rages against spiritual science and slanders it. Now the following is possible, for human soul life is complicated. The one who slandered anthroposophy would have become an anthroposophist himself at some time if his friend or the person related to him had not become an anthroposophist. The one who is living with him is the hindrance to his becoming an anthroposophist. This certainly can happen. The one who slanders anthroposophy, bringing forward all manner of things against it in his ego-consciousness, may have the most intense longing for it in his subconsciousness or astral consciousness. Indeed, the more he slanders spiritual science the stronger is his wish for it. It may well occur that a man slanders those things in his upper consciousness that appear all the more strongly in his subconsciousness.
Death, however, transforms untruths into truths. Thus one can observe that human beings passing through the gate of death who out of indolence or for similar reasons have slandered spiritual science, and this is applicable to many other things, experience after death a profound longing of which they were unaware during life. So it can be observed that human beings pass through the gate of death who apparently showed no wish for some particular thing, and in whom, nevertheless, after death a most intense desire for it arises. During our trials in the kamaloca period it is therefore immaterial whether our wishes, desires and passions are present in our upper ego-consciousness or whether they dwell in our astral subconsciousness. Both work as burning factors after death, but those wishes and desires we have concealed during life are even more active after death.
It should be borne in mind that by the very nature of the soul everything connected with it will, under all circumstances, make an impression on it. The following has been carefully investigated and it is good if we take an example in connection with anthroposophy.
Suppose two people are living together on Earth. One of them is a zealous anthroposophist, the other does not wish to hear anything about spiritual science. Now because spiritual science is in his environment, the latter does not remain uninfluenced by it in his astral body. Things of considerable significance and of which we are not aware are constantly happening to our souls. They work in a spiritual way and there are influences that transform our soul life.
So we find hardly anyone who has lived in the environment of an anthroposophist, however obstinate his opposition, who in his subconscious does not show a leaning towards spiritual science. It is precisely among the opponents of anthroposophy that one finds after death a sphere of wishes in which a passionate longing for spiritual science is manifest.
[reading to the death]
This is why a practice that has become customary among us has proved to be so beneficial for the dead, that is, to read to those who during their lives were unwilling to receive much anthroposophy. This proves to be extraordinarily beneficial for the souls concerned. This should be done by vividly picturing the face of the person who has died as he was during the last period of his life on earth. Then one takes a book and quietly goes through it sentence by sentence with one's thoughts directed towards the dead person as if he were sitting in front of one. He will receive this eagerly and gain much from it.
Here we reach a point where anthroposophy enters into life in a practical way. Here materialism and spirituality do not merely confront one another as theories but as actual forces. In fact, by means of spirituality bridges of communication are created between people irrespective of whether they are living or dead. Out of an active spiritual life we can help the dead in this and many other ways of which we shall speak when the opportunity arises.
If we do not stand within the spiritual life, however, the result is not only a lack of knowledge. It also means that we dwell within a limited space of existence encompassed only by the physical world. A materialistically minded person at once loses the connection with one who has passed through the gate of death. This shows how very important it is for the one world to work into the other. If, for instance, the dead person, who has an intense longing to learn something of spiritual wisdom, must forego this wish, it will remain a burden to him. At most, it might be possible, although even in kamaloca this is hardly likely, that he would encounter another soul who has died and with whom he has had such a connection on Earth that by the mere nature of the relationship he would find some limited satisfaction. In fact it hardly comes into the picture as compared with the considerable service and the acts of charity that the living can perform for the dead.
Consider the situation of the dead one. He has some intense wish. In the period after death this wish cannot be satisfied because what we bear in our soul is unchangeably rigidified, but from the Earth a stream can flow into this otherwise fixed longing. That is actually the only way in which the things that play into our soul can be altered. Therefore, during the first period after death, for the experience of the dead person much depends on the kind of spiritual understanding that is unfolding by the living who were closely related to him.
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. ...
[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
Whereas here in life we can recollect all that we have experienced in our day-life, after death, after the time of the life-tableau is past, we obtain a memory of all our nights. This is an important secret which is revealed to us. We remember all our night-life.
This review so presents itself that we really live backwards starting from the last night passed here in life, passing to the preceding one, and so on. In this way we experience the whole life again backwards, but as seen from the night-aspect.
One experiences again in this retrospective recollection, what one has unconsciously thought and investigated. One really goes back through one’s life, but not from the day-aspect.
How long does that last approximately? Now remember that we sleep away about one-third of our life. As you know, there are people who naturally sleep much more. But on an average we sleep away a third of our life. Therefore this retrospect also lasts about one-third of our earth-life, because we experience the nights.
After our death we must once more live through everything that other people, outside, have experienced through us
Here on earth we can only experience one half at the most of everything through which we pass. We really experience only half of what takes place in every one of our experiences. Let us take an example. Imagine — this applies both to good and to evil thoughts and actions — but let us take as an example an evil action. Imagine that you say something bad to another person and that your words hurt him. When we say something unkind we only experience that part which concerns us personally; we only experience the feelings that prompted us to say those evil words. This is the soul-impression which we gather when we say bad and unkind things. But the other person to whom we addressed our unkind words has an entirely different impression; he has, as it were, the other half of the impression and feels hurt. The second half of the impression lives in him. What we ourselves experience during our physical life on earth is one thing, and what the other person experiences is another thing.
Now imagine the following. After our death, when we pass backwards through our life, we must once more live through everything that other people, outside, have experienced through us. As we go backwards through our life, we experience the effects of our thoughts and actions. Between death and a new birth we therefore pass through our life by going through it backwards.
[Backwards experience of our deeds]
This being now remains with us after death so long as we are in the realm of the Moon forces. Indeed, just because this being keeps us amid the Moon-forces, that is, in the near neighbourhood of Earth, during the first time after death we are obliged to remain connected with these Lunar forces and with our own Karma, so much so that we live again through all the deeds we did on Earth from birth till death.
We have to live them through again in a spiritual form of being, three times as fast as we did on Earth. We live them through again in backward order. So do we spend a period of time after death, obliged to do things intimately connected with our earthly deeds. We are united, it is true, no longer through the physical body with the Moon-forces of death (for we have laid the physical body aside), and yet as beings of soul and spirit we are obliged to carry out deeds intimately connected with our deeds on Earth. And as we thus go through our life again in backward order, our Karma is ever more convincingly brought home to us.
[Parenthesis with two examples – difference in perspective]
[Spiritual perspective of value add of ‘judgment’, trigger for auto-corrective response]
Yet with all this, my dear friends, you must remember to mostly judge spiritual matters in a spiritual way. If you were fond of a human being on the Earth, you may now be feeling: Today, alas, after his death, he will be living again through all that was bad or faulty in his actions! From your physical and earthly standpoint you are sorry for him. But if you asked the soul himself who has gone through the gate of death, whether he too judges it thus, he would answer:
“No. I should not want to be undergoing this after-death life in any other way than with the judgment which is mine here and now, as a being of pure soul and spirit experiencing all things again, so to impress them ever more deeply into the true being of my soul. If I have been responsible for any deed which makes me appear a morally imperfect man, and if I were not to go through it all again deeply and inwardly as I am doing now, I should not feel the strong impulsion to make it good. I should not want to free myself from this my failing. Precisely by experiencing the deed all over again in soul and spirit, the urge is born in me to overcome it by a better action.”
Not for anything in the world would the dead forgo this opportunity to make good again, for this alone will give him power to achieve his full humanity, — will give him strength to be made whole. In this respect you may be sure, even as a landscape looks very different seen from the valley or from a mountain-top, so life itself looks different seen from this physical world where we are now and from yonder side. Only too often the relationships of earthly life to the life after death, which after all transcends the physical, are misjudged for this reason.
Think of another example, my dear friends. Maybe you are a really good anthroposophist, very keen on spiritual science, but you are living in the same house and in very close connection with someone else who detests it, who regards Anthroposophy as his greatest enemy. Now you may say, you are extremely sorry to be causing him so much pain by your attachment to what he detests. From the aspect of earthly life this may be rightly judged. Seen from the other side however, very often it turns out in such a case that it lay in the other person's Karma not to be able to come near to Anthroposophy owing to hindrances brought from a former life, making him in his head a very hater of it. As to his head, he simply cannot bear it. He becomes vexed and excited every time he hears tell of anthroposophical truths. Yet all the time, in his inmost heart he may not be averse to them at all, and when he dies it may well be that he has after death a very deep longing for Anthroposophy. Often therefore you will be doing just what is needed for one who hated it during earthly life, if after his death, you turn to him with thoughts derived from Anthroposophy, so as to bring them to him. Paradoxical as it may sound, not a few relatives who raged and stormed when another member of the family became [an] anthroposophist have become deeply attached to it after death. In this respect once more, you must take seriously what I said during my last sojourn here: we judge life very differently from yonder side than we do from this side.
Yes, man becomes very different after his death. For you should also think of this:
- In physical and earthly life there is your brain inside an in the cavity of your skull; a little farther down there is the lung, and then the other organs. More outwardly, towards the surface of the body, there are your senses. Through all that is thus contained within the limits of your skin, you are enabled to perceive the outer world.
- Now after death you yourself go out into the world. At first the stars are only shining into your etheric body, but when the etheric body too has been laid aside, you will actually identify yourself with the stars. Before, you had in you a brain; now you will have in you the Spiritual essences of Venus, Mercury, the Sun, and so on. You can truly say: Even as on the Earth I had in me my lung, my heart, my kidneys and so forth, so Moon and Mercury and Sun are in me now. You in your inner being are at one with the great Universe.
Do you imagine that the Universe will provide you with the same kind of perception and understanding as your brain does?
The world will look very different to you now! The Earth itself looks different when we behold it from the Sun than when we ourselves are on Earth and looking upwards to the Sun
So then we undergo in all reality this backward recapitulation of our life, during which time we still remain in close connection with Moon and Mercury and Venus, while our relation to the more distant stars — to Mars and Jupiter and Saturn, and to the Fixed Stars above all — is as yet feebly developed.
When we have thus retraced our actions all the way backward until birth,
then do we judge them from the standpoint of the stars; and in our judgment of ourselves we are no longer merely looking backward now, but forward. We have the kind of judgment which tells us: You must do thus to balance out this action, and thus to balance out another action, and so on.
We are immersed in the recapitulation of our life during the first twenty or thirty years after death, according to the age we reached, — it takes a third as long as earthly life. (Children who have died go through it quickly: while for very little children, you will easily conclude, it scarcely comes into question.) Connected still in soul and spirit with your past earthly life, you live it through again in backward sequence.
[Arrived at birth – death of astral body]
And when at last you have arrived at birth, only the “memory” of it will remain with you. It is as though at this moment you were to lay aside yet another body. We are accustomed to say, we lay aside the astral body.
What happens in reality is that the living action in which you were hitherto immersed is now transformed for you into a thought-picture, — only it is a consciousness pertaining to the stars that thinks it, whilst here on Earth an earthly consciousness was thinking.
As you set forth now on your further way within the spiritual world you will be living with the Beings of whom the physical refulgence are the Sun and Moon and Stars. With the spiritual Beings of the Stars you will now live on. Moreover into this life amid the Stars you bear with you the memory of the Karmic entity you had to lay aside with your astral body.
Once more, the “laying aside” means nothing else than that the life we were immersed and actively engaged in is but a memory to us now — a memory which we as cosmic Man take with us. Weighted with this memory — the legacy of our earthly life — we step forth into a purely spiritual world.
While undergoing the aforesaid recapitulation of his past earthly life, man is essentially within the planetary sphere. Advancing from the spiritual forces of the Moon to those of Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and at last Saturn, — living therefore between the spheres of Moon and Saturn, feeling within himself the Planetary Cosmos — throughout this time man is still undergoing the backward recapitulation of his recent Earth-life.
.. whereas earth-life, as experienced through thinking, withdraws from the human being and goes out into the vast cosmos (a process that occurs a few days after death, man's inner depths send forth a consciousness of all that he has undergone unconsciously during earth-life while asleep. This stage takes shape in such a way that he goes backward and recapitulates his earth-life in a period of one third of its actual duration.
During this time, the human being is intensely wrapt up in his own self. It might be said that he is still intensely connected with his own earthly affairs. He is thoroughly interwoven with what he passed through, while asleep, during the successive nights of his earthly life.
You will realize that the human being, while continuously occupied with his nightly experiences, must necessarily be led back to his self. Just consider the dreams, the only element in Man's earth-life that surges up from the sleeping state. These dreams are the least part of his experiences while asleep. Everything else, however, remains unconscious. Only the dreams surge up into consciousness. Yet it could be said that the dreams, be they ever so interesting, ever so manifold, ever so rich in many-hued colors, represent something that restricts the human being completely to his own self. If a number of persons sleep in the same room, each of them has, nevertheless, his own dream world. And, when they tell their dreams to one another, these persons will speak of things that seem to have happened in entirely different worlds. For in sleep, each person is alone within himself. And only by inserting our will into our organism do we occupy the same world situated in the same space as is occupied by others. If we were always asleep, each of us would live in a world of his own.
But this world of our own which we pass through every night between falling asleep and awaking is the world we pass through in reverse, after death, during a period encompassing one third of our life-span.
[Connection with earthly affairs – relationships – the dead]
If people possessed nothing but this world, they would be occupied for two or three decades after death (if they die at an old age) exclusively with themselves. This, however, is not the case. What we experience as our own affairs nevertheless connects us with the whole world. For the world through which each of us passes by himself is interwoven with relations to all those human beings with whom we were associated in life.
This interweaving of relations is caused by the fact that, when looking down from the soul world on the earthly experiences of those persons with whom we were associated in some way, we experience together with them what occurs on earth. Hence anyone willing to try may perceive, if he acquaints himself with spiritual-scientific methods, how the dead, immediately after their transition, are helped to participate intensively in earthly events by those of their former companions who are still alive.
And so we find that the dead, in the measure in which they shared this or that interest with others, underwent common destinies with others, remain connected with all these earthly interests; are still interested in earthly events. And, being no longer hindered by the physical body, they judge earthly events much more lucidly and sagaciously than men who are still alive. By attaining a conscious relation to the dead, we are enabled to gain, by means of their judgment, an extraordinary lucidity concerning earthly events.
Furthermore, something else must be considered. We can see that certain things existing within earthly relations will be preserved in the spiritual world. Thus an eternal element is intermingled, as it were, with our terrestrial experiences.
[Communication with the dead – helping the dead]
Descriptions of the spiritual world often sound almost absurd. Nonetheless, since I am addressing myself presumably to anthroposophists of long standing, I may venture to speak frankly of these matters. In looking for a way to communicate with the dead, it is even possible to use earthly words: ask questions, and receive answers. And now a peculiar fact is to be noticed: The ability lost first by the dead is that of using nouns; whereas verbs are retained by them for a long time. Their favorite forms of expression, however, are exclamatory words; all that is connected with emotion and heart. An Oh!, an Ah!, as expressions of amazement, of surprise, and so forth, are often used by the dead in their language. We must, as it were, first learn the language of the dead.
These things are not at all as the spiritists imagine. These people believe that they can communicate with the dead, by means of a medium, in ordinary earthly language. The character of these communications immediately indicates that we are concerned here with subconscious states of living persons, and not with actual, direct utterances of the dead transmitted through a medium. For the dead outgrow ordinary human language by degrees. After the passing of several years, we can communicate with the dead only by acquiring their language — which can best be done by suggesting, through simple symbolic drawings, what we want to express. Then the answers will be given by means of similar symbolic forms necessarily received by us in shadowy outlines.
All this is described by me for the purpose of indicating that the dead, although dwelling in an element akin to sleep, yet have a vast range of interests and sweep the whole world with their glance. And we ourselves can greatly assist them.
This may be done by thinking of the dead as vividly as possible; especially by sending thoughts to them which bring to life, in the most striking way, what we experienced in their company. Abstract concepts are not understood by the dead. Hence I must send out such thoughts as the following: Here is the road between Kristiania and a near-by place. Here we two walked together. The other person, who is now dead, walked at my side. I can still hear him speaking. I hear the sound of his voice. I try to recall how he moved his arms, how he moved his head. — By visualizing, as vividly as possible, what we experienced together with the dead; by sending out our thoughts to the dead whom we conjure up before our soul in a familiar image, we can make these thoughts, as it were, soar or stream towards the dead. Thus we provide the dead with something like a window, through which they can look at the world. Not only the thought sent by us to the dead comes forth within them, but a whole world. They can gaze at our world as if through a window.
Conversely, the dead can experience their present spiritual environment only to the degree in which they formerly reflected, as much as earthly men are capable of doing, on the spiritual world.
You know how many people are saying now-a-days: Why should I worry about life after death? We might as well wait. Once we are dead, we shall see what is going to happen.
This thought, however, is completely misleading. People who have not reflected, while still alive, on the spiritual world, who have lived in a purely materialistic way, will see absolutely nothing after death.
Here I have outlined to you how the dead are living during the period in which — commensurate with their experiences in the sleeping state — they pass through their life in reverse. The human being who has now discarded his physical and etheric body, feels himself to be at this time in the realm of spiritual moon forces. We must realize that all the world organisms — moon, sun and stars — inasmuch as they are visible to physical eyes, actually represent only physical formations of a spiritual element.
Just as the single man, who is sitting here on a chair, consists not only of flesh and blood (which can be regarded as matter), but also of soul and spirit, so the whole universe, the whole cosmos, is indwelled by soul and spirit. And not only one unified spiritual entity dwells therein, but many, innumerably many spiritual entities dwell therein. Thus numerous spiritual entities are connected with the moon, which is seen only externally as a silver disk by our physical eye. We are in the realm of these entities while retracing our earth-life, as has been described, until we arrive again at the starting point. Thus it might be said: Until then we dwell in the realm of the moon.
While we are in the midst of this going backward, our whole life becomes intermingled with certain things, which are brought to an approximate conclusion after we have left the moon realm.
Immediately after the etheric body has been discarded by us in the wake of death, a moral judgment on our worth as human beings emerges from the nightly experiences. Then we cannot do otherwise than judge, in a moral sense, the events through which we pass in reverse. And it is very strange how things develop from this point.
Here on earth we carry a body made of bones, muscles, arteries, and so forth. Then, after death, we acquire a spiritual body, formed out of our moral qualities. A good man acquires a moral body radiating with beauty; a depraved man a moral body radiating with evil. This is formed while we are living backward. Our spirit-body, however, is only partly formed out of that which is now joined to us. Whereas one part of the spirit-body received by us in the spiritual world is formed out of our moral qualities, the other part is simply put on us as a garment woven from the substances of the spiritual world.
1924-GA239 and 1924-GA240
Everything that one goes through in life, everything that is experienced by man, is observed by those beings who once inhabited the earth with man as spirit beings. This is observed and is registered in living form in the Akasha substance. These primeval teachers - these lunar beings, who once were the great teachers during the time of the primeval wisdom - these spirit beings, they are the registrars for the experiences of mankind
They are the ones who record what is written into the Akashic Chronicle during the nights we live through on earth; they permeate it with their own essence and let us experience it more strongly than the events of life here on earth during the first third of our return journey through life after death. Whoever can look into what a dead person experiences in these first decades after death, knows that the earthly experiences are robust enough, they push and drive us, but what is experienced there by the power of magically working teachers who have set up their colony on the moon, that has a much stronger effect, that drowns out, that overcolors the earthly experiences
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.
synopsis: The Moon Beings are connected with man's past. Initiation science and the recognition of karmic relationships. The Akasha Chronicle.
Note  - About Schema FMC00.499 Purgatory
- article about 70 years of restauration after WWII to delivery in 2018, see link 1
- detail pictures of the original before restauration link 2
- example of an article about the work (downloadeable paper), see link 3
- site about Campo Santo, see link 4