Karma or destiny

From Anthroposophy

Karma or destiny

Page to be developed


  • Law of karma
  • Our karmic bonds and relations-community
  • Evolutionary perspective and importance in understanding history
  • New features
  • Causes of death and destiny
  • Identifying karma
  • Karma research case studies
  • principle
    • Man is continuously radiating or streaming out imaginations, intuitions and inspirations (I3) into the cosmos as a result of human functioning. The cosmos accepts the morally good, but rejects what is not. This I3 package remains in the cosmos but is individual or 'personal', and can only be annihilated or compensated for by the same Individuality. (1911-12-31-GA134)


Lecture coverage and references


How are karmic compensations accomplished?

If someone has done something to another person, there will have to be a karmic adjustment between them, which means that the persons concerned must be born again as contemporaries. How does this happen? What are the forces that bring the two persons together?

The way it works out is as follows:

  • A wrong has been done; the victim has suffered it;
  • the person who did it passes into kamaloka, but first he has to witness the occurrence in the retrospective tableau of his past life. The injury he has inflicted does not then cause him pain, but in kamaloka, as he relives his life backwards, the event comes before him, and now he has to suffer the pain he caused. He has to feel it in and through the very self of his victim. This experience imprints itself like a seal on his astral body. He takes with him a portion of the pain, and a definite force remains in him as the outcome of what he has experienced in the other Man's being.
  • In this way any pain or pleasure he has to live through turns into a force, and he carries a great number of such forces with him into the spirit world.

When he returns to a new incarnation, this is the force that draws together all the persons who have had experiences in common. During the kamaloka period they lived within one another, and they incorporated these forces into themselves. Hence within one physical human being there may be three or even more “Kamaloka men”, in order that the situation involving them may be lived out.

An example known to occult science will make this clear.

A man was condemned to death by five judges. What was really happening there? In a previous life the man had killed these other five men and karmic forces had brought all six together for a karmic adjustment. This does not produce a never-ending karmic chain; other relationships come in to change the further course of events.

Spiritual forces, you see, are thus secretly at work to bring about the complicated patterns of human living.


lecture titled 'illness and karma'


How did those spiritual Beings who desire to further man's progress act in order to combat this corruption, error and illusion arising from the material world? They saw to it — the process was of course slow and very gradual — that man was actually lifted away from the material world as such; this enabled him to shoulder and work out his karma. Whereas, therefore, the beings upon whom it fell to rectify the enticement of the Luciferic beings brought into the world suffering, pain and what is connected with them, namely death, the beings whose task it was to rectify the outcome of error concerning the sense-world, made it possible for man, through his karma, eventually to blot out all the error, all the evil he has wrought in the world.

For what would have happened if he had become the prey of evil and error?

Little by little he would have become one with the evil; no progress would have been possible for him. For with every error, every lie, every illusion, we cast an obstacle in the way of progress. We should fall back in our progress to exactly the same extent to which we had cast obstacles in our path through sin and error, if we were not in a position to rectify them; in other words, we could not reach man's true goal. It would be impossible to attain this goal if the counter-forces, the forces of karma, were not in operation.

Suppose that in some life you commit a wrong. If this wrong were to become firmly fixed in your life it would mean nothing less than that you would lose the step forward which you would have taken had you not committed the wrong; with every wrong, a step would be lost — enough steps to correspond exactly with the wrongs committed. If the possibility of surmounting error had not been given, man must ultimately have been submerged by it. But the blessing of karma was bestowed.

What does this blessing mean for man? Is karma something at which to shudder, something to dread?

No, indeed! Karma is a power for which man should be thankful. For karma says to us: If you have committed a wrong, remember that “God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap”. An error demands that you shall right it; then, having expunged it from your karma you can again take a step forward!

Without karma, no progress would be possible. Karma is a blessing that has been vouchsafed to us, inasmuch as it obliges us to rectify every error, to re-achieve the steps that thrust us back.

Karma was thus the indirect consequence of the deeds of Ahriman. And now let us go further. In our days we are moving towards the epoch when other beings will draw near to man — beings who in the future before us will intrude more and more deeply into human evolution. Just as the Luciferic spirits intervened in the Lemurian and the Ahrimanic spirits in the Atlantean epoch, so our epoch too will see the intrusion of beings. Let us be clear about the nature of these beings.


the quote below contains the essential paragraph, but requires what preceeded hence pre-read full lecture link

But now what happens to all that we let radiate out of us in this way?

All that rays forth from us in this way, my dear friends — take it altogether and you have, in very deed and truth, the whole influence that is exerted by us on the world. For whatever you do, when you do it, you move, you bring your system of bones and muscles into movement. Not only so, but even when you only lie and think you are still raying forth from you substance that is perceptible to Intuition.

In short, whatever activity you engage in you are sending out this spiritual substance into the world, it is perpetually passing over from you into the world.

Now the fact is, if these processes were not taking place there would be nothing left of our earth when it came to the end of its evolution, nothing left of it but pulverised matter which would pass over like dust into universal space. But something is saved through man from the material process of the earth and lives in the general cosmos, in the universe; and it is what can arise through Inspiration, Intuition and Imagination. In this way man gives to the world that wherefrom the world builds itself up anew. Man, as it were, provides the building-stones. This it is that will continue to live as the soul and spirit of the whole earth when this earth's material substance is rent and shattered like a corpse; even as the individual soul and spirit nature of man lives on when man has passed through the gate of death. Man bears his individual soul through the gate of death; the earth bears over into the Jupiter-existence what has come of the Imaginations and Inspirations and Intuitions of man. There you have the great difference that exists between the two men in man. The man who perceives with his senses, who secretes in his glands, who digests and who nourishes himself — that is the man who is destined for what is cast off, he is of time and passes away. But that which is the result of the presence of nerves and muscle and bone — that is incorporated into the earth, in order that the earth may thereby continue to exist.

And now we come to something which stands like a great mystery in our whole existence, and which, because it is in very truth a mystery, cannot be grasped by the intellect; rather is it for the soul to believe it and penetrate to its depths. It is, none the less, perfectly true.

That which man lets stream out from him into his environment divides itself quite distinctly into two parts.

  • There is, firstly, that part of the Inspiration, Intuition and Imagination upon which general cosmic existence, so to say, depends, the cosmos receives it, and drinks it in.
  • But there is another part which cosmic existence does not receive but, on the contrary, rejects.

Cosmic existence makes its attitude quite clear, as much as to say:

  • “These Inspirations and Intuitions and Imaginations I can use, I absorb them in order that I may carry them over to the Future Jupiter existence.”
  • But others, cosmic existence rejects, it refuses to receive them; and the result is these other Intuitions, Inspirations and Imaginations, being nowhere received, remain as such for themselves; they remain — spiritually — in the cosmos, they cannot be disintegrated.

Thus, what we ray forth from us falls into two parts, that which is gladly received by the cosmos and that which the cosmos rejects. The cosmos is not pleased with the latter and leaves it alone. It remains where it is.

How long does it remain?

It remains there until such time as the human being comes and himself destroys it by means of outstreamings, which are of a kind able to destroy it; and as a general rule no other man has the power to destroy outstreamings that are rejected by the cosmos than the one who himself sent them out. Here you have something of the technique of karma, here you have the reason why we must ourselves meet again in the course of our karma all those Imaginations, Inspirations and Intuitions which have been rejected by the cosmos. For we must ourselves destroy them and annihilate them; the cosmos receives only what is correct and right in thought, what is beautiful in feeling and what is morally good and sound. Everything else it rejects.

That is the secret, that is the great mystery.

And whatever is false in thought, whatever is ugly in feeling and whatever is morally evil — a man must himself erase from existence if it is to be no longer there; and he must do so through the necessary thoughts and feelings or will impulses or deeds. It will follow him all the time until he has erased it. And so you see it is not true to say that the cosmos consists only of neutral laws of nature or expresses itself only in neutral laws of nature. The cosmos that is all around us — of which we believe we can perceive with our senses and grasp with our intellect, has quite other forces in it as well. If we may put it in this way, the cosmos vigorously repels and repudiates the evil, the ugly and the false and is eager to receive into itself the good, the beautiful and the true. It is not merely at stated times that the powers of the cosmos sit in judgment, but this sitting in judgment is something that goes on throughout the whole of earth evolution.


We are living in the fifth post-Atlantean age, and in this age men will add the great teachings of karma to the other teachings, they will learn to understand their karma.


They will learn to grasp the idea:

“I am placed on earth through birth; my destiny is on earth; I experience joy and sorrow; I must understand that what I experience as joy and sorrow does not approach me in vain, that it is my Karma, and that it comes to me because it is my Karma, my great educator. I look upon that which was before my birth, which placed me in this incarnation, because this, my destiny, is necessary for my further development.”


[1] - Temporary note (WIP)

To be written - on the technicalities of the workings of karma.

1/ start with

and the fact the hierarchies are the carriers of what lives in Man

2/ then consider

and compare the process between birth and new death as a reversal, a pralaya, and how this is different for the various beings/spiritual hierarchies (example archai in GA091)

see also the reversal shedding buddhi at Christ Module 7

3/ now see

and observe these technical terms (others too see mahadevas, prajapatis, ..) correspond as functional classes to spir hierarchies

Related pages

References and further reading


  • Annie Besant:
    • Karma (1895)
    • Elementary Lessons on Karma (1912)
    • A Study in Karma (1912)
  • Uwe Buermann: Die Anschauung des Karmas bei Rudolf Steiner: Ein Kompendium (2010) (2 volumes 1769 pages)



  • Ewald Grether: 'Der Mensch und sein Schicksal im Lichte der Anthroposophie' (1986), 3 volumes (printed typoscript format for a total of 1316 pages)
    • Vol 1 - Karma als Schicksalsgestalt (501 pages)
    • Vol 2 - Karma-Übungen und Schicksals-Erkenntnis (276 pages)
    • Vol 3 - Karma und Reinkarnation (539 pages)
  • Christmas Humphreys: 'Karma und Wiedergeburt' (in DE 1951; ; übers. aus dem Englischen von Marguerite Allamand Boek, Duits, 134 p. Rascher Zürich 1951


  • Wolf-Ulrich Klünker: 'Die Empfindung des Schicksals: Biographie und Karma im 21. Jahrhundert' (2011)


  • Paul Wormer, Lili Chavannes, Ate Koopmans: 'Blick aufs Karma: Schicksalselemente im Lebenslauf (2004 in DE, original in NL 2002 as 'Kijk op Karma: lotselementen in de levensloop'
  • Virginia Hanson, Rosemarie Stewart, Shirley J. Nicholson: 'Karma: Rhythmic Return to Harmony' (1975)
  • Virginia Hanson, Rosemarie Stewart: 'Karma, the Universal Law of Harmony' (1981)
    • explores karma from many points of view, including Christianity, Judaism, Hindu yogic philosophy, and Buddhism. Essays by psychologists, scientists, and philosophers


  • Hermann Poppelbaum
    • Sternenall, Schicksalsrätsel und Erdenwürde (1949)
    • Schicksalsrätsel. Verkörperung und Wiederverkörperung.
  • Sergei O. Prokofieff: Rudolf Steiner's research into karma (and the mission of the anthroposophical society) (1995)



  • Gunther Wachsmuth: 'Kosmische Aspekte von Geburt und Tod. Beiträge zur Karmaforschung' (1956 original in DE), in FR as 'Ciel de naissance et ciel de mort' (1976)