Principle of spiritual economy

From Anthroposophy

Not only the I can be reincarnated but also the etheric body and the astral body — can also be reincarnated. The principle of spiritual economy is that what has once been gained cannot perish but is preserved and transplanted on the spiritual soil of posterity.



Lecture coverage and references

In the period Feb to May 1909 this topic was covered in lectures mainly in GA109 (two from Rome that are in GA109 also in GA111)


After hearing about these examples of the reincarnation of etheric bodies and of an astral body, we know it is insufficient to speak only of the reincarnation of the I. The other members of the human constitution - the etheric body and the astral body — can also be reincarnated. It is a principle of spiritual economy that what has once been gained cannot perish, but is preserved and transplanted on the spiritual soil of posterity.

Other examples are given in that lecture:

  • starting in the Atlantean epoch and Seven Rishis
  • also Shem son of Noah, Melchizedek

In 1909-01-21-GA109 are also covered (see also 1909-02-15-GA109):

  • Astral body Cusa to Copernicus
  • Etheric body Galileo to Lomonosov
  • re-use of Zarathustra's astral body in Hermes, and etheric body in Moses

The fact is that the astral body of Cusa was transferred to Copernicus even though the ego of the latter was different from that of Cusa. This is how Copernicus received the foundation and all the preparations for his own doctrine.

Similar cases occur often. What is especially valuable is always preserved; nothing vanishes. But this fact also enhances the possibility of error in any attempt to establish correspondences, especially when people attempt to investigate the earlier lives of a human being with the help of a medium in séance. The transfer of an etheric or astral body to a human being in more modern times usually happens now in such a way that an astral body is transferred to a member of the same language group, whereas an etheric body can be transferred to a member of another language group.

With regard to Galileo, it would have been a waste in nature's economy had his etheric body, the carrier of his memory and talent, been lost. And that is why his etheric body was transferred to another human being: Michail Lomonosov, who came from a poor Russian village and was later to become the founder of Russian grammar and classical literature. Lomonosov, however, is not the reincarnated Galileo, as might be supposed as a result of superficial investigation.

And thus we see that there are many such cases and that the process of reincarnation is not so simple as most people of our time think. If, therefore, people investigate earlier incarnations with the help of occult methods, they have to exercise much greater caution. .. the matter becomes more dangerous when advanced occultists make mistakes in this regard and imagine that they are the reincarnation of this or that man, when in fact they carry only his etheric body. ..

We have seen not only that the I's are capable of reincarnation, but that the lower members of the human constitution in a certain sense undergo a similar process. The result of this is that the whole configuration of the process of reincarnation is much more complicated than is usually supposed. And thus we see that the ego of Zarathustra was reincarnated as Zarathas — Nazarathos, who in turn became the teacher of Pythagoras. On the other hand, Zarathustra's astral body reappeared in Hermes and his etheric body in Moses. Therefore, nothing is lost in the world; everything is preserved and transmitted to posterity, provided it is valuable enough



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References and further reading


Internal project notes and references