Q00.004 - Meaning and impact of unresolved tasks in life

From Anthroposophy


Karmic tasks and .. failure?

I’m imagining that before entering into this life we set ourselves tasks to achieve. I’m wondering what happens if we fail to achieve these tasks?

I could imagine if we set ourselves life tasks and fail to achieve them that this could be seen as a dire shame. On the other hand, some express how failure is extremely invaluable for growth.

I’m wondering what Anthroposophy has to say about failure to achieve life tasks, and whether this is seen as a good thing or a tragic waste of life?


In response to your question, adding a complementary perspective to the karmic lessons (see answers below).

Intentions and aspirations are inscribed in the spheres after death. They can also inspire other souls, that is: the deceased person can continue to influence souls in activities also without being incarnate. Rudolf Steiner describes this throughout many lectures, maybe you want to check 1913-03-12-GA140 with the example of Leonardo Da Vinci who left many things unfinished.

On the other hand, we ourselves pick up this unfinished business of ours again also as we descend again before incarnation. It may influence us subconsciously, in fact elements from previous lives do influence us in this way in our current incarnation. An illustration is the example of student and unfinished drawing, see eg 1911-11-17-GA069D (which comes back in other lectures as well).

However, reading your question, I sense it is important to distinguish how one judges and feels on earth about one's 'performance', as compared to how that is a bit more 'karma-technically objective' after death. The Karmic Relationship lectures (a.o.) contain exercises and explanations to help us feel about what these 'learning targets in our life plan' might well have been, it's usually not quite what you'd intuitively or rationally expect. Quite on the contrary: life hardships are were we find the lessons we may have organized, and all the things we wanted and needed to learn, so that can bias the perspective a lot about how one feels in life. It's good to always remember the words of Paul .. what seems foolishness on earth may be wisdom in heaven, and the way around. The balance of our spiritual growth is not made in earthly terms, else certain things like the death of a child for example would just be impossible to understand. That is why the teachings of reincarnation and karma are so important, because they make Man much more conscious and responsible.

Other answers

t is not unlike in ordinary life, just extended beyond. We do things all the time, and often (always?) the results fall short of our expectations/intentions.

RS tells us that there is no positive value in beating ourselves up, blaming ourselves, etc. We should review what we have done, and ask ourselves how we can do it better next time. We have another opportunity tomorrow or another day. I imagine it is the same with "karmic tasks". If we fail in them, or don't perform them as well as we need to, there will be another opportunity. (I won't go into my own failure

I know karma doesnt work this way and I suspect there is good reason for that but I think it would be great if we were given a little book to bring with us on our earth journey. The book would tell us the main thread of what we need to achieve-- I think we could be more productive that way.Well I am going to check this idea out when i return to my spirit home.

However, shame does play a part in intiation

"In a training in which no attention is paid to the certainty and firmness of the power of judgment, of the life of feeling and character, it may happen that the student encounters the higher world before he possesses the necessary inner faculties. In that case the encounter with his Doppelganger would depress him and lead to error.

If, however, the encounter were entirely avoided — something that might indeed be possible — and man nevertheless were led into the supersensible world, he would then be just as little in the position to recognize that world in its true shape. For it would be quite impossible for him to distinguish between what he carries over as projections of himself into things and what they are in reality.

This distinction is only possible if one perceives one's own being as an image in itself, and if, as a result of this distinction, everything that flows from one's own inner nature becomes detached from the environment.

For man's life in the physical-sensory world, the Doppelganger's effect is such that he becomes immediately invisible through the feeling of shame characterized when man approaches the world of soul and spirit.

As a result of this, he conceals the entire latter world also. Like a “guardian” he stands there before that world, in order to deny entrance to those who are not truly capable of entering. He may therefore be called the “guardian of the threshold that lies before the world of soul and spirit.”

This means we need to have done enough spiritual training and the spiritual world needs to give us the insight what our karma is.

Once one knows where they have been and how they need to work, I think there would be enough freedom given to such a human being to work it out how they can bring into the process of evolution what they need to bring.

Someone who knows will be helped then on their way.

As with everything else, there are levels of work in the world. If indeed a person is able to see their karma, through having done inner work, they have the freedom to choose to align their deeds with it or not. However, all of us, with the help of the angel and spirits of destiny, weave the threads of our destiny before we are born so that we will meet the karmic situations we "know" that we need to meet when we behold the deeds of previous lives and anticipate the coming life. Destiny comes to us through the limbs, not (necessarily) through the head. And everything that leads us to a particular moment is our karma: what we do with that moment is our free will. So, for instance, we learn from theCurative Education course, that if a person who needed to learn a lesson about the will "chose" (was guided) to be born into a family in which he would inherit a particular bodily weakness that would force him to confront the reality of a weak will........This is how karma works...Other examples are of how karma mutates from one life to the next: how a lack of concern about others in one life leads to feeling isolated in the next-----so we learn lessons that will advance our souls.