Rhythmic pattern between death and new birth

From Anthroposophy

The topic header of 'Rhythmic pattern between death and new birth' refers to the alternating rhythm of a soul in the ascent process between death and a new birth, alternating between:

  • illuminating the spiritual surroundings, or surrender-of self (to the cosmos)
  • reflecting in one's self, or self-experience (drawing back into self)

This alternation can be seen as an in- and out-breathing, or as a process of day and night: getting impressions outside of us, and inner processing of what has been experienced.

These aspects of human experience between death and a new birth, can be compared to Man's faculties during incarnate life, see FMC00.247 onWalking, Speaking and Thinking (WST).

Memory and Love

On earth this spiritual in- and out-breathing of ourself are transformed into the faculties of memory and love. Memory and love also work as a kind of breathing in physical earth life.

  • Love, in all its forms, is the echo of our being-poured-out into the world of the Hierarchies.
  • Our Memory here on Earth is the echo of our being-within-ourselves in the Spiritual World.


Lecture coverage and references

To study this topic:

  • Start with the two 1914-04-GA153 lectures, together with 1914-03-19-GA063.
  • Then read 1923-08-27-GA227.
  • Now complement with the 1922-11/12 lectures.
  • Only then study 1910-09-05-GA123 and correlate it with the above.

The bridge to 'Memory and Love' can be made with 1922-12-15-GA219

  • the followed by 1922-12-04-GA218 and 1922-12-09-GA218
  • and 1918-08-18-GA183 about memory and love during physical life on earth, how man is connected to the cosmos during physical life on earth.

Lecture extracts

1910-09-05-GA123 uses the language of seven planets and twelve zodiac signs, sketching seven spiral movements passing through the twelve signs.

As, by passing through six times seven stages man attains the key to the mysteries of his own inner being; twelve times seven or eighty-four stages are necessary before he can rise to the spiritual mysteries of universal space.

When we have surmounted the eighty-four stages we are no longer blinded by the complexity of these spiritual cosmic forces. Beyond these eighty-four stages we have attained that calm wherein a way may be found through the mighty labyrinth.

This was taught to a certain extent among the Essenes. A person having attained clairvoyance during sleep, as just described, could pour his being forth into something that is expressed in the mystery of numbers as twelve times seven.

Anyone who has attained to the ‘twelve times seven’ degree is already in spiritual realms, for when he has completed the eleven times seven, he has already reached the verge of the Mysteries. As in the other, the seven times seven, he is already in the spiritual realm; so he is in the twelve times seven.

On the latter path the spiritual realm is beyond the eleven times seven stage. Such are the number of the stages to be passed through by the astral body and ego.

All this is imprinted in the starry script, seven is the number derived from the planets; they are seven in number; what man has to pass through in cosmic space is derived from the number twelve, the number of the Signs of the Zodiac. As the seven planets group themselves within, and pass through the twelve signs, so if man is to live into cosmic space he must pass through seven times twelve, or rather seven times eleven stages, to attain spirituality. ...

He who is in quest of what is divinely spiritual must guide his astral body and ego in this way through eleven times seven stages, and at the twelfth he is in the spiritual world.

and also:

The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac may be pictured as forming a spiritual periphery in the centre of which is man himself. Now man does not reach the spiritual realm spread around him simply by advancing from a centre outwards; he must expand in spiral form; he must advance, as it were, in seven spiral movements. Each time he completes one spiral turn he has passed through all the twelve signs; he has in this way to pass through seven times twelve points. Man gradually expands in spiral form through the cosmos — this is naturally only an image for what man experiences—and in circling thus, on the seventh journey through the twelve signs, spirituality is reached. Then instead of regarding the cosmos from the central point of his own self; he regards it from the spiritual circumference — from twelve points of view— and from these different aspects he views the external world. It is not enough to see things from one point only, they must be considered from twelve aspects.

1914-03-19-GA063 gives a very good description on the alternating conditions

[Alternating conditions]

However, I have to mention one thing: what you experience that way as an inner force of light develops gradually and cyclically.

  • Thus, it develops that you feel: in me the force of light has awoken; it enables me to experience certain other beings and processes of the spiritual world; but it dawns away if you have used it for a while. As you feel the outer sun setting in the evening, you feel the inner force of light more and more tiring in the life between death and rebirth.
  • However, when this has tired, another condition comes into being. In this condition the soul feels strong in its inside which it experiences repeatedly; but again it experiences that internally what it has brought from the other condition where it had developed the force of light.

Thus, one must say that the conditions in which we are given away to all spiritual processes and beings alternate with those where the inner light expires again and is, completely extinguished. However, our felt willing and willing feeling awakes there again in such a way that everything lives as memories in it that we have experienced in the spiritual world what comes from the outside. Thus, you have conditions that alternate, as if you live once in the outside world, then again as if you have taken the outside world completely in yourself, so that it appears as inner experiences. It is a change between these two conditions.

We can also say that we experience ourselves

  • once like in extensive sociability with the whole spiritual world;
  • then this condition alternates with inner loneliness in which we have the whole experienced spiritual universe in ourselves. However, at the same time we know that we live now in ourselves. What is experienced there is that what our souls have kept, and we are now not in contact with something else.

With the regularity as sleeping and waking alternate in life, these conditions change in the spiritual world between death and new birth, namely:

  • the condition of expanding in a mental outer world
  • and the condition of inner self-enjoyment and self-knowledge where one feels: now you are alone in yourself, excluding all outer processes and beings; now you experience in yourself.

Both conditions must alternate, because only thereby the inner force of light survives that the human being is rejected repeatedly on himself.

I have described these processes more detailed in my writing The Threshold of the Spiritual World (GA017)

This cyclic self-experience,

  • once in a lonesome,
  • then in a sociable life,

is necessary, because thereby the force of light survives. This goes on in such a way that one settles down in wealthier and wealthier spiritual worlds for which one needs more and more inner force of light. This lasts a long time. Then one feels that one is subjected to a certain border because one has settled in these spiritual worlds. This border depends on the capacities that one has appropriated in life. One soul creates a smaller horizon, the other a larger one.

[Also cyclically]

However, I have still to mention that also in the second half of the postmortal existence life runs cyclically.

We have to distinguish the time of life

  • in that outside world where we behold our former friends and relatives, our ideals et cetera externally objectively as it were,
  • and then that other time where we have them only in our inside.

This alternates again with necessity for the soul as in the usual life waking and sleeping, day and night alternate.

1914-04-08-GA153 introduces the alternating periods of solitute and sociability in a public lecture, (further deepened in the lecture to members a few days later, on 1914-04-13-GA153 - see below)

1914-04-13-GA153 is an excellent lecture worth contemplating in depth


With the dead man it is different;

  • he sees himself in continuous interchange with that which he perceives. That is one of his conditions; the perception of the flowing-in and the continuous flowing-out of a living stream of thought.
  • The other is that this ceases, and a quiet recollection of what has flowed through him comes about; an intense and far-reaching memory, not our abstract memory, but one connected with the whole of the Universe.

These two conditions alternate.


As we pass behind the sphere of Saturn, we pass what older traditions call the zodiac, representattive of the heavens with their fixed stars, or in other words of spirit land in general. But precisely when we encompass all the separate stars that compose the zodiac, we delineate the path that the human being has to pursue. The human being takes this path in order to be able to develop the spirit germ of his next physical body from the whole cosmos, in cooperation with the spiritual beings of the hierarchies.

[Alternation of surrender-of self (to cosmos) and self-experience (drawing back into self)]

In this way, between death and a new birth, we progress through an alternation of self-experience and self-surrender.

To say this, however, takes us only as far as if we were to describe events on Earth in the course of the twenty-four hours by saying: Human beings sleep and wake. We have merely gone that far with such a description of a man's experience between death and a new birth in the spiritual world. For the outgoing surrender and the drawing back again of the self in the spiritual world are similar to waking and sleeping in earthly life.

And as in earthly life only those events a man has lived through find a place, so in the completion of these wheels of births and deaths the spiritual events involved are those a man has actually experienced between death and rebirth. In order to grasp these events we must form a sound conception of how matters really stand for a man in earthly life.

1923-08-27-GA227 connects these two rhythms to the circles of the spiral (and in the 1923-08-29-GA227 that is linked to the 2160 years, 1080 for ascent and descent: 30 years for the Moon loop (about the time Man sleeps in his earth life), 12 times as long or 360 years for the Mars, Jupiter and Saturn loops, so 3x360=1080 years)

Memory and Love

A full lecture is dedicated to ‘memory and love’ during incarnate life with


The synopsis:

The physical human being's state of separateness from his earthly surroundings; the involvement of man's soul-spiritual being with the streams of his own inner domain of soul and spirit and with those of the universe.

Two poles of man's soul-spiritual nature. The boundary between

  • the normal aura and
  • the universal dimension of the surrounding world.

Streaming movements as flashes of light, gestures of encounter and opposition; the forming of boundaries, external and internal barriers.

  • Memory as an inner barrier or wave of obstruction; beyond this zone lies a conscious inner space.
  • The other zone corresponds to the power of love; and beyond this zone is the soul-spiritual aspect of the universe.

First this is touched upon as part of WST equivalences on 1922-11-26-GA219. The one week later:


In spiritual life between death and a new birth the exact opposite prevails. There we do really know what is within us. It is as if here on earth we were not to see trees and clouds outside, but were to look in the main inside ourselves, saying: Here is the lung, here the heart, here the stomach. In the spiritual world we contemplate our own interior. But what we see is the world of spiritual beings, the world we come to know in our anthroposophical literature as the world of the higher Hierarchies. That is our inner world. And between death and rebirth we feel ourselves actually to be the whole world — when I speak of the whole it is only figuratively, but it is entirely true — at times we each of us feel ourselves to be the whole world. And at the most important moments of our spiritual existence between death and a new birth we feel within us and experience the world of spiritual beings and are conscious of them. It is just as true that we are conscious there of spirits of the higher world within us as it is true that here on earth we have no consciousness of our interior, of liver, lungs, and so on. What is most characteristic is that in spiritual experience all our physical experience is reversed. Gradually, through initiation-knowledge, we learn how this is to be understood.

[An essential (group of) process(es) related to the inward living together with higher Hierarchies]

Now, however, there is an essential process — or group of processes — related to this inward living together with the beings of the higher Hierarchies. Were we in the spiritual world to perceive inwardly only the world of the higher Hierarchies, we would never find ourselves. We would indeed know that various beings were living in us, but we would never become fully aware of ourselves. Hence in our experience between death and a new birth there is a rhythm.

It consists in an alternation between

  • our inward contemplation and experience of the world of spiritual beings described in anthroposophical literature,
  • and a damping down of this consciousness.

We do the same with the spiritual within us when in physical life we close our eyes and ears and go to sleep. If I may put it like this, we turn our attention from the world of spiritual beings within us and begin to perceive ourselves. Certainly it is as if we were outside ourselves, but we know that this being outside ourselves is what we are. Thus in the spiritual world we alternately perceive ourselves and the world of spiritual beings.

This constantly repeated rhythmical process can be compared with two different things here in physical existence on earth. It can be compared with in-breathing and out-breathing, and also with sleeping and waking.

In physical existence on earth both these are rhythmical processes; both may be compared with what I have been describing. But with the processes that take place in the spiritual world between death and rebirth, it is not a question of knowing something in a purely abstract way, or — I might add — for the satisfaction of spiritual curiosity; it is a matter of recognising life on earth as an image of the super-earthly. And the question necessarily arises:

What takes place in earthly life that is like a faculty of memory such as man does not have in ordinary consciousness, a faculty that might be possessed by beings of the Hierarchies, Archangels?

What is there in physical life that is like a memory of living oneself into the world of spiritual beings, or like a memory of experiencing oneself there?

and later, after expanding on the fact that we find this back, in the physical world, in morality, memory and love .. again in summary

.. I have compared what man experiences in connection with higher beings in the spiritual world, alternating with his experience of the self, with breathing — in-breathing, out-breathing. In our breathing process, and in the processes concerned with speech and song, we can recognise an image of “breathing” in the spiritual world. As I have said, our life in the spiritual world between death and a new birth alternates between contemplation of the inner self, and becoming one with the beings of the higher Hierarchies; looking out from within, becoming one with ourself. This goes on like in-breathing and out-breathing. We breathe into ourselves and then breathe ourselves out, and this is of course a spiritual breathing.

Here on earth this breathing process becomes memory and love. And in fact memory and love also work together here in physical earth-life as a kind of breathing. And if with the eyes of the soul you are able to look at this physical life rightly, you will be able to observe in an important manifestation of breathing — speaking and singing — the physiological working together of memory and love.

and 1922-12-09-GA218

Our Memory here on the Earth is the echo of our being-within-ourselves in the Spiritual World.

And Love, in all its forms, is the echo of our being-poured-out into the world of the Hierarchies.

We have, as we have seen, our bodily faculties: Walking, Speaking, Singing and Thinking (for it is only prejudice to imagine that thought on the earth is a spiritual faculty; our earthly thinking is essentially bound to the physical body, just as our walking is) — these outstanding faculties of the body are transformations, metamorphoses, of the spiritual. Then, in the soul, we have the outstanding faculties of soul: Memory and Love, once more as transformations out of the spiritual.

1922-12-15-GA219 links the rhythm of the two alternating conditions to the faculties, between birth and death, of love and memory. The lecture is called 'Rhythms of Earthly and Spiritual Life. Love, Memory, the Moral Life' and gives a comparison between the two alternating conditions between birth & death, and between death & birth.

It is described

  • how morality, the outcome of experiencing love, is a result of communion with higher hierarchies
  • and how memory is also very much connected with human egoism on the one side and, on the other, with human freedom. Freedom will become a reality in a human being in whose life on Earth there is a true echo of what is experienced in pre-earthly existence as a kind of rhythm: namely, feeling oneself united with the Beings of the Hierarchies, freeing oneself, entering into union again, and so on.

Here on Earth the experiences come to expression, not as a rhythm, but as two co-existing human faculties: the faculty of love and the faculty of memory.


Related pages

References and further reading