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The Destiny of Individuals and of Nations
GA 157

7. Personal and Supersensible Aspects (Relating to Certain Individuals)

22 February 1915, Berlin

Dear friends, let us first of all remember those who are at the front, in the great arena of present-day events:

Spirits of your souls, guardian guides,
On your wings let there be borne
The prayer of love from our souls
To those whom you guard here on earth.
Thus, united with your might,
A ray of help our prayer shall be
For the souls it seeks out there in love.

And for those who because of those events have already gone through the gate of death:

Spirits of your souls, guardian guides,
On your wings let there be borne
The prayer of love from our souls
To those whom you guard in the spheres.
Thus, united with your might,
A ray of help our prayer shall be
For the souls it seeks out there in love.

May the spirit we are seeking as we work towards spiritual knowledge, the spirit who has gone through the Mystery of Golgotha for the good of the earth, for the freedom and progress of man, be With you and the hard duties you have to perform!

This evening I intend to consider some of the things that are known about the way our physical world relates to the spiritual world, starting from certain events that concern us more closely within our own movement. This is such a closed and intimate circle that such a thing is possible. Above all, I know that I can justify what I am going to say also to those who were fellow-members during their physical life and will remain such during their further life. Some of the facts I intend to speak of today will relate to them.

Just in recent weeks, dear friends, karma brought it about that I was able to speak at the cremations of dear friends because I happened to be in the places where the cremations took place. No doubt something else also played a role, for at the time I was particularly concerned to obtain certain remarkable impressions arising from the presence of these individualities in the spiritual world by making contact with them when they had gone through the gate of death just a few days before.

As I have said a number of times, it depends on various circumstances whether one is able to gain impressions of one fact or another in the spiritual world. It depends above all on the degree to which it is possible to develop a strong inner bond with the souls concerned. One may sometimes believe one has a very special relationship with a particular soul only to find that it is not entirely so. On the other hand, there are souls where one does not realize that it is fairly easy to establish such a bond until actual contact is established after their death.

In the three cases I wish to speak of first of all, dear friends, an intense desire arose to receive impressions immediately after their death, impressions connected with the whole nature of those souls. I would say this came of itself in these particular cases. You know it is of course possible to pick up all kinds of threads when making a funeral oration, but in these cases something of an inner necessity arose to make really intense contact with the essence of those souls and put it into words at the cremation. I did not specifically intend to characterize the nature of the souls concerned at those ceremonies, but it arose like an illuminating necessity that this had to be. I am not saying that it would have to be the same in other cases. This illuminating necessity arose in the case of one of those souls because—and I am presenting this not as a law but as something I have gone through, an experience—after death the impulses arose for me from the spiritual world to define the essence of that soul. I did not have to find the words; the words arose of their own accord. They came. We shall see later on, dear friends, why that was so, for certain indications can already be given as to that soul's life after death.

First of all let me say a few things about the particular nature of such experiences so that the whole thing can be understood. If we Warn to gain an impression in the physical world we confront the object. We form ideas depending on the way we see or hear something or feel it by touch. We know that it is we ourselves who form the ideas. If one is dealing with a soul that has gone through the gate of death one will immediately notice that everything we produce Ourselves by way of thoughts, of words, really takes us away from the soul in question and that it is necessary to give ourselves up entirely to what is taking shape within us. If the impressions are then to be put into words it will indeed be necessary for us to have the potential within us for these words to form, being unable to do anything ourselves to make the words form in that particular way. We need to able to listen inwardly for those words. If we do listen for them Inwardly we also know with certainty: These words are not spoken by myself but by the soul which has gone through the gate of death.

That is what happened in recent weeks when an older member departed from us and from the physical plane.38Lina Grosheintz-Rohrer. See Rudolf Steiner: Unsere Toten (GA 261), address given in Basle on 10 January 1915. This was an older member who had really entered into our movement with all her heart over a considerable number of years, bringing to life in her feelings, In her heart and mind, the idea and concepts spiritual science is able to give. With tremendous devotion she had identified in her soul with all that is alive and astir in spiritual science. It was now a matter of giving oneself over, as it were, to the impression that arose from this soul. And, strangely enough, it was the case—it has been possible to show this—that just a few hours after physical death had occurred Impressions arose that took the form not merely of verbal impressions but of audible, real words; like a characterization of that soul. Nothing could be done in relation to these words but as far as possible attempt to receive in its pure form what that soul was speaking through my own soul. One certainly must call it speaking in such a case. And those then were the words I spoke at the cremation. They were not my words, as I said, but words—and please consider the Words I shall now use carefully—that came from the soul which had gone through death:

Far into cosmic space I'll carry
My feeling heart; warm it shall grow
In fires wrought by sacred powers;

In cosmic thoughts I'll weave
My own thinking; clear it shall grow
In light of life that ever is renewed;

To depths of soul I'll guide
Devoted contemplation; strong it shall grow
For mankind's true and real goals;

In God's tranquility I thus will strive
Through life's hard struggles and all cares
Prepare my self to be a higher self.

Seeking the peace of joyful labours,
And sensing cosmic truth within my own,
I work towards fulfillment of man's task;

Then may I live in hope,
Going towards my soul's own star
Who in the spirit realm appoints my place.

When I spoke these words again at the end of the funeral oration I had to change the last verse as follows, though I had not known of this beforehand:

Then may I live in hope,
Going towards my star of destiny
Who in the spirit realm appoints my place.

It was clear what this was about. The individual concerned was endeavouring to impress into her very being that now had gone through death—the thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences she had received through spiritual science over the years—impress them in such a way that these ideas and experiences became forces that would mould this individual after death, leaving their imprint. This individual had therefore used the ideas and concepts of spiritual science to put their mark, their imprint, on her own essential nature, shaping the way this essential nature would then continue on the soul's path in the spiritual world.

Soon after this we lost another friend, another member of our movement.39Sybil Colazza. See Unsere Toten (GA 261), address given in Basle on 10 January 1915. Again an intense need arose to define the essential nature of this member. This could not happen the way it had happened in the Previous case, however. In the previous case it really was true to say of the way the words were chosen that a soul that had gone through the gate of death was expressing itself, saying what it felt itself to be and what it wished to become; it expressed itself. In this second case the situation was that one had to put one's own soul in confrontation, as it were, and consider this soul in the spirit. Then this soul, too, expressed itself, but in words that this time took the material needed for self-characterization out of the soul of the observer. What the soul which had gone through the gate of death was doing therefore merely provided the stimulus to express what one had to feel about its essential nature now that it had gone through the gate of death. And so the following words arose and had to be sent out after the soul at the cremation:

You came among us,
And a living, innate sweetness
Spoke from the quiet power of your eyes—
Calmness full of life and soul Flowed in the waves
That from your eyes
Would let your inward weaving
Go out to things and human beings.
This inner nature was the soul
within your voice, with eloquence—
More by the nature of the word
Than in the word itself—
Revealing what lay hidden
within the beauty of your soul.
To the devoted love
Of hearts in sympathy
It would without words be revealed.
Sublimest beauty, silent, calm.
Of world-soul creation
This being could reveal to the perceptive heart.

These words were spoken at the beginning and the end of the funeral oration, after which the cremation began. And it was possible to observe, dear friends, that this moment—please note, not the moment when the words were spoken but the moment when the heat of the furnace took hold of the body—was the time when something of a first conscious moment after death occurred. I shall go into this in more detail later on. What I mean by ‘conscious moment’ is this immediately after death a review of life presents itself in the fain of a tableau in the ether body. This goes away after a few days. Now' at the time it proved necessary to have a fairly long interval between death and cremation. Death had occurred at 6 p.m. on the Wednesday; the cremation took place the following Monday at 11 am. At that point the time had already been reached when the life tableau was disappearing. The first moment when there was some degree of consciousness after the life tableau therefore came when the heat of the furnace took hold of the body. It then became clearly apparent that such a nature become spirit has a different way of seeing things' a different way of regarding the world, from a human soul that still remains in its physical body.

When we are in our physical bodies our perception of things in space is that they remain where they are when we move away from them. So if there is a chair standing here and I see it, and I then go a bit further away and look back, the chair is still there. I look back at it. As I continue on my way the chair is still there, it stays where it is. It is not the same for events taking place in time whilst we are within our physical bodies. The events we have let go past us in time do not remain stationary. An event that has passed has passed and we are only able to look back on it in memory. The only thing that links us to the event is our past. It is not like this for a spiritual entity, for this sees events as stationary, the way we see objects remain stationary in space here on earth. And the first impression received by the soul I spoke of was of the funeral and everything that was done and said at the ceremony. This had happened five or ten minutes earlier but for the dead person it was still there, still stood there the way objects stand in space for physical man. The first impression was one of looking back on the words that had been spoken, that is, above all, the words now sounding for her, the words I have just read to You. It really is the way Richard Wagner once put it out of a profound Intuition: ‘Time turns into space’40‘Time here turns into space.’—Gurnemanz in Parcifal, Act 1. What has passed has not in fact passed where spiritual experience is concerned. It stands there the way objects stand in space for physical man.

So that was the first impression gained after death—the funeral and the words spoken at it. In this case the situation was such that this look back in time and the vision, as it were, of what had happened at the funeral cannot be said to mean that consciousness lit up and then remained. The twilight state I shall discuss later returned and it was some time before consciousness lit up again. Once more, slowly and gradually, consciousness comes to shine forth again. It takes months until it is so complete that we can say the dead individual has the whole of the spiritual world all around him. But at a later time, exactly through consciousness lighting up at a later time, this particular individual showed a tremendous need to look to this moment again and again, to this particular moment, and to get a clear picture of this moment. This fully agrees with what we are able to know about the whole behaviour of the human being after death, as I intend to show presently.

There is a third case, one that will also deeply concern our Berlin members. It is the case of our dear friend and member Fritz Mitscher41See Rudolf Steiner: Unsere Toten (GA 261), address given in Basle on 5 February 1915. who died recently. Fritz Mitscher went through the gate of death just before be had completed his thirtieth year. He would have been thirty on 26 February which lies just ahead.

In the case of Fritz Mitscher, when my thoughts were directed towards him after his death, it was above all the impulses arising from his intense devotion to our spiritual movement that entered into my own soul, the soul of the observer. He had been a truly exemplary Personality in this respect. An exemplary personality in that he—being by nature inclined towards erudition—more and more felt the inner necessity, a deep inner need, to move in a direction where he placed the whole of his erudition, all the knowledge he might acquit!' at the service of the spiritual scientific movement. This made ill one of the people who are so essential to the progress of our philosophy based on spiritual science. What is needed in the present time is that external science, external scientific endeavour, is used in such a way by the soul that this external scientific endeavour joins into the stream of knowledge obtained out of the spiritual world towards which we wish to direct our efforts. And that was the inspiration in the young soul of Fritz Mitscher. One could not help feeling, even in looking upon him in physical life, that he was very much on the right path as far as our movement was concerned.

Our friends will recall something I said when another death had occurred many years ago: Individuals who have taken in, as it were, what physical science has to offer to the present time are the very individuals who make important contributions to our movement after an early death. Our movement depends not only on souls that are incarnated on earth. If we did not have the energies of souls that have gone through the gate of death with earthly knowledge and there remain connected with the will that must flow through our movement, we certainly would not be able in our materialistic age to maintain the hope which we must maintain so strongly to enable us to progress.

Something therefore came to me from Fritz Mitscher's soul that may be epitomized in words I found I could only bring to expression in the way I shall now read to you. These are also the words spoken at his cremation.

Happy prospect come before us,
You appeared upon the plane
Where the earth-grown flowers of spirit
May revealed be to the seeker
Through the power of soul reality.

At the root of all your striving
Lay the purest love of truth;
And to work in light of spirit
Was your life's profound intent,
Never would your efforts cease.

Splendid gifts you had and nurtured,
Faithful, to the truth adhering,
Undeterred by worldly opposition,
Firm of step the bright path you pursued
That to knowledge of the spirit leads.

And you used the organs of the spirit
With persistence and great courage;
They would push away all error
To the edges of your path,
For the truth a space creating.

Your own self you were transforming
To reveal the purest light;
Letting sun force of the soul
Shine with might within your heart—
Here your cares lay and your joy in life.

Other cares and other joys
Scarcely ever touched your soul;
Recognition of the truth
Seemed to you to give life meaning
And a value that was real.

Happy prospect come before us,
You appeared upon the plane
Where the earth-grown flowers of spirit
May revealed be to the seeker
Through the power of soul reality.

Painful loss, most deeply felt,
You now vanish from the plane
Where the earth seeds of the spirit
Ripened in the womb of soul reality
To become awareness for the spheres.

Feel our loving gaze directed
To the heights where you are facing
Now a new and different task;
From those lofty spirit regions
Lend your strength to those you left behind.

Hear the prayer of our souls;
In it speaks our truth and faith:
To fulfil our task on earth we need
Powers great from lands where spirits dwell,
Strength that comes from friends who have died.

Happy prospect come before us,
Painful loss, most deeply felt—
Let us hope that in far nearness
Never lost to us, our lives you'll guide
As a soul star in the spirit realm.

Words like these, dear friends, have been shaped in such a way that they must be considered to have arisen through identification with the soul that has passed through death. They arise from necessity though not spoken by that soul itself, for that soul only provided the stimulus. They arise from necessity, through the energies coming from that soul, to be spoken exactly the way they have been spoken down to every detail. There really was nothing else in my mind where these words are concerned but those words in the form I have just read them to you. It therefore was extremely moving for me when during the night following the funeral the soul of our Fritz Mitscher replied, in a way, to what had been spoken at his funeral—not out of conscious awareness as yet, but out of his essential nature. His soul replied the effect that the following words came from it, that is, now from the soul which had gone through death:

My own self I was transforming
To reveal the purest light;
Letting Sun-force of the soul
Shine with might within my heart
Here my cares lay and my joy in life.

Others cares and other joys
Scarcely ever touched my soul;
Recognition of the truth
Seemed to me to give life meaning
And a value that was real.

It had never occurred to me when I had to write down those verses that they could also be said in such a way that every ‘you’ would become a ‘me’, every ‘your’ a ‘my’. What had come to life for me had merely been:

Your own self you were transforming
To reveal the purest light;
Letting sun force of the soul
Shine with might within your heart—
Here your cares lay and your joy in life.

Other cares and other joys
Scarcely ever touched your soul;
Recognition of the truth
Seemed to you to give life meaning
And a value that was real.

Now those words had been transposed in that way, and they could be transposed without changing the grammatical structure, merely changing ‘your own self’ to ‘my own self’, ‘Shine with might within your heart’ to ‘Shine with might within my heart’, and so on.

So there you have a strange connection between the words spoken here and the soul that had gone through the gate of death, a connection showing that the words spoken here truly did not merely return as an echo out of that soul but had undergone a meaningful change on their return. Let me merely mention that a certain feeling really and truly went through my soul when those words were shaped, as of necessity, providing the following nuance: It appeared to me to be necessary to give a specific mission to this particular soul as it went through the gate of death. We know how much resistance there is to our spiritual movement in the present materialistic age; how far from ready the world is for our spiritual movement. And if we a clear picture of what man is capable of achieving when in his earthly body we can indeed say that he needs assistance. This feeling found expression in the words:

Hear the prayer of our souls:
In it speaks our truth and faith:
To fulfil our task here on this earth
We need powers great from lands where spirits dwell,
Strength that comes from friends who have died.

Asking this soul, as it were, to make further use of the seeds acquired here, using them specifically to further our spiritual movement. That seemed to me to be a feeling that had to arise of necessity especially in the case of this soul.

You will have noted that these three cases of people so close to us have something in common, however much they may differ. What they have in common is that thoughts as to its essential nature were prompted to come up before the soul contemplating these things, a soul specifically stimulated to such contemplation by karma, because a funeral oration had to be given. There was necessity to give expression to its essential nature.

In the case of the first individual I spoke of—you known the spirit in which I am saying these things; only to provide insight, not to show off in any way—the situation was that I had also got to know that individual on the physical plane when she had joined the Society. You get to know a few things that happen when people are within our Society; but our friends will know that it is not my way to make special inquiries into the circumstances and so on of anyone, nor ask about one thing or another these persons have lived through here in their physical life, and so on. So it was not personal satisfaction I gained but rather the satisfaction arising from insight when also characterized this individual according to the nature of her soul the way it had lived through this life on earth. The only thing I had before me was the soul after death. It was not that it spoke the words I read to you first, but I had the soul before me the way it was now after death, in its peculiar nature after death. I really knew practically nothing of what had happened to her before she had joined our Society, nor of her life in so far as it did not have to do with meetings and so on, or the kind of occasions where one meets our members now and then. Yet it was specifically in this case that I found myself Induced, as though of necessity, to speak of certain aspects of her life, aspects relating to her whole life. of the relationship of the individual who had died—and she .had reached a great age—to her children and the work she did in her life. And as I said, it was not a matter of personal satisfaction but rather of satisfaction in having gained insight when the family then told me the0y really were able to recognize the person in question on the basis of what was said there. with every word intensely characteristic of her. The right picture had therefore also been presented of her personal life during her time on earth and the only possibility of this had been in perceiving the fruits of this life now that it had concentrated in the soul. The specific insight we gain from this is that in the case of this particular soul we perceive an intense need after death to direct the eye of the spirit to her own life. It definitely was through no merit of my own that I was able to characterize the personal life of this individual. What happened was that this individuality, though not conscious at the time, directed her soul essence to her own life, preparing for the conscious life after death that was to come. She directed powers that later were to become conscious to her own life, to what she herself had experienced. The Wings I was made to say could then be seen in thought pictures that arose as her soul was directed towards her own experiences. What I had to describe, therefore, was what this individual was unconsciously thinking of herself after death. And the important thing, the thing to be emphasized, is the fact that after death this individual felt an intense need unconsciously to direct her gaze to her own essential nature.

In the case of the second person, who woke, as it were, when the flames took hold of her body, it later showed itself—in a further spontaneous awakening of this kind—from her attitude to the very characteristic of her essential nature, that she had need to reach back as it were, to go back to this essential nature, to the words that characterized her essential nature. And, indeed, in the language—if you can call language what finds expression in the relationship between souls, whether they are incarnated or else not incarnated and already spiritual entities, already dead—in the way one is able to speak of such intercourse it really had to be said: when at a later point I was able to perceive a further awakening in the case of this individual, I was conscious of a deep joy because I had been able to find those particular words. For it became apparent that there had really been good collaboration with the dead person. It could be concluded that the soul of this person—you know I am speaking in analogies—expressed itself more or less as follows: it is good that it is there ‘It is good that it is there in that place.’ Such a feeling was revealed on the second awakening, as though the dead woman were showing that something had been enhanced, as it were, in the spiritual world because it has also been put in human words here on the physical earth and that this was something she needed, and it was good that it had become more fixed through the physical words on earth than she herself had been able to fix it. There was a need there for her to fix this. And it was a help to her that it had been reinforced in this way.

In the case of our dear friend Fritz Mitscher you can of course see quite clearly that the night following the cremation he picked up the thread immediately and made use of the words spoken here, to get a clear picture of his own essential nature, to be clear about himself.

In all three cases, therefore, there has been a looking towards one's own essential nature. These, of course, are the things that first of all touch our souls, our hearts, because of their purely human quality, their purely human aspect. But spiritual insights can only be gained from the world that is at hand if they are ready to come to us as a boon. You cannot force it; such insights must be waited for. And it is particularly in this context that we can perceive the strange ways of karma.

The day after the second of the people I have mentioned had died in Zurich I was in Zurich myself. We were walking past a bookshop and in that bookshop I saw a book I had read years before. The way it is with the life I lead, I would not have found it easy to lay hands on that book in what is supposed to be my library, for that is in a peculiar state due to my living in many places. Years ago, as I said, I had read a book by the Viennese philosopher Dr Ernst Mach,42Mach, Ernst (1838 –1916): Analyse der Empfindtuigen und das Verhaltnis des Physischen vim Psychischen Jena 1900, p 3. and this bookshop was offering it secondhand. I felt I wanted to read it again, or at least look at it again. When I reached the third page something presented itself to my eyes that I had long since lost sight of, an interesting comment Ernst Mach had made about man acquiring self-knowledge, about the difficulty man had in getting to know himself. I am quoting almost word for word what it says on page 3 in the book written by Ernst Mach, a university professor, on Analyzing One's Feelings:

As a young man I was walking along a street one day and there encountered a person who aroused the feeling in me that he had a most unpleasant, disagreeable face. And it gave me quite a fright to discover that it was my own face I had encountered, my own face meeting me in a mirror.

So he was walking in the streets, and mirrors inclined towards each other reflected his own mirror image to him. And when he saw himself he said: That is someone with an unpleasant, disagreeable face I am coming up against there. Immediately afterwards the author adds another such comment concerning lack of self-knowledge. He says:

One day I returned home tired from a journey and got on a bus. I saw another man getting on from the opposite side and thought to myself: What kind of down-at-heel schoolmaster is that getting on there! And lo and behold, it was I myself. The mirror on the bus had shown me my own reflection.

Professor Mach adds: ‘I therefore knew the style and bearing of my profession better than I did my own.’

Here we have something of a pointer to show how difficult it is for man to recognise himself even when it comes to his purely external appearance. We do not even know what we look like in three dimensional space, not even if we are university professors. You can see that from this very candid confession.

It is interesting that such an example can be quoted in the context of the case I have referred to, for I think you'll agree that it shows how here, in the physical body, self-knowledge need not be all that much of an obstacle to whatever we need to achieve on earth. You can be a renowned professor and know as little about yourself as this man has told in his book. I have mentioned this example because it is strange that it presented itself to the mind's eye when the soul was, directed to take fresh note of how someone who has died feels a need to grasp his own essential nature, to perceive it. Here in the physical world it is perfectly possible to manage without self-knowledge, I'd say, with regard to anything concerning the purely material aspects of our lives. It is not, however, possible to gain knowledge of the spiritual worlds without self-knowledge. We shall discuss this in a week's time. For external, material concerns, however, we can manage without self-knowledge. Yet as soon as the soul has gone through the gate of death, self-knowledge will be the first thing it needs. This is particularly evident from the experience I have described. Self-knowledge has to be the starting point.

You see, a materialist tends to stick at the question as to whether consciousness persists after death. Spiritual science has shown that when the soul had gone though the gate of death it does not in fact suffer from lack of consciousness but rather has too much of it. A kind of awakening will come at a later stage, not because it is necessary to acquire a new consciousness after death but because there is dazzling consciousness, too much consciousness, and this needs to be gradually subdued in the early stages. You will find more about this in the Viennese cycle43Rudolf Steiner: Inneres Wesen des Menschen und Leben zwischen Tod und newer Geburt (GA 153), 1914. English translation of some of the lectures in The Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and a New Birth (tr. D.S. Osmond and C. Davy) (London) Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1959. which has also appeared in print. After death, man has too much conscious awareness, an overpowering awareness, and he needs to get his bearings first in this world of over- powering awareness. Gradually he will achieve this and as he does so his awareness will be less in degree than before. Conscious awareness must first be subdued, just as over-powerful sunlight has to be subdued. A gradual subduing of consciousness has to be achieved. So we cannot speak of an 'awakening' in the terms that apply in the physical world, but of recovering from a superabundance of conscious awareness to the point where it becomes bearable, depending on what we have experienced in the physical world. This requires the following: to get our bearings in this flood of light that is our awareness after death, we need knowledge of our own essential nature as a starting point. We have to be able to look back upon our own essential nature to find the guidelines, as it were, for an orientation in the spiritual world. Lack of self-knowledge is what hinders conscious awareness after death. We have to find ourselves in the flood of light. And so you see why a need arises to characterize the person who has died, to assist them to find themselves.

This is something we gain as a kind of general insight from such Personal experiences that concern us closely. After death, when the etheric life-tableau has disappeared. there is a gradual development. It is based on our getting to know our life, our own life here on earth, as it gradually dawns out of the spiritual worlds. Once the tableau has passed this is our only aim after death. Everything that is part of the spiritual world will be around us. What we have to get to know above all else, however, is our own essential nature. The concepts and ideas familiar to us from spiritual science will then help us, providing the means of orientation. As you can see in the first case, the self-criticism which showed itself had been possible only through the spiritual science she had taken in, so that it was possible to look at her own essential nature and the words could come: ‘To depths of soul I'll guide devoted contemplation; strong it shall grow for mankind's true and real goals’.

The real intention with all this is to lift our spiritual scientific movement out of mere theory and gradually make it into something that the soul is able to take hold of in a living way, into a stream within which we are truly alive, active and present. We shall then know what goes on in the spiritual world around us, just as in the physical world We know that around us is the air we breathe, however much the ignorant may, and indeed will, deny this. That is the future destiny of man: to know something of the fact that just as the air is there for and around the physical body, so the spiritual world is present all around and can be experienced by the soul. This spiritual world relates more to the soul, as it were, the way the air does to the body: it shapes and fashions the soul, filling it with its essence.

We are also able to give certain details of the fate of the soul after death in individual cases. The reason why such things are discussed in more intimate detail at the present time is that in the momentous, but also painful, events of our time, death is letting its breath pass through the world and our age is demanding countless deaths in sacrifice. We are specially challenged therefore to concern ourselves with the occurrence of death in the present age.

We know, dear friends, that when the human being goes through the gate of death he has handed over his physical body to the earth, to the elements of the earth; the ego and astral body have then departed from the physical body. Now, in the second case today we saw that the ether body had already been cast off when cremation took place; the ether body goes away within a few days. There is one particular question that really comes to the fore in the present time. So many people are going through the gate of death in the very flower of their youth these days. Transferring a purely physical concept to the spiritual sphere—where it has even greater validity than in physical life—we may ask the question: ‘What happens with the ether bodies of these people who have gone through the gate of death; the ether bodies that separate off after a number of days? What happens with such a youthful ether body?’ Such a person who goes through the gate of death in his twentieth, twenty-fifth, thirtieth, thirty-fifth Year' or even earlier, puts his ether body aside. This, however, is an ether body that could still have done work here in physical life, would have had energies still for many years. It was karma that this ether body could not use it energies, yet those energies are still within it. They could have continued to be effective here in physical life for Many years to come. Physicists are right in saying that energies are never lost; here on earth they are transformed. This applies even more so in the spiritual world. These energies relating to someone fallen in battle when still young, energies that could still have supported physical life for many years, do not convert to anything else. They are just there. And we are already able to say, particularly in view of the events of our time, that these energies become part of the essential being of the folk soul of the people concerned. This receives those energies so that they are then active everywhere within the folk soul. Those are true spiritual energies, energies from the human being which are present in addition to his ego and his astral body, his individual personality which he carries through the period between death and rebirth. For the future it will be important to understand as far as possible that these energies are also present in the folk soul, that they are present within it in the general activity this folk soul is going to unfold; present as energies, not entities. There they will be the most fruitful, I should say the most sun-like. radiant energies.

There is another instance I would like to refer to. one that is very close to our hearts. It has no direct bearing on present events, but the way it happened and what has become of it can all the same cast some light for us on all the cases where an unspent ether body is put aside when death has occurred at an early age. In the autumn we experienced the death of a member's child, a child seven years of age.44The child in question was Theo Faiss. See Rudolf Steiner: Unsere Toten (GA 261), address given in Dornach on 10 October 1914. The death of this child occurred in a strange way. He was a good boy, mentally very much alive already within the limits set for a seven-year-old; a good, well-behaved and mentally very active child. He came to die because he happened to be on the very spot where a furniture van overturned, crushing the boy so that he died of suffocation. This was a spot where probably no van went past before nor will go past again, but one did pass just that moment. It is also Possible to show in an outer way that all kinds of circumstances caused the child to be in that place at the time the van overturned, circumstances considered chance if the materialistic view is taken. He was getting some food supplies for his mother and left a bit later that particular evening, having been held up. If he had gone five minutes earlier he would have been well past the place where the van overturned. He had also left by another door than usual; just on this one occasion by another door! Leaving by the other door he would have passed to the right of the van. The van overturned to the left. Studying the case in the light of spiritual science and of karma it will be seen to demonstrate very clearly that external logic, quite properly used in external life, proves flimsy in this case and does not apply.

One example I have quoted a number of times is that of a person who was walking by a river and fell into the water at a point where a stone was lying. Superficially it may indeed appear that the man stumbled over the stone, fell into the water and thus came to his death. The obvious conclusion will be that he drowned. A post mortem examination would however have shown that he suffered a stroke and therefore died and fell into the water. Thus he fell into the water because he was dead and did not die because he fell into the water. Cause and effect have been confused. Things that seem perfectly logical in external life may be completely wrong.

Superficially, the death of young Theodor Faiss could also be described as a most unfortunate accident. In reality, however, the karma of this child was such that the ego, to put it bluntly, had ordered the van and the van overturned to fulfil the child's karma. So there we have a particularly young ether body. The child could have grown up and reached the age of seventy. The energies in the ether body would have been enough for seventy years but they went through the gate of death after seven years. The whole event took place in Dornach as you know. The father had been drafted into the German army and was not there at the time: he died quite soon after, having been wounded at the front. The whole thing happened in the immediate neighbourhood of the building and from that time the aura of the building at Dornach contains the energies from the ether body of this child. A person working for this building and able to perceive the spiritual energies involved in the project will find within them the energies of this child. Quite apart, therefore, from the ego and astral body which have entered the spiritual world, to be active there between death and rebirth, the unspent ether body has now united with the whole of the spiritual aura of the building at Dornach. Deep and significant feelings attach to such insights for they do not represent knowledge of the dry numerical kind we take into our minds, but insights received into the soul with deep gratitude. Mindful of this, I shall never even for a moment fail to remember, in anything I have to do for that building at Dornach, that these energies are contributing to the project, helping me in the project. Here theoretical insight merges into life itself.

Being aware of this, dear friends, you will understand that it is possible to get some idea now, at a time when countless ether bodies pass through the gate of death without having achieved fulfillment on earth, as to what will happen when the sun of peace returns again, after the twilight of war. Then the energies, the ether forces of those who have passed through the gate of death, the gate of suffering, will want to unite with the souls that are active here on earth, unite with than for the good of the earth and for progress on earth. This means, however, that there will have to be people on earth who appreciate these things, who will be aware of the fact that the people who have made their sacrifice to the age are up there in the spiritual world in their residual ether bodies. They want to join in the work of this world. Their work will only be wholly fruitful if there are receptive souls here that are Prepare{ to unite their thoughts with what comes to them from the spiritual world. These are momentous times, but also difficult and painful times. For their fruits it is immensely important that thoughts are created out of a science that acknowledges the spirit, thoughts that are then able to unite with the thoughts coming down from the ether bodies of those who have died in sacrifice. Thus we have an indication that even in the midst of these difficult times, under the sign of suffering also and of death, we are under the sign of greatness, that the difficult things which are happening also remind us that they are intended to give rise to an age that is more open to the spirit than the past age has been. What must not happen is that those who have made the sacrifice will have to look down on an earth world for which they have given themselves, to contribute to its progress and salvation, and find themselves unable to take action because there are no souls sending receptive thoughts out towards them. We therefore must see spiritual science as something that is alive, a living element that will be needed in the time that is to come. particularly with regard to the events of the present day. It is this which I have been summing up again and again in the words I shall now speak, in the spirit of and in accord with what we have been considering:

Out of courage shown in battle,
Out of the blood shed in war,
Out of the grief of those who are left,
Out of the people's deeds of sacrifice
Spirit fruits will come to grow
If souls with knowledge of the spirit
Turn their mind to spirit realms.