Karmic Relationships VI
1 June 1924, Stuttgart
On the last occasion, during our Waldorf School Conference, I spoke to you about karmic connections in the evolution of humanity, and to-day I want to say something more on the same subject. I shall begin with matters of which you already have some knowledge and then pass on to others less familiar to you.
When the human being passes through the gate of death, his ether-body dissolves away into the Cosmos when the physical body has been laid aside at the moment of death itself. To-day we shall not be studying this first stage after death, when the ether-body is dissolving, but the stage which follows. This can best be understood by thinking, to begin with, of the earthly life between birth and death. This earthly life runs its course in two sharply different conditions: waking and sleeping. You know from Anthroposophy that during the waking state the four members — physical body, ether-body, astral body and Ego — interpenetrate, mutually stimulating and sustaining their several functions. But in sleep the physical body and etheric body remain in the bed, leading temporarily a plant-like existence, while the astral body and Ego-organisation live independently in the spiritual world, separated from the physical and etheric bodies. We know from ordinary experience that when we are recollecting our earthly life, our remembrances are falsified in a certain sense. For when we look back with ordinary consciousness over our life, this retrospect seems to be a continuous, onward flowing stream, one event proceeding from another consecutively, and as a rule we ignore the fact that the stream of our memories is continually interrupted by the nights. In remembrance, therefore, there is a sequence of day-night-day-night; a period of clear consciousness passes over into one of darkness and this again into one of light. With the exception of dreams which arise from sleep, the part of earthly life which is spent in sleep remains, for the most part, unconscious. Generally speaking, this constitutes a third of the earthly life — if a man is not an abnormally long sleeper. Even taking into consideration the many more hours a child spends in sleep, it will be found that sleep occupies about a third of the time of life on the Earth.
We may ask: What are the Ego-organisation and astral body doing during the period of sleep? They are, it is true, in the spiritual world. But they have no awareness in that world and with the exception of dreams they remain unconscious. Moreover if the human being — constituted as he is on Earth with his ordinary consciousness — were always to have awareness during sleep he would go astray in one direction or another. A man of a more Ahrimanic disposition would go about during the day as if in a swoon, as if his consciousness had suffered a kind of paralysis; a man of a more Luciferic disposition would go about in a state of confused consciousness, with his thoughts and feelings in a perpetual jumble. Generally speaking, the human being is protected by the power known as the “Guardian of the Threshold” from becoming aware of the spiritual world around him during sleep.
When a man has passed through the gate of death, however, and after the first few days has laid aside the etheric body, he starts an existence which flows backwards, beginning with the day of death, passing then to the day before that, and so on through the whole of his life, in the direction from death to birth. But he lives backwards through the nights — the periods of sleep — not through the days. Hence the time during which his life is lived through in this backward order amounts to about one third of the span of his earthly life. If a man dies at the age of sixty, this backward ‘journey’ lasts about twenty years, that is to say, this other life is passed through three times as quickly as the life on Earth. Between death and a new birth we review the nights during which — unconsciously of course — pictures were produced which are in a sense negative images of the earthly life.
If man were not protected by the Guardian of the Threshold his experiences every night would be unendurable and bring about the consequences to which I have referred. If, for instance, he had done someone a wrong, he would feel during sleep as if he were transposed into the other man, experiencing what this other man had felt as a result of the wrong done to him. For the reason given there is no such experience during sleep. But after death, during the period referred to, it comes with very great intensity. We live backwards through our earthly life and through all the compensatory experiences for what we have done or failed to do. How comes it that we are able to live through these compensatory experiences?
In order to answer this question, attention must be called to a cosmic event. During the course of the Earth's evolution, the Moon — which was originally part of the Earth — separated and emerged from the Earth to lead an independent physical existence. Some time after the physical substances of the Moon separated from the Earth, the ancient primeval Teachers of humanity departed to the Moon. While they were on the Earth, these primeval Teachers had not incarnated in physical bodies, but only in etheric bodies. Hence the nature of their influence upon human beings was imaginative, inspirational. And all the wonderful teachings which were given in a more poetic form and contained in legends and sagas, originated in a majestic, primeval wisdom imparted by these ancient Teachers on the Earth. But the essential nature of these Teachers enabled them to withdraw to the Moon which has since been their habitation.
When the human being passes through the gate of death, he moves in very truth through the Cosmos; his being expands and expands. He passes first into the Moon sphere and encounters these great primeval Teachers as they now are. They preserve as it were a naively instinctive, innocent state of the human race. Before men succumbed to the possibility of doing evil, these primeval Teachers were present on the Earth. They take into themselves what is inscribed by us into the Akashic Chronicle during the nights we live through during our existence on Earth. They permeate it with their own being and thus make it possible for us, during the first third of our life after death when we are living through the events of earthly existence in backward order, to experience it all with greater intensity than we experienced it on Earth. Events in earthly life jolt us, impel and drive us, but those whose spiritual vision is able to witness what a dead man lives through in these first decades after his death know well that through the magical power of the great Teachers who have established their colony on the Moon, the experiences of yonder life have an intensity infinitely greater and more vivid than those of earthly life. We actually undergo all this. Suppose you once gave someone a box on the ears: after death you do not experience the feeling of satisfaction or perhaps of anger or malice occasioned in you by your action, but you are then within the other man, you experience the pain and the shock that were caused to him. You feel exactly what your action made him feel. The experience of living through such events with a dead man is deeply moving — one cannot say ‘shattering.’
Let me give you an example here. Most of you will remember that among the characters in my Mystery Plays, I have depicted that of Strader. As in the case of most of the characters in the Plays, the figure of Strader is drawn from actual life. There was a man whose life was almost exactly similar to that of Strader as depicted in the Plays. You can well imagine that I was very much interested in this personality during his physical life on Earth. He died in the year 1912, and my interest in his experiences after death began from then onwards. He had ultimately become a writer on the subject of rationalistic theology, and everything he had experienced on the Earth became infinitely more intense as he himself was experiencing the effect of his books and his rationalism. After I had shared for some time in what he was experiencing, I found it impossible to continue the character of Strader in the Plays and he dies because my interest in his earthly life was no longer there; it was eliminated by the intensity of interest in what he was experiencing after death.
An incident connected with this was that certain friends interested themselves in the writings left by the original of Strader and wanted to bring them to me. I simply could not take any interest in the matter and had to ignore it, for the simple reason that interest in the dead is so much stronger and eliminates everything else. By this I merely want to indicate that the experiences of a man after death while living through his life in backward order are much more intense than they were during his earthly existence. Earthly life is almost like a dream as compared with this other experience. It is an experience in negative, an experience of the consequences in the other person of what we have done and left undone. Hence it should not be described as altogether terrible. But at any rate a man must come to realise which of his deeds, his thoughts, his feelings, were just and which were not.
You can imagine that it is in this state of existence that the first seed of karma is formed. For when the human being realises what actually happens between death and a new birth, his judgement differs from judgement as it is on Earth. — I may already have mentioned that many years ago I met a lady who had listened to a conversation that had taken place in her presence on the subject of repeated earthly lives. She said that one life was enough for her, that she had no desire at all for any others, and she protested vehemently against the possibility of having to return again and again. I was obliged to say to her at the time: ‘Yes, it may be that this is your opinion here on Earth; but that is not the point. What matters is the judgement that is made between death and a new birth.’ As long as she was with us, she realised this, but on her travels afterwards she sent me a postcard saying that after all she did not admit that there are many earthly lives!
When the human being is undergoing these intensified experiences after death, he makes a resolve that may be expressed as follows: Owing to this and that, you have become imperfect, you are an inferior human being; and you must make compensation! Thereby the plan of karma is laid down. And such resolutions in the spiritual world between death and a new birth are realities. Just as here on Earth it is a reality that you burn yourself if you put your finger into a flame, so it is a reality in the spiritual world when you form a resolution. And you do most assuredly form it!
All these experiences are lived through in the Moon sphere. Passing through the following spheres of Mercury and Venus, man gradually approaches the Sun sphere. The Mercury sphere and the Venus sphere form the transition into the Sun sphere. But entry into the Sun sphere would not be possible if the whole burden of the evil laid upon the soul in the Moon sphere had still to be taken in tow. The Cosmos therefore provides that when the human being leaves the Moon sphere, the evil in him stays behind; it waits until he returns and is again passing through the Moon sphere. But as the human being is one with his deeds, he leaves much of himself behind. If I have done evil on the Earth, this simply makes me an inferior being; in passing through the Moon sphere I lose part of myself, leave it behind. A man who had been an out-and-out villain, who had never once done anything good — but after all, nobody like this really exists — such a man would be left behind in his entirety in the Moon sphere. But, as I say, nobody like this exists ... human beings do make progress.
With less or more qualities or defects, the human being passes, at first, into the Mercury sphere. Here too, between death and a new birth, he undergoes particular experiences which are a preparation for his existence in the Sun sphere. In physical life on Earth, a man becomes ill in one way or another. In soul and spirit he must be completely healthy when he passes into the Sun sphere. Hence in the Mercury sphere the human being is freed from all the effects that illnesses have produced upon the soul. Therefore it is the case that true medicine can only be mastered when one is able to perceive how the dead are freed from illnesses in the Mercury sphere. This can teach us what must be done for human beings on the Earth to free them from illnesses. And so, in the times of the Mysteries and of instinctive clairvoyance, medicine was regarded as a revelation from the Mercury sphere through the Mysteries. Just think: What is a God to modern man? A God is a Being who can never be seen on the Earth. This was not so in the days of instinctive clairvoyance. Mercury had his Mysteries. As you can read in the book, Occult Science, there were Mercury Mysteries. Indeed the Arch-High-Priest of the Mercury Mysteries was Mercury himself. This was brought about through a man being born whose spirit was then released by a super-human process in order to seek embodiment in another way. The body was there, and this body was used by the God Mercury in order to come to the Earth, that is to say, to reveal himself in the Mysteries. The Gods themselves were the teachers in the ancient Mysteries. The same applies to all the Gods of Greece; they were all on the Earth in this sense. The God Mercury taught men the art of medicine of which Hippocrates, later on, still preserved a tradition.
Then the human being enters into the Venus sphere where he becomes wholly aware of his incompleteness. But in the Venus sphere all that is incomplete in him is prepared for the Sun existence in which the longest period is spent. Man lives twice through the Sun sphere, but we need now speak only of the one period. He spends the longest period in the Sun existence where, to begin with, he is in the company of those souls with whom he has some kind of karmic connection and who are now, like himself, in the spiritual world. But he is also in the company of the Beings of the higher Hierarchies: Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai, Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes, and so on. What happens here? Inasmuch as the human being is fully conscious of his incompleteness, he works together with the Beings of the higher Hierarchies at the model and prototype of his next Earth existence. During the first half of the Sun existence he works more at the prototype of his future physical corporeality, and during the second half more at the prototype of his moral nature as it will be in his next Earth existence. This work that proceeds during the Sun existence is by no means as uniform as it seems when one has to describe it, but it is infinitely richer, more splendid and more mighty than anything that a man can experience on the Earth. On the Earth, man does not experience what is actually enclosed within his skin, but what is around him. During the Sun existence it is the exact opposite, for then man experiences everything that is within the Cosmos. Just as here on Earth we say: this is my stomach, so in yonder sphere we say: out there is my Venus. And as we say here: this is my heart, over yonder, we say: this is my Sun. The Beings of the universe become our organs. We ourselves are as the universe. While man is on Earth — I refer of course to a spiritual conception of man — he is merely filled by earthly substance. This inner world of the human being is in very truth more all-embracing, more splendid than the Cosmos outside man on the Earth. On the Earth, man is not conscious of all that is concealed within his being. But it is much greater, much more majestic than anything he sees on Earth. And what thus lies concealed within him, is revealed to him during the Sun existence. Out of what is then his world, he forms and shapes his physical and moral nature for his next life on Earth. He also works at his karma. After having learnt during the first decades after death how he has to work, he proceeds to labour at his karma. The final touch, as it were, is not given until the evil he has done is encountered again during the second passage through the Moon sphere, and to the model and prototype is added the force which impels him into the karma of a new earthly life.
In order to have more precise insight into how karma is formed, we must think of the following. — Stars — what are they, in reality? Scientists speak of the stars as if they were orbs of burning gas or the like. It is by no means so! Suppose you were on the planet Venus. The Earth would then appear to you more or less as Venus appears to you now, and you would describe the Earth as you now describe Venus; you would estimate that on the Earth — which is the theatre of man's existence — there are so and so many souls. But wherever a star shines, there are souls! There are souls on the Moon: the souls of the great primeval Teachers, intermingled in a sense with the souls of the Angeloi. On Mercury there are the souls of the Archangeloi, among whom we live when we pass through the sphere of the Archangeloi. The God Mercury is an Archangelic Being. On Venus are the Archai. And upon the Sun are the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes, in whose company man forms his karma. We must see in the shining stars the outer signs of colonies of Spirits in the Cosmos. Wherever a star is seen in the heavens, there — in that direction — is a colony of Spirits.
When the human being has lived through the Sun existence, he enters into the Mars sphere, the Jupiter sphere, the Saturn sphere. He has already, in the Sun sphere, begun to work at his karma. But as well as this — in order that he shall find the load of evil that belongs to him when, later on, he goes back through the Moon sphere, and in order that karma may be prepared in such a way that it can be fulfilled on Earth — he needs to live with the Spirits indwelling Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Moreover when highly characteristic human destinies are being worked out, it is the case that the final stage of the development of karmic connections takes place in the Mars sphere, the Jupiter sphere or the Saturn sphere. Karma can, of course, be worked out when the human being comes again into the Venus sphere, and also into the Mercury sphere. Between death and a new birth man works at his karma, together with the Beings of the planetary systems. And it is exceedingly interesting to investigate this.
Today the time has come to speak more openly, with greater freedom and frankness, of many spiritual facts. The Christmas Foundation Meeting at the Goetheanum was held in order to introduce this esoteric character which should now imbue the whole Anthroposophical Society. Therefore, when I was able to speak to you on the last occasion, I began to explain all kinds of karmic connections. Let it not be thought that one is delving with clumsy fingers into the life of man when attempts are made to speak of interesting human phenomena from the point of view of their karmic connections. For thereby the world becomes for the first time transparent, full of light — not poorer but richer, more splendid in content.
I should like to speak today about an individual who was incarnated about the second century A.D. in Rome, as it then was, and who with great sensitiveness of perception had witnessed the willing martyrdom suffered by the Christians in their efforts to promulgate their cause in the Roman Empire. This individual had also witnessed the terrible injustices and the many forms of depravity and corruption which were so rife in the Roman Empire at that time. Numberless manifestations of Good and Evil were witnessed and experienced by this individual. With the methods of spiritual research which enable such happenings to be recognised, we find this individual drawn into the tumultuous happenings which at that time, during the second half of the second century A.D., were experienced in the Roman Empire in connection with the spread of Christianity. There is something extremely moving about this individual when the eye of spirit is directed upon him in the way I explained last time with reference to other individuals in their repeated earthly lives.
In this individual who lived to a very great age and who had witnessed so much Good in deeds of supreme sacrifice in the sphere of germinating Christianity, and so much that was evil and bad in Roman life at that time, there arose a kind of realisation which was also a question: Where is the balance, the mean? Is there only the wholly Good and the wholly Evil in the world?
With the consciousness of Imagination and Inspiration one can follow quite clearly how this individual was subsequently reborn in the eleventh century, as a woman. The experiences undergone in the life as a woman levelled out the hard, steel-like angularity of soul which had developed during the Roman incarnation when he had reached a great age. This trait was softened and mellowed and became a faculty of inner, thoughtful contemplation of Good and Evil. This individual then came again to the Earth in the eighteenth century and was born as the German poet, Friedrich Schiller.
And now study Schiller's life and see how it develops, striving to find a middle condition, a balance, a mean. Schiller needed Goethe before he could get rid of all that had remained in him from the conviction that there is only Good, there is only Evil. Read Schiller's dramas, and you will understand them if you think of his earlier incarnation.
What circumstances lie behind Schiller's life and outlook? The experiences he had undergone in the Roman incarnation continued to be alive within him, but he had subsequently incarnated as a woman in the Middle Ages. And then, in his life between death and a new birth, it was in the Saturn sphere that the most significant development of his karma took place.
Initiation-knowledge, of the degree that can be attained only in advanced age, is necessary in order to understand the essential nature of the Saturn sphere. The question may be asked: How is it possible to acquire knowledge of life on the stars and the like? I have told you that when the human being reaches Imaginative consciousness, he beholds his whole life in a great tableau. But he also beholds it divided into epochs. When Inspiration is attained, and the emptied consciousness wipes out this tableau, something shines out of every such epoch. Instead of beholding his own life between birth and the seventh year, a man beholds, at this place in the life-tableau, the happenings of the Moon existence — he can look into these happenings. In the tableau of the second epoch which lies between the change of teeth and puberty, the Mercury existence shines through all the happenings. The events of the school period, seen as they are backwards in this tableau, lead into the Mercury existence. How aptly and truly were the functions assigned to the several planets in the days of instinctive wisdom on the Earth! Statistics reveal that the human being is most healthy, not in the years between birth and the change of teeth, nor after puberty, but during the school period as it is called (between the ages of seven and fourteen), because that is the time when Mercury works most strongly into the human being in his Earth existence. In the tableau arising from the epoch stretching between puberty and about the twenty-first or twenty-second years, the processes and Beings belonging to Venus are seen. Again it was genius that ascribed to Venus the initial stages of the sex life. The Sun existence shines through the epoch lying between the ages of twenty-one and forty-two, the Mars existence through the epoch lying between the years forty-two and forty-nine; the Jupiter existence through the epoch from forty-nine to fifty-six; and the Saturn existence through the epoch from fifty-six to sixty-three. Truth to tell, even an Initiate cannot see the circumstances of life between death and a new birth in which Saturn plays a part, until he has passed the sixty-third year of his life. Before then it is possible to learn about this existence in many different ways; but in actual vision it is possible to behold these happenings and their connections only when one has passed the sixty-third year of life. So you will realise why it is that I am only now speaking of matters connected with the Saturn existence.
As I said, Schiller developed his karma above all in the sphere of Saturn. To behold this Saturn existence in the way I have indicated, causes great amazement, because it is so different from anything one can experience on the Earth. In the consciousness of the Beings on Saturn there is only Past; there is no Present at all. But the Past is revealed in great majesty. Let me try to make a comparison with something that might happen on the Earth — it does not happen, but hypothetically it is possible. Imagine that you have no idea what you look like, you know only that you exist. You act, you do something — you do not see this at the time, you see it only when it has become the Past. You walk: you do not see your own steps or the movements you make; but immediately afterwards these movements change into a snowman — and you draw the whole movement after you when you look round and see what you have been doing! Such is the life of these strange Spirits upon Saturn. They are never aware of what they do out of an immediate resolve of the Present, but they perceive it only when it has become the Past. This is a difficult conception for the ordinary consciousness, but it is so nevertheless. Individualities like that of Schiller, who are also forming their karma, live in similar conditions of existence. Such individuals develop a wonderful vision of the Past. And so the soul of Schiller, before he was born in the year 1790, lived in the spiritual world with a majestic vision in retrospect of all the Past that was connected with his own karma. And then, on the Earth, this changed into the reaction: the vision of the Past is now transformed into enthusiasm for ideals of the Future. Schiller's ideals of the Future arose from his activity in connection with his karma during his Saturn existence.
And now let us take another life. During an incarnation in Greece, a certain individual had had a great deal to do with Greek plastic art and also with the Platonic philosophy. As a young man he was filled with enthusiasm for plastic art which he was able to view with the eye of spirit, and his colossal artistic powers were able to translate into art what he perceived spiritually. After other incarnations had been lived through, we find this individuality developing his karma in the Jupiter sphere. The Jupiter Beings differ from the Saturn Beings. The Jupiter Beings are unlike the men of Earth. When a man of Earth wants to grow wise, he must undergo inner development, he must struggle, battle inwardly and overcome; through periods that are filled with active development the human being on Earth struggles to acquire an unpretentious form of wisdom. Not so the Jupiter Beings. They are not ‘born’ as earthly beings are born, they form themselves out of the Cosmos. Just as you can see a cloud taking shape, so do the Jupiter Beings form themselves in the etheric and astral worlds, out of the Cosmos. Neither do they die. They interpenetrate one another, do not, as it were compete with each other for space. These Beings are, so to speak, wisdom that has become real and actual. Wisdom is innate in them; they cannot be other than wise. Just as we have circulating blood, so have the Jupiter Beings wisdom. It is their very nature. Among them too, karma can be shaped. The individuality of whom we are speaking, who lived through one of his most important earthly lives in ancient Greece, passed through the Jupiter sphere, came into contact with the wisdom of the Jupiter sphere where his karma was shaped, and was born again in the eighteenth century as Goethe. Such is the origin of the wonderful combination of Greek culture and wisdom that is present in Goethe.
When history is studied in this way, when we try to glean from the Mysteries and from secrets of the Cosmos what is happening on the Earth, I do not think that the Earth's history loses significance thereby. Prosaic professors may always be insisting that it is much more to the point to depict Goethe as the man he actually was in life, than to waft him away into a higher sphere! In richer epochs of evolution, when instinctive clairvoyance still survived, men spoke, openly as well, of how life in the heavens is revealed through human acts and human existence. In this respect we must get away from that abstract mentality which makes us think we are mere worms looking upwards from the Earth, believing only what the astronomers and astro-physicists have to say about the stars. In our civilisation and culture, with all their heavy trials, it is urgently necessary to understand the battle that is being waged between men who strive for the Spirit in order to comprehend spiritual law in the Cosmos, and men who have no desire for such knowledge, who limit themselves to the Earth, not only in the sphere of natural science but also in what is called ‘cultural’ or ‘spiritual’ history at the universities where documents alone are studied — for documents too are records only of happenings in the physical, material world. A decision will most certainly have to be taken in the course of Earth-evolution. Either degeneration of the spiritual life will intensify, and an illness of which I have been speaking for years — even in public lectures — will become more and more widespread. Very little is said about it as yet in medical literature, but it will none the less exist in life — its name is Dementia professoralia (Academic dementia) — or the human being will have to unfold enthusiasm for knowledge of the Supersensible. And this will also lead him to realisation of the connection between the Cosmos and the life of man.
I want to give you a third and rather more complex example. In an earlier life on Earth, a certain individuality was incarnated in India, when India was already in decline, and in that incarnation assimilated much knowledge of a kind accessible to one with extremely poor physical sight. Such details must be studied, for, as I have often said, it is details which lead to perception of the real connections. This individuality lived through various other incarnations which were, however, less important than the characteristics developed in him in India, where his extremely poor sight allowed him to see the lotus flowers and all the blossoms only with blurred outlines. His whole vision was clouded, lacking in clarity. His knowledge of life was of the kind that is inevitable when sight is blurred and the deeper qualities of things unprobed. The karma of this individuality was developed in a complicated way. He unfolded in the Mars sphere, to begin with, qualities that made him into a regular squabbler in the spiritual world! He also worked a great deal at his karma in the Mercury sphere, developing qualities of wit, of satire. And, in the background of all this, picture to yourselves a non-European world. The individual in question tends to be reborn in Europe. He passes through the Mars sphere — battle; through the Mercury sphere — critical, subtle thinking and perception. Having developed still other characteristic qualities in the Venus sphere — it is a particularly complex karma — and with the tendency to evade the physical, while at the same time strongly permeated with spirituality, this individual in the nineteenth century becomes Heinrich Heine.
Just try to realise the understanding that arises of every verse written by Heine, of the very language, words and form, when we know: this is, in reality, a product of the Mars sphere, the Venus sphere, the Mercury sphere. All of it really originates in the Cosmos. Karma is formed and fashioned in the Cosmos; it is lived out upon Earth.
And so, looking backwards upon the life-tableau of man, we perceive the Moon sphere, the Mercury sphere; from the 21st to the 42nd years the Sun sphere, then the Mars sphere, the Jupiter sphere, the Saturn sphere. (I cannot now go into the still later periods; there too one sees something, but I cannot enter into it now). We see that all these spheres have something to do with karma. Ordinary consciousness does not know that man has within him the workings of the Mercury sphere, Moon sphere, and so on. Yet karma is brought into being by what is thus within man; he is impelled by these forces to live out his karma in his own particular way. Heinrich Heine unfolded and developed his karma in the Venus sphere, the Mercury sphere, the Mars sphere; and it is these same beings of the Venus sphere, Mercury sphere, Mars sphere which work through his earthly bodily nature in order to help him to fulfil his karma. And so, by virtue of his karma, the whole being of man stands within the Cosmos, gives expression to the Cosmos here on Earth — in one case in this way, in another in that.
These things must be studied with a free and wide outlook. When I say to you that Goethe, in the Jupiter sphere, transformed what he had absorbed in ancient Greece into deep, instinctive wisdom, which comes out in all his creations because living beings are at work — this will have a different result in another case. At the time when the culture of ancient Mexico had fallen deeply into decline, though the echoes of the Mysteries and their cults still persisted, there lived a certain individual. He came into close contact with the magic arts, the decadent manifestations of the Mystery epoch in ancient Mexico, and he understood the sense in which such beings as Quetzalkoatl, Tetzkatlipoca, Taotl, had been living realities. Orthodox books on cultural history as a rule mention hardly anything more than the names of these Beings. Nevertheless there was a time when men had living conceptions of all these Gods, of Quetzalkoatl, Tetzkatlipoca, Taotl; they had actual connection with super-sensible Beings. These matters were understood by the individual to whom I am referring; and comparatively quickly, without an intermediate incarnation, he was born again in the nineteenth century as the occultist Eliphas Lévi, having passed through the Jupiter sphere in his life between death and a new birth. In ancient Mexico he had been connected with such things as sorcery, magic arts, and the like, and had absorbed an outworn, decadent kind of knowledge. A peculiar, primitive form of wisdom — an inferior wisdom — was in this case transformed in the Jupiter sphere into the kind of content we find in the books of Eliphas Lévi. Whereas the Jupiter sphere produced in Goethe, as the fruit of the earlier incarnation, a mellow, Olympic fire, and great wisdom, Eliphas Lévi dabbles with a kind of charlatanism in all sorts of magical formulae and the like.
The earthly life is, of course, the decisive factor in what the stars are able to make of our karma. But the stars, that is to say the Beings who live where the stars indicate their existence, the stars transform into karma those things which, here on Earth, become elements in the constitution of karma.
It is in this way that we shall try more and more to deepen Anthroposophy. And if a great deal seems paradoxical and strange — as it certainly will — we must not mind it. In the paradoxical and the strange lies the truth. Man's life is based upon foundations that are deeper and more complex than is usually believed. In order to understand it, our thoughts must not be fettered to the Earth but take wings out into the expanses of the Cosmos. On the Earth man gazes at matter and too easily forgets the Spirit. The opposite is the case as soon as only a little Imaginative knowledge leads us to the realms of the heavens. There quite certainly we forget matter and begin gradually to behold the Spirits, as did the simple Shepherds in an ancient, primitive time, and as was the case on into the Middle Ages when, instead of inscribing external signs on maps of the heavens, men drew figures and forms, because they actually beheld these figures in Imaginative knowledge.
Anthroposophy deepens our inner perceptions too, as I have repeatedly said. Just think of it! If we make the attempt with the kind of knowledge I have described, we begin to gaze upon the destiny of a single human being with holy awe. For what is it that works in the destiny of each human being? In very truth it is star-wisdom — all-embracing star-wisdom! Nothing can enable us to behold the working of the Gods in the universe with deeper or truer feelings than to behold it in the destiny of a man. A world-justice flows through Eternity in the existence, the deeds, the thinking, of the Gods weaving behind the being of man.
That is what I wanted to say to you today concerning karma.