Manifestations of Karma

Rudolf Steiner

Lecture 8


IF we wish to resolve the contradiction which was placed before us at the end of yesterday's lecture, we must today once more look back upon the two forces, the two principles, which in the course of time have appeared to us to stimulate and also at the same time to regulate our karma.

We have seen that our karma is brought into action only through the influences which the luciferic powers bring to bear upon our astral body, and that through the temptations of these powers we are led into expressions of feelings, impulses and passions, which in a certain way make us less perfect than we should otherwise be. Whilst acting upon us, the luciferic influences call forth the ahrimanic influences whose forces do not act from within, but from without, working upon and in us by means of all that confronts us externally. Thus it is Ahriman who is evoked by Lucifer, and we human beings are vitally involved in the conflict of these two principles. When we find ourselves caught in the clutches of either Lucifer or Ahriman, we must endeavour to progress by triumphing over the ill that has been inflicted upon us.

This interplay of activity of the luciferic and ahrimanic powers around us can be understood quite clearly if we consider from a somewhat different aspect the case we alluded to in the last lecture — the case where the person succumbs to ahrimanic influence, whereby he experiences all kinds of deceptive images and illusions. He believes that knowledge of one thing or another has been specially imparted to him, or is in one way or another making an impression upon him, while another person who had preserved a sound power of judgement would easily recognise that the person in question has succumbed to errors and delusions.

Last time we spoke of those cases of clairvoyant delusions regarding the spiritual world, clairvoyance in the invidious sense, and we have also seen that there is no other, or at least no more favourable defence against the delusions of false clairvoyants than a sound power of judgement acquired during our physical life between birth and death.

What has been said in our last lecture is of great significance and of fundamental importance if we are dealing with clairvoyant aberrations, for in the case of clairvoyance not attained through regular training, through systematic exercises under strict and proper direction, but showing itself through old inherited characteristics, in images, or else in hearing of sounds — in the case of such false clairvoyance we shall always find that it diminishes, or even ceases altogether if the person in question finds the opportunity and has the inclination seriously to take up anthroposophical studies, or to take up a training that is rational and normal. So we can say that a person who has a wrong perception of the supersensible always finds that the true sources of knowledge, if he is susceptible to them, will invariably prove helpful to him and lead him back to the right path.

On the other hand, we all know that if someone through the complexities of karma has arrived at a condition in which he develops symptoms of persecution mania, or megalomania, he will develop a whole system of delusive ideas, all of which he can substantiate most logically but which are nevertheless delusive. It may happen for instance that he thinks quite correctly and logically in every other department of life, but has the fixed idea that he is being pursued everywhere for some reason or another. He will be able, wherever he may be, to form the cleverest combinations out of the most trivial happenings: ‘Here again is that clique whose one and only aim it is to inflict this or that upon me.’ And in the cleverest way he will prove to you how well founded is his suspicion.

Thus a person may be perfectly logical and yet give expression to certain symptoms of madness. It will be quite impossible to impress such a person by logical reasoning. On the contrary, if we make use of logical reasoning in such a case it may well happen that this will challenge the delusive ideas and the victim will try and find even more conclusive proof of the assertion resulting from his persecution mania. When we speak in the terms of Spiritual Science things must be taken literally. If a little while ago, and also the last time, we pointed to the fact that in the knowledge of Spiritual Science we possess an opposing force against any aberration of clairvoyant powers, we were then referring to something entirely different from what we are now discussing. We are not now concerned with influencing the person in question by means of revelations of Spiritual Science. Such a person is not amenable to any reasoning derived from the realm of ordinary common sense. Why should this be so?

In a illness whose symptoms are such as we have described, we have to deal with a karmic cause in previous incarnations. The errors which come from the inner being do not in every case proceed from the present incarnation but from a preceding one. Let us now try to get an idea of how something may be carried from an earlier into the present incarnation.

For this purpose we must envisage the course of our soul evolution. Externally, we consist of physical body, etheric body and astral body. In the course of time, into these sheaths we have built by means of our Ego the sentient soul into the sentient body, the rational or mind soul into etheric body, and a consciousness soul into the physical body. These three soul members we have developed and have built into the three sheaths where they now dwell. Let us suppose that in some incarnation we were so tempted by Lucifer, or in other words, we developed such egotistical impulses, greed, and other instincts that our soul was laden with transgressions. These transgressions may be in the sentient soul, the rational or mind soul, or in the consciousness soul. This then is the cause which in some future incarnation will be implanted in one of the three soul members. Let us suppose that there was a fault attributable especially to the forces of the rational soul. In the state between death and rebirth this will be so metamorphosed that it will be manifested in the etheric body. Thus in the new incarnation we encounter in the etheric body an effect that may be traced back to a cause in the rational soul of a preceding incarnation. But the rational soul of the next incarnation will again work independently in that incarnation, and it makes a difference whether this human being has previously committed this fault or not. If he has committed it in an earlier incarnation, he now carries his fault in his etheric body. It is now more deeply rooted and is not in the rational soul but in the etheric body. But such rationality and good sense as we may acquire upon the physical plane will affect only our rational soul, and will not affect the activity of our rational soul in an earlier incarnation which has already been woven into the etheric body. For this reason it may happen that the forces of the rational soul, as we now encounter them in human beings, are doing their work logically, so that the real inner being is altogether intact; but that the co-operation of the rational soul with the diseased part of the etheric body provokes error in a certain direction. We can affect the rational soul with reasons which can be brought forward upon the physical plane, but we cannot directly affect the etheric body. That is why neither logic nor persuasion will have any effect. Logic would be of little use were we to place someone in front of a convex mirror so that he could see his distorted image, and then try to convince him that he is mistaken in thus seeing the image. He will nevertheless see a distorted image. In the same way does it depend upon the man himself if he morbidly misunderstands a thing, for his logic may be sound in itself but is reflected in a deformed manner by his etheric body.

Thus we can carry within our deep organism the karmic effects of an earlier incarnation, and we can actually demonstrate that the defect is present in a certain part of the organism, as in our etheric body for instance. We see here how under the luciferic influence we have contracted an evil in a previous incarnation, and how between death and a new birth it has been transformed. In the interim between death and a rebirth is accomplished the transformation of something internal into something external, and then Ahriman works against us through our own etheric body. This shows how Ahriman is drawn by Lucifer to approach our etheric body. Previously the transgression was luciferic; it has been so transformed that, as it were, a receipt for it is given us by Ahriman in the next incarnation, and then it is a question of expelling the defect from one's etheric body. This can be done only by a deeper intervention in our organism than can be achieved in one incarnation by the ordinary means of external reason.

He who in a certain incarnation passes through such an experience as that of persecution mania will, when again passing through the gate of death, be confronted by all the actions that he has performed in consequence of this ahrimanic defect, and he will see the absurdity of what he has done. From this will spring the new force which will completely heal him for his next incarnation; for he can be healed only by realising henceforth that the way he acted under the influence of the symptoms in question was absurd in the external world. We now realise how we can assist such healing. If someone suffers from such mad ideas we shall not succeed in healing him by means of logical reasoning, for such reasoning will only call forth even more violent opposition. But we shall achieve some result, especially when such a disposition appears in early youth, if we bring the sufferer into such a situation where the consequences of these symptoms prove themselves to be obviously absurd. If we make him face facts called forth by himself, and which react upon him in a crassly absurd manner, we can heal him in a certain way.

We can also have a healing influence if we ourselves are so far in possession of the truths of Spiritual Science, that they have become the inner possession of our soul. If they have become such an integral part of us, then the whole of our personality will be radiating these truths of Spiritual Science. With these truths that stream into life between birth and death, filling it and yet projecting this life itself; with these revelations of the supersensible world we can achieve more than with external rational truths. When nothing can be achieved by external logical reasoning we shall, if we patiently apply the truths of Spiritual Science, be able to bring impulses to bear upon the person in question, so that we can achieve in the one incarnation what could otherwise take place only by the circuitous passage from one incarnation to another, namely, through penetration of the etheric body by the rational soul.

For the truths of the physical plane cannot bridge the chasm between the sentient soul and the astral body, between the rational and the etheric body, or even between the consciousness soul and the physical body. That is why we shall always find that however much wisdom concerning the material world one may absorb upon the physical plane, this wisdom will have but little relationship to the world of his feeling — what we might term a permeation of his astral body by the corresponding impulses and passions. One may be most learned, may have much theoretical knowledge of things belonging to the physical world, may have become an ‘old professor,’ and yet may not have attained within to a transformation of the impulses, feelings and passions that dwell within the astral body.

One may indeed know a great deal about the physical world and yet be a gross egotist, because such impulses have been absorbed in youth. Naturally the two things can go hand in hand, external material science and cultivation of the astral and etheric bodies from within. In the same way one can possess truths and amass such knowledge as may become forces for the rational soul in regard to the physical plane, and yet be incapable of bridging the deep chasm existing between the rational soul and the etheric body. In external truths, though one may be learning an enormous amount it will seldom be found that what has been learnt will have any power over the formative forces of the body.

In the case of a person who is affected by these truths to such an extent that they get hold upon his entire being, we may find that in the course of ten years the whole of his physiognomy will have changed, so that upon it we can read the conflict he has experienced. We may also notice in his gestures if, for instance, with self-restraint he has become tranquil. These things will find their way into the formative forces of the organism, and even the most delicate and subtle parts of the organism will be stirred thereby. If what is grasped by our mind is not exclusively concerned with the physical plane we still shall become different after ten years, but the change will then have kept to the normal course in the same way as dispositions develop and change in a normal way in ordinary life.

In the course of ten years we may possibly develop a different facial expression, but unless we have bridged the chasm from within, this change will have been produced by external influences. In this case we are not transformed by a force taking possession of us from within. It is therefore obvious that only the truly spiritual which really unites itself with our innermost being is able to have a transforming effect upon our formative forces during the period between birth and death, and that this transition, this bridging of the chasm will assuredly take place in the karmic activity between death and re-birth. If, for instance, those worlds through which we pass in the interim between death and a new birth are impregnated with the experiences of the sentient soul, then they will appear in the next incarnation as formative, shaping forces.

In this way the reciprocal activity of Ahriman and Lucifer has become intelligible. And now we ask how this combined reciprocal activity presents itself when things are even more distant, when, for instance, the luciferic influence has not merely to cross the abyss between the rational soul and the etheric body, but has, as it were, a longer way to go.

Let us suppose that in one life we are particularly susceptible to the influence of Lucifer. In such a case, we should with the whole of our inner being become considerably less perfect than we were before, and in the kamaloca period we should have this most vividly before our eyes, so that we should resolve to make a tremendous effort in order to balance this imperfection. This desire we incorporate as tendency, and in the next incarnation, with what have now become formative forces, we shape our new organism so that it must have a tendency towards balancing our earlier experiences. But let us suppose that the release of these luciferic influences had been instigated by something external, by an external greed, there must have been the influence of Lucifer. Anything external could not have affected us had not Lucifer been active within us. Thus we have within us a tendency to compensate for that which we have become through the luciferic influence.

But as we have seen, the luciferic influence of one incarnation challenges and attracts to itself the ahrimanic influence in the next incarnation, so that the two act in alternation. We have seen the luciferic influence to be such that we can perceive it with our consciousness; that is to say, however, that our consciousness can still just reach down into our astral body. We have said that it is due to the luciferic influence when we are conscious of pain, but we cannot descend to those realms that may be termed the consciousness of the etheric and physical bodies.

Even in dreamless sleep we have a consciousness, but one of so low a degree that we are not aware of it. But this does not necessarily mean that we are inactive in this consciousness which is possessed normally for instance by plants, consisting as they do only of physical and etheric bodies. Plants live continually in the consciousness of dreamless sleep. The consciousness of our etheric and physical body is present also in our waking condition in the daytime, but we cannot descend to it. That this consciousness may be active, however, is shown when we perform in our sleep somnambulistic actions of which we later know nothing. It is this dreamless sleep consciousness that is active. The ordinary consciousness and the astral consciousness cannot penetrate to the sphere of somnambulistic action.

But because in the daytime we are living in our Ego-consciousness and astral consciousness, we must not believe that the other kinds of consciousness are absent. It is only that we are not aware of them. Let us suppose that through the luciferic influence of an earlier incarnation we have provoked a strong ahrimanic influence which will be unable to act upon our ordinary consciousness. It will, however, attack the consciousness which dwells within our etheric body, and this consciousness will not only conduce to a certain organisation of our etheric body but will impel us even to acts which will be so expressed, that the consciousness of the etheric body will realise that we must discard from within us the effects of the luciferic influence to which we had succumbed in an earlier incarnation; it will realise further that this can be accomplished only through a deed in direct contradiction to the earlier luciferic transgression.

Let us suppose that dominated by the luciferic influence, we have been led to supplant a point of view which was religious or spiritual by the point of view of the man who says: ‘I want to enjoy life,’ and thus plunges headlong into gross material pleasures. This would challenge the ahrimanic influence in such a way as to provoke the opposite process. It then happens that passing through life we seek a spot where it is possible at one leap to return to spirituality from a life of the senses. In the one, we went with one plunge into gross material pleasures, and in the other we try by one leap to return to a spiritual life.

Our ordinary consciousness is not aware of this, but the mysterious subconscious which is chained to the physical body and the etheric body now urges us towards a place where we may await a thunderstorm, where there is an oak, a bench placed beneath, and where the lightning will strike. In this case the subconscious mind has urged us to make good what we have done in an earlier incarnation. Here we see the opposite process. This is what is meant by an effect of luciferic influence in an earlier life, and, as a consequence, an ahrimanic influence in the present life. Ahriman's co-operation is necessary to enable us to put aside our ordinary consciousness to such an extent that our whole being will obey exclusively the consciousness of the etheric or of the physical body.

In this way many events become comprehensible. However, we must beware of concluding that every accident should be traced to something similar, for this would be taking a very narrow view of karma. There are currents of thought even in our movement that take a really narrow view of karma. Were karma really as they conceive it, the whole world order would have to be specially arranged in the interests of each single human being, so that each life should run harmoniously and be duly compensated — the conditions of one life would be always combined in such a way as to result in an exact balancing of the consequences of an earlier life. This standpoint cannot however be maintained. Suppose someone were to say to a man who had met with an accident: ‘This is your karma; this is the karmic result of your earlier life, and you at that time brought it on yourself.’ Were the same man to have some stroke of luck, then the other would say: ‘This can be traced back to a good deed you did in an earlier life.’ If such words are to have any value, the person should have known what happened in an earlier life which is supposed to have produced this result. If he had knowledge of the earlier life, he would there see the causes coming from that life, and he would have to look towards later incarnations for the effects.

From this it is logical to conclude that in every incarnation there are certain prime causes which come into play from incarnation to incarnation, and these will be karmically balanced in the next life. When examining the next life we can observe the causes. If an accident happens, however, for which in spite of all means at our disposal we can find no causes in an earlier life, then we must conclude that this will be balanced in a later life. Karma is not fate. From every life something is carried into later lives.

If we understand this, we shall also understand that we may find new events in our life which are of profound significance. Let us remember that the great events in the course of human evolution could not come about without being carried by certain people. At a certain moment people must take over the intentions of evolution. What would the development of the Middle Ages have been, had not Charlemagne intervened at a given moment! How could the spiritual life of antiquity have developed if Aristotle had not at a certain time done his work! We see from this that people like Charlemagne, Aristotle, Luther and so on, did not live at a certain period for their own sakes but for the sake of the world. Nevertheless, their personal fates are intimately connected with world events. Should we conclude from this, however, that what they accomplished is the expiation or the recompense for their previous merits or transgressions?

Take the case of Luther. We cannot just simply ascribe everything he experienced and endured to his karma; we must be clear that those things which are due to happen in the course of human evolution must come about through human agency and that these individual agents have to be brought out of the spiritual world, without consideration whether they are fully ready in themselves. They are born for the purposes of human evolution, and a karmic path has to be interrupted or lengthened, so that the individuality concerned may appear at a certain time. In such cases a destiny is thrust upon people which need have no relation to their past karma. But to have achieved something between birth and death sets up on earth later karmic causes, so that though it is true that a Luther was born for humanity and had to bear a fate which had no vital association with his former karma, yet what he accomplished on earth will be connected with his later karma.

Karma is a universal law, and each experiences it for himself; but we must not only look back to our former incarnations; we must also look forward. From this point of view it is only in a subsequent life that we can judge and justify earlier incarnations, for some of the events of this life do not lie in the karmic path.

Let us take a case which actually happened. In a natural catastrophe a number of people perished. It is not at all necessary to believe that it was in their karma that they all should thus perish together; this would be a facile supposition. Everything need not always be thus traced back to earlier transgressions. There is an instance that has been investigated of a number of people perishing in a natural catastrophe which resulted in a close alliance of these people at a later period, and, owing to their common fate, they gained the strength to undertake something in common. Through this catastrophe they were able to turn from materialism and brought with them in their next incarnation a disposition to spirituality.

What happened in that case? If we go back to the previous life we find that in this instance the common destruction took place during an earthquake; at the moment of the earthquake the futility of materialism presented itself to their souls, and so a mind directed towards the spiritual developed within them. We can see from this how people whose mission it was to bring something spiritual into the world were prepared for it in this way, which demonstrates the wisdom of evolution. This case has been investigated and authenticated by Spiritual Science. So we can show how primary events can enter human life, and that it cannot always be traced back to an earlier transgression if one person or several people meet with an early death in a catastrophe or an accident. Such an event may appear as a primary cause, and will be balanced in the next life.

Other cases may occur. It may happen that someone will have to meet with an early death in two or three consecutive incarnations. This may occur because this individuality has been chosen to bring to mankind - in the course of three incarnations - certain gifts that can be given only when living in the material world with such forces as result from a ‘growing body’. To be living in a body that has developed up to the thirty-fifth year is quite different from living in a body of greater age. For up to our thirty-fifth year we direct our forces towards the body, so that the forces unfold from within. But from the thirty-fifth year onward begins a life in which we progress only inwardly — a life in which we must continually attack the external forces with our life forces. From the point of view of the inner organisation, these two halves of life differ in every respect the one from the other.

Let us suppose that according to the wisdom which presides over human evolution we stand in need of such people who can flourish only when they do not have to fight against external stress which comes in the second half of life, then it may be that the incarnations are brought to a premature close. There are such cases. At our meetings we have already pointed out an individuality who appeared successively as a great prophet, a great painter, and a great poet and whose life was always brought to an end through premature death, because what had to be accomplished by him in the course of these three incarnations was possible only by interruption of the incarnation before he had entered the second half of life. Here we see the strange interlacing of individual human karma and the general karma of mankind.

We can go still further and find certain karmic causes in the general karma of mankind, whose effects show only at a later period. Thus the individual again sees himself caught up into the general karma of humanity.

If we consider the post-Atlantean evolution, we find the Graeco-Latin period in the middle, preceded by the Egyptian-Chaldean period, and followed by our period — the fifth period of civilisation. Our period will be followed by a sixth and seventh cultural epoch. I have also pointed out on other occasions that in a certain respect there are cycles in succession of the various civilisations, so that the Graeco-Latin culture stands by itself, but that the Egyptian-Chaldean period is repeated in our own. Also in this course, I have already pointed out that Kepler lived in our period, and that the same individuality lived earlier in an Egyptian body, and was in that incarnation under the influence of the wise Egyptian priests who directed his gaze to the celestial vault, so that the mysteries of the stars were revealed to him from above. All this was brought further in his Kepler-incarnation which took place in the fifth period, and which, in a certain way, is a repetition of the third.

But we can go still further. From the standpoint of Spiritual Science we can truly assert that most people today are blind when they consider world evolution and human life. These similarities, these repetitions, these cyclic lives can be followed even in their details. If we take a certain moment in human evolution, say for instance the year 747 B.C. we shall find that it constitutes a sort of ‘Hypomochlion,’ a kind of zero-point, and that what lies before and after this point corresponds in quite a definite way.

We may go back to an epoch of the Egyptian evolution, and there we find certain ritualistic ordinances and commands which appeared as given by the gods. And they actually were. These ordinances related to certain ablutions which the Egyptians had to perform by day. They were regulated by custom and by certain ritualistic prescriptions, and the Egyptians believed that they could only live in the manner desired by the gods if on this or that day they were to undertake a certain number of ablutions. This was a command of the gods, that found expression in a certain cult of cleanliness, and if in the interim we encounter a period somewhat less clean, we now again, in our own period, encounter hygienic measures such as are given to humanity for materialistic reasons.

Here we see a repetition of what was lost at a corresponding period in Egypt. The fulfillment of what happened earlier is represented in the general karma in a most remarkable manner. Only the general character is always different. Kepler in his Egyptian incarnation had directed his gaze up to the starry sky, and what that individuality there perceived was expressed in the great spiritual truths of Egyptian astrology. In his reincarnation during that period of materialistic aims, the same individuality expressed these facts in a manner corresponding with our period, in his three materialistically coloured ‘Kepler laws.’ In ancient Egypt the laws of cleanliness were laws of Divine revelation. The Egyptian believed that he was fulfilling his duty to humanity by caring for his particular cleanliness at every opportunity. This preoccupation for cleanliness comes to the fore again today, but under the influence of a mentality which is entirely materialistic. Modern man does not think that he is serving the gods when he is obeying such rules, but that he is serving himself. It is nevertheless a reappearance of what went before.

Thus all things are in a certain way cyclically fulfilled. And now we begin to understand that the matters that we summarised last time in a contradiction, are not as simple as one is inclined to suppose. If at a certain period people were not able to conceive certain measures against epidemics, these were times at which men could not do so because, according to the general wise world plan, the epidemics had to take effect in order to give human souls an opportunity of balancing what had been effected through the ahrimanic influence and certain earlier luciferic influences. If other conditions are now being brought about, these too are subject to certain great karmic laws. So we see that these matters cannot be regarded superficially.

How does this agree with our statement that if someone seeks an opportunity of being infected in an epidemic, this is the result of the necessary reaction against an earlier karmic cause. Have we the right now to take hygienic or other measures?

This is a profound question, and we must begin by collecting the necessary material for replying to it. We must understand that when the luciferic and ahrimanic principles are co-operating, whether concurrently or over longer periods, or when they are working against each other, certain complications are manifested in human life. These complications appear under forms so diverse that we never see two identical cases. If we study human life, however, we shall find our way in the following manner: if in a particular case we try to discover the combined activity of Lucifer and Ahriman, we shall always find a thread by which this connection will become clear. We must discriminate clearly between internal and external man. Even today we had to differentiate sharply between that which is expressed by the rational soul, and that which appears within the etheric body as a result of the rational soul. We must examine the continuity in which karma is accomplished, and we must at the same time understand that we have still the possibility of influencing our inner being by means of certain karmic influences, so that in future a new karmic compensation may be prepared by the inner being.

For this reason, it is possible for a being in an earlier life to have experienced sensations, feelings and so forth that have developed in him a want of love towards his fellow-creatures. Let us suppose, for instance, that he had passed through an experience whereby through karmic action he had become uncharitable. It may well happen that we, following for a time a downward grade, beget evil. We at first descend in order to develop the contrary impetus that will cause us to re-ascend. Let us suppose that a being, by yielding to certain influences, tends towards uncharitableness. This uncharitableness will in a later life appear as karmic result, and will develop inner forces in his organism. We can then act in two ways — consciously, or else unconsciously. In our epoch we have not progressed so far as to do it consciously. With such a person we can take precautions by which these characteristics in his organism, derived from uncharitableness, will be driven out and we may act in such a way that the effect that is expressed in the external organism as a lack of charity will be counteracted. By these means, however, the soul will not be cleansed of all uncharitableness, but only the external organ of uncharitableness will have been expelled.

For if we do nothing further, we shall have accomplished only half of our task, perhaps even nothing at all. We may perhaps have helped this person physically, externally, but we shall not have given succour to his soul. Now that the physical expression of uncharitableness has been removed he will not be able to give expression to this uncharitableness, but he will have to retain it within his inner organism until a future incarnation. Let us suppose that a great number of people, because of uncharitableness, had been impelled to absorb certain infectious germs, so that they succumbed to an epidemic. Let us further suppose we were in a position to protect them from this epidemic. We should in such a case preserve the physical body from the effects of uncharitableness, but we should not have removed the inner tendency towards uncharitableness. The case might be such that, in removing the external expression of uncharitableness, we should undertake the duty of influencing the soul also in such a way as to remove from it the tendency towards a lack of charity. The organic expression of uncharitableness is killed in the most complete sense, in the external bodily sense, by vaccination against smallpox. There, for instance, the following becomes manifest, and has been investigated by Spiritual Science. In one period of civilisation, when there prevailed a general tendency to develop a higher degree of egotism, and uncharitableness, smallpox made its appearance. Such is the fact. In anthroposophy it is our bounden duty to give expression to the truth.

Now it will be clear why in our period the protection of vaccination appeared. We also understand why, among the best minds of our period, there exists a kind of aversion to vaccination. This aversion corresponds to something within, and is the external expression of an inner reality. So if on the one hand we destroy the physical expression of a previous fault, we should, on the other hand, undertake the duty of transforming the materialistic character of such a person by means of a corresponding spiritual education. This would constitute the indispensable counterpart without which we are performing only half our task. We are merely accomplishing something to which the person in question will himself have to produce a counterpart in a later incarnation.

If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox, we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity. If on the one side we go in for hygiene, it is necessary that on the other we should feel it our duty to contribute to the person whose organism has been so transformed, something also for the good of his soul. Vaccination will not be harmful if, subsequent to vaccination, the person receives a spiritual education. If we concentrate upon one side only and lay no emphasis upon the other, we weigh down the balance unevenly. This is really what is felt in those circles which maintain that where hygienic measures go too far, only weak natures will be propagated. This of course is not justifiable, but we see how essential it is that we should not undertake one task without the other.

Here we approach an important law of human evolution which acts so that the external and the internal must always be counter-balanced, and that it is not permissible to act with regard to the one only, leaving the other out of consideration. We here get a glimpse of an important relationship, and yet we have not even arrived at the significance of the question: ‘What is the relationship between hygiene and karma?’ As we shall see, the answer to this question will lead us still further into the depths of karma, and we shall further see that there exist karmic relationships between man's birth and death. In addition, other personalities influence a human life, and thus man's free will and karma are in harmony.

For previous lectures, see Back Issues. Continued in the next issue of SCR