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Reincarnation and Karma in the Face of Modernity

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                                                  - answers for the 21st Century


The majority of people in North American adopt the pretense that there aren’t any angels, nor karma and reincarnation.  They play a game, even convincing themselves of it. But a deep enough excursion into the matter reveals the game for what it is  - a self-deception.


“What leads people today to regard the science of spirit as nonsensical and irrelevant?  It is because they are unconsciously afraid of the powers that have to be developed in order to grasp the spirit in a completely free kind of experience of the spirit. For courage is necessary for such investigation, courage to believe that we do not immediately fall into an abyss of nothingness when we are dependent upon our own powers to producing a particular kind of experience which we ourselves place before our souls.  It is certainly easier to want to penetrate the mysteries of life with outer means than to be told that the soul needs an inner strengthening far beyond anything found in ordinary life.  It is therefore largely a matter of comfort and fear that leads to opposition to the science of spirit. Such things, however, will gradually be overcome by a humanity that is increasingly thirsting for truth.”

-        Rudolf Steiner



There is less happiness in our current age, because our modern materialistic lives, especially those devoid of awareness of reincarnation and karma, descend into an existential morass.  Awareness of these truths must proceed, before conditions for life can progress.  In fact, as indicated by Steiner, if civilization is to avoid decline, reincarnation and karma must come into awareness.

Those in this life now who consider reincarnation and karma of no account are projecting a no-account life into the next incarnation  - a life of existential torment, meaningless and barren.  (Effectively creating their own scenario.)

Steiner indicated that, “What is the most essential at any particular time always encounters the strongest resistance.”  He went on to explain how Luciferic forces induce people to resist spiritual progress, but those forces lose power when people comprehend the truths of reincarnation and karma.



Here is an exercise: look over your life and ask these questions:


What did I like?  Dislike?

What did I aspire to, but destiny held me elsewhere?

What events would I have rather missed?

What events did I cherish?

What subject areas in education were strengths, or shortfalls?

Have I been introverted/extroverted?

Have I been a person of a thoughtful path  - or more will-oriented?

Identify your least talents and what you don’t want, what you gravitate away from.

(This can indicate the essence of your prior life  - because, in fulfilling self, once you are saturated by something, you seek to fulfill something that is missing.)



Review your life, and list occasions of good or ill fortune/events/”accidents” etc.  - and imagine someone causing these events that appear to have no cause. This exercise can lead to indications of earlier lives.

Our suffering empowers us, gives us strength to overcome dysfunctions in ourselves, to amend imperfections caused by our disservice to others.

A wise part of our being, one that lies deeper inside, orchestrates our encountering of suffering so that we can make progress.



Do we have freedom while incarnated?

We are greatly restricted while confined to a body, yet also presented with much opportunity (to learn and grow, to hone and refine).

Steiner: “Free actions are carried out by the immortal part of man.”

We are both free and un-free is the answer.  The more we apprehend the spiritual aspect of our being, the freer we are. 





The arguments and questions (contra reincarnation and karma)




“Why don’t we remember our past lives?”


Some do.


We drink of the waters of forgetfulness when we incarnate  - working with a handicap strengthens other faculties.


Thinking, in its earthly sphere, is bound up with our physical and etheric bodies, all of which we discard as we pass over, so thoughts, and memory composed primarily of thoughts, dissipate when these bodies do (but feeling and willing endure).

The soul carries on, understandings, versus concepts carry on (because they are more related to feeling and inspiration).

Thinking, in itself, is not able to fully conceive of the workings of reincarnation and karma.  However, thinking can be freed from the physical realm through spiritual development.  In this way we evolve new powers of perception.


Past-life regressions can help induce recall.


To say we don’t remember our past lives, so we don’t reincarnate is like saying, “A four year old child can’t do arithmetic, therefore a human being can’t do arithmetic.”





“It doesn’t matter if we do, or don’t reincarnate - it doesn’t serve any purpose knowing (even if we do) incarnate.”



So much violence, dysfunction, and transgression against others would cease with awareness of karma.


“Know thyself” is a powerful adage, and coming to know about one’s incarnations and karmic nature leads to deeper self-knowledge.


Awareness of reincarnation and karma would become a key element in halting the decline of civilization.




“Isn’t it just faith you’re going by when you believe in reincarnation and karma?”



Faith is what?  Define this, since comprehension of what faith actually is leads to a powerful force in one’s destiny.

         Faith, not as in blindly grasping a belief, but faith as in coming to acknowledge the clear-knowing, the clairsentience at the heart of one’s being.

          Through systematic spiritual discipline and development, we come to know about our incarnations and karma, as it becomes useful to know more, as we become ready for it.





Further Resources




Human and Animal Kingdoms  - an article by Insight21


The Spiritual Ecology of Evolution  - an article from Insight21


Traditional Versus Modern Spiritual Paths  - an article from Insight21



Steiner archive - lectures, hundreds of topics, including some on reincarnation and karma.






The foregoing article was written by Josef Graf, coordinator of the Earth Vision project and Insight21  - presenting nature in the light of spiritual ecology, and answers for the 21st Century.



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