Consciousness of the dead

From AnthroWiki

The consciousness of the dead is different from that of the earthly embodied human being. What the human being has clearly consciously experienced on earth very soon fades to a faint memory in the life between death and new birth. In significant imaginations, however, in the first third of the post-death life, all that he has unconsciously lived through in earthly life unfolds. In the second third, the meaning of these images is revealed through inspiration. In the last third, through intuition, the human being feels himself transferred into his whole soul and spiritual environment and thereby prepares himself for his rebirth on earth. An echo of these intuitions is the child's ability to imitate in the first seven years of life.

„But at the moment when one has freed oneself from the physical in the inner experience, one knows what it is like for the human being when he lives his life without his physicality. And in the picture the fact of passing through the gate of death, of dying, comes before the soul. Once one has recognised what it means to grasp oneself in one's spiritual powers independently of the body, then one also knows what one is in spiritual existence when one has laid aside the body and has passed through the gate of death. And one also gets to know the environment that is then present for the human being. One learns to recognise how with the body, when it is discarded, that which connects us with the sense world falls away from us. What remains, however, is that which first formed us as human beings, the soul-spirit of the human being. This is how we learn to recognise the experiences we have had with other people. But that which was in these sense experiences, how soul found itself to soul, what lived itself out in the relationships to other people, to those nearer and farther away, what took place in space and in time, one learns to recognise the eternal-spiritual, how it strips off the earthly form of experience. And then the soul experiences all the more that which has been in it spiritually in relationships with other people. And that which is otherwise only the object of faith becomes cognitive certainty.“ (Lit.:GA 231, p. 27f)

„Everything that passes unnoticed by the ordinary consciousness is then unrolled when the human being has passed through the gate of death. And I would like to call that which the human being initially experiences over a long period of time the unrolling of the images. It is essentially a going through of experiences of the imaginative consciousness that the man goes through. A large, large number of images are unrolled about life scenes of which we have brought very little consciousness to ourselves. And of that which we have brought to our consciousness here, that which has also been little touched by consciousness is unrolled. The other things that were clearly conscious here appear more as memories after death, like memory images, like recollection; but those things that have been little observed here unfold as in present-day images.

Today it is particularly important to me to point out that the first third of life between death and a new birth has essentially to do with this unrolling of images, has essentially to do with a life in imaginations. We can help these imaginations by establishing a connection between us who are left here and those who have passed through the gate of death as karmically connected with us. - Then comes the second third, in which this spiritual-emotional human life is more filled with inspirations. Here it becomes clear to the human being what significance the images he first experienced have in the whole world context, how he places himself in the world context through these images. For everything that the human being experiences has significance for the world context. One must not believe that it is indifferent to have once met a person whom one has perhaps paid little attention to, to have been near him. It is unfolded in pictures, and what significance it has in the whole world event comes to revelation in inspirations in the second third of life between death and a new birth.

In the last third, life is mainly a life of intuitions. There man has to put himself in the place of what is in his spiritual-soul environment. There the man lives as if submerged with his consciousness in that which is in his spiritual-soul environment. And it is precisely in this last third, through this immersion, that he prepares for immersion in the physical body after birth or conception. The intuitions in the last third of life between death and a new birth are the initiation of that intuition which is then, of course, subconscious or unconscious, which consists in man's immersion in the body which is handed down to him in the hereditary current of parents, grandparents and so on. And something remains for the human being when he has now passed from the spiritual-soul world into the physical world. If you consider that man has lived for a long time in spiritual-soul intuitions and is accustomed to living in them, he will still want to hold on to this habit when he has entered the physical body. Indeed he does. For what is - read it in the booklet "The Education of the Child from the Point of View of Spiritual Science" - the main striving of the soul in the first seven years of life up to the change of teeth? I said: addiction to imitation. The child always tries to do what is done in its environment; it does not start from its own intentions; it puts itself into the actions of those who live in its environment and imitates them. This is the echo of the intuitions in the last third of life between death and a new birth.“ (Lit.:GA 174b, p. 312ff)

„Now, when man has entered through the gate of death, he is, as you know, essentially in that substantiality in which we are during our sleeping state, initially at least for the next few decades. This substantiality cannot remain as thin as it is during our physical embodiment, otherwise all experience would remain unconscious between death and a new birth. And it does not remain unconscious, on the contrary, a different but much brighter, much more powerful consciousness appears between death and a new birth than exists while we are in the physical body. We must ask: How does this consciousness come about when we dwell in the astral body and in the I-being?

Well, here in the physical life we have the physical instrument, in that we are permeated - one could also say: clothed - by the ingredients which form the physical world, that is, the mineral, the plant and the animal kingdoms. That which is prepared for us there as physical corporeality is our instrument of awake life. In a similar way, an instrument is prepared for us between death and a new birth. The first thing that is prepared for us, so to speak, after death, by the fact that we are human beings at all, what must necessarily be prepared for us, even when we have laid aside our etheric body, is that which comes from the hierarchy of the Angeloi. We are, so to speak, imbued with the substantiality of the hierarchy of the Angeloi.

A being from the hierarchy of the Angeloi belongs to us, is to a certain extent the leading being of our human individuality. But as we grow up into the spiritual world, other beings from the hierarchy of the Angeloi, to which we are initially connected, join with this being, and a kind of Angeloi organism is formed in us, or rather for us, which is, however, constructed differently from our physical organism.

If one wanted to schematically visualise what I am talking about here, one could do so in the following way: We live up through the gate of death into the spiritual world. This is schematically our own individuality (see drawing p. 224, violet), and connected with it is that being which we feel to be assigned to us from the hierarchy of the Angeloi (red). But when we take off our etheric body, this Angelic being enters into a relationship with other beings from the hierarchy of the Angelic beings, joins them, and we feel this whole Angelic world within us. We feel it in us, we experience it as an inner experience, apart of course from the outer experiences that are conveyed to us through it.

This penetration with the world of the Angeloi also makes it possible for us to enter into relationships with disembodied people, with other people who have previously passed through the gate of death. I would like to say: Just as our senses convey the outer world to us here, so this being embedded in the world of the Angeloi conveys to us the relationship to the spiritual beings, also of the people we meet in the spiritual world. Just as here in the physical world, depending on the conditions of the physical world, we receive an organism organised in one way or another, so we receive, as it were, a spirit organism which is produced by this network of Angeloi substances. How this network of Angelic substances is formed depends very much on how we work our way up into the spiritual world. If we work our way up into the spiritual world in such a way that we have little feeling for the spiritual world, that we have many, too many echoes of physical pleasures, desires and instincts, of physical sympathies and antipathies, the formation of this Angelic organism will be difficult. And it is precisely for this purpose that the time of dwelling in the soul world, as we have called it, is there, in order to free us from that which penetrates us in the manner indicated from the physical world, and which prevents us from developing this Angeloi organism in an appropriate manner.

Drawing from GA 174, p. 224
Drawing from GA 174, p. 224

It is gradually formed during the time we dwell in the soul world. We grow into this Angeloi organism. But at the same time another necessity begins, the necessity not only to permeate ourselves with this Angeloi organism, but also to permeate ourselves with another substantiality, namely with an Archangeloi organism. Our consciousness in the spiritual world between death and a new birth would remain very dull if we could not permeate ourselves with the Archangeloi organism. If we were only permeated with the Angeloi organism, we would, so to speak, remain dreaming beings in the spiritual world, I would like to say, woven out of all kinds of imaginative material from the spiritual world; but we would dream away our existence between death and a new birth. So that we do not dream it away, so that a strong, bright consciousness arises, we must be permeated with the Archangeloi organism (see drawing, blue).

This makes our consciousness correspondingly bright. In this way we awaken to the spiritual world, so to speak. But to the extent that we wake up to the spiritual world, we also acquire a free relationship to the physical world here. And we must have this free relationship to the physical world here. We must ask ourselves: What is the relationship of the physical world to the disembodied human beings who have passed through the gate of death? You can also learn this from those Vienna lectures. Here in the physical world it is difficult for man, however strong his longing, to lift himself up with his thoughts and feelings to a perception of the spiritual world, the heavenly world. Man longs for ideas about the heavenly world, but he does not easily develop the strong imaginative faculty to bring this heavenly world into his sphere. In a certain sense this is the opposite for the stay in the spiritual world between death and a new birth. What is experienced in the physical world follows us into it; what has meaning in the physical world, what is perceived here, follows us into it. It even follows us in a very peculiar way. Examples that I am giving you will give you an idea of the complexity of these things. To people's physical imagination these examples sometimes look grotesque, paradoxical, but one cannot live concretely into the spiritual world if one does not also take such ideas into consideration.

The perception of that which is present in the mineral kingdom is actually lost as soon as man has passed through the gate of death. Here in the physical world man, because of his senses, has the greatest capacity for perceiving the mineral kingdom, one could almost say the almost exclusive capacity for perceiving it. For man does not perceive much else than the mineral kingdom, if he is at first limited to his senses. You say we also perceive animals, we also perceive plants. But why? You see, if you have a plant here, there are mineral products in this plant. You know that. It is filled with mineral products. And that which pulsates and flows mineralically, that which is contained mineralically in the plant, is actually perceived in the plant - as well as in the animal. So you could say that man almost exclusively perceives mineral products through his senses. So this mineral kingdom that man perceives is fading away. Let's take a specific example. Here you see table salt on your table every day, you see it as an external mineral product. The disembodied human being who has passed through the gate of death cannot see this cooking salt in the salt barrel. But when you put the salt into your soup and swallow it, it causes a process in your own inner being, and what goes on in your own inner being, namely the process that is accompanied by the sensation of saltiness, is perceived by the dead. So from the moment the salt begins to produce a taste on the tongue, thus completing a process in your own inner being, from that moment the dead person can perceive the salt in its mode of action; that is the way things are. But we can just say: Just as the mineral kingdom is here, solidified, without still exerting its effects on a human or animal or plant organism, so the dead man, after he has passed through the gate of death, cannot perceive the mineral kingdom. From this you can already see that what one might call the outer environment of the dead is quite different from that which man is accustomed to call his outer world here between birth and death.

One thing, however, always remains perceptible to the dead - and it is important to turn one's attention precisely to this - that is that into which human thoughts and feelings have flowed; and it is human thoughts which are then perceptible. The dead man does not perceive salt as a natural product, as it is in the salt cask. Nor does he perceive the salt cask, which is perhaps made of glass or of some other material; but in so far as human thoughts have nested in the salt cask during its manufacture, the dead man perceives these human thoughts. If you imagine how in our surroundings, everywhere we look, human thoughts have to give the signatures, as it were, to what is not merely a product of nature, according to which these things arrange themselves, you will get the idea of what the dead man can perceive. The dead man also perceives all the relations between beings, that is, the relations between men and so on; all this is alive for him.

But now it is a question of the fact that for certain things here in the physical world the dead person has just as much an endeavour to get rid of them from his ideas, from his soul experiences, to get rid of them, to wipe them away, as it were, as the physical man here has the longing to get certain ideas about the world beyond. Here one has the longing to get ideas about the hereafter. After death one has the longing for certain human things here on earth - and this earth is then the hereafter for the dead - to erase these things, to wipe them away. To do this, however, it is necessary to be permeated by the substantialities of these higher hierarchies of the Angeloi and Archangeloi. For by being penetrated by their substantialities, one can erase from consciousness that which must be erased. This gives you an idea of the growing into the spiritual world, of the way in which man grows into the spiritual world by penetrating, as it were, his own individuality with the substantialities of the entities of the higher Hierarchy. Now it is very important to realise the following: In order first of all to remove from the consciousness all that which is more or less personally connected with the human being - and these are all the artistic products which we have for use, of which I have told you: because they embody human thoughts, the dead man sees them - it is above all necessary that the human being should be duly permeated by the substance of the Angeloi. But other things must also be stripped away, other things must be damped down, so to speak, so that the human being can find his abode in the spiritual world in the right way.

Now, as strange as this may sound to you from the earthly standpoint, it is nevertheless true that there is an obstacle, an obstacle to growing into that very thing which gives us clear, bright consciousness in the spiritual world, and this obstacle which prevents us from growing easily into the spiritual world is, strange as it may sound, the human language, the language which we use here on earth for physical communication from man to man. The dead must gradually outgrow language, otherwise remaining in the affinities which bind him to language would prevent him from growing into the kingdom of the Archangeloi. Language is really only there for earthly circumstances, but within earthly circumstances man has grown together with language in a very spiritual way. For many people, thinking is, as it were, contained in language, especially today in the materialistic age. People today in the materialistic age think almost not at all in thoughts, but tremendously strongly in language, in words. That is why they are so satisfied when they have found an expression for something. But such expressions, such word-designations are actually only suitable here for physical life, and after death it is the task to get rid of word-designations.

Even with regard to such things, spiritual-scientific observation gives a certain possibility of living into the realm of the supersensible. For how often have I told you that one can only come approximately to the real concept by drawing a circle, as it were, around the thing, around the words. How often have I shown you how one must try to get free from words by illuminating them from all sides, by using the most diverse words, in order to arrive at the concept. Spiritual science emancipates us from language in a certain sense. It does this to the fullest extent. Therefore, it brings us into that sphere which we have in common with the dead.

So the emancipation from language is intimately connected with growing into the substantiality of the Archangeloi. Thus a bridge is created between here and the spiritual world, that we emancipate ourselves again from language precisely in spiritual-scientific terms, that we create spiritual-scientific terms which are more or less independent of language.“ (Lit.:GA 174, p. 222ff)

It is precisely the adherence to language that is a means of certain occult brotherhoods to bind the dead to their one-sided group interests. The relationship with the Archangeloi is thus prevented or at least hindered.

„These brotherhoods make it their task - as you can see from some of the arguments I have given - more or less to preserve the human being in the material field. And we have seen in recent days that these brotherhoods are even concerned to supermaterialise materialism, to create, as I have called it, an Ahrimanic immortality for the participants in such brotherhoods. They can do this most of all by representing group interests, group egoisms, and that is what they do to the most eminent degree. And in this alone lies the endeavour to represent a group interest, in that the most influential of these brotherhoods proceed, as it were, from the point of view I have mentioned to you: to saturate the fifth post-Atlantean cultural period completely with everything that speaks English. For that is the definition of the fifth post-Atlantean period for these brotherhoods: All that belongs to the people of the fifth post-Atlantean period is that which speaks English, the English-speaking people. Thus, in the very first principle, there is a narrowing down to an egoistic group interest.

This means something spiritually immensely significant. Nothing less is meant than to exert an effect not only on human individualities, in so far as they are embodied in the physical body between birth and death, but on all human individualities, also in so far as they live between death and a new birth. For the aim is that the human individuality should live in the spiritual world, that it should be permeated by the hierarchy of the Angeloi, but not ascend to the hierarchy of the Archangeloi. In a certain sense, the aim is to detach from human development the hierarchy of the Archangeloi!“ (Lit.:GA 174, p. 230)

Instead of the connection with the regular Archangeloi, a close relationship now occurs with Archai who have become ahrimanic and who have remained behind on the level of the Archangeloi. This makes possible for the dead a kind of ahrimanic immortality through which they can immortalise the material experiences of the physical body - ideals such as those aspired to today in the philosophy of transhumanism, for example.

„And they really do receive an equivalent, they also become interspersed with something, but now with what? They are interspersed with something that comes from the Archai who have remained at the Archangeloic level. So instead of being normally interspersed with the substantiality of the real Archangeloi, they are interspersed with Archai, with Spirits of Time, but such as have not ascended to the Spirit of Time, but have remained on the Archangeloic level. They should have become Archai in the normal course of evolution, but they have remained behind on the Archangeloic level. That is to say, they are permeated in the most eminent sense by Ahrimanism. One must have quite correct ideas of the spiritual world in order to grasp the full significance of such a fact. When occult means are used to secure world dominion for a single folk spirit, then this means that effects are to be achieved right into the spiritual world; it means that in place of the justified dominion of the Archangeloi over the dead, the unjustified dominion of the Archai who have remained Archangeloi, the unjustified Spirits of Time, is substituted. And with these one has achieved an ahrimanic immortality.

You may, however, say: How can people be so foolish as to cut themselves loose from the normal development and penetrate into a completely different spiritual development? - But that is a very short-sighted judgement, a judgement which does not even think that out of certain impulses men can indeed long to seek their immortality in other worlds than those which we call the normal ones. I would like to say: that you have no desire to participate in this ahrimanic immortality - well, it is quite good! But just as many other things are incomprehensible to the closest concepts, so you must admit that there is something incomprehensible about people wanting to get out of the world which we call the normal world, including life between death and a new birth, and saying to themselves: we do not want to have Christ as our guide, who is the guide through this normal world, we want to have another guide, we want to stand in opposition to this normal world. - Through the preparations which they go through - I have spoken to you of these preparations - which are effected by ceremonial magic, they get the idea that actually this world of the Ahrimanic powers is a much stronger spiritual world, that they can continue there above all that which they have acquired here in physical life, that they can make immortal the material experiences of physical life.“ (Lit.:GA 174, p. 231f)


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