Life panorama

From AnthroWiki

The life panorama or life tableau appears to man at the moment of death or at moments of great nearness to death, when the etheric body detaches itself from the physical body or at least loosens very much. This panoramic review of life contains the whole fruit of the past earthly life. Unclouded by the physical body, the etheric body, which is the actual carrier of memory, then releases its treasure of memories. The etheric body turns itself inside out and begins to expand into the cosmos. The life panorama can therefore only be experienced in the first three days after death.

How the life panorama is formed

„Now let's take a closer look at what this experience is like. I will make a schematic drawing for this purpose. Let us assume that the physical body of the human being is characterised by this schematic drawing; the etheric body or the formative forces body is characterised by this schematic drawing (hatched in yellow). We only experience what I have characterised with this, this coherent structure of physical and etheric body, when we are in the interior after waking up. We actually always experience it from within. And so that we can become aware of this as precisely as possible, I would like to draw it in the following way. For my own sake, I will indicate in green the part of the etheric body that appears to be inside. The physical body is in any case discarded at death, so we need look less at it. And I will indicate that which is directed outwards from the etheric body with this red line.

Plate 8
Plate 8

I have just said that we only experience this structure of the etheric body from within after waking up; so in a sense we only experience that which shines inwards in the green. We do not experience that which shines outwards in the red. When we have passed through the gate of death and enter into a certain connection with the etheric body with our I and our astral body, this connection happens in the following way. You must now imagine that the whole etheric body turns like a glove when you turn over what is otherwise against the skin with all your fingers and thus turn the inside out. So that what is drawn red on the outside in the earthly state I must now draw as the inner part, and what is drawn green on the inside I must draw green on the outside. The whole etheric body turns around within itself. But this turning round is connected with an immeasurably rapid enlargement of the etheric body. It grows, it becomes immense, it expands immeasurably into the universe, so that I would have to make the drawing like this (large green circle).

And while we used to be in there with our I and our astral body, we are now (red circle) facing the etheric body, which is expanding into the cosmos, but we are looking at it from its other side. That which we previously carried about us without meaning, that which was outwardly red for us, is now turned inwards. That which was previously turned inwards and which alone had meaning for us during our life on earth, is now turned outwards, it no longer concerns us, it is dispersed into the universe. But in this green - schematically represented, of course - is contained all that we have had within us during our life on earth as a coloured, sounding and so on world.

Plate 8
Plate 8

As the green goes, as it were, through the turn of the etheric body to the other side, we lose it completely, and we get a quite different world as an impression. We must not imagine that we can still have the same world after death that we had during our life on earth. This world goes away. To imagine, for instance, that we could experience after death, for my sake in a different condition, the content of life on earth, that is quite wrong, it does not correspond to the facts. What we experience through the turning of the etheric or formative force body is, of course, of gigantic magnitude compared with the content of life on earth, but it is something quite different. First of all, because the outside is now turned inwards, we experience the whole formation of our earth-life in powerful impressions which are different from the impressions of the senses. We do not experience the blush of the rose, but we experience how we have formed the blush of the rose in us as an idea. There it begins not to be so calm as it is in physical earth-life. There, in earthly life, in a rose garden, the roses are so pretty next to each other, and each one gives rest, and one feels oneself weaving in there in the rest. Now the rose garden becomes something quite different, now the rose garden becomes events in time. And how we have let our gaze gradually wander from one rose to the next, how we have formed the idea of the first rose, the second, the third rose and so on in our inner being, this, how in living becoming, in lightning-like waves and weaving one rose after the other comes into being, but not as roses but as ideas that take place, this now appears as our inner life as in a sea of events. And so something stands before us that we did not see during our life on earth: the becoming of this life on earth, the gradual emergence of this life on earth. We know how our soul has developed since childhood. That which we left completely unnoticed during our life on earth is now taking place within us. It is as if we had stepped out of ourselves, become a second being, and watched how we first gradually formed the simple conception of childhood, the more complicated one of later age, and so on. We see the emergence of this whole earth-creature according to its inner side. We see how from hour to hour this earth-life, this earth-existence, is formed. Yes, we gain the impression that this whole life on earth is actually formed by the cosmos. For all that we perceive there grows into the immeasurable, into the cosmic, and we become clear through the fact that we grow outwards that now also what has been formed in us in earth-life is formed in by the cosmos.“ (Lit.:GA 225, p. 136ff)

Because the man takes an extract of his etheric body with him on his way after death, he preserves for his whole after-death life the connection to the life ether, in which the memory tableau is indelibly inscribed. Thus the memory of his earthly self remains with him in the life between death and new birth. And in that what we have inscribed in the world ether in this way is reflected in our astral body, we experience a spiritual model of what will one day become our spirit self on the future Jupiter.

How the life panorama is experienced

In the first moments after death, however, it can seem as if the whole past life is running like a film in fast motion before the inner eye, as is also known from many near-death experiences, until finally the earthly experience of time is completely suspended. Everything we thought in the past earthly life, even if we have long since forgotten it again or it never really became conscious to us, is then simultaneously before our consciousness as in a great majestic tableau. Just as otherwise in space things stand side by side, so now all early and all later experiences stand before us simultaneously, so that one can rightly say: "Space becomes time here". In contrast to our everyday memory, which is pale and incomplete, here we become aware of all past experiences in the way described above, completely, vividly and unclouded. This memory tableau remains for about two to three days after death; this is somewhat different for individual people. As a rule, it lasts about as long as the person in question was able to endure in life without sleeping (Lit.:GA 102, p. 140). At the same time, this corresponds approximately to the time during which the day's experiences stimulate the formation of dreams; what one experiences in a dream is stimulated by the day's experiences of the last two to three days.

„The very first time after death one has before one's eyes, as in a great tableau, the life that has just passed. Throughout the days, but always in such a way that the whole is there, one embraces one's life up to that point, as it were, all at once. One has it before one as in a great panorama. One sees, as it were, the life of these days from the point of view of the I, one sees especially all that in which our I was involved. One sees the relationships one has had with a person, but one sees this relationship with the person in such a context that one becomes aware of what fruits this relationship with the person has borne for oneself. So you don't see things quite objectively, but you see everything that has borne fruit for you. You see yourself everywhere in the centre. And that is infinitely necessary, because from these days, when you see everything that has become fruitful for you, emanates the inner strength and power that you need in the whole life between death and a new birth, in order to be able to hold on to the I-thought. For one owes the strength to be able to hold on to the I between death and a new birth to this contemplation of the last life; from it this strength actually emanates.“ (Lit.:GA 157a, p. 20)

The tableau of life is not experienced spatially but two-dimensionally:

„That which one has experienced, and which otherwise can only be brought up into consciousness as an image of memory, presents itself to one like a present tableau, in which that which has long since passed is present. This is also described by people who have been shocked by the danger to their lives when they were drowning and so on, and it is also stated today by people who think in a quite materialistic way - I always add this - that those in danger of death have a tableau of their own life on earth before them. In fact, when one has activated one's thinking in this way, it suddenly appears as a tableau in front of the soul from the time when one learned to think in earthly life up to the present time. Time becomes space. What is past becomes present. An image stands there. The characteristic thing, which I shall have to speak about in more detail tomorrow, is that, because the thing is image-like, one still has a kind of feeling of space, but only a feeling of space. For this space that one now experiences lacks the third dimension. Nowhere does one experience a third dimension, but everywhere the space is only in two dimensions; so that one recognises pictorially. That is why I call this cognition imaginative cognition; the cognition which, like painting, works in two dimensions, which is at first a pictorial cognition, a cognition representing itself in two dimensions.“ (Lit.:GA 227, p. 45)

The experience of the life panorama is also associated with a strong feeling of happiness.

„... one returns to the second dimension, the third is lifted, and one receives a real imaginative knowledge which is first present in one's own self as in a life-tableau, so that one looks over, as if at the present moment, in tremendous pictures - I will speak about this in more detail - that which one has gone through in earth-life, how one has gone through this earth-life from within.

There is still a considerable difference between this and mere memories. The mere memory pictures occur in such a way that one has the feeling that in the memory there lives mainly that which has come from outside in ideas of the world, what one has experienced in pleasure, pain, what other people have done to one, how other people have approached one. One experiences this preferably in the mere imaginative memory. In this tableau of which I speak, one experiences differently. In mere memory - let's say you met a person ten years ago - you experience how the person approaches you, what he does to you, good, bad and the like. In this life tableau, however, one experiences how one first looked at this person, what one did, how one experienced in order to acquire his love, what one felt. In this tableau of life, therefore, one feels that which develops from the inside outwards, whereas mere memory gives that which develops from the outside inwards.

So we can say that in this tableau of life there is something like an experience in the immediate present, in which one thing does not follow another, as in memory, but one thing is next to another in two-dimensional space. One can very well distinguish this tableau of life from the mere tableau of memory. Now what one achieves is that one has increased the inner activity, the active experience of one's own personality. That is the essential thing. One lives more intensively, one develops more intensively the forces which radiate from one's own personality. Once you have experienced this, you have to take a further step. Nobody really likes to do that. And to this further step belongs what one can actually call the strongest conceivable inner overcoming. For that which one has in the experience of this tableau, which one has in these pictures in which the experience presents itself to one's soul, is a subjective feeling of happiness even for those things which were painful when they were really experienced in the past. That which is connected with this imaginative realisation is a tremendously strong subjective feeling of happiness.

From this subjective feeling of happiness have come all those religious ideals and descriptions which, like the descriptions of Mohammedanism, for example, imagine life beyond earthly life in auspicious images. This has arisen from the experience of this feeling of happiness in the imagination.“ (Lit.:GA 227, p. 46ff)

The life panorama contains all the fruits of the past earthly life and lasts as long as one was able to stay awake under normal circumstances, that is, as a rule for about three days, and then this fruit of life quickly departs from the person, because the etheric body largely dissolves and passes into the world ether. The life-panorama thereby buries itself in the general life ether. As long as the life panorama lasts or as long as the etheric body is not completely and finally detached from the physical body, the human being can possibly still be called back into earthly existence.

„All that we otherwise remember in time is at the same time set up around us as in a mighty panorama in a powerful tableau of life. Then, however, our etheric being is detached from us, it is, as it were, drawn out of us. This is done by the beings of the third hierarchy, and they gradually weave it into the world ether, so that after our death this fabric of the world ether consists of what we have added during our life between birth and death and what has been processed by the beings of the three next higher hierarchies. That which lived in us during our physical life has now become a piece of the outer world, so that it can be looked at by us, can be contemplated by us.“ (Lit.:GA 167, p. 35)


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