Members of the Dead

From AnthroWiki

The members of the dead (see also → members) are of a different nature than those of the earthly embodied human being. The lower members, which envelop the human I during earthly life, are gradually discarded after death. Immediately after death the physical body is stripped off. Two to three days after death, during which the dead person looks over his past life on earth in a large life panorama, the etheric body is also handed over to the general etheric world, except for a small extract. In the following purification time in the Kamaloka, which lasts about one third of the last life on earth, and the subsequent ascent to the solar sphere, the largest part of the astral body is handed over to the general astral world. With this, however, the soul members which the human being has built up in earthly life - the sentient soul, the intellectual or mind soul and also the greatest part of the consciousness soul, in so far as it has not yet developed a clear consciousness for the spiritual, but only for the sensual world - are also stripped away.

When, in the life between death and new birth, the man passes from the astral world into the actual spiritual world, into the Devachan, the I is the lowest member of the dead.

As man gradually discards his lower members after death, he is also gradually enveloped by higher spiritual members which are bestowed upon him by the spiritual world. After the dead person has laid aside the etheric body, he is enveloped by a kind of spirit self, which, however, is not yet the spirit self that the human being will acquire later in the course of world evolution through his own I-activity. In order to avoid confusion, Rudolf Steiner also used the term soul-man for this. This spirit self given to the dead gives him a kind of driving force through which he can imaginatively experience his past earthly life during the purification time. However, he then experiences precisely those things that remained unconscious to him during his life on earth.

After the Kamaloka, the dead person is also enveloped by life spirit, which Rudolf Steiner, again to avoid confusion, also called life soul or soul life. This life spirit leads us around in the spiritual world in such a way that we visit the same spiritual places again and again in rhythmic change, from which we can draw the spiritual forces we need for our next life on earth. The images previously seen imaginatively now become "speaking", as it were, through inspiration.

Finally, we are also clothed with a soul-self, which corresponds to the spirit man, but which we will only have fully developed by our own strength on the future Vulcan. Through the soul-self, man already intuitively connects with that hereditary current which is to lead him down to his next earthly incarnation.

„As man enters physical life through birth, he comes gradually and more and more into a relationship with his physical body. We have now become acquainted with a correct conception of this relationship. Because there is too much to explain, we do not always mention that something similar also takes place between death and a new birth. The matter can also be presented in a similar way for the time between death and a new birth. One can say: Man gradually enters into a relationship with something similar, as here with his physical body. Our physical body is not merely a physical body, but, as we know, it comprises the physical body, the etheric body or formative forces body, and the astral body or the external soul, the soul body. Just as we have to acquire these three shells for the physical life, so we also have to acquire such shells for the time between death and a next birth, and indeed three shells which I will name so that they are not confused with other things: Soul man, soul life or life soul and soul self. Just as we acquire the physical body here for the physical world, so we acquire the soul-man between death and a new birth; just as we acquire the etheric body here, so we then acquire the soul-life or life-soul, and just as we acquire the astral body, the soul-body, here for the world, so we acquire the individual soul or soul-self after death. I choose these expressions for the reason that it may not be confused with what man will acquire in another way for the Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan times, which is similar; but because it lies on another plane of existence, it must nevertheless be distinguished. But it does not depend on expressions.“ (Lit.:GA 181, p. 186)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.