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Metempsychosis (Greekμετεμψύχωσις), the transmigration of the soul, which was taught in almost all oriental mysteries, in Hinduism, Buddhism, but also in the Jewish Kabbalah as Gilgul Neschamot and similarly by Pythagoras, must not be confused with the rebirth of the human individuality, with the reincarnation of the spirit. The ancient initiates knew that after death in the Kamaloka, man's untransformed desires give the astral body an animal form. Similarly, it happens when the astral body is lifted out in the course of the spiritual path of training. In order to prevent this, the spiritual disciple had to work strictly towards a corresponding purification of the soul (catharsis) beforehand. The doppelganger experience is also connected with this. The Jewish secret teachings also describe how these astral figures can temporarily incorporate themselves as a good (Ibbur) or evil soul (Dibbuk) in an earthly embodied person.

„First it is said that transmigration and reincarnation, repeated lives on earth, are the same thing. Transmigration of souls is understood as if the souls of human beings migrated into different animals after death. Such nonsense has never been suggested by me in any way. The repeated earth lives mean something quite different. They are that which follows precisely from spiritual-scientific documents, just as the theory of evolution in the physical world follows from physical bases of research.“ (Lit.:GA 255b, p. 117)

„In the astral world, the urges and passions take on animal forms. As long as the human being is embodied in the physical body, his astral body takes somewhat the form of this physical body. But when the outer body is gone, then the urges, desires and passions, as they are in their animal [nature], come to the fore in their own form, to break through. Thus man in the astral world is an image of his drives and passions.

Because these astral beings can make use of other bodies, it is therefore dangerous to let mediums come into a trance unless a clairvoyant is present who can avert evil.

The lion is a plastic expression of certain passions in the physical world, the tiger is an expression of other passions, the cat again of others. It is interesting to see how each animal is the plastic expression of a passion, of a drive.

So in the astral, in the Kamaloka, man is approximately similar [to animal nature] through his passions. Hence the misunderstanding that has been given to the Egyptian and Indian priests and wisdom teachers concerning the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. You should live in such a way that you are not embodied in the animal, says this teaching. But this teaching never speaks of the physical life, but of the higher life, and what it wanted was nothing else than to induce people on earth to live in such a way that they need not form their animal form after death in the Kamaloka. Those who develop the characteristics of a cat appear as cats in the Kamaloka. That one also appears in the Kamaloka as a human being is the meaning of the precepts of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. The true teachings the scholars have not understood, they have only an absurd idea of them.“ (Lit.:GA 324a, p. 40f)

One should also refrain from meat food, because with meat food the astral forces are absorbed which prevailed when the animal in question fell out of further development:

„Man is an extraordinarily complicated being. When a human being begins to live a vegetarian life, there are many things to consider. With everything we consume, animal, plant, mineral, we take into ourselves the spiritual forces that have formed them. If, for example, we eat a bull (cow, ox), we take into ourselves the forces that were at work in the beings at that time, when the bull fell out of the series of progressing beings. The animals are beings that fell out before the time, in which the force that worked on the beings at the time of the swinging away has hardened; the animals have stopped at the point of development at that time. Thus, at the time when the bull fell out, the forces acted in such a way that a small brain and a protruding snout were formed. Whoever eats bulls, i.e. cattle, absorbs these forces which produce the small brain and the protruding snout. This is not to be understood in such a way that one physically resembles a bull, that one gets a protruding snout and so on, but one takes into one's astral body these forces which have a hardening effect. After death, when the astral body becomes free, it takes on these forms. This can be observed on the astral plan. This fact underlies the idea of the 'transmigration of souls'.“ (Lit.:GA 266a, p. 470f)


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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