--| THE STRANGER WHO GOES WITH US |----- When we have our inner life in mind, we can distinguish two groups of experiences: in one we are aware of the causes of our successes and failures; in the second we cannot detect any such connection, and it will seem more or less chance that we failed in one instance and succeeded in another. Or if we have more in mind our destiny in outer life, we find cases where it is inwardly clear to us that in connection with events which befell us-not those we initiated-we did certain things and are responsible for what happened; but in others we can see no connection whatever with what we intended, and it is usually said that they broke in upon our life as if by chance... A kind of experiment can be made with these two groups of experiences. We ask ourselves: How would it be if we were to build up in thought a kind of imaginary person, ascribing to him just those things for which we can see no connection with our own faculties: we endow this imaginary man with the qualities and faculties which have led to these happenings incomprehensible to us. We imagine a man possessing faculties such that he will inevitably succeed or fail in matters where we cannot say this of ourselves, one who has quite deliberately brought about the events which seem to have come into our life by chance. Simple examples can serve as a starting-point. Suppose a tile from a roof has fallen upon and injured our shoulder. We should be inclined to attribute this to chance. But as an experiment, we imagine a man who acts in the following strange way: he climbs on the roof, loosens a tile to the point where it has only a slight hold, then runs down quickly so that when the tile is quite loose it falls on his shoulder! The same can be done for all events which seem to have come into our life by chance. We build up an imaginary man who is guilty of or brings about all those events of which in ordinary life we cannot see their connection with us. To do this may at first seem nothing but a play of fancy. No obligation is incurred by doing it. But such a man makes a quite remarkable impression upon us. We cannot get rid of the picture we have thus created; although it seems so artificial, it fascinates us, and gives the impression that it must have something to do with us. The feeling we have for this imaginary man ensures this. If we steep ourselves in this picture, it will most certainly not leave us free. A remarkable process then takes place within our feeling mind. We may compare this with something which often happens: suppose we need to recall something, and use all sorts of artificial means for doing so. Just try to realize how many times auxiliary thoughts have to be used and dropped again in order to get at what we want to remember: the purpose of these auxiliary thoughts is to open the way to the recollection we need. In exactly the same but in a far more comprehensive sense, the imaginary thoughtman described represents an 'auxiliary process'. He never leaves us; he is at work in such a way that we realize that he lives in us as a thought, as something that goes on working, that is actually transformed within us into the idea, the thought which now flashes up suddenly, as in the ordinary process of recollection; it floods over us. It is as though something says to us, 'this being cannot remain as he is, he transforms himself within you, he becomes alive, he changes!' This force itself upon us in such a way (try it!) that he whispers to us, 'This is something that has to do with an Earthexistence other than the present one'. A kind of awareness of another Earth-existence-that thought quite definitely arises. It is more a feeling than a thought, a sentient experience, but it is as if we feel what arises in the feeling mind to be what we ourselves once were in an earlier incarnation on this Earth... Again, our experiences of life can be divided into groups in different ways. One group may include the sufferings, sorrows and obstacles we have encountered, while a second includes the joys, happinesses and advantages in our life. Being what we are in this incarnation, our sorrows and sufferings are misfortunes which we would gladly avoid. But by way of experiment let us not take this attitude, but assume that for a certain reason we ourselves brought about these sorrows, sufferings and obstacles, realizing that owing to our earlier lives-if there have actually been such lives-we have become in some sense more imperfect because of what we have done. After all, we do not only become more perfect through successive incarnations; when we have affronted or harmed someone, are we not more imperfect than before? We have not only affronted him, we have taken something away from ourself; as a whole personality our worth would be greater if we had not done it. Many such actions are marked on our sco~e, and our imperfections remain because of them. If we desire to regain our worth, what must happen? We must make compensation for the affront, we must place into the world a counter-balancing deed, we must discover some means of compelling ourselves to overcome something. And if we think in this way, we can often say: These sufferings and sorrows, if we surmount them, are suited to give us strength to overcome our imperfections. Through suffering we can make progress. In normal life we do not think in this way; we set our face against suffering. But we can also say that every sorrow, every suffering, every obstacle in life should be an indication of the fact that we have within us a man who is cleverer than we are. With our ordinary consciousness we resist sorrows and suffering, but the cleverer man leads us towards these sufferings in defiance of our consciousness, because by overcoming them we can strip off something. This may, to begin with, be an oppressive thought, but it carries with it no obligations; we can if we wish use it once only, as a trial. In this way we are led to the result which many find disturbing, namely that this cleverer man guides us always towards what we do not like. This, then, we will take as an assumption: there is a cleverer man within us who guides us to what we do not like, in order that we may make progress. But let us still do something else. Let us take our joys, our advantages, our happinesses, and say to ourselves, again as an experiment: 'How would it be if you were to conceive the idea irrespective of how it tallies with reality-that you simply have not deserved these happinesses, these advantages; that they have come to you through the grace of higher spiritual powers' . . Again this thought may be a bitter pill for the vain to swallow; but if a man is capable of forming such a thought in his feeling mind with all intensity, it leads to the basic feeling (because again it changes, and in so far as it is incorrect it rectifies itself): In you there lives something that lies deeper than anything you have experienced consciously, a cleverer man within you, who gladly turns to the eternal, divine spiritual powers pervading the world. Then it becomes an inner certainty that behind the outer there is an inner, higher individuality. Through such thought-exercises we become conscious of the eternal, spiritual core of our being. This is of extraordinary importance. There again we have something which it lies in our power to carry out. Wishes of the soul bud forth, Deeds of the will are thriving, Fruits of life are maturing. I feel my fate: my fate finds me, I feel my star. my star finds me, I feel my aims: my aims find me. My soul and the world are but one. Life grows more radiant about me, Life grows more arduous for me, Life grows richer in me. -- Reference: Reincarnation and Karma, Lecture 3, Stuttgart. February 20, 1912. GA 135.


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this page last updated: october 30, 1999