Originally posted in German on 18th September 2023
by Heinz Grill
When the physical body departs with death, the human limb which is generally called the soul continues to exist. The question still arises, as to where this soul will go after death. The simpler explanations, which are very often given to children, are that after death people go either to heaven or to hell. For a more intensive and comprehensive consideration, with a spiritual-scientific background, these two terms are chosen too simply and require a very careful and more precise working out. At the same time, there is a danger of polarisation, which mostly assigns the so-called good and obedient human beings to heaven and the heretics who depart, and as a result of their revolutionary attitude, are condemned to hell. That state which the soul assumes after death is usually to be interpreted on the basis of being more intensely connected or being isolated and closed off. Heaven and hell were simplified terms for reconciliatory connectedness or burdensome separateness.1) In this context it is interesting to note that the etymological meaning of the word hell goes back to the Germanic root word “hel” which means to conceal. In English this word can also be traced back to the meaning of to cover or conceal. (https://www.etymonline.com/word/hell )
Now in a natural way, probably in every person there is the wish for a beautiful, harmonious existence on earth, with few periods of discomfort, illness, attacks, rejection and negative feelings. These needs, however, describe the earthly world and cannot be transferred over to the reality of a soul, cosmic existence after death. A beautiful earthly existence does not lead or seldom leads to revitalisation in the soul world after death. When the physical body departs, all the earthly material decays, whereas that limb which is called the soul passes over into the cosmos totally freely and without a home. What is this cosmos though and of what material does the soul consist of? It is that great sea of light of the sun, and in specific terms, of the stars. Each individual star of this planetary system belonging to the earth carries a certain type of light, like for example Venus or in another way Mars.2) Astronomically, the planetary system is thought of heliocentrically today i.e. as belonging to the sun. In the study of the life of the soul, however, the planetary system is usually thought of geocentrically i.e. from the earth, because the soul, when it departs from there, takes its exit into the planetary sphere. The forces from the sun, as well as the astral influences of the stars, are intimately connected with the soul and with the varied effects of the forces of the human mind(Gemüt). When one speaks of an existence of a soul after death, one means nothing else than a life in the free light of the stars, the moon and the sun. The soul therefore migrates into the cosmos and integrates itself in a specific way into the light conditions of the stars.
Thus, in a very subtle way, those human qualities and deep forces of subtle-feeling, live on in an existence superordinate to the earth. Those who observe the stars, the moon and the sun not only from a purely physical point of view, but sense fine light qualities with a higher subtle-feeling character in them, notice a great soul reality. It is invisible, expansive, radiant, and existent in the cosmos in a subtle way.
Whether people have led a very rich or a very poor material existence during their lifetime or whether they had a very peaceful hour of death or had to suffer a very heavy burden in their last few hours, is of no importance for the world after death. Likewise, faith as part a group, religion or worldview in no way gives the privilege of a harmonious existence after death. The excuse so often made by people today that they were not able to achieve favourable development because they were hindered by those around them or the cheap excuse that they are in the wrong system, with a false teacher or had bad parents, do not count in the world after death. The excuses that can be brought into the earthly world, will not be rewarded in the afterlife, then, when the soul is free. Neglect of obligations can no longer be made up for when the body falls away.
What values actually count in the afterlife? Is there soul wealth with a light state of revitalisation and soul poverty with isolation, affliction and shadowing? Yes there is. However, life must be observed in a very careful and precise way, so that real values are supported and senseless, time wasting actions are avoided. There are often the totally opposite pictures given of the earthly world and the worlds after death and this especially in relation to those human beings, who are ostracised, insulted, rejected and laden with all sorts of unfounded criticism. For they experience, provided they have remained true to their ideals, and maintained an honest, endeavour to uphold their character, great connectedness and even extremely happy light filled periods. How many people today because of their honest attitude, are rejected by society, ostracised, dragged before the courts and charged with all kinds of inconsistent accusations, and how many people suffer under the lies of the worldly propaganda machine? Do these people straighten themselves up or do they passively surrender to fate? These questions are decisive. The world after death gives a high degree of connection precisely to those who stand for justice and dedicate their lives, regardless of the many attacks they have to endure, for an ideal and a better future.
However, it should be noted that there are many people who oppose the conditions of the times with revolutionary violence and resistance and yet in their inner character cannot bring forward a better sense of value, virtues and wisdom. These people must not rely on the fact that in the afterlife they will experience a high reward with a sunny connection. For them, the weather, if it is expressed metaphorically, will remain bad in this other worldly region and the clouds will shield them in their feelings. Their souls have not yet become rich in content and strengthened in love, they are yet to be filled with spirit and therefore stay in the life after death often very sparsely connected and must continue to endure very many shadows.3) Protest alone does not bring the necessary progress, but must also be accompanied by the development of deeper values in the soul life. Great freedom fighters such as Bonhoeffer or Gandhi above all brought progressive soul content into life through their person.
A common mistake in spiritual training is that people give themselves over to a completely false sense of freedom during their lives. They confuse true maturity of the soul with stubborn self-determination and their belief in spiritual sayings is based on desirable personal interpretation. Especially in yoga circles and perhaps even more so amongst anthroposophical people, as well as among a large number of former participants in the school of the New Yoga Will, highly illusionary and vain conceitedness prevails, elevating people to the false feeling of being better than others. Sayings do not count in the world after death, only the authentic character of the soul, filled with wisdom and the force of love, gains a distinctive position. One person attended the spiritual school here for one and half years. She entered the training already with a severe illness. Death could be held back for these years and this person lived in the end completely in the vision and a meaningful fulfilment of a possible ideal for the future. She died because the life forces came to an end and after a short time a sunlike connection to her could be recognised. Just as there are positive examples there are also very heavy ones. For example, over the last ten years, the extent to which my advice and corrections have been ignored by participants in trainings and courses is hard to believe and this has led to damage to the spiritual school as well as to the overall condition for humanity. Quite a few people that have started a training but have not properly pursued it further have in the meantime died of illness and experience no spiritual fulfilment in the world after death. They look upon narrowness and affliction. They are as if separated, isolated through their own interpretation of spiritual content. One could think that they never had felt a spiritual obligation and depart without true religion. In anthroposophical circles unfortunately shocking perceptions can be discovered. People who spoke a great deal about the astral body, the ether body, social threefold division and in the earthly plane seemed to know who is called to the true guild of humanity and who, on the other hand, have not yet arrived at truths, experience a great deficit with separation and shadowing in the afterlife. They believed that they were Anthroposophists and yet they have never penetrated Rudolf Steiner’s content and wisdomful thoughts. The seriousness of a spiritual school usually leads to values in earthly existence and, beyond that, to a wealth in the afterlife experience. However, the content of study must actually be truthfully learnt and brought into a sufficient depth of experience, so that the soul learns to discover its connectedness on a greater and more comprehensive cosmic plane. A proper study of spiritual content and its realisation right into societal life creates, as the examples of the last few years of work in Naone has shown, joyful connections in human togetherness and a rich strengthening of subtle-feeling in the heart.
|In this context it is interesting to note that the etymological meaning of the word hell goes back to the Germanic root word “hel” which means to conceal. In English this word can also be traced back to the meaning of to cover or conceal. (https://www.etymonline.com/word/hell
|Astronomically, the planetary system is thought of heliocentrically today i.e. as belonging to the sun. In the study of the life of the soul, however, the planetary system is usually thought of geocentrically i.e. from the earth, because the soul, when it departs from there, takes its exit into the planetary sphere.
|Protest alone does not bring the necessary progress, but must also be accompanied by the development of deeper values in the soul life. Great freedom fighters such as Bonhoeffer or Gandhi above all brought progressive soul content into life through their person.