The Connection between the Living and the Dead: 8 lectures in Germany and Switzerland, February 16 – December 3, 1916 (CW 168)
“What may be seen in the thoughts and memories left behind in the souls of those who love the dead is certainly added to the world that the dead need directly, but it also elevates, improves the existence of the dead. We could compare this to art in the physical world, but there is no comparison, because it is uplifting for the dead, an improvement, in a sense far superior to the way in which art improves the physical world for us. Thus, it has a deep meaning when we unite our thoughts with those of the dead.” (from the first lecture)
The year is 1916. Europe is entering the third year of the most devastatingly brutal war yet known. The high hopes and idealistic expectations for the newly dawned twentieth century have been very quickly met with the murderous visage of modern warfare. (The death toll would eventually reach 35 million souls.) Such is the context and ever-present background to these presentations, informing both their mood and content.
Rudolf Steiner gave these eight lectures to the members of the Anthroposophical Society in various European cities throughout 1916, and they are all heartfelt attempts to address – practically – some of the fundamental questions living strongly in his listeners, who must be always be considered, to some degree, as co-creators of the content:
Given the fundamental reality of reincarnation, how do the so-called dead remain connected to us? What meaning do these countless sacrificial deaths have? What are the immediate experiences of those who have died?
These are a few of the burning questions addressed. The answers given are anything but theoretical. But there is something else here, as well. It could be summed up by the title of the lecture given in Zürich on October 10, 1916, that forms the heart of this collection: “How Can Today’s Poverty of Soul be Overcome?” “Today” refers not just that early-twentieth-century today; rather, it means the epoch in which we are now living, and overcoming our “poverty of soul” and Steiner’s wholeheartedly human advice for doing so becomes increasingly valid and more urgent with each passing moment.
- Introduction by Christopher Bamford
- Life between Death and Rebirth
- The Elements of Our Being between Death and Rebirth
- The Death Event and the Time after Death
- How Can Today’s Poverty of Soul be Overcome?
- Karmic Effects
- The Great Delusion of Contemporary Culture
- The Connection between the Living and the Dead
- The Relationship of Human Beings to the Spiritual World
- Notebook Entries for the Lecture of February 18, 1916
- Admission Ticket for the Lecture of December 3, 1916
This volume is a translation from German of « Die Verbindung zwischen Lebenden und Toten » (GA 168).
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
Christopher Bamford is Editor in Chief, Emeritus, for SteinerBooks and its imprints. A Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, he has lectured, taught, and written widely on Western spiritual and esoteric traditions. He is the author of The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity (1990) and An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West(2003). He has also translated and edited numerous books, including Celtic Christianity: Ecology and Holiness (1982);Homage to Pythagoras: Rediscovering Sacred Science; and The Noble Traveller: The Life and Writings of O. V. de L. Milosz (all published by Lindisfarne Books).