People come together drawn by a collective motivation to seek truth and order, or to activate the will towards a common goal. Our study group aims for both. In a book titled Reincarnation and Karma, a compilation of five lectures by Steiner, he makes a bold statement: "The whole of life I now lead has no foundation for me if I cannot know anything of my former incarnation."
Our study group, comprised of anthroposophists and those new to Steiner's works, all academics with advanced degrees, educators, administrators, and authors, artists and musicians, philosophers and scientists, does not simply accept things as written. Even Steiner would agree, we must discover the truths within us, we must first seek to understand. Then we can act with full intensity.
So, in diving into the first lecture (some have read the book more than once), the subject opened the floodgates as important questions and concerns poured forth!
Steiner poses the first question: "To what extent can we find, in the facts of life, proof that the conception of repeated earth lives and karma is true?"
The group offered more to ponder:
"If knowing that our abilities in this life are determined by faculties of a former incarnation, can this lead to a position of surrender and non-accountability?""What is a soul-kernel?"
"Upon death, we discard the physical body and our most penetrating thoughts. What then does the soul take with it into the spiritual realm?"
"If thoughts are so central to Steiner's philosophy, why does the soul not take them with it? Or does it, in a different form?"
"Is there a practical application, a usefulness, in knowing that my soul had former incarnations?"
"When Steiner says we must have knowledge of former incarnations, does he mean we should have a literal and direct knowledge of a former life, or does it mean we should have an openness to the general concept of renincarnation?"
"Does that knowledge mean being mindful of consequences?"
"Does that knowledge mean the acceptance of a spiritual reality?"
"Are we anxious for meaning?"
"What is the origin of the concepts and beliefs of reincarnation and karma?"
In the course of our discussion in the next few weeks, we hope to answer some of those questions.
To start, I would like to present a thing that Steiner describes in this first lecture that, for me, may answer some of those questions (well, at least, it will help me answer mine), and that is the word "force." Steiner uses this word to describe an intensified form of the thoughts or whatever else that is passed into the next life.
In our layered human existence, the kernel is our striving. Striving is a force. A powerful force. If in your striving you have layered positive thoughts and pure will, the force that Steiner speaks of will carry much weight in the spiritual realm. And into the next incarnation.