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An Outline of Occult Science

it retains it after death in the form of a craving which thirsts in vain for gratification. We can form an idea of what man then experiences only by imagining some one suffering from burning thirst in a region where, far and wide, there is no water to be found. This is the predicament of the ego after death, as long as it retains ungratified desires for the pleasures of the outer world, and has no organs by means of which to satisfy them. Of course the burning thirst, serving as a comparison for the condition of the ego after death, must be thought of as enormously increased, and it must be imagined as extending to all desires still existing, for which all possibility of gratification is lacking. The next condition of the ego consists in freeing itself from this bond of attraction to the outer world. With regard to this world, it has to attain purification and liberation. It must be cleansed of all wishes which it has created while in the body, and which have no native rights in the spiritual world. As an object is caught and burned up by fire, so is the world of desire, described above, broken up and destroyed after death. A vista is then opened into that world which occult science calls the “consuming fire” of the spirit. This fire seizes upon desires of a sensual nature which however are not rooted in the spirit. Revelations of this kind which occult science is bound to make with regard to such events may appear hopeless and terrible. It may seem a fearful thing that a hope for the realization of which sense-organs are required, should after death be transformed into despair, and that a wish that can be fulfilled only by the physical world should be changed into torturing deprivation. Yet we can hold such an opinion only as long as we fail to realize that the wishes and desires seized by the “consuming fire” after death do not, in a higher sense, represent forces beneficial to life but destructive to it. By means of these forces the ego binds itself to the sense-world more closely than is necessary, in order to draw from it all the experience it requires. For the sense-world is a manifestation of