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Chapter III. Sleep and Death


take an example. He caused some pain in an outburst of anger in the fortieth year of his former life. After death, the other's pain came before him as a force which had interfered with the evolution of his ego. It is likewise with all such events of his former life. On his re-entrance into physical life these hindrances to his evolution confront the ego anew. As, on the threshold of death, a sort of memory-picture arose before the human ego, so there now arises a vision of the life approaching. Again he sees a picture, this time showing all the obstacles which he has to clear away, if he is to advance in evolution. And what he thus sees becomes the starting-point for forces which he must bring with him into his new life. The picture of the pain he has caused the other man becomes a force which impels the ego, on entering life again, to make amends for this pain. Thus the previous life has a determining effect on the new one. The deeds of the new life are in a certain way caused by those of the former life. This connection, following the law, between an earlier and later existence is to be looked upon as the “Law of Destiny”; it has become usual to designate it “Karma,” a term borrowed from oriental wisdom. The building up of a new set of bodies, however, is not the only task incumbent upon man between death and a new birth. While this building up is taking place, man lives outside the physical world. That world, however, continues to evolve during this time. The surface of the earth changes in comparatively short periods of time. What aspect did those regions which are now occupied by Germany bear a few thousand years ago? When man appears on earth in a new existence, the earth rarely looks the same as it did at the time of his last incarnation. During his absence from the earth all sorts of changes have occurred. Now hidden forces are also at work in this alteration of the face of the earth, proceeding from that very world in which man finds himself after death; and he himself must co-operate with these forces in the transformation of the earth. He can do so only



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