Explorations in Karmic Biography 

Sarah Putnam

The human spirit is no more created anew when it begins its earthly life than a man is newly created every morning.

Rudolf Steiner, Theosophy, Ch. 2.

Steiner had much to say about karma and how it is expressed in life. He gave numerous examples of soul capacities, patterns of being, friendships, and karmic meetings extending from one lifetime to the next. (See the chapter on reincarnation in Theosophy or the 8 volumes of Karmic Relationships, for examples.) Yet most anthroposophists seem to have very little idea of how to relate these examples to their own lives. How can we relate our biographies to an understanding of reincarnation and karma? Is there any way of understanding our karma by looking at our individual biographies? Can we gain a true experience of that being in us that passes through repeated earth lives and could lead to insight into the secrets of reincarnation and, perhaps, even of karma?

In general, people often misinterpret things connected with these questions. At first we try to think it through, to apply the intellect. We reflect on our biographies searching for proof only to find ourselves caught in abstraction, without any inner certainty that these abstractions are anything but illusion. Steiner is very clear that thoughts do not pass with us from one life to the next, although they may become soul capacities. But enthusiasm, perceptions and feelings, and the will called into being by our thoughts – these pass through the gate of death with us.