musings on the material world & death – Eddy & Steiner’s perspectives

Before I dive into Lecture Four: Devachan, I want to pause and contemplate how Eddy and Steiner talk about the material world, and death. I am only three lectures into Steiner’s work, so my views on this could change as I learn more about Steiner’s perspectives.

Through out Science and Health, the material world is intrinsically linked with sin, disease/sickness and death*. Invoking Jesus, Eddy writes: “He came teaching and showing men how to destroy sin, sickness, and death” (Science & Health 6:27-28).

Every supposed pleasure in sin will furnish more than its equivalent of pain, until belief in material life and sin is destroyed. To reach heaven, the harmony of being, we must understand the divine Principle of being. [emphasis added]

For Eddy, the material (including, but not limited to, sin, pleasure, and husbands) are a distraction from God.  She enumerates five erroneous postulates (S&H p. 91-92) reflecting on how  “the denial of material selfhood aids the discernment of man’s spiritual and eternal individuality, and destroys the erroneous knowledge gained from matter or through what are termed the material senses(emphasis added).

Eddy is really big on the unreality of matter, the denial of the material world, and how, eventually, we will recognize that we are spiritual beings… which sounds like a special level of hell all on it’s own.

I am not as well versed in Steiner as I am in Eddy, and I’m sure my ideas will develop further as I work my way through his lectures. I find Steiner’s perspective differently difficult, but simultaneously easier to relate to on a metaphorical level as he acknowledges the physical aspects of the human experience.

Steiner’s vision of man is multi-faceted, with a physical form, and spiritual elements, in stark contrast to Eddy’s man is a spiritual idea of God (nothing more/less). Steiner acknowledges the physical/material world, as well as other worlds. For Eddy, there is only the spiritual, the rest is an erroneous lie.

Death gets complicated for Steiner, as the soul then goes to a purgatory-esque state, kamaloka, before it can be reborn. In this purgatory, it has to overcome the desires it experienced during its physical experience. Steiner does seem to be passing some judgment on the souls here similar to Eddy’s admonishment that “a great sacrifice of material things must precede this advanced spiritual understanding” (S&H p. 16) — but this is worked out after the death of the physical body, and before rebirth.

Steiner points out living a less-material life will cut back on this struggle in kamaloka, but as far as I can tell, Steiner falls short of lumping acknowledgement of the material body/world with sin, disease and death. The experience in the physical realm are something to be learned from, and worked through, as 1/3 of them will be carried forth into the next life — I could be totally wrong on Steiner’s views of this, but that’s what I read it to be.

In both cases, the departed individual has to do some “working out” of the problems they dealt with in their previous life. For Steiner, the person then goes on to be reincarnated (?) — I’m unclear on the exact process, while Eddy’s departed continues to “work out” whatever the issue is until they reach a totally clear understanding, and they “become as the angels” (which sounds pretty dull).


*The sin, disease and death combination appears 14 times through Science & Health, and sin, sickness and death appears together 55 times. Science & Health as a searchable PDF can be found: http://christiansciencemedia.org/files/2010/03/Science-and-Health-with-Key-to-the-Scriptures.pdf

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