This word is often used, but who really understands what it means? “Earthbound” sounds as if it were some terrible punishment. Most people have a mild sense of horror about those who are still earthbound and fear them, although the significance of the word is not that bad. Certainly there is much that is dark to make this or that soul earthbound, but mostly they are quite simple matters which have to lead to this condition.
Let us, for instance, take the case of: The sins of the fathers revenge themselves unto the third and fourth generation!
A child puts some question or other to the family concerning the beyond, or about God, something it has heard in school or church. The father curtly dismisses it with the remark: “Stop such stupid nonsense! When I am dead it is all over.” The child is startled and begins to doubt. The dismissive remarks of father or mother are repeated. The child also hears the same from others, and finally accepts their opinion.
The hour now arrives when the father must pass on. To his dismay he realizes that that he has not ceased to exist. The ardent wish will now awaken within him to impart this knowledge to his child. This wish binds him to the child. But the child neither hears him nor feels his nearness; for it now lives in the conviction that its father has ceased to exist. This stands like a firm, impenetrable wall between it and the father’s efforts. The father’s anguish however, at having to watch that the child follows the wrong path through his influence, leading further and further away from the truth, and the fear that on this wrong path the child will not be able to avoid the danger of sinking lower and mainly that it is much more easily exposed now serve, at the same time, as his so-called punishment for having led the child onto this path. Very seldom will he be able to lead it to this recognition in one way or another. He must witness how his wrong idea is conveyed from his child to the children of his child and so on, all as a result of his own failing. He cannot be released until one of his descendants recognizes and follows the right way and helps influence the others, whereby he will gradually be freed and can begin to think about his own ascent.
Here is another case: A habitual smoker takes over with him the strong craving to smoke, which is intuitive, thus spiritual. This craving turns into a burning desire and the thought of satisfying his desire becomes a burning desire and holds him where he can obtain gratification... i.e. on earth. He finds this by pursuing smokers and enjoying their intuitive sensing with them. If no heavy karma binds such persons to any other place, they feel quite well pleasant and very seldom become conscious of the fact that this is really a punishment. Only he who can survey the whole of existence recognizes the punishment in the inevitable reciprocal action, which prevents the person in question from rising higher as long as the perpetual desire for gratification by “experiencing” binds him to people still living on earth in the flesh, through whose sensations alone he can find co-satisfaction.
So it is also with sexual gratification, with drinking, yes, even with a propensity for eating. Here, too, many are bound by this propensity to rummage through kitchens and cellars, and to be present when food is being enjoyed by others so as to at least share a small part of their enjoyment. Strictly speaking, this, of course, is “punishment.” But the craving of these “earthbound” souls, which overshadows all else, prevents them from perceiving it as such. Therefore, the yearning for something nobler and higher cannot grow so strong as to become their principal experience, which would free them from the baser desire and uplift them. They never realize the opportunity they are missing until this desire for gratification, which at best can only be a minor partial gratification, enjoyed through others, on this account slowly wanes and dies out. Then other sensations accompanied by lesser craving, which he still carries with him, come forward and rise to first place, as a result of which they immediately become experience and with that attain to the power of reality. The nature of the sensations which have come to life bring him to the place where there are similar types, either higher or lower, until this, too, like the first one, is gradually released through weaning, only to be followed by the next one to be dealt with. This purification of all the dross he took over with him will be achieved in due course. Will he then not come to a standstill somewhere at a last intuitive sensation? Or will the power of his intuition be diminished? No! For when at last base sensations are gradually outlived or discarded, and ascent begins, then the constant yearning for what is higher and purer awakens and steadily drives him upwards. This is the normal course! But there are a thousand incidents. The danger of a fall or of remaining stationary is much greater than when in the flesh on earth. If you have already attained to a certain height and yield but for a moment to a base intuition, then this intuition will immediately become an experience and thereby reality. You become denser and heavier and you will sink down into homogeneous regions. Thus your horizon narrows and you will gradually have to work yourself upwards again, if it does not happen that you sink lower and lower. “Watch and pray!” is therefore no empty phrase. At the present moment the ethereal part in you is still protected by your body as if held with a firm anchor. But when so-called death brings severance and decomposition of the body, you are then without this protection and, being ethereal, you will be irresistibly attracted by homogeneous species, whether high or low. You cannot escape. Only one great driving power can help you upwards, your strong volition towards that which is good and sublime. This will develop into a yearning and an intuitive perception, becoming also an experience and a reality, in accordance with the law of the Ethereal World, which knows only intuitive perception. Therefore, prepare yourself and start already now with this volition so that when you are called away, which can happen at any hour, it is not overshadowed by too powerful an earthly desire! Beware, man, and keep watch!