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What is the soul and what is the long journey it undertakes? Consider as analogy a child visiting Disneyland for the first time. What does it want? To ride on every ride. On the carousel, it feels joyful. The child gets off that ride and becomes bored and walks around looking for another ride. Once on the Dumbo ride the child feels like it's flying through the air. In the Submarine, it feels like a fish swimming through the ocean. In the Haunted Mansion, it feels spooky. On the Matterhorn it feels thrilled and excited as its bobsled hurtles through tunnels. One child, but in every ride it feels like a different personality. Soon the child has been on all the rides and is ready to leave the amusement park after finishing a grand tour. One child has gone through many adventures, felt many things, evinced many personalities, and the amusement park will no longer hold the same allure as it did before. Consider the child entering the park as the spirit which has descended to earthly form and the soul as the specific personality evoked by each ride. The park is the soul world. Each ride is a different lifetime in the soul world where the spirit learns and perfects itself. When the last ride is over, the long journey of the soul is over and the spirit no longer needs to return to the park.
[page vii] Steiner speaks of the soul as being the mediator between the body, on the one hand, and the spirit on the other hand. And in his explanation of the journey of the individual human "I Am" between lives there is a point when the "soul world" is left behind and the purely "spiritual world" is traversed before again beginning the descent into a different human personality (or soul) for further perfection.
This is the long journey of the soul through many lifetimes on Earth. One individuality or spirit which enters the earthly sphere with a different personality and body, lives through one lifetime, and spends time looking for the experiences it wishes for the next ride in the grand amusement park we call Earth. It returns in the next lifetime as the opposite sex after a length of time has passed so that the cultural conditions have changed(1). All this so that the spirit may continue its perfection via the soul's experiences on Earth.
[page vii, viii] The reader for whom the concept of the soul journeying between, and through many, lives seems strange will do well to contemplate the extent to which it can be seen to be soundly based on the ancient words of the Bible itself. If the day for new insight is upon us, what is here can be a momentous spiritual venture.
For that child in Disneyland, about halfway through its visit, a caregiver sits it down and explains that its visit is part of its education, and that when it has completed its journey through all the rides of the park, the child will leave, the park will be destroyed, and the child will enter adulthood(2). This is a sobering thought and not one that a caregiver will share until the child has completed a large portion of the rides and has become ready to understand the reason that the park exists. We are each that child, to some extent or the other, and have been sheltered from the knowledge of the park we are in, up until now. The knowledge of how the Bible reveals reincarnation coming to us is an indication we have reached the point in our long journey through our earthly park where we are ready to understand the purpose of our visit so that we may make the best of the rest of our time in the park.
Did you ever take a child to a pediatrician and have the doctor give it a lollipop as a treat when you left? What if the child began to think that the important thing about going to the doctor's office was the lollipop? Wouldn't a prudent parent want to explain at some point the importance of the doctor's visit far exceeded the importance of the lollipop? A child may easily misunderstand life that way, and, in a sense, most Christians are still children when it comes to understanding the multivalent nature of the Bible. Like children they accept the lollipop offered and go happily away with empty calories while the deep nourishment is left mainly untapped and untouched.
Smith gives us in his Preliminary Remarks three reasons for this book on reincarnation vis-a-vis the Bible: First, he felt he had not dealt with it sufficiently in his earlier book The Burning Bush; second, it had not been dealt with in other works, and then he says:
[page 2] Third, I was convinced that reincarnation is the sine qua non for an adequate understanding of the biblical message for our time, and that its reality is shown in the Bible itself. Of course, the word reincarnation is not used in the Bible, stuck out like a lollipop for any nondiscerning reader to recognize . . ."
In effect, the Bible does not offer a salient presentation of the word reincarnation so that, like a lollipop, even a child could recognize its presence, but it requires some adult processing of the multi-faceted and fractally-nested meanings of the passages of the Bible. As a result, it is possible to miss completely the essence of reincarnation and karma as it is presented in the Bible, up until now.
One must understand clearly what Smith means by the sub-title, "How the Bible Reveals Reincarnation" -- he is not saying how the Bible teaches reincarnation. We say to our children many times that there are things we have to tell them that we cannot tell them until later.
[page 2] It is important for our purposes to distinguish what the Bible teaches (which is more susceptible to opinion) from what it reveals, particularly considering Christ's words, "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot hear them now (Jn 16, 12; cf. Heb 9,5)."
Smith puts it very well when he tells us that "reincarnation and karma are symbiotic, presupposing each other and coexisting in complementarity." (Page 3) Reincarnation is the returning to an earthly body after a time of spiritualization. Karma is the debt we carry with us from a previous lifetime. Guess what we do with our karma when we return in a subsequent lifetime? That's right: we set about correcting or balancing the deeds we did in a previous lifetime until we have paid off our karmic debt to the very last penny. Without reincarnation, the concept of karma is meaningless. Without karmic debt to pay off, reincarnation loses it central focus. Thus, you will not find one without the other. Neither is taught in the Bible, but both are revealed by passage after passage therein. It is this revealing that Smith has set himself the task of doing in this book. He shines the MRI(3) of spiritual science on the Bible and the passages which reveal reincarnation and karma light up and sparkle to our attention. Old familiar passages take on a new light of meaning and further our understanding of the meanings kept waiting for us, in this time, in this place -- understandings of our goal as adult human beings here on Earth (the physical world) and in Heaven (the spiritual world).
Smith pointed out in his essay "Forgiven Sins" in The Burning Bush [BB], that Rudolf Steiner has shown us that there are two kinds of consequence from every sin we commit against another. One he labels "subjective karma" and the other "objective karma". Smith relates these to the equivalent in civil and criminal actions or claims. Subjective karma comprises the actions against another person while objective karma the actions against the cosmos.
[page 16] Objective karma is the debt that every sin creates to humanity as a whole and in fact to the entirety of creation. Every sin creates or feeds evil beings in the non-physical realm, and these evil beings manifest in the forms of disease, natural disasters, and all sorts of misfortune for humanity as a whole. We are unable to lift this karmic consequence from humanity once we have loosed it by our sin. When we accept Christ, he takes this karma upon his shoulders, pays that debt so to speak. This is the legitimate aspect of the doctrine of forgiveness of sins, the lifting of that which we cannot do for ourselves. But scripture is full of the admonition that we must pay our just debts to others. This aspect is what Steiner calls "subjective" debt. If we were to draw an analogy, we might say that the criminal aspect of our action can be settled with the state by the prosecution, but the state has no constitutional power to do away with the civil claim our victim has against us. This is essentially the way we distinguish between the karma Christ lifts from us as to humanity (i.e., the "state") and the karma we must still settle with our victim (i.e., the civil action; Mt 5,25-26). It is outrageously immoral for a Christian to even want to avoid this debt. Yet we know that we are unable to repay all those we have aggrieved in this life, hence the necessity to do it in another--according to the higher law. No part of that law can pass away until it is all accomplished.
Regarding subjective karma you may be wondering, "How do I balance some deed I have done to Person X in a future lifetime?" First, Person X would have to reincarnate during the time you reincarnate, then you would have to meet Person X and have an interaction during which you counter-balance your deeds from the previous lifetime. Steiner tells us that one reincarnates as male one lifetime and female the next. If you are a male this lifetime and encounter a female with whom you have a karmic debt to balance, chances are you were a female when you engendered the debt and she was male. Now, having reversed the sexes from your previous lifetimes, you meet to complete the karmic balancing. You are in a new cultural period. The world is completely different. You may be different ages this time while previously you were about the same age. And to complicate the matter, neither of you remember consciously your previous lifetime together nor the karmic deed. And yet, you and Person X will manage to meet at some time during that lifetime and the circumstances of that meeting at some time will provide an opportunity to balance the debt from the previous lifetime. This is the mechanism by which what Steiner calls "subjective karma" is balanced. Note that subjective karma can only be balanced by subsequent deeds of the individual and cannot be paid for by someone else and therefore subjective karma cannot be redeemed, paid for, or forgiven.
Objective karma is different in several aspects: it is a debt incurred by virtue of our human freedom which allows us to sin against the world. These sins can only be redeemed by Christ.
[page 16] Objective karma is the debt that every sin creates to humanity as a whole and in fact to the entirety of creation. It is a very real event in the spiritual world. Every sin creates or feeds evil beings in the nonphysical realm, which manifest in the forms of disease, natural disasters and all sorts of misfortune for humanity as a whole. We are unable to lift this karmic consequence from humanity once we have loosed it in the spiritual world by our sin. When we accept Christ, he takes this spiritual world karma upon his shoulders, pays that debt so to speak. This is the legitimate aspect of the doctrine of forgiveness of sins, the lifting of what we cannot do for ourselves.
Smith gives us an analogy in the law to help us distinguish subjective and objective karma. If we commit a crime against a person, the State will balance our criminal action via its prosecutor and the court system. That portion of the balancing is the "objective karma" portion which Christ can help us to achieve. But there is still the balancing due to the person we have harmed which can be settled via a civil suit. This is the "subjective karma" portion which we must each individually be accountable for and this account will remain unbalanced until we balance it, whether in this lifetime or some future lifetime. There is no one else to turn to for forgiveness of a subjective karma debt. It remains until it is completely balanced, or as it is spoken of the Bible in several places, to the last penny(4).
One might wonder why the knowledge of karma and reincarnation was suppressed for 2,000 years and why it is being revealed during this time. The ancient peoples retained knowledge of their previous lifetimes, but gradually this knowledge began to fade until the "deep darkness" of about two millennia ago(5). It was then that Christ came to Earth "in the fullness of time." With the fading of knowledge of karma and reincarnation came the discussion about whether these two processes even existed, and soon even that discussion faded away. Lacking the lollipop of reincarnation sticking out in the Bible, no one found reason to discuss the possibility of pre-birth existence or post-birth existence in a human form. Instead, one learned to make the best one could of the one lifetime one had in human form, and Western religions made light of the Eastern religions which continued to teach the reality of karma and reincarnation.
[page 20] As noted earlier, Steiner even makes the point that reincarnation was not to be taught within Christendom for two thousand years so that every soul would have the opportunity to incarnate at least once in each sex during the time that knowledge was suppressed. It had to be so, for the common knowledge among ancient humanity had the effect of deemphasizing the critical importance of each lifetime on earth, a point Christ counters by his parable of the talents (Mt 25, 14, 14-30; Lk 10, 12-27).
This covers the why of the suppression of knowledge of reincarnation and karma. What about the how? Apart from the gradual slip into materialism which caused a veil to fall over our view of previous lifetimes, there was another way to hasten and to ensure our forgetting. When alcohol is consumed, even in small quantities, it will act to poison or disable any clairvoyant vision in a person. The consumption of alcoholic wine in the Last Supper and its repetition in Communion services to this day has acted over the millennia to defuse the capability of conscious recall of one's previous lifetime. This explains how the possibility of Christian priests, who share Communion with alcoholic wine, teaching reincarnation and karma to the religious and laity has been eliminated over the past two thousand years.
Rudolf Steiner as a native clairvoyant from childhood was able to perceive the reality of karma and reincarnation and ask and get answers for many of the questions of our time. Questions that would have remained unanswered but for his innate abilities combined with his intellectual curiosity and his ability to share the answers in his books and over 6,000 lectures he gave from 1900 through 1925. These lectures were given in German and only became available in English translation about 1965. This explains why, dear Reader, you may have not heard about reincarnation and karma from a knowledgeable Western writer before -- especially from a writer who can explain to us how Christ came to fulfill the promises of all religions.
[page 22] What does it mean that Christ was the fulfillment of all true religions? We've seen above that within Judaism itself Christ spoke to Moses and to Isaiah who thus perceived the Christ spirit in its descent. Far earlier the prehistoric Zarathustra (ca. 5,000 B.C.) in ancient Persia had seen the descending Christ in the Sun's aura and called it Ahura Mazda (Great Aura); see I-19 at p. 573 in BB. Later the Egyptians perceived the divinity of the Great Sun Spirit. At the birth of the Jesus child in Matthew's Gospel, those from Persia of the spiritual heritage of Zarathustra, called "wise men" or "magi" (Mt 2,1-2), recognized their master as the "star"descending over Bethlehem. Though the early Christians found it necessary to distinguish themselves from the pagan religions, in failing to fully comprehend the Christ event they also failed to adequately reflect upon the fact that the ancient peoples had perceived the great Spirit descending. It was in this sense that the Incarnation fulfilled all the true ancient religions.
How could the people of Christ's time know about reincarnation and karma and not consider it significant enough to talk about and write about? It is known that they shared a shared belief that they were living in the last days when Christ would return and all of material creation would be destroyed upon his return. Why would anyone concern oneself with a next life on an Earth that would soon no longer exist?
[page 24] But as I reread Geddes MacGregor's books I saw in them something that had previously passed me by. The point was made that even though reincarnation was accepted by many if not most of the people, who reflected upon such matters, as a matter of past reality, their expectation of an imminent end to all creation as it had been known made that knowledge irrelevant for the future. In other words, what was part of the history of creation up to that time would soon perish as a matter of spiritual development along with every other aspect of creation. Anyone writing in that frame of mind would not consider the past reality of reincarnation to be of significance for a future when everything would be changed cataclysmically upon Christ's return. Thus, the general theological position that the early Church universally expected an imminent return of Christ, even up through the time of the Gospels in the first century, naturally explains why none of their first century writings dealt explicitly with reincarnation. In the light of their understanding it would have no meaning for the future, for all would come to an end without the possibility of living souls returning again to Earth.
Rudolf Steiner wrote in several places that sin or evil is a good out of its time. In this next passage Smith reveals one place in the Bible which confirms this way of understanding. Bad fruit is merely good fruit taken from a tree too early or too late. Everyone will die in due time, but taking another's or one's own life prematurely is an evil.
[page 70] Neil Douglas-Klotz, in The Hidden Gospel, Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramiac Jesus (HDNG), pp. 1 and 133, says "In Aramaic and in all the Semitic languages, the word for 'good' primarily means ripe, and the word for 'corrupt' or 'evil' primarily means unripe. He thus suggests that Matthew 7,17, if spoken in the Aramaic, would say "A ripe tree brings forth ripe fruit, an unripe tree brings forth unripe fruit." The meaning is changed from being good or bad to simply being not yet completed -- a work in process.
Smith pulls one rabbit after another out of the hat in this book. The Akasha or akashic record is the next surprise he has in store for us when he identifies it as the "heavenly book" in which all deeds are written and equates it to the "Book of Jashar." Here is a definition of the akashic record:
[page 161] Akasha and Akashic record are terms which have not yet made it into many dictionaries, though widely recognized and used in esotericism. The following definition is found in 1 Brit 185:Akashic record, in occultism, a compendium of pictorial records, or "memories," of all events, actions, thoughts, and feelings that have occurred since the beginning of time.
Smith lists at least fourteen Old Testament citations which clearly point to the Book of Jashar as referring to the akashic records. Two of the citations are given below:
[page 164] Josh 10,13: And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar?
2 Sam 1,17-18: And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar.
Smith points out to us that the passages about judgment based on the heavenly book (Book of Jashar) supports the reality of a soul journeying through multiple lives during the Earth stage of evolution and being judged once during the final days talked of in Revelation when "suns and stars will rise and set no more."
[page 168] Heretofore, all the passages that speak about judgment based on the heavenly book have been interpreted as supporting the idea of one life followed by a final judgment after which comes eternal heaven or hell. Now it can be seen that these passages [equally support] the view that reincarnation is a spiritual reality.
We have today lost the circadian ability to view our own karma. To view our karma is equivalent to being able to see our previous or future reincarnation because it is there our karma would reveal itself. Smith here explains the events surrounding Isaiah's healing of Hezekiah (2 K 20, 1-21).
[page 173] What is told, when these features are understood, is that Isaiah was able to lead Hezekiah to a spiritual level where he was able to view his own karma and to see what was thus in store for him as well as to heal the illness that was upon him (for all illness is karmically related and can often be healed during earthly life by recognizing and addressing its source). This is the meaning of his shadow, reflecting his spirit, going back ten steps. He was able through his spirit to look, to "go back," into his own karmic past.
There is a short scene in the movie "Ben Hur" which illustrates that Jesus healed people by showing them their karma when they looked into His eyes. Jesus comes to Juda ben Hur's aid with water. The guard who had moments ago prohibited anyone from giving Juda any water comes up angrily to lash out at this interloper who was blatantly ignoring his orders, but upon seeing Jesus's face, the guard backs off, his face screwed up in intense trepidation, exactly as if he had seen the karmic consequences of the deeds of his own life. The effects of perceiving one's deeds can deter one from acts of evil as well as heal the illness which besets one. (See Faith, Love, Hope.)
[page 176] Steiner tells us that the brain of Abraham was unique, being more "chiseled" than had developed in humanity before his time. He was to be the founder of arithmetic and a more intellectual and earthbound type of thinking.
The above passage is interesting because what Steiner refers to as "chiseled" is the outer folds of the brain which is called the neocortex or "new cortex". It was the addition of those additional folds we call the neocortex which led to the human ability for retaining cognitive memory, an essential requirement for arithmetic and what is considered as intelligence today. The advent of the neocortex and its expanded ("more chiseled") folds of cortex was marked by the more vertical forehead of Cro-Magnon skulls versus the rear-sloping foreheads of the earlier Neanderthal skulls, the neocortex requiring more skull space than the older, smaller, less-chiseled cortex. Thus, we have in these two types of skulls an archaeological record of a quantum jump in human cognition.
Smith shares with us a new way of understanding the phrase "reborn Christian" when he cites a passage from a Rudolf Steiner lecture (The Easter Festival in the Evolution of the Mysteries):
[page 234] While the moon forces determine the human being, permeate us with an inner necessity so that we must act according to our instincts, our temperament, our emotions, in a word, our whole physical and etheric nature, the spiritual sun forces free us from this. They dissolve, so to speak, the forces of compulsion, and it is really through their agency that we become free.
Everyone knows the influence of the Full Moon on human emotions. This common knowledge reveals the spiritual scientific truth about the control the Moon has had on human instincts, temperaments, and emotions since the beginning(6). As a result, ancient humans lived under full control of their emotions up until the age of thirty years old, after which they became free from the control of emotions by coming under the influence of the Sun. This time of becoming free was experiencing as a new birth, a second birth, a time of being reborn. Note the many connections: Jahweh of the Old Testament was a Moon God and gave Moses "commandments" which bound him and his people out of necessity to follow them. With the advent of Christ, a Sun Being or Son of God, arrives on Earth in the New Testament to bring humanity to a new freedom which is characterized by light and love in one main guiding principle to practice in freedom, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
[page 234, 235] In ancient times the influence of the moon and that of the sun were sharply divided. Around the age of thirty (cf. Lk 3,23) people simply became sun people, that is, free, whereas up until then they had been moon people, or unfree. Nowadays these two overlap; even in childhood the sun forces act along with the moon forces, and the moon forces continue to work on us in later years. Thus in our time necessity and freedom intermingle.
See Figure 1 which illustrates how the Moon and Sun forces acted on the ancient peoples causing an experience of rebirth in freedom at age 30 and how the Moon and Sun forces overlap from birth in people today. Thus the phrase "reborn Christians" can be seen to mean people who freely receive Christ at any age, not out of necessity or a consequence of how they were raised, but out of their own conscious decisions made by their Ego, i.e., by their own free will. Instead of freedom being something that everyone receives at age 30, it is now something that is intermixed with necessity from an early age.
This potent mixture of necessity and freedom is nowhere more evident than in every generation's teenagers who rebel from the necessities established by their parents while still being unable to deal maturely with the freedom life has accorded them from birth. They wish to freely choose their own unique hair styles and clothing styles, but this paradox seems to elude them: their freely chosen styles must match, of necessity, the style of their own peers.
Steiner said that discussion begins when knowledge disappears. The exigent demands for an exact definition of transubstantiation only appeared when the knowledge of the spiritual reality of transubstantiation was lost. Smith helps us recover that spiritual reality in this next passage:
[page 249] When Christ, through his shed blood (see the "Blood" essay), entered into the Earth's etheric body, he entered the etheric body of every living earthly creature. This is the meaning of his statement that he would be with us till the end of the "age" (Mt 28,20). It is also precisely the meaning of our eating of his body and drinking of his blood when we partake of the Eucharistic meal, for every grain of the field and grape of the vine lives because he has infused his very saving nature into all of the etheric Earth, the etheric or living body of every living creature. This is the true "transubstantiation" that occurs, nor has it ever truly meant otherwise.
The Second Coming of Christ is another concept which seems open to many interpretations and much discussion. Smith outlines for us Steiner's clarification of what is meant by the Second Coming, pointing Christ having already returned "in glory," where "in glory" refers specifically to in etheric form. For over fifty years, Christ has become available to human consciousness in the etheric world. Anyone who calls upon Christ has the possibility of receiving His real presence in one's life in that moment. Many examples of such events have been recorded in recent decades.
[page 261] Christ's "second coming" is described in the essay "Second Coming" in BB. It is his return to human consciousness in the etheric world. This stage of human evolution commenced early in the twentieth century and will continue for several millennia during which time more and more human souls will attain the level of perception of the etheric Christ. The return is not and will never again be in the physical world. That was a "once for all" event as Hebrews 9,28 and other scriptures clearly say. Christ tells us that we should never believe anyone who claims to see him returned in the physical body (Mt 24,23; Lk 17,23-24).
In a short review I cannot do justice to all the evidence Edward Reaugh Smith has accumulated to illustrate how extensively the "Bible reveals reincarnation," I can only suggest that you, dear Reader, acquire the book itself and be prepared for some detailed biblical exegesis. Notwithstanding this, one does not need to be a biblical scholar to read "The Soul's Long Journey" and come away convinced by the abundance of biblical references of the reality of reincarnation and karma.
Footnote 1.This is an only approximation of the general rule that each individuality must incarnate once as a male and once as a female in each cultural age (i.e., essentially 2,160 years), thus implying the necessity of at least two incarnations per age, though there may be more. Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2.While this metaphor talks about one child, it is true for all of humanity or every person. Each person's soul will reincarnate into successive bodies until the end of time on the Earth when the planet will be vaporized and those humans who have reached spiritual maturity will survive as spiritual beings from then on. Rightly understood, the Bible from Genesis to Revelations chronicles the events of the "soul's long journey." Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3.MRI -- Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a modern form of the X-Ray which stimulates the magnetic properties of the atoms of the human body and creates an image of them when they resonate with the magnetic field. Much less harmful to the body than X-Ray imaging, the MRI process produces much better detail of the body's internal structures. Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Footnote 4.Two passages of note are "payment of the last penny" in Mt 5,26 and fulfilling every jot and tittle as in Mt 5,18. Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Footnote 5.In a private communication, Smith wrote to me on June 10, 2005:
The "deep darkness" was the greatest at that time, but the knowledge "began to fade" a good while before that, even as far back as Moses and beyond. It was gradual. Isaiah's chapter 6 (written in the 8th century B.C.) indicated the loss of vision was getting severe and later prophets moaned the same thing until by the 5th century prophecy was pretty well gone. The book of Daniel supposedly may have come later, but it is not really one of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible, though involving apocalyptic type of vision.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
Footnote 6.In Steiner's Occult Science, one can study how the human being's astral body was formed during the Old Moon phase of human evolution. Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
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