Rudolf Steiner Archive

chapter iii


3. The Spiritland

Before the spirit can be observed on its further pilgrimage, the region it enters must first be examined. It is the “World of the Spirit.” This world is so unlike the physical that whatever is said about it will appear fantastic to one who is willing only to trust his physical senses. And what has already been said in regard to the world of the soul holds good here to a still higher degree; that is, to say, one has to use analogies in order to describe it. For our speech, which for the most part serves only for the realities of the senses, is not richly blessed with expressions directly applicable to the “Spiritland.” It is therefore especially necessary here to ask the reader to take much that is said as an indication only. For everything described here is so unlike the physical world that it can be depicted only in this way. The author is ever conscious of how inadequately his account describes the experiences of this region, owing to the imperfect means of expression in language that is adapted entirely to the physical world.

It must above all be emphasised that this world is woven out of the substance of which human thought consists. (The word “substance,” too, is here used in a far from usual sense.) But thought, as it lives in earthly man, is only a shadow picture, a phantom of its true being. As the shadow of an object on the wall is related to the real object which throws this shadow, so is the thought that makes its appearance through a human brain related to the being in the Spiritland which corresponds to this thought. Now when the spiritual sense of man is awakened he actually perceives this thought-being, just as the eye of the senses perceives the table or the chair. He moves in a region of thought-beings. The corporeal eye perceives the lion, and the thinking that is directed to the material world thinks the thought “lion” as a shadow, a shadowy picture. In “Spiritland” the spiritual eye sees the thought “lion” as truly as the corporeal eye sees the physical lion. Here we may again refer to the analogy already used regarding the Soul-land. Just as the environment of a man born blind and then operated upon appear all at once with the new qualities of colour and light, so is the environment of the person who learns to use his spiritual eye seen to be filled with a new world, the world of living thoughts or spirit-beings. There are to be seen in this world, first the spiritual archetypes of all things and beings which are present in the physical and in the soul worlds. Imagine the picture of a painter existing in the mind before it is painted. This indicates what is meant by the expression “Archetype.” It does not concern us here that the painter has not, perhaps, had such an archetype in his mind before he paints; and that it only gradually develops and becomes complete during the practical work. In the real “World of the Spirit,” there are such archetypes for all things, and the physical things and beings are images of these archetypes. It is quite understandable when anyone who trusts only to his outer senses denies this archetypal world, and holds archetypes to be merely abstractions which the intellect arrives at by comparing the objects of the senses. Such a person simply cannot see in this higher world; he knows the thought-world only in its shadowy abstractness. He does not know that a man with spiritual vision is as familiar with the spirit-beings as he himself is with his dog or his cat, and that the archetypal world has a far more intense reality than the world of the physical senses.

True, the first insight into “Spiritland” is still more bewildering than that into the soul-world. For the archetypes in their true form are very unlike their material images. They are, however, just as unlike their shadows, the abstract thoughts. In the spiritual world everything is in continuous, mobile activity, ceaselessly creating. A state of rest, a remaining in one place, as in the physical world, do not exist here. For the archetypes are creative beings. They are the master builders of all that comes into being in the physical world and the soul-world. Their forms change rapidly; and in each archetype lies the possibility of assuming myriads of specialised formations. [See also under Addenda.] They let the different formations well out of them, and scarcely is one produced than the archetype sets about pouring forth the next one. The archetypes stand in more or less intimate relationships to each other. They do not work singly. The one requires the help of the other for its creations. Innumerable archetypes often work together in order that this or that being in the soul-world or the physical world may arise.

Besides what is to be perceived by “spiritual sight” in this “Spiritland,” there is something else that is to be regarded as “spiritual hearing.” As soon as the clairvoyant rises out of the soul-world into the spirit-world, the archetypes that are perceived sound as well. This “sounding” is a purely spiritual process. It must be conceived of without any accompanying thought of physical sound. The observer feels as if he were in an ocean of tones. And in these tones, in this spiritual sounding, the beings of the spirit-world express themselves. The primordial laws of their existence are expressed in their mutual relationships and affinities, in the intermingling of their sounds, their harmonies, melodies and rhythms. What the intellect perceives in the physical world as law, as idea, reveals itself to the “spiritual ear” as a spiritual music. (Hence, the Pythagoreans called this perception of the spiritual world the “Music of the Spheres.” To one who possesses the “spiritual ear” this “Music of the Spheres” is not something merely figurative and allegorical, but a spiritual reality well known to him.) If one wishes to gain a conception of this “spiritual music” one must lay aside all ideas of the music of the senses as perceived by the “material ear.” For here one is concerned with “spiritual perception,” that is, with perception of such a kind as must remain silent for the “ear of the senses.” In the following descriptions of the “Spiritland,” reference to this “spiritual music” will be omitted for the sake of simplicity. One has only to form a mental picture in which everything described as “picture,” as “radiance,” is at the same time sounding. To each colour, each perception of light, there is a corresponding spiritual tone, and every combination of colours corresponds to a harmony, a melody, etc. For one must hold clearly in mind that even where the sounding prevails, perception by means of the “spiritual eye” by no means ceases. The sounding is merely added to the radiance. Therefore, where archetypes are spoken of in the following pages, the “Primal Tones” are to be thought of as also present. Other perceptions arise as well, which by way of comparison may be termed “spiritual tasting,” and so on. But it is not proposed to go into these processes here, since we are concerned with awakening a conception of the “Spiritland” through certain selected modes of perception.

It is necessary, in the first place, to distinguish the different kinds of archetypes from one another. In the “Spiritland,” too, one has to distinguish between a number of grades or regions in order to find one's way among them. Here also, as in the soul-world, the different regions are not to be thought of as lying one above the other like strata, but as mutually interpenetrating and pervading each other. The first region contains the “archetypes” of the physical world in so far as it is not endowed with life. The archetypes of the minerals are to be found here — also those of the plants; but the latter only in so far as they are purely physical, that is, in so far as the life in them is not taken into account. In the same way one finds here the archetypes of the physical forms of the animals and of human beings. This does not exhaust all that is to be found in this region but merely illustrates it by the readiest examples. This region forms the basic scaffolding of the “Spiritland.” It can be likened to the solid land of the physical earth. It forms the “continental” mass of the “Spiritland.” Its relationship with the physical corporeal world can only be described by means of an illustration. One gains some idea of it in the following way. Picture a limited space filled with physical bodies of the most varied kinds. Then think these bodies away and conceive in their place cavities in space, having their forms. The intervening spaces, on the other hand, which were previously empty, must be thought of as filled with the most varied forms, having manifold relationships with the physical bodies spoken of above. This is somewhat like the appearance presented by the lowest region of the archetypal world. In it, the things and beings which become embodied in the physical world are present as “spatial cavities.” And in the intervening spaces the mobile activity of the archetypes (and of the “spiritual music”) plays out its course. At the time of physical embodiment the spatial cavities become as it were filled with physical matter. If anyone were to look into space with both physical and spiritual eyes, he would see the physical bodies, and in between, the mobile activity of the creative archetypes.

The second region of the “Spiritland” contains the archetypes of life. But here this life forms a perfect unity. It streams through the world of spirit like a fluid element, as it were like blood pulsating through everything. It may be likened to the sea and the water systems of the physical earth. Its distribution, however, is more like the distribution of the blood in the animal body than that of the seas and rivers. This second stage of the “Spiritland” could be described as Flowing Life, formed of thought-substances. In this element are the creative Primal Forces, producing everything that appears in physical reality as living being. Here it is evident that all life is a unity, that the fife in man is related to the life of all his fellow-creatures.

The archetypes of whatever is of the nature of soul must be designated as the third region of the “Spiritland.” Here we find ourselves in a much finer and rarer element than in the first two regions. To use a comparison it can be called the air or atmosphere of the “Spiritland.” Everything that goes on in the souls of both the other worlds has here its spiritual counterpart. Here all feelings, sensations, instincts, passions, etc., are again present, but in a spiritual way. The atmospheric processes in this aerial region correspond with the sorrows and joys of the creatures in the other worlds. The longing of a human soul appears here as a gentle zephyr; an outbreak of passion is like a stormy blast. One who can form conceptions of what is here under consideration, pierces deep into the sighing of every creature when he directs his attention to it. One can for example speak here of storms with flashing lightning and rolling thunder; and if one investigates the matter one finds that the passions of a battle waged on earth are expressed in such “spirit tempests.”

The archetypes of the fourth region are not immediately related to the other worlds. They are in certain respects Beings who govern the archetypes of the three lower regions and mediate their working together. They are accordingly occupied with the ordering and grouping of these subordinate archetypes. From this region therefore a more comprehensive activity proceeds than from the lower ones.

The fifth, sixth and seventh regions differ essentially from the preceding ones. For the Beings in these regions supply the archetypes with the impulses for their activity. In them are to be found the creative forces of the archetypes themselves. He who is able to rise to these regions comes to know the purposes which underlie our world. [That such a term as “purposes” is also meant in the sense of a “simile” is obvious from what was said above about the difficulties of expression in language. It is not intended to revive the old “doctrine of purpose.”] The archetypes lie here still like living germ-entities ready to assume the most manifold forms of thought-beings. If these germ-entities are projected into the lower region they well up, as it were, and manifest themselves in the most varied shapes. The ideas through which the human spirit manifests itself creatively in the physical world are the reflection, the shadow, of these germinal thought-beings of the higher spiritual world. The observer with the “ear of spirit” rises from the lower regions of the “Spiritland” to these higher ones, becomes aware that sounds and tones are changed into a “spiritual language.” He begins to perceive the “spiritual word” through which the things and beings do not now make known to him their nature in music alone, but express it in “words.” They utter to him what is called in spiritual science their “eternal names.”

We must picture to ourselves that these thought-germinal-beings are of a composite nature. Out of the element of the thought-world only the germ-sheath, as it were, is taken. And this surrounds the true life kernel. With it we have reached the confines of the “three worlds,” for the “kernel” has its origin in still higher worlds. When man was described above according to his component parts this “life kernel” of the human being was specified, and its components were called “Life Spirit” and “Spirit Man.” There are similar “life kernels” for other beings in the Cosmos. They originate in higher worlds and are placed in the three which have been described, in order to accomplish their tasks in them.

The human spirit will now be followed on its further pilgrimage through the “Spiritland” between two embodiments or incarnations. In the course of the description the conditions and distinguishing characteristics of this “land” will once more come clearly into view. [See also under Addenda.]

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