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Occult Science - An Outline
GA 13

Chapter II: The Nature of Humanity

[ 1 ] What we have seen to be true of the supersensible way of cognition in general, becomes immediately evident when we set out to study Man from this standpoint. For the essential thing will be to recognize the ‘manifest secret’ of our own human nature. What is accessible to the senses, and to the intellect that rests on sense-perception, is but a part of human nature as known to supersensible cognition. It is the physical body of man.

To reach a clear and accurate idea of the ‘physical body,’ our attention must first be directed to the phenomenon of death—the great riddle that confronts us wherever we turn to observe life. And in connection with death, we have to think of lifeless Nature so-called—the kingdom of the mineral, which carries death perpetually within it. All these are facts of which the full explanation is only possible with the help of supersensible knowledge, and an important section of this work must be devoted to them. We will begin by suggesting certain ideas and lines of thought with a view to clearer understanding.

[ 2 ] Within the manifest world it is the physical body in which man is of like nature with the mineral creation. Anything that distinguishes man from the mineral cannot properly be regarded as ‘physical body.’ To clear and open-minded reflection the important fact will be that death lays bare the part of the human being which—after death—is of like nature with the mineral world. We can point to the corpse as to that part of man, which, after death, is subject to processes such as are also found in the mineral kingdom. We can emphasize that in this member of man's nature, which we now call the corpse, the same substances and forces are at work as in the mineral world. Equal stress must however be laid upon the fact that for the physical body of man, disintegration sets in the moment death occurs. Moreover we shall be justified in saying: while the same substances and forces are indeed at work in the physical body of man and in the mineral, during man's lie their activity is made to serve a higher function. It is only when death has taken place that they work identically with the mineral world. Then they appear, as indeed they must in accordance with their own nature, as the destroyer of the form and structure of man's physical body.

[ 3 ] Thus we are able clearly to distinguish what is manifest from what is hidden in the human being. Throughout the life of man something that is hidden must perpetually be battling with the mineral substances and forces in the physical body. The moment the battle ceases, the mineral form of activity makes its appearance. This is the point where the science of the supersensible must enter in; it has to discover what is it that maintains the battle. For this is hidden from the outer senses; it is accessible only to supersensible observation. The way man can attain such observation, so that the ‘hidden reality’ becomes as manifest to him as are the phenomena of the sense-world to his ordinary vision, will be dealt with in a later chapter. Here, the results of supersensible observation must first be described. As has already been pointed out, information about the path to the attainment of higher faculties of cognition can only be of value to a man when he has first made himself acquainted, through simple narrative, with that which supersensible research reveals. In this domain it is indeed possible to comprehend what one cannot yet observe. Nay more, the right path to seership is one that takes its start from such comprehension.

Although the hidden something which battles against the disintegration of the physical body can be observed by seership alone, in its effects it is plainly evident even to the kind of judgment which is restricted to the outwardly manifest. For its effects are expressed in the form and shape into which the substances and forces of the physical body are combined during life. When death has taken lace, this form gradually disappears and the physical body becomes part of the mineral kingdom pure and simple. Supersensible perception can observe, as an independent member of the human being, what it is that prevents the physical substances and forces during life from going their own way, which would, as we have seen, lead to the disintegration of the physical body. We will call this independent member of man's being the Etheric Body or Life-Body.

[ 4 ] If misunderstandings are not to creep in at the outset, two things must be borne in mind when these terms are used. In the first place, the word ‘ether’ is here applied in a different sense from that of modern Physics, which denotes as ether, for example, the supposed carrier of light—the ‘luminiferous either.’1Note by Translators. At the time these words were written, the hypothetical ‘luminiferous ether’ was still part of the accepted teachings of Physics; hence it was necessary to guard against a possible misunderstanding. Here the word ‘ether’ will be strictly limited to the meaning above indicated. It will be applied to the reality, accessible to higher perception, which makes itself known to sense-observation only by its effects, namely by its power to give definite form and configuration to the mineral substances and forces present in the physical body. Nor, in the second place, must the word ‘body’ be misunderstood. To designate these more spiritual entities there is no avoiding the use of words taken from ordinary language, which to begin with apply to material, sense-perceptible things. The etheric body is of course nothing ‘bodily’ in the sensual meaning of the term, in however refined a way we might conceive it.2That the terms ‘etheric body’ and ‘life-body’ are not intended as a mere revival of the long since discarded idea of a ‘vital force’ was pointed out by the author in his earlier work, Theosophy.

[ 6 ] With the mention of the etheric body or life-body, our description of supersensible realities is already bound to come into conflict with contemporary opinions. As an outcome of the development of human thought hitherto, the mention of a ‘life-body’ as an essential principle of human nature can at the present time scarcely fail to be regarded as unscientific. Materialistic thought has reached a point where it see no more in the living organism than a combination of physical substances and forces such as are also found in the so-called lifeless body, or in the mineral. The combination is only supposed to be far more complex.

Yet it is not so very long since other views were held, even by official science. If we study the writings of many serious thinkers of the first half of the nineteenth century, we realize how at that time even ‘genuine scientists’ were aware that something more is present in the living body than in the mineral. They spoke of a vital force or life-force. True, they did not conceive it as a ‘life-body’ in the sense above described, but there was in their minds a dim underlying feeling that something of the sort exists. To their way of thinking, it was as though the life-force were present in the living body over and above the physical substances and forces, in much the same way as in the magnet the magnetic force is present over and above the mere iron. Then the time came when the idea of a life-force was eliminated form the accepted scientific teachings. It was claimed that physical and chemical causes alone are a sufficient explanation. Latterly, there has again been a reaction. Some scientific thinkers are disposed to admit that something like a vital force is, after all, not entirely out of the question. But even scientists who admit this much will hardly be disposed to make common cause with the conception here put forward of the life-body.

Generally speaking, to enter into a discussion of these scientific theories from the standpoint of supersensible knowledge will be of little value. Rather should it be recognized that the materialistic conception is an inevitable concomitant of the great progress of Natural Science in our time. This progress has been due to an extreme refinement in the methods of observation by the external senses. And it is characteristic of human nature: again and again in the course of his evolution man brings certain faculties to a high degree of perfection at the expense of others. The faculty of precise sensory observation, which has evolved so significantly with the rise of Natural Science, was bound to eclipse the cultivation of those human faculties which lead into the hidden worlds. But the time has come round again when their cultivation is urgently needed. The recognition of the hidden worlds will not be furthered by combating judgments which are only the logical outcome of its denial; rather, by putting forward the hidden reality itself in a true light. Then those for whom the time has come will recognize it.

[ 7 ] Yet it was necessary to say this much, lest mere ignorance of scientific viewpoints should be presumed when mention is made of an etheric body, which, we are well aware, will widely be regarded as a mere figment of the imagination.

[ 8 ] The etheric body, then, constitutes a second member of the human being. For supersensible perception it has indeed a higher degree of reality than the physical. A description of how supersensible perception sees it can only be given in the later sections of this book, when the way of understanding such descriptions will have been made clear. For the present it will suffice to say that the etheric body completely permeates the physical, of which it may be regarded as a kind of architect. All the organs of the physical body are maintained in their form and structure by the currents and movements of the etheric body. Underlying the physical heart there is an etheric heart, underlying the physical brain as etheric brain, and so on. The etheric body is in effect a differentiated body like the physical, only far more complicated. And whereas in the physical body there are relatively separated parts, in the etheric all is in living interflow and movement.

[ 9 missing from text ]

[ 10 ] Man has the etheric body, the science of the supersensible advances to a further member of human nature. And as in leading up to the etheric body attention had to be drawn to death, so, to form a conception of this further member of man's nature, supersensible science points to the phenomenon of sleep. All the creative work of man depends—so far as the manifest world is concerned—on his activity in waking life. But this activity is only possible if he again and again derives from sleep a strengthening of his exhausted forces. In sleep, action and thought disappear; pain and joy vanish from conscious life. On awakening, man's conscious powers well up from the unconsciousness of sleep as if from mysteries and hidden springs. It is the same consciousness which sinks into dark depths when man falls asleep, and then arises again when he awakens. To the science of the supersensible, what rouses life again and again from the unconscious state is the third member of the human being. It may be called the Astral Body.

As the physical body cannot maintain its form through the mineral substances and forces it contains, but needs to be permeated by the etheric body, so too the forces of the etheric body cannot of themselves become illumined with the light of consciousness. Left to itself, an etheric body would of necessity be in a perpetual state of sleep—or, we may also say, could only maintain in the physical body a vegetable form of life. An etheric body that is awake is illumined by an astral body. For outer observation the effect of the astral body disappears when man falls asleep. For supersensible observation however, the astral body still remains, but it is now seen to be separated from the etheric body, or lifted out of it. Sensory observation is in fact concerned, not with the astral body itself, but only with its effects within the manifest world, and these are not immediately present during sleep.

Man has his physical body in common with the minerals and his etheric body with the plants. In the same sense he is of like nature with the animals in respect of the astral body. The plant is in a perpetual state of sleep. Anyone who does not judge accurately in these matters may easily fall into the error of attributing to plants too a kind of consciousness such as the animals and man have in their waking state. But this mistake is only possible when one's idea of consciousness is inexact. One may then aver that a plant too, when subjected to an outer stimulus, will perform movements, just an animal will do. One will refer to the ‘sensitiveness’ of many plants, which for example contract their leaves when certain outer things affect them. But the criterion of consciousness does not lie in the fact that to a given action a being shows a definite reaction. It lies in this, that the being has an inner experience, and this is a new factor, over and above the mere reaction. Otherwise we might as well speak of consciousness when a piece of iron expands under the influence of heat. Consciousness is only there when for example, through the effect of heat, the being inwardly experiences pain.

[ 11 ] The fourth member3In rendering Rudolf Steiner's chosen term das Ich for the fourth and central member of the sevenfold being of Man, it is desirable also to use the direct English equivalent ‘ the I’ and not be restricted to the Latin alternative, ‘the Ego’. In this and other translated works, we have adopted the convention of leaving a little extra space on either side of the word I when used as a noun in this hitherto unfamiliar way. (Note by Translators.) which supersensible science attributes to the human being, is one he no longer has in common with any of the manifest world around him. Indeed it is this fourth member which distinguishes him from all his fellow-creatures and marks him as the crown of the creation—or of that realm of the creation to which man belongs. Supersensible science arrives at an idea of this fourth member of the human being by pointing to an essential differentiation between the kinds of experience we have even within waking life.

This difference becomes directly evident when man observes that in the waking state he is on the one hand in the midst of experiences which must come and go, while on the other hand he also has experiences of which this cannot be said. It comes out most distinctly when we compare the conscious experiences of man with those of the animal. The animal experiences the influences of the outer world with great regularity. Under the influences of heat and cold it becomes conscious of pain or pleasure, and its experience of thirst and hunger is subject to bodily processes which take a regular and periodic course. Man's life is not exhausted by experiences such as these. He can develop wishes and cravings transcending all these things. For the animal, could we but pursue the matter far enough, we should always be able to indicate—within the body or outside it—the precise cause for any given action or sensation. With man it is not so. He can give birth to wishes and desires for whose origin no external cause—whether in the body or outside it—is sufficient. Everything that belongs to this domain must be attributed to a special source, which the science of the supersensible recognizes to be the I or Ego of man. The I may therefore be described as the fourth member of the human being.

If the astral body were left to itself, pleasure and pain, feelings of hunger or of thirst would come and go in it, but one thing would never come about—namely, the sense of something permanent in all these things. Not the permanent itself, but that which has conscious experience of the permanent, is here called the I. (We must form our concepts with great precision if misunderstandings are not to arise in this domain.) With the awareness of something permanent and lasting in the changing flow of inner experiences, the feeling of ‘I’ of inner selfhood begins to dawn. The mere fact that a creature experiences hunger, for example, cannot give it the feeling of ‘I.’ On every new occasion when the causes of hunger make themselves felt, hunger arises. The creature falls upon its food simply because the causes of hunger are there anew. The feeling of ‘I’ comes in when the creature is not merely impelled to take food by the renewed causes of hunger, but when a previous satisfaction gave rise to a sense of pleasure and the consciousness of the pleasure has remained. Here it is not only the present experience of hunger but the past experience of satisfaction which provides the impulse.

The physical body disintegrates when it is not held together by the etheric; the etheric body falls into unconsciousness when it is not irradiated by the astral body. In the like manner the astral body would ever and again have to let the past sink into oblivion if the I did not preserve the past and carry it over into the present. Forgetting is for the astral body what death is for the physical body and sleep for the etheric. Or, as we may also express it: life is proper to the etheric body, consciousness to the astral body, and memory to the Ego.

[ 12 ] To attribute memory to animals is an error still easier to fall into than the mistake of ascribing consciousness to plants. It is natural enough to think of memory when a dog recognizes its master, whom it may not have seen for some time past. Yet in reality the recognition depends not on memory, but on something else. The attraction proceeds from the master's nature, which give pleasure to the dog when in his presence. Every time the master's presence is renewed this causes a renewal of the pleasure. Now memory is only there when a being not only feels the experiences of the present moment but preserves those of the past. Even when this is granted, it is however still possible of make the mistake of attributing memory to the dog. Surely, one might rejoin, since the dog grieves when its master goes away, it must retain some memory of him. This too, however, is a wrong conclusion. By living with him, the master's presence has become a need to the dog; it feels his absence just as it experiences hunger. If we are not ready to make clear distinctions of this kind, insight into the true relationships of life remains impaired.

[ 13 ] Prevalent misconceptions may even now lead to the retort that we surely cannot know whether anything like human memory is present in the animal or not. This difficulty is due to untrained observation. Anyone who can observe in a really sensible way how the animal behaves in the whole nexus of its experiences, will notice an essential difference between the behavior of the animal and that of man. He will realize that the animal's behavior implies the absence of all memory. To supersensible perception this is directly evident; but in these matters what the supersensible observer is aware of directly, can also be recognized in its effects by sense-perception and the penetration of sense-perception with clear thinking.

If we say that man is aware of his memory by looking into his own inner life—a method he obviously cannot apply to the animal—we make a fatal mistake. Man is of course aware of his own faculty of memory, but he can not derive this knowledge from mere introspection. He derives it from what he experiences with himself in relation to the things and events of the external world. This kind of experience he has with himself, with his fellow-man, and with the animals too, in precisely the same way. It is an illusion to imagine that we judge of the presence of memory simply on the strength of introspection. The power underlying memory may indeed by called an inner one; the judgment about it is acquired, even for one's own person, by the tests of the external world—by observing the whole sequence and continuity of life. Of this we can form a judgment in the case of the animal no less than in our own. In such matters the psychology of our time suffers greatly from crude and inexact conceptions—conceptions based on faulty observation and therefore highly misleading.

[ 14 ] The significance for the Ego of remembering and forgetting is like that of waking and sleeping for the astral body. As sleep lets the cares and troubles of the day vanish into nothingness, so does forgetting spread a veil over the unhappy experiences of life, thus extinguishing a portion of the past. And as sleep is necessary to refresh the exhausted powers of life, so must the human being blot out from memory certain portions of his past if he is to meet new experiences openly and freely. From the very forgetting he gains strength for perception of the new. Think for instance of how we learn to write. The many details which a child must live through as he learns to write are afterwards forgotten. It is only the faculty of writing that remains. How would a man ever manage to write, if every time he put pen to paper there rose up in his soul the memory of all the experiences he had to undergo as a child during his writing lessons!

[ 15 ] Now memory appears in different stages and degrees. We have it in its simplest form when a man perceives an object and, having turned away, is able still to recall an image of it to his mind. It was while he was perceiving the object that he formed the mental image. A process was then taking place between his astral body and his Ego. The astral body brought the external impression of the object to his consciousness. But his awareness of the object would have lasted no longer than it was actually there before him, if it were not for the Ego receiving this awareness into itself and making it its own.

It is this point that the science of the supersensible distinguishes ‘body’ from ‘soul.’ We speak of the ‘astral body’ so long as we have in mind how the knowledge or awareness of an actually present object comes about, while we designate as ‘soul’ what give the knowledge performance, duration. From this it will be evident how close is the connection of the astral body with the part of the soul which gives permanence to knowledge. In a sense, they may even be said to be united—to constitute a single member of the human being. Hence it is also possible to refer to them jointly as the astral body. Or, if we desire a more exact description, we may call the astral body of man the ‘Soul-Body’ and the soul, is so far as it is united with the astral body, the ‘Sentient Soul.’

[ 16 ] The Ego rises to a higher stage of being when it directs its activity to what it has received and has made its own by taking cognizance of external objects. In this activity it liberates itself increasingly from the external objects of perception., to work within its own sphere and property. The part of the soul to which this faculty belongs may be described as the Intellectual or Mind-Soul.

It is characteristic both of the sentient and of the intellectual soul that they work with what is received through the impressions of sense-perceived objects and with what memory retains of these impressions. The soul is here entirely given up to things external to it. For even what it has made its own through memory,--even this was received originally from outside. But it is able to transcend all this; the soul is not only sentient and intelligent. Supersensible perception can most readily form an idea of this transcendent faculty by pointing to a simple fact, the far-reaching significance of which needs only to be rightly valued,--the fact that in the whole domain of language there is one name which differs in its essence from all other names. It is the name ‘I.’ Every other name can be given by every man to the thing or being to which it belongs. ‘I,’ on the other hand, as the designation of a being, only has meaning when the being gives itself this name. The name ‘I’ can never reach a man from without as a designation of himself. It is only to himself that any being can apply this name. ‘I’ am an I only to myself; to every other being I am a you, and every other being is a you to me.’

This is the outer expression of a deeply significant truth. The real being of the I is independent of all external things and for this very reason no external thing or person can call it by its name. Hence those religious faiths which have consciously maintained their connection with the supersensible wisdom speak of the I as the Unutterable Name of God. For this is what they mean to indicate. Nothing external has access to the part of the human soul which is here envisaged. Here is the ‘hidden Holy of Holies’ of the soul, to which no entry is possible save for a Being with whom the soul is of like kind and essence. ‘The God who dwells in man,—He it is who speaks when the soul perceives and knows itself as ‘I.’ As the sentient soul and intellectual soul live in the outer world, so does a third member of the soul immerse itself in the Divine when the soul comes to a perception of its own essence and nature.

[ 17 ] One may all too easily be misunderstood at this point—as though one were asserting that the human I and God were one and the same. Yet it is not said that the I is God, but only that it is of like kind and essence with the Divine. When we say that a drop of water taken from the ocean is of the same essence or substance as the ocean, are we thereby stating that the drop is the ocean? If we must use a comparison, we may put it thus: as the drop is to the ocean, so is the I to the Divine. Man can find a Divine within himself, because his own and most essential being springs from the Divine.

In this way man reaches up to a third member of his soul—to an inner knowledge and awareness of himself, even as through the astral body he gains knowledge and awareness of the outer world. Hence too, Occult Science calls this third member of the soul, the Consciousness-Soul or Spiritual Soul.4Note by Translators. ‘Consciousness-Soul’ is the literal translation of the original German word Bewusstseins-Seele, and will be found in the earlier English editions of this and other works. In later years Rudolf Steiner – who often did not favor a merely literal translation – suggested ‘Spiritual Soul’ as the best English equivalent. ‘ Spiritual Soul’ will therefore be used throughout this book, the alternative ‘ Consciousness-Soul’ being occasionally added where it would seem to throw light on a particular context. Thus Occult Science sees the soul as consisting of three members: Sentient Soul, Intellectual Soul and Spiritual Soul; just as the bodily nature consists of the three members: Physical Body, Etheric Body and Astral Body.

[ 18 ] Errors in psychological observation, not unlike those already discussed with reference to memory, give rise to difficulties once again when seeking insight into the nature of the I. Much that people think they see may easily be taken by them for a refutation of what has here been said, whereas in truth it serves only to confirm it. Such is the case, for instance, with Eduard von Hartmann's remarks on page 55 of his Outline of Psychology.5E. von Hartmann: System der Philosophie im Grundriss. Vol. III: Grundriss der Psychologie. ‘To begin with,’ says von Hartmann, ‘self-consciousness is older than that word ‘I.’ The personal pronouns are a comparatively late product in the evolution of language, and have for language merely the value of abbreviation. The word ‘I’ is a short substitute for the proper name of the speaker—with this peculiarity, that every speaker applies it to himself, no matter by what proper name the others call him. In animals and in the untrained deaf and dumb, self-consciousness may evolve to a high degree, even without the initial connection with a proper name. Also the consciousness of the proper name may completely replace the use of the word ‘I’ when this is absent. The recognition of this fact will suffice to remove the magic halo with which the little word ‘I’ is invested for so many people. The word contributes nothing to the concept of self-consciousness; it receives its own content purely from this concept.’

We need not quarrel with such a point of view. We may well agree that the little word ‘I’ should not be invested with a magic halo—such as could, after all, only blur the thoughtful perception of the truth. But the essence of a matter is not decided by the way in which the word, the designation for it, has evolved. That the real essence and nature of the I in self-consciousness is ‘older than the word ‘I’—this is precisely the point. The point is, moreover, that the human being needs this word, with its unique properties, to express what he experiences in relation to the outer world in a different way from an animal. Nothing is ascertained about the nature of the triangle by showing how the word ‘triangle’ evolved. No more can the nature of the I or Ego be determined by anything that we may know as to how the use of the word ‘I’ arose from other usages of words in the evolution of language.

[ 19 ] In the spiritual soul the real nature of the I first becomes revealed. For while in sentient and intellectual activity the soul is given up to other things, qua spiritual soul it seizes hold of its own being. Hence too, the spiritual soul can only perceive the I by dint of a certain inner activity. The mental images and representations of external objects are formed as these objects come and go; in the intellect they go on working by their own impetus. But if the I is to perceive itself, it can no longer passively devote itself to other things. To become conscious of its own essence and being, it must first call it forth—by dint of inner activity—out of the depths of its own nature. With the perception of the ‘I’—with self-contemplation—an inner activity of the I itself begins. By virtue of this activity, the perception of the I in the spiritual soul has a fundamentally different significance for man from the observation of what comes to him through the three bodily members and the other two members of the soul.

The power which brings the I to manifestations in the spiritual soul is indeed the self-same power which reveals itself throughout the world. In the body however, and in the lower members of the soul, it does not come forth directly but is revealed stage by stage in its effects. The lowest revelation of it is through the physical body; thence it arises, step by step, up to the content of the intellectual soul. We might say that with each step in the ascent one of the veils by which the Unmanifest is shrouded falls away. In the experience and content of the spiritual soul, the Unmanifest in its own essence enters unveiled into the inmost temple of the soul Admittedly it shows itself as a mere drop out of the ocean of the all-pervading spiritual essence. Yet it is here that man must first seize the spiritual essence. He must know it by discovering it within himself; then he can also find it in all other revelations.

What penetrates in this way like a drop into the spiritual soul is what Occult Science calls the Spirit. Thus the spiritual soul is connected with the universal Spirit which is the hidden reality within all things manifest. If man would apprehend the hidden Spirit in all the other manifestations of the World, he must needs do so in the same way in which he apprehends the Ego in the ‘Consciousness-Soul’—the spiritual soul. He must apply to the manifest world the same activity which has led him to a perception of the I within himself. By this means he evolves to higher stages of his being. To the bodily members and the members of the soul he now adds something new.

The first step along this path consists in his conquering and making his own all that lies hidden in the lower members of his soul He does this by working upon his soul—working upon it out of the inmost resources of the Ego. We have a vivid picture of the way the human being is engaged upon this work when we compare a man still given up to lower ravings and so-called sensual pleasures with a high-minded idealist. The former evolves into the latter in that he withdraws from lower inclinations and turns to higher ones. In so doing, he works from the Ego upon his soul, ennobling and spiritualizing it. The Ego becomes master in the soul's life.

This process can go so far that no desires or enjoyments can gain access to the soul without the I itself being the power which makes possible their entry. And in this way the soul in its entirety becomes at length a revelation of the I, as was hitherto the spiritual soul alone . This is the meaning of all civilization, of all the spiritual strivings and aspirations of mankind. There is this constant endeavor for the mastery of the Ego. Every human being living at the present time is engaged in this great work—whether he will or no, whether he is conscious of the fact or not.

[ 20 ] This work leads on to ever higher levels of human nature. Through it man evolves new members of his being, which lie—as yet unmanifest—behind what is manifest in him. Moreover, it is not only the soul over which a man can attain mastery by working upon it from the Ego, till from the manifest within the soul the unmanifest springs forth. He can extend this work still further, carrying it over to the astral body. As he does so, the Ego gains power over the astral body, entering into union with its hidden nature. The astral body thus mastered and transformed by the I may be called the ‘Spirit-Self.’ (This is identical with what is called, in connection with Oriental wisdom, ‘Manas.’) In the Spirit-Self we have therefore a higher member of man's nature, one which is already present in him—germinally, as it were—and comes forth ever more and more as he continues to work upon himself.

[ 21 ] As man gains mastery over his astral body by penetrating to the hidden forces that underlie it, so in the course of evolution does he gain mastery over the etheric body too. The work upon the etheric body is however more intense and more exacting. For what lies hidden in the etheric body is shrouded beneath a double-veil; the hidden in the astral body beneath a single veil only. We can get some idea of the difference in the work upon the two bodies by noticing the changes which take place in a human being in the course of his life. Think of the qualities that are developed when the Ego works upon the soul. How very different a man's pleasures and desires, his joys and sufferings become! A man need only look back to the time of his childhood. What was it that he then delighted in, or that caused him pain? And what has he not learned and added to the faculties he had in childhood? These changes are but an expression of the way the Ego has been gaining mastery over the astral body. For the astral body is the bearer of pleasure and pain, of joy and suffering. And now compare with this the small extent to which certain other qualities of man will change in course of time: his temperament, for instance, his deeper traits of character. One who as a child is given to sudden fits of anger will often show signs of violent temper right on into later life. This is indeed so evident a fact that some thinkers tend altogether to dismiss the possibility of change in the basic character of any man. They assume it to be something that persists throughout is life, though it may be revealed in varying directions. Such a judgment rests however on insufficient observation. One who has sensitive perception will realize that even the character and temperament of man can change under the influence of his Ego, although the change is comparatively slow. We might even say that the two types of change are to one another as the movement of the hour hand to that of the minute hand of a clock.

[ 1 ] Now the forces that affect these changes in character or temperament belong to the hidden domain of the etheric body. They are alike in kind with the forces that govern the kingdom of life—the forces of growth and nourishment and those that serve the reproductive process. All this will appear in the proper light in the further course of this book.

It is not when man is merely given up to pleasure or suffering, to joy or pain, that the Ego works upon the astral body; rather, when these proclivities are actually being changed. In like manner, the work of the Ego works upon the astral body; rather, when these proclivities are actually being changed. In like manner, the work of the Ego extends to the etheric body when it applies itself to changing the qualities of character, temperament and so forth. And at this transformation too, every man is working, whether or no he be aware of it. The impulses that work most strongly in this direction are those of religion. When the Ego lays itself open to these influences again and again, they work within it as a power which reaches down to the etheric body and transforms it, just as the lesser incentives of life will bring about the changing of the astral body. These lesser incentives, which come to man through learning, through thoughtful reflection, through the refinement of his feelings and so on, are subject to many variations; the religious emotions, on the other hand, impress a kind of unity on all his thinking, feeling and willing. They pour out as it were a common light, a light that is ‘single,’ over the whole life of the soul. A man thinks and feels one thing to-day, another to-morrow. Many and varied circumstances provide occasion for his thoughts and feelings. But one who is aware through his religious life, of whatsoever kind it be, of something that outlasts all changes, will refer to the same underlying emotion his thoughts and feelings of to-day and his experiences of to-morrow. A man's religious faith thus has a penetrating influence in his soul's life—an influence which grows as time goes on through constant repetition. It thereby gains the power to work on the etheric body. So do the influences of true art affect the human being. When through the outer form, color or sound of a work of art man penetrates with thought and feeling to the spiritual sources that underlie it, the impulses the Ego thus receives do in effect reach the etheric body. Thinking this through to its conclusion, we may gain some idea of the immense significance of art in human evolution.

We have thus indicated some of the incentives enabling the Ego to work at the etheric body. There are other such influences in human life, though outwardly less evident than the ones here mentioned. From these, however, it can already be seen that there lies hidden in man a further member of human nature, which, once again, the Ego is progressively elaborating. It is the second member of man's spiritual being, and may be called the ‘Life-Spirit.’ (It is identical with what is named ‘Budhi’ in connection with Oriental wisdom.’ The term Life-Spirit is right and proper because the same forces are working in it as in the life-body. Where they reveal themselves as life-body the I of man is not yet active in them; when they come to expression as Life-Spirit they are penetrated through and through by its activity.

[ 22 ] Man's intellectual development, the purification and refinement of his feelings and of the manifestations of his will, are the measure of his transmutation of the astral body into Spirit-Self. His religious experiences, and other experiences too which life affords, become engraved in his etheric body, changing it into Life-Spirit. In the ordinary course of life all this goes on more or less unconsciously. There is, on the other hand, what is called the Initiation of man Initiation consists in his being shown, through supersensible knowledge, the means whereby he may take in hand with full consciousness this work upon the Spirit-Self and the Life-Spirit. This will be spoken of in subsequent chapters. For the moment, the point was to show that in addition to the Soul and Body the Spirit too is at work in man. In contrast to the transitory body, the Spirit belongs to the Eternal in man. This too will emerge more clearly in further course.

[ 23 ] Now the activity of the Ego is not exhausted with the work upon the astral and etheric bodies. It extends also to the physical. We see a faint suggestion of the influence of the ego on the physical body when, for example, a human being blushes or grows pale. For the I is here the underlying motive power of a process taking place in the physical body. If now, through the Ego's own activity and initiative, its influence upon the physical body undergoes essential changes, the Ego will then be working in unison with the hidden forces of the physical body. It will be united, in effect, with the same forces which bring about the physical processes in this body. The Ego itself may then be said to be working upon the physical body to transform it. But this expression must not be misunderstood. It must not be supposed that the work is of a crude material kind. For what appears crudely material in the physical body is merely what is manifest in it. Behind this manifest there lie the hidden forces of its being, and these are of a spiritual kind. Here we are speaking, not of a working upon the material appearance of the physical body, but of a spiritual working—a working upon the invisible forces to which the coming-into-being and also the decay of the physical body are due. In ordinary life man can at most become very dimly conscious of this work of the Ego upon the physical body. Full clarity is only reached when under the influence of spiritual knowledge he takes the work consciously in hand. It then becomes manifest that there is yet a third spiritual member in the human being. It may be called, in contrast to the physical man, the ‘Spirit-Man.’ (In Oriental wisdom it is called ‘Atma.’)

[ 24 ] With regard to Spirit-Man it is easy to be led astray by the fact that the physical appears to be the lowest member of the human being. One finds difficulty in conceiving that work upon the physical body should culminate in the highest member of man's nature. But for the very reason that the physical body conceals beneath a threefold veil the Spirit that is active in it, the highest form of human activity is needed to unite the Ego with this hidden Spirit.

[ 25 ] Thus in the light of Occult Science man appears as a being composed of several members. Those of a bodily nature are: physical body, etheric body and astral body. Those of the soul are: sentient soul, intellectual soul and spiritual soul. In the soul the Ego sheds its light. Lastly we have the spiritual members: Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit and Spirit-Man.

From the above explanations it will be seen that the sentient soul and the astral body are intimately united, forming in one respect a single whole. The same is true of the spiritual soul and the Spirit-Self. For in the spiritual soul the light of the Spirit arises, to radiate from thence throughout the other members of man's nature. Taking this into account, the constitution of the human being may also be described as follows: The astral body and the sentient soul can be taken together as a single member; likewise the spiritual soul and the Spirit-Self. Lastly the intellectual soul, since it partakes of the nature of the I—since in a certain respect it is the I, though not yet conscious of its spiritual being—may be designated simply as the I or Ego. We thus obtain the following seven members of the human being:

  1. Physical body
  2. Etheric body or life-body
  3. Astral body
  4. I, Ego
  5. Spirit-Self
  6. Life-Spirit
  7. Spirit-Man

[ 26 ] Even for those accustomed to materialistic notions, this organization of the human being according to the number seven would not have the vaguely magical and superstitious quality often attributed to it, if they could simply follow the given explanations, and not themselves bring in the ‘magical’ significance which they presume. We speak of the seven colors of the rainbow, or of the seven notes of the scale (treating the octave as a repetition of the keynote.) In no other sense—only from the standpoint of a higher kind of observation—do we refer to the seven members of man's being. As light appears in seven colors and the musical scale in seven notes, so does human nature—for all its singleness and unity—appear in the seven members here described. In sound and color the number seven does not imply any kind of superstition; nor does it in the constitution of the human being. (On one occasion when this was mentioned in a lecture, it was objected that the number seven does not apply to color, since there are other ‘colors’ beyond the red and violet, only the human eye cannot perceive them. But even taking this into account, the comparison is still valid; for the human being too reaches beyond the physical body on the one hand and beyond Spirit-Man on the other. Only these extensions of man's being are ‘spiritually invisible’ to the available methods of spiritual observation, just as the colors beyond red and violet are invisible to the physical eye. This remark was necessary because it is too easily concluded that supersensible vision and the ideas to which it leads are scientifically inexact. If one really enters into what is here intended, it will in no case be found inconsistent with genuine Science. There is no contradiction—neither when scientific facts are cited by way of illustration, nor when a direct relation to the discoveries of natural Science is pointed out.)

Wesen der Menschheit

[ 1 ] Bei der Betrachtung des Menschen vom Gesichtspunkte einer übersinnlichen Erkenntnisart tritt sogleich in Kraft, was von dieser Erkenntnisart im allgemeinen gilt. Diese Betrachtung beruht auf der Anerkennung des «offenbaren Geheimnisses» in der eigenen menschlichen Wesenheit. Den Sinnen und dem auf sie gestützten Verstande ist nur ein Teil von dem zugänglich, was in übersinnlicher Erkenntnis als menschliche Wesenheit erfasst wird, nämlich der physische Leib. Um den Begriff von diesem physischen Leib zu beleuchten, muss zunächst die Aufmerksamkeit auf die Erscheinung gelenkt werden, die wie das große Rätsel über alle Beobachtung des Lebens ausgebreitet liegt: auf den Tod und, im Zusammenhang damit, auf die sogenannte leblose Natur, auf das Reich des Mineralischen, das stets den Tod in sich trägt. Es ist damit auf Tatsachen hingewiesen, deren volle Aufklärung nur durch übersinnliche Erkenntnis möglich ist und denen ein wichtiger Teil dieser Schrift gewidmet werden muss. Hier aber sollen vorerst nur einige Vorstellungen zur Orientierung angeregt werden.

[ 2 ] Innerhalb der offenbaren Welt ist der physische Menschenleib dasjenige, worinnen der Mensch der mineralischen Welt gleich ist. Dagegen kann nicht als physischer Leib das gelten, was den Menschen vom Mineral unterscheidet. Für eine unbefangene Betrachtung ist vor allem die Tatsache wichtig, dass der Tod dasjenige von der menschlichen Wesenheit bloßlegt, was, wenn der Tod eingetreten ist, mit der mineralischen Welt gleicher Art ist. Man kann auf den Leichnam als auf das vom Menschen hinweisen, was nach dem Tode Vorgängen unterworfen ist, die sich im Reiche der mineralischen Welt finden. Man kann die Tatsache betonen, dass in diesem Gliede der Menschenwesenheit, dem Leichnam, dieselben Stoffe und Kräfte wirksam sind wie im mineralischen Gebiet; aber nötig ist, nicht minder stark zu betonen, dass mit dem Tode für diesen physischen Leib der Zerfall eintritt. Berechtigt ist aber auch, zu sagen: gewiss, es sind im physischen Menschenleibe dieselben Stoffe und Kräfte wirksam wie im Mineral; aber ihre Wirksamkeit ist während des Lebens in einen höheren Dienst gestellt. Sie wirken erst der mineralischen Welt gleich, wenn der Tod eingetreten ist. Da treten sie auf, wie sie ihrer eigenen Wesenheit gemäß auftreten müssen, nämlich als Auflöser der physischen Leibesgestaltung.

[ 3 ] So ist im Menschen scharf zu scheiden das Offenbare von dem Verborgenen. Denn während des Lebens muss ein Verborgenes einen fortwährenden Kampf führen gegen die Stoffe und Kräfte des Mineralischen im physischen Leibe. Hört dieser Kampf auf, so tritt die mineralische Wirksamkeit auf. — Damit ist auf den Punkt hingewiesen, an dem die Wissenschaft vom Übersinnlichen einsetzen muss. Sie hat dasjenige zu suchen, was den angedeuteten Kampf führt. Und dies eben ist für die Beobachtung der Sinne verborgen. Es ist erst der übersinnlichen Beobachtung zugänglich. Wie der Mensch dazu gelangt, dass ihm dieses «Verborgene» so offenbar werde, wie es den gewöhnlichen Augen die sinnlichen Erscheinungen sind, davon wird in einem späteren Teile dieser Schrift gesprochen werden. Hier aber soll beschrieben werden, was sich der übersinnlichen Beobachtung ergibt.

[ 4 ] Es ist schon gesagt worden: nur dann können die Mitteilungen über den Weg, auf dem man zum höheren Schauen gelangt, dem Menschen von Wert sein, wenn er sich zuerst durch die bloße Erzählung bekanntgemacht hat mit dem, was die übersinnliche Forschung enthüllt. Denn begreifen kann man eben auch das auf diesem Gebiete, was man noch nicht beobachtet. Ja es ist der gute Weg zum Schauen derjenige, welcher vom Begreifen ausgeht.

[ 5 ] Wenn nun auch jenes Verborgene, das in dem physischen Leibe den Kampf gegen den Zerfall führt, nur für das höhere Schauen zu beobachten ist: in seinen Wirkungen liegt es für die auf das Offenbare sich beschränkende Urteilskraft klar zutage. Und diese Wirkungen drücken sich in der Form oder Gestalt aus, in welcher während des Lebens die mineralischen Stoffe und Kräfte des physischen Leibes zusammengefügt sind. Diese Form entschwindet nach und nach, und der physische Leib wird ein Teil der übrigen mineralischen Welt, wenn der Tod eingetreten ist. Die übersinnliche Anschauung aber kann dasjenige als selbständiges Glied der menschlichen Wesenheit beobachten, was die physischen Stoffe und Kräfte während des Lebens hindert, ihre eigenen Wege zu gehen, welche zur Auflösung des physischen Leibes führen. Es sei dieses selbständige Glied der «Ätherleib» oder «Lebensleib» genannt. — Wenn sich nicht sogleich, von Anfang an, Missverständnisse einschleichen sollen, so muss gegenüber diesen Bezeichnungen eines zweiten Gliedes der menschlichen Wesenheit zweierlei berücksichtigt werden. Das Wort «Äther» wird hier in einem andern Sinne gebraucht, als dies von der gegenwärtigen Physik geschieht. Diese bezeichnet zum Beispiel den Träger des Lichtes als Äther. Hier soll aber das Wort in dem Sinne begrenzt werden, der oben angegeben worden ist. Es soll angewendet werden für dasjenige, was dem höheren Schauen zugänglich ist und was sich für die Sinnesbeobachtung nur in seinen Wirkungen zu erkennen gibt, nämlich dadurch, dass es den im physischen Leibe vorhandenen mineralischen Stoffen und Kräften eine bestimmte Form oder Gestalt zu geben vermag. Und auch das Wort «Leib» soll nicht missverstanden werden. Man muss zur Bezeichnung der höheren Dinge des Daseins eben doch die Worte der gewöhnlichen Sprache gebrauchen. Und diese drücken ja für die Sinnesbeobachtung nur das Sinnliche aus. Im sinnlichen Sinne ist natürlich der «Ätherleib» durchaus nichts Leibliches, wie fein man sich ein solches auch vorstellen mag. Dass mit der Bezeichnung «Ätherleib», «Lebensleib» nicht einfach die Anschauung von der alten, naturwissenschaftlich überwundenen «Lebenskraft» erneuert werden soll, darüber hat sich der Verfasser dieses Buches in seiner «Theosophie» ausgesprochen.

[ 6 ] Indem man in der Darstellung des Übersinnlichen bis zur Erwähnung dieses «Ätherleibes» oder «Lebensleibes» gelangt, ist schon der Punkt erreicht, an dem solcher Darstellung der Widerspruch mancher gegenwärtigen Ansicht begegnen muss. Die Entwicklung des Menschengeistes hat dahin geführt, dass in unserer Zeit das Sprechen von einem solchen Gliede der menschlichen Wesenheit als etwas Unwissenschaftliches angesehen werden muss. Die materialistische Vorstellungsart ist dazu gelangt, in dem lebendigen Leibe nichts anderes zu sehen als eine Zusammenfügung von physischen Stoffen und Kräften, wie sie sich in dem sogenannten leblosen Körper, in dem Mineral, auch findet. Nur sei die Zusammenfügung in dem Lebendigen komplizierter als in dem Leblosen. Man hat auch in der gewöhnlichen Wissenschaft vor nicht allzulanger Zeit noch andere Ansichten gehabt. Wer die Schriften manchen ernsten Wissenschafters aus der ersten Hälfte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts verfolgt, dem wird klar, wie da auch «echte Naturforscher» sich bewusst waren, dass in dem lebendigen Leibe noch etwas anderes vorhanden ist als in dem leblosen Mineral. Man sprach von einer «Lebenskraft». Zwar wird diese «Lebenskraft» nicht als das vorgestellt, was oben als «Lebensleib» gekennzeichnet ist; aber der betreffenden Vorstellung liegt doch eine Ahnung davon zugrunde, dass es dergleichen gibt. Man stellte sich diese «Lebenskraft» etwa so vor, wie wenn sie in dem lebendigen Leibe zu den physischen Stoffen und Kräften hinzukäme auf ähnliche Art, wie die magnetische Kraft zu dem bloßen Eisen in dem Magneten. Dann kam die Zeit, in welcher diese «Lebenskraft» aus dem Bestande der Wissenschaft entfernt wurde. Man wollte für alles mit den bloßen physischen und chemischen Ursachen ausreichen. Gegenwärtig ist in dieser Beziehung bei manchem naturwissenschaftlichen Denker wieder ein Rückschlag eingetreten. Es wird von mancher Seite zugegeben, dass die Annahme von etwas der «Lebenskraft» Ähnlichem doch kein völliger Unsinn sei. Doch wird auch derjenige «Wissenschafter», der sich zu solchem herbeilässt, mit der hier dargestellten Anschauung in bezug auf den «Lebensleib» nicht gemeinsame Sache machen wollen. Es wird in der Regel zu keinem Ziele führen, wenn man sich vom Gesichtspunkte übersinnlicher Erkenntnis mit solchen Ansichten in eine Diskussion einlässt. Es sollte vielmehr die Sache dieser Erkenntnis sein, anzuerkennen, dass die materialistische Vorstellungsart eine notwendige Begleiterscheinung des großen naturwissenschaftlichen Fortschrittes in unserer Zeit ist. Dieser Fortschritt beruht auf einer gewaltigen Verfeinerung der Mittel zur Sinnesbeobachtung. Und es liegt einmal im Wesen des Menschen, dass er innerhalb der Entwicklung jeweilig einzelne Fähigkeiten auf Kosten anderer zu einem gewissen Vollkommenheitsgrade bringt. Die genaue Sinnesbeobachtung, die sich in einem so bedeutungsvollen Maße durch die Naturwissenschaft entwickelt hat, musste die Pflege derjenigen menschlichen Fähigkeiten in den Hintergrund treten lassen, welche in die «verborgenen Welten» führen. Aber eine Zeit ist wieder da, in welcher diese Pflege notwendig ist. Und das Verborgene wird nicht dadurch anerkannt, dass man die Urteile bekämpft, welche aus dem Ableugnen dieses Verborgenen ja doch mit logischer Folgerichtigkeit sich ergeben, sondern dadurch, dass man dieses Verborgene selbst in das rechte Licht setzt. Anerkennen werden es dann diejenigen, für welche die «Zeit gekommen ist».

[ 7 ] Es musste dies hier nur gesagt werden, damit man nicht Unbekanntschaft mit den Gesichtspunkten der Naturwissenschaft voraussetzt, wenn von einem «Ätherleib» gesprochen wird, der doch in manchen Kreisen für etwas völlig Phantastisches gelten muss.

[ 8 ] Dieser Ätherleib ist also ein zweites Glied der menschlichen Wesenheit. Ihm kommt für das übersinnliche Erkennen ein höherer Grad von Wirklichkeit zu als dem physischen Leibe. Eine Beschreibung, wie ihn das übersinnliche Erkennen sieht, kann erst in den folgenden Teilen dieser Schrift gegeben werden, wenn hervortreten wird, in welchem Sinne solche Beschreibungen zu nehmen sind. Vorläufig mag es genügen, wenn gesagt wird, dass der Ätherleib den physischen Körper überall durchsetzt und dass er wie eine Art Architekt des letzteren anzusehen ist. Alle Organe werden in ihrer Form und Gestalt durch die Strömungen und Bewegungen des Ätherleibes gehalten. Dem physischen Herzen liegt ein «Ätherherz» zugrunde, dem physischen Gehirn ein «Äthergehirn» usw. Es ist eben der Ätherleib in sich gegliedert wie der physische, nur komplizierter, und es ist in ihm alles in lebendigem Durcheinanderfließen, wo im physischen Leibe abgesonderte Teile vorhanden sind.

[ 9 ] Diesen Ätherleib hat nun der Mensch so mit dem Pflanzlichen gemein, wie er den physischen Leib mit dem Mineralischen gemein hat. Alles Lebendige hat seinen Ätherleib.

[ 10 ] Von dem Ätherleib steigt die übersinnliche Betrachtung auf zu einem weiteren Gliede der menschlichen Wesenheit. Sie deutet zur Bildung einer Vorstellung von diesem Gliede auf die Erscheinung des Schlafes hin, wie sie beim Ätherleib auf den Tod hingewiesen hat. — Alles menschliche Schaffen beruht auf der Tätigkeit im Wachen, so weit das Offenbare in Betracht kommt. Diese Tätigkeit ist aber nur möglich, wenn der Mensch die Erstarkung seiner erschöpften Kräfte sich immer wieder aus dem Schlafe holt. Handeln und Denken schwinden dahin im Schlafe, aller Schmerz, alle Lust versinken für das bewusste Leben. Wie aus verborgenen, geheimnisvollen Brunnen steigen beim Erwachen des Menschen bewusste Kräfte aus der Bewusstlosigkeit des Schlafes auf. Es ist dasselbe Bewusstsein, das beim Einschlafen hinuntersinkt in die dunklen Tiefen und das beim Aufwachen wieder heraufsteigt. Dasjenige, was das Leben immer wieder aus dem Zustand der Bewusstlosigkeit erweckt, ist im Sinne übersinnlicher Erkenntnis das dritte Glied der menschlichen Wesenheit. Man kann es den Astralleib nennen. Wie der physische Leib nicht durch die in ihm befindlichen mineralischen Stoffe und Kräfte seine Form erhalten kann, sondern wie er, um dieser Erhaltung willen, von dem Ätherleib durchsetzt sein muss, so können die Kräfte des Ätherleibes sich nicht durch sich selbst mit dem Lichte des Bewusstseins durchleuchten. Ein Ätherleib, der bloß sich selbst überlassen wäre, müsste sich fortdauernd in dem Zustande des Schlafes befinden. Man kann auch sagen: er könnte in dem physischen Leibe nur ein Pflanzensein unterhalten. Ein wachender Ätherleib ist von einem Astralleib durchleuchtet. Für die Sinnesbeobachtung verschwindet die Wirkung dieses Astralleibes, wenn der Mensch in Schlaf versinkt. Für die übersinnliche Beobachtung bleibt er noch vorhanden; nur erscheint er von dem Ätherleib getrennt oder aus ihm herausgehoben. Die Sinnesbeobachtung hat es eben nicht mit dem Astralleib selbst zu tun, sondern nur mit seinen Wirkungen in dem Offenbaren. Und solche sind während des Schlafes nicht unmittelbar vorhanden. In demselben Sinne, wie der Mensch seinen physischen Leib mit den Mineralien, seinen Ätherleib mit den Pflanzen gemein hat, ist er in bezug auf seinen Astralleib gleicher Art mit den Tieren. Die Pflanzen sind in einem fortdauernden Schlafzustande. Wer in diesen Dingen nicht genau urteilt, der kann leicht in den Irrtum verfallen, auch den Pflanzen eine Art von Bewusstsein zuzuschreiben, wie es die Tiere und Menschen im Wachzustande haben. Das kann aber nur dann geschehen, wenn man sich von dem Bewusstsein eine ungenaue Vorstellung macht. Man sagt dann, wenn auf die Pflanze ein äußerer Reiz ausgeübt wird, dann vollziehe sie gewisse Bewegungen wie das Tier auch. Man spricht von der Empfindlichkeit mancher Pflanzen, welche zum Beispiel ihre Blätter zusammenziehen, wenn gewisse äußere Dinge auf sie einwirken. Doch ist es nicht das Bezeichnende des Bewusstseins, dass ein Wesen auf eine Wirkung eine gewisse Gegenwirkung zeigt, sondern dass das Wesen in seinem Innern etwas erlebt, was zu der bloßen Gegenwirkung als ein Neues hinzukommt. Sonst könnte man auch von Bewusstsein sprechen, wenn sich ein Stück Eisen unter dem Einflusse von Wärme ausdehnt. Bewusstsein ist erst vorhanden, wenn das Wesen durch die Wirkung der Wärme zum Beispiel innerlich Schmerz erlebt.b1Auseinandersetzungen wie diejenigen, welche in diesem Buche gegeben werden über das Erinnerungsvermögen, können sehr leicht missverstanden werden. Denn wer nur die äußeren Vorgänge betrachtet, dem wird der Unterschied gar nicht ohne weiteres auffallen zwischen dem, was am Tiere, ja selbst an der Pflanze geschieht, wenn so etwas eintritt, was der Erinnerung gleicht, und dem, was hier für den Menschen als wirkliche Erinnerung gekennzeichnet wird. Gewiss, wenn ein Tier eine Handlung ein drittes, viertes usw. Mal ausführt, so mag es sie so ausführen, dass sich der äußere Vorgang so darstellt, wie wenn Erinnerung und das mit dieser verknüpfte Lernen vorhanden wären. Ja, man mag, wie es einzelne Naturforscher und ihre Anhänger tun, sogar den Begriff der Erinnerung oder des Gedächtnisses so ausdehnen, dass man sagt, wenn das Küchlein aus der Eischale kriecht, so pickt es nach den Körnern, wisse sogar die Bewegungen des Kopfes und Körpers so zu machen, dass es zum Ziele komme. Das könne es nicht in der Eischale gelernt haben, sondern es sei gelernt durch die tausend und aber tausend Wesen, von denen es abstammt (so sagt zum Beispiel Hering)8 Man kann die Erscheinung, die hier vorliegt, als etwas bezeichnen, was wie Erinnerung aussieht. Aber man wird nie zum wirklichen Begreifen der menschlichen Wesenheit kommen, wenn man nicht das ganz Besondere ins Auge fasst, was im Menschen als der Vorgang des wirklichen Wahrnehmens früherer Erlebnisse in späteren Zeitpunkten auftritt, nicht bloß als ein Hineinwirken früherer Zustände in spätere. Hier in diesem Buche wird Erinnerung dieses Wahrnehmen des Vergangenen genannt, nicht bloß das selbst veränderte Wiederauftreten des Früheren in dem Späteren. Wollte man das Wort Erinnerung schon für die entsprechenden Vorgänge im Pflanzenund Tierreiche gebrauchen, so müsste man ein anderes für den Menschen haben. Es kommt bei der obigen Darstellung dieses Buches gar nicht auf das Wort an, sondern darauf, dass behufs Verständnisses der menschlichen Wesenheit der Unterschied erkannt werden muss. Ebensowenig können scheinbar sogar sehr hohe Intelligenzleistungen von Tieren mit dem zusammengebracht werden, was hier Erinnerung genannt wird.

[ 11 ] Das vierte Glied seiner Wesenheit, welches die übersinnliche Erkenntnis dem Menschen zuschreiben muss, hat er nun nicht mehr gemein mit der ihn umgebenden Welt des Offenbaren. Es ist sein Unterscheidendes gegenüber seinen Mitwesen, dasjenige, wodurch er die Krone der zunächst zu ihm gehörigen Schöpfung ist. Die übersinnliche Erkenntnis bildet eine Vorstellung von diesem weiteren Gliede der menschlichen Wesenheit, indem sie darauf hinweist, dass auch innerhalb der wachen Erlebnisse noch ein wesentlicher Unterschied besteht. Dieser Unterschied tritt sofort hervor, wenn der Mensch seine Aufmerksamkeit darauf lenkt, dass er im wachen Zustande einerseits fortwährend in der Mitte von Erlebnissen steht, die kommen und gehen müssen, und dass er andererseits auch Erlebnisse hat, bei denen dies nicht der Fall ist. Es tritt das besonders scharf hervor, wenn man die Erlebnisse des Menschen mit denen des Tieres vergleicht. Das Tier erlebt mit großer Regelmäßigkeit die Einflüsse der äußeren Welt und wird sich unter dem Einflusse der Wärme und Kälte, des Schmerzes und der Lust, unter gewissen regelmäßig ablaufenden Vorgängen seines Leibes des Hungers und Durstes bewusst. Des Menschen Leben ist mit solchen Erlebnissen nicht erschöpft. Er kann Begierden, Wünsche entwickeln, die über das alles hinausgehen. Beim Tier würde man immer nachweisen können, wenn man weit genug zu gehen vermöchte, wo außer dem Leibe oder in dem Leibe die Veranlassung zu einer Handlung, zu einer Empfindung ist. Beim Menschen ist das keineswegs der Fall. Er kann Wünsche und Begierden erzeugen, zu deren Entstehung die Veranlassung weder innerhalb noch außerhalb seines Leibes hinreichend ist. Allem, was in dieses Gebiet fällt, muss man eine besondere Quelle geben. Und diese Quelle kann man im Sinne der übersinnlichen Wissenschaft im «Ich» des Menschen sehen. Das «Ich» kann daher als das vierte Glied der menschlichen Wesenheit angesprochen werden. — Wäre der Astralleib sich selbst überlassen, es würden sich Lust und Schmerz, Hungerund Durstgefühle in ihm abspielen; was aber dann nicht zustandekäme, ist die Empfindung: es sei ein Bleibendes in alle dem. Nicht das Bleibende als solches wird hier als «Ich» bezeichnet, sondern dasjenige, welches dieses Bleibende erlebt. Man muss auf diesem Gebiete die Begriffe ganz scharf fassen, wenn nicht Missverständnisse entstehen sollen. Mit dem Gewahrwerden eines Dauernden, Bleibenden im Wechsel der inneren Erlebnisse beginnt das Aufdämmern des «Ichgefühles». Nicht dass ein Wesen zum Beispiel Hunger empfindet, kann ihm ein Ichgefühl geben. Der Hunger stellt sich ein, wenn die erneuerten Veranlassungen zu ihm sich bei dem betreffenden Wesen geltend machen. Es fällt dann über seine Nahrung her, weil eben diese erneuerten Veranlassungen da sind. Das Ichgefühl tritt erst ein, wenn nicht nur diese erneuerten Veranlassungen zu der Nahrung hintreiben, sondern wenn bei einer vorhergehenden Sättigung eine Lust entstanden ist und das Bewusstsein dieser Lust geblieben ist, so dass nicht nur das gegenwärtige Erlebnis des Hungers, sondern das vergangene der Lust zu dem Nahrungsmittel treibt. — Wie der physische Leib zerfällt, wenn ihn nicht der Ätherleib zusammenhält; wie der Ätherleib in die Bewusstlosigkeit versinkt, wenn ihn nicht der Astralleib durchleuchtet, so müsste der Astralleib das Vergangene immer wieder in die Vergessenheit sinken lassen, wenn dieses nicht vom «Ich» in die Gegenwart herübergerettet würde. Was für den physischen Leib der Tod, für den Ätherleib der Schlaf, das ist für den Astralleib das Vergangene immer wieder in die Vergessenheit sinken lassen, wenn dieses nicht vom «Ich» in die Gegenwart herübertreten würde. Was für den physischen Leib der Tod, für den Ätherleib der Schlaf, das ist für den Astralleib das Vergessen. Man kann auch sagen: dem Ätherleib sei das Leben eigen, dem Astralleib das Bewusstsein und dem Ich die Erinnerung.

[ 12 ] Noch leichter als in den Irrtum, der Pflanze Bewusstsein zuzuschreiben, kann man in denjenigen verfallen, bei dem Tiere von Erinnerung zu sprechen. Es liegt so nahe, an Erinnerung zu denken, wenn der Hund seinen Herrn wiedererkennt, den er vielleicht ziemlich lange nicht gesehen hat. Doch in Wahrheit beruht solches Wiedererkennen gar nicht auf Erinnerung, sondern auf etwas völlig anderem. Der Hund empfindet eine gewisse Anziehung zu seinem Herrn. Diese geht aus von der Wesenheit des letzteren. Diese Wesenheit bereitet dem Hunde Lust, wenn der Herr für ihn gegenwärtig ist. Und jedesmal, wenn diese Gegenwart des Herrn eintritt, ist sie die Veranlassung zu einer Erneuerung der Lust. Erinnerung ist aber nur dann vorhanden, wenn ein Wesen nicht bloß mit seinen Erlebnissen in der Gegenwart empfindet, sondern wenn es diejenigen der Vergangenheit bewahrt. Man könnte sogar dieses zugeben und dennoch in den Irrtum verfallen, der Hund habe Erinnerung. Man könnte nämlich sagen: er trauert, wenn sein Herr ihn verlässt, also bleibt ihm die Erinnerung an denselben. Auch das ist ein unrichtiges Urteil. Durch das Zusammenleben mit dem Herrn wird für den Hund dessen Gegenwart Bedürfnis, und er empfindet dadurch die Abwesenheit in ähnlicher Art, wie er den Hunger empfinde. Wer solche Unterscheidungen nicht macht, wird nicht zur Klarheit über die wahren Verhältnisse des Lebens kommen.

[ 13 ] Aus gewissen Vorurteilen heraus wird man gegen diese Darstellung einwenden, dass man doch nicht wissen könne, ob beim Tiere etwas der menschlichen Erinnerung Ähnliches vorhanden sei oder nicht. Solcher Einwand beruht aber auf einer ungeschulten Beobachtung. Wer wirklich sinngemäß beobachten kann, wie sich das Tier im Zusammenhange seiner Erlebnisse verhält, der bemerkt den Unterschied dieses Verhaltens von dem des Menschen. Und er wird sich klar, dass das Tier sich so verhält, wie es dem Nichtvorhandensein der Erinnerung entspricht. Für die übersinnliche Beobachtung ist das ohne weiteres klar. Doch, was dieser übersinnlichen Beobachtung unmittelbar zum Bewusstsein kommt, das kann an seinen Wirkungen auf diesem Gebiete auch von der sinnlichen Wahrnehmung und deren denkender Durchdringung erkannt werden. Wenn man sagt, der Mensch wisse von seiner Erinnerung durch innere Seelenbeobachtung, die er doch beim Tiere nicht anstellen könne, so liegt einer solchen Behauptung ein verhängnisvoller Irrtum zugrunde. Was sich der Mensch über seine Erinnerungsfähigkeit zu sagen hat, das kann er nämlich gar nicht einer inneren Seelenbeobachtung entnehmen, sondern allein dem, was er mit sich in dem Verhalten zu den Dingen und Vorgängen der Außenwelt erlebt. Diese Erlebnisse macht er mit sich und mit einem andern Menschen und auch mit den Tieren auf die ganz gleiche Weise. Es ist nur ein Schein, der den Menschen blendet, wenn er glaubt, er beurteile das Vorhandensein der Erinnerung nur an der inneren Beobachtung. Was der Erinnerung als Kraft zugrunde liegt, mag innerlich genannt werden; das Urteil über diese Kraft wird auch für die eigene Person durch den Blick auf den Zusammenhang des Lebens an der Außenwelt erworben. Und diesen Zusammenhang kann man wie bei sich auch bei dem Tiere beurteilen. In bezug auf solche Dinge leidet unsere gebräuchliche Psychologie an ihren ganz ungeschulten, ungenauen, im hohen Maße durch Beobachtungsfehler täuschenden Vorstellungen.

[ 14 ] Für das «Ich» bedeuten Erinnerung und Vergessen etwas durchaus Ähnliches wie für den Astralleib Wachen und Schlaf. Wie der Schlaf die Sorgen und Bekümmernisse des Tages in ein Nichts verschwinden lässt, so breitet Vergessen einen Schleier über die schlimmen Erfahrungen des Lebens und löscht dadurch einen Teil der Vergangenheit aus. Und wie der Schlaf notwendig ist, damit die erschöpften Lebenskräfte neu gestärkt werden, so muss der Mensch gewisse Teile seiner Vergangenheit aus der Erinnerung vertilgen, wenn er neuen Erlebnissen frei und unbefangen gegenüberstehen soll. Aber gerade aus dem Vergessen erwächst ihm Stärkung für die Wahrnehmung des Neuen. Man denke an Tatsachen wie das Lernen des Schreibens. Alle Einzelheiten, welche das Kind zu durchleben hat, um schreiben zu lernen, werden vergessen. Was bleibt, ist die Fähigkeit des Schreibens. Wie würde der Mensch schreiben, wenn beim jedesmaligen Ansetzen der Feder alle die Erlebnisse in der Seele als Erinnerung aufstiegen, welche beim Schreibenlernen durchgemacht werden mussten.

[ 15 ] Nun tritt die Erinnerung in verschiedenen Stufen auf. Schon das ist die einfachste Form der Erinnerung, wenn der Mensch einen Gegenstand wahrnimmt und er dann nach dem Abwenden von dem Gegenstande die Vorstellung von ihm wieder erwecken kann. Diese Vorstellung hat der Mensch sich gebildet, während er den Gegenstand wahrgenommen hat. Es hat sich da ein Vorgang abgespielt zwischen seinem astralischen Leibe und seinem Ich. Der Astralleib hat den äußeren Eindruck von dem Gegenstande bewusst gemacht. Doch würde das Wissen von dem Gegenstande nur so lange dauern, als dieser gegenwärtig ist, wenn das Ich nicht das Wissen in sich aufnehmen und zu seinem Besitztume machen würde. Hier an diesem Punkte scheidet die übersinnliche Anschauung das Leibliche von dem Seelischen. Man spricht vom Astralleibe, solange man die Entstehung des Wissens von einem gegenwärtigen Gegenstande im Auge hat. Dasjenige aber, was dem Wissen Dauer gibt, bezeichnet man als Seele. Man sieht aber zugleich aus dem Gesagten, wie eng verbunden im Menschen der Astralleib mit dem Teile der Seele ist, welcher dem Wissen Dauer verleiht. Beide sind gewissermaßen zu einem Gliede der menschlichen Wesenheit vereinigt. Deshalb kann man auch diese Vereinigung als Astralleib bezeichnen. Auch kann man, wenn man eine genaue Bezeichnung will, von dem Astralleib des Menschen als dem Seelenleib sprechen, und von der Seele, insofern sie mit diesem vereinigt ist, als der Empfindungsseele.

[ 16 ] Das Ich steigt zu einer höheren Stufe seiner Wesenheit, wenn es seine Tätigkeit auf das richtet, was es aus dem Wissen der Gegenstände zu seinem Besitztum gemacht hat. Dies ist die Tätigkeit, durch welche sich das Ich von den Gegenständen der Wahrnehmung immer mehr loslöst, um in seinem eigenen Besitze zu arbeiten. Den Teil der Seele, dem dieses zukommt, kann man als Verstandes- oder Gemütsseele bezeichnen. — Sowohl der Empfindungsseele wie der Verstandesseele ist es eigen, dass sie mit dem arbeiten, was sie durch die Eindrücke der von den Sinnen wahrgenommenen Gegenstände erhalten und davon in der Erinnerung bewahren. Die Seele ist da ganz hingegeben an das, was für sie ein Äußeres ist. Auch dies hat sie ja von außen empfangen, was sie durch die Erinnerung zu ihrem eigenen Besitz macht. Sie kann aber über all das hinausgehen. Sie ist nicht allein Empfindungsund Verstandesseele. Die übersinnliche Anschauung vermag am leichtesten eine Vorstellung von diesem Hinausgehen zu bilden, wenn sie auf eine einfache Tatsache hinweist, die nur in ihrer umfassenden Bedeutung gewürdigt werden muss. Es ist diejenige, dass es im ganzen Umfange der Sprache einen einzigen Namen gibt, der seiner Wesenheit nach sich von allen andern Namen unterscheidet. Dies ist eben der Name «Ich». Jeden andern Namen kann dem Dinge oder Wesen, denen er zukommt, jeder Mensch geben. Das «Ich» als Bezeichnung für ein Wesen hat nur dann einen Sinn, wenn dieses Wesen sich diese Bezeichnung selbst beilegt. Niemals kann von außen an eines Menschen Ohr der Name «Ich» als seine Bezeichnung dringen; nur das Wesen selbst kann ihn auf sich anwenden. «Ich bin ein Ich nur für mich; für jeden andern bin ich ein Du; und jeder andere ist für mich ein Du.» Diese Tatsache ist der äußere Ausdruck einer tief bedeutsamen Wahrheit. Das eigentliche Wesen des «Ich» ist von allem Äußeren unabhängig; deshalb kann ihm sein Name auch von keinem Äußeren zugerufen werden. Jene religiösen Bekenntnisse, welche mit Bewusstsein ihren Zusammenhang mit der übersinnlichen Anschauung aufrechterhalten haben, nennen daher die Bezeichnung «Ich» den «unaussprechlichen Namen Gottes». Denn gerade auf das Angedeutete wird gewiesen, wenn dieser Ausdruck gebraucht wird. Kein Äußeres hat Zugang zu jenem Teile der menschlichen Seele, der hiermit ins Auge gefasst ist. Hier ist das «verborgene Heiligtum» der Seele. Nur ein Wesen kann da Einlas gewinnen, mit dem die Seele gleicher Art ist. «Der Gott, der im Menschen wohnt, spricht, wenn die Seele sich als Ich erkennt.» Wie die Empfindungsseele und die Verstandesseele in der äußeren Welt leben, so taucht ein drittes Glied der Seele in das Göttliche ein, wenn diese zur Wahrnehmung ihrer eigenen Wesenheit gelangt.

[ 17 ] Leicht kann demgegenüber das Missverständnis entstehen, als ob solche Anschauungen das Ich mit Gott für Eins erklärten. Aber sie sagen durchaus nicht, dass das Ich Gott sei, sondern nur, dass es mit dem Göttlichen von einerlei Art und Wesenheit ist. Behauptet denn jemand, der Tropfen Wasser, der dem Meere entnommen ist, sei das Meer, wenn er sagt: der Tropfen sei derselben Wesenheit oder Substanz wie das Meer? Will man durchaus einen Vergleich gebrauchen, so kann man sagen: wie der Tropfen sich zu dem Meere verhält, so verhält sich das «Ich» zum Göttlichen. Der Mensch kann in sich ein Göttliches finden, weil sein ureigenstes Wesen dem Göttlichen entnommen ist. So also erlangt der Mensch durch dieses sein drittes Seelenglied, ein inneres Wissen von sich selbst, wie er durch den Astralleib ein Wissen von der Außenwelt erhält. Deshalb kann die Geheimwissenschaft dieses dritte Seelenglied auch die Bewusstseinsseele nennen. Und in ihrem Sinne besteht das Seelische aus drei Gliedern: der Empfindungsseele, Verstandesseele und Bewusstseinsseele, wie das Leibliche aus drei Gliedern besteht, dem physischen Leib, dem Ätherleib und dem Astralleib.

[ 18 ] Psychologische Beobachtungsfehler, ähnlich denjenigen, die schon für die Beurteilung der Erinnerungsfähigkeit besprochen worden sind, machen auch die rechte Einsicht in die Wesenheit des «Ich» schwierig. Man kann manches, das man glaubt einzusehen, für eine Widerlegung des oben in dieser Beziehung Ausgeführten halten, während es in Wahrheit eine Bestätigung darstellt. Solches ist der Fall, zum Beispiel, mit den Bemerkungen, die Eduard von Hartmann auf Seite 55 f. seines «Grundrisses der Psychologie» System der Philosophie im Grundriss. Band III. Bad Sachsa 1908. über das «Ich» angibt: «Zunächst ist das Selbstbewusstsein älter als das Wort Ich. Die persönlichen Fürwörter sind ein ziemlich spätes Produkt der Sprachentwicklung und haben für die Sprache nur den Wert von Abkürzungen. Das Wort Ich ist ein kürzerer Ersatz für den Eigennamen des Redenden, aber ein Ersatz, den jeder Redende als solcher von sich braucht, gleichviel mit welchem Eigennamen die anderen ihn benennen. Das Selbstbewusstsein kann sich bei Tieren und bei ununterrichteten taubstummen Menschen sehr hoch entwickeln, selbst ohne an einen Eigennamen anzuknüpfen. Das Bewusstsein des Eigennamens kann vollständig den fehlenden Gebrauch des Ich ersetzen. Mit dieser Einsicht ist der magische Nimbus beseitigt, mit dem für viele das Wörtchen Ich umkleidet ist; es kann dem Begriff des Selbstbewusstseins nicht das mindeste hinzusetzen, sondern empfängt seinen ganzen Inhalt lediglich von diesem.» Man kann mit solchen Ansichten ganz einverstanden sein; auch damit, dass dem Wörtchen Ich kein magischer Nimbus verliehen werde, der die besonnene Anschauung über die Sache nur trübt. Aber für das Wesen einer Sache entscheidet nicht, wie allmählich die Wortbezeichnung für diese Sache herbeigeführt wird. Eben darauf kommt es an, dass die wirkliche Wesenheit des Ich im Selbstbewusstsein «älter ist als das Wort Ich». Und dass der Mensch genötigt ist, dieses mit seinen nur ihm zukommenden Eigenheiten behaftete Wörtchen für das zu gebrauchen, was er im Wechselverhältnis zur Außenwelt anders erlebt, als es das Tier erleben kann. So wenig irgend etwas über die Wesenheit des Dreiecks erkannt werden kann dadurch, dass man zeigt, wie das «Wort» Dreieck sich gebildet hat, so wenig entscheidet über die Wesenheit des Ich, was man wissen kann darüber, wie aus anderem Wortgebrauch der des Ich in der Sprachentwicklung sich gestaltet hat.

[ 19 ] In der Bewusstseinsseele enthüllt sich erst die wirkliche Natur des «Ich». Denn während sich die Seele in Empfindung und Verstand an anderes verliert, ergreift sie als Bewusstseinsseele ihre eigene Wesenheit. Daher kann dieses «Ich» durch die Bewusstseinsseele auch nicht anders als durch eine gewisse innere Tätigkeit wahrgenommen werden. Die Vorstellungen von äußeren Gegenständen werden gebildet, so wie diese Gegenstände kommen und gehen; und diese Vorstellungen arbeiten im Verstande weiter durch ihre eigene Kraft. Soll aber das «Ich» sich selbst wahrnehmen, so kann es nicht bloß sich hingeben; es muss durch innere Tätigkeit seine Wesenheit aus den eigenen Tiefen erst heraufholen, um ein Bewusstsein davon zu haben. Mit der Wahrnehmung des «Ich» — mit der Selbstbesinnung — beginnt eine innere Tätigkeit des «Ich». Durch diese Tätigkeit hat die Wahrnehmung des Ich in der Bewusstseinsseele für den Menschen eine ganz andere Bedeutung als die Beobachtung alles dessen, was durch die drei Leibesglieder und durch die beiden andern Glieder der Seele an ihn herandringt. Die Kraft, welche in der Bewusstseinsseele das Ich offenbar macht, ist ja dieselbe wie diejenige, welche sich in aller übrigen Welt kundgibt. Nur tritt sie in dem Leibe und in den niederen Seelengliedern nicht unmittelbar hervor, sondern offenbart sich stufenweise in ihren Wirkungen. Die unterste Offenbarung ist diejenige durch den physischen Leib; dann geht es stufenweise hinauf bis zu dem, was die Verstandesseele erfüllt. Man könnte sagen, mit dem Hinansteigen über jede Stufe fällt einer der Schleier, mit denen das Verborgene umhüllt ist. In dem, was die Bewusstseinsseele erfüllt, tritt dieses Verborgene hüllenlos in den innersten Seelentempel. Doch zeigt es sich da eben nur wie ein Tropfen aus dem Meere der alles durchdringenden Geistigkeit. Aber der Mensch muss diese Geistigkeit hier zunächst ergreifen. Er muss sie in sich selbst erkennen; dann kann er sie auch in ihren Offenbarungen finden. Was da wie ein Tropfen hereindringt in die Bewusstseinsseele, das nennt die Geheimwissenschaft den Geist. So ist die Bewusstseinsseele mit dem Geiste verbunden, der das Verborgene in allem Offenbaren ist. Wenn der Mensch nun den Geist in aller Offenbarung ergreifen will, so muss er dies auf dieselbe Art tun, wie er das Ich in der Bewusstseinsseele ergreift. Er muss die Tätigkeit, welche ihn zum Wahrnehmen dieses Ich geführt hat, auf die offenbare Welt hinwenden. Dadurch aber entwickelt er sich zu höheren Stufen seiner Wesenheit. Er setzt den Leibesund Seelengliedern Neues an. Das nächste ist, dass er dasjenige auch noch selbst erobert, was in den niederen Gliedern seiner Seele verborgen liegt. Und dies geschieht durch seine vom Ich ausgehende Arbeit an seiner Seele. Wie der Mensch in dieser Arbeit begriffen ist, das wird anschaulich, wenn man einen Menschen, der noch ganz niederem Begehren und sogenannter sinnlicher Lust hingegeben ist, vergleicht mit einem edlen Idealisten. Der letztere wird aus dem ersteren, wenn jener sich von gewissen niederen Neigungen abzieht und höheren zuwendet. Er hat dadurch vom Ich aus veredelnd, vergeistigend auf seine Seele gewirkt. Das Ich ist Herr geworden innerhalb des Seelenlebens. Das kann so weit gehen, dass in der Seele keine Begierde, keine Lust Platz greift, ohne dass das Ich die Gewalt ist, welche den Einlass ermöglicht. Auf diese Art wird dann die ganze Seele eine Offenbarung des Ich, wie es vorher nur die Bewusstseinsseele war. Im Grunde besteht alles Kulturleben und alles geistige Streben der Menschen aus einer Arbeit, welche diese Herrschaft des Ich zum Ziele hat. Jeder gegenwärtig lebende Mensch ist in dieser Arbeit begriffen: er mag wollen oder nicht, er mag von dieser Tatsache ein Bewusstsein haben oder nicht.

[ 20 ] Durch diese Arbeit aber geht es zu höheren Stufen der Menschenwesenheit hinan. Der Mensch entwickelt durch sie neue Glieder seiner Wesenheit. Diese liegen als Verborgenes hinter dem für ihn Offenbaren. Es kann sich der Mensch aber nicht nur durch die Arbeit an seiner Seele vom Ich aus zum Herrscher über diese Seele machen, so dass diese aus dem Offenbaren das Verborgene hervortreibt, sondern er kann diese Arbeit auch erweitern. Er kann übergreifen auf den Astralleib. Dadurch bemächtigt sich das Ich dieses Astralleibes, indem es sich mit dessen verborgener Wesenheit vereinigt. Dieser durch das Ich eroberte, von ihm umgewandelte Astralleib kann das Geistselbst genannt werden. (Es ist dies dasselbe, was man in Anlehnung an die morgenländische Weisheit «Manas» nennt.) In dem Geistselbst ist ein höheres Glied der Menschenwesenheit gegeben, ein solches, das in ihr gleichsam keimhaft vorhanden ist und das im Laufe ihrer Arbeit an sich selbst immer mehr herauskommt.b2Zwischen den Veränderungen, welche sich durch die Tätigkeit des Ich im Astralleibe vollziehen, und jenen, die im Ätherleibe vorgehen, lässt sich eine feste Grenze nicht ziehen. Es gehen die einen in die anderen über. Wenn der Mensch etwas lernt und sich dadurch eine gewisse Fähigkeit des Urteiles erwirbt, so ist eine Veränderung im Astralleibe eingetreten; wenn aber dieses Urteil seine Seelenverfassung ändert, so dass er sich gewöhnt, über eine Sache nach dem Lernen anders zu empfinden als vorher, so liegt eine Änderung im Ätherleibe vor. Alles, was so menschliches Eigentum wird, dass sich der Mensch immer wieder daran erinnern kann, beruht auf einer Änderung des Ätherleibes. Was nach und nach ein fester Schatz des Gedächtnisses wird, dem liegt zugrunde, dass sich die Arbeit am Astralleibe auf den Ätherleib übertragen hat.

[ 21 ] Wie der Mensch seinen Astralleib erobert dadurch, dass er zu den verborgenen Kräften, die hinter ihm stehen, vordringt, so geschieht das im Laufe der Entwicklung auch mit dem Ätherleibe. Die Arbeit an diesem Ätherleibe ist aber eine intensivere als die am Astralleibe; denn was sich in dem ersteren verbirgt, das ist in zwei, das Verborgene des Astralleibes jedoch nur in einen Schleier gehüllt. Man kann sich einen Begriff von dem Unterschiede in der Arbeit an den beiden Leibern bilden, indem man auf gewisse Veränderungen hinweist, die mit dem Menschen im Verlaufe seiner Entwicklung eintreten können. Man denke zunächst, wie gewisse Seeleneigenschaften des Menschen sich entwickeln, wenn das Ich an der Seele arbeitet. Wie Lust und Begierden, Freude und Schmerz sich ändern können. Der Mensch braucht da nur zurückzudenken an die Zeit seiner Kindheit. Woran hat er da seine Freude gehabt; was hat ihm Leid verursacht? Was hat er zu dem hinzugelernt, was er in der Kindheit gekonnt hat? Alles das aber ist nur ein Ausdruck davon, wie das Ich die Herrschaft erlangt hat über den Astralleib. Denn dieser ist ja der Träger von Lust und Leid, von Freude und Schmerz. Und man vergleiche damit, wie wenig sich im Laufe der Zeit gewisse andere Eigenschaften des Menschen ändern, zum Beispiel sein Temperament, die tieferen Eigentümlichkeiten seines Charakters usw. Ein Mensch, der als Kind jähzornig ist, wird gewisse Seiten des Jähzorns auch für seine Entwicklung in das spätere Leben hinein oft beibehalten. Die Sache ist so auffallend, dass es Denker gibt, welche die Möglichkeit ganz in Abrede stellen, dass der Grundcharakter eines Menschen sich ändern könne. Sie nehmen an, dass dieser etwas durch das Leben hindurch Bleibendes sei, welches sich nur nach dieser oder jener Seite offenbare. Ein solches Urteil beruht aber nur auf einem Mangel in der Beobachtung. Wer den Sinn dafür hat, solche Dinge zu sehen, dem wird klar, dass sich auch Charakter und Temperament des Menschen unter dem Einflusse seines Ich ändern. Allerdings ist diese Änderung im Verhältnis zur Änderung der vorhin gekennzeichneten Eigenschaften eine langsame. Man kann den Vergleich gebrauchen, dass das Verhältnis der beiderlei Änderungen ist wie das Vorrücken des Stundenzeigers der Uhr im Verhältnis zum Minutenzeiger. Nun gehören die Kräfte, welche diese Änderung von Charakter oder Temperament bewirken, dem verborgenen Gebiet des Ätherleibes an. Sie sind gleicher Art mit den Kräften, welche im Reiche des Lebens herrschen, also mit den Wachstums-, Ernährungskräften und denjenigen, welche der Fortpflanzung dienen. Auf diese Dinge wird durch die weiteren Ausführungen dieser Schrift das rechte Licht fallen. — Also nicht, wenn sich der Mensch bloß hingibt an Lust und Leid, an Freude und Schmerz, arbeitet das Ich am Astralleib, sondern wenn sich die Eigentümlichkeiten dieser Seeleneigenschaften ändern. Und ebenso erstreckt sich die Arbeit auf den Ätherleib, wenn das Ich seine Tätigkeit an eine Änderung seiner Charaktereigenschaften, seiner Temperamente usw. wendet. Auch an dieser letzteren Änderung arbeitet jeder Mensch: er mag sich dessen bewusst sein oder nicht. Die stärksten Impulse, welche im gewöhnlichen Leben auf diese Änderung hinarbeiten, sind die religiösen. Wenn das Ich die Antriebe, die aus der Religion fließen, immer wieder und wieder auf sich wirken lässt, so bilden diese in ihm eine Macht, welche bis in den Ätherleib hineinwirkt und diesen ebenso wandelt, wie geringere Antriebe des Lebens die Verwandlung des Astralleibes bewirken. Diese geringeren Antriebe des Lebens, welche durch Lernen, Nachdenken, Veredelung der Gefühle usw. an den Menschen herankommen, unterliegen dem mannigfaltig wechselnden Dasein; die religiösen Empfindungen drücken aber allem Denken, Fühlen und Wollen etwas Einheitliches auf. Sie breiten gleichsam ein gemeinsames, einheitliches Licht über das ganze Seelenleben aus. Der Mensch denkt und fühlt heute dies, morgen jenes. Dazu führen die verschiedensten Veranlassungen. Wer aber durch sein wie immer geartetes religiöses Empfinden etwas ahnt, das sich durch allen Wechsel hindurchzieht, der wird, was er heute denkt und fühlt, ebenso auf diese Grundempfindung beziehen wie die morgigen Erlebnisse seiner Seele. Das religiöse Bekenntnis hat dadurch etwas Durchgreifendes im Seelenleben; seine Einflüsse verstärken sich im Laufe der Zeit immer mehr, weil sie in fortdauernder Wiederholung wirken. Deshalb erlangen sie die Macht, auf den Ätherleib zu wirken. — In ähnlicher Art wirken die Einflüsse der wahren Kunst auf den Menschen. Wenn er durch die äußere Form, durch Farbe und Ton eines Kunstwerkes die geistigen Untergründe desselben mit Vorstellen und Gefühl durchdringt, dann wirken die Impulse, welche dadurch das Ich empfängt, in der Tat auch bis auf den Ätherleib. Wenn man diesen Gedanken zu Ende denkt, so kann man ermessen, welch ungeheure Bedeutung die Kunst für alle menschliche Entwicklung hat. Nur auf einiges ist hiermit hingewiesen, was dem Ich die Antriebe liefert, auf den Ätherleib zu wirken. Es gibt viele dergleichen Einflüsse im Menschenleben, die dem beobachtenden Blick nicht so offen liegen wie die genannten. Aber schon aus diesen ist ersichtlich, dass im Menschen ein weiteres Glied seiner Wesenheit verborgen ist, welches das Ich immer mehr und mehr herausarbeitet. Man kann dieses Glied als das zweite des Geistes, und zwar als den Lebensgeist bezeichnen. (Es ist dasselbe, was man mit Anlehnung an die morgenländische Weisheit «Buddhi» nennt.) Der Ausdruck «Lebensgeist» ist deshalb der entsprechende, weil in dem, was er bezeichnet, dieselben Kräfte wirksam sind wie in dem «Lebensleib»; nur ist in diesen Kräften, wenn sie als Lebensleib sich offenbaren, das menschliche Ich nicht tätig. Äußern sie sich aber als Lebensgeist, so sind sie von der Tätigkeit des Ich durchsetzt.

[ 22 ] Die intellektuelle Entwicklung des Menschen, seine Läuterung und Veredelung von Gefühlen und Willensäußerungen sind das Maß seiner Verwandlung des Astralleibes zum Geistselbst; seine religiösen Erlebnisse und manche anderen Erfahrungen prägen sich dem Ätherleibe ein und machen diesen zum Lebensgeist. Im gewöhnlichen Verlaufe des Lebens geschieht dies mehr oder weniger unbewusst, dagegen besteht die sogenannte Einweihung des Menschen darin, dass er durch die übersinnliche Erkenntnis auf die Mittel hingewiesen wird, wodurch er diese Arbeit im Geistselbst und Lebensgeist ganz bewusst in die Hand nehmen kann. Von diesen Mitteln wird in späteren Teilen dieser Schrift die Rede sein. Vorläufig handelte es sich darum, zu zeigen, dass im Menschen außer der Seele und dem Leibe auch der Geist wirksam ist. Auch das wird sich später zeigen, wie dieser Geist zum Ewigen des Menschen, im Gegensatz zu dem vergänglichen Leibe, gehört.

[ 23 ] Mit der Arbeit am Astralleib und am Ätherleib ist aber die Tätigkeit des Ich noch nicht erschöpft. Diese erstreckt sich auch auf den physischen Leib. Einen Anflug von dem Einflusse des Ich auf den physischen Leib kann man sehen, wenn durch gewisse Erlebnisse zum Beispiel Erröten oder Erbleichen eintreten. Hier ist das Ich in der Tat der Veranlasser eines Vorganges im physischen Leib. Wenn nun durch die Tätigkeit des Ich im Menschen Veränderungen eintreten in bezug auf seinen Einfluss im physischen Leibe, so ist das Ich wirklich vereinigt mit den verborgenen Kräften dieses physischen Leibes. Mit denselben Kräften, welche seine physischen Vorgänge bewirken. Man kann dann sagen, das Ich arbeitet durch eine solche Tätigkeit am physischen Leibe. Es darf dieser Ausdruck nicht missverstanden werden. Die Meinung darf gar nicht aufkommen, als ob diese Arbeit etwas Grob-Materielles sei. Was am physischen Leibe als das Grob-Materielle erscheint, das ist ja nur das Offenbare an ihm. Hinter diesem Offenbaren liegen die verborgenen Kräfte seines Wesens. Und diese sind geistiger Art. Nicht von einer Arbeit an dem Materiellen, als welches der physische Leib erscheint, soll hier gesprochen werden, sondern von der geistigen Arbeit an den unsichtbaren Kräften, welche ihn entstehen lassen und wieder zum Zerfall bringen. Für das gewöhnliche Leben kann dem Menschen diese Arbeit des Ich am physischen Leibe nur mit einer sehr geringen Klarheit zum Bewusstsein kommen. Diese Klarheit kommt im vollen Maße erst, wenn unter dem Einfluss der übersinnlichen Erkenntnis der Mensch die Arbeit bewusst in die Hand nimmt. Dann aber tritt zutage, dass es noch ein drittes geistiges Glied im Menschen gibt. Es ist dasjenige, welches der Geistesmensch im Gegensatze zum physischen Menschen genannt werden kann. (In der morgenländischen Weisheit heißt dieser «Geistesmensch» das «Atma».)

[ 24 ] Man wird in bezug auf den Geistesmenschen auch dadurch leicht irregeführt, dass man in dem physischen Leibe das niedrigste Glied des Menschen sieht und sich deswegen mit der Vorstellung nur schwer abfindet, dass die Arbeit an diesem physischen Leibe zu dem höchsten Glied in der Menschenwesenheit kommen soll. Aber gerade deswegen, weil der physische Leib den in ihm tätigen Geist unter drei Schleiern verbirgt, gehört die höchste Art von menschlicher Arbeit dazu, um das Ich mit dem zu einigen, was sein verborgener Geist ist.

[ 25 ] So stellt sich der Mensch für die Geheimwissenschaft als eine aus verschiedenen Gliedern zusammengesetzte Wesenheit dar. Leiblicher Art sind: der physische Leib, der Ätherleib und der Astralleib. Seelisch sind: Empfindungsseele, Verstandesseele und Bewusstseinsseele. In der Seele breitet das Ich sein Licht aus. Und geistig sind: Geistselbst, Lebensgeist und Geistesmensch. Aus den obigen Ausführungen geht hervor, dass die Empfindungsseele und der Astralleib eng vereinigt sind und in einer gewissen Beziehung ein Ganzes ausmachen. In ähnlicher Art sind Bewusstseinsseele und Geistselbst ein Ganzes. Denn in der Bewusstseinsseele leuchtet der Geist auf und von ihr aus durchstrahlt er die andern Glieder der Menschennatur. Mit Rücksicht darauf kann man auch von der folgenden Gliederung des Menschen sprechen. Man kann Astralleib und Empfindungsseele als ein Glied zusammenfassen, ebenso Bewusstseinsseele und Geistselbst und kann die Verstandesseele, weil sie an der Ich-Natur Teil hat, weil sie in einer gewissen Beziehung schon das «Ich» ist, das sich seiner Geistwesenheit nur noch nicht bewusst ist, als «Ich» schlechtweg bezeichnen und bekommt dann sieben Teile des Menschen: 1. Physischer Leib 2. Ätherleib oder Lebensleib; 3. Astralleib; 4. Ich; 5. Geistselbst; 6. Lebensgeist; 7. Geistmensch.

[ 26 ] Auch für den an materialistische Vorstellungen gewöhnten Menschen würde diese Gliederung des Menschen im Sinne der Siebenzahl nicht das «unklar Zauberhafte» haben, das er ihr oft zuschreibt, wenn er sich genau an den Sinn der obigen Auseinandersetzungen halten würde und nicht von vornherein dieses «Zauberhafte» selbst in die Sache hineinlegen würde. In keiner andern Art, nur vom Gesichtspunkte einer höheren Form der Weltbeobachtung aus, sollte von diesen «sieben» Gliedern des Menschen gesprochen werden, so wie man von den sieben Farben des Lichtes spricht oder von den sieben Tönen der Tonleiter (indem man die Oktave als eine Wiederholung des Grundtones betrachtet). Wie das Licht in sieben Farben, der Ton in sieben Stufen erscheint, so die einheitliche Menschennatur in den gekennzeichneten sieben Gliedern. So wenig die Siebenzahl bei Ton und Farbe etwas von «Aberglauben» mit sich führt, so wenig ist das mit Bezug auf sie bei der Gliederung des Menschen der Fall. (Es ist bei einer Gelegenheit, als dies einmal mündlich vorgebracht worden ist, gesagt worden, dass die Sache bei den Farben mit der Siebenzahl doch nicht stimme, da jenseits des «Roten» und des «Violetten» doch auch noch Farben liegen, welche das Auge nur nicht wahrnimmt. Aber auch in Anbetracht dessen stimmt der Vergleich mit den Farben, denn auch jenseits des physischen Leibes auf der einen Seite und jenseits des Geistesmenschen anderseits setzt sich die Wesenheit des Menschen fort; nur sind für die Mittel der geistigen Beobachtung diese Fortsetzungen «geistig unsichtbar», wie die Farben jenseits von Rot und Violett für das physische Auge unsichtbar sind. Diese Bemerkung musste gemacht werden, weil so leicht die Meinung aufkommt, die übersinnliche Anschauung nehme es mit dem naturwissenschaftlichen Denken nicht genau, sie sei in bezug auf dasselbe dilettantisch. Wer aber richtig zusieht, was mit dem Gesagten gemeint ist, der kann finden, dass dies in Wahrheit nirgends in einem Widerspruch steht mit der echten Naturwissenschaft; weder wenn naturwissenschaftliche Tatsachen zur Veranschaulichung herangezogen werden, noch auch wenn mit den hier gemachten Äußerungen auf ein unmittelbares Verhältnis zu der Naturforschung gedeutet wird.)

The nature of humanity

[ 1 ] When considering man from the point of view of a supersensible mode of cognition, what applies to this mode of cognition in general immediately comes into effect. This observation is based on the recognition of the "revealed secret" in one's own human nature. Only a part of what is grasped as human essence in supersensible knowledge, namely the physical body, is accessible to the senses and the understanding based on them. In order to shed light on the concept of this physical body, attention must first be drawn to the phenomenon that lies spread out like the great enigma over all observation of life: death and, in connection with it, so-called inanimate nature, the realm of the mineral, which always carries death within it. This refers to facts whose full elucidation is only possible through supersensible knowledge and to which an important part of this book must be devoted. For the time being, however, only a few ideas are to be suggested here for orientation.

[ 2 ] Within the revealed world, the physical human body is that in which man is equal to the mineral world. On the other hand, that which distinguishes man from the mineral cannot be considered the physical body. For an unbiased view, the most important fact is that death exposes that part of the human being which, when death has occurred, is of the same nature as the mineral world. One can point to the corpse as that of the human being which is subject to processes after death that are found in the realm of the mineral world. One can emphasize the fact that in this member of the human being, the corpse, the same substances and forces are active as in the mineral realm; but it is necessary to emphasize no less strongly that with death decay occurs for this physical body. But it is also justified to say: certainly, the same substances and forces are active in the physical human body as in the mineral; but their activity is placed in a higher service during life. They only work like the mineral world when death has occurred. Then they appear as they must appear according to their own nature, namely as dissolvers of the physical body structure.

[ 3 ] So in man, the obvious must be sharply distinguished from the hidden. For during life, the hidden must wage a constant battle against the substances and forces of the mineral in the physical body. When this struggle ceases, the mineral activity emerges. - This points to the point at which the science of the supersensible must begin. It has to search for that which wages the battle indicated. And this is hidden from the observation of the senses. It is only accessible to supersensible observation. How man arrives at the point where this "hidden" is revealed to him in the same way as sensory phenomena are to the ordinary eye will be discussed in a later part of this book. Here, however, we will describe what emerges from supersensible observation.

[ 4 ] It has already been said that information about the way to higher vision can only be of value to man if he has first familiarized himself with what supersensible research reveals through mere narration. For one can also comprehend in this field that which one has not yet observed. Indeed, the good path to seeing is the one that starts from understanding.

[ 5 ] Although that which is hidden, which in the physical body fights against decay, can only be observed by higher vision, its effects are clearly evident to the power of judgment, which is limited to the obvious. And these effects are expressed in the form or shape in which the mineral substances and forces of the physical body are assembled during life. This form gradually disappears and the physical body becomes part of the rest of the mineral world when death has occurred. The supersensible view, however, can observe as an independent part of the human being that which prevents the physical substances and forces during life from going their own way, which leads to the dissolution of the physical body. This independent member is called the "etheric body" or "life body". - If misunderstandings are not to creep in right from the start, two things must be taken into account with regard to these designations of a second part of the human being. The word "ether" is used here in a different sense than it is used in contemporary physics. This describes, for example, the carrier of light as ether. Here, however, the word is to be limited in the sense given above. It is to be used for that which is accessible to higher vision and which only reveals itself to sense observation in its effects, namely in that it is able to give a certain form or shape to the mineral substances and forces present in the physical body. Nor should the word "body" be misunderstood. The words of ordinary language must be used to describe the higher things of existence. And these only express the sensual for sensory observation. In the sensory sense, of course, the "etheric body" is nothing corporeal, however fine one may imagine it to be. The author of this book has stated in his "Theosophy" that the term "etheric body", "life body", is not simply intended to renew the view of the old "life force", which has been overcome by natural science.

[ 6 ] When one reaches the mention of this "etheric body" or "life body" in the description of the supersensible, the point is already reached at which such a description must encounter the contradiction of some current views. The development of the human spirit has led to the point where, in our time, speaking of such a part of the human being must be regarded as something unscientific. The materialistic way of thinking has come to see in the living body nothing other than a combination of physical substances and forces, as is also found in the so-called inanimate body, in the mineral. Only the combination in the living is more complicated than in the inanimate. Not so long ago, ordinary science also held different views. Anyone who follows the writings of many a serious scientist from the first half of the nineteenth century will realize how even "real natural scientists" were aware that there is something else in the living body than in the inanimate mineral. They spoke of a "life force". Although this "life force" is not presented as what is described above as the "living body", the idea in question is based on an idea that there is such a thing. This "life force" was imagined as being added to the physical substances and forces in the living body in a similar way as the magnetic force is added to the mere iron in the magnet. Then came the time when this "life force" was removed from the stock of science. One wanted to suffice for everything with the mere physical and chemical causes. At present, some scientific thinkers have once again suffered a setback in this respect. It is admitted by some that the assumption of something similar to the "life force" is not complete nonsense after all. However, even the "scientist" who accepts this will not want to make common cause with the view of the "living body" presented here. As a rule, engaging in a discussion with such views from the point of view of supersensible knowledge will not lead to any goal. Rather, it should be a matter of recognizing that the materialistic way of thinking is a necessary side effect of the great scientific progress of our time. This progress is based on an enormous refinement of the means of sensory observation. And it is in the nature of man that he brings individual faculties to a certain degree of perfection at the expense of others. The precise observation of the senses, which has developed to such a significant degree through natural science, has had to relegate to the background the cultivation of those human faculties which lead into the "hidden worlds". But a time has come again in which this cultivation is necessary. And the hidden will not be recognized by fighting the judgments that result from the denial of this hidden with logical consistency, but by placing this hidden itself in the right light. It will then be recognized by those for whom the "time has come".

[ 7 ] It was only necessary to say this here so that one does not assume unfamiliarity with the viewpoints of natural science when speaking of an "etheric body", which in some circles must be considered something completely fantastic.

[ 8 ] This etheric body is therefore a second member of the human being. It has a higher degree of reality for supersensible cognition than the physical body. A description of how the supersensible cognition sees it can only be given in the following parts of this writing, when it will emerge in which sense such descriptions are to be taken. For the time being it may suffice to say that the etheric body permeates the physical body everywhere and that it is to be regarded as a kind of architect of the latter. All organs are held in their form and shape by the currents and movements of the etheric body. The physical heart is based on an "etheric heart", the physical brain on an "etheric brain" and so on. The etheric body is structured in itself like the physical body, only more complicated, and everything in it is in lively confusion where there are separate parts in the physical body.

[ 9 ] The human being has this etheric body in common with the vegetable, just as he has the physical body in common with the mineral. Every living thing has its etheric body.

[ 10 ] From the etheric body, supersensible observation ascends to a further member of the human being. To form an idea of this member, it points to the phenomenon of sleep, just as it pointed to death in the etheric body. - All human creation is based on activity in waking, as far as the revelation is concerned. However, this activity is only possible if the human being repeatedly draws the strengthening of his exhausted powers from sleep. Action and thought fade away in sleep, all pain and pleasure sink into conscious life. As if from hidden, mysterious wells, conscious forces emerge from the unconsciousness of sleep when man awakens. It is the same consciousness that sinks down into the dark depths when we fall asleep and rises up again when we wake up. That which awakens life again and again from the state of unconsciousness is, in the sense of supersensible knowledge, the third member of the human being. It can be called the astral body. Just as the physical body cannot maintain its form through the mineral substances and forces within it, but must, for the sake of this preservation, be permeated by the etheric body, so the forces of the etheric body cannot shine through themselves with the light of consciousness. An etheric body left to itself would have to be in a state of sleep all the time. One could also say that it could only maintain a plant existence in the physical body. A waking etheric body is illuminated by an astral body. For sensory observation, the effect of this astral body disappears when the human being sinks into sleep. For supersensible observation it still remains; only it appears separate from the etheric body or lifted out of it. Sense observation is not concerned with the astral body itself, but only with its effects in the manifestations. And these are not directly present during sleep. In the same sense that man has his physical body in common with the minerals, his etheric body with the plants, he is of the same nature as the animals with regard to his astral body. The plants are in a perpetual state of sleep. Those who do not judge these things accurately can easily fall into the error of ascribing to plants a kind of consciousness similar to that of animals and humans in the waking state. But this can only happen if one has an imprecise idea of consciousness. It is then said that when an external stimulus is exerted on the plant, it performs certain movements just like the animal. One speaks of the sensitivity of some plants, which, for example, contract their leaves when certain external things act on them. However, the characteristic of consciousness is not that a being shows a certain counter-effect to an effect, but that the being experiences something within itself that adds something new to the mere counter-effect. Otherwise one could also speak of consciousness when a piece of iron expands under the influence of heat. Consciousness is only present when the being, for example, experiences pain internally through the effect of heat.b1Discussions such as those given in this book on the faculty of memory can very easily be misunderstood. For he who only observes the external processes will not readily notice the difference between what happens to the animal, or even to the plant, when something like memory occurs, and what is here characterized as real memory for man. Certainly, if an animal performs an action a third, fourth, etc. Certainly, if an animal performs an action a third, fourth, etc. time, it may perform it in such a way that the external process appears as if memory and the learning associated with it were present. Indeed, as some naturalists and their followers do, one may even extend the concept of memory to say that when the chick crawls out of the egg shell, it pecks at the grains and even knows how to move its head and body in such a way that it reaches its goal. It could not have learned this in the egg shell, but it is learned through the thousands and thousands of beings from which it descends (as Hering, for example, says)8 The phenomenon here can be described as something that looks like memory. But one will never come to a real understanding of the human being if one does not consider the very special thing that occurs in man as the process of the real perception of earlier experiences at later times, not merely as an influence of earlier states on later ones. Here in this book memory is called this perception of the past, not merely the self-altered reappearance of the earlier in the later. If one wanted to use the word memory for the corresponding processes in the plant and animal kingdoms, one would have to have a different one for man. In the above description of this book, it is not the word that is important, but the fact that the difference must be recognized in order to understand the human being. Nor can even very high levels of intelligence in animals apparently be brought together with what is called memory here.

[ 11 ] The fourth element of his being, which supersensible knowledge must ascribe to man, he now no longer has in common with the world of the manifest that surrounds him. It is what distinguishes him from his fellow beings, that which makes him the crown of the creation that initially belongs to him. Supersensible knowledge forms a conception of this further member of the human entity by pointing out that even within the waking experiences there is still an essential difference. This difference becomes immediately apparent when man directs his attention to the fact that in the waking state he is on the one hand constantly in the midst of experiences that must come and go, and that on the other hand he also has experiences in which this is not the case. This becomes particularly clear when we compare the experiences of humans with those of animals. The animal experiences the influences of the external world with great regularity and becomes aware of hunger and thirst under the influence of warmth and cold, pain and pleasure, and under certain regularly occurring processes of its body. Man's life is not exhausted by such experiences. He can develop desires and wishes that go beyond all this. In the case of animals, if one were able to go far enough, one would always be able to prove where the cause of an action or a sensation lies outside or within the body. This is by no means the case with man. He can generate desires and cravings for which the cause is not sufficient either within or outside his body. Everything that falls into this area must be given a special source. And this source can be seen in the sense of supersensible science in the "I" of the human being. The "I" can therefore be addressed as the fourth member of the human being. - If the astral body were left to itself, pleasure and pain, feelings of hunger and thirst would take place in it; but what would then not come about is the sensation that there is something remaining in all of this. It is not the abiding as such that is designated here as "I", but that which experiences this abiding. In this area, the terms must be defined very clearly if misunderstandings are not to arise. The dawning of the "I-feeling" begins with the realization of a permanent, lasting thing in the change of inner experiences. It is not the fact that a being feels hunger, for example, that can give it a sense of self. The hunger arises when the renewed reasons for it assert themselves in the being concerned. It will then raid its food precisely because these renewed causes are there. The ego-feeling only arises when not only these renewed inducements drive towards the food, but when a desire has arisen during a previous satiation and the consciousness of this desire has remained, so that not only the present experience of hunger, but the past experience of desire drives towards the food. - Just as the physical body disintegrates if it is not held together by the etheric body; just as the etheric body sinks into unconsciousness if it is not illuminated by the astral body, so the astral body would have to let the past sink into oblivion again and again if it were not rescued by the "I" into the present. What death is to the physical body and sleep is to the etheric body, the astral body would have to let the past sink into oblivion again and again if it were not rescued by the "I" into the present. What death is to the physical body and sleep is to the etheric body, forgetting is to the astral body. One can also say that life belongs to the etheric body, consciousness to the astral body and remembrance to the ego.

[ 12 ] It is even easier to fall into the error of ascribing consciousness to the plant than to speak of memory in the case of animals. It is so obvious to think of memory when the dog recognizes its master, whom it may not have seen for a long time. But in reality, such recognition is not based on memory at all, but on something completely different. The dog feels a certain attraction to its master. This stems from the nature of the latter. This essence gives the dog pleasure when the master is present for him. And every time this presence of the master occurs, it is the cause of a renewal of pleasure. But memory only exists when a being does not merely feel with its experiences in the present, but when it retains those of the past. One could even admit this and still fall into the error that the dog has memory. For one could say that it mourns when its master leaves it, so its memory of him remains. This is also an incorrect judgment. By living together with its master, the dog needs his presence and feels his absence in a similar way to the way it feels hunger. He who does not make such distinctions will not come to clarity about the true conditions of life.

[ 13 ] From certain prejudices it will be objected against this representation that one cannot know whether something similar to human memory is present in animals or not. However, such an objection is based on untrained observation. Anyone who can really observe how the animal behaves in the context of its experiences will notice the difference between this behavior and that of humans. And he realizes that the animal behaves in a way that corresponds to the absence of memory. For extrasensory observation, this is readily apparent. But what comes directly to the consciousness of this supersensible observation can also be recognized by its effects in this area by sensory perception and its thinking penetration. If it is said that man knows of his memory through inner observation of the soul, which he cannot do with animals, such an assertion is based on a fatal error. What man has to say to himself about his power of recollection he cannot take from any inner observation of the soul, but only from what he experiences with himself in his attitude to the things and processes of the external world. He has these experiences with himself and with another person and also with the animals in quite the same way. It is only an illusion that blinds man when he believes that he judges the existence of memory only on the basis of inner observation. What underlies memory as a force may be called inner; the judgment of this force is also acquired for the person by looking at the context of life in the outside world. And this connection can be judged in the animal as well as in oneself. With regard to such things, our common psychology suffers from its completely untrained, imprecise ideas, which are highly deceptive due to errors of observation.

[ 14 ] For the "I", memory and forgetting mean something quite similar to waking and sleep for the astral body. Just as sleep makes the worries and sorrows of the day disappear into nothingness, forgetting spreads a veil over the bad experiences of life and thereby erases a part of the past. And just as sleep is necessary to reinvigorate the exhausted forces of life, man must erase certain parts of his past from his memory if he is to face new experiences freely and impartially. But it is precisely from forgetting that he gains strength for the perception of the new. Think of things like learning to write. All the details that the child has to go through in order to learn to write are forgotten. What remains is the ability to write. How would a person write if, every time they put pen to paper, all the experiences that they had to go through when learning to write rose up in their soul as memories?

[ 15 ] Now memory occurs in different stages. The simplest form of memory is when a person perceives an object and then, after turning away from the object, is able to reawaken the idea of it. The person has formed this idea while perceiving the object. A process has taken place between his astral body and his ego. The astral body has made the outer impression of the object conscious. But the knowledge of the object would only last as long as it is present if the ego did not take the knowledge into itself and make it its possession. At this point, the supersensible perception separates the physical from the spiritual. One speaks of the astral body as long as one has the emergence of knowledge of a present object in mind. But that which gives duration to knowledge is called the soul. At the same time, however, we can see from what has been said how closely connected in man the astral body is with that part of the soul which gives duration to knowledge. Both are to a certain extent united into one member of the human being. That is why this union can also be called the astral body. Also, if one wants a precise designation, one can speak of the astral body of man as the soul body, and of the soul, insofar as it is united with this, as the sentient soul.

[ 16 ] The I rises to a higher level of its essence when it directs its activity towards that which it has made its possession from the knowledge of objects. This is the activity through which the ego detaches itself more and more from the objects of perception in order to work in its own possession. The part of the soul to which this happens can be called the mind soul or mind soul. - It is characteristic of both the sensory soul and the intellectual soul that they work with what they receive through the impressions of the objects perceived by the senses and retain them in their memory. The soul is completely devoted to what is external to it. This too it has received from outside, which it makes its own possession through memory. But it can go beyond all this. It is not only a soul of sensation and understanding. The supersensible view is most easily able to form an idea of this going beyond when it points to a simple fact that only needs to be appreciated in its comprehensive meaning. It is that in the whole scope of language there is a single name that is different in its essence from all other names. This is precisely the name "I". Any other name can be given by any person to the things or beings to which it belongs. The "I" as a designation for a being only has meaning if this being gives itself this designation. The name "I" can never penetrate a person's ear from outside as his designation; only the being itself can apply it to itself. "I am an I only for myself; for everyone else I am a you; and everyone else is a you for me." This fact is the outward expression of a deeply meaningful truth. The very essence of the "I" is independent of anything external; therefore its name cannot be called to it by anything external. Those religious confessions that have consciously maintained their connection with the supersensible view therefore call the designation "I" the "ineffable name of God". For it is precisely what is implied that is referred to when this expression is used. No external thing has access to that part of the human soul which is hereby envisaged. Here is the "hidden sanctuary" of the soul. Only a being with whom the soul is of the same nature can gain access to it. "The God who dwells in man speaks when the soul recognizes itself as I." Just as the sentient soul and the intellectual soul live in the outer world, a third member of the soul immerses itself in the divine when it comes to perceive its own essence.

[ 17 ] It is easy to misunderstand this, as if such views declared the ego to be one with God. But they do not say at all that the ego is God, but only that it is of one kind and essence with the divine. Does anyone claim that the drop of water taken from the sea is the sea when he says that the drop is of the same essence or substance as the sea? If you really want to use a comparison, you can say: just as the drop relates to the sea, so the "I" relates to the divine. Man can find a divine within himself because his very essence is taken from the divine. Thus, through this third member of the soul, man acquires an inner knowledge of himself, just as he acquires knowledge of the outer world through the astral body. This is why secret science can also call this third soul member the consciousness soul. And in its sense, the soul consists of three members: the sensory soul, the intellectual soul and the consciousness soul, just as the body consists of three members, the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body.

[ 18 ] Psychological observation errors, similar to those already discussed for the assessment of the ability to remember, also make the right insight into the essence of the "I" difficult. Some things that we think we understand can be taken as a refutation of what has been explained above in this respect, whereas in reality they are a confirmation. Such is the case, for example, with the remarks made by Eduard von Hartmann on page 55 f. of his "Grundrisses der Psychologie" System der Philosophie im Grundriss. Bad Sachsa 1908. on the "ego": "First of all, self-consciousness is older than the word ego. The personal pronouns are a rather late product of linguistic development and have only the value of abbreviations for language. The word 'I' is a shorter substitute for the speaker's proper name, but a substitute that every speaker needs as such, no matter what proper name others use to refer to him. Self-consciousness can develop to a very high level in animals and in uninstructed deaf-mute people, even without being linked to a proper name. The awareness of the proper name can completely replace the lack of use of the ego. With this insight, the magical nimbus with which the word "I" is clothed for many is removed; it cannot add the slightest thing to the concept of self-consciousness, but merely receives its entire content from it." One can quite agree with such views; also with the fact that the word "I" is not given a magical aura that only clouds the prudent view of the matter. But the essence of a thing is not determined by how gradually the word designation is brought about for this thing. What matters is that the real essence of the I in self-consciousness is "older than the word I". And that man is compelled to use this little word, with its peculiarities that are unique to him, for that which he experiences differently in his interaction with the outside world than the animal can experience. Just as little can be recognized about the essence of the triangle by showing how the "word" triangle has formed, just as little can be known about the essence of the ego by showing how the ego has developed from a different use of words in the development of language.

[ 19 ] It is only in the conscious soul that the true nature of the "I" is revealed. For while the soul loses itself to others in sensation and understanding, it grasps its own essence as a consciousness soul. Therefore, this "I" cannot be perceived by the consciousness soul in any other way than through a certain inner activity. The ideas of external objects are formed as these objects come and go; and these ideas continue to work in the mind through their own power. But if the "I" is to perceive itself, it cannot merely give itself; it must first bring up its essence from its own depths through inner activity in order to have an awareness of it. With the perception of the "I" - with self-contemplation - an inner activity of the "I" begins. Through this activity, the perception of the "I" in the consciousness soul has a completely different meaning for man than the observation of everything that comes to him through the three limbs of the body and through the other two limbs of the soul. The power that makes the I manifest in the consciousness soul is the same as that which manifests itself in the rest of the world. Only it does not emerge directly in the body and in the lower members of the soul, but reveals itself gradually in its effects. The lowest revelation is that through the physical body; then it goes up step by step to that which fills the intellectual soul. One could say that with the ascent of each stage one of the veils with which the hidden is enveloped falls. In that which fills the consciousness soul, this hiddenness enters the innermost temple of the soul without a veil. But there it only shows itself like a drop from the sea of all-pervading spirituality. But man must first grasp this spirituality here. He must recognize it in himself; then he can also find it in its revelations. What penetrates like a drop into the soul of consciousness is what secret science calls the spirit. Thus the consciousness soul is connected with the spirit, which is the hidden part of all that is revealed. If man now wants to grasp the spirit in all revelation, he must do so in the same way as he grasps the ego in the consciousness soul. He must turn the activity that led him to perceive this I towards the revealed world. In this way, however, he develops to higher levels of his being. He adds something new to the members of his body and soul. The next thing is that he also conquers that which lies hidden in the lower members of his soul. And this happens through his work on his soul, which starts from the ego. How the human being is involved in this work becomes clear when one compares a person who is still completely devoted to lower desires and so-called sensual pleasure with a noble idealist. The latter becomes the former when the latter withdraws from certain lower inclinations and turns to higher ones. He has thereby had an ennobling, spiritualizing effect on his soul from the ego. The ego has become master within the life of the soul. This can go so far that no desire, no lust can take hold in the soul without the ego being the force that makes entry possible. In this way, the whole soul then becomes a revelation of the ego, as only the consciousness soul was before. Basically, all cultural life and all spiritual striving of human beings consists of a work that has this dominion of the ego as its goal. Every human being currently alive is involved in this work: he may or may not want to, he may or may not be aware of this fact.

[ 20 ] Through this work, however, the human being ascends to higher levels. Through it, man develops new members of his being. These lie hidden behind what is revealed to him. But man can not only make himself ruler over his soul through the work on his soul from the ego, so that it drives out the hidden from the revealed, but he can also extend this work. It can reach over to the astral body. In this way the ego takes possession of this astral body by uniting itself with its hidden essence. This astral body conquered by the ego and transformed by it can be called the spirit self. (This is the same as what is called "manas" in reference to Oriental wisdom). In the spirit-self there is a higher member of the human being, one that is present in it as it were in germ form and that emerges more and more in the course of its work on itself.b2It is not possible to draw a firm boundary between the changes that take place in the astral body through the activity of the ego and those that take place in the etheric body. The one merges into the other. When man learns something and thereby acquires a certain capacity of judgment, a change has taken place in the astral body; but if this judgment changes the constitution of his soul, so that he becomes accustomed to feel differently about a thing after learning it than before, a change has taken place in the etheric body. Everything that becomes human property in such a way that a person can remember it again and again is based on a change in the etheric body. What gradually becomes a fixed treasure of the memory is based on the fact that the work on the astral body has been transferred to the etheric body.

[ 21 ] Just as man conquers his astral body by penetrating to the hidden forces behind it, the same happens in the course of development with the etheric body. The work on this etheric body, however, is more intensive than that on the astral body, for what is hidden in the former is wrapped in two, whereas what is hidden in the astral body is only wrapped in a veil. One can form an idea of the difference in the work on the two bodies by pointing to certain changes that can occur with the human being in the course of his development. First of all, consider how certain characteristics of the human soul develop when the ego works on the soul. How pleasure and desires, joy and pain can change. A person need only think back to the time of his childhood. What did he enjoy then; what caused him suffering? What did he learn in addition to what he was able to do as a child? But all this is only an expression of how the ego has gained control over the astral body. For this is the bearer of pleasure and suffering, of joy and pain. And compare with this how little certain other characteristics of the human being change in the course of time, for example, his temperament, the deeper peculiarities of his character, and so on. A person who is quick-tempered as a child will often retain certain aspects of his temper later in life. The matter is so striking that there are thinkers who completely deny the possibility that a person's basic character can change. They assume that it is something that remains throughout life and only reveals itself to one side or the other. However, such a judgment is only based on a lack of observation. Anyone who has the sense to see such things will realize that a person's character and temperament also change under the influence of his ego. However, this change is a slow one in relation to the change in the characteristics described above. One can use the comparison that the relationship between the two changes is like the advance of the hour hand of the clock in relation to the minute hand. Now the forces which bring about this change of character or temperament belong to the hidden region of the etheric body. They are of the same nature as the forces which prevail in the realm of life, i.e. the forces of growth, nourishment and those which serve procreation. The further explanations in this book will shed the right light on these things. - Thus it is not when man merely indulges in pleasure and suffering, joy and pain, that the ego works on the astral body, but when the characteristics of these soul qualities change. And in the same way the work extends to the etheric body when the ego turns its activity to a change in its character traits, its temperaments, and so on. Every human being also works on this latter change: he may be conscious of it or not. The strongest impulses that work towards this change in ordinary life are the religious ones. If the ego allows the impulses which flow from religion to work upon it again and again, they form a power in it which works into the etheric body and transforms it just as lesser impulses of life bring about the transformation of the astral body. These lesser impulses of life, which come to man through learning, reflection, refinement of the feelings, etc., are subject to the manifold changing existence; but the religious sensations impose something unified on all thinking, feeling and willing. They spread, as it were, a common, uniform light over the whole life of the soul. Man thinks and feels this today, that tomorrow. The most diverse causes lead to this. But whoever, through his religious feeling of whatever kind, senses something that runs through all changes, will relate what he thinks and feels today to this basic feeling just as much as the experiences of his soul tomorrow. The religious confession thus has something pervasive in the life of the soul; its influences become stronger and stronger in the course of time because they work in continuous repetition. This is why they acquire the power to affect the etheric body. - The influences of true art have a similar effect on man. When, through the outer form, color and tone of a work of art, he permeates its spiritual substratum with imagination and feeling, then the impulses which the ego receives as a result do indeed affect the etheric body. If you think this thought through to the end, you can appreciate the immense importance of art for all human development. Here are just a few things that provide the ego with the impulses to work on the etheric body. There are many such influences in human life which are not as obvious to the observing eye as those mentioned. But it is already evident from these that there is another part of man's being hidden within him, which the ego is working out more and more. This member can be described as the second part of the spirit, namely the life spirit. (It is the same as what is called "buddhi" in accordance with Oriental wisdom). The expression "spirit of life" is the appropriate one because the same forces are at work in what it denotes as in the "body of life"; only in these forces, when they manifest themselves as the body of life, the human ego is not active. But when they manifest themselves as the spirit of life, they are permeated by the activity of the ego.

[ 22 ] The intellectual development of man, his purification and refinement of feelings and expressions of will are the measure of his transformation of the astral body into the spirit self; his religious experiences and some other experiences imprint themselves on the etheric body and turn it into the life spirit. In the ordinary course of life this happens more or less unconsciously, but the so-called initiation of man consists in the fact that he is pointed by supersensible knowledge to the means by which he can quite consciously take this work in the spirit-self and life-spirit into his own hands. These means will be discussed in later parts of this writing. For the time being, it is a matter of showing that in addition to the soul and the body, the spirit is also active in man. This will also be shown later, how this spirit belongs to the eternal nature of man, in contrast to the perishable body.

[ 23 ] But the work on the astral body and the etheric body does not exhaust the activity of the ego. It also extends to the physical body. A hint of the influence of the ego on the physical body can be seen when certain experiences cause, for example, blushing or blanching. Here the ego is indeed the initiator of a process in the physical body. If, through the activity of the ego, changes occur in the human being in relation to its influence in the physical body, then the ego is really united with the hidden forces of this physical body. With the same forces that bring about its physical processes. One can then say that the ego works on the physical body through such activity. This expression must not be misunderstood. The opinion must not arise that this work is something grossly material. What appears in the physical body as the gross material is only what is revealed in it. Behind this revelation lie the hidden forces of its being. And these are of a spiritual nature. We are not speaking here of work on the material, as which the physical body appears, but of the spiritual work on the invisible forces which bring it into being and again bring it to disintegration. In ordinary life, the human being can only become aware of this work of the ego on the physical body with very little clarity. This clarity only comes in full measure when, under the influence of supersensible knowledge, the human being consciously takes the work into his own hands. Then, however, it becomes apparent that there is a third spiritual link in the human being. It is that which can be called the spiritual man in contrast to the physical man. (In Oriental wisdom, this "spiritual man" is called the "Atma".)

[ 24 ] We are also easily misled with regard to the spiritual man by the fact that we see the physical body as the lowest member of the human being and therefore find it difficult to accept the idea that the work on this physical body should lead to the highest member of the human being. But precisely because the physical body conceals the spirit active in it under three veils, the highest kind of human work is necessary to unite the ego with that which is its hidden spirit.

[ 25 ] In this way, man presents himself to the secret science as an entity composed of various members. The physical body, the etheric body and the astral body are bodily. Souls are: Sensory soul, intellectual soul and consciousness soul. The I spreads its light in the soul. And spiritual are: Spirit self, life spirit and spirit man. It is clear from the above that the sentient soul and the astral body are closely united and form a whole in a certain respect. In a similar way, the consciousness soul and the spirit self are a whole. For in the consciousness soul the spirit shines forth and from it it radiates through the other members of the human nature. With this in mind, we can also speak of the following division of the human being. One can summarize astral body and sensory soul as one member, likewise consciousness soul and spirit self and can call the mind soul, because it has part in the I-nature, because it is in a certain respect already the "I", which is only not yet conscious of its spiritual being, as "I" in a bad way and then gets seven parts of the human being: 1. Physical body 2. etheric body or life body; 3. astral body; 4. ego; 5. spirit self; 6. life spirit; 7. spirit man.

[ 26 ] Even for people accustomed to materialistic ideas, this division of the human being in the sense of the number seven would not have the "unclear magic" that they often attribute to it, if they were to adhere exactly to the meaning of the above arguments and not put this "magic" into the matter itself from the outset. In no other way, only from the point of view of a higher form of observation of the world, should these "seven" members of man be spoken of, just as one speaks of the seven colors of light or of the seven tones of the musical scale (by regarding the octave as a repetition of the fundamental tone). Just as the light appears in seven colors, the tone in seven steps, so the uniform human nature appears in the seven members indicated. As little as the number seven carries with it something of "superstition" in the case of sound and color, so little is this the case with reference to it in the division of man. (It has been said on one occasion, when this was once put forward verbally, that the matter with the number seven does not apply to colors, since beyond the "red" and the "violet" there are also colors that the eye simply does not perceive. But even in view of this, the comparison with the colors is correct, because the essence of man continues beyond the physical body on the one hand and beyond the spiritual man on the other; only for the means of spiritual observation these continuations are "spiritually invisible", just as the colors beyond red and violet are invisible to the physical eye. This remark had to be made because the opinion so easily arises that the supersensible view does not take scientific thinking seriously, that it is dilettantish in relation to it. But anyone who observes correctly what is meant by what is said can find that this is in truth nowhere in contradiction with genuine natural science; neither when scientific facts are used for illustration, nor even when the statements made here point to a direct relationship to natural science.