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Occult Science - An Outline
GA 13

VII. Details From the Domain of Spiritual Science

The Etheric Body

[ 1 ] When higher members of man's nature are observed by supersensible perception, the perception is never exactly similar to one that is given by the outer senses. When by the touch of an object we have a sensation of heat or warmth, a distinction must surely be made between what comes from the object—streaming from it, so to speak—and what our soul experiences. The inner experience of the sensation of heat is not the same thing as the heat emitted by the object. Now think of this actual experience in the soul, without the object; think of the soul's experience of the sensation of warmth, without any outer physical object being there to cause it. If such an experience arose without any cause, it would be mere fancy. The student of spiritual science has such inner perceptions for which there is no physical cause, above all no cause attributable to his own body. But at a certain stage of development, from the way in which these perceptions appear, he can know by the very nature of the experience (as was explained in an earlier chapter) that the inner perception is no mere fancy but is due to a being of soul and spirit belonging to a supersensible outer world, just as the ordinary sensation of heat, for example, is due to some physical object.

It is the same with a perception of color. A distinction must be made between the color of the object and the soul's inner experience of the color. Now think of what the soul experiences when perceiving a red object in the physical world. Let us picture to ourselves that we retain a vivid memory of the impression but look away from the object. The memory-picture of the color is an inner experience; we can distinguish between the inner experience evoked by the color and the external color as such. These inner experiences are substantially different from the immediate outer sense-impressions. They bear much more the stamp of feelings of pain or joy than do our normal and immediate sensations. We have to picture an inner experience of this kind arising in the soul without being caused either by an outer, physical object, or by the memory of such an object. Such an experience may come to someone who is on the way to attaining supersensible knowledge. Moreover he will be able to know in a given case that it is no mere figment of the mind, but that a real being of soul and spirit finds expression in it. And if evoking the same impression as a red object of the physical world, the being may be said to be “red.” With a physical object, however, the outer impression will always come first and be followed by the inner experience. In true supersensible vision, for a human being of the present epoch, the process must be the reverse; first the inner experience—shadowy, like a mere memory of color—and then a living picture, growing ever more vivid. Unless it is realized that such must be the sequence, it will be hard to distinguish between genuine spiritual perception and the delusions of fancy (hallucinations, and the like.)

Whether in a spiritual perception of this kind, the picture becomes truly vivid and alive—whether it remains shadowy, like a dim inkling, or its effect grows as intensely real as that of an outer object—depends upon the stage of development which the aspirant has reached.

The general impression which the seer has of the ether-body of man may now be described as follows. If the aspirant for supersensible knowledge has developed such strength of will that even when a physical man is standing in front of him he can turn his attention right away from what is seen by the physical eyes, he will be able to look with supersensible consciousness into the space occupied by the physical man. Naturally, will-power must e greatly enhanced before it is possible to divert attention not only from what is in one's own mind but from something with which one is actually confronted, so that the physical impression is entirely obliterated. But such enhancement of the will is possible and is achieved by means of the exercises for the attainment of supersensible cognition. It is then possible for the student to have, to begin with, a general impression of the ether-body. There arises in his soul the same inner experience which he has at the sight, let us say, of the color of a peach-blossom; this experience then becomes vividly alive, and he can say: the ether-body has a “peach-blossom” color. Then he perceives the several organs and currents of the ether-body. But the ether-body can also be described in terms of other experiences of the soul—experiences which correspond to sensations of warmth, impressions of sound, and so on, for it is not only a color-phenomenon. Moreover the astral body and other members of man's being can be described in like manner. Bearing in mind what has here been said, it will be realized how the descriptions of spiritual science are to be understood. (Compare Chapter II.)

The Astral World

[ 2 ] As long as the physical world alone is being observed, the Earth—man's dwelling place—appears as a separate heavenly body. When supersensible cognition rises to other spheres, there is no longer this separation. Hence it was possible to say that together with the Earth, Imaginative consciousness perceives the Old Moon condition, such as it has become up to the present time. The world thus entered is one to which not only the supersensible nature of the Earth belongs; other heavenly bodies, physically separated from the Earth, are part of it as well. In that realm the knower of supersensible worlds observes the supersensible nature not only of the Earth but of other heavenly bodies too. (It is, once more, the supersensible nature of other heavenly bodies which he observes to begin with. This should be borne in mind by those who feel impelled to ask why the seer does not tell us what it looks like on Mars, and so on. In putting questions of this kind they think of physical and sense-perceptible conditions.) Hence in the course of this book it was also possible to speak of relationships obtaining between the evolution taking place on Earth and simultaneous evolutions on Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and so on. When man's astral body is drawn away in sleep it belongs not only to the Earth and earthly conditions, but to worlds in which other cosmic realms—stellar worlds—participate. Moreover, these worlds permeate into man's astral body even in the waking state. Therefore the term “astral body” appears justified.

Man's Life After Death

[ 3 ] Reference has been made in the course of this book to the period of time during which the astral body remains united with the ether-body after a man's death. A gradually fading memory of the whole of the life just ended is present throughout this time (see Chapter III.) It varies in duration with different individuals, depending upon the tenacity with which the astral body holds the ether-body to itself—in other words, the power which the astral body has over the etheric. Supersensible cognition can get an impression of this power by observing a human being who, by the state of his soul and body, ought really to be sleeping but keeps himself awake by sheer inner strength. It becomes evident that different people can, if need be, remain awake without being overcome by sleep for different periods of time. The memory of the life just ended—which means that the connection with the etheric body is still maintained—lasts for about as long after death as the extreme length of time for which, if compelled to do so, the individual would have been able to stay awake.

When the ether-body is detached from the human being after death (see Chapter III,) something that may be described as a kind of extract or quintessence of it remains for the whole of his future evolution. This extract contains the fruits of the past life. It is the bearer of the “seed” of his coming life—the seed which is developing throughout man's spiritual evolution between death and a new birth.

[ 4 ] The length of time between death and a new birth is determined by the fact that as a rule the I of man returns into the physical world only when this world has been so transformed as to give opportunity for new experiences. While the Ego is in the spiritual worlds, man's earthly dwelling-place is changing. In one respect this change is connected with the changes that are taking place in the great Universe—changes for example, in the relative position of the Earth to the Sun. Periodic changes involving cosmic repetitions are connected with the development of new conditions on the Earth. They find expression, for example, in the fact that the region of the heavens where the Sun rises at the vernal equinox makes an entire circuit in about 26,000 years. Throughout this period of the vernal point has therefore been moving from one region of the heavens to another, and in a twelfth of this period of time—that is to say, in about 2,100 years—conditions on the Earth will have altered sufficiently for the soul to be able to have essentially new experiences upon Earth. Moreover as these experiences differ according to whether one is incarnating as a woman or as a man, two incarnations will as a rule take place during this time—one as a man, one as a woman. However, these things also depend upon the forces gathered during earthly life—forces the individual takes with him through the gate of death. Therefore all such indications as have been given here are only valid in the most general sense; there will be many and manifold individual variations.

Thus it is only in one respect that the length of the human Ego's sojourn in the spiritual world between death and new birth depends upon the above-mentioned cosmic data. In another respect it will depend upon the stages of the evolution through which the human being passes in the spiritual world. After a time this very evolution brings the I of man into a spiritual condition where he no longer finds sufficiency in the inner experiences of the Spirit. He beings to long for that altered consciousness which is reflected in physical experience and derives satisfaction from this reflection. The re-entry of the human being into earthly life is an outcome of these two factors: the inner thirst of the soul for incarnation, and the cosmically given possibility of finding a suitable bodily nature. Two factors therefore have to work in conjunction. Hence in one instance incarnation may result even before the “thirst” has reached its full intensity, a well-adapted incarnation being within reach; while in another it may have to wait till the thirst has outlived its normal culmination, since at the proper time no opportunity to incarnate was given. In so far as it is due to the whole character and quality of his bodily constitution, a man's prevailing mood and attunement to life will also be the outcome of these conditions.

The Stages of Man's Life

[ 5 ] Fully to understand the life of man and its successive stages between birth and death, it is not enough to consider only the physical body as seen by the outer senses. It is essential also to take into account the changes undergone by the supersensible members of man's nature. They are as follows. At physical birth man is released from the physical integument of the maternal womb. Forces hitherto shared by the human embryo with the mother's body must from now on be functioning independently in the body of the little child. Now the fact is that for supersensible perception other events of this kind are undergone in the further course of life—supersensible events, analogous to that of physical birth as seen by the outer senses. For his etheric body man is enveloped by an ethereal sheath—an etheric integument—until about the change of teeth, the sixth or seventh year, when the etheric integument falls away. This event represents the “birth” of the etheric body. After it man is still enveloped by an astral sheath, which falls away at the age of puberty—between the 12th and 16th year. The astral body in its turn is “born.” Then at an even later point of time the I is born. (The very helpful educational points of view arising from these supersensible realities are set forth in my booklet The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual Science, where the facts briefly indicated here are described in greater detail.)

With the birth of the I, man's adult life begins. With the three members of the soul (Sentient Soul, Intellectual or Mind-Soul and Spiritual Soul) progressively awakened and activated by the I, he finds his proper place in life amid the prevailing world-conditions, to which he makes his own active contribution. At length however there comes a time when the etheric body begins to decline, reversing the development it enjoyed from the seventh year onward. There is a change in the functioning of the astral body. To start with it unfolded the potentialities brought with it from the spiritual world at birth. After the birth of the Ego it was enriched by all the experiences coming to it from the outer world. But now the moment comes when in a spiritual sense the astral body begins to feed on its own etheric body. It draws on the etheric body and consumes it. And in the further course of life the etheric body in its turn begins to draw upon the physical body and consume it. There facts are closely related to the physical body's degeneration in old age.

The life of man is thereby naturally divided into three epochs. First is the time during which the physical and etheric bodies grow and develop. In the middle period the astral body and the I come into their own. The third and last is the period of bodily decline when the youthful development of the etheric and physical bodies is in a sense reversed. Now in all these events—from birth until death—the astral body is concerned. Moreover inasmuch as it is not spiritually born until the 12th to 16th year, and in the final epoch is obliged to draw upon the forces of the etheric and physical bodies, what the astral body has to achieve by virtue of its own faculties and forces unfolds at a slower rate than it would do if it were not inhabiting a physical and etheric body. Hence after death (as explained in Chapter III,) when the physical and etheric bodies have been cast off, the evolution of the astral body through the “time of purification” takes about a third as long as the past life between birth and death.

Higher Regions of the Spiritual World

[ 6 ] Through Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition supersensible cognition gradually reaches up into the regions of the spiritual world where it can apprehend the Beings who participate in the evolution of the World and Man. There too it can perceive and, in perceiving, find intelligible the life of man between death and a new birth. Now there are even higher regions of existence, though we can do no more than briefly allude to them here.

>Having once risen to the stage of Intuition, supersensible cognition lives and moves amid a world of spiritual Beings. But the spiritual Beings too are evolving. The concerns of present-day mankind reach up, as it were, into the spiritual realm accessible to Intuition. True, in the course of his development between death and a new birth man receives influences from yet higher worlds, but he does not experience them directly; the Beings of the spiritual world convey them to him. In the Intuitive contemplation of these Beings we perceive all that they are doing in and on behalf of man. Their own concerns however—what they require for themselves to enable them to guide human evolution—can only be apprehended by forms of cognition higher than Intuition.

In saying this we refer to worlds among those lower functions are the highest that are known to us on Earth. Reasoned resolves for example are among the highest things on Earth; the actions and reactions of the mineral kingdom among the lowest. For the sublime worlds to which we are now referring, reasoned resolves have approximately the same value as have the mineral reactions on Earth. Beyond the realm of Intuition is the region where the great cosmic plan is being woven out of purely spiritual causes.

The Members of Man's Being

[ 7 ] Toward the end of Chapter II it was described how the I or Ego works upon the members of man's being to transform them—the astral body into Spirit-Self, the etheric body into Life-Spirit, the physical body into Spirit-Man. This was in reference to the working of the Go on man's nature by virtue of the highest faculties—faculties, the development of which has only been beginning during the successive stages of Earthly evolution. Now there is also a preliminary transformation on a lower level, whereby the Sentient Soul, the Intellectual or Mind-Soul and the Spiritual Soul are developed. AS in the course of man's evolution the Sentient Soul comes into being, far-reaching changes are going on in the astral body. So too the development of the Intellectual Soul and of the Spiritual Soul involves a transmutation of the ether-body and of the physical body respectively. Much of this was incidentally described in the chapter on the evolution of the Earth.

Thus in a sense it is true to day that the Sentient Soul is due to a transmuted astral body, the Intellectual Soul to a transmuted ether-body, and the Spiritual Soul to a transmuted physical body. But it may equally well be said that all three members of the soul are part and parcel of the astral body. The Spiritual Soul, for example, can only come into being as an astral entity in an appropriate physical body. It lives an astral life in a physical body molded and worked upon to be its proper habitation.

The State of Consciousness In Dreaming

[ 8 ] In some respects the dream has been described in the third chapter of this book. Dream-consciousness is on the one hand a relic of the picture-consciousness which man enjoyed on the Old Moon, and -for a long time too—in former periods of Earth evolution. Earlier conditions generally go on working even while evolution is advancing to fresh stages. Dreaming is thus a relic of the normal state of consciousness of former times. And yet the dream-condition of today differs essentially from the old picture-consciousness, for the Ego, which has since developed, influences what goes on in the astral body during sleep while we are dreaming. It is therefore a picture-consciousness transmuted by the presence of the Ego. Yet inasmuch as the Ego's influence on the dreaming astral body is unconscious, nothing deriving from the dream-life can be a direct source of spiritual-scientific knowledge of higher worlds. The same applied to what is often spoken of as visions, premonitions and second sight. In all of these the Ego is more or less eliminated, in consequence of which, relics of earlier states of consciousness can supervene. They have no direct spiritual-scientific application; what man perceives in such conditions cannot be included among the valid researches of true spiritual science.

The Way to Supersensible Cognition

[ 9 ] The way to the attainment of knowledge of higher worlds, of which a fairly detailed account has been given in this book, may be described as the “direct path” of knowledge. There is also another way, known as “the path of feeling.” Not that the former way leaves feeling undeveloped; quite on the contrary, it leads to an immeasurable deepening of the life of feeling. But the other path—the “path of feeling”—appeals to the feeling-life directly, seeking to rise from thence to detailed spiritual knowledge. The fact is that a feeling to which a man unreservedly devotes his inner life for a sufficient length of time becomes transformed of its own accord into cognition—into Imaginative vision. If, for example, the soul is deliberately steeped for weeks and months or even longer in feelings of humility, the feeling-content is transformed into spiritual perception. A gradual ascent through this and other feelings of this kind can thus become a pathway into the supersensible. But it is very difficult to carry out in ordinary present-day surroundings. Seclusion—withdrawal from the prevailing conditions especially of modern life—is well-nigh indispensable for this spiritual pathway. For above all in the initial stages, the impressions one is constantly receiving from everyday life in our time disturb and interfere with what the soul would otherwise achieve by dwelling on deliberately chosen feelings. The path of knowledge here described is different; it can be carried through no matter what one's situation is amid the typical conditions of our time.

The Observation of Particular Events and Beings

[ 10 ] It may be asked whether by meditation, contemplation and kindred methods of attaining supersensible cognition described in this book, we arrive at the general realities—say, of the life between death and rebirth, and other spiritual facts—or whether we are also enabled to perceive particular events and beings, for example an individual human soul after death. The answer is that one who has thus acquired the ability to see into the spiritual world also becomes able to perceive in detail what is going on there. He does indeed become capable of communication with individuals living in the spiritual world between death and new birth. But in accordance with true spiritual science it can only be done after a regular and proper training has been undergone, for this alone makes it possible to distinguish truth from illusion as to the several beings and events. Those who would claim to recognize the spiritual details, without have undergone a proper training are liable to countless illusions. Even the most elementary requirement, namely the true interpretation of the impressions one receives, presupposes spiritual training—training the more advanced where the impressions relate to detailed facts and individual beings.

Thus the same training which enables one to see the facts of higher worlds described in this work on Occult Science, also enables one to perceive an individual human soul during his life after death, or severally to observe and understand the diverse spiritual beings who influence the manifest from hidden worlds. Yet the reliable observation of the particular is only possible against the background of a more universal knowledge—namely a spiritual knowledge of the great facts of the Universe and Man, facts which relate to all mankind in common. Craving the former without the latter, one will go astray. In observation of the spiritual world it is an unavoidable experience. Into the very regions for which a man is most apt to long, entry is only granted when he has gone along the stern and exacting path of knowledge, where interest is focused upon universal questions and he gains insight into the deeper meaning of all life.

When he has walked along these paths in the sincere and unselfish quest of knowledge, then and then only is a man fit to observe the details, the premature exploration of which would but have satisfied in him a hidden egoism. For in the longing to see into the spiritual world it is only too easy to persuade oneself that one is actuated by pure love—such as the love of an individual friend who has died. Unalloyed insight into the single facts and beings is only possible for those whose sincere interest in the universal truths of spiritual science enables them to receive the detailed revelations too in a scientific spirit and without selfish longing.

Einzelheiten aus dem Gebiet der Geheimwissenschaft

Der Ätherleib des Menschen

[ 1 ] Wenn höhere Glieder des Menschen durch die übersinnliche Wahrnehmung beobachtet werden, dann ist diese Wahrnehmung niemals vollkommen gleich einer solchen, welche durch die äußeren Sinne gemacht wird. Wenn der Mensch einen Gegenstand berührt, und er hat eine Wärmewahrnehmung, so muss man unterscheiden zwischen dem, was vom Gegenstande kommt, von diesem gleichsam ausströmt, und dem, was man in der Seele erlebt. Das innere Seelenerlebnis der WärmeEmpfindung ist etwas anderes als die vom Gegenstande ausströmende Wärme. Man denke sich nun dieses Seelenerlebnis ganz allein, ohne den äußeren Gegenstand. Man denke sich das Erlebnis — aber eben ein seelisches — einer WärmeEmpfindung in der Seele, ohne dass ein äußerer physischer Gegenstand die Veranlassung dazu ist. Wäre ein solches nun einfach da ohne eine Veranlassung, so wäre es eine Einbildung. Der Geistesschüler erlebt solche innere Wahrnehmungen ohne physische Veranlassung, vor allem ohne Veranlassung seines eigenen Leibes. Sie stellen sich für eine gewisse Stufe der Entwicklung aber so dar, dass er wissen kann (wie gezeigt worden ist, durch das Erlebnis selbst wissen kann), dass die innere Wahrnehmung nicht Einbildung ist, sondern dass sie ebenso bewirkt ist durch eine geistig-seelische Wesenheit einer übersinnlichen Außenwelt, wie die gewöhnliche Wärme-Empfindung zum Beispiel durch einen äußerlich physisch-sinnlichen Gegenstand. So ist es auch, wenn man von einer Farbenwahrnehmung spricht. Da muss unterschieden werden zwischen der Farbe, die am äußeren Gegenstand ist, und dem innerlichen Empfinden der Farbe in der Seele. Man vergegenwärtige sich die innere Empfindung, welche die Seele hat, wenn sie einen roten Gegenstand der physisch-sinnlichen Außenwelt wahrnimmt. Man stelle sich vor, man behalte eine recht lebhafte Erinnerung an den Eindruck; aber man wende das Auge ab von dem Gegenstande. Was man da noch als Erinnerungsvorstellung von der Farbe hat, vergegenwärtige man sich als inneres Erlebnis. Man wird dann unterscheiden zwischen dem, was inneres Erlebnis ist an der Farbe, und der äußeren Farbe. Diese inneren Erlebnisse unterscheiden sich inhaltlich durchaus von den äußeren Sinneseindrücken. Sie tragen viel mehr das Gepräge desjenigen, was als Schmerz und Freude empfunden wird, als die normale Sinnesempfindung. Nun denke man sich ein solches inneres Erlebnis in der Seele aufsteigen, ohne dass die Veranlassung dazu durch einen äußeren physisch-sinnlichen Gegenstand oder die Erinnerung an einen solchen gegeben sei. Der übersinnlich Erkennende kann ein solches Erlebnis haben. Und er kann auch in dem entsprechenden Falle wissen, dass es keine Einbildung, sondern der Ausdruck einer seelisch-geistigen Wesenheit ist. Wenn nun diese seelisch-geistige Wesenheit denselben Eindruck hervorruft wie ein roter Gegenstand der sinnlich-physischen Welt, dann mag sie rot genannt werden. Beim sinnlich-physischen Gegenstand wird aber stets zuerst da sein der äußere Eindruck und dann das innere Farbenerlebnis; beim wahren übersinnlichen Schauen des Menschen unseres Zeitalters muss es umgekehrt sein: zuerst das innere Erlebnis, das schattenhaft ist wie eine bloße Farbenerinnerung, und dann ein immer lebhafter werdendes Bild. Je weniger man darauf achtet, dass der Vorgang so sein muss, desto weniger kann man unterscheiden zwischen wirklicher geistiger Wahrnehmung und eingebildeter Täuschung (Illusion, Halluzination usw.). Wie lebhaft nun das Bild wird bei einer solchen seelisch-geistigen Wahrnehmung, ob es ganz schattenhaft bleibt, wie eine dunkle Vorstellung, ob es intensiv wirkt, wie ein äußerer Gegenstand, das hängt ganz davon ab, wie sich der übersinnlich Erkennende entwickelt hat. — Man kann nun den allgemeinen Eindruck, welchen der Schauende von dem menschlichen Ätherleib hat, so beschreiben, dass man sagt: wenn ein übersinnlich Erkennender es bis zu einer solchen Willensstärke gebracht hat, dass er, trotzdem ein physischer Mensch vor ihm steht, die Aufmerksamkeit von dem ablenken kann, was das physische Auge sieht, so vermag er durch übersinnliches Bewusstsein in den Raum, welchen der physische Mensch einnimmt, zu schauen. Es gehört selbstverständlich eine starke Steigerung des Willens dazu, um nicht nur seine Aufmerksamkeit von etwas abzuwenden, woran man denkt, sondern von etwas, das vor einem steht, so dass der physische Eindruck ganz ausgelöscht wird. Aber diese Steigerung ist möglich und sie tritt durch die Übungen zur übersinnlichen Erkenntnis auf. Der so Erkennende kann dann zunächst den allgemeinen Eindruck des Ätherleibes haben. In seiner Seele taucht auf dieselbe innere Empfindung, welche er hat beim Anblick etwa der Farbe einer Pfirsichblüte; und diese wird dann lebhaft, so dass er sagen kann: der Ätherleib hat die Farbe der Pfirsichblüte. Dann nimmt er auch die einzelnen Organe und Strömungen des Ätherleibes wahr. Man kann aber den Ätherleib auch weiter beschreiben, indem man die Erlebnisse der Seele angibt, welche Wärmeempfindungen, Toneindrücken und so weiter entsprechen. Denn er ist nicht etwa bloß eine Farbenerscheinung. In demselben Sinne können auch der Astralleib und die andern Glieder der menschlichen Wesenheit beschrieben werden. Wer das in Betracht zieht, wird einsehen, wie Beschreibungen zu nehmen sind, welche im Sinne der Geisteswissenschaft gemacht sind. (Vergleiche Kapitel II dieses Buches.)

Die astralische Welt

[ 2 ] Solange man nur die physische Welt beobachtet, stellt sich die Erde als Wohnplatz des Menschen wie ein gesonderter Weltkörper dar. Wenn aber die übersinnliche Erkenntnis zu andern Welten aufsteigt, dann hört diese Sonderung auf. Daher konnte gesagt werden, dass die Imagination mit der Erde zugleich den bis in die Gegenwart herein entwickelten Mondenzustand wahrnimmt. Diejenige Welt, welche man in dieser Art betritt, ist nun eine solche, dass zu ihr nicht nur das Übersinnliche der Erde gehört, sondern dass auch noch andere Weltenkörper in sie eingebettet sind, welche physisch von der Erde abgesondert sind. Der Erkenner übersinnlicher Welten beobachtet dann nicht bloß das Übersinnliche der Erde, sondern zunächst auch das Übersinnliche anderer Weltkörper. (Dass es sich zunächst um eine Beobachtung des Übersinnlichen anderer Weltkörper handelt, möge derjenige beachten, welcher zu der Frage gedrängt wird: warum denn die übersinnlich Schauenden nicht angeben, wie es auf dem Mars usw. aussieht. Der Fragende hat dann die physisch-sinnlichen Verhältnisse im Auge.) Daher konnte in der Darstellung dieses Buches auch gesprochen werden über gewisse Beziehungen der Erdenentwicklung zu gleichzeitigen Saturn-, Jupiter-, Marsentwicklungen usw. — Wenn des Menschen astralischer Leib nun vom Schlafe hingenommen wird, so gehört er nicht nur den Erdenzuständen an, sondern Welten, an denen noch andere Weltgebiete (Sternenwelten) beteiligt sind. Ja, diese Welten wirken auch im Wachzustande in den astralischen Leib des Menschen herein. Daher kann der Name «astralischer Leib» gerechtfertigt erscheinen.

Vom Leben des Menschen nach dem Tode

[ 3 ] Es ist in den Ausführungen dieses Buches gesprochen worden von der Zeit, durch welche hindurch, nach dem Todeseintritt des Menschen, der Astralleib noch mit dem Ätherleibe vereinigt bleibt. Während dieser Zeit ist eine allmählich verblassende Erinnerung an das ganze eben verflossene Leben vorhanden (vergleiche Kapitel III). Diese Zeit ist für verschiedene Menschen verschieden. Sie hängt davon ab, wie stark die Kraft ist, mit welcher bei einem Menschen der Astralleib den Ätherleib an sich hält, welche Gewalt der erste über den zweiten hat. Die übersinnliche Erkenntnis kann einen Eindruck von dieser Gewalt erhalten, wenn sie einen Menschen beobachtet, der eigentlich nach dem Grade seiner seelisch-leiblichen Verfassung schlafen müsste, der sich aber durch innere Kraft wach erhält. Und nun zeigt sich, dass verschiedene Menschen sich verschieden lang wach erhalten können, ohne zwischendurch von dem Schlafe überwältigt zu werden. Ungefähr so lange als ein Mensch sich im äußersten Falle, wenn es sein muss, wach erhalten kann, so lange dauert nach dem Tode die Erinnerung an das eben verflossene Leben, das heißt der Zusammenhalt mit dem Ätherleib. Wenn der Ätherleib nach dem Tode von dem Menschen losgelöst ist (vergleiche Kapitel III), so bleibt von ihm doch für alle spätere Entwicklung des Menschen noch etwas zurück, was man wie einen Extrakt oder eine Essenz desselben bezeichnen kann. Dieser Extrakt enthält die Früchte des verflossenen Lebens. Und er ist der Träger alles dessen, was während der geistigen Entwicklung des Menschen zwischen dem Tode und einer neuen Geburt sich wie ein Keim zum folgenden Leben entfaltet. (Vergleiche Kapitel III.)

[ 4 ] Die Zeit zwischen dem Tode und einer neuen Geburt (vergleiche Kapitel III) ist in ihrer Dauer dadurch bestimmt, dass das «Ich» in der Regel erst dann wieder in die physisch-sinnliche Welt zurückkehrt, wenn diese sich inzwischen so umgestaltet hat, dass Neues von dem «Ich» erlebt werden kann. Während dieses in den geistigen Gebieten ist, ändert sich der Erdenwohnplatz. Diese Änderung hängt nach einer Richtung hin mit den großen Veränderungen im Weltall zusammen; mit Veränderungen in der Stellung der Erde zur Sonne usw. Das aber sind durchaus Veränderungen, in denen gewisse Wiederholungen in Verbindung mit neuen Verhältnissen eintreten. Sie finden ihren äußeren Ausdruck darin, dass zum Beispiel der Punkt am Himmelsgewölbe, in welchem die Sonne bei Frühlingsanbeginn aufgeht, sich im Laufe von etwa 26.000 Jahren in einem vollständigen Kreise dreht. Dieser Frühlingspunkt bewegt sich dadurch im Laufe dieser Zeit von einem Himmelsgebiete zum andern. Im Verlaufe des zwölften Teiles jener Zeit, das ist in 2100 Jahren ungefähr, haben sich die Verhältnisse auf der Erde so weit verändert, dass die Menschenseele auf derselben Neues nach einer vorangegangenen Verkörperung erleben kann. Da aber die Erlebnisse des Menschen verschieden sind, je nachdem er sich als Frau oder als Mann verkörpert, so finden innerhalb des charakterisierten Zeitraumes in der Regel zwei Verkörperungen, eine als Mann, eine als Frau, statt. Doch hängen diese Dinge auch davon ab, wie die Kräfte sind, welche sich der Mensch aus dem Erdendasein durch den Tod hindurch mitnimmt. Daher sind alle solche Angaben, wie die hier gegebenen, nur so aufzufassen, dass sie im wesentlichen gelten, im einzelnen aber sich in der mannigfaltigsten Weise abgeändert zeigen. Von den angeführten Verhältnissen im Weltenall hängt es eben nur in einer Beziehung ab, wie lange das Menschen-Ich in der geistigen Welt zwischen dem Tode und einer neuen Geburt verweilt. In einer andern Beziehung hängt dies ab von den Entwicklungszuständen, welche der Mensch in dieser Zeit durchmacht. Diese Zustände führen das «Ich» nach einem gewissen Zeitablauf zu einer geistigen Verfassung, die in ihrem inneren Geisterleben nicht mehr Befriedigung findet, welche das Verlangen nach jener Bewusstseinsänderung entwickelt, die in dem Sichspiegeln durch das physische Erleben sich befriedigt. Aus dem Zusammenwirken dieses inneren Durstes nach Verkörperung und der im Weltenall gegebenen Möglichkeit, die entsprechende Leiblichkeit zu finden, erfolgt der Eintritt des Menschen in das Erdenleben. Er erfolgt — weil zweierlei zusammenwirken muss — das eine Mal, auch wenn der «Durst» noch nicht seine Höhe erreicht hat, weil eine annähernd angepasste Verkörperung erreicht werden kann; das andere Mal, auch wenn der «Durst» über seine normale Höhe hinausgeschritten ist, weil zur entsprechenden Zeit noch keine Möglichkeit der Verkörperung da war. Die allgemeine Lebensstimmung, in der sich ein Mensch durch die Beschaffenheit seines körperlichen Wesens befindet, hängt mit diesen Verhältnissen zusammen.

Der Lebenslauf des Menschen

[ 5 ] Das Leben des Menschen, wie es sich äußert in der Aufeinanderfolge der Zustände zwischen Geburt und Tod, kann nur dadurch vollständig begriffen werden, dass man nicht nur den sinnlich-physischen Leib in Betracht zieht, sondern auch jene Veränderungen, welche sich mit den übersinnlichen Gliedern der Menschennatur vollziehen. — Man kann diese Veränderungen in der folgenden Art ansehen. Die physische Geburt stellt sich dar als eine Loslösung des Menschen von der physischen Mutterhülle. Kräfte, welche der Menschenkeim vor der Geburt mit dem Leibe der Mutter gemeinsam hatte, sind nach der Geburt nur noch als selbständige in ihm selbst vorhanden. Nun gehen aber im späteren Leben für die übersinnliche Wahrnehmung ähnliche übersinnliche Ereignisse vor sich, wie die sinnlichen sind bei der physischen Geburt. Der Mensch ist nämlich ungefähr bis zum Zahnwechsel (im sechsten oder siebenten Jahre) in bezug auf seinen Ätherleib von einer ätherischen Hülle umgeben. Diese fällt in diesem Zeitabschnitte des Lebens ab. Es findet da eine «Geburt» des Ätherleibes statt. Noch immer bleibt aber der Mensch von einer astralischen Hülle umgeben, welche in der Zeit vom zwölften bis sechzehnten Jahre (zur Zeit der Geschlechtsreife) abfällt. Da findet die «Geburt» des astralischen Leibes statt. Und noch später wird das eigentliche «Ich» geboren. (Die fruchtbaren Gesichtspunkte, welche sich aus diesen übersinnlichen Tatsachen für die Handhabung der Erziehung ergeben, sind in meiner kleinen Schrift: «Die Erziehung des Kindes vom Gesichtspunkte der Geisteswissenschaft» dargestellt. Dort findet man auch weitere Ausführungen über dasjenige, was hier nur angedeutet werden kann.) Der Mensch lebt nun nach der Geburt des «Ich» so, dass er sich den Weltund Lebensverhältnissen eingliedert und innerhalb ihrer sich betätigt, nach Maßgabe der durch das «Ich» tätigen Glieder: Empfindungsseele, Verstandesseele und Bewusstseinsseele. Dann tritt eine Zeit ein, in welcher der Ätherleib sich wieder zurückbildet, in welcher er die umgekehrte Bildung seiner Entfaltung vom siebenten Jahre an wieder durchmacht. Während vorher der Astralleib sich so entwickelt hat, dass er in sich zuerst das entfaltet hat, was in ihm als Anlage bei der Geburt vorhanden war, und sich dann, nach der Geburt des «Ich», durch die Erlebnisse der Außenwelt bereichert hat, beginnt er von einem bestimmten Zeitpunkte an damit, sich von dem eigenen Ätherleibe aus geistig zu nähren. Er zehrt am Ätherleibe. Und im weiteren Verlaufe des Lebens beginnt dann auch der Ätherleib an dem physischen Leibe zu zehren. Damit hängt des letzteren Verfall im Greisenalter zusammen. — Nun zerfällt dadurch des Menschen Lebenslauf in drei Teile, in eine Zeit, in welcher der physische Leib und Ätherleib sich entfalten, dann in diejenige, in welcher der Astralleib und das «Ich» zur Entwicklung kommen, und endlich diejenige, in welcher Ätherleib und physischer Leib sich wieder zurückverwandeln. Nun ist aber der astralische Leib bei allen Vorgängen zwischen Geburt und Tod beteiligt. Dadurch, dass er eigentlich aber erst mit dem zwölften bis sechzehnten Jahre geistig geboren ist und in der letzten Lebensepoche von den Kräften des Ätherleibes und physischen Leibes zehren muss, wird dasjenige, was er durch seine eigenen Kräfte kann, sich langsamer entwickeln, als wenn es nicht in einem physischen und Ätherleibe wäre. Nach dem Tode, wenn physischer und Ätherleib abgefallen sind, geht die Entwicklung in der Läuterungszeit (vergleiche Kapitel III> deshalb ungefähr so vor sich, dass sie ein Drittel derjenigen Dauer beträgt, die das Leben zwischen Geburt und Tod in Anspruch nimmt.

Die höheren Gebiete der geistigen Welt

[ 6 ] Durch Imagination, Inspiration und Intuition steigt die übersinnliche Erkenntnis allmählich in diejenigen Gebiete der geistigen Welt hinauf, in welchen ihr erreichbar sind die Wesen, welche an der Weltund Menschheitsentwicklung beteiligt sind. Und es wird ihr dadurch auch möglich, die Entwicklung des Menschen zwischen dem Tode und einer neuen Geburt so zu verfolgen, dass diese verständlich wird. Nun gibt es noch höhere Gebiete des Daseins, auf welche hier nur ganz kurz hingedeutet werden kann. Wenn sich die übersinnliche Erkenntnis bis zur Intuition erhoben hat, dann lebt sie in einer Welt geistiger Wesen. Auch diese machen Entwicklungen durch. Was Angelegenheit der gegenwärtigen Menschheit ist, das erstreckt sich gewissermaßen bis in die Welt der Intuition hinauf. Allerdings empfängt der Mensch auch Einflüsse aus noch höheren Welten im Laufe seiner Entwicklung zwischen dem Tode und einer neuen Geburt; aber diese Einflüsse erfährt er nicht direkt; die Wesen der geistigen Welt führen sie ihm zu. Und werden diese betrachtet, so ergibt sich alles, was an dem Menschen geschieht. Die eigenen Angelegenheiten aber dieser Wesen, dasjenige, was sie für sich brauchen, um die menschliche Entwicklung zu führen, können nur durch eine Erkenntnis beobachtet werden, welche über die Intuition hinausgeht. Es ergibt sich damit der Hinweis auf Welten, welche so vorzustellen sind, dass geistige Angelegenheiten, welche auf der Erde die höchsten sind, dort zu den niedrigeren gehören. Vernünftige Entschlüsse zum Beispiel gehören innerhalb des Erdengebietes zu dem höchsten; die Wirkungen des mineralischen Reiches zu dem niedrigsten. In jenen höheren Regionen sind vernünftige Entschlüsse ungefähr das, was auf Erden die mineralischen Wirkungen sind. Über dem Gebiete der Intuition liegt die Region, in welcher aus geistigen Ursachen heraus der Weltenplan gesponnen wird.

Die Wesensglieder des Menschen

[ 7 ] Wenn gesagt worden ist (vergleiche Seite 69 und die folgenden), das «Ich» arbeite an den menschlichen Wesensgliedern, dem physischen Leib, dem Ätherleib und dem astralischen Leib, und gestalte diese in umgekehrter Folge um zu Geistselbst, Lebensgeist und Geistesmensch, so bezieht sich dieses auf die Arbeit des Ich an der menschlichen Wesenheit durch die höchsten Fähigkeiten, mit deren Entwicklung erst im Laufe der Erdenzustände der Anfang gemacht worden ist. Dieser Umgestaltung geht aber eine andere auf einer niedrigeren Stufe voran, und durch diese entstehen Empfindungsseele, Verstandesseele und Bewusstseinsseele. Denn während sich im Laufe der Entwicklung des Menschen die Empfindungsseele bildet, gehen Veränderungen im Astralleibe vor sich, die Bildung der Verstandesseele drückt sich in Verwandlungen des Ätherleibes, und jene der Bewusstseinsseele in solchen des physischen Leibes aus. Im Verlaufe der Schilderung der Erdenentwicklung, welche in diesem Buche gegeben worden ist, wurde darüber das Nähere angegeben. So kann man also in einer gewissen Beziehung sagen: schon die Empfindungsseele beruhe auf einem verwandelten Astralleib; die Verstandesseele auf einem verwandelten Ätherleib; die Bewusstseinsseele auf einem verwandelten physischen Leib. Man kann aber auch sagen, diese drei Seelenglieder seien Teile des astralischen Leibes, denn nur dadurch ist zum Beispiel die Bewusstseinsseele möglich, dass sie eine astralische Wesenheit in einem ihr angepassten physischen Leib ist. Sie lebt ein australisches Leben in einem zu ihrem Wohnplatz bearbeiteten physischen Leib.

Der Traumzustand

[ 8 ] Der Traumzustand ist in einer gewissen Beziehung im Kapitel III dieser Schrift charakterisiert worden. Er ist aufzufassen auf der einen Seite als ein Überrest des alten Bilderbewusstseins, wie es dem Menschen während der Mondenentwicklung und auch noch während eines großen Teiles der Erdenentwicklung eigen war. Die Entwicklung schreitet eben so vorwärts, dass frühere Zustände in spätere hin einspielen. Und so kommt während des Träumens in dem Menschen jetzt als Überrest zum Vorschein, was früher normaler Zustand war. Zugleich aber ist dieser Zustand nach einer anderen Seite doch wieder anders als das alte Bilderbewusstsein. Denn seit der Ausbildung des Ich spielt dasselbe auch in die Vorgänge des astralischen Leibes hinein, welche im Schlafe während des Träumens sich vollziehen. So stellt sich im Traume ein durch die Anwesenheit des Ich verändertes Bilderbewusstsein dar. Weil aber das Ich nicht bewusst seine Tätigkeit auf den Astralleib während des Träumens ausübt, so darf auch nichts, was in das Gebiet des Traumlebens gehört, zu dem gerechnet werden, was in Wahrheit zu einer Erkenntnis der übersinnlichen Welten im Sinne der Geisteswissenschaft führen kann. Ein Gleiches gilt für das, was man oft als Vision, Ahnung oder «zweites Gesicht» (Deuteroskopie) bezeichnet. Diese kommen dadurch zustande, dass sich das «Ich» ausschaltet und dadurch Überreste alter Bewusstseinszustände entstehen. Sie haben in der Geisteswissenschaft keine unmittelbare Verwendung; was in ihnen beobachtet wird, kann nicht im echten Sinne als Ergebnis derselben betrachtet werden.

Zur Erlangung übersinnlicher Erkenntnisse

[ 9 ] Der Weg zur Erlangung von Erkenntnissen der übersinnlichen Welten, der in diesem Buche ausführlicher beschrieben worden ist, kann auch der «unmittelbare Erkenntnisweg» genannt werden. Neben ihm gibt es noch einen solchen, welchen man als «Gefühlsweg» bezeichnen kann. Doch wäre es ganz unrichtig, etwa zu glauben, dass der erstere mit 1er Ausbildung des Gefühles nichts zu tun habe. Er führt vielmehr zur größtmöglichen Vertiefung des Gefühlslebens. Doch wendet sich der «Gefühlsweg» eben unmittelbar an das bloße Gefühl und sucht von diesem aus zu den Erkenntnissen aufzusteigen. Er beruht darauf, dass ein Gefühl, wenn sich die Seele ganz ihm hingibt eine gewisse Zeit hindurch, sich in eine Erkenntnis, in eine bildhafte Anschauung verwandelt. Wenn zum Beispiel die Seele sich ganz ausfüllt durch Wochen, Monate, ja länger, mit dem Gefühle der Demut, so verwandelt sich der Gefühlsinhalt in eine Anschauung. Man kann nun auch durch ein stufenweises Durchmachen solcher Gefühle einen Weg in die übersinnlichen Gebiete finden. Doch ist er für den gegenwärtigen Menschen innerhalb der gewöhnlichen Lebensbedingungen nicht leicht durchzuführen. Einsamkeit, Zurückgezogenheit von dem Leben der Gegenwart ist dabei fast unerlässlich. Denn was das alltägliche Leben bringt an Eindrücken, stört namentlich im Anfange der Entwicklung dasjenige, was die Seele durch Versenkung in bestimmte Gefühle erreicht. Dagegen ist der in diesem Buche geschilderte Erkenntnisweg in jeder gegenwärtigen Lebenslage durchzuführen.

Beobachtung besonderer Ereignisse und Wesen der Geisteswelt

[ 10 ] Es kann die Frage gestellt werden, ob die innere Versenkung und die andern geschilderten Mittel zur Erlangung von übersinnlichen Erkenntnissen nur die Beobachtung des Menschen zwischen Tod und neuer Geburt oder andere geistige Vorgänge im allgemeinen gestatten, oder ob sie es auch ermöglichen, ganz bestimmte Einzelvorgänge und Wesen, zum Beispiel einen bestimmten Toten zu beobachten. Darauf muss geantwortet werden: Wer sich durch die geschilderten Mittel die Fähigkeit erwirbt zur Beobachtung der geistigen Welt, der kann auch dazu gelangen, Einzelheiten zu beobachten, welche in derselben vor sich gehen. Er macht sich fähig, sich mit Menschen, die in der geistigen Welt zwischen dem Tode und einer neuen Geburt leben, in Verbindung zu setzen. Nur muss beachtet werden, dass dieses im Sinne der Geisteswissenschaft nur geschehen soll, nachdem man die regelrechte Schulung für die übersinnlichen Erkenntnisse durchgemacht hat. Denn erst dann kann man in bezug auf besondere Ereignisse und Wesenheiten zwischen Täuschung und Wirklichkeit unterscheiden. Wer einzelnes beobachten will ohne richtige Schulung, der wird vielen Täuschungen zum Opfer fallen können. Selbst das Anfänglichste: das Verstehen der Art, wie solche Eindrücke besonderer Tatsachen der übersinnlichen Welt zu deuten sind, ist nicht möglich ohne fortgeschrittene Geistesschulung. Jene Schulung, welche in die höheren Welten zur Beobachtung dessen führt, was in diesem Buche geschildert ist, sie führt auch dazu, das Leben eines einzelnen Menschen nach dem Tode verfolgen zu können: und nicht minder dazu, alle geistig-seelischen besonderen Wesen zu beobachten und zu verstehen, welche aus verborgenen Welten in die offenbaren hereinwirken. Doch ist sicheres Beobachten gerade des Einzelnen nur auf Grund der Erkenntnisse der allgemeinen, großen, jeden Menschen angehenden Weltund Menschheitstatsachen der geistigen Welt möglich. Wer das eine begehrt, ohne das andere haben zu wollen, geht in die Irre. Es gehört nun einmal zu den Erfahrungen, die man in bezug auf das Beobachten der geistigen Welt machen muss, dass der Eintritt in diejenigen Gebiete des übersinnlichen Daseins, nach denen man zu allererst begehrt, einem erst dann beschert wird, wenn man sich auf ernsten und schwierigen, nur den allgemeinen Erkenntnisfragen zugeneigten Wegen um das bemüht hat, was Aufschluss über den Sinn des Lebens gibt. Ist man diese Wege in reinem, unegoistischem Erkenntnisdrange gegangen, dann ist man erst reif, Einzelheiten zu beobachten, deren Anschauung vorher doch nur die Befriedigung eines egoistischen Bedürfnisses wäre, auch wenn sich der Verlangende einredete, dass er nur aus Liebe — zum Beispiel zu einem Toten — den Einblick in die geistige Welt erstrebe. Der Einblick in das Besondere kann nur dem werden, der sich durch ernstes Interesse für geisteswissenschaftliche Allgemeinheiten die Möglichkeit gewonnen hat, auch das Besondere ganz ohne egoistische Begehrungen wie eine objektive wissenschaftliche Wahrheit hinzunehmen.

Details from the field of secret science

The etheric body of man

[ 1 ] When man's higher limbs are observed through supersensible perception, this perception is never completely equal to that which is made through the external senses. When a person touches an object and has a perception of warmth, a distinction must be made between what comes from the object, what emanates from it as it were, and what is experienced in the soul. The inner soul experience of the sensation of warmth is something different from the warmth emanating from the object. Now imagine this soul experience all by itself, without the external object. Imagine the experience - but a spiritual one - of a sensation of warmth in the soul without an external physical object being the cause of it. If such an experience were simply there without a cause, it would be an imagination. The spiritual disciple experiences such inner perceptions without a physical cause, especially without the cause of his own body. For a certain stage of development, however, they present themselves in such a way that he can know (as has been shown, can know through the experience itself) that the inner perception is not imagination, but that it is caused by a spiritual-soul entity of a supersensible external world, just as the ordinary sensation of warmth, for example, is caused by an external physical-sensible object. It is the same when we speak of color perception. A distinction must be made between the color on the external object and the inner perception of color in the soul. Imagine the inner sensation that the soul has when it perceives a red object in the physical-sensory external world. Imagine that one retains a quite vivid memory of the impression; but one turns the eye away from the object. What you still have as a memory of the color, you visualize as an inner experience. You will then distinguish between what is an inner experience of the color and the outer color. These inner experiences are quite different in content from the outer sensory impressions. They are much more characterized by what is felt as pain and joy than normal sensory perception. Now imagine such an inner experience arising in the soul without the cause being given by an external physical-sensory object or the memory of such an object. The supersensible cognizer can have such an experience. And he can also know in the corresponding case that it is not imagination, but the expression of a soul-spiritual entity. If this soul-spiritual entity evokes the same impression as a red object of the sensory-physical world, then it may be called red. With the sensory-physical object, however, the outer impression will always be there first and then the inner experience of color; with the true supersensible vision of the man of our age it must be the other way around: first the inner experience, which is shadowy like a mere memory of color, and then an ever more vivid image. The less attention one pays to the fact that the process must be like this, the less one can distinguish between real spiritual perception and imaginary deception (illusion, hallucination, etc.). Now how vivid the image becomes in such a soul-spiritual perception, whether it remains entirely shadowy, like a dark imagination, or whether it has an intense effect, like an external object, depends entirely on how the supersensible cognizer has developed. - One can now describe the general impression that the observer has of the human etheric body by saying that if a supersensible cognizer has reached such a strength of will that he can divert his attention from what the physical eye sees, even though a physical person is standing in front of him, then he is able to look into the space that the physical person occupies through supersensible consciousness. Of course, it takes a strong increase of will to not only turn one's attention away from something one is thinking about, but from something that is in front of one, so that the physical impression is completely obliterated. But this increase is possible and it occurs through the exercises of supersensible knowledge. The person thus cognizing can then first have the general impression of the etheric body. The same inner sensation arises in his soul that he has at the sight of, say, the color of a peach blossom; and this then becomes vivid, so that he can say: the etheric body has the color of the peach blossom. Then he also perceives the individual organs and currents of the etheric body. But the etheric body can also be described further by indicating the experiences of the soul, which correspond to sensations of warmth, impressions of sound and so on. For it is not merely a color phenomenon. The astral body and the other members of the human being can also be described in the same sense. Whoever takes this into consideration will realize how descriptions made in the sense of spiritual science are to be taken. (See Chapter II of this book.)

The astral world

[ 2 ] As long as one only observes the physical world, the earth as the dwelling place of man presents itself as a separate world body. But when supersensible knowledge ascends to other worlds, this separation ceases. Therefore it could be said that the imagination perceives the state of the moon, which has developed into the present, at the same time as the earth. The world which one enters in this way is now such that not only the supersensible of the earth belongs to it, but that other world bodies are also embedded in it, which are physically separated from the earth. The cognizer of supersensible worlds then not only observes the supersensible of the earth, but first of all also the supersensible of other world bodies. (The fact that it is first an observation of the supersensible of other world bodies should be noted by those who are urged to ask why those who see supersensibly do not say what it looks like on Mars and so on. The questioner then has the physical-sensory conditions in mind). Therefore in the presentation of this book it was also possible to speak of certain relationships between the development of the earth and the simultaneous development of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc. - If the human astral body is now accepted by sleep, then it belongs not only to the earth states, but to worlds in which other world regions (star worlds) are also involved. Indeed, these worlds also have an effect on the human astral body in the waking state. Therefore, the name "astral body" may seem justified.

The life of man after death

[ 3 ] In the explanations of this book, we have spoken of the time through which the astral body remains united with the etheric body after the death of the human being. During this time there is a gradually fading memory of the whole life that has just passed (see Chapter III). This time is different for different people. It depends on how strong the power is with which the astral body holds the etheric body in a person, how much control the former has over the latter. Supersensible knowledge can gain an impression of this power when it observes a person who should actually be asleep according to the degree of his soul-body constitution, but who keeps himself awake through inner strength. And now it can be seen that different people can stay awake for different lengths of time without being overwhelmed by sleep in between. Approximately as long as a person can stay awake in extreme cases, if need be, as long lasts the memory of the life just passed after death, that is, the cohesion with the etheric body. Although the etheric body is detached from the human being after death (see Chapter III), something remains of it for all later development of the human being, which can be described as an extract or essence of it. This extract contains the fruits of the life that has passed. And it is the carrier of everything that unfolds during the spiritual development of the human being between death and a new birth like a seed for the following life. (Compare chapter III.)

[ 4 ] The time between death and a new birth (see Chapter III) is determined in its duration by the fact that the "I" generally only returns to the physical-sensual world when this has in the meantime been transformed in such a way that new things can be experienced by the "I". While it is in the spiritual realms, the earthly dwelling place changes. This change is connected in one direction with the great changes in the universe; with changes in the position of the earth in relation to the sun and so on. But these are certainly changes in which certain repetitions occur in connection with new conditions. They find their external expression in the fact that, for example, the point in the celestial vault where the sun rises at the beginning of spring rotates in a complete circle over the course of about 26,000 years. During this time, this vernal equinox moves from one area of the sky to another. In the course of the twelfth part of that time, which is approximately 2100 years, the conditions on earth have changed to such an extent that the human soul can experience new things on earth after a previous embodiment. However, since the experiences of the human being are different depending on whether he embodies himself as a woman or as a man, two embodiments, one as a man and one as a woman, usually take place within the characterized period of time. However, these things also depend on the forces that a person takes with them from their earthly existence through death. Therefore, all statements such as those given here are only to be understood in such a way that they are essentially valid, but can be seen to vary in the most diverse ways in individual cases. It only depends in one respect on the above-mentioned conditions in the universe how long the human ego remains in the spiritual world between death and a new birth. In another respect it depends on the states of development which the human being undergoes during this time. After a certain period of time, these states lead the "I" to a spiritual state that no longer finds satisfaction in its inner spiritual life, which develops the desire for that change of consciousness that is satisfied in the reflection through physical experience. The human being's entry into earthly life results from the interaction of this inner thirst for embodiment and the possibility given in the universe to find the corresponding corporeality. It takes place - because two things must work together - the one time, even if the "thirst" has not yet reached its height, because an approximately adapted embodiment can be achieved; the other time, even if the "thirst" has progressed beyond its normal height, because at the corresponding time there was not yet any possibility of embodiment. The general mood of life in which a person finds himself due to the nature of his physical being is related to these conditions.

The course of human life

[ 5 ] The life of man, as it manifests itself in the succession of states between birth and death, can only be fully understood by considering not only the sensory-physical body, but also those changes which take place with the supersensible members of man's nature. - These changes can be seen in the following way. The physical birth presents itself as a detachment of the human being from the physical mother shell. Forces which the human germ had in common with the mother's body before birth are only present in it as independent forces after birth. In later life, however, similar supersensible events take place for the supersensible perception as the sensible ones at physical birth. The human being is surrounded by an etheric sheath in relation to his etheric body until approximately the change of teeth (in the sixth or seventh year). This falls away during this period of life. A "birth" of the etheric body takes place. However, the human being still remains surrounded by an astral sheath, which falls off in the period from the twelfth to the sixteenth year (at the time of sexual maturity). This is when the "birth" of the astral body takes place. And still later the actual "I" is born. (The fruitful points of view which result from these supersensible facts for the handling of education are presented in my short paper: "The Education of the Child from the Point of View of Spiritual Science". There you will also find further explanations of what can only be hinted at here). After the birth of the "I", the human being now lives in such a way that he integrates himself into the world and life conditions and operates within them according to the members that are active through the "I": the soul of feeling, the soul of understanding and the soul of consciousness. Then a time occurs in which the etheric body regresses again, in which it undergoes the reverse formation of its unfolding from the seventh year onwards. Whereas previously the astral body developed in such a way that it first unfolded within itself what was present in it as a disposition at birth, and then, after the birth of the "I", enriched itself through the experiences of the outer world, from a certain point in time it begins to nourish itself spiritually from its own etheric body. He feeds on the etheric body. And in the further course of life the etheric body then also begins to feed on the physical body. The decay of the latter in old age is connected with this. - Thus the course of man's life is divided into three parts, into a time in which the physical body and the etheric body unfold, then into a time in which the astral body and the "I" come to development, and finally into a time in which the etheric body and the physical body transform back again. Now the astral body is involved in all processes between birth and death. But because it is not actually born spiritually until the twelfth to sixteenth year and has to draw on the forces of the etheric body and physical body in the last epoch of life, what it can do through its own forces will develop more slowly than if it were not in a physical and etheric body. After death, when the physical and etheric bodies have fallen away, the development in the purification period (see Chapter III) is therefore approximately one third of the time that life takes between birth and death.

The higher realms of the spiritual world

[ 6 ] Through imagination, inspiration and intuition, supersensible knowledge gradually ascends into those areas of the spiritual world in which it can reach the beings who are involved in the development of the world and humanity. This also enables it to follow the development of the human being between death and a new birth in such a way that it becomes comprehensible. Now there are still higher realms of existence, which can only be briefly alluded to here. When supersensible knowledge has risen to the level of intuition, then it lives in a world of spiritual beings. These, too, undergo developments. What is a matter of present humanity extends, so to speak, up into the world of intuition. However, man also receives influences from still higher worlds in the course of his development between death and a new birth; but he does not experience these influences directly; the beings of the spiritual world bring them to him. And when these are considered, everything that happens to the human being results. But these beings' own affairs, that which they need for themselves in order to guide human development, can only be observed through a knowledge that goes beyond intuition. This results in a reference to worlds which are to be imagined in such a way that spiritual matters, which are the highest on earth, belong to the lower ones there. Rational decisions, for example, belong to the highest within the earth realm; the effects of the mineral realm to the lowest. In those higher regions, rational decisions are approximately what the mineral effects are on earth. Above the realm of intuition lies the region in which the world plan is spun out of spiritual causes.

The essential elements of the human being

[ 7 ] If it has been said (compare page 69 and the following) that the "I" works on the human essential members, the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body, and transforms these in reverse order into spirit self, life spirit and spirit man, then this refers to the work of the I on the human entity through the highest faculties, the development of which has only begun in the course of the earthly states. This transformation, however, is preceded by another at a lower level, and this gives rise to the sentient soul, the intellectual soul and the consciousness soul. For while the intuitive soul is being formed in the course of man's development, changes take place in the astral body, the formation of the intellectual soul expresses itself in transformations of the etheric body, and that of the consciousness soul in those of the physical body. In the course of the description of the development on earth, which has been given in this book, more details have been given. Thus one can say in a certain respect that the intuitive soul is based on a transformed astral body; the intellectual soul on a transformed etheric body; the consciousness soul on a transformed physical body. But one can also say that these three soul members are parts of the astral body, because only through this is it possible, for example, for the consciousness soul to be an astral entity in a physical body adapted to it. It lives an astral life in a physical body adapted to its dwelling place.

The dream state

[ 8 ] The dream state has been characterized in a certain respect in Chapter III of this writing. It is to be understood on the one hand as a remnant of the old picture-consciousness as it was characteristic of man during the moon evolution and also during a large part of the earth evolution. Development progresses in such a way that earlier states play into later ones. And so, during dreaming, what was once a normal state now appears in the human being as a remnant. At the same time, however, this state is different again from the old image consciousness. For since the formation of the ego it has also played a part in the processes of the astral body which take place in sleep during dreaming. Thus, in a dream, a consciousness of images appears that is altered by the presence of the ego. But because the ego does not consciously exert its activity on the astral body during dreaming, nothing that belongs to the realm of dream life may be counted as something that can in truth lead to knowledge of the supersensible worlds in the sense of spiritual science. The same applies to what is often referred to as vision, premonition or "second sight" (deuteroscopy). These come about when the "I" switches off and remnants of old states of consciousness arise. They have no direct use in spiritual science; what is observed in them cannot be regarded as the result of the same in the true sense.

On the attainment of supersensible knowledge

[ 9 ] The path to the attainment of knowledge of the supersensible worlds, which has been described in more detail in this book, can also be called the "direct path of knowledge". In addition to this, there is another path which can be called the "emotional path". However, it would be quite wrong to believe that the former has nothing to do with the development of feeling. Rather, it leads to the greatest possible deepening of the emotional life. However, the "path of feeling" addresses itself directly to mere feeling and seeks to ascend from this to knowledge. It is based on the fact that a feeling, if the soul devotes itself completely to it for a certain period of time, transforms itself into an insight, into a pictorial view. If, for example, the soul fills itself completely with the feeling of humility for weeks, months, even longer, the content of the feeling is transformed into a visualization. One can now also find a way into the supersensible realms by going through such feelings step by step. However, it is not easy for the present person to do so within the ordinary conditions of life. Solitude, seclusion from the life of the present is almost indispensable. For the impressions of everyday life, especially at the beginning of development, interfere with what the soul achieves through immersion in certain feelings. In contrast, the path of knowledge described in this book is to be followed in every present situation in life.

Observation of special events and beings of the spiritual world

[ 10 ] The question can be raised as to whether inner contemplation and the other means described for attaining supersensible knowledge only permit the observation of the human being between death and a new birth or other spiritual processes in general, or whether they also make it possible to observe very specific individual processes and beings, for example a specific dead person. This must be answered: Whoever acquires the ability to observe the spiritual world through the means described can also come to observe details that take place in it. He makes himself capable of making contact with people who live in the spiritual world between death and a new birth. However, it must be noted that this should only be done in the sense of spiritual science after one has undergone the proper training for supersensible knowledge. For only then can one distinguish between illusion and reality in relation to particular events and entities. Anyone who wants to observe individual things without proper training will fall victim to many deceptions. Even the most basic thing: understanding the way in which such impressions of special facts of the supersensible world are to be interpreted, is not possible without advanced spiritual training. That training which leads to the observation of what is described in this book in the higher worlds also leads to being able to follow the life of an individual person after death, and no less to being able to observe and understand all the special spiritual-soul beings which work from the hidden worlds into the open ones. But safe observation of the individual is only possible on the basis of knowledge of the general, great world and humanity facts of the spiritual world that concern every human being. Whoever desires the one without wanting the other is going astray. It is one of the experiences that one has to make with regard to observing the spiritual world that entry into those areas of supersensible existence that one desires first and foremost is only granted to one when one has endeavored on serious and difficult paths that are devoted only to general questions of knowledge to find out what provides information about the meaning of life. Once one has traveled these paths in a pure, non-egoistic urge for knowledge, then one is only ripe to observe details, the contemplation of which would previously only be the satisfaction of an egoistic need, even if the desiring person convinced himself that he was only striving for insight into the spiritual world out of love - for example, for a dead person. Insight into the particular can only be gained by those who, through a serious interest in spiritual scientific generalities, have gained the ability to accept the particular as an objective scientific truth without any egoistic desires.