Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Threshold of the Spiritual World
GA 17

VII. Summary of the Foregoing

Man bears within him a soul-centre belonging to a spiritual world. This is the permanent human entity, which passes through repeated earthly lives in such a way that in one earthly life it is trained in normal consciousness as a being independent of that consciousness, then experiences itself in a purely spiritual world, after human physical death, and in due time realises in a new earthly life the results of the preceding one. This permanent entity acts as the inspirer of man's destiny in such a way that one earthly life follows another as a consequence which is based on the order of the cosmos.

Man is this permanent entity itself; he lives in it as though in his other self. Inasmuch as he, as a being, is that other self, so he lives in an astral body, in the same way as he is living in a physical and etheric body. Just as the environment of the physical body is the physical world and that of the etheric body the elemental world, so the environment of the astral body is the world of the spirit. Beings of the same nature and origin as man's other self are working in the physical and elemental worlds as Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers. The way in which they work makes the relation of the astral body to the etheric and physical bodies intelligible.

The original source of the etheric body is to be found in a long-past period of the earth, its so-called Sun condition.

In accordance with the foregoing, the following survey of man may be made:

I. The physical body in the environment of the physical world. By means of this body man recognises himself as an independent individual (ego).

II. The subtle (etheric or vital) body in the elemental environment. By means of this body man recognises himself as a member of the earth's vital body, and hence indirectly as a member of three successive planetary states.

III. The astral body in a purely spiritual environment. Through this body man is a member of a spiritual world of which the elemental and physical worlds are reflections. In the astral body lives man's other self, and this comes to expression in repeated earthly lives.