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Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts
GA 26

19. What is the Earth in Reality within the Macrocosm?

The consciousness of the seer finds the macrocosm increasingly alive, the more his vision penetrates into the past. In the far distant past, the macrocosm so lives that there ceases to be any question of ‘calculating’ the manifestations of its life. Out of this living condition man is then brought forth as a separate being, while the macrocosm enters more and more into the ‘calculable’ sphere.

But in this it undergoes a slow process of death. In the same measure in which man—the microcosm—arises as an independent being from the macrocosm, the macrocosm dies.

In the present cosmic time, a dead macrocosm is existing. But it was not only man who arose in the process of its evolution. The Earth too came forth out of the macrocosm.

Deriving from the Earth the forces for his self-consciousness, man is far too close to it in his inner life to perceive its nature clearly. In the age of the Spiritual Soul, with the full unfolding of self-consciousness, we have grown accustomed to focus our attention on the spatial magnitude of the Universe, and to look on the Earth as a speck of dust, insignificant compared to the great universe of physical space.

Hence it will seem strange, to begin with, when spiritual vision unfolds the true cosmic significance of this alleged ‘particle of dust.’

In the mineral ground of the Earth the other kingdoms of Nature—the animal and plant kingdoms—are imbedded. In all this there live the forces which manifest themselves in varied forms of appearance through the seasons. Consider the world of plants. In autumn and winter it manifests the physically dying forces. In this form of appearance, the consciousness of the seer perceives the nature of those forces which have brought about the gradual death of the macrocosm. In spring and summer, forces of growth, springing and sprouting forces, show themselves in the plant life. In the growing, sprouting process, the seer's consciousness perceives not only what brings forth the abundant blessing of the plant life for the given year, but an excess. It is an excess of germinating force. The plants contain more germinating force than they expend upon the growth of foliage, flower and fruit. For the consciousness of the seer, this excess of germinating force flows out into the extra-earthly macrocosm.

Now in the same manner a surplus of force streams out from the mineral kingdom to the extra-earthly Cosmos. This force has the task of carrying the forces from the plant-world to the right places in the macrocosm. Under the influence of the mineral forces, the plant-forces become a newly fashioned picture of a macrocosm.

Likewise there are forces proceeding from the animal nature. These however do not work, like the plant and mineral forces, radiating from the Earth. They work in such a way that the plant-nature, which the mineral forces carry in clear formation into the great Universe, is gathered into a sphere, so that the picture arises of a macrocosm compact and self-contained on all sides.

It is thus the spirit-seeing consciousness beholds the essence of the earthly realm, which stands as a new, life-kindling element within the dead and dying macrocosm.

As when the old plant has died and fallen away, the new plant, however large, is formed again from the seed in space so insignificant and small—so while the old dead macrocosm falls asunder a new macrocosm is coming forth from this ‘speck of dust,’ the Earth.

It is a true contemplation of the Earth-nature which sees in it on all hands a germinating universe. We only learn to understand the kingdoms of Nature around us when we feel in them the presence of this germinating life.

In the midst of it man fulfils his Earth-existence. He partakes in the germinating life as well as in the dead and dying. From the dead he derives the forces of his thought. In the past, when the forces of his thought were coming forth from the still living macrocosm, they did not provide the foundation for self-conscious humanity. They lived, as growth forces, in a human being who did not yet possess self-consciousness. For themselves, the forces of thought must not have life of their own if they are to provide a basis for the free self-consciousness of man. With the macrocosm whose life has gone out, they for themselves must be the dead shadows of what once was living in the primeval Cosmos.

On the other side man shares in the germinating life of the Earth, from which he has the forces of his will. These forces are indeed life itself, but with his self-consciousness man does not take part in their real nature. Deep down within the human being they radiate into the shadows of his thought. The shadows of thought flow through them, and in the flowing of free thought as it unfolds within the germinating earthly nature, the full and free human self-consciousness enters into man during this age of the Spiritual Soul.

The past throwing its shadows, the future fraught with the germs of a new reality meet in the human being; and their meeting constitutes the human life of present time.

That these things are so, is clearly revealed to the consciousness of the seer the moment he enters that spirit-region which immediately adjoins the physical and in which the active presence of Michael is found.

The life of all this earthly realm becomes clear and transparent when we feel at its foundation the germ of a new Universe. Every single plant and stone appears in a new light to the soul of man when he becomes aware that each of these creations is contributing by its life or by its form to this great fact: that the Earth in its unity is an embryo—the seed of a macrocosm newly rising into life.

One should but try to make the thought of these things fully living in oneself, and one will feel how much it may signify for the human heart and mind.

(January, 1925)

Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (in connection with the foregoing study: What is the Earth in reality within the Macrocosm?)

153. In the beginning of the age of the Spiritual Soul, it became the custom to turn attention to the physically spatial greatness of the Universe. Impressed above all by this immensity of physical appearance, men speak of the Earth as a mere speck of dust within the Universe.

154. To the consciousness of the seer this ‘speck of dust,’ the Earth, is revealed as the germ and beginning of a new-rising Macrocosm, while the old Macrocosm appears as a thing whose life has died away. For the old Macrocosm had to die, that man might sever himself from it with full Self-consciousness.

155. In the cosmic present, man partakes with the Thought forces that make him free, in the dead Macrocosm; and with the Will-forces, whose essence is concealed from him, in the germinating of this Earth-existence—the Macrocosm newly springing into life.