Through the Leading Thoughts which have been sent out from the Goetheanum during the past weeks to the members of the Anthroposophical Society, the soul has been directed to the Beings of the spiritual kingdoms with whom man is connected from above, just as, from below, he is connected with the kingdoms of Nature.
True self-knowledge may become the guide through which man finds his way into these spiritual kingdoms. And when such self-knowledge is striven after in the right way, then the understanding will be awakened for what Anthroposophy is able to make known through its insight into the life of the spiritual world. But self-knowledge must be practised in the true sense, not as a mere rigid gazing into one's inner being.
By means of such a true self-knowledge one arrives in the first place at what lives in memory. In thought-pictures, the shadow of what was a direct and living experience in the past is called up into consciousness. Anyone seeing a shadow will, out of an inner impulse of thought, be guided to the object which threw the shadow. He who bears a memory within him cannot in this direct way turn the eye of his soul to the experience which lives on in the memory. But when he truly reflects on his own nature he will be obliged to say to himself: that he himself, in his soul-being, is what his experiences have made of him — those experiences which throw their shadows into the memory. The memory-shadows appear in the consciousness; in the soul there shines what in the memory is shadow. Dead shadow lives in the memory; living being lives in the soul in which the memory is active.
It is only necessary that this relationship of the memory to the actual soul-life should be made clear; and in this striving for clearness in self-knowledge a man will then perceive that he is on the path to the spiritual world.
Through memory, man is looking at the spiritual in his own soul. But in the ordinary consciousness he does not arrive at a real grasp of what he thus looks upon. He looks in the direction on something; but his look meets with no reality. Anthroposophy, out of Imaginative Knowledge, shows the way to this reality. Through it we are referred from the shadow to that which gleams and shines. Anthroposophy does this, in that it speaks of the etheric body of man. It shows how the physical body is active in the thought-shadow pictures; but how in the gleaming and shining the etheric body lives.
With the physical body man is in the sense-world; with the etheric body he is in the etheric world. In the sense-world he has his environment; in the etheric world also. And Anthroposophy speaks of this latter environment as the first of the hidden worlds in which man is living. It is the kingdom of the Third Hierarchy.
Let us now approach speech in the same way that we have considered memory. It issues from within man just as does the memory. It connects him with a certain state of being, as memory unites him with his own experiences. In words, too, there is an element of shadow. This is deeper than the shadow of the thoughts of memory. When man inwardly casts the shadow of his experiences as his memories, his own hidden self is active in the whole process. He is there when the light casts the shadow.
In speech there is also a process of shadow-casting. The words are the shadows. What is it in this case that shines? Something stronger shines, because words are stronger shadows than are the thoughts of memory. The element in the human self which in the course of an earthly life can produce memories, cannot create words. Man must learn these in connection with other human beings. Something which lies deeper in him than that which casts the shadow of memory must take part in this process. In this case Anthroposophy speaks from Inspired Knowledge of the astral body, as in the case of memory it speaks of the etheric body. The astral body is added to the physical and etheric bodies as a third part of the human being.
This third part, too, has a cosmic environment about it. This is made up of the Second Hierarchy. In human language we have a phantom of this Second Hierarchy. As to his astral body, man lives within the province of this Hierarchy.
We may go still further. In speech a portion of man's being is engaged. When he speaks he brings his inner being into motion. That which surrounds this inner being remains at rest. The movement of speech wrings itself loose from the human being while he remains at rest, but the whole man comes into motion when he brings into activity all that belongs to his limbs. In such movement man is no less full of expression than in memory and speech. Memory expresses his experiences. The nature of language consists in its being the expression of something. In the same way the man whose whole being is in motion expresses something.
Anthroposophy points out that this ‘something’ is another part of the human being. From Intuitive Knowledge it speaks of the ‘real Self’ or ‘I.’ This too, it finds, has a cosmic environment, namely the First Hierarchy.
When man approaches the thoughts in his memory he meets with the first supersensible element — his own etheric being. Anthroposophy points out to him the cosmic environment corresponding to it. When man considers himself as one who makes use of language he finds his astral being. This is no longer comprehended in that which only acts inwardly, like memory. It is seen by Inspiration as that which in the act of speaking shapes a physical process out of the Spiritual. Speech is a physical process. At its foundation lies an activity which proceeds from the sphere of the Second Hierarchy.
When the whole man is in motion there is a more intense physical action than in speech. Not merely a part of man is moulded, the whole man is given shape; and in the physical being which lives and moves in form, the First Hierarchy is active.
In this way, then, true self-knowledge can be cultivated. But in doing this man does not grasp his own Self alone. Step by step he comprehends the parts of his body: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body and the Self. And by comprehending these he also reaches up, step by step, to higher worlds which like the three kingdoms of Nature, the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms, belong, as the three spiritual kingdoms, to the whole Universe in which his being is unfolding.
69. The Third Hierarchy reveals itself as pure soul and spirit. It lives and moves in all that man experiences in the soul, in his inner life. Neither in the etheric nor in the physical could any processes arise if this Hierarchy alone were active. Soul-life alone could exist.
70. The Second Hierarchy reveals itself as soul and spirit that works in the etheric. All that is etheric is a manifestation of the Second Hierarchy. This Hierarchy, however, does not reveal itself directly in the physical; its power extends only to etheric processes. Only etheric and soul-life could exist if the Third and the Second Hierarchy alone were active.
71. The First and strongest Hierarchy reveals itself as the spiritually active principle within the physical. It makes the physical world into a Cosmos. The Third and the Second Hierarchy are the Beings who minister to it in this activity.
72. As soon as we approach the higher members of man's being — the etheric, the astral body and the Ego-organisation — we are obliged to seek for man's relation to the beings of the spiritual kingdoms. It is only the physical body's organisation which we can illumine by reference to the three physical kingdoms of Nature.
73. In the etheric body the Intelligence of the Cosmos becomes embodied in the human being. That this can happen, requires the activity of cosmic Beings, who, in their combined working, shape the etheric body of man, even as the physical forces shape the physical.
74. In the astral body the spiritual world implants the moral impulses into the human being. That these can show forth their life in man's Organisation, depends on the activity of Beings who are able not only to think the Spiritual, but to shape it in its reality.
75. In the Ego-organisation man experiences himself, even in the physical body, as a Spirit. That this can happen, requires the activity of Beings who themselves, as spiritual Beings, live in the physical world.