Lecture 1 of 11 from the volume The Human Soul in its Connection with Godly-Spiritual Individualities.
6 April 1923, Berne
My Dear Friends,
We will consider a certain theme today which may serve as an elaboration of the public lecture given yesterday.1The Aim of the Goetheanum and the Task of Anthroposophy, Berne, 5th April, 1923 I want to speak in greater detail of how the human being is placed within the sphere of the World Order that is connected with his destiny, with what we are accustomed to call Karma. How does the shaping of destiny proceed? In order to answer this question, not theoretically, but concretely in a vital and practical manner, it is necessary to study the being of man a little more closely.
Human life is often said to be divided into two different states of consciousness: waking life and sleep. The conception of sleep in most people's minds amounts to nothing more than this, that the human being rests during sleep. The scientific view indeed assumes that the activity of consciousness ceases when a man falls asleep and begins again when he wakes; in other words, so far as the organism is concerned, sleep is nothing but repose, a state in which human activity is at rest. But sleep is by no means merely rest; we must realise that from the time of falling asleep to the moment of waking, both the astral body and the Ego are present outside the physical and etheric bodies as active realities.
At the present stage of evolution reached by man in earthly life, it is not possible for him to have direct consciousness of what the Ego and astral body are doing during sleep; none the less their activities are, to say the least, as significant as those of waking life. The reason why the Ego and astral body cannot unfold consciousness of all the complicated circumstances in which they are immersed during sleep is that, at the present stage of the Earth's evolution, Ego and astral body have no organs wherewith to become aware of the happenings in which they are involved. Nevertheless these experiences are undergone by the Ego and astral body during sleep and they work on into the life of day, into man's conscious life.
We can most easily form an accurate conception of the way in which the experiences of Ego and astral body work into the life of day, by thinking of the beginning of man's life. During the very earliest period, as a tiny child, the human being as it were sleeps his way into the earthly life. You must not think here only of the times when a child is actually and obviously asleep, but of the whole period which cannot, in later life, be remembered by ordinary consciousness. To external observation the child may give the impression of being awake during this period, but what is going on in the child's consciousness does not take a form which can be remembered in later life. When we speak of all that is experienced by the child without his having subsequent memory of it, we are referring to this period during which the human being is ‘sleeping’ his way into earthly life.
But now, what develops out of this sleeping state at the beginning of man's life on Earth? Three things must be considered if we are to understand the workings of all that the human being brings from his pre-earthly life and proceeds to weave, in the dim consciousness of sleep, into his physical existence. There are three faculties which the human being has to acquire, differently from the animals. Animals either do not have them at all, or already possess them — in greater or lesser degree of development — when they come into the world.
Of the development of these three faculties people have usually quite a one-sided and inadequate conception. Very little of the whole process receives consideration. The first faculty is learning to walk. Man enters the world, the earthly world, as a being who cannot walk, who has to acquire this faculty. The second is speaking, and the third, thinking. One faculty may take precedence in a particular child, but in general it can be said that the human being learns to walk, to speak and to think. The faculty of thinking follows that of speaking; the faculty to grasp also in thought what is expressed in words develops, gradually, out of speaking. It is some considerable time before one can truly say that a child thinks.
The ordinary conception of walking is extremely inadequate. Walking does not merely consist in the child's learning to stand upright and propel his legs, it involves acquiring equilibrium, gaining complete mastery of the balance man has in the world. This means the child can move freely in any direction without falling over. Thus he learns to place his body into the world; he learns to control his muscles and limbs in such a way that the centre of gravity in the body, whether standing or walking, lies at the correct point. Current ideas about this faculty are, as I said, totally inadequate, for in reality something else of tremendous significance comes to pass with the learning to walk, namely differentiation of the functions of legs and arms. As a rule — and where modifications occur there is a sound explanation for them — animals make uniform use of their four limbs, whereas in the human being there is differentiation. For the purposes of equilibrium and of walking, man uses his legs, whereas his arms and hands are wonderful instruments for the expression of his life of soul, vehicles of the work he is to accomplish in the world. This differentiation between feet and hands, arms and legs, is one of the features that are ignored in the usual one-sided conception of the faculty of learning to walk. The differentiation testifies, in the physical world, to the fact that the human being has to acquire certain faculties during his physical life on Earth.
The second faculty, that of speaking, is also acquired by imitation; the little child tries to imitate — just as he does with walking, standing, equilibration, differentiation between hands and feet. It can be said with truth, that speaking is not unconnected with walking, — above all, with the use of the hand in its differentiation. It is well known that speaking is connected with the specific development of an organ situated at the left side of the brain. This however only applies to people who use their right hand for the most important activities of life; in left-handed people the organ of speech lies at the right side of the brain. These facts indicate that what comes to expression in speech is connected with the search for equilibrium. Then, out of speaking, thinking develops. A person who is born dumb can only be brought to think by artificial means; in all those who are not born dumb, thinking is a faculty that develops out of speech.
Now, the characteristic development I have just described is not really to be understood until we can follow how, in later life, the human being passes over from the waking to the sleeping state. During sleep, the physical and etheric bodies lie resting in the physical sense; the Ego and astral body have separated, in essentials, from the physical and etheric bodies. But if, with the methods of spiritual Science, we examine the astral body of man which has separated from the physical and etheric bodies during sleep, we find that this astral body contains within it the forces that are connected with learning to speak. It is extraordinarily interesting to watch the human being falling asleep and waking, during the time when, as a child, he is learning to speak; and it is also very interesting, in the case of some grown-up person who is learning to speak for the first time, to observe the intensity with which the astral body participates in the process. For when the human being is learning to speak, and even later on, too, when he is using speech in everyday life, the astral body carries with it, out of the physical and etheric bodies, the element of soul and spirit that is inherent in words and in speech.
If you can perceive how a human being speaks, how he forms his words, how he imparts to the words his own characteristic tone of voice, how he pours into words the force of his inner convictions, the experiences of his own soul — then you can also perceive how, when he falls asleep, the astral body carries this element of soul and spirit out of the physical and etheric bodies and during the period of sleep holds within itself, in the world of soul and spirit, as a kind of echoing wave, the after-workings of the psycho-spiritual qualities of speech. The forming of the words, the nuances of tone, the force of conviction which a man is able to bring into his words — all this can be perceived in the astral body during the sleeping state. There is, of course, no force of vibration such as is communicated to the physical air, and thus naturally no physical tone of voice is produced. The element of spirit and soul however, that proceeds from the human mouth on the waves of the words and is heard by the human ear, what the soul communicates in the flow of speech — all this is carried forth into the spiritual world by the astral body while the human being sleeps. It can be perceived more clearly when a child, or even a grown-up, is exerting himself to learn to speak a language. But through the whole of life, the element of spirit and soul inherent in speech during the day is taken out into the spiritual world by the astral body during the night. Thus we can say: the nuances of feeling in the spoken word — these it is above all that are carried out of the human being by the astral body during the night. This is a characteristic function of the astral body.
And now let us consider the Ego during the hours of sleep. The Ego is related, as it were, by nature to the limb-system. Just as the astral body is connected with the breast from which speech proceeds, so is the Ego involved in what the human being performs with his limbs, what he does between waking and falling asleep as he walks about or uses his arms and hands. The astral body flows into every word, carries forth the soul-quality of the word during sleep; the Ego is bound up with every movement we make as we go about the world in waking consciousness. The Ego is involved in every movement of the hands, in every act of grasping an object. Whereas, in connection with the astral body, too little attention is paid to the specific soul-element that pours into speech (speech being in itself so obviously a matter of the life of soul), when we come to the connection between the Ego and the limbs, we find an inclination to ignore altogether the working of the soul and spirit. Walking, grasping with the hands, are regarded as processes which happen entirely within a kind of physical mechanism, — for such the human organism is thought to be. But it is by no means so.
In every movement of the fingers that we make during the day, in every step we take as we go about, spirit and soul are contained, just as truly as they are contained in words. What is connected with our limbs and our movements is taken by the Ego out of our physical and etheric bodies into the spiritual world when we fall asleep; and in the process inheres a psycho-spiritual element of a very special nature. At every moment during the period of sleep, the Ego is unconsciously satisfied or dissatisfied. (You will understand this better presently, when I have explained it more fully). Although the words sound trivial, the Ego is satisfied with the legs having moved towards some place or other, or with something that has been accomplished by the arms. Not only is an aftermath of leg and arm movements carried out into sleep, but satisfaction or dissatisfaction as well. Part of the experience of the Ego during the hours of sleep is as follows: You should really not have gone to such and such a place! Or: It was very good to go there! It was good, too, that some particular thing was done with the arms! Or again: Such and such an action was not good! This is an expression of the element of soul and spirit that is added by the Ego to what it bears outwards from the limbs of man into sleep.
What underlies this? In accordance with the World Order the astral body of man is destined to come into inner contact between sleeping and waking with the Beings described in the book Occult Science as belonging to the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi — the Archangels. The Archangel Beings feel an affinity with what is carried out into sleep as an echo sounding on from human speech. It is something they need, something they long to experience.
I will put it like this. — Just as human beings in their physical life on Earth have to breathe, have to be surrounded with oxygen, and consequently feel oxygen to be something beneficial, so do the Archangeloi, who are connected with the inner nature of the Earth, experience a need that the souls of men who are asleep shall bring to them the echo of what is contained in their speech.
Human speech is in this way connected, inherently and fundamentally, via the sleeping state, with the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi. You will remember what I have said in earlier lecture courses, namely, that the Archangeloi are the Leaders, the Guiding Spirits, of the folk-languages. This is connected with what has now been given. The Archangeloi are the Guiding Spirits of folk-languages because they breathe in what the human being, as he sleeps, brings to them from his speech. And a certain human failing is revealed — it is one that is particularly observable in modern cultural life — when, with his speech, a man does not carry out into sleep the right quality.
There is in the culture of the present day very little of what we call idealism. Our words relate entirely to things of the outer, material world. The voicing of ideals — which presupposes belief in the spiritual, for the ideal is a spiritual thing — is becoming rarer and rarer. Since in their waking life men do not unfold inner enthusiasm for ideals, they speak, in reality, of nothing but what is actually present in the physical world. More and more do their words apply and refer only to things of the physical world.
In our days it is often so that people who claim to believe fanatically in the Spirit are the very ones who refute the Spirit. I refer to such as engage in spiritualistic experiments with the object of producing manifestations of the Spirit. This is because, fundamentally, they are only willing to believe in a Spirit which can manifest in the material world. But it is no Spirit that reveals itself in glimmering material light and other such phenomena! Spiritualism is veritably the most extreme form of materialism. It is really an attempt to deny the Spirit, inasmuch as these people will only acknowledge as Spirit that which enters into the world of matter. We are living in an age when words, as they emerge from the soul, lack the wings of idealism. But if this quality is absent, if, in other words, man is unable in waking life to speak of his ideals as well as of physical things, unable to turn to the ideal which imparts real aim to life and transcends physical existence, if in his daily speech he produces no words to express ideals, so that language itself lacks idealism, then it is exceedingly difficult, during sleep, for the connection — which is so necessary for the human being — to be made with the Archangeloi; in such circumstances no order prevails during sleep in the intercourse which should be established between the human soul and the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi. Yes, it is indeed the case that every night man loses the opportunity, if I may so express it, of union with the Archangel Beings. And it is difficult for him, then, to have the inner connection with the spiritual world which enables his life between death and a new birth to be full of strong and vital experiences. The life of a man between death and a new birth is weakened when no idealism is expressed in his speech.
To understand these things constitutes an integral part of the knowledge of life. Those who realise what lack of idealism in speech signifies will ultimately develop the power to make it once again an integral quality of human speech. Even during earthly life it can be observed that a man who, during sleep, fails to draw the right power from the Archangel, does not unfold the strength he should really possess. With regard to what speech should accomplish during sleep for the human being, we can therefore say: In order that speech may produce something that is beneficial to life, we must make a real effort to develop idealism of such a kind that our words do not merely voice an understanding of everyday affairs, but are also imbued with the Spiritual, in the form of idealism.
We are confronted with something even more striking when we observe the Ego in the sleeping state. The Ego carries out into sleep satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the activities of the limbs. Just as the astral body, as a result of the after-working of speech, is carried towards the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi, so is the Ego carried towards the Hierarchy of the Archai — the Powers of the Primal Beginnings — by virtue of what it takes out into the sleeping state as an echo of what has been performed by arms and legs in the daily round of life. From these Archai, the power flows to us, firstly, so to permeate the physical body that we do not only desire the Good, but are also able to exercise upon the urges and instincts of the physical body the measure of control which ensures that the physical body shall present no insuperable obstacle to the fulfilment of the duty or aim we have set ourselves in freedom of thought. In our thoughts we are free beings; but the power to use the freedom in actual life arises only when we carry out into sleep the basis for a true connection with the Archai. How can this be done? Idealism brings the astral body into right connection with the Archangeloi. And what enables the Ego to be united with the Archai? Although we ourselves, to begin with, are unconscious during sleep, the Being from the Hierarchy of the Archai is fully conscious, receives what is unconscious in us and elaborates it into a definite thought of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with what we have done during the day. But what is it that enables us to be connected rightly with these Archai, in the same way as idealism in speech leads us into right connection with Archangeloi?
One quality alone brings the Ego, during sleep, into right connection with the Archai, namely true human love, universal and unselfish love for human beings, sincere interest in every fellow man with whom life brings us into contact. I do not mean sympathy or antipathy, which are merely the outcome of something we are not willing to overcome. True and genuine love for human beings during the waking state leads us, during sleep, to the bosom of the Archai. And there, while the Ego is resting in the bosom of these Beings, karma or destiny is shaped. A verdict is passed: ‘I am satisfied with what I have performed with my arms and legs.’ And out of the satisfaction or dissatisfaction is born a power that not only plays a part in the period immediately following death, but continues on to the next earthly life — the power to shape destiny aright, so that true balance and adjustment are brought about in all those things which in one earthly life we have experienced in the Ego during sleep, in communion with the Archai.
Reflection on these things will develop insight into the mysterious connection between the Ego and the karma, or destiny. Just as the astral body of a man who is an idealist can hand over his speech to the Archangeloi as an offering that then enables the Archangeloi to guide him aright between death and a new birth, so does the Ego weave and work at the texture of destiny. Karma is elaborated in conjunction with the Archai. It is moreover in the power of the Archai to bestow upon us what we need in order that we may not only live through the period between death and a new birth, but, at our next descent to the earthly world, possess already a power which in earliest childhood, enables us, each in his own way, to learn to walk, to find equilibrium, to differentiate the functions of feet and hands, arms and legs.
It is wonderful to be able to perceive how the efforts made by a child when it stops crawling and begins to walk, when it first learns to achieve equilibrium — how these efforts represent the after-effects of the way in which, during the previous earth-life, the Ego was able, because of a universal love for human beings, to make a connection, during sleep, with the Archai. This fact manifests now in the process of learning to walk and can be observed in the very details of the process.
Suppose, for instance, a little child continually stumbles and falls. This means that in a previous life feelings of strong antipathy or even hatred were harboured. No more than an approach was made to the Archai and the effect of the absence of any real connection is expressed in the constant falls during the process of learning to walk. One who develops insight into such matters and sets himself the aim, let us say, of fitting himself to be an educator in the true sense by making close and careful observations of the way in which little children learn to walk, can indeed come to realise what a great and far-reaching task lies before him in the karmic adjustment of something brought over into the present life through the fact that in the previous life there was too little human love, or perhaps enough, but of a misdirected kind.
We have here an example of how the materialistic outlook remains altogether within the realm of the physical. It describes how the human organism raises itself like a machine to the upright position, how it learns to walk, and so on: but behind every physical phenomenon is something spiritual and those who can survey the whole process learn to recognise that the previous earthly life works over into learning to walk. For learning to walk is one expression of how the human being, at the beginning of a new earthly life, learns to control his physical body. Those who understand it fully, know that there is a great deal more in the process of learning to walk than the capacity to lift the legs and raise the body upright; they know that, in truth, this phenomenon is connected also with deeply inward processes, it has to do with the whole manner in which the human being is becoming master of his glandular activity and the like. For when a child is learning to walk, and even before, it is not a matter only of walking, but of gaining — or failing to gain — control of the glandular activities, a factor in the process being whether the child's temperament is phlegmatic or choleric, or whether certain emotions in him are too intense. This, again, is connected with the relationship established with the Archai during sleep in a previous earthly life, as the outcome of universal human love, or lack of it. Materialistic thought says that the human being rests during sleep. But he is not merely resting. When the right kind of idealism is present in a man's waking life, then the astral body will be enabled, while he sleeps, to rise to the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi, that is to say, to be connected with the spiritual world during sleep in such a way that the period leading over from death to a new birth can be lived through in the right manner. If this period is not rightly spent, it means that weaknesses are carried over into another earthly life. How the next life is framed and built, depends upon the nature of the connection established with the Archai. Universal human love carries with it creative power. To have strength to place the body wholly in the service of the soul, to have mastery and control of the physical body — upon what does this depend? It depends upon whether the human being, in the previous life, unfolded love for his fellow men — a faculty that belongs entirely to the soul.
You will remember what I have said in previous lectures: The soul-element of one earthly incarnation manifests in the physical in the next; the spiritual of one incarnation in the soul of the next. These connections are as I have just described them.
It will not do to generalise, saying merely that destiny and karma exist. What can be said, and with truth, is that we behold how the human being works at the formation of his own karma. He weaves it during sleep; but it is during waking life that he gathers what he needs for its texture. He weaves the threads that are formed out of universal human love — or he weaves threads which perpetually tear asunder and make bad karma for the next life, threads that are woven out of feelings of hatred for our fellowmen. Love and hatred — these are creative forces in the forming and shaping of karma.
Such truths must be viewed in their true light. It is but a slip-shod and easy-going conception of karma which prompts us to say: ‘I am ill — it is my karma!’ ‘A misfortune has befallen me — it is my karma.’ To make karma responsible for everything in this fatalistic way does not, it is true, afford any real peace of mind, it is merely a convenient theoretical conception; it is, however, quite incorrect.
Imagine you are considering, not this present life, but the third subsequent life, then in that life you will be able to look back to the present one, and when you say: ‘It is my karma,’ your karma, as it will be then, is to be traced back to this present earthly life where it was actually born. In other words, karma is all the time coming into being.
It is not right to throw everything back to the past. The right attitude to karma leads us to say: An illness which befalls me now, need not necessarily be the consequence of earlier weaknesses of soul; it is possible that an illness may constitute a first beginning. Karma holds good, nevertheless. If an illness, a misfortune befalls me in this present earthly life, the compensation will quite surely come, — or again the illness, the misfortune, may itself be the compensation.
In other words: the future, too, must be reckoned with, when we are speaking about karma. The right attitude towards karma is to have an unshakable conviction of justice reigning through all the worlds, a knowledge that for everything there is compensation. But the present earthly life must not be considered as breaking the on-flowing sequence of incarnations so that we relegate everything to the past. The healthy and positive attitude to the karmic flow of life's happenings rests on the sure knowledge that there is justice. What really matters most of all is the mood of soul that is born from this understanding of karma.
The whole feeling and attitude of soul that must emerge from a true understanding of karma, is one which makes us realise when, perhaps some misfortune befalls us as consequence of an earlier weakness in the life of soul — that if this misfortune had not come about, the weakness would have persisted. Looking into the depths of our soul, we must realise: It is good and right that this misfortune has come upon me, because it has enabled a weakness to be eliminated.
A man who bewails a misfortune which is really the consequence of a preceding weakness or failing, is not adopting the standpoint of true manhood, for the inference is that it matters not to him whether he remains weak or achieves some measure of strength. That man alone faces misfortune aright who says to himself: ‘If it has occurred because of an earlier weakness, it is to be welcomed, for it will make me conscious of the weakness (which expressed itself perhaps in some definite failing); I will now eradicate the weakness, I will be strong again.’
In a case, on the other hand, where a misfortune befalls one as the first step in karma, the right attitude is to say to oneself: If we were always only to encounter what we wish for ourselves, such a life would make us out and out weaklings! One or two earthly lives might continue to be comfortable and easy through the fact that only that would befall us that we desired for ourselves — but in the third or fourth life a kind of paralysis of soul and spirit would supervene, and no effort to overcome obstacles would arise in us. For, after all, obstacles would not be there for us to overcome unless the unhoped-for, the undesired came upon us. But if the right kind of strength is developed vis-à-vis the obstacles, if enough human love is carried over into sleep, then the karma that is woven by the Ego in communion with the Archai is such that the true compensation takes place in the next earthly life.
The truths of Anthroposophy need not remain in the realm of cognition; their very nature is such that they affect a man's attitude and temper of mind and heart. A man who is not thus affected has not grasped them fully; for him indeed they remain abstract and theoretical. The effect which a true understanding of karma has upon a man is to make him more sensitive to happiness and misfortune than he would otherwise be; happiness and misfortune are experienced with great intensity; but he is also able to induce in his soul an attitude to the spiritual world which arises, not out of any belief or creed but out of a perception of what the Ego and astral body are doing while they are withdrawn from the bodily life of day. Recognition of this promotes an unshakable conviction of world-justice. Understanding of karma means that a man has a true perception of world-justice. It does not mean that he becomes phlegmatic towards happiness or unhappiness, joy or pain; it means that joy and pain, happiness and misfortune are for him allotted to their proper place in life.
Observing the human being during the life of day, we can see how the Ego and astral body are working in the physical body. This means that we know something of their activity in the physical body. But we know nothing about the workings of the soul and spirit within the Ego and astral body. If, as a materialist, I am speaking to a human being, listening to his words, I say to myself: Lungs, larynx are at work as he speaks; vibrations are set up in the air and they strike on my ear. But if I see the process truly, I perceive in the words and speech the man's astral body in which his kinship with the Divine-Spiritual world is expressed. I say to myself: When, during the life of day, the astral body is within the physical body, it conceals itself in the man's speech and similar activities; during the night, however, the astral body participates in the life of the higher Hierarchies. And it is the same with the Ego.
When the human being sleeps he is not merely resting from the fatigues of his daily life. Here in the physical world, man sleeps, works and speaks with his physical body; but he is active too in the spiritual world, while he is asleep. Since materialism denies that Ego and astral body exist and operate in full reality of being during sleep, materialism cannot possibly understand the world in its entirety. What is the ‘moral world’ to materialism? To materialism the ‘moral world’ is something the human being formulates in thought — something that has nothing to do with the actively creative powers of the world. But those who have true and penetrating perception of human life know that man lives within the moral world-order during sleep just as truly as during waking life he lives in air and light. This again leads us to something more that it is essential we should understand.
The workings of speech (and the same holds good for karma, too) accompany us when we die. Through the course of our life we have been connected — rightly, or perhaps inadequately — with the world of the Archangeloi. This relationship has repeated itself in every period of sleep, and we bear with us through the Gate of Death into the spiritual world what has been given us by the Archangeloi during sleep. We can then find the way rightly into the spiritual world which is, indeed, the Logos, the world consisting of cosmic principles which have their images in the words of speech; we can find our way into the spiritual world to live out there our life between death and a new birth.
But the matter is not so simple. After death we have no physical body; we are able to turn to good account what the Archangeloi have conferred upon us from our periods of sleep. But when as physical human beings on the Earth, we wake from sleep, we have again to descend into a physical body. The Archangeloi cannot bestow upon us the power to do this. Still higher Hierarchies must add their work, namely, the Beings designated in Occult Science the Exusiai and the Kyriotetes. Into the urges, instincts and desires of the physical body — which offer resistance to us — these higher Beings must introduce the fruits of what we have achieved in communion with the Archangeloi through the spirituality of speech; and this now flames up within us, as the voice of conscience. When that which we bring out of sleep into the body lights up as the voice of conscience, there is working, in this voice, all that has been bestowed by the Hierarchy of the Exusiai and Kyriotetes — a Hierarchy more sublime than that of the Archangeloi.
Thus when we discover in the physical world a man whose conscience is so strong that instincts of a higher order arise in his physical body, we realise that as a result of idealism in his speech, Kyriotetes and Exusiai have worked upon him.
Again, when through universal human love a man forms a real link with the Archai, the results of the work that he himself does on his karma appear in the body of the next earth-life when, in early childhood, while he is sleeping his way into life, he learns to walk, acquires balance, skill in the use of his arms, control of the glandular system, and so on. All this is possible because he has been able, between death and a new birth, to work in communion with the Archai. But in order that in his life on Earth a man may develop delicate sensitivity, a quick and clear consciousness in regard to his own deeds, it is necessary for the still higher Beings referred to in the book Occult Science as the Dynamis to work together with the Archai.
When a man lacks wide-hearted love for his fellowmen, lacks interest in his human environment, he does not find a true link with the Archai. The result is that he prevents himself from weaving his karma rightly for the next earth-life, and the compensation has to wait for later incarnations. In the present earth-life such a man suffers from increasing lack of power to carry into the physical body the judgments that he forms — satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the actions performed by legs and hands. This cannot be achieved by ourselves alone; through intensified human love we need to have entered into a true relationship with the Dynamis. These Beings then bear into our physical body the requisite power; otherwise we come to grief, although we may perceive quite clearly what is right.
In thought we can be free. But in order to use this freedom aright in the physical body, the proper equilibrium must be established in waking and sleeping life because we must be united not only with the Archai but also with the Dynamis.
The highest Hierarchy of all — Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones — bear our deeds out into the universe. From out of sleep, Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes bear as moral power into our bodily nature what we grasp in thoughts: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones bear this out into the universe, so that our own moral forces become world-creative forces.
When the time comes for the Earth to pass over to the Jupiter condition and for our moral forces to perform their true functions in this great process of transformation, Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones can only play their part if we are able to offer them the necessary foundations. If, because of feebleness, we have only forces of destruction to offer them, then we are working for the destruction of the Earth, not for the upbuilding of Jupiter.
When Anthroposophy speaks of the manifoldness of the spiritual world, this is by no means a mere naming of particular stages, but we are enabled gradually to behold the whole warp and woof of the world and to perceive the connection of the human being with the spiritual world as clearly as we perceive his connections with the physical world. The power to promote and upbuild life arises in men who acquire in this way a true insight into their connection with the spiritual world, who realise that the purpose of sleep is not merely repose but that the after-workings of the physical body may bring the human being into a right connection with the spiritual world.
It is quite possible for a man to deny the spiritual and moral world because, to begin with, at his present stage of Earth evolution, he is not aware of its reality. He is asleep in this respect. A true science must evoke into the realm of consciousness, realisation of the heavenly existence which reaches into earthly life. Sleep comes over man for this very purpose — that he may, himself, draw out of the spiritual world the power he needs for his physical life.
And now, from this point of view, study the connection of what I have sketched today in outline with my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. As I have stated with emphasis there, it is not a matter of establishing the theory that the will must be free, but that the thought must be free. The thought must control the will if man is to be a free being. But a man's life must be suitably directed and ordered if the will is not to present insuperable hindrance to the thought that is free. As men in the physical world we can make our thought free. Feeling2The German word here is ‘Gemut’ — a word that means more than “feeling,” for it includes also the perception and understanding that belong to the heart. becomes free only when we have established a true relationship with the Archangeloi; will becomes free when we have established a true relationship with the Archai.
The living content of speech, as well as all that lives in our limbs, passes out, during sleep, together with the soul and spirit. Astral body and Ego go forth, but the ether-body remains with the physical body. The thinking that is bound up with the ether body continues within the ether-body; but we know nothing in ordinary consciousness of how this ether body thinks from the time of falling asleep to that of waking, because we are outside it. It is not true that thinking ceases during sleep; we think from the moment of falling asleep until we wake. Man's thoughts are in perpetual flow in his ether-body, only he is unaware of it. Not until the moment when he returns to the body do the thoughts light up in his consciousness. Man can become free in his life of thought because his thoughts are bound, through the ether-body, with the physical life of Earth; for he has been placed upon the Earth in order that he may become free. From the spiritual world alone can he draw the power of freedom — the power that leads to freedom in feeling and in will.
It will be clear that throughout the whole of his life on Earth the human being retains the real foundation for his thinking — the ether-body. Astral body and Ego pass out into a cosmic world during earthly life; not so, the ether-body. The ether-body emerges only at death. Then comes the backward review, lasting one, two, three days, of the life that has just ended; the human being sees his whole life as a panorama. Always, without exception, the human being looks back, after death, upon his earthly life which has now run its course. The whole ocean of the thoughts that have arisen in him between birth and death, both in sleeping and waking life — a great sea of inter-weaving thoughts — is present before him during these three days after death, but immediately thereafter the thoughts are claimed by the Cosmos; the thoughts dissolve, and after two or three days the whole panorama has passed away — into the Cosmos. We are accustomed to say that the ether-body has been detached and has dispersed, but in actual fact the Cosmos has absorbed it into itself. The ether-body has continued to expand, until finally it is completely absorbed into the Cosmos. Then, as Ego and astral body, the human being is received into the bosom of the Higher Hierarchies. Only when an ether-body is again bestowed upon him, can he descend to a new earthly life and continue the work which will make him a free human being. For it is the goal of earthly life that man shall become free. The foundation for freedom lies in the activity of pure thinking — a faculty that is bestowed upon man on Earth. Therefore is the ether-body bound to the physical body for the whole course of earthly life, releasing itself only at death in worlds where freedom is not to be acquired. Freedom is acquired during life on Earth, and moreover, as you know, during certain epochs only of Earth life.
We can thus understand that there is a true relationship between freedom and karma, for freedom is connected with those members of man's being (physical body and ether-body) which remain behind during sleep. Karma is woven by the Ego during the period of sleep, — that is to say, in a realm beyond and apart from those members wherein freedom has its foundations. Karma does not weave the texture of free or unfree thoughts; karma weaves at feeling and will. Karma emerges from the depths of human nature, out of the ‘dreaming’ feeling and the ‘sleeping’ will. Into this we can pour, or rather over against this we can place, the power that lives in the free activity of thoughts, in pure thinking, in the ethical and moral impulses as I described them in the book Philosophy of Spiritual Activity for these impulses must have their root in pure thinking.
Everything, you see, fits into a whole. It is essential to realise that the further we progress in Anthroposophy, the more completely do we find the details uniting and forming one whole. Contradictions may well be found in what is said concerning one particular domain or another; this is inevitable, because before arriving at any real insight in one domain we need, in reality, to study this domain in connection with the whole. Otherwise our conclusions are like that of a man who makes statements about a planet and is unable to understand the causes of its specific movements. In such a case it is of course necessary to reckon with the whole planetary system. Thus, if we wish really to know something about the world and about life, we must try to fathom all the connections, all the details of actual realities, both in the physical world and in the worlds of soul and spirit.
This was what I wanted to say to you today, my dear friends, when it has been possible for us to be together again in a Group Meeting. My desire has been to help you to develop that attitude to karma — that is, to universal justice — which arises in a man when he finds his true bearings in Anthroposophy. More important than the mere comprehension of theories is the feeling, the attitude of soul which we carry over into life itself. May you succeed, in ever greater and greater measure, in making the gifts of Anthroposophy the very substance of your soul, receiving them verily not into your thoughts alone, but into your heart and soul. The more Anthroposophy becomes the heart-substance of those who desire to understand it truly, the more will it be possible to introduce Anthroposophy into cultural spiritual life in the wide sense. This is a deep and urgent need, for with antiquated traditions mankind will be incapable of progress. Try to tread the path of Anthroposophy which leads from the head to the heart, for in your hearts Anthroposophy will be secure.