Physical natural laws, etheric natural laws, are the characters of a script which depicts the spiritual world. We only understand these things when we are able to conceive them as written characters from spiritual worlds.
9 November 1923, Dornach
In the lectures which I have given recently you will have seen that everything was directed towards so bringing together world-phenomena that eventually a really comprehensive knowledge of man might result. Everything we have been studying here has had the knowledge of man as its goal. Such a knowledge of man will only become possible when it begins with the lowest forms of the world of phenomena and relates them to everything that is revealed to man as the material world. But what begins in this way with the study of the entire world of matter must end with the study of the world of the hierarchies. It is in proceeding from the lowest forms of material up to the highest forms of spiritual existence that we must seek to discover what will eventually lead to a true knowledge of man. For the present we will use the lectures I am now able to give you to make a kind of sketch of such a knowledge of man.
We must be quite clear about the fact that what we now recognise as man is a product of that long cosmic evolution which I have always synthesized as the Saturn-Sun-Moon-and-Earth-evolution. The Earth-evolution is not yet completed. But let us be clear about what man owes to this Earth-evolution in the narrower sense, to the epoch, that is to say, which is subsequent to the evolution of old Moon. You see, when you move your arms and stretch them out, when you move your fingers, when you carry out any kind of external movement, everything in your organism which enables you to move your arms and legs, your head, your lips, and so on — and the forces upon which man's external movements depend enter into the most inward parts of the human organism — all this was vouchsafed to man by Earth-evolution in the narrower sense. If, on the other hand, you look into everything connected with the development of the metabolism, which is enclosed by man's outer skin, if you look at all the metabolic functions within the physical body, here you have a picture of what man owes to the Moon-evolution. And you have a picture of what man owes to the old Sun-evolution when you look into everything within him which involves some kind of rhythmic process. Breathing and blood-circulation are of course the most important of these rhythmic processes, and these man owes to the old Sun-evolution. Everything comprised in the system of nerves and senses, which in men of today is distributed over the whole body, this man owes to the old Saturn-evolution.
In regard to all this, however, you must bear in mind that the human being is a whole and that world-evolution is a whole. When today we draw attention to the old Saturn-evolution in the way I did in my “Occult Science”, we mean the period of evolution previous to the primordial epochs of the Sun-Moon-and-Earth-evolution. But this is only one Saturn-evolution, that from which the Earth resulted. But during the period in which the Earth was evolving, a Saturn-evolution also came into being. This Saturn-evolution is included in the Earth-evolution; it is, so to speak, the youngest Saturn-evolution. The one that did not reach the Earth-evolution is the oldest. The Saturn-evolution which was inserted into old Sun is younger; the one inserted into old Moon is younger still. And the Saturn which today imbues the Earth, and is actually responsible for certain aspects of its warmth-organization, this Saturn is the youngest of all. We, with our human nature, are a part of this Saturn-evolution.
Thus are we placed into cosmic evolution. But we are also placed into what surrounds us spacially on the earth. Take, for example, the mineral kingdom. We live in a state of reciprocal action with the mineral kingdom. We take the mineral element into ourselves through our food. We absorb it in other ways, too, through our breathing, and so on. We assimilate the mineral element.
But all evolution, all world-processes, are different within man from what they are outside him. I have already mentioned that it is a real absurdity when people today study chemical processes in laboratories, and then think that when a person eats certain foodstuffs these processes will simply continue inside him. Man is not some kind of confluence of chemical actions; inside him everything is altered. And from a certain standpoint this alteration appears in the following way.
Let us suppose that we take into ourselves something of a mineral nature. Every such mineral substance must be so far worked upon within the human being that the following result is brought about. You know that we have our own individual temperature; in the healthy person this is about 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37° centigrade). In the warmth of our blood we have something which exceeds the warmth outside us. Everything which we take in as mineral substance must, however, be so transformed, so metamorphosed in our organism that, where the warmth of our blood exceeds the average warmth of its external environment, where it rises above the average external warmth of our surroundings, this excess of warmth absorbs with satisfaction the mineral element within us. If you eat a grain of cooking-salt, this grain of salt must be absorbed by your individual warmth, not by the warmth which you have in common with the outside world. It must be absorbed with satisfaction by your own individual warmth. Everything mineral must be transformed into warmth-ether. And the moment a person has something in his organism which prevents any kind of mineral from being changed into warmth-ether, at that moment he is ill.
Now let us proceed to the plant-substances which man takes into himself. Man takes in plant-substances; he, too, belongs to the plant kingdom inasmuch as he develops the plant-element within himself. He contains what is of a mineral nature; this, however, continually has the tendency to become warmth-ether. The plant element continually has the tendency in man to become airy, to become gaseous. So that man has the plant element within himself in its aspect of air. Everything of a plant nature which enters man, or whatever he himself develops as inner plant organisation, must become airy, must be able to assume the form of air within him. If it does not assume the form of air, if his organization is such that it hinders him from letting what is of a plant-nature within him pass over into the form of air, he becomes ill. Everything of animal-nature which man takes in or develops within himself must — in time at least — assume the fluid, the watery form. Man may not have what is of an animal nature within him, whether inwardly produced or absorbed from outside, unless at some time it submits to the process of becoming fluid. If man is not in a position to liquidize either his own or foreign animal substance so as to transform it further into the solid, then he becomes ill. Only that in man which is indigenous to the purely human form, which arises from his nature as a being who walks upright, having within him the impulses to speak and think, only that which gives man his real humanity, which raises him above the animal — and this is at most a tenth of his whole organism — may enter into solid formation, into actual form. If anything of animal or plant nature invades the human solid form, man is ill.
Everything mineral must eventually become warmth-ether in man. Everything vegetable must undergo a transitional airy stage in man. Everything animal must pass through an intermediate watery stage in man. Only what is human may always retain within itself the earthly-solid form. This is one of the secrets of the human organization.
And now to begin with let us leave aside everything that man has from the Earth-epoch — thereby making our further studies of this all the more fruitful — and let us take the metabolic system as such, which, though certainly developed as an Earth-organization, nevertheless received its germinal beginnings from the epoch of old Moon. Let us therefore take digestion in the narrower sense of what takes place inside the human skin — in which we must of course include the excretory processes — and we shall find that all substances become altered in the intake of food. The food-substances, which at first are outside man, enter into him, and merge themselves with the digestive system. This digestive system now converts what belonged to man's surroundings into what is essentially human. Everything mineral begins to assume the condition of warmth-ether, everything vegetable the gaseous-airy-vaporous condition, everything animal, including what is self-produced, begins to assume the fluid condition; and all begin to build what is now essentially human into a firmly organized structural form. All this is inherent in digestion. And digestion is consequently something of remarkable interest.
If we ascend from digestion to breathing, we notice that man produces carbon out of himself, and that this is to be found everywhere within him. This is sought out by oxygen, becomes changed into carbonic acid, and is then exhaled. Carbonic acid is the combination of carbon and oxygen. The oxygen, which is drawn in through breathing, masters the carbon, absorbs the carbon into itself; carbonic acid, the product of oxygen and carbon, is then exhaled. But before exhalation occurs, the carbon becomes the benefactor, so to speak, of human nature. This carbon — in that it combines with the oxygen, in that it combines to a certain extent what the blood-circulation brings about with what the breathing produces — this carbon becomes the benefactor of the human organization, for, before it leaves the human organization, it disperses through it an out-streaming of ether. Physical science merely states that carbon is exhaled with carbonic acid. This, however, is only one side of the whole process. Man exhales the carbonic acid; but in the process of this exhalation something of the carbon taken up by the oxygen is left behind in his whole organism, namely ether. This ether penetrates into man's etheric body, and it is this ether, continually being produced by the carbon, which makes the human organization capable of opening itself to spiritual influences, of absorbing astral-etheric forces from the cosmos. This ether, which is left behind by the carbon, attracts the cosmic impulses, and they in their turn work formatively upon man, so preparing his nervous system, for instance, that it can become the bearer of thoughts. This ether must continually permeate our senses, our eyes, for example, so that they may see, so that they may receive the outer light-ether. Thus we are indebted to carbon for the supply of ether within us which enables us to come into contact with the outer world.
All this is already prepared in the metabolic system. But the metabolism as a human system is so placed into the whole cosmos that it could not exist for itself alone. Isolated in itself the digestive system could not exist. This is why it was the third system to have its rudiments implanted in man. The rudiments of the system of nerves and senses took form in the epoch of old Saturn; the second system, the rhythmic system, was laid down during the epoch of old Sun. Only after these other systems had come into being could the metabolic system be produced, because in and for itself this system could not exist. The metabolic system, if at first we omit its involuntary movements, is intended, in its cosmic connection, to provide for human nutrition. But these processes of nutrition cannot function independently. Digestion is necessary to man, but in and for itself it cannot exist. For if we study the human metabolic system in isolation — in the forthcoming lectures you will again see how necessary it is for the whole human organism — we find it constantly imbued with every kind of tendency towards illness. And the origin of internal illnesses — not those caused by external injury — must always be looked for in the metabolic system. Anyone, therefore, who wishes to put forward a rational observation of illness must start with the metabolic system; and in regard to every metabolic phenomenon he must really ask: Now where did you come from? When we consider all the phenomena, from the taking of food into the mouth, from the way the food is worked upon so that we transform certain substances into starch, sugar and so on, when we take the enveloping action of ptyalin in the mouth, when we go further and take the pepsin process in the stomach, and the assimilation of the products in digestion, following all these as far as their passage into the lymphatic vessels and into the blood — then we realize that each single one of these processes must be investigated — and their number is legion. The mingling of the products of digestion with the secretions of the pancreatic glands, the further mingling of these substances with the secretions from the gall-bladder, and so on — to each single process the question must be put: What is it that you really want? And it will answer: If I am alone I am a process which always makes man ill. No digestive process in human nature may be carried to its conclusion, for every digestive process which is carried to its conclusion makes man ill. The human constitution is only healthy when the metabolic processes are checked at a certain stage.
It might at first seem a folly in world-organization that something should begin in man which, if not checked halfway, would make him ill; but in the next lectures we shall learn to recognize this as something of the utmost wisdom. For the time being, however, let us study the actual facts, and discover what the answer of the separate digestive processes would be if we were to question their inner nature. We are always on the way to making our whole organism ill. Every digestive process, if unchecked, causes illness in the organism. If, therefore, digestion is to exist at all in man, other processes must exist whose germinal beginnings date from earlier times. These are the processes which are present in circulation, the circulatory processes. The circulation continually produces the processes of healing. So that we may really describe the human being by saying: During the old Moon evolution man was born as patient, and the doctor within him was already sent in advance during the epoch of old Sun. In regard to his own organism man was already born as doctor during the evolution of old Sun. It shows great foresight on the part of world-evolution that the doctor came into existence before the patient, for the patient in man himself was only added on old Moon. And if we are to describe man rightly, we must work backwards from the digestive to the circulatory processes, including, of course, all those impulses which underlie the circulatory system. Speaking broadly one substance induces quicker, another substance slower circulation. We have also quite small circulatory processes within us. Take any mineral substance, gold, let us say, or copper. Every such substance when induced into man — by the mouth, by injection, or in any other way — is endowed with the power of causing something to be formed or altered in the circulation, so as to work in a curative way, and so on. And what one must know, in order to gain insight into the essential healing processes in man, is what each single substance in his world-environment releases in man through alterations in his circulation. Thus one may say that circulation is a continual process of healing.
You can if you wish work this out for yourselves. Recall how I told you that on an average man draws eighteen breaths a minute. Here we find a remarkably regular agreement with the cosmos, for the number of breaths man draws in a day equals the number of circulatory rhythms carried out by the sun in its course through the solar year. As regards its rising, point at the vernal equinox the sun traverses the entire zodiac in the course of 25,920 years. In middle life man draws on an average 25,920 breaths a day. The pulse-beats are four times as many. The other circulation, the circulation which is concentrated more inwardly, is influenced by the digestion. Breath-circulation brings man into outer intercourse with the surrounding world, into reciprocal relationship with it. This breath-rhythm must continually restrain the rhythm of blood-circulation, so that it remains in its proportion of one to four, otherwise man would come into a quite irregular rhythm, not reaching the number 103,680. This corresponds to nothing in the cosmos; it would completely sever man and cosmos. His digestion tears him out of the cosmos, estranges him from the cosmos; the rhythm of his breathing continually pulls him back into it. In this holding the rhythm of circulation in control by the rhythm of breathing, you see the primal healing process which is continually at work in man. In a certain delicate way, in the case of every internal cure, we must assist the breathing process, continued as it is into the whole body, and this in such a manner that everywhere in the human being the process of circulation is held in control, is brought back into the general relationships of the cosmos.
Thus we may say: We pass over from nutrition to healing inasmuch as from below upwards man always has the tendency to become ill, and therefore in his central organism, in his organism of circulation, he must continually develop the tendency to remain well. And in that in our central organism healing impulses continually arise, they leave something behind in the head-nerve-senses system. Thus we are brought to the third part of our organism, the system of nerves and senses.
What kind of forces do we find in the nerve-senses system? We find those forces which, so to speak, the doctor in us leaves behind. On the one hand he works down into the metabolism in a health-giving way. But through this curative working upon the digestive process he actually does something which affects the whole cosmos. What I am saying is nothing fantastic, but an absolute reality. This process, which continually works downwards in us in a healing way, calls forth a feeling of pleasure in the higher hierarchies. It constitutes the joy of the higher hierarchies in the earthly world. They look down and continually feel the uprising of illness out of what streams upwards in man from the earthly, from what remains of the earthly attributes of the substances. And they also see how the forces which work away from the earthly, the forces which lie in the encircling air, and the like, are continually active as processes of healing. This arouses satisfaction in the higher hierarchies.
And now try to gain an idea of what may be studied in regard to that cosmic body which, as the spiritual object most deserving of study, is situated at the outer boundary of our planetary system. In the centre of this body we find those forces concealed which, if you think of them as concentrated upon the earth, are the illness inducing forces, and surrounding this same body the encircling forces reveal themselves as the forces which bring about healing. Anyone sensitive to such things will see encircling health in the rings of Saturn, and this in a more distinct way than it can be perceived in what surrounds the earth, because there we stand in the midst of it. A Saturn ring is something essentially different from what astronomers have to say about it. It is encircling health, where-as the inner part of Saturn develops illness; it is the illness-inducing element seen in its most radical concentration.
Thus we see in Saturn, which is situated at the outer-most boundary of our planetary system, the very same process at work which we continually bear within ourselves through our digestive and circulatory organism. But we also find, when we look at all this, that our spiritual gaze is directed further to the worlds of the first and second hierarchy, to the beings of the second hierarchy, Kyriotetes, Exusiai, Dynamis, and to the beings of the first hierarchy, Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. If with our spiritual eye we are attentive to Saturn and its ring, we shall be led to these upper hierarchies, as they survey with satisfaction the illness-inducing and health-restoring processes.
And this satisfaction is in itself a force in the universe. It streams through our system of nerves and senses and forms within it the forces of the spiritual evolution of mankind. These are the forces which blossom forth, as it were, from the healing-process which is continually at work in man. Thus in the third place we have the forces of spiritual evolution.
|3.||System of nerves and senses||Spiritual evolution.|
And if we now describe man in the epochs of Saturn, Sun and Moon, we must say: In the first place man is born out of the cosmos as spirit, he then develops within himself the “healer”, and thus enables himself to deal with the cosmic “patient”. And through the inter-working of all these activities man came into being upon the earth possessed of full freedom of movement.
Every single branch of human knowledge must in a certain sense be inspired by what I have said here. Let us suppose that someone wishes to found a system of healing, a really rational system of healing. What would this have to contain? In the first place, naturally, the processes of healing. But these healing-processes, from where must they take their start? They must take their start from the metabolic processes; and everything else can at most be supposition — we shall have something further to say about this later — anatomy too, even in a delicate form, can at most be a starting point, because it is concerned with the formed and solid. This immediately expresses the human element. But it is the digestive processes which must be studied in the first place by a rational system of medicine, and this in such a way that one always perceives in them tendencies leading towards the inducement of illness. A modern system of medicine must always take the metabolic system, that is to say the normal processes of digestion, as its point of departure; and starting from there it must deduce how internal illnesses, in the widest sense, can arise from the metabolism. Then, through an intimate knowledge of the action of the rhythmic processes, the true nature of therapy must be discovered. A modern system of medicine must, therefore, be founded on a study of the metabolic processes, and then, from this initial study, the transition must be made to everything which can make its appearance in the sphere of the rhythmic processes in man. Further, a kind of crowning of the whole will be attained in that one shows how a sound development of man's spiritual possibilities presupposes a knowledge of what arises from the healing forces. Today you will find no true pedagogy — no art, that is to say, of the sound development of man's spiritual nature — if you do not take your start from the processes of healing; for these healing processes are nothing other than applying to the central nature of the human being what must already be made use of in pure thinking when developing the spiritual processes of man.
The artist in education must work in a spiritual way with the forces which, whether concentrated in the physical or concentrated in the etheric, are processes of healing. Whatever I may do to a child in the sphere of education is a process which has something spiritual as its basis. If I transpose this process, so that what was an activity in the spirit I now carry out in such a way that I make use of some kind of substance or physical process, then this process or substance becomes a remedy. So that it may really be said that medicine is the treatment of man in the spiritual sphere metamorphosed downwards into the sphere of the material. If you call to mind the way in which I dealt with things in the teachers' course held some time back for English visitors, [* See Lectures to Teachers, a report by Albert Steffen.] you will see how I everywhere drew attention to the fact that the work of the teacher is the beginning of a kind of general therapy, and I showed how this or that set of educational ideas can be the initial cause of unhealthy conditions in the excretory processes or of digestive irregularities in later life. So that what the teacher does, projected downwards, gives us therapy. And the antithesis of this therapy — what works from below upwards — this is brought about by the process of digestion.
Here you also see why a system of medicine today must be born out of a knowledge of man as a whole. And this is possible. Many people feel it. But nothing can really be achieved until such a system of medicine is actually developed. Today this must be counted among the most urgent of necessities. If you look at modern text-books of medicine, you will see that, with the rarest exceptions, they do not take their start from the metabolic system. But this must be the point of departure, otherwise one does not learn to know the real nature of illness.
You see, the whole matter proceeds in such a way that the processes of human nutrition can pass over into processes of healing, these again into spiritual processes; and, working backwards, spiritual processes can pass over into healing processes. If, on the other hand, spiritual processes are the direct cause of digestive disturbances, these spiritual processes must again enter into a condition in which they must be cured by the central system of man. All these things pass one into the other in man, and the whole human organization is an example of continual and wonderful metamorphosis. Take, for example, the processes inherent in the whole marvelous circulation of the human blood. What kind of processes are these?
To begin with, separating it entirely from the rest of the organism, let us gain an idea of the human blood, how it flows through the veins; and let us consider the human form, the system of veins, the muscular system in its connection with the bony system, all the solid structure of the body and what flows through it as fluid. And first let us confine ourselves in the fluid condition to the blood. There are, of course, other fluids present, but let us confine ourselves to the blood. Now what are the processes which are continually happening in this streaming fluidity? These processes in the flowing blood can seize hold, in one direction or another, on the walls of the organs, on the bony structure, on anything which can take on a solid formation in man: then what belongs to the blood enters into the walls of the vessels, into the muscles, into one or another of the bones, or into any containing organ. What does it become there? It becomes the impulse towards inflammatory conditions.
What we find here or there as impulses towards inflammatory conditions is continually to be found as normal processes in the flowing blood. What appears as inflammation is something in the wrong place; that is to say processes which must always be present in the fluid blood have trespassed into the solid structure. A perfectly healthy normal process, displaced, transferred to another situation where it does not belong, becomes a process which induces illness. And certain illnesses of the nervous system consist just in this, that the nervous system, which in its whole organization is the polar opposite of the blood-system, is subjected to invasion by processes which are normal in the blood. If these processes which are normal in the blood-channels invade the paths of the nerves even in the slightest degree, then the nerves are attacked by inflammation in its initial stages; and this can develop into the most diverse forms of illness in the nervous system.
I mentioned that the processes in the blood are entirely different from those in the nerves; they are the antithesis of each other. In the blood-processes the urge is towards the phosphorizing element. When these phosphorizing processes take hold of what encloses or is adjacent to the blood, they lead to inflammatory conditions. But if the processes in the paths of the nerves themselves deviate into the adjacent organs and even into the blood, then impulses towards every kind of swelling arise in man. When these processes are carried over into the blood so that they affect the other organs in an unhealthy way, the formation of swellings or tumours makes its appearance. Every swelling or tumour is a metamorphosed nerve-process wrongly situated in the human organism.
What has its course in the nerve must remain in the nerve, and what has its course in the blood must remain in the blood. If what belongs in the blood trespasses into what is adjacent to it, inflammatory conditions arise. When what belongs in the nerve trespasses into what is adjacent to it, all kinds of formations arise which can be grouped together under the designation of swelling-formations. The aim must be to establish the correct rhythm between the processes in the nervous system and the processes in the system of the blood.
Not only have we in general the rhythm of breathing contrasted with the rhythm of the blood, but we have delicate processes in the circulation of the blood, which, when they depart from the blood, become the causes of inflammation. These delicate processes must also enter into a certain rhythmic connection with what is proceeding in the adjacent nerves, just as breathing must stand in a certain connection with the circulation of the blood. And the moment something is disturbed between blood-rhythm and nerve-rhythm it must once more be brought into adjustment.
Here again, you see we come into the domain of therapy, of healing. All this serves to show you how everything must be present in man, how above all an element of illness must be present so that in another situation it may become an element of health; it has only been brought into the wrong situation through an incorrect process. For if it were not there at all man could not exist. Man could not exist if he were unable to get inflammations, for the inflammation-inducing forces must continually be present in the blood. This was my meaning when I often said that everything one gains in the way of knowledge must be won from a real knowledge of man. Here you see the reasons why an education carried out in an up-in-the-air, abstract fashion is really something absurd. Education must in fact be so carried out that everywhere the start is taken from certain pathological processes in man, and from the possibility of curing them.
If one understands a brain-illness and the means by which brain-illness may be cured, then, to put things bluntly — from a certain point of view this is of course also a subtle matter, but I put it “bluntly” because we are dealing with a physical process — then, in the treatment of the brain, we are concerned precisely with what must be applied in the art of education. It is therefore the case that, if we ever came actually to founding a training college for teachers we should have to introduce the pathological-therapeutical aspect to the teachers, and here their thinking should be schooled by means of more perceptible things, because these are more rooted in the material, so preparing them to grasp things concerned with actual education. On the other hand, nothing is of greater assistance in therapy, particularly in the treatment of internal illnesses, than to know the effect produced by the way in which this or that aspect of the art of education is handled. For if one finds the bridge from this to the material, then, from the very way in which one should act in education, the remedy is also to be found.
If, for example, one discovers the right educational means of treating certain lethargic conditions in the children, arising from certain disturbances in the metabolic system, one develops quite remarkable inner faculties. It is necessary, of course, really to immerse oneself in the education, and not have such an external approach that, when school is over, one prefers to spend all the evening in a convivial club and forget all about what happens in the classroom. From the very way one handles a lethargic child one gains the faculty to perceive the whole working of the head-processes, and their relation to the processes of the abdomen. And further, when in mineralogy one studies the processes which take place in copper when it gives rise to this or that formation in the earth, then what copper does in becoming one or another kind of copper ore makes one say to oneself: The copper-force in the earth actually does what you as teacher do with a boy or a girl! In what is accomplished by copper one sees an image of what one carries out oneself. And it is extraordinarily fascinating for a teacher to develop an instinctive, an intuitive clarity of feeling in regard to what he himself does, and then to have the delight of going out into nature in order to see what nature accomplishes in the way of education on an immense scale. There he may see, for example, how, wherever harmful results might ensue from some lime-process, a copper-process is introduced into it. Yes, in these copper-processes, in these ore-forming processes, which have their place within the other processes of the earth, remedial effects are continually present. If somewhere or other one finds pyrite-ores, or the like, it is fascinating to be able to say: Yes, this is exactly the same as when a patient receives the right treatment. But here the treatment is accomplished by the spirits of nature, from the hierarchies down to those elemental spirits about which I have spoken to you, in their capacity as healers of all the destructive, illness-inducing processes which can appear in life. This is in fact nothing more than reading from nature. For if one sees what is happening outside, if one accepts this or that substance as a remedy or prepares it as such, one has only to ask oneself: Where do the foodstuffs grow? Where does this or that metal appear in the veins of the earth? Study their environment and you will always find that, wherever some form of metal appears here or there, which has been dealt with by nature in one or another way, a remedial process is at work within it. Only appropriate this and continue it on into the human organism and you will create a therapy which nature has demonstrated to you in the world outside.
Yes, all the goings-on of the world are in reality a true education in all questions of nutrition, of healing, of the spiritual; for in nature illness is continually being induced and is continually being cured. They are there outside, the great cosmic processes of healing. We must only apply them to man. This is the wonderful inter-working of the macrocosm with the microcosm. What I have said to many of you in one context or another is profoundly true:
Willst du dich selber erkennen,
Blicke in die Welt nach allen Seiten.
Willst du die Welt erkennen,
Schaue in alle deine eigenen Tiefen.
Wouldst thou know thyself,
Look into the world on every side.
Wouldst thou know the world,
Look into the depths of thine own being.
You can, however, apply this to everything. Wouldst thou heal man, look into the world on every side, see how on every side the world evolves processes of healing. Wouldst thou know the secrets of the world in the processes of illness and healing, look down into the depths of human nature. You can apply this to every aspect of man's being, but you must direct your gaze outwards to the great world of nature and see man in a living relationship with this great world.
People today have accustomed themselves to something different. They depart as far from nature as possible. They do something which shuts their own sight off from nature, for what they wish to examine they lay beneath a glass on a little stand — the eye does not look out into nature, but looks into the glass. Sight itself is cut off from nature. They call this a microscope. In certain connections it might as well be called a nulloscope, for it shuts one off from the great world of nature. People do not know, when something under the glass is magnified, that for spiritual knowledge it is exactly as though the same process were to take place in nature herself. For only think, when you take some minute particle from the human being for purposes of observation under a microscope, what you then do with this minute fragment is the same as if you were to stretch the man himself and tear him apart. You would be an even worse monster than Procrustes if you were to wrench man and tear him asunder in order to enlarge him as that minute particle is enlarged under the microscope. But do you believe that you would still have the person before you? This would naturally be out of the question. Just as little have you the reality there under the microscope. The truth which has been magnified is no longer the truth; it is an illusory image. We must not depart from nature and imprison our own sight. For other purposes, this can of course be useful; but for a true knowledge of man it is immensely misleading.
Knowledge of man in the true sense must be sought in the way we have indicated. Starting from the processes of nutrition, it must be followed through the processes of healing to the processes of human and world education in the widest sense. Or we can put it thus: from nutrition, through healing, to civilization and culture. For all that is concentrated in the nourishment of man is the groundwork, as it were, of his physical processes; the healing processes are derived from what continually encircles man, they are concentrated in the rhythmic system; and what comes from above is concentrated in man in the processes of the nerves and senses. Thus world-structure is erected on three levels.
This is what I wished to give you in the first place as a kind of foundation. We can now build further upon it. We shall see how, from such points of departure, we can actually progress to the business of practical affairs; and from thence we can lead over to a knowledge of the hierarchies.