The Foundations of Esotericism
Berlin, 5th October 1905
If we consider man's being in its entirety we have to begin with the physical body, then the etheric, then the astral body. The physical body of man can be seen by everyone. The etheric body becomes visible when the physical body is suggested away by a strong act of will. Then the space of the physical body remains filled with the etheric body. The occultist considers the etheric as actually being the lowest body. It is the body according to which the physical body is formed. Taking the descending line, the form of the etheric body is the reverse of the physical. It is only in the ascending line that they are identical. A woman has a masculine etheric body and a man a feminine etheric body.
Around the etheric body appears the astral body. It is the outer form for the entire content of the soul; for passions, emotions, impulses, desires, joy, unhappiness, enthusiasm and so on. It manifests itself in forms of every description. The surrounding part shows cloud formations; it radiates the most varied colours. Frequently somewhat tattered formations are attached to it. The forms and colours are different and changing. Green shows sympathy and compassion for one's fellow men. The lower levels of the population show much red in the astral body, brownish red, brick red, blood red. Especially with droshky-drivers one can see such a red, indicative of the lower passions.
With every human being all the fluctuations of the astral body are enclosed in an egg-shaped sheath. This has an underlying blue colour and shows, as an important factor, a dark violet spot in the middle of the brain. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky calls this egg-shaped sheath the auric egg. In the case of little children the auric egg is predominant; in their case many bright, luminous clouds of colour appear within it. In the lower parts however little children also have dark clouds, indicating lower impulses. This is the inherited Karma that they have in common with their ancestors — ‘the sins of the fathers’. These sins of the fathers are inherited down to the seventh generation. People's characteristics can be traced back as far as the seventh generation of forefathers. After the seventh generation heredity dies out. One reckons three generations to a century. The man of today therefore still shows certain good or bad qualities coming from what was good or bad in his ancestors of the 17th century. Thus one can look backwards on one's forefathers as far as two hundred years or rather more.
To see how the auric egg has been formed we must consider the development of a cosmic body. The condition of the Earth lying nearest to our present studies is characterised as the physical condition. In Theosophical literature a condition of form is called a Globe and one therefore speaks of the physical Globe. As physical Globe the Earth is the fourth Globe in a development of seven states of being. Three other conditions preceded the physical Globe and a further three are still to follow. Before the Earth became physical it was astral. Everything living upon Earth was at that time present only in the astral. When man has gone through the Sixth and Seventh Root-Races (epochs) he will have become so spiritualised that he will again have an astral form. This future astral condition of form however will contain all the fruits of evolution.
Seven conditions of form together make up a Round. At the present time the Earth is going through its fourth Round and this is the mineral. During this time it is the task of mankind to work upon the mineral kingdom. A man is already working on the mineral kingdom when he takes a flint and hammers it into a wedge-shaped tool with which he makes other objects, when he transports rocks and builds pyramids out of the stones, when he makes tools out of metals, when he conducts electric current in a network over the earth; in all this man is working upon the mineral kingdom. Thus man puts into service the whole mineral kingdom. He makes the Earth into something entirely of his own devising. When the painter turns his mind to a combination of colours he is also working upon the mineral kingdom. We are now in the midst of this activity, and in the course of the next races (epochs) the Earth will have become completely transformed, so that eventually there will be no single atom on the earth that has not been worked upon by man. In earlier times these atoms became more and more solidified; now however they are becoming increasingly separated. Radioactivity did not exist in earlier times and could not therefore be discovered. It has only existed for a few thousand years, because now the atoms split up more and more.
When the Fourth Round comes to an end the entire mineral kingdom will have been worked upon by the hand of man. When it has been completely worked through by man, then, in order that the fruits of this work can be manifested, the Earth must pass over into an astral condition in which forms can develop. The Earth then passes over into a Mental Globe and then into the Higher Mental condition, the Arupic. It then disappears altogether out of these conditions into a shorter Pralaya. It then enters once more into a new Arupic condition, that of the next, the Fifth Round; then into a Rupic condition and then into an astral condition. After this it appears physically once more. Everything which man worked into the mineral kingdom during the Fourth Round reappears and grows up as the plant kingdom; for instance [the] Cologne cathedral will appear as a plant in the next Round.
Between the last Arupic condition of the Fourth Round and the first Arupic condition of the Fifth Round the earth goes through a Pralaya. Then in the Fifth Round the previous mineral kingdom appears in all its forms as the plant kingdom. In the Arupic condition of the Fifth Round everything is contained that man has worked over in the mineral Round. At first this reappears in the Arupic condition in the pure Akasha. This condition is in fact called ‘Akasha’. In the beginning of each new Round everything is to be found in the Akasha; later there are only imprints. Thus in these imprints we have the whole Earth with all its beings. In the transition from the Third to the Fourth Round, all the beings which came into existence in the Third Round also reappear.
With further development out of the Akasha everything has to assume a denser form. This takes place in the Rupa condition of the earth. This more material form is called in occultism, for example in certain passages from H.P. Blavatsky, the ether. In this Ether-Earth everything is contained. All beings were contained in thought, but nevertheless in the background the Akasha exists as a foundation. The ether densifies further to the Astral Light. In this Astral Light radiates the third Globe (condition of form), the Astral-Earth; it radiates in the purest Astral Light, and this Astral Light is in fact entirely composed of the same substance in which later man's auric egg shines out. This is especially the case with quite young children who are only a few months old. After this the Earth passes over into its present physical condition. Then, as the actual Earth, it becomes ever more and more physical. In the same degree however in which it becomes ever more physical, it separates off from itself the individual auric eggs for mankind. These differentiate themselves as though, in a vessel filled with water, one part of the water freezes to ice while the other part rises up in pearl-like water drops. Thus on the one side the physical earth separates off and on the other side the auric eggs become, as it were, pearl-like drops for human evolution.
At first the auric egg seems to be undifferentiated. Actually however it is not undifferentiated. It may be compared with the following: If we have a solution of cooking salt it appears as a uniform grayish mass; if we let it stand the beautiful cubic crystals of salt are precipitated. In the auric egg those forces were inherent which produced the etheric body, the Linga Sharira. Out of what became solid earth there also emerged later what had already gone through a development on the Old Moon. This contained as predisposition what eventually became the lower kingdoms as far as the first vertebrates, up to the snake. The vertebrate animals which followed were not there on the Old Moon; they were first added on the Earth. Thus the invertebrate animals emerged from the Earth when it densified to a physical condition, as did also the plants and mineral kingdom.
At the time when all these separated forms had emerged, mankind had entered into the Lemurian Age. The ever densifying human being developed from the first, the Polarian race, to the race of the Hyperboreans. This was followed by the Lemurian Age; it was then that the development of the vertebrate animals entered its first stage, and it is from that time that they have continued to evolve.
So we have to distinguish: firstly Akasha, secondly Ether, thirdly Astral Light, fourthly Earth, fifthly the Auric Egg.
This is called a spiral (Wirbel). Until the Earth stage, the fourth condition of form, the Earth became ever denser. At the price of this increasing densification, the Astral Light became individualised after the solid had thrust itself out. The Auric Eggs of human beings are the individualised Astral Light. One can therefore read in the Astral Light, not the deeds, but the emotions bound up with them; these one can read in the Astral Light. For example, Caesar conceived the idea of crossing the Rubicon and this roused in him certain feelings and desires. What took place at that time corresponds to a combination of astral impulses. The physical deeds on the physical plane have vanished for all eternity. Caesar's advance can no longer be seen in the Astral Light, but the impulse which drove him to it has remained there. The karmic (astral) correlations with what takes place on the physical plane remain in the Astral Light. One must accustom oneself to look away from all physical perceptions and only to see the karmic impulses. One must hold fast to these and consciously transpose them back into the physical. There is no purpose in looking for something which might be seen, as though one were looking at a photograph.
The greatest impulses of world history can however no longer be read in the Astral Light, for the impulses of the great initiates were passionless. Whoever therefore reads only in the Astral Light, for him the whole work of the initiates is absent: for example the content of the book ‘The Great Initiates’ by Edouard Schuré could not have been found in the Astral Light. Such impressions are only inscribed in the Ether. What one can read in the Astral Light in connection with what the initiates have done is based on an illusion, because one can only read the results of the lives of the great initiates in the impulses of their pupils. Pupils and even entire peoples have experienced strong and passionate emotions in regard to the actions of the great initiates and these have remained in the Astral Light. But it is so difficult to study the deepest motives of the great initiates because they are only present in the ether.
Cosmic events — metamorphoses such as those of Atlantis — remain at a still higher level, no longer in the Ether, but in the actual Akasha. That is the Akashic Chronicle. This latter is nevertheless connected in a certain way with the most earthly concerns of mankind. For the human being is connected with the great happenings of the Cosmos. Every single person is to be found sketched, as it were, in the Akashic Chronicle. What is present there continues further and works its way into the Ether and the Astral Light. The individual human being becomes ever more clearly discernible the more one seeks for him in the lower spheres. And one must study all these spheres in order to understand the real mechanism of Karma.