Things in Past and Present in the Spirit of Man
VII. Man's Four Members
25 April 1916, Dornach
I have spoken in the past lectures of the customs in certain brotherhoods and what happens there. And I indicated that you can find the deeper impulses still present in the dried up structure of modern Freemasonry. And last time I especially spoke about that particular custom which represented itself in the laying in the grave and in the resurrection which, in the main, is that which can be called the Easter Cult. Today I will begin with something else which is connected with these things.
What is actually striven for in these circles can be presented in the following way. One says that you are looking for the lost Word. Now, I cannot permit myself to go into details, because that would lead me too far afield but I will, to be sure, in a certain way, tell you about what is meant by the “Lost Word” and to do this I will remind you of the beginning of the Gospel of John in which it says: “In the primal beginning was the Word. (In Greek, Logos always means Word) And the Word was with God and the God was the Word.” Now, it is obvious that that which we indicate today with the word ‘Word’ is not what is meant there; it is something quite different. You must remember the things which I told you in the last lecture in order to approach what is involved here, that mankind had a primal revelation, a primal wisdom in ancient times.
You must think of this primal wisdom which had to be given in a certain way to mankind, which was in its infancy, and if you think of this wisdom as spread out, you call that the Logos, the Primal Word, then you have an approximate idea of what is meant by the word ‘Word’, the Logos. One is able to say the following: That which was once given as wisdom to mankind which still stood at its infancy, through the mediation of higher spirits and is something which is far more extensive than that which today we are able to know in our spiritual science, you can say that has been lost. It is a beautiful custom when a feeling, a perception is at least stimulated in such brotherhoods that such a thing has actually been lost and must be looked for again.
Now, obviously this will not be found in such brotherhoods, because if that were so, when these people reached a certain degree there they would be just as wise as those people who once upon time were instructed by the Gods. However, in the cult, something is shown which is a picture of this losing of the primal wisdom and the refinding of it. Something should be sunk into the souls of mankind in such a way that they would come into the situation that when they pass through the portal of death, when they then pass the spiritual world and then return to earth, that then they can at least have an understanding of that which was necessary as a wisdom of the earth. Thus we can say: The Lost Word is again searched for, and all our spiritual science is, in the main, a searching for this Lost Word.
Now, to be sure, one cannot say that that which is given by spiritual science today was always absolutely unknown. No. I myself have often openly spoken in public lectures about a lost tone in modern spiritual life, a forgotten stream in which so much has already lived of that which is like a seed, a germinal aspect to spiritual science. When we consider the human being today, we know the following. That which the physical eyes see in the human being, is, as it were, only the external side of this hunan being; it is the physical body. The ether body is working and exists in him in a beingness way within this physical body. However, one does not come very far at all when one knows nothing other than that the man has an ether body. Many people are satisfied when they just know this word and have a vague idea of it, they are satisfied and can say: Well, the ether body is something a little thinner than the physical body, it is mistier and more radiating. But when you know that, you do not have very much. This ether body is actually a very complicated structure.
When you consider the human being as he is today, you know that each one is very different from the other. The European man is different from the African, who is again very different from the Asiatic. You must recognize such differences. However, when we look at the whole of mankind, in spite of all the differences between then, we must admit that the human beings taken together, are much more similar than the animals, because even though we know that the European is entirely different from the African, nevertheless you cannot say that this is as strong a difference as, for example, between the stork and the mouse. Therefore you see that animals are differentiated to a much higher degree than are human beings. The animals are separated from each other by species, and as far as the human race is concerned, you can say that it is one single species. Thus when we sweep our glance over the animal kingdom on the Earth, we find the most manifold differentiations between them.
Let us focus upon the consideration of our ether body. Our ether body is, as it were, held together by the elasticity of the physical body. The ether body is held together through the elastic force of the physical body as long as we are here between birth and death. Now, just represent in an imaginative way, if you can, an experiment which naturally cannot be done, but just imagine that it could be done, that you could remove the physical body on the one hand from the ether body and on the other hand remove the astral body and the ego from the ether body. Then, because the elasticity of the physical body is no longer there, you would discover that this ether body would spring out, separate out into many different divisions showing that the ether body is a manifoldness constituted out of many single factors and is only held together through the elasticity of the physical body.
Now we ask the question: How would these portions which spring out of us appear when we are able to separate the physical body away from the ether body? Indeed, even though it may appear strange to the clever people of our present age, nevertheless the following fact is true. These parts of the ether body would assume forms which would approximately resemble the outspread animal kingdom; that means that all the possible forms of the animal kingdom would appear. It would really be true that a certain part of your ether body, the head, for example, would take on a form similar to a bird, a certain part of the ether body which is in the vicinity of the larynx would take on a very beautiful angelic animal form; and so on. Thus we carry the whole animal kingdom inside us in our ether body. This is absolutely true. Our ether body is the outspread animal kingdom which is held together through the elasticity of our physical body.
Now, in primeval times when evolution was at another stage, the whole human form was distributed among many animals. When you contemplate that, you can understand that which is, in a very coarse way, looked upon as Darwinism. Mankind had, as it were, prepared itself in so far as that which later on it should develop as an ether body through what was separately formed as in the divisions of today's animal kingdom and at that time appeared entirely different from today's animal kingdom. Today's animal kingdom is no longer that which mankind was able to descend from. It was a quite other animal kingdom from the parts that were spread out in space and which were in the future intended to constitute man's ether body. However, the forces which were spread out in this ancient animal kingdom are in a certain sense extracted, as it were, and today these forces are present in our ether body.
Now, just imagine what we have there, in the main, as a totality in us. We have all the instincts, all the different drives of the animals already in us. However, they are only placed into a total relationship through the fact that all of that has been united through the elasticity of our physical body. As physical man, we are human beings and we have received our physical configuration during our earth existence from the Spirits of Form. As physical man we hold all of that which is within us in check. Now, at times one drive comes to manifestation or if one particular part of the ether body achieves the upper hand another drive comes to manifestation. You see what a complicated manifoldness we human beings actually are, and how it is impossible, in the main to approach the human being and understand him with these things which one first sees in the external world. If you focus your attention on the physical body, you first see that the Spirits of Form work there. These Spirits of Form give man his form only during the earth period. The animals have received their inherited form from the ancient Moon Evolution. This animal form is therefore a Luciferically configurated form; it is a form which has remained behind from the ancient Moon Evolution. What was only of an etheric nature at that time today has hardened itself. However, man has received his external physical configuration from the Spirits of Form, but they work in a lesser way in his inner being. Thus these Spirits of Form work less upon the ether body than do the Archai, Archangels and Angels. These Beings work upon the ether body and have something to do with the directing of this manifoldness in the ether body of which I just spoke. When we enter more exactly into the spiritual scientific facts, then we must be clear, for example, that in this our ether body all those forces work which come from the Folk Soul. This national Folk Soul exists deeply in our unconscious. And there exists, in the main, deeper wisdom which as pictures have been imparted to mankind and which can be understood if one exerts the will to do so.
Just assume that we are speaking or singing. Now, it is purely prejudice if you believe that all that happens when you speak or sing is some form of movement in the physical body. The main factors of the movement really occur within that manifoldness in the ether body of which I just spoke. Hence that which comes to consciousness in song or music comes out of the unconscious depths. It is most difficult to grasp this in words. And again we realize how we are related to the rest of the world when we know that that which is spread out as the animal kingdom lives in our ether body in the way in which I just described it.
When a certain impulse wants to be active in us, obviously it must come up in the astral body. If you consider these things in an orderly fashion, they do not contradict each other. Thus when you speak of the presence of drives and instincts in the human being, you must naturally ascribe them to the astral body. However, the form similarity which we have just spoken about in the animal kingdom is at the basis of the situation. And again, when we consider our astral body, if we are able to separate it out imaginatively as I just indicated in the separation of the ether body, then this astral body would fall apart, because it is only held together through the elasticity of the physical and the ether bodies. If you remove that elasticity, the astral body would fall apart and then it would represent something very similar to the whole outspread plant kingdom. Through the fact that we have an astral body, the different forms of the plant kingdom really exist in us as it is spread out in the world in its manifoldness. If you study the whole plant kingdom in the way in which one form is placed beside another, then you have an externally separated picture of that which has been drawn together in the human astral body. This knowledge also belongs to what has been called the Lost Word, because a consciousness of these things was present in the primal wisdom.
We carry the actual ego within the astral body, but when we speak about this which, for example, we have as consciousness in the human being not only during our waking period, but also that which exists when the human being sleeps, when his forces are unfolded outside in the whole universe during sleep, that is pulsated through by the spiritual forces of the cosmos. We carry all that in us unconsciously. If we are able to separate the ego out of the human being as we have just done with the ether body and the astral body, separating it out completely, then we would receive the whole picture of the mineral kingdom with all its differentiated mysteries of the cosmos. That which is actually spread out in the whole cosmos is contracted together into this ego. Thus we carry the mineral cosmos within us.
In this way we get a picture of what man actually is and how he is related with the cosmos. And when we speak of the fact that man consists of the physical body; of the ether body, of the astral body, of the ego, then we must not only take these merely as words, but we must be able to understand what exists behind these words; and you do that through spiritual science when you can focus the whole connection between man and the cosmos in your mind.
That person who today is able to see through these things knows that in the near future mankind will be presented with much more difficult tasks than the hard tasks of the present, tasks of which very few people today can even have an inkling. However, one must not believe that with the mobility, with the elasticity of thinking which human beings today possess, that it would be possible to be able to solve these tasks. It will not be possible to solve these tasks, because one of the characteristics of our age is that we are immersed in deep lies of life.
Now, in order to illustrate this, I will place proof before you which is near to us showing how people live in an untrue way today. Recall that which exists in that cycle an Christian Initiation where I spoke of the First Stage, of the Washing of the Feet which is a symbolic expression for something which man should exercise in his soul. I described how the human being should develop certain feelings, certain perceptions, which go towards perceiving his connection with the rest of the kingdoms of nature. Indeed, as you look down towards the animal kingdom in this connection with deep inner feeling, you say: This animal kingdom must be there in order that we should have a basis for this human kingdom. What would we higher developed creations be if this lower kingdom were not there? Now, making this into a living perception is the beginning of the first Degree of Christian Initiation. And then to be able to make clear to yourself how the animal as belonging to a higher kingdom must look down upon the plant kingdom and must say to it: You plant kingdom, you are indeed standing lower than I am in the row of phenomena, but I must thank you for my existence. Again, the plants must feel themselves down to the mineral kingdom out of which they grow and say: To you mineral kingdom I am thankful for my existence. And in a similar way, the Angelic kingdom, the next kingdom above the human kingdom, has to look down upon the human kingdom and say: We have to thank you, you human beings, who stand upon a lower stage of evolution for our existence. And so it goes further and further upwards in the scale. All these things can be transmuted into a fundamental ground of perception existing in the human soul.
Now, in this connection, my dear friend who is so close and true to our movement, namely, Christian Morgenstern, has brought this Washing of the Feet into a beautiful poem. We now have it among Morgenstern's last poems which appeared after his death. The well-known poem entitled “We found a Path” is also among this group. The poem entitled “The Washing of the Feet” tells of that which in previous years was said in connection with Christian Initiation and has been republished in this group. (Rudolf Steiner recited this poem)
A criticism of Morgenstern's poems recently appeared. Now you know that Christian Morgenstern was very closely attached to our movement; and this critic writes a book about him but he never mentions the fact that Christian Morgenstern was really one of us. This is an example of the sort of life lies existing today. Also what this critic does instead of getting the real spiritual connotation of Morgenstern's poems, is to try to reduce them down to analogies referring more to the human aspect, and he tries to show how this is German lyric poetry. Christian Morgenstern, if he were alive today, would be the first to say that his poems have as their origin not the external materialistic world to which this critic, Ernst Lissour (sic) comes from, but Christian Morgenstern would say that his poems come from another source, namely, from a spiritual source. Here you have an example of the life lies in which we live.
My dear friends, I would really prefer to say something which is in a sense far more elevating as an Easter consideration however, we cannot afford that luxury. We are living in very bloody times and it is necessary that we should inscribe in our souls that we should correctly perceive as the sort of karma development which which we are living now. We are living in very earnest times and we must acquire a real feeling, a real understanding for this. We are living in the 20th century, but we are surrounded by the sort of judgement that belongs to the 19th century. Very shortly after the outbreak of the war, people gave me a poem and they said it was written by Robert Hamerling and was a sort of prophecy of our present time.
Now, all you need do is just live yourself into the artistic style of Robert Hamerling and you will quickly see that not one line of this poem could have come from him, but many papers have printed this poem and they are filled with admiration about this prophecy saying that Hamerling, who died in 1889, was able to see into our present time. Even though it is not true that one single line comes from him, yet they keep on repeating it.
Now, you cannot blame the broad masses of mankind; it is not their fault. The fault lies with these leaders, and I have given you examples of these representative people of our age, the representative media of our age, how they are filled with lies. In order to characterize our present age, we must say to a person who today for example holds a horseshoe magnet in his hand: Look, what you have in your hand is a magnet which has forces in it. But he says: No, that is no magnet, that is a shoe which we put on horses' hoofs. Then he takes the shoe and dismisses you. People have the magnetized iron in their hand and do not know that there is an invisible force in it. This is just a picture analogous to what we talked about in our spiritual science; they will not recognize our spiritual science. The problem today is that things are very complicated, but our thoughts are not sufficiently developed to be able to take these things into our understanding. Therefore everything splits itself apart; people walk by each other, each finding his own methods in his particular domain and have no inkling that the historical necessity demands that all this can actually be illuminated from spiritual science.
Now, I have often mentioned the fact here that every physical event has its spiritual side, how we are related to the world shows itself in so far as we give back things to the world when we pass through the portal of death. That which I said about the ether body relates itself to the time between birth and death. For a few days after death things are entirely different when the ether body is held together by the ego and astral body. After that it is given over to the cosmos and then it works as I have often told you. Many such ether bodies of the very young have gone through the portal of death and are present in the spiritual sphere and remain there with all the spiritual content which exists in them as a result of their sacrificial death. All these ether bodies that are filled with this sacrificial death have the possibility of helping a future spiritualization of mankind. However, in order for that to be possible, there have to be human souls here on the earth who understand this etheric aspect which is streaming around human beings and is the most valuable residue of those people who have gone through their sacrificial death. This is a real, not an abstract memory process and it is those human beings who understand these things on the earth who can become receptacles for these young ether body forces and place themselves in the service of mankind as is wanted by these young people who have gone through their sacrificial death. However, if human souls here upon the earth are not mature enough to do all these things, then these forces which have been set free by the sacrificial death flow into Ahrimanic and Luciferic streams. As far as spiritual science is concerned, we have responsibilities that have been given to us which are related not only to mere knowledge and cognition, but are connected with feelings which should be stimulated in our souls and be made alive. And, in the main, the correct result of such considerations which we have tried to foster here in one direction or another is to help us in learning to acquire a feeling of responsibility for human souls in reference to the events that are going on all around us which has been permeated with so much blood. When we, in an earnest sense are able to edify ourselves through the contemplation of the connection of man in the world that spiritual science can give us, then we understand the words correctly which we have often used here and which call the feelings out of human souls which are so necessary in our age. May souls direct their conscious mood in a spiritual way into the realm of the spirits and as they do that, say:
From the courage of the fighters,
From the blood on fields of battle,
From the grief of the bereathed,
From the people's sacrifice,
There will ripen fruit of Spirit
If souls will torn in consciousness
Towards the realm of Spirit.