Memory and Habit
28 August 1916, Dornach
In these lectures I have said many things which may, with some justification, be deemed strange and unfamiliar, in view of the materialism of our time. But it is the case that the knowledge which is gained from spheres beyond the Threshold has to do with a region of the universe other than that of the sense-perceptible facts to which science, so called, is alone willing to pay attention.
Let us remind ourselves at this point of the way in which the outer form and figure of man indicates his connection with the cosmos. The head, in its whole shape and form, is a structure which could not have come into being within Earth-existence as such, but is a product of the Moon-forces, and its individual form, in every case, is the outcome of a man's former incarnations. We have also heard that the human body (other than the head) is preparing to become head in the next incarnation. In the form of the human head, therefore, we have an indication of the previous incarnation; in the processes of the human body, we have indications of the next incarnation. In this way the human form is directly connected with the preceding and the following incarnations.
Study of the being of man in this light leads us to a knowledge of great cosmic connections.
It is well known to you that knowledge which is a remnant of the wisdom of ancient times relates the outer form of man to the twelve constellations of the Zodiac. 1See also Cosmic Forces in Man. Christiania, Nov.–Dec., 1921 Anthroposophical Publishing Co. Without speaking the superficial language that is characteristic of most modern astrological lore, it is right to call attention to the fact that behind the connections which are said to exist between the human form and the universe, deeply significant mysteries lie hidden.
Astrology, as you know, relates the human head to Aries; the throat and larynx to Taurus; the shoulders, together with all that comes to expression in the arms and hands, to Gemini; the breast to Cancer, the heart to Leo; the lower part of the trunk to Virgo; the region of the loins to Libra; the sexual organs to Scorpio; the thigh to Sagittarius; the knee to Capricorn; the shank to Aquarius; the feet to Pisces.
There we have the relation of the body, with all its parts, including the head, to the forces reigning in the cosmos and which in a certain way can be pictured or symbolised in the fixed constellations of the Zodiac.
We have spoken of the head as being a transformation of the whole body, the body as it was in the previous incarnation. The organs of sight again are of a twelve-fold constitution.
The whole human body is related, as we have seen, to the twelve constellations but each part of it must also, in turn, be related to all these twelve constellations.
I must point out, too, a certain characteristic of all the great laws of the universe. — Whenever we have a “twelve-hood,” then one member of the twelve-hood, while it belongs to the whole, is at the same time an independent member. The head, for instance, is related to one constellation but is, in turn, derived from all the twelve. Hence in the next incarnation, what to-day is the whole head, will be represented by one sense-organ; what to-day is the larynx (including the neighbouring organs of speech) will be transformed, will undergo a metamorphosis, and in the next incarnation will serve another part of the organism; the arms, another, and so on.
As we stand in the world we may say that our whole body is transformed, metamorphosed to become head in the next incarnation, and in so orderly a way that the twelve-fold constitution of our present body appears again in the next incarnation in the twelve-fold constitution of the head.
It may be asked: where is there any indication that the head is really twelve-fold in its constitution? Most of you will know that twelve main nerves go out from the human head. If these twelve nerves were rightly explained — not in the miserably confused way in which they are mentioned by modern cerebral physiology — we should be able to recognise in them that which, in the previous incarnation, was contained in the whole body. It is not necessary to be puzzled by the strange dictum that, for example, the hands will be transformed into some part of the head. Even in a crude sense we may understand what is meant. Can we not observe in the hands something that points, in germ, to organs of speech? Do not the gestures of hands and arms speak an eloquent language in themselves? Is it then so impossible to imagine them changed into something different, some thing which, at another stage of existence, will appear as a sense-organ of the head? And the idea that what is physically expressed in the knee is preparing (when spread over the whole body) to become the sense of touch, will only be laughed to scorn by those who have no conception of the phenomenon of metamorphosis in life. It is not difficult to conceive that the marvellous structure of the human knee with its knee-cap and peculiar sensitiveness (a sensitiveness different from that of the organ of touch which is spread over the whole body) is preparing to become the organ for the sense of touch in the next incarnation.
The whole of our being undergoes metamorphosis and a study of this metamorphosis opens up deep mysteries before us. But if we are to penetrate these mysteries in the right way, we must not adopt the attitude of the science of to-day which is often that of cynicism. We must have true reverence for existence if we are ever to read its mysteries.
The physical organism of man and technical discoveries.
For some long time now, modern man has brought his dreadful pride and presumption into all his conceptions of the universe. When these qualities are expressed in an extreme form in individual characters, this is not a matter of surprise to those who realise that it is precisely in the intellectual and scientific life of humanity that pride and presumption are the ruling factors, albeit this is unobserved by the majority of men.
In the course of our studies in Spiritual Science it has often been necessary for me to draw attention to this canker that has made its appearance in the more modern phase of evolution. Think of the way in which men write and of what they write about the achievements of the human race. Think of what can be read in school-books or in other works about the genius of discovery, about the invention, let us say, of paper. Paper is something that may well be a cause of regret when we think of the kind of stuff that is printed on it nowadays! Much has been said in praise of that capacity in man which has reached such a zenith of achievement! But as I have said before, a wasp's nest is composed of a substance that is the same as paper. Millions of years ago, the elemental Beings who stand behind the preparation of a wasp's nest, had already forestalled man in this discovery. And the same could be said in a thousand other instances. Take the telescope which can be turned in two directions, upwards-downwards, backwards-forwards. Schmieg, a man who tried in many ways to draw attention to such things, pointed to this very example of the telescope. Just think what it is that man has really achieved here. The twofold movement of the telescope — upwards-downwards, backwards-forwards — is made possible by a double apparatus for rotation: an upper apparatus known in mechanics as a hinge-joint, and a lower apparatus known as a pivot-joint. In this way, provision is made for the double rotatory movement. Now it would be absurd, as can easily be proved in the case of the telescope, to construct it the other way round, putting the pivot in place of the hinge or the hinge below the pivot. This would be quite useless. That such an adjustment of movement has been achieved may be lauded as a deeply significant discovery on the part of man. But in a much more ingenious way — and I use the word ‘ingenious’ in the objective and not in the subjective sense — you all possess this apparatus in your own bodies at the place where the head is poised upon the cervical vertebrae: above — a hinge joint; below — a pivot joint. And because of this you are able to move your heads upwards and downwards and from side to side. You see, therefore, that in the human organism itself we have exactly the same thing.
In the human organism there is to be found everything that man, through his discoveries, has made, or will yet make in the way of mechanical appliances, everything, that is to say, that can really contribute to human evolution. Only such things as can contribute nothing to human evolution are not to be found in man, or are only to be found there inasmuch as they have been inserted into his being by forces quite outside the natural course of his evolution. If, therefore, we look back to very early times, we shall say that there must have been a time when these peculiar joint-mechanisms and a great deal more as well, came into being. They are now in actual existence. We can go further and further back in human evolution (that is to say to phases of evolution when man already possessed the form that is his to-day), and we shall never find these organic arrangements absent. If, moreover, they are said to be the outcome of purely mechanical forces, how can this possibly be explained? Just think how wonderfully suitable for its purpose this particular apparatus is — so much so, indeed that it is possible even to use it on a telescope. No other arrangement would be anything like so suitable. According to a well-known principle of superficial Darwinism (I say ‘superficial’ expressly) it is the fittest who survive. But in this case, of what is the less fit supposed to consist? The less fit would make it impossible for man as he now is, to live at all. He simply would not be able to exist in the way he now exists; it is quite unthinkable that this is a case of transition from the less fit to the fit. Those who know the real truth as opposed to the dicta of superficial students of Darwinism, have always called attention to these things.
How will man in the future gain enlightenment on the subject of his connection with the cosmos? On this matter too, I have already said things that will have seemed puzzling and strange. I spoke of the modern belief that the Heavens are to be explained by the Heavens, and said that this was a mere catchword. The truth is that the secrets of the Heavens which can be investigated — and which by the Copernican school are considered to yield their own explanation — these secrets can explain what exists on the Earth; the mysteries of the Earth in their turn, can explain the mysteries of the Heavens.
Strange as it may appear, in times to come, in order to understand the Heavens, men will study the embryo (as it develops out of the cell) and its environment, up to the point of the existence of man as a complete and finished being. And the observations made will serve to reveal the mysteries of the great universe. The revelations of the Heavens will be explanatory of processes which, on the Earth, take their course in animal, plant and man — above all in embryonic life. The truth is that the Heavens explain the Earth, and the Earth the Heavens. This still seems a paradox to the modern age but it is a principle of real knowledge for the future and one that must be amplified and developed in many directions.
Aberrations in Occultism
Let me now speak again of problems connected with Lucifer and Ahriman. With some justification we look for the manifestations and revelations of Lucifer in human emotions and in the passions and feelings of men. We regard the Luciferic influence as operating more from the inner being. That Eve could set about making herself fair to look upon, could become a being who realised her own beauty and through her beauty proceed to bring about the temptation — this necessitated the help of Lucifer. When the other influence was destined to appear in the course of earthly evolution, namely, that the Sons of the Gods should find the daughters of men fair, i.e., should find the objective world beautiful, the intervention of Ahriman was required. It was necessary for Lucifer to work through Eve in order that she might realise her beauty and through her beauty bring about the temptation. That the objective world should work as beauty and influence the human soul, Ahriman was needed.
The first event fell in the Lemurian epoch, the second in the age of Atlantis.
It behoves us to increase our knowledge and understanding of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences. I can, of course, only describe certain details, but these details must then be put together in order to build up a knowledge of the nature of the Ahrimanic and Luciferic influences as a whole.
Some of you are possibly familiar with strange things that are apt to take place in circles where occultism, pseudo-occultism, occult charlatanism and the like, are cultivated. These strange things happen again and again. Suppose, for example, that a Society which likes to call itself an ‘Occult Society,’ numbers among its adherents, certain celebrities. In these so-called ‘Occult Societies’ there are always celebrities whose word is taken for law. Something said or done by these celebrities is immediately laid down as dogma. Suppose it becomes a dogma that one or another of these persons is the reincarnation of some great individuality, has achieved something quite out of the common, has uttered sublime truths, thousands of printed copies of which are sent out into the world. The utterances are considered to be of a lofty order although they may be commonplace in the extreme. That, however, makes no difference! It happens again and again that the most superficial nonsense, if delivered with the necessary veneer of sentimentality, is accepted by thousands of people as the most profound truth.
When something of the kind happens — and I am not now speaking of a particular instance but of typical occurrences — a good many people will be roused, protesting vigorously that they will submit to no dogma that it is all nonsense, that they do not want it, and they will never believe in it. Opposition will immediately be set on foot against them. But then some celebrity comes along and meets one of these rebels. What happens? In a few hours the rebel is converted into the most rabid supporter! Sometimes, indeed, the conversion is effected in less than an hour. Such things happen again and again. People are puzzled, very naturally. They say ‘Yes, but he or she (and it is not by any means always a ‘she’ but quite often a ‘he’) — he or she used to think so clearly about these things. How could one short conversation suffice so completely to change them over that they now believe anything and everything?’
There are people sitting here who know that such things have actually happened. But can it really be said in such a case that true conviction has been brought about? No, indeed! There can be no question of what is known as conviction in ordinary waking life. The occurrence must be regarded in quite a different light and in order to understand it we must consider the character of Ahriman.
One of the main characteristics of Ahriman is that he absolutely ignores the unbiased relationship to truth which is a determining factor in the life of man on Earth. This unbiased relationship to truth, where we strive for truth as the accordance of idea with objective reality, is beyond Ahriman's ken. He neither knows nor is concerned with it. Ahriman's position in the universe makes it entirely a matter of indifference to him whether, in the forming of a concept, this concept agrees with reality. In everything which Ahriman conceives as truth (in the human sense, of course, one would not call it ‘truth’) he is concerned only with effects. What is said, is said not because it fits the facts, but in order to produce an effect. This or that is said in order that some particular effect may be produced. It would therefore be ‘Ahrimanic’ if I were to speak to someone about our Building, let us say, with entire indifference as to its truth, but merely for the sake of inducing the person in question to undertake this or that, knowing that he will acquiesce if I ask him to do so.
I am sure you realise that these things actually happen: that a man may think out some scheme, be utterly indifferent as to whether his ideas are in accordance with objective reality or not, and then make use of them in such a way that they will have a certain effect upon those who listen to him. On a small scale this happens every day and one can think of many examples. Just think of all the things match-making ladies say when they want to bring two young people together, of all they say of the doings of the future couple! The match-makers are quite unconcerned as to the truth of what they say. Their only aim is to bring off the match under the influence of what is said.
That, of course, is a very trivial example and Ahriman himself is above such trivialities. What I mean to convey is that in human life we can find analogies for everything. The point with Ahriman is always the effect that will be produced by what is said and he formulates his utterances in such a way that when it comes to the point of communicating them he can step in to help.
Now it would serve Ahriman's purposes well if there were to arise on Earth a number of human beings who hold such a definite belief as that of which I spoke just now. If a man has been initiated into the mysteries of corrupt occultism and as a result of the initiation he has received has no inclination to place himself in the ranks of true occultism, then he can enter into a pact with Ahriman and declare a truth which in the human sense, of course, is not truth at all but which will produce certain definite effects. There is always some element of this kind at work in events such as I have described: where in an incredibly short time an out-and-out rebel succumbs to suggestion practised by means of Ahrimanic arts. In league with Ahriman a man can easily induce another to believe that some personality is an incarnation of a great individuality. It is merely a question of knowing the art of sowing the seeds where they will find responsive soil — in this case the soil of humanity itself — in such a way that the effects alone, and not the fact of agreement with objective reality, are of importance.
Such things go on in many circles which like to consider themselves ‘Occult.’ In many such circles it is not a question of ideas which accord with reality but of saying things to serve a definite aim and produce definite effects in one direction or another. Certainly, there are people who are so dull-witted and simple-minded that they immediately respond to Ahrimanic impulses quite unconsciously and without any direct application of Ahrimanic arts. But it does actually happen that Ahrimanic arts, that is to say, arts practised in direct association with Ahriman, are applied in human life. In our times, things that are done as an outcome of alliance with Ahriman play a part of great significance. For much of what has been going on for a long time now in human affairs is only to be understood in the light of a knowledge of secrets which have been lightly touched upon here.
We find, therefore, that Ahriman is never concerned as to whether an idea fits the facts but only with the effects produced.
With Lucifer it is not quite the same. Lucifer has other characteristics of which we have often spoken. But one characteristic in particular shall be mentioned here in order to further our knowledge. Like Ahriman, Lucifer is never concerned with the agreement of an idea with actuality. Lucifer is out to cultivate such ideas as will generate in man the highest possible degree of consciousness. Understand me well: I mean by that, cultivation of the most enhanced consciousness, of the widest possible expansion of consciousness. This expanded consciousness in which Lucifer is interested is associated with a certain inner voluptuousness in man. This again is Lucifer’s sphere. You remember perhaps that in speaking of At1antean times I once said that all sexuality was then an unconscious process. Beautiful myths of the different people point to this unconsciousness of the sexual process in ancient times. Only in the course of time was it raised to the realm of consciousness. Lucifer plays an essential part in raising this unconsciousness greater and greater consciousness.Prematurely to induce consciousness in man, that is to say, to call forth consciousness whereas under proper conditions this particular degree of consciousness should unfold at another period of time — this is the aim of Lucifer. Lucifer does not want the attention of men to be directed altogether to externalities. He would like everything that works into the consciousness to work from within. Hence all visionary life — which is, as it were, an exudation of forces in the inner organs — is of a Luciferic nature.
When Lucifer is known — and he must be known because it is a question of keeping him in his rightful sphere and we are here concerned with spiritual forces in the universe — we realise with horror that he has not the very least understanding pf any harmless delight or amusement which a man may take in things of the outer world. Lucifer has not the remotest sympathy for harmless, amused delight aroused by something outside. What he does understand is any emotion that is kindled by the inner being of man. Lucifer well understands when a desire in man awakens voluptuousness and when some process that would otherwise remain unconscious is called in this way into the region of consciousness. But in spite of his wisdom — and Lucifer has, of course, sublime wisdom — he simply cannot understand a harmless joke occasioned by some outer event. This lies outside his province. And one can protect oneself against the attacks which Lucifer is so prone to make, precisely by taking innocent joy and delight in the world outside. Lucifer cannot bear this; it vexes him terribly, for instance, if we take delight in a good caricature.
Such are the connections which are disclosed when we pass from the world of sense to the region lying beyond the Threshold, the region where things are not as they are in the world of sense but where all is Being, living Being. Even in the world of the Elements everything is living.
It is therefore correct to say that both Ahriman and Lucifer are equally unconcerned as to whether ideas agree with actuality. Ahriman is concerned with the effects of what is said; Lucifer's aim is to bring about an enhanced consciousness in man of what, in a particular situation, should really not become conscious.
In these two ways it is possible to achieve ends which could not be achieved if care were taken to ensure absolute agreement between idea and objective reality. And just as an alliance with Ahriman is the aim of corrupt occult circles, for reasons already indicated, so too, attempts are made to enter into a pact with Lucifer, that is to say, efforts are made to influence human beings in such a way that vision is induced as the outcome of inner voluptuousness — vision that is kindled from the inner being.
What is consciously achieved in these corrupt occult circles, namely, a pact with Ahriman on the one side and with Lucifer on the other, enables Ahriman and Lucifer to work into the unconscious regions of man's being. And much of the criticism which must be directed against the character of the fifth Post-Atlantean epoch in the way it is expressing itself in the world, is to be traced to Ahrimanic and Luciferic impulses. That there is so much lying, direct and indirect, that so much is said with utter indifference as to whether it agrees with the objective reality or not but simply for the sake of satisfying some feeling or passion — all these things are directly traceable to the fact that Ahrimanic and Luciferic influences have gripped the world to-day and are causing chaos in human affairs. For at our present stage of evolution we should not be capable of making statements as the outcome of passion without any attempt to discover whether they are really in accordance with reality or not, if we only lent ourselves to the Powers of Good! During the Atlantean epoch and even afterwards — at any rate up to the middle of the fourth post-Atlantean period — the forces in man's own inner being enabled him to ensure agreement between his ideas and the corresponding objective realities. This faculty, as we know, has been lost. And our present phase of evolution is there precisely in order that men may learn to observe the outer world, to investigate it — not to make statements which are merely instigated by their own passions! To-day, when conclusions well up from the inner life and no attempt is made to ensure their agreement with objective reality, a Luciferic influence is mingling with an Ahrimanic influence, the one inducing misplaced consciousness, and the other, lying and untruthfulness. These things are very widespread at the present time. Many souls to-day ignore the necessity of ensuring that an idea shall absolutely accord with objective reality. Moreover, few enough efforts are made in this direction. When they are made they are not understood and cause, to say the least, a considerable amount of surprise! Least of all does one find understanding when one tries to give such characterisations of reality as are supported by what actually exists, simply taking the things of the world as they are and reproducing them in ideas. People do not understand that this is something radically different from things that are done and said as the outcome either of personal or national passion. Here lies the radical difference which is unobserved to-day. Statements are made and conclusions are formed by men in accordance with their own lines of thought and without regard as to whether such statements and conclusions agree with the facts or not. That statements should agree with objective facts — upon this the fate of our age depends. For only so can we hope to pass onwards to an epoch wherein the spiritual world can be perceived in its true nature. Unless we acquire the faculty for the perception of truth in this physical world we shall never be able to unfold it in regard to the spiritual world. The capacity to find our true bearings in the spiritual world must be developed here in the physical world. It is for this purpose that we are placed in the physical world, where it behoves us to seek agreement between idea and objective reality, in such a way that this may become natural to us, may become a habit and a faculty which we then carry with us into the spiritual world.
But in these days there are so many who make statements with utter disregard of their conformity with objective fact, simply out of their feelings and emotions! This tendency is the very reverse of what is needed for the onward progress of humanity. Thinking in accordance with reality has become terribly foreign to our materialistic age under the influences which have here been described. Thinking in accordance with reality is rare in the extreme and when it is honestly striven for it comes into clash with whole world of unreal thinking. A terrible example of this is afforded by the conflicts that arise between our Anthroposophical Movement and unreal thinking; — conflicts which must be spoken of, however unwelcome this may be, because the facts are there and because one cannot be silent about them if one is sincere in regard to the Movement.
These conflicts of thinking that is in accordance with reality with thinking that is inimical to reality (inimical in the sense explained above) are an example of what is at stake when efforts are made really to serve the interests of truth.
In every age the fight with the opposing powers has had to be waged but the particular form this fight assumes in every age and the metamorphosis it undergoes must be recognised and understood. The influence of the Scribes and Pharisees has not died out! It is still working to-day, in a different form. And we shall only make progress with the clarity that is essential when we really understand this difference between thinking that is in accordance with reality and thinking that is inimical to reality.