2. The Connection of the Natural with the Moral-Psychical. Living in Light and Weight.
10 December 1920, Dornach
In our last exposition we discussed the possibility of seeing what connection there is, on the one hand, in the Kingdom of Nature with the moral or the soul, and on the other hand, to see, in the soul, that which pertains to Nature. On this point modern humanity faces a disquieting riddle. I have frequently stated in public lectures that when man applies natural laws to the universe, and looks into past times, he says to himself: Everything surrounding me has come out of the past, out of some nebular condition, and thus out of something purely material, which then was somehow differentiated and transformed, giving rise to the mineral, the vegetable, the animal and the human Kingdoms; a condition however which would somehow, even if in another form than in the beginning, also obtain at the end of the universe. But then what is born in us as morality, as our ideals, will be faded and forgotten and there will be the great graveyard of the physical and in this final condition of the physical that which has arisen in man like foam-bubbles of psychic development will have no meaning, just because it is only a kind of foam-bubble. The only reality then would be that which has developed physically out of the primeval mists into the marked distinctions of the various beings, only to return to the universal state of cinders. Such a view of things, to which one must come if one acknowledges honestly the modern outlook on nature, such a view can never build a bridge between the physical and the moral or psychic.
Therefore this philosophy, if it is not to be completely materialistic, seeing physical events as the only thing in the world, requires as it were, a second world — created out of the abstract. This second world, if one recognizes the first as given only to science, would be given only to faith. This faith, again indulges in the thought: Surely everything moral that arises in the human soul must have its compensation in the world; there must be something which rewards good and punishes evil, and so on. However philosophically you look at it, the result is the same. And in our time there are certainly people who acknowledge both views, in spite of the fact that they exist side by side without a bridge between them. There are people who believe everything the purely natural scientific view has to say, who subscribe to the Kant-Laplace theory of primeval mist, and everything in favour of a final cindery, slaggy condition of our evolution; and at the same time they acknowledge some religious view of things — that good works somehow find their reward, and evildoers are punished, and so on. This fact, that today there are many people whose souls are influenced by both the one and the other arises because in our time there is no little real activity of the soul, for, if there were, the same soul could not simply assume on the one hand a world-order which excludes the reality of the moral, and on the other acknowledge some power which rewards good and punishes evil.
Compare with this bridgeless and lazy thought of so many modern people — these moral and physical points of view — what I explained to you here last time as a product of Spiritual Science. I pointed out to you that we see around us, first of all, the world of light-phenomena, that we therefore see in the outer world everything which is apparent to us through what we call light. I pointed out to you how dying world-thoughts are to be seen in everything that surrounds us in the form of light: world-thoughts which one in the untold past were thought-worlds of definite beings, thought-worlds from which world-beings in their time drew their world-secrets. We meet these thoughts as light today, they are, as it were, the corpses of thought, world-though that is dying. This meets us as light. You know (to know it we need only open my Occult Science at the right place) that if we look back into the far distant past, man was not the same as we know him today; there was only a sort of sense-machine during the Saturn epoch, for instance. You know also that at that time the universe was inhabited, as it is also now. But these other beings occupied the position within the universe which man holds today. We know that those spirits which we call the Archai or Primeval Powers, stood during the old Saturn epoch on the plane of humanity; they were not like the human beings of today, but they were on a corresponding footing; during the old Sun epoch Archangels stood on the human plane, and so on. We look back therefore into the past and say: as we now go through the world as thinking men, these also went as thinking beings with human character through that world. That which lived then in them has become external world-thought; and that which lived then in them as thought, so that it would be visible from outside as their light-aura, that appears in the realities of light. So that in the realities of light we have to see dying thought-worlds. Now darkness interplays with these light-realities, and opposite to the light there lives in the darkness what psychically and spiritually can be called the will, or with a more oriental application, love. If we look out into the world therefore, we see on one side the light-world, if I may so call it; but we should not see this light-world, which was after all always transparent to the senses, unless the darkness was perceptible in it. And in darkness we have to seek on the first plane of the psychic that which lives in us as will. Just as the outer world can be regarded as a clash of darkness and light, so our own inner selves, in so far as they expand in space, can be regarded as light and darkness. Except that for our own consciousness light is thought, imagination; the darkness in us is will which becomes goodness, love and so on.
You see, we get here a philosophy of the world in which the soul contains not only what is psychic, and nature contains not only what is natural. We get here a philosophy in which nature is the result of former moral events, where light is “the dying world of thought.” Therefore we can also say: when we carry our thoughts in us, in so far as they live in us as thoughts, they are produced from our past. But we continually penetrate our thoughts with the will, out of the rest of our organism. For precisely what we call purest thought is the remains of our ancient past, penetrated by the will. So that even pure thought is penetrated by the will — as I have clearly expressed in the new edition of my The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. But what we carry in us goes on into distant futures, and then what now is laid in us as the first seed, will shine in external phenomena. There will then be beings who look out into the world as we do now, and they will say: Nature shines round about us; why? Because men acted in a certain way on earth. For what we see now around us is the consequence of seed borne by former dwellers on earth. We stand here now and survey Nature. We can stand like dry, barren, abstract creatures, as the physicists do, and analyze light and its phenomena: we will then analyze them, being inwardly as cold as laboratory-workers; in the course of it some very beautiful, very intelligent things will be found, but we do not stand face to face with the outer world as complete human beings. We do that only when we can feel the message of the dawn's red, of the blue sky and of the green plant, when we can experience the sound of plashing waves. For “light” does not refer only to what is apparent to the eye, but I use the expression for all sense-perceptions. What do we see in all we observe around us? We see a world which certainly can uplift our soul, and in a sense is revealed to our soul as the world that we must have in order to be able to look with our sense on to a physical world. We do not stand there as complete beings if our attitude is that of a dry physicist. We are complete beings only if we say to ourselves: there the light and the sounds are the last presentation of what in long ages past beings formulated in their souls: we have to thank them. Our view then is not that of dry physicists, but of gratitude to those beings who so many millions years ago, let us say during the old Saturn time, lived as human beings as we do today, and who felt and experienced in such a way that we have today the wonderful world around us. That is an important result of a philosophy, steeped in reality, which leads to our realization of this. You realized it with the necessary intensity, you fill yourself with this necessity for feeling gratitude towards our far distant predecessors because it is they who have created for us our surroundings. Not only are you filled with this thought, but you must make up your minds to say: We must regulate our thoughts and feelings, according to a moral ideal which floats before us, so that those beings who come after us may look upon a world for which they can be as thankful to us as we can be to our far-off predecessors who now literally surround us as spirits of light.
A complete philosophy leads, you see, to this world-feeling or this cosmic concept. A philosophy that is not complete leads indeed to all kinds of ideas or conceptions and theories of the world, but it does not satisfy the complete man, for it leaves his feeling empty. The first has its practical side, though man today scarcely realizes it. The man who takes the world today seriously, and who knows that he may not let it head for collapse, should look at the school and university of the future, which people do not enter at eight o'clock in the morning with a certain feeling of slackness and indifferent, and leave at eleven or twelve or one o'clock in the same mood, or at most with a slight pride that they are so and so much wiser ... let us assume they are! But we can envisage a future in which those people who leave at eleven or twelve or one o'clock step out from their places of learning with feelings towards the world that reach out into the universal: because side by side with their cleverness there is planted in their souls the feeling of gratitude towards the far-off past in which beings have worked to form our surrounding Nature as it is; and a great feeling of responsibility towards the world to b e, because our moral impulses will later become shining worlds.
Of course it remains a question of faith, if you want to tell these people that the primeval mist is real and the future state of slag or cinders is real, and in between there are beings creating moral illusions which rise in them as foam. Faith does not lay down the last, though to be honest, it should. It is not essentially different for a man to say: There is a kind of compensation, for Nature itself is so arranged that a compensation takes place; my thoughts will become shining light. The moral organization of the world is revealed. What at one period is moral organization, is at another physical organization; and what at one time is physical organization was once moral organization. All moral things are therefore destined to emerge into physical things. Does the man who looks at Nature spiritually need still another proof that the world is morally organized? No; in Nature itself, spiritually seen, lies the justification of the moral order. One rises to this image when one regards man in his complete manhood.
Let us start from a phenomenon we all experience every day. We know that the phenomenon of sleeping and waking means that man is released in his ego and his astral body from the physical and etheric body. What does this mean in reference to the Cosmos? Let us imagine it in a diagram. Imagine physical and etheric body, astral body and ego bound together during wakefulness and separated during sleep: What now is — I might call it — the cosmic difference between the two?
Now if you consider the state of sleep, you experience light. And by experiencing light, you experience the dying world of past thoughts; and in doing so, you have a tendency to become aware of the spiritual as it stretches out into the future. That man today has only a dim perception of it doesn't alter the fact. What is for the moment essential is that we are in this state susceptible to the light.
Now if we dip down into the body we become inwardly psychic — by which I mean that we are souls and not scales — we become psychically sensitive to darkness in contradistinction to light. This contradistinction is not merely a negative one, but we become aware of something else: as in sleep we were receptive of light, so in wakefulness we are sensible of weight. I said we are not scales, we are not sensible of weight in the sense that we weigh our bodies; but by diving down into our bodies we become inwardly and psychically sensible of weight. Do not be surprised if this at first seems somewhat vague. The ordinary consciousness is, for real psychic experience, as dormant in wakefulness as in sleep. In sleep man today does not consciously notice how he lives in light. Awake he does not notice how he lives in weight. But it is so. The fundamental experience of man in sleep is the life in light. In sleep he is not psychically sensible of weight, of the fact of weight; weight is, as it were, taken away form him. He lives in imponderable light; he knows nothing of weight; he learns to recognize this only inwardly, above all subconsciously. But it reveals itself at once to the imagination; he learns to recognize weight by diving down into his body.
For spiritual-scientific research this is shown in the following manner. When you have risen to the stage of knowledge known as Imagination, you can observe the etheric body of a plant. In doing so you will feel inwardly that his etheric plant-body draws you continually upward, it is without weight. On the other hand when you look at the etheric body of a man, it has weight, even for the imaginative picture. You simply have the feeling it is heavy. And from this point you come to realize that the etheric body of man, for instance, is something which transfers the weight to the soul within. But it is a super-sensible primeval phenomenon. Asleep, the soul lives in light, and therefore in lightness. Awake, it lives in weight. The body is heavy; this force transfers itself to the soul: the soul lives in weight. This means something which is now carried over into the consciousness. Think of the moment of waking: what is it? When asleep — you lie in bed, you do not move, the will is crippled. It is true, vision is also crippled, but only because the will is. Vision is crippled because the will is not in your own body, and does not make use of the senses. The main fact is the crippling of the will. What makes the will active? This: that the soul feels weight through the body. This combined life with the soul produces in earthly man the fact of the will. And the will ceases in man himself when he is in the light.
Thus you have the two cosmic forces, light and weight, as the great antitheses in the Cosmos. In fact, light and weight are cosmic antitheses. Think of the planets: weight draws towards the central point, light goes out from it into the whole universe. One imagines light only as quiescent: in reality it is directed outwards from the planet. Whoever thinks of weight as a force of attraction, with Newton, really things very materialistically; or he imagines some sort of demon or something sitting in the middle of the earth and pulling the stone with an invisible string. One speaks of a force of attraction which no one can every prove except in imagination. Now people are not able to realize it actually, but they speak of it, with Newton as the force of attraction. In western civilization the time will come when whatever exists must be somehow represented materially. Thus, someone could say to these people: Well, you want to represent the force of attraction as an invisible string, but then you will have to represent light at best as a kind of swinging away, as a shooting off. One could then represent light as a force of dispersion. It is enough for him who prefers to remain nearer reality, if he can simply realize the opposition, the cosmic opposition of light and weight.
And now, many things that concern man are based on what I have been saying. If we have considered the daily event of going to sleep and awaking, we say: In going to sleep, man passes out from the field of weight, into the field of light. By living in the field of light, when he has lived long enough without weight, he gets again a strong longing to feel weight around him, and he returns once more to weight — he awakes. It is a continuous oscillation between life in light and life in weight, between going to sleep and awakening. If a man has developed his powers of perception sufficiently, he will be able to feel this sort of rising from weight into light, and the feeling of being possessed again by weight on awaking, as a personal experience.
Now, think of something else: think of this: between birth and death man is bound to the earth, because his soul, having lived a time in light always hungers again for weight, and returns to the condition of weight. When a condition has been set up — we shall speak further of this — in which this hunger for weight no longer exists, man will follow light more and more. He does this up to a certain point, and when he has arrived at the outermost periphery of the universe, he has exhausted that which gave him weight in his lifetime; then begins a new longing for weight and he begins his path over again, back to a new incarnation. So that in that interval also between death and a new birth, at the midnight hour of existence, there arises a kind of hunger for weight. This is man's longing to return to a new earth-life. Now while he is returning to earth he has to go through the spheres of the other adjacent heavenly bodies. Their effect on him is various and the result of these influences he brings with him into the physical life. So you see the question is important: What influence have the stars in the spheres through which he travels? For according to his passage through his stellar sphere, his longing for earth-weight is variously formed. Not the earth alone radiates, as it were, a certain weight which is the object of man's longing, but also the other heavenly bodies, through whose sphere he travels, as he moves towards a new life, influence him with their weights. So that man, while returning, can get into different situations, which justify one in saying this: Man while returning to earth longs once more to live in the earth-weight. But first he passes through the sphere of Jupiter, who also radiates a weight of such a kind as to add something joyful to the longing for the earth's weight. Thus the longing takes on a joyful mood. Man passes through the sphere of Mars. Mar's weight influences him also, and implants activity in his soul, which is joyfully longing for the earth's weight, so that he may use forcefully the next life from birth to death. The soul has reached the stage of possessing in its subconscious depths the impulse clearly to long for the earth's weight, and to use earthly incarnation forcefully, so that the joyful longing is expressed with intensity. Man passes also through the sphere of Venus. With this joy and strength and longing is mingled a loving understanding of life's tasks.
You note, we are speaking of several different weights, issuing from the heavenly bodies, and are connecting them with the living contents of the soul. We are seeking, again, in looking out into universal space, to assess what is spread out in physical space in moral terms. Knowing that will lies in weight, and that light is the opposite of will, we may say that Mars radiates light, as do Jupiter and Venus also, and that in the forces of weight lies at the same time modification through light. We know, in light are dying world-thoughts, in the forces of weight lie worlds to come through the seeds of will. All this streams through the souls moving in space. We are looking at the world physically, and, at the same time, morally.
The physical and moral do not exist side by side, but in his limitations, man is disposed to say: here, on one side, is the physical, there on the other, the moral. No, they are only different aspects, in itself the thing is one. The world which develops towards light, develops at the same time towards a compensating revelation. Moral world-order reveals itself out of the natural world-order. You must be clear that such a view of the universe is not reached through a philosophical interpretation, but that one grows into it by learning gradually through Spiritual Science to spiritualize physical concepts: for thus it takes on a moral quality of its own accord. And if you learn to look through the physical world into the world in which the physical has ceased to be and the spiritual exists, you will find the moral element is present.
It would be possible even now to explain quite “learnedly” what I have just said. You have this line, which is not an ellipse, because it is more rounded, here. (See Diagram 2)
[Dr. Steiner was here describing on the blackboard the three variations of the curve of Cassini. One of them is similar to an ellipse, the second to a figure of eight (Lemniskate) the third is composed of two separated parts. –Ed.] An ellipse would be like this: but that is only a special form of this line, this line could also, if we altered the mathematical equation, take this form. It is then the same line as the other: one time I go round like this and close here ... under certain conditions I do not go up here to the top like this — but round here — and return again, closing at the base. But the same line has still another shape. If I begin here, I must apparently close here also; now I must leave the level, the space, must cross here and return here. Now I must leave space again, continuing here, and closing at the base. The line is only modified somewhat; these are not two lines, but only one; it has also only one mathematical equation; it is a simple line, only I have gone out of space. If I continue this demonstration another possibility arises: I can simply take this line (Lemniskate) (figure 8), but I can also represent it so that half of it lies in space; by coming round here — I must leave space and finish it off so: here is the other half, but outside ordinary space, not inside. It is also there. And if one developed this method of perception which mathematicians, if they would, could certainly do today, one would come to the other conception — of leaving space and returning into it. That is something which corresponds to reality. For every time you undertake something, you think: before you will it, you go out of space, and when you move your you return again. In between, you are outside of space: then you are on the other side. This conception must be thoroughly developed — from the other side of space. Then you arrive at the conception of what is truly super-sensible, and above all at the conception of the moral element in its reality. Today it is so difficult, because people will divide everything they want to experience according to dimension, weight and number, whereas in fact the reality leaves space at every point, I might say, and returns again to it. There are people who imagine a solar system with comets in it. They say: the comet appears, traverses a huge ellipse, and after a long time returns. In the case of many comets that is not true. It is like this: comets appear, go out, disintegrate there, cease to be, but form themselves again on the other side and return again, describe in fact lines which do not return at all. Why? Because comets leave space and return at quite another place. This is certainly possible in the Cosmos, that comets somehow disintegrate out of space and return again at a totally different place.
I must point out that Spiritual Science could deal with the most learned scientific concepts if it had the chance or possibility of permeating with spirit that which is today carried on without spirit, particularly in the so-called exact sciences. Unfortunately this possibility does not exist; things especially like Mathematics, etc., are pursued today for the most part in the most materialistic way. And therefore Spiritual Science is called upon to make itself known to educated laymen, there were many with pretensions to learning to reproach it. Spiritual Science can deal with the highest scientific conceptions, and this with full exactitude, because it is conscious of its responsibility. Among all its other tasks, Spiritual Science has the task of purging our mental atmosphere from those mists of untruthfulness which obtain not only in outward life, but which can be shown to exist in the very heart of every science. And, again, there emerges from these depths, something which has such a devastating effect on the social life. We must summon up the courage to illumine these things with the right light. But for this it is necessary to cultivate an enthusiasm for an outlook on life which really does combine the moral and physical world-orders, in which the light-giving sun can be regarded not only as the concentration of crumbling thought-worlds, but also as that which springs forth from the depths of the earth as the preparation for what lives on into the future, seedlike, permeating the world in accordance with Will.