Course for Young Doctors
The "Bridge" Lectures
II. The Moral as the Source of World-Creative Power
Dornach, 18th December, 1920
I tried yesterday to give certain indications about the constitution of the human being, and at the end it was possible to show that a really penetrating study of human nature is able to build a bridge between the external constitution, and what it unfolds through self-consciousness, and the inner life. As a rule no such bridge is built, or only very inadequately built, particularly in the science current today. It became clear to us that in order to build this bridge we must know how the human constitution is to be regarded. We saw that the solid or solid-fluid organism — which is the sole object of study today and is alone recognized by modern science as organic in the real sense — we saw that this must be regarded as only one of the organisms in the human constitution; that the existence of a fluid organism, an airy organism, and a warmth organism must also be recognized. Naturally, up to the warmth organism itself, everything is to be conceived as physical body. But it is paramountly the etheric body that takes hold of the fluid body, of everything that is fluid in the human organism; in everything airy, the astral body is paramountly active, and in the warmth organism, the Ego. By recognizing this we can, as it were, remain in the physical but at the same time reach up to the spiritual.
We also studied consciousness at its different levels. As I said yesterday, it is usual to take account only of the consciousness known to us in waking life from the moment of waking to the moment of falling asleep. We perceive the objects around us and reason about these perceptions with our intellect; we also have feelings in connection with these perceptions, and we have our will impulses. But we experience this whole nexus of consciousness as something which, in its qualities, differs completely from the physical which alone is taken account of by ordinary science.
It is not possible, without further ado, to build a bridge from these imponderable, incorporeal experiences in the domain of consciousness to the other objects of perception studied in physiology or physical anatomy. In regard to consciousness too, we know from ordinary life that in addition to the waking consciousness, there is dream consciousness, and we heard yesterday that dreams are essentially pictures or symbols of inner organic processes. Something is going on within us all the time, and in our dreams it comes to expression in pictures. I said that we may dream of coiling snakes when we have some intestinal disorder, or we may dream of an excessively hot stove and wake up with palpitations of the heart. The overheated stove symbolized irregular beating of the heart, the snakes symbolized the intestines, and so forth. Dreams point us to our organism. The consciousness of dreamless sleep is, as it were, an experience of nullity, of the void. But I explained that this experience of the void is necessary in order that we feel ourselves connected with our bodily nature. As an Ego we would feel no connection with our body if we did not leave it during sleep and seek for it again on waking. It is through the deprivation undergone between falling asleep and waking that we are able to feel ourselves united with the body. So from the ordinary consciousness which has really nothing to do with our own essential being beyond the fact that it enables us to have perceptions and ideas, we are led to the dream-consciousness which has to do with actual bodily processes. We are therefore led to the body. We are led to the body even more strongly when we pass into the consciousness of dreamless sleep.
Thus we can say: On the one hand our conception of the life of soul is such that it leads us to the body. And our conception of the bodily constitution, comprising as it does the fluid organism, the airy organism, the warmth organism and thus becoming by degrees more rarefied, leads us to the realm of soul. It is absolutely necessary to take these things into consideration if we are to reach a view of the world that can really satisfy us.
The great question with which we have been concerning ourselves for weeks, the cardinal question in one's conception of the world, is this: How is the moral world order connected with the physical world order? As has been said so often, the prevailing world view — which relies entirely upon natural science for knowledge of the outer physical world — can only resort to earlier religious beliefs when it is a matter of any comprehensive understanding of the life of soul. In modern psychology there really is no longer any such understanding — this world view is unable to build a bridge. There, on the one side, is the physical world; according to contemporary views this is a conglomeration from a primeval nebula and everything will eventually become a kind of slag heap in the universe. This is the picture of the evolutionary process presented to us by the science of today, and it is the one and only picture in which a really honest modern scientist can find reality.
Within this picture there is no room for a moral world order. It is there on its own. One receives the moral impulses into oneself as impulses of soul. But if the assertions of natural science are true, that first everything was astir with life, then finally the human being emerged out of the primeval nebula and only then the moral ideals well up within. And when, as is alleged, the world becomes a slag heap, this will also be the graveyard of all moral ideals. They will have vanished. — No bridge can possibly be built, and what is worse, modern science cannot, without being inconsistent, admit the existence of morality in the world order. Only if modern science is inconsistent can it accept the moral world order as valid. It cannot do so if it is consistent. The root of all this is that the only kind of anatomy in existence is concerned exclusively with the solid organism and no account is taken of the fact that the human being also has a fluid organism, an airy organism, and a warmth organism. If you picture to yourselves that as well as the solid organism with its configuration into bones, muscles, nerve fibers and so forth, you also have a fluid organism and an airy organism—though these are of course fluctuating and inwardly mobile — and a warmth organism, if you picture this you will more easily understand what I shall now have to say on the basis of spiritual-scientific observation.
Think of a person whose soul is fired with enthusiasm for a high moral ideal, for the ideal of generosity, of freedom, of goodness, of love, or whatever it may be. That person may also feel enthusiasm for examples of the practical expression of these ideals. But nobody can conceive that the enthusiasm which fires the soul penetrates into the bones and muscles as described by modern physiology or anatomy. If you really take counsel with yourself, however, you will find it quite possible to conceive that when one has enthusiasm for a high moral ideal, this enthusiasm has an effect upon the warmth organism. — There, you see, we have come from the realm of soul into the physical!
Taking this as an example, we may say: Moral ideals come to expression in an enhancement of warmth in the warmth organism. Not only is one warmed in soul through what is experienced in the way of moral ideals, but one becomes organically warmer as well — though this is not so easy to prove with physical instruments. Moral ideals, then, have a stimulating, invigorating effect upon the warmth organism. You must think of this as a real and concrete happening: enthusiasm for a moral ideal — stimulation of the warmth organism. There is more vigorous activity in the warmth organism when the soul is fired by a moral ideal.
Neither does this remain without effect upon the rest of one's constitution. As well as the warmth organism there is also the air organism. We inhale and exhale the air; but during the inbreathing and outbreathing process the air is within us. It is of course inwardly in movement, in fluctuation, but equally with the warmth organism it is an actual air organism in us. Warmth, quickened by a moral ideal, works in turn upon the air organism, because warmth permeates the whole human organism, permeates every part of it. The effect upon the air organism is not that of warming only, for when the warmth, stimulated in the warmth organism, works upon the air organism, it imparts to it something that I can only call a source of light. Sources of light, as it were, are imparted to the air organism, so that moral ideals which have a stimulating effect upon the warmth organism produce sources of light in the air organism. To external perception and for ordinary consciousness these sources of light are not in themselves luminous, but they manifest in the astral body. To begin with, they are curbed — if I may use this expression — through the air that is within us. They are, so to speak, still dark light, in the sense that the seed of a plant is not yet the developed plant. Nevertheless we have a source of light within us through the fact that we can be fired with enthusiasm for moral ideals, for moral impulses.
We also have within us the fluid organism. Warmth, stimulated in the warmth organism by moral ideals, produces in the air organism what may be called a source of light which remains, to begin with, curbed and hidden. Within the fluid organism — because everything in the human constitution interpenetrates — a process takes place which underlies the outer tone conveyed in the air. I said that the air is only the body of the tone, and anyone who regards the essential reality of tone as a matter of vibrations of the air, speaks of tones just as he would speak of a person as having nothing except the outwardly visible physical body. The air with its vibrating waves is nothing but the outer body of the tone. In the human being this tone, this spiritual tone, is not produced in the air organism through the moral ideal, but in the fluid organism. The sources of tone, therefore, arise in the fluid organism.
We regard the solid organism as the densest of all, as the one that supports and bears all the others. Within it, too, something is produced as in the case of the other organisms. In the solid organism there is produced what we call a seed of life — but it is an etheric, not a physical, seed of life such as issues from the female organism at a birth. This etheric seed which lies in the deepest levels of subconsciousness is actually the primal source of tone and, in a certain sense, even the source of light. This is entirely hidden from ordinary consciousness, but it is there within us.
Think of all the experiences in your life that came from aspiration for moral ideas — be it that they attracted you merely as ideas, or that you saw them coming to expression in others, or that you felt inwardly satisfied by having put such impulses into practice, by letting your deeds be fired by moral ideals — all this goes down into the air organism as a source of light, into the fluid organism as a source of tone, into the solid organism as a source of life.
These processes are withdrawn from the field of our normal consciousness but they are active nevertheless. They become free when we lay aside our physical body at death. What is thus produced in us through moral ideals, or through the loftiest and purest ideas, does not bear immediate fruit. For during the life between birth and death, moral ideas as such become fruitful only insofar as we remain in the life of ideas, and insofar as we feel a certain satisfaction in moral deeds performed. But this is merely a matter of remembrance, and has nothing to do with what actually penetrates down into the different organisms as the result of enthusiasm for moral ideals.
So we see that our whole constitution, beginning with the warmth organism, is, as a matter of fact, permeated by moral ideals. And when at death the etheric body, the astral body, and the Ego emerge from the physical body, these higher members of our human nature are filled with all the impressions we have had. Our Ego was living in the warmth organism when it was quickened by moral ideas. We were living in our air organism, into which were implanted sources of light which now, after death, go forth into the cosmos together with us. In our fluid organism, tone was kindled which now becomes part of the Music of the Spheres, resounding from us into the cosmos. And we bring life with us when we pass out into the cosmos through the portal of death.
You will now begin to have an inkling of what the life that permeates the universe really is. Where are the sources of life? They lie in that which quickens those moral ideals which fire us with enthusiasm. We come to the point of saying to ourselves that if today we allow ourselves to be inspired by moral ideals, these will carry forth life, tone and light into the universe and will become world-creative. We carry out into the universe world-creative power, and the source of this power is the moral element.
So when we study the whole human being we find a bridge between moral ideals and what works as life-giving force in the physical world, even in the chemical sense. For tone works in the chemical sense by assembling substances and dispersing them again. Light in the world has its source in the moral stimuli, in the warmth organisms of human beings. Thus we look into the future — new worlds take shape. And as in the case of the plant we must go back to the seed, so in the case of these future worlds that will come into being, we must go back to the seeds which lie in us as moral ideals.
And now think of theoretical ideas in contrast to moral ideals. In the case of theoretical ideas everything is different, no matter how significant these ideas may be, for theoretical ideas produce the very opposite effect to that of moral ideals They cool down the warmth organism — that is the difference.
Moral ideas, or ideas of a moral-religious character, which fire us with enthusiasm and become impulses for deeds, work as world-creative powers. Theoretical ideas and speculations have a cooling, subduing effect upon the warmth organism. Because this is so, they also have a paralyzing effect upon the air organism and upon the source of light within it; they have a deadening effect upon tone, and an extinguishing effect upon life. In our theoretical ideas the creations of the pre-existing world come to their end. When we formulate theoretical ideas a universe dies in them. Thus do we bear within us the death of a universe and the dawn of a universe.
Here we come to the point where he who is initiated into the secrets of the universe cannot speak, as so many speak today, of the conservation of energy or the conservation of matter. It is simply not true that matter is conserved forever. Matter dies to the point of nullity, to a zero-point. In our own organism, energy dies to the point of nullity through the fact that we formulate theoretical thoughts. But if we did not do so, if the universe did not continually die in us, we should not be human in the true sense. Because the universe dies in us, we are endowed with self-consciousness and are able to think about the universe. But these thoughts are the corpse of the universe. We become conscious of the universe as a corpse only, and it is this that makes us human.
A past world dies within us, down to its very matter and energy. It is only because a new universe at once begins to dawn that we do not notice this dying of matter and its immediate rebirth. Through our theoretical thinking, matter — substantiality — is brought to its end; through our pictorial thinking, matter and cosmic energy are imbued with new life. Thus what goes on inside the boundary of the human skin is connected with the dying and birthing of worlds. This is how the moral order and the natural order are connected. The natural world dies away in man; in the realm of the moral a new natural world comes to birth.
stimulate the warmth organism.
producing in the air organism — sources of Light.
producing in the fluid organism — sources of Tone.
producing in the solid organism — seeds of Life. (etheric)
cool down the warmth organism.
paralyze the sources of Light.
deaden the sources of Tone.
Because of unwillingness to consider these things, the ideas of the imperishability of matter and energy were invented. If energy were imperishable and matter were imperishable there would be no moral world-order. But today it is desired to keep this truth concealed and modern thought has every reason to do so, because otherwise it would have to eliminate the moral world-order — which in actual fact it does by speaking of the law of the conservation of matter and energy. If matter is conserved, or energy is conserved, the moral world-order is nothing but an illusion, a mirage. We can understand the course of the world's development only if we grasp how out of this 'illusory' moral world order — for so it is when it is grasped in thoughts—new worlds come into being.
Nothing of this can be grasped if we study only the solid component of man's constitution. To understand it we must pass from the solid organism through the fluid and airy organisms to the warmth organism. Our connection with the universe can be understood only if the physical is traced upwards to that rarefied state wherein the soul can be directly active in the rarefied physical element, as for example in warmth. Then it is possible to find the connection between body and soul.
However many treatises on psychology may be written — if they are based upon what is studied today in anatomy and physiology it will not be possible to find any transition to the life of soul from this solid, or solid-fluid bodily constitution. The life of soul will not be revealed as such. But if the bodily substance is traced back to warmth, a bridge can be built from what exists in the body as warmth to what works from out of the soul into the warmth in the human organism.
There is warmth both outside and inside the human organism. As we have heard, in the human constitution warmth is an organism; the soul, the soul and spirit, takes hold of this warmth organism and by way of the warmth all that becomes active which we inwardly experience as the moral. By the ‘moral’ I do not of course mean what Philistines mean by it, but I mean the moral in its totality, that is to say, all those impulses that come to us, for example when we contemplate the majesty of the universe, when we say to ourselves: We are born out of the cosmos and we are responsible for what goes on in the world. — I mean the impulses that come to us when the knowledge yielded by Spiritual Science inspires us to work for the sake of the future. When we regard Spiritual Science itself as a source of the moral, this, more than anything else, can fill us with enthusiasm for the moral, and this enthusiasm, born of spiritual-scientific knowledge, becomes in itself a source of morality in the higher sense. But what is generally called 'moral' represents no more than a subordinate sphere of the moral in the universal sense.
All the ideas we evolve about the external world, about Nature in her finished array, are theoretical ideas. No matter with what exactitude we envisage a machine in terms of mathematics and the principles of mechanics, or the universe in the sense of the Copernican system — this is nothing but theoretical thinking, and the ideas thus formulated constitute a force of death within us; a corpse of the universe is within us in the form of thoughts, of ideas.
These matters create deeper and deeper insight into the universe in its totality. There are not two orders, a natural order and a moral order in juxtaposition, but the two are one. This is a truth that must be realized by us today. Otherwise we must ever and again be asking ourselves: How can any moral impulses take effect in a world in which a natural order alone prevails? — This indeed was the terrible problem that weighed upon thinkers in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century: How is it possible to conceive of any transition from the natural world into the moral world, from the moral world into the natural world?—The fact is that nothing can help to solve this perplexing, fateful problem except spiritual-scientific insight into Nature on the one side and into the Spirit on the other.
With the premises yielded by this knowledge we shall also be able to get to the root of something that is presented as a branch of science today and has already penetrated into the general consciousness of mankind. Our worldview today is based upon Copernicanism. Until the year 1827 the Copernican conception of the universe which was elaborated by Kepler and then diluted into theory by Newton, was tabooed by the Roman Catholic Church. No orthodox Catholic was allowed to believe it. Since that year the prohibition has been lifted and the Copernican view of the universe has taken root so strongly in the general consciousness that anyone who does not base his own worldview upon it is regarded as a fool.
What is this Copernican picture of the universe? — It is in reality a picture built up purely on the basis of mathematical principles, mathematical-mechanical principles. The rudiments of it began, very gradually, to be unfolded in Greece where, however, echoes of earlier thought — for example in the Ptolemaic view of the universe — still persisted. And in the course of time this developed into the Copernican system that is taught nowadays to every child.
We can look back from this world-conception to ancient times when the prevailing picture of the universe was very different. All that has remained of it are those traditions which in the form in which they exist today — in astrology and the like — are sheer dilettantism. That is what has remained of ancient astronomy, and it has also remained, ossified and immobilized, in the symbols of certain secret societies, Masonic societies and the like. There is usually complete ignorance of the fact that these things are relics of an ancient astronomy. This ancient astronomy was quite different from that of today, for it was based, not upon mathematical principles but upon ancient clairvoyant vision.
Entirely false ideas prevail today of how an earlier humanity acquired its astronomical-astrological knowledge. This was acquired through an instinctive-clairvoyant vision of the universe. The earliest Post-Atlantean peoples saw the heavenly bodies as spirit forms, spirit entities, whereas we today regard them merely as physical structures. When the ancient peoples spoke of the celestial bodies, of the planets or of the fixed stars, they were speaking of spiritual beings. Today, the sun is pictured as a globe of burning gas which radiates light into the universe. But for the people of ancient times the sun was a living Being and they regarded the sun, which their eyes beheld, simply as the outward manifestation of this Spirit Being at the place where the sun stands in the universe; and it was the same in regard to the other heavenly bodies — they were seen as Spirit Beings. We must think of an age which came to an end long before the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, when the sun out yonder in the universe and everything in the stars was conceived of as living spirit reality, living Being.
Then came an intermediary period when people no longer had this vision, when they regarded the planets, at any rate, as physical, but still thought of them as pervaded by living souls. In times when it was no longer known how the physical passes over by stages into what is of the soul, how what is of the soul passes over by stages into the physical, how in reality the two are united, people postulated physical existence on the one side and soul existence on the other. They thought of the correspondences between these two realms just as most psychologists today — if they admit the existence of a soul at all — still think, namely that the soul and the physical nature of the human being are identical. This, of course, leads thought to absurdity; or there is the so-called ‘psycho-physical parallelism’, which again is nothing else than a stupid way of formulating something that is not understood.
Then came the age when the heavenly bodies were regarded as physical structures, circling or stationary, attracting or repelling one another in accordance with mathematical laws. To be sure, in every epoch there existed a knowledge — in earlier times a more instinctive knowledge — of how things are in reality. But in the present age this instinctive knowledge no longer suffices; what in earlier times was known instinctively must now be acquired by conscious effort. And if we inquire how those who were able to view the universe in its totality — that is to say, in its physical, psychical and spiritual aspects — if we inquire how these people pictured the sun, we must say: They pictured it first and foremost as a Spirit-Being. Those who were initiated conceived of this Spirit-Being as the source of the moral. In my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity I have said that 'moral intuitions' are drawn from this source — but drawn from it in the earthly world, for the moral intuitions shine forth from us, from what can live in us as enthusiasm for the moral.
Think of how greatly our responsibility is increased when we realize: If here on the earth there were no soul capable of being fired with enthusiasm for true and genuine morality, for the spiritual moral order in general, nothing could be contributed towards the progress of our world, towards a new creation; our world would be led towards its death.
This force of light that is on the earth (diagram VII) rays out into the universe. This is, to begin with, imperceptible to ordinary vision; we do not perceive how human moral impulses ray out from the earth into the universe. If a grievous age were to dawn over the earth, an age when millions and millions of people would perish through lack of spirituality — spirituality conceived of here as including the moral, which indeed it does — if there were only a dozen people filled with moral enthusiasm, the earth would still ray out a spiritual, sun-like force! This force rays out only to a certain distance. At this point it mirrors itself, as it were, in itself, so that here (diagram VIII) there arises the reflection of what radiates from humans. And in every epoch the initiates regarded this reflection as the sun. For as I have so often said, there is nothing physical here. Where ordinary astronomy speaks of the existence of an incandescent globe of gas, there is merely the reflection of a spiritual reality in physical appearance.
You see, therefore, how great is the distance separating the Copernican view of the world, and even the old astrology, from what was the inmost secret of Initiation. The best illustration of these things is provided by the fact that in an epoch when great power was vested in the hands of groups of people, who, as they declared, considered that such truths were dangerous for the masses and did not wish them to be communicated, one who was an idealist — the Emperor Julian (called for this reason ‘the Apostate’) — wanted to impart these truths to the world and was then brought to his death by cunning means. There are reasons which induce certain occult societies to withhold vital secrets of world-existence, because by so doing they are able to wield a certain power. If in the days of the Emperor Julian certain occult societies guarded their secrets so strictly that they acquiesced in his murder, it need not surprise us if those who are the custodians of certain secrets today do not reveal them but want to withhold them from the masses in order to enhance their power — it need not surprise us if such people hate to realize that at least the beginnings of such secrets are being unveiled. And now you will understand some of the deeper reasons for the bitter hatred that is leveled against Spiritual Science, against what Spiritual Science feels it a duty to bring to mankind at the present time. But we are living in an age when either earthly civilization will be doomed to perish, or certain secrets will be restored to mankind — truths which hitherto have in a certain way been guarded as secrets, which were once revealed to people through instinctive clairvoyance but must now be reacquired by fully conscious vision, not only of the physical but also of the spiritual that is within the physical.
What was the real aim of Julian the Apostate? — He wished to make clear to the people: You are becoming more and more accustomed to look only at the physical sun; but there is a spiritual Sun of which the physical sun is only the mirror-image! In his own way he wished to communicate the Christ-Secret to the world. But in our age it is desired that the connection of Christ, the spiritual Sun, with the physical sun, shall be kept hidden. That is why certain authorities rage most violently of all when we speak of the Christ Mystery in connection with the Sun Mystery. All kinds of calumnies are then spread abroad. — But Spiritual Science is assuredly a matter of importance in the present age, and those alone who regard it as such view it with the earnestness that is its due.
1. The law propounded by Julius Robert Mayer (1814–1878).
2. Particularly by Aristarchos of Samos, the Greek astronomer, circa 250 B.C.