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Cosmosophy I
GA 207

Lecture IV

1 October 1921, Dornach

We saw yesterday how the human being in his consciousness approaches the world from two sides, as it were: when he is active from within and when he is active from without. The ordinary consciousness, however, is not able to grasp what lives within the human being, because consciousness strikes up against it. We have seen, moreover, how karma also lives in man from two sides between birth and death. On the one hand there is the moment of awaking when man plunges into his etheric body, where, while he is submerged, he can have the reminiscence of dreams in ordinary consciousness. Then he passes, as it were, the space between the etheric body and the physical body—he is in the physical body only when he has full sense perception—and there he passes through the region of the living thoughts active within him. These are the same thoughts that actually have taken part in building up his organism and that he has brought with him through birth into existence; they represent, in other words, his completed karma. On falling asleep, however, man strikes up against that which cannot become deed. What enters into deeds as our impulses of will and feeling is lived out during our lifetime. Something is always left behind, however, and this is taken by the human being into his sleep. Yet it is also present at other times. Everything in the soul life that does not pass into deed, that stops short, as it were, before the deed, is future karma, which is forming itself and which we can carry further through death.

Yesterday I sought to indicate briefly how the forces of karma live in the human being. Today we will consider something of the human environment to show how the human being actually stands within the world, in order to be able to give all this a sort of conclusion tomorrow. We tried yesterday to examine objectively the human soul life itself, and we found that thinking develops itself in that region which is in fact the objective thought region between the physical body and the etheric body. We also found that feeling develops itself between the etheric and astral bodies, and willing develops itself between the astral body and the I or ego. The actual activity of the soul thus develops itself in the spaces between—I said yesterday that this expression is not exact, yet it is comprehensible—the spaces that we must suppose are between the four members of human nature, between the physical body, etheric body, astral body, and I. If we wish to view the spaces between objectively, they are the interactions among the members of the human being.

Today we wish to look at something of the human environment. Let us bring to mind clearly how the human being is in a fully living dream life, how he has pictures sweeping through the dream life. I explained yesterday that the Imaginative consciousness can perceive how these pictures descend into the organization and how what works in these pictures brings about our feelings. Our feelings are therefore what actually would be grasped if one were to look more deeply into man's inner being as an approach to dream pictures. Feelings are the waves that mount up from the day's dream life into our consciousness. We dream continuously, as I said yesterday, beneath the surface of the conceptual life, and this dream life lives itself out in feelings.

If we now look into the environment of the human being and consider first the animal world, we find in the animal world a consciousness that does not rise to thinking, to a life of thought, but that is developed actually in a sort of living dream life. We can form a picture of what reveals itself in the soul life of the animal through a study of our own dream life. The soul life of the animal is entirely a dreaming. The animal's soul life thus is much more actively at work on the organism than the soul life of man, which is more free of the organism through the clarity of the conceptual life. The animal actually dreams. Just as our dream pictures, those dream pictures that we form during waking consciousness, stream upward as feelings, so is the soul life of the animal based mainly on feeling. The animal actually does not have a soul life penetrated by the clear light of thought. What therefore takes place in us between the etheric body and the astral body is essentially what is taking place in the animal. It forms the animal's soul life, and we can understand animal life if we can picture it as proceeding from the soul life.

It is important to form a certain image of these relationships, for then one will comprehend what actually takes place when, let us say, the animal is digesting. Just watch a herd lying in a field digesting. The whole mood of the creatures reveals the truth of what has come to light through spiritual research, namely, that the aroused activity taking place essentially between the etheric body and astral body of the animal presses upward in a living feeling and that the creature lives in this feeling. The animal experience consists essentially of an enhancement and a diminishing of this feeling, and, when the feeling is somewhat subdued, of a participation in its dream pictures, the picture taking the place of feeling. We can say, therefore, that the animal lives in a consciousness that is similar to our dream consciousness.

If we seek for the consciousness that we ourselves have as human beings here on earth, we cannot look for it within the animal; we must seek it in beings who do not come to immediate physical existence. These we call the animal species-souls, souls that as such have no physical, bodily nature but that live themselves out through the animals. We can say that all lions together have such a species-soul, which has a spiritual existence. It has a consciousness such as we human beings have, not like that of the single animal.

If we now descend to the plant world we find there not the same sort of consciousness as an animal's but a consciousness similar to the one we have between sleeping and awaking. The plant is a sleeping being. We also, however, develop this consciousness between the astral body and the I in willing. What is active in the plant world is of essentially the same nature as what lives in our willing. In our willing we actually sleep even when we are awake. The same activity that prevails in our willing actually prevails over the whole plant world. The consciousness that we develop as sleep consciousness is something that actually continues as an unconscious element inserted into our conscious element, forming gaps in our memory, as I described yesterday. Our consciousness is dull during sleep, however, indeed altogether extinguished for most people, just as is the case in plant consciousness.

If we then look in plant life for what corresponds to animal life, we cannot seek it in the individual plant but must seek it in the whole earth-soul. The whole earth-soul has a dreaming consciousness and sleeps itself into the plant consciousness. Only insofar as the earth takes part in cosmic becoming does it flicker up in such a way that it can develop a full consciousness such as we human beings have in the waking state between birth and death. This is chiefly the case, however, in the time of winter, when there is a kind of waking of the earth, whereas the dull dream consciousness exists during the warm time, in summer. I have often explained in earlier lectures that it is entirely wrong to conclude that the earth awakes in summer and sleeps in winter. The reverse is true. In the stirring vegetative activity that develops during the summer, during the warm time of the year, the earth exists in a sleeping, or rather in a dreaming, state, while the waking state exists in the cold time of the year.

If we now descend to the mineral realm we must admit that the consciousness there is still deeper than that of our sleep, a consciousness that indeed lies far from our ordinary human experience, going out even beyond our willing. Nevertheless, what lives in the mineral as a state of consciousness lies far from us only apparently, only for the ordinary consciousness. In reality it does not lie far from us at all. When, for instance, we pass from willing to real action, when we perform some action, then our willing cuts itself off from us. That within which we then swim, as it were, that within which we weave and live in carrying out the deed (which, in fact, we only picture [vorstellen]—our consciousness does not penetrate the action, we only picture it) but what penetrates the deed itself, the content of the deed, is ultimately the same as what penetrates the other side of the surface of the mineral in mineral nature and that constitutes the mineral consciousness. If we could sink still deeper into unconsciousness we would actually come to where the mineral consciousness is weaving. We would find ourselves, however, in the same condition as that in which our action itself is also accomplished. The mineral consciousness thus lies for us on the other side of what we as human beings are able to experience. Our own deed, however, also lies on the other side of what we human beings can experience. Insofar, therefore, as our deed does not depend on us, does not lie in the sphere of what is encompassed within our freedom, our deed is just as much an event of the world as what takes place in the mineral kingdom. We incorporate our deed into this event and thus actually carry man's relation to his environment to the point where man with his action even comes over to the other side of his sleeping consciousness.

In becoming aware of the mineral world around him and seeing the minerals from the outside, the human being hits upon what lies beyond his experience. We could say that if this (see drawing) represents the circumference of what we see within the human realm, the animal realm, and the plant realm, and then we come here to the mineral realm, the mineral realm shows us only its outer side in its working upon our senses. On the other side, however, where we can no longer enter, the mineral realm develops—turned away from us, as it were—its consciousness (red). It is the consciousness that is developed there that is received from the inner contents of our deeds, that can work further in the course of our karma.

Now let us pass on to the beings who do not stand beneath the human being in the ranks of the realms of nature but who stand above the human being. How can we receive a certain mental image of these beings; how, for the consciousness that we must establish through spiritual research, through anthroposophy, can a mental image of such higher beings be formed? You know from the presentation in my book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment, and from lectures I have given on the subject that we can ascend from the day consciousness, which we call the objective consciousness, to Imaginative consciousness. If we ascend to Imaginative consciousness in a healthy way, we first become free of our bodily nature. We weave in the ether life. Our mental images will thereby cease to have sharp contours, they will be Imaginations flowing into one another. Moreover, they will resemble the thought life that I characterized yesterday and that we find on awaking between the etheric body and the physical body. We become accustomed to such a thought life. In this thought life to which we become accustomed in Imagination, we do not link one thought to another in free will; rather, the thoughts link themselves to one another. It is a thought organism, a pictorial thought organism to which we grow accustomed. This pictorial thought organism possesses, however, the force of life. It presents itself to us as being of thought substance, but also as actually living. It has a life of its own: not the individual life possessed by physical, earthly things but a life that fundamentally lives and weaves through all things. We live into a world that lives in imagining, whose activity is imagining.

This is the world that is first experienced above the human being, this weaving world, this self-imagining world. What is woven in us between our etheric and physical bodies, which we can find on awaking and know to be identical with what enters through conception and birth into this physical world from the spiritual world, this we find only as a fragment, as something cut out of this weaving, self-imagining world. That world which is the self-imagining world finally dismisses us, and then it works still further after our birth in our physical body. There a weaving of thought takes place that is unrelated to our own subjective thought-weaving. This weaving of thought takes place in our growth. This weaving of thought is active as well in our nourishment. This weaving of thought is formed out of the universal thought-weaving of the cosmos.

We cannot understand our etheric body without understanding that we have this universal thought-weaving of the world (see drawing, bright) and that our etheric body (red) is woven, as it were, out of this thought-weaving of the world through our birth. The thought-weaving of the world weaves into us, forms the forces that underlie our etheric body and that actually manifest themselves in the space between etheric body and physical body. They are drawn in, as it were, through the physical body, separated from the outer world, and then they work in us with the help of the etheric body, the actual body of formative forces.

We thus can picture what is behind our world. The cognition next to ours is the Imaginative, and the next state of being that is in our environment is the self-imagining one, expressing itself in living pictures. Such an expression in living pictures underlies our own organization. In our etheric body we are entirely formed and fashioned out of the cosmos. As we have to ascribe to the animal in the realm below us a consciousness like our dreaming consciousness, so in rising upward we find what we then have subjectively in Imagination. What we cultivate inwardly as a web of Imaginations exists for us outwardly; we behold it, as it were, from outside. We imagine from within. The beings just above man imagine themselves from without, revealing themselves through Imagination driven outward, and we ourselves are formed out of this world through such an Imagination driven outward. Thus in fact a weaving of thoughts, a weaving of picture-thoughts, underlies our world, and when we seek the spiritual world we find a weaving of picture-thoughts.

You know that in the development of our cognitional capacities the next stage is the stage of Inspiration. We can experience Imagination from within as a process of cognition. The next world beyond the world of self-imagining, however, is one that weaves and lives in the same element we hit upon with Inspiration, only for this world it is an “exspiration,” a spreading out of oneself, as it were. We inspire ourselves with knowing. What the next world does, however, is to “exspire” itself; it drives outward what we drive inward in Inspired cognition.

By beholding from the reverse side what we experience inwardly as Inspiration, we thus arrive at the objectivity of the next higher beings, and so it is also with Intuition, with Intuitive cognition. I must first say, however, that if as human beings we were merely spun out of the thought-weaving of the world, we would not bring with us into this life the element of our soul that has gone through the life between the last death and this birth. What is spun out of the universal thought-weaving of the world has been assigned to us by the cosmos. Now, however, the soul element must enter it. The entry of the soul element is through such an activity of “exspiration,” through an activity that is the reverse of Inspiration. We are thus “exspired” from the soul-spiritual world. Inasmuch as the cosmos weaves around us with its thought-weaving, the soul-spiritual world permeates us in “exspiring” with the soul element. First, however, it must receive this soul element, and here we come to something that can be comprehended correctly only through the human being.

You see, as human beings living in the world between birth and death we continuously receive impressions of the outer world through our sense perceptions. We form mental images about these and permeate our mental images with our feelings. We pass over to our will impulses and permeate all these. This forms in us at first, however, a kind of abstract life, a kind of picture life. If you look from within, as it were, at what the sense organs have formed inwardly as soul experience of the outer world, you find, in fact, the content of your soul. It is the soul content of the human being that in the higher waking consciousness presents what the outer world gives him between birth and death. His inner being receives it, as it were. If I sketch this inner being, in perception the world as it were enters (see next below, red), becomes inwardly penetrated by the forces of feeling and will, and presses itself into the human organism. We actually bear within us a view of the world, but we bear this view of the world through the effects, the impressions, of the world pressing into us. We are not able to understand fully in our ordinary consciousness the destiny of what actually goes on in us with these impressions of the world. What presses into us and—within certain limits—what is a picture of the cosmos is not only permeated by feelings and inner will impulses, which enter us in consciousness, but is pulsed through by all that otherwise,lives within the human being. In this way it acquires a certain tendency. For as long as we live, right up until death, it is held together by the body. In penetrating the portal of death, it takes with it from the body what one can call a wish to continue what it became in the body, a wish to accept the being of man. When we carry our inner soul life through death it acquires the wish to accept the being of man.

That is what our soul life bears through death: the longing for the being of man. And this longing for the being of man is particularly strongly expressed in all that is dreaming and sleeping in the depths of our soul life, in our will. Our will, as it incorporates itself into the soul life, which arises out of the impressions of the outer world, bears within it as it goes through death into a spiritual world, into the weavings of a spiritual world, the deepest longing to become man.

Our thought world, on the other hand, that world which can be seen in our memories, for example, which is reflected from us ourselves into our consciousness, bears within it the opposite longing. It has indeed formed a relationship with our human nature. Our thoughts have a strong relationship to our human nature. They then bear in themselves, when they go through death, the most intense longing to spread out into the world—to become world (see 1st diagram this lecture).

We therefore can say that as human beings going through death our thoughts bear within them the longing to become world. The will, on the other hand, which we have developed in life, bears within it the longing to become man.

Thoughts: Longing to become world.
Will: Longing to be come man.

This is what goes with us through death. All that rules as will in the depths of our being bears in its deepest inner being the longings to become man. One can perceive this with Imaginative consciousness if one observes the sleeping human being, whose will is outside him, whose will with the I is outside him. In what is to be found outside the human body, the longing is already clearly expressed to return, to awake again, in order to take human shape within the extension of the human physical body itself. This longing, however, remains beyond death. Whatever is of a will nature desires to become man, whereas whatever is of a thought nature and must unite with the thoughts that are so near to the physical life, with the thoughts that actually form our human tissue and bear our human configuration between birth and death—that acquires the longing to be dispersed again, to disintegrate, to become world. This lasts until approximately the middle of the time that we spend between death and a new birth.

The thought element in its longing to become world then has come, as it were, to an end. It has incorporated itself into the entire cosmos. The longing to become world is achieved, and a reversal comes about. Midway between death and a new birth this longing of the thoughts to become world slowly changes into the longing to become man again, again to interweave itself so as to become the thought-web that we can perceive next to the body when we awake. We can say, therefore, that in the moment that lies midway between death and a new birth—which I called the Midnight Hour of Existence in my Mystery Dramas—we have a rhythmic reversal from the longing of our thoughts to become world, now that it has been fulfilled, into the longing to become man again, gradually to descend in order to become man again.

In the same moment that the thoughts receive the longing to become man again, the reverse appears in the will. The will at first develops the longing to become man in the spiritual element where we live between death and a new birth. It is this longing that predominantly fills the will. Out there between death and a new birth the will has experienced a spiritual image of the human being; now there arises in it the most vivid longing again to become world. The will spreads out, as it were; it becomes world, it becomes cosmos. By reason of this spreading out it extends even to the vicinity of the stream of nature that is formed through the line of heredity in the succession of generations. What works as will in the spiritual-physical cosmos and begins in the Midnight Hour of Existence to have the longing again to become world already lives in the flow of generations. When we then embody ourselves in the other stream that has the longing to become man, the will has preceded us in becoming world. It lives already in the propagation of the generations into which we then descend. In what we receive from our ancestors the will already lives, the will that wished to become world after the Midnight Hour of Existence. Through what in our thoughts has desired since the Midnight Hour of Existence to become man, we Meet with this will-desiring-to-become-world, which then incorporates itself into what we receive from our ancestors.

Thoughts: Longing to become world—longing to become man.

Will: Longing to become man—longing to become world.

You see, therefore, that when we thus follow with spiritual vision what lives on the one hand in the physical and what lives on the other hand in the spiritual, we really picture man's becoming. Since we incline downward to our physical existence through the thought-web that longs to become man, however, we are there related to all the beings who live in the sphere just above man, beings who imagine themselves. We pass through the sphere of the beings who, as it were, imagine themselves. At the very moment when this reversal takes place, our soul, permeated with the I, also finds the possibility of living on in the two streams. They diverge, it is true, but the soul lives with them, cosmically lives, until, when the longing to become man again has been fully realized, it incarnates and becomes indeed an individual human being. The life of the soul is very complex, and here in the Midnight Hour of Existence it passes over the abyss. It is inspired, breathed in, out of our own past, that past at first lying between our last death and the Midnight Hour of Existence. We pass this Midnight Hour of Existence through an activity that resembles, experienced inwardly, an inspiring, and that outwardly is an “exspiration,” proceeding from the former existence. When the soul has passed the Midnight Hour of Existence we come together with those beings who stand at the second stage above man and who live, as I have said, in “exspiration.”

The third stage in higher cognition is Intuitive cognition. If we experience it from within, we have experienced it from one side; if we experience it from without then we have an intuiting, a self-surrender, a true surrender of self. This self-surrender, this flowing forth into the outer world, is the nature of the hierarchy that stands at, the third stage above man, the “intuiting.” This intuiting is the activity through which the content of our former earthly life is surrendered to our present one, streams over, pours itself into our present life on earth. We exercise this activity continually, both on the way to the Midnight Hour of Existence and beyond it. This activity permeates all else, and through it, in going through repeated earthly lives, we participate in that world in which are the beings living in real Intuition, the self-surrendering beings. We, too, out of our former earthly life, surrender ourselves to the earthly existence that follows.

We can thus gain a picture of the course of our life between death and a new birth in the environment of these three worlds. Just as here between birth and death we live in the environment of the animal, plant, and mineral worlds, so between death and rebirth we live in that world where what we otherwise grasp in Imagination lives in pictures formed from without. Hence what we carry out of the spiritual cosmos into our bodily form we can also grasp through Imagination. Our soul element, which we carry through the Midnight Hour of Existence, which lives in us principally as the activity of feeling, though dulled into the dreamlike, we can grasp through Inspired cognition, and this is also, when it appears as our life of feeling, permeated by such beings.

In fact, we live fully as human beings only in our outer sense perception. As soon as we advance to thinking, something is objective for this thinking, which is given for Imagination in picture form. We raise into our consciousness only the abstract thoughts out of the picture-forming. Immediately behind our consciousness there lies the picture-weaving of thoughts. As human beings between birth and death, we come to freedom through the fact that we can raise the abstract thoughts out of this picture-weaving. The world of Imaginative necessity lies behind, and there we are no longer alone in the same way as we are here. There we are interwoven with beings revealing themselves through Imagination, as we are then in our feeling nature interwoven with beings revealing themselves through “exspiration,” through inspiring turned outward. In going from earthly life to earthly life we are interwoven with those beings who live by Intuition.

Our human life thus reaches downward into the three realms of nature and reaches upward into the three realms of the divine, soul-spiritual existence. This shows us that in our view of the human being here we have only man's outer side. The moment we look at his inner being he continues toward the higher worlds, he betrays to us, reveals to us his relationship to the higher worlds. We live into these worlds through Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition.

With this we have gained some insight into the human environment. At the same time, however, we have discovered the world that stands as a world of spiritual necessities behind the world of physical necessities. We learn then to appreciate all the more what lies in the center: the world of our ordinary consciousness, through which we pass in the waking condition between birth and death. There we incorporate into our actual human nature what can live in freedom. Below us and above us there is no freedom. We bear freedom through the portal of death by taking with us the most essential content of the consciousness that we possess between birth and death. Indeed, the human being owes to earthly existence the mastery over what in him is the life of freedom. Then, at all events, it can no longer be taken from him, if he has mastered it by passing through life between birth and death. It can no longer be taken from him if he carries this life into the world of spiritual necessities. This earthly life receives its deep meaning precisely by our being able to insert it between what lies below us and above us. We thus rise to a grasp of what can be understood as the spiritual in the human being.

If we wish to know about the soul element, we must look into the spaces between physical body, etheric body, astral body, and I; we must look into what is weaving there between the members of our being. If we wish to acquaint ourselves with man as a spiritual being, we must ask what man experiences with the beings who imagine themselves, with the beings who reveal themselves outwardly through Inspiration, or actually through “exspiration,” with the beings who reveal themselves through Intuition. If we therefore wish to examine the life of the soul we must look for the interaction developed among our human members, and if we wish to study man as a spiritual being we must look for the intercourse with the beings of the hierarchies.

When we look down into nature and wish to view the human being in his entirety, then this human being unveils itself to spiritual vision the moment we can say from inner knowledge: the human being, as he is today, bears in himself physical body, etheric body, astral body, and I. One thus has learned to recognize what man is within nature. Now we become aware—at first in a subjective way through inner experience—of the weaving of the soul. We do not behold it, we stand within it. In rising to a view of the soul we must search between the members that we have discovered as the members of man's being in natural existence. What these members do with one another from within unveils itself for us as the objective view of the soul's life.

Then, however, we must go further and must now not only seek the members of man and the effect of these members upon one another, but we must take the whole human being and see him in interaction with what lives in the widest circumference of the perceptible world environment, below him and above him. Then we discover what lives beneath him, as though sleeping in relation to what is above him, and what proves itself to be the actual spirituality of the human being—spirituality as experience of our activity with the beings of the higher hierarchies. What is experienced above as the actual spirituality and what is experienced below in nature is experienced as an alternation, a rhythmic alternation between waking and sleeping. If we go from the human consciousness, which is the waking consciousness, down to the animal consciousness, which is the dreaming consciousness, down to the plant realm, the sleeping consciousness, and if we go still deeper, we find what is deeper than sleep; if we go upward we first find Imagination as reality fulfilled. Therefore there is a further awakening in relation to our ordinary consciousness, a still further awakening with the higher beings through Inspiration and a fully awakened condition in Intuition, a condition of such awakeness that it is a surrendering to the world.

Now I beg you to follow this diagram, which is of the greatest significance for understanding the world and man. Take this as the central point, as it were, of ordinary human consciousness. It first descends and finds the animal's dreaming consciousness; it descends further and finds the plant's sleeping consciousness; it descends further and finds the mineral's deeply sleeping consciousness.

Now, however, the human being rises above himself and finds the beings who reveal themselves in Imaginations; he goes further upward and finds the beings who reveal themselves in Inspirations, actually through an “exspirating” being; he finally finds the beings who reveal themselves through Intuition, who pour themselves out.

Where do they pour themselves? The highest consciousness pours itself into the deeply sleeping consciousness of the mineral realm. The mineral realm spread around us reveals one side to us. If you approached this one side and were really able to penetrate it—though not by splintering it into atoms—on the other side you would find, raying in from the opposite direction, that which, in Intuitive consciousness, streams into the deeply sleeping consciousness of the mineral realm. This process that we can fmd there in space we, as human beings, go through in time in our evolution through different earthly lives.

We will speak further about these relationships tomorrow.