17 November 1923, The Hague
My dear Friends,
We tried in the first lecture of this Course to form some idea of the way in which man, here on Earth, is related to Beings and forces belonging to worlds beyond the Earth. Then, in the second lecture we spoke of the life of the human being in the super-sensible world between death and a new birth. In the present lecture I want to follow this up a little further. As our study proceeds, we shall find that a complete and inwardly harmonious picture will rise up before us.
We have seen that when a human being has passed through the gate of death and come into the super-sensible world, he reveals himself there to Imaginative vision in a spirit-form. You must understand, of course, that perception of the spiritual is quite different from perception of an object in the world of sense. For instance, those who are endowed with the faculty of spiritual vision will say: “Yes, I saw the phenomenon, but I could not tell you anything about the size of it.” The phenomena of the spiritual world are not spatial in the sense that a material object presented to the eye is spatial. Nevertheless, we can only describe them in such a way that they seem to resemble a visual image seen by the physical eye — or whatever other sense-impression we make use of in our description. You must bear this in mind in connection with all the descriptions I shall now be giving of what takes place in the super-sensible.
When a human being has passed through the gate of death, the spirit-form, of his head gradually fades away. On the other hand, the whole of the rest of his form becomes “physiognomy,” a physiognomy which expresses, for instance, how far the man was, in earthly life, a good man or a bad man, a wise man or a fool. These qualities can remain hidden in the material world; an out-and-out villain can walk about with an absolutely innocent face. But when the gate of death has been passed, they can no longer be concealed. There is no doing it with the face, for the face fades right away; and the rest of the form, which grows more and more like a physiognomy, allows nothing to be hid. We have, moreover, to remember that when a human being passes into the spiritual world, his whole relation to the universe changes. The faculty of thinking, especially that abstract thinking by which men set so much store on Earth, is by no means prized yonder in the spiritual world. No value is attached in the spiritual world to the faculty of which the head is the instrument; it is quite useless there. We have to leave behind us the thinking of which we are so proud and by means of which we evolve thoughts about the phenomena of the material world. It is only on Earth that there are philosophers! The kind of philosophy that consists in abstract thinking must be left behind. The further we pass out into the spiritual, super-sensible world, the more does our life of soul become a beholding, a perceiving. The thoughts which are in the objects come to us with the very act of perception. Here on Earth we evolve the thoughts; yonder in the spiritual world the thoughts are revealed by the things themselves; the thoughts come to us. Thought is achieved by means of perception. Nor is this true only of thought. Everything man has to undergo comes to him, in the spiritual world, in perception.
We have around us in the world of sense-perception certain phenomena which help us to describe the spiritual world in which man lives between death and a new birth. We look up to the stars. What the stars and planets of our system reveal to sense-perception on Earth is merely their outward aspect. In their inner reality they are something quite different; they are hosts of Spiritual Beings who have gathered together in diverse ways at the places where the stars appear in the heavens. When we look at a star with our physical eyes — what it really means is that there, in that particular direction, is a colony of Spiritual Beings in the Cosmos. The physical star we see merely gives us the direction; it is, if you like, a kind of signpost. Descriptions of the stars as given by physical science are of quite secondary importance, for physical science is dealing with what are no more than signs to indicate direction. The fact that somewhere in the sky we see a star means that in that direction there is a colony of Spiritual Beings.
The first sphere into which the human being passes after death is the sphere of the Moon; that is to say, he enters the region of the Spiritual Beings who have their dwelling-place in the Moon. What kind of Beings are these?
From what has been said in my book Occult Science, you will know that the Moon was not always out in the heavens where it is now. As a matter of fact, there are many strange things to be observed about the Moon. It is curious, for instance, that in ordinary text-books and school-books no mention is made, as a rule, of the fact that every year the Moon is coming nearer to the Earth. Most people are not aware of this, because they do not find it in the text-books; it is true, nevertheless. The Moon was not always out there in the Cosmos; there was a time when the Moon and its substance were within the Earth. The Moon then separated from the Earth and passed out into the Cosmos. It is therefore only in the course of Earth evolution that the Moon has become a dwelling place in itself for Spiritual Beings. And for what kind of Spiritual Beings?
In my books and lectures I have often spoken of the great primeval Teachers who lived among men in very ancient times of Earth evolution. When we look back with real understanding to ancient times, we cannot but be filled with deep inner reverence for the marvellous wisdom that was given long since to men on Earth by these great, superhuman Teachers. For the first Teachers of the human race on Earth were not themselves human; they were Beings standing higher in the scale of evolution than man, and in the Mysteries they appeared not in physical but in ether bodies — which, since then, they have for the most part laid aside, for they are now in astral bodies. These primeval Teachers left the Earth and passed out into the Cosmos — to the Moon. The heavenly body we know as the Moon is therefore the colony, out in the Cosmos, of the primeval Teachers of mankind. There they have their dwelling, in the Moon. To crude perception the outer aspect of the Moon reflects merely the light of the Sun. But for a finer perception the Moon mirrors a vast number of cosmic forces. And what is reflected thence to the Earth from the forces of the Cosmos is connected with all that is sub-human in man — with what man has to-day in common with animal nature. We find, therefore, in the Moon these high Spiritual Beings who were once the primeval Teachers of mankind, and at the same time, together with them, the animal forces of man's nature.
This is the first region the human being enters when he has passed through the gate of death; here his first experiences are undergone. Try to form a living picture of how, with his moral — or immoral — physiognomy, a human being comes into the region of the physical and spiritual radiations of the Moon and how, to begin with, he sees himself and other human beings each with his physiognomy. He does not see with physical eyes; he becomes aware of the others through a kind of “feeling” perception — almost a kind of touching, but touching from a distance. Let me try to describe it to you in the following way. A human being comes into the vicinity of another being in this region. He has his physiognomy which is mobile in itself — as it were, soft and pliable. He draws near to the other being, and at once tries to give himself a physiognomy similar to that revealed by the other being. But if a man who was an out-and- out villain in earthly life and has now passed through the gate of death were to attempt to do this in the proximity of one who has been a saintly man, in order that he might perceive and feel what the saintly man is in his physiognomy, he would not find it possible. Despite all his efforts he would continue to give himself the physiognomy of a villain. He can do no otherwise. You will realise from this that for a certain period of time after death a man is only capable of seeing other human beings who in respect of their moral qualities were of like nature with himself in Earthly life. This is the first impression that is experienced by the human being, the first of many powerful impressions that are at the same time like so many judgements passed upon him. For man really feels the experience as a dispensation of strict justice. He stands there under the constant impression: As those others are, so are you yourself; you can move only among human beings who are like yourself! It is so, indeed. Man does not see those who are different from himself; to begin with, he simply cannot see them.
Now the particular forces which are contained in this Moon environment do not permit of the Angels drawing near to man. The Angels — in their lovely form — cannot, to begin with, come into the neighbourhood of the human being. For the Moon is the heavenly body of which the Earth has rid herself; she has, as it were, put it out into the Cosmos. It is true that with the Moon have gone also, as we saw, the holy Teachers and Sages; but there are present, in addition, in its vicinity Ahrimanic Beings. Ahrimanic forms are to be seen there. And so it comes about that when a man sees other human beings in physiognomies that are the reverse of good, and has the impression that he is seeing himself along with them, then he and they seem, to his despair, to resemble the Ahrimanic forms that appear in this region. The Angels are hidden from his sight because they have forms into which he cannot yet find his way again. He sees other human beings in forms that are all differing expressions of evil, and he notes the resemblance of these to the Ahrimanic forms. This, then, is the second impression which comes to man in the Moon sphere: You yourself resemble the Ahrimanic forms! Once again is a stern judgement passed upon man after death.
The third experience makes an impression which never leaves the human being. It begins with the realisation that in the first region through which he has to pass are the wise and holy primeval Teachers of early humanity. But now he cannot help feeling that a mysterious connection exists between the Ahrimanic beings with whom he comes in contact in the way described, and these primeval Teachers of mankind. From the human point of view it is of course quite understandable that men will judge such things as I am telling you in the attitude of the famous King of Spain who was once shown a map of the stars and their movements and the whole solar system and, finding it very difficult to grasp, said that if God had left him to create the Universe he would have made it much simpler, it was all far too complicated! It is not to be wondered at that numbers of people think very much the same and are for ever wanting to correct something in the Divine Plan of the Universe. Human beings have, as you know, infinite faith in their own power of insight. There was actually a philosopher who said: “Give me matter, and I will make a universe.” That philosopher was Kant. It is a good thing he was not given matter, for he would have made something perfectly horrible out of it!
So, too, when people hear about Ahrimanic beings, they cannot understand why these beings have not long ago given up all hope of gaining the victory over the Earth Spirits. Human beings know quite well that the ultimate victory will not be with the Ahrimanic beings. But Ahriman does not know it! He strives unceasingly for victory. And out of this striving for victory there arises a strange and remarkable connection between those Ahrimanic beings who belong chiefly to the Moon sphere and the wise, primeval Teachers of mankind. Let me put it in this way. The Ahrimanic beings are continually trying, in their sinister way, to flatter and cajole these primeval Teachers, they would so much like to win them over to their side! For what is it these Ahrimanic beings are trying to achieve? They would like to hold the Earth fast at a certain point in its development and not allow it to make any further progress. It is Ahriman who is constantly saying: “The evolution of human beings has reached a certain point, and now it must come to a standstill; they must not evolve any further. I have resolved that human beings shall harden at this point and continue their further journey in the Cosmos as hardened, rigidified beings — not as beings involved in a progressive evolution.” This is what is whispered every night into the ears of men by the Ahrimanic beings. And it is what the Ahrimanic beings desire in regard also to the Earth itself; they want to hold it fast at a given point in its evolution.
And now think of the great primeval Teachers of man. It was they who left behind them on Earth what we know as the ancient, primordial Wisdom. This ancient Wisdom has grown dim in the course of the ages and is no longer understood. Once upon a time, in the old Mystery-sanctuaries, it was taught to men; but that could not continue. For if human beings had gone on receiving this Wisdom, they would not have made progress. Above all, they would not have attained to freedom, to free inner spiritual activity; they would not have acquired free will. The wisdom was by its very nature able to speak only to the instincts of men, not to clear, self-conscious deliberation. It was thus for the well-being of humanity that at a certain moment these great Teachers should withdraw. If they had never lived on Earth man would have been without an initial impetus for his evolution. But when they had once given the impetus which enabled him henceforth to continue his evolution independently, they withdrew from the Earth and went to the Colony of the Moon. As long as the primeval Teachers were still upon Earth, the Ahrimanic beings did their utmost to keep them there in order that the instinctive Wisdom should remain as it was. Even to-day, when a man has passed through the gate of death and come into the Moon sphere, they think they can still do something; and so they try again and again to cajole and persuade these primeval Teachers to approach the dead. They cannot achieve their end, least of all in the case of those human beings who wear a physiognomy of evil. None the less, the Ahrimanic beings continue to draw near to the souls of human beings in the Moon sphere and goad them on by pointing to the great primeval Wisdom and saying: “That was once all there for you!” Human beings who wear features of evil have, therefore, now to pass through a third experience. The Ahrimanic beings speak to them of the primeval Teachers of mankind. But they, with their nature, cannot see these Teachers. They gaze into an empty void.
This experience makes a profound and lasting impression. Once again man feels that a judgement has been passed upon him. For the thought lies heavy on his soul: “Those who gave the human race its first impulse are hidden from me; I cannot see them, I am spurned and rejected.” Powerful and acute is the experience that comes thus to human beings who do not show a physiognomy expressive of the good.
These are the three impressions which must needs come to man when, with a physiognomy of evil, he passes over into the world that lies beyond the gate of death. And it must of course be remembered, that no human being is wholly good; in the very best of men there is, after all, a great deal that is bad. Hence it falls to the lot of a great many human beings to undergo, at any rate in part, the experiences here described. But the more a man is able to assume the physiognomy of the good after death, the more readily will he behold those whom he has through his goodness come to resemble, and the less will he respond to the Ahrimanic beings. Their influences will fall away from him; on the other hand he will have understanding for the Angel Beings who now enter the sphere in which he is living. And that will enable him to permeate his being with forces, — to begin with, forces especially of will. For it is not thought or reflection, but first and foremost the faculty of will that man possesses after death. Will becomes itself perception, becomes man's whole world of life. He has to perform an act of will whenever he wants to perceive anything. For he must form. and fashion himself in accordance with what he wants to see. That is, he must will. He must become like what he wills to perceive. It is above all the will that is developed when a man has passed through the gate of death, and upon it work, for good or ill, the impressions of which I have spoken in connection with the Moon sphere.
The next sphere into which the human being passes is that of Mercury. By this time — and often at the cost of great suffering — the human being has been able so far to adjust his physiognomy to the forces of the super-sensible world that he has laid aside the physiognomy of evil and has gradually come to resemble the forms of the Angels, Archangels and Archai. The process is in many cases slow, but eventually man enters the sphere of Mercury, the dwelling-place of the beings of the Third Hierarchy, and has to live there among them and undergo what I have already described. This is the sphere in which he gradually unfolds understanding of what, previously, was more or less blank perception — although it exercised a potent influence upon the domain of his will. In the Mercury-sphere understanding for all that has been perceived begins to dawn within man. In the present age human life is such that those who investigate these matters with Imaginative perception have tragic experiences. For the state in which the souls of the dead find themselves in this Mercury sphere depends to a great extent upon whether, here on Earth, they were materialists and rejected in thought and deed everything of a super-sensible nature, or whether they had understanding for the super-sensible. A man who in earthly life rejected all that transcends the material, confronts the Beings in the Mercury sphere with comparatively little understanding. It is the same when he comes to the next sphere, where he lives among Beings who also belong to the Hierarchy of Angels, Archangels and Archai but have reached a somewhat higher stage of development. If a man was a rank materialist in earthly life, he has no understanding at all of the Beings in the Venus sphere. For here the forces of cosmic love pour down upon him. If he has not acquired on Earth the capacity of love, the region he now enters is strange and foreign to him in the highest degree. The forces of cosmic love flood his being in the Venus sphere if, on Earth, he possessed the faculty of love; but if, on Earth, he consciously or unconsciously harboured hatred in his breast, these forces of the Venus sphere are changed within him into forces of wrath. This is the mystery of man's sojourn in the Venus sphere. For those who bring with them from Earth considerable remains of forces of hatred, it is as though metamorphosed forces of love — forces, that is, of wrath and fury — were to rise up within them from out of their will. Man sees himself in a manifestation that impels him to say: It must all be subdued, it must be chastened and brought into harmony with the Cosmos. It is ultimately always the will that receives, shall I say, special care and nurture in the Venus sphere — the will, which in earthly man has its seat in the limb and metabolic system in the lower part of his organism, that is to say, in the part of man that becomes after death “physiognomy.” It is therefore the will that comes to expression in this physiognomy.
All this time man is coming, by degrees, to resemble the Beings that are present in the spiritual Cosmos, and he is gradually passing on into the sphere of the Sun. In the Sun sphere the forces work chiefly on that in man which in its earthly reflection we know as feeling. What the Sun shows us, when we look up to it with our physical eyes, is its outward aspect only. In its inner aspect the Sun is the great cosmic meeting-place of all those Spiritual Beings who guide and direct the destinies of the Earth and of the men on Earth. The Sun is, above all, the colony of the Beings of the Second Hierarchy — the Exusiai, Kyriotetes, Dynamis. Whereas before entering the Sun sphere man lives only among human beings with whom he is linked by destiny, others now approach him. His circle of acquaintances — if one may be allowed the expression — grows wider and wider. This takes place in the sphere of the Sun. Here, too, a new and particularly vivid experience befalls man.
There below him lies another world — the Earth he has left behind but which he must tread again. In the Sun sphere, as you have heard, the metamorphosis of man's being takes place; here is wrought out the great change of which I have told you, when man's lower being is transformed into the upper being in preparation for the next earthly life. The legs are wrought into the spirit-form of the lower jaw, the arms into the spirit-form of the upper jaw and cheek-bones, and so on. This is a wonderful work which proceeds in the spiritual world, and in comparison with it any work that is done on earth in whatsoever domain is utterly insignificant. Great and majestic is the work that is accomplished by man in the spiritual world in union with higher spiritual Beings! There, in the sphere of the Sun (using the word in its wider sense) the secret of man's being is worked out. But now comes another experience.
If we are healthy in soul and spirit during our life on Earth, we are bound to realise that there is another world, a spiritual world, even if we cannot pierce through to it with actual knowledge. We take the existence of the spiritual world for granted; we say that beyond the material world there is a super-sensible world. This is how it is in earthly life. But during existence in the Sun sphere between death and a new birth, it is the other way round. In his Sun existence, an experience befalls man that teaches him to speak of a world beyond — but this “world beyond” is the Earth! It is an intensely living experience, not so much now of one's own destiny, but of the whole intrinsic character of Earth existence. And there is one feature of it which you can observe and should test for yourselves. People of to-day can hardly yet succeed in this, but you must try. When you are reading history and following it back through the centuries, it may well be that you have a curious experience. You are living now in the year 1923. You go back through history — through the world war, through still earlier events, until you come at length to the period, let us say, between the years 1500 and 1550. There you begin to feel that it is all familiar to you. Consider for a moment an intimate experience of this kind. You seem to know all about events that happened several centuries ago. You say to yourself: Surely I must have had a share in these events! A superficial student will immediately conclude that this was the period of his previous incarnation on Earth. This is, however, in most cases incorrect. As a rule it is that period between death and rebirth when, in the Sun sphere, you experienced most vividly your connection with earthly existence. Earth life presented itself to you then as a “beyond,” very much as the super-sensible life presents itself to you on Earth as a “beyond.”
Let us now pause for a moment in our study of man's path of evolution after death. We have seen that when man has gone away from the Earth he completes first the Moon existence, then enters upon the Mercury existence, then Venus and then the Sun. Of what follows we shall speak later on. But now it must be clearly understood that these events and processes are not isolated events and processes in the spiritual world but are all related to what happens on the physical Earth. And the relationship is of a distinctive character. The Moon existence is permeated through and through with the Beings of whom we have been speaking to-day — the great primeval Teachers of the human race. In a remote age of antiquity they left the Earth and went out into the Cosmos to form the cosmic colony of the Moon. But in later times we may still find here and there human beings, initiated in the Mysteries, who were possessed of quick inner sight and hearing, and could apprehend the wisdom which had once been living on Earth thanks to the presence of these primeval Initiates. Thus, in the ancient Indian period of civilisation there was still present in the Mysteries a living knowledge of the Wisdom of the Moon Initiates. There must we look, to find the source of all that can so deeply stir our wonder and admiration in the echoes we still possess of ancient Indian Wisdom. Nor is this all. Influences continue to pour down from the super-earthly world in which man lives between death and a new birth, — and the influences change with each succeeding epoch. As time goes on, their power grows continuously weaker; that is to say, human beings grow gradually less and less conscious of these influences. The Mercury influences, for example, were particularly strong during the period of ancient Persian civilisation, but human beings were already becoming less conscious of them: the myth of Ahura Mazdao is the outcome of a somewhat darkened knowledge of the influence exercised upon the Earth by Mercury. During the Egypto-Chaldean epoch the Venus influences were principally at work. Then came the wonderful epoch of Greek culture, continuing on into the Latin, when the Sun influences worked upon the Earth with greatest strength. Man was, however, in this Graeco-Latin epoch still less observant of such influences. Two factors were working together. When in his existence between death and a new birth man entered the Sun sphere, he felt an urgent desire to experience the Earth from the Sun. That is one factor. The second is that everything connected with the Sun and the nature of the Sun had a very strong influence upon the Greeks. All that the forces of the Sun give to the Earth had a deep meaning for them, especially for those generally known as the Athenians, in contrast to the Spartans. Yet everywhere in Greece the Sun, in its spiritual aspect as well, exercised a remarkably deep influence on the whole form and development of civilisation. Throughout this phase of evolution there was a strong aptitude on Earth for the perception of the spiritual, the purely spiritual, in the starry heavens. Perception of the material aspect of the heavens did not really begin until the time of our fifth Post-Atlantean period, which is, as you know, only a few hundred years old. The fact that these influences are working in our time indicates that we have passed out of the region where men feel themselves related, on Earth, to the feeling they had of being in the Sun-existence between death and a new birth. We to-day are much more susceptible to what follows. After the time spent in the Sun man comes to the domain of Mars. The strongest cosmic influence working upon humanity to-day is the impulse which comes from Mars existence. We can become acquainted with these Mars influences between death and a new birth when the Noontide hour of existence has been passed and we begin once again to approach the Earth. It must not, however, be thought that the influences connected with the Sun existence cease to work upon a man when he has passed into the Mars sphere. The Sun extends the sphere of its activity over those planetary phases of existence which follow. The Sun's influences remain; but the Mars existence begins to be a significant factor in what happens on Earth. I shall speak further of the journey of the human being through the Mars existence, but I want now to connect what we have just been learning of the spiritual world with what we find at work precisely in our own, fifth Post-Atlantean age.
In our time we are learning what cosmic battle is. We can “sense” it taking place. Most of us cannot unravel its mysteries; but we know that in cosmic existence war is being waged to-day between all manner of good and evil spirits. And here the Sun existence acquires a particular significance for our age. It is exceedingly difficult to-day for the results of spiritual insight to make any headway in face of material science! People are so proud of the fact that physics has investigated the Sun! The Sun is described for us in scientific text-books; but these descriptions, instead of stimulating in us a true conception of the Sun, really serve only to put our minds off the track. What then is actually the influence of the Sun in regard to the Earth to-day? I will indicate one only of its activities. It may seem to you that I am descending here into very material realms that are in strange contrast to the spiritual events of which we have been speaking; but what I am now going to say is of importance for the further progress of the studies upon which we are engaged.
You are, of course, familiar with the phenomenon of the Sunspots which appear with a certain regularity. Dark spots are observed on the Sun. These Sun-spots and their meaning are the cause of much dispute in material science, but a more accurate research would reveal the following. A constant impulse arises from within the Sun to throw out Sun-substance into the Universe through these dark portals. And the Sun-substance thus thrown out appears within our solar system in the form of comets, meteors and shooting stars. Now it is particularly in our age that the Beings who rule over the Universe from within the Sun are casting forth these comets, meteors and shooting stars. They did so in earlier times as well, but in our time this activity of theirs has a new significance. You will remember I said how in earlier times it was the purely spiritual impulses in the starry system that were particularly at work. In our time it is the impulses contained in the iron thrown out from the Sun that have special significance for human beings. And these impulses are used by Him whom we know as the Michael Spirit, in the service of the spiritual in the Cosmos. In our age there are thus present in the Cosmos impulses which were not working with the same strength in earlier periods of civilisation. This cosmic iron, in its spiritual nature, makes it possible for the Michael Spirit to mediate between the super-sensible and the material on Earth. We find, therefore, on the one side a spirit of warfare abroad in the world man enters, when in our time he reaches to what lies behind outer sense-existence. When a man crosses the Threshold with super-sensible sight and instead of directing his gaze to matters which concern him personally turns his attention to great affairs of the Universe which underlie our whole civilisation, then he sees warfare and battle, spiritual battle. There is strife, there is war and conflict in the spiritual, behind the veils of existence. And the iron which, even to the point of physical manifestation, is thrown out by the Sun Spirits into the Cosmos — with this iron Michael arms Himself for His task in the cosmic war. For Michael has the task of helping humanity to go forward in the right way in face of these Powers of Strife behind the veils of civilisation. On the one hand — battle and warfare. On the other hand — the labours and strivings of Michael.
Moon — Ancient Indian civilisation
Mercury — Ancient Persian civilisation
Venus — Egypto-Chaldean civilisation
Sun — Greco-Latin civilisation
Mars (Iron) —
Now all this is again connected with the development of man's freedom, man's free spiritual activity. As earthly men we have iron in our blood. If we were beings with no iron in our blood, the feeling and impulse of freedom would still be able to arise in our souls, but we should not have bodies which could be used for putting this impulse into operation. That we are able not only to conceive the idea of freedom, but also to feel in our body the power to make the body itself into a bearer of the impulse of freedom, is due to the fact that in our age we can learn how Michael takes the cosmic iron, which was cast out also in former times, into His service. And we ourselves, if we understand the Michael impulse aright, can learn how to place the iron that we have within us into the service of the impulse of spiritual freedom. Matter in any case has meaning for us only when we learn to understand it as an expression of the Spiritual in the Universe. In this age what we have to learn is to make the right use of the iron in our blood. For wherever iron is, there too is the impulse for the development of freedom. This is true in the Cosmos and true also in man. It was out of a deep instinct that the Initiates of old ascribed iron to Mars — iron which has a significance for human blood, and therewith also a cosmic significance.
These things can be known to-day through Spiritual Science, It is not a question of a revival of ancient traditions but of a re-discovery by Spiritual Science itself. If Anthroposophy is found to be in agreement with ancient lore, that does not show that Anthroposophy is merely a revival of the old. Anthroposophy investigates things by studying them in their own intrinsic nature. Their significance is then brought home to one anew when one finds that men had this same knowledge long ago under the influence of the ancient Divine Wisdom possessed by those Beings who afterwards took their departure to the Moon and to-day people the cosmic colony of the Moon.
The age in which we live is, therefore, also bound up with the experiences through which man passes between death and rebirth. Perception of what is happening on Earth is strongest during the period of existence in the Sun-sphere, but it is always there after death in greater or less degree. From the super-earthly regions in which he lives between death and a new birth, man is perpetually looking down at the earthly world. If it were not so, the earthly world would become foreign to him during the long journey between death and a new birth.
The experiences of man in the super-sensible world can be described in many ways. Yesterday I described them to you in another way; now I have been describing them to you in connection with the world of stars and with what takes place on Earth in the consecutive epochs of civilisation. All these descriptions must gradually be built up together into one whole. It would be a mistake to say: Yes, but how is it that on one occasion you describe man's life between death and rebirth in one way and on another occasion in quite a different way? If a man goes to a city once or twice or three times, he will certainly describe things differently, as his knowledge of the city grows. The details of all his descriptions have then to be put together. In the same way must the descriptions of man's experiences in the super-sensible world be brought together, be considered and pondered in all their connections. Thus alone can we gain an impression of what the super-sensible world really is and what man experiences there. This was the point I wanted to reach in the present lecture. In the lecture this evening I will speak of further experiences undergone by the human being in his existence between death and a new birth.