II. The Karma Question and the Hierarchies
17 February 1924, Dornach
When we advance from the study the aim of which was to prepare us for the explanation of human destiny, of karma, when we advance from abstractions, from the intellectual, to life itself, this advance then brings us, first of all, to the point of placing before our minds the various spheres of life into which the human being is inserted, in order to gain from these constituents of life a basis for a characterization of karma, of human destiny.
Indeed, the human being belongs to the whole cosmos in a much more comprehensive sense than is usually thought. He is, indeed, a member of the cosmos, and without the cosmos he is nothing. I have often employed the comparison of some human bodily member, for example, a finger: A finger is a finger by virtue of its being a part of the human organism. The moment it is severed from the human organism it is no longer a finger. Outwardly, physically, as finger it is the same as previously, but after it has been severed from the human organism it is, indeed, no longer a finger. In like manner is the human being no longer a human being when he is lifted out of the general cosmic existence. He belongs to the general cosmic existence, and without it he cannot at all be looked upon, not at all be comprehended as a human being.
As we have already seen from yesterday's lecture, the world surroundings of mankind consist of various domains. To begin with, we have the lifeless domain of the world which, in ordinary language, we call the domain of the mineral world. We become similar to this domain of the mineral world as the lifeless element only after we have laid aside our body, when we, as far as this body is concerned, have passed through the portal of death. In our real being we never become similar to this lifeless element. The discarded bodily form alone becomes similar to this element.
Thus, we have on the one hand what the human being leaves behind as a physical corpse in the realm of the lifeless, and, on the other, what exists as the widespread lifeless, crystalline and non-crystalline mineral nature and world. As human beings we are entirely dissimilar to this mineral world as long as we live upon the earth. To this I have already drawn attention. In regard to our form, we are immediately destroyed when we are consigned to the mineral world as a corpse. We disintegrate into the mineral; that is, the element which holds our form together has nothing in common with mineral nature. From this it follows that the human being as he lives in the physical world cannot be actually influenced at all by the mineral nature itself.
The chief and most comprehensive influences which act upon the human being from the mineral kingdom come in a roundabout way through the senses. We see the mineral kingdom, we hear it, we perceive its warmth, briefly, we perceive it by means of the senses. Our other relationships to the mineral nature are extremely slight. Just consider how very little of a mineral nature enters into relationship with us during earth life. The salt with which we flavor our food is mineral, and a few other things which we take in with our food are of a mineral nature, but by far the largest part of the food stuff which the human being consumes comes from the plant and animal kingdoms. And what we receive from the mineral kingdom relates itself in a very peculiar way to what we receive from the mineral world through our senses simply as soul impressions, as sense perceptions. And I beg you to consider seriously in this connection something very important. I have, indeed, frequently described this: The human brain weighs on the average about 1500 grams. This is quite a weight. The blood vessels at the base of this brain would be completely crushed by it if they were so heavily pressed upon by such a weight as this. But the brain does not press so heavily, for it is subject to a certain law. This law, which I have described here recently, says that an object immersed in a liquid loses some of its weight.
This can be shown by experiment, by taking a pair of scales — first disregarding the liquid-filled vessel — weighing this object and noting its weight. Then place the vessel containing the water underneath one of the scale pans so that the object in the scale pan sinks into the water. Immediately the scale pans are no longer in balance. The pan containing the weight drops lower, because the object in the other pan becomes lighter. If you then investigate how much lighter the object in question becomes, you will find that it is lighter by an amount equal to the weight of the fluid which the object displaces. If thus you take water as a fluid, then will the weight of the body immersed be reduced by an amount equal to the weight of the displaced water. This is the so-called principle of Archimedes. He discovered this — as I have told you on another occasion — when taking a bath. By simply sitting in the bath he found that his leg became lighter or heavier, according as he inserted it in the water or lifted it out again. And he then cried: I have found it! Eureka!
Indeed, my dear friends, what has just been said is an extremely important fact; important facts, however, are often forgotten. Had the engineering art not forgotten this Archimedean principle, then in Italy perhaps one of the greatest disasters of recent times would not have occurred. These are just the things which occur also in outer life from inability to survey clearly present-day knowledge.
In any case, the body loses in weight an amount equal to the weight of the displaced water. Now, the brain is completely immersed in the cerebral fluid. It swims within this brain water. Once in a while, at the present time, the human being comes to realize that in so far as he is solid, he is actually a fish. In reality he is, indeed, a fish, for 90% of his body consists of water and the solid element swims within it like the fish in water.
Thus, the brain by swimming in the cerebral fluid becomes so much lighter than formerly that it weighs only 20 grams. The brain which out of its fluid weighs some 1500 grams, in its fluid presses upon its base with a weight of only 20 grams. Now just consider how strong in us is the tendency in such an important organ — on account of this swimming of our brain in the cerebral fluid — the tendency to become free from the earth. We do not at all think with an organ which is subject to the influence of gravity, but rather we think in opposition to this force of gravity. The brain organ has first been relieved of the force of gravity.
If you consider the wide significance of the impressions which you receive through the senses, and which you confront with your free will, and compare this with the minute influences which come from salt and similar substances absorbed as food or seasoning, then the following will result from your observation: So great is the predominance of our mere sense impressions, which render us independent of the stimuli from the mineral kingdom, that what we receive into ourselves as direct influence from the mineral world is related to our sense perceptions in the ratio of 20 to 1500 grams. What we take into ourselves through the sense perceptions does not tear us apart, and the elements in us which actually are subject to the earth's gravity — such as the mineral seasonings in our food are, for the most part, things that conserve us inwardly; for salt has at the same time a conserving, a maintaining, a refreshing force. The human being is thus, on the whole, independent of what exists in the surrounding mineral kingdom. He takes into himself from the mineral kingdom only that which has no direct influence on his inner nature. He moves about freely and independently in the mineral world.
My dear friends, if this freedom and independence of movement in the mineral world did not exist, what we call human freedom would not exist at all. And it is very important that we must acknowledge that the mineral kingdom actually exists as the necessary counterpart of human freedom. Indeed, were there no mineral kingdom, we would not be free beings. For the moment we ascend into the plant kingdom, we are no longer independent of that kingdom. It only seems as if we directed our eyes toward the plant kingdom in just the same way we direct them toward the crystal, toward the widespread mineral kingdom. That is, however, not the case. Here, on the earth, the plant kingdom lies outspread. And we human beings are born into the world as breathing, living beings, as beings having a certain metabolism. All this is, indeed, much more dependent on the environment than our eyes, our ears, than everything that is a transmitter of sense impressions. What exists as plant world, the outspread plant world, draws its life out of the strength-giving ether pouring from all sides downward into the earth. The human being also is subject to this ether.
When we are born as a little child and begin to grow, when the forces of growth are evident in us, these are the ether forces. The same forces which cause the plants to grow live in us as ether forces. We carry within us the ether body. The physical body harbors our eyes, harbors our ears. As I have just explained, this body has nothing in common with the rest of the physical world, and what shows this to be true is the fact that, as a corpse, it decays in the physical world.
In the case of the ether body we have at once a different condition. Through this ether body we are related to the plant kingdom. But by our growing — just consider this, my dear friends — by virtue of our growing, something forms itself within us which has a deep connection, in a certain sense, with our destiny. To employ some rather grotesque, radical illustrations, we may grow and yet remain small and fat, or become tall and slim; we may grow and have this or that shape of nose. In brief, the way we grow has most decidedly a certain influence upon our external appearance. This, again, is connected — although in the first place only loosely — with our destiny. Growth does not express itself, however, only in these coarser things. Were the instruments we possess for purposes of research fine enough, we should discover that actually every human being has a different liver composition, a different spleen composition, a different brain composition. Liver is not merely liver. In every individual — naturally, in a very delicate way — it is something different. All this is connected with the same forces which cause the plants to grow. And in beholding the plant cover of the earth we must become conscious of the fact that what pours in out of the reaches of the ether, causing the plants to grow, works and acts also in us; it produces in us the original human potentiality which has a great deal to do with our destiny. For whether a person has received this or that liver, lung, or brain composition from the etheric universe is a matter profoundly connected with his destiny.
We see only the outer side, to be sure, of all these things. Certainly, if we look upon the mineral kingdom, we see about all that exists in that world. Human beings are so fond, scientifically, of this mineral world — if it is at all possible to speak of a “scientific fondness” at the present time — because it contains everything that people wish to find.
This is certainly not the case with what sustains, as forces, the plant kingdom. For the moment we attain imaginative knowledge — I have already spoken of this on other occasions — we begin immediately to see that the minerals are of such a nature that they are enclosed in the mineral kingdom. What sustains the plant kingdom does not appear externally at all to ordinary consciousness. Here we must penetrate deeper into the world.
Suppose we ask the question: What is it really that acts in the plant kingdom? What acts there so that there can come from the distant ether reaches the forces which make the plants sprout and spring forth from the earth, which also cause our growth, however, and the finer composition of our whole body, — what acts there? This question then brings us to the beings of the so-called third Hierarchy, the Angeloi, Archangeloi, and Archai. These beings are the realm of the invisible; but without them there would be no up and down surging of the ether forces which cause the plants to grow, and which act in us through our having within us the same forces that cause growth in plants. We can no longer stop at the mere visible — unless we wish to remain dull in regard to knowledge — if we approach the plant world and its forces. And we must, indeed, become conscious of the fact that in the body-free existence between death and a new birth we develop our relationships, our connections with these beings, the Angeloi, Archangeloi, and Archai. And according to the way we develop these connections and relationships with these beings of the third
Hierarchy, does the karma of our inner nature — if I may designate it thus — fashion itself, that very karma which depends upon the way our ether body combines the bodily fluids, how it causes us to be tall or short, and so forth.
But here the beings of the third Hierarchy have only limited power. The ability of plants to grow does not originate from their power alone, for in this respect, these beings of the third Hierarchy — the Angeloi, Archangeloi, and Archai — stand in the service of yet higher beings. What we live through, however, before we descend out of the spiritual world into our physical body, what is connected with our more delicate bodily structure, and all that I have just described, all this is caused by our conscious encounter with these beings of the third Hierarchy. And under this instruction which we can receive from them, in accordance with our preparation in our previous earth life, that is, as a result of the instruction we receive for fashioning our ether body out of the forces of the ether reaches, all this occurs during the last pre-birth period, just before we descend from the super-physical into physical existence.
From the foregoing it is evident that our glance must first fall upon what works into our destiny, into our karma out of our inner constitution. For this aspect of karma, I should like to employ the expressions “comfort and discomfort in life.” Well-being, comfort, and discomfort in life are connected with what is our inner quality by virtue of our ether body.
A second element which lives in our karma depends upon the fact that the earth is not only covered by the plant kingdom but is inhabited by the animal kingdom. Now just consider, my dear friends, that the different regions of the earth have the most varied animals. The animal atmosphere in the different regions of the earth varies greatly.
You will, however, admit that the human being also lives in this atmosphere in which the animals live. That sounds grotesque at the present time, because human beings are not accustomed to consider such matters. There are, for example, regions where the elephant lives. Indeed, in the regions where the elephant lives the cosmos affects the earth in such a way as to make it possible for the elephant to come into being. Indeed, do you believe, my dear friends, that, if there is a portion of the earth upon which the elephant lives, with the elephant-forming forces working down upon it from the cosmos, the same forces are not working, if right at this same spot a human being is present? Of course, these forces are there also when a human being is present. And this is likewise just as true for the whole animal kingdom. In exactly the same way that the plant-forming forces from the ether reaches are present right here where we live — the walls of wood, stone, and even concrete do not hold them back; here in Dornach, we live more or less in the midst of the very forces that fashion the plants in the Jura Alps — so likewise, if a human being lives on the very soil where the elephant can exist according to the earth's constitution, does he live under the elephant-forming forces.
I can, indeed, quite well imagine that you now have before your mind's eye many a large and small animal which inhabits the earth, and you now learn that the human being, indeed, lives in the same atmosphere as these animals. All this actually works upon the human being. Naturally, it acts upon the human being differently from the way it acts upon the animals, because the human being has yet other qualities, yet other members of his being than the animals. It acts differently upon the human being; otherwise he would also become an elephant in the elephant sphere. He does not, however, become an elephant. Moreover, the human being lifts himself continually out of what works upon him there. Yet he lives in this atmosphere.
You see, everything that exists in the astral body of the human being is dependent upon this atmosphere in which he lives. And, if we may say that his well-being or discomfort is dependent upon the plant nature of the earth, so may we again say that the sympathies and antipathies which we, as man, develop within our earth existence, and which we bring with us from pre-earthly existence, depend on what constitutes, so to speak, the animal atmosphere.
The elephant has a trunk and thick, column-shaped legs. The stag has antlers, and so on. In these members live the animal-forming, the animal-shaping forces. In the human being these forces are manifest only in their effect upon his astral body. And in this effect upon his astral body they produce the sympathies and antipathies which the human individuality brings with him out of the spiritual world.
Just observe, my dear friends, these sympathies and antipathies. Observe what a strong dominant power these sympathies and antipathies have throughout the whole of life. Certainly, we human beings are taught, with justification in a certain respect, to rise above these strong sympathies and antipathies. Nevertheless, to begin with they still exist — these sympathies and antipathies; we still go through our lives living in sympathies and antipathies. One has sympathy for this and another for that. One has sympathy for sculpture, another for music; one has sympathy for blondes, another for brunettes. These are strong, radical sympathies. But our entire life is interwoven by such sympathies and antipathies. We live in dependence upon those forces which produce the manifold animal configurations.
And now, just ask yourselves, my dear friends, what then do we as human beings bear within us which corresponds within our own innermost being to the manifold animal shapes existing in outer nature? A hundredfold, a thousandfold are the animal shapes. A hundredfold, a thousandfold are the configurations of our sympathies and antipathies; only, most of them remain in the unconscious or in the subconscious.
This is an additional, a third, world.
The first world was the world upon which we really feel no dependence — the mineral world. The second world is the one in which Angeloi, Archangeloi, and Archai live, the one which causes the plant kingdom to sprout forth, which gives us our inner quality by means of which we carry well-being and discomfort into life, by means of which we feel desperately unhappy through ourselves or feel happy through ourselves. That which signifies our destiny through our inner composition, through our entire etheric humanness, is taken out of this second world. We now come to what further profoundly conditions our destiny, — that is, our sympathies and antipathies. And these sympathies and antipathies bring us, finally, what belongs to our destiny in a far wider scope than do merely these sympathies and antipathies themselves.
The one human being is carried by his sympathies and antipathies into far distances. He lives here and there, because his sympathies have borne him thither, and in these distant reaches the details of his destiny develop. Deeply linked to our whole human destiny are these sympathies and antipathies. They live in the world in which lives not the third Hierarchy, but the second Hierarchy — the Exusiai, the Dynamis, the Kyriotetes. That which is an earthly reflection of the sublime, glorious forms of this second Hierarchy lives in the animal kingdom. That, however, which these beings transplant into us during our intercourse with them between death and a new birth we bring with us out of the spiritual into the physical world as our inborn sympathies and antipathies.
If we fathom these matters, then such concepts as those of ordinary heredity become childish, really childish. For in order that I may possess some inherited trait from my father or mother, I must first develop the sympathy or antipathy for this trait of my father or mother. Thus, it does not depend merely upon the fact that I have inherited these qualities through some sort of lifeless nature-cause, but it depends upon whether I have had any sympathy for these qualities. The reason why I have had such sympathies for these qualities will be discussed in the subsequent lectures. Our discussions about karma will, indeed, occupy us for many hours to come. It is, however, really childish to speak about heredity in the way this usually occurs today in those scientific circles which consider themselves especially clever.
It is even asserted today that specifically soul-spirit characteristics are inherited. Genius is said to be inherited from the forebears, and when a genius appears in the world, we seek out the individual traits in the forebears which, when united in some personality, are supposed to produce this genius. Indeed, that is a strange kind of demonstration of the truth. A reasonable proof would be that, if a genius exists he would then, through heredity, again produce another genius. But, if we were to look for these proofs — well, Goethe also had a son, and other geniuses have had sons we would come upon curious things. That would be a proof! But the fact that a genius exists and that certain characteristics of his forebears are found in this genius has no more significance than that I am wet if I fall into the water and am pulled out. Through this event, I have very little to do in my own nature with the water which then drips from me. Naturally, since I am born into a certain hereditary stream, because of my sympathies with the qualities in question, I am vested with these inherited qualities just as, when I have fallen into the water, I carry some of this water on my body after having been pulled out of it. Grotesquely childish, however, are the ideas which people have in this regard. For the sympathies and antipathies have already appeared in the pre-earthly existence of the human being, and these give him his innermost structure. With these he enters into earth existence: with these he frames his destiny for himself out of his pre-earthly existence.
And we can now easily imagine the following: In a previous earth life, we were associated with a human being. Much has resulted from this association, which continues on in the life between death and a new birth. Under the influence of the forces of the higher Hierarchies, there is fashioned within the living thoughts, within the living cosmic impulses, all that which is then to pass over into the next earth life out of the experience of the previous one, in order to be lived further. For that purpose, we employ sympathies and antipathies, cultivating the impulses through which we find each other in life.
And these sympathies and antipathies are shaped under the influence of the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes in the life between death and a new birth. These sympathies and antipathies enable us then to find the human beings in life with whom we must continue to live, in accordance with the previous earth lives. This is fashioned out of our inner human structure.
Naturally, in this acquiring of sympathies and antipathies the most manifold errors occur. These, however, are equalized again in the course of destiny throughout many earth lives. Thus, we have here a second constituent of karma: the sympathies and antipathies.
We may say: First constituent of karma — inner comfort, or discomfort; second constituent — sympathies and antipathies (see tabulation pages 26, 27). By virtue of our having reached the sympathies and antipathies in human destiny we have ascended into the sphere in which lie the forces for the formation of the animal kingdom.
Now we ascend into the real kingdom of man. We live not only in association with the plant kingdom, with the animal kingdom, but we live quite determinatively for our fate in association with other human beings in the world. That is quite a different association from the association with plants and animals. It is an association through which the chief element of our destiny is fashioned. The impulses which cause the peopling of the earth also with human beings act only upon mankind. And now the question arises: Which are the impulses that act only upon mankind? Here we can permit a purely external consideration to speak which I have already frequently presented.
Our life is, indeed, directed from its yonder side — if I may so express myself — with a much greater wisdom than we direct it here from this side.
We often meet in our later years someone who is extraordinarily important for our life. If we think back and see how we have lived up to the time when we met this human being, our whole life then appears to us to be the path we have taken in order to encounter him. It is as if we had ordered every step so as to find this individual exactly at the right point of time, or at least to find him at a certain point of time.
We need only, for once, ponder upon the following: Just think what, with full human awareness, it signifies, to find in some year of one's life a certain person and henceforward to experience something in common with him, to work and collaborate with him. Just consider what this means. Let us consider in full awareness what it is that offers itself as the impulse which has led us to meet this person. If we ponder upon the matter and ask ourselves how it is that we have found this person, perhaps it will then occur to us that an event had first to be experienced by us which was connected with many other people; otherwise there would not have* been the least possibility of finding this human being during life. And in order that this event might occur, another had in turn to be experienced. We arrive at complicated relationships all of which had to take place and into which we had to enter in order to have some decisive experience. And then we ponder, perhaps, upon the following: If at a certain age — I will not say at the age of one, but of fourteen — we had been put to the task of solving consciously the problem how we should, in the fiftieth year of our life, bring about a decisive meeting with some person, if we imagine that at a certain age we should have had to solve this problem consciously like a problem in arithmetic, I beg you just to consider what all of that would require! We human beings are, indeed, consciously extremely stupid, and what happens with us in the world is, if we consider such things, extremely clever and wise!
If we consider such a thing, our attention is directed to the extreme intricacy and significance of our destiny's working, of the action of our karma. And all this occurs in the realm of the human being.
Now, I beg you to consider that what takes place here with us is actually living in the unconscious. Right up to the moment when a critical event confronts us, it lies in the unconscious. Everything takes place as though subject to the laws of nature. But where would the laws of nature ever have the power to effect such a thing? What occurs in this region can, indeed, contradict all nature laws and everything that we construct in accordance with the outer laws of nature. I have repeatedly drawn your attention also to this fact.
The externalities of human life may even be stretched into the frame of calculated laws. Let us take, for example, the business of life insurance. It can only prosper through our being able to calculate the probable life duration of any — let us say — nineteen or twenty-year-old individual. When someone wishes to insure his life, the policy is based upon the probable length of life. That is, as a person, nineteen years old today, we are expected to live according to these calculations a certain number of years. That can be determined. But just suppose that this period has elapsed. You would not feel in duty bound to die because of this fact. According to this probable life duration, two human beings should have been dead for a long time. But, after they have long been “dead,” according to this probable duration of life, they meet each other for the first time in the way I have described! All this occurs beyond what we calculate for human life out of the external facts of nature. And nevertheless, it occurs with as much inner necessity as do the laws of nature. It is not possible to say anything but the following: With the same necessity with which any natural phenomenon takes place, an earthquake, or a volcanic eruption, or whatever it may be, a minor or a major event in nature, with the same necessity two human beings meet each other during earth life according to the rules of life which they have made for themselves. Thus, we see actually here within the physical realm a new realm established, and within this realm we live not only in comfort or discomfort, in sympathies and antipathies, but we live within it as in our own occurrences, our own experiences. We are entirely molded into the realm of events, of experiences which determine our life in accordance with destiny.
In this realm the beings of the first Hierarchy are active, the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. For, in order that every human step, every movement of the soul, everything in us may be guided in the world in such a way that the destiny of man may grow from it, a greater power is needed than that which acts in the plant kingdom, than that possessed by the Hierarchy of the Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai, than that possessed by the Hierarchy of the Exusiai, Kyriotetes, Dynamis. To achieve this a power is needed which is inherent in the first Hierarchy, Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones — the most exalted beings of the universe. Now, what comes to manifestation there lives in our real ego, in our ego organism, and extends its life from a previous earth existence into a later one.
Archai, Archangeloi, Angeloi:
First Constituent of Karma — Comfort, Discomfort.
Dynamis, Exusiai, Kyriotetes:
Second Constituent of Karma — Sympathies, Antipathies.
Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones:
Third Constituent of Karma — Events, Experiences.
And now consider the following: You live a life on earth, causing this or that, out of instincts, passions, inclinations, let us say, or out of clever or foolish thoughts. All this is actually present within you as impulses. Consider that, when you live a life on earth, what you do through instincts leads to this or to that; it leads to the happiness or injury of another human being. Then you pass through the life between death and a new birth. In this life you have the strong consciousness: “If I have injured another human being, I am less perfect than I should have been had I not thus injured him. I must atone for it.” You feel in yourself the urge and the impulse to expiate this injury. If you have done something to a human being which advances him, then you behold what is advancing him in such a way that you say: “This must serve as the basis for general world advancement, this must lead to further results in the world.”
All this you are able to develop inwardly; all this may give well-being, ease, or discomfort, according to the way you fashion the inner nature of your body during life between death and a new birth. All this may lead you to sympathies and antipathies, in that you construct your astral body in the corresponding way with the help of the beings of the second Hierarchy, the Exusiai, Dynamis, and Kyriotetes. But all of this does not yet give you the power to cause what in a past life were mere human deeds to become a cosmic act. You advanced or injured a human being. The effect of this must be that this human being will encounter you in the next life and that you will find through this encounter the impulse to expiate the effect. What has a merely moral significance must become an outer fact, must become an outer world event.
For this purpose, the beings are needed who transform, metamorphose, moral acts into world deeds. These are the beings of the first Hierarchy, Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. These beings transform what proceeds from us in one earth life into our experiences of the next earth lives. They act in what constitutes event and experience in human life.
We have there the three basic elements in our karma; that which composes our inner constitution, our inner human existence, is under the control of the third Hierarchy; that which exists as our sympathies and antipathies, that which in a certain way becomes our environment, is the concern of the second Hierarchy; finally, that which confronts us as our outer life is the concern of the first, the most exalted Hierarchy of beings ranging above men.
Thus, we look into the relationship in which the human being stands to the universe, and come now to the important question: How do all the details of our destiny develop from these three elements of the human being?
The human being is born into a parental home. He is born on a certain spot of the earth. He is born within a folk. He is born into a certain complex of facts. Everything, however, that appears by virtue of his being born into a parental home, of his being entrusted to educators, of his being born into a folk, of his being placed upon a certain spot on the earth at his birth, — all of this which, in spite of all human freedom, intervenes so profoundly, so fatefully in the life of the human being, all of this is finally, in some way, dependent upon these three elements which compose human destiny.
All individual questions will disclose themselves to us in corresponding answers, if we focus our attention upon these fundamentals in the right way. If we ask why someone in his twenty-fifth year has small pox, thus passing through the most extreme danger of life, if we ask why some other sickness or event may intervene in his life, why his life may be benefited by this or that older person, by this or that nation, or why advancement occurs to him through this or that outer event, — in every case we shall have to return to that which, in a threefold manner, composes human destiny and places the human being in the totality of the cosmic Hierarchies. In the mineral kingdom alone does the human being move about freely. There lies the realm of his freedom.
By paying attention to this, the human being learns also to pose in the right way the question of freedom. Read in my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity how much I have stressed the importance of not asking about the freedom of the will. The will resides deep down in the unconscious, and it is nonsense to ask about the freedom of the will; on the contrary, it is possible to speak only of the freedom of thinking, of thought. In my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity I have clearly made this distinction. Free thoughts must activate the will, then is the human being free. But with his thoughts the human being lives in the mineral kingdom. With everything else, with his life in the world of the plant, of the animal, in the purely human world, he is subject to destiny. And freedom is something of which one may say the following: The human being steps out of the realms which are ruled by the higher Hierarchies into the realm which, in a certain way, is independent of the higher Hierarchies, into the mineral kingdom, in order to be free as far as he is concerned. This mineral kingdom is, indeed, the realm to which the human being becomes similar only as a corpse, when he has laid his body aside after having passed through the portal of death. The human being is independent in his earth life of that kingdom which can only act for his destruction. It is not to be wondered at that he is free in this kingdom, since this kingdom has no other part in him but to destroy him when it receives him. He must first die in order that he be, as a corpse, in the realm in which he is free also as a phenomenon of nature. Thus, things are related.
We grow older and older. If the other incidents do not occur which we shall also learn about in connection with karma, if the human being dies at an advanced age, he becomes similar, as a corpse, to the mineral kingdom. He enters the sphere of the lifeless by growing older. Then he detaches his corpse from himself. That is no longer human; naturally, it is no longer human. Let us contemplate the mineral kingdom: that is no longer God. Just as the corpse is no longer human, is the mineral kingdom no longer God. What is it, then? The Godhead is in the plant, animal, and human kingdoms; we have found it there in its three Hierarchies. The Godhead is in the mineral kingdom just as little as the human corpse is the human being. The mineral kingdom is the divine corpse. To be sure, we shall encounter in due course the peculiar fact, upon which today I desire only to touch, that the human being grows older in order to become a corpse and the Gods grow younger in order to become a corpse. That is to say, the Gods travel on that other path on which we travel after our death. The mineral kingdom is, therefore, the youngest kingdom. It is, nevertheless, the one that the Gods detach from themselves. And because it is detached from the Gods, the human being can live within it as in the realm of his freedom. Thus, are these things interrelated. And the human being learns actually to feel more and more at home in the world by his learning in this way to place his sensations, his thoughts, his feelings, his will impulses in the right relationship to the world. But only thus do we see also how, in accordance with the laws of destiny, we are placed in the world and in relationship to other human beings.