7 December 1915, Berlin
In every domain Spiritual Science has to show us the connection between the spiritual worlds and the world which we perceive through our senses while in our earthly bodies, and which we seek to grasp through intellectual thoughts. In several lectures we have been especially occupied in considering the connection that exists between the life led by man as a soul between death and rebirth, and the life he passes here, while incarnated in a physical body. We must continually bear firmly in mind that man, so long as he lives within his physical body, directs his thoughts to that sphere which he has to experience after death and before rebirth. We direct our thoughts to that sphere, not in order to satisfy mere curiosity, but because we have always been able to convince ourselves through our Spiritual Science, that in turning our thought to that other world, we are able to make a contribution to this world, by ennobling and invigorating the conceptions needed for our acting, thinking, feeling, etc. We must hold firmly to the thought that many of life's secrets can only be solved if we have the courage to approach what may be called the riddle of death. Now to-day, in order to consider the connection between the spiritual and sense world, from a special standpoint, we may commence with a trivial observation, yet one which contains profound feeling. We shall start from the fact of which we have often spoken, the fact that man goes through the gate of death. I repeat, we start from something which is of every-day occurrence but is connected with very deep experiences, gripping man in the depths of his soul. As you know, when we stand face to face with a man here in the physical world, we form thoughts which can unite us to him. We surround him with feelings of sympathy, or antipathy, etc. We feel either friendship or enmity for him. Briefly, we form here in the physical world a certain relation to another man. This relation may arise through ties of blood, or it may be brought about by the preferences which occur in daily life. All this can be comprehended in the expression, The relation of man to man. Now, when a man with whom we have been united through various ties leaves the physical world and passes through the gates of death, at first there remains to us the memory of this man, that is, a number of feelings and thoughts have arisen as a result of our relation to him, and which we ourselves have experienced. But since he passed away from us through the gates of death these thoughts and feelings which united us with him, now live on in a very different manner. While he lived with us here on the physical plane, we knew that at any time, in addition to the relation our souls had formed to him, the outer physical presentment itself might also appear; we knew that we could bring our inner experience to bear upon this outer reality of his. And if at any time by some means the man changed, we had to expect that the feelings we formerly had towards him would also change in one way or another. We do not often think of the radical difference it makes when suddenly, or even not suddenly, the moment comes, when henceforward we can only carry in our soul the memory of our friend, when we know, Never more will our eyes see him, or our hands grasp his. The picture we formed of him remains fundamentally as already fixed. But a radical change appears in the relation of the two people. As has been said, it may sound trivial, but it cuts deeply into the inner life in each individual case, when a human soul which formerly impressed us from without by means of its physical embodiments, becomes nothing but a memory.
Let us now compare such a memory with others which we construct from our experience. A great part of our physical life is lived in memory. We know what we ourselves have experienced; we know, for instance, the events which have occurred to us and for which we have retained ideas. We know that we can revert to times now past through these thoughts, times in which the events in question took place. But now, if we examine the contents of the greater part of these recollections, we find that in our thoughts we bear something within us which is no longer here, past events, events which as reality we can no longer meet with in the external world, for they belong to the past. If we have absorbed some of the thoughts of Spiritual Science, then the memory of our dead, or of one who has gone through the gates of death, is quite different to our psychic gaze. We then hold thoughts in us, but these thoughts are fixed on reality a reality certainly not accessible to us in the external physical world, but existing in the spiritual world. That to which those thoughts are directed is present, although it cannot enter the sphere of our vision; but there is quite a different conception in our memory from the mere remembrance of what occurred here, in the physical world. Now, if we observe the fact involved in this, in relation to the entire Cosmos, we can then say that we carry in our souls thoughts of a being who is in the spiritual world. Now we know, and this must be especially clear to us from the considerations pursued here in the last three lectures, we know that not only does the longing of souls incarnated here ascend to the spiritual world, but that the consciousness of those who have passed through the gates of death, and who are now living in the intermediate world between death and rebirth, also extends to what transpires here in the physical world. We can say: Those discarnate souls who live in the spiritual world, receive into their consciousness, from the physical world, that which their spiritual gaze and their spiritual vision directed down to earth, enables them to perceive. I pointed out in one of the last lectures how souls still incarnated here in physical bodies can be perceived by the so-called dead, and distinguished from souls who are already discarnate and living in the intermediate stage, between death and rebirth. I explained that souls living in the spiritual world must continually be active in order to get any perception. For instance, they may be aware that another soul is quite near them, but in order to perceive it, they must exert inner activity. They have, as it were, to construct a picture. The picture will not appear of itself, as it does here, in the physical world. In the spiritual world comes first the thought of an existing presence; and then one must, as it were, inwardly experience this existing entity, so that the picture may arise. The process is reversed; for there is a significant difference in the construction of the picture, which refers to those souls already in the spiritual world, and the picture of such as are still incarnate on the earth; the discarnate soul must produce the picture of a soul that is already in the spiritual world entirely from itself, and it must be thoroughly active in so doing: but it may remain more passive in reference to a soul still living on the earth, and then the picture rather comes to it. The effort made is much slighter as regards a soul living on the earth, than with one already discarnate; less inner activity is necessary, and this represents the distinction between the two, to those souls living between death and rebirth. If you grasp this, you will realise that after the soul has passed through the gates of death and lives the life of the spiritual world, it not only beholds the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies, and the other human souls living with it in the spiritual world, but there also appears the world of souls to which it was related before going through the gates of death.
The important distinction must be firmly retained, that while man here on earth has that which constitutes earth existence actually around him, and can only comparatively speaking grasp the other world in spirit, this is reversed on entering the spiritual world. What the soul can there see of itself, without an effort, is our world; and from there it is the other world; but the soul must exert itself to make its own world, the world in which it then is, always perceptible, and must always construct it for itself. Thus when man is in the spiritual world, it is that world on which he must continually work; and what is then to him the other world always arises as if of itself. But now within this other world, which for us on earth is this world, there appear the human souls, with that which lives in them; especially those human souls with whom relations were established during life on earth. These human souls appear. Now within this sea of spiritual perception which we make here, in our souls, of the other world there occasionally appear the memories of those who have gone through the gates of death. Picture this very clearly to yourselves. Let us suppose that we lived in a time in which nobody could remember any dead person; the dead would still perceive these human souls in which there lived no memory of the dead. In this ocean of spiritual perceptions which the discarnate souls can see, are preserved the memories of the dead. They live within it. That is something which through man's free will and love here is added to what the dead can always see from the other side. Thus it is something added.
Now here again we come to a point when important questions arise to the spiritual investigator. Here is one question which the spiritual investigator must investigate. Of what significance is it to one who has gone through the gates of death when he now sees embedded in the souls ebbing and flowing in our world, the memories which these souls streaming by have of the dead? When he perceives these memories what do they mean to him? Now in spiritual investigation when such a question arises it must first of all be thoroughly experienced. One must live into it. If one begins to speculate as to a possible solution to such a question, as to a possible answer, one will certainly arrive at a false conclusion. For the effort of the ordinary brain-fettered understanding gives, as a rule, no solution. That can only be ascertained through inner activity. The answers to questions relating to the enigmas of the spiritual world descend from the spiritual world as by an act of grace. One must wait. There is really nothing else to be done but to live with the question and meditate on it again and again. Let it live in the soul with all the feelings aroused by it, and then calmly wait; wait till one is worthy that is the right word worthy to receive an answer from the spiritual world. And, as a rule, this comes from quite a different quarter than one would expect. Thus the answer comes from the spiritual world at the right moment, that is, at the moment when one has sufficiently prepared one's soul to receive the answer. As to whether it is then the right answer, can as little be decided theoretically, as can any statement concerning physical reality; experience alone can furnish the criterion. To those who are always denying spiritual reality by saying, That cannot be proved; and everything must be proved, I should like to put one question: Would it have been possible to prove the existence of a whale in the physical world if none had ever been discovered? Nothing can be proved, unless it can be shown in the same way as a reality; even in the spiritual world one must experience that which is reality.
Now that which enters one's consciousness as the solution, may of course appear in many different forms, according to the preparation one has made in one's soul. The truth may present itself in many ways, but nevertheless it must be experienced as the truth. For example, if one lets the above question live aright in the soul, there then appears, apparently from quite a different quarter, a picture, an inner picture, which, I may say, gives one an inner impression of offering something concerning the solution of the riddle in question. The picture may arise of a man who allows himself to be photographed, or has his portrait painted. The principle point in the picture will be some physical thing, an image of this physical thing, and there finally arises all that pertains to the realm of art, to the artistic presentation. Now, if you consider how physical life runs its course, you know that in physical life man is confronted with the outer occurrences of nature, the external beings, and events of nature. They run their course and expire. It is similar with all human concerns, with what man attends to and plans for his necessities, and so on: with what he makes as history. But beyond all this man seeks something which really has nothing to do with the immediate necessities of the world. The human soul is aware that if nature and history merely ran their course in connection with the satisfaction of human needs, life would become barren and desolate. Man creates here in physical existence something above and beyond the course of nature and necessity. He does not merely feel the need of seeing a certain landscape, but also of copying it. He so arranges his life that anyone connected with him can get one or more copies of it. Starting from this we can think of the whole realm of art as something that man creates here which is higher reality than the ordinary reality pertaining to nature and history. Just think what the world would miss if there were no Art, if Art did not add that which she can produce from her own sources to that which is self-existing. Art creates something which, one may say, need not of necessity exist. If she were not there, all the necessities of nature might still go on. One may suppose that even if no single copy of nature had been made and no artistic representation, life would still pursue its course, from the beginning to the end of the earth. We can picture to ourselves all that men would then be without. But theoretically, it might be possible for our earth to be punished through the inability to evolve any Art. We have in Art something extending beyond life. Think of all that Art has created in the world, and also of the progress of man through the world; there you have in a sense two parallel progressive processes: the necessities of nature and history, and the stream of Art which is inserted in them.
Now just as Art, in a sense, brings as by enchantment a spiritual world into the world of physical reality, so another world conjures up into the world of those who have gone through the gates of death, these memories which fill our souls here. As far as the dead are concerned the world here might run its course without any memories living in the souls here, memories born of love and all our human relationships. But then the world of the dead would be to them as a world would be to us in which we could find nothing transcending ordinary reality. That is an extraordinarily significant connection; for, through the thoughts of love, through the memories, and all that thus transpires in our souls in connection with those no longer in the physical world, there is created for the dead something analogous to artistic creation here. And whereas here in the physical world a man must bring forth artistic creation out of his own soul, must contribute something out of his own being; to those now in the spiritual world, the opposite must occur. It must be brought to them from their other world from the souls still incarnated here from the souls whom they can contemplate more passively than those already with them in the spiritual world. That which the course of nature and history would be to us, if it ran on simply of itself, without Art, without everything man creates above and beyond the immediate reality, such would our world be for the dead, if the souls still on the physical plane retained no memories of them.
Now, such things as these are not really known in the physical life of man. We may put it thus! These things are not known by the ordinary consciousness, but the deeper subconsciousness is aware of them. And life is always directed in accordance with this. Why has a value always been laid by human communities on the celebration of All Souls Day, and days for the dead? And those who cannot share in the usual memorials for the dead, have nevertheless, their own days set apart for this. Why is this? Because in the depths of man's subconsciousness there lives what may be called a dim knowledge of what takes place in the world by keeping alive the memory of the dead. When the receptive soul of the seer celebrates All Souls Day, or a Sunday devoted to the dead, or some similar day when many people come together full of the memories of their dead, he sees the dead participate in the ceremony; it is to them, with certain natural differences, as it is here when on our globe people visit a cathedral and behold those forms which they could never see unless something had been created out of the artist's imagination, unless something had been added to physical existence; it is the same when they hear a symphony, or music of that sort. Something is reproduced in all these memories, which, in a sense, transcends the ordinary level of existence. And as Art inserts herself into the physical course of human history, so do these memories insert themselves into the picture of their world which the souls between death and rebirth receive. In such customs, which are formed in human communities, that secret knowledge contained in the depths of the soul finds expression. And many a worthy custom is connected with this deeper sub-consciousness. We feel greater reverence for the connections of life when we can permeate them with what Spiritual Science offers to us, than if we are unable to do this. Each time that a dead person contacts a remembrance of himself in the soul of a man who was in some way connected with him here, it is always as if something streamed over to him which beautified his life, and enhanced its value. And as to us here, beauty comes from Art, so to the dead, beauty streams to them from what rays forth out of the hearts and souls of those who keep them in memory.
That is one connection between the world here and the spiritual world there. And this thought is closely connected with that other thought, which should arise from much of what can be cultivated in Spiritual Science, the thought of the value and importance of earth life. Spiritual Science does not lead us to despise the earth, with all that it can bring forth; it leads us rather to consider life as a part of the whole life of the Cosmos, as a necessary part, which is arranged in conformity with what is active in the spiritual world, and without which the spiritual world would not appear in its perfection. And henceforth when we turn our attention to the fact that from out of our physical world must spring forth beauty for the dead, we are struck by the thought that the spiritual world would lack this beauty, if there were no physical world, with the human souls who, while still in the body, were able to evolve thoughts full of feeling and sentiment for those no longer in this world. It signified a great deal, when in olden times, whole peoples over and over again devoted themselves reverently at their festivals to the thought of their great ancestors, and united in feeling for the memory of their great forefathers. It was of extreme significance, when they inaugurated such memorial days. For it always meant the flashing up of something beautiful for the spiritual worlds, that is, for the souls living there between death and rebirth. And while here on earth it is not very rational, to put it mildly, to take special pleasure in one's own portrait; nevertheless for the dead it is important to find their image in those souls who still remain here. For we must bear well in mind that our earth-man appears very different to us when we consider him from the standpoint of the spiritual, from the standpoint of the dead. We have often emphasised this. Here we are enclosed within our skin. What we designate as we, as I, that which is most precious to us, is shut in by our skin. This holds good even for the most selfless people; perhaps it holds good for them to a higher degree than for those who consider themselves less selfless. First and foremost we value that which is shut up inside this skin; then comes the rest of the world. We regard that as our outer world. But the most significant thing is that when we are outside our bodies we are one with the outer world and live in it. I have often described this going forth, this expansion of oneself over the outer world. And that which then bears the same relation to us as does the outer world now, is just what we have experienced here between birth and death. In a sense we can say that the outer world becomes our inner world, and what is now our inner world then becomes our outer world. Hence that significant experience on entering the land of the spirit, Thou art That, described in my book Theosophy. We then look back at our external world here, which is encompassed by our Ego. But there the soul unable to be as egoistic as it was here, looks back on the thoughts which appear, as thoughts of itself. That is, as it were, the external world that confronts it, which is really incorporated into the compass of what we can designate as the Beautiful, that which exalts one. There comes into this which has become an outer world consisting of the memory of all we have undergone between birth and death something which does not live in this, does not belong to this life of ours, but lives in other souls and relates itself to us. That really means the insertion of something transcending ourselves, transcending our outer world, just as here some work of art rises above the ordinary reality which exists in itself. And just as it is improper for a man here to be in love with himself, and also with his own portrait, so there it is quite natural for a man to stand in that sort of relation to what arises as an image in the souls left behind the other presentation of himself to stand before that picture, just as here we stand before a landscape and compare it with the scene itself. Thus when this question comes before the soul, one is shown the presentment of the man and his picture, and from this one finds a way of answering the question. Speculation as a rule does not help at all, one must learn to wait, to wait patiently. In reality one should only trouble oneself about the question relating to the spiritual world, for the answers can only be given to the human soul as by a revealing act of grace.
In this lecture I have pointed out that certain arrangements, such as memorial festivals and days of remembrance as organised by men, are connected with a profound knowledge, outside the range of ordinary consciousness. That rests in the fact that man has in the depths of his soul, a dim but comprehensive knowledge I have repeatedly touched upon this and that he actually draws the knowledge embraced by his consciousness from out of this comprehensive wisdom. I have pointed out how clever we should really be if we could with our ordinary consciousness embrace everything included in the astral body. This astral body goes through life wiser, in a much higher sense than we usually believe. We do not value the wisdom of our astral body because we are quite unaware of it, but we can at least form some idea of its comprehensive wisdom, if we place the following before our souls.
Our lives are lived, as we might say, in the daytime. Now, we judge events very little according to their connections. If we consider them in their setting, many things would seem very, very different to us. Consider this: Suppose we made a plan, we propose doing something, and we decide in the morning what we intend doing during the evening. At midday something occurs which prevents us fulfilling the evening plan. We are really vexed that we are not able to carry it out. We think how much finer and better it would have been if we had been able to accomplish that particular thing. The astral body, however, with its more embracing but subconscious knowledge, is of a different opinion! In such a case the astral body often says: Yes, if you fulfil what you had intended for the evening, you will be put in a position in which you may perhaps fall and break your leg. Of course it may be quite possible that we absolutely cannot avoid this; and if we accomplish in the evening what we have arranged, there may previously be a combination of circumstances that brings about the breaking of our leg. We do not know of this in our ordinary consciousness, but the astral body perceives it. And it therefore leads us into a position in which we ourselves prevent the fulfilment of the evening programme. The intervention which vexes us so much, is sometimes caused by this extraordinary wise knowledge of the whole setting of our life. It is not born of chance, but arises entirely from the wisdom of our astral body, of which we remain unconscious, as regards our ordinary consciousness. If we could only see why we do some things and omit others, perhaps because we cannot do otherwise, or are led away first to something else if we could perceive all that, we should see that there is always a connection in our life which proceeds from something within us, wiser than we are in our ordinary consciousness. It is a part of our life's arrangement, but the whole purpose is not perceptible. But as soon as we rightly hold the thought in our minds of our connection with the spiritual world, the matter will then become clear to us. Over us there is a Being that in a limited sense belongs to us, a Being of the Hierarchy of the Angels, our Guardian Angel. Indeed, at the present time we always turn at the beginning of our lectures to the Guardian Spirits of those who have to fulfil the severe demands of the time outside in the world. Now, this Guardian Spirit of ours sees the whole connection. For a long time there has been a feeling in human consciousness that certain connections, imperceptible to us, are perceived by our Guardian Angel. Occasionally the following takes place: The boundary between what we can see and what we cannot see with ordinary consciousness, varies. There are, indeed, persons here, who go through life with a certain inner satisfaction, for no matter what comes to them they submit, because they believe in a ruling wisdom. They are permeated with a feeling that even things which may cause annoyance are also dominated by a ruling wisdom. It is often very difficult to believe in a ruling wisdom, when something happens which absolutely interferes with our plans. But one of those very impulses which may easily bring us well into connection with the workings of the spiritual world, consists in our feeling ourselves cared for by this ruling wisdom, without thereby becoming indolent or lazy, without believing that this wisdom works independently for us individually. Thus the boundary is movable; and in reference to our actions, and to forming of intentions, it varies greatly. In ordinary consciousness there are certainly impulses of an intimate and delicate nature. How often does it happen that we plan something for a later time; then something occurs, and we feel that we must do this which will really hinder the later action. We have the feeling to act as immediate necessity demands and to set about the matter with a certain delicacy, for we know if we set about it roughly that it will disperse and vanish before us. We all have to a greater or less degree within us, besides the self on which our freedom depends, a second self that wants to feel its way through life, and believes it attains far more through what it gropes for, than through what it can strictly measure by intellect. The boundary is movable.
But at certain times the boundary is even more adjustable. And now comes a point which should be correctly grasped with reference to practical life. There are persons and in a certain respect we are all gripped by that which rules in such people there are persons who have a sort of longing, a sort of passion to order their life aright, so to traverse the paths of life that they can order it correctly. Let us take an exceptional case. Suppose a man you know forms a friendship for another. You may say: I really cannot understand why he has formed this friendship. I cannot make it out. No real affinity exists between these two, yet he does all he can to approach this man. It seems incomprehensible; and only a long time afterwards we see the reason. The man in question may need the other for something much later on. He formed a friendship with him, not because he found something in him which gave him pleasure; he did not form this friendship for its own sake, but as a means to something which would apply later. He regulated his life rightly. Through forming that friendship he attained some prospect, through which his friend could later help him in some situation. And the consequence is that something actually takes place through the help of the so-called friend which could not otherwise have occurred. If you apply this thought to life, you will see how often it occurs, that people arrange something which they do not immediately desire, but they wish it so arranged, because they will have need of its after-effects. Thus we must say that there are people who, in the adjustment of their life show an enormous subtlety we cannot call this wisdom; we should feel an inner objection to calling it wisdom. But these people display great cunning in doing something at an earlier stage of their life which cannot profit them in any way at the time, but can only do so at some later epoch. And we may express the following feeling: I really did not think so and so was so clever, for when I approached him and exchanged thoughts with him or was in his society he really seemed much too stupid to order his life so cleverly. Now that comes about because what a man carries in his astral body can be much cleverer than his ordinary consciousness. And if he strongly checks his egotism and drives it down to the sphere of unconsciousness, if he does not live in accordance with a certain primitive instinct, but, as it were, allows his egotism to dominate, it then lays holds of his subconsciousness: and that other man that dwells in us all, but who as a rule trains us to take life in a more natural and direct manner, then guides him to organise his life, and to create beforehand the conditions for something later. Then we see the astral body ruling with its cleverness; but permeated, not by what usually dominates in life, but by the egotism forced out of the ordinary consciousness down into the astral consciousness. And we see such a man apparently going through life with much more, of what we might call calculation, than should come to him from his ordinary consciousness. There are many dangerous sides to the evolution of the human soul. And it is very important to become aware of this: that the moment we meet what is ordinarily unconscious in us, we must try not to approach it with too much egotism. Therefore, the avoidance of egotism in the development towards the spiritual worlds must again and again be emphasised. For beneath our ordinary consciousness there really rules something which may be permeated by the consciousness of our Guardian Spirit from the Hierarchy of the Angels. Then arises that which to the ordinary consciousness makes a man seem to act without reflection, but which is nevertheless subject to a certain law. I expressed this law very simply in one of the Mystery Plays by letting one of the characters say: The heart must often direct our Karma. And if one transcends that which the heart indicates as Karma, and lets reason prevail, then reason sometimes administers a strong dose of egotism. Or it may be that egotism so prevails that we find man more subtle than he seems to be, judging by his ordinary consciousness. In that case he has pressed the egotism down into his astral body. Then comes something into the working of his soul, not now from the regular Beings of the Hierarchy of the Angels but something Luciferic, which enables the man to embrace a wider sphere than he could consciously do at this present stage of his evolution. Thus we see that what must of necessity be strongly emphasised, when one is approaching spiritual evolution, is really something delicate and intimate; for we must of course strive to expand our consciousness, but in doing so, we should always take care to obliterate the hindrance that is created when our egotism is removed either into a deeper or a higher sphere of consciousness.
You may ask: How can we do this? It is very easy to say that we should not remove egotism from our ordinary consciousness. But how are we to avoid doing this? Well, this cannot be done by rules, but solely through widening one's interests. When a man extends his interests he is always in some way already fighting his egotism. For with each new interest we acquire we go a little beyond ourselves. Therefore, we strive for Spiritual Science in this manner; that is, we are taught not only to pay attention to what man so willingly listens to because of his egotism, but to have our interests really extended. How often does the demand arise, again and again: Why are the books written in a way so difficult to understand? Could they not be written in a simpler fashion? And someone or another makes suggestions as to how these books could be written for the people and made popular. One must really beware of gaining such popularity, for it only enhances egotism. If it were made so easy to enter Spiritual Science then each one could enter without overcoming his egotism. But in the work accomplished spiritually by the efforts we have to make, we get rid of a little of our egotism; we enter what we wish to acquire through Spiritual Science in a more hallowed frame of mind if we have had to take trouble over it, than if it had been presented to us in quite an easy and popular form. For example, a person has come home and said: There are so many people who have to work all day long. If these people have to sit down in the evening to read these difficult books, they do not get on very well. For such as these there ought to be books quite easy to read. To this I had to answer and quite correctly: Why should one prevent these people from applying even the little time at their disposal to reading such books as are purposely written with full regard to spiritual conditions? Why should they occupy the little time they have in reading books which may be more convenient, but which trivialise the matter even textually? For it is just because these books do not place the soul in the right attitude, that they drag down into the trivial life that which should lead one away from it, even as regards the nature of the experience connected with another sphere.
It will become of special importance in Spiritual Science that we should bear in mind not only the What (the matter) but the How (the manner): that we should really bestir ourselves gradually to acquire ideas of a world quite different from the ordinary physical world, and thus gradually to accustom ourselves to form conceptions different from those we can build so comfortably in the physical world. And now, in conclusion, I should like to mention a concept which we shall require in our next lecture. But I shall mention it to-day, so that you may see that it is well to assimilate new words for that which transpires in the spiritual world.
We have a word which expresses the manner of a man's life between birth and death, which expresses this life as it strikes us. We see the young child fresh and rounded, its inner life flowing through its outer form; teeming, as we say, with inner life, up to a certain year when life pours itself into the outer form. Then comes a time when the inner life ceases to flow, when we become wrinkled and things change with us. In short, we can follow up this outer life from birth to death in the changes presented by the physical body as life runs its course. We call this growing old for the quite trivial reason that when we are born the physical body is young, and when we die it is old. Now with the etheric body the case is really quite different. Our etheric body is old, if we can use the word at all in this connection, it is old through the forces by which it is fashioned at conception or birth. It is already old when we begin our physical life. It is then already formed and chiseled out, it has a great many inner formations (they are movements, yet inner formations); these are taken from it as life proceeds. But on the other hand the life force is enhanced; it is young when we grow old. While we say of the physical body we are aging of the etheric body we must say we are growing young. And it is well to use this expression. We really grow young as regards our etheric body, for at our birth its whole forces are directed to all that is enclosed in the human skin. When at a certain age we pass through death, the etheric body enters into a certain relationship with the whole Cosmos. It recovers the forces which have been taken from it. The moment we became children its connection with the Cosmos was broken. It had then to send all its forces into the small space enclosed in the human skin. It was compressed, as it were, to one point of the Cosmos. Now the etheric body revives, and gradually takes it place in the Cosmos in proportion as the physical body ages. Although somewhat of an exaggeration, we may say when we become wrinkled, the etheric body becomes chubby and again becomes an image of the external force, the creative, abounding force, in the same way as the physical body is an expression of this force at the beginning of childhood. We grow young as regards our etheric body. Thus it will gradually become necessary to coin words wherewith really to grasp the absolutely different relations of the spiritual world, It is important that we should acquaint ourselves with this radical difference in the whole perception of the spiritual world, as opposed to the physical world. We shall start our considerations next time from this point.
From the fighters' courage,
From the blood of battles,
From the mourners' suffering,
From the people's sacrifice,
There will ripen fruits of Spirit
If with consciousness the soul
Turns her thought to Spirit Realms.