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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Metamorphoses of the Soul I
GA 58

These lectures deal with the mission of spiritual science, anger, truth, and reverence. Also included are discussions of human character, asceticism and illness, human egoism, Buddha and Christ, and a fascinating chapter called “Something About the Moon.”

The German title containing these lectures is Metamorphosen des Seelenlebens und Pfade der Seelenerlebnisse, published in two volumes by the Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach, Switzerland. Translated by C. Davy and C. von Arnim

I.The Mission of Spiritual Science October 14, 1909
The spirit is a reality for spiritual science. Count von Hoditz and Wolframitz, a personality of outstanding importance, said: Man is in essence an image of the Divine. Today spiritual science exists; a higher, super-sensible form of knowledge. Goethe saw in the harmonious human being the goal of the universe. Kant denied a path of knowledge leading into the spiritual world, from which comes moral consciousness, duty and conscience. Goethe is his antithesis. By means of “contemplative judgement” one can ascend into the spiritual world. The stages on this path are Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. Initiates in ancient times revealed the most profound secrets of life in legends and myths as well as in symbols. The “Therapeutae” were able to look into the spiritual world. Augustin experienced an awareness of the Divine. Today spiritual observation can be expressed in the logical terms of external science. It is the mission of spiritual science to ascend into the spiritual world by developing the hidden forces of the soul.
II.The Mission of Anger December 05, 1909
There are hidden faculties in the soul. Soul and spirit can issue only from soul and spirit. The fact of repeated earth lives is a consequence of this. The sentient soul is connected with the sentient body, the Intellectual soul with the ether body and the consciousness soul with the physical body. In the sentient soul lie images, antipathy and sympathy. The intellectual soul forms thoughts and judgements with the outside world. We have to make ourselves as many-sided as possible and overcome egoism. Anger can educate the human being to calmness and true gentleness. Prometheus brought language, knowledge, writing and fire to mankind, all of them gifts which educate the ego. The wrath of Zeus extinguishes the power of the ego in Prometheus. Zeus is succeeded by Christ, anger by the loving ego.
III.The Mission of Truth October 22, 1909
The ego is confined between losing itself and egoism. Lessing demands that man strive for truth. A sense of truth leads to selflessness. The one-sided point of view does not lead to truth. Passions, desires, have to be overcome; to the same extent peace and harmony rules among man. There is the truth of reflective thought about outer observation, as well as truth which comes about by creative thought. Among the latter are the truths of spiritual science. Reflective thinking can lead to egoism; truths arrived at by creative thinking, which lead into the future, liberate us from our self. This is the contrast between Epimetheus and Prometheus. Both the Titan brothers must work together. Wisdom and the Word have to unite with the Deed.
IV.The Mission of Reverence October 28, 1909
The “Unio mystica” is the union with the eternal-feminine within human reach. The human being should strengthen his ego but he must not harden it into egoism. The will is able to develop devotion towards the unknown, the feeling develops love for the unknown. When both are united reverence comes into being, which leads to knowledge of the unknown. Love without judgement leads to sentimental enthusiasm. Love and devotion imbued with the right kind of self-feeling lead upwards. Gestures of reverence are the bended knee, folded hands, the lifted face. The soul purifies within itself a feeling for what is beautiful and what is good. The will, purified by reverence, builds up moral ideals. In old age the strength arises to be active in life. We draw near to the Almighty, Increasingly rich knowledge is the result of educating the consciousness soul. The “eternal-masculine” must permeate all reverence. The strong ego ascends to higher regions.
V.Human Character March 14, 1909
The divisions in the being of man must be overcome by the unified character. At its foundation lies the harmony brought forth by the ego from the interaction of the three soul members. The human being ripens through experience and wisdom learnt from life. Experiences are transformed into abilities. They are limited by the disposition of the physical and ether bodies. The forces which we have woven into archetype can only enter existence in a new life. The outer is an expression of the inner being. Laocoon, an image of the human being from which the ego is absent. True ripeness of experience is not attained until the 35th year of age. Joy and love fill the physical body of the child with strength. Then there are fewer obstacles for the ego in the period of the consciousness soul. Similar links exist between the ether body and the intellectual soul and the periods when they manifest themselves. The experience of authority in the period from 7 to 14 provides the foundation for courage. The ideals presented to the human being in the period from 14 to 21 are imprinted on the sentient soul. Immersion in the cosmic secrets further remoulds the character. Character is evident in facial expression, the physiognomy and the formation of the skull.
VI.Asceticism and Illness November 11, 1909
Spiritual science asks how can the human being surpass the limits of his knowledge at a given time by developing his abilities. The human being requires the stimulus of the outside world for the development of his consciousness. But he can strengthen the inner members of his being in such a manner that he retains consciousness in them without stimulus from the outside world. A first exercise is symbolic concepts, such as the rose-cross. Such an exercise is asceticism in the true sense. The human being may reject the spiritual for reasons of self-preservation if it were to throw his mind into confusion. It would be self-destructive to accept knowledge of the spiritual world purely for sensationalism. It is the wrong type of asceticism to weaken the body and not work on the soul. False images of one's own being are the result. Illness can be a symptom for a faulty relationship between body and soul. By strengthening the forces of the soul healing forces can be given to the body.
VII.Human Egoism November 25, 1909
For Goethe the human being is the summit of existence. The ego is the bearer of justified and unjustified egoism. If the human being places his experiences at the disposal of mankind he is a microcosm. If he does not do this, then he becomes hardened. The wrong kind of egoism leads to a desolate existence. All great truths have a health-giving effect on the soul. Feelings which develop understanding for the outer world strengthen the life-forces. Our strength of soul develops out of ourselves the world of our actions. In the human being the higher human being is born. Wisdom gained by insight into the world passes into the will. In “Wilhelm Meister” Goethe shows the nature of egoism. Mignon is a being which is not yet an ego. The “Beautiful Soul” initially shows a refined form of egoism. But then she experiences the course of Christ's life. The human being can understand the great world around him only when his own enriched inner being flows out into the environment. Spiritual forces guide the human being. In the “Years of Travel” various tales and much wisdom is interspersed. In the “pedagogical province” the significance of veneration is shown. Makarie experiences the universe. Self-knowledge can become world-knowledge and world knowledge can lead to self-knowledge.
VIII.Buddha and Christ December 02, 1909
Buddha speaks only about the means whereby man can come to an existence satisfying in itself. In the conversation between Nagasena and King Milinda the former shows how only effects pass from one earth-life to the next. Buddhism turns away from the physical world. The Christian carries the results of an earth-life into the next. Buddha sees the suffering which assails the human being from outside. The human being must fight the thirst for existence by means of the eight-fold path. Buddha wants release from the suffering of existence. Christianity is the religion of rebirth on a spiritual level. The East is non-historical, the West historical. Christianity sees the aim of development in that all the gains of earth-lives shine forth in ever higher levels of perfection and are resurrected at the end of earth-existence. It is Christian to overcome the error that the outside world is merely Maya. Everything which we experience in the incarnations must be developed in order that it may experience resurrection in the spiritual sense. At the time of Christ the old clairvoyance wanes. In its place the culture of the ego arises. The beatitudes point the way to the ego, to the divine part in the human being. The death of Christ is the starting-point for an immortal life. In the last instance Faust ascends from death to life. In Goethe a Christianity of the future appears.
IX.Something about the Moon in the Light of Spiritual Science December 09, 1909
The “moon controversy” between Fechner and Schleiden. Fechner collated many observations on the rhythm of the moon. Goethe was working on meteorological studies. He sees the earth as a being imbued with life. The ego works on the three soul members. The sentient body is connected with man's place of home. The angle at which the sun's rays strike the earth varies from place to place. The ether body is dependent on the change of the seasons. In the far north and in the tropics the intellectual soul is unable to create a useful instrument from the ether body. The physical body develops in the alternation of day and night. Productive periods occur in 14-day rhythms. For the spiritual researcher there are periods when spiritual illuminations surge in on him and others when he penetrates them with his thinking. The earth holds the moon in orbit. The forces of the moon work to prepare the bearers of the soul. The human being transforms the external rhythm into an internal one. The tides are caused by deeper forces in the earth. The embryonic period is determined by ten lunar months.