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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Metamorphoses of the Soul II
GA 59

These lectures deal with spiritual science and language, laughing and weeping, mysticism, prayer, sickness and healing, the “positive” and “negative” human being, error and mental disorder, human conscience, and the mission of art.

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 (Nos. Bn/GA/CW 58 and Bn/GA/CW 59 in the Bibliographical Survey, 1961). It was translated by C. Davy and C. von Arnim. The original translation was by George Metaxa.

I.Spiritual Science and Language January 20, 1910
The significance and dignity and the nature of the human being are connected with language. It transmits thoughts, feelings and will impulses to our fellow human beings and creates a link between them and ourselves. National character, too, is expressed therein. The origin of language lies before the birth of the ego. Spiritual beings formed the speech organs and fashioned the human body such that speech could develop. The forces of the astral body, ether body and physical body are active in language. By means of the physical body we imitate outer impressions. The ether body works symbolically, in the image. The inner experiences of the astral body transform the sounds further. Lastly, the ego exerts its being on language. An atomistic element is present in Chinese, symbolism in the Semitic languages and experience of the self in the Indo-Germanic ones. Spiritual science has a fruitful effect on style in language. Language will be able to mediate the super-sensible vision of the soul.
II.Laughing and Weeping February 03, 1910
Daytime existence wants to create unity between the ego and the rest of the world. The ego extends its activity into the physical body in blanching and blushing. The smile arises through an expansion of the astral body, by transcending over events which happen around one. When things are withdrawn from the astral body the ego compresses it and tears flow. The animal can merely howl and grin. In weeping the inhaled breath becomes shorter and the exhaled breath longer. In laughing the reverse takes place. Jehovah caused breath to flow into the human being, thus creating the ego. Laughing and weeping contain the means which educate the forces of the ego. Tragedy strengthens the ego. Comedy liberates the ego.
III.What is Mysticism? February 10, 1910
Mysticism begins with Meister Eckhart and reaches a climax with Angelus Silesius. The mystic searches within himself for the divine ground of the world, the event of Christ's life and death, an inner awakening. The other path, which penetrates the veil of the outer world, leads to the wealth of outer phenomena. The inner path leads to an experience of unity, the outer path to an experience of diversity. The experiences of the mystic are influenced by national character and by his past experiences. Mystical knowledge cannot easily turn into general knowledge of the world. The knowledge of spiritual science leads to Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. Contemplation of the Rose Cross. Spiritual-scientific knowledge avoids the disadvantages both of mysticism and of a monadical view.
IV.The Nature of Prayer February 17, 1910
Prayer is a preliminary stage of mystical contemplation and the latter is a preliminary stage of spiritual research. Two streams meet in the soul: one from the future and one from the past. We carry in us the legacy of our past, of our deeds, our feeling and our thinking. May a feeling for the divine awaken in us which guides us to a spiritual and divine ego. Similarly we feel that the soul will have a richer content in the future. The view into the past awakens reverence which leads to devotion to God. Strength with regard to future events gives a feeling of humbleness and peace of soul. Prayer is among the forces which develop the ego. It has a warming and illuminating effect. In prayer we find ourselves. If the higher ego is in conflict with the lower ego within us prayer acts like the dawn after a dark night. Prayer can give wisdom, deepen feeling, strengthen the will. The seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer embrace all the wisdom of the world. It can also be the subject of meditation and concentration. The influence of prayer over a number of years can change the course of a life. There is heightened spiritual power in congregational prayer. In art the ode acts in the manner of prayer and the cathedral is like a prayer expressed in stone. Prayer prepares a mood of eternity.
V.Sickness and Healing March 03, 1910
Of the human being we observe the physical body externally and the astral body inwardly. The ether body is intermediary between both. The ego acts from the inside to the outside. In sleep the inner human being separates from the outer. During that period we gather the forces we require during the day. Our experiences turn into ability and wisdom. Love develops as the essential extract of experiences. We cannot change the form of our physical and ether bodies. Development is essentially restricted to the soul. Gestures and physiognomy are changed by reflection over a long period of time. Soul and spirit originates from soul and spirit. This leads to the principle of repeated earth lives. Soul and spiritual qualities of earlier periods determine our experiences in the present. After death the human being forms the archetype for his next physical and ether bodies. We can incorporate the fruits of our present existence into a future body. Breaching our limitations lies at the root of sickness. Reason can enter a disharmonious relationship with outer events. It lacks the ripening of experience. The outer human being can be restored to health either by outer means or by strengthening the inner human being to such a degree that it can restore the outer human being. At the occurrence of death the harmony between outer and inner human being could not be re-established. It is a duty to heal. But death, too, is beneficial when it occurs at the end of an illness.
VI.Positive and Negative Man March 10, 1910
A positive human being is not influenced by outer impressions. A negative human being easily submits to outer impressions. The positive human being can become rigid and the negative one can undergo a complete change. A positive human being can be completely insensitive to art treasures whilst a negative human being can give himself up to such impressions such that chaos reigns. Negative traits have to be assimilated in the soul in order to enable further development. The negative human being can also assimilate dangerous elements. Man becomes a different being when he surrenders to the “mass soul”. The student of the spirit must be able to open himself to new impressions. Special diets can reduce the burden of bodily nature. But one becomes accessible not only to good, but also to bad influences. Spiritual exercises must be accompanied by the study of spiritual science. The soul becomes negative when it neglects to cultivate a healthy judgment. Spiritual science cultivates the positive. The human being develops by changing from a positive mood to a negative one in order to become positive on a higher level. The tragedy meets negative feeling and transforms it into positive one.
VII.Error and Mental Disorder April 28, 1910
Knowledge is possible only within certain limits. Normal soul-life can turn abnormal. Sentient, intellectual and consciousness soul are soul members. Sentient soul and sentient body, intellectual soul and ether body, consciousness soul and physical body are related. If the sentient body becomes independent, images automatically appear. Disorder is caused in the intellectual soul when the human being only applies his own logic and not the facts. Thus he is saturated by the laws of error. A distinction must be made between the true self and inherited characteristics. Disorders of the consciousness soul are megalomania and paranoia. A strong soul-life can gain the upper hand over a sick outer being. The wrong kind of physical exercise can strengthen the body but leave the soul weak. Spiritual research is not exhausting. Wrong education causes disorders such as schizophrenia and senile dementia. Spiritual science is a remedy against a bodily nature which is sick.
VIII.Human Conscience May 05, 1910
Art is a necessary element for an existence of human dignity. It must be elevated to the level of a serious and dignified human concern. Conscience is the voice of God in the human soul. It appears as something holy in the human breast. It speaks intimately of what the human being should do and leave. Fichte points to the eternal fundamental kernel of man. Socrates does not yet possess this. He holds that virtue is something to be taught. The ego is the focus of the forces of the soul. At one time a higher ego was working in our bodily sheaths, the human being saw himself as a member of the spiritual world. When a man committed an evil deed he beheld its shamefulness as a ghostly vision. This vision of good and bad deeds became transposed into his inner life. At first he saw how he had disturbed the cosmic order. Then the cosmic spirit powerfully revealed itself to his inner life. In Aeschylus the Erinyes still appear. With Euripides conscience appears. Through Christ the human being learns to understand the connection with the Divinity in his inner being.
IX.The Mission of Art May 12, 1910
For Goethe the highest works of art are also the highest works of nature “There is necessity, there is God”. Similarly, Richard Wagner seeks to give something to mankind which is related to the foundations of existence by the work of art. Homer invokes the Muses. At one time mythological events were reality for man. He felt spiritual powers enter and leave his being, arousing in him thoughts, feelings and will-impulses. In Homer the poetic imagination remains a substitute for the ancient clairvoyance. The ego developed strongly in Italy and Sicily. The image, picture, developed in the East, the hymn in the West. In Greece both meet. The epic arises. The drama originates with Aeschylus. The ego emerges in the ode and the hymn with the Orphic devotees. The development from Aeschylus to Dante. Plato relates wisdom to the sentient soul. She-wolf, lion and lynx are the shadow-sides of the soul members. Shakespeare's figures no longer show any divine traits. Goethe's Faust is fundamentally everyman. The ego immerses itself into the divine world. Poetry rises to eternal spheres. Art finds entry again to the spiritual world. For Goethe truth and beauty are revelations of the divine Idea. Art is called upon to transform the parable of the transient with the message of the eternal.