The Influence of Spiritual Beings Upon Man
11 June 1908, Berlin
In our last study evenings various aspects were brought forward which all pointed to the hidden co-operation between man and the spiritual worlds. Spiritual beings are actually around us continually, and not only around us but, in a certain respect, continually passing through us; we live with them all the time. We must not suppose, however, that a relation is established between man and the spiritual beings of his environment, merely in the somewhat cruder respect which we considered in our last studies. A relation is also formed between man and the spiritual world through his many varied interests of thought and deeds. In our last two studies we have had to indicate spiritual beings of a somewhat subordinate character. But from earlier lectures we know that we also have to do with spiritual beings who stand above man and that connections and relationships likewise exist between man and more sublime spiritual beings. We have said that there are lofty spiritual beings living around us who do not consist of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and so on, upwards, as man, but who have an etheric body as their lowest member. They are invisible to ordinary sight since their bodily nature is a fine etheric one and man's gaze looks through it. And then we come to still higher spiritual beings whose lowest member is the astral body, presenting an even less dense bodily nature.
All these beings stand in a certain relation to man, and the main point for us today is this: Man can positively so act as to come into quite definite relations to such beings here in his life on earth. According as men here on the earth do this or that in their situation in life, so do they establish all the time relationship with the higher worlds, however improbable that may seem to the man of the present enlightened age — as one says — which is not in the least enlightened in regard to many deep truths of life.
Let us take in the first place beings who have as their lowest bodily nature an etheric body, who live around us in this fine etheric body, and send down to us their forces and manifestations. Let us set such beings mentally before us and ask ourselves: Can man do something on this earthly planet — or better — have men from time immemorial done something so as to give these beings a link, a bridge, through which they come to a more intensive influence upon the whole human being? Yes, from time immemorial men have done something towards it! We must go deeper into many feelings and ideas that we touched on in the last lectures if we would form a clear thought about this bridge.
We picture then that these beings live, so to speak, out of the spiritual worlds and extend their etheric body forward from there; they need no physical body like man. But there is a physical bodily element through which they can bring their etheric body into connection with our earthly sphere — an earthly bodily element which we can set up and which forms a bond of attraction for these beings to descend with their etheric bodies and find an opportunity to dwell among men.
Such opportunities for spiritual beings to dwell among men are given, for instance, by the temple of Greek architecture, the Gothic cathedral. When we set up in our earthly sphere those forms of physical reality with the relationship of lines and forces possessed by a temple or a plastic work of sculpture, then these form an opportunity for the etheric bodies of these beings to press on all sides into these works of art which we have set up. Art is a true and actual uniting link between man and the spiritual worlds. In those forms of art expressed in space we have on earth physical bodily conditions into which beings with etheric bodies sink down.
Beings which have the astral body as their lowest member need, however, something different here on earth as the bond between the spiritual world and our earth, and that is the art of music, the phonetic art. A space through which streams musical tones is an opportunity for the freely-changing, self-determined astral body of higher beings to manifest in it. The Arts and what they are for man thus acquire a very real significance. They form the magnetic forces of attraction for the spiritual beings whose mission it is to have a connection with man, and who wish to have it. Our feelings are deepened towards human artistic creation and acquire an appreciation of art when we look at things in this way. Yet they can be deepened still more if we realize from spiritual science the true source of man's artistic creation and artistic appreciation. To come to this realization we must consider in somewhat more detail the different forms of man's consciousness.
On various occasions, as you know, we have pointed out that in the waking man the physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego are all before us, while in the sleeping man the physical and etheric bodies lie on the bed, the ego and astral body are outside them. For our present purpose it will be well to observe in more detail these two states of consciousness which alternate for everyone within twenty-four hours. In the first place man has the physical body, then the etheric or life body, then what we call roughly the astral body, the soul body, which belongs to the astral body but is united with the etheric body. That is the member which is possessed too by the animal here below on the physical plane. But then we know — and you can read it in my Theosophy — that united with these three members is what one generally comprises under “I.” The “I” is actually a threefold being: sentient soul, intellectual or mind soul, consciousness soul, and we know that the consciousness soul is again connected with what we call spirit-self or Manas. If we place this more particularized membering of the human being before us then we can say:
What we call the sentient soul — which moreover belongs to the astral body and is of astral nature — detaches itself when man goes to sleep, but a part of the soul body remains in connection with the etheric body that lies on the bed. What is essentially withdrawn is sentient soul, intellectual or mind soul, and consciousness soul; with the waking man all this is bound together and active in him all the time. Thus whatever goes on in the physical body works on the whole inner nature, on sentient soul, intellectual soul, and also on the consciousness soul. All that works upon man in ordinary life with its disorder and chaos, the disordered impressions which he receives from morning to evening — only think of the impressions from the din and rattle of a great city — these are all continued into the members which in waking consciousness are united with the physical and etheric bodies. In the night man's inner being — sentient soul, intellectual soul, consciousness soul — is in the astral world and from there draws for itself the forces and harmonies which have been lost for it through the chaotic impressions of the day. What in a comprehensive sense we call man's ego-soul is thus in a more ordered, more spiritual world than during the day. In the morning the inner soul nature emerges from this spirituality and enters the three-fold bodily nature of physical body, etheric body and that part of the astral body which is united with the etheric body, even during the night.
Now if man were never to sleep, that is, were never to draw fresh strengthening forces out of the spiritual world, then everything living in his physical body and permeating it with forces would become increasingly undermined. Since, however, a strong inner nature submerges every morning into the forces of the physical body, new order enters, one might say there is a rebirth of the forces. Thus man's soul element brings with it from the spiritual world something for each of the body's members, something which works when the inner soul nature and the outer physical instrument are together.
Now what takes place in the interaction of the soul inwardness and the actual physical instrument is able — if man is sensitive in the night for the reception of the harmonies in the spiritual world — to permeate the forces — not the substances — of the physical body, with what one might call the “forces of space.” Since in our present civilization man is so much estranged from the spiritual world, these “space-forces” have little effect upon him. Where the inner being of the soul clashes with the densest member of the human body, the forces have to be very strong if they are to manifest in the robust physical body. In older culture-epochs the soul brought back impulses with it that permeated the physical body and men therefore perceived that forces were always going through physical space, that it was by no means an indifferent empty space but interwoven by forces in every direction. There was a feeling for this distribution of forces in space which was caused through the relationships that have been described. You can realize this through an example.
Think of one of the painters belonging to the great times of art when there was still a strong feeling for the forces working in space. You could see in the work of such a painter how he paints a group of three angels in space. You stand before the picture and have a definite feeling: These angels cannot fall, it is obvious that they are hovering, they support each other mutually through the active forces of space. People who make this inner dynamic their own through that interaction of the inner soul and the physical body have the feeling: That must be so, the three angels maintain themselves in space. You will find this in the case of many of the older painters, less so in more recent ones. However greatly one may esteem Bocklin, the figure which hovers above his “Pieta” produces in everyone the feeling that at any moment it must tumble down, it does not support itself in space.
All these forces going to and fro in space which are to be felt so strongly are realities, actualities — and all architecture proceeds out of this space-feeling. The origin of genuine architecture is solely the laying of stone or brick in the lines there already in space — one does nothing at all but make visible what is already present in space ideally, spiritually laid out; one fills in material. In the purest degree this feeling of space was possessed by the Greek architect who brought to manifestation in all the forms of his temple what lives in space, what one can feel there. The simple relation, that the column supports either the horizontal or the sloping masses — embodied lines, as it were — is purely a reproduction of spiritual forces to be found in space, and the whole Grecian temple is nothing else than a filling-out with material of what is living in space. The Greek temple is therefore the purest architectural thought, crystallized space. And however strange it may seem to the modern man, because the Greek temple is a physical corporeality put together out of thoughts, it is the opportunity for those figures whom the Greeks have known as the figures of their Gods to come with their etheric bodies into real contact with the spatial lines familiar to them and be able to dwell within them.
It is more than a mere phrase to say that the Grecian temple is a dwelling-place of the God. To someone having a real feeling in such matters the Greek temple has a quality that makes one picture that far and wide no human being existed, nor was there anyone inside it. The Greek temple needs no-one to observe it, no-one to enter it. Think to yourself of the Greek temple standing alone and far and wide there is no-one. It is then as it should be at its most intensive. Then it is the shelter of the God who is to dwell in it, because the God can dwell in the forms. Only thus does one really understand Greek architecture, the purest architecture in the world.
Egyptian architecture — let us say, in the Pyramids — is something quite different. We can only touch on these things now. There the spatial relations, the space-lines, are so arranged that in their forms they point the paths to the soul to float up to the spiritual worlds. We are given the forms that are expressed in the Egyptian Pyramids from the paths taken by the soul from the physical world into the spiritual world. And in every kind of architecture we have thoughts that are only to be understood by spiritual cognition.
In the Romanesque architecture with its rounded arches, which has formed churches with central and side naves, with transept and apse, so that the whole is a Cross and closed above by the cupola, we have the spatial thoughts derived from the tomb. You cannot think of the Romanesque building as you think of the temple. The Greek temple is the abode of the God. The Romanesque building can only be thought of as representing a burial place. The crypt requires men in the midst of life to stand within it, yet it is a place that draws together all feelings relating to the preservation and sheltering of the dead. In the Gothic building you have again a difference. Just as it is true that the Grecian temple can be thought of with no human soul anywhere near — though it is inhabited, being the abode of the God — so is it true that the Gothic cathedral closed above by its pointed arches is not to be imagined without the congregation of the faithful within. It is not complete in itself. If it stands solitary, it is not the whole. The people within belong to it with their folded hands, folded just as the pointed arches. The whole is only there where the space is filled by the feelings of the pious faithful.
These are the forces becoming active in us and felt in the physical body as a feeling of oneself-in-space. The true artist feels space thus and molds it architecturally.
If we now pass upwards to the etheric body, we again have what the inmost soul assimilates at night in the spiritual world and brings with it when it slips again into the etheric body. What is thus expressed in the etheric body is perceived by the true sculptor and he impresses it into the living figure. That is not the space-thought but rather the tendency to show by the living form what nature has offered him. The greater understanding possessed by the Greek artist, in his Zeus, for example, has been brought with him out of the spiritual world and made alive to him when it comes in contact with the etheric body.
Further, a similar interaction takes place with what we call the soul body. When the inner soul nature meets with the soul body there arises in the same way the feeling for the first elements of painting, as the feeling for the guidance of the line. And through the fact that in the morning the sentient soul unites with the soul body and permeates it, there arises the feeling for the harmony of color.
Thus to begin with we have the three forms of art which work with external means, taking their material from the outer world.
Now since the intellectual or mind soul takes flight into the astral world every night, something else again comes about. When we use the expression “intellectual soul” in the sense of spiritual science, we must not think of the dry commonplace intellect of which we speak in ordinary life. For spiritual science “intellect” is the sense for harmony which cannot be embodied in external matter, the sense for harmony experienced inwardly. That is why we say “intellectual or mind soul.” Now when this intellectual or mind soul dips every night into the harmonies of the astral world and becomes conscious of them in the astral body — though this same astral body in modern man has no consciousness of its inner nature — then the following occurs. In the night the soul has lived in what has always been called the “Harmony of the Spheres,” the inner laws of the spiritual world, those Sphere Harmonies to which the ancient Pythagorean School pointed and which one who can perceive in the spiritual world understands as the relationships of the great spiritual universe. Goethe too pointed to this when he lets Faust at the beginning of the poem be transported into heaven, and says:
“The sun, with many a sister-sphere,
Still sings the rival psalm of wonder,
And still his fore-ordained career
Accomplishes, with tread of thunder.”
And he remains in imagery when in Part II, where Faust is again lifted into the spiritual world, he uses the words:
“And, to spirit ears loud ringing,
Now the new-born day is springing.
Rocky portals clang asunder,
Phoebus' wheels roll forth in thunder.
What a tumult brings the light!
Loud the trump of dawn hath sounded,
Eye is dazzled, ear astounded,
The Unheard no ear may smite.” 1Latham's translation
That is to say, the soul lives during the night in these sounds of the spheres and they are enkindled when the astral body becomes aware of itself. In the creative musician the perceptions of the night consciousness struggle through during the day consciousness and become memories — memories of astral experiences, or in particular, of the intellectual or mind soul. All that men know as the art of music is the expressions, imprints, of what is experienced unconsciously in the sphere harmonies, and to be musically gifted means nothing else than to have an astral body which is sensitive during the day condition to what whirs through it the whole night. To be unmusical means that the condition of the astral body does not allow of such memory arising. It is the instreaming of tones from a spiritual world which man experiences in the musical art. And since music creates in our physical world what can only be kindled in the astral, I therefore said that it brings man in connection with those beings who have the astral body as their lowest member. With these beings man lives in the night; he experiences their deeds in the sphere harmonies and in the life of day expresses them through his earthly music, so that in earthly music the sphere harmonies appear like a shadow image. And in as much as the element of these spiritual beings breaks into this earthly sphere, weaves and lives through our earthly sphere, they have the opportunity of plunging their astral bodies again into the ocean waves of music, and so a bridge is built between these beings and man through art. Here we see how at such a stage what we call the art of music arises.
Now what does the consciousness soul perceive when it is immersed in the spiritual world at night — though in the present human cycle man is unconscious of it? It perceives the words of the spiritual world. It receives whispered tidings which can be received from the spiritual world alone. Words are whispered to it and when they are brought through into the day consciousness they appear as the fundamental forces of the poetic art. Thus poetry is the shadow image of what the consciousness soul experiences in the night in the spiritual world. And here let us realize in our thoughts how through man's connection with the higher worlds — and only so — in the five arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, he brings into existence on our earthly globe adumbrations, manifestations of spiritual reality. This is only the case, however, when art is actually lifted above mere outer sense perception. In what one today speaking broadly calls naturalism, where man merely imitates what he sees in the outer world, there is nothing of what he brings with him. The fact that we have such a purely external art in many fields today, copying only what is outside, is a proof that men in our time have lost connection with the divine spiritual world. The man whose whole interest is merged in the external physical world, in what his external senses hold alone to be of value, works so strongly on his astral bodily nature through this exclusive interest in the physical world, that this becomes blind and deaf when it is in the spiritual worlds at night. The sublimest sphere sounds may resound, the loftiest spiritual tones may whisper something to the soul, it brings nothing back with it into the life of day. And then men scoff at idealistic, at spiritual art, and maintain that art's sole purpose is to photograph outer reality, for there alone it has solid ground under its feet.
That is the way the materialist talks since he knows nothing of the realities of the spiritual world. The true artist talks differently. He perhaps will say: When the tones of the orchestra sound to me, it is as if I heard the speech of archetypal music whose tones sounded before there were yet human ears to hear them. — He can say too: In the tones of a symphony there lies a knowledge of higher worlds which is loftier and more significant than anything which can be proved by logic, analyzed in conclusions.
Richard Wagner has brought to expression both these utterances. He wanted to bring humanity to an intense feeling that where there is true art there must at the same time be elevation above the external sense element. If spiritual science says that something lives in man which goes beyond man, something superhuman that is to appear in ever greater perfection in future incarnations, so does Richard Wagner feel when he says: I want no figures striding over the stage like commonplace men in the earthly sphere. — He wants men exalted above ordinary life and so he takes mythological figures who are formed on a grander scale than normal man. He seeks the superhuman in the human. He wants to represent in art the whole human being with all the spiritual worlds as they shine upon the man of the physical earth. At a relatively early time of life two pictures stood before him — Shakespeare and Beethoven. In his artistically brilliant visions he saw Shakespeare in such a way that he said: If I gather together all that Shakespeare has given to humanity, I see there in Shakespeare figures who move over the stage and perform deeds. Deeds — and words too are deeds in this connection — happen when the soul has felt what cannot be shown externally in space, what lies al-ready behind it. The soul has felt the whole scale from pain and suffering to joy and happiness and has experienced how from this or that nuance this or that deed is performed. In the Shakespearean drama, thinks Richard Wagner, every-thing appears merely in its consequences, where it acquires spatial form, where it becomes deed. That is a dramatic art which alone can display the inner nature externalized; and man can at most guess what lives in the soul, what goes on while the deed is performed.
Beside this there appeared to him the picture of the symphonist, and he saw in the symphony the reproduction of what lives in the soul in the whole emotional scale of sorrow and pain, joy and happiness in all their shades. In the symphony it comes to life — so he said to himself — but it does not become action, it does not step out into space. And he brought before his soul a picture that led him towards the feeling that once upon a time this inner nature had, as it were, broken asunder in artistic creation in order to stream out-wards into the Ninth Symphony.
From these two artist-visions the idea arose in his soul of uniting Beethoven and Shakespeare. We should have to travel a long road if we would show how through his unique handling of the orchestra Richard Wagner sought to create that great harmony between Shakespeare and Beethoven so that the internal expresses itself in tone and at the same time flows into the action. Secular speech was not enough for him, since it is the means of expression for the events of the physical plane. The language that alone can be given in the tones of song became his expression of what surpasses the physically human as superhuman.
Spiritual Science does not need merely to be expressed by words, to be felt by thoughts; Spiritual Science is life. It lives in the world process, and when one says that it is to lead together the various divided currents of man's soul into one great stream, we see this feeling live in the artist who sought to combine the different means of expression so that what lives in the whole may come to expression in the one. Richard Wagner has no wish to be merely musician, merely dramatist, merely poet. All that we have seen flow down from the spiritual worlds becomes for him a means of uniting in the physical world with something still higher. He has a presentiment of what men will experience when they grow more and more familiar with that evolutionary epoch into which mankind must indeed enter, when spirit-self or Manas unites with what man has brought with him from past ages. And a divining of that great human impulse of uniting what has appeared for ages to be separated lies in Richard Wagner in the streaming together of the individual modes of artistic expression. He had a premonition of what human cultural life will be when all that the soul experiences is immersed in the principle of spirit-self or Manas, when the full nature of the soul will be immersed in the spiritual worlds. It is of profound importance when viewed as spiritual history that in art the first dawn has appeared for mankind for the approach towards the future — a future that beckons humanity, when all that man has won in various realms will flow together into an All-culture, a comprehensive culture. The arts in a certain way are the actual fore-runners of a spirituality which reveals itself in the sense world. Far more important than Richard Wagner's separate statements in his prose writings is the main feature that lives in them, the religious wisdom, the sacred fire which streams through all and which comes to finest expression in his brilliant essay on Beethoven, where you must read between the lines, but where you can feel the breath of air of the approaching dawn.
Thus we see how spiritual science can give a deeper view of what men bring about in their deeds. We have seen today in the field of the arts that there man accomplishes something whereby, if we may say so, the Gods may dwell with him, whereby he secures to the Gods an abode in the earthly sphere. If it is brought to man's consciousness through Spiritual Science that spirituality stands in mutual relationship with physical life — this has been done in physical life by art. And spiritual art will always permeate our culture if men will but turn their minds to true spirituality. Through such reflections the mere teaching, mere world conception of spiritual science is expanded to impulses which can penetrate our life and tell us what it ought to become and must become. For the musical-poetic art it was in Richard Wagner that the new star has first arisen which sends to earth the light of spiritual life. Such a life impulse must increasingly expand until the whole outer life becomes again a mirror of the soul.
All that meets us from without can become a mirror of the soul. Do not take that as a mere superficiality, but as something that one can acquire from spiritual science. It will be as it was centuries ago, where in every lock, in every key, we met with something that reflected what the craftsman had felt and experienced. In the same way when there is again true spiritual life in humanity, the whole of life, all that meets us outside, will appear to us again as an image of the soul. Secular buildings are only secular as long as man is incapable of imprinting the spirit into them. Spirit can be imprinted everywhere. The picture of the railway station can flash up, artistically conceived. Today we have not got it. But when it is realized again what forms ought to be, one will feel that the locomotive can be formed architecturally and that the station can be related to it as the outer envelopment of what the locomotive expresses in its architectural forms. Only when they are architecturally conceived will they be mutually related as two things belonging to each other. But then too it is not a matter of indifference how left and right are used in the forms. When man learns how the inner expresses itself in the outer, then there will be a culture again. There have indeed been ages when as yet no Romanesque, no Gothic architecture existed, when those who bore in their souls the dawn of a new culture were gathered together in the catacombs below the old Roman city. But that which lived within them and could only be engraved in meagre forms in the ancient earth-caves, that which you find on the tombs of the dead, this lit up dimly there and is what then appears to us in the Romanesque arches, the Romanesque pillars, the apse. Thought has been carried forth into the world. Had the first Christians not borne the thought in the soul it would not meet us in what has become world culture. The theosophist only feels him-self as such when he is conscious that in his soul he carries a future culture. Others may ask what he has already accomplished. Then he says to himself: What did the Christians of the catacombs accomplish, and what has grown from it?
The feeble emotional impulse that lives in our souls when we sit together, let us seek to expand it in the spirit, somewhat as the thoughts of the Christians were able to expand to the vaulted wonders of the later cathedral. What we have in the hours when we are together, let us imagine expanded outwardly, carried forth into the world. Then we have the impulses which we should have when we are conscious that spiritual science is no hobby for individuals sitting together, but something that should be carried out into the world. The souls who sit here in your bodies will find, when they appear in a new incarnation, many things already realized. which live in them today. Let us bring such thoughts with us when we are together for the last time in a season and review the spiritual-scientific thoughts of the winter. Let us so transform them that they shall work as culture impulses. Let us seek in this way to steep our souls in feelings and sensations and let that live into the summer sunshine which shows us outwardly in the physical world the active cosmic forces. Then our soul will be able to maintain the mood and carry into the outer world what it has experienced in the worlds of spirit. That is part of the development of the theosophist. Thus we shall again come a step forward if we take such feelings with us and absorb with them the strengthening forces of the summer.