Life Between Death and Rebirth
3. Man's Journey through the Planetary Spheres and the Significance of a Knowledge of Christ
18 November 1912, Hanover
It affords me great pleasure to be with you this evening on the occasion of my presence here in Vienna, which was necessitated by certain other circumstances. As this is a special meeting, I would like to speak about more intimate matters that can only be dealt with in smaller groups long acquainted with spiritual science.
In occult research one cannot check often enough the facts one has repeatedly investigated, and about which one has spoken, for they are facts of the spiritual world that is not easily accessible and comprehensible to man. There is a constant danger of misinterpreting in one way or another, and events may be viewed incorrectly. This is the reason the results obtained must be checked again and again. The principal events of life in the spiritual world have, of course, been known for thousands of years, yet it is difficult to describe them. I am deeply grateful that recently I had the opportunity to concern myself more intimately again with an important aspect of occultism, namely, the realm of life between death and a new birth. It is not so much that new facts come to light, but that one has the possibility to present things in a more exact and accurate way. So today I would like to speak of the period that for super-sensible perception is of the utmost importance, that is, the period between death and rebirth. I will not deal so much with the period immediately following death, the kamaloca period, descriptions of which can be found in my writings, but with the succeeding period, the actual sojourn of man in the spiritual world between death and rebirth. This description will be prefaced briefly by the following remarks.
One learns to know the period between death and rebirth either by initiation or by going through the portal of death. Mostly one does not take sufficiently seriously the difference that exists between knowledge acquired in the sense world by means of our senses and intellect and knowledge acquired of the spiritual world, either through initiation in a physical body in this life or without this body when we have gone through the gate of death. In a sense, everything is reversed in the spiritual world. I will refer to two characteristics to show how fundamentally different are the spiritual world and the normal sense world.
Let us consider our existence in the sense world during waking consciousness from morning until night. The objects we perceive by means of our eyes and ears come to us. Only in the higher realms of life, so to speak, in the spheres of knowledge and art, do we have to exert ourselves to participate in drawing things towards us. Apart from this, in the rest of outer life everything from morning until night that impinges on our senses and our intellect is brought to us. Wherever we go, in the street, in the daily round of life, every moment is filled with impressions, and apart from the exceptions mentioned we make no effort to bring them about. They come about of their own accord.
It is different as regards what happens through us in the physical world. Here we have to be active, move from place to place, be on the go. It is an important characteristic of daily life that what is presented to our perception comes to us without our activity. However grotesque it may appear, the opposite is true in the spiritual world. There one cannot be active, one cannot draw anything towards one by moving from one place to another. Nor can one bring anything to one simply by moving a limb — by the movement of a hand, for example. Above all, for something to happen in the spiritual world it is essential that there be absolute calmness of soul.
The quieter we are, the more can happen through us in the spiritual world. We simply cannot say that anything happens in the spiritual world as a result of hurry and excitement. We need to develop loving participation in a mood of soul calmness for what is to happen, and then wait patiently to see how things come to pass. This calmness of soul, which in the spiritual world is creative, does not quite have its equal in ordinary physical life. It is similar on higher levels of earthly existence to the sphere of knowledge and of the arts. Here we have something analogous. The artist who cannot wait will not be able to create the highest he is capable of. For this, he needs patience and inner calmness of soul until the right moment dawns, until the intuition comes. One who seeks to create according to a schedule will produce only works of inferior quality. He who seeks to create, be it the smallest work, prompted by an outer stimulus will not succeed as well as if he had waited quietly with loving devotion for the moment of inspiration. We might say for the moment of grace. The same is true of the spiritual world. In it there is no rush and excitement but only calmness of soul.
Fundamentally, this must also be the way with the growth of our movement. Propaganda campaigns and a desire to force spiritual science on our fellow men are useless. It is best if we can wait until we meet those who inwardly need to hear about the spirit, who are drawn to it. We should not nurture longings to bring everyone to spiritual science. We shall find that the calmer we are, the more people will come to us, whereas forceful propaganda merely puts people off. Public lectures are held only in order that what has to be said should be said and those who wish to receive what is communicated can do so. Our attitude within our spiritual scientific movement must be a reflection of the spiritual so that what has to happen can happen and is awaited with inner silence.
Let us consider an initiate who knew that something was to happen at a particular time out of the spiritual world. I have often drawn attention to an important event that had its origin in the spiritual world but which does not yet reveal itself in a marked way. I refer to the year 1899, the end of the small Kali Yuga. That year brought a certain impulse that was to give mankind the possibility of an inner soul-awakening. In earlier times it was produced by external stimuli from the spiritual world, usually denoted as chance occurrences.
I would like to relate a particular instance. In the twelfth century there lived a certain personality named Norbert, who founded an order. At first he led a worldly, dissolute life. Then one day he was struck by lightning. Such events are by no means rare in history. A flash of lightning can have the effect of shaking up the physical and ether bodies. His whole life was changed. Here we have an example of how an outer happening is used by the spiritual world to alter the course of a man's life. Such chance phenomena are not uncommon. They completely shake up the connection between the physical and ether bodies and radically transform the individual concerned. That was the case in this instance. It is not a question of coincidence. Such events are carefully prepared in the spiritual world so as to bring about a change in a person. Since the year 1899, however, such happenings have taken on a more intimate character. They are less outward and the human soul is deepened more and more inwardly. In fact, in order to produce such a universal revolution as that of 1899, not only all the powers and beings of the spiritual world had to cooperate, but also the initiates who lived on earth. They do not say, “Prepare yourselves.” They do not shout it in people's ears, but they act in such a way that the impulse comes from within so that people learn to understand it from within. Then people remain inwardly calm, concern themselves with such thoughts, allow them to work within the soul, and wait. The more quietly such thoughts are carried in the soul, the more strongly such spiritual events occur. The most important thing is to wait the moment of grace, to wait for what will happen to us in the spiritual world.
It is different in regard to the acquisition of knowledge in everyday life. Here we have to gather things together to work and exert ourselves in order to obtain it. In the physical world the rose we find along the wayside gladdens us. This would not happen on the spiritual plane. There something similar to a rose would not appear unless we had exerted ourselves to enter a particular realm of the spirit in order to draw it towards us. In fact, what we have to do here to act, we do in the spiritual world in order to know, and what has to happen through us has to be awaited in stillness. Only the higher activities of man, where the spiritual world weaves into the physical, afford a reflection of the events in the spiritual world. That is why it is essential, if one wishes inwardly to understand what is imparted by spiritual science, to develop two qualities of soul. Firstly, love for the spiritual world, which leads to an active grasping of the spirit and is the surest way of enabling us to bring the things of the spirit towards us, and secondly, inner rest, a calmness of soul, a silence free from vanity or ambition anxious to attain results, but capable of receiving grace, able to await inspiration. In actual cases this patient expectation is not easy, but there is a thought that can help us to overcome obstacles. It is difficult to accept because it strikes so deeply against our vanity. This thought is that in the universal pattern it is of no importance whether something happens through us or through another person. This should not deter us from doing everything that has to be done. It should not prevent us from performing our duty, but it should keep us from hurrying to and fro. How glad every individual feels that he is capable, that he can do it. A certain resignation is necessary for us to feel equally glad when someone else can and does do something. One should not love something because one has done it oneself, but love it because it is in the world irrespective of whether he or someone else has done it. If we repeatedly ponder this thought it will lead most certainly to selflessness. Such moods of soul are essential to enter into the spiritual world, not only as an investigator but also to understand what has been discovered. These inner attitudes are far more important than visions, although they, too, have to be present. They are essential because they enable us to evaluate the visions rightly.
Visions! One need only mention the word and everybody knows what is meant by it. Actually, the whole of our life after death once kamaloca is over consists of visions. When the human being has gone through the gate of death and kamaloca and then enters the actual spiritual world, he lives in a realm in which it is as if he were surrounded from all sides by mere visions, but visions that are mirror-images of reality. In fact we can say that just as we perceive the physical world by means of colors that the eye conjures forth for us, and sounds mediated by the ear, we experience the spiritual world after death by means of visions in which we are enveloped.
Now, as I wish to speak more intimately of these things, I shall have to use a more descriptive form. Certain things may sound rather strange, but that is how they reveal themselves to genuine spiritual investigation.
The kamaloca period unfolds as I have described it in my book, Theosophy, but it can be characterized also in a different way. One may for instance ask, “When a person has gone through the gate of death, where does he feel himself to be?” One can answer this question by asking, “Where is man during his kamaloca period?” This can be expressed spatially in words that express our physical world. Imagine the space between the earth and the moon, the spherical space described when the orbit of the moon is taken as the outermost path away from the earth. Then you have the realm in which man, loosened from the earth, dwells during the kamaloca period.
It may sound strange, but when the kamaloca period has been completed, a human being leaves this sphere and enters the actual celestial world. Also in this connection, accurate and genuine investigation shows that things are reversed in relation to the physical plane. Here we are bound outwardly to the earth, surrounded by the physical world and separated from the heavenly spheres. After death the earth is separated from us and we are united with the heavenly spheres. As long as we dwell within the Moon sphere we are in kamaloca, which means that we are still longing to be connected with the earth. We proceed beyond it when we have learned through life in kamaloca to forego passions and longings. The sojourn in the spiritual world must be imagined quite differently from what is customary on earth. There we are spread out in space, we feel ourselves in the whole of space. That is why the experience, be it of an initiate or of a person after death, is one of feeling oneself spread out in space, expanding after death (or as an initiate) and being limited by the Moon orbit as by a skin. It is like this and it is of no avail to use words our contemporaries would more easily forgive because by doing so one would not express the facts more correctly. In public lectures such shocking things have to be left out, but for those who have concerned themselves with spiritual science for a longer time it is best to say things plainly.
After the life in kamaloca we grow further out into space. This will depend on certain qualities that we have acquired previously on the earth. A long span of our evolution after death, and our ability to expand to the next sphere, is determined by the moral attitude, the ethical concepts and feelings we developed on earth. A person who has developed qualities of compassion and love — qualities that are usually termed moral — lives into the next sphere so that he becomes acquainted with the beings of that sphere. A man who brings a lack of morality into this realm dwells in it like a hermit. It may be best characterized by saying that morality prepared for us living socially together in the spiritual world. We are condemned to a fearful loneliness, filled with a continual longing to get to know others without being able to do so, as a result of a lack of morality in the physical world of the heart as well as of the mind and will. Either as a hermit or as a sociable being who is a blessing in the spiritual world, do we dwell in this second sphere known in occultism as that of Mercury. Today in ordinary astronomy this is known as the Venus sphere. As has often been mentioned, the names have been reversed.
Now man's being expands up to the orbits of the morning and the evening stars, whereas previously it expanded only to the Moon. Something strange happens at this point. Until the Moon sphere we are still involved in earthly matters is not entirely severed. We still know what we have done on the earth, what we have thought. Just as here we can remember, so we know there. But recollection may be painful! On earth if we have done a person some injustice or have not loved him as much as we should, we can make up for these feelings. We can go to him and put things right. This is no longer possible from the Mercury sphere onward. We behold the relationships in recollection. They remain but we cannot alter them.
Let us assume that a person has died before us. According to the earthly connection we should have loved him, but did not do so as much as we should have done. We meet him again since we were related to him previously because after death we do in fact encounter all the people with whom we were connected. To begin with, this cannot be altered. We reproach ourselves with not having loved him enough, but we are incapable of changing our soul-disposition so as to love him more. What has been established on the earth remains. We cannot alter it. These facts relating to the correct, unchangeable perception of love made a strong impression on me during my recent investigations this summer. Much comes to light that eludes most people. I wanted to convey this to you.
One learns to know these strange facts by means of spiritual cognition. One lives in the Mercury sphere in former relationships with people, and they cannot be altered. One looks back and unfolds what one has already developed.
Although I have concerned myself a great deal with Homer, yet a particular passage became fully clear only during recent occult investigations when the facts described came powerfully to me. It is the passage in which Homer calls the realm after death, “the land of the shades where nothing can change.” It can be understood by the intellect but what the poet seeks to convey about the spiritual world, how he speaks as a prophet, that one only learns to know when the corresponding discovery has been made by means of spiritual research. This is true of every genuine artist. He need not understand with his everyday consciousness what comes to him in inspiration. What humanity has received through its artists in the course of centuries will not fade because of the spreading of our spiritual movement. On the contrary, art will be deepened and mankind will value all the more its true artists when, as a result of occult investigation, the spiritual realm is reached — the realm out of which the artist has drawn his inspiration. Of course, those who at one time or another have been regarded as important artists but are not truly great will not be singled out. Passing greatness will be recognized for what it is. It contains no inspiration from the spiritual world.
The next sphere is termed the Venus sphere in occultism. We now expand our being up to Mercury, which is known as the occult Venus. In this sphere the human being again is strongly influenced by what he brings. He who has something to bring becomes a social being, and he who has nothing to give is condemned to loneliness. A lack of religious inclination is dreadfully painful. The more religious the disposition of soul we have acquired, the more social we become in this sphere. People who lack religious inclination cut themselves off. They cannot move beyond a sheath or shell that surrounds them. Nevertheless, we get to know friends who are hermits, but we cannot reach them. We continually feel as if we have to break through a shell but are incapable of doing so. In the Venus sphere, if we have no religious inwardness, it is as if we were to freeze up.
This is followed by a sphere in which, however strange it may appear, the human being, and this is so for everyone after death, expands up to the Sun. In the not too distant future different concepts will be held about the heavenly bodies from those adhered to by astronomy today. We are connected with the Sun. There is a period between death and rebirth when we become Sun beings. But now something further is necessary. In the first sphere we need moral inclination and in the Venus sphere, a religious life. In the Sun sphere it is essential that we truly know the nature and being of the Sun spirits and above all, the ruling Sun Spirit, the Christ, and that we made a connection with Him on earth.
When mankind still possessed an ancient clairvoyance, this, with the Christ connection, was established by living into the divine grace of the past. This has vanished and the Mystery of Golgotha, prepared by the Old Testament, was there to bring an understanding of the Sun Being to man. Since the Mystery of Golgotha mankind has naively endeavored to draw towards the Christ. Today this no longer suffices. In our time spiritual science must bring an understanding of the Sun Being to the world. It was clearly understood for the first time during the Middle Ages when the Grail Saga found its deeper origin in Europe. Through the understanding given by means of spiritual science what was brought by the lofty Sun Spirit, by the Christ, the Christ Who came down and through the Mystery of Golgotha has become the Spirit of the earth will be retrieved.
The impulse given by the Mystery of Golgotha is destined through spiritual science to unite all religious creeds in peace over the whole earth. It remains the basic challenge of spiritual science to treat all religions with equal attention without giving preference to any of them for outer reasons. Because we place the Mystery of Golgotha at the fulcrum of world evolution, our movement is accused of giving a preference to the Christian religion. Yet this accusation is quite unjustified. Let us understand how matters really stand with such accusations. If a Buddhist or Brahman were to accuse us of this we would say, “Is the only issue what is to be found in sacred writings? Providing one does not reject a religion, is what is not to be found in its books to the detriment of a religion? Cannot every Buddhist accept the Copernican system and yet remain a Buddhist?” To be able to do so is a sign of progress for humanity at large. So is the knowledge that the Mystery of Golgotha stands in the center of the evolution of the world, irrespective of whether it is mentioned in ancient writings or not.
If we understand the Mystery of Golgotha, and realize what happened there, then in the Sun sphere we become sociable spirits. As soon as we have gone beyond the Moon sphere, we are spiritually surrounded by visions. On encountering a deceased friend after death we meet him in the form of a vision, but he dwells in this reality. They are visions, nevertheless, built up on the basis of recollections of what we have done on earth.
Later, beyond the Moon sphere, this is still the case but now the spiritual beings of the higher hierarchies illumine us. It is as if the Sun rose and irradiated the clouds in the Sun sphere. Just as we only learn to know the spiritual hierarchies in the Mercury sphere if we have a religious inclination, so in the Sun sphere we must be permeated by a Jehovah-Christian mood of soul. The outer spiritual beings approach us. Again something remarkable occurs, confirmed by objective occult research. Beyond the Moon the human being is like a cloud woven out of spirit, and when he enters the Mercury sphere, he is illumined by spiritual beings. That is why the Greeks called Mercury the messenger of the Gods. In this sphere lofty spiritual beings illumine man. We gather mighty impressions when we unfold out of the realm of occult investigation what has been given to humanity in the form of art and mythology.
So, Christ-filled, we live into the Sun sphere. As we proceed we enter into a realm where the Sun is now below us, as previously was the earth. We look back towards the Sun, and this is the beginning of something strange. We become aware that we have to recognize yet another being, the spirit of Lucifer.
The nature of Lucifer cannot be rightly evaluated after death unless we have previously done so by means of spiritual science or initiation. It is only when we arrive beyond the Sun sphere that we recognize him as he was before he became Lucifer, when he was still a brother of Christ. Lucifer changed only in the course of time because he remained behind and severed himself from the stream of cosmic progress. His harmful influence does not extend beyond the Sun sphere. Above this there is still another sphere where Lucifer can unfold his activity as it was before the severance. He does not unfold anything harmful there, and if we have united ourselves rightly with the Mystery of Golgotha, we journey onward led by Christ and are rightly received by Lucifer into yet further spheres of the universe. The name Lucifer was correctly chosen, as indeed names were wisely given in olden times. The Sun is below us and so is the light of the Sun. Now we need a new light-bearer who illumines our path into the universe.
Thus, we arrive in the Mars sphere. As long as we dwelt below the Sun, we gazed towards the Sun. The Sun is now below us, and we look out into the widths of universal space. We experience the widths of universal space through what is often referred to but little understood as the harmony of the spheres, a kind of spiritual music. The visions in which we are enveloped hold less and less significance for us. Increasingly what we hear spiritually grows meaningful. The heavenly bodies do not appear as they do in earthly astronomy that measures their relative speeds. In fact, the faster or slower sounding together produces the tones of the music of the spheres. Inwardly the human being feels increasingly that only what he has received of the spirit on earth remains for him in this sphere. This enables him to make the acquaintance of the beings of this sphere and retain his sociability. People who cut themselves off from the spiritual nowadays cannot enter the spiritual world in spite of their moral inclination and religious disposition. Nothing can be done about it, although it is of course possible that such people draw near to the spirit in the next incarnation.
Without exception all materialistically inclined people become hermits once they have gone beyond the Sun into the Mars sphere. It may sound foolish, yet it is true that the Monistic Union will not survive once its adherents have reached the Sun sphere because, as each of them is a hermit, they cannot possibly meet.
A person who has acquired spiritual understanding on earth will have yet another experience on Mars. As we are speaking more intimately today, I shall relate it. The question can be put within our own world conception that we develop as spiritual science in the western world. What has happened to Buddha since his last earthly incarnation? I have mentioned this on previous occasions. Buddha lived as Gautama during his last incarnation six hundred years B.C. If you have studied my lectures carefully you will recall that he has worked since on another occasion when he did not incarnate as Buddha, but only worked spiritually at the birth of the Luke Christ-child. Spiritually he sent his influence from higher spheres unto the earth. But where is he? In Sweden at Norrköping I drew attention to yet another influence of the Buddha on the earth. During the eighth century at a Mystery Center in Europe on the Black Sea, Buddha lived spiritually in one of his disciples. This disciple was later to become Francis of Assisi. So Francis of Assisi was in his previous incarnation a pupil of Buddha and absorbed all the qualities necessary for him to work later in the extraordinary way he did. In many respects his followers cannot be distinguished from those of Buddha, except that the ones were disciples of Buddha and others were Christian. This was due to the fact that in his previous incarnation he was a pupil of Buddha, of the spiritual Buddha. But where is the actual Buddha, the one who lived as Gautama? He became for Mars what Christ has become for the earth. He accomplished a kind of Mystery of Golgotha for Mars and brought about the extraordinary redemption of the Mars inhabitants. He dwells there among them. His earthly life was the right preparation in order to redeem the Mars inhabitants, but his redeeming deed was not quite like the Mystery of Golgotha. It was somewhat different.
Spiritually, man lives in the Mars sphere as indicated. Then he proceeds further and lives into the Jupiter sphere. His connection with the earth, which up until now still continued slightly, has become quite meaningless. The Sun still has a limited influence on him, but now the Cosmos begins to work powerfully upon him. Everything is now working from outside, and man receives cosmic influences. The entire Cosmos works through the harmony of the spheres, which assumes even other forms the further we investigate life between death and rebirth. It is not easy to characterize the change that occurs in the harmony of the spheres. As it cannot be expressed in words, we may use an analogy. The harmony of the spheres transforms itself in the passage from Mars to Jupiter as orchestral music would change into choral music. Jupiter as orchestral music would change into choral music. It becomes increasingly tone, filled with meaning, expressive of its actual being. The harmony of the spheres receives content as we ascend into the sphere of Jupiter, and in the Saturn sphere full content is bestowed upon it as the expression of the Cosmic Word out of which everything has been created and which is found in the Gospel of St. John, “In the beginning was the Word.” In this Word cosmic order and cosmic wisdom sound forth.
Now the one who is prepared proceeds into other spheres — the spiritual person farther, the less spiritual not so far — but he comes into quite a different condition from the previous one. One might characterize it thus. Beyond Saturn a spiritual sleep begins, whereas during the previous stages one was spiritually awake. From now onward consciousness is dimmed, man dwells in a benumbed condition that makes it possible for him to undergo still other experiences. Just as in sleep we do away with tiredness and gather new forces, so as a result of the dimming of consciousness, when we have become a fully expanded spatial sphere, spiritual forces stream in from the cosmos. First we have sensed it, then we have heard it as a universal orchestra. Then it has sung forth and we have perceived it as the Word. Then we fall asleep and it penetrates us. During this period we again travel through all the spheres, but with a dimmed consciousness. Our consciousness becomes ever dimmer. We now contract, quickly or slowly according to our karma, and during this process of contraction we come once more under the influence of the forces emanating from the Sun system. We journey back from sphere to sphere through the cosmos. Now we are not sensitive to influence from the Moon sphere. We proceed, unaffected, unhampered, as it were, and continue to contract until we unite ourselves with the small human germ that goes through its development before birth.
Unless physiology and embryology receive their facts from occult investigation, they cannot contain the truth, for the embryo is a reflection of the vast cosmos. The whole cosmos is carried within it. The human being carries as a potential power within him what happens physically between conception and birth, and also what he undergoes during the period of cosmic sleep.
Here we touch upon a wonderful mystery. It actually only has been indicated or portrayed in our time by artists. In the future it will be understood better. We shall come to experience what really lives in the Tristan story, in the Tristan mood. We shall understand that the whole cosmos streams into the love of Tristan and Isolde, and we shall recognize it truly as the course of man's development between death and rebirth. What has been gathered from the cosmos, from Saturn, influences lovers who are brought together. Many things are turned into cosmic events. They should not be analyzed intellectually, but we should experience what connects man truly to the whole cosmos. That is why spiritual science will certainly succeed in developing a new sense of devotion, a true religion in people, because it will be understood that often the smallest things have their origin in the cosmos. We learn rightly and wisely to relate what lives in the human breast to its origin when we consider its connection with the cosmos. Thus, from spiritual science an impulse can pour out for the whole of life, for the whole of mankind, towards a really new attitude that has to come. Artists have prepared it, but a true understanding must be created first through a spiritual inclination.
I wanted to convey these indications on the basis of renewed, intimate investigations of the life of man between death and rebirth. There is nothing in spiritual science that will not also move us in our deepest feelings. When rightly understood nothing remains a mere abstract representation. The flower we behold gives more joy to us than when the botanist tears it to shreds. The far distant starry world can evoke a vague sensing in us, but the reality only dawns when we are able to ascend into the heavenly spheres with our soul. We rob the plant by our dissection, but not the starry world when we ascend beyond the plant and recognize how the spirit is related to it.
Kant made the remarkable utterance of a man who understands morality in a one-sided way. Two things moved him deeply — the starry heavens above and the moral law within. Both are really the same. We only gather them into us out of heavenly realms. If we are born with a moral inclination, it means that on the return journey during the condition of sleep the Mercury sphere was able to bestow much upon us. It was the Venus sphere, if we are endowed with religious feelings. As every morning on earth we awaken strengthened and refreshed with new forces, so we are strengthened by the forces given by the cosmos, and we receive them in accordance with our karma. The cosmos can bestow forces that are predispositions from birth inasmuch as karma will allow.
Life between death and rebirth falls into two parts. To begin with it is unalterable. We ascend, the beings approach us. We enter into a condition of sleep and then change can occur. The forces now enter with which we are born. Considering the evolution of man in this way, we see that the human being after death first lives in a world of visions. He only learns to recognize later what he really is as a soul-spiritual being. Beings approach us from outside and they illumine us as the golden light of the morning illuminates the things of the outer world. Thus we ascend and the spiritual world penetrates into us. We do not live into the spiritual world from outside until we have become mature enough to experience what we are in our visionary world, until we encounter the beings of the spiritual world who approach us from all sides like rays.
Transfer yourself into the spiritual world as if you could behold it. There a man emerges, in the form of a visionary cloud, as he truly is. Then the beings can approach and illumine him from outside. We cannot see the rose when it is dark. We switch on the light and because the light falls on the rose we can see it as it really is. So it is when the human being ascends into the spiritual world. The light of spiritual beings draws near to him. But there is one moment when he is clearly visible, illumined by the light of the Hierarchies so that he reflects back the whole of the outer world. The entire cosmos now appears as if reflected by man. You can imagine the process. First you live on as a cloud that is not sufficiently illumined, then you ray back the light of the cosmos and then you dissolve. There is a moment when man reflects back the cosmic light. Up to this point he can ascend. Dante says in his Divine Comedy that in a particular part of the spiritual world one beholds God as man. This is to be taken literally, otherwise it would not make any sense at all. One can of course accept it as a beautiful thought, as aesthetes do, and fail to understand its inner content. This is again an instance where we find the spiritual world mirrored in the works of great artists and poets. This is also the case with the great musicians of more recent times, in a Beethoven, a Wagner and Bruckner. It can happen with one as it did with me a few days ago, when I had to resist a certain piece of knowledge because it was too astonishing.
In Florence we find the Medici Chapel where Michelangelo created two memorial statues to the Medici and four allegorical figures representing “Day” and “Night,” “Dawn” and “Dusk.” One easily speaks about a cold allegory, but when one looks at these four figures they appear anything but a cold allegory. One of the figures represents “Night.” Actually, research in this domain is not particularly enlightened, for you will find it mentioned everywhere that of the two Medici statues depicting Lorenzo and Giuliano, Lorenzo is the thinker. But occult investigation has confirmed that the opposite is true. The one said to be Lorenzo by art historians is Giuliano, and vice versa.
This can be proved historically with reference to the natures of the two personalities. The statues rest on pedestals, and it is likely that in the course of time they have been interchanged. But this is not really what I wanted to say. I only draw your attention to this to show that in this respect outer research misses the mark!
The figure “Night” can be made the object of a fine artistic study. The gesture, the position of the resting body with the head supported by the hand, the arm placed on the leg — in fact the whole arrangement of the figure can be studied artistically. We can sum it up by saying that if one wished to portray the human etheric body in its full activity, then one could only represent it in the form of this figure. That is the outer gesture expressing a human being at rest. When man sleeps, the etheric body is most active. In the figure of “Night” Michelangelo has created the corresponding position. This reclining figure represents the most expressive portrayal of the active etheric or life body.
Now let us go over to “Day” which lies on the opposite side. This represents the most perfect expression of the ego; the figure “Dawn,” of the astral body; “Twilight,” of the physical body. These are not allegories, but truths taken from life, immortalized with remarkable artistic penetration. I kept away from this knowledge, but the more accurately I studied it, the clearer it became. I am no longer astonished at the legend that originated in Florence at the time. It tells that Michelangelo had power over “Night” and when he was alone with her in the Chapel she would stand up and walk about. As she represents the etheric body, it is not surprising. I only mention this in order to show how clear and intelligible everything becomes the more we view it from the aspect of occultism.
The greatest contribution to the development of spiritual life and culture will be accomplished when human beings meet in such a way that each presupposes and then senses the occultly hidden in the other. Then will the right relationship be established from man to man, and love will permeate the soul in a truly human way. Man will meet man in such a way that one will sense the sacred mystery of the other. It is only in such a relationship that the right feelings of love can be cultivated.
Spiritual science will not have to stress continually the outer cultivation of general human love, but it will receive by way of genuine knowledge the power of love in the soul of man.