What Does the Angel Do in Our Astral Body?
9 October 1918, Zurich
Anthroposophical comprehension of spirit is not intended to be a merely theoretical world-philosophy, but rather to be the full content and energizing power of life.
And it fulfills its mission only if we so strengthen our anthroposophical apprehension of the world that it becomes fully alive within us.
For in thus uniting our souls with the anthroposophical conception of spirit we have become, in a certain sense, guardians who watch over definite and significant processes in human evolution.
Apart from Anthroposophy, whether men are followers of one system or of another they are as a rule convinced that thoughts and ideas, besides what they are in their own minds, are not also something else in their connection with the outer world. They expect thoughts and ideas, as ideals, to become operative in the world only in proportion as titan, by his deeds in the realm of the senses, succeeds in establishing their value.
The whole anthroposophical attitude presupposes our clear understanding that our thoughts and ideas must find still other means of realization besides the results of our deeds in the outer sense-world.
In the very recognition of this vital necessity lies the demand that the anthroposophist bear his part in watching over the signs of the times. Much is happening in earthly evolution; and upon malt, and particularly upon man in our own time, lies the obligation to gain a genuine under-standing of what occurs in the evolution of the world in which he has been placed.
With regard to a single individual everyone knows that his development must be taken into account, and not the mere outer facts that are about him. Just consider, roughly speaking, the present external facts surrounding human beings who are five years, ten years, twenty, thirty, fifty, or seventy years of age. Vet no one who is reasonable will demand the same attitude towards these things from the five-year-olds, the ten-year-olds, the twenty-year-olds as from men of fifty or seventy. What a man’s reaction to his environment should be can be determined only by taking into consideration his personal development. This is universally admitted in regard to individuals.
But as the individual man is subject to a definite development, having a different kind of powers in childhood, middle life, and old age, just so has general humanity different powers at different periods of its evolution. One is, as it were, sleeping in the midst of the world evolution if one fails to note that humanity, in its essence, is different in the twentieth from what it was in the fifteenth century, or even at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha and earlier. Ignoring of this fact — the idea that one may speak of a mail or of general humanity abstractly, without consideration of their continuous evolving — belongs to the greatest errors, defi-ciencies, and aberrations of our time.
Now it may be asked: How is man to arrive at a more exact insight into these things? You know that we have often discussed one important point in regard to this evolution. The Greco-Latin period, from the 8th century B. C. to about the 15th century of our own era, we have to count as the so-called culture period of the Intellectual or Mind Soul; and the time since the 15th century as the culture period of the Consciousness Soul. This is an essential factor in the evolution of humanity precisely as regards our own time. Thus we know that the principal force in human development from the 15th century until the third millennium is the Consciousness Soul.
But in Spiritual Science, in real Spiritual Science one may never stop at generalities and abstract statements; one must seek at all times to grasp concrete facts. Abstractions are useful only when one is curious in a very ordinary sense. If it is intended to make Spiritual Science into life’s content, into a life-force, you must be more serious than curious, and you must not stop at such abstractions as I have just described. That we are living in the period of the Consciousness-Soul, that the development of the Consciousness-Soul is counted upon, is quite correct and extraordinarily important too, but we must not stop at that.
If we wish to attain to a definite view of these things we must first of all consider somewhat more exactly the essential constitution of man. As men we are divided, in the sense of Spiritual Science and counting from above downward, into the ego or 1, the astral body, the etheric body (which I have latterly called also the body of formative forces,) and the physical body. Among these different members of our human nature we live, for the time being, psychically and spiritually, only in the ego or I. The ego is given to us through our earthly evolution and the Spirits of Form who direct it. Everything, really, that enters our consciousness enters it through our ego. If the ego does not so unfold that it can maintain its connection — even though by means of the bodies — with the outer world, then we have as little consciousness as during sleep. The ego connects us with our environment. The astral body was given to us during the Moon-evolution that preceded the present Earth-evolution: our etheric body during the still earlier Sun-evolution; the physical body, in its inception, during the Saturn-evolution.
But when you go through the description of these bodies in Occult Science you will see in what a complicated way the adjustment of these four members was brought about in order to make man what lie is today. Do we not learn from the facts described in Occult Science that in the formation of the three sheaths of the human being spirits from all possible hierarchies took part? Do we not see that what enfolds its as physical body. etheric body, astral body is of a very very complicated nature? But not only did these hierarchies work together in bringing our vehicles into existence — they are still working within them. And no one understands man who believes him to be only a conjunction of flesh, blood, bones. etc., which natural science, physiology, biology, and anatomy describe.
Approaching the truth of this human sheath-being, seeing him in his reality, we perceive that beings from the higher hierarchies are working together wisely, as predetermined, in all that takes place unconsciously in his bodies. You may gather from the rather sketchy outlines which I have given in my Occult Science that this co-operation of individual spirits from the higher hierarchies in fashioning man must be very intricate in its details. But, nevertheless, if you wish to understand man you must come at these things ever more concretely, more in detail.
Now in this field of research it is extremely difficult even to focus the attention upon a concrete question; they are tremendously complicated, these concrete questions. Just suppose someone were to ask: What is the hierarchy of the Seraphim or of the Dynamis doing in the etheric body of man in the year 1918 of the present cycle of human evolution? For one can as easily ask this question as to ask, for instance, whether it is raining at the moment in Lugano. Of course, one can answer neither of these questions by mere thinking or by mere theories, but only by ascertaining the facts. Just as one must find out by a letter or telegram whether or not it is raining in Lugano, so we must inform ourselves through a real penetration of the facts regarding the present task, let us say, of the Spirits of Wisdom or the Thrones in the human etheric body. Such a question is of extraordinary complexity, and we can only persevere in our gradual approach to the spheres where such questions properly arise. And in this field of inquiry care is taken that man’s wings shall not grow up into the sky, and he become arrogant and proud, in his striving for real knowledge!
The nearest vistas, so to speak, which concern us most directly, are those upon which we can form a definite opinion. But these we ought to see clearly if we do not wish to remain asleep in regard to our own place in human evolution.
So I shall speak to you of a question which is not as vague and indefinite as the question: What are the Dynamis or the Thrones doing in our etheric body? — although this also is very concrete. Instead I shall put before you a question which really concerns men of the present day. This is: What are the angels (those active beings closest to man) doing in this present age within the astral body?
When we look into our inner being we see that the astral body lies nearest to our ego, so it is to be hoped that the reply to this question may vitally concern us. The angels are the hierarchy directly above the human hierarchy itself. So we are asking a moderate question, and later we shall see how we can answer the inquiry: What is being done by the angels in the human astral body, right now in the present age of mankind, which is passing through the 20th century, the period which began in the 15th century and will last into the beginning of the 3rd millennium?
Now what can be said as to the means of answering such a question? One can only say that spiritual research, if earnestly pursued, is not a trifling with concepts or words, but really works into the sphere where the spiritual world becomes perceptible. And anything so close to us may certainly be observed, but this question may be answered profitably only in the age of the consciousness-soul itself.
You might easily think that if this question could have come up in earlier ages and an answer been demanded, that this answer would now be at hand. But neither in the age of atavistic clairvoyance, nor in the Greco-Latin period could this question be answered, for the reason that the soul-pictures obtained by atavistic clairvoyance obscured the observation of the angelic activity in our astral body. There was nothing to be seen, just because of these atavistic pictures; and in the Greco-Latin period, thinking was not yet as forceful as it now is ... thinking has been strengthened, particularly through the era of natural science. So the age of the consciousness-soul is the one in which such questions may be consciously and effectively considered.
The productive quality of our Spiritual Science must be shown in that we do not put people off with theories, but are able to offer knowledge that is definitely applicable to life.
What are the angels doing in our astral body? We can convince ourselves of what they are doing only by rising to a certain degree of clairvoyant observation, so that we see what takes place in our astral body. We must attain at least to a certain degree of imaginative cognition if the formulated question is to be answered.
Then it becomes evident that these beings from the hierarchy of the angels — each angelic individual having its responsibility towards one 1w-man being, but also all working together — form pictures in the human astral body. They produce pictures tinder the guidance of the Spirits of Form
Unless we rise to imaginative cognition we do not realize that images are induced continuously in our astral body. They arise, these pictures, and then fade away. Were they not so created there would he in the future no development for man that would express the intention of the Spirits of Form. What the Spirits of Form propose to accomplish with us during and beyond the Earth evolution they must first model, as it were in images, and later their objective reality will appear in a transformed humanity.
Today the Spirits of Form are already creating these images in the astral body through the angels. The angels form pictures in the astral body upon a plane which man may reach by raising his thinking to clairvoyance. And if we can follow up these pictures, then we see that they are constructed according to definite impulses and principles, and in such a way that in the manner of their inception lie certain forces for the future development of mankind. If we watch the angels at their work (however strange this may sound, we can only express it in that way), if we watch, we shall notice that the angels have in their work a very definite intention in regard to future social conditions on earth. They aim to implant in the astral bodies such images as will bring about in the future certain determined social conditions in the united life of humanity.
Men may resist the admission that angels are releasing within them ideals for the future, but it is nevertheless true. And there is a fundamental principle in this picture-forming by the angels: the fundamental rule that in the future no one is to find peace in the enjoyment of good fortune while others beside him are unhappy. There reigns an impulse of the most perfect fraternity — of brotherhood rightly understood — of the most absolute unification of the human race with relation to social conditions in physical life. That is one standpoint, according to which the im-ages are formed by the angels in the human astral body.
But there is a second impulse with reference to which the angels form these images. They have certain objectives, not only in relation to the outer, social life, but also in relation to the soul itself, and to the soul-life of men. Through pictures imprinted upon the astral body they aim to so affect the soul-life that in the future every man shall see in his neighbor a hidden divinity.
Mark well, my dear friends: the angels intend through their work to bring about changes. These will be such that we shall no longer consider man, either in theory or practice, as a highly developed animal — according to his physical qualities alone. Instead we shall approach everyone with the fully developed realization that in every man something appears that takes its rise in fundamental divine sources, revealing itself through flesh and blood. To conceive of man as a manifestation, a revelation from the spiritual world, as earnestly as possible, as strongly as possible, as intelligently as possible — all this is being put into their pictures by the angels.
When this comes true it will have quite definite results. All the free religious instinct that will unfold in humanity will be founded upon the fact that in every man the image of God will he acknowledged in immediate life practice rather than in mere theory. Then there will be no religious coercion; none will be needed, for then every meeting between men will be as a matter of course a religious act, a sacrament, and no one will need any particular church organization upon the physical plane to support his religious life. The church, if it rightly understands itself, can have but one object: to render itself unnecessary upon the physical plane in that all life is being made into an expression of the supersensible.
To pour out upon mankind complete freedom of the religious life underlies the impulses of the angels’ work.
There is also a third intention: to give to humanity the possibility of attaining to the spirit through thought, through thinking to leap across the chasm, and arrive at direct spiritual experience.
Spiritual Science for the spirit, religious freedom for the soul, fraternity for the body — that resounds like cosmic music through the work of the angels in human astral bodies. Man needs only to lift his consciousness to a different level to feel himself removed to this wonderful workshop of angelic activity.
Now the fact is that we are living in the age of the consciousness-soul, and in this age the angels work within the astral body as I have just described. Man is to come gradually to conscious comprehension of these things. This belongs to human development. 1-low then, does one come to say anything like that which I have just told you? Where, so to say, is this activity to be found?
Well, it is still found today in the sleeping man. It is found in the conditions of normal sleep, and it is also found in waking sleep conditions. I have often explained how men, though supposedly awake, sleep their life away in the midst of most important matters. And I can give you the not very cheering assurance that anyone who goes through life consciously finds today many many sleepers. What is happening in the world they permit to happen, without interesting themselves in it, or troubling themselves about it, or taking any part in it. Great world-events often pass by men, as that which takes place in the city passes by sleepers — although the people are apparently awake. Then, however, if such men, though waking, are wholly unaware of something important, we can see in their astral bodies — quite independently of what they do or do not wish to know — how this important work of the angels goes on, of which I have spoken.
Such things often proceed in a manner which must seem to humanity very puzzling, very paradoxical. Many a man is regarded as quite unworthy to enter upon this or that connection with the spiritual world. But in truth such an one is in this incarnation just a fearful sleepyhead, who dozes through everything that goes on around him. Yet in his astral body one of the company of angels is working for the future of mankind. The astral body is nevertheless made use of, and all this may be observed within it.
But the point is that such a thing as this must force its way into the human consciousness. The consciousness-soul must be lifted to recognition of that which may be found only in this way.
Having accepted these assumptions, you will understand when I now call to your attention that this epoch of the consciousness-soul presses forward to a definite event, and that since it is with the consciousness-soul that we have to do, it will depend upon men how this event takes place in human evolution.
You see, it may come a hundred years earlier or later, but it really would have to enter the sphere of human development. And this happening may be thus described: men must come, purely through their consciousness-soul, through their own conscious thinking, to actual sight of the way in which the angels prepare the future of mankind. What spiritual science teaches on this subject must become the practical worldly wisdom of humanity, so practical that men may be firmly convinced, and of their own knowledge, that the angels intend what I have indicated.
Now the human race is so far advanced in its approach to freedom that it depends upon man himself to face this event in full consciousness, or to sleep it away. What would it mean to meet it in full consciousness? This means the following: It is possible today to study spiritual science; it is there; and it is only necessary to study it. It will be an aid if, in addition, various meditations are used, and such practical directions as are given in Knowledge of she Higher Worlds and its Attainment. But all that is really necessary is to study spiritual science, and consciously and rightly understand it. Without the development of clairvoyance any man may study it understandingly who does not himself set up the obstacle of prejudice. And if men study it ever more and more, assimilating its concepts and ideas, then their consciousness will so awaken that, instead of dozing through important events, they will become aware of them.
These events may be more exactly characterized, for just to know what the angel is doing is only a preparation. The main thing is to realize the threefold truth which mankind is to receive through the angelic activity, and which will make its entrance earlier or later, according to man’s receptivity, or at worst — not at all.
First: It will be shown how man, by means of his most immediate interest can comprehend the deeper side of human nature.
Yes, my dear friends, a moment will come, which men should not lose by sleeping, when they will receive from the spiritual world through their angels a stimulating impulse, which will lead them to feel a much deeper interest in every man than we are inclined to feel today. This heightened interest in our fellow man is not to develop subjectively in man’s usual indolent fashion, but suddenly, as with a leap, through the spiritual infusion of a certain secret — what the other man really is. I mean by this something concrete, not a theoretical abstraction: men will learn something that will arouse their continuous interest in each other. This is the first point in this threefold truth, and it will profoundly affect our social life.
The second point in it will be that the Christ-impulse requires, besides all else, complete religious freedom, and that no Christianity is genuine which does not make this freedom possible. This will be shown to each man spiritually, irrefutably by his angel.
And the third is the indisputable insight into the spiritual nature of the world.
This event, as already stated, is to take place in such a way that the consciousness-soul may acquire a definite relation to it. This is imminent in human evolution, for to this end the angel is working through its images in the astral body.
But I now point out to you that this approaching event is dependent upon the human will. Men may leave many things undone, and many are failing today in much that should lead to a conscious experience of this great moment.
There exist, however, as you know, other beings in universal evolution that have an interest in turning man from his course: the Ahrimanic and Luciferic beings. The divine evolution of mankind includes the development I have described. If man were left to his own nature he would arrive in time at the perception of what the angel is unfolding in his astral body, but the Luciferic influence tends to force man away from this insight into the work of the angels. The Luciferic beings do this by curbing his will. They try to darken man’s understanding of the exercise of his own free will while making him into a good, even a spiritual being — indeed from the point of view which I am considering. Lucifer desires for man goodness, spirituality — but wishes to make it automatic, without free will. Man is to be raised to clairvoyance, in accordance with good principles, but automatically: he is to act as a spiritual reflection, an image of the divine, but without free will and the possibility of evil.
This is connected with definite evolutionary secrets. The Luciferic beings, as you know, have stood still at different stages of development, and they introduce elements foreign to normal evolution. They are interested in taking such a hold upon man that he may not attain to free will because they have never won this for themselves. Free will can be gained only upon earth, and they want to have nothing to do with the earth. They wish only Saturn, Sun. and Moon development — and to stop at that. These Luciferic beings hate in a sense the free will of man. They act in a highly spiritual way, but automatically — this is most significant — arid they want to lift man to their own spiritual height. They want to make him automatic — spiritual, but automatic. From this arises the danger that if man should become an automatic spiritual being before his consciousness-soul functions fully he might miss in the drowsiness of insensibility the revelation that is to come.
But the Ahrimanic Icings also work against this revelation. They do not strive to render man especially spiritual, but rather to kill in him the consciousness of his own spirituality. They try to induce in hint the belief that he is really only a completely developed animal. Ahriman is in reality the great teacher of materialistic Darwinism. He is also the teacher of all that technical and practical activity which admits the value of nothing beyond the external life of the senses, which desires an extensive technology only in order that man may satisfy, with greater finesse, hunger, thirst, and other animal needs. Working upon the consciousness-soul by all sorts of subtle scientific methods; the Ahrimanic beings strive to obscure, to kill in man the realization that he is an image of Deity.
In earlier ages it would have been useless for the Ahrimanic spirits to try in this way through theories to becloud the truth. Why? In the Greco-Latin period, and even more truly in earlier times, when man still possessed atavistic clairvoyance, the manner of his thinking was unim-portant, for he still had the pictures through which he looked into the spiritual world. Whatever Ahriman might have suggested about his relation to the animals would have had no effect upon his conduct. Thinking became powerful — powerful in its weakness, one might say — only in our own fifth post-Atlantean period. Only since the 15th century has thinking been competent to lead the consciousness-soul into spiritual realms — or, on the other hand, to hinder it from entering the spiritual world. Only now are we living in an age when a theory, a science, by a conscious method may rob man of his divinity, or his experiences of divinity. This is possible only in the period of the consciousness-soul. Therefore the Ahrimanic spirits are striving to spread a teaching that will obscure the divine origin of man.
From the description of these influences, adverse to man’s normal divine evolution, it may be gathered how he must order his life, so that he may not permit to pass unobserved the revelation that is to come. For otherwise a great danger will arise. And against this man must be on the alert. or else instead of this momentous event, which is intended to affect powerfully the future form of Earth-evolution, something may take place which would seriously impair it.
You see, certain spiritual beings, attain their own development through maps, concomitantly with man’s unfolding. The angels who produce their images in the human astral body do not 4o this as a game, but in order that thereby something may be achieved. Vet, since results must be sought within humanity, the whole thing would be rendered futile if man, having acquired the consciousness-soul, should deliberately disregard it. The whole thing would become play! The angels would be only playing a game in the development of man’s astral body! Only by coming to realization within humanity does it become, not a game but a matter of serious import.
From this you may learn that the work of the angels must remain earnest under all circumstances. Consider what might be behind the scenes of existence if men could reduce the angelic activity to play, simply through their drowsy insensibility.
And what if that should nevertheless happen! What if humanity should persist in remaining stolidly unaware of the important spiritual revelation of the future! If, for example, men permit to pass unnoticed the middle part — that relating to religious freedom — and so miss the repe-tition of the Mystery of Golgotha upon the etheric plane, of which I have often spoken, the reappearance of the etheric Christ, and other important things; if men should lose all this, then what should be accomplished through pictures in the astral body would have to be brought about by the angels in another way.
If man, by failing to become alert, should prevent what ought to be done in his astral body, then an effort would be made to reach the same results through sleeping human bodies. That which man would remain densely unaware of in his waking condition would be carried out-by the angels with the help of the physical and etheric bodies during sleep. There, forces would be sought in order to produce effects unattainable when the waking soul is within these bodies, but which may be induced while man, who ought to have been awake to these things, is outside his physical and etheric bodies, with his I and astral body.
That is the great danger for the period of the consciousness-soul. That is what might occur if men should not turn to the spiritual life before the beginning of the third millennium! We are separated from it, as you know, by only a brief time, since the third millennium begins with the year 2000. It might come to pass that what the angels are to gain as the result of their labor they would have to seek in the sleeping bodies of men instead of in waking humanity. They might be forced to withdraw all their work from the astral body and submerge it in the etheric body in order to bring it to realization. But man would have no part in this. It would have to be accomplished during his absence from the etheric body, for if he were present in his waking state he would prevent it.
Now I have given you a general idea of the matter. But what would be the result if the angels should be obliged to carry out such work through man’s physical and etheric bodies during sleep without his conscious cooperation?
Its effect upon human evolution would be undoubtedly threefold. First of all there would be engendered in man’s sleeping bodies, in the absence of his Ego and astral body, something not aroused through his free choice, but which he would find present when he awoke in the morning. It would always be present, and it would be instinct instead of conscious freedom, and therefore detrimental. And certain instinctive knowledge, which is to enter human nature, regarding the mysteries of birth, conception, and the entire sexual life, truly threatens to become harmful tinder the dangerous conditions which I have described: that is, the danger that certain angels would themselves then undergo a change, of which I cannot now speak further, since this change belongs to the deeper mysteries of the science of initiation, of which nothing may be given out at present. It may be said, however, that the effect upon human evolution would be such that certain instincts relating to sexual life would arise, not wholesomely in clear waking consciousness, but in a pernicious, destructive way. These instincts would not be mere personal errors, but would pass over into social life, bringing about conditions — through the effects of this sexual life upon the blood — which would prevent men from developing any sort of brotherhood on earth, but instead would cause them to oppose it. This would all be a matter of instinct.
Thus there is coming a decisive point where one may turn to the right, remaining watchful and alert; or to the left — and sleep! But in this latter case instincts will appear that will be horrible!
What will the natural scientists says if such instincts appear? They will say that they are a normal development, an inevitable stage in human evolution. Man cannot be warned of such dangers by natural science for. from the scientific standpoint, it is equally explicable whether men become angels or devils. In regard to either, science says the same thing: the later is derived from the earlier — the great wisdom of the causal explanation! Natural science will he quite unaware of the event of which I have spoken: for if human beings become half-devils through their sexual instincts, science will look upon it as a necessity of nature. In short, the matter cannot he explained scientifically, although whatever may happen, science will regard it as susceptible of explanation.
Such things are to be comprehended only through spiritual insight, by supersensible cognition.
Such would be the first result of the changes evoked within the angelic activity. The second would bring to mankind an instinctive knowledge of certain remedies — but a destructive knowledge!
In a materialistic sense everything connected with medicine would make an enormous advance. Men would have instinctive insight into the curative power of certain substances and combinations, and by this knowledge would do fearful harm. But the harm would be called useful. That which is unhealthy would be called healthy, for it would be discovered that certain processes would have enjoyable results. Certain methods leading in unwholesome directions would simply be found agreeable.
The knowledge of the healing power of various processes would be increased, but would take a harmful direction, for through certain instincts it would also be discovered what kind of diseases could be brought forth by different substances and agencies. And a man could decide, according to his selfishness and egotism, whether to bring about illness or to refrain from doing so.
The third result would be mail’s acquaintance with definite powers by which, with the slightest stimulus — through the harmonizing of certain vibrations — great mechanical forces could be unleashed in the world. A sort of mental guidance of mechanism, of everything of a mechanical nature, would be developed in this way, and the whole technique be led into a vicious channel, which would, however, inordinately please and serve man’s egoism.
That, my dear friends, is a concrete statement of possible developments, and a conception of life and being which can be rightly appreciated only by those who realize that an unspiritual conception of life cannot clarify the situation. If a pernicious medicine were produced, if a terrible aberration of the sex instincts should develop, or an evil motive power in world-mechanics through the application of spiritual powers to natural forces, all unspiritual world-philosophy would not see through it, nor realize its deviation from the true path … just as little as a sleeper, so long as he sleeps, could see the approach of a thief who is coming to rob him. He sees what has happened only when he awakes in the morning — and what a terrible awakening would await mankind! Yet without this awakening man would continue to pride himself upon the broadening of his medical knowledge, and find such satisfaction in certain sex aberrations that lie would praise these errors as superhuman, as freedom from prejudice, as open-mindedness! Ugliness would be beautiful, and beauty ugly in some connections, and it would not be noticed because all this would be looked upon as a natural development. But it would be a wandering from the path which, within humanity itself, is prescribed for man’s essential nature.
I believe, my dear friends, if any feeling has been gained of the way in which spiritual science presses into our whole attitude of mind and soul, that one may also be possessed of the earnestness necessary for the reception of such truths as have been presented today. We may derive from them — as from all aspects of spiritual science — the recognition of a certain responsibility, a life-obligation. Whatever our circumstances, whatever we may have to do in the world, the important point is to be able to preserve this thought: that our actions must be saturated and irradiated by our anthroposophical consciousness. Then we shall contribute something towards the true progress of mankind.
A man is entirely mistaken if he ever believes that true spiritual science, seriously and rightly understood, could ever divert him from the practical, intensive work of life. True spiritual science brings awakening — awakening to the kind of things that I have pointed out today. My dear friends, if we may use the comparison that seeing into the spiritual world is a further awakening, just as ordinary awakening is an awakening from sleep, we can then, in order to understand the comparison, ask this other question: Can the waking state be harmful to our sleep?
Certainly, if it is not what it should be! If a man’s waking life is wholesome he will have healthy sleep, but if his waking hours are stupid, lazy, comfort-loving, without exertion, then his sleep will be unhealthy. And it is just the same with the waking life to which we are attuning ourselves through spiritual science. If through spiritual science we establish in ourselves a proper relation to the spiritual world, this will guide the interests of the ordinary sense-world in right directions, in the same way that a healthy waking life regulates our sleep.
Anyone who considers the life of our own times must indeed be asleep if he remain unaware of several things. How men have boasted, especially in recent years. of their efficiency! They have brought it about that those who most despise the realm of ideas, the mental, and spiritual, now occupy all the responsible positions. And one could go on declaiming about efficiency in this life so long as mankind has not been actually dragged into the abyss. Just now a few are beginning — in most cases only instinctively — to croak that a new time must conic, that all sorts of new ideals must arise! But it is only croaking. And should these things appear as instincts only, without conscious adaptation to the life of spiritual science, they would lead to the degeneracy of that which ought to be experienced in the waking state, rather than to any advantageous evolutionary transition.
He who appeals to people in familiar phrases may still meet with sonic success, but men will have to endure other words, unaccustomed expressions, in order that out of chaos a social cosmos may again emerge.
If in any age the men who should wake fail to do so, and do not recognize what ought to be done, then nothing authentic happens, but the ghost of the preceding epoch wanders around. In many religious organizations ghosts of the past move about, and our legal systems are still haunted by the ghost of ancient Rome. In the age of the consciousness-soul spiritual science is to free men from this bondage, and lead them to actual observation of a spiritual fact: What does the angel do in our astral body? To theorize about the angels, etc., is at best but a beginning. Progress requires us to speak factually, both in regard to our own period, and in an-swering the question which most immediately concerns us. It does concern us because the images that the angel is evoking in our astral body are to determine our future conditions, which must he brought to actuality through the consciousness-soul.
If we had no consciousness-soul we should not need to trouble ourselves, for other spirits, other hierarchies, would enter and work out what the angel is weaving; but since we are to develop the consciousness-soul no other spirits will step in to bring the angel’s work to realization.
Of course in the Egyptian age different angels performed this work of weaving. But soon other spirits entered, and to man this was darkened by his atavistic-clairvoyant consciousness. Thus men wove — these men, because of what they saw clairvoyantly — a (lark veil over the angels’ pictures. But now man himself is to unveil them. Therefore, he must not miss by sleeping that which will be brought into his conscious life during the period which is to close even before the third millennium. Let us extract from anthroposophically oriented spiritual science not merely all sorts of doctrines, but also resolutions; and these will give us strength to be wakeful. We can accustom ourselves to being wakeful human beings. We can he mindful of many things.
We can begin at once with watchfulness, discovering that not a (lay passes in which some miracle does not take place in our lives. We may also reverse this statement. We may say: If on any given day we call find nothing wonderful in our experience, we have simply overlooked it. Try at night to look over your life. You will find in it some circumstance great or small, of which you may say to yourself: It entered my life most strangely, and was accomplished quite unusually. You will succeed in this if you think comprehensively enough, if you fix your soul’s eye upon the association of events. In ordinary life this is not done because people seldom ask themselves: What, for instance, was prevented by this or that?
We seldom trouble ourselves to consider the things which have been prevented and which, had they occurred, would have entirely altered our lives. Back of these things, which were removed in one way or another, there exists a great deal that may well educate us in wakefulness. How many things might have happened to me today? If I ask myself this question every evening, and then think over single circumstances that might have brought about this or that result, there will attach to such questions reflections that will lead to watchfulness and self-discipline. This is something which, once begun, will take us further and further, until at last we do not try to find out only what was meant by the fact that we, for example, wanted to go out some morning at half-past ten, and that just at the very last moment some man or other came who detained us…
We are annoyed by the delay, but we do not ask what might have happened if we had really gone at the time planned. What was altered thereby?
I have already spoken to you more explicitly of these practices. From observation of the negative in our lives (which, however, bears eloquent witness to the wisdom guiding us), up to observation of the angel weaving and working in our astral body, there is a direct path, a very direct path, and one which we may safely follow.