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Man—Hieroglyph of the Universe
GA 201

Lecture Fifteen

15 May 1920, Dornach

In the foregoing studies we have indicated how necessary it is to study Man in his entirety if we would see how exact a copy he is in all his nature of the Universe as a whole. It is specially important to receive this knowledge not only into our intellect, but also into our feeling and will; for only by regarding Man in his totality as born out of the whole Universe, can a deeper understanding be gained for that which Christianity wishes to be for the world. It might easily be objected that if this is so, a complicated understanding of the details of the Universe and of Man is demanded of modern humanity in order that Man should become complete Man in his consciousness. Yet just reflect that this demand, which now approaches humanity as a cardinal demand, is not peculiar to Spiritual Science. In order to indicate exactly what I mean, let me first put the question: What demand did Christianity bring when it first came into the world? In reality it claimed an understanding of the Universe which originally belonged to the ancient heathen conceptions, but which has in course of time been completely forgotten. Just consider what has been gradually lost to Man in course of time of the fundamental views and characteristics of Christianity. Christianity first appeared in such a way that it could only be understood by comprehending e.g. the Trinity: The Nature of God the Father, God the Son—that is, Jesus Christ—and the Spirit. In the sense in which Christianity understood these three aspects of the Divine Spiritual, the understanding of them demanded no less than does the understanding of such things as are given by Spiritual Science today. Only all that leads to the comprehension of this idea of Father, Son and Spirit has been gradually eliminated; it has been thrown out of the intelligible and become empty words; empty husks of words have alone been retained. For centuries man has had these empty word-husks. This has gone so far that, after having first dogmatically rejected them, people have begun to ridicule them. The best of men have ridiculed these empty husks. Ridicule has been poured upon them. ‘Dogmatic Theology’, it is said, ‘claims that One is Three and Three One!’ it is indeed a terrible delusion, it is sheer deception to believe that the Christian movement has ever demanded less understanding, less self-sacrificing knowledge, than that demanded by modern Spiritual Science—and demanded by it in order to regain Christianity. The most important and basic facts have been cast out of Christianity, and if we leave out of account that these live on in the different confessions as words, we can ask: What really remains to man of the fundamental ideas of Christ Himself? How does modern man discriminate between Christ and the Universal Cosmic God who can be met with in the ideas of Jahveh or Jehovah? I have drawn attention to the fact that even theologians such as Harnack do not discriminate. How many people today are clear as to what is to be understood by the Spirit? People have become such ‘abstractlings’, satisfied with the mere empty husks of words; either they remain in the churches and are satisfied; or if they are—as they call it—‘enlightened’, they turn all to ridicule. What is given in empty husks of words can never have the power to bring light to the individual activities of human knowledge.

Only reflect how far we have actually gone in this direction. All that was comprised in the knowledge of ancient Greece was at the same time a healing principle. The healer was a priest and at the same time the teacher of the people. That the teacher and priest was also a healer presupposes that something unhealthy was present in the whole process of civilisation; otherwise there would be no ground for speaking of a healer. They spoke of the healer because from an instinctive knowledge they had still an understanding of the whole cosmic process, more comprehensive and intense than we possess today. Today man pictures the cosmic process as running its course in such a way that what comes later is always the effect of what was earlier; but this is not so in reality. The older instinctive knowledge was aware that this was not so. Today men imagine, especially those who speak of progress in the abstract, that evolution is bound continually to ascend. We find this notion of an ascending evolution among the superficial philosophers of modern times. A man who is simply carried along by the general prejudices of the time, such as Wilhelm Wundt, the non-philosopher, who became the philosopher of the hour for many, also spoke as an alleged philosopher of such “Universal Progress”, without the slightest knowledge of what really lies in the actual stream of human development. We must realise that in the real stream of human development there is always a tendency to degenerate. There is not a tendency towards progress there, least of all in history. There is a continual tendency towards degeneration, and only because what we call teaching, or knowledge, works steadily against it, is that raised up which would otherwise be drawn down into the depths. Only in this way do we have progress.

Consider from this standpoint how the matter stands with the child. The child is born. People speak of heredity, but we inherit only what would lead to decline. If the child were not educated by his whole environment and later by school and by life, he would degenerate. Education is a preservative from degeneration, it brings healing. The old instinctive knowledge of Man would still regard as a healing process everything connected with knowledge, education or priesthood. In olden times the office of the doctor could not be separated from that of the priest, they were one and the same. Modern evolution has separated natural science from the science of soul and spirit, as I explained in yesterday's lecture. Thus man leaves to medical science the healing of all that which, according to Julius Robert Mayer, has nothing to do with human aims, but is concerned only with the use of the forces of the horses and their transmutation to heat in the horses, in the wagon-axles, in the streets on which the wheels ran, and so forth. This is, roughly speaking, left to the physician; and people like Rubner in Berlin, who is only a representative of this mode of thought, calculate what is necessary to human life almost as though Man were a kind of complicated stove.

But now draw the social-ethical conclusion of such a conception, and recognise that if of all that takes place in the transmutation of force the purposes and aims of Man are only a secondary effect, then we are confronted with the possibility of believing that the world could get on without these secondary effects. As a matter of fact that is really the secret belief of modern man, that the real consists only of the physical, and everything else is a side-stream, a secondary effect.

In face of such a view it would be only consistent to reject Christianity, as the materialists of the middle of the nineteenth century did. They actually carried out to its logical conclusion the materialistic cosmic conception, by saying: If naturalism is correct, then there is nothing for it but to ridicule the idea of any difference between a transgressor and a good man—for of course, just the same amount of force is transmuted into heat in the one as in the other! The questions that flash through the world at the present time are really often questions of honesty, courage and consistency. At a time when man certainly does not possess this honesty in respect of the outer things of life, it is indeed not surprising to find that it is not there in respect of these cardinal questions.

Thus it comes about that modern humanity still talks of Christ, without really knowing that He must be distinguished from the Universal God underlying all nature. If the Christ-Concept has been gradually changed into the simple God-concept, that signifies a retrogression of humanity, back to before the Mystery of Golgotha. In order to understand Christianity rightly it is necessary to take this principle of degeneration seriously, and place in opposition to it the necessity of working out of something quite different from what bears the germ of degeneration within it. The attention of present-day man must be drawn to the fact that at that time in the course of Earthly events when the Earth moved—together with man, of course—through the Mystery of Golgotha, something took place as a happening on Earth which had significance not merely for humanity, but for the entire Earth-life.

To comprehend this, Nature and Spirit must of course be studied with much greater earnestness than lies in the inclination of modern humanity. In order to explain this, let me point back to something which lived in the consciousness of man, perhaps up to the eighth century before Christ. Man did not then perceive himself as an isolated being, as he does today. Today he feels himself as a being enclosed in his skin, but up to the seventh or eighth century BC. he felt himself to be a member of the whole Universe, taking part in the events of the whole Universe. Grotesque as it may seem today, it is a fact that in those olden times man did not feel his head so strongly shut off by his skull, he felt that that which lived in his head extended into the Cosmos, and belonged to the whole starry heaven. Strange as it seems today, he felt himself in the sphere of the stars, for he felt his head in living connection with them. Thus he said to himself: ‘When the night-sky arches over me, it is really I myself, who live there in living communion of my head with the stars.’ He said: ‘I follow the course of time further, when after the night the day appears. Then the stars which rose on the one side set on the other, and in their place the Sun rises. The configuration of the stars then no longer works in my head, for the Sun takes the place of the starry heavens and my eyes it is that are co-ordinated with the Sun.’ And because he vividly felt: ‘My eyes are co-ordinated with the Sun when I am busy on Earth during the day,’ he said to himself: ‘Just as now there is an earthly existence and my eyes are co-ordinated to the Sun, so in the existence preceding the Earth (we call it the Moon existence) my whole head was a kind of eye; not as now, perceiving the objects in a twofold way, but, looking out into the Cosmos there were within me, in my brain, as it were, as many little eyes as there are stars. Out of these little eyes has grown all that lives now in my brain; and my sense-eyes are but later products, co-ordinated to the Sun as was my brain to the starry heavens. Therefore my brain is a later product of evolution of an eye, or really of many separate eyes, as many in number as the stars shining out there in the night. Thus my brain has grown out of a sense; and what is now in Earth-existence, my eye, whereby I am in communication with my Earth-environment, will be an inner organ, as is now in my brain, when the Earth has been replaced by another planet (which as you know we call the Jupiter-condition). What is now on my outer surface will draw into my inner being. People will then look different. What they now have as corresponding with their environment will form an inner organ in future times.’ Ancient humanity felt this instinctively and said: ‘Light penetrates; through the eye of my senses, but in my inner being I preserve the light of olden times. It works in me as thought. Thought was a sense-perception before the Earth became Earth, when it was an earlier planet; and my sense-perception will be thought in the future.’ In ancient times man perceived all this as wisdom, which he felt ‘instinctively’ as we should say today. The ancients did not throw about the word ‘instinctive’ as is done today, they said: ‘It is the wisdom which the Gods in heaven have brought down to us on Earth.’ Of what arose in them instinctively concerning the past, present and future they said: ‘This was brought to us by the Immortals.’ This they represented to themselves in Pictures. What does the Isis-picture tell us? ‘I am the All; I am the Past, the Present and the Future. My Veil has no mortal ever lifted.’ The modern interpretation of this is really in truth a strange one! People today think in materialistic terms about a saying containing the term ‘mortal’. They do not think, in the case of this saying of Isis: ‘I am the Past, I am the Present, I am the Future. My veil hath no Mortal yet lifted;’ but they think of it as: ‘I am the Past, the Present and the Future; my veil hath no man yet lifted.’ The people of today do not reflect how on the other hand they hold themselves to be immortal and that therefore ‘My veil hath no mortal ever lifted’ cannot be regarded as a final sentence. Novalis said: ‘Well then, we must become immortal, so that we may lift the veil of Isis.’

Let us reflect on the underlying thought brought forward by modern materialists. It gives them pleasure to think: ‘I am the All. I am the Past, the Present and the Future. My veil no man hath ever raised.’ For they are thus spared the effort of lifting it, and their philosophers can teach that man has now reached the boundaries of knowledge. In reality they mean that man is too indolent to tread the path of knowledge. They do not like to say this, so they say that man has reached the boundaries of knowledge.

In our age, which wants to be independent of authority, these things are accepted, but they must not be carried into the future, if man is not to fall into decadence. It should not be overlooked that no one has the right to call himself a Christian who believes only in a general progress and does not realise that if the Earth had been left to itself since the Mystery of Golgotha, it would have fallen into decadence. Hence it is necessary for us to oppose to this decadence something which we cannot obtain from the Earth, nor from that from which the Earth is derived—the Father-God—but which must be obtained from God the Son, and must be injected into the continuous evolution of mankind. It is an absolute deviation of man from his task of today if he continues unwilling to admit that the Universe is to be brought into relation to the Christ-Event. Think what it really means when, though stormed at by Catholic and Evangelical confessions, Spiritual Science asserts that the Christ-concept and the Cosmos-concept must be united, while against that it is always said: ‘Spiritual Science has no idea that Christ is only to be understood in an ethical sense, as something inserted only into the moral order of the world.’ If man holds the moral order of the world as a secondary effect of the transmutation of forces, then the Christ-concept inserted only into the moral order of the world, also appears as a mere secondary effect in the cosmic system.

We have spoken of one thing whereto the old instinctive knowledge of mankind pointed, namely that the human brain stands in relation to the starry sphere, and that the human eyes are in a certain way co-ordinated with the Sun-sphere. Going back into earlier periods, when man still possessed a qualitative knowledge of astronomy and of the earthly elements, we see that Light was brought into relation with what is nearest our Earth, with Air. With their instinctive knowledge, the ancients could not think of Light without Air. Modern thinkers with their abstract knowledge do not bring what they explain as Light into relation with Air. Certainly they describe it in a wonderful way—as a vibratory movement of the ether; but in relation to Air, the farthest they go is to regard the Air as a medium through which the Light passes. It is really most remarkable how little people reflect upon what is imposed upon them! Earth: Infinite Space: Stars. Among these stars are some whose Light needs millions of years to reach the Earth. Night falls. Here is a star whose Light needs a shorter time to reach the Earth. Just imagine for a moment: What have we in the rays of its Light? Certainly we do not see the star itself when we look in the direction of the Light-rays. The Light-ray which meets our eye, according to this theory, comes from something millions of years back; it may even have perished long ago, but its Light is still traveling hither. Nothing is told us of what is really out there in the Cosmos. All we are told is how channels of Light are approaching, which may perhaps lead back to some still existing star but which may also lead to some star no longer there.

We must make ourselves acquainted with the thought of how for us the Light-phenomena as such make themselves apparent in the phenomenon of Air; for although the Light passes through the apparently airless space, by us it is not seen in airless space, but in the Air-filled space, for only in such can we exist. Thus for us Light and Air are experienced together. In this way we can go more deeply into the human constitution; we can go a step further. In the human head we can pass from the eyes to the nose. The nose (and oriental philosophy knows a great deal about this), the nose is the organ through which one breathes in and breathes out. The eye is the receptive organ for Light. The nose and eye are divided. The nose is adapted to the Air, and all that is adapted to the Air extends to the world of the planets. The Sun makes the beginning in working in our earthly part; but the rest of the planets work on the rest of our constitution; and as we come down from the starry world into that of the Sun and planets we arrive, in the case of man, as it were, at the nose. Then we come down quite to the earthly, passing from the nose to the mouth, to the organ of taste, and, taking up the substances of the Earth through that organ, we descend from the planetary into the Earth-world. We have the rest of man as an appendage; the head as appendage of the eyes, the breast as appendage of the nose, and all the rest of man, the limb-man, the metabolic man as appendage of the organ of taste. We have now apportioned man, taking him in his totality, to the starry world, the solar and planetary world and the Earth-world. We have placed him into the whole Universe and when we look at his brain—inwardly, not outwardly; not by physical anatomy, but by inner knowledge—we see in the human head, inasmuch as it is the bearer of the brain, a direct copy of the starry world. We see in all that extends from the nose to the lungs, a copy of the planetary system with the Sun. If we then consider the remainder, we see that part of man which is Earth-bound, as e.g. are animals. In this way only do we arrive at the true parallel between man and the rest of the world. Thus should man be understood, even in detail.

Consider for a moment the circulation of the blood. The blood, transmuted by the outer air, enters the left auricle, passes into the left ventricle, and from thence branches off through the aorta into the organism. We can say: Blood passes from the lungs to the heart, thence into the rest of the organism, but branching off also to the head. The blood however in passing through the organism takes up the nourishment. And into this is introduced all that is dependent on the Earth. All that the digestive apparatus introduces into the circulation of the blood is earthly. What is introduced through the breathing, when we bring oxygen into the blood-course, is planetary. And then we have the blood-circulation that goes to the head, which includes all that composes the head. Just as the circulatory course of the lungs with its absorption of oxygen, and giving out of carbonic acid, belongs to the planetary system, just as what is introduced through the digestive apparatus belongs to the Earth, so that part of the circulatory course that branches off above, belongs to the starry world. It is, as it were, drawn away from the aorta and then streams back and unites with the blood streaming back from the rest of the organism, so that they stream conjointly back to the heart. That which branches off above says, as it were, to the whole of the rest of the circulatory course: ‘I do not share either in the oxygenating process nor in the digestive process, but I separate myself out. I invert myself upwards.’ That it is that belongs to the starry world. And the nervous system might be followed up in the same way.

One arrives at no perception of man by thinking that he can be studied from his physical aspect only. In so doing we only find in the cranium that pulp described by our physical anatomy! What it describes is simply non-existent. It is in reality the confluence of forces of the starry heavens. To describe the physical brain by itself, is like describing a rose by itself. That has no sense, for a rose is no entity for itself. It cannot be dissociated from its bush. It is nothing apart from its bush. So too, the human brain is nothing apart from the starry heavens.

Let us however here recall the true nature of the Sun. Again and again I have emphasised how astonished the physicists would be if they could fit out an airship (it actually forms part of their ideal to do so), and could journey to the Sun, imagining they would find there a glowing ball of gas. They would not find this, but a suction-sphere, trying to absorb everything possible into itself, really an empty space, nay even less than empty, a negation of matter. Within the circumference of the Sun there is nothing comparable to our matter. It is not merely empty, but less than empty; it is blank, just like a hole, in comparison with the rest of matter. It is really important that one should not, in these days, begin to speculate on things of the world, without any accord with reality, but fill oneself with the spirit of reality. I have recently said a good deal on the Theory of Relativity. You will remember what I brought forward regarding the Einstein box by means of which the theory of gravity is to be overcome. Another affirmation of Einstein's is that even the dimension of a body is merely relative, and depends on the rapidity of movement. Thus, according to the Einstein theory, if a man moved through cosmic space with a certain velocity, he would not retain his bulk from front to back, but would become as thin as a sheet of paper. This is discussed in all seriousness. Such dwelling in thoughts foreign to reality forms the ‘science’ of today. And it is the opposite pole to what we have on the other hand as faith.

The physician has been relegated to the purely physical, the priest to what is purely of the soul. As for the Spiritual, it is abolished. But when it comes to considering everything outside the physical as a side-issue—horses, coach, these are real to the physical senses; and the forces of the horses, these are transmuted into heat, heat of the horses, heat of the axles, and heat of the furrows of the road; and for the rest, well, we cannot even call the rest a ‘fifth wheel’ of the wagon, for it is less that that, it is a mere side-issue, a secondary effect. As regards the priest, one cannot even say that he is the fifth wheel of the wagon in the modern conception—for what does he achieve if all the ‘rest’ is a side-issue? When physicians such as Julius Robert Mayer make philosophy, they make physics; and when the adherents of soul-substance, or whatever it is, make philosophy, it becomes abstract concepts; and the two world-streams flow on side by side quite foreign to one another, the materialistic physician of the middle of the nineteenth century and the preaching pastor; they have really neither understood nor even paid attention to one another, at most perhaps they have contended politically. A time has assuredly now come in which there is but little honesty or consistency, and this state of things must be seriously combated and overcome.

We have not only to combat ill-will, but what perhaps has also to be taken into account, namely all kinds of stupidity and ignorance. That is how things are.—Let me draw your attention especially to the fact that from a certain motive I intend at Whitsun to give three lectures on the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. [*See The Redemption of Thinking. English translation of these lectures by A. P. Shepherd and Mildred Robertson Nicoll. Published by Hodder and Stoughton (1956).] I do not know whether our opponents will deny us the right to study Thomas Aquinas here. As you know, by an order of Pope Leo XIII, the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas was declared the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church and I wonder whether this, which we are about to study here, will be described as an unlawful propaganda issuing from Dornach! We will wait and see. Let the wind whistle from whatever quarter, we will await it. But perhaps it is well that we should once meet all the talk that comes from that particular quarter with a serious study of the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas.