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Cosmosophy I
GA 207

Lecture IX

14 October 1921, Dornach

In our recent studies I have shown how the human being can find a relationship to the world, a relationship that he is seeking to the spiritual, the soul, and the bodily. I have also shown you that if we seriously wish to bring the spiritual nature of the human being into our consciousness, we can only apply our gaze to the spiritual worlds. For, in fact, playing into our human spirit are the deeds and reciprocal relationships of those hierarchies that we group together as the hierarchies of the angeloi, archangeloi, archai, and so on. By bringing the deeds and relationships of these beings to consciousness, the human being at the same time brings his own spirituality to consciousness.

In relation to the soul element, I was able to describe to you how thinking occurs between man's etheric body and physical body, how feeling occurs between man's etheric body and his astral body, and how willing occurs between the astral body and the I. Then I showed you how what man today can call his bodies must now be understood—if one wishes to bring them in their true form into consciousness—as the seed for future worlds. In fact, what will be formed in the world's future existence has its seed in the human bodies that we bear with us in life: in our physical body, which we lay aside here on the earth, but which, in being dissolved in the earthly realm, becomes seed for what the earth becomes after it has disappeared as earth; we learn to know our etheric body—for a short time, after we have passed through the portal of death, it apparently dissolves itself in the wide universe, but it becomes the seed for what the earth is to become in the future. This is also the case with our astral body and with that which is the sheath of our I. This I-sheath, however, as we have it here on earth as human beings, we received into our being only during this earthly existence.

We live today, which means that we have already been living for a long time in the intellectual age. The human being understands what surrounds him in the world in the same way as things generally are understood today, by means of the intellect, by means of intellectual knowing. Everything that the human being encounters today as culture, as civilization, is adjusted to this outer knowledge. Even when we feel, then, the feeling remains dull and dreamlike. What becomes clear to the human being in feeling is just what the world today presents from its authoritative science as an outer knowledge. Thus the human being, from the time he enters school, receives as inner soul life within our ordinary civilization only an intellectual mastery of the environment. How far, however, will this kind of intellectual mastery of the environment take us? I could also put the question this way: how deeply does this intellectual mastery of the environment penetrate into our soul life?

Let us consider a person who today enters school at six years of age, enters the kind of school in which he is brought into a relationship to the outer world only by outer methods. Let us assume that this person goes right through our higher education. He then is able to learn even more, is able to pass through the higher stages of culture and absorb all this into himself, by which means one becomes a leader of humanity in some realm today, in a spiritual respect. What does such a person, who has formed his soul life in accordance with the culture of our modern time, actually receive in his soul? He receives only what goes as far as his I. He receives no more than what goes as far as his I. He receives it, then, rayed back by those members of his human nature in which the I is certainly immersed but that are not called to do actual self-conscious activity. He receives as reflections his thoughts, his memory pictures, his feelings, and what he knows about his will impulses. Everything else he experiences is weakened, paralyzed. His soul life runs its course merely in the I, and everything that is communicated to him is communicated only to the extent that it enters his I.

What happens, then, if what we call anthroposophical spiritual science approaches a person? If this happens he should actually learn to feel something that can be expressed in the following way: he should feel a recognition of “... the I as a structure that strives to attain, with a power against which the force of gravity is like the breath of a snowflake, a state of being in which nothing that modern culture designates as talent plays a role. ...”9 Quotation from Epilog, by the German poet Gottfried Benn, 1886–1956. A person, in approaching anthroposophical spiritual science, really should arrive at the point of being able to say: a very special demand is made on you with this anthroposophical spiritual science. You are able to understand things that you receive as ideas in your soul, which other people, who live only in today's culture, claim to be fantasies or deranged visions; you receive, therefore, what those who live in today's culture do not approach with their I-culture. They do not approach this with their I-culture. The earthly I cannot comprehend the concepts which, following one another, proceed from anthroposophy: what is related about the ancient Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions or about the spiritual, soul, and bodily nature of the human being. It can only be assumed that if one had a competent modern philosopher, one who has not become deranged or “clever” to the extent that he “takes Darwin for a midwife and the ape for an artist,”10Ibid. if one takes such a competent modern philosopher he should understand that the spirit of the human being, about which he says so much—though the philosopher of today speaks only with words—can be comprehended only in connection with the higher hierarchies, that the soul of the human being can be comprehended according to thinking, feeling, and willing only if one looks between man's members, the physical body, etheric body, astral body, and I. Could you expect that such a philosopher would see in the bodily sheathes of the human beings, which he considered as fantasy, seeds for future worlds? One cannot arrive at such a view, of course, with what the modern I encompasses. If one is nevertheless able to link something from the soul life with this unusual idea—and to do this it is not necessary to be a clairvoyant oneself, but only to the research of the clairvoyant as ideas—this is done not in the I but in the astral body. The thought shadows, which one receives today in the I as a reflection of the astral body, do not strain the astral body. One can have these with the I-culture. If the astral body is here (see next drawing, red) and the I here (green), then all that modern man experiences is here in the I, and his thoughts are nothing but what the astral body casts into the I as shadow images (yellow). It is not necessary to strain oneself by these. One allows the I to prevail, which has been received through the earthly organization. A person constructs a microscope, places a slide under it, followed by another slide and another, peers at them, and compares the thought shadows, making some mathematical calculations that proceed just as they are given, as shadow processes. It is thus possible to relate to the world, in relation to one's inner experience, completely passively. This passivity is then developed further by shifting this way of viewing to one's inner work, though not now in the Goethean sense. Such a person no longer likes to attend lecture courses in which he must participate actively with his thinking; he prefers lecture courses in which lots of experiments are done and, between the experiments, in the unpleasant babble by which the experiments are explained, he falls asleep. Or he even goes to the movies. There one need not be active at all.

This is truly the I-culture. It is prevailing more and more. Anthroposophical spiritual science comes along, however, and with that one cannot work in this way. A modern theologian said that he would not read the Akashic Chronicle even if it were bestowed on him in a special illustrated edition;11Christoph Schrempf, theologian, 1860–1944. but he need not have feared that he would receive the Akashic Chronicle in a special illustrated edition, for it must be acquired in such a way that one participates in an inwardly forming way. Even if once one were really to fix in a symbolic, artistic way what is found in the Akashic Chronicle, this theologian still could not do anything with it because he primarily values the illustrations.

With anthroposophical spiritual science, one must participate inwardly, for otherwise one naturally hears only the words, which can be regarded arbitrarily as fantasy. This inner participation, however, one must learn to love. One must resolve to do this. It is uncomfortable, but it becomes noticeable, if one resolves to do it, that this activity refreshes, that it makes the human being fresher in soul and body. I know that many people raise objections concerning this becoming refreshed, but they would very much like to attain through merely passive thinking what should be attained through an active participation of the astral body in a difficult wrestling for comprehension, just as that theologian would have been most content to have the entire Outline of Occult Science played out for him in a movie. This is just how he uses his concepts in the essay where he speaks of a “special illustrated edition of the Akashic Chronicle.”

Briefly, by means of anthroposophical spiritual science something comes into activity that is no longer merely the I but that includes the astral body. There are certainly those people who sense this when they read an anthroposophical book. As they read it they sense something; something stirs in them. Before things were disposed to move inwardly only passively, as thought shadows. Now something like an active intellect begins to stir in them. Something emerges from them as if inwardly they had lice, and then they become so nervous about this inner stirring that they say: this is unhealthy. Then they complain about the difficult things with which people in anthroposophical spiritual science are challenged. Especially those who then observe people who are noticeably affected inwardly in this way—their brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles—complain that anthroposophy is something that makes people nervous.

What happens, however, if we now ask, what is the relationship between the I-culture, which man received first during earthly existence, and the culture that can be acquired through anthroposophical spiritual science? A simple sketch can make this clearer. Let us assume that the earth is here (see drawing below, red). It would have been preceded by ancient Moon, Sun, and Saturn. Here we would have the next planet, Jupiter (green), which will be transformed from the earth after the earth has passed through its decline. On Jupiter, then, there participate intensively those members of the human being that exist now, as seed: the physical body, etheric body, and astral body; the I, however, takes part only under a certain condition. If the I takes up only what can be taken up through earthly culture, this I-consciousness ceases along with the earth; then the human being becomes an earthly I, and, as an earthly I, he ceases to exist along with the earth. He must evolve himself further in other forms.

If the human being has developed himself right into his astral body, however, if he has brought his astral body into activity, then this activity radiates back to his I. The being of man then consists of an I and astral body that are inwardly active. He does not feel—as I described it previously—as though he had lice inside but rather as if inwardly he were permeated by strong, healthy life forces, by life forces that now link him with what already proceeds from his bodily sheaths, as seed, into future metamorphoses of the earth, in order to develop himself further in these future earthly metamorphoses.

Anthroposophical spiritual science absolutely must be studied as something living. Then it gives the human being not merely a theory or a theoretical world view, but it gives the human being the life force that can guide him beyond mere earthly existence.

Especially if we take completely seriously a knowledge such as we have unfolded before our souls in the last three lectures—if we place the human being from the point of view of spirit, soul, and body within the entire evolution of the world and feel something as a result in the inner human content by which we become richer—then we incorporate into this human being something that carries him beyond earthly existence. For it could be—although this will not be the case, one hopes—that the human being, because he has become tired in the way characterized before, rejects anthroposophical spiritual science. Then the human sheath would continue to develop further, but it would be taken hold of by other beings than by the human beings entitled to it, and the human beings would sink into a lower existence than the one intended.

This is ultimately what it is that makes a few people in the present fearful about the cosmic future of the human being, that makes a few people sense that man, due to his trespasses, could be lost in the universe. Therefore still others must come whose insight extends beyond the assumption that “Darwin is a midwife and the ape a work of art,” who do not merely believe that one ultimately speaks “under the guidance of standard medicine,” about “weak nerves, fatigue, psychological weaknesses,”12Quotation from Epilog, by Gottfried Benn. and so, who do not merely come to the point of saying to themselves, “I won't write any more, for one would have to write with pinworms. I won't read anymore. Who is there to read? The ancient, honest Titans wrapped in sandwich paper?”13Ibid.

Now, despite the infernal laughter which is welling up on every side, one must still say that those who have no faith anymore in the “Titans with Icarus wings wrapped in sandwich paper,” those who see that everything that still has a germinal quality in our declining culture actually can only be “written about with pinworms,” then ask themselves, what should one read, what should one concern oneself with? They should be given anthroposophical literature, despite the infernal laughter coming today from all sides, and they should receive, if at all possible, a soul remedy so that they can be relieved of the inhibitions that prevent them from receiving what the soul undoubtedly needs today.

Many people go around in the world who do not know what to do with themselves, people whose body becomes too heavy, inwardly crippled. They often must be shown in full seriousness the strengthening, health-giving impulses that lie in a real self-achievement of the thoughts, the ideas of anthroposophical spiritual science.

These things—I must say this again and again—have to be taken up with the greatest seriousness. It is necessary to have a little insight into the consequences actually imminent in our time from the direction upon which materialistic culture has entered.

May it also be felt how very necessary it is for the renewal of our culture to take place today from primal sources! Tomorrow we shall continue.