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Cosmosophy II
GA 208

Lecture I

21 October 1921, Dornach

Today we’ll give some consideration to the way human beings relate to the world in body, soul and spirit. We have seen that experiences gained through the whole cosmos between death and rebirth become part of our inner life when we are on earth. We have seen that experiences that were like “outside” experiences before birth, or conception, come into their own by being active in our internal organs. Today, the intention is to consider the other side of the human being’s relationship to the world, that is, how the experiences gained between birth and death are taken through the gate of death and become experiences we live through in a further life between death and rebirth.

We must distinguish between the inner life we have during life on earth and the kind of outside life which we put out into the world. In the first place, we can consider the inner life to include all the feelings and inner responses we go through between birth and death. The feelings we have about impressions gained of the outside world, about our own inner experiences, and also about the approval or objections that meet our actions, actions which arise out of the will—all this is something we more or less settle for ourselves, letting others get a glimpse, perhaps, but essentially dealing with it on our own.

Our experiences based on sensory perception do not reflect reality—this has been the subject of recent lectures; an unreal world extends all around us. It is a world which in essence is neither inner nor outer; we are involved in it and really only make it our inner world by having thoughts about it, developing feelings about it, and we are stimulated by it to take particular actions. Basically our attitude to it arises from faculties we bring with us when we are born into this world. Our approach to the outside world, and also the place where we are, the nation into which we are born, and so on, is always determined by earlier lives lived on earth and in the spirit. These things hark back and do not take us forward.

We also need to consider another way in which we relate to the outside world. Our actions, which have their origin in the will, become part of the outside world. Every action we take changes that world. The least thing we do adds something to the outside world and therefore changes it.

Thus we are able to say that the outside world created by our own actions has its origin in our will intent. The quality of its relationship to us is therefore the same as that of events which occur during sleep. Our everyday conscious mind is no more able to gain insight into the deep-down world of the will than into the conditions that exist during sleep. The real events in the world of the will are not accessible to the conscious mind. As I have said many times before, when we move an arm, or a hand, the conscious mind has no awareness of the whole will-driven process, of the power that develops and is active in the moving arm or hand. We merely see the changes we have wrought. When we move an object from one place to another, our senses make us aware of the change we have made. We are therefore able to say that sensory perception makes us aware of the effect we have through the will. Our will impulses and their effects flow into the world we perceive with the senses, as it were.

Let us recall something we have been considering in recent lectures. We said: First of all we have the human physical body (white in Fig. 1); and the human ether body (red).

Four bodies of man
Fig. 1

Between them is the actively moving world of thoughts—in so far as it is part of the organism. Between the ether body and the astral body (green) lies the world of our feelings, and between the astral body and the enveloping I (blue) the world of the will.

In ordinary consciousness, the world of the will cannot be distinguished from the human I, being completely bound up with it. But not everything that goes on in the I when it is acting out of the will comes to conscious awareness in a direct way. It is at a level that is below ordinary conscious awareness, as I said, like the events that occur during sleep. The sense organs in our physical body perceive anything our will brings to expression. Something arising out of the I and the world of the will is thus perceived with our eyes and ears. In this way, sensory perception, which is the most outside part of us, connects with the things we do out of will and I (arrow Fig. 1).

When the I makes us take just a few steps, we have no conscious awareness of the life of the will, nor of anything that goes on deep down in the human organism and makes our legs move. Yet when we have taken those steps we see the world from a different point of view. In ordinary consciousness, sensory perception provides us with an idea, an image of something that really lies in the depths of waking sleep. Gathering up the powers of the I in an act of will, letting will impulses become actions, we know about our actions through the changes perceived with the senses, irrespective of whether these actions involve walking, taking hold of something, or some kind of work. It is important to realize that through the will we really belong to the world which the senses perceive around us. This is something to remember: In our will we belong to the outside world. Developing ideas about anything we observe concerning the way the will comes to expression will not help us to enter into our true inner nature. Despite the fact that the will flows from the deepest part of the inner life, doing so continues to be an external process for the conscious mind, or rather a sum of such processes in the body.

In the inner life we have first of all the mobile world of thoughts. In outer terms, and of no real interest in the present context, its life consists in bringing some degree of logic and order into the things perceived through the senses. We classify objects, putting plants or animals that are similar to each other into the same class, and we look for other laws of nature. It is part of the body of knowledge which is common to all humanity, but it is not really part of our inner life. On the other hand we cannot really say that everything we have by way of thought is outside our inner life. Just remember a magnificent landscape you may have seen, for instance, and thought about. You can recall it from memory at any time, though it may have faded a little. Thoughts developed in connection with the outside world therefore become part of your inner world. Anything that comes to us from the outside world and is transformed into thoughts thus becomes part of the inner world.

Initially these thoughts enter into the ether body but they then also connect with our feelings and the astral body. All this is inner process. This inner part of the life of thought and with it, the world of feelings, are the true inner life. We really cannot look to the outside world for any of the things we experience in the inner aspect of the life of thought and in our feelings, but only inside ourselves. As I said, we can talk to people and choose to let them see something of what lives in us, but essentially it is indeed an inner life. We are now able to distinguish clearly between the outside life that develops because human beings are constantly taking their inner life into the outside world, and our true inner world.

If we get on a train and travel through the night from the eastern to the western part of Switzerland, we are in a completely different will environment in the morning and we are able to perceive this with the senses. We have taken our inner life with us; it is the same wherever we may be, though it may have been modified by thoughts which have touched us inwardly and become part of the inner life. If we want to we can therefore make clear distinction between the inner life—which in soul is woven out of thoughts and feelings and in body is woven out of the interacting rhythms of ether body and astral body—and the world which in a sense is “outside world”. The soul aspect of this “outside” world is woven out of will content and sensory perception content, the bodily aspect out of I and physical body. For we take our physical body with us and observe it, and it enters into a different situation in the environment. We can distinguish between inner and outer in the way I have just shown.

This is most important when we come to consider the life which human beings take with them through the gate of death. Putting it briefly, the relationship of inner to outer after death is like this:

The outer becomes inner.
The inner becomes outer.

That is the tremendous change which comes with death. The outer becomes inner. We can bring to mind the way the inner life of the soul is made up of interweaving thoughts and feelings and that this is what we mean when we say “I”. After death everything our senses have perceived with regard to our actions becomes our inner life, which is then gathered in a point or, better, a sphere: a view of everything we have done on earth. We take with us through death our whole life on earth, like an inner memory, and this becomes our inner life. There has been a complete reversal: everything the senses previously perceived to be our actions outside us will then be our inner life. Now we live in our inner responses and feelings; then we’ll live in our actions, which will have become our inner life. So if you have done a kindness to someone or you have done something bad, after death you yourself will actually be the good and bad things you have done. You mustn’t be abstract about this and imagine some vague I slipping through death and then being something else, or a bit different. No, we ourselves will be our past actions, in every detail. We shall be every one of our actions and experiences and call all of this “I”.

The inner on the other hand will become the outer. The whole world of our thoughts and feelings becomes something outside us. Here and now we have the sun and the clouds around us, or the starry heavens and their movements during the night. After death our present thoughts and inner responses will be our external environment. Things that are in our innermost heart will become part of the outside world after death and appear in mighty images. The heavens, where now the sun is shining, will then be shining with the inner life that we have here and now.

This may be described in more detail as follows. I said that we shall feel our actions to be like a sphere that is our inner life. We’ll be going through everything we achieved on earth, over and over again, following every path that we took before. After death, then, we are something which experiences its own actions as a sphere that is growing bigger and bigger (blue in Fig. 2).

growing sphere
Fig. 2

And we’ll always look back to the earth (green). Now we look out into space to see the stars and the sun; then we’ll be looking back to the earth. And the earth will be surrounded by the images of what used to be our inner life (arrows Fig. 2). Not that we’d experience our inner world as mere maya; we’ll experience everything that used to be our inner world shining out from the place we have left behind and this will be like cloud formations, starry constellations, and so on, streaming out from that place. We shall feel ourselves to be in the world which previously was at the periphery, and the earth on which we used to stand will have become our central outside world. We’ll be looking towards it. We ourselves move in orbit then, and the earth will be at the centre and we’ll look towards it and see mighty images of the whole of our inner life unfold before us.

The outer becomes inner.
The inner becomes outer.

This will be true in every detail.

Looking back to the earth from the sphere which is growing ever wider, we shall see all the feelings and inner responses we had for other people streaming back towards us from the earth. Inner experiences that did not relate to human beings will appear more as cloud formations, but the inner responses we had to people will be like stars. The actual people whom we saw as figures during life on earth then become experiences based on our actions, and in this way anyone with whom we have had anything to do will become part of our inner world.

This is, of course, entirely mutual. Now every human being has feelings inside, and also a heart and a stomach. Between death and rebirth we shall have the form of the other human beings in us and with them everything that took place between them and us in physical space and in other ways. If two people had a connection, one of them, A, will have the image of B in him, and B the image of A. The outer becomes inner; the inner—feelings we have experienced—becomes outer, cosmic content. Anything we felt for others and anything they have been to us shines out after us from the earth.

That is how we actually become the creators, in a way, of the world that is around us after death. In life it is like this: I think you’ll agree that we always are at a particular point in the world—I don’t just mean the ordinary fact that we are in Basle or in Dornach—but altogether we have a particular standpoint, both in the physical and the moral sense. We see the world from that standpoint, which gives us our perspective. This is something subjective, for others have their own standpoints.

It is different after death. Human beings then have the sphere in common. Yet they have all had different inner lives. The earth therefore shines in a different way for each—different clouds and different stars. It is as if all human beings had one and the same standpoint on earth, but one would be seeing one image at one time, and a different one at another. That is more or less how I can give you a picture of the situation after death.

bodies after death
Fig. 3

We put aside our physical body when we die. It is dissolved by the realm of earth itself, as I have shown in the lectures of these last few weeks [Vol. 1]. There remains the tissue that results when our sensory perceptions follow the actions we have performed out of the will. Think of all the distances you have covered on earth, crawling when you were an infant, then walking, later going on long trips—all kinds of things—all this becomes inner life, though only the outermost skeleton of it.

skeleton after death
Fig. 4

Everything you have done combines to form a tissue; this expands into a sphere and becomes the inner life. By becoming inner life it ensures that the human being will have an I during life on earth, for we have our I from the earth, or through the earth. Everything we have done on earth is woven into a vast image of remembered sensory perceptions, and we are thus able to take our “I” through death. Our inner experiences are relived for a short period after death, for the ether body only dissolves away a little later. It dissolves out into the universe and in consequence everything woven out of thoughts and feelings, from the ether body, but also with an astral element to it, becomes the cloud formation, or constellation of stars that surrounds the earth. Our inner and outer aspects drop away in two directions, towards the earth and out into space, as it were, as we go through life between death and rebirth.

Try and really see in your mind’s eye the kind of world in which you will be between death and rebirth. The actions that arose from your will are then your inner life. Your present life of feelings and thoughts will be the cosmos outside you. The difference is that you’ll not be looking out into the cosmos but inward from the cosmos to the earth which reflects your inner thought aspects back to you. When we live on earth between birth and death we have, on the one hand, the life of the sun. The sun is out there; we are on earth and look at the sun. After death the sun immediately disappears, for we ourselves are then the sun, and we do not see something which we ourselves are. We simply move on into the life of the sun, and it is this transition which I have been describing to you. The fact that our actions become ourselves is connected with this. And as we move away from the earth, the things we have experienced through the earth become something we look at.

Here we are on earth and look to the sun. We see the earth beneath us, which is due to the physical, material nature of the earth. The sun does not exist in material form. As I have said before, the things physicists are saying about it are mere fantasy. When we ourselves are in the sun and look back, we have the whole world of the spirit with all the hierarchies behind us. Here on earth we look down and see solid matter. Between death and rebirth we have the world of the hierarchies behind us. Thus we will be sun and see the true sun, which is of the spirit. The earth may be called sky then; it will be the sky we create out of our inner experiences. This will also be the future life on Jupiter. I have given you a clear picture of it all. Everything human beings weave around the earth with their feelings and thoughts will remain. The physical earth of today will perish. When we are between death and rebirth today we can see what is woven in the inner life. Later, when the earth is coming to an end, this will be the reality of a new earth; the old earth will melt away, and everything human beings have inwardly lived through will be the future of the earth.

This is how the metamorphosis will come about in real terms. It is superficial and abstruse to say: “Earth will become Jupiter”. We only gain insight into the process if we know that the physical substance of the earth will melt away into cosmic space; it will turn to dust. The tissue woven around it out of our feelings will be the future earth; it will grow denser and denser and become the true Jupiter planet.

Today, geologists dig down into the deeper layers of the earth and uncover strata that evolved a long, long time ago. In future, on Jupiter, it will be possible to investigate the layers that have evolved there. All kinds of strata formed of human feelings and thoughts will be found. A Jupiter geologist will clear away one layer after the other, for instance, and just like a geologist on earth will say: “This is the Lower Permian; these are Tertiary strata”, so our Jupiter geologist will say: “Ah, here is a layer going back to the early 20th century, as they called it on earth. It is the layer produced by the thoughts and feelings of all the racketeers who lived almost everywhere on earth then.” Just as we speak of the Silurian system today, for instance, they will be able to speak of the “racketeer system” in time to come. There will be other layers as well, of course, and these things are absolutely real.

We are not permitted to let our inner experiences pass away. They are world in the becoming. All that human beings are able to see even now in conscious awareness between death and rebirth is this substance of a future world. When we are here on earth we look at many things around us and also at the moon. This is part of our world in a quite specific way, for it reflects the light of the sun. We only see the moon’s surface in so far as the sun weaves a garment for it. Thus it is really the sun which is shining for us when the moon shines; except that the sun’s rays take a roundabout route. Being an earth satellite, the moon has quite a special relationship to us.

In life between death and rebirth we have first of all our inner world, the effects of all our actions that have arisen out of the will; this is the sphere of our inner world, a central core surrounded by our feelings and thoughts radiating out into cosmic space. But there is also something which is like the moon. I’d say we see the moon from the other side. This life in the sphere has different laws of perspective than life here on earth has, and some things connected with those laws are difficult to express because the laws on earth are so different. Between death and rebirth we are, in a sense, not outside the moon but inside it. We always have a certain connection with the moon and are inside it, as it were. Here on earth we always see the reflected sunlight. Between death and rebirth we always see the inside of the moon.

The different perspective can perhaps be more clearly understood if I put it like this.

Earth and Moon
Fig. 5

Let us assume this is the earth (drawing; white); the moon orbits around it (red). For the situation we have after death, of course, we have to consider not just this spherical body but the whole sphere in which the moon orbits. We perceive this from inside. At first we move away from the earth within this sphere, remaining within it for a long time—here, and here, and so on. Later we come to be outside the moon sphere, however, and then, of course, we cannot see it from inside. But we do not see it from the outside either. It ceases to be visible or perceptible for us, but remains as a memory.

Outside the Moon sphere
Fig. 6

Moving out of the moon sphere we see a vision on its inner wall; the memories we retain of this we retain as the effects an earlier life on earth has had on our later life on earth. This moon actually preserves the events of one life on earth as something that comes into effect in a later life on earth. The way the contents of one life on earth live on from one earth life into those that follow is connected with the moon and the whole of its mystery within the cosmos.

When we are on the earth and look out into cosmic space we have one particular view; it is the view we have between birth and death. Between death and rebirth we have a different view, for we are inside the sphere and look back to the central core. We then have a world that in a sense is the opposite of our present world. Yet the things which the moon preserves, concentrates and so on, are carried through both worlds. In its own way, the moon is a heavenly body that is immensely important to us, for it mediates between different lives on earth. It is not, of course, the cinder we see as a shining light when we are here on earth but the moon in the full mystery of its cosmic reality.

You see the way in which the life of an individual human being unites with the life of the whole cosmos. When we are here between birth and death we see, in a sense, what is left over from earlier worlds, from the Saturn, Sun and Moon phases of earth existence. We see it surrounded with the glory of the phenomena that are all around us. All this points more or less to the past. But everything we bear inside us and everything we ourselves do here on earth, points to the future. In a sense, we already see this future casting its reflection on the present as we go through the experiences between death and rebirth, where the inner becomes outer, and the outer becomes inner.

If you take the full meaning of what I have been saying here in recent weeks about the way human beings carry their life between death and rebirth into this life on earth, you’ll find that it is really very similar. I told you that anything we experience outwardly with regard to the outer cosmos, all the way to the constellations of the planets, reappears in our internal organization, whilst everything that was then our inner life has become outer life. After death we have a similar situation: The outside world created out of ourselves becomes our inner part; our inner experiences—gained from the environment or, as I said, as satisfaction or self-reproach in response to our actions—are an inner world which then becomes outside world, like a firmament that looks out towards us from the centre, out into cosmic space.

Another way of putting it, providing people do not misunderstand, is to say that our outer life becomes our inner life, our sun life, for we then dwell in the sun; our inner life, in so far as it was experienced on earth, will be the heavens, except that we now see heaven beneath us. Earth is heaven, sun is earth in the life between death and rebirth.

It really is true to say: This other aspect of the world must be something we truly see and it must be added to the view of the world which the intellectual human beings of today consider to be the only one. Then and only then will we have a complete image of the world. And we’ll feel ourselves to be in the world in quite a different way. This other image of the world is exactly what I am always talking about in anthroposophy. Unlike the passive image we gain from external observation this is an active image, something in which we must be actively involved. To read books on anthroposophy you have to let your thoughts become mobile. People who are only used to things the way they generally are today are not willing to do this; they want to have everything presented smoothly, so that their thoughts may be quiet, passive images of what has been given and they can, in a way, be a little bit asleep in relation to the world around them.

In life between birth and death, human beings have a physical body, ether body, astral body and I. The I may be called the highest principle here on earth. When we go to live on the sun after death, the I is really the lowest principle; there follow, from below upwards, the spirit self, and then the life spirit and spirit human being which will only come into physical existence in later periods of evolution, though human beings develop them in spirit when they are between death and rebirth. It is in fact the spirit self which radiates into cosmic space as an image of earth. The I lives in the sun, and the light of the spirit self is reflected by the earth. The other elements are higher ones that come to human beings from the cosmos and to begin with have nothing to do with their inner life. The light that shines out towards human beings will appear in a new life and become life spirit. Into the actions of the human being enters a high spiritual substantiality, shivering through them—the spirit human being. This is something given and received from the cosmos when we are out there. When we come down to earth at birth we receive our physical and ether bodies.

When we have gone through the gate of death we receive our life spirit and spirit human being; they are given to us as garments. But the I we shall have will be truly our own—I have given you an outline of this. And the spirit self which shines out from the earth truly is a finely woven planetary existence between death and rebirth, something that is like a transformed earth for us on which we look back and on which we continue to weave from life to life. When the earth will have come to the end of its present development, human beings will go on with it to Jupiter. Thanks to the substance we have woven we shall be able to develop a physical spirit self on Jupiter, having laid the foundations for this through our own inner activity during life on earth.

That is truly the way evolution proceeds. You see, we need not put words together in an outer sense—earth existence, Jupiter existence—and describe these things in an external, abstract way, for if we grasp the human being as a whole, it is perfectly possible to describe the transition from one to the other. We have to be able to develop the ideas that enable us to grasp visions like this: Our feelings and thoughts, spreading out inside us, shine out from the earth like planets and stars into the cosmos where we then live; or this: The people with whom we have been connected will then be carried inside us. Human life is complex. People who want to stake out a few ideas and develop a whole philosophy of life on that basis have little perception of the real situation. This can only be developed if we consider the whole of life. Yet even the life of the smallest beetle is highly complex, and it would be quite wrong to imagine that the life of the macrocosm, to which the human being relates as microcosm, is such that we can grasp it with a few simple ideas.

We’ll continue with this tomorrow.

Principles making up the human being
during life on earth during life between death and rebirth
astral body spirit human being
ether body life spirit
physical body spirit self