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Cosmosophy II
GA 208

Lecture VII

4 November 1921, Dornach

Having considered the way human beings relate to the cosmos in the form of the human organization, in levels of life and with regard to the contents of their inner life, let us today consider the life of the mind and spirit This will be in preparation for our subject for the next two days.

Remember how we considered the form of the human organism, relating the human organization to the fixed stars out in the cosmos. To consider the levels of human life, we had to look at our own planetary system. For the phenomena of the inner life we had to change our line of approach and relate the inner nature of human beings to their physical organization, which they owe to the fixed stars and the planetary system. Looking at form and life, we perceived the differences between head organization, chest organization, and metabolism and limbs as a third organization. We found that the inner life of sensory perception and of ideas comes into its own through the head organization, through nerves and senses. We found that the life of feeling comes to expression through the breathing and circulatory organization, and the life of will through the system of metabolism and limbs. For our study of the inner life, account had to be taken of the way the I, astral body, ether body and physical body act together in the human being. We gained a general idea of the way soul and body interact, even at the level of glandular function, and of muscle function being made to serve the will, and found that account had to be taken of the way the soul principle comes to expression in the living body.

To study the life of mind and spirit, we have to consider the alternation between waking and sleeping. As you know, this consists in the first place in life swinging to and fro between day-time waking state and night-time sleep within the 24-hour day. We also know that human beings are awake and asleep in another way, for we are really only fully awake when we form ideas and perceive with the senses. The life of the will and of physical actions is really a life of sleep even when we are awake.

The life of feelings, we know, is a dream life even when we are awake. This, then, is another way in which human beings let life swing to and fro between waking and sleeping. Waking sleep, as we may call it, influences the life of ideas when we bring an act of will to expression and are awake in our doing by being able to form an idea of the action. We do, however remain unconscious of what actually happens when we perform the action, as unconscious as when we are asleep.

The fact that we feel ourselves to be individual beings we really owe to sleep. If we were always awake and given up to the life of ideas, our experience of the world would be limited to a sequence of images. We would have the feeling that we are at rest, as it were, in a fixed location in the universe, and the universe itself would be present in form of images. The I, too, would be no more than a kind of mirrored reflection. We are brought back to ourselves in our wide-awake life of ideas in two ways. Firstly, we pour into this life the continual memory of being in a condition of sleep between going to sleep and waking, a condition in which we do not experience anything. Secondly, we have indefinite recollections of our will intent, that is, of something that is sleep-like by nature, playing into conscious life. This gives us a feeling for the I and the I impulse. In ordinary life we do not have conscious awareness of the I impulse but experience it as a nudge coming from our organization. On the other hand we are aware of it because between going to sleep and waking up we go out into the cosmos with the I, which otherwise does not enter into ordinary consciousness, and astral body, which equally does not come to awareness. It is the dimming-down of consciousness between going to sleep and waking up that comes to conscious awareness.

What is it that puts us to sleep over and over again, pushing our will intent and much of our feeling life into the night-time darkness of the conscious mind? It is the need to develop organic activity in the exercise of the will. In the last lecture we noted that when human beings exercise the will they let their soul principle influence even the life of the muscles. The soul immerses itself in the life of the muscles, as it were, and we become unconscious of it, just as we become unconscious of the soul when it leaves the body and enters into a different state during going to sleep and waking up. We are therefore able to say that it is due to the needs and conditions of the living body that we are consciously aware of our I in ordinary life. It is due to the fact that we have a body which lays claim to the soul when will is to be exercised, and chases the soul down into the unconsciousness of sleep because it wants to balance the energies it develops in will activity. This enables it to mediate full awareness of the I at all times, even though the I exists at an unconscious level.

We are thus able to say that we enter into the living physical body by pouring our spirit, and that means in the first place the soul principle, into it. We shall see in a minute that with the soul principle we actually pour the spirit into the physical body. We feel physically strong when the soul has been poured into the body. We do not feel physically strong, but wide awake, when we have ideas and sensory perceptions.

To have ideas and sensory perceptions means not to live in the body. It is quite wrong to think that we must have imaginative, inspired and intuitive perception to enter into the world of the spirit. People are actually in the world of the spirit when they make sensory perceptions and have ideas. We have seen in these lectures that sensory perceptions depend on dead matter, purely physical apparatus, being embedded in the organism, with only the ether body present in them. In sensory perception we have experiences in the physical apparatus, which does not in itself come to experience . It is the spiritual process in the apparatus that we experience. The content of sensory perception is definitely spiritual by nature. It is merely that when we form ideas we extend the sensory activity to the nerve organization. Nerve activity actually is a process of dying. Organic activity has to be excluded when we want to form ideas. This is why we are definitely in the sphere of the spirit when we have sensory perceptions and ideas.

As we are human, and live between birth and death, our life in this sphere of the spirit is such, however, that we have only images of it. Characteristically, therefore, the things of the spirit first come to conscious awareness in sensory perceptions and ideas, but only in images. We are thus able to say: Sensory perceptions and ideas are experiences of life in the spirit, but only in images (written on the board, see table). When it comes to ideas we are in fact aware that they are abstract by nature and that the images they give are not rich and full. Things turn grey, we might say, when we move back from sensory perception to the life of ideas. That greyness exists only for our conscious life, however, for in reality all ideas developed by human beings contain Imaginations.

I am therefore able to say that ideas contain Imaginations, but these do not come to conscious awareness. The ideas we have in everyday life are a kind of extract of those Imaginations. The imaging process extends back into the body, and a pale reflection of our ideas comes to conscious awareness. Every single time you have an idea you also have an Imagination, but whilst the idea remains in the conscious mind, the Imagination slips down and lives in the general vitality, or vital activity, of your organism.

Fig. 21

To draw it (Fig. 21), I would have to put the head here, with the process of sensory perception (red), then comes the activity of forming an idea (blue, green) based on sensory perceptions, and this really shows a Janus24Janus was an ancient Italian deity said to be the protector of doors and gates. He was shown with a face on the front and another on the back of his head. The month January is named after him. face. In front it is the pale idea which comes to conscious awareness; at the back it is the Imagination which does not become conscious. The Imagination goes down into the organism, where it becomes part of general vital activity. It enters into every organ—it lives in the brain, in the heart, in the lungs, in the kidneys, everywhere. It unites with our general vitality.

Remarkably, the result is this: here, where I have drawn in red and blue, we have the spirit in our picture. None of that which extends down into the physical body comes to conscious awareness, but we experience it as our inner life. The spirit, then, is spirit in the forward direction; it is soul at the back, where it faces the organism (green). In the sphere of the soul, however, it immediately begins to go down into half conscious and unconscious spheres, uniting with the living body.

Below this here (pointing to the drawing) lies unconscious soul activity, and the Imagination vanishes into it. Coming from the other side we have the living physical body, but this is immersed in the night of our consciousness, in sleep, and only comes to expression when it sends the will upwards into conscious awareness. The will is the counter thrust; it makes us physically strong and gives us experience of reality. That experience, however, will at most come up as a feeling. We dream of this reality but essentially do not have it in waking consciousness.

As human beings between birth and death the price we pay for existing in the sphere of the spirit is to experience the spirit in the images of our sensory perceptions and of our ideas. We have living experience of reality, but it enters our conscious mind unconsciously, just as the reality of the outside world comes in unconsciously.

We enter into outside reality, but essentially it enters into us at an unconscious level because we know nothing of the states of sleep when we are out there in the outside reality, which spins a web around us, as it were and enters into us all unconscious. There (pointing to the drawing) we live in the reality, but we live in a physical body, or in an outer, physical element. In so far as we live in the element of the spirit we know it only as image. The physical body is however created out of the spirit, and if we develop our faculty of Imagination, we can gain living insight into the imaginative life that lies at the back of it.

Going further back in the sphere of the soul, we can also gain experience of what in ordinary consciousness are our feelings. First of all, conscious experience of feeling is gained. But behind our feeling lies Inspiration. Every single time you have a feeling you also have an Inspiration. But just as your Imaginations slide down into general vitality when you have ideas, so the Inspiration slides down into the physical body when you feel. You need it down there for your breathing activity and rhythmical function. The Inspiration unites with general rhythmical activity.

I can now put it like this: Further back in us we experience our feelings, and by entering more deeply into these we have inner experience, which is at a dream level. In this, however, Inspiration lies hidden (see Fig. 21).

A hidden Inspiration slips into rhythmical movement and activity, into our breathing and the circulation of the blood. If we were to have a look at someone who was thinking and feeling we might say: You have ideas and you think; this is something you know. But from this activity Imaginations are continuously instilled into every part of your body to maintain your vitality. You feel—and Inspirations are continually going down into your breathing and circulation.

Below this lies will activity. Among the activities of life between birth and death, will activity in the first place belongs purely to the living physical body, and it is experienced as such, for muscle activity lays claim to the spirit. So we have experience of it in the body, but at the sleep level, for only the spirit can be experienced in full consciousness. Here, it sleeps. But there is Intuition in there. It is genuine Intuition when human beings do what I spoke of the last time and send their inner activity and therefore also the spiritual experience they have into their muscle activity in form of images and thus become doers, people with will intent. They are then truly intuiting. They go outside their I life, letting the I enter into something entirely different, which is the movement of muscles and bones. Thus we can say: Intuition slips into metabolic and movement activity. The spirit therefore has its life in Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.

Sensory perceptions,
Living experience in the spirit, but in images;
Imaginations slip into vitality.
Feelings Inner experience, but dreaming;
Inspiration slips into rhythmical activity.
Will activity Living experience in the physical body,
but sleeping; Intuition slips into metabolic
and movement activity.

You see, we now have the spirit wholly inside the body. We have Intuition in metabolism and in the movement of the limbs, Inspiration in rhythmical activity, and Imagination in general vitality. Only the perception of objects exists at the level of images, activity of the spirit in images. Being mere images they are also able to combine with the images of the outside world.

The last time we tried to see soul and body together in our thoughts. We have seen that the soul principle is active in the head and in the nerves and senses, where a continual dying process occurs, which allows the soul principle to come into its own as the organic principle is destroyed.

We have seen that in glandular activity the soul principle lays claim to the physical, but only to a limited extent, so that the gland then secretes matter. When muscles and bones are actively used, the soul principle is completely laid hold of by the physical. I made it very clear that we do not waffle on about an abstract interrelationship between the living physical body, the soul and the spirit, nor of the physical relating in some way to a “psychoid” element. No, we consider the soul in real terms and perceive the way the physical body takes the soul principle into itself and everywhere makes it part of itself. Now we have also seen that the spiritual principle, which initially exists only in images in us, nevertheless also lives in the living physical body.

Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition are not something we grasp the way we do the wind and the clouds. They are something that is very much present in the activity of the living body, slipping across into it, whilst we are only able to hold on to images of the things of the spirit. We are thus also able to penetrate to the spiritual principle in the human being. We can consider the human being in terms of form, of levels of life, of soul content, and of the spirit coming to revelation.

The human form is of course dependent on the fixed stars, but it presents itself to us in visible form. The levels of life are dependent on the planetary sphere. In our ordinary consciousness we cannot see them in physical form. We perceive them in so far as they come to expression in aspects of form. Deep down in us rests the soul principle. We gain access to it by considering the mysterious relationships between the activity of nerves and senses and the soul principle, turning our attention to glandular activity in relation to the life of feeling and everything connected with rhythmical activity. We also saw how the soul principle is connected with the metabolism and limbs. At one extreme of life, however, the spiritual enters into the soul principle; it is only able to take hold of images and pushes Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition down into the physical body. And when the spirit thus pours into the soul, it lives in the soul as the most inward element that human beings possess.

The other extreme does not draw human beings into the particular way in which they have sensory activity from within, ideas and feelings, where human beings go down into the physical, into reality, with their spirit, and where the physical, with the spirit, is tinged with the Inspirations which in turn take in Imaginations that come down. This is something that comes to expression when we contemplate in an inward way a human being who is before us and who is fully at rest. When we study the physiognomy, which shines out when the spirit enters into the living body, sending Inspiration into it, the spirit comes to the surface again, coming out through the impulses given by life and giving the human being first of all the flesh colour of the skin, and whatever else there is by way of physiognomy, showing itself in the noble brow, in the shape of the mouth and chin, the form of the nose, and so on. This spirit, entering into the body as Inspiration, becomes active through the levels of life and thus shows itself in the human being who is at rest.

As soon as people start to walk, to be active, and even if they just blink an eye, we see the Intuition aspect of the spirit which is sent down into the living body. When we look at the way someone walks, and at their gestures, we see the working of that person’s spirit, which, however, enters into the body as Intuition, being present not as spirit but as processes that generate heat, processes of chemical decomposition that occur in the body when a person is active in the world.

When we looked at the form, we had something which the world gives to the human being. Now that we have seen the spirit enter completely into the living body, we find that in activity the human being is in turn giving things to the world. But the price we have to pay for having part in the spirit between birth and death is that we have the spirit not in its reality but in the form of images. We do have the spirit in us as something real when we are between birth and death, but the price we have to pay is that we know this reality only when asleep, albeit in waking sleep. We really should say that life between birth and death means that human beings experience the spirit in the reflected glory of images but have no conscious experience of its reality, which only presents itself through the medium of the living body.

Between birth and death we see the spirit in the living body it has created. It is not really matter which we see, for matter is the outer reflection and not the inner reality of the spirit. We may therefore say that when we see any kind of matter in the world around us or in human beings it always means the the reality is hidden from us and only the surface present itself. There the spirit reveals itself out of the reality of the body and of matter. Fig. 22.

It is different when human beings partake of the spirit. Then the physical aspects, for instance the inner parts of the head—and the outer part, too, if they are not just looking in a mirror, though even then all they have is an image—remain in the background, whilst the spirit is really experienced, though only in its image. In the conscious mind we inwardly see the spirit, but as an image. Sleeping, and also in waking sleep, we perceive the spirit in its activity, but the essential reality of the perception does not come to conscious awareness; it remains outside.

image versus reality
Fig. 22
So if we see a physical surface somewhere we have to say: the spirit is behind it. We cannot enter into the spirit with the conscious mind. In ordinary consciousness we must look for the spirit inwardly, and we experience it only as image. The great change that happens to human beings is this: At death this reality (left) becomes image, and the images we experience (blue, on the right) become reality. Going through the gate of death, human beings begin to experience as their reality the things they only perceived as images before, and the reality which they slept through until then becomes image—an image, however, in which the next life on earth is in preparation, when everything will be the other way round again.

Everything is always completely the other way round.

You see, to consider the human form we have to go a long way, to the great world of the fixed stars. Out in that world lie the impulses responsible for giving the human head, chest and limbs their specific form. Coming closer to the human being we encounter the planetary system, the sphere of the planets, and we find that this creates the levels of life in human beings. Then we have to go right inside the human being to find the soul principle. And when we actually enter into this we find the alternation between waking and sleeping, image and reality. Coming to the human being of mind and spirit we discover the spiritual principle in man.

I am now going to present something to you that many of you may well find to be extraordinarily abstract and indeed most strange. Please take it and think of it as some nuts that you have to crack, for what I intend to develop during these last fifteen minutes may prove important for you when you come to consider the nature of the world one day.

If we really visualize the road we have to travel from the whole universe, the fixed stars, through the planetary system and all the way to inside the human being, something quite specific comes to mind for those who are in a position to have this happen. You see, mathematicians establish the location of a body, or of a point—this is very important for those who work with the theory of relativity today—by thinking of three lines at right angles to one another that intersect in one point.

location of a point
Fig. 23

If they then want to give the location of point A, let us say (Fig. 23), they measure the distance from the three planes defined by the three lines. So if you have those three lines, you can give the location of any point. All it needs is to assume these three axes at right angles to one another, which are called “co-ordinates”. They enable us to define the location of any other point, or line, which after all can only be defined by the points it contains, and so on. (Fig. 23)

Mathematicians are inordinately proud of being able to define any location in this way. They speak of the three coordinates as the x, y and z co-ordinates. Yet for someone who is not just a mathematician but is someone connected with reality, as well as having studied mathematics, a question arises at this point.

Such a person would say: During life between birth and death—our mathematicians today do not work with life between death and rebirth, and everything they work with lies between birth and death—we, as human beings, are really always also in the outer reality, and as human beings we see, or perceive with some other sense, what is in the world outside us. I think you’ll agree that the world looks quite different if I stand in one place or another. When I stand over there—well, there would be a considerable difference due to the fact that when I stand here I look you straight in the eye, and if I were over there I would see you all from the other side. Speaking in terms of reality, then, we can always assess reality only from one particular point of view, for human beings can never completely remove themselves from reality.

In a way modern thinkers are always longing, however, to remove themselves from reality. Physicists want to exclude anything that is subjective. A modern physicist recently asked the question: What exists, really? What has being?—Even in our (German) language, the verb for “to be” (sein) derives from the verb “to see” (sehen), so that if we do not exclude the human being we would have to say, in popular terms: Anything you see, exists.—However, physicists are unable to accept this, and a modern physicist therefore gave the following definition: “Anything that can be measured, exists”. This means the object is not seen in relation to the human being but to an objective measuring rod; the human being is excluded.

Another example of excluding the human being is one I have mentioned on a number of occasions. It is the explanation given for the nebular hypothesis of Laplace. You take a droplet of oil, a playing card on a pin—a sewing pin will also serve—and rotate it, and droplets separate out. But nothing would separate out, and the whole small planetary system would not arise if it were not for the schoolmaster who turned the pin! Yet when people want to explain the universe they leave out the schoolmaster. Otherwise the teacher would have to say: Look, children, there a planetary system is evolving, but I am the one who turns the pin; and out there the great planetary system is evolving, and there is the great God who turns the great pin. The world could not evolve if there were not a god out there, who relatively speaking would be much bigger, as I am the little god to you here.—You see, that is what the teacher should really be saying.

He does not, of course. In modern thinking we have got into the habit of declaring that the point of view does not exist, as it were. It is declared non-existent even in analytical geometry, as I have shown. But then it is difficult to answer the question: Who is it who is looking? Who is really seeing this object here without seeing the x, y and z co-ordinates in perspective? Where is the individual who sees it like this? (Fig. 23) Well, you know, he can’t be in that place, nor in that place, he can’t be in any of those place, for if he were, he’d always see in perspective. But if he were far enough away, over yonder in infinity, he would see the vertical z line in the right way. He’d have to be a devil of a fellow to see this axis of co-ordinates, as it is called, which is shown meeting in a point in Figure 23; for he’d have to be out there in infinity—in that place, that place, and that one, everywhere within infinity. That is the point of view, which has to be everywhere at once, from which to consider all three dimensions as they are at right angles to each other. When we speak of space, and indeed of analytical geometry, the point of view has to be from all points in infinity.

And now let us take the opposite. Let us consider how human beings truly experience themselves inwardly. They feel themselves to be a point at the centre of the universe, and they are really always taking sights. Before them, or rather around them, they have their horizon. Anything at, above or below the horizon is experienced in a way I might describe as follows: They experience along their line of vision—it could also be the line of touch—or somewhere above or below, it might also be over here; in short they increase or decrease the angle, or open it in an upward or downward direction.

line of sight
Fig. 24

Mathematicians do the same thing, but they do so from a specific point of view. In this case they are actually taking the human being into account, though they won’t admit it since it would be disgraceful for a modern thinker to include the human being in one’s approach. So they speak of a point and define a second point somewhere else by determining the deviation from the line of vision. Thus they say: this point here is so far away that there is a possibility—well, I won’t go as far as to introduce you to the cosine, as it is called—of defining it. The point will always be different, however, and so will be its cosine, if the sight is taken from higher up or lower down. And if you really think about it, this is where we find ourselves entirely in the real world. The mathematicians have it; they call it a polar co-ordinate system.

We now arrive at a rather peculiar statement. We are able to say: That’s not a devil of a fellow, for it is always I myself. Wherever I may be, the point at the centre of the co-ordinate system is my point of view. If we are looking at space, which is what we are in fact doing, we are everywhere out there in infinity. We ourselves are that devil of a fellow. But if you consider the centre we have here from everywhere out there in infinity, what lies in between? Between point and infinity lies the circle.

lcircle with a central point
Fig. 25

If you go out to infinity, passing through space, you will find something in there. But if you visualize the point of view that is everywhere in infinity, you are in the region where things are seen from the point of view of the fixed stars. If you move inwards to the centre, you are in the region of the human point of view. Between the two lies the circle, or at least an approximate circle: the movements of the planets. It cannot be any other way. When the human being is mediated to the world through the soul, this has to happen through a circular movement, through spheres. This is simply due to the inner constitution of the universe. We therefore have to find the stars that move in orbits between ourselves and infinity.

You see, in very early times, instinctive clairvoyance established mathematics on the basis of this very real situation: cosmic space with its three dimensions and a point of view everywhere at infinity; the sphere and the centre which is oneself. This was the starting point for the mathematics of old. Today the science has become abstract and deals only in formulae, not reality. But if we consider it in an inner way, as we have been doing, we can still get a feeling for the way in which the science which modern mathematicians are forced to put before their mind’s eye as a system of co-ordinates, or polar co-ordinates, originates in the inner structure of the universe.

You see, if Einstein, or one of his followers, began to talk today, you would almost always find that they base themselves on some form of co-ordinate system and then move on to the theory of relativity. It is not surprising that all things become relative in this case. For as soon as you start to consider reality you have to change, or ought to change, into the devil of a fellow who is everywhere at infinity. And it makes no difference if the distance is a mile, or more, or less, or the diameter of the earth or even the sun—for all things become relative. We have the theory of relativity because the point of view is at infinity and it makes no difference how far things are apart. If you consider all the arbitrary reasons that are given, you find everything becomes relative. That is the true, psychological reason. All you have to do is look into these things.

Tomorrow we shall build on the basis we have gained today.