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Outer and Inner Life
GA 208

21 October 1921, Dornach

Translator Unknown

Let us consider a few facts connected with man and his relation to the universe in respect of body, soul and spirit. We have seen that in a certain way man’s experiences between death and a new birth, which were connected with the whole universe, enter his inner life during his earthly existence. We have seen that what we experience before birth or conception in the form of outer experiences, is afterwards contained within us, in our inner life. Let us now consider man’s relation to the universe from another aspect, namely that his experiences between birth and death go with him through the portal of death and become experiences of the new existence through which he passes between death and a new birth. In man we must distinguish what he has (I mean, during his earthly life), to begin with, as his inner life, and what separates from this as a kind of external life.

Inner Life: We may first indicate man’s feelings, the inner content of his feelings between birth and death. This constitutes his real inner life. What he feels in regard to the impressions left upon him by the external world, or in regard to his own inner experiences, his feelings of approval or reproach towards his actions, which are the expressions of his will, all this is something which man more or less settles with his own self during his earthly life. He may allow others to look into it, but the essential thing is the way in which man settles all this with his own self. His experiences in connection with perception are, as we already know from our preceding lectures, not real experiences, but they form a world of semblance which surrounds him. In reality, this world is neither inside nor outside; man participates in it and it becomes his inner world only because he develops thoughts and feelings connected with it and because it stimulates him to this or that action. His attitude towards it is essentially the result of capacities he brings along with him through birth. This attitude towards the external world, also his place in the world, the nation he belongs to by birth, etc., all this depends on his preceding earthly and spiritual life. Consequently it points backwards rather than forwards. But something else must be considered that connects us with the external world. What is rooted in our will and passes over into our actions becomes part of the external world. Everything taking place through our actions brings about a change in the external world. The least thing we do transforms the external world.

We may now say: The external world which we ourselves prepare through our actions is rooted in our will. It is related to us in the same way in which the events during sleep are related to us. With our consciousness, with our ordinary consciousness, we are just as unable to look into the depths of our volitional world, as into the conditions which exist during sleep.

All that really takes place in the sphere of the will thus remains inaccessible to our consciousness. I have often explained this as follows: The whole volitional process which takes place when we move an arm or a hand, the forces which develop in these movements, are not accessible to our consciousness. Yet we see the movement of the hand. We see the changes which we bring about; when we simply move something to another place we see this change through our forces of perception. We may therefore say: Our perceptions enable us to know something about the expressions of our will. The human will and the effects which it produces flow, as it were, into man’s sphere of perceptions.

Let us bear in mind our recent lectures. In these we explained that we have, to begin with, man’s physical body, (see drawing) and then his etheric body. In between lies the weaving world of thought, in so far as it is incorporated in the human organism. Between the etheric and the astral bodies lies the world of feeling, and between the astral body and the sheath of the Ego lies the world of the human will.

Man's constitution

Our ordinary consciousness is really unable to distinguish the volitional world from the Ego. For the will is united with the Ego. Everything that takes place in the Ego when it wills or does something, does not enter our ordinary consciousness in a direct way. This lives below the surface of our ordinary consciousness, like the events which take place during sleep.

In our physical body we have sense-organs and these are endowed with perception. This also enables us to perceive the manifestations of our will. The physical body has eyes and ears and through these sense-organs we perceive what comes from the Ego and from the sphere of the will. Man’s perceptions, which constitute his most external part, thus become united with what he experiences through his will and his Ego. (See arrow in drawing.)

Consider the following: The will-processes in the depths of the human organism, which arise whenever we walk a few steps, the forces which induce us to move our legs—all this is not accessible to our ordinary consciousness. After a few steps we see a different environment, or at least we see it from a different standpoint. In this changed aspect, sense-perception gives us something which thought transmits during our ordinary state of consciousness; it gives us a picture of what ordinarily lives in the depths of a waking state of sleep. So that whenever our Ego is filled by will-impulses and these become actions, no matter whether brought about by walking or by taking hold of something, or by any kind of activity, this is experienced through perception. Through our will, we really belong to the external world of our perception. By developing what may thus be observed in connection with the manifestations of our will, we do not reach our real inner being. Although our will streams out of the innermost depths of our being, we grow conscious of it by passing through an external process, or rather a sum of external processes connected with the body. But let us now consider man’s inner life. There is, to begin with, his weaving world of thoughts. The way in which thoughts are active outside in the work does not touch the present subject.

Outwardly, the world of thoughts exists in such a way that it brings certain logical, lawful connections into our perceptions. We classify Nature. We see plants which resemble each other and classify them; we see animals which resemble each other and classify them. We also try to discover the laws of Nature. What we thus unfold, does not really belong to our inner life. All this is science, which we share with every other person. It does not form part of our inner life. Yet we cannot simply assert that everything connected with thought does not form part of our inner life. It suffices to bear in mind that when we see a beautiful landscape (through external perception) and develop thoughts about it, we may recall this picture at any time, even if this memory grows pale. The things connected with the external world therefore become part of our inner world. The same may be said of other experiences connected with the external world, which become thoughts forming part of our inner world. To begin with, these thoughts pervade our etheric body, yet they also unite with feeling, which reaches as far as the astral body.

All this takes place inwardly. The inner side of thought-life, and the life of feeling, really constitute man’s inner world. What we experience in connection with the inner aspect of our thoughts and with our feelings cannot really be sought in an outer world. Whenever we want to know something about the outer world, we must look into us, into our inner life. I have already told you that we may speak with other people and indirectly allow them to look into us, but our inner life is the essential thing. It is possible to distinguish clearly what constitutes external life, through the fact that we constantly bring our inner world into the outer world.

When a train brings us at night from the West to the East of Switzerland, we are in an entirely different environment in the morning and it is our perception which makes us aware of this change. We have brought our inner life with us. It was the same in one place and in the other, perhaps modified by what induced us to turn towards our inner being, by the thoughts which induced us to do so; in fact, by what has become our inner life.

If we want to, we may therefore distinguish quite clearly between that which constitutes man’s real inner life, psychically woven out of thought and feeling and based on reciprocal, rhythmical processes of the etheric and astral bodies, and that which constitutes in a certain sense our external world, psychically woven out of the content of our will and the content of our perception, and bodily woven out of the Ego and the physical body. For we take along with us our physical body, we observe it and see that it enters into different relations with the world. As explained just now, we may distinguish inner and outer life.

This distinction is very important if we want to observe the life which man carries through the portal of death. In a compendious way we may describe how the inner and outer life characterised just now, will behave after death, for we may say that the outside becomes inside, and the inside becomes outside.

In fact, this is the great change which takes place when we die. Outer life becomes inner life. Even as we are now able to feel our soul’s inner being—for we can see that our inner soul-life is woven out of thoughts and feelings and we address this inner being with "I"—so after death all our perceptions connected with our actions become our inner life. But what we now experience as our inner being, the contemplation of everything we did here on earth, is concentrated, as it were, in a point, or rather in a sphere. Everything we did, we carry through death as an inner memory, as pictures of our whole earthly existence. Here we therefore have a complete reversal. For what was outside, what could only be perceived by looking upon our actions, becomes our inner life. Even as now we live in our feelings, in the impressions gained from outside, so after death we live in our actions. Our actions then become our inner life.

After death, we ourselves become what we have done to a person, in the form of good or evil deeds. Such things should not be imagined abstractly, we should not think that a vague kind of Ego slips through death and then changes, or undergoes a slight change, but we ourselves become what we have done, right into the very details. After death, we are each one of our actions. We are each one of our experiences and we address them all with "I".

On the other hand, our inner life becomes an outer life. All our thoughts, the whole life of our feelings, become an external world. Even as we are now surrounded either by the shining sun and the clouds, or at night by the starry sky and its movements, so after death we are surrounded by the external world of our thoughts and feelings; that is, everything that now constitutes our innermost being, becomes part of the external world after death, and we see it outside in mighty pictures. The sky which shines down upon us after death, is our present inner life, our inner human essence. If I were to describe this in detail I would have to say: I have explained to you just now that our actions become a sphere, that we experience them as our inner being. We experience again and again all our activities here on earth; we again walk as we have walked. After death we change, as it were, into something that experiences its own actions in an ever growing sphere. We always look back upon the earth. Even as now we look out into the world’s spaces and behold the sun and the stars, so then we look back upon the earth. And we see the earth surrounded by the pictures of our preceding inner world.

We do not only experience the semblance of our inner world, but from the site we abandoned, and sending a reflexion after our own self, we experience all that once constituted our inner world; we experience it in the form of clouds, stars, and so forth, streaming out of this site. We feel ourselves within the former peripheric world, and we experience the earth upon which we once stood, as a centre, but outside. And we always look towards it. We ourselves live in what surrounds it; the earth at the centre is then the object towards which we look, and mighty pictures are unrolled before us, as our whole inner life unrolls. Outer life becomes inner life. Inner life becomes outer life. This takes place right into the very details.

And when we look down towards the earth, from this sphere spreading out more and more, we then behold, streaming back to us from the earth, all the feelings and sensations we had for other people. And all the other feelings we had, besides those in connection with human beings, appear more in form of clouds. But our feelings for others appear like stars. The human beings themselves, whose forms we see during our life between birth and death, these human beings with whom we now come into contact through experiences caused by our deeds, now constitute a world. All the people with whom we were connected, become part of our inner world.

This is of course reciprocal. Even as every person now bears within him his feelings, or his heart and stomach, so between death and a new birth everyone bears within him all that took place outside in space, and also all that occurred between himself and other people. Of two men who were closely connected, A bears within him the picture of B as his inner content, and B the picture of A. What was outside is now inside; our inner life, our feelings, become an external world, they become the content of a cosmos; what we felt for others, what we obtained from others, all this rays out towards us from the earth.

Man thus really becomes almost the creator of the world which surrounds him after death. During our earthly life, matters stand as follows: We always live in a certain place, and by this I do not only mean trivially that we live in Basle, or Dornach, etc., but any point, any standpoint we have in the world, physically as well as morally. We view the world from this standpoint. We may therefore say that we stand at a certain point and see the world perspectively from this point. But this is a subjective view, for every other person has another standpoint.

Things change after death. There, all men already have something in common. This common element is the sphere. Yet each person has had a different inner life, consequently the earth appears to each surrounded by different clouds, by different stars. It is as if we were all standing upon the same point of the earth, yet each one sees another picture. When we die, we discard the physical body. In the lectures I gave during the past weeks, I have already explained that the physical body is dissolved by the earthly kingdom as such. What remains, is the web spun out of our deeds, by what we see when we follow up our deeds, or the manifestations of our will, through perception. Think of all the ways you have gone on earth: As an infant you first crept about, then you began to walk, you made a long journey, and so forth. All this becomes your inner life. Yet this is only its outermost structure.

Every single thing you did is spun together and forms a web. This stretches out and becomes a sphere. This is your inner life and the fact that it becomes inner life is a guarantee for your Ego during your earthly existence. For man obtains his Ego from the earth, or through the earth. Because after death everything is spun together in this picture of perception and memory, we may take our Ego with us through death. But our real inner experiences are lived through again immediately after death, when the etheric body dissolves shortly after we have died.

The etheric body dissolves into the cosmic spaces and this brings about the fact that all the thoughts and feelings woven out of the etheric body, but with an astral influence as well, change into forms of clouds, or—as I have pointed out—into forms of stars which surround the earth. What falls away from us in two directions—towards the earth, and out into the cosmic spaces, into the air, as it were,—constitutes our inner and our outer world, when we pass through the life between death and a new birth.

Imagine quite vividly the world which surrounds you between death and a new birth. There are your actions, in so far as they come from the will, and these constitute your inner life. There is your feeling and thinking life in the form of a cosmos, as an external world. You do not look out into the world’s spaces, but from the cosmic spaces you look towards the earth, and the earth rays back to you your inner thought-aspects.

When we live here on earth, between birth and death, we have on the one hand, the life of the sun. The sun is outside and we stand upon the earth and see the sun. When we die, the sun immediately vanishes. For then we ourselves are the sun and we cannot see what we are. We simply pass over into the life of the sun. And what I have described to you above, is our passage through the life of the sun.

That we ourselves become our actions, is connected with the fact that we pass over into the life of the sun. When we have left the earth, our earthly experiences become something we behold. Here we stand upon the earth and look at the sun and we see the earth below our feet. This is due to the peculiar material structure of the earth. But the sun has no material structure. What physicists say in regard to this, is pure invention. I have often spoken of this. When we ourselves exist, as it were, within the sun and look back, we have the whole spiritual world behind us, the world of the Hierarchies. Even as here on earth we see solid matter when we look down, so between death and a new birth we have behind us the world of the Hierarchies. Thus we ourselves are sun and we behold the real sun, which is spiritual. We may say that the earth is then the sky. But it is a sky which we ourselves prepare through our inner experiences.

This will be the ease in future, this is how the future existence of Jupiter will arise. I have already explained this in detail. Everything we weave around the earth through our feelings and thoughts, will remain. The now existing material earth will vanish, for it will decay. Between death and a new birth, we are able to behold our inner experiences. This will change into reality, when the earth decays, and it will form the new earth, for the old earth will dissolve and all our inner experiences will constitute the future earth.

This is the real process of metamorphosis. When we simply say, the earth will become Jupiter, this is an abstract statement. We can only understand this process by knowing that all earthly, external substance will melt away into the cosmic spaces, it will become dust, whereas the web spun out of our feelings will form the future earth; it will condense more and more and become the planet of Jupiter.

Geologists now dig into the sub-soil of the earth and sometimes discover strata which have arisen in very remote ages; similarly, during the Jupiter existence, it will be possible to investigate the different strata which have thus formed themselves. All kinds of strata formed out of human feelings and thoughts will be discovered, lying one on top of the other. A Jupiter geologist may, for example, discover various strata, and in the same way in which a geologist upon the earth may say, here are the lower strata, the tertiary strata, so a geologist upon Jupiter will one day ascertain: Here is a stratum pointing back to an age which was called upon the earth the 20th century, the early 20th century; this is a stratum formed by the materialists and profiteers, who spread their thoughts and feelings over nearly the whole world. Even as we now speak of a Silurian stratum, so it will in future be possible to speak of a "Profiteer-stratum". Of course, one will also speak of other strata. But these things are realities.

It is not allowed to man to let his inner experiences vanish. They are a developing world; they will one day be a real world. And between death and a new birth, human consciousness may already look upon that which will in future become a world; indeed, this is the only thing man beholds after death.

Among the many different things in our environment, we also observe the Moon when we stand here upon the Earth. But the Moon is there in a very special way. It sends back to us the reflected sunlight. We can only see its surface, as it were, in so far as its garment is woven by the sunlight. So that when the Moon is shining, it is really the Sun that is shining for us; the sun’s rays come to us indirectly. The Moon, the earth’s satellite, is connected with us in a special way.

During the life between death and a new birth we thus have, to begin with, our inner world, the effect of all our actions in so far as these are rooted in the will, and this inner world, this sphere or central kernel, is surrounded by our feelings and thoughts, which ray out into the cosmic spaces. Yet after death there also exists something resembling the Moon. I might say: After death we see the Moon from the other side. Our existence within a sphere is subjected to laws of perspective which differ from those which exist here on Earth and it is, of course, difficult to explain certain things connected with the laws of perspective which exist after death. This is very difficult, because between death and a new birth we are, in a certain sense, inside, not outside the Moon. In a certain way, we are always connected with the Moon’s inner being. We live, as it were, within the Moon. Even as here upon the earth we continually see the reflected sunlight, so between death and a new birth we always see the inside of the Moon.

But as stated, there the perspective changes. Let us assume that here we have the Earth with the Moon circling round it. We must take into consideration the whole sphere, the whole orbit of the Moon if we take the after-death aspect and the conditions which apply to it. We must consider the whole sphere in which the Moon revolves, and this sphere is really perceived from within. To begin with, we go further and further away from the Earth by moving within this sphere. There, we cannot look at the Sun from within. But at the same time we do not see it from outside, because it becomes invisible; we cannot perceive it. The Sun remains as a memory. What we first behold as we move away from the Earth, what becomes, as it were, visible upon the inner wall of the Moon, or the Moon’s sphere, and is retained as a memory, are the effects of a former earthly life in a subsequent one. It is, in fact, the Moon that preserves the events of one earthly life, and these appear in a subsequent earthly life as effects of the former life. For the whole mystery of the Moon in the cosmos is connected with the fact that the content of one earthly life continues and is taken along into the next earthly life.

This is the aspect presenting itself when we stand upon the Earth and look out into the cosmic spaces—the aspect between birth and death. But there is another aspect, the one between death and a new birth, when we live within a sphere and look back upon the central kernel. We then exist in a world which is, in a certain sense, opposed to the one we now live in. Yet we carry through both these worlds that part of our being which has been concentrated, etc. upon the Moon, preserved by the Moon. The Moon is, in a certain sense, highly important to us as a celestial body. The Moon connects our different earthly lives; it is not, of course, that slag shining down upon the Earth; in its whole mysterious cosmic essence it forms a connecting link.

You see, the individual life of men is thus connected with the life of the whole universe. Here, between birth and death, we can see what has been left to us by former worlds, what has remained from the Saturn, Sun and Moon existences and from the past existence of the Earth. We perceive all this when we live here upon the Earth, surrounded by the radiant phenomena above us. This more or less points back to the past.

Everything we bear within us and what we ourselves do upon this Earth points to the future. And we already behold this future during our life between death and a new birth, sending, as it were, a reflexion into the present—we see it, when our inner life becomes outer life and our outer life inner life. If you consider the whole meaning of the descriptions which have just been given to you, if you consider that man carries his after-death life into his earthly life, you will find that this resembles his experiences in connection with the outer world, reaching as far as the stars, the planets; this reappears in his organisation, it rises up again in his inner being. And man’s inner being becomes his outer world. After death, something similar takes place. The external world which man formed for himself, all the actions that went out from him, become his inner world. All his inner experiences, derived either from his surroundings or from his actions, giving rise to feelings of satisfaction or of self-reproach, all this inner world becomes his outer world and it looks towards him like a firmament, but this firmament is now at the centre and it looks towards him, i.e. out into the cosmic spaces.

If we do not misunderstand this, we might also say: Man’s outer life becomes his inner life, his Sun-life, for he becomes an inhabitant of the Sun. Man’s inner being, in so far as he experienced it upon the Earth, becomes his firmament. But he now inhabits the firmament. The Earth becomes sky, the Sun becomes Earth, during the life between death and a new birth.

When true vision adds this other aspect of the world to the intellectual world-conception which modern man gains here on Earth, the only conception which he accepts, only then will a complete picture of the world stand before us. We shall then have entirely different feelings in regard to the world. This other picture of the world is, in reality, the one described in Anthroposophy, it is the picture I have always described to you, in contrast to the world-conception formed through external observation; the picture I have always described to you is the active picture, for we must participate in it actively. Your thoughts must become mobile when you read anthroposophical books. And your thoughts must become mobile whenever you listen to an anthroposophical lecture. But people who are only accustomed to the things offered to them by modern life do not want to be active in their thought, they prefer to obtain everything passively, so that also their thoughts are merely passive pictures of what they obtain, and in doing this they always sleep a little, as it were.

These things arise in this form because during his life between birth and death man has a physical body, an etheric body, an astral body, and an Ego. In regard to earthly life, the Ego is man’s highest part. After death, when he passes over into the Sun-existence, his Ego is the lowest member, and the next one from below is the Spirit-Self, then the Life-Spirit, and then Spirit-Man. Physically, they will exist only in future epochs of evolution, but between death and a new birth they develop spiritually.

The Spirit-Self, in fact, rays out into the cosmic spaces as the image of the Earth. The Ego lives in the Sun, in the life of the Sun, and the Spirit-Self rays back from the earth, as described above. The other members are higher forms, which afterwards come to man from the cosmos, but at first they have nothing to do with his inner being. What rays out towards him appears to him in a new life; through this it becomes "Life Spirit". And man’s deeds are pervaded by a high spiritual substantiality throbbing through them. This will be given to him by the cosmos, he receives it, as it were, outside, in the cosmos. When he comes down to birth, he obtains a physical body and an etheric body, and similarly when he has passed through the portal of death, he obtains a Life-Spirit and Spirit-Man, which are his garments. From man himself comes what constitutes his Ego. And between death and a new birth, all that rays out from the Earth becomes a finely woven planetary existence, something which can only be felt as a trans-formed earth; we look back upon it and we go on weaving it from life to life.

When the Earth will have reached the end of its evolution, man will therefore proceed with the Earth to the Jupiter-stage of existence, and what he has thus woven, will enable him to unfold his Spirit-Self physically upon Jupiter. The foundation for this has been laid during his earthly life, through his inner being.

These are the real processes. This is the true course of development. You see, it is not necessary to combine outer words—Earth-existence, Jupiter-existence, etc.—nor to describe things abstractly from outside, for when we grasp man in his totality it is quite possible to describe the transition from one stage to the other. Our thoughts must only be formed in such a way as to take hold of concepts such as the following: The thoughts and feelings extending within us, ray out from the Earth into the cosmic spaces like planets, like stars, and we ourselves then live with the cosmos; we bear within us the other human beings with whom we were associated.

Human life is complicated. But people who wish to build up a world-conception by setting up a few concepts do not have any real feeling for what is right. We can only build up a world-conception by viewing the totality of life. Life is very complicated even in the smallest bug, and we should not imagine that in the whole universe—and man is connected with it, as a microcosm—life is formed in such a way that we may grasp it by setting up a few thoughts.