24 May 1924, Paris
In the lecture yesterday I spoke of how man ascends after death into the super-sensible world and then lives through the experiences connected with the first decades of his post-mortem existence. I said that he spends a certain number of years in the Moon-sphere, coming into contact there with Beings who once lived on the Earth, not in physical but in etheric bodies. These Beings were the Teachers of primeval humanity, inspiring men with the profound wisdom that once existed on Earth and gradually faded away. When the physical Moon separated from the Earth, these Beings went with it; their existence has continued on the Moon and man encounters them there after his death when he is looking back upon his earthly life and living through its experiences.
I have already said that when a man has lived long enough in the Moon region, he passes into the Mercury region. Here he encounters Beings who lead him into a part of the Universe where the Beings are completely different from those on Earth. To this region, however, man belongs between death and a new birth just as surely as during his earthly life he belonged to the Earth.
Let me now add something to the brief sketch given yesterday. — When a man passes through death — this actually takes very little time — he begins his existence in the elements of earth, water, fire and air. Substances that are differentiated on Earth — metals and all other substances — are no longer differentiated when death has actually taken place. All solid substances are ‘earth,' all fluids are ‘water,' all gaseous substances are ‘air,' and everything that radiates warmth is ‘fire' (or ‘warmth'). At the moment of death man is living in this fourfold differentiation of substance. He passes then into the region of cosmic Intelligence. Cosmic thoughts live and weave through this region in which he remains for a few days. Then he reaches the Moon region which I have already described, and from there passes into the Mercury region.
Let me repeat the sequence: man passes first into the region of the Elements, then into the region of cosmic Intelligence, then into the region of the Stars — first the Moon region, then the Mercury region.
We will now consider how a man's life in the Moon region can have a determining effect upon his karma. Before his death he has pursued this or that course in his earthly life, has done good or evil. And with all this behind him he appears before the Moon Beings. These Moon Beings pronounce stern judgment, a cosmic verdict, upon the value or the reverse of good or bad actions for the Universe. A man must then leave behind him in the Moon region the results of his evil actions, everything whereby he has done harm to the Universe. In so doing he leaves a part of himself behind. We must realise more strongly than is usual that man and his deeds and achievements form a unity, that his whole being is bound up with a good or with a bad deed. So that if we have to leave behind us the evil we have wrought, we have to leave part of ourselves behind. In point of fact we pass from this Moon region with only the good we have achieved for the Universe and we are, therefore, mutilated in a certain sense, the extent or degree of mutilation depending upon how far we have allowed evil thoughts to become part of our own being. Everything by which we have injured the Cosmos must be left behind in the Moon region.
If we wish to study man's further progress between death and a new birth, the following facts must be remembered. Man on the Earth is a being whose members are clearly distinguishable from each other. The head takes shape in the embryo and is the most highly developed member; the rest of man's bodily makeup was still unfinished during embryonic. life. In a certain sense this remains the case through the whole of life. The head is the most highly elaborated part of man. After death, however, it is precisely the spiritual part of the head that passes away most rapidly in the spiritual world; it disappears almost entirely during the passage through the Moon region. You must of course understand me correctly: the physical substance falls away with the corpse, but in the head there is not only physical substance, there are forces — super-sensible forces — which form and imbue man's physical body with life. These forces pass through the gate of death and are recognised by Imaginative cognition as the spirit form of man; the head of this spirit form, however, is seen to be steadily disappearing. What actually remains, and can be mutilated, is the rest of the body apart from the head. If a man has in the main been a good man, this part of him can enter the Mercury-sphere more or less complete, whereas if he has been a bad character it will enter that sphere greatly mutilated. With these forces enveloping the soul we pass into our further life between death and a new birth, and it is from these forces that we have to build up the whole of our life during that period.
The spiritual Beings of the Mercury-sphere, who have never assumed human form and in whose environment we now find ourselves, have an important task. From the being who now appears as a headless man — if I may use the expression — all moral blemish has been removed in the Moon-sphere, but not the outcome of the health or illness undergone during earthly life. This is important, for it is both significant and surprising that although a man lays aside his moral blemishes in the Moon region, the spiritual effects of whatever has befallen him in the shape of illness can only be removed in the Mercury region, by those Beings who have never been men.
It is very important to pay attention to the fact that the spiritual consequences of illnesses are taken away from men in the Mercury region. From this we realise that in the world of stars — which is actually the world of the Gods — the physical and the moral interweave. A moral blemish cannot enter the spiritual world; it remains behind in the Moon region, the inhabitants of which are Beings especially concerned with men, because at one time they lived among them. The Beings indwelling Mercury were never inhabitants of the Earth. It is these Beings who take away from man the consequences of illnesses. The illnesses are seen streaming out as it were into cosmic space; their spiritual consequences are absorbed into the spiritual cosmos and the process is actually fraught with a kind of satisfaction. For the man who experiences this between death and a new birth it will be the first impression, a purely spiritual one, and yet as real to him as anything in earthly existence. Just as here on Earth we experience the wind, the lightning, the flow of water, so, when we have passed through the gate of death and entered the Mercury region, do we experience the departure of the spiritual effects of illnesses. We see how they are absorbed by the spiritual Beings and we are left with the impression: Now be propitiated, O ye Gods! — I can only touch on this to-day; tomorrow we shall be able to go more deeply into this experience of how the Gods are propitiated for the evil done on Earth — propitiated as a result of the effects of illnesses streaming out into the wide Universe.
These important facts of life between death and a new birth were once known to men, in the days when the Beings who afterwards became Moon dwellers — the great primeval Teachers — were at hand to instruct them. Then, too, men recognised that the truth concerning the nature of illnesses can be known only when the truth comes from the Mercury Beings; hence all medical knowledge, all knowledge of healing, was the secret of the Mercury Mysteries. In such Mysteries a man was not in the same position as he is in the universities of to-day. Higher Beings from the regions of the stars actually worked through the rites enacted in these Mysteries. In those ancient days the Gods themselves were men's teachers, and medicine was the wisdom transmitted to them directly by the Mercury Beings in the Mysteries; hence this ancient medicine was regarded by men as a gift of the Gods. Fundamentally speaking, whatever is effective in medicine to-day either originates from olden times, as an aftermath of what men learnt from the Mercury Gods, or it must be rediscovered through those methods which enable men eventually to have converse with the Gods, to learn from them. The stream of ancient wisdom has run dry, has disappeared; a new wisdom, based once again upon intercourse with the Gods, must be found. This is the mission of Anthroposophy in all the different domains.
From the Mercury region man comes into the region of the Venus-existence. The Beings who inhabit Venus and are far more remote from earthly beings than the inhabitants of Mercury, will change what he brings with him into this region in such a way that it can advance to further stages in the spiritual world. This, however, is possible only because on passing into the Venus region, man enters into a new element. While we are living here on Earth, much depends upon our having thoughts, concepts, ideas. For what would a man be on Earth without them? Thoughts are useful, and we as human beings are intelligent because we have thoughts that have some value. Especially at the present time it is very important that man should be intelligent. Nearly everyone is intelligent nowadays; it was not always so but to-day it certainly is. And after all, the whole of earthly life depends upon the fact that men have thoughts. The splendid achievements of technology have all sprung from human thoughts; everything good or bad that man brings about on Earth has sprung ultimately from his thoughts. And in the Moon region thoughts are still an important factor, for the judgment of the Beings in that region is based upon how the good or bad deeds have arisen from thoughts. The Beings in the Mercury region too, still judge the illnesses from which they must liberate men, according to the thoughts. But here, in a certain sense, is the boundary up to which thought — anything that recalls human intelligence — has significance, for the Venus region into which man now passes, is ruled by what is known to us on Earth, in its reflection, as love. Here, love takes the place of wisdom; we enter the region of love. Man can pass into the Sun-existence only when love leads him into it out of the sphere of wisdom.
The following question may suggest itself to you: How does a man actually experience these things of which he becomes aware through spiritual perception? — You will no doubt have read what I have written about exercises for the soul in the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment, and will know that a man may gradually develop this perception through such exercises. When he succeeds in developing Imaginative consciousness he first experiences his whole life back to his birth, presented in one great spiritual tableau. What is experienced in a natural way after death is experienced through Initiation at any moment of life. When this experience reaches the stage of Inspiration, however, it reveals something that shines through this tableau of human life. Now this is the significant point: we cannot speak truly about the concatenation of the secrets underlying these things until we have reached a certain age. This has always been so. A man may be initiated at any time of life, but it is only at a certain age that through his own perception of these things he is able to have an all embracing survey of cosmic secrets.
The reason is that when a man looks back over his life tableau it presents itself in sections or phases of seven years: a first section from birth to approximately the seventh year, a second from the seventh to the fourteenth year, again from the fourteenth to the twenty-first year, then a section which includes the years from the twenty-first to the forty-second, then a section from the forty-second to the forty-ninth year, another from the forty-ninth to the fifty-sixth year and from the fifty-sixth to the sixty-third year. These sections of life are surveyed one after the other. In the first section of the retrospect, everything up to the change of teeth is seen simultaneously. The secrets of the Cosmos appear throughout as if seen through a mist. In the first section, from birth to the seventh year, the mysteries of the Moon are revealed as though the Sun were shining through a mist; the man is surveying them through his own etheric body. What I have told you to-day about his faults and ill doings being left behind, and what I have told you about the Moon Beings — all this stands written in the first section of this book of life.
Looking back over his life with Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition, it becomes clear to a man that this life has one, two, three, up to seven, chapters. In the first chapter, which comprises early childhood, are the Moon mysteries. In the second chapter, comprising the period between the change of teeth and puberty, are the Mercury mysteries. Doctors know well that this is the age when children's ailments are prevalent, but for all that it, is the healthiest age in human life; taking into consideration mankind as a whole, the rate of morality is relatively lowest in this period. The Mercury mysteries are revealed behind this age of life, so that in the unlikely event of someone being initiated already at the age, say, of eighteen, he would be able to survey the Moon mysteries and the Mercury mysteries. If in later life a man looks back on the next section, from the fourteenth to the twenty-first year, everything in the Universe connected with the Venus mysteries is revealed. In this period, when physical love arises in human life, the mysteries of the Venus-existence in the Universe are spiritually inscribed in the book of life. The period from the twenty-first to the forty-second year needs a survey three times more comprehensive than before, because here all the Beings of the Sun mysteries are revealed. To be able to look back, we must be over the age of forty-two and then, in this section of life, we see in retrospect the Sun mysteries. And when we are old enough to look back on the section of life from the forty-second to the forty-ninth year, the Mars mysteries are revealed. But to penetrate the Mars mysteries we must have passed the age of forty-nine. A man may be initiated, but to penetrate into the Mars mysteries through his own power of vision, he must be able to look back upon the section of life between the forty-second and forty-ninth years. After the age of forty-nine he can look back upon the Jupiter mysteries; and — I am myself now able to speak of this — after his sixty-third year he is allowed by decree of the Gods, to speak of the Saturn mysteries too.
In this life between death and rebirth man passes farther and farther away from conditions surrounding him on Earth and enters into quite different ones. Having passed through the Venus region, he experiences the realities of the Sun-sphere. And now, having described how these truths are revealed through Initiation, I can continue the study of man's existence between death and a new birth.
As we find our way into the spirit world we are brought nearer and nearer to Beings of a higher rank than man. In the Moon region we are still among Beings who, in the main, have lived with men on Earth, but here we already perceive those Beings who lead us on Earth from one life to another. These are the Beings I have called in my books — in accordance with ancient Christian usage — the Hierarchy of Angels. Looking back to early childhood with the Initiation knowledge of which I have spoken, we see at the same time what has been wrought in man by the world of the Angels. Think of the wonderful beauty of some of the conceptions which exist in the simple hearts of men and are actually confirmed by the higher wisdom of Initiation. We speak of how the activities of the Angels weave through a child's first years of life; and when we look back in order to study the Moon region we actually see our childhood and with it the weaving work of the Angels. Then, when stronger forces begin to operate in the human being, when he reaches the school age, we perceive the work of the Archangels. They are important for us when we are studying the Mercury-existence, for then we are in the world of the Archangels. — There follows the age of puberty and the period from approximately the fourteenth to the twenty-first year. The Venus mysteries are now seen in retrospect, shining through the tableau of the course of life. At the same time we learn that the Hierarchy of the Archai, the Primal Forces, are the Beings specially associated with the Venus-existence. And here we realise a significant truth — again something that is particularly striking — namely, that the Beings associated with the Venus-existence after the age of puberty are those who, as Primal Forces, were concerned with the genesis of the world itself, and in their reflection are again active in the formation of physical man in the sequence of the generations. The relation between the Cosmos and human life is revealed in this way.
We gaze then into the mysteries of the Sun-existence. What is the nature of the Sun according to modern physicists? An incandescent globe of gas, where burning gases diffuse light and heat. For the eyes of spirit this is a thoroughly childish conception! The truth is that if the physicists could organise an expedition to the Sun, they would be astonished to find everything entirely different from what they imagined. There are no cosmic gases there; human beings would not be consumed by flames if they could travel to the Sun. But if they came into the Sun region they would be torn asunder — destroyed in that way. What, then, is the Sun, in reality?
When you walk about a room there may be people in it, or chairs which you knock against. Here (drawing on blackboard) are objects, and between them is empty space through which you walk. In the area in which we are at present, certain portions of space are filled by chairs or by yourselves; other portions are empty. If I take the chairs away and you come in, you will find only an empty space. Empty space is far more prevalent in the Cosmos. Here on Earth we do not know what has to be known in the Cosmos. In the Cosmos, space can even be empty of itself, so that at some points there is no space. In soda water there are little bubbles, less dense than the water; these you can see — it is the bubbles you see, not the water. In the same way, when you look out into space, you may see nothing; but where the Sun is, there is even less than space. Suppose that here is the empty space of the Universe, and that in this empty space there is nothing, not even space, so that if you went there you would be sucked up and disappear. There is nothing there at all, nothing physical, not even space. It is the site of all that is spiritual. This is the nature of the Sun-existence about which the physicists would be so astonished. Only at the edge of this empty space is there something that begins to be as the physicists suppose. In the corona of the Sun there are incandescent gases, but within this empty space there is nothing physical, not even space! It is all purely spiritual. Within this sphere there are Beings of three ranks: Exusiai, Dynamis and Kyriotetes. Into this region we enter when we have passed through the Venus-existence during the further period between death and a new birth. Then, when we look back — only we must have been more than forty-two years old — we see the reflection, as it were, of the Sun nature. The greater part of a man's life between death and a new birth is spent among the Exusiai, Dynamis and Kyriotetes.
Now when, during this period between death and a new birth, man actually penetrates into the Sun region, there is no similarity whatever with anything to which we are accustomed in the physical, earthly world. In this latter world we may have good intentions; but there may be someone near us whose intentions are the very reverse. We try to perform good actions but are only to some extent successful; in the case of the other person, however, everything succeeds. Looking back over our life after years or decades have passed, we come all too easily to the conclusion that in the physical, earthly course of things, it is not the case that good intentions or good deeds also have good consequences. For instance, on Earth we see the good punished and the bad rewarded, for the good may be unfortunate and the bad fortunate. There seems to be no connection between moral life and physical actuality. On the other hand, everything physical has its necessary consequences; magnetic force must attract iron, for example. Physical relationships alone are realised on Earth in our life between birth and death. In the Sun-existence there are no such relationships; there are only moral relationships. Everything moral in that sphere has the power of coming to realisation in an appropriate way. Goodness produces phenomena which bring blessing to men, whereas evil brings the opposite. Here on Earth, moral relationship is only ideal, and can be established as ideal only in an external, inadequate way, inasmuch as jurisprudence sees to it that evil is punished. In the Sun region, moral relationships become reality. In this region man's every good intention, however feeble the thought, begins to be reality — a reality perceived by the Exusiai, Dynamis and Kyriotetes. Man is regarded by the Beings of the Sun region according to the goodness he has in him, according to the way he was able to think and feel and experience. I cannot, therefore, describe the Sun region to you theoretically but only in a living way. It is not easy to give a definition of the effect of this or that goodness in the Sun region; one can only try to make it clear to the listeners by saying: If, as man in the Earth region you have had a good thought, in the Sun region between death and a new birth you will have converse with Exusiai, Dynamis and Kyriotetes. You will be able to lead a spiritual life in community with these Beings. If, however, you have had evil thoughts, though you have left them behind you in the Moon region, you will be a lonely soul, abandoned by Exusiai, Dynamis and Kyriotetes. Thus in the Sun region it is through our community with these Beings that goodness becomes reality. If our thoughts have not been good, we do not understand their language; if we have accomplished nothing good we cannot appear before them. The effect of our goodness is all reality in the Sun region.
This study will be continued in the lecture to-morrow.