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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Lessons I
GA 266

Number 26

Berlin, 2-12-'08

Graphic 1

One who understands the working of these numbers

Sees how his world becomes built up.
Look for the four as the first number
Of all the elements.
From it see the three bestir itself
Giving you spirit soul body.
The Two arise from the sun and the moon.
From this grows the Son of Man
Who's like nothing in the world.
He surpasses all earth kingdoms.

When something was supposed to be given to a Rosicrucian pupil through which he could elevate himself, then the above verse and figures were placed before his soul. These figures are nothing abstract but must be permeated with one's feeling and intellect if one wants to understand them. If this happens in the right way the pupil experiences truths that are of the greatest importance for his further development. The point is the point of life from which all evolution proceeds. All life proceeds from a unity and goes over into manifoldness. Plurality springs from unity.

Everything that's around us on earth comes from man. Nature is a spread out, dismantled man. Mineral, plant and animal are found in him. All qualities that a man has are found scattered in the kingdoms of nature. Man is the crown of creation. All existing things come from man.

In the second row we see how evolution proceeds in large numbers. But plurality must bring it about that a unity arises again from it. This happened in the middle of the Atlantean race when man acquired his I. Man was still relatively simple then. Today he's already much more complicated.

In the third row we see symbols for earth, water, air and fire. The first element is contained most purely in carbon today. Man exhales carbon dioxide; this is taken in by plants and is found solidified in coal and diamonds.

The second element, water, isn't found on earth in its original condition—it's what we call oxygen. People used to drink oxygen like we drink water today. If we only had carbon and oxygen on earth we'd get old very fast. Oxygen has the ability to let everything live very rapidly and to constantly renew things.

That's why the third element, air, had to be added. It's the present nitrogen, which dampens life. Without nitrogen's influence there would be no consciousness; astrality couldn't become manifest.

The fourth element is fire. Fire plays a big role in occultism. It's the warmth element. All four elements intermingle. We maintain our own warmth with the help of fire. Self-consciousness wouldn't be possible without it. We have the physical expression of our I, blood, through it. A combustion process takes place. Thereby man has become a being with self-consciousness, as can be seen from the first symbol in the fourth row: the sulfur process. The second symbol consists of the moon, sun and the ego as an appendix. The third symbol signifies the division of the physical and etheric bodies that were originally similar; then the physical body condenses and the finer etheric body remains outside, surrounding it. This is similar to what happens when salt is dissolved: first there's a milky fluid from which salt precipitates, leaving the finer water above: the salt process. The hexagram in the fifth row represents the double nature of man that is intertwined, and the last upside down Venus is man's “I” that surpasses all other creatures.