Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Pastoral Medicine
GA 318

Lecture VIII

15 September 1924, Dornach

Dear friends,

Yesterday we examined the human constitution as far as it can be seen in human beings themselves or in connection with their immediate environment. Now we must go out beyond humanity. For everywhere humanity stands in some relation to the forces in the universe, and one can only understand these various relations if one explores the immense diversity of the universe itself.

Just think, dear friends, how manifold the forces in the universe are! Look at a growing plant, for instance. Follow the growth of its stem upward from the earth's surface, and the growth of its root downward. Right there are two opposite tendencies within the plant: a striving upward and a striving downward. And if today we were far enough along in scientific research—so often used for less important matters—to use it for such a thing as the growth of a stem upward and the growth of a root downward, we would find the connections in the universe that would then finally explain the totality: humanity and the world, microcosm and macrocosm. For we would find that everything connected with the stem's upward growth has some relation to the unfolding of the sun's forces in the course of the day, in the course of the year, even beyond the year. And we would find that everything connected with the root's downward growth has some relation to the moon's forces and the moon's changes. If therefore we look at a plant properly, we already come to see through its form a relation between sun and moon. We have, so to speak, to extract the simple image of a plant from the whole universe, from all the forces in the universe.

Someone who is really observant will never see the root other than striving downward into the earth and at the same time rounding itself. The root rounding itself into the earth—that is the picture of the root that one must have, the rounding form pushing into the ground. (Plate V, left) We must see the stem differently as it unfolds in an upward direction. Someone who combines sensitivity with observation will have the definite feeling that the stem strives to stream out as a line. The root wants to unfold in a rounding, circular direction; the stem wants to unfold in a linear direction. That is the archetypal form of the plant. And in the linear striving upward we must see the presence of sun forces on the earth. In the root's striving toward roundness we must see the presence of moon forces on the earth.

Now let us look further. We think of the sun as being at a great height and of the plant as streaming to reach it. But the plant does more than just reach upward; it reaches out in width, it creates peripheries. And we find within its upward striving that something else is active, at first just at its top in the blossoms we find the forces of Venus working with the sun forces. Then as blossoms unfold below, as leaves come, moving inward from the periphery, we find the forces of Mercury working. On the one hand if we want to understand the structure of the plant as it pushes toward the Sun, we must see that the sun forces are helped by the forces of Venus and Mercury.

On the other hand we must realize that these forces alone would not be able to form the plant. With them alone, the plant-being would in a certain sense only attain a compact, solid form. For it to unfold as one sees it, for instance, in the most extreme example in a tree, there are forces working everywhere counter to the Venus and Mercury forces: namely, the forces of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Thus in addition to the basic polarity of sun activity and moon activity, there is also the activity of all the other planets in the universe. (Plate V, left)

In the plant you have the entire planetary system in front of you. It is right there on the earth. And perhaps it is not so ridiculous that a scholar—a half or three-quarters scholar as Paracelsus11Paracelsus (1493–1541). Swiss physician and alchemist. was—made such a statement as this: “When you eat a plant you're eating the entire planetary system. For all those forces are contained in it.” Paracelsus said it like this: With the plant you eat the whole heaven.” The world is indeed formed in such manifold variety that one does have in one's immediate environment the forces of the entire macrocosm—in growth, in structure, in the disposition of all living things.

Now let us get back to the human being. We showed yesterday that one can go from the area of lung breathing to a higher area where there is a finer inhalation. And we discovered that this finer inhalation carries karmic streams in from the past. We can go still further. If we have working into the human being what I would like for the moment to call a refined breath stream, (Plate V, right) we can say the following: If one would unfold only what lies in the astral body and ego, one would never reach the sun, with the human constitution as it is at the present time. When one is in the ego and astral body during sleep, one does not reach the sun sphere. There is only darkness. If one were to live in the astral body and ego without any connection to the etheric and physical bodies, one would not come to the sun. How, then, does this happen?

Let us consider first what the situation is when the astral body and ego approach the etheric body. In clairvoyance one can bring this condition about fairly easily, by strengthening thinking—strengthening it by very thorough, energetic meditation. Then it is easy to come to this condition; it is the beginning of initiation. One slips down into the etheric body but is not yet able to take hold of the physical body; one remains in the etheric body. In this condition it is possible to think very, very well. One sees nothing, hears nothing, but one can think very well. Thinking is not in the least extinguished, but seeing, hearing, and the other sense activities are suppressed. At first, thinking remains the same, except that one can think more than previously. One can think such thoughts as we are expressing here, for instance thoughts about the macrocosm. Thinking becomes wider. One knows clearly: “now I am in the etheric world.” Thus when one is in the etheric body, one is truly in the world ether. One has the clear experience of this: “I am in the spiritual world out of which the sense world comes.” But one is not able to differentiate between spiritual world and sense world, one is beyond a differentiated sense world. The sun no longer shines, the stars no longer shine, there is no moonlight. There is no longer a clear distinction between the kingdoms of nature on the earth. A person only has that faculty when down in the physical body in normal life or in a higher stage of initiation. But in exchange for the blurring of the contours of the sense world, there is a general spirituality, the weaving life of the spirit.

If one goes further, if one takes conscious hold of the physical body and begins to live in the organs, the perceptions that had become dim or had vanished begin to emerge again (with the exception of earthly forms) as spirit entities. Where earlier in ordinary consciousness one had seen the sun and then it had become dark, foggy, but had still been within the general weaving spirituality, now there appear beings of the second hierarchy. Now one can differentiate in the spiritual world. Moon and stars appear again, but in their spiritual aspect: they are now spiritual colonies—they can be called that, or something similar. Now one understands how in ordinary everyday consciousness humankind sees the sun, for instance, in its physical form, and the same with other things, but when someone has entered consciously into a physical body, and has actually taken hold of it in its spiritual dimension, the sun is seen as a spiritual being, and the same with the whole world. Now we know that with each sun ray shining down upon us during the day, spirit is also entering us. Through every sense experience spirit is entering us. We have therefore to regard the higher, finer breathing as a breathing that is continuously impregnated by spirit. And we perceive that the sun is living in every sense perception that streams into us. It is indeed the spirit of the sun, or the spirits of the sun. The sun is present in every sense perception. In our finer breathing the sun force, the sun life is streaming straight into us.

So you see the relation humanity has to the sun. When a ray of light streams into your eye, the sun spirit is streaming in with that ray of light. The spirit of the sun is the substance of the finer breathing. With our sense perceptions we breathe in the manifold ingredients of the spiritual sun. You have there an important view of the human being from one direction. As one unfolds in an etheric body, (Plate V, yellow) one develops in the etheric body thinking—the thoughts of the universe. These thoughts of the universe in which one finds oneself when living consciously in an etheric body are at first devoid of warmth or cold, devoid of tone. They are a kind of vague feeling in which one's feeling of self merges with one's feeling of the macrocosm. But if now one takes hold of the physical body, one enters into the spirit of the sense perceptions. And the thoughts are infused from various sides: through the eyes, the sun essence—thought—that is breathed in is infused with color; through the ear, thought is tinted with tone; through the organ of warmth, thought is tinted with warmth or cold. There you have the cosmic relation of thought to sense perception. Thought must be understood as preceding the sense experience; then the sense experience comes through infusion, tinted by the sun.

Humankind simply does not realize that the sun-being streams into us with every sense perception. And on the path of the sun, past karma streams in too. It is by no means a childish image to think of the sun as a receptacle of past karma. If we understand the human head properly, we must say the spiritual sun rays stream in invisibly and are transformed as they stream in into something physical, which then appears as merely a physical attribute in the world of color, tone, warmth. And at the same time, on the path of these sun rays that slip in through the senses into the nerves, karma enters into us. That is one side of the human being.

Now let us look at the other side. Karma goes out at that place in the organism where the lymph is, the place where everything is alive and active that has not yet been drawn into the blood. There we find outgoing karma. What are the paths of outgoing karma? To know that, we must acquaint ourselves through spiritual science with the moon forces.

And now if we gradually come from the etheric world to which we have become accustomed and take hold of the physical body in its periphery, the area of the senses, then all the life streaming in from the sun and bringing our past karma with it appears to be bringing reproach, and to be doing much to disturb us. But far more important than the disturbing elements in our karma is this knowledge, this insight that we can attain. It is by virtue of our past that we have become what we now are. The life of our inner being is enriched by the perception of the sun entering on the paths of the senses and nerves. If we can separate ourselves from our karma and concentrate on the instreaming forces of the spiritual sun, we will experience an infinite happiness as we receive them. We will wish that the sun element were in us perpetually; we cannot help longing for it. The sun element enters into us lovingly if we wish it; it is what we know in physical life in a weaker form as our active human love. This is the interplay of sun activity with the human inner world, the loving penetration of the sun into humans and into everything that wants to sprout and grow and thrive in humans. The living sun rays enter lovingly. Here love is not merely a soul-spiritual force: it is the force that calls everything physical to germinate and sprout and grow, everything that can be beneficial to humans in every way when they value it. This is the force of which a human being is aware through direct outer vision.

Now if one takes hold of the physical body in the other direction, in the direction of the forces that develop the lymph and prepare it for entering into the blood, one becomes aware of the activity of the moon. This is of quite a different character. On the one hand we can say the spiritual sun is active in the way we have indicated; on the other hand the moon is active. When we work to grasp the process of the lymph-blood formation inwardly, we find we are entering into the activity of the moon. And we have the constant feeling that the moon wants to take something away from us, to lift something out of us. With the sun we had the feeling that it wants continually to give us something. With the moon we have the feeling that it wants continually to take something out of us. And if we are not alert while we are observing the moon's activity, when we have consciously taken hold of the physical body and are engrossed in the lymph-blood formation, if we are not absolutely alert and in complete control of our vision, suddenly the continuity is broken and standing there before us is a spiritual being similar to ourselves but distorted, almost a caricature of ourselves, a being we have brought to birth. We would miss this emanation if we were not alert. But it does not seem particularly strange to us as it separates from us and confronts us. It is hardly more than an enhanced view of ourselves in a mirror. When we look at ourselves in an ordinary mirror, that is the physical world. When we see ourselves reflected in the etheric world by the moon forces, that is a higher kind of mirroring.

Let us review the whole process. There is nothing particularly amazing about it. But it shows us that we are indeed connected with the universe. That the moon is continually separating forces from us, which then it makes independent, forces that were living in us and that then go out into the spiritual world, streaming out into the macrocosm, constantly carrying images out of us into the macrocosm. But now think how it could be if such an image, which the moon forces are continually producing in humanity and which then they want to take out of us to carry into the distances of the world, if such an image were held back in the human body and kept there. And not merely an image, an abstraction, but a form permeated by forces.

How could such a form be retained in the human being? We have the moon forces continually striving to pull and draw the human image out. How could this form be held back? It can remain in humans if the sun forces are brought in deeply enough from another side. Then the form remains in the human being; then an embryonic life begins. Fructification consists of nothing else than that the sun forces are drawn down to where the moon forces are active in the lymph. Thereby the image that would otherwise go out takes hold of physical matter in the human body. What otherwise is a mere image now takes on physical form. For this to happen, sun forces combine with moon forces in the lymph system of the human organism. (Plate V)

Let us look at the other side. We can also investigate the moon forces higher up: then we find that the opposite happens. Then the human being is not formed again in the human body, but the sun macrocosm is given form in the human. Now we have a different view of the macrocosm. When the embryo is formed, a physical world arises within the human being that must come out. When on the other hand the moon forces activate their desire nature—they want to capture and draw down the sun forces—then the spirit in the universe comes into being within the human. The spirit of the universe is engendered, a spiritual embryo. Then the possibility is given for forming what must come in from the spiritual world, what has been in the spiritual world up to the time of a new earth-life and now comes in as spirit embryo. Then, the union of the two takes place in the human being.

If we explore these things, we come to see that they are completely interwoven. Then we have the true explanation of the human being's relation to the universe.

Now help comes from every direction. The sun activity that is uniting here with the moon activity has the help of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. What, then, are the tasks of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn? Recall, dear friends, what I said yesterday. When the sun forces are going in, first they must stop for the light; second, they must stop for the macrocosmic chemism; third, they must stop for the life. The Saturn forces bring about the stop for the light, the Jupiter forces in their wisdom bring about the stop for the world chemism, the Mars forces the stop for the life. There you have in detail the drawing-in of the sun forces modified by the forces of the so-called outer planets.

From the opposite direction you have the moon forces modified. When they work alone in their full strength, they bring about the formation of the embryo, that is, the physical formation. When they are less strong, they do not enter into physical matter but stay in the direction of the spirit, combining with the Venus forces of soul love. They can be still weaker—when they unite with what comes from the other side, the forces of Mercury, the divine messenger, who in ordinary everyday earth-life leads the lower forces up to the higher.

Look at the two diagrams, right and left. (Plate V) If we look out at the plant world spread as it is around us, we find the sun, moon, and stars everywhere. If we look within the human being, the sun, moon, and stars are there too, in exact correspondence. When something within is not in order, there is some trouble in the inner collaboration of sun, moon, and stars. If we as therapists want to restore it to order again, we must search in outer nature for a corresponding Saturn activity, for instance, that will work therapeutically on an unhealthy moon activity—and so forth. It is all out there. You see people will begin to have confidence in medicine again when they see that in the inner constitution the human being comprises the whole world. This is the knowledge we would like to bring to medicine again, knowledge it once had. The world will only have its trust in medicine restored when these things are once again understood.

But now let us look at the other side. Look first at the moon activity in human beings. See how it is striving continually to draw the human element out, to carry it into the universe. Let the picture stand before us—the human being striving to get out, wanting to be carried into the universe. This must not be presented to humanity as an abstraction, this shattering secret, but in picture form—the moon working continually to lift human beings out of themselves, to show them their relation to the macrocosm. The human being comes into earth-life as an embryo within another human being. But when this moon activity is enhanced by Venus and Mercury activity, then the human being is born not physically, but spiritually. If we add to the physical birth what we can invoke of Mercury and Venus activity, we bring about a spiritual birth. The human being is then born spiritually, outside, in the universe. We baptize the human being.

The working of the physical sun is always present in human beings. We can add to that perception a consciousness that the spiritual sun also is active in us, that on the paths of the physical-etheric sunlight, the light rays, chemical rays and life rays, the spirit is also pouring in. Spirit enters humans by way of the same paths that the physical-etheric sun activity enters: through the senses. In the same way that human beings perceive in everyday physical life the physical-etheric activity of the sun, we enable them to perceive the soul-spiritual activity of the sun. We give them communion.

Going out from the communion, we find on the one hand what is related to the help the sun is given: the darkening that relates to the light, the constant nearness of death to life. We go to the outer planets that are connected with the sun, and we add to the communion at the proper moment the anointing.

Or we go into human beings, and before they have any thought of the macrocosm, we hold them fast in their inner life, wanting not merely to give them their place as human beings in the macrocosm, but wanting to plant the macrocosm in them—in picture form, so that it becomes a seed developing in them. We give them confirmation.

If individuals receiving the sacraments live in them with full consciousness, they will be continually healed by them—healed of the universal illness to which they succumb, or are in constant danger of succumbing in statu nascendi simply by reason of their having incarnated in the physical material world. This is the priest's task.

It can also happen that an individual is by nature continually in statu nascendi of wanting to be free in the spiritual world, wanting to get out of the physical world, yet is obliged to remain in it during earth-life. And this causes in the organism not a state of unspirituality but a state of superspirituality, that is, illness. Medical measures must be prescribed, the opposite pole to the sacraments, when illness appears. This is the physician's task.

Thus we see on the one side the spiritual healing of the priest, and on the other side the priestly attitude of the physician, the physical healer. If we recognize how their tasks can be coordinated, we have grasped the significant connection between pastoral work and medical work. Then pastoral medicine is not just a theory, but embraces the working together of human beings.