Dornach, 23rd April, 1924
I should like first to say a few words about the verse I wrote on the blackboard yesterday at the end of the lecture. It begins:
Behold what is joined in the cosmos
If we want really to understand the being of man for the purposes of treatment, we must be absolutely clear about the fact that we cannot take into consideration only what binds the human being to the earth, for that is of importance only in the very first years of childhood, up to the time of the change of teeth, and then no longer. After the change of teeth we have to consider those forces which really organize the human being away from the earth. For this purpose he has his etheric body and the etheric body is essentially different from the physical body. The physical body is heavy, the etheric body is not. The physical body strives towards the earth, the etheric body away from the earth in all directions, in all directions of cosmic space. You include the universe when you study the physical body and the etheric body of man. The physical body is inwardly connected with the earth, the etheric body with everything that lies in the perceptible universe around the earth. So that you can think of all the forces which work upon the physical body as being forces which draw the human being to the earth, and all those forces which work upon the etheric body as forces which draw the human being away from the earth.
These forces exist and work in the human being. Therefore one cannot really say that the human being takes in some substance which was first outside and is then within him. It is not so. These centrifugal forces are working within the human being and because of this the substance immediately falls within the realm of the whole universe, of the whole visible universe.
Then, in regard to the astral body of man, you must picture to yourselves that it really comes from the realm of the spaceless; it merely assumes the form of spatial activity.
And when you come to the ego, you really can make no picture at all. The ego works neither from above nor from below; it works in such a way that one simply cannot make a diagram of it. The ego works only through the flow of time, through the continuity of time. What proceeds from the ego organization of man cannot be put into a picture. It is a reality at every point; it neither streams in nor streams out, it works in the purely qualitative sense.
When we look out into the worlds of the ether it is as if, with our etheric body, we were always losing ourselves in these worlds, but all the time the astral is streaming in towards us — the astral that is also not spatial but works as if it came towards us from the periphery of the universe. And now suppose that we have to do with vegetable protein in food. In the first place, vegetable protein has heaviness; in the second place, as protein, it strives towards the cosmos. When you introduce vegetable protein into the human organism the other two kinds of forces immediately begin to work on it — the forces which work in from all directions and those forces which as the forces of the astral work in from beyond space, as it were, upon this protein. And now suppose everything that might work in this way upon the human being were only capable of making him into a round, spherical body. You find the form which the working of these forces produce — the forces streaming outwards from and into the earth — you find this form in the bird's egg. These forces take shape in the egg. Why is it that not merely an egg-like form but a form with definite configuration is produced from an egg? If only those forces were at work of which I have just told you, all that could happen would be a completion of the egg shape. The bird would be complete when the egg is complete. But a bird has a very definite shape and has it because, in the first place, the moon circles round the earth. What I am saying about the bird also applies to the human being. If it were a case of the moon alone circling around the earth, no bird would arise, but what would happen would be this — that the egg shell would get soft and fall away and a spherical being would emerge, a spherical being consisting essentially of protein. Now the moon does not only circle around the earth, but there are all kinds of different constellations in space. The moon is always passing these constellations, and as it passes them it modifies the forces which proceed from them. Picture to yourselves that the moon is passing the Pleiades. The egg is then exposed to the forces which are the result of the in-streaming of the Pleiades and this in-streaming is modified by the moon. From the Pleiades there streams a force which is modified by the moon which is standing in front of them and exercising its influence, and as a result of this there arises the head of the bird. Therefore we can say that the bird's head is formed from the cosmos by cooperation between the planet moon and the fixed stars which are arranged in a special way in the Pleiades. The moon passes on and, let us say, it now stands in front of the constellation of Libra whose forces are again modified by the position of the moon. Here we have a different set of forces and besides this, the moon which was full moon when it stood in front of the Pleiades, has now, in front of Libra, become New Moon. The moon in connection with the constellation of Libra works differently from when it is working from a position in front of the Pleiades and the effect upon the egg is the formation of the bird's tail. The rest lies in between. So, if you want to study the form of the bird you must study how the moon passes by the cosmic constellations.
What is a person who has knowledge of earthly conditions able to say about the form of man, or, for that matter, of any living being? He can only say: Yes, of course, the Eagle has a definite form, the vulture has a definite form, the kangaroo has a definite form, and so on. Why have they these particular forms? If you remain at a standstill within the earthly world, as science does, there is only one answer: The animal has inherited its form from its ancestors. Thought can find no other answer. This answer is just like the logic of the saying: Penury comes from poverty. But this is no explanation at all. You must go further back. Those ancestors received it from their ancestors, and so you go on, in a vicious circle. We must study the cosmic forces and constellations of the stars if we are to have any understanding of the form of a living being.
But this is
not all that I have to say. If only these things happened,
very beautifully developed beings would be produced but they
would all of them be like jellyfish, as the human being
actually was in far past epochs of the earth. In the
Atlantean epoch the human being was a kind of jellyfish. This
was because the only substance he could absorb was in a
plastic, fluid state, and out of this he was able to build up
his physical body. The reason he was able to incorporate into
himself potassium, sodium, and the other substances is
because the other planets of our system, as well as the moon,
pass through Libra, Aries, Taurus and so on, and they member
into us those things that enable us to have the true form of
man. In the formation of the human head, the influence of the
moon is also united with the forces that go out from Mercury
and Venus and the constellations into which they enter with
the other planets. If these other constellations were not
combined with the moon constellations, we should all be born
as hydrocephalics. Organic metal is incorporated into us
because the constellations of Mercury and Venus are working
in conjunction with the moon constellation. We should get a
terrible form of rickets, not only bow legs but legs that
would be elastic, and our arms would be jelly-like structures
if the planets that are more oriented to Saturn were not to
combine with the moon constellation and if Saturn himself
were not to work together with Jupiter and Mars. It is the
sun which brings about the rhythmical balances between these
two categories of planets.
The first two lines of the verse, therefore, should help you to understand how the human being is actually formed out of the cosmos. We shall not really progress until astronomy — but in the sense I have just indicated — is introduced into our medical science. Most of what is said about these things does not signify much. There is a muddle because things that happen in the human being are ascribed either to external, earthly circumstances, or to heredity. But when one comes down to details, the result is nil, because it is forgotten that the origin of the human form must be understood by a knowledge of the starry heavens in their qualitative aspect, in their inner aspect. The most important planet in the process of the formation of the human being is the moon. The moon must cooperate everywhere; the other planets modify the influence of the moon. The moon is the most important.
The verse continues:
Behold all that moves thee in Air
And thou wilt experience man's ensoulment.
Schau, was luftig dich bewegt,
Du erlebest Menschenbeseelung.
Now everything that works in the human etheric body, forms and shapes the human being. But the human being would be an automaton imbued with life, even if his form were as it is today, if only those forces which I have described to you were to work upon him. But the surroundings work upon him, all that lives and weave in the element of air around us. The ether and also the astrality of the cosmos weaves in the air. And just as externally our spatial form is developed under the influence of the moon in connection with the heavens, so we are inwardly ensouled because the sun is working together with the heavens. When the sun is standing in Leo, for example, it influences the cosmic forces (note well that we are not here speaking of the sun's own forces). It is then working, in the air, upon what affects us through our breathing and blood circulation, and is continually changing. The air changes as the sun passes on its course. Thereby the form becomes ensouled, so that we can really say: The constellations of the sun in the cosmos work in the airy element in the surroundings of the earth and this enables us to be beings of soul.
The verse continues:
Behold what is changed in the Earthly
And thou wilt discern the spiritualizing of man.
Schau, was irdisch sich wandelt:
Du erfassest Menschendurchgeistung.
By this metamorphosis is meant the gradual passing of the human physical body into the corpse. By the side of these words we write the sign of Saturn. Why? Now the Saturn forces work not only in the place where Saturn stands in the heavens. So far as space is concerned, Saturn is far away from the earth and the direct influences of this planet upon the human being from outside do not amount to very much. But Saturn has forces which are sucked, with tremendous strength, into the earth. The Saturn forces are sucked with tremendous strength into the earth and when we look beyond the earth, we really do not find these forces to any extent. But when we look at the earth herself, at what is on the surface and towards the interior of the earth, it is a different matter altogether. Suppose you see a snail crawling over the ground. The snail passes on but it leaves its slime behind it. The slime remains and you can follow the whole path taken by the snail. So it is with Saturn. He passes on, but wherever he has shone upon the earth he leaves his traces behind him — very, very definite traces If in much earlier epochs of earth evolution these traces had not remained as forces in the earth, we should have no lead. Lead originates from the primal substance, from the Saturn forces that are working in the earth, that were sucked in by the earth. In ancient times, when conditions were different, the lead forces came into being in the earth. These Saturn forces still have their afterworkings in the human being and it is an influence quite different from that of sun and moon.
We should not be beings of spirit, but beings of body and soul only, if these Saturn forces were not present. You can take this as a focus for thought, my dear friends. Nothing is without reason and purpose in the universe. Just ask yourselves: During what period of time has Saturn had opportunity to impregnate his forces into the earth from all directions? He has done this in the course of thirty years — the thirty years during which he circles around the sun and earth. This period is the time which the human being takes from his birth to the point where a certain phase of his life is concluded. When the human being has lived on the earth for thirty years, he reaches a certain point—a point which does not, of course, coincide exactly with the precise line taken by Saturn in the heavens — but during this period Saturn has impregnated the earth from every direction. When the human being is thirty years old, a second impregnation begins. Thus the influence of Saturn upon the whole earth is connected with the human being, and it is ultimately due to this fact that we have a body in which processes of demolition take place.
In the human organism there are not up-building forces alone. If it were so we should be without consciousness. Our vitality has to be damped down in a certain way. The destructive forces must always be there. The development of our organism not only advances but retrogresses and in this retrogression the unfolding of spiritual life takes place. Spiritual life does not proceed from life, but as life retro gresses the spiritual life finds a place in what, figuratively speaking, has been left empty. This process is due to the forces that arise in the earth as a result of impregnation by the Saturn forces. Therefore I placed the sign of Saturn by the side of the third couplet.
Now these Saturn forces by themselves would make little old and wizened people by the age of thirty. At the age of thirty we should begin to walk on crutches. Fichte was willing to respect the human being up to the age of thirty, but he once said that all thirty-year-olds ought to be done away with, for thereafter they are no longer able to cope with the world, they are weak cripples. The state of things Fichte was getting at, however, would irrevocably happen if Saturn were the only planet whose forces could unfold in the earth. But the Saturn forces are modified by the forces of Jupiter and of Mars. Because of these forces the demolition process up to the age of thirty is not so complete. Something still continues and we have to thank Mars and Jupiter for the fact that we are not old men at the age of thirty. If we want to understand why existence is still possible for the human being at the age of forty-five, we must look out into the cosmos.
Moon and Saturn, therefore, are the heavenly bodies which stand nearest to and farthest from us in the planetary system. The planetary system as it is today is really an inorganic structure because as far as Saturn [Translator's note: In the German, the text gives Jupiter, but the sense appears to indicate Saturn.] it came out of what was once a single cosmic body, whereas Uranus and Neptune came from beyond and joined themselves to it. As antiquity did not discover Uranus and Neptune, Saturn was taken to be the outermost planet and it is still justifiable today to go as far as Saturn. Astrologers still have an inkling of these things for they connect Uranus and Neptune only with those human qualities which transcend the personal, make a man a genius, go beyond the individual personal element — where he is concerned with things that no longer have to do with his personal development. All astrological statements are to this effect. Uranus and Neptune only come into play when a man becomes a genius or strives to transcend the human element, when his organization has the tendency to expand or decay too strongly. Uranus and Neptune are planets who have behaved like tramps in the universe and were then held captive by the planetary system belonging to our earth. The near and the far heavenly bodies regulate what is in the human being — the moon regulates his form, Saturn — working from the earth — the formless spiritual, inasmuch as Saturn breaks down form, dissolves it inwardly all the time. And the sun brings about rhythm between the two.
These things must be known. Primeval knowledge was aware that the same forces which correspond with our third couplet:
Behold what is changed in the Earthly
And thou wilt discern the spiritualizing of man,
are the same complex of forces which once expressed itself in the formation of lead. So that we can say: The forces which split up the physical organism in order that the spiritual may find a place, are also present in lead. Forces of disintegration have brought lead into existence. If we introduce lead into the human organism, splittings take place. If there is too little demolition going on within the human being and he needs certain processes of disintegration, we must give him lead in some form. Vice versa, if the condition is such that formative power is lacking, so that the human organism is becoming too “spongy” as it were, ancient knowledge teaches that the forces of the moon which in olden times streamed in to form the substance of silver, must be brought into play. The forces of silver can bring sponginess to form, they give support to the moon forces. The whole planetary system is connected with substances that are remedial:
Saturn = Lead
Jupiter = Tin
Mars = Iron
Sun = Gold
Venus = Copper
Mercury = Quicksilver
Moon = Silver.
These correspondences are treated with unbelievable superficiality nowadays, whereas in reality they are based upon most minute investigations which were carried on in the Ancient Mysteries. Such knowledge had been well and truly tested. Thorough investigation was made of Saturn's constellation when, for example, the forces of disintegration were insufficiently active in an organism and the vitality, the connective forces too strong, so that in his whole constitution the human being was suffering from a condition of organic stupor (for stupor need not necessarily affect only the sensory activity). It was observed that such a condition set in after a certain constellation of Saturn had taken place. Whereas Saturn had formerly worked strongly upon the human being, it was observed that he got into this condition when Saturn had set and could no longer completely unfold its forces. In such a case, lead was given as a remedy. Indications which are still to be found in dilettante books today are actually true, because, not knowing their origin, people have not been able to spoil them. If things had been different, speculation would have taken place and then we should most certainly have erroneous indications. They remain correct because men have lost the knowledge of their origin. They remain through tradition. Human thinking cannot spoil these truths.
What works from out of the earth upon the human being is, in reality, the force of Saturn which has been held fast, sucked in by the earth.
Just think what tremendous consequences these things have in the realm of human knowledge. You simply cannot connect the human being as studied by modern natural science with the moral life. The moral life hovers somewhere in the realm of abstraction. Especially in Protestantism which to the greatest extent of all has lost connection with the spiritual, with the cosmos; everything moral is segregated off, remains mere belief. The reality is that the human being is a creature who is cared for and fostered from out of the cosmos and the moral forces stream into him together with his astrality. Realization of this fact enables you to think of man as being inwardly united with the moral world. In true medicine you are led back to what makes man into a moral being, into a being who in his very organism can experience the moral and no longer merely heeds it as an external commandment.
This is what I wanted to say and I think you can take it away with you as a guide in many things. You can, of course, get the data from somewhere else. But how these data are circumstanced within the human organism — this you can only realize from such things as have now been said. You can read in any medical vade mecum that lead has this or that effect. You will understand why it has such effect if you really assimilate what has been said here. Because these things are drawn from the spiritual world they make far less claim upon the memory than upon man's physical power of assimilation. What a person learns lies in the realm of his own option, but what he experiences otherwise and what is impressed of itself into his memory, is actually there. You will notice something strange about what you assimilate in this way. If you do not constantly live with it in meditation you will soon sweat it off, so to speak. The peculiarity of spiritual truths is that they cannot, properly speaking, become memorized truths. You cannot retain in your organism what you ate a week previously. A ruminant can retain food, but only for a short time. In the ruminant there is organic imitation — a rudiment in the physical body of what otherwise lies entirely in the etheric body, namely, the memory. So far as spiritual truths are concerned, they must be experienced over and over again until they become habit — not retained as memory pictures but become habit. The essence of meditation is that we make an appeal to what, in reality, is present only in earliest childhood. In that period of life we have no picture memory and so our earliest experiences are forgotten. They live in a memory which functions through habit. And it is this form of memory that we must return to when we want inwardly to digest spiritual truths; otherwise we very quickly sweat them off.
Because you want to receive esoteric truths, an appeal must be made to your faculties of meditation and of inner assimilation; otherwise you will not be able to make use of what is given you. If you activate these faculties you will develop that delicate sensitivity which leads you, not instinctively but intuitively to perceive how a plant or stone may work in the human organism — things that are still expressed abstractly in the so-called Doctrine of Signatures. You will be developing not only your physical body but your etheric body too and what I have called memory through habit will give you a more delicate faculty of perception for what is contained in the physical environment and the faculty to behold the world as one to whom the questions about diseases of the lung, heart, etc., come from the human organism and the answers as to the remedial plants, minerals, etc., from the environment.
Question: Many of us want to have a far-reaching understanding of the position in which we find ourselves. We feel inwardly that Anthroposophical truths are something radical and that tremendous things depend upon their practical realization. How can that which we feel so deeply, be realized, and how can we reach an understanding of our own destiny and tasks for the future? We feel that we shall only be able to act truly if we get to understand our own karma in its wide connections and at the same time unfold the courage not to run away from it but to fulfill it in practice in the right way.
I think I hear something between the lines of what you have said and realize in what direction your feelings tend. You must enlarge your question if this is not so. The question you have put, touches, of course, something that must be known today. Especially just recently, there has been a great deal of talk about the end of Kali Yuga among circles of young people, more among the youth than among the old. The reason for this is that at the end of the nineteenth century a new age did indeed dawn in humanity. To begin with, the old life continues. When you have a ball and push it, it rolls and when you take your hand away it still goes on rolling. Similarly, what human beings experienced up to the end of the nineteenth century goes on rolling for the time being. But because the forces are no longer behind it, it is assuming worse forms than it took in the age that has passed away. But side by side with the continuance of the old time, an Age of Light is really dawning in the world, in concealment. An Age of Light is shining into the world and its first rays must be caught by Anthroposophy.
At the present time, of course, I am speaking much more radically about certain karmic relationships than I did before the Christmas Foundation. You will realize this from other lectures which I am giving now. Those who can be at the lecture this evening will find that certain human connections are actually spoken of. But for all that I cannot enter quite concretely into matters which would be beloved by sensationalism. Strict laws must invariably be observed in these things and I know that a certain desire — not necessarily born of a lust for sensation — might be satisfied if one could reveal to every individual his previous earthly life. But one cannot go as far as that. On the other hand certain points of view which may be significant, can be mentioned.
Taking human life in general today, we have, if I may put it so, two kinds of human beings. This is due to the fact that at certain times the spiritual evolution of humanity was different from what it was in other times. There was a wavelike movement, but the waves flowed not only one behind the other, but side by side with each other. For example, at a certain time the evolution of Western Christianity became more superficial, was externalized. It was not possible for human beings to get at the essence of what Christianity had to offer them. A reaction took place among the Kathares. And so there were living, side by side, men who lived very external lives and men who wanted to deepen themselves inwardly. Something similar happened, when, under the influence of Comenius and even earlier than that, the Moravian Brotherhoods were founded far into Hungary and Poland. All the time there were living together men whose souls were striving strongly for spirituality and men who were driven to externalization, simply by the karma of civilization. The fact that one person comes into the one group and another person into another, is connected with earlier karmic conditions. In modern times a great point is how far a man in his earlier incarnation belonged to the one or the other of these groups. Let us suppose, then, that a man is born today who lived in a phase of Christianity which was quite externalized. Such a man will be an entirely different person from one who, let us say, belonged to the Bohemian Moravian Brothers. In what does the difference consist?
We can only discover the essential characteristic of the conclusion of Kali Yuga when we go into the concrete circumstances — otherwise it all remains so much historical construction. The Age of Darkness lasted until the year 1899 when the Age of Light began. This mere fact does not tell us very much. We must enter into the concrete, spiritual facts. Men who are born at the end of Kali Yuga and who have strongly spiritual aspirations — this must not make for conceit, you must receive it simply into your store of knowledge — such men are, speaking in the widest sense, those who have been born from among the heretics, from among those who strove for inner deepening. At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there were brought down to the earth human beings who had not lived within the general stream of a Christianity that was being externalized, but in such sects which inserted themselves in this general stream and were striving for greater inwardness. What is the result?
Now when we are passing through the time between death and a new birth we learn, in a spiritual way, to know the Human All, just as here on earth we can study the World All that is outside the human being — the universe. The Human All is equally great and equally detailed, for the human being has within him just as much as the cosmos. We can study this with our forces of will when they have been transformed. We acquire an exact knowledge of the human being. Now there is a difference between the two groups of which I have just spoken. Those men who had entered more into externalization were not able, in their passage between death and a new birth, to enter into the spiritual world in the right way. In the spiritual world they passed thoughtlessly by the essentials of human nature. They were reborn and especially those people who were born in the second third of the nineteenth century were men of the kind who were thus externalized in their previous life. They brought into their earthly life no understanding of the human being and his nature. They regarded the body as an instrument for eating, drinking, walking, standing, sitting, but they were not interested in the human being in his reality because they had no interest of this kind in their life between death and a new birth. These were the people who were satisfied with materialism, because they felt no need for knowledge of the human being. The materialists who only want to have knowledge of matter understand the human being least of all.
It may be said with a peaceful conscience that those who are sitting here are reborn heretics (you must not ascribe this to yourselves as a virtue) heretics who experienced a strong urge between death and rebirth to fathom the nature of the human being and thus, subconsciously, to make the human being into a tremendous riddle. This comes to light in the urge to learn more than materialistic medicine has to offer and so, as you have said, an inner fulfillment of karma is certainly indicated. You must not take these things lightly, for if you were to do so you would fall into misunderstandings. You would not reach what you want to reach because you have had certain definite experiences between death and rebirth. And the result of not finding in earthly life that for which one has striven for centuries is not so that it merely makes one superficial. The Age has passed when people who have received between death and rebirth the truths concerning man can become superficial without being punished for it. At the present time young people are certainly not in a position to lead superficial lives and go Scot-free because they ruin themselves inwardly, ruin themselves organically.
The bad thing is not that people today are materialistic in their thoughts, that they chatter about monism and the like. That is not the really bad thing and they will easily get over it. What a man speaks is not of such great significance, but what then goes back into his feeling and will — this weaves in his organs, and if people do not deepen themselves spiritually they will not be able to sleep properly. That is the essential thing. If people undergo no such deepening today what will the consequence be? The consequence will be that hardly will the years 1940-1950 have come, and over greater and greater areas there will be widespread epidemics of sleeplessness. Such people will no longer be capable of working for civilization.
Therefore your karma leaves you no choice: either you leave it unheeded, as was possible before the end of Kali Yuga, or you must heed it. You must really take in all seriousness what I have now told you about the configuration of your karma. This, of course, remains a generalized description, but you can certainly find it useful if you frequently ponder the particular circumstances of your own life. You will discover something remarkable when you think about these special circumstances. The Youth Movement theorizes too much and consequently one hears too much of the same theories. If the young people would really study what youth today is experiencing — it is in truth very different from what the former generation experienced — the Youth Movement would at one bound take on a very different form. We are striving to give our Youth Movement here a concrete form so that it does not remain in the realm of abstraction.