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|GA 243. True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation — The Secret of Investigation into Other Realms through the Metamorphosis of Consciousness|
|A man of the Chaldean epoch, we will suppose, has been prescribed highly potentized doses of copper. Before taking it — this was the general practice of the time — he was directed to perform certain specific spiritual exercises. In such cases, years rather than days of training were demanded of him before the highly potentized copper could be administered.|
|At the present time the only valid method is for man to have an inner perception of the nature, the essential being of copper as I indicated yesterday and thus develop a sensitive response to the colour of burnished copper, to the behaviour of copper in copper sulphate solution. By concentrating and meditating upon this response, he will ensure that he reacts in the right way.|
|Such exercises, in effect, are already covered by what I have just said about the nature of copper. There is no specific statement to the effect that one should meditate upon the nature of copper. It is suggested that some simple subject or theme should be selected for purposes of meditation morning and evening.|
|GA 243. True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation — The Secret of Investigation into Other Realms through the Metamorphosis of Consciousness|
I have spoken about the form, substantiality and metallity of the mineral kingdom in so far as they are related to the different levels of consciousness in man. Before extending my observations to include certain metallic substances, I must make my position perfectly clear.
From what I have said it might readily be inferred that I was recommending the ingestion of these substances in the form of nutriments as a means of inducing states of consciousness that differ from the normal. When discussing methods of achieving spiritual insight through inner training and discipline, one often hears the remark: I would be only too glad to know something of other worlds and other states of consciousness, but it is too difficult to carry out the exercises which are recommended; they take up so much time.
A little later, perhaps, these people make a start. Then, after a time, the immediate demands of life intervene and they find they are unwilling to sacrifice their ingrained habits. By degrees they lose enthusiasm and the exercises are quietly dropped. Not surprisingly these people achieve nothing; they find the need to practise spiritual exercises excessively irksome.
When they hear, for example, that the qualities of certain metals are associated with other levels of consciousness, they feel more reassured. If a small dosage of copper is all that is required in order to preserve a spiritual link with another after death, then why not take it, they conclude, if it enables one to develop a higher level of consciousness.
The idea becomes all the more attractive when they hear that the practice adopted in the ancient Mysteries was not so very dissimilar, though in those days, of course, it was only carried out under the continuous and closest supervision of the Initiates. And when people are told of this, they wonder why these old practices are not revived. But they overlook the fact that in ancient times the whole physical organization of man was differently constituted. In those days, and even as late as the Chaldean epoch, he lacked our present intellectuality. Thoughts were not self-generated as today, but came to him through inspiration. Just as we realize today that we do not create the red of the rose, but receive the impression of the rose from without, so the men of ancient times were aware that thoughts were transmitted via external objects, they were “in-spired,” breathed into them. The reason for this was to be found in the different constitution of the physical organism, including even the composition of the blood. Therefore it was possible to administer highly potentized doses of those metals I have spoken of — homoeopathic doses as we call them today — in order to assist people in carrying out their spiritual exercises.
A man of the Chaldean epoch, we will suppose, has been prescribed highly potentized doses of copper. Before taking it — this was the general practice of the time — he was directed to perform certain specific spiritual exercises. In such cases, years rather than days of training were demanded of him before the highly potentized copper could be administered. And because his physical constitution was different from ours, he learned, through his training, to retrace the reactions upon the upper part of the body, of this finely distributed, highly potentized copper that was circ41ating in his blood stream. When copper was administered after this careful training, he felt inwardly that his words took on added warmth, because he himself had generated warmth in his larynx and in the nerves leading from the larynx to the brain.
Now because his physical make-up was different, he was able to react with such extreme sensitivity to what was taking place within him. If one were to administer highly potentized copper in similar circumstances today, it would of course take effect, but it would provoke a laryngeal condition and nothing further.
It is important, therefore, to understand the difference between the physical constitution of man in those times and that of today. Then one will no longer be tempted to induce other states of consciousness by administering medicaments, which was the normal practice in ancient times and was still frequently practised in the Middle Ages.
At the present time the only valid method is for man to have an inner perception of the nature, the essential being of copper as I indicated yesterday and thus develop a sensitive response to the colour of burnished copper, to the behaviour of copper in copper sulphate solution. By concentrating and meditating upon this response, he will ensure that he reacts in the right way.
But, you will object, in my book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, there is no indication of what preparatory steps should be undertaken in order to develop this response to copper. That is so. But in principle the directives are given in my book, though copper is not specifically mentioned. A description is given of how one should enter into the being of crystals, plants, etc. and the preparatory exercises are indicated. But of course no information is given of how to meditate on the nature of copper; a whole library (rather than a book) would be needed for that. Nor was it necessary, since directives have already been given — exercises to promote self-confidence, for example, and exercises in concentration upon some specific theme or object. Such exercises, in effect, are already covered by what I have just said about the nature of copper. There is no specific statement to the effect that one should meditate upon the nature of copper. It is suggested that some simple subject or theme should be selected for purposes of meditation morning and evening. That is tantamount to meditating upon the nature of copper. Only that is given as a subject for meditation which could refer to its metallic nature.
A meditation upon some specific theme such as “wisdom radiates in the light” has a decisive influence upon the inner life, if carried out in earnest. The effect would be the same as if someone were to explore the nature of copper from all angles and to concentrate on its physical aspect. In the first instance, our approach is from the moral standpoint, in the second, from the physical and chemical standpoint. It is far better for the non-chemist to enter the spiritual world from the moral standpoint.
It is necessary, therefore, to see things in their proper relationship, because it would be a mistake for the man of today to follow uncritically the methods of the ancient Mysteries in order to gain insight into the spiritual world. The right course for today is to replace the external, physical approach by a more moral and spiritual approach. With the development of his physical organism man's whole relationship to nature has been transformed. Composition of the blood, tissue fluid and the whole physical constitution are different today from those of the ancient Chaldeans. This cannot be proved by anatomical analysis. In the first place, the anatomist spends most of his time dissecting corpses. Recently a scientific congress raised a cry of alarm and clamoured for more corpses. Anatomists found there was a shortage of corpses for investigating the hidden secrets of life. But it would not be easy to procure Chaldean corpses in order to pursue these investigations! In the second place, with his crude technique, the anatomist would find no answer to the hidden secrets of life; these must be explored by spiritual means.
Since our physical body is differently constituted from that of the ancients, one point must be clearly established. It is still possible today to dispense highly potentized substances, metal potencies, for example. What is the reason for this? The explanation is that we have a deeper insight into the real being of nature. If we really understand the nature of the human body, we know that its functioning is modified by the metals I have mentioned — tin, copper, lead, and so forth. And I have shown how they modify, in the first instance, the conditions of consciousness.
Today, however, we are aware that changes take place in the body, even in normal life, if I may use such a mundane expression. Let us assume, for example, that we experience a change in that region of the body which radiates the activity of copper as I pointed out yesterday. Any such change is reflected in disturbances of the digestive organs, in the metabolic-limb system — in disturbances of the organs predominantly associated with metabolism, digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Every such disturbance in the human organization which we call dis-ease is also associated with the evocation of a different state of consciousness. The full implication of this must be borne in mind.
Now what is the significance of organic disease? I said yesterday that for the man of today his normal condition of waking consciousness lies in the heart centre. Other states of consciousness are associated with other organs, but they always remain in the subconscious. The region of the larynx, including the area extending from the larynx to the brain, lives continuously in a state of consciousness sequential to the normal state which I described yesterday. The region in the neighbourhood of the digestive organs shares the same time-scale as the dead after death. Man always participates in this state of consciousness. Everyone shares the after-death experiences of those he knew personally in life. But he experiences them below the heart, not in the heart. Therefore he knows nothing of this experience; it remains in the subconscious, below the threshold of consciousness. When some disturbance occurs, such as dyspepsia, for example, in that region where man is spiritually in touch with the dead, the consciousness below the heart centre is modified; it begins to operate too actively.
What then is the explanation of a certain kind of gastric disorder? From the physical angle it is simply a label for the practitioner's diagnosis. Now the point of view presented here is in no way directed against a purely physical approach to medicine. I recognize and appreciate its value. As Anthroposophists we do not adopt the attitude of the dilettante, the amateur or the charlatan who disparage or criticize orthodox medicine. We fully accept its findings. When a person suffers from a gastric disorder, the symptoms can be diagnosed physically; but as a result of his gastric condition he is more able to share in the life of the dead immediately after their death. Of course a physical diagnosis is made before therapeutic treatment can begin. From the spiritual standpoint we would say that such a person feels impelled to preserve, after their death, his spiritual link with the souls he has known on Earth. But he is unable to enter into the consciousness that lies below the heart. He is unaware that he is in communion with the dead.
That is the spiritual aspect of such a complaint. Gastric disorders arise because one is too much attached to the dead. Under such conditions one is dominated by the dead. We are strongly influenced by that world which, as I indicated yesterday, is so much more real than the physical world.
Let us imagine we have a balance in front of us. If the pointer is deflected, the zero reading is restored by loading the other scale-pan. The state of disbalance in a person who has developed such abnormal sensitivity in this consciousness below the heart that he is too attached to the dead — and he is quite unconscious of this — is analogous to the scale-pan that is loaded on the one side. Equilibrium is restored by adding an equivalent load to the other side.
Thus, if the consciousness below the heart is too active, the consciousness in the region of the larynx must be diminished; the heart lies between, it acts as a regulator and it is the knife edge on which the beam of the balance oscillates. Equilibrium is restored by administering copper. I have already pointed out that man's body today is constituted in such a way that the larynx reacts to copper.
The metabolic and laryngeal systems are as closely related as the two sides of the balance. One may be adjusted by means of the other. If suitable doses of copper are administered, the patient is inclined to withdraw somewhat from the realm of the dead and thereby benefits in health, whereas otherwise he is increasingly identified with it. That is the spiritual aspect of healing.
Today we know, therefore, that all substances have both a physical and moral aspect. The old Initiates could make use of the physical aspect for the benefit of their pupils but only after their pupils had undergone extensive training. It should no longer be used in the same way today. Today the moral attributes are the province of psychic development, the physical attributes that of the doctor. It is important that the man who is familiar with the physical side of substances and has occasion to make a detailed study of this aspect should also supplement his information by a knowledge of the moral side. This must be strictly adhered to for present day perception and for practical perception in the field of spiritual methods. The human organism has changed radically with the passage of time and the close relationship that used to exist between the knowledge of the moral and physical aspect of substances has been lost and must be restored again. I shall have more to say presently about the loss of this relationship.
The relationship between medical science with its predominantly physical outlook and spiritual science must none the less be different today from that of the remote past. In both cases this relationship must continue, but it will assume a different form today. It is upon the knowledge of such things that our ability to distinguish between the true and false paths in spiritual investigation depends.
A brief review of man's whole attitude to knowledge over the centuries may help to throw further light upon what I have already discussed.
Let us look at the evolution of mankind in retrospect, when the interpretation of knowledge and research was so very different. The enormous advances made in recent times in the knowledge of thermo- and electro-dynamics and of living organisms are c1assffied today under nature, natural history, natural science and, in England, natural philosophy. The way nature is presented in schools today is highly abstract. Nature is seen as a sum of “natural laws” — that is the expression used — which children are expected to memorize. And the abstract character of this study is carried over into life.
Consider how cold and abstract even the most enthusiastic student finds natural science today. In botany he is obliged to learn by heart lists of botanical terms for plants and plant species, in zoology, the names and classifications of animals and animal species. He soon forgets them and has to go over the ground again and again for examination purposes. And after the examination he often forgets them completely; should he need them again, he looks them up in a book of reference. It could hardly be said that a student of today has the same relationship to botany and zoology as he has to some personality to whom he is devoted. That is out of the question.
Nature today has become something vague and nebulous, a catalogue of laws of gravitation, heat, light, electricity, magnetism — the laws of mechanics. Natural science and natural history deal with the study of stones and plants. But natural science includes in addition the life and inner constitution of the organs of plants, animals and man of which we are admittedly ignorant. In brief, natural science and natural philosophy today include much that we claim to know and much of which we are totally ignorant.
Now this is a state of affairs that hardly inspires confidence; everything is so nebulous and confused, the thinking so superficial and abstract. Nowadays we strive manfully to master this abstraction we call “nature” and many, it must be admitted, have grown somewhat indifferent to this abstract approach. And if we do not belong to the younger generation which is in active revolt against what is being taught in our schools as natural science, we adopt an attitude of benevolent neutrality. This was not always the case. I should like now to characterize briefly the attitude to knowledge a few centuries ago.
When we look back to the ninth, tenth, eleventh and even to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries we come across men — though they were considerably fewer at that time — whom we should describe today as savants, men adjudged to be the outstanding scholars of their day, who taught in the famous School of Chartres in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, such as Bernardus Silvestris, Bernard of Chartres, Alanus ab Insulis. These personalities were still fortunate enough at that time to be associated with Initiates, men who had profound insight into the mysteries of existence, such as the famous medieval Initiate Joachim of Fiore or that other illustrious personality known to the world as John of Hanville. [or Hauteville; in Latin, Altavilla. His work Architrenius (1184) is mentioned in one of Rudolf Steiner's notebooks. The work is a long epic describing the allegorical journey of a young man seeking the help and counsel of the Goddess Natura.]
I mention these names, to which many others could be added, in order to evoke the spirit of the age, in order to characterize the attitude towards knowledge that was prevalent at the time.
When we enter into the spiritual outlook of such personalities, we find that their conception of nature is wholly different from our own. In the case of the typical botanist, pathologist or histologist of today, the expression on his face belies any deep interest in the mysteries of pathology or anatomy; it reflects rather the memories of the dance he had attended the night before. We learn more about the festive occasion than about the mysteries of nature!
It was a very different matter to look into the eyes of a Joachim of Fiore, an Alanus ab Insulis or a Bernardus Silvestris. Tragedy was written on their countenances. They felt they were living in an epoch which had suffered irreparable loss. And the growing realization of this loss filled their hearts with tragic sorrow.
Or again, if we had looked at their fingers, fingers which the modern decadent world would describe as ‘nervous,’ sensitive fingers, which bore living witness to their desire to probe into those ancient mysteries, the loss of which was written on their faces, we should have perceived a yearning to revive the ancient wisdom of the past.
There were brief moments when they were able to conjure up pictures of those ancient times for their pupils; but they were only phantom images.
Now what I am about to depict to you is no poetic fantasy, but a reality. We can visualize Alanus ab Insulis of the School of Chartres, where the magnificent Cathedral still stands today, speaking to his pupils about nature and saying: Nature is a Being who eludes us when we draw near to her. Man now directs his energies to other ends; he no longer shares that intuitive understanding of nature which the sages of former times once possessed. Nature, in their eyes, was a majestic Being endowed with spirit, operating everywhere — where rock formations were created, where plants sprang out of the Earth, and jewelled stars sparkled in the heavens. Everywhere a Being of infinite grandeur was at work, who revealed herself in the wondrous form of a woman weaving nature's web. The ancients experienced this intuitively. From their descriptions we can still picture how nature appeared in their eyes, weaving and working in all around, in the manifestations of warmth, light, colour and life. They realized that the Goddess Natura was a divine-spiritual Being whose real essence could be known only through direct perception.
A personality such as Alanus ab Insulis was still able to present such conceptions to his pupils in the School of Chartres. But because the Initiates saw this old conception of the Goddess Natura gradually fade and die, saw replete with life and vitality the nature that we today regard as dead and abstract because we have lost touch with her, sorrow and tragedy were written on their faces.
Then, again, we hear of such men as Brunetto Latini, Dante's famous teacher. During his travels, through some strange karmic incident, he suffered a heat-stroke which produced a change of consciousness. This event was far more important for his development than the sufferings he endured when the last of the Guelphs were expelled from his native city. Because of this transformation of consciousness he was still able to perceive this Goddess Natura and described her in his book Tesoretto. He gives a graphic description, imaginatively inspired, of how, on his homeward journey to his native Florence, he came upon a hill in the midst of a desolate forest and on this hill he saw the Goddess Natura weaving at her loom. She revealed to him the significance of thinking, feeling and willing for the human soul the intrinsic nature of the four temperaments and the function of the five senses.
And the eyes of his spirit and soul were opened. This experience on his homeward journey from Spain to his native Florence under the influence of a depressed, pathological condition was a spiritual reality. As a result of this inward transformation, he saw the weaving life of the four Elements, fire, earth, water and air, the flux and movement of the planets and the soul emerging from the body into the Cosmos. All this he experienced under the influence of a spiritual teaching at the hands of the Goddess Natura.
These experiences were described by the men of that epoch with a clarity and concreteness that could scarcely be bettered today. At the same time, they felt that the ancients had experienced this knowledge in a different way and that in the course of time it had gradually been lost. In order to revive the knowledge of these mysteries it was necessary to induce a pathological condition. And they felt an irresistible urge to keep alive the real image of Natura.
And when in retrospect we review man's whole attitude to nature knowledge, we feel that our approach to nature is abstract, that nature is a catalogue of laws. We are proud if we can see these laws even to some extent as a related whole. If we look back a few centuries we see that a living relationship existed between man and a divine Being who was living, weaving and working in natural phenomena — in the rising and setting of the Sun, in the transmission of warmth to the stones and plants, a warmth that is actively operating within all this life, growth and proliferation. How different was a science that took into account the activities of the Goddess Natura. The mood in which the students of the School of Chartres — the majority were of the Cistercian Order — came out of their lectures was vastly different from the mood of students leaving their lecture-rooms today! Their response was vitally alive and a deeper expression of their inner being. And the same living reality is reflected in the descriptions of such men as Brunetto Latini, the celebrated teacher of Dante. The vigorous, creative spirit of the time can readily be imagined, for the characters and splendid pictorial descriptions of Dante's Commedia are inspired by the graphic descriptions of his teacher Brunetto Latini who owed his Initiation to a karmic incident. And the School of Chartres and other Schools were indebted to Initiates such as Joachim of Fiore and others for much of the instruction given at the time.
The term Natura was not used in our abstract sense; it implied something operating creatively in external sensible phenomena, but which remained veiled and escaped one's gaze.
Another factor must also be taken into consideration. Let us assume — and again I am describing a fundamental reality, not some poetic fantasy — that, as an elderly student, you had attended a course of lectures given by Alanus ab Insulis and had taken part in the discussions; the students had been dismissed and you were walking alone with Alanus ab Insulis discussing the problems at issue.
The conversation might have turned upon some particular point. You might have spoken of the Goddess Natura who manifests herself in the phenomenal world, but who is veiled from you. Then Alanus ab Insulis who had warmed to the discussion would have said: If we still shared in our life of sleep the condition formerly possessed by the ancients, we would be in touch with the hidden side of nature. Our sleep leads to oblivion; but it was precisely in the unconscious that the ancients were in contact with the hidden side of nature. Could we but experience again the clairvoyant sleep of the ancients, we should know the Goddess Natura.
And if, in a similar situation, you had been engaged in intimate conversation with Joachim of Fiore, he would have replied: our sleep is devoid of content, our consciousness is obliterated. It would be difficult therefore to know the Goddess Natura weaving and working in all created things. The ancients were aware of her hidden and her visible aspects. They never used the term Natura. They never maintained that the Being whose presence we vaguely sense, but do not know, was the Goddess Natura. They gave her another name — Proserpina, or Persephone.
This was common knowledge in those days. What I have just described has been transformed into our abstract conception of nature. And what lived in the souls of such men as Bernardus Silvestris, Alanus ab Insulis, John of Hanville, and above all in Brunetto Latini, was a transformation of the Goddess whom the ancients saw as Proserpina, the daughter of Demeter — the entire universe; Proserpina (the modern term sounds commonplace) — nature, nature who can live only half of her life in the upper world, who reveals only her physical and sensuous aspect to mankind, whilst the other half of her life is spent in those realms where man dwells in sleep, realms which man can no longer inhabit today because his sleep is emptied of true reality.
Our knowledge of nature, though we are unable to realize it owing to our present abstract conception, is an echo of what once lived in the old Greek myth of Persephone.
The fact that the men of sorrowful countenance were aware of this and that it could still be known in their day, shows how much the paths of knowledge have changed with the passage of time. As I said in the earlier part of my lecture, we can only develop the right feeling for, and sense the subtle distinctions in these things, when we review in retrospect the nature of the knowledge that once existed. I have quoted these examples, not with the idea of reviving ancient forms of knowledge, but in order to call attention to the kind of knowledge that was prevalent in former times.
If we can hold fast to the words which might have been spoken perhaps by Joachim of Fiore or John of Hanville: “What we regard as nature today, or whatsoever is veiled from us because we cannot apprehend it spiritually, this was once known as Proserpina,” and if this myth of Proserpina (for it has survived only as a myth) is renewed within us, then the images evoked by this myth awaken images of still earlier relationships. They are images from the time when man knew neither the abstract nor the tragic aspect of the Goddess Natura, when he saw Proserpina-Persephoneia herself, in her aspect of radiant beauty and tragic gloom.
And in what aspect did she appear in those far-off days of her prime? These were not the days of Plato's philosophy, nor of Socrates' dialogues, but much earlier times, when knowledge was far more vitally alive than at the height of Greek culture.
Let us try to envisage the different forms knowledge has taken in the course of human evolution so that we may see in the right perspective what we have already discussed from the standpoint of the present and which will be discussed in further detail in the course of these lectures.
Though of necessity our account will be brief and imperfect, let us try to envisage the nature of the Mysteries into which the Greek philosopher Heraklites was initiated, the ‘dark’ and ‘gloomy’ Heraklites as he was called, because, in later years, a psychic darkness had descended upon all that he had received at the hands of the Mysteries. Let us picture that period in the development of the Mysteries when the Greeks drew upon them for their imaginative vision and the creation of their myths. And let us picture to ourselves the Mysteries of Ephesus into which Heraklites had been initiated.
Knowledge from primeval times was still extant in Ephesus and persisted into Homer's time and even into the time of Heraklites' Initiation, though in an emasculated form. These ancient Mysteries were still actively flourishing. A strong and powerful spiritual atmosphere was present in that temple which was adorned on the Eastern side with the statue of the Goddess Diana, the Goddess of Fertility, who symbolizes the superabundant fertility of nature everywhere. When conversations were held, momentous secrets of existence, profound spiritual secrets were imparted to the pupils through the spoken word immediately after they had taken part in the Mysteries and had received the mighty impulses of the Mysteries from the ceremonies in the Temple of Ephesus. And these profound conversations were continued after the participants in the ceremonies had left the Temple. At the twilight hour, when nature invites to contemplation, they would follow the pathway leading from the Temple doorway into a grove with arboured walks, planted with dark-green trees in which paths fanning out from the Temple of Ephesus were gradually lost to view in the distance. I should like to offer you a somewhat inadequate picture of conversations of this kind.
It was not unknown for someone who had received a partial Initiation into the Mysteries of those times to enter into conversation with a pupil of either sex. Now you must realize that in those days equality of rights between the sexes, though forfeited immediately afterwards, was very much more a living reality than it is today. We can speak, therefore, both of male and female pupils at Ephesus. And in these conversations there was a lively interest in the spiritual aspect of the myth of Persephone. But how was such a conversation conducted? First, there was the teacher, the Priest-Initiate, who, from the spiritual impulses he had received, was empowered to speak of the contingencies in the world of forms, of the inter-relationships of entities in that world. Speaking from his Initiate knowledge he would say something like the following to his pupil. — It is now twilight, and sleep which reveals the spiritual world will soon overtake us. Look upon your human form in its totality. Beneath our feet are the plants and around us are the lengthening shadows of twilight and the dim green light of the temple grove. The first stars are beginning to shine in the heavens. Behold the majesty and grandeur of life's inexhaustible vitality in the Heavens above and the Earth beneath. Then behold yourself and remember that a whole universe lives and stirs within you, that all organic activity, all the changes and chances of your inner life bear witness every moment of the day to a plenitude of facts and to endless transformations of your being. Realize that you are a microcosm which, though spatially delimited, is richer in mystery and wonder than the macrocosm which you apprehend visually and intellectually. Learn then to feel and know this world within you. Realize that you are now looking out from your microcosmic world into the larger world that reaches from the Earth to the stars. Then sleep will overtake you; you will no longer be a prisoner of your own body, of your own world, but will inhabit that other world you now behold, a world that embraces the Earth and the stars. Your soul and spirit will have relinquished the physical body and you will be sharing the radiance of the stars and the exhalations of the Earth. You will ride the winds and think with star-radiance. You will now be living in the spiritual world and will look back upon your microcosmic self.
In ancient times it was possible for the teacher to speak to his pupil after this fashion, because the perception of the external world was not so sharply defined as now, and the life of sleep had not yet become a total blank. It was still crowded with experiences. When referring to this state of sleep, the teacher spoke of realities, saying: You are now in the presence of Proserpina, Persephone or Cora. Cora lives in the stars, in the rays of sunshine, in the moonbeams and the growing plants. Everywhere can be seen the activities of Persephone, for she has woven the garment of the universe. And behind it all is Demeter, her mother, for whom Persephone has woven this garment which you see as the external world. — The teacher did not use the term ‘nature;’ he preferred to speak of Persephone or Cora.
And continuing the dialogue with his pupil, the teacher went on: If someone were to remain awake for a longer period than yourself, then, whilst you were asleep, he would perceive the plants, mountains, clouds and stars — external manifestations of Persephone — exactly as you do now. Illusion lies in the manner of our seeing. It is not Persephone, not her creative activities in mountains, plants, clouds and stars that are illusory, but how you see them. And now the moment has come for sleep. Through your eyes, the organ of life's mysteries, Cora-Persephone will enter into you. —
These things were described so vividly because they had been so vividly experienced; so that, whilst falling asleep, the sleeper not only felt that sight, hearing and perception were being extinguished, but he was aware of Persephone sinking down through the eyes into the physical and etheric bodies from which his soul and spirit had withdrawn whilst he slept.
In waking life we live in the upper world, in sleep we live in the lower world. Persephone entered through the eyes of the sleeper into the physical and etheric bodies. She dwelt with Pluto, the Lord of sleep within the physical and etheric bodies. The sleeping neophyte experienced the activity of Pluto and Persephone. Through the instruction he had received he became aware of the entry of Cora through the gateway of the eyes. This became a living reality to him, and now he experienced the deeds of Pluto and Persephone during sleep. And whilst the neophyte experienced this, his teacher had corresponding experiences that were related to the world of forms.
Then, when teacher and pupil met together again, each had experience of his own particular insights. And when they discussed plants and trees, the teacher would describe how the forms arose, for they had been revealed to him in sleep. Then he would discuss in detail the configuration of the leaves and stems, of the whole nature-kingdom and the formative forces which work down into the Earth from above. And though the pupil had perhaps experienced different insights, he could probably follow his teacher when he spoke of the mysteries of chlorophyll and osmosis. Thus the conversations supplemented each other: in this vivid picture of the Goddess Persephone in the underworld, revealing her other aspect to man whilst he slept, these secrets were revealed to the human soul and entered into it.
Thus, in those far-off times, the pupil learned from the teacher and the teacher from the pupil. On the one hand, the teachings were of the spirit and soul, on the other hand, of soul and spirit. From this interchange of pooled experience they touched the highest flights of knowledge. When they shared these deepest insights, when next they saw the approach of dawn and the morning star shining in the East, sending shafts of light into the dark green grove whose avenues of majestic trees were gradually lost to view in the distant vista, their hearts were gladdened. They had dwelt for a brief hour in that realm we now call the realm of nature. And when they had talked of these things amongst themselves, they knew for certain they had held converse with Persephone. And they knew also that all that was later incorporated into the myth of Persephone was, in reality, the hidden source of man's knowledge of nature.
I can only indicate imperfectly the fascination of these conversations that were related to the Mysteries of Ephesus and were imbued with a vital, living knowledge of Persephone. But in the course of time this knowledge was toned down to the abstraction we know as nature today and men such as Joachim of Fiore were saddened by this tragic loss.
We can only understand the path leading to an understanding of the spiritual nature of man and the Cosmos when we draw attention to, and characterize, not only the separate states of consciousness within man's reach, but also show how these states have been transformed in the course of the evolution of mankind; when we realize how very different from our own was the knowledge ,that informed the conversations of those who had participated in the Mysteries in the Temple of Ephesus, and how different was the nature of the converse held with such personalities as Joachim of Fiore and Alanus ab Insulis; and how different today is the knowledge that we must strive to attain once more, in order through spiritual training to seek forms of knowledge which lead back from the Outer to the Inner, from the Above to the Below and then from the Inner to the Outer and the Below to the Above.
|GA 232. Mystery Centres — Lecture XII|
|In these ancient times a man could not say, when he looked at that reddish-brown material which has the shining appearance of copper, at that substance which we today call copper, he could not say as one does today: “That is copper; that is a constituent of the earth.” At that time such a thing would have been inconceivable. Copper was no constituent of the earth for these ancient peoples, but the deed of Venus in the earth which revealed itself as copper.|
|Just as little as we today are able to say that the seed simply grows out of the earth, so little at that time could one say, in regard to the surface of the earth, and copper ore in the earth, “This copper ore is a constituent of the earth.” What one had to say then was: “The earth here with its sandstone or other soil is simply the basis, the soil; and what exists by way of metal inside it has been placed in the earth by the planets.”|
|Mercury is every metal in so far as it stands under the influence of the entire cosmos; for how would copper come into being if the cosmos from its periphery alone worked on this metal? In that case copper would be of a drop-form quicksilver. How would lead appear if the cosmos alone worked? Lead would also appear in drop-formation, as quicksilver also.|
|GA 232. Mystery Centres — Lecture XII|
In the course of the last few weeks I have drawn your attention to many different kinds of Mysteries, and we have especially attempted to obtain an insight into those Mysteries which were, so to say, the last of the great Mysteries which connected man s inner being directly with the life of nature, with the spirit of nature. These were the Mysteries of Hibernia; and we have seen how, through insight into man himself, an insight which was, however, of an intimate spiritual as well as an individual personal nature, the Mysteries of Greece also penetrated into the inner being of man. One can indeed say that as in the world of external nature the different regions of the earth bring forth this or that kind of vegetation, so in the course of human evolution there streamed down into the different regions of the earth the most manifold influences from the spiritual world, and these worked upon mankind.
If we were to pass over to the East, the Orient — as we are to do shortly in a historical connection — we should find there many other kinds of Mysteries; but today, as all our visitors are not yet present with us, I will link on rather to what we have already studied in preference to beginning something new.
If we look back at the course of human evolution, we may say that there appears before our Imaginative consciousness, with all possible clearness, a threefold evolution. I say “before our Imaginative consciousness,” because of course if we extend those epochs of which I am now speaking further back still, towards still earlier times, we naturally get a greater number than three, and this is also the case if we go further on into the future; but we will today take these middle stages of human evolution, which appear not through Inspiration but already in all clearness before our Imagination; these we will place before our souls today and study them from one particular point of view.
Now, even down to the Egyptian time it was still the case for humanity that, as regards the consciousness of that time — and this applies to the African and European races as well as to the Asiatic races — what we today call matter simply did not exist. Human consciousness did not even grasp the external coarse substances, let alone those abstractions which we today describe as carbon, hydrogen, sulphur, and so on. These things simply did not exist for them; but everything which was spread out externally in nature was seen directly as the body of divine spiritual beings, who revealed themselves in the whole of nature. Today we can go out into the mountains, we can tread on the rocks, we can even throw stones, and all these things we regard as indifferent neutral substances. In our consciousness today there is nothing in any way similar to what was in the consciousness of the ancient, Egyptian or the ancient Oriental.
When we confront a human being today and take hold, let us say, of his hand, that which we touch as a human hand we do not regard as something indifferent. We regard it as something belonging to an entire human organism, and if we observe the tip of the index finger of a human being, we cannot do otherwise than say: this is part of a complete organism.
This was also the case with the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Easterns as regards their consciousness. If they trod on a stone or picked up a stone, that was not to them an indifferent object as it would be to us today; it was not for them just an ordinary earthly substance, it was part of a divine body which was what the earth appeared to them to be. These ancient peoples related themselves consciously to the entire surface, the external surface of the earth, just as we relate ourselves in our consciousness to our skin. If today we approach a human being, and through something or other which comes to our consciousness he reminds us of another human being whom we know, but who is not there, and when it transpires that this human being is the brother or the sister of that other, then we realize that there exists between these two human beings a common flesh and blood, they belong together in a certain bodily way. And when an ancient Greek or an ancient Oriental directed his gaze to Mars, Jupiter and Saturn and then looked down to the earth, he saw in this earth the divine body of the earthly God; but he saw at the same time in this earth the sister or perhaps the brother, in short, a relation of those planets, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, which travel in their orbits round the earth.
Thus there was amongst the ancients something completely of a soul-spiritual nature in their perception of the whole cosmos and of the earth as part of this cosmos.
You must realize clearly and deeply what an utterly different significance this had for those souls as compared with the man of today. It meant a great deal to look at the earth as a divine body and to see in it a relative, a sisterly relation, as it were, to all the other planets of the cosmic system; for the ancients conceived the entire cosmos as filled by the gods. They conceived not only the whole earth as being filled with gods, but beyond the planetary bodies they saw each single member of the planetary beings filled with gods. In stones, in trees, in the rivers, springs, clouds, in lightning, in all these things some sort of spiritual beings revealed themselves to them. This consciousness was awakened far and wide among the races over the earth, and was specially deepened in the various Mystery-Centres which were to be found here and there upon the earth.
If we trace the development of Greek life to that time when the external greatness of Greece gradually diminished into simply a kind of chaos of its various peoples, at the time when the Macedonian nation arose, we find how at that time there flowed over into human knowledge what we learned to know in the last lecture here in the form of Aristotelianism, that which Alexander the Great, in a spiritual sense, regarded as his racial task. But when we come on the one hand to this culminating point in the history of Greece, and on the other to the downfall of Greece and the rise of the Macedonian nation, we see how, besides what outer history relates, which is legendary compared with the reality, out of the depths of the consciousness of the deeper spirits there came an impulse received from those Mysteries of which Aristotle does not speak, but to which he was closely related. These were the Mysteries which in the deepest sense aroused into the full life of consciousness in the pupils the fact that the whole cosmos is a Theogony, an evolution of the Gods, and that one only regards the cosmos in an illusory way if one believes that anything else exists in the cosmos but the Gods, the divine beings, those Gods who stand there as the Essences, the life and essence of the cosmos. It is the Gods, the Divine Beings, who have experiences in this cosmos, they it is who bring about the deeds. What man sees as cloud formations, what he hears as thunder, what he perceives as lightning, what he perceives on earth as rivers, and as mountains, and the mineral kingdom, All these are simply manifestations, expressions of the destiny of the Gods who conceal themselves behind these. Even that which appears outwardly as cloud-formations, thunder and lightning, trees, rivers and mountains is nothing but what divine existence reveals; just as the skin of man reveals the inner being of a soul behind the skin. If the Gods are everywhere, then man has to distinguish — and this was taught to the Mystery pupils in Northern Greece — between the lesser Gods, those who revealed themselves in the different beings and processes of nature, and the great Gods, who expressed the beings of Sun, Mars, and Mercury, and of a fourth which cannot be made visible through any picture or form. These were the great Gods, the great Planetary Spirits, those great Planetary Gods who were regarded in such a way that when man turned his gaze outwards towards the cosmic spaces, it was not only his eye which was kindled but also his entire heart learnt to perceive what lived in the Sun, Mars and Mercury, and not only lived externally in this small circle of the cosmos, but everywhere in cosmic space, and above all draws near to man.
Then after a majestic impulse was awakened in the pupils of the Northern Greek Mysteries through his gaze having been first directed towards the planetary orbits themselves, it was then deepened, in a human sense, so that his vision was taken possession of as it were by the heart; and he learnt to see psychically, with the soul. Then the pupil understood why on the altar there were placed before him three symbolic vessels, pitchers.
We once made use of a copy of these vessels here in an Eurhythmy presentation of Faust, and as you saw these three vessels, so they were seen in the Samothracian Mysteries, the Northern Greek Mysteries; but the essential thing was that through these vessels, these pitchers, in their whole symbolic form, a sacrificial ritual, a ritual of consecration took place. A kind of incense was put into these three vessels, which was then kindled, and when the smoke poured out, three words of which we shall speak further to-morrow were uttered with mantric power by the celebrant. These words were uttered into the smoke which rose up above the vessels, and then there appeared the forms of the three Kabiri. They appeared because the human breath breathed out through the mantric words, fashioned itself, and then imparted its form to the rising smoke, the incense arising from the substance which was incorporated into these symbolic vessels. While the pupil learnt to read in this way what was written in the smoke by his, own breathing, he learnt to read, at the same time, what the mysterious planets spoke to him from out of the great universe. Now he knew that the form assumed by the first of the Kabiri through the mantric word and its power represented the reality behind Mercury; in the form assumed by the second Kabiri he learnt the reality of Mars; and in that of the third Kabiri he learnt the reality of Apollo, the Sun.
Now when you look at those fashion-plate figures (and you must pardon me for using this strong expression) which are unfortunately mostly to be seen in picture galleries of the later Greek sculpture, and which are greatly valued because people have no idea from what these forms have arisen — if one considers these fashion-plate figures of Apollo, Mars and Mercury, one should look at them with, as it were, the gaze of Goethe, that gaze which Goethe applied during his Italian journey in order, through these fashion-plate forms, to get some idea of what Greek art really was in its freshness, that Greek art which was destroyed with so much else during the first few centuries after the foundation of Christianity. If one is able as it were to look through those later Greek plastic forms, which in one sense are rightly valued because they are signposts, but which being simply descendants from what lived before, should not be considered great — if one looks back to that from which they came, one sees that in the older Greek Art, copies were made of sacrificial revelations, revelations which arose in a much earlier epoch in a much more majestic and mighty way than we find them later in Samothrace, in these Mysteries of the Kabiri. One looks back to those times in which the mantric word was uttered into the sacrificial smoke, and the true form of Apollo, of Mars and of Mercury then appeared.
Those were times in which man did not say abstractly: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and a God was the Word;” those were times when man could say something else, when he could say: “My out-breathing fashions itself, it takes form; and while this expiration takes form in a regular way, it reveals itself as an image of cosmic creation, because it creates for me from the sacrificial smoke forms which for me are a living script, a living writing; and this writing reveals to me what the planetary worlds desire to say to me.”
When the pupil of the Kabiri Mysteries in Samothrace approached the portals of these temples of initiation, then, because of the instruction he had gone through, he had this feeling: “Now at last I am entering something which reveals to me the magical deeds of the sacrificial Father;” for in these Mysteries the initiating Celebrant was called “Father.” What did the magical powers of this celebrant Father reveal to the pupil? Through that which the Gods laid down in man (i.e. the power of speech) this priestly magician and sage, this Hierophant, was able to write certain signs in the sacrificial smoke) certain characteristics; and these uttered the secrets of the universe.
Therefore the pupil, when he approached the temple of initiation, could say in his heart: “I am now entering something which reveals to me a mighty spirit, the great Gods, those great Gods who through these sacrificial rites, reveal on the earth the secrets of the cosmos.”
That was a speech which was there spoken, a writing which was there written, which truly did not appeal to the intellect of man, but which made a claim on the whole being of man. In the Samothracian Mysteries there still existed something of a knowledge which today has quite disappeared. Man is today capable of saying, with truth, what a quartz crystal feels like, what a hair feels like, what the human skin feels like, what the skin of an animal feels like, what silk or velvet feel like. Man is today capable of that. He can realize all these things vividly in his feeling. In the Samothracian Mysteries something else existed by means of which man could realize with truth how the Gods could be felt. For the sense of touch in these ancient times was still such that man was capable of feeling, of contacting the Gods. The most marvelous thing is really the following, and one has to go back to these ancient times if one ventures to say that man could assert with truth: “I know through my finger tips how the Gods contact one another.” In these Samothracian Mysteries there existed another method by which one could touch, contact the Gods, and this consisted in the following.
While the priestly magician spoke into this sacrificial smoke the mantric words, while he caused these words to resound forth in his expiration, he felt in his outgoing breath just as man usually feels when he stretches out a hand to touch something; and just as we know the different feeling in our finger-tips when they are contacting say silk, to what they feel when they contact velvet or touch the fur of a cat or the skin of a human being, in the same way the Samothracian priestly magician felt with the air he breathed out, which went forth into the sacrificial smoke, an utterance of something which came from himself. He felt his expiration as an organ of touch, which went into the smoke. He felt the smoke; and in the smoke he felt these great Gods, the Kabiri, streaming towards him. He felt how the smoke took form and that those forms which developed in the smoke came from outside to the expiration of breath. These out-breathings formed here into curves, there into angles, while at times something as it were grasped him; thus the whole divine form of the Kabiri was experienced by means of the mantric words in which the breath was clothed. Through the words which came out of the heart the sacrificing Hierophant contacted these great Gods, the descending Kabiri, who came to him in the sacrificial smoke. There was a living interchange between the Logos in man and the Logos outside in the cosmic spaces.
Thus while the initiating Father led the pupil before the sacrificial altar and gradually instructed him in the way in which he learnt to feel while speaking, and while the pupil progressed more and more and learnt to feel himself in this element of speech, he finally came to that stage of inner experience in which he had a clear consciousness of how Hermes, or Mercury was fashioned, of how Apollo was fashioned, and of how Aries or Mars was fashioned. It was as though the entire consciousness of man was lifted out of his body and what the pupil formerly knew as the content of his head was lifted out and remained above it. It was as though the forces of his heart were pressed into a different place, as though the forces of the heart were driven into the head. And in this human being really transcending, going out of himself, there arose something which formed these words: “It is thus that the Kabiri, the great Gods desire you to be.” From that moment the pupil knew that Mercury lived in his limbs, the Sun in his heart, and Mars in his speech.
You see it is not only the processes and being of nature in the external world that were brought before the pupil in these ancient times; what was brought before him was neither one-sided naturalistically nor in a moral way. It was something in which morality and nature flowed together in unity; and that was just the secret of these Samothracian Mysteries, that the pupil received this consciousness directly: “Nature is spirit; spirit is nature.”
In the times which found their last echo in the Samothracian Kabiri service, arose the insight which can bring earthly substances into harmony with the entire heavens. In these ancient times a man could not say, when he looked at that reddish-brown material which has the shining appearance of copper, at that substance which we today call copper, he could not say as one does today: “That is copper; that is a constituent of the earth.” At that time such a thing would have been inconceivable. Copper was no constituent of the earth for these ancient peoples, but the deed of Venus in the earth which revealed itself as copper. The earth only allows stones such as sandstone, chalk, to arise, in order to receive into her bosom what the heavens imprinted into the earth. Just as little as we today are able to say that the seed simply grows out of the earth, so little at that time could one say, in regard to the surface of the earth, and copper ore in the earth, “This copper ore is a constituent of the earth.” What one had to say then was: “The earth here with its sandstone or other soil is simply the basis, the soil; and what exists by way of metal inside it has been placed in the earth by the planets.” This is a seed implanted in the earth by a planet, and everything which exists in this way on the earth was then seen as something impelled into the earth from the heavens.
We today describe the earth with the substances in it, as we may see in any book on mineralogy or geology; but the ancient science would not have described things in the same way. At that time a man could let his gaze roam over the earth, but when he saw the substances with it he had to take the heavens into consideration; and it was in the heavens that he saw the real beings of substances. It is only apparently that copper, tin, lead, etc., lie in the earth. In reality they are simply the seeds which have been implanted into the earth during the ancient Sun and Moon existence, implanted from the heavens into earthly existence.
Now this was still the teaching of the Kabiri in the Samothracian Mysteries, and that finally was something which gave at any rate the atmosphere of the knowledge in which Aristotle and Alexander the Great worked. And then the beginning was created for something quite different.
Humanity did not descend at once with this insight on to the earth: humanity had first to pass through a transitional period in these ancient times. Now even in these echoes of the ancient times which we find in the Samothracian Mysteries, when the metals of the earth or even other substances of the earth such as sulphur or phosphorus were to be described, then the heavens were described as we describe the plant when we seek to know the nature of the seed. We cannot recognise a seed, we cannot get to know the nature of a seed, unless we know the plant. What should we do, for instance, with a seed which appears like this _ unless we knew, at the same time, what the aniseed plant looks like? The ancients would have said: “What can you make of the copper which is found in the earth unless you know how Venus appears spiritually, psychically, and bodily, up above in the heavens?”
Out of this knowledge of the heavens there gradually arose what I must call a knowledge of the atmosphere, wherein men in studying the earth no longer described the stars in their living essence, but when they saw an earthly being, they said: In this there lives first of all that which we see in solid earth, then also there is that which we see tending towards the drop-form of the liquids. Then there lives that which seeks to expand itself on all sides, that which is airy, that which lives, for instance, in the human organism in breath and in speech. Finally there lives the fiery element, which dissolves each individual being, so that out of the dissolved constituents new beings can arise. These elements live in every earthly formation.
Now, as formerly in the ancient Mysteries man could look to the salt element which is of course fashioned cosmically, but into the fashioning of which the earth intervenes, they saw in that salt element that which Mother earth brought to the metals and in the mercurial element, everything which streamed out of the cosmos in order to become metal.
Indeed it is infinitely childish when people begin today to give descriptions of what Mercury was still supposed to be in the Middle Ages. Behind all those descriptions there stands in the background the idea that Mercury in the Middle Ages was something similar to quicksilver, or at any rate that some particular metal was understood by that; but that is absolutely not the case. Mercury is every metal in so far as it stands under the influence of the entire cosmos; for how would copper come into being if the cosmos from its periphery alone worked on this metal? In that case copper would be of a drop-form quicksilver. How would lead appear if the cosmos alone worked? Lead would also appear in drop-formation, as quicksilver also. How would tin appear if the cosmos alone worked? Tin also would be in drop-form. Each metal, if only the cosmos worked, would be quicksilver; for all metals are mercury in so far as the cosmos works on them; only the actual present day quicksilver still takes the drop-form on earth. What then is quicksilver really? The fact is, the other metals — lead, copper, tin, iron — have transcended the drop-form. When the whole earth still stood under the influence of the spherical cosmos, all metals were mercury, but they have transcended the mercurial form and so today they are crystallized in other shapes. Only the actual quicksilver, what we today know as such, has remained stationary at that early stage.
What then would the ancients and even the medieval alchemists have said of quicksilver? They would have said: “Copper, tin, lead are the good metals, because they have progressed with evolution. Quicksilver is the Lucifer among the metals, because it has remained stationary in an earlier form.” That was the way in which in these ancient times men spoke of the earth; for at the same time, in truth, they spoke of the heavens.
From then on they gradually came to speak of that which lies between the environment and the earth. Now between the environment and the earth there lies below first the earth itself, then the watery element, then the airy element, then the fiery element. Thus the ancient peoples saw everything which was on the earth in the aspect of the heavens; and then came a middle epoch, which passed away in the first third of the 14th century, when people saw everything in the aspect of the environment, of the atmosphere. Then in the 14th and 15th centuries came the great transformation, when man dropped with his percept ions wholly on to the earth. The elements of water, air, fire, were separated in man's consciousness. They were split up into sulphur, carbon, hydrogen. Man then saw everything in an earthly aspect.
Therewith begins an epoch which I indicated when we spoke about the Hibernian Mysteries. There begins that epoch when man embraces the earth with his knowledge and heaven becomes for him something mathematical. He begins to calculate the size of the stars and their movements and distances, and so on; the heavens become an abstraction for him.
Not only had the heavens become an abstraction to man in this third period. The image of the heavens in the living man is his head, and what he can know of the heavens lives in his head; thus since man learnt only to know of the heavens mathematically, which means logically and abstractly, there lives in his head only the logical and abstract; but from that time on there existed no further possibility for man of drawing down the spiritual into his concepts and ideas. So where man sought the spirit, there began that great conflict between what he, can acquire with the intellectual content of his head and that which the Gods sought to reveal to him of the heavens; and most intensely and gigantically was this conflict fought out, in the true forms of the Rosicrucian Mysteries in the Middle Ages. There, in preparation for true knowledge, man was made to feel the powerlessness of modern man.
This was indeed something which could be felt as mighty in the circles of the true Rosicrucian initiation. What was so mighty consisted in the fact that it was made clear to the pupil, not in an abstract way, but in an inner living way: “You as modern man can only enter the world of ideas; but in so doing you lose the living nature of your own humanity.”
When the pupil felt that that which characterized this new epoch could no longer lead him to what his true being really is, he felt: “You must either doubt your own knowledge or you must pass through a kind of death, a kind of killing of the pride of abstraction.” The Rosicrucian pupil felt — that is, the true Rosicrucian pupil felt as if the master had struck him a blow in the neck, to indicate to him that the abstraction of the modern head is not adapted for entering the spiritual worlds, and that the pupil must renounce what is merely abstract, if he wishes to enter the spiritual worlds. That was one mighty preparatory moment, in what we may call the Rosicrucian initiation.
|GA 351. Cosmic Workings In Earth and Man — On the Growth of Plants|
|We take metals or metallic compounds highly diluted in the manner previously described, for example, a copper compound solution, and put it into a flowerpot with some earth in it: we put it in as a kind of manure. In another similar flowerpot we put only earth, the same earth without the manure. Now we take two plants, as similar as possible, put one in the pot with the copper manured earth, and the other in the pot without the copper manure. And the remarkable thing is: if the copper is highly diluted, the leaves develop wrinkles on the edges — the others get no wrinkles, if they are smooth and had previously none. One must take the same earth, because many specimens previously contain copper. One dilutes it with copper; the same kind of plants must be taken so that comparisons can be made. Now we take a third plant, put it into a third pot with earth, but instead of copper, we add lead. The leaves do not wrinkle but they become hard at the top and wither when lead is added.|
|GA 351. Cosmic Workings In Earth and Man — On the Growth of Plants|
Causes Of Infantile Paralysis
(Dr. Steiner asks if anyone has a question.)
Questioner: Dr. Steiner has spoken about epidemics and how they are to be fought. At the present time an epidemic has broken out — Infantile Paralysis — which attacks adults as well as children. Could Dr. Steiner say something about this?
Second Question: Is it harmful for people to keep plants in their bedrooms?
DR. STEINER: As for the question about plants in bedrooms, it is like this. In a general way it is quite correct that the plants give off oxygen which men then breathe in and that man himself breathes out carbonic acid gas. Thus man breathes out what the plant needs, and the plant what man needs. Now, if plants are kept in a room, the following must be remembered:
When one has plants in a room by day, things happen roughly as I have said; during the night the plant does indeed need rather more oxygen. During the night things are rather different. The plant does not need as much oxygen as man, but it needs oxygen. Thus in the darkness it makes demands on that which otherwise it gives to man. Naturally, man is not deprived altogether of oxygen, but he gets too little and that is harmful. Things balance themselves out in nature: every being has something that others need. So it is with plants, if one observes carefully. If the plants are put outside the bedroom when one sleeps, then there is no unhealthy effect. So much for this question.
* * *
Now as to Infantile Paralysis which just recently has become so prevalent in Switzerland too. It is still rather difficult to speak about this illness, since it has only assumed its present form quite recently, and one must wait till it has taken on more definite symptoms. Still, from the picture one can form at present — we have had a serious case of Infantile Paralysis in the Stuttgart Clinic and one can only judge by the cases which have occurred so far — one can say now that Infantile Paralysis, like its origin, Influenza, which leads to so many other diseases, is an extraordinarily complicated thing and can only be fought if one deals with the whole body. Just recently there has been discussion in medical circles as to how Infantile Paralysis should be treated. There is great interest in this now, because every week there are fresh cases of the disease. It is called Infantile Paralysis because it is mostly children who are attacked. Yet just recently there was a case of a young doctor who certainly is no longer a child, who was, I believe, perfectly healthy on Saturday, on Sunday was taken with Infantile Paralysis and was dead on Monday. This Infantile Paralysis strikes sometimes in an extraordinarily sudden way and we may well be anxious lest it grow into a very serious epidemic.
Now Infantile Paralysis is certainly connected, like Influenza itself, with the serious conditions of our time. Since we in our Biological Institute in Stuttgart succeeded in proving the effects of the minutest quantities of substance, one must speak about these things, even in public, in a quite different way than formerly. We have in Stuttgart simply shown that when one has any substance, dissolves it, dilutes it greatly, one has a tiny amount in a glass of water. One obtains, say, a 1 per cent solution. A drop of this is taken, diluted to a hundredth of its strength. It is now one ten-thousandth of its original strength. Again diluting this to one-hundredth of its strength, we have a solution one-millionth of the original strength. In Stuttgart we have succeeded in obtaining dilutions of one in a million, one in a billion — that is, with twelve zeros. You can imagine that there is now no more than a trace of the original substance left, and that it is a question, not of how much of the original substance is left, but of how the solution works: for it works quite differently from the original. These dilutions were made in Stuttgart and they are not so easily imitated. (Perhaps the German Exchange can do it, but nobody else!) This has been done with all sorts of substances. We then took a kind of flower pot, and poured into it in succession the various dilutions. First, ordinary water, then the 1 per cent dilution, then the .1 per cent, the .01 per cent and so on, up to one part in a trillion. Then we put a wheat seed in. This grows, and it grows better in the diluted liquid than in the non-diluted! And the higher the dilution the quicker the growth: one, two, three four, five dilutions — up to twelve. At the twelfth, the growth becomes slower again, then increases again, then decreases again. In this way one finds the effects of minute quantities of substances. It is very remarkable. The effect is rhythmic! If one dilutes, one comes to a certain dilution where the growth is greatest, then it gets less, then again greater — rhythmically. One sees, when the plant grows out of the ground, something works on it together with its substances, something which works rhythmically in its surroundings. The soil environment works into it. That is clearly to be seen.
Now when we are clear that very minute quantities of substance have an effect, we shall have no hesitation in recognising that in such times as the present, when so many men take incorrect nourishment and then rot as corpses in the ground, this works differently. Of course, for the earth as a whole, the effect is very diluted, but still it is different from what happens when men live healthily. And here again, the food which grows out of the earth is a factor.
Naturally, people with grossly materialistic scientific views do not understand this, because they say: What importance can the human corpse have for the whole earth? This effect is very diluted, naturally, but it works.
It will be well if we speak about the whole plant. The health of men is completely dependent on the growth of plants and therefore we must know what really is involved.
I have been greatly occupied with this point in connection with Infantile Paralysis, and it has turned out that one must really concern oneself with the whole man. Indications have appeared for all sorts of remedies for Infantile Paralysis. The subject is of great importance, since Infantile Paralysis may play a very grievous role in the future. It is naturally a question which occupies one greatly, and I have in fact given it a great deal of attention. There will probably have to be found a treatment made up of soda baths, iron arsenite (Fe As2 O3) and of yet another substance which will be obtained from the cerebellum, from the back part of the brain of animals. It will have to be a very complicated remedy. You see, the disease of Infantile Paralysis arises from very complicated and obscure causes and so requires a complicated remedy. These things have become of urgent importance to-day, and it is well that you should understand the whole question of the growth of plants.
The plant grows out of the ground — I will represent it to-day with reference to the question which has been put. (Dr. Steiner makes a sketch on the blackboard.) The root grows out of the seed. Let us first take a tree; we can then pass to the ordinary plants. We take a tree: the stem grows up. This growth is very remarkable. This stem which grows there, is really only formed because it lets sap mount from the earth, and this sap in mounting carries up with it all kinds of salts and particles of earth; and so the stem becomes hard. When you look at the wood from the stem of a tree, you have a mounting sap, and this sap carries with it fine particles of earth, and all sorts of salts too, for instance, carbonate of soda, iron, etc., into the plants and this makes hard wood. The essential thing is that the sap mounts.
What happens, in reality? The earthy, the solid, becomes fluid! And we have an earthy-fluid substance mounting there. Then the fluid evaporates and the solid remains behind: that is the wood.
You see, this sap which mounts up in the tree — let us call it wood-sap — is not created there but is already contained everywhere in the earth, so that the earth in this respect is really a great living Being. This sap which mounts in the tree, is really present in the whole earth: only in the earth it is something special. It becomes in the tree what we see there. In the earth it is in fact the sap which actually gives it life. For the earth is really a living Being; and that which mounts in the tree is in the whole earth and through it the earth lives. In the tree it loses its life-giving quality; it becomes merely a chemical; it has only chemical qualities.
So when you look at a tree, you must say to yourself: the earthy-fluidic in the tree — that has become chemical; underneath in the earth it was still alive. So the wood-sap has partly died, as it mounted up in the tree. Were this all, never would a plant come into existence, but only stumps, dying at the top, in which chemical processes are at work. But the stem, formed from this sap, rises into the air, and the air always contains moisture. It comes into the moist air, it comes with the sap which has created it, from the earthy-fluidic into the fluidic-airy and life springs up in it anew so that around it green leaves appear and finally flowers. ... Again there is life. You see, in the foliage, in the leaf, in the bud, in the blossom, there is once more the sap of life; the wood-sap is dead life-sap. In the stem, life is always dying; in the leaf it is always being resurrected. So that we must say: We have wood-sap, which mounts; then we have life-sap. And what does this do! It travels all round and brings forth the leaves everywhere: so that you can see the spirals in which the leaves are arranged. The living sap really circles round. It arises from the fluid-airy element into which the plant comes when it has grown out of the earthy-fluidic element.
The stem, the woody stem, is dead and only that which sprouts forth around the plant is alive. This you can easily prove in the following very simple way. Go to a tree: you have the stem, then the bark, and in the bark the leaves grow. Now cut the bark away at that point; the leaves come away too. At this point leave the leaves with the bark. The result is that there the tree remains fresh and living, and here it begins to die. The wood alone with its sap cannot keep the tree alive; what comes with the leaves must come from outside and that again contains life. We see in this way that the earth can certainly put forth the tree, but she would have to let it die if it did not get life from the damp air: for in the tree the sap is only a chemical, no giver of life. The living sap that circulates, that gives it life. And one can really say: When the sap rises in the spring, the tree is created anew; when the living sap again circulates in the spring, every year the tree's life is renewed. The earth produces the sap from the earthy-fluidic; the fluidic-airy produces the living sap.
But that is not all. While this is happening, between the bark, still full of living sap, and the woody stem, there is formed a new layer. Now I cannot say that a sap is formed. I have already spoken of wood-sap, living sap, but I cannot again say that a sap is formed: for what is formed is quite solid: it is called cambium. It is formed between the bark which still belongs to the leaves, and the wood. When I cut here (see sketch) no cambium is formed. But the plant needs cambium too, in a certain way. You see, the wood sap is formed in the earthy-fluidic, the life sap in the fluidic-airy, and the cambium in the warm air, in the warm damp, or the airy-warmth. The plant develops warmth while it takes up life from outside. This warmth goes inward and develops the cambium inside. Or if the cambium does not yet develop — the plant needs cambium and you will shortly hear why — before the cambium forms, there is first of all developed a thicker substance: the plant gum. Plants form this plant gum in their inner warmth, and this, under certain conditions, is a powerful means of healing. Thus the sap carries the plant upwards, the leaves give the plant life, then the leaves by their warmth produce the gum which reacts on the warmth. And in old plants, this gum, running down to the ground, has become transparent. When the earth was less dense and damper, the gum became transparent and turned to Amber. You see, then, when you take up a piece of Amber, what from prehistoric plants ran down to the ground as resin and pitch. This the plant gives back to the earth: Pitch, Resin, Amber. And if the plant retains it, it becomes cambium. Through the sap the plant is connected with the earth; the life-sap brings the plant into connection with what circulates round the earth — with the airy-moist circumference of the earth. But the cambium brings the plant into connection with the stars, with what is above, and in such a way that within this cambium the form of the next plant develops. [See: Man as Symphony of the Creative Word, Twelve lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in Dornach, 19th October to 11th November, 1923, Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company.] This passes over to the seeds and in this way the next plant is born, so that the stars indirectly through the cambium create the next plant! So that the plant is not merely created from the seed — that is to say, naturally it is created from the seed, but the seed must first be worked on by the cambium, that is: by the whole heavens.
It is really wonderful — a seed, a humble, modest little seed could only come into existence because the cambium — now not in liquid but in solid form — imitates the whole plant; and this form which arises there in the cambium — a new plant form — this carries the power to the seed to develop through the forces of the earth into a new plant.
Through mere speculation, when one simply puts the seed under a microscope, nothing is gained. We must be clear what parts the sap, the life sap, the cambium, play in the whole matter. The wood sap is a relatively thin sap: it is peculiarly fitted to allow chemical changes to take place in it. The life sap is certainly much thicker, it separates off its gum. If you make the gum rather thick, you can make wonderful figures with it. Thus the life sap, more pliable than the wood sap, clings more to the plant-form. And then it gives this up entirely to the cambium. That is still thicker, indeed quite sticky, but still fluid enough to take the forms which are given it by the stars.
So it is with trees, and so, too, with the ordinary plants. When the rootlet is in the earth, the sprout shoots upward. But it does not separate off the solid matter, does not make wood; it remains like a cabbage stalk. The leaves come out directly on the circumference, in spirals, the cambium is formed directly in the interior, and the cambium takes everything back to the earth with it. So that in the annual plants the whole process occurs much more quickly. In the tree, only the hard parts are separated out, and not everything is destroyed.
The same process occurs in ordinary plants too, but is not carried so far as in trees. In the tree it is a fairly complicated matter. When you look at the tree from above, you have first the pith inside: this gives the direction. Then layers of wood form round the pith. Towards the autumn the gum appears from the other side, and fastens the layers together. So we have the gummy wood of one year. In the next year this is repeated. Wood forms somewhere else, is again gummed together in the autumn, and so the yearly rings are formed. So you see everything clearly if only you understand that there are three things: wood sap, life sap, and cambium. The wood sap is the most fluid, it is really a chemical; the life sap is the giver of life; it is really, if I may so express myself, a living thing. And as for the cambium, there the whole plant is sketched out from the stars. It is really so. The wood sap rises and dies, then life again arises; and now comes the influence of the stars, so that from the thick, sticky cambium the new plant is sketched out. In the cambium one has a sketch, a sculptural activity. The stars model in it from the whole universe the complete plant form. So you see, we come from Life into the Spirit. What is modelled there is modelled from out of the World-Spirit. The earth first gives up her life to the plant, the plant dies, the air environment along with its light once more gives it life, and the World Spirit implants the new plant form. This is preserved in the seed and grows again in the same way. So that one sees in the growing plant how the plant world rises out of the earth, through death, to the living Spirit.
Now other investigations have been made in Stuttgart. These things are extraordinarily instructive. For instance, one can do the following, instead of merely investigating growth — which is very important, especially when one is dealing with the higher potencies, say of one in a trillion — one can do the following. We take metals or metallic compounds highly diluted in the manner previously described, for example, a copper compound solution, and put it into a flowerpot with some earth in it: we put it in as a kind of manure. In another similar flowerpot we put only earth, the same earth without the manure. Now we take two plants, as similar as possible, put one in the pot with the copper manured earth, and the other in the pot without the copper manure. And the remarkable thing is: if the copper is highly diluted, the leaves develop wrinkles on the edges — the others get no wrinkles, if they are smooth and had previously none. One must take the same earth, because many specimens previously contain copper. One dilutes it with copper; the same kind of plants must be taken so that comparisons can be made.
Now we take a third plant, put it into a third pot with earth, but instead of copper, we add lead. The leaves do not wrinkle but they become hard at the top and wither when lead is added. You have now a remarkable sight. These experiments were made in Stuttgart, and you plainly see, when you look at the pots in turn, how the substances of the earth work on plants.
You will no longer be surprised when you see plants with wrinkled leaves somewhere. If you dig in the earth there, you will find traces of copper. Or if you have leaves which are dry and withered at the edge, and dig in the earth, you will find traces of lead. Look at a common plant, say mare's tail, with which people clean pots; it grows just where the ground contains silicon; hence the little thorns. In this way you can understand the form of plants from the nature of the ground.
Now you can see of what importance it is when quite tiny amounts of any substance are mixed in the earth. Naturally, there is a churchyard somewhere outside, but the earth is everywhere permeated with wood sap, and the tiny quantities penetrate everywhere into the ground. And having investigated how these tiny quantities work, of which I have told you, we say: That which disappeared into the earth, we eat it again in our food. It is so strong that it lives in the plant form. And what happens then? Imagine I had thus a plant form from a lead-containing soil. To-day it is said that lead does not arise in soil. But lead does arise in soil, if one puts decaying living matter in it. It simply does arise in soil. A plant grows out of it: one may say, a lead-plant. Well, this lead plant when we eat it, has a quite different effect from a lead-less plant. Actually, when we eat a lead plant, our cerebellum, which lies at the back of the head, becomes drier than usual. It becomes drier.
Now you have the connection between the earth and the cerebellum. There are plants which simply through the constitution of the earth, through what men put into the earth and what then spreads everywhere, can dry up the cerebellum. As soon as our cerebellum is not in full working order, we become clumsy. When something happens to the cerebellum we become awkward and cannot properly control our feet and arms; and when the effect is much stronger, we become paralysed.
Thus, you see, is the connection between the soil and paralysis. A man eats a plant. If it has something dying at the edge of the leaves, as I have described to you, his cerebellum will be dried up somewhat. In ordinary life this is not noticed, but the man cannot any longer rightly direct his movements. If the effect is much stronger, paralysis sets in. When this drying up of the cerebellum happens in the head, so that man cannot control his muscles, at first this affects all those muscles which are dependent on a little gland in the head, the so-called pineal gland. If that happens, a man gets influenza. If the evil goes further, influenza changes to a complete paralysis. So that in every paralysis there is something that is inwardly connected with the soil. And so you see knowledge must be brought together from many sides if one is to do anything useful for men. It is useless to make a lot of statements — one must do so and so! For if one does not know how a man has taken into his organism something dying, one may have ever such good apparatus and the man will not recover. For everything that works in the plant and passes over from the plant to the man, is of great importance.
Wood sap develops in man as the ordinary colourless mucus. Wood sap in plants is, in man, mucus. The life sap of the plant which circulates from the leaves, corresponds to the human blood. And the cambium of the plant corresponds to the milk and the chyle in the human being. When a woman begins to nurse, certain glands in the breast cause a greater flow of milk. Here you have again something in human beings which is most strongly influenced by the stars, namely, milk. Milk is absolutely necessary for the development of the brain — the brain, one might almost say, is solidified milk. Decaying leaves create no proper cambium because they no longer have the power to work back into the proper warmth. They let the warmth escape outwards from the dying edges instead of sending it inwards. We eat these plants with an improperly developed cambium: they do not develop a proper milk; the women do not produce proper milk; the children get milk on which the stars cannot work strongly, and therefore they cannot develop properly.
Hence this Infantile Paralysis appears specially among children — but adults can also suffer from it, because men are all their lives influenced by the stars.
In these things Science and Medicine must work together: they must everywhere work together. But one should not isolate oneself in a single science. To-day there are men who specialise in animals — the zoologists; in men — the anthropologists; or in parts of men, with sick senses, or sick livers, or sick hearts — specialists of the inner organs. Then again there are the botanists, who study only plants; and the mineralogists, who study only stones; and the geologists who study the whole earth. Certainly this is very convenient. One has less to learn when one is merely a geologist or when one has only to learn about stones. Yes, but such knowledge is useless when one wants to do something for a man. When he is ill, one must understand the whole of Nature. It is useless merely to understand geology or botany or chemistry. One must understand chemistry and be able to follow its working right into the sap. It is really so. Students have a saying — there are in universities, as you perhaps know, both ordinary and extraordinary professors — and the students have a saying: the ordinary professors know nothing extraordinary, and the extraordinary professors know nothing ordinary! But one can go still further to-day. The geologist knows nothing of plants or animals or men; the anthropologist knows nothing of animals, or plants, or the earth. Neither knows really how the things upon which he works are connected. Just as man has specialised in work, he has specialised in knowledge. And that is much more dangerous. It is shocking when there are only geologists, botanists, etc., so that all knowledge is split up. This has been for men's convenience. People say to-day: a man can't know everything. Well, if one doesn't wish to take in all knowledge, one can despair of any really useful knowledge.
We live at a time when things have assumed a frightful aspect. It is as if a man who has to do with clocks wants to learn only how to file metals, another how to weld them. And there would be another, who knows how to put the clock together, but doesn't know how to work the single metals. Now one can get a certain distance in this way with machinery, although at the same time a certain amount of compulsion is necessary. But in Medicine nothing can be achieved if one does not take into account all branches of knowledge, even the knowledge of the earth. For in the tree trunk lives something which is carried up from the earth (which is the subject of geology) to the sap. There it dies. One must also know meteorology, the science of air, because from the surrounding air something is brought to the leaves which calls forth life in them again. And one must also know astrology, the science of the stars, if one wishes to understand the formation of cambium. And one must also know what enters with the cambium in the food. ... So that when one eats unsound cambium as a child, one gets an unsound brain. In this way diseases are caused by what is in the earth. This is what can be said about the causes of such apparently inexplicable diseases: the causes are in the soil.
|GA 213. The Migrations of the Races — The Relation of the Planets to the Human Organism|
|When a man was not properly interpolated into the Venus-forces — when, therefore, the fluids in his organism were not under sufficient control — the initiates realised that copper must be administered as a medicament. In finding that copper has the effect of enabling the soul-and-spirit to take hold of the body; that its effect is similar to that of the Venus-forces, they discovered that the nature of the forces in the metal copper is the same as the nature of those of the Venus-sphere. Hence they connected the metal copper with Venus. Or when illness was caused by a man's incapacity to take proper hold of the solid constituents of his organism, the ancient initiates found that mercury or quicksilver must be administered.|
|The parallelisms are given in extant literature today; but it never occurs to anybody to ask: Why is copper related to Venus? — and so on. Nevertheless these things were the outcome of genuine investigation. If, therefore, a man speaks out of real knowledge of copper as a means of healing, it is knowledge of the connection of the human being with the cosmos.|
|GA 213. The Migrations of the Races — The Relation of the Planets to the Human Organism|
I will allude briefly to the indications given in last Sunday's lecture. They were on the subject of man's relationship to the universe and attention was called to how the forces of the human will find their way out into the cosmic expanse in the direction opposite to that of the light streaming from the sun to the earth. So it can be said that forces of will stream out from earthly humanity to meet the light. On the other hand, the element of thought is borne to the earth along the waves of the moon's light.
It was further explained that what is spreads out from man at the dissolution of his physical body is of the nature of will and thus streams out into the cosmos towards its inflowing light; and that man is borne back again towards earthly existence on the currents of the thought-element which flow along the lines of light together with everything that proceeds from the moon.
Naturally, in regard to this aspect of the will-element and the light-element, of the thought-element and the moon's light, and also to what I shall say in the present lecture, it must be remembered that when speaking of these things and making use, as it were, of the structure of the universe to illustrate them, an illustration only is meant. For it must not be thought that in these happenings the actual physical sun and the physical moon are anything else than signs for what is taking place spiritually. The true state of affairs can be described approximately in the following way.
I want to speak of these things from a certain historical aspect, but they could also be presented in a different way. My aim is to make the things I am now saying intelligible to you in greater detail. — You know that according to a more materialistic mode of thinking, our solar system originated from a kind of primal nebula. Thinking that is bound up with purely material existence conceives that our visible cosmos, our solar system, sprang from a kind of primal nebula which then consolidated and contracted into what now exists as the solar system.
From all you have heard in Anthroposophy it will be clear to you from the outset that this cannot be an exhaustive presentation of the process. However much this material explanation of cosmic happenings may be modified by saying that the nebula is permeated with forces, and so on, what is actually present cannot be fully explained in this way, for the reason that nothing contained in a Kant-Laplace or other primal nebula, or what develops from it according to the laws governing the gasiform or aeriform states, could ever have produced the animal and human souls that are living on earth, or even the forces working in the growth of plants. Such an explanation of cosmic happenings is an abstraction even if a materialistic abstraction. It must surely be obvious that in the primal nebula conceived by materialistic thinking, a spiritual reality is contained and that this primal nebula is only the outer, material expression of something spiritual. To be complete, therefore the idea of the primal nebula must include the weaving activity of the spiritual. So this Kant-Laplace nebula must be amplified by being regarded as the body of an element of spirit-and-soul — not, it is true, uniform and individual as in man, but manifold, diversified, yet for all that of the nature of spirit-and-soul.
The purely materialistic way of thinking and of formulating hypotheses goes no farther than this primal nebula. Now let us imagine that not we ourselves, but other beings, beings of the future, were to evolve ideas, based on similarly materialistic thinking, of the genesis of the world-system in which they are, or rather will be, living. Whether what I am now saying represents the reality is quite beside the point; it is said only for the sake of clarifying a thought. — We will assume, then, that in a distant future such beings conceive of a Kant-Laplace nebula as the beginning of the world's existence. At what point in the course of the ages would this nebula exist? When such beings of the future look back, it would have to be assumed — in order to make the thought clear — that our earth, that is to say, our solar system, had long since passed away, that the space it occupied had as it were become free, and that then, in this freed space, a Kant-Laplace nebula of a future world had come into existence. As long as our solar system is there, this future nebula could obviously not be imagined to exist in the space it occupies, I will formulate this example by assuming that these beings who might elaborate a materialistic theory of a future world-system place their primal nebula in the space now occupied by our own. But in accordance with what has been said, spirit-and-soul too would have to be contained in such a nebula of the future; this nebula could only be the bodily expression of an element of cosmic spirit-and-soul. Where would this cosmic element originate? What would have to be said about it?
Suppose that here (drawing on blackboard) is our Kant-Laplace primal nebula (physical plus spirit-and-soul) and here the primal nebula conceived at some future time by beings of whom I have spoken. In that nebula too, the element of spirit-and-soul would have to be contained. Where would it originate? If this future nebula were to be at the place occupied by our own solar system it would include an element of cosmic spirit-and-soul. But this would be what has remained over from the solar system in which we ourselves have lived. Our solar system would have come to an end, would have dispersed in cosmic space. The element of spirit-and-soul would have remained and that would be embodied in a new Kant-Laplace primal nebula. In other words: what I have here described would represent the Jupiter evolution. But within this Jupiter evolution would be contained the element of spirit-and-soul prepared during the Earth-evolution of humanity. In the same way we must go back beyond the Kant-Laplace nebula of the Earth to the spirit-and-soul contained in it. And this was prepared by the beings of the (Old) Moon-existence.
So when you look at the present solar system, you are beholding the outer corporeality of what passed away with the Moon-existence or was transformed from the Moon-existence into the Earth-existence. And again, what we today send out into the cosmic expanse prepares the Jupiter-existence. When, therefore, we look at our solar system we are actually looking at something that is the product of an earlier stage of existence. So when I speak of the light streaming to us from the physical sun I am speaking of something that comes out of the past. And when I speak of the streams of will flowing out to meet this light, I am speaking of something that is preparing the future. The primal work, the cosmic element of which I speak in order to have a form of expression for what happens spiritually, was thus prepared by the Old Moon-existence; and what I describe as the Spiritual is already the foundation for what will live on into the Jupiter-existence. Hence it must not be said that the sun seen by our eyes out in cosmic space draws the human will to itself. This physical sun is only the symbol for that sun-nature towards which the human will streams. And equally, the physical moon is only the physical sign for the Moon-nature which in streams of thoughts pours continually into Earth-existence.
You will find these thoughts necessary if you want to understand rightly what is meant when, in what follows, I shall be speaking of cosmic relationships which reflect, in pictures, what takes place spiritually through mankind on the Earth. And here an addition must be made to what was said in the last lecture. When our solar system as a whole is observed from the Earth, we have the Sun, and, as outer planets: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn — others are of less importance. Nearer to the Earth than to the Sun we have Venus and Mercury. Let us now recall that the element of will streams out from humanity on Earth towards the Sun in cosmic space, and that after the dissolution of the body the soul too is borne out into the cosmos through this element of will, which reaches, first, the Sun-existence, the Sun-sphere.
What must in this way be stated as a fact was discovered, as I said in the last lecture, through the experiences of the ancient initiates. They sent their questions towards the Sun along the streams of the will and then received the answers from the Moon in the form of thoughts. So that what I have now said, expressing it in this particular way, is a reality. And again, if more insight is to be gained, we must go back to the experiences of the initiates in the ancient Mysteries.
Think once again of the initiate of these Mysteries sending out his questions, giving them over to the stream flowing out towards the rays of the Sun; he waits, and then, after a time, receives his answers from the Moon — in this respect holding converse with the universe.
But in this process the answers received by the ancient initiates had a specific bearing only; they were answers relating to the actual structure of the universe. So that what was contained in that ancient, more primitive science — which was in truth a lofty, although dreamlike wisdom — was brought into being by the answers received to questions sent out to meet the rays of the Sun streaming from the opposite direction. These answers were to questions referring to the structure of the universe, to the forces at work in the universe, and so on. In short, they were answers relating to the realm of physics, astronomy, to the music of the spheres, to everything embraced in these domains of knowledge in the ancient sciences.
But these initiates sent out other questions as well into the universe. They also knew, for example, how to send out questions to Mars, to the Mars-sphere. At the time when Mars could be seen in the sky they gave over their questions to currents streaming in the opposite direction to the rays of Mars. When they sent their questions to Mars they did not await the answers from the Moon but from Venus, when Venus was standing in a position facing Mars. The important point, however, is that they awaited from Venus the answers to the questions they had sent upwards to Mars.
And again, they awaited from Mercury the answers to the questions sent upwards to Jupiter. The questions to Saturn were sent far out into the cosmic expanse, and the initiates knew that in this case the answers could be awaited from the heaven of the fixed stars only, or from what represented it in those olden times — the Zodiac itself.
What was the nature of these latter questions that were sent out into the universe by the ancient initiates, the answers to which they awaited? These answers were not the abstract, scientific truths connected with the structure of the universe, as I indicated just now; but the questions were those which the initiates wished to address directly to the divine-spiritual Beings.
Thus they sent upwards to Mars questions they had to put to the Angeloi, and awaited the answers from Venus. They sent upwards to Jupiter questions addressed to the Archangeloi, awaiting the answers from Mercury. And to Saturn they addressed questions to be answered by the Archai, awaiting the answers from the Zodiac.
Whereas, therefore, direct converse was held with the cosmos in a more abstract, impersonal form, in the converse of which I am now speaking the initiates were conscious of speaking to actual Beings, divine-spiritual Beings, and of receiving utterances individually from them. In this way, therefore, decisions of will were received from the choir of the Angeloi, from the choir of the Archangeloi, from the choir of the Archai. The discourse between Sun and Moon and the initiates was concerned with the outer aspect of the cosmos; the discourse with the other planets and with the Zodiac was directed to the spiritual Beings in the cosmos.
And so there was actual and continuous intercourse between man and the cosmos, not only concerning its outer structure, but also with the cosmic Beings themselves. The old initiates knew that if, for example, they were directing their forces to Mars, it would not do merely to formulate and send out their cherished questions in terms of thought. Such questions reached only as far as the Sun and the answers came back from the Moon. When the ancient initiates wished to address questions to Mars, they were obliged to do it by composing aphoristic sayings, recitatives, mantrams, which could also be declaimed. These, sent out into the universe, were the means whereby the Mars-forces were activated in such a way that the answers to the questions, coming back from Venus, were audible to a kind of inner hearing.
If it was desired to address questions Jupiter, even the declamation of mantrams did not suffice; in this case the performance of certain definite rites was necessary. And what streamed out into the universe from these rites in the form, shall we say, of cosmic thought, came back from Mercury in certain signs which the ancient initiates knew how to interpret. If they allowed themselves to be inspired by Venus they were able to interpret the corresponding signs; so, too, if they allowed themselves to be inspired by Mercury. These signs were infinitely varied. They meant nothing at all unless a man was inspired by Mercury. If he was inspired by Mercury, he knew: This or that event is an answer to a question asked by means of ritualistic acts.
In this way, happenings and processes in nature, and also those in history which otherwise appear to be nothing more than natural or historical processes, acquired definite content; they could as it were be read. Questions addressed to Saturn entailed very special difficulty, for actions lasting over a lengthy period of time were necessary before they could even be put as questions. In the ancient Mysteries this was as a rule arranged in such a way that the teachers in the Mysteries gave their pupils a certain mission to fulfil, a mission in which the life of the pupil was dedicated to some actual achievement. What it was incumbent upon these pupils to accomplish, often extending over a period of many years, constituted the questions put to the Saturn-existence. And the answers then came back from the Zodiac.
An actual and intimate participation in the cosmos and its happenings was achieved in those rites of prayer and meditation, and by other procedures carried out by the initiates and their pupils in the ancient Mysteries. Nor was anything accomplished in a short time; what took place in such Mysteries through the course of years consisted in unceasing acts of knowledge, and in acts by which the right impulses for the deeds of men were engendered.
Insight into such happenings also enables us to picture how the forces designated as those of Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Moon, Venus and Mercury, work upon man and their significance for him. The significance of the Sun-forces is that they draw man's will-nature towards the Sun and after his death lead him out into the cosmos and thence into the spiritual world. The particular quality of the Moon-forces is that they instill into man the organic configuration which makes thinking and reflection possible; but they are also the forces which bear him back again when, coming down from the spiritual world, he must find his way through the spheres of ether to earthly incarnation.
We can speak in a similar way of the other forces, known by the names of the celestial bodies they represent, and of their effects upon man. As an example, let us take the Mercury-forces. These forces are not concentrated exclusively in the planet Mercury. They permeate the whole of space that is accessible to us and the physical Mercury is merely a manifestation of the Mercury-forces in a concentrated mineral form.
Imagine the whole of our solar system filled with the Mercury-forces. They permeate all the bodies in the solar system, and naturally our own bodies as well; but at the point where Mercury appears in the heavens they are concentrated in a physical-mineral form and so are visible there.
The Venus-forces again are all-pervading. They are merely concentrated in a physical-mineral form at the definite point where Venus is seen. And so it is with all these forces. Speaking in accordance with the reality, we must say: Venus, Mercury, Moon and the rest, all interpenetrate, but their concentrations stand at different places in the heavens.
If we can gradually form a conception of this by perceiving how Mercury gives the answers for Jupiter, by learning to know Mercury, then we also acquire knowledge of what these Mercury-forces signify for man, in the unconscious realms of his life as well. To take a simple example; When we want to walk we must have certain forces by means of which, from out of the spirit, we permeate our bones and muscles. With our spirit-and-soul we have to penetrate into the physical, into the solid constituents of our body. That we are able to do this is due to the Mercury-forces.
It can therefore be said:
These things can be known by studying cosmology, but such study can advance to further stages. The ancient initiates pursued this kind of study, although their science was only primitive and their clairvoyance dreamlike. Let us say, for example, that from their cosmological studies they had discovered that the Venus-forces enable man to take hold of everything that is fluid in him. Then they waited until they came across someone in whom this inability to take hold of the fluids was evident — in other words, definite forms of illness were present. A very definite form of illness sets in when, for example, a man is unable to take hold of the fluid element even in a single organ only. In such a case these ancient initiates asked themselves: What kind of medicament must be administered? When a man was not properly interpolated into the Venus-forces — when, therefore, the fluids in his organism were not under sufficient control — the initiates realised that copper must be administered as a medicament. In finding that copper has the effect of enabling the soul-and-spirit to take hold of the body; that its effect is similar to that of the Venus-forces, they discovered that the nature of the forces in the metal copper is the same as the nature of those of the Venus-sphere. Hence they connected the metal copper with Venus. Or when illness was caused by a man's incapacity to take proper hold of the solid constituents of his organism, the ancient initiates found that mercury or quicksilver must be administered. In this way they established the parallelisms between the metals and the planets. The parallelisms are given in extant literature today; but it never occurs to anybody to ask: Why is copper related to Venus? — and so on. Nevertheless these things were the outcome of genuine investigation.
If, therefore, a man speaks out of real knowledge of copper as a means of healing, it is knowledge of the connection of the human being with the cosmos. To discover whether some metallic element found in a plant has a remedial effect in one respect or another, the whole relationship of this plant to the universe must be borne in mind. And from the plant's relationship to the universe, and again from the relationship of the universe to the human being, the insight comes to us of how the medicament can take effect.
The fact that there is a certain disinclination today to admit these things can be well understood. For the endeavour nowadays is to learn in four or five years — admittedly in a way somewhat open to question — everything that is needed in order to be able to heal. But because this is not possible, because we must forever be learning more, whereas the desire is to be fully qualified after these four or five years and there is unwillingness to admit that a great deal more remains to be learnt — that is why there is this aversion to something to which no end can be in sight. But the world itself is without end, not only in the extensive but also in the intensive sense, as that is usually understood.
Unlike the Mercury-, Venus-, and Moon-forces, the Mars-forces do not enable us to take hold of something, but they protect us from dissolving away in the element of warmth.
The Jupiter- and Saturn-forces are not present in the human organism in this material form. They are there, but in a different form, not immediately detectable.
A melancholic person has this particular temperament because he lives very strongly in his chemical constitution, in everything that seethes and is astir in the liver, in the bile and even in the stomach; the melancholic temperament is therefore due to this living into the chemical make-up of the organism. And this characteristic again is due to the fact that in such a person the Saturn-forces work with particular strength.
The human being appears to be concentrated inside his skin, but this is only apparently so; in reality he is part and parcel of the whole cosmos, and it is possible to indicate in detail how the cosmos has its share in the formation of the human constitution.
Thus the planets near the Sun have to do more with the physical elements in man's organism: solid, fluid aeriform. The planets distant from the Sun have to do more with the etheric elements in man s organism. Between the two groups of planets is the Sun itself. The forces of Mercury, Venus and Moon bring the human being into connection with the solid, fluid and aeriform elements. The forces of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. protect him from flowing away into the Warmth, Light and Chemical Ethers. As you see, the effects are polaric. And the Sun stands between, preventing the two groups of planetary forces from interpenetrating. Suppose the Mars-forces were able to work without restraint — and they could do so on the Moon-forces, for example. If the Sun-forces were not placed in the middle, acting as a kind of dividing-wall which simply does not allow these forces to unite, the Mars-forces — which hold the human being together as an independent entity in the Warmth-element — would, it is true, still prevent him from flowing away into the Warmth; but this independent entity would then at once be obliged to take possession of the Air, and man would become a spectre of air. In order that both processes may take place, in order that man may take hold of the aeriform constituents in his organism but also live as an independent being in the Warmth-element, the two sets of forces, those of Mars and Moon, must be kept separated. And for this purpose the Sun stands between them.
This too was well known to the old initiates. If, for example, definite symptoms of illness appear in a man owing to the fact that the Mars-forces are working too strongly, so that they break through the Sun-element, with the result that the man is then living intensely in the aeriform organism because he is better able to take hold of it — in such a case the Mars-forces must be kept separate from the Moon-forces. And for this purpose aurum (gold) must be administered. To prevent the Mars-forces and Moon-forces from flowing into one another, the Sun-forces must be strengthened. In this way the remedial effect of aurum was discovered; its effect is to bring the organism again into harmonious balance, so that what ought not to flow away is kept in check.
From all this it will be evident to you that knowledge of the universe is not possible without knowledge of man, nor is knowledge of man possible without knowledge of the universe, above all in the domain where it is a matter of applying science in the art of healing.
|GA 230. Man as Symphony of the Creative Word — Lecture X|
|We have also quite small circulatory processes within us. Take any mineral substance, gold, let us say, or copper. Every such substance when induced into man — by the mouth, by injection, or in any other way — is endowed with the power of causing something to be formed or altered in the circulation, so as to work in a curative way, and so on.|
|From the very way one handles a lethargic child one gains the faculty to perceive the whole working of the head-processes, and their relation to the processes of the abdomen. And further, when in mineralogy one studies the processes which take place in copper when it gives rise to this or that formation in the earth, then what copper does in becoming one or another kind of copper ore makes one say to oneself: The copper-force in the earth actually does what you as teacher do with a boy or a girl!|
|There he may see, for example, how, wherever harmful results might ensue from some lime-process, a copper-process is introduced into it. Yes, in these copper-processes, in these ore-forming processes, which have their place within the other processes of the earth, remedial effects are continually present.|
|GA 230. Man as Symphony of the Creative Word — Lecture X|
In the lectures which I have given recently you will have seen that everything was directed towards so bringing together world-phenomena that eventually a really comprehensive knowledge of man might result. Everything we have been studying here has had the knowledge of man as its goal. Such a knowledge of man will only become possible when it begins with the lowest forms of the world of phenomena and relates them to everything that is revealed to man as the material world. But what begins in this way with the study of the entire world of matter must end with the study of the world of the hierarchies. It is in proceeding from the lowest forms of material up to the highest forms of spiritual existence that we must seek to discover what will eventually lead to a true knowledge of man. For the present we will use the lectures I am now able to give you to make a kind of sketch of such a knowledge of man.
We must be quite clear about the fact that what we now recognise as man is a product of that long cosmic evolution which I have always synthesized as the Saturn-Sun-Moon-and-Earth-evolution. The Earth-evolution is not yet completed. But let us be clear about what man owes to this Earth-evolution in the narrower sense, to the epoch, that is to say, which is subsequent to the evolution of old Moon. You see, when you move your arms and stretch them out, when you move your fingers, when you carry out any kind of external movement, everything in your organism which enables you to move your arms and legs, your head, your lips, and so on — and the forces upon which man's external movements depend enter into the most inward parts of the human organism — all this was vouchsafed to man by Earth-evolution in the narrower sense. If, on the other hand, you look into everything connected with the development of the metabolism, which is enclosed by man's outer skin, if you look at all the metabolic functions within the physical body, here you have a picture of what man owes to the Moon-evolution. And you have a picture of what man owes to the old Sun-evolution when you look into everything within him which involves some kind of rhythmic process. Breathing and blood-circulation are of course the most important of these rhythmic processes, and these man owes to the old Sun-evolution. Everything comprised in the system of nerves and senses, which in men of today is distributed over the whole body, this man owes to the old Saturn-evolution.
In regard to all this, however, you must bear in mind that the human being is a whole and that world-evolution is a whole. When today we draw attention to the old Saturn-evolution in the way I did in my “Occult Science”, we mean the period of evolution previous to the primordial epochs of the Sun-Moon-and-Earth-evolution. But this is only one Saturn-evolution, that from which the Earth resulted. But during the period in which the Earth was evolving, a Saturn-evolution also came into being. This Saturn-evolution is included in the Earth-evolution; it is, so to speak, the youngest Saturn-evolution. The one that did not reach the Earth-evolution is the oldest. The Saturn-evolution which was inserted into old Sun is younger; the one inserted into old Moon is younger still. And the Saturn which today imbues the Earth, and is actually responsible for certain aspects of its warmth-organization, this Saturn is the youngest of all. We, with our human nature, are a part of this Saturn-evolution.
Thus are we placed into cosmic evolution. But we are also placed into what surrounds us spacially on the earth. Take, for example, the mineral kingdom. We live in a state of reciprocal action with the mineral kingdom. We take the mineral element into ourselves through our food. We absorb it in other ways, too, through our breathing, and so on. We assimilate the mineral element.
But all evolution, all world-processes, are different within man from what they are outside him. I have already mentioned that it is a real absurdity when people today study chemical processes in laboratories, and then think that when a person eats certain foodstuffs these processes will simply continue inside him. Man is not some kind of confluence of chemical actions; inside him everything is altered. And from a certain standpoint this alteration appears in the following way.
Let us suppose that we take into ourselves something of a mineral nature. Every such mineral substance must be so far worked upon within the human being that the following result is brought about. You know that we have our own individual temperature; in the healthy person this is about 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37° centigrade). In the warmth of our blood we have something which exceeds the warmth outside us. Everything which we take in as mineral substance must, however, be so transformed, so metamorphosed in our organism that, where the warmth of our blood exceeds the average warmth of its external environment, where it rises above the average external warmth of our surroundings, this excess of warmth absorbs with satisfaction the mineral element within us. If you eat a grain of cooking-salt, this grain of salt must be absorbed by your individual warmth, not by the warmth which you have in common with the outside world. It must be absorbed with satisfaction by your own individual warmth. Everything mineral must be transformed into warmth-ether. And the moment a person has something in his organism which prevents any kind of mineral from being changed into warmth-ether, at that moment he is ill.
Now let us proceed to the plant-substances which man takes into himself. Man takes in plant-substances; he, too, belongs to the plant kingdom inasmuch as he develops the plant-element within himself. He contains what is of a mineral nature; this, however, continually has the tendency to become warmth-ether. The plant element continually has the tendency in man to become airy, to become gaseous. So that man has the plant element within himself in its aspect of air. Everything of a plant nature which enters man, or whatever he himself develops as inner plant organisation, must become airy, must be able to assume the form of air within him. If it does not assume the form of air, if his organization is such that it hinders him from letting what is of a plant-nature within him pass over into the form of air, he becomes ill. Everything of animal-nature which man takes in or develops within himself must — in time at least — assume the fluid, the watery form. Man may not have what is of an animal nature within him, whether inwardly produced or absorbed from outside, unless at some time it submits to the process of becoming fluid. If man is not in a position to liquidize either his own or foreign animal substance so as to transform it further into the solid, then he becomes ill. Only that in man which is indigenous to the purely human form, which arises from his nature as a being who walks upright, having within him the impulses to speak and think, only that which gives man his real humanity, which raises him above the animal — and this is at most a tenth of his whole organism — may enter into solid formation, into actual form. If anything of animal or plant nature invades the human solid form, man is ill.
Everything mineral must eventually become warmth-ether in man. Everything vegetable must undergo a transitional airy stage in man. Everything animal must pass through an intermediate watery stage in man. Only what is human may always retain within itself the earthly-solid form. This is one of the secrets of the human organization.
And now to begin with let us leave aside everything that man has from the Earth-epoch — thereby making our further studies of this all the more fruitful — and let us take the metabolic system as such, which, though certainly developed as an Earth-organization, nevertheless received its germinal beginnings from the epoch of old Moon. Let us therefore take digestion in the narrower sense of what takes place inside the human skin — in which we must of course include the excretory processes — and we shall find that all substances become altered in the intake of food. The food-substances, which at first are outside man, enter into him, and merge themselves with the digestive system. This digestive system now converts what belonged to man's surroundings into what is essentially human. Everything mineral begins to assume the condition of warmth-ether, everything vegetable the gaseous-airy-vaporous condition, everything animal, including what is self-produced, begins to assume the fluid condition; and all begin to build what is now essentially human into a firmly organized structural form. All this is inherent in digestion. And digestion is consequently something of remarkable interest.
If we ascend from digestion to breathing, we notice that man produces carbon out of himself, and that this is to be found everywhere within him. This is sought out by oxygen, becomes changed into carbonic acid, and is then exhaled. Carbonic acid is the combination of carbon and oxygen. The oxygen, which is drawn in through breathing, masters the carbon, absorbs the carbon into itself; carbonic acid, the product of oxygen and carbon, is then exhaled. But before exhalation occurs, the carbon becomes the benefactor, so to speak, of human nature. This carbon — in that it combines with the oxygen, in that it combines to a certain extent what the blood-circulation brings about with what the breathing produces — this carbon becomes the benefactor of the human organization, for, before it leaves the human organization, it disperses through it an out-streaming of ether. Physical science merely states that carbon is exhaled with carbonic acid. This, however, is only one side of the whole process. Man exhales the carbonic acid; but in the process of this exhalation something of the carbon taken up by the oxygen is left behind in his whole organism, namely ether. This ether penetrates into man's etheric body, and it is this ether, continually being produced by the carbon, which makes the human organization capable of opening itself to spiritual influences, of absorbing astral-etheric forces from the cosmos. This ether, which is left behind by the carbon, attracts the cosmic impulses, and they in their turn work formatively upon man, so preparing his nervous system, for instance, that it can become the bearer of thoughts. This ether must continually permeate our senses, our eyes, for example, so that they may see, so that they may receive the outer light-ether. Thus we are indebted to carbon for the supply of ether within us which enables us to come into contact with the outer world.
All this is already prepared in the metabolic system. But the metabolism as a human system is so placed into the whole cosmos that it could not exist for itself alone. Isolated in itself the digestive system could not exist. This is why it was the third system to have its rudiments implanted in man. The rudiments of the system of nerves and senses took form in the epoch of old Saturn; the second system, the rhythmic system, was laid down during the epoch of old Sun. Only after these other systems had come into being could the metabolic system be produced, because in and for itself this system could not exist. The metabolic system, if at first we omit its involuntary movements, is intended, in its cosmic connection, to provide for human nutrition. But these processes of nutrition cannot function independently. Digestion is necessary to man, but in and for itself it cannot exist. For if we study the human metabolic system in isolation — in the forthcoming lectures you will again see how necessary it is for the whole human organism — we find it constantly imbued with every kind of tendency towards illness. And the origin of internal illnesses — not those caused by external injury — must always be looked for in the metabolic system. Anyone, therefore, who wishes to put forward a rational observation of illness must start with the metabolic system; and in regard to every metabolic phenomenon he must really ask: Now where did you come from? When we consider all the phenomena, from the taking of food into the mouth, from the way the food is worked upon so that we transform certain substances into starch, sugar and so on, when we take the enveloping action of ptyalin in the mouth, when we go further and take the pepsin process in the stomach, and the assimilation of the products in digestion, following all these as far as their passage into the lymphatic vessels and into the blood — then we realize that each single one of these processes must be investigated — and their number is legion. The mingling of the products of digestion with the secretions of the pancreatic glands, the further mingling of these substances with the secretions from the gall-bladder, and so on — to each single process the question must be put: What is it that you really want? And it will answer: If I am alone I am a process which always makes man ill. No digestive process in human nature may be carried to its conclusion, for every digestive process which is carried to its conclusion makes man ill. The human constitution is only healthy when the metabolic processes are checked at a certain stage.
It might at first seem a folly in world-organization that something should begin in man which, if not checked halfway, would make him ill; but in the next lectures we shall learn to recognize this as something of the utmost wisdom. For the time being, however, let us study the actual facts, and discover what the answer of the separate digestive processes would be if we were to question their inner nature. We are always on the way to making our whole organism ill. Every digestive process, if unchecked, causes illness in the organism. If, therefore, digestion is to exist at all in man, other processes must exist whose germinal beginnings date from earlier times. These are the processes which are present in circulation, the circulatory processes. The circulation continually produces the processes of healing. So that we may really describe the human being by saying: During the old Moon evolution man was born as patient, and the doctor within him was already sent in advance during the epoch of old Sun. In regard to his own organism man was already born as doctor during the evolution of old Sun. It shows great foresight on the part of world-evolution that the doctor came into existence before the patient, for the patient in man himself was only added on old Moon. And if we are to describe man rightly, we must work backwards from the digestive to the circulatory processes, including, of course, all those impulses which underlie the circulatory system. Speaking broadly one substance induces quicker, another substance slower circulation. We have also quite small circulatory processes within us. Take any mineral substance, gold, let us say, or copper. Every such substance when induced into man — by the mouth, by injection, or in any other way — is endowed with the power of causing something to be formed or altered in the circulation, so as to work in a curative way, and so on. And what one must know, in order to gain insight into the essential healing processes in man, is what each single substance in his world-environment releases in man through alterations in his circulation. Thus one may say that circulation is a continual process of healing.
You can if you wish work this out for yourselves. Recall how I told you that on an average man draws eighteen breaths a minute. Here we find a remarkably regular agreement with the cosmos, for the number of breaths man draws in a day equals the number of circulatory rhythms carried out by the sun in its course through the solar year. As regards its rising, point at the vernal equinox the sun traverses the entire zodiac in the course of 25,920 years. In middle life man draws on an average 25,920 breaths a day. The pulse-beats are four times as many. The other circulation, the circulation which is concentrated more inwardly, is influenced by the digestion. Breath-circulation brings man into outer intercourse with the surrounding world, into reciprocal relationship with it. This breath-rhythm must continually restrain the rhythm of blood-circulation, so that it remains in its proportion of one to four, otherwise man would come into a quite irregular rhythm, not reaching the number 103,680. This corresponds to nothing in the cosmos; it would completely sever man and cosmos. His digestion tears him out of the cosmos, estranges him from the cosmos; the rhythm of his breathing continually pulls him back into it. In this holding the rhythm of circulation in control by the rhythm of breathing, you see the primal healing process which is continually at work in man. In a certain delicate way, in the case of every internal cure, we must assist the breathing process, continued as it is into the whole body, and this in such a manner that everywhere in the human being the process of circulation is held in control, is brought back into the general relationships of the cosmos.
Thus we may say: We pass over from nutrition to healing inasmuch as from below upwards man always has the tendency to become ill, and therefore in his central organism, in his organism of circulation, he must continually develop the tendency to remain well. And in that in our central organism healing impulses continually arise, they leave something behind in the head-nerve-senses system. Thus we are brought to the third part of our organism, the system of nerves and senses.
What kind of forces do we find in the nerve-senses system? We find those forces which, so to speak, the doctor in us leaves behind. On the one hand he works down into the metabolism in a health-giving way. But through this curative working upon the digestive process he actually does something which affects the whole cosmos. What I am saying is nothing fantastic, but an absolute reality. This process, which continually works downwards in us in a healing way, calls forth a feeling of pleasure in the higher hierarchies. It constitutes the joy of the higher hierarchies in the earthly world. They look down and continually feel the uprising of illness out of what streams upwards in man from the earthly, from what remains of the earthly attributes of the substances. And they also see how the forces which work away from the earthly, the forces which lie in the encircling air, and the like, are continually active as processes of healing. This arouses satisfaction in the higher hierarchies.
And now try to gain an idea of what may be studied in regard to that cosmic body which, as the spiritual object most deserving of study, is situated at the outer boundary of our planetary system. In the centre of this body we find those forces concealed which, if you think of them as concentrated upon the earth, are the illness inducing forces, and surrounding this same body the encircling forces reveal themselves as the forces which bring about healing. Anyone sensitive to such things will see encircling health in the rings of Saturn, and this in a more distinct way than it can be perceived in what surrounds the earth, because there we stand in the midst of it. A Saturn ring is something essentially different from what astronomers have to say about it. It is encircling health, where-as the inner part of Saturn develops illness; it is the illness-inducing element seen in its most radical concentration.
Thus we see in Saturn, which is situated at the outer-most boundary of our planetary system, the very same process at work which we continually bear within ourselves through our digestive and circulatory organism. But we also find, when we look at all this, that our spiritual gaze is directed further to the worlds of the first and second hierarchy, to the beings of the second hierarchy, Kyriotetes, Exusiai, Dynamis, and to the beings of the first hierarchy, Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. If with our spiritual eye we are attentive to Saturn and its ring, we shall be led to these upper hierarchies, as they survey with satisfaction the illness-inducing and health-restoring processes.
And this satisfaction is in itself a force in the universe. It streams through our system of nerves and senses and forms within it the forces of the spiritual evolution of mankind. These are the forces which blossom forth, as it were, from the healing-process which is continually at work in man. Thus in the third place we have the forces of spiritual evolution.
And if we now describe man in the epochs of Saturn, Sun and Moon, we must say: In the first place man is born out of the cosmos as spirit, he then develops within himself the “healer”, and thus enables himself to deal with the cosmic “patient”. And through the inter-working of all these activities man came into being upon the earth possessed of full freedom of movement.
Every single branch of human knowledge must in a certain sense be inspired by what I have said here. Let us suppose that someone wishes to found a system of healing, a really rational system of healing. What would this have to contain? In the first place, naturally, the processes of healing. But these healing-processes, from where must they take their start? They must take their start from the metabolic processes; and everything else can at most be supposition — we shall have something further to say about this later — anatomy too, even in a delicate form, can at most be a starting point, because it is concerned with the formed and solid. This immediately expresses the human element. But it is the digestive processes which must be studied in the first place by a rational system of medicine, and this in such a way that one always perceives in them tendencies leading towards the inducement of illness. A modern system of medicine must always take the metabolic system, that is to say the normal processes of digestion, as its point of departure; and starting from there it must deduce how internal illnesses, in the widest sense, can arise from the metabolism. Then, through an intimate knowledge of the action of the rhythmic processes, the true nature of therapy must be discovered. A modern system of medicine must, therefore, be founded on a study of the metabolic processes, and then, from this initial study, the transition must be made to everything which can make its appearance in the sphere of the rhythmic processes in man. Further, a kind of crowning of the whole will be attained in that one shows how a sound development of man's spiritual possibilities presupposes a knowledge of what arises from the healing forces. Today you will find no true pedagogy — no art, that is to say, of the sound development of man's spiritual nature — if you do not take your start from the processes of healing; for these healing processes are nothing other than applying to the central nature of the human being what must already be made use of in pure thinking when developing the spiritual processes of man.
The artist in education must work in a spiritual way with the forces which, whether concentrated in the physical or concentrated in the etheric, are processes of healing. Whatever I may do to a child in the sphere of education is a process which has something spiritual as its basis. If I transpose this process, so that what was an activity in the spirit I now carry out in such a way that I make use of some kind of substance or physical process, then this process or substance becomes a remedy. So that it may really be said that medicine is the treatment of man in the spiritual sphere metamorphosed downwards into the sphere of the material. If you call to mind the way in which I dealt with things in the teachers' course held some time back for English visitors, [* See Lectures to Teachers, a report by Albert Steffen.] you will see how I everywhere drew attention to the fact that the work of the teacher is the beginning of a kind of general therapy, and I showed how this or that set of educational ideas can be the initial cause of unhealthy conditions in the excretory processes or of digestive irregularities in later life. So that what the teacher does, projected downwards, gives us therapy. And the antithesis of this therapy — what works from below upwards — this is brought about by the process of digestion.
Here you also see why a system of medicine today must be born out of a knowledge of man as a whole. And this is possible. Many people feel it. But nothing can really be achieved until such a system of medicine is actually developed. Today this must be counted among the most urgent of necessities. If you look at modern text-books of medicine, you will see that, with the rarest exceptions, they do not take their start from the metabolic system. But this must be the point of departure, otherwise one does not learn to know the real nature of illness.
You see, the whole matter proceeds in such a way that the processes of human nutrition can pass over into processes of healing, these again into spiritual processes; and, working backwards, spiritual processes can pass over into healing processes. If, on the other hand, spiritual processes are the direct cause of digestive disturbances, these spiritual processes must again enter into a condition in which they must be cured by the central system of man. All these things pass one into the other in man, and the whole human organization is an example of continual and wonderful metamorphosis. Take, for example, the processes inherent in the whole marvelous circulation of the human blood. What kind of processes are these?
To begin with, separating it entirely from the rest of the organism, let us gain an idea of the human blood, how it flows through the veins; and let us consider the human form, the system of veins, the muscular system in its connection with the bony system, all the solid structure of the body and what flows through it as fluid. And first let us confine ourselves in the fluid condition to the blood. There are, of course, other fluids present, but let us confine ourselves to the blood. Now what are the processes which are continually happening in this streaming fluidity? These processes in the flowing blood can seize hold, in one direction or another, on the walls of the organs, on the bony structure, on anything which can take on a solid formation in man: then what belongs to the blood enters into the walls of the vessels, into the muscles, into one or another of the bones, or into any containing organ. What does it become there? It becomes the impulse towards inflammatory conditions.
What we find here or there as impulses towards inflammatory conditions is continually to be found as normal processes in the flowing blood. What appears as inflammation is something in the wrong place; that is to say processes which must always be present in the fluid blood have trespassed into the solid structure. A perfectly healthy normal process, displaced, transferred to another situation where it does not belong, becomes a process which induces illness. And certain illnesses of the nervous system consist just in this, that the nervous system, which in its whole organization is the polar opposite of the blood-system, is subjected to invasion by processes which are normal in the blood. If these processes which are normal in the blood-channels invade the paths of the nerves even in the slightest degree, then the nerves are attacked by inflammation in its initial stages; and this can develop into the most diverse forms of illness in the nervous system.
I mentioned that the processes in the blood are entirely different from those in the nerves; they are the antithesis of each other. In the blood-processes the urge is towards the phosphorizing element. When these phosphorizing processes take hold of what encloses or is adjacent to the blood, they lead to inflammatory conditions. But if the processes in the paths of the nerves themselves deviate into the adjacent organs and even into the blood, then impulses towards every kind of swelling arise in man. When these processes are carried over into the blood so that they affect the other organs in an unhealthy way, the formation of swellings or tumours makes its appearance. Every swelling or tumour is a metamorphosed nerve-process wrongly situated in the human organism.
What has its course in the nerve must remain in the nerve, and what has its course in the blood must remain in the blood. If what belongs in the blood trespasses into what is adjacent to it, inflammatory conditions arise. When what belongs in the nerve trespasses into what is adjacent to it, all kinds of formations arise which can be grouped together under the designation of swelling-formations. The aim must be to establish the correct rhythm between the processes in the nervous system and the processes in the system of the blood.
Not only have we in general the rhythm of breathing contrasted with the rhythm of the blood, but we have delicate processes in the circulation of the blood, which, when they depart from the blood, become the causes of inflammation. These delicate processes must also enter into a certain rhythmic connection with what is proceeding in the adjacent nerves, just as breathing must stand in a certain connection with the circulation of the blood. And the moment something is disturbed between blood-rhythm and nerve-rhythm it must once more be brought into adjustment.
Here again, you see we come into the domain of therapy, of healing. All this serves to show you how everything must be present in man, how above all an element of illness must be present so that in another situation it may become an element of health; it has only been brought into the wrong situation through an incorrect process. For if it were not there at all man could not exist. Man could not exist if he were unable to get inflammations, for the inflammation-inducing forces must continually be present in the blood. This was my meaning when I often said that everything one gains in the way of knowledge must be won from a real knowledge of man. Here you see the reasons why an education carried out in an up-in-the-air, abstract fashion is really something absurd. Education must in fact be so carried out that everywhere the start is taken from certain pathological processes in man, and from the possibility of curing them.
If one understands a brain-illness and the means by which brain-illness may be cured, then, to put things bluntly — from a certain point of view this is of course also a subtle matter, but I put it “bluntly” because we are dealing with a physical process — then, in the treatment of the brain, we are concerned precisely with what must be applied in the art of education. It is therefore the case that, if we ever came actually to founding a training college for teachers we should have to introduce the pathological-therapeutical aspect to the teachers, and here their thinking should be schooled by means of more perceptible things, because these are more rooted in the material, so preparing them to grasp things concerned with actual education. On the other hand, nothing is of greater assistance in therapy, particularly in the treatment of internal illnesses, than to know the effect produced by the way in which this or that aspect of the art of education is handled. For if one finds the bridge from this to the material, then, from the very way in which one should act in education, the remedy is also to be found.
If, for example, one discovers the right educational means of treating certain lethargic conditions in the children, arising from certain disturbances in the metabolic system, one develops quite remarkable inner faculties. It is necessary, of course, really to immerse oneself in the education, and not have such an external approach that, when school is over, one prefers to spend all the evening in a convivial club and forget all about what happens in the classroom. From the very way one handles a lethargic child one gains the faculty to perceive the whole working of the head-processes, and their relation to the processes of the abdomen. And further, when in mineralogy one studies the processes which take place in copper when it gives rise to this or that formation in the earth, then what copper does in becoming one or another kind of copper ore makes one say to oneself: The copper-force in the earth actually does what you as teacher do with a boy or a girl! In what is accomplished by copper one sees an image of what one carries out oneself. And it is extraordinarily fascinating for a teacher to develop an instinctive, an intuitive clarity of feeling in regard to what he himself does, and then to have the delight of going out into nature in order to see what nature accomplishes in the way of education on an immense scale. There he may see, for example, how, wherever harmful results might ensue from some lime-process, a copper-process is introduced into it. Yes, in these copper-processes, in these ore-forming processes, which have their place within the other processes of the earth, remedial effects are continually present. If somewhere or other one finds pyrite-ores, or the like, it is fascinating to be able to say: Yes, this is exactly the same as when a patient receives the right treatment. But here the treatment is accomplished by the spirits of nature, from the hierarchies down to those elemental spirits about which I have spoken to you, in their capacity as healers of all the destructive, illness-inducing processes which can appear in life. This is in fact nothing more than reading from nature. For if one sees what is happening outside, if one accepts this or that substance as a remedy or prepares it as such, one has only to ask oneself: Where do the foodstuffs grow? Where does this or that metal appear in the veins of the earth? Study their environment and you will always find that, wherever some form of metal appears here or there, which has been dealt with by nature in one or another way, a remedial process is at work within it. Only appropriate this and continue it on into the human organism and you will create a therapy which nature has demonstrated to you in the world outside.
Yes, all the goings-on of the world are in reality a true education in all questions of nutrition, of healing, of the spiritual; for in nature illness is continually being induced and is continually being cured. They are there outside, the great cosmic processes of healing. We must only apply them to man. This is the wonderful inter-working of the macrocosm with the microcosm. What I have said to many of you in one context or another is profoundly true:
You can, however, apply this to everything. Wouldst thou heal man, look into the world on every side, see how on every side the world evolves processes of healing. Wouldst thou know the secrets of the world in the processes of illness and healing, look down into the depths of human nature. You can apply this to every aspect of man's being, but you must direct your gaze outwards to the great world of nature and see man in a living relationship with this great world.
People today have accustomed themselves to something different. They depart as far from nature as possible. They do something which shuts their own sight off from nature, for what they wish to examine they lay beneath a glass on a little stand — the eye does not look out into nature, but looks into the glass. Sight itself is cut off from nature. They call this a microscope. In certain connections it might as well be called a nulloscope, for it shuts one off from the great world of nature. People do not know, when something under the glass is magnified, that for spiritual knowledge it is exactly as though the same process were to take place in nature herself. For only think, when you take some minute particle from the human being for purposes of observation under a microscope, what you then do with this minute fragment is the same as if you were to stretch the man himself and tear him apart. You would be an even worse monster than Procrustes if you were to wrench man and tear him asunder in order to enlarge him as that minute particle is enlarged under the microscope. But do you believe that you would still have the person before you? This would naturally be out of the question. Just as little have you the reality there under the microscope. The truth which has been magnified is no longer the truth; it is an illusory image. We must not depart from nature and imprison our own sight. For other purposes, this can of course be useful; but for a true knowledge of man it is immensely misleading.
Knowledge of man in the true sense must be sought in the way we have indicated. Starting from the processes of nutrition, it must be followed through the processes of healing to the processes of human and world education in the widest sense. Or we can put it thus: from nutrition, through healing, to civilization and culture. For all that is concentrated in the nourishment of man is the groundwork, as it were, of his physical processes; the healing processes are derived from what continually encircles man, they are concentrated in the rhythmic system; and what comes from above is concentrated in man in the processes of the nerves and senses. Thus world-structure is erected on three levels.
This is what I wished to give you in the first place as a kind of foundation. We can now build further upon it. We shall see how, from such points of departure, we can actually progress to the business of practical affairs; and from thence we can lead over to a knowledge of the hierarchies.
|GA 243. True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation — Form and Substantiality of the Mineral Kingdom in Relation to the Levels of Consciousness in Man|
|When we meditate on other kinds of metals our spiritual approach is different. We can follow the same procedure with copper as we have done with iron, tin and lead. When we meditate on the metallic nature of copper, we become, as it were, merged with, one with copper; our whole soul is permeated with copper, with its colour and consistency, its curiously ribbed surface. In brief, we become wholly identified with our psychic response to the metallity of copper. Then we do not experience a gradual transition towards insensibility, but rather the reverse. We have the sensation that something floods our whole inner being; our response grows more sensitive. We have a definite impression that when we meditate on copper it pervades our whole being. It radiates from the centre below the heart and is diffused over the whole body. It is as though we had a second body, a second man within us. We have a sensation of inner pressure.|
|GA 243. True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation — Form and Substantiality of the Mineral Kingdom in Relation to the Levels of Consciousness in Man|
[* Metallität is a coined word not in usage. The Romanic suffix — ität (Latin: — itatem; French: — ite) is common to abstract nouns. The approximate meaning is metallic quality, metal-ness. (Note by translator.)]
Yesterday I attempted to give some idea of the inner experiences of the soul when, through spiritual training and meditation, man develops higher levels of consciousness. At the same time I indicated that the chaotic, uncoordinated experiences of dream life during sleep, typical of normal consciousness, can be transformed into the fully conscious, concrete experiences of waking life. We can thus attain a level of consciousness which, to some extent, is sequential to normal consciousness. We then perceive, for example, the animal kingdom in its totality which is in touch with a higher world of soul, the astral plane. Then I tried to show how the plant-cover appears in its totality when, in full waking consciousness that is divested of sensory impressions, we attain to the world of stars with this second level of consciousness and there for the first time learn the truth about the plant-cover of the Earth. We then realize that the plants we see growing out of the Earth are a reflected image of that majesty and grandeur which sparkle out amongst the world of stars like the dewdrops upon the plants. Indeed, the firmament and all that therein is, takes on substantial reality, form, colour and even resonance when we apprehend it with this higher consciousness that is divested of sensory impressions. Then we can look back upon the Earth and perceive that the world of plants in reality is a reflected image of cosmic beings, of cosmic deeds.
I should like to draw your attention to a peculiar phenomenon when we observe the world of stars on the one hand and the world of plants on the other. I should like to describe these things entirely from the point of view of inner experience, exactly as they occur, as they are revealed to direct spiritual experience and investigation. My description will not be supported by any tradition, literary or otherwise. But first of all I should like to point out a peculiarity that is familiar to anyone who explores the spiritual in the way I have described.
Let us visualize the following picture: above us is the world of stars, below is the Earth. The point from which we start our enquiry we call our point of observation. At the second level of consciousness, a consciousness that sees the world of the stars and of plants in the manner already described, we are able to confirm that the archetypal forms are present in the Cosmos, that they are mirrored in the Earth, not as reflected images but in the form of living plants. These plants do not appear as lifeless, unreal, nebulous images, but as concrete reflections created by the Earth. One feels that the Earth must be there to act as a mirror, so that the plant-beings in the Cosmos can spring up out of this terrestrial mirror.
Without the solid Earth there could be no plants. And just as a mirror intercepts the light and acts as resistance — for otherwise it could not reflect — so the Earth must act as a reflecting medium in order that the plants may come into being.
We can now pursue the matter further. Having developed this second level of consciousness, a waking consciousness independent of sensory impressions, we can take the next step towards the development of an inner strength of soul, of the spirit of love towards all created things and all living beings. The acquisition of these new powers is seldom recognized as a positive force for knowledge. If, after entering into this realm that is so differently constituted, where the Cosmos no longer appears bright with stars but is the abode of spiritual beings, this power of love fills our heart and soul, if, after embarking, so to speak, on the spiritual ocean of the universe, we can preserve our spiritual, psychic and physical identity and extend the infinite power of love and devotion to all beings, then we progressively perfect our insight and understanding. We then develop the capacity to perceive clairvoyantly not only the animal and plant kingdoms, but also the mineral kingdom and especially that part of the mineral kingdom which is crystalline in structure. For those who wish to investigate the higher worlds, mineral crystals offer an excellent field for observation and study.
When we are fully acquainted with the animal and plant kingdoms we are then in a position to investigate the mineral-crystal world. As on the previous occasion, we feel impelled to turn our attention from the mineral kingdom on Earth to the contemplation of the Cosmos. And again we find there a living reality, the archetypes akin to those of the plant kingdom. But the picture now presented to us is totally different. We become aware of a living reality in the Cosmos; the mineral-crystal world that we see on Earth is the creation of an active, spiritual principle in the Cosmos. In its progressive descent to the Earth, it is not reflected in the Earth or by means of the Earth. That is the crucial point. When we raise our consciousness from contemplation of the mineral-crystal kingdom to the Cosmos and look back to Earth again, the Earth no longer acts as a mirror; one has the impression that the Earth has vanished from our sight. We cannot, however, say, as we said of the plants, that the Earth below us reflects the higher beings. On the contrary, the Earth does not act as a reflecting medium; it has seemingly vanished. When we have meditated upon the spiritual vista evoked by the mineral-crystal kingdom, when we direct our spiritual eye from cosmic space to the Earth, we appear to be suspended over a terrifying abyss, over a void. We must remain in a waiting attitude. We must keep a firm hand on ourselves, we must preserve our presence of mind. The period of waiting should not be too prolonged, otherwise our fear is magnified; we are terrified because there is no ground under our feet. This sensation, which is wholly foreign to us, reduces us to a state of panic if we do not preserve our self-control, the necessary presence of mind which enables us to take active steps to see beyond this void. For this reason we must look beyond the Earth which is no longer present to our spiritual vision. Then we are obliged to contemplate, not only that aspect of the mineral kingdom which is associated with the Cosmos, but also its relationship to the total environment. The Earth ceases to exist for us. We must see the mineral kingdom as a total whole.
We then experience a current of cosmic energy from below, in contrast to the cosmic energy of the plants which streams down from above. We see everywhere currents and counter-currents, converging currents of cosmic energy from all directions. In the case of the plants this stream of cosmic energy flows down from above, the Earth offers resistance and the plants grow up out of the Earth. In the case of the mineral kingdom we are aware that through the free interplay of these currents from the cosmic All, the mineral kingdom is created. In the case of the mineral-crystal kingdom nothing is reflected back from the Earth. Everything is mirrored in its own element.
If you discover a quartz crystal in the mountains, it is usually found in a vertical position. Its base is embedded in the rock. This is accounted for by the intervention of terrestrial, Ahrimanic forces which act as a disruptive factor. In reality, the quartz is formed by the pressure of a spiritual element from all sides; there is an interplay of reflecting facets and you see the crystal free in cosmic space. Each single crystal whose every facet is perfectly fashioned, is a little world unto itself.
Now there are many types of crystal formation — cubes, octahedrons, tetrahedrons, rhomboids, dodekahedrons, monoklinics, triklinics, every conceivable kind of structure in fact. When we examine them, we note how the currents of cosmic energy converge and interact to form the quartz crystal, a hexagonal prism terminating in a hexagonal pyramid, or a salt crystal possibly in the shape of a cube, or a pyrites crystal in the shape of a dodekahedron. Each of these crystals is formed in the way I have described. And there are as many different cosmic forces, indeed, as many worlds in cosmic space as there are crystals in the Earth. We begin to have insight into an infinitude of worlds.
As we look at the salt crystal, we realize that a spiritual principle is active in the universe. The salt crystal is a manifestation of that spiritual reality which permeates the whole universe; it is a world unto itself. Then, from an examination of the dodekahedron, we discover that there exists in the universe something that permeates the world of space; the crystal is the impress, the manifestation of a whole world. We are gazing on countless beings, each of which is a world unto itself. As human beings here on Earth, we conclude that the Earth-sphere is the focal point of the activities of many worlds. In all that we think and do here on Earth are reflected the thoughts and deeds of a wide diversity of beings. The infinite variety of crystal forms reveals the multitude of beings whose activities find consummation in the mathematical-spatial forms of the crystals. In the crystals we recognize the presence of the Gods. As an expression of reverence, of adoration even towards the universe, it is far more important to allow the sublime secrets of this universe to possess our souls than to gather theoretical knowledge on a purely intellectual basis.
Anthroposophy should lead to this feeling of at-one-ment with the universe. Through Anthroposophy man shall be able to perceive in every crystal the weaving and working of a divine Being. Then cosmic knowledge and understanding begins to flood man's whole soul. The task of Anthroposophy is not to appeal to the intellectual faculty alone, but to enlighten the whole man and show his total involvement in the universe and to inspire him with reverence and devotion towards it. Every object and every event in the world shall be invested with a spirit of selfless service proceeding from the heart and soul of man. And this selfless service will be rewarded by knowledge and understanding.
When we are in contact with the cosmic All and see the emergence of the crystals out of the manifestations of the crystal-mineral kingdom, we feel a sense of satisfaction. But very soon that state of anxiety and fear which I have already mentioned, returns again. Before discovering the divinely ordered world of crystals, we had been filled with fear. When we are aware of that divinely inspired world, this feeling of uncertainty vanishes; but after a time a strange sensation overtakes us and the fear returns, the feeling that the whole process of crystal formation is unsubstantial and provides only partial support.
Let us take the example of the two kinds of crystal already mentioned, a salt crystal and a pyrite, a metal crystal. The pyrites gives the impression that it can provide us with solid support, that it is firm and durable. The salt crystal, on the other hand, appears to offer no support; it seems unsubstantial and we feel as if we might fall through it.
In brief then: in relation to certain forms, the fear that once possessed us, the fear that we are suspended over an abyss because the Earth has become a void, has not finally been overcome. This sensation of fear has definite moral implications. When we feel a recurrence of this fear, then, at that moment, we become aware, not only of all our past sins, but of those of which we are potentially capable.
All this acts upon us like a leaden weight that drags us down and threatens to plunge us into the abyss which the mineral crystals open up before us and which is ready to engulf us. At this point we must be prepared for an additional experience. We realize that the sum of our experiences demands of us courage and we confidently proclaim: I am firmly anchored, I cannot drift from my moorings; the centre of gravity of my own being now lies within myself.
Never in the whole course of life do we need more confidence, more moral courage than at the moment when, confronted with the crystal world, the leaden weight of egotism — and egotism is always a sin — weighs upon the soul. That transparent void over which we are suspended now holds a terrible warning for us. If we stand firm and remain self-reliant, we can say: a spark of the divine is within me; I cannot perish, for I partake of the divine essence. If this becomes a concrete experience and not mere theoretical belief, then we have the courage to be self-sufficient, to stand on our own feet. We are now ready and determined to press on further.
We now learn something further about the mineral kingdom. Hitherto we have heard about the crystal being of the minerals. We have already discussed their external form; now we become aware of their composition and structure, their substantiality and metallity. And we discover how certain basic metals in their different ways act as a stabilizing factor. For the first time we begin to understand how man is related to the Cosmos. We learn of the different characteristics of the metals, of the substantiality of the mineral being and we really begin to feel in ourselves that centre of gravity which I have just mentioned.
In what I am about to say I must perforce use a terminology that describes the material world; it should not be accepted in its literal meaning only. When we speak of the heart or head, the commonsense view conjures up a picture of a physical heart or head. But they are, of course, spiritual in origin. And so when we look at man in his totality, as an entity consisting of body, soul and spirit, we have the clear impression that his centre of gravity lies in the heart. This centre guards him against extremes, prevents him from being the plaything of external circumstances and lends him stability. If we retain that courageous spirit which I have just mentioned, we shall ultimately find ourselves firmly anchored in the universe.
When a person loses consciousness he is not firmly anchored. If he suffers a psychic shock — for under these conditions he is more susceptible to pain than normally and after all, pain is an intensification of inner feeling — then he is not in a normal state of consciousness. Under conditions of pain normal consciousness is expelled. Between birth and death man lives in a kind of intermediate state of consciousness. This may well serve for the normal purposes of daily life. But if this consciousness becomes too weak, too tenuous, he loses consciousness. If it becomes too dense, too concentrated, pain ensues. The loss of consciousness in a state of swoon, and the state of tension under the influence of pain, are polarities which illustrate the aberrations of consciousness. This describes exactly our reactions to the world of mineral crystals before we become aware of their substantiality — on the one hand, the feeling that in a state of swoon we might at any moment be dissolved in the universe, and on the other hand that under the influence of pain we might collapse.
Then we feel that everything that provides stability is centred in the cardiac region. And if we have developed our consciousness to the level already indicated, we then perceive that everything that sustains our ordinary waking consciousness, all that keeps it ‘normal,’ if I may use this somewhat crude expression, is gold, aurum, which is finely distributed over the Earth and works with greater immediacy upon the heart than upon any other organ.
Previously we became acquainted with the formation, the crystallization of minerals. We now become aware of their substantiality, of their metallity. We realize in what manner this metallic nature works upon man himself.
Outwardly we see the crystal formations of the metals in the mineral world. But we know inwardly that the forces of gold which are finely distributed over the Earth sustain our heart and maintain the normal consciousness of our daily life. And so we can say, gold works upon the heart centre of man. On the basis of this information we are now in a position to start our investigations. If, taking the metal gold as we know it, we concentrate upon its colour, its hardness and all aspects of its composition and structure and then transform the experience into inner reality, we find that gold is related to the heart. By concentrating on other metals, on iron and its properties, for example, we discover what effect iron has upon us. Gold has a harmonizing influence, it resolves tension and conflict and man is thereby restored to a state of inner equilibrium. If, after becoming familiar with all its aspects, we concentrate intently on iron, forgetting the entire universe and concentrating solely upon the metal itself, so that we become, as it were, inwardly merged with iron, become identified with iron, then we feel as if our consciousness were rising up from the regions of the heart. We are still fully conscious as we follow this consciousness as it ascends from the heart to the larynx. If we have carried out our spiritual exercises adequately, no harm can result; otherwise a slight feeling of faintness overtakes us. As our consciousness ascends we recognize this condition from the fact that we have developed an intense inner activity, a heightened consciousness. Then we gradually transpose ourselves into this ascending consciousness and contact the world where we see the group-soul of the animals. By concentrating on the metallity of iron we have now entered the astral world.
When we become acquainted with the form of the metals we reach the realm of the higher spiritual beings; when we become acquainted with their substantiality and metallity we enter the astral world, the world of souls. We feel our consciousness rising upward to the larynx and we emerge into a new sphere. We owe this shift of consciousness to our concentration upon iron and we feel that we are no longer the same person as before. If we attain this state in full, clear consciousness, we are sensible of having transcended our former self; we have entered into the etheric world. The Earth has vanished, it no longer holds any interest for us. We have ascended into the planetary spheres which, as it were, have become our abode. Thus we gradually withdraw from the body and become integrated into the universe. The path from gold to iron is the path leading into the universe.
After gold and iron we next concentrate upon tin, upon its metallity, its colour and substantiality, with the result that our consciousness becomes wholly identified with tin. We feel that our consciousness is now rising to still higher levels. But if we undertake this step without adequate preparation, we suffer a near total swoon, scarcely any sign of consciousness remains. If we have prepared ourselves in advance, we can hold ourselves in this state of diminished consciousness; but we feel that our consciousness is withdrawing still further from the body and ultimately reaches the region between the eyes. Though the vast expanse of the universe encompasses us, we are still within the realm of stars. The Earth, however, begins to appear as a distant star. And we conclude that we have left our body on Earth, that we have ascended into the Cosmos and share the life of the stars.
All this is by no means as simple as it sounds. What I have described to you, what we experience when we follow the path of Initiation, namely, that consciousness is situated in the larynx, the base of the skull or the forehead, is an indication that all these various states of consciousness are permanently present in man. All of you sitting here have within you these states of consciousness, but you are not aware of it. Why is this so? Now man is a complex being. If, at the moment when you were conscious of the whole laryngeal organization, you could dispense with your brain and sense organs, you would never be free of this slight subconscious feeling of faintness. And in effect this is so; it is simply overlaid by the ordinary heart consciousness, the gold consciousness. It is common to all of you, it is part of your human make-up. A part of you that shares this consciousness is situated in the stars and does not exist on Earth at all.
The tin consciousness lies further out in the Cosmos. It would be untrue to state that the Earth is your sole habitat. It is the heart that anchors your consciousness to the Earth. That which has its centre in the larynx is out in the Cosmos and, situated still further out, is that which has its centre in the forehead (tin). The iron consciousness embraces the Mars sphere, tin the Jupiter sphere. Only in the gold consciousness do you belong to the Earth. You are always interwoven with the universe, but the heart consciousness conceals this from you.
If you meditate on lead or some similar metal and again concentrate on its substantiality and metallity, you relinquish the body completely. You are left in no doubt that your physical body and etheric body are left behind on Earth. They appear strange and remote. They concern you as little as the stone concerns the rock on which it rests. Consciousness has left the body through the crown (the sagittal suture) of the head. Wherever we turn, a minute quantity, a tincture of lead is always to be found in the universe. This form of consciousness reaches far out into space; with the consciousness that is centred in the cranium man always remains in a state of complete insensibility.
Picture to yourselves the state of illusion in which man habitually lives. When he is sitting at his desk making up his accounts or writing articles he fondly imagines that he is thinking with his head. That is not the reality. It is not the head as such, but its physical aspect, that belongs to the Earth. The head consciousness extends from the larynx upwards far out into the universe. The universe reveals itself solely in the head centre. What determines your human condition between birth and death is the heart centre. Whether you write good or bad articles, whether your accounts mayor may not be to your neighbour's disadvantage — this is determined by the heart centre. It is pure illusion to imagine that man's head consciousness is confined to the Earth alone, for, in effect, it is in a permanent state of insensibility. And that is why it is also peculiarly subject to pain from which other organs are free. Let me take this point a little further. When, in our present state, we try to find the reasons for this situation we are continually threatened from the spirit with the annihilation of our intellectual consciousness, with a breakdown of the whole consciousness and a collapse into total insensibility.
Our picture of man is then as follows: in the larynx (iron) man develops the consciousness that reaches to the archetypes of the animal kingdom. It is the consciousness that belongs to the stars, but we are unaware of it in ordinary life. Higher still, in the region of the eyes (tin) is the consciousness of the archetypes of the plant kingdom and below are their reflected images. Crowning all is the centre of the lead consciousness which reaches to the Saturn sphere; our head centre is oblivious of the articles we write, they are the product of the heart centre. But the head is fully aware of the happenings in cosmic space. Our description of terrestrial events and activities proceeds from the heart; the head, meanwhile, can concentrate on the manner in which a divine being manifests himself in a pyrites, in a crystal of salt or of quartz.
When Initiate consciousness surveys the audience present here, it is evident that you are listening to what I am saying with your hearts, whilst your three higher levels of consciousness are out in the Cosmos. The Cosmos is the scene of activities of an order wholly different from those known to ordinary earthly consciousness. In the Cosmos, especially in what is enacted there and radiates far and wide, is woven for all of us the web of our destiny, our karma.
Thus we have gradually come to understand man through his relationship with the universe — how fundamentally he is associated with the external world, is continually under the threat of annihilation from without, of reduction to insensibility and is ultimately sustained by the heart.
When we meditate on other kinds of metals our spiritual approach is different. We can follow the same procedure with copper as we have done with iron, tin and lead. When we meditate on the metallic nature of copper, we become, as it were, merged with, one with copper; our whole soul is permeated with copper, with its colour and consistency, its curiously ribbed surface. In brief, we become wholly identified with our psychic response to the metallity of copper. Then we do not experience a gradual transition towards insensibility, but rather the reverse. We have the sensation that something floods our whole inner being; our response grows more sensitive. We have a definite impression that when we meditate on copper it pervades our whole being. It radiates from the centre below the heart and is diffused over the whole body.
It is as though we had a second body, a second man within us. We have a sensation of inner pressure. This sets up a slight pain that gradually increases. Everything seems to be in a state of inner tension.
When we invest this condition with Initiate consciousness we feel the presence of a second man within us. And this experience has important implications, for we can say to ourselves: the normal self, the legacy of birth and education the instrument through which we apprehend the world, accompanies us through life; but, through training and meditation, we awaken m this second man who now takes over his potentiality for perception. This second man is indeed a remarkable being. He does not possess separate eyes and ears, but is at one and the same time eyes and ears together. He resembles a sense organ with delicate powers of perception; he perceives things that we do not normally perceive. Our world becomes suddenly enriched.
Just as a snake can slough its skin, so it is possible for a short time — and much can be experienced in the course of a few seconds — for this second man, the “copper” man, to withdraw from the body and move about freely in the spiritual world. He can be separated from the body, though at the cost of increasing pain. When we are dissociated from the body we have a wider range of experiences. When we have reached the point when we can relinquish the body, we are then able to follow a person who has passed through the gate of death.
In that case all our terrestrial associations with the deceased are now ended. He has been buried or cremated, he has severed his connection with the Earth. When we relinquish the body with the second man, that is with clairvoyant perception, we are able to follow the journey of the soul after death. And then we learn that the soul in the first years or decades after death relives in reverse order its life on Earth. This is a fact that can be observed since we accompany the soul through the gate of death. The time taken to recapitulate our life experiences is a third of our life span. A man who dies at sixty will recapitulate his life experiences over twenty years approximately. We can follow his soul throughout this period. We can now learn much about man's experiences after death. In recapitulating his life the experiences are of a different order. Forgive me if I give a somewhat crude example. Let us assume that three years before your death you gave someone a box on the ear. You were annoyed with him and you exploded with anger; you caused him physical and moral pain. You derived a certain satisfaction from punishing him for having offended you. Now, when you recapitulate your life in reverse order and come upon this episode after a year, you do not experience your original outburst of anger, but the physical and moral pain of your victim. You live right into his feelings and experience psychically the box on the ear; you re-experience the pain you have inflicted. And the same applies to all actions. You experience them exactly as others who were involved experienced them. It is possible to follow man's soul after death through all such experiences.
The ancient Chaldeans who owed their cultural impulses to the Mystery teachings had deeper insight into these matters than the men of today. The remarkable fact is that in those days these ancient Chaldeans actually lived in the larynx consciousness, whereas we today live in the heart consciousness. The consciousness natural to them was a kind of iron consciousness; their experience was associated with the universe; for them the Earth did not have the solid consistency it holds for us. When, under particularly favourable conditions they lived, for example, in communion with the beings of Mars, there came a moment of time when beings came over from the Moon and brought with them other beings such as those we perceive with the consciousness of the second man. And thus indirectly the Chaldeans learned of sublime truths relating to life after death. They received their instruction in these truths from the universe without.
This is no longer necessary for us today when we can follow the dead without intermediary help. We can follow them as they live through their experiences in reverse sequence and each experience in reverse. And the strange thing is that when we are identified with this second man we find ourselves in a world that is infinitely more real than the phenomenal world. This present world and the sum of our experiences there appear unsubstantial in comparison with the solid, exacting world ~of reality which we have now entered.
In accompanying the dead in the way described we experience everything on a magnified scale; everything appears to be more intensely real. By comparison, the phenomenal world leaves a nebulous impression. To anyone who is associated with the world of the dead through Initiate consciousness, the physical world appears like a painted masquerade and an Initiate who, through meditation, has been closely associated with the dead in this way would say: You are all painted masks. There is no reality about you; you are simply painted masks sitting on your chairs.
True reality is only found beyond the realm of physical existence and this reality can be experienced here and now. Perhaps some of you can recall the figure of Strader in my Mystery Plays. This character is drawn from life. Strader is a poetic, non-realistic portrait of a personality who lived in the last third of the nineteenth century and on into the twentieth century. In real life he was a man who interested me deeply. He began life as a Capuchin novice, abandoned his vocation in favour of philosophy and stayed for a time in the monastery at Dornach. I recast him as Strader in the Mystery Plays. It was not a faithful portrait, but bore a certain likeness to him. In the fourth Mystery Play, you will remember, Strader dies. I had to let him die as I had exhausted all possibilities of developing his character further. Had I attempted to do so I could not have put pen to paper. He could not possibly have appeared again in the fifth Mystery Play. What is the reason for this?
In the meantime the real person who had changed his rôle from monk to philosopher had died. And because I was deeply interested in him I was able to follow his journey through the spiritual world. There the impression created by his personality was far more real. His life and activities on Earth ceased to evoke the same interest now that one could share his experiences in the life after death.
Then a strange thing happened. A few anthroposophists tumbled to the state of affairs. They discovered — the ingenuity of man knows no bounds — that Strader was to some extent a portrait of the historical person. In the course of their investigations they discovered his unpublished manuscripts and all sorts of interesting documents which he had left behind. They brought them to me expecting that I would be overjoyed at the discovery. I had not the slightest interest in them. What did interest me, on the other hand, was what he was doing after his death. This was far more real. In comparison with this, everything related to the external world which he had left behind, was of no significance.
People were surprised that I showed so little interest after they had been at such pains to gather information. I had no use for it then, nor do I need it now. The fact is that the reality of this world is illusory in comparison with that sublime reality which is revealed to us when we follow a soul beyond the gate of death. There the soul endures in a world that we can experience ourselves when we are identified with the second man who can relinquish the physical body, if only for a short time. But in that short space of time much can be experienced.
The existence of this world whose frontiers border directly on those of the phenomenal world is never in doubt. It is a world in which the deceased are living more abundantly. We apprehend them through this second man who relinquishes the physical body. We have suffered no loss of consciousness, rather is our consciousness more deeply interfused.
If we rise above the heart centre, our consciousness becomes more dimmed, we are near to a state of unconsciousness. If we descend below the heart centre our consciousness is intensified. We enter a world of reality, but we must learn to bear the pain and suffering this entails. But if we breach the walls surrounding this world with courage and determination our entry is assured.
We have now arrived at an understanding of the ordinary day consciousness, of a second consciousness in the larynx, a third in the region of the eyes, a fourth, that reaches out into the universe, at the crown of the head, and a fifth that is unrelated to the worlds of space and leads us back into the world of time. We travel through time; when we attain this fifth level of consciousness we share the same time-scale in reverse as the deceased. We have stepped out of space into time.
Everything therefore depends upon our ability to transpose ourselves into different states of consciousness which open up to us new worlds. On Earth man is the prisoner of a single, insulated world because he knows only one state of consciousness; in all other states of consciousness he is asleep. If we awaken them and develop them, we can experience the other worlds.
The secret of spiritual investigation is that through transmutation of his consciousness man transforms himself. We cannot penetrate into other worlds by adopting the orthodox methods of research and investigation; we must undergo metamorphosis, transform our consciousness into new and different forms.
|GA 312. Spiritual Science and Medicine — Lecture VI|
|Moreover, the conception I have given leaves, as you will perceive, ample room for other substances than the six most distinctive metals (lead, tin, iron, copper, quicksilver and silver) to come into being through the combination of planetary forces. This joint action of planetary forces means that various other planetary influences combine with the typical ones which we indicated.|
|The ancients believed that lead was formed in the manner described above, but lead — like gold or copper — contains all three principles, salt, mercury and phosphorus. So, in order that we may be able to treat man with one or all of these, we must be able to extract or separate it in some way, from the substances with which it is united.|
|In the opinion of these physicians, the specific action of the remedies they obtained depended on the matrix from which they had been extracted. What was obtained from lead acted differently from what was obtained from copper, for example. They laid most stress on origin: salt derived from lead was essentially different from salt derived from copper. So that when they spoke of salt, they knew that in it they had something common to all salts.|
|GA 312. Spiritual Science and Medicine — Lecture VI|
I am somewhat anxious about what I have to say today, for if I could spare three months in which to develop the aspects of my subject, it could not easily be dismissed as fantasy. But I must offer you a mere cursory introduction, within the limits of an hour, in order to make the following special problems of healing quite clear. Therefore much will seem without foundation. Nevertheless I will try to show in the presentation of the subject, that these matters are indeed well-founded — even better-founded than those on which the natural science of today has been built.
Let us first consider the formative process of plants as such, in its relationship to the cosmos. We have already pointed out that in man the opposite process to that of plant formation is active in a functional sense. Therefore, in order to find the direct correspondence in man, we must at least indicate in outline the formative process of plants As is apparent, there are two distinct and quite opposite tendencies in this process. One tendency is earthwards, and I have already suggested that in trees the main stem forms a sort of excrescence of the earth, so that the flowers and leaves are rooted in the trunk, just as herbs and plants of lower types are rooted in the earth. There is this tendency of the plant towards the earth; but on the other hand, the plant has an impulse upwards, away from the earth. The plant strives to escape from the earth, not merely mechanically by virtue of a force opposed to the pull of gravity but also in its whole formative process, internal as well. The processes in the flower become different from those in the root; they become far more dependent on extra-terrestrial or extra-telluric forces than the root. This dependence of the flower formation upon forces originating outside the earth must first be considered and we shall find that the same forces utilised by the plant to initiate the formation of flower and seed are also necessary to the human hypogastrium, because of the functional reversal of the plant process in man. They are utilised through the abdomen as well as in all functions of evacuation secretion and the physical base of sex. So if we examine the complementary relationship of man and the plant, we find special correspondences to the extra-telluric as well as to the telluric.
Please notice here that what I maintain has not been derived from the medical works of the past, but is based entirely on contemporary spiritual-scientific research. I only try to use sometimes the terms of the old literature of medicine, as modern literature contains no suitable vocabulary. But it would be a complete mistake to suppose that any item of my course here is simply derived from archaic sources.
Observe the growth of the plant as it rises upwards out of the earth. You must take note of the spiral sequence in the actual formation of the leaves and of the flower. You might say that the formative forces follow a spiral course around the central stalk. This spiral course cannot be explained by internal forces of tension in the plant. No; its origin is to be sought in the influence that works from the extra-telluric sphere, and chiefly in the influence of the sun's apparent path through the heavens. (Let us say “apparent,” for the respective motions of earth and sun can only be taken relatively.) There are indeed points of view better than the mathematics of Galileo, from which to study the paths of the heavenly bodies; they trace themselves in the sequence of formative processes in the plant. For what the stars do is faithfully copied by the plant.
It would be quite mistaken, however, to reckon only with the vertical upward impulse in plants, that depends upon the sun. The stars co-operate in a resultant with movements caused by the sun. If the sun's action were the sole operating force, it would take complete possession, so to speak, and the plant would be drawn upwards into the infinite. (See Diagram 9). The solar force is, however, counteracted to some degree by that of the outer planets, in their spiral courses. For planets as a matter of fact, do not move in an ellipse; their orbits are spiral. It is time today that the whole Copernican system was re-examined and superseded by another. The so-called outer planets are Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. (Uranus and Neptune are only members of the solar system in an astronomical sense; they do not really belong to it by origin; they are foreign bodies that have become attracted and attached to our system. They are guests, invited to our planetary system, and we are right to omit them.) The forces of the superior planets deflect the plant's upward tendency, so as to bank up the formative forces which cause the formation of flower and seed. So if you consider the plant's upward development, from the region of formation of the foliage, you must ascribe it to the combined action of of the Sun's influence and that of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
There are not only these two elements in co-operation. Marshalled against them are the influences from the Moon and the so-called inferior planets, Mercury, and Venus. The Moon, Mercury and Venus cause the earthward, downward tendency in the plant, which manifests itself most characteristically in the formation of the root. Thus all that seems essentially earthy is really a joint product of the action of the Moon, and that of the inferior planets. So I would say that the plant expresses and bears the imprint of our whole planetary system. Until we know this, and learn also how to recognise the planetary manifestations in man as well we cannot thoroughly understand the relationship between the plant structure and the human structure.
Now consider the fact that plants with a prevailing tendency towards root-formation leave much more ash when they are burnt than is left by plants that tend towards the formation of blossoms or even by mistletoe and, tree-plants. This difference is caused by the greater influence of the inner heavenly bodies, Moon, Mercury and Venus, on plants with great root development. And if you search in their ashes, iron, manganese, and silicon will be found, all of them substances with direct remedial qualities, as is shown when any portion of the plant is used.
But if plants of the opposite type are exposed to the action of fire, there is but little ash. And in these different results of the same process of incineration, we have something I would describe as an external document of the plant's relation to the whole cosmic order, and not to forces ruling on earth alone.
Now consider the plant world more closely. In the case of annual plants, growth stops abruptly at a certain season of the year with the formation of seed. As we have seen, seed formation is mainly governed by extra-terrestrial forces. But its course is interrupted and it is given over to the earth again. It must, as it were, continue at a lower stage in the new year, what had reached a higher stage in the old year The course of plant life and growth is a remarkable one. Take the earth's surface; the plant emerges from the soil, reaching out to its fullest extent towards the extra-terrestrial spheres. But then what has developed extra-terrestrially is sown again in the soil, and the cycle begins anew. (See Diagram 10). Thus every year the heavenly forces sink into the ground, mingle with the forces of the earth, and again complete their course. Year by year the seed of the flower is returned again to the root region, to complete the rhythmic cycle to which all plant life is subject.
This rhythmic cycle is proof that what we term the flora of earth is in truth a manifestation of the whole earth's interaction with the extra-terrestrial cosmos. This interaction, therefore, is not restricted to the form of our planet, but extends to its internal chemistry and its whole system of organic life. Just as what is earthly in the mechanism in the form is overcome by the cosmic forces, so also is the terrestrial chemistry in plants overcome by the forces outside the earth; and when this overcoming has reached a certain point, the process must return again to earth and display earthly chemistry. From these facts it is not a farfetched conclusion that the specific chemistry of the earth is revealed in the ashes; it is represented in the refuse, the dross of the living sphere. This dross and ash is subject to gravity, whereas the upward urge and growth of the plant is a continual conquest of gravity, and of other earth-bound forces, so that we may properly speak of a polar opposition between gravity and light. Light is that which continually overcomes gravity. And the plant is so to speak set into the tension of this combat between light and weight, between that which strives towards ashes and that which strives towards fire. And this polar contrast between what becomes ashes and what is revealed in flame, is the opposition of ponderable and imponderable elements. There we have revealed the cosmic place and role of plant life.
What of man? We have already maintained that we shall not understand him aright, unless we recognise his polar orientation also. I have pointed out that the part that grows upwards from below, in man grows downwards from above; the sexual and excretory processes in man correspond to the flowers and seed vessels, whereas his root formation points upwards. In man, however, it remains in the realm of functions; in plants it becomes a material process.
So man presents us with manifestations that are the direct opposite of those of the plant. In him we have not only the manifestations, but the bearer of them. So you must distinguish in man the functions sending their roots upwards, and the functions tending downward; and as surrounding sheath of both, his material body, which in its turn has an upward tendency. That which happens artificially and externally in respect of plants — the removal from the upper sphere and implanting into the lower level — in man becomes a continuous process. In him there is a constant double current in every process from above downwards and from below upwards, and the relationship of these currents is the core of health and disease. We cannot begin to understand the complex processes in man, if we do not consider the facts I have just described. On the one hand is a material carrier working upwards from the earth, and on the other, something else, working from above downwards, is inserted into the carrier.
It is easy to see that the interaction of these forces determines health or disease in man, especially when, half in despair, so to say, one meets the most important fact, that the human organism has to be treated quite differently according to whether the upper region or the “sub-cardiac” regions are affected. They must be viewed according to quite different principles.
Let us cite an example; the relationship of common rickets to cranio-tabes, which to many people is quite mysterious. These two afflictions seem so closely related if the human individual is viewed as a unity, whereas in truth they should be considered in the in the light of perfectly different principles, as they originate in regions of man that are polar to one another. This has an important bearing upon the healing process. Medical men who obtain certain favourable results in cases of rickets, through some form of phosphoric application, will probably fail completely in cases of cranio-tabes, which require an opposite therapeutic method, probably an application of some form of carbonate of lime. But this is a mere illustration of a truth that is quite general; though its statement is apt to be unwelcome. Where the treatment of human beings is in question in the domain of medicine, it is a fact that whatever remedy is prescribed, and whatever rule is laid down, their exact opposites may also be true and efficacious in certain cases. A very annoying circumstance! It is perfectly possible to prescribe a thoroughly sound and effective method of treatment for such and such a case; and then if it is applied to what appear to be the very same symptoms, to find that it proves no remedy, and that the exact opposite must be applied. Thus it is always possible to meet, and even beat, one theory of treatment with another on the medical field; for most people are not aware that only one part of man can be treated remedially according to any one method, and that another region requires a different method, this is the point we must grasp here.
Now let us carefully examine the sphere that in plants appears visibly separated in two, whereas in man it forms one aspect of his whole constitution. I referred to the three formative impulses which are in some degree inherent in external nature; the impulse to saline formation the impulse to mercurial formation and the tendency peculiar to certain substances such as phosphorus and sulphur to conserve within themselves the imponderable forces to become their carriers.
What is the difference between these formative impulses of external nature, in so far as our present subject is concerned? All that is saline in its process tends to saline formation, leading our internal processes in to the realm of gravity. Those who study the medical works of the past would do well to keep in mind, wherever they find references to the “salification” of substances, that by this process the substance in question is subjected to the force of gravity, and by the opposite process, the light process, it is liberated from gravity; that is, the imponderables are so liberated. Accordingly if we accept light as the representative of all other imponderable forces, we must conceive the whole of external nature as involved in the struggle between light and gravity, between the force that strives towards the extra-terrestrial and the force that makes earth's substances tend towards the centre. We have here the polarity between light and gravity; and in between, that which perpetually seeks the balance between the two and manifests mercurially For the mercurial element is simply something that continually seeks to maintain a state of equilibrium between light and gravity.
We have to visualise the place and office of the imponderables working between the saline, the phosphoric, and the mercurial elements in the whole cosmic scheme, i.e., in gravity, in the light forces, and in that which ever seeks an equilibrium midway between them. Now into the very centre of these mighty forces and tensions is placed in a remarkable way the whole activity of our human heart. It is an appalling feature of the current natural scientific view, that quite apart from the pump-theory, which is untenable, as I have already demonstrated, all heart functions are thought to be enclosed within the limits of the individual being's skin. It is assumed that the heart is somehow connected with the substances that pulsate rhythmically within the limits of the body. But in truth, man with his organic system is inserted into the whole process of the universe, and the human heart is not merely an organ pertaining to his organism, but belongs to the whole world process. That tension of opposite forces which we have traced in the plant, that alternation and interplay of super-solar and infra-solar forces, is also manifest in man in the movements of the heart. The heart movements are not only an imprint of what takes place in man, they are also an imprint of extra-human conditions. For in the human heart you may see reflected as in a mirror, the whole process of the universe. Man is individualised merely as a being of soul and spirit. In other aspects of being, he is inserted into the universal process, so that, for instance, the beats of his heart are not only an expression of what takes place within man, but also of that contest between light and gravity that fills the whole cosmic stage.
I have often had occasion to put this cosmic-human interaction before laymen, in a rough and obvious way, by means of the following calculation. Let us assume that the human being draws breath eighteen times in the course of one minute. In one day of twenty-four hours, this will amount to 25,920 breaths. Now take one day of human life and note further that there are 360 or 365 days in the year assume that the human individual attains average old age, that of seventy-one years (one may, of course, become much older). In that case we shall find as many days in the course of life, as there are breaths in one day of twenty-four hours: namely 25,915. Now take the path of the sun through the constellations of the Zodiac, the platonic year, namely, the time necessary for the point of sunrise to return to Aries at the Vernal Equinox; this amounts to 25,920 of our terrestrial years. Here you have a remarkable example in numbers of the human relation to the whole universe. The course of the sun through the heavens in the platonic year is expressed by the same number as the days of a human life. This is easily reckoned, but it points the way into profound depths of the foundations of the world. Bear in mind — as we have had occasion to stress in Anthroposophy — that in sleep the ego and the astral body of man leave the physical and etheric bodies, and that on awakening, they return to them again. Visualise these exits and re-entries as exhalations and inhalations of the soul and spiritual element by the physical body; you will find that there are 25,915 or 25,920 of such “breaths” in the course of a normal life (the difference of five is due to leap-year days), which obviously must represent a “day” in relation to some other rhythm. And again there must be something in the cosmos which is inserted according to the same numerical terms into the solar revolution. Here is a rhythm in world occurrences that manifests on a large scale; it manifests also in an individual human life, and in the function of respiration during the day. You will no longer find it unaccountably strange that the ancient world, out of their old clairvoyance, spoke of the days and nights of Brahma, the in-breathing and out-breathing of the world; for these ancients had found the breathing of heaven reflected in the mirror of the everyday life-process of man.
Because of these concrete facts, and not because of any sympathies or antipathies, we arrive at a true reverence for primeval wisdom. I can assure you that I should not reverence the ancient wisdom, had I not had the proof in countless cases, that we can re-discover today things already contained in it, things that had been lost and forgotten between the knowledge accumulated of old and that which we are now able to attain. The reverence for ancient wisdom that grows on the seeker after real knowledge is not the result of any vague general inclination, but springs from the comprehension of certain quite concrete conditions and facts.
If we are in quest of the forces akin to light, we must turn to the outer planets of our system, to Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. And as all that happens on earth is in some degree the effect of extra-terrestrial agents, we must look here for the effects of what happens in the cosmos. This leads us to examine the various substances in the earth, but not to look for the causes of their configuration or general consistency in the abstract and fantastic manner of the molecular physics and molecular atomic chemistry of today. This atomic chemistry which looks, as it were, into what is impenetrable to our vision, into the inmost recesses of the constitution of matter. devises all kinds of fine guesswork about atoms and molecules. It then proudly talks of “astronomical recognition” of what goes on in the interior of material structure: or rather, it did so twenty years ago, and does so perhaps less often today. That was a subject of discussion some time ago; today these processes are photographed, as I mentioned in a recent public lecture, and in spiritualistic circles photography is also called in to depict spirits!
Just as scientific investigators are disinclined to believe in “spirit” photography, so must they permit us, who see through these things from another angle, to reject their atomic photography as well. For the same delusion is at work here also.
In plants, it is not forces bound to atoms and molecules that we have to consider, but those that affect the earth by their impact from without, and permeate its substances. Not those tiny demons, the molecules and atoms, but the cosmic forces, shape the internal and external structure of matter. Let us take an example. Suppose that a planet in extra-terrestrial space is in an especially favourable position for working on a certain portion of our sphere. Assume Saturn to be the planet in question and that Saturn can best exercise its full influence when the direction of other planetary influences strike the earth as far away as possible from its own, and do not mingle with nor deflect them; (See Diagram 11) i.e., when the Sun, Mars, and other bodies are not in or near a line from Saturn to the earth. Then the Saturnian force impinges directly on our planet. And if conditions are favourable in the portion of earth directly under Saturn's influence, that Unmixed and undeflected Saturnian influence causes a structure to he formed there differing from that due to the action of Mars under similar conditions.
Earth's substances are the combined result of forces from the stars In the case cited as illustration, the effect of such action is shown in the production of lead. This is why we must associate certain substances in the earth — especially metals — with certain planetary positions in the extra-telluric universe. What the ancient wisdom of mankind offers us, can only be truly understood when it is discovered afresh. It is impossible for anyone accustomed to think in modern chemical and physical terms to read the ancient writings. This is shown by the following example. In a history of alchemy an extremely clever Norwegian scholar described a process, which, as he quite truly remarks, is mere nonsense according to modern chemical concepts, for it gives no result. It is a process concerned with lead. But he failed to see that this process explained the process of seed formation! He referred the statements to a laboratory experiment, which, of course, made nonsense. He did not realise that the terminology of archaic alchemy must be transferred, so to speak, to another plane, and that many of its expressions must be read in a wholly different sense. Therefore he made nonsense of the passage. His opinion was, of course, both right and wrong. Thus we cannot but assume a relationship between terrestrial substances and the forces impinging on the earth from the surrounding world.
The study of metals in particular, on the lines indicated, leads to concrete relationships, so that we must ascribe their formations as follows. Lead results from the unimpeded action of Saturn, tin from that of Jupiter, iron from Mars, copper from Venus, and what is now termed quicksilver from Mercury. Similarly we must recognise a relationship between everything of the nature of silver, all that is silvery — I use this term with intention — and the unimpeded action of the Moon. It is pleasantly amusing to read in contemporary books that the reason why the ancient world associated silver with the Moon, was because of the Moon's silvery radiance — merely because of this external appearance! Anyone who is aware how careful and minute were the studies made of old as to the properties of the various metals — along their own lines, naturally — will not fall into such error. Moreover, the conception I have given leaves, as you will perceive, ample room for other substances than the six most distinctive metals (lead, tin, iron, copper, quicksilver and silver) to come into being through the combination of planetary forces. This joint action of planetary forces means that various other planetary influences combine with the typical ones which we indicated. In this manner, the less representative metals originate. And in any case, earth's wealth of metals is the result of forces acting on the earth from without. Here is the link between the workings of metals and the formation of plants. If you summarise the agencies contained in lead, tin and iron, you have there everything connected with flower and seed formation in plants; inasmuch as these processes take place extra-terrestrially above the surface of the earth. And all that is of the nature of copper, silver or mercury, must be related to everything connected with the formation of plant roots.
As on the one side, the mercurial element acts as an equalising agent, you will certainly look for a corresponding equilibrium on the other side. The mercury element is the balancing factor between the telluric and that which is to some degree supra-telluric. But our whole universe is permeated with spirit. Thus another polarity arises. The terrestrial and extra-terrestrial poles represent the polar opposite of gravity and light. This offers only one possibility — the existence of a state of balance between the terrestrial and the extra-terrestrial elements. But there is another state of equilibrium between that which permeates all matter equally, whether it be terrestrial or extra-terrestrial, and matter itself; an equilibrium between the spiritual and the material, whether the latter be ponderable or imponderable. At every point of the material world, the balance must be held between it and the spiritual, and equally so in the universe. For us, the first and nearest agency that holds the balance in the universe, is the Sun itself. The Sun holds the balance between the spiritual in the universe and the material in the universe. Thus the Sun has a twofold aspect; as a heavenly body it establishes order in the planetary system, but at the same time it maintains order among the forces that permeate the material system. Just as we are able to link the individual planets with the metals as I have already described, so can we also establish the relationship of the Sun to gold. The ancients actually prized gold, not for its material value, but on account of its relationship with the Sun, and with the balance between spirit and matter.
We should recognise that all that we divide and separate on earth, both in our thoughts and in our actions, in nature is actually united in some way or another. In our thoughts we separate what is subject to gravity, and therefore tends to salt formation, from that which bears the light and is therefore akin to the workings of light; and we separate both these categories from what is contained in the state of equilibrium between the two. But in nature there are no such absolute divisions. All these ways of working are connected one with another, adjusted to one another, so that they form highly intricate constructions, and one of these intricate structural systems is shown in the lustre of the metal gold; for it is through gold that the spiritual realm looks, as it were, right into the external world. This directs your attention to possibilities with which I will deal parenthetically — for you may be able to do fruitful work, by utilising in contemporary literature suggestions obtainable from ancient literature. In doing the scientific papers suggested yesterday, you will be able to make use of indications in the ancient literature, if you can understand it aright. Thus it is most important to notice how in old writings all these primary principles, salt, mercury and phosphorus, were seen to be in every substance in different combinations, and to note the diligence with which it was sought to liberate and extract these three principles from a given substance. The ancients believed that lead was formed in the manner described above, but lead — like gold or copper — contains all three principles, salt, mercury and phosphorus. So, in order that we may be able to treat man with one or all of these, we must be able to extract or separate it in some way, from the substances with which it is united. In the chemistry of ancient times, the most meticulous care was devoted to this process. It was found to be particularly difficult in the case of gold, hence the Roman proverb which may well lead us to reverence the ancients: “Facilius est aurum facere quam destruere” (It is easier to make gold than to destroy it). For they held that in this metal, the three primary natural constituents, salt, mercury and phosphorous, were so firmly united that to extract them from gold was hardest of all.
Now we must readily admit that we should not get much further in the matter today, if we took the very same measures as the men of old times. But let us leave them, for we are dealing with the methods and medicine of today, and only occasionally referring to the light thrown by the past. Consider what we are now in a position to investigate. In order to extract the requisite amount of the three primary principles characterised yesterday and today, from the raw materials of nature, it will be necessary to subject these to combustion, in order first, to isolate the fire-bearing, light-bearing parts, then to try to extract the mercurial portions so that the portions with a saline tendency remain. These can be treated with some acid substance, which extracts them and produces an effective saline therapeutic remedy, whether of vegetable or mineral derivation. I shall give further details later on. Thus we shall either have to seek for the light-bearing substances in nature, in order to get extra-terrestrial factors, or try to remove the extra-terrestrial from earthly substances, and to retain the telluric; then we shall have a genuinely saline residue. Or finally we can try to attain something midway between the two poles.
Here we have a choice of two paths, each different in kind, and each taking us part of the way to our goal. We can take the standpoint of the ancient physicians, who always began by extracting the essentially phosphoric, saline or mercurial from various substances, and then made use of the result. In the opinion of these physicians, the specific action of the remedies they obtained depended on the matrix from which they had been extracted. What was obtained from lead acted differently from what was obtained from copper, for example. They laid most stress on origin: salt derived from lead was essentially different from salt derived from copper. So that when they spoke of salt, they knew that in it they had something common to all salts. Because it was salt, it was of the earth, yet because salt derived from the various metals is something extra-telluric, it has relationships to the most diverse parts of man. This we can consider in more detail in the next lecture.
This method is a possible choice, for instance, for the production of saline material in therapeutics. But there is the other way, chosen after the ancient method had ceased to work, and chosen in definite awareness of the fact that man is something more than a chemical apparatus. This way simply tries to take the substances as found in nature and to make available through “potentising” the forces hidden in them. This is the way chosen by Hahnemann's school, representing a new departure in the whole of man's medical researches. It left the archaic way, now blocked because of the ignorance concerning the extra-telluric and other relationships.
This is what causes — I would almost say — the despair of modern medicine; that people have ceased to pay attention to the extra-terrestrial that is really the basis of the earthly elements. The extra-terrestrial sphere is ignored and the earthly sphere is treated as all-sufficient. The homeopathic system strives to get beyond this; so does the “open-air treatment,” which uses light and air directly, because it has lost the secret of how to make right use of the light-bearer, phosphorus, and the air-carrier mercury. That of course is a third possibility. But a genuinely favourable and hopeful way will only be found when mankind has learnt, through spiritual science, the respective inter-relationships of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms to extra-telluric forces. And as I indicated yesterday, the animal sphere is near — dangerously near to mankind. The ancients, knowing this, set a boundary which we will investigate anew in the light of our later knowledge. They thought as follows: plants remain within the realm of the planetary system; minerals are also within that sphere: but with the animal kingdom we leave the planetary system, and deal with something much more serious. We may not deal here with things as though we were still within the planetary extra-telluric domain. Those forces that lead to the formation of animals, and further to that of mankind, lie scattered farther and wider in the universe than do those that shaped minerals and plants. And so the ancients, knowing this, set a boundary which we will investigate anew in the light of our later knowledge. They thought as follows: plants remain within the realm of the planetary system; minerals are also within that sphere: but with the animal kingdom we leave the planetary system, and deal with something much more serious. We may not deal here with things as though we were still within the planetary extra-telluric domain. Those forces that lead to the formation of animals, and further to that of mankind, lie scattered farther and wider in the universe than do those that shaped minerals and plants. And so the ancients traced the Zodiac in the heavens as a warning not to seek remedial forces beyond the boundary of minerals and plants; or at least to be aware that beyond is perilous ground.
But this perilous ground has been entered upon, as I have already begun to tell you in outline. This must be elaborated when we come to deal with pathology and serotherapy. The methods in question often bring startling results in individual cases, and arouse illusory hopes, completely masking the danger in the background.
|GA 56. Knowledge of Soul and Spirit — Natural Science Facing a Crucial Decision|
|There are already scientists who have done interesting considerations about certain processes. Once one said, there are copper salts that are joined, for example, of copper and chlorine. If one separates them, one has copper and chlorine again. One sees in it that the atoms lie together, and if one separates them again, it is chlorine and copper. Indeed, something essential occurred to some persons who have started thinking and what the spiritual scientist stresses repeatedly: if you combine the materials that you have separated as copper and chlorine again, then heat must originate. If these two substances combine, heat is spread. The fact that heat appears there is something real and it is as real as copper and chlorine are combined.|
|Nobody has ever perceived atoms and molecules. However, do we not recognise what is in the phenomenon? If you bring together copper and chlorine, this is, as if you squeezed out the heat, as it were, like flour from the flour bags. If one wants to have the flour bags full again, one must just put flour again into them. Thus, the heat would be the filling. — With it, we have attributed reality to the heat and have made clear that one has to count not only on molecular effects, but that these materials themselves are possible only because of this heat.|
|GA 56. Knowledge of Soul and Spirit — Natural Science Facing a Crucial Decision|
In the preliminary talk, I already drew your attention to the both basic conditions of spiritual science or theosophy. I said that spiritual science rests on two pillars: first, on the fact that the human being realises that behind our sensuous world which you can see with eyes and touch with hands a spiritual, supersensible world of the facts, events and beings exists; secondly, that the human being can become able to intervene in this spiritual world recognising and on a higher stage even acting. Briefly, spiritual science expresses its conviction that there is a spiritual world and that it is accessible to the human being.
From the most different sides, spiritual science should be illumined in the course of these winter talks. Today, we look at its relation to natural sciences. Indeed, some among you may see in this talk a kind of aberration from the regular course. They come to these talks especially in order to get to know the results of spiritual science and the experiences in the higher worlds. In the main, real theosophists take the view that they have found their relation to the scientific results. Therefore, they regard the explanation of such matters as the relation of spiritual science to results of the natural sciences as somewhat boring sometimes. However, we come to so specifically spiritual-scientific subjects in the next talks that the today's intermezzo may probably be bearable, in particular with regard to the fact that the sharpest attacks and the strongest misunderstandings concerning spiritual science come just from those who pretend to stand firmly on the ground of natural sciences. Above all, be clear in your mind that in the today's talk I do not speak opposing natural sciences. With the big impact that the scientific prepositions exert on our contemporaries it would be really an awkward undertaking to get into opposition to the natural sciences. For you can hear repeatedly: the natural sciences stand on the ground of facts, of experience, and everything that does not comply with these facts and experiences must be expelled to the field of speculative fiction. You get this information from many sides concerning such things, as I want to explain just in these winter talks on spiritual science.
It is most adequate — in view of the general educational conditions in our time — if the today's talk explains the relation of the natural sciences to spiritual science as objectively as possible without pros and cons. However, from the start I want to note that spiritual science does not dispute with the natural sciences especially where it concerns only scientific facts. This could not be at all its task. Who would attack the building of strict facts anyhow? Who would argue anything against that which is certain by experiment and experience in the scientific field? Spiritual science is completely based on experiences. Admittedly, on experiences, as they have been characterised last time, on experiences in the higher, in the spiritual worlds. However, with regard to the methodical principles it completely complies with scientific demands. It agrees with the natural sciences that experience forms the basis of any knowledge at last. Thus, I do not give my view on certain scientific results of the present in the introduction of a series of spiritual-scientific talks because this is not necessary. Rather I want to show how one must look at the scientist in his scientific thinking. This is important: pursuing the scientific thought process, as it is offered to us.
It may be very good if we look back at the German cultural life for a short time. It offers a picture of the whole spiritual life of the last decades. Above all, the following comes into consideration: the natural sciences have become for many people something that they never were once. Slowly and gradually, for four centuries it has prepared itself. However, in the 19th century, it has come only to the climax of that what prepared there slowly. The natural sciences have become something that one could call a kind of religion, a kind of creed, or better said, single persons have believed to be able to form a kind of creed, a kind of religion from the scientific results of our time. It is much more important for spiritual science than discussions about scientific facts to a look at the way in which a kind of new religion, a kind of new creed has come about based on putative scientific facts. Someone who looks impartially at our cultural life cannot misjudge that people oppose the assumption of the spiritual world, oppose the religious feeling, while they refer to the fact that new scientific results would disprove any reference to a spiritual world. In certain circles, one almost believes to have removed every reference to a spiritual world with the results of the natural sciences. Hundred years ago, nobody was inclined to draw such a conclusion from the scientific facts. Indeed, there have also been earlier quite materialistic confessions of the most radical kind; but they have never put up the assertion, one could explain the world only materialistically according to the “true science.” The term “true science” exerts an ineffable magic power on our contemporaries!
One speaks much of former dark times of the religious fury, religious disputes, and religious persecutions. I do not varnish or defend these things. However, if you compare these processes of former centuries which humiliated the feeling and thinking of humanity, nevertheless, you realise something peculiar with an impartial look at the development of the human soul. Someone who thinks impartially finds that confirmed everywhere that I only assert now. Indeed, many times were dark and intolerant, but intolerance with an immense arrogance of infallibility has remained to our time! This inner intolerance commits no riots and persecutions, although one can already experience that one calls the police and the prosecutor against anybody who reports about the spiritual world. However, these are exceptions; our time is tolerant outwardly. Only in relation to thinking, One considers everybody a fool, a daydreamer, or at least an ignorant man who cannot share the creed of those who say there: from the scientific facts follows that one cannot state anything about the spiritual side of the world.
This attitude has prepared itself slowly. In the 19th century, one came with it on the climax. It is well reasoned that this has come that way. If we look for the reason, we must say, the reason is connected with the big progress of humanity. We realise that in the newer time the human beings have investigated the external physical world with all imaginable instruments and skilfully developed methods, which are more than amazing. We see how it has begun with astronomy and with the view of the astronomical world edifice how then the physical world has been conquered gradually by that what can be investigated with the armed eye and understood with the intellect. In the 19th century, it has appeared that this kind of research not only is able to see into in the lifeless nature, but it has also deeply illumined the living nature.
He who is able to pursue the spiritual life objectively knows that it signified an immense progress when during the thirties of the 19th century Schleiden (Matthias Jacob Sch., 1804–1881, German botanist) discovered the smallest part of plants and animals, the cell (together with Theodor Schwann, 1810–1882). It became obvious that many former conjectures had to disappear because of the facts, which one now discovered by means of the microscope and the new research method. One has thought a lot about what this organism is actually inside which composes our living beings. One had now discovered what corresponded to the thinking and feeling of the 19th century so much: one saw obviously how the organism builds itself up from countless and extremely small living beings. One saw now how they co-operated and yielded the human organism. Now that was accessible to the actual research, which one had assumed and bothered so much.
One had done a look at the world of life that way. Then it was a big progress when Kirchhoff (Gustav Robert K., 1824–1887, German physicist) and Bunsen (Robert Wilhelm B., 1811–1899, German chemist) announced the spectral analysis. The spectroscope, this miraculous instrument, proved that the same materials, which compose our earthly world, also exist in the universe. One recognised this by the facts, which the spectroscope delivered. Then Darwin came with the overabundant wealth of facts that show how the living beings change under the influence of external conditions, dependent on the place where they live. He succeeded in investigating the rests of primeval living beings that are in the layers of our earth. When the paleontological research came along forming a bridge between history and natural sciences, then the significant basics were given for the feeling and thinking of the 19th century. They got their solid, sure support.
In particular in Germany, one felt the blessing of such solid, sure support. Just in Germany, one had a great, idealistic-philosophical spiritual worldview that was connected with names like Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. One had a range of daring, superior mental attempts behind himself. Now one was of the opinion that these attempts would have something subjective-arbitrary, something that everybody can experience or not. What Hegel, what Fichte has thought, they have thought it for themselves; another may find different things. With it, we come — one meant — in a tangle of worldviews. However, this happens only if we leave the firm ground of facts if we omit, for example, to realise how the smallest organism is composed of smallest living beings. For we would ascertain that the thousands who look into the microscope see and describe the same things. Everybody who knows the layers of the earth must describe them in the same way. This is the sure, firm ground of facts.
One has not remained to it saying, he who stands on this ground of facts is on the safe side, and we leave all remaining untouched. If one had stopped on the ground of facts, never would have originated creeds, religious problems from it. The true natural sciences that are based on observation with exclusion of the supersensible world will always be on the safe side, even if they confine themselves to the sensory phenomena. They will come to sure facts. However, these facts have worked suggestively, were mesmerising! On these scientific facts, one founded a kind of scientific atheistic or materialistic religion, a kind of creed. Now one could say, with every creed it is possible that the human being is steady and strong in life, the right thing will be found in the course of human evolution, and it does not depend on how the human being stands to the questions of the supersensible world. However, just this idea will appear in the course of these talks that it is not right to think that it is irrelevant how the human being feels and thinks. We shall just prove that feeling and imagining are a real world, and that not only the future of the earth, but of the entire human race depends on the human thinking.
We shall see in the course of the winter talks how deep and true this sentence is. Spiritual science does not deal with theoretical bickering but has to work for the human being usefully and in suitable way. Whether the single material body consists of atoms or not, whether the single material organism is composed of single cells or not, whether in the remaining heavenly bodies the same materials are as on earth or not, all that are wholly factual questions. But by the decision of these factual questions one never states something about the destiny of the human soul or mind. If one keeps to establish and describe the facts, and does not cross this border to the soul area, then there can be no conflict between natural sciences and spiritual science. However, one has not just remained to this. One built up theories; one constructed mental pictures with which generally no soul being, no spiritual existence can be combined.
We only need to have a look back at some decades of development. Today it is already almost forgotten when in the 19th century the so-called theory of energy and matter appeared. However, it would be good just for someone who stands beyond spiritual science to consider the real reason of the theory of energy and matter.
Imagine the picture of the dry theory of energy and matter as it was at that time. It went philosophically out from that which the scientific facts had brought. One had found that the human being consisted of single cells. One had discovered chemical and physical processes and had said, all our bodies would consist of molecules and atoms, and the phenomena would originate from the play and the movement of the atoms round us. Those who are now forty, fifty years old and have the academic education behind themselves remember the time lively when the so-called theory of heat controlled everything. The big discoveries in the field of thermodynamics had assumed such a shape that one imagined any gas consisting of millions smallest parts, molecules and atoms which are in an endless complex movement, knock at each other and rebound and thereby produce the phenomena of heat. What was there heat? Nothing but a result of that which exists outdoors in space as a manifold play of moving and colliding atoms. One said it soberly at that time: what you feel as warmth is nothing but a movement that the smallest parts of the bodies accomplish, and the degree of heat depends on the power of the impacts, on the vehemence of the movements. Thus, nothing was in the outside world for the theory of heat available as the whirling atoms, and what one meant with the word “warmth” was a subjective sensation, an effect on the human organism or on the brain which one also imagined materially. Not only the warmth or heat, everything was imagined as such a movement of the atoms! One must retain this. For: if you come once to the materialistic mental picture, it is like a juggernaut: it devours the spiritual, as well as the molecules and atoms have devoured it.
If you take books of that time about the phenomena of light, you can find soberly said: what you call red or blue is only an effect on your nerves, is only in you. Outdoors in the world is no light and no colour, there is only the ether penetrating the whole world, and the peculiar movement of this ether works on you and causes the sensation of colour. Thus, the light is objectively outdoors in the world as a movement of the cosmic ether, and what you feel is nothing, actually. — Briefly, the empty space became the true reality, filled with moving atoms. One assumed that all phenomena arose from this. Somebody who would have expressed himself radically could have said the following: imagine all human brains as not existing, what remains then? Nothing but the empty space, filled with atoms, if you like, with moving atoms of the ether and of the matter having weight.
However, any perception, any sensation in you like the sensations of smell, taste, warmth etc. do no longer exist; this is subjective and not objective. People like Büchner (Ludwig B., 1824–1899) and Vogt (Carl V,, 1817–1895) only drew the consequence from this premise in the middle of the 19th century. You find the merits of these men emphasised in my writing World Views and Approaches to Life in the 19th Century because they have had the iron consequence to draw the conclusions of such a view. If nothing else existed outdoors for the phenomena of colour and sound than the moving atoms and molecules, it was quite natural that the thinker said, then nothing else exists in the human being than matter, consisting of moving atoms and molecules. — Vogt had only to draw the unequivocal consequence: thoughts are produced by the movements of the cerebral molecules like other things by liver and kidneys et cetera. — This opinion bred much bad blood and was only a consequence of premises, which others had who only did not go so far. With it, it was connected inevitably that one divided this world of atoms and molecules that one regarded as the absolute in materials, which one could discover. One was of the opinion that the whole matter is only movement and can be divided in atoms and molecules. One considered life also only as a complex movement of atoms in the living bodies. One recognised that single bodies could be taken to pieces, water, for example, to hydrogen and oxygen, sulfuric acid to hydrogen, sulfur and oxygen. — However, there comes a border, where the chemical research cannot accomplish any further decomposition. Where from does this come? This is why simple elements form the basis of our materials. There are about seventy elements; all our materials are composed of them.
How does water originate? By the fact that its elements oxygen and hydrogen that, otherwise, are apart side by side, penetrate themselves. The materialists of the 19th century primarily relied on this fact that one assumed a particular number of elements. In every chemical book, you can find them: hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, sulfur, phosphorus, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and so on. Everything living and lifeless originates from a more or less complex composition of molecules, and one considered the complex of the human soul — all the human feelings, sensations, mental pictures, ideals et cetera in himself — also as nothing else than the result of the cooperation of his compound molecules and atoms. Indeed, single persons like Haeckel said that it is absurd to explain the soul as a mere result of the cooperation of lifeless small atoms. Hence, Haeckel formed the view that the atom already has a soul for itself. He is of the opinion that all these atoms that build up such an organism have a small soul and that many small souls yield the human soul.
It is probably the most daring, the most adventurous superstition to speak of such an atomic soul! Here begins a chapter of scientific superstition that flows then into such concepts as cell soul, soul cell and the like. It would lead us too far to pursue this further. We are concerned to characterise the sense and the spirit of natural sciences as they have presented themselves. Nevertheless, we look back at the time when a kind of materialistic creed joined to the physical-scientific suggestion. This has immense spiritual results. He who does not take the matters seriously can easily pass over them. However, it is true that this scientific creed excludes any independence of soul and mind from that, it excludes to speak of mind and soul. For this view, that what the human soul experiences begins with the first activity of the organism and disappears with the decay of it. The human being is nothing else than a built up machine which, during the sixty to eighty years of its existence, produces phenomena like thoughts, sensations and feelings, and if it disintegrates, it is over, because all these phenomena are nothing but the assemblage of molecules. Thus, Vogt and all those thought who have drawn the daring, radical conclusion from the scientific premises.
Then another party came in natural sciences. One of it is the famous Du Bois-Reymond (Emil Heinrich D., 1818–1896, German physiologist). He held an important talk in a Leipzig meeting of scientists and physicians in which he brought up something that forms the object of many discussions still today. He said: we are in the natural sciences so far that in us the scientific ideal has developed that, for example, all light phenomena, all colour phenomena and sound phenomena can be led back to the work of atoms and molecules. The rest is appearance; however, these are the realities. Everything that originates comes into being and persists because these atoms combine, collide, and oscillate. If it were possible — Du Bois-Reymond meant — to give the suitable movement and position of the atoms for every phenomenon, then the world would be explained scientifically. However, with this scientific explanation something would not and could not be explained. Du Bois-Reymond also pointed to the teachings of the great German philosopher Leibniz (Gottfried Wilhelm L., 1646–1716) in those days. — Imagine once — Du Bois-Reymond said approximately: you could analyse and describe a human brain in all its movements clearly, and now imagine it enlarged, so that you can go for a walk in it like in the machinery of a factory. Look at the whole: you see enormously complex movements in it, you find complexities in it with which one can compare nothing in the world; but you see movements only. Natural sciences will never be able to explain the transition, which causes that one can say: I smell rose scent. Here is an uncrossable limit of knowledge. One cannot explain how the human nature becomes conscious. Hence, he speaks his “ignorabimus:” we shall never know. — He says, one is never able to cross these limits; the human being will never know how consciousness originates from motion.
Du Bois-Reymond did not only put this riddle before the world, but six other. In The Seven World Riddles (1880), you find that he admits not to understand how life originated and how the first distribution of matter came about. He admits that matter must have been distributed from the outset. On the question, where from motion comes, he says: one can never know this! — Du Bois-Reymond counts all that to the seven world riddles, and in Haeckel's book The World Riddles (1895–1899) you can read that this has been written as a kind of reply to DuBois-Reymond's Seven World Riddles. Then he says also, it is true that there are seventy elements that consist of materials, which are quite different in relation to the single elements; but everything originates from the combination of atoms and molecules. — One assumed one thing just as fixed: the immutability of the atoms. What is an atom remains an atom. Büchner emphasised the sentence repeatedly: the motion of the atoms changes, but what is an atom sulfur, an atom oxygen etc. remains an atom sulfur, an atom oxygen. This was announced now as the immutability of the materials in the elements, the eternity of the atoms. In his World Riddles (The Riddles of the Universe), Haeckel emphasises nothing stronger than the eternity of the matter. This was one thing that one fixed. The other what Du Bois-Reymond fixed was that limits are put to the natural sciences: one can never know how consciousness comes into being.
Based on these premises, different groups formed. One said: howsoever the things may be, we remain at our old religious creed. We let the researchers think what they want to believe, we do believe; but in relation to science we keep to the determined facts. — The other, more courageous ones said: Indeed, if the real is the atoms in motion, the seventy elements and in between the ether atoms, everything else is appearance, which exists only as long as a motion exists. — This is no longer science, this is a creed! This is something that spreads to everything that concerns the spiritual world, which is for such a creed nothing else than a manifestation of the wholly material facts.
It was already a courageous venture when on the Lübeck meeting of scientists and physicians, in the end of the eighties, the chemist Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1932) held a talk The Overcoming of the Scientific Materialism. Ostwald showed that for the logical thinking the concept of matter generally disintegrates into nothing. One can unfold this logical thinking very easily: what do you see in the world? You see bodies! What are these bodies? They are something that is a certain colour, a certain shine, a certain temperature, something that you can smell and taste. Attempt to retain everything that you perceive in such bodies. If you take away what you perceive as smell, as taste, as touch, what remains to you? Nothing at all! A body is before the logical thinking nothing but a conglomerate, the sum of its qualities.
What has one taken as a basis of light, of colour? Nothing but movements of the ether! One fulfilled the entire space with ether. He who is known with theoretical physics knows how one calculates ether waves etc. and that everything that one finds there is a result of calculations. The ether can never be an object of immediate observation. If it produces the discernible things, how can one perceive it itself? The ether was the most fantastic idea that one could assume. Thus, the natural sciences are based on something fictional. One had nothing but results of calculations. The absolute and most certain that should be there for the scientific thinking was nothing but something calculated. In my The Philosophy of Freedom, you can read up how this thought cancels out, so that one can compare it to Münchhausen who draws himself out of a swamp with his own shock of hair. This is made clear there. However, on the human beings, and if they believe to be ever so logical, never reasons, never real facts, but suggestions work. There work all possible concepts, which move through thousands and thousands canals into the souls. Thus, the elements and atoms became a natural premise also with those who had no possibility to survey the matters and did not know at all, why one assumes such matters. It was a general suggestion.
At this time, one of the biggest progress of the human investigation of nature occurred, namely the investigation of the living as Darwin made it so popular. The infinite wealth of facts that have become known to the world was in such a way that one had to say: if it had occurred at a spiritual time when one knew that spirit forms the basis of all material phenomena, then one would have found countless reasons just in these facts for the work and being of the spirit. One would have found the spirit working on the change and transformation of the organisms. Darwinism never generated materialism. Materialism, which comes from those mental pictures, as I have just characterised them, made Darwinism materialistic. It made such a high-minded thinker and researcher as Ernst Haeckel also materialistic. While Haeckel could have performed great things for spiritual science with his researches, he was tied up with materialism by the suggestive influence of his time.
If the matter were in such a way even today, one would not be inclined to talk of spiritual science, and it is still temporarily impossible to convince those who are on the ground of the scientific explanations. One has to let them go their own ways, and the spiritual researcher must also go his ways. If it were in such a way even today as it was at that time, one would have to say: the spiritual science can be content in itself. — However, things have changed. Just those who have participated in everything that is regarded as natural sciences have also witnessed — even if only slowly — the biggest reversal taking place just in the field of scientific thinking. Times will come when one will not be able to understand that one could ever think such a thing as it is popular still today. Probably it may seem as if the natural sciences advance in our present triumphantly with this materialistic worldview, as if one succeeded by well-prepared investigations in generating living from the proteins in the laboratory. Then they would say, we could generate living material of which whole living beings consist, and there are for the naturalist virtually delightful facts, which show that one can treat lifeless substance with certain toxic substances by which effects arise like symptoms of an intoxication. The substances resulting from it look like living crystals: by their forms, they create the impression to be alive, although they are not yet. Thus, one can assume that one comes to the point where from molecules and atoms life and, on the other side, spirit comes into being.
On one side, this seems to be the case. On the other side, what is there? Something that works stronger than everything that Ostwald said from the point of view of a scientific logic against materialism. There we see another scientific attitude slowly preparing and becoming necessary. In the middle of the nineties, Becquerel (Henri Antoine B., 1852–1908), the great physicist, discovered certain radiations in certain substances containing uranium. These have particular effects that express themselves making the air electrically conducting or causing a certain change of the photographic plate, as for example the X-rays. You know that one also got around in the last time to finding such rays in connection with the element radium. But as interesting it is that there is something that one has not known once, the entire kind and effect of these rays was so strange, so different from the ideas that one had up to now that many people already became uncertain in their view that the atoms are something everlasting and only combine and separate. We have substances there, which behave quite oddly in the world coherence just like radium and uranium.
They emit, in particular radium, but their radiations are almost inexhaustible. All that would harmonise with the old view; but the most important is that one can let emit such a material like radium that one can separate certain parts and can keep back a part. There are, for example, such radiations which make the air electric, and which one can separate then in such a way that one has their effect on the photographic plate. It is in such a way that one can separate the different qualities, so that one has substances that do no longer have the first qualities. A quality is taken away from one substance and the other gets it. In every bookstore, you can buy treatises about that today. However, this is not yet the significant. It is significant that permanently rays separate and go out into the space. Indeed, certain reasons compel us to suppose that these rays run out once. Today, one can already prove that certain substances are diminished in short time, in a time hardly to be expressed, however, that the substances that can go adrift transform themselves strangely enough into quite different substances, so that for a big number of researchers the fact is that radiations of radium transform themselves into helium.
We see that radium sends its radiations into the space. According to the old theory what would have to happen there? Nevertheless, at most the atoms go adrift, separate if they are something invariable. However, there we see that they send out radiations perpetually, and now we can assume nothing else than that the atoms disintegrate and split to the smallest particles. Others show clearly that for a big number of substances this atomic decay is possible. Thus, we realise that that which one regarded as the most lasting once, as the absolute — whereas everything else counted only as a result of it — today also disintegrates. This scatters today. Reasonable hope exists that that applies to all atoms. What is the atom in future? It is something that originates and forms. Every atom forms, has a certain lifetime, and dissolves after a certain time again. There you have transformed what is the steadiest for materialism into a being that originates and passes. If one sees that radium goes over into the helium element, one sees that there material changes into material. There one gets the idea that the dream of the old alchemists that materials can be transformed into other materials has reality.
In some books, we already find indications that the modern scientific research suggests what the alchemists have dreamt. There are already scientists who have done interesting considerations about certain processes. Once one said, there are copper salts that are joined, for example, of copper and chlorine. If one separates them, one has copper and chlorine again. One sees in it that the atoms lie together, and if one separates them again, it is chlorine and copper. Indeed, something essential occurred to some persons who have started thinking and what the spiritual scientist stresses repeatedly: if you combine the materials that you have separated as copper and chlorine again, then heat must originate. If these two substances combine, heat is spread. The fact that heat appears there is something real and it is as real as copper and chlorine are combined. If one wants to separate both again, one must add heat again. We perceive the warmth. Nobody has ever perceived atoms and molecules. However, do we not recognise what is in the phenomenon? If you bring together copper and chlorine, this is, as if you squeezed out the heat, as it were, like flour from the flour bags. If one wants to have the flour bags full again, one must just put flour again into them. Thus, the heat would be the filling. — With it, we have attributed reality to the heat and have made clear that one has to count not only on molecular effects, but that these materials themselves are possible only because of this heat.
If now we consider that the atoms disintegrate under our hands, we must ask ourselves, do these natural sciences lead on their crossroads — where the atoms scatter, the most certain up to now — to the recognition of that which they once regarded as external expression, as an appearance? The natural sciences lead to this view today!
Today, the entire atomic theory falters that has been the base of the natural sciences long time. Today, the facts are in such a way that the theories that are not based on facts must fall. Atoms and molecules are nothing factual, but something fictional. If this falls because it itself is an effect, we must ask, of what is it an effect? At first, people will attempt to come again to something else that forms the basis. Today, they are just speaking of liquid electricity. Very nice is what Balfour (Arthur James B., 1848–1930, British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary) said: if we imagine atoms, we can only say, something like a fluid flows through the world, and the atoms are in it like ice lumps in the water. — This is a nice picture. However, whereto does it lead? Try once to continue it. It leads to that point where the natural sciences get around to recognising as the actually real what they have denied once what was only an appearance for them. This was a weird belief that colours exists only in my head that outdoors only small particles exist that knock and press each other and thereby produce the sensations of light, colour and sound. These mental pictures will soon have to disappear due to the power of the facts. It will become obvious that what we see and hear is real, and that it was a great speculative fiction to think a material world behind this world. This material world will scatter and disintegrate. On will appreciate what is behind it. Then that will have to move up which one experiences and can experience. Then one will recognise that the atom can be nothing else than frozen electricity, frozen heat, frozen light. Then one has still to advance so that one has to realise that everything consists of compressed spirit. There is no matter! What is matter relates to the spirit as ice relates to the water. If you dissolve the ice, there is water. If you dissolve matter, it disappears as matter and becomes spirit. Everything that is matter is spirit, matter is the external manifestation of the spirit.
It will still last long, until one has to draw the last consequence that not the eye has formed the light, but the light the eye, and the tones that we hear the ear. Then one will realise that any matter is born out of the spirit, and one will lead the true scientific facts, without logical interruption, back to spiritual science. The scientific facts will be the best basis of spiritual science. He who stands on the spiritual-scientific point of view looks admiring at the natural sciences on the crossroads. The suggestions have them tempted to believe that matter is the only one. They have not been content to examine the material world, but they have added a second world. This was the tragedy, the impossible. The spiritual researcher recognises the existent natural world completely. The spiritual scientist can never adopt a fictional and dreamt up world of invariable atoms and oscillations of the fictional ether, this fantastic world of materialism. He rejects them as superstition. Superstition was the belief in material atoms behind our perception. One said, every atom could be perceived if one has the instruments. — Nothing is behind that what we perceive but only the spirit and the spiritual world into which we penetrate! We search this behind the phenomena. We search no world of atoms surging up and down, but the world of the spirit in the world of the sensuous phenomena. On the wrong track is somebody who believes to find another material world behind the external phenomena. Those who build even today on it like on facts have to be corrected. The time will come when this fantastic superstition is recognised as such and when a lot of that which one regards from this side as superstition turns out to be right. The right basic principle of natural sciences, stopping on the ground of the facts, leads them even to the crossroads where it becomes obvious whether the facts agree with the theories. The facts do not agree with them, the theories scatter like nothing! The element and the atoms disintegrate that one had regarded as the steadiest basis from which one wanted to explain the spirit and the consciousness. What we want is certainty, and we can get it only by the fact that we perceive the spirit in ourselves.
Thus, the natural sciences will discharge into the spiritual science. Today, they stand in the crossroads. Some people do not yet recognise it, others can realise it. The time will come when a wonderful harmony exists between the knowledge of scientific facts and the assertions of spiritual science. It will never assert something that contradicts the scientific facts. Spiritual science also admires the works of the spirit in materialism; but it establishes no cloud-cuckoo-land. Spiritual science wants to understand the world to work in it. About hundred years ago, one had natural sciences in Germany, which sailed under full canvas into the materialism of the 19th century, natural sciences that started recognising nothing else than what one can see with eyes and touch with hands. The result was that also that which was thought out became something material, something concrete. The great philosophies that moved in expressions and concepts, which were not everybody's taste, were pushed aside. However, the people who condemn Hegel and Schelling understand as a rule nothing at all of these spirits who looked so deeply into the world, as none of those suggest who believe to be way beyond them. However, they moved in strongly sublimated concepts.
Goethe stood between these two parties right in the middle of them. Hence, he could anticipate how the natural sciences would sail into materialism and, on the other side, he found opportunity to penetrate to the problems and to build the connecting bridge between religion and natural sciences. Therefore, he could say so nicely that once the time would come when philosophy and natural sciences unite. However, he added, for a while they must still go separate ways. — They have gone separate ways, without understanding each other. Today, we also have two currents, materialism that has outlived itself that sees its steadiest, most absolute basis disintegrating by its own methods, that destroys itself, and a philosophy that discharges into theosophy or spiritual science. It is not the abstract-spiritual, but the concrete-spiritual that tries to bring forward facts of the higher world to humanity that will no longer be there as abstract, but as concrete spiritual science.
We shall experience in not too distant time that a nice alliance between the scientific view and the spiritual-scientific one. We shall realise how the scientific facts are useful for the spiritual view and the spiritual view is useful to the natural sciences. Therefore, the bridge is built. The human mind can prosper only if its ways of activity harmonise with each other. The mind would have to become crippled if the natural sciences remained without spiritual science and spiritual science would have to be content with the thought: nevertheless, you cannot take over the natural sciences to the spiritual. — However, the course of the world development will bring peace. It will build the bridge between faith and knowledge. It will bring an infinite progress and harmony between faith and knowledge.
How many people long for external peace, for outer harmony and outer happiness of the human beings! Nevertheless, everything outer is appearance of the inside and the outer human life can be only a result of the inner one. A happy outer human life originates if there are hopeful souls. They will know how to found the right social peace, and from the inner peace, the outer peace will come. Therefore, it seems to be not without meaning to look at these natural sciences in the crossroads and to show how the one reaches a dead end, the other, however, leads quite clearly to the areas, which are also those of spiritual science. Thus, they will co-operate from now on and the world edifice will be enriched from two sides. It will be a great, perfect harmony, and this will be in the human being the inner harmony of the soul that is the last purpose of spiritual science.
|GA 243. True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation — The Inner Vitalization of the Soul through the Qualities of the Metallic Nature|
|Let me illustrate my point. A man is born at a certain point in time. If, at the age of forty, he develops the copper condition of consciousness — I have already explained this in my lecture of the day before yesterday — his perception is no longer related to the immediate present, nor to his perception at the age of thirty or thirty-five; he can only look back to his experiences immediately before birth.|
|Furthermore, many organs — I have already spoken of the sense organs — have been built up out of the world which I described as the world of the second level of consciousness. Copper and iron raise man to this second level of consciousness. Mercury has a different effect. It must of necessity be present in the universe; and, in effect, it exists universally in a subtle state of diffusion.|
|When man intensifies and enhances his relationship to silver by the same process he adopted towards the metallic natures of copper and mercury, he comes into touch with a still deeper organization within him. Mercury relates him to the vascular system which, in turn, relates him to a cosmic circulation, to the spirituality of the Cosmos.|
|GA 243. True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation — The Inner Vitalization of the Soul through the Qualities of the Metallic Nature|
I have attempted to show how man can develop states of consciousness other than those of his everyday life and how the history of evolution provides abundant evidence that in the fields of human knowledge and action, man did not possess the consciousness we have today. Then I tried to call attention to the relationship between the consciousness of the scholars who lived in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries and the manner in which knowledge was fostered in those days, in the School of Chartres, for example. And in this connection I pointed out how there arose forms of perception totally unrelated to our present level of consciousness. Brunetto Latini, Dante's teacher, is a case in point.
Yesterday I tried to recall man's relationship to the universe at an even earlier epoch, in the Mysteries of Ephesus, for example. We learned how entirely different conditions of consciousness prevailed at that time, though related to some extent to the normal scientific consciousness of today.
After this brief digression into history I should now like to continue our investigations. I have already indicated how the metallity, the basic substantiality of the mineral element, is related to man and his conditions of consciousness. Having shown man's relationship to the metal copper, I described the state of consciousness that enables him to participate in the experiences of the so-called dead after death.
We must realize that it was a form of perception such as this which Brunetto Latini experienced in that semi-pathological condition following upon his heat-stroke.
Indeed all that he describes, all that came to him through the inspiration of the Goddess Natura can be attained in that condition of consciousness — so closely related to our everyday consciousness — which is able to share the experiences of the dead immediately after their death. I said that it was a condition of greater reality. We inhabit a world of more powerful impressions, more luminous, a world that brings everything to fuller consummation than the phenomenal world.
We owe it to these factors alone that we can participate in the experiences of the soul which has recently passed through the gates of death.
At the same time, this world reveals a peculiar characteristic. When we inhabit this world in the state of consciousness I have described, we are no longer able to observe the normal experiences of our daily life; we see only that part of our life immediately preceding incarnation — our experiences when still in the spiritual world before birth. We must therefore realize that in this condition of consciousness we are detached from the world which man normally inhabits.
Let me illustrate my point. A man is born at a certain point in time. If, at the age of forty, he develops the copper condition of consciousness — I have already explained this in my lecture of the day before yesterday — his perception is no longer related to the immediate present, nor to his perception at the age of thirty or thirty-five; he can only look back to his experiences immediately before birth. He can do this for himself and others, but he cannot apprehend the world of everyday existence. This is only feasible for human beings.
In relation to animals, we do not see them in their familiar physical form; we look into the world immediately above and perceive what I have called the group-soul. We see, as it were, the aura of the animal species. And when we look out into the world, we find it transformed and discover something which is of supreme importance for mankind, but which is totally ignored in our present materialistic age.
And if, endowed with the highest academic learning in all faculties, we contact that Being who is ever present as the Goddess Natura, that Being so vividly described by the teachers of the School of Chartres, Bernardus Silvestris, Alanus ab Insulis and others, we feel abysmally ignorant despite all our modern knowledge. We feel that our present knowledge is relevant only to the world between birth and death and is no longer valid when we enter into the spiritual world with a consciousness that can follow the dead beyond the gates of death.
When we study chemistry, the sum-total of our knowledge holds good only for the life between birth and death. Chemistry, as such, is of no importance in the world we share with the dead. All the knowledge we acquire in the phenomenal world is valueless in this intermediate state between death and rebirth, it survives only as a memory. We have an immediate awareness of this intermediate sphere we now inhabit and we feel that the everyday world in which we learned so much has faded from our consciousness. This other world now lies open before us.
Let us imagine that a mountain looms up before us in our immediate environment. It gives an impression of solidity. When seen from a distance it reflects the light of the Sun and we note its contours and rock formations. Then we gradually draw nearer. When we set foot on it, we feel that it offers resistance, that we are standing on solid ground; there is no doubt of its reality.
Now in the intermediate world everything that I have described as solid and luminous ceases to have any significance; something seems to be issuing from the mountain, growing ever larger, and gives an impression of another kind of reality.
Under the conditions of normal life we see the mountain capped by a cloud. We are in no doubt that it is caused by condensation of water vapour. This phenomenon also loses all reality. Something different emerges from the cloud. What we see emerging merges with the cloud and mountain which are gradually lost to view. Out of this union is born a new reality that is not merely nebulous, but is at the same time endowed with form. And this applies to everything in this intermediate world.
Suppose we are standing in front of a large audience. The moment we enter the spiritual world all sharply defined contours are effaced. We perceive instead the soul and spirit of the audience projected in the form of clairvoyant images. And the mysterious spiritual aura of the environment gradually encompasses us. A new world arises, the world the dead inhabit after death.
We now become aware of something else. If this intermediate world which we have now entered did not exist, if it were not omnipresent, we should be without eyes and ears, without sense organs. The world described by the chemist and physicist cannot provide us with sense organs; we should be blind and deaf. Our sense organs could not be built up within us.
And this was the surprising discovery of Brunetto Latini when he returned from Spain to the neighbourhood of his native Florence and suffered that slight attack of heat-stroke which opened up to him this intermediate world. He realized that his sense organs were a gift from this other world, that his senses would be wholly undeveloped if this intermediate world did not permeate the world of sense experience. Our human status is determined by the fact that we owe our sense organs to our connection with this second world, this intermediate world.
At all times this second world has been called the world of the Elements. Here the terms oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, etc., are meaningless, they are applicable only to the world between birth and death. In the second world it is only meaningful to speak of the elements earth, water, air, fire and light, and so on. For the specific characteristics of hydrogen, oxygen, etc., are wholly unrelated to the senses. What the chemist discovers about the scent of violets or of asafoetida, namely, that the one is pleasant and the other highly unpleasant, everything named after its chemical composition — none of this is of any significance. In the second world all manifestations of scent or smell are spiritualized. From the standpoint of the second world it would be described as aeriform; but it is a rarefied air, an air wholly permeated by spirit. Our senses therefore are rooted in the world of elements where it is still meaningful to speak of earth, water, fire and air.
We can now correct our previous misapprehensions and develop the right understanding. What is the reaction of the modern philosopher who claims to be both logical and objective and to have abandoned the naive outlook of earlier epochs? He maintains that these earlier conceptions were primitive: in those days men only spoke of the crude elements, earth, water, fire and air, whereas today seventy to eighty elements are known, not a mere four or five.
Now if a Greek with the typical outlook of his time were to be born today and were told of this attitude, his answer would be: Of course, you still speak of the elements such as oxygen and hydrogen, but in your own way. You have forgotten what we understood by the four elements. You are unaware of their composition, you no longer know anything about them. Despite the existence of all your seventy-two or seventy-five elements, the sense organs would never come into being, for they are born out of the four elements. We had a better knowledge of man; we knew how man's external vehicle with its sense organs was built up. —
We can only form a true estimate of the impressions received by men of olden time who had undertaken the first steps in Initiation, such as Brunetto Latini, when we recognize the significance of these impressions for the life of the soul and spirit, when we bear in mind their unexpected and striking effects and how the soul was actively stimulated by them.
If someone who has believed hitherto in the reality of his sense-impressions discovers that this reality could not even have created his sense organs and that behind this reality there must exist all that I have described here, then the effect in the first instance must be shattering.
It is important to realize that we cannot develop such knowledge and understanding if we perpetuate the old sterile conceptions of nature that we normally hold. When we enter into this second world, everything begins to vibrate with life. We say to ourselves: the mountain we knew through sensory experience appeared to be inanimate matter; we were wholly unaware that it was permeated with living forces. Now they are revealed to us. And the cloud that formerly appeared static and inert now manifests that indwelling vital life that we had not perceived before. Everything is quickened and in this weaving, pulsating life there is revealed a fundamental reality.
In this second world the laws of nature are not intellectual constructs; we are in touch with a spiritual Being. The Goddess Natura, who speaks to us, beckons and communicates insights from the world of reality. And in this way we learn about the reality of our environment through beings of a super-sensible world. We are translated from our purely abstract world that is determined by natural law into the real world of being, where we no longer arrive at natural laws by means of experiment and analysis, but feel ourselves in the presence of beings of a different world, beings who mediate knowledge and understanding because they know what we, as human beings, have yet to learn.
We thus enter the spiritual world in the right way. We realize that if we had been endowed only with sense organs, with the eye and its optic nerves, the nose and its olfactory nerves and the ear with its acoustic nerves, and that if all these nerves were connected at their point of origin, we should be unaware of the existence of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and so on, and of all we perceive between birth and death. We would be looking into the world of Elements — everywhere around us we would perceive earth, water, air and fire. We would not have the slightest interest in differentiating further between the solid and the gross material, the fluid and the aqueous element. As beings of physical sensibility we are familiar with the world of Elements. But the moment we become aware of what I have already described, we realize also that in man the sensory nerves which run back to the cranial cavity are more differentiated, more specialized and form in that area the first indications of the brain. In consequence we do not enter more deeply into ourselves; we become more extroverted and add to the nature of the four elements, earth, fire, air and water, our experiences between birth and death.
The cerebrum evolves nom a progressive metamorphosis of the sensory nerve fibres that run back to the cranial cavity. This cerebrum that is rolled back upon itself in man is of importance only for the life between birth and death. For our understanding of the spiritual world the intellect is of minimal importance. If we wish to enter even the first of the spiritual spheres that border on our world the intellect must be silenced. It is an organ that interferes with higher perception. Even when the intellect has been silenced, we cannot escape from sensory experiences; we must now spiritualize the senses and so attain to Imagination. In the normal course of events our senses perceive sense-derived images in the external physical world and the intellect transforms them into dead, abstract thoughts. If we silence the intellect and experience the world again through our senses, we then perceive everything in the form of imaginations. We become aware of this and then we realize that our deeper insights into life are ultimately linked with the development of states of consciousness that are higher and more spiritual than those of ordinary life.
Our peripheral organs, such as the eye and the ear, are continuously in touch with the world of the Elements and still perceive the dead years after their death. The perception of this world is lost, because our intellect intervenes. The peripheral senses of man mediate the spiritual world, the world of the dead. But the perception of this world, the world of the Elements earth, water, fire and air, is obliterated by the intellectual consciousness. Man sees only the physical world with its sharply defined contours, the world we inhabit between birth and death. But there is no doubt that a second world of a very different order does in fact exist. This world, however, is obliterated by the intellect and man looks only upon the familiar world of everyday consciousness.
Therefore modern man must practise the meditation which I mentioned yesterday. In the past it was still the practice after such meditation to administer metallic substances. I spoke of these in my last lecture. The attainment of the next higher level of consciousness depends therefore, in the first instance, upon the obliteration of the intellect and the spiritualization of the perceptions mediated by the sense organs. Since their brain is not developed, the animals also share these perceptions. But they have no ego-consciousness; their perceptions cannot be imbued with spirit, but only with primitive psychic forces. They do not perceive in the world around what man perceives when his senses are illuminated by the spirit. Animal perception is of a similar kind, but inferior and non-individualized.
What I now propose to say about the metallity, the real substantiality of the mineral world, should be accepted with the due reserve to which I drew attention yesterday when I said that the inner vitalization of the soul through the qualities of the metallity — in other words, the development of an inner communion with the metallity in a moral sense — is a necessary part of man's spiritual development today. The administration of metallic potentization to the human organism is the function of the medical practitioner. And so I ask you to accept with due reserve what I shall say about the unknown factors of metals, other than those already discussed. The mystery of mercury in particular has a special significance for those who approach the world from a spiritual angle, that is to say, for those who are able to perceive the spiritual operating in physical substances. The metal mercury is only one part of what spiritual science calls in general terms the mercurial. The mercurial includes everything that has the characteristics of liquid metals; in nature as we know it today, there is only one metal that shares these characteristics and can be regarded as mercurial, namely, quicksilver. But this is only one member of the mercurial species. In spiritual science the mercurial includes everything of a mercurial nature; quicksilver is looked upon simply as a typical example of the mercurial.
This quicksilver or mercury holds a profound secret. Its effect upon man is such that he is isolated from all impressions of the physical world and also from the world of the Elements.
As human beings, we recognize that organs such as the brain have been built up out of the physical world. We have also built up many other organs out of this sense world, in particular, a whole series of glandular organs that are essential to physical life.
Furthermore, many organs — I have already spoken of the sense organs — have been built up out of the world which I described as the world of the second level of consciousness. Copper and iron raise man to this second level of consciousness. Mercury has a different effect. It must of necessity be present in the universe; and, in effect, it exists universally in a subtle state of diffusion. We are surrounded, if I may so express it, by an atmosphere of mercury. The moment man absorbs more than the normal quantity of mercury, his organism endeavours to neutralize all those organs which have been built up from the physical and elemental worlds. The astral body of man is stimulated, as it were, to call upon only those organs that have been built up out of the world of stars.
Therefore, directly the consciousness is concentrated on the metallity of mercury, on its metallic and fluid qualities, on the fundamentally impalpable element that is characteristic of mercury and which, none the less, is related to the human being, man becomes inwardly permeated by a “third man.” I said that through his relationship to copper man is permeated by a second man who creates inner tensions and is able to relinquish the physical body and accompany the dead in the years immediately following their death. Quicksilver attracts to itself everything that can contribute to a far more closely-knit psychic organism. Through the effects of quicksilver man seems to apprehend the entire metabolism of his organs. When he experiences the strong metallic influence of quicksilver, the manner in which the fluids circulate through the various vessels suddenly claims his attention. The effect cannot be described as pleasant, for he feels as if he were bereft of mind and senses, as if everything were active, alive and stirring within him, as if he were in a state of inner ferment, turmoil and flux, pulsating with life and movement. And he feels this inner activity united with an activity without.
This situation, as I have described it, follows upon the conscious training of the inner life. Through the active influence of quicksilver man ceases to feel the presence of his brain; it has become a hollow cavity. That is an advantage for the perception of the spiritual world since the brain is quite useless for this purpose. What he does in fact feel is movement and activity permeating his entire organism. But at first all this ferment is as painful as if one suffered from inner exhaustion.
Everywhere this inner activity is united with an outer activity. We feel we have left the Earth and the world of Elements below us; everything exhales steaming vapour. But spiritual beings dwell in these vaporous, steaming exhalations. The divine Natura whom Brunetto Latini so vividly describes has now “turned about.”
As I said yesterday, she is identical with the Greek Persephone. Formerly she turned her countenance more towards the Earth; she disclosed those things that were still connected with the Earth sphere, such as man's experience of the life immediately after death. Now she “turns about” and man has the Earth and the elemental world beneath him and the world of stars above. Just as on Earth he was surrounded by plants and animals, his environment is now the world of stars. He no longer feels his insignificance in face of the mighty world of stars, but, in his new stature, he feels in relation to the world of stars exactly as he felt in relation to his immediate environment on Earth. With his increase of stature he has grown into the world of stars. But the stars are not as the stars we saw when on Earth; they reveal themselves as colonies of spiritual beings. We are once again in the world I have already described to you, a world that is awakened in man through his relationship with the metallity of tin. There is an inner relationship between mercury and tin as I have already indicated. Mercury lays claim to a certain part of our being, isolates it and bears it into that spiritual world whose external physical manifestation is the world of stars.
But we are now in a different world because the condition of our consciousness has been changed; it is no longer determined by the senses or the brain, but by that which the metallity of mercury has now drawn out of our organism. We find ourselves in a totally different world — the world of stars. I could, however, express this differently. The term “world of stars” has spatial implications; but through the attainment of this new level of consciousness we actually leave behind the world in which we exist spatially between birth and death and now enter the intermediate world, the world we inhabit between death and rebirth.
The hidden secret of mercury lies in this: mercury detaches man from the phenomenal world and opens up the intermediate world because quicksilver or mercury has an inner relationship to that part of man's being which is not derived from this Earth, but has been implanted in him by the beings of the intermediate world. The circulation of the fluids that he now experiences is determined by the world through which he passes between death and a new birth.
We now become a ware of something else, again something that Brunetto Latini perceived under the influence of the Goddess Natura, namely, that we live in the circulation of the fluids which is associated with the circulation of the cosmic fluids. We have relinquished the physical vehicle with its sense-derived consciousness and find ourselves in the realm we inhabit between death and rebirth. We become familiar with the nature of the circulation of fluids and begin to understand how this inner activity, this realm we inhabit between death and rebirth, has determined the nature of our temperament, whether sanguinic, choleric, melancholic or phlegmatic. We have a deeper insight into our make-up than we have when dependent on our senses. If we are born a phlegmatic we now realize that our impassivity, our phlegm, is determined by our experiences between the last death and the present birth. But in relation to this temperament that manifests itself physically in the circulation of the fluids, we must reckon with an additional factor. Consider for a moment what is involved in this circulation of fluids. In the field of anatomy or physiology we are concerned primarily with the physical. The physical is only an expression of the spiritual. But the spiritual element that is related to this circulation of fluids is not of the physical world, it is of the world that penetrates into man between death and rebirth.
When we review the different temperaments — and it was an overwhelming experience for Brunetto Latini when the Goddess Natura opened his eyes to the existence and nature of the temperaments — we conclude that the life between death and rebirth has determined the nature of these various temperaments that we associated with the circulation of the fluids. If we now probe deeper, we find that karma, the arbiter of destiny, plays its part in this.
If we contemplate the physical aspect of this remarkable metallic fluid mercury, we only begin to understand it when we are fully aware of its hidden secret: that a minute drop of liquid mercury reveals to the Initiate a profound relationship. This drop is able to infuse the spiritual into those organs that derive their structure and origin from the world between death and rebirth.
Thus all things in the world are interwoven and interrelated after this fashion. The physical is an illusion. And from the standpoint of the physical, the spiritual too is only an illusion, an abstraction. In actual fact the physical is interwoven with the spiritual and the spiritual with the physical.
If a human organism has been damaged because those organs are involved which are derived, in effect, from the intermediate realm, we must activate those forces which will repair the damage.
Let us assume that a doctor is consulted by a patient with a defective circulatory system that has its origin in the life between death and rebirth. He is confronted with a patient whose circulatory system has severed its link with the spiritual world. That is the case history. A spiritual diagnosis is made. The relation between the spiritual element and the physical diagnosis must be understood in the sense which I suggested yesterday. I repeat this again so that there shall be no misunderstanding. The diagnosis is as follows: the circulatory system of this patient has made a radical break with the spiritual world. What is to be done?
The correct treatment is to introduce the metallity into the body that will restore the connection between the circulatory system and the spiritual world. This is how mercury works upon man. Mercury works upon the human organism in such a way that those organs which can only be built up out of the spiritual world can again be brought into contact with that same world when they have severed their connection with it. Thus we see the somewhat dangerous, yet at the same time necessary relationship that exists between the knowledge of the states of consciousness in man and the knowledge of diseases. The one passes over into the other.
These things played a vital part in the ancient Mysteries and they also shed light upon such matters as I mentioned yesterday. Consider the following: in an age that had lost the old spiritual vision that recognized the Goddess Natura through her teachings about the secrets of nature, Brunetto Latini, the teacher of Dante, returns in a state of agitation from his ambassadorial post in Spain. As he approaches his native city his agitation increases because he hears of the fate of his own party, the Guelph party. He experiences all this in such a state of mind that a slight heat-stroke overcame him. The metallity of mercury has simply worked upon him from the environment.
What do we understand by a slight heat-stroke? It means that we feel the effect of the mercury in our environment, the mercury that is finely distributed throughout the Cosmos. Brunetto Latini experienced this effect and in consequence he was able to approach the spiritual world in an epoch when it was normally impossible for man to share this experience. Thus we see that in man there exists something that is related not only to the findings of natural science, not only to the disclosures of the person who is in contact with the dead in the first years after their death, but that our fundamental being is in touch with something far more sublime, a purely spiritual realm that we live through between death and rebirth. If we follow the ordinary scientific procedure we can understand the form of the liver or the lung, for example. With the aid of the next higher level of knowledge (that is known to modern physics only in its cruder aspects) we can understand the structure of the sense organs. But we shall never comprehend the peculiar characteristics of the circulatory system of man with his erect posture nor the mysteries of the metallic nature if we do not approach them through Initiation-knowledge.
This implies that we shall never understand the nature of disease in the sense I have described without Initiation-knowledge, for the physical properties of metals cannot cure disease. With an understanding of the physical attributes of metals it may well be possible to heal cerebral damage, but not disturbances of the circulatory fluids. What I have been saying is, in fact, not strictly accurate, for it is only the coarsest substance of the brain that can be healed. Fluids also circulate in the brain; therefore, in reality, one cannot heal cerebral damage with metals alone, but only with the aid of spiritual knowledge.
That may well be true, you will reply, but how do you account for the positive achievements of medicine today in the art of healing? The answer is that medicine is able to heal because it still preserves a memory of the old traditional knowledge about the spiritual elements in metals. It uses a combination of traditional knowledge and purely physical discoveries, though these are of not much avail. And if materialism were to triumph at the expense of tradition, chemical remedies alone could not effect any healing. We are now at the point in human evolution when we must make a new approach to the spiritual, because the old traditions of primordial clairvoyance have gradually been lost.
The mystery behind the metallity of silver is of a very special kind. If the cosmic impulse behind copper awakens the first higher level of consciousness in the being of man, if a different cosmic force behind mercury awakens a second higher level of consciousness that is related to the world of stars and therefore to the spiritual world which we inhabit between death and rebirth, then the metallity of silver must awaken a consciousness of an entirely different order.
When man intensifies and enhances his relationship to silver by the same process he adopted towards the metallic natures of copper and mercury, he comes into touch with a still deeper organization within him. Mercury relates him to the vascular system which, in turn, relates him to a cosmic circulation, to the spirituality of the Cosmos. The intensification of his relationship to silver brings him into direct contact with all the forces and impulses that survive from earlier incarnations.
If a man concentrates on the peculiar properties of silver — and it is some time before the effects are registered — he concentrates within himself those forces which are responsible not only for the circulation of fluids through the vessels, but also for the circulation of warmth in the bloodstream. He then realizes that he owes his human status to the warmth circulating in his blood, in that he feels a certain inner warmth, a material, yet at the same time a spiritual element within his blood; and that in this warmth forces from former incarnations are actively working. In man's relationship to silver is expressed that which can influence the warmth-activity of the blood and also that which provides a spiritual link with earlier incarnations.
Silver therefore preserves that metallic virtue which reminds man of what survives in his present life from earlier incarnations. For the circulation of the blood with its remarkable warmth-differentiations is not derived from this physical world, nor from the world of Elements which I have described to you, nor even from the world of stars. The world of stars determines the course and direction of the blood circulation. But in the warmth of the blood that circulates within us there works the vitalizing force from previous lives on Earth. It is to this we appeal directly when we refer to forces of silver in their relationship to man. Thus the mystery of silver is related to his previous incarnations. Silver is one of the most astounding examples .of the all-pervasiveness of the spiritual, even in the physical world. He who has a right understanding of silver knows that it is the symbol of the cycles of man's lives on Earth. Hence the mystery of silver is bound up with reproduction and its secrets, because through the process of reproduction the being of man is perpetuated from generation to generation. The spiritual being who existed in former lives on Earth incarnates again through the process of reproduction. This is the same mystery as the mystery of blood. The mystery of the blood, of the warmth of the blood, is the mystery of silver.
We are now familiar with the normal condition of man. Let us proceed to a study of his pathological states. Now the blood should not take its warmth from man's present environment, but from the spheres through which he has passed in previous incarnations. Let us suppose that the warmth of his blood is affected by his present environment and is not activated by that which links us spiritually to previous incarnations. Pathological conditions then ensue. They occur because all that is connected with the warmth of the blood is severed from its natural associations, from earlier lives on Earth. What is fever? From the stand point of spiritual science fever occurs because the human organization has severed its relation with the cycle of incarnations. If, in some cases of illness, the doctor ascertains that the external world has worked upon the patient in such a way that his organization is in danger of being cut off from earlier incarnations, then the doctor administers silver as a remedy. A very interesting case of this nature occurred recently in Dr. Wegman's Clinic in Arlesheim. A condition such as I have described may suddenly occur in the spiritual life. Through external circumstances the human organization, owing to the peculiar characteristics of the blood, threatens to break away from previous incarnations. And this is precisely what happened recently in a particular case in Dr. Wegman's Clinic. A patient who was convalescent suddenly developed an unexpectedly high temperature, a fever of unknown origin as it is described by orthodox medicine. With her intuitive understanding Dr. Wegman immediately administered a silver cure. When she told me about it the case revealed a complete picture of cosmic relationships. We learn from this of the interplay between what is connected with the spiritual evolution of man on the one hand, and on the other hand, with what leads to pathological conditions; and we learn how to treat them.
How is it that the Initiate is able to survey former lives on Earth? So long as we are bound up with earlier incarnations, as is the case in ordinary life, and are still involved in their karma, we cannot look back upon our earthly incarnations with our ordinary consciousness. The effects of these incarnations are felt in our present life. We fulfil our karma under their influence and our life is determined by karma. We cannot look back without ordinary consciousness, but, if we wish to do so, we must throw off its limitations for a time. And when we can see the earlier lives objectively, we are in a position to look back.
We must, of course, be able to restore the status quo in a perfectly normal way, otherwise we become psychopaths, not initiates.
Here we have a phenomenon that arises in the course of spiritual development. We cast off our spiritual moorings that attach us to previous incarnations. In abnormal cases and under pathological conditions disease has this effect. Disease is an abnormal expression of that which we must develop normally in a higher sphere in order to attain spiritual vision and other levels of consciousness. If the blood, isolated from the rest of man's organism, surrenders to the dictates of its consciousness — for blood possesses a consciousness of its own, even as other organs have their own particular states of consciousness — if, then, the blood is freed from the bondage of the rest of the organism, it can look back in this abnormal state into earlier incarnations, but not consciously. In order to look back consciously we must first dispense with normal consciousness; when we look back in a pathological condition the link with normal consciousness will be preserved.
The study, for example, of the metallity of silver which is an excellent remedy for all diseases associated with karma, leads on from the mystery of silver to other profound mysteries. We have thus spoken of virtually all those metallic natures that are related to the various conditions of consciousness in man. We will now extend our investigations into these conditions of consciousness, into the relationship to other worlds which man can establish through these conditions. In other words we propose in the next lectures to study in further detail the right path to spiritual knowledge.
|GA 200. The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the Twentieth Century — Lecture IV|
|And what Schiller characterizes abstractly as the middle condition, Goethe portrays in the building of the temple in which rule the King of Wisdom (the Golden King), the King of Semblance (the Silver King), the King of Power (the Copper King) and in which the Mixed King falls to pieces. Goethe wanted to deal with this in a pictorial way. And we have, in a certain sense, an indication — but in the Goethean way — of the fact that the outer structure of human society must not be monolithic but must be a threefoldness if the human being is to thrive in it.|
|Of course, the threefold social order does not yet exist but Goethe gives the form he would like to ascribe to it in these three kings; in the Golden, the Silver, and the Copper King. And what cannot hold together he gives in the Mixed King. But it is no longer possible to give things in this way. I have shown this in my first Mystery Drama which, in essence, deals with the same theme but in the way required by the beginning of the twentieth century, whereas Goethe wrote his Fairy-tale at the end of the eighteenth century.|
|But, fundamentally, the whole of Central European civilization wavers in the whirlpool in which East and West swirl and interpenetrate one another. From the East the sphere of the Golden King; from the West the sphere of the Copper King. From the East, Wisdom; from the West, Power. And in the middle is what Goethe represented in the Silver King, in Semblance; that which imbues itself with reality only with great difficulty. It was this semblance-nature of Central European civilization which lay as the tragic mood at the bottom of Goethe's soul.|
|GA 200. The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the Twentieth Century — Lecture IV|
As early as 1891 I drew attention to the relation between Schiller's Aesthetic Letters and Goethe's Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. I would like today to point to a certain connection between what I gave yesterday as the characteristic of the civilization of the Central-European countries in contrast to the Western and Eastern ones and what arises in quite a unique way in Goethe and Schiller. I characterized, on the one hand, the seizure of the human corporality by the spirits of the West and, on the other hand, the feeling of those spiritual beings who, as imaginations, as spirits of the East, work inspiringly into Eastern civilization. And one can notice both these aspects in the leading personalities of Goethe and Schiller. I will only point out in addition how in Schiller's Aesthetic Letters he seeks to characterize a human soul-constitution which shows a certain middle mood between one possibility in the human being — his being completely given over to instincts, to the sensible-physical — and the other possibility — that of being given over to the logical world of reason. Schiller holds that, in both cases, the human being cannot come to freedom. For if he has completely surrendered himself to the world of the senses, to the world of instincts, of desires, he is given over to his bodily-physical nature and is unfree. But he is also unfree when he surrenders himself completely to the necessity of reason, to logical necessity; for then he is coerced under the tyranny of the laws of logic. But Schiller wants to point to a middle state in which the human being has spiritualized his instincts to such a degree that he can give himself up to them without their dragging him down, without their enslaving him, and in which, on the other hand, logical necessity is taken up into sense perception (sinnliche Anschauen), taken up into personal desires (Triebe), so that these logical necessities do not also enslave the human being.
Schiller finds this middle state in the condition of aesthetic enjoyment and aesthetic creation, in which the human being can come to true freedom.
It is an extremely important fact that Schiller's whole treatise arose out of the same European mood as did the French Revolution. The same thing which, in the West, expressed itself tumultuously as a large political movement orientated towards external upheaval and change also moved Schiller — but moved him in such a way that he sought to answer the question: What must the human being do in himself in order to become a truly free being? In the West they asked: How must the external social conditions be changed so that the human being can become free? Schiller asked: What must the human being become in himself so that, in his constitution of soul, he can live in (darleben) freedom? And he sees that if human beings are educated to this middle mood they will also represent a social community governed by freedom. Schiller thus wishes to realize a social community in such a way that free conditions are created through [the inner nature of] human beings and not through outer measures.
Schiller came to this composition of his Aesthetic Letters through his schooling in Kantian philosophy. His was indeed a highly artistic nature, but in the 1780s and the beginning of the 1790s he was strongly influenced by Kant and tried to answer such questions for himself in a Kantian way (im Kantischen Sinne). Now the Aesthetic Letters were written just at the time when Goethe and Schiller were founding the magazine Die Horen (The Hours) and Schiller lays the Aesthetic Letters before Goethe.
Now we know that Goethe's soul-configuration was quite different from Schiller's. It was precisely because of the difference of their soul-constitutions that these two became so close. Each could give to the other just that which the other lacked. Goethe now received Schiller's Aesthetic Letters in which Schiller wished to answer the question: How can the human being come inwardly to a free inner constitution of soul and outwardly to free social conditions? Goethe could not make much of Schiller's philosophical treatise. This way of presenting concepts, of developing ideas, was not unfamiliar to him. Anyone who, like myself, has seen how Goethe's own copy of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is filled with underlinings and marginal comments knows how Goethe had really studied this work of Kant's which was abstract, but in a completely different sense. And just as he seems to have been able to take works such as these purely as study material, so, of course, he could also have taken Schiller's Aesthetic Letters. But this was not the point. For Goethe this whole construction of the human being — on the one hand logical necessity and on the other the senses with their sensual needs, as Schiller said, and the third, the middle condition — for Goethe this was all far too cut and dried, far too simplistic. He felt that one could not picture the human being so simply, or present human development so simply, and thus he wrote to Schiller that he did not want to treat the problem, this whole riddle, in such a philosophical, intellectual form, but more pictorially. Goethe then treated this same problem in picture form — as reply, as it were, to Schiller's Aesthetic Letters — in his Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily by presenting the two realms on this and on the far side of the river, in a pictorial, rich and concrete way; the same thing that Schiller presents as sense-life and the life of reason. And what Schiller characterizes abstractly as the middle condition, Goethe portrays in the building of the temple in which rule the King of Wisdom (the Golden King), the King of Semblance (the Silver King), the King of Power (the Copper King) and in which the Mixed King falls to pieces. Goethe wanted to deal with this in a pictorial way. And we have, in a certain sense, an indication — but in the Goethean way — of the fact that the outer structure of human society must not be monolithic but must be a threefoldness if the human being is to thrive in it. What in a later epoch had to emerge as the threefold social order is given here by Goethe still in the form of an image. Of course, the threefold social order does not yet exist but Goethe gives the form he would like to ascribe to it in these three kings; in the Golden, the Silver, and the Copper King. And what cannot hold together he gives in the Mixed King.
But it is no longer possible to give things in this way. I have shown this in my first Mystery Drama which, in essence, deals with the same theme but in the way required by the beginning of the twentieth century, whereas Goethe wrote his Fairy-tale at the end of the eighteenth century.
Now, however, it is already possible to indicate in a certain way — even though Goethe had not himself yet done so — how the Golden King would correspond to that aspect of the social organism which we call the spiritual aspect: how the King of Semblance, the Silver King, would correspond to the political State: how the King of Power, the Copper King, would correspond to the economic aspect, and how the Mixed King, who disintegrates, represents the 'Uniform State' which can have no permanence in itself.
This was how, in images, Goethe pointed to what would have to arise as the threefold social order. Goethe thus said, as it were, when he received Schiller's Aesthetic Letters: One cannot do it like this. You, dear friend, picture the human being far too simplistically. You picture three forces. This is not how it is with the human being. If one wishes to look at the richly differentiated inner nature of the human being, one finds about twenty forces — which Goethe then presents in his twenty archetypal fairy-tale figures — and one must then portray the interplay and interaction of these twenty forces in a much less abstract way.
Thus at the end of the eighteenth century we have two presentations of the same thing. One by Schiller, from the intellect as it were, though not in the usual way that people do things from the intellect, but such that the intellect is permeated here with feeling and soul, is permeated by the whole human being. Now there is a difference between some dry, average, professional philistine presenting something on the human being in psychological terms, where only the head thinks about the matter, and Schiller, out of an experience of the whole human being, forming for himself the ideal of a human constitution of soul and thereby only transforming into intellectual concepts what he actually feels.
It would be impossible to go further on the path taken by Schiller using logic or intellectual analysis without becoming philistine and abstract. In every line of these Aesthetic Letters there is still the full feeling and sensibility of Schiller. It is not the stiff Königsberg approach of Immanuel Kant with dry concepts; it is profundity in intellectual form transformed into ideas. But should one take it just one step further one would come into the intellectual mechanism that is realized in the usual science of today in which, basically, behind what is structured and developed intellectually, the human being has no more significance. It thus becomes a matter of no importance whether Professor A or D or X deals with the subject because what is presented does not arise from the whole human being. In Schiller everything still has a totally personal (urpersönlich) nature, even into the intellect. Schiller lives there in a phase — indeed, in an evolutionary point of the modern development of humanity which is of essential importance — because Schiller stops just short of something into which humanity later fell completely.
Let us show diagramatically what might be meant here. One could say: This is the general tendency of human evolution (arrow pointing upwards). Yet it cannot go [straight] like this — portrayed only schematically — but loops round into a lemniscate (blue). But it cannot go on like that — there must, if evolution takes this course, be continually new impulses Antriebe) which move the lemniscates up along the line.
Schiller, having arrived at this point here (see diagram), would have gone into a dark blue, as it were, of mere abstraction, of intellectuality, had he proceeded further in objectifying what he felt inwardly. But he drew a halt and paused with his forms of reasoning just at that point at which the personality is not lost. Thus, this did not become blue but, on a higher level of the Personality — which I will colour with red (see diagram) — was turned into green.
Thus one can say: Schiller held back with his intellectuality just before that point at which intellectuality tries to emerge in its purity. Otherwise he would have fallen into the usual intellect of the nineteenth century. Goethe expressed the same thing in images, in wonderful images, in his Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. But he, too, stopped at the images. He could not bear these pictures to be in any way criticized because, for him, what he perceived and felt about the individual human element and the social life, did simply present itself in such pictures. But he was allowed to go no further than these images. For had he, from his standpoint, tried to go further he would have come into wild, fantastic daydreams. The subject would no longer have had definite contours; it would no longer have been applicable to real life but would have risen above and beyond it. It would have become rapturous fantasy. One could say that Goethe had to avoid the other chasm, in which he would have come completely into a fantastic red. Thus he adds that element which is non-personal — that which keeps the pictures in the realm of the imaginative — and thereby came also to the green.
Expressing it schematically, Schiller had, as it were, avoided the blue, the Ahrimanic-intellectuality; Goethe had avoided the red, excessive rapturousness, and kept to concrete imaginative pictures.
As a human being of Central Europe, Schiller had con-fronted the spirits of the West. They wanted to lead him astray into the solely intellectual. Kant had succumbed to this. I spoke about this recently and indicated how Kant had succumbed to the intellectuality of the West through David Hume. Schiller had managed to work himself clear of this even though he allowed himself to be taught by Kant. He stayed at the point that is not mere intellectuality.
Goethe had to do battle with the other spirits, with the spirits of the East, who pulled him towards imaginations. Because at that time spiritual science was not yet present on the earth he could not go further than to the web of imaginations in the Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. But even here he managed to remain within firm contours. He did not go off into wild fantasy or ecstasies. He gave himself a new and fruitful stimulus through his journey to the South where much of the legacy from the Orient was still preserved. He learnt how the spirits of the East still worked here as a late blossoming of oriental culture; in Greek art as he construed this for himself from Italian works of art. It can therefore be said that there was something quite unique in this bond of friendship between Schiller and Goethe. Schiller had to battle with the spirits of the West; he did not yield to them but held back and did not fall into mere intellectuality. Goethe had to battle with the spirits of the East; they tried to pull him into ecstatic reveries zum Schwärmerischen). He, too, held back; he kept to the images which he gives in his Fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Goethe would have had either to succumb to rapturous daydreams (Schwärmerei) or to take up oriental revelation. Schiller would have had either to become completely intellectual or would have had to take seriously what he became — it is well known that he was made a 'French citizen' by the revolutionary government but that he did not take the matter very seriously.
We see here how, at an important point of European development, these two soul-constitutions, which I have characterized for you, stand side by side. They live anyway, so to speak, in every significant Central-European individuality but in Schiller and Goethe they stand in a certain way simultaneously side by side. Schiller and Goethe remained, as it were, at this point, for it just required the intercession of spiritual science to raise the curve of the lemniscate (see diagram) to a higher level.
And thus, in a strange way, in Schiller's three conditions — the condition of the necessity of reason, the condition of the necessity of instincts and that of the free aesthetic mood — and in Goethe's three kings — the Golden King, the Silver King, and the Copper King — we see a prefiguration of everything that we must find through spiritual science concerning the threefold nature of the human being as well as the threefold differentiation of the social community representing, as these do, the most immediate and essential aims and problems of the individual human being and of the way human beings live together.
These things direct us indeed to the fact that this threefolding of the social organism is not brought to the surface arbitrarily but that even the finest spirits of modern human evolution have already moved in this direction. But if there were only the ideas about the social questions such as those in Goethe's Fairy-tale and nothing more one would never come to an impetus for actual outer action. Goethe was at the point of overcoming mere revelations. In Rome he did not become a Catholic but raised himself up to his imaginations. But he stopped there, with just pictures. And Schiller did not become a revolutionary but a teacher of the inner human being. He stopped at the point where intellect is still suffused with the personality.
Thus, in a later phase of European culture, there was still something at work which can be perceived also in ancient times and most clearly, for modern people, in the culture of ancient Greece. Goethe also strove towards this Greek element. In Greece one can see how the social element is presented in myth — that is, also in picture form. But the Greek myth, basically, Is image in the same way that Goethe's Fairy-tale is image. It is not possible with these images to work into the social organism in a reforming way. One can only describe as an idealist, as it were, what ought to take shape. But the images are too frail a structure to enable one to act strongly and effectively in the shaping of the social organism. For this very reason the Greeks did not believe that their social questions were met by remaining in the images of the myths. And it is here, when one follows this line of investigation, that one comes to an important point in Greek development.
One could put it like this: for everyday life, where things go on in the usual way, the Greeks considered themselves dependant on their gods, on the spirits of their myths. When, however, it was a matter of deciding something of great importance, then the Greeks said: Here it is not those gods who work into imaginations and are the gods of the myths that can determine the matter; here something real must come to light. And so the Oracle arose. The gods were not pictured here merely imaginatively but were called upon (veranlasst) really to inspire people. And it was with the sayings of the Oracle that the Greeks concerned themselves when they wanted to receive social impulses. Here they ascended from imagination to inspiration, but an inspiration which they attained by means of outer nature. We modern human beings must certainly also endeavour to lift ourselves up to inspiration; an inspiration, however, that does not call upon outer nature in oracles but which rises to the spirit in order to be inspired in the sphere of the spirit. But just as the Greeks turned to reality in matters of the social sphere — just as they did not stop at imaginations but ascended to inspirations — so we, too, cannot stop at imaginations but must rise up to inspirations if we are to find anything for the well-being of human society in the modern age.
And we come here to another point which is important to look at. Why did Schiller and Goethe both stop at a certain point — the one on the path towards the intellectual (Verstandiges) and the other on the path to the imaginative? Neither of them had spiritual science; otherwise Schiller would have been able to advance to the point of permeating his concepts in a spiritual-scientific way and he would then have found: something much more real in his three soul-conditions than the three abstractions in his Aesthetic Letters. Goethe would have filled imagination with what speaks out in all reality from the spiritual world and would have been able to penetrate to the forms of the social life which wish to be put into effect from the spiritual world — to the spiritual element in the social organism, the Golden King; to the political element in the social organism, the Silver King; and to the economic element, the Bronze, the Copper, King.
The age in which Goethe and Schiller pressed forward to these insights — the one in the Aesthetic Letters and the other in the Fairy-tale — was not yet able to go any further. For, in order to penetrate further, there is something quite definite that must first be realized. People have to see what becomes of the world if one continues along Schiller's path up to the full elaboration (Ausgestaltung) of the impersonally intellectual. The nineteenth century developed it to being with in natural science and the second half of the nineteenth century already began to try to realize it in outer public affairs. There is a significant secret here. In the human organism what is ingested is also finally destroyed. We cannot simply go on eating but must also excrete; the substance we take in has to meet with destruction, has to be destroyed, and has then to leave the organism. And the intellectual is that which — and here comes a complication — as soon as it gets hold of the economic life in the uniform State, in the Mixed King, destroys that economic life.
But we are now living in the time in which the intellect must evolve. We could not come to the development of the consciousness-soul in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch without developing the intellect. And it is the Western peoples that have just this task of bringing the intellect into the economic life. What does this mean? We cannot order modern economic life imaginatively, in the way that Goethe did in his Fairy-tale, because we have to shape it through the intellect (verständig). Because in economics we cannot but help to go further along the path which Schiller took, though in his case he went only as far as the still-personal outbreathing of the intellect. We have to establish an economic life which, because it has to come from the intellect, of necessity works destructively in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. In the present age there is no economic life that could be run imaginatively like that of the Orient or the economy of medieval Europe. Since the middle of the fifteenth century we have only had the possibility of an economic life which, whether existing alone or mixed with the other limbs of the social organism, works destructively. There is no other way. Let us therefore look on this economic life as the side of the scales that would sink far down and therefore has to work destructively. But there also has to be a balance. For this reason we must have an economic life that is one part of the social organism, and a spiritual life which holds the balance, which builds up again. If one clings today to the uniform State, the economic life will absorb this uniform State together with the spiritual life, and uniform States like these must of necessity lead to destruction. And when, like Lenin and Trotsky, one founds a State purely out of the intellect it must lead to destruction because the intellect is directed solely to the economic life.
This was felt by Schiller as he thought out his social conditions. Schiller felt: If I go further in the power of the intellect (verständesmassiges Können) I will come into the economic life and will have to apply the intellect to it. I will not then be portraying what grows and thrives but what lives in destruction. Schiller shrank back before the destruction. He stopped just at the point where destruction would break in. People of today invent all sorts of social economic systems but are not aware, because they lack the sensitivity of feeling for it, that every economic system like this that they think up leads to destruction; leads definitely to destruction if it is not constantly renewed by an independent, developing spiritual life which ever and ever again works as a constructive element in relation to the destruction, the excretion, of the economic life. The working together of the spiritual limb of the social organism with the economic element is described in this sense in my Towards Social Renewal (Kernpunkte der Sozialen Frage). 6 See Towards Social Renewal, 1919, (GA 23). For what follows on here, see Chapter Two.
If, with the modern intellectuality of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, people were to hold on to capital even when they themselves could no longer manage it, the economic life itself would cause it to circulate. Destruction would inevitably have to come. This is where the spiritual life has to intervene; capital must be transferred via the spiritual life to those who are engaged in its administration. This is the inner meaning of the threefolding of the social organism; namely that, in a properly thought out threefold social organism, one should be under no illusion that the economic thinking of the present is a destructive element which must, therefore, be continually counterbalanced by the constructive element of the spiritual limb of the social organism.
In every generation, in the children whom we teach at school, something is given to us; something is sent down from the spiritual world. We take hold of this in education — this is something spiritual — and incorporate it into the economic life and thereby ward off its destruction. For the economic life, if it runs its own course, destroys itself. This is how we must look at things. Thus we must see how at the end of the eighteenth century there stood Goethe and Schiller. Schiller said to himself: I must pull back, I must not describe a social system which calls merely on the personal intellect. I must keep the intellect within the personality, otherwise I would describe economic destruction. And Goethe: I want sharply contoured images, not excessive vague ones. For if I were to go any further along that path I would come into a condition that is not on the earth, that does not take hold with any effect on life itself. I would leave the economic life below me like something lifeless and would found a spiritual life that is incapable of reaching into the immediate circumstances of life.
Thus we are living in true Goetheanism when we do not stop at Goethe but also share the development in which Goethe himself took part since 1832. I have indicated this fact — that the economic life today continually works towards its own destruction and that this destruction must be continually counterbalanced. I have indicated this in a particular place in my Towards Social Renewal. But people do not read things properly. They think that this book is written in the same way most books are written today — that one can just read it through. Every sentence in a book such as this, written out of practical insight, requires to be thoroughly thought through!
But if one takes these two things [Goethe's Fairy-tale and Schiller's Aesthetic Letters], Schiller's Aesthetic Letters were little understood in the time that followed them. I have often spoken about this. People gave them little attention. Otherwise the study of Schiller's Aesthetic Letters would have been a good way of coming into what you find in my Knowledge of the Higher Worlds — How is it Achieved? Schiller's Aesthetic Letters would be a good preparation for this. And likewise, Goethe's Fairy-tale could also be the preparation for acquiring that configuration of thinking (Geisteskonfiguration) which can arise not merely from the intellect but from still deeper forces, and which would be really able to understand something like Towards Social Renewal. For both Schiller and Goethe sensed something of the tragedy of Central European civilization — certainly not consciously, but they sensed it nevertheless. Both felt — and one can read this everywhere in Goethe's conversations with Eckermann, with Chancellor von Müller , and in numerous other comments by Goethe — that if something like a new impulse from the spirit did not arise, like a new comprehension of Christianity, then everything must go into decline. A great deal of the resignation which Goethe felt in his later years is based, without doubt, on this mood.
And those who, without spiritual science, have become Goetheanists feel how, in the very nature of German Central Europe, this singular working side by side of the spirits of the West and the spirits of the East is particularly evident. I said yesterday that in Central European civilization the balance sought by later Scholasticism between rational knowledge and revelation is attributable to the working of the spirits of the West and the spirits of the East. We have seen today how this shows itself in Goethe and Schiller. But, fundamentally, the whole of Central European civilization wavers in the whirlpool in which East and West swirl and interpenetrate one another. From the East the sphere of the Golden King; from the West the sphere of the Copper King. From the East, Wisdom; from the West, Power. And in the middle is what Goethe represented in the Silver King, in Semblance; that which imbues itself with reality only with great difficulty. It was this semblance-nature of Central European civilization which lay as the tragic mood at the bottom of Goethe's soul. And Herman Grimm, who also did not know spiritual science, gave in a beautiful way, out of his sensitive feeling for Goethe whom he studied, a fine characterization of Central-European civilization. He saw how it had the peculiarity of being drawn into the whirlpool of the spirits of the East and the spirits of the West. This was the effect of preventing the will from coming into its own and leads to the constantly vacillating mood of German history. Herman Grimm 8 Herman Grimm (1828–1902). The quotations are from his essay Heinrich von Treitschke's German History (Heinrich von Treitschhes Deutsche Geschichte) in Contributions to German Cultural History, (Beitrage zur Deutschen Kultur-geschichte) Berlin, 1897, page. 5 puts it beautifully when he says: 'To Treitschke German history is the incessant striving towards spiritual and political unity and, on the path towards this, the incessent interference by our own deepest inherent peculiarities.' This is what Herman Grimm says, experiencing himself as a German. And he describes this further as 'Always the same way in our nature to oppose where we should give way and to give way where resistance is called for. The remarkable forgetting of what has just past. Suddenly no longer wanting what, a moment ago, was vigorously striven for. A disdain for the present, but strong, indefinite hope. Added to this the tendency to give ourselves over to the foreigner and, no sooner having done so, then exercising an unconscious, determining (massgebende) influence on the foreigners to whom we had subjected ourselves.'
When, today, one has to do with Central European civilization and would like to arrive at something through it, one is everywhere met by the breath of this tragic element which is betrayed by the whole history of the German, the Central European element, between East and West. It is everywhere still so today that, with Herman Grimm, one can say: There is the urge to resist where one should give way and to give way where resistance is needed.
This is what arises from the vacillating human beings of the Centre; from what, between economics and the reconstructing spirit-life, stands in the middle as the rhythmical oscillating to and fro of the political. Because the civic-political element has celebrated its triumph in these central countries, it is here that a semblance lives which can easily become illusion. Schiller, in writing his Aesthetic Letters, did not want to abandon semblance. He knew that where one deals purely with the intellect, one comes into the destruction of the economic life. In the eighteenth century that part was destroyed which could be destroyed by the French Revolution; in the nineteenth century it would be much worse. Goethe knew that he must not go into wild fantasies but keep to true imagination. But in the vacillation between the two sides of this duality, which arises in the swirling, to and fro movement of the spirits of the West and of the East, there is easily generated an atmosphere of illusion. It does not matter whether this illusionary atmosphere emerges in religion, in politics or in militarism; in the end it is all the same whether the ecstatic enthusiast produces some sort of mysticism or enthuses in the way Ludendorff did without standing on the ground of reality. And, finally, one an also meet it in a pleasing way. For the same place in Herman Grimm which I just read out continues as follows: 'You can see it today: no one seemed to be so completely severed from their homeland as the Germans who became Americans, and yet American life, into which our emigrants dissolved, stands today under the influence of the German spirit.'
Thus writes the brilliant Herman Grimm in 1895 when it was only out of the worst illusion that one could believe that the Germans who went to America would give American life a German colouring. For already, long before this, there had been prepared what then emerged in the second decade of the twentieth century: that the American element completely submerged what little the Germans had been able to bring in.
And the illusionary nature of this remark by Herman Grimm becomes all the greater when one finally bears in mind the following. Herman Grimm makes this comment from a Goethean way of thinking (Gesinnung), for he had modelled himself fully on Goethe. But he had a certain other quality. Anyone who knows Herman Grimm more closely knows that in his style, in his whole way of expressing himself, in his way of thinking, he had absorbed a great deal of Goethe, but not Goethe's real and penetrating quality — for Grimm's descriptions are such that what he actually portrays are shadow pictures, not real human beings. But he has something else in him, not just Goethe. And what is it that Herman Grimm has in himself? Americanism! For what he had in his style, in his thought-forms, apart from Goethe he has from early readings of Emerson. Even his sentence structure, his train of thought, is copied from the American, Emerson.
Thus, Herman Grimm is under this double illusion, in the realm of the Silver King of Semblance. At a time when all German influence has been expunged from America he fondly believes that America has been Germanized, when in fact he himself has quite a strong vein of Americanism in him.
Thus there is often expressed in a smaller, more intimate context what exists in a less refined form in external culture at large. A crude Darwinism, a crude economic thinking, has spread out there and would in the end, if the threefolding of the social organism fails to come, lead to ruin — for an economic life constructed purely intellectually must of necessity lead to ruin. And anyone who, like Oswald Spengler, thinks in the terms of this economic life can prove scientifically that at the beginning of the third millenium the modern civilized world — which today is actually no longer so very civilized — will have had to sink into the most desolate barbarity. For Spengler knows nothing of what the world must receive as an impulse, as a spiritual impulse.
But the spiritual science and the spiritual-scientific culture which not only wishes to enter, but must enter, the world today still has an extremely difficult task getting through. And everywhere those who wish to prevent this spiritual science from arising assert themselves. And, basically, there are only a few energetic workers in the field of spiritual science whereas the Others, who lead into the works of destruction, are full of energy.
One only has to see how people of today are actually completely at a loss in the face of what comes up in the life of Present civilization. It is characteristic, for instance, how a newspaper of Eastern Switzerland carried articles on my lectures on The Boundaries of Natural Science during the course at the School of Spiritual Science. And now, in the town where the newspaper is published, Arthur Drews , the copy-cat of Eduard von Hartmann, holds lectures in which he has never done anything more than rehash Eduard von Hartmann, the philosopher of the unconscious. 13Eduard von Hartmann (1842–1906), Philosophie des Unbewucsten: Versuch einer Weltanschauung (Philosophy of the Unconscious: An Attempt at a World-View), Berlin, 1869. In the case of Hartmann it is interesting. In the case of the rehasher it is, of course, highly superfluous. And this philosophical hollow-headedness working at Karlsruhe University is now busying itself with anthroposophically-orientated spiritual science.
And how does the modern human being — I would particularly like to emphasize this — confront these things? Well, we have listened to one person, we now go and listen to someone else. This means that, for the modern human being, it is all a matter of indifference, and this is a terrible thing. Whether the rehasher of Eduard von Hartmann, Arthur Drews, has something against Anthroposophy or not is not the important point — for what the man can have against Anthroposophy can be fully construed beforehand from his books, not a single sentence need be left out. The significant thing is that people's standpoint is that one hears something, makes a note of it, and then it is over and done with, finished! All that is needed to come to the right path is that people really go into the matter. But people today do not want to be taken up with having to go into something properly. This is the really terrible and awful thing; this is what has already pushed people so far that they are no longer able to distinguish between what is speaking of realities and what writes whole books, like those of Count Hermann Von Keyserling, in which there is not one single thought, just jumbled-together words. And when one longs for something to be taken up enthusiastically — which would, of itself, lead to this hollow word-skirmishing being distinguished from what is based on genuine spiritual research — one finds no one who rouses himself, makes a stout effort and is able to be taken hold of by that which has substance. This is what people have forgotten — and forgotten thoroughly — in this age in which truth is not decided according to truth itself, but in which the great lie walks among men so that in recent years individual nations have only found to be true what comes from them and have found what comes from other nations to be false. The disgusting way that people lie to each other has fundamentally become the stamp of the public spirit. Whenever something came from another nation it was deemed untrue. If it came from one's own nation it was true. This still echoes on today; it has already become a habit of thought. In contrast, a genuine, unprejudiced devotion to truth leads to spiritualization. But this is basically still a matter of indifference for modern human beings.
Until a sufficiently large number of people are willing to engage themselves absolutely whole-heartedly for spiritual science, nothing beneficial will come from the present chaos. People should not believe that one can somehow progress by galvanizing the old. This 'old' founds 'Schools of Wisdom' on purely hollow words. It has furnished university philosophy with the Arthur Drews's who, however, are actually represented everywhere, and yet humanity will not take a stand. Until it makes a stand in all three spheres of life — in the spiritual, the political and the economic spheres — no cure can come out of the present-day chaos. It must sink ever deeper!