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|GA 316. Course for Young Doctors — Easter Course III|
|The whole planetary system is connected with substances that are remedial: Saturn = Lead Jupiter = Tin Mars = Iron Sun = Gold Venus = Copper Mercury = Quicksilver Moon = Silver. These correspondences are treated with unbelievable superficiality nowadays, whereas in reality they are based upon most minute investigations which were carried on in the Ancient Mysteries.|
|GA 316. Course for Young Doctors — Easter Course III|
If we want really to understand the being of man for the purposes of treatment, we must be absolutely clear about the fact that we cannot take into consideration only what binds the human being to the earth, for that is of importance only in the very first years of childhood, up to the time of the change of teeth, and then no longer. After the change of teeth we have to consider those forces which really organize the human being away from the earth. For this purpose he has his etheric body and the etheric body is essentially different from the physical body. The physical body is heavy, the etheric body is not. The physical body strives towards the earth, the etheric body away from the earth in all directions, in all directions of cosmic space. You include the universe when you study the physical body and the etheric body of man. The physical body is inwardly connected with the earth, the etheric body with everything that lies in the perceptible universe around the earth. So that you can think of all the forces which work upon the physical body as being forces which draw the human being to the earth, and all those forces which work upon the etheric body as forces which draw the human being away from the earth.
These forces exist and work in the human being. Therefore one cannot really say that the human being takes in some substance which was first outside and is then within him. It is not so. These centrifugal forces are working within the human being and because of this the substance immediately falls within the realm of the whole universe, of the whole visible universe.
Then, in regard to the astral body of man, you must picture to yourselves that it really comes from the realm of the spaceless; it merely assumes the form of spatial activity.
And when you come to the ego, you really can make no picture at all. The ego works neither from above nor from below; it works in such a way that one simply cannot make a diagram of it. The ego works only through the flow of time, through the continuity of time. What proceeds from the ego organization of man cannot be put into a picture. It is a reality at every point; it neither streams in nor streams out, it works in the purely qualitative sense.
When we look out into the worlds of the ether it is as if, with our etheric body, we were always losing ourselves in these worlds, but all the time the astral is streaming in towards us — the astral that is also not spatial but works as if it came towards us from the periphery of the universe. And now suppose that we have to do with vegetable protein in food. In the first place, vegetable protein has heaviness; in the second place, as protein, it strives towards the cosmos. When you introduce vegetable protein into the human organism the other two kinds of forces immediately begin to work on it — the forces which work in from all directions and those forces which as the forces of the astral work in from beyond space, as it were, upon this protein. And now suppose everything that might work in this way upon the human being were only capable of making him into a round, spherical body. You find the form which the working of these forces produce — the forces streaming outwards from and into the earth — you find this form in the bird's egg. These forces take shape in the egg. Why is it that not merely an egg-like form but a form with definite configuration is produced from an egg? If only those forces were at work of which I have just told you, all that could happen would be a completion of the egg shape. The bird would be complete when the egg is complete. But a bird has a very definite shape and has it because, in the first place, the moon circles round the earth. What I am saying about the bird also applies to the human being. If it were a case of the moon alone circling around the earth, no bird would arise, but what would happen would be this — that the egg shell would get soft and fall away and a spherical being would emerge, a spherical being consisting essentially of protein. Now the moon does not only circle around the earth, but there are all kinds of different constellations in space. The moon is always passing these constellations, and as it passes them it modifies the forces which proceed from them. Picture to yourselves that the moon is passing the Pleiades. The egg is then exposed to the forces which are the result of the in-streaming of the Pleiades and this in-streaming is modified by the moon. From the Pleiades there streams a force which is modified by the moon which is standing in front of them and exercising its influence, and as a result of this there arises the head of the bird. Therefore we can say that the bird's head is formed from the cosmos by cooperation between the planet moon and the fixed stars which are arranged in a special way in the Pleiades. The moon passes on and, let us say, it now stands in front of the constellation of Libra whose forces are again modified by the position of the moon. Here we have a different set of forces and besides this, the moon which was full moon when it stood in front of the Pleiades, has now, in front of Libra, become New Moon. The moon in connection with the constellation of Libra works differently from when it is working from a position in front of the Pleiades and the effect upon the egg is the formation of the bird's tail. The rest lies in between. So, if you want to study the form of the bird you must study how the moon passes by the cosmic constellations.
What is a person who has knowledge of earthly conditions able to say about the form of man, or, for that matter, of any living being? He can only say: Yes, of course, the Eagle has a definite form, the vulture has a definite form, the kangaroo has a definite form, and so on. Why have they these particular forms? If you remain at a standstill within the earthly world, as science does, there is only one answer: The animal has inherited its form from its ancestors. Thought can find no other answer. This answer is just like the logic of the saying: Penury comes from poverty. But this is no explanation at all. You must go further back. Those ancestors received it from their ancestors, and so you go on, in a vicious circle. We must study the cosmic forces and constellations of the stars if we are to have any understanding of the form of a living being.
But this is not all that I have to say. If only these things happened, very beautifully developed beings would be produced but they would all of them be like jellyfish, as the human being actually was in far past epochs of the earth. In the Atlantean epoch the human being was a kind of jellyfish. This was because the only substance he could absorb was in a plastic, fluid state, and out of this he was able to build up his physical body. The reason he was able to incorporate into himself potassium, sodium, and the other substances is because the other planets of our system, as well as the moon, pass through Libra, Aries, Taurus and so on, and they member into us those things that enable us to have the true form of man. In the formation of the human head, the influence of the moon is also united with the forces that go out from Mercury and Venus and the constellations into which they enter with the other planets. If these other constellations were not combined with the moon constellations, we should all be born as hydrocephalics. Organic metal is incorporated into us because the constellations of Mercury and Venus are working in conjunction with the moon constellation. We should get a terrible form of rickets, not only bow legs but legs that would be elastic, and our arms would be jelly-like structures if the planets that are more oriented to Saturn were not to combine with the moon constellation and if Saturn himself were not to work together with Jupiter and Mars. It is the sun which brings about the rhythmical balances between these two categories of planets.
The verse continues:
Now everything that works in the human etheric body, forms and shapes the human being. But the human being would be an automaton imbued with life, even if his form were as it is today, if only those forces which I have described to you were to work upon him. But the surroundings work upon him, all that lives and weave in the element of air around us. The ether and also the astrality of the cosmos weaves in the air. And just as externally our spatial form is developed under the influence of the moon in connection with the heavens, so we are inwardly ensouled because the sun is working together with the heavens. When the sun is standing in Leo, for example, it influences the cosmic forces (note well that we are not here speaking of the sun's own forces). It is then working, in the air, upon what affects us through our breathing and blood circulation, and is continually changing. The air changes as the sun passes on its course. Thereby the form becomes ensouled, so that we can really say: The constellations of the sun in the cosmos work in the airy element in the surroundings of the earth and this enables us to be beings of soul.
The verse continues:
By this metamorphosis is meant the gradual passing of the human physical body into the corpse. By the side of these words we write the sign of Saturn. Why? Now the Saturn forces work not only in the place where Saturn stands in the heavens. So far as space is concerned, Saturn is far away from the earth and the direct influences of this planet upon the human being from outside do not amount to very much. But Saturn has forces which are sucked, with tremendous strength, into the earth. The Saturn forces are sucked with tremendous strength into the earth and when we look beyond the earth, we really do not find these forces to any extent. But when we look at the earth herself, at what is on the surface and towards the interior of the earth, it is a different matter altogether. Suppose you see a snail crawling over the ground. The snail passes on but it leaves its slime behind it. The slime remains and you can follow the whole path taken by the snail. So it is with Saturn. He passes on, but wherever he has shone upon the earth he leaves his traces behind him — very, very definite traces If in much earlier epochs of earth evolution these traces had not remained as forces in the earth, we should have no lead. Lead originates from the primal substance, from the Saturn forces that are working in the earth, that were sucked in by the earth. In ancient times, when conditions were different, the lead forces came into being in the earth. These Saturn forces still have their afterworkings in the human being and it is an influence quite different from that of sun and moon.
We should not be beings of spirit, but beings of body and soul only, if these Saturn forces were not present. You can take this as a focus for thought, my dear friends. Nothing is without reason and purpose in the universe. Just ask yourselves: During what period of time has Saturn had opportunity to impregnate his forces into the earth from all directions? He has done this in the course of thirty years — the thirty years during which he circles around the sun and earth. This period is the time which the human being takes from his birth to the point where a certain phase of his life is concluded. When the human being has lived on the earth for thirty years, he reaches a certain point—a point which does not, of course, coincide exactly with the precise line taken by Saturn in the heavens — but during this period Saturn has impregnated the earth from every direction. When the human being is thirty years old, a second impregnation begins. Thus the influence of Saturn upon the whole earth is connected with the human being, and it is ultimately due to this fact that we have a body in which processes of demolition take place.
In the human organism there are not up-building forces alone. If it were so we should be without consciousness. Our vitality has to be damped down in a certain way. The destructive forces must always be there. The development of our organism not only advances but retrogresses and in this retrogression the unfolding of spiritual life takes place. Spiritual life does not proceed from life, but as life retro gresses the spiritual life finds a place in what, figuratively speaking, has been left empty. This process is due to the forces that arise in the earth as a result of impregnation by the Saturn forces. Therefore I placed the sign of Saturn by the side of the third couplet.
Now these Saturn forces by themselves would make little old and wizened people by the age of thirty. At the age of thirty we should begin to walk on crutches. Fichte was willing to respect the human being up to the age of thirty, but he once said that all thirty-year-olds ought to be done away with, for thereafter they are no longer able to cope with the world, they are weak cripples. The state of things Fichte was getting at, however, would irrevocably happen if Saturn were the only planet whose forces could unfold in the earth. But the Saturn forces are modified by the forces of Jupiter and of Mars. Because of these forces the demolition process up to the age of thirty is not so complete. Something still continues and we have to thank Mars and Jupiter for the fact that we are not old men at the age of thirty. If we want to understand why existence is still possible for the human being at the age of forty-five, we must look out into the cosmos.
Moon and Saturn, therefore, are the heavenly bodies which stand nearest to and farthest from us in the planetary system. The planetary system as it is today is really an inorganic structure because as far as Saturn [Translator's note: In the German, the text gives Jupiter, but the sense appears to indicate Saturn.] it came out of what was once a single cosmic body, whereas Uranus and Neptune came from beyond and joined themselves to it. As antiquity did not discover Uranus and Neptune, Saturn was taken to be the outermost planet and it is still justifiable today to go as far as Saturn. Astrologers still have an inkling of these things for they connect Uranus and Neptune only with those human qualities which transcend the personal, make a man a genius, go beyond the individual personal element — where he is concerned with things that no longer have to do with his personal development. All astrological statements are to this effect. Uranus and Neptune only come into play when a man becomes a genius or strives to transcend the human element, when his organization has the tendency to expand or decay too strongly. Uranus and Neptune are planets who have behaved like tramps in the universe and were then held captive by the planetary system belonging to our earth. The near and the far heavenly bodies regulate what is in the human being — the moon regulates his form, Saturn — working from the earth — the formless spiritual, inasmuch as Saturn breaks down form, dissolves it inwardly all the time. And the sun brings about rhythm between the two.
These things must be known. Primeval knowledge was aware that the same forces which correspond with our third couplet:
are the same complex of forces which once expressed itself in the formation of lead. So that we can say: The forces which split up the physical organism in order that the spiritual may find a place, are also present in lead. Forces of disintegration have brought lead into existence. If we introduce lead into the human organism, splittings take place. If there is too little demolition going on within the human being and he needs certain processes of disintegration, we must give him lead in some form. Vice versa, if the condition is such that formative power is lacking, so that the human organism is becoming too “spongy” as it were, ancient knowledge teaches that the forces of the moon which in olden times streamed in to form the substance of silver, must be brought into play. The forces of silver can bring sponginess to form, they give support to the moon forces. The whole planetary system is connected with substances that are remedial:
These correspondences are treated with unbelievable superficiality nowadays, whereas in reality they are based upon most minute investigations which were carried on in the Ancient Mysteries. Such knowledge had been well and truly tested. Thorough investigation was made of Saturn's constellation when, for example, the forces of disintegration were insufficiently active in an organism and the vitality, the connective forces too strong, so that in his whole constitution the human being was suffering from a condition of organic stupor (for stupor need not necessarily affect only the sensory activity). It was observed that such a condition set in after a certain constellation of Saturn had taken place. Whereas Saturn had formerly worked strongly upon the human being, it was observed that he got into this condition when Saturn had set and could no longer completely unfold its forces. In such a case, lead was given as a remedy. Indications which are still to be found in dilettante books today are actually true, because, not knowing their origin, people have not been able to spoil them. If things had been different, speculation would have taken place and then we should most certainly have erroneous indications. They remain correct because men have lost the knowledge of their origin. They remain through tradition. Human thinking cannot spoil these truths.
What works from out of the earth upon the human being is, in reality, the force of Saturn which has been held fast, sucked in by the earth.
Just think what tremendous consequences these things have in the realm of human knowledge. You simply cannot connect the human being as studied by modern natural science with the moral life. The moral life hovers somewhere in the realm of abstraction. Especially in Protestantism which to the greatest extent of all has lost connection with the spiritual, with the cosmos; everything moral is segregated off, remains mere belief. The reality is that the human being is a creature who is cared for and fostered from out of the cosmos and the moral forces stream into him together with his astrality. Realization of this fact enables you to think of man as being inwardly united with the moral world. In true medicine you are led back to what makes man into a moral being, into a being who in his very organism can experience the moral and no longer merely heeds it as an external commandment.
This is what I wanted to say and I think you can take it away with you as a guide in many things. You can, of course, get the data from somewhere else. But how these data are circumstanced within the human organism — this you can only realize from such things as have now been said. You can read in any medical vade mecum that lead has this or that effect. You will understand why it has such effect if you really assimilate what has been said here. Because these things are drawn from the spiritual world they make far less claim upon the memory than upon man's physical power of assimilation. What a person learns lies in the realm of his own option, but what he experiences otherwise and what is impressed of itself into his memory, is actually there. You will notice something strange about what you assimilate in this way. If you do not constantly live with it in meditation you will soon sweat it off, so to speak. The peculiarity of spiritual truths is that they cannot, properly speaking, become memorized truths. You cannot retain in your organism what you ate a week previously. A ruminant can retain food, but only for a short time. In the ruminant there is organic imitation — a rudiment in the physical body of what otherwise lies entirely in the etheric body, namely, the memory. So far as spiritual truths are concerned, they must be experienced over and over again until they become habit — not retained as memory pictures but become habit. The essence of meditation is that we make an appeal to what, in reality, is present only in earliest childhood. In that period of life we have no picture memory and so our earliest experiences are forgotten. They live in a memory which functions through habit. And it is this form of memory that we must return to when we want inwardly to digest spiritual truths; otherwise we very quickly sweat them off.
Because you want to receive esoteric truths, an appeal must be made to your faculties of meditation and of inner assimilation; otherwise you will not be able to make use of what is given you. If you activate these faculties you will develop that delicate sensitivity which leads you, not instinctively but intuitively to perceive how a plant or stone may work in the human organism — things that are still expressed abstractly in the so-called Doctrine of Signatures. You will be developing not only your physical body but your etheric body too and what I have called memory through habit will give you a more delicate faculty of perception for what is contained in the physical environment and the faculty to behold the world as one to whom the questions about diseases of the lung, heart, etc., come from the human organism and the answers as to the remedial plants, minerals, etc., from the environment.
Question: Many of us want to have a far-reaching understanding of the position in which we find ourselves. We feel inwardly that Anthroposophical truths are something radical and that tremendous things depend upon their practical realization. How can that which we feel so deeply, be realized, and how can we reach an understanding of our own destiny and tasks for the future? We feel that we shall only be able to act truly if we get to understand our own karma in its wide connections and at the same time unfold the courage not to run away from it but to fulfill it in practice in the right way.
I think I hear something between the lines of what you have said and realize in what direction your feelings tend. You must enlarge your question if this is not so. The question you have put, touches, of course, something that must be known today. Especially just recently, there has been a great deal of talk about the end of Kali Yuga among circles of young people, more among the youth than among the old. The reason for this is that at the end of the nineteenth century a new age did indeed dawn in humanity. To begin with, the old life continues. When you have a ball and push it, it rolls and when you take your hand away it still goes on rolling. Similarly, what human beings experienced up to the end of the nineteenth century goes on rolling for the time being. But because the forces are no longer behind it, it is assuming worse forms than it took in the age that has passed away. But side by side with the continuance of the old time, an Age of Light is really dawning in the world, in concealment. An Age of Light is shining into the world and its first rays must be caught by Anthroposophy.
At the present time, of course, I am speaking much more radically about certain karmic relationships than I did before the Christmas Foundation. You will realize this from other lectures which I am giving now. Those who can be at the lecture this evening will find that certain human connections are actually spoken of. But for all that I cannot enter quite concretely into matters which would be beloved by sensationalism. Strict laws must invariably be observed in these things and I know that a certain desire — not necessarily born of a lust for sensation — might be satisfied if one could reveal to every individual his previous earthly life. But one cannot go as far as that. On the other hand certain points of view which may be significant, can be mentioned.
Taking human life in general today, we have, if I may put it so, two kinds of human beings. This is due to the fact that at certain times the spiritual evolution of humanity was different from what it was in other times. There was a wavelike movement, but the waves flowed not only one behind the other, but side by side with each other. For example, at a certain time the evolution of Western Christianity became more superficial, was externalized. It was not possible for human beings to get at the essence of what Christianity had to offer them. A reaction took place among the Kathares. And so there were living, side by side, men who lived very external lives and men who wanted to deepen themselves inwardly. Something similar happened, when, under the influence of Comenius and even earlier than that, the Moravian Brotherhoods were founded far into Hungary and Poland. All the time there were living together men whose souls were striving strongly for spirituality and men who were driven to externalization, simply by the karma of civilization. The fact that one person comes into the one group and another person into another, is connected with earlier karmic conditions. In modern times a great point is how far a man in his earlier incarnation belonged to the one or the other of these groups. Let us suppose, then, that a man is born today who lived in a phase of Christianity which was quite externalized. Such a man will be an entirely different person from one who, let us say, belonged to the Bohemian Moravian Brothers. In what does the difference consist?
We can only discover the essential characteristic of the conclusion of Kali Yuga when we go into the concrete circumstances — otherwise it all remains so much historical construction. The Age of Darkness lasted until the year 1899 when the Age of Light began. This mere fact does not tell us very much. We must enter into the concrete, spiritual facts. Men who are born at the end of Kali Yuga and who have strongly spiritual aspirations — this must not make for conceit, you must receive it simply into your store of knowledge — such men are, speaking in the widest sense, those who have been born from among the heretics, from among those who strove for inner deepening. At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there were brought down to the earth human beings who had not lived within the general stream of a Christianity that was being externalized, but in such sects which inserted themselves in this general stream and were striving for greater inwardness. What is the result?
Now when we are passing through the time between death and a new birth we learn, in a spiritual way, to know the Human All, just as here on earth we can study the World All that is outside the human being — the universe. The Human All is equally great and equally detailed, for the human being has within him just as much as the cosmos. We can study this with our forces of will when they have been transformed. We acquire an exact knowledge of the human being. Now there is a difference between the two groups of which I have just spoken. Those men who had entered more into externalization were not able, in their passage between death and a new birth, to enter into the spiritual world in the right way. In the spiritual world they passed thoughtlessly by the essentials of human nature. They were reborn and especially those people who were born in the second third of the nineteenth century were men of the kind who were thus externalized in their previous life. They brought into their earthly life no understanding of the human being and his nature. They regarded the body as an instrument for eating, drinking, walking, standing, sitting, but they were not interested in the human being in his reality because they had no interest of this kind in their life between death and a new birth. These were the people who were satisfied with materialism, because they felt no need for knowledge of the human being. The materialists who only want to have knowledge of matter understand the human being least of all.
It may be said with a peaceful conscience that those who are sitting here are reborn heretics (you must not ascribe this to yourselves as a virtue) heretics who experienced a strong urge between death and rebirth to fathom the nature of the human being and thus, subconsciously, to make the human being into a tremendous riddle. This comes to light in the urge to learn more than materialistic medicine has to offer and so, as you have said, an inner fulfillment of karma is certainly indicated. You must not take these things lightly, for if you were to do so you would fall into misunderstandings. You would not reach what you want to reach because you have had certain definite experiences between death and rebirth. And the result of not finding in earthly life that for which one has striven for centuries is not so that it merely makes one superficial. The Age has passed when people who have received between death and rebirth the truths concerning man can become superficial without being punished for it. At the present time young people are certainly not in a position to lead superficial lives and go Scot-free because they ruin themselves inwardly, ruin themselves organically.
The bad thing is not that people today are materialistic in their thoughts, that they chatter about monism and the like. That is not the really bad thing and they will easily get over it. What a man speaks is not of such great significance, but what then goes back into his feeling and will — this weaves in his organs, and if people do not deepen themselves spiritually they will not be able to sleep properly. That is the essential thing. If people undergo no such deepening today what will the consequence be? The consequence will be that hardly will the years 1940-1950 have come, and over greater and greater areas there will be widespread epidemics of sleeplessness. Such people will no longer be capable of working for civilization.
Therefore your karma leaves you no choice: either you leave it unheeded, as was possible before the end of Kali Yuga, or you must heed it. You must really take in all seriousness what I have now told you about the configuration of your karma. This, of course, remains a generalized description, but you can certainly find it useful if you frequently ponder the particular circumstances of your own life. You will discover something remarkable when you think about these special circumstances. The Youth Movement theorizes too much and consequently one hears too much of the same theories. If the young people would really study what youth today is experiencing — it is in truth very different from what the former generation experienced — the Youth Movement would at one bound take on a very different form. We are striving to give our Youth Movement here a concrete form so that it does not remain in the realm of abstraction.
|GA 190. The Social Question as a Problem of Soul Life — Inner Experience of Language II|
|The common speech, which brings a common imagination, is something that will provide a social deepening. Language as a means of mutual copper hedging could also do that at need — but it is then externalized; as a mere means of communication it depends very much upon convention. Hence the externalizing of the soul's life nowadays, so that language is used really just to gossip with others so that no one knows what the other is thinking.|
|GA 190. The Social Question as a Problem of Soul Life — Inner Experience of Language II|
If we now speak a great deal about the social problem that is disturbing our times, it is because the essential thing for us — in addition to what is naturally of particular importance to our contemporaries as such in this problem — is that really the ultimate practical solution of this problem is intimately connected with the fundamentals of Spiritual Science, and therefore those interested in Spiritual Science have a special inducement to regard this question from out of a Spiritual Scientific standpoint. For you see it is urgently necessary that understanding should be aroused in the widest circles for what are the impulses behind the social movement. On the other hand, however, these circles are little prepared to look into the matter fundamentally, to concentrate their gaze on the fundamentals. By degrees a certain comprehension must ray out from those interested in Spiritual Science into the sphere of the social movement, and for this it is necessary to make ourselves acquainted with certain fundamental facts without knowledge of which there can be no real grasp of the social problem. There can be no doubt that the unconscious and subconscious play an enormous part in human social life. What is at work in the social life comes ultimately from what people think and feel, and, according to the impulses of their characters, what they will. But in the age of the development of the consciousness soul this becomes increasingly individual. People become more and more different in their thinking, feeling and willing: this is the task of the epoch of the development of the consciousness soul. Therefore much will spring from subconscious sources in human relationships to flow into the social movement which, begun half a century ago, has today reached a culmination and will spread farther and farther afield making enormous demands of the people. What emerges today are primarily chaotic demands. In place of these, clearer and clearer conceptions and better and better will impulses must appear. It was because these clear conceptions and good impulses of will did not exist that mankind fell into the present catastrophe and this catastrophe will become immeasurably greater. For one cannot say that real goodwill exists extensively in regard to this question. What exists is something like a yielding to what seems to be inevitable. One would willingly give them a morsel now and again, for fear that otherwise their mouths might water. But what must appear in a really deep social understanding? That must live in the hearts of men and must become an essential part of our schooling.
Something of this kind can be attained only when at least a certain number of people on earth, really out of knowledge of human nature, out of knowledge of the relation between physical and the superphysical worlds, cultivate a deeper understanding for these problems than most people can develop by reason of our present superficial culture.
Yesterday you saw how matters stand with what plays its part in the whole man's life as language. Now just think what part, on the other hand, language plays in men's international operation throughout the world. Consider how manifold are the varied feelings and will impulses depending upon languages. Consider again how infinitely much that is not clear in such things prevails among men. Today let us spend a little time on speech. As I mentioned yesterday we had three periods of evolution to come in the post-Atlantean period of human evolution. We live in the fifth, the sixth will follow, to be followed in turn by the seventh. As we saw yesterday, on turning our attention to the development of language, till now we, as earthly men, have developed a certain inclination to abstract, unimaginative thinking. What must be evolved before the end of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch is the imaginative conception, Imagination. It is mankind's special task in this fifth post-Atlantean period to develop the gift of Imagination. I beg of you not to confuse what I am discussing here with those matters set out in the book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. In that book it is the individual man who is being considered. It is a matter of the esoteric development of the individual man. What I am now considering is the social life of people. The folk genius cultivates imagination. Each one of us must seek his own Imagination for esoteric development: but the folk genius cultivates the Imagination from which must come the common spiritual culture of the future. An imaginative spiritual culture must be developed in the future. Now we have reached, so to speak, the culminating point of abstract spiritual culture, that spiritual culture which everywhere works towards abstraction; from out of that there must be developed a culture with imaginative conceptions. Our culture must be interpenetrated not with thoughts abstractly expressed but with imagery such as we have for example in our group, the Representative of mankind between the luciferic as the one pole and the ahrimanic as the other. And many people will have to tell themselves, more and more people will have to tell themselves, that what really has to do with spiritual life is not to be expressed in abstract thoughts. One should not always be pondering about abstract thoughts, but it is right and living in the right way in the human heart to express oneself through pictures. The life of Imagination in common is what must come.
In the sixth post-Atlantean period a kind of Inspiration of the folk genius should be especially cultivated, out of which should blossom such ideas of rights as will be felt as a kind of gift for the life on earth. The life to be developed in the rights-state is, as I recently pointed out, such a one as is opposed to all life of the Spirit, indeed it is its opposite. When earthly life takes its source healthily and not unhealthily, the principles of rights gradually accepted as such will be felt as gifts from the spiritual world. They will be felt as gifts that come down to the folk genius through Inspiration to rule earthly life, not in a human arbitrary manner, but in the sense of a great spiritual leadership. One could say that it is just through this Inspiration experienced by the folk genius that Ahriman will been enchained. Otherwise an ahrimanic being would be developed over the whole earth.
The last epoch will have to cultivate Intuition. Only under the influence of this Intuition can the whole economic life be developed which men can see as their ideal economic life. But the curious thing is that from now on one cannot so separate things in the more or less abstract way that I have written them up on the board:
You see one can quite well speak of the early Indian epoch, the early Persian, the Egypto-Chaldean, the Graeco-Latin period, an periods existing as such with need limits, in each of which were developed a very distinctive way of life. In the future that will no longer be possible; than the forces at work in civilization will be mingled. Thus the Intuition which will appear in the seventh epoch is already at work in the fifth, Inspiration is active in the fifth, Imagination is not fully acquired in the fifth but will reach its final stages only in the later periods. All these things happen interconnectedly; they are not so strictly separated. So that it is already necessary for men to work towards what should be achieved in the Imaginative life, and in the life of Inspiration and that of Intuition. But externally man must distinguish between the things that are forced into overlapping in time. The life of spirit which has as its prime task for the future to develop the imagination must be cultivated in the emancipated spiritual organisation. The life of Inspiration which will give the folk genius principally the conceptions of rights must be evolved in the separated state. And the Intuitive life, strange as it may appear, must be evolved in the economic life. These spheres must in their externals be kept separate, as has been shown you from various points of view.
You will see deeper into thee different members if you pay attention to what I have been putting forward in regard to language. You see, language is apparently something homogeneous. You regard language as something homogeneous and men feel it to be so. But it is not so. Language is something quite different with respect to the soul-spiritual life of mankind from what it is in respect to social life in the rights state, and again it different in respect to the economic life.
Let us try to characterize what is very difficult to describe. In regard to language think first of poetry. You have often heard the remark how much the man of every sphere of culture when he is a poet (and who is there who is not something of a poet!) is indebted to language. Language is much more creative than is believed. Language contains great and powerful mysteries; the genius of language is something tremendously creative. That is why within the sphere of language the purely humanly creative so seldom emerges: this is noticed only by those who with deep devotion study the evolution of the peoples. In one incarnation men usually remain bound only to a certain epoch, and so have nothing definite to go upon or passing judgment rightly on what I am now meaning. We Germans, for example, nowadays speak now and then with some modifications of meaning; but in so far as we use the uniform educated, we all speak differently from what was customary in the 18th century. Whoever follows attentively the literature of that century until the last third of the century will soon notice that. For the language we use in common as ordinary educated German speech is a result of Goethean creation and of those who are connected with Goethe's creative work: Lessing, Herder, Wieland, Goethe, and to a certain degree Schiller too. A great part of our verbal education did not exist before the time of these spirits! Take the Adelung dictionary, written comparatively recently, and hunt therein for many things which are now current: you will not find them! To a great extent the period which produced Goetheanism was created in language and we lived in what was formed in this way. There you see the individually creative playing into genius of speech as such. In poets one can even speak at that time of creation of the highest order: what follows as epigone is often drawn from the language itself.
So I have often said that when one sees through these things a facile language often strikes one, a dressed-up poetic performance of no distinction. What originally pulses from one's innermost soul is often much more awkward than what is the result of no great poetic gift, but produced by a certain profession of speech, by beautiful verse and the like. It is the same with the other arts. But one must pay attention to such things if one wants to have a concept of how there is a life in the language itself in which we are involved. In penetrating more deeply into this language the possibility will open out for an imaginative feeling and perception. Nowadays there is very much that fights against this learning of the imaginative from speech, because since languages have recently become international, men have with a certain justification acquired many languages, or at least several, up to a certain point. This acquisition of several languages has not yet driven the deeper aspect of the matter to the surface, but actually only the superficial. What the Imagination then brings about — what has to do with perception — has not yet been brought to the surface. Nowadays he who has acquired several languages becomes a slave to the dictionary for a slave to any other handbook that has to do with the languages in question. And so one has to accustom oneself to the horrid unreality that a word in another language that one finds in a dictionary for, say, a word from one's own language is taken to mean exactly the same. In regard to something I shall speak of next, it does certainly mean the same, but it does not do so where inner experience is concerned.
Take the following, for example: in German we say Kopf, in French tête, in Italian testa, and so forth. What does this show? Recall the human head and the head of an animal Kopf for the same reason that we speak of a cabbage as a Kohlkopf; because of its roundness, it's spherical form. So he who as a German calls the head Kopf is: it's so with regard to its form. Tête and testa signify something which testifies, which gives testimony. Thus there are quite different points of view from which one can indicate a member of the human organism. Fuss (foot) is a German word which is connected with Furt (ford), with the Furche (furrow) we make in walking over the ground; that is the point of view from which we as Germans indicate that part of the human organism; pied is the setting down, the indication of something placing itself on the ground: something quite different! The significance of words proceeds from various points of view. And this impulse to describe the same things from different backgrounds is the impress of a subconscious in the character of peoples that is not generally noticed.
But now consider, you have to do it not just with physical human beings walking about on the physical earth, but with men altogether; you are studying the whole relation to the dead. What is actually characteristic in the matter stands out particularly there. The dead have no sense for this dictionary interpretation of words, but for what is imaginative they have the deepest understanding. But should one form one's thoughts so that one gets the shade of meaning from the spoken sounds, the dead receive at once the imaginative form thus produced. When the German word for the head Kopf is used, the dead have the experience of roundness. When the same word is used in a Latin language he has the experience of what is testified. But this stigmatizing, this mere characterizing, this abstract relating to some single organ or other is not experienced by the dead; what he experiences with the deepest significance passes unnoticed by the man of today with his abstract thoughts. So that in his soul man has a special relation to language. The relation the soul has to whine which is actually far more inward than man's ordinary, everyday relation to language. The soul inwardly feels a difference when one describes a foot by being sent on the ground, or by the fact that a mark, a furrow, is made. The soul feels that; while externally and in the abstract man experiences only the relation of the word to the single organ in question. In its experience of speech the soul is inwardly in much the same condition as when it is disembodied. And what is generally experienced as the only meaning of speech in ordinary life really lies like an outer layer on the surface of speech. A true poet, for example, is just a man who has a fine feeling for the inwardness of language, a finer feeling than others. That man is a real poet who is alive to the imaginative in language, just as an artist is fundamentally not simply one who can paint or sculpt but one who can live in color and form.
These are matters which we must make our own from now on into the future. Without them the further progress of mankind in a favorable way is impossible, for the life of the Spirit would become barren, and mankind would be able to evolve hardly more than an animal existence unless an understanding for such things can be awakened. It is a peculiar fact that when one follows closely how children are born, how they developed in the early years, first babbling, then gradually learned to speak, in the way they learn there mingles into the child's learning to speak a heritage brought down from the experiences that have been going through in the spiritual world before they came down to earth; mingled with it is what the mother, father or nurse contributes to the child's learning to speak. He who can bring a fine observation to bear in this sphere will have surprising experiences from the child who is learning to speak. He will only be able to understand these surprising things when he can make the assumption that a child is actually bringing from the spiritual world some disposition that it mingles with what comes to his speech from outside. In the inward experience of language that human being is living in accordance with what he brings from the spiritual world. But that is the only thing in language that is really spiritual. Actually the one element and language is this inner experience, which we have because we bring with us certain impulses out of the spiritual world.
The other is that language is a mere medium for making oneself understood. Everything that goes on between men as men comes into consideration in it as a means of making themselves understood. We speak with one another so that the one knows what the other wishes to tell him. They are the inwardness of speech is not of account — there a certain convention applies. The point is that we do not think that when someone speaks of a table he means a chair, or when speaking of a chair he means a table. For that men here on the earth merely need a mutual understanding; that deeper, inward feeling for language does not come into it. At the present time this way of understanding language in which language is employed merely as a means of making ourselves mutually understood is actually all that is really experienced. For present day mankind language is not much more than the means by which they understand each other. Today it comes to few to listen to the mysterious inner impulses behind language so as to hear the divine powers as they make themselves known through this very language. There are some personalities today who have noticed that language has an inner life of its own; but among all those who have noticed it this perception arises in a certain whimsical way as, for example, with the poet Hofmannsthal, even the impudent Karl Kraus in Vienna who asserts that it is not feed himself who writes his sentences but that he simply listens to what the language wants to write. He may indeed listen to what the language which is to write, but only as men do who feared what comes from the spiritual world colored by their own emotions, here one-sidedly and falsely — that is shown by his dreadfully impudent writing, as language would never have inspired him. But as we were saying, individuals do already note this communicating by means of speech comes from other worlds and that must be cultivated if one is to find the way to the life of Imagination.
That moment will be of social significance for it is something binding men in a social bond. The common speech, which brings a common imagination, is something that will provide a social deepening. Language as a means of mutual copper hedging could also do that at need — but it is then externalized; as a mere means of communication it depends very much upon convention. Hence the externalizing of the soul's life nowadays, so that language is used really just to gossip with others so that no one knows what the other is thinking. You can indeed say a good deal against this: since so many do not think, some of us know when a statement is made what the other is not thinking! Well now — we understand each other.
Thus in language we have something that particularly points to the life of the Spirit, the life in the spiritual organism: something in language — that is to say, be nearly informative in language which alone comes into consideration today when people take up a dictionary, and because the word means one thing in one language and in another something else, it is simply a question of an external understanding, what lies deeper is not taken into account: whether the one describes something from this impulse, the other from that! There is of course an enormous difference in the soul life, whether by the word Kopf something round, that is the form, is to be understood, as most noun formations in German are plastic imagination, or whether, as in Latin languages, most noun formations originate in the stepping forth of man, how he places himself into the world, not by perception that by placing himself into the world. Great mystery is lie hidden in language.
With regard to the life of economics, we might be deaf and dumb and yet ultimately be able to carry on an economic life. The animals do so. Indeed, in economic life language is so to speak a stranger, a real stranger: we employ speech in the economic life because we happened to be speaking human beings; but we can conduct business in a foreign land, the language of which we do not know, we can buy anything, do everything possible. Men do not need the language at all for the life were language is a complete foreigner. The real inner spiritual element of language is present in the life of the Spirit, the element of language is already externalized in the life of rights — in the economic life everything that language means to man is utterly lost. Yet the economic life, as I have already pointed out, is what, fundamentally, can be the preparation for the life after death. How we conduct ourselves in the economic life, what feelings we unfold in that life, whether we are men who willingly helped another in a brotherly way, or whether we enviously gobble up everything for ourselves, depends upon the fundamental constitution of our soul, is essentially the mute preparation for many impulses which will be developed in the life after death. We bring with us a heritage from the life before birth which, as I described, comes to expression in what a child carried into all that it learns from nurse or mother. We bear with us out of life a mute element which springs up from the brotherliness unfolded in the economic life, and which develops important impulses in the life after death.
It is well that in the economic life language is such a foreign element that even if deaf and dumb we could develop the economic life. For by that means this subconscious soul like is developed that can be carried further when man has gone through the gate of death. Should man gave himself up altogether to what he experiences in his soul, to what can be expressed between man and man, should we, as men, not be able to serve one another without having to speak, we should be able to carry with us little into the world in which we are to live when we have passed through the gate of death.
On the other hand, my dear friends, it is extraordinarily difficult to discuss the pressing demands of the present-day social movement, for these demands are so many economic concerns for mankind. And for language for describing the economic concerns is actually non-existent. Our concepts indeed are not of the least use for discussing the social question. In Europe we should perhaps be able to discuss the social question in quite a different way it in our language we had with the Oriental has in his. There the decadence comes out only in the character of the people; that in their language are spiritual impulses enabling them to show as in gestures what has to be discussed about the social life — whereas we Europeans actually feel that every possible thing should always, as we think, be expressed in plain words. But this is not possible. We have to acquire the feeling that in speaking we are simply producing sound-gestures, hinting at things. Today it is practically only for interjections that man develops a real inwardness in regard to sound-gestures; a little, as I showed yesterday, for verbs; a mere touch of it for adjectives — none for nouns. The latter are completely abstract; and hence are not understood at all by the dead. There are blanks for them when we want to make ourselves understood and express things in language. So it is necessary, in order to make oneself understood by the dead, to transform what one has to say into real gestures, into real pictures, not to try to speak to the dead in words, but always to think better and better in pictures in the way I described yesterday.
Now I must say again and again what an aid to this experiencing in pictures is that part of eurhythmy that we now wish to bring back as visible speech. To perform eurhythmy is to transform what is spoken into the corresponding rhythmical movement, into gesture, and so on. But we must learn to do the opposite as well, to regard as a kind of speech what is set visibly before us. We must learn that what we customarily only looked at as something to say to us: morning says to us something different from what the evening says, and midday speaks differently from the night, and the leaf of a plant glistening with pearly dew says something different from a dry plant leaf. We must again learn the language of all nature. We must learn to penetrate through the abstract perception of nature to a concrete perception of nature. Our Christianity must be widened through a permeation, as I said yesterday, by a healthy paganism. Nature must again become something to us. It is the peculiarity of human evolution in the epoch of the fifth post-Atlantean period up to the present that we have become more and more indifferent towards nature. Certainly men still have a feeling for nature, they like being with nature, they are able to appreciate nature aesthetically, artistically. But they cannot soar to the heights of experiencing the inward life of nature, so that nature speaks to them as one man speaks to another. This is however essential if Intuition is again to play a part in human life. Before the end of the three epochs of which we have been speaking, men must, if they are to evolve healthily, developed a kind of personal relationship to all the details that connect them with nature. Today we can say in the abstract that by eating sugar you strengthen your sense of ego; and by eating less sugar you weaken your sense of ego; that tea dissipates the thoughts, and is the drink of diplomats, the dispenser of superficiality; that coffee is the drink of journalists, setting thoughts logically one after another — which is why journalists haunt coffeehouses, diplomats have tea parties, and so on; all this we can think in the abstract out of the nature of things: but human beings will come to develop in their way a healthy relation to everything that gives them such a relation to the whole of nature as today the animals instinctively possess. The animals know quite well what they eat; originally in their naive condition men also knew it; they have forgotten, unlearned it; and must regain the connection. There are people today — I have often mentioned it — curious people who when at the table have scales of which they weigh out how much meat and so on they should eat, because the dietitians have calculated the amount! In this abstract relations that man develops to the world all sound attitude to the world is lost.we must regain — if you will allow me to put it so — the experiencing of the spirit of sugar, tea, coffee, salt, and all those other things with which we are related through our organism: we must again learn to have these experiences. In this spirit today man experiences in the most abstract way. He feels something when he says “I am a mystic, I am a Theosophist.” What is that? It is a man feeling the divine ego with his own ego, feeling the macrocosm in the microcosm; the divine man within us that can be felt, can be lived . . . and all that that implies. They are of course the greyest, the vaguest, of abstractions. But today it is believed that there is no way out at all from these abstractions. Men nowadays do not look for this concrete experiencing with the whole world. What seems a great thing to men today is the thoughtless chatter of the experience of the God within. They think it very strange when one tells them that they should experience the God in sugar, tea, or coffee, or what not, yet this is really experiencing with the outer world: for the human experience of the external world is gross and materialistic unless something spiritual and the can be foundation of this material existence.
This feeling, for example, that existed in the second post-Atlantean period when everyone in the old Persian civilization felt when he ate anything how much light he took into himself along with it — son was ready to give up its light and in eating food light was also eaten — everyone felt how much light he was taking in: this feeling was an experience in ancient times which must return at a higher stage of consciousness. You see, these ideals naturally appear to be distant; but really they are not so far as people think from what man today holds to be most essential. For on looking into these things one approaches nearer and nearer and more concretely what is common to all mankind. It is just where there is veneration and penetration of nature that there will increasingly arise what sets up even the economic life that seems to us today so material, this dumb economic life, as a member of the divine world order. We shall then realized that the social organism, if it is to be sound must be threefold. It must have the spiritual organization because it is into this, above all, that we carry what we bring with us from the life before birth; it must have the economic organization because in it there must mutely developed what we bear with us through the gate of death, and what will be our impulses after death; and separate from both these, it must have the life of the rights-state because in this sphere above all is imprinted what is valid for this earthly life. Illustrated diagrammatically — here is earthly life, and raying into it, as it were, what we bring with us out of pre-earthly life (yellow arrows); and again we develop in this life what we bear out again (yellow). Here where I have drawn a red line the spiritual is within from the outset, it comes chiefly through language or the like. And here, where I have drawn a blue line, after death the spiritual rays out through the impulses we have absorbed in the economic life (yellow arrows). This in the middle, drawn in brown, is rayed through, as it were, laterally by the spiritual (yellow). The life of rights as such is entirely earthly, but is rayed through laterally. So that Inspiration, which should restrain Ahriman, should be active in the life of rights. We must advance to conceptions of rights, which are really taken from the life of the spirit, and which are really initiation conceptions.
But how can the things of which I have spoken today be straightaway made understandable to wider circles of present-day mankind? They cannot. For what the spiritual-scientific element would need to permeate the whole of the education and culture of the times. Otherwise it would not continue into the future. Therefore the healing of our social life is intimately bound up with the extension of a real understanding for spiritual knowledge. Certainly on the one hand there will gradually arise in people who have the goodwill accept social ideas the urge to receive the spiritual as well. For the most part, however, there are those who struggle against it, who preferred to remain fixed in those things of which I had to say yesterday that they were antipathetic to the children who for some years have been coming out of the spiritual world into life on earth. It is indeed pitiful to see how few people are inclined really to learn from the events;; how very much men today continue to exhibit ideas that they formally had before it became evident that the world that lives in the ideas as driven mankind into the frightful catastrophes of the time. At this juncture mankind should acquire a certain feeling of responsibility and an understanding of these things, and actually also see to the utmost extent these needs of the time. Just think — and this must be said of very many — how people today are fixed fast in egoism and how much cause one might have today to disregard one's own person and turned one's gaze to the great question of mankind. They are so overpoweringly great, these questions of the day, that if one is a sensible person one should scarcely have time to attend to the most limited personal destinies if these individual destinies could not be made fruitful for the great questions for time which already live in the womb of the evolutionary epochs of mankind. One could wish that men would take note of the great discrepancy between the futility of personal destiny today, and they reality that comes to light in the overpowering human problems of the day. One cannot understand the spiritual science in its reality, at least have no understanding of it at the present time, if one has no comprehension and accommodating spirit for these great human problems. Much is now only beginning to unfold: but it is precisely those who attach themselves to a movement for spiritual knowledge who should strive for a specially active understanding of what is being enacted to a wide extent in the social movement of the present day, and what, as can again be seen from today's indications, as wider horizons than is generally thought.
Tomorrow the conclusions [See: The Social Question (NSL 101)] be drawn from what has been set before you yesterday and today
|GA 178. The Wrong and Right Use of Esoteric Knowledge — Lecture III|
|From this side also will be spread the idea that man cannot be made good by learning all sorts of ethical principles, but by ingesting copper, for example, under a certain constellation, and arsenic under another. You can well imagine how ideas of this kind can be used by egotistic groups for enhancing their own power. They need only withhold this knowledge from others, and this will be the best means of dominating large numbers of men.|
|GA 178. The Wrong and Right Use of Esoteric Knowledge — Lecture III|
To-day I want to make various comments on matters that have been mentioned lately, and to fill in certain gaps. If you follow with attention current trends, you will have noticed a feeling that the thoughts and impressions and impulses which for a long time have led to such “splendid progress” are no longer capable of helping us to cope with the immediate future. Yesterday one of our members gave me a copy of the Frankfurter Zeitung for last Wednesday, November 21st. There speaks a very learned gentleman ... he must be very learned, for he is not only a Doctor of Philosophy but also a Doctor of Theology, and also a Professor, so naturally he is a very clever man. He has written an article which deals with all sorts of spiritual needs of the present time, and in the course of it he says:
“The experience of the form of being which lies behind things does not require pious dedication or a religious evaluation, for it is itself religion. We are concerned not with feeling and grasping a particular content, but with the great Irrational which lies hidden behind all existence ... Anyone who makes contact with this, so that the divine spark leaps across, goes through an experience which is of primal character and may be called the primordial experience. Anyone who experiences this one thing, together with all that is stirred by the same flow of life, is imbued with — to use a favourite modern phrase — a feeling of cosmic existence.”
Excuse me for reading this to you: I am quoting it not in order to arouse in you any magnificent ideas, but so as to bring before you a sign of the times:
“A cosmic religiosity is coming to birth among us, and how strong is the demand for it is shown by the evident spread of the theosophical movement, which undertakes to discover and unveil the phases of this life beyond the range of the senses.”
It is really difficult to stumble through all these wishy-washy ideas, but you will agree that the article is remarkable as a symptom of the times! He goes on: “In this cosmic piety there is no question of a mysticism which turns away from the world ...” and so on.
It would be hard to discover anything intelligent in all this, but since it is written by a man with all these degrees, one must suppose that some intelligence is there! Otherwise we should have to take it as the obscure stammering of a learned man who has reached a dead end on his own path and now feels impelled to call attention to something which certainly exists and evidently appears to him as not wholly unattainable.
There is no cause for satisfaction in such remarks; we must above all take care not to let them lull us into a comfortable slumber just because it has again been noticed, from some point of view or other, that something lies behind the spiritual-scientific movement. That would be really harmful. People who write in this way are often quite satisfied with having written it. With these misty thoughts they point to something which is trying to make its way into the world, but they are far too complacent to go in for the serious study that Spiritual Science requires. Nothing less than that must lay hold of men's minds if some reality is to be brought into the trends of the times, so that healing can come of it. Of course it is easier to talk of this “surge” of “cosmic feeling” than to give serious attention to those things that are demanded by the signs of the times and must be made known to mankind. For this reason it seems to me necessary to repeat here the remarks I have made in public lectures and shall make again, with particular emphasis now on the distinction between the worn-out ideas which have led into these catastrophic times and those which must take hold of human souls if any sort of progress is to be accomplished.
The old wisdom, through which mankind has been guided up to our time, may give rise to thousands of congresses, world-congresses, people's congresses and so on; thousands and thousands of societies may be founded; but we must be clear that all these congresses and societies will accomplish nothing unless the life-blood of Spiritual Science flows through them. What is lacking among people to-day is the courage to embark on real research into the spiritual world. Strange as it may sound, it must be said — as a first step nothing else would be needed than to spread the little booklet, Human Life in the light of Anthroposophy, in the widest circles. Something would thereby be done to evoke knowledge of a connection between man and the cosmic order. The booklet calls attention precisely to this knowledge by showing in concrete terms how throughout the year the earth undergoes changes in its state of consciousness — and so on. What is said in that booklet and in this lecture is said with full consideration for the needs of our time. Acceptance of it would signify more than all this wishy-washy talk on cosmic feeling and surges and I know not what. I have just read this to you and I can't bring myself to repeat it — it is all put in such a senseless way.
This should of course not prevent us from taking note of such things: they are important and real. What I want to bring home to you is that we must not befog ourselves: we must be absolutely clear as to what we wish to do on behalf of Spiritual Science.
Now I will turn again to the fact that in this fifth post-Atlantean epoch humanity will have to find ways of dealing with great life-problems which in a certain sense were veiled by the wisdom of the past. I have already called your attention to them. One of these great problems will be concerned with finding out how to place the spiritual etheric forces at the service of practical life. I have told you that in this epoch we have to solve the problem of how the radiations from human states of mind are carried over into machines; of how human beings are to be brought into relation with an environment which must become increasingly mechanised. A week ago I pointed out how superficially this mechanisation is treated in a certain part of the world. I gave you the example of how an American way of thinking tries to extend the realm of the machine over human life itself. I told you of the rest-pauses which were used in order to enable a given number of workmen to load up to 47½ tons, instead of a much lower figure; this involves simply the application of Darwinian natural selection to human life.
Where this kind of thing goes on, the wish to yoke up human strength with the strength of machines is always involved. It would be quite mistaken merely to oppose these things. They are not going to fade away; they are on the march. The only question is whether in the course of world-history they are going to be brought on to the scene by men who are unselfishly aware of the great aims of earth-evolution and wish to shape these developments for the healing of mankind, or by groups of men who want to use them for their own or the group's selfish ends. That is the issue. The point is not what is going to happen, for it certainly will happen, but how it happens — how these things are handled. The welding together of human beings with machines will be a great and important problem for the rest of the earth-evolution.
I have often pointed out, even in public lectures, that human consciousness depends on destructive forces. During public lectures in Basle I twice said that in our nerve-system we are always in process of dying. These forces of death will become stronger and stronger, and we shall find that they are related to the forces of electricity and magnetism, and to those at work in machines. A man will be able in a certain sense to guide his intentions and his thoughts into the forces of the machines. Forces in human nature that are still unknown will be discovered — forces which will act upon external electricity and magnetism.
That is one problem: the bringing together of human beings with machines, and this is something which will exert ever-increasing influence on the future.
The other problem is concerned with calling in spiritual relationships to our aid. This can be done only when the time is ripe, and when a sufficient number of people are rightly prepared for it. But we must come to the stage when spiritual forces are brought into action for the governance of life in relation to illness and death.
Medicine will be spiritualised — very highly spiritualised. These things will be caricatured from various standpoints, but the caricatures only show what has to come. Again, the question is whether or not this problem — like the other problem I have mentioned — is handled in an egotistic way by individuals or by groups.
The third great question concerns ways of thinking about human birth and upbringing. I have told you how congresses on this subject have already been held, and how a materialistic form of science will be brought to bear in the future on procreation and the union of man and woman. These things indicate the great significance that attaches to this process of becoming. It is easy enough to ask why those who have the right knowledge in these matters do not apply it. In the future it will be clear enough what the state of affairs is regarding this application, and what are the forces which are even now opposing, for example, a more generous provision for a spiritualised medicine or a spiritualised economic life. All that can be done at present is to speak of these things, until people — I mean those who are ready to accept them selflessly — understand them sufficiently. There are many who think they have already got as far as that, but many hindrances arise from the circumstances of life to-day. These will be overcome in the right way only if understanding goes deeper and deeper, and if we actually refrain, for a time at least, from attempting practical applications on any large scale.
Things have developed in such a way that one can say: Little is known of all that lay behind the old atavistic searchings which continued up to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. People talk a great deal about the old alchemy; sometimes they call to mind the creation of Homunculus and so on. But most of this talk misses the point. If people would come to understand what can be said about the Homunculus scene in Faust, for instance, they would be better informed: the essential thing is that a mist has been spread over these subjects since the sixteenth century. They have receded into the background of human consciousness.
The law which prevails here is the same law which governs the rhythmic alternation of waking and sleeping in man. Just as a person cannot do without sleep, so mankind could not dispense with the sleep regarding spiritual knowledge which has marked the whole period since the sixteenth century. Man had to fall asleep to the spiritual, so that it could reappear in a new form. These necessities must be clearly seen, but without letting them depress us. We must realise clearly that the time for awakening has now come, that we have to play our part in it, that events often run ahead of our knowledge and that we shall not understand the events going on around us unless we are willing to receive the knowledge and to act in accordance with it.
I have repeatedly told you that certain groups are working esoterically in the direction I have indicated. It was first of all necessary that certain forms of knowledge — called nowadays by such misunderstood words as alchemy, astrology, etc. — should fall into abeyance, so that men should no longer be able to discern the soul-element in outer Nature and should rather be thrown back on themselves. And in order that they should awaken their inward forces, certain things had to appear as abstractions. Now these things must again take on a concrete spiritual form.
During the last centuries three ideas have gradually emerged in abstract guise. They were incorrectly named by Kant, and correctly by Goethe. Kant called them God, Freedom and Immortality; Goethe called them God, Virtue and Immortality. If we look into what lies behind these three words, we find that the same words are taken abstractly by modern man and were taken more concretely — but also more materially in the old atavistic sense — up to the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. Experiments in the old style were carried out: the alchemists sought to observe processes in which the working of God could be seen. And they tried to produce the Philosopher's Stone.
Something concrete lies behind all these things. The Philosopher's Stone was to enable men to become virtuous — but this was thought of in a more material sense. It was also to lead to an experience of immortality: to bring a man into such a relationship to the cosmic whole that he would experience in himself what lies beyond birth and death. All the nebulous ideas by which people nowadays try to grasp these things no longer correspond with what was really intended. It has all become abstract, and it is of abstract ideas that modern men speak. They want to understand God through an abstract theology, and virtue also as something abstract — the more abstract it is, the better people like it. And it is the same with immortality. Speculation turns on what in man could be immortal. In my first Basle lecture [23rd November, 1917. (Not translated into English.)] I said that the kind of learning which under the name of philosophy occupies itself with such questions as that of immortality is a starveling, under-nourished kind of learning. That is merely another way of describing the abstract terms in which such matters are pursued.
In certain Western brotherhoods, however, a connection with the old traditions has been retained, and endeavours are made to use it for the egotistic interests of the group. It is time to call attention to these things. Of course, if from this Western quarter anything is said about God, virtue or freedom, and immortality, the words are given an abstract sense, but in the circle of initiates it is well known that all this is not mere abstract speculation. For their own part, they look for something much more concrete behind these abstract formulae, and in their own schools these terms are accordingly translated. God is translated as gold, and an endeavour is made to arrive at what lies behind the secret of gold, as it may be called. For gold, the representative of the sun-like within the earth's crust, does in fact enshrine an important secret. Gold stands in the same material relationships to other substances as the thought of God does to other thoughts. The only question is what is made of this secret.
This is linked up with the egotistic use of the mystery of birth, and here, real cosmic understanding is sought. All such understanding has been replaced for modern men by a purely earthly understanding. If someone wants to investigate, for example, how the embryonic life-cell of animal or man develops, he studies it through a microscope and is concerned only with what lies there directly under his lens. But that is far from being the whole thing. It will be realised — and some groups are very near this already — that the forces at work are not contained in the cell but come from the cosmos and its constellations. When a seed of life arises, it does so because the living creature which harbours the seed is receiving forces, cosmic forces, from all sides of the cosmos. And when fertilisation occurs, the results depend on which cosmic forces enter actively into the process.
One thing, not yet seen, will be recognised. To-day the idea is that we have a living creature, a hen, let us say. When a new seed of life appears in the hen, the biologist investigates how the egg arises out of the hen; he looks within the hen itself for the forces which cause the seed to grow. That is nonsense. The egg does not grow out of the hen; the hen is merely the substratum for it. The growth-forces work from out of the cosmos on to the soil which has been prepared in the hen for engendering the egg. The biologist to-day believes that the relevant forces are all to be found within the field of his microscope. Actually, what he sees there depends on stellar forces which work together in a certain pattern at a given point. When we discover the cosmic at this point, then for the first time we shall have got at the reality and the truth: it is the cosmic whole which conjures up the egg in the hen.
All this is connected especially with the secret of the sun, and in earthly terms with the secret of gold. To-day I can give you only a sort of schematic indication of it; these things will become much clearer in the course of time.
When “virtue” is discussed in these same schools, they call it simply “health,” and try to learn how the cosmic constellations are connected with health and sickness in men. By this means they come to know the particular earthly substances, the juices and so on, which are in their turn connected with sickness and health. We shall see develop increasingly from a certain direction a more material form of medical knowledge, but it will rest on a spiritual foundation.
From this side also will be spread the idea that man cannot be made good by learning all sorts of ethical principles, but by ingesting copper, for example, under a certain constellation, and arsenic under another. You can well imagine how ideas of this kind can be used by egotistic groups for enhancing their own power. They need only withhold this knowledge from others, and this will be the best means of dominating large numbers of men. They will not need to talk about such things; it will be enough to bring forward some new titbit. Then they will find openings for this titbit, having first flavoured it appropriately, and they will achieve their purpose when these novelties are accepted in a materialistic sense. We have only to remember that spiritual potencies are hidden in everything material. Only he who knows that in a true sense there really is nothing material, but only the spiritual — only he will penetrate behind the secrets of life.
Similar endeavours are made from the same quarter to transpose the problem of immortality into a materialistic frame, and this, too, can be done by making use of the cosmic constellations. This method certainly does not yield the immortality that is the subject of so many speculations, but immortality of another sort. Given a brotherhood lodge, then — at least so long as life cannot be lengthened by working on the physical body — preparations are made for subjecting a soul to such experiences as will enable it to remain within the lodge after death, so that it may contribute its forces to those at the disposal of the lodge. In these circles, accordingly, immortality is called simply “lengthening of life.”
External signs of all this can indeed be seen. I don't know if some of you may have noticed a book which also came from the West and caused a little stir for a while; it was called “On the Nonsense of Death.” These things all move in the same direction. They are still at their beginnings, for everything beyond that is kept as a closely guarded esoteric secret by the egotistic groups. But these things are really possible if they are given a materialistic colouring; if the abstract ideas of God, virtue and immortality are turned into the concrete ideas of gold, health and lengthening of life, and if what I have called the great problem of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch is utilised for the purpose of an egotistic group. You see, this “cosmic feeling,” which the learned Professor and Doctor of Theology talks about, is already being widely presented to people — and often, unfortunately, in an egotistic sense — as cosmic knowledge. For centuries science has kept its eyes fixed on earthly processes, and has ignored all the most significant influences that come from beyond the earth, but it is precisely in our fifth post-Atlantean epoch that extra-terrestrial forces from the cosmos will be put to use.
And so, just as it is essential for an orthodox professor of biology to have the most powerful microscope available and the most efficient laboratory methods, so, in the future, when science has been spiritualised, it will be of the utmost importance whether certain processes are carried through in the morning or in the evening, or at midday, and whether what has been done in the morning is allowed to be further influenced by an evening activity, or whether the cosmic influences are cut out, paralysed, from the morning until the evening. Processes of this kind will of necessity come to light and will run their course. Naturally, a great deal of water will have to flow under the bridges before the professional chairs and laboratories, at present organised on purely materialistic lines, are handed over to spiritual scientists, but this replacement must come about if humanity is not to sink into utter decadence. For example, if the question is one of doing good in the immediate future, existing laboratory methods must give way to methods whereby certain processes take place in the morning and are interrupted during the day, so that the cosmic stream passes through them again in the evening and is in turn rhythmically withheld again until morning. So the processes would take their course: certain cosmic workings would always be interrupted by day, and the cosmic morning and evening processes would be brought in. All sorts of arrangements would be necessary for this. You will realise that if one is not in a position to take any public action about these things, all one can do is to speak of them.
However, just as gold, health and the prolongation of life are put in the place of God, virtue and immortality, so from the same quarter efforts will be made to work not with the morning and evening processes, but with others. Last week I told you how an attempt will be made to set aside the impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha, while for the West another impulse, a sort of Anti-Christ is introduced; and from the East an attempt will be made to paralyse the twentieth-century manifestation of the Christ Impulse by diverting attention from the coming etheric Christ.
Those concerned to present an Anti-Christ as the real Christ will try also to make use of something that works through the most material forces, but in this very way can work spiritually. Above all they will strive to make use of electricity and earth-magnetism in order to produce effects all over the world. I have shown you how earth-forces rise up into what I have called the human Double, the Doppelgänger. This secret will be opened up. An American secret will be to make use of earth-magnetism, with its north-south duality, and by this means to send over the earth guiding forces which will have spiritual effects. Look at the magnetic chart of the earth and compare it with what I am now saying. Observe where the magnetic needle deviates to East and West and where it does not deviate. I can give only hints about all this. From a certain direction in the heavens, spiritual beings are continually active, and they have only to be put into the service of the earth, and — because these beings working in from the cosmos can mediate the secret of the earth's magnetism — it will be possible for egotistic groups to get behind this secret and to accomplish a great deal in connection with gold, health and the prolongation of life. It will be necessary for them only to pluck up their faltering courage — and in certain circles that will be done readily enough!
From the East an endeavour will be made to strengthen what I have already explained: to place in the service of the earth the beings which work in from the opposite side of the cosmos. In the future there will be a great battle. Human science will stretch out to the cosmic, but will try to get there by different paths. It will be the task of good, healing science to find certain cosmic forces which can reach the earth through the co-operation of two cosmic streams, those of Pisces and Virgo. The great secret to be discovered will be how the influence which works from the direction of Pisces as a power of the sun unites itself with the influence working from the direction of Virgo. It will make for good when it is learnt how the morning and evening forces from the two sides of the cosmos can be brought into the service of humanity. (See diagram at end of lecture.)
These forces, however, will be left aside by those who try to achieve their whole purpose through the polaric duality of positive and negative forces. The forces which enable the spiritual to stream down to earth with the aid of positive and negative magnetism come from Gemini; they are the midday forces. In ancient times it was known that cosmic influences were involved in this, and to-day even exoteric scientists are aware that in some or other way positive and negative magnetism lie behind Gemini in the Zodiac. The aim will be to paralyse all that could be gained through a revelation of the true duality in the cosmos — to paralyse it in a materialistic, egotistic way by means of the forces which stream in particularly from Gemini and can be placed entirely at the service of the human “Double.”
Other brotherhoods, concerned above all to divert attention from the Mystery of Golgotha, will try to make use of the duality in human nature — the duality which in our epoch embraces man as a unity, but includes within him his lower animal nature. A human being is really a centaur in a certain sense: his humanity rests on his lower animal nature in its astral form. This working together of the duality in man gives rise to a duality of forces. This duality of forces will be utilised particularly by certain egotistic brotherhoods, chiefly from the side of India and the East, in order to mislead eastern Europe, whose task it is to prepare for the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. And this will be done with the aid of the forces which work in from Sagittarius.
Whether to conquer the cosmic for mankind in a wrong, twofold way, or rightly in a one-fold way — that is the question facing mankind. From this will come a true renewal of astrology, which in its old form is atavistic and cannot survive. The wise Beings of the cosmos will enter into the struggle; one side will use the morning and evening processes in the way I have indicated; the West will prefer the midday processes, shutting out the morning and evening ones; and the East will prefer the midnight ones. Men will no longer manufacture substances on the basis merely of chemical attraction and repulsion; they will know that different substances arise according to whether they are made with morning and evening processes, or with midday and midnight ones. It will be known that such substances act in a quite different way on the triad, God, virtue and immortality — gold, health and prolongation of life. When the forces of Pisces and Virgo act in co-operation, nothing wrongful can be brought into being. Men will achieve something through which the mechanism of life will be detached, in a certain sense, from man himself, but will not give any one group power and rulership over another. The cosmic forces drawn from this direction will create remarkable machines, but only those that will relieve man of work, because they will carry a certain power of intelligence within themselves. And a Spiritual Science which itself reaches out towards the cosmic will have to see to it that all the great temptations which come from these machine-animals, created by man himself, are not allowed to exercise any harmful influence upon him.
With regard to all this, the essential thing is that people should prepare themselves for it by not treating realities as illusions and by coming to a genuine spiritual conception and understanding of the world. To see things as they are — very much depends on that! But we can see them as they are only if we are in a position to bring the ideas of Spiritual Science to bear on reality. For the rest of the earth's existence the dead will be co-operating actively in the highest degree, and it is how they co-operate that will matter. Here, above all, a great distinction will arise. On one side the attitude of men on earth can rightly lead the co-operation of the dead in such a direction that the dead will be active out of their own impulse, an impulse coming from the spiritual world which the dead are themselves experiencing. But from the other side many endeavours will be made to introduce the dead into human existence by artificial means. Along the indirect path through Gemini the dead will be led into human life, with the result that human vibrations will pass over into the mechanism of machines and will continue to vibrate there in a quite definite way. The cosmos will impart motion to the machines by the indirect path I have indicated.
It will thus be essential, when these problems emerge, that no improper methods should be applied to them, but only those elemental forces which belong to nature on their own account, and great care will have to be taken not to introduce improper forces into the realm of machines. In this occult sphere the human element must not be related to machinery in such a way that the Darwinian natural selection theory is used to determine the working capacity of human beings, in the way of which I gave you an example last week.
I am making these remarks — obviously they cannot exhaust the subject in so short a time — in the belief that you will meditate on these things and will try to build a bridge between them and all those experiences of life which can be encountered, particularly in this difficult time. You will see how things become clear to you if you contemplate them in the light that can come from such ideas as those I have been placing before you. The real point is not that in our time powers and constellations of powers are standing opposed to each other, as we are always being told in external exoteric life. The real point is quite different. It is that a kind of veil is now meant to be spread over the true impulses at work. Certain human powers are intent on saving something for themselves — what is it? Their aim is that impulses which up to the time of the French Revolution were justified, and were represented also by certain occult schools, shall now be taken charge of in an Ahrimanic-Luciferic sense, so as to maintain a form of society which is generally thought to have been overcome since the end of the eighteenth century.
Two powers, especially, stand in opposition to each other: the power representing the principle that was overcome at the end of the eighteenth century and the power representing the new age. A great many people, of course, are instinctively supporters of the new age. Therefore the representatives of the old impulses, those of the eighteenth, seventeenth and sixteenth centuries, must be yoked by artificial means to the forces which emanate from certain brotherhoods who are working for group-egotistic ends. The most effective principle for extending power over as many men as may be needed is to-day the principle of economic dependence. But that is only an instrument: the real thing is quite different. The real issue you can gather for yourselves from all the various hints I have given. The economic principle is connected with everything which seeks to enlist a great number of men all over the world as a kind of army in the service of these principles.
These are the powers which stand opposed to each other. And this indicates what it is that is really battling in the world to-day. In the West we have the principle which is really rooted in the eighteenth, seventeenth and sixteenth centuries, but which passes unnoticed because it clothes itself in the phrases of revolution and democracy. It wears them as a mask and by this means strives to gain all possible power for itself. These endeavours are favoured if as many people as possible do not exert themselves to see things as they are, and in this field allow themselves to be lulled to sleep again and again by the illusion that to-day there is a war between the Entente and the powers of Central Europe.
In reality there is no such war; only by going behind this illusion can one get at the real struggle, but light can be thrown on it if it is approached along the lines which, for certain reasons, I only hint at. At least we should endeavour not to take illusions for realities: then gradually the illusion will be dispelled as far as it need be. Above all we must strive to see these things objectively, as they really are.
If you bring together all that I have been saying, you will see that an apparently casual remark I made in the course of these lectures was not so at all. When I quoted something that Mephistopheles said to Faust, “I see you know the Devil” (he would certainly not have said this to Woodrow Wilson), it was by no means a casual remark: it can throw a great deal of light on the present situation. We must really look at these things objectively, without sympathy or antipathy; above all, we must be able to see how much in a particular case depends on the setting and how much on the capacity of an individual, for behind an individual's capacity there often lies something quite different from what lies behind the setting. Ask yourselves without prejudice — how much would Woodrow Wilson's brain be worth if it were not throned on the Presidency of the United States? Consider how it would be if this brain had a quite different setting: then its individual capacity would be revealed! The setting is what matters.
Let me now speak abstractly and radically, of course without discussing in detail the particular case I have mentioned — in a neutral country that would not be appropriate. If you take any individual brain, it can be revealing to ask whether it is worth something because it is illuminated and activated by a particular spiritual soul-force — whether it has the kind of spiritual significance I have been speaking of here — or whether it is worth no more than its weight, measured on a pair of scales.
In the eyes of people to-day, all this is grotesque; but what seems grotesque to them must come to seem obvious, if certain things are to be diverted from an unhealthy stream into a health-giving one. And what good is it to be always talking about them? You must come to see that there is no point in wishy-washy talk about “cosmic religiosity” or “how strong the striving for it is,” or of “the movement which aims at discovering and revealing the circulation of the life behind the senses,” and so on. All this does is to spread a mist over things which must be brought out clearly in the world, and should above all be carried as practical moral-ethical impulses into human life.
I can give you only indications. I leave you to build on them in your own meditations. I have been speaking aphoristically in many respects. But you will have the possibility of drawing a great deal out of the relationships shown in this picture of the Zodiac, if you truly use it as a subject for meditation.
|GA 110. The Spiritual Hierarchies — Lecture II|
|Let us now look around at our world: we see solid rocks, flowing streams of water, we see the water changing into rising mist: we see the air, we see all the solid, liquid, gaseous things and we see fire, so that at the foundation of all things we have nothing but fire. All is fire — solidified fire: gold, silver, copper, are solidified fire. All things were once upon a time fire; everything has been born out of fire. But in all that solidified realm, some bewitched spirits are dwelling. How are those spiritual, divine beings who surround us able to produce solid matter as it is on our planet — to produce liquids, and air substances?|
|GA 110. The Spiritual Hierarchies — Lecture II|
The teaching which came from the holy Rishis, during the first post-Atlantean period of civilisation was a knowledge that sprang from purely spiritual sources of existence. What is so important in that teaching and in the investigations of those times is that it entered so deeply into the processes of nature and realised so well the activity of the spirit in those processes. In reality we are always surrounded by spiritual activities and by spiritual entities. When during the time of that ancient holy teaching, mention was made of the phenomena of the world surrounding us, one was always referred to as being the most significant, the most important of all these, this was considered (by that ancient spiritual science) to be the phenomenon of fire. In all explanations of what exists and happens upon the earth, the central point of importance was always given to the spiritual investigation of fire. If we want to understand what we may call the Eastern teaching about fire, which was of such far-reaching importance in those ancient times for the acquisition of the knowledge and understanding of all life, then we must look around us at the other phenomena and occurrences of nature and see how these were considered by that very ancient teaching, which can still be useful nowadays for the purposes of spiritual science. All that surrounds man in the world was then referred back to the so-called four elements. These four elements are respected no longer by the materialistic science of to-day. You all know that these four elements are called Earth, Water, Air, Fire. But where spiritual science flourished the word ‘earth’ had not the same meaning as it has nowadays. It stood for a certain state in the material realm: the state or condition of solidity. All that is solid was called ‘earthy’ by the spiritual science of those times. So whether we take the solid earth of a field, or a piece of crystal, or lead, or gold, anything that is solid was then called earth. Everything liquid, not only the water of to-day, was characterised as watery, or as water. If for instance you take iron, pass it through heat to the point of melting so that it can flow, then that liquid iron would have been called water by spiritual science. All metals when liquid were described as water. Everything that has the character of air for us to day, no matter whether it was the condition we call gas, or oxygen, or hydrogen, or other gases, was called air. Fire was considered the fourth element. Those of you who remember elementary physics will know that modern science does not see in fire anything that could be compared with either earth, water or air: the physical science of to day sees in it only a certain condition of movement. Spiritual science sees in warmth or fire something which has in it a still finer substance than air. Just as earth or solidity changes into liquid, So does all air-substance change gradually into the condition of fire — according to spiritual science — and fire is so fine an element that it interpenetrates all other elements. Fire interpenetrates the air and makes it warm, the same with water and earth. The other three elements are, so to speak, separated from each other, but we see the element of fire interpenetrating them all.
Both ancient and modern spiritual science agree that there is yet another still more remarkable difference between what we call Earth, Water, Air, and what we call Fire or Warmth. How do we come to the cognisance of earth or solidity? Through touching it. We realise the solid through touching it and feeling its resistance. It is the same with watery substance. This gives way, it is not so resistant, still we realize it as something external that offers resistance. And it is the same with the element of air. We recognise it also as something external. With warmth it is different. Here we find something which modern science does not consider important, but which must become important for us if we want to study the real problems of existence.
We can realise warmth without coming in contact with it externally. What is essential is that we can realise warmth by touching a body which has a certain degree of warmth: we can perceive it externally in the same way as we realise the three other elements, but we also feel it in our inward conditions. Therefore ancient science says (and did so already at the time of the old Indians), that earth, water, air, can be realised only in the outer world, but warmth is the first element which can also be felt within oneself. Thus, fire or warmth has, so to speak, two sides to it. An outer, which it shows when we take cognisance of it in the outer world and an inner when we feel that we ourselves are in a certain state of warmth. Man feels his own condition of warmth; he is hot, or he freezes; but consciously he is not much concerned with the gaseous or liquid or solid substances — the air, water, or earth — which are in him. He begins to ‘feel’ himself in the element of warmth. The element of warmth has an inner and an outward side. Therefore both ancient and modern spiritual science agree that warmth or fire is that wherein matter begins to become soul. And so in the true sense of the word — we may speak of an outer fire which we realise in the other elements, and of an inner psychic fire within our soul.
In this way, spiritual science always considered fire as the link between the outer material world on the one side, and the realm of the soul on the other, which can be known by man within his inner being. Fire or warmth was placed in the centre of all observations of nature, because fire is, so to speak, the portal through which we may pass from the outer into the inner. In all truth, fire is like a door in front of which one stands. One sees it from outside, one opens it and can observe it from within. Such is fire amongst the objects of nature. One touches some object and becomes acquainted with fire, which streams towards us from outside like the three other elements: one realises one's own inner warmth and feels it as something belonging to oneself; one stands inside the portal, one has entered into the realm of the soul. Thus was the science of fire described. In fire was seen the interplay of soul and matter. We have now placed before our souls an elementary lesson of primeval human wisdom.
The ancient teachers may have spoken thus: ‘Look at that burning object. See how the fire destroys it. Thou seest two things in that burning object.’ In those ancient times one was called smoke, and it may still be so called nowadays, and the other was called light, and the spiritual scientist saw the fire in the middle between light and smoke. The teacher said: ‘Out of the flame are born simultaneously light on the one side, smoke on the other.’ Now we must for once put very clearly before us a very simple but very far-reaching fact, which has to do with the light, which is born of fire. It is most probable that many people when asked whether they see the light would answer: ‘Yes, of course.’ And yet this answer is as false as possible; for, in truth, no physical eye can see light. Through light one sees objects which are solid, liquid, or gaseous, but the light itself one does not see. Imagine the whole of universal space illuminated by a light the source of which was somewhere behind you, where you could not see it and you were to look into the world spaces illuminated through and through by that light. Would you see the light? You would see absolutely nothing. You would first see something when some object was placed within that illuminated space. One does not see the light, one sees the solid, the watery, the gaseous, by means of the light. One does not see physical light with the physical eye. This is something which comes before the spiritual eye with particular clearness. Spiritual science says therefore: light makes everything visible, but is itself invisible. This sentence is important: light is imperceptible. It cannot be perceived by the outer senses: one call perceive what is solid, liquid, or gaseous, finally one can perceive warmth or fire outwardly. This one can also begin to feel inwardly, but light itself one can no longer perceive outwardly. If you believe that when you see the sun you see light you are mistaken: you see a flaming body, a burning substance out of which the light streams. It could be proved to you that you have there gaseous, liquid, and earthy substances. You do not see light, you see that which is burning. But spiritual science says we pass in ascending order from earth to water, from air to fire, and then to light, we pass thus from the outwardly recognisable world, from the visible world into the invisible, into the etheric-spiritual world. Fire stands on the border between the outwardly visible, material world, and that which is etheric and spiritual, which is no more outwardly visible or recognisable. What happens to a body that is destroyed through fire? What happens when something burns? When something burns, we see on one side light appear, which is outwardly imperceptible and which is operative in the spiritual world. Something that is not merely outer material gives forth the warmth and when it is strong enough to become a source of light it yields something invisible, something which cannot be recognised any more through the outer senses, but it must pay for this in smoke. From what was formerly translucent and transparent it has to bring forth something not transparent — something of the nature of smoke. Thus you see how warmth or fire becomes differentiated, how it divides. On one side it divides itself into light, with which it opens a way into the super-sensible world, and in payment for that which it sends up as light into the super-sensible world, it must send something down into the material world, into the world of non-transparent, visible things. Nothing one-sided comes forth in the world. Everything that exists has two sides to it. When light is produced through warmth, then turbid, dark matter appears on the other side. That is the teaching of primeval spiritual science.
But the process we have just described is only the outer side, the physical, material process. At the foundation of this physically material process there lies something essentially different. When you have only warmth in some object which as yet does not shine, then this warmth which you perceive is itself the outer physical part but within it is something spiritual. When this warmth grows so strong that it begins to shine and smoke is formed, then some of the spirit which was in the warmth must go into the smoke. That spiritual part which was in the warmth and has passed into the smoke, which being gaseous and belonging to air is a lower element than warmth, that spiritual part is transmuted, bewitched, as it were, into smoke. Thus with everything which like a turbid extract or a materialisation is deposited by the warmth, there is also associated what might be called the bewitching of some spiritual being. We can explain it still more simply. Let us imagine that we reduce air to a watery condition. Air itself is nothing but solidified warmth, densified warmth in which smoke has been formed. The spiritual part which really wanted to be in the fire has been bewitched into smoke. Spiritual beings, which are also called elementals, are bewitched in all air, and will even be bewitched, banished, so to speak, to a lower existence, when air is changed into water. Hence spiritual science sees in everything that is outwardly perceptible something that has proceeded from an original condition of fire or warmth and which has turned into air, smoke, or gas, when the warmth began to condense into gas, gas into liquid, liquid into solid. ‘Look backwards,’ says the spiritual scientist, look at any solid substance. That solidity was once liquid, it is only in the course of evolution that it has become solid and the liquid was once upon a time gaseous and the gaseous formed itself as smoke, out of the fire. But a transmutation, a bewitching of spiritual being is always connected with these processes of condensation and with the formation of gases and solids.
Let us now look around at our world: we see solid rocks, flowing streams of water, we see the water changing into rising mist: we see the air, we see all the solid, liquid, gaseous things and we see fire, so that at the foundation of all things we have nothing but fire. All is fire — solidified fire: gold, silver, copper, are solidified fire. All things were once upon a time fire; everything has been born out of fire. But in all that solidified realm, some bewitched spirits are dwelling.
How are those spiritual, divine beings who surround us able to produce solid matter as it is on our planet — to produce liquids, and air substances? They send down their elemental spirits, those which live in the fire: they imprison them in air, in water and in earth. These are the emissaries, the elemental emissaries of the spiritual, creative, building beings. The elemental spirits first enter into fire. In fire they still feel comfortable — if we care to express it by images — and then they are condemned to a life of bewitchment. We can say looking around us: ‘These beings, whom we have to thank for all the things that surround us, had to come down out of the fire-element; they are bewitched in those things.’
Can we as men do anything to help those elemental spirits? This is the great question which was put by the Holy Rishis. Can we do anything to release, to redeem, all that is here, bewitched? Yes! We can help them. Because what we men do here in the physical world is nothing else than an outward expression of spiritual processes. All we do is also of importance for the spiritual world. Let us consider the following. A man stands in front of a crystal, or a lump of gold, or anything of that kind. He looks at it. What happens when a man simply gazes, simply stares with his physical eye upon some outer object? A continual interplay occurs between the man and the bewitched elemental spirits. The man and that which is bewitched in the substance have something to do with each other. Let us suppose that the man only stares at the object and takes in only what is impressed on his physical eye. Something is always passing from the elemental being into the man. Something from those bewitched elementals passes continually into the man, from morning till night. While you are thus regarding objects, hosts of these elemental beings, who were and are being continually bewitched through the world-processes of condensation, are continually entering from your surroundings into you. Let us take it that the man staring at the objects has no inclination whatever to think about those objects, no inclination to let the spirit of things live in his soul. He lives comfortably, merely passes through the world, but he does not work on it spiritually, with his ideas or feelings or in any such way. He remains simply a spectator of the material things he meets with in the world. Then these elemental spirits pass into him and remain there, having gained nothing from the world's process, but the fact of having passed from the outer world into man. Let us take another kind of man, one who works spiritually on the impressions he receives from the outer world, who with his understanding and ideas forms conceptions regarding the spiritual foundations of the world, one who does not simply stare at a metal, but ponders over its nature and feels the beauty which inspires and spiritualises his impressions. What does such a man do? Through his own spiritual process, he releases the elemental being which has streamed into him from the outer world; he raises it to what it was before, he frees the elemental from its state of enchantment. Thus, through our own spiritual life, we can, without changing them, either imprison within us those spirits which are bewitched in air, water and earth, or else through our own increasing spirituality, free them and lead them back to their own element. During the whole of his earthly life, man lets those elemental spirits stream into him from the outer world. In the same measure in which he only stares at things, in the same measure in which he simply lets the spirit dwell in him without transforming them, so, in like measure as he tries with his ideas, conceptions and feeling for beauty to work out spiritually what he sees in the outer world, does he release and redeem those spiritual elemental beings.
Now what happens to those elemental beings which, having come out of things, enter into man? They remain at first within him. Also those which are released at first remain, but they stay only until his death. When the man passes through death a differentiation takes place between those elemental beings which have simply passed into him and which he had not led back to their higher element, and those whom he has through his own spiritualisation led back to their former condition. Those whom the man has not changed have not gained anything from their passage from the outer world into him, but others have gained the possibility of returning to their own original world with the man's death. During his life man is a place of transition for these elemental beings. When he has passed through the spiritual world and returns to earth in his next incarnation, all the elemental beings which he has not released during his former life flock into him again when he passes through the portals of his new birth, they return with him into the physical world; but those he has released he does not bring back with him for they have returned into their original element.
Thus we see how man has it in his power, by the way he acts and feels towards outer nature, either to release those elemental spirits which have been necessarily bewitched through the coming into existence of our earth, or to bind them to the earth still more strongly than they were before. What does a man do when, in looking at some outer object he releases from it an elemental being by elucidating it? He spiritually does the opposite of what has been done before. Previously, smoke had been brought forth out of fire, but man spiritually forms fire again out of that smoke; only after death does he release this fire. Now think for a moment of the endless depth and spirituality of the ancient ceremonies of sacrifice, as seen in the light of primeval spiritual science! Imagine to yourselves the Priest at the sacrificial altar in those times when religion was built on the real knowledge of spiritual laws; think of the Priest lighting the flame, and the rising of the smoke, and as the smoke rises a real sacrifice is offered, for it is followed upwards by prayers — What happens then? What happens during such a sacrifice? The Priest stands at the altar where the smoke is produced. Where something solid comes out of the warmth, a spirit is being transmuted, bewitched. But because the man follows the whole procedure with prayers, he at the same time receives that spirit into himself in such a way that after death it rises again into the higher world. What did the teacher of ancient wisdom say to those who had to understand this? He said: ‘If thou lookest upon the outer world in such a way that thy spiritual process does not stop at the smoke, but rises to the element of fire, then after thy death thou dost free the spirit which is bewitched in the smoke.’ Yes! The teacher who knew the fate of the spirit, which after being bewitched in the smoke had passed into man, spoke thus: ‘If thou leavest that spirit as it was when it was in the smoke, then it must be reborn with thee and cannot rise into the spiritual world after thy death; but if thou hast released it and restored it to the fire, then after thy death it will rise again into the spiritual worlds and will not need to return to the earth at thy rebirth.’
Now we have explained one part of that profound sentence from the Bhagavad Gita of which I spoke in my last lecture. It does not speak here at all of the human Ego, it speaks of those nature spirits, of these elemental beings which enter into man from the outer world, and it says there: ‘Behold the fire, behold the smoke, that which man through his spiritual processes turns into fire are spirits which he liberates with his death.’ That which he leaves as it is, in the smoke, must remain united to him at his death and must be reborn with him when he returns to earth. It is the destiny of the elemental spirits that is here described; through the wisdom which man develops, he continually liberates at his death these elemental spirits; through lack of wisdom, through the materialistic attachment to the mere things of the senses, he ties those elemental spirits to himself and forces them to follow him into this world, ever to be born again with him.
But these elemental beings are not only associated with fire and with what is connected with fire, they are the emissaries of higher spiritual divine beings in all that takes place in the outer sense world. There never could have been that interplay of forces in the world that produce the day and the night, for instance, if numbers of such elemental being had not worked suitably at the rotation of the planet through the universe, so that precisely this interchange of day and night could come about. All that takes place is the result of the activity of hosts of lower and higher spiritual entities belonging to the spiritual hierarchies. We have been speaking of the lowest order, of the messengers. When night becomes day and day night, elemental beings live also in that process, and so it is that man stands in an intimate relationship with the beings of the elemental world which have to take part in working at the day and the night. When man is idle and lets himself go, he affects those elementals who have to do with the day and the night quite differently, than when he has creative force, when he is active, diligent, and productive. When a man is lazy for instance, he unites himself with a certain kind of elemental and he also does so when he is active, but in a particular way. Those elementals of the second class, just named, who are active during the day, are then in their higher element. As fire elementals, those of the first class, are bound in air water and earth, so certain elemental being are also tied to darkness; and day could not turn into night, day could not be divided from night, if these elementals were not so to speak imprisoned in night. That man is able to enjoy daylight, he has to thank divine spiritual beings who have driven forth elemental spirits and have chained them to the night-time. When man is lazy these elementals flow into him continually, but he leaves them as they are, unchanged. Those elemental spirits which at night are chained to darkness, he let through his idleness remain in the same state; those elemental who enter into him when he is active and industrious and filled with working power, he leads back into daylight. Thus he continually releases these elementals of the second class. Throughout the whole of our lifetime we bear within us all those elemental spirits which have entered into us either during our hours of idleness or during those of active work. When we pass through the gates of death those beings whom we have led towards daylight can now return into the spirit world; those we have left chained to the night through our idleness, must return with us in our new incarnation. With this we arrive at the second point in the Bhagavad Gita. Again it is not the human self, but those elemental beings which are indicated with the words: ‘Behold the day and the night. That which thou hast thyself released by turning it from a being of the night into a being of the day through thy diligence; that which comes forth out of the day enters when thou diest, into the higher world; that which thou takest with thee as beings of the night, thou forcest to reincarnate with thee again.’
And now you will see clearly how the matter proceeds. As it is with the phenomena of which we have just spoken, so it is on a larger scale with our month of 28 days, with the changes of the waxing and waning moon. Whole flocks of elemental beings have to come into activity to direct the motions of the moon so that our lunar periods can come about as they do with all the influences they bring with them upon our visible earth. For this purpose certain of the higher beings had again to be bewitched, doomed, chained. Clairvoyant vision sees how, with the waxing moon, spiritual beings of a lower kingdom ever rise into a higher. But, so that order should exist, other spiritual elemental beings must again be transformed into those of lower realms. There are also those elementals of a third realm who stand in relationship with men. When man is serene and bright, when he is pleased with the world, when he has feelings of gladness towards all things, he continually releases those beings which are chained to the waning moon. These beings enter into him and are continually set free, through his soul's peaceful attitude, through his inner contentment, through his harmonious feelings and ideas towards the whole world. The beings which enter into man when he is sullen, peevish, morose, discontented with anything, when everything depresses him — when he is pessimistic — these spirits remain in the condition of bewitchment they were in at the time of the waning moon. Oh! There are men who through the harmonious condition of their soul, through the bright way they look upon the world, release and set free great numbers of these bewitched elemental beings. The man of harmonious and optimistic feelings and who feels inner satisfaction with the world, is a deliverer of elemental spiritual beings. The pessimist, he who is morose, sullen and discontented, becomes through his depression the gaoler of elemental spirits which could have been released by his cheerfulness. Thus you see that the conditions of mind and soul have not only a personal importance for this man, but also that he works either at the liberation or the imprisonment of spiritual beings; either deliverance or fetters proceed from him. The conditions of soul that a man experiences go out in all directions into the spiritual world. We have here the third point of that important teaching in the Bhagavad Gita: ‘Behold what man does through the feelings and conditions of his soul, how he sets spirits free, as they are set free by the growing moon.’ When the man dies, these released spirits can return to the spiritual world. If through his depression and hypochondriacal moods, he calls to him the elemental spirits which are around him, and then leaves them as they are, as they have to be in order to bring about the orderly courses of the moon, then these spirits remain chained to him and must reincarnate with him into this world.
And last of all we have a fourth degree of elemental spirits, those who have to work at the annual course of the sun, so that the summer sun may shine upon the earth to awaken and fructify it, so that spring can appear and be succeeded by autumn. In order that this may come to pass certain spirits must be fettered to winter-time, must be bewitched during the time of the winter sun. And man acts upon these spirits in the same way as we have described his acting on the other grades of spirits. Let us take man who at the beginning of winter says to himself: ‘The nights are getting longer, the days shorter, we come to that time of the sun's yearly course when the sun withdraws his fructifying forces from the earth. The outer earth dies, but with this deadening of the earth I feel it my duty to be all the more spiritually awake. I must now take more and more of the spirit within me.’ Let us take a man who acquires a more and more religious mood appropriate to the season as Christmas comes on, who learns to know the significance of Christmas and to know also that when the outer world of the senses is dead the life of the spirit must now grow stronger. This man lives through winter until Easter. He remembers that with the awakening of the outer world is combined the death of the spiritual: he lives through the Easter festival comprehending its meaning. Such a man has not only an outer religion; he has religious understanding of the processes of nature, of the spirit which rules it; and through his piety, his spirituality, he releases numbers of that fourth class of elemental beings which continually stream in and out of him, which are connected with the course of the sun. But the man who is not pious in this sense, who denies or does not understand the spirit and is always muddling through a materialistic chaos, into him these elementals of the fourth class flow, but remain unchanged. At death it happens again: that these elemental spirits of the fourth degree are either set free in their own element, or else are bound to the man and have to return with him at his next incarnation. Thus, the man, who uniting with the winter spirits does not change them into summer spirits, does not redeem them through his spirituality, dooms them to rebirth, whereas they might have been freed and not have had to return with him. Behold the fire and the smoke! If you so unite with the outer world that the activity of your soul and spirit is like that of fire, from which smoke comes forth, so that you spiritualise things, through knowledge and through right feeling, you help certain spiritual elemental beings to rise; but if you unite with the smoke you condemn them to rebirth. If you associate yourself with the day, you then set free the corresponding spirits of day and so on. Behold the light! Behold the day! Behold the waxing of the moon and the sunny half of the year! If you act so that you lead the elemental spirits back to the light, to the day, to the waxing moon, to the summer-time of the year, you then at your death release these elementary spirits which are so necessary to you. They rise to the spiritual world. If you associate yourself with the smoke, if you only gaze at the solid things of the earth, if through laziness you unite yourself with the night and with the spirits of the waning moon, and if through your depression you unite yourself with those spirits who are chained to the winter sun, then through your lack of spirit, your godlessness, you condemn these elementary beings to be reincarnated with you again!
Now we know for the first time what this passage in the Bhagavad Gita really means. If anyone thinks that man is here spoken of, he does not understand the Bhagavad Gita; but those who know that all human life is a continual interplay between man and the spirits who live bewitched into our surroundings and who must be released again — those know that these sentences speak of the ascension or of the reincarnation of four groups of elemental beings. The mystery of this lowest kind of hierarchy has been preserved for us in these sentences in the Bhagavad Gita. Yes! When one has to bring forth out of primeval wisdom what is presented to us in the documents of ancient religion, one sees how grand these are and how wrong it is to understand them superficially and not in all their profundity. They are only considered in the right way when one says to oneself: ‘No wisdom is exalted enough to discover the mysteries herein contained.’ Only when these ancient documents are interpenetrated by the magic of real devotional feeling, do they become what in the true sense of the word they must be — self-ennobling and purifying forces for human evolution. They point frequently to fathomless abysses of human wisdom, and only when that which springs from the sources of the occult schools and the mysteries, streams forth from now on to all mankind, only then, will these reflections of the primeval wisdom (for they are but reflections) be seen in all their greatness. We have had to show, by means of a comparatively difficult example, how in the times of primeval wisdom the co-operation of all those spirits which are everywhere around us was well known, how it was also known that the deeds of men represent an interchanging activity between the spiritual world and the world of man's own inner being. The problem of humanity first becomes important for us, when we know that in all we do, even in our moods, we influence a whole Cosmos, and that this small world of ours is of infinitely far-reaching importance for all that comes to pass in the macrocosm. An increase in our feeling of responsibility is the finest and most important of all the things we gain from spiritual science. It teaches us to grasp the true meaning of life and to realise its importance, so that this life which we cast on the stream of evolution may not enter that stream void of meaning.
|GA 100. Theosophy and Rosicrucianism — Progressive Development Through the Different Cycles of Culture|
|In view of the existing conditions, the Atlantean who traveled more to the West, became inwardly neutral natures, cold and indifferent, and developed later on into the copper coloured population of America. The others who traveled further South, became the black Negro population, and those who turned to the East became later on the yellow Malayan population. These populations concentrated themselves in the most unfavourable places which prohibited a further development.|
|GA 100. Theosophy and Rosicrucianism — Progressive Development Through the Different Cycles of Culture|
Yesterday, in the description of the development of the various cycles of earthly development, we reached a point which made us realise how the three celestial bodies, the Sun. the Moon and the Earth, gradually separated from one another. We began by considering this separation and stopped at the point where the Moon separated itself from the Earth, but we also tried to reach this same point by setting out from the present time and going back to the Atlantean epoch. Let us now consider the condition of the Earth at the time of Atlantis. Long, long epochs of time must be borne in mind, taking up millions of years, so that the great changes which took place, not only in the universe, but also upon the earth, need no longer surprise us.
Let:us consider once more the Earth, after its separation from the Moon. It was still enveloped by a volume of air, which presented, however, quite a different aspect from the present air. You must not think that this air inwardly resembled a glowing stove — although its temperature was far higher than is the case now. At that time many substances which are now solid existed within the Earth in a liquid state. An air thickly permeated with gases of the most varied substances, enveloped the Earth, an atmosphere which we might designate as fire-air, a repetition of the former Moon-condition,
When the Earth became independent after its separation from the present Moon, it was surrounded by a strange atmosphere which may be designated as fire-air, Through the fact that the Earth freed itself from the atmosphere which went away with the Moon, the beings who lived upon the Earth were able to attain certain higher stages of development. Within the atmosphere of the Earth the most advanced animal-men had reached a higher stage than the one which they had attained upon the Moon, and these were the beings who later developed into men. A great number of these animal-men remained behind upon the Moon-stage. As a result, they not only remained behind, but owing to the entirely new conditions which now arose, they sank half a degree below the level which they had previously attained, (animal-men could, only live upon the Moon) and thus they became animals. Animals did not as yet exist upon the Moon. We therefore have two kingdoms: Human beings — and the kingdom of animal-men, beings who had remained behind and had gradually sunk to the level of animals.
The same applies to the plant-animals. A certain number of these had developed to a higher stage, to that of animals; others had remained behind and changed into plants. A The kingdom of plant-minerals also followed this line of development: some became heavy minerals, while others ascended in their development to the level of plants.
Not everything arose in accordance with one standard of measure, for the animals which we know to-day arose, for instance, partly through the descending development of men-animals and partly through the ascending development of plant-animals. In the vegetable kingdom also we have side by side the plant-minerals in an ascending course of development and the plant-animals in a descending course. The plants now chiefly constituting the pleasant plant-carpet of our earth, arose through the ascending development of the Moon's plant-minerals; this is, for instance, the case with the violet. On the other hand, everything that gives us a decaying impression is in a descending development, whereas our green, leafy, plants will in future attain to higher stages.
Our minerals developed entirely upon the Earth; there were no minerals upon the Moon, such as exist to-day. The mineral kingdom is the former plant-mineral kingdom which sank down to a lower stage and which was embedded into the earth as a firm crust. When the Earth cast off the Moon, the substances which remained behind and which later on became
You may gather from this that upon the Sun and upon the Moon the mineral kingdom was a vegetable kingdom. The vegetable kingdom has not developed out of the mineral kingdom, but minerals have developed out of the vegetable kingdom! The coal which is now dug out of the earth is nothing but a complex of petrified plant — plants which decayed and became stones, so that now they can be dug out of the earth as petrified plants. If you were to go back still further, you would see that once even the hardest stones were plants; and that they have arisen out of plants through the descending development of plants to the mineral kingdom.
A clairvoyant sees this in the following way: If you investigate gneiss, the mineralogist will tell you that it consists of feldspath, hornblende and mica — but he cannot go further. The clairvoyant says: Feldspath in gneiss appears to spiritual vision quite clearly as the petrified stalk and the green leaves of plants, the petrification of those parts which built them up; whereas the mica foundation is related to that part of the plants which still develops to-day as the plants sepals and corollae. When a modern occultist observes a piece of gneiss he will say: This is a petrified plant, and even as plants now possess leaves and flowers, etc., so the mica foundation of gneiss has developed out of the sepals and petals of ancient epochs.
Thus it can be explained how every mineral developed out of former plants. For the substances which came over from the ancient Moon were plants, which then became densified in the liquid mass of the Earth. Even as one can see the water in a receptacle freezing into solid ice, so it is possible to observe in the early stages of the Earth's development the gradual forming of solid masses. Thus the solid crust of the Earth slowly developed out of the liquid Earth. The further we proceed, the higher and purer become the beings who live upon the Earth, and those that were unable to ascend became petrified. It was the same both with animals and men. Man reached the stage of being able to transform his body in a still higher measure.
The Moon-men floated and swam about in a primordial ocean; they were predisposed to this swimming movement. This may sound strange to modern men, nevertheless it is true; and let it be said without reserve, that I do not wish to mitigate some of these apparently grotesque descriptions;, for generally people laugh at truths when they are revealed for the first time.
The human. being who swam about in this primordial ocean had as yet no eyes and endowed with sight such as we have to-day: man, indeed, received the foundation of sight upon Saturn, but in this primordial ocean he did not need to see; he had to orientate himself in other ways. The ocean contained all the food which he required for his life and also animals, some benevolently disposed towards him; and some not. At that time man still possessed an organ which now exists in the head, it is the size of a cherry and is called the pineal gland (in reality it is not a gland). Once upon a time, this organ was of immense size; it enabled man to orientate himself in the ocean and it protruded from his head like a lantern. Man moved about, by using this lantern-like organ in front; it was a sensitive organ, not an organ of sight. He used it when swimming about. Later on, he no longer needed it and so it shriveled.
At that time it was not possible to speak of an Ego foundation. In regard to everything which man did, he was still under the guidance of higher spiritual powers: We may compare him with the animals of to-day. From a spiritual-scientific aspect, we now look upon animals by saying that man differs from the animal through the fact that he has an individual soul; every man has his own soul, his individual Ego.
This is not the case with animals; for whole groups of animals have one soul in common. For instance, all the animals pertaining to the lion species have one soul, which lives in the astral world. Similarly all the animals of tiger-nature have a soul in common. In the case of animals we therefore speak of group souls. All the horses together have one group soul; these horses belong together. Even as the single fingers belong to the hand, so the animals belong to their group soul. Consequently we cannot speak of individual responsibility in the case of animals. Only of an individual soul can we say that it is either good or evil.
At that time, the human beings possessed a kind of group-soul embedded in the bosom of the Godhead. We must however realise that that which now lives in us as our Ego already existed in those early epochs, but it did not live within the human body.
Man's origin must be sought in two currents: that which came over from the Moon and continued to develop, constituted the animal-man who lived upon the Moon; but that which now lives in us as our individual soul, existed in those times in the higher realm, in the care of the Godhead, — only man's body lived below in the primordial ocean. Later on body and soul united; the soul descended and spititualised the body, so that man became an individual soul.
Imagine a receptacle containing water; in it are many many drops of water, but it is impossible to distinguish them. If you were to take many hundreds of small sponges dipping them into the water, the drops first contained in the volume of water would be individualised. Similarly imagine your spirituality soaring above the primordial ocean and compare your soul reposing in the bosom of the Godhead with the drops of water; the bodies absorb the souls, even as the small sponges absorb the drops of water; the souls thus became independent, in the same way in which the water becomes individualised into drops through the sponges. Below we have the primordial ocean with the floating-swimming bodies, and above there are the souls. We cannot describe this better than by saying: “And the Spirit of God moved (literally: brooded) over the face of the waters,” which means that he elaborated that which was below until it was able to take in the soul-drops.
The bodies themselves had to soar and float, and for this purpose the beings within them needed a special organ. At that time man had no lungs, but a kind of air-bladder; this kept him afloat in the ocean.
The fish which have remained behind upon that stage, have even to-day an air-bladder and no lungs. The lungs developed little by little, as the air freed itself from the moisture and man could raise himself above the water, so that he began to breathe in air. A long process, lasting millions of years, finally enabled man to breathe in the air through his lungs. This gave rise to the physical form capable of absorbing the soul. The more man became a being who breathed through lungs, the more he became capable of taking in the soul. You cannot express this better than with the words: “And God breathed His own breath into man's nostrils and he became an individual soul.”
At the same time this enabled man to develop something which he did not possess before; he became capable of forming red blood. Before that time all human beings had a constitution which gave them the same temperature as their environment; if they were surrounded by a higher temperature, they were adapted to it. Red blood did not exist at that time and the animals above the stage of amphibians are human bodies which have remained behind at a much later stage of development. After the epoch in which man began to develop red blood, the animals also began to develop into warm-blooded beings.
Even as a plant cannot develop out of a stone, but stones developed out of plants, so the animal developed out of man. Every being upon a lower stage developed out of beings who once stood upon higher stages, this is the theory of evolution. Man first had to transform himself into a being with red blood, and then he could leave behind the animals. You may literally see in animals the stages left behind in man's development. In every animal man perceives more or less a piece of himself which he has left behind. Paracelsus expressed this so wonderfully in the words: When we look about in the world, we see, as it were, the letters of an alphabet; in the human being alone these letters unite and form a word. Consequently the meaning of that which lies spread out in man's environment is to be seen in man himself.
You must then bear in mind the following: An apparently insignificant process (but in the light of spiritual science it is an extraordinarily important process) took place at that time: it already began in the early stages of the Earth's separation from the Moon, when the Earth was still connected with the Moon, and it consisted in a certain cooperation between Mars and the Earth. During the whole first half of the Earth's development, the forces of Mars streamed into the Earth, so that this first half is actually designated as the Mars condition of the Earth. Iron is connected with this passage through Mars and iron then began to play an entirely new role in the earthly process of evolution.
Iron plays a far more superficial part in plants, but you can see how things are connected: cosmically, the Earth passed through Mars and Mars gave it iron; iron was then stimulated to exercise the functions which it now possesses and iron appeared in the blood. The aggressive side of human nature, that which turns man into a warrior here on earth, is connected with the iron in the blood. The Greek myth knew this, for it designated Mars as the God of War.
The human body thus became capable of taking in the Ego; for without red, warm blood a body cannot be the bearer of an Ego. This is very important. Pulmonary breathing is the first condition for the formation of warm, red blood. The required processes then arose upon the earth and became embodied with the blood. Little by little, man developed so as to become a red-blooded being breathing through lungs, and then he left behind the other creatures, the lower warm-blooded animals.
In occultism, animals are not only differentiated in the ordinary way, but another differentiation is pointed out. We distinguish the “inwardly sounding animals”, those which can express their own pain and pleasure in sounds from the “non-sounding animals”. If you descend to the lower animals, you may still hear sounds, but these are purely external, produced by rubbing together certain parts of the body,or by climatic influences; these are sounds produced by external causes. Only the animals which branched off when man had developed into a warm-blooded being were able to express pain or pleasure through sounds coming from within.
This was the time when man's larynx was transformed into an organ of sound. The fact that outside the liquid earth substance became crust, produced an inner process in the human being; parallel with the external process of hardening, an osseous and cartilaginous skeleton developed within the human being out of the soft parts of his body. Beings with a skeleton did not exist before that time.
The minerals outside are the counterpart of the bones. The Earth perpetuated this epoch in the masses of rock and man in his skeleton. Man then gradually became an upright walking being, thus changing over from his former horizontal position into a vertical one. He turned round, so that his front extremities became organs of work, and his other extremities were used for walking. There is a connection in all this, for no being without a sound-producing larynx and an upright walk can be an Ego-being.
Animals were predisposed for this, but they degenerated. Consequently they could not transform themselves into beings endowed with speech, for speech is connected with a larynx located in a in a body having an upright position. We may gather this through a primitive fact. Many dogs are undoubtedly cleverer than parrots, yet a parrot learns more, because its larynx is in a more vertical position. Parrots and starlings learn to speak a little, because their larynx is located vertically.
This shows you that the Earth and man advance to ever new stages of development. The atmosphere also changed: a condition developed in which the Earth was surrounded by a misty, foggy air. This took place at the time, when the Lemurians saw their continent crumbling away, so that they wandered out to Atlantis and became Atlanteans.
During this, phase of evolution; in which man acquired the first elements of speech, which were, to be sure, sounds expressing mere feelings, the soul emerged more and more. Essentially speaking, the Atlantean had a dull kind of clairvoyance. As he came out of the sub-earthly ocean, his eyes developed to the extent of enabling him to participate in the light raying out from the sun through the masses of mist. Physically, his power of sight and perception developed more and more, but he gradually lost his old clairvoyance. The most advanced race of the Atlanteans developed in a certain region of the Earth's surface during the last third of the Atlantean era, which was a significant close of phase of evolution.
In view of the existing conditions, the Atlantean who traveled more to the West, became inwardly neutral natures, cold and indifferent, and developed later on into the copper coloured population of America. The others who traveled further South, became the black Negro population, and those who turned to the East became later on the yellow Malayan population. These populations concentrated themselves in the most unfavourable places which prohibited a further development. But the peoples who lived in a region now occupied by Ireland, and further West, in a country now covered by the ocean, reached the highest stage of development. The mixtures of not and cold streams which existed there, permitted the human body to develop in the best and speediest manner. A pronounced Ego-feeling, a first foundation of such a feeling, developed from the still magical will power of those epochs. It was then that man first learned to say “I”. The human beings then also learned the first foundations of counting and of arithmetic, and they developed the first capacity of forming judgments and of combining thoughts.
There were always Beings among them who had progressed further, who were the leaders of humanity and their relationship to man was that of Beings who belonged to a higher realm. These Beings became the teachers and guides of men and it was they who induced them to migrate towards the East. From the site which lay in the neighbourhood of present-day Ireland certain peoples had already migrated to the East, settling as far as Asia. Now the most highly developed masses of peoples began to migrate to the East, and everywhere along their journey they formed colonies, the most powerful of these colonies, with the most highly developed culture, existed in the neighbourhood of the present Gobi desert. Later on, a certain number of peoples travelled from there to many parts of the world: one group went to the present India; where they encountered an indigenous yellow-brown race, with whom they became partly united.
It was after the Atlantean flood, that this colony travelled South and founded the first culture of the post-Atlantean epoch, the first culture of our own age. The most advanced teachers who went with this colony, the first great teachers of ancient India, are called the ancient Indian Rishis. The Hindoos of to-day are the descendants of that ancient population, but if we wish to discover traces of this culture we must go far back into times which are not known to history; the Vedas, for example, already belong to a later epoch, for nothing was recorded in those early days.
The ancient Hindoo nation represents the first cultural group after the Atlantean age and consequently they resembled the Atlanteans most of all. The Atlantean was a kind of dreamer; his consciousness was dull, he did not have any power of judgment and self-consciousness and like a dreamer he wandered about half consciously. The ancient Hindoos were the first to overcome this condition, but they were still partly rooted in it. The ancient Hindoo longed to experience the spirit realm of past times and yearned for the clairvoyance which the Atlanteans still possessed. In ancient India the early Yoga training still consisted of a kind of dulling of human consciousness, which transferred the human being back to the times when he could still perceive in his environment spiritual beings. The Hindoo longed for this clairvoyance of ancient Atlantis and in the Yoga training the Rishis taught him the methods of producing clairvoyance, though these methods followed another line of development.
The Atlantean did not possess any power of judgment, whereas in India the power of judgment had already awakened; but men loved, so to speak, that which they had already overcome and they knew how to conjure it up again, by dulling their consciousness and by recalling that which they had seen in earlier epochs. The culture of ancient India preserved this through its highest representatives. The Hindoo did not seek to enhance his consciousness, but he dimmed it down to a dreamy state, and this explains the passivity of the Hindoo character. It would be a great disadvantage, indeed harmful, if modern culture were to take hold in a greater measure of life in India.
During the first epochs, the human beings did not perceive minerals; and what the Atlantean saw least clearly of all ,was the mineral kingdom. Through his visions, the spirit-world was the one which existed for him, and this world lived in everything. He perceived the human being surrounded by colours — by sympathetic colours if he liked him. This was the world which the Hindoo tried to conjure up again. But human progress requires that man shall enter more and more into a relationship with that which exists upon the earth in the world of matter, The Atlanteans did not need any instruments; they orientated themselves through their clairvoyance and they attributed no importance whatever to physical instruments. The Hindoo followed the Atlantean in this, and consequently he looked upon the physical world as Maya, as a kind of illusion and lie. He had no interest in the world which is accessible to the ordinary senses. He asked the dream-like world of the Spirit to rise up before him.
The progress from this Indian culture to the next cultural epoch, i.e. the Persian one preceding the time of Zarathustra, consisted in the fact of humanity learning to appreciate external reality. A second colony went out from the Gobi desert and founded a kingdom in Asia minor which existed in remote times and which gave birth to the kingdom of Zarathustra. The Persian began to perceive the existence of a world in which he had to be active. The Divine essence appeared to him as something which he had to overcome, against which he had to measure his strength. From the spiritual world he drew the forces which he needed in order to work in this world. The world appeared to him as something dark, which had to be transformed with the aid of the good forces. The Hindoo established a science pertaining exclusively to the spiritual world, which told him nothing about the external reality. But to the Persian this external reality presented another aspect, it was something which had to be constantly transformed through his own work.
The third colony which went out from the Gobi desert went further West into Asia Minor and founded the Chaldean-Babylonian-Egyptian cycle of culture. In addition to the earlier science of the Spirit, these nations also possessed a science of the physical world. An astrology and geometry arose in Egypt which taught the Egyptians how to treat and cultivate the earth. Science extended to spheres which the Hindoo still looked upon as a world of illusion. Now this world of illusion had become a world calling for the keenest thought, for a manner of thinking connected with physical things. When the Hindoo immersed himself in the starry world, this world was to him only the expression of the Godhead. But the Chaldean loved the physical World; to him it was a part of the Godhead into which he penetrated and immersed himself. This activity leading him from the divine into the physical world appears to us in the Babylonian-Assyrian culture.
We have now reached a point leading us to the fourth cultural cycle, which we designate as the Graeco-Latin culture. The human being is now included in the external perception, The Egyptian knew that the world was not a chaos, but that it was fraught with meaning and that it had been constructed throughout immeasurable aeons of time. The sphinx and the pyramid expressed great cosmic thoughts. The ancient Egyptian concealed his knowledge of these truths in images: he created the sphinx, which faces us like a riddle of evolution itself: the development of man's higher essence from earlier animal-like conditions. This was the wisdom which the Egyptian spoke out into the world in his own way. In ancient Egypt you may find calculations and measurements,which were drawn directly from heaven. The cities were built in such a way that the Egyptian expressed in these constructions a sacred order of laws and they sought to express in images the cosmic laws which governed the universe. This did not as yet include the individual human essence, which only begins to unfold in Greek art, and which shows us that man now takes hold of his own being as an immediate reality and seeks to create it as an image in space.
Man became more and more familiar with the world which the Hindoo designated as Maya. He began to face his own self. Within the world which in ancient India was considered as an illusion, the Greek created a world of realities and realised that he had to create it without the help of the Gods; more and more he united himself with the external reality and out of his own strength he permeated the external reality with a divine essence. If you study the Greek “polis” you do not find in it any trace of jurisprudence. Man had to establish this during the Roman epoch as “Roman right” which governed the private social intercourse of men, as Roman citizens.
The human being thus acquired an ever greater knowledge of that which takes place in the world of external reality.
The fifth cycle of culture is the one in which we now live, with our materialistic civilisation. It is the time in which man has descended most profoundly into the external world. Compare, our age with preceding ones: We know, to be sure, how to apply the forces of the spiritual world to our physical environment — we carry the spiritual world into it. But in the light of spiritual science this presents strange aspects. Think of the time when the human being still produced his flour by grinding corn between two stones — he did not apply much spiritual power to do this. In ancient Egypt and Chaldea he still immersed himself in the wisdom of the heaven; he still learned a great deal concerning the spiritual significance of the earth itself and of the starry sky. The Greek still placed into the world of physical reality the idealised human form. What is the aspect of our own time? A great amount of spiritual power is used to produce modern natural science with its technical appliances. How great is the difference between obtaining food by primitive means, and obtaining it from America with the aid of telephone, engines, etc.! Yet these complicated technical means are after all used to satisfy the same needs also felt by animals and which animals are able to satisfy by primitive means! Try to investigate how many of the modern inventions really serve spiritual life, and how much spiritual power is used for the sake of furthering material life! What an enormous amount of spiritual power must human beings develop at the present time for the satisfaction of material requirements! There is no great difference whether an animal satisfies its hunger by grazing, or whether man obtains his food from America or Australia through all kinds of means.
This is hot an adverse criticism, for this had to come. Man had to submerge himself in the physical world. The Hindoo still looked, upon it as an illusion, but modern man considers the physical world as the only reality. We have reached the deepest point in our descent and this rendered possible the greatest progress upon the physical plane: This descent, however, must not be in vain, even from a spiritual aspect!
A new element has now arisen, an element that was implanted into the world during the first third of the post-Atlantean epoch: it is the rise of Christianity, the most significant influence in the whole development of the earth. In the light of occultism, everything which proceeded is only the preparation for Christianity. Buddha, Hermes, and so forth, prophetically pointed towards Christianity, for Christianity must lift man out of his deepest entanglement with matter. And it will raise man out of this entanglement. Man's ascent from matter begins again. The task of spiritual science is to help in this ascent into the spiritual world.
The next epoch of our Post-Atlantean culture will bring still more inventions and discoveries; but man will more and more perceive mere letters in the physical world. A genuine Christianity will speak of the external world as condensed Spirit, and the Spirit will once more arise out of matter. We shall then no longer say that the external world is an illusion, for we shall recognise it fully and lose nothing, and yet rise up to a higher spiritual world.
Christianity will contribute most of all towards this course of development. During the sixth epoch, great masses of men will be deeply moved and seized by truths which are now revealed to few, and this will give mankind an insight into the spiritual world. What now exists as thought will in future be a real force. Many people will have this power of thought during the sixth epoch of culture. The theosophical Christianity of to-day will spread among great masses of men. These thoughts will grow stronger and stronger and they will have a creative influence upon the human form.
Once upon a time the human body had quite a different aspect from that which it has to-day; indeed, if I were to describe to you this human body of ancient times, you would be greatly surprised. Because it was still soft, the Ego could exercise a far greater influence upon it. Modern man has only retained an insignificant rest of the psychic influence of will upon his body, for instance, when you are seized by sudden fright you grow pale, because the inner soul-condition penetrates as far as the blood and your complexion changes. But other bodily conditions can show you how little we are now able to control our body. With the gradual ascent into the spiritual world this will change; man's body will become softer and softer and he will once more be able to influence the thoughts which now still exist so sparsely, will gradually grow stronger; these thoughts will then be able to transform even the body. Man will be able to mould his own body — but this will only be the case in a very distant future.
Sex arose in the human being only during the Lemurian age; before that time he was bi-sexual, both male-and female. With the incorporation of the Ego, the human being was split into two sexes. We shall learn to know this better, when we shall consider more closely the development of the human blood. This will lead us to the problem of the division into sexes and also to the fact that the now existing division of the sexes will again disappear.
Thus we look into a future in which the human being will exercise quite a different influence upon his body.
What is, for example, that which sends the blush of shame into our face? What is it? A last remnant of the influence which man once exercised over his body. Man will more and more be able to work consciously into his body, and then will come the time when he will be able to transform the muscle of his heart into one which obeys' him.
Science describes the heart as a mere physical apparatus: as a pump. But the blood does not only stream through the body because the heart pumps the blood through it; everything which constitutes the blood depends upon the soul; the blood pulses more or less quickly according to our feelings, and it is the blood which produces the movement of the heart. But in future the human being will have a conscious influence upon the heart; therefore the heart is an organ which is now at the beginning of its development. The heart is a muscle with a spiritual development, an organ through which the human being will be able to express himself as he develops towards a higher stage, thus exercising a creative influence upon his whole body.
The heart is only at the beginning of its development, and for this reason it is a cross to materialistic science. Materialistic science tells you: all the muscles through which you move, are formed of transversal strips, but all those muscles which move automatically consist of longitudinal strips. The heart however is a peculiar organ upsetting every calculation! It is an automatic muscle, nevertheless it has, even to-day, transversal fibres.
To-morrow I will show you how certain things can be explained in the light of spiritual science.
Spiritual science thus throws light upon that which surrounds us. We shall redeem everything which has become matter from its present rigid condition. This is how the thought of redemption, may be grasped in its deepest essence! Man has developed to an ever higher stage, leaving behind him certain kingdoms in the course of this development. He will become powerful and redeem that which he has left behind; he will help to redeem the earth! But if he is to redeem the earth he must not despise it, but unite himself with it.
|GA 96. Original Impulses fo the Science of the Spirit — Spiritual Insight Offering Greatest Liberation II: The Mission of the Spiritual Science Movement|
|These have been significant influences in our civilization that may be considered together with the kind of processes we discussed a week ago concerning the effects of copper and lead. You can see from these examples that occult brotherhoods were active in the world through the millennia for the benefit of humanity. This was right for those past times but it will no longer be right in the future.|
|GA 96. Original Impulses fo the Science of the Spirit — Spiritual Insight Offering Greatest Liberation II: The Mission of the Spiritual Science Movement|
A week ago we considered the view of the world based on the science of the spirit in so far as it can have meaning for people today. modern people will of course first of all base themselves on observations made through the senses and on their rational minds. They may also base themselves on modern science, which is also based on observations made through the senses and rational thinking. We have shown that it is possible to meet all objections to the science of the spirit that may arise from the present-day scientific approach. Please do not misunderstand the reasons for considering the subject in this way. It was not done so that we might go out and enter into discussion with people who have not yet given a thought to the science of the spirit. There can be no question of this. Anyone who has not yet a mind to consider it and also is not inclined to do so will first of all have to learn to put his mind to it. It is not a question, therefore, of having arguments available for use in discussions, but everyone may in his own heart and mind raise objections that may come up in the light of modern popular science or modern life in general. You need to be reasonably sure of yourself. This, then, has been the purpose of the things we considered the last time.
It can simply never be the mission of the spiritual scientific movement merely to satisfy people’s curiosity or thirst for knowledge. It is true that among many theosophists this curiosity, or, to put it more politely, this thirst for knowledge, has been and still is the reason why they made contact with theosophical endeavours. However after a time anyone who has come purely from curiosity will be disappointed. Not that the science of the spirit does not have the amplest means of satisfying people's thirst for knowledge, down to the deepest depths of existence, but the knowledge we are concerned with in the theosophical movement will only serve a purpose if it becomes active knowledge, knowledge out of which one takes action, putting it into practice in everyday life. People should therefore at least have the urge to make this knowledge part of life.
When someone comes to the science of the spirit he can easily find himself on the horns of a dilemma. You need to see this dilemma clearly. Many of the people who come to theosophy fall into two categories. Some will say: I want to help, I want to be of value to society. They think the theosophical movement should give them the means to do this, so that they can start right away. Others may perhaps only have the illusion of wanting to help. In reality they merely want to satisfy their curiosity and hear of things they find sensational. Neither of these two categories will be the right kind of members for the Theosophical Society. Those who want to start helping right away fail to consider that you have to learn filings first and acquire skills if you are to be able to help. One has to tell them that they need to be patient and develop the powers and skills that will make them helpers of humanity. They have to limit their ambitions. The people who merely want to satisfy their curiosity will have to understand that not one of the means and abilities given to them should be accepted unless they are prepared to be part of and serve the whole of human evolution. This will need a long time. The Theosophical Society should first of all generate secure knowledge and awareness of eternity and existence in the spirit. Someone who has this awareness then says to himself: It is not my intention to launch right away, from my present imperfect standpoint, into all kinds of enterprises to reform humanity, and so on.
Patience is called for on the one hand, and on the other the will to be part of and serve the whole of human evolution. The method of the Theosophical Society lies between these two things. And we must not concentrate on just one of them but pay heed to both. We need to have both patience and the will to be active, but not as an arithmetic mean of the two, for they need to be developed separately in our hearts and minds. Do not confuse the two things! It is a very different thing if one has an arithmetic mean or has the two things separately in one’s heart and mind.
The theosophical view of the world was brought to life some decades ago to meet these two requirements and has since been there for humanity. The knowledge we have taken in over the years, everything that has so far been said, is brought back to mind once more, for the more often we do this, the better it is. Knowledge should become a living power of intent. This means that some of the older members will hear some things again which they have heard before, perhaps in another context, and perhaps merely to refresh their memories. This is the way in which the theosophical view of the world was brought to life some decades ago. What was it before that? It was something we call secret or occult teaching, that is, something done in small groups by people specially admitted to them. In earlier times students were subjected to severe tests of their will intent, feeling and thinking before they were admitted to those closed groups, the esoteric or occult brotherhoods. The influence of those brotherhoods is something which in future will come from a larger group of people. More and more people will be called to have such an influence. A small group of the elect thus always had the influence which the theosophical movement is now to gain. Whether they were the disciples of Hermes or the pupils of the Eleusinian mysteries, occult schools in Egypt or Christian Gnostic schools, or the Rosicrucians in Europe — in every case, small, carefully defined brotherhoods were a major influence. modern people with their intellectualized science know nothing, or practically nothing of this, but it is a fact that all cultivation of the mind and through this also all material civilization came from such brotherhoods.
It has been said on a previous occasion that all material civilization, everything people create using hammer, saw, axe and so on, has its foundation in cultivation of the mind. You may consider everything in this light, however large or small. Take one of the great engineering feats of our time, the Simplon Tunnel or the St Gotthard Tunnel. Very few people ever realize that these could never have been built if it had not been for a man called Leibniz. The tunnels could not have been built if it had not been for differential calculus. The idea which at one time inspired those thinkers to do such subtle calculations has made all these things possible in the physical world. Everything that happens on the physical plane ultimately goes back to thoughts and ideas. It is a dreadful illusion for people to think that there is anything in civilization that does not ultimately go back to the spirit, the mind. Take what you will in the fields of art, of technology, industry or trade — the most practical, most commonplace and most everyday things ultimately go back to something that happened in the human soul.
Where do the great impulses, ideas, mental creativeness originate? Here we come to a sphere in which we can begin to understand how the occult brotherhoods of earlier centuries and millennia worked. Take an example, though a modern materialistic thinker would never think of it. An ardent, enthusiastic youth living in the 18th century, someone with the gifts for great things, needed just the stimulus of something that may look like a chance happening, something utterly insignificant. He met, as if by chance, someone who seemed indifferent. This person said a few words to the young man that appeared to make no special impression. I am saying ‘appeared’, for something did happen in the enthusiastic young man’s soul. The encounter during which those seemingly insignificant words were said did have significance after all. So what did actually happen? Something of the greatest significance for civilization came from an insignificant incident that appeared to be a matter of chance. The brothers who are the true and greatest guardians of humanity’s treasure of wisdom are in this world. They may be walking about among us; we may meet them. But they wear a magic hat as far as ordinary people are concerned. It is up to them to recognize a brother, for the brothers never identify themselves. In past centuries they were even harder to recognize than they are today. What mattered, however, was their influence. Imagine such a brotherhood of occult initiates. One of the brothers approaches the young man as though by chance. But chance events like these are brought about by the wisdom of this world. A few insignificant words ignite a spark in the young man’s mind that is of the greatest conceivable importance for our civilization. The young man was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. An event that seemed of no significance sowed a seed that led Rousseau to develop his philosophy. There is nothing random about the powerful impulses that came into our civilization with it. They are not apparent in the ordinary history of civilization but quietly let the stream of wisdom continue that is in the care of the brotherhood. The decision as to what will serve the needs of humanity is made in the brotherhood. The brothers are wise, they are prophets. They know what humanity needs. And when the need arises they'll send one of the brethren into the world to bring a new impetus into evolution.
Another example is one I have given before. It concerns the German theosophical philosopher Jakob Böhme and can be found in any Jakob Böhme biography. As a boy he was apprenticed to a shoemaker. One day the master and his wife had gone out. They had told him not to sell anything, but merely look after the shop. Someone came in who made a deep impression on the boy. The stranger wanted to buy something but Jakob was not permitted to sell him anything. When the man had gone, Jakob heard his name called. He went to the door and the man said to him: ‘Jakob, you’re small now but one day you'll be great. You'll be someone people will be amazed at.’ This man gave the impulse for the things Jakob Böhme later wrote about.
You'll see even better what this is about if we take another example that may take you even more deeply into the secrets of the brotherhoods. Imagine that someone who is unknown — unknown in the outside world, well known to the initiates — writes a letter to a powerful privy councillor or a minister. The letter may be about something of no great importance, perhaps asking for a minor request to be granted. If an initiate were to read this letter, someone able to read it very differently from the way an ordinary person would read it, he would note something very special about it. It may be that one has to leave out every third word from the beginning of the letter, or every fourth word counting from the end. The words which remain have considerable significance, influencing the will of the person to whom it is addressed. This person may merely have read a request to have some refuse removed. But in reality the letter says something of tremendous importance. Now you may say: ‘But the man did not read that.’ That is not true. The surface self awareness did not take it up, but the secret of such a code is that the right words remain and impress themselves on the ether body, on the subconscious mind, and the person concerned will have taken them in after all.
Impulses can be given in this way to make people do things, and it is possible to convey instructions in secret ways without people being aware of it. This is, of course, only a minor example compared to things of enormous significance that exist in the world. An initiate is able to go about in any form. He has the means of influencing not only people’s everyday level of consciousness but also the other levels of the human mind.
You know about the German philosopher and mystic Henricus Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim. His teacher was Johannes Tritheim, abbot at Sponheim. The abbot wrote books which to modern materialistic minds seem either romantic or highly Baroque, certainly something one would not find very interesting.
It is thought that these works also met with an indifferent response in the days of Johannes Tritheim of Sponheim. But there is a key to reading these books. If you omit certain things from the beginning and others from the end, something remains, and this residue represents a large part of what is today presented as elementary theosophy. Reading these books one therefore is truly reading also with the subconscious mind, reading the material which today is presented as theosophy. For centuries, many people thus unknowingly took theosophy into their hearts and minds. These have been significant influences in our civilization that may be considered together with the kind of processes we discussed a week ago concerning the effects of copper and lead.
You can see from these examples that occult brotherhoods were active in the world through the millennia for the benefit of humanity. This was right for those past times but it will no longer be right in the future. Initiates who know the meaning and significance of evolution will therefore say: ‘What happened in the past is no longer right for the future.’ It would be a poor kind of inspiration that would always look for the truth in the past and not know its living reality, which is that the truth always changes for the future. Someone who is truly inspired will not only seek to learn from the earliest teachers of humanity but reshape the truths he is given, being alive to the present time.
Something that must rise up against this old form of occult work in every human soul is the idea of freedom, the idea of its value and the dignity of man. People are unfree if influences tire brought to bear on them in that way. Freedom, however, and this has been shown before, is not something finished and complete but something human beings struggle to gain in the living process of evolution. Freedom is the goal of humanity and not a birth light. And freedom depends on insight. There is no other way of overcoming the old influences that came from the brotherhoods than to make occult knowledge itself widely known. The basic aim of the theosophical movement is to make people free as they learn the spiritual truths that used to be the preserve of the occult brotherhoods. In the old days, the world knew nothing that went beyond the physical plane, and today it knows hardly any of it. Only when the world comes to know the things that go beyond the physical plane will people be able to have the mysterious influences and forces that play between one human being and another, between one nation and another, truly under their own control. That is the human mission for the future and therefore really also the mission of the theosophical movement.
The science of the spirit thus shows itself to be something very different from all other present-day movements. Many questions now arise for human beings, the facts force them to face them. Above all there is the social question, which comes up in all kinds of different forms. It includes matters of personal freedom, nationalism and racism and the colonial issue. All these issues, and also, most important, the issue of education, are shown in a special light, a different light, with the science of the spirit than is otherwise possible at the present time. Why is that so? A small example may show this.
There is a movement in psychiatry today that is little known to lay people. But as newspaper articles now present everything to the world, some of you will have taken some notice. This truly touches on important matters. Look at the latest book publications. You'll find an interesting small volume on Robert Schumann’s illness. A psychiatrist as decided to go for Robert Schumann — and also other people — and show that he suffered from the condition which alienists call dementia precox meaning premature dementia. You may know that not only Robert Schumann but other great people have also been investigated for their mental state — Goethe, Heine and quite a few others. There are even two publications which are not without interest, though they are about investigations of the person of the Christ in this respect. All this is possible in our materialistic age. One such alienist says that if a mind comes to abnormal expression this is due to an abnormality in the person’s organization.
One thing modern alienists are sure of is that such conditions cannot be influenced by reasoning with people. You'll see what I mean in a minute. For a time it was thought that if someone suffered from a particular form of mania that came to expression in abnormal religious ideas, it would be possible to correct this by talking sense to them, presenting sensible arguments to them. Mania sometimes takes quite a specific form. Someone imagines he is being persecuted, for example. The alienist considers this to be a symptom. Persecution mania is just a symptom to him, with an abnormality of the brain the true problem. You cannot overcome someone’s delusions by explaining that he is not being persecuted at all, for you cannot change the way the brain is organized Up to this point, the alienist is in fact right The spiritual scientist does not intend to judge someone else from an amateur point of view. You may present sensible ideas to the person concerned, but you'll not cure his mania. At the most it will then take another form.
Let us take the case of Hölderlin, another person who is studied by alienists. Hölderlin was destroyed by his longing for ancient Greece. An alienist would say that he suffered from a disease of the brain, and that everything else is symptomatic evidence. The disease may have been hereditary in origin. It is therefore believed that it is not possible to influence the constitution of the organism, primarily the constitution of the brain, out of the life of mind and spirit. You see, these researches in psychiatry take one to fathomless depths. The physical body is accepted as something that is given, and the mind and spirit is like a kind of vapour rising from that body. Even the greatest mental achievements, the work of people of genius — if it is abnormal, materialistic scientists will ascribe it to abnormal brain functions. That is what your alienist, your psychiatrist, will tell you. Whatever you may say to contradict him. he will insist that the whole life of the mind and spirit depends on the physical organization. As far as it goes, the positive statement is correct, but these people do not understand what is really involved here; they have no idea.
This brings us to something of which you should take careful note. It concerns an extraordinarily important secret, though perhaps not everyone would consider it to be such. The truth is that the human organ which performs its function has originally been created by that function itself. The brain has originally been created by thoughts. The blood develops the life of feelings. There can be no life of feelings without warm blood. It is a fact that the blood has originally been created by the life of feelings. This is a completely new way of looking at these things. Now we may say to ourselves that we certainly cannot change the human brain with the ideas people produce in their brains today. But behind that brain are different thoughts, thoughts unknown in materialistic science and these have originally created the brain. This is the world of thoughts we must get to know; it is the world of creative ideas. We thus have to distinguish between ordinary thoughts and a world of thoughts that floods — truly floods — the world. It is because the brain has been been out of the world of thoughts that the human mind is able not only to produce the kind of thoughts that come from the brain’s world of thought but also to have a part in the world of thoughts that lies behind the physical organization.
With this, one learns to govern the life of thoughts. And so one also does not cure people by producing logical reasons but by entering much more deeply into the realm of mind and spirit It is possible, with thoughts taken from the true world of the spirit, to change the physical organism purely out of the realm of thoughts and make a sick organism well again.
The spirit thus exists in two ways. We have the spirit that first of all presents itself outwardly in the phenomena of nature, in art, science and the economic products of engineering and industry. This spirit is a product of physical life. But behind it is its creator, and that, too, is spirit.
An image may help to show this. Imagine I have some water here and I apply a particular procedure to cool it down so that it turns to ice. If we heat some of the ice so that it turns to water again, we have three things — the original water all around, the ice, and something that is turning to water again. You may look at the human brain like this. The spirit which fills the whole world has condensed into the brain as water does to ice. Thoughts are brought forth from the brain just as water is from ice when this is heated. Essentially, therefore, you may take all matter to be condensed spirit, contracted spirit and you can see the things of the mind and spirit that show themselves in the world to have come from the physical. Materialistic thinking considers only the condensed matter and has forgotten that the spirit is behind the world of matter, that a spiritual world exists beyond the physical that creates matter. The theosophical movement should take people back again to the spirit that is behind the material world.
We can now also return to something I mentioned the last time we met. I talked about writing. We write something down, let us say the word ‘spirit’. Someone who has no concept of the spirit clearly would not write the word. But someone else may come along who has no concept of the spirit, who is altogether unable to read, and he would describe a line curving down, then up again, then down again and so on. No one would get the idea that this means ‘spirit’, for the person giving the description is unable to read. That, however, is how the facts are described in science today. For the word to be written, a meaning had to be there that was poured into this piece of writing. The writer may go away, someone else may come along, look at what has been written, and know what the writer wanted to say. That is also how it is with the original spirit in relation to our physical world. This physical world is like writing, simply writing. In ordinary everyday science, the individual objects in this world are described in the way I said. An occultist would know, however, that these individual objects mean something else as well, apart from the description given in outer terms and that they can be read, being letters of the spirit. If we look at this world as the writing of the spirit, if we consider everything in the world around us — minerals, plants, animals and people — to be letters written by the spirit, we enter into the world of the spirit of our own accord as we read the physical world.
It is not too easy, however, to read like this. To give you an example, let me tell you the following. A chemist may take blood, analyse it and say it consists of such and such constituents. He has now done his job and he knows what blood is. Reading in the spiritual scientific and occult sense, however, you find that blood could not have come into existence in the form in which we have it if there were not the phenomena behind it which we call astral phenomena. The spirit of the world acts on matter through the astral phenomena. There could never have been such a tiling as blood in the physical world if the astral world did not exist behind the physical world. All kinds of things could exist, but blood is only possible because there is the astral world behind it. You thus read the astral in the blood, just as you read the world ‘spirit’ in these letters. Reading the letters that exist here in the physical world leads to perception of the astral sphere.
This is altogether the right way of entering into the world of the spirit — to give heart and mind to the world around us. It may be less of an effort to enter the world of the spirit in a number of other ways, but it is a more certain way of doing it if we study the phenomena that surround us. A mineral has something different to say, a plant something different again, an animal, a person — all of them are indeed different letters. If you bring your heart and mind to them, they will tell you of the world of the spirit.
You will therefore find study of our world one of the first things you are directed to do in Rosicrucian schooling — devoted, dedicated study of the world. When we started our theosophical movement, some people said: ‘The things he is telling us can be found in any book on science. He is talking about origins, the struggle for existence, and so on; but we want to hear of the things that go on in the world of the spirit.’ There may in fact be more of these things in it than the people who asked to hear are able to cope with. But we should start with secure insight into our immediate reality, not mere description but real understanding.
Take what follows as an important fundamental truth — it has always been considered to be such in Rosicrucian occult schooling. The sense-perceptible world presents itself in the way our external physical senses are able to perceive it. Things look different in the astral world, very different. And they look completely different again in the devachanic world. That is how it is with our perceptions. The thoughts and logic we use to grasp the physical world, the astral world and the devachanic world are the same. Right thoughts are right in the devachan, on the astral plane and on the physical plane. If you learn the right way of thinking on the physical plane this will give you a reliable guide in all worlds. It means, however, that we have to learn to think in a way that has real significance, meaning and depth. No one should therefore save themselves the trouble of entering into this physical world with his thoughts and considering this world to be letters, writing that tells of a higher world of the spirit.
In the great process of liberating humanity, our prime concern is therefore to gain a meaningful approach to the significance of physical phenomena. They are the gate that leads to the world of the spirit. The work calls for a great deal of self-denial but it has to be undertaken. If human beings truly take on this task and gradually ascend to the world of the spirit in doing so, learning to grasp things from the point of view of that world, they play a part in the great tasks of culture and civilization. They can only do so if they are free human beings. As soon as people would seek to develop a civilization for the future on any basis other than freedom their products would all be stillborn, with ideas belonging to the past taken into the future. The tremendous difference from earlier ways will be that human beings and not principles or institutions are the active agent. It is true, in the past, too, things were done by human beings only. However it was only a small group whose principles came to be generally accepted. Some would praise those principles, believing them to be original. People were speaking of something they had derived from principles. But this was merely the impulse that had come from the initiates. Take the initiation of Heraclitus, for instance, in early times. He presented the truths he had discovered in external formulas that were further elaborated by countless people. They thought they were thinking original thoughts; but that was not the case. You only learn to think original thoughts by seeing what lies behind things and grasping their real significance.
I hope you have developed something of a feeling for the way human beings should make themselves part of the process of civilization, being able to walk through between one pillar, which is patience, by being prepared to learn and not act too soon, and the other pillar, which is the will to serve the progress of human evolution. They can do this if they allow things to come alive to them more and more through the senses and in this way penetrate to the creative spirit. This is something you have to feel inwardly, be alive to inwardly, and then you are a theosophist. People must reach a much greater level of freedom in future than they have in the past, and there have to be many more of them. Not that long ago only very few people in Europe were really free. Civilization radiated into the world from small centres, reaching others in the form of views and opinions, so that they came to believe everything else to be erroneous. Rousseau, too, thought he was only presenting his own views, his inmost being, when in fact he was influenced from quite a different source.
The initiates knew that life between birth and death, which is encompassed in the phenomena we perceive through the senses, is governed by forces that do not cease at death; that forces which exist also before birth merely assume a different form during physical life. This enabled the initiates to give impulses, being able to see what lies behind death. The glass standing here will never be able to move of its own accord. And what lies between birth and death is equally unable to move of its own accord. The forces which move what lies between birth and death are always present; they are the eternal. The initiates know them and a large part of the human race will have to get to know them in the future.
Make this an inner feeling, for this inner feeling is important Without it, you will not progress in occult studies. It will depend on this if you join the ranks of the theosophical movement as a rightful member. This inner feeling will also give you a degree of certainty in guiding you through something which you perceive all around you. We perceive chaos in our civilization. That is true. Theoretically speaking, materialism holds chaos in it It is monstrous that when someone opens a book today he is presented with a mass of unconnected individual insights. Nothing but details, and chaos everywhere, also in the social life out there.
What is someone who is not part of the theosophical life going to do? He'll offer suggestions as to how things may be done in a better way. Think of the many recipes for social relationships humanity has known! The theosophical movement differs from all other movements in that it does not offer recipes, and does not say how things might be done in a better way. Efforts to find recipes do nothing for our future culture and civilization. Nor do discussions on how to create peace in the world. Setting up programmes is something that belongs to the past. The future depends on the existence of people who act in the right way out of their own resources. In theosophy we do not say what is the right thing to do, but show people how they can learn to do the right thing. If thirty people come together, it would not be theosophy to say that if they have a particular constitution they will live together in peace. Instead, every individual is shown how he needs to reach a level of inner development where he'll find the right way out of his own resources in his relationship with others. That is the mission of theosophy in a movement that serves the future.
Taking a broad view, we have been considering the world situation, and above all war and peace, in various lectures, also the issue of women’s rights and the social question. As he becomes free, tom away from the compulsions of his environment, man is at the same time taken into the higher worlds, for he needs to be truly free to enter those higher worlds. No one can ever enter the higher world under compulsion. Here we see the good side even of chaos. If our whole civilization had not fallen into chaos, individuals could not have unfolded freely out of their own resources. They would always have been bound to their environment. The old order must break apart and become chaos. We face great changes in this respect and no one can hope to reform anything in the world except by means of inner development. Anything else would be amateurish prophecy.
We have tried in these two sessions — the last one and this one — to grasp the significance of the spiritual scientific movement as a movement for civilization. The next time we'll consider how human karma comes into play within the whole progress of civilization and look at individual karmic relationships of the human being. In other words, we'll consider what human beings take from one incarnation to the next and how they take part in the world process as they progress from incarnation to incarnation. This is the task we intend to take on in a week’s time.
|GA 350. Learning to See in the Spiritual World — The Uses of What Seems Boring: The Spiritual World as the Inverse of the Physical|
|People read these days about alchemy, and believe it in an external way. They believe that they can change copper to gold, and there are charlatans who will tell you all kinds of superstitious variations of this. Of course, in the spiritual world these things are possible; but one must believe in the truth of the spirit.|
|GA 350. Learning to See in the Spiritual World — The Uses of What Seems Boring: The Spiritual World as the Inverse of the Physical|
We will now continue to answer the questions we took up last time. You must be quite clear that the answers to these questions are among the most difficult. I will try to make them as easy as possible. I have already mentioned that, to find a way to spiritual vision, first one must become accustomed to completely independent thinking. Second, one must have the ability to think backward. You must therefore attempt to think backward those things that normally occur in daily life in a 1, 2, 3, sequence. For instance, as I told you last time, when I give a lecture, you should try to think it through backward, from the end to the beginning. These two aspects constitute the absolute first steps.
In connection with the second question I want to explain something else. As you know, a human being can live only within a specific temperature range. When it becomes very hot in the summer, one sweats but can still tolerate it. However, were it to become progressively hotter, a point would be reached when one would no longer be able to live. Similarly, a human being can tolerate a given degree of cold, and if it gets colder than that, one freezes.
The fact is that one cannot see spiritual beings between the two extremes within which the human body lives: i.e., between the cold at which one freezes and the heat that is still barely tolerable. Within these extremes, where human life is possible, we cannot see spiritual beings. It is not surprising therefore that one cannot perceive spiritual beings when one is in the body.
As I told you last time, when we begin to think backward and approach the point of consciously seeing spiritual beings, we often fall asleep. Unless they have trained themselves to stay awake, most people go to sleep.
One can also perceive spiritual beings at temperatures higher than those normally tolerable. One could see spiritual beings at such higher temperatures, but of course one cannot tolerate them. At lower temperatures likewise one could perceive spiritual beings if one could transform oneself into a snow-being, but of course one would freeze in the process. Thus, what seems so unlikely to people is actually a fact: spiritual beings withdraw themselves from the temperatures that are tolerable to humanity in its physical body.
A human being cannot tolerate those temperatures in his body, but he can tolerate them in his soul; but of course the soul goes to sleep. The soul does not freeze, the soul does not burn, the soul goes to sleep.
In in the extreme temperatures outside those one ordinarily lives in. I will give you an example. When one has a fever, one reaches inwardly a temperature that one cannot bear. One does not immediately reach so high a temperature that one dies because the warmth is created from within, one is able to bear it. However, when one's fever enters these higher temperatures one may speak in a way that is not normal on the earth. What people babble in their fever has no relation to what we are used to on earth. Now, the materialist may say: Yes, but there are nevertheless untrue thoughts produced that are cooked up in the heat of fever.
A person, when he enters into a state of high temperature, first of all feels feverish, then speaks nonsense. The soul cannot speak nonsense. Even when the soul is living in a high fever, it cannot speak nonsense. It seems or appears to speak nonsense at higher bodily temperatures because the body is not in order.
You can verify the truth of this by the following example. Let us think about ourexperience with those glass spheres one sometimes finds in flower gardens — a sphere that is actually a kind of mirror in which the environment is reflected. If you look at yourself in one of these, you will find yourself with a face that you would rather not have n reality. (He sketched this.) You would hate to have that kind of face. You will not say, however, "Oh no! What kind of a thing did I turn into?" You would not believe that this is really your own face, just because it looks changed in the sphere. Similarly, if your soul talks nonsense when you have a fever, you will not say that your soul is talking nonsense; but rather you will assume that whatever is said by your soul seems nonsensical because it is spoken out of a sick brain — just as your face looks distorted and flattened out because it is reflected by a false mirror. So you must say to yourself: When I have a fever and speak nonsense, it is my soul that is speaking through a sick brain. When I see myself reflected in a glass sphere, it is not that I have another face, but that my face appears distorted. In the same way the speech of one sick with a fever appears distorted because it is spoken out of a sick body and a brain that is not working properly.
Now, we might ask why the brain does not work properly? It is because the whole blood circulation is too fast. You can verify this by feeling your pulse when you have a fever. The blood circulation produces warmth which rises to the head — you feel a fever —and your soul now appears reflected as by a distorted mirror.
The opposite can also happen, but this will not happen as a result of lying in the snow and letting oneself freeze, because then one would actually die of freezing. This opposite experience can happen, but only as the result of something spiritual.
We come now to a strange subject. Carefully consider the following: Let's assume one begins to concentrate, to think powerfully about the smallest things (it is better to think about the small things that most people wouldn't even want to give time to) — for example, a triangle. Let us say we have a triangle, and we divide it into four equal parts so that we have four equal triangles. (He draws on the blackboard).
You can see that the whole triangle is greater than the four smaller triangles. From this I can make a general statement and say: The whole is greater than the parts. (He writes the sentence on the blackboard.) But now let's assume that a well-fed stockbroker comes by and I tell him: Hey, just think, the whole is greater than its parts. He will say, No, that is too boring for me. He would say it again if I continued to speak to him and said: the blackboard is a physical body with a given size and extension, the table is also a body with a given size and extension, and I then constructed the general statement: All bodies have extension — are extended in space. (He writes the sentence on the blackboard.)
If a whole conference were given to you, if a lecture was given consisting in the single statement "all bodies have extension," you would walk away, saying, Gosh, that was boring! Let's say I were to come to you and make other obvious remarks like the meadow is green, the rose is red, these things have colors, and yesterday there was a trial in court and the judge passed judgment, the judgment had no color. Then I went to another place and there also was a trial and a judgment, and it had no color either. And therefore I said: judgments have no color. (He writes the sentence on the blackboard.)
Let's assume someone stood in front of you for an hour and told you: judgments have no color. You would think to yourself: I have spent a whole hour listening to someone bore me. This is the ultimate boredom. But why are these statements so boring? I should not be telling them to you humorously; I should be standing before you stiff and severe like a professor, announcing: Gentlemen, today we will consider the statement, "Judgments have no color," and then of course I would have to lecture for a whole hour to prove that judgments have no color; all bodies have extension etc.
I could also give you another instance: draw a line from one point to another; this is a straight line. All others are curved, and when you look at it you would immediately say the straight line is the shortest way; all others are longer. Here again I could write down a general statement: The straight line is the shortest distance between two points. Again, if I were to speak for a whole hour on the subject, you would find it exceedingly boring.
There is a German professor who said that it is quite possible to perceive things of the spiritual world, but that the only things that we can perceive of the spiritual world are what reside in such statements as: the whole is greater than its parts, judgments have no color, bodies are extended, and the straight line is the shortest distance between two points. This, he says, is all one can know of the spiritual world. Of course, most students are extremely bored by his lectures. It is also the case that people today have come to believe that science has to be boring, and therefore many of the students are actually excited by this professor! This, of course, is just an aside.
The real story is the following. Taken by themselves, sentences such as "the whole is greater than its parts" and "the straight line is the shortest distance between two points" cause the back of our head to become cold. This is what usually happens: the temperature drops and the area at the back of one's head becomes cold. When the temperature drops you begin to freeze and you want to get away from such statements — they are so boring. It is a fact — boredom causes a drop in temperature at the back of the head — not the whole body, but just at the back of the head. What cools it down is not snow or ice but something of a spiritual nature, insofar as there are subjects that hold no interest for the human being.
It is of course possible to make fun of these sentences, but the fact remains, that patiently to think such thoughts over and over again means to put oneself, again and again, deliberately into a state of dreadful boredom, and this is a good way to reach in the direction of a true spiritual perception. It is remarkable that the very things men do not want in general are the things they must practice if they wish to have a real look into the spiritual world. Mathematics for many is boring; it causes a drop in temperature at the back of the head; and precisely because it is a cold subject for most, and precisely because they have to work at it, those people who do, have the least trouble reaching into the spiritual world. Those who overcome this resistance and experience again and again the truth of these statements are those who can create artificially a state of boredom in themselves. They have the easiest way into the spiritual world.
I have told you already, when one has a fever one's pulse speeds up. One warms up, and this warmth reaches into one's head and into one's brain, and in this way the warmth causes one to talk nonsense. If, on the other hand, one struggles with such statements as we have mentioned, this causes one's blood to slow down, and there is an accumulation of salts deposited in the back of the brain. Most people react in one of two ways to this. Some get a stomachache and they notice this right away, as soon as they start to think of these statements, and so they stop. One can go on thinking, as for example Nietzsche did. He always tortured himself with such statements when he was a young man, and the salts accumulated in his head, and in his case he suffered dreadful migraines. The objective is to be able to think such thoughts without causing a migraine or a stomachache.
One must find a way to be completely healthy while at the same time artificially producing in oneself a state of boredom. Thus, if someone were to tell you quite honestly how to reach into the spiritual world, he would have to tell you first of all to learn how to create boredom artificially in yourself. Short of this you have no hope of reaching the spiritual world. But look now at our contemporary world. What is it that people want at this time? People today are constantly trying to drive away boredom. Just look at all the things and all the places people run to in order not to be bored. They always want to be amused; but what does that mean, to want to be amused all the time? It means that they really want to run away from the spirit! It has no other meaning; and people today always want to be amused, which makes it clear that wherever anything spiritual might be present people of our time always run away from it immediately. People are not conscious of this, they do it unconsciously, but the fact remains that they want amusement and to run away from the spirit.
Well, gentlemen, only those can reach into the spirit who are not afraid of renouncing amusements and of living in such sentences. When one can manage to live artificially in those sentences without getting a stomachache or a migraine, but can actually tolerate living in such sentences for many hours at a time, then it becomes possible to contemplate the spiritual world.
An additional change must take place in this act of holding oneself consciously in these sentences. One notices, if one has been living with these sentences for a while, that they start to turn around. If I think about the sentence "the large triangle is greater than its parts" for a long time, if I think about it for a very long time, there comes a point when the sentence somehow turns around. It even starts to become interesting, for I start to have the following perception: If I have a triangle here, and I consider one quarter of that triangle and take it out, it somehow begins to grow with me and it no longer remains true that the whole is greater than the parts. Suddenly that quarter part is larger for me, I see that it has grown, so that I now must say: The whole is smaller than the parts! (The sentence is written on the blackboard.) By doing this, I have worked myself into a position where I can see how things work in the spiritual world. Things there are the opposite of the way they are in the physical world.
In the physical world, the whole is always greater than its parts. In the spiritual world, the part is greater than the whole. It is impossible to know a human being without knowing that the part is greater than the whole.
Contemporary science always wants to look at the smallest parts, the components of things. If, for example, we study the liver of a person, we find that it is smaller than the person in the physical realm. But if we start looking at it from a spiritual point of view, we find that it grows and grows to gigantic proportions; it actually becomes a whole world in itself. If one cannot see this, then it is impossible to perceive the liver at all in a spiritual way. Therefore you must first honestly arrive at the statement: the whole is smaller than the part, or the part is greater than the whole.
In the same way, if you think for a long time —long enough — about the statement: All bodies have surfaces, or are extended, then there is a danger that the back of your brain will freeze. If you think upon this sentence in this way, all the bodies shrivel into one; they stop having surfaces — external surfaces — and in the end you arrive at the statement: Bodies do not have surfaces, they are not extended. (The sentence is written on the blackboard.)
Now I will take a funny example, funny for the physical world, but of the highest seriousness in the spiritual world. It could seem that there is nothing more foolish than to say: in Buxtehude there was a trial, and judgment was passed — it has no color. In Trippstrill, judgment was passed in the course of a trial — and this also had no color. But if you think about judgments for a long time, they in fact acquire color. Just as you can say the rose is red, so you can say the judgment in Buxtehude was a kind of dirty yellow, and the judgment in Trippstrill was red. There can even be some judgments that are a beautiful red, although this is rarely the case.
As you begin to understand this, you begin to grow into the sentence: All judgments made by human beings have color. (The sentence is written on the blackboard) Only now does one reach the point of being at all capable of thinking about the spiritual world, because it has the opposite characteristics of the physical world.
The straight line is the shortest path between two points. This is true to such an extent that all geometry is built upon it. It is one of the first statements in geometry. It is as true in the physical world as anything ever can be true in the physical world. But if one thinks about it long enough — if some being goes from village A to village B, and that being is not a physical but a spiritual being, the way will seem very short if he walks in a half circle. The sentence then changes to: The straight line is the longest way between two points.(The sentence is written on the blackboard.)
You must admit there is something here that astonishes you, but the world as a whole does not like these kinds of things, and people will say: If someone says that judgments have color, he must have a fever or he is mad! Of course, the whole point is that one reaches these things in full consciousness without the use of one's body. The spiritual world has characteristics that are the opposite of the physical world and one may come to this realization through the simplest statements, for the simplest statements are the hardest to believe.
As you know, if someone starts telling you interesting things about the spiritual world, everybody starts listening; for instance, if someone starts talking about ghosts. But if someone tells you first that you must get used to creating boredom in yourself artificially — it has to be artificially — this doesn't seem so interesting. If you are just naturally bored by external science, nothing comes of it; it has to be done artificially, through an inner effort that enables you to reach the state of boredom without getting a migraine or a stomachache. The body must not participate in that state of boredom. The moment your body is involved, it is clear that you will get a migraine or a stomachache. Don't listen when people tell you, Do not let professor so and so bore you. Such advice will be of no help, it will not make you see into the spiritual world. What you must do is gradually overcome both migraines and stomachaches.
You see, the student is sitting here — the professor bores him to death — he should be getting a migraine or a stomachache, but he doesn't. What happens in this case is that other organs come into play which do not hurt. People, in fact, do get sick when the physical body is involved in the boredom. If you induce the boredom in the way contemporary science does, it only makes people sick.
If one teaches people in the right way, one gives them the ability to produce, through their own powers, in total freedom, the boredom which, when penetrated, will gradually allow entrance to the spiritual world. One must take hold of absolutely basic judgments in the physical world and see how they are turned upside-down in the spiritual world.
There is one extremely good way in which it is possible to work on oneself. For example: let us say you have experienced something very boring, so boring that you walked away from it because it was so boring, so boring that you could not stand it anymore, (you were so happy when it was over!) In such a case it is important that you start very, very slowly thinking it through again. Let me tell you that I have learned a great deal from this kind of exercise in my life. When I was young, I listened to many dreadfully boring lectures; but before it even started, I would look forward to a boring lecture, because it brought about the kind of result sleep normally does in life. I was very happy. I would tell myself: You are going to listen to a few hours of boring lectures. When the lecture started and the professor started to speak, I often had the feeling: He is talking too much, he is disturbing me in my boredom. But afterward I would think very deeply about every single thing he had said, not that it interested me — it didn't interest me at all — but I relived every single hour. I relived it from the very beginning exactly the way it had been presented. Sometimes I went over it so thoroughly that it would actually take two hours. I would have two hours of artificial boredom. In this process, one can make an extraordinary discovery. This kind of discovery is one that could be made at the end of the nineteenth century. Imagine that you have come out of a lecture by a giant rhinoceros — this can happen! — and that you have been bored to death.
Now you can meditate, as the saying goes, on this boring lecture, bringing everything that was boring back into yourself, into your soul. Then suddenly, behind that giant rhinoceros of a man who was presenting you with all this boring stuff, a higher man, something like a completely spiritual human being, will emerge. The whole lecture hall is thereby transformed for you. I am putting this in a way you can understand rationally. The lecture hall becomes transformed in such a way that behind the professor the spiritual — a truly and deeply intelligent man — appears. I knew many professors of the nineteenth century with whom this was the case; but of course I don't want you to talk about this, because people would think it a terrible thing. For the truth is that humans are not inwardly as unconscious or as stupid as they pretend to be. Often they are quite smart. The dumbest are often quite smart, and the opposite is also true. But they don't know their own intelligence. It is a very deep secret: behind a person there often stands the true nature of his soul and spirit, which he cannot perceive in himself. This is already a way of reaching into the spiritual world.
As you know, at the end of the nineteenth century there existed a materialistic natural science, and people today still adore this materialist science. I must admit however, that this science was tremendously useful to me. What it did, from start to finish, was bring up the most boring statements. It is as if the modern scientist licks his fingers with enjoyment when he thinks he has discovered that all humans descended from apes. But if one thinks about this statement again and again, with complete energy, it changes! It changes into another statement that is spiritually correct. That is to say, humans do not descend from apes but from a spiritual being.
There are different points of view here. A child was once sent to school. There he heard for the first time from his teacher that humanity is descended from apes — too early as it turned out. When he returned home, he said to his father, "Hey, I heard today that humanity is descended from apes. Just think of that!" "Well," said his father indignantly, "You're certainly a stupid fellow. That may be the case for you, if you like, but not for me!" You see, for the father — he took it with reference to the soul — the story was quite unbelievable.
From all that I have told you you will see that one can find one's way into natural scientific thinking in two ways. If you have not studied natural science, as many did in the nineteenth century and indeed still do, instead of simply parroting the conclusions, you can think about them — but think about them in a meditative way. Think them over for hours and hours, and you will find that what is true in the spiritual world comes forward. If you think for a long time about plants and minerals, and you have thought all the things about them that people tell you these days in such a dreadfully materialistic way, then you finally come to the meaning of things like the meaning of the zodiac, the meaning of the stars, all the secrets of the stars.
The surest way to this goal is to start with those simple statements that are taken for granted, and proceed forward from there. The part is greater than the whole, bodies have no extension, judgments have color, the straight line is the longest path between two points. In saying these kinds of sentences you tear yourself away from your physical body. When you have experienced all this, you come to the point where you can use your etheric body instead of your physical body. You can then start thinking with your etheric body — your etheric body thinks everything upside-down, or in the reverse of the way it appears in the physical world. It is the etheric body that gradually brings one into the spiritual world. At precisely this point, however, very often one gets stuck: one must still accustom oneself to one thing more.
You may know that one can read very strange things these days. I was in a small southern Austrian town (which is no longer in Austria) and I found an evening paper. It had a so-called editorial; it was a very interesting story, in all detail — every particular — a political story. There were three columns — it was all very interesting. Then at the end — still on the same page, there was a small disclaimer that said: We are sorry to notify our readers that everything in today's editorial article is based on false information and therefore not a word of it is true! This is the kind of thing that can happen to you today. This of course is rather an extreme case, but whenever you read newspapers it can happen that on every single page there is something that is not true at all. At some later point what one is now reading will be exposed as untrue. My feeling is that most people have become dreadfully insensitive in such matters, and they take in, quite evenhandedly, both truth and lies. The mind has become blunted in this way, so that truth and lies are both taken in the same way. This makes it impossible to reach into the spiritual world.
I told you last time that when someone becomes crazy, only his body is sick; the soul is not sick, it remains healthy. I told you that when someone hallucinates in a fever, it is only his thoughts that become caricatures — for the soul itself is intact. One must get used to these things, if one wants to penetrate the spiritual world. One must get used to feeling pain in one's soul when something is not right, and to finding that something that is correct gives one a spiritual joy. One must rejoice about the truth the way one would if one were to receive a million dollars. One must be happy when one is told some truth. The opposite case is that when something is discovered to be a lie, a suffering is felt in the soul — not in the body — suffering as if one had a dreadful illness. The suffering need not be so severe that the soul has to become sick, but it must be possible for the soul to experience pain and joy just as, when the body is disturbed in a physical way, one feels pain and joy. This means that one must come to the point where one feels the truth in the same way that one experiences happiness, cheerfulness, and general pleasure in the physical world. One must eventually come to the point where one suffers such pain in the face of untruth that one's soul becomes sick — as one can be in a bodily way. If someone heaps lies upon you, you must be able to say inwardly: Damn it, this person has just sold me deadly nightshade. This must be true in an inner way. Now of course, if you look at the current world — for instance, at the newspapers —one eats that deadly nightshade all the time. You must constantly nourish yourself spiritually, for the soul has to remain healthy. You must continually be spitting out what is bad, spiritually, if your spirit is to remain healthy. One has to get used to this fact, because one cannot be without newspapers. Once you come to the spiritual world, you will have to be used to the bad taste of newspapers; and to feeling joy when you read something exceptionally good — the same kind of joy, in my opinion, that you would have when you eat something that tastes very good.
Truth, and the striving for truth, must taste good to you; and lies, once you are conscious of them, must taste bitter and poisonous. You must not only know that judgments have color, but also that printer's ink nowadays is mostly wild cherry juice. You must be able to experience this in all honesty and rectitude, and once you can do so you will be in a state of spiritual transformation. People read these days about alchemy, and believe it in an external way. They believe that they can change copper to gold, and there are charlatans who will tell you all kinds of superstitious variations of this. Of course, in the spiritual world these things are possible; but one must believe in the truth of the spirit. One must be able to tell oneself that the printer's ink used is the same everywhere, materially, whether it has printed a true book or a lying newspaper. In the second case, the printer's ink is really the wild cherry juice, and in the other it is like liquid gold. Things that in the physical world are exactly the same are quite different in the spirit. Of course, if intelligent people today hear the statement "printer's ink can be liquid gold or wild cherry juice" they will tell you that you are only speaking 'metaphorically'. It is only a metaphor! But the meta-phorical must become spiritual reality and one needs to understand how metaphors become spiritual.
I will give you an example — it actually comes out of the history of the Social Democratic party. You probably did not experience this as much in this country. At one point the party split; on one side were those led by Bernstein — happily making all kinds of compromises with the middle class — and on the other side, led by Bebel, were the radicals. I am sure you have heard about Bebel in books. At one point in Dresden there was a party convention, and Bebel got angry about the others and said he was going to put some order into social democracy. He gave a big angry speech. In the course of it he said: Well, if this or that happens on the other side, it feels like a louse running across my liver. Now everybody would say this is only meant metaphorically. Of course there is no such thing as a louse on his liver! But then one can ask: Why use such an expression? Why is it possible to speak in terms that suggest a louse walked on your liver? For the most part it is extremely unpleasant when people have lice, it is extremely unpleasant; it is actually a distressing feeling.
Not everyone is as lucky as a certain sorry fellow who was always picking lice from his head. Someone asked him once, "How is it that you are so skillful and always manage to find a louse?" He answered, "Its easy. If I miss the one I'm aiming for, I get the one beside it." It does not happen to all of us to aim for a louse and miss and still get one!
Generally, when people have lice, it's terribly unpleasant — a horrible feeling. I remember a case when I was a tutor and one of the boys entrusted to me came home after being out. He had been sitting on all kinds of benches in a big city and he started to have dreadful pains in his eyes. Everyone was wondering which specialist to take him to for his terrible pains but I said, "Why don't we first try a lice-killing cream on his eyebrows?" Indeed, it was then noticed that he was full of lice, and once the cream went to work, his eyes stopped tearing. Now, you should have seen how upset people — the mother and the aunt — looked when they suddenly discovered that he had lice. Their feelings were so intense that they had repercussions in their livers; they had pains in their bellies. They said, "My God, our child has lice, what a terrible thing!" When this happened, the sensation was really as though they had lice running across their livers.
In the case of the Social Democratic party, it was not a matter of people getting lice, but rather of some people doing things that seemed so awful, so repugnant to the others, that the sensation was the same — the same as would have been experienced in earlier times, or would still be experienced in some classes of society, at the thought of having lice on one's liver. So you can see, in the way the expression was formed, it did correspond to a reality. Latterly, however, these expressions have been used in a way that only refers to spiritual matters or matters of the soul. But again, one has consciously, deliberately, to make those connections. One must really be able to experience, not just the sound of the phrase, but the actual sensation that it came from.
Let us say I have a newspaper in front of me: most of the things that are printed in it must be felt by me as if the printer's ink was a somewhat toxic deadly nightshade juice. I wonder what people would do if they truly experienced that these days? Think for a moment how much deadly nightshade juice is used when, for instance, people talk about war guilt — Germany's war guilt in the first World War, or Germany's innocence in the war — and the fact that people, just by reason of belonging to this or that nation, feel comfortable when they claim innocence, using all manner of untruthful statements. They feel good doing this, but not because what they say is actually true.
So, how in today's world can one reach the spirit? One must, first of all, make a firm decision, a very intense commitment, to be very different from these contemporaries — and yet get along with them. For of course it is not going to be very helpful to just stand on a stage and insult people. One way or another, one has to find an avenue for truth. This is extremely difficult, as I have shown you today. Today I had to present difficult things so that you would see that it is not easy to enter the spiritual world. You will see that it is good to work with difficult things. Later on we will come to things that are easier, less strenuous. Next time, I will show you the whole way into the spiritual world.
|GA 107. The Being of Man and His Future Evolution — The Manifestation of the Ego in the Different Races of Men|
|If a man brings his whole inner being to expression in his physiognomy and on the surface of his body, then it permeates his external being with the colour of his inner nature as it were. Now the colour of egohood is red or copper or a yellowish brown. And an overpowering feeling of ego arising from offended self-respect can even nowadays turn a man as it were yellow with rage. They are absolutely connected, these two phenomena: the red colour of those peoples that migrated to the West and the yellow colour of the man whose ‘blood boils’ as we say, and whose inner nature is showing itself right into his skin.|
|GA 107. The Being of Man and His Future Evolution — The Manifestation of the Ego in the Different Races of Men|
In last week's lecture we became familiar with every day expressions of man's inner life, namely laughing and weeping, and today we will explore the conditions in both our immediate and more distant surroundings upon which this inner being of man, including man's whole evolution, in a certain way depend. As wide as possible a study of man is what we have been working at in these group lectures this winter, and we will go on studying man from as many aspects as possible.
If you consider what you know of earth conditions, then even if you look at these relatively superficially you would realise immediately that man takes on a different form in different regions of the earth. External bodily characteristics vary according to the different zones of the earth. You will remember that there are ‘races’, the black, red, yellow and white race, and that these races were originally connected with certain regions of the earth. You will also find this corroborated by history, either in what you learnt at school from the observation of purely physical, material conditions, or what we have learnt through anthroposophical science itself. Looking back into the ancient past, we see how the human soul and actually the human body too, developed in the different epochs of earth evolution. In the sphere of spiritual science we have looked back into ancient India, Persia, Egypt, and so on. And we saw how the various capacities that mankind has today, developed gradually in the course of ages. All this gives you an idea of how external conditions are connected with the unfolding of man's inner being. Now if even present-day earth conditions bring about such differences among men, what tremendous human differences must have come about since the very beginnings of our earth evolution, after it has passed through the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolution. We have described various details of this. What we are going to describe today, however, shall be considered from another point of view. For we shall really get to know human conditions if we continually consider them from different points of view.
At the beginning of earth evolution, earth, sun and moon were, as you know, still one body. The conditions within our whole evolution must have been entirely different then. Man, evolving in earthly evolution, would have been very different whilst the earth was still one with the sun; and how greatly he had to change as first of all the sun and then the moon separated from the earth! Now we know that the epoch after the sun and the moon had separated from the earth is also the so-called Lemurian evolution, in which man had only just begun to acquire a form that is anything like our present-day one. We have often described it by saying that this was actually the time when man descended from higher regions on to the earth. Although man was already in a physical body at the time when the sun was still joined with the earth, it was not like today's body. At that time he had the kind of physical body like you can imagine if you picture man today not standing with his feet on the earth, but raising himself into the air, as though he had no bony elements within him, but still belonged to the regions of air and water, whereby we must imagine the water dissolved in the air. He would have been like a transparent being on the periphery of the earth. A present-day eye would not be able to distinguish this human being from his environment, just as a present-day eye cannot distinguish certain sea creatures from their surroundings, because they look so similar. You can imagine such a being wafting through the air. Not until after the separation of the sun and the moon did man become like we know him today. What were the conditions necessary for man to develop into what he is today? It was essential that the sun's force should not work from inside but from outside on to the earth. That was the purpose of the separation of both sun and moon, that these two cosmic bodies should send their forces, like the sun sends its light, from outside on to the earth. Man could only acquire his present-day form because the sun shone on him not from below, from the centre of the planet, but from the side. Just imagine, if you care to assume such a hypothesis, that the moon were to fall back on to the earth, and the sun to reunite with it; if he wanted to survive in those conditions man would have to re-clothe himself with a body as airy as it was before, and he would have to be able to waft through the environment he is familiar with today. Thus man owes his present existence to the fact that the sun and moon shine on him from outside. We will disregard all the other forces today.
Now the sun and moon work in various ways from outside. The way the sun works in the region of the North Pole is very different from the way it works at the Equator. We get the impression of tremendous contrasts that acquired a meaning the moment the sun began to shine on to the earth from outside. You know, of course, that the nearer we get to the North Pole the greater are the differences between winter and summer. And right at the North Pole half the year is day and half the year night. When you think of these differences, then what spiritual science has to say about these things will make sense. It tells us that at the North Pole itself earth conditions in Lemurian times were the closest to those conditions existing on the earth when the sun and moon were still united with it. Today, of course, these conditions are quite different. But even today it is still to a certain extent true that at the North Pole the strongest influence is from the earth's centre to its surface, and the influence of the sun and the moon are at their least. What has made itself felt since Lemurian times, in the great increase of forces raying in from outside, has had the least influence of all at the North Pole, so the effect of the centre of the earth on its surface and everything living upon it is here at its greatest. On the other hand the influence of the sun and the moon is strongest around the Equator, and this was already so in Lemurian times. In the Kashic Record we can confirm that earth conditions changed to something completely new with the separation of sun and moon. This, however, led to a quite definite consequence. Something arose which was of fundamental importance for the whole of earth evolution. For the reasons we have given it was in the area of the North Pole least possible for man to descend, as it were, and to incarnate in a physical human form in such a way that he could come to best expression within it. Therefore in ancient Lemurian times it was just at the North Pole that those beings congregated who, if I may express it this way, laid no claim as yet to coming right down on to the earth, but who preferred to remain above in the regions where the air was still interlaced with vapour. Thus there was at the North Pole in Lemurian times a kind of spiritual species that did not concern itself very much with the physical bodies that swarmed about on the earth below. From a spiritual point of view, seen by a present-day eye, this species consisted of transparent forms that were therefore not actually visible, and as such they were highly developed, but regarding their physical form they showed a lower form of humanity. They lived in an etheric body and were beings of a more ethereal nature, having only a loose connection with the primitive bodies developing on the earth below that still had no density to speak of. These bodies were too dependent on the earth, and these spiritually more advanced beings only used them as sheaths to the very smallest extent. If, therefore, a man of the present, with his powers of perception, had been able to visit the North Pole in Lemurian times, he would have spoken about its population much in this way: What peculiar people!
They are really very little developed with regard to their physical bodies, but this must point to something special, for as a people they are skilful and intelligent; it is as though they were being directed by strings from above! And so indeed it was, for the real human being did not descend on to the earth's surface. That is why the people living around the North Pole at that time were in the highest degree ethereal beings with highly developed etheric bodies but underdeveloped physical bodies; beings that as it were could grasp all the wisdom of the world with their etheric bodies, as though they had great clairvoyant faculties, and who looked out to the starry Heavens with an understanding of the beings who were weaving the life of world spaces. But you could almost say that their physical bodies were sleepy. Yet because they were led as though by strings from above, the deeds they performed were perfectly intelligent.
In the equatorial regions it was different. The influence of the sun and the moon was becoming more and more active from outside. The air was interlaced and warmed through by the rays of the sun. All the phenomena taking place in the region of the air became dependent on the sun and the moon. And the result of this was that just in ancient Lemurian times the people of these regions descended deepest into their physical bodies, and their etheric bodies interpenetrated their physical bodies most deeply. A present-day man with eyes of the senses would assume these beings to be the most highly developed physical human beings, whilst he would reckon the northern peoples to be underdeveloped. And there was a further difference that is of special importance.
Where the sun had least influence men developed in such a way that over large areas they all looked more or less similar to one another. For each of these beings that did not descend but was still ethereal belonged to a number of forms below. Up in the North they were group souls, whilst the souls around the Equator were more individual souls, and each human being was much more inside his own body. Thus the inhabitants of those regions that we find at the North Pole today had, in Lemurian times, the characteristics of group soul beings to the greatest imaginable degree. A great number of people looked up to their group soul. And if we look at these group souls as souls we will see that they were much more highly developed than the souls which, in Lemurian times, descended into physical bodies in the equatorial regions. So we can say that the North Pole was populated by people that actually lived in the realms of air in a kind of paradise, and who had not yet descended as far as the earth. What we thus understand to be a necessary consequence of the foregoing you can now compare with what you encounter here and there in anthroposophical literature, namely that those higher beings who were once the teachers of mankind descended from the cold North! We have actually found them, the group souls around the North Pole. If they wanted to become teachers of those people who were inferior souls and who entered more into physical bodies, then they had to descend further, too, and oppose the capacity of the clairvoyance of Lemurian times in their etheric body, or they had to sacrifice themselves and take on the physical human form of the Lemurian people.
If we had taken a journey in Lemurian times from the Equator to the North Pole, we should have found a spiritualising of the earth population. In those times we can distinguish as it were a twofold population: one kind that had still remained spiritual, and whose earthly bodies appeared really to be only an addition to their spiritual being, and another kind that had already descended into matter, into the physical. What would have happened if no change had occurred with earth evolution? The best souls of the polar regions would not have been able to descend at all into physical bodies. And on the other hand the equatorial population would have more or less died out. Having descended too soon into a physical body, they fell into those wicked and immoral practices that led to the downfall of Lemuria. And this resulted in the best section of the population migrating to those regions lying between the Equator and the northern lands. For in Lemurian times we find the members of mankind with the greatest chance of survival living in the countries between the Equator and the North Pole. The human bodies that could become bearers of the most advanced human souls developed best in those regions of ancient Atlantis known today as the temperate zones.
Now all the various stages of evolution leave so-called stragglers behind and there are also stragglers left from these ancient times. What we call the Lemurian population of the earth, that remarkable people of the North with strongly developed etheric bodies and less developed physical bodies, and that other equatorial population with strongly developed physical bodies and less developed etheric bodies, of these people nothing remains, they became extinct. For these bodies were of such a nature that we cannot even find remains; the substance was so soft that there can be no question of there being any remains. Of paramount importance in their Atlantean descendants was that the germ of the ego, the consciousness of Self, the foundations of which were already basically there from ancient Lemurian times on, went through a progressive development on the earth. If mankind had not to a large extent migrated to Atlantis, the active development of the ego would not have come about. For the Lemurian population would have gradually died out, having to succumb to passions, and the best souls of the North would not have descended to earth at all, for they would not have been able to find suitable bodies. The underdeveloped bodies of earlier times would not have provided them with the possibility of developing a strong consciousness of self within the bodily nature. Through the fact that the better sections of the Lemurian population migrated to Atlantis, the human body evolved its form to the extent that it could become the bearer of self-consciousness in a harmonious way. And it was only in the course of time that the human body acquired this form in the regions corresponding to the present temperate zones. For in this period of evolution the human body was still evolving. In Atlantean times the human body was not yet confined to rigid forms, and the highly developed human beings, those of great spiritual significance, were physically small in those days, whereas a person who was not very significant spiritually had in Atlantean times a gigantically developed physical body. And if you had met such a giant in those days, you could have concluded: He is not on a very high level spiritually, for he has rushed into his body with his whole being! Everything that refers to ‘giants’ in legends is absolutely based on a knowledge of the truth. If, therefore, a real memory of these times is preserved in the Germanic myths, we feel it to be absolutely correct, from the spiritual scientific point of view, that the giants are stupid and the dwarfs very clever. This is entirely based on what could be said of the Atlantean population: Where the people are small we find great intelligence, and a race of large men are all stupid! Where human intelligence ran to flesh there was not much mind left. So that physical size expressed the inability to retain the spiritual. In those days the body was still to a certain extent perfectly capable of transformation. Just at the time when Atlantis began to sink there was a great contrast between men who were good as to their qualities of soul, and were a race of little men, and the giant forms who were wicked and in whom everything had turned to flesh. You might even find echoes of these facts in the Bible, if you cared to look for them.
So we see that in Atlantean times the human body could still form itself according to spiritual characteristics. Therefore it could also take on the form which enabled it to mould all the organs, heart, brain, and so on, in such a way that they could become the expression of an actual ego being, a being with self-consciousness. These capacities and characteristics, however, developed on innumerable different levels. There were people whose inner nature was correctly balanced and who were normal, for they had not developed egoism to too great an extent, nor had they developed their ego-feeling solely on a lower level. With them, devotion to the outer world and ego-feeling maintained a balance. Such people were scattered about everywhere. And these were the men that the Atlantean initiates could do most with. On the other hand there were other men who had developed a tremendously strong ego-feeling, much too soon, of course; for human beings had not yet reached the point when they could make of their bodies an instrument for a strongly developed ego-feeling. This made the body hardened in egoism as it were, and it became impossible for it to develop beyond a certain point. There were other people again who had not reached anything like a normal ego-feeling because they were more susceptible to influences from the outer world than they should have been; peoples who had completely surrendered themselves to the outer world. Thus it was the normal human beings that were the best material for the initiates to use for the evolution of the future, and they were also the ones that the great sun initiate, Manu, gathered around him as being most capable of evolving. Those peoples whose ego impulse was developed too strongly, so that it permeated their whole being and made it a manifestation of egohood, these people gradually wandered to the West and became the nation the last survivors of which appeared as the Red Indians of America. Those people whose ego-feeling was too little developed migrated to the East, and the survivors of these people became the subsequent Negro population of Africa. If you look at those things in a really spiritual scientific way you will see evidence of them right into the physical characteristics. If a man brings his whole inner being to expression in his physiognomy and on the surface of his body, then it permeates his external being with the colour of his inner nature as it were. Now the colour of egohood is red or copper or a yellowish brown. And an overpowering feeling of ego arising from offended self-respect can even nowadays turn a man as it were yellow with rage. They are absolutely connected, these two phenomena: the red colour of those peoples that migrated to the West and the yellow colour of the man whose ‘blood boils’ as we say, and whose inner nature is showing itself right into his skin. Those people, however, who had developed their ego being too little, and who were too exposed to the influences of the sun, were like plants: they deposited too many carbonic constituents beneath their skin and became black. This is why the Negroes are black. Thus both east of Atlantis in the black population and west of Atlantis in the red population we find survivors of the kind of people who had not developed their ego-feeling in a normal way. The human beings who had developed normally lent themselves best to progress. Therefore they were the ones chosen to infiltrate the various other regions from the place we know of in Asia.
Now between the little group of people Manu gathered round him and the extreme cases there were obviously innumerable intermediary stages of development. These were also turned to account, of course. To some extent these intermediary levels were extraordinarily suitable for the further evolution of earth civilisation. Thus for example, in the migration from West to East a people remained behind in parts of Europe who had developed their ego-feeling to a marked degree, but who were at the same time not very open to influences from the environment. Think what a peculiar mixture was bound to result in Europe. Those people who migrated to the East and became the black race were very susceptible to external influences, especially that of the sun, just because they had so little ego-feeling. But other peoples migrated into these parts, or at least in this direction, who had a strong ego-feeling. These were peoples who had preferred as it were going East to going West, and they are a milder red than they would have been had they gone West. They gave rise to the race of people who had a strong ego-feeling which nevertheless kept a balance between this and their devotion to the outer world. Those are the peoples of Europe of whom we were able to say in the last public lecture that their strong feeling of personality was from the beginning their essential feature.
Thus we see how man's outer surroundings work on his inner situation, and how the earth, through the different positions in which the areas of its surface are exposed to the sunlight, gave rise to innumerable levels of soul development. All according to the direction in which the souls looked, they found a different possibility for developing themselves in a physical body. It is very important that we realise the connection between the sun's influence on the earth and man's evolution. If some day you follow up these matters with me as far as the details of later times you will see how much becomes comprehensible through the fact that all these possible shades of colouring arose. Thus for example there was that particular part of the population that stayed in Europe whose characteristics were as I have described, and they led an independent existence up till much later times. They did not concern themselves about other people; but those that migrated into the regions already colonised by peoples with various shades of dark skin, and mixed with them, acquired every possible shade of skin colour. Look at the colours to be found in Asia, from the Negroes to the yellow races. Hence you have bodies that are sheaths for every possible level of soul, from the completely passive Negro soul entirely given up to the outer world of physical existence, to the other levels of passive souls in every possible part of Asia.
Various characteristics of the evolution of the Asiatic and African peoples will now be comprehensible to you: they present various combinations of surrender to the environment and the external manifestation of ego-feeling. So fundamentally we have two groups of people representing combinations: those on European soil, forming the root stock of the white population, who had predominantly developed the feeling of personality, but who did not migrate to where the feeling of personality permeated the whole body, but to where the ego-feeling became more inward. Therefore in western Asia and partly in North Africa and the countries of Europe, too, in earlier times, you find a people with a strong inner ego-feeling, but who on the whole were not given to losing themselves in the outer world; their inner character was strong and firm, but it did not set its imprint on the bodily nature. On the other hand there are those peoples in Asia with passive, self-effacing natures in whom just this passivity expresses itself in the highest degree. This makes the people dreamy, and the etheric body penetrates very deeply into the physical body. That is the fundamental difference between the European and the Asiatic peoples.
Manu, with his group of normal men, was wedged in between them. He had to bring the right form of culture to each different shade of the population, and he had to colour this wisdom and teaching to suit the external conditions of the people. Thus we see that the peoples of Asia were given instruction of the kind to satisfy them in their passivity and self-effacement. The Afro-Asiatic peoples do not emphasise the ego. The Negro would to some extent not lay stress on the ego at all. When these people looked up to the divine, they said: I do not find my innermost being within me, I find it in Brahma by flowing out of myself and surrendering myself to the universe!
A teaching such as this would not have been understood in Europe. Europe was situated much too near the North Pole for that, and the countries have kept a certain similarity right down the ages. Let us remind ourselves that it was at the North Pole that we previously found the peoples that did not descend right into physical bodies but whose physical bodies were actually to a certain extent stunted. In fact the European peoples had not as yet quite descended into their physical bodies. They turned their feeling of personality inward. And we would find this more and more the further back we went. Just think how this feeling of personality has been preserved right into later times, when people perhaps no longer saw any reason for it. Someone who belonged to the East would have said: I unite myself with the one, all-embracing Brahma! Thou unitest thyself with Brahma! The other man unites himself with Brahma, they all unite themselves with the one Brahma! With whom did the European unite himself, if he had to acknowledge this as an acceptable idea? He united himself with the one valkyrie, with the one higher soul. And the valkyrie, one might say, was there for each one at the moment of death. It was all an individual, personal matter. And it was only at the border of these two regions that such a thing as the Moses-Christ religion could arise. It could only come right in the middle between East and West. And whilst it could not take root over in the East where the idea of God was that of a unity, but at a previous stage, it could assert itself as the idea of a personal God, which Jehovah is and which Christ is, among those people who already bore the feeling of personality within themselves. Therefore it spread to the West, and we see it meeting with understanding, when envisaged as the idea of a God people could think of as a person. That is why we see it developing in this way almost as a necessity just in this particular belt. The feeling of personality was there, but it was still inward, still spiritual, just as with the ancient Lemurians everything was still spiritual, and the bodily nature was only developed to a small degree. The bodily nature was certainly developed here, but the personal element, which man prized so highly, was inward, and man also wanted to conquer what was external by means of the inner being. Thus it was here that they best understood a God who had the greatest wealth of inner nature permeating his outer nature, namely the Christ. In Europe everything was prepared for the Christ. And because these were regions in which in earlier times men had not descended entirely on to the earthly scene, and therefore some kind of last remnants of spiritual perception existed, there was still something remaining of the vision of spiritual beings, of the old European clairvoyance.
This old European clairvoyance had also led to there being an ancient image of God throughout Europe and also as far as Asia, which present-day scholars, perhaps, will only get to know of if they discover it in the myths of certain isolated districts of Siberia. A remarkable description emerged there long before Christian times, when nothing was known as yet of what was going on in the South, namely what is described in the Old Testament, the Greco-Roman evolution and that of the East. A remarkable idea emerged there which possibly led to the name that has now more or less died out, the ‘Ongod’; and Ongod is a name that is still echoed as it were in the idea of the ‘One God’. The Ongod would be something like the divine we perceive in all spiritual beings. So according to this way of thinking the idea of a personal God was something that was absolutely familiar to the people that lived in this particular belt of the earth. Therefore we can understand that it was just here that this particular outlook bore its chief fruit. For this belt of the earth and its inhabitants had so to speak solved the mystery of the ego. Strictly speaking all evolution since Atlantean times consists either of peoples who maintained the ego-feeling in just the right proportion, or of peoples who developed the ego too much or too little. Nothing special could come of the peoples who had developed the ego in too great or too little a degree. The peoples we have just described as the peoples of the Near East, and also the peoples of certain parts of Africa and especially of Europe, had developed the ego in a unique way.
These were the basic conditions necessary for the coming civilisation that has developed roughly since the beginning of our era. The ego had to reach a certain point of development, as it were, but not overdo it in either direction. And it is our task today to understand this in the right way. For all spiritual science has in a certain respect to appeal to what we call the development of a higher ego from out of the lower. When we look back over the ages we can learn from the fact that certain sections of the earth's inhabitant's did not find it possible to keep pace with earth evolution in the development of their ego, how many mistakes can be made in regard to the development of the higher ego out of the lower. In ancient Atlantis, for instance, there were peoples who dropped out of the earth population so to speak, and they became Red Indians. What would they have said if they had been able to put the facts of their development into words? They would have said: Above all I want to develop my inner being, which I find to be the highest thing within men when I look within myself. And they developed this ego so strongly that it affected even the colour of their skin, and that is how they became red. Their development led them into decadence. Among the people of Atlantis in whom everything still went directly into the body, these were the ones who cultivated what we might call inner brooding upon the ego, and they were so to say convinced that they could find within themselves everything that had to be developed. At the other extreme were those people who said: Oh, the ego is of no significance. The ego must lose itself entirely, it must dissolve altogether, and only listen to what the outside world says! They did not really say this, because they did not reflect in this manner. But those are the peoples who denied their ego to such an extent that they went black, because the external forces coming from the sun to the earth made them so. Only those peoples that were capable of holding the balance with regard to their ego could develop into the future.
Now let us look at our present earth population. There are still people today who say: Oh, the anthroposophists talk of a spiritual world which they seek within themselves. We, however, look back to our good old religious traditions that have been handed down to us externally. We rely on what comes to us from outside and are not very concerned about a higher world! Of course everything is more spiritual today than it was in Atlantis. Nowadays you no longer go black if you rely merely on traditions, and say: Those to whom we have entrusted the welfare of our souls will take care of us, those who do the job, and whose business it is to see that our souls reach Heaven! Nowadays this no longer makes you black. But we do not wish to deny everything, for in parts of Europe people still say today that if you think in this way you will go ‘black’! Everything happens to be more spiritual today! That then is the one type. The others are those who, without taking the trouble to go into all the details of spiritual science — investigations in the Kashic Record, the nature of reincarnation and karma, the principles of man's being, and so on — which require an effort to be understood, are so easy-going that they say: What do I want all that for? I look within myself, that is my higher ego, the divine man within me is there! Such a way of thinking often arises, even in theosophical circles. These people do not want to learn anything, or really develop themselves and be prepared to wait until the ego has taken hold of the various parts of their nature, but run around waiting for the divine man to speak out of them, talking incessantly about the higher ego. Indeed, there are even certain books that tell you: You do not need to learn at all! Just let the God within you speak! Today, when everything is more spiritual, this no longer makes people red. But they succumb to the same fate as did the peoples that were always boasting of their ego.
What we need is an ego that keeps itself mobile, neither losing itself in external physical observation or in external physical experience, nor remaining stationary at one point, but really advancing in spiritual development. That is why the great masters of wisdom and of harmony of the perceptions have not been telling us all the time in the theosophical movement that we should let the divine man within us speak; on the contrary they have given us quite specific impulses for finding the wisdom of the world in all its different aspects. And we are not pupils of the great masters by only wanting to let the God within us speak, or by imagining that each individual carries his own master within himself, but by wanting to get to know the structure of the world in all its aspects. Anthroposophical development is a striving to know all the subtle aspects of cosmic happenings. We attain our higher ego by evolving upwards from stage to stage. Our ego is there outside, manifest in the wonders of the world. For we are born out of the world and want to live our way back into it.
Thus we see that conditions which a man can fall into today are only so to speak modern, more spiritual versions of what we met with in Atlantean times. Even then men came under these three categories: There were those who really wanted to develop their egos, and who were always taking in new things, and by so doing they really became the bearers of post-Atlantean civilisation. Then there were those who only wanted to let the divine speak in them, and their egos made them red. And the third group turned their minds exclusively outwards, and these people became black.
We must learn the right lesson from these phenomena of earth evolution, then in the anthroposophical movement we shall really find the right impulse. What happens has always in a certain way already happened, but it happens again in ever new forms. The anthroposophical movement is something so great and significant because it is carrying further in the various regions of the earth something that developed visibly in Atlantis, but now is more invisible. Thus man is hastening forward from a civilisation of the visible towards a cultural epoch of the invisible and ever more invisible.
|GA 98. Nature and Spirit Beings — Their Effects in Our Visible World — The Elemental Kingdoms of Nature|
|The first is what we call earth—that is, everything which today may be called a solid body, iron, copper, zinc, etc. everything solid is earth. Secondly, everything liquid is water, for instance, Mercury. Even iron, in a liquefied state would be water. Every liquid metal is water in the sense of Spiritual Science.|
|GA 98. Nature and Spirit Beings — Their Effects in Our Visible World — The Elemental Kingdoms of Nature|
What has been generally designated as the Elemental Kingdoms, since the earliest times, is not so easy to understand as we are apt to imagine after a superficial examination. For these Elemental Kingdoms belong to what lies behind the world which we generally perceive—behind the world which forces itself immediately upon our senses.
We can understand such things in the best way, if we proceed from what we can perceive through our senses—from the kingdoms of the sense-world, which are accessible to human observation. Here, in the physical sense-world, four kingdoms are spread out before our senses: the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, and the kingdom of man. This is common knowledge. Let us now try to form some clear idea as to the precise nature of these four kingdoms; for this is by no means clear to everyone. And for this same reason, it is also not so easy to gain an insight into the first, second and third elemental kingdoms. It is precisely when we speak of such difficult matters, that we must take great care, from the very outset, to realize that no true goal can be reached, if we believe that a concept which we have, as it were, driven like a stake into the ground, once formed it can be left rooted in this place. This may still be possible within the physical sense-world, for here, things stand one beside another; there is a division between them, just as this book, this piece of chalk, a rose, etc., are distinct and separate from one another. It is possible, in this case, to apply a term to a single object, for when we have named something, we can be sure that we have before us something distinct and limited. If, however, we went to the astral plane, that world which is immediately beyond our own, and permeates it, as the one nearest to it, we find that this no longer holds true, for the astral world is one of eternal movement. If you observe the astral body of man, which floats around him as his aura and is the expression of his desires and passions, etc., you will see that this astral body of man is in a constant motion—it is an ebb and flow fall of colours and forms, which change at every moment, for new colours shine forth and others disappear. This is what we find in the case of man. But there are other Beings which whirl about on the astral plane. Their astral bodies do not form part of a physical body, although they are no less changeable and variable, for at every moment they have a different shape, colour, or luminous force. Everything on the astral plane is the continual expression of the inner nature of these Beings. We would, indeed, find ourselves in a difficult position if we were to apply to the astral plane the rigid, unchangeable concepts of the physical world. We must learn instead to adapt ourselves to the mobility of these shapes — we must acquire mobile concepts. We should be able to use a concept, once in this way, and once in that.
This is true of the higher worlds to a still greater degree. If we consider the world from a higher standpoint, we find that everything on the physical plane is an expression of forces emanating from these higher worlds. In everything we see about us, such forces and beings lie concealed. It is precisely what accounts for the great diversity among the beings of the physical world. Observe, for instance, the mineral kingdom. All apparently lifeless beings, all minerals, belong to this kingdom. You are told, to begin with, that these minerals on the Earth have no etheric body of their own, no astral body and no Ego. But this is true only within the physical world. We must know this, in order to reach a clear conception of what actually takes place upon the physical plane. But let us now suppose that someone were to say: “The mineral is something which has nothing but a physical body.” This statement is exactly as false, as on the other hand—it would be true, were someone to say: “The mineral kingdom is something which has, upon the physical plane, only a physical body.” For, in the light of a genuine spiritual method of observation, we find that here, upon the physical plane, the mineral has a physical body, but nothing more. If we wish to find its etheric body, we must ascend to the astral plane: there, its etheric body is to be found. The moment that a human being becomes astrally clairvoyant, he is able to see the etheric body of the mineral—there, on the astral plane—and here, on the physical plane, he sees merely its physical body. If we extend our observations still further, we find that the mineral has also an astral body. This body cannot be found, however, upon the astral plane, but must be sought in the lower regions of Devachan. Only in the higher Mental plane, in the Arupa-Mental plane, do we find the Ego of the mineral—and it is from here, that the mineral is directed by its Ego. If you wish to form a rough picture of this, you must say to yourselves: I will try to imagine a human being, whose clairvoyance reaches as far as the higher Devachan. To such a clairvoyant, who is able to see into Arupa, the minerals will appear like the fingernails of the human being—because the minerals are as it were the nails of Beings whose Ego dwells in higher Devachan. It is not possible to think of the fingernails without the human being; the same thing applies also to the minerals.
Let us suppose that we observe a rock-crystal here on Earth. If we now look away for a moment, to the etheric body, which animates the physical body, there, in the astral world. Yet it would not be possible to perceive there, that any injury caused to the mineral, also causes it pain. The joy and gladness, pain and suffering of minerals can only be found on the Devachan plane—but entirely differently from the way in which we usually imagine this. A mineral's sensation of pain is not like that of an animal; we must not think that a mineral feels pain when we hammer it and break it into pieces. When workmen in a quarry break stone and they seem to harm it, this actually gives rise to a feeling of pleasure upon the Devachan plane—it is a true delight for the minerals. Thus, in their case, we find the very opposite of what takes place in the kingdom of man and in the animal kingdom. On the Devachan plane you can encounter the spirits of the minerals. Yet it is not merely one mineral which belongs, as it were, to a mineral personality, but rather a whole system—just as your fingernails do not each possess a separate soul. If someone were to imagine that everything of an astral nature must be found upon the astral plane, he would be under a delusion. It seems, of course, natural to look for the astral element upon the astral plane—nevertheless, the inner nature of a Being must be distinguished from the environment in which it lives. Just as your Ego has no physical nature, and lives nevertheless on the physical plane, so the astral body of the mineral does not live on the astral plane but in lower Devachan. We should not form schematic concepts, but must rather work our way through to a more precise determination of things.
Let us now observe the plant, just as we see it before us. Here, on the physical plane, it has its physical body and its etheric body. It has these two bodies on the physical plane—but where are we to look for the astral body of the plant? We shall find it in the astral world—and the Ego, in the lower Devachan. Let us now go a step further, to the animal. The animal has, in the physical sense-world, a physical body, an etheric body, and an astral body—but it's Ego is on the astral plane. That is to say: just as, here on the earth, we encounter the human being as an isolated person, as a single individuality, so you will find the Egos of the animals, as complete, self-contained personalities, on the astral plane. We must think of this in the following way: All groups of animals which have a similar form, have also a common Ego. Man, therefore, distinguishes himself from the animals, owing to the fact that every human being has an individual Ego. On the astral plane, we find for instance, the Ego of the lions, the Ego of the tigers, etc. There, they are single, self-contained Beings; the single animal group-egos inhabit the astral plane just as the human beings inhabit the physical-sensory world. For the human being it is true that for him the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body and the Ego have descended as far as to the physical plane. This is true, however, only when the human being is awake—when he is asleep it is otherwise. The physical and etheric bodies are then in the physical world, whereas the astral body and the Ego are on the astral plane. Thus, during sleep, the fourfold human being is separated into parts, and is to be found partly on the physical plane and partly on the one directly above this—the astral plane. On the physical plane, the human being is then of the same value as a plant (see table below).
Now we have already learned to know, in previous lectures, the various ways in which the expressions “astral”, etc. must be used. But we shall only attain a comprehensive insight, if we realize clearly that these things cannot be pushed around like pieces on a chessboard. If we study the human being, we must observe him quite precisely, in the following way: We find in him the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, and the Ego. It has often been emphasized here, how very important it is to form a clear conception concerning the relation of these four members. It is very easy to imagine that the physical body is the most imperfect and the lowest of these. From a certain aspect, however, it is the most perfect of all—for it has passed through four successive stages of evolution—on (ancient) Saturn, Sun, Moon, and on the Earth. The etheric body has only reached its third stage of perfection, for only on the Sun it was added to the physical body. In the future, it will indeed rise to a higher stage—although at present, it is not yet as perfect as the physical body. The astral body was only added on the Moon, it has reached the second stage of perfection. The Ego is the baby among the four members of man: for it was added only on Earth, and is thus only at the beginning of its evolution; it works continually in a corruptive way upon the other bodies. Anyone who studies, from an anatomical point of view, the wonderful organization of the physical body, is filled with wonder by the perfection of the heart and of the brain. How imperfect, on the other hand are the impulses and passions of the Ego! The Ego craves for wine, beer, etc., which exerts a destructive influence throughout life—nevertheless, the physical body withstands these attacks for decades! Let us now try to make clear to ourselves how the Ego was inserted, as it were, within the physical body and how it first arose.
To begin with, there was the ancient Saturn-evolution. This was the first stage of evolution for the precursor of our present physical body. At that time man's physical body had the cosmic value of a mineral. If you look at a mineral today, you will see in it a retarded stage of existence; it has remained behind at the same stage which the physical body had reached on Saturn. But you must not think from this that the physical body had then the appearance of a mineral of today—this would be quite wrong. The present minerals are the youngest forms in evolution. On Saturn, the human body was not so dense; this density of the physical body of man was very slight indeed.
Let us now consider the relation between the various stages of matter. The first is what we call earth—that is, everything which today may be called a solid body, iron, copper, zinc, etc. everything solid is earth. Secondly, everything liquid is water, for instance, Mercury. Even iron, in a liquefied state would be water. Every liquid metal is water in the sense of Spiritual Science. Thirdly, if you convert water or anything else into steam, it, even metal steam, becomes air. Spiritual Science goes still further, for it shows that the air may become still more rarefied—may become thinner still. In this case, we must go beyond what is physical today,—and there the spiritual scientist assumes a warmth-ether, or fire. For the spiritual scientist, fire is something distinct within itself, just like earth, water, and air—whereas modern science merely looks upon it as a state of matter.
On Saturn, warmth was the substance of man's physical body. On the Sun, the physical body of man was condensed to air; then an etheric, or life-body, entered into it, transforming this physical body. We now have on the sun a physical human body, with an integrated etheric body consisting of one member. The physical body consists of two members. In the case of the physical body on the Sun, we must distinguish a more perfect and a less perfect part—that is to say, one part was not as yet permeated by the etheric body. When picturing to ourselves this physical body on the Sun, we must realize that the inner part of this physical body has received nothing from the etheric body; it has still the same value as the physical body had on Saturn. Thus, we have one part which has already attained to the stage of a plant, and this part is at the same time permeated by another part, which is still at the stage of a mineral: yet these two parts completely permeate one another.
Let us now consider the physical body on the Moon. Here, it is already condensed to water. The etheric body and the astral body are incorporated in it. Thus, we must now distinguish three different parts: One part is permeated by the etheric and astral bodies; another part is permeated only by the etheric body; and a third part has remained at the mineral stage.
And now, let us consider the physical body on the Earth. Here, the Ego is added. On the Earth, four members are interwoven. One part of the physical body is permeated by the etheric body, astral body and the Ego; a second part, by the etheric body and astral body; a third part, by the etheric body only; and a fourth part remains at the mineral stage. It has the same value as a mineral, and is still at the stage of Saturn. These four parts can be clearly distinguished in the physical body. The first part, which contains all four members, consists of the red blood corpuscles. Wherever we find red blood, these four members permeate one another.
The nerves are the second member. Wherever nerves are found, there the physical, etheric and astral bodies permeate one another. Where glands are to be found, the physical and etheric bodies interpenetrate. All the instruments of the senses, all organs which have the character of a physical apparatus, have reached merely the mineral stage. They follow exactly the same laws as do the minerals. The eye and the ear, for instance, belong to these mineral inclusions; also in the brain, such mineral parts still exist. Thus you can see for yourselves how easily one may be tempted at times to become a materialist—because something that is mineral permeates the whole body. If a materialist declares that the brain is mineral, he is in part right—that is, if he considers merely one part of the brain. Particularly in certain parts of the frontal brain—which are, however, also permeated by other irradiations, solely mineral forces are active. And were we to study the bones and muscles, it would become still more complex. When the human Ego entered into man, it began to devise the sentient soul, the rational soul, and the consciousness soul; and at the same time, it worked out the bones and muscles. If we wish to observe these things exactly, we need years of study, only to be able to keep them distinct and separate. We must trace one thing after the other, with patience.
If we now have before us a sleeping human being, his physical body and etheric body lie on the bed. But this physical body is very complicated. When the human being is awake, the astral body and the Ego work within his blood. But what happens when the physical body lies on the bed and the human being is asleep? The functions of the etheric body are indeed still carried on—yet the astral body and the Ego have to cooperatively work on the preservation of the blood. Hence, every night, the blood would be doomed to death, since it is dependent upon the Ego and the astral body, but these leave the body unfaithfully. Also the whole nervous system is abandoned disdainfully, on which the astral body must collaboratively work. Thus, we have before us the strange fact that in reality, the blood and the nervous system would have to die every night—they would fall a prey to death, if they would depend entirely upon the human being. Other Beings must come to their aid; other Beings must take over the work of man. From other worlds, other Beings must pour their activity into man, in order to preserve what he so disdainfully abandons. We shall now try to explain the nature of these Beings who become active when man is asleep, and to make it possible for him to preserve his blood intact.
We can form an idea of these Beings, if we ask ourselves: where does the human Ego really live, when it lives here, upon the physical plane? In which one of the three kingdoms does it live? And we must ask ourselves further: how much can we really know, without clairvoyant perception?—We can gain knowledge only of the mineral kingdom. This is the peculiar characteristic of the human being—that he cannot even grasp the plant completely, as long as he is not astrally clairvoyant. Materialists declare that plants are merely a conglomerate of mineral processes—just because they can see only the plant's mineral nature. When the human beings will have progressed, in their work upon themselves, as far as the first stage of clairvoyance, the life of the plants and the laws of life will then appear to them just as clearly as do now the laws of the mineral world.
If you construct a machine, or build a house, you do this in accordance with the laws of the mineral world. A machine is build according to these laws of the mineral world; but you cannot construct a plant in this way. If you wish to have a plant, you must leave this work to those Beings which form the foundations of Nature. In the future, it will be possible to produce plants in the laboratory, but only when human beings will regard this as a sacrament, as a holy rite. Only when man has become so earnest and purified, that he looks upon the laboratory-table as an altar, will he be permitted to produce living substance. Until this time has arrived, however, not even the slightest detail concerning the way in which living beings are constituted, will be revealed to him. In other words: The Ego lives, as a cognitive being, in the mineral kingdom, but it will ascend, in the future, to the plant kingdom, and it will learn to know this kingdom, just as today, it knows the mineral kingdom. Still later, it will learn to grasp also the laws of the animal kingdom; and finally, those of the human kingdom. All human beings will learn to know and to grasp the inner nature of plants, animals, and of man—these are prospects for the future. Whatever we really understand, we can also produce—for instance, a clock. But the human being of our day will never be able to produce anything belonging to the sphere of living Nature, without the help of the Beings that lie behind nature, as long as such a work has not become for him a sacramental rite. Only then will he be able to ascend from the mineral kingdom to the plant kingdom. The human being is already a human being, at the present time; but his knowledge is restricted to the mineral kingdom. The Ego of man lives within a human form, but when this human Ego looks out into the environment, its cognition is limited to the mineral kingdom. The Ego thus possesses only the capacity to vitalize the blood in a mineral fashion—it is unable to do more. Although the Ego lives within the blood, during the day—dwelling within it and vitalizing it—nevertheless it does this merely in a mineral way.
How does it do this? If you look out into the world, your cognition will reveal to you the laws of the mineral kingdom. Try to observe for yourself the peculiar quality of this human activity. You look out into the world through your senses; you grasp the mineral laws, and during your waking hours, you impress these laws upon your blood—you force them into the entire substance of your blood, thus vitalizing it in a mineral way. This is the peculiar process which takes place during the act of cognition. Now imagine the human being in accordance with the following schematic drawing as shown below. The regularities of the mineral world stream into him from all sides. However, they do not remain only in his sense-organs; but stream, while the human being is awake, together with the blood through the whole human body.
Now, what does the plant-world do? You will understand what takes place in the case of a plant, if you bear in mind the following: You have always been told that the Ego works upon the man's other bodies and transforms the astral body into the Spirit-Self. To the same degree that this takes place, do the laws of the plant kingdom stream into the human nervous system. When the human being has reached the next stage of clairvoyance, the laws of the animal kingdom will permeate his glandular system, and when he works upon the transformation of his physical body, the laws of the human kingdom itself will flow into the human body. All this should be thought of as applying to the waking state and to the various stages of a higher clairvoyant consciousness. Thus we can say that the human being has reached, at the present time, a stage where the Ego permits the laws of the mineral kingdom to stream into the blood. But it is able to do this only during the waking state because the mineral laws can enter the blood only while man is awake. While he is asleep however, the blood must also be cared for. And because this blood has been worked upon, throughout four successive stages (of evolution), three other powers must now step in with their activity. The first of these is a power which is the most closely related to the way in which the Ego works upon the blood—but it is a power which has not descended as far as the physical plane. The blood would be given over to death, did not another Ego work upon it, while the human being is asleep. Another Ego which has remained on the astral plane, and now intervenes by taking over the work upon the blood. If we observe the human blood, this “special juice”, we find that while the human being is awake, the Ego of man is active within it, here on the physical plane. During the night however, the blood is worked upon by an Ego which dwells upon the astral plane. For there are such Egos.
Now I have earlier referred to Egos living on the astral plane—namely, to the group-souls of the animals. But in this case we are dealing with another species of Egos, dwelling upon the astral plane, which work upon the human being and vitalize his blood, when the Ego of man has abandoned it. By what means do they accomplish this? And what is it that they bring into the blood? They bring into it that which, ever since the time of Saturn, must always be present in the human body—namely fire, warmth. These are spirits which have never descended as far as the physical plane—spiritual Beings that live on the astral plane and have a body of fire. In the mineral kingdom, everything appears to us endowed with a certain degree of warmth. Warmth is met as a quality of solid, liquid, and gaseous bodies. Now try for a moment to think of warmth as something completely separate, which does not exist as such on the physical plane. But on the astral plane, you would find such a warmth, such a fire, flowing there and thither—such a fire which moves back and forth as a self-contained being—and within it, you would find embodied Beings such as we ourselves were on ancient Saturn. These Beings enter into the blood during the night, and vitalize it with their warmth. But something else must also take place—for the astral body also abandoned the blood, and this body too, is indispensable to it. Thus it is not sufficient if these Ego-beings alone approach man during the night and work upon him with their warmth-bodies—but other beings as well are needed, who can process the blood in the same way as the astral body does. These Beings have their Ego upon the Devachan plane, and this Ego possesses a still higher body, which is not even condensed as far as warmth. The Ego which I described first, did never descend even as far as the physical world, it remained on the astral plane. The second Ego descended even less, it has never entered the astral plane— it has remained in Devachan. It permeates the blood and brings about in it the same that the human astral body does during the day.
Thus you may see how we are cared for and protected during the night by higher Beings which do not live in the mineral kingdom. The human Ego has descended as far as the mineral kingdom, and will later ascend to the plant kingdom, etc. These other Egos have remained behind the human kingdom during the successive stages of evolution; they form the hidden kingdoms, the Elemental Kingdoms, which lie behind our physical world, and which work down into it. The first Being which works in our blood during the night, has a warmth body—just as we have a physical body; it permeates the blood with warmth—and at the same time, lives upon the astral plane in its warmth body. Through this warmth-body, it belongs to the third Elemental Kingdom. These Beings, belonging to the third Elemental Kingdom, are the companions of the group-egos of the animals—they belong to the same region. And what are the capacities of these Egos? They need not have the same capacities as a human Ego, which has descended as far as the physical sense-world; but they are able nevertheless, to act as a substitute for the human Ego, from the astral plane. These Egos work down from the astral plane, in the same way that the animal group-Egos work down upon the animals. That is why we perceive them to be similar to animal group egos. This means they enliven man's astral body with impulses, desires, and passions. If we have before us an astral body—what lives within this astral body? In addition to the Ego, Beings live within it whose Ego dwells upon the astral plane. These Beings permeate the astral body just as maggots live in cheese. This is the third Elemental Kingdom: it is the kingdom which forms impulses and passions of an animal nature.
But behind this kingdom lies another, namely the second Elemental Kingdom. This kingdom is active within a purer element, where it moulds and forms the shapes of the plants. But its activity extends also to the human being—to his many elements which have a plant-like character—nails, hair, etc. These are not permeated by the astral body, but merely by the etheric body; for this reason they feel no pain. The hair and nails are products from which the astral body has already withdrawn—it is possible to cut them, without causing pain. At an earlier time however, the astral body was also within these. Many things in the human being are of a plant-like nature, and within all these plants-like elements, the Beings of the second Elemental Kingdom are active. Hence, that which builds up the body of a plant consists of the forces belonging to the second Elemental Kingdom. Within the plant, the Plant-Ego, which permeates the etheric and astral bodies, and those Beings of the second Elemental Kingdom work together. The plant-Ego on the Devachan plane is a companion of the beings of the second Elemental realm. Whereas the Ego of the plants works upon the plant from within, these other Beings work upon it from without—forming it, making it grow and blossom. The whole plant is permeated by its etheric body. But it does not possess an astral body of its own; instead the entire astral body of the Earth planet forms the common astral body of the plants. The Ego of the plants is to be found at the centre of the Earth. All plant group-egos are centralised in the centre of the Earth. For this reason, if you pull up a plant by the roots you cause pain to the Earth; but, if you pick a flower, the Earth will have a feeling of well-being, as a cow has a feeling of well-being when her calf sucks her milk. It is also a wonderful experience when the seeds and grain is mowed in autumn, to see how great waves of well-being stream over the Earth! The Beings which work upon the plants, from out of the second Elemental Kingdom, and help them to take shape, fly toward the plant from all sides, like butterflies. The renewal and repetition of the leaves, blossoms, etc., is their work. This is what acts upon the plants from out of the second Elemental Kingdom.
In like manner, there is a first Elemental Kingdom, which gives the minerals their form. The animals received their form determined by instincts and desires from the Beings of the third Elemental Kingdom. The leaves, etc., of the plants are formed by the second Elemental Kingdom; this work consists chiefly of repetitions. But the formative forces of the minerals, which work out of the formless element, are to be found in the higher Devachan. These three Elemental Kingdoms permeate one another, flow into one another. One who imagines everything distinct and separate, will never attain to a living understanding. In the plant kingdom, the plant and mineral kingdoms permeate one another. In the animal kingdom, the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms interpenetrate. And in a human being, the Ego is added to these. For, with the emergence of the Ego, the human kingdom first arose on the Earth. It is the Ego which first makes man a human being; it finds its expression in the blood. But the Ego can for the present, penetrate with its cognitive forces only into the mineral kingdom; it must leave the other kingdoms to the Beings of the Elemental Kingdoms. The mineral kingdom contains, besides this mineral kingdom itself, also the first Elemental Kingdom; for this reason, it takes on a clearly defined shape. The plant owes its form entirely to the second Elemental Kingdom—for, without it, it would be spherical. And the animal is endowed with instincts, etc., owing to the added activity of the third Elemental Kingdom. Our world consists of interpenetrating regions; only if we are able to make our concepts mobile and fluent, shall we gradually be able to understand such things.
If we wish to form a concept of how the third Elemental Kingdom is connected with the animal kingdom, the following example may be helpful. You all know the migrations of the birds. The birds take quite definite routes in their migrations; from Northeast to Southwest and from Southwest to Northeast. But who directs these migrations? It is the group-souls of the birds. In these flights the urge for regular migrations over the Earth comes to expression. They are directed by the Souls of the Species, or Group-Souls, of the animal kingdom.
On the other hand, the animals are given their form, which enables them to have certain instincts and so that it has a bearer for these instincts, by the Beings of the third Elemental Kingdom—the companions of the animal group-souls. If we wish to express this in a somewhat trivial manner, we may say: Those Egos which constitute the animal group-souls form one community on the astral plane; and the Beings of the third Elemental Kingdom form another. Nevertheless, they must work together in fair harmony—the one supplies the instincts, the other the bodies, forming and moulding them, so that the instincts can realise themselves.
The physical forms of the plants originate from the Beings of the second Elemental Kingdom. And in everything which moulds and works upon the minerals, the Beings of the first Elemental Kingdom are to be found. The forces of the minerals, active as attraction and repulsion, the atomistic forces, proceed from the group-egos of the minerals. It is the Beings of the first Elemental Kingdom who form the minerals.
Thus we obtain a perspective which reveals to us where we may seek for the effects of the various kingdoms in our world. We must however, observe these things very accurately. We may say to a plant: You are a living being; this you owe to the plant-ego. Your form, your shape however, is given to you by the Beings of the second Elemental Kingdom.
Thus the distinct kingdoms are connected. There are seven of these. The first Elemental Kingdom provides the formative forces for the minerals—for instance for the crystals. The second Elemental Kingdom provides the formative forces that shape the plants. The third Elemental Kingdom cares for the blood during the night and at the same time forms the animals’ instinctive life. The mineral kingdom is the one in which an Ego in the mineral kingdom can be formative. The plant kingdom is such, that an Ego can form a plant world within it. The animal Kingdom is such that an Ego can form an animal world within it. The kingdom of man is the kingdom into which an Ego can shape a human world.
From all this we can see that patience is necessary for the penetration of Spiritual Science. The world is constructed in a complicated way, and the highest truths are not the simplest. It is an utterly senseless way of speaking to declare that the highest things can be grasped with the simplest concepts. This is due only to convenience. It is admitted of course, that it is not possible to understand a clock at once, but the world, people want to understand immediately. If we wish to grasp the Divine, infinite patience is needed, for the Divine contains everything. In order to understand the world, people wish to apply the simplest concepts. This is simply convenience, no matter how reverently the soul may say it. The Divine element is profound, and an eternity is needed in order to grasp it. Man carries indeed, the spark of the Godhead within him, but the nature of the Godhead can be understood only by collecting a knowledge of the facts of the world.
The great patience and renunciation which knowledge entails, is what we must learn first of all. We ourselves must gradually mature in order to form judgments. The world itself is infinite at every point. And we must be modest enough to say that everything is, in a certain sense, only a half-truth. We must transform everything into moral impulses, even the organisation of man's being into ten or twelve members. Spiritual Science gives us pictures which we should unite with our feelings. For Spiritual Science is of value only when we draw not only knowledge from it, but are filled with the noblest feelings for the profundity of the world that surrounds us. All the greater then, will be the longing for the Divine. The very fact that the Divine appears to man to be suspended in distant heights, should inspire him so much the more to become strong so that he can reach the Divine again.
|GA 98. The Elementary Kingdoms — The Elementary Kingdoms|
|The first is what we call Earth — that is, everything which today may be called a solid body iron, copper, tin, etc. Everything solid is Earth. Secondly, everything liquid is Water for instance, quicksilver. Even iron, in a liquefied state would be Water. From the third-place, if you convert water into steam it becomes Air.|
|GA 98. The Elementary Kingdoms — The Elementary Kingdoms|
What has been the generally designated as the Elementary Kingdoms, since the earliest times, is not so easy to understand as we are apt to imagine after a superficial examination. For these Elementary Kingdoms belong to what lies behind the world which we generally perceive — behind the world which forces itself immediately upon our senses.
We can understand such things in the best way, if we proceed from what we can perceive through our senses — from the kingdom of the sense-world, which are accessible to human observation. Here, in the physical sense-world, four kingdoms are spread out before our senses: the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, and the kingdom of man. This is common knowledge. Let us now try to form some clear idea as to the precise nature of these four kingdoms; for this is by no means clear to the average person. And for this same reason, it is also not so easy to gain an insight into the first, second and third elementary kingdoms. It is precisely when we speak of such difficult matters, that we must take great care, from the very outset, to realize that no true goal can be reached, if we believe that a concept which we have, as it were, driven like a stake into the ground, can then be left rooted in this place. This may still be possible within the physical sense-world, for here, things stand one beside another; there is a division between them, just as this book, this piece of chalk, a rose, etc., are distinct and separate from one another. It is possible, in this case, to apply a thought to a single object, for when we have named something, we can be sure that we have before us something distinct and limited. If, however, we send to the astral plane, that world which is immediately beyond our own, and permeates it, as the one nearest to it, we find that this no longer holds true, for, in the astral world, there is eternal movement. If you observe the astral body of man, which floats around him as his aura and is the expression of his passions, etc., you will see that this astral body of man is in a continual movement — it is an ebb and flow, a rise and fall of colors and forms, which change at every moment, for new colors shine forth and others disappear, at every moment. This is what we find in the case of man. But there are other Beings which whirl about on the astral plane. Their astral bodies do not form part of the physical body, although — at the same time — they are nonetheless changeable, for at every moment they have a different shape, color, or luminous force. Everything on the astral plane is the continual manifestation of the inner nature of these Beings. We would, indeed, find ourselves in a difficult position if we were to apply to the astral plane the rigid, unchangeable thoughts of the physical world. We must learn instead to adapt ourselves to the mobility of these shapes — we must acquire mobile thoughts. We should be able to use a concept, once in this way, and once in that.
This is true of the higher worlds to a still greater degree. If we consider the world from a higher standpoint, we find that everything on the physical plane is an expression of forces emanating from these higher worlds. In everything we see about us, such forces and beings lie concealed. It is precisely this fact which explains the great variety among the beings of the physical world. Observe, for instance, the mineral kingdom. All apparently lifeless beings, all minerals, belong to this kingdom. You are told, to begin with, that these minerals upon the earth have no etheric body of their own, no astral body and no Ego. But this is true only within the physical world. We must know this, in order to reach a clear conception of what actually takes place upon the physical plane. But let us now suppose that someone were to say: “The mineral is something which has nothing but a physical body.” This statement is exactly as false, as on the other hand — it would be true, were someone to say: “The mineral kingdom is something which has, upon the physical plane, only a physical body.” For, in the light of a genuine spiritual method of observation, we find that here, upon the physical plane, the mineral has a physical body, but nothing more. If we wish to find its etheric body, we must ascend to the astral plane: there, its etheric body is to be found. The moment that a human being becomes astrally clairvoyant, he is able to see the etheric body of the mineral — there, on the astral plane — and here, on the physical plane, he sees merely its physical body. If we extend our observations still further, we find that the mineral has also an astral body. This body cannot be found, however, upon the astral plane, but must be sought in the lower regions of Devachan. Only in the higher Mental plane, is the Arupa-Mental plane, do we find the Ego of the mineral — and it is from here, that the mineral is directed by its Ego. If you wish to form a rough picture of this, you must say to yourselves: I will try to imagine a human being, whose clairvoyance reaches as far as the higher Devachan. To such a clairvoyance, who is able to see into Arupa, the minerals will appear like the fingernails of the human being — nails of Beings whose Ego dwells in higher Devachan. It is not possible to think of the fingernails without the human being; the same thing must be applied also to the minerals.
Let us suppose that we are observing a rock-crystal here upon the earth. If we now look away for a moment, our clairvoyant gaze discovers the etheric body, which gives life to the physical body, there, in the astral world. Yet it would not be possible to perceive there, that any injury caused to the mineral, also causes it pain. The joy and gladness, pain and suffering of minerals can only be found upon the Devachanic plane — but entirely differently from the way in which we usually imagine this. A mineral's sensation of pain is not like that of an animal; we must not think that a mineral feels pain when we hammer it and break it into pieces. When workmen in a quarry break stone, this actually gives rise to a feeling of pleasure upon the Devachanic plane — it is a true delight for the minerals. Thus, in their case, we find the very opposite of what takes place in the kingdom of man and in the animal kingdom. On the Devachanic plane, it is not merely one mineral which belongs, as it were, to a mineral personality, but rather a whole system of minerals — just as, imaginatively speaking your fingernails do not each possessed a separate soul. If someone were to imagine that everything of an astral nature must be found upon the astral plane, he would be under a delusion. It seems, of course, natural to look for the astral element upon the astral plane — nevertheless, the inner nature of a Being must be distinguished from the environment in which it lives. Just as your Ego has no physical nature, and lives nevertheless upon the physical plane, so the astral body of the mineral does not live on the astral plane but in lower Devachan. We must not have delayed our thoughts according to a system, but must rather work our way through, with the aid of a more precise analysis and understanding of things.
Let us now observe the plant, just as we see it before us. Here, on the physical plane, it has its physical body and its etheric body. It has these two bodies on the physical plane — but where are we to look for the astral body of the plant? We shall find it in the astral world — and the Ego, in the lower Devachan. Let us now go a step further, to the animal. The animal has, in the physical sense-world, a physical body, an etheric body, and an astral body — but it's Ego is on the astral plane. That is to say: just as, here on the earth, defined in the human being as an isolated person, as a single individuality, so you will find the Egos of the animals, as complete, self-contained personalities, upon the astral plane. But we must think of this in the following way: All groups of animals which have a similar form, have also a common Ego. Man, therefore, distinguishes himself from the animals, owing to the fact that every human being has an individual Ego. On the astral plane, we find for instance, that the Ego of the lions, the Ego of the Tigers, etc. There, they are single, self-contained Beings; the single animal group-souls inhabit the physical sense-world. But in the case of the human being, he must recognize the fact that the physical body, etheric body, astral body and the Ego have all descended as far as the physical plane. This is true, however, only when the human being is awake — when he is asleep it is otherwise. The physical and etheric bodies are then in the physical world, whereas the astral body and the Ego are on the astral plane. Thus, during sleep, the fourfold human being is separated into parts, and is to be found partly on the physical plane and partly on the one directly above this — the astral plane. On the physical plane, the human being is then of the same worth as a plant.
Now we have already learned to know, in previous lectures, the nearest ways in which the expressions “astral”, etc. must be used. But we shall attain to a real penetration and insight into these things, only if we realize clearly that we cannot push them about like the men on a chessboard. If we study the human being, we must observe him quite precisely, in the following way: We find in him the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, and the Ego. It has often been emphasized here, how very important it is to form a clear conception concerning the relation of these four members. It is very easy to imagine that the physical body is the most imperfect and the lowest of these. From a certain aspects, however, it is the most perfect of all — for it has passed through four successive stages of evolution — upon ancient Saturn, Sun, Moon, and upon the Earth. The etheric body has reached its third stage of perfection, for only upon the Sun was added to the physical body. In the future, it will indeed rise to a higher stage — although at present, it is not yet as perfect as the physical body. The astral body was added to the other two bodies upon the Moon, hence it has reached only the second stage of perfection. The Ego is the baby among the four members of man: for it was added only upon the Earth, and is thus only at the beginning of its evolution; it works continually in a corruptive way upon the other bodies. Anyone who studies, from an anatomical point of view, the wonderful organization of the physical body, must be filled with wonder by the perfection of the heart and of the brain. How imperfect, on the other hand are the impulses and passions of the Ego! The Ego craves for wine, beer, etc., whichever destructive influence throughout life — nevertheless, the physical body with stands these attacks for decades! Let us now try to make clear to ourselves how the Ego was inserted, as it were, within the physical body — how it first arose.
To begin with, there was the ancient Saturn-evolution. This was the first stage of evolution for the precursor of our present physical body. At that time man's physical body had the cosmic value of a mineral. If you look at a mineral today, you will see in it a retarded stage of existence; it has remained behind at the same stage which the physical body had reached upon Saturn. But you must not think from this that the physical body had then the appearance of a mineral of today. — this would be quite wrong. The present minerals are the youngest forms in evolution. Upon Saturn, the human body was not so dense; this density of the physical body of man was very slight indeed.
Let us now consider the relation between the various stages of matter. The first is what we call Earth — that is, everything which today may be called a solid body iron, copper, tin, etc. Everything solid is Earth. Secondly, everything liquid is Water for instance, quicksilver. Even iron, in a liquefied state would be Water. From the third-place, if you convert water into steam it becomes Air. Occultism, here goes still further, for it shows that the air may become still more rarefied — may become thinner still. In this case, we must transcend what is physical, in the modern sense — and here the cultist speaks of Warmth-Ether, or Fire. For the occultist, Fire is something distinct within itself, just like Earth, Water, and Air — whereas modern science merely looks upon the fire, or heat, as a state, work condition of matter.
Upon Saturn, heat was the substance of man's physical body. On the Sun, the physical body of man was condensed to air; at the same time, an etheric, or life-body, entered into it, transforming this physical body. We now have a physical body, with an etheric body consisting of one member, and the physical body of two members. In the case of the physical body upon this Sun, we must distinguish a more perfect than the less perfect part — that is to say, one part was not as yet permeated by the etheric body. When picturing to ourselves to physical body upon the Sun, they must realize that the inner part of this physical body has received nothing from the etheric body; it has still the same value as the physical body had upon Saturn. Thus, we have one part which has already attained to the stage of a plant, and this part is at the same time permeated by another part, which is still upon the stage of a mineral: nevertheless, these two parts completely permeate one another.
Let us now consider the physical body upon the Moon. Here, it is already condensed to water, and the astral body is incorporated within the etheric and physical bodies. Thus, we must now distinguish three different parts: One part is permeated by the etheric and astral bodies; another part is permeated only by the etheric body; and a third part has remained at the mineral stage.
And now, let us consider the physical body upon the Earth. Here, the Ego is added. On the Earth, four members are interwoven. One part of the physical body is permeated by the etheric body, astral body and the Ego; a second part, by the etheric body and astral body; a third part, by the etheric body only; and a fourth part remains at the mineral stage. It has the same value as has a mineral, and is still on the stage of the Saturn. These four parts can be clearly distinguished in the physical body. The first part, which contains all four members, consists of the red blood corpuscles. Wherever we find red blood, these four members permit one another.
The nerves on the second part, or member. Where nerves are found, there the physical, etheric and astral bodies permeate one another. Where galnds are to be found, the physical and etheric bodies interpenetrate. All the instruments of the senses, all organs which have the character of a physical apparatus, have reached merely the stage of the mineral. They follow exactly the same laws as do the minerals. The eye and the ear, for instance, belong to these mineral parts; also in the brain, we find such mineral parts. Thus you can see for yourselves how easily one may be tempted at times to become a materialist — because of something mineral does actually permeate the whole body. If a materialist declares that the brain is mineral, he is in part right — that is, if he considers merely one aspect of the brain. Particularly in certain parts of the frontal brain — although these are, indeed, permeated by others — mineral forces alone are active. And were we to study the bones and muscles, it would become still more competition. When the human Ego entered into man, it began to work upon the sentient soul, the understanding soul, and the consciousness soul; and at the same time, it formed the bones and muscles. If we wish to observe these things exactly, we need years of study, only to be able to keep them distinct and separate. We must trace one thing after the other, with patience.
If we now have before us a sleeping human being, his physical body and etheric body lie upon the bed. But this physical body is very complicated. When the human being is awake, the astral body and the Ego work within his blood. But what happens when the physical body lies on the bed, in the human being is asleep? The functions of the etheric body are indeed still carried on — yet there can be no blood, unless an astral body and an Ego are active within it. Hence, every night, the blood would be doomed to death, since it is dependent upon the ego and the astral body. But these as we know, leave the body — leave it mercilessly. Also the whole nervous system is mercilessly abandoned, for the nervous system is dependent upon the astral body. Thus, we have before us the strange fact that in reality, the blood and the nervous system would have to die every night — they would fall a prey to death, if they would be obliged to depend entirely upon the human being. Other Beings must come to their aid; other Beings must take over the work of man. From other worlds, other Beings must pour their activity into man, in order to preserve what he so treacherously abandons. We shall not try to explain the nature of these Beings who become active when man is asleep, and to make it possible for him to preserve his blood intact.
We can form an idea of these Beings, if we ask ourselves: where does the human Ego really live, when it lives here, upon the physical plane? In which one of the three kingdoms does it live? And we must ask ourselves further: how much can we really know, without clairvoyant perception? — Without clairvoyance, we can, in reality, gain knowledge only of the mineral kingdom. This is the peculiar characteristic of the human being — that he cannot even grasp the plant completely, as long as he is not astrally clairvoyant. Materialists declare that plants are merely a conglomerate of mineral processes — just because they can see only the plant's mineral nature. When the human beings will have progressed, in their work upon themselves, as far as the first stage of clairvoyance, the life of the plants and the laws of life will then appear to them just as clearly as do now the laws of the mineral world.
If you wish to construct a machine, or to build a house, you must do this in accordance with the laws of the mineral world. Initiates constructive according to these laws of the mineral world; but you cannot construct a plant in this way. If you wish to have a plant, you must leave this work to those Beings which form the foundations of Nature. In the future, it will be possible to produce plants in the laboratory, but only when human beings will regard this as a sacrament, as a holy rite. Only when man has become so earnest and purified, that he looks upon the laboratory-table as an altar, will he be permitted to produce living substance. Until this time has arrived, however, not even the slightest detail concerning the way in which living beings are constituted, will be revealed to him. In other words: The Ego lives, as a cognitive being, in the mineral kingdom, but it will ascend, in the future, to the vegetable kingdom, and it will learn to know this kingdom, just as today, it knows the mineral kingdom. Still later, it will learn to grasp also the laws of the animal kingdom; and finally, those of the human kingdom. All human beings will learn to know and to grasp the inner nature of plants, animals, and of man — these are prospects for the future. Whatever we really understand, we can also produce — for instance, a clock. But the human being of our day will never be able to produce anything belonging to the sphere of living Nature, without the help of the Beings that lie behind nature, as long as such a work has not become for him a sacramental rite. Only then will he be able to ascend from the mineral kingdom to the vegetable kingdom. The human being is already a human being, at the present time; but his knowledge is restricted to the mineral kingdom. The Ego of man lives within a human form, but when this human Ego looks out into the world, its knowledge is limited to the mineral kingdom. The Ego thus possesses only the capacity to vitalize the blood in a mineral fashion — it is unable to do more. Although the Ego lives within the blood, during the day — dwelling within it and vitalizing it — nevertheless it does this merely in a mineral way.
How does it do this? If you look out into the world, your cognitive forces will reveal to you the laws of the mineral kingdom. Try to observe for yourself the peculiar quality of this human activity. You look out into the world through your senses; you grasp the mineral laws, and during your waking hours, you impress these laws upon your blood — you force them into the entire substance of your blood, thus vitalizing it in a mineral way. This is the peculiar process each takes place during the act of cognition. Now imagine to yourselves the human being, in accordance with the following diagram (it cannot be produced here) ... the laws of the mineral world streaming into him from all sides. They do not, however, remain merely within his sense-organs; but while the human being is awake, they stream together with the blood, throughout the whole human body.
Now, what does the plant-world do? You will understand what takes place in the case of a plant, if you bear in mind the following fact: You have often been told that the Ego works upon the man's other bodies and transforms the astral body into the Spirit-Self. In the same degree that this takes place, do the laws of the vegetable kingdom stream into the human nervous system. When the human being has reached the next stage of clairvoyance, the laws of the animal kingdom will permeate his glandular system, and finally, when he is able to work upon the transformation of his physical body, the laws of the human kingdom itself will flow into the human body. All this should be thought of as applying to the waking state and to the various stages of a higher clairvoyant consciousness. Thus we can say that the human being has reached, at the present time, a stage where the Ego permits the laws of the mineral kingdom to stream into the blood. But it is able to do this only during the waking state — for, the mineral laws can enter the blood only while man is awake. While he is asleep however, the blood must also be cared for. And because this blood has been worked upon, throughout four successive stages of evolution, three other powers must now step in with their activity. The first of these is a power which is the most closely related to the way in which the Ego has worked upon the blood — but it is a power which has not descended as far as the physical plane. The blood would be given over to death, did not another Ego work upon it, while the human being is asleep ... another Ego which has remained upon the astral plane, and now intervenes by taking over the work upon the blood. If we observe the human blood, this “peculiar fluid”, we find that while the human being is awake, the Ego of man is active within it, here on the physical plane. During the night however, the blood is worked upon by an Ego which dwells upon the astral plane. For there are such Egos.
Now I have referred, only recently, to Egos living upon the astral plane — namely, to the group-souls of the animals. But in this case we are dealing with another species of Egos, dwelling upon the astral plane, which work upon the human being and vitalize his blood, when the Ego of man has abandoned it. By what means do they accomplish this? And what is it that they bring into the blood? They bring into it that which, ever since the time of Saturn, must always be present in the human body — namely fire, heat. These are spirits which have never descended as far as the physical plane — spiritual Beings that live on the astral plane and have a body of fire. In the mineral kingdom, everything appears to us endowed with a certain degree of heat. Heat is met with as a quality of solid, liquid, and gaseous bodies. But now, try for a moment to think of heat, of warmth, quite independently, quite by itself ... it does not exist as such upon the physical plane. But upon the astral plane, you would meet with such warmth, or heat, streaming there and thither — heat as an independent being — and within it, you would discover Beings embodied, such as we were ourselves upon ancient Saturn. These Beings enter into the blood during the night, and vitalize it with their warmth. But something else must also take place — for the astral body also abandoned the blood, and this body too, is indispensable to it. Thus it is not sufficient if these Ego-beings alone approach man during the night and work upon him with their warmth-bodies — but other beings as well are needed, which work upon the blood in the same way as does the astral body. These Beings have their Ego upon the Devachanic plane, and this Ego possesses a still higher body, which is not even condensed as far as heat. The Ego which I described first, did not descend even as far as the astral plane — for it has remained in Devachan. It permeates the blood and carries on within it, an activity which corresponds to that of the astral body during the day.
Thus you may see how we are cared for and protected during the night by higher Beings which do not live in the mineral kingdom. The human Ego has descended as far as the mineral kingdom, and will later ascend to the vegetable kingdom, etc. These other Egos have remained behind the human kingdom during the successive stages of evolution; they form the hidden kingdoms, the Elementary Kingdoms, which lie behind our physical world, and which work down into it. The first Being which works in our blood during the night, as a body of heat — just as we have a physical body; it permeates the blood which heat — and at the same time, lives upon the astral plane with its body at heat. Through this warmth-body, it belongs to the third Elementary Kingdom. These Beings, belonging to the third Elementary Kingdom, are the companions of the Group-Egos of the animals — they belong to the same region. And what are the capacities of these Egos? They need not have the same capacities as a human Ego, which has descended as far as the physical sense-world; but they are able nevertheless, to act as a substitute for the human Ego, from the astral plane. These Egos work down from the astral plane, in the same way that the animal Group-Egos work down upon the animals; Souls of the animals. In other words, they fill man's astral body with impulses, desires, and passions. If we have before us an astral body — what lives within this astral body? In addition to the Ego, Beings live within it whose Ego dwells upon the astral plane. These Beings permeates the astral body just as maggots live in cheese. This is the third Elementary Kingdom: it is the kingdom which forms impulses and passions of an animal nature.
But behind this kingdom lies another, namely the second Elementary Kingdom. This kingdom is active within a purer element, for it moulds and forms the shapes of the plants. But it's activity extends also to the human being — to his many elements which have a plant-like character — nails, hair, etc. These are not permeated by the astral body, but merely by the etheric body; for this reason they feel no pain. The hair and nails are products from which the astral body has already withdrawn — it is possible to cut them, without causing pain. At an earlier time however, the astral body was also within these. Many things in the human being are of a plant-like nature, and within all these plants-like elements, the Beings of the second Elementary Kingdom are active. Hence, that which builds up the body of a plant consists of the forces belonging to the second Elementary Kingdom. Within the plant are active both the Plant-Ego,, which permeates the etheric and astral bodies and these Beings of the second Elementary Kingdom. Whereas the Ego of the plants works upon the plant from within, these other Beings work upon it from without — forming it, making it grow and blossom. The whole plant is permeated by an etheric body. But it does not possess an astral body of its own; instead the entire astral body of the Earth forms the common astral body of the plants. The Ego of the plants is to be found at the center of the earth. This is true for all plants. For this reason, if you pull up a plant by the roots you cause pain to the earth; but, if you pick a flower, the earth will have a feeling of well-being, as a cow has a feeling of well-being when her calf sucks her milk. It is also a wonderful experience when the corn is moved in the autumn, to see how great waves of well-being streamed over the earth! The Beings which work upon the plants, from out of the second Elementary Kingdom, and help it to take form, fly toward the plant from all sides, like butterflies. The renewal and repetition of the leaves, blossoms, etc., is their work. This is what acts upon the plants from out of the second Elementary Kingdom.
In like manner, there is a first Elementary Kingdom, which gives the minerals their form. The animals received their shape, or form — a form determined by instincts and desires — from the Beings belonging to the third Elementary Kingdom. The leaves, etc., of the plants are formed by the second Elementary Kingdom; this work consists chiefly of repetitions. But performing, shaping forces of the minerals, which workout of the formless element, are to be found in higher Devachan, in Arupa-Devachan. These three Elementary Kingdoms permeate one another, flow into one another. One who imagines everything distinct and separate, will never attain to a living understanding. In the vegetable kingdom, the vegetable and mineral kingdoms permeate one another. In the animal kingdom, the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms interpenetrate. And in a human being, the Ego is added to these. For, with the incomes of the Ego, the human kingdom first arose upon the earth. It is the blood which first makes man a human being; all the kingdoms are contained within it. But the Ego can for the present, penetrate with its cognitive forces only into the mineral kingdom; it must leave the other kingdoms to the Beings of the Elementary Kingdoms. The mineral kingdom contains, besides this mineral kingdom itself, also the first Elementary Kingdom; for this reason, it takes on a clearly defined shape. The plant owes its form entirely to the second Elementary Kingdom — for, without it, it would be spherical. And the animal is endowed with instincts, etc., owing to the added activity of the third Elementary Kingdom. Our world consists of interpenetrating regions; only if we are able to make our thoughts mobile and fluent, shall we gradually be able to understand such things.
If we wish to form a concept of how the third Elementary Kingdom is connected with the animal kingdom, the following example may be helpful. You all know the migrations of the birds! The birds take quite definite courses in their migrations; from the northeast to southwest and from southwest to northeast. But who directs these migrations? It is the Group-Soul of the birds! In these migrations instinct comes to expression. Essentially speaking, they are wedding-flights — for the birds take flight in order to breed in better climates. They are directed by the Souls of the Species, or Group-Soul, of the animal kingdom.
On the other hand, the animals are given their form, which enables him to have certain instincts, and which is the bearer of these instincts, by the Beings of the third Elementary Kingdom — the companions of the animal Group-Souls. If we wish to express this in a somewhat trivial manner, we may say: Those Egos which constitute the animal Group-Souls form one company, upon the astral plane; and the Beings of the third Elementary Kingdom form another. Nevertheless, they must work together in harmony. The one supplies the instincts, the other the bodies, forming and moulding them, so that the instincts may live within them.
The physical forms of the plants originate from the Beings of the second Elementary Kingdom. And in everything which molds and works upon the minerals, the Beings of the first Elementary Kingdom are to be found. The forces of the minerals, active as attraction and repulsion, the atomistic forces, proceed from the groups of minerals. But it is the Beings of the first Elementary Kingdom who form the minerals.
Thus we obtain a perspective which reveals to us where we may seek for the activities of the various kingdoms within our world. We must however, observe these things very accurately. We may say to a plant: You are living being; this you owe to the Plant-Ego. Your form, your shape however, is given to you by the Beings of the second Elementary Kingdom.
Thus we may sum up the four kingdoms as follows. The kingdom of man is the kingdom within which and Ego can work formatively into the human world; the vegetable kingdom is the one within which hands Ego can work formatively in the plant world; the mineral kingdom, the one in which an Ego can build for itself forms in the mineral kingdom. The third Elementary Kingdom cares for the blood during the night, and forms at the same time, the instinctive life of the animals; the second Elementary Kingdom forms the plants; and the first Elementary Kingdom forms the minerals — for instance the crystals. From all this we can see that patience is necessary for the penetration into Spiritual Science. The world is constructed in a complicated way, and the highest truths are not the simplest. It is an utterly senseless way of speaking to declare that the highest things can be grasped with the simplest concepts. This is due only to laziness. It is admitted of course, that it is not possible to understand a clock at once, but the world, people believe, can be understood without any further trouble. If we wish to grasp the Divine, infinite patience is needed for the Divine contains everything. In order to understand the world, people wish to apply the simplest concepts, but this is simply laziness ... no matter how reverently the soul may say it. The Divine element is profound, and an eternity is needed in order to grasp it. Man dares, indeed, the spark of the Godhead within him, but the nature and Being of this Godhead can be understood only by collecting a knowledge of the facts of the world.
The great patience and renunciation which knowledge entails, is what we must learn first of all. We ourselves must gradually mature in order to form judgments. The world is infinite at every point. And we must be modest enough to say that everything is, in a certain sense, only a half-truth. We must transform everything into moral impulses, even the classification of man's being into ten or twelve members. Spiritual Science gives us pictures which we should unite with our feelings. For, Spiritual Science is only of value when we draw from it not merely knowledge, but are filled with the noblest feelings for the profundity of the world around us. All the greater then, will be the longing for the Divine. The very fact that the Divine appears to man so far removed, in distinct height, should incite him so much the more to become strong, in order that he may again find his way thither.