Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trinitarian Thoughts : For God so loved the world ...

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  -John 3:16

The Father-The Holy Spirit-Christ the Son
The Truth-The Way-The Life


The Father : The Wellspring of the Deeds of Christ : The Doing of Love

The Holy Spirit : The Consciousness of Christ : The Consciousness of Love

Christ the Son : Love Itself : The Love of the Father : The Being of Love

The child of wisdom is love

"Wisdom is the precondition of love; love is wisdom reborn in the human I."  — Rudolf Steiner

The third manvantara of Earth: The Moon: the planet of wisdom

The fourth manvantara of Earth: The Earth: the planet of love

The mission of the Earth: to cultivate love

Rudolf Steiner:

"The mission of our Earth is the cultivation of the principle of love to its highest degree by those beings who are evolving upon it. When the Earth has reached the end of its evolution, love should permeate it through and through....

Only gradually throughout the whole of the Moon evolution was wisdom stamped upon the outer world. When the Moon had fully completed its evolution, everything was then pervaded by a wisdom which was to be found everywhere. Inner wisdom first appeared upon the Earth with the human being, with the ego. This inner human wisdom had to be developed by degrees.

Just as wisdom was evolved upon the Moon, in order that it might now be found in all things, so in like manner is love evolving. Love came into existence first in its lowest, its most sensuous form, during the Lemurian period, but during the course of life upon the Earth it will become ever more and more spiritualized, until at last, when the Earth has reached the end of its evolution, the whole of existence will have become pervaded with love, as today it is pervaded with wisdom, and this will be accomplished through the activity of human beings if they but fulfill their task.

The Earth will then pass over to a future planetary condition which is called Jupiter. The beings who will wander about upon Jupiter, just as human beings move about upon the Earth, will find love exhaling from all creatures, the love which they themselves, as human beings, will have placed there during their life upon the Earth. They will find love in everything just as we today find wisdom everywhere. Then human beings will develop love out of their own inner selves in the same way that they are now little by little evolving wisdom. The great cosmic love that here upon the Earth is beginning its existence will then permeate all things."


Emily Dickinson's Haunted House

"Nature is a Haunted House—but Art—a House that tries to be haunted."


"Late Fragment" by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Giordano Bruno and Angelus Silesius

Rudolf Steiner, from Mysticism at the Dawn of the Modern Age [aka Eleven Modern Mystics, aka Mystics after Modernism]

In the first decade of the sixteenth century, at Castle Heilsberg in Prussia, the scientific genius of Nicolas Copernicus (1473–1543) was erecting an edifice of ideas which would compel men of succeeding epochs to look up to the starry heavens with conceptions different from those which their ancestors had in antiquity and in the Middle Ages. To the latter, the Earth was a dwelling-place resting at the center of the universe. The stars, on the other hand, were for them entities of a perfect nature, the movement of which proceeded in circles because the circle is the image of perfection. — In what the stars showed to the human senses one saw something belonging directly to the soul or the spirit. The objects and events of the Earth spoke one language to man; another language was spoken by the shining stars which, in the pure ether beyond the Moon, seemed to be a spiritual being that filled space. Nicolas of Cusa had already formed different ideas. Through Copernicus the Earth became for man a fellow creation among the other heavenly bodies, a star that moved like others. Everything in the Earth which appeared to man as being different, he could now attribute only to the fact that it is his dwelling-place. He was compelled to start thinking in different ways about the phenomena of this Earth and about those of the remainder of the universe. His sensory world had expanded into furthest space. What reached his eye from the ether he now had to accept as belonging to the sensory world, like the things of the Earth. He could no longer seek the spirit in the ether in a sensory fashion.

All who henceforth strove for higher cognition had to come to terms with this expanded sensory world. In earlier centuries the meditating spirit of man had stood before another world of facts. Now it was given a new task. It was no longer the things of this Earth alone which could express their nature out of the interior of man. This interior had to enfold the spirit of a sensory world which fills the spatial universe everywhere in an identical fashion. — It was such a task that confronted the thinker from Nola, Philotheo Giordano Bruno (1548–1600). The senses have conquered the spatial universe for themselves; now the spirit is no longer to be found in space. Thus man was directed from outside to seek the spirit henceforth only where, on the basis of deep inner experiences, it had been sought by the glorious thinkers who have been discussed in the preceding expositions. These thinkers draw out of themselves a conception of the world to which men later are to be compelled by a more advanced natural science. The sun of ideas which later is to fall upon a new conception of nature, with them is still beneath the horizon, but its light already appears as a dawn in a time when men's thoughts about nature are still enveloped in the darkness of night. — For the purposes of science the sixteenth century gave the heavens to that world of the senses to which they rightfully belong; up to the end of the nineteenth century this science had progressed so far that from among the phenomena of plant, animal, and human life also it could give to the world of sensory facts what belongs to it. Neither up in the ether nor in the development of living organisms can this science henceforth look for anything but factual-sensory processes. As the thinker of the sixteenth century had to say: The Earth is a star among stars, subject to the same laws as other stars, so the thinker of the nineteenth century must say: “Whatever his origin and his future may be, for anthropology man is only a mammal; specifically he is that mammal whose organization, needs, and diseases are the most complicated, and whose brain, with its wonderful capacity, has reached the highest degree of development.” (Paul Topinard,Anthropologie, Leipzig, 1888, p. 528.) — On the basis of this point of view attained by science, a confusion of the spiritual with the sensory can no longer take place, if man understands himself aright. An advanced science makes it impossible to seek in nature a spirit conceived along the lines of the material, just as sound thinking forces us to seek the cause of the advance of the hands of a clock in the laws of mechanics (the spirit of inorganic nature), not in a special demon who causes the movement of the hands. As a scientist, Ernst Haeckel justifiably had to reject the clumsy conception of a God thought of in the same way as something material. “In the higher and more abstract forms of religion this corporeal manifestation is abandoned, and God is worshiped only as ‘pure spirit,’ without body. ‘God is a spirit and he who worships Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ Nevertheless, the spiritual activity of this pure spirit is exactly the same as that of the anthropomorphous, divine personality. In reality this immaterial spirit too is not thought of as incorporeal, but as invisible, gaseous. We thus come to the paradoxical conception of God as a gaseous vertebrate.” (Haeckel, Welträtsel [The Riddle of the Universe], p. 333.) In reality, a sensory-factual existence of something spiritual can only be assumed where an immediate sensory experience shows the spiritual; and only that degree of the spiritual can be assumed which is perceived in this manner. The excellent thinker B. Carneri could say (in the work Empfindung und Bewusstsein [Sensation and Consciousness], p. 15): “The sentence 'No spirit without matter, but also no matter without spirit' would justify us in extending the problem also to plants, or even to the first rock we come across, where hardly anything could be said in favor of this correlation.” Spiritual processes, as facts, are the results of different functions of an organism; the spirit of the world does not exist in the world in a material manner, but only in a spiritual manner. The soul of man is a sum of processes in which the spirit appears most immediately as a fact. But it is only in man that the spirit exists in the form of such a soul. And to seek the spirit in the form of a soul elsewhere than in man, to think of other beings as endowed with a soul like man, is to misunderstand the spirit; it is to commit the most grievous sin against the spirit. One who does this, only shows that he has not experienced the spirit itself within him; he has only experienced the external manifestation of the spirit that holds sway in him: that is, the soul. But this is just as if somebody were to mistake a circle drawn in pencil for the true mathematical-ideal circle. One who does not experience within himself anything but the soul-form of the spirit feels impelled to assume such a soul-form also in non-human things, in order not to have to stop at gross sensory materiality. Instead of thinking of the primordial foundation of the world as spirit, he thinks of it as a world soul, and assumes a general animation of nature.

Giordano Bruno, under the impact of the new Copernican conception of nature, could grasp the spirit in the world, from which it had been expelled in its old form, only as a world soul. When one immerses oneself in Bruno's writings (especially in his profound book Of the Cause, the Principle, and the One) one has the impression that he thought of things as being animated, although in different degrees. He has not in reality experienced the spirit within himself; therefore he imagines it in terms of the human soul, in which form alone it has confronted him. When he speaks of the spirit he understands it in this way. “The universal reason is the innermost, most real, and most characteristic faculty, and is a potential part of the world soul; it is something everywhere identical, which fills the All, illuminates the universe, and instructs nature in bringing forth its species as they should be.” It is true that in these sentences the spirit is not described as a “gaseous vertebrate,” but as a being like the human soul. “A thing, however small and minute, has within itself a portion of spiritual substance which, if it finds the substratum to be suitable, strives to become a plant or an animal, and organizes itself into a body of some kind, which is generally called animated. For spirit is to be found in all things, and there is not the most minute body which does not contain such a portion of it that it animates itself.” — Because Giordano Bruno had not really experienced the spirit as spirit within himself, he could confuse the life of the spirit with the external mechanical functions by means of which Raimon Lull (1235–1315), in his so-called Great Art, had attempted to unveil the mysteries of the spirit. A modern philosopher, Franz Brentano, describes this Great Art as follows: “On concentric, individually turnable circular disks various concepts were inscribed, and then the most diverse combinations were produced by this means.” What coincidence superimposed upon a particular turn, was formed into a judgment about the highest truths. And in his many wanderings about Europe, Giordano Bruno appeared at various universities as a teacher of this Great Art. He had the boldness to think of the stars as worlds that are completely analogous to our Earth; he enlarged the vision of scientific thinking beyond the Earth; he no longer thought of the heavenly bodies as corporeal spirits, but he still thought of them as spirits of the soul. One must not do an injustice to this man whom the Catholic church made to atone for his advanced ideas with death. It was an enormous achievement to enfold the whole heavens in the same conception of the world that up to that time had been applied only to the things of the Earth, even though Bruno still thought of the sensory as of something belonging to the soul. —

As a personality that made what Tauler, Weigel, Jacob Boehme, and others had prepared shine once more in a great spiritual harmony, Johann Scheffler, called Angelus Silesius (1624–1677), appeared in the seventeenth century. The ideas of the above-mentioned thinkers appear in his book Cherubinischer Wandersmann, Geistreiche Sinn-und Schlussreime [Cherubinic Wanderer, Ingenious Aphorisms in Rhymes], as though gathered in a spiritual focus and shining with a heightened luminosity. And everything Angelus Silesius utters appears as such an immediate, spontaneous revelation of his personality that it is as though this man had been destined by a special providence to embody wisdom in a personal form. The spontaneous way in which he lives his wisdom is shown by the fact that he expresses it in sayings which are also admirable for their artistic form. He floats above all earthly existence like a spiritual being, and what he utters is like the breath of another world, cleansed from the very beginning of all those coarse and impure elements from which human wisdom can free itself at other times only with difficulty. — In the sense of Angelus Silesius, only he partakes of true cognition who makes the eye of the All to see within himself; only he sees his acts in their true light who feels them to be performed within himself by the hand of the All: “God is the fire in me, and I the light in Him: do we not intimately belong to each other?” — “I am as rich as God; there is no grain of dust that I (Believe me, O Man) do not have in common with Him.” — “God loves me above Himself; if I love Him above myself I give Him as much as He gives me out of Himself.” — “The bird is in the air, the stone lies on the land; the fish lives in the water, my spirit in God's Hand.” — “If you are born of God, then God blossoms in you; and His divinity is your sap and your ornament.” — “Stop: whither are you running? Heaven is in you; if you seek God elsewhere you will forever miss Him.” — For one who feels himself to exist in the All in this way, every separation between himself and another being ceases; he no longer feels himself to be a separate individual; on the contrary, he feels everything about himself to be a part of the world, while his true essence is identical with this universe itself. “The world does not hold you; you yourself are the world that, in you and with you, keeps you so strongly prisoner.” — “Man does not have perfect bliss till the oneness has swallowed the otherness.” — “Man is all things: if he lacks one, he himself truly does not know his wealth.” — As a sensory being man is a thing among other things, and his sensory organs bring to him, as to a sensory individuality, sensory information about the things in space and time outside of him; but when the spirit speaks in man, then there is no outside and no inside; nothing that is spiritual is here and nothing is there; nothing is earlier, and nothing is later; space and time have disappeared in the contemplation of the universal spirit. It is only as long as man sees as an individual that he is here and the thing is there, and only as long as he sees as an individual is this earlier and this later. “Man, if you let your spirit rise above place and time you can at every instant be in Eternity.” — “I myself am Eternity when I leave time, and gather myself together in God, and God in myself.” — “The rose which your external eye sees here, has bloomed like this in God through Eternity.” — “Sit down in the center, and you shall see everything at once: what happens now and then, here and in Heaven.” — “As long, my friend, as you have place and time in mind, you shall not grasp what God and Eternity are.” — “When man withdraws from multiplicity and communes with God, he reaches unity.” — With this the height has been climbed where man goes beyond his individual self and abolishes every contrast between the world and himself. A higher life begins for him. The inner experience which takes place in him appears to him like the death of the old life and a resurrection in the new. “When you raise yourself above yourself and let God act, then shall the Ascension take place in your spirit.” — “The body must elevate itself in the spirit, the spirit in God, if you, O Man, wish to live in Him forever in bliss.” — “As much as my I pines away and diminishes in me, so much is the Lord's I strengthened thereby.” — It is from this point of view that man can understand his significance and the significance of all things in the realm of eternal necessity. The natural universe appears to him in a direct way as the divine spirit. The thought of a divine, universal spirit which could have its being and continuance above and beside the things of the world fades away as a concept that has been surmounted. This universal spirit appears to be so poured out into things, to have become so much one nature with them, that it could not be imagined any longer if even a single part of its being were imagined as absent. “There is nothing but I and You; and if we two do not exist, then God is God no more, and the heavens shall fall.” — Man feels himself to be a necessary link in the chain of the world. His acts no longer have any element of arbitrariness or individuality. What he does is necessary in the whole, in the chain of the world, which would fall apart if what he does were taken out of it. “Without me God cannot make a single worm; if I do not preserve it with Him, it must straightway fall to pieces.” — “I know that without me God cannot live for an instant; if I come to nothing then He must needs give up the ghost.” — It is only on this height that man sees things in their true nature. He no longer needs to attribute, from the outside, a spiritual essence to what is smallest, what is grossly sensory. For such as this smallest is, in all its smallness and gross, sensory nature, it is a part of the All. “No dust mote is so poor, no dot is so small, but the wise man sees God in it in His glory.” — “In a mustard-seed, if you can understand it, is the image of all higher and lower things.” — On this height man feels himself free. For coercion exists only where one can still be compelled by something from the outside. But when everything external has flowed into the interior, when the contrast between “I and world,” “outside and inside,” “nature and spirit” has disappeared, then man feels everything which impels him only as his own impulse. “Fetter me as strictly as you want, in a thousand irons; nevertheless I shall be wholly free and unfettered.” — “When my will is dead, then must God do what I will; I myself prescribe to Him the pattern and the goal.” — Now all externally imposed moral norms cease to exist; man becomes his own measure and goal. He is not subject to any law, for the law too has become his nature. “The law is for the wicked; if no commandment were written, the godly would yet love God and their neighbor.” — On the higher level of cognition the innocence of nature is thus given back to man. He accomplishes the tasks which are set for him with the awareness of an eternal necessity. He says to himself: Through this iron necessity is given into your hand to withdraw that part which is assigned to you from this same eternal necessity. “O Men, learn from the flower of the field how you can please God and be beautiful at the same time.” — “The rose is without why; it blooms because it blooms; it pays no attention to itself, nor asks whether one sees it.” — When man arises to the higher level, he feels in himself the eternal and necessary impulse of the universe, just as the flower of the field; he acts as the flower blooms. In all his actions the awareness of his moral responsibility grows into the immeasurable. For what he does not do is withdrawn from the All, is a killing of this All, insofar as the possibility of such a killing lies with him. “What is it not to sin? Do not ask much; go, the silent flowers will tell you.” — “Everything must be slain. If you do not slay yourself for God, eternal death shall at last slay you for the Enemy.”

He had me at hello.

My initial encounter with Rudolf Steiner occurred on September 8, 1991. I picked off the library shelf a copy of The Occult Significance of the Bhagavad Gita and began to read the first lecture:

"Our thoughts will penetrate to regions that will lead us to the portals of the eternal manifestation of the spiritual in the world. We shall speak about a subject that will apparently lead us far away in time and in space from the here and now. It will not on that account lead us less to what lives in the here and now, but rather to what lives just as much in all times and in all the places of the Earth, because it will bring us near to the secrets of the eternal in all existence. It will lead us to the ceaseless search of man for the wellsprings of eternity, where he may drink for the healing and refreshment of something in him which, ever since they gained understanding of it, men have considered all-powerful in life, namely, love. For wherever we are gathered together we are gathered in the name of the search for wisdom and the search for love. What we seek is extended out into space and can be observed in the far horizon of the Cosmic All, but it can also be observed in the wrestling soul of man wherever he may be."

What is it not to sin?

“What is it not to sin? Do not ask much; go, the silent flowers will tell you.”  — Angelus Silesius

Valentin Weigel and Jacob Boehme

Rudolf Steiner, from Mysticism at the Dawn of the Modern Age [aka Eleven Modern Mystics, aka Mystics after Modernism]

Paracelsus was primarily concerned with developing ideas about nature that breathe the spirit of the higher cognition he advocated. A kindred thinker who applied the same way of thinking to man's own nature in particular is Valentin Weigel (1533–1588). He grew out of Protestant theology as Eckhart, Tauler, and Suso grew out of Catholic theology. He had precursors in Sebastian Frank and Caspar Schwenckfeldt. They emphasized the deepening of the inner life, in contrast to the church dogma with its attachment to an external creed. For them it is not the Jesus whom the Gospels preach who is of value, but the Christ who can be born in every man out of his deeper nature, and who is to be his deliverer from the lower life and his leader in the ascent to the ideal. Weigel quietly and modestly administered his incumbency in Zschopau. It is only from his posthumous writings printed in the seventeenth century that one discovers something about the significant ideas he had developed concerning the nature of man. (Of his writings, we shall mention here: Der güldene Griff, Alle Ding ohne Irrthumb zu erkennen, vielen Hochgelährten unbekannt, und doch allen Menschen nothwendig zu wissen [The Golden art of Knowing Everything without Error, unknown to Many of the Learned, and yet Necessary for all Men to Know]; Erkenne dich selber [Know Thyself]; Vom Ort der Welt [Of the Place of the World].) Weigel is anxious to come to a clear idea of his relationship to the teachings of the Church. This leads him to investigate the foundations of all cognition. Man can only decide whether he can know something through a creed if he understands how he knows. Weigel takes his departure from the lowest kind of cognition. He asks himself: How do I apprehend a sensory thing when it confronts me? From there he hopes to be able to ascend to the point where he can give an account of the highest cognition. — In sensory apprehension the instrument (sense organ) and the thing, the “counterpart,” confront each other. “Since in natural perception there must be two things, namely the object or counterpart, which is to be perceived and seen by the eye, and the eye, or the perceiver, which sees and perceives the object, therefore, consider the question: Does the perception come from the object into the eye, or does the judgment, and the perception, flow from the eye into the object?” (Der güldene Griff, chap. 9) Now Weigel says to himself: If the perception flowed from the counterpart (thing) into the eye, then, of one and the same thing, the same complete perception would of necessity have to arise in all eyes. But this is not the case; rather, everyone sees according to his eyes. Only the eyes, not the counterpart, can be responsible for the fact that many different conceptions of one and the same thing are possible. In order to make the matter clear, Weigel compares seeing with reading. If the book did not exist of course I could not read it; but it could be there, and I would still not be able to read anything in it if I did not know the art of reading. Thus the book must be there, but of itself it cannot give me anything at all; everything that I read I must bring forth out of myself. That is also the nature of natural (sensory) perception. Color exists as a “counterpart;” but out of itself it cannot give the eye anything. On its own, the eye must perceive what color is. The color is no more in the eye than the content of the book is in the reader. If the content of the book were in the reader, he would not have to read it. Nevertheless, in reading, this content does not flow out of the book, but out of the reader. It is the same with the sensory object. What this sensory object is outside, does not flow into man from the outside, but rather from the inside. — On the basis of these ideas one could say: If all perception flows from man into the object, then one does not perceive what is in the object, but only what is in man himself. A detailed elaboration of this train of thought is presented in the views of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). (I have shown the erroneous aspect of this train of thought in my book Die Philosophie der Freiheit [Philosophy of Spiritual Activity]. Here I must confine myself to saying that with this simple, straightforward way of thinking Valentin Weigel stands on a much higher level than Kant.) — Weigel says to himself: Although perception flows from man, yet it is only the nature of the counterpart which emerges from the latter by way of man. As it is the content of the book which I discover by reading and not my own, so it is the color of the counterpart which I discover through the eye, not the color which is in the eye, or in me. On his own path Weigel thus comes to a conclusion which we have already encountered in the thinking of Nicolas of Cusa. In his way Weigel has elucidated the nature of sensory perception for himself. He has attained the conviction that everything external things have to tell us can only flow out from within ourselves. Man cannot remain passive if he wants to perceive the things of the senses, and be content with letting them act upon him; he must be active, and bring this perception out of himself. The counterpart alone awakens the perception in the spirit. Man ascends to higher cognition when the spirit becomes its own object. In considering sensory perception, one can see that no cognition can flow into man from the outside. Therefore the higher cognition cannot come from the outside, but can only be awakened within man. Hence there can be no external revelation, but only an inner awakening. And as the external counterpart waits until man confronts it, in whom it can express its nature, so must man wait, when he wants to be his own counterpart, until the cognition of his nature is awakened in him. While in the sensory perception man must be active in order to present the counterpart with its nature, in the higher cognition he must remain passive, because now he is the counterpart. He must receive his nature within himself. Because of this, the cognition of the spirit appears to him as an illumination from on high. In contrast with the sensory perception, Weigel therefore calls the higher cognition the “light of grace.” This “light of grace” is in reality nothing but the self-cognition of the spirit in man, or the rebirth of knowledge on the higher level of seeing. — As Nicolas of Cusa, in pursuing his road from knowing to seeing, does not really let the knowledge acquired by him be reborn on a higher level, but is deceived into regarding the church creed, in which he had been educated, as this rebirth, so is this the case with Weigel too. He finds his way to the right road, and loses it again at the moment he enters upon it. One who wants to walk the road which Weigel indicates can regard the latter as a leader only up to its starting-point.

What we encounter in the works of the master shoemaker of Görlitz, Jacob Boehme (1575–1624), is like the jubilation of nature, which, at the peak of its development, admires its essence. Before us appears a man whose words have wings, woven out of the blissful feeling that he sees the knowledge in himself shining as higher wisdom. Jacob Boehme describes his condition as a devotion which only desires to be wisdom, and as a wisdom which desires to live in devotion alone: “When I wrestled and fought, with God's assistance, there arose a wondrous light in my soul which was altogether foreign to wild nature, and by which I first understood what God and man are, and what God has to do with man.” Jacob Boehme no longer feels himself to be a separate personality which utters its insights; he feels himself to be an organ of the great universal spirit which speaks in him. The limits of his personality do not appear to him as limits of the spirit which speaks out of him. For him this spirit is omnipresent. He knows that “the sophist will censure him” when he speaks of the beginning of the world and of its creation, “since I was not there and did not see it myself. Let him be told that in the essence of my soul and body, when I was not yet the I, but Adam's essence, I was indeed there, and that I myself have forfeited my felicity in Adam.” It is only in external similes that Boehme can intimate how the light broke forth within himself. When as a boy he once was on the summit of a mountain, above where great red stones seem to close the mountain off, he sees an open entrance, and in its depths a vessel containing gold. He is overcome with awe, and goes his way without touching the treasure. Later he is serving his apprenticeship with a shoemaker in Görlitz. A stranger walks into the store and asks for a pair of shoes. Boehme is not allowed to sell them to him in the master's absence. The stranger leaves, but after a while calls the apprentice outside and says to him, Jacob, you are little, but one day you will become an altogether different man, at whom the world will be filled with astonishment. At a more mature period of his life Jacob Boehme sees the sunshine reflected in a burnished pewter vessel; the sight which confronts him seems to him to reveal a profound mystery. From the time he experiences this manifestation he believes himself to be in possession of the key to the mysterious language of nature. — He lives as a spiritual hermit, supporting himself modestly by his trade, and at the same time setting down, as if for his own memory, the notes which sound in him when he feels the spirit within himself. The zealotry of priestly fanaticism makes his life difficult. He wants to read only that scripture which the light within himself illuminates for him, but is pursued and tormented by those to whom only the external scripture, the rigid, dogmatic creed, is accessible.

Jacob Boehme is filled with a restlessness which impels him toward cognition, because a universal mystery lives in his soul. He feels himself to be immersed in a divine harmony with his spirit, but when he looks around him he sees disharmony everywhere in the divine works. To man belongs the light of wisdom, yet he is exposed to error; there lives in him the impulse toward the good, and yet the dissonance of evil can be heard throughout the course of human development. Nature is governed by great natural laws, and yet its harmony is disturbed by superfluities and by the wild struggle of the elements. How is the disharmony in the harmonious, universal whole to be understood? This question torments Jacob Boehme. It comes to occupy the center of his world of ideas. He wants to attain a conception of the universal whole which includes the inharmonious too. For how can a conception explain the world which leaves the existing inharmonious elements aside, unexplained? Disharmony must be explained through harmony, evil through good itself. In speaking of these things, let us limit ourselves to good and evil; in the latter, disharmony in the narrower sense finds its expression in human life. For this is what Jacob Boehme basically limits himself to. He can do this, for to him nature and man appear as one essence. He sees similar laws and processes in both. The non-functional is for him an evil in nature, just as the evil is for him something non-functional in human destiny. Here and there it is the same basic forces which are at work. To one who has understood the origin of evil in man, the origin of evil in nature is also plain. — How is it possible for evil as well as for good to flow out of the same primordial essence? If one speaks in the spirit of Jacob Boehme, one gives the following answer: The primordial essence does not exist in itself alone. The diversity of the world participates in this existence. As the human body does not live its life as a single part, but as a multiplicity of parts, so too does the primordial essence. And as human life is poured into this multiplicity of parts, so is the primordial essence poured into the diversity of the things of this world. Just as it is true that the whole man has one life, so is it true that each part has its own life. And it no more contradicts the whole harmonious life of man that his hand should turn against his own body and wound it, than it is impossible that the things of the world, which live the life of the primordial essence in their own way, should turn against one another. Thus the primordial life, in distributing itself over different lives, bestows upon each life the capacity of turning itself against the whole. It is not out of the good that the evil flows, but out of the manner in which the good lives. As the light can only shine when it penetrates the darkness, so the good can only come to life when it permeates its opposite. Out of the “abyss” of darkness shines the light; out of the “abyss” of the indifferent, the good brings itself forth. And as in the shadow it is only brightness which requires a reference to light, while the darkness is felt to be self-evident, as something that weakens the light, so too in the world it is only the lawfulness in all things which is sought, and the evil, the non-functional, which is accepted as the self-evident. Hence, although for Jacob Boehme the primordial essence is the All, nothing in the world can be understood unless one keeps in sight both the primordial essence and its opposite. “The good has swallowed the evil or the repugnant into itself ... Every being has good and evil within itself; and in its development, having to decide between them, it becomes an opposition of qualities, since one of them seeks to overcome the other.” It is therefore entirely in the spirit of Jacob Boehme to see both good and evil in every object and process of the world; but it is not in his spirit to seek the primordial essence without further ado in the mixture of the good with the evil. The primordial essence had to swallow the evil, but the evil is not a part of the primordial essence. Jacob Boehme seeks the primordial foundation of the world, but the world itself arose out of the abyss by means of the primordial foundation. “The external world is not God, and in eternity is not to be called God, but is only a being in which God reveals Himself ... When one says God is everything, God is heaven and earth and also the external world, then this is true; for everything has its origin from Him and in Him. But what am I to do with such a saying that is not a religion?” — With this conception as a background, his ideas about the nature of the world developed in Jacob Boehme's spirit in such a way that he lets the lawful world arise out of the abyss in a succession of stages. This world is built up in seven natural forms. The primordial essence receives a form in dark acerbity, silently enclosed within itself and motionless. It is under the symbol of salt that Boehme conceives this acerbity. With such designations he leans upon Paracelsus, who has borrowed the names for the process of nature from the chemical processes (cf. above). By swallowing its opposite, the first natural form takes on the shape of the second; the harsh and motionless takes on motion; energy and life enter into it. Mercury is the symbol for this second form. In the struggle of stillness with motion, of death with life, the third natural form (sulphur) appears. This life, with its internal struggle, is revealed to itself; henceforth it does not live in an external struggle of its parts; like a uniformly shining lightning, illuminating itself, it thrills through its own being (fire). This fourth natural form ascends to the fifth, the living struggle of the parts reposing within itself (water). On this level exists an inner acerbity and silence as on the first, only it is not an absolute quiet, a silence of the inner contrasts, but an inner movement of the contrasts. It is not the quiet which reposes within itself, but which has motion, which was kindled by the fiery lightning of the fourth stage. On the sixth level, the primordial essence itself becomes aware of itself as such an inner life; it perceives itself through sense organs. It is the living organisms, endowed with senses, which represent this natural form. Jacob Boehme calls it sound or resonance, and thus sets up the sensory impression of hearing as a symbol for sensory perception in general. The seventh natural form is the spirit elevating itself by virtue of its sensory perceptions (wisdom). It finds itself again as itself, as the primordial foundation, within the world which has grown out of the abyss and shaped itself out of harmonious and inharmonious elements. “The Holy Ghost brings the splendor of majesty into the entity in which the Divinity stands revealed.” — With such conceptions Jacob Boehme seeks to fathom that world which, in accordance with the knowledge of his time, appears to him as the real one. For him facts are what the natural science of his time and the Bible regard as such. His way of thinking is one thing, his world of facts another. One can imagine the former as applied to a quite different factual knowledge. And thus there appears before our mind a Jacob Boehme who could also be living at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Such a man would not penetrate with his thinking the biblical story of the Creation and the struggle of the angels with the devils, but rather Lyell's geological insights and the “natural history of creation” of Haeckel. One who penetrates to the spirit of Jacob Boehme's writings must come to this conviction.* (We shall mention the most important of these writings: Die Morgenröthe im Aufgang, The Coming of the Dawn. Die drei Prinzipien göttlichen Wesens, The Three Principles of the Divine Essence. Vom dreifachen Leben des Menschen, Of the Threefold Life of Man. Das umgewandte Auge, The Eye Turned Upon Itself. Signatura rerum oder von der Geburt und Bezeichnung aller Wesen, Signatura rerum or of the birth and designation of all beings. Mysterium magnum.)

* This sentence must not be understood as meaning that the investigation of the Bible and of the spiritual world would be an aberration at the present time; what is meant is that a “Jacob Boehme of the nineteenth century” would be led by paths similar to those which led the one of the sixteenth century to the Bible, to the “natural history of creation.” But from there he would press forward to the spiritual world.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Overflowing Love

Ex abundantia cordis os loquitur. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’  — Matthew 12:34

The term for a group of nuns is "a superfluity of nuns" — the literal  meaning of the word "superfluity" is "overflowingness."

Eastern spirituality had to be renewed by the Christ impulse

Ex Deo Nascimur       In Christo Morimur       Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

Rudolf Steiner: "There is no wisdom of the East that has not streamed into Western occultism. In the teachings and investigations of the Rosicrucians, indeed, you will find everything that has been preserved by the great sages of the East. Nothing, absolutely nothing, known through Eastern wisdom is missing in the wisdom of the West. There is only this difference: the wisdom of the West had to illumine this whole body of Eastern teaching, the entirety of Easern wisdom, Eastern research, with the light kindled in humanity by the Christ impulse, but without losing any of it. It should not be said that a single iota of Eastern occultism is missing from Western occultism, which is derived from the hidden Rishis of the West who are invisible to human eyes. Nothing is missing. It is simply that everything had to be renewed out of the rejuvenating fountain of the Christ impulse."

Source: GA 110, 12 April 1909

A universe in each of us

"Man, incorporated in his physical body, though unknown to himself, carries a universe of such magnificence that the physical world cannot be remotely compared with it."  — Rudolf Steiner

Wisdom: born out of the periphery of the cosmos

Ex Deo Nascimur        In Christo Morimur        Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

Rudolf Steiner, conclusion to the evening lecture of April 18, 1909 [the last in the lecture series "The Spiritual Heirarchies and the Physical World"]:

"'We are the center of our universe. Everything around us loses its significance because we have to acknowledge that the outer, sense-perceptible world cannot solve the riddles that confront us. It is as if everything were concentrated at a single point. But just as everything compresses altogether, the solution of the cosmic riddle comes back from the periphery as powerfully real as matter itself, which is a reflection and image of the spiritual. Matter gathers itself together, disappears at the center and reappears at the periphery. That is reality. Our knowledge is real when it steps in front of our eyes as the structure and process of the entire cosmos. Such knowledge is no longer a form of speculation--a weaving of fanciful theory--for such knowledge is born out of the cosmos. This is the feeling we should develop. Wisdom must become an ideal for us, born out of the periphery of the cosmos and capable of filling us with great strength, with strength that enables us to fulfill our own destiny and to achieve our own cosmic ideal. With this strength, we shall also be able to realize the human ideal that awaits us in the future."

Rudolf Steiner: "Wisdom is the precondition of love. Love is wisdom reborn in the human I."

"I am the light of the world"

A Gigantic Butterfly Crop Circle formation (530 Meters x 450 Meters), the Biggest Crop Circle Ever, has appeared in the Netherlands, near a town in southern Holland called Goes, on the 8th of August 2009.

"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." - John 1:3-4
"I am the light of the world."  - John 8:12

Rudolf Steiner:
All animal entities are created out of light. This applies to man as well...In the chrysalis the caterpillar   altogether isolates itself from the physical Earth forces. Inside the chrysalis where the grub has vanished, astral forces are now present — no longer earthly or etheric forces, but astral forces which are entirely spiritual and live in imprisoned light. Imprisoned light always contains spiritual astral forces, and these create the butterfly. As the butterfly consists entirely of astral forces, it can now fly about in the air, which was impossible for the caterpillar. It can follow the light. Being no longer subject to gravity, the butterfly can simply follow the light. Through its surrender it has eliminated gravity, to which it is no longer subject. So it can be said that it has matured as far as the ego. It is an ego in which we see the butterfly flying around. We men have our ego inside, whereas that of the butterfly is outside. The ego is actually light and is responsible for the butterfly's color. In thinking this over there is something that must be clear in your minds. You are continually saying “I” to yourself. What does this signify? Every time you say “I” to yourself a little flame lights up in your brain, only it is invisible to ordinary sight. That is light. When I say “I” to myself I kindle this inner light. In saying “I,” I kindle the selfsame light that colors the butterfly's wings! It is really most interesting to note that when I say “I” to myself, could I allow this “I” to expand over the whole world of Nature, it would be light. It is only my body that keeps this “I” imprisoned. Were I able to let it expand, this ego, this light, would permit me to create real butterflies. The human ego actually has the power needed to create real butterflies.

The Beholding

"In the beholding of God we do not fall;
in the beholding of ourselves we may not stand."
                          — Julian of Norwich

Psalm 51

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Agrippa of Nettesheim and Theophrastus Paracelsus

Rudolf Steiner, from Mysticism at the Dawn of the Modern Age [aka Eleven Modern Mystics, aka Mystics after Modernism]

The road which is indicated by the way of thinking of Nicolas of Cusa was walked by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim (1487–1535) and Theophrastus Paracelsus (1493–1541). They immerse themselves in nature and, as comprehensively as possible, seek to explore its laws with all the means their period makes available to them. In this knowledge of nature they see at the same time the true foundation for all higher cognition. They themselves seek to develop the latter out of natural science by letting science be reborn in the spirit.

Agrippa of Nettesheim led an eventful life. He was descended from a noble family and was born in Cologne. He studied medicine and jurisprudence at an early age and sought to inform himself about natural phenomena in the way customary at the time in certain circles and societies, or by contact with a number of scholars who carefully kept secret whatever insights they gained into nature. With such purposes he repeatedly went to Paris, to Italy, and to England, and he also visited the famous Abbot Trithemius of Sponheim in Würzburg. He taught in scientific institutions at various times and here and there entered the services of rich and noble personages, at whose disposal he placed his talents as a statesman and scientist. If his biographers describe the services he rendered as not always above reproach, if it is said that he acquired money under the pretext of being adept in secret arts, and of securing various advantages to people by means of these arts, this is counterbalanced by his unmistakable and ceaseless urge to acquire the entire learning of his time honestly and to make this learning deeper in the spirit of a higher cognition of the world. In him distinctly appears the endeavor to achieve a clear position with regard to natural science on the one hand, with regard to higher cognition on the other. Such a position is attained only by one who has an insight into the ways by which one reaches the one and the other cognition. Just as it is true that at last natural science must be raised into the region of the spirit if it is to lead into higher cognition, so it is true that it must at first remain in the field proper to it if it is to provide the right foundation for a higher level. The “spirit in nature” exists only for the spirit. As certainly as nature is in this sense spiritual, as certain is it that nothing perceived in nature by bodily organs is immediately spiritual. Nothing spiritual can appear to my eye as being spiritual. I must not seek the spirit as such in nature. I do this when I interpret a process of the external world in an immediately spiritual way: when, for instance, I ascribe to plants a soul which is only distantly analogous to the human soul. I also do this when I ascribe a spatial or temporal existence to the spirit or the soul itself; when, for instance, I say of the eternal human soul that it lives in time without the body, but still in the manner of a body, rather than as pure spirit. Or when I even believe that the spirit of a deceased person can show itself in some kind of sensorily perceptible manifestations. Spiritualism, which commits this error, thereby only shows that it has not penetrated to the true conception of the spirit, but wants to see the spirit directly in something grossly sensory. It fails to understand the nature of the sensory as well as that of the spirit. It deprives of spirit the ordinary sensory phenomena, which take place hour by hour before our eyes, in order to consider something rare, surprising, unusual as spirit in a direct sense. It does not understand that for one who is capable of seeing the spirit, what lives as “spirit in nature” reveals itself, for instance, in the collision of two elastic spheres, and not only in processes which are striking because of their rarity and cannot be immediately grasped in their natural context. In addition, the spiritualist draws the spirit down into a lower sphere. Instead of explaining something that takes place in space and that he perceives with the senses by means of forces and beings which in turn are only spatial and sensorily perceptible, he has recourse to “spirits,” which he thus equates completely with the sensorily perceptible. Such a way of thinking is based on a lack of capacity for spiritual comprehension. One is not capable of looking at the spiritual in a spiritual manner, therefore with mere sensory beings one satisfies one's need for the presence of the spirit. To such people the spirit does not show any spirit; therefore they seek it with the senses. As they see clouds sailing through the air, so they also want to see spirits hurrying along.

Agrippa of Nettesheim fights for a true natural science, which does not attempt to explain the phenomena of nature by spiritual beings which haunt the world of the senses, but sees in nature only the natural, in the spirit only the spiritual. — One would of course completely misunderstand Agrippa if one were to compare his natural science with that of later centuries, which has altogether different data at its disposal. In such a comparison it might easily appear that he still refers what is due only to natural causes, or based on erroneous data, to the direct action of spirits. Moritz Carriere does him this injustice when he says — although not with ill will — “Agrippa gives a long list of the things which belong to the sun, the moon, the planets, or the fixed stars, and receive their influences; for instance, related to the sun are fire, blood, laurel, gold, chrysolite; they bestow the gift of the sun: courage, serenity, light ... The animals have a sense of nature which, more exalted than human reason, approaches the spirit of prophecy ... Men can be enjoined to love and hate, to sickness and health. Thus one puts a spell upon thieves that enjoins them from stealing somewhere, upon merchants so that they cannot trade, ships and mills so that they cannot move, lightning so that it cannot strike. This is done with potions, salves, images, rings, charms; the blood of hyenas or basilisks is suitable for this purpose, — one is reminded of Shakespeare's witches' cauldron.” No, one is not reminded of it, if one understands Agrippa aright. He did of course believe in things which were considered to be indubitable in his time. But we do this today also with regard to what is nowadays considered “factual.” Or is one to believe that future centuries also will not throw much of what we set up as indubitable facts into the store-room of “blind” superstition? It is true that I am convinced that there is a real progress in man's knowledge of facts. When the “fact” that the earth is round had once been discovered, all earlier suppositions were banished into the realm of “superstition.” Thus it is with certain truths of astronomy, of biology, etc. The doctrine of natural descent, in comparison with all earlier “hypotheses of creation,” represents a progress similar to the insight that the earth is round compared to all previous suppositions concerning its shape. Nevertheless I am aware that there is many a “fact” in our learned scientific works and treatises which will no more appear as fact to future centuries than does much of what is maintained by Agrippa and Paracelsus to us today. It is not a matter of what they considered to be a “fact,” but of the spirit in which they interpreted these facts. — In Agrippa's time one found, it is true, little comprehension of the “natural magic” which he advocated, and which seeks in nature the natural, and the spiritual only in the spirit; men clung to the “supernatural magic” which seeks the spiritual in the realm of the sensory, and against which Agrippa fought. This is why the Abbot Trithemius of Sponheim advised him to communicate his views as a secret doctrine only to a few chosen ones, who were able to rise to a similar conception of nature and spirit, for “one gives only hay to oxen and not sugar, as to songbirds.” It is perhaps to this abbot that Agrippa himself owes the right point of view. In his Steganographie, Trithemius has written a work in which he treats, with the most veiled irony, the way of thinking which confounds nature with the spirit. In this book he appears to speak entirely of supernatural phenomena. One who reads it as it stands must believe that the author is speaking of the conjuring of spirits, of the flying of spirits through the air, etc. But if one omits certain words and letters of the text there remain, as Wolfgang Ernst Heidel showed in the year 1676, letters which, when assembled into words, describe purely natural phenomena. (In one case for instance, in a formula of incantation, one must completely omit the first and the last word, and then cross out the second, fourth, sixth, etc. of those remaining. In the remaining words one must again cross out the first, third, fifth, etc. letter. What remains, one then assembles into words, and the formula of incantation is transformed into a communication of a purely natural content.)

How difficult it was for Agrippa to work his way out of the prejudices of his time and to raise himself to a pure conception is proven by the fact that he did not let his Philosophia Occulta appear until the year 1531, although it had been composed as early as 1510, because he considered it to be immature. Further evidence of this is given in his work De vanitate scientiarum [Of the Vanity of the Sciences], where he speaks with bitterness about the scientific and general activity of his time. There he says quite plainly that only with difficulty has he liberated himself from the delusion of those who see in external events direct spiritual processes, in external facts prophetic hints about the future, etc. Agrippa proceeds to the higher cognition in three stages. At the first stage he deals with the world as it is presented to the senses, with its substances, and its physical, chemical, and other forces. Insofar as it is viewed at this stage, he calls nature elemental. At the second stage one regards the world as a whole in its natural connections, in the way it arranges everything belonging to it according to measurements, number, weight, harmony, etc. The first stage brings those things together which are in close proximity to each other. It seeks the causes of a phenomenon which lie in its immediate environment. The second stage looks at a single phenomenon in connection with the whole universe. It carries out the idea that each thing is under the influence of all the remaining things of the universal whole. This universal whole appears to it as a great harmony, of which every separate entity is a part. The world, seen from this point of view, is designated by Agrippa as the astral or celestial one. The third stage of cognition is that in which the spirit, through immersion in itself, looks directly upon the spiritual, the primordial essence of the world. Here Agrippa speaks of the spiritual-soul world.

The views which Agrippa developed about the world and man's relationship to it we encounter in a similar, but more complete, form in Theophrastus Paracelsus. They are therefore better considered in connection with the latter.

Paracelsus characterizes himself when he writes under his portrait: “No one who can stand alone by himself should be the servant of another.” His whole position with regard to cognition is given in these words. Everywhere he himself wants to go back to the foundations of natural science in order to ascend, through his own powers, to the highest regions of cognition. As a physician he does not simply want to accept, like his contemporaries, what the old investigators who at the time were considered authorities, as for instance Galen or Avicenna, had affirmed in times gone by; he himself wants to read directly in the book of nature. “The physician must pass through the examination of nature, which is the world, and all its causation. And what nature teaches him he must commend to his wisdom, not seeking anything in his wisdom, but only in the light of nature.” He does not recoil from anything in order to become acquainted with nature and its manifestations from all sides. For this purpose he travels to Sweden, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, and the Orient. He can say of himself, “I have pursued the art in danger of my life and have not been ashamed to learn from strollers, hangmen, and barbers. My teachings have been tested more severely than silver in poverty, anxiety, wars, and perils.” What has been handed down from old authorities has no value for him, for he believes that he can only attain the right conception if he himself experiences the ascent from natural science to the highest cognition. This experiencing in his own person puts the proud words in his mouth: “One who wants to pursue the truth must come into my realm ... After me, not I after you, Avicenna, Rhases, Galen, Mesur! After me, and I not after you, you of Paris, you of Montpellier, you of Swabia, you of Meissen, you of Cologne, you of Vienna, and whatever lies on the Danube and the river Rhine, you islands in the sea, you Italy, you Dalmatia, you Athens, you Greek, you Arab, you Israelite; after me, and not I after you! Mine is the realm!” — It is easy to misjudge Paracelsus because of his rough exterior, which sometimes hides deep seriousness behind jest. He himself says: “Nature has not made me subtle, nor have I been raised on figs and white bread, but rather on cheese, milk, and oat bread, and therefore I may well be uncivil to the hyperclean and the superfine; for those who were brought up in soft clothes and we, who were brought up among fir-cones, do not understand each other well. Thus I must seem rough, though to myself I appear gracious. How can I not be strange for one who has never gone wandering in the sun?”

Goethe has described the relationship of man to nature (in his book on Winkelmann) in the following beautiful sentences: “When the healthy nature of man acts as a whole, when he feels himself to be in the world as in a great, beautiful, noble, and valued whole, when harmonious ease affords him a pure and free delight, then the universe, if it could experience itself, would exult, as having attained its goal, and admire the climax of its own becoming and essence.” Paracelsus is deeply penetrated with a sentiment like the one that expresses itself in such sentences. Out of this sentiment the mystery of man shapes itself for him. Let us see how this happens, in Paracelsus' sense. At first the road which nature has taken in order to bring forth its highest achievement is hidden from the human powers of comprehension. It has attained this climax; but this climax does not say: I feel myself to be the whole of nature; this climax says: I feel myself to be this single man. What in reality is an act of the whole world feels itself to be a single, solitary being, standing by itself. Indeed, this is the true nature of man, that he must feel himself as being something other than what, in the final analysis, he is. And if this is a contradiction, then man can be called a contradiction come to life. Man in his own way is the world. His harmony with the world he regards as a duality. He is the same as the world is, but he is this as a repetition, as a separate being. This is the contrast which Paracelsus perceives as microcosm (man) and macrocosm (universe). For him man is the world in little. What causes man to regard his relationship with the world in this way is his spirit. This spirit appears to be bound to a single being, to a single organism. By its whole nature, this organism belongs to the great chain of the universe. It is a link in it, and has its existence only in connection with all the others. The spirit, however, appears to be an outcome of this single organism. At first it sees itself as connected only with this organism. It tears this organism loose from the native soil out of which it grew. For Paracelsus a deep connection between man and the entire universe thus lies hidden in the natural foundation of existence, a connection which is obscured by the presence of the spirit. For us humans, the spirit, which leads us to higher cognition by communicating knowledge to us and by causing this knowledge to be reborn on a higher level, has at first the effect of obscuring for us our own connection with the universe. For Paracelsus, human nature thus at first falls into three parts: into our sensory-corporeal nature, our organism, which appears to us as a natural being among other natural beings, and which is just like all other natural beings; into our hidden nature, which is a link in the chain of the whole world, which thus is not enclosed within our organism, but sends out and receives influences to and from the whole universe; and into the highest nature, our spirit, which lives its life only in a spiritual manner. The first part of human nature Paracelsus calls the elemental body; the second, the ethereal-celestial or “astral body;” the third part he calls soul. — In the “astral” phenomena Paracelsus thus sees an intermediate level between the purely corporeal phenomena and the true phenomena of the soul. They will become visible when the spirit, which obscures the natural foundation of our existence, ceases its activity. We can see the simplest manifestation of this realm in the world of dreams. The images which flit through our dreams, with their peculiar, significant connection with events in our environment and with our own internal states, are products of our natural foundation which are obscured by the brighter light of the soul. When a chair collapses near my bed, and I dream a whole drama, which ends with a shot fired in a duel, or when I have palpitations of the heart, and dream of a seething stove, then meaningful and significant natural manifestations are appearing which reveal a life lying between the purely organic functions and the thinking processes taking place in the bright consciousness of the spirit. With this realm are connected all the phenomena which belong to the field of hypnotism and of suggestion. In suggestion we can see an acting of man on man, which points to an interrelationship between beings in nature that is obscured by the higher activity of the spirit. In this connection it becomes possible to understand what Paracelsus interprets as an “astral body.” It is the sum of the natural influences to which we are exposed or can be exposed through special circumstances, which emanate from us without involving our soul, and which nevertheless do not fall under the concept of purely physical phenomena. That in this field Paracelsus enumerates facts which we doubt today, has no importance when looked at from the point of view I have already adduced above. — On the basis of such views of human nature Paracelsus divides the latter into seven parts. They are the same as we find in the teachings of the ancient Egyptians, among the Neoplatonists, and in the Cabala. Man is first of all a physical-corporeal being; hence he is subject to the same laws to which every body is subject. In this sense he is thus a purely elemental body. The purely corporeal-physical laws combine in the organic life process. Paracelsus designates the organic laws as “Archaeus” or “Spiritus vitae”; the organic raises itself to spiritlike manifestations which are not yet spirit. These are the “astral” manifestations. From the “astral” processes emerge the functions of the “animal spirit.” Man is a sense being. He combines his sensory impressions in a rational manner by means of his reason. Thus the “rational soul” awakens in him. He immerses himself in his own spiritual products; he learns to recognize the spirit as spirit. Therewith he has raised himself to the level of the “spiritual soul.” At last he understands that in this spiritual soul he experiences the deepest stratum of the universal existence; the spiritual soul ceases to be an individual, separate one. The insight takes place of which Eckhart spoke when he felt that it was no longer he himself who spoke in him, but the primordial essence. Now that condition prevails in which the universal spirit regards itself in man. Paracelsus has expressed the feeling aroused by this condition in the simple words: “And this which you must consider is something great: there is nothing in Heaven and on Earth which is not in man. And God, who is in Heaven, is in man.” — It is nothing but facts of external and internal experience that Paracelsus wants to express with these seven fundamental parts of human nature. That what for human experience falls into a plurality of seven parts is in higher reality a unity, is not thereby brought into question. The higher cognition exists precisely to show the unity in everything which in his immediate experience appears to man as a plurality because of his corporeal and spiritual organization. On the level of the highest cognition Paracelsus strives to fuse the living, uniform, primordial essence of the world with his spirit. But he knows that man can only know nature in its spirituality if he enters into immediate intercourse with it. Man does not understand nature by peopling it, on his own, with arbitrarily assumed spiritual entities, but by accepting and valuing it as it is as nature. Paracelsus therefore does not seek God or the spirit in nature; but for him nature, as it presents itself to his eye, is immediately divine. Must one first attribute to the plant a soul like the human soul in order to find the spiritual? Therefore Paracelsus explains the development of things, insofar as this is possible with the scientific resources of his time, entirely in such a way that he regards this development as a sensory process of nature. He lets everything arise out of the primordial matter, the primordial water (Yliaster). And he regards as a further process of nature the separation of the primordial matter (which he also calls the great limbus) into the four elements, water, earth, fire, and air. When he says that the “divine word” called forth the plurality of beings from the primordial matter, this is only to be understood in somewhat the same manner as the relationship of force to matter is to be understood in modern natural science. A “spirit” in the real sense is not yet present on this level. This “spirit” is not an actual cause of the natural process, but an actual result of this process. This spirit does not create nature, but develops out of it. Many words of Paracelsus could be interpreted in the opposite sense. Thus, for instance, he says: “There is nothing corporeal that does not carry a living spirit hidden within it. And not only that has life which stirs and moves, such as men, animals, the worms in the earth, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the water, but all corporeal and substantial things.” But with such sayings Paracelsus only wants to warn against the superficial view of nature which thinks that it can exhaust the nature of a thing with a few “rammed-in” concepts (to use Goethe's apt expression). He does not want to inject an invented nature into things, but rather to set all the faculties of man in motion in order to bring forth what actually lies within a thing. — It is important not to let oneself be misled by the fact that Paracelsus expresses himself in the spirit of his time. Rather, one should try to understand what he has in mind when, looking upon nature, he sets forth his ideas in the forms of expression of his time. For instance, he ascribes to man a twofold flesh, that is, a twofold corporeal constitution. “The flesh must therefore be understood to be of two kinds, namely, the flesh whose origin is in Adam, and the flesh which is not from Adam. The flesh that is from Adam is a coarse flesh, for it is earthly and nothing but flesh, and is to be bound and grasped like wood and stone. The other flesh is not from Adam; it is a subtle flesh and is not to be bound or grasped, for it is not made of earth.” What is the flesh that is from Adam? It is all that has come down to man through his natural development, which he has therefore inherited. To this is added what in the course of time man has acquired for himself in intercourse with his environment. The modern scientific concepts of inherited characteristics and of characteristics acquired through adaptation emerge from the above-mentioned thought of Paracelsus. The “subtler flesh,” which makes man capable of spiritual activities, has not been in man from the beginning. He was “coarse flesh” like the animals, a flesh that “is to be bound and grasped like wood and stone.” In the scientific sense the soul is therefore also an acquired characteristic of the “coarse flesh.” What the natural scientist of the nineteenth century has in mind when he speaks of the inheritances from the animal world is what Paracelsus means when he uses the expression about “the flesh whose origin is in Adam.” These remarks, of course, are not intended to obliterate the difference which exists between a natural scientist of the sixteenth and one of the nineteenth century. After all, it was only the latter century which was capable of seeing, in the full scientific sense, the forms of living organisms in such a connection that their natural relationship and their actual descent as far as man became evident. Science sees only a natural process where Linnè in the eighteenth century still saw a spiritual process, which he characterized in the following words: “There are as many species of living organisms as there were, in principle, forms that were created.” While Linnè thus had to transfer the spirit into the spatial world and assign to it the task of producing spiritually, of “creating,” the forms of life, the natural science of the nineteenth century could ascribe to nature what is nature's and to the spirit what is the spirit's. Nature itself is assigned the task of explaining its creations, and the spirit can immerse itself into itself where it alone is to be found, within man. — But while in a certain sense Paracelsus thinks quite in the spirit of his time, yet just with regard to the idea of development, of becoming, he has grasped the relationship of man to nature in a profound manner. In the primordial essence of the world he did not see something which in some way exists as something finished, but he grasped the divine in its becoming. Hence he could really ascribe a self-creating activity to man. If the divine primordial essence exists once and for all, a true creating by man is out of the question. Then it is not man, who lives in time, who creates, but God, Who is eternal. For Him there is only an eternal becoming, and man is a link in this eternal becoming. That which man forms did not previously exist in any way. What man creates, as he creates it, is an original creation. If it is to be called divine, this can only be in the sense in which it exists as a human creation. Therefore in the building of the universe Paracelsus can assign to man a role which makes him a co-architect in this creation. The divine primordial essence without man is not what it is with man. “For nature brings forth nothing into the light of day which is complete as it stands; rather, man must complete it.” This self-creating activity of man in the building of nature, Paracelsus calls alchemy. “This completion is alchemy. Thus the alchemist is the baker when he bakes the bread, the vintager when he makes the wine, the weaver when he makes the cloth.” Paracelsus wants to be an alchemist in his field, as a physician. “Therefore I may well write so much here concerning alchemy, so that you can know it well and learn what it is and how it is to be understood, nor be vexed that it is to bring you neither gold nor silver. Rather see that the arcana (remedies) are revealed to you ... The third pillar of medicine is alchemy, for the preparation of remedies cannot take place without it, because nature cannot be put to use without art.”

Thus Paracelsus' eyes are directed in the strictest sense upon nature, in order to discover from nature itself what it has to say about its products. He wants to investigate the laws of chemistry in order to work as an alchemist in his sense. He considers all bodies to be composed of three basic substances, namely, of salt, sulphur, and mercury. What he so designates of course does not correspond to what later chemistry designates by this name, any more than what Paracelsus considers to be a basic substance is one in the sense of later chemistry. Different things are designated by the same names at different times. What the ancients called the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire, we still have. We call these four “elements” no longer “elements” but states of aggregation, for which we have the designations: solid, liquid, aeriform, etheriform. Earth, for instance, for the ancients was not earth but the “solid.” The three basic substances of Paracelsus we can also recognize in contemporary concepts, but not under the homonymous contemporary names. For Paracelsus, solution in a liquid and combustion are the two important chemical processes of which he makes use. If a body is dissolved or burned it is decomposed into its parts. Something remains as residue; something is dissolved or burns. For him the residue is salt-like, the soluble (liquid), mercury-like; the combustible he calls sulphurous.

One who does not look beyond such natural processes may be left cold by them as by things of a material and prosaic nature; one who at all costs wants to grasp the spirit with the senses will people these processes with all kinds of spiritual beings. But like Paracelsus, one who knows how to look at such processes in connection with the universe, which reveals its secret within man, accepts these processes as they present themselves to the senses; he does not first reinterpret them; for as the natural processes stand before us in their sensory reality, in their own way they reveal the mystery of existence. What through this sensory reality these processes reveal out of the soul of man occupies a higher position for one who strives for the light of higher cognition than do all the supernatural miracles concerning their so-called “spirit” which man can devise or have revealed to him. There is no “spirit of nature” which can utter more exalted truths than the great works of nature themselves, when our soul unites itself with this nature in friendship, and, in familiar intercourse, hearkens to the revelations of its secrets. Paracelsus sought such a friendship with nature.