Friday, December 15, 2017

The human being's inner planetary system

Diagram 13
 

Diagram 14

Occult Physiology. Lecture 4 of 8.

Rudolf Steiner, Prague, March 23, 1911:

Our discussion of yesterday, dealing primarily with the significance of one of those organs which represent an “inner cosmic system” of man, will be continued to-day. We shall then find the transition leading to a description of the functions of the other human organs and organic systems.
It was said to me yesterday in connection with my reference to the spleen that there might arise an apparent contradiction as regards the very important function ascribed to the spleen in the entire being of man; that this contradiction might well appear as a result of the reflection that it is possible to take the spleen out of the body, actually to remove it, and yet not leave the man incapable of living.
Such an objection is certainly justified from the standpoint of our contemporaries; indeed, it is unavoidable in view of the fact that certain difficulties present themselves even to those who approach the spiritual-scientific world-conception as thoroughly honest seekers. It was possible to point out only in a general way in our first public lecture [ 1 ] how our contemporaries, especially when conscientiously schooled in scientific methods, find difficulties as soon as they choose the road that leads them to an understanding of what may be presented out of the occult depths of cosmic Being.
Now, we shall see in the course of these lectures how, in principle, so to speak, such an objection gradually disappears of itself. I shall, however, to-day call your attention in a prefatory way to the fact that the removal of the spleen from the human organism is thoroughly compatible with everything discussed yesterday. If we really wish to ascend to the truths of spiritual science, we must accustom ourselves gradually to the fact that what we call the human organism, as seen by means of our external senses, and also everything we see in this organism as substance, or it might, perhaps, be better to say as external matter, that all this is not the whole man; but that, underlying man as a physical organism (as we shall explain further) are higher, super-sensible human organisms called the ether-body or life-body, the astral body and the ego; and that we have in this physical organism only the external physical expression for the corresponding formation and processes of the ether-body, the astral body, etc.
When we refer to an organ such as the spleen we think of it in the spiritual-scientific sense, realising that not only does something take place in the external, physical spleen, but that this is merely the physical expression for corresponding processes which take place in the ether-body, for example, or in the astral body. We might say moreover, that the more any one of the organs is the direct expression of the spiritual, the less is the physical form of the organ, that is, what we have before us as physical substance, the determining factor. Just as we find in looking at a pendulum that its movement is merely the physical expression of gravitation, even so is the physical organ merely the physical expression of the super-sensible influences working in force and form — with this difference, however, that in the case of such forces as that of gravitation when we remove the pendulum, which is the physical expression, no inner rhythm due to gravitation can continue. This is the case, of course, in inanimate, inorganic Nature; but not in the same way in animate, organic Nature. When there are no other causes present in the organism as a whole it is not necessary that the spiritual influences should cease with the removal of the physical organ; for this physical organ, in its physical nature, is only a feeble expression of the nature of the corresponding spiritual activities. On this point we shall have more to say later.
Accordingly when we observe the human being, with reference to his spleen, we have to do in the first place, with that organ only; but beyond that with a system of forces working in it which have in the physical spleen only their outward expression. If one removes the spleen, these forces which are integral parts of the organism still continue their work. Their activities do not cease in the way in which, let us say, certain spiritual activities in the human being cease when one removes the brain or a portion of it. It may even be, under certain circumstances, that an organ which has become diseased may cause a much greater hindrance to the continuation of the spiritual activities than is brought about by the removal of the organ concerned. This is true, for example, in the case of a serious disease of the spleen. If it is possible to remove the organ when it becomes seriously diseased, this removal is, under certain conditions, less hindering to the development of the spiritual activities than is the organ itself, which is inwardly diseased and therefore a constant mischief-maker, opposing the development of the underlying spiritual forces.
Such an objection a man may make if he has not yet penetrated very deeply into the real nature of spiritual-scientific knowledge. Though readily understood, this is one of those objections that disappear of themselves when one has time and patience to go more deeply into these matters. You will generally find the following to be true: When anyone approaches what is given out through spiritual science with a certain sort of knowledge gathered from all that belongs to present-day science, contradiction after contradiction may result till finally one can get no further. And, if a man is quick to form opinions, he will certainly not be able to reach any other conclusion than that spiritual science is a sort of madness which does not harmonise in the slightest degree with the results obtained by external science. If, however, a man follows these things with patience, he will see that there is no contradiction, not even of the most minute kind, between what comes forth from spiritual science and what may be presented by external science. The difficulty before us is this, that the field of anthroposophical or spiritual science as a whole is so extensive that it is never possible to present more than a part of it. When people approach such parts they may feel discrepancies such as that which we have described; yet it would be impossible to begin in any other way than this with the much needed bringing of the anthroposophical world-conception into the culture and knowledge of our day.
Yesterday I endeavoured to explain the transformation of rhythm, in the sense I explained, which is undertaken by the spleen in contrast to the rhythmless manner in which human beings take their external nourishment. I took what was said in this connection as my point of departure because it is in itself fundamentally the most easily understood of all the functions belonging to the spleen. We must know, however, that although it is the easiest to understand it is not the most important, it does not constitute the chief thing. For, if it were, people could always say: “Very well, then; if the human being were to take pains to know the right rhythm for his nourishment, the activity of the spleen viewed from this aspect would little by little become unnecessary." From this we see at once that what was described yesterday is the merest trifle. Far more important is the fact that in the process of nourishment we have to do with external substances, external articles of food, their composition and the form and manner in which they exist in our environment. So long as one holds to the conception that these nutritive substances are so much dead bulk, or at best masses containing that sort of life which one generally assumes to be in plants and other articles of food, it may certainly appear as if all that is necessary is for the external substances taken into the organism as nutritive matter to be simply worked over by means of what we call the process of digestion in its broadest sense.
Many people, it is true, imagine that they have to do with some sort of indeterminate substance taken in as food, a substance quite neutral in its relation to us which simply waits, when we have once taken it in, till we are able to digest it. But such is not the case. Articles of food are, after all not just bricks which serve in some sort of way as building material for the construction they are to help in erecting. Bricks are included in the architect's plan in any way he pleases to use them because they represent in relationship to the building a mass in itself quite inert. This is not true, however, of nutritive matter in its relation to the human being. For every particle of substance we have in our environment has certain inner forces, its own conformity to law. This is the essential element in any substance: that it has its own inner laws, its own inner activities. Accordingly, when we bring external nutritive substances into our organism, when we insert them into our own inner activity, so to speak, they do not simply consent to this at once as a matter of course but attempt first to develop their own laws, their own rhythms and their own inner forms of movement.
Thus, if the human organism wishes to use these substances for its own purposes it must first destroy their rhythmic life, as it were, that vital activity which is peculiarly their own. It must do away with these, not merely working over some indifferent material, but working in opposition to certain laws characteristic of these substances. That these substances do have their own laws can soon be felt by the human being when, for instance, a strong poison is conveyed through the digestive canal. He soon feels, in such a case, that the particular law belonging to this substance has mastered him, that these laws now assert themselves. Just as every poison has in general its own inner laws by means of which it carries out an attack on our organism, so it is with every substance, with all the nutriment that we take in. It is not something neutral, but rather it asserts itself in accordance with its own nature, its own quality of being. It has, we may say, its own rhythm. This rhythm must be combated by the human being, so that it is not only a case of working over neutral building material within man's inner organisation, but rather that the peculiar nature of this building material must first be mastered.
We may say, therefore, that in those organs which our food first encounters inside the human being we have the instruments with which to oppose in the first place, what constitutes the peculiar life of the nutritive substance “life” here to be conceived in its wider meaning, so that even the apparently lifeless world of nature, with its laws of movement, is included. That which the food has within it as its own rhythm, which contradicts the human rhythm, must be modified. And in this work of change the organism of the spleen is, so to speak, the outpost. In this changing of the rhythm, however, in this work of re-forming and of defending, the other organs we have mentioned also participate; so that in the spleen, the gall-bladder, and the liver we have a co-operating system of organs whose main function it is, when food is received into the organism, to repel what constitutes the particular inner nature of this food. All the activity first developed in the stomach, or even before the food reaches it, and everything which is then brought about by the secretions [ 2 ] of the gall, and which takes place further through the activity of the liver and the spleen, all of this results in that warding off we have mentioned of the peculiar nature of the nutritive substances.
Thus our food is adapted, we may say, to the inner rhythm of the human organism only when it has been met by the counter-activity of these organs. Only, therefore, when we have taken in our nutriment, and have exposed it to the activity of these organs, do we have in us something capable of being received into that organic system which is the bearer, the instrument, of our ego. Before any sort of external nutritive substance can be received into this blood of ours, so that the blood shall become capable of serving as the instrument of our ego, all those forms of law peculiar to the external world must be set aside, and the blood must receive the nutriment in such form as corresponds to the particular nature of the human organism. We may say, therefore, that in the spleen, the liver and the gall-bladder as they are in themselves and as they react upon the stomach, we have those organs which adapt the laws of the outside world, from which we take our food, to the inner organisation, the inner rhythm, of man.
This human nature, however, in all its working as a totality and with all its members, confronts not only the inner world; it must also be in a continual correspondence or intercourse with the outside world, in a continual living reciprocal activity in relation to that world. This living interaction with the world outside is cut off by the fact that, in so far as we come into connection with it through our nutritive material, the three organ-systems of the liver, the gall-bladder, and the spleen are placed in opposition to the laws of that world. From this side, through these organs, conformity to external law is eliminated. If the human organism were exposed only to these systems of organs it would shut itself off completely, so to speak, from the outside world, would itself become, as a system of organs, an entity completely isolated in itself. Something else, therefore, is necessary. Just as the human being needs, on the one hand, organ-systems by means of which the outside world is so reshaped as to be in accordance with his inner world, so must he be in a position also, on the other hand, to confront the outside world directly with the help of the instrument of his ego: that is, he must place his organism, which otherwise would remain a kind of entity isolated within itself, in direct continual connection with the outside world.
Whereas the blood enters into connection with the external world from the one direction, only in such a way that it contains that part of this world alone from which all forms of law peculiar to it have been cast aside, from the other side it enters into relation with this external world so that it can in a certain sense come into direct contact with it. This happens when the blood flows through the lungs and comes into contact with the outer air. It is there renewed by means of the oxygen in this outer air, and is brought into such a form that nothing can now weaken it in this form; so that the oxygen of the air thus actually meets the instrument of the human ego in a condition that conforms with its own essential nature and quality of being.
There appears thus before our eyes this truly remarkable fact: that what we may call the noblest instrument possessed by man, his blood, which is the instrument of his ego, stands there as an entity that receives all its nourishment, everything that it takes from the life of the outside world, carefully filtered by the organ-systems we have characterised. In this way the blood is made capable of becoming a complete expression of the inner organisation of man, the inner rhythm of man. On the other hand, however, in so far as the blood comes into direct contact with the outside world, with that particular substance in the external world that may be taken in as it is, in its own inner form of law, its own vital activity, without needing to be directly combated, to that extent is this human organism not something secluded within itself but at the same time in full contact with the world outside.
We have, accordingly, in this blood-organism of man, looked at from this standpoint, something very wonderful. We have in it an actual, genuine means of expression of the human ego, which is in fact turned toward the external world on the one side, and on the other toward its own inner life. Just as man is directed through his nerve-system, as we have seen, toward the impressions of this outer world, taking the outer world into himself; as it were, through the nerves by way of the soul, just so does he come into direct contact with the outer world through the instrument of his blood, in that the blood receives oxygen from the air through the lungs. We may say, therefore, that in the system of the spleen, liver, and gall-bladder, on the one hand, and in the lung-system on the other, we have two systems which counteract each other. Outer world and inner world, so to speak, have an absolutely direct contact with each other in the human organism by means of the blood, because the blood comes into contact on the one side with the outer air and on the other with the nutritive material that has been deprived of its own nature. One might say that the action of two worlds comes into collision within man, like positive and negative electricity. We can very easily picture to ourselves where that organ-system is located which is designed to permit the mutual rebounding of these two systems of cosmic forces to act upon it. Upward as far as the heart there work the transformed nutritive juices, inasmuch as the blood, which carries them, streams through the heart; inward to the heart, inasmuch as the blood flows through it, works the oxygen of the air which enters the blood directly from the outer world. We have in the heart, therefore, that organ in which there meet each other these two systems into which the human being is interwoven and to which he is attached from two different directions. The whole inner organism of man is joined to the heart on the one side, and on the other, this inner organism itself is connected directly through the heart with the rhythm, the inner vital activity, of the outer world.
It is quite possible that when two such systems collide the direct result of their interaction may be a harmony. The system of the great outside world or macrocosm presses upon us through the fact that it sends the oxygen or the air in general into our inner organism, and the system of our small inner world or microcosm transforms our nourishment; therefore we might imagine that these systems, because of the fact that the blood streams through the heart, are able in the blood to create a harmonious balance. If this were so, the human being would be yoked to two worlds, so to speak, providing him with his inner equilibrium. Now, we shall see later in the course of these lectures, that the connection between the world and the human being is not such that the world leaves us quite passive — that it sends its forces into us in two different ways, while we are simply harnessed to their counteracting influences. No, it is not like that; but rather, as we shall more and more learn to know, the essential thing with regard to man is the fact that at last a residue always remains for his own inner activity; and that it is left ultimately to man himself to bring about the balance, the inner equilibrium, right into his very organs. We must, therefore, seek within the human organism itself for the balancing of these two world-systems, the harmonising of these two systems of organs. We must realise that the harmonising of these two organ-systems is not already provided through that kind of conformity to law operating outside man and that other kind of conformity to law which works only within his own organism, but that this must be evoked through the help of an organ-system of his own. Man must establish the harmony within himself. (We are not now speaking of the consciousness, but of those processes which take place entirely unconsciously within the organ-systems of the human being.) This balancing of the two systems, the system of spleen, liver, gall-bladder on the one hand and the lung-system on the other, as they confront the blood which flows through the heart is, indeed, brought about. It is brought about through the fact that we have the kidney-system inserted in the entire human organism and in intimate relationship with the circulation of the blood.
In this kidney-system we have that which harmonises, as it were, the outer activities due to the direct contact of the blood with the air and those other activities proceeding from the inner human organism itself in that the food must first be prepared by being deprived of its own nature. In this kidney-system, accordingly, we have a balancing system between the two kinds of organ-systems previously characterised; and the organism is in a position by means of this system to dispose of the excess which otherwise would result from the inharmonious interaction of the two other systems.
 Diagram 13
Diagram 13
 
 Diagram 14
Diagram 14
 
Over against the entire inner organisation, the organs belonging to the digestive apparatus (in which we must include the organs we have learned to know as liver, gall-bladder, and spleen), we have placed that system for which these organs primarily develop their preparatory activity, namely, the blood-system. But also over against this blood-system we have placed those organs which work, on the one hand to counteract a one-sided isolation, but on the other hand to create a balance between the inner systems we have mentioned and what presses inward from without. If we think, therefore, of the blood-system with its central point, the heart, as placed in the middle of the organism — and we shall see how truly justifiable this is — we have adjoining this system of blood and heart, on the one side the spleen, liver, and gall-bladder systems, and connected with it on the other side the lung and kidney systems. We shall emphasise later on how extremely close this connection is between the lung-system and the kidney-system. If we sketch the systems side by side we have in them everything belonging to the inner organisation of man which is related in a special way, and which so presents itself to us in this relationship that we are obliged to look upon the heart, together with the blood-system belonging to it, as by far the most important part. Now, I have already pointed out, and we shall see even more definitely to what an extent such a giving of names as we have described is justified, that in occultism the activity of the spleen is characterised as a Saturn-activity, that of the liver as a Jupiter-activity, and that of the gall-bladder as a Mars-activity. On the same basis on which these names were chosen for the activities here referred to, occult knowledge sees in the heart and the blood-system belonging to it something in the human organism which merits the name Sun, just as the sun outside merits this name in the planetary system. In the lung-system, there is contained what the occultists, according to the same principle, characterise as Mercury, and in the kidney-system that which merits the name Venus. Thus, by means of these names, we have pointed out in these systems of the human organism, even if at the present moment we do not in the least undertake a justification of the names, something like an inner world system. We have, moreover, supplemented this inner world system in that we have placed ourselves in a position to observe the relationship which manifests itself in the very nature of man as holding good for the two other organ-systems having a certain special connection with the blood-system. Only when we observe these things in such a way do we present something complete in respect to what we may call the real inner human world. In the following lectures I shall have occasion to show you that the occultists have actual reasons for conceiving the relationship of the sun to Mercury and Venus as being similar to that which we must necessarily think of as existing between the heart and lungs and kidneys respectively, within the human organism.
We see, therefore, that in the instrument of our ego, our blood-system, expressing its rhythm in the heart, something is present that is determined to a certain extent in its entire formation, its inner nature and quality of being, by man's inner world system; something that must first be embedded in the inner world system of the human being before it can live as it actually does live. We have in this human blood-system, as I have often stated, the physical instrument of our ego. Indeed, we know that our ego as constituted is only possible by reason of the fact that it is built up on the foundation of a physical body, an ether-body, and an astral body. An ego free to fly about in the world by itself, as a human ego, is unthinkable. A human ego within this world, which is the world that for the moment concerns us, presupposes as its basis an astral body, an ether-body, and a physical body.
Now, just as this ego in its spiritual connection pre-supposes the three members of man's being we have just named, so does its physical organ, the blood-system, which is the instrument of the ego, presuppose likewise on the physical side corresponding images, as it were, of the astral body and the ether-body. Thus the blood-system can carry out its evolution only on the basis of something else. Whereas the plant simply evolves out of inanimate and inorganic nature, in that it grows directly out of this, we must say that in the case of the human blood-organism the mere outer world cannot serve as a basis in the way that it serves the plant, but this outer world must first be transformed by way of our nutrition. And just as the physical body of man must bear within itself the ether-body and the astral body, so what streams in with the food must first be transformed before that which is the instrument of the human ego can merge itself with these transformed nutritive substances.
Even though we may say that the nature of this physical organ, this physical instrument of the human ego, is determined in the lung-system by the outer world, it is nevertheless so determined by the outer world that it is, after all, an organ of the human bodily organisation. Here again we must differentiate between what comes to man from outside in the form of air (is breathed in and enables him to permeate his blood directly with the rhythm belonging to the outer world) and what approaches the blood, the living instrument of the ego in the organism, not directly, but, as has already been described, by the roundabout path of the soul: everything, namely, that man takes in by receiving the impressions of the outer world through the senses, so that the senses then convey these impressions to the tablet of the blood.
We may, therefore, state it thus: Not only does man come by means of the air into direct physical contact with the outside world, in that this contact works right into his blood; but by means of the sense organs he also comes into contact with the outside world in such a way that this contact is a non-physical one, taking place through the process of perception which the soul unfolds when it comes into relation with its environment.
We here have something like a higher process in addition to the process of breathing, something like a spiritualised breathing process. Whereas through the breathing process we take the outer world in the form of matter into our organism, we take, through the process of perception, by which I mean here everything that we work over inwardly in connection with the external impressions we receive, something into our organism which is a spiritualised process of breathing. And there now arises the question: “How do these two processes work together?” For in the human organism everything must have a reciprocal, a counterbalancing activity. Let us for a moment put this question still more exactly, for certain essential things will depend upon an accurate presentation.
In order to be able to convey to our minds the answer which we shall give to-day hypothetically, we must first understand clearly how an interaction, a reciprocal activity, can take place between all that works through the blood, all that the blood has changed into through the fact that the different processes have come about under the influence of the inner world system, and what we carry on as processes of external perception. For, in spite of the fact that the blood is thus filtered, and even though so much care has been taken to make it the wonderfully organised substance it is, so that it can be the instrument of our ego, in spite of this it is nevertheless primarily a physical substance in the human organism, and belongs as such to the physical body. At first, therefore, there seems to be a very great difference between this human blood, which has been prepared as it has, and what we know as our processes of perception, everything, that is, which the soul performs. Indeed, this is an undeniable reality, for anyone would have to be remarkably lacking in ability to think, who would deny that perceptions, concepts, feelings, and will-impulses exist just the same as does a blood-substance, a nerve-substance, a liver-substance, a gall-substance. As to how these things are connected world-conceptions might begin to conflict. They might dispute, let us say, as to whether thoughts are merely some sort of activity of the nerve-substance, or something of that sort. It is only at this point that the conflict can begin between the different world-conceptions. No world-conception can dispute over the obvious fact that our inner soul-life, our thought-life, our feeling-life, everything which builds itself up on the foundation of external perceptions and impressions, presents a reality in itself. Note well that I did not say, in the first place, “an absolutely isolated reality,” but “a reality in itself,” for nothing in the world is isolated. The words “reality in itself” are intended to indicate what may be observed as being real within our inner world system; and to this last belong all our thoughts, feelings and so forth, quite as truly as do the stomach, the liver, and the gall-bladder.
Yet something else may strike us when we see these two realities side by side — everything on the one hand which, even though so thoroughly filtered, is none the less physical, namely, the blood; and on the other hand that which at first appears, indeed, to have nothing at all to do with anything physical, namely, the content of the soul-life, consisting of feelings, thoughts and so forth. As a matter of fact this very aspect of these two kinds of reality presents man with such difficulties that the most varied answers, offered by the most diverse world-conceptions, have come to be associated with it.
There are world-conceptions, for instance, that believe in a direct influence upon physical substance of everything connected with the soul, with thought and with feeling, as if thought could work directly upon physical substance. In contrast to these, there are others which assume that thoughts, feelings, and so forth, are simply the products of the processes that take place in physical substance. The dispute between these two world-conceptions has through long periods of time played an important role in the outside world, but not in the field of occultism, in which it is considered a dispute over empty words.
Since no ultimate agreement was reached, there has appeared during more recent times still another conception bearing the strange name of “psychologic-physical parallelism.” If I were to express it rather trivially I might say that since the disputants had no longer any other resource, not knowing whether spirit works upon the processes of the physical body or whether these bodily processes influence the spirit, they concluded that there are two processes running parallel courses. They argued: at the same time that man thinks, feels and so forth, certain definite parallel processes are taking place in his physical organism. The perception, “I see red,” would according to this correspond to some sort of material process. But they do not go any further than to say that it “corresponds.” Indeed, this is a mere expedient which leads them out of all their difficulties, but only in the sense that it sets these aside, not that it overcomes them. All the disputes that have arisen on this basis, including the futility of the psychologic-physical parallelism, result from the fact that people insist upon deciding these questions on a basis upon which they simply cannot be decided. We have to do with non-material processes when we consider the activities of our soul-life as inner life; and we have to do with material processes when we centre our attention upon the blood, the most highly organised thing in us. If we simply compare these two things, physical activities and soul-activities, and then seek by means of reflection to find out how each of them works upon the other, we shall not arrive anywhere. Through reflection one may find all sorts of arbitrary solutions or non-solutions. The only way to determine anything in regard to these questions is actually to establish a higher knowledge. This does not limit itself either to viewing the outer world with the physical senses or to thought that is bound up with a merely physical external world, but elevates itself to a certain extent to what leads beyond the physical, and likewise to that which leads into the super-physical world from our own inner soul-life which indeed we experience in the physical world. We must ascend, on the one hand, from the material to the super-sensible, the super-material. On the other hand, we must ascend also from our soul-life to the super-physical, that is, to that which lies at the basis of our soul-life in the superphysical world; for our soul-life, with all its feelings, etc., is, of course, something that we experience in the physical world. We must, accordingly, ascend from both sides to a super-physical world.
Now, in order to ascend from the material side to the super-physical world, those soul-exercises are necessary which enable man to look behind the external, the sensible, behind that veil, of which I spoke yesterday, into which are woven our sense-impressions. Moreover, such sense-impressions as these we also have before us, of course, when we observe the whole external organism of man. And when we descend to the very finest element of the human organism, to the blood, we are, nevertheless, dealing with a merely physical-sensible thing when we observe it, at first, with the physical senses, or at least with the instruments and methods of external science, which give us just such a picture of the blood as would an external eye if it could see this blood directly.
We have said, then, that with the help of such soul-exercises as lead up into the super-sensible world, we can penetrate into the foundations of the physical world, into the super-sensible element in the human organism. In doing this, the first super-sensible thing we meet in this human organism is what we call the ether-body. This ether-body (and we shall describe it still more accurately from the standpoint of occult physiology) is a super-sensible organisation, which we first think of simply as the super-sensible basic substance out of which the sensible or physical organism of man is constructed, and of which it is a copy. Of course the blood is also an impress or copy of this ether-body. Thus we have already at this point, by coming only one stage beyond the sense-organism, something super-sensible in the human ether-body, and the question now arises: are we able to approach this super-sensible also from the other side, from the side of the soul-life, from what we experience in the sensations, thoughts and feelings that we build up on the basis of our impressions of the outside world?
We have already seen that we cannot approach the physical organism directly, for the physical and material place themselves in our way. Can we approach the ether-organism? It is clear that we cannot approach it as directly as we can our soul-life. When we are at work in our soul what at first happens is that we receive external impressions. The outside world acts upon our senses, and we then work over the external impressions in our soul. But we do more than that, we store up, so to speak, these impressions which we have received. Just think for a moment about the simple phenomenon of memory, when you recall something that you experienced, perhaps years ago. At that time, on the basis of external perceptions, certain impressions took form, which you then worked over, and which you draw up to-day out of the depths of your soul, and to-day there comes to you the memory, it may be something quite simple: the memory of a tree, let us say, or an odour. Here you have stored up something in your soul which could remain yours from the external impression and the elaboration of it in your soul, something that can form in you the recollection.
We now find, however, through observation of the soul-life attained through exercises of the soul, that in the moment when we have developed our soul-life far enough to be able to store up mental pictures in the memory we are not working with our soul experiences only in our ego. We first confront the outside world with our ego, take impressions from it into our ego, and work these over in our astral body. But, were we to work them over only in the astral body, we should straightway forget them. When we draw conclusions we are at work in our astral bodies; but when we fix impressions within us so firmly that, after some little time has passed, or indeed after only a few minutes, we can again recall them, we have stamped upon our ether-body these impressions received through our ego and worked over in our astral body. In these memory-pictures, accordingly, we have drawn out of our ego down into our ether-body that which we have lived over inwardly as activity of soul in our contact with the outer world. Now, if we have something which impresses upon the ether-body our memory-pictures taken, as it were, from the soul, and if from the other side we recognise the ether-body as that super-sensible expression of our organism which is nearest to the physical, the question then arises: How does this impressing come about? In other words, when the human being works over external impressions, makes them into memory-pictures, and in doing so thrusts them into his ether-body, how does it happen that he does actually bring down into the ether-body what the astral body has first worked over and what now presses against the ether-body? How does he transfer it?
This transfer takes place in a very remarkable way. If we observe the blood — let us now imagine ourselves within the human ether-body — quite schematically as it courses through the heart, and think of it as the external physical expression of the human ego, we thereby see how this ego works, how it receives impressions corresponding with the outer world and condenses these to memory-pictures. We see, furthermore, not only that our blood is active in this process, but also that, throughout its course, especially in the upward direction, somewhat less in the downward, it stirs up the ether-body, so that we see currents developing everywhere in the ether-body, taking a very definite course, as if they would join the blood flowing upward from the heart and go up to the head. And in the head these currents come together, in about the same way, to use a comparison belonging to the external world, as do currents of electricity when they rush toward a point which is opposed by another point, so as to neutralise the positive and the negative. When we observe with a soul trained in occult methods, we see at this point ether-forces compressed as if under a very powerful tension, those ether-forces which are called forth through the impressions that now desire to become definite concepts, memory-pictures, and to stamp themselves upon the ether-body.
 Diagram 15
Diagram 15
 
I shall, therefore, draw here the last out-streamings of these ether-currents, as they flow up toward, the brain, and show their crowding together somewhat as this would actually appear. We see here a very powerful tension which concentrates at one point, and announces: “I will now enter into the ether-body!” just as when positive and negative electricity are impelled to neutralise each other. We then see how, in opposition to these, other currents flow from that portion of the ether-body which belongs to the rest of the bodily organisation. These currents go out for the most part from the lower part of the breast, but also from the lymph vessels and other organs, and come together in such a way that they oppose these other currents. Thus we have in the brain, whenever a memory-picture wishes to form itself, two ether-currents, one coming from below and one from above, which oppose each other under the greatest possible tension, just as two electric currents oppose each other. If a balance is brought about between these two currents, then a concept has become a memory-picture and has incorporated itself in the ether-body.
Such super-sensible currents in the human organism always express themselves by creating for themselves also a physical sense-organ, which we must first look upon as a sense-manifestation. Thus we have within us an organ, situated in the centre of the brain, which is the physical sense-expression for that which wishes to take the form of a memory-picture; and opposite to this is situated still another organ in the brain. These two organs in the human brain are the physical-sensible expression of the two currents in the human ether-body; they are, one might say, something like the ultimate indication of the fact that there are such currents in the ether-body. These currents condense themselves with such force that they seize the human bodily substance and consolidate it into these organs. We thus actually get an impression of bright etheric light-currents streaming across from the one to the other of these organs, and pouring themselves out over the human ether-body. These organs are actually present in the human organism. One of them is the pineal gland; the other, the so-called pituitary body: the “epiphysis” and the “hypophysis” respectively. We have here, at a definite point in the human physical organism, the external physical expression of the co-operation of soul and body!
 Diagram 16
Diagram 16
 
This is what I wished in the first place to give you by way of general principles. With this we conclude to-day's lecture, and to-morrow we will continue our discussion further and find yet more to add to it. It is always important to hold firmly and clearly to the thought that we can always investigate the super-sensible, and can ask ourselves whether the physical expression of the super-sensible world that we should expect to find is actually present. We see. here that these sense-expressions of the super-sensible actually do exist. Since we have here, however, a question of an entrance gate from the sense-world to the super-sensible, you will understand that these two organs are in the highest degree puzzling to physical science, and you will, therefore, be able to get from external science only inadequate information with regard to them.

Notes:
1.  How May Theosophy Be Refuted? delivered 19th March, 1911. Not published in English.
2.  For a fuller explanation of the terms translated in these Lectures as secretion and excretion. see note on p. 79.





Thursday, December 14, 2017

Acanemia: parched, dried-up little professors


"Be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh."  ~ Ecclesiastes 12:12



Rudolf Steiner:

As human beings we really live, as it were, throughout the day in a kind of autumn and winter mood. Indeed, the soul's summer mood only exists when the soul is asleep, and the sleeping human body, the physical and the etheric body, is like a plant. And the I and astral body outside shed their rays upon the physical and etheric body like the Sun and the stars, and they call into life again the forces destroyed during the day; vegetable life begins to grow. And the day's thinking activity exists in order to eliminate what the night calls forth as growing life.

When we wake up, we lightly pass over our whole plantlike existence, just like autumn over the plants of the Earth. And when we are awake during the day, we do what winter does to the vegetation of the Earth by destroying in our physical and etheric body the budding, growing life produced at night in the soul's summer time when we are asleep. From this standpoint, it can easily be grasped why people who do not bring at least something of their soul's summer into their waking daytime life dry up so easily. Parched, dried-up little professors are people who do not like to absorb things which are not fully conscious. They do not like to take in anything of the soul's summer seasons. Consequently they dry up; they acquire a pronounced winter character.






Everlasting Love


The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.  ~ Jeremiah 31:3





At-one-ment

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sonburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity

You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Twining Eternally
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity
Radiant Calvary
Ultimate Mystery









The Human Being as the Prodigal Son. Spleen = Saturn. Chronos Devours His Children.


Occult Physiology. Lecture 3 of 8.

Rudolf Steiner, Prague, March 22, 1911:


These first three lectures, including today's, are intended to orient us in a general way in regard to what must be considered in connection with the life of man, with his true being. For this reason some of the more important concepts first given out are, in a sense, left hanging in the air, since their more detailed exposition will have to follow later. But it is better to make a general survey of the whole method of occult observation of the human being and afterwards to build into our study, which for the present we accept only as hypothetical, that which will then appear to us as its deeper foundations.
I have already dwelt upon one matter, at the close of yesterday's lecture. I there endeavoured to show that, by means of certain soul-exercises, by means of strict concentration of thought and feeling, the human being can call forth a state of life different from the ordinary one. The ordinary state expresses itself as it does because in our fully waking day consciousness, we have a normal connection between the nerves and the blood. That which happens by way of the nerves inscribes itself upon the tablet of the blood. By means of soul-exercises, a man may reach the point where he can so completely control the nerve that it does not extend its activity as far as the blood. This activity is thrown back into the nerve itself. But now, because the blood is the instrument of the ego, a person who does this, who has freed his nerve-system from the course of the blood through strict concentration of feeling and thought, feels as if he were estranged from his own accustomed being, lifted out of it. He feels as if he now stood facing himself, with the result that he can no longer say to this familiar being of his, “This is I”; he must say, “That is you.” Thus he stands facing his own Self just as he might face any unfamiliar person living in the physical world.
A man like this, who has become in a certain sense clairvoyant, feels as if a higher order of being were towering up in his soul-life. This is an entirely different feeling from that which a man has when he confronts the ordinary world. When he confronts the external world, he feels that he stands as a stranger facing the things and beings of this external world, the animals, the plants, etc. — as a being who stands beside them or outside them. He knows quite definitely when he has a flower before him: “The flower is there, and I am here.” It is otherwise when, as a result of the liberation from his nerve-system, he ascends into the spiritual world, when he lifts himself out of his ego. He does not any longer feel in that case: “There is the plant-being that faces me, and here am I,” but rather as if the other being entered completely into him, and as if he felt himself one with it. Thus we may say that the clairvoyant human being learns, through advanced power of observation, to know the spiritual world — that spiritual world with which man is, indeed, united and which to a certain extent, comes to meet him by way of the nerve-system, even though in normal life this occurs by the indirect road of the sense-impressions. It is the spiritual world, therefore, about which the human being in his ordinary consciousness at first knows nothing, and it is this same spiritual world which, nevertheless, actually inscribes itself upon the tablet of our blood, hence upon our ego. In other words, we may say that underlying everything that surrounds us externally in the world of sense there lies a spiritual world, so that we see as though through a veil woven by the sense-impressions. In our normal consciousness, which is compassed by the horizon of our ordinary ego, we do not see the spiritual world lying behind this veil. The moment, however, that we free ourselves of the ego, the ordinary sense-impressions disappear also. We then begin to live in a spiritual world above us, that same world that exists in reality behind the sense-impressions, and with which we become one when we lift our nerve-system out of our ordinary blood-system.
We have now followed in a manner the process of human life, how it is stimulated from the external world and how it carries on its work through the nerves and the blood. At the same time, we have called attention to the fact that we can see in the purely organic, physical inner life of man a kind of “compressed outside world”; and we have pointed in particular to the fact that such an outside world, condensed into organs, is present in our liver, our gall-bladder, and our spleen. We may say, therefore, that just as the blood in the one direction, in the upper extremity of our organism, courses through the brain in order there to come into contact with the outside world (this takes place by reason of the fact that the external sense-impressions work upon the brain) just so, as it circulates through the body, does it come into relationship with the inner organs among which we have first considered the liver, the gall-bladder, and the spleen. The blood does not in these organs come into contact with any sort of outside world because they do not open outward as do the organs of sense, but are enclosed within the organism, are covered on all sides and consequently develop only an inner life. Moreover, these organs can act upon the blood only in accordance with their own nature as liver, gall-bladder, spleen. They do not, like the eye or the ear, receive outside impressions, and they cannot, therefore, pass on to the blood influences stimulated from outside, but can simply express their own particular natures through whatever effect these may have upon the blood. When we observe this inner world into which the outside world is condensed, as it were, we may state that here an outer world which has become an inner world acts upon the human blood where it can act at all.
Diagram 10
Diagram 10
Click image for large view
If we draw a sketch of this, and represent the tablet of the blood by the line A B, we have to represent everything which comes from outside as now directed in a certain sense inward, and pressing from the one direction against the tablet of the blood, while being, as it were, inscribed upon one side of the tablet, whereas everything coming from the inside we have to think of as approaching from the other direction and inscribing itself on the other side of the tablet. Or doing it less schematically, we might then take the human head and observe the blood as it courses through this in such a way that we say: “It is being written upon from outside through the sense-organs; and the brain, in performing its task, has the same sort of transforming influence upon the blood as the inner organs have.” For these three organs, the liver, the gall-bladder and the spleen, work, as we know, from the opposite direction, from the other side, upon the blood flowing into them. Thus it would seem that the blood may be able to receive radiations and influences from the inner organs, and by this means, supposing this to be possible, it can, as the instrument of the ego, bring to expression in this ego the inner life of these organs, just as everything which surrounds us in the world outside finds expression in the life of our brain.
Diagram 11
Diagram 11
At this point we must understand clearly, that something else very definite must happen to make possible the action of these organs upon the blood. Let us remember that we had to assert that only through the reciprocal activity, through the connection between the nerve and the course of the blood, can there be any possibility whatever that anything will be inscribed upon the blood, that any influence can be exercised upon it. If therefore from the other direction, from the inner side, influences are to be exercised upon the blood, if the inner organs, or what we may call man's inner cosmic system, are to work upon the blood, there must be inserted between these organs and the blood something similar to a nerve-system. The “inner world” must first be able to act upon a nerve-system if it is to carry its activity over to the blood. Thus we see, by simply comparing the lower portion of the human being with the upper, that we are forced to presuppose that something in the nature of a nerve-system must be inserted between the circulating blood and our inner organs — among which we have here these three representative ones, the liver, the gallbladder, and the spleen.
External observation shows us that this really is the case, that in all these organs is inserted what is called the “sympathetic nervous system” which extends throughout the bodily cavity of man, and which stands in a relationship to his inner world and to the course of the blood similar to that in which the nervous system of the spinal cord stands to the great outside world and to the life of man, to the circulation of his blood. This sympathetic nervous system passes first along the spine and, going out from there, traverses the most widely separated parts of the organism and branches out, spreading into reticular forms, especially in the abdominal cavity, where one part of it goes by the popular name of the “solar plexus.” We may expect to find a certain variation of this system from the other nerve-system. It is always interesting, even if it should not serve as any proof, to ask ourselves: What would be the relation between this nerve-system and the nerve-system of the spinal cord if those conditions should be fulfilled which we have for the present asserted hypothetically? It would be obvious that, just as the nerve-system of the spinal cord must open itself to surrounding space, so would this sympathetic nerve-system have to incline toward what is compressed into the inner organisation. Thus the nerve-system of the spinal cord is related to the sympathetic nerve-system, that is, if the facts agree with our presuppositions, somewhat as lines radiating outward in all directions from the circumference of a circle (a) would be related to those radii that we might direct away from the centre of the circle toward its circumference (b). In a certain sense, therefore, there would have to be an antithesis between the sympathetic nerve-system and the nerve-system of the brain and spinal cord. This antithesis actually does exist. We see here that it may be of great value to us to be able to point to the fact that, if our assumptions are correct, experience and observation will in a manner confirm them. And, when we turn our attention again to what we have been observing, it is evident that external observation does confirm the suppositions we have formed. We find that, whereas in the case of the sympathetic nerve-system the essential thing is that ganglia of a certain kind form themselves which are strong and large, while the connecting filaments radiating out from these are relatively small and of little account in contrast to these ganglia, exactly the reverse is true in the case of the nerve-system of the brain and spinal cord. There the connecting threads are the important thing, whereas the ganglia have a subordinate significance.
Diagram 12
Diagram 12
Thus our observation does, in fact, confirm what we accepted as a supposition, and we can now make the following assertion. If the function of the sympathetic nerve-system must consist in carrying over to the blood the inner life of the human organism, which expresses itself in the nourishing and the warming through of the organism, and which pours itself into the sympathetic nerves, in exactly the same way in which the outer impressions are carried over to the tablet of the blood by means of the nerve-system of the brain and spinal cord, in that case we obtain through the instrument of the ego, which is the blood, by the roundabout way of the sympathetic nerve-system, the impressions of our own inner body. Since however this inner body of ours, like everything physical, is built up out of the spirit, we therefore take up into our ego, by the roundabout road of the sympathetic nerve-system, what has been condensed as spiritual world into the corresponding organs of the inner world of man.
Thus we see here also, strangely enough, how that duality in the human being with which we began our studies is expressed in even greater exactness. We see the world at one moment outside; at another moment we see it inside. Both times we see this world working in such a way that it uses a nerve-system as the instrument of its work. We see that in the centre, between the outside world and the inside world, is placed our blood-system which exposes its two sides, to be written upon like a tablet, sometimes from outside, sometimes from inside.
We said yesterday and repeat to-day for the sake of clarity, that the human being is in position to free his nerves, in so far as these lead to the outside world, from their action upon the blood-system. We must now put the question, whether something similar is possible also in the other direction. And we shall see later that it is possible, as a matter of fact, to practise also other exercises of the soul that are capable of producing in the other direction the same effect as that of which we have spoken. There is one difference, however, in connection with the effect produced in this other direction. Whereas we are able through concentration of thought, concentration of feeling, and occult exercises, to set free from the blood the nerves of our brain and spinal cord, we are able, on the other hand, by means of such concentrations as go right down into our inner life, our inner world — by which is meant in particular that sort of concentration included under the term “the mystical life,” — to penetrate so deep down within ourselves that in doing so we most certainly do not ignore our ego, nor therefore its instrument the blood. The mystical immersion, concerning which we know that by its means a man plunges down, so to speak, into his own divine being, into his own spirituality in so far as this is alive in him, this mystical immersion is not primarily a lifting of oneself out of the ego. It is rather a positive plunging of oneself down into the ego, a strengthening or energising of the ego-feeling. We can convince ourselves of this if we set aside what the mystics of the present day may say, and consider to some extent the earlier mystics.
These earlier mystics, whether they had for their foundation more of reality or less matters not, endeavored, above all things, to penetrate into their own ego and to look away from everything which the outside world could offer, in order to be free from all external impressions and to plunge down completely into themselves. This inward self-communion, this diving down into one's own ego, is primarily a concentration or drawing down of the entire force and energy of the ego into one's own organism. This now works further upon the entire organisation of the human being; and we may say that this inward immersion, which may be called in the true sense of the term the “mystic path,” is in direct contrast to that other path leading out into the macrocosm, so that we do not draw the instrument of the ego, which is the blood, away from the nerve, but on the contrary thrust it more than ever against the sympathetic nerve-system. Whereas, therefore, we loosen by means of the process described yesterday the connection between the nerve and the blood, we here strengthen the connection between the blood and the sympathetic nerve-system by means of true mystic immersion.
This is the physiological counterpart: that the blood is here pressed in more than ever against the sympathetic nerve-system whereas, when the wish is to reach the spiritual world in the other way, the blood is pushed away from the nerve. Thus we see that what can take place in the mystic immersion is primarily an impressing of the blood upon this inner, sympathetic nerve-system.
Now, let us suppose that we might disregard what happens when a man thus enters into his inner being, when he does not free himself from his ego, but presses down, on the contrary, into the ego, and takes with him at the same time all his less desirable qualities. For when a man frees himself from his ego he leaves the ego behind with all these less desirable qualities; but when he immerses himself into his ego it is not at all certain, to begin with, that he does not at the same time press down all his undesirable characteristics into this energised ego of his: in other words, that everything contained in his passionate blood is not pressed down with the blood into the sympathetic nerve-system. But let us suppose that we might for the time being disregard all this, and assume that the mystic has taken care, before coming to any such mystic immersion, that his less desirable qualities shall have disappeared more and more and that, in place of these egoistic qualities, selfless, altruistic feelings have appeared; that he has prepared himself by endeavouring to bring to life within himself a feeling of compassion for all things possessed of being to the end that, by means of the selfless qualities that have thus been called forth for all beings, he may paralyse these other qualities that take account only of the ego. Let us suppose, then, that the man has prepared himself sufficiently for this immersion within his own inner being. He carries his ego in that case by means of the instrument of his blood down into his own inner world. It then comes to pass that his inner nerve-system, the sympathetic nerve-system, about which the human being in his normal consciousness knows nothing, presses its way into the ego-consciousness, so that he begins to know: “I have within me something which can mediate to me the inner world in the same way that the other nerve-system mediates to me the outer world.”
Thus man descends into his own being and becomes aware, so to speak, of his sympathetic nerve-system. And just as he can know, by means of the outer nerve-system of the brain and spinal cord, the outside world that forms his environment, so there now comes to meet him that inner world which has built itself up within him. Moreover, just as we do not see the nerves, since no one sees the optic nerve, but rather that which is to be seen by means of the nerve, the external world that penetrates into our consciousness, just so also in the case of the mystic immersion it is not, to begin with, the inner nerves that penetrate the consciousness, for the human being is aware only that he has in these an instrument through which he can behold what is within him. It is indeed, something quite different that appears. Now that he has brought his faculty of cognition to an inward clairvoyance, his inner world appears before him. Just as the outward-directed look discloses to us the outer world, and our nerves do not in the process come into our consciousness, so likewise it is not our sympathetic nerve-system that comes into our consciousness, but obviously that which confronts us as “inner world.” Only, this inner world which here comes into our consciousness is really our own Self as physical man.
Perhaps it is not so much to the point here, but I should feel inclined to suggest that a thinker who is the least materialistic might, indeed, sense a feeling of horror rising up within him if he were to say to himself: “In that case I can see my own organism inside me!” And what he might mean, perhaps, would be: “How wonderful, to become clairvoyant by means of my sympathetic nerve-system and to be able to see my own liver, gall-bladder, and spleen!” As I remarked, this is not necessarily to the point, yet someone might say such a thing. But the facts are otherwise. For, in making an objection like this, such a person would fail to take into account that what the human being ordinarily calls in external life his liver, his gall-bladder, and his spleen is viewed from outside, just like all other external objects. In ordinary life we are obliged to view the human organism through the external senses, the outer nerves. What we may learn to know in anatomy, in the usual physiology, as liver, gall-bladder, and spleen constitutes these organs as seen from outside by means of the nerve-system of the brain and spinal cord. There they are viewed in exactly the same way in which one views anything externally. The position is entirely different, however, when a man can see clairvoyantly inside himself by means of the sympathetic nerve-system. He does not in that case see at all the same things that one sees when looking from outside; rather, he now sees something which caused the seers throughout the ages to choose such strange names as those I cited in the second lecture.
He is now aware that in reality, to external sight which uses the brain and the spinal cord, these organs appear in Maya, in external illusion, because the aspect they offer outwardly does not show them in their inner essential significance. He sees, in fact, something entirely different when he is able to observe this his inner world from the opposite direction, but now with the use of an inwardly clairvoyant eye. He now gradually realises why the seers of all times connected the activity of the spleen with the action of Saturn, the activity of the liver with the action of Jupiter, and the activity of the gallbladder with the action of Mars. For what he thus sees in his own inner self is, indeed, fundamentally different from what presents itself to the external view. He becomes aware that he actually has before him portions of the outside world enclosed within the boundaries of his inner organs.
And one thing now becomes particularly clear, which may serve us chiefly as an example for this method of arriving at knowledge, enabling us to see what course these ways of attaining knowledge follow in the life of the organism, in leading us beyond the customary views. In this case we can convince ourselves especially with regard to one fact, namely, how very significant an organ the human spleen is. Indeed, this organ really appears to inner observation as if it did not consist of an externally visible substance, of fleshly matter, but rather, if the expression may be permitted, although it approximates only to what can actually be observed, as if it actually were a luminous cosmic body in miniature with every possible sort of inner life, and indeed an inner life highly complicated.
Yesterday I called your attention to the fact that the spleen, externally observed, may be described as a plethoric tissue with minute white corpuscles embedded in it, so that it is legitimate, perhaps, from the point of view of external observation, to assume that the blood which flows through the spleen is strained through it as if through a sieve. When this spleen is observed inwardly, on the other hand, it appears above all to be an organ which, by means of the manifold inner forces already mentioned, is brought into a continual rhythmic movement. We convince ourselves even in connection with such an organ as this that a very great deal in the world is, as a matter of fact, dependent upon rhythm. An intimation of the importance of rhythm in the entire life of the world may be felt when we recognise it also externally in the pulse-beat of the blood. In that case, however, it is externally that we recognise it. But we can follow it externally also in the spleen. For it is possible here to follow it rather exactly, and we can also look for confirmation of what has been said through external observation. To inward clairvoyant sight all the differentiations of the spleen, which take place as if in a luminous body, are there in order to give this spleen a certain rhythm in life. This rhythm differs very considerably from other rhythms that we perceive elsewhere in life. Indeed it is just here, in the case of the spleen, that it is interesting to observe how very noticeably this rhythm differs from others: that is, it is far less regular than the other rhythms of which we shall speak later. This is due to the fact that the spleen lies near the human nutritive apparatus, and has something to do with this.
Now, you will be able to understand me if you consider how amazingly regular the rhythm of the blood must be in the human being in order that life may be properly sustained. This must be a very regular rhythm. But there is another rhythm that is regular only to a very slight degree — although one could wish that, through self-education of the human being, it might become more and more regular especially in the life of the child — namely, the rhythm of eating and drinking. Any man of moderately regular habits does, to be sure, keep a certain rhythm in this respect. He takes his breakfast, his midday meal, and his evening meal at certain times, and by doing so he follows, of course, a certain rhythm. But we know, alas, how it is with this rhythm in many another respect, through the humouring of the fastidiousness of many children who are simply given a thing whenever they crave it, regardless of all rhythm. Moreover, the fact that adults also are not very particular in observing a regular rhythm in connection with eating and drinking — there is not the slightest intention here of giving pedantic instruction in this matter, for our modern life does not always allow of rhythm — the fact that we fill ourselves with external nourishment with such irregularity, and that in our drinking especially we are so irregular, is sufficiently well known and need not be criticised but only mentioned. Yet, on the other hand, that which we supply to our organism with such imperfect rhythm must gradually be changed in rhythm so that it will adapt itself to the more regular rhythm of this organism, it must be adapted, as it were. The grossest irregularity must be removed, and something like the following must come about. Let us suppose that, in order to regulate his daily schedule, a man is compelled to breakfast at eight o'clock in the morning and to eat again at one or two o'clock and assume that this has become a habit. Now, suppose that he should go to see a friend, and that while there he should be invited, through a courtesy which cannot in general be too highly praised, to take something between these two meals. In this case he has interrupted his rhythm to a very decided extent, and thereby a certain positive influence is exerted upon the rhythm of his external organism.
Now there must be something able to strengthen correspondingly whatever is regular in rhythm in the supplying of external nourishment and to weaken the influence of whatever is irregularly introduced. The worst irregularities must be counterbalanced. Accordingly somewhere along the course taken by the food as it goes over into the rhythm of the blood, there must be inserted an organ that equalises the irregularity of the process of nourishment in contrast with the necessary regularity of the rhythm of the blood. This organ is the spleen. Thus, by observing certain very definite rhythmic processes brought about by the spleen we are able to get an idea of the fact that the spleen is really a “transformer.” [ 1 ] It is there to counterbalance the irregularities in the digestive canal in order that they may become regularities in the circulation of the blood. For it would be fatal, especially in one's student days but also at other times, if certain irregularities in the taking of nutritive matter had necessarily to continue to the full extent of their action into the blood! There is much to be counterbalanced by means of a “backward thrust,” as we may call it; only so much is to be conducted over into the blood as is useful to it. This is the function of the spleen, that organ inserted in the blood-stream which so radiates its rhythm-bringing influence over the entire human organism as to produce the condition that has just been described. To external observation, all that we have obtained through the insight of an eye becoming inwardly clairvoyant is evident from the fact that the spleen does keep to a certain rhythm that actually reminds one, even if only slightly, of what I have just been stating. For it is extraordinarily difficult to find out the functions of the spleen by means of external physiological investigation. Outwardly, the only thing that shows itself is that the spleen is to a certain extent inflated for hours at a time after the partaking of a heavy meal; and that, if another meal does not follow, it contracts again.
Here you have a certain expanding and contracting of this organ. When it is realised that the human organism is not what it is often described as being, namely, a mere sum-total of the organs contained within it, but that all the organs send their most secret activities to all parts of the organism, one will then be able also to conceive how the rhythmic movements of the spleen, although dependent, of course, upon the outside world, that is, upon the supply of food, radiate throughout the whole organism and have a counterbalancing influence upon it. Now this is only one of the ways in which the spleen functions. It is impossible to explain all of them at once. Yet it would nevertheless, be extraordinarily interesting, since not everybody is capable of becoming clairvoyant, if such facts could be accepted by external physiology, accepted, let us say, as possible ideas, so that people would say: “I will for once imagine that what is attained by means of the inner clairvoyant eye is, after all, not such complete nonsense as it is often supposed to be. On the contrary, I shall neither believe nor disbelieve this; but I shall let it remain as an idea presented to me, and shall then investigate what external physiology can point out, whether, out of all that is asserted by occultists, anything whatever can be substantiated by showing clearly that it is actually confirmed by external observation.” [ 2 ]
In a certain sense, what I have just said is such a confirmation. For it has become evident to us that the expansion and contraction of the spleen, due to the inner structure of the organ, have a certain regularity; but that, since these movements follow the eating of a meal, they are dependent also on the supply of external nourishment. Thus we have here in the spleen an organ which is dependent from the one aspect, that of the digestive canal, on external, human will; but from the other aspect, that of the blood, we have in it an organ that sets aside to a certain extent human choice, rejects it, and leads back to a rhythm, indeed, we might say, in this way really forms man in accordance with his being. For, if man is to be fashioned in accordance with his being, it is then especially necessary that the central instrument of that being, the blood, should be able to exercise its activity in the right way, in its own blood-rhythm. The human being, in so far as he is the carrier of his own blood-stream, must be set apart, so to speak, within himself, isolated from what proceeds with irregularity in the outside world, that outside world which he incorporates within himself when he takes in his nourishment out of it. Hence this is a process of isolation, a making the human being independent of the outside world. Every such individualising of any being, making it independent, is called in occultism saturnine, something brought about by the Saturn influence. This, as a matter of fact is the original idea associated with Saturn, that from an existing world some sort of Being is isolated, individualised, in such a way that within itself and of itself it can evolve regularity.
I shall for the present disregard the fact that the astronomy of our day reckons both Uranus and Neptune, which are outside the orbit of Saturn, as belonging to our solar system. For the occultist all those forces present in our entire solar system are, for the purpose of isolating them from the rest of the cosmos and individualising them, to be found in the Saturn forces — in that planet therefore, which is the most remote one belonging to this system. If, then, we visualise the entire solar system, we might say: The solar system must be so placed that it can follow its own laws within the orbit of encircling Saturn, and can make itself independent by tearing itself loose, as it were, from the surrounding world and from the formative forces of this surrounding world. For this reason occultists of all the ages have seen in the Saturn forces that which secludes our solar system within itself, thus making it possible for the solar system to develop a rhythm of its own which is not the same as the rhythm outside the world of our solar system.
In a certain way the spleen does something similar within our organism. Certainly we do not in this organism of ours have to do with a separating from the entire outside world, but only with a separating from this surrounding world in so far as it contains the nourishment for our organism and we ourselves introduce its activities into ourselves. The spleen is the organ we first meet when we do this, dealing, so to speak, with everything from outside in the same way as the Saturn forces deal with everything within our solar system, within the orbit of Saturn. The forces that are in the spleen isolate the circulation of our blood from all outside influences, and make of it a regular rhythm within itself, a system having its own rhythm.
Here we have already come nearer, although we are not yet really near as we shall see later, to those reasons, still more or less external, for which such names as the ones already mentioned are chosen in occultism. They are chosen because the occultist does not connect with the names borne by the planets merely what concerns the planets. When these names were originally created in the occult schools they were never applied merely to the separate planets; the name Saturn, for instance, was applied to anything that excluded a world outside from a system that took on a rhythmic form within itself. There is always a certain disadvantage for cosmic evolution, as a whole, when one system shuts itself off and regulates itself within itself, fashions a rhythm of its own. And the occultists have, consequently, been somewhat concerned about this disadvantage. We might say, indeed, that it is quite comprehensible that all activities in the entire universe have a basic inner relation and are mutually related. If any one “world,” be it a solar system, or be it the blood-system of the human being, is completely separated from the rest of the universe surrounding it, this signifies that it quite independently violates external laws, makes itself independent of them, changes itself and creates its own inner laws, its own rhythm. We shall see later how this may also be true in the case of the human being although it must be clear to us, in view of the whole discussion in to-day's lecture, that it is mostly a blessing that man maintains this inner Saturn-rhythm which the spleen has created for him. At the same time we shall see that we can apply this law also in the case of man, namely, that any being, whether it be a planet or a man, brings itself through seclusion within itself into a state of contradiction to the world around it. A contradiction is thus created between that which surrounds and that which is within the being concerned. This contradiction cannot be compensated for, after it has once appeared, until the inner rhythm set up has again adapted itself completely to the outer rhythm. We shall see that this applies also to the human being; for otherwise, according to what has been said, he would be compelled to adapt himself to irregularity. We shall find, however, that such is not the case. The inner rhythm, although it has established itself, must again strive after doing this to fashion itself in accordance with the entire outside world, which means that it must eliminate itself. Thus the being first comes to have an inner existence of its own; but, because it can now work independently, it aspires to adapt itself to the outside world and to become harmonious with it. To put it in other words, everything that has made itself independent as a result of a saturnine activity is doomed at the same time, because of this saturnine activity, to destroy itself again. Saturn, or Kronos, devours his own children, so the myth tells us. Here you see a deeply significant harmony between an occult idea, expressed in the name Kronos or Saturn, and a myth which expresses the same thing in a picture, a symbol: “Kronos devours his own children!”
We can try, at least, to let such things work upon us; and, if we allow them to do so in ever-increasing number, one new fact after another comes to light till it becomes impossible after a time to say, in the light and easy manner in which we so often hear a superficial solution proposed: “Here are some of these visionaries dreaming that the old myths and sagas contained the pictorial impress of a deeper wisdom!” If a man hears two or three, or let us say even ten, such “correspondences” presented, as these so often are presented in literature in a wholly superficial way, it is of course quite possible for him to oppose the idea that there is a deeper wisdom contained in the myths and sagas than in external science; that mythology leads us deeper into the foundations of things and of Being than do the methods of natural-scientific study. But if he allows such examples to work upon him again and again, and then becomes aware that, throughout the whole extent of the thought and feeling of men and of peoples, it is verified that in pictorial conceptions everywhere and always, over all parts of the earth, anyone with a very accurate observation and devoted interest in sagas and myths may find the metamorphoses of a deeper wisdom, then he will be able to understand why certain occultists can with justice say as they do: “He alone really comprehends the myths and sagas who has penetrated into human nature with the help of occult physiology.” And, indeed, more truly than is the case in external science do even the names in these myths and sagas and other traditions contain real physiology. When once people begin to fathom how much physiology was coined, for instance, in such names as Cain and Abel, and into the names of all their successors in those olden days when it was customary to coin an inner meaning into names, when they once see how much physiology, how much inner understanding for homely human wisdom is contained in those old names in a truly remarkable way, they will then win a tremendous respect and the deepest reverence for everything that has been devised in the course of the historical evolution of man for the purpose of enabling the soul, where it cannot as yet through its own wisdom ascend into the spiritual world, to have a conscious inner experience by means of pictures of its connection with these spiritual worlds. Then will be completely banished that idea which plays too large a part at the present time: “What splendid progress we men of to-day have made!” by which is often also meant: “How well we have succeeded in getting rid of those old pictorial expressions belonging to prehistoric ‘wisdom’!” We shall then cast away such feelings, and immerse ourselves with whole-hearted devotion in the course of human evolution throughout its successive epochs. For what the clairvoyant, with his opened inner eye, establishes physiologically as the inner nature of the human organs, is so expressed in these ancient pictures that the myths and sagas really contain in them the truth of the origin of man. To make possible the expression in pictures of this miraculous process, whereby external worlds have been compressed into human organs and have condensed and crystallised themselves in the course of infinitely long periods of time in order that they might become something which, in the form of a spleen for example, brings about an inner rhythm within us, or in the form of a liver or gall-bladder, etc., as we shall see tomorrow — to be able to express all this in pictures requires a divining of what we, by means of occult science, can re-establish from the human organisation. For what we find there has been born out of the worlds, as a microcosm out of the macrocosm. We look into this whole origin or beginning with the help of occult science on the one hand; and we see on the other that intimations of these beginnings are contained in the myths and sagas, and that those occultists are right who find a real meaning in them only when they are given a physiological foundation.
It is our purpose to-day at least to indicate these facts, if no more; for this can help us to win that reverence of which we spoke in our first hours together. If we practise such a method of study as this, quite apart now from the “pictures” belonging to the different peoples, by also directly pointing to what presents itself to a deeper investigation of the spiritual content of the human organs, if we are able to present this even only to a very limited extent, it will soon become clear to us what a miraculous structure this human organism is. In this series of lectures we shall endeavour to throw a little light upon the inner quality of being of this human organism.


Notes:
1.  Figure taken from the electrical device which transforms the character of the current.
2.  See in this connection Philo and physikalischer Nachweis der Wirksamkeit kleinster Entitäten. L. Kolisko. Orient-Occident Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.