Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Rudolf Steiner, September 16, 1907:
In a symbolism of great profundity, the world's whole being is now revealed to us in the symbol of the Holy Grail.
Let me set this seal before your eyes in a few words. The occultist who has acquainted himself with our world knows that space in the physical world is not simple emptiness, but something quite different. Space is the source from which all beings have, so to speak, physically crystallized. Imagine a cube-shaped, transparent glass vessel filled with water. Now imagine that certain cooling streams are led through this water so that it congeals in the most manifold forms into ice. This will give you an idea of the world's creation, of space, and of the divine creative Word spoken into it. The occultist presents this space into which the divine creative Word has been spoken as the water-clear cube.
Within this space various beings develop. The ones standing nearest to us can be characterized as follows. The cube has three perpendicular directions, three axes: length, height, and breadth. It thus represents the three dimensions in space. Now imagine the counter-dimensions to these three outside dimensions of the physical world. You may visualize this by imagining someone moving in one direction and colliding with someone else coming from another direction. Similarly, there is a counter-dimension to every dimension of space, so that in all we have six counter-rays. These counter-rays represent the primal beginnings of the highest human members. The physical body, crystallized from out of space, is the lowest. The spiritual, the highest, is the opposite counter-dimension.
In their development, these counter-dimensions first form themselves in a being that is best described when we let them flow together into the world of passions, sensual appetites, and instincts. This it is at first. Later, it becomes something else. It becomes ever more purified — we have seen to what height — but it issued from the lower impulses, which are here symbolized by the snake. The process of purification is symbolized by the counter-dimensions converging in two snakes standing opposite each other. As mankind purifies itself, it rises through what is called the world spiral. The purified body of the snake, this world spiral, has deep significance. The following example will give you an idea of it.
Modern astronomy is supported by two postulates of Copernicus, but a third has not been taken into account. Copernicus said that the Sun also moves. It advances in a spiral so that the Earth, following the Sun, moves in a complicated curve. The same is true for the Moon that revolves around the Earth. These movements are far more complicated than is assumed in elementary astronomy. You see here how the spiral has significance for celestial bodies, and these describe a form with which men will one day identify themselves. At that time, a man's generative power will be cleansed and purified, and his larynx will become his generative organ. What the human being will have developed as purified snake body will no longer work upwards, but from above downwards. The transformed larynx will become the chalice known as the Holy Grail. Even as one is purified, so also the other, which unites with this generative organ. It will be an essence of world force and of great cosmic essence. This world spirit in its essence is represented by the dove facing the Holy Grail. Here it symbolizes the spiritualized fructification that will be active out of the cosmos when men will have identified themselves with the cosmos. The complete creativity of this process is represented by the rainbow. This is the all-embracing seal of the Holy Grail. The whole gives the sense of the connection between world and men in a wonderful way, as a summation of the meaning of the other seals.
The world secret is found here as a circular inscription on the seal's outer edge, which shows how men in the beginning are born out of the primal forces of the world. Everyone, when he looks back, sees that he has gone through the process in the beginning of time that he goes through spiritually today when he is born anew out of the forces of consciousness. This is expressed in the Rose Cross by E. D. N., Ex Deo Nascimur, out of God I am born.
We have seen that within the manifest world a second is added to life, that is, death. That he find life again in this death, a man must find the death of the senses in the primal source of all that lives. This is the center of all cosmic development because we have had to experience death in order to gain consciousness. We will be able to overcome death when we find its meaning in the mystery of the Redeemer. Just as we are born out of God, so, in the sense of esoteric wisdom, we die in Christ — I. C. M., In Christo Morimur.
Because a duality is disclosed wherever something reveals itself, with which a third member must unite, the man who has overcome death will identify himself with the spirit that permeates the world, symbolized by the dove. He will rise from death and again live in the spirit — P. S. S. R., Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.
Here stands the theosophical Rose Cross. It rays forth to those times in which religion and science will be reconciled.
Therapeutic Insights: Earthly and Cosmic Laws
Lecture 2 of 5
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, June 26, 1921:
Two days ago we spoke of the time in which people still had a kind of inward knowledge. We gave as an example what an ancient Greek would have thought about the contemporary scientific world conception. Then I tried to show you how such a Greek, from the point of view of Imaginative cognition, would have described what we are accustomed to calling the human etheric body in relation to the element of water.
I said that Imaginative cognition would reveal a certain relationship of the entire activity of water — that surging and weaving of the water element, the striving toward the periphery, the sinking down toward the earth — a relationship of these forces of unfolding toward the periphery and toward the center with the shapes, with the pictures, of the plant element in its individual forms. We thus arrive here at a concrete formulation of the content of the Imaginative world — at least one part of the Imaginative world. Such a knowledge can only be attained practically for human perception if a development is striven for as it has been described in my book How to Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, whose goal is Imaginative cognition.
Even with Imaginative cognition, however, one remains unacquainted with what, in an earlier world conception, was called the element of air. This airy element, such as it was conceived in more ancient times, can be penetrated only by so-called Inspired cognition. If you attempt to clarify the following to yourself, you will approach this Inspired cognition, this experience of the airy element. I have often mentioned to you that the human being today is studied quite superficially. Just call to mind how anatomical and physiological pictures of the human being are made today. Sharp outlines are drawn around the inner organs — heart, lungs, liver, and so on — and certainly these well-defined contours, these boundary lines of heart, lung, and liver, have a certain justification. In using such lines, however, we draw the human being as though he were through and through a solid body, which he really is not. Only the slightest portion of the human being consists of solid mineral substances. Even if we were to take a maximum, as it were, we could consider at most a mere 8 percent as solid in the human being; 92 percent of the human being is a column of fluid. Man is not solid at all; the solid is only deposited within the human being. There is very little consciousness of this fact at present among the pupils of physiology, anatomy, and so on. We do not learn to recognize the watery human being, the fluid human being, when we draw him with solid boundaries to his organs, for the fluid human being is something that is in a continual streaming. His organism is something that moves continually within itself, and into this fluid organism the airy organism now inserts itself. The air streams in, uniting with the substances within and, if I may describe it in this way, stirring them up.
By means of the fact that the human being has this airy element within, he actually forms a complete unity with the outer world. The air that is now within me will presently be outside me again. We cannot really speak of the human being as enclosed within his skin if we observe him with reference to this third element, the airy element. And even less could we speak of him as living contained within his skin if we contemplated him with reference to the warmth element, the element of fire. One cannot say that man is a self-contained being.
Now, however, let us take the entire human being, that is, the human being who is organized not only in the solid element but also in the fluid, airy, and warmth elements, in a configured, moving warmth. Let us compare this entire human being with the human being as he is when he is asleep, with his soul and spirit outside the physical and etheric bodies. What permeates the human being as soul and spirit from awakening to falling asleep is simply not there in the time between falling asleep and awakening. In that time the human being is in another world that is penetrated by another lawfulness. We must ask ourselves, now, which lawfulness permeates the world in which man finds himself between falling asleep and awakening.
Yesterday we mentioned four kinds of lawfulnesses: first, the lawfulness within the earthly world; second the lawfulness within the cosmic world; third, the lawfulness within the world soul; and fourth, the lawfulness within the world spirit. Where, then, is the human being with his soul and spirit — or with his soul aspect and his I— between falling asleep and awakening? A consideration of what we have said up to now will show that the astral body and I at this time (between falling asleep and awakening) are in the realm of the world soul and the world spirit.
1. Lawfulness within the earthly world. 2. Lawfulness within the cosmic world. 3. Lawfulness within the world soul. } Astral Body, I 4. Lawfulness within the world spirit.
We must take very seriously something we mentioned two days ago: that with the first two worlds, the earthly and the cosmic, we have exhausted the whole realm of space. By entering the realm of world soul and world spirit, we have already gone beyond the realm of space. This is something we must dwell upon within our souls again and again: every time the human being sleeps, he is led not only outside his physical body but beyond ordinary space. He is led into a world that should not be confused at all with the world that can be perceived by the senses. All lawfulness that lies at the basis of the rhythmical human being — the human being whose fluid and also whose airy element is organized through rhythm — comes from this world. Rhythm manifests itself in space, but the source of rhythm, the lawfulness that produces rhythm, streams into every point in space from extra-spatial depths. It is regulated everywhere by a real world that lies beyond the sense world. If we are confronted with that wonderful reciprocal play that takes place within the human rhythms, through breathing and the pulse, we actually perceive something in this rhythm that is regulated from extra-spatial spiritual depths and brought into the world in which the human being also finds himself as physical man. It is impossible to understand the airy element if we do not reach such a concrete understanding of the rhythmical expression of man within this airy element.
If one grasps with Imagination what I described two days ago as the weaving and being of the plant world and, parallel with this, the weaving and being of the human etheric body, then one remains still within the world in which one normally resides. One must think of oneself as being transported from the Earth, so to speak, and poured out into the entire cosmos. Then, however, in passing into the airy element, one must remove oneself from space. Then there must be the possibility of knowing oneself in a world that is no longer spatial but that exists only in time, a world in which only the time element holds a certain significance. In the times in which such things were still livingly perceived, it was seen that what belonged to such worlds could really be observed in the way that the spiritual played into human activity through rhythm. I pointed out to you how the ancient Greek formulated the hexameter: three pulse beats with the caesura, which gives a breath, and three more pulse beats with the caesura, or with the end of the verse, which gives the full hexameter. In two breaths one has the corresponding eight pulse beats. The harmonious resounding of the pulse beats with the breathing was shaped artistically in the recitation of the Greek hexameter. The way in which the spiritual, supersensible world permeates the human being — how it permeates the blood circulation, the blood rhythm, synthesizes four pulse beats, four pulse rhythms, to one breathing rhythm — all this was reflected in every speech formation that is in the hexameter. All original strivings to build verse derive from this rhythmic organization of the human being.
The world from which this rhythmic self-activity derives becomes real for the human being only when he becomes conscious during sleep. The activity in which the sleeping, but conscious, human being then lives plays into this rhythm. Ordinary everyday consciousness remains unconscious of what lies at the foundation of this, and this is even more the case with the ordinary, present-day scientific consciousness. If this does become conscious, however, there begins to appear before the human being something more than what I described yesterday as the surging, weaving plant world. Something appears that is not a picture merely of the ordinary animal world, which must be spatial; there appears now a very clear consciousness, one which, however, can appear only outside the body and never within it, a consciousness whose content consists of the concrete pictures out of which the shapes of the animals in space are formed. Just as our human rhythmic activity streams in from the extra-spatial, so do the shapes that then organize themselves into the different animals stream in from the extra-spatial.
The first thing that is experienced if one undergoes consciously what otherwise is gone through only unconsciously between falling asleep and awakening, immersing oneself in the world that is the source of our rhythm, is that the animal world in all its forms becomes comprehensible. The animal world in all its forms cannot be explained by means of outer physical foundations or forces. If a zoologist or a morphologist believes that the form of the lion, the tiger, the butterfly, the beetle is able to be explained by means of something found in physical space, he is very much fooling himself. In physical space one can never find an explanation for the different forms of the animals. One encounters the explanation in the way I have described it only if one enters the third lawfulness, the lawfulness of the world soul.
Now I would like to return to the conversation I presented two days ago between the ancient Greek and the modern scholar who knows everything — that is to say, although occasionally he admits to not knowing everything, he still pretends that everything is able to be explained along lines similar to his own way of thinking. The ancient Greek would say “Nothing at all can be explained by your method, though it has a kind of logic. You list all kinds of abstract conceptual forms, so-called categories — being, becoming, having, and so on. This logic is something that is supposed to represent the lawfulness of the concepts, the ideas.” (I am thinking now of a Greek of the pre-Socratic age, a Greek of the time from which the philosophies of Thales, Heraclitus, and Anaxagoras emanated, of which only a portion survives today.) “What you call logic,” this Greek would say, “was first constructed by a human being, a human being who really no longer knew much about the mysteries of the world. This logic was first made by Aristotle, after he had thoroughly applied his mundane intellect to Platonism. Truly Aristotle was a great man, but he was also a great philistine who completely corrupted the actual logic, who made real logic into an ephemeral web that is related to reality in the same way as a thinly spun phantom is related to something densely real. The real logic,” our ancient Greek, being a scientist in his way, would have said, “the real logic encompasses all those forms that become outward and spatial in the animal world and that one discovers on becoming conscious in the time between falling asleep and awakening. That is logic; that is the real content of the logical consciousness.”
In the animal world there exists nothing but that which exists also in the human being, but in the human being it is spiritualized, and thus he can think. He can think the logical formulas that swim in the outer world in space and become animals. When, between awakening and falling asleep, we manipulate our conceptual forms in ordinary consciousness, connecting one concept with another, we actually do the same thing in the realm of ideas that the outer world does in shaping the various forms of the animals. Just as it is possible to observe one's etheric world when turning one's gaze to the plants and thinking of this plant world as embedded in the element of water, so, in the same way, one's soul world — or it can be called the astral world — can be comprehended if one permeates oneself with this living weaving that becomes conscious between falling asleep and awakening, understanding thereby the outer shapes of the animal world. One must then think of one's own shaping of the world of ideas as woven into the rhythm of the airy element.
You can make yourself a quite concrete mental image from the many things I have pointed out to you concerning the human being. Take the following process quite concretely: you breathe in, and the air follows the well-known pathway to the lungs. In breathing in, however, the inhaled air presses upon the space containing the spinal cord and spinal fluid. This fluid surrounding the spinal cord rhythmically courses through the subarachnoid space of the brain. The cerebral fluid comes into activity, and this activity is the activity of thought. In reality, thought rides on the breath, which is transmitted to the cerebro-spinal fluid, and this fluid in which the brain floats transmits the rhythmical beat of the breath directly onto the brain. In the brain live the impressions of the senses, the impressions of the eyes, the ears, through nerve-sense activity. The breathing rhythm comes into confrontation with what lives in the brain from the senses, and in this confrontation develops the interplay between sensation and thought activity, that formal thought activity which outwardly has its life in the animal forms. It is this thought activity, which is brought about by the breathing rhythm, transmitting itself to the cerebro-spinal fluid in the subarachnoid space, that commingles with what lives in the brain through the senses. Residing there is everything that becomes active in us in the form of ideas out of the rhythm.
What is essential, my dear friends, is that you attempt gradually to penetrate into the way in which the spiritual plays into the physical world. The great cultural defect of our time is that we have a science that arrives at the spirit in abstract forms, in purely intellectual forms, whereas the spiritual must be conceived in its creative element, for otherwise the material world remains like something hard, unconquered, outside the spiritual. We must penetrate into how this element of the third and fourth lawfulnesses plays concretely into what we ourselves carry out.
It is one of the most sublime things that can become clear to us if we recognize the actual inner basis that can prevail in every breathing rhythm — what is not fulfilled but what could be fulfilled each time an inhalation plays into the cerebro-spinal fluid. Now comes the recoil, the response: the cerebro-spinal fluid is again pressed down through the subarachnoid space of the spine, and there is an exhalation. This is a surrender once again to the world, a merging with the world. However, in this I-becoming/merging-with-the-world lies in essence what is expressed in the breathing rhythm.
This is the way one must speak if one wishes to speak of the reality that is meant when speaking of the element of air, whereas in speaking about the earth one simply encompasses everything that is included in our seventy-odd chemical elements. You see, what becomes a corpse is subject to the lawfulness of the seventy-two elements. What brings this dead body into movement, however, so that it can grow, can digest, is something that streams in from the cosmos. Then what penetrates this organism so that it not only grows and is able to digest but unfolds itself continually in a rhythmical activity, in the pulse, in the breathing rhythm, comes from an extra-spatial world. We study this extra-spatial world in the air element, for that is where it reveals itself, just as we study the cosmic — and not the earthly — world in the water element, for that is where the cosmic is revealed. What is revealed to the present-day chemist or physicist derives only from the earth element differentiated in itself.
We can also find the transition to the warmth element or element of fire. This is really possible only in the moment that is a practical result when a human being attains the ability not only to move out of his body consciously but to immerse himself with this consciousness into other beings. There is something else to consider here. One may already have had the ability for a long time to move out of one's body; if a little egotism is retained regarding the world, however, one is able to grasp everything of which I have spoken up to now, but one cannot really immerse oneself in this outer world. One cannot surrender oneself to this outer world. If, however, elements of true supersensible love can be added during an immersion into that world in which one lives between falling asleep and awakening, then one learns to recognize by experience the element of warmth or fire. Only then does one recognize the true being of man, for what is looked at outwardly through the senses is only a semblance of man, is the human being from the other side, from the side of semblance.
If one ascends to the element of water, one has, to begin with, the experience of the etheric being of man dissolving. The etheric being of man becomes, you could say, a miniature picture of winter, summer, autumn, and so on. If one comes to the element of air, one becomes aware of a self-sustaining, rhythmical movement. The contained human being, the human being as he is eternal man, can be known only within the element of warmth. There everything comes into connection once again: the weaving movement of the water element and the rhythms of the air come together. They harmonize and deharmonize themselves in the warmth element, in the fire element, and there one can recognize the real being of man. There one is essentially in the fourth lawfulness, the lawfulness of the world spirit.
In hearing about an earlier science of the four elements — earth, water, air, and fire — one should not picture that we have progressed so wonderfully far with our modern science. One should rather picture that an altogether different consciousness existed concerning the roots of the human being in supersensible depths. Something was known, therefore, of the various relationships of the earth element to this supersensible. The earth element is, as it were, entirely outside the sphere of the supersensible. The water element already begins to approach it; this water element is already much more closely connected with the world of spheres spread in cosmic space than with what the Earth itself is. We leave space altogether, however, if we look for the source of what is within us as the air rhythm — and therefore our air organization — for regarding our air organization we are rhythmicizing, de-rhythmicizing, and so on. Finally we come to the universally extra-spatial, to that which overcomes time, when we come into the fire element, into the warmth element. Only here do we come to recognize the entire, self-contained human being. One really finds this, though in a corrupted form, if one rediscovers — and it is already necessary today that one rediscover it — the literature that appeared before the fifteenth century.
There appeared a few years ago the work of a Swedish scientist concerning alchemy. This Swedish scientist read about a process described by an alchemist, and he commented: “If you investigate this process today, it turns out to be pure nonsense; you cannot picture anything of what they are saying.” It is easy to grasp that the chemist of today, even the Swede, who is somewhat less prejudiced than the Central European, takes the expressions in which are clothed what once existed in the corrupted literature of ancient times and then finds that nothing emerges from them. I looked up the process that the good Swedish scientist could not understand in the same literature that he had read: the process described there was actually an aspect of the embryonic process, of embryonic development in the human being! This became clear very soon. One must be able to read such matters, however. The modern scientist reads in such a way that he applies the expressions and vocabulary that he has learned from his chemistry text. He puts up his flasks and test tubes and imitates the process described: nonsense! What he has read is actually describing a portion of the process that takes place in the mother's body during embryonic development. You thus can see the abyss that has appeared between what the modern scientist is able to read and what was once meant.
All things that were described in the ancient literature, however, have also been described again today under the influence of the concepts of a new spiritual science. If these writings are not rediscovered, one cannot read them at all. They existed in an entirely different way from the way we discover them today. They existed in an instinctive, atavistic way, but they did exist, and humanity lifted itself, as it were, beyond an understanding of merely the earth element. We must find entrance again into the elements that do not explain to us merely the corpse of the human being but the whole human being, the living human being. For this it is necessary that one learn to take quite seriously within our civilization what is presented in the question of pre-existence.
When the concept of pre-existence was cast out of Western cultural evolution, selfless research was actually cast out as well. When preachers today preach about immortality, as I have indicated often before, they appeal basically to human egotism. It is known that man feels uncomfortable, feels afraid, of the cessation of life. Of course life does not actually cease, but in speaking about immortality one appeals not to the forces of cognition but to man's fear of death, to man's will to continue living when the body is taken from him; in other words, man's egotism is appealed to. This is not possible when one speaks about pre-existence. It is actually inconsequential to people today — from the point of view of their egotism — whether or not they lived before they were born or conceived. They are living now, and of that they are certain, and they are not very concerned, therefore, with pre-existence. Rather they are concerned about post-existence, for although they are now living, they do not know whether they will continue to live after death. This is connected with their egotism. Since they are already living, however, they say to themselves — perhaps only unconsciously or instinctively if they have not trained in cognition — “I am living now, and even if I didn't exist before my birth or conception, it makes no difference to me if I only began to live then, as long as I can continue to live from now on.”
This is the mood on the basis of which feelings today are called forth through which human beings become enthusiastic about immortality. In the known languages, therefore, we have a word for immortality that directs us to the eternity at life's end, but we do not have a word, in the ordinary languages of our culture, for “unbornness.” This is something we must gradually acquire. Such a concept would speak more to cognition, would speak more to a lack of egotism, to a cognition of man that is free of egotism. This must be appealed to once again. Furthermore, cognition must become permeated by morality, by ethics. Unless our laboratory table becomes a kind of altar, and unless our synthesizing and analyzing become a kind of art of the spirit, and we become conscious that in doing this or that we participate in world evolution, our cultural evolution will not progress. We will come into a frightful descent if wider and wider circles do not perceive that one must achieve cognition free of egotism, a morally permeated cognition that must overcome today's analysis and synthesis, which do not take the higher worlds into any account. One must come to understand again something of the rhythm that plays into our lives, something of what plays into warmth. Into the warmth plays the moral element; and in the simple variations of warmth, varying intensities of warmth, there is in reality a world-permeating morality in which the human being develops himself. All this must gradually become conscious in humanity. This is not merely what I would like to call an idealistic whim demanding of us to interpret the signs of our times; rather, the signs of the times themselves speak of this deepening toward the supersensible that must be attempted.
Monday, June 26, 2017
|"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."|
In the beginning was the Veda, and the Veda was with God, and the Veda was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
"There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them."
[Note: The intellectual among us will be interested to know that Orwell never actually said or wrote these exact words. The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. You could look it up.]
Therapeutic Insights: Earthly and Cosmic Laws
Lecture 1 of 5
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, June 24, 1921:
After the historical considerations we have undertaken, we shall explore today a few things about contemporary man. This will provide us with the possibility of observing more accurately the place of contemporary man in the whole course of time. We should be clear that in the way the human being stands before us as spiritual, soul, and bodily being, he is differently oriented in three directions. We see this already when we look at the human being purely outwardly. In his spirit, man goes through the world independently of outer phenomena, while in his soul he is not as independent of these outer phenomena. One need only consider certain relationships that are visible throughout life in order to discover how the real soul life has certain connections with the outer world. One can be depressed or uplifted in one's soul. Recall how you have often felt depressed in a dream, and how the root of this mood of depression had to be traced back to the irregularity of the breathing rhythm. One could say that this is merely an elementary example, and yet all soul life is never without a similar connection with the rhythmic life that we go through in the rhythm of our breathing, of our blood circulation, and the outer rhythmic life of the entire cosmos. Everything that takes place in the soul is connected with the world rhythm.
Whereas as spiritual beings we can feel highly independent of our environment, we cannot do the same regarding our soul life, for our soul life lies imbedded within the whole world rhythm.
Furthermore, we stand within universal world phenomena as bodily beings. Again, at first we may proceed from merely elementary examples. Man, as a bodily being, is heavy, that is to say, he has weight. Other merely mineral beings also have weight. Mineral beings, plant beings, animal beings, and the human being as a bodily being all partake in this universal weightiness, and we must actually lift ourselves above this universal weightiness when we wish to make the body a physical tool of the spiritual life. We have often mentioned that if it were only the physical weight of the brain that mattered, the weight would be so great (1300 to 1500 grams) that all the blood vessels lying underneath the brain would be crushed. The brain, however, is subject to the Archimedean principle, since it floats in the cerebrospinal fluid. It loses so much weight by floating in the cerebral fluid that it actually weighs only 20 grams and therefore presses on the vessels at the base of the brain with only these 20 grams. You can see from this that the brain actually strives much more upward than downward. It counteracts heaviness. It tears itself free of the universal gravity and thereby acts like any other body that is placed in water and loses as much of its weight as the weight of the displaced water.
You thus can see an interplay between our whole bodily being and the outer world. With our soul weavings we are not only integrated in a rhythm but are fully enmeshed in the outer physical life. If we stand on a given point of the Earth, we press down upon that place; when we move to another point, we press down upon that new place. In our human body, we are as much physical beings as the physical beings of the other kingdoms of nature.
We therefore can say that with our spiritual being we are to some extent independent of the outer world; with our soul being we are part of the rhythm of the world; and with our bodily being we are part of the rest of the world as though we were not also soul and spirit. We must consider this distinction carefully, for we do not attain an understanding of the higher being of man if we do not look at this threefold relationship of the human being to his entire environment. Now, let us look for a moment at man's environment. In man's environment (I am now summarizing what we have considered over the course of many months from different viewpoints) we first have all that is ruled by natural laws. Picture the whole universe ruled by natural laws and, included in these natural laws, the totality of this visible, sense-perceptible world.
Simple consideration shows that we are dealing here only with the actual earthly world. Only foolhardy and unjustified hypotheses of physicists can maintain that the same natural laws we observe on the Earth around us are also applicable in the extraterrestrial cosmos. I have often pointed out to you how surprised the physicists would be if they were able to ascend to the place where the Sun is. Physicists regard the Sun as something comparable to a large gas oven without walls, more or less like a burning gas. If one arrived at the place in the cosmos where the Sun is, one would not find such a burning gas. Instead one would find something totally unlike what the physicists imagine. If this [sketching] encloses the space that normally we picture as taken up by the Sun, not only are there none of the substances found on Earth, but there is even an absence of what we call empty space. Imagine, to begin with, filled space. On Earth you always have a filled space around you. If it is not filled by solid or liquid substances, it is permeated by air, or at least by warmth, light, and so on. In short, we are always dealing with filled space. You also know, however, that it is possible, at least approximately, to create an empty space by extracting the air from a container with an air pump.
Imagine we have a filled space that we will designate with the letter A, preceded by a plus sign: +A. Now, as we make this space emptier and emptier, A will become smaller and smaller, but as the space is still filled we continue to use the + sign. We can imagine — although this is not actually possible under earthly conditions, for we can render space only approximately empty — that it would be possible to produce a completely empty space. Then, in this part of space that we have made empty, there would only be space. I will designate this with 0. It has 0 content. Now, we can do with this space the same thing that you do with your wallet: if your wallet is filled with money, you can take more and more out until finally there is nothing in it. If you want to spend more money, you cannot take anything more out of your wallet, as it is already empty. You can, however, go into debt. You have -0 in your wallet if you incur debts. You can think of this space in the same way: it is not only empty but you could say that it exerts suction because there is less than 0 in it: -A. It can be said of this space exerting suction — which is not just empty but has a content, which is the opposite of being filled by matter — that it is occupied by that space which one must imagine as filled out by the Sun. The Sun therefore has an inward suction; it does not exert pressure like a gas. The Sun space is filled with negative materiality.
I only present this as an example in order for you to see that earthly lawfulness simply cannot be applied to the extraterrestrial cosmos. We must think of totally different relationships in the extraterrestrial cosmos from those we have learned to know in our environment on the Earth. We must say that we are surrounded by lawfulness within earthly existence, and into this lawfulness is included the world of substances that is initially accessible to us. Now picture earthly existence. All you need to do is to picture the processes in the mineral world; place them before your soul, and you have that which, in so far as you see it, is completely encompassed by this lawfulness of earthly existence. Therefore we can say that the mineral world is encompassed by this lawfulness; yet something else is also encompassed by it. When we walk around, or even when we are carried around, in short when we act as objects in the physical world, we live in the same lawfulness as the mineral world. In relation to earthly lawfulness, it is immaterial whether we carry a stone around, whether it is moved, or whether a human being is carried around or moves himself; regarding this lawfulness, it is the same thing one way or the other. You need only consider that the only thing that comes into consideration regarding earthly lawfulness is a change in location of man's body, which he may, however, bring about himself. This is connected with other things. If you study only earthly lawfulness, what happens within the skin of man or what takes place in his soul can be quite irrelevant. Only the change in location within earthly space need be considered.
We thus can see that in addition to the mineral world there is the human being who has been moved (that is, outwardly moved). The only relationship of the outer world to man, in so far as that world is earthly and confronts our senses, is the relationship to the human being moved outwardly. If we seek any other relationship to man, we must at once refer to something else, and then we come to our extraterrestrial environment, for example, when we study the environment of the Moon, that is, whatever emanates from the Moon. It is a fact that many people are still aware of something of the effect of the Moon on the Earth. Many people believe in such effects of the Moon on the Earth, e.g., the connection of the phases of the Moon with the quantity of rainfall. Learned people in our time consider this a superstition.
I have told you, some of you at least, of an amusing sequence of events that once took place in Leipzig. The unusual natural philosopher and aesthetician Gustav Theodore Fechner went so far as to write a book about the influence of the Moon on weather conditions. He was a university colleague of the well-known botanist and natural scientist Schleiden. Schleiden, as a modern materialist, was convinced, of course, that what his colleague Fechner was advancing about the influence of phases of the Moon on the weather could only be based on superstition. In addition to the two scholars at the University of Leipzig there were also their wives, Frau Schleiden and Frau Fechner. At that time, the conditions were still so primitive that rainwater needed to be collected for wash day. Frau Fechner said that she believed in what her husband had published concerning the influence of Moon phases on the weather. She wanted to reach an agreement with Frau Professor Schleiden, who did not believe in what Fechner maintained, about when was the most efficient time to place out rain barrels in order to collect the most rain. Frau Fechner suggested that Frau Schleiden put out her barrels at different times, since according to Schleiden's opinion she should get just as much water as Frau Fechner. However, despite the fact that Frau Professor Schleiden considered the views of Professor Fechner to be exceedingly superstitious, she still chose to place her rain barrels out at the exact same times as Frau Fechner.
Now, the influence of the forces of other planetary bodies is less perceptible to our modern scientific consciousness. However, if one were to study more closely — as is to happen now in our scientific-physiological institute in Stuttgart — the line of growth followed on the stem by the leaves of plants, for example, one would find how each line is related to the movements of the planets, how these lines are, as it were, miniature pictures of the planetary movements. One thus would find that many things on the surface of the Earth are comprehensible only when one knows the extraterrestrial and does not merely identify the extraterrestrial with the earthly, that is to say, when one presupposes that a lawfulness exists that is cosmic and not earthly.
We therefore can say that we have a second lawfulness within cosmic existence. Only when one begins to study these cosmic influences — and it is possible to do so quite empirically — will one have a true botany. Our plant world does not grow up out of the Earth in the way conceived by a materialistic botany; rather it is pulled out by cosmic forces. What is pulled out in this way by cosmic forces in the process of growth is then permeated by the mineral forces that have saturated this cosmic plant structure so that it becomes visible to the senses. We thus can say firstly that the plant world is included in this cosmic lawfulness. Secondly, all that pertains to the inner movement of man — that is, a definitely physical movement, but within man — is included in this cosmic lawfulness (this is not as easy to establish as in the case of the plant world, because it achieves a certain independence from the rhythm of the outer processes; nevertheless, it imitates this rhythm inwardly). The outwardly moved human being, therefore, is included in the earthly lawfulness, but when you look upon your digestion, upon the movement of the nourishing substances in the digestive organs, when you look beyond merely the rhythm to the actual movement of the blood through the blood vessels — and there are many other things that move inwardly in man — you have a picture of what moves inside of the human being regardless of whether he is standing still or walking about. This cannot be integrated into the earthly lawfulness without further consideration but rather must be integrated into the cosmic lawfulness in the same way as are the forms and also the movements of the plants; in the human being, however, these forms and movements proceed much more slowly than they do in the plants. We therefore can say that the inner movements of man are also included in the cosmic lawfulness.
Now you could consider taking the cosmos into undefined distances; somehow in this way everything has an influence upon the life that develops on the Earth's surface. Yet if these were the only two lawfulnesses that existed — that is, the earthly and cosmic lawfulnesses, in the way I have presented them to you — then nothing would exist on the Earth but the mineral and plant kingdoms, for the human being, of course, would not be able to exist there. If the human being were present, he could move outwardly and the inner movements could take place, but this of course would not yet make up a human being. Neither would animals be able to be present on the Earth under such conditions; in reality, only minerals and plants could exist. Cosmic lawfulness and cosmic content of being must be penetrated and permeated by something that is no longer a part of space, by something concerning which we cannot speak of space at all.
Naturally, everything that is included in the cosmic and earthly lawfulnesses must be thought of as existing in space; now, however, we must speak of something that cannot be thought of as existing in space, although it permeates the whole of cosmic lawfulness. Just imagine how in the human being the movements, that is his inner movements, are connected with his rhythm. To begin with, all that we call the movement of the nourishing substances within us merges into the movement of the blood. However, this movement doesn't take place in such a way that the blood simply flows through the veins as nutritive juice. Not only does the blood itself move rhythmically, but beyond that this rhythm has a definite relationship to the breathing rhythm through the consumption of oxygen by the blood. We have within us this dual rhythm. I pointed out once how the inner soul lawfulness is based upon the 4:1 ratio of the blood rhythm to the breathing rhythm in such a way that meter and verse measure are actually dependent upon it.
We thus see that what takes place as inner movement is related to rhythm, and rhythm, as we have said, is related to the soul life of the human being. In a similar way we must bring what we have in the movement of the stars into a relationship to the world soul. We therefore can speak of a third lawfulness within the world soul in which is encompassed: 1) the animal world, and 2) all the rhythmic processes related to the bodily human being. These rhythmic processes within man have a relationship to the whole world rhythm. We have already spoken about this, but I would like to bring it up again in relation to our further considerations here. You know that the human being takes approximately 18 breaths per minute. Multiply that by 60 and you have the number of breaths per hour; multiply that total by 24 and you have the total for one day: approximately 25,920 breaths for the average human being in the course of a day. This number of breaths per day thus forms the day/night rhythm in the human being. We also know that the spring equinox moves through the constellations bit by bit each year, so that the point at which the Sun rises in spring moves forward in the heavens. The length of time that it takes the Sun to arrive again at its original point is 25,920 years. This is the rhythm of our universe, then, and our own breathing rhythm over twenty-four hours is a miniature picture of it. Hence, with our rhythm we are woven into the world rhythm, with our soul into the lawfulness of the world soul.
Now, there is a fourth lawfulness that lies at the basis of the entire universe as well as of the three previously mentioned lawfulnesses, namely, that within which we feel included when we become conscious of ourselves as spiritual human beings. In this process of becoming conscious of ourselves as spiritual human beings, we achieve clarity about these facts. At first we may not comprehend this or that about the world and, in fact, because of today's intellectualism, which has become a universal cultural force, very little indeed is comprehended. At a certain stage in our human evolution, we initially comprehend very little with our spirit. It is inherent, however, in the self-recognition of the spirit that it says to itself that as it evolves no boundaries can be imposed on its evolution. The spirit must be able to develop into the universe through knowing, feeling, and willing. By bearing the spirit within us, then, we must relate ourselves to a fourth lawfulness within the world spirit.
1.) Lawfulness within earthly existence
a) The mineral world b) The externally moved human being2.) Lawfulness within cosmic existencea) The plant world b) The inner movements of the human being3.) Lawfulness within the world soula) The animal world b) The rhythmic processes4.) Lawfulness within the world spirita) The human being b) The nerve-sense processes
Only now do we arrive at the real human being encompassed therein, for a human being could not really have existed merely within the other three lawfulnesses. Only now do we find the human being, but specifically that part of him that is his nerve-sense apparatus, all of what is, to begin with, the physical bearer of the spiritual life, the nerve-sense processes. When we look at the human being we consider first the entire human being, in whom the head is the main bearer of the nerve-sense organs; then we consider the head itself. A human being is human, so to speak, by virtue of the fact that he has a head; the head is the most human part of man. In the human being as a whole, and in the head, we already encounter the human being twice.
Now, when we consider what I have just described as a summary of what we have discussed in the last few weeks, it gives us to begin with a picture of the human being's connection with his environment; not merely the spatial environment, however, for the spatial world is related only to the first two lawfulnesses; we also have to do with the world that is non-spatial, which is related to the third and fourth lawfulnesses. It has become increasingly difficult for the contemporary human being to conceive that something could exist not within space or that sometimes it is not meaningful to speak in terms of space even when speaking of realities. Without such a conception, however, one can never rise to a spiritual science. If one wishes to remain within the confines of space, one cannot arrive at spiritual entities.
Last time I spoke here I told you about the world conception of the ancient Greeks in order to point out how in other eras the human being looked at the world differently from today. This picture of which I have just spoken to you can become evident to the human being in the present era; he arrives at it if, simply and without prejudice — that is, undisturbed by the waste products sometimes offered by contemporary science — he observes the world.
I must add a few things to what I told you previously about the ancient Greek world conception so that we are able to see its connection with what I wished to present to you with this scheme. You see, if a human being is very clever he may say that the spatial world consists of some seventy-odd elements that have varying atomic weights and so on; those elements, he maintains, enter into syntheses; one can perform analyses on them, and so forth, and, based on chemical connections and chemical separations, one can explain what happens in the world regarding those seventy-odd elements. That they could be traced back to some earlier origin should not occupy us at the moment. In general, those seventy-odd elements are considered valid today in popular science.
A Greek — not in a contemporary incarnation, in which he would, of course, think like everyone else today if he were well educated — an ancient Greek, let us say, if he could appear in our present-day world, would be prompted to say “Well, this is all very well and good, these seventy-odd elements, but one does not get very far with them; they actually tell us nothing about the world. We used to think quite differently about the world; we conceived of the world as consisting of fire, air, water, and earth.”
A contemporary person would reply, “That is a childish way to comprehend matters. We are far beyond that. We do, in fact, accept the aggregate states; in the gaseous aggregates we grant you the validity of the aeriform, in the fluid aggregates the watery, and in the solid aggregates the earthy. Warmth, however, does not mean at all the same thing to us as it does to you. We have moved beyond such childish notions. What constitutes the world for us we find in our seventy-odd elements.”
The ancient Greek would respond to this: “That is very nice, but fire — or warmth — air, water, earth are something entirely different from what you conceive. You do not understand in the least what we thought about it.”
At first our contemporary scholar would be curiously affected by such comments and would have the impression that he was encountering a human being from a more childlike stage of cultural development. The ancient Greek, because he would be immediately aware of what the modern scholar had in his head, would probably say "What you call your seventy-two elements all belong to what we call earth; it is very nice that you differentiate it and analyze it further, but for us the properties that you recognize in your seventy-two elements belong to the earth. Of water, air, and fire you understand nothing; of those you have no conception.”
This Greek would continue — you can see that I do not choose an Oriental from an ancient cultural period, but a knowledgeable Greek — “What ,you say about your seventy-two elements with their syntheses and analyses is all very nice, but to what do you believe it is related? It is all related merely to the physical human being once he has died and lies in the grave! There his substances, his entire physical body, undergo the processes that you learn to recognize in your physics and chemistry. What it is possible for you to learn within the structural relationships of your seventy-odd elements is not related at all to the living human being. You know nothing of the living human being because you know nothing of water, air, and fire. It is necessary first to know something about water, air, and fire in order then to know something about the living human being. With what is encompassed by your chemistry you know only what happens to man when he is dead and lying in the grave, the processes undergone by the corpse. That is all you come to know by means of your seventy-odd elements.”
If the ancient Greek went any further than this in this discussion he would not be a great success with our contemporary scholar, though he could go to the trouble of clarifying his views in the following way: “Your seventy-two elements are all what we consider earth. We may simply be regarding a general quality, but even if you analyze it further, you arrive merely at a more specific knowledge, and a more specific knowledge will not enable you to penetrate into the depths. If you acknowledged what we designate as water, however, you would have an element in which, as soon as it is weaving and living, earthly conditions are no longer active alone; water, in its entire activity, is subject to cosmic conditions.”
The ancient Greek's understanding of water was not limited merely to its physical characteristics but extended to everything that influences the Earth as lawfulness from the cosmos, in which the movement of the water substance is encompassed. Within this movement of water substance lives the plant element. In distinguishing whatever is in the living and weaving water element from everything earthly, the ancient Greek saw in this living-weaving element the whole lawfulness of the life of vegetation, which is encompassed by this watery element. We thus can place this watery element schematically somewhere on the Earth, but in such a way that it is determined from out of the cosmos. Then we can picture the mineral element, the actual earthly element, sprouting from below upward in a variety of ways, permeating the plants, infiltrating them, as it were, with earthly elements (see sketch).
What the ancient Greek thought about the watery element, however, was something essentially new, and it was for him a quite definite perception. The Greek did not view this conceptually; rather, he saw it in pictures, in imaginations. Of course we must go back to Platonic times (for Aristotle corrupted this way of viewing), even to pre-Platonic times, in order to find how the truly knowing Greek saw in imaginations what lives in the watery element and actually bears the vegetation, how he related everything to the cosmos. Now, however, the ancient Greek would continue: “What lies in the grave after a human being has died, what is lawfully penetrated by the structural laws that work in your seventy-odd elements, is inserted between birth — or let us say conception — and death into the etheric life working from the cosmos. This etheric life permeates you as a living human being; you will not understand any of this if you do not speak of water as a separate element, if you do not regard the plant world as being tethered in the watery element, if you do not see these pictures, these imaginations.”
“We Greeks,” he would say, “certainly spoke about the etheric body of the human being, but we were not spinning the etheric body out of our fantasy. Rather we said: if one watches in spring the sprouting, greening plant world gradually and variously coloring itself, if one sees this plant world bearing fruit in summer and observes the leaves withering in autumn, if one follows this course of the year in the life of vegetation and has an inner understanding for it, what then appears before the eye of the soul connects with one just as strongly as one is connected with the mineral world by the bread and meat one eats. In a way analogous to eating, one connects with what is outwardly visible in the plant world during the course of the year. Then if one penetrates oneself with the perception that everything happening in the course of twenty-four hours is like a miniature-image of this, repeating itself through one's entire life, then we have within us a miniature image of what constitutes the surrounding world out there from the watery, etheric element, from the cosmos. Whenever we regard this outer world with true understanding, we can say that what is out there also lives within us. We say that the spinach grows out there; I pick it, cook it, and eat it, and thereby have it in my stomach, that is, in my physical body; in the same way we can say, out there, in the course of the year, lives and weaves an etheric life, and that I have within myself.”
The Greek was not conceiving of the physical water; rather, what lay at the basis of his conception was what he grasped in his imagination and brought into living connection with the human being. Thus he would say further to our contemporary scholar: “You study the corpse that lies in the grave, because you study only the earth — your seventy-odd elements are only earth. We studied the living human being; in our time we studied the human being who is not yet dead, who grows and moves out of an inner activity. That is impossible without rising to the other elements.”
Thus it was with the ancient Greeks, and were we to go still further into the past, the airy element and then the fire or warmth element would meet us in full clarity. We will also consider these later. And that is what is so characteristic of our cultural evolution since the first third of the fifteenth century: that the understanding for these connections has simply been lost; thereby the understanding for the living human being was also lost. We study only the corpse in science today. We have often heard that this phase in the history of humanity's evolution had to come, had to come for other reasons, namely, so that humanity could undergo the phase of the evolution of freedom. However, in the process a certain understanding of nature and the human being has been lost since the first third of the fifteenth century. The understanding of natural science up to now has limited itself to this one element, earth, and now we must find the way back. We must find our way back through Imagination to the element of water, through Inspiration to the element of air, through Intuition to the element of fire.
What we have seen and interpreted as an ascent in higher cognition — the ascent from ordinary object cognition through Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition — is fundamentally also an ascent to the elements. We will speak further about this in two days.