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A READER'S JOURNAL
The Bridge Between Universal Spirituality and the Physical Constitution of Man, GA#202
Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond
Published by SteinerBooks in 2007
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2012
Chapter: Spiritual Science
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Physiologists accept that the human body is about 60% water, by which I assume they are talking about H20 and not about the amount fluids in the human body of which water is only the liquid substrate, which could make the fluid percentage of human bodies even higher when figured by weight. These fluids are hardly considered as part of the human body, especially since the advent of post-mortem dissection which led us into so-called modern medicine. Corpses in the anatomy lab have been drained of bodily fluids, do not breathe air, and are no longer naturally warm. The fluid elements, aeriform elements, and warmth elements of the human being are vital processes which are often overlooked in the normal study of medicine in our academies today. If we are ever to understand the connection between the spiritual and physical composition of the human being, we must investigate not only the solid elements of the human organism, but also the three neglected elements of fluid, aeriform, and warmth(1). Those three elements correspond to the Etheric (fluid), Astral (aeriform), and Ego/I (warmth), which together with the solid organism comprise the four-fold organism of the full human being according to Rudolf Steiner. The Etheric body permeates the fluid organism, the Astral body the aeriform organism, and the Ego (I) the warmth organism, and all three of these permeate in various ways the solid organism formed by the minerals of the Physical body. Except for the Physical body, the human being does not stop at the skin, but involves the surrounding space as well.
Consider the multi-faceted spiritual and physical nature of our human blood.
[page 11] Let us think, for example, of the blood. Inasmuch as it is mainly fluid, inasmuch as this blood belongs to the fluid organism, we find in the blood the etheric body which permeates it with its forces. But in the blood there is also present what is generally called the warmth-condition. But that 'organism' is by no means identical with the organism of the fluid blood as such. If we were to investigate this — and it can also be done with physical methods of investigation — we should find in registering the warmth in the different parts of the human organism that the warmth cannot be identified with the fluid organism or with any other.
Directly [i.e., As soon as] we reflect about man in this way we find that it is impossible for our thought to come to a standstill within the limits of the human organism itself. We can remain within these limits only if we are thinking merely of the solid organism which is shut off by the skin from what is outside it.
Our solid organism is demarcated by the limits of our skin, but not the other three organisms.
[page 12] It is different when we come to the second, the fluid organism that is permeated by the etheric body. This fluid organism cannot be strictly demarcated from the environment. Whatever is fluid in any area of space adjoins the fluidic element in the environment. Although the fluid element as such is present in the world outside us in a rarefied state, we cannot make such a definite demarcation between the fluid element within man and the fluid element outside man, as in the case of the solid organism. The boundary between man's inner fluid organism and the fluid element in the external world must therefore be left indefinite.
What about the air we breathe? We are taught to think only of the air we inhale as containing oxygen which is necessary for life, but in addition, we also draw in other aeriform elements and expel them with each breath. These elements are permeated with forces of the Astral body and our aeriform organism changes with each inhaled breath and exhaled breath. (Page 12)
Three of our organisms are ignored by so-called modern science which focuses only on the physical organism, up until now.
[page 13] It is of course quite in keeping with materialistic-mechanistic thought to study only the solid organism and to ignore the fluid organism, the aeriform organism, and the warmth-organism. But no real knowledge of man's being can be acquired unless we are willing to acknowledge this membering into a warmth-organism, an aeriform organism, a fluid organism, and an earth-organism (solid).
The last of the four organisms is our warmth-organism which is intimately connected with our Ego (I). If we are embarrassed due to an inordinate or unexpected attention directed towards us, our I creates an excess of warmth which shows up as a flush in our face. If, on the other hand, something frightens us, our I withdraws its heat and we turn pale and may even faint. The I is controlling the blood flow and warmth in our body at all times.
[page 13, 14] The warmth-organism is paramountly the field of the Ego. The Ego itself is that spirit-organization which imbues with its own forces the warmth that is within us, and governs and gives it configuration, not only externally but also inwardly. We cannot understand the life and activity of the soul unless we remember that the Ego works directly upon the warmth. It is primarily the Ego in man which activates the will, generates impulses of will. — How does the Ego generate impulses of will? From a different point of view we have spoken of how impulses of will are connected with the earthly sphere, in contrast to the impulses of thought and ideation which are connected with forces outside and beyond the earthly sphere. But how does the Ego, which holds together the impulses of will, send these impulses into the organism, into the whole being of man? This is achieved through the fact that the will works primarily in the warmth-organism.
The understanding of the close operation of the I and the warmth-organism with the human Will is important to understanding the bridge between the spiritual and physical in the human being. At this point in human evolution, we cannot perceive the warmth-organism directly or concretely — we can only know it by its effects, such as fainting and flushing as mentioned earlier. If you would picture it, try the process recommended in this next passage:
[page 14] It can be envisaged if we disregard the physical organization within the space bounded by the human skin. We disregard this, also the fluid organism, and the aeriform organism. The space then remains filled with nothing but warmth, which is, of course, in communication with the warmth outside. But what is active in this warmth, what sets it in flow, stirs it into movement, makes it into an organism — is the Ego.
Now we are ready to cope with how the four organisms work together in harmony in the full human as a being of I (will, warmth), Astral body (feelings, aeriform), Etheric body (conceptual processes, fluid-form), and physical-organism. Once you can make these connections, you can understand the processes as described in this next passage.
[page 14] As an earthly being, man's constitution is such that, by way of the warmth-organism, his Ego gives rise to what comes to expression when he acts in the world as a being of will. The feelings experienced in the astral body and coming to expression in the earthly organization manifest as the aeriform organism. And when we come to the etheric organism, to the etheric body, we find within it the conceptual process, in so far as this has a pictorial character — more strongly pictorial than we are consciously aware of to begin with, for the physical body still intrudes and tones down the pictures into mental concepts. This process works upon the fluid organism.
There is another level called ethers which must be understood, if we are to comprehend the life of soul in our human being. The first ether is the Tone-ether, which is also called the Chemical-ether.
[page 15] The solid organism itself is, in reality, only that which provides support for the other organisms. The solid organism stands there as a supporting structure composed of bones, muscles, and so forth. Into this supporting structure is membered the fluid organism with its own inner differentiation and configuration; in this fluid organism vibrates the etheric body, and within this fluid organism the thoughts are produced. How are the thoughts produced? Through the fact that within the fluid organism something asserts itself in a particular metamorphosis — namely, what we know in the external world as tone.
There are fluid-filled channels in the human brain known as ventricles, whose agency in receiving thoughts is ignored in modern science, up until now. Here's a passage describing the ventricles claiming their only function is to provide a shock-absorption role. If you read and study the location of the fluid-filled cavities, it seems likely to me that they are the place in the brain where the Tone-ether produces what we recognize as our thoughts after they have been processed by the higher cortical regions. The fluid in the ventricles is likely the key area where spiritual realities enter our brains via the Tone-ether to be later turned into thoughts, but conventional science ignores this and recognizes only the fluid's mechanical aspect.
[page 27, The Brain(2)] Limpid pools of cerebrospinal fluid bathe the brain and cushion it against shock. Secreted from choroid tissue resembling tiny egg clusters, the plasma-like fluid fills four cranial cavities, the ventricles. From the low fourth ventricle, the fluid circulates through shallows around the brain and down the spinal cord.
Do not confuse the Tone-ether with tone as it is transmitted in the air, the physical vibrations in the air accompany the Tone-ether which is woven into the air, but the tone is an etheric reality not a physical reality, thus no scientific instruments can measure or record the impact the Tone-ether has on the ventricles of our brain nor any other part of our physical body. It is a soul effect.
[page 15] Tone is, in reality, something that leads the ordinary mode of observation very much astray. As earthly human beings, we perceive the tone as being borne to us by the air. But in point of fact the air is only the transmitter of the tone, which actually weaves in the air. And anyone who assumes that the tone in its essence is merely a matter of air-vibrations is like a person who says: Man has only his physical organism, and there is no soul in it. If the air-vibrations are thought to constitute the essence of the tone, whereas they are in truth merely its external expression, this is the same as seeing only man's physical organism with no soul in it. The tone which lives in the air is essentially an etheric reality. And the tone we hear by way of the air arises through the fact that the air is pervaded by the Tone-Ether which is the same as the Chemical Ether. In pervading the air, this Chemical Ether imparts what lives within it to the air, and we become aware of what we call the tone.
Our four human components of Etheric body, Ego (I), Astral body, and Physical body have a complete etheric organism, consisting of Chemical Ether, Warmth-Ether, Light-Ether, Life-Ether. Here is how the Tone-ether works in our fluid organism:
[page 16] This Tone-Ether or Chemical Ether is essentially active in our fluid organism. We can therefore make the following distinction: In our fluid organism lives our own etheric body; but in addition there penetrates into it (the fluid organism) from every direction the Tone-Ether which underlies the tone. Please distinguish carefully here. We have within us our etheric body; it works and is active by giving rise to thoughts in our fluid organism. But what may be called the Chemical Ether continually streams in and out of our fluid organism.
Next comes the Astral body and the Light-Ether which works in synchronism with it.
[page 16, 17] The astral body which comes to expression in feeling operates through the air organism. But still another kind of Ether by which the air is permeated is connected especially with the air organism. It is the Light-Ether. Earlier conceptions of the world always emphasized this affinity of the outspreading physical air with the Light-Ether which pervades it. This Light-Ether that is borne, as it were, by the air and is related to the air even more intimately than tone, also penetrates into our air organism, and it underlies what there passes into and out of it. Thus we have our astral body which is the bearer of feeling, is especially active in the air organism, and is in constant contact there with the Light-Ether.
Likewise the Ego, our I, is filled with instreaming and outstreaming Warmth-Ether, which leads to an important understanding of what happens during sleep when both our Ego and Astral body have left our Physical and Etheric bodies on the bed. In them the Life-Ether and Tone-Ether remains at work, but the Astral body has left these bodies and entered the very world in which the Light-Ether exists.
[page 17, 18] From the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking, the astral body is outside the human organism; the astral body and feeling do not then work upon the air organism, but the air organism that is connected with the whole surrounding world — is sustained from outside during sleep. And the human being himself, with his astral body and feeling, goes out of his body and passes into a world with which he is related primarily through the Light-Ether. While he is asleep man lives directly in an element that is transmitted to his astral body by the air organism during waking life. We can speak in a similar way of the Ego and the warmth-organism.
Can anyone read this and still wonder why materialistic science misses so much of the essential components of our human nature?
[page 18] It is obvious from this that an understanding of man's connection with the surrounding universe is possible only as the result of thorough study of these members of his being, of which ordinary, mechanistic thinking takes no account at all.
Especially important is the interpenetration of our solid, fluid, and aeriform organisms by our Ego (I) with its warmth-organism, and our so-called modern science misses that aspect of our humanness completely, up until now.
[page 18] But everything in man interpenetrates, and because the Ego is in the warmth-organism, it also permeates the air organism, the fluid organism, and the solid organism, it permeates them with the warmth which is all-pervading. Thus the warmth-organism lives within the air organism; the warmth-organism, permeated as it is with the forces of the Ego, also works in the fluid organism.
The Ego and Astral body are related in that they both leave the body at night when we are sleeping and return upon waking in the morning. But the four elements remain at work in the human body during sleep.
[page 19] During sleep, when the Ego and the astral body are outside, the four elements are nevertheless within the human organism: the solid supporting structure, the fluid organism, but also the air organism in which the astral body otherwise works, and the warmth-organism in which the Ego otherwise works. These elements are within the human organism and they work in just as regularly organized a way during sleep as during the waking state, when the Ego and the astral body are active within them.
What happens when we go to sleep at night, is this: our Astral body and Ego leaves our physical and etheric bodies lying on the bed, which makes room for the cosmic spirit to fill our warmth-organism and the cosmic astrality (world-soul) to fill our aeriform organism. (page 19, 20) It is as if we are in-breathing soul and spirit during the night while we sleep.
Steiner gives us this caveat for those mesmerized by the skewed view of modern science with its abstract logic and fancy electronic devices:
[page 20] If we study man without preconceived ideas, we acquire understanding not only of his relation to the surrounding physical world, but also of his relation to the cosmic spirituality and to the cosmic astrality.
This is one aspect of the subject. We can now consider it also from the aspect of knowledge, of cognition, and you will see how the two aspects tally with each other. It is customary to call 'knowledge' only what man experiences through perception and the intellectual elaboration of perceptions from the moment of waking to that of falling asleep. But thereby we come to know man's physical environment only.
Many people try to stay awake for days without sleep with no awareness of the deleterious effect such an endeavor has upon them. One thing that is lost is the ability for one's thoughts to be deepened and come into a clarity of knowledge after a good night's sleep. We all know the admonition, when one is stuck on a problem, to "sleep on it." Even in deep dreamless sleep, our knowledge is sharpened and brought into focus.
[page 21] It is generally believed that deep, dreamless sleep contributes nothing at all in the way of knowledge, that dreamless sleep is quite worthless as far as knowledge is concerned. But this is not the case. Dreamless sleep has its definite task to perform for knowledge — knowledge that has an individual-personal bearing. If we did not sleep, if our life were not continually interrupted by periods of sleep, we should be incapable of reaching a clear concept of the 'I,' the Ego; we could have no clear realization of our identity. We should experience nothing except the world outside and lose ourselves entirely in it. Insufficient attention is paid to this, because people are not in the habit of thinking in a really unprejudiced way about what is experienced in the life of soul and in the bodily life.
We have three forms of everyday knowledge: that which comes to us while we are awake, that which comes to us in dreaming sleep, and that which comes to us in our deep dreamless sleep. It is a shallow life we live if we acknowledge and depend solely upon the everyday knowledge which comes while we are awake. If we remained awake all the time, our spiritual being would fade and disappear because we would remain in the external world all the time. Periods of sleep are essential to our remaining as a full human being during this stage of our evolution.
[page 22, 23] We should lose ourselves entirely in the external world if we were always awake, if this waking state were not continually interrupted by sleep. But whereas dream-filled sleep mirrors back to us in chaotic pictures certain fragments of our inner, organic conditions, dreamless sleep imparts to us the consciousness of our organization as man — again, therefore, knowledge. Through waking consciousness we perceive the external world. Through dreams we perceive — but dimly and without firm definition — single fragments of our inner, organic conditions. Through dreamless sleep we come to know our organization in its totality, although dimly and obscurely.
In addition to these three forms of knowledge, often chaotic and disorganized, there are three forms of knowledge which are higher forms, lying above our waking consciousness, which require our individual development of spiritual organs, similarly to the way that individual yogis had to work hard to develop a means of controlling their breath to be able in ancient times to think and breathe as a rational being, which is something we do naturally in our own time. These are Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition, and Rudolf Steiner gives us in various places instructions for achieving these higher, super-sensible modes of perception. The three lower means of knowledge: waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep come naturally to us now. But the three higher modes of perception require conscious effort and training to acquire. The antiquated methods of the yogis which led to rational thinking and Ego consciousness must be replaced by the modern methods which lead to supersensible perception.
Steiner has now built the bridge he promised us in the title of this book, "The Bridge Between Universal Spirituality and the Physical Constitution of Man". From the solid body we rise into the fluid body, then into the aeriform body, and thence into the warmth body. As we track these steps down from ordinary consciousness, we go from the everyday Ego (warmth) consciousness, down to dream (air) consciousness, and down to dreamless sleep (fluid) consciousness. (Page 26)
[page 27] That Spiritual Science aims everywhere for wholeness of view, that it in very truth builds the bridge between the bodily constitution on the one side and the life of soul on the other, that it draws attention to states of being where the soul-element becomes a bodily element, the bodily element a soul-element — all this riles our contemporaries, who insist upon not going beyond what presents itself to external, prejudiced contemplation.
Lacking this bridge from spirit to body, materialistic scientists claim that the spirit and soul components of the human being do not exist, up until now. In the future, as what happened when people attained rational Ego functioning without special yogi practices, people will eventually achieve the three abilities of Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition. Those yogis of today who have already achieved them, such as Rudolf Steiner, are the way-showers for the rest of us that a bridge does exist between the spirit and body of every human being.
In Lecture II, Steiner strives to show us how morality makes possible the creative power of the world. First we must understand that in sleep, as in death, we soon feel deprived of our body and seek for it again in earnest. We wake from sleep searching for our body; we return to a new body when we are reborn. In the body we strive for the soul; in the soul we strive for the body. This is our dual nature as spirits embodied as human beings.
[page 30] As an Ego he would feel no connection with his body if he did not leave it during sleep and seek for it again on waking. It is through the deprivation undergone between falling asleep and waking that he is able to feel himself united with the body(3). So from the ordinary consciousness which has really nothing to do with our own essential being beyond the fact that it enables us to have perceptions and ideas, we are led to the dream-consciousness which has to do with actual bodily processes. We are therefore led to the body. And we are led to the body even more strongly when we pass into the consciousness of dreamless sleep. Thus we can say: On the one hand our conception of the life of soul is such that it leads us to the body. And our conception of the bodily constitution, comprising as it does the fluid organism, the aeriform organism, the warmth-organism and thus becoming by degrees more rarefied, leads us to the realm of soul. It is absolutely necessary to take these things into consideration if we are to reach a view of the world that can really satisfy us.
But in the course of human evolution we have arrived to a time when we have fallen so far into materialistic thinking that our morals have shrunken almost out of sight. We can build physical bridges across rivers, but with our abstract logical thinking and sensory-based sciences, we cannot build a bridge from body to soul. Our theory of evolution postulates a "heat-death" as the end our beloved planet Earth.
[page 31] According to the modern world-view, this [Earth] is a conglomeration from a primeval nebula, and everything will eventually become a kind of slag-heap in the universe. This is the picture of the evolutionary process presented to us by the science of today, and it is the one and only picture in which a really honest modern scientist can find reality.
In the science fiction movie A. I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) we are given exactly such an image of the future of our Earth: a drab, gray, lifeless world in which a robotic boy longs for his mother. What kind of morality can exist in a world of robots for which the idea of mother is but an abstract logical construct? Likewise, morals must have arisen in Man during the course of evolution and morals must die with Man. Modern science cannot build a bridge over water unless it maintains a logical consistency. Similarly science cannot remain consistent and build a bridge from soul to body! Nor can it remain consistent and postulate morals independently of human beings.
[page 31] Within this picture a moral world-order has no place. It is there on its own. Man receives the moral impulses into himself as impulses of soul. But if the assertions of natural science are true, everything that is astir with life, and finally man himself, came out of the primeval nebula and the moral ideals well up in him. And when, as is alleged, the world becomes a slag-heap, this will also be the graveyard of all moral ideals. They will have vanished. — No bridge can possibly be built, and what is worse, modern science cannot, without being inconsistent, admit the existence of morality in the world-order. Only if modern science is inconsistent can it accept the moral world-order as valid. It cannot do so if it is consistent.
This leads us to an anatomy which deals with the solid body of humans, ignoring the fluid and aeriform bodies, and grossly misconstruing the Ego or I. Only the insights of Spiritual Science can give us a living image of the full human being, which is what the portmanteau word "anthropo-sophy" means: full-human-knowledge.
Nor can we image a robot who is fired-up with enthusiasm for some project in which it displays generosity, goodness, morality, and freedom. Our modern physiology can describe the effects of enthusiasm on the body, but cannot trace its cause, as it doesn't exist in the physical world, but it certainly has an effect on the warmth-organism of the human being experiencing it. He is in the heat of enthusiasm, we might say. She is experiencing the flush of victory. We all know it and recognize it when we are in it or watching others in it. "Moral ideals have a stimulating, invigorating effect upon the warmth-organism." (Page 32)
[page 32] Think of a man whose very soul is fired with enthusiasm for a high moral ideal, for the ideal of generosity, of freedom, of goodness, of love, or whatever it may be. He may also feel enthusiasm for examples of the practical expression of these ideals. But nobody can conceive that the enthusiasm which fires the soul penetrates into the bones and muscles as described by modern physiology or anatomy. If you really take counsel with yourself, however, you will find it quite possible to conceive that when a man has enthusiasm for a high moral ideal, this enthusiasm has an effect upon the warmth-organism. — There, you see, we have come from the realm of soul into the physical!
When we are fired by a moral ideal, our warmth-organism experiences more warmth, but our aeriform or air-organism receives not warmth, but a source of light.
[page 33] Sources of light, as it were, are imparted to the air-organism, so that moral ideals which have a stimulating effect upon the warmth-organism produce sources of light in the air-organism.
The fluid body (etheric), which is warmed by moral ideals, receives the spiritual tone. Surprisingly, it is not the aeriform body which receives the tone, but the fluid body. The aeriform body (astral) receives light.
[page 34] Think of all the experiences in your life that came from aspiration for moral ideas — be it that they attracted you merely as ideas, or that you saw them coming to expression in others, or that you felt inwardly satisfied by having put such impulses into practice, by letting your deeds be fired by moral ideals . . . all this goes down into the air-organism as a source of light, into the fluid organism as a source of tone, into the solid organism as a source of life.
You will recognize these as the elements of Light-Ether, Tone-Ether, and Life-ether from earlier in these lectures. These three, combined with the fourth warmth-organism operate within us without our consciousness of them being present. The moral ideas we encounter and foster during our life between birth and death may not appear to produce fruit outside of the satisfaction we feel from being part of them, but they become part of the life which pervades the universe when enter our life between death and a new birth. The ashes-to-ashes path only applies to our physical body, i.e., the minerals we borrowed for a time from the Earth are returned to the Earth but not the organisms which pervade it — they go forth into the universe with us.
[page 35] So we see that our whole constitution, beginning with the warmth-organism, is, in very fact, permeated by moral ideals. And when at death the etheric body, the astral body, and the Ego emerge from the physical body, these higher members of our human nature are filled with all the impressions we have had. Our Ego was living in the warmth-organism, when it was quickened by moral ideas. We were living in our air-organism, into which were implanted sources of light which now, after death, go forth into the cosmos together with us. In our fluid organism, tone was kindled which now becomes part of the Music of the Spheres, resounding from us into the cosmos. And we bring life with us when we pass out into the cosmos through the portal of death.
When you look out on the starry universe at night, you see but visible light reflected from the spiritual realities of the myriad of souls whose sources of life, tone, and light have filled the universe.
[page 35] You will now begin to have an inkling of what the life that pervades the universe really is. Where are the sources of life? They lie in that which quickens those moral ideals which fire man with enthusiasm. We come to the point of saying to ourselves that if today we allow ourselves to be inspired by moral ideals, these will carry forth life, tone and light into the universe and will become world-creative. We carry out into the universe world-creative power, and the source of this power is the moral element.
Our moral ideas are the seeds of future worlds, and the uplifting we feel from them are time waves from the future(4) coming to us at the very moment we feel the uplifting and satisfaction from those seeds we plant into universe, into future worlds with our moral ideas and actions. The study of the whole human, which anthroposophy promises, provides the eponymous bridge between spiritual and material being.
[page 36] So when we study the whole man we find a bridge between moral ideals and what works as life-giving force in the physical world, even in the chemical sense. For tone works in the chemical sense by assembling substances and dispersing them again. Light in the world has its source in the moral stimuli, in the warmth-organisms of men. Thus we look into the future-new worlds take shape. And as in the case of the plant we must go back to the seed, so in the case of these future worlds that will come into being, we must go back to the seeds which lie in us as moral ideals.
Do you think when we use the expression cold, rational logic, we are talking metaphorically? When we talk and think theoretically, our warmth-organism is cooled down! In addition, our air-organism is paralyzed, our fluid organism's tone is deadened and our life-organism experiences an extinguishing. What some people, those who are unconscious of the spiritual realities, call metaphor, those who understand the spiritual world call reality. (Page 36) We extinguish worlds with our theoretical thoughts, and we bring new worlds into existence with our moral thinking, and this process is so seamless that few are aware of it happening.
[page 37] A past world dies within us, down to its very matter and energy. It is only because a new universe at once begins to dawn that we do not notice this dying of matter and its immediate rebirth. Through man's theoretical thinking, matter — substantiality — is brought to its end; through his moral thinking, matter and cosmic energy are imbued with new life. Thus what goes on inside the boundary of the human skin is connected with the dying and birth of worlds. This is how the moral order and the natural order are connected. The natural world dies away in man; in the realm of the moral a new natural world comes to birth.
As a child I always wanted to discover how the world worked, by which I meant the physical objects of the world moved and mixed with one another, all of which led me to study physics. Those first thirty years were thirty years of death for me because I concentrated on thinking using cold, abstract concepts.
[page 40] All the ideas we evolve about the external world, about Nature in her finished array, are theoretical ideas. No matter with what exactitude we envisage a machine in terms of mathematics and the principles of mechanics, or the universe in the sense of the Copernican system — this is nothing but theoretical thinking, and the ideas thus formulated constitute a force of death within us; a corpse of the universe is within us in the form of thoughts, of ideas.
Gradually into my thirties, I wanted more — the dead realm of Science with its abstract reasoning and logic had lost its charm for me, and I began to study the Arts side of Arts & Science, and felt warmed by what I found. I took several long courses in Volitional Science, which involved studying morality and freedom. I had finally moved in from the cold world of logic outside and sat down by the fire and warmth of moral thinking and living. I began to see the light, even though in the early days I imagined that light to be a metaphor rather than a spiritual reality. I grew ready to hear the message of Rudolf Steiner that there is only order in the world, not a dualistic natural order and moral order which has to be somehow reconciled with each other.
[page 40] These matters create deeper and deeper insight into the universe in its totality. There are not two orders, a natural order and a moral order in juxtaposition, but the two are one. This is a truth that must be realized by the man of today. Otherwise he must ever and again be asking himself: How can my moral impulses take effect in a world in which a natural order alone prevails? — This indeed was the terrible problem that weighed upon men in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century: How is it possible to conceive of any transition from the natural world into the moral world, from the moral world into the natural world? — The fact is that nothing can help to solve this perplexing, fateful problem except spiritual-scientific insight into Nature on the one side and Spirit on the other.
Along the way I studied astrology, but I found in it only more abstract logical thinking and calculations which chilled me instead of warming me. Why was this so? I found my answer inside the writings and thoughts of Rudolf Steiner which warmed me in its light-giving glow.
[page 41] We can look back from this world-conception to ancient times when man's picture of the universe was very different. All that has remained of it are those traditions which in the form in which they exist today — in astrology and the like — are sheer dilettantism. That is what has remained of ancient astronomy, and it has also remained, ossified and paralyzed, in the symbols of certain secret societies, Masonic societies and the like. There is usually entire ignorance of the fact that these things are relics of an ancient astronomy. This ancient astronomy was quite different from that of today, for it was based, not upon mathematical principles but upon ancient clairvoyant vision.
Suddenly I saw that the world view of Copernicus had replaced spiritual realities with abstract, logical realities, building a corpse of the solar system, of the universe, inside of us. Is the Earth the center of the physical universe? No, said Bruno and Copernicus and others that followed them. Is the Earth the center of the spiritual universe? Yes, we discover as we go through the period of death and a rebirth, our spirit expanding geocentrically through the sphere of Earth, then Moon, then Venus, then Mercury, then Sun, then Mars, then Jupiter, then Saturn, and on towards the Stars at the end of the Universe. This process of expansion also takes place every time we go through a period of sleep: we expand to the ends of the Universe. Is it the physical Universe? Is there any other Universe? There is only one order of the Universe, not a physical and spiritual order, Steiner says on Page 40 above. Clearly there are two ways of understanding the Universe, but to argue that one is the right way and one is wrong requires the kind of abstract logical reasoning which leads one, indeed leadens one, to death, relegated to being part of the corpse of a Universe instead of part of a living, breathing, light-filled Universe of freedom and love.
[page 43] Think of how greatly our responsibility is increased when we realize: If here on the earth there were no soul capable of being fired with enthusiasm for true and genuine morality, for the spiritual moral order in general, nothing could be contributed towards the progress of our world, towards a new creation; our world would be led towards its death.
There is a deep truth which reveals that the moral human draws Christ Light to Earth. Christ is available to help anyone in need, but that person must ask for help. This is shown many times in the Bible when Christ Jesus is asked for help by someone whose faith and belief in the possibility of being helped by Him rays out from the person like a light which is then reflected back manifold to the person. The Samaritan woman at the well, the woman touching the hem of his garment, the Centurion with the sick daughter, and so on — always there is an individual shining out light in a prayer which is then reflected back on them.
[page 43, 44] This force of light that is on the earth rays out into the universe. This is, to begin with, imperceptible to ordinary vision; we do not perceive how the moral impulses in man ray out from the earth into the universe. If a grievous age were to dawn over the earth, an age when millions and millions of men would perish through lack of spirituality — spirituality conceived of here as including the moral, which indeed it does — if there were only a dozen men filled with moral enthusiasm, the earth would still ray out a spiritual, sun-like force! This force rays out only to a certain distance. At this point it mirrors itself, as it were, in itself, so that here there arises the reflection of what radiates from man. And in every epoch the initiates regarded this reflection as the sun. For as I have so often said, there is nothing physical here. Where ordinary astronomy speaks of the existence of an incandescent globe of gas, there is merely the reflection of a spiritual reality in physical appearance.
This is a bitter pill for some people to take: the Sun is merely a reflection of light emitted from moral humans on the Earth. They have been carefully taught, as I was, that the Sun is some giant ball of gases undergoing a thermonuclear reaction which creates physical light and heat independently of our meager existence as tiny specks of animals crawling on the surface of one minor planet in its Solar System.
The last influential person to claim the spiritual reality of the Sun was the Emperor Julian who was reviled and ridiculed, was called thenceforth Julian the Apostate. What was his message? Simply this, "You are becoming more and more accustomed to look only at the physical sun; but there is a spiritual Sun of which the physical sun is only the mirror-image!" (Page 46) Ever since the time of Julian, it has become more difficult to speak the truth of the spiritual reality of Christ as the spiritual Being radiating the light which warms and fills our lives with freedom and love.
Feeling for me was something I was completely unaware of during my 30-plus years of dead physics thinking. That is not to say I didn't feel anything, but it was something which happened to me out of my awareness: it was just me. One day in my upper 30s, I read "Emma", my first Jane Austen book, and to my surprise, I found characters in the book and the author talking about feelings! I became aware suddenly that I had feelings, but I had never understood them as such and in particular never had accounted for the feelings my actions created in other people. I was studying Carl Jung's work at the time, especially his four types of people: the Intuitive, The Sensate, The Thinking, and the Feeling types. Clearly I had always been a Thinking type, in that all my decisions were made rationally, but using thinking, not feeling. It was a revelation to me when Jung described both thinking and feeling as rational functions! Layers of my neocortex had to stretch to comprehend how feeling could be a rational process. Clearly, I came to see, there are people who reason out things on the basis of feeling and they arrive at clearly rational and reasonable conclusions solely based on feelings. Now that I had been made aware that the way I reacted to things and people around me were feelings, it was a short step to begin making rational decisions based on my feelings. This was very freeing to me. I felt invigorated at the new freedom of expression and action this mode of operating gave me. I dove into Gestalt groups in which feeling was a prominent part of the process, usually led off by some question like, "What are you feeling now?" Questions which forced me into an uncomfortable position and into a knowledge that for some people feeling was important.
In one group session, I was on the hot seat working on a dream. In the dream I was in a small MG sports car with the top down driving up the Huey P. Long, a very narrow bridge, heading for the West Bank of the Mississippi River. In front of me was this guy on roller skates, skating up the bridge in the middle of the two lanes blocking me from passing him. We got near the top of the bridge and a gal was standing alongside her pickup truck which had broken down. The guy on roller skates simply looked at her, smiled, and skated on. I stopped my car and got out to help her. That was the dream and I had no idea of what it meant! The leader, Ed Hackerson, had me speak for each character, each component of the dream, the skater, the gal, the truck, the sports car, etc. and nothing made sense. Then Ed did a remarkable thing: he asked me to get up and in my stocking feet skate around the room as the guy on roller skates did in my dream. "This is crazy," I thought, but complied. Immediately, as I began to slide around the room taking on the attitude of the roller skater, I was feeling the way he did! I felt something! I felt a sense of freedom, especially freedom from taking responsibility for the gal, as I skated past her. This was a great gestalt for me! I was, for the first time in my life, living as a bachelor. I had gotten married in college, had gone directly from my first marriage into a second, and now unmarried, I was living alone, and had no one I needed to feel responsible for on a daily basis. Until working on this dream, I was unaware of my own freedom from responsibility. This was how I made one of my first rational decisions based on feeling. I had suffered for almost forty years, imprisoned in a deeply feeling person who did not consider feeling as existing, much less as an important source of making rational decisions. Feeling, rightly understood, links our thinking and actions. (Page 47)
For those of you Good Readers who may be primary thinking types and devaluate the importance of feeling, read what Steiner says in this next passage which opens Lecture III "The Path to Freedom and Love":
[page 47] Man stands in the world as a thinking, contemplative, being on the one hand, and as a doer, a being of action, on the other; with his feeling he lives within both these spheres. With his feeling he responds, on the one side, to what is presented to his observation; on the other side, feeling enters into his actions, his deeds. We need only consider how a man may be satisfied or dissatisfied with the success or lack of success of his deeds, how in truth all action is accompanied by impulses of feeling, and we shall see that, in reality, feeling links the two poles of our being: the pole of thinking and the pole of deed, of action. Only through the fact that we are thinking beings are we Man in the truest sense.
Thinking, feeling, and doing are the way we operate in the world. Whenever we are doing something, our will is in action. Yes, using the word will as a noun is an old-fashioned thing to do, but we can only understand how we operate as full human beings if we parse our actions into these three categories, Thinking, Feeling, and Will. Once we have done so, understanding the bridge between the spiritual and physical will become easier.
[page 48] It is inconceivable that anything should proceed from us in the way of actions or deeds — which may also take effect in the realm of social life — without our identifying ourselves in thought with what thus takes place. In everything that is of the nature of will, the element of thought is contained; and in everything that is of the nature of thought, will is present. It is essential to be quite clear about what is involved here if we seriously want to build the bridge between the moral spiritual world-order and natural-physical world order.
During a river cruise through Germany, I walked into Passau to buy some Alka-Seltzer Cold Medicine for my wife who had come down with a cold. When I located an Apotheke, I saw this man covered in a blanket, his right arm extended, holding a cane, and he was sitting in mid-air as if upon an invisible chair! His face was hidden under the blanket until he heard me locating some euro coins to place in his hat, and then he looked up briefly at me. I went in and asked for the cold medicine and walked out with a box of Alka-Seltzer. As I walked past the man in mid-air again, the thought came to me, "They gave me only Alka-Seltzer, not its Cold Medicine version." I walked back to the drugstore, and left with some strange named concoction that had an outline of a human torso with red shading around the lungs, throat, and head, clearly indicating a cold medication. I once more approached the mid-air man and realized that he had planted the thought in me to check the box and return to get what I had already walked a half-mile or more from the ship in very cold weather to buy. Curiously the cold medicine was several euros cheaper than the Alka-Seltzer and I placed half of my refund in his hat. My reasoning was this man is sitting there meditating and thought about where I was coming and somehow planted the question in my head to inspect my first purchase. One must understand that meditation is not inaction, that the will is fully engaged even in meditation, and things that none of the other people in the plaza would have thought, he thought and helped me acquire what I had come for as thanks for sharing my euros with him.
[page 48, 49] Imagine that you are living for a time purely in reflection as usually understood, that you are engaging in no kind of outward activity at all, but are wholly engrossed in thought. You must realize, however, that in this life of thought, will is also active; will is then at work in your inner being, raying out its forces into the realm of thought. When we picture the thinking human being in this way, when we realize that the will is radiating all the time into his thoughts, something will certainly strike us concerning life and its realities.
Looking back on that episode with the man in mid-air, I know that, but for his presence in the plaza, I would have walked back to the ship with the wrong purchase. Our life is filled with experiences like this, some of which we notice, others we never notice, but yet react to their having happened. These experiences in this life form our thought-content, be it rich or poor in content.
[page 49] The thought-content represents our inner destiny — to a certain extent. But within this life of thought there is something that is inherently our own; what is inherently our own is how we connect thoughts with one another and dissociate them again, how we elaborate them inwardly, how we arrive at judgments and draw conclusions, how we orientate ourselves in the life of thought all this is inherently our own. The will in our life of thought is our own.
Our will determines how we evaluate, how we judge, and how we orient ourselves in thought. And while the experiences of our life come during our time between birth and death, our will accompanies us as our birthright, something coming from the depths of soul with us into this life.
[page 49, 50] But through the will which rays out from the depths of the soul, we carry into what thus comes to us from the outer world, something that is inherently our own. For the fulfilment of what self-knowledge demands of us it is highly important to keep separate in our minds how, on the one side, the thought-content comes to us from the surrounding world and how, on the other, the force of the will, coming from within our being, rays into the world of thought.
"How do we become inwardly more spiritual?" Steiner asks on page 50. It is certainly not by studying physics and studying aspects of the physical, material world as I did for over thirty years. What happened to me to change my monofocus on the outside world was this: I stumbled upon a thin book by Rudolf Steiner in an Occult Bookstore I frequented. I bought the book, read it, and didn't understand much of anything he was talking about. Soon I found another tiny book, and the same thing happened. This process was repeated about ten times, and I began to wonder why I was buying these books which seemed to have nothing much to say to me. Today I understand that it was my will at work, judging what I should be reading, how I should be orienting my thoughts, and forcing me to evaluate the decisions it was causing me to make, namely buying these books. When the Internet became live, the first question I asked was "Who is Rudolf Steiner?" and I found a community of people who led me to read and study his basic works and only then could I begin to become inwardly more spiritual as I delved into his spiritual science which spoke to me as a scientist and led me inexorably into the second phase of my life's study — the study of the spiritual world and how the physical world, that I had spent the first half of my life studying, merged with the spiritual world. I was led from the fetters of the physical world to the freedom of the spiritual world.
[page 50] When we take in thoughts from the outer material world — and between birth and death we can take in only such thoughts — we become, as you can easily realize, unfree; for we are given over to the concatenations of things and events in the external world; as far as the actual content of the thoughts is concerned, we are obliged to think as the external world prescribes; only when we elaborate the thoughts do we become free in the real sense.
A line from a song goes "they have to be carefully taught", and that refers to the thought-content which comes from the outside world. So long as we continue to think the way we were taught, we are not free in our thoughts. An elementary school teacher who shows her students how to draw a tree is putting hobbles on the thoughts of all her students. This process usually carries on up through all the grades of education into college, and only takes a breather during post-graduate seminars in which original thinking is encouraged.
[page 50, 51] Now it is possible to attain complete freedom in our inner life if we increasingly efface and exclude the actual thought-content, in so far as this comes from outside, and kindle into greater activity the element of will which streams through our thoughts when we form judgments, draw conclusions and the like. Thereby, however, our thinking becomes what I have called in my Philosophy of Freedom: pure thinking. We think, but in our thinking there is nothing but will. . . . In this way we raise ourselves above the sway of the 'necessity' prevailing in the material world, permeate ourselves with the force that is inherently our own . . . Therefore freedom dawns when we enable the will to become an ever mightier and mightier force in our thinking.
We reach freedom when our will radiates into our thoughts, but what happens if our thoughts radiate into the realm of will? We unfold love when that happens. To operate in this world in freedom and love is the highest goal we can aspire to as human beings, in my opinion.
[page 54] Just as we attain freedom by irradiating the life of thought with will, so do we attain love by permeating the life of will with thoughts. We unfold love in our actions by letting thoughts radiate into the realm of the will; we develop freedom in our thinking by letting what is of the nature of will radiate into our thoughts. And because, as man, we are a unified whole, when we reach the point where we find freedom in the life of thought and love in the life of will, there will be freedom in our actions and love in our thinking. Each irradiates the other: action filled with thought is wrought in love; thinking that is permeated with will gives rise to actions and deeds that are truly free.
Thus you see how in man the two great ideals, Freedom and Love, grow together. Freedom and Love are also that which man, standing in the world, can bring to realization in himself in such a way that, through him, the one unites with the other for the good of the world.
How can our will penetrate into our life of thought? Only if our life of thought has no outer, physical reality. Can you think of the image you see in a mirror? Does it have a physical reality or is it but a reflection? Rightly understood, our thoughts have the nature of a reflection in a mirror, the mirror of our birth, as the reality of thoughts are only reflected into our current lifetime. This nature of thoughts allows the will, which arises from our metabolic processes, to permeate the life of our thoughts. (Page 54, 55)
[page 55, 56] The life of thought rays in from our existence before birth, or rather, before conception. The life of thought has its reality between death and a new birth. And just as here the object stands before the mirror and what it presents is a picture — so what we unfold as the life of thought is lived through in the real sense between death and a new birth, and merely rays into our life since birth. As thinking beings, we have within us a mirror-reality only. Because this is so, the other reality which, as you know, rays up from the metabolic process, can permeate the mirror-pictures of the life of thought.
The a priori concepts of philosophy and mathematics refer to things "before-birth" and thus point to the life of thought before birth which rays into our mirror-reality of thought in this lifetime. This understanding of the reality of their term a priori eludes most philosophers and mathematicians, up until now. (Page 56)
In an amazing metaphor, Steiner leads us to see the mirror-reality of thought as a womb into which we plant as seeds the gifts which come from our Ego, our individual I, during this lifetime, from which will sprout and grow fruit in our future and the future of humankind.
[page 59] Let us understand this rightly. What happens when man rises to pure thinking, to thinking that is irradiated by will? — On the foundation of the past that has dissolved into semblance, through fructification by the will which rises up from his egohood, there unfolds within him a new reality, leading into the future. He is the bearer of the seed into the future. The thoughts of the past, as realities, are as it were the mother-soil; into this mother-soil is laid that which comes from the individual egohood, and the seed is sent on into the future for future life.
When we offer our deeds in freedom and love, something like a plant begins to grow which bears fruit in the future of the world.
[page 59] On the other side, man evolves by permeating his deeds and actions, his will-nature, with thoughts; deeds are performed in love. Such deeds detach themselves from him. Our deeds do not remain confined to ourselves. They become world-happenings; and if they are permeated by love, then love goes with them. . . . When, out of semblance, through fructification by the will, we unfold that which proceeds from our inmost being, then what streams forth into the world from our head encounters our thought-permeated deeds. Just as when a plant unfolds it contains in its blossom the seed to which the light of the sun, the air outside, and so on, must come, to which something must be brought from the cosmos in order that it may grow, so what is unfolded through freedom must find an element in which to grow, through the love that lives in our deeds.
What we do has significance in the course of world-evolution, when we plant these seeds from our inmost being.
[page 60] Thus does man stand within the great process of world-evolution, and what takes place inside the boundary of his skin and flows out beyond his skin in the form of deeds, has significance not only for him but for the world, the universe.
In the 1970s I came across a cartoon in which a man was trying to cross a flowing stream that was too deep to walk across, but there were stepping stones and he had stepped carefully on the stones until he had reached the middle of the stream and there were no more stones. He was looking down at a sign sticking out of the stream which said, "COMING SOON, ANOTHER STONE". That's where we are at any point when we study the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner, each book, each set of lectures provides us another stepping stone, and brings to a place where we encounter the sign in our mind which says, "Coming soon, another stone." It is a journey which we take in freedom and love, giving Thanks after each stepping stone for our progress. These three lectures are small but they create a mighty bridge which allow us to cross over between universal spirituality and our own physical constitution, and in the process recognize that the deeds we perform in this lifetime will resonate through the ages of humankind to come, fructifying this Earth from a potential dead rock harboring a graveyard of bones into a thriving orchard in which a human community lives out their lives in freedom and love.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
As a physicist, I was taught that humans maintain their bodily temperature by the process of combustion, as though warmth were merely a physical attribute of being human. One must overcome this carefully inculcated prejudice if one is understand our spiritual and physical natures and how they are connected.
Footnote 2.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
The Brain: Mystery of Matter and Mind, Torstar Books/NY, 1984.
Footnote 3.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
The scaring of children, such as during the annual Krampas Laufen in Salzberg, Austria, has a salubrious effect because their Ego is scared temporarily out of their body, and upon returning they feel immediately more solidly connected to their body. I had heard this expressed as an effect, but now through this lecture of Steiner's, I understand how it happens.
Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
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