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Mystery of the Universe, GA#201
The Human Being, Image of Creation
16 Lectures, Dornach, Apr-May, 1920
Introduction by Gilbert Childs
Translated by George & Mary Adam, Revised by Matthew Barton
Published by Rudolf Steiner Press/UK in 2001
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2010
Chapter: Spiritual Science
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The subtitle "The Human Being, Image of Creation" seems to be a statement of hubris, but that judgment should be suspended until one has read and completely absorbed the lecture material Steiner presents us in this text. I have read all of this text, but readily admit that I have not completely absorbed it, up until now. If one wishes to have a chance to absorb it, even a little, one must be willing to cast the Copernican system of astronomy into the dustbin of history, relegating its usefulness to sending metal objects with instruments and cameras across the reaches of outer space, and occasionally a human or two. That antiquated system is useful for dry scientific expeditions, but not for understanding the human being or the creation of the cosmos with which we human beings find ourselves intimately connected, rightly understood.
Gilbert Childs in his Introduction says it all, "These findings bear Steiner's unique stamp of transparent authenticity and crystal clarity. Once, twice, or even thrice read, it will not fail to enthral." Often when reading a Steiner book of lectures for the first time, I find myself in the midst of mind-boggling concepts which stretch the neurons of my brain to the point of snapping. This is well and good because the living concepts of Steiner are meant for the mind, not for mere interconnected neurons. However, working through these concepts as best one can and subsequently allowing them to work on one's mind, they will bear fruit, just as the planting of a fruit tree will do in good time, given a good soil and the falling of rain and Sun's rays upon its leaves.
[page x, Introduction] Steiner averred that anthroposophy is rooted in cosmosophy, and has developed out of it; hence it must be so that knowledge of the one is knowledge of the other. Therefore, as human beings are primarily spiritual in nature, and only secondarily beings of matter, there can be no incompatibilities or disparities. In reality, we are not children of the earth but children of the heavens; we have descended from and been fashioned by cosmic powers, and made manifest from the earth beneath our feet. In overall terms, we are mere sojourners on the earth, which represents a lodging rather than a home.
Humans belong to the spiritual hierarchies as Spirits of Love and Freedom (Page xi) according to Steiner. We were seeded by and informed by the hierarchies above us, and allowed to grow in freedom and love toward the fulfillment of our destiny, one stage at a time.
[page xi] Stage by stage, we have as microcosms evolved from out of the macrocosm, from the time when the Gods thought and willed in us to that when we acquired an intelligence and free will of our own. For this to come about the severing of links with our divine origins in the purely spiritual realms was inevitable. In effect, human consciousness has evolved from a state of extensive apprehension of the spiritual world combined with limited awareness of the material world to limited awareness of the supersensible world but extensive understanding of the material world. During this lengthy process we acquired our present individual intelligence and free will.
During my reading of Quantum Enigma in 2009, it became clear to me that physicists had reached the end of the materialistic line because, as they stepped off the train, they noticed puzzles, paradoxes, and enigmas all around them, none of which could be explained by their previous form of abstract logical reasoning. Instead they did what any football team would do when faced with fourth and 97, they stepped back and punted switched from equations which described reality to equations which described their lack of knowledge of reality, i. e., probability equations(1). Clearly materialists can only fill up halfway the jar of knowledge with data and deductions from sensory perceptions; the other half of the jar must be filled with spiritual perceptions of the supersensible world. Materialists without a knowledge of it have strived earnestly to deride spiritual science, but Rudolf Steiner accepts the reality of the materialistic world, considering it as the complement of supersensible knowledge and useful for these temporary lodgings in which we find ourselves as we grow into the spiritual world.
[page 1] There are still many people who think that man acts just as inevitably as a stone falls to the ground. There you have the natural scientific coloring of the necessity concept. The view of those more inclined to Theology might be described as follows. Everything is pre-ordained by some kind of divine power or providence and man must carry out what is predestined by that divine power. Thus we have in the one case the necessity of natural science, and in the other case absolute divine prescience. In neither case can one speak of human freedom at all.
People today, dazzled by the technological marvels of materialistic science, rarely appreciate how little that science understands our world, how it produces a dead abstract logical conception of a living breathing world. (Page 3) How did this come about? Don't we know more about the human being today than in olden times? The answer is "no" and the reason involves the waning of spiritual perception as our sensory perception waxed. We got dumber as we got smarter.
[page 3] In the series of lectures given by our friends and myself, we tried to show how a connection must be made between the individual sciences and what these can receive from spiritual science. It is very desirable that within our movement there should be a strong consciousness of the need for such attempts; for if we are to succeed it is absolutely necessary to make clear to the outer world in a sense, to compel it to understand that here no kind of superficiality prevails in any domain, but rather an earnest striving for real knowledge.
It has been my goal in studying Rudolf Steiner's works to demonstrate the relationship between the material world and spiritual world. It's like that of a glass tumbler (in a water-filled sink) to the water it is immersed in the glass is in the water and the water is in the glass(2). The material world is in the spiritual world and the spiritual world is in the material world. Natural science describes the shape, materials, and other physical properties of the glass tumbler while ignoring the water. Spiritual science accepts natural science's description of the tumbler, but studies and describes the otherwise ignored water.
[page 3] It is true to say that from the middle of the fifteenth century, man's earlier concrete relation to the world has been growing more and more abstract. In olden times, through atavistic clairvoyance man knew much more of himself than he does today, for since the middle of the century intellectualism has spread over the whole of the so-called civilized world. Intellectualism is based upon a very small part in the being of Man; and it produces accordingly no more than an abstract schema of knowledge of the world.
Nowhere is the abstract knowledge of the world further apart than in the three dimensions as described by science. It pretends that each dimension is equal to the other in every respect. And yet, as Steiner is careful to show, that is not the case. If you ever read Abbot's classic book, Flatland, you could understand that to residents of Flatland, the very idea of a vertical dimension was incomprehensible. They had never experienced it, and therefore could not grasp it. We experience that vertical dimension very early in life, and every parent who has watched a one-year-old child stand up for the first child knows the dramatic change that comes upon the child when taking its first step into the vertical dimension.
[page 4, 5] Man experiences three-dimensional space. In the course of his life he experiences first the vertical dimension. As a child he crawls, and then he raises himself upright and experiences thereby the vertical dimension. It would not be possible for man to speak of the vertical dimension if he did not experience it. To think that he could find anything in the Universe other than he finds in himself would be an illusion. Man finds this vertical dimension only by experiencing it himself. By stretching out our hands and arms at right angles to the vertical we obtain the second dimension. In what we experience when breathing or speaking, in the inhaling and exhaling of the air, or in what we experience when we eat, when the food in the body moves from front to back, we experience the third dimension. Only because man experiences these three dimensions within him does he project them into external space. Man can find absolutely nothing in the Universe unless he finds it first in himself.
To ancients Man was intimately connected to the cosmos: the stars and planets flowed through Man as one large unity. They perceived different influences coming from twelve different directions in the sky and during clear nights they focused on these directions over the course of thousands of years. They noticed arrangements of stars which seemed like animals and eventually they named these constellations. The band in the night sky which held these star groups was therefore called the ring of little animals, or in the Greek, zoo-diac. They also felt the influences of the various planets on the various organs of their body. These influences were not something these people believed in, but experienced directly, and they wrote down descriptions of the influences which they experienced under various configurations of the stars and planets. Later this combined experiential knowledge was incorporated into the science of "star-knowledge" or astro-logy, in case the ability to directly experience these influences were ever to wane. Which, of course, they did, and in the absence of direct knowledge, people today have to believe in astrology, and they are looked upon askance if they do. That reaction to astrology indicates that the direct experience of these star-planet influences has faded away.
Man was able to find the planets in the cosmos because they experienced them within their bodily organs at one time. Man was able to create astrology because they experienced the influences from twelve sectors of the sky. Within the lifetime of Giordano Bruno, Man was no longer able to experience these aspects of the cosmos directly due to the deepening materialism and dedication to the physical world, and suddenly the night sky became an empty vacuum filled with distant objects such as dead planets and stars from whom we receive only tiny bits of light at night. Astrology was thrown into the bit basket of history as just another jejune mistake in the childhood of humanity. Astronomy with its abstract equations which predicted distances and locations came to replace what was called the superstitions of astrology. We humans have thrown the baby out with the bathwater and it's now time to retrieve the baby and revive our view of the spiritual realities in which we are immersed.
Quick summary of the three planes brought by Steiner out of the abstract Cartesian coordinates of x, y, z axes into the three human planes in which we live, move, and have our being. First consider the plane which divides our left and right sides of our body. This is the plane of Thinking and discriminating. The second plane divides our front from our back (anterior from posterior). This second plane does not exist for animals because they are not human and have no possibility of this anterior/posterior plane because the natural animal body is oriented parallel to the surface of the Earth instead of perpendicular to it as humans are oriented naturally. This is the plane of everything dealing with human Will. The third plane is that of Feeling which is the horizontal plane you form by stretching out your hands, it separates the head region from the body and limbs region, the above from the below.
What is the option that modern astronomy provides us?
[page 10] Naturally if one only takes this last remnant of the human being the three dimensions at right angles to one another if that is all one wants to imagine, then the Universe appears terribly poor. Poor, infinitely poor is our present astronomical view of the Universe; and it will not become richer until we press forward to a real knowledge of Man, until we really learn to look into Man.
Astronomers and physicists subtract away the essence of what it means to be Man and starve upon the abstract, dead logical constructs which remain. Having studied astronomy as a physicist, I have some acquaintance with the matter. I was trapped by my academic studies like a triangle in Abbott's Flatland. I would watch in awe as 3-D objects penetrated my 2-D world, a sphere appearing as a point, growing larger and then smaller till it became a point once more and disappeared. That was how the world of above and below, the world of feeling appeared to me. I didn't have a clue as to what I was feeling, it was just things which happened to me. One day I read Jane Austen's Emma and I was taken aback she was writing about feelings! A whole new dimension of existence opened up for me that was nowhere to be found in Skilling's "Electric Waves" or Margenau's "Quantum Physics". Like Alice consuming the "Drink Me" liquid, I grew out of the abstract me into a full human being who could now move through the Flatlands of astronomy and physics with ease. More importantly the things I talked to people about were full of meaning to everyone not just to the academic types.
During this process of growth, I studied Left and Right Brain functions, a subject of much interest in the 1970s and 80s, and one that I find Steiner was familiar with over ninety years ago. Here is his description of the distinction between Left and Right Brain processes. Note that he refers only to the external limbs which are cross-connected to hemispheres of the brain, so that left sense-organs (connected to the right hemisphere) are and charged with sensing outer objects, and our right sense-organs (connected to the left hemisphere) are charged with "sensing our sense" of them. (Page 11)
[page 11] We bisect our organism as it were into right and left; for we really act quite differently with our right and left sense-organs. This we can appreciate if we observe that with the left sense-organ we undertake as it were, the handling of outer objects; and in our thinking too, there is a sort of handling or feeling of external objects. With the right sense-organ we as it were 'feel our feeling' of them. It is then that they first become our own.
Try this experiment: bring your two hands together and interlace your fingers with fingers lying on top of each hand in the valley formed by the knuckles. Do that now. Observe which thumb is on top of the other thumb. Is your right thumb or left thumb? Whichever it is, separate your hands by several feet and bring them together again so the opposite thumb is on top of the other if your Right Thumb was on top, now your Left Thumb should be on top. Notice how different it feels? Awkward, perhaps? Difficult? Perhaps you would like to learn how to make both ways feel equally comfortable. Here's how to do it: Start with the natural way from the first time, let's say it was Left Thumb on top. Slowly move your hands apart, always keeping the Right Thumb and Fingers lifted against and touching the Left Thumb and Fingers. When you reach the extremities, roll over the tips of Thumb and Fingers and begin to approach with the Right Thumb and Fingers on top. Move slowly till both hands are interlaced as originally, only with the opposite Thumb on top. You may encounter some difficulty during this, so make sure that you allow your wrists to flex in order to complete the process. After a few times, you will find it possible to feel equally comfortable with either Thumb on top. This can be seen to be an Ego or "I-am" building exercise as it requires coordination between both your left and right hand sense-organs.
[page 11] We could never have attained to the ego-concept if we were not able to perceive, together with what we experience on the right, also that which we experience on the left. By simply laying the hands one over the other we have a picture of the ego-concept. It is indeed true that by beginning to use clear images instead of living merely in phraseology, man will become inwardly richer and will gain the faculty of visualizing the Universe in greater detail.
Animals lack an Ego and thus cannot experience abstract dimensions in space as any human being can. When a Zoologist calls Man the "highest primate" it is an insult to every human being who knows that no animal has an Ego.
[page 14, 15] The question is important: How do we manage to obtain abstract space dimensions from concrete ones? An animal could not do this! An animal would always feel its plane of symmetry as a concrete 'symmetry' plane, and it would not relate this symmetry plane to any abstract direction, but would at most, if it could think at all in the human sense, feel the turning (from one plane to another). The animal in fact does feel this turning as a deviation of its symmetry plane from the normal. Herein lie important and essential problems of Zoology, which will once again be illustrated as soon as Man studies them from the standpoint of their impulses in reality.
Anyone over the age of 60 has seen dramatic changes in automobiles during the twentieth century. If one has ever driven a car which had a crank to start the engine, as early Model T Fords, one knows how convenient the invention of the electric starter must have been. No longer did one have to walk outside in all kinds of weather to the front of the automobile, instead one pushed a button on the dashboard to start the motor. Every new incarnation of automobiles arrived with some function that previously one had to go outside to do or check: the oil level goes low and the engine light on the dashboard comes on, the tire pressure goes low and a light on the dashboard comes on. The dashboard went from a flat board designed to keep water from splashing on the driver (thus the dash-board) to what should be called the instrument panel or the sensory coordination center, the brain, if you will, of the automobile. Considering how the various generations of cars have evolved, it shouldn't be too foreign to consider that human beings undergo a similar process of evolution, namely, what forces were in one's limbs during a previous incarnation are now located in one's head. "Head forces are the metamorphosis of the limb forces of the previous incarnation." (Page 15)
Our head is the equivalent of the seed of a plant, the main difference is that the plant growing up away from the Earth whereas the human being grows down towards the Earth. In the womb we are first formed as all head, and then gradually the limbs are added, we born unable to stand erect, but as we complete our maturation outside of the womb, we eventually stand up and complete the process of growing down to the Earth. Thus, when looking at how the various portions of plants affect which portions of the human body, one must imagine the human being with its head under the ground, as if its head were a seed growing up.
This is the key to understanding how we have evolved abstract notions of space and directions: our head begins its existence independently of the Earth and only gradually grows down towards it.
[page 21, 22] Consider for a moment what we as civilized humanity have done since the beginning of this Fifth post-Atlantean epoch. We have thought about the Universe with our head. And it is the head that part of us which has made itself quite independent of the Earth that has contracted the world-movements into the abstraction of the three dimensions. We have the Copernican conception of the Universe, designed for us by the least appropriate means, the head, the essential characteristic of which is its emancipation from co-operation in the world movements. It would be somewhat as though you wished to obtain an idea, shall we say, of the movement of a railway train in which you are traveling, from a picture of it you draw with your hand, without reference to the movement of the train, but solely according to your own ideas. You draw something; you make yourself independent. But you cannot consider such a drawing as depicting the movement of the railway train; it has nothing whatever to do with it! And just as little to do with the world-process has a picture of it that we have designed according to external spatial astronomy, using for the purpose the instrument that is the most inadequate for its conception.
If you wish construct a model of how the Earth revolves around the Sun, take an old phonograph record, glue a round ball to its periphery, and start the turntable spinning. There will be the Earth revolving around the center of the turntable where the Sun would be located. Simple enough but what does this model leave out? Well, the Earth is spinning around the Sun more like a ball on a string whirled around with one's hand held in the air. But consider that the Sun is moving quickly through space. So imagine you are on the tip of a rocket rising straight into the air and are spinning the model of Earth around, what does it do? It trails after you as it spins around you. That is how the Earth trails the Sun during its travels through the universe. And we as humans on the surface of the rotating Earth traverse an amazingly complex path of spirals within spirals through the Universe.
[page 24] But I will show you first how to gain a conception of the true relation of the Earth to the Sun that the Earth actually follows the Sun in its path by searching for the one thing that will show us this relationship, namely certain processes in the human organism connected with the representative of the Sun in man the human heart. For it is by taking our start from the knowledge of Man that we must seek to attain to a knowledge of the Universe.
The method is to distinguish the three planes of the human being which relate to thinking, willing, and feeling, not to build a different set of lines of orbits of the Earth and Sun.
[page 26] I have tried to show you how, the moment one begins to pass to a more intensive experience of the three directions of space in one's own form, one realizes how these directions differ in nature and kind from one another; it is only the faculty of mental abstraction in the head which makes these three dimensions abstract and does not distinguish between above and below, left and right, before and behind, but simply takes them as three lines. And a similar error would immediately again be incurred if one set out to build any other construction into space in a purely abstract way.
The next bit of news will no doubt come as a shock: the Sun is really a black hole and does not generate light and heat but merely reflects it back from the rest of the Solar System. This might seem to some staunch materialists as weird as saying that the heart is not a pump, but rather the circulation of the blood moves the heart! The interesting part of these two phenomena is that they are isomorphic with each other: the Sun and the heart are both receivers of the bounty of the milieu in the center of which they are embedded! Both are hollow vessels which receive flow, pulsate, and emit flow back into their sphere of control. To be convinced of the truth of the heart's operation as a hydraulic ram which interrupts the flow of circulatory blood to create turbulence in order to oxygenate the blood, one need only observe the pulsation of the heart in a fetus, an organ that does not resemble a pump at all because it has no discernible structure nor muscular walls, but is merely an elongated portion of an artery.
October 22, 2013 Update: I received a link to this enlightening article which says, among other things,In 1932, Bremer of Harvard filmed the blood in the very early embryo circulating in self-propelled mode in spiraling streams before the heart was functioning. Amazingly, he was so impressed with the spiraling nature of the blood flow pattern that he failed to realize that the phenomena before him had demolished the pressure propulsion principle. Earlier in 1920, Steiner, of the Goetheanum in Switzerland had pointed out in lectures to medical doctors that the heart was not a pump forcing inert blood to move with pressure but that the blood was propelled with its own biological momentum, as can be seen in the embryo, and boosts itself with induced momenta from the heart. He also stated that the pressure does not cause the blood to circulate but is caused by interrupting the circulation. Experimental corroboration of Steiner's concepts in the embryo and adult is herein presented.
As for the true nature of the Sun, scientists have never been able to explain why the temperature in the atmosphere of the Sun is higher than that inside the Sun, a scientific fact which seems to indicate that the Sun is a charged body traveling in a galactic magnetic field and thus acting as a generator of electromagnetic radiation. All of which, if so, is exactly as Steiner described it 90 years earlier. Plus, scientists have postulated Black Holes as existing in various distant parts of the universe, but no one actually has seen one and thus the Sun could be one and no one would know, and if that were so, Steiner would be right on his other point that the Sun's center contains "negative space which absorbs everything which comes near it". The radiation of the Sun is not absorbed because it happens at and above the surface of the Sun, being generated by the motion of the large charged body in a magnetic field. If there are some thermonuclear reactions within the body of the Sun, these would be confined to the surface area and a side effect of the Black Hole in the deeper interior of the Sun, which we have no instruments for measuring.
[page 37, 38] Look at the principal course of the blood-vessels in the human organism. Seen from above it is like a looped line. Instead of drawing it, we should follow the hieroglyphs inscribed in our own selves; for then we would learn to understand the nature of the qualities in the Universe outside. This we can only do when we are able to recognize and experience livingly the fact of which I have also spoken in public lectures, the fact namely, that the heart does not work like a pump driving the blood through the body, but that the heart is moved by the circulation, which is itself a living thing, and the circulation is in its turn conditioned by the organs. The heart, as can be followed in embryology, is really nothing more than a product of the blood circulation. If we can understand what the heart is in the human body, we shall learn to understand also that the Sun is not, as Newton calls it, the general cable-pulley which sends its ropes (called the force of gravitation) towards the planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and so forth, drawing them by these unseen forces of attraction, or spraying out light to them, and the like; but that just as the movement of the heart is the product of the life-force of the circulation, so the Sun is no other than the product of the whole Planetary system. The Sun is the result, not the point of departure. The living co-operation of the solar system produces in the center a hollow, which reflects as a mirror. That is the Sun! I have often said that the physicist would be greatly astonished if he could travel to the Sun and find there nothing of what he now imagines, but simply a hollow space; nay, even a hollow space of suction which annihilates everything within it. A space indeed that is less than hollow. A hollow space merely receives what is put into it; but the Sun is a hollow space of such a nature that anything brought to it is immediately absorbed and disappears. There in the Sun is not only nothing, but less than nothing. What shines to us in the light is the reflection of what first comes in from Cosmic space just as the movement of the heart is, as it were, what is arrested there in the co-operation of the organs, in the blood-movement, through the activity of thirst and hunger and so forth.
Truly there is in operation the macrocosm of the Sun in the Cosmos mirroring the microcosm of the Heart in the Human Being. If the human being evolved in synchronism with the cosmos, as Steiner describes in his Outline of Occult Science, then this is surely to be expected. If we are ever to follow the dictum over the Temple of Apollo, "Know Thyself", we will find this knowledge of ourselves revealing a knowledge of the cosmos and vice versa it all happens at the same time.
There is an interesting religious aspect which suggests itself at this point, people who would gladly acknowledge taking Christ into their heart might balk at accepting the reality of Christ residing in the Sun, the heart of our Cosmos, up until now. We discover the living Nature of our macrocosm aligning with the living Christian religion of our microcosm.
During life between death and a new birth what was formerly outside of us is inside of us, instead of looking out into the cosmos as we do now, we look then within ourselves. "In a certain sense we look then from the periphery upon the center." (Page 103)
[page 108, 109] Between birth and death we say: My heart is within my breast, and in it converge the streams or motions of the blood-circulation. At a certain stage of development between death and re-birth we say: In my inner being is the Sun and by this expression we mean the actual Sun, which the physicist claims to be a ball of gas, but which is in reality something quite different. We experience the actual Sun in the same manner as we experience here the heart. Here the Sun is visible to the eye, whereas during the time between death and re-birth the evolution of the heart on its path to the pineal gland, as it undergoes on the way a wonderful metamorphosis, is the cause of sublime experiences. We experience the complete system of our blood-circulation the forces at work in it, that is, not the substances as such. As existence between death and re-birth proceeds, these forces undergo transmutation, so that, when once again we come to be born again on earth, they have become the forces of us of our new nervous-system.
Here is a concise summary of the tripartite human as a being of thinking, feeling, and will. In our thinking we are awake, in our feeling as in a dreaming sleep, and in our will as in a deep unconscious sleep. Our will is connected to our metabolism and part of our limb-nature and all this is "really in a state of perpetual sleep" which means a deep unconscious sleep.
[page 114] We must be absolutely clear that this state of sleep continues in regard to our inner organism, when we ourselves are awake. We can therefore say that the 'limb-being' as carrier of our 'will-being', is in a permanent state of sleep. Our circulation or 'rhythmic-being', which may be described as mediating between the head-organization and the limb-being (the latter extending into our interior in metabolism) is in a continuous dream state. This rhythmic system is at the same time the outer instrument for our world of feeling. The world of feeling is rooted wholly within our rhythmic organization and while our metabolic system, together with its outward extension the limbs is the vehicle of the will, the rhythmic system is the vehicle of our feeling life, and is related to our consciousness in the same way as our dream state to our waking life. Between waking and falling asleep, we are only really awake in our life of ideation and thought.
One must also be aware that our limbic-being includes the various processes of digestion as well as the operation of our outer limbs.
[page 114, 115] Thus man, in his life between birth and death, is in an intermittent waking state in respect to his life of thought, in a dream state regarding his emotions and feelings, of which the rhythmic system is the vehicle; and he is in a state of continuous sleep as regards his limbs and metabolic system. We must realize at this point that really to comprehend human nature, it is necessary to fix our attention upon the fact of the extension of the limb-nature into the interior of man. All the processes that are ultimately connected with the abdominal region, everything connected with assimilation, digestion, as also with the secretion of milk in females, and so forth, all these processes are a continuation of the limb nature, directed inwards. So that in speaking of the will-nature or metabolic-nature, we do not mean only the outer limbs, but the continuation inwards too of this limb activity. In respect to all this, intimately connected as it is with the will-nature, we are continuously asleep.
Here we encounter another difference between what Steiner perceives as an inner reality and what the science of physiology holds to be true. Steiner reveals that there are no motor neurons, only neurons of perception. Thus when a neuron is severed which would otherwise report the position of a man's leg, e.g., that man will not be able to move his leg, because he will not even know the leg exists, even if he can see it with his own eyes!(3)
[page 115] The nerve merely informs us that we have a limb, it tells us of the presence of such a limb. This nerve as such has no part in the activity of the Ego upon that limb. A direct correspondence exists between the limb and the will, which latter is associated in man with the Ego-being, and in the animal with the astral body. All that Physiology has to say in respect, for instance, of the speed of transmission of the so-called will, needs to be revised; it should be impressed upon us that here we have to do rather with the velocity of transmission in respect of the perception of that particular limb. Naturally anyone initiated into modern physiology can challenge this assertion in a dozen ways. I am well acquainted with these objections. But we have to try to rise a really logical thought process in this matter, and we shall find that what I say here corresponds with actual facts of observation, while what is said in physiological textbooks does not.
The Deed of Golgotha, when Christ Jesus's blood flowed from the Cross into the Earth and forever changed the nature of the Earth, setting it glowing for spiritual sight. It was this glow which the Hebrew initiate Saul encountered on the road to Damascus and caused him to understand and proclaim the Good News of the arrival of Christ, the Great Sun Spirit as a living presence thenceforth in the Earth. This Deed, this Event both physical and spiritual, cannot be rightly understood unless the human being is understood as a being of body, soul, and spirit. A speed bump to that understanding was installed in the ninth century at a meeting of Church fathers.
[page 123, 124] It is possible to understand the physical man as an expression of the Spiritual which is experienced between death and re-birth. The physical world explains itself and brings the spiritual world into this explanation. But we must first know this, saying to ourselves: The phenomena of nature are only a half, as long as we have them as mere sense-phenomena. We must first know this. Then we can find the bridge and understand the event that gave Earth its true meaning the event of Golgotha: then we can understand how a purely spiritual event can at the same time enter right into physical life. If a man is not prepared to see the relation of the physical to the spiritual aright, he will never be able to grasp the fact that the Event of Golgotha is both a spiritual Event and an Event of the physical plane. When in the eighth General Ecumenical Council, in the year 869, the Spirit was eliminated, it was made impossible to understand the Event of Golgotha. The interesting point is that while the Western Churches started from Christianity, they took great care that the essence of Christianity should not be understood. For the nature and essence of Christianity must be grasped by the Spirit. The Western creeds set themselves against the Spirit, and one of the principal reasons why Anthroposophy is prohibited by them is that in Anthroposophy we have to relinquish the erroneous statement that 'man consists of soul and body' and return to the truth that 'man consists of body, soul and Spirit'. The prohibition indicates the interest taken on that side to prevent man from coming to the knowledge of the Spirit, and so arriving at the true significance of the Event of Golgotha. Thus the whole knowledge which, as we see, throws so much light on the understanding of Man, has been entirely lost.
Steiner says, in effect, that "empty talk is the sister of falsehood" and it is the task of each and every one of us to find our way into a knowledge of the spirit which will lead us out of the labyrinth of empty talk which has masqueraded so long for religious dogma. (Page 125)
There is a treasure chest in every lecture in this volume, too many subjects to be dealt with comprehensively in this review. In Lecture 16 Steiner sums up the case for human beings and our life and purpose here on Earth. If ecologists think humans are destroying Earth, in a long-term sense, they are exactly right. We are annihilating Earth and will continue to do so until it passes into nothingness, like a Hollywood set made expressly for a movie is often destroyed in the final dramatic scenes, but like that movie, the film is saved, the pictures survive the complete destruction of the set.
[page 211, 212] Throughout the world of Nature, conversion of forces prevails. In man alone matter is thrown out by pure thought. That matter which is actually cast out of the human being by pure thought is also annihilated, it passes into nothingness. In man, therefore is a place in the universe which matter ceases to exist.
If we reflect upon this, we must think of all Earth-existence as follows: Here is the Earth, and on the Earth, man; into man passes matter. Everywhere else it is transmuted. In man it is annihilated. The material Earth will pass away in proportion as matter is destroyed by man. When, some day, all the substance of the Earth will have passed through the human organism, being used there for thinking, the Earth will cease to be a cosmic body. And what man will have gained from this cosmic Earth will be pictures. These however, will have a new reality, they will have preserved an original reality. This reality is that which proceeds from the force which, as central force, makes itself felt through the Mystery of Golgotha. Thus, when we look to the end of the Earth, what do we see? The end of the Earth will come when all its substance is destroyed as described above. Man will then possess pictures of all that has taken place in earthly evolution. At the end of the earthly period the Earth will have sunk into the Universe, and there would remain merely pictures, without reality. What gives them reality however, is the fact of the Mystery of Golgotha having been there within human evolution giving these pictures inner reality for the life to come. Through the Mystery of Golgotha, a new beginning is set for the earth's future existence.
In the end, freedom cannot be proved, only grasped, and it can only be grasped through the kind of sense-free thinking which Steiner described and illustrated in his classic work, The Philosophy of Freedom.
[page 214] Anyone who seeks to be constrained to recognize Christ cannot find His Kingdom, he can rise only to the Universal Father-God, who however, in our world, has now only a share in a decaying world, and precisely on account of the decay of His own world, has sent the Son. Spiritual cosmogony must unite with natural cosmogony, but they must unite in man and that by a free act. Hence we can only say of one who wishes to prove freedom that he is still at an ancient heathen standpoint. All proofs of freedom fail; our task is not to prove freedom, but to take hold of it. It is grasped when one understands the nature of sense-free thinking. Sense-free thinking however needs again the connection with the world, and this connection it does not find unless it unites with what has been introduced into the evolution of the world as new substance through the Mystery of Golgotha.
As you finish this review, I hope it is clear to you that you have only tasted the appetizers and the full banquet awaits your attention in the sixteen lectures of this book, many of which were not touched upon in this review. As with any banquet, the best sauce is a good appetite, so order yourself a copy of this book, work up an appetite, and be ready for a feast.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1. Quantum equations, such as Schrφdingers famous Wave Equation, give the probability of certain events happening in reality. The results are useful, but in no way describe the underlying reality of the quantum world.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. The "Glass Tumbler in a Sink-full of Water" metaphor was used by Bishop Kenneth Ulmer on the TV broadcast of the Hour of Power in November 2010.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. In the case of "alien limbs" where one leg is paralyzed, seeing is often not enough to be convinced that the leg is there.This creates a paradoxical relationship to the leg that Sacks explains so cogently in his book, "A Leg To Stand On". Here is Oliver Sacks, a neuropathologist with a damaged leg, who is experiencing this directly rather than hearing it reported from a patient. In Sack's account of his recovery we follow his trials and dilemmas as his direct sense of self is minus a leg, but his conscious mind can see the leg which all his other senses tell him is not there. (from Rosenfield)Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
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