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An Outline of Occult Science, GA# 13
Rudolf Steiner
A Science of Revealed Secrets
Chapters 1, 2, 3 Nature of Humankind
Published by Anthroposophic Press of Hudson/NY in 1972
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2003


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In 1996 when I first read my copy of this book, I wrote a short review of it that you can read in A Reader's Journal, Volume 1. Seven years and over a hundred Steiner books later, it is time for me to devote myself to an in-depth re-reading of this book. I can confirm that what Steiner had to say in those many books, "if inserted in this book in the proper place" would appear as "an amplification of the outline" given in this book. (Page xvi) One cannot appreciate the scope of this book or its degree of condensation unless one understands that all of the words he spoke in over 6,000 lectures from 1900 through 1925 provided an elaboration of some part of this book.

My reasons for re-reviewing this book are threefold. One, it will give me a chance to re-study Occult Science with a grounding of knowledge I didn't have the first time. Two, it gives me a chance to present Steiner's great insights in a vernacular that can reach a greater audience today. Three, I hope to make Steiner's insights available to everyone, mothers, engineers, hairdressers, scientists, managers, philosophers, physiologists, psychologists, and business professionals, among others, not just to anthroposophists. Few people of the 17th Century read Isaac Newton's Principia — it was those who read it in Latin and converted Newton's insights into everyday prose who brought about the Newtonian Revolution almost a hundred years later when Edmond Halley's prediction, based on Newton's laws, of the return of a comet was confirmed. One hundred years since Steiner began working on this book, it's time for a Steinerian Revolution of thought and spiritual outlook.

To devote myself properly to the task of reviewing this book, I have broken it up into three reviews which will divide the book into three almost equal parts. This review is Review 1 in the list below. Review 2 is completed and is linked below. Review 3, when completed, will be at the link provided below.

Review 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3 - Nature of Humankind (this review)
Review 2: Chapter 4 - Evolution of the Cosmos and Humankind
Review 3: Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8 - Initiation, Future of Evolution, Misc.

This is a landmark book, written in 1909 by Rudolf Steiner who, in his Preface to the Fourth Edition, suggests that it really ought to be called "An Outline of the Supersensible World Conception." (Page xxiv) I disagree strongly with those who would weaken the foundation of this fine work by giving it the name "An Outline of Esoteric Science" in a well-meaning effort to popularize Steiner's books. Steiner cannot be any clearer than when he describes his choice of the word "occult" to describe the science he outlines within this book. He says that "Occult Science" is a science in which what was previously hidden from view or occult is revealed for all who read this book. He cannot be any clearer as to his choice of the word "occult" for the title of his book than in these two passages:

[page xiii] The fact that I have entitled this book Occult Science has immediately called forth misunderstandings. From many sides was heard, "What claims to be science must not be secret, occult." How little thought was exercised in making such an objection! As though someone who reveals a subject matter would want to be secretive about it. This entire book shows that it was not the intention to designate anything "occult," but to bring everything into a form that renders it as understandable as any science. Or do we not wish to say when we employ the term "natural science" that we are dealing with the knowledge of "nature"? Occult science is the science of what occurs occultly insofar as it is not perceived in external nature, but in that region toward which the soul turns when it directs its inner being toward the spirit.

[page 4] This work is intended for readers who will not permit their impartiality to be taken away from them just because a word may arouse prejudice through various circumstances.

In other words, if one is put off by the word occult in the title of the book, but overcomes that prejudice and reads the book, one thereby shows exactly the independence of thought that allows one to receive full benefit from the book. Those, on the other hand, who are put off by the word occult and read the book to find sustenance for their prejudices will find ample reason to criticize the book severely and will receive no other benefit from their reading whatsoever. They will have, in effect, stumbled over the raw Kimberley diamond and cursed the rock containing it!

Some may wonder how it's possible to talk about the supersensible world to humans who perceive only those things of the sensible world, but Steiner says "It is just as comprehensible as the finished picture of the painter is to the man who does not paint." With this as his guiding principle he decided to produce a book which "could be understood by every thinking human being who allows no obstruction to interfere with his understanding." Clearly no one willingly allows obstructions to interfere with one's understanding, but just as one puts blinders on a horse to negotiate busy city streets, scientists don materialistic blinders which cripple their ability to understand the supersensible world, up until now. Knowing that to be a fact in 1909, Steiner risked the publication of this book anyway. What he says in the passage below may certainly yet be the case for many scientists in 2003 as I write these words.

[page xii] I say this today, stating at the same time that in 1909 the publication of this book appeared to be a risk. For I knew indeed that professional scientists are unable to call up in themselves the necessary impartiality, nor are the numerous personalities able to do so who are dependent on them for their judgment.
But before my soul there stood the very fact that at the time when the consciousness of mankind was furthest removed from the world of spirit, the communications from that world would answer a most urgent necessity.

In the various Appendices, Steiner took pre-emptive and retaliatory strikes against critics of his work, as in this next passage written in 1925 when he challenged those who claimed that his work was only a re-hash of earlier works, some going back to ancient times. The references, which his critics cite as the source of his perceptions, rightly understood, provide ample confirmations that his spiritual perceptions were accurate.

[page xiv] Objections have repeatedly been made to my perceptions of the spiritual world by maintaining that they are transformed reproductions of what, in the course of the ages, has appeared in human thought about the spirit world. It is said that I had read this or that, absorbed what I read into the unconscious, and then presented it in the belief that it originated in my own perception. I am said to have gained my expositions from the teachings of the Gnostics, from the poetic records of ancient oriental wisdom, and so on.

"These objections are superficial," Steiner quickly adds. He did not get his information from the texts cited but from his own spiritual vision. Born with a powerful clairvoyant perception of the spiritual world, he quickly discovered it was not safe to let people know this, so he hid his abilities until he had completed a comprehensive education in, among other things, natural science, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, and the arts. When Steiner speaks of his perceptions, we can take them as strongly representing the facts as we would accept the boundary markings of trained surveyors. We would not require that we be able to use the surveyors's instruments and make the same calculations as they did to verify the results they provided to us. The fact that our new survey matches previous surveyors's work we take as confirmation that our surveyors did a good job, not as evidence of their having copied someone else's work. If we ask the surveyors if they are confident that they produced an accurate survey, we might expect them to say that they carefully examined every step to ensure accuracy, just as Steiner does below:

[page xiv] My knowledge of things of the spirit is a direct result of my own perception, and I am fully conscious of this fact. In all details and in the larger surveys I had always examined myself carefully as to whether every step I took in the progress of my perception was accompanied by a fully awake consciousness. Just as the mathematician advances from thought to thought without the unconscious or autosuggestion playing a role, so — I told myself — spiritual perception must advance from objective imagination to objective imagination without anything living in the soul but the spiritual content of clear, discerning consciousness.

Why is it necessary to have access to the supersensible worlds? The answer is that it is not necessary to do so, especially for people who are focused solely on things of the sensory perceptible world. A physicist, a lawyer, a biologist, an anthropologist, a sociologist, an environmentalist — none of these need access to supersensible worlds to do their jobs. Steiner's point is that anyone deeply concerned with the meaning of life itself will not find adequate answers without investigating supersensible worlds, the worlds that have been occulted or hidden from scientists.

[page xix] . . . any human soul, by reflecting deeply, will in the long run be unable to disregard the fact that its most important questions concerning the meaning and significance of life must remain unanswered if there be no access to supersensible worlds. We may theoretically deceive ourselves about this fact, but the depths of the soul-life will not tolerate this self-delusion. — If we do not wish to listen to these depths of the soul, we shall naturally reject any statement about supersensible worlds. Yet there are human beings — really not few in number — who find it impossible to remain deaf to the demands coming from these soul depths. Such people must always knock at the door that conceals, according to the opinion of others, the "inconceivable."

If you are reading this review, chances are pretty good that something in the depths of your soul-life is calling you. If so, you may understand and forgive those who have yet to hear this calling from their souls. If you are a scientist already, you will be aware that it is not considered scientific to claim that it is possible to penetrate into the supersensible worlds, and as Steiner says, the reasons for this "are in a certain sense irrefutable." And he readily admits the difficulty this admission causes him in this next passage:

[page xx] It appears, indeed, to be almost impossible that someone in a certain sense admits the reasons for the inapprehensibility of the supersensible worlds and yet at the same time continues to speak about them.

Even if the proofs of the scientific intellect are irrefutable, Steiner says that "they need not be decisive for reality." This is not an easy concept to grasp, so he gives us a comparison to help us grasp it. We cannot see into supersensible worlds with our ordinary human cognitive functions, just as scientists cannot see into the heart of a cell with their ordinary human cognition. They require a strong microscope to augment their human sight — it is as if the mechanical, human-made microscope creates a new and stronger organ of sight for them. They have no hesitation, if they require a closer view at the microscopic world, of pulling out a stronger set of lens. Steiner points out that our natural human cognition can be given a stronger set of lens, not by any mechanical means, but by spiritual means.

[page xxii] The human power of cognition can be strengthened and enhanced, just as the faculty of eyesight can be strengthened. The means, however, for strengthening cognition are of an entirely spiritual nature; they are purely inner soul functions. They consist in what is described in this book as meditation and concentration (contemplation). Ordinary soul-life is bound to the instruments of the body, the strengthened soul-life frees itself from them.

The instruments of the body are our ordinary organs of sense perception, our eyes, ears, taste, smell, and tactile receptors. These are the instruments which human-made scientific instruments are designed to augment. By their creation of these augmentations to human sense organs, they hypothesize that all human cognition is simply a derivative of the human physical body with its nervous system. They conclude from this premise that what Steiner calls "soul-life" is simply a figment of his imagination — nothing more than another by-product of the nervous system. These professional scientists exhibit the very amateurishness which they accuse Steiner of; they accuse him without examining the very premises upon which he bases his claims. They manufacture an hypothesis and use it as if it were a bludgeon to subdue any who would hold another hypothesis.

[page xxiii] Here certain entirely comprehensible habits of thought confront what is described in this book so sharply that they preclude at present any prospect of coming to an understanding. We are here at a point where the wish must make itself felt that in the present age it should no longer be in keeping with spiritual life to decry a direction of research as fantastic and visionary because it diverges abruptly from our own.

Certainly no scientists worth the name scientist would dispute the validity of a field of science without examining it — they would never do as Steiner's severest critics have done: "attempt to discredit a completely independent striving for truth by failing to judge it on its own merit." That there are such scientists yet today, who would belittle spiritual science, calling it a subjective delusion without doing a thorough investigation, tells us more about the scientists than about spiritual science. If they did but examine spiritual science earnestly on its own terms, they would find that Rudolf Steiner strives for and achieves objective experiences which have universal validity when recognized entirely inwardly in one's soul-life. He achieves this not by bringing forward pieces of old doctrines such as Theosophy or Gnosticism or Rosicrucianism and binding them in new book covers, but rather by providing truths which resonate with the current abilities of the evolved human being in our time. His result is a "striving for truth" worthy of the name "spiritual science."

[page xxv, xxvi] The important point is that here, with the means that are possible and adequate for the soul in this present period of human evolution, an insight is attempted into supersensible worlds, and that from this point of view the riddles of human destiny and of human existence beyond the limits of birth and death are observed. It is not the question of a striving bearing this or that ancient name, but of a striving for truth.

In his Preface to the First Edition, Steiner takes three important pre-emptive strikes against the expected critics of his work. That he can so accurately predict the reaction to his work indicates a knowledge of the natural science training of those who would label his work as "amateurish" that is not matched by an equivalent knowledge of spiritual science training on their part. The first criticism might sound like this coming from a natural scientist reading the first few portions of this book:

[page xxvii] "It is astonishing how such assertions are at all possible in our age. The author treats the simplest scientific concepts in a manner that shows the most inconceivable ignorance concerning even the most elementary facts of scientific knowledge."

[page xxviii] "Whoever has read a few pages of this book will, according to his temperament, lay it aside either with a smile or with indignation, and say to himself, 'It is certainly queer what eccentricities can be brought forth by a wrong trend of thought in the present day. It is best that such expositions be laid aside with many other freaks of the human mind.' "

[page xxxi] "For the philosopher, such uncritical, naive, amateurish stuff is unbearable and to deal with it further would be nothing but a waste of time."

To proceed with reading this book after such strident critiques one must be like the frog who fell into the liquid in the butter churn and kept paddling until a mound of butter formed under his feet and he was able to jump out. When asked by the frog who from the rim of the churn had been advising him of the folly of his actions, "Why did you keep paddling? Didn't you hear me? The frog gave him a perplexed look, put his hand over his ear and said, "What did you say?" One must be deaf to the skeptical critics if one is to discover the essential realities of human existence which will only form beneath our very soul-life if we keep paddling and striving in the spiritual science way that Steiner lays out for us in his books and lectures.

One must be aware that Steiner's grounding in natural science, physiology, and philosophy prepares him to anticipate such criticisms and to answer them boldly and comprehensively in the various Prefaces, which any student of spiritual science would do well to study as carefully or more carefully than the rest of the book. These two passages sum up his response to the critics:

[page xxxiii] The author also understands quite well the critic who generally regards the descriptions in this book as an outpouring of wild fancy or a dreamlike play of thoughts. All that is to be said in this regard, however, is contained in the book itself.

[page xxxiv] Many who are gladly satisfied with a mere belief in a "supersensible world" will perhaps find that this book makes too great a demand on the powers of thought. Yet concerning the communications given here, it is not merely a question of communicating something, but that the communication be in conformity with a conscientious view of the sphere of life in question. For it is indeed the sphere in which the highest things and the most unscrupulous charlatanry, in which knowledge and crass superstition so easily meet in actual life, and where, above all, they can be so easily confused with one another.

Natural scientists are generally not aware that they maintain a certain attitude of soul by focusing entirely on sensory perceptions. As such they are oblivious, for the most part, to the possibility of applying their scientific activity to knowledge of non-sensory world-content.

[page 6] Occult science desires to free the natural-scientific method and its principle of research from their special application that limits them, in their own sphere, to the relationship and process of sensory facts, but, at the same time, it wants to retain their way of thinking and other characteristics. It desires to speak about the non-sensory in the same way natural science speaks about the sensory. . . . It retains the mental attitude of the natural-scientific method; that is to say, it holds fast to just the thing that makes natural research a science. For that reason it may call itself a science.

One must come to understand that it is more difficult to be a spiritual scientist than a natural scientist. It is similar to the difficulty of being a veterinarian versus being a medical doctor. To the uninitiated, it would seem easier to deal with animals than humans, but it is often found that students who flunk out of veterinary school enter medical school and become doctors. Why? Because medical doctors have only one species to deal with, veterinarians many. Likewise a spiritual scientist must study many "species" of natural science and develop the ability in spiritual science endeavors "to hold fast to the scientific mode of thinking."

Steiner's scientific mode of thinking was criticized by Anthony Storr when, on page 75 of his book, Feet of Clay, he said, "Steiner tried to anthropomorphize the whole world; to identify with flowers, animals, and all other phenomena as well as with other people." This is a serious misunderstanding of Steiner's usage of the parallels that exist in all life-forms at all levels of existence. The importance of those parallels to comprehending the spiritual world has been embedded in the ancient dictum, "As above, So below." Life is like a hologram — you cut off one small piece of a hologram and you get the whole picture. In all life-bearing processes, you will find these parallels that Storr tries to trivialize by calling "anthropomorphisms" — what Steiner does is use those comparisons between, for example, the plant world and the human world, to describe ineffable experiences that would otherwise remain undescribed. When one finds that the relationship between a plant and a human being is completely inverted, one can not accuse Steiner of blindly anthropomorphizing the two -- some supersensible sight must be in operation.

The proof of the validity of Steiner's teaching is in the eating — not in the appearance of the food to the casual observer, not in the whiff of a passerby, but in the eating and digestion of the meal he prepares for the hungry diner. The meal he prepares is not fast food with the scientifically proportioned fats and carbohydrates of the natural scientist all of which can be measured by sensory data, but rather it is a nutritious meal whose very proof lies in the soul-nourishment it provides. One must take into account the difference between the way facts present themselves from the sense world to the natural scientist versus the way they present themselves from the supersensible world to the spiritual scientist.

[page 9] In natural science, the facts present themselves in the field of the sense world; the exponent of natural science considers the activity of the soul as something that recedes into the background in the face of the relationships and the course of sensory facts. The exponent of spiritual science must place his soul activity into the foreground; for the reader only arrives at the facts if he makes this activity of the soul his own in the right way. These facts are not present for human perception without the activity of the soul as they are — although uncomprehended - in natural science; they enter into human perception only by means of soul activity. The exponent of spiritual science therefore presumes that the reader is seeking facts mutually with him. . . . These facts cannot be discovered if the path to them is itself not already a proof. Whoever really travels this path has already experienced the proving in the process; nothing can be accomplished by means of a proof applied from without.

The current phenomenom of labyrinth walking can be taken as a strong metaphor for what the student of spiritual science must do — discussion will not provide a proof — one can only discover the proof of the efficacy of the labyrinth by walking it. That this is not generally recognized with respect to occult science leads to much of the scathing and unfair criticism of occult or spiritual science.

[page 10] Anyone who occupies himself with an exposition of occult science will soon see that through it concepts and ideas are acquired that previously he did not possess. Thus he also acquires new thoughts concerning his previous conception of the nature of "proof." He learns that for an exposition of natural science, "proof" is something that is brought to it, as it were, from without. In spiritual-scientific thinking, however, the scientific thinking the soul employs for proof, lies already in the search for facts. These facts cannot be discovered if the path to them is itself not already a proof. Whoever really travels this path has already experienced the proving in the process; nothing can be accomplished by means of a proof applied from without. The fact that this is not recognized in the character of occult science calls forth many misunderstandings.

There are two thoughts, Steiner tells us, from which occult science springs. One can see immediately that these two thoughts must accompany each other as neither would comprehensible without the other.

[page 11] These two thoughts are the following. First, behind the visible there exists an invisible world, concealed at the outset from the sense and the thinking bound up with the senses; and second, it is possible for man, through the development of capacities slumbering within him, to penetrate into this hidden world.

How could there be an invisible world concealed from our senses if no one had been able to penetrate and confirm for us its existence? How could someone penetrate into that world if it didn't exist? This analysis is lost on three varieties of souls who claim (pages 11, 12):

1.) There is no invisible world.
2.) There is an invisible world, but no human can penetrate it.
3.) There is an invisible world, but one must have faith in it and not even try to penetrate it.

Have you ever been lost in a maze? The kind that fills a large estate's grounds and is marked off by six foot high hedges? The thought eventually occurs to anyone lost in such a maze that it would sure be nice to be able to elevate oneself about thirty feet in the air to find a way out of the maze. There are many riddles in life that cannot be understood until one lifts oneself into the spiritual world to get a long view of the situation. Life is like a puzzle with an enigma on both ends. Only by the conscious activity of lifting ourselves by our bootstraps into the spiritual world, are we able to solve the puzzles that fill life and unlock the enigmas that bracket it on both ends. The older one gets, the larger those enigmas loom, and the greater the motivation for unlocking them. Thus, youngsters can ignore the enigmas while they work on solving the puzzles for themselves. But sooner or later they will confront the enigmas of birth and death whether they unlock them consciously first or not. In the first three chapters of this book, Steiner gives us solutions to the puzzles of life and unlocks the enigmas for us. We need only walk thoughtfully the path that he has laid out for us to follow.

[page 12] It can become clear that the observation of the visible world presents riddles that can never be solved out of the facts of that world themselves. They will never be solved in this way, although the science concerned with these facts may have advanced as far as is possible. For the visible facts, through their very inner nature, point clearly to a hidden world. Whoever does not discern this closes his mind to the riddles that spring up everywhere out of the facts of the sense world.

For such a man, one who holds an opinion that humans are unable with the sensory apparatus of human cognition to perceive the spiritual world, his opinion will become for him a self-fulfilling prophecy or paradigm. It was Thomas Kuhn, the famous philosopher of science who pressed the word "paradigm" into service to explain the limiting effects of holding such opinions in his landmark book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. If, on the other hand, it is possible to develop another kind of cognition, then a new paradigm replaces the old and all bets are off. A man without knowledge of the new paradigm of cognition should withhold criticism for the very good reason that he doesn't know what he's talking about - he is passing judgment on something of which he openly professes ignorance! (page 13)

[page 13] We cannot deny anyone the right to ignore the supersensible, but there can never be any good reason for him to declare himself an authority, not only on what he himself can know, but also on all that a man can not know.

As with walking a labyrinth, "only that person is able to acknowledge the correctness of the path of occult science who is willing to familiarize himself with its characteristics." (Page 14)

Okay, if any skeptics among you, dear Readers, have gotten this far, I imagine they are thinking, "So what if I don't wish to familiarize myself with occult science? The world won't fall apart!" That may or mayn't be so. Read what Steiner says on that topic:

[page 15, 16] This question by no means concerns only the individual human being, only his personal welfare and misfortune. Precisely through true occult-scientific observations man arrives at the certainty that, from a higher standpoint, the welfare and misfortune of the individual is intimately bound up with the welfare or misfortune of the whole world. The human being comes to understand that he injures the whole universe and all its beings by not developing his forces in the proper way. If he lays waste his life by losing the relationship with the supersensible, he not only destroys something in his own inner being — the decaying of which can lead him finally to despair — but because of his weakness he creates a hindrance to the evolution of the whole world in which he lives.

One can certainly find ample indications of despair in the world by reading the statistics on suicides. One study of 1,000 auto fatalities with only the driver in the car indicated that 85% of the drivers had a previous suicide attempt. Add to the total suicides statistics events such as these, which are usually not noticed or counted as suicides, and the suicide rate is even higher than the official statistics. And suicide is usually the only escape perceived when one is in the throes of despair, up until now. If someone came up with a magic pill that would prevent suicides, doctors would be prescribing them to millions of people. Well, funny thing is, someone did create such a pill, but it has the unfortunate side-effect that if the person stops taking the pill, despair will set in and precipitate an immediate suicide. I lost a personal friend a few years ago to that very kind of pill. What if someone came up with a sure-cure for despair that worked the first time, every time, for every one, and it didn't involve someone making a buck off of selling it, wouldn't that be great? Only problem is: few would believe it would work.

[page 16] The human being can deceive himself. He can yield to the belief that there is no hidden world, that what appears to his senses and his intellect contains everything that can possibly exist. But this deception is only possible, not for the deeper, but for the surface consciousness. Feeling and desire do not submit to this deceptive belief. In one way or another, they will always crave for a concealed something, and if this is withdrawn from them, they force the human being into doubt, into a feeling of insecurity of life, indeed, into despair. A cognition that reveals the hidden is capable of overcoming all hopelessness, all insecurity, all despair, in fact all that weakens life and makes it incapable of the service required of him in the cosmos.
This is the beautiful fruit of the knowledge of spiritual science: that it gives strength and firmness to life, and not alone gratification to the passion for knowledge. The source from which this knowledge draws its power to work and its trust in life is inexhaustible. No one who has once really approached this source will, by repeatedly taking refuge in it, go away unstrengthened.

Does this begin to sound like religious dogma to some of you? If so, I imagine that turns you immediately. Maybe the thought arises in your mind, "How can Bobby buy all this dogma that Steiner presents?" That's a reasonable question — after all, dogma is alleged knowledge for which belief is based on authority. But this is not the case at all with me, Rudolf Steiner, or occult science. Let me allow Steiner to explain:

[page 18] If we read communications from the outer sense worlds, we are reading about them. But if we read communications about supersensible facts in the right way, we are living into the stream of spiritual existence. In absorbing the results we, at the same time, enter upon our own inner path to them.

Recall our labyrinth-walking metaphor. Reading communications from the outer sense worlds would be like reading about walking the labyrinth. Reading communications about supersensible worlds would be like walking the labyrinth. One may walk a labyrinth the first time because of reading about walking the labyrinth, but the second time one will walk because of the spiritual experience one received during the first walk.

In this next passage, which will bring Chapter 1, "The Character of Occult Science", to a close, Steiner explains that man is the instrument by which man is able to perceive spiritual worlds. We have made instruments that can augment man's senses, instruments that perceive infra-red, ultraviolet, and X-radiation which exceed the capability of man's senses, but we will never create a machine that can perceive the spiritual world because man is the only instrument which can do that. Since every one carries the instrument around, it is only a matter of learning how to activate that instrument if one wishes to attain a knowledge of higher worlds. For those interested, Steiner wrote an entire book devoted to that subject. My review of that book is as woefully inadequate as my 1996 review of Occult Science was, unfortunately, but the two reviews do work as pointers to important books.

[page 20] In the spirit and true sense of the word, no real scientist will be able to find a contradiction between his science built upon the facts of the sense world and the method by which the supersensible world is investigated. The scientist makes use of certain instruments and methods. He produces his instruments by transforming what "nature" offers him. The supersensible method of knowledge also makes use of an instrument. This instrument is man himself. This instrument, too, must first be made ready for higher research. The capacities and forces given to man by nature, without his assistance, must be transformed into higher capacities and powers. Man is thereby able to make himself the instrument for research in the supersensible world.

Steiner has the utmost respect for natural science. He studied it, he understands it, he acknowledges its importance for humanity, and he recognizes its limitations — something that many natural scientists seem to be oblivious of. How does this show up in a natural scientist? When the scientist makes a statement such as "Consciousness is an evolving property of nature in the highest primate." Or "We can only find God by studying astronomy." What Steiner knows clearly is the boundary between the natural science and spiritual science, and natural scientists often do not even acknowledge the possibility of existence of spiritual or occult science. "Reveal the occult and they will come" could be Steiner's motto:

[page 26] Acknowledgment of the concealed, however, will not be won by contending against opinions that result with logical accuracy from the denial of the concealed, but by placing the concealed itself in the proper light. Then those for whom "the time has come" will acknowledge it.

Chapter 2 The Essential Nature of Mankind

Chapter 2 deals with "The Essential Nature of Mankind". In it we will use our new found respect for the techniques of spiritual science investigation. We will walk the labyrinth and allow our souls to be filled as we do. We will learn about aspects of the human being that we may have never heard of before, a series of bodies with strange names at times, a series of concepts with strange implications. We will walk ever inward as these wonderful imaginations slowly rise up before us. We will feel more than know that something important is filling our innermost being.

The most obvious portion of the human being is the physical body. It is the body composed of minerals of the Earth — Mother Earth, as it is called — an apt metaphor because we receive all of our nutrients from Her to build and sustain our physical body. Those nutrients are composed of lifeless minerals from the Earth that have been organized in various forms, from liquids such as water to plant and animal organisms. Mother Earth rotates on her axis so that we may have the life-giving benefits of the Sun's rays for a certain period each day. We are as dependent upon the Earth as a finger is dependent upon the human being it is attached to — the finger can only live detached from its mother human for a short period of time before it begins to decompose and the minerals and liquids will dissolve, evaporate, and eventually turn to lifeless dust. When a finger is severed from a body, what is it that is lost to the finger? Obviously blood flow, nerve connections, and muscle connections are lost — these can be seen with our normal senses. But something else is lost that is vital to the finger, that gives it sustainable life, and that causes dissolution of its minerals when it is lost. That something is also vital to our entire body and its permanent loss brings death. Steiner expresses this vital element in the passage below.

[page 23] Supersensible perception, however, is able to observe, as an independent member of the human entity, what prevents the physical substances and forces during life from taking their own path, which leads to dissolution of the physical body. Let us call the independent member the etheric-body or life-body.

What is the etheric body? It is an organizing force that swims within our physical body. It is present at all times in all parts of our body, except during times of pain or severe trauma. Smash a toe and the etheric body of the toe withdraws for a time and pain is left in its wake. When the toe heals the etheric body fills it once more. When a mother kisses her child's bruised elbow, that kiss likely draws the etheric body back into position and removes some of the hurt. The etheric body is constantly moving in circles and shows up in the activity of children who love to be in motion, almost constantly "running around" — in performance arts such as ballet. After dinner dancing is a natural result of the etheric body's desire to float around in circles on the dance floor — and in adults, who play sports of all kinds, who run around in circles, on the basketball court, in field and track events, in the spinning discus thrower, in the round and oval tracks for races, etc. I mention all these things so you can recognize in your own life when your etheric body is active and thus know that you have one. If you've ever seen someone go into shock from a trauma, you will recognize the great changes that take place when the etheric body leaves the physical body. If it does not return shortly they will die. If you've ever heard of someone who nearly died recount how they saw their entire life flash before their eyes, you were listening to an account of what happens when the etheric body leaves the physical body for even a short time. The etheric body holds all the memories of our life and preserves them with complete accuracy.

If a building tries to get started without an architect, all one will have is a pile of building materials. There may be crews ready to assemble the materials who know what connects to what, but without an architect to design what the building will look like, the building will remain only a pile of building materials. The etheric body is that architect of our body. And it's on duty 24/7 so long as we are alive.

[page 26, 27] This ether body, then, is a second member of the human entity. For supersensible cognition, it possesses a higher degree of reality than the physical body. . . . the ether body penetrates the physical completely and it is to be looked upon as a kind of architect of the latter. All organs are preserved in their form and shape by means of the currents and movements of the ether body. The physical heart is based upon an "etheric heart," the physical brain upon an "etheric brain," and so forth. The ether body is organized like the physical body, only with greater complexity. Whever in the physical body separated parts exist, in the ether body everything is in living, weaving motion.
The human being possesses this ether body in common with the plants, just as he possesses the physical body in common with the mineral element. Everything living has its ether body.

The next higher body to be investigated as to its nature and how it fits into the big picture of the complete human being as seen by supersensible sight is the astral body. Everything living that is awake or conscious has an astral body.

One does not need supersensible sight to know that one has dreams upon awakening. You have a long, complicated dream in which you are duck hunting and after a long day, a duck finally comes over your blind where you shot the duck. You awake to discover that a book had fallen off the edge of a desk. The sound of the book hitting the floor triggered the dream which was built so that the book hitting the floor coincided with the shotgun blast. Since the book falling also woke you up, the dream's real time duration was under a second, but the length of the dream in dream-time seemed hours long. Dreams occur when the astral is returning to the etheric body upon awakening. When the astral body is gone, you have dreamless sleep as only your physical and etheric bodies are present. The exact record of memories stored in the etheric body are not available to you while awake, but during the re-entering of the astral body into the etheric body during waking-up, your astral body can access your etheric body's memories for a very short time period and cook up dreams for you. While you are awake, the astral body provides consciousness for you of everything that happens to you in real-time. You respond to sensations of pleasure and pain, you have desires, hungers, you suffer, you feel sadness, delight, joy, in other words, the entire gamut of human emotions well up in you because of the active presence of the astral body which only occurs during waking consciousness. If you experience any of these things mentioned here, you will know that in you is an active astral body at work.

Now to examine in detail the role of the astral body from the perspective of supersensible sight. This next passage is long , but if you read it carefully, you'll notice it includes a little summary of evolution within it and a thumbnail of the three bodies we are studying as they relate to the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms in which each body is the highest evolved body for one kingdom. The physical body for the mineral kingdom, the etheric body for the plant kingdom, and the astral body for the animal kingdom.

[page 27, 28] Supersensible observation advances from the ether body to a further member of the human entity. In order to aid the student in forming a visualization of this member, it points to the phenomenon of sleep, just as it pointed to the phenomenon of death when it spoke of the ether body. -- All human endeavor rests upon activity in the waking state, in so far as the manifest is concerned. This activity, however, is only possible if man again and again gathers new strength for his exhausted forces from sleep. Action and thought disappear in sleep; all suffering, all pleasure are submerged for conscious life. As though out of hidden, mysterious depths, conscious forces arise out of the unconsciousness of sleep as man awakens. It is the same consciousness that sinks into shadowy depths when we go to sleep and arises again when we awaken. The power that awakens life again and again out of a state of unconsciousness is, according to supersensible cognition, the third member of the human entity. We may call it the astral body. Just as the physical body is unable to retain its form by means of the mineral substances and forces contained in it, but only by being interpenetrated by the ether body, so likewise the forces of the ether body are unable, by themselves, to illuminate this body with the light of consciousness. An ether body, left entirely to itself, would have to remain in a continuous state of sleep. We might also say: it could only maintain a plant-existence within the physical body. An awakened ether body is illuminated by an astral body. For sense-observation, the activity of the astral body disappears when man sinks into sleep. For supersensible observation, the astral body still exists, but it appears to be separated or withdrawn from the ether body.

It is an irony that the natural scientists who make so bold as to claim that the astral body does not exist, require their astral body to collect the sensory impressions that allow them to do their work. (Likewise, they need to have an Ego body, as we shall see shortly, in order to even make a claim such as, "The astral body does not exist.")

[page 28] Sense-observation is not concerned with the astral body itself, but only with its effects within the manifest, and during sleep these effects are not directly present. In the same sense that man has his physical body in common with the . minerals, his ether body with the plants, he is, in regard to his astral body, of the same nature as the animals. Plants are in a continuous state of sleep. A person who does not judge accurately in these things can easily fall into the error of ascribing a kind of consciousness also to plants that is similar to that of animals and men in their waking state. That, however, can happen only if he has an unclear idea of the nature of consciousness. It is then stated that if an external stimulus is applied to the plant it makes certain movements like the animal. One speaks of the "sensitivity" of some plants that, for example, contract their leaves if certain outer stimuli act upon them. Yet it is not the characteristic of consciousness that a being reacts to certain stimuli, but that the being experiences something in its inner nature that adds something new to the mere reaction. Otherwise, one could also speak of consciousness when a piece of iron expands under the influence of heat. Consciousness is present only when, through the effect of heat, the being, for example, inwardly experiences pain.

If you got nothing from the above passage other than to understand that we are conscious because we have an astral body and that plants are not conscious, it will have been worth it. On the other hand, if that's all you got, plan to re-read this above passage after you've finished Review 2 and you'll find it making even more sense than it did your first time through. Learning how to apply the bootstrap process to the study of occult science is an essential part of studying this complex and interwoven material.

The Ego body is the next body of the human being to be studied and fills out the four basic bodies of the human being, which are the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, and the Ego body. You will find each body referred to by slightly different terms, e.g., ether body instead of etheric body. Some authors do not use "body" when referring to the Ego or immortal "I Am" — it is a stylistic preference with no deep meaning otherwise. Steiner is clear on the use of the word "body":

[page 24] The word "body" also must not be misunderstood. In designating the higher things of existence, it is necessary to use the words of ordinary language, and for sense-observation these words express only the sensory. From the standpoint of the senses, the ether body is, naturally, nothing of a bodily nature, however tenuous we may picture it.

Note these special meanings of the bodies: The ether of the "etheric body" is not the ether through physicists earlier thought light waves traveled. The "life body" does not refer to the old vitalist concept of "life force" discarded by natural science. The astral body refers to a body we acquired from the stars and that is the origin of its name. The word Ego is not ego of Freud and psychology although it may seem to have some of the same characteristics. In fact, one does well to go easy on the natural science or sensory analogies when imagining things of the spiritual world. Even the word "thing" itself refers to a sensory object viewed with the senses in common parlance. Steiner will use comparisons with the physical world to help you to create imaginations of the spiritual world — remember these are the best way he had to communicate his experience of the spiritual world to someone else. Accept these imaginations and they will soon begin to live in you, not at first, when they will seem a bit strange, but over time they will develop as you add more and more of them to your growing spiritual vocabulary and imaginations file. In some lecture Steiner made a comment to the effect that it would be strange if the explanation of life and death, the human being and the Cosmos were not very complicated. It is complicated, but knowable if you will allow the concepts to build up within you over time. Be patient.

Now for the crowning achievement of humankind, the fourth body, the Ego body, the "I Am", which is possessed by neither mineral, plants, or animals, sign-language-speaking chimps notwithstanding. I am about to abandon you to walk through a labyrinth of Steiner's construction. If you get lost, either return to the top and start over, or skip the rest of the passage and return to read it through later. This is one paragraph that spans three pages in the book and contains one complete description of the Ego.

[page 28 to 30] The fourth member of his being that supersensible cognition must ascribe to man has nothing in common with the world of the manifest surrounding him. It is what distinguishes him from his fellow-creatures and through which he is the crown of creation belonging to him. Super-sensible cognition forms a conception of this additional member of the human entity by calling attention to the essential difference in the experiences of waking life. This difference appears at once when man realizes that in the waking state he stands, on the one hand, always in the midst of experiences that of necessity come and go, and that, on the other hand, he has experiences in which this is not the case. This becomes especially clear when human, and animal experiences are compared. The animal experiences with great regularity the influences of the outer world, and under the influence of heat and cold, pain and pleasure, under certain regularly recurring processes of its body, it becomes conscious of hunger and thirst. The life of man is not exhausted with such experiences. He can develop passions and desires that transcend all this. In the case of the animal it would always be possible, were we able to go far enough, to show where the cause for an action or sensation lies, outside of or within the body. With man this is by no means the case. He can produce desires and passions for whose origin neither the cause within nor without his body is sufficient. We must ascribe a special source to everything that falls within this domain. In the light of supersensible science this source can be seen in the human ego. The ego can, therefore, be called the fourth member of the human entity. — If the astral body were left to itself, pleasure and pain, feelings of hunger and thirst would take place in it; but what would not occur is the feeling that there is something permanent in all this. Not the permanent as such is here called the "ego," but what experiences this permanency. We must formulate the concepts precisely in this realm, if misunderstandings are not to arise. With the becoming aware of something enduring, something permanent in the change of the inner experiences the dawning of the "ego feeling" begins. The fact that a being feels hunger, for example, cannot give it an ego feeling. Hunger arises when the renewed causes of it make themselves felt within the being in question. It pounces upon its food just because these renewed causes are present. The ego feeling appears when not only these renewed impulses drive the human being to seek food, but when pleasure has arisen at a previous appeasement of hunger and the consciousness has remained, thus, making not only the present experience of hunger, but the past experience of pleasure the driving force in the human being's search for food. — Without the presence of the ether body, the physical body would decay. Without the illumination by the astral body, the ether body would sink into unconsciousness. In like manner the astral body would have to let the past sink, again and again, into oblivion were it not for the "ego" to carry this past over into the present. What death is for the physical body, and sleep for the ether body, oblivion is for the astral body. One might also say that life belongs to the ether body, consciousness to the astral body, and memory to the ego.

In talking about the etheric body above, I mentioned that the etheric body stores "memories" -- since we are talking here about memory in the context of the Ego, it is necessary to distinguish between the nature of the memory stored by the etheric body and by the Ego. The etheric body records every event that occurs in one's life in exact detail. Upon death, those events are spread out before one as a great panorama of one's life. This panorama arises as the etheric body becomes dislodged from the physical body in the first day or so after death. This effect can be observed by those who have had their etheric body dislodged temporarily as during trauma or shock -- they see their "life flash before their eyes" as it is usually described. Once more, we have sensory based evidence from other humans that substantiates Steiner's supersensible sight.

What happens to the stored images of the etheric body after the short time that the panorama is present? We know from other readings of Steiner that the etheric body dissolves into the distant reaches of the cosmos soon after death. We also know of the Akashic records which is supposed to contain a record of everything that happened in the history of the world. It is the ability of reading the Akashic record that enabled Steiner to learn many of the things he shared with his readers and listeners. It occurs to me, and I may be wrong about this, that it makes good sense that the images and events stored in an etheric body during life would, upon one's death, be released into the Akashic record, and that release would make a person's life events available thereafter in the Akashic record.

What distinguishes the memory of the etheric body from the memory of the Ego body? The etheric body contains every event that occurs to one, but the Ego body contains those events that were consciously experienced by the astral body and passed along to the Ego body. The astral body is like a television station broadcasting a memory event and the Ego is like a video recorder making a copy of the event to be used for later reference. This process of later reference allows humans to do something that animals cannot: they can learn from the events that occurred to other humans at other times, some of them no longer alive, a process which Korzybski called "time-binding". Animals, to the contrary, cannot learn from the experiences of other animals; they cannot, so far as we know, do time-binding(1) .

The concept of permanency is crucial to understanding the Ego. Korzybski introduced "Time Binding" in his book of the same name published about 1930, which book laid the basis for his later masterwork, Science and Sanity, upon which the science of General Semantics was founded. Without calling it the Ego, Korzybski understood that time binding was the distinguishing factor between humans and the animal kingdom. Animals do not have memory. Plants are not conscious (remember that?) and animals do not remember events that happen to them. Animals live in the eternal present, the same eternal present we would live in if we possessed only an astral body as our highest human body. (Another hint about evolution: that was in fact the case during the Old Moon stage of human evolution — we lived in the eternal present because we lacked an Ego body until the present stage of evolution, our Earth Epoch. And animals lacked consciousness during the Old Moon stage, etc. )

We are asked to accept that animals have consciousness but not memory. Can you accept that? If you've ever been around pets, owned a dog or cat, you may have believed that they remembered you. Surely the pet that came running up to you as an old human friend would who remembered you, you would be thinking. Let's examine this conundrum right now. The key lies in how we understand the process of memory. We must distinguish memory as a property of the Ego body from hunger which is a property of the astral body. We have both, whereas your pet has only an astral body.

[page 31] Memory, however, is only present when a being not only feels with its experiences in the present, but when it retains also those of the past. One might acknowledge this and still fall into the error of thinking that the dog has memory. For it might be said that the dog mourns when its master leaves it, therefore it has retained a memory of him. That also is an incorrect conclusion. Through sharing the master's life, his presence becomes a need to the dog and it, therefore, experiences his absence in the same way that it experiences hunger. Whoever does not make these distinctions, will not arrive at clarity concerning the true relationships of life.

How are we to understand the process of memory and its opposite process amnesia , or as Steiner calls it, oblivion ?

[page 32] Memory and oblivion signify for the ego what waking and sleeping signify for the astral body. Just as sleep permits the cares and troubles of the day to disappear into nothingness, oblivion spreads a veil over the bad experiences of life, blotting out a part of the past.

Examine Figure 1 which summarizes the four basic human bodies and their primary functions.

Figure 1 Diagram of Flow of Four Bodies

At the leftmost is the Physical body which we have in common with the Mineral kingdom. Then the Etheric body which we have in common with the Plant kingdom. Then the Astral body which we have in common with the Animal kingdom. If you move from left to right in Figure 1, you'll notice that our Etheric body brings Life to our Physical body, overcoming Death. The Astral body brings Consciousness to us, overcoming Sleep. The Ego body brings us possibility of Memory, overcoming Amnesia or Oblivion. Going in the opposite direction, remove the Ego and you have Amnesia or Oblivion, remove the Astral body, you have Sleep, remove the Etheric body, you have Death. Memory in this context refers to the process that Alfred O. Korzybski called "time binding" which the possibility of we have of learning from our past by virtue of being human. Memory is a process that no animal possesses because animals do not have an Ego — they have only a physical body, etheric body, and astral body. What animals demonstrate that we humans call "memory" is an astral body reaction to sensory data — our pets "recognize us" because they are attracted to a scent, the sound of our voices, etc., some sensory data attributable to their having an astral body. They have consciousness, but not the ability to remember dates, calculate sums, etc. Plants, we will find, do not have an astral body and thus they do not have even the primitive sensory recognition that animals do. They are, in effect, permanently asleep. Where I have the "Amnesia" in Figure 1, Steiner uses "oblivion" to denote the same condition. See the above long passage about the Ego, pages 28 to 30 above.

Looking ahead to Review 2 which will deal with the Evolution of the Cosmos and Humankind, one can notice as one progresses from left to right in Figure 1, one begins with the Mineral Kingdom which has only a Physical body, goes to the Plant Kingdom which adds an Etheric body, goes to the Animal Kingdom which adds an Astral body, and arrives at the Human Kingdom which adds the Ego body. It will not seem surprising then to find that evolutionary development proceeds also in this sequence: Physical body, Etheric body, Astral body, and Ego body. Nor that the time of adding on each body is identified as a specific Epoch. The Physical body developed during an epoch that is called Old Saturn Epoch, the Etheric body during the Old Sun Epoch, the Astral body during the Old Moon Epoch, and the Ego during the present Earth Epoch. The labels of the various epochs may vary from one occult researcher to another, but the nature of the epochs remains essentially unchanged.

The Ego is still developing as I type these words and as you read them. I can say that with assurance because at the completion of the Earth Epoch, "when sun and stars will rise and set no more", we will have no further need for written words. If you understand what each body is, it will be easier for you to understand evolution, if you understand what evolution is, it will be easier for you to understand what each body is. Remember: these bodies are not some mystical hocus-pocus; we are talking about these bodies in order to describe a succession of four waves of evolutionary development as they are literally embodied in each of us. If you understand the four bodies, you will understand evolution. If you understand evolution, you will understand the four bodies. Another example of "As Above, So Below" in operation.

Also remember this: in studying anything new, it is best to know all about it before you start. That is one way of talking about a bootstrap process. And the task ahead of revealing occult science to yourself is definitely a bootstrap process. To start a computer, you must have a program in it that loads programs. How does that program get in if it is required before you can load a program? That's the bootstrap process. Your computer has a built-in bootstrap loader. That's why we call it rebooting a computer when we restart it. A similar thing happens to you every time you begin a new subject. Every time you start to learn something new, you will encounter the bootstrap process. You need to know what the four bodies are before you can understand evolution, but you need to know evolution before you can understand what the four bodies are. "As Above, So Below" can be your own personal bootstrap loader, so keep it handy and notice all the places it applies as you proceed in penetrating the occult veil and revealing the spiritual science hidden beneath it.

One way to understand life is to use the bootstrap paradox as a metaphor. The simplest statement is this:

“Life is a bootstrap program fat-fingered in by God.”
What does this mean? As I said above, to start a computer working you need to load a program into it. In order to do that you first need to load a program loader. The program loader can then load programs to run your application. The program loader is a program. How can you get a program into the computer without a program already inside the computer to load it? Bootstrap Paradox! In the 1960s our new mini-computers had sixteen switches on the front that corresponded to the 16-bits of two adjacent bytes of computer storage which was its basic unit of storage. When we stored a piece of data into the computer using those switches, we called it “fat-fingering” data into the computer. (This was before we had keyboards and monitor screens for entering data.) To start up a computer back then, we had to fat-finger the bootstrap program into the front panels every time we powered on our mini-computers. Then we could load the program loader and then applications. This process is all automated today using read-only memory (ROM) and hard drives on our present personal computers. ROM holds the bootstrap loader. The boot sector of the first hard drive holds the primitive program loader — which is why your computer will not boot up if that sector is destroyed by a virus or errant program. We may ignore the whole bootstrap process today when all the work takes place behind the scenes of the computer panel, but if we wish to understand how our computers “boot up” we must go behind the scenes.

If we wish to understand how life itself was booted up, we need to go behind the scenes. “God” is a rubric under which we subsume all the activities of the spiritual beings that operate now and in the beginning, behind the scenes, in creating the life that flows through our human bodies. We may blithely ignore how that they do that today, but if we are to understand how life itself was infused in our human bodies, we must go back to the days when “life was fat-fingered” into human beings by those spiritual beings back when the human being was bootstrapped into existence. Rightly understood, this is the essence of what is covered in Chapter 4 of this book (Review 2).

We next encounter the three types of soul for the first time: sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul. This is the first time the word soul appears in our studies of the human being. One must remember that words like soul, astral body, sentient soul, etc, are names for processes, not for things per se, as one reads the descriptions Steiner gives for them. When Steiner uses the word soul , he is referring to the attributes of the higher part of the astral body, and with the word spirit , the higher part of the Ego body. The part of the soul that gives permanence to knowledge presented to the human being is closely connected to the astral body. Steiner speaks of the soul and the astral body thusly:

[page 33] Both are united into one member of the human entity. This union, therefore, may also be called astral body. If we desire an exact designation, we may call the human astral body the soul body; the soul, in so far as it is united with this soul body, we may call the sentient soul.

The sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul, rightly understood, correspond to the three stages of development of the Ego body: image memory, knowledge activity on external objects, and knowledge of self. These three stages of soul development are important because they will help us to understand what Steiner means, for example, when he calls Italy a country focused on the Sentient Soul stage; Germany, the Intellectual Soul stage; and Britain, the Conscious Soul stage of human development.

There are also 2160 year-long Ages devoted to development of the various soul stages: the Egyto-Chaldean culture appeared during the Sentient Soul Age (began 2970 B. C.), the Greco-Roman during the Intellectual Soul Age (began 747 B.C.), and our current Cultural Age (began 1413 A. D.) — we are a third of the way into the Consciousness Soul Age. If you wish to understand the macrocosm of the 2,160 year ages, you will need to know the microcosm of the three soul stages inside yourself.

First we study the sentient soul stage during which the Ego body learns to receive images from the astral body and to preserve them:

[page 33] The astral body has aroused the consciousness of the outer impression of the object. Yet knowledge of the object would last only as long as the latter is present, if the ego were not to absorb this knowledge and make it its own. -- It is at this point that supersensible perception separates the bodily element from the soul nature. One speaks of the astral body as long as one considers the arising of knowledge of an object that is present. What, however, gives permanence to this knowledge one designates as soul.

Next stop is the intellectual soul stage, and we can well expect that it will have to do with knowledge acquired by the Ego when it directs its activity towards external objects. This acquired knowledge resides inside the Ego which, in effect, has "made it its own." This is the province of natural science — to perform operations on the internalized knowledge of external objects — so a deep secret of the spiritual world is revealed for us when we realize that the onset of natural science followed immediately on the heels of the completion of the Intellectual Soul Age in 1413 A. D.

[page 33] The ego rises to a higher stage of its being when it directs its activity toward what it has made its own out of the knowledge of the objects. This is the activity by which the ego severs itself more and more from the objects of perception in order to work within what it has made its own. The part of the soul in which this occurs may be designated the intellectual or mind soul. -- It is characteristic of both the sentient and intellectual souls that they work with what they receive through the impressions of the objects perceived by the senses, and what is retained from this in memory.

In other words, "The soul is here completely surrendered to what is external to it." Both to the perceptions received by the senses from the external world, and what is retained of them by the soul. Envision the perceptions coming to the senses to be like milk coming from a cow into a pail. What is retained of the milk by the soul would be like the idea of cheesecake, an idea which contains a plan for the organization of certain elements and extracts of the milk combined with other elements to create a unique physical product, cheesecake. What milk is to the sentient soul, the idea of cheesecake is to the intellectual soul.

There is one more part of the Ego to be revealed which leads us to the consciousness soul, and that part is independent of everything that is external to a person. That part lives in the part of you that you refer to as "I". The word "I" is usually called a pronoun by grammarians, but that only disguises the deep truth contained in the word, "I", which is a "name that no one else can use to refer to yourself except you." If you haven't seen a childhood friend for 41 years and suddenly they appear in front of you full grown, what is the best way to recognize them? Everybody knows this: look into their eyes! In their eyes, or rather from their eyes flows their "I" and it is recognizable by all. When Moses asked God on the mountain, "Who shall I tell them sent me?" His answer was "Tell them the I AM sent you. I AM the IAM." If God is the oceanic I AM, then our individual I Am is a drop of that ocean.

[page 34, 35] Nothing of an external nature has access to that part of the soul with which we are concerned here. Here is the "hidden sanctuary" of the soul. Only a being with whom the soul is of like nature can entrance there. The God who dwells within man speaks when the soul becomes aware of itself as an I. Just as the sentient and intellectual souls live in the outer worlds, so a third soul member immerses itself in the Divine when the soul gains a perception of its own being.

This inner knowledge we gain of our own being is what occult science reveals to us as the consciousness soul. With its addition we can now speak of three parts of the human soul as well as three parts of the human corporeal body.

Corporeal -- physical body, etheric body, astral body

Soul -- sentient soul, intellectual soul, consciousness soul

A few words about the nature of the word "I" by Eduard von Hartmann would be enlightening here. "In the first place, consciousness of self is more ancient than the word I. Personal pronouns are a rather late product of the evolution of languages . . ." Steiner says of Hartmann analysis of the verbal designation of "I" that:

[page 37] Nothing can be known concerning the nature of the triangle by showing how the "word" triangle has evolved; likewise, nothing can be decided concerning the nature of the I by knowing how this word has taken form in the evolution of language out of a different verbal usage.

When I first began doing computer programming, I began at the sentient soul stage. I wrote programs that dealt with images that were scanned from medical radiographs. In my next job, I wrote code for real-time process computers and there I dealt with data structures that were extracted from the sensory inputs from the chemical plants the computer controlled. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was operating at the intellectual soul stage. Much later I wrote in Fortran for a compiler that provided recursive code. A subroutine could call itself and perform a useful function. Introduced to the sticky business of recursive programming, I had been plummeted into the consciousness soul stage of my programming career. When a piece of computer code takes hold of its own code and uses it, it is clearly a higher order of code than simple calculations. This is the kind of elevation of function that we as human beings have in our Ego or "I".

[page 37, 38] The true nature of the I reveals itself only in the consciousness soul. For while the soul sinks itself into other things in feeling and intellect, as consciousness soul it takes hold of its own being. Therefore this I can be perceived by the consciousness soul only through a certain inner activity. The visualizations of external objects are formed just as these objects come and go, and these visualizations continue to work in the intellect by means of their own force. But if the I is to observe itself, it cannot simply surrender itself; it must, through inner activity, first lift its being out of its own depths in order to have a consciousness of it. With the perception of the I, with self-contemplation, an inner activity of the I begins. . . . The lowest manifestation is the manifestation through the physical body; this then mounts up by stages to what fills the intellectual soul. One might say that , with each step upward, one of the veils that envelop the hidden fall away. In what fills the consciousness soul, the hidden enters unveiled into the innermost temple of the soul. Yet it appears there only like a drop of the ocean of all-pervading spirituality. Here, however, man must first take hold of this spirituality. He must recognize it in himself; then he will be able to find it also in its manifestation.

The recursive nature of consciousness, where one takes hold spirituality within oneself, reminded me of recursive programming, and that led me to see the three stages within my early career as a computer programmer. "Was my job experience unique?" I wondered later. "Perhaps there are other jobs which go through a similar progression from sentient, intellectual, and consciousness." To start I picked the traditional job of policeman out of the blue. In the beginning of his career, our hero will likely walk a beat. As a beat-cop his job is to observe things, report things back to the precinct, and call out the squad cars for major problems. He will mostly be the eyes and ears of the police force on the beat, the sentient soul stage of police work. Later, he may be promoted to detective where he will no longer walk a beat seeing and reporting things happening in the now, but rather, he will get called out after the fact to a crime scene. He will interview witnesses, collect data, and most importantly, to sort and balance these collections of internal representations of data into a reconstruction of what plausibly happened to understand the crime, locate suspects, apprehend them and charge them with a crime based on his detective work, all of which is clearly the intellectual soul stage of police work. If he does his job very well and is honest, truthful, and trustworthy, he may be promoted to the highest level of police work, Internal Affairs. What happens in Internal Affairs is that he gets assigned to police the police force itself. Internal Affairs is the highest level of police work because it investigates the work of every other level of police work, from the beat-cop to the police-chief, right on up to Internal Affairs itself. Thus, Internal Affairs is clearly of a recursive nature and involves our hero full-time at the consciousness soul stage of operation as a human being.

This was too easy, I thought, so I tried the old traditional jobs of "doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief". A doctor may go from intern (primarily observer) to general practitioner (active in diagnosing, prescribing, healing) to psychoanalyst-psychiatrist (healing the psyche, which since the psychiatrist has one, is definitely of a recursive nature. A psychoanalyst-psychiatrist in training undergoes intensive psychoanalysis before being allowed to psychoanalyze others.) A lawyer must pass the bar exam (primarily reading law and simulating case work), after becoming a successful lawyer she may be promoted to judge (applying law to the cases presented to her), and finally she may become an elected representative who makes the laws that apply not only to her constituency, but to herself, thus reaching the recursive level of occupation. An Indian traditionally was an American native who hunted for food for his family (observing and operating on nature). When the White man came, many Indians became warriors and were forced to make many independent calculations and decisions to survive in battle against those illegally encroaching on his tribe's land (intellectual activity). Promoted to Indian Chief, he would be required to make decisions about whether to go to war, a decision that would affect not only his tribe, but himself personally (recursive level of decision making).

After this mental exercise, I came to realize that those who operate in the highest paid occupations are operating at the recursive level in their lives. CEO's, it is obvious this would be the case. Their every decision is subject to getting them fired by an unhappy board of directors. What about Movie Stars, do they operate at a recursive level? Look at the scripts that movie stars choose. Follow one movie star's career and you'll similar plot lines, similar themes, whether it be John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, or Jennifer Aniston. Judy Garland was always trying to fly "somewhere over the rainbow." Look at Richard Harris who recently died — his last role may have been in the TV special "Caesar" in which he played the tyrant Sulla who died in his bathtub. Or John Wayne, dying of cancer, who played a dying gunfighter in "The Shootist." Those were real tears that wept down from Lauren Bacall's eyes as she "played" the role of someone saying goodbye to John Wayne who was "playing" a dying gunfighter. All these are example of recursive roles. If you play a role and learn something about your own life, you were operating at the highest level of your ability, at the consciousness soul stage.

In addition, it should be becoming clear to you that each of us in our individual careers went through several stages of job capabilities. If we matured at all, if we were promoted at all, these stages, these jobs, can be analyzed to discover that we evolved from the sentient soul stage of operation to the intellectual soul stage of operation and ended up finally operating at the consciousness soul stage of ability. In a world run by 27- to 37-year-old adults, most of whom are peaking in their intellectual soul stage of operation, it is not surprising to find the disdain they show for those operating at higher capabilities at the consciousness soul stage. For one thing, they don't understand any stage that they have not arrived at. For another, by acting in disregard or contempt for those who are already at the consciousness soul stage, through their interactions with those at this stage, they have a first chance to learn what it means to operate recursively and to eventually grow to that stage themselves.

What this all means boils down to this: we humans get jobs, not just to live and feed our bodies, but to develop our souls — to develop them at all levels, the sentient soul stage, the intellectual soul stage, and the consciousness soul stage.

If you have read my above commentary on the occupations that one holds in this culture, you will be ready to grasp what Steiner shares in the next passage:

[page 38, 39] In fact, all cultural life and all spiritual human endeavor consists in a work that has as its aim this rulership of the ego. Every human being living in the present is engaged in this work whether he wants it or not, whether he is conscious of it or not. Through this work, however, higher stages of the being of man are reached. Through it, man develops new members of his being. These lie as the concealed behind what is manifest to him. Not only can he become master of the soul by working on the latter through the power of the ego so that the soul drives the concealed into manifestation, but he can also extend this work. He can extend it to the astral body. The I thus takes possession of this astral body uniting itself with the latter's hidden nature. This astral body, overcome and transformed by the ego, may be called the spirit self. (This is what, in connection with oriental wisdom, is called "manas.") In the spirit self we have a higher member of man's being, one which, so to speak, exists within it as a germ and which emerges more and more as it actively works upon itself.

Oh no, you may be thinking, not another new term! Spirit self. How am I going to remember that when I don't even have a clue as to what it means? Hold off thinking about that for now. We have just covered how the Ego purified a portion of the astral body to create the spirit self or manas. There is a similar purification process that the Ego does to the etheric body to create the life spirit or buddhi, and finally the Ego purifies the physical body to create the spirit body or atman. The terms manas, buddhi, and atman are Eastern religious terms that will be helpful to learn in case you encounter them alone without the more descriptive Western terms that Steiner coined for them: spirit self, life spirit, and spirit body (2) . Note how the Ego begins its work on the highest body below it, the astral body to create the body above it -- spirit self, then moves down to the etheric body to create the next higher body — life spirit, and then down to the physical body to create the highest body — spirit body.

Three new terms, each with two choices! Does that seem mind-boggling? What if I told you that a simple prayer that every Christian knows by heart has the four corporeal bodies of the human entity plus the three higher aspects of soul embodied in it? That prayer is the Lord's Prayer. In my review of an essay by Adam Bittleston which you can read on-line in ARJ2: The Lord's Prayer, you see these various seven parts of the human being laid out and explained for you. This will not remove the complexity, but will make it possible for you bring the three new terms to mind as you read further into this review and into Steiner's works.

The working of the Ego on the astral, etheric, and physical bodies gets increasingly difficult and more time-consuming as it moves down to the physical body. Think of the astral as the second hand on a watch, the etheric as the minute hand, and the physical as the hour hand. There is a sixty-to-one slow down as you take each step from second to minute to hour. Similar a slow down occurs which reaches its slowest point in operation on the physical body which "conceals the active spirit within it behind three veils, the highest form of human endeavor is needed to unite the I with this hidden spirit."The speed at which the Ego operates on the astral body to create the spirit self is idiosyncratic, some do it quickly, some slower, but no matter how slow one does it, humans will all have a spirit self by the end of the current epoch, known as the 5th Cultural Epoch ending around 3573 A. D. Creation of the life spirit will not be completed for all of humanity until the end of the 6th CE, around 5067 A. D. The spirit body will not be completed until the end of the 7th CE, around 7227 A. D.

Once more, as we delve into the microcosmic aspects of an individual human being, we cannot avoid discussing how the evolution of all human beings have proceeded and will proceed into the distant, but foreseeable future.

Chapter 3. Sleep and Death

Having established a basis for understanding the basic corporeal and spiritual bodies of the human being, we will put that knowledge to use in discussing the familiar and strange processes of sleep and death. Familiar, because we have all been to sleep and we have all seen someone die or knew about an ancestor who died; strange, because we don't really understand what is happening in either sleep or death. We have all slept previously who read this, but we have none of us died previously, so death is much the stranger of the two. What if the two processes, which are so strange in many ways, were related?

When I was about 23 years old, I was hit by an existential angst that would not go away. The thought hit me that if death were the end of my reality, then I would never think again! For a thinker, that was an inconceivable thought, and the thought terrified me. I tried to discuss it with my wife, Judy, and asked her what she thought death was like. She didn't experience any angst whatsoever and merely replied that it was like going to sleep. I was amazed by her naivety and didn't see any point of discussing what I was feeling any more. Over the years, especially since reading Steiner's works, I have come to see that Judy was on the right track — there are similarities of sleep and death. In this final portion of the review, we will take a definitive look at the two processes and find out what these similarities are and what the differences are. A good question for the Final Exam, if this were a college course, would be: "Compare and Contrast Sleep and Death." In a very real sense, this question will be on your Final Exam, as you eventually go through the process of death and explore life between death and a new birth (3) .

[page 47] It is not possible to penetrate into the nature of waking consciousness without observing the state through which the human being passes into sleep, and it is impossible to solve the riddle of life without considering death.

Once more Steiner makes a preemptive strike against those who would belittle something they have not taken the time to study. They have an element of truth in their words when they claim "that the occupation with states such as sleep and death can only result from an inclination to idle dreaming and can only lead to empty imaginings."

[page 48] It is wrong to declare forthwith that such an opinion is false, for it contains a certain kernel of truth. It is a quarter-truth that must be supplemented by the other three-quarters belonging to it, and a person who sees the one-quarter very well, but who has no conception of the other three-quarters, will only be made distrustful of our combating the true one-quarter. -- It must, in fact, be acknowledged without question that a consideration of what lies concealed in sleep and death is unhealthy if it leads to a weakening, to an estrangement from real life, and we must admit that much that has called itself occult science in the world from time immemorial, and is practiced also today under that name, bears a character unhealthy and hostile to life.

"All meanings are true, to the one who holds the meaning," Steiner is, in, effect saying, and it does no good to argue against the meaning that others hold. To combat someone else's partial truth is to give them the idea that our truths are equal to theirs, which makes our own truths seem to be partial truths to all concerned, even unconsciously to ourselves. Only by understanding fully the partial truths of others can we share our truths and help them of their own accord to expand their own store of truths. It can be observed by the senses that we receive strength and renewal during sleep.

[page 48] The domain of the world is greater than the field of this observation, and what is known about the visible universe must be supplemented and fructified by what can be known about the invisible.

Steiner suggests that we supplement the partial truths of natural science with the truths of spiritual science, supplement our materialistic, sensory-based science with a supersensible science. Again — we need only our senses to know the following: we must sleep periodically to restore life to our body.

[page 48, 49] A human being who does not continually draw strength for his weakened forces from sleep must of necessity destroy his life. Likewise, a world concept that is not fructified by a knowledge of the hidden world must lead to desolation. It is similar with death. Living beings succumb to death in order that new life may arise. It is precisely the knowledge of the supersensible that can shed light upon the beautiful words of Goethe: "Nature has invented death that she might have abundant life." . . . All knowledge of what is visible must plunge again and again into the invisible in order to evolve.

We saw earlier in our discussion of Figure 1 above, that during sleep the astral body and Ego body disconnect from our body and leave the physical and etheric bodies, to return only upon awakening to consciousness. Sleep extinguishes "mental images, pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, the capacity to express a conscious will" among other things because the astral body bears all these things. Only when the astral body makes a significant intersection with the etheric body upon waking do any of these things present themselves to us, usually in the form of dreams. This process of withdrawal and re-entry of the astral body during sleep and awaking is observable to supersensible perception, but if one merely accepts the reports of such perceptions, one can apply them to the facts known from sensory perception and readily understand what was puzzling before. What Steiner says in the next passage matches my experience from studying his occult science in this book.

[page 50, 51] He may, in this way, find that life has thereby become clear and comprehensible and the more exact and thorough his observations of ordinary life are, the more readily will he come to this conviction.

Like a pendulum, the astral body must swing into and out of the human body, but it is not inactive when away from the human body, in fact, it is quite active in the body-free "surrounding world of soul and spirit." We become unconscious during this body-free activity because we have completely left the state of consciousness which is available when the astral body is connected with the etheric and physical bodies. Like a pendulum, we swing into and out of consciousness, entering it of necessity when are tired and sleepy, awaking later refreshed.

[page 51] The necessity of entering into this state of unconsciousness is experienced by the soul-spirit nature of man as fatigue. But this fatigue is the expression of the fact that the astral body and ego, during sleep, prepare themselves to transform, during the following waking state, what has arisen in the physical and ether bodies through purely organic formative activity when freed from the presence of the spirit and soul elements.

The etheric body forms the organic building materials of the body, like a house construction site receiving loads of material overnight from a lumber yard. But the etheric body cannot proceed further with the building unless the owner comes to the site with his latest plans and gives instructions to the architect/contractor about how to use the new materials. The astral body plays the role of the owner who decides on the plans for our body.

[page 52] In the astral body reside the prototypes according to which the ether body gives form to the physical body.

Our astral body lives in the spiritual world, the world of its origin while we are asleep, and it lives in connection with the physical world when we are awake. Entering the etheric and physical bodies the astral body moves from perception of the spiritual universe to perception of the physical universe of our sensory apparatus. Like our physical body receives food from the physical world, our astral body receives images from the spiritual world, images of the form of our human body which then are given to the etheric body upon our awakening as the owner gives his blueprints to the contractor with the newly delivered building materials at the house site.

[page 54] (Our astral body) lives there actually in the universe, separated from the physical and etheric bodies, in the same universe out of which the entire human being is born. The source of the images through which the human being receives his form lies in this universe. During sleep he is harmoniously inserted into it, and during the waking state he lifts himself out of this all-encompassing harmony in order to gain external perception. In sleep, his astral body returns to this cosmic harmony and on awaking again brings back to his bodies sufficient strength from it to enable him to dispense with his dwelling within the cosmic harmony for a certain length of time. The astral body, during sleep, returns to its home and on awaking brings back with it renewed forces into life. These forces that the astral body brings with it on awaking find outer expression in the refreshment that healthy sleep affords.

During the day we reside in a place of work to which we are connected by a career, a paycheck, and our colleagues, but in the evening we return home to our family and friends, to a place of rest and refreshment, to our real life. The spiritual universe is the home or real life of our astral body and its return to it at night is what allows us to awaken refreshed every morning after a good night's sleep.

Another effect available to our sensory perception is the phenomenon of dreaming — those vivid images that fill us during dreaming sleep. When the astral body leaves our body upon going to sleep or re-enters our body upon awakening, there is a short period during which it has a connection with the etheric body, but has no connection with the physical body deep enough to have access to the sensory organs. During this transition period, the image-memory of the etheric is tapped into to create the process we call a dream. We call this period of sleep dreaming sleep. When the astral body is severed from its connection with the etheric body, no dreaming is possible, and we call this period dreamless sleep. If the periods called by natural scientists "rem periods" or "rapid eye movement" periods are actually periods of dreaming as they claim, we can understand that during these periods, our astral body has returned to a connection with the etheric body without having re-connected with the sensory apparatus of the physical body. Dreaming must necessarily stop while the astral body is connected with the sensory apparatus because consciousness is present.

[page 58] The arbitrary and often absurd character of dream pictures rests upon the fact that the astral body, because of its separation from the sense organs of the physical body, cannot relate its pictures to the proper objects and events of the external environment. This fact becomes especially clear if we consider a dream in which the ego is, as it were, split up; when, for example, a person dreams that, as a pupil, he cannot answer a question put to him by his teacher, while directly afterwards the teacher, himself, answers the question. Because the dreamer cannot make use of the organs of perception of his physical body he is unable to relate the two occurrences to himself, as the same individual. Thus, in order to recognize himself as an enduring ego, he must be equipped with the external organs of perception.

Steiner had the ability to remain conscious of his Ego while outside his physical body, an ability that accompanied his native clairvoyance and supersensible sight. Not only did he possess this ability, but he was able to train others how to achieve it. In some lectures he called the acquisition of this ability "the creation of new organs of spiritual perception."

[page 58, 59] Only if a person had acquired the capacity of becoming conscious of his ego otherwise than through these organs of perception, would the enduring ego become perceptible to him outside his physical body. Supersensible consciousness must acquire these capacities, and the means of accomplishing this will be considered later on in this book.

Figure 2 Diagram of the 3 Bodies while Awake
This is an excellent time to look at some diagrams to illustrate the connections of the physical, etheric, and astral bodies during various conditions of being such as awake, asleep, death, dreaming sleep, shock, etc. The first diagram, Figure 2, shows the three bodies interpenetrating each other during waking consciousness. Figure 3 shows how during dreaming sleep, the astral and etheric bodies maintain their interconnection, but the astral body separates from the physical body and thus has no
Figure 3 Diagram of the 3 Bodies while in Dreaming Sleep as Astral body re-enters Etheric body.
connection with the sensory system. Since the etheric body is still embedded in the physical body, this can only happen for a short time while the astral body is leaving or re-entering the etheric body. The next stage happens when the astral body completely severs its connection with the etheric body. Figure 4 shows this state which is called dreamless
Figure 4 Diagram of the 3 Bodies while in Dreamless Sleep — Astral body not connected with Physical nor Etheric bodies.
sleep. "When death occurs, the ether body enters into a state that it never experienced during the time between birth and death . . . it is now united with its astral body, without the presence of the physical body, for the ether body and the astral body do not separate immediately after death." (page 59-60) It is during this stage that the events of one's life presents themselves in a panorama. The etheric body is giving up to the astral all the images one has accumulated during one's lifetime.

[page 61] . . . what the astral body experiences when it is not bound to the outer world by means of physical sense organs becomes perceptible. It has at first no new experiences. Union with the ether body prevents it from experiencing anything new. What it does possess, however, is a memory of the past life. The still present ether body allows this memory to appear as a comprehensive, living picture. This is the first experience of the human being after death. He perceives the life between birth and death in a series of pictures spread out before him.

The astral body can stay connected to the separated etheric body only so long as the etheric body maintains the form of the physical body, and then the astral body separates and the panorama of one's life disappears.

Figure 5 Diagram of the 3 Bodies while Viewing the Panorama of Life.
The separation of the etheric from the physical body during life occurs rarely such as during near- drowning, shock, or other traumatic occasions and one can experience the panorama if the etheric and astral bodies remain linked as in Figure 5. In cases where they also separate as in Figure 6, one will not experience the life panorama. One common experience of the etheric body leaving a part of one's body occurs when your arm or leg "goes to sleep".
Figure 6. Diagram of the 3 Bodies in Death, after the Panorama of Life stage is over.
The Ego body, while not being shown in the figures, separates during sleep as does the astral body, but even though it is outside the physical body during sleep, the Ego maintains a connection at all times with the physical body. This connection is often viewed as a silver cord that connects the Ego to the Earth and physical body to supersensible sight. Let us take a look at what the Ego experiences during the time between death and a new birth when it has finally separated from the other three bodies.

[page 64] To a certain degree, the ego has developed spirit self, life spirit, and spirit man. As far as they are developed, they receive their existence, not from what exists as organs in the bodies, but from the ego. The ego is the very member that needs no external organs for self-perception; it also needs none in order to remain in possession of what it has united with itself.

In spite of that capability there is no perception in sleep of the spirit self, life spirit, and spirit body because the "ego is fettered to the physical body between birth and death." The silver cord is a visible representation of that chaining of the Ego to the physical body. Once that cord is broken, death is irrevocable and "all the desires and wishes arising out of the three lower bodies" are no longer active. But the Ego maintains another kind of desire — the desire for the very physical organs, the desire for pleasures that can only be satisfied by the physical organs.

[page 65] If the ego possessed no other desires than those arising from it s own spiritual nature, it could at death draw complete satisfaction from the spiritual world into which it is translated. But life has given it still other desires. It has enkindled in the ego a longing for enjoyments that can only be satisfied through physical organs, although the desires do not have their origin in these organs themselves.

There is a fine distinction between desires that are spiritual and desires that are not. The human Ego operates in freedom and can consciously or unconsciously ignore the distinction. An automobile requires oil in its engine to run properly. The owner of a new car was checking the oil with the dipstick level indicator every couple of weeks and found it to be low, so he added a half quart of oil each time. Soon the engine was running rough and smoke was coming from the tail pipe. Turns out that unconsciously he had been checking the transmission fluid instead of the oil indicator, and the motor needs to be running or the transmission fluid dipstick will always show a low level. As a result the car was getting too much of a good thing, and the engine was nearly ruined. The Ego can get too much of a good thing, for example, with the food one eats. Eat the right amount and it is good for the spirit, which, rightly understood, is the engine which runs our human body; eat too much and it is not good for the spirit because this extra food becomes a desire that cannot be gratified but yet remains in the Ego during the time between death and a new birth. And, exactly as in the case of the car with too much oil, where the excess oil was burnt up by the engine and created smoke from the exhaust pipes, so too will the "excess" desires of the Ego be burnt up during the time between death and a new birth. The excessive pleasures we indulge in today add to the dross that must be burnt away by the "consuming fire" later. Thus, the deep wisdom of the motto, "Nothing in excess."

[page 67, 68] But if the ego still has a longing for these pleasures , this longing must remain ungratified. In so far as this enjoyment is in accord with the spirit, it exists only as long as the physical organs are present. If it has been produced by the ego, without serving the spirit, it continues after death as desire, which thirsts in vain for satisfaction. We can only form an idea of what now takes place in the human being if we think of a person suffering from burning thirst in a region in which water is nowhere to be found. This, then, is the state of the ego, in so far as it harbors, after death, the unextinguished desires for the pleasures of the outer world and has no organs with which to satisfy them. Naturally, we must imagine the burning thirst that serves as an analogy for the conditions of the ego after death to be increased immeasurably, and imagine it spread out over all the other still existing desires for which all possibility of satisfaction is lacking. The next task of the ego consists in freeing itself from this bond of attraction to the outer world. In this respect the ego has to bring about a purification and emancipation within itself. All desires that have been created by it within the body and that have no inherent rights within the spiritual world must be rooted out.-Just as an object takes fire and is consumed, so is the world of desires, described above, consumed and destroyed after death. This affords us a glimpse into the world that supersensible knowledge designates as the "consuming fire of the spirit."

We must be careful to recognize that not only pleasures, but all desires of a sensory-based nature that are in excess of the requirements of the spirit, comprise the dross that must be consumed by fire. These excessive desires act a bond that chains the Ego to the sensory world. Since the time of this translation from the German of Steiner's words, the word sensual has devolved in common parlance to meaning "of a sexual nature," but that meaning in my Cassel's Concise dictionary is still in second place to "of a sensory nature." One can speculate that the confused equation of sensual with sexual in its meaning originated in the hyperbole of zealous religious preachers. Given the robust and even obese appearance of many prelates, this confusion could be an unconscious disguise for the sensuality of their own eating habits. One would do well to use the first dictionary meaning for the word sensual when one reads the next passage. When I read of the "desolation of the ego" I could not help but think of the utter desolation portrayed for Annie in the 1998 movie, "What Dreams May Come". She committed suicide after being "overcome with grief" by the loss of her husband in an automobile accident. The very phrase "overcome with grief" applied to a friend should be a danger signal for us that our friend's desires for a lost loved one were overweening as far as the needs of the spirit were concerned. To maintain a spiritual balance in ourselves we must ensure that our love for a lost one is spiritual and not sensory-based or we subject ourselves to the risk of the same desolation of the ego that Annie is portrayed as experiencing in her time between death and a new birth.

[page 68] All desires of a sensual nature, in which the sensual is not an expression of the spirit, are seized upon by this "fire." The ideas that supersensible knowledge must give in regard to these processes might be found to be hopeless and awful. It might appear terrifying that a hope, for whose realization sense organs are necessary, must change into hopelessness after death; that a desire, which only the physical world can satisfy, must turn into consuming deprivation. Such a point of view is possible only as long as one does not consider the fact that all wishes and desires, which after death are seized by the "consuming fire," in a higher sense represent not beneficial but destroying forces in life. By means of such destructive forces, the ego tightens the bond with the sense world more strongly than is necessary in order to absorb from this very sense world what is beneficial to it. This sense world is a manifestation of the spirit hidden behind it. The ego would never be able to enjoy the spirit in the form in which it is able to manifest through bodily senses alone, did it not want to use these senses for the enjoyment of the spiritual within the sense world. Yet the ego deprives itself of the true spiritual reality in the world to the degree that it desires the sense world without the spirit. If the enjoyment of the senses, as an expression of the spirit, signifies an elevation and development of the ego, then an enjoyment that is not an expression of the spirit signifies the impoverishing, the desolation of the ego.

Annie loved her husband Chris with an intense desire in the movie and was not aware of the nature of her desire and the destructive effect it would have on her Ego. Its destructive effect showed up immediately upon Chris's sudden death in an accident. It showed up in her overweening grief which culminated in her suicide. Like automobiles should have an "Excess Oil" indicator on the dashboard (the luxury SUV of the man in the story above didn't), so also our Egos should create for themselves an "Excess Desire" indicator on their dashboards. Something that will let us know that we adding too much desire in the excess of what is required for our spiritual health. Buddha solved this conundrum, not by creating an "Excess Desire" indicator in himself, but defining every sensory desire as an "Excess Desire" and ridding himself of all sensory desires. Such a monomania is an excellent way to demonstrate a basic principle, but would not work for the proper evolution of humanity as a whole. We can use Buddha’s experience as a guide to identifying excess desire in ourselves and learn to live in harmony with the requirements of our spirit while in a human body on Earth. That will ensure us in the time between death and a new birth we will find not desolation and consuming fire, but comfort and consolation. Annie's excessive desires for Chris led her not to find Chris upon her suicide but to find only desolation instead. Only with the help of the spirit world and a more balanced love for Annie was Chris able to locate her after many trials. Annie created obstacles to her love by her desires and found desolation instead of consolation.

[page 69] If a desire of this kind is satisfied in the sense world, its desolating effect upon the ego nevertheless remains. Before death, however, this destructive effect upon the ego is not apparent. Therefore the satisfaction of such desires can produce similar desires during life, and man is not at all aware that he is enveloping himself, through himself, in a "consuming fire." After death, what has surrounded him in life becomes visible, and by becoming visible it appears in its healing, beneficial consequences. A person who loves another is certainly not attracted only to that in him which can be experienced through the physical organs. But only of what can thus be experienced may it be said that it is withdrawn from perception at death; just that part of the loved one then becomes visible for the perception of which the physical organs were only the means. Moreover, the only thing that then hinders that part from becoming completely visible is the presence of the desire that can only be satisfied through physical organs. If this desire were not extirpated: the conscious perception of the beloved person could not arise after death. Considered in this way, the picture of frightfulness and despair that might arise in the human being concerning the events after death, as depicted by supersensible knowledge, must change into one of deep satisfaction and consolation.

In short, we must pull out by the roots any desires that can be only satisfied by the sensory organs if we are not to experience the desolation that Annie and others like her feel — if we are instead to experience deep satisfaction and consolation in our time between death and a new birth.

After the experience of the panorama (Figure 5) of our life experiences provided by the etheric body before it separates from the astral body and dissolves into the cosmos, the purification process for the astral body proceeds. This period is called in the East variously, kamaloka or kamaloca, and it consists of a process of living one's life backwards in a specific way designed us in no uncertain terms to learn the lessons of our life on Earth. A woman who is a bully, and is bullied about by a bigger bully, can learn the harm she has done to others and mend her ways. But the biggest learning will come after death when she re-lives during kamaloka the very bullying she did of another person from the perspective of the other person. She will not experience the satisfaction from the bullying she did, but instead she will experience the pain the other person felt when she was doing her bullying. During dreamless sleep every night we review the previous day in this fashion, but unconsciously. Thus, our time in kamaloka is a continuous reprise of these nightly backward reviews, but this time in full consciousness. For this reason, our stay in kamaloka lasts for the same amount of time we spent sleeping, or about one-third of our lifetime. Steiner gives a case history to illustrate the process of kamaloka.

[page 70, 71] For example, a person who died in his sixtieth year and who, in his fortieth year had done someone a bodily or soul injury in an outburst of anger, will experience this event again when, in passing through his life's journey in reverse order after death, he reaches the place of his fortieth year. He now experiences, not the satisfaction he had in life from his attack upon the other person, however, but the pain he gave him. From what has been said above, it is at the same time possible to see that only that part of such an event can be experienced painfully after death that has arisen from passions of the ego having their source only in the outer physical only in the outer physical world. In reality the ego not only damages the other person through the gratification of such a passion, but itself as well; only the damage to itself is not apparent to it during life. After death this whole, damaging world of passion becomes perceptible to the ego, and the ego then feels itself drawn to every being and every thing that has enkindled such a passion, in order that this passion may again be destroyed in the "consuming fire" in the same way it was created. Only when man in his backward journey has reached the point of his birth have all the passions of this kind passed through the fire of purification, and, from then on, nothing hinders him from a complete surrender to the spiritual world. He enters upon a new stage of existence. Just as, at death, he threw off the physical body, then, soon after, the ether body, so now that part of the astral body falls away that can live only in the consciousness of the outer physical world.

In our funeral services we dispose of the corpse of the physical body by cremation or burial. But there are two other corpses that we ignore because they are only visible to supersensible sight. These are the corpses of the etheric body and the astral body. Etheric corpses dissolve into the cosmos, but astral corpses remain among us on the Earth. I can think of several movies in which these astral corpses are made visible to us: "Ghost", "Ironweed" and "Milagro Bean Field War" come to mind.

[page 71] For supersensible perception there are, thus, three corpses: the physical, the etheric, and the astral corpse. The point of time when the latter is thrown off by man is at the end of the period of purification, which lasts about a third of the time that passed between birth and death. The reason why this is so can only become clear later on, when we shall consider the course of human life from the standpoint of occult science. For supersensible observation, astral corpses are constantly present in the environment of man, which have been discarded by human beings who are passing over from the state of purification into a higher existence, just as for physical perception there are physical corpses in the world in which men dwell.

The Ego lives in the clothes of the world of the senses between birth and death, but the Ego can choose to ignore the world of the senses and reveal to itself what lies otherwise veiled by the sensory world. In the time between death and a new life, after the purification mentioned above, the world of spirit will be revealed to the Ego.

[page 71, 72] This revelation, in fact, takes place immediately after the stripping off of the etheric body. But, like a darkening cloud, the world of desires, which are still turned toward the outer worlds, spreads out before it. It is as though dark demonical shadows, arising out of the passions "consuming themselves in fire," intermingled with a blissful world of spiritual experience. Indeed, these passions are now not mere shadows, but actual entities. This becomes at once apparent when the physical organs are removed from the ego and it, therefore, can perceive what is of a spiritual nature. These creatures appear like distortions and caricatures of what the human being previously knew through sense-perception. Supersensible perception says about the world of the purifying fire that it is inhabited by beings whose appearance for the spiritual eye can be horrible and painful, whose pleasure seems to be destruction and whose passion is bent upon a spiritual evil, in comparison with which the evil of the sense world appears insignificant. The passions indicated, which human beings bring into this world, appear to these creatures as food by means of which their power receives constant strengthening.

The gathering of these "dark demonical shadows" is portrayed excellently in the movie "Ghost" in which a passion for money led a friend kill Patrick Swayze. This friend, upon his death, was sought after by dark ravenous creatures as if he were food for their insatiable hunger.

[page 73] Beings exist who are nourished by desires and passions that are worse than any animal passions, because they do not have their being in the sense world, but seize upon the spiritual and drag it down into the realm of the senses. For that reason the forms of such beings are, for supersensible perception, more hideous and gruesome than the forms of the wildest animals, in which only passions are embodied that originate in the sense world. The destructive forces of these beings exceed immeasurably all destructive fury existing in the visible animal world.

The above passage describes a spiritual reality that J. K. Rowling portrays so well in her Harry Potter books: hideous and gruesome beings with destructive forces greater than any visible in the world we know. Our children are learning about these beings of their own volition, and Rowling deserves plaudits for the incredible spiritual education she is providing for our next generation of adults. The elements of her imaginary magical world of wizardry match in so many particulars the real spiritual world we will each have to negotiate in our time between death and a new birth. "Forewarned is forearmed" or "A little knowledge is a powerful thing" seems to be applicable apothegms.

Steiner uses the verb "fructify" often in his writing [See page 48 and 49 passages above]. In the intransitive form it means simply "to bear fruit" and there is no other word which expresses this idea so directly. A plant bears fruit, we all know that. But what is the fruit of the plant? It contains the highest product of a plant which is going to die, as many plants do soon after fruiting. That highest product, the fruit of the plant, contains the seed which can create a new plant, one that can be an improvement upon the plant which produced it. Human beings have babies which anyone can see as the fruit of the womb of the human mother. But there is a higher fructification that we humans are involved in, whether we know it or not, that is this: preparing the spiritual fruit which will contain the seed of the human body for our next lifetime on Earth. That spiritual fruit is an essence, an extract of all the Ego experienced in the sense world, an extract that remains after the etheric body dissolves into the cosmos and remains an imperishable possession of the Ego body.

[page 75] This is life's spiritual yield, its fruit. This yield contains everything of a spiritual character that has been revealed through the senses. Without life in the sense world, however, it could not have come into existence. After death the ego feels this spiritual fruit of the sense world as its own inner world with which it enters a world composed of beings who manifest themselves as only his ego can manifest itself in its innermost depths. Just as the plant seed, which is an extract of the entire plant, develops only when it is inserted into another world — the earth, so what ego brings with it out of the sense world unfolds like a seed upon which the spiritual environment acts that has now received it.

In this spiritual environment, just as a color appears when object impresses the eye, a color appears when a spiritual being impresses the Ego.

[page 75, 76] It is not as though the light struck the human inner being from without, but as though another being were acting directly upon the ego, causing it to portray this activity in a coloured picture. Thus all beings of the spiritual environment of the ego express themselves in a world of radiating colors.

A similar process occurs with the sensory data we call sound. In the spiritual world, the Ego experiences tones, not streaming into it from outside, but as a force streaming out of the Ego into the world.

[page 76] The human being feels the tone as he feels his own speaking or singing in the sense world, but he knows that in the spiritual world these tones streaming out from him are at the same time manifestations of other beings poured out into the world through him. A still higher manifestation takes place in the land of spirit beings when the tone becomes "spiritual speech." Then not only the pulsing life of another spirit being streams through the ego, but a being of this kind imparts its own inner nature to this ego. Without that separation which all companionship must experience in the physical world, two beings live in each other when the ego is thus permeated by "spiritual speech." The companionship of the ego with other spirit beings after death is really of this kind.

Steiner tells us that there are three realms of the land of spirit beings: "solid land," "oceans and rivers," and the "atmospheric region." In the realm of "solid land", solids appear as cavities and colors are complementary. In the realm of "oceans and rivers" exist what we call life in the sensory world. Just like the etheric body of the human is constantly in motion or swimming, so in the spiritual realms, all life take on a flowing aspect of oceans and rivers.

[page 77] — What assumes physical form on earth so that it may be perceived by means of physical organs is perceived in its spiritual nature in the first realm of the land of spirit beings. For example, the force that gives the crystal its form may be perceived there, but what thus appears is the antithesis of the form it assumes in the sense world. The space, which in the physical world is filled with the stone mass, appears to spiritual vision as a kind of cavity. Around this cavity, however, the force is visible that gives form to the stone. The color the stone possesses in the physical world is experienced in the spiritual world as the complementary color. Thus a red stone appears greenish In the spirit land and a green stone, reddish. The other characteristics also appear in their complementary forms. Just as stones, earth masses, and so forth, make up the solid land — the continental regions — of the physical world, so the structures described above compose "the solid land of the spirit world. — Everything that is life within the sense world is the oceanic region in the spirit world. Life to the physical eye is manifest in its effects in plants, animals, and men. Life to spiritual vision is a flowing entity that permeates the land of spirits like seas and rivers.

In the third realm of "atmosphere" we experience feelings as if they were atmospheric effects: winds, thunderstorms, etc.

[page 78] Here we must imagine a sea of flowing feeling. Sorrow and pain, joy and delight flow through this realm like wind or a raging tempest in the atmosphere of the sense world. Imagine a battle raging upon earth. Not only human forms confront each other there, forms that can be seen with the physical eyes, but feelings stand forth opposing feelings, passions opposing passions. The battlefield is filled with pain as well as with human forms. Everything that is experienced there of the nature of passion, pain, joy of conquest, is present not alone in its effects perceptible to the senses, but the spiritual sense becomes conscious of it as atmospheric processes in the land of spirits. Such an event in the spirit is like a thunder storm in the physical world, and the perception of these events may be likened to the hearing of words in the physical world. Therefore it is said that just as the air surrounds and permeates the earth beings, so do "wafting spiritual words" enclose the beings and processes of the spirit land.

Warmth is a process that permeates us human beings in the world of the senses. Its equivalent in the spiritual world is thought itself — thoughts that are like living, independent beings in that world.

[page 78, 79] What permeates everything in the spirit land, like warmth permeating earthly things, is the thought world itself, only here, thoughts must be imagined as living, independent entities. What is apprehended as thoughts in the physical world is like the shadow of what exists in the land of spirits as thought beings. If we imagine thought, as it exists in human beings, withdrawn from man and endowed as an active entity with its own inner life, then we have a feeble illustration of what permeates the fourth region of the spirit land. What man perceives as thoughts in his physical world between birth and death is only the manifestation of the thought world as it is able to express itself through the instrumentality of the bodies. But all such thoughts entertained by human beings, which signify an enrichment of the physical world, have their origin in this region. One need not think here merely of the ideas of the great inventors, of the geniuses. It can be seen how every person has sudden ideas that transforms this outer world itself.

To summarize: in the 3rd realm, atmosphere, are feelings and passions; in the 4th realm, thoughts and ideas that allow humans to create; and in the 5th realm, light, not physical light, but its equivalent in the spiritual world which is wisdom.

[page 79] It is wisdom revealing itself in its innermost form. Beings belonging to this region shed wisdom upon their environment, just as the sun sheds light upon physical beings. What is illuminated by this wisdom appears in its true significance and meaning for the spiritual world, just as a physical object displays its color when it is shone upon by the light.

After the purification of desires for the sensory world during kamaloka, the Ego becomes immersed in the spiritual world like a seed on Earth entering the ground during planting.

[page 80] Just as this seed draws substances and forces from its environment in order to develop into a new plant, so, too, unfolding and growth is the very essence of the ego being embedded in the world of spirit.-- Within what an organ perceives lies hidden the force by means of which the organ itself is created. The eye perceives the light, but without the light there would be no eye. Beings that pass their lives in darkness develop no organs of sight.

This next point is essential to grasp if one is to understand how the human being is formed out of the spiritual world. To repeat the key sentence of the above passage: "Within what an organ perceives lies hidden the force by means of which the organ itself is created." Let examine this terse and somewhat convoluted sentence. Our eye perceives light. Within light must lie hidden a force. That hidden force is the agent of the production of the eye. Now, let's read as Steiner shows us how to extend that insight into the entire human being treated as an organism by analogy.

[page 80, 81] In this manner the whole bodily organism of the human being is created out of the hidden forces lying within what is perceived with these bodily members. The physical body is built up by the forces of the physical world, the ether body by those of the life world, and the astral body is formed out of the astral world. When the ego is now transplanted into the spirit land, it encounters those forces that remain hidden to physical perception. In the first region of the spirit land the spiritual beings are perceptible who always surround the human being and who have also fashioned his physical body. Thus in the physical world, man perceives nothing but the manifestations of those spiritual forces that have also formed his own physical body. After death, he is himself in the midst of these formative forces that now appear to him in their own, previously concealed form. Likewise, in the second region he is in the midst of the forces composing his ether body. In the third region, forces stream toward him out of which his astral body has been organized. The higher regions of the spirit land also now impart to him what composes his form in his life between birth and death.

Now we reach the phase in the time between death and a new birth where the buildup of the parts of the new human being’s multi-part body occurs. During our time asleep, the physical and etheric bodies continue their existence on the bed, and the astral and Ego bodies receive restorative forces from the spiritual world to replace those depleted during the waking period. During our time of sojourn in the spiritual world, the physical and etheric bodies have been completely dissolved and something else happens.

[page 81] When the physical and ether bodies have been laid aside, however, and when, after the period of purification, those parts of the astral body that are still connected with the physical world through their desires are also laid aside, all that streams toward the ego from the spirit world now becomes not only a perfector, but a recreator. After a certain length of time, which will be discussed in later parts of this work, an astral body has formed itself around the ego; the former can again dwell in ether and physical bodies befitting the human being between birth and death. He can again pass through birth and appear in a new earth existence into which the fruit of the previous life has been incorporated.

The Ego of the new human-body-to-be can perceive consciously all the processes going on during its body's re-creation, right up to the point where the astral body forms around it like a shell. At that point the Ego body's attention is directed out and turns away from the spiritual world. The Ego loses consciousness of the rest of the re-birth process until the necessary organs for perception of the physical world are formed. The next phase takes us to the selection of the new set of parents.

[page 82] During this period in which consciousness, illuminated by inner perception, ceases, the new ether body begins to attach itself to the astral body and the human being can then again enter into a physical body. Only an ego that has of itself produced life spirit and spirit man, the hidden, creative forces in the ether and physical bodies, would be able to take part consciously in the attachment of these two members. As long as man is not developed to this point, beings who are further advanced than he in their evolution must direct the attachment of these members. The astral body is led by such beings to certain parents, so that he may be endowed with the proper ether and physical bodies.

The next phase happens during the attachment of the etheric body and is a mirror-image of the panorama of one's previous life that was experienced shortly after death. This time the panorama is a vision of the hindrances to be removed during the coming lifetime. The view of these things act as a force which shows up in life as what in the Western world is called conscience. When someone says, "My conscience is bothering me." you can be sure that it is one of these pre-vision forces operating within that person. The term conscience was originated by the Greeks when, during their classical period, a direct vision of one’s previous lifetime was fading from humankind as a conscious capability. We can now understand what are variously called conscience, karma, or destiny to be referring to the same underlying reality.

[page 83] Just as at death a kind of memory picture of the past life arose before the human ego, now a pre-vision of the coming life presents itself. Again he sees a tableau, which this time displays all the hindrances he must remove if his evolution is to make further progress. What he thus sees becomes the starting point of forces that he must carry with him into a new life. The picture of the pain that he has I caused another person becomes the force impelling the ego, on re-entering life, to make reparation for this pain. Thus the previous life has a determining effect upon the new life. The actions of this new life are in a certain way caused by those of the previous life. This orderly connection between a former and a later existence must be considered as the law of destiny. It has become the custom to designate this law by the name karma, a term borrowed from oriental wisdom.

Steiner has just taken us through the complete process from death to a new birth. The newly born human arrives on an Earth that is quite different from the way it looked during its earlier life. Some of the changes in the Earth, the newly arrived human cooperated in producing in the spiritual world.

[page 84] It can be said that human beings, during the period between death and a new birth, transform the earth in such a way that its conditions harmonize with their own development. If we observe a particular spot on the earth at a definite point of time and observe it again after a long span, finding it in a fully changed condition, the forces that have wrought this change are the forces of the human dead.

One question that people have about the time between death and a new birth is whether they will meet their loved ones during that time. Steiner makes it clear that not only do they have communion with them, but it is a deeper communion than in physical life.

[page 85] A bond of love exists between mother and child. This love arises out of an attraction between the two that has its roots in the forces of the sense world. But it changes in the course of time; a spiritual bond is formed, more and more out of the sensory, and this spiritual link is fashioned not merely for the physical world, but also for the land of spirits. This is also true for other relationships. What has been spun in the physical world through spiritual beings remains in the spiritual world. Friends who have become closely united in life belong together also in the land of spirits and, after laying aside their bodies, they are in much more intimate communion than in physical life. For as spirits they exist for each other through the manifestation of their inner nature in the same way that the higher spiritual beings manifest their existence to one another through their inner nature, as we have described above, and a tie that has been woven between two people brings them together again in a new life. Therefore, in the truest sense of the word, we must speak of people finding each other again after death.

The same event can happen to two different people and one will find grief in the event and the other will find relief. How are we to understand this? If one understands that during the process of being reborn, one saw a particular hindrance to be overcome, and during later life, the chance event happens which allows one to overcome the hindrance, one will feel a certain unexplainable relief at the event. That same event happening to another person who came into this life without this same hindrance might experience some grief instead of relief from the event. Anyone who has followed the progress of the human being between death and a new birth as presented in this book will have the ability to be of two minds, the two minds of the two hypothetical people above. They can choose whether to feel grief or relief.

[page 93] Imagine the following case. Something happens to a person that arouses in him a feeling of distress. He can take this in two different ways. He can experience distress over the occurrence and yield himself to its disturbing aspects, even per haps sink into grief. He can, however, take it in another way. He can say, "In reality, I have in a past life developed in myself the force that has confronted me with this event; I have, in fact, brought this thing upon myself," and he can arouse in himself all the feelings that can result from such a thought. Naturally, the thought must be experienced with the utmost sincerity and all possible force if it is to have such a result for the life of feeling and sensation.

We have come to the end of Review 1 and have learned about the meaning of occult science, how the human being is constituted, and how we progress spiritually during waking , sleeping, living, dying and being reborn. Let us allow Rudolf Steiner to set the stage for the next review in which he describes for us how the very structures of the human being we learned about in this Review were formed historically out of the spiritual world.

[page 99] Only repeated earth lives, in connection with the facts in the spiritual realm between these earth lives as presented by spiritual research, can give a satisfactory explanation of the life of present day humanity, considered from every point of view. — The expression "present day" humanity, was intentionally used here, for spiritual research finds that there was a time when the cycle of earth lives began, and that at that time conditions different from those of the present existed for the spiritual being of man as it entered into the corporeal sheath. In the following chapters we shall go back to this primeval state of the human being. When it will have to be shown, from the results of spiritual science, how this human being has attained his present form in relation to the evolution of the earth, we shall then be able to point out still more exactly how the spiritual essential core of man penetrates into the physical body from supersensible worlds, and how the spiritual law of causation — "human destiny" — is developed.

To continue reading of Review 2 (Chapter 4 ) Click Below:
Chapter 4 - Evolution of the Cosmos and Humankind

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ footnotes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1. In my novel about interspecies communication, The Spizznet File, I cite some data involving cetaceans, orcas, in which such communication occurred between distant animals, but the communication was a real-time communication, not an example of time-binding. Elsewhere in the novel I develop a fictional account of dolphins doing time-binding. Whether dolphins have time-binding as a capability or not will await the creation of a real "spizznet" and direct communications between humans and dolphins, a process that this author feels is imminently achievable.
Return to text above footnote 1.

2. The spirit body was originally called spirit man, so you may see either term used in Steiner translations into English.
Return to text above footnote 2.

3. Steiner consistency avoids talking about one's dying, but rather refers to a transition to the life between death and a new birth. His focus is always on life existing in two forms: the one we live now between birth and death, and the one we will live later between death and a new birth.
Return to text above footnote 3.

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