Monday, January 10, 2011
Biodynamic Yoga: The Elements of Spiritual Striving. Lecture 2
Thoughts – Bony System = Earthly Man
Imagination – Muscles = Fluid Man
Inspiration – Inner Organs = Aeriform Man
Intuition - Activity of inner organs = Warmth Man
Rudolf Steiner, January 7, 1924 [Course for Young Doctors, lecture 6 of 8]:
For reasons I will not now mention I will postpone the more esoteric lecture I had intended to give today to the end of this course, and speak to you now about something else.
A certain amount of astonishment may have been caused when it was said yesterday that if we want to get at the realities we must think, for instance, of thought being behind solid, earthy phenomena, and courage behind all that is of the nature of air. There is a significance from the point of view of medical history in having our attention drawn to the fact that thought is to be connected with all that is solid, earthy, all that stands before us with definite contours. For this leads us to say to ourselves that thought — thought as a force — is not to be connected with the watery, with the circulation of fluids in the human organism. Neither is thought to be connected with the airy and the warmth nature in man. We have spoken of the conception we must have of the air and the warmth in the cosmos. Within the human being, too, all these things are present, but in a particular form. Within the human being it is like this — only that which has contours, including that which, although it may be soft and pliable, has, nevertheless, the character of solidity, only this may be thought of as corresponding to thought.
We have said that behind the fluid or watery element which confronts us in the physical world, we have to think of something spiritual — namely, something that is of the nature of feeling. This element of feeling within the human organism must be thought of in a special way. We usually think of subjective feeling in this connection; we think of feeling that is connected with the psychical and bodily constitution of the human being. But within the human being, feeling is not merely this direct experience; feeling has an upbuilding activity within the human being. The watery or fluid body, as a formation of the universal, cosmic fluidity, contains feeling as its very essence.
This etheric activity that works within the fluid body must be understood, but it cannot be understood by the same kind of knowledge that we apply to something that is outside the human being, because the substances and processes within the human organism do not work in the same way as they do in the external environment. The moment we come to the fluid organism — when we have to do with a part of the human organization which is in fluid circulation, although there are vascular organs within it — in that moment the knowledge forces which can be applied to what is outside the human being in the physical world are no longer adequate.
That is why medicine lost its knowledge of the fluid man—that was the last of the higher members of which knowledge was lost. One may say that up to the middle forties of the nineteenth century, medicine still had an inkling of the existence of this fluid man. People spoke of the humors, of the circulation of the fluids, of the mixture and the separation of the fluids. Medicine was not confined to the physiology and pathology of cells but actually perceived the combinations and separation of fluids. In the nineteenth century, of course, it was all tradition, but this tradition led back to the time before the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when men had not only tradition but also actual knowledge — knowledge in the form in which we today wrestle for in Anthroposophy and should be able to reach in imagination.
Knowledge in those days had, it is true, an illusionary character, but men had instinctive imaginations. It was known that the human organism cannot be understood by mere sense perception and cogitation; it was known that thinking and sense observation could only be applied to those parts of the organism which have firm contours, and that knowledge of the circulation of the fluids in the watery man must be gained through Imagination. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that the perception of this fluid man was lost. Perception of the fluid man can only come again when we attain to Imaginations in full consciousness.
Let us go over what has been said, once again. When the bony system is building itself up from out of the human organism taken as a totality, when the human being is, as it were, crystallizing into the skeleton — this is not a good way of expressing it, but you will understand what I mean — cosmic thoughts are weaving in him. The organs that have definite outlines have these outlines only because they are subject to the same forces to which the building of the bones is subject. It is only the bony structure in the physical sense that is of the nature of thought, and the other organs with definite outlines have been built up out of the etheric world by an activity of thought. Inasmuch as they have definite outlines and contours, an activity of the nature of thought has been working. The forms in the human organism of which physiology and pathology speak are the result of an activity that is of the nature of thought.
But this is only one member of the human organization, and it must fall out of the human organization if one does not rise to Imagination. It is Imagination that can lead us to the fluid man, to the way in which the muscles are formed out of the fluidity and how the being of man pours into the muscles. Muscles appear to be solid, but this is mere semblance.
Imagination is indispensable if one wants to comprehend the uniting of the solid nature of the bony structure with the fluid nature of the blood into what has the semblance of another solid structure: muscle.
We must therefore realize: Thought, which is of course supported by physical perception, can in reality only grasp the bony system, and apart from the bony system everything that thought may say about the human being is fantasy.
We must ascend from thinking to Imagination. With Imagination we can grasp the nature of the fluid man and understand how this fluid man shoots into the muscular system. The fundamental nature of the muscles can only be grasped by imagination. Why is this? You see, if you apply thoughts, you cannot help applying, too, those laws which are discovered by thought, namely, mechanical laws. You apply the laws of statics and dynamics, and this is possible with the bony system. But just try to apply statics and dynamics to the muscular system and see how you get on! Try to calculate from the laws of statics how you can crush a cherry pit, or a peach pit, by biting it. Try to find out by an experiment how much weight of pressure is necessary to crush this cherry stone. Some — not all of us perhaps — try to bite them! But try to reckon out whether, according to the laws of mechanics, a muscle is capable of crushing a cherry pit. Thought alone will never help you to understand the muscular system. It is quite impossible. The moment we come to the muscles, the principles of mechanics become futile. We must be able to pass over to a form of knowledge that can leave the laws of mechanics behind and which grasps the whole picture of the muscles through imagination. Ordinary gravity is non-existent here. For the moment you come to the watery element you have to do with pure buoyancy.
In the things that you do with your etheric body, you have nothing to do with weight but with what overcomes weight to a great extent. Even this will make you realize that quite a different form of knowledge must be applied to the muscular system. This form of knowledge is imagination. The muscular system is comprehended through imagination — though there are transitions everywhere. It is not possible to understand the muscular system unless we conceive of it as a structure that has not arisen in the same way as the bony system. It has taken shape, as it were, through a coagulation of blood. This is just as inadequate an expression as when I say that the bony system crystallizes, but it is a comparatively correct picture.
Suppose you take some bone — the radius or the ulna, or upper arm — and apply the laws of leverage to it. This is quite all right. But while you can understand by the laws of leverage and other laws of mechanics what goes on in the radius or upper arm, just think whether these laws help you to understand what is going on in a muscle. Your mental pictures here must all become mobile, must be transformed.
The essential characteristic of imagination is that it can always yield and give way and so embrace the substance of things that have their being in the process of metamorphosis.
And this is the characteristic of the muscle; the muscle has its life in its metamorphosis. In contrast to the bones to which the laws of mechanics can be applied, the muscle is just as mobile as the pictures of metamorphosis — say pictures, not thoughts — which we have in imagination.
In the bony system we have the solid, earthy man; in the muscular system we have the fluid man, the watery man.
At the stage of inspiration, above imagination, we come to the airy man, to what is aeriform within the human being. In inspiration we approach a mode of cognition that very much resembles the hearing of musical tones, melodies. Inspiration has nothing any longer to do with concepts but with something that is like the cognition, the realization, of music. Music must not always be heard; inasmuch as it is spiritual, it can also be felt, experienced. All inspiration has, fundamentally, something musical about it.
It is a strange fact that the form of the inner organs of man, of those organs which really provide for the growing organization during life in nourishment, breathing, etc., that none of these organ forms can be explained by any laws of mechanics. Not even by imaginative knowledge are they to be explained. It is just nonsense to try to explain the form of the lungs, of the liver, through their position, through the lie of the cells or through weight. Just try to discover if anyone has succeeded in explaining the form of the liver or the lung and you will find that there is nobody. For these organs, which look after the life that is coming into being during earthly life, are present, in germ, at a very early stage, although later on they are much metamorphosed. They are all of them the outcome of the formative forces of the air.
Modern science says: Air is composed of oxygen, nitrogen, and a few other substances. The aeriform substance is more or less uniform, only differentiated through inner mechanical movement, such as can be observed in wind. But the air that is described by physics today does not exist, in reality. The air that surrounds our Earth is permeated throughout with formative forces. We breathe in these formative forces together with the physical substantiality of the air. Once our organs are complete and we breathe in the air, these formative forces coincide, as it were, with the form of the lung and are not particularly significant except for the purposes of growth. But during the embryonic period, while there is a physical isolation from the external air — then these formative forces of the air work by way of the body of the mother. They build up the lungs and the other organs, with the exception of the muscles and bones. All the inner organs that are to receive life are built up out of the formative forces of the air.
What happens here can be compared — although the comparison is a crude one — to the Chladnic sound figures. Plates covered with fine dust are secured at some point, a violin bow is drawn across the edge of the plate, and then the dust forms itself into certain patterns according to how the violin bow is drawn across the plate. The figures in the dust are formed out of the formative forces produced in the air. So too, the inner organs of man are formed out of the universal formative forces of the air. The lung is formed out of the breathing forces, also the other organs, only the other organs are formed more or less indirectly, the lungs directly. This fact, that the organs are built out of the formative forces of the air, is only to be grasped through inspiration. What has been built out of the air, formed out of the air, has something of the nature of music about it, just as the musical element is at the basis of the Chladnic sound figures.
Much of what modern physiology says is so fundamentally false that one sometimes is embarrassed to say what is correct, so greatly does it differ from what is stated in the ordinary way. In acts of hearing, all the organs of the human being, not only the inner organs of hearing, vibrate together with the air. The whole man vibrates, if only slightly; and the ear is not the organ of hearing just because it vibrates but because it brings to consciousness what is present in the rest of the organism. There is a great but also a subtle, delicate distinction in saying that man hears through the ear, or through the ear is brought to consciousness what has been heard.
The human being is built out of sound, although not from sound that is actually heard. Inspiration is required for comprehension of the inner organs. The organization of man's inner organs, of the aeriform man, must be understood by means of inspiration. It is really not to be wondered at that real understanding of the inner organs of man was already lost in days of antiquity, for inspiration was lost and inspiration is the only means whereby the inner organs can be understood. They can be taken from the corpse and diagrams can be made of them, but they cannot be understood by this means.
You see, therefore, that the whole human organism stands really in the background of the physical world. After reading my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, people always get the picture: Here is the physical world and behind it the spiritual world, in stages or degrees. We reach the nearest spiritual world through imagination, a further spiritual world through inspiration, and a further world through intuition. But people do not picture to themselves that of all that is within the human being, the bony system alone is built up by the elementary spirits, whereas the muscular system is built up by spiritual beings of a higher hierarchy. This must be known and understood. A man must be able to reach these beings through imagination if he is to understand the muscles.
To understand the inner organs, still higher spiritual beings must be reached through inspiration. The inner structure of a skeleton, too, can only be truly understood with inspiration. Just think of the following. A modern scientist investigates a plant by analyzing its substance by the methods current today. But this is by no means the plant in its reality. The plant is built up from out of the cosmos, as I said yesterday. It is only the root that is built up from earthly forces. The whole form of the plant is a spiritual reality, a supersensible reality; this supersensible reality is then filled with matter.
And a man who merely examines this physical matter in the plant is like someone who has a document in front of him that is wet with ink, that he has covered with sand to dry and who then imagines that the sand is the essential thing of the document. The document is covered with this sand and then it is scratched away and the man says: I am examining the sand and I read what the document contains out of the sand. This, more or less, is the way in which people explain the root of a plant, whereas in reality the root is spiritual, filled with physical substance in its framework. So too, the human organs merely receive physical substance.
The reality is that only the bony system is physical; the muscles are etheric, the organs are astral.
If we can attain true intuition we get to the warmth man, the organization that is a space of warmth, inwardly differentiated. The human being actually experiences himself in warmth; his relationship to warmth is not the same as to carbon or nitrogen. Warmth is within him and the human being is within it when he experiences warmth.
The experience of warmth is intense and real, and a modern man cannot deny that he has it, whereas he has no inkling of the fact that he experiences air, water, earth. He has no inkling of this because he has grown out of these experiences. Understanding of the warmth involves the application of intuition to the human organization, but it is the delicate differentiations of the warmth in the forms of the organs themselves which have to be perceived and experienced. When intuition can be applied to the warmth organism through the whole body, this form of cognition leads not, in this case, to an understanding of the inner organs as such but to the activity of these inner organs. The activity of the inner organs must be grasped by an understanding of the organization within the warmth ether. Every other kind of knowledge is incapable of bringing about understanding of the activity of the organs. The activity of the warmth ether, of the warmth man, must be cognized by intuition.
It will not do simply to think: There is the physical world and one must acquire imagination, inspiration, and intuition in order to attain the other worlds. The other worlds are actually present: the etheric world is present in the muscular system; the astral world in the organs; and the devachanic world, the spirit world, is present in the warmth man. The spiritual is always around us; it is actually present. Man is a spirit and this spirit is merely filled with physical substance. To say that man is a physical being is an illusion; man in himself is a spirit who actually reaches up into the higher world through his warmth organization.
That is why it is so odd that spiritualists should sit around a table and address themselves to spirits who are far, far inferior to those eight or ten people who are sitting around the table without knowing that they are spirits! This is a truth that must be taken very, very deeply to heart, and then progress can be made.
If through initiation we have grasped the nature of this wonderful activity from organ to organ which goes on in the warmth ether, we find that there are two kinds of warmth. The warmth ether is a quite special element. When any process calls forth a change in the warmth ether, there is always a counter-working. There is always action and reaction with streamings of warmth. The warmth ether is differentiated within itself. There is always a coarser etheric substance which runs counter to a more delicate one.
Suppose you are in a room that is comfortably warm. You make it warmer — so warm that you cannot stand it. That is not merely a physical condition but also a condition of the life of soul. The more delicate warmth is experienced by the soul. The experience of warmth is really always twofold: there is the warmth that we experience psychically, and the warmth in which we live, the warmth that is outside the soul; there is the warmth that is within our warmth organism, and the warmth that is external to us. Warmth is of the nature of the soul. We can therefore speak of a physical warmth and a soul warmth.
If we pass on to the inner organs, to the aeriform man, where inspiration is needed, here we have the airy element in its main form. Whereas the finer warmth works within warmth, in the aeriform there works light. Intuition reveals warmth within warmth; warmth remains warmth when it is differentiating itself within itself. But this is not the case with air. The real air is not the fantastic air of the physicists, which surrounds our Earth like another skin. The real air is inconceivable without some condition of light — for darkness is also a condition of light. Light and air belong together; light is an active, organizing force in the whole airy organism. Here we come still further into the realm of soul. There is not only external light but also metamorphosed inner light which permeates the whole human being, which lives in him. The light lives within him together with the air.
Equally, the chemical forces (chemism) are within the human being, together with the water, with the fluid element. Water conceived as physical water, the water of the physicists, is pure fantasy. To picture the fluid element within the human being without the chemical forces is just like picturing a human organism without a head. It can be drawn without a head and the life of soul can be entirely eliminated, but then there is no longer any reality. If you cut the head away from your body, the body cannot live, it is no longer an organism. In the same way, the fluid nature in man is not what the physicists fantastically describe as water. Just as the organism, with the head, forms one whole, so is the fluid organism bound up with the chemical forces. The solid or earthy in the human organism only exists in statu nascendi. Like the water in the human being, it is immediately transformed. Within the human being the earthy is bound up with life.
Water Chemical Forces
Physical Body Etheric Body
The physical body and its corresponding etheric body form one whole; they are one unit, seen from two sides. We have the ether stages: warmth, light, chemical forces, life — and we have the physical stages: warmth, air, water, earth. When we give an abstract description of the ethers we give the first place to the warmth ether; when we start from the fluid or solid as the lowest ether, then the highest ether is the life ether. But when we describe the human being we say that the warmth man, the inner activity of the organs, is known by means of intuition. As we descend to the coarsest stage, from the warmth to the earthy in the physical organism, we ascend, in the etheric body, from warmth into life.
What does this mean? Think of it. It means that the human being really reverses his own attributes, or qualities. He expends the warmth ether only upon the warmth organism, the light ether upon the airy organism, the chemical ether upon the fluid organism, the life ether upon his solid organization.
If you really grasp this, then you cannot think as people ordinarily think. If you insist upon thinking along the ordinary lines, you can, in reality, grasp only the bony system, the earthy human being. It is necessary for you to pass over from ordinary thinking to an inner comprehension of the world, as I have said before.
The fact that medical science has a certain peculiarity is connected with these things. Medical knowledge was an outstanding part of the ancient mysteries, where man had real insight into the treatment of a sick human being. The physicians were trained in the mysteries — they were not merely medical men, but they were also sages, wise men who looked after the religious cults. It is natural that the physician should have kept his knowledge secret, as was the case with all mystery knowledge. For you see, if a man wants to know something, he must clothe this knowledge in thoughts; otherwise he floats about in indefiniteness. The picture that comes in imagination, what is heard spiritually (inspiration), and also what is beheld in intuition must all be clothed in thoughts. In ancient times it was known that medical knowledge must be clothed in thoughts.
But by clothing it in thoughts it is deprived of some of its efficacy. I am touching here upon deep matters. It cannot be denied that the knowledge of remedies in a sense takes away their power and a really serious physician must deny himself the use of these therapeutic measures which he uses for his patients; he must deny himself and use, for himself, other kinds of healing. Please think about this last sentence and you will realize, in a much deeper sense than before, that the physician must personally cultivate the mood of helping. He must deny himself the healing forces which he applies to his patients. If a man ascribes the efficacy of a remedy merely to the chemical forces, if he imagines that remedies work like steam in a locomotive, he is not submitting to these spiritual laws. But the moment it is realized that the human being reaches up into the spiritual, it will never be doubted that spiritual laws are at the basis of what is contained in the different remedies. In its real essence, medicine is the most wonderful means of education towards selflessness. To demand that therapy should be taught as mechanics or similar subjects are taught is a crude and coarse misunderstanding. The laws of mechanics can, of course, be applied to the human being, but that is valid then to humanity as a whole. And the physician's work is entirely individual. If a physician has a really profound knowledge of some remedy, it is necessary for him, to a certain extent, to deny healing himself by means of this remedy. This is the great education towards selflessness. I will indicate sometime how the physician can help himself. But you must understand in your hearts what underlies these facts. If you take seriously and earnestly what I have said, it will become a world necessity to introduce into medicine not egoism but altruism. Altruism, selflessness, is the basic principle of medicine. Medical morality is not something that has been invented but proceeds from heavenly laws, from laws which the cosmos itself has formed in order to create remedies which follow its own laws.
The more earnestly a communication like this is taken, the more it will be able to contribute to an understanding of the real basis of all remedies.
Thoughts – Bony System = Earthly Man
Imagination – Muscles = Fluid Man
Inspiration – Inner Organs = Aeriform Man
Intuition - Activity of inner organs = Warmth Man