Man in the Light of Occultism, Theosophy, and Philosophy. Lecture 7 of 10
Rudolf Steiner, Christiania [Oslo], Norway, June 9, 1912:
My dear friends,
We have thus on the one hand the three times seven-membered man, and on the other hand, as soon as we take a step beyond ordinary consciousness, we have at once a division of this consciousness into three, which means that every aspirant after occultism who becomes clairvoyant must, as you will know from the book already quoted, strive with all his might to hold together the three members of his consciousness, that he may not fall to pieces in his inner life of soul. It were indeed a tragic destiny for his inner being if that were to happen. While in ordinary life we are continually tempted to bring together the whole nature of man — which is threefold — into a unity and see it as a single and whole human form, for our inner life of soul on the other hand, the moment we step beyond ordinary consciousness we are immediately made aware that we are in reality a threefold being, and are in imminent danger of being torn into three in our inner life of soul.
You know also that this ordinary consciousness ceases when man is asleep; the external sense impressions are not there any more, they have no longer any influence upon him. When man is asleep and the external sense impressions no longer work upon the brain that is sustained by the middle man, naturally the influences that work from the middle man upon the upper man, from the second man upon the first — influences, that is, upon the brain — still go on. For in this middle man breathing is maintained, even during sleep, and the other activities of the middle man continue. Blood is carried up into the brain when man is asleep as well as when he is awake — though with a difference; for the way in which the instrument of everyday consciousness is sustained by the middle man is not quite the same in waking and in sleep. The difference finds expression in the fact that during sleep the number of breaths we take is considerably less in proportion than when we are awake, and the quantity of carbonic acid gas in our breath is reduced by about one fourth; the manner and method of nourishment also changes during sleep. When, under certain circumstances, the process of nourishment does continue to work in the same way during sleep, it can have very bad results. This is well known from the fact that after an excellent meal one does not generally sleep well; the brain is disturbed in its rest if a heavy meal is taken immediately before going to sleep. There is, therefore, a difference between the conditions of sleep and waking even in the way the middle man works up into the upper man.
Now, the path that has to be taken by clairvoyant consciousness is one that leads through stages and conditions that are similar to those of dream consciousness. Only, these stages are attained instead by occult training, and it is actually the case that in clairvoyance man does not merely come to a knowledge of the ordinary external painful conditions of his inside, but succeeds in perceiving also its normal conditions, which usually disappear from our consciousness in peaceful sleep. The pupil in clairvoyance comes to a knowledge of these conditions. In other words, he learns to know his brain, his head man, by learning to perceive it inwardly. Similarly, he comes to know his middle man. In the same way as in certain dreams man perceives when asleep his head and middle man, so has the pupil in clairvoyance to attain in the course of his training to a knowledge of his middle and upper man.
And then came the greatest moment of all, when this pupil of occultism observed not what is, so to speak, on the upper surface of his head, but when he looked down from the upper man, from the head, to the middle man, when he perceived, without opening any of his senses, the lower surface of his brain and from it saw the middle man irradiated with light. Himself in total darkness (for his senses were closed, and to outward appearance he was like a man who is asleep), he perceived, looking downward inwardly, the Sun in the night, in the midst of the dark surface of the heavens. This is what was called in the ancient Mysteries “seeing the Sun at midnight” — seeing, that is, the flowing sunlight within the stars, whose influence in relation to the Sun seems so small. These experiences were important milestones in the life of every aspirant after occultism.
How did it then appear to them? It was projected outwards, but was not perceived like the ideas to which we are accustomed, and which have their source in the world outside; it appeared like inner sunlight — yet as coming from without. And when investigation was made into the source of the appearance, when the aspirants after occultism set out to learn how it was that they found themselves in such conditions, then they were made clearly aware of the Sun nature that is in the middle man. Man has this Sun-like element in him, because he is himself a Sun being. That which manifests in the instrument of the brain is connected with the fact that man is a star being, that he is in very truth formed and shaped from out of the whole of cosmic space. What he now perceives, however, has relation to the fact that the Earth has revolving around it the Moon, and that the Moon in her revolution around the Earth has a powerful influence on the being of man.
There were times when men knew: We are Sun beings. They knew it because they could perceive the Sun through the inner idea formed in the brain. But this came about through the influence of the Moon. The old clairvoyance often worked in the way I indicated. Man gave himself up throughout the whole twenty-eight days to the waxing and waning of the Moon. There were days when the influence of the Moon was particularly strong and when in consequence clairvoyance was present in everyone; inner clairvoyant consciousness made itself felt in all men. When initiates in occultism came to people of this kind with the mission of determining for them the character of their religion, then for the same reason that other peoples were made Sun (or Day) worshippers and Star (or Night) worshippers, the initiates made this third kind of people Moon worshippers. Hence the worship of the Moon that is to be found among many ancient peoples.
Similarly it would have been of no use at all to say to the Moon peoples: “Imagine to yourselves an invisible being who has as it were his outer body in the Moon.” It was, however, possible to say something else, and this is what Moses did say to the Hebrew people. It could not have been said to the more ancient Moon worshippers, but only to the ancient Hebrew people. For Moses did not direct his people to the visible Moon, but to the being in whom lay the origin of the ancient clairvoyance of all peoples. This clairvoyance had been given to man — as a kind of compensation, when he was placed into the condition of having to alternate with his consciousness between day and night; and it brought him a knowledge of the world that resembled what comes to expression in the reflected rays of the Sun. The reflection of the Sun could only be something external for man, could only give him an Earth consciousness — a day consciousness, and a night consciousness that at most was aware only of the external visible world of stars — and so a clairvoyance was given to the man of ancient times as a compensation; it was given him through the possibility of alternation in this day and night consciousness — an old clairvoyance that is derived from the spiritual being of the Moon and has also relation, locally, with the Moon.
Our study has brought us to an understanding of certain important experiences of the aspirants after occultism, who in a higher consciousness are able to learn by real experience that man belongs in his being to the entire world, perceiving how the middle man is in reality a Sun man, and the upper man a star man. And we have also seen what occultism is able to recognize in the external religions, namely, that they were in great measure given to mankind as very ancient religions and even as ancient theosophies. For when the man of olden times developed a need for worship and prayer, in that moment something of the old clairvoyance began to stir within him, so that he had no need merely to believe what the old initiates told him but was able to comprehend it even though he could not actually see it. The ancient religions are thus to a great extent theosophies. And the theosophical teachings that were given by the occultists were determined according to the section of the Earth which that particular people was destined to inhabit.