Monday, June 26, 2017

And the Veda was made flesh, and dwelt among us

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Veda, and the Veda was with God, and the Veda was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehends it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Veda was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.
John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, "This was he of whom I spoke: 'He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.'"
And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

So Wrong

"There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them."

George Orwell

[Note: The intellectual among us will be interested to know that Orwell never actually said or wrote these exact words. The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. You could look it up.]

Therapeutic Insights: Earthly and Cosmic Laws

Therapeutic Insights: Earthly and Cosmic Laws

Lecture 1 of 5

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, June 24, 1921:

After the historical considerations we have undertaken, we shall explore today a few things about contemporary man. This will provide us with the possibility of observing more accurately the place of contemporary man in the whole course of time. We should be clear that in the way the human being stands before us as spiritual, soul, and bodily being, he is differently oriented in three directions. We see this already when we look at the human being purely outwardly. In his spirit, man goes through the world independently of outer phenomena, while in his soul he is not as independent of these outer phenomena. One need only consider certain relationships that are visible throughout life in order to discover how the real soul life has certain connections with the outer world. One can be depressed or uplifted in one's soul. Recall how you have often felt depressed in a dream, and how the root of this mood of depression had to be traced back to the irregularity of the breathing rhythm. One could say that this is merely an elementary example, and yet all soul life is never without a similar connection with the rhythmic life that we go through in the rhythm of our breathing, of our blood circulation, and the outer rhythmic life of the entire cosmos. Everything that takes place in the soul is connected with the world rhythm.
Whereas as spiritual beings we can feel highly independent of our environment, we cannot do the same regarding our soul life, for our soul life lies imbedded within the whole world rhythm.
Furthermore, we stand within universal world phenomena as bodily beings. Again, at first we may proceed from merely elementary examples. Man, as a bodily being, is heavy, that is to say, he has weight. Other merely mineral beings also have weight. Mineral beings, plant beings, animal beings, and the human being as a bodily being all partake in this universal weightiness, and we must actually lift ourselves above this universal weightiness when we wish to make the body a physical tool of the spiritual life. We have often mentioned that if it were only the physical weight of the brain that mattered, the weight would be so great (1300 to 1500 grams) that all the blood vessels lying underneath the brain would be crushed. The brain, however, is subject to the Archimedean principle, since it floats in the cerebrospinal fluid. It loses so much weight by floating in the cerebral fluid that it actually weighs only 20 grams and therefore presses on the vessels at the base of the brain with only these 20 grams. You can see from this that the brain actually strives much more upward than downward. It counteracts heaviness. It tears itself free of the universal gravity and thereby acts like any other body that is placed in water and loses as much of its weight as the weight of the displaced water.
You thus can see an interplay between our whole bodily being and the outer world. With our soul weavings we are not only integrated in a rhythm but are fully enmeshed in the outer physical life. If we stand on a given point of the Earth, we press down upon that place; when we move to another point, we press down upon that new place. In our human body, we are as much physical beings as the physical beings of the other kingdoms of nature.
We therefore can say that with our spiritual being we are to some extent independent of the outer world; with our soul being we are part of the rhythm of the world; and with our bodily being we are part of the rest of the world as though we were not also soul and spirit. We must consider this distinction carefully, for we do not attain an understanding of the higher being of man if we do not look at this threefold relationship of the human being to his entire environment. Now, let us look for a moment at man's environment. In man's environment (I am now summarizing what we have considered over the course of many months from different viewpoints) we first have all that is ruled by natural laws. Picture the whole universe ruled by natural laws and, included in these natural laws, the totality of this visible, sense-perceptible world.
Simple consideration shows that we are dealing here only with the actual earthly world. Only foolhardy and unjustified hypotheses of physicists can maintain that the same natural laws we observe on the Earth around us are also applicable in the extraterrestrial cosmos. I have often pointed out to you how surprised the physicists would be if they were able to ascend to the place where the Sun is. Physicists regard the Sun as something comparable to a large gas oven without walls, more or less like a burning gas. If one arrived at the place in the cosmos where the Sun is, one would not find such a burning gas. Instead one would find something totally unlike what the physicists imagine. If this [sketching] encloses the space that normally we picture as taken up by the Sun, not only are there none of the substances found on Earth, but there is even an absence of what we call empty space. Imagine, to begin with, filled space. On Earth you always have a filled space around you. If it is not filled by solid or liquid substances, it is permeated by air, or at least by warmth, light, and so on. In short, we are always dealing with filled space. You also know, however, that it is possible, at least approximately, to create an empty space by extracting the air from a container with an air pump.
Imagine we have a filled space that we will designate with the letter A, preceded by a plus sign: +A. Now, as we make this space emptier and emptier, A will become smaller and smaller, but as the space is still filled we continue to use the + sign. We can imagine — although this is not actually possible under earthly conditions, for we can render space only approximately empty — that it would be possible to produce a completely empty space. Then, in this part of space that we have made empty, there would only be space. I will designate this with 0. It has 0 content. Now, we can do with this space the same thing that you do with your wallet: if your wallet is filled with money, you can take more and more out until finally there is nothing in it. If you want to spend more money, you cannot take anything more out of your wallet, as it is already empty. You can, however, go into debt. You have -0 in your wallet if you incur debts. You can think of this space in the same way: it is not only empty but you could say that it exerts suction because there is less than 0 in it: -A. It can be said of this space exerting suction — which is not just empty but has a content, which is the opposite of being filled by matter — that it is occupied by that space which one must imagine as filled out by the Sun. The Sun therefore has an inward suction; it does not exert pressure like a gas. The Sun space is filled with negative materiality.
Diagram 1
I only present this as an example in order for you to see that earthly lawfulness simply cannot be applied to the extraterrestrial cosmos. We must think of totally different relationships in the extraterrestrial cosmos from those we have learned to know in our environment on the Earth. We must say that we are surrounded by lawfulness within earthly existence, and into this lawfulness is included the world of substances that is initially accessible to us. Now picture earthly existence. All you need to do is to picture the processes in the mineral world; place them before your soul, and you have that which, in so far as you see it, is completely encompassed by this lawfulness of earthly existence. Therefore we can say that the mineral world is encompassed by this lawfulness; yet something else is also encompassed by it. When we walk around, or even when we are carried around, in short when we act as objects in the physical world, we live in the same lawfulness as the mineral world. In relation to earthly lawfulness, it is immaterial whether we carry a stone around, whether it is moved, or whether a human being is carried around or moves himself; regarding this lawfulness, it is the same thing one way or the other. You need only consider that the only thing that comes into consideration regarding earthly lawfulness is a change in location of man's body, which he may, however, bring about himself. This is connected with other things. If you study only earthly lawfulness, what happens within the skin of man or what takes place in his soul can be quite irrelevant. Only the change in location within earthly space need be considered.
We thus can see that in addition to the mineral world there is the human being who has been moved (that is, outwardly moved). The only relationship of the outer world to man, in so far as that world is earthly and confronts our senses, is the relationship to the human being moved outwardly. If we seek any other relationship to man, we must at once refer to something else, and then we come to our extraterrestrial environment, for example, when we study the environment of the Moon, that is, whatever emanates from the Moon. It is a fact that many people are still aware of something of the effect of the Moon on the Earth. Many people believe in such effects of the Moon on the Earth, e.g., the connection of the phases of the Moon with the quantity of rainfall. Learned people in our time consider this a superstition.
I have told you, some of you at least, of an amusing sequence of events that once took place in Leipzig. The unusual natural philosopher and aesthetician Gustav Theodore Fechner went so far as to write a book about the influence of the Moon on weather conditions. He was a university colleague of the well-known botanist and natural scientist Schleiden. Schleiden, as a modern materialist, was convinced, of course, that what his colleague Fechner was advancing about the influence of phases of the Moon on the weather could only be based on superstition. In addition to the two scholars at the University of Leipzig there were also their wives, Frau Schleiden and Frau Fechner. At that time, the conditions were still so primitive that rainwater needed to be collected for wash day. Frau Fechner said that she believed in what her husband had published concerning the influence of Moon phases on the weather. She wanted to reach an agreement with Frau Professor Schleiden, who did not believe in what Fechner maintained, about when was the most efficient time to place out rain barrels in order to collect the most rain. Frau Fechner suggested that Frau Schleiden put out her barrels at different times, since according to Schleiden's opinion she should get just as much water as Frau Fechner. However, despite the fact that Frau Professor Schleiden considered the views of Professor Fechner to be exceedingly superstitious, she still chose to place her rain barrels out at the exact same times as Frau Fechner.
Now, the influence of the forces of other planetary bodies is less perceptible to our modern scientific consciousness. However, if one were to study more closely — as is to happen now in our scientific-physiological institute in Stuttgart — the line of growth followed on the stem by the leaves of plants, for example, one would find how each line is related to the movements of the planets, how these lines are, as it were, miniature pictures of the planetary movements. One thus would find that many things on the surface of the Earth are comprehensible only when one knows the extraterrestrial and does not merely identify the extraterrestrial with the earthly, that is to say, when one presupposes that a lawfulness exists that is cosmic and not earthly.
We therefore can say that we have a second lawfulness within cosmic existence. Only when one begins to study these cosmic influences — and it is possible to do so quite empirically — will one have a true botany. Our plant world does not grow up out of the Earth in the way conceived by a materialistic botany; rather it is pulled out by cosmic forces. What is pulled out in this way by cosmic forces in the process of growth is then permeated by the mineral forces that have saturated this cosmic plant structure so that it becomes visible to the senses. We thus can say firstly that the plant world is included in this cosmic lawfulness. Secondly, all that pertains to the inner movement of man — that is, a definitely physical movement, but within man — is included in this cosmic lawfulness (this is not as easy to establish as in the case of the plant world, because it achieves a certain independence from the rhythm of the outer processes; nevertheless, it imitates this rhythm inwardly). The outwardly moved human being, therefore, is included in the earthly lawfulness, but when you look upon your digestion, upon the movement of the nourishing substances in the digestive organs, when you look beyond merely the rhythm to the actual movement of the blood through the blood vessels — and there are many other things that move inwardly in man — you have a picture of what moves inside of the human being regardless of whether he is standing still or walking about. This cannot be integrated into the earthly lawfulness without further consideration but rather must be integrated into the cosmic lawfulness in the same way as are the forms and also the movements of the plants; in the human being, however, these forms and movements proceed much more slowly than they do in the plants. We therefore can say that the inner movements of man are also included in the cosmic lawfulness.
Now you could consider taking the cosmos into undefined distances; somehow in this way everything has an influence upon the life that develops on the Earth's surface. Yet if these were the only two lawfulnesses that existed — that is, the earthly and cosmic lawfulnesses, in the way I have presented them to you — then nothing would exist on the Earth but the mineral and plant kingdoms, for the human being, of course, would not be able to exist there. If the human being were present, he could move outwardly and the inner movements could take place, but this of course would not yet make up a human being. Neither would animals be able to be present on the Earth under such conditions; in reality, only minerals and plants could exist. Cosmic lawfulness and cosmic content of being must be penetrated and permeated by something that is no longer a part of space, by something concerning which we cannot speak of space at all.
Naturally, everything that is included in the cosmic and earthly lawfulnesses must be thought of as existing in space; now, however, we must speak of something that cannot be thought of as existing in space, although it permeates the whole of cosmic lawfulness. Just imagine how in the human being the movements, that is his inner movements, are connected with his rhythm. To begin with, all that we call the movement of the nourishing substances within us merges into the movement of the blood. However, this movement doesn't take place in such a way that the blood simply flows through the veins as nutritive juice. Not only does the blood itself move rhythmically, but beyond that this rhythm has a definite relationship to the breathing rhythm through the consumption of oxygen by the blood. We have within us this dual rhythm. I pointed out once how the inner soul lawfulness is based upon the 4:1 ratio of the blood rhythm to the breathing rhythm in such a way that meter and verse measure are actually dependent upon it.
We thus see that what takes place as inner movement is related to rhythm, and rhythm, as we have said, is related to the soul life of the human being. In a similar way we must bring what we have in the movement of the stars into a relationship to the world soul. We therefore can speak of a third lawfulness within the world soul in which is encompassed: 1) the animal world, and 2) all the rhythmic processes related to the bodily human being. These rhythmic processes within man have a relationship to the whole world rhythm. We have already spoken about this, but I would like to bring it up again in relation to our further considerations here. You know that the human being takes approximately 18 breaths per minute. Multiply that by 60 and you have the number of breaths per hour; multiply that total by 24 and you have the total for one day: approximately 25,920 breaths for the average human being in the course of a day. This number of breaths per day thus forms the day/night rhythm in the human being. We also know that the spring equinox moves through the constellations bit by bit each year, so that the point at which the Sun rises in spring moves forward in the heavens. The length of time that it takes the Sun to arrive again at its original point is 25,920 years. This is the rhythm of our universe, then, and our own breathing rhythm over twenty-four hours is a miniature picture of it. Hence, with our rhythm we are woven into the world rhythm, with our soul into the lawfulness of the world soul.
Now, there is a fourth lawfulness that lies at the basis of the entire universe as well as of the three previously mentioned lawfulnesses, namely, that within which we feel included when we become conscious of ourselves as spiritual human beings. In this process of becoming conscious of ourselves as spiritual human beings, we achieve clarity about these facts. At first we may not comprehend this or that about the world and, in fact, because of today's intellectualism, which has become a universal cultural force, very little indeed is comprehended. At a certain stage in our human evolution, we initially comprehend very little with our spirit. It is inherent, however, in the self-recognition of the spirit that it says to itself that as it evolves no boundaries can be imposed on its evolution. The spirit must be able to develop into the universe through knowing, feeling, and willing. By bearing the spirit within us, then, we must relate ourselves to a fourth lawfulness within the world spirit.
1.) Lawfulness within earthly existence

       a) The mineral world      b) The externally moved human being

2.) Lawfulness within cosmic existence
       a) The plant world           b) The inner movements of the human being

3.) Lawfulness within the world soul
       a) The animal world        b) The rhythmic processes

4.) Lawfulness within the world spirit
       a) The human being        b) The nerve-sense processes
Only now do we arrive at the real human being encompassed therein, for a human being could not really have existed merely within the other three lawfulnesses. Only now do we find the human being, but specifically that part of him that is his nerve-sense apparatus, all of what is, to begin with, the physical bearer of the spiritual life, the nerve-sense processes. When we look at the human being we consider first the entire human being, in whom the head is the main bearer of the nerve-sense organs; then we consider the head itself. A human being is human, so to speak, by virtue of the fact that he has a head; the head is the most human part of man. In the human being as a whole, and in the head, we already encounter the human being twice.
Now, when we consider what I have just described as a summary of what we have discussed in the last few weeks, it gives us to begin with a picture of the human being's connection with his environment; not merely the spatial environment, however, for the spatial world is related only to the first two lawfulnesses; we also have to do with the world that is non-spatial, which is related to the third and fourth lawfulnesses. It has become increasingly difficult for the contemporary human being to conceive that something could exist not within space or that sometimes it is not meaningful to speak in terms of space even when speaking of realities. Without such a conception, however, one can never rise to a spiritual science. If one wishes to remain within the confines of space, one cannot arrive at spiritual entities.
Last time I spoke here I told you about the world conception of the ancient Greeks in order to point out how in other eras the human being looked at the world differently from today. This picture of which I have just spoken to you can become evident to the human being in the present era; he arrives at it if, simply and without prejudice — that is, undisturbed by the waste products sometimes offered by contemporary science — he observes the world.
I must add a few things to what I told you previously about the ancient Greek world conception so that we are able to see its connection with what I wished to present to you with this scheme. You see, if a human being is very clever he may say that the spatial world consists of some seventy-odd elements that have varying atomic weights and so on; those elements, he maintains, enter into syntheses; one can perform analyses on them, and so forth, and, based on chemical connections and chemical separations, one can explain what happens in the world regarding those seventy-odd elements. That they could be traced back to some earlier origin should not occupy us at the moment. In general, those seventy-odd elements are considered valid today in popular science.
A Greek — not in a contemporary incarnation, in which he would, of course, think like everyone else today if he were well educated — an ancient Greek, let us say, if he could appear in our present-day world, would be prompted to say “Well, this is all very well and good, these seventy-odd elements, but one does not get very far with them; they actually tell us nothing about the world. We used to think quite differently about the world; we conceived of the world as consisting of fire, air, water, and earth.”
A contemporary person would reply, “That is a childish way to comprehend matters. We are far beyond that. We do, in fact, accept the aggregate states; in the gaseous aggregates we grant you the validity of the aeriform, in the fluid aggregates the watery, and in the solid aggregates the earthy. Warmth, however, does not mean at all the same thing to us as it does to you. We have moved beyond such childish notions. What constitutes the world for us we find in our seventy-odd elements.”
The ancient Greek would respond to this: “That is very nice, but fire — or warmth — air, water, earth are something entirely different from what you conceive. You do not understand in the least what we thought about it.”
At first our contemporary scholar would be curiously affected by such comments and would have the impression that he was encountering a human being from a more childlike stage of cultural development. The ancient Greek, because he would be immediately aware of what the modern scholar had in his head, would probably say "What you call your seventy-two elements all belong to what we call earth; it is very nice that you differentiate it and analyze it further, but for us the properties that you recognize in your seventy-two elements belong to the earth. Of water, air, and fire you understand nothing; of those you have no conception.”
This Greek would continue — you can see that I do not choose an Oriental from an ancient cultural period, but a knowledgeable Greek — “What ,you say about your seventy-two elements with their syntheses and analyses is all very nice, but to what do you believe it is related? It is all related merely to the physical human being once he has died and lies in the grave! There his substances, his entire physical body, undergo the processes that you learn to recognize in your physics and chemistry. What it is possible for you to learn within the structural relationships of your seventy-odd elements is not related at all to the living human being. You know nothing of the living human being because you know nothing of water, air, and fire. It is necessary first to know something about water, air, and fire in order then to know something about the living human being. With what is encompassed by your chemistry you know only what happens to man when he is dead and lying in the grave, the processes undergone by the corpse. That is all you come to know by means of your seventy-odd elements.”
If the ancient Greek went any further than this in this discussion he would not be a great success with our contemporary scholar, though he could go to the trouble of clarifying his views in the following way: “Your seventy-two elements are all what we consider earth. We may simply be regarding a general quality, but even if you analyze it further, you arrive merely at a more specific knowledge, and a more specific knowledge will not enable you to penetrate into the depths. If you acknowledged what we designate as water, however, you would have an element in which, as soon as it is weaving and living, earthly conditions are no longer active alone; water, in its entire activity, is subject to cosmic conditions.”
The ancient Greek's understanding of water was not limited merely to its physical characteristics but extended to everything that influences the Earth as lawfulness from the cosmos, in which the movement of the water substance is encompassed. Within this movement of water substance lives the plant element. In distinguishing whatever is in the living and weaving water element from everything earthly, the ancient Greek saw in this living-weaving element the whole lawfulness of the life of vegetation, which is encompassed by this watery element. We thus can place this watery element schematically somewhere on the Earth, but in such a way that it is determined from out of the cosmos. Then we can picture the mineral element, the actual earthly element, sprouting from below upward in a variety of ways, permeating the plants, infiltrating them, as it were, with earthly elements (see sketch).
Diagram 2
What the ancient Greek thought about the watery element, however, was something essentially new, and it was for him a quite definite perception. The Greek did not view this conceptually; rather, he saw it in pictures, in imaginations. Of course we must go back to Platonic times (for Aristotle corrupted this way of viewing), even to pre-Platonic times, in order to find how the truly knowing Greek saw in imaginations what lives in the watery element and actually bears the vegetation, how he related everything to the cosmos. Now, however, the ancient Greek would continue: “What lies in the grave after a human being has died, what is lawfully penetrated by the structural laws that work in your seventy-odd elements, is inserted between birth — or let us say conception — and death into the etheric life working from the cosmos. This etheric life permeates you as a living human being; you will not understand any of this if you do not speak of water as a separate element, if you do not regard the plant world as being tethered in the watery element, if you do not see these pictures, these imaginations.”
“We Greeks,” he would say, “certainly spoke about the etheric body of the human being, but we were not spinning the etheric body out of our fantasy. Rather we said: if one watches in spring the sprouting, greening plant world gradually and variously coloring itself, if one sees this plant world bearing fruit in summer and observes the leaves withering in autumn, if one follows this course of the year in the life of vegetation and has an inner understanding for it, what then appears before the eye of the soul connects with one just as strongly as one is connected with the mineral world by the bread and meat one eats. In a way analogous to eating, one connects with what is outwardly visible in the plant world during the course of the year. Then if one penetrates oneself with the perception that everything happening in the course of twenty-four hours is like a miniature-image of this, repeating itself through one's entire life, then we have within us a miniature image of what constitutes the surrounding world out there from the watery, etheric element, from the cosmos. Whenever we regard this outer world with true understanding, we can say that what is out there also lives within us. We say that the spinach grows out there; I pick it, cook it, and eat it, and thereby have it in my stomach, that is, in my physical body; in the same way we can say, out there, in the course of the year, lives and weaves an etheric life, and that I have within myself.”
The Greek was not conceiving of the physical water; rather, what lay at the basis of his conception was what he grasped in his imagination and brought into living connection with the human being. Thus he would say further to our contemporary scholar: “You study the corpse that lies in the grave, because you study only the earth — your seventy-odd elements are only earth. We studied the living human being; in our time we studied the human being who is not yet dead, who grows and moves out of an inner activity. That is impossible without rising to the other elements.”
Thus it was with the ancient Greeks, and were we to go still further into the past, the airy element and then the fire or warmth element would meet us in full clarity. We will also consider these later. And that is what is so characteristic of our cultural evolution since the first third of the fifteenth century: that the understanding for these connections has simply been lost; thereby the understanding for the living human being was also lost. We study only the corpse in science today. We have often heard that this phase in the history of humanity's evolution had to come, had to come for other reasons, namely, so that humanity could undergo the phase of the evolution of freedom. However, in the process a certain understanding of nature and the human being has been lost since the first third of the fifteenth century. The understanding of natural science up to now has limited itself to this one element, earth, and now we must find the way back. We must find our way back through Imagination to the element of water, through Inspiration to the element of air, through Intuition to the element of fire.

What we have seen and interpreted as an ascent in higher cognition — the ascent from ordinary object cognition through Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition — is fundamentally also an ascent to the elements. We will speak further about this in two days.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bringing in the sheaves

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.  —Psalm 126:5-6

The Working Together of the Four Archangels in the Course of the Year

Diagram 2

The Four Seasons and the Archangels. Lecture 5 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, October 13, 1923:

During the last few days I have brought before you the four cosmic Imaginations which can be called up through an intimate human experience of the seasons of the year. If we are to arrive at an understanding of the whole place and situation of man in the world, we must seek it through the working together of the beings who appear in conjunction with these imaginative pictures. And here I would like first to say something by way of introduction.
If we open our souls to the impressions which may come to us from the content of these pictures, then at the same time there will come to us much that has been experienced in the course of human evolution as an echo of old, instinctive clairvoyance; today this is sometimes treated historically, but fundamentally it is not understood. Real poets and spiritually inspired persons lay hold of these often wonderful voices which sound from the traditions of the past, and make use of them just when they wish to express their highest and greatest conceptions. But even then they are very little understood. So in the first part of Faust there rings out a wonderful saying which is scarcely at all understood, though it is quoted often enough. It occurs when Faust, having opened the book of Nostradamus, comes upon the sign of the Macrocosm:
Wie alles sich zum Ganzen webt,
Eins in dem andern wirkt und lebt!
Wie Himmelskräfte auf- und niedersteigen
Und sich die goldnen Eimer reichen,
Mit segenduftenden Schwingen
Vom Himmel durch die Erde dringen,
Harmonisch all das All durchklingen

How each the Whole its substance gives,
each in the other works and lives!
See heavenly forces rising and descending,
their golden urns reciprocally lending:
on wings that winnow sweet blessing
from heaven through the Earth they're pressing,
to fill the All with harmonies caressing.
[From the translation of Faust: Part One, by Bayard Taylor, revised and edited by Stuart Atkins]
A magnificent picture — but if one knows Goethe one must say that it is real to him only through his feelings. For what Goethe has evidently drawn from his reading of old traditions and his feeling for them — all this stands in its full significance before our souls only if we have in mind the four great cosmic Imaginations, as I described them to you — the Autumn Imagination of Michael, the Christmas Imagination of Gabriel, the Easter Imagination of Raphael, and the Midsummer, St. John's Day, Imagination of Uriel. You must really picture to yourselves how from all these beings — Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Michael — forces stream out through the cosmos and as formative forces stream again into man. In order to understand this, we must see how man stands within the cosmos in — I might almost call it — a purely material way.
In this connection there is very little understanding, unfortunately, for how things really are. For example, medical textbooks always describe how man breathes in oxygen from the air and how the carbon within him takes up the oxygen; this process is then compared with external combustion, in which all sorts of external substances combine with oxygen. The whole process in the human organism, whereby oxygen is taken up by carbon, is then called combustion.
All this is said because one essential fact is not known: the fact that all external substances and processes become different directly they enter into the human organism. Anyone who speaks of this peculiar combination of oxygen with carbon in man and thinks of it as combustion is talking in just the same way as if someone said: “There is no need for a man to have two living lungs; he could equally well have a pair of stones suspended inside him.” That is more or less how these people talk in speaking of the combustion of oxygen and carbon within the human organism.
Everything that takes place externally in nature is different as soon as it enters a human being. No process within the human organism takes place in the same way as in outer nature. A flame that burns externally is dead fire; that which corresponds to it within the human being is flame living and ensouled: Just as a stove stands toward a lung, so does the external flame stand toward the living activity that goes on in the human organism when carbon unites with oxygen there — a process which, viewed externally, is indeed combustion in chemical terms. All spiritual progress at the present day depends on our being able to grasp these things in the right way. Suppose you take salt with your food, or eat some albumen or anything else: people assume that it remains just the same substance within you as it was outside. That is not true. Whatever enters the human being becomes different immediately. And the forces which make it different proceed in a quite definite way from those beings whom I have pictured in the four Imaginations.
Plate V
Plate V

Let us recall the last picture: how at St. John's-tide, Uriel hovers in the heights, weaving his body out of golden light in the golden radiance of the Sun (see Plate V, red.) As I told you, we must picture him with grave, judicial eyes, for his gaze is directed down toward the crystal realm of the Earth, and he sees how little are human errors compatible with the abstract but nonetheless shining beauty of the crystallization process that goes on below the surface of the Earth. That is the reason for his gravely judging gaze, as he looks down and compares human errors with the living activity in the crystals of the Earth.
I spoke also of Uriel's gesture as a warning gesture, indicating to humans what they ought to do. It calls upon them, if they understand it rightly, to transform their faults into virtues. For up above in the clouds appear the shining pictures of beauty, woven out of the Sun-gold, and they are pictures of all that by dint of virtue humanity has achieved.
Now, from the being who has to be described in this way — and can be described in no other way — there proceed forces which work directly in humans, but have also a characteristic further effect. All that I am depicting goes on in high summer. The Uriel being, however, is not at rest, but in majestic movement. This must be so, for when it is summer with us, it is winter in the opposite hemisphere, and Uriel is there in the heights. We must picture this clearly, so that if we have the Earth here (see sketch), Uriel appears to us in summer, and then follows a course which brings him after six months to the other side. Then it is winter with us. While Uriel descends (yellow arrow) and while his forces are thus coming to us from a descending line, summer with us passes over into winter, and then Uriel is over the other hemisphere. But the Earth does not hinder his forces from coming to us; they penetrate through the forces which come to us directly from above (red arrows), seeking to permeate us with the Sun-gold of summer, penetrate right through the Earth in winter and permeate us as an ascending stream (red) from the other side.
Diagram 1
If we bring before our souls the midsummer working of Uriel through nature into humans— for his activity works into the forces of nature — we must picture the forces of Uriel streaming out in the cosmos, raying into the clouds, the rain, the thunder and lightning, and raying also into the growth of plants. In winter, after Uriel has made his way around the Earth, his forces stream up through the Earth and come to rest in our heads. And then these forces, which at other times are outside in nature, have the effect of making us citizens of the cosmos. For they actually cause an image of the cosmos to arise in our heads, illuminating us so that we become possessors of human wisdom.
We speak rightly if we say: Uriel makes his descent as summer passes through autumn into winter. Then in winter he begins to re-ascend, and from this descending and ascending power of Uriel we get the inner forces of our heads. Thus Uriel works in nature at midsummer, and during the winter season he works in the human head, so that in this connection man is truly a microcosm over against the macrocosm.
We understand the human being only if we place him in the world not merely as a being of nature, but as a spiritual being. And just as we can follow the forces of Uriel and see how they stream into man through the course of the year, so must we do with Raphael, who pours his forces into the forces of nature in spring, as I have described. I had to show you how the Easter Imagination is completed through the teaching that Raphael, the great cosmic physician, can give to humankind. For precisely when we allow all that Raphael brings about, working in the springtime forces of nature as Uriel does in summer — when we allow all this to work on us at Easter through the spiritual hearing of Inspiration, then we have the crowning of all the truths of healing for mankind.
But the springtime activity of Raphael travels around the Earth, as Uriel does. In terms of the cosmos Uriel is the spirit of summer; he moves around the Earth and in winter creates the inner forces of the human head. Raphael is the spirit of spring, and in autumn, as he travels around the Earth, he engenders the forces of human breathing. Hence we can say: While during autumn Michael is the cosmic spirit up above, the cosmic Archangel, at Michaelmas Raphael works in human beings — Raphael who is active in the whole human breathing-system, regulating it and giving it his blessing. And we shall form a true picture of autumn only if on the one hand, up above, we have the powerful Michael-Imagination, with the sword forged from meteoric iron, his garment woven out of Sun-gold and shot through with the Earth's silver-sparkling radiance, while Raphael below is working in us, aware of every breath that is drawn, of everything that flows from the lungs into the heart and from the heart through the whole circulation of the blood. Thus we learn to recognize in ourself the healing forces which play through the cosmos in the Raphael-time of spring, if in autumn, when the rays of Raphael pass through the Earth, we come to know how Raphael is active in human breathing.
For this is a great secret: all the healing forces reside originally in the human breathing system. And anyone who understands truly the circuit of the breath knows the healing forces from the human side. They do not reside in the other systems of the human organism; these other systems have themselves to be healed.
Look back and see what I have said about education: the breathing system comes specially into activity between the ages of seven and fourteen. There are great possibilities of illness during the first seven years of life, and again after fourteen; they are relatively least during the period when the breath pulses through the body with the help of the etheric body. A secret activity of healing resides in the breathing system, and all the secrets of healing are at the same time secrets of breathing. And this is connected with the fact that the workings of Raphael, which are cosmic in spring, permeate the whole mystery of human breathing in autumn.
We have learnt to know Gabriel as the Christmas Archangel. He is then the cosmic Spirit; we have to look up above to find him. During the summer Gabriel carries into humans all that is effected by the plastic, formative forces of nourishment. At midsummer they are carried into man by the Gabriel forces, after Gabriel has descended from his cosmic activity during the winter to his human activity in summer, when his forces stream through the Earth and it is winter on the other side.
And when at last we come to Michael, we have him as the cosmic Spirit in autumn. He is then at his highest; he has reached his cosmic culmination. Then he begins his descent; in spring his forces penetrate up through the Earth and live in all that comes to expression in man as movement and the power of will, enabling him to walk and work and take hold of things.
Now bring before you the complete picture. First, the summer picture at the time of St. John: up above, the grave countenance of Uriel, with his judicial look, his warning mien and gesture — and, drawing near to humans and permeating them, the mild and loving gaze of Gabriel, Gabriel with his gesture of blessing. So during summer we have the working together of Uriel in the cosmos, Gabriel on the human side.
If we pass on to autumn, we have the — I will not say commanding, but rather the guiding — look of Michael. For if we see it in the right light, Michael's gaze is like a pointing finger, as though wishing not to look into itself, but to look outward into the world. Michael's gaze is positive, active. And his sword forged out of cosmic iron is held so that at the same time his hand points out to us our way. That is the picture up above.
Below, in autumn, is Raphael, with deeply thoughtful gaze, who brings to mankind the healing forces which he has first — one might say — kindled in the cosmos. Raphael, with deep wisdom in his gaze, leaning on the staff of Mercury, supported by the inner forces of the Earth. Thus we have the working together of Michael in the cosmos, Raphael on Earth.
Now we go on to winter. Gabriel is then the cosmic Angel; Gabriel up above, with his mild and loving look and his gesture of benediction, weaving his garment of snow in the clouds of winter. And below, Uriel, with his grave judgment and warning, at the side of humans: the positions are reversed.
And as we come around again to spring, up above we find Raphael, with his deeply thoughtful gaze; with the staff of Mercury which now in the airy heights has become something like a fiery serpent, a serpent of shining fire, no longer resting on the Earth, but as though held forth, using the forces of the air, mingling and combining fire, water, and earth, so as to transmute them into healing forces, working and weaving in the cosmos.
And below, quite specially visible, is Michael, coming to meet mankind, with his positive gaze; a gaze that shows the way, as it were, into the world and would gladly draw the eyes of human beings in the same direction, as he stands close to mankind, the complement of Raphael, in spring.
So there, you see, are the pictures:
Winter: Gabriel above, Uriel below
Spring: Raphael above, Michael below
Summer: Uriel above, Gabriel below
Autumn: Michael above, Raphael below
Now let us take the words which have come down through the ages like an old magical saying and were used again by Goethe:
Wie alles sich zum Ganzen webt,
Eins in dem andren wirkt und lebt!
Yes, indeed, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael work together, one working in the other, living in the other, and when the human being is placed in the universe as a being of spirit, soul, and body, these forces work magically in us. And how far-reaching is the truth in these words, how far they go! Think what they mean:
Wie alles sich zum Ganzen webt,
Eins in dem andern wirkt und lebt!
Wie Himmelskräfte auf- und niedersteigen
— rising and descending! And then the lines that follow:

Und sich die goldnen Eimer reichen,
Mit segenduftenden Schwingen
Vom Himmel durch die Erde dringen,
Harmonisch all das All durchlingen!
Remember how in yesterday's lecture I spoke of it all passing over from plastic form into musical sound, universally resounding harmony.
I cannot tell you what I felt when this stood before my soul and I read again these lines by Goethe: vom Himmel durch die Erde dringen! This durch — it can shake one profoundly, for that is just how it is — it is true! It is staggering to realize that these words ring through the world like a peal of bells and are regarded as poetic licence or something of the sort — or as words that anyone might write in letters or articles. It is not so. These are words which correspond to a cosmic fact. It is really shattering to read these words in the context of Goethe's Faust and to know how true they are.
Now we will go further. We have seen how the heavenly Powers with golden pinions — the Archangels — permeate the universe in harmony, working and living in one another. But that is not all.
Let us look at Gabriel, who draws nutritive forces out of the cosmos and carries them into human beings at midsummer. These forces are active in the human metabolic system.
Raphael rules in the breathing system. And now Gabriel and Raphael, as they ascend and descend, work together in such a way that Gabriel passes up into the breathing system those forces of his which are otherwise active in human nutrition, and there they become healing forces. Gabriel hands on the nourishment to Raphael, and it then becomes a means of healing. When that which is otherwise only a nutritive process in the human organism is interwoven with the secret of breathing, it becomes a healing force.
We must indeed observe carefully the transformation which external substances undergo in the nutritive system itself; then we come to recognize the significance of the Gabriel forces, the nutritive forces, in the human being. But these forces are led over into the breathing system. And in working on further there, they become not only a means of quenching hunger and thirst, and not only restorative forces: they turn into forces for the inward correction of illness. The transmuted nutritive forces become healing forces. Anyone who understands nutrition correctly, understands the first stage of healing. If he knows what salt should do in a healthy person, then, if he allows the metamorphosis from the Gabriel-way to the Raphael-way to work on him, he will know how salt can act as a means of healing, in this or that case. The healing forces within us are metamorphoses of the nutritive forces. Raphael receives the golden vessel of nutrition from Gabriel; it is passed on to him.
Diagram 2
And now we come to a secret, familiar in early times but entirely lost today. Anyone who can read Hippocrates, or, if he cannot read Galen, can still gather something from him, will notice that, in Hippocrates, and even in Galen, those old physicians, there survived something of what is really a great human secret. The forces that prevail in our breathing system are healing forces; they are healing us continually. But when these breathing forces rise into the head, the healing forces become spiritual forces, active in sense-perception and in thinking. Here is the secret that was known at one time; the secret that is almost explicit in Hippocrates and can at least be drawn out of Galen. Thought, perception, the inner spiritual life of man, are a higher metamorphosis of therapy, the healing process; and when the healing element in the breathing system, which lies between the head and the digestive system, is driven further up, as it were, it becomes the material foundation for the spiritual life of man.
So we can say: The thought which flashes through the human head is really a transmutation of the healing impulses that reside in the various substances. Hence if a man sees truly into the heart of this, and has some healing salt-substance, let us say, in his hand, or some remedial plant-substance, he can look at it and say: Here is a beneficent healing force which I can give to someone in accordance with their need. But if this substance penetrates into the person and passes beyond the realm of breathing, so that it works in their head, it becomes the material bearer of the power of thought: Raphael then hands on his vessel to Uriel.
Why does a remedy heal? Because it is on the way to the spirit. And if one knows how far on the way to the spirit a remedy is, one knows its healing power. The spirit cannot of itself lay hold directly on the earthly in the human being; but the lower stage of the spirit is a therapeutic force.
And just as Gabriel passes on to Raphael the nutritive forces, to be transmuted into forces of healing — in other words, he passes on his golden vessel — and just as Raphael passes on his golden vessel to Uriel, whereby the healing forces are made into the forces of thought, so it is Michael who receives from Uriel the thought-forces, and through the power of cosmic iron, out of which his sword is forged, transforms these thought-forces into forces of will, so that in the human being they become the forces of movement.
Hence we have this second picture: Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel, Michael, ascending and descending; Uriel and Gabriel, let us say, working in one another, but also working with one another, one giving his possession to the other, so that it can work on further in him. We see how the heavenly Powers rise and descend, passing to one another golden vessels — the golden vessels of nourishment, of healing, of the forces of thought and of movement. So these golden vessels move on from one Archangel to another, while at the same time each Archangel works with the other in cosmic harmony.
And again in Faust we find:
Wie Himmelskräfte auf- und niedersteigen
Und sich die goldnen Eimer reichen!
True indeed, down to the very word “golden,” for these things are woven out of the Sun-gold radiating from Uriel, as I described yesterday.

Goethe had of course read the old saying to which he then gave poetic expression, and it made a tremendous impression on him. But the meaning I have been able to picture for you here — that he did not know. It is just this which staggers one — to find that when out of a certain poetic feeling a spirit such as Goethe's takes hold of something handed down from old traditions, it so incredibly reflects the truth! This is the splendid thing that unites us, if we are cultivating spiritual science today and these things are revealed to us: when we truly see how Uriel and Raphael and Michael and Gabriel are working together, and how they really do pass on to one another their own particular forces. If we first see this for ourselves and then, having perhaps come across indirectly an ancient saying, through Goethe in this case, we let it work upon us, we see how an old instinctive truth — no matter whether mythical or legendary — was at one time widely current in the world. And then times change, and in our own time we see how the ancient truth has to be raised to a higher level.
O Hippocrates — it is all the same whether we now give the name of Raphael, or Mercury, or Hermes to the one who stood at his side — this Hippocrates lived at a time when twilight was falling over the knowledge of this working together of Gabriel, Raphae,l and Uriel, and of how the healing forces in the human organism lie between the thoughts and the nutritive forces. This was the source from which an ancient instinctive wisdom drew those wonderful old remedies which in fact are always being renewed. Today they are found among so-called primitive folk, and people cannot imagine how they have been come by. All this is connected with the fact that a primeval wisdom was once possessed by humankind.
But now there must really be a problem left in your minds. It is this: If you take everything I have put before you — how for example the Raphael forces are active in spring, and in autumn are carried over by Raphael into the inwardness of the breathing system — you must have been led to suppose that man is entirely bound up with the working of the forces of the cosmos through the course of the year. Originally, indeed, that is how it was. But because man is a being who remembers, so that an outer experience is preserved in memory and after days or years can be relived as an inner experience, so these truths remain entirely valid for the cosmos — but a man does not inwardly experience the Raphael force in his breathing system only in the autumn, but on through the winter, summer and spring. A kind of memory of it, more substantial than ordinary memory, remains.
So while things are arranged in the way I have described, their effects are active in human beings throughout the year. As an experience remains fixed in the memory, so these effects continue all through the year; otherwise man could not be a uniformly developing being all the year 'round. In physical life, one person forgets more readily, or less readily, than another. But the influence Raphael has implanted in our breathing system during the autumn would disappear by the following autumn when Raphael came again. Until then this nature-memory in the breathing organ remains active, but then it has to be renewed.
So is man placed in the course of nature; he is not excluded from the way the world goes, but planted in the midst of it. But he is placed there in yet another way. It is true that man, standing here on Earth, enclosed within his skin, with his organs embedded in his body, feels himself somewhat isolated in the cosmos, for the connections I have described are indeed full of mystery. But this is not so when man is a being only of spirit and soul — in his pre-earthly existence, for example. Between death and a new birth he lives in a realm of spirit; his soul gazes down not at an individual human body — it chooses this in the course of time — but at the whole Earth, and indeed at the Earth in connection with the whole planetary system, and with all the interwoven activities of Raphael, Uriel, Gabriel, Michael. In that realm, one is looking at oneself from outside.
It is there that the door opens for the entry of souls who are returning from pre-earthly to earthly life. It opens only during the period from the end of December to the beginning of spring, when Gabriel hovers above as cosmic Archangel, while below at man's side is Uriel, carrying cosmic forces into the human head. In the course of these three months the souls who are to be embodied during the whole year come down from the cosmos toward the Earth. They remain waiting there until an opportunity occurs in the Earth's planetary sphere: even the souls who will be born in October, let us say, are already within the Earth sphere, awaiting their birth. Much, very much, depends on whether a soul, after it has entered the Earth sphere and is already in touch with it, has to wait for its earthly embodiment. One soul has a longer wait; another, a shorter one.
The particular secret here is that — just as, for example, the fructifying seed enters the ovum at only one spot — the heavenly seeds enters into the whole yearly being of the Earth only when Gabriel rules above as the cosmic Angel, with his mild, loving look and gesture of benediction, while below is Uriel, with judicial gaze and warning gesture. That is the time when the Earth is impregnated with souls. It is the time when the Earth has its mantle of snow and surrenders to its crystallizing forces; then man can be united with the Earth as the thinking earth-body in the cosmos. Then the souls pass out of the cosmos and assemble, as it were, in the Earth sphere. That is the annual impregnation of the Earth's seasonal being.
To all these things we come, if we have insight not only into the physical aspect of the cosmos, but into the activities of those cosmic beings I have described for you in the four pictures. And if we have arrived at that, we can find in many a poem some indications of the cosmic creative activity, for it is there in the world:
Wie alles sich zum Ganzen webt
Eins in dem andem wirkt und lebt!
Wie Himmelskräfte auf- und niedersteigen
Und sich die goldnen Eimer reichen,
Mit segenduftenden Schwingen
Von Himmel durch die Erde dringen,
Harmonisch all das All durchklingen!
In these very words we can discern something of that wonderful working together of the four Archangel beings who, in conjunction with the forces of nature, permeate and animate the bodily nature, the soul and the spirit in human beings — working in one another, working with one another.