Thursday, August 31, 2017
Anthroposophical understanding of the spirit must not be a merely theoretical view of the world, but a leaven, an actual power in life. Only when we manage to investigate this view of the world so fundamentally that it really comes alive in us does it properly fulfill its mission. For by linking our souls with this anthroposophical conception of the spirit we have become custodians, as it were, of very definite and significant processes in the evolution of humanity.
Whatever their view of the world, men are generally convinced that thoughts and ideas have no status in it except as the contents of their own souls. Those who hold such views believe that thoughts and mental pictures are “ideals” which will be embodied in the world only to the extent that man succeeds in ratifying them by his physical deeds.
The anthroposophical attitude posits the conviction that our thoughts and ideas must find other ways of taking effect besides the way through our deeds in the physical world. Recognition of this essential principle implies that the anthroposophist must play his part in watching out for the signs of the times. A very great deal is happening all the time in the evolution of the world; and it is incumbent upon men, particularly the men of our own time, to acquire real understanding of what is going on in the evolutionary process in which they themselves are placed.
In the case of an individual human being, everybody knows that account must be taken of his stage of development, not only of the outer facts and occurrences around him. Think of it quite crudely for a moment. Outer, physical happenings are going on around human beings of five, ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy years of age. But nobody in his senses will expect the same reaction to these happenings from the five-year-olds, the ten-year-olds, the twenty-year-olds, the fifty-year-olds, the seventy-year-olds! How human beings may be expected to react to their environment can be determined only by taking account of their stage of development. Everybody will admit this in the case of the individual.
But just as there are definite stages in the evolution of the individual human being, just as the nature of his powers and faculties differs in childhood, middle life, and old age, so too are the powers and faculties possessed by humanity in general constantly changing in the course of evolution. Not to take account of the fact that the character of humanity is different in the twentieth century from what it was in the fifteenth century, let alone before and at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, is to sleep through the process of world evolution. One of the greatest defects, one of the principal sources of aberration and confusion in our time, is its failure to pay heed to this, as well as the prevalent notion that it is possible to speak of man or of humanity in terms of abstract generalizations, that there is no need to regard humanity as being involved in a continuous process of evolution.
How can a more exact insight into these things be acquired? As you know, mention has often been made of an important phase in the evolution of humanity. The Greco-Latin epoch of civilization, lasting from the eighth century B.C. to approximately the fifteenth century, was the period of the development of the Intellectual Soul, or Mind Soul; the development of the Consciousness Soul (the Spiritual Soul) has been in progress since the fifteenth century. This is a factor in the evolution of humanity which essentially concerns our own times. The paramount force in human evolution from the fifteenth century until the beginning of the third millennium is the Spiritual Soul.
But in true spiritual science we must never stop at generalizations and abstractions; everywhere and at all times it must be our endeavor to grasp concrete facts. Abstractions are, at the highest, useful to curiosity in the most ordinary sense of the term. If spiritual science is to become the very leaven and essential force of life, earnestness must outweigh curiosity and we must not stop at abstractions such as those of which I have just spoken. It is both true and important that because we are living in the epoch of the Spiritual Soul we must take account of its development; but we must not stop there.
To arrive at a clear conception of these things, we must above all consider in greater detail the nature of man himself. In the sense of spiritual science, the members of man's being, beginning from above downwards, are: ego, astral body, etheric body — which latterly I have also called the body of formative forces — and physical body. The ego is the only one of these members in which we live and function as beings of spirit-and-soul. The ego has been implanted in us by the Earth-evolution and the Spirits of Form who direct it. Fundamentally speaking, everything that enters into our consciousness enters it through our ego. And unless the ego, as it unfolds itself, can remain connected — connected through the bodies — with the outer world, we have as little consciousness as we have during sleep. It is the ego that connects us with our environment; the astral body is the legacy of the Moon-evolution; the etheric body of the Sun-evolution; the physical body, in its first rudiments, of the Saturn-evolution.
But if you study the description of these bodies given in the book An Outline of Occult Science you will realize by what a complicated process this fourfold constitution of man came into being. Is it not evident from the facts presented in that book that spirits belonging to all the hierarchies participated in the formation of the three sheaths of man's being? Is it not evident that our threefold sheath composed of physical body, etheric body, and astral body is extremely complicated? It is not simply that these sheaths owe their origin to the cooperation of the hierarchies; the hierarchies are still constantly working within them. And those who believe that man is merely the apparatus of bones, blood, flesh, and so forth, of which natural science, physiology, biology, and anatomy speak, have no understanding of his nature.
If we genuinely study these sheaths of man, we realize that spiritual beings of the higher hierarchies are working together with wisdom and with set purpose in everything that takes place, without our being conscious of it, in our bodily sheaths. From the brief outline I have given in Occult Science about the cooperation that took place between particular beings of the hierarchies in order that man should come into existence, you will have realized how intricate the details must be. Nevertheless if man is to be understood, these things too must be studied more and more concretely.
In this domain it is extremely difficult even to formulate a concrete question, because of the tremendous complexity of all such questions. Suppose for a moment that someone were to ask: What is the hierarchy, let us say, of the Seraphim or of the Dynamis (Mights) doing in man's etheric body in the year 1918 of the present cycle of evolution? For we can certainly ask this question, just as we can ask whether it is raining or not raining in Lugano at the present time. Neither question can be answered by mere reflection or theorizing, but only by ascertaining the facts. Just as we should have to find out, by means perhaps of a telegram, whether or not it is raining at Lugano, so it is necessary to investigate the facts themselves in order to get the answer to a question such as: What is the task of the Spirits of Wisdom or of the Thrones in the etheric body of man during the present cycle of evolution? Only, this latter kind of question is indescribably complex and we can never do more than make an approach to the domains where such questions arise. Good care is taken that man shall not soar too far aloft and become arrogant and supercilious in his endeavors to attain knowledge of such things.
Roughly speaking, it is the prospects nearest to us — those that directly concern us — of which we can get a clear view. But such a view we must get, if we are not to remain asleep at our stations in the evolution of humanity.
I will therefore speak about a question that is less vague and indefinite than the question as to what the Dynamis or the Thrones are doing in our etheric body. I will speak of another question that is of immediate concern to men at the present time. It is the question: What are the Angels — the spiritual beings nearest to men — doing in the human astral body in the present cycle of evolution?
The astral body is the member nearest to the ego; obviously, therefore, the answer to this question will vitally concern us. The Angels are the hierarchy immediately above the human hierarchy itself. So the question is not unduly arrogant, and we shall see how it can be answered. What are the Angels doing in man's astral body in this present epoch which began in the fifteenth century and will last until the beginning of the third millennium?
What is there to be said in the general sense when it comes to answering a question such as this? It can only be said that spiritual investigation, when earnestly pursued, is not a matter of juggling with ideas or words, but works its way into the actual sphere where the spiritual world becomes perceptible ... but this question can, in reality, be fruitfully answered only in the age of the Spiritual Soul itself.
You may think that if this question had been asked in other epochs, an answer would probably have been forthcoming. But neither in the epoch of atavistic clairvoyance nor in that of Greco-Latin civilization could this question have been answered, because the pictures arising in man's soul from atavistic clairvoyance obscured his observation of the deeds of the Angels in his astral body. Nothing could be seen of this, precisely because he had in him the pictures given by atavistic clairvoyance. And in the Greco-Latin period, thought was not as strong as it is today. Thought has been strengthened as the direct consequence of the advance of natural science. Hence it is in the epoch of the Spiritual Soul that such questions can be the subject of conscious study. The fruitfulness of spiritual science for life must be shown by the fact that we do not just browse on theories but know how to say things of incisive significance for life.
What are the Angels doing in our astral body? Conviction of what they are doing can come to us only when we have achieved a certain degree of clairvoyance and are able to perceive what is actually going on in our astral body. A certain degree at least of Imaginative knowledge must therefore have been attained if this question is to be answered.
It is then revealed that these beings of the hierarchy of the Angels — particularly through their concerted work, although in a certain sense each single Angel also has his task in connection with every individual human being — these beings form pictures in man's astral body. Under the guidance of the Spirits of Form (Exusiai), the Angels form pictures. Unless we reach the level of Imaginative cognition we do not know that pictures are all the time being formed in our astral body. They arise and pass away, but without them there would be for mankind no evolution into the future in accordance with the intentions of the Spirits of Form. The Spirits of Form are obliged, to begin with, to unfold in pictures what they desire to achieve with us during Earth-evolution and beyond. And then, later on, the pictures become reality in a humanity transformed.
Through the Angels, the Spirits of Form are already now shaping these pictures in our astral body. The Angels form pictures in man's astral body, and these pictures are accessible to thinking that has become clairvoyant. If we are able to scrutinize these pictures, it becomes evident that they are woven in accordance with quite definite impulses and principles. Forces for the future evolution of mankind are contained in them. If we watch the Angels carrying out this work of theirs — strange as it sounds, one has to express it in this way — it is clear that they have a very definite plan for the future configuration of social life on Earth; their aim is to engender in the astral bodies of men such pictures as will bring about definite conditions in the social life of the future.
People may shy away from the notion that Angels want to call forth in them ideals for the future, but it is so all the same. And indeed in forming these pictures the Angels work on a definite principle, namely, that in the future no human being is to find peace in the enjoyment of happiness if others beside him are unhappy. An impulse of brotherhood in the absolute sense, unification of the human race in brotherhood rightly understood — this is to be the governing principle of the social conditions in physical existence.
That is the one principle in accordance with which the Angels form the pictures in man's astral body.
But there is a second impulse in the work of the Angels. The Angels have certain objectives in view not only in connection with the outer social life but also with man's life of soul. Through the pictures they inculcate into the astral body, their aim is that in future time every human being shall see in each and all of his fellow-men a hidden divinity.
Quite clearly, then, according to the intention underlying the work of the Angels, things are to be very different in future. Neither in theory nor in practice shall we look only at man's physical qualities, regarding him as a more highly developed animal, but we must confront every human being with the full realization that in him something is revealing itself from the divine foundations of the world, revealing itself through flesh and blood. To conceive man as a picture revealed from the spiritual world, to conceive this with all the earnestness, all the strength, and all the insight at our command — this is the impulse laid by the Angels into the pictures.
Once this is fulfilled, there will be a very definite consequence. The basis of all free religious feeling that will unfold in humanity in the future will be the acknowledgment, not merely in theory but in actual practice, that every human being is made in the likeness of the Godhead. When that time comes there will be no need for any religious coercion; for then every meeting between one man and another will of itself be in the nature of a religious rite, a sacrament, and nobody will need a special Church with institutions on the physical plane to sustain the religious life. If the Church understands itself truly, its one aim must be to render itself unnecessary on the physical plane, as the whole of life becomes the expression of the supersensible.
The bestowal on man of complete freedom in the religious life — this underlies the impulses, at least, of the work of the Angels.
And there is a third objective: To make it possible for men to reach the Spirit through thinking, to cross the abyss and through thinking to experience the reality of the Spirit.
Spiritual science for the spirit, freedom of religious life for the soul, brotherhood for the bodily life — this resounds like cosmic music through the work wrought by the Angels in the astral bodies of men.
All that is necessary is to raise our consciousness to a different level and we shall feel ourselves transported to this wonderful site of the work done by the Angels in the human astral body.
We are living in the age of the Spiritual Soul, and in this age the Angels work in the astral bodies of men as I have described. Man must gradually come to understand this in his wide-awake consciousness. It is part of the process of human evolution itself. How can such a statement be made? Where are we to look for this work of the Angels?
It is still to be discovered in man while he is sleeping, in the conditions prevailing between the moments of falling asleep and waking — also in somnolent waking states. I have often said that although men are awake, they actually sleep through the most important concerns in life. And I can give you the not very heartening assurance that anyone who goes through life with alert consciousness today finds numbers and numbers of human beings who are really asleep. They let events happen without taking the slightest interest in them, without troubling about them or associating themselves with these happenings in any way. Great world-events often pass men by just as something that is taking place in the city passes a sleeper by ... although people are apparently awake. At such times, while men, in spite of being awake, are sleeping through some momentous event, it can be seen how in their astral bodies — quite independently of what they want or do not want to know — this important work of the Angels continues.
Such things proceed in a way which must necessarily seem highly enigmatic and paradoxical. A man may be considered entirely unworthy of having any connections at all with the spiritual world. But the truth about such a man may well be that in this incarnation he is just a terrible dormouse who sleeps through everything that goes on around him. Yet one of the choir of the Angels is working in his astral body at the future of mankind. Observation of his astral body shows that it is being made use of, in spite of these conditions.
What really matters, however, is that men shall become conscious of these things. The Spiritual Soul must rise to the level where it is able to recognize what can be discovered only in this way.
After all this, you will understand me when I point out that this epoch of the Spiritual Soul is heading toward a definite event, and that — just because it is the Spiritual Soul that is involved — it will depend upon men themselves how this event takes effect in the evolution of humanity. It may come a century earlier or a century later, but it is bound to form part of the evolutionary process. It can be characterized by saying: Purely through the Spiritual Soul, purely through their conscious thinking, men must reach the point of actually perceiving what the Angels are doing to prepare the future of humanity. The teachings of spiritual science in this domain must become practical wisdom in the life of humanity — practical, because men can be convinced that it belongs to their own wisdom to recognize the aims of the Angels, as I have described them.
But the progress of the human race toward freedom has already gone so far that it depends upon man himself whether he will sleep through this event or face it with fully wide-awake consciousness. What would this entail? To face this event with wide-awake consciousness would entail the study of spiritual science, which is possible today. Indeed nothing else is really necessary. The practice of meditations of various kinds and attention to the guidance given in the book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment will be an additional help. But the essential step has already been taken when spiritual science is studied and really consciously understood. Spiritual science can be studied today without developing clairvoyant faculties. Everyone can do so, who does not bar his own way with his prejudices. And if people study spiritual science more and more thoroughly, if they assimilate its concepts and ideas, their consciousness will become so alert that instead of sleeping through certain events, they will be fully aware of them.
These events can be characterized in greater detail, for to know what the Angel is doing is only the preparatory stage. The essential point is that at a definite time — depending, as I have said, upon the attitude men themselves adopt it will be earlier or later, or at worst not at all — a threefold truth will be revealed to mankind by the Angels.
Firstly, it will be shown how his own genuine interest will enable man to understand the deeper side of human nature. A time will come — and it must not pass unnoticed — when out of the spiritual world men will receive through their Angel an impulse that will kindle a far deeper interest in every individual human being than we are inclined to have today. This enhanced interest in our fellow-men will not unfold in the subjective, leisurely way that people would prefer, but by a sudden impetus a certain secret will be inspired into man from the spiritual side, namely, what the other man really is. By this I mean something quite concrete — not any kind of theoretical consideration. Men will learn something whereby their interest in every individual can be kindled. That is the one point — and that is what will particularly affect the social life.
Secondly: From the spiritual world the Angel will reveal to man that, in addition to everything else, the Christ Impulse postulates complete freedom in matters of religions life, that the only true Christianity is the Christianity which makes possible absolute freedom in the religious life.
And thirdly: Unquestionable insight into the spiritual nature of the world.
As I have said, this event ought to take place in such a way that the Spiritual Soul in man participates in it. This is impending in the evolution of humanity, for the Angel is working to this end through the pictures woven in man's astral body.
But let it be emphasized that this impending event confronts the will of man. Many things that should lead to conscious awareness of this event may be and indeed are being left undone.
But as you know, there are other beings working in world-evolution, beings who are interested in deflecting man from his proper course: these are the Ahrimanic and the Luciferic beings. What I have just said belongs to the divinely willed evolution of mankind. If man were to follow the dictates of his own proper nature, he could not very well fail to perceive what the Angel is unfolding in his astral body; but the aim of the Luciferic beings is to tear men away from insight into the work of the Angels. And they set about doing this by curbing man's free will. They try to cloud his understanding of the exercise of his free will. True, they desire to make him good — for from the aspect of which I am now speaking, Lucifer desires that there shall be goodness, spirituality, in man — but automatic goodness, automatic spirituality — without free will. Lucifer desires that man shall be led automatically, in accordance with perfectly good principles, to clairvoyance — but he wants to deprive him of his free will, to remove from him the possibility of evil-doing. Lucifer wants to make man into a being who, it is true, acts out of the spirit, but acts as a reflection, as an automaton, without free will.
This is connected with certain specific secrets of evolution. As you know, the Luciferic beings have remained stationary at other stages of evolution and they introduce an element that is foreign to the normal evolutionary process. They are deeply interested in so seizing hold of man that he does not unfold free will, because they themselves have not acquired free will. Free will can be acquired only on the Earth, but the Luciferic beings want to have nothing to do with the Earth; they want only Saturn-, Sun-, Moon-evolution, and to remain at those stages. In a sense they hate the free will of man. Their manner of acting is highly spiritual, but it is automatic — that is a point of great significance — and they want to lift man to their own spiritual heights, to make him an automaton — a spiritual, but an automatically spiritual, being. Thereby on the one side the danger would arise that prematurely, before his Spiritual Soul is in full function, man would become a being whose actions are those of a spiritual puppet and he would sleep through the impending revelation.
But the Ahrimanic beings too are working to obscure this revelation. They are not at pains to make man particularly spiritual, but rather to kill out in him the consciousness of his own spirituality. They endeavor to instill into him the conviction that he is nothing but a completely developed animal. Ahriman is in truth the teacher par excellence of materialistic Darwinism. He is also the great teacher of all those technical and practical pursuits in Earth-evolution where there is refusal to acknowledge the validity of anything except the external life of the senses, where the only desire is for a widespread technology, so that with somewhat greater refinement, men shall satisfy their hunger, thirst, and other needs in the same way as the animal. To kill, to darken, in man the consciousness that he is an image of the Godhead — this is what the Ahrimanic beings are endeavoring by subtle scientific means of every kind to achieve in our age of the Spiritual Soul.
In earlier epochs it would have been of no avail to the Ahrimanic beings to obscure the truth from men by theories in this way. And why? Even during the Greco-Latin age, but still more so in the earlier epoch when man still had the pictures of atavistic clairvoyance, how he thought was entirely a matter of indifference: he had his pictures and these pictures were windows through which he looked into the spiritual world. Whatever Ahriman might have insinuated to man concerning his relation to the animals would have had no effect at all upon his way of life. Thought has for the first time become really powerful — one could also say, powerful in its ineptitude — in our fifth post-Atlantean epoch, since the fifteenth century. Only since then has thinking been competent to bring the Spiritual Soul into the realm of the spirit, but at the same time also to hinder it from entering the spiritual world. Only now are we experiencing the age when a theory or a science, by the path of consciousness, robs man of his divinity, of his knowledge of the Divine. Only in the age of the Spiritual or Consciousness Soul is this possible. Hence the Ahrimanic spirits endeavor to spread teachings which obscure man's divine origin.
From this mention of the streams which run counter to the normal, god-willed evolution of man it can be gathered how he must conduct his life, lest the impending revelation finds him in a state of sleep. A great danger may arise, and men must be alert to it. If they are not, instead of the event that should play a momentous part in shaping the future evolution of the Earth, a great danger to this evolution will supervene.
Now, certain spiritual beings achieve their development through men who evolve together with them. The Angels who unfold their pictures in the human astral body are not doing this as a game but in order to achieve something. But because this aim must be achieved in earthly humanity itself, the whole matter would become a game if, having reached the stage of the Spiritual Soul, men deliberately ignore it. It would become a game! The Angels would be playing a game in the evolution of man's astral body! Only when this activity is realized in humanity itself is it not a game but serious business.
From this you can realize that the work of the Angels is, and under all circumstances must remain, serious. Just imagine what conditions would be behind the scenes of existence if through their somnolence men were able to turn the work of the Angels into a game!
And what if this should happen after all? What if humanity on Earth should persist in sleeping through the momentous spiritual revelation of the future? If this were to happen in respect of the freedom of the religious life — for example, if men were to sleep through the repetition of the Mystery of Golgotha on the etheric plane, the reappearance of the etheric Christ, or other matters as well — then the Angels would have to try different means of achieving what the pictures they weave in the astral body of man are intended to achieve. If men do not allow this to be achieved in the astral body while they are awake, the Angels would, in this case, endeavor to fulfill their aims through their sleeping bodies. Therefore what the Angels could not achieve because in their waking life men slept through it would be achieved with the help of the physical and etheric bodies of men during actual sleep. It is there that the Angels would seek forces required for the fulfillment of what could not be achieved through men in their wide-awake consciousness when the souls were within the etheric and physical bodies in the waking state. It would be achieved by means of the etheric and physical bodies in the sleeping state, when human beings who ought to be awake to what is going on were outside these bodies with their ego and astral body.
Here lies the great danger for the age of the Spiritual Soul. This is what might still happen if, before the beginning of the third millennium, men were to refuse to turn to the spiritual life. The third millennium begins with the year 2000, so it is only a short time ahead of us. It might still happen that the aim of the Angels in their work would have to be achieved by means of the sleeping bodies of men — instead of through men wide-awake. The Angels might still be compelled to withdraw their whole work from the astral body and to submerge it in the etheric body in order to bring it to fulfillment. But then, in his real being, man would have no part in it. It would have to be performed in the etheric body while man himself was not there, just because if he were there in the waking state he would obstruct it.
I have now given you a general picture of these things. But what would be the outcome if the Angels were obliged to perform this work without man himself participating, to carry it out in his etheric and physical bodies during sleep?
The outcome in the evolution of humanity would unquestionably be threefold. Firstly, something would be engendered in the sleeping human bodies — while the ego and astral body were not within them — and man would meet with it on waking in the morning ... but then it would become instinct instead of conscious spiritual activity and therefore baleful. It is so indeed: certain instinctive knowledge that will arise in human nature, instinctive knowledge connected with the mystery of birth and conception, with sexual life as a whole, threatens to become baleful if the danger of which I have spoken takes effect. Certain Angels would then themselves undergo a change — a change of which I cannot speak, because this is a subject belonging to the higher secrets of initiation-science which may not yet be disclosed. But this much can certainly be said: The effect in the evolution of humanity would be that certain instincts connected with the sexual life would arise in a pernicious form instead of wholesomely, in clear waking consciousness. These instincts would not be mere aberrations but would pass over into and configure the social life, would above all prevent men — through what would then enter their blood as the effect of the sexual life — from unfolding brotherhood in any form whatever on the Earth, and would rather induce them to rebel against it. This would be a matter of instinct.
So the crucial point lies ahead when either the path to the right can be taken — but that demands wakefulness — or the path to the left, which permits of sleep. But in that case instincts come on the scene — instincts of a fearful kind.
And what do you suppose the scientific experts will say when such instincts come into evidence? They will say that it is a natural and inevitable development in the evolution of humanity. Light cannot be shed on such matters by natural science, for whether men become angels or devils would be equally capable of explanation by scientific reasoning. Science will say the same in both cases: the later is the outcome of the earlier ... so grand and wise is the interpretation of nature in terms of causality! Natural science will be totally blind to the event of which I have told you, for if men become half devils through their sexual instincts, science will as a matter of course regard this as a natural necessity. Scientifically, then, the matter is simply not capable of explanation, for whatever happens, everything can be explained by science. The fact is that such things can be understood only by spiritual, supersensible cognition. That is one aspect.
The second aspect is that from this work which involves changes affecting the Angels themselves, still another result accrues for humanity: instinctive knowledge of certain medicaments — but knowledge of a baleful kind!
Everything connected with medicine will make a great advance in the materialistic sense. Men will acquire instinctive insights into the medicinal properties of certain substances and certain treatments — and thereby do terrible harm. But the harm will be called useful. A sick man will be called healthy, for it will be perceived that the particular treatment applied leads to something pleasing. People will actually like things that make the human being — in a certain direction — unhealthy.
Knowledge of the medicinal effects of certain processes and treatments will be enhanced, but this will lead into very baleful channels. For man will come to know through certain instincts what kind of illnesses can be induced by particular substances and treatments. And it will then be possible for him either to bring about or not to bring about illnesses, entirely as suits his egotistical purposes.
The third result will be this. Man will get to know of definite forces which, simply by means of quite easy manipulations — by bringing into accord certain vibrations — will enable him to unleash tremendous mechanical forces in the world. Instinctively he will come to realize in this way the possibility of exercising a certain spiritual guidance and control of the mechanistic principle — and the whole of technical science will sail into desolate waters. But human egoism will find these desolate waters of tremendous use and benefit.
This, my friends, is a fragment of concrete knowledge of the evolution of existence, a fragment of a conception of life which can be truly assessed only by those who realize that an unspiritual view of life can never grow clear about these things. If a form of medicine injurious to humanity were ever to take root, if a terrible aberration of the sexual instincts were to arise, if there were baleful doings in the sphere of the purely mechanistic forces of the world, in the application of the forces of nature by means of spiritual powers, an unspiritual conception of life would see through none of these things, would not perceive how they deviate from the true path. The sleeper, as long as sleep lasts, does not see the approach of a thief who is about to rob him; he is unaware of it and at most he finds out later on, when he wakes, what has been done to him. But it would be a bad awakening for humanity! Man would pride himself upon the growth of his instinctive knowledge of certain processes and substances and would experience such satisfaction in obeying certain aberrations of the sexual impulses that he would regard them as evidence of a particularly high development of superhumanity, of freedom from convention, of broad-mindedness! In a certain respect, ugliness would be beauty and beauty, ugliness. Nothing of this would be perceived because it would all be regarded as natural necessity. But it would denote an aberration from the path which, in the nature of humanity itself, is prescribed for man's essential being.
If a feeling has been acquired of how spiritual science penetrates into and affects our whole attitude of mind, I believe that there can also arise the earnestness required for receiving such truths as have been presented today. From this earnestness there can stem what ought indeed to stem from all spiritual science: the acknowledgment of definite obligations, of definite responsibilities in life. Whatever our position may be, whatever we have to do in the world, the essential thing is to foster the thought that our conduct must be permeated and illumined by our anthroposophical consciousness. Then we contribute something toward the true progress of humanity.
If a man ever believes that true spiritual science, earnestly and worthily pursued, may divert him from practical and necessary activity in life, he is entirely misguided. True spiritual science begets vigilance — an awakening in regard to matters such as those I have presented today. It may be asked: Is waking life, then, really harmful to sleep? If we choose to draw this parallel — namely that insight into the spiritual world is itself a greater awakening from ordinary waking life, just as the ordinary waking is an awakening from sleep — then in order to follow the comparison, we can indeed ask the question: Can waking life ever be harmful to sleep?
Yes — if waking life is not what it ought to be! If a man spends his waking life as it ought to be spent, his sleep will also be healthy, and if in his waking life he is drowsy or lazy, happy-go-lucky or indolent, then his sleep too will be unhealthy. And it is the same in regard to the waking life we acquire as the result of our study of spiritual science. If spiritual science enables us to establish a true relation to the spiritual world, our interest in the familiar facts of physical life will be guided into the right channels — just as a healthy waking life brings order and direction into sleep.
Anyone who looks at life, particularly in our own age, must himself be asleep if he does not notice a number of things. How men have preened themselves on their conduct of life, particularly during the last few decades! Things have finally come to the point where the leading positions everywhere are held by those who are most contemptuous of the ideal, of the spiritual. People managed to go on declaiming about their conduct of this life as long as mankind had not actually been dragged into the abyss. Now a few — mostly out of instinct — are actually beginning to croak that a new age must come, with all kinds of new ideals. But it is all so much croaking. And if things have to come about instinctively, without conscious penetration into spiritual science on the part of men, they would lead to the decline of what ought to be experienced in the waking state rather than to any wholesome transition in evolution.
One who today makes impassioned speeches to men in the words they have so long been accustomed to hear can still usually count on some applause. But men will have to get used to listening to different words, different ways of putting things, if a social cosmos is again to arise out of chaos.
If, in some epoch, the men who ought to be vigilant fail in this respect and do not discern what really ought to happen, then nothing real does happen. Instead, the ghost of the preceding epoch walks — as the ghosts of the past are walking in many religious communities today, and as the ghost of ancient Rome still haunts the sphere of jurisprudence. In the age of the Spiritual Soul, spiritual science must make men free in just this way, must lead them to perception of a spiritual fact: What the Angel is doing in our astral body. To speak abstractly about Angels and so on can at most be the beginning; progress requires that we speak concretely — which means that in reference to our own epoch we find the answer to the question nearest to us. This question concerns us most nearly, for the simple reason that in our astral body the Angel is weaving pictures that are to determine our future form, and this determination is to be brought about through the Spiritual Soul.
If we had not the Spiritual Soul, there would be no need to exert ourselves, for then other spirits, other hierarchies, would certainly step in to bring to fulfillment what the Angel is weaving. But because our task is to unfold the Spiritual Soul, no other spirits step in to carry the work of the Angels into effect.
Other Angels, of course, were at work in the Egyptian epoch. But other spirits soon made their entry, and the work of the Angel was obscured from men through their own atavistic clairvoyance. Their clairvoyance wove a veil, a dark veil, over the pictures. But now man must unveil them. Therefore it behooves him not to sleep through what is being inculcated into his conscious life in the epoch that will end before the third millennium does. Let us draw from anthroposophical spiritual science not only teachings, but resolutions as well! They will give us strength to be vigilant and alert. We can season ourselves to be watchful human beings by paying heed to many things. We can make a beginning in this direction now; we can discover that in reality no single day passes without a miracle happening in our life. This last sentence can be turned, and we can also say: If on some day we find no miracle in our life, then we have merely overlooked it. Try one evening to survey your life and you will find in it some event of slight or great or middling importance of which you will be able to say: It came into my life and took effect in a truly remarkable way. You can realize this, provided only that you think comprehensively enough, provided only that you have in your mind's eye a sufficiently comprehensive picture of the circumstances and connections of life. But in the ordinary course this does not happen, because as a rule we do not ask ourselves: What was it that was prevented from happening by this or that occurrence?
We do not usually trouble about the things that have been prevented but which, if they had happened, would have fundamentally changed our life. Behind these things which in some way or other have been kept out of our lives there is very, very much that educates us into becoming vigilant human beings. What manner of things might have happened to me today? If we ask ourselves this question every evening and then think of particular occurrences which could have had this or that result, observations will couple themselves with such questions and introduce the element of vigilance into the exercise of self-discipline. This is something that can be a beginning, and of itself leads on and on, until finally we do not explore only into what it meant in our life when, for example, we wanted to go out, say, at half-past ten one morning and at the last moment somebody turned up and stopped us ... we are annoyed at being stopped, but we do not enquire what might have happened if we had actually gone out as we had planned. What is it that has been changed?
I have already spoken here in greater detail about such matters. From observation of the negative in our life — which can, however, bear witness to the wisdom guiding it — to observation of the Angel weaving and working in our astral body there is a direct path, a direct and unerring path that can be trodden.
Rudolf Steiner, Verse for the Esoteric School
Within myself I bear forces to make me strong.
With the warmth of these forces I shall be imbued.
With the power of my will I shall be filled.
And then I shall feel
How peacefulness pours through all my being
As I strengthen myself
To find peace as strength within myself
Through steadfast inner striving.
The Evolution of the Earth and Man and the Influence of the Stars. Lecture 6.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, July 31, 1924:
Rudolf Steiner: Good morning, gentlemen! Has someone thought of a question during the last weeks?
Question: Sir, I would like to ask about various foods — beans and carrots, for instance: what effect they have on the body. You have already spoken about potatoes; perhaps we could hear something about other foodstuffs. Some vegetarians won't eat things that have hung in the air, like beans or peas. And when one looks at a field of grain, one wonders how the various grains differ — for apparently all the peoples of the Earth cultivate some grain or other.
Dr. Steiner: So — the question is about the relation of various foods to the human body. Well, first of all we should gain a clear idea of nutrition itself. One's immediate thought of nutrition is that when we eat something, it goes through the mouth down into the stomach, then it is deposited further in the body, and finally we get rid of it; then we must eat again, and so on. But the process is not as simple as that. It is much more complicated. And if one wants to understand how the human being is really related to various foods, one must first be clear about the kinds of food one definitely needs.
Now, the very first thing one needs, the substance one must have without fail, is protein. Let us write all this on the board, so that we have it complete. So, protein, as it is in a hen's egg, for instance — but not just in eggs; protein is in all foods. One needs protein without fail. The second thing one needs is fats. These too are in all foods. Fats are even in plants. The third thing has a name that will be less familiar to you, but one needs to know it: carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found particularly in potatoes, but they are also found in large quantity in all other plants. The important fact about carbohydrates is that when we eat them, they are slowly turned into starch by the saliva in our mouth and the secretions in our stomach. Starch is something we need without fail, but we don't eat starch; we eat foods that contain carbohydrates, and the carbohydrates are turned into starch inside us. Then they are converted once again, in the further process of digestion, into sugar. And we need sugar. So you see, we get the sugar we need from the carbohydrates. But we still need something else: minerals. We get them partly by adding them to our food, for example in the form of salt, and partly they are already contained in all our foodstuffs.
Now, when we consider protein, we must realize how greatly it differs in animals and human beings from what it is in plants. Plants contain protein too, but they don't eat it, so where do they get it from? They get it out of the ground and out of the air, from the mineral world; they can take their protein from lifeless, mineral sources. Neither animal nor man can do that. A human being cannot use the protein that is to be got from lifeless elements — he would then only be a plant — he must get his protein as it is already prepared in plants or animals.
Actually, to be able to live on this Earth the human being needs the plants. But now this is the amazing fact: the plants could not live on the Earth either if human beings were not here! So, gentlemen, we reach the interesting fact — and we must grasp it quite clearly: that of all things the two most essential for human life are the green sap in the green leaves, and blood. The green in the sap of a plant is called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is contained in the green leaf. And the one other essential thing is blood.
Now this brings us to something very remarkable. Think how you breathe: that is also a way of taking in nourishment. You take oxygen in from the air; you breathe it in. But there is carbon spread through your entire body. If you go down into the Earth where there are coal deposits, you've got black coal. When you sharpen a pencil, you've got graphite. Coal and graphite: they're both carbon. Your whole body is made of carbon (as well as other substances). Carbon is formed in the human body. You could say, a man is just a heap of black coal! But you could also say some thing else. Because — remember the most expensive thing in the world? a diamond — and that's made of carbon; it just has a different form. And so, if you like the sound of it better, you could say you're made of glittering diamonds. The black carbon, that graphite in the pencil, and the diamonds: they are all the same substance. If someday the coal that is dug out of the Earth can by some process be made transparent, you'll have diamonds. So we have diamonds hidden in our body. Or we are a coal field! But now when oxygen combines with carbon in the blood, you have carbon dioxide. And you know carbon dioxide quite well: you only have to think of Seltzer water with the bubbles in it: they are the carbon dioxide. It is a gas. So one can have this picture: A human being inhales oxygen from the air, the oxygen spreads all through his blood; in his blood he has carbon, and he exhales carbon dioxide. You breathe oxygen in, you breathe carbon dioxide out.
In the course of the Earth's evolution, gentlemen, which I have recently been describing to you, everything would long ago have been poisoned by the carbon dioxide coming from the human beings and animals. For this evolution has been going on for a long time. As you can see, since long, long ago there could have been no human kingdom or animal kingdom alive on the Earth unless plants had had a very different character from those kingdoms. Plants do not take in oxygen: they take in the carbon dioxide that human beings and animals exhale. Plants are just as greedy for the carbon dioxide as human beings are for oxygen.
Now if we look at a plant [see drawing] — root, stem, leaves, blossoms: the plant absorbs carbon dioxide in every part of it. And now the carbon in the carbon dioxide is deposited in the plant, and the oxygen is breathed out by the plant. Human beings and animals get it back again. Man gives carbon dioxide out and kills everything; the plant keeps back the carbon, releases the oxygen, and brings everything to life again. And the plant could do nothing with the carbon dioxide if it did not have its green sap, the chlorophyll. This green sap of the plant, gentlemen, is a magician. It holds the carbon back inside the plant and lets the oxygen go free. Our blood combines oxygen with carbon; the green plant-sap separates the carbon again from the carbon dioxide and sets the oxygen free. Think what an excellent arrangement nature has made, that plants and animals and human beings should complement one another in this way! They complement one another perfectly.
But we must go on. The human being not only needs the oxygen that the plant gives him, but he needs the entire plant. With the exception of poisonous plants and certain plants which contain very little of these substances, the human being needs all plants not only for his breathing but also for food. And that brings us to another remarkable connection. A plant consists of root, if it is an annual plant (we won't consider trees at this moment) — of root, leaf and stem, blossom and fruit. Now look at the root for a moment. It is in the Earth. It contains many minerals, because minerals are in the Earth and the root clings to the Earth with its tiny fine rootlets, so it is constantly absorbing those minerals. So the root of the plant has a special relation to the mineral realm of the Earth.
And now look here, gentlemen! The part of the human being that is related to the whole Earth is the head. Not the feet, but actually the head. When the human being starts to be an Earth-man in the womb, he has at first almost nothing but a head. He begins with his head. His head takes the shape of the whole cosmos and the shape of the Earth. And the head particularly needs minerals. For it is from the head that the forces go out that fill the human body with bones, for instance. Everything that makes a human being solid is the result of the way the head has been formed. While the head itself is still soft, as in the womb, it cannot form bones properly. But as it becomes harder and harder itself, it gives over to the body the forces by which both man and animal are able to form their solid parts, particularly their bones. You can see from this that we need roots. They are related to the Earth and contain minerals. We need the minerals for bone-building. Bones consist of calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate; those are minerals. So you can see that the human being needs roots in order to strengthen his head.
And so, gentlemen, if — for instance — a child is becoming weak in his head — inattentive, hyperactive — he will usually have a corresponding symptom: worms in his intestines. Worms develop easily in the intestines if the head forces are too weak, because the head does not then work down strongly enough into the rest of the body. Worms find no lodging in a human body if the head forces are working down strongly into the intestines. You can see how magnificently the human body is arranged! — everything is related. And if one's child has worms, one should realize the child has become weak in his head. Also — whoever wants to be a teacher has to know these things — if there are persons who at a later age are weak-minded, one can be sure they have had worms when they were young.
And so what must one do if one observes this in the child? The simplest remedy is to give him carrots to eat for a while — with his other food, of course; naturally, one couldn't just feed him on carrots alone. Carrots are the root of the plant. They grow down in the Earth and have a large quantity of minerals. They have the forces of the Earth in them, and when they are taken into the stomach, they are able to work up through the blood into the head. Only substances rich in minerals are able to reach the head. Substances rich in minerals, root substances, give strength to a human being by way of the head. That is extraordinarily important. It is through carrots that the uppermost parts of the head become strong — which is precisely what the human being needs in order to be inwardly firm and vigorous, not soft.
If you look at the carrot plant, you can't help seeing that its strength has gone particularly into the root. It is almost entirely root. The only part of the plant one is interested in is the root. The rest of it, the green part, is of no importance, it just sits there up above. So the carrot is particularly good as a food substance to maintain the human head. And if sometimes you yourselves feel empty-headed, dull, can't think properly, then it's fine if you too will eat carrots for a while! Naturally, they will help children the most.
But now if we compare a potato to a carrot — well, first of all it looks quite different. Of course, the potato plant has a green part. And then it has the part we eat, what we call the tubers, deep down in the Earth. Now if we would think superficially, we could say those tubers are the roots. But that is not correct; the tubers are not roots. If you look carefully down into the soil, you can see the real roots hanging on the tubers. The real roots are tiny rootlets, root hairs, that hang on the tubers. They fall away easily. When you gather up the potatoes, the hairs have already fallen away. Only in the first moment when you are lifting a potato loose from the soil, the hairs are still all over it. When we eat a potato, we are really eating a piece of swollen, enlarged stem. It only appears to be a root; in reality it is stem. The leaves are metamorphosed. The potato is something down there between the root and the stem. Therefore it does not have as much mineral content as the carrot; it is not as earthy. It grows in the Earth, but it is not so strongly related to the Earth. And it contains particularly carbohydrates; not so many minerals, but carbohydrates.
So now, gentlemen, you can say to yourselves: When I eat carrots, my body can really take it easy, for all it needs is saliva to soften the carrot. All it needs is saliva and stomach secretions, pepsin and so forth, for all the important substance of the carrot to reach the head. We need minerals, and minerals are furnished by any kind of root, but in greatest amounts by such a root as the carrot.
But now, when we eat potatoes, first they go into the mouth and stomach. There the body has to exert strength to derive starch from them. Then the digestive process goes further in the intestines. In order that something can go into the blood and also reach the head, there must be more exertion still, because sugar has to be derived from the starch. Only then can it go to the head. So one has to use still greater forces. Now think of this, gentlemen: when I exert my strength upon some external thing, I become weak. This is really a secret of human physiology: that if I chop wood, if I use my external bodily strength, I become weak; but if I exert an inner strength, transforming carbohydrates into starch and starch into sugar, I become strong. Precisely through the fact that I permeate myself with sugar by eating potatoes, I become strong. When I use my strength externally, I become weak; if I use it internally, I become strong. So it is not a matter of simply filling oneself up with food, but of the food generating strength in our body.
And so one can say: food from roots — and all roots have the same effect as carrots, although not to the same degree: they all work particularly on the head — so, food from roots gives the body what it needs for itself. Foods that lean toward the green of the plant and contain carbohydrates provide the body with strength it needs for work, for movement.
I have already spoken about the potato. While it requires a terribly large expenditure of strength, it leaves a man weak afterwards, and does not provide him with any continuing strength. But the principle I have just given you holds good even for the potato.
Now, to the same extent that the potato is a rather poor foodstuff, all the grains — wheat, rye, and so on — are good foodstuffs. The grains also contain carbohydrates, and of such a nature that the human being forms starch and sugar in the healthiest possible way. Actually, the carbohydrates of the grains can make him stronger than he can make himself by any other means. Only think for a moment how strong people are who live on farms, simply through the fact that they eat large quantities of their own homemade bread which contains the grain from their fields! They only need to have healthy bodies to start with, then if they can digest the rather coarse bread it is really the healthiest food for them. They must first have healthy bodies, but then they become quite especially strong through the process of making starch and sugar.
Now, a question might be raised. You see, human beings have come in the course of their evolution — shall I say, quite of their own accord — to eating the grains differently from the way animals eat them. A horse eats his oats almost as they grow. Animals eat their kernels of grain raw, just as they come from the plant. The birds would have a hard time getting their seed if they had to depend upon someone cooking it for them first! But human beings have come of themselves to cooking the grains. And now, gentlemen, what happens when we cook the grain? Well, when we cook the grain, we don't eat it cold, we eat it warm. And it's a fact, that to digest our food we need inner warmth. Unless there is warmth we can't transform our carbohydrates into starch and the starch into sugar: that requires inner heat.
So if we first apply external heat to the foodstuffs, we help the body: it does not have to provide all the warmth itself. By being cooked first, the foods have already begun the fire process, the warmth process. That's the first result. The second is, that they have been entirely changed. Think what happens to the grain when I make flour into bread. It becomes something quite different. And how has it become different? Well, first I have ground the seeds. What does that mean? I have crushed them into tiny, tiny pieces. And you see. what I do there with the seeds, grinding them, making them fine, I'd otherwise have to do later within my own body! Everything I do externally, I'd otherwise have to do internally, inside my body; so by doing those things, I relieve my body. And the same with the baking itself: all the things I do in cooking, I save my body from doing. I bring the foods to a condition in which my body can more easily digest them.
You have only to think of the difference if someone would eat raw potatoes instead of cooked ones. If someone were to eat his potatoes raw, his stomach would have to provide a tremendous amount of warmth to transform those raw potatoes — which are almost starch already. And the extent to which it could transform them would not be sufficient. So then the potatoes would reach the intestines and the intestines would also have to use a great amount of energy. Then the potatoes would just stay put in the intestines, for the subsequent forces would not be able to carry them farther into the body. So if one eats raw potatoes, either one just loads one's stomach with them and the intestines can't even get started on them, or one fills up the intestines; in either case there is no further digestion. But if the potatoes undergo a preparatory stage through cooking or some other means, then the stomach does not have so much to do, or the intestines either, and the potatoes go over properly into the blood and right up into the head. So you see, by cooking our foods, especially those that are counted among the carbohydrates, we are able to help our nutrition.
You are certainly acquainted with all the new kinds of foolishness in connection with nutrition — for instance, the raw food faddists, who are not going to cook anything anymore, they're going to eat everything raw. How does this come about? It's because people no longer know what's what from a materialistic science, and they shy away from a spiritual science, so they think a few things out on their own. The whole raw food fad is a fantasy. For a time someone living on raw food can whip the body along — in this situation the body has to be using very strong forces, so it has to be whipped — but then it will collapse all the more completely.
But now, gentlemen, let us come to the fats. Plants, almost all of them, contain fats which they derive from the minerals. Now, fats do not enter the human body so easily as carbohydrates and minerals. Minerals are not even changed. For example, when you shake salt into your soup, that salt goes almost unchanged up into your head. You get it as salt in your head. But when you eat potatoes, you don't get potatoes in your head, you get sugar. The conversion takes place as I described to you. With the fats, however, whether they're plant fats or animal fats, it's not such a simple matter. When fats are eaten, they are almost entirely eaten up by the saliva, by the gastric secretions, by the intestinal secretions, and they become something quite different that then goes over into the blood. The animal and the human being must form their own fats in their intestines and in their blood, with forces which the fats they eat call forth.
You see, that is the difference between fats and sugar or minerals. The human being still takes his salt and his sugar from nature. He has to derive the sugar from the potato and the rye and so on, but there is still something of nature in it. But with the fats that man or animal have in them, there is nothing anymore of nature. They have formed them themselves. The human being would have no strength if he did not eat; his intestines and blood need fats. So we can say: Man himself cannot form minerals. If he did not take in minerals, his body would never be able to build them by itself. If he did not take in carbohydrates, if he did not eat bread or something similar from which he gets carbohydrates, he would never be able to form sugar by himself. And if he could not form sugar, he would be a weakling forever. So be grateful for the sugar, gentlemen! Because you are chock-full of sweetness, you have strength. The moment you would no longer be full to the brim with your own sweetness, you would have no strength, you would collapse.
And you know, that holds good even in connection with the various peoples. There are certain peoples who consume very little sugar or foodstuffs that produce sugar. These peoples have weak physical forces. Then there are certain peoples who eat many carbohydrates that form sugar, and they are strong.
But the human being doesn't have it so easy with the fats. If someone has fats in him (and this is true also of the animals), that is his own accomplishment, the accomplishment of his body. Fats are entirely his own production. The human being destroys whatever fats he takes in, plant fats or animal fats, and through their destruction he develops strength. With potatoes, rye, wheat, he develops strength by converting the substances. With the fats that he eats, he develops strength by destroying the substances.
If I destroy something outside of myself, I become tired and exhausted. And if I have had a big fat beefsteak and destroy that inside myself, I become weak in the same way; but my destruction of the fat beefsteak or of the plant fat gives me strength again, so that I can produce my own fat if my body is predisposed to it. So you see, the consumption of fat works very differently in the human body from the consumption of carbohydrates. The human body, gentlemen, is exceedingly complicated, and what I have been describing to you is tremendous work. Much must take place in the human body for it to be able to destroy those plant fats.
But now let us think how it is when someone eats green stuff, the stems and leaves of a plant. When he eats green stuff he is getting fats from the plants. Why is it that sometimes a stem is so hard? Because it then gives its forces to leaves that are going to be rich in carbohydrates. And if the leaves stay green — the greener they are, the more fats they have in them. So when someone eats bread, for instance, he can't take in many fats from the bread. He takes in more, for example, from watercress — that tiny plant with the very tiny leaves — more fats than when he eats bread. That's how the custom came about of putting butter on our bread, some kind of fat. It wasn't lust for the taste. And why country people want bacon with their bread. There again is fat, and that also is eaten for two reasons.
When I eat bread, the bread works upon my head because the root elements of a plant work up into the stem. The stem, even though it is stem and grows above the ground in the air, still has root forces in it. The question is not whether something is above in the air, but whether it has any root forces. Now, the leaf, the green leaf, does not have root forces. No green leaf ever appears down in the Earth. In late summer and autumn, when the Sun forces are no longer working so strongly, the stem can mature. But the leaf needs the strongest Sun forces for it to unfold; it grows toward the Sun. So we can say, the green part of the plant works particularly on heart and lungs, while the root strengthens the head. The potato also is able to work into the head. When we eat greens, they give us particularly plant fats; they strengthen our heart and lungs, the middle man, the chest man.
That, I would say, is the secret of human nutrition: that if I want to work upon my head, I have roots or stems for dinner. If I want to work upon my heart or my lungs, I make myself a green salad. And in this case, because these substances are destroyed in the intestines and only their forces proceed to work, cooking is not so necessary. That's why leaves can be eaten raw as salad. Whatever is to work on the head cannot be eaten raw; it must be cooked. Cooked foods work particularly on the head. Lettuce and similar things work particularly on heart and lungs, building them up, nourishing them through the fats.
But now, gentlemen, the human being must not only nurture the head and the middle body, the breast region, but he must nurture the digestive organs themselves. He needs a stomach, intestines, kidneys, and a liver, and he must build up these digestive organs himself. Now, the interesting fact is this: to build up his digestive organs he needs protein for food, the protein that is in plants, particularly as contained in their blossoms, and most particularly in their fruit. So we can say: the root nourishes the head particularly; the middle of the plant, stem and leaves, nourishes the chest particularly; and fruit nourishes the lower body.
When we look out at our grain fields we can say, Good that they are there! for that nourishes our head. When we look down at the lettuce we've planted, all those leaves that we eat without cooking because they are easily digested in the intestines — and it's their forces that we want — there we get everything that maintains our chest organs. But cast an eye up at the plum and apples, at the fruits growing on the trees — ah! those we don't have to bother to cook much, for they've been cooked by the Sun itself during the whole summer! There an inner ripening has already been happening, so that they are something quite different from the roots, or from stalks and stems (which are not ripened but actually dried up by the Sun). The fruits, as I said, we don't have to cook much — unless we have a weak organism, in which case the intestines cannot destroy the fruits. Then we must cook them; we must have stewed fruit and the like. If someone has intestinal illnesses, he must be careful to take his fruit in some cooked form — sauce, jam, and so forth. If one has a perfectly healthy digestive system, a perfectly healthy intestinal system, then fruits are the right thing to nourish the lower body, through the protein they contain. Protein from any of the fruits nourishes your stomach for you, nourishes all your digestive organs in your lower body.
You can see what a good instinct human beings have had for these things! Naturally, they have not known in concepts all that I've been telling you, but they have known it instinctively. They have always prepared a mixed diet of roots, greens, and fruit; they have eaten all of them, and even the comparative amounts that one should have of these three different foods have been properly determined by their instinct.
But now, as you know, people not only eat plants, they eat animals too, the flesh of animals, animal fat and so on.
Certainly it is not for anthroposophy ever to assume a fanatical or a sectarian attitude. Its task is only to tell how things are. One simply cannot say that people should eat only plants, or that they should also eat animals, and so on. One can only say that some people with the forces they have from heredity are simply not strong enough to perform within their bodies all the work necessary to destroy plant fats, to destroy them so completely that then forces will develop in their bodies for producing their own fat. You see, a person who eats only plant fats — well, either he's renounced the idea of becoming an imposing, portly fellow, or else he must have an awfully good digestive system, so healthy that it is easy for him to destroy the plant fats and in this way get forces to build his own fat. Most people are really unable to produce their own fat if they have only plant fats to destroy. When one eats animal fat in meat, that is not entirely destroyed. Plant fats don't go out beyond the intestines, they are destroyed in the intestines. But the fat contained in meat does go beyond, it goes over into the human being. And the person may be weaker than if he were on a diet of just plant fats.
Therefore, we must distinguish between two kinds of bodies. First there are the bodies that do not like fat, they don't enjoy eating bacon, they just don't like to eat fatty foods. Those are bodies that destroy plant fats comparatively easily and want in that way to form their own fat. They say: “Whatever fat I carry around, I want to make myself; I want my very own fat.” But if someone heaps his table with fatty foods, then he's not saying “I want to make my own fat”; he's saying “The world has to give me my fat.” For animal fat goes over into the body, making the work of nutrition easier.
When a child sucks a candy, he's not doing that for nourishment. There is, to be sure, something nutritious in it, but the child doesn't suck it for that; he sucks it for the sweet taste. The sweetness is the object of his consciousness. But if an adult eats beef fat, or pork fat, or the like, well, that goes over into his body. It satisfies his craving just as the candy satisfies the child's craving. But it is not quite the same, for the adult feels this craving inside him. The adult needs this inner craving in order to respond to his inner being. That is why he loves meat. He eats it because his body loves it.
But it is no use being fanatical about these things. There are people who simply cannot live if they don't have meat. A person must consider carefully whether he really will be able to get on without it. If he does decide he can do without it and changes over from a meat to a vegetarian diet, he will feel stronger than he was before. That's sometimes a difficulty, obviously: some people can't bear the thought of living without meat. If, however, one does become a vegetarian, he feels stronger — because he is no longer obliged to deposit alien fat in his body; he makes his own fat, and this makes him feel stronger.
I know this from my own experience. I could not otherwise have endured the strenuous exertion of these last twenty-four years! I never could have traveled entire nights, for instance, and then given a lecture the next morning. For it is a fact, that if one is a vegetarian one carries out a certain activity within one that is spared the non-vegetarian, who has it done first by an animal. That's the important difference.
But now don't get the idea that I would ever agitate for vegetarianism! It must always be first established whether a person is able to become a vegetarian or not; it is an individual matter.
You see, this is especially important in connection with protein. One can digest protein if one is able to eat plant protein and break it down in the intestines. And then one gets the forces from it. But the moment the intestines are weak, one must get the protein externally, which means one must eat the right kind of protein, which will be animal protein. Hens that lay eggs are also animals! So protein is something that is really judged quite falsely unless it is considered from an anthroposophical point of view.
When I eat roots, their minerals go up into my head. When I eat salad greens, their forces go to my chest, lungs, and heart — not their fats, but the forces from their fats. When I eat fruit, the protein from the fruit stays in the intestines. And the protein from animal substances goes beyond the intestines into the body; animal protein spreads out. One might think, therefore, that if a person eats plenty of protein, he will be a well-nourished individual. This has led to the fact in this materialistic age that people who had studied medicine were recommending excessive amounts of protein for the average diet: they maintained that one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty grams of protein were necessary — which was ridiculous. Today it is known that only a quarter of that amount is necessary. And actually, if a person does eat such enormous and unnecessary amounts of protein — well, then something happens as it once did with a certain professor and his assistant.
They had a man suffering from malnutrition and they wanted to build him up with protein. Now it is generally recognized that when someone is consuming large amounts of protein — it is, of course, converted in him — his urine will show that he has had it in his diet. So now it happened with these two that the man's urine showed no sign of the protein being present in his body. It didn't occur to them that it had already passed through the intestines. The professor was in a terrible state. And the assistant was shaking in his boots as he said timidly: “Sir — Professor — perhaps — through the intestines?” Of course!
What had happened? They had stuffed the man with protein and it was of no use to him, for it had gone from the stomach into the intestines and then out behind. It had not spread into the body at all. If one gulps down too much protein, it doesn't go over into the body at all, but into the fecal waste matter. Even so, the body does get something from it: before it passes out, it lies there in the intestines and becomes poisonous and poisons the whole body. That's what can happen from too much protein. And from this poisoning comes then very frequently arteriosclerosis — so that many people get arteriosclerosis too early, simply from stuffing themselves with too much protein.
It is important, as I have tried to show you, to know these things about nutrition. For most people are thoroughly convinced that the more they eat, the better they are nourished. Of course it is not true. One is often much better nourished if one eats less, because then one does not poison oneself.
The point is really that one must know how the various substances work. One must know that minerals work particularly on the head; carbohydrates — just as they are to be found in our most common foods, bread and potatoes, for instance — work more on the lung system and throat system (lungs, throat, palate, and so on). Fats work particularly on heart and blood vessels, arteries and veins, and protein particularly on the abdominal organs. The head has no special amount of protein. What protein it does have — naturally, it also has to be nourished with protein, for after all, it consists of living substances — that protein man has to form himself. And if one overeats, it's no use believing that in that way one is getting a healthy brain, for just the opposite is happening: one is getting a poisoned brain.
Protein: abdominal organs Fats: heart and blood vessels Carbohydrates: lungs, throat, palate Minerals: head
Perhaps we should devote another session to nutrition! That would be good, because these questions are very important. So then, Saturday at nine o'clock.