Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Bodhi Tree : Our Cerebellum

Section of cerebellum, enlarged, showing tree-like structure

Rudolf Steiner:

When we fill ourselves with wisdom, when we try in action and thought, in feeling and perception, to live in accordance with wisdom, we use those organs of our physical and ethereal bodies which are so to speak the most perfect in our earthly life — those organs which have developed over the longest period, which were prepared by Saturn, Sun, and Moon and have come into our lives as a heritage, having reached a certain completion.
I would like to give you from another point of view an idea of what can be understood by more or less perfect organs. Take on the one hand our brain. The brain is not the most perfect organ, but we can still call it more perfect than other organs, for it has needed longer for its evolution. We can compare the brain with our torso, upon which we have our hands. When we intend to do something with our hands, we have the thought: I stretch out my hand, I take the vase, I draw back my hand. What have I done ? I have stretched out not only the physical hand, but also the ethereal and the astral hand, and a part of my ego; the physical hand went with them.
If I only think, clairvoyant consciousness can see how something like spiritual arms stretch out from the head, but the physical brain remains within the skull. Just as my ethereal and astral hand belongs to my physical hand, something ethereal and astral belongs to the brain. The brain cannot follow, but the hands can follow. In a later time the hands will one day be fixed, and we shall only be able to move their astral part. Hands are on the way to become what the brain is already. In earlier times, during the old Sun and Moon periods, what today stretches out from the brain as something that is only spiritual was still accompanied by the physical organ. The skull has now covered it, so that the physical brain is held fast within it during the evolution of the Earth. The brain is an organ which has passed through more stages of evolution. The hands are on the way to become similar to the brain, for the whole man is on the way to become a brain. Thus there are organs which are more perfect, and have evolved into something more self-enclosed, and others which are less perfect. The most perfect organs are used for what we achieve in wisdom. Our ordinary brain is really used only as the instrument for the lowest form of wisdom, earthly cleverness. The more we acquire wisdom, the less we depend upon our cerebrum, the more activity is withdrawn (a thing unknown to external anatomy) to our cerebellum, to that smaller brain enclosed within our skull which looks like a tree. When we have become wise, when we have become wisdom, we find ourselves in fact under a ‘tree,’ which is our cerebellum and which then especially begins to unfold its activity.
Imagine how a man who has become especially wise stretches out the organs of his wisdom mightily, like the branches of a tree. They originate in the cerebellum which remains within the hard covering of the skull; but the spiritual organs stretch far out, and man is under the tree, the Bodhi tree, in spiritual reality.