"Investigating and Formulating the Cosmic Word in Inhalation and Exhalation"
Part 2 of 2
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, April 1, 1922
. . . Let us look at this from a different perspective. It can be said that human beings are born out of light and that the interior of the human head — the entire nervous system — is a product of light. In addition to the eye, all the other sense organs also convey light. The eye is simply the organ that conveys light in the most obvious sense. We cannot say that blind people are totally cut off from light. It works within them; they simply do not perceive it consciously.
Sound also works within us — in the entire body and not just in the ear, which is simply an organ for perceiving sound. When we perceive a symphony, for example, we experience it with our whole body. In the inner process of listening to a piece of music, our respiration shifts into very specific rhythms. These rhythms are specific musical processes evoked by the composition. They are shapes in the element of air inside our body. As such, they bounce off the shapes of the brain, which force them back. This is what produces musical impressions. Inside us, sound is constantly touching and sensing light.
This concept is important to remember: Inside us, sound touches light. The sound in us, the sounding body, is actually an organ of touch for light. Light is the outer element, sound the inner element.
Thought : Inhalation : Revelation
Will : Exhalation : Affirmation
Sound (internal) touches light (external)
Human will touches cosmic thought.
The inner element touches the outer. We grasp an essential aspect of being human only when we understand that we are special beings, removed from the cosmic music of the spheres. As human beings, we feel our way around in the light; within us, sound discovers the nature of the cosmos in configuartions of light. Only in our era has human will begun to touch cosmic thought. Now will replaces sound; thought replaces light. As I have said before, these things are very difficult to formulate in abstract, intellectual terms, but the image that I attempted to present will make it accessible if you contemplate it a bit. The important point about human beings' relation to the cosmos is that the human head is an image of the entire cosmos.
When a human embryo begins to develop in the womb, it is shaped in the image of the cosmos. In the earliest stages of development, the human being is essentially all brain, an image of the cosmos. You can study the cosmos by studying an early-stage embryo. Everything that is not an image of the cosmos is added later and can be described as follows: Here is the Earth, with the human being on it. A portion is taken from the embryo to add the rhythmic forces that surround the Earth and work parallel to its surface. The chest is formed out of streams of forces encircling the Earth. You can see them reflected in the ribs. The last to be added is the effect of the Earth itself, which streams upward from below and is reflected in the legs. As a result, the human body can be drawn as consisting of currents that flow upward from the Earth, currents that encircle the Earth and are related to the chest, and the head at the top, as the image of the entire cosmos.
Throughout a human lifetime, what happens in the head remains an image of the entire cosmos. The very fact that we have a head means that each of us carries an image of the entire cosmos around with us. All we have to do is perceive it. We would not perceive it if the Earth had not organized our body in a way that makes possible the appropriate organs. In fact, the Earth perceives the cosmos through human beings, and the chest provides the connecting link. The cosmos causes inhalation; the Earth causes exhalation. The cosmos supplies pure oxygen; the Earth causes oxygen to combine with carbon, transforming it into the deadening air that we exhale. But in the process of producing dead air, we gain the ability to understand.
Understanding is always associated with death processes in the human being. Understanding kills us; the cosmos enlivens us. We would develop very rapidly if we were subject only to the cosmos. The cosmos supplies us with the most life during the embryonic period. Later, the forces that circulate around the Earth begin to work on us and, later still, the forces streaming up from the Earth itself. These forces convey the life that the cosmos contributes to the body until our portion of cosmic life is used up. The cosmos enlivens us, but the Earth kills us, both as physical organisms and as etheric organisms. The human etheric body, however, belongs primarily to the cosmos, while the physical body belongs primarily to the Earth.
If you consider all this and recall that the people of ancient times cultivated higher knowledge by regulating respiration so they could explore cosmic mysteries within themselves, you will then realize that these people felt themselves related to the entire cosmos. You will understand how they experienced the Cosmic Word through inhalation, and attempted to sacrifice to the Cosmic Word in exhalation. Through yogic breathing they attempted to insert themselves — or rather, their consciousness — into cosmic processes, for of course they themselves were always involved in cosmic processes, though not consciously. No documentation exists of the original yogic breathing, and superficial modern descriptions leave us none the wiser about what it was actually meant to accomplish.
Modern anthroposophical spiritual science, however, does allow us to understand its purpose. By the time documents were produced, ancient yogic breathing no longer existed in its original form. We can never depend on historical documents to reveal the real mysteries of human origins on Earth. These mysteries are disclosed only to those who can look back on times much more ancient than those recorded in outer documents. The mystery of the Easter aum prayer, if I may call it that — I could also call it the aum "cognition formula," for it is that too — is revealed only when we really know how human beings relate to the cosmos through inhaling and exhaling. Air does not convey specific pitches by itself, but it certainly does so when differently tuned strings are plucked. Similarly, inhaled air sent through the brain together with the aum sound expresses all the mysteries of the cosmos within us.
When we know this, we understand how we as human beings are connected to the cosmos. We touch and sense how we have become the personalities we are now. Before conception, we lived in the world of spirit and soul, but in the descent to Earth we passed through the ether of the entire cosmos as we gathered our ether body around us. In this process we absorbed all of the mysteries of the cosmos and gradually imprinted them on our brain. Infants are still involved in this imprinting process. Later, we can rediscover these mysteries within us through deliberate effort. In ancient times breathing exerises were used for this purpose, but now we do it through thinking.
The power of thought, which is nothing other than the diluted force of respiration, is also configured if and when it is actually directed through the brain. Modern people do not do this. We do not guide the power of thinking through our brain. Instead we hear words spoken in our language, words in which thoughts are inherent. What we allow to pass through us is nothing more than imitative babbling based on our nationality. This process yields no inner insight. At best, we write books about how impossible it is to understand anything through language, although it is all we have. We write critiques of language because we have no idea of what the power of thinking hits up against. We know only what is recorded in the words. Modern human beings are simply sounding boards for words. People with keen minds, like Fritz Mauthner, then write books about the fact that words actually encompass nothing of the world's essence.
All this, however, gets us no closer to understanding either human beings or the cosmos, and especially not human beings' connection to the cosmos. We must acknowledge the profound truth of the statement that human beings are human as a result of inhaled air, the breath of the Divine. Through this inhaled air we discover the entire cosmos in ourselves. We discover that we ourselves are a microcosm.
If you take what I have presented here today and ponder it from all aspects, you will find that you gradually arrive at very significant associations. The fact that I initially simply drew you a picture is not owing to some personal quirk. When dealing with spiritual subjects such as this, it is important to avoid the use of abstract words. Instead we must attempt to approach the reality of the situation through images.
I believe that I have pointed to a very important chapter in anthroposophical spiritual science today. I will continue tomorrow in greater detail.
Source: The Sun Mystery