And here the fact is that we have to take as our third disarrangement an inverted preponderance, namely, a preponderance of astral body over etheric body. Thus it is once more the relationship of these same two bodies that concerns us, and this time occult observation discovers a preponderance of the astral body over the etheric body. And this preponderance is the one that in the eyes of man is the most important of the three. For when you consider the human being from a perfectly material point of view you can really imagine him to be as he is pictured in many materialistic books, namely, as nothing else than a great big apparatus of digestion, a sort of machine that eats and digests and builds up its body out of the substances it has received in eating and has elaborated in all kinds of ways. As a matter of fact you find the human being described in this way in books that are written from a materialistic outlook; the picture they give is little more than of a great digestive apparatus, that takes in food, works it up and distributes it to the muscles, bones, sinews, etc. If you look away from all that man is through the fact that he perceives the world of the senses and through the fact that in the whole feeling he has of his body he experiences various glandular processes of excretion — if you look away from all this and consider the human being merely from the point of view of the receiving of nourishment, investigating what happens with the substances from the time they are received through the mouth until the time they are absorbed into the bloodstream, then you have before you a material process which is the ultimate physical expression of the preponderance of the astral body over the etheric body. You will remember that whenever we consider the world from a spiritual point of view we always have to see behind every phenomenon of the senses a spiritual reality. What the senses can perceive is no more than the external appearance. And so behind all these coarser processes of the receiving and the elaboration of nourishment we have to look for spiritual forces, and these spiritual forces are to be found in the preponderance of the astral body over the etheric body. This preponderance is expressed in the normal physical organic life-processes.
This fact brings to expression in a marvellous way how through the temptation of Lucifer there has come about what we may call the “expulsion from Paradise.” For to be in Paradise means nothing else than to be a spiritual being and to have no need of physical nourishment. That which appears to the vast majority of people who are materialistically inclined as the greatest pleasure in life — when we see it for what it is, is their expulsion from Paradise. Human beings have not only been punished by being obliged to receive and digest food, but they have been doubly punished. For the very event which as related in the symbols of the Bible was seen to inflict the greatest loss and sorrow to man, the very event which by the expulsion from Paradise makes it necessary for man to take physical food, has become for the majority of human beings one of the keenest enjoyments of life! Such a change has man undergone that to be outside Paradise has become his greatest pleasure. It is indeed a strange fact in human life that we here have to face, but it must be learned and known.
What then exactly took place to bring about this fourth preponderance? In order to understand this we need first to have a clear idea of what would have been the right and proper relation between I and astral body.
And how does the ego stand then to the astral body? The relationship is a very remarkable one. You can form an idea of it if you will follow attentively some of the chapters in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. As man is today, he is perpetually intimately interwoven with his thinking, feeling, and willing. It is not easy to discover a condition in external consciousness where man is merely in his ego and not interwoven with thinking, feeling, and willing. Make the experiment of trying to grasp the pure thought of the I. Our friends make valiant attempts to grasp the pure thought of the I when Dr. Unger makes the demand upon them again and again to think this thought of the I apart from all thinking, feeling, and willing. They are left breathless in their efforts!
If one reflects a little one is bound to admit that although it may be possible to have this before one as an ideal some day capable of fulfilment, yet man is, as a matter of fact, so mixed up with his thinking, feeling, and willing that it is an exceedingly difficult matter for him to extricate himself. He would find it most difficult to go through the world saying to himself: Here am I going through the world, and with me all the time is a companion who hangs on to me because I have grown together with him, who is like a kind of double. All my thinking, feeling, and willing go on alongside of me. I am not that which thinks and feels and wills, I am what I am in my I, and I walk by the side of what I carry around with me like three sacks, one filled with my thinking, one with my feeling, and one with my willing. But until we have come to a practical realization of this “three sacks” theory we shall not be able to form any correct idea of how the ego would now stand in relation to thinking, feeling, and willing if all were as originally intended by the divine beings before the Luciferic influence interposed. Man was destined to be an onlooker of himself; it was not intended that he should live inside himself. For what was really the nature of the original temptation? Let us put it as tritely as possible: —
And what is this quality actually? How does it manifest in life? It shows itself to begin with in the fact that we are involved and entangled first in our thoughts, and then also in our feelings and our impulses of will. In the first place with our thoughts. If it had not been for Lucifer man would never have hit upon the ridiculous idea that he has an intelligence inside him and that he himself cherishes thoughts within him. He would have known that the thoughts are outside him and that he has to look on at his thinking. Man would always have considered and contemplated, and waited till the thought was given to him, waited until the purpose and meaning of the thinking was revealed. You will find this set forth, for example, in my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. Man would never have had the idea that he has to connect together all kinds of thoughts and form a judgment or opinion within himself. This forming of judgments within ourselves, independent of revelation, is a Luciferic nature in us. And the whole intelligence of man, in so far as he regards it as his property, is a mistake. It is nothing but the temptation of Lucifer that makes man imagine he should have intelligence. And now you will understand how this intelligence, having come about through a shifting of this kind, can by no means be taken as the criterion for all human comprehension of reality.
Why do they strike back? It comes about because while here Lucifer is striking in, Ahriman, in the physical and etheric body, is striking back from the other side. Here in the middle, where you have on the one hand the ascendancy of etheric body over astral body and physical body over etheric body, and on the other hand the ascendancy of astral body over etheric body and I over astral body — here in the middle you have Lucifer and Ahriman in collision. Here they come up against one another. Thus, there is in man a center point where Lucifer and Ahriman meet in their own true nature. And man can either swing in the direction of Lucifer and bore his astral body deeper than is right into his etheric body, or he can take hold of the impetus in the power of Ahriman and strike the etheric body too deep into the astral body. Such are the dynamic effects with which we have to deal.