Thursday, February 9, 2012
The Anatomy and Physiology of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness
The Riddle of Humanity. Lecture 4 of 15.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, August 5, 1916:
If we set out to compare the way in which people of today speak about matters of the soul and of the body with how the Greeks once spoke of these things, we will discover a time, not very long ago, when the Greeks were much more aware of the relationship between body and soul than is the case today. In so doing, it is extraordinarily important for us to be clear that, given the Greeks' view of the world, a materialistic explanation of the connections between body and soul would have been out of the question. Today, when someone says that this or that convolution of the brain is the speech center, he is thinking about the location of the faculty in a very materialistic way. For the most part, such a person is only thinking of how the speech sounds might be produced, purely mechanically, at some particular place in the brain. Even if he is not explicitly a materialist, at the very least he will think that anyone who wants to understand the real connections must conceive of the act of speaking in more or less materialistic terms. The Greeks could speak much more extensively about the inner connections between body and soul without arousing any materialistic assumptions, for they still felt that the things of the external world could be seen as revelations and manifestations of the spirit.
Today it does not occur to someone who is speaking about the speech center in the brain that this speech center is, in the first instance, built in the spirit. Nor does he think of what is there materially as being a sign or symbol or likeness of the spirit that is behind it and exists quite independently of those spiritual events that are played out in the human soul. The Greeks always saw the entire physically existing human being as a likeness and a symbol of the supersensible spiritual reality that stands behind him. It must be conceded that most people of today would not find such a conception at all easy, for even though we may not want them, many materialistic notions have adhered to our souls. Just consider what was said in the last lecture about how a person's head has actually been formed in the spiritual world, how its source is in the spiritual world, and how, essentially, it was prepared in the spiritual world in the time between the previous death and this birth. These days, it would be astonishing to meet someone who does not say ‘We know for certain that the head is formed in the mother's body during the time of pregnancy; it is mad to say that it is really formed during the long period between the last death and this birth or conception.’ Anyone who thinks in wholly materialistic terms — ‘thinks naturally’, one is almost bound to say — must view these aforementioned assertions as a form of madness.
But, as you shall see, if you picture matters in the manner of what follows, it will nevertheless be possible for you to arrive at the appropriate thoughts.
Naturally, prior to conception everything to do with the head is invisible. No meteor descends from the heights of heaven to lodge in the mother's body — of course not. But the forces required for the human head, namely, the forces that form and shape it, are active during the time between death and a new conception. Think of it as a more or less invisible, but already shaped, head. Of course, when I use lines to draw it, they represent something invisible. Only forces are present.
Nor should these forces be imagined as having the shape of the physical head. But they are the forces that cause the physical shape of the head — bring it about. And these begin to work on matter during the time in the mother's body; the matter takes on form in accordance with these forces. The form of the head is not made there, but the head that is built there is built according to the form that has moved into the mother's body from out of the expanses of the cosmos. That is the real truth. Of course it is only when physical matter comes into this form that it becomes visible for the first time. The physical matter crystallizes more or less within the field of certain invisible formative forces. The forces connected with inheritance also play into this, but the principal formative forces of the head are of cosmic origin. In the mother's body, matter is drawn into the field of these forces, which I would like to describe as forces of crystallization.
Thus, one must keep in mind that what is visible is extraneous material that has, so to speak, been shot into a field of forces. The lines of force originate in the cosmos. Thus you can see how the material part of the head really can he pictured as analogous to iron filings within a magnetic field. The iron filings align themselves in accordance with the magnet's invisible lines of force. The form of the head is to be imagined as radiating in from the cosmos, invisibly, like the force-field emitted by a magnet. What the mother contributes is incorporated into the head in accordance with the cosmic patterns, like iron filings in a magnetic field.
Picturing things in this way will help you to fashion the concepts you need for understanding how the human head is shaped during the period between death and a new birth, and how the formative forces that shape the rest of the organism — not totally, but more or less, as in the previous case — originate in the earthly sphere, in the stream of inheritance passed through the generations. By origin, a human being is both cosmic and earthly: cosmic with respect to the principal source of the head, earthly with respect to the rest of the body. These things are manifestations of the most profound mysteries, so one always has to limit oneself to speaking only about particular aspects. They are unimaginably far-reaching mysteries which contain keys to understanding the origins not only of humanity but of the whole cosmos. The mysteries at work here actually are keys to understanding the whole cosmos.
So, from this point of view, we can already conceive of man as a being with a dual nature. Because humanity has this dual nature, it is necessary to our studies that we draw a sharp distinction between everything that is a part of the head, or is connected with it, and what is a part of the rest of the organism, or is connected with that.
This brings us to a subject that a contemporary mind finds particularly difficult to understand, for people of today like to explain everything in the same way, to stuff everything into one pigeon-hole. One cannot do this if one keeps the realities in view, but keeping realities in view is the last thing our modern science does! The whole body except for the head — everything to do with the human body with the exception of head — must be seen as a pictorial representation of the spiritual forces standing behind it. What is related to the head, however, is not a pictorial representation in the same sense, but is more like the kind of representation you have in a drawing. A picture resembles its subject more closely than a mere drawing. The painter and the sculptor try to reproduce certain aspects of the original; someone writing a description of a thing uses letters that have very little similarity to the original. Letters are the most extreme example of drawings; paintings and works of sculpture are pictures and resemble their originals much more closely.
Now, the difference we are considering here is not so great as the difference between a picture and a written description, but the situation is similar. The rest of the body, excluding the head, is a picture of what stands behind it; the head and all that concerns it is more like a drawing. The head we see with our physical eyes has less resemblance to what stands behind it than does the rest of the body; the body our physical eyes see is more like what stands behind it. The discrepancy is already very pronounced if you observe the etheric body; it is even more pronounced when you observe the astral body — not to mention the ego. Thus, as regards the head — its shape, expression, and so on — we are dealing with something that is more like a drawing; when we look at the rest of the body with our physical eyes we are seeing something that more closely resembles what stands behind it spiritually — it is a closer copy of the supersensible, invisible forces in which it originated. We must maintain this distinction, for today there is a tendency to observe these two things in the same way. People are fond of reminding themselves of the old saying ‘Everything transitory is but a likeness.’ And that is rightly said — but there are different degrees of likeness. I want to consider the whole human being as a likeness of the supersensible, but in such a way that the body is a likeness in the manner of a picture, whereas the head is a likeness in an even higher sense. This follows from the way the rest of the body is formed by the forces in whose midst we live during the period between birth and death, while the head is more the product of the forces in whose midst we live during the period between death and a new birth, or conception. If we want to consider the human being as a whole, both as the being who goes through the life between death and a new birth as well as the being who lives between birth and death, we cannot leave the parts of the human being that remain strictly supersensible — even when he is here in the physical world — out of our considerations.
I would like to use three words to describe the part of the human being that always remains strictly supersensible — words that have been particularly significant since time immemorial. During certain periods they have degenerated into mere phrases, as have many such words, but they need not be taken as mere phrases if one gives them their full meaning. In the course of his development, a person comes into contact with truth, beauty, and goodness. Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are the three concepts to which I refer and which have been spoken about since time immemorial. Even a superficial examination begins to reveal something of these ideas to us. What is normally called truth is related to the life of thought, what one calls beautiful is related to the life of feeling, and what one calls good is related to the life of the will. One can also say: the life of the will brings us into a relationship with morality. Everything to do with aesthetic enjoyment and creativity is related to the life of the feelings. All matters of truth are related to the life of thought.
Naturally, these things are always meant to be taken in a restricted sense. One thing plays over into the other. So is it always with the significant truths. A person develops here on the physical plane by participating in the moral life, in the aesthetic life, and in the life that is concerned with truth. But only the most crass materialist could believe that the ideas of morality, of aesthetic worth, and of truth refer to a concrete physical thing. Even for the man living here in the physical world, these three things point to the supersensible.
Now, in this respect, it is instructive to become acquainted with the spiritual-scientific results that come to light when one addresses the questions: What is the origin of the truth for which man strives? What is the origin of that for which he strives in his artistic, aesthetic enjoyment or in his creative artistic and aesthetic efforts? And what is the source of the morality for which he strives? For you see, in the physical world everything to do with truth is related to the forces that are developed by means of the physical head. Indeed, it is related in such a way that matters of truth depend on the interaction between the physical head and the external, earthly world — extended, obviously, to include the cosmos, but the earthly, external world all the same. Thus, one can say: Matters of truth involve a relationship between our head and the outer world.
What do we observe when we turn to matters of beauty, to the aesthetic? All these things rest on interactions and relationships. If truth is based on the relationship of the head to the external world, then what relationship provides the basis for aesthetic experience, for artistic experience? In the one case, our experience depends on the relation between the head and the rest of the body. It is very important to be entirely clear about this. Consider how here, in this world, a total, unqualified, absolutely awake consciousness is necessary for grasping the truth. Anyone who without further ado accepts a dream as truth — truth in the same sense that we acknowledge it on the physical plane — is ill, is he not? Thus, in matters of thoroughgoing waking consciousness, our head is the organ that comes into consideration. And the consciousness of truth that we develop here on earth, or need to develop, is based primarily on the interaction between our head and the outer world. Of course this includes the spiritual parts of the external world in so far as we can come into contact with them, but they, also, belong to the world that surrounds us. With aesthetic experience, what comes into consideration is what lives in the head and in the rest of the organism, for aesthetic experience arises either when the head dreams about what is going on in the rest of the organism, or when the rest of the organism dreams about what is going on in the head. These are interactions that involve more than can be contained in our normal life of ideas. The roots of these experiences reach beneath the conscious levels and they depend on the inward, more unconscious way our body and head interact when we enjoy something beautiful. The same elements that we are otherwise aware of in dreams surge back and forth, back and forth. This is the primary thing with aesthetic enjoyment: either the head is dreaming about the contents of the rest of the body, or the rest of the body is dreaming about the contents of the head. And then, afterwards, we bring this back from our inner world into waking consciousness. The waking consciousness comes second. The occult basis of all aesthetic and artistic enjoyment is this surging and weaving back and forth between the head and the rest of the organism. In the case of lesser aesthetic pleasures, the head is dreaming of the body; with the higher and highest aesthetic pleasures, the body is dreaming about the head.
What I have just been explaining to you is the source of much of what I would like to call — if you will forgive the barbaric expression — the extensive spread of Botocudianism (see Note 8), of the Botocudian attitude people have regarding aesthetic matters. Everyone strives for truth, do they not, and also to do the good and follow the dictates of conscience, but when it comes to the aesthetic sphere we find botocudian attitudes in many circles. The feeling for beauty is not regarded as being necessary for a human being here in the physical world in the same way that truth and goodness are regarded as necessary. A person who does not strive for truth displays a human defect; a person who opposes the good also displays a human defect; but a person who is unable to understand the Sistine Madonna would not be seen as humanly defective because of this — and you will have to agree that there are many people who are unable to approach the artistic side of such a work of art. This is because the aesthetic sphere is something very inward, it involves something that must be done within oneself; it involves an interaction between our two parts, the head and the rest of the body, and in this we are answerable to no one but ourselves. A person without regard for the truth is harmful to others; a person who has no regard for the good is harmful to others, as well as to the spiritual world, as we know. But a person who is a Botocudian in his attitude to the sense of beauty deprives himself without harming the rest of mankind — except for those few who find it distinctly not beautiful for there to be so few who can respond openly to beauty.
Actually, our materialistic age has a false conception of the good, for it is assumed that the good approaches us in the same way as truth approaches us. But that is utter nonsense. The good signifies an interaction between the human body and the outer world, but in this case the body includes the head.
So these things are naturally interwoven! When we speak of the striving for truth, we are talking about the head in relation to the external world. When we speak of the striving for beauty, we are talking about the head in relation to the body. And when we speak of morality, we are talking about the relation of the body to the rest of the world. But in this case we are including the head as part of the body, so that we are talking about the relation of the entire human being to an external world — and, indeed, in this case a purely spiritual outer world. Morality is concerned with the relation of the entire human being to the external world — not, however, to the physical external world, but rather to the spiritual forces and powers that surround us.
My dear friends, you know that when I speak of materialistic science I am speaking of something that has its rightful place, not of something that has no justification for existing. I have given many lectures here about the rightful place of materialism in the external sciences provided it remains within its own borders. But for a long time it has been impossible for scientific materialism to speak correctly about the relation of morality to humanity. It has not been possible for the simple reason that our materialistic science has long been suffering — and still suffers — from a fundamental disease, and it will not be able to speak until the illness has been removed. I have mentioned this fundamental illness frequently, but when one speaks of it our scientifically minded people regard one as a thoroughgoing dilettante.
You will be aware of the fact that present-day science talks about two kinds of nerves: the so-called sensory nerves that serve feeling and perception, and the nerves connected with the motor system which are supposed to serve human will impulses and acts of will. The sensory nerves are said to connect the periphery with the inner parts, the motor nerves to connect the inner parts with the periphery. A nerve that issues from the brain and mediates the lifting of my hand is called a motor nerve; whereas it is a sensory nerve that is supposed to be involved when I touch something and feel that it is warm or smooth. Thus, the anatomy and physiology of today assumes there are two kinds of nerves. This is utter nonsense. But it will be a long time before it is recognized as nonsense. Even though it is known that there is no anatomical difference between the motor and the sensory nerves, it will be a long time before people admit that there is only one kind of nerve and that the motor nerves are not different from the sensory nerves. Actually, arousal of the will does not depend on these motor nerves, which serve rather for perception of the processes brought about by the will. For in order to be fully conscious when I lift my hand, I must be able to perceive the movement of my hand. The only thing this involves is an inner sensory nerve which perceives the movements of the hand. I am of course very well aware of all the objections that one can raise against this, based on diseases of the spinal cord, and so on; but when these cases are properly understood they do not furnish contrary evidence, but rather are proof for what I am saying.
Therefore there is only one kind of nerve, not the two kinds that haunt today's materialistic science. The so-called motor nerves are only there to serve our perception of movement. They also serve perception. They are internally situated nerves of perception which reach toward the periphery of the body for the purpose of perception. But, as I said, this will only gradually come to be recognized, and only when it has been recognized will it be possible to have some understanding for the connection between morality and the will, or for the direct connection between morality and the entire human being. For morality really works directly on what we call the I . Working down from there, it affects the astral body, the etheric body and, finally, the physical body. Therefore if a moral act is committed, the moral impulse radiates, so to speak, from the I into the astral body, then into the etheric body, and then into the physical body. Now it becomes movement, becomes something that happens outwardly; and it is only at this stage that it can be perceived by means of the so-called motor nerves.
Morality is truly something that works into humanity directly from the spiritual world. It comes more directly out of the spiritual world than, for example, beauty and truth. In the case of truth, truths have to be approached in a sphere where physical truths, as well as the pure spiritual truths, have a say. In order to enter us, spiritual truths have to make the same detour through the head that is necessary for ordinary physical perceptions mediated by the senses. Moral impulses involve the entire human being, even when we take hold of them in a purely spiritual fashion as moral ideas. That is the fact to keep sight of: they affect the entire human being.
In order to understand this matter more fully we must look further into the way the difference between the head and the rest of the body is revealed. As regards our uppermost part, the head, the things that most come into consideration are the parts we refer to as the physical body and the etheric body. These are revealed distinctly, here in the physical plane, by the head. When I have a physical head before me I must say to myself: ‘Yes, here I have something expressed like in a drawing. There is a physical shape, the physical body, and the etheric body. But there is already less of the astral body present. And as for the I, it is almost entirely absent; it cannot come very strongly at all into the formative forces of the head. Its presence there is almost entirely restricted to the soul level.’ Thus, the presence of the I in the head is very much on the soul level; although it saturates the head with its soul forces, it remains fairly independent of it. This is not the case with the rest of the body. There — paradoxical and strange though it may seem — there the physical body and etheric body are much less physically, bodily present. There the astral body and I are more strongly active. The I is active in the circulation of the blood. Everything else that lives in the body is a strong expression of the astral. On the other hand, the parts of the physical body that are actually physical cannot even be directly observed. (I refer to as physical those parts that are governed by physical forces, those subject to physical forces.)
Naturally, it is terribly easy to deceive oneself in this regard. Anyone who accepts materialistic criteria will say that breathing is a physical process in the human being: a person takes in air and then, as a consequence of the breath, certain processes occur in the blood, and so on, all of this being physical processes. Of course these all are physical processes, but the forces on which the chemical processes of the blood are based come from the I. It is precisely in the human body that what is really physical is less involved. For example, physical forces are expressed in the human body when a child begins to crawl and then to assume an upright position. That is a kind of victory over gravity. These extraordinary relationships with balance and with the effects of weight are always present, but they are not physically visible. They are what spiritual science refers to as the physical body: they are physical forces, to be sure, but they are, essentially, forces that cannot be observed. It is like having a balance on a stand; in the middle is the hypomochlion; forces are acting on one side because of the weight that is there; other forces are working on the other side where another weight is hanging. The strings by which the weights are attached are not identical with the forces at work there; even though the forces are physical, they are invisible. This is the sense in which parts of the human body can be called physical — for the most part, they are to be thought of as forces.
When we come to the etheric sphere, there is still a considerable amount that remains unobservable. There are physical processes that are brought into play by sense perceptions, as when perception of taste affects the taste-nerves. All of these, however, are basically very subtle processes.
Then we come to what happens in the muscles, and so on. Although the muscles provide us with a likeness, a picture that we can physically perceive, this picture depends on astral forces. The processes that occur in the nerves also depend on the astral.
And then we come to the circulation of the blood, to the forces of the I . The forces of the I and the astral body are at work in everything associated with the processes of inheritance through the succession of the generations. But astral body and I do not work in the same way in the human head, especially not the I. You could say that the I is very active in man's head when he is awake, but it never brings about any inner processes there in the way it does in the rest of the body, in the blood. The blood that goes to the head is dependent on the rest of the body — that is the kind of thing I meant when I said that one cannot separate things absolutely. One thing plays over into the other. Although blood flows to the head, the actual impulse of the blood does not originate in the head; the blood is pressed into the head. To the extent that this is a bodily process it originates in the I.
Thus one really can say that when we look at a person's head the most prominent and most important things to be seen are those that have been pressed outward into the physical and etheric bodies. If we look at the rest of the body, the most important things are the impulses and forces that are at work in it. These originate in the I and the astral body. Therefore when you contrast the head, on the one hand, with the rest of the body on the other, it is the physical and etheric bodies that are relatively prominent in the head, whereas the astral body and the I that flow through it remain relatively independent. With the rest of the body it is the I and the astral body that are directly at work in the physical processes, whereas the remaining members are only present as the basis of an invisible framework — a physical and etheric framework that is not normally even considered. The place where the I is really present is in the circulation of the blood.
And now what about the part we could call the moral-etheric aura? First of all, this part works on the entire human being. But it works on the I and the I works on the bodily part of man — for example in the blood. As we saw, the most important thing in the blood is the I. Morality affects the blood. You should not concentrate too much on the physical aspects of the blood; the physical blood is only there to occupy, so to speak, a position in space where the forces of the I can work. Instead, consider the blood in the light of what I have described. Morality, therefore, affects the I. In the blood, the forces of the I encounter the forces of morality. This is true for the man who stands here in the physical world: there is a spiritual encounter between what pulses in his blood and the moral forces that radiate into it. In the course of this encounter, the really moral impulses drive out what otherwise would emanate from the blood. Picture this as the bloodstream: the I flows in it and morality is at work there, too.
Morality, then, has to counter the initial stream of the I. Therefore it must be a counter-force to this flowing force of the I. And so it is. When someone has the impulse to take a strong moral stand, this moral impulse has a direct effect on his blood. This effect even precedes the perception, mediated by the head, of the moral event and the moral process. This is what led Aristotle to make a wonderful observation. (Aristotle always took note of these things, both the physical and the moral, with an exacting eye.) He said that morality depends on a skill and that actual moral practice is the child of something further — it is the child of intellectual judgment.
To put it radically, the head is a spectator. And so, as we move about here on the physical plane, the forces of the I that are the basis of the circulation of the blood interact with moral impulses pressing in upon us from out of the spiritual world. Essentially, this interaction is based on the fact that we occupy our entire body with our waking consciousness. The I really does have to be present as conscious ego in the pulsing of the blood. Perhaps you are wanting to say — I will slip this in parenthetically — Yes, but the I and the astral body are outside of the physical body and etheric body when one is sleeping. How can the I and the astral body be the prime active forces here, since the shapes and movements still persist during sleep, during the time the astral body and I are absent? — To be sure, the essential parts are outside the body, but, as I have often emphasized, this withdrawal from the body only applies essentially to one part of it, the head. I have said explicitly that the interaction of the I and astral body with the rest of the organism is all the more intensive when these are not at work in the head. That has often been said here. The I and the astral body are not separated from the rest of the organism in the same way as they are from the head.
But it is through the head that morality pours in when it encounters the ego forces in the blood. That is why I said earlier that the head must be included here as part of the entire body. For moral impulses cannot pour into the body directly, but have to enter by way of the head. This implies that the person must be awake. If a man is asleep and his I and his astral body have withdrawn from his head, morality would have to pour into the head and body by way of the physical and etheric, rather than spiritually. But this is not possible, for these have nothing to do with morality.
Now, if you will be entirely honest with yourself, there is a simple thing that will convince you of the truth of what I am saying. Just ask yourself how moral you are in your sleep or in your dreams — assuming that morality is not just a reminiscence of physical life! Now and then morality and everything to do with morals has rather a bad time in the world of dreams, does it not? Things can be quite amoral there; the criteria of morality are no more applicable there than they are in the world of plants. As such, moral impulses can be applied only to waking life. So you can see that morality involves a direct influence of our spiritual environment on the forces within us radiating from the I.
Now let us turn to beauty and to the things that have aesthetic effect. We already know that this depends on an interaction between the head and the rest of the body. The head dreams about the rest of the body, the rest of the body dreams about the head. If one investigates what lies behind this, one discovers that everything aesthetic originates in certain impulses that come from the spiritual world and stimulate that interaction. Those representatives of Botocudianism to whom I earlier referred are less susceptible to these impulses; they do not allow themselves to be inwardly moved by the impulses that summon up such interactions. These impulses, however, do not affect the I. They work directly on the astral body, as distinguished from moral impulses, which work directly on the I. And that lack of consciousness associated with morality, that half-unconscious quality of conscience, is a result of the way morality must pass through the head — to which the I is not so intimately bound — and thence into the more subconscious realm of the body, seizing the whole person. The aesthetic sphere works directly on the astral body. There it brings about that extraordinary interplay between the part of the astral body that is intensively connected with wakefulness, whether it be wakefulness of the nerves or wakefulness in the muscles of the body, and the part of the astral body that is connected with the head and has less to do with wakefulness in the nerves or muscles of the body. For the head and the rest of the body are related in different ways to the astral body. This is why there are two kinds of human astrality: the more or less free astrality associated with the head, and the astrality that is bound to the physical processes in the rest of the body. The aesthetic impulse causes the free and the bound parts of the astral to interact and play into one another. They weave and surge, back and forth, through one another.
And when we enter the realm of truth, we find that truth, also, is something supersensible. But it affects the head directly. Truth as such is directly connected with the activities and processes of the head. But the most curious thing about truth is that a human being grasps it in such a way — and truth affects him in such a way — that it flows directly into the etheric body. You may infer this from our numerous discussions of the past. In so far as truth lives in human thoughts, it lives in the etheric body. As I have often said, truth lives with thoughts in the etheric body. Truth enters the etheric part of the head directly. From there, naturally, it is passed on, as truth, to the physical part of the head.
This, you see, is the human being as he is when he is possessed by truth, beauty, and goodness — by knowledge, by the aesthetic, by morality. When a person is in the grip of knowledge, or perception, or truth, the external world flows directly into his etheric body from outside — flowing through the I and the astral body in so far as the head is involved in the process. And because a person is not able to submerge himself consciously in his etheric body, the truth appears to him as a thing that is already complete in itself. One of the overwhelming and surprising experiences of initiation comes when one begins to experience truth as a free impulse that resides in the etheric body, in the same way as one experiences morality or beauty in the astral body. This is overwhelming and surprising because the one who goes through an initiation enters into a much freer relationship to truth and, as a consequence, into a much more responsible relationship with truth. As long as we remain unaware of truth as it enters us, it appears as something already completed. Then we simply say, applying the normal logic: this is true, that is false. As long as this remains the case, one has much less of a sense of responsibility toward the truth than one has after discovering that the truth is just as dependent on deeply rooted feelings of sympathy and antipathy as are morality and beauty. Then one begins to relate to truth in freedom.
At this point we touch on yet another mystery, an important mystery of the subjective life. It manifests itself in the fact that the feeling for truth of some who approach initiation in an improper, unworthy way does not increase. They do not develop a greater sense of responsibility toward the truth. Instead, they cease to feel responsible about violating the truth and come under the influence of a certain element of untruth. Oh, herein lies much of significance regarding mankind's evolution toward spiritual truth, which in its purest form is wisdom. To the extent that it flows into the I and the astral body, truth directly enters the etheric, the human etheric. Beauty affects the human astral body; morality penetrates to the I — it is admitted into the ego. Thus, when truth pours into us from out of the cosmos it still remains for it to work on into the physical body. It must still imprint itself on the physical body — in other words, on the physical brain. There in the physical realm it becomes perception. When beauty streams into our astral body from out of the cosmos, it still has to work its way into the etheric body and thence into the physical body. The good works into the I, and must imprint itself so strongly on the I that its vibrations are able to penetrate the astral body, the etheric body, and, finally, the physical body. Only there, in the physical body, can it finally become effective.
Thus is mankind related to the true, the good, and the beautiful.
In truth, man opens his etheric body directly to the cosmos — initially, it is the etheric part of the head. In beauty, he opens his astral body directly to the cosmos. In the sphere of morality, he opens his I directly to the cosmos. Of these, truth is the one that has been in preparation for mankind for the longest time. We will speak further about these things tomorrow and see how they are related to the laws that govern life between death and a new birth, as well as life between birth and death. Relatively speaking, beauty has been in preparation for a shorter time. Morality is something that is only now in its first earthly stages. What lives in the truth and, in its purified state, becomes wisdom, underwent its first stages during the Sun stage of human evolution. It achieved its highest point during the Moon stage, lives further during the Earth stage, and will essentially have reached completion by the period that we call the Jupiter stage of evolution. By then, mankind will have more or less completed the aspects of its development that have to do with the contents of wisdom. Beauty — which is a very inward thing for man — had its first beginnings during the Moon evolution. It continues to develop now, during Earth evolution, and it will reach its final completion during Venus — during what we call the Venus stage of evolution. In all these cases where we have had recourse to the occult in assigning names to things, there are good reasons for choosing the names. It is not for nothing that I call one stage of development ‘the Venus stage’: it is so named to correspond with what will then be the dominant process.
During the Moon stage of development there was nothing that could be called morality. At that time the bonds of necessity, of what was virtually a natural necessity, connected human beings to their acts. Morality could only begin on Earth. It will reach its culmination during the Vulcan stage, when the purified I — the I that has been purified by morality and entirely moulded by it — will be the only thing that pulsates in the fiery processes of the blood. Then the forces of the human ego and the forces of morality will have become one and the same thing. Then the blood of mankind — in other words, the warmth of the blood, for matter is just an external sign of this warmth — will have become the holy fire of Vulcan.
Tomorrow we will speak further about these things.