The World of the Senses and the World of the Spirit. Lecture 4 of 6
Rudolf Steiner, December 30, 1911:
And now we shall need still another conception in order to realize the whole. We said: Thoughts live therein, conceptions, feelings, impulses of will. But the impulses of will are, in a certain sense, more fundamentally necessary than the thoughts themselves. For if you consider how this soul-life is at times in quicker motion and at times in slower motion, you will perceive that it is really will itself which brings it into motion. If you stimulate your will you can bring the thoughts and feelings into quicker flow; if the will is indolent then it all moves along more slowly. You need the will in order to expand your life of soul. So we have seriatim, first, Will; then, all that lives in feelings and conceptions, all that is within our soul-life — I say advisedly, our life of soul — and this we can grasp as a manifestation of Wisdom; then we have Movement — expansion and contraction; and then Form, which appears as the expression of movement. You can quite exactly differentiate within your soul-life: will, wisdom, movement, form. These weave and live within the life of soul.
And that is exactly what shows itself to occult knowledge. When certain forms, created under the influence of the Spirits of Form, have developed up to a certain point, then they break to pieces. And if you now fix your mind upon these shattered forms, if you think of something that arises through the breaking up of forms that are still supersensible — then you have the transition from the supersensible to the sensible and spatial. Broken-up form is matter. Matter, as it occurs in the universe, is for the occultist nothing more than form broken, shattered, and split asunder. If you could imagine that this chalk were invisible and yet had this characteristic parallelepiped form, and if you were then to take a hammer and strike the chalk smartly so that it crumbled into a lot of little pieces, then you would have broken up the form. Supposing in the moment in which you broke up the form the invisible were to become visible — then you would have a picture of the origin of matter. Matter is spirit that has developed as far as form and then burst and broken into pieces and fallen together in itself.
My main purpose in all I am telling you today is to show you into what depths of existence we have to descend if we want to investigate these things at their foundation. Consider, for instance, a condition that takes us still further into matter: consider the irregularity brought about where the ego outweighs in its ego-ness the astral body: when you have spirit spraying and dispersing into this condition, the result — but only after long détours — is bony matter.
It all depends ultimately, as you see, on the conditions under which the matter sprays up and scatters when it arises out of spirit. Keep well in mind what I have told you even if you have not been able to follow every thought in detail. You will have grasped the main point, which really comes to this: that we have to look upon matter always and everywhere as spirit that is splitting up and scattering, but that there can also be something already there which opposes the breaking spirit. And according as this or that meets it, the spirit will spray out into something different; and thus arise the various configurations of matter — matter that composes nerves, muscles, plants, etc.
With still more intensity than we did yesterday must we ask the question: What then is man altogether as material man? Man as he meets us externally is simply and solely a result of the Luciferic influence. For unless the Luciferic influence had been there he would have had no nerves, no muscles, no bones in the present-day sense of the words. Materialism describes nothing but what Lucifer has made of man. Materialism is thus in the most eminent degree discipleship of Lucifer; it rejects all else.
And so when you find a drawing of the skeleton in an anatomy book you can think to yourself: It was originally intended to be a pure Imagination and has become so coarsened by the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences that it meets us today as dense, thick, hard bones that can be broken and fractured. So fast and firm have the Imaginations become! And now do you still say that man cannot find in the physical world any reflection of the world of Imagination! Whoever knows what the skeleton really is may find, when he looks at it, a picture of the world of Imagination. And when you see a picture of the man of muscle you really ought to say to yourself: That is an utterly unnatural picture, it is inwardly untrue. In the first place I see it, whereas I ought to hear it spiritually. For the true state of the matter is this: rhythmic movement has been interlarded, by a supersensible process, with muscle substance which does not really belong to it at all; what remains ought not to be seen but heard, like the swaying movement of music. You should really hear Inspirations. And what you see pictured there as the man of muscle — are the Inspirations of Man made rigid in matter.
Matter is thus something with which we are filled but which does not belong to us. We bear it in us, this matter, and because we bear it in us we must die a physical death. There you have, in point of fact, the cause of physical death, and of much besides. For inasmuch as man has left his spiritual condition he lives here in physical existence only until matter gains the victory over what holds it together. For the nature of matter is such that it is perpetually trying to break up and go to pieces, and the matter in the bones is only held together by the power of Imagination. When the power of the bones gains the upper hand then the bones become incapable of life. It is the same with the muscles and the nerves. So soon as the matter in the bones, muscles, and nerves gains the upper hand over Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition and is able to break asunder, in that moment must man lay down his physical body. There you have the connection between physical death and the Luciferic influence. We shall follow it up tomorrow by showing how evil, too, and many other things — illnesses, etc. — have come into the world.