Wonders of the World, Ordeals of the Soul, Revelations of the Spirit. Lecture 4 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Munich, August 21, 1911:
Now, it will certainly occur to you to ask: ‘What about the fourth member of our human being?’ For in our time we have of course to regard the whole man as consisting of physical, etheric, astral, and also of the ego or the ego-bearer. Now it is obvious that because this ego is in such a peculiar position in relation to the other members of the human being, the forces of the universe corresponding to the ego must also be in a peculiar position. One can say of the forces of the physical body that transplanted into the world of space they are governed by the central power of Pluto; similarly the forces of the ether body come into the sphere of Poseidon; and the forces of the astral body into the sphere of Zeus. But when we consider the ego itself, we find that it is closely bound up with all that is happening around us. Indeed with our egos we are right inside the world. Upon what goes on in the world around us our whole destiny, our happiness or unhappiness, depends. Very little reflection upon the matter leads us to feel that the forces of our ego must be very different from the forces of Pluto around us in space. Just as the destiny of the ego is closely connected with the environment, so too we must think of the forces of this ego as also connected with the divine-spiritual forces outside in space which are their counterpart, just as the other divine-spiritual forces correspond to soul-forces within us. Think how closely the experiences of our ego are bound up with our environment! How different our ego feels if we raise our eyes and allow it to plunge into the star-strewn heavens, or to gaze, at dawn or dusk, upon the rising or the setting Sun! How little can we detach our egos from all this! How intimately we are bound up with the macrocosm out there! With our egos we are as if emptied out into our environment. What radiates into us from without, the golden rays of the Sun, the majestic world of the stars, at one moment is something objective outside in the macrocosm, at another, an idea within the human soul, within the microcosm; in actual life we can scarcely distinguish between the two, they merge into one another. From the way the Greek had of experiencing the world and its wonders directly, we may expect him to think of the divinity who represented to him the ego-forces holding sway outside in space as far more closely related, far more closely bound up with the human being than the other gods — whom he really thought of as quite remote from human nature. Hence we find, as the representative of the ego-forces in the world outside, a divine figure with a certain affinity with human nature, so to say, one whose destiny, whose whole life, seems in a way quite human. That god is Dionysos. Just as we have to look upon Pluto as representing the forces of the physical body, Poseidon as representing the forces of the ether body, and Zeus as representing the forces of the astral body, transplanted into the universe, so we have to regard Dionysos as the macrocosmic representative of the soul-forces which live in our ego. The way in which the Greeks looked upon Dionysos, that figure which stands before our ego at last in such a remarkable way in the Mystery of Eleusis, will only become fully clear to us if first we learn a little about the way spiritual powers and spiritual beings in general work into our earthly existence, into the wonders which constitute our own human existence.