Saturday, November 9, 2013

Our relationship to the inner being of Nature



Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centers. Lecture 3 of 14.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, November 25, 1923:
In the last lecture I spoke to you of the way in which man is subject during his life to that which, from the natural-scientific point of view, we are accustomed to call heredity. I spoke further of how man is subject to the influences of the outer world, to adaptation to environment; how everything which is bound up with heredity is connected with the Ahrimanic sphere, while that which, in the widest sense, is comprised in adaptation to the external world is connected with the Luciferic realm. I told you also how in the cosmos, i.e., within the spiritual substance which lies at the foundation of the cosmos, care has been taken that the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences should play their part in the right way in human life. We shall add certain things today to what has been said, keeping in mind at the same time what was explained in the first of these lectures.
We have seen how memory, everything in the nature of memory, fashions man within as regards the soul. In reality, far more than we think, we are fashioned as soul-beings by our memories. The way in which our experiences have become memories has really fashioned our souls; we are a result of our memory-life more than we think, and he who can exercise even a little self-observation, so far as to enter into the life of memory, will see what a great part the impressions of childhood play throughout the entire earthly life. The manner in which our childhood was spent, which indeed plays no great part in conscious life — the time, for instance, during which we learned to speak and walk, during which we received our first, the inherited teeth, the impressions received during all these periods of development — play a great part in the human soul-life throughout the entire life on Earth. Many things which rise up inwardly as thoughts which are connected with memories — and everything we grasp in thought that is not caused by external impressions — is connected with memories; everything which arises in this way making us inwardly joyful or causing us inner pain (these are generally delicate shades of pleasure and pain which accompany our thoughts when they arise freely), all the life of memory within us, is carried out by our astral body when we pass over into the condition of sleep. If now with Imaginative vision we can behold man in sleep as a psychic-spiritual being, the matter presents itself in the following way. Picture to yourselves during sleep the etheric and physical bodies remaining within the human skin while the astral body is outside (the ego we will consider later). We can then observe the astral body, really consisting in memories. We can also see how these memories, which live in the astral body outside of man, whirl around in and out of each other. Experiences which lie far asunder in time and in regard to space also are brought together, while some things are left out of certain experiences altogether. In this way the whole memory-life is transformed during sleep. If man dreams it is just because this transformed life of memory appears before his consciousness, and in the constitution of the dream he can inwardly perceive that whirling in and out, inwardly perceive that which, observed from outside, can be seen by Imaginative clairvoyance.
But something else presents itself: that which from falling asleep until waking up figures in this way as memories, that which forms the chief content of the human astral soul-life, unites during sleep with the forces which lie behind the phenomena of nature. We can therefore say: All that lives as astral body in these memories forms a union with the forces that lie behind the minerals, actually in the inner being of the minerals, in the inner being of the plant forces, and the forces which lie behind the clouds, and so on.
To one who can perceive this truth it is really terrible, I must say, when people say that behind the phenomena of nature there are only material atoms. Not with material atoms do our memories unite during sleep, but with that which really lies behind the phenomena of nature, with the spiritually active forces. It is with these that our memories unite during sleep. Our memories rest in them during sleep.
Thus we can really say: During sleep our soul with its memories dives down into the inner being of nature, and you are saying nothing untrue, nothing unreal, if you utter the following: “When I fall asleep I consign my memories to the powers which rule spiritually in the crystal, in plants, in all the phenomena of nature.” You may go for a walk and see by the wayside yellow flowers, blue flowers, green grass, and shining promising ears of corn and you can say: “When I pass you by in the daytime I see you from outside, but when I sleep I sink my memories into your spiritual being. You take up what I have transformed during life from experiences into memories. You take up these memories of mine when I go to sleep.” It is perhaps the most beautiful of all feeling for nature to have with the rose-bush not only an external relationship but to be able also to say: “I love the rose-bush especially because the rose-bush has this peculiarity (bear in mind that space plays no part in these things; no matter how far the rose may be removed from us in space we find our way to it in sleep) — the rose-bush has this peculiarity, that it receives the earliest memories of our childhood.” That is the reason why people love roses so much, only they are not aware of it; but they love roses because they are the recipients of the very first memories of childhood.
When we were children other people loved us and often made us smile. We have forgotten it but it forms part of our life of feeling; and the rose-bush absorbs into its own being while we are asleep at night the memories which we have ourselves forgotten. Man is far more united than he realizes with the outer world of nature, that is, with the spirit which rules in the external world. These memories of the first years of childhood are especially remarkable with reference to human sleep, because in reality, during those years and during the years extending to the change of teeth — that means to about the seventh year of life — the soul-element alone is taken up during sleep. As regards human beings it is the case that the spiritual inner part of nature takes into itself of our childhood only the soul part. Other things also of course hold good. The soul-element which we develop during our early childhood (for instance if we were childishly cruel) remains also in us but this is taken up by the thistle. This is said by way of comparison, but nevertheless it actually points to a significant reality. That which is not taken up from the child into the inner part of nature will be immediately evident from what follows.
In the first seven years of life everything has been inherited that is of a bodily nature. The first teeth are entirely inherited; everything of a material nature which we have within us in the first seven years of life is essentially inherited. But after about seven years all the material substance is thrown off; it falls away and is formed anew. Man remains as a form, as a spiritual form; his material part he gradually throws off. After seven or eight years everything that was in his body seven or eight years before has gone. It is a fact that when we have reached the age of nine years our whole human being has been renewed. We then build it in accordance with our external impressions.
As a matter of fact it is extremely important, especially for the child in the first periods of life, that it should be in a position to build its new body — now no longer the inherited body but a body developed out of its inner being — according to good impressions from its environment, and in a healthy adaptation to its environment. Whereas the body which a child has when it comes into the world depends on whether the inherited impulses it has received are good or bad, the later body which it bears from the seventh to fourteenth year depends very much on the impressions it receives from its environment.
Every seven years we build our body anew, but it is our ego that builds it anew. Although the ego is not yet born as regards the outer world in a child of seven years (as you know it is only born later), yet it is working already, for naturally it is bound up with the body, and it is the ego which is building therein. It develops those things of which we have already spoken: it builds up that which appears as the physiognomy, the gestures, the external material revelation of the soul and spirit in man. It is a fact that a human being who has an active interest in the world, who is interested in many things, and because of his active interest in them ponders over them and inwardly digests them, reveals in a material way in the external expression of his countenance and in his gestures what he has been interested in and absorbed. On the face of the human being who has an intensely active interest in the outer world, who inwardly works upon the fruits of this interest in external things, one will see in each wrinkle later in life how he formed these himself, and one will be able to read much in his countenance, for the ego is expressed in the gestures and in the physiognomy. A man who goes through the world bored or without interest in the outer world remains throughout his whole life with an unchanged countenance; finer experiences are not imprinted in the physiognomy and gestures. In many a face we may read a whole biography; in many others we cannot read much more than the fact that he was once a child — which is nothing very special.
The fact that man in this way through the changing of his substance every seven or eight years shapes his own outer appearance signifies a great deal. This work of man on his own external appearance, in physiognomy and gesture, is also something which he carries in sleep into the inner being of nature. If one then looks at a man with imaginative clairvoyance and observes the ego outside him as it is during sleep, one sees that it really consists in physiognomy and gesture. With those human beings who express much of their inner being in their countenance we find a radiating and shining ego. Now this resulting gesture and physiognomy unites itself also with forces in the inner being of nature. If we have been friendly and kind, nature is inclined, as soon as this kindliness has become a facial expression, shown in the countenance, to take this up during our sleep into its own being. Nature takes up our memories into her forces and our gesture-formation into her very essence, into the nature-beings.
Man is so intimately connected with external nature that what he experiences in his inner being as memories is of enormous significance to external nature, as is also the way in which he expresses his inner soul-life in his physiognomy and gestures, for that lives on further in the inner being of nature.
I have often mentioned a saying of Goethe, which was really a criticism of a remark by Haller. Haller said: “Into the inner being of nature no created spirit can enter. Fortunate is the man to whom she reveals even her external husk.” To this, Goethe replied: “You pedant! We are everywhere in the inner being of nature. Nothing is within her, nothing is outside her; that which is within is without, and that which is without is within. Only ask yourself which you are, whether the kernel or the husk.” Goethe says that he heard this remark in the sixties and secretly cursed it; for he felt (naturally he did not then know Spiritual Science) that when one whom he could only regard as a pedant said: “Into the inner being of nature no created spirit can enter,” he knows nothing of the fact that man, simply because he is a being of memories and a being of physiognomy and gesture is continually entering into the inner being of nature. We are not beings who only stand at the door of nature and knock in vain. Just through that which is our innermost being do we stand in most intimate communion with the inner being of nature.
Because the young child, up to his seventh year, has a body which is entirely inherited, nothing of his ego, of his physiognomy and gesture, pass over into the inner being of nature. Only at the change of teeth do we begin to develop our real being. Therefore only after the change of teeth do we gradually become ripe to think about nature. Before that time more important thoughts arise in the child, thoughts which have not much to do with nature, and are so full of charm just for that reason.
The best way to approach a child is to make poetry in its presence, to represent the stars as the eyes of heaven, for example, when things we speak of to the child are as far as possible from external physical reality.
Only from the change of teeth onwards does the child grow in such a way that his thoughts can coincide with the thoughts of nature; fundamentally the whole life from the age of seven to fourteen is such that the child grows in an inward direction, and he then carries his memories outside his soul into nature, as also his gestures and physiognomy, and this then continues throughout his whole life. As regards any relationship with the inner being of nature we, as single human individuals, are only born at the change of teeth. For this reason those beings whom I have designated as elementary spirits, the gnomes and undines, listen so eagerly when man relates something of his child life up to the seventh year, because as far as these spirits of nature are concerned man is only born at the change of teeth. The change of teeth to them is an extremely interesting phenomenon. Previous to this age man is to the gnomes and undines a being “on the other side,” and it is for them something of an enigma that man appears at this age having already reached a certain perfection! It would be extraordinarily inspiring for pedagogical or educational phantasy if a man, having imbibed spiritual knowledge, could really transpose himself into these dialogues with the nature-spirits, and enter into the soul of the spirits of nature in order to obtain their views concerning what he is able to tell them about children; for in this very way the most beautiful fairy-tales arise. When, in ancient times fairy-tales were so wonderfully apt and rich in content, this is because the poets who composed them could converse with gnomes and undines, could tell them something and not merely hear something from them.
These nature-spirits are often very egoistic; they become silent also if one does not tell them something of that concerning which they are curious. Their favorite stories are about the deeds of babies. In return, one may hear many things from them which can then be woven into the form of fairy-tales.
Thus for the practical spiritual life, that which today appears highly fantastic to us may become extremely important. It is the case that these dialogues with the spirits of nature, on account of the conditions I have mentioned, may be extremely instructive to both sides.
On the other hand, what I have said may in a sense naturally cause anxiety, because while he is asleep man continually creates pictures of his innermost being. Behind the phenomena of nature, behind the flowers of the field, and extending right up into the etheric world there exist reproductions of our memories, both good and useless memories; for the Earth is simply teeming with what lives in human souls, and in reality human life is very intimately connected with such things.
We find therefore first of all the spirits of nature, those beings into whom we penetrate with our world of gesture; but we also find the world of the Angels, Archangels, and Archai, and grow also into these beings. We enter into them. We plunge into the deeds of the Angels through our memories. We enter into the living beings of the angelic world through what we have imprinted in ourselves as physiognomy and gesture. This penetration which takes place in sleep is such that we can say: When we pass over livingly into nature the process is that the further we go out in a direct line the more do we come into the regions of the Angels and Archangels and the Archai. We come into the sphere of the third Hierarchy. And when in sleep we dive down with our memories and our gestures as into a flowing sea of weaving beings of Angels, Archangels, and Archai, then from one side there comes another stream of spiritual beings: the second Hierarchy: Exusiai, Kyriotetes, Dynamis. If we wish to express in the outer world that which we have just described, we must say: This stream flows in such a way that the course of the Sun by day from east to west marks the way the second Hierarchy crosses the third Hierarchy. The third Hierarchy — the Angels, Archangels, and Archai — are as if floating up and down “offering one another the golden buckets.” In this presentation we have the second Hierarchy going with the Sun, as it were, from east to west. This is not apparent, because here the Copernican world-conception does not hold good, but this stream actually does go from east to west, following the course of the Sun during the day.
Thus we see — i.e., if we have the ability to see — how man during sleep grows into the third Hierarchy; but this third Hierarchy is continually being graciously permeated from one side by the second Hierarchy. Thus this second Hierarchy also makes itself felt in the life of our soul.
I pointed out in the last lecture but one the significance of transposing oneself vividly again into the experiences of one's youth. In this connection you can get a very impressive feeling if you take up the Mystery Plays and there read, perhaps now with greater understanding than was formerly the case, what is represented there in regard to the appearance of the Youth of Johannes. It is indeed the case that man can vivify his own inner nature and make it intensely perceptible to himself if he goes back actively over his youth. I told you how he might take up old school-books from which he might perhaps have learned something (or perhaps not!). He immerses himself in what he learnt, or did not learn. It makes no difference whether one learned anything or not; the point is that one should immerse oneself intensely in what one formerly went through with it. For in this way one may have personal experiences. For instance, it was of immense significance to me personally, a few years ago, to transpose myself into such a situation belonging to my own youth. I then needed to intensify the forces of spiritual understanding. The following events occurred to me quite accidentally when I was just eleven years of age. I was given a school-book. The first thing that happened to it was that I carelessly upset the ink-pot on it and thereby damaged two pages, so that I could no longer read them. That was an event of many years ago, but I have often lived through this event again, this school-book with the damaged pages, with all that I experienced thereby; for this book had to be replaced by a poor family. It was something dreadful, all that one could experience through this school-book, with its gigantic ink smudges. As I said, it is not a question of having behaved well in connection with the circumstance which one recalls; it is rather a question of having experienced them with intensity. If you attempt this with all inner intensity you will also experience something else. You will experience in a true vision a scene which you have inwardly lived through and evoked in the soul. When night has come and everything is dark around you and you are by yourself you will experience the situation as if spread out in space, which you had previously experienced in time. Suppose, for instance, that you evoke before your soul a scene which you once experienced, let us say, at 11 o'clock. Afterwards you went to a place where you sat with and among other human beings. You sat down and other people sat around you. Here you have recalled something which you experienced inwardly. What was then around you externally now meets you entirely as a spatial vision. One only needs to look for such connections and then quite important discoveries can be made. Let us say for instance that when you are seventeen years of age you had your midday meal in a pension where the guests were continually changing. Call up inwardly in your soul one such scene which you experienced. Recall it vividly. Then in the night you find yourself sitting down at the table. Around you people are sitting, people whom you did not often see, because in this pension they continually came and went. In one face you recognize: “That is something I experienced at that time.” External space is added to the soul-experience, when you make your memories active in this way.
This means in reality that you are living with this stream which flows from east to west; because gradually you feel more and more strongly: There in the spiritual world which you enter in sleep your life does not merely consist in being merged with the spiritual, but in this spiritual there transpires something which was reflected externally at the time you sat around the pension table with these human beings. You have forgotten it long ago but it is still there. You behold it as you can behold those things which can often be seen inscribed in the Akashic Record. The moment you have this before you, you have identified yourself with this stream flowing from east to west, the stream of the second Hierarchy. In this stream of the second Hierarchy something lives which is outwardly reflected by day.
Now days vary in the course of the whole year. In spring a day is longer, in autumn shorter; in summer it is longest, in winter shortest. The day is subject to change throughout the year. That is caused by a stream which flows from west to east, counter to the stream from east to west; and that is the stream of the first Hierarchy, of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Thrones. Observe therefore how the day changes in the course of the year. If you pass on from the day to the year then you come in contact with what meets you during sleep as the opposite stream. As a matter of fact it is the case that we go forth in sleep into the spiritual world in a direct line, not in the direction which goes from west to east, nor in the direction which goes from east to west.
If we realize this, then, as I have told you, when we vividly recall some memory we must place spatial winter before our souls.
This is also the case when we become conscious of our will. When we become conscious of our will, that is what enters into our gestures and our physiognomy.
That which I am now saying should have a certain significance especially for eurythmists, although naturally there is not any intention in Eurythmy of bringing to expression what I am now about to say. It is a fact that when a man really fashions his external appearance more and more from out of his inner being, when his ego is expressed more and more in his physiognomy and gestures, he not only receives an impression from the day to pass over from vivid inner experiences of memory to the vision of spatial external things. He experiences over again what he learnt, let us say at the age of seventeen, and sees the people with whom he sat in that pension. He sees them in picture-form, as in the Akashic Record. That is day experience. But one can also experience the year. This is done by paving attention to the way in which the will works in us, and observing that it is relatively easy to bring the will to expression when we are really warm, whereas it is difficult to let the will stream through the body if we are very cold. Anyone who can experience in this way the relation between the will and the fact of being warm or cold will gradually be able to speak of a winter-will and a summer-will.
We find that the best expression of this will comes from the seasons. Let us observe, for example, the will that carries our thoughts out into the cosmos. They escape, as it were, out of the fingertips, and we feel that it is easy to develop the will.
If we stand before a tree, something at the top of the tree may give us particular pleasure; and if the will becomes warm in us our thoughts are carried to the top of the tree. Indeed they often go even to the stars, if in summer nights we feel endowed with this warm will.
On the other hand, if the will has cooled within us it is as though all our thoughts were carried in our heads, as if they could not penetrate into the arms or legs; everything goes into the head. The head carries this coldness of the will, and if the coldness does not become so severe as to produce a frosty feeling, the head becomes warm through its own inner reaction and then develops thoughts.
Thus we can say: summer-will leads us out into the expanses of the universe. Summer-will, warm will, carries our thoughts in all directions. Winter-will carries them into our head. We can thus learn to differentiate our will, and then we shall feel that the will which carries us out everywhere into the cosmos is related to the course of summer, while the will which carries the thoughts into our head we feel to be related to the winter. Through the will we come to experience the year in the same way as we formerly did the day.
There is a possibility of feeling as a reality the words which I am now going to write on the board. If a man experiences winter in his human will he can perceive it in such a way that he says:


O Cosmic Pictures!
Ye float down to me
From cosmic distances,
Ye strive to reach me,
Ye penetrate into
The thinking forces
Of my head.

These words are not a mere abstraction, for if a man feels his own will united with nature, he can at the approach of winter feel as if from out of space his own experiences are borne toward him, experiences which he himself had first given to nature. He can perceive on the waves of these words his own experiences which have already passed over into nature.
That is the feeling of the winter-will; but man can also feel the summer-will which expands our thoughts out into the universe:
Ye creative Soul-forces of my head!
Ye fill out mine own being.
Ye press out of my being
Into universal space,
And unite me
With world-creative powers.


That means, the thoughts which are first experienced in the head pass over into the whole body. They first fill the body and then press out of the body again. These words express the nature of the summer-will, the will in us which is related to the summer. We may also say: “I have called up from my inner being the active memory of something experienced long ago; the day with its night confronts me with it in supplementing it with the external perception of space; and that corresponds to the stream from east to west.” We may also say: “In us winter-will changes into summer-will, and summer-will into winter-will.” We are no longer related to the day with its interchange of light and darkness. We are related to the year through our will, and thereby are identified with the stream flowing from west to east, the stream of the first Hierarchy, the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones.
As we go on we shall see how man is hindered or helped through heredity or external adaptation to environment with reference to this relationship with the inner being of Nature; for what I have explained to you today relates to the way in which man, if he is hindered as little as possible by the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces, can grow in this way with his thought and will into the inner being of nature, and is received by the time-forces, the day-forces, and the year-forces — the third Hierarchy, the second Hierarchy, and the first Hierarchy. But the Ahrimanic forces as they appear in heredity and the Luciferic forces as they appear in adaptation to environment have an essential influence on all this. This great question shall occupy us in the next lecture.

No comments:

Post a Comment