Friday, March 31, 2017

Spiritual Invincibility: What the archangel Michael expects of us

The Goetheanum

On a Columnar Self—
How ample to rely
In Tumult—or Extremity—
How good the Certainty

That Lever cannot pry—
And Wedge cannot divide
Conviction—That Granitic Base—
Though None be on our Side—

Suffice Us—for a Crowd—
Ourself—and Rectitude—
And that Assembly—not far off
From furthest Spirit—God—

— Emily Dickinson

"It would be better for me...that multitudes of men should disagree with me rather than that I, being one, should be out of harmony with myself."  — Socrates, as quoted in "Gorgias" by Plato

The Altar of Humanity
 The Solar Plexus : The Manipura Chakra : The Stronghold of Manu

Rudolf Steiner, from his final lecture given September 28, 1923:

"This ability to rise to the point at which thoughts about spirit can grip us as powerfully as can anything in the physical world, this is Michael power. It is confidence in the ideas of spirit — given the capacity for receiving them at all — leading to the conviction: I have received a spiritual impulse, I give myself up to it, I become the instrument for its execution. First failure — never mind! Second failure — never mind! A hundred failures are of no consequence, for no failure is ever a decisive factor in judging the truth of a spiritual impulse whose effect has been inwardly understood and grasped. We have full confidence in a spiritual impulse, grasped at a certain point of time, only when we can say to ourself: My hundred failures can at most prove that the conditions for realizing the impulse are not given me in this incarnation; but that this impulse is right I can know from its own nature. And if I must wait a hundred incarnations for the power to realize this impulse, nothing but its own nature can convince me of the efficacy or impotence of any spiritual impulse. 

If you will imagine this thought developed in the human heart and soul as great confidence in spirit, if you will consider that man can cling firm as a rock to something he has seen to be spiritually victorious, something he refuses to relinquish in spite of all outer opposition, then you will have a conception of what the Michael power, the Michael being, really demands of us; for only then will you comprehend the nature of the great confidence in spirit. We may leave in abeyance some spiritual impulse or other, even for a whole incarnation; but once we have grasped it we must never waver in cherishing it within us, for only thus can we save it up for subsequent incarnations. And when confidence in spirit will in this way have established a frame of mind to which this spiritual substance appears as real as the ground under our feet — the ground without which we could not stand — then we shall have in our heart and soul a feeling of what Michael really expects of us."

"I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."  — Galatians 2:19-21

Contrasting World-Conceptions of East and West

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, June  17, 1922:

Today I feel called upon to explain to you a few anthroposophical facts closely connected with the human being.
We are, to begin with, connected with the world through our senses; we are connected with it — and this is clearly evident — from the moment of waking up to the moment of falling asleep. We perceive the various spheres of life through our senses, and a certain soul-activity within us constructs a picture of the world from these perceptions. I only allude to this in order to draw attention to the way in which we can study our waking life and all that it concerns.
Yet we do not only live in the world during our waking condition, but also when we are asleep. During our sleep we live outside our body with our ego and our soul in an environment which is, at first, unknown to the ordinary human consciousness.
All that I am telling you now applies to the present-day human being; that is, to man and the way in which he has developed his soul-life from the time which I have often indicated as an extraordinarily significant moment in the evolution of humanity — from the 15th century onwards. Yet we must ask ourselves: How are we connected with a world which is closed to our ordinary consciousness? How are we connected with it when we are asleep? When we ask this question, we immediately encounter an obstacle, particularly in the present moment of human evolution, unless we bear in mind the development of humanity, and the fact that its soul-life has passed through many stages.
If we reflect upon the soul-life of modern man, we find that the human being belonging to our so-called civilized world must make the greatest effort to form his ideas and concepts. Nowadays we frequently look back into earlier epochs of human development without any clear thoughts. At that time there was no educational system of the kind required today, and we look back without really thinking about it into that ancient culture which developed and flourished in the East, when it was not necessary for man to have the education through childhood upwards that he has today.
In Europe it is almost impossible at this time to imagine how differently the men of earlier epochs regarded education in the Orient. In those times, powerful Eastern teachings were created, which uplifted heart and spirit, such as the Vedas and all that is contained in the wisdom of the East. Today all that arises through the spirit is judged in accordance with the way in which we have been educated and taught from childhood upwards, and the way in which we have developed through our education, and what we have learned through our life in the external world. At first, it seems obvious to our ordinary way of thinking that we must be educated, for we must learn to form our thoughts on life. If we were unable to do so, we should be helpless in the present-day world. I might say that at the present time we have not yet progressed very far in the art of forming thoughts. One of the aims of education should be that of more and more perfecting in us by our own effort this art of forming thoughts about the things in the world.
This was prepared for in the Greek epoch. The Grecian life was to a certain extent completely under the influence of the Orient, and consequently the education there aimed only at a very elementary development of the thinking forces. Oriental influences streamed into Greek cultural life, and these did not encourage thought-efforts, they did not induce man to form ideas himself about the objects around him, if I may express this trivially.
In the spiritual life of the West we now admire Socrates, and rightly so, as one of the first who stimulated man to form thoughts about surrounding objects. Yet it would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that there was no thought-life in the Orient, simply because in Europe man had to develop a thought-life through his own effort. The Orientals had a powerful life of thought, which we find all the more powerful the further we go back into the cultural life of the East.
A rich spiritual life existed in the East, even before the time of the Vedas and of the Vedanta philosophy. As I have frequently explained, the Vedas and the Vedanta philosophy are not the first stages of spiritual life of the East, for these first stages were never recorded in writing. During the last two or three thousand years before Christ this powerful Oriental life had already reached a decadent stage. What the Oriental now admires is but the last remnant of this ancient spiritual life.
This life of thought was not like ours, which makes us (please forgive the materialistic expression, which is only used as a comparison) grow hot inwardly and perspire in our efforts to bring it into being. The Oriental life of thought was an inspired one.
For the Oriental, the thoughts ordered themselves, as if of their own accord. He obtained his world-picture in the form of an inspiration. He always had the feeling: “My thoughts are given to me,” and he did not know the inner soul-effort which we must make in order to construct our thoughts. From the moment of waking up to the moment of falling asleep, he felt that his thoughts were gifts bestowed upon him. His whole soul-life had a corresponding nuance. When he nurtured thoughts, he felt grateful to the gods who gave him these thoughts. When he was able to say: “Thoughts live in me, who am a human being,” he felt in these thoughts the instreaming of divine-spiritual powers. Thus it was quite a different way of thinking.
For this reason the Oriental life of thoughts of remoter epochs was not so severed from the life of feeling and from the life of the heart, as it is today for the normal human consciousness. Just because man could feel that thoughts were given to him, he felt uplifted as a human being, and a religious feeling was connected with every one of his thoughts. Man felt that he must meet the divine powers who gave him his thoughts with a kind of religious piety, and he experienced these thoughts more as a united whole than as single thoughts.
But what was the objective external cause of this? It was caused by the fact that in these ancient times man's sleep was different from ours. When we are asleep now, we are forsaken especially in the head by the ego and the soul. The metabolic organs and the extremities do not become separated so completely from the human being. Even when we are asleep, our soul and our ego still penetrate into the extremities of the body and into its metabolic organs. We should not think that during sleep the ego and the soul forsake our whole being, but instead we should picture to ourselves that the head is the most forsaken part.
I have often explained this, and now I would like to put it before you schematically. In the waking human being, the ego and the soul permeate the physical and the etheric body. Now, it would be wrong to draw the sleeping man so as to indicate here the physical and etheric bodies lying on the bed, and the ego and the astral body just there, beside them. Instead, they should be so drawn that if the physical organs and the extremities, including the arms, which are also extremities, are indicated here, then the ego and the soul which are outside the human being would have to be drawn outside it only in the vicinity of the head. Strictly speaking, when we are asleep, the ego and the soul are outside the physical and the etheric body only as far as the head is concerned.
If we now return to those remoter times to which I have alluded, we find that when the human being was asleep, the organs of the head — that is, principally the nervous-sensory system and a part of the respiration which permeates the head — were the field of action used by the divine-spiritual beings connected with the Earth.
If we refer quite seriously to realities, it can indeed be said, without speaking metaphorically, that in the most remote epochs of human evolution the divine-spiritual beings on Earth withdrew from the human being when he was awake. But when he was asleep they took up their abode in his head. The human ego and the human soul abandoned the head: and there, the divine-spiritual beings directed their activities. When the human being woke up in the morning, he once more dived into his head, and there he found the results of all that had taken place under the influence of the deeds of the divine-spiritual beings.
These beings ordered man's nervous processes in accordance with their laws, and they exercised an influence even upon the circulation of the blood and penetrated into the organic processes in the etheric body and in the physical body. Yet this was not clearly realized; only those men who were schooled in the Mysteries had an insight into such things. The great majority of men did not realize this, yet they could EXPERIENCE it.
On waking up, the human being thus found in his head the deeds of gods. And when he then lived through his waking life and was able to perceive the structure of his thoughts, this was due to the fact that the gods had been active in his head while he was asleep. The ancient Oriental thus discovered within him every morning the heritage of the gods, the results of what they had done in him while he was asleep. He perceived this in thoughts, in the form of an inspiration. The divine-spiritual beings did not inspire him directly, when he was awake. They inspired him when he was asleep, while they were active in his head.
In those ancient times, everything that led to man behaving socially in this or in that way was really inspiration. It might be said: At that time the divine-spiritual beings still had the possibility of ordering earthly affairs in such a way that while human beings were asleep, they arranged the trust men felt in one another, and they brought about the obedience of the large masses to their leaders, etc. In that ancient Oriental epoch there was still cooperation between the divine-spiritual world and the earthly world. But this was only possible because the whole human organization was different from the present one.
I have often mentioned that now people imagine that everything connected with man as he is today has always been the same; that the physical part of his physical organism, the psychic part of his soul, the spiritual element of his ego, were then as they are now. When a modern historian writes about ancient Egypt and unriddles its documents, he believes that the Egyptians may not have been as clever as he is, but that essentially speaking, they had the same thoughts, feelings, and impulses which we have today.
One generally thinks that if we go far back into time, man was a kind of higher ape, and that from this stage he passed on to a condition which they only imagine. And when the time began which interests them from the historical standpoint, then they have to admit that man was more or less what he is today, with the thoughts, feelings, and impulses which he now possesses.
Yet it is not so. Even in the course of history, man underwent considerable changes. You only have to remember how the Greek viewed the world, quite physically. The Greek did not see the color blue as we see it now. He only saw the reddish tones of color. If a modern man contemplates the beautiful blue sky and thinks that the Greek, who was steeped in beauty, must have loved it, he is mistaken. The Greek saw the warm reddish and yellow tints, and could not distinguish green from blue. He therefore saw the sky quite differently from the way in which we see it with our normal consciousness. Even the eyes have changed completely in the course of human evolution, although this only applies to the more intimate and finer traits. The whole sense-organization has changed in the course of history. During those ancient Oriental times of which I have spoken, the organization of the senses did not prevent man from surrendering to that which came from his organism when he was awake, as the result of what remained to him from the activity of the gods in his body while he was asleep.
Gradually, man's sense-organs changed; his senses connected him with the external world in so living a way that when he awoke, this connection prevented him from noticing what might still remain in him as a heritage from the gods, left there while he was asleep.
Even if the gods were still to be active in his head during sleep (they are no longer active in it, for man's organization has changed, and this would no longer have a meaning for the development of mankind), man's progress and further development would not profit by it. On the contrary, he would not be able to perceive this heritage which comes to him from his sleep, because on waking, his fully developed senses immediately attract him strongly to the external world. What remains from his sleep would therefore pass over into his body, instead of being taken up by his consciousness. Today man would not be able to experience himself through the inspiration of the gods in his sleep, and were they still to use his head-organization as a field for their activities, these inspirations would retreat into his body and prematurely age his organism.
In older times, man's sleep-experiences could be assimilated during his waking condition because his senses were not directed so strongly toward the external world as they are today, and man could at that time live in union with the world of the gods.
This existence was a real LIFE in union with the world of the gods. The gods cannot be perceived through the senses, and in ancient times, man had to rely on being able to experience at least the deeds of the gods. He could do this, because his senses were not yet so strongly turned towards the external world as today.
Now, however, a time came — speaking generally, in the thousand years preceding the Mystery of Golgotha — when in the Eastern countries man's senses, especially the eyes, first began to be receptive to the impressions of the outer world; this receptivity developed as time went on. Man gradually developed the sense organization which he now has, adding it to the nerve organization, which still remained from former times and which enabled him to experience the divine-spiritual deeds.
Earlier he had experienced these divine-spiritual deeds in their purity, without mingling them with sense experiences. At that time the human being could still experience something, because the gods had not as yet completely forsaken him, but these experiences were immediately absorbed by the sense-organization, with the strange result that among the great majority of men the gods, the spiritual beings, were, so to speak, drawn into the sense organization. I might express this by saying that out of the former purely spiritual contemplation of divine-spiritual beings a belief in ghosts arose.
This belief in ghosts does not reach back into very ancient times in man's history, but the contemplation of divine-spiritual beings is very ancient. The belief in ghosts only arose when sense perceptions were intermingled with the contemplation of the divine. When the Mystery-culture of the East came over to Europe and was taken up, for instance, by the wonderful spiritual life of Greece, flowing into Greek art and Greek philosophy, then the great masses of men coming from the East brought with them also the belief in ghosts.
So we may say that during the last thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha, the Oriental conception as such was already becoming decadent and a kind of belief in ghosts became widely prevalent among the masses of mankind. This belief came over into Europe from the East, and it was the transformation into sense-perception of the former, purely contemplative spirit of the East. We may therefore say that the belief in ghosts is the last ramification, the end, of a lofty though dreamy spiritual vision, which had once constituted a high stage of culture in the evolution of man.
All that has been described to you, how that during sleep the ancient Oriental felt his head to be the earthly field of action for the world of the gods, this could only be EXPERIENCED by him as man, but the initiate of the Mysteries KNEW it. This contrast can already be seen today, in the development of a new culture.
This culture is still in its infancy, and the further West we go the more does it make itself felt. For an ancient Oriental it would have been meaningless to say, for instance, that human thoughts do not pulsate through the human will, for he knew that what lived in his will, and even in his blood, came to him from the gods. The gods made his thoughts, and during his sleep condition the gods developed a mighty power in his head. This he felt as inspiration.
Even today, when we look across to the East and view the last remnants of Eastern culture, still existing for instance in Solovieff's philosophy, we find, particularly in Solovieff, that he would have been quite unable to understand it if he had been told that thoughts bring no impulses to man and have no bearing on his will.
Yet Western people, particularly the Americans, have this view. Americans describe what lies immediately before them; even their physiology and biology are represented in this way. If we penetrate into its more intimate fundamental character, we shall find that American science greatly differs from European science. The Westerner portrays how little significance thoughts really have for the human will, for he is far too strongly aware of the fact that it is man who forms the thoughts. Nevertheless he cannot form them out of the blue, and so the modern American declares it to be of far more importance than his actual thoughts, how a man is rooted in a certain family or political party through his social life-conditions, or in the way he has grown into a certain sect. All this, he declares, stirs up emotions in him and determines his will. It is really impossible to influence the will through thought. The will is determined by such life foundations as family, political party, nationality, sect, etc. The American and the Westerner in general argues that thought is not the real ruler in man, but is only the Prime Minister of the ruler, an expensive minister, as Carlyle expressed it. This ruler is the human organism, which is will, instinct, passion, and thought is only the executive organ.
We really have to admit that this is the way of thinking of the great masses of people today, who rush forward to assert their own views in the face of old traditions in the world. This is why men like so much to study the ways of primitive man, because they think that he followed his instincts and passions, and that his thoughts were merely a kind of reflexion of these instincts and passions.
Consequently, regarding man in this way, the Westerner says he is driven by his instincts and passions. Why? — Because man is not yet organized in a way which enables him to perceive the spiritual behind these instincts and passions, he can only see an instinct or a passion and nothing spiritual behind them. Yet when an instinct or a passion rises up in man, evil though it may be, and no matter in what form it may appear in this or in that man, the SPIRIT lives behind this instinct or passion, even behind the most brutal ones. But today man cannot as yet perceive this spirit, for the human race is still in a state of development. It must gradually approach a spirituality which enables man to perceive the spirit whenever he looks within his own being and beholds his instincts and passions. In the future this will be possible. It is a matter of indifference whether a man has good or evil instincts. When he has evil instincts, then Ahrimanic or Luciferic beings lie hidden within him, but these are spiritual beings!
In advancing the view that instincts and passions are the driving powers, we have before us the same case as that of the ghosts in comparison with the spirituality of the past. You see, an ancient spirituality existed in the Oriental conception. This spirituality continued to develop, and as I have already said, during the last thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha the final product was the belief in ghosts, in seeing ghosts.
We now stand within the evolution of the world in such a way that on the one hand we see how the belief in ghosts arose out of an ancient spirituality; but at the same time, we see that in the future a purely spiritual contemplation will once more arise. Today, however, there is still an inner belief in ghosts. Just as those who believe in ghosts think that ghosts are sensory things and look like something which the eyes can see, so a man of today, a Westerner, does not yet discern the spiritual when he looks into himself; he only sees something spectral, something ghostly.
All passions, instincts, and desires are ghostly specters, which today precede the spirituality of the future, whereas the old ghosts in which people believed succeeded the spirituality of the past. It might be said that the old pure spirituality developed from East to West, then came the belief in ghosts, and the last traces of this belief are still among us. From West to East a future spirituality is developing, which is gradually drawing near, and which will become a reality in a distant future. The first traces of this spirituality, however, appear to be just as spectral as the ancient ghosts, namely the instincts, passions, etc. such as we see them today. The scholar of today must necessarily from his own point of view attribute to man himself his instincts and passions, yet he regards with contempt the general belief in ghosts. He does not realize that this belief of the masses in ghosts has just as much cognitive value and substance as has his own belief in human desires, instincts, and impulses. He too is a believer in ghosts, but they are the ghostly specters which are only now beginning to appear, whereas the great masses believe in ghosts belonging to a time now coming to an end. That is why our European civilization has become so chaotic, because the old and the new specters collide with one another.
There is a brief description in one of my “West-East Aphorisms” showing how humanity has been influenced for a long period by an ancient traditional Oriental spirituality on the one hand (a spirituality which had condensed itself into a belief in ghosts), and on the other hand in the belief in the specters of instincts and passions, which is only now beginning to spring into life and which has not yet lost its sensory character. Ghosts, as they are generally called, are spirits which have acquired a sensory-physical character (or have become tangible) through the human organization, whereas impulses, instincts, desires, and passions are modern specters pointing toward the future, specters which have not yet been raised to spirituality.
The inner soul-life of a modern European lives in this particularly chaotic cooperation of old and new specters, and a spiritual conception must be found which throws light on both. These questions are not only connected with man's conception of the world, but with the universal human life upon the Earth. How can it be otherwise, seeing that not only the spiritual life but also the juridical, political, and economic life depend on such questions, since they all proceed from the particular constitution of man. What, then, is the origin of this whole development? — we must ask ourselves.
I have said that the divine-spiritual beings have their earthly concerns in the human head. In man we distinguish a threefold being: the nervous-sensory being centered chiefly in the head, the rhythmical being which lives in the middle part, and the metabolic limb being, which is contained in the extremities and in their inner ramifications, that is to say, in the real metabolic organs.
Now, we know that the gods ordered their earthly concerns during the sleeping condition of the older type of humanity; that they opened their workshop, as it were, in the head of man while he was asleep. What takes place in the man of today?
It happens also at the present time that the gods open their workshop in man while he sleeps, but they no longer work in his head, they work now in his metabolic system. But the limb-metabolic organism — and this is what is now most significant and fundamental — remains unconscious even when the human head is awake. Remember how often I have told you that man is awake in his thoughts and ideas; but when, for instance, the thought comes to him, “Now I will raise my arm, I will move my hand,” he does not really know what takes place below so that the muscle may carry out these movements. This is not known to the man of today through his normal consciousness. The whole way in which his thought-life influences his organism remains in the dark. This leads to an unconscious life even when man is awake. The gods' field of action upon the arth to-day is therefore of such a kind that during his waking life man's own natural development no longer enables him to receive this inheritance of the gods when he wakes up.
However, there is a divine-spiritual activity at work in man today, from the time of falling asleep to the moment of his awakening, but his surrounding natural conditions no longer enable him to gain an impression of the gods' activity. In the past, man's organization was so constituted that he felt inspired by his thoughts. Today, man forms his own thoughts, but in this activity the divine spiritual deeds do not yet work. This capacity must first be developed in mankind.
This is the task — I might call it a cosmic task — which spiritual science must set itself. It must bring man forward in his development, and even pedagogy must be encompassed within such development, enabling him to recognize out of his own inner being and in full consciousness the divine-spiritual deeds. At the same time it will come about that he will no longer see these inner specters. Facing man's real inner being, the instincts and passions, as they are imagined today, are nothing but specters, even as ghosts are seen outwardly, though these ghosts are not merely fragments of the imagination; they are divine-spiritual forces which have become delusively perceptible to the senses and which are incorrect, untrue imaginings. Similarly the divine-spiritual forces which are active in man's inner being are thought of in the wrong way today if we think of them as instincts and passions.
External ghosts are now despised, but what is regarded as so-called science is but a collection of specters, of inner specters, and these must be transformed with man's cooperation during the course of cosmic development. Our whole culture must be permeated by impulses which go in this direction. Therein will lie the possibility of breaking away from the forces of decay, or from the chaotic interplay of such decadent forces with constructive forces (though mankind still struggles against the latter). Then we can advance to future stages of human development inspired and driven by the spirit. All this is essentially important.
What I wished to explain to you today is even a kind of East-West contemplation, but expressed, I might say, more esoterically. These East-West contemplations are today quite in harmony with the times, and this is not meant trivially. Only by such thoughts and considerations can humanity attain a certain degree of consciousness.
We must therefore say: In past times of earthly evolution man was even in sleep (for he is a human being when he is asleep, even though he does not carry his body about with him) connected with the gods in such a way that he could perceive with his soul's eyes, with spiritual eyes, how the gods took up their abode in his head, but when he woke up, only the echo of these feelings remained. Man gradually withdrew from this divine-spiritual world, although he could still perceive it dreamily.
The gods descended deeper into the human physical form, and man is connected with them at the present time in such a way that they have now chosen his metabolic system and his extremities as a workshop for the earthly being. But man does not completely abandon this earthly being during sleep. And because this abandonment is not complete, he will once more be able to experience, from the world of the gods, will-impulses, impulses for his social life, and these he will experience not only in sleep but also as a complete human being, when he is awake. In other words: Man must acquire more and more CONSCIOUSLY the knowledge of the spiritual world.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Rudolf Steiner [died March 30, 1925]

The name of him whom Providence has chosen
That wondrous things on Earth he should achieve,
Whom I may often praise, though ne'er sufficing,
Whose destiny we scarcely can believe,
His name — it is Humanus, Saint and wise one,
The best of men whom I did e'er perceive:
By origin another name he bears,
Which with illustrious ancestors he shares.

                —from "The Mysteries" by Goethe

The Eagle

"The Eagle" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Rudolf Steiner: "Let us look at the bird in the air — the eagle, let us say, in his majestic flight — upon whom, as though by an outer gift of grace, the rays of the Sun and their action bestowed his plumage, bestowed his horny beak — let us look at this eagle as he flies in the air. Certain forces work upon him there. The Sun does not only possess the physical forces of light and warmth of which  we usually speak. When I described the Druid Mysteries to you, I drew your attention to the fact that spiritual forces too emanate from the Sun. It is these forces which give to the different species of birds their variegated colors, the special formation of their plumage. When we penetrate with spiritual perception into the nature of the Sun's working, we understand why the eagle has his particular plumage, and when we deepen our contemplation of this being of the eagle, when we develop an inner, artistic comprehension of nature which contains the spiritual within it, when we can perceive how formative forces work out of the impulses of the Sun — strengthened by other impulses of which I shall speak later — when we see how the Sun-impulses stream down over the eagle even before he has emerged from the egg, how they conjure forth the plumage, or, to be more exact, how they conjure it into his fleshy form, then we can ask ourselves: What is the significance of all this for man? The significance of this for man is that it is what makes his brain into the bearer of thoughts. And you have the right insight into the macrocosm, into Great Nature, when you so regard the eagle that you say: The eagle has his plumage, his bright, many-colored feathers; in these lives the self-same force which lives in you in that you make your brain into the bearer of thoughts. What makes the convolutions of your brain? What makes your brain capable of taking up that inner salt-force which is the basis of thinking? What really enables your brain to make a thinker of you? It is the same force which gives his feathers to the eagle in the air. Thus we feel ourselves related to the eagle through the fact that we think: we feel the human substitute for the eagle's plumage within us. Our thoughts flow out from the brain in the same way as the feathers stream out from the eagle." -- October 19, 1923

Edward SchurĂ© on first meeting Rudolf Steiner: "I shall never forget the extraordinary impression made upon me by this man when he entered the room. As I looked at that thin, powerful face, at the black mysterious eyes flashing light as if from unfathomable depths, it struck me that for the first time in my life I was facing one of those supreme seers who have direct vision of the great beyond."

Today is the 92nd anniversary of Rudolf Steiner's mahasamadhi

Rudolf Steiner

Revelation 19:5-10

And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

13 ways of looking at my guru. #2: The Great Good Fish

  Rudolf Steiner: The Wokest of the Woke  

The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 8: 

And he said, "The one is like a wise fisher who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisher discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea, and with no hesitation picked the great good fish. Whoever has ears, listen!"

* * * * *

Here's a thought experiment: If you could send a message to your 12-year-old self, and you were limited to 2 words, what would your message be?

For me the answer's easy: "Rudolf Steiner"

The Elemental World and the Future of Humankind

The Human Soul in Relation to World Evolution. Lecture 8.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, May 28, 1922:

Today I want to bring forward certain matters which concern humankind's evolution in so far as this evolution is dependent upon our relationship with certain spiritual powers during the Earth's future. We have seen how it is possible, through exact observation, to gain insight into the fact that within the physical-soul-spiritual being of man something comes together which, in a certain sense, belongs to the external world, in so far as this world consists of etheric forces and beings. Man draws together these forces to form his etheric body as he descends to earthly life. We see also that  with this entity, consisting of forces from the external etheric world, there unites the effect of man's earthly deeds, of everything he causes to happen — in short, his karma.
I have often mentioned that a new stream of spirituality is now ready to pour into man's earthly existence. The present forms a link in mankind's evolution between an era of mainly intellectual development which began in the first third of the fifteenth century and has now practically run its course — and a future devoted to the spiritual. The most important task for mankind in the era of intellectuality was the development of reason through the investigation of external nature and the development of technology.
In this direction great and impressive results have been accomplished in recent centuries. However, it must be said that the intellect has begun to lose its creativity, though we still live with its heritage. The most creative period was from the time of Copernicus, Galileo, and Giordano Bruno right up to the nineteenth century. Especially in Western civilization the greatest intellectual achievements have been attained in recent centuries.
It is obvious, even to an external unbiased observation, that the intellect has lost some of its creative power. In general, mankind has no longer the same enthusiasm for intellectual accomplishments. Yet the practice of centuries continues through a certain cultural inertia. Thoughts run along the old grooves, but the intellect brings nothing new of real importance to the fore. This is  particularly noticeable in our young people. Not so long ago it was a real pleasure to listen to a young person who had studied some subject. It may not have applied to everyone but certainly to those who had achieved something; one was eager to hear what they had to say, and it was the same everywhere in Western academic circles. But a change has come about in the last few decades: when a young person fresh from university speaks, one is no longer curious about what he will say next. One is not curious, because one knows it already; it comes out automatically; it is as if the brain itself has lost its vitality. One gets the feeling that the activity of the intellect has slid down from the head to some deeper region. That human intelligence has become something mechanical which no longer springs from the region of the head must be obvious even to external observation. This situation has come about because intelligence was originally a natural endowment which mankind was predestined to develop predominantly between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries.
However, in order to fructify the developed intellect, a stream of spirituality from higher regions of world existence now seeks entry into the earthly life of mankind. Whether this will happen depends upon us opening our heart and soul to what thus seeks entry, through many doors, as it were, into the earthly world from the spiritual world. It will be necessary for man not only to become conscious once more of the spiritual in all nature, but able to perceive it.
Consider how in the older civilizations humankind in general perceived — in all the kingdoms of nature, in every star, in every moving cloud, in thunder and lightning — spirit and soul. On the background of this general consciousness the yoga exercises evolved. As I explained yesterday, the yogi attempted to penetrate to his own self. Through inner exercises he sought to attain what today is taken for granted because we are born with it: consciousness of the ‘I’ — the feeling of selfhood. This the yogi had first to develop in himself.
But, my dear friends, it would be a great mistake to compare the ordinary consciousness of self that we have today with that of the yogi. It makes a difference whether something is achieved through one's own human effort or whether one simply has it. When, as was the case with the yogi, one first had to struggle to attain consciousness of self, then, through the inner effort, one was transported into the great universal laws; one participated in world processes. This is not the case when one is simply placed into the sphere of self-consciousness. To belong willy-nilly to a certain level of human evolution is not the same as attaining that level through inner exercises.
You will realize from what was said yesterday that humankind must gradually acquire knowledge in a different way: we must set our thought processes free from the breathing process. As I explained yesterday, this has the effect that thinking, by no longer being bound up with the subject, is able to unite itself with the rhythm of the external cosmos. We must go with our thinking out of ourselves into the external world, whereas the yogi crept into his inner being by hitching together, as it were, the systems of thought and breath. In so doing he identified himself with what his spirit-soul nature was able to experience on the waves of the inner rhythm of breathing. By contrast, we must give ourselves up to the world in order to participate in all the various rhythms which go through the mineral, plant, animal, and human worlds right up to the realm of the hierarchies. We must enter into, and live within, the rhythm of external existence. In this way humankind will again gain insight into that spiritual foundation of nature which external knowledge does not reach.
The sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology which are pursued nowadays provide humankind with a vast amount of popular information. What they actually do is explain how sense observation, interpreted by the intellect, sees the world. But the time has come when humankind must rediscover what lies behind the knowledge provided by external observation and intellectual interpretation.
If one has in mind their physical aspect only, when speaking about the four elements of earth, water, air, and fire, then it makes no difference whether one uses these terms or prefers the more recent ones of solid, liquid, aeriform bodies, and conditions of heat. When they are referred to today, all one has in mind is how the physical substances within them are either combined or mixed, or else separated. However, it must be stressed that everything of a solid, earthen nature has as its foundation an elemental spirituality. Today's ‘enlightened’ people may laugh when reminded that older folks used to see gnomes in everything earthy. However, when knowledge is no longer obtained by means of combining abstract, logical thoughts, but by uniting ourselves through our thinking with the world rhythm, then we shall rediscover the elemental beings contained in everything of a solid earthy nature. The outstanding characteristic of these elemental begins dwelling in solid earth is cleverness, cunning, slyness — in fact, a one-sidedly developed intellect.
Thus, in the solid earth element live spiritual beings of an elemental kind who are very much more clever than human beings. Even a person of extreme astuteness intellectually is no match for these beings who, as supersensible entities, live in the realm of solid earth. One could say that just as man consists of flesh and blood so do these beings consist of cleverness, of super-cleverness. Another of their peculiarities is that they prefer to live in multitudes. When one is in a position to find out how many of these astute beings a suitable earthy object contains, then one can squeeze them out as if from a sponge — in a spiritual sense, of course — and out they flow in an endless stream. But counting these gnome-like beings is a difficult task. If one tries to count them as one would cherries or eggs — i.e., one, two, three — one soon notices that they will not be counted that way. When one has reached say three, then there are suddenly a lot more. So counting them as one would on the physical plane is no use; nor is any other form of calculation, for they immediately play tricks on you. Suppose one put two on one side and two on the other in order to say that twice two makes four. One would be wrong, for through their super-cunning they would appear as seven or eight, making out that two times two makes eight, or something like that. Thus these beings defy being counted. It must be acknowledged that the intellect developed by man in recent times is very impressive. But these super-intelligent beings show a mastery over the intellect even where it is merely a question of numbers.
The elemental beings dwelling in the fluid element — i.e., in water — have particularly developed what is, in humans, our life of feeling and sensitivity. In this respect we humans are really backward compared with these beings. We may take pleasure in a red rose or feel enchanted when trees unfold their foliage. But these beings go with the fluid which as sap rises in the rose bush and participate in the redness of the blossoms. In an intimate way they share feelingly in the world processes. We remain outside of things with our sensitivity, whereas they are right inside the process themselves and share in them.
The elemental beings of air have developed to a high degree what lives in the human will. It is splendid that the analytical chemist discovers the atomic weight of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, and that he finds out how hydrogen and oxygen combine into water to be further analyzed, or else how chloride of lime is analyzed, and so on. But elemental spiritual beings are active behind all this, and it is essential that man should acquire insight into their characteristics. During the period in which man developed the intellect — as already mentioned, this was from the first third of the fifteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century — these elemental beings were pushed to one  side, as it were. While the intellect played a creative part in man's cultural life there was not much they could do., and because the elemental beings dwelling in solids had, in a certain sense, to hold back and leave the intellect to man, they also held back the beings of water and air. But now we live at a time when the intellect has begun to decline within the civilized world; it is falling into decadence. If mankind does not become receptive to what streams toward him from the spiritual world, then the result of this dullness on man's part will be — and there are signs already of it happening — that these elemental beings will gather together to form a kind of union and place themselves under the leadership of the supreme intellectual power: Ahriman.
If it should happen that the elemental beings come under the guidance of Ahriman with the clear intention of opposing human evolution, then mankind would be unable to make further progress. The possibility would arise that the ahrimanic powers in union with the elemental beings would divert the Earth from its intended course. The Earth would not continue what is described in my Occult Science: An Outline as the Saturn-Sun-Moon-Earth evolution. The Earth can only become what it was originally intended to become if human beings, in each epoch, tackle our task rightly.
One can see already how matters stand. Those who have reached a certain age know that formerly one gained insight into another human being's inner thoughts and feelings simply through normal conversation and exchange of ideas. One took it for granted that a person's reason and intellect resided in his head, and what was in the head would be conveyed through the spoken word. There are many people today who no longer take it for granted that reason is located in the head of many of their contemporaries; rather do they assume it to have slid further down. So instead of listening they now analyze. This is just one example from one misunderstood aspect of the whole problem. But I would say that when one starts to psychoanalyze people instead of just letting them talk, then that is in fact an admission that reason no longer resides in the head. It is assumed to have slid down into deeper regions of human nature and must be psychoanalyzed to be brought up again to consciousness. In this age of a declining intellect there are already people who dislike it if one appeals to their intelligence; they prefer to be analyzed. This is because they do not want to participate with the head in what their soul brings to light.
Nothing is achieved by looking at these things merely from an external point of view. To see clearly what is involved they must be considered — as we have just done — in the wider context of world evolution. Certain aspects of psychoanalysis may do some good. There are conditions which formerly were simply accepted but are no longer tolerated and must be cured. However, as so many cures are needed, physical ones do not suffice, so one resorts to psychological ones. Why this should be so must be seen in a wider context.
Superficially judged, there is no point in objecting to all the good reasons and beguiling arguments put forward by psychoanalysts, not even from the wider viewpoint of world evolution. People want to avoid seeing things in their wider context, though it would lead them to the recognition that a spiritual stream is seeking to enter our present civilization to replace the declining intellect.
What we have considered so far amounts to one aspect of what in the future threatens humankind. There is another aspect: just as the lower elements of earth, water, and air are inhabited by elemental beings, so are the higher elements of light ether, chemical ether, and life ether. However, these beings of the higher elements differ considerably from those of the lower ones. The beings of light, and particularly those of life, do not aim at becoming multitudes. The ones who strive the most to become multitudes are the beings of the earth element. The beings of the etheric element strive rather toward unity. It is difficult to differentiate them from one another; they do not express any individuality and rather strive to amalgamate. Certain initiates in ancient times, through whom certain teachings of the Old Testament originated, turned their attention particularly toward the etheric elements. The strong tendency of these elements towards unification created an influence which resulted in the strict monotheism of Judaism.
The religion which is based on the worship of Jehovah originated mainly from a spiritual vision of the realm of the ethers. In this realm live spiritual beings who do not strive to separate from one another and become many individuals. Rather do they strive to grow together and disappear into one another; they seek to become a unity.
If these beings are disregarded by man — i.e., if he does not turn to spiritual knowledge and the insight that what exists up in the sky is not merely the physical Sun, but that with the Sun's warmth and light etheric beings stream down to Earth — if our comprehension stops at the external material aspect, then the possibility exists that these beings will unite with ahrimanic powers. In order for the Earth to become what it was originally intended to become, we must wake up to the dangers that threaten from both sides — on the one hand, the danger that those beings who dwell in the lower elements will join forces with ahrimanic powers, and on the other, that the ahrimanic powers will unite with those of the higher elements in their striving for unity.
The significance of spiritual knowledge for humankind's earthly destiny cannot be emphasized too strongly. Unless we draw near to spiritual reality, something completely different from what ought to happen will happen to the Earth. No matter how far or how deeply our sophisticated sciences of physics and chemistry investigate the material world around us, the fact remains that what is investigated will all disappear along with Earth existence itself. In the last resort, chemistry and physics have no value whatever beyond the Earth. When the evolution of the Earth comes to an end, all mineral substances will turn to dust and dissolve in the cosmos. Only what pertains to the plant, animal, and human world will pass over to the Jupiter existence. Therefore, all the magnificent achievements of these sciences are related only to what is transitory. It is essential that knowledge is attained of that which endures beyond the Earth.
As already mentioned, whatever physical laws are discovered, whatever is investigated concerning the atomic weight of individual elements or whatever chemical formulae are produced, all these things are concerned only with what has merely transient significance. Man must grow beyond Earth existence through knowledge of the kind of things I have explained. These are matters of great import and significance.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Be Patient

"The good effects that confidence can bring are driven away by impatience; the enlightenment that comes through confidence is darkened by impatience. Nothing is worse than letting impatience conjure up a mist before the soul."  — Rudolf Steiner

Related post:

Cosmos and Karma: Our Etheric Heart and Our Astral Heart: The Union of the Physical and the Moral in the Human Heart: "And the Spirit and the Bride say 'Come!'"

And the Spirit and the Bride say "Come!"  — Rev. 22:17

The Human Soul in Relation to World Evolution. Lecture 6 of 9.

Rudolf Steiner, May 26, 1922:

We have often explained how the development of man takes place during the first periods of life, and it is many years since I first indicated how the child behaves to a great extent as an imitative being during the period up to the change of teeth. More or less instinctively — and intensively — he experiences all that is going on in his environment. Later on it is only in the sense organs that the processes of the outer world are thus intensively experienced, although we are not conscious of this fact. In our eyes, for example, we have a process imitating in a certain sense what is going on in the outer world — reproducing it, just as the camera reproduces whatever is there in front of the lens. The human being becomes aware of what is thus imitatively reproduced in his eyes, and thus he gains information about the external world. It is the same with the other senses. But this restriction of the imitative principle to the periphery of the human organism occurs only at a later stage in life.
In early childhood, until the change of teeth, the whole body partakes in this imitative process, though to a lesser extent. At this stage the whole body is in a certain respect related to the outer world as the senses are during the rest of human life. The child is still in the main an imitative being. He follows the way in which outer things work in upon him and he imitates them internally. Hence it is very important to let nothing happen in the young child's environment, not even in the forming of our thoughts and feelings, which the child cannot rightly absorb and make his own.
With the change of teeth it begins to be possible for the child to behave no longer like a sense organ but to assimilate something in the nature of ideas. The child begins to take as his guideline what we say to him. Previously he has taken as his guideline all that we did in his environment; now he begins to grasp what we say. Authority thus becomes the decisive factor between the change of teeth and puberty. The child will quite naturally follow and be guided by what is said to him. Language itself he will of course learn by imitation, but that which is expressed and communicated through language — this can become a determining factor for the child only after the change of teeth. And a true power of judgment, when the child or adolescent begins to make his own faculty of judgment felt, comes only at the time of puberty. Not until then can the child begin to form real judgments of his own.
So far I have been describing quite simply, from an external viewpoint, how a child grows into the world. These facts can be observed by anyone with an unbiased sense of truth. But they are connected with highly significant inner processes, and it is of these that I want to speak today.
I have often pointed out how the human etheric body lives in intimate union with the physical body until the change of teeth begins. Therefore, as I have also said, we can describe the change of teeth as marking the essential birth of the etheric body. Likewise we can refer the birth of the astral body to the time of puberty. However, that again is only an external account. Today we will try to arrive at a rather more inward characterization of these processes.
Let us consider man in the spiritual world, long before he develops the tendency to descend into physical embodiment. We see him there as a being of soul and spirit in a world of soul and spirit. So were we, all of us, before we descended to unite with what was prepared for us, as physical body, in the maternal organism. With this physical body we then united, to undergo our period of earthly existence between birth and death. Long before this, as I said, we were beings of soul and spirit. What we were, and what we experienced there, is very different from what we experience between birth and death here on Earth. Hence it is hard to describe the experiences between death and a new birth; they are so utterly different from earthly conditions. Man models his ideas on his earthly experiences, and it is to these ideas that we must always have recourse for our descriptions. Today, however, we will not dwell so much on the character of man within the world of soul and spirit; we will rather envisage him, to begin with, on his descent, when he approaches the Earth to imbue himself with a new physical body.
Before he approaches his physical body — or rather the germ, the embryo, of it — man draws into himself the forces of the etheric universe. Here on Earth we live in the physical world — in the world characterized by all that we see with the senses and understand with our earthly intellect. But there is nothing in this world that is not permeated by the etheric world. And before man gets the inclination to unite — through the embryo — with the physical world, he draws to himself the forces of the etheric world, and, in so doing, he forms his own etheric body. But to say that man clothes himself with his etheric body is to say very little. We must enter a little more closely into the nature and constitution of this body.
The etheric body, as it forms and develops itself in the human being, is a universe in itself — a universe, one might say, in picture form. At its circumference it manifests something in the nature of stars, and in its lower portion something that appears more or less as an image of the Earth. It even has in it a kind of image of the Sun nature and the Moon nature. [image on the left]

This is of great significance. On our descent into the earthly world, when we draw to ourselves the forces of the universal ether, we actually take with us in our etheric body a kind of image of the cosmos. If we could extract the etheric body of a man at the moment when he is uniting with the physical, we should have a sphere — far more beautiful than has ever been wrought by mechanical means — a sphere complete with stars and zodiac and Sun and Moon.
These configurations of the etheric body remain during the embryonic time, while the human being coalesces more and more with his physical body. They begin to fade away a little, but they remain. Indeed they remain right on into the seventh year — that is, until the change of teeth. In the etheric body of the little child, this cosmic sphere is still quite recognizable. But with the seventh year  — with the change of teeth — these forms that we behold in the etheric body begin to ray out, in a manner of speaking, previously they were more star-like; now they begin to be like rays. The stars dissolve away in the human ether body; but as they do so they become rays, rays with a tendency to come together inwardly.
All this goes on gradually throughout the period of life between the change of teeth and puberty. At puberty the process is so far advanced that these rays, having grown together here in the center, form as it were a distinct structure — a distinct etheric structure of their own. The stars have faded out, while the structure which has gathered in the center becomes especially living. And in the midst of this central etheric structure, at the time of puberty, the physical heart, with its blood vessels, is suspended. [image on the right]
So we have this strange phenomenon of the star-ether-body drawing inwards. As etheric body it is, of course, undifferentiated at the periphery of the organism — very little can be distinguished in there. On the other hand, during the time from the change of teeth until puberty, it is intensely radiant, raying from without inwards. Then it gathers itself together, and there, clearly suspended within it, is the physical heart.
You must not suppose that until then man has no etheric heart. Certainly he has one, but he obtains it differently from the way in which he acquires the etheric heart that will now be his. For the gathered radiance that arises at the time of puberty becomes the true etheric heart of man. The etheric heart he has before this time is one that he received as a heritage through the inherent forces of the embryo. When a man gets his etheric body, and with it makes his way into the physical organism, a kind of etheric heart — a substitute etheric heart, so to speak — is drawn together by the forces of the physical body. He keeps this etheric heart during his childhood years, but then it gradually decays. (This may not be a very beautiful expression, by our usual standards, but it meets the case exactly.) The first etheric heart slowly decays, and in its stead, as it were constantly replacing that which falls out in the etheric process of decay, there comes the new, the real, etheric heart. This etheric heart is a concentration of the whole cosmic sphere we brought with us as an ether form, a faithful image of the cosmos, when we proceeded through conception and birth into this earthly life.
Thus we can trace, throughout the time from birth or conception until puberty, a distinct change in the whole etheric form that the human being bears within him. One may describe it by saying: not until puberty does the human being possess his own etheric heart — that is, the etheric heart formed out of his own etheric body, and not supplied provisionally by external forces.
All the etheric forces that are working in man until puberty tend to endow him with this fresh etheric heart. It is, in the etheric sphere, a process comparable to the change of teeth. For, as you know, until the change of teeth we have our inherited teeth; these are cast out, and their place is taken by the second teeth — those that are truly our own. So, likewise, the etheric heart we have until puberty is cast out, and we now receive our own. That is the point — we receive our own etheric heart.
But now there is another process running parallel with this. When we observe man just after his entry into the physical world — i.e., as a very young child — we find a multitude of single organs distinguishable in his astral body. Man, as I have said, builds for himself an etheric heart, which is an image of the outer universe. In his astral body, however, he brings with him an image of the experiences he has undergone, between his last death and his present birth. Much, very much, can be seen in this astral body of a little child; great secrets are inscribed there. Much can be seen there of what the human being has experienced between his last death and his present birth. Moreover, the astral body is highly differentiated, individualized.
And now, this is the peculiar thing: during the very time when the aforesaid process is taking place in the etheric body, this highly differentiated astral body becomes more and more undifferentiated. Originally it is an entity of which we can say it comes from another world, from a world which is not there in the physical, or even the etheric universe. By the time of puberty, all that is living in this astral body — as a multitude of single forms and structures — slips into the physical organs — primarily into those organs which are situated (to speak approximately) above the diaphragm. Marvelous structures, radiantly present in the astral body in the first days of life, slip by degrees into the brain formation and saturate the organs of the senses. Then, other structures slip into the breathing organism; others again into the heart, and through the heart into the arteries. They do not come directly into the stomach; it is only through the arteries that they eventually spread into the abdominal organs. Thus we see the whole astral body, which man brings with him through birth into this physical existence — we see it diving down gradually into the organs. It slides into the organs. This way of putting it is quite true to reality, though naturally it sounds strange to the habitual ideas of today. By the time we have grown to adult life, our organs have imprisoned in them the several forms and structures of our astral body.
Precisely herein lies the key to a more intimate knowledge of the human organs; they cannot be truly understood unless we also understand the astral which man brings with him. We must know in the first place that every single organ bears within it, in a sense, an astral inheritance, even as the etheric heart is, to begin with, an inheritance. Moreover, we must know that this inherited astral becomes permeated gradually, through and through, with that which man brings with him as his own astral body, which dives down bit by bit into the physical and etheric organs.
The heart is an exception, in a certain sense. Here, too, an astral part dives down; but in the heart not only the astral process but the etheric, too, is concentrated. Therefore the heart is the uniquely important organ which it is for man.
The astral body becomes more and more indefinite, for it sends into the physical organs the concrete forms which it brings with it from another life. It sends them down into the physical organs, so that they are imprisoned there; and thereby the astral body itself becomes more or less like a cloud of mist. But — and this is the interesting thing — while from this side the astral body turns into a cloud of mist, new differentiations come into it from another side — first slowly, then with full regularity and increasingly from the age of puberty onwards.
When the baby is kicking with its little legs, you notice very little of this in the astral body. True, the effects are there, but the differentiations which the astral body has brought with it are far more intense. Gradually these forms disappear, they slide into the physical organs. The astral body more and more becomes a cloud of mist. When the child kicks and fidgets, all manner of effects come up into the astral body from these childish movements, but they impinge on what they find there, they are cast back and disappear again. It is as though you made an impression on an elastic ball: the ball recovers is shape immediately. All this, however, changes proportion as the child learns to speak and develops ideas which are retained in memory. We then see how his movements — intelligent movements, now, walking about, moving the arms, and so on — are increasingly retained in the astral body.
Yes, indeed, untold things can be inscribed in this astral body. When you are forty-five years old, almost all your movements are inscribed in traces there, and many other things too, as we shall see. The astral body can absorb very much of all that has taken place since you learned to speak and think and since its own configuration was dissolved. Into this undifferentiated entity all that we do now is inscribed — the movements of our arms and legs, and not only these, but all that we accomplish through our arms and legs. For instance, when we hold a pen in writing, all that we thus accomplish in the outer world is there inscribed. When we chop wood, or if we give someone a box on the ears, all is inscribed into the astral body. Even when we do not do something ourselves but give instructions to a person and he does it, this, too, is inscribed, through the relation of the content of our words to what the person does. In short, the whole of man's activity which finds expression in the outer world is written into the astral body; thus the astral body becomes configured in manifold ways through all our human actions.
This process, as I said, begins when the child learns to speak — learns to embody thoughts in speech. It does not apply to ideas which the child receives but cannot remember afterwards. It begins from the time to which he can remember back, with ordinary consciousness, in later life.
And now the strange thing is that all that is thus inscribed in the astral body has a tendency to meet inwardly, just as the radiations of the ether body meet in the etheric heart. All that our human deeds are — this, too, comes together within. Moreover, this has a kind of outer causation. Simply as human beings on Earth, we are bound to enter into many forms of activity. This activity expresses itself, as I said just now, throughout the astral body. But there is a perpetual resistance. The influences that are exerted on the human organism cannot always go right up, as it were. There is always a certain resistance; they are driven down again. All that we do in connection with our physical organs tends to stream upward to the head, but the human organization prevents it from reaching there. Hence these influences collect together and form a kind of astral center.
This, once again, is clearly developed at the time of puberty. At the same place where the etheric heart — our own etheric heart — has formed itself, we now have an astral structure too, which gathers together all our actions. And so from puberty a central organ is created wherein all our doing, all our human activity, is centered. It is so indeed: in the very region where man has his heart, all his activity is centralized — centralized, in this case, neither physically nor etherically, but astrally. And the important thing is that in the time when puberty occurs (naturally, the astral events coincide only approximately with the physical) man's own etheric heart is so far formed that it can receive these forces that develop out of our activity in the outer world. Thus we can truly say (and in so saying we mark a real event in the human inner being): from puberty onwards man's whole activity becomes inserted, via the astral body, in his etheric heart — and in that which has grown out of the pictures of the stars, out of the images of the cosmos.
This is a phenomenon of untold importance. For, my dear friends, we have here a joining together with the cosmos of what man does in this world. In the heart, as far as the etheric universe is concerned, you have a cosmos gathered up into a center; while at the same time, as far as the astral is concerned, you have a gathering together of all that man does in the world. This is the point where the cosmos — the cosmic process — is joined to the karma of man.
This intimate correspondence of the astral body with the etheric body is to be found nowhere in the human organism except in the region of the heart. But there, in truth, it is. Man has brought with him through birth an image of the universe in his etheric body, and the entire universe, which is there within him as an essence, receives all that he does and permeates itself with it. By this constant coming together — this mutual permeation — the opportunity is given throughout human life for human actions to be instilled into the essence of the images of the cosmos.
Then when man passes through the gate of death, this ethereal-astral structure — wherein the heart is floating, so to speak — contains all that man takes with him into his further life of soul and spirit, when he has laid aside the physical and the etheric forms. Now, as he expands ever more widely in the spirit, he can hand over his entire karma to the cosmos, for the substance of the whole cosmos is contained within him; it is drawn together in his heart, in the etheric body of his heart. It came from the cosmos and changed into this etheric entity, then it was gathered up as an essence in the heart, and now it tends to return into the cosmos once more. The human being expands into the cosmos. He is received into the world of souls. He undergoes what I described in my book Theosophy as the passage through the world of souls and then through spiritland.
In truth it is so. When we consider the human organization in its becoming, we can say to ourselves: in the region of the heart there takes place a union of the cosmos with the earthly realm, and in this way the cosmos, with its cosmic configuration, is taken into our etheric body. There it makes ready to receive all our actions, all that we do in life. Then we go outward again, together with  everything that has formed itself within us through this intimate permeation of the cosmic ethereal with our own human actions. So do we enter again into a new cosmic existence, having passed through the gate of death.
Thus we have now described in a quite concrete form how the human being lives his way into his physical body, and how he is able to draw himself out of it again, because his deeds have given him the force to hold together what he had first formed within him as an essence out of the cosmos.
The physical body, as you know, is formed within the physical and earthly world by the forces of heredity — that is, the forces of the embryo. What man brings with him from the spiritual world, having first drawn together his etheric body, comes into union with this. But we must now go further. In the astral, that wonderful entity he has brought with him, there lives the ego, which, having passed through many earthly lives, has a long evolution behind it. This ego lives in a certain connection of sympathy with all the complex forms that are present in the astral body. (By using the word “sympathy” in this connection, I am once more describing something absolutely real.) Then, when these astral forms slide into the organs of the physical, as explained above, the ego retains this sympathy and extends the same inner sympathy to the organs themselves. The ego spreads out increasingly into the organs and takes possession of them. From earliest childhood, indeed, the ego is in a certain relation to the organs. But at that time the inherited condition, of which I spoke, is still prevailing; therefore the relation of the organs to the ego is a more external one.
When, later on, the ego slips with its astral body into the organs of the physical, this is what happens: whereas in the little child the ego was present only outwardly along the paths of the blood, it now unites with the blood circulation more and more inwardly, intensively, until — at puberty once more — it has entered there in the fullest sense. And while you have an astral formation around the etheric and the physical heart, the ego takes a different path. It slides into the organs of the lung, and with the blood vessels that pass from the lung to the heart approaches nearer and nearer to the heart. More and more closely united with the blood circulation, it follows the paths of the blood. By way of the forces that run along the courses of the blood, the ego enters into that which has been formed from the union of the etheric and the astral heart, wherein an etheric from the cosmos grows together with an astral from ourselves.
As I said, this astral body comes by degrees to contain an immeasurable amount, for all our actions are written in it. And that is not all. Inasmuch as the ego has a relation of sympathy to all that the astral body does, our intentions, our ideas, too, are inscribed there — the intentions and ideas, I mean, out of which we perform our actions. Here, then, you have a complete linking up of karma with the laws of the whole cosmos.
Of all that thus goes on within the human being, people today know “heartily little” (herzlich wenig); and we can repeat the words with emphasis, for all these things, of which people today are ignorant, relate to the human heart. They know what goes on here in the physical world, and they consider it in relation to moral laws. The real fact is that all that happens in the moral life, and all that happens physically in the world, are brought together precisely in the human heart. These two — the moral and the physical — which run so independently and yet side by side for modern consciousness today, are found in their real union when we learn to understand all the configurations of the human heart.
Naturally, all that takes place in the heart is far more hidden than the event which happens openly with the change of teeth. We have our inherited teeth; then we form teeth again out of our own organism. The former fall away, the latter remain. The former have an inherent tendency to go under; nor could they ever keep themselves intact, even if they did not fall out. The permanent teeth, on the other hand, are destroyed chiefly by extraneous conditions — including, of course, those of the organism itself. Likewise at puberty: in an invisible way, our etheric heart is given over to disintegration, and we now acquire a kind of permanent ether heart.
Only this permanent ether heart is fully adapted to receive into itself our activities. Therefore it makes a great difference whether a human being dies before puberty or after. When he dies before puberty, he has only the tendency for what he has done on Earth to be karmically inherited later on. Even when children die before puberty, this or that can certainly be incorporated in their karma, but it is always rather vague and fleeting. The forming of karma, properly speaking, begins only at the moment when the astral heart takes hold of the etheric heart and they join together. This, indeed, is the real organism for the forming of karma. For, at death, what is gathered up and concentrated there in the human being becomes increasingly cosmic; and in our next earthly life it is incorporated in the human being once again out of the cosmos. Everything we do, accordingly, concerns not ourselves alone. Incorporated within us is something that comes from the cosmos and retains the tendency, after our death, to give over our deeds to the cosmos once more. For it is from the cosmos that the karmic laws work themselves out, fashioning our karma. So do we bear the effects of what the cosmos makes of our deeds back again into earthly life, at the beginning of our next life on Earth.