Human Questions and Cosmic Answers. Lecture 2.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, June 30, 1922:
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, June 30, 1922:
I will allude briefly to the indications given in last Sunday's lecture. They were on the subject of man's relationship to the universe and attention was called to how the forces of the human will find their way out into the cosmic expanse in the direction opposite to that of the light streaming from the sun to the earth. So it can be said that forces of will stream out from earthly humanity to meet the light. On the other hand, the element of thought is borne to the earth along the waves of the moon's light.
It was further explained that what spreads out from man at the dissolution of his physical body is of the nature of will and thus streams out into the cosmos toward its inflowing light; and that man is borne back again toward earthly existence on the currents of the thought-element which flow along the lines of light together with everything that proceeds from the moon.
Naturally, in regard to this aspect of the will-element and the light-element, of the thought-element and the moon's light, and also to what I shall say in the present lecture, it must be remembered that when speaking of these things and making use, as it were, of the structure of the universe to illustrate them, an illustration only is meant. For it must not be thought that in these happenings the actual physical sun and the physical moon are anything else than signs for what is taking place spiritually. The true state of affairs can be described approximately in the following way.
I want to speak of these things from a certain historical aspect, but they could also be presented in a different way. My aim is to make the things I am now saying intelligible to you in greater detail. — You know that according to a more materialistic mode of thinking, our solar system originated from a kind of primal nebula. Thinking that is bound up with purely material existence conceives that our visible cosmos, our solar system, sprang from a kind of primal nebula which then consolidated and contracted into what now exists as the solar system.
From all you have heard in Anthroposophy it will be clear to you from the outset that this cannot be an exhaustive presentation of the process. However much this material explanation of cosmic happenings may be modified by saying that the nebula is permeated with forces, and so on, what is actually present cannot be fully explained in this way, for the reason that nothing contained in a Kant-Laplace or other primal nebula, or what develops from it according to the laws governing the gasiform or aeriform states, could ever have produced the animal and human souls that are living on earth, or even the forces working in the growth of plants. Such an explanation of cosmic happenings is an abstraction, even if a materialistic abstraction. It must surely be obvious that in the primal nebula conceived by materialistic thinking a spiritual reality is contained, and that this primal nebula is only the outer, material expression of something spiritual. To be complete, therefore the idea of the primal nebula must include the weaving activity of the spiritual. So this Kant-Laplace nebula must be amplified by being regarded as the body of an element of spirit-and-soul — not, it is true, uniform and individual as in man, but manifold, diversified, yet for all that of the nature of spirit-and-soul.
The purely materialistic way of thinking and of formulating hypotheses goes no farther than this primal nebula. Now let us imagine that not we ourselves, but other beings, beings of the future, were to evolve ideas, based on similarly materialistic thinking, of the genesis of the world-system in which they are, or rather will be, living. Whether what I am now saying represents the reality is quite beside the point; it is said only for the sake of clarifying a thought. — We will assume, then, that in a distant future such beings conceive of a Kant-Laplace nebula as the beginning of the world's existence. At what point in the course of the ages would this nebula exist? When such beings of the future look back, it would have to be assumed — in order to make the thought clear — that our earth, that is to say, our solar system, had long since passed away, that the space it occupied had as it were become free, and that then, in this freed space, a Kant-Laplace nebula of a future world had come into existence. As long as our solar system is there, this future nebula could obviously not be imagined to exist in the space it occupies. I will formulate this example by assuming that these beings who might elaborate a materialistic theory of a future world-system place their primal nebula in the space now occupied by our own. But in accordance with what has been said, spirit-and-soul too would have to be contained in such a nebula of the future; this nebula could only be the bodily expression of an element of cosmic spirit-and-soul. Where would this cosmic element originate? What would have to be said about it?
Suppose that here (drawing on blackboard) is our Kant-Laplace primal nebula (physical plus spirit-and-soul) and here the primal nebula conceived at some future time by beings of whom I have spoken. In that nebula too, the element of spirit-and-soul would have to be contained. Where would it originate? If this future nebula were to be at the place occupied by our own solar system it would include an element of cosmic spirit-and-soul. But this would be what has remained over from the solar system in which we ourselves have lived. Our solar system would have come to an end, would have dispersed in cosmic space. The element of spirit-and-soul would have remained and that would be embodied in a new Kant-Laplace primal nebula. In other words: what I have here described would represent the Jupiter evolution. But within this Jupiter evolution would be contained the element of spirit-and-soul prepared during the Earth-evolution of humanity. In the same way we must go back beyond the Kant-Laplace nebula of the Earth to the spirit-and-soul contained in it. And this was prepared by the beings of the (Old) Moon-existence.
So when you look at the present solar system you are beholding the outer corporeality of what passed away with the Moon-existence or was transformed from the Moon-existence into the Earth-existence. And again, what we today send out into the cosmic expanse prepares the Jupiter-existence. When, therefore, we look at our solar system we are actually looking at something that is the product of an earlier stage of existence. So when I speak of the light streaming to us from the physical sun I am speaking of something that comes out of the past. And when I speak of the streams of will flowing out to meet this light, I am speaking of something that is preparing the future. The primal work, the cosmic element of which I speak in order to have a form of expression for what happens spiritually, was thus prepared by the Old Moon-existence; and what I describe as the spiritual is already the foundation for what will live on into the Jupiter-existence. Hence it must not be said that the sun seen by our eyes out in cosmic space draws the human will to itself. This physical sun is only the symbol for that sun-nature toward which the human will streams. And equally, the physical moon is only the physical sign for the Moon-nature which in streams of thoughts pours continually into Earth-existence.
You will find these thoughts necessary if you want to understand rightly what is meant when, in what follows, I shall be speaking of cosmic relationships which reflect, in pictures, what takes place spiritually through mankind on the Earth. And here an addition must be made to what was said in the last lecture. When our solar system as a whole is observed from the Earth, we have the Sun and, as outer planets: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn — others are of less importance. Nearer to the Earth than to the Sun we have Venus and Mercury. Let us now recall that the element of will streams out from humanity on Earth toward the Sun in cosmic space, and that after the dissolution of the body the soul too is borne out into the cosmos through this element of will, which reaches, first, the Sun-existence, the Sun-sphere.
What must in this way be stated as a fact was discovered, as I said in the last lecture, through the experiences of the ancient initiates. They sent their questions toward the Sun along the streams of the will and then received the answers from the Moon in the form of thoughts. So that what I have now said, expressing it in this particular way, is a reality. And again, if more insight is to be gained, we must go back to the experiences of the initiates in the ancient Mysteries.
Think once again of the initiate of these Mysteries sending out his questions, giving them over to the stream flowing out toward the rays of the Sun; he waits, and then, after a time, receives his answers from the Moon — in this respect holding converse with the universe.
But in this process the answers received by the ancient initiates had a specific bearing only; they were answers relating to the actual structure of the universe. So that what was contained in that ancient, more primitive science — which was in truth a lofty, although dreamlike wisdom — was brought into being by the answers received to questions sent out to meet the rays of the Sun streaming from the opposite direction. These answers were to questions referring to the structure of the universe, to the forces at work in the universe, and so on. In short, they were answers relating to the realm of physics, astronomy, to the music of the spheres, to everything embraced in these domains of knowledge in the ancient sciences.
But these initiates sent out other questions as well into the universe. They also knew, for example, how to send out questions to Mars, to the Mars-sphere. At the time when Mars could be seen in the sky they gave over their questions to currents streaming in the opposite direction to the rays of Mars. When they sent their questions to Mars they did not await the answers from the Moon but from Venus, when Venus was standing in a position facing Mars. The important point, however, is that they awaited from Venus the answers to the questions they had sent upward to Mars.
And again, they awaited from Mercury the answers to the questions sent upward to Jupiter. The questions to Saturn were sent far out into the cosmic expanse, and the initiates knew that in this case the answers could be awaited from the heaven of the fixed stars only, or from what represented it in those olden times — the Zodiac itself.
What was the nature of these latter questions that were sent out into the universe by the ancient initiates, the answers to which they awaited? These answers were not the abstract, scientific truths connected with the structure of the universe, as I indicated just now; but the questions were those which the initiates wished to address directly to the divine-spiritual beings.
Thus they sent upward to Mars questions they had to put to the Angeloi, and awaited the answers from Venus. They sent upward to Jupiter questions addressed to the Archangeloi, awaiting the answers from Mercury. And to Saturn they addressed questions to be answered by the Archai, awaiting the answers from the Zodiac.
Whereas, therefore, direct converse was held with the cosmos in a more abstract, impersonal form, in the converse of which I am now speaking the initiates were conscious of speaking to actual beings, divine-spiritual beings, and of receiving utterances individually from them. In this way, therefore, decisions of will were received from the choir of the Angeloi, from the choir of the Archangeloi, from the choir of the Archai. The discourse between Sun and Moon and the initiates was concerned with the outer aspect of the cosmos; the discourse with the other planets and with the Zodiac was directed to the spiritual beings in the cosmos.
And so there was actual and continuous intercourse between man and the cosmos, not only concerning its outer structure, but also with the cosmic beings themselves. The old initiates knew that if, for example, they were directing their forces to Mars, it would not do merely to formulate and send out their cherished questions in terms of thought. Such questions reached only as far as the Sun and the answers came back from the Moon. When the ancient initiates wished to address questions to Mars, they were obliged to do it by composing aphoristic sayings, recitatives, mantras, which could also be declaimed. These, sent out into the universe, were the means whereby the Mars-forces were activated in such a way that the answers to the questions, coming back from Venus, were audible to a kind of inner hearing.
If it was desired to address questions to Jupiter, even the declamation of mantras did not suffice; in this case the performance of certain definite rites was necessary. And what streamed out into the universe from these rites in the form, shall we say, of cosmic thought, came back from Mercury in certain signs which the ancient initiates knew how to interpret. If they allowed themselves to be inspired by Venus they were able to interpret the corresponding signs; so, too, if they allowed themselves to be inspired by Mercury. These signs were infinitely varied. They meant nothing at all unless a man was inspired by Mercury. If he was inspired by Mercury, he knew: This or that event is an answer to a question asked by means of ritualistic acts.
In this way, happenings and processes in nature, and also those in history which otherwise appear to be nothing more than natural or historical processes, acquired definite content; they could as it were be read. Questions addressed to Saturn entailed very special difficulty, for actions lasting over a lengthy period of time were necessary before they could even be put as questions. In the ancient Mysteries this was as a rule arranged in such a way that the teachers in the Mysteries gave their pupils a certain mission to fulfill, a mission in which the life of the pupil was dedicated to some actual achievement. What it was incumbent upon these pupils to accomplish, often extending over a period of many years, constituted the questions put to the Saturn-existence. And the answers then came back from the Zodiac.
An actual and intimate participation in the cosmos and its happenings was achieved in those rites of prayer and meditation, and by other procedures carried out by the initiates and their pupils in the ancient Mysteries. Nor was anything accomplished in a short time; what took place in such Mysteries through the course of years consisted in unceasing acts of knowledge, and in acts by which the right impulses for the deeds of men were engendered.
Insight into such happenings also enables us to picture how the forces designated as those of Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Moon, Venus, and Mercury work upon man, and their significance for him. The significance of the Sun-forces is that they draw man's will-nature toward the Sun and after his death lead him out into the cosmos and thence into the spiritual world. The particular quality of the Moon-forces is that they instill into man the organic configuration which makes thinking and reflection possible; but they are also the forces which bear him back again when, coming down from the spiritual world, he must find his way through the spheres of ether to earthly incarnation.
We can speak in a similar way of the other forces, known by the names of the celestial bodies they represent, and of their effects upon man. As an example, let us take the Mercury-forces. These forces are not concentrated exclusively in the planet Mercury. They permeate the whole of space that is accessible to us, and the physical Mercury is merely a manifestation of the Mercury-forces in a concentrated mineral form.
Imagine the whole of our solar system filled with the Mercury-forces. They permeate all the bodies in the solar system, and naturally our own bodies as well; but at the point where Mercury appears in the heavens they are concentrated in a physical-mineral form and so are visible there.
The Venus-forces again are all-pervading. They are merely concentrated in a physical-mineral form at the definite point where Venus is seen. And so it is with all these forces. Speaking in accordance with the reality, we must say: Venus, Mercury, Moon, and the rest all interpenetrate, but their concentrations stand at different places in the heavens.
If we can gradually form a conception of this by perceiving how Mercury gives the answers for Jupiter, by learning to know Mercury, then we also acquire knowledge of what these Mercury-forces signify for man, in the unconscious realms of his life as well. To take a simple example: When we want to walk we must have certain forces by means of which, from out of the spirit, we permeate our bones and muscles. With our spirit-and-soul we have to penetrate into the physical, into the solid constituents of our body. That we are able to do this is due to the Mercury-forces.
It can therefore be said:
1. The effect of the Mercury-forces is that man can take hold of the solid constituents of his body. If there were no Mercury-forces in the world, we should be outside the solid constituents of our body all the time.
2. The Venus-forces enable man to take hold of the fluids in his body. You know that 90 per cent of you is a column of fluid. So if the Venus-forces were not in the world you would be obliged as beings of spirit to move around the outside of this column of fluid; you could not take hold of the fluids if the Venus-forces were not in the world.
3. The Moon-forces enable man to take hold of the aeriform element in his organism.
These things can be known by studying cosmology, but such study can advance to further stages. The ancient initiates pursued this kind of study, although their science was only primitive and their clairvoyance dreamlike. Let us say, for example, that from their cosmological studies they had discovered that the Venus-forces enable man to take hold of everything that is fluid in him. Then they waited until they came across someone in whom this inability to take hold of the fluids was evident — in other words, definite forms of illness were present. A very definite form of illness sets in when, for example, a man is unable to take hold of the fluid element even in a single organ only. In such a case these ancient initiates asked themselves: What kind of medicament must be administered? When a man was not properly interpolated into the Venus-forces — when, therefore, the fluids in his organism were not under sufficient control — the initiates realized that copper must be administered as a medicament. In finding that copper has the effect of enabling the soul-and-spirit to take hold of the body, that its effect is similar to that of the Venus-forces, they discovered that the nature of the forces in the metal copper is the same as the nature of those of the Venus-sphere. Hence they connected the metal copper with Venus. Or when illness was caused by a man's incapacity to take proper hold of the solid constituents of his organism, the ancient initiates found that mercury or quicksilver must be administered. In this way they established the parallelisms between the metals and the planets. The parallelisms are given in extant literature today; but it never occurs to anybody to ask: Why is copper related to Venus? — and so on. Nevertheless these things were the outcome of genuine investigation.
If, therefore, a man speaks out of real knowledge of copper as a means of healing, it is knowledge of the connection of the human being with the cosmos. To discover whether some metallic element found in a plant has a remedial effect in one respect or another, the whole relationship of this plant to the universe must be borne in mind. And from the plant's relationship to the universe, and again from the relationship of the universe to the human being, the insight comes to us of how the medicament can take effect.
The fact that there is a certain disinclination today to admit these things can be well understood. For the endeavor nowadays is to learn in four or five years — admittedly in a way somewhat open to question — everything that is needed in order to be able to heal. But because this is not possible, because we must forever be learning more, whereas the desire is to be fully qualified after these four or five years and there is unwillingness to admit that a great deal more remains to be learnt — that is why there is this aversion to something to which no end can be in sight. But the world itself is without end, not only in the extensive but also in the intensive sense, as that is usually understood.
Unlike the Mercury-, Venus-, and Moon-forces, the Mars-forces do not enable us to take hold of something, but they protect us from dissolving away in the element of warmth.
4. The Mars-forces protect us from the tendency to flow out and away in the element of warmth. If the Mars-forces were not present and functioning in the right way, man would have the constant tendency to dissolve in the warmth. The Mars-forces hold him together, guard him from this. This is a matter of supreme importance, for since the warmth in man's organism is greater than the warmth of his environment, he is in perpetual danger of flowing away in the element of warmth. To prevent this is of the very greatest importance. Therefore there must be a concentration of the Mars-forces in the human organism. And this is brought about through the presence of iron in man's blood. Iron contains forces that are identical with those of Mars and they hold man together in opposition to the tendency to dissolve away into the warmth.
The Jupiter- and Saturn-forces are not present in the human organism in this material form. They are there, but in a different form, not immediately detectable.
5. The Jupiter-forces. These forces protect man from dissolving away in the element of Light, in the Light-Ether. He would become an ever-expanding cloud of light if the Jupiter-forces were not present and at work.
6. The Saturn-forces. These forces protect man from dissolving in the Chemical Ether. Penetrating as they do into the human constitution, these Saturn-forces are connected, in a certain sense, with the innermost essence of man's nature. We speak of a “sour” or a “sweet” disposition, for example, more in a metaphorical sense. But these things are not merely metaphorical; if a human being makes an impression of sourness in the moral-physical sense, this has some connection with his chemical make-up. And the Saturn-forces have their share in this chemical make-up. The particular manner in which a human being gives expression to his nature as a whole depends upon the way in which Saturn is working in him.
A melancholic person has this particular temperament because he lives very strongly in his chemical constitution, in everything that seethes and is astir in the liver, in the bile, and even in the stomach; the melancholic temperament is therefore due to this living into the chemical make-up of the organism. And this characteristic again is due to the fact that in such a person the Saturn-forces work with particular strength.
The human being appears to be concentrated inside his skin, but this is only apparently so; in reality he is part and parcel of the whole cosmos, and it is possible to indicate in detail how the cosmos has its share in the formation of the human constitution.
Thus the planets near the Sun have to do more with the physical elements in man's organism: solid, fluid, aeriform. The planets distant from the Sun have to do more with the etheric elements in man s organism. Between the two groups of planets is the Sun itself. The forces of Mercury, Venus, and Moon bring the human being into connection with the solid, fluid, and aeriform elements. The forces of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn protect him from flowing away into the Warmth, Light, and Chemical Ethers. As you see, the effects are polaric. And the Sun stands between, preventing the two groups of planetary forces from interpenetrating. Suppose the Mars-forces were able to work without restraint — and they could do so on the Moon-forces, for example. If the Sun-forces were not placed in the middle, acting as a kind of dividing-wall which simply does not allow these forces to unite, the Mars-forces — which hold the human being together as an independent entity in the Warmth-element — would, it is true, still prevent him from flowing away into the Warmth; but this independent entity would then at once be obliged to take possession of the Air, and man would become a spectre of air. In order that both processes may take place, in order that man may take hold of the aeriform constituents in his organism but also live as an independent being in the Warmth-element, the two sets of forces, those of Mars and Moon, must be kept separated. And for this purpose the Sun stands between them.
This too was well known to the old initiates. If, for example, definite symptoms of illness appear in a man owing to the fact that the Mars-forces are working too strongly, so that they break through the Sun-element, with the result that the man is then living intensely in the aeriform organism because he is better able to take hold of it — in such a case the Mars-forces must be kept separate from the Moon-forces. And for this purpose aurum (gold) must be administered. To prevent the Mars-forces and Moon-forces from flowing into one another, the Sun-forces must be strengthened. In this way the remedial effect of aurum was discovered; its effect is to bring the organism again into harmonious balance, so that what ought not to flow away is kept in check.
From all this it will be evident to you that knowledge of the universe is not possible without knowledge of man, nor is knowledge of man possible without knowledge of the universe, above all in the domain where it is a matter of applying science in the art of healing.
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