Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, May 2, 1920:
I drew attention yesterday to the fact that what is present in man points to something correspondingly present in the Cosmos outside him. What we have now to notice especially in man is the relation of the head to a world beyond the Earth — a world that lies outside the world upon which the rest of the human organism is dependent. The head points clearly to the world through which we passed between death and rebirth, its whole organisation being so modeled that it forms a distinct echo of our sojourn in the spiritual world. Now let us look for the corresponding phenomenon in the Cosmos.
We need only compare the behaviour of Saturn, who stands far out in the Universe, with that of the Earth, to notice a certain difference. Astronomy recognises this difference by saying that Saturn goes round the Sun in 30 years, the Earth in one year. We will not now stop to discuss whether these assertions are correct or whether they show a superficial view. We will only point to the fact that the observation which can be gained by following Saturn in cosmic space and comparing the rapidity of his progress with that of the Earth, brings us to the conclusion that according to the astronomical system of Copernicus and Kepler, Saturn needs 30 years and the Earth only one year, in which to go round the Sun. Looking at Jupiter, we assign to him a revolution lasting 19 years. Much shorter is that of Mars. And when we come to the other planets, Venus and Mercury, we find that they have even shorter periods of rotation than the Earth. All these conclusions are obviously well thought out, worked out on the basis of observations made in one way or another.
I have pointed out that we only gain a clear insight into these things by comparing what takes place in the far distances of cosmic space with what goes on within the boundary of our skin, in our own organism. Reflect for a moment and you will find that what is called the period of rotation of the Earth round the Sun, corresponds to something in yourself. In the foregoing lecture we showed that in order to represent the daily series of events, we have to use a certain curve, a certain line that turns back upon itself. In a similar way must the curved line corresponding to the yearly motion of the Earth be imagined. It is quite immaterial whether man's view is that the movement of the Earth is at the same time a movement round the Sun or no; for what have we here? Let us think. We have our own daily cycle of life, which we will consider now, not in its correspondence to the Cosmos, but as it presents itself in man, so that we can also include those whose sleeping and waking do not correspond with the alternation of day and night — idlers as well as all those who do not live by rule! Let us consider this daily round of man on the basis already established, that is to say, representing it in thought as a line in which the points of sleeping and waking lie upon one another, as I have pointed out. There are many reasons, but one will suffice for an unprejudiced judgement to understand that we are bound to place the point of waking over that of falling asleep. Consider the remarkable fact that when we look back over our life, it appears to us as an unbroken stream. We do not feel compelled to regard life in such a way as to say: Today I have lived and have been conscious of my environment from the moment of waking; before that all was darkness; before that again, my falling asleep of yesterday was preceded by life, I lived again, back to the moment of waking; but then darkness again. You do not picture the stream of memory like this, you picture it so that the moment of awaking and the moment of falling asleep really unite in your conscious recollection. That is a plain fact. This fact can be expressed in that the curve representing the daily round in man comes out as a spiral, with the point of awaking always crossing the point of falling asleep. If the curve were an ellipse or a circle, then awaking and falling asleep would have to be separate, they could not possibly be joined. In this way alone therefore can we picture the daily round of man.
Now let us try to see exactly what this means in man himself. Your waking time runs from your awaking to your falling asleep. During that time you are a physical human being, and you are moreover a complete human being, possessing physical body, etheric body, astral body and Ego. Now consider your condition from falling asleep until awaking. Then you have only physical body and etheric body. You are physical man, but you are not man; you have only physical body and etheric body. Strictly speaking, such a thing should not be. Your physical body and etheric body become really an untruth, for a being so composed should be a plant. It is the remainder of the whole man, left behind when the Ego and astral body have gone away; and only by virtue of the fact that these will return before the physical and etheric bodies can actually reach the plant stage — it is only because of this that you do not die every night.
Now let us examine what is left lying on the bed. What happens with it? It suddenly becomes of the nature of the plant. Its life is comparable to what takes place on Earth from the moment when plants sprout in spring until the autumn, when they die down. The plant-nature springs up and puts forth leaf in man, so to say, from falling asleep to awaking. He is then like the Earth in summer; and when the Ego and astral body return and man awakes, he becomes like the Earth in winter. So that we may say that the time between awaking and falling asleep is our winter, and that between falling asleep and awaking is our summer. For the year of the Cosmos — in so far as the Earth is part of it — corresponds with man's day. The Earth wakes in winter and sleeps in summer. The summer is the Earth's sleeping time, the winter her waking time. Outer perception obviously gives a false analogy, presenting summer as the Earth's waking time and winter as her time of sleeping. The reverse is the case, for during sleep we resemble the blossoming, sprouting plant-life; like the Earth in summer. When our Ego and astral body re-enter our physical and etheric bodies, it is as though the summer sun withdrew from the plant-laden Earth and the winter sun began to work. Thus the whole year is at different times represented in any one part of the Earth's surface. The case of the Earth is different from that of the individual man, but only apparently so. In respect to the Earth, in whichever part of it we may dwell, a year's course corresponds to the daily course of the individual man. The course of a year in the Cosmos corresponds to a man's day.
Thus we have the direct fact that when we look up to the Cosmos, we have to say: A year — that is for the Cosmos sleeping and waking; and if our Earth is the head of the Cosmos, it expresses in winter the waking of the Cosmos, and in summer its sleeping. If we now consider the Cosmos, which as we see manifests waking and sleeping — for the plant-covering of the Earth is an outcome of cosmic working — we shall find that we have to think of it as a great organism. We must think of what takes place in its members as organically fitted into the whole Cosmos, just as what takes place in one of our own members is fitted into our organism. And here we come to the significance of the difference expressed by astronomy in the shorter periods of Venus' and Mercury's revolutions as compared with the longer periods of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. When we consider the so-called outer planets, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, then the Sun, Mercury, Venus and the Earth, we find this apparently long period of revolution in the case of the outer planets stretching beyond a year, thus beyond the mere waking time. Let us consider Saturn with his 30-year period, the apparent time of his revolution round the Sun; how can we express his 30 years in the language of the Cosmos according to which its daily revolution is a year? If a year is the daily revolution of the Cosmos, then the so-called period of Saturn's revolution is approximately 30 days, a cosmic month, a cosmic four weeks. Thus we may say that if we regard Saturn as the outermost planet (the other two, Uranus and Neptune, regarded today as of equal standing with Saturn, are really fugitives that have wandered in), then we must say that Saturn bounds our Cosmos; and, in his apparent slowness, in his limping behind the Earth, we behold the life of the Cosmos in 4 weeks or a month, as compared to the life it displays in the course of the year, which for the Cosmos is like a falling asleep and awaking.
From this it may be seen that Saturn, if his apparent path is regarded as the outermost limit of our planetary system, is inwardly related to it in a different way from, let us say Mercury; Mercury needing less than 100 days for his apparent revolution, moves quickly, he is active inwardly, he has a certain celerity; whereas Saturn moves slowly.
To what exactly does this correspond? In the movement of Saturn you have something comparatively slow, in that of Mercury something that is very much quicker, an inner activity of the cosmic organism, something that stirs the Cosmos inwardly. It is as if you had, let us say, a kind of living, mucilaginous organism, itself revolving, but having besides within it an organ which is revolving more quickly. Mercury separates itself from the movement of the whole by its quicker revolution. It is, as it were, an enclosed member; so too is the movement of Venus. Here we have something analogous to the relation of the head in man to the rest of his organism. The head separates itself off from the movements of the rest of the organism. Venus and Mercury emancipate themselves from the movement set by Saturn. They go their own way; they vibrate in the whole system. What does this signify? They have something extra as compared with the whole system; their more rapid movement shows this. What is the corresponding thing to this extra in our head? Our head has something extra, namely its co-ordination to the super-sensible world; only, our head is at rest in our organism, just as we are at rest in a coach or a railway carriage, while it is moving. Venus and Mercury act differently; they do the exact opposite as regards their emancipation. Whereas our head is quiescent, like we are when we sit still in a railway carriage, Venus and Mercury emancipate themselves from the whole planetary system in the opposite way. It is as though we, sitting in the railway carriage, were impelled by something to move all the time much faster than the railway train itself. This is due to the fact that Venus and Mercury, which show a much quicker apparent movement, are related on their past not to space alone, but to that to which our head is also related; only these relations take opposite courses — our head being brought to rest, Venus and Mercury on the other hand becoming more active. They are the two planets through which our planetary system has a relation to the super-sensible world. They incorporate our planetary system into the Cosmos in a different way than do Jupiter and Saturn. Our planetary system is spiritualised through Venus and Mercury, more intimately adapted to the spiritual Powers than happens through Jupiter and Saturn.
Things that are real often appear quite differently when studied in accordance with true reality instead of in accordance with generally received opinion. Just as, when we judge externally, we call winter the sleeping time of the Earth, and summer her waking time, whereas it is the reverse; in the same way, judging externally, Saturn and Jupiter might be regarded as more spiritual than Venus and Mercury. This is not the case; for Venus and Mercury stand in more intimate relation to something behind the whole Cosmos than do Jupiter and Saturn. Thus we may say that in Venus and Mercury we have something which places us outwardly, as a member of the planetary system, in relation to a super-sensible world. Here, while we live, we are brought into connection with a super-sensible world through Venus and Mercury. We might say: When we are incorporated by birth into the physical world, we are carried into it by Saturn and Jupiter; while we live from birth to death, Venus and Mercury work within us and prepare us to carry our super-sensible part back again through death into the super-sensible world. In fact, Mercury and Venus have just as much share in our immortality after death as Jupiter and Saturn have in our life before death. It is really so, we have to see something in the Cosmos which corresponds to the relation between the comparatively more spiritual organisation of the head and the rest of the human organisation.
Now let us suppose that Saturn pursues his movement also in a like curve (lemniscate) — only, of course, his path is different through cosmic space — with the 30 times less rapid movement than the Earth; if we picture these two curves, we must realise that each Cosmic body which follows such a path (lemniscate) is obviously moved in this path by forces, but each one by forces of a different kind. Then we come to an idea which is extremely important and which, if taken rightly, will probably at once strike you as true. If it does not, it is only because, under the influence of the materialism of the last centuries, people are not accustomed to connect such things with the facts of the Universe.
To the modern materialistic view of the Cosmos, Saturn is observed merely as a body moving about in cosmic space; and the same with the other planets. This is not the case; for if we take Saturn, the outermost Planet of our Universe, we must represent him as the leader of our planetary system in cosmic space. He directs our system in space. He is the body for the outermost force which leads us round in the lemniscate in cosmic space. He is the driver and the horse at the same time. Saturn is thus the force in the outermost periphery. Were he alone to work, we should continually move in a lemniscate. But there are other forces in our planetary system which show a more intimate adjustment to the spiritual world — the forces that we find in Mercury and Venus. Through these forces our path is continually raised. Thus, when we look upon the path from above, we have the lemniscate, but when we look at it from the other side, we obtain lines which are continually rising upwards; there is a progression.
This progression corresponds in man to the fact that during sleep what we have taken into us, though it may not pass over at once into consciousness, is elaborated; during sleep we work upon it. It is principally during sleep that we work on what we have absorbed through our life, our training and education. During sleep Mercury and Venus communicate that to us. They are our most important night-planets, as Jupiter and Saturn are our most important day-planets. Hence the old instinctive atavistic wisdom was right in connecting Jupiter and Saturn with the formation of the human head, Mercury and Venus with the formation of the human trunk, with the rest of the organism. These things arose from an intimate knowledge of the connection between man and the Universe.
Now I will ask you carefully to consider the following. It is first of all necessary to understand from inner grounds the movement of the Earth. We must recognise the influence upon it of the Venus and Mercury forces, which themselves bear the lemniscate on further, so that it progresses, and its axis becomes itself a lemniscate. We have thus for the Earth an extremely complicated movement. And now I come to what I wish to point out. Suppose we have to draw this movement. Astronomy tries to do so. Astronomy wants to have a planetary system; it wants to draw the solar system and explain it by calculation. Planets such as Venus and Mercury, however, have relation to the extra-spatial, the super-sensible, the spiritual, to that which does not originally belong in space, but has, as it were, come into it. Thus if you have the paths of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and, in the same space, draw in also the paths of Mercury and Venus, you will get at most a projection of the Mercury or of the Venus orbit, but in no sense the orbits themselves. If we employ the three-dimensional space to sketch in the orbits of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, we come at most to a boundary, where we get something like a path of the Sun. But if we wish to draw the others, we can no longer do so in the three-dimensional space, we can only get shadow-pictures of these other movements in it; we cannot draw the path of Venus and that of Saturn in the same space. From this we see that all delineations of the solar system where the same space is used for Saturn as for Venus, are only approximate, they do not suffice for a solar system. Such drawings are as little possible as it would be to explain the whole being of man according to purely natural forces only. This shows why no solar system is adequate. A non-astronomer such as Johannes Schlaf could easily prove to quite well-established astronomers the impossibility of their solar system by very simple facts, pointing out that if the Sun and the Earth are so related that the latter revolves round the former, the Sun-spots could not show themselves as they do, the Earth being at one time behind the Sun, at another in front, and then going round it again. That, however, is in no wise the case. No drawing of our solar system that is inscribed into one space of the ordinary three dimensions will be right. We must understand this. Just as in the case of man, in order to understand him as a whole we must pass from physical to super-sensible forces; so in the same way, to understand the solar-system, we must pass from the three dimensions into other dimensions. That is to say, we cannot delineate the ordinary solar system in the three-dimensional space. Planetary ‘globes’ and so forth we have to look at in this way: If here we have Saturn on the globe and there Mercury, then it is not the true Mercury but its shadow only, its projection.
These are things that must be brought to light by Spiritual Science. They have quite disappeared. About six or seven centuries before the Christian era, the ancient primeval wisdom began gradually to disappear, until replaced by Philosophy from the middle of the fifteenth century. But men such as Pythagoras, for instance, still knew so much of the ancient wisdom that they could say: We dwell on the Earth, we belong through the Earth to a cosmic system, to which Jupiter and Saturn also belong; but if we remain in these three dimensions, then we shall not belong in the same way to Venus and Mercury. We cannot belong to the two latter directly, as we do to Saturn and Jupiter; but if our Earth is in one space with Saturn and Jupiter, there must be a ‘counter-Earth’ which is in another space with Venus and Mercury. Hence ancient astronomers spoke of the Earth and the counter-Earth. Of course the modern materialist would say: “Counter-Earth? I see nothing of that!” He is like a person who weighs a man, having first charged him to think about nothing, and weighs him again when he has charged him to think a specially clever thought, and then says: I have weighed him, but I have not found the weight of his thought. Materialism rejects what has no weight or cannot be seen. Remarkable things however shine out of the atavistic primeval wisdom to which we can return by the inner vision of Spiritual Science. It is of urgent necessity that we should work our way through now to that which is entirely new and which has yet been on Earth all the time, and has only now in these days to be acquired in full consciousness. Unless we do, this we shall lose the very possibility of thinking.
I called attention yesterday to the fact that in social thought men strive for mono-metalism for the sake of free trade-and Protection comes! No true social order will arise out of what is being striven for on the foundation the thinking man possesses To-day; a true social order can only come about through a thinking trained in a science which does not draw a planisphere showing Saturn and Venus in the same space. For the view of the Universe which we are giving here does not merely mean that we hold something up before us, but also that, in a sense, we learn to think. What exactly does this mean?
Remember what I have said: When our bodily organisation is remodeled in the next incarnation, it not only goes through a change, but is turned inside out; as a glove is turned from a left-hand to a right-hand glove by turning it inside out so too what is now inside — liver, heart, kidneys — becomes the outer sense-organs, eye, ear and so on. It is all turned inside out. This corresponds to another turning inside out: Saturn on the one side, and wholly outside his space, Venus and Mercury. A reversal in itself. If we do not observe this, what happens? It is the same, when we do not observe the turning inside out in the case of the human head, or when we do not observe the Universe under this law of reversal; we do something very peculiar. We do not in that case think with our head at all. And this is something to which the fifth post-Atlantean epoch is tending, in so far as it is descending and not seeking to ascend again by means of Spiritual Science. Man would like to wrest his head free and think only with the rest of the organism; that mode of thought is abstract. He wants to set free the head. He has no desire to lay claim to what has resulted from the foregoing incarnations. He wants to reckon only with the present one. Not only do men wish to deny the theory of successive Earth-lives, but carrying their head as it were with external dignity, they would like to set it as lord over the rest of the organism, they would have it like a man riding in a carriage. And they do not take that rider in the carriage in earnest; they carry him about with them, but make no claim upon his innate capacities. They make no practical use of their repeated Earth-lives.
This tendency has virtually been developing ever since the beginning of the 5th post-Atlantean epoch, and we can only oppose it by adopting Spiritual Science. One might even define Spiritual Science as that which brings man to take his head in earnest once more! From one point of view the essential part in Spiritual Science is really that it takes the human head in earnest, not merely regarding it as an addition to the rest of the organism. Europe especially, as it so rapidly approaches barbarism, would like to free the head. Spiritual Science must disturb this sleep. It must make its appeal to humanity: ‘Use your heads!’ This can only be done by taking the belief in repeated Earth-lives seriously.
One cannot talk of Spiritual Science in the way that is usually done, if one takes it in earnest. One must say what is; and to what is belongs something which appears as sheer madness, belongs the fact that men disown their heads. They would rather not believe this, they prefer to regard truth as madness. This has always been so. Things in human evolution come about in such a way that men are taken unawares by the new.
And so they must of course be shocked and astonished by this emphasis on the necessity for using the head. Lenin and Trotsky say: Do not use your head, act for the rest of your organism. The rest of the organism is the vehicle of the instincts. Men are to be led by instincts alone. And they carry it out. It is their practice that nothing that arises from the human head should enter the modern Marxist theories. These things are very serious — how serious they are has to be emphasised again and again.
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