Thursday, July 29, 2021

Macrocosm and Microcosm. Lecture 2: Big Clock, Little Clock: Our Sleeping and Waking Life in Relation to the Planets

Diagram 1


Rudolf Steiner, Vienna, March 22, 1910:

The relation between man's waking and sleeping states has been broadly described, and it was said that he draws from the latter the forces he needs during waking life in order to sustain his life of soul. These things are much more complicated than is generally supposed and today, as the result of spiritual research, there will be something more detailed to say about the difference between man's waking life and the state of sleep. Let me mention in parenthesis that there is no need to speak of all the hypotheses, some more interesting than others, that are advanced by present-day physiology in order to explain the difference between the two states. It would be easy to speak of these theories but this would only divert us from genuinely spiritual-scientific study of the two states. All that need be said is that modern science concerns itself only with the part of man which, during sleep, remains behind in the physical world. The fact that the Ego and astral body emerge from the physical and etheric bodies when man goes to sleep can be reality only to spiritual investigation, to the eyes of a seer. The whole process is completely foreign to modern physical science — which need not, however, be severely criticised on that account; in a certain respect it is justified in asserting a one-sided point of view. Man's Ego and astral body are in a spiritual world while he is asleep and in the physical world when he wakes and comes down into the physical and etheric bodies.

Let us now consider the sleeping human being. Quite naturally, normal human consciousness regards sleep as an undifferentiated state that is not a subject for further investigation. The question is rarely asked whether, during the time man spends at night in a spiritual world, an influence on his body-free soul is exerted by several forces, or by a single force only which permeates the spiritual world. Are we able to distinguish various forces to which he is exposed in that world during sleep? Yes, several quite different influences can be distinguished. The influences do not, of course, primarily affect the members that remain lying in bed, but they affect man as a being of soul when his astral body and Ego have emerged from his physical and etheric bodies.

By considering certain familiar experiences and facts we will now explore the different influences which are exerted upon the sleeping human being. A man has only to be more attentive to what happens to him when he goes to sleep and he will notice how the inner activity through which, during the day, he moves his limbs and brings his body into movement with the help of his soul, begins to flag. Anyone who practises a little self-observation at the time when he is about to go to sleep will feel that he can now no longer exercise the same control over his body. A kind of lethargy begins to overpower him. First of all he will feel incapable of directing the movement of his limbs by the will; control of speech is then lost. Then he feels that the possibility of entering into any connection with the outer world is slipping away from him, and all the impressions of the day gradually disappear. What disappears first is the ability to use the limbs and especially the instruments of speech, then the faculties of taste and smell, and finally of hearing. In this gradual cessation of the inner activity of the soul, man experiences the emergence from his bodily sheaths.

In saying this we have already indicated the first influence that is exerted upon man as a preliminary to sleep; it is the influence that drives him out of his physical and etheric bodies. Anyone who practises self-observation will notice how a power seems to be overcoming him, for in normal life he does not order himself to go to sleep, to stop speaking, tasting, hearing, and so forth. A power is now asserting itself in him. This is the first of the influences to be exerted from the world into which man passes at night; it is the influence which drives him out of his physical and etheric bodies. But if this were the only influence to be exerted, the outcome would be absolutely calm, unbroken sleep. This is of course known in normal life; it is the state induced by the first influence connected with sleep. But there are other kinds of sleep.

We all know the state of dream, when chaotic or clear pictures obtrude themselves into sleep. Were only the first influence at work, the influence that draws man into a spiritual world, sleep unbroken by any dream would be the result; but another influence becomes evident when sleep is broken by dreams. Two influences can be distinguished: the one extinguishes consciousness inasmuch as it drives us out of our bodily sheaths, and the second conjures the world of dreams before the soul, thrusts this dream-world into our sleep.

But some people have yet a third kind of sleep. Although this third kind occurs only rarely, everyone knows that it does occur; it is when a man begins to talk or act in sleep without the consciousness that is his in waking life. Usually he knows nothing the next day of the impulses which have driven him to such actions during sleep. The condition can be enhanced to the point of what is usually called sleepwalking. While he is walking in his sleep a man may also have certain dreams; but it is not so in the majority of cases; in a certain sense he acts like an automaton, impelled by obscure urges of which he need not have even the consciousness of dream. Through this third influence he enters into contact with the outer world as he does by day, only now he is unconscious. Such actions in sleep are therefore subject to a third influence.

Three influences, then, to which the human being is exposed during sleep can be clearly distinguished; they are always present, and spiritual investigation confirms this. In the great majority of people, however, the first influence predominates; most of their sleep is unbroken by dreams. The second influence, giving rise to the state of dream, takes effects at intervals in nearly everybody. But in by far the greater number of people these two states are so predominant that speaking and acting during sleep rarely occur. The influence that takes effect in a sleep-walker is present in every human being but in a sleep-walker this third influence is so strong in comparison with the other two that it gets the upper hand. Nevertheless every human being is liable to be exposed to all three influences.

These three influences have always been recognised in Spiritual Science as distinct from each other. In man's soul-life there are three domains, the first being mainly subject to the first influence, the second more to the second influence and the third more to the third influence. The human soul has a threefold nature, and it can be subject to influences of three distinct kinds. The part of the soul that is subject to the first influence which drives the soul out of the bodily sheaths, is known in Spiritual Science as the Sentient Soul; the part affected by the second influence which drives the pictures of dream into man's life of soul during sleep is known as the Intellectual or Mind-Soul; the third part, which in the case of most people does not assert its unique character during sleep because the other two influences predominate, is called the Consciousness or Spiritual Soul. Thus three influences are to be distinguished during the state of sleep; the three members of the soul which are subject to these three influences, are: Sentient Soul, Intellectual or Mind-Soul, Consciousness-or Spiritual Soul. When man is transported by one force into dreamless sleep, an influence from the world into which he passes is being exerted on his Sentient Soul; when his sleep is pervaded by dream-pictures, an influence is being exerted on his Intellectual or Mind-Soul; when he begins to speak or to act in his sleep, an influence is being exerted upon his Consciousness-Soul.

So far, however, we have considered only one aspect of man's life of soul during sleep. We must now describe the aspect of soul-life that is the opposite of the sleeping state. Let us think of a man who is returning from sleep to waking life in the physical world. What is happening to him when he wakes? At night a certain force is able to drive him out of his physical and etheric bodies because he succumbs to it. In later stages of sleep he succumbs to the other two influences — those that are exerted on the Mind-Soul and on the Consciousness-Soul. But when these influences have been exerted, the man is different; he undergoes a change during sleep. The evidence of the change is that at night he was fatigued but in the morning has become able to cope with his life in the physical world. What has happened to him during sleep has made this possible.

The same influence which makes itself felt in certain abnormal conditions in the dream-world is present through the whole of sleep, even when there are no dreams. The third influence, which takes effect in a sleep-walker but in other cases does not operate, is the one that is exerted on the Consciousness-Soul. When the influences on the Mind-Soul and Consciousness-Soul have taken effect, man is strengthened and energised; he has drawn from the spiritual world the forces he needs for his life during the next day in order to recognise and enjoy the physical world. It is primarily the influences exerted on the Mind-Soul and on the Consciousness-Soul which strengthen man during sleep. But when he is thus strengthened, the same influence which drove him out of his physical and etheric bodies brings him back again into them when he wakes in the morning. The same influence is being exerted then in the opposite direction, and it is exerted on the Sentient Soul. Everything connected with the Sentient Soul has become exhausted by the previous evening. But in the morning, when we are fresh again, we take renewed interest in the impressions of the physical world — colours, lights, objects — which will become causes of interest, pain or pleasure, inspire sympathy or antipathy in us. We are given up to pleasure, to pain, in short to the external world. What is it that is kindled in us when we are thus given up to the external world? What is it that feels pleasure and pain? What is it that has interests? It is the Sentient Soul. In the evening we feel the need of sleep, we feel that our lively participation in the outer world is exhausted; but in the morning it is refreshed again. We feel that the same manifestations of the Sentient Soul which flag at night, revive and reassert themselves in the morning. From this we can recognise that the same force which bore us out of ourselves brings the waking soul back again into the body. What at night seemed to be dying away is as if reborn. The same force is operating, but now in the one, now in the opposite, direction.

If we wished to make a diagrammatic sketch of what happens, it might be done in the following way, but I emphasise that it is meant only as an indication.

Diagram 1

I have indicated by a dot the moment of going to sleep, when man is drawn into the subconscious; and by drawing loops I have indicated his surrender to the state of sleep and his awakening from that state. The lower loop indicates the course of life during the waking state and the upper loop the sleeping state. We can therefore say of the moment of going to sleep that a force, working on the Sentient Soul from the spiritual world, is drawing us into that world. This is indicated by the first section of the upper loop in the diagram. The second section of the same loop indicates the influence that is exerted upon the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, causing dreams. And the third section of the loop indicates the influence or force that is exerted on the Consciousness-Soul. In the morning, the same force that has drawn us into the sleeping state drives us out of it and into the life of day. This is the force that works upon the Sentient Soul. The same applies to the influences exerted on the Mind-Soul and on the Consciousness-Soul. During the night man moves around a kind of circle. On going to sleep he moves towards the region where the influence upon the Consciousness-Soul is strongest. From that point he moves again towards the force that works upon his Sentient Soul and brings him back into the waking state.

Thus there are three forces which work upon man during sleep. Since early times these three forces have been given definite names in spiritual science. These names are familiar to you, but I beg you now not to think of anything in connection with them except that they stand for the three forces which during sleep work upon these three parts of the human soul. It we were to go back to ancient times we should find that these designations were used originally for these three forces; and if the designations are now used in other ways, they have simply been borrowed. The force which works upon the Sentient Soul and at the times of going to sleep and waking drives man out of his bodily sheaths and eventually into them again, was designated in one of the ancient languages by a name that would correspond with the word “Mars”. The force which works upon the Mind-Soul after the man has gone to sleep and again before waking, that is to say, in two different periods, was designated by the word “Jupiter.” It is the force which drives the world of dreams into the Mind-Soul. The force which works upon the Consciousness-Soul during sleep and under special circumstances would make a man into a sleep-walker, was designated by the name “Saturn.”

We may therefore say, using the terminology of ancient spiritual science: “Mars” sends man to sleep and wakes him; “Jupiter” sends dreams into his sleep; and dark “Saturn” stirs into unconscious action during sleep a man who cannot withstand its influence. For the time being we will think of the original, spiritual significance of these names as denoting forces that work upon the human being during sleep, when he is outside his physical and etheric bodies in the spiritual world, not of their significance in astronomy.

Now what happens when man wakes in the morning? He actually enters a quite different world which he normally regards today as the only one belonging to him. Impressions from outside are made upon his senses, but he is unable to look behind these impressions. When he wakes from sleep, the whole tapestry of the sense-world lies outspread before him. But not only does he perceive this external world with his senses; together with every perception he feels something. However slight the pleasurable sensation may be on perceiving, for example, some colour, nevertheless a certain inner process is always present. All external sense-perceptions work in such a way that they give rise to certain inner states; everyone will realise that the effect of violet is different from that of green. It is the Sentient Body that enables the sense-impressions to be received; it causes men to see yellow, for example; but what we experience and feel inwardly as a result of the impressions made upon us by the red, violet or yellow colour — that is caused by the Sentient Soul. A fine distinction must be made between these functions of the Sentient Body and the Sentient Soul.

In the morning the Sentient Soul begins to be given up to the impressions of the outer world brought to it by the Sentient Body. The part of us (Sentient Soul) which during sleep was exposed to the Mars influence is given over on waking to the external world of the senses. Spiritual science again gives a special name to the whole of the external sense-world in so far as it arouses certain feelings of pleasure or pain, joy or sadness in our souls. But under that name we must think only of the influence working upon our Sentient Soul from the tapestry of the outer world of the senses; this force does not let us remain cold and impassive but fills us with certain feelings. So that just as the first influence exerted on the Sentient Soul after we go to sleep is given the name of Mars, the influence which takes effect on waking is called the force of “Venus”.

Similarly, an influence from the physical world is exerted during waking life upon the Intellectual or Mind-Soul when it is within the bodily sheaths. This is a different influence; it is the influence which enables us to withdraw from external impressions and to work upon them inwardly, to reflect upon them. Notice the difference there is between the experiences of the Sentient Soul and those of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul. The Sentient Soul has experiences only as long as a man is given up to the outer world; it receives the impressions of the outer world. But if for a time in waking life he pays no attention to the actual impressions of the outer world, if he ponders over them and lets the feelings of pleasure, pain, and so forth, merely echo on within him, then he is given over to his Mind-Soul. Compared with the Sentient Soul it has rather more independence. There are influences which enable a man during waking life not merely to stand gazing at the tapestry of the sense-world but to turn his attention away from all that, to form thoughts whereby he combines external impressions in his mind and enable him to make himself independent of the influences of the outer world. These are the influences of “Mercury.”

The influence of Mercury works during the day upon man's Intellectual or Mind-Soul just as the influence of Jupiter works upon it during sleep at night. You will notice that there is a certain correspondence between the influences of “Mercury” and of “Jupiter”. [* See, Human Questions and Cosmic Answers, lecture 2.] In the case of a normal person today the Jupiter influences penetrate into his life of soul as dream-pictures. The corresponding influences during waking life, the Mercury influences, work in a man's thoughts, in his inner, reflective experiences. When the Jupiter influences are working in a man's dreams, he does not know whence his experiences come; during waking consciousness, however, when the Mercury influences are working, he knows the source of them. In both cases, inner processes are being pictured in the soul. — Such is the correspondence between the influences of Jupiter and those of Mercury.

In the waking life of day there are also influences which work upon the Consciousness-Soul. What are the differences between Sentient Soul, Intellectual or Mind-Soul, and Consciousness-Soul? The Sentient Soul operates when we are merely gazing at the things of the external world. If we withdraw our attention for a time from the impressions of this outer world and work over them inwardly, then we are given over to the Mind-Soul. But if we now take what has been worked over in thought, turn again to the outer world and relate ourselves to it by passing over to deeds, then we are given over to the Consciousness-Soul. For example: As long as I am simply looking at these flowers in front of me and my feelings are moved by the pure whiteness of the rose, I am given up to my Sentient Soul. If, however, I avert my gaze and no longer see the flowers but only think about them, then I am given over to my Intellectual or Mind-Soul. I am working in thought upon the impressions I have received. If now I say to myself that because the flowers have given me pleasure I will gladden someone else by presenting them to him and then pick them up in order to hand them over, I am performing a deed; I am passing out of the realm of the Mind-Soul into that of the Consciousness-Soul and relating myself again to the outer world. Here is a third force which operates in man and enables him not only to work over in thought the impressions of the outer world, but to relate himself to that world again.

You will notice that there is again a correspondence between the activity of the Consciousness Soul in the waking state and in sleep. You have heard that when this influence is being exerted in sleep a man becomes a sleep-walker; he speaks and acts in his sleep. In the waking state, however, he acts consciously. At night, in sleep-walking he is impelled by the force of dark “Saturn.” The influence which during waking life works upon man's Consciousness-Soul in such a way that independence can be achieved in conditions of ordinary life, is called in Spiritual Science the force of the “Moon”. Here again, please forget whatever mental pictures you have hitherto connected with this word. You will presently understand the reason for these designations.

Thus we have found that man's soul in waking life and in sleep has three different members, that it is subject to three different influences. During the night when man is in the spiritual world he is subject to the forces designated in Spiritual Science as those of “Mars”, “Jupiter” and “Saturn”; his threefold life of soul by day is given over to the forces designated as those of “Venus”, “Mercury” and “Moon”.

This is the course traversed by man in the 24 hours of day and night. And now we will think of a series of phenomena which belong to a quite different domain but which for certain reasons can be studied in connection with what has been said. These reasons will be made clear as the lectures proceed. Please remember that many things said at the beginning of this Course will be explained only at a later stage.

You are all familiar with the ideas held by modern astronomical science of the course of the Earth around the Sun and also of the other planets belonging to the solar system. What is said in treatises of the usual kind represents, in the view of Spiritual Science, only the most elementary beginning. What takes place in the physical world is for Spiritual Science a symbol, an external picture, of inner, spiritual processes and what we are accustomed to learn about our planetary system from elementary astronomy can be compared, as regards what really underlies it, with what is learnt by a child about the movements of a clock. We explain to him what the twelve conventional figures stand for, and what the rotation of the two hands — one slow and the other quicker — means. The child will eventually be able to tell us from the position of the hands when, let us say, the time is half-past nine. But that would not mean very much. The child must learn a great deal more, for example, to relate the movement of the hands to what is happening in the world. When the hour-hand stands at six and the minute-hand at twelve, he must know what time of the day this signifies — namely that at a certain season of the year, if it is early morning, the Sun will be rising then. He must learn to relate what is presented on the face of the clock to conditions in the world and to regard what the clock expresses as a picture of them.

We are taught as children that the Sun is at the centre of the solar system and that the planets revolve around it-first the planet now called Mercury, then the planet now called Venus, [*In former times the names of these two planets came to be reversed. See later paragraphs of this lecture.] then the Earth plus Moon, then Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Astronomical maps of the heavens show us where Saturn or Jupiter or Mars are to be found in certain months of the year. When we have learnt to know the relative positions of the planets at definite times of the year, we have learnt as much about the heavens as a child has learnt about the clock when from the position of the hands he is able to say that the time is half-past nine.

But then we can go on to learn something else. Just as a child learns to recognise what conditions are indicated by the position of the hands of a clock, we can learn to recognise macrocosmic forces penetrating invisibly into space behind a great cosmic timepiece. We realise then that our solar system, with the planets in their different positions and mutual relationships, gives expression to certain macrocosmic powers. From this timepiece of our planetary system we can pass on to contemplate the great spiritual relationships. The position of every planet will become the expression of something lying behind and we shall be able to say that there are reasons for the various relationships in which, for example, Venus stands to Jupiter, and so on. There are actual reasons for saying that these conditions are brought about by divine-spiritual Powers, just as there are reasons for saying that the cosmic timepiece is constructed according to a definite plan. The idea of the planetary movements in the solar system then becomes full of significance. Otherwise the cosmic timepiece would seem to have been constructed haphazardly. The planetary system becomes for us a kind of cosmic clock, a means of expression for what lies behind the heavenly bodies and their movements in the solar system.

Let us first of all consider this cosmic clock itself. The idea of the planetary system having formed itself is easily refuted. You will all have been taught in school about the formation of the planetary system. You will have been told, in effect, that a gigantic nebula in the universe once began to rotate and then the Sun, with the planets around it, were formed by a process of separation from the nebula itself. This will probably have been demonstrated by an experiment. It is easy to rotate a drop of oil on the surface of water in a bowl. Tiny drops separate off and rotate around a larger drop which remains at the centre. The teacher will point out that this represents, on a minute scale, the formation of a planetary system and nobody will question it. But a sharp-witted pupil might say to the teacher: “You have forgotten something that in other circumstances it might be convenient to forget, but not in this case. You have forgotten your own part in the experiment because it is you who have rotated the drop of oil!” — For the sake of logic the most important factor of all should not be forgotten. It should at least be assumed that a colossal power in cosmic space brought the whole solar system into existence through rotation. The experiment in itself points to the fact that there must be something behind what is rotating; it points to the existence of forces which cause the movement that is perceptible to the eye. In the same way there are forces and Powers behind the great cosmic edifice of our solar system.

And now we will think of the outer aspect of this solar system. (See diagram). The Earth revolves around the Sun

Diagram 2

at the centre. I will leave out details. At a certain time of the year the Earth stands at one point and at another time somewhere else. The Moon revolves around the Earth and the planets usually called Mercury and Venus are nearer to the Sun and revolve around it. I emphasise here that in the course of time a change has taken place in the names of these two planets. [* This change of names must be kept closely in mind when references are made to the two planets.] The planet that is called Mercury today was formerly called Venus, and the planet called Venus today was formerly called Mercury. Venus, (formerly Mercury) is nearer the Sun than the planet now called Mercury (formerly Venus). Then, farther away than the Earth, the diagram indicates Mars, Jupiter and Saturn revolving around the Sun. The relative positions are not strictly correct but that does not matter here. We will leave the other planets out of consideration today.

Now let us assume that as it revolves the Earth comes to a position between Mars and the Sun. This will very seldom be the case but we will assume for the moment that it is so. Then, in the space between Earth and Sun there will be the planets Mercury and Venus, and on the other side of the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Leaving aside the Earth, the sequence will be: Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, on one side; Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, on the other. A looped line (see diagram) drawn around the heavenly bodies is a lemniscate,

Diagram 3

with the Sun at the centre of the loops-it is the same line as the one indicating the cycle of man's waking and sleeping life.

Thus it is possible — though not generally the case — for the planets to be arranged in the solar system in an order similar to that followed by man in completing the cycle of waking and sleeping. Taking the moment of going to sleep and that of waking as the centre, the same spatial order can be indicated for the planetary system as for the daily life of man.

The perspective here revealed is one of mighty forces underlying the order of our planetary system, regulating the great cosmic timepiece as our own lives are regulated through the course of 24 hours. The thought will then not seem absurd that mighty forces are operating in the Macrocosm — forces analogous to those which guide our lives during the day and night. As the outcome of such thoughts the same names came into use in ancient science for the forces of the universe as for the forces which work upon our own lives. The force which in the Macrocosm drives Mars around the Sun is similar to the one that sends us to sleep. The force in the Macrocosm which drives Venus around the Sun is similar to the one which regulates the Sentient Soul by day. Far-off Saturn, with its slight influence, seeing to resemble those weak forces that work, in special cases only, upon the Consciousness-Soul in people who are sleep-walkers. And the rotation of the Moon around the Earth is due to a force similar to that which regulates our conscious deeds in waking life. The spatial distances signify something that comes to expression in a certain respect in our own time-regulated life. — We shall go into these things more deeply and it is only a matter today of calling attention to them. — If we consider, quite superficially, that Saturn is the most remote planet and has accordingly the weakest effect upon our Earth, this can be compared with the fact that the forces of dark Saturn have only a slight effect upon the sleeping human being. And similarly, the force which drives Jupiter around the Sun can be likened to that which penetrates comparatively seldom into our lives, namely, the dream-world.

Thus we find a remarkable correlation between human life, the Microcosm, and the forces working in the great cosmic clock, driving the several planets round the Sun in the Macrocosm.

In very truth the world is infinitely more complicated than is supposed. Our human nature is comprehensible only if we take account of its kinship with the Macrocosm. Knowing this, spiritual researchers in all epochs have chosen corresponding designations for the Great World and the Little World — the latter being the seemingly insignificant bodily man enclosed within the skin.

I have only been able today to give a faint indication of correspondences between the Microcosm (man) and the Macrocosm (the solar system). But it will now be evident to you that such correspondences do indeed exist. As though from afar I have alluded to Beings whose forces work through space and regulate the movements of our planetary system just as the movements of the hands of a clock in the physical world are regulated. We have only so much as glanced at the frontier of the region where we may hope that spiritual worlds will reveal themselves to us. In the coming lectures we shall learn to recognise not only the planets as the hands of the great cosmic clock but also the actual Beings who have brought the whole solar system into movement, who guide the planets round the Sun and prove to be akin to what goes on in the human being himself. And so we shall come to understand how man is born as a Little World, a Microcosm, out of the Great World, the Macrocosm.


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