Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The lyre of Apollo: our spinal cord with its attached nerve-strands


Rudolf Steiner:

The third or astral man who works in the ‘airy’ man, is apprehended not merely in pictures but in yet another way. If you advance further and further in meditation — I am here describing the Western process — you notice, after reaching a certain stage in your exercises, that your breath has become something palpably musical. You experience it as inner music; you feel as if inner music were weaving and surging through you. The third man — who is physically the airy man, spiritually the astral man — is experienced as an inner musical element. In this way you take hold of your breathing.

The oriental meditator did this directly by concentrating on his breathing, making it irregular in order to experience how it lives and weaves in man. He strove to take hold of this third man directly.

Thus we discover the nature of the third man, and are now at the stage when we can say: By deepening and strengthening our insight we learn, at first, to distinguish in man:

  1. the physical body which lives in solid forms on the earth and is also connected with the terrestrial kingdoms,
  2. the fluid man in whom an ever mobile, etheric element lives and which can only be apprehended in images (Bilder) — in moving, plastic images,
  3. the astral man who has his physical copy or image (Abbild) in all that constitutes the stream of inspired air.

This stream enters and takes hold of our inner organisation, expands, works, is transformed and streams out again. That is a wonderful process of becoming. We cannot draw it; we might do so symbolically, at most, but not as it really is. You could no more draw this process than you could draw the tones of a violin. You might do this symbolically; nevertheless you must direct your musical sense to hearing inwardly — i.e. you must attend with your inner, musical ear and not merely listen to the external tones. In this inward way you must hear the weaving of your breath — must hear the human astral body. This is the third man. We apprehend him when we attain to ‘empty consciousness’ and allow this to be filled with ‘inspirations’ from without.

Now language is really cleverer than men, for it comes to us from primeval worlds. There is a deep reason why breathing was once called inspiration. In general, the words of our language say much more than we, in our abstract consciousness, feel them to contain.

These are the considerations that can lead us to the three members of man — the physical, the etheric and the astral bodies — which find expression in the solid, fluid and airy ‘men’ and have their physical counterparts in the forms of the solid man, in the changing shapes of the fluid man and in that which permeates man as an inner music, experienced through feeling. The nervous system is indeed the most beautiful representation of this inner music. It is built from out of the astral body — from out of this inner music; and for this reason it has, at a definite part, the wonderful configuration of the spinal cord with its attached nerve-strands. All this together is a wonderful, musical structure that is continually working upwards into man's head.

A primeval wisdom that was still alive in Ancient Greece, felt the presence of this wonderful instrument in man. For the air assimilated through breathing ascends through the whole spinal cord. The air we breathe in ‘enters’ the cerebro-spinal canal and pulsates upwards towards the brain. This music is actually per-formed, but it remains unconscious; only the upper rebound is in consciousness. This is the lyre of Apollo, the inner musical instrument that the instinctive, primeval wisdom still recognised in man.

Source: February 1, 1924

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