Thursday, April 28, 2022

Don't let the bastards grind you down : From Nature to Subnature. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #183, #184, #185

Rudolf Steiner:  "The whole of the period since the middle of the nineteenth century has been a period of stupefaction through the impressions received by the senses. It is the great illusion of this age that the over-powerful life of the senses has been considered to be the right one — that life of the senses whose aim was to obliterate completely the life in the Cosmos beyond the Earth."

Rudolf Steiner: 

The Age of Philosophy is often said to have been superseded, about the middle of the nineteenth century, by the rising Age of Natural Science. And it is said that the Age of Natural Science still continues in our day, although many people are at pains to emphasize at the same time that we have found our way once more to certain philosophic tendencies.
All this is true of the paths of knowledge which the modern age has taken, but not of its paths of life. With his conceptions and ideas, man still lives in Nature, even if he carries the mechanical habit of thought into his Nature-theories. But with his life of Will he lives in the mechanical processes of technical science and industry to so far-reaching an extent that it has long imbued this Age of Science with an entirely new quality.
To understand human life we must consider it to begin with from two distinct aspects. From his former lives on Earth, man brings with him the faculty to conceive the Cosmic — the Cosmic that works inward from the Earth's encircling spheres, and that which works within the Earth domain itself. Through his senses he perceives the Cosmic that is at work upon the Earth; through his thinking organization he conceives and thinks the Cosmic influences that work downward to the Earth from the encircling spheres.
Thus man lives, through his physical body in Perception, through his etheric body in Thought.
That which takes place in his astral body and his ego holds sway in the more hidden regions of the soul. It holds sway, for example, in his destiny. We must, however, look for it, to begin with, not in the complicated relationships of destiny, but in the simple and elementary processes of life.
Man connects himself with certain earthly forces, in that he gives his body its right orientation within them. He learns to stand and walk upright; he learns to place himself with arms and hands into the equilibrium of earthly forces.
Now, these are not forces working inward from the Cosmos. They are forces of a purely earthly nature.
In reality, nothing that man experiences is an abstraction. He only fails to perceive whence it is that an experience comes to him; and thus he turns ideas about realities into abstractions. He speaks of the laws of mechanics. He thinks he has abstracted them from the connections and relationships of Nature. But this is not the case. All that man experiences in his soul by way of purely mechanical laws has been discovered inwardly through his relationship of orientation to the earthly world (in standing, walking, etc.).
The Mechanical is thus characterized as that which is of a purely earthly nature. For the laws and processes of Nature as they hold sway in color, sound, etc., have entered into the earthly realm from the Cosmos. It is only within the earthly realm that they too become imbued with the mechanical element, just as is the case with man himself, who does not confront the mechanical in his conscious experience until he comes within the earthly realm.
By far the greater part of that which works in modern civilization through technical Science and Industry — wherein the life of man is so intensely interwoven — is not Nature at all, but Subnature. It is a world which emancipates itself from Nature — emancipates itself in a downward direction.
Look how the Oriental, when he strives towards the Spirit, seeks to get out of the conditions of equilibrium whose origin is merely in the earthly realm. He assumes an attitude of meditation which brings him again into the purely Cosmic balance. In this attitude the Earth no longer influences the inner orientation of his body. (I am not recommending this for imitation; it is mentioned merely to make our present subject clear. Anyone familiar with my writings will know how different is the Eastern from the Western spiritual life in this direction.)
Man needed this relation to the purely earthly for the unfolding of his Spiritual Soul. Thus in the most recent times there has arisen a strong tendency to realize in all things, and even in the life of action, this element into which man must enter for his evolution. Entering the purely earthly element, he strikes upon the Ahrimanic realm. With his own being he must now acquire a right relation to the Ahrimanic.
But in the age of Technical Science hitherto, the possibility of finding a true relationship to the Ahrimanic civilization has escaped man. He must find the strength, the inner force of knowledge, in order not to be overcome by Ahriman in this technical civilization. He must understand Subnature for what it really is. This he can only do if he rises, in spiritual knowledge, at least as far into extra-earthly Supernature as he has descended, in technical Sciences, into Subnature. The age requires a knowledge transcending Nature, because in its inner life it must come to grips with a life-content which has sunk far beneath Nature — a life-content whose influence is perilous. Needless to say, there can be no question here of advocating a return to earlier states of civilization. The point is that man shall find the way to bring the conditions of modern civilization into their true relationship — to himself and to the Cosmos.
There are very few as yet who even feel the greatness of the spiritual tasks approaching man in this direction. Electricity, for instance, celebrated since its discovery as the very soul of Nature's existence, must be recognized in its true character — in its peculiar power of leading down from Nature to Subnature. Only, man himself must beware lest he slide downward with it.
In the age when there was not yet a technical industry independent of true Nature, man found the Spirit within his view of Nature. But the technical processes, emancipating themselves from Nature, caused him to stare more and more fixedly at the mechanical-material, which now became for him the really scientific realm. In this mechanical-material domain, all the Divine-Spiritual Being connected with the origin of human evolution is completely absent. The purely Ahrimanic dominates this sphere.
In the Science of the Spirit, we now create another sphere in which there is no Ahrimanic element. It is just by receiving in knowledge this spirituality, to which the Ahrimanic powers have no access, that man is strengthened to confront Ahriman within the world.
(March, 1925)
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (with reference to the foregoing study: From Nature to Sub-Nature)
183. In the age of Natural Science, since about the middle of the nineteenth century, the civilized activities of mankind are gradually sliding downward, not only into the lowest regions of Nature, but even beneath Nature. Technical Science and Industry become Subnature.
184. This makes it urgent for man to find in conscious experience a knowledge of the Spirit, wherein he will rise as high above Nature as in his subnatural technical activities he sinks beneath her. He will thus create within him the inner strength not to go under.
185. A past conception of Nature still bore within it the Spirit with which the source of all human evolution is connected. By degrees, this Spirit vanished altogether from man's theory of Nature. The purely Ahrimanic spirit has entered in its place, and passed from theory of Nature into the technical civilization of mankind.

Historic Cataclysms at the Dawn of the Spiritual Soul. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #180, #181, #182

Rudolf Steiner:

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire and the appearance on the scene of peoples from the East — the great migrations — are a phenomenon of history to which the attention of true research must again and again be turned. For the present day still contains many an after-effect of these catastrophic happenings.
A true understanding of these events is impossible to merely exoteric history. For we must look into the souls of the human beings who took part in these migrations and witnessed the downfall of the Roman Empire.
Ancient Greece and Rome flourished in the epoch of human evolution when the Intellectual or Mind-Soul was unfolding. Indeed the Greeks and Romans were most essentially the bearers of this unfolding process. But in the Greek and Roman peoples the evolving of this stage of the soul did not contain the seed from out of which the Spiritual Soul could truly have developed. All the contents of soul and spirit latent in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul blossomed forth luxuriantly in the life of ancient Greece and Rome. But Greece and Rome were unable, out of their own inherent powers, to pass on to the new stage of the Spiritual Soul.
The stage of the Spiritual Soul did, of course, appear nonetheless. But the Spiritual Soul was as something implanted from without into the character of the Greek or Roman — something that did really not proceed out of the personality.
The connection with and severance from the Divine Spiritual Beings, of which we have said so much in these studies, takes place with varying intensity in the course of succeeding ages. In olden times, it was a power entering into human evolution with the impulse of a mighty living process. In the Greek and Roman experience of the first Christian centuries it was a feebler power — but it still existed. While he was unfolding the fullness of the Intellectual or Mind Soul within him, the Greek or Roman felt — unconsciously, but with no less deep a meaning for his soul — a loosening or severance from the Divine-Spiritual nature and a growing independence of the human. But this ceased in the first Christian centuries. The early dawn of the Spiritual Soul was felt as a renewed union, a closer connection with the Divine-Spiritual. Men evolved back again, from a greater to a lesser degree of independence of soul. Nor could they receive the Christian content into the human Spiritual Soul, for they were unable to receive the Spiritual Soul itself into their human being.
Thus they came to regard the Christian content as something given to them from outside — from the spiritual outer world — not as something with which they could become united through their own faculties of knowledge.
But it was different with the peoples coming from the Northeast, who now entered on the scene of history. They had passed through the stage of the Intellectual or Mind Soul in a condition which, to them, conveyed a feeling of dependence on the spiritual world. They only began to feel something of human independence when, with the beginnings of Christianity, the earliest forces of the Spiritual Soul were dawning.
In them the Spiritual Soul appeared as something deeply bound up with the human being. They felt a glad sense of unfolding force within them when the Spiritual Soul was stirring into life.
It was into this new-springing life of the dawning Spiritual Soul that the Christian content entered in these peoples. They felt the Christian content as something springing to life within their souls, not as something given from outside.
Such was the mood in which these peoples approached the Roman Empire and all that was connected with it. Such was the mood of Arianism in contrast to Athanasianism. It was a deep inner conflict in world-historical evolution.
In the Spiritual Soul of the Greek and Roman, external as it was to man, there worked, to begin with, the Divine Spiritual essence, not uniting fully with the earthly life, but raying into it from without. And in the Spiritual Soul of the Franks, the Germanic tribes, etc., which was only just dawning into life, such of the Divine-Spiritual as was able to unite with mankind worked as yet but feebly.
To begin with, the Christian content living in the Spiritual Soul that hovered over man grew and expanded in outer life. On the other hand, that Christian content which was united with the human soul, remained as an inner urge, an impulse within the human being waiting for future development — for a development which can only take place when a certain stage has been attained in the unfolding of the Spiritual Soul.
In the time from the first Christian centuries until the evolutionary epoch of the Spiritual Soul, the dominant spiritual life was a Spirit-content hovering above mankind — a content with which man was quite unable to unite himself in knowledge. He therefore united with it in an outward way. He ‘explained’ it, and pondered on the question: how, and why, and to what degree the faculties of the soul were insufficient to bring about the full union with it in knowledge. Thus he distinguished the realm into which knowledge can penetrate, from that into which it cannot. It became the proper thing to renounce the exercise of those faculties of soul which rise with knowledge into the spiritual world. And at length the time approached — the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries — in which the forces of the soul that inclined towards the Spirit were diverted from the Spiritual altogether, so far as active Knowledge was concerned. Men began to live their conscious life only in those forces of the soul which are directed to the sense-perceptible.
Blunt indeed became the powers of knowledge for spiritual things — most of all in the eighteenth century.
The thinkers of humanity now lost the spiritual content from their ideas. In the idealism of the first half of the nineteenth century, the Spirit-empty ideas themselves are represented as the creative substance of the world. Thus Fichte, Schelling, Hegel. Or again, they point to a supersensible which vanishes into thin air because it is bereft of Spirit. Thus Spencer, John Stuart Mill, and others. The ideas are dead when they no longer seek the living Spirit.
There is no escaping the fact, lost was the sense of spiritual vision for the things of the Spirit. A ‘continuation’ of the old life of spiritual knowledge is impossible. With the Spiritual Soul unfolding within him, man's faculties of soul must strive onward to reach their new union with the Spirit-world, a union elementary, immediate, and living. Anthroposophy would fain be such a striving.
In the spiritual life of this age, it is just the leading personalities who to begin with do not know what Anthroposophy intends. Wide circles of people who follow in their wake are thereby kept away from Anthroposophy. The leading people of today live in a soul-content which in the course of time has grown altogether unaccustomed to use the spiritual forces. For them, it is as though one would call upon a man having an organ paralyzed, to use it. Paralyzed were the higher faculties of knowledge from the sixteenth into the latter half of the nineteenth century. And mankind remained utterly unconscious of the fact; indeed, the one-sided application of knowledge-powers directed to the outer world of sense was regarded as a sign of special progress.
(March, 1925)
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (with reference to the foregoing study: Historic Cataclysms at the Dawn of the Spiritual Soul)
180. The Greeks and Romans were the peoples predestined by their very nature for the unfolding of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul. They developed this stage of the soul to perfection. But they did not bear within them the seeds of a direct, unbroken progress to the Spiritual Soul. Their soul-life went under in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul.
181. In the time from the origin of Christianity until the age of the unfolding of the Spiritual Soul, a world of the Spirit was holding sway which did not unite with the forces of the human soul. The latter contrived to ‘explain’ the world of the Spirit, but they could not experience it in living consciousness.
182. The peoples advancing from the Northeast in the great migrations, encroaching on the Roman Empire, took hold of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul more in the inner life of feeling. Meanwhile, imbedded in this element of feeling, the Spiritual Soul was evolving within their souls. The inner life of these peoples was waiting for the present time, when the re-union of the soul with the world of the Spirit is fully possible once more.


The Apparent Extinction of Spirit-Knowledge in Modern Times. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #177, #178, #179


Rudolf Steiner:

To gain a true appreciation of Anthroposophy in relation to the development of the Spiritual Soul, we must turn our gaze again and again to the particular mental condition of civilized mankind which began with the blossoming forth of the Natural Sciences and reached its climax in the nineteenth century.
One should place the character of this age vividly before the soul's eye, comparing it with that of preceding ages. In all ages of the conscious evolution of mankind, knowledge was regarded as that which brings man to the world of Spirit. To knowledge, man ascribed whatever relationship to Spirit he possessed. Art and Religion were none other than the living life of knowledge.
All this became different when the age of the Spiritual Soul began to dawn. With a very great part of the life of the human soul, knowledge now concerned itself no more. Henceforth, it sought to investigate that relation to existence which man unfolds when he directs his senses and his intellectual judgment to the world of ‘Nature.’ It no longer wanted to concern itself with that which man unfolds as a relation to the world of Spirit, when he uses not his outer senses but his inner power of perception.
Thus there arose the necessity to connect the spiritual life of man not with any living present knowledge, but with knowledge gained in the past — with tradition.
The life of the human soul was rent in twain. On the one hand there stood before man the new science of Nature, striving ever onward and unfolding in the living present. On the other side there was the experience of a relation to the spiritual world, for which the corresponding knowledge had arisen in the ages past. All understanding of how the knowledge, corresponding to this side of human experience, had been gained in ages past, was gradually lost. Men possessed the tradition, but they had lost the way by which the truths of tradition had been known — discovered. All they could do now was to believe in the tradition.
A man who had consciously reflected on the spiritual situation, say about the middle of the nineteenth century, would have been bound to admit: mankind has come to a point where it no longer feels itself capable of evolving any knowledge beyond that science which does not concern itself with the Spirit. Whatever can be known about the Spirit, a humanity of earlier ages was able to investigate and discover, but the human soul has lost the faculty for such discovery.
But men did not place before themselves the full bearing of what was taking place. They were content to say: Knowledge simply does not reach out into the spiritual world. The spiritual world can only be an object of faith.
To gain some light upon these facts of modern history, let us look back into the time when the old Grecian wisdom had to retreat before the power of Rome, when Rome had accepted Christianity. When the last Greek Schools of the Philosophers were closed by the Roman Emperor, the last custodians of the ancient knowledge too departed from the regions in which European spiritual life was henceforth to evolve. They found a haven in the Academy of Gondishapur in Asia, to which they now became attached. This was one of the centers of learning in the East where through the deeds of Alexander the tradition of the ancient knowledge had been preserved.
The ancient knowledge was living on there in the form which Aristotle had been able to give to it. But in the Academy of Gondishapur it was also taken hold of by that Oriental spiritual stream which we may describe as Arabism. Arabism in one aspect of its nature is a premature unfolding of the Spiritual Soul. Through the soul-life working prematurely in the direction of the Spiritual Soul, the possibility was given in Arabism for a spiritual wave to go forth, extending over Africa to southern and western Europe and filling certain of the men of Europe with an intellectualism that should not properly have come until a later stage. In the seventh and eighth centuries, southern and western Europe received spiritual impulses which ought to have come only in the age of the Spiritual Soul.
This spiritual wave was able to awaken the intellectual life in man, but not the deeper founts of experience whereby the soul penetrates into the world of Spirit.
And when in the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries man exercised his faculty of knowledge, he could but reach down to those levels of the soul where he did not yet impinge upon the spiritual world.
Arabism, entering into the spiritual life of Europe, held back the souls of men, in knowledge, from the Spirit-world. Prematurely it brought that intellect into activity which was only able to apprehend the outer world of Nature.
This Arabism proved very powerful indeed. Whosoever was taken hold of by it was seized by an inward — though for the most part quite unconscious — pride. He felt the power of intellectualism, but not the impotence of intellect by itself to penetrate into reality. Thus he gave himself up to the externally given reality of the senses, which places itself before the human being of its own accord. And it did not even occur to him to approach the spiritual reality.
The spiritual life of the Middle Ages found itself face to face with this position. It possessed the sublime traditions about the spiritual world. But the soul-life was intellectually so impregnated by the hidden influence of Arabism that medieval knowledge found no access to the sources from which the contents of the great tradition had after all proceeded.
Thus from the early Middle Ages onwards, that which men felt instinctively within them as a connection with the Spirit, was battling with Thought in the form that this had assumed under Arabism.
Man felt the world of Ideas within him; he experienced it as something real. But he could not find the power in his soul to experience, in the Ideas, the Spirit. Thus arose Realism, feeling the reality in the Ideas and yet unable to discover it. In the world of the Ideas, Realism heard the speaking of the Cosmic Word, but it could not understand the speech. And Nominalism in opposition to it, seeing that the speech could not be understood, denied that there was any speech at all. For Nominalism, the world of Ideas was but a multitude of formulae within the human soul-rooted in no reality of Spirit.
What lived and surged in these two currents worked on into the nineteenth century. Nominalism became the mode of thought of Natural Science, which built up an imposing conceptual system of the outer world of sense, but destroyed the last relics of insight into the nature of the world of Ideas. Realism lived a dead existence. It knew still of the reality of the world of Ideas, but had no living knowledge with which to reach it.
But man will reach it when Anthroposophy finds the way from the Ideas to the living experience of Spirit in the Ideas. In Realism truly carried forward, there will arise — side by side with the Nominalism of Natural Science — a path of knowledge which will prove that the science of the Spiritual, far from being extinguished in mankind, can enter into human evolution once again, springing forth from newly opened sources in the soul of man.
(March, 1925)

Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (with regard to the foregoing study: The apparent Extinction of Spirit-Knowledge in Modern Time)

177. Looking with the eye of the soul upon the evolution of mankind in the Age of Science, a sorrowful perspective opens up before us to begin with. Splendid grew the knowledge of mankind with respect to all that constitutes the outer world. On the other hand there arose a feeling as though a knowledge of the spiritual world were no longer possible at all.
178. It seems as though such knowledge had only been possessed by men of ancient times, and man must now rest content — in all that concerns the spiritual world — simply to receive the old traditions, making these an object of faith.
179. From the resulting uncertainty, arising in the Middle Ages as to man's relation to the spiritual world, Nominalism and Realism proceeded. Nominalism is unbelief in the real Spirit-content of man's Ideas; we have its continuation in the modern scientific view of Nature. Realism is well aware of the reality of the Ideas, yet it can only find its fulfillment in Anthroposophy.

Memory and Conscience. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #174, #175, #176


Rudolf Steiner:

In sleep man is given up to the Cosmos. He carries out into the Cosmos that which he possesses as a result of former lives on Earth, when he descends from the world of soul-and-spirit into the earthly world. During his waking life he withdraws this content of his human being from the Cosmos.
In this rhythmic giving-himself-up to the Cosmos and withdrawing from it, man's life between birth and death takes its course.
While he withdraws it from the Cosmos, the soul-spiritual being of man is at the same time received by the system of nerves and senses. With the physical and life-processes that take place in the nerves-and-senses system, the soul-and-spirit of man combines in waking life, so that they work together unitedly. In this united action, sense-perception, the forming of memory-pictures, and the play of fancy are contained. All these activities are bound to the physical body. The conceptions, the thinking experience — in which man becomes conscious of what is taking place half-consciously in perception, fancy, and memory — are bound to the thinking system.
In this thinking organization properly speaking, there also lies the region by which man experiences his self-consciousness. The thinking organization is an organization of the stars. If it lived and expressed itself as such alone, man would bear within him not a consciousness of self but a consciousness of the Gods. The thinking organization is, however, lifted out of the Cosmos of the stars and transplanted into the realm of earthly processes. Man becomes a self-conscious being in that he experiences the world of stars within the earthly realm.
Here, therefore, we have the region of the inner life of man where the Divine-Spiritual world, united with the human being, sets him free in order that he may become Man in the fullest sense.
But directly beneath the thinking organization — namely, where sense-perception, the play of fancy, and the forming of memory take place — the Divine-Spiritual world lives on within the life of man. We may say: it is in the unfolding of memory that the Divine-Spiritual lives in the waking state of man. For the other two activities, sense-perception and the play of fancy, are only modifications of the process that goes on in the forming of memory-pictures. In sense-perception we have the forming of a memory-content at the moment of its origin; in the content of fancy there lights up in the soul that of the content of memory which is preserved within the soul's existence.
Sleep carries over the soul-spiritual being of man into the cosmic world. With the activity of his astral body and his ego, the sleeping man is steeped in the Divine-Spiritual Cosmos. He is not only outside the physical but outside the world of stars. But he is within the Divine-Spiritual Beings in whom his own existence has its origin.
In the present moment of cosmic evolution these Divine Spiritual Beings work in such a way as to impress the moral content of the Universe into the astral body and ego of man during sleep. All the World-processes in sleeping man are really moral processes, and cannot be spoken of as even remotely like the activities of Nature.
In their after-effects, man carries these processes over from sleeping into waking. But the after-effects remain asleep. For man is awake in that part of his life only which inclines to the sphere of Thought. What actually takes place in his sphere of Will is wrapped in darkness even in the waking state, as the whole life of the soul is wrapped in darkness during sleep. But in this sleeping life of the Will, the Divine-Spiritual works on in the waking life of man. Morally, man is as good or as bad as he can be according to the nearness with which he approaches the Divine-Spiritual Beings when asleep. And he comes nearer to them, or remains farther away from them, according to the moral quality of his former lives on Earth.
From the depths of the waking being of the soul's existence, that which was able to implant itself in the soul's existence, in community with the Divine-Spiritual world during sleep, sounds forth. This is the voice of conscience.
We see how the very things which a materialistic view of the world is most inclined to explain merely from the natural side, are found to lie on the moral side of things when seen by spiritual knowledge.
In Memory the Divine-Spiritual being works directly within the waking man. In Conscience the same Divine-Spiritual being works in the waking man indirectly — as an after-effect.
The forming of memory takes place in the organization of nerves and senses. The forming of conscience takes place — albeit as a pure process of soul and spirit — in the metabolic and limbs-system.
Between the two there lies the rhythmic organization, whose activity is polarized in two directions. In the breathing rhythm it is in intimate relation to sense-perception and to thought. In the breathing of the lung the process is at its coarsest. Thence it grows finer and finer, till, as a highly refined breathing process, it becomes sense-perception and thought.
Sense-perception is still very near to breathing; it is only a breathing through the sense-organs, not through the lungs. Thought, ideation, is farther removed from the lung-breathing, and is upheld by the thinking system of man. And that which reveals itself in the play of fancy is already very close to the rhythm of blood-circulation. It is a very inward breathing, that comes into connection with the system of metabolism and the limbs. Psychologically, too, the activity of fancy reaches down into the sphere of will, just as the circulatory system reaches down into the system of metabolism and the limbs.
In the activity of fancy, the thinking system comes close up to the system of the will; the human being dives down into that sphere of his waking life which is asleep — the sphere of will. Hence, in human beings who are especially developed in this direction, the contents of the soul appear like dreams in the waking state. Such a human organization was present in Goethe. Goethe once said that Schiller must interpret to him his own poetic dreams.
In Schiller himself, a different human system was at work. He lived on the strength of what he brought with him from former lives on Earth. He had a strong life of the will, and had to seek actively for the corresponding wealth of fancy.
The Ahrimanic Power, in its world-intentions, counts upon those human beings who are especially developed in the sphere of fancy — whose perception of sense-reality quite naturally transforms into the pictures of fancy. With the help of such human beings, the Ahrimanic Power hopes to be able to cut off the evolution of mankind from the past, and carry it on in the direction of its own, Ahrimanic intentions.
The Luciferic Power reckons on those human beings who, while naturally more developed in the sphere of will, are inspired by an inner love for the ideal world-conception to transform their vision of sense-reality actively into pictures of creative fancy. Through such human beings the Luciferic Power would like to keep human evolution entirely within the impulses of the past. It would thus be able to preserve mankind from diving down into the sphere where the Ahrimanic Power must be overcome.
In this our earthly existence, we stand between two opposite poles. Above us spread the stars. From thence there radiate the forces which are connected with all things calculable and regular in Earth-existence. The regular alternation of day and night, the seasons, the longer cosmic periods, are the earthly reflection of the real process in the stars.
The other pole radiates out from the interior of the Earth. Irregular activities are at work in it. Wind and weather, thunder and lightning, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are a reflection of this process of the inner Earth.
Man himself is an image of this existence of the Stars and Earth. In his thinking system lives the order of the stars; in the willing system of his limbs the chaos of the Earth. In the rhythmic system he experiences in consciousness his own earthly being, in free balance and interplay between the two.
(March, 1925)

Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (with regard to the foregoing study on Memory and Conscience)

174. Man is organized in spirit and in body from two different sides. First, from the physical-etheric Cosmos. Whatever radiates from the Divine-Spiritual Being into this organization in man's nature, lives in it as the force of sense-perception, of the faculty of memory, and of the play of fancy.

175. Secondly, man is organized out of his own past lives on Earth. This organization is purely of the soul and spirit, and lives in him through the astral body and the ego. Whatever enters of the life of Divine-Spiritual Beings into this human nature — its influence lights up in a man as the voice of conscience and all that is akin to this.

176. In his rhythmic organization man has the constant union of the Divine-Spiritual impulses from the two sides. In life and experience of rhythm the force of memory is carried into the willing life, and the might of conscience into the life in ideas.

The Sense- and Thought-Systems of Man in Relation to the World. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #171, #172, #173


Rudolf Steiner:

When man first applies Imaginative cognition to the contemplation of his own human being, he begins by eliminating his own sense-system from the field of vision. As he now observes himself, he becomes a being without the system of senses. Not that he ceases to have before his soul pictures such as were previously conveyed by the sense-organs. But he ceases to feel himself connected with the outer physical world through the sense-organs. The pictures of the outer physical world which he now has before his soul are no longer conveyed by the organs of sense. His very vision of them is proof of the fact that even through the sense-connection with the outer world of Nature, he has yet another connection with this world — one that does not depend on the senses. It is a connection with the Spirit that is embodied in the world of Nature.
It might be imagined that he would in the same moment lose self-consciousness. For this would seem to follow from our previous studies, which showed self-consciousness to be an outcome of the connection of man with the Earth-nature. But it is not so. Man preserves what he has gained through the earthly nature, even when, after having gained it, he divests himself of it in the conscious activity of higher knowledge.
By the above-described, spiritually Imaginative vision, the fact is revealed that man's sense-system is not, fundamentally speaking, at all intensely connected with his being. It is not really he who lives in this sense-system, but his environment. It is the outer world with its nature which has built itself into the sense-organization of man.
Therefore, when he becomes an Imaginative seer, man really regards his sense-system as a portion of the outer world.
It is indeed closer to his being than the world of Nature around him; but still, it belongs to the outer world. It is only distinguished from the remaining outer world in this, that man can dive down into the latter with activity of knowledge through sense-perception and in no other way. Into his own sense-system, on the other hand, he dives down with conscious inner experience. The sense-system is a part of the outer world; but into this outer world man penetrates with his own being of soul-and-spirit, which he brings with him as he descends from the Spirit-world and enters Earth-existence.
Except for this fact that he fills it with his own being of soul-and-spirit, man's sense-system is of the outer world, just as is the plant kingdom that is spread around him. The eye in the last resort belongs to the world and not to man, just as the rose which man perceives belongs not to him, but to the world.
In the age of cosmic evolution that man has just passed through, thinkers arose who declared that colour, sound, warmth-impressions and the like were not really in the world, but in the human being. The ‘red colour,’ they say, is not anything at all out there in the world-environment of man; it is but the effect of an unknown reality upon him. But the very opposite of this conception is the truth. It is not the colour which, with the eye, belongs to man; it is the eye that with the colour belongs to the world. During his life on Earth man does not let the Earth-environment pour in upon himself, but grows outward — from birth to death — into this outer world.
It is significant that at the end of the Age of Darkness, when men stared out into the world without even dimly experiencing the light of the Spirit, the true idea of man's relationship to his environment was replaced by its very opposite.
When, in Imaginative cognition, man has eliminated that environment in which he lives by means of his sense-system, there enters into the sphere of conscious experience another system — namely, that which is the bearer of his Thought, even as the sense-system is the bearer of his picture-world of sense-perception.
And now man knows himself to be connected through his thinking system with the cosmic environment of the stars, even as he previously knew himself to be connected through his sense-system with the Earth-environment. He now recognizes himself as a cosmic being. His thoughts are no longer phantom-shadow pictures. They are saturated with reality, as sense-pictures are in the act of sense-perception. And if at this stage the knower passes on to Inspiration, he becomes aware that he can cast aside this world of which the thinking system is the bearer, just as he can cast aside the earthly. He sees that with his thinking system, too, he belongs, not to his own being, but to the world. He realizes how the world thoughts hold sway in him by means of his own thinking system. Here again he becomes aware that he thinks not by receiving images of the world into himself, but by growing outward with his own thinking organization into the Thinking of the world.
Both with respect to his sense-system and his thinking system, man is world. The world builds itself into him. In sense-perception and in thought, he is not he himself, but part of the contents of the world.
Now into his thinking system man penetrates with his own being of soul-and-spirit, which belongs neither to the earthly world nor to the world of stars, but is of a wholly spiritual nature and thrives in man from life to life on Earth. This being of soul-and-spirit is accessible only to Inspiration.
Thus man steps out of the earthly and cosmic systems of his nature, to stand before himself as a being of pure soul-and-spirit through conscious Inspiration.
And in this being of pure soul-and-spirit he meets the life and law of his own destiny.
With the sense-system man lives in his physical body, with the thinking system in his etheric body. Both systems having been cast aside in living activity of knowledge, he finds himself in his astral body.
Every time man casts aside a portion of the nature which he has assumed, the content of his soul is indeed impoverished on the one hand; and yet on the other hand it is enriched. The physical body being eliminated, the beauty of the plant world as the senses see it is before him no longer, save in a far paler form; but on the other hand the whole world of elemental beings dwelling in the plant-kingdom rises up before his soul.
Because this is so, the man of true spiritual knowledge has no ascetic attitude to what the senses can perceive. In the very spiritual experience, there remains alive in him the inner need to perceive once more through the senses what he now experiences in the Spirit. In the full human being, seeking as he does to experience the whole reality, sense perception awakens the longing for its counterpart — the world of elemental beings. Likewise the vision of the elemental beings kindles the longing for the content of sense-perception once again.
Thus in the fullness of the life of man, Spirit longs for sense and sense for Spirit. There would be emptiness in spiritual existence, if the experiences of the conscious life in the senses were not there as a memory. There would be darkness in the life of sense-experience, if it were not for the active force of the Spirit which lights into it, albeit subconsciously at first.
Hence, when man will have made himself ripe to experience the activity of Michael, it will not mean that souls become impoverished in their experience of Nature. On the contrary, they will be enriched in this respect. And in the life of feeling, too, man will not tend to withdraw from sense experience, but will be glad and eager to receive the wonders of this world of the senses more fully yet into his soul.
(March, 1925)

Further Leading Thoughts, issued from the Goetheanum (with regard to the foregoing study: The Sense- and Thought-Systems of Man, in relation to the World)

171. The organization of the human senses belongs not to man's own nature, but is built into it by the outer world during his earthly life. Spatially though it is in man, in its real essence the perceiving eye is in the World. Man with his soul and spirit reaches out into that which the World is experiencing in him through his senses. He does not receive the physical environment into himself during his life on Earth, but grows out into it with his own soul and spirit.
172. Likewise his thinking organization: through this he grows out into the existence of the stars. He knows himself as a world of stars; he lives and moves in the Cosmic Thoughts, when in the living experience of Knowledge he has put away the Organization of the senses.
173. When both are put away — the earthly world and the world of the stars as well — man stands before himself as a being of soul and spirit. Here at length he is no longer of the World; here he is truly man. To become aware of what he experiences here is Self-knowledge; even as it is World-knowledge to become aware in the Organization of the senses and of thought.

Man in His Macrocosmic Nature. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts #168, #169, #170


Rudolf Steiner:
The Cosmos reveals itself to man, first of all, from the aspect of the Earth and from the aspect of what is outside the Earth, viz. the world of the stars.
Man feels himself related to the Earth and its forces. Life gives him very clear instruction regarding this relationship.
In the present age he does not feel himself related in the same way to the stars that are around him. But this lasts only so long as he is not conscious of his etheric body. To grasp the etheric body in Imaginations means to develop a feeling that we belong to the world of the stars, just as we have this feeling regarding the Earth through the consciousness of the physical body.
The forces which place the etheric body in the world come from the Cosmos around the Earth; those for the physical body radiate from the center of the Earth.
But together with the etheric forces which stream to the Earth from the sphere of the Cosmos there come also the World-impulses which work in the astral body of man.
The ether is like an ocean in which the astral forces swim from all directions of the Cosmos and approach the Earth.
But in the present cosmic age only the mineral and plant kingdoms come into a direct relation to the astral, which streams down to the Earth on the waves of the ether; not the animal kingdom and not the human kingdom.
Spiritual vision shows that in the animal embryo there lives not the astral that is now streaming to the Earth, but that which streamed in during the Old Moon period.
In the case of the plant kingdom we see how its manifold and wonderful forms are developed through the astral loosening itself from the ether and working over to the world of plants.
In the animal kingdom we see how, from out of the Spiritual, the astral which was active in very ancient times — during the Moon evolution — has been preserved, and works as something stored up and preserved, remaining on at the present time in the spirit-world, and not coming forth into the etheric world.
The activity of this astral is, moreover, mediated by the Moon-forces, which have likewise remained in the same condition, from the previous stage of the Earth.
In the animal kingdom we have, therefore, the result of impulses which manifested themselves externally in Nature in a previous stage of Earth-existence, whereas in the present cosmic age they have withdrawn into the Spirit-world which actively penetrates the Earth.
Now, it is manifest to spiritual vision that within the animal kingdom only the astral forces which have been preserved in the present Earth from the former period are important for the permeation of the physical and etheric bodies with the astral body. But when the animal is once in possession of its astral body, the Sun-impulses appear actively in this astral body. The Sun-forces cannot give the animal anything astral; but when this is once in the animal, they must set to work and foster growth, nutrition, etc.
It is different for the human kingdom. This, too, receives its astrality to begin with from the Moon-forces that have been preserved. But the Sun-forces contain astral impulses which, while they remain inactive for the animal kingdom, in the human astral continue to act in the same way in which Moon-forces worked when man was first permeated with astrality.
In the animal astral body we see the world of the Moon; in the human, the harmonious accord of the worlds of the Sun and Moon.
The fact that man is able to receive, for the development of self-consciousness, the spiritual which rays forth in what belongs to the Earth depends upon that which belongs to the Sun in the human astral body. The astral streams in from the sphere of the universe. It acts either as astrality which pours in at the present time or as astrality which streamed in in ancient times and has been preserved. But everything that is connected with the shaping of the ego as the vehicle of self-consciousness must radiate from the center of a star. The astral works from the circumference; that which belongs to the ego works from a center. From its center the Earth as a star gives the impulse to the human ego. Every star radiates from its center forces which mould or shape the ego of some being.
This shows the polarity existing between the center of a star and the sphere of the cosmos.
From the above it may also be seen how the animal kingdom still stands there today as the result of former evolutionary forces of the Earth's being, how it uses up the astral forces which have been preserved, and how it must disappear when these have been consumed. Man, however, acquires new astral forces from that which belongs to the Sun. These enable him to carry on his evolution into the future.
From all this it may be seen that the nature of man cannot be understood unless we are just as conscious of his connection with the stars as of his connection with the Earth.
And that which man receives from the Earth for the unfolding of his self-consciousness depends also upon the Spirit-world active within all that belongs to the Earth. The circumstance that the Sun gives to man what he needs for his astral depends upon the activities which took place during the Old Sun period. At that time the Earth received the capacity to unfold the ego-impulses of humanity. It is the Spiritual from that period which the Earth has preserved for itself from the Sun nature; and it is preserved from dying out through the present activity of the Sun.
The Earth was itself Sun at one time. Then it was spiritualized. In the present cosmic age, what belongs to the Sun works from outside. This continually rejuvenates the Spiritual which originated in ancient times and is now growing old. At the same time, this which belongs to the Sun and acts in the present preserves that which belongs to a former period from falling into what is Luciferic. For that which continues to work without being received into the forces of the present succumbs to Luciferic influences.
We may say that man's feeling of belonging to the cosmos beyond the Earth is in this cosmic epoch so dim that he does not notice it within his consciousness. And it is not only dim, it is drowned by his feeling of belonging to the Earth. As man is obliged to find his self-consciousness in the elements of the Earth, he so grows together with them during the early part of the age of the Spiritual Soul that they act upon him much more strongly than is compatible with the true course of his soul-life. Man is to a certain extent stupefied by the impressions of the world of the senses, and during this condition, thought which is free and has life in itself cannot rise within man.
The whole of the period since the middle of the nineteenth century has been a period of stupefaction through the impressions received by the senses. It is the great illusion of this age that the overpowerful life of the senses has been considered to be the right one — that life of the senses whose aim was to obliterate completely the life in the cosmos beyond the Earth.
In this stupefaction the Ahrimanic powers were able to unfold their being. Lucifer was repulsed by the Sun-forces more than Ahriman, who was able to evoke, especially in scientific people, the dangerous feeling that ideas are applicable only to the impressions of the senses. Thus it is exactly in these circles that one can find so little understanding for Anthroposophy. They stand face to face with the results of spiritual knowledge and try to understand them with their ideas. But these ideas do not grasp the spiritual because the experience of the ideas is drowned by the Ahrimanic knowledge of the senses. And so they begin to fear that if they have anything to do with the results of spiritual investigation, they may fall into a blind belief in authority.
In the second half of the nineteenth century the cosmos beyond the Earth became darker and darker for human consciousness.
When man becomes able to experience ideas within himself once more, then, even when he does not support his ideas on the world of the senses, light will again meet his gaze from the cosmos beyond the Earth. But this signifies that he will become acquainted with Michael in his own kingdom.
When once the Festival of Michael in autumn becomes true and inward, then this thought will arise in all sincerity in the mind of him who celebrates the festival, and it will live in his consciousness: Filled with ideas, the soul experiences Spirit Light, when sense-appearance only echoes in man like a memory.
If man is able to feel this he will also be able, after his festive mood, to plunge again in the right way into the world of the senses. And Ahriman will not be able to injure him.
(March, 1925)

Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (in connection with the foregoing study: Man in his macrocosmic Nature)

168. In the beginning of the age of the Spiritual Soul, man's sense of community with the cosmos beyond the Earth grew dim. On the other hand — and this was so especially in men of science — his sense of belonging to the earthly realm grew so intense in the experience of sense-impressions as to amount to a stupefaction.
169. While he is thus stupefied, the Ahrimanic powers work upon man most dangerously. For he lives in the illusion that the over-intense, stupefying experience of sense-impressions is the right thing and represents the true progress in evolution.
170. Man must find the strength to fill his world of Ideas with light and to experience it so, even when unsupported by the stupefying world of sense. In this experience of the world of Ideas — independent, and in their independence filled with light — his sense of community with the cosmos beyond the Earth will re-awaken. Hence will arise the true foundation for festivals of Michael.