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Spiritual Soul Instructions and Observation of the World

Schmidt Number: S-0798

On-line since: 31st March, 2014

Course III - Lecture I

Theosophical Teachings of the Soul.
Part I: Body and Soul

GA 52

March 16, 1904

Self-knowledge is necessary to be able to tell the human beings the heavenly wisdom. Plato revered his great teacher Socrates particularly because Socrates could get the loftiest knowledge, the knowledge of God through self-knowledge because he appreciated the knowledge of the own soul more than that of the external nature or of that which refers to anything beyond our world. Socrates just became one of the martyrs of knowledge and truth because he was misunderstood in his knowledge of the soul. One has accused him that he denied the gods, while he searched for them, nevertheless, only on another way than others, on the way through the own soul. He was accused of this soul knowledge which does not only aim at the knowledge of the own soul, but also at the jewel which holds this human soul as knowledge, namely the knowledge of the divine very basis.

These three talks should deal with this knowledge of the soul. The number of the talks was not arbitrarily determined and also not by chance, but well-considered out of the developmental course of the soul. For in the times in which the knowledge and the wisdom of soul was in the centre of the whole human thinking and striving, one divided the nature of the human being into three parts, in body, soul and mind. You can find this view in the ancient Indian wisdom of the Vedanta, in the heydays of Buddhism and of the Greek philosophy and in the first centuries of Christianity. If you want to consider the soul correctly, you have to connect it with the other members of the human being, with the body on one side and with the mind on the other side. Hence, this first lecture has to deal with the relations of the soul with the body. The second lecture deals with the real internal being of the human soul, and the third lecture with the sight of the soul up to the divine-spiritual very basis of the world existence.

By a strange chance of history this threefold division of the human being has got lost to the western research, because wherever you look for psychology today, you find that one confronts psychology simply to the natural sciences or the science of the body, and everywhere you can hear that one assumes that the human being is to be considered according to two points of view: the first informs about the corporeality, the other point of view informs about the soul. This means, popularly expressed, that the human being consists of body and soul. This sentence on which basically our whole psychology well-known to you is based and to which many mistakes are to be attributed in psychology this sentence has a strange history. Until the first times of Christianity everybody who thought and tried to explain the human being considered him as consisting of body, soul and mind. Go to the first Christian church teachers, go to the Gnostics, then everywhere you find this division. Up to the second, third centuries you find the trichotomy of the human being acknowledged by the Christian science and dogmatism. Later one regarded this teaching as dangerous within Christianity. One thought that the human being would become too arrogant if he ascended beyond his soul to the spirit that he would presume too much to inform about the basis of the things about which only the revelation should inform.

That is why one consulted and decided on different councils that as a dogma is to be taught for the future: the human being consists of body and soul. Respected theologians maintained the trichotomy in certain respects, like John Scotus Eriugena and Thomas Aquinas. But the consciousness of the trichotomy got lost more and more to the Christian science which cared for psychology above all in the Middle Ages. At the appearance of science in the 15th and 16th centuries one no longer had a consciousness of the old division. Even Descartes made a distinction only between soul, which he calls mind, and body. This remained that way. Those who speak of psychology today do not know that they speak under the influence of a Christian dogma. One believes — you can read it in the manuals — that the human being consists only of body and soul. One has only reproduced an ancient prejudice, and one is based on it still today. This will appear to us in the course of these talks.

We have to show above all which relation between soul and body the unbiased psychologist has to assume; for it seems to be a result of modern natural sciences that one should no longer speak of the soul as one did it for thousands of years before our time. The physical research which pressed its stamp onto the 19th century and its mental development explained again and again that a science of the soul in the old sense of the word — as for example that of Goethe and partially of Aristotle — is not compatible with its views and is not tenable, therefore. You can take manuals about psychology or The Riddles of the World by Haeckel. You will find everywhere that the dogmatic prejudices exist and that one has the opinion that the old points of view under which one tried to approach the soul are overcome. Nobody can revere Haeckel — I say this for the scientists and the admirers of Ernst Haeckel — as a great man of science more than I myself. But great human beings also have big shortcomings, and thus it may be my task to test a prejudice of our time quite impartially.

What is said to us from this side? One says to us: what you called soul disappeared under our hands. We naturalists have shown that any sensation, everything that develops as conceptual life, any thinking, any willing, any feeling that everything is tied to particular organs of our brain and our nervous system. Natural sciences of the 19th century showed, one says, that certain parts of our cerebral cortex unless they are completely intact make it impossible to us to accomplish certain mental manifestations. From that one concludes that in these parts of our brain the mental manifestations are located that they are dependent, as one says, on these parts of our brain. One has expressed this drastically saying: a certain point of the brain is the centre of speech, another part of this soul activity, another part of another activity, so that one can tear down the soul bit by bit.

One has shown that the illness of particular cerebral parts is connected with the loss of particular soul abilities at the same time. What one imagined as soul since millennia, no naturalist can find this; this is a concept with which the naturalist cannot do anything. We find the body and its functions, but nowhere a soul. The great moralist of Darwinism, Bartholomäus Carneri who has written an ethics of Darwinism expressed his conviction clearly as it can never be given more clearly by these circles of the naturalists. He says: we take a clock. The pointers advance, the clockwork is in movement. All that happens because of the mechanism which is before us. As we have in that which the clock accomplishes a manifestation of the clock mechanism, in the same way we have in that which the human being feels, thinks and wills a manifestation of the whole nervous mechanism before us.

Just as little one can assume that a small soul-being is in the clock which moves the cog wheels, the pointers, just as little we can suppose that a soul exists outside the organism which causes thinking, feeling and willing. — This is the confession of a naturalist in mental respect; it is that which the naturalists have made the basis of a new faith, such a pure naturalistic religion. The naturalist believes that he is forced to this confession by the results of science and he believes that he is allowed to regard everybody as a childish mind who does not conclude this way under the influence of science. Bartholomäus Carneri showed it without any whitewash. As long as the human beings were children, they have spoken like Aristotle; because they have grown up now and understand science, they must leave the childish views. The view of the naturalists, which regards the human being as nothing else than a mechanism, corresponds to the metaphor of the clock. Drastically expressed, this view is considered as the only one which is worthy of the present. It is shown in such a way that the scientific discoveries of the age force us to these confessions.

However, we have to ask ourselves: did the natural sciences, the precise investigation of our nervous system, the precise investigation of our organs and their functions really force us to this view? No, because in the 18th century everything that one gives as something scientific and authoritative today was still in the germ. There was nothing of modern psychology, nothing of the discoveries of the great Johannes Müller and his school, nothing of the discoveries which the naturalists made in the 19th century.

At that time, in the 18th century, these views were expressed in the most radical way in the French Enlightenment which could not rely on natural sciences, the words sounded for the first time: the human being is a machine. — A book by Holbach comes from this time, entitled: Système de la nature, about which Goethe said that he felt rejected by its superficiality and triviality. This as proof of the fact that this view existed before the modern natural sciences. One is allowed to say that on the contrary the materialism of the 18th century hovered over the minds of the 19th century and that the materialistic creed was setting the tone for the way of thinking which one then brought into the natural sciences. That with regard to the historical truth. If it were not in such a way, one would have to call the view a childish one which the modern natural sciences has, namely that one cannot speak of the soul in the old sense because one can tear down the soul in the same way as one can tear down the brain.

What did one gain especially with this view? No soul-researcher who tries to recognise the soul according to Aristotle, according to the old Greeks, or — we say in spite of all contradiction which approach from some sides — according to the Christian Middle Ages can take offence of the truths of modern natural sciences. Every reasonable soul-researcher agrees to that which the natural sciences say about the nervous system and the brain as the mediators of our soul functions. He is not surprised that one can no longer speak if a certain part of the brain falls ill. The old researcher is no longer surprised with that like with the fact that he can no longer think after he has been killed.

Modern science does nothing else than to determine in detail what the human beings have already understood on the whole. Just as the human being knows that he cannot speak without certain cerebral parts, cannot form ideas, it would be a proof that he has no soul if he could be killed. Also the Vedantists, also Plato and others are clear to themselves about the fact that the soul activity of the human being stops if a big fieldstone falls on his head and smashes him. The old psychology did not teach anything different. We can be aware of that. We can accept the whole natural sciences and form psychology differently. During former centuries one realised that the way which the natural sciences took does not lead to the knowledge of the soul and can also not be taken, hence, to its disproof.

If those who try to disprove the old psychology from the standpoint of science were well-versed in former lines of thought, if people were not yet so prejudiced in the external life, then they could realise that they tilt at windmills like once Don Quixote to combat psychology in this scientific sense.

This whole fight is already shown in a conversation which you find in the Buddhist literature, in a conversation which does not belong to the sermons of Buddha himself which was written down only some years before Christ. Somebody who investigates the conversation sees that it concerns the oldest real views of Buddhism which find expression in the discussion of the King Milinda equipped with Greek wisdom and dialectic with the Buddhist sage Nagasena. This king steps to the Indian sage and asks: who are you? — The sage Nagasena answers: one calls me Nagasena. But this is only a name. No subject, no personality is contained in it. — How? King Milinda said who held the Greek dialectic and the whole ability and power of Greek thinking in himself — listen to me who you have come along, the sage states that nothing is behind the name Nagasena. What is then that which stands there before me? Are your hands, your legs Nagasena? No. Is your sensations, feelings and ideas Nagasena? No, all this is not Nagasena. Then the connection of that is Nagasena. But, because he states now that everything is not Nagasena that only a name is there which holds together everything, who and what is Nagasena, actually? Is that nothing which is behind the brain, behind the organs, behind the body, behind the feelings and ideas? Is that nothing who does others a few favours? Is somebody nothing who does the good and the bad? Is somebody nothing who strives for holiness? Is nothing behind that all but the sheer name? — There Nagasena answered using another metaphor: how have you come, great king, on foot or carriage? — The king answered: on carriage. — Now, explain the carriage to me. Is the shaft your carriage? Are the wheels your carriage? Is the carriage box your carriage? — No, answers the king. — What is then your carriage? It is a name which refers only to the connection of the different parts.

What did the sage Nagasena want to say who grew up in Buddhism? — O king, you who have gained an immense ability in Greece, in the Greek philosophy you must understand that you come to anything else than to a name if you consider the parts of the carriage in their connection as little as if you hold together the parts of the human being.

Take this ancient teaching which can be traced back to the oldest times of the Buddhist world view and ask yourselves what is said in it? Nothing else than that the way of recognising the soul by looking at the external organs or at the interplay of ideas is a wrong track. By the way, the great anatomist Metchnikoff reckoned that the ideas are a milliard. In terms of this correct saying of the sage Nagasena we cannot find the soul that way. This is a wrong way. One never tried to approach the soul that way in the times in which one knew on which way one has to find the soul and to study it. It was a historical necessity that the fine, intimate ways on which still the sages of the Christian Middle Ages looked for the soul receded a little bit into the background when our natural sciences started to take up the external world. Which methods and viewpoints did the natural sciences develop in particular?

You can find in the posthumous works of one of the most ingenious naturalists of our immediate present who has done great discoveries in the field of the theory of electricity that the modern natural sciences have taken up the cause of simplicity and usefulness. You can find that a psychologist who also works for the purposes of natural sciences still added descriptiveness to these two demands of simplicity and usefulness. One can say that natural sciences really worked miracles by this three — simplicity, usefulness and descriptiveness. But this is not applicable to the soul being. Using descriptiveness with regard to the examination of the external members, using usefulness with regard to the outer appearance the natural sciences were induced to look for the connection of the parts, to calculate, to investigate them. However, it was just that which can never lead to the soul according to the sage Nagasena. Because the natural sciences have taken this way, it is only too comprehensible that they have left the ways of the soul. Today one does not even have a consciousness of that which soul researchers have for centuries striven for.

Which fairy tales are told in this regard and which sum of ignorance comes to light, if today one speaks in apparently authoritative circles about the teaching of Aristotle or about that of the first Christian researchers, about that of the Middle Ages. Nevertheless if anybody wants to understand the being of the soul academically, there is no other access than that of the careful inner work to learn the ideas of Aristotle, the ideas which have led the first Christians and the great Christian Church Fathers to the knowledge of the soul. There is no other method. It is as important for this field as the method of the natural sciences for the external science. But these methods of psychology have got lost to us to a large extent. Really inner observations are not regarded as an academic field.

The theosophical movement has made it its job to investigate the ways of the soul again. In the most different kind the access to the soul can be found. In other talks I tried, on purely spiritual-scientific way, to give the knowledge of the soul by means of purely theosophical method. Here, however, should be spoken at first how Aristotle founded his psychology at the end of the great Greek philosophical epoch. For in former times the wisdom of the soul was cultivated unlike by Aristotle. We understand how the wisdom of the soul was cultivated in the ancient Egyptian wisdom, was cultivated in the ancient Veda wisdom. This, however, for later. Today you allow me to speak of the psychology of Aristotle who completed as a scholar centuries before Christ what has been found on quite different ways. We may say that we have something in the of Aristotle’s doctrine of the soul that the best in the fields of psychology were able to give. Because Aristotle gives the best, one has to speak about Aristotle above all. Nevertheless, this gigantic mind of his time — his writings is a treasury with regard to the knowledge of the ancient time, and somebody who becomes engrossed in Aristotle knows what was performed before his time — this gigantic mind was not clairvoyant like Plato, he was a scientist. Somebody who wants to get closer to the soul academically has to do it on the way of Aristotle. Aristotle is a personality who gives satisfaction to the demands of scientific thinking in every respect — if one takes the epoch into consideration. As we will see, in one single point he does not. This only point in which we find Aristotle’s doctrine of the soul dissatisfactory became the big disaster of all scientific psychology of the West.

Aristotle was a scientific teacher of development. He stood completely on the standpoint of the theory of evolution. He supposed that all beings have developed in strictly scientific necessity. He let the most imperfect beings still arise from abiogenesis, by mere meeting of lifeless physical substances, in purely natural way. This is a hypothesis which is an important scientific bone of contention, but a hypothesis which Haeckel has in common with Aristotle. Haeckel also shares the conviction of Aristotle that a direct ladder leads up to the human being. Aristotle also encloses any soul development in this development and is convinced that there is not a radical, but only a gradual difference between soul and body. That means that Aristotle is convinced that during the development of the imperfect to the perfect the moment happens when the level is reached that everything lifeless has found its creation, and then the possibility is there that the soul element comes into being from the lifeless by itself. He gradually distinguishes a so-called plant soul which lives in the whole plant world, an animal soul which lives in the animal realm, and, finally, a higher level of this animal soul which lives in the human being. You see that the really understood Aristotle agrees completely with everything that modern natural sciences teach. Now, take The Riddles of the World by Haeckel, the first pages where he stands on the ground of the right physical laws, and compare that with the natural sciences and the psychology of Aristotle, you will find that a real difference does not exist if you subtract the difference given by the time.

But now this comes where Aristotle goes beyond the psychology to which the modern natural sciences believe to have come. There Aristotle shows that he is able to observe real inner life. If anybody follows with deep understanding what Aristotle now builds up on this physical-lawful theory of knowledge sees that all people have simply not understood this view in the true sense of the word who argue anything against this view of Aristotle. It is infinitely easy to realise that we have to do an immense step from the animal soul to the human soul. It is infinitely easy to understand that. Nothing else prevents one from doing this step together with Aristotle than the ways of thinking which formed in the course of modern mental development. For Aristotle is clear to himself about the fact that something appears within the human soul that differs substantially from everything that is found as a soul element outside. Already the old Pythagoreans said, by the way, that somebody who realises the truth that the human being is the only being which can learn to count knows in which respect the human being differs from the animal. But it is not so easy to see what it means, actually, that only the human being can learn to count.

The Greek sage Plato did not admit anybody to his philosophers’ school who had not learnt mathematics first, at least the elements, the ABC. That means: Plato wanted nothing else than that those whom he introduced in the science of the soul know something about the nature of the mathematical, know something about the nature of this peculiar mental activity which the human being exercises if he does mathematics. However, this is clear also to Aristotle that it does not depend on doing mathematics rather than on understanding: the human being is able to do mathematics.

That is nothing else than that the human being is able to discover strictly self-contained laws which no external world can give him. Only those who are not trained in thinking, only those who do not know to achieve introspection only do not realise that even the simplest mathematical theorem could never be gained by mere observation. In nature nowhere is a real circle, in nature nowhere is a real straight line, nowhere an ellipse, but in mathematics we investigate these, and we apply the world which we have gained from our inside to the outside. Unless we think this fact through, we can never come to a true view of the being of the soul.

That is why theosophy requires a strict training of thinking from its students who want to get involved deeper; not the will-o’-the-wisp thinking of the everyday life, not the will-o’-the-wisp thinking of the western philosophy, but the thinking which practices introspection in inner thoroughness. This thinking reveals the far-reaching scope of this sentence. Those who had the biggest conquests in astronomy by their mathematical training realise the far-reaching scope and express it. Read the writings by Kepler, this great astronomer, read through what he says about this basic phenomenon of human introspection, then you see what this personality expresses about that. He knew which far-reaching scope mathematical thinking has up to the most distant galaxies. He says: the correspondence is miraculous which we find only from our thinking when we sat in our lonesome study room and pondered over circles and ellipses, and then look up at the sky and find their correspondence with the heavenly spheres. — Such teaching is not a matter of external research, but it concerns a deepening of such knowledge. Already in the vestibule it should appear with those who wanted to be accepted in the philosophers’ school who of them could be admitted. For one knew then that — like those who have their five senses can investigate the outer world — they can investigate also the being of the soul by thinking. This was not sooner possible.

But one demanded something else. The mathematical thinking does not suffice. It is the first step where we completely live in ourselves where the spirit of the world develops from our inside. It is the most trivial, the most subordinate step which we must climb up first above which we have to go, however. Just the soul researcher of olden times demanded to get the highest levels of human knowledge out of the depths of the soul in the same way as mathematics gets out the truth of the starry heaven out of the depths of the soul. This was the demand which Plato hid in the sentence: everybody who wants to enter into my school must have gone through a mathematical course first. — Not mathematics is necessary, but a knowledge which has the independence of the mathematical thinking. If one sees that the human being has a life in himself which is independent of the external physical life that he must get the highest truth out of himself, then one also sees that the best effectiveness of the human being reaches to something that is beyond any physical activity.

Have a look at the animal. Its activity runs purely according to its type. Any animal does what countless of its ancestors have also done. The type controls the animal completely. Tomorrow it does the same what it did yesterday. The ant builds its miracle construction, the beaver its lodge, in ten, hundred, thousand years as well as today. Development is also in it, but not history. Who realises that the human development is not only a development, but history, is able to become clear to himself about the method of soul observation in similar way as somebody who has realised what mathematical truth is. There are still savage people. Indeed, they become extinct, but there are still those who can recognise no connection between today and tomorrow. There are those who cover themselves with leaves of trees if it gets cold in the evening. In the morning they throw them away and in the evening they have to look for them again. They are not able to transfer the experience of yesterday to today and tomorrow. What is necessary if we want to transfer the experience of yesterday to today and tomorrow? We cannot say if today we know what we have done yesterday, then tomorrow we will also do what we have done yesterday. This is a characteristic of the animal soul. It can progress, it can become something else in the course of times, but then this transformation is not something historical. History consists in the fact that the individual human being uses that which he has experienced in such a way that he can conclude on something non-experienced, on a tomorrow.

I learn the sense, the spirit of yesterday and rely on the fact that the laws which my soul gains from observation are also valid in that which I have not yet observed, in future. Travellers tell us that it happened that any travellers made fires for themselves in regions where monkeys lived. They went away, let the fire burn and left the wood. The monkeys approached and warmed themselves up at the fire. But they could not poke the fire. They cannot make themselves independent of the observations and experiences, they cannot conclude. The human being infers from his observations and experiences and becomes the authoritarian determiner of his future. He sends his experiences to tomorrow, he transforms development into history. As well as he transforms experience into theory, as well as he gets the truth of the spirit out of nature, he gets the rules of the future out of the past and becomes the creator of the future that way. Somebody who thinks through these two things thoroughly — that the human being can make himself independent in double way that he can not only observe, but also put up theories that he does not have development like the animal soul but also history — gets these two things clear in his mind and understands what I meant when I said that in the human being lives not only the animal soul, but the animal soul develops so far that it can take up the so-called nous (Greek), the universal spirit.

Aristotle regards that as necessary, so that the human being can form history, that the universal spirit sinks into the animal soul. The soul of the human being differs in the sense of Aristotle from the animal soul because it was raised from that for what it rose within the animal development up to the functions and activities by which it has acquired the spirit. The saying of the great Kepler that the laws won in a lonesome study room are applicable to the external natural phenomena can be explained through the fact that the universal spirit, the nous, the Mahat, sinks into the human soul and raises it up to a higher level. The human soul is lifted out of the animal being as it were. It is the spirit which lifts it out. The spirit lives in the soul. It develops from the soul. It develops in such a way as the soul lifts itself out of the body gradually.

However, Aristotle did not or not clearly say this. Indeed, he says repeatedly: the soul develops gradually up to the human soul in a quite natural way — but now the spirit comes from without into this naturally developed human soul. Nous is something in the sense of Aristotle that is put into the human soul from without by creative activity. This became the disaster of the western science of the soul. It is a disaster of Aristotle that he is not able to make his right view that the human soul is lifted up while the nous sinks into it a theory of the historical course. He cannot understand this development as natural as the development of the soul is to be understood. Already Greek and Indian sages did this. They understood body, soul and mind developing naturally to the human mind. There is a break with Aristotle. He adds the idea of creation to the view. We will see how the theosophical psychology overcomes this idea of creation how it draws the last consequences of the scientific world view, indeed, from the spiritual standpoint in the true sense.

But only while we get clear in our mind that we must return to the old division in body, soul and mind we really understand this natural development of the human being. However, we must not believe that we can find access to the soul one day on the apparently irrefutable ways cultivated by modern natural sciences, by observing the single parts of the brain. We have to realise that the objections of the Indian sage Nagasena also apply to the modern naturalistic psychology. We have to realise above all that a deeper, internal introspection, a deeper spiritual research is necessary to find access to soul and mind. One would form a wrong idea of those who believe that the different religions and the different sages who came from the different religions have said what the modern natural sciences try to disprove. They have never said this, have never tried this. Who follows the development of psychology can see clearly that those who have known something of the methods of psychology have never applied the methods of natural sciences, so that they had to disprove them. These cannot find to the soul. O no, on this way the soul researchers who have still known what a soul is have never sought for the soul.

I want to mention somebody, the most scorned of enlighteners whom one also knows least. I want to speak with a few words about the psychology of the 13th century, about the psychology of Thomas Aquinas. It belongs to the typical qualities of this doctrine of the soul that the author says: what the human mind takes when it leaves this body, what the human mind takes into the purely spiritual world this can no longer be compared with everything that the human being experiences within his body. Yes, Thomas Aquinas says that the task of the religion in its most ideal sense consists in educating the human being, so that he can take something from this body that is not sensory that is not tied to investigation, to consideration and experience of the outer nature. As long as we live in this body, we see through our eyes and hear through our ears something sensory. We perceive everything sensory by means of our senses. But the spirit processes this sensory. The spirit is the actually active. The spirit is the eternal. Now take into consideration the deep view which was won there on account of the thousands of years old teaching of the soul which expresses itself in the words: that spirit which has collected a little during this life which is independent of external sensory observation, independent of external sensory life is not happy when it is disembodied. Thomas Aquinas says: what we see in our sensory surroundings is filled perpetually with sensory phantasms.

However, the spirit — I have described it as the spirit of mathematics as nous which results easily like tomorrow results from yesterday and today — this spirit freeing itself collects fruits for eternity. The spirit feels endlessly isolated and void — this is the teaching of Thomas Aquinas — if it enters the spiritland without having advanced so far that it is free of any phantasm of the sensory world. The deep sense of the Greek myth of drinking from the Lethe River reveals itself to us as a thought: the spirit in its purely spiritual existence progresses higher and higher, the more it frees itself of any sensory phantasm. Who searches the spirit as something sense-perceptible cannot find it; for the spirit if it has become free of sensuality has no longer anything to do with sensuality. Thomas Aquinas considered the methods as totally unacceptable with which it is searched for sensually. This church teacher is an adversary of any experiment and attempt to get contact with the dead sensually. The spirit must be purest if it is free of sensual phantasms and sticking to sensuality. Otherwise, it feels in the spiritual world endlessly isolated. The spirit which depends on the sensory observation, which is wrapped up in sensory observations, lives in the spiritual world like in an unknown world. This isolation is its destiny because it has not learnt to be free of sensual phantasms. We completely penetrate that when we come to the second talk.

You see that one searched for the soul just in the opposite way in the times in which the inner observation, the observation of that which lives inside the human being was the decisive factor for the soul science. This fundamental error lives in the modern psychology and has led to broadcast the catchword of the psychology without soul as a naturalistic creed of the 19th century. This science which strives only for the external views believes to be able to disprove the old views. But this science knows nothing about the ways on which the soul was searched for. Nothing, not the slightest objection should be said against modern science. On the contrary, we want to explore the realm of the soul even as theosophists in terms of this modern science in such a way as this explores the realm of the purely spatial nature. However, we want to search for the soul not in the outer nature but in our inside. We want to search for the spirit where it reveals itself, while we walk on the ways of the soul and get spirit knowledge from soul knowledge. This is the way prescribed by teachings thousands of years old which one only has to understand in its truth and validity.

However, this also becomes clear to us and becomes clearer and clearer what the deeper human being if he wants to recognise the soul also misses just in the modern cold science like Goethe missed it when he met this cold science in the Système de la nature by Holbach. Indeed, we can observe in the outer nature how the human being has developed concerning his external appearance how he has become how the monad works in the finer structures how the middle organ system can be regarded as an expression of the soul, but all that leads us only to the knowledge of the external appearance. The big question of the human destiny still remains. No matter how well we have understood a human being with regard to his external appearance, we have not understood him in so far as he has this or that destiny in this or that way, we have not understood which role the good and the bad, the perfect and imperfect play. What the human being experiences inside, about that the external science can give us no explanation; about that only the soul science which is based on introspection can give us a reasonable answer. Then the big questions arise: where do we come from, where do we go, what is our goal? — These biggest questions of all religions. These questions, which can raise the human being to sublime mood, will transport us from the soul-world to the spirit, to the divine spirit flowing through the world. The contents of the next lecture must be: through the soul to the spirit. This will show us that it is absolutely true — not only a pictorial expression — that also the perfect animal soul, which originated through solely external development, became only the human soul because it constitutes something even higher, more perfect, and that it is entitled to bear the germ of something still higher, of something unlimitedly perfect in itself. This human soul has to be regarded as something that does not produce the spirit and the phenomena of the soul from the animal realm, but that the animal in the human being must develop to higher levels to receive its vocation, its task and also its destiny.

The medieval teaching of the soul expresses that with the words that only he recognises the truth in the real sense who considers it not as it appears to him if he hears with external ears, looks with external eyes, but in such a way as it appears if we see it in the reflection of the highest spirit. That is why I may close the first lecture with the words which Thomas Aquinas used in his lecture: the human soul is just like the moon which shines, but receives its light from the sun. — The human soul is just like the water which is not cold and not warm in itself, but receives its heat from the fire. — The human soul is just like a higher animal soul only, but it is a human soul because it receives its light from the human mind.

In accordance with this medieval conviction Goethe says:

The human soul
Resembles the water:
It comes from the heaven,
It rises to the heaven,
And again down
To the earth it has to go,
Forever changing.

Then one understands the human soul if one conceives it in this sense that it is understood as a reflection of the highest being which we can find everywhere in the cosmos, as a reflection of the world spirit flowing through the universe.


Élie Metchnikoff (1845–1916), Russian biologist

Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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