[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive and e.Lib

Universe, Earth and Man

The Kingdoms of Nature. Group-egos. The Centre of Man. The Kingdoms of Higher Spiritual Beings.


The Kingdoms of Nature. Group-egos. The Centre of Man. The Kingdoms of Higher Spiritual Beings.

If we are to bring the relationship of Universe, Earth, and Man before our minds in the following lectures, it will first be necessary to gather together many things that will furnish us with some kind of foundation. At the same time we must remember that if we only use our external senses and the intellect that is bound up with these, we shall see very little; this applies to the Earth as well as to man, and in a still higher degree to the Universe. We must realize that the greater part of what is most essential is hidden from the outer senses, and also from external intellectual observation. Therefore to begin with we will point out a few things appertaining to the beings that surround us, but which are hidden from view. Much will have to be said which many of you know already, but in order to grasp our vast subject thoroughly it will be necessary to recapitulate to a certain extent. We must in the first place consider the planet on which we live, and which forms the centre of our studies.

Yesterday we considered one portion of the earth's evolution in connection with the whole.

We saw how beings have been active in various ways, from the time when earth and sun still formed one body up to our own day. We saw also that in the various ages of the Post-Atlantean epoch man has repeated in knowledge and in religious consciousness all that the earth has passed through in the course of its evolution.

We will now go more deeply into the various conditions on this our earth. We are surrounded in the first place by the four kingdoms of nature; the mineral, vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms. Man is not the mere material physical being of which the outer senses inform us, and which the scientific intellect describes and explains but he is a complicated being made up of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego. All this we know. When we allow our gaze to sweep over the beings of the other kingdoms of the earth we must be fully aware that the expressions physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego are by no means meaningless in respect of them also. When dealing with the physical world we have to allow that of all earthly beings man alone possesses an ego-nature; he alone in this physical world has a self-conscious ego. With animals it is quite different; the ego of animals is not in the physical world in the same way man's ego is.

If we consider the difference between animals and man we must acknowledge that whereas every human being has its individual “I” enclosed as a single individuality within its skin, not every animal has an “ I ,” but that certain groups of similarly formed animals have one “ I ,” or ego, in common. For example, all lions, or all bears, have a common ego, hence we call such an ego belonging to the animal kingdom a group-ego. The human ego is found in the physical world; although we may not see it with our eyes it is present within the skin of every human being. This is not the case with animals. We do not find their group-ego in the physical world. In order that you may form an idea of such a group-ego imagine that there is a partition before me, and in this partition ten holes. I put my ten fingers through the holes and move them. You see my fingers but not myself, and without much deep thought you say that these ten fingers do not move of themselves, but something hidden must be causing the movement; in other words you think of a b