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The Riddle of Humanity

Lecture Five

LECTURE FIVE:

Dornach, 6 August 1916

Today the essential thing for which I would like to use our time is to develop some things that will provide the basis for tomorrow's discussion. These things are an expansion of what was described yesterday.

Consider how birth or, say, conception, is the entry into the life a person leads between birth and death. Think of what we have said in the course of the past years about how a human being enters the physical body. We know that in a certain sense the three lower realms of nature — the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms — flow together in man, and that he rises above these three realms that are joined together symbiotically in him. But as a being of soul and spirit he also grows into these realms. Man becomes human by descending to the physical plane and growing into the mineral, plant and animal realms. After death, he ascends again. Then something similar happens from a spiritual point of view: in the spiritual world something happens that resembles the growing into the three kingdoms of physical existence on earth. With all such descriptions you must be clear that everything that has already been said in earlier presentations still holds true. Everything we have previously said about how a human being grows into the spiritual world after passing through the gates of death still holds good — the further details that arise are only to be taken as additions to that. Thus we can say: as a human being grows into the spiritual worlds he is received into the realm of morality, the aesthetic realm and the realm of wisdom, or truth. Now, in this life when we speak of the moral realm, the realm of the good, the aesthetic realm, the realm of the beautiful, and the realm of truth, of wisdom, naturally we are speaking more or less abstractly. But the forces in the spiritual world into which a human being grows and which are left behind when physical existence is once more taken up, are absolutely concrete forces. They are real, spiritual modes of existence. We use names like these just to summarise. Here on earth, a person's aura carries a kind of remnant of the things he received when he had ascended to the spiritual world. Having left behind the realms of wisdom, of beauty, of truth, mankind must enter the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. But the three spiritual realms continue to shine into the human aura, so that if we include his spiritual parts, then the whole man is a being who lives most directly in the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms, and lives more at a distance from that which, so to speak, comes down from the three spiritual realms, hovers before him, and shines and weaves through him. The light from the three spiritual realms shines over a human being. A schematic kind of a drawing will help us see how these things are connected with human nature, but please note that it is just a schematic drawing. All that I am going to show you is just schematic, but it will clarify much for you if studied carefully. For the sake of clarity, I will draw everything to do with the  I  like this (green). Everything to do with the astral body will be yellow; everything to do with the etheric human being, lilac, and everything to do with the physical human being, red.

Diagram

Strength of Heart Temperance Justice red violet yellow green

Now we will take a schematic look at mankind. We will observe how mankind stands in the cosmos, in so far as a human being is a moral being, that is, through his participation in the moral forces of the cosmos. Then we will observe mankind in so far as a human being participates, in the way we described yesterday, in the aesthetic impulses of the cosmos. And then we will observe mankind's participation in the impulses of wisdom. Thus we are going to outline a kind of psychic physiology — forgive the slightly nonsensical form of the expression, but you will understand what I mean. Naturally, this outline is meant imaginatively.

When we observe the human being who stands in the moral sphere, you will be especially reminded of what we said yesterday — that the Greeks felt and experienced the relationship between the physical and the soul-spiritual more strongly than is the case today. Hence Plato, for example, was able to give a clear account of how man is taken hold of, gripped, by moral impulses coming from the spiritual universe. Plato says that there exist four virtues. The whole of morality takes hold of the whole human being. But all that is naturally to be taken with the well-known grain of salt. Naturally, even though it grips the whole person, the human being is subsequently divided up into the particular virtues. The first virtue Plato mentions is wisdom — wisdom now understood as a virtue, not as science. Since wisdom as a virtue is related to the way truth is experienced, it takes hold of those forces that flow from the moral sphere to the head. Therefore it can be pictured like this. (See drawing.) And therefore Plato says: The head of the moral man is gripped by wisdom; the breast is gripped by the virtue of strength of heart (Starkmut) — I cannot find a better word — strength of mind, or industriousness, but a kind of industriousness that includes the forces of the heart: an industriousness of the soul.

The person who does not give in to his animal instincts is not necessarily wise. The wise human being — wise in the sense implied by strength of heart — is the one who possesses moral ideas, ideas he can grasp and according to which he is able to direct his life. But even though the moral impulse is grasped in the form of moral ideas, it nevertheless streams into the physical person, into the body. Therefore we can picture morality as flowing into a human being here (green); here it flows into the  I . That is where the Platonic moral sphere of wisdom would be located.

Whenever strength of heart — strength of mind, industriousness of the soul — streams down out of the moral sphere, it streams into the area of the chest, which encloses the heart. We can say: When morality radiates down, it is here, in the area of the chest and heart, where it particularly takes hold of the astral. So we will show this next in-pouring (yellow). Thus we now have wisdom as virtue in the head (green), strength of heart as virtue in the area of the chest (yellow).

Plato calls the third virtue temperance, sophrosyne, and he quite rightly assigns it to the abdomen. Human desires are aroused in the abdomen, and the temperate person is the one who is able to rule over his desires by thinking about them, feeling his way into them and consciously experiencing them. It is no virtue to live a life that simply chases after desires. Animals can also live like that. Temperance first arises when the desires are made as conscious as it is possible for them to be made. This happens in the etheric body; for, to the extent that thought, temperance and courage are human, they must be taken hold of by the etheric body. Therefore we must put this (violet) into our drawing. Thus, as I said yesterday, the moral sphere takes hold of the whole physical human being. And the head is included, as I explicitly stated yesterday.

And then Plato refers to a fourth, comprehensive virtue that flows into the whole physical body, which is actually invisible, as I showed you yesterday. He calls this virtue dikaiosyne. We have to translate this as justice, although the modern sense of the word does not entirely match Plato's meaning. Plato's word, ‘justice’, is not meant abstractly. It refers to the ability to give our lives direction, the ability to know ourselves and to orient ourselves in life. So we can say that here (red) the moral sphere, as justice, as uprightness, streams into the whole physical body. This gives us a schematic indication of how, in the human aura, morality streams into the human being.

Now we want to indicate how aesthetic impulses stream into man. Here there is a slight displacement. Things are simply displaced upward by one stage. What we previously pictured as within the head must now be pictured higher (green), so that it is hovering around the head. In aesthetic experience, the etheric stream circumvents the  I  and flows directly into the astral body, giving one the impression that the  I  hovers in the etheric that surrounds the head. A person who feels and responds a little to beauty does not need to be very clairvoyant to experience how he seems to live in the space that surrounds his head while he is contemplating a work of art. Within the head, however, the person is gripped directly; there the astral body is taken hold of, which we will draw in with these (yellow) rays.

Diagram

On the other hand, beauty works in the area of the breast in such a way as to allow that surging back and forth I described yesterday.

One could say that the aesthetic glows through the region of the breast. And beauty actually affects nothing beyond what belongs to the aura of the head, the head itself, and the breast. In other words, in the case of beauty, not all of the area wherein sophrosyne lives comes into consideration. But our materialistic age is distinguished by the way it so thoroughly involves the sphere of sexuality in artistic considerations — a piece of mischief for which our age is responsible, for it is precisely in the contemplation of beauty that such things are absolutely irrelevant and should be absolutely out of the question. Thus, only the lowest kind of aesthetic considerations, those that no longer have anything to do with art, are to be located in the physical body (red).

Now we want to use the same schema for picturing the man who is striving for truth. Once more, there is a displacement, a kind of outward displacement. Yesterday I mentioned that the striving for truth circumvents both the  I  and the astral body and flows directly into the etheric portion of the head where thoughts are generated. So here, directly into the head, is where I must draw the ether streaming into the etheric body, here where thoughts are generated. On the other hand, when we strive for truth — and this is something one only notices after initiation — it only affects the  I  and the astral body outside us, in the aura; then it streams into the etheric portion of the head; then into the breast, where its life already affects the physical body (red). If we are to feel truth — and we must feel truth — it has to work into us; it must stream down into the region of the breast. Spirituality has to be experienced in the way we experience the moral.

Diagram

All of the preceding lives in the aura of the physical plane and therefore applies to the physical plane. In this instance, that into which we enter after death participates in the aura on the physical plane. Just as our physical organism connects us to the forces of the mineral, plant and animal realms, so the moral sphere, the aesthetic sphere and the sphere of wisdom connect us to the forces of the spiritual world.

Even though some of the things I have said have come out very badly — perhaps they will come out better later — I want to present something further to you, something that belongs in the context of the whole. One can say: Whereas it is our physical body that connects us with the realm of physical becoming, our brain connects us with certain elemental beings, namely those elemental beings that belong to the sphere of wisdom. In the third drawing, that which we indicated with yellow was still outside; in the second drawing, it is internal. The green that here (drawing 2) is hovering around the head is even further outside. To etheric observation, this green hovers in the immediate vicinity of our head. The  I  lives in it, and alongside the  I  are found the elemental beings of the myths and sagas. There they are called elves, fairies, and so on. When we enjoy something aesthetically, all that is hovering around our heads.

But here (drawing 3), it is spiritual beings from the astral sphere that are hovering around us. It is possible to picture how perception and truth take hold of a person as he wakes from sleep. Although it is not physically visible, the way a person is taken hold of and received on awakening can be expressed in words. Today I would like to put into concrete words how man comes alive in the sphere of truth and wisdom when he awakens. The words are not so bad in their present form, and perhaps they will be improved later. A person should speak to the spirits that surround and take hold of him when he awakens in the following manner:

O, Ye!, from spheres of light stream through this head,

— spoken to the spirits! —

Stream through it

— the head —

Move there in ways which spirits pure are led,
Damp well down his brain's insane confusion
;

with the ordered processes of thought that dissipate madness —

Damp well down his — man's — brain's insane confusion,
From his striving untangle all doubt's fire and fear
,

— just feel the words! They scatter doubts, banish them as wisdom pours in! —

To guide him within from the paths of illusion.

he would be following a path of illusion if he only followed — the path of dreams; in so far as he enters the sphere of truth, the surrounding spiritual world frees his inner being from false paths. —

In daily experience four goals are clear;

we still have to discuss this; everything here divides into fours —

In daily experience four goals are clear,
Now lead him on untouched by apprehension
.

— lead man toward his goals —

First strive for countenance that fills with light,
Then spirit's quest for power hold fast.
Once lame-wingd senses move again in flight,
His day in freedom can unfold
.

— It will be freed from everything dreamlike and arbitrary that would otherwise rule it with the force of necessity —

Thus truest spirit duty it fulfils:
Through holy light to lead him where he wills
.

— So might man address the spirits that take hold of him when he awakens to the life of truth.

When a person awakens to the life of beauty, other spirits surround him. This is already something that is easier to convey to you. These are spirits that live in the sphere of the  I :

O Ye!, surround this head with airy circling,
Your paths in noble elfin fashion tracing,
And soften in the heart its harvest grim
,

— for this reaches into the heart —

Remove reproach's bitter, glowing arrows,

— the reproaches are reproaches of conscience, but also of pleasure and displeasure, which have to do with the surging world of the soul. —

Within him make all pure from horror's gleam.

— Earlier the brain was involved, now it is the inner world. —

Within him make all pure from horror's gleam.
Four in number are the nightly hollows,
Now, friendly, fill them up without a seam.
First lower head down on the pillow cool
,

— That corresponds to the words of the earlier verse: First strive for countenance that fills with light, —

Bathe it then in dews from Lethe's flood released;

— In the case of wisdom, the words go: To spirit's quest for power hold fast, —

Soon limbs, cramp-stiffened, will again grow supple,

— Corresponding to: Once lame-winged senses move again in flight, —

In rest, against the day his strength's increased.

— Corresponding to: His day in freedom can unfold. —

Fulfil most comely duty of the elf,

— These are elemental beings. There (drawing 3) it was spirits who live in the etheric, so the verse said: Thus truest spirit duly it fulfils, Through holy light to lead him where he wills. —

Return to holy light man's self.

Here (drawing 1), we are concerned with the influence of the entire cosmic sphere: morality. As I said, the whole of the universe influences the entire human being. That calls for the following words:

O Ye!, stream through this head with strength to move,

— Morality, and will, is revealed when man is moved to deeds. —

O Ye!, stream through this head with strength to move,
And in good earthly deeds yourselves soon prove
.

— For the right employment of the will in the world follows from these, and also temperance. —

So boldly stamp out torment of absurdity,

— which emanates from the body in the guise of desires. Yesterday I described how what rules in the bodily passions is related to moral impulses. —

So boldly stamp out torments contradictory,
Ennoble desire's power, wherein dark forces surge,
Abduct his soul, away from spirit-fatality
.

— This spirit-fatality is nothing but the consequence of animal passions. —

In human obsession, pathways four do merge,

— In earlier times, one called drives that originate in the body ‘obsessions’ —

Tear them away from embrace of infirmity.
Conquer the fires in which the senses groan,
Illumine that which dies in pleasure,
And hear how speak in ensouled tone
The powers that match eternal measure
.

— For deeds of karma work in eternity. —

Attempt to strive in world-willed action,
Awaken him to life-benediction
.

And there you have a description of the threefold manner in which the surrounding cosmos takes hold of the human aura.

How do the spirits that grip him take hold of the man of wisdom?

O Ye!, from spheres of light stream through this head,
Move there in ways which spirits pure are led,
Damp well down his brain's insane confusion;
From his striving untangle all doubt's fire and fear,
To guide him within from pathways of illusion.

In daily experience four goals are clear;
Now lead him on untouched by apprehension.

First strive for countenance that fills with light,
Then spirit's quest for power hold fast.
Once lame-winged senses move again in flight,
His day in freedom can unfold.
Thus truest spirit duty it fulfils:
Through holy light to lead him where he wills
.

The aesthetic sphere comes especially to the fore in the third act of the second part of Faust, when Faust is united with Helen, who personifies beauty:

O Ye!, surround this head with airy circling,
Your paths in noble elfin fashion tracing,
And soften in the heart its harvest grim,
Remove reproach's bitter, glowing arrows,
Within him make all pure from horror's gleam.

Four in number are the nightly hollows,
Now, friendly, fill them up without a seam.

First lower head down on the pillow cool,
Bathe it then in dews from Lethe's flood released,
Soon limbs, cramp-stiffened, will again grow supple,
In rest, against the day his strength's increased.
Fulfil most comely duty of the elf,
Return to holy light man's self
.

And then the moral sphere:

O Ye!, stream through this head with strength to move,
And in good earthly deeds yourselves soon prove.
So boldly stamp out torment of absurdity,
Ennoble desire's power, wherein dark forces surge,
Abduct his soul, away from spirit-fatality.

In human obsession, pathways four do merge,
Tear them away from embrace of infirmity.

Conquer the fires in which the senses groan,
Illumine that which dies in pleasure,
And hear how speak in ensouled tone
The powers that match eternal measure.
Attempt to strive in world-willed action,
Awaken him to life-benediction
.

You see, the more profound elements are only revealed when one approaches these things spiritually and really takes hold of their spiritual content. Now, in a single stroke, the Faust of Part Two appears before us — the Faust around whom Goethe placed a hovering circle of elves. He represents the human being who stands within the spiritual-aesthetic sphere. And there are parallel occurrences when he stands within the sphere of wisdom and truth, or within the moral sphere.

One really has to call on the assistance of the feelings if one is to grasp these things. In pursuing them, one is somehow reminded of Nietzsche's remark, ‘The world is deep, deeper than the day has thought!’ The day represents physical life, physical perception, physical experience. ‘The world is deep, deeper than the day has thought!’ And that it is, especially when the entire human being is included as part of it — this being who is following a path of cosmic evolution, and who, for us in our present stage, is beyond our powers to grasp. That means that in our present state of being we do not understand much about ourselves. So much, so inconceivably much, has gone into our becoming what we are. And there is so inconceivably much contained in the Earth evolution that is still to come, and in our passage through the spheres of Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan! Only little by little does one disentangle oneself from the implications of current thought and approach that which, because it is more spiritual, is more difficult to conceive and is rarely touched on by the habitual thinking of people of today. Observing man as he presently is on Earth, we see that the seeds, so to speak, of what will develop during Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan already are hidden within him. But the human being is also the result of the Saturn, Sun and Moon spheres. Yesterday I said that wisdom and everything concerned with truth was established on Old Sun and will be completed on Jupiter. Let us picture that graphically once more.

Diagram

The seed that was planted on Old Sun will more or less complete its development on Jupiter. Thus we can say: The period within which truth develops stretches from Sun to Jupiter. On Jupiter truth will have become thoroughly inward, and so will have become wisdom: Truth becomes wisdom!

Everything that belongs to the aesthetic sphere began on Old Moon. It will be completed on Venus. We could draw it in like this: From here, Moon, to completion here, Venus. This is where beauty develops. You see how it overlaps.

Everything contained within these two streams — and the third stream, also — is actually resting unconsciously in the depths of our being. And now, on Earth, the sphere we can call the sphere of morality is beginning. It will be completed on Vulcan. So we have a third, overlapping stream, the stream of morality. To these must be added a fourth stream that will be completed when the goals of the Earth sphere are achieved. Morality begins on Earth; but Earth also marks the completion of a higher order, one that was already beginning on Saturn. So we have another stream, another order, that flows from Saturn to Earth, and we will now call that the stream of justice — justice in the sense that was explained earlier. As you know, the senses had their beginnings on Saturn. These senses have the tendency to scatter a human being in all directions. You know that we distinguish twelve senses. The development of the twelve senses through Sun, Moon and Earth leads mankind to justice, to a rightness and uprightness that also includes moral justice and moral uprightness once it has been taken hold of by the moral nature of the Earth. Moral justice first makes its appearance on Earth. And justice works inwardly to counter the peripheral tendency of the senses; the sphere — or stream — of justice works toward the centre.

Everything pictured here is contained within the human being, but, as you know, the prevailing awareness includes only the smallest part of what is actively living and weaving in man. Nevertheless, this all continues to live in the depths of his being, working and weaving. And yet one can ask oneself: Are things as they appear? Is it really true that men grasp so little of how humanity is carried by this broad stream of being out of which it emerges?

Such an awareness is not just restricted to circles of the initiated. It is developing in humanity. There really are people who experience what lives and works in the streams which are carrying mankind along. Thanks to what could be called their natural gifts they feel it surge up during especially privileged moments. This is manifested in the most various ways. There are men who feel the depths of humanity in a higher sense than is often the case with external, philistine notions of religion. People often speak of guilt, and there are some pastors who try to deepen their flock's sense of things by leading them to experience guilt. But that is a superficial way of looking at things. This superficiality also has its justification, but one can go deeper. And those who have a deeper experience feel how morality connects with that glowing, resounding force that is streaming up from the powers that rule in the human depths. Self-knowledge would be much more common if people were not so timid and so afraid of getting to know themselves. But the awareness of what rules in the depths is already suppressed in the unconscious levels of the soul because people have such unconscious fear and inhibition and anxiety about confronting themselves in all their manifoldness and complexity. And when it does surge up, what comes glowing and gleaming from out of the depths really does make a sphinx-like impression. The experiences of others who have really felt such things in their own soul can be deeply moving.

The following literary passage expresses beautifully how the human depths can appear to a man from out the surging dreams of his soul life. One must imagine someone who has laid himself down to rest after the toils and the burdens of the day. But as he rests, out of the darkness and shadow, the human depths rise up before his soul in powerful dreams. Here is how a Polish poet once described it:

And in the secret magic of the night,
There, before my palace,
My dreams took hold of the ghostly mists and built
Unimaginable blossoms with dead eyes
That formed a balefully grinning Medusa
In the moonlight drenched with dew,
And she waxed monstrous. —
As the moon streamed into my chamber
And lay across the bed of my exhaustion —
I was roused from sleep by lecherous,
Monstrous desires
Which shuddered on my stammering lips
And sent hot fires of fever streaming from my eyes
Towards creatures that were yours!
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!
— My guilt, my most great guilt!

These words of Jan Kasprowicz (see Note 9) are a beautiful, lyrical expression of a quite wonderful experience, an experience that is at once questioning and also touches on the answers. The question is contained in the way this literary work makes the transition from memories of the day, through the aesthetic sphere, into the moral sphere — mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! One should not shrink from the questions that rise up out of the surging depths of life. These things are not there to rouse fear, but to kindle questions. The ‘unimaginable blossoms with dead eyes that formed a balefully grinning Medusa’ are questions, questions that have taken on the shapes of the plant kingdom. And as for how that is connected with the moon, we only have to remind ourselves of the stream that begins on Moon to understand how the silent floods of moonlight connect outer physical reality with spiritual experience. One has here a wonderful description of a spiritual experience:

And in the secret magic of the night.
There, before my palace,
My dreams took hold of the ghostly mists and built
Unimaginable blossoms with dead eyes
That formed a balefully grinning Medusa
In the moonlight drenched with dew,
And she waxed monstrous. —
As the moon streamed into my chamber
And lay across the bed of my exhaustion —
I was roused from sleep by lecherous,
Monstrous desires

— just think of the third speech, to the spirits of the moral sphere —

I was roused from sleep by lecherous,
Monstrous desires
Which shuddered on my stammering lips
And sent hot fires of fever streaming from my eyes
Towards creatures that were yours!
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!
— My guilt, my most great guilt
!

Then think of how the moral sphere shines into the stupefying fires of the senses, conquering them and illuminating that which dies in pleasure — and of how it is greeted by the resounding of ensouled powers that match eternal measure.

Yes, if one wants to delve deeply into everything that relates to humanity, one must certainly call on the help of the feelings. That is the only way one ever will arrive at a picture of how, when a human being steps onto the physical plane, he can live his way into the spiritual realms — the realms of morality, of aesthetics, and of that which has to do with conceptions and with truth. For a human being does not just enter into the mineral, plant and animal realms. Man remains human as he passes through all these realms. Mankind descends through the realms of mineral, plant, animal and human; and mankind ascends through the moral, the aesthetic, and through the realm of truth and wisdom. In this way, humanity participates in that wonderful stream of being that develops as it flows through Saturn, Sun, Moon and Earth and on towards Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan. There are lesser streams that overlap and unite in man, creating the separate forces he needs in the course of his development. These are granted to humanity from out of the deep impulses that rule the cosmos.



Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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