The Configuration and
Man's Physical Body.
In continuation of the
lecture yesterday concerning man's evolution, we will go back in thought
today to epochs in the remote past and consider matters relating to
them. Before speaking of the fact of reincarnation and discussing questions
of human destiny, however, we will pass in review lengthy periods in
ancient epochs of the evolution of humanity.
Man of the present age
confronts us as an assemblage of physical body, etheric body, astral body
and ego — the bearer of the ego, which means complete independence.
Neither the ego nor the astral body are the most perfect members of
man's being by reason of being more spiritual; the physical body, a
structure consisting of the most wonderful components, is the most perfect
member. What a truly magnificent structure it is, this physical body
of man! The astral body is admittedly more inherently spiritual but it
is less perfect; it is the bearer of joy and pain of urges, desires
and passions. Why is the physical body the more perfect? Think of man's
physical heart. It is a marvellous structure, holding its ground all
through life against attacks! The same applies to all the other organs
of the physical body. Wisdom itself is articulate in them. How does
the astral body behave toward the heart? Certainly not always wisely!
Because of its longings, the astral body needs to have the means for
enjoyment and it continually maltreats the physical body, continually
launches attacks upon the physical heart, which offers resistance. Why?
Because the process of building the physical body has occupied a far
longer period in the past than have the other bodies. The physical body
is the oldest member of man's being, hence also the most perfect. A
host of more advanced beings have already worked on it. Everything physical
and material has evolved from spirit, has developed into its present
form. The very first beginning of the human being in the physical world
was the establishment of his physical body. At that time there were
still no rudiments in the physical world of the etheric body, none of
the astral body nor of the ego-bearer.
Everything in the universe
is subject to the process of evolution, not only man but also a planet
such as our earth. Our earth, like man, has already existed in other
planetary embodiments, the first of which we call Saturn, the second,
Old Sun, and the third, Old Moon. We must not think here of the present
moon, which is only residue, dross or slag of the Old Moon.
We will now hear why our
moon has since olden time been called “moon.” Here it must
be remembered that the giving of names by the old occultists was by
no means fortuitous but of deep significance. The name given to a thing
or a being was always organically linked with what each was to express.
The preceding planetary embodiment of our earth was the Old Moon; the
still earlier embodiment was the Old Sun, not the present sun, which
is like a remembrance of that ancient Sun. Then we come to that cosmic
body to which it is now possible to look back with occult sight; this
cosmic body is Saturn, Old Saturn, of which we have already spoken.
I will now speak briefly
of the evolution of this ancient Saturn. To begin with, we must be clear
in our minds about the character of the basic elements of our outer
world, according to occultists. Ancient occultism distinguished the
four elements of earth, water, air, fire or warmth. For a modern physicist
this no longer has meaning; what modern science calls an element does not
coincide with what the occultist means by the word. The modern expression
“aggregate condition” means roughly the same as
“element.” Everything that is solid in present temperatures
on the earth is called
by the occultist, “earthy” or “solid”; a quartz
crystal, for example, in conditions of present-day temperatures, is
“earth” for the occultist. Everything fluid, also fluid
metals and so on, is “water” for him; everything aeriform
is “air.” What the modern physicists regards as a state
of the three “aggressive assemblages,” namely, fire, is
for the occultist, the fourth element. I well know that modern science
considers it a veritable abomination when fire is regarded not merely
as a condition but as something on a par with earth, water or air. On
Old Saturn you would have found no earth, water or air; warmth or fire
alone was in existence. If at that time — perhaps by putting a
chair in cosmic space — you had been able to observe the Saturn
evolution with clairvoyant sight, perception of it could only have been
through the sense of warmth; at first, this was purely warmth of soul,
inner warmth. With the exception of man, no single one of the beings
on the earth today was present. There was no mineral, plant or animal
kingdom. Under the conditions prevailing today, man needs the three
kingdoms for his organic structure; in that period of ancient Saturn
it was not so. The whole human being was a formation consisting only
of warmth. Otherwise, nothing whatever of man was in existence. Try
to think away from man as he is today everything physically perceptible,
even the in-haled air, and imagine that he consists only and entirely
of the warmth of the blood circulating in him, thus forming a picture
of the blood system as it is today. Such was the constitution of all
human beings on Saturn. For the occultist, a celestial body is only
an assemblage of spiritual beings. The earth, too, is an assemblage
of beings belonging to the mineral, plant, animal and human kingdoms.
The consciousness of
the men of ancient Saturn was also evolving. It was dull but comprehensive.
Only on the earth has the clear day consciousness of the present time
become possible. The consciousness of human beings on Saturn was dull
and in a curious state. Man, as you know, is today unconscious during
sleep. Now think of the plant, simply the physical plant without the
beings concealed behind it. There you have a demonstration of a still
deeper state, namely, dreamless sleep. The plant is a being in a condition
of deep sleep. Now think of a state of sleep that is still deeper, still
dimmer. this is the state of deep trance — the Saturn consciousness.
I will describe it to you by means of an example of conditions that are
abnormal in the modern age, occurring in a human being whose consciousness
remained backward. A girl who up to her eighteenth year was totally
unaccustomed to any form of alcoholic beverage was tempted by certain
circumstances to drink rapidly a number of glassfuls of red wine. On
account of certain organic conditions this made such an impression that
she fell into a moribund state. A pencil was put in her hand and she
began to make all kinds of drawings to which she added names. She had
no consciousness whatever of what she was doing. She was like a machine,
without life or consciousness. If you were to compare what this girl
wrote down with what is said in theosophical books about planets, the
structure of the universe today, and so on, you would find that what
she wrote is, it is true, a strange cosmology but, for all that, one
that in certain respects tallies with occult cosmology. The girl was
in a state of consciousness deeper than that of ordinary sleep. In such
a state the individual concerned is able in his dull consciousness to
move far, far over the earth and to give expression to cosmic facts.
The occultist knows that such a consciousness, dull and comprehensive,
without the pertinent ego, is present in a physical stone, and that
if the stone could be articulate it would be able to do what the girl
did. This consciousness, although dull, embraces vast regions. Such
was the consciousness of men on ancient Saturn.
Saturn itself was an entity
unconscious of its own identity, or better said, was possessed of a
low form of consciousness to be described by saying that it bore within
it a mirror-image of the whole cosmos and would have been capable of
delineating it. To understand what this implies we must consider other
matters. While man was finding on Saturn the sphere where the first
rudiments for his physical body could take shape, Saturn was at the
same time the stage at which other beings also were able to evolve,
beings whose rank today is much higher than that of man. We will clarify
this by quoting an utterance once made by an Egyptian sage to a Greek.
He said, “You Greeks remain forever big children. You know nothing
about the greatest secret of the Mysteries, namely, that gods were once
men.” It is no longer necessary for these beings to enter into
On ancient Saturn, then,
man was a kind of mineral; his consciousness was also on a par with
that of the mineral. But beings who today are at a stage far higher
than that of men once lived in human bodies. These are the Archai, First
Beginnings, or Spirits of Personality. They passed through their
“human” epoch on Old Saturn.
They were not men as we
are today but merely made use of the then “physical” body
in order to experience their human epoch, to acquire ego consciousness.
These sublime beings therefore acquired ego consciousness on Saturn
and used the human body as a vehicle deputizing as their bodily dwelling
place. Certain beings permeated the human physical body together with
their distinctive characteristics and for these, man today owes twofold
thanks. First, the faculty that alone enables an ego-bearer to find
a footing in him; it was these Spirits of Personality who endowed the
human body at that time with the form proceeding from their own nature.
But second, they also made it possible for man to develop selfishness.
Through the influence of the Spirits of Personality, man's body was
endowed with the germinal capacity to develop as a free personality
but at the same time to cultivate selfishness, egoism. If I wanted to
describe all the pertinent details of this process I should need not
one lecture or one lecture course but years. Hence, we can study steps
or stages only and we will consider seven such stages in the Saturn
evolution, each differing from the others.
At the first stage you
must picture to yourselves that as yet no physical warmth was present
but that this was only in preparation. All that was present was purely
of the nature of soul; soul warmth was present, and not until the midpoint
of Saturn evolution was the physical human body in existence, composed
of physical warmth substance. At the end of the Saturn evolution this
human body of warmth dissolves. There are seven stages: three preliminary
stages, a stage of physical warmth and three descending stages; each
of these seven stages has again seven sub-divisions of which it is better
not to speak at this point and to which we will return in the course
of studying the evolution of the earth. In modern theosophical literature
these stages are called rounds and globes.
But now we will ask,
came the substance out of which the human body was formed?” Sublime
spiritual beings poured forth their own being and let it flow down as
substance for the physical body of man. These beings were the Spirits
of Will or the Thrones. They made the sacrifice of allowing the outpouring
of their own being to take place. On Saturn, then, we find the Spirits
of Will or the Thrones who give the substance for the human body, then
the Spirits of Personality who inhabit Saturn during their human epoch
and man himself as a physical germinating entity. The Saturn evolution
takes its course in such a way that we must picture the beginning, the
zenith and the ebb. Thereafter, the whole planet passes through a pralaya.
We can think of the process in connection with the plant. The seed is
laid in the earth, decays and carries over the form into a new existence.
Just as between the first and the second plant there is an intermediate
condition, a hidden condition, so is it in the case of the planet. This
condition is called the “sleep of worlds.”
After this sleep of worlds,
when Saturn appeared again but metamorphosed, it was the Old Sun that
now came into existence. The difference between Saturn and Sun is that
the warmth substance of Saturn had densified to a gaseous state. Old
Sun retained the warmth but evolved something as well, namely, air,
so that on the Old Sun there was now warmth and air, and moreover light.
Saturn consisted of dark warmth; the second planet, Old Sun, consisted
of light — burning gas — warmth ether and air. Through Saturn
there came into existence once and forever the foundation for the existence
of the seed of the physical body of man. Now, on Old Sun, something
new is added. The etheric body is poured into this substance by spiritual
beings. This is the second planetary condition in which man has achieved
the status of a plant. There is life in him. Through the integration
of the etheric body, however, the physical body of man has also changed.
It does not retain the egg-form of the Saturn period but is membered
in itself. It is now a vibrant warmth egg in which forms of light gleam
and fade away and in which there are indentures. The etheric body now
works upon and elaborates the physical body.
Whereas on Saturn the
Thrones poured out from them-selves the substance of the physical body,
it is now other beings who pour out substance as their great sacrifice.
These beings are the Spirits of Wisdom, Dominions or Kyriotetes. The
more difficult sacrifice had been made by the Thrones. Had they not
created the foundation, the Spirits of Wisdom could not have begun their
Again there were beings
who passed through their “human” epoch on the Sun, namely, the
Archangels or Fire Spirits — Archangeloi in Christian esotericism.
Acting as substitutes they indwelt the body of man and in this way
developed their ego consciousness.
Something must here be
mentioned that it is important to remember. If, after pralaya, Saturn
had emerged directly as Sun, the bodies of men could not have received
the etheric body into themselves. On the new planet, Old Sun, there
had first to be a brief recapitulation of Saturn, during which the beings
concerned were obliged to assume their old form once again.
What other kind of beings
were to be found on Old Sun? Certain Spirits of Personality had not
reached their human stage on Saturn, had not succeeded in acquiring
their ego consciousness on Saturn. They were obliged to make up for
this on Old Sun and were therefore still at the same stage as their
companions on Saturn. Hence, on Old Sun they were obliged to live as
it were in a husk, in a mineral body that was not permeated by an etheric
body. On Old Sun, therefore, a structure consisting only of physical
body came into existence. Thus, structures of a lower grade existed
side by side with those that consisted of physical body and etheric
body, and these were the predecessors of our present animals. On Old
Sun, therefore, there were two kingdoms: a human kingdom and the kingdom
of the beings who, on Old Sun, were at the stage of the Saturn evolution.
They constitute our present animal kingdom. On Old Sun there were thus
two preliminary kingdoms, a human kingdom and an animal kingdom. The
successors of the latter are the present higher animals.
Old Sun now passes again
into a kind of “cosmic night” and is born again in a third
metamorphosis as Old Moon, which is able, at the beginning, to recapitulate
the earlier stages to which fluid or watery substance is now added.
When the separation of the Sun takes place, warmth and light go with
it; sublime beings also go forth together with the finer essences. What
has become fluid or “watery” goes forth as Moon, condenses
further and becomes a kind of secondary planet. At that time on Old
Moon, therefore, there were warmth, light and water. Man has his etheric
or light body as on Old Sun; the new element that is added on Old Moon
is what may be called tone or sound. In order to realize more clearly
what this means I will give an illustration. Think of a metal plate
covered with powder, across the edge of which a violin bow is drawn.
The powder shapes itself into definite forms — the sound figures
of the physicist. What we today recognize as sound or tone is the physical
configuration of the sound. The “water” on the Old Moon
was permeated with sound and thereby stirred into regular movement.
Inner experience is thereby made possible in the physical bodies of
beings on Old Moon; organs take shape, for example, the liver, but it
passes away again. The process is one of the forming and disappearance
of organs, an experience of figures and rhythms. The bodies present
are thus made ready to receive astral substance into themselves. The
impact of the primeval tone in the watery substance is expressed in
the Bible as follows: God arranged everything according to measure,
number and weight. The essentially new feature of Old Moon evolution
is therefore the process of inner oscillation that is forced, as it
were, into the physical substance. You must think of Old Moon as being
permeated by this inner oscillation, which is diversified into regular,
numerical rhythms. Earlier, on Saturn, it had been warmth formations that
built the human body; later, on Old Sun, it had been aeriform formations,
appearing like an aerial mirage, like a Fata Morgana. On Old Moon,
substance was now water, stirred into movement by inner oscillation.
Organic members involved in a process of inner metamorphosis were brought
into existence by this oscillation and shimmered through the human body.
You must conceive of this as a transient process of coming into being and
passing away again; thus, a liver or lung was formed in the human body and
then dissolved. Such were the conditions on Old Moon. The Bible expresses
it as follows: God once ordered everything according to number, measure
and weight. The inner oscillation is here meant.
Within Old Moon there
now, firstly, come into existence again the earlier structures of the
human body; the physical and etheric bodies are formed again. Why? Because
what first takes place on Old Moon is a repitition of the Saturn and
Old Sun embodiments. Only then does the real Old Mood come into existence.
Into the physical human body, which now contained the watery substance
on the one hand, and on the other, as a result of the inner oscillation,
was permeated by the primal tone and the etheric body, the Spirits of
Movement, Powers or Dynameis pour the astral body of man. They, as the
Spirits of Will on Saturn and the Spirits of Wisdom on the Sun had done,
now offer up, out of their own substance, the human astral body. Thus,
the development of the earth is continually progressing, and also that
of man himself who is to inhabit it.
The human physical body,
as you have heard, developed on Saturn. Through the three metamorphoses
— Saturn, Sun, Moon — it has now reached the third stage
of perfection. On Old Moon this physical body of man had come still
nearer to resemble its present form. But the further development that
was necessary for man's astral body would not have been possible on
the earth if a severance had not taken place at a certain point of time.
A basic mass of substance of the planet — the Old Moon —
remained; part of it went out and surrounded the basic mass. Firstly,
there was Saturn; secondly, Sun; thirdly, Moon. The best substances
and beings have now separated into a basic body which, during the earth
period, again separates and becomes a fixed star, higher in rank than
a planet. Still another body separates and remains a planet. The sun
of today was once a planet. If you were to take the present sun, the
present moon and the substance of our earth with its beings, and combine
them in a huge vessel, you would have Old Sun. If you were to combine
earth and moon you would have Old Moon.
In the course of the
of humanity, our sun separated from the planet earth. With it the best
substances and the best beings went out of the earth. The watery element,
becoming denser and denser, accompanied the sun. The dense figures and
forms are the bearers of the beings who inhabited Old Moon. Human beings
now chose a separate scene of action. A fixed star, a sun, always comes
into existence as the result of a planet having advanced. During this
process of evolution, men were not the only beings who were present
and had evolved to the stage of having as members the three bodies,
physical body, etheric body and astral body. There were also other beings
who had remained behind in their development.
The beings who had passed
through their “human” epoch. on Old Moon were the Angels,
called Angeloi in Christian esotericism and in India, Lunar Pitris.
The consciousness of these beings was different from that of men today.
But on Old Moon there were other beings as well. There were certain
Archangeloi who had remained backward on Old Sun and were now obliged
to repeat their “human” stage on Old Moon. There were also
beings who had reached the stage of Spirits of Personality, (i.e., the
Saturn stage of humanity) on Old Moon for the first time.
The Archangeloi who had
become backward on Old Sun, produced as human bodies structures that
had physical and etheric bodies only. This was a kingdom below that
of man, a kingdom that continued on the earth as the animal kingdom;
the beings belonging to it were the precursors of the physical bodies
of the present animal world, and beings who on Old Moon had only a physical
body were the precursors of the present plant kingdom, Thus, on Old
Moon there was a human kingdom, an animal kingdom and a plant kingdom,
on Saturn there was a human kingdom only, and on Old Sun a human kingdom
and and animal kingdom. The mineral kingdom is the last of the kingdoms
that have come into existence in the process of cosmic evolution. Man,
the human kingdom, is the oldest kingdom in the evolutionary process;
he was already there before the earth was in existence. On the earth
he then receives, in addition to this three bodies, the fourth member
of his being, the bearer of the ego.
1. For an explanation of “human”
An Outline of Occult Science,
Anthroposophic Press, 1972, pp. 125–6.