Christiania, 7th June, 1912.
My dear Friends,
YESTERDAY we made a general survey of some of the various forms of
mysticism. We saw how the mystic, and especially the mystic of modern
Christian times, is one who sets out to tread the occult path and
undertakes in the first place, in preparation for the same, to
overcome and transcend his personal everyday ego-consciousness.
We had to show also from examples we brought forward, how it is
possible for such a mystic to miss the road. Having done his best to
extinguish ordinary consciousness, then in the moment when a
super-sensible experience ought to emerge in its place, it may well be
that he enters into a region which excludes the possibility of all
experience whatsoever. We saw how this has actually happened in the
case of eminent mystics. We found that one very distinguished mystic
spoke of the goal she had in view as a marriage and a
union. At the same time we had to describe this marriage
or union as inevitably involving a loss of self. The mystic is
estranged from himself, he no longer possesses himself, but passes
over as it were in a kind of higher sleep into a
completely different element.
Herein lies the cause why mysticism, generally speaking, although it
can be a path to occultism, does not attain to the consciousness that
is without an object. For the moment the mystic leaves the objects of
this world, he loses also consciousness itself, and another state
intervenes, a kind of intoxication; he loses himself and so cannot
attain to what we named as the third element of occult experience
that higher consciousness which possesses not one of all the
objects consciousness ordinarily possesses and yet still is a
I want now today to show you how the occultist on the other hand
contrives to make, as it were, the leap out of ordinary consciousness
and yet not lose himself but still retain something within which he
himself can live. Let us first ask ourselves the question: How is it
that the fact that in the case of the majority of mystics, the most
thorough investigation can discover no inner compelling reason why
they should go out of themselves. No such inner need is present.
It would be quite easy, in the case of the mystics of whom we spoke
yesterday, to point to external grounds that induced them to overstep
the bounds of their own personality. In Saint Francis of Assisi, for
instance, there is evidence of inherited clairvoyant, visionary
states; and in the case of the various women mystics we cited, it was
the personality I say expressly, the personality
of Jesus Himself, Whom they regarded as a Bridegroom. Had it not been
for the Christian tradition that worked upon them as a stimulus from
without, they would never have arrived at their mystical state. In the
case of all the mystics whom we studied yesterday, there was this
external stimulus, but there was no inward compelling cause
that moved them to overstep the bounds of self. Such an inward
compelling cause is present in the case of the true aspirant after
occultism. We may picture it to ourselves in the following way.
Imagine that someone sets out to meditate upon his ego, that strange
and mysterious member of man's nature, the very centre of his
consciousness He will note in the first place how it is the ego that
holds his life together on the earth. If you study your life, you will
quickly discover that your external substantial body has very little
to do with your continued existence on this earth. Natural science can
tell you that the substance of the body is completely renewed in the
course of seven or eight years; so that there will certainly not be
many of you who can claim to have today anything at all of the bodily
substance you had as children: all of you will have to admit that your
body has changed its substance completely and fundamentally in the
course of your life. It has, indeed, become an entirely new body. The
permanent element in your life is therefore most certainly not to be
found in the substance of the body. And if you now turn from the
external substance of the body and cast your eye over your inner life
of soul, over your thinking, feeling and willing, there too you cannot
fail to notice how much change has come about. Look back over the
years of your life and try to recall the thoughts still more,
the feelings and will impulses that held sway in you when you
were young. You have only to compare them with those of a later time
of life to see at once what fundamental changes go on in your inner
life of soul. It would not, however, occur to anyone in his senses to
speak of himself as being a different ego from what he was ten, twenty
or thirty years ago, or as many years ago as he can remember. The
moment a man did have to admit to himself that, let us say, from three
or four years of age up to seventeen he was one ego, but that since he
was seventeen years of age he had been another ego, in that
moment his being would be torn asunder; he would be, as we say, no
longer in his right mind. Our ego, which is the centre point of our
consciousness, must be assumed to be something that is permanent
throughout the course of earthly life. And yet, if we stop to think it
over, we soon discover that even this assumption concerning the ego is
not after all quite correct. When you speak to your fellowman of
yourself, you say I ; and you mean by I that
which has held your consciousness together during the course of your
earthly life. This is the fundamental feeling men have about the I or
ego, and it has led a number of philosophers to regard the I as
something which can be taken as a starting-point for any statement
about the nature of the human being. In all modern philosophy we find
again and again this inclination to take the ego as the
starting-point. From Fichte to Bergson to go no further back in
time you will find that philosophy is continually given this
orientation. Remarkable and significant results have come to light
from such considerations. Nevertheless, when one comes to reflect more
deeply, quite another thought suddenly thrusts itself forward. It is
this. We are constantly speaking of our ego and we are persuaded that
this ego is something that persists and is permanent for the whole of
earthly life; but do we really know this ego? Could we give any
description or definition of it? Careful reflection will show us that
the ego is not after all so permanent as we thought. Life itself
contradicts the philosophers who speak of an enduring ego and think
they can have knowledge of it. Every night when man goes to sleep, the
permanent ego is disproved. For when man is asleep it is
extinguished. So that when we speak of our ego in this way, we are in
error. We contemplate our life, forgetting that we are omitting
entirely what happens to our ego during sleep! This ego, of which we
know that it belongs to us,in the night we know nothing of it at
all. Therefore, when we think of our ego, we have to make the picture
not of a continuous, but of an interrupted line.
How can such a thing be? How can it be that ego-consciousness is
continually being broken? The explanation is that when we speak of the
ego we mean really no more than the thought or idea of the ego. And
since all ideas sink down in sleep into the darkness of
unconsciousness, so does also the thought of the ego. The very fact
that it sinks away with all our world of ideas should demonstrate to
us that in the ego as we conceive it we have merely a picture or image
of that of which we mean to speak when we say I.
We shall not, therefore, be able to find in the ego the occult
starting-point for which we are looking. For the ego is only there for
us, to begin with, as a picture. It is, however, a picture of a unique
kind, the study of which can bring us to a very interesting result.
For how in any case do pictures and ideas come into the soul? Through
the fact that man has around him objects. If you examine carefully the
ideas with which your consciousness is filled, you will find they are
aroused by external objects, they are all originally
pictures of external objects. Herein lies the source of our life of
ideation; we owe it to the stimulation of external objects. If the
objects were not there we should never have ideas of them. With the
idea of the I, however, it is different. In this respect the
picture we have of the I is unique. In the world outside, look where
you will, you can find no object to arouse it. This it is that
distinguishes the idea of the I from all other ideas, We can point to
no object that is the origin of it. Whatever it is that lives in the
idea of the I and clothes itself in the words I am, we
cannot find it anywhere in the whole wide compass of external
We are obliged, therefore, to admit that behind the idea of the I lies
something totally unknown, something that is nowhere to be found in
the external world in so far as this is open to man's perception. A
strange and a marvellous thing, this I of ours! If we could lay hold
of it inside us, as Bergson and others think we can, if it were
possible to grasp more of it than the mere picture or idea, then we
would be able to say that we had not perhaps very much, but
something of an earthly reality that is not given from without.
But we cannot catch it, we cannot reach it!
There is, however, one thing we can know of this ego, one thing
that can serve as a fulcrum, like the fulcrum Archimedes called for
long ago, that he might unhinge the Earth. One thing we can discover
when we focus our attention upon the I. Among all the multitude of
questions and riddles that present themselves to us when we turn our
thought to the outer world, there is one particular question that
calls loudly for an answer, and it is the question which every
aspirant after occultism must face if he would make the leap out of
consciousness. He must ask himself: In all the wide realm of
earthly experience, do you see nothing at all of which you can say
that it brings to expression the innermost part of your own being? Do
you find nowhere anything in which your ego is expressed?
To search for such an expression in our inner life will only
lead to disappointment. There we simply enter into our transitory and
fleeting ideas, and we can never be sure of finding anything to lead
us beyond this world of temporal ideas. In any case we can never hope
to get free of our personality the very thing we must do as
occultists so long as we are gazing perpetually into it! In the
external world outside us on the other hand, there are only the
experiences of man on Earth. Any expression of what corresponds to the
I in man must needs be an external expression. The I itself we cannot
reach; but when we look around us, we do find something that is an
expression and for the moment, the one and only expression
for our I. It is the human form or figure.
We have here reached a difficult point in our consideration, but we
must find the way to master it. In the first place let me ask you to
understand the term human form as indicating the form of
man as we meet with it in the external world You will, I think, not
have any difficulty in following me when I say that as a plant is in
its outward form the expression of its nature and being, as a crystal
is formed in such a way as to correspond with its inner being, and as
an animal too has a form that corresponds with its inner being, so
must the human form correspond with the nature and being of man. And
since from out the whole range of our earthly experiences we gather
together our being in our I, the human form must needs be an
expression of the human I. In other words, in all the vast realm of
our experience there is this one thing the human form or figure
which is an expression of the human being. It sounds a trivial
thing to say, but it is in reality one of the most important
utterances that can be made, and one upon which we do well to ponder
The occultist must now go further. Of the ego he can say that he
expresses it when he says I, but he cannot say that he
has it, that it is there for perception. What he has, what
is there, is the idea of the ego. The human form, on the other
hand, seems to be there. And so the occultist finds himself in a
strange and puzzling situation. He meets at every turn the human form,
the expression of the human ego, while the ego itself still eludes
There is here only one possible course for the occultist to follow.
And it is this. He must clearly understand that it is no different
with the human form than it is with a human ego. If the human form be
always there, then it does not correspond to the ego that is not
always there. We are faced with the necessity of coming somehow to
understand that the human form which apparently we encounter
every minute of our life is not there, has no existence among
earthly objects. It is exceedingly important to arrive at a perception
that the form of man is possessed of a peculiar quality, and one in
which it very nearly resembles the idea of the ego. For the human form
too in its external aspect deceives us, it lies to us. That is what
the occultist comes to realise, that the human form lies to
him, pretending to be an expression of man's being, claiming to be
there as plain reality, when all the time man's being remains hidden.
As you will see, we should be coming no nearer the goal we have set
before us namely, a consciousness that has no object and
is yet a consciousness if we set about acquiring a
consciousness of the human form, since the human form is after all an
external object! This means that the human form as we meet it in
life cannot be what we are looking for as an expression of the
Now the occultist must of course know that he cannot live in ideas and
conclusions that are taken from the world outside, the experiences to
which he has now to penetrate cannot be received from without; for
what comes to him from without goes to make up his Earth
consciousness, and this he wants to transcend. When the occultist
looks at the human form, what he has to do is to experience something
in it that leads him out beyond Earth consciousness.
Is it possible to experience in the human form something that leads us
out beyond all Earth consciousness? Yes, it is possible. Let us look
first at the human countenance and observe the impression it makes
upon us. If we want to attain a true perception of the human
countenance, we must not be so foolish as to cling to our accustomed
ideas of it. For we have here to enter upon a profound experience that
will lead at last to the startling conclusion that the human
countenance is not as it should be. We learn to see how the human
countenance and all that belongs to it indeed the whole of the
upper part of man has undergone change in course of time
through the working of pride in the soul of man, pride and
haughtiness and presumption.
This is the first experience we have to meet, when we begin to
overstep the bounds of ordinary consciousness. We enter right down
into a deep and original feeling of the soul where we say: You
lie to me, you human countenance and human head! Through pride and
presumption you have given yourself a form you should not have. As I
look at the whole upper part of man, I begin to see through
your appearance; when I behold how pride and presumption have made
their impress on man throughout many incarnations, then I begin to
perceive an original human countenance that is quite different from
you. Thus, looking at the upper part of man, we perceive how
through pride and presumption man has changed his original form.
A further observation has then to be made, and this time it concerns
the remaining parts of the human figure. Here again, when the deepest
and original perceptions of the soul are aroused, we have the
impression that the human form is lying to us. The remaining parts of
it these too, no less than the head, ought to be different from
what they are. Again we have to discover and eliminate some
interfering influence in order to come to the original; and here it is
passionate longing and desire. Changed in form and figure has man
become, above through pride and presumption,
below through desire. If desire were not aflame within him,
then the lower part of his organism would have a different form.
These two experiences are fundamental, upon them we must build. They
are experiences that it is possible to have and that can lead one to
pronounce two judgments, that man is too proud and that man is
too full of longing and desire. They are definite inner experiences in
consciousness and they force themselves upon one if one looks at the
human being with the soul's deepest powers of perception. But what
about their origin? Have they been aroused by any object in the whole
wide world of Earth life? They are, as we have seen, only present when
man begins to feel the imperfection of his own form, when he feels
that his form had originally a different plan and character and has
become changed through the working of pride and desire. It is not,
therefore, any external object that has occasioned these experiences.
Yet they are experiences that can make their appearance in human
consciousness, that can be there simply through the fact that man
lives his life on Earth together with his environment.
We have here made a discovery of extraordinary importance, namely,
that it is possible to come to an inner judgment, an inner experience,
that has no object. And this inner experience has the following
result. The occult student conceives a dislike for his human form. He
says to it: You are false. He withdraws from it,
not like the mystics of whom we spoke yesterday, who, when they
withdraw themselves, retain nothing of the experiences of Earth. No,
the occultist steps forth out of ordinary experience and takes
something with him; what he takes is a judgment about the human form.
It is a judgment to which, in fact, expression has been given by man
again and again in countless different ways.
What has here been described is, so to speak, the first elementary
perception that stands at the beginning of occult consciousness,
if it is genuine occult consciousness and not mere mystical
experience. At the very beginning stands a judgment about the human
being. The human form as such has been extinguished; not so,
however, all inner experience. There remains a judgment concerning
man, which says to him: It is Earth life that has made you as
you are; the form in which we see you now refers us back to another
and altogether different form.
In order to see quite clearly that we have here to do with the dawning
of a consciousness without object, it will be necessary
for us to study a little more closely this human form or figure. For
when we showed how the occult student makes this leap out of himself,
retaining only a kind of judgmatic feeling about the human form
finding fault with the one half for being too proud and with the other
half for being too full of desire we were speaking of an inner
experience that is rather indefinite. As a matter of fact it is one
which leads on, as we shall see later, to the highest regions of
spiritual experience; as yet, however, it is undefined.
To come to greater definiteness, let us now study the human form in
some detail. Speaking in scientific language, let us dissect the human
form! When we try to do so, we are at once struck by the remarkable
fact that the human form divides up of itself quite naturally into
various members, We shall see clearly what these members are when we
enquire how man came to receive his present form. We shall find that
the truths which are drawn from the deep wells of occultism give us a
complete picture of the memberment of the human form, show us how the
human form has been put together.
The first thing about the human form that arrests our attention, the
first thing in his form that makes man, is what I laid stress on in
the opening words of these lectures, the fact that it is
upright. Man is a being who walks upright. That is the first
important thing about him, so to speak, the first member of his
form his upright posture.
It will perhaps seem to you as though there were something arbitrary
about the way I am dissecting the form of man. But if you follow
closely and carefully, you will see that it is not really so at all;
the fact is, the essential being of man, as described for us in occult
knowledge, is reflected in his form or figure.
The second thing that makes man man and that will also be readily
recognised as essential to the human form, is the fact that he is so
constituted as to enable him to be a speaking being. Sound can
be born in him. Consider how essential a characteristic this is. In
general, man is organised in an upward direction, and in particular he
is so organised that his speech organs, beginning from the heart and
larynx, go upwards, up to the face. Study the human being from
this aspect and you will find that all the forms of the limbs are so
arranged as to suit the creation and the moulding and forming of
spoken sound. Thus we can say, the second important factor in the
ordering of the members of the human form is that they are ordered and
disposed with a view to speech.
The third thing that we have to regard as important for the form of
man is the fact that it is symmetrical. Inevitably one feels
that the human form would lose something of its real nature if it were
not symmetrical. That then is the third essential, that the limbs and
members are symmetrically disposed. As we know, there are exceptions,
but the quality of symmetry is essential.
The fourth thing that comes into consideration manifests in the
following way. If you will observe attentively these three first
members of man's form upright posture, speaking, symmetry
you will see that they are all directed outwards. The fact that
man holds himself upright is something that places him into the
external world. Speech is again something that obviously relates him
to the external world. Finally, the symmetry of his form gives him a
certain balance in space. Now we come to a different aspect. We come
to the fact that man has an inside. From the purely physical point of
view man has organs that are enclosed within his skin. We may,
therefore, say that man has as the fourth member of his form the fact
of enclosure within the skin, so that the organs on which the
inner functions depend are inside and are protected from the external
world. Enclosure or isolation within the skin is thus something that
properly belongs to the human form.
To find the fifth member of the human form, you must give your
attention to the fact that within it, in the parts that are shut away
from the outside, we find organs, active inner organs. All that
lives and works inside man that is the fifth thing we have to
note. That there is movement and life within him can convince us that
man as he stands before us in his form is not dependent merely on the
external world, but is dependent on his own inner man as well he has
within him as it were a centre for all the weaving of his life and
being. Contrast, for example, with the members we have already
described, such a thing as the circulation of the blood. There you
have a process that takes its course entirely inside man, it is
something completely isolated from the world outside. Thus we have as
fourth member the fact of enclosure or isolation, and as fifth, the
inside of man that is so enclosed.
But now there is something further we have to observe about this
inside of the human form. Looked at from the purely physical aspect,
it is a duality. There are, first of all, organs like the lungs and
heart, which owe their form to a compromise, for they receive an
influence also from without. Even the heart, by reason of its
connection with the lungs, has to be adapted to outside conditions.
The air from outside enters into man through the lungs and is by this
means brought into contact with the inner organs. Then we have, on the
other hand, organs which show by their form that they are adapted
solely and entirely to the inside of the body. These are the organs of
the abdomen. They owe their very shape and form to the fact that they
are inside man. It is quite possible to imagine that the stomach,
intestines, liver or spleen, if they were differently formed, could
still be in connection with the heart and lungs and in some way or
other fulfil their right and proper functions. When once the external
world has found entrance into the lungs, then all the inner organs can
assume their own several forms. They are determined entirely from
within. So that we may say we have, as sixth, a member of the human
which we may call the true inside of man in the bodily sense.
It is important to realise that here we have a member of the human
form which has no connection with the outside world.
We have now come to a boundary in the human form, where the outward
direction begins to work again, where once more we find something that
has strong relation to the outside world. Consider the shape of man's
foot. If it were not formed for the ground, if it had not a sole, man
would not be able to walk. If his foot, for example, ended in a point,
he would be continually falling down. Thus, as we follow the human
form downwards, we come again to organs that are adapted to external
conditions. At the same time we note that the feet, and also the legs,
help to give man his distinctively human form. If man were a fish, or
if he were a creature that flies in the air, these organs would have
to be formed quite differently; as it is, their form expresses the
fact that man is a being who stands and walks upon the earth. All the
organs from the hips downwards are shaped with this end in view,
that man shall be a being able to work and stand and walk upon
the earth. So that we may say, in the hips we have, as seventh member,
a condition of balance What is above the place of balance is
either given an outward direction in its form, or as we have seen,
turned inwards; what is below is formed in a downward direction. In
the hips you have a point of equilibrium between these tendencies. Of
all that comes below the hips, we may say that it is adapted to
Then we have as eighth member organs that are entirely orientated with
a view to conditions outside the human being,the organs of
reproduction. Continuing further, a little reflection will enable
you to see that for man to walk in the way that is proper to him, the
thigh must be separate from the leg, there must be the bend between
them. And so he has, joined on to the thigh, the knee, making
it possible for him to adapt himself in his walk to earthly
conditions. For it is earthly conditions that determine altogether the
lower part of the figure of man. Then we have the leg and,
separated again from it, the foot. Perhaps you will say, what
about the hands? We shall see in the next lecture why the hands are
left out in this connection.
And now I will ask you to follow this list we have made of the members
of man's form.
- Upright posture.
- Orientation to the utterance of Sound.
- Enclosure within itself.
- The Interior of man that is so enclosed.
- The Interior of man in bodily aspect, having no connection with the outside world.
- Organs of Reproduction.
As I said before, it might at first sight appear arbitrary to show the
human form divided in this way into twelve members. But everything man
requires in his form in order for him to be man on earth is
really comprised in these twelve members (I will explain tomorrow how
it is with the hands), and in such a way that each member has a
certain independence, each member is separate from the others. One
could even imagine that each one of them, while remaining still in
connection with the others, might assume quite another form from the
form it actually has. It is perfectly possible in each single case to
imagine other shapes or forms for the several members; but that the
whole human figure stands before us as the result of the conjunction
of twelve such members, is a fact that cannot be disregarded.
When you reflect upon the whole meaning and intention of man's
existence upon Earth, you cannot leave out of account that he has a
form and figure membered in this particular way, so that when we come
to study his form we must inevitably think of it as divisible into
twelve parts or members. These twelve members have always been
regarded in occultism as of the deepest possible significance. We are
bound to take them into consideration if we would understand the
meaning of the form and figure of man in its relation to his being.
Occultism has always known of them, and for reasons which will become
clear to us in the course of these lectures, as we continue our study
of man in the light of occultism, philosophy and theosophy, the twelve
members have received twelve specific designations.
What we gave as the first member has been called Ram
(Aries) and is denoted by the Sign ^.
The second is named Bull (Taurus) and symbolised with the
Symmetry is called Twins (Gemini) and is denoted with the
What we described as the quality of enclosure within itself is given
the Sign a and called Crab (Cancer).
What we described as the interior, the life that is so enclosed, is
called Lion (Leo) and symbolised with the Sign
The inner parts of man, that in bodily aspect have no connection at
all with the outside world and point to the threefold character of
man's nature, themselves typifying complete isolation from the outside
world, are called Virgin (Virgo) and denoted with the Sign
Then we come to the condition of balance and there, no explanation
will be needed for giving the name of Scales (Libra)
The organs of reproduction, which have once more the direction
outwards, are denoted by the expression Scorpion (Scorpio)
and symbolised with the Sign e.
The Thigh is called Archer (Sagittarius) and has the Sign
The knees, the Goat (Capricorn), are symbolised with the
The leg below the knee is Waterman (Aquarius) and has the
Finally, the feet are termed Fishes (Pisces) and have the
For the moment, I ask you to see in these Signs no more than signs and
signatures for the various members that go to make the complete human
form. Please regard them as nothing else than a means of
distinguishing the several members of the human form. You know very
well that these Signs belong to habits of mind and thought that are of
great antiquity, and in particular that they play a part in astrology.
I want you, however, to connect nothing else with them now than the
fact that with their help we are able to study the human form and see
how it lends itself naturally to division into twelve members. If it
should seem that we are giving rather strange names and signs to these
members of the human form, it is really only as it is with the sounds
of human speech, where we cannot by any means always quickly recognise
the meaning from the sound, or, shall we say, as it is with the
letters of the alphabet, of which we are often quite unable to say at
once why they designate this or that sound. All we have done is to
find an expression for the twelve-membered figure of man and, for
convenience of further reference, give these members names which have
here and there found their way out of occultism into general use.
- Upright posture ^.
- Orientation to the utterance of Sound _.
- Symmetry `.
- Enclosure within itself a.
- The Interior of man that is so enclosed b.
- The Interior of man that in bodily aspect has no connection with the outside world c.
- Balance d.
- Organs of Reproduction e.
- Thigh f.
- Knee g.
- Leg h.
- Feet i.