‘MEDITATION’ AND ‘INSPIRATION’
1st February, 1924
SHALL now continue, in a
certain direction, the more elementary considerations recently begun. In
the first lecture of this series I drew your attention to the heart's real,
inner need of finding, or at least seeking, the paths of the soul to
the spiritual world. I spoke of this need meeting man from two directions:
from the side of Nature, and from the side of inner experience.
Today we will again place these two aspects of human life before us
in a quite elementary way. We shall then see that impulses from the
subconscious are really active in all man's striving for knowledge in
response to the needs of life, in his artistic aims and religious
You can quite easily study the opposition, to which I here refer, in
yourselves at any moment.
one quite simple fact. You are looking, let us say, at some part of
your body — your hand, for example. In so far as the act of cognition
itself is concerned you look at your hand exactly as at a crystal, or
plant, or any other natural object. But when you look at this part of
your body and go through life with this perception, you encounter that
seriously disturbing fact which intrudes on all human experience and
of which I spoke. You find that what you see will one day be a corpse;
external Nature, on receiving it, has not the power to do anything else
than destroy it. The moment man has become a corpse within the physical
world and has been handed over to the elements in any form, there is
no longer any possibility that the human form, which has been impressed
on all the substances visible in his body, will be able to maintain
forces of Nature which you can make the subject of any scientific study
are only able to destroy man, never to build him up. Every unprejudiced
study that is not guided by theory but controlled by life itself, leads
us to say: We look at Nature around us in so far it is intelligible.
(We will not speak, for the present, of what external cognition cannot
grasp.) As civilised people of today we feel we have advanced very far
indeed, for we have discovered so many laws of Nature. This talk of
progress is, indeed, perfectly justified. Nevertheless, it is a fact
that all these laws of Nature are, by their mode of operation, only
able to destroy man, never to build him up. Human insight is unable,
at first, to discover anything in the external world except laws of
Nature which destroy man.
now look at our inner life. We experience what we call our psychical
life, i.e. our thinking, which can confront us fairly clearly, our feeling,
which is less clearly experienced, and our willing, which is quite hidden
from us. For, with ordinary consciousness, no one can claim insight
into the way an intention — to pick up an object, let us say —
works down into this very complicated organism of muscle and nerve in
order to move, at length, arms and legs. What it is that here works
down into the organism, between the formation of the thought and the
perception of the lifted object, is hidden in complete darkness. But
an indefinite impulse takes place in us, saying: I will this. So we
ascribe will to ourselves and, on surveying our inner life, speak of
thinking, feeling and willing.
is another side, and this introduces us again — in a certain sense
— to what is deeply disturbing. We see that all this soul life
of man is submerged whenever he sleeps and arises anew when he wakes.
If we want to use a comparison we may well say: The soul life is like
a flame which I kindle and extinguish again. But we see more. We see
this soul life destroyed when certain organs are destroyed. Moreover,
it is dependent on bodily development; being dreamlike in a little child
and becoming gradually clearer and clearer, more and more awake. This
increase in clarity and awareness goes hand in hand with the development
of the body; and when we grow old our soul life becomes weaker again.
The life of the soul thus keeps step with the growth and decay of the
body. We see it light up and die away.
sure we may be that our soul, though dependent in its manifestations
on the physical organism, has its own life, its own existence, this
is not all we can say about it. It contains an element man must value
above all else in life, for his whole manhood — his human dignity
— depends on this. I refer to the moral element.
deduce moral laws from Nature however far we may explore it. They have
to be experienced entirely within the soul; there, too, we must be able
to obey them. The conflict and settlement must therefore take place
entirely within the soul. And we must regard it as a kind of ideal for
the moral life to be able, as human beings, to obey moral principles
which are not forced upon us. Yet man cannot become an ‘abstract
being’ only obeying laws. The moral life does not begin
until emotions, impulses, instincts, passions, outbursts of temperament,
etc., are subordinated to the settlement, reached entirely within the
soul, between moral laws grasped in a purely spiritual way and the soul
The moment we become truly conscious of our human dignity and feel we
cannot be like beings driven by necessity, we rise to a world quite
different from the world of Nature.
disturbing element that, as long as there has been human evolution at
all, has led men to strive beyond the life immediately visible, really
springs from these two laws — however many subconscious and
unconscious factors may be involved: We see, on the one hand, man's
bodily being, but it belongs to Nature that can only destroy it; and,
on the other hand, we are inwardly aware of ourselves as soul beings who
light up and fade away, yet are bound up with what is most valuable in
us — the moral element.
only be ascribed to a fundamental insincerity of our civilisation that
people deceive themselves so terribly, turning a blind eye to this direct
opposition between outer perception and inner experience. If we understand
ourselves, if we refuse to be confined and constricted by the shackles
which our education, with a definite aim in view, imposes upon us, if
we free ourselves a little from these constraints we say at once: Man!
you bear within you your soul life — your thinking, feeling and
willing. All this is connected with the moral world which you must value
above all else — perhaps with the religious source of all existence
on which this moral world itself depends. But where is this inner life
of moral adjustments when you sleep?
one can spin philosophic fantasies or fantastic philosophies about these
things. One may then say: Man has a secure basis in his ego (i.e. in
his ordinary ego-consciousness). The ego begins to think in St. Augustine,
continues through Descartes, and attains a somewhat coquettish expression
in Bergsonism today. But every sleep refutes this. For, from the moment
we fall asleep to the moment of waking, a certain time elapses; and
when, in the waking state, we look back on this interval of time, we
do not find the ego qua experience. It was extinguished. And yet it
is connected with what is most valuable in our lives — the moral
we must say: Our body, whose existence we are rudely forced to admit,
is certainly not a product of Nature, which has only the power to destroy
and disintegrate it. On the other hand, our own soul life eludes us
when we sleep, and is dependent on every rising and falling tide of
our bodily life. As soon as we free ourselves a little from the constraints
imposed on civilised man by his education today, we see at once that
every religious or artistic aspiration — in fact, any higher striving
— no matter how many subconscious and unconscious elements be
involved, depends, throughout all human evolution, on these antitheses.
Of course, millions and millions of people do not realise this clearly.
But is it necessary that what becomes a riddle of life for a man be
clearly recognised as such? If people had to live by what they are clear
about they would soon die. It is really the contributions to the
general mood from unclear, subconscious depths that compose the main
stream of our life. We should not say that he alone feels the riddles
of life who can formulate them in an intellectually clear way and lay
them before us: first riddle, second riddle, etc. Indeed, such people
are the shallowest.
Someone may come who has this or that to talk over with us. Perhaps
it is some quite ordinary matter. He speaks with a definite aim in view,
but is not quite happy about it. He wants something, and yet does not
want it; he cannot come to a decision. He is not quite happy about his
own thoughts. To what is this due? It comes from the feeling of
uncertainty, in the subconscious depths of his being, about the real
basis of man's true being and worth. He feels life's riddles because of
the polar antithesis I have described.
Thus we can find support neither in the corporeal, nor in the spiritual
as we experience it. For the spiritual always reveals itself as something
that lights up and dies down, and the body is recognised as coming from
Nature which can, however, only destroy it.
stands between two riddles. He looks outwards and perceives his physical
body, but this is a perpetual riddle to him. He is aware of his
psycho-spiritual life, but this, too, is a perpetual riddle. But the
greatest riddle is this: If I really experience a moral impulse and have
to set my legs in motion to do something towards its realisation, it
means — of course — I must move my body. Let us say the
impulse is one of goodwill. At first this is really experienced entirely
within the soul, i.e. purely psychically. How, now, does this impulse of
goodwill shoot down into the body? How does a moral impulse come to move
bones by muscles? Ordinary consciousness cannot comprehend this. One may
regard such a discussion as theoretical, and say: We leave that to
philosophers; they will think about it. Our civilisation usually leaves
this question to its thinkers, and then despises — or, at least,
values but little — what they say. Well; this satisfies the head
only, not the heart. The human heart feels a nervous unrest and finds no
joy in life, no firm foundation, no security. With the form man's thinking
has taken since the first third of the fifteenth century magnificent
results in the domain of external science have been achieved, but nothing
has or can be contributed towards a solution of these two riddles —
that of man's physical body and that of his psychical life. It is just
from a clear insight into these things that Anthroposophy comes forward,
saying: True; man's thinking, in the form it has so far actually taken,
is powerless in the face of Reality. However much we think, we cannot
in the very least influence an external process of nature by our
we cannot, by mere thinking, influence our own ‘will-organism’.
To feel deeply the powerlessness of this thinking is to receive the
impulse to transcend it.
cannot transcend it by spinning fantasies. There is no starting point
but thought; you cannot begin to think about the world except by thinking.
Our thinking, however, is not fitted for this. So we are unavoidably
led by life itself to find — from this starting point in thought
— a way by which our thinking may penetrate more deeply into
existence — into Reality. This way is only to be found in what
is described as meditation — for example, in my book:
Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment.
Today we will only describe this path in bare outline, for we intend
to give the skeleton of a whole anthroposophical structure. We will
begin again where we began twenty years ago.
we may say, consists in experiencing thinking in another way than usual.
Today one allows oneself to be stimulated from without; one surrenders
to external reality. And in seeing, hearing, grasping, etc., one notices
that the reception of external impressions is continued — to a
certain extent — in thoughts. One's attitude is passive —
one surrenders to the world and the thoughts come. We never get further
in this way. We must begin to experience thinking. One does this by
taking a thought that is easily comprehended, letting it stay in one's
consciousness, and concentrating one's whole consciousness upon it.
Now it does not
matter at all what the thought may signify for the external world. The
point is simply that we concentrate our consciousness on this one thought,
ignoring every other experience. I say it must be a comprehensible
thought — a simple thought, that can be ‘seen’
from all sides [überschaubar]. A very, very learned man once asked
me how one meditates. I gave him an exceedingly simple thought. I told
him it did not matter whether the thought referred to any external reality.
I told him to think: Wisdom is in the light. He was to apply the whole
force of his soul again and again to the thought: Wisdom is in the light.
Whether this be true or false is not the point. It matters just as little
whether an object that I set in motion, again and again, by exerting
my arm, be of far-reaching importance or a game; I strengthen the muscles
of my arm thereby. So, too, we strengthen our thinking when we exert
ourselves, again and again, to per-form the above activity, irrespective
of what the thought may signify. If we strenuously endeavour, again
and again, to make it present in our consciousness and concentrate our
whole soul life upon it, we strengthen our soul life just as we strengthen
the muscular force of our arm if we apply it again and again to the same
action. But we must choose a thought that is easily surveyed; otherwise
we are exposed to all possible tricks of our own organisation. People
do not believe how strong is the suggestive power of unconscious echoes
of past experiences and the like. The moment we entertain a more
complicated thought demonic powers approach from all sides, suggesting
this or that to our consciousness. One can only be sure that one is
living in one's meditation in the full awareness of normal, conscious
life, if one really takes a completely surveyable thought that can
contain nothing but what one is actually thinking.
If we contrive
to meditate in this way, all manner of people may say we are succumbing
to auto-suggestion or the like, but they will be talking nonsense. It
all turns on our success in holding a ‘transparent’ thought
— not one that works in us through sub-conscious impulses in some
way or other. By such concentration one strengthens and intensifies his
soul life — in so far as this is a life in thought. Of course, it
will depend on a man's capacities, as I have often said; in the case of
one man it will take a long time, in the case of another it will happen
quickly. But, after a certain time, the result will be that he no longer
experiences his thinking as in ordinary consciousness. In ordinary
consciousness our thoughts stand there powerless; they are ‘just
thoughts’. But through such concentration one really comes to
experience thoughts as inner being [Sein], just as one experiences the
tension of a muscle — the act of reaching out to grasp an object.
Thinking becomes a reality in us; we experience, on developing ourselves
further and further, a second man within us of whom we knew
now arrives when you say to yourself: True, I am this human being who,
to begin with, can look at himself externally as one looks at the things
of nature; I feel inwardly, but very dimly, the tensions of my muscles,
but I do not really know how my thoughts shoot down into them. But after
strengthening your thinking in the way described, you feel your
strengthened thinking flowing, streaming, pulsating within you; you
feel the second man. This is, to begin with, an abstract characterisation.
The main thing is that the moment you feel this second man within you,
things begin to concern you in the way only terrestrial things did before.
In this moment, when you feel your thought take on inner life — when
you feel its flow as you feel the flow of your breath when you pay heed
to it — you become aware of something new in your whole being.
Formerly you felt for example: I am standing on my legs. The ground
is below and supports me. If it were not there, if the earth did not
offer me this support, I would sink into bottomless space. I am standing
on something. After you have intensified your thinking and come to feel
the second man within, your earthly environment begins to interest you
less than before. This only holds, however, for the moments in which
you give special attention to the second man. One does not become a
dreamer if one advances to these stages of knowledge in a sincere and
fully conscious way. One can quite easily return, with all one's wonted
skill, to the world of ordinary life. One does not become a visionary
and say: Oh! I have learnt to know the spiritual world; the earthly
is unreal and of less value. From now on I shall only concern myself
with the spiritual world. On a true, spiritual path one does not become
like that, but learns to value external life more than ever when one
returns to it. Apart from this, the moments in which one transcends
external life in the way described and fixes attention on the second
man one has discovered cannot be maintained for long. To fix one's
attention in this way and with inner sincerity demands great effort,
and this can only be sustained for a certain time which is usually not
Now, in turning our attention to the second man, we find at the same
time, that we begin to value the spatial environment of the earth as
much as what is on the earth itself. We know that the crust of the earth
supports us, and the various kingdoms of Nature provide the substances
we must eat if our body is to receive through food the repeated stimulus
it needs. We know that we are connected with terrestrial Nature in this
way. We must go into the garden to pick cabbages, cook and eat them;
and we know that we need what is out there in the garden and that it
is connected with our ‘first’ or physical man. In just the
same way we learn to know what the rays of the sun, the light of the
moon and the twinkling of the stars around the earth are to us. Gradually
we attain one possible way of thinking of the spatial environment of the
earth in relation to our ‘second man’, as we formerly thought
of our first (physical) body in relation to its physical environment.
And now we say to ourselves: What you bear within you as muscles, bones,
lung, liver, etc., is connected with the cabbage, the pheasant, etc.,
out there in the world. But the ‘second man’ of whom you have
become conscious through strengthening your thinking, is connected with
the sun and the moon and all the twinkling stars — with the spatial
environment of the earth. We become more familiar with this environment
than we usually are with our terrestrial environment — unless we
happen to be food-specialists. We really gain a second world which,
to begin with, is spatial.
to esteem ourselves inhabitants of the world of stars as we formerly
considered ourselves inhabitants of the earth. Hitherto we did not realise
that we dwell in the world of stars; for a science which does not go
as far to strengthen man's thinking cannot make him conscious of his
connection, through a second man, with the spatial environment of the
earth — a connection similar to that between his physical body
and the physical earth. Such a science does not know this. It engages
in calculations; but even the calculations of Astrophysics, etc., only
reveal things which do not really concern man at all, or — at
most — only satisfy his curiosity. After all, what does it mean
to a man, or his inner life, to know how the spiral nebular in Canes
venatici may be thought of as having originated, or as still evolving?
Moreover, it is not even true! Such things do not really concern us.
Man's attitude towards the world of stars is like that of some disembodied
spirit towards the earth — if such a spirit be thought of as coming
from some region or other to visit the earth, requiring neither ground
to stand on, nor nourishment, etc. But, in actual fact, from a mere
citizen of the earth man becomes a citizen of the universe when he
strengthens his thinking in the above way.
We now become conscious of something quite definite, which can be described
in the following way. We say to ourselves: It is good that there are
cabbages, corn, etc., out there; they build up our physical body (if
I may use this somewhat incorrect expression in accordance with the
general, but very superficial, view). I am able to discover a certain
connection between my physical body and what is there outside in the
various kingdoms of Nature. But with strengthened thinking I begin to
discover a similar connection between the ‘second man’ who
lives in me and what surrounds me in supra-terrestrial space. At length
one comes to say: If I go out at night and only use my ordinary eyes, I
see nothing; by day the sunlight from beyond the earth makes all objects
visible. To begin with, I know nothing. If I restrict myself to the earth
alone, I know: there is a cabbage, there a quartz crystal. I see both by
the light of the sun, but on earth I am only interested in the difference
I begin to know that I myself, as the second man, am made of that which
makes cabbage and crystal visible. It is a most significant leap in
consciousness that one takes here — a complete metamorphosis.
From this point one says to oneself: If you stand on the earth you see
what is physical and connected with your physical man. If you strengthen
your thinking the supra-terrestrial spatial world begins to concern
you and the second man you have discovered just as the earthly, physical
world concerned you before. And, as you ascribe the origin of your physical
body to the physical earth, you now ascribe your
‘second existence’ to the cosmic ether through
whose activities earthly things become visible.
From your own experience you can now speak of having a physical body
and an etheric body. You see, merely to systematise and think
of man as composed of various members gives no real knowledge. We only
attain real insight into these things by regarding the complete
metamorphosis of consciousness that results from really discovering
such a second man within.
I stretch out my physical arm and my physical hand takes hold of an
object. I feel, in a sense, the flowing force in this action. Through
strengthening my thought I come to feel that it is inwardly mobile and
now induces a kind of ‘touching’ within me — a touching
that also takes place in an organism; this is the etheric organism; that
finer, super-sensible organism which exists no less than the physical
organism, though it is connected with the supra-terrestrial, not the
The moment now arrives when one is obliged to descend another step,
if I may put it so. Through such ‘imaginative’ thinking as
I have described we come, at first, to feel this inward touching of the
second man within us; we come, too, to see this in connection with the
far spaces of the universal ether. By this term you are to understand
nothing but what I have just spoken of; do not read into it a meaning
from some other quarter. Now, however, we must return again to ordinary
consciousness if we are to get further.
if we are thinking of man's physical body in the way described, we readily
ask how it is really related to its environment. It is doubtless related
to our physical, terrestrial environment; but how?
If we take a
corpse, which is, indeed, a faithful representation of physical man
— even of the living physical man — we see, in sharp contours,
liver, spleen, kidney, heart, lung, bones, muscles and nerve strands.
These can be drawn; they have sharp contours and resemble in this
everything that occurs in solid forms. Yet there is a curious thing about
this sharply outlined part of the human organism. Strictly speaking, there
is nothing more deceptive than our handbooks of anatomy or physiology,
for they lead people to think: there is a liver, there a heart, etc.
They see all this in sharp contours and imagine this sharpness to be
essential. The human organism is looked upon as a conglomeration of
solid things. But it is not so at all. Ten per cent., at most, is solid;
the other ninety per cent. is fluid or even gaseous. At least ninety
per cent. of man, while he lives, is a column of water.
Thus we can say: In his physical body man belongs, it is true, to the
solid earth — to what the ancient thinkers in particular called
the ‘earth’. Then we come to what is fluid in man; and even
in external science one will never gain a reasonable idea of man until
one learns to distinguish the solid man from the fluid man this inner
surging and weaving element which really resembles a small ocean.
But what is terrestrial can only really affect man through the solid
part of him. For even in external Nature you can see, where the fluid
element begins, an inner formative force working with very great
uniformity. Take the whole fluid element of our earth — its water;
it is a great drop. Wherever water is free to take its own form, it takes
that of a drop. The fluid element tends everywhere to be drop-like.
is earthly — or solid, as we say today — occurs in definite,
individual forms, which we can recognise. What is fluid, however, tends
always to take on spherical form.
Why is this? Well, if you study a drop, be it small or as large as the
earth itself, you find it is an image of the whole universe. Of course,
this is wrong according to the ordinary conceptions of today; nevertheless
it appears so, to begin with, and we shall soon see that this appearance
is justified. The universe really appears to us as a hollow sphere into
which we look.
Every drop, whether small or large, appears as a reflection of the universe
itself. Whether you take a drop of rain, or the waters of the earth
as a whole, the surface gives you a picture of the universe. Thus, as
soon as you come to what is fluid, you cannot explain it by earthly
forces. If you study closely the enormous efforts that have been made
to explain the spherical form of the oceans by terrestrial forces, you
will realise how vain such efforts are. The spherical form of the oceans
cannot be explained by terrestrial gravitational attraction and the
like, but by pressure from without. Here, even in external Nature, we
find we must look beyond the terrestrial. And, in doing this, we come
to grasp how it is with man himself.
as you restrict yourself to the solid part of man, you need not look
beyond the terrestrial in understanding his form. The moment you come
to his fluid part, you require the second man discovered by
strengthened thinking. He works in what is fluid.
now back again at what is terrestrial. We find in man a solid constituent;
this we can explain with our ordinary thoughts. But we cannot understand
the form of his fluid components unless we think of the second man as
active within him — the second man whom we contact within ourselves
in our strengthened thinking as the human etheric body.
we can say: The physical man works in what is solid, the etheric man
in what is fluid. Of course, the etheric man still remains an independent
entity, but he works through the fluid medium.
now proceed further. Imagine we have actually got so far as to experience
inwardly this strengthened thinking and, therefore, the etheric —
the second — man. This means, that we are developing great inner
force. Now, as you know, one can — with a little effort —
not only let oneself be stimulated to think, but can even refrain from
all thinking. One can stop thinking; and our physical organisation does
this for us when we are tired and fall asleep. But it becomes more
difficult to extinguish again, of our own accord, the strengthened
thinking which results from meditation and which we have acquired by
great effort. It is comparatively easy to extinguish an ordinary,
powerless thought; to put away — or ‘suggest away’
— the strengthened thinking one has developed demands a stronger
force, for one cleaves in a more inward way to what one has thus acquired.
If we succeed, however, something special occurs.
You see, our ordinary thinking is stimulated by our environment,
or memories of our environment. When you follow a train of thought the
world is still there; when you fall asleep the world is still there.
But it is out of this very world of visible things that you have raised
yourself in your strengthened thinking. You have contacted the
supra-terrestrial spatial environment, and now study your relationship
to the stars as you formerly studied the relation between the natural
objects around you. You have now brought yourself into relation with all
this, but can suppress it again. In suppressing it, however, the external
world, too, is no longer there — for you have just directed all your
interest to this strengthened consciousness. The outer world is not there;
and you come to what one can call ‘empty consciousness’.
Ordinary consciousness only knows emptiness in sleep, and then in the
form of unconsciousness.
What one now
attains is just this: one remains fully awake, receiving no outer sense
impressions, yet not sleeping — merely ‘waking’. Yet
one does not remain merely awake. For now, on exposing one's empty
consciousness to the indefinite on all sides, the spiritual world proper
enters. One says: the spiritual world approaches me. Whereas previously
one only looked out into the supra-terrestrial physical environment
— which is really an etheric environment — and saw what is
spatial, something new, the actual spiritual world, now approaches
through this cosmic space from all sides as from indefinite distances.
At first the spiritual approaches you from the outermost part of the
cosmos when you traverse the path I have described.
(rötlich — reddish; Blau — blue)
Click image for large view
thing is now added to the former metamorphosis of consciousness. One
now says: I bear with me my physical body (inner circle), my etheric
body (blue) which I apprehended in my strengthened thinking, and something
more that comes from the undefined — from beyond space. I ask you
to notice that I am talking of the world of appearance; we shall see
in the course of the next few days how far one is justified in speaking
of the etheric as coming from the spatial world, and of what lies beyond
us (red) coming from the Undefined. We are no longer conscious of this
third component as coming from the spatial world. It streams to us through
the cosmic ether and permeates us as a ‘third man’. We have
now a right to speak, from our own experience, of a first or physical
man, a second or etheric man, and a third or ‘astral man’.
(You realise, of course, that you must not be put off by words.) We bear
within us an astral or third man, who comes from the spiritual, not
merely from the etheric. We can speak of the astral body or astral
Now we can go further. I will only indicate this in conclusion so that
I can elaborate it tomorrow. We now say to ourselves: I breathe in,
use my breath for my inner organisation and breathe out. But is it really
true that what people think of as a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen enters
and leaves us in breathing?
Well, according to the views of present day civilisation, what enters
and leaves is composed of oxygen and nitrogen and some other things.
But one who attains ‘empty consciousness’ and then experiences
this onrush — as I might call it — of the spiritual through
the ether, experiences in the breath he draws something not formed out of
the ether alone, but out of the spiritual beyond it. He gradually learns
to know the spiritual that plays into man in respiration. He learns to
say to himself: You have a physical body; this works into what is solid
— that is its medium. You have your etheric body; this works into
what is fluid. But, in being a man — not merely a solid man or
fluid man, but a man who bears his ‘air man’ within him
— your third or astral man can work into what is airy or gaseous.
It is through this material substance on the earth that your astral man
fluid organisation with its regular but ever changing life will never
be grasped by ordinary thinking. It can only be grasped by strengthened
thinking. With ordinary thinking we can only apprehend the definite
contours of the physical man. And, since our anatomy and physiology
merely take account of the body, they only describe ten per cent of man.
But the ‘fluid man’ is in constant movement and never presents
a fixed contour. At one moment it is like this, at another, like that
— now long, now short. What is in constant movement cannot be
grasped with the closed concepts suitable for calculations; you require
concepts mobile in themselves — ‘pictures’. The etheric
man within the fluid man is apprehended in pictures.
or astral man who works in the ‘airy’ man, is apprehended not
merely in pictures but in yet another way. If you advance further and
further in meditation — I am here describing the Western process
— you notice, after reaching a certain stage in your exercises, that
your breath has become something palpably musical. You experience it as
inner music; you feel as if inner music were weaving and surging through
you. The third man — who is physically the airy man, spiritually
the astral man — is experienced as an inner musical element. In this
way you take hold of your breathing.
The oriental meditator did this directly by concentrating on his breathing,
making it irregular in order to experience how it lives and weaves in
man. He strove to take hold of this third man directly.
Thus we discover the nature of the third man, and are now at the stage
when we can say: By deepening and strengthening our insight we learn,
at first, to distinguish in man:
- the physical body which lives in solid forms on the earth
and is also connected with the terrestrial kingdoms,
- the fluid man in whom an ever mobile, etheric element lives and
which can only be apprehended in images (Bilder) — in moving,
- the astral man who has his physical copy or image (Abbild) in
all that constitutes the stream of inspired air.
stream enters and takes hold of our inner organisation, expands, works,
is transformed and streams out again. That is a wonderful process of
becoming. We cannot draw it; we might do so symbolically, at most, but
not as it really is. You could no more draw this process than you could
draw the tones of a violin. You might do this symbolically; nevertheless
you must direct your musical sense to hearing inwardly —
i.e. you must attend with your inner, musical ear and not merely listen
to the external tones. In this inward way you must hear the weaving
of your breath — must hear the human astral body. This is the third
man. We apprehend him when we attain to ‘empty consciousness’
and allow this to be filled with ‘inspirations’ from
Now language is really cleverer than men, for it comes to us from primeval
worlds. There is a deep reason why breathing was once called inspiration.
In general, the words of our language say much more than we, in our
abstract consciousness, feel them to contain.
are the considerations that can lead us to the three members of man
— the physical, the etheric and the astral bodies — which
find expression in the solid, fluid and airy ‘men’ and have
their physical counterparts in the forms of the solid man, in the changing
shapes of the fluid man and in that which permeates man as an inner music,
experienced through feeling. The nervous system is indeed the most
of this inner music. It is built from out of the astral body —
from out of this inner music; and for this reason it has, at a definite
part, the wonderful configuration of the spinal cord with its attached
nerve-strands. All this together is a wonderful, musical structure that
is continually working upwards into man's head.
A primeval wisdom that was still alive in Ancient Greece, felt the presence
of this wonderful instrument in man. For the air assimilated through
breathing ascends through the whole spinal cord. The air we breathe in
‘enters’ the cerebro-spinal canal and pulsates upwards towards
the brain. This music is actually per-formed, but it remains unconscious;
only the upper rebound is in consciousness. This is the lyre of Apollo,
the inner musical instrument that the instinctive, primeval wisdom still
recognised in man. I have referred to these things before, but it is
my present intention to give a resume of what has been developed within
our society in the course of twenty-one years.
I shall go further and consider the fourth member of man, the ego
organisation proper. I shall then show the connection between these
various members of man and his life on earth and beyond it — i.e.
his so-called eternal life.