Metamorphoses of the Soul
Paths of Experience
By Rudolf Steiner
Copyright © 1983
These lectures deal with spiritual science and language, laughing and
weeping, mysticism, prayer, sickness and healing, the “positive”
and “negative” human being, error and mental disorder, human
conscience, and the mission of art.
The German title containing these lectures is
Metamorphosen des Seelenlebens und Pfade der Seelenerlebnisse,
published in two volumes by the Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach,
Switzerland (Nos. GA 58 and GA 59 in the Bibliographical Survey, 1961).
This English edition is published in agreement with the Rudolf
Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.
This e.Text edition is provided with the cooperation of:
The Rudolf Steiner Press
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| ||Cover Sheet
|Lecture 1: ||Spiritual Science and Language
||January 20, 1910|
The significance and
dignity and the nature of the human being are connected with language. It
transmits thoughts, feelings and will impulses to our fellow human beings and
creates a link between them and ourselves. National character, too, is
expressed therein. The origin of language lies before the birth of the ego.
Spiritual beings formed the speech organs and fashioned the human body such
that speech could develop. The forces of the astral body, ether body and
physical body are active in language. By means of the physical body we
imitate outer impressions. The ether body works symbolically, in the image.
The inner experiences of the astral body transform the sounds further.
Lastly, the ego exerts its being on language. An atomistic element is present
in Chinese, symbolism in the Semitic languages and experience of the self in
the Indo-Germanic ones. Spiritual science has a fruitful effect on style in
language. Language will be able to mediate the supersensible vision of the
|Lecture 2: ||Laughing and Weeping
||February 03, 1910|
wants to create unity between the ego and the rest of the world. The ego
extends its activity into the physical body in blanching and blushing. The
smile arises through an expansion of the astral body, by transcending over
events which happen around one. When things are withdrawn from the astral
body the ego compresses it and tears flow. The animal can merely howl and
grin. In weeping the inhaled breath becomes shorter and the exhaled breath
longer. In laughing the reverse takes place. Jehovah caused breath to flow
into the human being, thus creating the ego. Laughing and weeping contain the
means which educate the forces of the ego. Tragedy strengthens the ego.
Comedy liberates the ego.
|Lecture 3: ||What is Mysticism?
||February 10, 1910|
with Meister Eckhart and reaches a climax with Angelus Silesius. The mystic
searches within himself for the divine ground of the world, the event of
Christ's life and death, an inner awakening. The other path, which
penetrates the veil of the outer world, leads to the wealth of outer
phenomena. The inner path leads to an experience of unity, the outer path to
an experience of diversity. The experiences of the mystic are influenced by
national character and by his past experiences. Mystical knowledge cannot
easily turn into general knowledge of the world. The knowledge of spiritual
science leads to Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. Contemplation of the
Rose Cross. Spiritual-scientific knowledge avoids the disadvantages both of
mysticism and of a monadical view.
|Lecture 4: ||The Nature of Prayer
||February 17, 1910|
Prayer is a
preliminary stage of mystical contemplation and the latter is a preliminary
stage of spiritual research. Two streams meet in the soul: one from the
future and one from the past. We carry in us the legacy of our past, of our
deeds, our feeling and our thinking. May a feeling for the divine awaken in
us which guides us to a spiritual and divine ego. Similarly we feel that the
soul will have a richer content in the future. The view into the past awakens
reverence which leads to devotion to God. Strength with regard to future
events gives a feeling of humbleness and peace of soul. Prayer is among the
forces which develop the ego. It has a warming and illuminating effect. In
prayer we find ourselves. If the higher ego is in conflict with the lower ego
within us prayer acts like the dawn after a dark night. Prayer can give
wisdom, deepen feeling, strengthen the will. The seven petitions of the
Lord's Prayer embrace all the wisdom of the world. It can also be the
subject of meditation and concentration. The influence of prayer over a
number of years can change the course of a life. There is heightened
spiritual power in congregational prayer. In art the ode acts in the manner
of prayer and the cathedral is like a prayer expressed in stone. Prayer
prepares a mood of eternity.
|Lecture 5: ||Sickness and Healing
||March 03, 1910|
Of the human being
we observe the physical body externally and the astral body inwardly. The
ether body is intermediary between both. The ego acts from the inside to the
outside. In sleep the inner human being separates from the outer. During that
period we gather the forces we require during the day. Our experiences turn
into ability and wisdom. Love develops as the essential extract of
experiences. We cannot change the form of our physical and ether bodies.
Development is essentially restricted to the soul. Gestures and physiognomy
are changed by reflection over a long period of time. Soul and spirit
originates from soul and spirit. This leads to the principle of repeated
earth lives. Soul and spiritual qualities of earlier periods determine our
experiences in the present. After death the human being forms the archetype
for his next physical and ether bodies. We can incorporate the fruits of our
present existence into a future body. Breaching our limitations lies at the
root of sickness. Reason can enter a disharmonious relationship with outer
events. It lacks the ripening of experience. The outer human being can be
restored to health either by outer means or by strengthening the inner human
being to such a degree that it can restore the outer human being. At the
occurrence of death the harmony between outer and inner human being could not
be re-established. It is a duty to heal. But death, too, is beneficial when
it occurs at the end of an illness.
|Lecture 6: ||Positive and Negative Man
||March 10, 1910|
A positive human
being is not influenced by outer impressions. A negative human being easily
submits to outer impressions. The positive human being can become rigid and
the negative one can undergo a complete change. A positive human being can be
completely insensitive to art treasures whilst a negative human being can
give himself up to such impressions such that chaos reigns. Negative traits
have to be assimilated in the soul in order to enable further development.
The negative human being can also assimilate dangerous elements. Man becomes
a different being when he surrenders to the “mass soul”. The
student of the spirit must be able to open himself to new impressions.
Special diets can reduce the burden of bodily nature. But one becomes
accessible not only to good, but also to bad influences. Spiritual exercises
must be accompanied by the study of spiritual science. The soul becomes
negative when it neglects to cultivate a healthy judgment. Spiritual science
cultivates the positive. The human being develops by changing from a positive
mood to a negative one in order to become positive on a higher level. The
tragedy meets negative feeling and transforms it into positive
|Lecture 7: ||Error and Mental Disorder
||April 28, 1910|
possible only within certain limits. Normal soul-life can turn abnormal.
Sentient, intellectual and consciousness soul are soul members. Sentient soul
and sentient body, intellectual soul and ether body, consciousness soul and
physical body are related. If the sentient body becomes independent, images
automatically appear. Disorder is caused in the intellectual soul when the
human being only applies his own logic and not the facts. Thus he is
saturated by the laws of error. A distinction must be made between the true
self and inherited characteristics. Disorders of the consciousness soul are
megalomania and paranoia. A strong soul-life can gain the upper hand over a
sick outer being. The wrong kind of physical exercise can strengthen the body
but leave the soul weak. Spiritual research is not exhausting. Wrong
education causes disorders such as schizophrenia and senile dementia.
Spiritual science is a remedy against a bodily nature which is
|Lecture 8: ||Human Conscience
||May 05, 1910|
Art is a necessary
element for an existence of human dignity. It must be elevated to the level
of a serious and dignified human concern. Conscience is the voice of God in
the human soul. It appears as something holy in the human breast. It speaks
intimately of what the human being should do and leave. Fichte points to the
eternal fundamental kernel of man. Socrates does not yet possess this. He
holds that virtue is something to be taught. The ego is the focus of the
forces of the soul. At one time a higher ego was working in our bodily
sheaths, the human being saw himself as a member of the spiritual world. When
a man committed an evil deed he beheld its shamefulness as a ghostly vision.
This vision of good and bad deeds became transposed into his inner life. At
first he saw how he had disturbed the cosmic order. Then the cosmic spirit
powerfully revealed itself to his inner life. In Aeschylus the Erinyes still
appear. With Euripides conscience appears. Through Christ the human being
learns to understand the connection with the Divinity in his inner
|Lecture 9: ||The Mission of Art
||May 12, 1910|
For Goethe the
highest works of art are also the highest works of nature “There is
necessity, there is God”. Similarly, Richard Wagner seeks to give
something to mankind which is related to the foundations of existence by the
work of art. Homer invokes the Muses. At one time mythological events were
reality for man. He felt spiritual powers enter and leave his being, arousing
in him thoughts, feelings and will-impulses. In Homer the poetic imagination
remains a substitute for the ancient clairvoyance. The ego developed strongly
in Italy and Sicily. The image, picture, developed in the East, the hymn in
the West. In Greece both meet. The epic arises. The drama originates with
Aeschylus. The ego emerges in the ode and the hymn with the Orphic devotees.
The development from Aeschylus to Dante. Plato relates wisdom to the sentient
soul. She-wolf, lion and lynx are the shadow-sides of the soul members.
Shakespeare's figures no longer show any divine traits. Goethe's
Faust is fundamentally everyman. The ego immerses itself into the divine
world. Poetry rises to eternal spheres. Art finds entry again to the
spiritual world. For Goethe truth and beauty are revelations of the divine
Idea. Art is called upon to transform the parable of the transient with the
message of the eternal.
|Concerning the Transcripts of the Lectures
|Complete Edition of Works