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The Sun-Mystery in the Course of Human History

The Palladium

A Lecture by
Rudolf Steiner
Dornach, 6th November, 1921
GA 208

Authorized translation by permission of the Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach.

Translated by D. S. Osmond, from a shorthand report unrevised by the lecturer.

Copyright © 1955
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The Palladium

WE HAVE BEEN studying how the living form of man, his soul and his spirit, are related to the cosmos. The various aspects of this subject presented in recent lectures may be summarized in somewhat the following way: —

In the deep foundations of man's being lies the will. In many respects the will is the most mysterious and secret element in human nature. It is obvious that aberrations, inclinations that often run counter to the world's well-being surge up from fathomless depths of the moral life; everything experienced by the soul in the form of pricks of conscience or self-reproach streams up from the deep ground of the will.

The reason why the will is so mysterious and secret is that in many respects it is a highly indeterminate force; there is in it an instinctive element over which we have little control and which drives us hither and thither on the turbulent waves of life often without our being able to claim that any conscious impulses are racing effect. In another respect too, namely in respect of our knowledge of the operations of the will, it has again and again been emphasized that these operations of the will are as withdrawn from human consciousness as the experiences of deep, dreamless sleep; so that in this respect too, the will is an indeterminate, mysterious element.

But when we think of man's spiritual nature we cannot conceive that this spirituality is active in him only during his waking hours or in his conscious mental life; the fact is that this spirituality is at work in him during sleep too, within that part of his being where his will lies and which, like the experiences of deep sleep, is wrapt in unconsciousness.

Spirit is therefore also present and at work in the sleeping human being. Two aspects of the will can be distinguished. — There is first of all the will which — unless we are out-and-out idlers — spurs us to activity from the time of waking until that of falling asleep. True, we cannot perceive the will in actual operation, but the effects rise into our consciousness inasmuch as we can form mental concepts and images of them. We do not know how the will-impulse works in us when we are walking; but we can see ourselves stepping forward. We form mental images of the workings of our will and in this sense are conscious of its effects. That is one aspect of the will.

The other aspect is that the will is also active in us while we sleep; for then inner processes are taking place, processes that are also operations of the will, only we are not aware of them — precisely because we are asleep. But just as the sun also shines during the night on the other side of the earth where we are not living, so does will stream through our being while we are asleep, although we have no consciousness of it.

Thus two kinds of will can be distinguished: an inner will and an outer will. The workings of the outer will are made manifest to us while we are awake; those of the inner will take effect while we are asleep. Strictly speaking, the inner will is not revealed to us; nevertheless when we look back, its effects can be apprehended afterwards, as having been part of the condition of sleep.

The will is present as it were in ocean depths of the soul. It surges upwards in waves. But just because we must admit that the will is at work during sleep, when the bodily part of our being is engaged in purely organic activity, neither pervaded with soul nor illumined by spirit, it follows that the will as such has to do with this organic activity. The will that is working while we are asleep has to do with organic activity, inasmuch as organic processes, life-processes take place in us. These processes are essentially connected with the will.

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