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An Occult Physiology

An Occult Physiology: The Human Form and its Co-ordination of Forces

Schmidt Number: S-2409

On-line since: 30th April, 2008



28th March, 1911.

IT will be my task to-day to blend into a sort of picture, though naturally only a sketchy one, our reflections of the last few days regarding “occult physiology,” in which the endeavour has been made to present (though in part likewise only sketchily) much that pertains to the processes of the human organisation. Through this picture it will be possible for us to have a vision of the quickening life which weaves and works throughout the human organisation. Here again our best procedure will be to start from the most common and everyday side, the reciprocal relationship between the human organisation and the outer world, our earth, in the process of taking in nutritive substances.

It is these substances, as we know, after they have been taken in and have passed through various stages of change, that are conveyed through the most diverse actions of the organs to the separate members of the human organisation, to all the individual systems constituting the physical being of man. Indeed it requires no special effort to see that, fundamentally considered, what the human organism succeeds in doing with the nutritive substances is what really makes the human being into the physical man as he stands before us in the physical world. To be sure, there is a certain difficulty in taking such a view. But anyone who is serious about the principles that have here been applied in our reflections regarding the human being, must say to himself that everything else to be considered in connection with the human organisation, apart from this impressing of nutritive substances into the organism, is, fundamentally viewed, something super-sensible, invisible, the actions of hidden force. If you banish from your mind for a moment everything by way of nutritive substances which fills out the human organism, you retain as a physical organisation even less than a mere physical sack, if I may be permitted this trivial expression; indeed, you retain nothing whatever of a physical character. For even what exists in the form of skin and outer covering exists solely by reason of the fact that nutritive substances have been driven to particular areas of action of super-sensible forces. Cancel then from your reckoning the nutritive substances and what is produced out of them, and you have to conceive the human organism as a system of super-sensible forces working behind it in such a way that these same nutritive substances may be conveyed in all directions.

If you hold to this thought you will see that one thing must be presupposed before any nutritive substance whatever, even the tiniest particle, is taken in; for these substances could not be taken in from the outer world in just any chance form and conveyed into just any being, in order that those processes should occur which do occur in the human organism. It must be, then, that this human organism confronts the very first nutritive substances taken in with an inner co-ordination of forces coming from the spiritual worlds; the organism must really be “man,” as such, in this inner co-ordination of forces. In all occultism, this which first confronts the purely physical matter that is to fill out the human being and which must, therefore, always be conceived supersensibly) is called, in the most comprehensive sense of the expression, “the human form.” If, therefore, you descend to the nethermost boundary of the human organisation, you have to conceive the primary super-sensible human form which, as a force-system born out of the super-sensible worlds, is destined, not like a sack or a physical bag but as something superphysical, super-sensible, to take in what alone renders possible the physical-sensible manifestation of the human being. Only by reason of the fact that this super-sensible form incorporates the nutritive matter does the human organism become a physical-sensible organism, something that our eyes can behold and our hands can grasp. That which thus confronts the external nutritive substances is called “form” in accordance with the law that is operative throughout the whole of nature, an identical law termed the “principle of form.” Even though you descend to the crystal, you find that the substances which enter into it, if they are to become what is manifest as the crystal, must be seized as it were by form-principles, which in this case are the principles of crystallisation. Take for example kitchen salt or sodium chloride: here you have, according to our present-day physics, the physical substances chlorine and sodium, a gas and a mineral. You will readily see that these two substances, prior to their entrance into the entity which lays hold upon them in such a way that, in their chemical union, they appear crystallised into a cube, have nothing in them that can indicate to us such a form-principle. Before they enter into this form-principle they possess nothing in common, but they are seized upon and yoked together by this form-principle and there is then produced this physical body, kitchen salt. They presuppose this, we may say. And so everything which enters into the human organism as nutritive substance presupposes the nethermost of super-sensible being, the super-sensible form.

Now, when the nutritive substances enter into that sphere which, by means of this form-principle, is externally bounded as the human being, they are first taken in by the alimentary canal. When they are thus taken in, from the moment they enter the mouth, one might say, they at once undergo the very first change, indeed the alimentary canal itself causes a metamorphosis. This could not be produced if there were not present as an integral part of the human organism, something which would so metamorphose these nutritive substances — entirely neutral in relation to each other when first taken in and possessing no living inter-relationship — that they are evoked into life. We must think of the metamorphosis of the nutritive substances in their passage through the human alimentary canal as similar to that of plants when they take their nutritive substances from the soil, although, of course, the process is quite different in the human being because it takes place at a different stage. We must picture to ourselves a nutritional stream, taken in by the life-process, or, as we say in occultism, by the ether-body. The moment the nutritive substances enter the human organism they are worked over by the ether-body: that is, the ether-body first provides for their metamorphosis, for their being made a component part of the inner vital activities of the organism. We thus have to look upon this nearest super-sensible member of the human being, the ether-body, as the stimulator of the first process of metamorphosis in the nutritive substances. After these substances are sufficiently metamorphosed to have been taken up into the life-process, we must understand clearly that they are still further worked over — in just that sense, and in the same way, which we have described in the preceding lectures. They must be still further adapted to the human organism, be so worked over that they are able little by little to serve those organs which are the manifestation of the higher super-sensible principles, the astral body and the ego. In short, the work of the higher processes clearly is to send their own peculiar kind of inner vital activity down as far as these metamorphosed nutritive substances as they are when they have come through the oesophagus, the stomach, the intestines, etc. At this point the nutritional stream, in so far as it has been metamorphosed by the alimentary canal alone, is confronted by those seven inner organs already known to us which represent, as we say, the inner cosmic system of man. To sum up, the nutritive substances are taken in, at once metamorphosed in the most diverse ways in the alimentary canal, and then confronted by the liver, kidneys, gall-bladder, spleen, heart, lungs, etc.

If we further understand that these organs are designed through their corresponding force-systems to work further over the nutritive substances, we may say with regard to the meaning of this metamorphosis that, if the nutritional stream were worked over only to the extent to which this occurs in the alimentary canal, man would have to lead a plant existence; for he would not have attained to the formation of such organs in the physical world as could become the instruments of his higher capacities. Thus the seven organs further metamorphose the nutritional stream, and what they do is prevented by the sympathetic nervous system from entering human consciousness. We have consequently, in the sympathetic nervous system and the seven organs, that which confronts the nutritional stream. We have now gone far in penetrating from the outer into the inner side of the human organism. For everything that goes on within there, as the mutual concern of the seven organs, is something that could never go on anywhere else in our terrestrial world; and it can take place here only because this inner world is shut off from the outer world, and because its activity is provided for beforehand by the alimentary canal. Thus in our reflections we are already in the inner human organism.

And here we must take note of something peculiar. Now that we are within this organism we find that it must again inwardly organise and differentiate itself. For the performance of its manifold undertakings it must work as a multiplicity of organs; and it is precisely for these inner functions that a very great deal is needed. Whatever more is now to be attained can be attained only in the following manner; and we shall understand this if we first imagine how it would be if there were only this metamorphosis of the nutritional stream by means of the seven organs, the inner cosmic system, and imagine also that this process were concealed from our consciousness by the sympathetic nervous system. That would mean that man would never be able to unfold into a being possessed of consciousness; he would never have even the dimmest form of the consciousness which he now possesses. For everything occurring there is withheld from him. A connection must be established between this system of organs, built into him, as it were, from without, and everything else in the interior of the human organism. This connection is actually established through the fact that everything provided by the nutritive process as a whole causes the entire form of the organism to be interwoven with what we call tissue, in the broadest sense of the term. Tissue, one of the very simplest forms of organisation, is woven through all the separate members of the human entity. And out of this tissue the most diverse organs form themselves. Certain kinds of tissue, for instance, change themselves in such a way that when they have added to their composition other special kinds of cells they are transformed into muscles. Then again, other kinds change themselves by hardening and, through the appropriation of suitable substances, by depositing bone-cells. Thus, in the single organs which form themselves so as together to fill out the form of the human organism as a whole, we must think of something as underlying this organism: in other words, we must think of tissues woven throughout the body, and active everywhere, bringing forth out of themselves the individual organs.

But this tissue, no matter how much it might grow, and no matter how many individual organs it might put forth out of itself, would still constitute basically nothing more than something plant-like; for the essential nature of the plant lies in the fact that the plant-entity grows, that it produces organs out of itself and so on. Since however in the case of man we are to go beyond the plant nature, an entirely new element must present itself by means of which man becomes capable of adding to what exists in plant-life, that which elevates him above it. That is, man must add consciousness, the simplest form at first, that dim consciousness by which he is aware of his own inner life. So long as a living being does not consciously share in its own inner life, is not in position to mirror its own inner life and thus share it consciously, we cannot say that it has risen above the plant nature. Only through this fact that it does not merely have “life” in itself, but mirrors the flow of its inner life and raises it to conscious life, does any being rise above the plant-like state. It is at first, then, an inner experience, an experience of the inner life-processes.

How does conscious inner life come about?

We have already forecast a conception of this. In the earlier lectures we have shown that conscious inner life comes about through the processes of secretion. For this reason we shall have to look for the basis of inner experience, of that dim experience of consciousness which permeates the inner life-processes, in the processes of secretion. We shall have to presume that everywhere, out of tissues, out of all that underlies the human organisation, processes of secretion are taking place. And these secretory processes again do manifest themselves when we observe the human body externally and see how substances from all parts of the tissue and the organs are continually being taken up by what we call the lymph vessels, which permeate the whole organism as another kind of system parallel to that of the blood. From all regions of the human organism those secretions which mediate that dim inner experience enter this system. Thus we might in abstract thought banish from our minds for the moment the whole system of the blood, in which case indeed we should conceive the tissue as though it possessed no blood-like character. This is quite conceivable, and the fluids in the lower organisms do actually have such an appearance. We should thus have to imagine our blood-process as one higher than that which takes place when secretions from every region of the organism enter into the lymph-channels which, we know, accompany the blood-channels which join them later. In these secretions the human being dimly feels, as it were, his animal existence in the physical body, dimly mirrors his organisation. And, just as everything is held back by the sympathetic nervous system which comes to life through the digestive and nutritional process as far as the seven organs, just so through the reflection of the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, through the association and reciprocal action between this system and the lymph-channels, there is formed for the present-day human being a dim consciousness which is outshone by the clear day-consciousness of the ego. This dim consciousness is, as it were, the obverse side of that consciousness which utilises the sympathetic nervous system as its instrument. It is outshone, as a powerful light outshines a feeble light, by all that lives in our souls under the influence of the ego.

Now let us suppose for a moment that we had evolved the human organisation only to this point, to the formation of the bodily tissues and the first organs that must be formed in order to render possible all these processes; for you can see that certain muscles have to be incorporated to enable such processes to take place as, for example, the secretions into the lymph-channel. A man thus organised would be able to maintain a dim consciousness of his inner life in the physical world, mediated to him by means of his organism; but he would not be able to attain to that ego-consciousness which can be present only when man does not merely have an inner experience of himself as a being, but also opens himself to the external world. It is this opening again outward, so to speak, to which we must here call attention.

We have already spoken indeed of this reopening outward. We have shown how the human being opens himself again to the outside world in his breathing and so forth, in order to enter into direct contact with the physical world. We may now go even further, since we have seen how hard it is to apply ordinary concepts to these things, and say that, so long as we confine ourselves to the inner man, we can go only as far as the alimentary canal; for, inasmuch as the extensions of the seven organs reach into the alimentary canal and show themselves there (the liver empties through the gall-bladder into the duodenum) and show their influence in the digestion, we at once disclose, through the impact of this inner cosmic system on the alimentary canal, something which amounts to the reopening of ourselves to the outer world. Thus it is really an opening outward when the human being declares himself ready to receive nutritive substances from without; and hence we need reckon the inner man only as far as the boundary of the alimentary canal. Then we have also another opening outward through the breathing, on the one hand, and on the other hand through the higher organs which serve the functions of the soul.

Thus we see how man, in so far as he has the stage of the dimly conscious inner life as something basic in him, so to speak, reopens himself in order to form a connection with the external world. Only in this way can man become an ego-being. For it is not merely in the process of sensing the resistance in his own inner world, in his processes of secretion, but through the fact that he opens his inner world and senses the resistance of the outer world, that he is able to evolve his ego-consciousness. Thus it is really wholly in the fact that man reopens himself outward that we find the basis for his physical egohood. At the same time, however, he must also possess the capacity to develop the organ of this egohood in the most manifold ways. And we have seen how the organ for the ego here fits itself into the circulatory course of the blood, which in fact passes through all these inner organs, in order to serve throughout the whole human organisation as an instrument for the egohood. Just as the egohood permeates soul and spirit in the whole man, so does the circulatory course of the blood physically permeate his entire organisation. And this organisation thereby evolves these two sides, so to speak: the inner human being in the seven organs, the sympathetic nervous system, the system of tissues, and predominantly in the digestive apparatus, etc.; and the other side that again opens outward, coming into connection with the outer world, a real “circulation” in the highest sense of the word.

We must now give still further attention to the individual phases of this circulation. And what concerns us here, first of all, is to follow once more the nutritional process, the taking in of nutritive substances which become a living stream in the human organism through the fact that they are taken up by the ether-body, or, rather, are grasped by the force of the ether-body. The inner cosmic system, consisting of the seven organs, then meets these substances; and it does this because, as we have seen, the human being would otherwise not rise above a plant-existence. The higher stage of man's being requires that these seven organs should go out to meet the digestive process. So that it really is what comes to life in the astral nature of man that works upon the nutritional stream: this stream comes from without, and that which constitutes the inner nature of man goes forth to meet and work upon it. First of all the ether-body meets the nutritional stream, and metamorphoses its substances all along the course of the digestive system; then the astral system goes forth to meet them, metamorphoses them still further, and makes them so much a part of the inner world that they more and more become inner vital activities. And now, since everything in the human organism constitutes a co-operative unity, the entire nutritional stream must in addition be taken hold of by the forces of the ego, by the blood itself. That is, the instrument of the ego must extend its activity down to where the nutritional stream is taken up. Does the blood do this? Can we verify that which occult perception compels us to affirm?

Yes, we can; for the blood is actually driven down into the organs of nutrition, just as it is into all other organs. In this nutritional organisation, as elsewhere, it goes through the entire process whereby it is capable of being the instrument of man's ego in the physical world. We know that the blood, as the instrument of the ego, passes through the transition from red blood to blue, so that here, too, it meets with resistance. Thus the ego, by means of its instrument, reaches down even to the nutritive processes, since this transformed blood, in order to be the expression of the ego, works upon almost the first beginnings of the nutritive process. This occurs through the fact that the system of veins discharges into the liver, and that out of this modified blood the gall is prepared, which then comes into direct contact with the nutritional system.

We thus have a wonderful union of the two extremes of the human organisation. The nutritional stream, on the one hand, is taken into the digestive tract and this represents the external matter which enters our physical organisation. The ego, on the other hand, together with its instrument the blood, constitutes the noblest endowment which man possesses in the terrestrial world. It establishes a direct connection with the nutritional stream in that it comes to the very end of the blood-process, and there, at the end of the blood-process, in turn brings about the preparation of something which, we may say, directly confronts the nutritional stream. In other words, the gall is prepared by the instrument of the ego, the blood, through the roundabout way of the liver; and in the gall the ego opposes the nutritional stream. For at this point the activity of the blood has come to an end and, before acting upon the nutritional stream, it is able to prepare the gall.

Here we see the one working downward, as it were, into the other. And whoever has the will to do so can see in this very fact something that leads in a wonderful way into many, many mysteries of the human organisation. He can follow these processes still further, including abnormal processes, which take their course, for example, in a reverse discharge, a congesting and reverse discharging of the gall into the blood. He might thus quite easily form an opinion about “jaundice,” for example, its cause and effect; but it would take us too far afield if we were also to discuss such things as this to-day.

Thus we see how the seven organs reach as an actual fact down into the action of the ether-body and have taken into themselves, from above, the influence of the ego. In the gall we have the ego setting itself in direct opposition to the nutritional stream. If, now, the gall is to meet this nutritional stream, which has already become a living stream in the alimentary canal, it must itself likewise meet it as a living substance; otherwise a truly continuous process could not come about. The gall must be enabled, as a living substance, to meet the nutritional stream. This occurs through the fact that the very organ in which this gall is formed is one of the seven organs of the inner cosmic system, which vitalise the inner life of man in order that it may as inner life meet the outer life. We pass from the gall-bladder back into the liver itself, and the liver in turn we find connected with the spleen.

When we more closely observe the liver, the gallbladder, the spleen (this follows quite naturally out of our previous reflections, for the spleen has been fairly accurately considered in this connection and used as an example) we must affirm that it is these organs that directly confront the nutritional stream and so metamorphose it that it is capable of advancing to the higher stages of the human organisation, and also of caring for those organs which open themselves to the external world. Those which open outward are the heart (through the lungs) and, of course, the alimentary canal itself; but, most of all, the organs in the head which serve as the organs of the senses.

We must now understand clearly that all inner perception, all inner experience, must have something to do with processes of excretion. It is for this reason that we have given special consideration also to these excretory processes. Liver, gall-bladder, and spleen have nothing to do directly with processes of excretion; the fact that they secrete their own nutritive substances is a different matter; but they do not excrete anything with respect to the organisation as a whole. They signify the ascending life, which turns away from a mere being alive and directs itself to the organisation of consciousness. Since, however, the heart is added as a fourth member to this organisation, and since the heart opens itself to the outer world, man attains through this opening outward his ego-consciousness. Yet he would not be in a position to experience this ego otherwise than merely as something which faces the outer world. He would not be able to bring this outward-looking ego into relationship with what he experiences by means of his inner organs as a dim corporeal life within him. He must add to the secretional processes of the inner organisation still another process which makes possible for him an experiencing of his inner being by that ego which has its instrument in the blood. At first man realises his inner life only in a dim consciousness and we have seen how this manifests itself in the organisation through the fact that the processes of excretion are taken up by the lymph-ducts from the liver, the gall-bladder, and the spleen. In the same way something must be excreted from the blood, if man is to rise to a really conscious ego. And it is in this excretion that he becomes aware that, as an inner entity, he confronts the outer world. If man did not have these inner excretional processes he would, in his realisation of inner life, so face the outer world that he would inwardly lose himself; or he would at most realise dim inner processes but would not know what is outside him, he would not know that what is inhaling the air and taking in nutritive substances is the same as the being which is working in him. It is possible for him to know this through the fact that he excretes the modified blood through the lungs, in the form of carbonic acid gas; and that, through the kidneys, he excretes the metamorphosed substances which must be removed from the blood in order that he may have an inner perception of his own entity.

Thus we find our assertion justified, that the organs which represent an ascending process, the liver, the gallbladder, the spleen, as well as those representing in a certain sense a descending process, the lungs and the kidneys (although the lungs, in that they open themselves to the outer world, are at the same time the means of an ascending process; the individual organs are constantly in living reciprocal relationship, and we must not establish any hard and fast classification) we see how all these seven members of the inner human cosmic system are bound up with man's realisation of inner life, and with his opening of himself to the outer world. These seven members completely metamorphose, on the one hand, the vital activities peculiar to the nutritive substances into inner vital activities; and with these metamorphosed substances they provide for the human organism. They make it possible for man to reopen himself to the outer world. But, in addition to this, they bring it about that what he evolves as an excessively strong inner vital activity, which would not harmonise with the vital activity that penetrates into him from without, is brought into balance with this outer vital activity by being thrown off through the excretional processes of the lungs and the kidneys. So that we have before us the complete and regular control of the inner vital activities in this inner cosmic system of man. And in fact this entire relationship manifests itself in such a way that the best picture occultism can give us is to conceive the heart standing as the sun, at the centre, and caring for the three bodies of the inner cosmic system which signify the upward rising and upward bearing process. In the same way in which the sun is related to Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in the planetary system, so is the inner sun, the heart, related to Saturn, spleen; Jupiter, liver; and gall-bladder, Mars, in the human organism. I should have to speak, not for weeks but for months, if I were to explain all the reasons why the relationship of the sun to the outer planets of our planetary system may really be declared to be parallel, for an exact and intimate occult observation, to the relationship which the heart sustains in the human organism to the inner cosmic system, i.e., to the liver, the gall-bladder, and the spleen.

For it is an absolute fact that the relationship existing in the outer cosmos has been so adopted into the organism that what goes on in the great world or macrocosm, in our solar system, is mirrored in the reciprocal action among these organs. And those processes which go on between the sun and the inner planets, working inwards from the sun to our earth, are again reflected in the relationship of the heart-sun to the lungs as Mercury, and to the kidneys as Venus. Thus we have in this inner human cosmic system something which mirrors the external cosmic system.

We have already indicated, how, when we delve clairvoyantly into our own inner organism we can perceive this interior of ours; and that we then cease to perceive our inner organs in the way they manifest themselves merely to the external observation of the physical eye. We then go beyond the fantastic picture of our organs conceived by external anatomy, for we rise to the observation of the real form of these organs when we bear in mind that they are systems of forces. External anatomy cannot possibly establish what these organs really are, for it sees only the nutritive matter stuffed into them. And no one can doubt, when he goes more deeply into the matter, that external anatomy sees only the stuffed-in nutritive substances. That which lies at the basis of these organs as force-systems can be seen only by clairvoyant observation. And what we see justifies our nomenclature, because we discover the outer cosmic system duplicated in our inner cosmic system.

We stated yesterday that the organism may develop too strong an inner vital activity. Each separate organ may develop too strong an inner vital activity. This is then manifested in the irregularity with which the organism acts. I indicated yesterday that when, by reason of this excessive inner vital activity, there appears in the inner organs a self-willed life of their own, it is important that something should be set in opposition which will subdue these inner vital activities. That is, when the inner organs transfer too vigorously the external vital activities of the nutritional substances, transform them too much, when they provide an inner product too strongly metamorphosed, we must then set in opposition to them from without something which will dam up, as it were, will subdue the inner vital activities.

How can this be brought about? By introducing into the organism something from the external environment which possesses a vital activity contrary to those of the organs and is capable of combating them. That is, we must endeavour to discover those external vital activities which correspond to the peculiar vital activities of these organs. To contemporary man, who sometimes comes upon such things in the mangled writings of the Middle Ages yet cannot look upon them as anything but a jumble of superstition, it sounds quite amazing when he hears that for thousands of years occult science has not only examined, profoundly and thoroughly, the correspondence between the vital activities of these organs of the inner organic system, and certain external substances possessing the opposite vital activities; but that also, through countless observations made with the clairvoyant eye, there has resulted the knowledge, for example, that when the inner “Jupiter” oversteps its limit it can be checked if confronted with that external vital activity manifest in the metallic substance tin. The inner vital activity of the gall-bladder, we combat by what is manifest in the metallic substance iron. And we ought not really to be surprised to learn that the gallbladder is the very organ to be combated by iron. For iron is that metal which we require particularly in our blood, and which therefore belongs to the instrument of the ego; and we have seen that in the gall-bladder we have the very organ which brings about the connection of the ego with the densest matter deposited in the human being through the digestive process. In the same way the spleen (Saturn) has its correlative in lead; the heart (Sun) in gold; Mercury has its own name: that is, the metal mercury (or quicksilver) corresponds with the lungs; and the metal copper corresponds with the kidneys.

Now, when we introduce into the organism such vital activities as exist in these metals, in order to combat the excessive vital activities of the inner organism, we must realise that everything in the organism is more or less interrelated with everything else; and indeed that the individual organ-systems were formed in a mutual parallelism one with the other. For it is not as if there first existed in a finished state what we have here merely sketched in our drawing, i.e., what we may call the headless man; but rather the brain and the spinal cord form themselves simultaneously with the other organs, so that the blood-process extending downward extends also upward. And, just as we have pointed out that there are these two circulatory courses of the blood, so we have similarly an upward action of the lymph-system toward the head, and have, therefore, a dim consciousness apportioned also to the upper parts of the organism. This is true because of the fact that what is incorporated above in the upper blood-stream corresponds in a certain way with what we have described as the incorporated lower blood-stream.

 Diagram 21
Diagram 21
Click image for large view

From this we now see that certain of these metals to be found on the earth have their respective kinship with the organs or members which we find embedded in the upper blood-organisation. That which, in the lungs for example, opens itself upward into the larynx, thus becoming an organ of the higher human organisation, and which otherwise presses down into the gall-bladder as dim life, acts correspondingly as a Mars- or iron-system in the larynx which contains the upper part of the lungs. These things are, of course, hard to differentiate; but I should like, nevertheless, to point out some of them. In the same way the upper part of our head containing the brain-formation corresponds, as regards its position in the upper course of the blood, to the position of Jupiter-liver (tin) in the lower course of the blood; so that we have here a correspondence between the fore part of the head, in the upper course of the blood, and tin, or Jupiter; and, in the same way, between the back of the head and lead, or Saturn. And so it is with the organs which may be looked upon as embedded in the upper cosmic system.

We have been able in this way to extend our reflections to that which is incorporated in the circulatory course of man's blood, as having a connection with this, but also as determining it as the organisation of the seven members of the inner cosmic system. And we have been able to take into consideration the connection with the external world as regards both the normal and the abnormal condition of life. In this correspondence between the metals and the inner organs we have a most interesting fact. And if all that which is contained in manifold form in the statements to be found in our books dealing with therapy is ever assembled and compared, not in chaotic manner but systematically, this picture that we have formed will one day, quite of itself, burst into view as a result of the external facts. We can always affirm, when we work creatively in the right way with the help of occult sources, that we can quietly bide our time, that the facts themselves will one day confirm all this for mankind!

When we introduce into the organism the substances of these principal metals — and they are all metals that pass over at a certain temperature into a sort of vapour in which there is active something resembling little smoke-like globules — the particular quality of the respective metals acts upon what is in these seven organs. And just as the metallic element acts upon these systems of organs, so anything in the nature of a salt acts upon the blood-system. Only, we must introduce the salty substance into the blood in such a way that it enters from outside, through the air, through air with a saline content, or through a salt bath; or again we can introduce from another direction, through the digestive process, what constitutes salt or builds up salt, so that we are in a position to bring about from two directions this process which results in the formation and depositing of salt.

When you recall what I explained yesterday as the physical effects of the inner processes of soul and spirit, you will understand that everything which meets the processes brought about by these metals as metals, processes which embed themselves in these systems, forming tiny globules, as it were, is what I designated yesterday as the physical effect of the feeling-processes.

Thus the dim feeling-processes and the higher feeling-processes are bound up with that which constitutes inner liquefying processes, on the one hand, when it develops the right inner vital activity, but which, on the other side, can be checked if something is introduced from outside, if the appropriate substances which have their external counter-activities embed themselves in these systems from outside.

When, by reason of excessive digestive activity occurring where the nutritional stream is seized by the ether-body, this body develops a too insistent inner vital activity of its own so that it contradicts that from without — when this process of a self-willed inner vital activity gets the upper hand, we can work in opposition to it through the process of introducing salt in so far as salt works as salt. In the case of an intensified inner vital activity of those very processes which go on where the external nutritional substances are seized upon by the ether-body, signifying too intense a taking up, a sucking up of salt out of everything, the process is combated through the external vital activity of salt.

Then we also have processes which occur outside us as processes of combustion or oxydation, when something or other combines with the oxygen in the air. When substances which readily combine with the oxygen in the air are taken into the organism, they radiate their inner activity most extensively throughout the inner organism. Whereas salts act only when introduced into the organism through the digestion or from without into the blood, and hence can get only a limited access to the inner organism; and whereas we can, with metals, work in as far as the inner cosmic system we have, in the external vital activities of the substances that readily unite with the oxygen of the air, something which radiates through the whole organism, even into the blood: something which is capable of radiating through all the systems of organs. We shall thus find it comprehensible that through such processes as develop too strong an inner vital activity in warmth, which is the outward manifestation of the development of the will, we find ourselves inwardly aroused, as it were, in our entire organism. Such is not the case if we direct our attention to those other processes which constitute the organic processes of thought. We feel there that the actions which, in yesterday's lecture, we connected with salt can take place only in certain organs. From this we see how complicated an apparatus the human organism is, and, at the same time, how complicated is its relation to the external world. Moreover, we see that we have now for the first time set the human organisation with its inner vital activities over against a mineral, inorganic Nature which has not yet been given life, into relation with what salts are, what the particular quality of a vaporising metal is, and what readily combustible substances are.

A polarity of the same sort exists between the human organism and what constitutes the vitally active forces in the external plant world. When we take up a plant into us in such a way that it simply gives off some particular substance, which is taken up by us as lifeless matter and acts as such in us, the real plant-nature may then be left out of account in the human being. On the other hand, the plant element may also be taken up by the human organism in such a way that it goes on working in its own peculiar character as plant, that is, the external vital activity of the plant continues to work as the same sort of external vital activity which works in the plant. In this case that process cannot take effect which otherwise always goes on at the border line between the physical nutritional substances and the ether-body. For the ether-body is akin to the plant; and the plant is “plant” precisely by reason of the fact that it has an ether-body. The plant-nature is simply caught up at the point where the nutritional stream is seized upon by the ether-body, so that whatever of the plant-nature works into the human organism cannot be taken into account so long as it is in the alimentary canal, but only in those organs involved in the processes to which the ether-body already has its relationship and into which the astral nature of man also works. For this reason the external plant-activity begins its work only when it reaches the inner cosmic system and the sympathetic nervous system and, in so far as it is involved with these, also the lymph-system. The plant-nature no longer extends to the point where the human being opens himself, through the blood, to the outer world. The plant-element is fitted to the central, more inward part of the human being; so that whatever may be sought in the plant-nature in the way of vital activities, capable of combating the excessively strong inner vital activities of the functions of our organism, cannot have any effect at all upon whatever belongs to the material substance in the seven organs of our inner cosmic system and in the corresponding organs of the head, and which nourishes itself in these organs; it can act only upon whatever pertains to the activities, the functions of these organs. When these functions are disturbed, when they act abnormally, without our being able to say that they are over-nourished or under-nourished, then the vital activity of the plant-nature comes into question. Hence, when an excessive activity of the organs is manifest, we can combat this with something taken out of plant-nature but capable of working in only as far as the seven organs, as far as the boundary of the lymph-system and the blood-system.

It is impossible to go further into the combating of irregularities in the human organism, not so much because we should in any case have insufficient time as because it is better for the Anthroposophist to hold aloof from everything which is at present still involved in partisan strife. What we have thus far set forth is not involved in conflicts where there is far too much fanaticism. For at most people can take it for pure nonsense, in which case it will share the same fate which for many is to be that of Anthroposophy in general: namely, that it has no worth whatever. Anthroposophy would have to keep silent if it wished not to speak about those things which appear nonsensical to people who are not willing at the present time to accept it. But, if it were to proceed further and investigate the effect of the animal element upon the human organism, we should very quickly become involved in strife.

One thing, however, you will have perceived: that this human organism is a complicated system of individual organs and instruments which stand at various stages of evolution, these stages differing very greatly among themselves, and which are connected in the greatest possible variety of ways with the organism as a whole. What it is that works into this physical organisation of man, which we see with our eyes and grasp with our hands, in order that the nutritive substances may organise themselves suitably, may be ordered according to the various organs, this cannot be seen with the external eye but it is disclosed to the spiritual eye of the seer. Everything that has displayed itself before us in the human organism we must look upon as one single system, wherein appears both what is young and what is old. We have brought out this fact in individual examples, for instance, in the fact that the brain shows itself as an older organ and the spinal cord as a younger one; and in the fact that the brain was once a spinal cord and has transformed itself out of that. Then, too, we have seen that our complicated digestive system forms, together with the blood-system, one single system which is old and has been metamorphosed; whereas in the lymph-system which cannot take up substances from without but can as yet open only inwards to the material supplied by the inner tissue, we have a younger system in comparison with the combined digestive and blood-system, just as we have in the spinal cord an organ that is younger than the brain. And this, again, is a very important viewpoint. When we look at our lymph-system and all that goes with it we have before us something which, if it were not embedded there as a lymph-system, and did not remain shut off but opened itself to the more advanced stage of its evolutionary process, would progress to a digestive system and blood-system as the spinal cord evolved to the brain. Thus the digestive-blood-system presents to us a lymph-system that has been metamorphosed out of the substances and tissues of the body, substances and tissues which, as we know, have to be changed in the body before they can take on the form which they have inside the man; whereas the lymph-system, as we have it, is employed to take up the substances that are produced inside. In the lymph-system and what pertains to it, we have a simpler digestive system and a simpler system for mediating consciousness. On the other hand, a system more complicated than the lymph-system, opening not only to the inner but also to the outer world, is what we have in the metamorphosed lymph-system, the digestive and glandular systems.

Everything that appears later, during the course of evolution of any living creature, is laid down beforehand in the germinal plan. What I have here explained to you as the complicated human organisation exists potentially in the germinal plan of the human being as it builds itself up, when once it is produced through the process of impregnation. If we retrace the course, so to speak, from this fully-formed man to the germinal plan, we are able to discover that inside this same life-seed or germ complicated systems of organs in miniature, scarcely visible at first, even to microscopic examination, are present, as the very first plan; present in such a way indeed, that the organs even at that time already reveal just how they are related to one another.

Once we observe that the outermost enclosure of the human being is the boundary of the skin which leads us on to the sense-organs embedded therein, and observe also how these sense-organs are organised so as to extend inward to the nervous system, we shall realise that everything present in the outermost boundary of man must have been transformed out of something else, for this is already very complicated in itself. (The brain, for instance, belongs to this system; to imagine a brain which is not first prepared through other organs, and transformed out of these, is impossible.) We must think therefore of the outer sheath of the human being as it appears to-day, as the product of a transformation from those organs which are its groundwork, as having passed through a transformation similar to that of the brain out of the spinal cord, and to the digestive-blood-system with all its accessories, out of the lymph-system.

Now, it is precisely in everything which we have observed as the brain, that we have a transformed spinal cord system. But here again this spinal cord system shows itself to us at the present time in such a way that we can see that it is an organ in a descending evolution, so to speak. In those organs, accordingly, which represent earlier stages, we have organ-systems formed later and at the same time in a descending evolution. This we must apply also to the lymph-system. In that which confronts us in the human being as the lower man, thought of spatially, we have, in the antithesis, lymph-system and digestive-blood-system, something which transforms the lymph-system into the digestive-blood-system. We must understand clearly, to be sure, that the blood-system itself is such a complicated inward-coursing system that it reveals, even in its very configuration, the fact that it is itself the product of a transformation of a still earlier state, the product of a twofold metamorphosis. On the other hand, that which reveals to us that it has gone through its transformation only once, an opening outward, is the digestive canal. We may therefore say that, if we were to move the digestive canal more inward, we should keep this whole organic system shut up inside, as far as the activity at present characteristic of the lymph-system through which only that is taken up from the inner product which is secreted by the tissues.

Thus in the outer boundary of man, the skin-system, we have the metamorphosis of another system; and in the digestive system likewise we can see the transformation of another organ-system out of which it has developed, and which is itself to-day in a descending process of evolution. According to the whole nature of the organ-systems as they present themselves to us we have to seek, therefore, for their first or primal plan in such a way that we feel everything we see as the germinal design containing the skin- and the sense-organs and nervous system — to be the redisposition of another system which is to-day inside the organism and in a descending evolution, just as the digestive system in its design is a redisposition of another inner system which is now in a descending evolution. Thus we have, at the present time, both an ascending and a descending evolution already indicated in the “life-seed” of man.

And so we may trace the whole human organism back to a scheme or plan where everything in the separate organs is prepared in the germ. And, in fact, we do see in the human germ which comes into existence through the process of impregnation that in the four superimposed germ-layers (the outer germ-layer or exoderm, the inner germ-layer or entoderm, and the outer and inner middle layers or mesoderma) the four principal systems of the human organism are actually already present, pre-modelled in this germinal plan. Furthermore, in accordance with our evolution we shall have to consider the outer germ-layer, which, in contemporary anatomy or physiology is called the skin-sense layer, as the product of a metamorphosis which reveals to us its original plan in the outer middle layer. In the outer mesoderm, that is, we have as an embryonic plan in a descending evolution, what appears at a higher stage in the skin-sense-layer; and in the inner middle layer we have in a younger formation and in a downward evolution, what appears in the inner layer or entoderm as the intestinal glandular-layer. When we observe the human germ in its evolution we have in the two middle germ-layers, in what external physiology calls the mesoderma, the original plan of the human being still recognisable; whereas the two external germ-layers, exoderm and entoderm, are layers which have undergone a metamorphosis. The two middle layers reveal to us the original state, whereas the two others reveal higher evolutionary stages of this state. And it is only an illusion when external microscopic research does not accurately state the facts of the case.

 Diagram 22
Diagram 22
Click image for large view

Now we know that this germinal plan, this life-seed, is formed through the flowing together of two tendencies, the feminine and the masculine, and that the complete germ can only come into being through the living interaction of the two. In both these germinal tendencies, accordingly, there must be included all the processes which, through interaction, form the one single embryonic plan for the complete human organisation.

What does occultism reveal to us regarding the interaction of the male and the female germs?

It shows us that the female organism, under the conditions of our age, is capable of producing only such a human germ as would be unable, if it were to follow a completely isolated evolution, to develop what we call in its broadest sense the “form-principle.” That which leads, therefore, to the final stage of the bony system, thus giving complete firmness to the human being, and which also brings about the final unfolding into a skin-and-sense-system as we have it to-day, could not be supplied through the female contribution. The contribution of the woman is such as to justify one in saying: “What it would bring forth would be too good for this earthly world as it is to-day; for there are not present in our external world all the processes which could serve such an organism, if it were to evolve itself in accordance with the tendency of the woman's contribution to the whole human organism.” It should not be necessary for the human organism derived from the woman to proceed so far as to be of this earth, as we may say, which is the case in the dense deposit of the bony system; it should not be forced to unfold itself in a way that enables it to look out into the present physical world through the senses. On the contrary, it should be enabled to have its inner support in softer material, as it were, than our solid bony system. It ought, furthermore, to be free not to open its eyes so wide toward the outside world, or to open its other senses outward, to the same degree as is the case with the human being of to-day, but to remain with its perceptions more enclosed in its inner life. This represents the female portion of the common human organism: a germinal plan which tends to shoot forward beyond the limit of what is possible in our present earth existence. And this simply because, in the physical earth-conditions of to-day, we have not the requirements essential to so refined an organism, one so little adapted to be of this earth, in the way the bony system is, or to unfold itself outward. Such an organism, under natural conditions, is from the very beginning predestined to death. That is to say: by reason of that which the woman's organism is of itself unable to imprint upon the human embryo, this embryo is from the beginning doomed to death.

The other portion which is added to the germinal plan is the male element, and this is in exactly the reversed situation. If the male germ alone were to bring forth the human being, the progress of that organisation which lives its life in an opening of itself outward, as is the case in the skin-sense-system and in the powerful development of what leads to the solidification of the bony system, would overshoot the mark in the opposite direction. The male organisation would be just as little able as the female to create of itself an embryo capable of living. Of itself alone it would just as certainly create a dead embryo as would the female organisation because that which it could create, which it could contribute to the germ-plan, would be so organised, if it were to unfold its forces of itself, that it would have to vanish in view of the conditions actually existing on the earth at the present time; for it would unfold forces which are simply too powerful for such conditions, so that it could not exist as organic life within the confines of this world. That is to say, the male element of the germ does not really come into existence at all; it can act only through co-operation with the female germ. That which stimulates the female germ-plan too intensely, carrying it too far beyond what is possible on the earth, leads the male germ-plan too far downward, below what is possible on the earth. Whatever is destined to death in this female germ, through the excess of those forces which, if they could find any approach at all to the sense-world, would ultimately lead to a breaking up, a failure to grow together with the external world, this balances itself with the male germ through the process of impregnation. The forces that are compressed into the male germ-plan, if these were ever to accomplish their growth alone, would lead the whole thing immeasurably below the earthly, would bring the human organisation to a far greater terrestrialising of the bony system, and to an entirely different unfolding of the senses and taking up of the outer world, than is the case to-day. These two organic tendencies must in their very first beginning blend and come together; for, under earthly conditions, either one of them alone is from the first predestined to death, and only the living interaction of what otherwise gushes over the limits in both directions gives us that human embryo which alone is suited to earthly life.

Thus we see that we have been able, although only in a sketchy way, to comprehend things as far as this point, where the human being is capable of bringing forth his kind. We could go much further by throwing light also upon all the details of the embryonic process. And the more profoundly we should illuminate these, the more we should see that the most minute as well as the most glaring facts, including what has been said here regarding the super-sensible force-systems in the germinal plans, verify themselves in the outward expression of these force-systems, in what the human being develops in order that his race may live over all the earth so long as it is going through its present processes.

We have seen at the same time, however, that the earth gives us its densest terrestrialising process, so to speak, in what we call the tendency to the bony system, and its most vitally active process in what we call the human blood-system. And it need be added only very briefly that everything which goes on on the earth in the external physical human organism, in so far as this is visible, forces its way up as it were, into those processes which take place in the blood. And these processes are warmth processes. We have, therefore, in these processes the direct expression of the activity of the blood as the instrument of the ego, of the highest level, that is, of the human organism. Below this are the other processes; uppermost is the warming process, and in this there takes hold, directly, the activity of our soul and our ego. It is for this reason that we feel, with regard to so many activities of the soul, what we may call “the transmutation of our soul-activities into a kindling of inner warmth,” and this may extend its effects even to a becoming physically warm in the process of the blood. Thus we see how, from out the soul and spirit by way of the warmth-process, there takes hold down into the organic, into the physiological, what is directed from above. We might show, in connection with many other facts of the external world, how the psychic-spiritual comes into contact in the warmth-process with the physiological, with what occurs behind the physiological. In the warming process, accordingly, we have a transformation of the organic systems in their activities. We find the most manifold transformations in the complicated apparatus of soul and spirit in man; but this physical human organism reaches up as far as the warmth process.

Does this transformation cease at this point? Does that which confronts us as the inheritance of the bony system, proceeding from below upward, extend only thus far? Everywhere, below the warmth process, we have transformation; from below upward it reaches as far as the warmth process. What then follows can here only be indicated and then left to the further reflection and feeling of the listeners.

What the organism produces in the way of inner warmth processes in our blood, warmth processes which it conducts to us through all its different processes, and which it finally brings to expression in a flowering of all other processes, penetrates up into the soul and spirit, transforms itself into soul and spirit. And what is it that is most beautiful about the psychic-spiritual? The most beautiful, the loftiest thing about it, is the fact that, through the forces of the human soul, what is organic can be transformed into what is soul nature! If everything that man can have through the activity of his earthly organism is rightly transformed by him after it has become warmth, it then transmutes itself in his soul into what we may call an inner living experience of compassion, a sympathy for all other beings. If we penetrate through all the processes of the human organism, to the highest level of all, to the processes of warmth, we pass as it were through the door of the human physiological processes, above the uppermost heights which are formed by these processes into that world where the warmth of the blood is given its worth in accordance with what the soul has made out of it: in accordance with the living sympathy of the soul for everything that has being, and its compassion for everything around it. In this way we broaden our life, if our inner life carry us on to a kindling of inner heat, beyond all that is earthly being; we make ourselves one with all earthly being. And we must note the marvellous fact that the whole of Cosmic Being has taken the round about path of first building up our whole organisation, in order finally to give us that warmth which we are called upon to transmute through our ego into living compassion for all beings.

In the Earth's mission, warmth is in the process of being transmuted into compassion.

This is the meaning of the earth process; and it is being fulfilled, since man as a physical organism is embedded in this earth-process, through the fact that all physical processes finally come together in man's organisation as their crown; that everything therein, like a microcosm, in turn, of all earthly processes, opens again into new blossoming. And, as this is transmuted in the human soul, the earth-organism, through man's sympathetic interest and living compassion for every kind of being, attains to that for which warmth had its intended use in the organism allotted to him as Earth-Man. What we take up in our souls through living sympathy, which helps us to broaden our inner soul-life more and more, we shall take with us when we shall have gone through many organisations such as enable us to use to the full, for the spirit, everything that the earth could give us as kindling heat, burning warmth, flame of fire! And when, through innumerable incarnations, we shall have taken up into ourselves all that there is of this fervour of warmth, then will the earth have reached its goal, its purpose. Then will it sink beneath us, a great corpse, into indeterminate cosmic space; and there will arise out of this earth-corpse the united throng of all those earthly human souls who, through their different earthly incarnations, have realised the worth of the outpouring warmth of earth-organisms by transmuting it into living compassion and sympathy, and into whatever can be built upon these. Just as the individual soul, when the human being passes through the portal of death, rises to a spiritual world and gives over the corpse to the forces of the earth, so to the forces of the cosmos will one day be surrendered the earth's corpse, when it shall have given to us that burning warmth we needed for the compassion which was the foundation-stone of all our higher activities of soul. This corpse which will be given over to the cosmic system, just as the individual human corpse is given over to the earth-system, will be able to see rising above it the sum of all the individual human souls, now one important stage nearer perfection as a result of earth existence, and these will then press onward to new stages of existence, to new cosmic systems. Just as in the earth-system the individual human being, after he has passed through the portal of death, advances to new incarnations, so does the throng of all the individual souls, after the earth-corpse has fallen away, advance to new planetary stages of existence.

And so we see that nothing in the cosmic system is lost, but that what is given to us in our organism up to the final blossoming of heat is that “material” which, when we have used it up as burning warmth, helps us to find the way to a new and higher stage leading to eternity. Nothing in the world is lost, but what the earth produces, through human souls, is carried over by them into eternity!

Thus does spiritual science also permit us to connect the physiological processes in the human organism with our eternal destiny. And thus will this science, if we view it as something which must so implant itself within us that it is not mere theory or abstract knowledge, fill us with all those forces which show us that we as human beings do not, after all, stand only upon the earth, but in the whole cosmic system! If we learn to think thus about the lofty and eternal destiny of humanity, how man takes the forces of the earth in order that he may work on into eternity, we then receive through spiritual science what must be wrung out of it, not only what we may attain for the sake of knowledge but for our whole man. And if those human beings who divine or already possess this high ideal of knowledge come together in a true brotherhood, harmoniously united in striving toward the highest of all, who understand each other, that is, in their innermost being, this means that there are present on our earth, in its process of becoming, human beings who have the right to be conscious that they bear within themselves seeds which are developing, which can be fruitful for the further evolution of earth and humanity. In all modesty may anthroposophists come together and unite their feelings with what is highest, most universal, in man. And, when men gather in such a spirit, they understand one another in their deepest being; for they acknowledge one another, not merely as individual earth-men and in their earthly destiny, but rather in their eternal destiny.

It was in this spirit that we came together here; and it is in this spirit that we shall go away again, to live in the outside world and perhaps to pass on to others much of what it has been possible to give here as an incentive, even if only in outline, and thus to bring it to new flower. We shall at the same time strive so to work when we are scattered that, although physically separated, we shall be in harmony with one another in living thought, in feeling, and in all our willing. Then shall we be rightly united in that Spirit which ought to be brought to mankind through Anthroposophy. In this Spirit we are about to separate after having been together for a while; in this Spirit we shall remain united in soul; and in this Spirit we shall meet again when it is meant to be.


1.  See footnote on p. 79.

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