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Spiritual Science and the Art of Healing

Schmidt Number: S-5850

On-line since: 30th June, 2005

III


IN the first two lectures I dealt with the general principles by means of which the knowledge of healing can be made fruitful through anthroposophical research, and to-day I would like to enlarge upon this by giving certain details — such details as will at the same time show that in so far as Anthroposophy works into practical life, it will lead also to a ‘handling,’ if I may use the expression, of life as a whole which will be in accordance with reality.

In the previous lectures I spoke of the way in which Anthroposophy must necessarily regard the constitution of the physical body which we know by means of our senses, but the substance of which is continually being thrown off and newly constructed during the course of life. Within this physical body lives the so-called ether, or life body, which contains the forces of growth and of nourishment and which man possesses in common with the plants. We must also recognise that man is the bearer of sentient life — that life which inwardly reflects the outer world. This is the astral body. (As I said before, we need not take exception to the terminology but simply accept it in the sense in which it is here explained.) Man has this astral body in common with the animal kingdom, but he excels all other kingdoms of Nature in the surrounding world inasmuch as he possesses the Ego-organisation.

If we merely speak of these constituent parts of the human being in a general way, we shall never come to the point of being able to estimate them at their true value. If, however, we perceive the real significance of these four members of our being, then we have no longer a mere philosophically conceived classification, or a mere division of phenomena before us, and we realise that such a conception really adds something to our comprehension of the being of man. We need only consider a daily event of human life — the interchange of waking and sleeping — and we shall at once understand the significance of this threefold constitution.

Every day we observe the human being passing from that condition wherein he has an inner impulse to move his limbs and when he takes in the impressions of the outer world so that he may work them over within himself, into that other condition where he lies motionless in sleep and his consciousness (if it does not rise to the point of dream) sinks down into an inner, indefinite darkness. If we refuse to admit that the functions of willing, feeling and thinking are annihilated in sleep and simply appear again when he wakes, we must ask ourselves: What is the relation of waking man to sleeping man?

During sleep, the astral body and Ego-organisation have separated from the physical body and the ether body. As soon as we have realised that the astral body and Ego-organisation — the soul-and-spirit — separate from man's physical organisation during sleep, we come to something else, namely, that this radical extraction during sleep can also occur in a lesser degree — partially — during the waking state. Certain conditions call forth a certain tendency to sleep but do not bring about total sleep — I mean conditions of faintness, unconsciousness and the like. These are conditions in which the human being commences to sleep but does not achieve it completely; he hovers as it were, between sleeping and waking.

In order to understand such conditions, we must be able to look into the nature of the human being. We must remind ourselves of what was said in the last lecture when the results of anthroposophical research were explained. I said that it is possible to divide the whole organisation of man into three systems: (1) the nerves-and-senses; (2) the rhythmic system (which includes all rhythmical processes); (3) metabolic-limb system. I also said that the metabolic-limb system is the polar antithesis of the system of nerves-and-senses, while the rhythmic system is the mediator between the two: Each of these three systems is permeated by the four members of man's being — physical body, ether body, astral body and Ego-organisation. Now the constitution of man is very complicated. It cannot be said that in sleep the astral body and Ego-organisation pass entirely out of the physical and etheric bodies. It can so happen that the organism of nerves-and-senses is only partially forsaken by the higher principles. Then, because the system of nerves-and-senses has its main seat in the head, the head is constrained to develop something which gives an inclination towards sleep. Yet the man is not really asleep, for his metabolic-limb system and his rhythmic system still contain the astral body and Ego-organisation. These have only left the head. Hence there arises a state of dullness, or faintness, while the rest of the organism functions as in waking life. What I have here described does not necessarily arise from within; it can occur when something is applied from without — for instance if a certain quantity of lead is administered or lead combined with some other substance. Comatose states or vertigo, which are caused by the separation of the astral body and Ego-organisation from the head, can be brought about by the administration of certain quantities of lead. We see, therefore, that this substance, this lead, when it is taken inwardly, drives the astral body and Ego out of the head. Here we look deeply into the human organisation in its relation to the surrounding world; we see in this way that it can become dependent upon what is taken in by way of substance.

But now let us suppose that a person exhibits the opposite condition — that his astral body and Ego cling too firmly to his head, work too strongly upon it. This becomes clear to us when we examine how the head-organisation works upon the whole man, when we study how the organism builds itself up. We see all the hard parts forming themselves — the bony structures; we see the other softer parts, the muscles and so on. If we study man's whole development from childhood onwards, we find that that part of the organism which shows us, first by its outer shape how it inclines towards ossification, and has its essential nature in its bony consistency — namely the head — we find that the head throws out, during the course of its development, precisely those forces which work formatively in respect of the whole skeleton and which therefore tend to harden and stiffen the human being. We gradually come to know what tasks the Ego-organisation and astral body perform when they permeate the head; they work in such a way that the forces which harden man inwardly, which cause the hard parts of his being to separate from the more fluid organisation, stream out from his head. Now if the astral body and the Ego-organisation work too strongly in the head, the hardening forces stream out too vigorously and the result is what we see in the ageing organisation, when a tendency to bone-formation is present. This tendency manifests as arteriosclerosis, where chalky deposits are present in the arteries. In sclerosis the stiffening, hardening principle, which otherwise works into the bones works into the whole organism. We have therefore an excessively strong working of the Ego-organisation and the astral body; they impress themselves too deeply into the organism.

At this point the conception of the astral body begins to be a very real factor. For, if we administer lead to the organism in its normal condition, we drive the astral body and Ego out of the head. But if these principles are too closely bound to the head and we give a proper dose of lead, we are acting rightly because then we loosen the astral forces and the Ego to some extent from the head and thus we can combat sclerosis.

Here we see how external influences can work upon this connection of the different members of man's being. If we administer lead to the healthy organism, we can bring it to the point of illness; comatose conditions or faintness are caused because the astral body and the Ego are separated from it, giving rise to a condition which in the ordinary course of events is only there in sleep. If, however, the astral body and the Ego are too closely united with the head, the human being is over-wakeful and the effect of this continued over-wakefulness is an inward hardening. The ultimate consequence will be sclerosis and in this case the right thing to do is to drive the astral body and the Ego slightly out of the head. Thus we begin to understand the inner working of the remedy directly we take the different members of man's being into account.

Now let us turn to the metabolic-limb system. When we are sound asleep, our astral body and Ego have separated from this system. But we can drive them out of this system without driving them out of the head; just as we drive them out of the head by means of lead and cause comatose conditions, etc., so by giving a certain dosage of silver or some combination of silver, we can drive the astral body and Ego out of the metabolic-limb system. We then get corresponding manifestations in the digestion — solidifying of the excreta and other disturbances of the digestive tract.

But suppose the astral body and Ego are working too actively in the digestive organs. Now the astral body and Ego stimulate the digestive functions precisely in the metabolic-limb system. If they work too strongly, penetrate too deeply, then there is excessive digestive activity. There is a tendency to diarrhoea and other kindred symptoms which are the result of too rapid and superficial digestion.

Now this is connected with something else, namely that in this condition the metabolic-limb system comes too much to the fore. In the human organism everything works together. If the metabolic-limb system predominates, it also works too strongly — works moreover not only on the rhythmic organisation but also on the head-organisation, principally, however, on the former; for the digestive organisation continues on into the rhythmic system. The products of digestion are transformed in the blood. The rhythm of the blood is dependent upon what enters it by way of material substances. If, then, there is excessive activity on the part of the astral body and Ego, symptoms of fever and a rise of temperature will occur. Now if we know that the astral body and the Ego-organisation are driven out of the metabolic-limb system by the administration of a certain dosage of silver, we know further that if the astral organism and the Ego-organisation are too deeply embedded in the metabolic-limb system, we can raise them out of the latter by giving a remedy consisting of silver or silver combined with some other substance.

This shows us how we can master these connections within the being of man. Spiritual Science therefore makes researches into the whole of Nature. In the last lecture I attempted to show, in principle, how this can be done in respect of the plants. To-day I have explained how it can be done in respect of two mineral substances, lead and silver. We gain an insight into the relation between the human organism and its surroundings by directing our attention to the manner in which these different substances in the outer world affect the different members of the constitution of man.

We will now take an example which shows that it is possible, out of an inner insight into the nature of the activity of the human organisation, to pass from the realm of pathology to an understanding of therapy.

We have a certain remedy continually present within us. The being of man requires healing all the time. The natural inclination is always for the Ego-organisation and the astral body to press too strongly into the physical body and the etheric body. Man would prefer to look out into the world, not clearly, but always more or less dully; he would prefer to be always at rest. As a matter of fact, he suffers from a constant illness: the ‘desire to rest.’ He must be cured of this, for he is only well if his organism is constantly being cured. For the purpose of this cure, he has iron in the blood.

Iron is a metal which works on the organism in such a way that the astral body and Ego are prevented from being too strongly bound to the physical and etheric bodies. There is really a continual healing going on within man, an ‘iron-cure.’ The moment the human organism contains too little iron, there is a longing for rest, a feeling of slackness. Directly there is too much iron, an involuntary over-activity and restlessness sets in. Iron regulates the connection between physical body and ether body on the one hand, and the astral body and Ego-organisation on the other. Therefore if there is any disturbance of this connection it may be said that an increase or a decrease of the iron-content in the organism will restore the right relation.

Now let us observe a certain kind of illness that is not of particular importance in medicine. We can quite well understand why not. It is, to begin with, apparently so intricate that its cause is not easy to discover. And so every possible kind of remedy is given for this illness, to which, as I have said, medicine gives little heed although it is very unpleasant for the sufferer — I mean migraine.

In the head-organisation we observe, first of all, the continuations of the sense-nerves which are most wonderfully intertwined and interwoven. The nerves, as they continue on into the centre of the brain from the senses, form a marvellous structure. It represents the highest point of perfection in respect of the physical organisation, for there the Ego of man impresses the most intense form of its activity upon the physical body. The way in which the nerves pass inwards from the senses and are linked together, bringing about something like an inner articulation within the organism, places the human organism at a much higher level than the animal. And it is possible, just because the Ego-organisation must take hold at this point in order to control this marvellous structure, that it may occasionally fail and then that part of the physical organisation gets left to itself. It may happen that the Ego-organisation is not powerful enough to permeate this so-called ‘white matter’ of the brain or to organise it thoroughly.

Now the white matter of the brain is surrounded by the grey matter — a substance which is far less delicately organised but which is indeed regarded by ordinary physiology as being the more important of the two. This it is not, for the reason that it is connected much more with nutrition. We have a far more mobile activity in respect of nutrition — of inner accumulation of substance — in the grey brain-matter, than in the white matter which lies in the middle and which in a much greater degree is a foundation for the Spiritual.

Now everything in the human organism belongs together, for every member works upon every other. Directly, therefore, that the Ego begins to withdraw to some extent from the central — the white brain-substance — the grey matter becomes disordered. The astral body and the ether body can no longer take proper hold of the grey matter; and so the whole of the interior of the head gets out of order. The Ego-organisation withdraws from the central brain, the astral organisation withdraws more from the periphery of the brain; and the whole organisation of the head is dislocated. The central brain begins to be less serviceable for the forming of concepts, more akin to the grey matter, developing a kind of digestive process which it ought not to do; the grey matter begins to unfold an excessively strong digestive process. And then foreign bodies are absorbed; a strong excretory process permeates the brain. All this reacts upon the finer breathing processes, principally, however, upon the rhythmic processes of the blood-circulation. Thus we get, not perhaps a very deeply penetrating, but still a very significant disorder arising in the human organism and the question is:

How are we to restore the Ego-organisation to the system of nerves-and-senses? How are we to drive the Ego back again to the place it has left — into the central part of the brain?

This we can do if we administer a substance of which I spoke in the earlier lectures, namely, silicic acid. If, however, we were to give only silicic acid, we should, it is true, send back the Ego into the central nerves-and-senses system in the head, but we should leave the surrounding part, i.e., the grey matter of the brain, untouched. Thus we must at the same time so regulate the digestive process of the grey matter that it no longer ‘overflows,’ that it incorporates itself rhythmically into the whole organisation of the human being. Therefore we must simultaneously administer iron — which is there in order to regulate these connections — so that the rhythmic organisation shall be placed once more in its right relation to the system lying at the basis of spiritual activity.

At the same time, however, there will be irregularities in the ‘digestive’ processes in the larger brain. In the organism, nothing takes place in one system of organs without influencing others. Therefore in this case, slight and delicate disorders will arise in the digestive system as a whole. Once more, if we study the connections between outer substances and the human organism, we find that sulphur and combinations of sulphur work in such a way that starting from the digestive system they bring about a regularising of the whole process of digestion.

We have now three standpoints from which migraine can be considered: (1) regulation of the digestion, the disorder of which is evident in the irregular digestive process of the brain; (2) regulation of the nervous and sensory activity of the Ego by means of silicic acid; (3) regulation of the disordered rhythm of the circulatory system by the administration of iron. In this way we are able to survey the whole process. As I have said, migraine is an ailment somewhat despised by ordinary medicine but it is by no means so complicated as it appears when we really penetrate into the nature of the human organism. Indeed we discover that the organism itself calls upon us to administer a preparation of silicic acid, sulphur and iron — combined in a certain way. We then obtain a remedy for migraine (Biodoron) which, however, also has the effect of regulating the influence of the Ego-organisation, causing it to take hold of the organism and to work upon everything of the nature of disturbed rhythm in the blood-circulation and also upon all that is taking place as the out-streaming digestive process in the organism.

Migraine is only a symptom of the fact that the ether body, astral body and Ego are not working properly in the physical body. Therefore our remedy for migraine is peculiarly adapted to restore the co-operation of these three higher principles with the physical. When these members are not working properly together, our remedy — which is not a mere ‘cure for headache’ — can help a patient under all circumstances. It is a remedy for migraine just because it attacks the most radical symptoms; and it is especially by speaking of this remedy that I can make clear to you the anthroposophical principles of therapy, the essential nature of illness and how to prepare a medicament.

Before such remedies can be prepared we must understand the relationship that exists between the human organism and the surrounding world. But for this it is necessary to approach the study of the nature of this relationship in all seriousness. In the last lecture, in indicating how we arrive at plant-remedies, I mentioned Equisetum arvense as an example. We can say of every plant that it works in such and such a way on this or that organ. But as we study these things we must be quite clear that a plant — growing here or there in Nature — is not at all the same in Spring as it is in Autumn. In Spring we have a sprouting and growing plant before us — a plant that contains the physical and ethereal forces just as man contains them. If, then, we administer a substance from this plant to the organism we shall be able to produce an especially strong effect upon the physical body and ether body. If, however, we leave the plant growing all through the Summer and pluck it when Autumn is drawing near, then we have a plant which is on the point of drying up and shriveling.

Now let us look again at the human organism. Throughout the development of the physical body there is a budding and sprouting caused by the working of the ether body. The astral body and the Ego-organisation cause disintegration. All the time in the physical body there is a budding and sprouting life, caused by the ether body. If this process alone were to take place in the human being, he would never be able to unfold self-consciousness; for the more the growth-forces are stimulated, the more this budding and sprouting takes place, the more we lack self-possession. When the astral organism and Ego-organisation separate from the other two members in sleep, we are unconscious. The forces which build man up, which cause growth and give rise to the process of nutrition do not bring him to the point where he can feel and think. On the contrary, to be able to feel and think something in the organism must be destroyed. This is the work of the astral body and the Ego-organisation. They bring about a continual Autumn in man. The physical organisation and ether body bring about a continual Spring — a budding and sprouting life — but no self-consciousness, nothing of the nature of soul and spirit. The astral body and the Ego-organisation destroy; they cause the physical body to dry up and harden. But this has to be. The physical body has continually to oscillate between integration and disintegration. Outside in Nature we find the forces alternating between Spring and Autumn. In man too, there is rhythm; while he is asleep, it is wholly Spring for him — the physical and etheric bodies bud and blossom; when he is awake the forces of the physical and etheric bodies are thrust back, hemmed in, and conscious self-possession sets in — Autumn and Winter are there.

By this we can see how superficial it is to base our judgments merely on outer analogies. External observation might well result in describing the waking life of man as ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ and in speaking of sleep as analogous to Winter. But in reality this is not correct. When we fall asleep, the astral body and the Ego pass out and the physical-etheric part of our being begins to bud and blossom; the forces of the ether body are very active. It is a condition of Spring and Summer. If we could look back upon our physical and etheric bodies and observe what is going on when the astral body and Ego have forsaken them, we should be able to describe this budding and sprouting, and the moment of waking would seem to be like the approach of Autumn. But this, of course, requires the faculty of spiritual perception. It cannot be seen with physical eyes.

Now let us imagine that we are looking for plant-remedies. Gentians gathered in the Spring will have a healing influence on certain forms of dyspepsia. If we gather the plant in the Spring and then prepare it as a medicament, we shall be able to work upon disturbed forces of nutrition.

The roots of the gentian should be boiled and given in order to regulate the forces of nutrition. But if we give gentian roots that have been dug up in the Autumn when the plant as a whole is decaying, when its forces will resemble the functions performed by the astral body, we shall not effect any cure; on the contrary, we shall rather increase the irregularity in the digestive process. It is not enough simply to know that any particular plant is a remedy for this or that ailment; we must also know when the plant must be gathered if it is to act as a remedy.

We must therefore observe the whole being and becoming of Nature if we are to apply effective plant-remedies and develop a rational therapy. We must also know in making up our preparations that it is not the same to gather the plants in the Autumn as to gather and administer them in the Spring. When we are preparing medicaments we must also learn to know what it means if we pick gentian, for instance, in the first weeks of the month of May; for what man bears within him during the course of twenty-four hours, namely Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, is spread in Nature over a period of 365 days. The process which is enacted in the human being in a period of 24 hours, needs 365 days in Nature.

By this you will see what is involved when we speak of applying anthroposophical principles to therapy. At the present time we have a very serviceable science of healing, and as I have said again and again, what Anthroposophy has to give in respect of an art of Healing must certainly not come into opposition with what is given by the recognised Medicine of to-day. Anthroposophical medicine will stand firmly on the foundations of modern medical science in so far as these foundations are justified. But something more has to be added, namely spiritual insight into the being of man.

Consider once more what I have said in these lectures about the system of nerves-and-senses being permeated by all four members — by the physical body, ether body, astral body and Ego. The metabolic-limb system is also permeated by all four members. But each system is permeated by the other members in a different way. In the metabolic-limb system, the Ego-organisation functions in the activity of will. Everything that causes man and his whole organism to move is contained in the metabolic-limb system; everything that leaves him at rest and fills him with inner experiences, concepts, thoughts and feelings, is contained in the system of nerves-and-senses. An essential difference is shown here. In the system of nerves-and-senses, the physical body and etheric body are of far greater importance than the Ego and astral organisations, while in the metabolic-limb system it is these higher members that are essential. Therefore if the Ego and astral body work too strongly in the nerves and senses, something will arise which this latter system then drives into the other members of the being of man.

Over-emphasis of the Ego and astral organisations within the nerves and senses drives this latter system somehow or other into the metabolic-limb system. There are various ways in which this may take place; the result is what may — in a very general sense — be described as ‘swellings.’ We learn to understand the nature of these swellings when we realise that because of excessive activity of the Ego or the astral body, the system of nerves-and-senses is driven into the rest of the organism.

And now consider the opposite condition: the Ego and astral body withdraw from the metabolic-limb system; the physical and etheric organisations become too strong — they radiate into the system of nerves-and-senses and flood it with those processes which properly belong to the metabolic-limb system: the result is an inflammatory condition. Now we can understand that swellings and conditions of inflammation present a certain polaric contrast to one another. If, then, we know how to drive back the system of nerves-and-senses when it is beginning to be active somewhere in the metabolic-limb system, we shall arrive at a possible means of healing.

Now, one instance where the system of nerves-and-senses is working with terrible consequences in some region of the metabolic-limb system, is carcinoma. Here there is evidence that the system of nerves-and-senses has entered into the metabolic-limb organisation and is making itself effective there. In my second lecture I spoke of a tendency to the formation of a sense-organ which can arise at the wrong place, within the metabolic-limb system. The ear, when it is formed in the right place, is normal; but if a tendency to ear-formation or a tendency to form any other sense-organ — even in the very slightest degree — occurs in the wrong place, then we have to do with carcinomatous growth. We must work against this tendency of the human organism, but a very deep understanding of the whole of the evolution of the world and man is necessary here.

If you study anthroposophical literature, you will find that it gives quite different teaching in regard to cosmology from that given by materialistic science. You will find it stated that the creation of our Earth was preceded by another creation when man did not as yet exist in his present form, but was, in certain respects, still spiritually higher than the animal kingdom. The senses of man, as we know them, did not exist. They only arose in their perfected state during Earth-evolution. As tendencies, of course, they were there long before, but in their final form, as they now are, penetrated by the Ego-organisation, they did not come into being until the Earth was formed. The human Ego ‘shot,’ as it were, into eyes, ears and the other senses during this period. Hence if the Ego-organisation becomes too active, a sense does not only form in the organism in a normal way but there is too great a general tendency to create senses. This results in carcinoma. What, then, must we do in order to discover a remedy for this disease? We must go back to earlier conditions of Earth development and search for something that is a last remnant, a heritage, from earlier periods of evolution. We find such a remnant in plants that are parasitic — such as viscum: forms that grow as the mistletoe grows upon trees — forms that have not come to the point of being able to root themselves in the Earth as such but must feed upon what is living. Why must they do this? Because they have, as a matter of fact, evolved before our Earth assumed its solid, mineral form. We have in mistletoe to-day something that could not become a pure Earth-form; it had to take root upon a plant of another character — because the mineral kingdom was the latest of the kingdoms to evolve upon the Earth. In the substance of mistletoe we have something which, if it is prepared in the proper way, will have a beneficial effect upon carcinoma and work in the direction of driving the misplaced formation of a sense-organ out of the human organism.

If we penetrate into Nature, it is possible to fight against those things which, appearing in the form of some illness, have fallen away from their normal evolution. Man is too much ‘Earth’ when he develops cancer; he brings forth the Earth-forces too strongly within his being. We must combat these exaggerated Earth-forces with something that is the result of a state of evolution when the mineral kingdom and the present Earth were not yet in existence. Therefore, working on the basis of anthroposophical research, we make a special preparation from viscum.

I have now put certain brief details before you. I could add a great deal more, for we have already worked out and produced a number of remedies. Let me, for example, mention the following. If the metabolic system radiates into the extreme periphery of the senses-organisation, a certain form of illness is produced — so-called hay-fever. And here we have the opposite of what I described just now. When the system of nerves-and-senses slips downwards so to speak into the metabolic-limb system, this gives rise to swellings. On the other hand, if the metabolic-limb system enters into the region of nerves and senses, we get such manifestations as are present, for example, in hay-fever. In this case it is a question of paralysing those centrifugal processes where the metabolic-limb system is induced too strongly towards the periphery of the organism, by giving something which will stem back the etheric forces. We try to do this with a preparation (Gencydo) made from fruits which are covered with rind; the forces connected with this rind-formation have the effect of driving back the etheric forces in the metabolism. The excessively active centrifugal forces which give rise to hay-fever are combated by strong centripetal forces. Both the pathological and therapeutical processes can be quite clearly perceived. And indeed we find that the best results are obtained with our remedies precisely in those cases that are the most resistent to treatment at the present time. Instances of the treatment of hay-fever show that excellent results have been obtained.

And so I could give you many details to show that the insight into the nature of man which is gained by anthroposophical research builds the bridge between pathology and therapy. For how, in the last resort, do the Ego and astral organisms work? They destroy. And because of this destructive process we are beings of soul and spirit. When something is being disintegrated, a purely poisonous activity is taking place and that destroys the organs. If an organ becomes rampant or hypertrophied, we must disintegrate it. The disintegrative activity belongs to the astral body and Ego. Poisons in an external form — they may be either metallic or vegetable poisons — are, in their effect upon the human organism related to the astral body and Ego. We must realise to what extent a poisonous process is taking place in the human organism inasmuch as the Ego and astral body are at work. There is a correspondence between the budding and sprouting forces of the plants — which we eat without harm — and the physical and etheric forces in the human being; and we must learn to recognise the correspondence between the activity of the Ego and the astral body upon the human organism and the working of the forces and substances of those plants which we cannot eat because they are harmful but which, because they resemble the normally destructive processes in man, can work as remedies.

Thus we learn to divide the whole of Nature, firstly into those forms of life which resemble our physical and etheric bodies and which we eat for the purposes of growth and development; and secondly into the destructive elements, i.e., the poisonous forces which resemble the working of the astral body and Ego-organisation. If we understand the four members of man's being in this sense, we shall regard the polarity between the nutritious substances and the poisonous substances quite differently. The study of illness will then be a continuation of the study of Nature. By an insight into both health and disease — a spiritual insight — our whole conception of Nature will be immeasurably enriched. But there is one condition attached to such study. In our present age, people prefer to embark upon some particular study when the object in question is quite still. They like to bring this object as far as possible into a state of complete rest so that the longest possible time can be spent in observing it. Anthroposophy, on the contrary, prefers that whatever is being studied should be as far as possible in a state of movement; everything must be mobile and living, observed in the presence of spirit, for only so do we draw near to life and reality. To this we must add something else, and that is the courage to heal. This courage is just as necessary as the actual knowledge of how to heal; it is not nebulous or fantastic optimism but a feeling of certainty which makes us feel in any case of illness: ‘I have insight into this and I will try to cure it.’ Great things result from this. But if we are to gain this certainty, it is above all necessary to have the courage to win through to an understanding of the being of man and of Nature. Naturally, therefore, the kind of remedies that we obtain can only come from a living contact with medicine.

Close to the Goetheanum, where we are striving for anthroposophical knowledge which shall satisfy the souls of men, there is a centre which is devoted to healing — near to the Mystery-centre, a therapeutical centre, because a comprehensive knowledge of the relation between the human being and the world must include not only an understanding of the healing processes but also of the processes of disease. A profound insight into the Cosmos is only possible when we are able to survey not only the tendencies which lead to sickness but equally those which lead to health.

If the forces connected with growth in the organism were not continually being repressed, man's being of soul and spirit could never function. The very manifestations which in the normal condition of mankind turn to illness, to retrogression of development, must indeed exist in order that he may become a thinking being. If man could not be ill, he could not be a spiritual being. If the functions of thinking, feeling and willing manifest in an abnormal form, man falls ill. The liver and kidneys must carry out the very same processes that give rise to thinking, to feeling and to willing; but these processes lead to disease when they arise in exaggerated form. The fact that man can be ill makes it also possible for him to be a being who can think, feel and will.

Anthroposophical science can enrich the science of healing with spiritual knowledge as I have shown; but it can also do so because it fills the doctor with devotion and readiness for self-sacrifice. Anthroposophy not only deepens our thinking, our intellectuality, but also our feeling — indeed our whole nature. The answer to the question: What can the Art of Healing gain through Spiritual Science? is this: the doctor, as a healer, can become wholly man; not merely one who thinks about a case of illness with his head but who has inner realisation of the state of illness, knowing that to heal is a noble mission. The doctor will only find the right place for his profession in the social order when he perceives that illness is the shadow side of spiritual development. In order to understand the shadow he must also gaze upon the light — upon the nature and the being of the spiritual processes themselves. If the doctor learns thus to behold spiritual processes to behold the light that is working in the being of man, he will be able to judge of the shadow. Wherever there is light, there must be shadow; wherever there is spiritual development there must be manifestations of illness as its shadow-forms. Only he can master them who can truly gaze upon the light.

This, then, is what Anthroposophy can give to the doctor and to the art of healing.




Last Modified: 16-Aug-2017
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