Where is Man as a Thinking and Remembering Being?
In mental conception (thinking) and in the awakening of remembrances, Man is in the sphere of the physical world. Yet wheresoever he may look in this physical world, nowhere with his senses will he find anything that would give him the powers of mental conception and of remembrance.
In the act of mental conception, the consciousness of self arises. Self-consciousness — as indicated in the preceding letters — is a possession that Man has acquired by the powers of the earth-world. But these are earthly powers of a kind that remain hid from the observation of the senses. What Man thinks in earthly life is, it is true, only what comes to him by means of his senses; but the power to think it does not come to him from any of the things that he thus thinks.
Where then is to be found this power, which, out of the realm of earth, forms mental conception (thinking) and the images of memory?
One finds it if the spirit's eye be directed towards that which Man brings with him from his previous earth-lives. Ordinary consciousness knows nothing of this; it lives, of itself, unconscious in Man. But it shows itself at once, when Man sets foot on earth after the spiritual state of existence, to be related to those earthly forces which do not come within the sphere of sense-observation and sense-thinking.
It is not with his mental conceiving — this Thinking — that Man is in this sphere, but with his Willing, which works itself out along the lines of his destiny,
In view of the fact that the Earth contains forces which lie outside the sphere of the senses, we may speak of the ‘spiritual earth,’ as opposite pole to the ‘physical earth.’ The conclusion then is, that Man as a willing being lives in and with the ‘spiritual earth;’ but that as a mentally conceiving or thinking being, although he is in the midst of the physical earth, he does not live with it.
Man as a thinking being carries over forces from the spiritual world into the physical. But with these forces he remains a spirit-being, that only appears in the physical world but enters into no community with it.
The only community entered into by mentally conceiving — thinking — Man, in the course of his earthly existence, is with the ‘spiritual earth.’ And it is in this community with the ‘spiritual earth’ from which his individual self-consciousness grows. The origin of self-consciousness is due to spiritual processes which Man undergoes in earthly life.
Comprehending in spiritual vision all that is here described we have before us the human I, spiritually seen.
With the experiences of Memory we come into the region of the human astral body. In Remembering, it is not merely — as in the act of mental conception or Thinking — the results of previous earth-lives that send their stream into the I of the present moment; it is the active forces of the spirit-world to which Man was subjected between death and new birth, which now stream into his inner life. These forces stream into the astral body.
Here again, there is in the physical earth no direct field for the reception of this stream of forces. Man, as a Remembering being, can as little unite himself in remembrance with the things and processes perceived by his senses, as he can unite himself with them as a Thinking being in the act of forming mental conceptions.
He enters however, as a Remembering being, into community with something which, though not physical, translates the physical into processes, into proceedings — namely with the Rhythmic processes in Nature and in human life. In Nature, there is a rhythmic alternation of day and night, a rhythmic succession of seasons, and so on. In Man, the breathing and the circulation of the blood proceed rhythmically; so too the alternation of sleep and waking, and so on.
Rhythmic processes are nothing physical, whether in Nature or in Man; they might be called semi-spiritual. The physical as a ‘thing’ disappears in the rhythmic process. In his Remembering, Man with his inner being is translated into the Rhythm which is both his and Nature's. He is then living in his astral body.
The aim of the Indian ‘Yoga’ is to enter completely into the life of Rhythm. It is an endeavour to get away from the field of mental conception — of Man's I — and in a process of living inner experience, similar to the process of Remembrance, to see into the world which lies behind what can be known to the ordinary consciousness.
The spiritual life of the West must not pursue knowledge by suppressing the I; rather, it must educate the I to the perception of the Spiritual.
This can not be done if one pursues a way from the sensible into the rhythmic world, where all that one realizes in the rhythm is the passing-over of the physical into a semi-spiritual. The better alternative is to seek that sphere of the Spirit-world which manifests itself in the rhythm.
Two ways are therefore possible: First, the experiencing of the Physical in the Rhythmic realm where the Physical passes into the Semi-Spiritual. This is an older road, no longer to be taken to-day. Secondly, the experiencing of that spiritual world, of which the world-rhythm, both in and outside of Man, is the special sphere, even as the special sphere of Man is the earth-world with its physical beings and physical events.
Now this is the spirit-world to which belongs all that is being done, in the present cosmic moment, by Michael. A spirit such as Michael, by taking up his habitation in the rhythmic world, brings what otherwise would life in Lucifer's domain into the field of purely human evolution, over which Lucifer has no influence.
This all becomes plainly visible when Man enters into Imagination. For the soul, in her Imaginings, lives in rhythm; and Michael's world is the world that manifests itself in rhythm.
With Remembrance, Memory, we are already in this same world, but not very deep. The ordinary consciousness knows nothing of its life. But when we enter Imagination, then, out of the rhythmic world there rises up, first, the world of subjective memories; this, however, passes over at once into the world of Ideal forms, whose life is in the Ether — the Archetypes created by the divine spiritual world for the physical. We experience the Ether, lighting up in cosmic pictures, bearing within it the creative process of the World. And the forces of the Sun, weaving in this Ether: here they not only radiate; out of the light they conjure forth the cosmic Archetypes. The sun is now revealed as the World-painter, the cosmic artist. The Sun is the cosmic counterpart of those impulses which in Man paint the pictures of mental conception, of Thought.