WHERE IS MAN AS A BEING WHO THINKS AND
With his power to form ideas (thinking) and his experience of
memories, man finds himself within the physical world. But wherever he
may turn his gaze in this physical world, he will nowhere find with
his senses anything that could give him the power to form ideas and to
Self-consciousness appears in the act of forming ideas. This is, in
accordance with our former studies, an acquisition man possesses from
the forces of the Earth. But these earthly forces are such as remain
concealed from the vision of the senses. During earthly life man
thinks only that which his senses impart to him, but the power to
think is not given him by anything of all that he thus thinks.
Where do we find this force which forms ideas (thought) and the
pictures of memory out of that which belongs to the Earth?
We find it when the spiritual vision is directed to that which man
brings with him from the previous Earth-lives. The ordinary
consciousness knows nothing of this. It lives in man unconsciously at
first; but when, after his spiritual life, man enters into earthly
existence, it immediately shows itself to be related to those earthly
forces which do not come into the sphere of sense-observation and
Man is not in this sphere with his ideas (thought), but with his will,
which works in accordance with destiny.
When we consider that the Earth contains forces outside the sphere of
the senses we may speak of the spiritual Earth as the
opposite pole of the physical. It then follows that as a Willing being
man lives in and with the spiritual Earth, ) 5 while as a
Thinking being he is indeed within the physical Earth, but as such he
does not live with it.
Man as a thinking being carries forces from the Spirit world into the
physical, but with these forces he remains a Spirit-being who only
appears in the physical world, but does not form a union with it.
The thinking human being forms a mutual relationship during earthly
existence with the spiritual Earth only; and out of this
mutual relationship his self-consciousness develops. We therefore owe
the development of self-consciousness to spiritual processes
which take place in man during earthly life.
If with spiritual vision we grasp that which is here described, we
have before us the human ego.
With the experiences of memory we come into the sphere of the human
astral body. In the act of remembering there stream into the present
ego not merely the results of former Earth-lives, as is the case in
thinking, but into his inner being stream the forces of the
Spirit-world, which man experiences between death and new birth. This
in-streaming takes place into the astral body.
Again there is no sphere within the physical Earth for the immediate
reception of the forces which thus stream in. As a being who
remembers, man cannot unite with the objects and processes perceived
by his senses, any more than he can unite with them as a being who
But he forms a mutual relationship with that which is not indeed
physical, but which transposes the physical into processes, into
events. These are the rhythmical processes in Nature and in human
life. In Nature, day and night alternate rhythmically, the seasons of
the year follow in rhythmic succession, etc. In man, the processes of
respiration and the circulation of the blood take place rhythmically;
so do the alternating states of waking and sleeping, etc.
Rhythmical processes are nothing physical, either in Nature or in man.
They might be called half spiritual. The physical as object vanishes
in the rhythmic process. In the act of remembering, man's being is
transposed into his own rhythm as well as into that of Nature. He
lives in his astral body.
Indian Yoga wishes to submerge itself entirely in the experience of
rhythm. It wishes to leave the sphere of thought, the sphere of the
ego, and in an inward experience similar to memory look into the world
that lies behind the one which it is possible for the ordinary
consciousness to know.
It is not permissible for the spiritual life of the West to suppress
the ego in order to know. It must bring the ego
( I ) to the perception of the Spiritual.
This cannot take place if we penetrate from the world of the senses to
the world of rhythm, and so experience in the rhythm only the process
in which the physical becomes half spiritual. Rather we must find that
sphere of the Spirit world which reveals itself in rhythm.
Two things are therefore possible. Firstly, the experience of the
physical in the rhythmical element as the physical becomes half
spiritual. This is an older path, one not to be followed any longer at
the present time. Secondly, the experience of the Spirit-world, which
possesses as its sphere the cosmic rhythm within man and without him,
just as man's sphere is the earthly world with its physical beings and
Now to this Spirit-world belongs everything that takes place at the
present cosmic moment through Michael. A Spirit such as Michael brings
that which otherwise would lie in the Luciferic sphere into the purely
human evolution which is not influenced by Lucifer by choosing
the world of rhythm for his dwelling-place.
All this can be seen when man enters into Imagination. For with
Imagination the soul lives in rhythm, and Michael's world is the one
which reveals itself in rhythm.
Memory stands already in this world, but not very deeply. The ordinary
consciousness experiences nothing of it. But if we enter into
Imagination there emerges first of all, out of the world of rhythm,
the world of subjective memories; and this passes over at once into
the archetypal pictures for the physical world which are created by
the Divine-Spiritual world and which live in the etheric. We
experience the ether which lights up in cosmic pictures and conceals
within it the creative activity of the Universe. And the Sun-forces
weaving in this ether are there not merely radiant, they conjure up
the archetypal world-pictures out of the light. The Sun appears as the
cosmic world-painter. It is the cosmic counterpart of the impulses
which in man paint the pictures of thought.
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (in connection with the foregoing study: Where is man as a being who thinks and remembers?)
165. Man as a thinking being, though he lives in the realm of the
physical Earth, does not enter into communion with it. He lives, a
spiritual being, in such a way as to perceive the physical; but the
forces for his Thinking, he receives from the spiritual
Earth, in the same way in which he receives his Destiny
the outcome of his former lives on Earth.
166. What he experiences in Memory is already within that world where
in rhythm the physical becomes half spiritual, and where such
Spirit-processes take place as are being brought about in the present
cosmic moment by Michael.
167. He who learns to know Thinking and Memory in their true nature,
will also begin to understand how man as an earthly being, though he
lives within the earthly realm, does not become submerged in it with
his full being. For as a being from beyond the Earth, he is seeking by
communion with the spiritual Earth for his Self
consciousness-for the fulfilment of his Ego.