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An Outline of Occult Science

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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An Outline of Occult Science



(Part 2)

Part 1 |  Part 2 |  Part 3 |  Part 4 |  Part 5 |  Part 6 |  Part 7  ]

Of the present four members of the being of man, the physical body is the oldest. It is also the member that, in its own way, has attained the greatest perfection. Supersensible research shows that this human member was already in existence during the Saturn evolution. It will be seen in the course of this description that the form, however, which this physical body possessed upon Saturn was something quite different from the present human physical body. This earthly human physical body can only maintain its existence by reason of its connection with the life body, astral body, and ego, described in the preceding parts of this book. Such a connection did not yet exist upon Saturn. At that time the physical body passed through its first stage of evolution without having a human life body, astral body, or ego inserted into it. During the Saturn evolution it gradually matured so as to be able to receive a life body. To this end, Saturn had first to pass over into a spiritual state and then reincarnate as the Sun. During the Sun incarnation, what had become the physical body on Saturn unfolded again, as though from a germ of a past evolution, and only then could it draw into itself an etheric body. Through this insertion of an etheric body, the physical body changed its character. It was raised to a second degree of perfection. A similar thing occurred during the Moon evolution. The human ancestor, having evolved from the Sun to the Moon, received into himself the astral body, and thus the physical body became changed a third time; that is, it was raised to the third degree of its perfection. Moreover, the life body was likewise changed, and it stood now in the second stage of its perfection. Upon the Earth the ego was added to the human ancestor consisting of physical body, life body, and astral body. The physical body thereby reached its fourth degree of perfection, the life body its third, the astral body its second; the ego stands only in its first stage of existence.

If we give ourselves up to an unprejudiced examination of the human being, there will be no difficulty in correctly picturing these various degrees of perfection of the individual members. We need only in this connection compare the physical body with the astral. Certainly it is true that the astral body, as a soul member, stands at a higher stage of evolution than the physical body, and when, in the future, the astral body will have perfected itself, it will have a much greater significance for the entire being of man than the present physical body. Still in its own way the physical body has reached a certain climax of evolution. In this connection one need but think of the structure of the heart, organized in accordance with the greatest wisdom, the marvellous structure of the brain and other organs, even that of an individual portion of a bone, for example, that of the upper part of the thigh bone, the great trochanter. There is within the end of this bone a net-like or trestle-like structure of delicate bony fibers, formed in harmony with the laws of mechanics. The whole is fitted together in such a manner that, with the least amount of material, the most advantageous effect on the articular surfaces is attained, for example, the most suitable distribution of friction and as a result a proper kind of mobility. Thus in the various parts of the human body structures are to be found full of wisdom, and if we consider further the harmonious co-operation between the parts and the whole, we shall certainly find that it is correct to speak of the particular perfection of this member of the human being. In this connection, the fact that in certain parts of the physical body seemingly inadequate phenomena may appear, or that disturbances may arise either in the structure or in the functions, is of no importance. We shall even be able to discover that these disturbances are, in a certain sense, only the necessary shadow side of the wisdom-filled light that is shed over the entire physical organism. Now compare with this the astral body as the bearer of joy and sorrow, of desire and passion. Oh, what insecurity reigns in this body in respect of joy and sorrow, what desires and passions are enacted within it, often meaningless and running counter to higher human purposes! The astral body is only in process of acquiring the harmony and inner completeness that we already find in the physical body. In like manner it is possible to show that the ether body, in its way, appears more perfect than the astral body, but less perfect than the physical body, and an adequate consideration will prove that the essential kernel of the human being, the ego, stands at present only at the beginning of its evolutions. For how much has this ego already accomplished of its task of transforming the other members of man's being in such a manner that they be a manifestation of its own nature? What results from external observation in this direction is made more acute for those who understand spiritual science by means of something else. One may quote the fact that the physical body can be overtaken by sickness. Spiritual science is in the position to show that a great part of all sicknesses originates from the fact that the perversity and mistakes of the astral body are transmitted to the etheric body, and in a roundabout way through the latter destroy the complete harmony of the physical body. The deeper connection which can only be touched upon here, and the actual cause of many disease processes elude the scientific mode of observation that confines itself only to physical sensory facts. In most cases it happens that the damaging of the astral body does not produce pathological tendencies of the physical body in the same life in which the damage has occurred, but only in a subsequent one. Therefore, the laws that apply here have a meaning only for those who are able to acknowledge the repetition of human life on earth, but even if there is no desire to gain such deeper knowledge, yet the ordinary view of life shows that the human being indulges himself altogether too much in enjoyments and desires that undermine the harmony of the physical body. Pleasure, desire, passion do not reside in the physical, but in the astral body, and this is in many respects still so imperfect that it can destroy the perfection of the physical body. — We wish to call attention to the fact that no attempt is made here to prove by such arguments the statements of spiritual science concerning the evolution of the four members of man's being. The proofs are taken from spiritual research, and this shows that the physical body has passed through a fourfold metamorphosis on to higher degrees of perfection, and that the other human members, as already described, have undergone fewer transformations. We only wished to point out that these communications of spiritual research relate to facts the effects of which show also in the outwardly observable degrees of perfection of the physical, life, and astral bodies.

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Last Modified: 17-Oct-2020
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