Concerning the Boundary between the Physical
World and Supersensible Worlds
to understand the mutual relations of the various worlds, we must take
into account the fact that a force which in one world is bound to develop
activity in conformity with the order of the universe, may, when it
comes to be developed in another world, be directed against that order.
Therefore it is necessary for man's being that there should exist in
his etheric body the two opposing forces, the capacity for transformation
into other beings, and the strong ego-feeling, or feeling of self. Neither
of these forces of the human soul can be unfolded in physical existence
except in a deadened form. In the elemental world they exist in such
a way as to make man's being possible by their mutual balance, just
as sleep and the waking state make human life in the physical world
possible. The relation of two such opposing forces can never be that of
one effacing the other, but must be of such a kind that both are developed
and act upon each other in the way of balance or compensation.
Now it is only in the
elemental world that the ego-feeling and the capacity for transformation
act upon each other in the way indicated; the physical world can only
be worked upon, in conformity with the order of the universe, by the
result of these two forces in their mutual relationship and cooperation.
If the capacity for transformation which it is necessary for a person
to possess in his etheric body were to extend in the same degree to
physical existence, he would feel himself in his soul as something which
in considering his physical body he is not. The physical body gives
man in its own world a certain fixed stamp, by means of which he is
put into that world as a particular personal being. He is not put into
the elemental world with his etheric body in this manner. In the elemental
world, in order to be a human being in the full sense, he must be able
to assume the most varied forms. If this were impossible to him, he
would be condemned to complete isolation in the elemental world; he
would not be able to know about anything in it except himself; for he
would not feel himself related to any other being or event. This, in
the elemental world would be equivalent to the non-existence of those
beings or events, as far as such a person was concerned.
the human soul were to develop in the physical world the capacity for
transformation necessary for the elemental world, its personal identity
would be lost. Such a soul would be living in contradiction with itself.
In the physical world, the capacity for transformation must be a power
at rest in the depths of the soul; a power which gives the soul its
fundamental tone or keynote, but which does not come to development
in that world.
Clairvoyant consciousness has therefore to live itself into the capacity
for transformation; if it were not able to do this, it could make no
observations in the elemental world. It thus acquires a faculty which
it should only bring to bear so long as it knows itself to be in the
elemental world, and which it must suppress as soon as it returns to
the physical world. Clairvoyant consciousness must ever observe the
boundary of the two worlds, and must not use in the physical world faculties
adapted for a supersensible world. If the soul, knowing itself to be
in the physical world, were to allow the capacity for transformation
possessed by its etheric body to go on working, ordinary consciousness
would become filled with conceptions which do not correspond to any
being in the physical world. Confusion would reign in the life of the
soul's thought. Observation of the boundary between the worlds is a
necessary presupposition for the right working of clairvoyant consciousness.
One who wants to acquire this consciousness must be careful that no
disturbing element creeps into his ordinary consciousness through his
knowledge of supersensible worlds.
If we learn to know the guardian of the threshold we know the state
of our soul with regard to the physical world, and whether it is strong
enough to banish from physical consciousness the forces and faculties,
belonging to supersensible worlds, which should not be allowed to be
active in ordinary consciousness. If the supersensible world is entered
without the self-knowledge brought about by the guardian of the threshold,
we may be overwhelmed by the experiences of that world. These experiences
may thrust themselves into physical consciousness as illusive pictures.
In that case they assume the character of sense-perceptions, and the
necessary consequence is that the soul takes them for realities when
they are not so. Rightly developed clairvoyance will never take the
pictures of the elemental world for reality in the sense in which physical
consciousness has to take the experiences of the physical world as realities.
The pictures of the elemental world are only brought into their true
association with the realities to which they correspond, by the soul's
faculty of transformation.
the second force necessary for the etheric body — the strong ego-feeling — should
not be projected into the soul's life within the physical world in the
same way as is appropriate for it in the elemental world. If it is,
it then becomes a source of immoral propensities, as far as these are
connected with egoism. It is at this point in its observation of the
universe that spiritual science finds the origin of evil in human action.
It would be misunderstanding the order of the world to surrender oneself
to the belief that this order could be maintained without the forces
which form the source of evil. If these forces were non-existent, the
etheric being of man could not come to development in the elemental
world. These forces are entirely good when they come into operation
in the elemental world only. They bring about evil when they do not
remain at rest in the depths of the soul, there regulating man's relation
to the elemental world, but are transferred to the soul's experience
within the physical world and are changed thereby into selfish impulses.
In this case they work against the faculty of love and thus become the
causes of immoral action.
the strong ego-feeling passes from the etheric to the physical body,
it not only effects a strengthening of egoism, but a weakening of the
etheric body. Clairvoyant consciousness has to make the discovery that
on entering the supersensible world, the necessary ego-feeling is weak
in proportion as egoism in the experiences of the physical world is
strong. Egoism does not make a human being strong in the depths of his
soul, but weak. And when man passes through the gateway of death, the
effect of the egoism which has been developed during the life between
birth and death is such as to make the soul weak for the experiences
of the supersensible world.