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The Concealed Aspects of Human Existence and the Christ Impulse

Schmidt Number: S-5073

On-line since: 9th December, 2003

The Concealed Aspects of Human Existence
and the Christ Impulse

Lecture by Rudolf Steiner, The Hague, November 5, 1922.

IN connection with the public lectures and public gatherings, it always affords me a satisfaction also to be able to address this Group here in The Hague, and I shall try this evening to say some things that may be to you a more intimate continuation, a supplement, of what I was able to express in the public lectures. (Lectures given in The Hague, Rotterdam, and Delft, Holland, from October 31 to November 6, 1922)

In order to have knowledge of the spiritual world and for the acquirement of an inner life with the spiritual world, it is necessary most of all to see in the right light that which one might call the concealed aspects of human existence. Indeed, the concealed aspects of human existence are the more important aspects for the comprehensive judging and evaluation of human life. This may not be admitted willingly by people who merely think superficially and materially, but it is none the less true. No one can become acquainted with human existence, unless he is able to enter into its concealed aspects.

One could, perhaps, if I may thus express myself, demur against the Gods and say that they have put the most precious thing for man into the concealed aspects of his life; that they have not afforded him what is most precious in the visible aspect of life. If this had been done, man would in a higher sense remain impotent. We acquire spirit-soul strength, which then can permeate our whole being, through the very fact that we must first achieve our genuine human dignity and our human nature, that we must first do something in the realm of our soul and spirit in order to become man at all in the right sense of the word. And in this victory, in this necessity of having first to accomplish something to become man, in this lies that which can fill us with strength, which can permeate with forces the innermost depth of our being.

In order, therefore, to explain more definitely this leading theme which I have introduced today, I will speak to you again from a certain viewpoint about that concealed aspect of human existence which is enveloped in the unconsciousness of sleep. And then I will bring to your attention something of that which lies enveloped in states of existence that remain unconscious during earth life: those states of existence in pre-earthly life and the life after death.

The sleep life takes place in such a way for man that, after the transition through dreams — which have, however, but a very dubious existence and a very dubious significance for human life, if one simply accepts them as they present themselves — he falls into the unconsciousness of sleep, out of which he emerges only on awakening, when he immerses himself with his ego and his astral body in the ether body and physical body; that is, when he makes use of both these principles as a tool in order to perceive his physical environment and then to work within this physical environment through his will. But that which lies beyond birth and death is enveloped in that very part of man's being which becomes unconscious when he falls asleep... And the conditions which the human being experiences there I will describe to you as though they were conscious. They can become conscious only to the imaginative, the inspirative, and the intuitive consciousness. But the difference between this and what every man experiences in the night is only a difference in knowledge. The individual who, as a modern initiate, looks into the sleep life knows how it is, but this does not make the life of sleep into something different for him from what it is for every man, even for the one who passes through it quite unconsciously. Thus our description can be in conformity with reality when we describe that which remains unconscious as though the human being experienced it consciously. And this is what I shall now do.

After the transition through dreams — as I intimated before — man passes, as regards the normal consciousness, into unconsciousness. But the reality of this unconscious state, as it manifests itself to the higher, supersensuous knowledge, is that, directly after falling asleep, man enters into a sort of contourless existence. If he should realize his condition consciously, he would feel himself poured out into an etheric realm. He would feel himself outside of his body, not limited, however, but widely diffused; he would sense or observe his body as some object outside of himself. If this condition should become conscious, it would be filled, as regards man's soul nature, with a certain inner anxiety or uneasiness. He feels that he has lost the firm support of the body, as though he stood before an abyss.

What is called the Threshold of the Spiritual World has to exist for the reason that the human being must first prepare himself to have this feeling, the feeling of having lost that support which the physical body affords, and to bear that anxiety in the soul which is caused by his facing something entirely unknown, something indeterminate.

As I stated, this feeling of anxiety does not exist for the ordinary sleeper; it is not in his consciousness, but he does pass through it, nevertheless. That which constitutes anxiety, for instance, in every-day physical existence is expressed in certain processes, even though they be subtle processes of the physical body: when man senses anxiety, certain vascular activities in the physical body are different from what they are when he feels no anxiety. Something occurs objectively besides what the human being feels as anxiety, restlessness, etc., in his consciousness. This objective element of a soul-spirit anxiety man experiences while he enters through the portal of sleep into the sleep state. But with the feeling of anxiety something else is connected: a feeling of deep longing for a Divine-Spiritual Reality that streams and weaves through the cosmos.

If man should experience in full consciousness the first moments after falling asleep — or even hours, perhaps, in the case of many persons — he would be in this state of anxiety and of longing for the Divine. The fact that we feel religiously inclined at all during the waking life depends first of all upon the fact that this feeling of anxiety and this longing for the Divine which we experience in the night have their after-effects upon the mood of the day. Spiritual experiences projected, so to speak, into physical life fill us with the after-effect of that anxiety which impels us to crave to know the Real in the world; they fill us with the after-effect of the longing we bear while asleep, and they express themselves as religious feelings during the waking hours of the day.

But such is the case only during the first stages of sleep. If sleep continues, something peculiar occurs; the soul exists as though split, as though split up into many souls. If the human being should experience this condition consciously — which only the modern initiate can completely behold — he would have the sensation of being many souls and consequently think that he had lost himself. Every one of these soul beings, which really are merely shadowy images of souls, represents something in which he has lost himself. In this state of sleep the human being has a different appearance according as we observe him before or after the Mystery of Golgotha. Namely, the human being requires cosmic aid from without in regard to this condition, if I may so express it, of being split into many soul reflections.

In olden times, preceding the Mystery of Golgotha, the initiates, the old initiates, gave to the people indirectly through their pupils, through the teachers whom they sent out into the world for mankind, certain religious instructions which evoked feelings during their waking life. And these instructions, which were expressed by the people in ritual acts, strengthened their souls so that the human being carried, in turn, a sort of after-effect of this religious mood over into his sleep life.

You can see the reciprocal action between being asleep and being awake! On the one hand the human being, in his longing for the Divine during the first stage of sleep, experiences that which induces him to develop religion during waking life. If this religion is developed during the waking life — and it was developed through the influence of the initiates — it has its effect again upon the second stage of sleep: through the after-effect of this religious mood the soul has then sufficient strength to bear the sensation of being split — at least to exist at all amidst this plurality.

This truly is the difficulty that irreligious people have: they have no such aid during the night in regard to this being split into many souls and thus they carry these experiences over into the waking life without the strength that religion affords. For every experience we have during the night has its aftereffect in the waking life. It has not yet been a very long time since irreligion and non-religiousness began to play so large a, part among mankind as it did during the last century, the 19th century. People still experienced the aftereffect of the influence of what earlier, more sincere, religious times meant to the human being. But, since the irreligious times continue, the ultimate result will be significant: people will carry the after-effect of this splitting of their souls from their sleep state over into their waking life, and this will principally contribute to the fact that they will not have the forces of coherence in their organism to distribute properly the nourishing effect of the food in their organism. And mankind will be afflicted with significant diseases in the near future as a consequence of this irreligion.

We must, indeed, not think that the spirit-soul part of our being has no bearing upon the physical! Its relation is not such that irreligious development will be immediately punished with disease by some kind of demoniacal gods — life does not run its course in such a superficial manner — but there does exist, nevertheless, an intimate relation between our experience in the realm of soul and spirit and our physical constitution. In order to possess health during the waking hours of the day, it is essential that we carry into our sleep life the feeling of our unity with the divine-spiritual Beings, in whose realm of activity we immerse the eternal kernel of our own being. And it is only by a right existence within a spirit-soul world between falling asleep and awakening that we can produce the right and health-bringing forces of a spirit-soul element, so necessary for our waking life.

During this second stage of sleep the human being acquires, not a cosmic consciousness, but a cosmic experience in lieu of the ordinary physical consciousness. As stated before, only the initiate goes through this cosmic experience consciously, but everyone has this experience in the night between falling asleep and waking up. And in this second stage of sleep the human being is in such a state of life that his inner nature carries out imitations of the planetary movements of our solar system. During the days we experience ourselves in our physical body. When we speak of ourselves as physical human beings, we say that inside of us are our lungs, our heart, our stomach, our brain, etc. ... this constitutes our physical inner nature. In the second stage of sleep the movement of Venus, of Mercury, of the sun, and of the moon constitute our inner spirit-soul nature. This whole reciprocal action of the planetary movements of our solar system, we do not bear it directly within us, not the planetary movements themselves; but facsimiles, astral facsimiles of them then constitute our inner organism. To be sure, we are not spread out into the entire planetary cosmos, but we are of extraordinary size, compared with our physical size in the daytime. We do not bear within us the real Venus each time that we are in the state of sleep, but a facsimile of its movement. In the second stage of sleep, between falling asleep and awakening, that which occurs in the spirit-soul part of our being consists of these circulations of the planetary movements in astral substance, just as our blood circulates through our physical organism during the day, stimulated by the movement of breathing. Thus through the night we have circulating within us as our inner life, so to speak, a facsimile of our cosmos.

Before we can experience this circulation of the planetary after-effects we must first experience the splitting of the soul. As I said before, the people of olden times, previous to the Mystery of Golgotha, received instructions from their initiates, in order that they might be able to bear this splitting of the soul and that the soul should find its way within these movements which now constituted its inner life. Since the Mystery of Golgotha something else has taken the place of this old teaching. Namely, something has occurred which the human being can now appropriate inwardly to himself as a feeling, a sentiment, a soul life, and a soul mood, when he really feels himself one with the deed which was accomplished for mankind by the Christ Being through the Mystery of Golgotha here on earth. The individual who truly feels his unity with the Christ and the Mystery of Golgotha to the degree that in him are fulfilled the words of St. Paul: “Not I, but the Christ in me”, he has, through this unity with the Christ and the Mystery of Golgotha, developed something in his feeling which has its after-effect in sleep, so that he now has the strength to overcome the splitting of his soul and the power to find his way in the labyrinth of the planetary orbits which now constitute his inner self. For we must find our way, even though we are not conscious in our inner being of that which constitutes for the soul the planetary circulation in place of the blood circulation during the day, which now continues in the physical body we have abandoned.

After this experience, we enter the third stage of sleep. In this third stage we have an additional experience — of course, the experiences of the preceding stage always remain and the experiences of the next stage are added thereto — in the third stage is included, what I should like to call the experience of the fixed stars. After experiencing the circulation of the planetary facsimiles we actually experience the formations of the fixed stars, that which in former times, for instance, was called the images of the Zodiac. And this experience is essential to the soul aspect of the human being, because he has to carry the after-effect of this experience with the fixed stars into his waking life in order to have the strength at all to control and vitalize his physical organism at all times through his soul.

It is a fact that, during the night, every human being first experiences an etheric preliminary state of cosmic anxiety and longing for the Divine, then a planetary state, as he feels the facsimiles of the planetary movements in his astral body, and he has the experience of the fixed stars in that he feels — or would feel if he were conscious — that he experiences his own soul-spiritual inner self as a facsimile of the heavens, of the fixed stars.

Now, my dear friends, for the one who has insight into these different stages of sleep, a significant question arises, I might say, every night. The human soul, the astral organism, and the ego being, leave the physical body, their inner self is filled with facsimiles of the planetary movements and of the constellations of the fixed stars. The question arising now is this: “How is it that every morning, after each sleep, the human being returns to his physical body again?”

And it is here where the science of initiation discovers that the human being would actually not return if, on entering the planetary movements and the constellations of the fixed stars, he did not also live his way into the forces of the moon while expanding outward into the facsimiles of cosmic existence. He lives his way into the spiritual forces of the moon, into those cosmic forces which are reflected in the physical moon and in the moon-phases.

While all other planetary and fixed star forces actually draw the human being out of his physical body, it is the lunar forces which again and again return him, when he wakes, to his physical body. The moon is connected in general with all that brings the human being from his spiritual life into the physical life. It, therefore, makes no difference — the physical constellation is not the thing to be considered, although a certain significance attaches thereto — whether we have to do with new moon, full moon, the first or last quarter of the moon; in the spiritual world the moon is always present. It is the lunar forces which lead the human being back into the physical world, into his physical body.

You can see, my dear friends, that, as I briefly describe to you the experience the human being has between falling asleep and awakening, I am, upon the whole, giving you something of a general description of his sojourn in the spiritual world. And this is the state of the matter. Fundamentally, we experience every night a reflection of the life between death and a new birth. If we look into pre-earthly life with the imaginative, the inspirative, and the intuitive consciousness, we see ourselves first of all as spirit-soul human beings in a very early state of pre-earthly existence. We see ourselves possessed of a cosmic consciousness. Our life there is not a reflection of the cosmos, as is our sleep life, but we are actually diffused through the real cosmos. About the middle of our life between death and a new birth we feel ourselves as spirit-soul beings, fully conscious — in fact with a much clearer and more intensive consciousness than we could possibly have anywhere upon the earth — surrounded by divine-spiritual Beings, by the divine-spiritual Hierarchies. And, just as we work with nature's forces here on earth, just as we use external objects of nature as tools, so in the same way does work take place between us and the Beings of the higher spiritual Hierarchies.

And what manner of work is this? This work consists in the fact that the spirit-soul human being, conjointly with an enormous number of sublime spiritual Beings of the cosmos, is weaving the cosmic spirit-germ of his physical human body in the spiritual realm. However peculiar this may seem to you — to weave the physical human body as spiritual germ out of the whole cosmos — it is the greatest, the most significant piece of work conceivable in the cosmos. And not only does the human soul in the state described work at this, but the human soul works at it conjointly with whole hosts of divine-spiritual Beings. For, if you visualize the most complicated thing that can be formed here on earth, you find it primitive and simple in contrast with that mighty fabric of cosmic vastness and grandeur which is woven there and which, compressed and condensed through conception and through birth, becomes permeated with physical earth matter and then becomes the human physical body.

When we refer to a germ here on earth, we think of it as a small germ which afterwards becomes relatively large. But, when we refer to the cosmic spirit-germ in relation to the human body as a product of the spiritual, this germ is of gigantic size. And from that moment on, which I have pointed out to you, when the soul is coming towards its birth, the soul-spiritually magnificent human germ is gradually diminishing. The human being continues to work at it with the aim constantly in view that this will be woven together, pressed together, condensed into the physical human body.

It was really not without reason that the older initiates — through a kind of clairvoyance which, to be sure, is no longer suitable to us, although the more recent science of initiation shows the same fact — that the older initiates called the human body the Temple of the Gods. It is the Temple of the Gods, for it is woven out of the cosmos by the human soul conjointly with divine Beings each time between death and a new birth. Later on — in a manner still to be described — the human being is given his physical form. While the human being is weaving the spirit-germ of his physical body at the stage indicated, he is, as regards his soul being, in a condition, in a mood, that can only be compared with what the modern initiates call intuition. The human being lives with his soul within the activity of Gods. He is wholly diffused in cosmic-divine existence. In this state halfway between death and a new birth he is participating in the life of the Gods.

But then, as the human being proceeds on his way, as he comes closer to conception or birth, a change takes place. In a certain way, his consciousness is then impressed with the fact that the divine-spiritual Beings of the Higher Hierarchies are withdrawing from him. And there appears to him only something like a revelation, like a reflection, as if the Gods had withdrawn and only their nebulous images were still standing before the human soul, and as if a kind of veil were being woven as a nebulous imitation of that which in reality had been woven before. The intuitive consciousness he formerly possessed now changes to a cosmic inspired consciousness. The human being lives no more with the divine-spiritual Beings of the Higher Hierarchies; he lives with their manifestation. But in place of this an inner ego develops more and more within the soul consciousness. During the climax, I might say, of life between death and a new birth, the human being lives entirely with the divine-spiritual Beings of the Higher Hierarchies; the ego has no inner strength; it becomes conscious again of its inner self only when the Gods withdraw and only their manifestation remains. The glory of the Gods, their radiation, enters a kind of inspired consciousness; but, as a recompense, the human being feels himself as a self-existent being. And that which now awakens first in him is, I might say, an eager desire, a kind of craving.

Midway between death and a new birth, the human being works at the spirit-germ of his physical body, so to speak, out of a deep inner satisfaction. Although he realizes that the ultimate goal will be his physical body in his next earthly life, he is not permeated with an eager desire, but only — we might say — with admiration for this physical human body, considered from a universal standpoint. At the moment when the human beings is living no more in divine worlds, but only in the manifestations of divine worlds, the eager desire arises in him to reincarnate upon the earth. Just while the ego consciousness is becoming continually stronger does this eager desire awaken. We withdraw, so to speak, from the divine worlds and come closer to what we shall become as earthly human beings. This eager desire becomes continually stronger, and what we see around us is also undergoing a change. Prior to this, we were living in nothing but Beings, in the divine-spiritual Hierarchies; we knew ourselves to be one with them. When we spoke of our inner self we were really speaking of the cosmos — but the cosmos itself consisted of Beings, Beings in sublime stages of consciousness with whom we were living. Now an outer glory is to be seen, and in this outer glory the first images gradually appear of that which, ultimately, are the physical reflections of the divine-spiritual Beings. This glory emanates from the Being which man knew there beyond as the Sublime Solar Being, and in this glory appears, so to speak, the sun as seen from without, or as seen from the world. Here on earth we look up to the sun. There, while descending to the earth, we at first see the sun from the other side. But the sun emerges, the fixed stars emerge, and behind the fixed stars the planetary movements emerge. And with the emergence of the planetary movements a quite definite kind of forces emerges: the spiritual forces of the moon; they now take control of us. It is these lunar forces which, little by little, carry us back into the earthly life.

Such is actually the aspect of things which the human being beholds on his descent from cosmic worlds to earthly existence: that, after an experience of divine-spiritual Hierarchies, he proceeds to images of them. But these images of Beings gradually become star-images, and the human being enters into something which, I might say, he first sees from behind: he enters that which is manifest from the earth as the cosmos. The details of what the human being there consummates can be discerned, and the modern science of initiation can penetrate quite deeply into what man there experiences.

Just through details in this domain do we begin to become acquainted with life. For no one knows life who is able to see the human being in connection with earthly existence alone. What great value does our connection with the earthly existence have for us then? During the enormously long stretches of time between death and a new birth the earth, at first, really means nothing to us, and that which gleams towards us, as the external, so to speak, is transmuted into entire worlds of Gods, in which we live during these long stretches of time and which appear externally to us again as stars only when we are nearing the earth for another earthly existence.

What the human being at first wove, as the spirit-germ of his physical body, he knows, for the time being, to be one with the whole universe, with the spiritual universe. Later, when he sees only the manifestation of the divine-spiritual worlds, this germ gradually becomes his body, which is now also a facsimile of the cosmos. And out of this — his body — arises the eager desire for an earthly existence, for an ego consciousness in his body.

This body now still contains much which is untouched by the earthly existence, for it is a spirit body. As regards this body, the fact still remains entirely undetermined at a certain stage whether, for instance, the human being will be a male or a female personality in his next earthly existence. For, during this whole time between death and a new birth, up to a very late stage, before we are born upon the earth, there is no meaning in the question of man or woman. The conditions there differ entirely from those that are reflected on earth as man and woman. There are also conditions which occur in the spiritual existence and are reflected on the earth; but that which appears on earth as man and woman acquires significance only relatively late, prior to our descent to earth. When the human being, according to certain former karmic connections, thinks it best to experience his next incarnation on earth as a woman, we can trace in detail how, on his descent to the earth in order to unite with the physical embryo, he chooses that time which is known here on earth as the time of full moon.

We can say, therefore, when we are looking from any region here on earth at the full moon, that we then have the time which the beings choose for their descent to the earth who desire to become women, for then only is this decision made. And the time of new moon is the time which beings choose who wish to become men.

Thus, you see, the human being enters his earthly existence through the portal of the moon. But the force which the male requires in order to enter life on earth is then flowing out into the cosmos; we move toward it as we come in from the cosmos, and this force is radiated by the moon when it is known as new moon for the earth. The force which the female requires is radiated from the moon when it is the full moon; then its illuminated side is turned toward the earth, and its unilluminated side is toward the cosmos — and this force, which the moon can send out into the cosmos from its unilluminated side, the human being requires if he wishes to become a woman.

What I have now been describing to you shows that the ancient concept of astrology, which nowadays has been brought to a complete decadence by the ordinary astrologers, was well grounded. Only, we must be able to achieve an inner view of the connection of things. We must not look merely at the physical constellation in a calculating manner, but must see into the corresponding spiritual element. There it is really possible to enter into details.

As you know, the human being descends from the cosmos in a definite state. From the spiritual cosmos he enters the etheric cosmos. Now I am still speaking of the etheric cosmos alone; the physical aspect of the stars is, in this connections, taken less into consideration, as is, likewise, the physical aspect of the moon. The essential moment when the human being decides to descend to the earth depends, as I have stated, upon the phase of the moon during this descent, and thus it may happen that he exposes himself to a decisive new moon in order to become a man, or to a decisive full moon to become a woman. But then — since the descent is not made so very rapidly, but he remains exposed for some time — if he is descending through the new moon as a man, he may still, for one reason or another, decide to expose himself to the coming full moon. Thus he has made the decision to descend as a male; he has made use to this end of the forces of the new moon; but, during his descent, he still has at his disposal the remainder of the moon's cycle, the phase of the full moon. He then fills himself with lunar forces in such a way that they do not affect his condition as man or woman, but rather the organization of his head, and what is connected with the organization of his head from without, from the cosmos, if that constellation occurs of which I have just spoken. Thus, after the human being has made the decision; “I shall become a man through the time of the new moon”, and continues living in the cosmos, so that he has not passed completely through the lunar influence but is still exposed to the next full moon, then, through the influence of the lunar forces in this condition he will, for instance, have brown eyes and black hair. Thus we may say that the manner in which the human being passes the moon determines not only his sex, but also the color of his eyes and hair. If, for instance, the human being has passed the full moon as a woman and is later exposed to a new moon, the result may be a woman with blue eyes and blond hair.

Grotesque as this may seem, we are absolutely predestined by the manner of our experience through the cosmos, as to the way in which our soul-spirit organism works its way into our physical and our etheric organism. Prior to this time there has been no decision made as to our becoming a blond or a brunette; this is determined only by the lunar forces as we pass them, on our descent from the cosmos into earthly existence.

And just as we pass by the moon, which really guides us into earthly existence, so do we pass by the other planets. It is not immaterial, for example, whether we pass Saturn in one or another way. We may pass by Saturn, for instance, when the constellation is such that the force of Saturn and the force of Leo in the Zodiac co-operate. Because of our passing the region of Saturn just as its force is being increased through Leo in the Zodiac, our soul will — conditioned, of course, by our preceding karma — acquire the strength to meet intelligently the outer contingencies of life so that they do not defeat us over and over again. If, however, Saturn is being dominated more by Capricorn, we shall become weak human beings that do succumb to the outer contingencies of life.

All these experiences we bear within us as we prepare from the cosmos our earthly existence. Of course, we can overcome this through an appropriate training, but not by voicing the opinion of the materialists that all this is nonsense, that we need not pay any attention to it at all. On the contrary, it can be overcome by the fact that we develop these forces, really develop them. And in the future mankind will learn again, not only to insure that a child shall have good milk to drink and good food to eat — although no objection is to be made to this — but mankind will learn again to observe whether this or that person has within him forces of Saturn or Jupiter active under this or that influence.

Let us suppose that we find that a human being has within him, through his karma, forces of Saturn under the most unfavorable influence — of Capricorn or of Aquarius, for instance — so that he is exposed to all life's difficulties. Then, in order to strengthen him we shall search most carefully for other forces within him. For instance, we shall ask ourselves whether he has experienced the passage through the sphere of Jupiter, of Mars, or through any other sphere. And we shall always be able to correct and annul one condition by means of the other.

We shall simply have to learn to think of the human being not only in relation to what he begins to eat and drink in the earthly existence, but we shall have to consider him in relation to what he becomes, because of his having passed through the cosmic worlds between death and a new birth.

When the human being is close to his earthly course of life, then he experiences a sort of loss of his being. You know from my description that he was connected with what he has woven as the spirit-germ of his physical body. Into this spirit-germ he has woven, besides, the experiences during the descent through fixed stars and planets. At a definite stage, actually quite close to conception and birth, this spirit-germ is no longer there. It has, in the meanwhile, descended with its forces as a system of forces to the earth. It has fallen from the human being. It has united itself on the earth independently with the physical substance of heredity which the ancestors, father and mother, afford. What is being woven there in the organism descends to the earth sooner than the human being himself as a spirit-soul being. And then, when the human being realizes that he has actually surrendered to the parents that which he himself had woven in the cosmos, he is able, in the last stage prior to his earthly existence, to take to himself from the etheric world what is essential for his own etheric organism — since there is no longer a necessity to do any more weaving on his physical body, which is essentially complete and has been surrendered to and been made a part of the flow of heredity. Now he draws together his etheric organism; and, together with this latter, he unites with that which he himself has prepared through his parents. He takes possession of his physical body, in which all this cosmic fabric of the spirit-germ is drawn together, and which is interwoven with what the human being himself united with it as he descended through this or that stellar region. It is, indeed, not arbitrarily that he passes through new moon or full moon and causes himself to become man or woman, or to have black or blond hair or blue or brown eyes, but all this is intimately connected with the results of his preceding karma.

This shows you that, whereas the human being in the sleep state experiences as his inner nature merely facsimiles of the planetary world, the world of the fixed stars, he now passes through these worlds in their reality between death and a new birth. He passes through these worlds; they become his inner nature. And it is always the lunar forces which bring us back to the earth. They differ essentially from all other stellar forces in this respect, in that they bring us back to the earth. In the sleep state they bring us back to the earth; they bring us back also after we have experienced all that I have briefly described, in order to enter once more a life course on the earth.

But let us consider once again that which is there outside of the physical body, in the form of astral body and ego organization, between falling asleep and awakening. It is not fabricated from physical bones and physical blood; it is a spirit-soul entity. But our whole moral intrinsic quality is woven into it. Just as we consist, when awake, of bones, blood, and nerves, so does that which leaves us during sleep and returns on awakening consist of the actualized judgments of our moral deeds. If I have accomplished a good deed during the day, its effect is reflected in my sleep body within the spirit-soul substance that leaves me during sleep. My moral quality lives within this. And, when the human being passes through the Portal of Death, he takes with him his whole actualized moral evaluation. It is a fact that, between birth and death in the earthly life, the human being creates within himself a second being. This second human being, who leaves the body every night, is the result of our moral or immoral life, and we take it with us through the Portal of Death. This result, which is merged with our eternal essential being, is not the only element we possess within the spirit-soul substance which passes out of us during the night. Just after death, however, when we are first in the ether body and then in the astral body, we hardly see anything in ourselves but this moral entity of our being. Whether we were good or bad, this is what we behold; we are this. Just as here on earth we are a, human being in whom the skin forces, or the nerve forces, or the blood forces, or the bone forces predominate, so, after death, we are, to our own perception, what we were, morally or immorally.

And now after death we proceed on our way, first through the sphere of the moon, then through the sphere of the fixed stars... until the time arrives when we can begin to work with the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies on the spirit-germ of our future physical body. But, if we were to take this moral element up into the highest worlds, where we are to weave our future physical organism in its spirit-germ, this physical organism would turn out to be a monstrosity. For a certain length of time between death and a new birth, the human being must be separated from what constitutes his moral quality. Indeed, he leaves his moral quality behind in the moon sphere.

It is an actual fact that, when leaving the moon sphere, we leave our moral and immoral human being in the moon sphere and enter into the pure sphere of the Gods, where we can weave our physical body.

I must now revert again to the difference between the times prior to the Mystery of Golgotha and those following it, including the present. The older initiates made very clear to their pupils — and through them to all mankind of the civilization of that time — that, in order to be able to find the transition from the world which I called in my book Theosophy the soul-world, and which we really experience in its entirety while still in the moon sphere, into the world which I called the spirit-land, the human being must develop on earth the feelings that enable him to be led upward by the spiritual Sun Being, after having left behind the whole bundle of his moral after-effects in the moon sphere.

All that history relates to us in regard to the first three Christian centuries, and even the fourth century, is fundamentally a falsification; for in those centuries Christianity was quite different from the thing described. It was something quite different for the reason that within it there held sway the conception which came from understanding the ancient science of initiation. From this wisdom of initiation it was known that, in the life after death, the sublime Sun Being led the human being out of the moon sphere, after he had left behind his moral bundle, and, on his return, led him back again into the moon sphere. This gave the human being the strength — which he could not have had through himself — to make this moral being a part of himself, at a certain time before his birth, in order to fulfill his destiny on earth within his soul, and to prevent it from entering his body. For otherwise, the human being would be born a monstrosity and be utterly diseased in his body. This moral bundle had to be taken over again in the moon sphere, during the descent, in order that it should not enter into the body.

Those initiates who were living at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, and even in the three or four centuries following thereafter, said to their pupils: Previously the sublime Sun Being was only above in the spiritual worlds. But, as mankind progressed, the ego consciousness has become so bright upon the earth that it becomes all the more obscured in the spiritual world. In other words, the brighter our ego consciousness is by means of the physical body only, here below on the earth, the darker is it above. The human being would no longer come into contact with the Sun Being, he would not find through his own power the transition after death from the moon sphere to the higher spheres, had the Christ not descended and passed through the Mystery of Golgotha. The Being whom the human being met formerly after death only in the spiritual world has now descended; He has lived here upon earth ever since the Mystery of Golgotha; and now the human being can establish a relation to Him according to the words of St. Paul: “Not I, but the Christ in me”. In this way the human being takes strength from the earth with him, strength given to him by the Christ here on this earth, which enables him to leave behind in the moon sphere his moral being which he creates within himself and to proceed to higher spheres, there to work on the spirit-germ of his physical body. It also gives him the strength on his descent through the moon sphere to take up his karma again of his own free will, take up the after-effects of his good and evil deeds. In the course of historical evolution, we have become free human beings. But the reason we have become such is that the Christ force we have acquired has enabled us through free inner strength to take over our karma on our descent through the moon sphere. No matter whether we like this or do not like it here on earth, we do this at the stage I have described, if we have become true Christians on earth.

I have been endeavoring, my dear friends, to show you a little of the way in which the modern science of initiation can see into worlds which we might call the concealed aspects of human existence, to show you how really everything pertaining to the human being can be elucidated only as we are able to see into these concealed aspects. And at the same time I tried to show you in connection therewith what the Christ Impulse means to mankind of the present time; for we will have constantly to revert to it. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, we cannot be a whole human being, unless we find the way to this Christ Impulse. Therefore it is necessary that Anthroposophical spiritual science shed light more and more upon the Christ Impulse in the right way. For the manner in which light was shed on the Christ Impulse in the past, when man's consciousness was obscured, would, if continued, deprive a large part of mankind — just think of the Orientals, think of the inhabitants of other continents — of the possibility of embracing Christianity. But that Christianity which is rooted deeply in Anthroposophical spiritual science will actually — if once the essence of spiritual science, as it is here intended, is understood thoroughly — be eagerly grasped particularly by the Orientals, who are endowed with an ancient spirituality, even though it is in decadence.

In this way only can that peace prevail on earth which must proceed from the soul and spirit of men, and which is so indispensable to the earth, as every impartial person feels today. We shall have to be much more convinced of the fact that all present-day thinking concerning outer institutions is really worthless, and that it is very necessary on the other hand, to appeal directly to human souls. But we can appeal to the souls only if we are able to say something to them about the true home of the soul, about the experiences of the human being that lie beyond his physical existence, in those states of consciousness I have been describing to you today. Even if those states of consciousness do not exist during the earth life, their effects do exist. Oh, my dear friends, the one who has insight into life sees in the countenance of every human being a reflection of cosmic destinies which the individual has experienced between death and a new birth!

I have described to you today how destiny — whether one has become a man or a woman — can be understood by means of the cosmos, even how the color of the eyes and hair can be understood only when we can look into cosmic existence. Nothing in this world is comprehensible unless it can be understood by means of the cosmos. The human being will feel himself to be truly a human being only when we can inform him through true spiritual knowledge of his relation with that which is back of the sensuous-physical existence. Even though the human beings on earth are not yet aware of it, mankind unconsciously thirsts for such a knowledge. What is developing convulsively today in all domains, be it the domain of the spiritual, the externally juridical, or the economic life, all is ultimately a result of the spiritual. Only as the human being learns again to know of his relation with extra-physical existence, can all this be transformed from forces of decadence into upward moving forces. For physical existence is meaningless unless seen in connection with super-physical existence. The physical human body becomes significant only then when we can see it, so to speak, as the confluence of all those sovereign forces that are woven between death and a new birth. This is the tragic character of materialistic knowledge of the world that, in the final analysis, it does not know matter itself. We lay the human body upon the dissecting table; we examine it most carefully as to its tissues and its individual physical component parts. This is done in order to acquire a knowledge of matter. But we do not learn to know it in this way, for it is the product of spirit, and only as we are able to trace it back to those stages where it is woven out of spirit do we know it. Human beings will comprehend precisely this physical-material existence only when their souls are led cosmically into the realm of soul and spirit.

If we permeate ourselves with the consciousness that we should comprehend more and more our connection with the spirit-soul realm of the cosmos, we then become true Anthroposophists. And you, my dear friends, will surely not ridicule me when I say that the world is in need today of true Anthroposophists who will bring about an ascent for humanity through that consciousness which results from experiencing the spiritual, even though at first we should only grasp it as a reflection and not ourselves have attained to clairvoyant knowledge. We need not be clairvoyant in order to work beneficently after we possess spiritual knowledge. Just as little as a person needs to know what constitutes meat when he is eating it and it nourishes him, just as little does a person need to be clairvoyant in order to be efficacious through his work and through his whole association with the life of the higher worlds. If we accept spiritual science before we are clairvoyant, it is as though we were consuming it. Fundamentally, clairvoyance adds nothing to what we can become for the world through spiritual knowledge. It satisfies merely our knowledge. This knowledge must, indeed, exist. Of course, there have to be people who examine the composition of meat, but this knowledge is not required in order to eat. Likewise there must be clairvoyant persons today who can investigate the nature of man's connection with the spiritual world; but, in order to bring about that which is essential to mankind, it is necessary that we be healthy human souls. If they are informed of the science of the spirit, they will sense the digestive power of the soul nature; they will appropriate this spiritual science, digest it, and assimilate it into their work. And this is what we need today throughout the civilized world: external human work which is spiritualized through and through in the right and true sense.




Last Modified: 07-Jan-2019
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