LOVE, INTUITION AND THE HUMAN
2nd February, 1924
described how man must be regarded
as composed of physical, etheric and astral bodies, and how we can acquire
a deeper insight into this composition by exercising our cognitive powers
— powers of mind, heart and will — in a certain way. This
composition that we discern in man is also found in the external world.
Only, we must be clear that there is a consider-able difference between
what we find in the world outside and what we find in man.
to begin with, we study the physical world — and we can really only
study its solid, ‘earthy’ manifestations — we come to
distinguish various substances. I need not go into details. You know, of
course, that the anatomist, investigating what remains of the living man
after he has passed through the gate of death — the corpse —
need not take account of any but earthly substances which he also finds
outside man. At least, he believes he need not, and within certain limits
his belief is justified. He investigates the elements or the salts, acids
and other compounds found outside of man, and he investigates what the
human organism contains. He does not find it necessary to enlarge his
physical and chemical knowledge.
the difference only becomes apparent when we study these things on a
somewhat bigger scale, and notice what I have emphasised so strongly,
namely: that the human organism as a whole cannot be maintained by external
Nature, but is subject to destruction. Thus we can say that, in the
solid, earthy, physical realm, we do not find, to begin with. very much
difference between what is outside and what is inside man. We must
recognise a greater difference however, in what is etheric.
(grün — green; rot — red)
Click image for large view
I have drawn
your attention to the way the etheric really looks down on us from the
world beyond the earth. I pointed out that, from out of the etheric,
everything, whether it be a large or small drop, is made spherical,
and that this tendency to spherical formation, due to the complex of
etheric forces, extends to the etheric body of man. We have really to
fight continually to overcome this tendency in our etheric body. — Of
course, all this takes place in the subconscious. In its present form
the human etheric body is closely moulded to the physical body. It has
not such sharp boundaries and is mobile in itself; nevertheless we can
distinguish a head part, a trunk part and, indistinctly, limb parts
where the etheric body becomes diffuse. Thus, when we move an arm the
etheric body, which otherwise conforms to the human shape, only protrudes
a little beyond the arm, whereas below it is widely extended. But it
has from the cosmos the tendency to take on spherical form. The higher
being of man — the astral man and the ego — must oppose this
tendency and mould the spherical form to the human shape. So we may
say: man, as an etheric being, lives in the general etheric world by
building up his own form out of the etheric, whereas the formative tendency
of the surrounding etheric is to give spherical form to what is fluid.
In man what is fluid takes on human form, and this is due to his inner
forces opposing the external, cosmic forces.
opposition is still stronger in the astral man. As I indicated yesterday,
the astral comes streaming in from the indefinite, so to speak. In the
earthly realm outside man it streams in (arrows in green circle) in
such a way that it develops the plant form out of the earth; and the
plant form clearly shows this response to the astral. The plant has
only an etheric body, but it is, indeed, the astral forces which draw
the plant out of the earth. Now the human astral body is extraordinarily
complicated and one really perceives it in the way I described yesterday,
i.e. as an inner musical element, a whirling, weaving life, an inner
activity and all one might describe as music inwardly sensed. But
everything else that is astral is discovered streaming in centripetally;
it is transformed into the human astral form, whereby complicated things
say, for example, that something astral is streaming in from this side.
The human being moulds it to the most varied forms in order to make
it serviceable and incorporate it. One might say, the human being wins
his astral body by subduing the centripetal astral forces.
when we turn our psycho-spiritually sharpened gaze to the cosmos, we
do gain the conception of the etheric as described, but we also receive
the impression that it is due to the etheric that we strive away from
the earth. While we are held to the earth by gravity, we tend away from
the earth because of the etheric. It is really the etheric that is active
in this centrifugal tendency. In this connection you need only think
of the following: The human brain weighs approximately 1,500 grammes.
Now a mass with this weight, pressing on the delicate blood vessels
at the base of the brain, would quite compress them. If our brain actually
exerted its 1,500 grammes weight in the living man we could not have
these blood-vessels. In the living man, however, the brain weighs twenty
grammes at most. It is so much lighter because it floats in the cerebral
fluid and loses in weight by the weight of fluid displaced. The brain
really strives away from man; and in this tendency the etheric is active.
Thus we may say that it is just in the brain that we can see most clearly
how matters stand.
is the brain floating in its fluid, whereby its weight is reduced from
1,500 to about twenty grammes. This means that its activity shares,
to a remarkably small degree, in our physical, bodily life. Here the
etheric finds tremendous scope for acting upwards. The weight acts
downwards but is reduced. In the cerebral fluid there is principally
developed the sum of etheric forces that lifts us away from the earth.
Indeed, if we had to carry our physical body with all its forces of weight,
we would have a sack to drag about. Every blood corpuscle, however,
swims and is reduced in weight.
loss of weight in a fluid is an old piece of knowledge. You know, of
course, that it has been ascribed to Archimedes. He was bathing one
day and noticed, on lifting his leg out of the water, how much heavier
it was than when in the water, and exclaimed: Eureka! I have found
it. He had discovered that every body in a fluid loses in weight the
weight of the fluid displaced. Thus, if you think of Archimedes in his
bath, here his physical leg and here the same leg formed of water, then
the physical leg is lighter in water by the amount that this water-leg
weighs. It is lighter by just this amount. Likewise the weight of our
brain in the cerebral fluid is reduced by the weight of a mass of cerebral
fluid of the size of the physical brain. That is, it is reduced from
1,500 to 20 grammes. In physics this is called ‘upthrust’,
and here the etheric acts. The astral, on the other hand, is stimulated
— to begin with — by breathing, whereby the airy element
enters the human organism and eventually reaches the head in an extremely
attenuated state; in this distribution and organisation of the air the
astral is active.
we can really see in the solid earthy substance the physical; in the
fluid, especially in the way it works in man, the etheric; in the airy,
the tragedy of materialism that it knows nothing of matter — how
matter actually works in the several domains of life. The remarkable
thing about materialism is just its ignorance of matter. It knows nothing
at all about the way matter works, for one does not learn this until
one is able to attend to the spiritual that is active in matter and
is represented by the forces.
when one progresses through meditation to the ‘imaginative’
knowledge of which I have already spoken, one finds the etheric at work
in all the aqueous processes of the earth. In the face of real knowledge
it is childish to believe that all that is at work here — in the
sea, in the rivers, rising mists, falling drops and cloud formations
— contains only what the physicist and chemist know about water.
For in all that is out there in the mighty drop of the
‘water-earth’, in what constantly rises in the form of
vapour, forms clouds and descends as mist, in all
the other aqueous processes — water plays, indeed, an enormous
part in shaping the face of the globe — in all this etheric currents
are working. Here is weaving the ether revealed to one in
‘pictures’ when one has strengthened one's thinking in the
way I have described. Everywhere behind this weaving water the cosmic
‘imagination’ is weaving, and the astral ‘music of the
spheres’ plays everywhere into this cosmic
imagination, coming — in a sense — from behind.
however, all these conditions are found to be quite different from what
they are outside him. If one looks, with vision sharpened in the way
I have indicated, at what is outside man, one finds the world built
up in the following way: To begin with, there is the physical, in direct
contact with the earth; the etheric, which fills the whole cosmos; then
the astral, which streams in as living beings. indeed, it is no merely
general, abstract, astral weaving that we behold, but actual beings
entering space, beings of a psycho-spiritual nature just as man, in
his body, is also a psycho-spiritual being. This is what one beholds.
now look back to man, we find in him, too, an etheric body corresponding
to the external etheric. But this etheric body is not perceived in such
a way that you can say: there is the physical man, and here is his etheric
body. Certainly, you can draw it so, but that would only be an arrested
section. You never see merely the present etheric body; this section
which you can draw is seen to be continuous with what has gone before.
You always see the whole etheric body extending back to birth. Past
and present form a whole. If you have a twenty-year-old person before
you, you cannot see merely his twenty-year-old etheric body; you see
all that has happened in his etheric body back to birth and a little
beyond. Here time really becomes space. It is just as when you look
down an avenue and see the trees drawing closer and closer together
on account of perspective; you see the whole avenue in space.
Likewise you look at the etheric body as it is at present but see its
whole structure, which is a ‘time-structure’. The etheric
body is a ‘time-organism’, the physical body a
‘space-organism’. The physical
body is, of course, self-contained at any given moment; the etheric
body is always there as a totality which comprises our life up to the
given moment. This is a unity. Hence you could only draw or paint the
etheric body if you could paint moving pictures; but you would have
to be quicker than the pictures. The momentary configuration that you
draw or paint is only a section and is related to the whole etheric
body as the section of a tree-stem to the whole tree. When you draw
a diagram of the etheric body, it is only a section, for the whole etheric
body is a ‘time-process’. Indeed, on surveying this
is led beyond birth, even beyond conception, to the point where one
sees the human being descend from his pre-earthly life to his present
life on earth, and, just before he was conceived by his parents, draw
together etheric substance from the general cosmic ether to build his
you cannot speak of the etheric body without surveying man's life in
time back to birth and beyond. What one regards as the etheric body
at some definite moment is only an abstraction; the concrete reality
is the time-process.
different again with the astral body. This is apprehended in the way
I described yesterday. I can only draw it diagramatically, and in the
diagram space must become time for you. Let us assume we are observing
the astral body of a person on the 2nd February 1924. Let this be the
[ 1 ]
He does indeed make this impression
upon us: Here is the physical body, here his etheric body. We can also
observe his astral body and this makes upon us the impression I described
in my book
It is so. But when one comes to the really
‘inspired’ knowledge which appears before empty consciousness
— I described such knowledge yesterday — one attains the
following insight. One says to oneself: What I am observing as the astral
body of this person is not really present today, i.e. on the 2nd February
1924. If the person is twenty years of age, you must go backwards in
time — let us say, to January 1904. You perceive that this astral
body is really back there, and extends still further back into the
unlimited. It has remained there and has not accompanied him through life.
Here we have only a kind of appearance — a beam. It is like looking
down an avenue; there, in the distance, are the last trees, very close
together. Behind them is a source of light. You can have the radiance
of the light here, but the source is behind — it need
not move forward that its light may shine here.
the astral body has remained behind, and only throws its beam into life.
It has really remained in the spiritual world and has not come with
us into the physical. In respect to our astral body we always remain
before conception and birth, in the spiritual world. If we are twenty
years old in 1924, it is as if we were still living spiritually before
the year 1904 and, in respect to our astral body, had only stretched
forth a feeler.
you will say, is a difficult conception. Well, so it is. But you know
there was once a Spanish king who was shown how complicated the structure
of the universe is. He thought he would have made it simpler. A man
may think like this, but, as a matter of fact, the world is not simple,
and we must exert ourselves somewhat to grasp what man is.
intently at the astral body is to look directly into the spiritual world.
(Only in the world external to man have you around you what is astral.)
When you look at human beings spiritually, you look into the spiritual
world in respect to their astral bodies. You perceive directly what
a man has undergone in the spiritual world before he descended to
you will say, my astral body is active within me. Of course it is; that
is self-understood. But imagine some being or other were here, and by
means of cords mechanically connected, were to produce some effect at
a considerable distance away. It is like that with respect to time.
Your astral body has remained behind, but its activities extend through
the whole of your life. Thus the activity that you notice in your astral
body today has its origin in a time long past, when you were in the
spiritual world before descending to earth. That time is still active
— in other words, it is still there, as far as the spiritual is
concerned. Anyone who believes that the past is no longer
‘present’ in the real time-process resembles a man in
a railway train to whom one might say: That was a beautiful district
through which we have just passed, and who would reply: Yes,
a beautiful district. But it has vanished;
it is no longer there. Such a man would believe that the district through
which he had passed in an express train had disappeared. It is just
as stupid to believe that the past is no longer there. As a matter of
fact it is always there, working into man. The 3rd of January 1904,
is still there in its spiritual constitution, just as what is spatial
remains after you have travelled through it. It is there, influencing
if you describe the astral body as I have done in my
you must realise, in order to complete your insight, that what is active
here is the ‘radiance’ of something far back in time. The
human being is really like a comet stretching its tail far back into the
past. It is not possible to obtain true insight into man's being unless
we acquire these new concepts.
People who believe
one can enter the spiritual world with the same concepts one has for
the physical world should become spiritualists, not anthroposophists.
Spiritualists endeavour to conjure the spiritual — only somewhat
thinner than ordinary matter — into the ordinary space in which
physical men walk about. But it is nothing spiritual — only fine
exudations. Even the phantoms described by Schrenck-Notzing are only
fine, physical exudations which retain in their shape traces of the
etheric. They are mere phantoms, not something really spiritual.
study the world and man in the way I have described you will realise
the presence of the higher worlds in external Nature. In the case of
man, a study of the successive worlds will lead you at once to the
‘time-process’ within him. In his case, however, you can
go further still and reach a domain which our philistine materialistic
age will not recognise as accessible to knowledge.
referred to perception, by the senses, of the coarse, tangible physical
objects around us as the first stage of cognition.
stage was that of ‘strengthened thinking’ in which we
apprehend the living, moving images of the world. The third kind of
cognition was ‘inspiration’ in which we perceive the beings
that express themselves through these images — hear a kind of music
of the spheres that sounds from beyond. In the case of man we are led,
not merely out of the material world, but out of the present into his
pre-earthly life — into his existence as a psycho-spiritual being
before descending to earth. This ‘inspired’ knowledge is
attained by emptying our consciousness after strengthened thinking.
stage in cognition is attained by making the power of love a cognitive
force. Only, it must not be the shallow love of which alone, as a rule,
our materialistic age speaks. It must he the love by which you can identify
yourself with another being — a being with whom, in the physical
world, you are not identical. You must really be able to feel what is
passing in the other being just as you feel what is passing in yourself;
you must be able to go out of yourself and live again in another. In
ordinary human life such love does not attain the intensity necessary
to make it a cognitive force. One must first have attained ‘empty
consciousness’, and have had some experience with it. And then we
undergo what many who are striving for higher knowledge do not seek: we
suffer what may be called the pain of knowledge.
have a wound somewhere, it hurts you. Why? Because, owing to the wound,
your spiritual being cannot permeate your physical body properly at
the place concerned. All pain comes from not being able, from one cause
or another, to permeate the physical body. And when something external
hurts you, this is also because you are unable to ‘unite’
yourself with it — to accept it. Now, when one has attained the
empty consciousness into which there flows an altogether different world
from that to which one is accustomed, then, for such moments of inspired
cognition, one is without one's whole physical man; this is then one
large wound and hurts all over. One must first undergo this experience;
one must endure
the leaving of the physical body as actual pain and suffering in order
to attain inspired knowledge. Of course, an understanding of such knowledge
can be acquired without pain, and people should acquire this understanding
apart from suffering the pain of initiation. But to acquire an immediate,
spiritual perception — not a mere understanding — of what
works into man from his life before birth, that is, of what he leaves
behind in the spiritual world, one must cross the abyss of universal
suffering and pain.
then experience the above identification with, and coming to life in,
another being. Only then do we learn the highest degree of love which
consists not in ‘forgetting oneself’ in a theoretical sense,
but in being able to ignore oneself completely and enter into what is not
oneself. And only when this love goes hand in hand with that higher
— inspired — cognition are we really able to enter the
spiritual with all
the warmth of our nature, with all our inwardness of heart and mind;
that is, with our soul forces. We must do this if we are to progress
in knowledge. Love must become a cognitive force in this sense. When
such love has attained a certain height and intensity, you pass through
your pre-earthly life to your last life on earth; you slip over, through
all you have undergone between your last death and your present life,
into your former life on earth — into what we call previous
it was, of course, also in a physical body that you then trod the earth.
But nothing remains of all that made up that physical body; it has been
absorbed into the elements. Your innermost being of that time has become
entirely spiritual and lives in you as spirit alone.
our ego, in passing through the gate of death and the spiritual world
to a new life on earth, becomes wholly spiritual. It cannot be grasped
with the ordinary powers of every-day consciousness; we must intensify
the power of love in the way I have described. The man we were in a
previous life is just as much outside us as another human being of today.
Our ego has the same degree of externality. Of course, we then come
to possess it — to experience it as ourself — but we must
first learn to love without any trace of egotism. It would be a terrible
thing indeed, if we were to become enamoured — in the ordinary
sense — of our former incarnation. Love, in the highest sense,
must be intensified so that we may be able to experience our former
incarnation as something quite other than ourself. Then, when our cognitive
power emerges through the empty consciousness, we acquire knowledge
through love intensified in the highest degree, and reach the fourth
member of man — the ego proper.
Man has his
physical body through which he lives at each moment in the present
physical earth. He has his etheric body through which he lives continually
in a time-process extending back to a little before his birth, when
he drew together this etheric body out of the general cosmic ether.
He has his astral body through which his life extends over the whole
period between his last death and his last descent to earth. And he
has his ego through which he reaches back into his previous life on
earth. Thus, when we speak of the various members of man's being we
must speak, in each case, of his extension in time. We bear our former
ego-consciousness within us today, but unconsciously. How? If you want
to study how you must realise that man, here in the physical world,
is not only a solid body, a fluid man and an airy man, but an organism
of warmth as well. This is also the way to approach the ego. Everyone
knows this, at least in a very partial way. If we measure a person's
temperature we get different degrees of fever in different parts of
the body. But there are different temperatures throughout man's whole
organism. You have one temperature in your head, another in your big
toe, another inside your liver, another within your lung. You are not
only what you find drawn in definite outlines in an anatomical atlas.
You have a fluid organism in constant motion. You have an organism of
air which permeates you continually, like a mighty, symphonic organism
of music. And, in addition, you have a surging organism of warmth,
differentiated with respect to temperature. In this you yourself live.
Indeed, you feel that this is so. After all, you are not very conscious
of living in your shin-bone, or in any other bone, or in your liver, or
in your vascular fluids. But you are very conscious of living in your
warmth, though you do not distinguish between your
‘warmth-liver’, etc. Nevertheless this differentiation
is there, and if the temperature differences proper to the human
warmth-organism are absent or disturbed, we feel this as illness,
When, with developed
consciousness, we attain the picture stage —
‘imagination’ — we
perceive the etheric as weaving pictures. When we perceive the astral,
we hear the music of the spheres which sounds towards us or, we might
say, from out of ourselves. (For our own astral body leads us back to
our pre-earthly life.) And when we advance farther to the form of cognition
that attains the highest degree of love — when the power of love
becomes a cognitive force — when, to begin with, we see our own
existence flowing from a former life on earth into this present life,
we feel this former life in the normal differentiation of the
in which we are living. This is real intuition. We live in this. And
when some impulse arises in us to do this or that, it does not only
work, as in the astral body, out of the spiritual world, but from still
farther back — from our former life on earth. Our former life on
earth works into the warmth of our organism, and kindles this or that
impulse. Thus we see in the earthly, solid man the physical body, in
the fluid man the etheric body, in the airy man the astral body, and
in the warmth element the ego proper. (The ego of the present incarnation
is never complete; it is always developing.) It is the ego of the former
life on earth, working in subconscious depths, that is the ego proper.
And when you perceive a man clairvoyantly you are led to say: lie is
standing here and I see him, to begin with, with my external senses.
But I also see what is etheric and what is astral; then, behind him,
the man he was in his previous incarnation.
the more this consciousness is developed, the more clearly do we see,
in a kind of perspective, the head of his last incarnation a little
above the head of his present incarnation, and, some-what higher still,
the head of his second last incarnation. In civilisations in which there
was still a kind of instinctive consciousness of these things, you will
find pictures which show, behind the clearly drawn countenance of the
present incarnation, a second countenance less clearly painted; behind
this a third that is still less clear. There are Egyptian pictures like
this. You understand such pictures if you are able to perceive, behind
the present man, the man he was in his last and second last incarnations.
Not until one can extend man's life in time to include previous
incarnations can one really speak of the ego as the fourth member of
acts in the ‘man of warmth’. ‘Inspiration’
approaches you from without or from within, you yourself are within
the warmth; here is ‘intuition’, true intuition. We
experience warmth within us quite differently from anything else.
if you look at it in this way, you will get beyond what should be a
great riddle to the man of today, if he gives attention to his soul
in a really unprejudiced way. I have spoken of this riddle. I said,
we feel ourselves morally determined by certain impulses given us in
a purely spiritual way. We want to carry them out. But we cannot, to
begin with, understand how that to which we feel ourselves morally bound
shoots into our muscles. If, however, we know that we bear within us,
from our last incarnation, our ego which has become entirely spiritual
and now acts upon our warmth-man, we have the required connection. Our
moral impulses act indirectly, through the ego of our last incarnation.
Here the connection between the moral and the physical is first found.
It cannot be found by merely studying the present world of Nature and
man as a section of it.
if you study the present world of Nature, you may say: Well, there outside
is Nature; man takes in its substances and builds up his organism —
one does actually picture it in this naive way. Thus man is a portion of
Nature, being compounded of certain of its substances. Good! But you
suddenly realise that there are moral impulses and you should act in
accordance with them! How, I would ask, can a portion of Nature do
that? A stone cannot do it, nor can calcium, or chlorine, or oxygen,
or nitrogen. But man, who is compounded of these, is supposed to be
able to do so! He experiences a moral impulse and is expected to act
in accordance with it, although he is compounded of all these substance
which cannot do so.
all that is thus welded together in man there arises — especially
indirectly through sleep — something that passes through death,
becomes more and more spiritual, and enters a body again. It is, of
course, already in the present body, for it comes from the last
incarnation. It became spiritual and now works into the present
is compounded of earthly substances will work into the warmth-man of
the next incarnation. Here the moral element flows from one earth life
into another; here we can grasp the transition from physical to spiritual
Nature and from spiritual to physical Nature again. We cannot understand
this transition with one life alone, if we are honest with ourselves
and do not close our eyes to the whole psycho-spiritual problem.
we can regard as the earthly elements — the solid, liquid, gaseous
and warmth elements — is permeated everywhere by what can be
designated as the etheric, the astral and the ‘ego-like’,
i.e. what is of like nature with the ego. In this way we see the
connection between man's members and the universe, and gain an idea of
the extent to which man is a ‘portion’ of time, not only of
space. He is only a portion, or section, of space in regard to his
physical, bodily nature. For spiritual perception the past is continually
present; the present moment is, at the same time, a real eternity.
I am explaining to you was once the content of instinctive forms of
consciousness. If we really understand ancient records we find a
consciousness of this fourfold composition of man and his connection
with the cosmos. But this knowledge has been lost to man for many
centuries; otherwise he could not have developed the intellect he has
today. But we have now reached the point in human evolution when we must
again advance from the physical to the really spiritual.
A sketch — not reproduced — was made.