[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib



Highlight Words

The Elementary Kingdoms

The Nature of the Elementary Beings, Their Activities, and Influence

Schmidt Number: S-1633

The Elementary Kingdoms

Rudolf Steiner Archive Document

Lectures Section

The following lecture was given by Rudolf Steiner at Munich, on the 4th of December, 1907. This document is lecture 4 of 18 lectures in the lecture series entitled, The Working of Natural Substance and Spiritual Essence in the Visible World. It was published in German as, Natur- und Geistwesen — Ihr Wirken in Unserer Sichtbaren Welt.

A Lecture given by
Rudolf Steiner
Munich, December 4th, 1907
Bn/GA 98

The following lecture was given by Rudolf Steiner at Munich, on the 4th of December, 1907. This document is lecture 4 of 18 lectures in the lecture series entitled, The Working of Natural Substance and Spiritual Essence in the Visible World. It was published in German as, Natur- und Geistwesen — Ihr Wirken in Unserer Sichtbaren Welt.

This lecture was translated from shorthand reports, unrevised by the lecturer, by an unknown translator. It first appeared in English translation in the Anthroposophical News Sheet, Volume 4 in 1936. This typescript version is presented here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland. From Bn/GA 98.

This e.Text edition is provided through the wonderful work of:
Various e.Text Transcribers
Book Cover Image

Search for related titles available for purchase at Amazon.com!


Donated by the Los Angeles Steiner Library, this lecture has been made available to everyone.

ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET
March 29, 1936, etc.

THE ELEMENTARY KINGDOMS.

THE NATURE OF THE ELEMENTARY BEINGS, THEIR ACTIVITIES, AND INFLUENCE.

S-1633

Lecture by RUDOLF STEINER, at Munich, December 4, 1907


What has been the generally designated as the Elementary Kingdoms, since the earliest times, is not so easy to understand as we are apt to imagine after a superficial examination. For these Elementary Kingdoms belong to what lies behind the world which we generally perceive — behind the world which forces itself immediately upon our senses.

We can understand such things in the best way, if we proceed from what we can perceive through our senses — from the kingdom of the sense-world, which are accessible to human observation. Here, in the physical sense-world, four kingdoms are spread out before our senses: the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, and the kingdom of man. This is common knowledge. Let us now try to form some clear idea as to the precise nature of these four kingdoms; for this is by no means clear to the average person. And for this same reason, it is also not so easy to gain an insight into the first, second and third elementary kingdoms. It is precisely when we speak of such difficult matters, that we must take great care, from the very outset, to realize that no true goal can be reached, if we believe that a concept which we have, as it were, driven like a stake into the ground, can then be left rooted in this place. This may still be possible within the physical sense-world, for here, things stand one beside another; there is a division between them, just as this book, this piece of chalk, a rose, etc., are distinct and separate from one another. It is possible, in this case, to apply a thought to a single object, for when we have named something, we can be sure that we have before us something distinct and limited. If, however, we send to the astral plane, that world which is immediately beyond our own, and permeates it, as the one nearest to it, we find that this no longer holds true, for, in the astral world, there is eternal movement. If you observe the astral body of man, which floats around him as his aura and is the expression of his passions, etc., you will see that this astral body of man is in a continual movement — it is an ebb and flow, a rise and fall of colors and forms, which change at every moment, for new colors shine forth and others disappear, at every moment. This is what we find in the case of man. But there are other Beings which whirl about on the astral plane. Their astral bodies do not form part of the physical body, although — at the same time — they are nonetheless changeable, for at every moment they have a different shape, color, or luminous force. Everything on the astral plane is the continual manifestation of the inner nature of these Beings. We would, indeed, find ourselves in a difficult position if we were to apply to the astral plane the rigid, unchangeable thoughts of the physical world. We must learn instead to adapt ourselves to the mobility of these shapes — we must acquire mobile thoughts. We should be able to use a concept, once in this way, and once in that.

This is true of the higher worlds to a still greater degree. If we consider the world from a higher standpoint, we find that everything on the physical plane is an expression of forces emanating from these higher worlds. In everything we see about us, such forces and beings lie concealed. It is precisely this fact which explains the great variety among the beings of the physical world. Observe, for instance, the mineral kingdom. All apparently lifeless beings, all minerals, belong to this kingdom. You are told, to begin with, that these minerals upon the earth have no etheric body of their own, no astral body and no Ego. But this is true only within the physical world. We must know this, in order to reach a clear conception of what actually takes place upon the physical plane. But let us now suppose that someone were to say: “The mineral is something which has nothing but a physical body.” This statement is exactly as false, as on the other hand — it would be true, were someone to say: “The mineral kingdom is something which has, upon the physical plane, only a physical body.” For, in the light of a genuine spiritual method of observation, we find that here, upon the physical plane, the mineral has a physical body, but nothing more. If we wish to find its etheric body, we must ascend to the astral plane: there, its etheric body is to be found. The moment that a human being becomes astrally clairvoyant, he is able to see the etheric body of the mineral — there, on the astral plane — and here, on the physical plane, he sees merely its physical body. If we extend our observations still further, we find that the mineral has also an astral body. This body cannot be found, however, upon the astral plane, but must be sought in the lower regions of Devachan. Only in the higher Mental plane, is the Arupa-Mental plane, do we find the Ego of the mineral — and it is from here, that the mineral is directed by its Ego. If you wish to form a rough picture of this, you must say to yourselves: I will try to imagine a human being, whose clairvoyance reaches as far as the higher Devachan. To such a clairvoyance, who is able to see into Arupa, the minerals will appear like the fingernails of the human being — nails of Beings whose Ego dwells in higher Devachan. It is not possible to think of the fingernails without the human being; the same thing must be applied also to the minerals.

Let us suppose that we are observing a rock-crystal here upon the earth. If we now look away for a moment, our clairvoyant gaze discovers the etheric body, which gives life to the physical body, there, in the astral world. Yet it would not be possible to perceive there, that any injury caused to the mineral, also causes it pain. The joy and gladness, pain and suffering of minerals can only be found upon the Devachanic plane — but entirely differently from the way in which we usually imagine this. A mineral's sensation of pain is not like that of an animal; we must not think that a mineral feels pain when we hammer it and break it into pieces. When workmen in a quarry break stone, this actually gives rise to a feeling of pleasure upon the Devachanic plane — it is a true delight for the minerals. Thus, in their case, we find the very opposite of what takes place in the kingdom of man and in the animal kingdom. On the Devachanic plane, it is not merely one mineral which belongs, as it were, to a mineral personality, but rather a whole system of minerals — just as, imaginatively speaking your fingernails do not each possessed a separate soul. If someone were to imagine that everything of an astral nature must be found upon the astral plane, he would be under a delusion. It seems, of course, natural to look for the astral element upon the astral plane — nevertheless, the inner nature of a Being must be distinguished from the environment in which it lives. Just as your Ego has no physical nature, and lives nevertheless upon the physical plane, so the astral body of the mineral does not live on the astral plane but in lower Devachan. We must not have delayed our thoughts according to a system, but must rather work our way through, with the aid of a more precise analysis and understanding of things.

Let us now observe the plant, just as we see it before us. Here, on the physical plane, it has its physical body and its etheric body. It has these two bodies on the physical plane — but where are we to look for the astral body of the plant? We shall find it in the astral world — and the Ego, in the lower Devachan. Let us now go a step further, to the animal. The animal has, in the physical sense-world, a physical body, an etheric body, and an astral body — but it's Ego is on the astral plane. That is to say: just as, here on the earth, defined in the human being as an isolated person, as a single individuality, so you will find the Egos of the animals, as complete, self-contained personalities, upon the astral plane. But we must think of this in the following way: All groups of animals which have a similar form, have also a common Ego. Man, therefore, distinguishes himself from the animals, owing to the fact that every human being has an individual Ego. On the astral plane, we find for instance, that the Ego of the lions, the Ego of the Tigers, etc. There, they are single, self-contained Beings; the single animal group-souls inhabit the physical sense-world. But in the case of the human being, he must recognize the fact that the physical body, etheric body, astral body and the Ego have all descended as far as the physical plane. This is true, however, only when the human being is awake — when he is asleep it is otherwise. The physical and etheric bodies are then in the physical world, whereas the astral body and the Ego are on the astral plane. Thus, during sleep, the fourfold human being is separated into parts, and is to be found partly on the physical plane and partly on the one directly above this — the astral plane. On the physical plane, the human being is then of the same worth as a plant.

Now we have already learned to know, in previous lectures, the nearest ways in which the expressions “astral”, etc. must be used. But we shall attain to a real penetration and insight into these things, only if we realize clearly that we cannot push them about like the men on a chessboard. If we study the human being, we must observe him quite precisely, in the following way: We find in him the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, and the Ego. It has often been emphasized here, how very important it is to form a clear conception concerning the relation of these four members. It is very easy to imagine that the physical body is the most imperfect and the lowest of these. From a certain aspects, however, it is the most perfect of all — for it has passed through four successive stages of evolution — upon ancient Saturn, Sun, Moon, and upon the Earth. The etheric body has reached its third stage of perfection, for only upon the Sun was added to the physical body. In the future, it will indeed rise to a higher stage — although at present, it is not yet as perfect as the physical body. The astral body was added to the other two bodies upon the Moon, hence it has reached only the second stage of perfection. The Ego is the baby among the four members of man: for it was added only upon the Earth, and is thus only at the beginning of its evolution; it works continually in a corruptive way upon the other bodies. Anyone who studies, from an anatomical point of view, the wonderful organization of the physical body, must be filled with wonder by the perfection of the heart and of the brain. How imperfect, on the other hand are the impulses and passions of the Ego! The Ego craves for wine, beer, etc., whichever destructive influence throughout life — nevertheless, the physical body with stands these attacks for decades! Let us now try to make clear to ourselves how the Ego was inserted, as it were, within the physical body — how it first arose.

To begin with, there was the ancient Saturn-evolution. This was the first stage of evolution for the precursor of our present physical body. At that time man's physical body had the cosmic value of a mineral. If you look at a mineral today, you will see in it a retarded stage of existence; it has remained behind at the same stage which the physical body had reached upon Saturn. But you must not think from this that the physical body had then the appearance of a mineral of today. — this would be quite wrong. The present minerals are the youngest forms in evolution. Upon Saturn, the human body was not so dense; this density of the physical body of man was very slight indeed.

Let us now consider the relation between the various stages of matter. The first is what we call Earth — that is, everything which today may be called a solid body iron, copper, tin, etc. Everything solid is Earth. Secondly, everything liquid is Water for instance, quicksilver. Even iron, in a liquefied state would be Water. From the third-place, if you convert water into steam it becomes Air. Occultism, here goes still further, for it shows that the air may become still more rarefied — may become thinner still. In this case, we must transcend what is physical, in the modern sense — and here the cultist speaks of Warmth-Ether, or Fire. For the occultist, Fire is something distinct within itself, just like Earth, Water, and Air — whereas modern science merely looks upon the fire, or heat, as a state, work condition of matter.

Upon Saturn, heat was the substance of man's physical body. On the Sun, the physical body of man was condensed to air; at the same time, an etheric, or life-body, entered into it, transforming this physical body. We now have a physical body, with an etheric body consisting of one member, and the physical body of two members. In the case of the physical body upon this Sun, we must distinguish a more perfect than the less perfect part — that is to say, one part was not as yet permeated by the etheric body. When picturing to ourselves to physical body upon the Sun, they must realize that the inner part of this physical body has received nothing from the etheric body; it has still the same value as the physical body had upon Saturn. Thus, we have one part which has already attained to the stage of a plant, and this part is at the same time permeated by another part, which is still upon the stage of a mineral: nevertheless, these two parts completely permeate one another.

Let us now consider the physical body upon the Moon. Here, it is already condensed to water, and the astral body is incorporated within the etheric and physical bodies. Thus, we must now distinguish three different parts: One part is permeated by the etheric and astral bodies; another part is permeated only by the etheric body; and a third part has remained at the mineral stage.

And now, let us consider the physical body upon the Earth. Here, the Ego is added. On the Earth, four members are interwoven. One part of the physical body is permeated by the etheric body, astral body and the Ego; a second part, by the etheric body and astral body; a third part, by the etheric body only; and a fourth part remains at the mineral stage. It has the same value as has a mineral, and is still on the stage of the Saturn. These four parts can be clearly distinguished in the physical body. The first part, which contains all four members, consists of the red blood corpuscles. Wherever we find red blood, these four members permit one another.

The nerves on the second part, or member. Where nerves are found, there the physical, etheric and astral bodies permeate one another. Where clans are to be found, the physical and etheric bodies interpenetrate. All the instruments of the senses, all organs which have the character of a physical apparatus, have reached merely the stage of the mineral. They follow exactly the same laws as do the minerals. The eye and the ear, for instance, belong to these mineral parts; also in the brain, we find such mineral parts. Thus you can see for yourselves how easily one may be tempted at times to become a materialist — because of something mineral does actually permeate the whole body. If a materialist declares that the brain is mineral, he is in part right — that is, if he considers merely one aspect of the brain. Particularly in certain parts of the frontal brain — although these are, indeed, permeated by others — mineral forces alone are active. And were we to study the bones and muscles, it would become still more competition. When the human Ego entered into man, it began to work upon the sentient soul, the understanding soul, and the consciousness soul; and at the same time, it formed the bones and muscles. If we wish to observe these things exactly, we need years of study, only to be able to keep them distinct and separate. We must trace one thing after the other, with patience.

If we now have before us a sleeping human being, his physical body and etheric body lie upon the bed. But this physical body is very complicated. When the human being is awake, the astral body and the Ego work within his blood. But what happens when the physical body lies on the bed, in the human being is asleep? The functions of the etheric body are indeed still carried on — yet there can be no blood, unless an astral body and an Ego are active within it. Hence, every night, the blood would be doomed to death, since it is dependent upon the ego and the astral body. But these as we know, leave the body — leave it mercilessly. Also the whole nervous system is mercilessly abandoned, for the nervous system is dependent upon the astral body. Thus, we have before us the strange fact that in reality, the blood and the nervous system would have to die every night — they would fall a prey to death, if they would be obliged to depend entirely upon the human being. Other Beings must come to their aid; other Beings must take over the work of man. From other worlds, other Beings must pour their activity into man, in order to preserve what he so treacherously abandons. We shall not try to explain the nature of these Beings who become active when man is asleep, and to make it possible for him to preserve his blood intact.

We can form an idea of these Beings, if we ask ourselves: where does the human Ego really live, when it lives here, upon the physical plane? In which one of the three kingdoms does it live? And we must ask ourselves further: how much can we really know, without clairvoyant perception? — Without clairvoyance, we can, in reality, gain knowledge only of the mineral kingdom. This is the peculiar characteristic of the human being — that he cannot even grasp the plant completely, as long as he is not astrally clairvoyant. Materialists declare that plants are merely a conglomerate of mineral processes — just because they can see only the plant's mineral nature. When the human beings will have progressed, in their work upon themselves, as far as the first stage of clairvoyance, the life of the plants and the laws of life will then appear to them just as clearly as do now the laws of the mineral world.

If you wish to construct a machine, or to build a house, you must do this in accordance with the laws of the mineral world. Initiates constructive according to these laws of the mineral world; but you cannot construct a plant in this way. If you wish to have a plant, you must leave this work to those Beings which form the foundations of Nature. In the future, it will be possible to produce plants in the laboratory, but only when human beings will regard this as a sacrament, as a holy rite. Only when man has become so earnest and purified, that he looks upon the laboratory-table as an altar, will he be permitted to produce living substance. Until this time has arrived, however, not even the slightest detail concerning the way in which living beings are constituted, will be revealed to him. In other words: The Ego lives, as a cognitive being, in the mineral kingdom, but it will ascend, in the future, to the vegetable kingdom, and it will learn to know this kingdom, just as today, it knows the mineral kingdom. Still later, it will learn to grasp also the laws of the animal kingdom; and finally, those of the human kingdom. All human beings will learn to know and to grasp the inner nature of plants, animals, and of man — these are prospects for the future. Whatever we really understand, we can also produce — for instance, a clock. But the human being of our day will never be able to produce anything belonging to the sphere of living Nature, without the help of the Beings that lie behind nature, as long as such a work has not become for him a sacramental rite. Only then will he be able to ascend from the mineral kingdom to the vegetable kingdom. The human being is already a human being, at the present time; but his knowledge is restricted to the mineral kingdom. The Ego of man lives within a human form, but when this human Ego looks out into the world, its knowledge is limited to the mineral kingdom. The Ego thus possesses only the capacity to vitalize the blood in a mineral fashion — it is unable to do more. Although the Ego lives within the blood, during the day — dwelling within it and vitalizing it — nevertheless it does this merely in a mineral way.

How does it do this? If you look out into the world, your cognitive forces will reveal to you the laws of the mineral kingdom. Try to observe for yourself the peculiar quality of this human activity. You look out into the world through your senses; you grasp the mineral laws, and during your waking hours, you impress these laws upon your blood — you force them into the entire substance of your blood, thus vitalizing it in a mineral way. This is the peculiar process each takes place during the act of cognition. Now imagine to yourselves the human being, in accordance with the following diagram (it cannot be produced here) ... the laws of the mineral world streaming into him from all sides. They do not, however, remain merely within his sense-organs; but while the human being is awake, they stream together with the blood, throughout the whole human body.

Now, what does the plant-world do? You will understand what takes place in the case of a plant, if you bear in mind the following fact: You have often been told that the Ego works upon the man's other bodies and transforms the astral body into the Spirit-Self. In the same degree that this takes place, do the laws of the vegetable kingdom stream into the human nervous system. When the human being has reached the next stage of clairvoyance, the laws of the animal kingdom will permeate his glandular system, and finally, when he is able to work upon the transformation of his physical body, the laws of the human kingdom itself will flow into the human body. All this should be thought of as applying to the waking state and to the various stages of a higher clairvoyant consciousness. Thus we can say that the human being has reached, at the present time, a stage where the Ego permits the laws of the mineral kingdom to stream into the blood. But it is able to do this only during the waking state — for, the mineral laws can enter the blood only while man is awake. While he is asleep however, the blood must also be cared for. And because this blood has been worked upon, throughout four successive stages of evolution, three other powers must now step in with their activity. The first of these is a power which is the most closely related to the way in which the Ego has worked upon the blood — but it is a power which has not descended as far as the physical plane. The blood would be given over to death, did not another Ego work upon it, while the human being is asleep ... another Ego which has remained upon the astral plane, and now intervenes by taking over the work upon the blood. If we observe the human blood, this “peculiar fluid”, we find that while the human being is awake, the Ego of man is active within it, here on the physical plane. During the night however, the blood is worked upon by an Ego which dwells upon the astral plane. For there are such Egos.

Now I have referred, only recently, to Egos living upon the astral plane — namely, to the group-souls of the animals. But in this case we are dealing with another species of Egos, dwelling upon the astral plane, which work upon the human being and vitalize his blood, when the Ego of man has abandoned it. By what means do they accomplish this? And what is it that they bring into the blood? They bring into it that which, ever since the time of Saturn, must always be present in the human body — namely fire, heat. These are spirits which have never descended as far as the physical plane — spiritual Beings that live on the astral plane and have a body of fire. In the mineral kingdom, everything appears to us endowed with a certain degree of heat. Heat is met with as a quality of solid, liquid, and gaseous bodies. But now, try for a moment to think of heat, of warmth, quite independently, quite by itself ... it does not exist as such upon the physical plane. But upon the astral plane, you would meet with such warmth, or heat, streaming there and thither — heat as an independent being — and within it, you would discover Beings embodied, such as we were ourselves upon ancient Saturn. These Beings enter into the blood during the night, and vitalize it with their warmth. But something else must also take place — for the astral body also abandoned the blood, and this body too, is indispensable to it. Thus it is not sufficient if these Ego-beings alone approach man during the night and work upon him with their warmth-bodies — but other beings as well are needed, which work upon the blood in the same way as does the astral body. These Beings have their Ego upon the Devachanic plane, and this Ego possesses a still higher body, which is not even condensed as far as heat. The Ego which I described first, did not descend even as far as the astral plane — for it has remained in Devachan. It permeates the blood and carries on within it, an activity which corresponds to that of the astral body during the day.

Thus you may see how we are cared for and protected during the night by higher Beings which do not live in the mineral kingdom. The human Ego has descended as far as the mineral kingdom, and will later ascend to the vegetable kingdom, etc. These other Egos have remained behind the human kingdom during the successive stages of evolution; they form the hidden kingdoms, the Elementary Kingdoms, which lie behind our physical world, and which work down into it. The first Being which works in our blood during the night, as a body of heat — just as we have a physical body; it permeates the blood which heat — and at the same time, lives upon the astral plane with its body at heat. Through this warmth-body, it belongs to the third Elementary Kingdom. These Beings, belonging to the third Elementary Kingdom, are the companions of the Group-Egos of the animals — they belong to the same region. And what are the capacities of these Egos? They need not have the same capacities as a human Ego, which has descended as far as the physical sense-world; but they are able nevertheless, to act as a substitute for the human Ego, from the astral plane. These Egos work down from the astral plane, in the same way that the animal Group-Egos work down upon the animals; Souls of the animals. In other words, they fill man's astral body with impulses, desires, and passions. If we have before us an astral body — what lives within this astral body? In addition to the Ego, Beings live within it whose Ego dwells upon the astral plane. These Beings permeates the astral body just as maggots live in cheese. This is the third Elementary Kingdom: it is the kingdom which forms impulses and passions of an animal nature.

But behind this kingdom lies another, namely the second Elementary Kingdom. This kingdom is active within a purer element, for it moulds and forms the shapes of the plants. But it's activity extends also to the human being — to his many elements which have a plant-like character — nails, hair, etc. These are not permeated by the astral body, but merely by the etheric body; for this reason they feel no pain. The hair and nails are products from which the astral body has already withdrawn — it is possible to cut them, without causing pain. At an earlier time however, the astral body was also within these. Many things in the human being are of a plant-like nature, and within all these plants-like elements, the Beings of the second Elementary Kingdom are active. Hence, that which builds up the body of a plant consists of the forces belonging to the second Elementary Kingdom. Within the plant are active both the Plant-Ego,, which permeates the etheric and astral bodies and these Beings of the second Elementary Kingdom. Whereas the Ego of the plants works upon the plant from within, these other Beings work upon it from without — forming it, making it grow and blossom. The whole plant is permeated by an etheric body. But it does not possess an astral body of its own; instead the entire astral body of the Earth forms the common astral body of the plants. The Ego of the plants is to be found at the center of the earth. This is true for all plants. For this reason, if you pull up a plant by the roots you cause pain to the earth; but, if you pick a flower, the earth will have a feeling of well-being, as a cow has a feeling of well-being when her calf sucks her milk. It is also a wonderful experience when the corn is moved in the autumn, to see how great waves of well-being streamed over the earth! The Beings which work upon the plants, from out of the second Elementary Kingdom, and help it to take form, fly toward the plant from all sides, like butterflies. The renewal and repetition of the leaves, blossoms, etc., is their work. This is what acts upon the plants from out of the second Elementary Kingdom.

In like manner, there is a first Elementary Kingdom, which gives the minerals their form. The animals received their shape, or form — a form determined by instincts and desires — from the Beings belonging to the third Elementary Kingdom. The leaves, etc., of the plants are formed by the second Elementary Kingdom; this work consists chiefly of repetitions. But performing, shaping forces of the minerals, which workout of the formless element, are to be found in higher Devachan, in Arupa-Devachan. These three Elementary Kingdoms permeate one another, flow into one another. One who imagines everything distinct and separate, will never attain to a living understanding. In the vegetable kingdom, the vegetable and mineral kingdoms permeate one another. In the animal kingdom, the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms interpenetrate. And in a human being, the Ego is added to these. For, with the incomes of the Ego, the human kingdom first arose upon the earth. It is the blood which first makes man a human being; all the kingdoms are contained within it. But the Ego can for the present, penetrate with its cognitive forces only into the mineral kingdom; it must leave the other kingdoms to the Beings of the Elementary Kingdoms. The mineral kingdom contains, besides this mineral kingdom itself, also the first Elementary Kingdom; for this reason, it takes on a clearly defined shape. The plant owes its form entirely to the second Elementary Kingdom — for, without it, it would be spherical. And the animal is endowed with instincts, etc., owing to the added activity of the third Elementary Kingdom. Our world consists of interpenetrating regions; only if we are able to make our thoughts mobile and fluent, shall we gradually be able to understand such things.

If we wish to form a concept of how the third Elementary Kingdom is connected with the animal kingdom, the following example may be helpful. You all know the migrations of the birds! The birds take quite definite courses in their migrations; from the northeast to southwest and from southwest to northeast. But who directs these migrations? It is the Group-Soul of the birds! In these migrations instinct comes to expression. Essentially speaking, they are wedding-flights — for the birds take flight in order to breed in better climates. They are directed by the Souls of the Species, or Group-Soul, of the animal kingdom.

On the other hand, the animals are given their form, which enables him to have certain instincts, and which is the bearer of these instincts, by the Beings of the third Elementary Kingdom — the companions of the animal Group-Souls. If we wish to express this in a somewhat trivial manner, we may say: Those Egos which constitute the animal Group-Souls form one company, upon the astral plane; and the Beings of the third Elementary Kingdom form another. Nevertheless, they must work together in harmony. The one supplies the instincts, the other the bodies, forming and moulding them, so that the instincts may live within them.

The physical forms of the plants originate from the Beings of the second Elementary Kingdom. And in everything which molds and works upon the minerals, the Beings of the first Elementary Kingdom are to be found. The forces of the minerals, active as attraction and repulsion, the atomistic forces, proceed from the groups of minerals. But it is the Beings of the first Elementary Kingdom who form the minerals.

Thus we obtain a perspective which reveals to us where we may seek for the activities of the various kingdoms within our world. We must however, observe these things very accurately. We may say to a plant: You are living being; this you owe to the Plant-Ego. Your form, your shape however, is given to you by the Beings of the second Elementary Kingdom.

Thus we may sum up the four kingdoms as follows. The kingdom of man is the kingdom within which and Ego can work formatively into the human world; the vegetable kingdom is the one within which hands Ego can work formatively in the plant world; the mineral kingdom, the one in which an Ego can build for itself forms in the mineral kingdom. The third Elementary Kingdom cares for the blood during the night, and forms at the same time, the instinctive life of the animals; the second Elementary Kingdom forms the plants; and the first Elementary Kingdom forms the minerals — for instance the crystals. From all this we can see that patience is necessary for the penetration into Spiritual Science. The world is constructed in a complicated way, and the highest truths are not the simplest. It is an utterly senseless way of speaking to declare that the highest things can be grasped with the simplest concepts. This is due only to laziness. It is admitted of course, that it is not possible to understand a clock at once, but the world, people believe, can be understood without any further trouble. If we wish to grasp the Divine, infinite patience is needed for the Divine contains everything. In order to understand the world, people wish to apply the simplest concepts, but this is simply laziness ... no matter how reverently the soul may say it. The Divine element is profound, and an eternity is needed in order to grasp it. Man dares, indeed, the spark of the Godhead within him, but the nature and Being of this Godhead can be understood only by collecting a knowledge of the facts of the world.

The great patience and renunciation which knowledge entails, is what we must learn first of all. We ourselves must gradually mature in order to form judgments. The world is infinite at every point. And we must be modest enough to say that everything is, in a certain sense, only a half-truth. We must transform everything into moral impulses, even the classification of man's being into ten or twelve members. Spiritual Science gives us pictures which we should unite with our feelings. For, Spiritual Science is only of value when we draw from it not merely knowledge, but are filled with the noblest feelings for the profundity of the world around us. All the greater then, will be the longing for the Divine. The very fact that the Divine appears to man so far removed, in distinct height, should incite him so much the more to become strong, in order that he may again find his way thither.





Last Modified: 02-Aug-2018
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com
[Spacing]

@