Berlin, 12th October 1905
In occultism we differentiate in man firstly his actions, in so far as
by actions we understand everything which proceeds from any kind of
activity connected with his hands; secondly speech and thirdly
thoughts. Everything which in this sense he accomplishes with
his hands brings about its karmic results in his next earthly
existence. What we speak concerns not only ourselves alone, but
also a group of human beings having the same language, and this
affects the karma of the group or race. In words lies a greater
responsibility than in deeds alone: for with them we are preparing the
configuration of a future race. What we think works on even
into a new formation of our earth. We therefore distinguish three
stages. Firstly: Human action is individual, with the exception of
those actions in man that arise from nothingness. Secondly: Man cannot
speak for himself alone; words concern a group of human beings.
Thirdly: Thoughts are the concern of the whole of humanity.
With this, something else is connected. When we act we stand quite
alone behind our actions. When we speak we are not quite alone in our
words. Behind our words a spiritual being is working with us, standing
behind us. Just as truly as the words we utter are imprinted quite
exactly in the Akasha, so is it true that with every word we utter we
impinge upon the body of a spiritual being who is incarnated in this
Akashic substance into which our words penetrate. We must take this up
into our feeling life; this is why we must pay such heed to our words.
When we think, we are seemingly quite alone within ourselves;
nevertheless beings of a spiritual nature are active with us in our
thoughts, beings still higher and more significant than those active
in our speech.
More lies in these things than in a whole world-history. Through them
much can be explained. Let us consider a thought within us. Behind
this thought a spiritual being is present. If we imagine ourselves
enveloped on all sides by the body of a spiritual being, we can
realise that a thought is only the expression of the body of the
spiritual being working into us. Every time a thought flashes through
our soul it is an impression, a kind of foot-print of a higher
spiritual being, just as if we were walking over damp ground, leaving
footprints, and were to say: Here a person walked. This spiritual
being is formed of the same substance as that of which thought
consists. The thought in us can only become the imprint of a higher
spiritual being because this higher being has a body formed of the
same substance as our thoughts.
When our foot imprints itself in the damp earth, this imprint is a
negative, a counter-image of our foot. So is it too with our thoughts.
In the higher spiritual world there is a counter-image for every
thought. Image and counter-image are as interconnected as seal and
sealing wax. The substance is the higher spiritual being which
corresponds in our analogy to the sealing wax. Now we call thought, in
so far as it corresponds to the sealing wax, intuition, and the
impression we call abstract thought. We can say when we think: I feel
the traces of what is happening in higher worlds. It is with regard
to this fact that in religious writings, for instance in the
Revelation of St. John, the expression seal is used. This
corresponds with reality. It is also because a higher being is working
with us in our words that every word is the impression of a seal. With
the mystics the counter-image is called Imagination. Thus we have
three levels of the thought element: the intuitive, the imaginative
and the ordinary abstract thinking.
When man develops further, when abstract thought itself develops to
the stage on which the beings are incarnated who work with us when we
speak, then he is a Chela, an occult pupil. To be a Master means: To
work in the substance in which the beings are incarnated who work with
us in our thoughts. Imagination gives the picture. This is why the
great religious teachers of earlier times spoke pictorially, for
imagination gives the picture, not abstract thoughts. In all
religions, teachings were expressed in pictures. At first the picture
is for man something of lesser importance, but when he understands how
to form again for himself a picture out of every thought, then he has
reached a higher stage. This is the pre-requisite for a quite new kind
of perception. Everything depends on a man developing to the point at
which he no longer thinks merely abstractly, but at all times has his
thoughts in pictures.
As a rule man forms merely thoughts. The more highly developed man
must think in pictures, in images; that means to imagine. In this
expression there already lies what is meant: By means of a certain
power to make an imprint in something, (to imagine). In creative
fantasy, in the case of poet and artist, we find only a weak
reflection of imagination. When a man who is seeking higher
development speaks, he will try in certain cases, while speaking, to
have before him the counter-image, the Imago. This is the source of
the mighty pictures in religious writings. Whoever develops himself so
far that he can create such pictures has attained the stage of the
spiritual beings who are involved in the creation of races. One who
develops in himself not only pictures, but intuitions, is not
only involved in the creation of races, but in the creation of the
next planetary existence. From the pictures there will resound what
later will be manifested on the earth, but whoever works out of
intuition creates something which is not yet existent, which is
nowhere manifested, that is to say he creates out of Nirvana. This
concept is inherent in every apocalypse: What will be manifested in
the future can only be created out of intuition.
Through abstract thinking one makes a copy of something that exists.
Through Imagination a man allows himself to be fructified by the
formative spirit within him. Imagination corresponds to hidden
realities which have arisen through the fructifying impulse of higher
beings; thus one can see these higher spiritual beings on the Astral
Plane. The prerequisite for this is to develop a speech that is not
the expression of abstract thoughts, but of pictures. This is why
mediums also speak in imaginations, in pictures and symbols, but
unconsciously. Behind them the spirit is forming the symbols. The
occult pupil does this in full consciousness, nevertheless in a way
that is not arbitrary. In so doing he allows himself to be fructified
by the spirit.
Just as man develops himself to the stage when he can create pictures
and receive intuitions, so before he came into existence the external
world was active; and indeed in such a way that in everything which is
around us as mineral existence, as purely physical nature, Intuitions
are working as creative forces. The crystal is external in so far as
it reveals itself to the senses; it is however created by means of
Intuitions. Behind the entire physical world lies a cosmos of
Intuitions and finally a being, the Planetary Spirit, who produces the
Intuitions. Behind all language Beings of Imagination are working and
with them the Spirit of the Race. In all living things, Beings at the
same spiritual level are at work. Behind all plants Imaginations are
active. The completed form of the plant comes forth from Imagination
and behind it stands a spiritual being: and everything imbued with
consciousness and perception has arisen out of Thought itself
Now let us look at the whole universe, to begin with in its physical
aspect: Earth, Sun, Moon and stars, the Milky Way and so on. Behind it
stands a great intuitive Spirit. It is the same Spirit that manifests
in our actions; he also stands behind the whole universe. Christianity
calls him the Father. Because he is so little known he is also called
the Unknown God, and in theosophical literature the first Logos.
Behind everything living stands the Spirit of Imagination. It is the
same Spirit who is also working in our speech; this is why the
Christian religion calls Him the Word. Here something quite exact and
actual is meant. This spirit who stands behind everything living is
still working today in our speech, in each of our words, and is
therefore rightly called the Word, another designation is: The Son
or Christ. He is the Spirit who lives as imagination in everything
that has life.
Then we ascend to what is conscious, what has a certain degree of
perception, of consciousness, everything of an animal nature and what
in man [Gap in text ...] This can already be grasped by thoughts. It
is contained in every being. What takes place in the animal occurs in
the first place within itself: abstract consciousness. All
consciousness existent in the world also lives in man, in abstract
thinking. Within himself man calls it Spirit; in so far as it works
outside in the creative forces of Nature he calls it Holy Spirit.
This is what underlies all perception and consciousness. Illness
exists only in separateness. Spirit as such cannot be ill, but only
when it is incarnated in lower bodies. The word Heilig (healthy)
means heil sein, to be well: it expresses the fact that the Spirit
which flows through the world outside, is healthy. The Holy Spirit is
nothing other than Spirit which is healthy through and through: this
is why anyone who truly unites himself with the Holy Spirit (Heiliger
Geist) receives the power of healing (heilen). This must be in harmony
with the Holy Spirit flowing through the world. This is the Spirit
which works from man to man as the true healer.
If we now turn our attention to the physical plane we find in the
first place that we perceive through the senses. Behind is the great
intuitive Spirit. Everything physically present has been made by this
Spirit. Thus behind everything that lives in form as such, that can be
perceived by the senses, stands the Father Spirit, the first Logos.
Through merely observing we do not alter anything, but an alteration
comes about when we act. Then we not only change what exists outside
in the world, but also the forces working outside in the world.
The moment we act we bring about an alteration on the physical plane.
Behind these alterations however there lies also an alteration in the
underlying force corresponding to the first Logos. This we influence
by our actions; it remains, is there, cannot again be got rid of,
unless it be eradicated by the same force which called it forth. And
the alteration which is called forth through our deeds is what takes
hold of us again as Karma. That which draws man into the physical
world once more, if looked at from the point of view of Karma is
called: Rupa. This is because it was accomplished in Rupa, through the
body, through man's external nature. Thus we create in the body, in
Rupa, when we work upon the outer Intuitions.
The second sphere in which today man is not entirely independent, but
where another Spirit is working with him, is speech. Here we make
impressions in a world behind which lies not only what is physical,
but what has life. In the world of life the Imaginations about which
we are speaking remain behind, formative forces which create new
races. Our present race has been created out of what lay behind the
words of earlier races. This is embodied in our race. In addition we
have to consider everything which belongs in any way to Imagination.
This shows us that with our words we produce impressions in the realm
of the Son, in the realm of the second Logos. These return as the
collective Karma of the whole race, for the word is not created
by us alone; the Spirit of the Race is working with us. What is the
foundation for this form of Karma? Where is the Spirit of the Race
working? The Spirit of the Race is active in man's feeling, permeates
the entire world of feeling. This resounds into what a human being has
in common with his group.
What works in a much wider sense on Karma is feeling (Vedana). Thus
firstly: Rupa, the corporality; secondly: Vedana, feeling. For those
people who have not yet become Chelas, feeling has great importance
where the perception of the second Logos and everything living is
concerned. The aim of science is to study animals and plants apart
from life. Even the greatest men of learning today have not yet
advanced beyond the stage of comprehending life with feeling. It is
the Imaginative understanding which first enables them to look into
In the outer world thought is connected with everything having
sensation and consciousness. This has one thing in common with us:
perception. The fact that we can in any way perceive the outer world
in physical space as a world of colour and sound is only possible
because we are able to transpose it into thoughts. We receive
perceptions; we think about them. If there were no thoughts in the
perceptions it would be the greatest folly on man's part to form
thoughts about them. Thoughts would then be mere illusions if the
perceptions had not arisen through thoughts. From the combination of
perceptions it follows that in the first place perceptions are built
up by thoughts which we can then extract from them: the laws of
nature. These are nothing other than thoughts; it is the creative
Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Perception is the boundary between the two,
where our thoughts come in contact with the creative thoughts outside.
Thus with a thought that we have we cannot work directly on life, but
on the consciousness which in the outer world is itself thought.
Through thought we leave behind traces in all the spiritual beings who
have brought about consciousness. What man builds up on the basis of
perception in the way of thoughts, and what he produces as thoughts,
has its repercussions on everything which makes perception necessary.
Thirdly therefore we differentiate: Perception or Sanjna, the third
element which has an effect on Karma.
Through all actions we call forth counter-actions as Karma, because we
make an impact on the Intuitive World: Rupa.
Through all words we make an impact on the World of Creative Feelings
around us: Vedana.
With our thoughts about perceptions we make an impact on the whole
World of Thoughts outside us: Sanjna.
What we perceive around us will no longer be there when we appear
again on Earth. Everything therefore which we think in connection with
the world of perception will have no effect whatever on the future
incarnation; only in this incarnation will it have a Karma-building
force. Thought works upon our present character.
What comes forth from feeling, that is essentially connected with our
surroundings; what enters into the world of Imagination, comes back to
us in the following incarnation, in such a way that it appears within
us as inborn tendencies and outside us as opportunities. Through our
inborn tendencies we call towards us opportunities offered by the
world, which form our destiny, through tendencies which have their
source in Karma. Thoughts form the character: the tendencies or
disposition lead karmically to the opportunities. Actions bring about
the external destiny, all the bodily circumstances into which man is
born. What we carry out through Rupa, our bodily nature, that is our
actual destiny, that comes back to us karmically.
One can only create inborn tendencies for further incarnations
consciously by reaching the stage of Imagination. Herein we find the
secret of how the great founders of religions projected their
influence beyond their own time. The pictures which they gave the
people released dispositional tendencies for the following
incarnations. Every picture that they instilled into the soul
reappeared in the entire feeling-world of the human being. Either he
wins such Imaginations for himself, or he receives them from his
teacher. We win them for ourselves when we have gained control over
our entire life of feeling: this is the case with the occult pupil.
His feelings are subject to his own control; the rest of humanity is
cared for in this respect by the founders of religions. A religion is
the feeling-world of future races; outwardly therefore it can be
submerged, for it lives on in human tendencies. Today tendencies are
coming to the surface which were implanted in mankind in the 13th and
14th centuries. It is important that the materialistic images of the
present day do not take root in human hearts, for in future times they
would fill human beings with the most brutal instincts which are only
directed to the world of the senses, if they were not opposed by
spiritual ideas. Those desires and wishes live in man which are
produced out of imagination. This is his desire-nature = Sanskara.
Everything intuitive in man, the great impulses which he receives from
the highest initiates, these actually overcome the Karma of Deeds. He
who raises himself to Intuitions as such, penetrates through the
physical world up to the Father Spirit. He who possesses intuitive
knowledge can affect the Karma arising out of deeds. He begins to
limit his Karma consciously.
For the ordinary person only those beings are comprehensible who also
have consciousness. When he progresses to Imagination, life also
becomes comprehensible; when he progresses to Intuition he can advance
as far as the Intuitive forces.
A person can affect his Karma to the degree in which he himself
possesses Intuition; or he must receive it from the high initiates in
the form of great moral laws. Vijnana is the name used for the
consciousness necessary for the overcoming of Karma. And now let us
think of a man living in the world, carrying out his actions and
dying. After his death something of him nevertheless remains here in
this world which he has woven into it: Rupa, Vedana, Sanjna, Sanskara
and Vijnana. These five are the balance of his account: his personal
destiny as Rupa; the destiny of the nation into which he is born, as
Vedana; the actual fact of his birth on this earth as Sanjna. In
addition, working with Sanskara, the desire nature, and Vijnana, the
consciousness. These are the five Skandhas.
What a man gives out into the world remains as the five Skandhas in
the world. These are the foundation of his new existence. They have
progressively less effect when he has consciously developed something
of the last two. The more he has gained conscious power over Vijnana,
the more does he gain the power of consciously incarnating in the
physical body. In their essential nature the Skandhas are identical
- Rupa: Corporality, Actions.
- Vedana: Feeling.
- Sanjna: Perception.
- Sanskara: Desire.
- Vijnana: Consciousness necessary to the overcoming of Karma.