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At the Gates of Spiritual Science

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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At the Gates of Spiritual Science

On-line since: 15th June, 2008


4 September, 1906

In earlier times man's etheric body was still outside his physical body, and so also, of course, was his Ego-consciousness. His soul worked on the physical body from outside. The horse today has its etheric body still outside.

How did the names of the zodiacal constellations originate?

The whole animal kingdom was once within man; this means that he was at a stage between the human realm and the animal kingdom of today. In order to be able to develop further, he had to separate off from himself those parts which could not go with him. He separated the parts which form the animal kingdom of today. Originally, therefore, the animals were much less sharply differentiated from man than they now are. They have gradually degenerated.

The separating off of the animal kingdom did not occur suddenly, but by slow degrees. First the fishes were separated, then the reptiles and amphibians, then the birds and the mammals. And within each group the separating off was again gradual: thus the beasts of prey, for example were separated earlier than the apes.

When the lions were separated, the constellation in which the Sun then stood was called Lion, and when the bull-nature was separated, the relevant constellation was called Bull. The names of the four apocalyptic creatures in the Revelation of John — Eagle, Lion, Bull, Man — point in the same direction. But the names of all the zodiacal constellations are not thereby explained.

The Moon in earlier times — before the Earth separated from it — consisted of soft plant-substance, like living peat or spinach-stuff, penetrated by a woody structure which has today hardened into rock. In this soft substance lived the Moon-plants, real plant-animals, halfway between the plants and the animals of the present time. Then the Earth separated, bringing into being the four kingdoms of nature — minerals, plants, animals and men. Some of the plant-animals failed to transform themselves completely into present-day plants. The sponges arose in this way.

Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters, it must have lost the power to wound.” (From Light on the Path, by Mabel Collins.)

When we send forth a loving thought, it creates a wonderfully beautiful thought-form, like a flower which gently opens and then surrounds the person to whom the thought applies. Anyone who thinks a thought full of hate creates a sharp-pointed angular form, closed at its apex, designed to wound. That which is here called “the Masters” is the divine voice which speaks in us. It speaks constantly, but we do not always allow it to emerge. The thought-form of love is open; hence the voice of the Masters can sound through it. But the closed thought-form of hate leaves the divine thought-form no way out, so that it has to remain unheard.

In the astral, a lie is a murder

Suppose I think the following thought: I met a man. A quite definite thought-form will be engendered by that. Now to someone else I say it again: I met a man. The same thought-form is again engendered. The two thought-forms meet and strengthen each other. But if I tell a lie and say: I did not meet a man — this engenders a thought-form opposed to the first. The result is an explosion in the astral body of the liar.

How can one protect one's astral body against bad influences?

The best way is to be sure and true oneself. As a special protection you can create through forcible concentration of the will an astral sheath, a blue, egg-shaped mist. You must say to yourself firmly and emphatically: “Let all my good qualities surround me like a coat of mail!”

Why did the first Christians have the Fish as their symbol, besides the Lamb?

Among the fishes, especially Amphioxus, the spinal marrow began to take form. Man was once at the stage when he had the fish nature still within himself; he was wholly a soul-being and worked on his body from outside. Then he separated the fishes from himself. Later on the brain was formed out of the spinal marrow. [Goethe already knew this. Dr. Steiner found the relevant pencil sketch drawn in a notebook while he was working in the Goethe Archives in Weimar.] In this way man becomes a Self. But the Self is ennobled by Christianity and hence the Fish is the symbol for the early Christians. The story of Jonah indicates the same thing. Jonah — man — is at first outside the fishes: this means the soul working on the body from the outside. Then he becomes a Self and enters into the fish — the physical body. Through Initiation the physical body is again left aside.

Can physical objects be seen after death?

After death we see nothing physical, but the corresponding astral images, astral and devachanic counterparts. The mineral realm is absent; it appears as an empty space, like a photographic negative. In Devachan one can see a clock, for a human design enters into it. All human artifacts can be seen there.


transformed physical body


transformed etheric body


Kama Manas



Astral Body


Etheric Body

Physical Body

The universal flow of life is called Prana. It flows like water; but if it is given form by being poured into the physical body, rather as water is poured into a jug, then one speaks of the etheric body. The general astral substance, desire-stuff, is called Kama. If it is given the form of a body, one speaks of the astral body. The Ego is the centre of the person. Kama plays into it, and Manas also. Thus the Ego comprises a mixture of Kama and Manas. The Kama has to be completely transformed and ennobled, so that Manas may develop from it. If the etheric body is ennobled, Buddhi emerges; and Atma arises from the ennoblement of the physical body.

The Mental Plane VII Causal body
Arupa VI Causal body
I V Causal body
Akasha Chronicle
IV Etheric sphere
III Airy sphere
Rupa II Oceanic sphere, like the blood in a
human body
I Continental realm

The continental realm embraces everything physical; the oceanic realm, everything living; the airy sphere, the whole range of feelings; and the etheric sphere, all thoughts. At the boundary of the etheric sphere is the Akasha Chronicle. It contains everything that has ever been thought. On the far side of the Akasha Chronicle lies everything that has not yet become thought. All new thoughts, all discoveries and so on, come from the Arupa region. Anyone who has developed Kama Manas comes after death as far as the etheric sphere, to thoughts that exist independently. The Ego shapes the astral body, so that Manas develops out of it. All Manas which has not yet been drawn into the astral is Arupa.

Denial and affirmation of life

Schopenhauer says that the world has been built by irrational will. Therefore the reason has to destroy the irrational will, so that the world goes to ruin. Schelling, Hegel and Fichte represent a different standpoint which can be expressed in the words: “From God — to God!” Let us consider the denial and affirmation of life through a parable. I show someone a piece of magnetised iron, and I tell him that in the iron resides an invisible force, called magnetism. He replies: I want to know nothing about this force; I affirm the iron. It is much the same if someone, looking only at the things of the world, says that he affirms the world. Certainly he affirms the world, but he denies the invisible forces within it. Life is truly affirmed only by someone who seeks for spiritual realities. Anyone else denies half of life. Many Theosophists say: I don't bother about the world; I am concerned only to develop my higher self. In fact they are seeking only the lower man. The higher man is everywhere outside. If I feel the whole world in myself, then I have found my higher Self. My Self is outside me. Knowledge of the world is self-knowledge!

How does suggestion work?

Suggestion works on the Ego. The higher bodies are drawn out of the physical body, and then the Ego-body, without the physical brain, unconsciously follows the hypnotiser. The physical brain, the controller of actions, is detached. With an Initiate it is different. He retains conscious control without the aid of the physical brain, and so he cannot be hypnotised.

The “Pistis Sophia”

This book, written in the Coptic language, contains much of the discourses of Christ at the initiation of His disciples, and many inner expositions of parables. The thirteenth chapter is especially important. The (Haimarmene) is Devachan. The entire super-sensible world is divided into twelve aeons. These are the seven divisions of the astral plane and the five lowest divisions of Devachan. Aberrated spirits can be purified from out of Devachan. The light-bearing purifier before Christ was Melchisedek. He is meant when we read of light coming from the (episkopos). By (Archontes), the powers of evil are to be understood.

Conflict and arguing are not a realm for Theosophy. We should not squander time uselessly on disputes, but should speak only to those who have the heart and mind for Theosophy.

Why does Christ say: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, when previous great founders of religion had already pointed to the Way?

We must first transpose ourselves into past ways of speaking. In former times the spiritual content of speech was perceived at the same time as the words were heard. Then we can reflect on the following: Christ was the embodiment of the Second Person of the Godhead. No previous founder of a religion had embodied in himself the fullness of the Logos. But the divine element that His predecessors had embodied was a part of the Logos, and so of Christ Himself. Therefore Christ embraces everything previous to Him in the words, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”.

Then one can take these words literally, in yet another sense. The previous founders of religions had shown the Way and taught the Truth, but they did not live out the Mystery of the Godhead in the sight of men. Hence they could say, “I am the Way and the Truth”. Christ alone could say: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Now Elias means “Way”, and Moses, “Truth”. At the Transfiguration, Elias and Moses appeared with Christ. Hence the Transfiguration says: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. The passing of Buddha into Nirvana, his death, is the same as the Transfiguration of Christ. At the moment when Buddha brought his working to an end, the real working of Christ, His Life, begins.

Last Modified: 17-Oct-2020
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