If we wish to develop an understanding of spiritual investigation we must first of all have a clear idea about the different states of consciousness which it is possible for the human soul to experience. In his normal life on Earth today man enjoys a well-defined state of consciousness which is characterized by the fact that he experiences a clear distinction between waking and sleeping, which, though not coincident in time, correspond approximately with the imaginary passage of the Sun round the Earth, that is to say, with the duration of a single revolution of the Earth on its axis. At the present time, however, this correspondence has been interrupted to some extent. If we look back into the not very distant past with its ordered system of life we find that men worked approximately from sunrise to sunset and slept from sunset to sunrise.
This ordered existence has partly broken down today. In fact, I have known men who have reversed their habits of life; they slept by day and were awake by night. I have often enquired into the reason for this. The people concerned who, for the most part, were poets and authors told me that it couldn't be helped; that sort of thing was inseparable from literary composition. Yet when I came across them at night I never found them writing poetry!
Now I wish to emphasize that for the consciousness of today it is most important that we are awake during the daytime or for a corresponding period and that we sleep for a period equivalent to the hours of darkness. Many things are bound up with this form of consciousness, amongst them that we attach special value to sense-perceptions; they become for us the prime reality. Yet when we turn from sense-perceptions to thoughts we regard them as a pale reflection without the reality of sense-perceptions.
Nowadays we regard a chair as a reality. You can set it down on the floor; you can hear the noise it makes. You know that you can sit on it. But the thought of the chair is not regarded as real. If you bash a thought on the head, believing it to be located there, you hear nothing. Nor do you believe — and rightly so, given the present constitution of man — that you could sit down on the thought of a chair. You would be far from pleased if only thoughts of chairs were provided in this hall!
And many other things are connected with this experience of consciousness, a consciousness that is related to the orbital period of the Sun. Circumstances were different for those whose life-pattern was ordered and directed by the Mysteries, by the Chaldean Mysteries, for example, of which I spoke yesterday. Those people lived at a level of consciousness quite different from that of today.
Let me illustrate this difference by a somewhat trivial example. According to our calendar we reckon 365 days to the year; this is not quite accurate however. If we continued to reckon 365 days to the year over the centuries we would eventually get out of step with the Sun. We should lag behind the positions of the Sun. We therefore intercalate a day every four years. Thus, over relatively long periods of time we return approximately to congruency.
How did the Chaldeans deal with this problem in the very early days? For long periods they used a reckoning similar to ours, but they arrived at it in a different way. Because they reckoned 360 days to the year they were obliged to intercalate a whole month every six years, whereas we reckon a leap year, with an additional day, every four years. So they had six years of twelve months each, followed by a year of 13 months.
Modern scholars have recorded and confirmed these facts. But they are unaware that this chronological difference is bound up with profound changes in human consciousness. These Chaldeans who intercalated a month every six years instead of an extra day every four years, had a completely different outlook on the world from ourselves. They did not experience the difference between day and night in the same way. As I mentioned yesterday, their daytime experience was not as clear and vivid as ours. If someone with our present-day consciousness comes into this hall and looks around, he will, of course, see the people in the audience here in sharply defined outlines, some closer together, others further apart and so on.
This was not so amongst those who received their inspiration from the Chaldean Mysteries. In those days they saw a person sitting, for example, not as we see him now, for that was rare at that time, but surrounded by an auric cloud which was part of him. And whilst we, in our mundane way, see each individual in sharply defined outlines sitting on his chair and the whole so clear-cut that we can easily count the number present, the old Chaldeans would have seen each block of chairs to the right and left of the gangway surrounded by a kind of auric cloud, drifting like patches of mist — here a cloud, there a cloud and then darker areas and these darker areas would have indicated the human beings.
This kind of visual experience would still have been known in the earliest Chaldean times, though not in later periods. By day the old Chaldeans would have seen only the dark areas of this nebulous image. At night they would have seen something very similar, even in a condition of sleep, for their sleep was not as deep as ours. It was more dreamlike. Today, if someone were asleep and you were all sitting here, he would not see anything of you at all. In olden times this deep sleep was unknown; men would have seen the visionary form of the auric cloud to the right and left with the individuals as points of light within it. Thus the difference in the perception of conditions by day and by night was not so marked in those times as it is today. For this reason they were unaware of the difference between the sunlight during the daytime and its absence at night. They saw the Sun by day as a luminous sphere surrounded by a magnificent aura.
They pictured to themselves the following: — below was the Earth; everywhere above the Earth, water, and higher still the snows considered to be the source of the Euphrates. Over all this, they thought, was the air and in the heights was the Sun, travelling from East to West and surrounded by a most beautiful aura. Then they imagined the existence of something like a funnel, as we should call it today; in the evening the Sun descended into this funnel and emerged again in the morning.
But they actually saw the Sun in this funnel. The evening Sun was seen approximately as follows: a luminous, greenish-blue centre, surrounded by a reddish-yellow halo. This was the image they had of the Sun — in the morning the Sun emerged from the funnel, luminous in the centre and surrounded by a halo. It travelled across the vault of heaven, slipped into the funnel on the Western horizon, took on a deeper hue, displayed a halo projecting beyond the funnel and then was lost to view. People spoke of a funnel or hollow space because to them the Sun was dark or black. They described things exactly as they saw them.
And again a deep impression was made upon them in those early times when they looked back to the first six or seven years of their childhood and perceived how, during those years, they were still unmistakably clothed in that divine element in which they had lived before incarnation, how, between the seventh and fourteenth year they began to emerge from the spiritual egg until the process was finally completed in their twentieth year. It was only at this age that they really felt themselves to be Earth beings. And then they realized the more keenly the difference between day and night.
They observed in themselves periodic changes in development every six or seven years. This was in accordance with the lunar phases. The Moon phases of twenty-eight days corresponded with the pattern of their own life experience of periods of six or seven years. And they felt that a Moon phase of one month was equivalent, in the life of man, to a period of twenty-eight years (4 X 7 years). This they expressed in the calendar by inserting an intercalary month every seventh year. In brief, their calculations were based on the Moon, not the Sun.
Furthermore, they did not see external nature as we do today, sharply defined and devoid of spirit. The nature they observed both by day and by night was permeated by a spiritual aura. Today we have a clear, daylight consciousness; we see nothing by night. This is shown by the importance we attribute to the Sun which causes the alternation of day and night.
In the Mystery-wisdom of the ancient Chaldeans the emphasis was placed not on the Sun, but on the Moon, because its phases were a faithful reflection of their own growth to maturity. They felt themselves to be differently constituted at each stage — as children, as youth and as adults — but we no longer experience this today. On looking back there seemed to be very little difference between the first and second seven years. Nowadays children are so very clever that we cannot hit it off with them at all! Special methods of education will have to be devised in order to cope with them. They are as clever as grown-ups and everyone seems equally clever, whatever his age.
It was not so with the ancient Chaldeans. At that time children were still linked with the spiritual world; when they grew up they had not forgotten this relationship and realized that only later had they become earthly beings, after having emerged from the auric egg. So their calculations were based not on the Sun but on the Moon, on the quarterly phases reckoned in periods of seven which they observed in the heavens. Therefore every seven years they inscribed an intercalary month, a period calculated according to the lunar phases.
This outward sign in the history of civilisations, the fact that we intercalate an additional day every 4 years, whilst the Chaldeans intercalated an additional month every 7 years, indicates that in reality, though their day consciousness was not sharply divided from their night consciousness, they experienced none the less wide differences in their states of consciousness during the successive life-periods.
Today, when we wake in the morning and rub the sleep out of our eyes, we say: “I have slept.” The ancient Chaldeans felt that they awoke in their twenty-first or twenty-second year; then they began to see the world clearly and said: “I have been asleep up to this moment.” They believed that they preserved a waking consciousness up to their fiftieth year and that in old age they did not revert to their former condition but developed a fuller, clearer vision. For this reason the old men were looked upon as the sages, who, with the consciousness acquired since the age of twenty, now entered the realm of sleep, but remained highly clairvoyant.
Thus the old Chaldeans knew three states of consciousness. We experience two, with the addition of a third which we characterize as a dream condition: waking, sleeping, dreaming. A Chaldean did not experience these three conditions from day to day; he experienced a diminished condition of consciousness up to his twentieth year, then a consciously waking condition up to his fiftieth year. And then a condition where it was said of him: he is taking his earthly consciousness into the spiritual world. He has arrived at the stage when he knows much more, is wiser than other people.
Those advanced in years were looked up to as sages; today they are considered to be in their dotage. This tremendous difference strikes at the very roots of human existence. We must be quite clear about this difference for it is enormously important for the being of man. We do not survey the world simply through a single state of consciousness. We learn to know the world only when we understand the form of consciousness which, for example, was common to the children of ancient Chaldea. It resembled our own dream state, though it was more active, capable of stimulating the individual to action. Today it would be considered to be a pathological condition. This condition of waking consciousness that we find so prosaic today and take for granted was unknown in those times. I use the term prosaic advisedly, for to concentrate on the physical aspects of man and depict them in this guise is prosaic. This would not be readily admitted, of course, but it is so. In ancient Chaldea man was perceived both as a physical entity and as endowed with an aura, as I have described. And the sages saw beyond the physical into the souls of men.
This was a third state of consciousness which is extinguished today. It may be compared to a state of dreamless sleep. If we look at the situation historically, we find that we encounter states of consciousness very different from our own, and the further back we go, the wider are the divergences. By comparison, our normal states of consciousness today are nothing much to boast of. We set no store on what a person may experience in dreamless sleep because, as a rule, he has little to relate. There are few, very few, today who can tell us anything of their experiences in dreamless sleep. Dream life, it is said, is fantasy, mere coinage of the brain; the only desirable, the only reliable state is the condition of waking consciousness.
The ancient Chaldeans did not share this attitude. The childlike condition of consciousness with its fresh and vigorous dream life that invited positive action, was held to be the condition when children still lived in a paradisal state, when their utterances proceeded from the Gods. People listened to them because they had brought a wealth of information from the spiritual world.
In the course of time they reached the state of consciousness when they were Earth beings, but in their auras they were still beings of soul, spiritual beings. This was the condition of consciousness enjoyed by the seers or sages. When people listened to them they were convinced that they were receiving communications from the spiritual world.
And of those who rose ever higher in the Mysteries it was said that in their fiftieth year they transcended the purely solar element and entered into the spiritual world; from Sun-heroes they became Fathers who were in communion with the spiritual home of mankind.
Thus, from a historical perspective, I wished to indicate to you how mankind came to share these various states of consciousness.
In exploring the states of consciousness let us set aside for a moment the dreamless sleep of present-day man and examine the ordinary waking state with which you are familiar when you say: I am fully conscious, I see objects around me, hear other people speak to me, converse with them and so on.
And then let us take the second condition, known to all of you when you imagine yourself to be asleep, when dreams arise which are often so terrifying or so marvellously liberating that you are constrained to say if you are in a normally healthy state: these things are not part of ordinary, everyday life; they are a kaleidoscopic effect created by the play of natural fantasy, and force their way into man's consciousness in the most varied ways. The prosaic type will pay little attention to dreams; the superstitious will interpret them in an external way, the poetically endowed who is neither matter of fact nor superstitious, is still aware of this kaleidoscopic life of dreams. For out of the depths of uncorrupted human nature emerges something which does not have the significance attributed to it by superstitious people but which indicates, none the less, that, in sleep, experiences rise up from the instinctual life like mists or clouds — just as mountains rise up and after long ages disappear again. Only the difference is that all this takes place rapidly in dream life, whilst in the Cosmos dream pictures are slowly built up and slowly disappear.
Dreams have another peculiarity. We may dream of snakes all around us, of snakes entwined round our bodies. Cocaine addicts, for example, will have this dream-experience of snakes in an exaggerated form. The victims of this vice feel snakes crawling out of every part of their body even when they are awake.
When we observe our own life we realize that such dreams indicate some internal disturbance. Dreams about snakes point to some digestive disorder. The peristaltic movements of the intestines are symbolized in the dream as the writhing of snakes.
Again, a man may dream he is going for a walk and comes to a place where a white post stands — a white post or stone pillar which is damaged at the top. In his dream he feels uneasy about this damaged top. He wakes up to find he has toothache! Unconsciously he feels the urge to finger one of his teeth. (I am referring to the present-day man; the man of ancient times was above such things). The typical man of today decides to go to the dentist and have the decayed tooth filled.
What is the explanation of this? This whole experience associated with a painful tooth, indicating some organic disturbance, is symbolized in a picture. The tooth becomes a ‘white post’ that shows signs of damage or decay. In the dream picture we become aware of something that is actually situated within our organism.
Or again, we have a vivid dream that we are in a room where we feel suffocated; we feel restless and uneasy. Then suddenly — we had not noticed it before — we catch sight of a stove in the corner which is very hot. The room was overheated. We now know in the dream why we could not breathe — the room was too hot. We wake up with palpitations and a racing pulse. The irregular pulse was symbolized externally in the dream. There is some malfunctioning of the organism; we become aware of it, but not immediately, as we would have done in the daytime. We become aware of it through a symbolic picture. Or we may dream that there is bright sunshine outside. The sunlight disturbs us and we become uneasy, though normally we would welcome the sunshine. We wake up and find a neighbour's house on fire. An external event is not depicted as such, but is clothed in symbolic form.
Thus we see that a natural creative imagination is at work in dreams; external events are reflected in dreams. But we need not insist upon this. The dream can, so to speak, come to life and take on its own inner meaning and essential reality. We may dream of something that cannot be related to anything in the external world. When that point is reached in gradual stages, we say that a totally different world is portrayed in our dreams; we encounter quite other beings, demoniacal or beautiful and elf-like. It is not only the phenomenal world that appears in dream pictures, but a wholly different world invades us. Human beings can dream of the super-sensible world in the form of images perceptible by the senses.
Thus the consciousness of man today has a dream life alongside his ordinary waking life. Indeed, a disposition to dreaming makes us poets. People who are unable to dream will always be inferior poets. For in order to be a poet or artist, one must be able to translate the natural stuff of dreams into the imaginative fantasy of waking life.
Anyone, for example, whose dreams draw their symbolism from external objects, as in the dream where sunshine pouring into a room symbolized a neighbour's house on fire, will feel next day an urge to compose. He is a potential musician. He who experiences the palpitation of the heart as an overheated stove will feel impelled next day to turn to modelling or architectural design. He is the potential architect, sculptor or painter.
There is a connection between these things; in ordinary consciousness they are associated in the way I have described. But we can go further. As I have described in my books Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Occult Science — an Outline, this ordinary consciousness can be developed by undertaking certain spiritual exercises — we will speak of them later — so that by concentrating on certain precise concepts and linguistic relationships, our whole inner life of thinking, feeling and willing is given added life and vigour. Through these exercises thoughts become virtually tangible realities and feelings living entities.
Then begins the first stage of modern Initiation — we carry over our dreams into waking life. But at this point misunderstandings may easily arise. We set little store on the dreams of anyone who quite naturally indulges in daydreams. But he who, in spite of his day-dreaming, retains full awareness and yet can go on dreaming because he has made his feeling and thinking more lively and vigorous than others, such an individual has taken the first steps towards becoming an Initiate. When he has reached this stage, the following takes place. Because he is a sensible person, as sober and sensible as others in his waking life, he sees his fellow men, on the one hand, as they appear to normal consciousness, the shape of their nose, the colour of their eyes, their tidy or untidy hair and so on. On the other hand, he begins to dream of something else around them, something true, namely, he dreams their aura, the inner meaning of their relationships; he begins to see with the eye of the spirit. In full waking consciousness he begins to have dreams that are meaningful and in accordance with reality. His dreaming does not cease when he wakes up in the morning, continues through the day and is transformed in sleep. But it is fraught with meaning. He sees the true character of men's souls and the spiritual source of their actions. He lives in an activity that is otherwise associated with mere reminiscences or ordinary dreams. But these dreams are a spiritual reality.
A second state of consciousness is now added to the first. Waking dreams become a form of perception higher than the normal perception of everyday life. In full waking consciousness a higher reality has been added to the reality of everyday life. In ordinary dreaming something of reality is lost; it gives us only fragments of reality, born of fantasy. But in waking dreams, as I have described them, in which everything stands revealed — the individual human form, animals and plants, in which the deeds of men are seen to be full of meaning, thereby revealing their spiritual content — all this adds something to everyday reality and enriches it.
To the perception of ordinary consciousness is added a second consciousness. One begins to see the world in a different light and this is shown most strikingly when we look at the animal kingdom which now appears so utterly different that we wonder what we really saw before. Hitherto we had seen only a part of the animal kingdom, only its external aspect. Now a whole new world is added. In each animal species, in lions, tigers and all the various genera lies something that is akin to man. This is difficult to illustrate by comparison with a human being. Please try and follow me.
Let us suppose that you add to your body by tying a string to each finger of both hands and that to the end of each string at a fixed distance you attach a ball painted with various coloured patterns. You have now ten strings. Now manipulate the strings with your fingers so that the balls are agitated in all directions. Now do the same with your toes. Now practise leaping in the air and working your toes so skilfully that a wonderful pattern is created. Thus each finger will have become longer with a coloured ball at its tip, and every toe the same.
Imagine that you can see all this as part of your human form and the whole under the control of the soul. Each ball is a separate entity, but the moment you survey it all, you have the impression that it forms a composite whole. All these balls and strings are not a part of yourself like your fingers and toes. It all forms a single whole and you are in command. If you begin to manipulate the balls and strings in the way I have indicated, then you will see the lion-soul above and the individual lions attached to it like the balls, the whole forming a unity. Previously, if you had looked at the twenty balls lying there they would have represented a world unto themselves. Now add the human being as an activating agent and you create a new situation.
The same applies to your mode of perception. You see the individual lions moving about independently; they are the balls lying around as separate units. Then you see the lion-soul endowed with self-consciousness which, in the spiritual world, resembles a human being, and the individual lions seemingly suspended like the moving balls. These individual lions are manifestations of the self-conscious lion-soul.
Thus you perceive the higher forms of every creature in the animal kingdom. Animals have something akin to man in their make-up, a soul quality which belongs to a different sphere from that of the human soul. As you go through life you emphatically bear your psychic life with its self-consciousness wherever you go. You are at liberty to impose your ego on all and sundry. This the individual lion cannot do. But another realm exists, bordering on this realm of conflicting egos. In the spiritual world the lion-souls do precisely the same. To them the individual lions are so many balls dancing at the end of a string. Consequently, when we see the true nature of the animal kingdom with our newly acquired consciousness we get something of a shock.
We enter a new world and we say to ourselves: we too belong to this other world, but we drag it down to Earth. The animal leaves something of itself behind, its group-soul or species-soul; on Earth we see only the quadruped. We drag down to Earth what the animal leaves behind in the spiritual world and acquire in consequence a different bodily form. That which lives within us belongs also to this higher world, but as human beings we drag it down to Earth.
Thus we become acquainted with another world that we are first made aware of through the medium of animals. But we need an additional form of consciousness; we must bring our dream-consciousness into our waking life and then we can gain insight into the inner constitution of the animal kingdom.
This second world may be termed the soul-world, the soul-plane or astral plane, as distinct from the physical world. We become aware of this astral world through a different form of consciousness. We must familiarize ourselves with other states of consciousness so that we gain insight into other worlds which are not the world of our everyday existence.
It is possible to strengthen and vitalize the soul-life still further. We can not only practise concentration and meditation, as described in the books I have mentioned, we can also strive to expel again this reinforced soul-content. After the most strenuous endeavours to fortify the soul-life after strengthening the thinking and feeling, we reach the point when we are able to modify it again and finally to nullify it. We are then restored to the state called the state of “emptied consciousness.”
Now, normally, a state of emptied consciousness induces sleep. This can be demonstrated experimentally. First remove all visual impressions so that the subject is in darkness. Then remove all auditory impressions so that he is enveloped in silence. Then try to eliminate all other sense-impressions, and he will gradually fall asleep.
This cannot happen if we have first strengthened our thinking and feeling. It will then be possible to empty our consciousness by an act of will and still remain awake. Then the phenomenal world will no longer be present. Our ordinary thoughts and memories are forgotten — we are in a condition of emptied consciousness and a real spiritual world at once invades us. Just as our ordinary consciousness is filled with the colours, sounds and warmth of the sense-world, so a spiritual world fills this emptied consciousness. Only when we have consciously emptied our consciousness are we surrounded by a spiritual world.
Once again we owe to something in external nature a particularly vivid apprehension of the new consciousness and its relationship to a spiritual world. Just as we become aware of the next higher level of consciousness through our different perception of the animal kingdom, so we are now able to recognize this new level of consciousness in the plant kingdom which is entirely differently constituted.
How does the plant kingdom appear to normal consciousness? We see the verdant meadows pied with flowers growing out of the mineral Earth. We rejoice in the blue and gold, the red and white of the blossoms and in the living green. We delight in the beauty of the plant world spread out before us like a carpet. We are filled with joy and the heart leaps up as we behold the Earth clothed in this brilliant, multi-coloured garment of flowers and plants.
Then we lift our eyes to the dazzling Sun and the blue vault of heaven and see the familiar clear or cloudy daytime sky. We are not aware of any connection between the Earth and the heavens, between looking down upon the flower-decked fields and up at the sky. Let us assume we have felt intense joy at the sight of this carpet of flowers spread out before us in the daytime and that we wait through a summer's day until the fall of night. We now lift our eyes to the canopy of heaven and see the stars, arrayed in their manifold shining constellations, spread out across the sky. And now a new joyous exultation from on high invests our soul.
By day then, we can look down upon the growing plant-cover of the Earth as something that fills our heart with inward joy and exultation. We can then look up at night and see the canopy of heaven that appeared so blue by day now studded with shining sparkling stars. We rejoice inwardly at the celestial beauty that is revealed to our soul. This is the response of our ordinary consciousness.
If we have perfected the consciousness that is emptied of content and yet remains awake and that is permeated with the spiritual, we can then say to ourselves when by day we survey the plant-cover and by night look up at the glittering stars: Yes, in the daytime the rich hues of the flower-decked Earth delighted and enchanted me. But what did I really see? — Then we look up at the starry hosts of heaven. To the emptied, waking consciousness, the consciousness emptied of all earthly content, the stars do more than merely shine and sparkle, they assume the most varied forms, for there, in the higher spheres, is a wondrous world of quintessential being — everywhere movement and flux, grand, mighty, sublime. Before this spectacle we bow our heads in grateful reverence and reverent gratitude, acknowledging its sublimity. We have reached the mid-stage of Initiation. We know that the real origin of the plants lies in the higher spheres. That which, hitherto, we had taken to be nothing more than the sparkle and glitter of the separate stars, that is the true being of the plants. It seems as if now for the first time we have seen the real plant-beings; as if we were seeing only the dewdrops of the violet bathed in morning dew and not the violet as such. In looking at the single star we see the single sparkling dewdrop; in truth, however, a mighty world in flux and movement lies behind. We now know what the plant-world really is; it is not to be found on Earth, but out in the Cosmos, grand, mighty and sublime. And all that we saw by day in the multi-coloured carpet of flowers is the reflected image of the higher spheres.
And we now know that the Cosmos, with its flux and movement of real forms and beings is reflected on the surface of the Earth. When we look into a mirror, we see ourselves reflected and we know that the reflection is only of our outer form, not of our soul. The heavens are not reflected on Earth so definitely, but in such a way that they are mirrored in the yellow, green, blue, red and white of the plant colours. They are a reflected image, the faint, shadowy reflection of the heavens.
We have now come to know a new world. In the higher spheres are found the “plant-men,” beings endowed with self-consciousness. And so, to the phenomenal world and astral world, we can add a third, the real spiritual world. The stars are the dewdrops of this cosmic world and the plants are its reflected image. Their appearance is not their reality; in their manifestation here on Earth they are not even an entity, but, in relation to the endlessly manifold richness of that world of transcendence from whence shine forth the separate stars like dewdrops, simply a reflected Image.
And now we discover that, as human beings, we bear within us that which is the real being of the plants in the higher spheres. We bring down into this mirrored life what the plants leave behind in the world of spirit, for the plant-beings live in that world and send down to Earth their reflected images and the Earth fills them with earthly substance. We men bring our soul-nature, which also belongs to that higher world, into this world of images. We are not mere images, but we are also spiritual beings of soul here on Earth. On Earth we participate in three worlds. We live in the physical world, where the self-consciousness of animals is not to be found; at the same time we inhabit the astral world where their self-consciousness exists and this astral world we bring down into the physical world. We also inhabit a third world, the spiritual world where dwell the true plant-beings; but the plant-beings send only their reflected images down to Earth, whereas we bring down the realities of our soul-life.
And now we can say: a being who possesses body, soul and spirit here on Earth is a human being. A being with body and soul here on Earth, but whose spirit dwells in a second world bordering on the physical world and which for that reason has less reality, is an animal. A being with only a body in the physical world, the soul in the second world and the spirit in the third world, so that the body is only a reflected image of the spirit and is filled out with terrestrial matter, is a plant.
We now have an understanding of the three worlds in nature and we know that man bears these three worlds within himself. We feel to some extent the plants reaching up to the stars. As we look at the plants we say to ourselves: here is a being which manifests only its reflected image on Earth, an image detached from its true reality. The more we direct our gaze to the stars at night, the more do we see its true being in the higher worlds. When we look from Earth to Heaven and perceive the Cosmos to be one with the Earth, then we see the world of nature as a totality.
Then we look back at ourselves as human beings and say: we have insulated within our earthly being that element which, in the plants, reaches up to the heavens. We bear within ourselves the physical, astral and spiritual worlds.
To develop clear, objective perception, to follow nature through the different realms so that we come to know the spiritual world, to gain insight into man, so that we divine his spiritual essence — this is to undertake the first steps in spiritual investigation.