we now continue our studies of karma, it is necessary for us in the
first place to perceive how karma enters into man's development. We
must perceive, that is to say, how destiny, interwoven as it is with
the free deeds of man, is really shaped and moulded in its physical
reflection out of the spiritual world.
begin with, I shall have to say a few things concerning the human
being as he lives on earth. During these lectures we have been
studying earthly man in relation to the various members of his being.
We have distinguished in him the physical body, the etheric body, the
astral body and the organisation of the Ego. But there is yet another
way of perceiving his several members, namely when we direct our gaze
upon him, simply as he stands before us in the physical world.
today's lecture — independently of what we have already been
discussing — we shall therefore approach a different
distinction of the members of the human being. Then we shall try to
build a bridge between what we discuss today and that which is
already known to us.
the human being as he stands before us on the earth — simply
according to his physical form — we can recognise in this
physical form and configuration three clearly distinct members. If
they are not generally distinguished, it is only because that which
counts as science nowadays looks at the facts in a merely superficial
way. It has no feeling for what reveals itself when these things are
observed with a perception that is illumined from within. There, to
begin with, is the head of man. Even outwardly considered, we can
perceive that this human head appears quite different from the
remainder of the human form. We need but observe the origin of man
out of the embryo. The first thing we can see developing as human
embryo is the head organisation. That is practically all that we can
see to begin with. The whole human organisation takes its start from
the head. All that afterwards flows into man's form and figure and
configuration, is, in the embryo, a mere system of appendages. As
physical form, man to begin with is head, and head alone. The other
organs are there as mere appendages. In the first period of embryo
existence, the functions these organs assume in later life — as
breathing, circulation, nutrition and so on — are not
undertaken as such from within the embryo. The corresponding
functions are supplied from without inward, so to speak: provided for
by the mother-organism, through organs that afterwards fall away —
organs that are no longer attached to the human being later on.
to begin with, is simply a head. He is altogether “head,”
and the remaining organs are only appendages. It is no exaggeration
to say that man, to begin with, is a head. The remainder is merely an
appendage. Then, at a later stage, the organs which to begin with
were mere appendages, grow and gain in importance. Therefore, in
later life, the head is not strictly distinguished from the rest of
the body. But that is only a superficial characterisation of the
human being. For in reality, even as physical form, he is a threefold
being. All that constitutes his original form — namely the
head-remains throughout his earthly life as a more or less individual
member. People only fail to recognise the fact, — but it is so.
will say: Surely one ought not to divide the human being in this way
— beheading him, so to speak, chopping his head off from the
rest of his body. That such is the anthroposophical practice was only
the fond belief of the Professor, who reproached us for dividing man
into head-, chest-organs and limb-organs. But it is not so at all.
The fact is rather this: that which appears outwardly as the
formation of the head is only the main expression of the human
head-formation. Man remains “head” throughout his whole
earthly life. The most important sense-organs, it is true — the
eyes and ears, the organs of smell and organs of taste — are in
the actual head. But the sense of warmth, for example, the sense of
pressure, the sense of touch, are spread over the whole human being.
That is precisely because the three members cannot in fact be
separated spatially. They can at most be separated in the sense that
the head-formative principle is mainly apparent in the outward form
of the head, while in reality it permeates the whole human being. And
so it is too, for the other members. The “head” is also
there in the big toe throughout man's earthly life, inasmuch as the
big toe possesses a sense of touch or a sense of warmth.
we have characterised, to begin with, the one member of the human
being as he stands before us in the sense-world. In my books I have
also described this one organisation as the system of nerves and
senses; for that is to characterise it more inwardly. This, then, is
the one member of the human being, the organisation of nerves and
senses. The second member is all that lives and finds expression in
rhythmical activity. You cannot say of the nerves-and-senses system
that it finds expression in rhythmic activity. For if it did, in the
perception of the eye, for instance, you would have to perceive one
thing at one moment and then another, and a third and a fourth; and
then return again to the first, and so on. In other words, there
would have to be a rhythm in your sense-perceptions; and it is not
so. Observe on the other hand the main features of your
chest-organisation. There you will find the rhythm of the breathing,
the rhythm of circulation, the rhythm of digestion and so forth ...
There, everything is rhythmical.
rhythm, with the corresponding organs of rhythm, is the second thing
to develop in the human being; and it extends once more over the
whole human being, though its chief external manifestation is in the
organs of the chest. The whole human being is heart, is lung; yet
lung and heart are localised, so to speak, in the organs, so-called.
It is well known that the whole human being breathes; you breathe at
every place in your organism. People speak of a skin-breathing. Only
here, once more, the breathing function is mainly concentrated in the
activity of the lung.
third thing in man is the limb-organism. The limbs come to an end in
the trunk or chest-organism. In the embryo-stage of existence they
appear as mere appendages. They are the latest to develop. They
however are the organs mainly concerned in our metabolism. For by
their movement — and inasmuch as they do most of the work in
the human being — the metabolic process finds its chief
we have characterised the three members that appear to us in the
human form. But these three members are intimately connected with the
soul-life of man. The life of the human soul falls into Thinking,
Feeling and Willing. Thinking finds its corresponding physical
organisation chiefly in the organisation of the head. It has its
physical organisation, it is true, throughout the human being; but
that is only because the head itself, as I said just now, is there
throughout the human being.
is connected with the rhythmic organisation. It is a prejudice —
even a superstition on the part of modern science to suppose that the
nervous system has anything directly to do with feeling. The nervous
system has nothing directly to do with feeling at all. The true
organs of feeling are the rhythms of the breathing, of the
circulation ... All that the nerves do is to enable us to form the
concept that we have our feelings. Feelings, once more, have their
own proper organisation in the rhythmic organism. But we should know
nothing of our feelings if the nerves did not provide for our having
ideas about them. Because the nerves provide us with all the ideas of
our own feelings, modern intellectualism conceives the superstitious
notion that the nerves themselves are the organs of our feeling. That
is not the case.
when we consciously observe our feelings — such as they arise
out of our rhythmic organism — and compare them with the
thoughts which are bound to our head, our nerves-and-senses
organisation, then, if we have the faculty to observe such things at
all, we perceive just the same difference between our thoughts and
our feelings as between the thoughts which we have in our day-waking
life, and our dreams. Our feelings have no greater intensity in
consciousness than dreams. They only have a different form; they only
make their appearance in a different way. When you dream, in
pictures, your consciousness is living in the pictures of the dream.
These pictures, however, in their picture-form, have the same
significance as in another form our feelings have. Thus we may say:
We have the clearest and most light-filled consciousness in our ideas
and thoughts. We have a kind of dream-consciousness in our feelings.
We only imagine that we have a clear consciousness of our feelings;
in reality we have no clearer consciousness of our feelings than of
our dreams. When, on awaking from sleep, we recollect ourselves and
form wide-awake ideas about our dreams, we do not by any means catch
at the actual dream. The dream is far richer in content than what we
afterwards conceive of it. Likewise is the world of feeling
infinitely richer than the ideas, the mental pictures of it, which we
make present to our conscious mind.
when we come to our willing — that is completely immersed in
sleep. Willing is bound to the limbs — and metabolic and motor
organism. All that we really know of our willing are the thoughts. I
form the idea: I will pick up this watch.
of it quite sincerely, and you will have to admit: You form the idea:
“I will take hold of the watch.” Then you take hold of
it. As to what takes place, starting from the idea and going right
down into the muscles, until at length you have an idea once more
(namely, that you are actually taking hold of the watch) following on
your original idea — all this that goes on in your bodily
nature between the mental picture of the intention and the mental
picture of its realisation, remains utterly unconscious. So much so
that you can only compare it with the unconsciousness of deep,
do at least dream of our feelings, but of our impulses of will we
have no more than we have from our sleep.
may say: I have nothing at all from sleep. Needless to say, we are
not speaking from the physical standpoint; from a physical standpoint
it would of course be absurd to say that you had nothing from sleep.
But in your soul too, in reality, you have a great deal from your
sleep. If you never slept, you would never rise to the
Click image for large view
it is necessary to realise the following. When you remember the
experiences you have had, you go backward — as along this line
(see diagram). Beginning from now, you go backward. You generally
imagine that it is so — that you go farther and farther
backward along the line. But it is not so at all. In reality you only
go back until the last time you awakened from sleep. Before that
moment you were sleeping. All that lies in this intervening part of
the line (see diagram) is blotted out; then from the last time you
fell asleep until the last time but one when you awakened, memory
follows once more. So it goes on. In reality, as you look back along
the line, you must always interpose the periods of unconsciousness.
For a whole third of our life, we must insert unconsciousness. We do
not observe this fact. But it is just as though you had a white
surface, with a black hole in the centre of it.
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You see the black hole,
in spite of the fact that none of the forces are there. Likewise it
is when you remember. Although no reminiscences of life are there
(for the intervals of sleep), nevertheless you see the black
nothingness — that is, the nights you have slept through. Your
consciousness impinges on them every time, and that is what really
makes you call yourself: “I.” If it went on and on, and
nowhere impinged on anything, you would never rise to a consciousness
we can certainly say that we have something from sleep. And just as
we have something from our sleep in the ordinary sense of earthly
life, so do we have something from that sleep which always prevails
in our willing. We pass asleep through that which is really going on
in us in every act of will. And just as we get our Ego-consciousness
from the black void in this case (referring to the diagram), so
likewise our Ego is inherent in that which is sleeping in us during
the act of will. It is, however, that Ego which goes throughout our
former lives on earth.
is where karma holds sway, my dear friends. Karma holds sway in our
willing. Therein are working and wielding all the impulses from our
preceding life on earth; only they too, even in waking life, are
veiled in sleep.
more, therefore: when we conceive man as he stands before us in
earthly life, he appears to us in a threefold form: the
head-organisation, the rhythmic and the motor-organisation. The three
are diagrammatically divided here, but we will always bear in mind
that each of the members belongs in its turn to the whole man.
Moreover, Thought is bound to the head-organisation, Feeling to the
rhythmic organisation, Willing to the motor-organisation. Wide awake
consciousness is the condition in which our ideas, our mental
presentations, are. Dreaming is the condition in which our feelings
are. Deep sleep (even in waking life) is the condition in which our
volition is. We are asleep in our impulses of will, even in waking
we must learn to distinguish two things about the head, that is,
about our life of ideation. We must divide the head, so to speak,
more intimately. We shall thus be led to distinguish between what we
have as momentary ideas or mental pictures in our intercourse with
the world and what we have as memory. As you go about in the world,
you are constantly forming ideas according to the impressions you
receive. But it also remains possible for you subsequently to draw
the ideas forth again out of your memory. Moreover, the ideas you
form in your intercourse with the world in the given moment are not
inherently different from the ideas that are kindled in you when
memory comes into play. The difference is that in the one case they
come from outside, and in the other from within.
is indeed a naïve conception to imagine that memory works in
this way: that I now confront a thing or event, and form an idea or
mental presentation of it; that the idea goes, down into me somewhere
or other, as if into some cupboard or chest, and that when I
afterwards remember it, I fetch it out again. Why, there are whole
philosophies describing how the ideas go down beneath the threshold
of consciousness, to be fished out again in the act of recollection.
These theories are utterly naïve. There is of course no such
chest where the ideas are lying in wait. Nor is there anywhere in us
where they are moving about, or whence they might walk out again into
our head, when we remember them. All these things are utterly
non-existent, nor is there any explanation in their favour. The fact
is rather as follows:
need only think of this. When you want to memorise something, you
generally work not merely with the activity of forming ideas. You
help yourself by quite other means. I have sometimes seen people in
the act of memorising; they formed ideas, they thought as little as
possible. They performed outward movements of speech — pretty
vehement movements, repeated again and again, like this (with the
arms), “und es wallet und woget und brauset und zischt”
(a line of Schiller's poem: The Diver). Many people memorise
in this way, and in so doing, they think as little as possible. And
to add a further stimulus, they sometimes hammer the forehead with
their fist. That, too, is not unknown.
fact is that the ideas we form as we go about the world are
evanescent, like dreams. It is not the ideas which have gone down
into us, but something quite different that emerges out of our
memory. To give you an idea of it, I should have to draw it thus —
Click image for large view
Of course it is only a
kind of symbolic diagram. Imagine the human being in the act of
sight. He sees something. (I will not describe the process in any
greater detail; we might do so, but for the moment we do not need
it.) He sees something. It goes in through his eye, through the optic
nerve into the organs into which the optic nerve then merges.
have two clearly distinct members of our brain — the more outer
peripheric brain, the grey matter; and beneath it, the white matter.
Then the white matter merges into the sense-organs. Here is the grey
matter (see the diagram); it is far less evolved than the white. The
terms “grey” and “white” are, of course, only
approximate. Thus, even crudely, anatomically considered it is so:
The objects make an impression on us, passing through the eye and on
into the processes that take place in the white matter of the brain.
Our ideas or mental presentations, on the other hand, have their
organ in the grey matter, which, incidentally, has quite a different
cell-structure, and there the ideas are lighting up and vanishing
like dreams. There the ideas are flickering up, because beneath this
region (compare the diagram once more) the process of the impressions
is taking place.
it depended on the ideas going down into you somewhere, and you then
had to fetch them out again in memory, you would remember nothing at
all. You would have no memory. It is really like this: In the present
moment, let us say, I see something. The impression of it (whatever
it may be) goes into me, mediated by the white matter of the brain.
The grey matter works in its turn, dreaming of the impressions,
making pictures of them. The mental pictures come and go; they are
quite evanescent. As to what really remains, we do not conceive it at
all in this moment, but it goes down into our organisation, and when
we remember, we look within; down there the impression remains
when you see something blue, an impression goes into you from the
blue (below, in the diagram), while here (above, in the diagram) you
yourself form an idea, a mental presentation of the blue. The idea is
transient. Then, after three days perhaps, you observe in your brain
the impression that has remained. Once more you form the idea of
blue. This time, however, you do so as you look inward. The first
time, when you saw the blue from without, you were stimulated from
outside by a blue object. The second time — namely now, when
you remember it — you are stimulated from within, because in
effect the blueness has reproduced itself within you. In both cases
it is the same process, namely a process of perception. Memory too is
perception. In effect, our day-waking consciousness consists in
ideation, in the forming of ideas; but there — beneath the
ideation — certain processes are going on. They too, rise into
our consciousness by an act of ideation, namely by our forming of
ideas in the act of memory. Underneath this activity of ideation is
the perceiving, the pure process of perception. And, underneath this
in turn, is Feeling.
we can distinguish more intimately, in our head-organisation or
thought-organisation — the perceiving and the activity of
ideation. What we have perceived, we can then remember. But it
actually remains very largely unconscious; it is only in memory that
it rises into consciousness. What really takes place in man is no
longer experienced in consciousness by man himself. When he
perceives, he experiences in consciousness the idea, the mental
presentation of it. The real effect of the perception goes into him.
Out of this real effect, he is then able to awaken the memory. But at
this place the unconscious already begins.
reality it is only here, in this region (see the diagram) —
where, in our waking-day consciousness we form ideas — it is
only here that we ourselves are, as Man. Only here do we really have
ourselves as Man. Where we do not reach down with our consciousness
(for we do not even reach to the causes of our memories), where we do
not reach down, there we do not have ourselves as Man, but are
incorporated in the world.
is just as it is in the physical life — you breathe in; the air
you now have in yourself was outside you a short while ago, it was
the-air-of-the-world; now it is your air. After a short time you give
it back again to the world. You are one with the world. The air is
now outside you, now within you. You would not be Man at all, if you
were not so united with the world as to have not only that which is
within your skin, but that with which you are connected in the whole
surrounding atmosphere. And as you are thus connected on the physical
side, so it is as to your spiritual part: the moment you get down
into the next subconscious region — the region out of which
memory arises — you are connected with that which we call the
Third Hierarchy: Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai. Just as you are
connected through your breathing with the air, so are you connected
with the Third Hierarchy through your head-organisation, namely the
lower head-organisation. This, which is only covered over by the
outermost lobes of the brain, belongs solely to the earth. What is
immediately beneath is connected with the Third Hierarchy: Angeloi,
let us go down into the region, psychologically speaking, of feeling:
corporeally speaking, of the rhythmic organisation, out of which the
dreams of our Feeling life arise. There, less than ever do we have
ourselves as Man. There we are connected with what constitutes the
Second Hierarchy — spiritual Beings who do not incarnate in any
earthly body, for they remain in the spiritual world. But they are
continually sending their currents, their impulses, the forces that
go out from them., into the rhythmic organisation of man. Exusiai,
Dynamis, Kyriotetes — they are the Beings whom we bear within
as we bear our own human Ego actually only in the outermost lobes of
the brain, so do we bear the Angeloi, Archangeloi, etc. immediately
beneath this region; yet still within the organisation of the head.
There is the scene of their activities on earth; there are the
starting-points of their activity. And in our breast we carry the
Second Hierarchy — Exusiai and the rest. In our breast are the
starting points of their activity.
as we now go down into our motor-organism, the organism of movement,
in this the Beings of the First Hierarchy are active: Seraphim,
Cherubim and Thrones.
transmuted food-stuffs, the food-stuffs we have eaten, circulate in
our limbs. There in our limbs, they undergo a process. It is really a
living process of combustion. For if we take only a single step,
there arises in us a living process of combustion, a burning-up of
that which is, or was, outside us. We ourselves, as Man, are
connected with this combustion process. As physical human beings with
our limbs and metabolic-organism, we are connected with the lowest.
And yet it is precisely through the limb-organisation that we are
connected with the highest. With the First Hierarchy —
Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones — we are connected by virtue of
what imbues us there with spirit.
the great question arises (it may sound trivial when I clothe it in
earthly words, but I can do no other), the question arises: What are
they doing — these Beings of the three successive Hierarchies,
who are in us — what are they doing?
answer is: the Third Hierarchy, Angeloi, Archangeloi, etc. —
concern themselves with that which has its physical organisation in
the human head, i.e. with our thinking. If they were not concerning
themselves with our thinking — with that which is going on in
our head — we should have no memory in ordinary earthly life.
For it is the Beings of this Hierarchy who preserve in us the
impulses which we receive with our perceptions. They are underlying
the activity which reveals itself in our memory; they lead us through
our earthly life in this first sub-conscious, or unconscious, region.
Click image for large view
let us go on to the Beings of the Second Hierarchy — Exusiai,
etc. They are the Beings we encounter when we have passed through the
gate of death, that is, in the life between death and a new birth.
There we encounter the souls of the departed, who lived with us on
earth; but we encounter, above all, the spiritual Beings of this
Second Hierarchy — the Third Hierarchy together with them, it
is true, but the Second Hierarchy are the most important there. With
them we work in our time between death and a new birth — we
work upon all that we felt in our earthly life, all that we brought
about in our organisation. Thus, in union with these Beings of the
Second Hierarchy, we elaborate our coming earthly life.
we stand here on the earth, we have the feeling that the spiritual
Beings of the Divine World are above us. When we are in yonder
sphere, between death and a new birth, we have the opposite idea —
the Angeloi, Archangeloi, etc., who guide us through our earthly
life, as above described, live, after our death, on the same level
with us — so to speak. And immediately beneath us are the
Beings of the Second Hierarchy. With them we work out the forming of
our inner karma. All that I told you yesterday of the karma of health
and illness — we work it out with these Beings, the Beings of
the Second Hierarchy. And when, in that time between death and new
birth, we look still further down — as it were, looking through
the Beings of the Second Hierarchy — then we discover, far
below, the Beings of the First Hierarchy, Cherubim, Seraphim, and
earthly man, we look for the highest Gods above us. As man between
death and a new birth, we look for the highest Divinity (attainable
for us human beings, to begin with) in the farthest depths beneath
us. We, all the time, are working with the Beings of the Second
Hierarchy, elaborating our inner karma between death and a new birth:
that inner karma which afterwards comes forth, imaged in the health
or illness of our next life on earth. While we ourselves are engaged
in this work — working alone, and with other human beings, upon
the bodies that will come forth in our next life on earth — the
Beings of the First Hierarchy are active far below us, and in a
strange way. That one beholds. For with respect to their activity —
a portion, a small portion of their activity — they are
actually involved in a Necessity. They, as the creators of the
earthly realm, are obliged to follow and reproduce what the human
being has fashioned and done during his life on earth. They are
obliged to reproduce it — though in a peculiar way.
of a man in his earthly life: in his Willing (which belongs to the
First Hierarchy), he accomplishes certain deeds. The deeds are good
or evil, wise or foolish. The Beings of the First Hierarchy —
Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones — are under necessity to form and
mould the counter-images thereto in their own sphere.
see, my dear friends, we live together. Whether the things we do with
one another are good or evil; for all that is good, for all that is
evil, the Beings of the First Hierarchy must shape the corresponding
counterparts. Among the First Hierarchy, all things are judged; yet
not only judged, but shaped and fashioned. Thus between death and a
new birth, while we ourselves are working at our inner karma with the
Second Hierarchy and with other departed souls, meanwhile we behold
what Seraphim, and Cherubim and Thrones have experienced through our
deeds on earth.
here upon earth the blue vault of the sky arches over us, with its
cloud-forms and sunshine and so forth; and in the night, the star-lit
sky. Between death and a new birth the living activity of Seraphim,
Cherubim and Thrones extends like a vault beneath us. And we gaze
down upon them — Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones — even as
we here look up to the clouds, and the blue, and the star-strewn sky.
Beneath us, there, we see the Heavens, formed of the activity of
Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. But what kind of activity? We behold
among the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, the activity which results as
the just and compensating activity from our own deeds on earth —
our own, and the deeds through which we lived with other men. The
Gods themselves are obliged to carry out the compensating action, and
we behold them as our Heavens, only the Heavens are there beneath us.
In the deeds of the Gods we see and recognise the consequences of our
earthly deeds — whether this deed or that be good or evil, wise
or foolish. And, as we thus look downward, between death and a new
birth, we relate ourselves to the mirrored image of our deeds, just
as in earthly life we relate ourselves to the vault of heaven above
to our own inner karma, we ourselves bring it into our inner
organism. We bring it with us on to the earth as our faculties and
talents, our genius and our stupidity. Not so what the Gods are
fashioning there beneath us; what they have to experience in
consequence of our earthly lives comes to us in our next life on
earth as the facts of Destiny which meet us from without. We may
truly say, the very thing we pass through asleep carries us in our
earthly life into our Fate. But in this is living what the
corresponding Gods, those of the First Hierarchy, had to experience
in their domain as the consequences of our deeds during the time
between our death and a new birth.
always feels a need to express these things in pictures. Suppose we
are standing somewhere or other in the physical world. The sky is
overcast; we see the clouded sky. Soon afterwards, fine rain begins
to trickle down; the rain is falling. What hitherto was hovering
above us, we see it now in the wet fields and the trees, sprinkled
with fine rain. So it is when we look back with the eye of the
Initiate, from human life on earth into the time we underwent, before
we came down to this earth, that is to say, the time we underwent
between our last death and our last birth. For there we see the
forming of the deeds of the Gods in consequence of our own deeds in
our last life on earth. And then we see it, spiritually raining down,
so to become our destiny.
I meet a human being whose significance for me in this life enters
essentially into my destiny? That which takes place in our meeting
was lived in advance by the Gods as a result of what he and I had in
common in a former earthly life. Am I transplanted during my earthly
life into a district — or a vocation — which is important
for me? All that approaches me there as outer destiny is the image of
what was experienced by Gods — Gods of the First Hierarchy —
in consequence of my former life on earth, during the time when I was
myself between death and a new birth.
who thinks abstractly will think: “There are the former lives
on earth; the deeds of the former lives work across into the present.
Then they were the causes, now they are the effects.” But you
cannot think far along these lines; you have little more than words
when you enunciate this proposition. But behind what you thus
describe as the Law of Karma, are deeds and experiences of the Gods;
and only behind all that is the other ...
we human beings confront our destiny only by way of feeling, then we
look up, according to our faith, to the Divine Beings or to some
Providence on which we feel the course of our earthly life depends.
But the Gods — namely those Gods whom we know as belonging to
the First Hierarchy, Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones — have, as
it were, an inverse religious faith. They feel their Necessity among
men on earth — men, whose creators they are. The aberrations
human beings suffer, and the progressions they enjoy, must be
balanced and compensated by the Gods. Whatever the Gods prepare for
us as our destiny in a subsequent life, they have lived it before us.
truths must be found again through Anthroposophy. Out of a
consciousness not fully developed, they were perceived by mankind in
a former, instinctive clairvoyance. The Ancient Wisdom did indeed
contain such truths. Afterwards only a dim feeling remained of them.
In many things that meet us in the spiritual history of mankind, the
dim feeling of these things is still in evidence. You need but
remember the verse by Angelus Silesius which you will also find
quoted in my writings. To a narrow religious creed, it sounds
I know that without me God can no moment live;
If I come to naught, He needs must give up the Ghost.
[From The Cherubinic Wanderer. Book I. 8.]
Silesius went over to Roman Catholicism; it was as a Catholic that he
wrote such verses. He was still aware that the Gods are dependent on
the world, even as the world is dependent on them. He knew that the
dependence is mutual; and that the Gods must direct their life
according to the life of men. But the Divine Life works creatively,
and works itself out in turn in the destinies of men. Angelus
Silesius, dimly feeling the truth, though he knew it not in its
I know that without me God can no moment live;
If I come to naught, He needs must give up the Ghost.
The Universe and the
Divine depend on one another, and work into one another. Today we
have recognised this living interdependence in the example of human
destiny or karma.