Leipzig, 28 June, 1906
The aim of these lectures
is to be an introduction to the theosophical world-conception and its
connections. We shall have to deal with problems such as the cause of
death, the cause of suffering, the origin of evil, and so forth. By
setting out from man, from the nucleus of his being, we shall study
the great law of reincarnation and karma, and also the origin of man,
of the Earth and of the solar system. Moreover, of the way in which
the great truths come to expression, especially in Christianity and
in the different religions.
Occultism, the wisdom of
the hidden beings, looks upon man in such a way that the visible part
of his being, the physical body, constitutes the first member. As a
material form, it is looked upon like other lifeless objects.
The second part or member
is the etheric body, which is invisible and finer than the physical
body. We may therefore say: in the upper parts of man's being, the etheric
body is the image of the physical body, but it takes on a different
form in the lower parts. A blind-born person considers the description
of a seeing person for fantasies; the descriptions of those who perceive
the etheric body clairvoyantly are treated in the same way. At present
there are about three or four hundred people and all who have this clairvoyant
capacity. But it lies dormant in every human being; for this reason
things will present a very different aspect in a hundred years. In the
near future there'll be a gigantic progress, also in the technical field.
Modern theosophy is only
the elementary part of occultism. To-day it is not possible to teach
more. The faculty of spiritual vision develops through an inner schooling.
Those who are endowed with clairvoyance see the etheric body as follows:
first of all, they must deviate their attention completely away from
the physical body, they must — so to speak — suggest it
away completely. Suggestion, hypnotism, abnormal soul-conditions, a
lowered state of consciousness, positive and negative suggestion which
harm the person on which it is practiced, all this has nothing to do
with theosophy as it is meant here. Those who develop their higher soul-forces
are able, by their will-power, to throw out of their field of vision
the whole sensory reality of a human being or object of stands before
them. The same space occupied by the physical body will then be occupied
instead by a form resembling man, consisting of an inwardly luminous
form of forces which is very much like the human being of the present
time except that the etheric body slightly projects above the head.
In plants, animals and children projects greatly by the physical head.
The third member or part
of man is the astral body. At first, it should be studied more from
the inner aspect. When a person stands before us we can touch his physical
body with our hands. Let us now leave aside the etheric body. Where
muscles, bones and nerves exist in the physical body, there are also
a certain amount of instincts, pains, joys, ideals, and passions. They
are all as real as the former. This is the astral body seen from within.
Seen from the outside, the astral body does not exist at all as far
as the power of vision of ordinary people is concerned. But when we
pass through training of the soul we learn to know also the astral body
as it appears to us as the soul-part of man. The astral body is designated
as the aura.
A wild unchecked passion
is like a dull red cloud that passes through the astral body; a pure
ideal sends out white-gold rays. The painters of past times, who were
still more closely connected with clairvoyance, used to paint this aura
in many different ways. People who have a great deal of sympathy and
love for their fellow-men are surrounded by a greenish aura; religious
feelings, religious fervor, sends out blue rays. The aura is simply
the external expression of inner instincts, passions, and so forth.
The external form of the aura is quite different from that of the physical
body and it surrounds man, and enwrapping him in a kind of oval form.
This form of light soars around the human being and sends out rays.
In a few decades these truths
will be of immense value in education, in pedagogy. Much will be gained
when spiritual science will be included in our educational system. It
is of immense importance in external life.
Let us now study the child
in regard to these three bodies. They do not develop simultaneously
in the child. From the first to the seventh year the physical body unfolds;
the other two bodies are not free and they influence the physical body
from within. Consequently, during this period, the only way of educating
a child is to work upon his physical body, for the other two members
of his being have still have to unfold. A sound education will therefore
refrain from influencing the etheric body and astral body prematurely.
From the first to the seventh year the child needs visible, perceptible
images, examples, and so forth. The child's visible environment should
therefore be a pure one, and this even applies to the thoughts of the
people around him. For a child is able to feel good and evil thoughts.
We should endeavor to sharpen and develop the child's senses. His fantasy
should be stimulated. Consequently, a child should not be given beautifully
finished things to play with. He should instead make something for himself,
a form, etc. This rouses and awakens the child and develops the forces
of his physical body. Therefore abolish beautiful toys! ...
A special change takes place
in the child during his seventh year, for a part of the etheric body
becomes free, and for this reason we should now begin to exercise an
influence upon the etheric body. In what way can we exercise an influence
upon the etheric body? Observe, to begin with, the process which takes
place when we die. Only the physical body lies there, while the etheric
body and astral body separate themselves from it and ascend. It is not
the same when we are asleep. When we are asleep, the etheric body is
still connected with the physical body lying on the bed, and only the
astral body separates itself from them. But at the moment of death something
very strange takes place in man: his whole past life lies spread out
before his memory and goes past him. Sometimes this may happen in moments
of great danger, for example when a person is drowning or suddenly precipitates
from a great height, and afterwards regained consciousness. At such
moments his whole past life rises up before his soul. What has really
occurred? His etheric body was more loosely connected with the physical
body. Something similar takes place when a part of the body “falls
asleep”, or when we underbind, tie off extremity. When a finger
is underbound a clairvoyant perceives that the finger's etheric body
is hanging down, it is loosened. In a hypnotized person this condition
is very dangerous, for his etheric brain is hanging down limply at both
sides of his physical head. Since the etheric body is the carrier of
memory, the memory-tableau rises up before us after death. When the
etheric body emancipates itself from the physical body, it can follow
its own movements and memory is more free than ever. Normally, the etheric
body fills the physical body like a dense cloud of light. And until
death, the physical body obstructs the finer influences and forces of
the etheric body.
From the seventh year onward
the forces of the child's etheric body are free and from the seventh
to fourteenth year we should therefore work upon his memory and develop
it. Since the etheric body sets forth everything in the form of images,
the child should be given images in parables and we should work upon
him with the aid of fairy tales and beautiful stories. During this period
the child accepts everything on the authority of his parents as teachers.
The astral body emancipates
itself wholly from the fourteenth to the 21st year. It begins to unfold
with puberty, consequently a little sooner in girls than boys. The astral
body is the carrier of reason, of the conscious judgment. During this
period we shall be able to influence the astral body by developing the
power of judgment. If this is attempted sooner, we sin against a child,
it would be of the greatest harm to him. A time will come to which the
science of the spirit will be applied in pedagogy.
Man shares his physical
body with everything mineral, his of etheric body with all plants, his
astral body with all the animals. But man rises above all these things
through his self-consciousness, through the little word “I”
which is unique in its kind. For “I” is the only name which
each one can only give to himself.
This is a greatly significant
fact. In the ancient Hebrew religion, the occult word “I”
could only be uttered by the highest initiate, by the High priest. This
was a solemn cultic moment. The whole congregation waited for the utterance
of the word “Jahve” (meaning “I”), and a shudder
of holy awe ran through the assembled people, who were filled with reverence.
Jahve is the God who speaks within man ... and the word Jahve (Jehovah)
was looked upon as the “unutterable name”. It is the voice
by which God begins to speak in man. Never can this word enter into
us from outside. In the word “I” the eternal touches the
We have thus learned to
know the four members of man's being: the physical body, the etheric
body, the astral body and man's nucleus, the “I”, or Ego.
At the moment of death, the etheric body, the astral body and Ego separate
from the physical body. The etheric body and astral body gradually dissolve,
until the Ego enters Devachan, where it remains until it begins a new
life on Earth.