Rudolf Steiner Archive 

Awakening Anthroposophy
in the World

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AST time we tried to learn what the being of man is, and arrived at the result that man is a supersensible being who cannot be examined by the forces of the intellect which are directed to the external sense world. If we are to consider the being of man we have to proceed from sense observation to that of the supersensible and that is what the spiritual investigator does. He is able to do so when in himself these powers of soul and spirit possessed by every man are fully developed. The ordinary normal man of the present day has not yet achieved this in himself so he cannot of himself examine the being of man, but he can understand with his logical thought what the spiritual investigator tells him, and take the results of spiritual science as hypotheses to work upon as is done in external science. He can compare what the spiritual investigator gives him as a result of his methods with our daily experience, and with the results of external research, and he will find that through the results of spiritual investigations the results of external investigations are confirmed and on the other hand that external science supplies us, through its results, with confirmation of what the spiritual investigator has to say. But we are in no way bound out of loyalty or belief to take what spiritual science tells us. So many of the riddles of existence which will never be solved by the results of external research, if we limit ourselves to that, have become riddles just because we have stood by it; and many of the riddles of existence find their explanation through results of supersensible investigations.

What these have to say on the true nature of man, on the supersensible world, etc., can be again understood by us when we measure it by what we daily meet and by that with which we are surrounded, in short, by our life. Experience is for supersensible facts what logical proof is for abstract thought. Logical proof is also no other than an experiencing, it is an experiencing of the human understanding. But there is also an immediate experiencing which means that we can grasp a truth with our “I,” we can perceive a truth at once as such. For what we have so experienced we need no logical proof, just as we need no one to prove to us that there exist animals, flowers, stones, etc. And when we measure the truths of spiritual science either by scientific results or by life, we find that they agree, that is, that they are in harmony with the laws of nature, with the laws of our thought or with life. So that we are not expected to take our beliefs in authority in regard to the results of scientific investigations into the spiritual, even when we ourselves are not yet open to the spiritual worlds; we can know and understand the being of men, even though man is a supersensible being.

To-day we shall try to get to know the ego of man somewhat better, this ego that is so hidden, so elusive for external observation, that we are never in a position to give it a name. As we saw in the last lecture, we can give a name to every external object, but it is not so in regard to the spiritual being of man. We cannot use the word “I” to designate anyone else. Each of us can only call himself “I” and only from our inner beings; the soul can only designate itself as “I” of itself. For the outer world this “I” of man only reveals itself in deeds. It is only when we observe the activity of man, throughout his life, that we can say we know the man. Man's “I” can express itself also through speech, but speech is no longer what it originally was, nor what it should be: the expression of thought interpenetrated by feeling. If it were we could not lie, and speech would be indeed an expression of our “I.”

Of those men who have purified their feeling-life from egoism, who have put their thought to the service of truth, we can say that speech is again what it was originally: the expression of the thought of man interpenetrated by feeling.

But the words of such a man are also deeds, and they are, moreover, seeds laid in the hearts of the hearers, which grow as truths, unless “they fall on stony ground, or among thorns or are eaten up by birds.” The “I” of a man who has not yet worked in this way upon himself, expresses itself for the outer world in reality only in his activity, in his deeds.

But what about our own “I?” How does it express itself for us ourselves? Have we the possibility to get to know our own “I” better when we want to do so? These questions are important, if we are men as individuals, and have learnt that we must take our development into our own hands. Then we shall know this ego, — we must learn to know it in order to have a firm basis on which to stand firmly for our work upon ourselves.

We can indeed get to know our “I” because it expresses itself for us in our thinking, feeling and willing, in what in fact we call our soul-life. This soul-life is the expression of our “I” for ourselves; it is our own world in us, that we ourselves have created, it is the world of our “I.” Here is the “I” at home, here it shows what it is, unadorned and unhindered. In our soul-life we can listen to it and learn to know it if we honestly seek self-knowledge.

In order to see clearly how the “I” is established in soul-activity, let us for a short time consider the physical being of man in which the “I” dwells between birth and death. This physical condition consists as we have seen, of physical body, etheric or life-body, and sentient or consciousness body, also called the astral body. Dependent upon this bodily state is the “I” dwelling in you; it perceives the external world through the impressions of the senses, and reacts to these impressions through feeling; it responds from within to the impressions of the outer world. That is the first and most primitive expression of the “I” in man, and is in Spiritual Science called the sentient soul.

The “I” can also so function that it reflects upon what has been thus announced to it of the external world. And this expression of the “I” in Spiritual Science is called the intellectual soul.

The “I” can moreover be conscious of its spiritual nature and can bring to life in itself the eternally true, and the truly good, can give itself up to the world of spirit, as in the sentient soul it gave itself to the world perceived by the senses. This third kind of activity of the “I” in the physical body is called in Spiritual Science the consciousness soul.

So we have three kinds of activity of the “I” in the physical body, and these make up our inner life, our soul life. Souls is what spiritual science calls this three-fold expression of the “I” in the physical body, it shows too, the soul of man consists of three members — the sentient soul, the intellectual soul, and the consciousness or spiritual soul. The being of man as it is to-day is made up of these three. But we have seen that man is capable of development, and have recognised that he is called to be an “I” being, to guide the work of nature onwards, and that he must begin this activity with work upon himself. This work consists therein, that the “I” must become more and more conscious of its spirituality, that its whole thinking, feeling and willing be interpenetrated with this consciousness. The “I” must be a fully conscious ruler in the physical body, even over the physical body.

In order to be ruler of the astral body, the “I” must be more and more spiritual soul, that is, it must give itself up to the spiritual, must open itself to the eternally true and the truly good, just as the ordinary man opens himself and gives himself to the world of the senses.

It can seize hold of the eternally true and the truly good, it can grasp the spiritual and take it up into its own being, then it gives forces to the astral body and illuminates the motives, desires and passions, transforms them into spiritual powers and so transforms the astral body, spiritualises it. Through this astral, transformed by the “I,” the “I” itself is born into the spiritual worlds, and begins there to build up for itself a spiritual body out of spiritual matters and powers, just as the physical itself is built up out of physical matter and powers.

This individualised spiritual, embraced by the “I,” is called by the spiritual investigator the spirit-self, and the transformation of the astral body into the spirit self is shown to be the task of our time, which must redeem this materialistic age.

Through the spirit-self will man be born into the spiritual worlds, and the spiritual will be his eternal nourishment. Just as man is separated from the whole of the physical world surrounding him as a physical being although his physical nature is built up out of the same materials and powers, so is he in the spiritual worlds also an individual being, separated from the existence of the spiritual world around him. This independent spiritual being is called in spiritual science the spirit-man.

The spirit-man lives in a certain sense, in his spiritual sheath just as man in the physical world lives in his body. This spirit-man will be built up in the same way, through a spiritual life force, as the physical body through its physical life force; this spiritual life force is called by the spiritual investigator the life-spirit. So the spiritual life of man is also composed of three members, — the spirit-self, the life-spirit, and the spirit-man. But to-day we have only evolved of this spiritual being of man so much as the ego bears in itself of the true and the good.

Now can we at last recognise the entire being of man not only as it is to-day, but also as it must grow in the future within the spiritual worlds. And it consists of body, soul and spirit. The physical consists of the physical body, the etheric or life-body, and the astral or sentient soul-body. The soul is the three-fold expression of the “I” in the physical bodily nature; and the spirit consists of spirit-self, life-spirit, and spirit man. [See further in “Theosophy,” the chapter on “The Constitution of the Human Being”; and in “Outline of Occult Science,” the chapter on “The Nature of Man.”]

But of the spiritual being of man we have to-day built up only as much as the “I” bears in itself of the eternally true and the truly good. That is the nourishment through which the spiritual being of man can boundlessly grow, and spiritual science or anthroposophy, will allow man to take of this nourishment, now, so that he can fulfil his task, so that he can transform his astral body into the spirit-self, and become a citizen of the spiritual worlds, so that in the future, he can become capable of fulfilling his task in the physical world out of impulses drawn from the spiritual worlds.

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