In the astral world all things appear reversed

Anyone whose senses are opened to the astral world will at first be bewildered, because there is really nothing in the physical world with which he can compare it. The astral world has a whole range of characteristics of its own and he has to learn many new things. One of the most perplexing aspects of this world is that all things appear reversed, in a sort of mirror-reflection, and he has to get used to seeing everything in a new way. For instance, he has to learn to read numbers backwards. We are accustomed to read the figures 3, 4, 5, as 345 but in the astral world we have to read them backwards as 543. Everything appears as its mirror-reflection, and it is essential to be aware of this.

The same law applies also to higher things — in the field of morality, for instance. People do not at first understand this. It may happen that they see themselves surrounded by black, malignant forms which threaten and terrify them — this happens with very many people and they mostly have no idea what it signifies. The fact is that these figures are their own impulses, desires and passions, which live in what we call the astral body. Ordinary people do not see their own passions, but these may sometimes become visible as a result of processes active in the brain and soul, and then they appear as mirror-images. You see the mirror-images of your desires in the same way as when looking into a mirror you see reflected images of the objects around you. Everything that comes out of you seems to be going into you. Further, time and events move backwards. In the physical world you see first the hen and then the egg. In the astral world you see the egg and then the hen that laid it. Time in the astral moves backwards: you see first the effect and then the cause. This explains how prophecy is possible — if it were not for this reversal of the time-sequence it would be impossible to foresee events.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE TWO: THE THREE WORLDS – Stuttgart, 23rd August 1906 

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Previously posted on March 19, 2019


Thinking during sleep

It is not true that thinking ceases during sleep; we think from the moment of falling asleep until we wake. Man’s thoughts are in perpetual flow in his ether-body, only he is unaware of it. Not until the moment when he returns to the body do the thoughts light up in his consciousness.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 224 – The Forming of Destiny in Sleeping and Waking – Bern, April 6, 1923

Previously posted on March 14, 2019

Portraits of Rudolf Steiner 0005

Apparent motives and real motives

In connection with a series of actions, a man once said to me that he had done them out of an iron sense of duty, out of infinite devotion to the cause he represented. I was bound to say to him in reply: “The opinion you have about the motives of your procedure and of your actions is no criterion whatever. Only reality is the criterion, not the opinion one may have. The reality shows that the impulse, the urge to these actions was to gain influence in a certain direction.” I said to the man quite baldly: “Although you believe that you are acting out of an iron sense of duty, you are really acting under the impulse to acquire influence and you misinterpret this way of acting as being selfless, done purely out of a sense of duty. You are not acting out of this motive but because it pleases you to act so, because it brings you certain pleasure — again, therefore, out of a certain inner impulse.”

Our opinion, our mental picture of ourselves may be extremely complicated; it may not resemble in the very remotest degree what is really dominating and weaving in the soul. it may be extremely complicated. You will admit at once that such things must be known when it is a question of living in a world of truth and not in a world of Maya; you will also admit at once that it is necessary now and then to speak of such things in a radical way! The reasons which as genuine, true reasons, drive us to our actions, can only become clear to us slowly and by degrees, when through Spiritual science, we really have knowledge of the secret connections existing between the human being and the world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 161 – The Problem of Death: Lecture 1 – Dornach, February 5, 1915


The etheric body

What has already attained the image of God today, what of the human being has come to the highest level is the human sensuous body what we see of him with eyes, what we can generally perceive with our senses. However, this is not the only what the human being has. The human being has even higher members of his nature. At first, he has a member which we call the etheric body. Someone who has developed the soul organs can see this etheric body. Because of this etheric body the human being is not only a creation in which chemical and physical forces work but a living creation that lives and is provided with growth, life and the capacity of reproduction. One can see this etheric body which is a kind of archetype of the human being, if one suggests the usual physical body away with the methods of clairvoyance that are still characterised afterwards. You know that one can achieve by the usual methods of hypnosis and suggestion that if you say to anybody that here is no lamp he really sees no lamp. Thus you are able to thoroughly suggest the room away although you look into the room. That is possible if you develop enough strong willpower in yourselves, that willpower which diverts the attention from the physical body. Then you see the room not empty, but filled with a kind of archetype. This archetype has approximately the same figure as the physical body. However, it is not through and through of the same kind, but is organised thoroughly. It is not only interspersed with fine little veins and currents, but it also has organs. This formation, this etheric body causes the real life of the human being. Its colour can be compared only with the colour of the young peach-blossom. It is no colour which is included in the solar spectrum; it is approximately between violet and red. This is the second body.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 053 – Origin and Goal of the Human Being: Lecture XVI: The Great Initiates – Berlin, 16th, March 1905


Every human being has a different organ composition

Every human being has a different organ composition. Were the instruments we possess for purposes of research fine enough, we should discover that actually every human being has a different liver composition, a different spleen composition, a different brain composition. Liver is not merely liver. In every individual — naturally, in a very delicate way — it is something different. All this is connected with the same forces which cause the plants to grow. And in beholding the plant cover of the earth we must become conscious of the fact that what pours in out of the reaches of the ether, causing the plants to grow, works and acts also in us; it produces in us the original human potentiality which has a great deal to do with our destiny. For whether a person has received this or that liver, lung, or brain composition from the etheric universe is a matter profoundly connected with his destiny.

Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – The karma Question and the Hierarchies: Lecture II: Karma – Dornach, February 17, 1924

Translated by Henry B. Monges

Previously posted  March 1,  2019