One thing will become increasingly clear for all people as spiritual knowledge enters their consciousness: that in the sense of higher causes we have to do not at all with totally separate human individualities, but that along with the separate individualities the whole of humanity forms a unity. One will realize more and more that in the sense of a true view of the world the finger is more intelligent than the whole man, for it does not presume to be something on its own, independent of the entire human organism to which it belongs. In its dull consciousness it knows that it cannot exist without the whole organism.
But people continually embrace illusions. They fancy themselves separate by virtue of what is enclosed within their skins. This they are, however, just as little as is the finger without the whole organism. The source of the illusion is the fact that the human being can wander about and the finger cannot. We are in the same situation on earth as is the finger on our organism. The science that believes our earth is a glowing hot, fluid sphere surrounded by a hard shell upon which we humans walk about, and that this explains the earth, stands at the same level as a science that would believe that in all essential respects the human being consists of nothing more, nothing else than his skeleton, for what one perceives of the earth is the same as the skeleton in man. The rest of what belongs to the earth is of a super-sensible nature. The earth is a real organism, a real living being. When one pictures to oneself the human being as a living creature, one can think of his blood with its red and white corpuscles. These can only develop in the entire human organism and thereby be what they are. What these red and white blood corpuscles are for the human being we human beings are for the organism of the earth. We definitely belong to this earth organism. We form a part of the whole living being that is the earth, and only then do we view ourselves correctly when we say, “As single individuals we are nothing. We are only complete when we think our way into the ‘body’ of the earth, the body of which we perceive only the skeleton, the mineral shell, as long as we do not acknowledge the spiritual members of this earth organism.”
When a process of infection arises in the human organism, the entire organism is seized by fever, by illness. If we translate this into terms applicable to the earth organism we can say that what occultism maintains is true: When something immoral is done anywhere on earth it amounts to the same thing for the whole earth organism as a little festering boil on the human body, which makes the whole organism sick. So that if a theft is committed on the earth the result is that the entire earth develops a kind of fever. This is not meant merely in a metaphorical sense. It is well-founded. The whole organism of the earth suffers from everything immoral and as individuals we can do nothing immoral without affecting the whole earth.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SPIRITUAL RESEARCH FOR MORAL ACTION – Bielefeld, 6 March 1911
Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.