It would be sheer boundless arrogance for man to suppose that he has attained in the slightest degree to the wisdom inherent in the formation of the external physical body

Consider our physical body; we look on it as having been formed out of the spiritual world in the primordial past as a dwelling for the human soul. Only a materialistic mind could believe that this human body had not been born originally from the spirit. Seen merely from an external point of view, the physical body must appear a miracle of perfection. What do all our intellectual ability and technical skill amount to, compared with the wisdom manifest in the structure of the human heart? Or take the engineering technique that goes into the building of bridges, and so forth — what is it compared with the construction of the human thigh-bone, with its wonderful crisscross of support members, as seen through the microscope. 

It would be sheer boundless arrogance for man to suppose that he has attained in the slightest degree to the wisdom inherent in the formation of the external physical body. And consider our soul-life, taking into account only our instincts, desires and passions — how do they function? Are we not doing all we can to undermine inwardly the wisdom-filled organisation of our body? Indeed, if we consider without prejudice the marvel of our physical organisation, we have to admit that our bodily structure is far wiser than anything we can show in our inner life, although we may hope that our inner life will advance from its present imperfection towards increasing perfection. We can hardly come to any other conclusion, even without clairvoyance, if we simply look impartially at the observable facts.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 59 – Metamorphoses of the Soul – Vol. 2: Lecture 8: Human Conscience – Berlin, 5th May 1910

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim

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Previously posted on March 4, 2015

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Wishes and desires after death (3 of 3)

Such a point of view is possible only as long as one does not consider the fact that all wishes and desires, which after death are seized by the “consuming fire,” in a higher sense represent not beneficial but destroying forces in life. By means of such destructive forces, the ego tightens the bond with the sense world more strongly than is necessary in order to absorb from this very sense world what is beneficial to it. This sense world is a manifestation of the spirit hidden behind it. The ego would never be able to enjoy the spirit in the form in which it is able to manifest through bodily senses alone, did it not want to use these senses for the enjoyment of the spiritual within the sense world. Yet the ego deprives itself of the true spiritual reality in the world to the degree that it desires the sense world without the spirit. If the enjoyment of the senses, as an expression of the spirit, signifies an elevation and development of the ego, then an enjoyment that is not an expression of the spirit signifies the impoverishing, the desolation of the ego. If a desire of this kind is satisfied in the sense world, its desolating effect upon the ego nevertheless remains. Before death, however, this destructive effect upon the ego is not apparent. Therefore the satisfaction of such desires can produce similar desires during life, and man is not at all aware that he is enveloping himself, through himself, in a “consuming fire.” 

After death, what has surrounded him in life becomes visible, and by becoming visible it appears in its healing, beneficial consequences. A person who loves another is certainly not attracted only to that in him which can be experienced through the physical organs. But only of what can thus be experienced may it be said that it is withdrawn from perception at death; just that part of the loved one then becomes visible for the perception of which the physical organs were only the means. Moreover, the only thing that then hinders that part from becoming completely visible is the presence of the desire that can only be satisfied through physical organs. If this desire were not extirpated, the conscious perception of the beloved person could not arise after death. Considered in this way, the picture of frightfulness and despair that might arise in the human being concerning the events after death, as depicted by supersensible knowledge, must change into one of deep satisfaction and consolation.

Source:Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – III. Sleep and Death

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

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Wishes and desires after death (2 of 3)

When death takes place, the possibility for the gratification of these desires is cut off. The enjoyment of appetizing food can come only through the physical organs that are used for taking in food: the palate, tongue, and so forth. After throwing off the physical body man no longer possesses these organs. But if the ego still has a longing for these pleasures, this longing must remain ungratified. In so far as this enjoyment is in accord with the spirit, it exists only as long as the physical organs are present. If it has been produced by the ego, without serving the spirit, it continues after death as desire, which thirsts in vain for satisfaction. We can only form an idea of what now takes place in the human being if we think of a person suffering from burning thirst in a region in which water is nowhere to be found. This, then, is the state of the ego, in so far as it harbors, after death, the unextinguished desires for the pleasures of the outer world and has no organs with which to satisfy them. Naturally, we must imagine the burning thirst that serves as an analogy for the conditions of the ego after death to be increased immeasurably, and imagine it spread out over all the other still existing desires for which all possibility of satisfaction is lacking. 

The next task of the ego consists in freeing itself from this bond of attraction to the outer world. In this respect the ego has to bring about a purification and emancipation within itself. All desires that have been created by it within the body and that have no inherent rights within the spiritual world must be rooted out. — Just as an object takes fire and is consumed, so is the world of desires, described above, consumed and destroyed after death. This affords us a glimpse into the world that supersensible knowledge designates as the “consuming fire of the spirit.” All desires of a sensual nature, in which the sensual is not an expression of the spirit, are seized upon by this “fire.” The ideas that supersensible knowledge must give in regard to these processes might be found to be hopeless and awful. It might appear terrifying that a hope, for whose realization sense organs are necessary, must change into hopelessness after death; that a desire, which only the physical world can satisfy, must turn into consuming deprivation. 

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – III. Sleep and Death

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

occsci1972_covs

Wishes and desires after death (1 of 3)

For the ego there are two kinds of desires in life: the desires that have their source in the bodies, and therefore must be satisfied within these bodies, ceasing with the disintegration of these bodies, and the desires that have their source in the spiritual nature of the ego. As long as the ego is within the bodies, these desires also are satisfied by means of bodily organs, for in the manifestations of the bodily organs the hidden spirit is at work, and in all that the senses perceive they receive at the same time something spiritual. This spiritual element exists also after death, although in another form. All spiritual desires of the ego within the sense world exist also when the senses are no longer present. 

If a third kind of desire were not added to these two, death would signify merely a transition from desires that can be satisfied by means of the senses to those that find their realization in the revelation of the spiritual world. This third type of desire is produced by the ego during Its life in the sense world because it finds pleasure in this world also in so far as there is no spirit manifest in it. — The basest enjoyments can be a manifestation of the spirit. The gratification that the hungry being experiences in taking food is a manifestation of spirit because through the eating of food something is brought about without which, in a certain sense, the spirit could not evolve. The ego can, however, transcend the enjoyment that this fact of necessity offers. It may long for good tasting food, quite apart from the service rendered the spirit by eating. 

The same is true of other things in the sense world. Desires are created thereby that would never have come into being in the sense world had the human ego not been incorporated in it. But neither do these desires spring from the spiritual nature of the ego. The ego must have sense enjoyments as long as it lives in the body, also in so far as it is spiritual; for the spirit manifests in the sense world and the ego enjoys nothing but spirit when, in this world, it surrenders itself to that medium through which the light of the spirit radiates. It will continue to enjoy this light even when the sense world is no longer the medium through which the rays of the spirit pass. In the spirit world, however, there is no gratification for desires in which the spirit has not already manifested itself in the sense world. 

To be continued

Source:Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – III. Sleep and Death

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

occsci1972_covs

The physical world is the expression of wisdom incarnate, divine wisdom.

Think of the marvelous structure of the femur, of the bone which bears the whole body. Its construction is such that the maximum amount of strength is produced with the minimum amount of substance. No engineer could create such a wonder-structure. In comparison with the physical body, the astral body – the seat of passions and desires – is rudimentary and crude.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 – An Esoteric Cosmology Lecture IV: Involution and Evolution  – Paris, 28 May 1906

Translated by Rene Querido

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Previously posted on May 9, 2018