Animal group-souls

You will have gathered from the lectures given here recently that when we ascend with clairvoyance into the higher worlds we there meet with beings who, it is true, do not belong to our physical world, but who are in themselves so independent that we can describe them as ‘persons’ for those worlds, just as we call men here on the physical plane ‘persons.’ 

You have seen that groups of animals of the same species together belong to a group-soul or group-ego and that on the astral plane we come upon the lion-soul, the tiger-soul, and so on, as independent personalities whom we can meet there as we meet the human being on the physical plane. 

In the same way we find in still higher regions, on the devachanic plane, the egos of quite large plant groups, and in the highest parts of Devachan we find the egos of the minerals, personalities as distinct as men are here on the physical plane. We saw in this way that in these higher worlds we meet with certain beings who, so to speak, extend part of their organism, their separate members, down into the physical plane. 

If a man were to extend his fingers through openings in a curtain or partition we should only see the ten fingers, the man himself would be behind the partition. So it is with the group-egos of the animals. Here with the physical eye we see what is extended down below as members by higher beings of the astral world, and the actual ego is behind the partition, behind that wall which separates the physical world from the astral world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 102 – The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man: Lecture I – Berlin, 6th January 1908

Previously posted on September 27, 2019

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Something of outstanding significance and importance

You will see that a man does not take with him into the world after death anything that lives in his physical and etheric bodies. That is thrown off and sinks away into the Cosmos. He takes with him only what as Ego and astral body he has experienced within his physical and etheric bodies.

Something of outstanding significance and importance follows from this. While a man is going about on Earth, he regards his physical body and his etheric body — of which he knows little, but at least he feels it in his powers of growth, and so on — as his own body, but he has no right to do so. Only his Ego and his astral body are his. Everything present in his physical body and etheric body — even while he is on Earth — is the property of the divine-spiritual Beings who live and weave within them, and continue their work while the man is absent in sleep. 

It would go badly with anyone if he had to care for his own etheric and physical bodies in continual wakefulness between birth and death. Time and time again he is obliged to hand over his physical and etheric bodies to the Gods — especially during childhood, for then sleep is the most important thing of all. Later in life sleep works only as a corrective; the really fructifying sleep is the sleep that comes to a child in the first years of its life. Thus the human being has continually to be yielding up both physical and etheric bodies to the care of the Gods. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 227 – The Evolution of Consciousness: Lecture X: Man’s Life after Death in the Spiritual Cosmos – August 28, 1923

 Translated by Violet E. Watkin and Charles Davy

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Picture / True being

Truth is, we never bring our real and inmost Ego with us from the spiritual world into the physical and earthly; we leave it in the spiritual world. Before we came down into earthly life it was in the spiritual world, and it is there again between our falling asleep and our awakening. It stays there always, and if by day — in the present form of human consciousness — we call ourselves an ‘I,’ this word is but an indication of something which is not here in the physical world at all; it only has its picture in this world.

We do not see ourselves aright if we say: ‘Here am I, this robust and real man, standing upon Earth; here am I with my inmost being.’ We only see ourselves aright if we say: ‘Our true being is in the spiritual world, and what is here of us on Earth is but a picture — an image of our true being.’ It is entirely true if we regard what is here on Earth, not as the real man himself, but as the picture of the real man.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 228 – MAN AS A PICTURE of the LIVING SPIRIT – London, 2nd September 1923

Translated by George Adams

Previously posted on April  26, 2019

Today we refer to the physical body as our own — with no notion of how unjustified this is 

While a man is going about on Earth, he regards his physical body and his etheric body — of which he knows little, but at least he feels it in his powers of growth, and so on — as his own body, but he has no right to do so. Only his Ego and his astral body are his. Everything present in his physical body and etheric body — even while he is on Earth — is the property of the divine-spiritual Beings who live and weave within them, and continue their work while the man is absent in sleep. 

It would go badly with anyone if he had to care for his own etheric and physical bodies in continual wakefulness between birth and death. Time and time again he is obliged to hand over his physical and etheric bodies to the Gods — especially during childhood, for then sleep is the most important thing of all. Later in life sleep works only as a corrective; the really fructifying sleep is the sleep that comes to a child in the first years of its life. Thus the human being has continually to be yielding up both physical and etheric bodies to the care of the Gods.

In past ages of human evolution this was so clearly perceived that the body was called the temple of the Gods, for so was its wonderful structure experienced. And in all architectural work — this can best be seen in oriental buildings, but also in those of Egypt and of Greece — the laws of the physical body and the etheric body were followed. In the very way the Cherubim are set on the temples of the East, in the attitude of a sphinx, or in the placing of pillars — in all this the work of divine-spiritual Beings in the human physical and etheric bodies has been made to live again. In the course of evolution, consciousness of this has been lost; and to-day we refer to the physical body as our own — with no notion of how unjustified this is — whereas as an earthly creation it belongs in reality to the Gods. 

Hence, when anyone to-day talks of “my body”, when he speaks of the healthy functioning of his body as due to himself, it is just an instance of the prodigious arrogance of modern man — a subconscious pride, certainly, expressed with no awareness of it, but none the less deplorable. It shows how in speaking of their bodies as their own, people are really laying claim to the property of the Gods, and this pride is embodied in their very speech.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 227 – The Evolution of Consciousness: Lecture X: Man’s Life after Death in the Spiritual Cosmos – Penmaenmawr, 28th August 1923

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Translated by Violet E. Watkin & Charles Davy

Previously posted on March 18, 2018

The first days after death

Immediately after death a man has before him, as in a mighty picture, the life which has just run its course. For several days he goes back over his whole past life, but always so that the whole life is there before him. It lies before him as in a great panorama. Now, of course, if observed more closely, it turns out that these days in their review of the past life, are as it were endowed with a certain power of observation. In a sense we regard the life during these days from the standpoint of the Ego. We see in particular everything in which our Ego was interested. We see the relations which we have with a person, but we see them in a connection with the results we ourselves obtained from them. 

Thus we do not regard things quite objectively, but see all that has borne fruit for ourselves. Man sees himself everywhere as the centre. And that is extremely necessary. For from these days when he thus sees everything which has been fruitful for him, arises that inner strength and force which he needs in the whole of his life between death and rebirth, in order there to be able firmly to retain the thought of the Ego. For we owe the power of being able to retain the Ego between death and rebirth to this vision of the last life; the power to do so really proceeds from this.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 157a – The Forming of Destiny and Life after Death: Lecture 1: Spiritual life in the physical world and life between death and rebirth – Berlin, 16th November 1915