The etheric body

The etheric body surrounds the physical body and is much finer than the physical body. Currents and organs of wonderful variety and splendour are active in it. The etheric body contains the same organs as the physical body. It has a brain, heart, eyes etc. They represent the forces which formed the corresponding organs. It is as if one cooled water in a vessel until it becomes ice. In this way you should picture the arising of the physical organs through the densifying of the etheric organs. The etheric body extends only a little beyond the physical body.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 – THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN: Lecture I – Berlin. 19 February 1906



What we call our world is dependent upon our capacities and organs

We are conscious of the world round about us, because we have certain capacities and organs which enable us to perceive it. If we had other organs, this world would present an entirely different aspect. For example, if a man had no eyes enabling him to see the light, but an organ enabling him instead to perceive electricity, then he would not see this room flooded with light, but he would perceive electricity in every wire, flashing, streaming through it. — The world round about us, what we call our world, is therefore dependent upon our sense-organs.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – Theosophy and Rosicrucianism: Lecture IV: Man’s Further Destinies in the Spiritual Worlds – Kassel, 19th June 1907

Previously posted on September 22, 2016 

As many worlds exist, as there are organs able to perceive them

As many worlds exist, as there are organs able to perceive them, and this is an infinite number of worlds! We are unable to perceive them to-day, because we still lack the organs of perception. [The world is not only spatially infinite, but also intensively infinite: These is a world for every organ of sense.] These worlds are still inaccessible to us yet they exist, — they exist, where we ourselves exist. The only thing needed is that our eyes should be opened, for these worlds are in our very midst.

The words of Christ: “Do not seek the Kingdom of God, for the Kingdom of God is in your midst”, should be taken literally. Also spiritual science speaks in this sense of the spiritual worlds. There have always been initiates who knew how to enter these kingdoms of heaven. Every religion speaks of these kingdoms. Spiritual science is but the means of disclosing anew this fundamental truth contained in every religion: Whatever we see and perceive round about us, is but the result and the effect of what takes place in the spiritual worlds. Whatever manifests itself upon the earth, is but the development of that which works and lives in the spiritual worlds.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – Theosophy and Rosicrucianism: Lecture I – Kassel, 16th June 1907 

Previously posted on September 19, 2016


An inner connection exists between man’s activity and his organs. He needs his organs both for the lowest and the highest impulses. He also needs them in art. When someone has once and for all absorbed everything from the world, he has no further use for his organs. Between birth and death man accustoms himself to perceive the world through his organs. After death what he is thus accustomed to must slowly be put aside. 

If he still wishes to make use of his organs to perceive the world, then he finds himself in the condition which is called Kamaloka. It is a condition in which there is still desire to perceive through the organs, which however are no longer there. If after death a person could say that he had no further desire to use his organs, Kamaloka would no longer exist for him. In Devachan everything which man formerly perceived around him with his organs, is there perceived from within — without organs. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 93a – Foundations of Esotericism – Lecture II – Berlin, 27th September 1905

Translated by Vera and Judith Compton-Burnett

Previously posted on February 8, 2017

Things that concern man cannot be found through the study of animals

The things that concern man cannot be found through the study of animals. I have often stressed this difference in public lectures, and should like to emphasise it still more here. People are in the habit of thinking: an eye is an eye, an organ is an organ, lungs are lungs, a liver is a liver, and so forth. But that is not so, the eye in man is the organ which also exists in the animal world as eye, but with a modification: it is changed by the fact that in man the ego has been incorporated. 

The same is the case with all other organs. And for the occurrences within the organs, especially in cases of disease, the permeation by the ego is of much greater importance than what happens in the animal’s organs, where there is no such permeation. This essential difference is still far too little regarded and men persist in off-hand pronouncements of this sort: “here I have a knife; well, a knife’s a knife, isn’t it? One knife is the same as another, so both, being knives, must have the same origin.” But suppose that one of these “identical” knives is a table knife, the other a razor. In that case the simple proposition that “a knife’s a knife” becomes untenable. 

It is making the same mistake to explain the human eye and the animal eye by the same methods and terms. It is simply nonsense to seek for the explanation of anything in its mere external aspect; moreover such an approach is entirely barren as a foundation for study. Study founded on animal “material” simply hinders the adequate study of certain conditions in mankind; for it is only possible to form a just estimate of the dissimilarity here, by realising that in man it is precisely the peripheral organs which are the most permeated by the ego and moulded by it.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 312 – Spiritual Science and Medicine – Lecture XIV – Dornach, April 3, 1920