Steiner Online Library Spiritual Science for Human Evolution

GA 9

3. The Three Worlds

1. The Soul World

Our study of man has shown that he belongs to three worlds. From the world of physical corporality are taken the materials and forces that build up his body. He has knowledge of this world through the perceptions of his outer physical senses. Anyone trusting to these senses alone, and developing only their perceptive capacities, can gain for himself no enlightenment concerning the two other worlds, the soul-world and the spiritual. A man's ability to convince himself of the reality of a thing or a being depends on whether he has an organ of perception, a sense for it. It may, of course, easily lead to misunderstandings if one calls the higher organs of perception “spiritual senses,” as is done here: for in speaking of “senses” one involuntarily connects with them the thought of the “physical.” The physical world is in fact designated the “sensible,” in contradistinction to the “spiritual.” In order to avoid this misunderstanding, one must take into account that “higher senses” are spoken of here only in a comparative or metaphorical sense. As the physical senses perceive the physical, the soul and spiritual senses perceive the soul and spiritual worlds. The expression “sense” is used as meaning simply “organ of perception.” Man would have no knowledge of light and colour had he not an eye able to sense light; he would know nothing of sound had he not an ear able to sense sound. In this connection the German philosopher Lotze rightly says, “Without a light-sensing eye, and a sound-sensing ear, the whole world would be dark and silent. There would be in it just as little light or sound as there could be toothache without the pain-feeling nerve of the tooth.” In order to see what is said here in the right light, one need only think how entirely differently the world must reveal itself to man on the one hand, and on the other to the lower forms of animal life that have only a kind of sense of touch or sense of feeling spread over the whole surface of their bodies. Light, colour and sound certainly cannot exist for them in the same way as for beings endowed with ears and eyes. The vibrations which the firing of a gun causes, may also have an effect on them if they are struck by them. But in order that these vibrations of the air should present themselves to the soul as a report, an ear is necessary. And an eye is necessary in order that certain processes in the fine matter called ether should reveal themselves as light and colour. A man only knows something about a being or thing because through one of his organs he receives an effect from it. This relationship of man with the world of realities is excellently brought out by Goethe when he says, “It is really in vain that we try to express the nature of a thing. We are aware of activities, and a complete history of these activities would indeed embrace the nature of that thing. We endeavour in vain to describe the character of a man: if instead we put together his actions and deeds, a picture of his character will present itself to us. Colours are the deeds of fight, deeds and sufferings ... colours and fight are indeed linked in most intimate relationship, but we must think of them both as belonging to the whole of Nature; for through them the whole of Nature is engaged in revealing herself to the sense of the eye especially. In like manner Nature reveals herself to another sense ... Nature thus speaks downwards to other senses, to known, mis-known and unknown senses; she thus speaks with herself and to us through a thousand phenomena. To the attentive she is nowhere either dead or silent.” It would not be correct to interpret this saying of Goethe's as though by it the possibility of knowing the essential nature of things were denied. Goethe does not mean that one perceives only the activity of a thing, and that its nature is hidden behind this. He means rather that one should not speak at all of a “hidden being.” The being is not behind its revelation; it comes on the contrary, into view through the revelation. But this being is in many respects so rich that it can reveal itself to other senses in yet other forms. That which reveals itself does belong to the being: only — on account of the limitations of the senses — it is not the whole being. This thought of Goethe's corresponds entirely with the views of spiritual science set forth here.

As in the body eye and ear develop as organs of perception, as senses for bodily processes, so is man able to develop in himself soul and spiritual organs of perception through which the soul and spiritual worlds will be opened to him. For those who have not such higher senses, these worlds are “dark and silent,” just as for a being without eyes and ears the bodily world is “dark and silent.” It is true that the relation of man to these higher senses is rather different from his relation to the bodily senses. It is good Mother Nature who sees to it, as a rule, that these latter are fully developed in him. They come into existence without his help. But on the development of his higher senses he must work himself. If he wishes to perceive the soul- and spirit-worlds, he must develop soul and spirit, as Nature has developed his body so that he may perceive the corporeal world around him and guide himself in it. Such a development of the higher organs not yet developed for us by Nature herself is not unnatural; for in the higher sense all that man accomplishes belongs also to Nature. Only he who is ready to maintain that man should remain standing at the stage at which he left the hand of Nature could call the development of the higher senses unnatural. By him the significance of these organs is “mis-known,” in the sense of the quotation from Goethe. Such a one might just as well oppose all education, for this also develops further the work of Nature. And he would have to oppose especially operations upon those born blind. For almost the same thing happens to that man who awakens the higher senses in himself, in the way set forth in the last part of this book, as happens to the person born blind and operated upon. The world appears to him with new qualities, events, and facts, of which the physical senses reveal nothing to him. It is clear to him that through these higher organs he adds nothing arbitrarily to the reality, but that without them the essential part of this reality would have remained hidden from him. The soul- and spirit-worlds are not to be thought of alongside or outside the physical world; they are not separated in space from it. Just as for persons born blind and operated upon, the previously dark world flashes out in light and colours, so do things which previously were only corporeal phenomena, reveal their soul- and spirit-qualities to one who is, in soul and spirit, awakened. It is true, moreover, that this world then becomes filled with other occurrences and beings that remain completely unknown to one whose soul- and spirit-senses are not awakened. (The development of the soul- and spirit-senses will be spoken of in a more detailed way farther on in this book. Here these higher worlds themselves will be first described. Anyone who denies the existence of these worlds says nothing more than that he has not yet developed his higher organs. The evolution of mankind is not terminated at any one stage; it must always progress. 1See also under Addenda p. 69.

The “higher organs” are often involuntarily pictured as too similar to the physical ones. It should, however, be realised that these organs are spiritual or soul-formations. One ought not to expect, therefore, that what is perceived in the higher worlds will be only a cloudy, attenuated form of matter. As long as something of this kind is expected one can come to no clear idea as to what is really meant here by “higher worlds.” For many persons it would not be nearly as difficult as it actually is to know something about these higher worlds, the elementary part, that is to say, if they did not form the idea that what they will see is again physical matter rarefied. Because they presuppose something of this kind, they are not, as a rule, at all willing to recognise what they are really dealing with. They look upon it as unreal, refuse to acknowledge it as something that satisfies them, and so on. True, the higher stages of spiritual development are accessible only with difficulty; but those stages which suffice for the perception of the nature of the spiritual — and that is already a great deal — would not be at all difficult to reach, if people would from the first free themselves from the preconception which consists in picturing to themselves the soul and the spiritual merely as being of a finer physical nature.

Just as we do not wholly know a man when we have formed a picture of his physical exterior only, so also we do not know the world around us if we know in it only what the physical senses reveal to us. And just as a photograph becomes intelligible and living to us when we have become so intimately acquainted with the person photographed as to know his soul, so can we really only understand the corporeal world if we learn to know its soul- and spiritual-basis. For this reason it is advisable to speak, first about the higher worlds, the soul- and spirit-worlds, and only then judge of the physical from the standpoint of spiritual science.

At this present stage of civilisation certain difficulties are encountered by anyone speaking about the higher worlds. For the greatness of this age consists above all in the knowledge and conquest of the physical world. Our words have, in fact, received their stamp and significance in relation to this physical world. Nevertheless we must make use of these current words so as to link on to something known. This opens the door to many misunderstandings on the part of those who will trust only their external senses. Much can at first be expressed and indicated only by means of similes and comparisons. It must be so, for such similes are a means by which man is first directed to these higher worlds, and through which his own ascent to them is furthered. (Of this ascent we shall speak in a later chapter, when the development of the higher organs of perception will be dealt with. To begin with, knowledge of the higher worlds must be gained by means of similes. Only then is man ready to acquire for himself the power to see into them.)

As the substances and forces which compose and govern our stomach, our heart, our brain, our lungs, etc., come from the physical world, so do our qualities of soul, our impulses, desires, feelings, passions, wishes, sensations, etc., come from the soul-world. The soul of man is a member of this world, just as his body is part of the physical-corporeal world. If one wants at the outset to indicate a difference between the corporeal and soul-worlds, one could say that the latter is in all its objects and entities much finer, more mobile and plastic than the former. But it must be kept clearly in mind that on entering the soul-world one enters a world entirely different from the physical. If, therefore, “coarser” and “finer” be spoken of in this respect, readers must be fully aware that one is suggesting by means of a comparison something that is fundamentally different. It is the same with all that is said about the soul-world in words borrowed from the world of physical corporality. Taking this into account, it can be said that the formations and beings of the soul-world consist in the same way of soul-materials and are directed in the same way by soul-forces, as is the case in the physical world with physical substances and physical forces.

Just as spatial extension and spatial movement are peculiar to corporeal formations, so are susceptibility and impelling desire peculiar to the things and beings of the soul-world. For this reason the soul-world is described as the world of desires or wishes, or as the world of longing. These expressions are borrowed from the human soul-world. One must therefore hold fast to the idea that the things in those parts of the soul-world which lie outside the human soul are just as different from the soul-forces within it, as the physical substances and forces of the external corporeal world are different from those parts which compose the physical body. (Impulse, wish, longing, are names for the material of the soul-world. To this material, let us give the name of “astral.” If one pays more attention specifically to the forces of the soul-world, one can speak of “desire-reality.” But it must not be forgotten that the distinction between “matter” and “force” cannot be as sharply drawn as in the physical world. An impulse can just as well be called “force” as “matter.” )

The differences between the soul-world and the physical have a bewildering effect on one who obtains a view of the soul-world for the first time. But that is also the case when a previously inactive physical sense has been opened. The man born blind, when operated upon, has first to learn to guide himself through the world which he has previously known only by means of the sense of touch. Such a man, for example, sees the objects at first in his eyes, then he sees them outside himself, but they appear to him as if painted on a flat surface. Only gradually does he grasp perspective and the spatial distance between things, and so on. In the soul-world entirely different laws prevail from those in the physical. Now it is true that there are many soul-formations bound to those of the other worlds. The soul of man, for instance, is bound to the human body and to the human spirit. The occurrences to be observed in it are therefore influenced at the same time by the bodily and the spiritual worlds. This has to be taken into account in observing the soul-world; and one must take care not to claim as a law of the soul-world occurrences due to the influence of another world. When, for example, a man sends out a wish, that wish is brought to birth by a thought, by a conception of the spirit whose laws it accordingly follows. But just as the laws of the physical world can be formulated disregarding, for example, man's influence on it, so the same thing is possible with regard to the soul-world.

An important difference between soul and physical processes can be expressed by saying that interaction in the former is much more inward than in the latter. In physical space there prevails, for example, the law of “impact.” When an ivory ball strikes another which is at rest, the latter moves in a direction which can be calculated from the motion and elasticity of the former. In soul-space, the mutual action of two forms which meet depends on their inner qualities. If they are in affinity they mutually interpenetrate each other and as it were grow together. They repel each other if their essential beings conflict. In physical space there are, for example, definite laws of vision. Distant objects diminish in perspective. When one looks down an avenue, the distant trees appear, according to the laws of perspective, to stand at shorter distances from each other than the near ones. In soul-space, on the contrary, all objects near and far appear to the clairvoyant at those distances from each other which are due to their inner nature. This is naturally a source of all manner of mistakes for those who enter the soul-world, and wish to become at home there by the help of the principles they bring with them from the physical world.

One of the first things that a man must acquire in order to make his way about the soul-world, is the power to distinguish the various kinds of forms found there in a similar manner to that in which solid, liquid, airy or gaseous bodies are distinguished in the physical world. In order to do this one must know the two basic forces which are the most important here. They may be called sympathy and antipathy. According to the way in which these basic forces work in any soul-formation, its nature is decided. The force with which one soul-formation attracts others, seeks to fuse with them, to make its affinity with them effectual, must be designated as sympathy. Antipathy, on the other hand, is the force with which soul-formations repel, exclude each other in the soul-world, with which they assert their separate identity. The part played in the soul-world by a soul-formation depends upon the proportion in which these basic forces are present in it. One has to distinguish, in the first place, between three kinds of soul-formations according to the manner in which sympathy and antipathy work in them. These kinds differ from each other in that sympathy and antipathy have in them definitely fixed mutual relationships. In all three, both basic forces are present. Let us take, to begin with, a formation of the first kind. It attracts other formations in its neighbourhood by means of the sympathy ruling in it; but besides this sympathy there is at the same time present in it antipathy, through which it repels certain things in its surroundings. From the outside such a formation appears to be endowed with the forces of antipathy only. That, however, is not the case. There is sympathy and antipathy in it, but the latter predominates. It has the upper hand over the former. Such formations play a self-seeking role in soul-space. They repel much that is around them, and lovingly attract only little to themselves. They therefore move through soul-space as unchangeable forms. The force of sympathy in them makes them appear avaricious, with a greed that seems insatiable, as though it could never be satisfied. That is because the predominating antipathy repels so much of what approaches, that no satisfaction is possible. If one wishes to compare this kind of soul-formation with something in the physical world, one can say that it corresponds with the solid physical body. This region of soul-substance may be called Burning Desire. That portion of this Burning Desire which is mingled with the souls of animals and men determines in them what one calls the lower sensual impulses, their dominating selfish instincts.

The second kind of soul-formation is that in which the two basic forces preserve a balance, in which, accordingly, antipathy and sympathy act with equal strength. They approach other formations with a certain neutrality; they act on them as if related, but without especially attracting or repelling. They erect no solid barrier, as it were, between themselves and their surroundings. They constantly allow other formations in their surroundings to act on them; one can therefore compare them with the fluids of the physical world. And there is nothing of greed in the way in which such formations attract others to themselves. The activity meant here may be recognised, for example, when the human soul receives the sensation of a certain colour. If I have the sensation of a red colour, I receive to begin with a neutral excitation from my surroundings. Only when there is added to this excitation pleasure in the red colour does another soul-activity come into play. That which produces the neutral excitation is the action of soul-formations standing in such mutual relationship that sympathy and antipathy preserve an equal balance. The soul-substance here being considered, must be described as a perfectly plastic and mobile substance. Not self-seeking like the first it moves through soul-space in such a way that its being receives impressions everywhere, and it shows itself to have affinity with much that approaches it. An expression that might be applied to it is Flowing Susceptibility.

The third degree of soul-formation is that in which sympathy has the upper hand over antipathy. Antipathy produces the self-seeking self-assertion; this, however, retires into the background when inclination towards the things around takes its place. Let us picture such a formation within soul-space. It appears as a centre of an attracting sphere which spreads over the objects around it. Such formations must be specially designated as Wish-Substance. This designation appears to be the right one, for although antipathy, relatively weaker than the sympathy, is there, the attraction works in such a way as to bring the attracted objects within the soul-formation's own sphere. The sympathy thus receives an underlying tone of selfishness. This wish-substance may be likened to the airy or gaseous bodies of the physical world. As a gas strives to expand on all sides, so does the wish-substance spread itself out in all directions.

Higher grades of soul-substance render themselves distinguishable by the fact that in them one of the basic forces, namely antipathy, retires completely into the background, and sympathy alone shows itself as the one really effective factor, which is able to express itself primarily within the various parts of the soul-formation itself. These parts act upon each other in mutual attraction. This force of sympathy within a soul-formation comes to expression in what one calls liking. And each lessening of this sympathy is disliking. Disliking is only lessened liking, as cold is only a lessened warmth. Liking and disliking compose what fives in man as the world of feeling in the strict sense of the word. Feeling is the activity of the soul within itself. What one calls soul-comfort depends on the way in which the feelings of liking and disliking interact within the soul.

A still higher grade is occupied by those soul-formations whose sympathy does not remain shut up within the region of their own life. They differ from the three lower grades, as does in fact the fourth also, in that in them the force of sympathy has no opposing antipathy to overcome. It is only through these higher orders of soul-substance that the manifold variety of soul-formations can unite and form a common soul-world. In so far as there is any appearance of antipathy, it is when the soul-entity approaches some other object for the benefit of its own life, in order that it may itself be strengthened and enriched by the other. Where antipathy is stilled, the other object is received as a revelation, a source of discovery. This higher form of soul-substance plays in soul-space a similar role to that played by light in physical space. It causes a soul-entity to absorb into itself, as it were, the being or essence of others for their sake, or, in other words, to let itself be shone upon by them. It is only by drawing upon these higher regions that the soul-entities are awakened to their true soul-life. Their dull, darkened life opens outwards, and begins to shine and ray out into soul-space; the sluggish, dull weaving within itself which seeks to shut itself off through antipathy when only the substances of the lower regions are present, becomes force and mobility, which goes forth from within and pours itself outwards in streams.

The Flowing Susceptibility of the second region is only effective when formations meet each other. Then, indeed, the one streams over into the other. But contact is essential. In the higher regions there prevails a free out-raying and outpouring. Rightly does one describe the essential nature of this region as an “out-raying,” for the sympathy which is developed acts in such a way that one can use as symbol for it the expression taken from the action of light. As a plant languishes in a dark cellar, so do the soul-formations without the soul-substances of the higher regions which give them life. Soul-Light, Active Soul-Force and the true Soul-Life, in the strict sense, belong to these higher regions, and thence pour themselves into the soul-beings.

Thus we have to distinguish between three lower and three higher regions of the soul-world; and these two are linked together by a fourth, so that there results the following division of the soul-world:

  1. Region of Burning Desires.
  2. Region of Flowing Susceptibility.
  3. Region of Wishes.
  4. Region of Attraction and Repulsion.
  5. Region of Soul-Light.
  6. Region of Active Soul-Force.
  7. Region of Soul-Life.

Throughout the first three regions, the soul-formations receive their qualities from the relative proportions of sympathy and antipathy; throughout the fourth region sympathy weaves its web within the soul-formations themselves; throughout the three highest, the power of sympathy becomes ever more and more free; illumining and quickening, the soul-substances of this region waft through soul-space, awakening that which, if left to itself, must lose itself in its own separate existence.

For the sake of clarity it is here emphasised, though it should be superfluous, that these seven divisions of the soul-world do not represent regions separated one from another. Just as in the physical world, solid, liquid and airy or gaseous substances interpenetrate, so do Burning Desire, Flowing Susceptibility, and the forces of the World of Wishes in the soul-world. And as in the physical world, warmth penetrates bodies and light illumines them, so is it the case in the soul-world with attraction and repulsion, and with the Soul-Light. And something similar takes place with regard to the Active Soul-Force and the true Soul-Life.

2. The Soul in the Soul-world After Death

The soul is the connecting link between the spirit of man and his body. Its forces of sympathy and antipathy which, owing to their mutual relationship, bring about soul-manifestations such as desire, susceptibility, wish, liking, aversion, etc., are not only active between soul-formations and soul-formations, but they manifest themselves also in relation to the beings of the other worlds, the physical and the spiritual. While the soul lives in the body it participates to a certain extent in all that takes place in the body. When the physical functions of the body proceed with regularity, pleasure and comfort arise in the soul; if these functions are disturbed, aversion and pain arise. And the soul has its share in the activities of the spirit also; one thought fills it with joy, another with abhorrence; a correct judgment has the approval of the soul, a false one its disapproval. The stage of evolution of a man depends, in fact, on whether the inclinations of his soul move more in one direction or in another. A man is the more perfect, the more his soul sympathises with the manifestations of the spirit; he is the more imperfect the more the inclinations of his soul are satisfied by the functions of the body.

The spirit is the central point of man, the body the instrument by which the spirit observes and learns to understand the physical world and through which it acts in it. But the soul is the intermediary between the two. It releases the sensation of the tone from the physical impression which the vibrations of the air make on the ear; it experiences pleasure in this sound. All this it communicates to the spirit, which thereby attains to the understanding of the physical world. A thought which arises in the spirit is translated by the soul into the wish to realise it, and only through this can it become deed, with the help of the body as instrument. Now man can fulfil his destiny only by allowing his spirit to direct the course of all his activity. The soul can by its own power direct its inclinations just as readily to the physical as to the spiritual. It sends as it were, its feelers down into the physical as well as raising them into the spiritual. By sinking them into the physical world the soul's own being becomes saturated and coloured by the nature of the physical. But since the spirit is able to act in the physical world only through the soul as intermediary, it also receives in this way the direction towards the physical. Its formations are drawn towards the physical by the forces of the soul. Observe, for example, an undeveloped man. The inclinations of his soul cling to the functions of his body. He feels pleasure only in the impressions made by the physical world on his senses. His intellectual life too is thereby completely drawn down into this region. His thoughts are used only to satisfy his demands on the physical life. Since the spiritual Self lives from incarnation to incarnation, it is intended to receive its direction ever increasingly out of the spiritual. Its knowledge should be determined by the spirit of eternal Truth, its action by the eternal Goodness.

Death, regarded as a fact in the physical world, signifies a change in the functions of the body. With death the body ceases to be, through its organisation, the instrument of the soul and the spirit. It shows itself henceforth entirely subject in its processes to the physical world and its laws; and it passes over into it in order to dissolve there. It is only these physical processes of decay in the body that can be observed after death by the physical senses. What then happens to soul and spirit escapes these senses. For even during life, soul and spirit can be observed by the senses only in so far as they attain to external expression in physical processes. After death such an expression is no longer possible. Therefore in regard to the fate of the soul and spirit after death, observation by means of the senses and a science based on them are of no value. Here a higher knowledge steps in, based on observation of what takes place in the soul- and spirit-worlds.

After the spirit has released itself from the body, it still continues to be united with the soul. And as during physical life the body fettered it to the physical world, so now the soul fetters it to the soul-world. But it is not in this soul-world that the spirit's true, primordial being is to be found. The soul-world is intended to serve merely as its connecting link with the scene of its actions, the physical world. In order to appear in a new incarnation with a more perfect form, the spirit must draw force and renewed strength from the spiritual world. But through the soul it has become entangled in the physical world. It is bound to a soul-entity which is saturated and coloured by the nature of the physical, and through this it has acquired a tendency in that direction. After death the soul is no longer bound to the physical body, but only to the spirit. It lives now within soul-surroundings. Only the forces of this soul-world can therefore have an effect on it. And at first the spirit also is bound to this life of the soul in the soul-world. It is bound to it in the same way as it is bound to the body during physical incarnation. When the body shall die is determined by the laws of the body. Speaking generally, in fact, it must be said it is not that the soul and spirit forsake the body, but that they are released from the body when its forces are no longer able to fulfil the purpose of the human organisation. The relationship between soul and spirit is just the same. The soul will release the spirit to pass into the higher, the spiritual world, when its forces are no longer able to fulfil the purpose of the human soul-organisation. The spirit is set free the moment the soul has handed over to dissolution what it can only experience in the body, and retains only that which can five on with the spirit. This remainder which, although experienced in the body, can, nevertheless, as fruit be impressed on the spirit, connects the soul with the spirit in the purely spiritual world. In order to learn the fate of the soul after death, therefore, one has to observe its process of dissolution. It had the task of giving the spirit its direction towards the physical. The moment it has fulfilled this task the soul takes the direction to the spiritual. In fact, the nature of its task would cause it to be at once only spiritually active when the body falls away from it, that is, when it can no longer be a connecting link. And so it would be, had it not, owing to its life in the body, been influenced by the latter and in its inclinations attracted to it. Without this colouring, received through the body, it would at once, on being disembodied, follow the laws of the spiritual-soul-world only, and manifest no further inclination to the sense-world. And this would be the case if a man, on dying, completely lost all interest in the earthly world, if all desires, wishes, etc., attaching to the existence he has left, had been completely satisfied. In so far, however, as this is not the case, that which remains over in this direction clings to the soul.

To avoid confusion, we must here carefully distinguish between what chains man to the world in such a way that it can be balanced in a subsequent incarnation, and that which chains him to one particular incarnation, that is, to the immediately preceding one. The first is made good by means of the law of destiny, Karma; but the other can be got rid of only by the soul after death.

After death there follows, for the human spirit, a time during which the soul is shaking off its inclinations towards physical existence, in order once more to follow the laws of the spiritual-soul-world only and set the spirit free. It is natural that this time will last longer the more strongly the soul was bound to the physical. It will be short in the case of a man who has clung little to physical life; long, on the other hand, for one who has completely bound up his interests with it, so that at death many desires, wishes, etc., still live in the soul.

The easiest way to gain an idea of the condition in which the soul fives during the time immediately after death, is afforded by the following consideration. Let us take a somewhat crass example: the pleasures of the bon vivant. His pleasure consists in the tickling of the palate by food. The pleasure is naturally not bodily, but belongs to the soul. The pleasure lives in the soul as also does the desire for the pleasure. But for the satisfaction of the desire the corresponding bodily organs, the palate, etc., are necessary. After death the soul has not immediately lost such a desire, but it no longer possesses the bodily organ which provides the means for satisfying the desire. The state of the man is now — to be sure, from another cause, but one which acts in the same way only far more strongly — as if he were suffering burning thirst in a region in the length and breadth of which there is no water. The soul thus suffers burning pain from the deprivation of the pleasure, because it has laid aside the bodily organ through which it can experience that pleasure. It is the same with all that the soul yearns for and that can only be satisfied through the bodily organs. This condition (of burning privation) lasts until the soul has learned not to long any more for what can only be satisfied through the body. And the time passed in this condition may be called the Region of Desires, although it has of course nothing to do with a “locality.”

When the soul enters the soul-world after death it becomes subject to the laws of that world. The laws act on it, and on their action depends the manner in which its inclinations towards the physical are destroyed. The way in which they act on it must differ according to the kinds of soul-substances and soul-forces, in whose domain it is placed at the time. Each of these kinds will make its purifying, cleansing influence felt. The process which takes place here is such that all antipathy in the soul is gradually overcome by the forces of sympathy, and this sympathy itself is brought to its highest pitch. For through this highest degree of sympathy with the whole of the rest of the soul-world, the soul will, as it were, merge into it, become one with it; then it is utterly emptied of its self-seeking. It ceases to exist as a being inclined to physically sensible existence. In this way the spirit is set free. The soul therefore purifies itself through all the regions of the soul-world already described, until, in the region of perfect sympathy, it becomes one with the general soul-world. That the spirit itself is in bondage until this last moment of the liberation of its soul is due to the fact that, through its life with it, the spirit has become most intimately related to the soul. This relationship is much closer than the one with the body. For to the body the spirit is only indirectly bound through the soul; while to the soul it is directly bound. The soul, is in fact, the spirit's own life. For this reason the spirit is not bound to the decaying body, though it is bound to the soul that is gradually freeing itself. On account of the immediate bond between the spirit and the soul, the spirit can feel free from the soul only when the latter has itself become one with the general soul-world.

In so far as the soul-world is the abode of man immediately after death, it can be called the “Region of Desires.” The different religious systems, which have embodied in their doctrines a knowledge of these conditions, know this “Region of Desires” by the name of “purgatory,” “cleansing fire,” and so on.

The lowest region of the soul-world is that of Burning Desire. By it everything in the soul that has to do with the coarsest, lowest, selfish desires of the physical life is purged from the soul after death. For through such desires it is exposed to the effects of the forces of this soul-region. The unsatisfied desires which have remained from physical life furnish the points of attack. The sympathy of such souls extends only to what can nourish their selfish natures; it is greatly exceeded by the antipathy which floods everything else. Now the desires, however, are concerned with physical enjoyments which cannot be satisfied in the soul-world. The craving is intensified to its highest degree by this impossibility of satisfaction. But at the same time, owing to this impossibility, it is forced to die out gradually. The burning lusts gradually exhaust themselves, and the soul has learned by experience that the only means of preventing the suffering that must come from such longings lies in killing them out. During physical life, satisfaction is ever and again being attained. By this means the pain of the burning lusts is covered over by a kind of illusion. After death, in the “cleansing fire” the pain comes into evidence quite unveiled. The corresponding experiences of privation are passed through. It is a dark, gloomy state in which the soul thus finds itself. Of course only those persons whose desires are directed during physical life to the coarsest things can fall into this condition. Natures with few lusts go through it without noticing it, for they have no affinity with it. It must be stated that souls are the longer influenced by Burning Desire the more closely they have become bound up with that fire during life; and the more they require on that account to be purified in it. Such purification should not be described as suffering in the same sense as one would feel anything similar in the sense-world as suffering. For the soul, after death, demands its own purification, because only thereby can an imperfection that exists in it be purged away.

In the second region of the soul-world, sympathy and antipathy preserve an equal balance. In so far as a human soul is in that condition after death it will be influenced for a time by what takes place in this region. The losing of oneself in the external glitter of life; the joy in the swiftly succeeding impressions of the senses, bring about this condition. People live in it in so far as it is brought about by the soul-inclinations just indicated. They allow themselves to be influenced by each worthless trifle of everyday life; but as their sympathy is attached to no one thing in particular, the influences quickly pass. Everything that does not belong to this region of empty nothings is repellent to such persons. If the soul experiences this condition after death without the presence of the physical objects which are necessary for its satisfaction, the condition must needs ultimately die out. Naturally the privation which precedes its complete extinction in the soul is full of suffering. This state of suffering is the school for the destruction of the illusion in which a man is enveloped during physical life.

Thirdly, there comes under consideration in the soul-world that which is filled with predominating sympathy, that in which the wish-nature predominates. The effects of this activity are experienced by souls through all that maintains an atmosphere of wishes after death. These wishes also gradually die out on account of the impossibility of being satisfied.

The region of Attraction and Repulsion in the soul-world which has been described above as the fourth, imposes on the soul special trials. As long as the soul dwells in the body it shares all that concerns it. The inner surge of attraction and repulsion is bound up with the body. It causes the soul's feeling of well-being and comfort, dislike and discomfort. Man feels during his physical life that his body is himself. What is called the feeling of self is based upon this fact. And the more people live in the sense-life, the more does their feeling of self take on this characteristic. After death the body, the object of this feeling of self, is lacking. On this account the soul, which still retains the feeling, has the sensation of being, as it were, hollowed out. A feeling as if it had lost itself overcomes the soul. This continues until it has been recognised that the true man does not lie in the physical. The impressions of this fourth region on the soul accordingly destroy the illusion of the bodily self. The soul learns no longer to feel this corporality as an essential reality. It is cured and purified of its attachment to corporality. In this way it has conquered that which previously chained it strongly to the physical world, and can unfold fully the forces of sympathy which flow outwards. It has, so to say, broken free from itself, and is ready to pour itself with full sympathy into the common soul-world.

It should not pass unnoted that the experiences of this region are suffered with special intensity by suicides. They leave their physical body in an artificial way, while all the feelings connected with it remain unchanged. In the case of natural death, the decay of the body is accompanied by a partial dying out of the feelings of attachment to it. In the case of suicides there are, in addition to the torment caused by the feeling of having been suddenly hollowed out, the unsatisfied desires and wishes on account of which they have deprived themselves of their bodies.

The fifth stage of the soul-world is that of Soul-Light. In it sympathy with others has already reached a high degree of power. Souls are connected with it in so far as, during their physical lives, they did not lose themselves in the satisfaction of lower necessities, but took delight and pleasure in their surroundings. Enthusiasm for Nature, for example, in so far as it has borne something of a sensuous character, undergoes cleansing here. It is necessary, however, to distinguish clearly this kind of love of Nature from that higher living in Nature which is of the spiritual kind, and which seeks for the spirit that reveals itself in the things and events of Nature. This kind of feeling for Nature is one of the things that develop the spirit itself and establish something permanent in the spirit. But one must distinguish between such a feeling for Nature and a pleasure in Nature that is based on the senses. In regard to this the soul requires purification just as much as in the case of other inclinations based on mere physical existence. Many people hold, as a kind of ideal, arrangements which minister to sensuous welfare, and a system of education which results above all in the production of sensuous comfort. One cannot say of them that they are furthering only their selfish impulses. But their souls are, nevertheless, directed to the physical world, and must be cured of this by the prevailing force of sympathy in the fifth region of the soul-world in which these external means of satisfaction are lacking. The soul here recognises gradually that this sympathy must take other directions; and these are found in the outpouring of the soul into the soul-region, which is brought about by sympathy with the soul-surroundings. Those souls also who seek from their religious observances mainly an enhancement of their sensuous welfare, whether it be that their longing goes out to an earthly or a heavenly paradise, are purified here. They find this paradise in the “Soul-land,” but only for the purpose of seeing through its worthlessness. These are, of course, merely a few detached examples of purifications which take place in this fifth region. They could be multiplied indefinitely.

By means of the sixth region, that of Active Soul-Force, the purification of that part of the soul which thirsts for action takes place in souls whose activity does not bear an egotistical character, but springs, nevertheless, from the sensuous satisfaction which action affords them. Natures which develop this desire for action, viewed superficially, convey the impression of being idealists; they show themselves to be persons capable of self-sacrifice. In the deeper sense, however, the chief thing with them is the enhancement of a sensuous feeling of pleasure. Many artistic natures and such as give themselves up to scientific activity because it pleases them, belong to this class. What binds these people to the physical world is the belief that art and science exist for the sake of such pleasure.

The seventh region, that of the real Soul-Life, frees man from his last inclinations to the sensibly physical world. Each preceding region takes up from the soul whatever has affinity with it. What now still envelops the spirit is the belief that its activity should be entirely devoted to the physical world. There are individuals who, though highly gifted, do not think about much more than the occurrences of the physical world. This belief can be called materialistic. It must be destroyed, and this is done in the seventh region. There the souls see that no objects exist in true reality for materialistic thinking. Like ice in the sun this belief of the soul melts away. The soul-being is now absorbed into its own world; the spirit, free from all fetters, rises to the regions where it lives in its own surroundings only. The soul has completed its previous earthly task, and after death any traces of this task that remained as fettering to the spirit, have dissolved. By overcoming the last trace of the earth, the soul is itself given back to its own element.

One sees from this description that the experiences in the soul-world, and also the conditions of soul-life after death, assume an ever less repellent appearance the more man has shaken off those elements adhering to him from his earthly union with the physical corporality and immediately related to his body. The soul will belong for a longer or shorter time to one or another region according to the conditions created in its physical life. Where the soul feels itself to be in affinity, there it remains until the affinity is extinguished. Where no relationship exists, it goes on its way without feeling the possible influences.

It was intended that only the fundamental characteristics of the soul-world and the outstanding features of the life of the soul in this world should be described here. This applies also to the following descriptions of the Spiritland. It would exceed the prescribed limits of this book were further characteristics of these higher worlds to be described. For what can be compared with spatial relationships and the course of time (since conditions here are quite different from those obtaining in the physical world) can only be discussed intelligibly when one is prepared to deal with them in full detail. References of importance in this connection will be found in the book Occult Science — an Outline.

3. The Spiritland

Before the spirit can be observed on its further pilgrimage, the region it enters must first be examined. It is the “World of the Spirit.” This world is so unlike the physical that whatever is said about it will appear fantastic to one who is willing only to trust his physical senses. And what has already been said in regard to the world of the soul holds good here to a still higher degree; that is, to say, one has to use analogies in order to describe it. For our speech, which for the most part serves only for the realities of the senses, is not richly blessed with expressions directly applicable to the “Spiritland.” It is therefore especially necessary here to ask the reader to take much that is said as an indication only. For everything described here is so unlike the physical world that it can be depicted only in this way. The author is ever conscious of how inadequately his account describes the experiences of this region, owing to the imperfect means of expression in language that is adapted entirely to the physical world.

It must above all be emphasised that this world is woven out of the substance of which human thought consists. (The word “substance,” too, is here used in a far from usual sense.) But thought, as it lives in earthly man, is only a shadow picture, a phantom of its true being. As the shadow of an object on the wall is related to the real object which throws this shadow, so is the thought that makes its appearance through a human brain related to the being in the Spiritland which corresponds to this thought. Now when the spiritual sense of man is awakened he actually perceives this thought-being, just as the eye of the senses perceives the table or the chair. He moves in a region of thought-beings. The corporeal eye perceives the lion, and the thinking that is directed to the material world thinks the thought “lion” as a shadow, a shadowy picture. In “Spiritland” the spiritual eye sees the thought “lion” as truly as the corporeal eye sees the physical lion. Here we may again refer to the analogy already used regarding the Soul-land. Just as the environment of a man born blind and then operated upon appear all at once with the new qualities of colour and light, so is the environment of the person who learns to use his spiritual eye seen to be filled with a new world, the world of living thoughts or spirit-beings. There are to be seen in this world, first the spiritual archetypes of all things and beings which are present in the physical and in the soul worlds. Imagine the picture of a painter existing in the mind before it is painted. This indicates what is meant by the expression “Archetype.” It does not concern us here that the painter has not, perhaps, had such an archetype in his mind before he paints; and that it only gradually develops and becomes complete during the practical work. In the real “World of the Spirit,” there are such archetypes for all things, and the physical things and beings are images of these archetypes. It is quite understandable when anyone who trusts only to his outer senses denies this archetypal world, and holds archetypes to be merely abstractions which the intellect arrives at by comparing the objects of the senses. Such a person simply cannot see in this higher world; he knows the thought-world only in its shadowy abstractness. He does not know that a man with spiritual vision is as familiar with the spirit-beings as he himself is with his dog or his cat, and that the archetypal world has a far more intense reality than the world of the physical senses.

True, the first insight into “Spiritland” is still more bewildering than that into the soul-world. For the archetypes in their true form are very unlike their material images. They are, however, just as unlike their shadows, the abstract thoughts. In the spiritual world everything is in continuous, mobile activity, ceaselessly creating. A state of rest, a remaining in one place, as in the physical world, do not exist here. For the archetypes are creative beings. They are the master builders of all that comes into being in the physical world and the soul-world. Their forms change rapidly; and in each archetype lies the possibility of assuming myriads of specialised formations. 2See also under Addenda. They let the different formations well out of them, and scarcely is one produced than the archetype sets about pouring forth the next one. The archetypes stand in more or less intimate relationships to each other. They do not work singly. The one requires the help of the other for its creations. Innumerable archetypes often work together in order that this or that being in the soul-world or the physical world may arise.

Besides what is to be perceived by “spiritual sight” in this “Spiritland,” there is something else that is to be regarded as “spiritual hearing.” As soon as the clairvoyant rises out of the soul-world into the spirit-world, the archetypes that are perceived sound as well. This “sounding” is a purely spiritual process. It must be conceived of without any accompanying thought of physical sound. The observer feels as if he were in an ocean of tones. And in these tones, in this spiritual sounding, the beings of the spirit-world express themselves. The primordial laws of their existence are expressed in their mutual relationships and affinities, in the intermingling of their sounds, their harmonies, melodies and rhythms. What the intellect perceives in the physical world as law, as idea, reveals itself to the “spiritual ear” as a spiritual music. (Hence, the Pythagoreans called this perception of the spiritual world the “Music of the Spheres.” To one who possesses the “spiritual ear” this “Music of the Spheres” is not something merely figurative and allegorical, but a spiritual reality well known to him.) If one wishes to gain a conception of this “spiritual music” one must lay aside all ideas of the music of the senses as perceived by the “material ear.” For here one is concerned with “spiritual perception,” that is, with perception of such a kind as must remain silent for the “ear of the senses.” In the following descriptions of the “Spiritland,” reference to this “spiritual music” will be omitted for the sake of simplicity. One has only to form a mental picture in which everything described as “picture,” as “radiance,” is at the same time sounding. To each colour, each perception of light, there is a corresponding spiritual tone, and every combination of colours corresponds to a harmony, a melody, etc. For one must hold clearly in mind that even where the sounding prevails, perception by means of the “spiritual eye” by no means ceases. The sounding is merely added to the radiance. Therefore, where archetypes are spoken of in the following pages, the “Primal Tones” are to be thought of as also present. Other perceptions arise as well, which by way of comparison may be termed “spiritual tasting,” and so on. But it is not proposed to go into these processes here, since we are concerned with awakening a conception of the “Spiritland” through certain selected modes of perception.

It is necessary, in the first place, to distinguish the different kinds of archetypes from one another. In the “Spiritland,” too, one has to distinguish between a number of grades or regions in order to find one's way among them. Here also, as in the soul-world, the different regions are not to be thought of as lying one above the other like strata, but as mutually interpenetrating and pervading each other. The first region contains the “archetypes” of the physical world in so far as it is not endowed with life. The archetypes of the minerals are to be found here — also those of the plants; but the latter only in so far as they are purely physical, that is, in so far as the life in them is not taken into account. In the same way one finds here the archetypes of the physical forms of the animals and of human beings. This does not exhaust all that is to be found in this region but merely illustrates it by the readiest examples. This region forms the basic scaffolding of the “Spiritland.” It can be likened to the solid land of the physical earth. It forms the “continental” mass of the “Spiritland.” Its relationship with the physical corporeal world can only be described by means of an illustration. One gains some idea of it in the following way. Picture a limited space filled with physical bodies of the most varied kinds. Then think these bodies away and conceive in their place cavities in space, having their forms. The intervening spaces, on the other hand, which were previously empty, must be thought of as filled with the most varied forms, having manifold relationships with the physical bodies spoken of above. This is somewhat like the appearance presented by the lowest region of the archetypal world. In it, the things and beings which become embodied in the physical world are present as “spatial cavities.” And in the intervening spaces the mobile activity of the archetypes (and of the “spiritual music”) plays out its course. At the time of physical embodiment the spatial cavities become as it were filled with physical matter. If anyone were to look into space with both physical and spiritual eyes, he would see the physical bodies, and in between, the mobile activity of the creative archetypes.

The second region of the “Spiritland” contains the archetypes of life. But here this life forms a perfect unity. It streams through the world of spirit like a fluid element, as it were like blood pulsating through everything. It may be likened to the sea and the water systems of the physical earth. Its distribution, however, is more like the distribution of the blood in the animal body than that of the seas and rivers. This second stage of the “Spiritland” could be described as Flowing Life, formed of thought-substances. In this element are the creative Primal Forces, producing everything that appears in physical reality as living being. Here it is evident that all life is a unity, that the fife in man is related to the life of all his fellow-creatures.

The archetypes of whatever is of the nature of soul must be designated as the third region of the “Spiritland.” Here we find ourselves in a much finer and rarer element than in the first two regions. To use a comparison it can be called the air or atmosphere of the “Spiritland.” Everything that goes on in the souls of both the other worlds has here its spiritual counterpart. Here all feelings, sensations, instincts, passions, etc., are again present, but in a spiritual way. The atmospheric processes in this aerial region correspond with the sorrows and joys of the creatures in the other worlds. The longing of a human soul appears here as a gentle zephyr; an outbreak of passion is like a stormy blast. One who can form conceptions of what is here under consideration, pierces deep into the sighing of every creature when he directs his attention to it. One can for example speak here of storms with flashing lightning and rolling thunder; and if one investigates the matter one finds that the passions of a battle waged on earth are expressed in such “spirit tempests.”

The archetypes of the fourth region are not immediately related to the other worlds. They are in certain respects Beings who govern the archetypes of the three lower regions and mediate their working together. They are accordingly occupied with the ordering and grouping of these subordinate archetypes. From this region therefore a more comprehensive activity proceeds than from the lower ones.

The fifth, sixth and seventh regions differ essentially from the preceding ones. For the Beings in these regions supply the archetypes with the impulses for their activity. In them are to be found the creative forces of the archetypes themselves. He who is able to rise to these regions comes to know the purposes which underlie our world. 3That such a term as “purposes” is also meant in the sense of a “simile” is obvious from what was said above about the difficulties of expression in language. It is not intended to revive the old “doctrine of purpose.” See Addenda p. 93. The archetypes lie here still like living germ-entities ready to assume the most manifold forms of thought-beings. If these germ-entities are projected into the lower region they well up, as it were, and manifest themselves in the most varied shapes. The ideas through which the human spirit manifests itself creatively in the physical world are the reflection, the shadow, of these germinal thought-beings of the higher spiritual world. The observer with the “ear of spirit” rises from the lower regions of the “Spiritland” to these higher ones, becomes aware that sounds and tones are changed into a “spiritual language.” He begins to perceive the “spiritual word” through which the things and beings do not now make known to him their nature in music alone, but express it in “words.” They utter to him what is called in spiritual science their “eternal names.”

We must picture to ourselves that these thought-germinal-beings are of a composite nature. Out of the element of the thought-world only the germ-sheath, as it were, is taken. And this surrounds the true life kernel. With it we have reached the confines of the “three worlds,” for the “kernel” has its origin in still higher worlds. When man was described above according to his component parts this “life kernel” of the human being was specified, and its components were called “Life Spirit” and “Spirit Man.” There are similar “life kernels” for other beings in the Cosmos. They originate in higher worlds and are placed in the three which have been described, in order to accomplish their tasks in them.

The human spirit will now be followed on its further pilgrimage through the “Spiritland” between two embodiments or incarnations. In the course of the description the conditions and distinguishing characteristics of this “land” will once more come clearly into view. 4See also under Addenda p. 94.

4. The Spirit in the Spiritland After Death

When the human spirit on its way between two incarnations has passed through the “World of Souls” it enters the “Land of Spirits” to remain there until it is ripe for a new bodily existence. We can only understand the meaning of this sojourn in “Spiritland” if we are able to interpret in the right way the aim and end of the pilgrimage of man during his incarnations. While man is incarnated in the physical body he works and creates in the physical world. And he works and creates in it as a spiritual being. He imprints on the physical forms, on the corporeal materials and forces, what his spirit thinks out and elaborates. He has therefore as a messenger of the spiritual world to embody the spirit in the corporeal world. Only by being incarnated can a man work in the corporeal world. He must take on the physical body as his instrument, that through the body he can work upon the other bodies around and they can work upon him. But what works through this physical corporality of man is the spirit. From this flow the purposes, the directions its work is to take in the physical world. Now as long as the spirit works in the physical body it cannot as spirit five in its true form. It can only shine through the veil of the physical existence. For as a matter of fact the thought-life of man really belongs to the spiritual world; and as it appears in the physical existence its true form is veiled. One can also say that the thought-life of the physical man is a shadow, a reflection of the activity of the true, spiritual being to whom it belongs. Thus, during physical life the spirit working through the physical body interacts with the earthly corporeal world. Now although it is in working on the physical corporeal world that one of the tasks of the spirit of man lies as long as he is proceeding from incarnation to incarnation, yet this task could not be carried out as it ought to be, were the spirit to lead an embodied existence only. For the purposes and goals of the earthly task are just as little elaborated or gained within the earthly incarnation, as the plan of a house comes into existence on the site on which the labourers work. Just as this plan is worked out in the offices of the architect, so are the aims and purposes of earthly creative activities worked out and elaborated in the “Land of Spirits.” The spirit of man has always to live again in this realm between two incarnations in order, equipped with what he brings with him from there, to be able to tackle the work in the physical life. As the architect, without working with brick and mortar, designs the plan of the house in his workroom in accordance with architectural and other laws, so has the architect of human activity, the spirit or Higher Self, to develop in the “Spiritland” its capacities and aims in accordance with the laws of that land, in order then to bring them over into the physical world. Only if the human spirit sojourns over and over again in its own region, will it also be able to bring the spirit, by means of the physical corporeal instruments, into the earthly world.

On the physical scene of action man learns to know the qualities and forces of the physical world. During his creative activity he gathers experiences there regarding the demands made by the physical world on anyone wishing to work in it. He there learns to know the qualities of the matter in which he wishes to embody his thoughts and ideas. The thoughts and ideas themselves he cannot extract from matter. Thus the physical world is both the scene of his creating and of his learning. What has been learned is then transmuted, in the “Spiritland,” into living faculties of the spirit. The above comparison can be carried farther, in order to make the matter clearer. The architect designs the plan of a house. It is carried out. While this goes on he gains a number of the most varied experiences. All of these experiences enhance his capacities. When he works out his next plan, all these experiences flow into it. And this next plan, when compared with the first, is seen to be enriched with all that was learned through the first. It is the same with the successive human lives. In the intervals between the incarnations, the spirit lives in its own sphere. It can give itself up entirely to the requirements of the spirit-life; freed from the physical body, it develops in every direction, and works into this development the fruits of its experiences in former earthly lives. Thus its attention is always directed to the scene of its earthly tasks; thus it works continually at following the earth, in so far as that is its present field of action, through its necessary development. It works upon itself, so as to be able in each incarnation to carry out its service during that life in accordance with the then condition of the earth.

This is of course only a general outline of the course of successive human lives. The reality will never be quite the same but will only more or less correspond with it. Circumstances may bring it about that a subsequent life of a man is much less perfect than a previous one. But taken as a whole such irregularities equalise themselves within definite limits in the succession of lives.

The development of the spirit in “Spiritland” takes place through the man throwing himself completely into the life of the different regions of this land. His own life as it were dissolves into each region successively; he takes on, for the time being, their characteristics. Through this they permeate his being with theirs, in order that his being may be able to work, strengthened by theirs, in his earthly life. In the first region of the “Spiritland,” man is surrounded by the spiritual archetypes of earthly things. During life on earth he learns to know only the shadows of these archetypes which he grasps in his thoughts. What is merely thought on the earth is in this region experienced, lived. Man moves among thoughts; but these thoughts are real beings. What he has perceived with his senses during life on earth works on him now in its thought-form. But the thought does not appear as the shadow which hides itself behind the things; it is on the contrary the life-filled reality producing the things. Man is, as it were, in the thought-workshop in which earthly things are formed and constructed. For in the “Land of Spirit” all is vital activity and mobility. Here, the thought-world is at work as a world of living beings, creative and formative. We see how what we have experienced during the earthly existence is shaped. Just as in the physical body we experience the things of the senses as reality, so now as spirit we experience the spiritual formative forces as real. Among the thought-beings to be found there, is also the thought of our own physical corporality. We feel separated from this. We feel only the spiritual being as belonging to ourselves. And when we perceive the discarded body as if in memory, no longer as physical but as thought-being, then its relation to the external world becomes a matter of direct perception. We learn to look at it as something belonging to the external world, as a member of this external world. Consequently we no longer separate our own corporality from the rest of the external world, as something more nearly related to ourselves. We feel the unity in the whole external world including our own bodily incarnations. Our own embodiments dissolve here into a unity with the rest of the world. Thus here we look upon the archetypes of the physical, corporeal reality as a unity, to which we have ourselves belonged. We learn therefore gradually to know our relationship, our unity, with the surrounding world by observation. We learn to say to it “That which is here spread out around thee, thou wert that.” And that is one of the fundamental thoughts of ancient Indian Vedanta wisdom. The “sage” acquires, even during his earthly life, what others experience after death, namely, ability to grasp the thought that he himself is related to all things, the thought, “Thou art that.” In earthly life this is an ideal to which the thought-life can be devoted; in the “Land of Spirit” it is an immediate reality, one which grows ever clearer to us through spiritual experience. And man himself comes to know more and more clearly in this realm that in his own inner being he belongs to the spirit-world. He is aware of himself as a spirit among spirits, a member of the Primordial Spirits, and he will feel in his own self the word of the Primordial Spirit: “I am the Primal Spirit.” (The Wisdom of the Vedanta says, “I am Brahman,” i.e., I belong to the Primordial Being, in Whom all beings have their origin.) We see that what is grasped during earthly life as a shadowy thought, towards which all wisdom strives, is, in the “Spiritland,” an immediate experience. Indeed, it is only thought during the earth-life because it is a fact in the spiritual existence.

Thus during his spiritual existence man sees the relationships and facts in the midst of which he stands during his earthly life, from a high watch-tower, as if from outside. And during his life in the lowest region of “Spiritland,” he lives thus in respect of the earthly relationships immediately connected with the physical corporeal reality. On earth man is born into a family, a race: he lives in a certain country. His earthly existence is determined by all these relationships. He finds this or that friend because relationships in the physical world bring it about. He carries on this or that business. All this decides the conditions of his earthly life. All this now presents itself to him during his life in the first region of “Spiritland” as living thought-reality. He lives it all through again in a certain way. But he lives it through from the active spiritual side. The family love he has extended, the friendship he has offered, become alive from within, and his capacities in this direction are enhanced. That element in the spirit of man which works as the power of love of family and friend is strengthened. He enters again on his later earthly existence a more perfect man in these respects.

It is to a certain extent the everyday relationships of the earth-life which ripen as the fruitage of this lowest region of “Spiritland.” And that element in man, which in its interests is wholly absorbed by these everyday relationships will feel itself in affinity with this region for the greater part of the life between two incarnations. The people with whom we have lived in the physical world, we find again in the spiritual world. Just as everything falls away from the soul which was peculiarly its own through the physical body, so also does the bond that in physical life linked soul and soul, loosen itself from those conditions which have meaning and reality only in the physical world. Yet there is carried over beyond death — into the spiritual world — all that soul was to soul in the physical life. It is natural that words coined from physical conditions can only reproduce inaccurately what takes place in the spiritual world. But if this is taken into account, it must be described as quite correct when it is said: souls who belong together in physical life find each other again in the spiritual world so as to continue their lives together there.

The next region is that in which the common life of the earth-world flows as thought-being, as the fluid element, so to speak, of “Spiritland.” As long as we observe the world during physical embodiment, fife appears to be confined within separate living beings. In “Spiritland” it is loosed from them and, like life-blood, flows as it were through the whole realm. It is there the living unity that is present in everything. Of this also only a reflection appears to man during the earthly fife. And this reflection expresses itself in every form of reverence that man pays to the whole, to the unity and harmony of the universe. The religious life of man is derived from this reflection. Man becomes aware that the all-embracing meaning of existence does not fie in what is transitory and separate. He regards the transitory as a “semblance” a likeness of an eternal, of a harmonious unity. He looks up to this unity in reverence and worship. He offers up to it religious acts and rites. In “Spiritland” there appears, not the reflection, but the real form, as living thought-being. Here man can really unite with the unity that he has reverenced on earth. The fruits of the religious life and everything connected with it make their appearance in this region. Man now learns through spiritual experience to recognise that his individual fate is not to be separated from the community to which he belongs. The capacity to know oneself as a member of a whole, develops here. The religious feelings, everything that has already during life striven after a pure and noble morality, will draw strength from this region during a great part of the spiritual life between incarnations. And the man will reincarnate with enhanced capacities in this direction.

Whereas in the first region we are together with those souls with whom we have been linked by the closest ties during the preceding physical life, in the second region we enter the domain of all those with whom we felt ourselves to be united in a wider sense: through a common reverence, through a common religious confession, and so on. It must be emphasised that the spiritual experiences of the preceding regions persist through the subsequent ones. Thus a man is not torn away from the ties knit by family, friendship and so on, when he enters upon the life of the second and following regions. Moreover the regions of the “Spiritland” do not he like “divisions” apart from each other; they interpenetrate each other, and man experiences himself in a new region not because he has outwardly “entered upon” it in any form whatever, but because he has attained in himself the inner capacities for perceiving that within which he previously lived without perceiving it.

The third region of “Spiritland” contains the archetypes of the soul-world. All that lives in that world is present here as living thought-being. We find here the archetypes of desires, wishes, feelings, etc. But here, in the spirit-world, no element of self-seeking clings to the soul. Like all life in the second region, in this third region all longings, wishes, all likes and dislikes form a unity. The desire and wish of another are not separable from my desire and wish. The sensations and feelings of all beings are a common world enclosing and surrounding everything else, just as the physical atmosphere surrounds the earth. This region is, as it were, the atmosphere or air of the “Spiritland.” Everything that a person has carried out in his life on earth in the service of the community, in selfless devotion to his fellowmen, will bear fruit here. For through this service, through this self-giving, he has lived in a reflection of the third region of the “Spiritland.” The great benefactors of the human race, the self-sacrificing natures, those who render great services to communities, have acquired their capacity to render them in this region, after having prepared themselves for a special relationship with it during their previous earthly lives.

It is evident that the three regions of “Spiritland” just described stand in a certain relation to the worlds below them, to the physical world and the soul-world. For they contain the archetypes, the living thought-beings that take corporeal and soul-existence in those worlds. Only the fourth region is the “pure Spiritland.” But even this region is not that in the fullest sense of the word. It differs from the three lower regions owing to the fact that in them we meet with the archetypes of those physical and soul-relations, which man finds existing in the physical world and soul-world, before he himself begins to take any part in them. The circumstances of everyday life are linked to the things and beings which man finds already present in the world; the transitory things of this world direct his gaze to their eternal, primal foundation: and man's fellow creatures also, to whom he selflessly devotes himself, do not owe their presence there to man. But it is through him that there are in the world all the creations of the arts and sciences, of technology, of the State, and so on; in short all that he has embodied in the world as original works of his spirit. Without his co-operation none of the physical reproductions of all these would be in the world. The archetypes of these purely human creations are in the fourth region of the “Spiritland.” What man develops during his earthly life in the way of scientific discoveries, of artistic ideas and forms, of technology, bears fruit in this fourth region. It is out of this region therefore that artists, scientists, great inventors, draw their impulses and enhance their genius during their sojourn in “Spiritland,” in order during another incarnation to be able to assist in fuller measure the further evolution of human culture. But we must not imagine that this fourth region of the “Spiritland” has importance only for particularly outstanding men. It has importance for all men. Everything that occupies man in his physical life outside the sphere of everyday living, wishing and willing, has its primal source in this region. If a man did not pass through it in the period between death and a new birth, then in his subsequent life he would have no interests leading out beyond the narrow circle of his personal life-conduct to what is common to all humanity.

It has been said above that even this region cannot be called the “pure Spiritland” in the full sense of the word. This is because the state in which men have left civilisation on earth continues to influence their spiritual existence. They can enjoy in “Spiritland” only the fruits of what it was possible for them to carry out in accordance with their gifts and the stage of development of the race, State, etc., into which they were born.

In the still higher regions of the “Spiritland” the human spirit is now freed from every earthly fetter. It rises to the pure “Spiritland” in which it experiences the intentions, the aims, which the spirit set itself to accomplish by means of the earthly life. Everything that has already been achieved in the world brings into existence only a more or less feeble copy of the highest intentions and aims. Each crystal, each tree, each animal, and all that is being achieved in the domain of human creation — all these are merely reflections of what the spirit intends. And man, during his incarnations, can only form a connection with these imperfect reflections of the perfect intentions and aims. Thus during one of his incarnations he himself can only be a reflection of what, in the kingdom of the spirit, he is intended to be. What he, as spirit in “Spiritland,” really is, therefore, comes into view only when he rises in the interval between two incarnations, to the fifth region of “Spiritland.” What he is here is really he himself: the being who maintains an external existence in the numerous and varied incarnations. In this region the true Self of man can freely live. And this Self is therefore that which appears ever anew in each incarnation as the one Self. This Self brings with it the faculties which have developed in the lower regions of the “Spiritland.” Consequently, it bears the fruits of former lives over into those following. It is the bearer of the results of former incarnations.

When the Self lives in the fifth region of the “Spiritland” it is in the realm of intentions and aims. As the architect learns from the imperfections which show themselves in his work, and as he brings into his new plans only what he was able to change from imperfections to perfections, so the Self, in the fifth region, casts off from its experiences in former lives whatever is bound up with the imperfections of the lower worlds, and fertilises the purposes of the “Spiritland” — purposes with which it now lives — with the results of its former lives. It is clear that the force which can be drawn from this region will depend upon how much the Self, during its incarnation, has acquired in the form of results fit to be received into the world of purposes. The Self that has sought to fulfil the purposes of the spirit during earthly life through an active thought-life or through wise love expressed in deeds, will establish a strong claim to be received into this region. The Self that has expended itself entirely on the events of the everyday life, that has lived only in the transitory, has sown no seeds that can play a part in the purposes of the eternal World Order. Only that small portion of its activities which extended beyond the interests of everyday life can unfold as fruitage in these higher regions of the “Spiritland.” But it must not be supposed that what chiefly comes into consideration here is “earthly fame” or anything akin to it. No: it is rather a question of bringing into consciousness the fact that in the very narrowest circles of life each single thing has its significance in the eternal progress of existence. We must make ourselves familiar with the thought that in this region a man must judge otherwise than he can in physical life. For instance: if he has acquired little that is related to this fifth region, there arises in him the urge to instil into himself for the following life an impulse, which will cause that life so to run its course that in its destiny (Karma) the consequential effect of that deficiency shall come to light. That which then, in the following earth-life, appears as painful destiny from the point of view of that life — nay, is perhaps deeply bewailed as such — is the very thing the man in this region of the “Spiritland” finds absolutely necessary for himself. Since a man in the fifth region lives in his own true Self, he is lifted out of everything from the lower worlds that envelops him during his incarnations. He is what he ever was and ever will be during the course of his incarnations. He is at one with the purposes which prevail during these incarnations, and which he members into his own Self. He looks back on his own past, and feels that everything he has experienced in it will be brought into the purposes he has to bring to realisation in the future. A kind of remembrance of his earlier lives and prophetic vision of his future lives flash forth. We see therefore that what in this book is called “Spirit-self” fives, in this region, as far as it is developed, in the reality that is appropriate to itself. It develops still further and prepares itself to make possible in a new incarnation the fulfilment of the spiritual purposes in earthly reality.

If this “Spirit-self” has evolved so far during a succession of sojourns in “Spiritland” that it can move about quite freely in this land, it will more and more seek its true home there. Life in the spirit will be as familiar to it as life in physical reality is to earthly man. The view-points of the spirit-world are from now on the dominating ones, which it makes its own more or less consciously or unconsciously for the succeeding earthly lives. The Self can feel itself to be a member of the divine World Order. The limitations and laws of the earthly life no longer affect the man in his innermost being. Power for everything he carries out comes to him from this spiritual world. But the spiritual world is a Unity. He who lives in it knows how the Eternal has worked creatively upon the past and from out of the Eternal he can determine the direction for the future. 5See also under Addenda p. 105. The survey of the past widens into a perfect one. A man who has reached this stage sets before himself aims to be carried out in a coming incarnation. From out of the “Spiritland” he influences his future so that it runs its course in harmony with the True and the Spiritual. During the stage between two incarnations such a man finds himself in the presence of all those exalted Beings before whose gaze the Divine Wisdom lies outspread. For he has climbed to the stage at which he can understand them.

In the sixth region of the “Spiritland,” man will fulfil in all his doings that which is most in accord with the true being of the world. For he cannot seek for what profits himself, but only for what ought to happen according to the rightful course of the World Order.

The seventh region of the “Spiritland” leads to the boundary of the “three worlds.” The man stands here in the presence of the “Life-kernels,” which are transplanted from higher worlds into the three which have been described, in order that in them they may fulfil their tasks. Therefore when a man is at the boundary of the three worlds he recognises himself in his own life-kernel. This means that for him the problems of these three worlds have been solved. He has a complete survey of the life of these worlds. In physical life, the powers of the soul through which it has in the spiritual world the experiences here described, remain unconscious under ordinary circumstances. They work in their unconscious depths upon the bodily organs, which bring about the consciousness of the physical world. That is precisely the reason why these powers remain imperceptible to this world. The eye too does not see itself, because forces are at work in it which make other things visible. If we would judge as to how far a human life running its course between birth and death can be the result of preceding earthly lives, we must take into consideration the fact that a point of view which itself lies within this same life, and which we should naturally accept in the first instance, can yield no possibility of judgment. For such a point of view, for instance, an earth life might appear full of suffering, imperfect, and so on, while precisely in this form it would be seen, from a point of view lying outside this life, to be in its suffering, in its imperfection, the natural outcome of previous lives. By treading the path of knowledge, as this is described in the next chapter, the soul sets itself free from the conditions of bodily life. Thus it can perceive in a picture the experiences which it undergoes between death and a new birth. Perception of this kind makes it possible to describe what happens in the “Spiritland,” as has here been done in outline. Only when we keep in mind the fact that the whole disposition of the soul is different in the physical body from what it is in periods of purely spiritual experience, only then shall we rightly understand the description here given.

5. The Physical World and Its Connection with the Soul-world and Spiritland

The formations in the Soul-World and Spiritland cannot be the objects of external sense perception. The objects of sense perception are to be added to the two worlds already described, as a third world. Moreover, man lives during his bodily existence simultaneously in the three worlds. He perceives the things of the sensible world and works upon them. The formations of the soul-world work upon him through their forces of sympathy and antipathy; and his own soul causes waves in the soul-world by its inclinations and disinclinations, its desires and wishes. The spiritual essence of the things, on the other hand, mirrors itself in his thought-world: and he himself is, as thinking spirit-being, citizen of the “Spiritland” and companion of everything that lives in this region of the world. This makes it evident that the sensible world is only a part of what surrounds man. This part stands out from the general environment of man with a certain independence, because it can be perceived by senses which leave unregarded the soul and the spiritual, although these belong equally to this surrounding world. Just as a piece of floating ice consists of the same substance as the surrounding water, but stands out from it through particular qualities, so are the things of the senses the substance of the surrounding soul- and spirit-worlds from which they stand out through particular qualities which make them perceptible to the senses. They are, to speak half metaphorically, condensed spirit- and soul-formations; and the condensation makes it possible for the senses to acquire knowledge of them. In fact, as ice is only a form in which the water exists, so are the objects of the senses only a form in which soul- and spirit-beings exist. If we have grasped this, we can also understand that as the water can pass over into ice, so the spirit-world can pass over into the soul-world and the latter into that of the senses.

Looked at from this point of view we see why man can form thoughts about the things of the senses. For there is a question which everyone who thinks must needs ask himself, namely, in what relation does the thought which a man has about a stone stand to that stone itself? This question rises in full clarity in the minds of those who look especially deeply into external nature. They feel the consonance of the human thought-world with the structure and order of Nature. The great astronomer Kepler, for example, speaks in a beautiful way about this harmony: “True it is that the divine call which bids man study astronomy is written in the world, not indeed in words and syllables, but in substance, in the very fact that human conceptions and senses are fitted to relationships of the heavenly bodies and their conditions.” Only because the things of the sensible world are nothing else than densified spirit-beings, is the man who raises himself through his thought to these spirit-beings able by thinking to understand the things. Sense-objects originate in the spirit-world, they are only another form of the spirit-beings; and when man forms thoughts about things his inner nature is merely directed away from the sensible form and out towards the spiritual archetypes of these things. To understand an object by means of thought is a process which can be likened to that by which a solid body is first liquefied by fire in order that the chemist may be able to examine it in its liquid form.

The spiritual archetypes of the sensible world are to be found in the different regions of the “Spiritland.” In the fifth, sixth, and seventh regions these archetypes are still found as living germ-points; in the four lower regions they shape themselves into spiritual formations. The human spirit perceives a shadowy reflection of these spiritual formations when, by thinking, man tries to gain understanding of the things of the senses. How these formations have condensed until they form the sensible world, is a question for one who endeavours to acquire a spiritual understanding of the world around him.

For human sense perception this surrounding world is divided primarily into four distinctly separated stages: the mineral, the plant, the animal and the human. The mineral kingdom is perceived by the senses and comprehended by thought. Thus when we form a thought about a mineral body we have to do with two things: the sense object and the thought. Accordingly we must imagine that this sense object is a condensed thought-being. Now one mineral being works upon another in an external way. It impinges on it and moves it; it warms it, lights it up, dissolves it, etc. This external kind of action can be expressed through thoughts. Man forms thoughts as to the way in which mineral things work upon each other externally in accordance with law. By this means his separate thoughts expand to a thought-picture of the whole mineral world. And this thought-picture is a reflection of the archetype of the whole mineral world of the senses. It is to be found as a complete whole in the spirit-world.

In the plant kingdom there is added to the external action of one thing on another, the phenomena of growth and propagation. The plant grows and brings forth from itself beings like itself. Life is here added to what confronts man in the mineral kingdom. Simple reflection on this fact leads to a view that is enlightening in this connection. The plant has the power to create its living form, and to reproduce it in a being of its own kind. And between the formless nature of mineral matter, as we encounter it in gases, liquids, etc., and the living form of the plant world, stand the forms of the crystals. In the crystals we have to seek the transition from the formless mineral world to the plant kingdom which has the capacity for creating living forms. In this externally sensible formative process in the kingdoms both of the mineral and the plant, we see condensed to its sensible expression the purely spiritual process which takes place when the spiritual germs of the three higher regions of the “Spiritland” form themselves into the spirit-shapes of the lower regions. The transition from the formless spirit-germ to the shaped formation corresponds to the process of crystallisation as its archetype in the spiritual world. If this transition condenses so that the senses can perceive it in its outcome, it then shows itself in the world of the senses as the process of mineral crystallisation.

Now there is also in the plant life a formed spirit-germ. But here the living, formative capacity is still retained in the formed being. In the crystal the spirit-germ has lost its constructive power during the process of formation. It has exhausted its life in the form produced. The plant has form and in addition to that it has the capacity of producing form. The characteristic of the spirit-germ in the higher regions of the “Spiritland” has been preserved in the plant life. The plant is therefore form as is the crystal, and added to that, formative force. Besides the form which the Primal Beings have taken in the plant-form there works at the latter yet another form which bears the impress of the spirit-being of the higher regions. But only that which expends itself in the produced form of the plant is sensibly perceptible; the formative beings who give life to this form are present in the plant kingdom in a way not perceptible to the senses. The physical eye sees the lily small to-day, and after some time grown larger. The formative force which elaborates the latter out of the former is not seen by this eye. This formative force is that part of the plant world which is imperceptible to the senses. The spirit-germs have descended a stage in order to work in the kingdom of formative forces. In spiritual science, Elemental Kingdoms are spoken of. If one designates the Primal Forms which as yet have no form as the First Elemental Kingdom, then the sensibly invisible force-beings, who work as the craftsmen of plant growth, belong to the Second Elemental Kingdom.

In the animal world sensation and impulse are added to the capacities for growth and propagation. These are manifestations of the soul-world. A being endowed with these belongs to the soul-world, receives impressions from it and reacts on it. Now every sensation, every impulse which arises in the animal is brought forth from the foundations of the animal soul. The form is more enduring than the feeling or impulse. One may say that the life of sensation bears the same relation to the more enduring living form as the self-changing plant-form bears to the rigid crystal. The plant to a certain extent exhausts itself in the shape-forming force; during its life it goes on constantly adding new forms to itself. First it sends out the root, then the leaf-structure, then the flowers, and so on. The animal is enclosed in a shape complete in itself and develops within this the changeful life of feeling and impulse. And this life has its existence in the soul-world. Just as the plant is that which grows and propagates itself, the animal is that which feels, and unfolds its impulses. They constitute for the animal the formless which is always developing into new forms. They have their archetypal processes ultimately in the highest regions of “Spiritland.” But they carry out their activities in the soul-world. There are thus in the animal world, in addition to the force-beings who, invisible to the senses, direct growth and propagation, others who have descended a stage still deeper into the soul-world. In the animal kingdom, formless beings who clothe themselves in soul-sheaths, are present as the master-builders bringing about sensations and impulses. They are the real architects of the animal forms. In spiritual science, the region to which they belong may be called the Third Elemental Kingdom.

Man, in addition to having the capacities named as those of plants and animals, is equipped also with the power to work up his sensations into ideas and thoughts and to control his impulses by thinking. The archetypal thought, which appears in the plant as shape and in the animal as soul-force, makes its appearance in him in its own form as thought itself. The animal is soul; man is spirit. The spirit-being which in the animal is engaged in soul-development has now descended a stage deeper still. In the animal it is soul-forming. In man it has entered into the world of material substance itself. The spirit is present within the human sensible body. And because it appears in a sensible garment, it can appear only as that shadowy reflection which represents the thought of the spirit-being. The spirit manifests in man conditioned by the physical brain organism. But, at the same time, it has become the inner being of man. Thought is the form which the formless spirit-being assumes in man, just as it takes on shape in the plant and soul in the animal. Consequently man, in so far as he is a thinking being, has no Elemental Kingdom building him from without. His Elemental Kingdom works in his physical body. Only in so far as man is form and sentient-being do Elemental Beings of the same kind work upon him as work upon plants and animals. The thought-organism in man is worked out entirely from within his physical body. In the spirit-organism of man, in his nervous system which has developed into the perfected brain, we have sensibly visible before us that which works on plants and animals as supersensible force. This brings it about that the animal manifests feeling of self, but man consciousness of self. In the animal, spirit feels itself as soul, it does not yet grasp itself as spirit. In man the spirit recognises itself as spirit, although — owing to the physical conditions — merely as a shadowy reflection of the spirit, as thought.

Accordingly, the threefold world falls into the following divisions: 1. The kingdom of the archetypal formless beings (First Elemental Kingdom); 2. The kingdom of the form-creating beings (Second Elemental Kingdom); 3. The kingdom of the soul-beings (Third Elemental Kingdom); 4. The kingdom of the created forms (crystal forms); 5. The kingdom that is perceptible to the senses in forms, but in which the form-creating beings are also working (Plant Kingdom); 6. The kingdom which is sensibly perceptible in forms, upon which, however, there work in addition the form-creating beings, and also the beings that are active in soul (Animal Kingdom); 7. The kingdom in which the forms become sensibly perceptible, but upon which work not only the form-creating beings and the beings that expend their activities in soul-life, and in which the spirit itself takes shape in the form of thought within the world of the senses (Human Kingdom.)

From this it can be seen how the basic constituents of the human being living in the body are connected with the spiritual world. The physical body, the ether-body, the sentient-soul-body, and the intellectual-soul, are to be regarded as archetypes of the “Spiritland” condensed in the sensible world. The physical body comes into existence through the fact that the archetype of man becomes densified to the point of sensible appearance. For this reason one can call this physical body also a being of the First Elemental Kingdom, densified to sensible perceptibility. The ether-body comes into existence by the form that has arisen in this way, having its mobility maintained by a being that extends its activity into the kingdom of the senses, but is not itself visible to the senses. If one wishes to characterise this being fully, one must say it has its primal origin as a spirit-germ in the highest regions of the “Spiritland” and then shapes itself in the second region into an archetype of life. It works in the sensible world as such an archetype of life. In a similar way, the being that builds up the sentient-soul-body has its origin in the highest regions of the “Spiritland,” forms itself in the third region of the same into the archetype of the soul-world and works as such in the sensible world. But the intellectual soul is formed by the spirit-being of man, who in the fourth region of the “Spiritland” shaped itself into the archetype of thought and, as such, acts directly as thinking human being in the world of the senses. Thus man stands within the world of the senses; in this way his spirit works on his physical body, on his ether-body and on his sentient-soul-body. Thus this spirit comes into manifestation in the intellectual soul. Archetypes, in the form of beings who in a certain sense are external to man, work upon the three lower members of his being; in his intellectual soul he himself becomes a conscious worker on himself. And the beings that work on his physical body are the same as those that form mineral nature. On his ether body work beings of the kind that live in the plant kingdom, on his sentient-soul-body work beings such as live in the animal kingdom; both are imperceptible to the senses but extend their activity into these kingdoms.

Thus do the different worlds work together. The world in which man lives is the expression of this collaboration.

When we have grasped the sensible world in this way, understanding arises for Beings of another kind than those that have their existence in the above-mentioned four kingdoms of Nature. One example of such Beings is what is called the Folk Spirit, or Nation Spirit. This Being does not manifest directly in a material form. He lives his life entirely in the sensations, feelings, tendencies, etc., which are to be observed as those common to a whole people. He is a Being who does not incarnate physically, but, as man so forms his body that it is physically visible, so does that Being form his body out of the substance of the soul-world. This soul-body of the Nation Spirit is like a cloud in which the members of a nation live, the effects of whose activity come into evidence in the souls of the human beings concerned, but they do not originate in these souls themselves. The Nation Spirit remains a shadowy conception of the mind without being or life, an empty abstraction, to those who do not picture it in this way. And the same may be said in reference to the Being known as the Spirit of the Age (Zeitgeist.) The spiritual gaze extends in this way over many other beings, both of a lower and higher order, who live in the environment of man without his being able to perceive them with his bodily senses. But those who have the faculty of spiritual sight perceive such beings and can describe them. To the lower kinds of such beings belong those that are described by observers of the spiritual world as salamanders, sylphs, undines, gnomes. It should not be necessary to say that such descriptions cannot be faithful reproductions of the reality that underlies them. If they were such, the world in question would be not a spiritual, but a grossly material one. They attempt to make clear a spiritual reality which can only be represented in this way: that is, by similes. It is quite comprehensible that anyone who admits the validity of physical vision alone will regard such beings as the offspring of wild hallucination and superstition. They can of course never become visible to the eye of sense, for they have no material bodies. The superstition does not consist in regarding such beings as real, but in believing that they appear in forms perceptible to the physical senses. Such Beings co-operate in the building of the world and we encounter them as soon as we enter the higher realms that are hidden from the bodily senses. It is not those who see in such descriptions pictures of spiritual realities who are superstitious but rather those who believe in the material existence of the pictures, as well as those who deny the spirit because they think they must deny the material picture.

Mention must also be made of those beings who do not descend to the soul-world, but whose sheath is composed of the formations of the “Spiritland” alone. Man perceives them and becomes their companion when he opens his spiritual eye and spiritual ear to them. Thereby much becomes intelligible to man, at which otherwise he could only gaze uncomprehendingly. Everything becomes light around him; he sees the Primal Causes of effects in the world of the senses. He comprehends what he either denies entirely when he has no spiritual eyes, or in reference to which he has to content himself by saying: “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy.” People with delicate spiritual feelings become uneasy when they begin to have a glimmering, when they become vaguely aware of a world other than the material one around them, one in which they have to grope around as the blind grope among visible objects. Nothing but the clear vision of these higher regions of existence and a thorough understanding and penetration of what takes place in them can really fortify a man and lead him to his true goal. Through insight into what is hidden from the senses the human being expands his nature in such a way that he feels his life prior to this expansion to be no more than “a dream about the world.”

6. Thought-forms and the Human Aura

It has been said that the formations of any one of the three worlds can have reality for a man only when he has the faculties or the organs for perceiving them. Man perceives certain processes in space as light-phenomena only because he has a properly formed eye. It depends on the receptivity of a being how much of reality reveals itself to that being. Therefore a man may never say that only what he can perceive is real. There can be much that is real, for the perception of which he has no organs. Now the soul-world and the spirit-world are just as real as the sensible world, indeed they are real in a much higher sense. No physical eye can see feelings and ideas; but they are real. And as by means of his outer senses man has the corporeal world before him as an object of perception, so do feelings, instincts, thoughts, and so forth, become objects of perception for his spiritual organs. Exactly as processes in space can be seen with the sensible eye as colour-phenomena, so can the above-named soul and spiritual processes become, by means of the inner senses, perceptions which are analogous to the sensible colour-phenomena. To understand fully in what sense this is meant is only possible for one who has trodden the path of knowledge to be described in the following chapter and has thereby developed his inner senses. For such a one the soul-phenomena in the soul-region around him and the spiritual phenomena in the spiritual region become supersensibly visible. Feelings which he experiences in other beings ray out from them as light-phenomena for him; thoughts to which he directs his attention flow through spiritual space. For him, the thought of one man about another is not an imperceptible but a perceptible process. The content of a thought lives as such only in the soul of the thinker; but this content activates effects in the spirit-world. These are the perceptible processes for the eyes of spirit. The thought streams out as an actual reality from one human being and flows to the other. And the way in which this thought works on the other person is experienced as a perceptible process in the spiritual world. Thus the physically perceptible human being is only part of the whole man for one whose spiritual senses have unfolded. This physical man becomes the centre of soul and spiritual outpourings. It is impossible to do more than faintly indicate the richly varied world which reveals itself here to the seer. A human though*, which otherwise lives only in the understanding mind of the listener, appears, for example, as a spiritually perceptible colour-phenomenon. Its colour tallies with the character of the thought. A thought which springs from a sensual impulse in a man has a different colour from a thought conceived in the service of pure knowledge, noble beauty, or the eternal good. Thoughts which spring from the sensual life course through the soul-world in shades of red colour. 6The explanations given here are from their very nature exposed to great misunderstandings. For this reason it is proposed in this new edition to return quite briefly to these points in a note at the end of the book. See under Addenda p. 115. A thought which springs from devoted and unselfish love rays out in glorious rose-red. And just as the content of a thought comes into expression in its supersensibly visible form, so also does its greater or lesser definition. The precise thought of a thinker appears itself as a formation with definite outlines; a confused idea appears as a wavering, cloudy formation.

In this way the soul and spirit of man appear as the supersensible part of the whole human being.

The colour effects perceptible to the eyes of spirit which ray out round the physical man when observed in his activity, and which envelop him like a cloud (somewhat in the form of an egg) are a human aura. The size of this aura differs in different people. But an idea can be formed of it by picturing that the whole man appears on an average twice as tall and four times as broad as the physical man.

The most varied tones of colour ebb and flow in the aura. And this ebb and flow is a true picture of the inner life of the man. As this changes, so do the colour-tones change. But certain permanent qualities such as talents, habits, traits of character, express themselves also in permanent and basic colour-tones.

In people who for the time being are remote from the experiences of the “Path of Knowledge” described in a later chapter of this book, misunderstandings may arise with regard to the nature of what is here described as “Aura.” It would be possible to arrive at the idea that the “colours” here described came before the soul just as a physical colour comes before the eye. But such a “soul colour” would be nothing but an hallucination. With impressions that are “hallucinatory,” spiritual science has nothing whatever to do. And in any case they are not what is meant in the description now before us. We reach a right conception if we keep the following in mind. The soul experiences in a physical colour not only the sense impression; it has an actual experience. This experience is different when the soul — through the eye — perceives a yellow surface from what it is when it perceives a blue one. This experience may be called “living in yellow” or “living in blue.” Now the soul that has trodden the path of knowledge has a similar “experience in yellow” when observing the active soul-experiences of other beings; an “experience in blue” when observing devotional moods of soul. The essential point is, not that in the thought of another soul the seer sees “blue,” just as he sees blue in the physical world, but that he has an experience which justifies him in calling the thought “blue,” just as the physical man calls, for instance, a curtain “blue.” And further, it is essential that the “seer” should be conscious that this is an experience free from the body, so that it is possible for him to speak about the value and the meaning of soul-life in a world the perception of which is not mediated through the human body. Although this meaning of the description must in all cases be taken into account, it is entirely a matter of course that the seer should speak of “blue,” “yellow,” “green,” etc., in the “aura.”

The aura varies greatly according to the different temperaments and dispositions of human beings; it varies also according to the stages of spiritual development. A man who yields altogether to his animal impulses has a completely different aura from one who lives much in the world of thought. The aura of a religiously disposed nature differs essentially from one that is immersed in the trivial experiences of the day. In addition, all changing moods, all inclinations, joys and sufferings find their expression in the aura.

The auras of different soul-experiences must be compared with each other in order to learn to understand the meaning of the colour tones. Take, to begin with, soul-experiences permeated with strongly marked emotions. They may be divided into two kinds: those when the soul is chiefly impelled to such feelings by the animal nature, and those when these emotions take a more delicate form, when they are strongly influenced by reflection. In the first kind of experiences mainly brown and reddish-yellow streams of colour stream through the aura in definite places. In persons with more delicate emotions there appear in the same places tones of brighter reddish-yellow and green. It is noticeable that as intelligence increases the green tones become more and more frequent. People who are very intelligent, but who give themselves up to the satisfying of their animal impulses, show much green in their aura. But this green will always have a stronger or weaker admixture of brown or brownish-red. In unintelligent people a great part of the aura is permeated by brownish-red or even by dark blood-red streams.

The auras of quiet, deliberate, thoughtful moods of soul are essentially different from those of other conditions. The brownish and reddish tones recede, and different shades of green become prominent. In strenuous thinking the aura shows a pleasing green undertone. These natures know how to find their bearings in every condition of life.

Blue tones of colour appear in intensely devotional moods of soul. The more a man places his Self in the service of a cause the more pronounced become the blue shades. Here too there are two quite different kinds of people. There are natures who are not in the habit of exerting their power of thought, passive souls, who as it were have nothing to throw into the stream of events in the world but their “good feeling.” Their aura glimmers with beautiful blue. This is also the appearance of many religious and devotional natures. Compassionate souls and those who find pleasure in giving themselves up to a life of benevolence have a similar aura. If such people are intelligent in addition, green and blue currents alternate, or the blue itself may assume a greenish shade. The peculiarity of the active souls in contrast to the passive is that their blue is pervaded from within with bright colour tones. Richly inventive natures, those that have fruitful thoughts, radiate bright tones of colour as if from an inner point. This is the case in the highest degree with persons whom one calls “wise,” and especially with those who are full of fruitful ideas. Generally speaking, everything that indicates spiritual activity takes more the form of rays which spread out from within; while everything that arises from the animal life has the form of irregular clouds which stream through the aura.

The colourings of formations in the aura differ according to whether the ideas and conceptions which arise from the activity of the soul are placed at the service of the person's own animal impulses or of idealistic interest. An inventive person, who applies all his thoughts to the satisfaction of his sensual passions, shows dark blue-red shades; he, on the contrary, who places his thoughts selflessly at the service of an outside interest, shows light reddish-blue colour tones. A spiritual life combined with noble devotion and capacity for sacrifice shows rose-pink or light violet colours.

Not only does the fundamental disposition of the soul show its colour streaming in the aura but transient emotions, passions, moods and other inner experiences do the same. Violent anger that breaks out suddenly creates red streams; feelings of injured dignity which suddenly well up appear in dark green clouds. Colour phenomena do not however appear only in irregular cloudlike forms, but also in defined, regularly shaped figures. If we observe a fit of terror in a man we see this in the aura from top to bottom as undulating stripes of blue colour, suffused with a bluish-red shimmer. In a person in whom we observe how he is expecting with anxiety some particular event, we can see red-blue stripes like rays constantly streaming through the aura from within outwards.

Every sensation that is induced in a man from outside can be observed by one who has developed the faculty of exact spiritual perception. People who are greatly excited by every external impression show a continuous flickering of small reddish-blue spots and flecks in the aura. In people who do not feel intensely, these flecks have an orange-yellow or even a beautiful yellow colouring. In so-called “absentmindedness” bluish flecks more or less changing in form play over into green.

A still more highly developed spiritual “vision” can distinguish three kinds of colour phenomena in the aura, radiating and surging round a man. First, there are colours which have more or less the character of opaqueness and dullness. Certainly if we compare them with those that our physical eyes see they appear, in comparison, fugitive and transparent. But in the supersensible world itself they make the space which they fill comparatively opaque; they fill it like clouds. Colours of a second kind consist of those which are as it were light itself. They light up the space which they fill so that it becomes, through them, a shining space. Colour-phenomena of the third kind are quite different from these two. They have a raying, sparkling, glittering character. They fill space not merely with light but with glistening, glittering rays. There is something active, inherently mobile, in these colours. The others are quiet, lacking in brilliance. These on the contrary continuously produce themselves out of themselves, as it were. By the first two kinds of colours the space is filled with a delicate fluidity which remains quietly in it; by the third it is filled with a life constantly kindling itself anew in never resting activity.

These three kinds of colours are not ranged as it were alongside each other in the human aura; they are not each enclosed in a separate section of space, but they interpenetrate each other in the most varied ways. All three kinds can be seen playing through each other in one region of the aura, just as a physical body such as a bell can be heard and seen simultaneously. The aura thereby becomes an exceedingly complicated phenomenon: for we have as it were to do with three auras within each other and interpenetrating each other. The difficulty can be overcome however by directing attention to the three kinds alternately. We then do in the super-sensible world something similar to what we do in the sensible, for example, when we close our eyes in order to give ourselves up fully to the impression of a piece of music. The “seer” has as it were three different organs for the three kinds of colours. And in order to observe undisturbed, he can open or close any one of the organs to impressions. As a rule only the one kind of organ can at first be developed by a “seer,” namely, that for the first kind of colours. A person at this stage can see only the one aura; the other two remain invisible to him. In the same way a person may be accessible to impressions from the first two but not from the third. The higher stage of the “gift of seeing” consists in a person's being able to see all three auras and for the purpose of study to direct his attention to the one or the other.

The threefold aura is the supersensibly visible expression of the being of man. The three members: body, soul and spirit, come to expression in it.

The first aura is a mirror of the influence which the body exercises on the soul of man; the second characterises the life of the soul itself, the soul that has raised itself above what affects the senses directly, but is not yet dedicated to the service of the eternal; the third mirrors the dominion which the eternal spirit has won over the transitory man.

When descriptions of the aura are given, as here, it must be emphasised that these things are not only difficult to observe but above all difficult to describe. No one therefore should see in a description like this anything more than a stimulus to thought.

Thus for the seer the particular character of the life of soul expresses itself in the nature of the aura. When he encounters a soul-life that is given up entirely to passing impulses, passions and momentary external incitements, he sees the first aura in the loudest tones of colour; the second, on the contrary, is only slightly developed. He sees in it only scanty colour formations; while the third is barely indicated. Only here and there, a small, glittering spark of colour shows itself, indicating that even in such a soul-mood the Eternal lives as a seed, but that it is driven into the background by the effect of the sensuous as has been indicated. The more the man casts away his lower impulses, the less obtrusive becomes the first part of the aura. The second part then grows larger and larger, filling the colour-body within which the physical man lives, more and more completely with its illuminating force. And the more a man proves himself to be a “Servant of the Eternal,” the more does the wonderful third aura reveal itself, that part which bears witness to how far the human being has become a citizen of the spiritual world. For the divine Self radiates out through this part of the human aura into the earthly world. In so far as human beings reveal this aura, they are the flames through whom the Divine illumines this world. They show through this part of the aura how far they know how to live not for themselves but for the eternally True, the nobly Beautiful and Good; how far they have wrung from their narrower self the power to offer themselves upon the altar of the great World Process.

Thus what the man has made of himself in the course of his incarnations comes to expression in the aura.

All three parts of the aura contain colours of the most varied shades. But the character of these shades changes with the stage of development reached by the man. In the first part of the aura can be seen undeveloped life of impulse in all shades from red to blue. These shades have a dull, muddy character. The obtrusive red shades point to the sensual desires, the fleshly lusts, the passion for the enjoyments of the palate and the stomach. Green shades appear to be found especially in inferior natures tending to obtuseness and indifference, greedily giving themselves up to every enjoyment, but nevertheless shunning the exertions necessary to bring them to satisfaction. Where the desires are passionately bent on any goal beyond the reach of the capacities already acquired, brownish-green and yellowish-green auric colours appear. Certain modern modes of life breed this kind of aura.

A personal conceit which is entirely rooted in unworthy inclinations, thus representing the lowest stage of egotism, shows itself in muddy yellow to brown shades. Now it is clear that even the animal life of impulse can take on a pleasing character. There is a purely natural capacity for self-sacrifice, a striking degree of which is to be found in the animal kingdom. This development of an animal impulse finds its most beautiful consummation in natural mother love. These selfless natural impulses come to expression in the first aura in fight reddish to rose-red shades of colour. Cowardly fear and terror of external provocations show themselves in the aura in brown-blue and grey-blue colours.

The second aura again shows the most varied grades of colours. Brown and orange coloured formations point to strongly developed conceit, pride and ambition. Inquisitiveness also betrays itself through red-yellow flecks. Bright yellow mirrors clear thinking and intelligence; green is the expression of understanding of fife and the world. Children who learn easily have a great deal of green in this part of the aura. A green-yellow in the second aura betokens a good memory. Rose-red indicates a benevolent affectionate nature; blue is the sign of piety. The nearer piety comes to being religious fervour, the more does blue pass over into violet. Idealism and an earnest view of life in a higher sense, are seen as indigo blue.

The basic colours of the third aura are yellow, green and blue. Bright yellow appears here if the thinking is filled with lofty, far-reaching ideas that comprehend the details as part of the whole of the divine World Order. If the thinking is intuitive and also completely purified from all sensory conceptions, the yellow has a golden brilliance. Green expresses love for all beings; blue is the sign of a capacity for selfless sacrifice for all beings. If this capacity for sacrifice rises to the height of strong willing which devotes itself actively to the service of the world, the blue brightens to light violet. If pride and desire for honour as last remnants of personal egotism are still present, despite a more highly developed soul-nature, there appear beside the yellow shades others verging on orange. It must however be remarked that in this part of the aura the colours are very different from the shades one is accustomed to see in the world of the senses. It displays to the seer a beauty and a sublimity with which nothing in the ordinary world can be compared.

This description of the aura cannot be rightly judged by anyone who does not attach the chief weight to the fact that “seeing the aura” implies an extension and enrichment of what is perceived in the physical world: an extension indeed that aims at knowing that form of soul-life which has spiritual reality apart from the world of the senses. This presentation has nothing whatever to do with a reading of character or of a man's thoughts from an aura perceived in an hallucinatory manner. It seeks to expand knowledge in the direction of the spiritual world and will have nothing to do with the questionable art of reading human souls from their auras.

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"You can see from this, my dear friends, what mischief will be set on foot if the truths of Spiritual Science are withheld. For man will be exposed to the forces of evil, and he will only be protected from it by giving himself up to the spiritual life of the good. To withhold the spiritual life of goodness from men is to be no friend to humanity. Whoever does this, be he Freemason or Jesuit, is no friend to humanity. For it means handing men over to the forces of evil. And there may be a purpose in doing so. This purpose may be to confine goodness to a small circle, in order by the help of this goodness to dominate the helpless humanity who are thus led by evil into the follies of life."

—Rudolf Steiner,
Spiritual Science Notes On Goethe's Faust, Vol. II, No. 273-8.

Spiritual Exercises

Calendar of the Soul

In 1912 Rudolf Steiner offered a “calendar of the soul” with weekly verses that express how the changing seasons in both the outer natural world and our inner lives help humanity evolve. Download and read the verses in four translations with commentary by Eloise Krivosheia of the Los Angeles Branch of the Anthroposophical Society.


2022-2023 Calendar Dates