Centre of Destruction

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A centre of destruction, a destructive hearth, works within the human being so that he can develop and harden his I. Here matter is thrown into chaos and dissolved. This centre of destruction, which is spread over the whole human organism but has its bodily centre in the centre of gravity of the human being in the metabolic region, is normally not accessible to consciousness because it lies beyond the memory mirror. Without us being aware of it, our thoughts penetrate down below the memory mirror into that region of the etheric body which underlies the growth, but also the emergence of the will forces. This part of the etheric body then causes the dissolution of matter in the physical body. Only through appropriate spiritual training can consciousness penetrate into this realm. A strict moral self-education must be connected with this, for if these forces penetrate to the outside, they become a terrible source of evil up to and including black magic practices. On the other hand, through all moral impulses, the germs are already formed here for the future New Jupiter existence, which is described in the Apocalypse of John as the New Jerusalem.

The I and the Source of Evil

„This I, how does it come into being? This I is formed by the fact that the human being can plunge into a chaos of destruction. This I must be steeled and hardened in that world which is within the human being as the world of a hearth of destruction. With this I, one cannot live beyond the sphere of the outer world of the senses.

Let us imagine schematically the centre of destruction inside the human being (see drawing, red). It is spread over the whole human organism. What I am describing is intense, not extensive, but I will draw it schematically.

Drawing from GA 207, p. 26
Drawing from GA 207, p. 26

There is the source of destruction, there is the human shell. If what is inside were to spread over the whole world, what would live in the world through man? Evil! Evil is nothing other than the chaos thrown outwards that is necessary within the human being. And in this chaos, in that which must be in man, but must also remain in him as a hearth of evil, in that the human I, the human egoity, must be hardened.“ (Lit.:GA 207, p. 25f)

Plate 14 (GA 206)

„Now, however, we can also descend to the other side into our (arrows, Plate 14 top right) actual being. This happens when the destructive forces of death that lie within us grasp us more than they usually do; or rather, when they become conscious. Just as we can penetrate beyond the limits of sense life, so we can also penetrate downwards through what I call occult training.

But what is experienced there must remain within the human being if it is not to appear pathological in a certain way. Man must not let it come up into his ordinary consciousness. He must leave this region below, where it is otherwise unconscious. That is to say, man must not allow this region, which lies in the etheric body, to flow up into his ordinary consciousness, but he must conduct his ordinary consciousness down into the etheric body. So that which is down there must not penetrate into the ordinary conception, but the ordinary conception must penetrate down there [...].

In this region is rooted all that of the human soul-life and body-life which, in the ordinary sense, is not allowed to develop in the outer behaviour of the human being. Human evil is rooted there.

You see from this a very remarkable fact. This source of evil is actually constantly within us. We must not for a moment entertain the illusion that the source of evil is not within us. It lies, if I may say so, beneath the life of the conception. It must not infect the life of the conception, otherwise the conceptions become motives for evil; it must remain below. And the one who wants to behold it there must be so morally strong that he does not let it up, that he really only sends down the consciousness.“ (Lit.:GA 206, p. 164f)

Thinking as the Cause of Destructive Forces

„Our inner being is really like a mirror. We look at the outside world. Here are the outer sensory impressions. We attach ideas to them. Then these ideas are mirrored by the inner world. By looking inside, we only come to this mirror inside (see drawing on page 20, red). We see what is reflected back in the memory mirror (red arrows). With this ordinary consciousness we can no more look inside the human being than one can look behind the mirror without breaking it [...]

Drawing from GA 207, p. 20
Drawing from GA 207, p. 20

What do you see inside the human being? You can see how something of the power of perception and thinking, which develops in front of the memory mirror, penetrates below the memory mirror. The thoughts penetrate below this memory mirror and work in the human etheric body, in that part of the human etheric body which underlies the growth, but also the development of the will forces. By looking out into the sunlit space, by looking over all that comes to us from sense impressions, something shines into our inner being, which, of course, on the one hand becomes the ideas of memory, but which nevertheless seeps through the mirror of memory; which penetrates us just as we are penetrated, let us say, by the processes of nourishment, growth and so on. The thought-forces first penetrate the etheric body, and this etheric body, penetrated by the thought-forces, now acts in a very special way upon the physical body. There arises in the physical body a complete transformation of the material existence which is in the physical body of man. In the outer world matter is nowhere completely destroyed. Therefore, the newer philosophy and natural science speak of the preservation of matter for the outer world. But this law of the preservation of matter applies only to the outer world. Inside the human being, matter is completely transformed back into nothingness. Matter is completely destroyed there in its essence [...]

We all carry under our memory mirror, precisely for the purpose of developing the human thoughtful I, the rage for destruction, the rage for dissolution of matter. There is no human self-knowledge that does not point to this inner human fact in all intensity [...]

Within Western civilisation, the human being is the envelope of a destructive hearth, and actually the forces of decline can only be transformed into the forces of ascent when the human being becomes aware that he is the envelope of a destructive hearth.

What would happen if man were not led towards this consciousness through spiritual science? Well, we can already see in the development of the present time what would happen. That which is, as it were, isolated, separated in man and should only work in man, should have this single place where matter is thrown back into its chaos, that penetrates out, that penetrates into the outer human instincts. This will become Western and Earth civilisation in general. This can be seen in all the destructive forces that are appearing today, for example, in Eastern Europe and so on. This is the destructive fury thrown from within into the outside, and man can only find his way in the future in the face of what actually passes into his instinct through something that must be in him, when again real human knowledge occurs, when again our attention is drawn to this human source of destruction within, but which must be there for the sake of the development of human thinking. For that strength of thought which man must have in order that he may have his worldview appropriate to the present time, that strength of thought which must be there before the mirror of memory, causes the continuation of thought into the etheric body, and this etheric body, permeated by thought, has just this destructive effect upon the physical body. This source of destruction is once in the modern man of the West. Knowledge only draws attention to it. And it is much worse when the hearth is there without man's consciousness being able to point to it, than when man with full consciousness takes knowledge of this source of destruction and from this point of view enters into the modern development of civilisation.“ (Lit.:GA 207, p. 19ff)

Destructive Forces and Will

The destructive forces have their centre just below the diaphragm in the centre of gravity of the human being. From all human beings common effects emanate here, which are the real cause of the dissolution processes taking place to a great extent in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms on earth. The will is connected with the dissolving forces of our planet. These forces work in the waking state of the human being.

„You all have within you what can be called the centre of gravity of your own physical person. This centre of gravity is situated somewhat higher in the waking man, it lies below the diaphragm; in the sleeping man it is situated somewhat lower, but it is there. There are therefore one thousand five hundred million such centres of gravity over the earth. These give a total effect. And what emanates from this total effect gives the real cause for that which to a great extent goes on in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms on earth. What you see around you in the form of air effects, water effects, other mineral occurrences, is only attributed to mineral causes if it is based on a false science; in reality, its true cause lies within human beings...

Humanity, wandering about on earth, actually carries within itself the cause of what happens. So that mineralogy, botany, zoology cannot really be pursued without anthropology, without inquiring of man. Science speaks to you of chemical, physical, mechanical forces. These physical, chemical, mechanical forces are intimately related to human willpower, to that human willpower which is actually concentrated in the centre of gravity of the human being. When one speaks of the earth and wants to hit upon the truth, one must not speak of some abstract earth, as geologists do, but one must speak of the earth in such a way that one adds humanity to the earth. These are the truths that reveal themselves beyond the threshold. Everything that can be known on this side of the threshold actually belongs to the realm of illusions of knowledge, does not belong to the realm of truths of knowledge.

Now the question arises: What connection is there for mankind today - and that is what we are talking about at first - between the forces of the human will, which are concentrated in his centre of gravity, and the external physical and chemical forces? - In normal life this relationship is expressed only in the human metabolic processes. When man takes into himself the substances of the outer world, it is actually his will that digests, processes these substances. And if nothing else worked but this will, then that which is absorbed into the human being from outside would merely be decomposed. The human will has the power to decompose, to dissolve all other substances and forces, and the connection between man and the rest of mineral, vegetable and animal nature is today such that his will is connected with the dissolving forces of our planet, with the destroying forces of our planet.“ (Lit.:GA 191, p. 230f)

Dissolution of Matter in the Centre of the Earth

The centres of gravity of all human beings, from which the forces of dissolution emanate, have their common centre in the centre of the earth, whereby matter is also dissolved here. It passes out of three-dimensional space into another dimension. But exactly to the same extent that it disappears in the centre, it re-enters three-dimensional space from the periphery, but in such a way that now everything that was imprinted on the original matter in terms of forms is now worked into the inner structure of this new matter. Thus, at the beginning of the seven-stage evolution of our planetary system, before the Old Saturn had been formed, there was the so-called crystal heaven outside the zodiac, which contained the deeds of the beings of a previous evolutionary series.

„You see, a planet in the course of its development becomes smaller and smaller, it contracts. That is the fate of the matter of the planet; but that is not all, that is only something that the physical eye and physical instruments can observe on the planet, so to speak. There is also a development of matter beyond this point.

And now let us consider this development of the material beyond this point, and I shall come to what I have said is difficult, perhaps impossible, for the present mind to comprehend. It is now the case that the earth is continually contracting. As a result, matter presses from all sides towards the centre. And now I say, naturally with full consciousness that there is a law of the conservation of force, but also in full consciousness of the facts known to every occultist: Matter presses more and more towards the centre, and the peculiar thing is that matter disappears in the centre.

To make it quite vivid: Imagine you had a piece of matter, which would be pushed more and more into the centre - in the centre it disappears; it is not pushed over to the other side, it actually disappears in the centre into nothing! So that you can imagine that the whole earth will one day disappear into the centre, as the material parts crowd together towards the centre. But that is not all. To the same extent that it disappears into the centre, to the same extent it appears in the surrounding circle. Out there it reappears. At one point in space matter disappears, and from outside it reappears. Everything that disappears into the centre comes in again from the periphery, is drawn in, and in such a way that into this matter is now worked all that which the beings who have worked on the planet have imprinted on matter; not, of course, in its present form, but in a form such as is given to it by this transformation. You will thus see the Cologne Cathedral, as its material particles disappear into the centre, arrive again from the other side. Nothing, nothing is lost from what is worked on a planet, but it comes again from the other side.

That which arrived at the beginning of our evolution on earth before the evolution of Saturn, we would have to place outside the zodiac. The primeval wisdom called it the crystal heaven, and in this crystal heaven were deposited the deeds of the beings of an earlier evolution. They formed, so to speak, that on the basis of which the new beings began to create.“ (Lit.:GA 110, p. 157f)

Upbuilding forces

In the state of sleep, on the other hand, upbuilding forces work in us, which also work out into nature.

„But the earth, as I have already said, would have a sad future if it were not for the other pole of man, the upbuilding one. Just as the causes of everything destructive lie in the human will, which is concentrated in the centre of gravity of man, so the upbuilding forces lie in that sphere which men enter during their sleep. From the time he falls asleep until he wakes up, he is with his I and his astral body in a state which we usually describe by saying that the I and the astral body are outside the physical body. But there the human being is absolutely a spiritual being, and there he develops the forces that become active between falling asleep and waking up. And during this time, through these forces, he is in relation to all that builds up the earth planet, which adds the upbuilding forces to the destructive forces. If you were never to walk about on the earth, the destructive forces which actually emanate from your will would not work within the mineral, the vegetable, the animal kingdom on the earth. If you were never asleep on earth, then that which always builds up the earth again would not emanate from your intelligence. The actual upbuilding forces of our earth-planet also lie in humanity itself. I do not say: in the individual human being. - I have expressly said before how these individual causes are connected. But in the whole of humanity lie the forces also for building up, and that in the intelligent pole of the human being; but not in the day intelligence. The intelligence of the day is something that places itself like a dead thing in the becoming of the earth. The intelligence of man, which works for him unconsciously during sleep, is actually the same thing that continually builds up the earth-planet.“ (Lit.:GA 191, p. 233)

In these upbuilding forces, those spirits work who are called Laj'lah (Hebrewלילה "night") in the creation account of the Bible. They are Primordial Angels (Spirits of Personality) retarded in their development and have retained certain characteristics from the Old Saturnian existence, where there was no light and the whole world was immersed in darkness. However, when the Laj'lah misuse their beneficial, life-giving powers, which work down to the deepest grounds of the physical body, they become Asuras - the most dangerous adversaries we know. The Spirit of Gravity also belongs to their realm and forms the spiritual cause of gravity. Its essential and indispensable task for our life on earth is to lead our I and our astral body back into the living physical body when we awaken. (Lit.:GA 266b, p. 49ff) Through the good Asuras, the germ of the I-consciousness and the I-feeling was already implanted on the Old Saturn in the disposition of the physical human body. The evil Asuras are the direct adversaries of the Father-God, who was the Lord of the Old Saturnian development. The evil Asuras are spirits of the very strongest egoism who seduce man into black magic. Sexual rites play a major role in this. (Lit.:GA 266a, p. 169) In connection with this is also the sun demon Sorat (Hebrewסורת), who is at the same time the earth demon, who wants to prevent the reunion of the earth with the sun, which is intended for the future (Lit.:GA 96, p. 314), and to bind man permanently to the earth dross, the so-called eighth sphere, which will then remain behind (Lit.:GA 104a, p. 128). He thus becomes the greatest opponent of the Christ, who united himself with the earth through the Mystery of Golgotha in order to initiate precisely this reunion and to enable man to participate in the spiritualisation associated with it.

Destructive Forces and Transubstantiation

In the realm of the forces of destruction, which lie beyond the level of memory, a complete transubstantiation of matter takes place, which we ingest through nutrition.

„Our physiology, after all, looks at nutrition quite wrongly. Our physiology thinks that we eat food. We select from the food that which is suitable for us and reject the other. But it is not like that. The fact that we take in the substantial is merely a concomitant. The process of life consists in the fact that we constantly resist what is brought into us by the ingestion of a foodstuff. We eat, we drink - thereby something happens which really lies very deep beneath our consciousness, beneath our conscious soul life. What happens there is a continual defence. And in this physical-physiological process of defence lies the actual life process of nourishment. The life process of nourishment is a process of defence.

Only when one understands how the organism is organised to receive the stimulus for defence - in order that it may have defence, the stimulus must of course be there - only when one understands that in the defence against a substance coming from outside lies the stimulus for the life-process of nourishment, will one be able to understand nourishment correctly. In nourishing we have to do with a process of defence in which the ingestion of substances [is to be regarded] only as a concomitant phenomenon, through which the stimuli for resistance are led from outside into the finest fissures of the human being, so that this defence can take hold right into the outer peripheral regions [of the organism]. Only in this defence lies the real life-process of nourishment, so that that which is the ordinary earthly nourishing process of man is actually a defence against the earthly. The earthly enters the human being as food, the human being has to take it in, but this is a process of defence.

That is the reality, but that is not how man in science actually looks at the whole thing. But what is happening in this rejection? Something happens that lies completely outside of human consciousness. When man takes in food, food is actually a process [of the outer world]. Every substance is actually a concentrated, throttled process of the world. We absorb processes of the outer world, we ward them off, but in warding them off, the counter-process arises: the process of the outer world is transformed into something quite different, and this transformation happens within us. The external material is transformed in us. And what becomes of it? It becomes spiritual in us. This is what is not usually seen, that man actually goes in his digestive process in the transformation of the outer world up to the spiritualisation of the outer material processes. In outer nature the processes of the world take place, the processes of the world take place in the fragment, let us say, up to the formation of the grain, up to the formation of the other things which are taken in as food. That which arises in the outer world is first transformed within the human being, and is thereby on the way to the spiritual. In the outer world it cannot transform itself to the spiritual; only within the human being can it transform itself to the spiritual. That is simply an objective fact that I am telling you here, nothing else. But what I am telling you takes place outside the human world of thought. It takes place in the deeper regions of the human will and only partially in the emotional regions. Only certain parts of the emotional life and the will participate in the [nourishing] process I have just described. The thought process does not take part in this, it goes the opposite way, through the word it goes down into the form. Down here we have the process of transformation, again coming from outside and pushing away in the opposite direction to the thought process.

If one wants to place the process of transformation before the human being in such a way that the human being looks at it as he looks at the outer world, then one must place something in the outer world which otherwise does not happen in the outer world, but only takes place in the human being. In this way, however, a sacramental action has been placed in the outer world, something which does not take place in natural phenomena, but which takes place in the human being as the secret of the human being. If one wants to place before man that which belongs to the innermost essence of man in the area we have just characterised, then one has transubstantiation, the transformation of the bread and the wine into the body and blood [of Christ]. Transubstantiation is not an invention within the outer world; transubstantiation is the putting forth into the outer world of that which really takes place in the deepest human interior. In transubstantiation we see that which we cannot see in the outer world, because the outer world is a fragment of existence, not a totality; and in the sacrament we add to the outer world that which is first accomplished in the realm of nature within the human being.

This, my dear friends, is the original concept of the sacrament, that to the phenomenon of the outer world is added that which does not come to consciousness within the human being, because the human being does not recognise it but experiences it [unconsciously], but which can be placed in the outer world in the sign. And so the human being, in carrying out transubstantiation, must feel something in the sign that is unconsciously connected with the innermost essence of his self. In fact, he initiates contact with the spirit of the outer world by presenting as a sacrament the transformation which otherwise takes place in his inner being behind the veil of memory.

But with this we have not yet grasped that which now takes place in the human being as the highest, we have only grasped the becoming spiritual of the material in the human being, the transformation, the transubstantiation. That which takes place in man as an objective process is, I would say, only separated from our consciousness by a thin veil, behind our consciousness. For it is from this side that our I is fired up at every moment of our life. We submerge ourselves in this transformed matter, and by taking in the substances of the outer world and by our life process consisting in transforming them, by submerging ourselves with our spiritual-soul in this transformation of the outer world, our I is continually nourished, the union with the substance transformed by this process is continually suggested to our I. The union with the substance after it has been transformed by this process is the unification with the substance after it has been transformed. The union with the substance after its transformation represents the becoming of the I of the spiritual that is accessible to us in the human being. Let us also take this sacramentally. If we place it sacramentally before us, it is the sacrament in which the human being participates when matter is presented in such a way that it is only a sign; when it is transubstantiated, the human being unites with it, and we thus have the fourth part of that which can represent the connection of the human being with the world in the cultus as a sacramental sign.“ (Lit.:GA 343a, p. 42ff)

See also


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.