Feeling is the middle of the three soul forces that affecte human soul life. Feelings are not normally experienced fully awake, but only dream-consciously.
Conceptually, feeling is to be distinguished from the more drive-like or will-like emotion, although this differentiation is often not recognised clearly enough in immediate experience. Feeling is guided, even if only dream-consciously, by the I, which is not the case with blind passionate emotion, in which the astral body or the ego takes effect more or less directly, unfiltered. In colloquial language, feeling is often also called sensation; in philosophy, psychology, medicine and biology, however, this refers to the elementary processes of sensory perception excited by the influence of stimuli, i.e. the pure sensations of the senses.
The rhythmic system as the physiological basis of emotional life
The immediate physiological basis of the emotional life is the rhythmic system. The nervous system is only involved insofar as we raise the feelings into the imaginative life.
„On the other hand, just as directly as the life of the ideas is connected with the life of the nerves and senses, the emotional life of the human being is directly connected with the rhythmic system of the human being. Feeling as it lives in the soul pulsates at the same time in breathing, blood circulation, lymph circulation and is just as directly connected with this system as the formation of ideas is with the nervous system.“ (Lit.:GA 301, p. 30)
„The truth is that the whole world of feeling intervenes directly in the rhythmic organisation, in that rhythmic organisation in the broader sense which I characterised yesterday. And the nervous system only serves to be the mediator so that we can have ideas and thoughts about our feelings. So that the impulses of feeling intervene directly in breathing and blood circulation. Only for what we have as ideas about the feelings are the organic mediators the nerves. And just as the emotional world of man intervenes in the rhythmic system, so the will intervenes directly in the metabolic-limb system. And that which we have in the nerves or through the nerves is only the ideas of the willed.“ (Lit.:GA 319, p. 56)
„On the other hand, the emotional life of the human being is directly, not merely indirectly, bound to the rhythmic life in the human being, that rhythmic life which includes the respiratory system, the blood circulation system connected with it. It is connected with the carrier of the intellectualistic system in a peculiar way, namely in this way: We have in us as the most important component of our brain the so-called cerebral fluid. Our brain, however, is first of all a nervous organ which has to process what is conveyed by the senses. But this brain swims in the brain water. And this cerebral fluid, which fills our main cranial cavity, our spinal cord cavity, has a special task. When we exhale, the brain water descends from the top to the bottom. The diaphragm rises up, the cerebrospinal fluid rises down, and vice versa when we breathe in. So that we are in a constant rhythm of the brain water rising and falling.
This rhythm of ascending and descending cerebral water is the outer carrier of the emotional life in man. And through the interaction of that which the cerebral nerves experience with that which takes place as such a rhythm through the cerebral water, that which is exchange between the feelings and the thoughts comes into being.“ (Lit.:GA 334, p. 51f)
Feeling and the essential members of man
Feeling oscillates constantly back and forth between the etheric body and the astral body. Inasmuch as the degrading forces are at work in the astral body, which can make the organism ill, and the healthy life forces are at work in the etheric body, which, however, must not proliferate too much, feeling is also a sensitive indicator of the approaching symptoms of illness.
„Think of this astral organism with its perpetual tendency to make an organ, or the whole man, ill. Genuine observation will show you that this is so. For no feeling could arise in you if this astral organism were not present. Just picture it.
The etheric organism unfolds life and the astral organism damps down the life. In the waking state (I shall yet have to speak of sleep), there must be a continual swinging to and fro in a labile state of equilibrium, between etheric organism and astral organism. This enables a human being to feel. He would feel nothing if this swinging to and fro did not take place. But now suppose the astral activity is not immediately driven back by the etheric activity. When it is driven back, when the astral activity is driven back in statu nascendi by the etheric activity, normal feeling arises. We shall see how this is connected, in the physical, with the activity of the glands. But when the astral organism becomes more powerful, so that the organ cannot work with sufficient strength in its etheric activity, then this organ will be laid hold of too strongly by the astral activity and instead of a swinging to and fro there will arise a deformation of the organ. When the astral body oversteps the mark in this activity of damping down, when it goes beyond the process that is balanced out in statu nascendi — then the cause of illness is located in the astral body. And there is indeed such a close connection between illness and feeling that we can say: The life of feeling in man is simply the reflection, in the life of soul, of the life of illness. If there is a swinging to and fro, there underlies the life of feeling — but always in statu nascendi, in the moment of ‘becoming’— the same process which is a process of illness when the astral organism gets the upper hand.
Now it may also happen that the etheric organism gets the upper hand of the astral, which withdraws. Then there will be rampant growth, which is illness in the other direction. When the astral body gets the upper hand, inflammatory conditions arise; when the etheric activity gets the upper hand, swellings or growths appear. In the entirely normal life of feeling, a delicately poised balance is always maintained between growths and the inflammatory process. The normal life of man needs this possibility of becoming ill, only a continual balancing must take place.
Thus if we are able to perceive truly, we can see in the normal life of feeling a great deal of what is represented by the processes of illness. If we can observe such things truly, we can ascertain the approach of the illness a long time before it can be physically diagnosed, in a wrong functioning of the life of feeling. Illness is only an abnormal life of feeling in the human being.“ (Lit.:GA 316, p. 33f)
Feeling and hierarchies
With his feeling, man lives - at first unconsciously - together with the spiritual hierarchies.
„Just as we, when we place ourselves in the physical world, have this physical world as the real one, just as there are minerals, plants, animals in this physical world and this is the soil out of which the human being finally grows in human development, so the human being with his astral body is in the world of the beings of the higher hierarchies. If he lives in this world, he has the appropriate support for his astral body. But he always carries within himself that which he can only become acquainted with through spiritual science. And he carries it within himself as the faculty of feeling.
Everything that we make our own in the world through our feeling, through this most intimate life of the soul, consists in the waves and weaving of the spirits of the higher hierarchies in our own astral body. When we become conscious of our feeling, this consciousness of feeling is what man has at first, but in this feeling lives the weaving and working of the spirits of the higher hierarchies We cannot really grasp the spiritual if we do not feel this spiritual immersed in the spirit worlds of the higher hierarchies.“ (Lit.:GA 225, p. 163f)
Christ - Buddhi and the Eternal in Feeling
The lower, everyday feeling attaches itself to the transient world; the higher feeling, the "pure feeling", which rises to the eternal and stands even higher than "pure thinking", draws from the life spirit (Buddhi) in which the Christ lives:
„Now, just as thought can be raised into a higher sphere, so also the world of feeling can be raised into a higher sphere. That which we delight in, that which we desire, is apparently a lower world than the world of thought, but when it is raised to the higher regions, it stands even higher than thought. The eternal in feeling is higher than thought. When you raise feeling to the higher spheres, like thought in mathematics, then you experience the second entity of the spirit. University psychology knows only the lower feeling. It pretends that everything is exhausted with the lower feeling. But in our world of feeling this eternal lives as a germ, and Theosophy calls it the Buddhi. I have given it the name "life spirit", as the second spiritual entity of man. Raise your thoughts to the grasp of an Eternal, then you live in Manas. Raise your feeling and sensation to the character of the Eternal, then you live in Buddhi. This life in Buddhi is only present in the present people in the disposition. People can sometimes think manasically if their thinking is regulated and subject to the logical laws of the world. However, there is also a kind of thinking that is misguided, i.e. having one thought and then immediately having another, i.e. always changing. This is ordinary thinking. Then there is a higher thinking, which is logical, coherent, which nourishes itself from the eternal - according to Plato - and becomes partaker of the eternal. When a feeling has risen to this world realm, to such a world law, then it lives in Buddhi. This means nothing other than a kind of eternal lawfulness of feeling. He who lives in ordinary life can err, can also go astray with his feeling. But the one who experiences the primal norms of feeling in himself, as the thinker experiences the primal norms of manasic thinking, this feeling person has in himself just as much certainty and clarity of feeling as the thinker has clarity of thinking. This is what Theosophy describes as a spiritual human being who experiences the spirit in himself. This is what was also the deeper content of the Christ. The human being then experiences the Christ, lives with the Christ, participates in him. Christ is the same as Buddhi.“ (Lit.:GA 53, p. 212f)
Buddhi is identical with what Rudolf Steiner called moral fantasy in his "Philosophy of Freedom":
„Now I have tried to present the gradual upbringing of the human being, the purification of the human being from the spiritual into the mental, in a book which I wrote some years ago as my "Philosophy of Freedom". What I have now presented, you will find there expressed in the terms of occidental philosophy. You will find there the development of the soul from the Kama to the Mana life. I have there called Ahamkara the "I", Manas the "higher thinking", pure thinking, and the Buddhi, not yet to refer to the origin, the "moral fantasy". These are only other expressions for one and the same thing.“ (Lit.:GA 53, p. 214f)
- Rudolf Steiner/Ita Wegman: Grundlegendes für eine Erweiterung der Heilkunst nach geisteswissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen, GA 27 (1991), ISBN 3-7274-0270-9 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Ursprung und Ziel des Menschen, GA 53 (1981), ISBN 3-7274-0532-5 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Der Zusammenhang des Menschen mit der elementarischen Welt, GA 158 (1993), ISBN 3-7274-1580-0 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophie als Kosmosophie – Erster Teil, GA 207 (1990), ISBN 3-7274-2070-7 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophie als Kosmosophie – Zweiter Teil, GA 208 (1992), ISBN 3-7274-2080-4 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Drei Perspektiven der Anthroposophie. Kulturphänomene, geisteswissenschaftlich betrachtet., GA 225 (1990), ISBN 3-7274-2252-1 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Allgemeine Menschenkunde als Grundlage der Pädagogik, GA 293 (1992), ISBN 3-7274-2930-5 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Erneuerung der pädagogisch-didaktischen Kunst durch Geisteswissenschaft, GA 301 (1991), ISBN 3-7274-3010-9 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Meditative Betrachtungen und Anleitungen zur Vertiefung der Heikunst, GA 316 (2003), ISBN 3-7274-3160-1 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Heilpädagogischer Kurs, GA 317 (1995), ISBN 3-7274-3171-7English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophische Menschenerkenntnis und Medizin, GA 319 (1994), ISBN 3-7274-3190-3 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Vom Einheitsstaat zum dreigliedrigen sozialen Organismus, GA 334 (1983), ISBN 3-7274-3340-X English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
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