Life ether

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The life ether (also word ether, SanskritPrana, occasionally also called atomistic ether by Rudolf Steiner; GermanLebensäther) is the highest etheric state. It only came into being during the development of the Earth together with the solid earth element. Today it has a formative effect through all elements down to the earth element. It imprints the mineral into the organism and can further form it into mineral-solid forms, as it happens especially in the bone system.

Connected with the life ether is that which in Persian tradition was called Honover, and which in the Gospel of John is called Logos - the creating world word.

The life ether does not show itself directly to sensual perception, but only indirectly through its formative effects in all living things. Of our outer senses, however, the sense of smell corresponds to it, through which it reveals itself indirectly. In our inner experience it is the life ether that gives our thoughts their inner meaning.

While in perception man kills the light ether (cf. → colour perception process) and the warmth ether, he cannot kill the sound ether and the life ether. This is what is meant by the words of Genesis, that man, having eaten of the tree of knowledge, should not also eat of the tree of life.

The life ether is significant for man's life after death, because the life panorama that man experiences shortly after death as a review of his past earthly life is inscribed into the world life ether, so that man can always have the review of his last earthly life between death and new birth:

„And we take with us an extract from our etheric body ... so that we can always establish a connection between ourselves and this tableau of life entered into the general life ether.“ (Lit.:GA 133, p. 137)

The life ether is thus also closely connected with the world memory in general, with the Akasha Chronicle.

Present separation of life ether and earth element

„There was a close interaction of the life ether with the earthy, i.e. with the solid element in man during the Greco-Latin development up to the 15th century. And the peculiarity of the present human being is that a loosening occurs between the life ether and the earthy element. So a loosening occurs. The life ether in the human being of today is no longer so firmly connected with the earthy element as it was with it during the Greco-Latin cultural epoch.

Drawing from GA 171, p. 245
Drawing from GA 171, p. 245

[...] This, however, brings about that the experiences, by virtue of the earthy element, cause the pure looking at the outer world. Precisely because the earthy element is loosened, it is possible to look at the primordial phenomena unclouded by hypothesis. And because the life ether separates itself, it will be possible to experience in this separated life ether that which pervades the human being with imaginations rooted in the supersensible world. It is precisely through this loosening that this is the case.“ (Lit.:GA 171, p. 244f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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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.
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Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.