Mental body

From AnthroWiki

According to Indian theosophy, the mental body is the carrier of the powers of understanding (lower mental body) and reason (higher mental body). It is woven from thoughts and can therefore also be called the thought body (see also → Mayavi-rupa body). Rudolf Steiner also refers to it as the I-bearer or I-body. To clairvoyant perception it appears as an egg-shaped structure that encloses the astral aura. The mental body is a higher part of the etheric body transformed by thought formation. In later writings and lectures Rudolf Steiner hardly ever used the term "mental body". The lower mental body corresponds approximately to what Rudolf Steiner later called the intellectual soul. The lower mental body is mortal and dissolves soon after death. Only the higher mental body is immortal, which essentially comprises that part of the consciousness soul that is already oriented directly towards the spiritual world and is closely related to the spirit self (manas).

„The etheric body consists of two members: the part of human nature that came over from the Moon at that time, and its opposite pole. At first they were not yet connected with each other, later they approached each other and connected. One is the pole of the animal, the other the pole of the spiritual. The pole of the animal is called the etheric body, the pole of the spiritual is called the mental body. The mental body is material ether.

In between is the astral body, which is also the result of a combination of two. Basically, it is also a double structure. In it one has to distinguish between a lower and a higher nature. The higher nature is originally connected with the mental body.“ (Lit.:GA 93a, p. 143f)

„What we see is the physical body, it belongs to the mineral kingdom, but through Prana, the life principle, it lives also in the etheric sphere of the plant world, it has its etheric body; and further it lives also through sensation in the astral world, in its astral body, and through rational conception in the mental world, through the Kama-Manas principle. Man has four bodies in the lower world with the principles. But he is also connected with the higher world, because he has his origin there. He can develop his mental body and advance from the idea of the individual and the many to the idea of the archetype, he can develop the causal body and rise to the higher world of the trinity Manas-Budhi-Atma. In the Budhi sphere he will be able to form his thoughts out of astral matter, to create the Mayavi-rupa body, will live and work out of his causal soul, will himself be a creator and again become one with the totality. But this upper trinity, to which man must ascend, is in truth present hidden deep within him, it underlies his being, he must liberate it one after the other - 'As above, so below'.“ (Lit.:GA 88, p. 173)

The thoughts themselves have their origin on the mental plane, which is also called Devachan or the spiritual world in the narrower sense. At the boundary between the lower and upper Devachan lies the Akasha Chronicle, which contains everything that has ever been thought by spiritual beings (Lit.:GA 9, p. 94ff).

„One can therefore read all the thoughts of man on the higher mental plane, all feelings and experiences on the Budhi plane and all actions on the Nirvana plane. The beings who now regulate the connection between the counter-images and the human being have a great significance. Man lives out his thoughts on the mental plane. What the human being does in thought happens on the mental plane. There, in the Devachan, he builds up the character of his thought body for the new life between death and new birth. There are the counter-images of his earlier thoughts. These he draws to his mental body, freed from the physical and astral, and thus forms his future mental body according to the thought-images he has created. On the other hand, he would not be able to connect the counter-images of his experiences and actions with himself. This is subject to outside regulating entities, the masters of karma, the lipikas, who bring the created counter-images of man's feelings and deeds on the Budhi and Nirvana plane into connection with him - who already has the kamic and other sheaths around him again - for the following incarnations.“ (Lit.:GA 89, p. 175f)

It is not always easy to distinguish which characteristics a human being has been given bodily through heredity and which he brings with him spiritually from a previous incarnation.

„The karmic laws are so intricate that one can never form a judgement from outward appearances. Only he can do this to a certain extent whose spiritual senses have the higher worlds partly open to him. Whoever is able to observe not only the physical body but also the soul organism (astral body) and the spirit (mental body), will realise what has passed on to man from his ancestors and what is his own possession acquired in earlier lives. To the ordinary eye these things are mixed up and it can easily appear as if something is merely inherited, which is karmically conditioned. - It is a very wise saying that children are "given" to their parents. In a spiritual sense they are entirely so. But children with certain spiritual qualities are given to them because they have the possibility of developing these spiritual qualities of the children.“ (Lit.:GA 34, p. 372f)


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.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - 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.