From AnthroWiki

At night, when man is asleep, the structure of the human being's members changes. I and astral body lift themselves (at least partially) out of the human organisation, leaving behind the animate body, i.e. etheric body and physical body. In the process, human consciousness normally sinks into the darkness of dreamless sleep. If, however, the consciousness can maintain itself during sleep through appropriate spiritual training, then in spiritual retrospect the physical body left behind is transformed into the Paradise-Imagination.

„So I will, as it were, put forward the hypothesis for easier understanding that in the middle of sleep man experiences the moment of becoming clairvoyant apart from his body, and that he can look back on his physical and etheric body. We have only taken a few steps towards this state so far, we have come so far that we have, as it were, gone out of ourselves and learned to experience something like the seasons of the year and the seasons of the day; now let us immediately consider the state which would occur if we had on the one side the physical and etheric body, and lifted out, as it is in sleep, the I and the astral body; and let us suppose that we could look back upon the physical and etheric body left behind. Then what we look back upon would appear to us in quite a different light than it appears to us consciously for ordinary life. In ordinary life, through everyday observation or through external physical science, we look at our material body and see in it, with a certain right, the crown of the earth's creation in physical terms. We divide this earthly creation in such a way that we speak of a mineral kingdom, of a plant kingdom, of an animal kingdom and of the human kingdom; and we see all the various advantages which are poured out upon the different groups of animals united, as it were, in this physical crown of creation, in the human body. We shall already see that this has a certain justification for the external physical observation. Nor is the present lecture intended to arouse the belief that what may at first present itself for retrospective observation of the physical and etheric body, if one suddenly becomes clairvoyant in sleep, - it is not intended to arouse the belief as if with this a final observation of the physical body is given; it is only intended to record, as it were, a moment of clairvoyant retrospection. Such a moment can result in the following: First of all we look back, as it were, at our etheric body, which appears to us like a misty structure divided into itself, a misty structure with various currents, which we shall describe in more detail later, - an artful structure, but one which is in continual motion, which has no stillness or rest at any place; and then we look at what is embedded in this etheric body, at our physical body.

Now remember that we said: one's own thinking must be switched off (→ sacrifice of intellect). So we do not think about what we see. That is above all a basic requirement for this clairvoyant gaze, that we allow ourselves to be completely inspired, so to speak, by the world thoughts that flow into us. What we see, then, we look at, but it acts above all on our feeling; it acts on feeling and will. Our thinking, that appears to us, when we have really attained what has been spoken of, as if we had lost it; our own thinking I mean. And so, with the feeling that has remained our own, we look back at what is embedded in the misty structure, in the ever-moving misty structure of our etheric body as our physical organ.

There we first get a total impression. This total impression is such that what we see there makes us feel infinite sadness, terrible sadness. And it must be said, my dear friends, that this mood of the soul, this terrible sadness, is not dependent on one human individuality or another, but is quite general. There cannot be a human being who, as has been described, looks back from without upon his physical body as it is embedded in the etheric body, and who would not be completely, completely permeated by immeasurable sadness. All the impressions I am now describing are first expressed in feeling, not in thought. We are overcome by immeasurable sadness, a completely melancholy mood, when we now look up at the thoughts of the world that flow into us. These thoughts, which are not our own, but which are creative thoughts weaving and working through the world, illuminate, so to speak, this structure of our physical body, and they tell us by the way they illuminate it, they tell us what it actually is that we see there.

They tell us: all that we see there is the last decadent product of a once existing glory. And we get the impression from what these thoughts tell us: what we have before us as our physical body is like something that was once mighty and glorious and has withered and shrivelled up and now, shrivelled up into a small structure, shows us a former spread-out glory. What is embedded in our etheric body appears to us like a last memory of primeval glory that has hardened into the physical. There appear to us our individual physical organs, which today belong, so to speak, to our nourishing system, our circulatory system, our respiratory system; we look at them from without, spiritually gazing at them, and behold, they appear to us in such a way that we say to ourselves: All that we have before us in the physical body are shrivelled products, withered products of living beings that once existed; of living beings that lived in a glorious environment and which have now shrivelled up and withered away. And in the life that they have in them today, this lung, this heart, this liver and the other organs, in that is only the last decadent life of an original mighty inner life. And in this clairvoyant vision these organs gradually form themselves into what they once were. Just as a thought which we remember only from afar, if we take pains to bring it up from memory, grows into what it once was, so that which we carry within us, for example, as lungs, and which at first appears like the last memory of a primeval splendour and glory, - so it grows. But we feel that it goes back like a present thought to a distant memory, which then develops into what it once was. In our perception the lung grows into the imagination of what the occultist once knew as a permanent symbol and still knows today as a symbol of the human form: the imagination of the eagle. And we get the feeling: this lung was once a being, - not to be compared with a present-day animal eagle being, for that too only represents on the other hand a decadent product of a once mighty being, which in occultism is called an eagle; the occultist is led, as in a cosmic memory, to the eagle that was once there. - And when we turn back to our heart, we feel how it too looks like the shrivelled product, the withered, contracted product, like a memory of an old glory -: then we feel how we are led back into ancient times, into primeval pasts to a being which the occultist calls the lion. - And then, the lower bodily organs, they present themselves to us like a memory of what in occultism is called the bull, an ancient living being which was once alive in glorious surroundings, which withered in evolution, shrivelled up, and which today presents itself as the lower bodily organs.

Thus I would like to draw schematically what once was and what we come to when we look at these bodily organs of ours clairvoyantly from outside: We shall only draw schematically the bull, the lion, the eagle, one above the other. Thus we behold something that lived as three glorious living beings in the ancient past. I will now reduce this somewhat and only draw it schematically. Around these basic organs we can also see the other organs in what they used to be in the distant past; and in this way we get something before our clairvoyant gaze which can be compared with almost all the forms of the terrestrial animal kingdom.

The Sphinx Animals Bull, Lion and Eagle
The Sphinx Animals Bull, Lion and Eagle

If we now turn our gaze back once more to this physical body embedded in our etheric body and look at what in anatomy is called the nervous system, then yes, this nervous system also appears like a shrivelled product, like withered products. But what is embedded in our physical body today as the nervous system appears embedded in our etheric body to the retrospective clairvoyant gaze like the sum of wonderful plant-like beeings that wind their way in the most manifold ways through these beings that can be called animal, so that we see arrangements of plant-like beings that pass through on all sides. The whole nervous system dissolves into a sum of ancient plant-like beings, so that we really see something like a mightily spreading plant-like being, in which dwell the animal beings of which we have just spoken. As I have said, I am describing what arises from the clairvoyant gaze, which has just been characterised as coming about as if in sleep, that is to say, looking from outside at the physical body embedded in the etheric body.

When one has all this before one, one says to oneself - that is, one says it to oneself for the reason that the thoughts of the world give one information about it, so to speak, and interpret what one has before one - one then says to oneself: All that which you carry within you as a human being is the shrivelled up, the shrivelled up of that which now comes to you clairvoyantly as in a cosmic memory. - And now it is a question of developing up to this point in such a way that you practise continual self-control, continual self-knowledge. Self-knowledge brings one to the point of being able to reflect emotionally: You are outside your physical body. That which appeared to you as a physical body embedded in the etheric body has transformed itself before your eyes into that which has just been spoken of. And that which you now see is not present in the present, it had to be present in a primordial past so that what is your physical body down there could have come into being. In order for this shrunken product to have come into being, that which you now see before you with clairvoyant vision had to be present at one time. - That is why the physical body makes such a sad impression at first, because you recognise it as something that has arisen like the last world product of a former glory that has now dawned on the clairvoyant gaze.

When one has reached this degree of development, one realises that in this astral body, which one now has in addition to the physical and etheric body, one cannot do otherwise than - please, do not misunderstand me, I am describing facts and you will see how these facts dissolve; After all - if one wanted to say so to the honour of the wise world leaders - one must first become acquainted with the facts, and it will become clear in the next few days what they are - one cannot help but recognise oneself, as one is in one's astral body, as an absolute egoist, as a being that knows nothing but itself, and one learns to recognise that one has reasons enough to be sad. Because now the feeling is pressing to know why this has happened, why all this has shrunk.

And now it is a question of: Yes, who is to blame for this shrinking? Who has made the figure that you have clairvoyantly before you, this wonderful plant being with the animal, perfect formations within its self, who has made that into the present shrunken product of the physical body? - Now it sounds out of you like an inner inspiration: You yourself have made it so, you yourself. And the fact that you have become what you are today is due to the fact that you have had the strength to imbue this whole glory with your being. The fact that your being was dripped like poison into this old glory has caused this old glory to shrink to the extent that it is now!

So, you are yourself and you owe the possibility of being such a self as you are to the fact that with your own being you have sunk the germ of death into all this glory, impregnated it, so that it shrank. As when you pierce a mighty tree that grows in glory and nourishes manifold animals that can only be nourished by this tree, as when you pierce it at one point so that it withers from this point, that it withers and shrivels up into smallness and with it all the beings die that are nourished by it, so it seems to you what has happened to that which spreads out clairvoyantly and which has shrunk up into the human physical body. This is a tremendous impression which is produced by this moment of clairvoyant observation. - And more and more the human being in his astral body presses to know how this has come about. At this moment, among the primeval animal beings which he perceives here, Lucifer appears to him, as it were, at the back wall of the garden, writhing, in a beautiful form!

Here, through clairvoyant observation, one first becomes acquainted with Lucifer and now knows: Oh yes, that is how it was with the forces that are now shrivelled up in the physical human body, at the time when Lucifer appeared within this whole being that now presents itself to you clairvoyantly.

The physical body as it presents itself to the imaginative gaze.
The physical body as it presents itself to the imaginative gaze.

And now man knows that in that remote past time, in which all that was reality which appears to the clairvoyant gaze, that he felt alive within all this: he was within it, that was his kingdom. And in this kingdom Lucifer drew him to himself, man united with Lucifer, and the consequence of this was that in currents of force, which could be drawn in such a line, the beings of the higher hierarchies pressed after him and pushed the man who united with Lucifer - all this shows itself to clairvoyant observation - into these regions and out to the front. The area here (above right) got openings; these openings have become our present sense organs as they shrank. Through these openings, man, who formerly lived in this region, was forced out, because he had united himself with Lucifer. And by being pushed out, man now lives in the world outside this structure, and this structure shrank together and is his physical body.

So, to give you a schematic idea, imagine the present physical body growing larger and larger, all the organs enlarging, all the digestive, circulatory and respiratory organs enlarging as if they were mighty animal creatures, the nervous organs becoming plant creatures; in this mighty structure, imagine the human being dominating. Lucifer now appears on one side; man is attracted by Lucifer, and through this beings of the higher hierarchies then push in and push man out. Because the human being is pushed out, the whole structure gradually shrinks to the narrow space that a human body occupies today, and the human being is outside his body with his consciousness, with his whole daily consciousness. For this has had the effect that man does not know what is inside, of which he was formerly aware, but that he knows of what is outside. He has been chased out through the openings which today are the senses, and is today in the world of the senses, and that in which he was in the remote past has today shrunk, and represents his inner being.

Now I have given you an idea of how man, through clairvoyant contemplation, comes to what is called Paradise. In fact, this is how the human imagination was guided towards paradise in the mystery schools. Where was paradise? people ask. Paradise was in a world which, however, no longer exists in the world of the senses.

Paradise has shrunk, it has only multiplied; paradise has left behind as its last remnant the physical interior of the human body, only man has been chased out of it, he does not live in his interior. He can only come to know this inner being in the way we have seen it, through clairvoyance. Man knows of things outside, he knows of what is before his eyes, what is around his ears; otherwise he knew what was inside, but this inside was great, was paradise.

Now try to get an idea of the fact that actually man, by being a being who spreads consciousness over the outer sense-world, has compressed the world in which he dwelt before he entered the sense-world into the withering or shrivelled products of his inner body. Then the beings of Ahriman and other spirits, which here (see drawing) first thrust man out and then lingered on, made use of their activity and turned it to good, and put on the limbs, hands and feet, and here the face they formed, giving the possibility for man to make use of the shrunken paradise through hands and feet and through that which goes through his sense organs to the inner world.“ (Lit.:GA 145, p. 100ff)

If the spiritual gaze is then directed towards the etheric body left behind in sleep, the Grail-Imagination begins to light up.


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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