In the ancient and medieval geocentric world view, the sublunar sphere is the region within or below the lunar sphere. It is divided into the areas of the four elements earth, water, air and fire in order of decreasing gravity. In this sense, there are four sublunar spheres.
Sublunary Sphere and Kamaloka
The sublunary sphere is not to be regarded primarily as an external spatial area, but much more as part of the etheric world and the soul world, whose four lower areas correspond with the sublunary sphere. Above this is the Kamaloka (purgatory), in which the human being after death strips of his attachment to the past earthly life. The Kamaloka is where the three uppermost regions of the physical-etheric world (light ether, sound ether and life ether) intersect with the three lowermost regions of the astral world (burning desire, mobile sensitivity and region of wishes):
„If we start from the physical plan, we have here (it is drawn) seven subdivisions of the physical plan; then would come seven subdivisions of the astral plan. Of these, the three lowest coincide with the three highest of the physical plan. We must regard the astral plan as being pushed together with the physical plan in such a way that the three uppermost sections of the physical plan are at the same time the three lowermost sections of the astral plan. We can speak of a marginal zone, that is, the one which our souls cannot leave after death, when they are still bound to the earth by desires. It is called Kamaloka.“ (Lit.:GA 101, p. 223)
|physical-etheric world||astral world||planetary sphere|
|Region of soul life||Sun sphere|
|Region of active soul force||Venus sphere|
|Region of soul light||Mercury sphere|
|Region of liking and disliking|
|Life ether||Region of wishes||Moon sphere|
|Sound ether||Region of mobile sensitivity||(Kamaloka)|
|Light ether||Region of burning desire|
|Fire / Warmth ether|
Sublunar Sphere and Thought Life
„Now, because the age of the intellect is here today, one can, through witnessing the present, at best form a proper idea of what intellectualism is, what came to the surface of civilisation in the 14th and 15th centuries. But the state of mind that preceded it is no longer felt in a lively way today. When we look at history, we actually project backwards in time what we are used to seeing in the present, and we do not get much idea of how very different the spirits were before that period. And if we allow documents to speak, we read into them to a large extent what is today's way of thinking and looking at things.
To the spiritual-scientific view, many things appear completely different. And if, for example, we look at those personalities who, out of Arabism, out of the culture of Asia, were influenced on the one hand by that which lived out as a religion in Mohammedanism, but on the other hand were also influenced by Aristotelianism, if we look at these personalities who then found their way across Africa to Spain, who then deeply influenced the spirits of Europe, up to Spinoza and beyond Spinoza again influenced the spirits of Europe, then one gains no conception of them if one imagines their state of mind as if they had simply been people of the present day, only that they did not yet know so and so many things that have been found later. For that is more or less how one imagines them. But the way of thinking and the way of looking at things, even of those personalities from the indicated direction of civilisation who lived around the 12th century, was quite different from the way we think today.
Today, when man looks back on himself in this way, he feels that he is the owner of thoughts, feelings, impulses of will which then become action. Above all, man attributes to himself the "I think", the "I feel", the "I want". With these spirits, with these personalities of whom I am now speaking, the "I think" was not yet accompanied by the kind of feeling with which we say today: I think - but only the "I feel" and "I want". These people attributed only their feeling and wanting to their own personality. From ancient civilisational backgrounds they lived much more in the feeling "it thinks in me" than they thought "I think". They may have thought: "I feel, I want", but they did not think to the same extent: "I think", but they said to themselves - and this was a very real perception which I now want to share with you -: Thoughts are in the sublunary sphere, that is where thoughts live. - These thoughts are everywhere in that sphere which is given by the fact that we imagine the Earth (see drawing, blue) at a certain point, the Moon here at another, then Mercury, Venus and so on. They thought of the Earth as a dense, solid mass of the world, but they thought of the lunar sphere up to the Moon (yellow) as the second part of it.
And just as we say that in the air in which we breathe there is oxygen, so these people said - it has just been quite forgotten that this was so - : In the ether that reaches up to the moon are thoughts. - And just as we say that we breathe in the oxygen of the air, these people did not say: we breathe in the thoughts, but: we perceive the thoughts, we take in the thoughts. And they were aware that they were taking them in.
You see, today a person can adopt something like that as a concept for my sake. He can perhaps even see something like this from Anthroposophy. But he immediately forgets it again when it comes to practical life. When it comes to practical life, he immediately forms a quite strange idea, he forms the idea that thoughts spring from within him, which would be quite the same as if he thought that the oxygen he takes in is not taken in from outside, but springs from within him. For the personalities of whom I speak, it was precisely a deep feeling, an immediate experience: I do not have my thoughts as my possession, I must not actually say "I" think, but "thoughts are", and I take them in, these thoughts.
Now, we know from the oxygen in the air that it goes through the circulatory system of our organism in a relatively short time. We count such cycles according to the pulse beats. That happens quickly. The personalities of whom I speak imagined the absorption of thoughts as a kind of breathing, but a very slow breathing, a breathing which consists in the human being becoming capable of absorbing thoughts at the beginning of his life on earth. Just as we hold our breath for a certain time between inhalation and exhalation, so these people imagined a fact that they now hold thoughts, but only as we hold the oxygen that belongs to the outer air. This is how they imagined it: they hold the thoughts, and that during the time of their life on Earth, and they exhale them again, out into the expanse of the world, when they pass through the gate of death. So that one had to do with breathing in: beginning of life; holding breath: Duration of life on Earth; exhalation: sending thoughts out into the world. People who experienced inwardly in this way felt themselves, with all others who experienced in the same way, to be in a common atmosphere of thought which did not merely go up a few miles above the Earth, but which went as far as the orbit of the Moon.“ (Lit.:GA 237, p. 15ff)
- Rudolf Steiner: Theosophie - Einführung in übersinnliche Welterkenntnis und Menschenbestimmung, GA 9 (1904), Kapitel Die Seele in der Seelenwelt nach dem Tode English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Mythen und Sagen. Okkulte Zeichen und Symbole, GA 101 (1992) English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Esoterische Betrachtungen karmischer Zusammenhänge. Dritter Band, GA 237 (1991), ISBN 3-7274-2370-6 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
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