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See in your Soul
       Luminous Power
Feel in your body
       Might of Heaviness
In the Luminous Power
       Shines the Spirit- I
In the Might of Heaviness
       God's spirit wells
Yet must not
       Luminous Power
Take hold of
       Might of Heaviness
       Might of Heaviness
       Luminous power
For if Luminous Power grasps
       The Might of Heaviness
And invades Might of Heaviness
       In Luminous Power,
So bind in World Confusion
       Soul and Body
Unto Perdition. -

Rudolf Steiner, (Lit.:GA 316, p. 138)

Disease, illness or sickness manifests itself in psychological phenomena and in the functional and habitual disturbance of individual organs or of the entire organism, insofar as this is not based on an immediate external injury. It is often accompanied by specific symptoms that facilitate its diagnosis. Usually, the term "disease" refers specifically to infectious diseases, whereas "illness" refers more to the patient's personal experience of his or her disease, i.e. to his subjective state of mind.

Causes of illness

In Rudolf Steiner's view, the deeper causes of illness lie in the incorrect interaction of the bodily and spiritual members of the human being. In this sense, real prevention and healing of illnesses can only be achieved psychosomatically by taking equal account of bodily and spiritual factors. This is especially true for infectious diseases, which are by no means exclusively caused by pathogens. According to Steiner, a so-called hygienic occultism will develop in the near future, primarily in the centre of Europe and far into Asia, in order to prevent illnesses prophylactically by psychic means.

Physical-functional diseases are caused by the fact that the members of the human being that are connected with the activity of consciousness, i.e. the astral body and the I, intervene too deeply in the physical and etheric body, because all consciousness is based on life-inhibiting processes of degradation. If, however, these two higher members intervene too little in the organism, the vital forces begin to proliferate too much, and illness also results from this.

Mental illness, on the other hand, is based on the fact that the two lower members have too much influence on the higher ones. Rudolf Steiner also expressed this "basic law" of anthroposophical medicine in the meditation on Luminous Power and the Might of gravity.

The process of healing is intended to guide the interaction of the members back into the right channels and thereby bring about the recovery of the organism, whereby the actual healing forces have their seat in the etheric body.

„Physical illnesses are due to the physical organism or its parts becoming spiritual. Mental illnesses are due to the astral body or I-organization, or one of their parts, taking form in the physical or etheric sense. This universal truth is a very good guiding principle.“ (Lit.:GA 316, p. 210f)

„One must see in the essence of being ill an intense connection of the astral body or I-organisation with the physical organism. But this connection is only a strengthening of that which exists in a looser way in the healthy state. The normal intervention of the astral body and the I-organisation in the human body are not related to healthy life processes, but to sick ones. When spirit and soul work, they abolish the usual arrangement of the body; they transform it into an opposite one. But in doing so they put the organism on a path where sickness wants to begin. In ordinary life it is regulated by self-healing as soon as it arises.

A certain form of sickness occurs when the spiritual or mental penetrates too far into the organism, so that self-healing either does not occur at all or can only occur slowly.

The causes of illness must therefore be sought in the ability of the spirit and soul. And the healing must consist in a detachment of the soul or spiritual from the physical organisation.

That is one way of being ill. There is another. The I-organisation and the astral body may be prevented from forming the loose connection with the physical, which in ordinary existence is the condition of independent feeling, thinking and willing. Then, in the organs or processes which the spirit and soul cannot approach, a continuation of the healthy processes occurs beyond that which is appropriate to the organism. And in this case it becomes apparent to the spiritual view that the physical organism does not merely carry out the lifeless processes of external nature. The physical organism is interspersed with an etheric organism. The mere physical organism could never bring about a self-healing process. Such a process is kindled in the etheric organism. But with this, health is recognised as the state which has its origin in the etheric organism. Healing must therefore consist in a treatment of the etheric organism.“ (Lit.:GA 27, p. 23f)

Medicine can only exist as a spiritual science

„Medicine can only exist if it is a spiritual science. For diseases come from a spiritual being which only uses the human body to find its account, which it does not find in the place assigned to it by the wise world leadership, against which it has rebelled, as I have shown you; a being which is actually an ahrimanic-mephistophelian being in human nature, which enters the human body as its dwelling-place before birth, and which only leaves this human body because it cannot bear death under its present circumstances, which also cannot conquer death. Illnesses come from the fact that this being works in the human being. And when remedies are used, the purpose is to give this being from the outer world what it otherwise seeks through the human being. If I add a remedy to the human body when this ahrimanic-mephistophelian being is at work, then I give it something else; I stroke this being, so to speak, I expiate it, so that it lets go of the human being and is satisfied with what I throw down its throat as a remedy.

But all these things are in the beginning. Medicine will become a spiritual science. And just as in ancient times medicine was known as a spiritual science, so it will be recognised as a spiritual science.“ (Lit.:GA 178, p. 74)


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  • Der Merkurstab, Berlin und Dornach, official organ of the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum, Dornach/Switzerland, and the Society of Anthroposophical Physicians in Germany, published bimonthly.

Works and Lectures by Rudolf Steiner

References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
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
steinerbooks.org - 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.