Principle of Spiritual Economy

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The principle of spiritual economy states that the etheric and astral bodies of high initiates are not only preserved after death, but can also be multiplied to be woven into other people who have special future tasks to fulfil. Such bodies are called dharmakaya (law bodies) in the Eastern tradition.

According to this principle, the etheric bodies of the seven greatest sages of the Atlantean oracles were kept by Manu, the leader of the Atlantean solar oracle, and later transferred to the seven holy rishis who were to found the ancient Indian culture. "Only the etheric body of the great initiate of the Christ oracle was treated differently in certain respects from these others." (Lit.:GA 109, p. 13)

Multiplication of the essential members of Jesus Christ

It is particularly significant that through the descent of the Christ into the body of Jesus of Nazareth, his members - from the etheric body and astral body, through the sentient soul, intellectual soul and consciousness soul, up to the imprint of the I - could be multiplied after death and later woven into other human beings.

„The fact that the avataric being of the Christ dwelt in the body of Jesus of Nazareth made it possible for the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth to be multiplied innumerable times, as well as the astral body and even the I, the I as an impulse, as it had been kindled in the astral body when the Christ entered the threefold shell of Jesus of Nazareth.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 26)

Images of the Christ etheric body

„There were a great number of people in the period from the 4th, 5th century to the 10th, 12th century to whom it would have seemed most foolish to tell them that one could also doubt the events of Palestine, for they knew better. These people were particularly widespread in European countries. They had always been able to experience in themselves something that was a kind of Pauline revelation in miniature, what Paul, who until then had been a Saul, experienced on the way to Damascus, and through which he became a Paul.

How was it possible for a number of people in these centuries to receive such revelations, in a certain sense clairvoyant, about the events in Palestine? This was possible because in these centuries the images of the multiplied etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth, which had been preserved, were woven into a large number of people, that they were allowed to put them on, so to speak. Their etheric body did not consist exclusively of this image of the etheric body of Jesus, but an image of the original Jesus of Nazareth was interwoven into their etheric body. There were people in these centuries who could have such an etheric body within them, and who could thus have direct knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth and also of the Christ. In this way, however, the image of Christ became detached from the outwardly historical, physical tradition. And it appears to us most detached in that wonderful poetry of the ninth century, known as the Heliand poetry, which comes from the time of Louis the Pious, who reigned from 814 to 840, and which was written down by an outwardly simple man of Saxony. With regard to his astral body and his I, he could not even come close to what was in his etheric body. For interwoven with his etheric body was an image of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 28f)

„But many have received such an image of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth interwoven with it. Hence we see that in these centuries these people lived in imaginations which followed on from the events of Golgotha. All those who created the original images of the Redeemer on the cross, of Mary with the infant Jesus, which were repeated later, were such people who had come to these pictorial representations of the event of Golgotha and what is connected with it, because an image of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth was interwoven into their own etheric body. In these times, as is typical, these images arose because these people were clairvoyant.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 57)

„From the 6th and 7th century onwards, it happened that especially outstanding Christian preachers were interwoven with an image of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth. One such person was Augustine. He had to go through enormous struggles in his youth. Then, however, the impulse of the etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth became effective in him in a significant way, and only then did he begin to practise Christian mysticism out of himself. We can only understand his writings in this light.

Many personalities have gone around the world carrying such a copy. Columban, Gallus, Patrick, they all carried such an image of the etheric body within them, and it was precisely through this that they were able to spread Christianity. Thus a bridge could be built from the Christ event to the time that followed.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 121)

Images of the Christ astral body

„In the later centuries, from the 12th to the 15th century, it was especially the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth that was interwoven in numerous images with the astral bodies of the most important bearers of Christianity. Such people then had an I which, as an I, could form very false ideas about all kinds of things, but in their astral bodies there lived an immediate power, a devotion, an immediate certainty of the sacred truths. Deep fervour, quite immediate conviction and, under certain circumstances, also the ability to substantiate this conviction, lay in such people. What sometimes seems so strange to us about these personalities is that their I was often not at all equal to what their astral body contained, because it had an image of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth woven into it. Sometimes what their I did seemed grotesque, but the world of their moods and feelings, their fervour, seemed magnificent and sublime. One such personality, for example, is Francis of Assisi. And it is precisely when we study Francis of Assisi and cannot understand his conscious self as people of today, and yet must have the deepest veneration for his whole world of feelings, for everything he did, that this becomes explicable from such a point of view. He was one of those who had interwoven an image of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. This enabled him to accomplish precisely what he had just accomplished. And numerous of his followers from the Franciscan Order with its servants and Minorites had similarly interwoven such images in their astral bodies.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 30f)

To be more precise, we are dealing here with images of the soul members of the Christ, i.e. the sentient soul, the intellectual or mind soul and the consciousness soul, which are substantial components of the astral body.

Sentient soul

„It was a question of whether the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth was more interwoven with what we call the soul of feeling or more with the soul of understanding or what we call the soul of consciousness. For the astral body of man must, in a certain sense, be thought to contain all these things within itself: that is, to encompass the I and to contain it, the sentient soul, the intellectual soul and the consciousness soul. Everything in Francis of Assisi was, so to speak, the sentient soul of Jesus of Nazareth. Everything was completely the sentient soul of Jesus of Nazareth in that wonderful personality whom you will follow biographically with your whole soul if you know the secret of her life: in Elizabeth of Thuringia, born in 1207. There we have such a personality, which had interwoven into the sentient soul an image of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. The riddle of this human figure is solved for us precisely through such knowledge.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 31)

Intellectual or mind soul

The great scholastics had an image of the intellectual soul of the Christ Jesus woven into their astral body.

„You will understand that science which is otherwise so little understood and so much reviled today, which is usually called scholasticism. What task did scholasticism set itself? It had set itself the task of finding evidence, proofs, from reasons of judgement, from the intellect, for that which had no historical connection, no physical mediation, and for which there was also no immediate clairvoyant certainty, as there had been in previous centuries through the interwoven etheric body of Jesus of Nazareth. These people had to set themselves the task of saying to themselves: We have been informed by tradition that the being known as the Christ Jesus has appeared in history, that other spiritual beings have intervened in the development of humanity, of which the religious documents bear witness. - Out of their intellectual soul, out of the intellect of the image of Jesus of Nazareth's astral body, they set themselves the task of proving with fine and sharply developed concepts all that was there in their writings as mystery truths. Thus arose that strange science which attempted to accomplish the greatest feat of ingenuity and intellect that has ever been achieved by humanity. Throughout several centuries - one may think what one likes about the content of scholasticism - the ability of human reflection was cultivated and imprinted on the culture of our time simply through this fine, subtle differentiation and contouring of concepts. It was in the 13th to 15th centuries that mankind received through scholasticism the ability to think sharply, penetratingly logically.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 31f)

Consciousness soul

The great late medieval mystics such as Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) or Johannes Tauler (1300-1361) carried a copy of the consciousness soul of the Christ in their astral body, in which the image of the I of the Christ was already strongly active.

„In those who were more impressed with the consciousness soul or the image that lives as the consciousness soul of Jesus of Nazareth, the special realisation arose - because the I sits in the consciousness soul - that in the I the Christ can be found. And because they themselves had the element of the consciousness soul from the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth within them, the inner Christ shone forth in them, and through this astral body they recognised that the Christ within them was the Christ himself. These were the ones you know as Meister Eckart, Johannes Tauler and all the bearers of medieval mysticism.“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 32)

Images of the Christ-I

At present, the images of the I-nature of the Christ Jesus are waiting to be taken up by more and more people.

„When the Christ embodied himself in Jesus of Nazareth, something like an imprint of the I was created in the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth. We can easily imagine, if this is the Christ-being that enters the astral body, that then something like an image is created in the surrounding parts of the astral body [It was obviously drawn on the blackboard]. This image of the I of the Christ [in the body of] Jesus had now produced numerous duplications which remained, so to speak, preserved in the spiritual world. Individuals had received something interwoven in their own I, as it were, as prophets of a new time, for example, some of the German mystics, who therefore proclaimed the inner Christ with such fervour, because something like an image of the I of the Christ was embodied in them; but an image, of course! Only those people who gradually prepare themselves for a full understanding of the Christ, who through the knowledge of the spiritual worlds will understand what the Christ is, in that from time to time, changing, he finds himself again and again in the progress of earthly development, will gradually become ripe to have this Christ experience in themselves, to receive this I, as it were, the waiting images of the Christ-I, which the Christ has formed in the body of Jesus through an imprint.

This belongs to the inner mission of the spiritual world current, to prepare people to make their souls so mature that an ever greater and greater number of people can now also receive into themselves an image of the I-being of the Christ Jesus. For such is the course of Christian development: first procreation on the physical plane, then procreation through the etheric bodies, then through the astral bodies, many of which were the re-embodied astral bodies of Jesus. Now the time is to come when more and more the I-nature of the Christ Jesus Himself will arise in people as the innermost being of their soul. Yes, these imprinted images of the Christ-Jesus individuality are waiting to be received by the souls, they are waiting!“ (Lit.:GA 109, p. 59f)

„The I of Jesus of Nazareth left the three bodies at the baptism of John, but an image of this I remains in the three bodies like an imprint of a seal. The Christ being takes possession of these three bodies, but also of something else that remains like an imprint of the Jesus I. Something like an I-copy. Something like an I-copy of Jesus is interwoven from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries onwards in those people who now begin to speak of an "inner Christ". Meister Eckhart, Tauler, they then speak out of their own experience like an I-copy of Jesus of Nazareth.“ (Lit.:GA 104a, p. 102f)


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.