What follows is a series of quotations from a Rudolf Steiner lecture in English translation. The lecture is called "The Human Heart". No comments are given here. The lecture references are given at the bottom of the page.
1. After puberty the organs may change a bit also
All that happens in the moral life, and all that happens physically in the world . . . the moral and the physical . . . are found in their real union when we learn to understand all the configurations of the human heart.
When puberty occurs (naturally, the astral events coincide only approximately with the physical) man's own etheric heart is so far formed that it can receive these forces that develop out of our activity in the outer world. Thus . . . from puberty onwards man's whole activity becomes inserted, via the astral body, in his etheric heart . . . out of the pictures of the stars, out of the images of the cosmos - This is a phenomenon of untold importance.
When these astral forms slide into the organs of the physical, as explained above, the ego retains [a marked] sympathy [with the astral body and its forms] and extends the same inner sympathy to the organs themselves. The ego spreads out increasingly into the organs and takes possession of them.
Restriction of the imitative principle to the periphery of the human organism occurs only at a later stage in life - In early childhood, until the change of teeth, the whole body partakes in this imitative process . . . At this stage the whole body is in a certain respect related to the outer world as the senses are during the rest of human life.
There is another process running parallel with this ⚶ Very much . . . can be seen in [the] astral body of a little child.
The human etheric body lives in intimate union with the physical body until the change of teeth begins. Therefore . . . we can describe the change of teeth as marking the essential birth of the etheric body. Likewise we can refer the birth of the astral body to the time of puberty.
At the same place where . . . our own etheric heart - has formed itself, we now have an astral structure too, which gathers together all our actions. And so from puberty a central organ is created wherein all our doing . . . is centred.
2. Cosmos, that unique karmic web
The human being expands into the cosmos. He is received into the world of souls. He undergoes what I described in my book, Theosophy, as the passage through the world of souls and then through spirit land - In truth it is so. ◇
[The] ethereal-astral structure - wherein the heart is floating, so to speak - contains all that man takes with him into his further life of soul and spirit . . . he can hand over his entire karma to the cosmos.
Every single organ bears within it, in a sense, an astral inheritance, even as the etheric heart is, to begin with, an inheritance . . . this inherited astral becomes permeated gradually, through and through, with that which man brings with him as his own astral body, which dives down bit by bit into the physical and etheric organs - The heart is an exception, in a certain sense. Here, too, an astral part dives down; but in the heart not only the astral process but the etheric, too, is concentrated. Therefore the heart is the uniquely important organ which it is for man.
3. To find the "ether heart" it should be wise to sense inwards somehow
Not until puberty does the human being possess his own etheric heart . . . not supplied provisionally by external forces.
The permanent teeth, on the other hand, are destroyed chiefly by extraneous conditions - including, of course, those of the organism itself. Likewise at puberty: in an invisible way, our etheric heart is given over to disintegration, and we now acquire a kind of permanent ether heart - Only this permanent ether heart is fully adapted to receive into itself our activities.
The whole of man's activity which finds expression in the outer world is written into the astral body; thus the astral body becomes configurated in manifold ways . . . This process . . . begins when the child learns to speak - learns to embody thoughts in speech.
It is very important to let nothing happen in the young child's environment, not even in the forming of our thoughts and feelings, which the child cannot rightly absorb and make his own -
The astral body comes from another world [realm]. ✪
We have this strange phenomenon of the star-ether-body drawing inwards.
The astral body becomes more and more indefinite . . . thereby the astral body itself becomes more or less like a cloud of mist. . . . [W]hile . . . the astral body turns into a cloud of mist, new differentiations come into it from another side - first slowly, then with full regularity and increasingly from the age of puberty onwards
In the heart, as far as the etheric universe is concerned, you have a cosmos gathered up into a center; [and] a gathering together of all that man does in the world. This is the point where the cosmos - the cosmic process - is joined to the karma of man - This intimate correspondence of the astral body with the etheric body is to be found nowhere in the human organism except in the region of the heart.
A true power of judgment, when the child or adolescent begins to make his own faculty of judgment felt, [usually] comes . . . at the time of puberty. (1)
All that takes place in the heart is far more hidden than the event which happens openly with the change of teeth. (6)
Puberty starts with the inherited and reaches outwards and inwards from then on, teaches Steiner.
Steiner, Rudolf. "The Human Heart." 1 lecture given in Dornach, May 26, 1922. GA 212.
Chestnut Ridge, NY: The Mercury Press, 1985. At Rudolf Steiner Archive.
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