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Rudolf Steiner: Theosophy
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Reservations   Contents    

   Preliminary Matter

    Translator's Foreword

    Preface to the First Edition

    Preface to the Third Edition


    1. The Constitution of the Human Being


    1. The Corporeal Being of Man

    2. The Soul Being of Man

    3. The Spiritual Being of Man

    4. Body, Soul, and Spirit

   2. Re-Embodiment of the Spirit and Destiny

    Reincarnation and Karma

   3. The Three Worlds

    1. The Soul World

    2. The Soul in the Soul World after Death

    3. The Spirit Land

    4. The Spirit in Spirit-Land after Death

    5. The Physical World and its Connection with the
            Soul and Spirit Lands

    6. Thought-Forms and the Human Aura

   4. The Path of Knowledge

   Notes and Amplifications

Preliminary Matters

Rudolf Steiner's book Theosophy [ref.] is a cornerstone of Anthroposophy. Its 1910 edition was translated by Elizabeth Douglas Shields from the third German edition. - T. K.

From the Translator's Foreword

It were perhaps well to mention that in this work the words "know" and "knowledge," when used in reference to the supersensible worlds, involve actual experience of them gained by man through his higher organs of perception.

- E. D. S. [ix-x]

From the Preface to the First Edition

He who understands life can become a truly practical man. [xi]

The presentation of the facts given in this book will in no way conflict with the truly scientific methods. [xiii-xiv]

The primary intention of the author has been to give the fundamental truths underlying the whole domain of theosophy.

In a work which deals with the elements of wisdom, things may not be said which belong to the higher stages of wisdom. [xiv-xv]

From Rudolf Steiner's Preface to the Third Edition

The present age requires knowledge of the supersensible by means of supersensible truths. [xvi]

The soul goes into those depths into which it must go if it is to understand itself [in] the inner calm . . . of the soul life. [xvi-xvii]

The knowledge of the supersensible is not merely something that meets a theoretical requirement; it supplies a method for leading a truly practical life. [xvii]

Many today reject most strongly what they most sorely need. [xvii]

The author of this work knows that it contains nothing that any person taking his stand on the basis of the natural science of the present day will be unable to accept. [xviii]

He who knows the true essence of what is called "proving" a matter sees clearly that the human soul finds truth by other ways than discussion. [xix]

- Rudolf Steiner

1. The Constitution of the Human Being

Introduction. Capsules

The following capsules are gleaned from Steiner's introduction. The capsules are either direct quotations and abridgements, and occasionally paraphrase. Here and there the citations are shuffled for the sake of sticking to a subject. Also, a series of words that Steiner sets off in small CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis, are not emphasised below at all. I found it to be unnecessary. My additions are set off by square brackets, and omissions are marked by ellipses - three dots. - T. K.


The investigator of the higher truth . . . must address his words to all mankind. For he has to make known things that concern all humanity. [3]

The feeling for truth and the power of understanding it is inherent in every human being. In this understanding there is a force which, little by little, must lead to the higher grades of knowledge. In darkness this feeling stirs; the soul does not see, but through this feeling it is seized by the power of the truth. For one person it may take a longer, for another a shorter time. Every spiritual eye can be opened, and when it will be opened is only a question of time. It can be developed in the simple-minded person just as in the scientist of high standing. [3-5]

"Of what use is it to speak to people about things for which their powers of knowledge are not yet awakened, and which are therefore still closed to them?"

One requires certain faculties to find out the things referred to; but if they are made known, every person can understand who is willing to bring to bear upon them unprejudiced logic and a healthy instinct for truth. [6]

All reality, the lower and the higher spiritual, are only two sides of one and the same fundamental essence. [6]

"Higher seeing" alone makes a "knower" in the spiritual just as little as healthy sense organs make a "scholar" in regard to the sensible realities.

Anyone who is unlearned in the lower branches of knowledge will as a rule remain so in regard to the higher.

Allow thinking that looks at "all" sides of a subject and is unclouded by prejudice, and a feeling for truth that is free, and sets no reserves, to take effect. [6]

Just place yourself in the attitude of asking, "If the things that are asserted here are true, do they afford a satisfying explanation of life?" and the life of each human being supplies the confirmation [or not, possibly]. [6-7]

One can fulfill one's task as a human being without understanding anything of botany, zoology, mathematics, and other sciences.

In whom is destined to be a teacher in the spiritual regions of existence, a spiritual call creates reservedness. It should deter no one from occupying himself with the higher truths, or good opportunity for the study of ordinary science. [7]

The highest to which a man is able to look up he calls the "Divine." [8]

The writer of [this book] will present nothing that is not a fact for him. [8]

"A . . . difficult task do those undertake whose keen desire for knowledge urges them to strive to observe the objects of nature in themselves and in their relations to each other . . . . They should, as dispassionate and, so to speak, divine beings, seek and examine what is, and not what gratifies. Thus the true botanist should not be affected either by the beauty or by the usefulness of the plants. He has to study their structure and their relation to the rest of the vegetable kingdom; and just as they are one and all enticed forth and shone upon by the sun, so should he with an equable, quiet glance look at and survey them all and obtain the gauge for this knowledge, the data for his deductions, not out of himself, but from within the circle of things which he observes." [Steiner quoting Goethe, 9-10, passim]

The thought thus expressed by Goethe directs attention to:

  1. The objects concerning which information continually flows to man through the doors of his senses, those that he touches, smells, tastes, hears, and sees.
  2. The impressions which these make on him, and which record themselves as his pleasure and displeasure, his [11} desire or abhorrence, according as he finds one harmonious, another inharmonious, one useful, another harmful.
  3. The knowledge and the experiences which he, as a so-to-speak "divine being," gains concerning the objects – the secrets of their activities and their being which unveil themselves to him. [10-11]

Man is interwoven with the world in a threefold way. The first way is something that he finds present and accepts as a given fact. Through the second way he makes the world into his own affair, into something that has a significance for himself. The third way [of broadening, relevant knowledge] he regards as a goal toward which he [seeks] to strive. [11]

Feelings within, flowers without. My Spirit within, all Nature without

From here on Steiner is quoted extensively and with few omissions, if any. A few red headings, divisions of long paragraphs, insertions in square brackets, and boldface emphasises have been added by T. K.


"I cross a meadow"

Why does the world appear to man in this threefold way? The simplest consideration will explain that. I cross a meadow covered with flowers. The flowers make their colors known to me through my eyes. That is the fact which I accept as given. I rejoice in the splendor of the colors. Through this I turn the fact into an affair of my own. By means of my feelings I link the flowers with my own [12} existence. A year after I go again over the same meadow. Other flowers are there. New joy arises in me through them. My joy of the former year will appear as a memory. It is in me; the object which aroused it in me is gone. But the flowers which I now see are of the same species as those I saw the year before; they have grown in accordance with the same laws as did the others. If I have enlightened myself regarding this species and these laws, I find them again in the flowers of this year as I recognized them in those of the former year. And I shall perhaps muse as follows: "The flowers of last year are gone; my joy in them remains only in my remembrance. It is bound up with my existence alone. That, however, which I recognized in the flowers of the former year and recognize again this year, will remain as long as such flowers grow. That is something that revealed itself to me, but which is not dependent on my existence in the same way as my joy is. My feelings of joy remain in me; the laws, the being of the flowers, remain outside of me in the world."

Body, soul, and spirit initially

Man continually links himself in this threefold way with the things of the world. One [13} should not for the time being read anything into this fact, but merely take it as it presents itself. It makes it evident that man has three sides to his nature. This and nothing else will for the present be indicated here by the three words body, soul, and spirit. He who connects any preconceived meanings, or even hypotheses, with these three words will necessarily misunderstand the following explanations. By body is here meant that by which the things in the environment of a man reveal themselves to him, as in the example just cited, the flowers of the meadow. By the word soul is signified that by which he links the things to his own being, through which he experiences pleasure and displeasure, desire and aversion, joy and sorrow. By spirit is meant that which becomes manifest in him when, as Goethe expressed it, he looks at things as "a so-to-speak divine being." In this sense the human being consists of body, soul, and spirit.

Through his body man is able to place himself for the time being in connection with the things; through his soul he retains in himself the impressions which they make on him; through his spirit there reveals itself to him [14} what the things retain in themselves. Only when one observes man in these three aspects can one hope to gain light on his whole being. For these three aspects show him to be related in a threefold way to the rest of the world.

Through his body he is related to the objects which present themselves to his senses from without. The materials from the outer world compose this body of his; and the forces of the outer world work also in it. And just as he observes the things of the outer world with his senses, he can also observe his own bodily existence. But it is impossible to observe the soul existence in the same way. All occurrences connected with my body can be perceived with my bodily senses. My likes and dislikes, my joy and pain, neither I nor anyone else can perceive with bodily senses. The region of the soul is one which is inaccessible to bodily perception. The bodily existence of a man is manifest to all eyes; the soul existence he carries within himself as HIS world. Through the spirit, however, the outer world is revealed to him in a higher way. The mysteries of the outer world, indeed, unveil themselves in his inner being; but he steps in spirit out of himself [15} and lets the things speak about themselves, about that which has significance not for him but for them. Man looks up at the starry heavens; the delight his soul experiences belongs to him; the eternal laws of the stars which he comprehends in thought, in spirit, belong not to him but to the stars themselves.

Thus man is citizen of three worlds. Through his body he belongs to the world which he perceives through his body; through his soul he constructs for himself his own world; through his spirit a world reveals itself to him which is exalted above both the others.

It is evident that because of the essential differences of these three worlds, one can obtain a clear understanding of them and of man's share in them only by means of three different modes of observation.

1.1. The corporeal being of man

One learns to know the body of man through the bodily senses. And the way of observing it can differ in no way from that by which one learns to know other objects perceived by the senses. As one observes minerals, [16} plants, animals, so can one observe man also. He is related to these three forms of existence. Like the minerals he builds his body out of the materials in nature; like the plants he grows and propagates his species; he perceives the objects around him and, like the animals, forms on the basis of the impressions they make his inner experiences. One may therefore ascribe to man a mineral, a plant, and an animal existence.

The difference in the structure of minerals, plants, and animals corresponds with these three forms of existence. And it is this structure, this shape which one perceives through the senses, and which alone one can call body. But the human body is different from that of the animal. This difference everybody must recognize whatever may be his opinion in other respects regarding the relationship of man to animals. Even the most radical materialist who denies all soul will not be able to avoid agreeing with the following sentence which Carus utters in his "Organon der Natur and des Geistes". "The finer, inner construction of the nervous system, and especially of the brain, remains as yet an unsolved problem to the [17} physiologist and the anatomist; but that this concentration of the structure increases more and more in the animal, and in man reaches a stage unequaled in any other being, is a fully established fact, a fact which is of the deepest significance in regard to the spiritual evolution of man, of which, indeed, we may frankly say it is a sufficient explanation. Where, therefore, the structure of the brain has not developed properly, where its smallness and poverty show themselves, as in the case of microcephali and idiots, it goes without saying that one can as little expect the appearance of original ideas and of knowledge, as one can expect propagation of species in persons with completely stunted organs of generation. On the other hand, a strong and beautiful construction of the whole person, especially of the brain, will certainly not in itself take the place of genius, but it will at any rate supply the first and indispensable requirement for higher knowledge." Just as one ascribes to the human body the three forms of existence, mineral, plant, animal, one must now ascribe to it yet a fourth, the distinctively human form. Through his mineral form of existence man [18} is related to everything visible, through his plant-like form of existence to all beings that grow and propagate their species, through his animal existence to all those that perceive their surroundings, and by means of external impressions have inner experiences. Through his human form of existence he constitutes, even in regard to his body alone, a kingdom by himself.

1. 2. The soul being of man

The soul being of man differs from his corporality through being his own inner world. This inner world peculiar to each person faces one the moment one directs one's attention to the simplest sensation. One finds, in the first place, that no one can know if another person perceives even the simplest sensation in exactly the same way as one does oneself. It is known that there are people who are colorblind. They see things only in different shades of gray. Others are partially colorblind. They are unable, because of this, to perceive certain shades of colors. The picture of the world which their eyes give them is different from that of so-called normal persons. [19} And the same holds good in regard to the other senses. It will be seen, therefore, without further elaboration, that even simple sensations belong to the inner world. I can perceive with my bodily senses the red table which another person also perceives; but I cannot perceive his sensation of red. One must therefore describe sensation as belonging to the soul. If one grasps this fact alone quite clearly, he will soon cease to regard inner experiences as mere brain processes or something similar. The first result of sensation is feeling. One sensation causes man pleasure, another displeasure. These are stirrings of his inner, his soul life. Man creates in his feelings a second world in addition to that which works on him from without. And a third is added to this – the will. Through it man reacts on the outer world. And he thereby stamps the impress of his inner being on the outer world. The soul of man, as it were, flows outward in the activities of his will. The actions of the human being differ from the occurrences of outer nature in that they bear the impress of his inner life. In this way the soul represents what is man's own in [20} contradistinction to the outer world. He receives from the outer world the incitements; but he creates, in responding to these incitements, a world of his own. The corporality becomes the foundation of the soul being of man.

1.3. The spiritual being of man

The soul being of man is not determined by the body alone. Man does not wander aimlessly and without a goal from one sensation to another; neither does he act under the influence of every casual incitement directed on him either from without or through the processes of his body. He thinks about his perceptions and his acts. By thinking about his perceptions he gains knowledge of things; by thinking about his acts he introduces a reasonable coherence into his life. He knows also that he will fulfill his duty as a human being only when he lets himself be guided by correct thinking in knowledge as well as in acts. The soul of man, therefore, faces a twofold necessity. The laws of the body govern it in accordance with the necessities of nature, but it allows itself to be governed by [21} the laws which guide it to exact thinking because it voluntarily acknowledges their necessity. Nature subjects man to the laws of the change of matter, but he subjects himself to the laws of thought. By this means he makes himself a member of a higher order than that to which he belongs through his body. And this order is the spiritual. The soul is as different from the body as the body is different from the soul. So long as one speaks only of the particles of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen which stir in the body, one has not the soul in view. The soul life begins only when within the motion of these particles sensation arises, and one can say: "I taste sweetness" or "I feel pleasure." Just as little has one the spiritual in view when one considers merely the soul experiences which course through a man who gives himself over entirely to the outer world and his bodily life. Rather is this soul life merely the basis for the spiritual, just as the body is the basis of the soul life. The naturalist, or investigator of nature, has to do with the body, the investigator of the soul (the psychologist) with the soul, and the investigator of the spirit with the spirit. To [22} realize what one is in oneself, and thus become clear as to the difference between body, soul, and spirit, is a requirement which must be demanded from those who wish by thinking to enlighten themselves regarding the constitution of man.

1.4. Body, soul, and spirit

Man can enlighten himself in a correct way concerning himself only when he grasps the significance of thinking within his being. The brain is the bodily instrument for thinking. Just as man can only see colors with a properly constructed eye, so the suitably constructed brain serves him for thought. The whole body of man is so formed that it receives its crown in the organ of the spirit, the brain. One can understand the construction of the human brain only by observing it in relation to its task, which consists in being the instrument or tool for the thinking spirit. This is borne out by a comparative survey of the animal world. Among amphibians we find the brain small in comparison with the spinal cord, in mammals it is proportionately larger, in man it is largest in comparison with the [23} rest of the body. There are many prejudices prevalent regarding such statements about thinking as are brought forward here. Many persons are inclined to undervalue thinking, and to place higher the "warm life of feeling" or "emotion." Some, indeed, say it is not by "dry thinking" but by warmth of feeling, by the immediate power of "the emotions," that one raises oneself to higher knowledge. Persons who speak thus fear to blunt the feelings by clear thinking. This certainly results from the ordinary thinking that refers only to matters of utility. But in the case of thoughts that lead to higher regions of existence, the opposite is the result. There is no feeling and no enthusiasm to be compared with the sentiments of warmth, beauty, and exaltation which are enkindled through the pure, crystal-clear thoughts which refer to the higher worlds. For the highest feelings are, as a matter of fact, not those which come "of themselves," but those which are gained by energetic and persevering thinking.

The human body has a construction adapted to thinking. The same materials and forces which are present in the mineral kingdom are [24} so combined in the human body that by means of these combinations thought can manifest itself. This mineral construction, formed as a suitable instrument for its work, will be called in the following pages the physical body of man. (In theosophical literature it is called "Sthula sharira.")

This organized mineral construction with the brain as its center comes into existence by propagation, and reaches its developed form through growth. Propagation and growth man has in common with plants and animals. Propagation and growth distinguish what is living from the lifeless mineral. What lives comes forth from the living by means of the germ. The descendant follows the forefathers in the succession of the living. The forces through which a mineral originates we must look for in the materials themselves which compose it. A quartz crystal is formed by the forces united in it, and inherent in the silicon and oxygen. The forces which shape an oak tree we must look for in a roundabout way in the germ in the mother and father plants. The form of the oak is preserved through propagation from forefathers to [25} descendants. There are inner determining forces innate in all that is living. It was a crude view of nature which held that lower animals, even fishes, could evolve out of mud. The form of the living passes itself on by means of heredity. The manner in which a living being develops depends on what father and mother beings it has sprung from or, in other words, on the species to which it belongs. The materials of which it is composed change continually; the species remains during life, and is transmitted to the descendants. Thus the species is that which conditions the organizing and molding of the materials. This species-forming force will here be called life-force (in theosophical literature it is called "Prana"). Just as the mineral forces express themselves in crystals, so the life-force expresses itself in the species or form of plant and animal life.

The mineral forces are perceived by man by means of the bodily senses. And he can only perceive that for which he has such senses. Without the eye there is no perception of light, without the ear no perception of sound. The lowest order of organic beings has only a [26} kind of sense of touch. For these there exist only those mineral forces of which the sense of touch enables them to become aware. In proportion as the other senses are developed in the higher animals is the surrounding world richer and more varied for them. It depends, therefore, on the organs of a being whether that which exists in the outer world exists also for the being itself, as perception, as sensation. What is present in the air as a certain motion becomes in man the sensation of hearing. Man does not perceive the manifestations of the life-force through the ordinary senses. He sees the colors of the plants; he smells their perfume; the life-force remains hidden from this form of observation. But the ordinary senses have just as little right to deny the existence of the life-force as has the man born blind to deny that colors exist. Colors are there for the person born blind just as soon as he has been operated upon; in the same way, the life-force, as creating the various species of plants and animals created by it, is present to man as an object of perception as soon as the necessary organ unfolds within him. An entirely new world opens out to man through [27} the unfolding of this organ. He now perceives, not merely the colors, the odors, etc., of the beings, but these beings themselves. In each plant, in each animal, he perceives, besides the physical form, the life-filled spirit-form. In order to have a name for this spirit-form let it be called the ether-body, or life-body.

To the investigator of spiritual life this matter presents itself in the following manner: The ether-body is for him not merely a product of the materials and forces of the physical body, but a real independent entity which first calls forth these physical materials and forces into life. One speaks in harmony with spiritual science when one says: a mere physical body, a crystal for example, has its form by means of the physical formative forces dwelling within it. A living body does not have its form by means of these forces, for in the moment in which life is extinct in it, and it is given over to the physical forces only, it falls to pieces. The ether-body is an organism which preserves the physical body every moment during life from dissolution. In order to see this body, to perceive it in another [28} being, one requires the awakened "spiritual eye." Without this, one can accept its existence as a fact on logical grounds; but one can see it with the spiritual eye as one sees a color with the physical eye. One should not take offense at the expression "ether-body." "Ether" here designates something different from the hypothetical ether of the physicist. One should regard the thing simply as a name for what is described here. And just as the physical body of man is constructed in conformity with its set task, so is it also in conformity with the ether-body of man. One can understand it also only when one observes it in relation to the thinking spirit. The ether-body of man differs from that of plants and animals through being organized so as to serve the requirements of the thinking spirit. Just as man belongs to the mineral world through his physical body, he belongs through his ether-body to the life-world. After death the physical body dissolves into the mineral world, the ether-body into the life-world. (In theosophical literature the human ether-body is called "Linga sharira.") By the word "body" is designated what in any way gives a [29} being "shape" or "form." The word used in this sense must not be confused with the word body when used to designate physically sensible bodies. Used in this sense the term body can also be applied to forms which soul and spirit may assume.

In the life-body we still have something external to man. With the first stirrings of sensation the inner self responds to the excitations of the outer world. You may trace what one is justified in calling the outer world ever so far, but you will not be able to find the sensation. Rays of light stream into the eye, penetrating till they reach the retina. There they call forth chemical processes (in the so-called visual-purple); the effect of this stimulus is passed on through the optic nerve to the brain; there further physical processes arise. Could one observe these one would see more physical processes, just as elsewhere in the physical world. If I am able to observe the ether-body, I will see how the physical-brain process is at the same time a life-process. But the sensation of blue color which the recipient of the rays of light has, I can find nowhere in this manner. It arises only within the soul of the [30} recipient. If, therefore, the being of the recipient consisted only of the physical body and the ether-body, sensation could not exist. The activity by which sensation becomes a fact differs essentially from the operations of the life-force. By that activity an inner experience is called forth from these operations. Without this activity there would be a mere life-process, such as one observes in plants. If one tries to picture how a human being receives impacts from all sides, one must think of him at the same time as the source of the above-mentioned activity which streams out toward every point from which he received these impacts. Sensations respond in all directions to the impacts. This fountain of activity is to be called the sentient-soul. (It is the same as that which in theosophical literature is called "Kama.") This sentient-soul is just as real as the physical body. If a man stand before me and I disregard his sentient-soul by thinking of him as merely a physical body, it is exactly as if I were to call up in my mind, instead of a painting – merely the canvas.

A similar statement has to be made in [31} regard to perceiving the sentient-soul as was previously made in reference to the ether-body. The bodily organs are "blind" to it. And blind to it is also the organ by which life as life can be perceived. But just as the ether-body is seen by means of this organ, the inner world of sensation itself can be seen through a still higher organ. A man then not only senses the impressions of the physical and life worlds, but he beholds the sensations themselves. Before a man with such an organ the world of the sensations of another being is spread out like an open and, for him, a legible book. One must distinguish between experiencing one's own sensation world and looking at the sensation world of another. Every man of course can see into his own sensation world; only the seer with the opened "spiritual eye" can see the sensation world of another. Unless a man be a seer he knows the sensation world only as an "inner" one, only as the peculiar hidden experiences of his own soul; with the opened "spiritual eye" there shines out before the external spiritual gaze what otherwise lives only in the "inner" being of another. [32} The sentient-soul depends, as regards its activity, on the ether-body because it draws from it that which it will cause to gleam forth as sensation. And since the ether-body is the life within the physical body, the sentient-soul is indirectly dependent on the latter. Only with correctly-functioning and well-constructed eyes are correct color sensations possible. It is in this way that the corporality affects the sentient-soul. The latter is thus determined and limited in its efficaciousness by the body. It lives therefore within the limitations fixed for it by the corporality. The body accordingly is built up of mineral materials, is vitalized by the ether-body, and itself limits the sentient-soul. He, therefore, who has the above-mentioned organ for "seeing" the sentient-soul, sees it limited by the body. But the limits of the sentient-soul do not coincide with those of the physical body. The soul extends somewhat beyond it. By this one sees that it proves itself more powerful than the physical body. But the force through which its limits are set proceeds from the physical body. So that between the physical body and the ether-body on the one hand, [33} and the sentient-soul on the other, there inserts itself another distinct member of the human constitution. This is the soul-body, or sentient body. (It is called in theosophical literature "astral shape," or "Kama Rupa;" "Rupa" signifies form or shape.) One can also say: a part of the ether-body is finer than the rest, and this finer part of the ether-body forms a unity with the sentient-soul, whereas the coarser part forms a kind of unity with the physical body. Nevertheless, the sentient-soul extends, as has been said, beyond the soul-body.

What is here called sensation is only a part of the soul being. (The expression sentient-soul is chosen for the sake of simplicity.) Connected with sensations are the feelings of desire and aversion, impulses, instincts, passions. All this bears the same character of individualized life as do the sensations, and is, like them, dependent on the corporality.

Just as the sentient-soul enters into mutual action and reaction with the body, so does it also with thinking, with the spirit. Thought, among other things, is of immediate service to it. Man forms thoughts about his sensations. [34} In this way he enlightens himself regarding the outside world. The child that has burnt itself thinks it over, and reaches the thought "fire burns." Also man does not follow blindly his impulses, instincts, passions; his thought over them brings about the opportunity by which he can gratify them. What one calls material civilization moves entirely in this direction. It consists in the services which thinking renders to the sentient-soul. Immeasureable quantities of thought-power are directed to this end. It is thought-power that has built ships, railways, telegraphs, telephones; and by far the greatest proportion of all this serves only to satisfy the needs of the sentient-soul. Thought-force permeates the sentient-soul in a similar way to that in which the life-force permeates the physical body. Life-force connects the physical body with forefathers and descendants, and thus brings it under a system of laws with which the purely mineral body is in no way concerned. In the same way thought-force brings the soul under a system of laws to which it does not belong as mere sentient-soul. Through the sentient-soul man is related to the animals. [35} In animals, also, we observe the presence of sensations, impulses, instincts, and passions. But the animal obeys these immediately. They do not, in its case, become interwoven with independent thoughts, transcending the immediate experiences. This is also the case to a certain extent with undeveloped human beings. The mere sentient-soul is therefore different from the evolved higher member of the soul which brings thinking into its service. This soul that is served by thought will be designated the intellectual-soul. One could call it also the emotional thought-soul. (Theosophical literature calls it "Kama manas.")

The intellectual-soul permeates the sentient-soul. He who has the organ for "seeing" the soul sees, therefore, the intellectual-soul as a separate entity, distinct from the mere sentient-soul.

By thinking man is raised above and beyond his own personal life. He acquires something that extends beyond his soul. He comes to take for granted his conviction that the laws of thought are in conformity with the laws of the world. And he feels at home in [36} the world because this conformity exists. This conformity is one of the important facts through which man learns to know his own nature. Man searches in his soul for truth; and through this truth it is not only the soul that speaks, but the things of the world. That which is recognized as truth by means of thought has an independent significance, which refers to the things of the world, and not merely to one's own soul. My delight in the starry heavens is part of my own inner being; the thoughts which I form for myself about the courses of the heavenly bodies have the same significance for the thinking of every other person as they have for mine. It would be absurd to speak of my delight were I not in existence; but it is not in the same way absurd to speak of my thoughts, even without reference to myself. For the truth which I think today was true yesterday also, and will be true tomorrow, although I concern myself with it only today. If a piece of knowledge gives me joy, the joy has significance just so long as it lives in me. The truth of the knowledge has its significance quite independently of the joy. By grasping the truth the [37} soul connects itself with something that carries its worth in itself. And this worth does not vanish with the feeling in the soul any more than it arose with it. What is really truth neither arises nor passes away; it has a significance which cannot be destroyed. This is not contradicted by the fact that certain human "truths" have a value which is transitory, inasmuch as they are recognized after a certain period as partial or complete errors. For man must say to himself that truth after all exists in itself, although his conceptions are only transient forms of manifestation of the eternal truth. Even he who says, like Lessing, that he contents himself with the eternal striving toward truth because the full pure truth can, after all, only exist for a God, does not deny the eternity of truth, but establishes it by such an utterance. For only that which has an eternal significance in itself can call forth an eternal striving after it. Were truth not in itself independent, if it acquired its worth and significance through the feelings of the human soul, then it could not be the one common goal for all mankind. One concedes [38} its independent being by the very fact that one wishes to strive after it.

And as it is with the truth, so it is with the truly good. The moral good is independent of inclinations and passions, inasmuch as it does not allow itself to be commanded by them, but commands them. Likes and dislikes, desire and loathing belong to the personal soul of man. Duty stands higher than likes and dislikes. Duty may stand so high in the eyes of a man that he will sacrifice his life for its sake. And a man stands the higher the more he has ennobled his inclinations, his likes and dislikes, so that, without compulsion or subjection, they themselves obey the recognized duty. The moral good has, like truth, its eternal value in itself, and does not receive it from the sentient-soul.

In causing the self-existent true and good to come to life in his inner being, man raises himself above the mere sentient-soul. The eternal spirit shines into this soul. A light is kindled in it which is imperishable. In so far as the soul lives in this light, it is a participant of the eternal. It unites its own existence with an eternal existence. What the soul [39} carries within itself of the true and the good is immortal in it. That which shines forth in the soul as eternal is to be called here consciousness-soul. consciousness can be spoken of even in connection with the lower soul stirrings. The most ordinary everyday sensation is a matter of consciousness. To this extent animals also have consciousness. The kernel of human consciousness, that is, the soul within the soul, is here meant by consciousness-soul. The consciousness-soul is accordingly differentiated from the intellectual-soul as yet another distinct member of the human soul. The intellectual-soul is still entangled in the sensations, the impulses, the passions, etc. Everyone knows how at first a man holds that to be true which he, owing to his feelings, prefers. Only that truth, however, is permanent which has freed itself from all taint of such feelings as sympathy and antipathy. The truth is true, even if all personal feelings revolt against it. The part of the soul in which this truth lives will be called consciousness-soul.

So that even as one had to distinguish three members in the body, one has also to distinguish [40} three in the soul; sentient-soul, intellectual-soul, consciousness-soul. And just as the corporality works from below upward with a limiting effect on the soul, so the spiritual works from above downward into it, expanding it. For the more the soul fills itself with the True and the Good, the wider and the more comprehensive becomes the eternal in it. To him who is able to "see" the soul, the splendor which goes out from a human being, because his eternal is expanding, is just as much a reality as the light which streams out from a flame is real to the physical eye. For the "seer" the corporeal man is only a part of the whole man. The body as the coarsest structure lies within others, which interpenetrate both it and each other. The ether-body fills the physical body as a double form; extending beyond this on all sides is to be seen the soul-body (astral shape). And beyond this, again, extends the sentient-soul, then the intellectual-soul, which grows the larger the more it receives into itself of the True and the Good. For this True and Good cause the expansion of the intellectual-soul. A man living only and entirely according to his [41} inclinations, his likes and dislikes, would have an intellectual-soul whose limits coincide with those of his sentient-soul. These organizations, in the midst of which the physical body appears as if in a cloud, are called the human aura.

In the course of the childhood of a human being, there comes a moment in which, for the first time, he feels himself to be an independent being distinct from the whole of the rest of the world. For persons with finely-strung natures it is a significant experience. The poet Jean Paul says in his autobiography, "I shall never forget the event which took place within me, hitherto narrated to no one, and of which I can give place and time, when I stood present at the birth of my self-consciousness. As a very small child I stood at the door of the house one morning, looking toward the wood pile on my left, when suddenly the inner revelation 'I am an I' came to me like a flash of lightning from heaven and has remained shining ever since. In that moment my ego had seen itself for the first time and forever. Any deception of memory is hardly to be conceived as possible here, for no narrations by outsiders could have [42} introduced additions to an occurrence which took place in the holy of holies of a human being, and of which the novelty alone gave permanence to such everyday surroundings." It is known that little children say to themselves, "Charles is good," "Mary wishes to have this." They speak of themselves as if of others because they have not yet become conscious of their independent existence, because the consciousness of the self is not yet born in them. Through self-consciousness man describes himself as an independent being, separate from all others, as "I." In his "I" man brings together all that he experiences as a being in body and soul. Body and soul are the carriers of the ego or "I;" in them it acts. Just as the physical body has its center in the brain, so has the soul its center in the ego. Man is aroused to sensations by impacts from without; feelings manifest themselves as the effects of the outer world; the will relates itself to the outside world in that it realizes itself in external actions. The ego as the peculiar and essential being of man remains quite invisible. Excellently, therefore, does Jean Paul call a man's recognition of his ego [43} an "occurrence taking place only in the veiled holy of holies of a man," for with his "I" man is quite alone. And this "I" is the man himself. That justifies him in regarding his ego as his true being. He may, therefore, describe his body and his soul as the "sheaths" or "veils" within which he lives; and he may describe them as his tools through which he acts. In the course of his evolution he learns to regard these tools ever more and more as the servants of his ego. The little word "I" (German ich) as it is used, for example, in the English and German languages, is a name which differs from all other names. Anyone who reflects in an appropriate manner on the nature of this name will find that it forms an avenue to the understanding of the human being in the deeper sense. Any other name can be applied to its corresponding object by all men in the same way. Anybody can call a table "table" or a chair "chair," but this is not so with the name I. No one can use it in referring to another person; each one can call only himself "I." Never can the name "I" reach my ears from outside when it refers to me. Only from [44} within, only through itself, can the soul refer to itself as "I." When the human being therefore says "I" to himself, something begins to speak in him that has nothing to do with anyone of the worlds from which the "sheaths" so far mentioned are taken.

The I becomes ever more and more ruler of body and soul. This also comes to visible expression in the aura. The more the I is lord over body and soul, the more numerous and complex are its members, and the more varied and rich are the colors of the aura. This effect of the I on the aura can be seen by the "seeing" person. The I itself is invisible, even to him. This remains truly within the "veiled holy of holies of a man." But the I absorbs into itself the rays of the light which flames forth in a man as eternal light. As he gathers together the experiences of body and soul in the I, he also causes the thoughts of truth and goodness to stream into the I. The phenomena of the senses reveal themselves to the I from the one side, the spirit reveals itself from the other. Body and soul yield themselves up to the I in order to serve it; but the I yields itself up to the spirit in order that [45} it may be filled by it. The I lives in body and soul; but the spirit lives in the I. And what there is of spirit in the I is eternal. For the I receives its nature and significance from that with which it is bound up. Inasmuch as it lives in the physical body, it is subject to the laws of the mineral world; through its ether-body to the laws of propagation and growth; by virtue of the sentient and intellectual souls to the laws of the soul world; in so far as it receives the spiritual into itself it is subject to the laws of the spirit. That which the mineral laws and the life laws construct comes into being and vanishes; but the spirit has nothing to do with becoming and perishing.

The I lives in the soul. Although the highest manifestation of the I belongs to the consciousness-soul, one must nevertheless say that this I, raying out from it, fills the whole of the soul, and through the soul affects the body. And in the I the spirit is alive. It rays into it and lives in it as in a "sheath" or veil, just as the I lives in its sheaths, the body and the soul. The spirit develops the I from within, outward; the mineral world develops it from without, inward. The spirit forming [46} an I and living as I will be called spirit-self, because it manifests as the I, or ego, or "self" of man. ("Spirit-self" signifies the same as that which in theosophical literature is called "Higher manas." The Sanscrit word "manas" is related to the English word "man," and the German word "Mensch," and signifies the human being in so far as he is a spiritual being.) The difference between the "spirit-self" and the "consciousness-soul" can be made clear in the following way. The consciousness-soul is the bearer of the self-existent truth which is independent of all antipathy and sympathy, the spirit-self bears within it the same truth, but taken up into and enclosed by the I, individualized by the latter and absorbed into the independent being of the man. It is through the eternal truth becoming thus individualized and bound up into one being with the I, that the I itself attains to eternity.

The spirit-self is a revelation of the spiritual world within the I, just as from the other side sensations are a revelation of the physical world within the I. In that which is red, green, light, dark, hard, soft, warm, cold, one [47} recognizes the revelations of the corporal world; in what is true and good, the revelations of the spiritual world. In the same sense in which the revelation of the corporal world is called sensation, let the revelation of the spiritual be called intuition. Even the most simple thought contains intuition, for one cannot touch it with the hands or see it with the eyes; one must receive its revelation from the spirit through the I. If an undeveloped and a developed man look at a plant, there lives in the I of the one something quite different from that which is in the ego of the other. And yet the sensations of both are called forth by the same object. The difference lies in this, that the one can make far more perfect thoughts about the object than the other can. If objects revealed themselves through sensation alone, there could be no progress in spiritual development. Even the savage is affected by nature, but the laws of nature reveal themselves only to the thoughts, fructified by intuition, of the more highly developed man. The excitations from the outer world are felt even by the child as incentives to the will; but the commandments of [48} the morally good disclose themselves to him in the course of his development only as he learns to live in the spirit and understand its revelations.

Just as there could be no color sensations without physical eyes, there could be no intuitions without the higher thinking of the spirit-self. And as little as sensation creates the plant on which the color appears, does intuition create the spiritual realities about which it is merely giving information.

The I of man, which comes to life in the soul, draws in messages from above, from the spirit world through intuitions, just as through sensations it draws in messages from the physical world. By doing this it makes the spirit world the individualized life of its own soul, even as it does the physical world by means of the senses. The soul, or the I flaming forth in it, opens its portals on two sides, toward the corporal and toward the spiritual. Now as just the physical world can only give information about itself to the ego, because it builds out of physical materials and forces a body in which the conscious soul can live and possess organs for perceiving the corporal world outside [49} itself, so the spiritual world builds, with its spiritual materials and spiritual forces, a spirit-body in which the I can live and through intuitions perceive the spiritual. (It is evident that the expression spirit-body contains a contradiction, according to the literal meaning of the word. It is only to be used in order to direct attention to what, in the spiritual regions, corresponds to the body of man in the physical.)

Just as within the physical world each human body is built up as a separate being, so is the spirit-body within the spirit world. In the spirit world there is for man an inner and an outer, just as there is in the physical world. As man takes in the materials of the physical world around him and assimilates them within his physical body, so does he take the spiritual from the spiritual environment and make it into his own. The spiritual is the eternal nourishment of man. And as man is born of the physical world, he is also born of the spirit through the eternal laws of the True and the Good. He is separated from the spirit world outside of him, as he is separated from the whole physical world, as [50} an independent being. This independent spiritual being will be called spirit-man. (It is the same as that which is called Atma in theosophical literature.)

If we examine the human physical body, we find the same materials and forces in it as we find outside it in the rest of the physical world. It is the same with the spirit-man. In it pulsate the elements of the external spirit world. In it the forces of the rest of the spirit world are active. As a being within the physical skin becomes a self-contained entity, living and feeling, so also in the spirit world. The spiritual skin which separates the spirit man from the uniform spirit world makes him an independent being within it, living a life within himself and perceiving intuitively the spiritual content of the world. This "spiritual skin" will be called spirit-sheath. (In theosophical literature it is called auric sheath.) It must be kept clearly in mind that the spiritual skin expands continually with the advancing human evolution, so that the spiritual individuality of man (his auric sheath) is capable of enlargement to an unlimited extent. [51} The spirit-man lives within this spirit-sheath. It is built up by the spiritual life-force in the same way as is the physical body by the physical life-force. In a similar way to that in which one speaks of an ether-body one must therefore speak of an ether-spirit in reference to the spirit-man. Let this ether-spirit be called life-spirit. The spiritual being of man therefore is composed of three parts, spirit-man, life-spirit, and spirit-self. (Atma, budhi, manas are the corresponding expressions in theosophical literature. For Budhi is the separated special life-spirit which is formed by the spiritual life-force, or Budhi.)

For him who is a "seer" in the spiritual regions, this spiritual being of man is a perceptible reality as the higher, truly spiritual part of the aura. He "sees" the spirit-man as life-spirit within the spirit-sheath, and he "sees" how this "life-spirit" grows continually larger by taking in spiritual nourishment from the spiritual external world. Further, he sees how the spirit-sheath continually increases, widens out through what is brought into it, and how the spirit-man becomes ever [52} larger and larger. For the difference between the spiritual and the physical being of man is that the latter has a limited size while the former can grow to an unlimited extent. Whatever of spiritual nourishment is absorbed has an eternal worth. The human aura is accordingly composed of two interpenetrating parts. Color and form are given to the one by the physical existence of man, and to the other by his spiritual existence. The ego forms the separation between them in this way that, while the physical after its own manner gives itself to building up a body which allows a soul to live and expand in it, and the ego gives itself to allowing to live and develop in it the spirit which now for its part permeates the soul and gives it the goal in the spirit world. Through the body the soul is enclosed in the physical; through the spirit-man there grow wings for its moving in the spiritual world.

In order to comprehend the whole man, one must think of him as formed of the components above mentioned. The body builds itself up out of the world of physical matter in such a way that the construction is adapted [53} to the requirements of the thinking ego. It is penetrated with life-force, and thereby becomes the ether or life-body. As such it opens itself through the sense organs toward the outer world and becomes the soul-body. This the sentient-soul permeates and becomes one with. The sentient-soul does not merely receive the impacts of the outer world as sensations. It has its own inner life which it fructifies through thinking on the one hand, as it does through sensations on the other. In this way it becomes the intellectual-soul. It is able to do this by opening itself up to intuitions from above, as it does to sensations from below. Thus it becomes the consciousness-soul. This is possible to it because the spirit world builds into it the organ of intuition, just as the physical body builds in it the sense organs. As the senses transmit sensations by means of the soul-body, the spirit transmits to it intuitions through the organ of intuition. The spirit-man is therefore linked into a unity with the consciousness-soul, just as the physical body is with the sentient-soul in the soul-body. Consciousness-soul and spirit-self form a unity. In this unity the spirit-man lives as [54} life-spirit, just as the ether body forms the bodily life-basis for the soul-body. And as the physical body is enclosed in the physical skin, so is the spirit-man in the spirit-sheath. The members of the whole man are as follows:

A. Physical-body.

B. Ether-body.

C. Soul-body.

D. Sentient-soul.

E. Intellectual-soul.

F. Consciousness-soul.

G. Spirit-self.

H. Life-spirit.

I. Spirit-man.

Soul-body (C) and sentient-soul (D) are a unity in the earthly man; in the same way are consciousness-soul (F) and spirit-self (G) a unity. Thus there come to be seven parts in the earthly man. The expressions used in theosophical literature are as follows:

1. Physical-body (Sthula sharira).

2. Ether or life-body (Linga sharira).

3. Sentient-soul-body (Astral body, Kama rupa).

4. Intellectual-soul (Lower manas, Kama manas). [55}

5. Spirit-filled Consciousness-soul (Higher manas).

6. Life-spirit (Spiritual-body, Budhi).

7. Spirit-man (Atma).

The "I" flashes forth in the soul, receives the infusion from out the spirit and thereby becomes the bearer of the spirit-man. Through this, man participates in the "three worlds," the physical, the soul, and the spiritual. He takes root in the physical world through his physical body, ether-body, and soul-body and flowers through the spirit-self, life-spirit, and spirit-man up into the spiritual world. The stalk, however, which takes root in the one and flowers in the other, is the soul itself.

One can express this arrangement of the members of man in a simplified way, but one entirely consistent with the above. Although the human I flashes forth in the consciousness-soul, it nevertheless penetrates the whole soul-being. The parts of this soul-being are not as distinctly separate as are the limbs of the body; they penetrate each other, in a higher sense. If then, one hold clearly in view the intellectual-soul and the consciousness-soul [56} as the two members united to form the bearer of the I, and this I as their kernel, one can divide man into physical body, life-body, astral-body, and I. The expression astral-body designates here what is formed by soul-body and sentient-soul together, although the sentient-soul is in a certain respect energized by the I. When now the I penetrates itself with spirit-self, this spirit-self comes into evidence in the transmutation of the astral-body by a force within the soul. In the astral-body there are primarily active the impulses, desires, and passions of man, in so far as they are felt by him; the physical perceptions also take effect in it. Physical perceptions arise through the soul-body as a member in man which comes to him from the external world. Impulses, desires, and passions, etc., arise in the sentient-soul, in so far as it is energized by the soul before the latter has yielded itself to the spirit. If the I penetrates itself with spirit-self, the soul proceeds to energize the astral-body with this spirit-self. This expresses itself in the illumination of the impulses, desires, and passions by what the I has received from the spirit. The I has [57} then, through the power it gains as partaker of the spiritual world, become ruler in the world of impulses, desires, etc. In proportion to the extent to which it has become this the spirit-self appears in the astral-body. And the astral-body becomes thereby transmuted. The astral-body itself then becomes visible as a two-membered body, an untransmuted and a transmuted. One can therefore designate the spirit-self, as manifested in man, as transmuted astral-body.

A similar process takes place in a person when he receives the life spirit into his I. The Life-body then becomes transmuted. It becomes penetrated with the life-spirit. And the Life-spirit reveals itself in that the life-body becomes quite other than it was. For this reason one can also say that life-spirit is transmuted life-body. And if the I receives the spirit-man, it thereby receives the strong force with which to penetrate the physical body. Naturally, that part of the physical body thus transmuted is not perceptible to the physical senses. It is, in fact, just that part of the physical body which has been spiritualized that has become the spirit-man. [58} The physical body is then present to the physical senses as physical, and in so far as this physical is spiritualized, it has to be perceived by spiritual faculties of perception. To the external senses the physical, even when penetrated by the spiritual, appears to be merely sensible.

Taking all this as a basis, one can have also the following arrangement of the members of man:

1. Physical-body.

2. Life-body.

3. Astral-body.

4. I, as soul kernel.

5. Spirit-self as transmuted astral-body.

6. Life-spirit as transmuted life-body.

7. Spirit-man as transmuted physical-body.


2. Re-Embodiment of the Spirit and Destiny

Reincarnation and karma

In the midst between body and spirit lives the soul. The impressions which come to it through the body are transitory. They are present only as long as the body opens its organs to the things of the outer world. My eye perceives the color of the rose only so long as the rose is opposite to it and my eye is itself open. The presence of the things of the outer world as well as of the bodily organs is necessary in order that an impression, a sensation, or a perception can take place. But what I have recognized in my spirit as truth concerning the rose does not pass with the present moment. And, as regards its truth, it is not in the least dependent on me. It would be true even although I had [60} never stood in front of the rose. What I know through the spirit is timeless or eternal. The soul is placed between the present and eternity, in that it holds the middle place between body and spirit. But it is also the intermediary between the present and eternity. It preserves the present for the remembrance. It thereby rescues it from impermanence, and brings it nearer to the eternity of the spiritual. It stamps eternity on the temporal and impermanent by not merely yielding itself up to the transitory incitements, but by determining things from out its own initiative, and embodying its own nature in them by means of the actions it performs. By remembrance the soul preserves the yesterday, by action it prepares the tomorrow.

My soul would have to perceive the red of the rose always afresh if it could not store it up in remembrance. What remains after an external impression, what can be retained by the soul, is the conception. Through the power of forming conceptions the soul makes the corporal outer world so far into its own inner world that it can then retain the latter [61} in the memory for remembrance and, independent of the gained impressions, lead with it thereafter a life of its own. The soul-life thus becomes the enduring result of the transitory impressions of the external world.

But an action also receives permanence when once it is stamped on the outer world. If I cut a branch from a tree something has taken place by means of my soul which completely changes the course of events in the outer world. Something quite different would have happened to the branch of the tree if I had not interfered by my action. I have called forth into life a series of effects which, without my existence, would not have been present. What I have done today endures for tomorrow; it becomes permanent through the deed, as my impressions of yesterday have become permanent for my soul through memory.

Let us first consider memory. How does it originate? Evidently in quite a different way from sensation or perception, because these are made possible by the corporality. Without the eye I cannot have the sensation "blue." But in no way do I have the [62} remembrance of "blue" through the eye. If the eye is to give me this sensation now, a blue thing must come before it. The corporality would always allow impressions to sink back into nothingness if it alone existed. I remember; that is, I experience something which is itself no longer present. I unite a past experience with my present life. This is the case with every remembrance. Let us say, for instance, that I meet a man and recognize him again because I met him yesterday. He would be a complete stranger to me were I not able to unite the picture perception with my impression of him today. The picture of today is given me by the perception, that is to say, by my corporality. But who conjures that of yesterday into my soul? It is the same being in me that was present during my experience yesterday, and that is also present in that of today. In the previous explanations it has been called soul. Were it not for this faithful preserver of the past each external impression would be always new to a man.

As preserver of the past the soul continually gathers treasures for the spirit. That [63} I can distinguish right from wrong follows because I, as a human being, am a thinking being, able to grasp the truth in my spirit. Truth is eternal; and it could always reveal itself to me again in things, even if I were always to lose sight of the past and each impression were to be a new one to me. But the spirit within me is not restricted to the impressions of the present alone; the soul extends its horizon over the past. And the more it is able to bring to the spirit out of the past, the richer does it make the spirit. In this way the soul transmits to the spirit what it has received from the body. The spirit of man therefore carries each moment of its life a twofold possession within itself, firstly, the eternal laws of the good and the true; secondly, the remembrance of the experiences of the past. What he does, he accomplishes under the influence of these two factors. If we wish to understand a human spirit we must therefore know two different things about him, first, how much of the eternal has revealed itself to him; second, how much treasure from the past is stored up within him. [64} The treasure by no means remains in the spirit in an unchanged shape. The conceptions which man extracts from his experiences fade gradually from the memory. Not so, however, their fruits. One does not remember all the experiences one had during childhood when acquiring the arts of reading and writing. But one could not read or write if one had not had the experiences, and if their fruits had not been preserved in the form of abilities. And that is the transmutation which the spirit effects on the treasures of memory. It consigns the pictures of the separate experiences to their fate, and only extracts from them the force necessary for enhancing and increasing its abilities. Thus not one experience passes by unused; the soul preserves each one as memory, and from each the spirit draws forth all that can enrich its abilities and the whole content of its life. The human spirit grows through assimilated experiences. And, although one cannot find the past experiences in the spirit preserved as if in a storeroom, one nevertheless finds their effects in the abilities which the man has acquired. [65} Thus far spirit and soul have been considered only within the period lying between life and death. One cannot rest there. Anyone wishing to do that would be like the man who observes the human body also within the same limits only. Much can certainly be discovered within these limits. But the human form can never be explained by what lies between birth and death. It cannot build itself up unaided out of mere physical matter and forces. It takes rise in a form like its own, which has been passed on to it by propagation. Physical materials and forces build up the body during life; the forces of propagation enable another body, inheriting its form, to proceed from it; that is to say, one which is able to be the bearer of the same life-body. Each life-body is a repetition of its forefathers. Only because it is such does it appear, not in any chance form, but in that passed on to it. The forces which have given me human form lay in my forefathers. But the spirit also of a man appears in a definite form. And the forms of the spirit are the most varied imaginable in different persons. No two men have the same spiritual [66} form. One ought to make investigations in this region in just as quiet and matter-of-fact a manner as in the physical world. It cannot be said that the differences in human beings in spiritual respects arise only from the differences in their environment, their upbringing, etc. No, this is by no means the case, for two people under similar influences as regards environments, upbringing, etc., develop in quite different ways. One is therefore forced to admit that they have entered on their path of life with quite different predispositions. Here one is brought face to face with an important fact which, when its full bearing is recognized, sheds light on the nature of man.

Human beings differ from their animal fellow-creatures on the earth as regards their physical form. But among each other human beings are, within certain limits, the same in regard to their physical form. There is only one human species. However great may be the differences between races, peoples, tribes, and personalities as regards the physical body, the resemblance between man and man is greater than between man and any [67} brute species. All that expresses itself as human species passes on from forefather to descendants. And the human form is bound to this heredity. As the lion can inherit its physical form from lion forefathers only, so the human being inherits his physical body from human forefathers only.

Just as the physical similarity of men is quite evident to the eye, the difference of their spiritual forms reveals itself to the unprejudiced spiritual gaze. There is one very evident fact which shows this clearly. It consists in the existence of the biography of a human being. Were a human being merely a member of a species, no biography could exist. A lion, a dove, lay claim to interest in so far as they belong to the lion, the dove genus. One has understood the separate being in all its essentials when one has described the genus. It matters little whether one has to do with father, son, or grandson. What is of interest in them, father, son, and grandson have in common. But what a human being signifies begins, not where he is a mere member of a genus, but only where he is a separate being. I have not in the least understood the [68} nature of Mr. Smith of Crowcorner if I have described his son or his father. I must know his own biography. Anyone who reflects accurately on the essence of biography becomes aware that in regard to spiritual things each man is a species by himself.

Those people, to be sure, who regard a biography merely as a collection of external incidents in the life of a person, may claim that they can write the biography of a dog in the same way as that of a man. But anyone who depicts in a biography the real individuality of a man, grasps the fact that he has in the biography of one human being something that corresponds to the description of a whole genus in the animal kingdom.

Now if genus or species in the physical sense becomes intelligible only when one understands it as the result of heredity, the spiritual being can be intelligible only through a similar spiritual heredity. I have received my physical human form from my forefathers. Whence have I that which comes to expression in my biography? As physical man, I repeat the shape of my forefathers. What do I repeat as spiritual [69} man? Anyone claiming that what is comprised in my biography requires no further explanation has to be regarded as having no other course open to him than to claim equally that he has seen, somewhere, an earth mound on which the lumps of matter have aggregated quite by themselves into a living man.

As physical man I spring from other physical men, for I have the same shape as the whole human species. The qualities of the species, accordingly, could be bequeathed to me within the genus. As spiritual man I have my own shape as I have my own biography. I therefore can have obtained this shape from no one but myself. Since I entered the world not with undefined but with defined predispositions; and since the course of my life as it comes to expression in my biography is determined by these predispositions, my work on myself cannot have begun with my birth. I must, as spiritual man, have existed before my birth. In my forefathers I have certainly not been existent, for they as spiritual human beings are different from me. My biography is not explainable through [70} theirs. On the contrary, I must, as spiritual being, be the repetition of one through whose biography mine can be explained. The physical form which Schiller bore he inherited from his forefathers. But just as little as Schiller's physical form can have grown out of the earth, so little can his spiritual being have done so. It must be the repetition of another spiritual being through whose biography his will be explainable as his physical human form is explainable through human propagation. In the same way, therefore, that the physical human form is ever again and again a repetition, a reincarnation of the distinctively human species, the spiritual human being must be a reincarnation of the same spiritual human being. For as spiritual human being, each one is in fact his own species.

It might be said in objection to what has been stated here that it is pure spinning of thoughts, and such external proof might be demanded as one is accustomed to in ordinary natural science. The reply to this is that the reëmbodiment of the spiritual human being is, naturally, a process which does not belong to the region of external physical facts, but [71} is one that takes place entirely in the spiritual region. And to this region no other of our ordinary powers of intelligence has entrance, save that of thinking. He who is unwilling to trust to the power of thinking cannot, in fact, enlighten himself regarding higher spiritual facts. For him whose spiritual eye is opened the above train of thoughts acts with exactly the same force as does an event that takes place before his physical eyes. He who ascribes to a so-called "proof," constructed according to the methods of natural science, greater power to convince than the above observations concerning the significance of biography, may be in the ordinary sense of the word a great scientist, but from the paths of true spiritual investigation he is very far distant.

One of the gravest prejudices consists in trying to explain the spiritual qualities of a man by inheritance from father, mother, or other ancestors. He who contracts the prejudice, for example, that Goethe inherited what constitutes his essential being from father or mother will at first be hardly approachable with arguments, for there lies [72} within him a deep antipathy to unprejudiced observation. A materialistic spell prevents him from seeing the relations of phenomena in the true light.

In such observations as the preceding, the presuppositions are supplied for following the human being beyond birth and death. Within the boundaries formed by birth and death the human being belongs to the three worlds, of corporality, of soul, and of spirit. The soul forms the link between body and spirit because it penetrates the third member of the body, the soul-body, with a capacity for sensation, and because it permeates the first member of the spirit, the spirit-self, as consciousness-soul. In this way it takes part and lot during life with the body as well as with the spirit. This comes to expression in its whole existence. It will depend on the construction of the soul-body how the sentient-soul can unfold its capabilities. And, on the other hand, it will depend on the life of the consciousness-soul to what extent the spirit-self can develop itself in it. The more highly developed the soul-body is, the more complete is the intercourse which the sentient- [73} soul will be able to develop with the outer world. And the spirit-self will become so much the richer and more powerful, the more the consciousness-soul brings it nourishment. It has been shown that during life this nourishment is supplied to the spirit-self through assimilated experiences, and the fruits of these experiences. For the interaction of soul and spirit described above, can, of course, only take place where soul and spirit are within each other, penetrating each other, that is, within the union of "spirit-self" with "consciousness-soul."

Let us consider, first, the interaction of the soul-body and sentient-soul. The soul-body is, as has become evident, the most finely elaborated part of the corporality; but it, nevertheless, belongs to it and is dependent on it. Physical-body, ether-body, and soul-body compose, in a certain sense, one whole. Hence the soul-body is also drawn within the laws of physical heredity through which the body receives its shape. And since it is the most mobile and, so to speak, volatile form of corporality, it must also exhibit the most mobile, volatile manifestations of heredity. While, [74} therefore, the difference in the physical body is smallest, corresponding to races, peoples, and tribes; and while the ether-body presents, on the whole, a preponderating likeness although a greater divergence in single individuals, in the soul-body the difference is a very great one. In it is expressed what one already feels to be the external, personal, uniqueness of a man. It is therefore also the bearer of that part of this personal uniqueness which is passed on from parents, grand-parents, etc., to descendants. The soul as such leads, as has been explained, a completely self-contained life of its own; it shuts itself up with its inclinations and disinclinations, its feelings and passions; but, as a whole being, it is nevertheless active, and therefore this whole comes to expression also in the sentient-soul. And because the sentient-soul penetrates and, as it were, fills up the soul-body, the latter forms itself according to the nature of the soul and can in this way, as the bearer of heredity, pass on tendencies, passions, etc., from forefathers to children. On this fact rests what Goethe says: "From my father I have stature and the serious manner of life, [75} from the little mother the joyous disposition and the love of romance." Genius, of course, he did not receive from either. In this way we are shown what part of a man's soul qualities he hands over, as it were, to the line of physical heredity.

The matter and forces of the physical body are in the whole external physical nature around us. They are continually being taken from it and given back to it. In the space of a few years the matter which composes our physical body is entirely renewed. That this matter takes the form of the human body, and that it always renews itself again within this body, is due to the fact that it is held together by the ether-body. And the form of the latter is not determined by events between birth – or conception – and death alone, but is dependent on the laws of heredity which extend beyond birth and death. That soul qualities also can be transmitted by heredity, that is, that the process of physical heredity receives an infusion from the soul, is due to the fact that the soul-body can be influenced by the sentient-soul.

Now how does the interaction between body [76} and soul proceed? During life the spirit is bound up with the soul in the way shown above. The soul receives from it the power of living in the Good and the True, and of thereby bringing in its own life, in its tendencies, impulses, and passions, the spirit itself to expression. The spirit-self brings to the I, from the world of the spirit, the eternal laws of the True and the Good. These link themselves through the consciousness-soul with the experiences of the soul's own life. These experiences themselves pass away, but their fruits remain. The spirit-self receives an abiding impression by having been linked with them. When the human spirit approaches an experience similar to one with which it has already been linked, it sees in it something familiar, and is able to take up a different attitude toward it than if it were facing it for the first time. This is the basis of all learning. And the fruits of learning are acquired capacities. The fruits of the transitory life are in this way graven on the eternal spirit. And do we not see these fruits? Whence spring the innate predispositions and talents described above as characteristic of the [77} spiritual man? Surely only from capacities of one kind or another which the human being brings with him when he begins his earthly life. These capacities, in certain respects, resemble exactly those which we can also acquire for ourselves during life. Take the case of a genius. It is known that Mozart, when a boy, could write out from memory a long musical composition after hearing it only once. He was able to do this only because he could survey the whole at one glance. Within certain limits a man is also able during life to increase his capacity of rapid survey, of grasping combinations to such an extent that he then possesses new faculties. Lessing, indeed, has said of himself that by means of a talent for critical observation he had acquired for himself something that came near to being genius. One has either to regard such abilities founded on innate capacities with wonder as miracles, or one must consider them as fruits of experiences which the spirit-self has had through a soul. They have been graven on the spirit-self. And since they have not been implanted in this life, they have been in a former one. The human spirit is [78} its own species. And just as roan as a physical being belonging to a species bequeaths his qualities within the species, so does the spirit within its species, that is, within itself. In each life the human spirit appears as a repetition of itself with the fruits of its former experiences in previous lives. This life is consequently the repetition of another, and brings with it what the spirit-self has, by work, acquired for itself in the previous life. When the spirit-self absorbs something that can develop into fruit, it penetrates itself with the life-spirit. Just as the life-body reproduces the form, from genus to genus, so does the life-spirit reproduce the soul from personal existence to personal existence.

Thus the experiences of the soul become enduring not only within the boundaries of birth and death, but out beyond death. But the soul does not stamp its experiences only on the spirit which flashes up in it, it stamps them, as has been shown, on the outer world, also, through the deed. What a man did yesterday is today still present in its effects. A picture of the connection between cause and effect is given in the simile of sleep and death. [79} Sleep has often been called the younger brother of death. I get up in the morning. Night has interrupted my consecutive activity. Now, under ordinary circumstances, it is not possible for me to begin my activity again just as I like. I must connect it with my doings of yesterday if there is to be order and coherence in my life. My actions of yesterday are the conditions predetermining those I have to do today. I have created my fate of today by what I did yesterday. I have separated myself for a while from my activity; but this activity belongs to me and draws me again to itself after I have withdrawn myself from it for a while. My past remains bound up with me; it lives on in my present, and will follow me into my future. If the effects of my deeds of yesterday were not to be my fate today, I should have had, not to awake this morning, but to be newly created out of nothing. It would be absurd if under ordinary circumstances I were not to occupy a house that I have had built for me.

The human spirit is just as little newly created when it begins its earthly life as is a man newly created every morning. Let us try [80} to make clear to ourselves what happens when an entrance into this life takes place. A physical body, receiving its form through the laws of heredity, comes upon the scene. This body becomes the bearer of a spirit which repeats a previous life in a new form. Between the two stands the soul, which leads a self-contained life of its own. Its inclinations and disinclinations, its wishes and desires minister to it; it takes thought into its service. As sentient-soul it receives the impressions of the outer world and carries them to the spirit, in order that the spirit may extract from them the fruits that are for eternity. It plays, as it were, the part of intermediary; and its task is fully accomplished when it is able to do this. The body forms impressions for the sentient-soul which transforms them into sensations, retains them in the memory as conceptions, and hands them over to the spirit to hold throughout eternity. The soul is really that through which man belongs to his earthly life. Through his body he belongs to the physical human species. Through it he is a member of this species. With his spirit he lives in a higher world. [81} The soul binds the two worlds for a time together.

But the physical world on which the human spirit enters is no strange field of action to it. On it the traces of its actions are imprinted. Something in this field of action belongs to the spirit. It bears the impress of its being. It is related to it. As the soul formerly transmitted the impressions from the outer world to the spirit in order that they might become enduring in it, so now the soul, as the spirit's organ, converts the capacities bestowed by the spirit into deeds which are also enduring through their effects. Thus the soul has actually flowed into these actions. In the effects of his actions man's soul lives on in a second independent life. And it is inevitable that the human spirit should meet again the effect of these actions. For only the one part of my deed is in the outer world; the other is in myself. Let us make this clear by a simple example taken from natural science. Animals that once could see migrated to the caves of Kentucky, and have, through their life in them, lost their powers of sight. The existence in darkness has caused the eyes to [82} be inactive. Consequently the physical and chemical activity that is present when seeing takes place is no longer carried on in these eyes. The stream of nourishment which was formerly expended on this activity now flows to other organs. These animals can now live only in these caves. They have by their act, by the immigration, created the conditions of their later lives. The immigration has become a part of their fate. A being that once acted has united itself with the results of the action. It is so also with the human spirit. It is only by having been active that the soul could have transmitted certain capacities to it. And these capacities correspond to the actions.

By means of his actions, therefore, the human spirit has really carved his fate. In a new life he finds himself linked to what he did in a former one. One may ask, "How can that be, when the human spirit on reincarnating finds itself in an entirely different world from that which it left at some earlier time?" This question is based on a very superficial conception of the linkings of fate. If I change my scene of action from Europe to America I find myself in entirely new surroundings. [83} [paragraph continues] Nevertheless, my life in America depends entirely on my previous life in Europe. If I have been a mechanic in Europe, my life in America will shape itself quite differently from the way in which it would had I been a bank clerk. In the one case I should probably be surrounded in America by machinery, in the other by bank offices. In each case it is my previous life that decides my environment; it attracts to itself, as it were, out of the whole surrounding world, those things that are related to it. So it is with the spirit-self. It inevitably surrounds itself in a new life with that to which it is related from previous lives. And it is on this account that sleep is a good likeness for death. For the man during sleep is withdrawn from the field of action in which his fate waits for him. While one sleeps events in this field of action pursue their course. One has for a time no influence on this course of events. Nevertheless, our life on a new day depends on the effects of the deeds of the previous one. Our personality actually embodies or incarnates itself anew every morning in our world of action. What was separated from us at night is on the next [84} day, as it were, spread out around us. So it is with the actions of the former embodiments or incarnations of man. They are bound to him as his destiny, as the life in the dark caves remains bound up with the animals who, through migration into them, have lost their powers of sight. Just as these animals can only live in the surroundings in which they have placed themselves, so the human spirit can only live in the surroundings which by its acts it has created for itself. There can be no more appropriate comparison than that of sleep with death. That I find in the morning a state of affairs which I on the previous day created, is brought about by the immediate progress of the events themselves. That I, when I reincarnate myself, find surroundings which correspond with the results of my deeds in a previous life, is brought about by the relationship of my reincarnated spirit with the things in the world around. From this it stands out clearly how the soul forms a member of the constitution of man. The physical body is subject to the laws of heredity. The human spirit, on the contrary, has to incarnate over and over again, and its law consists in its [85} bringing over the fruits of the former lives into the following ones. The soul lives in the present. But this life in the present is not independent of the previous lives. For the incarnating spirit brings its destiny with it from its previous incarnations, and this destiny decides the kind of life. Whatever impressions the soul will be able to have, with what wishes it will be able to be gratified, what sorrows and joys spring forth for it, depend on the nature of the actions in the past incarnations of the spirit. The life of the soul is therefore the result of the self-created destiny of the human spirit. The course of man's life between birth and death is therefore determined in a threefold way. And he is by these means dependent in a threefold way on factors which lie on the other side of birth and death. The body is subject to the laws of heredity; the soul is subject to the self-created fate. One calls this fate created by the man himself his karma. The spirit is under the law of reëmbodiment or reincarnation. One can accordingly express the relationship between spirit, soul, and body in the following way as well. The spirit is eternal; birth and death have dominion [86} over the corporality according to the laws of the physical world; the soul-life, which is subject to destiny, links them together during an earthly life.

All further knowledge of the being of man has to be preceded by acquaintance with the "three worlds" to which he belongs. They are dealt with in the following chapters.

Thinking which takes up an unprejudiced attitude toward the phenomena of life, not afraid to follow the thoughts resulting to their final consequences, can, by pure logic, arrive at the conviction of the law of karma and reincarnation. Just as it is true that for the seer with the opened "spiritual eye," past lives, like an opened book, face him as experience, so is it true that the truth of it all becomes obvious to the unprejudiced reason.


3. The Three Worlds

3.1. The Soul World

Our study of man has shown that he belongs to three worlds. From the world of physical corporality are taken the materials and forces building up his body. He has knowledge of this world through the perceptions of his external physical senses. Anyone trusting to these senses alone, and developing his perceptive abilities alone, can gain for himself no enlightenment concerning the two other worlds, the soul and the spiritual. A man's ability to convince himself of the reality of a thing or a being depends on whether he has an organ of perception, a sense for it. It may, of course, easily lead to misunderstandings if one call the higher organs of perception spiritual senses, as is done here, for in speaking of "senses" one involuntarily connects with [88} them the thought "physical." The physical world is in fact designated the "sensible," in contradistinction to the "spiritual." In order to avoid this misunderstanding, one must take into account that "higher senses" are spoken of here only in a comparative or metaphorical sense. As the physical senses perceive the physical world, the soul and spiritual senses perceive the soul and spiritual worlds. The expression "sense" will be used as meaning simply "organ of perception." Man would have no knowledge of light and color had he not an eye able to sense light; he would know nothing of sound had he not an ear able to sense sound. In this connection the German philosopher Lotze rightly says, "Without a light-sensing eye, and a sound-sensing ear, the whole world would be dark and silent. There would be in it just as little light or sound as there could be toothache without the pain-feeling nerve of the tooth." In order to see what is said here in the right light, one need only think how entirely different the world must reveal itself to man on the one hand, and on the other to the lower forms of animal life that have only a kind of touch sense or sense of [89} feeling spread over the whole surface of their bodies. Light, color, and sound certainly cannot exist for them in the same way as for beings gifted with ears and eyes. The vibrations which the firing of a gun causes may Wave an effect on them also if they reach them. But in order that these vibrations of the air should present themselves as a report an ear is necessary. And an eye is necessary in order that certain processes in the fine matter that one calls ether should reveal themselves as light and color. Man knows something about a being or thing only because through one of his organs he receives its effects.

This relationship of man with the world of realities is excellently brought out by Goethe when he says: "It is really in vain that we try to express the nature of a thing. We become aware of effects, and a complete history of them would indeed embrace the nature of that thing. We endeavor in vain to describe the character of a man, but if instead we systematically correlate his actions and deeds, a picture of his character will present itself to us. Colors are the actions of light, actions and suffering … colors and light are indeed [90} linked in closest relationship, but we must think of them both as belonging to the whole of nature; for through them the whole of nature is engaged in revealing herself to the sense of the eye especially. In like manner nature reveals herself to another sense … nature thus speaks downward to other senses, to known, misunderstood, unknown senses; she thus speaks with herself and to us through a thousand phenomena. To the attentive she is nowhere either dead or silent." It would not be correct were one to interpret this saying of Goethe's as though by it the possibility of knowing the essential nature of a thing were being denied. Goethe does not mean that one perceives only the effects of a thing, and that the being hides itself behind them. He means rather that one should not speak at all of a "hidden being." The being is not behind its revelation; it comes, on the contrary, into view through the revelation. But this being is in many respects so rich that it can reveal itself to other senses in yet other forms. That which reveals itself belongs to the being only – on account of the limitations of the senses – it is not the whole being. This [91} point of view of Goethe's is entirely the theosophical one.

As in the body, eye and ear develop into organs of perception, into senses for corporal occurrences, so is man able to develop in himself soul and spiritual organs of perception, through which the soul and spiritual worlds will be opened to him. For those who have not such higher senses, these worlds are "dead and silent," just as for a being without eyes and ears the corporal world is "dark and silent." It is true that the relation of man to these higher senses is rather different from his relations to the corporal senses. It is good Mother Nature who sees to it as a rule that these latter are developed in him. They come into existence without his help. But on the development of his higher senses he must work himself. If he wishes to perceive the soul and spirit worlds, he must develop soul and spirit as nature has developed his body so that he might perceive the corporal world around him and guide himself in it. Such a development of the higher organs not yet developed for us by nature herself is not unnatural; for in the higher sense all that man accomplishes [92} belongs also to nature. Only he who wishes to maintain that man should remain standing at the stage at which he left the hand of nature could call the development of the higher senses unnatural. By him the significance of these organs is misunderstood, as indicated in the quotation from Goethe. Such a one might just as well oppose all education of man, for it also develops further the work of nature. And he would have to oppose especially operations upon those born blind. For almost the same thing happens to him who awakens his higher senses in himself as to the person born blind and operated upon. The world appears to him with new qualities, events, and facts, of which the physical senses reveal nothing to him. It is clear to him that through these higher organs he adds nothing arbitrarily to the reality, but that without them the essential part of this reality would have remained hidden from him. The soul and spirit worlds are nothing alongside or outside the physical world; they are not separated in space from it. Just as for persons born blind and operated upon, the previously dark world rays out light and colors, so the things which [93} previously were only corporal phenomena reveal their soul and spirit qualities to him who is, soul and spirit, awakened. In addition to this, however, this world then becomes filled with still other occurrences and beings that remain completely unknown to him whose soul and spirit senses are not awakened. The development of the soul and spirit senses will be spoken of in a more detailed way further on in this book. Here these higher worlds themselves will be described. Anyone who denies the existence of these worlds says nothing more than that he has not yet developed his higher organs. This is still the case with the greater part of mankind at the present stage of the world's evolution. But the evolution of man is not terminated at any one stage; it must always progress. What will be here called the soul world, is called in current theosophical literature the "astral," the spirit world is called in it the "mental" world.

One often involuntarily pictures the "higher organs" as too similar to the physical ones. One should understand quite clearly that in these organs one has to do with spiritual [94} or soul formations. One ought not to expect, therefore, that what one perceives in the higher worlds is only a vaporous, rarefied matter. So long as one expects something of this kind, one can come to no clear idea as to what is exactly meant by "higher worlds." For many persons it would not be at all as difficult as it actually is to know something about these higher worlds, the elementary part, that is to say, if they did not form the idea that what they are to see is again merely physical matter rarefied. Because they presuppose something of this kind they, as a rule, do not at all wish to acknowledge the reality of that which is the essential part. They look upon it as unreal, refuse to acknowledge it as something that satisfies them, and so on. The higher stages of spiritual development are certainly not easily accessible; but the lower, and that is already a great deal, would not be at all so difficult to reach if people would from the first free themselves from the prejudice which consists in picturing to themselves the soul and spiritual merely as a finer physical.

Just as we do not wholly know a man when [95} we have formed a picture of his physical exterior only, so also we do not know the world around us if we only know in it what the physical senses reveal to us. And just as a photograph becomes intelligible and living to us when we have become so intimately acquainted with the person photographed as to know his soul, so we can really understand the corporal world only if we learn to know its soul and spiritual basis. For this reason it is advisable to speak here, first about the higher, the soul and spirit worlds, and only then judge of the physical from the theosophical standpoint.

Certain difficulties are met with at this present stage of civilization by anyone speaking about the higher worlds. For this age is great above all things in the knowledge and conquest of the physical world. Our words have, in fact, received their stamp and significance through being applied to this physical world. Nevertheless we have to make use of these current words so as to form a link with something known. This opens the door to many misunderstandings on the part of those who wish to trust to their external senses [96} only. Much also can be expressed and indicated only by means of similes and resemblances. This must be so, for such similes are a means by which a man is at first directed to these higher worlds, and through which his own ascent to them is furthered. (This will become evident in a later chapter, in which the development of the soul and spiritual organs of perception will be spoken of. To begin with, one must gain knowledge of the higher worlds by means of similes. Only then is man ready to acquire for himself the power to see into them.)

As the matter and forces which compose and govern our stomach, our heart, our brain, our lungs, etc., come from the physical world, so do our soul qualities, our impulses, desires, feelings, passions, wishes, sensations, etc., come from the soul world. The soul of the human being is a member of this world, just as his body is part of the physical world of bodies. Should one wish to begin by pointing out a difference between the corporal and soul worlds, one would say that the latter is in all its objects and entities much finer, more mobile, and plastic than the [97} former. But it must be kept clearly in mind that on entering the soul world one enters a world entirely different from the physical. If, therefore, "coarser" and "finer" be spoken of in this respect, readers must be fully aware that one suggests by means of a comparison what is fundamentally different. It is the same with all that is said about the soul world in words borrowed from the world of physical corporality. Taking this into account, one can say that the formations and beings of the soul world consist in the same way of soul materials, and are directed in the same way by soul forces, as is the case in the physical world with physical materials and physical forces.

Just as spacial extension and spacial movement are peculiar to corporal formations, so are excitability and impelling desire peculiar to the things and beings of the soul world. For this reason one describes the soul world as the world of desires or wishes, or as the world of longing. These expressions are borrowed from the human soul world. One must therefore hold clearly in view that the things in those parts of the soul world which lie outside the human soul are just as different from [98} the soul forces within it as the physical matter and forces of the external corporal world are different from the parts which compose the physical human body. (Impulse, wish, longing are names for the material of the soul world. To this matter theosophical literature gives the name of "astral." If one wishes to refer specifically to the forces of the soul world, one speaks in Theosophy of "kama." But it must not be forgotten that the distinction between "matter" and "force" cannot be as sharply drawn as in the physical world. An instinct, an impulse, can be called "force" just as well as "matter.")

On him who obtains a view of the soul world for the first time, the differences between it and the physical have a bewildering effect. But that is also the case when a previously inactive physical sense is being opened. The man born blind, when operated upon, has first to learn to guide himself through the world which he has previously known only by means of the sense of touch. Such a one, for example, sees the objects at first in his own eyes, then he sees them outside himself, but at first they appear to him as if painted on a flat [99} surface. Only gradually does he grasp perspective and the spacial distance between things. In the soul world entirely different laws prevail from those in the physical. Now there are many soul formations bound to those of the other worlds. The soul of man, for instance, is bound to the human body and to the human spirit. The occurrences one can observe in it are therefore influenced at the same time by the bodily and the spiritual worlds. One has to take this into account in observing the soul world, and one must take care not to ascribe to a law of the soul world occurrences due to the influence of another world. When, for example, a man sends out a wish, it is produced by a thought, a conception of the spirit whose laws it accordingly follows. One can formulate the laws of the physical world while ignoring, for example, the influence of man on its occurrences, and the same thing is possible with regard to the soul world.

An important difference between soul and physical occurrences can be expressed by saying that the interaction in the former is much more inward than in the latter. In physical [100} space there reigns, for example, the law of "impact." When an ivory ball strikes another which is at rest, the latter moves in a direction which can be calculated from the motion and elasticity of the first. In the soul space the interaction of two forms which meet depends on their inner qualities. If they are in affinity they mutually interpenetrate each other and, as it were, grow together. They repel each other if their beings conflict. In physical space there are, for example, definite laws of vision. One sees distant objects perspectively diminishing. When one looks down an avenue, the distant trees appear, according to the laws of perspective, to stand at shorter distances from each other than the near ones. In the soul space, on the contrary, all objects near and far appear to the clairvoyant at those distances from each other which are due to their inner nature. This is naturally a source of the most varied mistakes for those who enter the soul world, and wish to become at home there by the help of the rules which they bring with them from the physical world.

One of the first things that a man must do in order to make his way about the soul world [101} is to realize that one distinguishes the various kinds of its forms in a similar manner to that in which one distinguishes solid, liquid, air, or gaseous bodies in the physical world. In order to be able to do that it is necessary to know the two basic forces which are the most important in it. They may be called sympathy and antipathy. The order to which a soul formation belongs is decided by the manner in which these basic forces work in it. The force with which one soul formation attracts others, seeks to fuse with them, to make its affinity with them effectual, must be designated as sympathy. Antipathy, on the other hand, is the force with which soul formations repel, exclude each other in the soul world, with which they assert their separate identity. The part played in the soul world by a soul formation depends upon the proportions in which these basic forces are present in it. One has to distinguish, in the first place, between three kinds of soul formations according to the manner in which sympathy and antipathy work in them. These kinds differ from each other in that sympathy and antipathy have in them definitely fixed mutual relationships. [102} In all three both basic forces are present. Let us take, to begin with, a formation of the first kind. It attracts other formations in its neighborhood by means of the sympathy ruling in it; but, besides this sympathy, there is at the same time present in it antipathy, through which it repels certain things in its surroundings. From the outside such a formation appears to be endowed with the forces of antipathy only. This, however, is not the case. There is sympathy and antipathy in it, but the latter predominates. It has the upper hand over the former. Such formations play a self-seeking rôle in the soul space. They repel much that is around them, and lovingly attract but little to themselves. They therefore move through the soul space as unchangeable forms. The force of sympathy which is in them appears greedy. This greed appears at the same time insatiable, as if it could not be satisfied, because the predominating antipathy repels so much of what approaches that no satisfaction is possible. (Here we have to do with what is described in theosophical literature as the lowest part of the astral world.) Should one wish to [103} compare this kind of soul formation with something in the physical world, one can say that it corresponds with the solid physical bodies. This region of soul matter may be called burning desire. The manner in which this Burning Desire is mingled in the souls of animals and men determines in them what one calls the lower sensual impulses, their dominating selfish instincts.

The second kind of soul formations is that in which the two basic forces preserve a balance, in which, accordingly, antipathy and sympathy act with equal strength. They approach other formations with a certain neutrality and act on them as if related, but without especially attracting or repelling. They, as it were, erect no solid barrier between themselves and their surroundings. They constantly allow other formations in their surroundings to act on them; one can therefore compare them with the liquids of the physical world. And there is nothing of greed in the way in which such formations attract others to themselves. The activity meant here is in process, for example, when the human soul receives the sensation of a certain color. [104} If I have the sensation of a red color, I receive to begin with a neutral excitation from my surroundings. Only when there is added to this excitation pleasure in the red color does another soul activity come into play. That which effects the neutral excitation is the action of soul formations standing in such mutual relationship that sympathy and antipathy preserve an equal balance. One will have to describe the soul matter which comes under observation here as perfectly plastic and flowing. Not self-seeking like the first does it move about the soul space, but in such a way that its being receives impressions from all directions, and that it shows itself to have affinity with much that approaches it. An expression that may be used to designate it is flowing excitability.

The third stage of soul formations is that in which sympathy has the upper hand over antipathy. Antipathy produces the self-seeking self-assertion; this, however, retires in face of the liking for the things in the surroundings. Let us picture such a formation within the soul space. It appears as the center point of an attracting sphere which spreads [105} over the objects in its surroundings. Such formations one must designate in a special sense as wish substance. This designation appears to be the right one, because the attraction so acts, even through the existing antipathy, as to bring the attracted objects within the soul formation's own sphere. The sympathy thus receives a tone of selfishness. This wish substance may be likened to the air or gaseous bodies of the physical world. As a gas strives to expand on all sides, so does the wish substance spread itself out in all directions.

Higher grades of soul substance render themselves distinguishable by the fact that in them one of the basic forces, namely antipathy, retires completely, and sympathy alone shows itself as the one really effective. Now this is able to make its power felt within the parts of soul formation itself. These parts mutually attract each other. The force of sympathy within a soul formation comes to expression in what one calls liking. And each lessening of this sympathy is disliking. Disliking is only a lessened liking, as cold is only a lessened warmth. Liking and disliking compose what lives in man as the world of emotions in [106} the narrow sense of the word. Feeling is the life and activity of the soul within itself. What one calls the comfort of the soul depends on the way in which the feelings of liking and disliking – attraction and repulsion – interact within the soul.

A still higher grade is occupied by those soul formations whose sympathy does not remain enclosed within the region of their own life. They differ from the three lower grades, as does in fact the fourth also, in that in them the force of sympathy has no antipathy opposing it to overcome. It is only through these higher orders of soul substance that the manifold variety of soul formations can unite and form a common soul world. In cases where antipathy comes into play, the soul formation strives toward another thing for sake of its own life, and in order to strengthen and enrich itself by means of the other. Where antipathy is silent the other thing is received as revelation, as information. This higher form of soul substance plays in the soul space a similar rôle to that played by light in physical space. It causes a soul formation to suck in, as it were, the being or essence of others for [107} their sakes; one could also say to let itself be rayed upon by them. Only by drawing upon these higher regions are the soul beings awakened to the true soul life. Their dull life in the darkness opens outward, and begins itself to shine and ray out into the soul space; the sluggish, dull movement of the inner life which wishes to shut itself off through antipathy when the substances of the lower regions only are present, becomes force and mobility which arises from within, and, streaming, pours itself outward. The Flowing Excitability of the second region is only effective when formations meet each other. Then, indeed, the one streams over into the other. But contact is here necessary. In the higher regions there prevails a free out-raying and out-pouring. (Rightly does one describe the essential nature of this region as an "out-raying," for the sympathy which is developed acts in such a way that one can use as symbol for it the expression taken from the action of light.) The soul pines from lack of the soul substances of the higher regions which give it life, as a plant degenerates in a dark cellar.

Soul Light, Active Soul Force and the [108} true Soul Life in the narrower sense belong to these regions, and thence pour themselves out to the soul beings.

One has therefore to distinguish between three lower and three higher regions of the soul world. These are linked by a fourth, so that there results the following division of the soul world:

1. Region of Burning Desire.

2.     "     "    Flowing Excitability.

3.     "     "    Wishes.

4.     "     "    Attraction and Repulsion.

5.     "     "    Soul Light.

6.     "     "    Active Soul Force.

7.     "     "    Soul Life.

Through the first three regions the soul formations receive their qualities according to the proportion of sympathy and antipathy in them; through the fourth region sympathy is prevailingly active within the soul formations themselves; through the three highest, the power of sympathy becomes ever more and more free; illumining and quickening, the soul substances of this region waft through the soul space, awakening that which, if left to itself, would lose itself in its own separate existence. [109} For the sake of clearness it is here emphasized, though it should be superfluous, that these seven divisions of the soul world do not represent regions separated from one another. Just as in the physical regions solid, liquid, and air or gaseous substances interpenetrate, so do Burning Desire, Flowing Excitability, and the forces of the World of Wishes in the soul world. And as in the physical world, warmth penetrates bodies and light illumines them, so is it the case in the soul world with desire and aversion, and with the Soul Light. Something similar takes place with regard to the Active Soul Force and the true Soul Life.

3.2. The Soul in the Soul World after Death

The soul is the connecting link between the spirit of man and his body. Its forces of sympathy and antipathy which, owing to their mutual relationship, bring about soul manifestations, such as desire, excitability, wish, liking, and aversion, etc., are not only active between soul formations and soul formations, but they manifest themselves also in relation to the beings of the other worlds, the physical [110} and the spiritual. While the soul lives in the body it participates to a certain extent in all that takes place in it. When the physical functions of the body proceed with regularity, there arise in the soul desire and comfort. If these functions are disturbed aversion and pain arise. And the soul has its share in the activities of the spirit also; one thought fills it with joy, another with repulsion; a correct judgment has the approval of the soul, a false one its disapproval. The stage of evolution of a man depends, in fact, on whether the inclinations of his soul move more in one direction or in another. A man is the more perfect the more his soul sympathizes with the manifestations of the spirit; he is the more imperfect the more the inclinations of his soul are satisfied by the functions of the body.

The spirit is the central point of man, the body the instrument by which the spirit observes and learns to understand the physical world and through it acts in it. But the soul is the intermediary between the two. Out of the physical impression which the vibrations of air make on the ear, it awakens the sensing of the sound; it produces the pleasure in this [111} tone. All this it communicates to the spirit, which thus attains to the understanding of the physical world. A thought which arises in the spirit is changed by the soul into the wish to realize it, and only through this can it become deed, with the help of the body as instrument. Now man can fulfill his destiny only by allowing his spirit to direct the course of all his activity. The soul can (of itself) direct its inclinations just as well to the physical as to the spiritual. It sends, as it were, its feelers down into the physical as well as up into the spiritual. By sinking them into the physical world its own being becomes penetrated and colored by the nature of the physical. But the spirit, because able to act in the physical world only through it as intermediary, receives also in this way the direction toward the physical. Its formations are drawn to the physical by the forces of the soul. Observe, for example, the undeveloped man. The inclinations of his soul cling to the functions of his body. He feels pleasure only in the impressions made by the physical world on his senses. His intellectual life also is thereby completely drawn down into this region. His [112} thoughts serve only to satisfy his demands on the physical life. The spiritual Self by living from incarnation to incarnation is intended to receive its direction ever increasingly out of the spiritual; its knowledge to be determined by the spirit of eternal Truth, its action by the eternal Goodness.

Death, when regarded as a fact in the physical world, signifies a change in the functions of the body. It ceases to be through its organization the instrument of the soul and the spirit. It shows itself henceforth to be entirely subject, as regards its functions, to the physical world and its laws. And it passes over into it in order to dissolve in it. Only these physical processes in the body can be observed after death by the physical senses. What happens then to soul and spirit escapes them. For even during life soul and spirit can be observed by the senses only in so far as they have external expressions in physical processes. After death this kind of expression is no longer possible. For this reason observation by means of the physical senses and science based on it, do not come under consideration in reference to the fate of the soul and spirit after death. Here [113} a higher knowledge steps in, based on observation of the events in the soul and spirit worlds.

After the spirit has released itself from the body it continues to be united with the soul. And as, during physical life, the body chains it to the physical world, the soul now chains it to the soul world. But it is not in this soul world that the spirit's true primordial being is to be found. The soul world is intended to serve merely as its connecting link with the scene of its actions, the physical world. In order to appear in a new incarnation with a more perfect form it must draw force and strength from the spiritual world. But through the soul it has become entangled in the physical world. It is bound to a soul being which is penetrated and colored by the nature of the physical, and through this it has itself acquired a tendency in this direction. After death the soul is no longer bound to the body, but only to the spirit. It lives now within soul surroundings. Only the forces of this soul world can therefore have an effect on it. And at first the spirit also is bound to this life of the soul in the soul world. It is bound to it in the [114} same way as it is bound to the body during physical incarnation. The time when the body is to die is determined by the laws of the body. Speaking generally, in fact, it must be said it is not that the soul and spirit forsake the body, but that the body is set free by them when its forces are no longer able to act after the manner of the human organization. The same relationship exists between soul and spirit. The soul sets the spirit free to pass into the higher, the spiritual world, when its forces are no longer able to function as after the manner of the human soul-organism. The spirit is set free the moment the soul has handed over to dissolution what it can only experience in the body, and retains only that which remains over, which can live on with the spirit. This retained extract, which, although experienced in the body, can, nevertheless as fruit, be stamped on the spirit, connects the soul with the spirit in the pure, spiritual world.

In order to learn the fate of the soul after death, therefore, one has to observe its process of dissolution. It had the task of giving the spirit its direction toward the [115} physical. The moment it has fulfilled this task the soul takes the direction to the spiritual. In fact, the nature of its task would cause it to be henceforth only spiritually active when the body falls away from it, that is, when it can no longer be a connecting link. And so it would be, had it not, owing to its life in the body, been influenced by it and in its inclinations attracted to it. Were it not for this coloring received through the body it would at once, on being disembodied, follow the laws of the spiritual soul world only, and manifest no further inclination to the sensible world. This is what would happen if a man on dying lost completely all interest in the earthly world, if all desires, wishes, etc., attaching to the existence he has left had been completely satisfied. To the extent to which this is not the case, the unsatisfied part of the soul persists in its longings for the physical.

To avoid confusion we must here carefully distinguish between what chains man to the world in such a way that it can be made good in any following incarnation, and that which chains him to one particular incarnation, that is, to the immediately preceding one. The [116} first is made good by means of the law of destiny or Karma; but the other can only be got rid of by the soul after death.

After death there follows, for the human spirit, a time during which the soul is shaking off its inclinations toward the physical existence, in order once more to follow the laws of the spiritual soul world only and set the spirit free. It is natural that this time will last the longer the more the soul was bound to the physical. It will be short in the case of a man who has clung little to the physical life, long, on the other hand, for one who has so completely bound up his interests with it that at death many desires, wishes, etc., still live in the soul.

The easiest way to gain an idea of the condition in which the soul lives during the time immediately after death is afforded by the following consideration. Let us take the somewhat crass example, the enjoyment of the bon vivant. His pleasure consists in the tickling of the palate by food. The pleasure is naturally not bodily, but belongs to the soul. The pleasure lives in the soul, as also does the desire for the pleasure. But for the [117} satisfaction of the desire the corresponding bodily organs, the palate, etc., are necessary. After death the soul has not immediately lost such a desire, but it no longer possesses the bodily organ which provides the means for satisfying the desire. For another reason, but one which acts in the same way only far more strongly, the man is now as if he were suffering burning thirst in a region in the length and breadth of which there is no water. The soul thus suffers burning pain from the deprivation of the pleasure because it has laid aside the bodily organ by which it can experience it. It is the same with all that the soul yearns for and that can only be satisfied through the bodily organs. This condition (of burning privation) lasts until the soul has learned not to long any more for that which can only be satisfied through the body. The time passed in this condition is usually called in Theosophy "Kamaloca" (region of desires, although it has of course nothing to do with a locality).

When the soul enters the soul world after death it becomes subject to the laws of that world. The laws act on it, and on their action [118} depends the manner in which its inclinations toward the physical are destroyed. The ways in which they act on it must differ according to the kinds of soul substances and soul forces in whose domain it is placed at the time. Each of these kinds will make its purifying, cleansing influence felt. The process which takes place here consists in the gradual conquering of all antipathy in the soul by the forces of sympathy, and in bringing this sympathy itself to its highest pitch. For through this highest degree of sympathy with the whole of the rest of the soul world, the soul will, as it were, merge into it, become one with it; then is it utterly emptied of its self-seeking; it ceases to exist as a being inclined to the physically sensible existence; the spirit is set free through it. The soul therefore purifies itself through all the regions of the soul world described above until, in the region of perfect sympathy, it becomes one with the whole soul world. That the spirit itself is in bondage until the last moment of the liberation of its soul is due to the fact that, through its life with it, it has developed a complete affinity. This relationship is much greater [119} than the one with the body. For the spirit is bound directly to the soul, but only indirectly through the soul to the body. The soul is, in fact, the spirit's own life. For this reason the spirit is not bound to the decaying body, though it is bound to the soul gradually freeing itself. On account of the immediate bond between the spirit and the soul, the spirit can feel free with the soul only when the latter has itself become one with the whole soul world.

In so far as the soul world is the abode of man immediately after death it is called "Kamaloca," the "Region of Desires." The different religious systems which have embodied in their doctrines a knowledge of these conditions know this "Region of Desires" by the name of "purgatory," "cleansing fire," and so on.

The lowest region of the soul world is that of Burning Desire. By it everything in the soul that has to do with the coarsest, lowest, selfish desires of the physical life is rooted out of the soul after death. For through such desires it is exposed to the effects of the forces of this soul region. The unsatisfied [120} desires which have remained from physical life furnish the points of attack. The sympathy of such souls extends only to what can nourish their selfish natures; it is greatly exceeded by the antipathy which floods everything else. Now the desires aim at physical enjoyments which cannot be satisfied in the soul world. The craving is intensified to its highest degree by this impossibility of satisfaction. But at the same time owing to this impossibility it is forced to die out gradually. The burning lusts gradually exhaust themselves, and the soul has learned by experience that the only means of preventing the suffering that must come from such longings lies in killing them out. During the physical life satisfaction is constantly being repeated. By this means the pain of the burning lusts is covered over by a kind of illusion. After death, in the "fire cleansing," the pain comes into evidence quite unveiled. The most fearful sufferings are laid bare. A dark, gloomy state is it in which the soul thus finds itself. Of course only those persons whose desires are directed during physical life to the coarsest things can fall into this condition. Natures [121} with few lusts go through it without noticing it, for they have no affinity with it. It must be stated that, in general, souls are the longer influenced by the Burning Desire the more closely they have become bound up with that fire during life, and the more they require on that account to be purified in it.

A second class of things in the soul world is of such a nature that sympathy and antipathy preserve an equal balance in them. In so far as a human soul is in a similar condition after death it will be influenced by these things for a time. The giving of oneself up entirely to the external glitter of life and to joy in the swiftly-succeeding impressions of the senses, brings about this condition. Many people live in it. They allow themselves to be influenced by each worthless trifle of everyday life; but, as their sympathy is attached to no one thing in particular, the influences quickly pass. Everything that does not belong to this region of empty nothings is repellent to such persons. If the soul experiences this condition after death without the presence of the physical objects which are necessary for its satisfaction, the condition [122} must needs die out ultimately. Naturally the privation which precedes its complete extinction in the soul is full of suffering. This state of suffering is the school for the destruction of the illusion in which such persons are completely wrapped up during physical life.

Thirdly there come under consideration in the soul world the things with predominating sympathy, those in whose natures wish predominates. The effects of their activity are experienced by souls that retain an atmosphere of wishes after death. These wishes also gradually die out on account of the impossibility of their being satisfied.

The region of Attraction and Repulsion which has been described above as the fourth, exposes the soul to special trials. As long as the soul dwells in the body it shares all that concerns it. The inner surge life of attraction and repulsion is bound up with the body. It causes the soul's feeling of well-being and comfort, dislike and discomfort. Man feels during his physical life that his body is himself, what one calls the feeling of self springs from this. And the more sensually inclined people are, the more does their [123} feeling of self take on this characteristic. After death the body, the object of this feeling of self, is lacking. On this account the soul, with which the feeling has remained, feels as if emptied out. A feeling as if it had lost itself befalls it. This continues until the soul has recognized that the true man does not lie in the physical. The operations of this fourth region on the soul accordingly destroy the illusion of the bodily self. The soul, at length, learns to stop feeling that this corporality is an essential reality. It is cured and purified of its attachment to embodiment. In this way it has conquered that which chains it strongly to the physical world, and can unfold fully the forces of sympathy which flow outward. It has, so to say, broken free from itself, and is ready to pour itself with full sympathy into the common soul world.

It should not pass unnoted that the torments of this region are suffered to an especial degree by suicides. They leave their physical body in an artificial way, while all the feelings connected with it remain unchanged. In the case of a natural death the decay of the body is accompanied by a [124} partial dying out of the feelings of attachment to it. In the case of suicides there are, in addition to the torment caused by the feeling of having been suddenly emptied out, the unsatisfied desires and wishes on account of which they have deprived themselves of their bodies.

The fifth stage of the soul world is that of Soul Light. In it sympathy with others has already reached a high degree of power. Souls are connected with it in so far as they have not during their physical lives entirely devoted themselves to satisfying lower necessities, but have had joy and pleasure in their surroundings. Enthusiasm for nature, for example, in so far as it has borne something of a sensuous character undergoes cleansing here. It is necessary, however, to distinguish clearly this kind of love of nature from that higher living in nature which is of the spiritual kind, and which seeks for the spirit that reveals itself in the things and events of nature. This kind of feeling for nature is one of the things that develop the spirit itself and establish something permanent in the spirit. But one must distinguish between this feeling [125} for nature and such pleasure in nature as is based on the senses. In regard to this the soul requires purification just as well as in regard to other inclinations based on the mere physical existence. Many people hold, as a kind of ideal, arrangements which minister to sensuous welfare, and a system of education which results above all in the production of sensuous comfort. One cannot say of them that they further only their selfish impulses, but their souls are, nevertheless, directed to the physical world, and must be cured of this by the prevailing force of sympathy in the fifth region of the soul world in which these external means of satisfaction are lacking. The soul here recognizes gradually that this sympathy must take other directions, and these are found in the outpouring of the soul into the soul region, which is brought about by sympathy with the soul surroundings. Those souls also that demand from their religious observances mainly an enhancement of their sensuous welfare, whether it be that their longing goes out to an earthly or a heavenly paradise, are purified here. They find this paradise in the "Soul-land," but only [126} for the purpose of seeing through its worthlessness. These are, of course, merely a few detached examples of purifications which take place in this fifth region. They could be multiplied indefinitely.

By means of the sixth region, that of Active Soul Force, the purification of souls thirsting for action takes place, souls whose activity does not bear an egotistical character, but springs, nevertheless, from the sensuous satisfaction it affords them. Such natures, viewed superficially, quite convey the impression of being idealists; they show themselves to be persons capable of self-sacrifice. In a deeper sense, however, the chief thing with them is the enhancement of a sensuous feeling of pleasure. Many artistic natures and such as give themselves up to scientific activity because it pleases them, belong to this class. What binds these people to the physical world is the belief that art and science exist for the sake of such pleasure. They have not yet learned to place these at the service of the world's evolution, and thereby to place themselves at its service.

The seventh region, that of the real Soul Life, [127} frees man of his last inclination to the sensibly physical world. Each preceding region divests the soul of whatever has affinity with it. What now still envelops the spirit is the belief that its activity should be entirely devoted to the physical world. There are individuals who, though highly gifted, do not think about much over and above the occurrences of the physical world. This belief can be called materialistic. It must be destroyed, and this is done in the seventh region. There these souls see that they have no objects for their materialistic thinking. Like ice in the sun this belief of the soul melts away. The soul being is now absorbed into its own world. The spirit, free from all fetters, rises to the regions where it lives in its own surroundings only. The soul has completed its previous earthly task, and after death any traces of this task that remained fettering the spirit have dissolved. By overcoming the last trace of the earth, the soul is itself given back to its elements.

One sees by this description that the experiences in the soul world, and also the conditions of the soul life after death, gain an ever [128} friendlier appearance the more a man has shaken off the low elements that adhere to him from his earthly union with the physical corporality. The soul will belong for a longer or shorter time to one or another region according to its physical life. 'Where the soul feels itself to be in affinity, there it remains until the affinity is extinguished. Where no relationship exists, it goes on its way untouched.

It was intended that only the fundamental characteristics of the soul world, and the outstanding features of the life of the soul in this world, should be described here. This applies also to the following descriptions of the spirit land. I would exceed the prescribed limits of this book were further characteristics of these higher worlds to be gone into. For the special relationships and the lapse of time, which are quite different there from those in the physical world, can only be spoken about intelligibly when one is prepared to deal with them in full detail. References of importance in this connection will be found in my "Outline of Occult Science" ("Geheimwissenschaft im Umriss," Altmann's Verlag, Leipsig). [129}

3.3. The Spirit Land

Before the spirit can be observed on its further pilgrimage the land which it enters must first be examined. It is the "World of the Spirit." (In theosophical literature this is called the "mental" world. Here, the expression "World of the Spirit" or "Spirit-land" will be used.) This world is so unlike the physical that all that is said about it will appear fantastic to him who is willing to trust his physical senses only. And what has already been said in regard to the world of the soul holds good here to a still higher degree; that is, that one has to use analogies in order to describe it. For our speech, which for the most part serves only for the realities of the senses, is not richly blessed with expressions for the "Spirit-land." It is therefore especially necessary here to ask the reader to understand much that is said as an indication only. For everything that is described here is so unlike the physical world that it can only in this way be depicted. The author is ever conscious of how little this account can really resemble the experiences of this region owing [130} to the imperfection of our speech, calculated, as it is, to be our medium of expression for the physical world.

It must above all things be emphasized that this world is woven out of the material of which human thought consists. But thought, as it lives in man, is only a shadow picture, a phantom of its true being. As the shadow of an object on the wall is related to the real object which throws this shadow, so is the thought that springs up in man related to the being in the spirit land which corresponds to this thought. Now when the spiritual sense of man is awakened he really perceives this thought-being just as the eye of the senses perceives the table or the chair. He goes about in a region of thought-beings. The corporeal eye perceives the lion, and the corporeal thinking thinks merely the thought "lion" as a phantom, a shadow picture. The spiritual eye sees in Spirit-land the thought "lion" as really and actually as the corporeal eye sees the physical lion. Here we may refer to the analogy already used regarding the soul land. Just as the surroundings of a man born blind and operated upon appear all at once with the new [131} qualities of color and light, so are the surroundings of the person who learns to use his spiritual eye seen to be filled with a new world, the world of living thoughts or spirit beings.

There are to be seen in this world, first, the spiritual archetypes of all things and beings which are present in the physical and in the soul world. Imagine the picture of a painter existing in the mind before it is painted. This gives an analogy to what is meant by the expression archetype. It does not concern us here that the painter has perhaps not had such an Archetype in his mind before he paints, and that it only gradually develops and becomes complete during the practical work. In the real "World of Spirit" there are such Archetypes for all things, and the physical things and beings are copies of these Archetypes. When any person who trusts only his outer senses denies this archetypal world, and holds Archetypes to be merely abstractions which the intellect, by comparing the objects of the senses, arrives at, it is quite to be understood; for such a one simply cannot see in this higher world; he [132} knows the thought world only in its shadowy abstractness. He does not know that the person with spiritual vision is as familiar with the spirit beings as he is with his dog or his cat, and that the archetypal world has a far more intense reality than the world of the physical senses.

The first look into this "Spirit-land" is still more bewildering than that into the soul world. For the Archetypes in their true form are very unlike their sensible copies. They are, however, just as unlike their shadows, the abstract thoughts. In the spiritual world all is in continuous, mobile activity, a ceaseless creating. A state of rest, a remaining in one place, such as one has in the physical world, does not exist here. For the Archetypes are creative beings. They are the master builders of all that comes into being in the physical world and the soul world. Their forms change rapidly; and in each Archetype lies the possibility of assuming myriads of specialized forms. They, as it were, let different shapes well up out of them, and scarcely is one produced than the Archetype prepares to pour forth the next one. The Archetypes are [133} related to each other in varying degrees of closeness. They do not work singly. The one requires the help of the other in its creating. Often innumerable Archetypes work together in order that this or that being in the soul or physical world may arise.

Besides what is to be perceived by "spiritual sight" in this "Spirit-land," there is something else experienced that is to be regarded as "spiritual hearing." As soon, that is to say, as the clairvoyant rises out of the soul world into the spirit world the Archetypes that are perceived become sounding as well. The observer feels as if he were in an ocean of tones. And in these tones, in these spiritual chimes, the Beings of the spirit world express themselves. The primordial laws of their existence express their mutual relationships and affinities in the intermingling of their sounds, their harmonies, melodies, and rhythms. What the intellect perceives in the physical world as law, as idea, reveals itself to the "spiritual ear" as a kind of music. (Hence the Pythagoreans called these perceptions of the spiritual world the "music of the spheres." To the possessor of the "spiritual ear" this "music of the [134} spheres" is not something merely figurative, allegorical, but a spiritual reality well known to him.) If one wishes to gain a conception of this "spiritual music" one has to lay aside all ideas of the music of the senses as perceived by the material ear. For it is here a matter of "spiritual perception" and therefore of a kind which must remain silent for the "ear of the senses." In the following descriptions of the "Spirit-land" reference to this "spiritual music" will for the sake of simplicity be omitted. One has only to form a mental picture in which everything described as "Type," as "shining with light," is at the same time sounding. Each color, each perception of light represents a spiritual tone, and every combination of colors corresponds with a harmony, a melody, etc. For one must hold clearly in mind that even where the sounding prevails, perception by means of the "spiritual eye" by no means ceases. The sounding is merely added to the shining. Where, therefore, Archetypes, the Primal Types, are spoken of in the following pages, the Primal Tones are to be thought of as also present.

Now it is necessary in the first place to [135} distinguish the different kinds of Archetypes. In the "Spirit-land" also one has to differentiate numerous grades or regions in order to steer one's way among them. Here also, as in the soul world, the different regions are not to be thought of as laid one above the other like strata, but mutually interpenetrating and suffusing each other. The first region contains the "Archetypes" of the physical world in so far as it is not endowed with life. The Archetypes of the minerals are to be found here – also those of the plants; but the latter only in so far as they are purely physical, that is, in so far as one does not take into account the life in them. In the same way one finds here the physical forms of the animals and of human beings. This does not exhaust all that is to be found in this region, but merely illustrates it by the readiest examples. This region forms the basic structure of the "Spirit-land." It can be likened to the solid land of our physical earth. It forms the continental masses of the "Spirit-land." Its relationship with the physical, corporal world can only be described by means of an illustration. One gains some idea of it in the following way. One has to [136} picture a limited space filled with physical bodies of the most varied kinds. Then think these bodies away and conceive in their place cavities in space having their forms. The intervening spaces, on the other hand, which were previously empty one must think of as filled with the most varied forms, having manifold relationships with the former bodies. This is somewhat like the appearance presented by the lowest region of the Archetypal world. In it the things and beings which become embodied in the physical world are present as "spacial cavities." And in the intervening spaces the mobile activity of the Archetypes (and the "spiritual music") plays out its course. During their formation into physical forms the spacial cavities become, as it were, filled up with physical matter. He who looks into space with both physical and spiritual eyes sees the physical bodies and, in between, the mobile activity of the creative Archetypes.

The second region of the "Spirit-land" contains the Archetypes of life. But this life forms here a perfect unity. It streams through the world of spirit like a fluid element, [137} as it were, like blood pulsating through all. It may be likened to the sea and the water systems of the physical earth. The manner in which it is distributed, however, is more like the distribution of blood in the animal body than that of the seas and rivers. One could describe this second stage of the "Spirit-land" as Flowing Life, formed of thought material. In this element are the creative Primal Forces producing everything that appears in the physical reality as living being. Here it is evident that all life is a unity, that the life in me is related to the life of all my fellow creatures.

The Archetypes of all soul formations must be designated as the third region of the "Spirit-land." Here one finds oneself in a much finer and rarer element than in the first two regions. To use a comparison, one can call it the air or atmosphere of the "Spirit-land." Everything that goes on in the souls of both the other worlds has here its spiritual counterpart. Here all feelings, sensations, instincts, passions, etc., are again present, but in a spiritual way. The atmospheric events in the air region correspond with the sorrows [138} and joys of the creatures in the other worlds. The longing of the human soul is here perceived as a gentle zephyr; an outbreak of passion is like a stormy blast. He who has the ability to perceive here notes the sigh of every creature should he direct his attention to it. One can, for example, observe at times something like a loud storm with flashing lightning and rolling thunder; and, if one investigates the matter, one finds that the passions of a battle waged on earth are expressed in such "spirit tempests."

The Archetypes of the fourth region are not immediately related to the other worlds. They are in certain respects Beings who govern the Archetypes of the three lower regions and render possible their working together. They are accordingly occupied with the ordering and grouping of these more subordinate Archetypes. From this region, therefore, a more comprehensive activity issues than from the lower ones.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh regions differ essentially from the preceding ones. For the Beings in them supply the Archetypes with the impulses to their activity. In [139} them one finds the creative forces of the Archetypes themselves. He who is able to rise to these regions makes acquaintance with the purposes which underlie our world. The Archetypes lie here, as yet, like living germ-points, ready to assume the most manifold forms of thought-beings. If these germ-points are guided into the lower regions they well out, as it were, and manifest themselves in the most varied shapes. (It is for this reason that in theosophical literature these three higher regions of the "Spirit-land" are called the Arupa, in contrast with the four lower, which are called the Rupa regions. Arupa means formless; Rupa, having form.) The ideas through which the human spirit manifests itself creatively in the physical world are the reflection, the shadow, of these Germ Thought-beings of the higher spiritual world. The observer with the spiritual ear who rises from the lower regions of the "Spirit-land" to these higher ones, becomes aware that sounds and tones are changed into a "spiritual language." He begins to perceive the "spiritual word" through which the things and beings do not now make known to him their [140} nature in music alone, but express it in "words." They say to him what one calls in "spirit science" their "eternal name."

One must picture to oneself that these Germ Thought-beings are of a composite nature. Out of the element of the thought world only the germ-sheath, as it were, is taken. And this surrounds the true Life kernel. With it we have reached the confines of the "three worlds." For the "kernel" has its origin in still higher worlds. When man was described above according to his components this "Life kernel" of the human being was mentioned, and its components were called "life spirit" and "spirit man." (Theosophical literature applies to these the names budhi and atma.) There are similar "Life kernels" for other Beings in the Cosmos. They originate in higher worlds and are placed in the three described, in order to accomplish their tasks in them.

The human spirit will now be followed on its further pilgrimage through the "Spirit-land" between two embodiments or incarnations. While doing this the relationships and [141} distinguishing characteristics of this "land" will once more come clearly into view.

3.4. The Spirit in Spirit-Land after Death

When the human spirit on its way between two incarnations has passed through this "world of souls" (Kamaloca), it enters the "Land of Spirits" to remain there until it is ripe for a new bodily existence. (The theosophical name for this region is "Devachan.") One can only understand the significance of this sojourn in "Spirit-land" when able to interpret in the right way the aim and end of the pilgrimage of man during his incarnations. While man is incarnated in the physical body he works and creates in the physical world. And he works and creates in it as a spiritual being. He imprints on the physical forms, on corporeal materials and forces, that which his spirit thinks out and develops. He has therefore, as a messenger of the spiritual world, to incorporate the spirit in the corporal world. Only by being embodied can a man work in the world of bodies. He must wrap physical matter around his spirit [142} so that, through the body, he can act on the other bodies around, and so that they can act on him. But what acts through this physical corporality of man is the spirit. From it flow the purposes, the direction its work is to take in the physical world. Now, as long as the spirit works in the physical body, it cannot as a spirit live in its true form. It can, as it were, only shine through the veil of the physical existence. For, as a matter of fact, the thought life of man really belongs to the spiritual world; and, as it appears in the physical existence, its true form is veiled. One can also say that the thought life of the physical man is a shadow, a reflection of the true, spiritual being to whom it belongs. Thus, during physical life, the spirit, through the physical body as an instrument, interacts with the earthly corporal world.

Now, although it is exactly in action on the physical corporal world that one of the tasks of the spirit of man lies as long as he is proceeding from incarnation to incarnation, it could not by any means carry out this task as it ought if it led an embodied existence only. For the purposes and goals of the earthly task are [143} just as little developed and gained within the earthly incarnation as the plan of a house comes into existence on the site on which the laborers work. Just as this plan is worked out in the offices of the architect, so are the aims and purposes of the earthly creative activities worked out and developed in the "Land of Spirits." The spirit of man has always to live again in this land between two incarnations in order to be able to equip himself with what he takes with him on leaving it and, armed with that, to approach the work in the physical life. As the architect without working with brick and mortar designs the plan of the house in his workroom in accordance with architectural and other rules, so has the architect of human creations, the spirit or Higher Self, to develop in the "Spirit-land" capacities and aims in accordance with the laws of this land, in order to bring them over into the physical world. Only if the human spirit sojourns over and over again in its own region will it be also able to bring the spirit, by means of the physical corporal instruments, into the earthly world.

On the physical scene of action man learns [144} to know the qualities and forces of the physical world. He gathers there during his creative activity experiences regarding the demands made by the physical world on any one wishing to work in it. He learns there to know, as it were, the qualities of the matter in which he wishes to embody his thoughts and ideas. The thoughts and ideas themselves he cannot extract from the matter, so that the physical world is both the scene of his creating and of his learning. What has been learned is then transmuted in the "Spirit-land" into living faculties of the spirit.

One can carry the above comparison further, in order to make the matter clearer. The architect designs the plan of the house. It is carried out. While this goes on he gains a number of the most varied experiences. All of these experiences enhance his capacities. When he designs his next plan all these experiences have an influence on it. And this plan, when compared to the first, is seen to be enriched with all that was learned through the first. It is the same with the successive human lives. In the interval between the incarnations the spirit lives in its own sphere. It [145} can give itself up entirely to the requirements of the spirit life; freed from the physical corporality, it develops in every direction. And it calls to its aid in this development the fruits of its experiences in former earthly careers. In this way its attention is always directed to the scene of its earthly tasks. And in this way it works continually at making the earth, its present field of action, more and more perfect. It works upon itself, so as to be able in each incarnation to carry out its service during its earthly pilgrimage more and more perfectly.

This is of course only a general outline of the successive human lives. The reality will never be quite the same, but will only more or less correspond with it. Circumstances may bring it about that a subsequent life of a man is much less perfect than a previous one. But taken as a whole such irregularities equalize themselves in a natural manner during the course of the succession of lives.

The development of the spirit in "Spirit-land" takes place through the man's throwing himself completely into the life of the [146} different regions of this land. His own life, as it were, dissolves into each region successively; he takes on, for the time being, their characteristics. Through this they penetrate his being with theirs, in order that his may be able to work, strengthened by theirs, in his earthly life.

In the first region of the "Spirit-land" man is surrounded with the spiritual Archetypes of the earthly things. During life on earth he learns to know only the shadows of these Archetypes which he grasps in his thoughts. What is merely thought on earth is in this region experienced, lived. Man moves among thoughts; but these thoughts are real beings. What he has perceived with his senses during life on earth acts on him now in its thought form. But the thought does not appear as the shadow which hides itself behind the things; it is on the contrary the life-filled reality producing the things. Man is, as it were, in the thought workshop in which the earthly things are formed and constructed. For in the "Land of Spirits" all is vital activity and mobility. Here, the thought world is at work as a world of living beings, creative and constructive. [147} One sees how that which one has experienced during the earthly existence is constructed. Just as in the physical body one experiences the things of the senses as reality, so now as spirit one experiences the spiritual constructive forces as real. Among the thought-beings to be found there is also the thought of one's own physical corporality. One feels separated from this. One feels only the spiritual being as belonging to oneself. And when we no longer regard the body as physical but as thought-being, there already enters into our view of it its relation to the external world. We learn to look at it as something belonging to the external world, a member of this external world. We consequently no longer separate our own corporality from the rest of the external world as something more nearly related to ourselves. We feel the unity in the whole external world including our own bodily incarnations. Our own embodiments dissolve here into a unity with the rest of the world. Thus we here look upon the Archetypes of the physical corporal reality as a unity, to which we ourselves belong. We learn therefore gradually to [148} know our relationship, our unity with the surrounding world by observation. We learn to say to it, "That which is here spread out around thee, thou art that thyself." And that is one of the fundamental thoughts in the ancient Indian Vedanta Wisdom. The "sage" accustoms himself to do, even during his earth life, what others experience after death; namely, to grasp the thought that he himself is related to all things, the thought "Thou art that." During the physical life this is an ideal to which the thought life can be devoted; in the "Land of Spirits" it is a plain fact, one which grows ever clearer to us through spiritual experience. And the man himself comes to know ever more and more clearly in this land that he in his own inner being belongs to the spirit world. He perceives himself to be a spirit among spirits, a member of the Primordial Spirit, and he will feel concerning himself, "I am the Primal Spirit." (The Wisdom of the Vedanta says "I am Brahman," i.e., I belong as a member to the Primordial Being, in Whom all beings have their origin.) One sees that what is grasped during earthly life as a shadowy [149} thought and toward which all wisdom strives, is in the "Spirit-land" an immediate experience. Indeed, it is only thought during the earth life because it is a fact in the spiritual existence.

Thus man during his spiritual existence sees the relationships and facts in the midst of which he stands during his earthly career from a high watch tower, as if from outside. And during his life in the lowest regions of "Spirit-land" he has this attitude toward the earthly relationships immediately connected with the physical corporal reality. On earth man is born into a family, a race; he lives in a certain country. His earthly existence is determined by all these relationships. He finds this or that friend because relationships in the physical world bring it about. He carries on this or that business. All this decides the conditions of his earthly life. All this presents itself to him during his life in the first region of "Spirit-land" as living thought being. He lives it all through again in a certain way. But he lives it through from the active spiritual side. The family love he has extended, the friendship he has offered, are [150} made living from within, made to spring from inner sources, and his capacities in this direction are enhanced. The force in the spirit of man which acts as the power of love of family and friend is strengthened. He enters his earthly existence later a more perfect man in these respects. It is to a certain extent the everyday relationships of the earth life which ripen as the fruitage of this lowest region of the "Spirit-land." And those persons whose interests are wholly absorbed by these everyday relationships will feel themselves in affinity with this region for the greater part of their spiritual life between two incarnations.

The next region is that in which the common life of the earth world flows as Thought-being, as the fluid element, so to speak, of the "Spirit-land." So long as we observe the world during physical embodiment life appears to us to be confined within separate living beings. In "Spirit-land" it is loosed from them and, like life blood, flows as it were through the whole land. It is there the living Unity which is present in everything. Of this also only a reflection appears to us during the earthly life. And this reflection expresses [151} itself in every form of reverence we pay to the Whole, to the Unity and Harmony of the universe. The religious life of man is derived from this reflection. Man becomes sensible of the fact that the significance of existence does not lie in what is transitory and separate. He regards the transitory as a "similitude," a likeness of an Eternal, of a harmonious Unity. He looks up to this Unity in reverence and worship. He offers up before it religious rites and ceremonies. In "Spirit-land" appears, not the reflection, but the real form, as living Thought-being. Here man can really unite himself with the Unity that he has reverenced on earth. The fruitage of the religious life and all connected with it appears in this region. Man now learns through spiritual experience to recognize that his individual fate is not to be separated from the community to which he belongs. The capacity to know oneself as a member of a whole develops itself here. Religious natures, and such as have already during life striven after a pure and noble morality, will draw strength out of this region during a great part of their spiritual life between incarnations. [152} And they will reincarnate with heightened capacities in this direction.

The third region of "Spirit-land" contains the Archetypes of the soul world. All that lives in this world is present as living thought-being. One finds in it the Archetypes of desires, wishes, feelings, etc. But here, in the spirit world, nothing of self-seeking attaches itself to the soul. Like all life in the second region, in this third region all longings, wishes, all likes and dislikes, form a unity. The desires and wishes of others are not separable from my desires and wishes. The sensations and feelings of all beings are a common world enclosing and surrounding everything else, just as our physical atmosphere surrounds the earth. This region is, as it were, the atmosphere or air of the "Spirit-land." All that a person has carried out in his life on earth in the service of the community, in selfless devotion to his fellowmen, will bear fruit here. For through this service, through this self-giving, he has lived in a reflection of the third region of the "Spirit-land." The great benefactors of the human race, the philanthropists who render great services to communities, [153} have gained their ability to render them in this region, after having made themselves worthy of a special relationship with it during their previous earthly careers.

It is evident that the three regions of "Spirit-land" above described have a certain connection with those below them, the physical and the soul worlds. For they contain the Archetypes, the living Thought-beings that take up their corporal and soul existence in these worlds. Only the fourth region is the "pure Spirit-land." But even it is not that in the fullest sense of the word. It differs from the three lower regions owing to the fact that in them we meet with the Archetypes of those physical and soul relations which man finds existing in the physical and soul worlds before he himself begins to take any part in them. The circumstances of the ordinary everyday life link themselves with things and beings which man finds already present in the world: the transitory things of this world direct his gaze to their eternal primal foundation; nor do the fellow creatures of man to whom he selflessly devotes himself owe their existence to him. But it is through him that there are [154} in the world all the creations of the arts, sciences, engineering, states, governments, etc.; in short all that he has embodied in the world as original works of his spirit. Without his coöperation none of the physical reproductions of all these would be in the world. The Archetypes of these purely human creations are in the fourth region of the "Spirit-land." What man during the earthly life develops in the way of scientific discoveries, of artistic ideas and forms, of technical conceptions, bears fruit in this fourth region. It is out of this region, therefore, that artists, scientists, great inventors, draw nourishment during their stay in "Spirit-land" and increase their genius, in order, during another incarnation, to be able to assist with greater weight the further evolution of human progress. It has been said above that even this region cannot be called the "pure Spirit-land" in the full sense of the word. This is because the stage at which men have left civilization on earth continues to influence their spiritual existence. They can enjoy in "Spirit-land" only the fruits of that which it was possible for them to carry out in accordance with their gifts and the stage of [155} development of the race, state, etc., into which they were born.

In the still higher regions of the "Spirit-land" the human spirit is freed from every earthly fetter. It rises to the "pure Spirit-land" in which it experiences the intentions, the aims, which the spirit set itself to accomplish by means of the earthly life. All that has been realized in the world brings into earthly existence only a more or less weak copy of the highest intentions and aims. Each crystal, each tree, each animal, and all that is being realized in the domain of human creations, all this only gives of that which the spirit intends. And man, during his incarnations, can only set to work with these imperfect copies of the perfect intentions and aims. Thus during one of his incarnations he himself can only be a copy of that which, in the kingdom of the spirit, he is intended to be. What he as spirit in "Spirit-land" really is comes therefore into view only when he rises in the interval between two incarnations, to the fifth region of "Spirit-land." What he is here is really he himself, that which receives an external existence in the numerous [156} and varied incarnations. In this region the true Self of man can freely live its true life and expand in all directions. And this Self is that which appears ever anew in each incarnation as the one. This Self brings with it the faculties which have developed in the lower regions of the "Spirit-land." It carries, consequently, the fruits of former lives over into those following. It is the bearer of the results of former incarnations. Therefore one can call it the "Bearer of Causes." (In theosophical literature it is for this reason called the "Causal Body.")

When the Self lives in the fifth region of the "Spirit-land" it is accordingly in the kingdom of intentions and aims. As the architect learns from the imperfections which show themselves in his work, and as he only brings into his new plans what he was able to change from imperfections to perfections, so the Self, in the fifth region, shakes off the results of its experiences in former lives related to the imperfections of the lower worlds, and fructifies the purposes of the "Spirit-land" – purposes with which it now lives – with the perfect results of its [157} former lives. It is clear that the force which can be drawn from this region will depend upon how much the Self, during its incarnation, has acquired in the form of results suited to being received into the world of Purposes. The self that has sought to realize the purposes of the spirit during the earthly life through an active thought life or through wise love expressed in deeds, will establish a strong claim to this region. The self that has expended itself entirely on the events of the everyday life, that has lived only in the transitory, has sown no seeds that can play a part in the purposes of the eternal World Order. Only that small portion of the activities of the self which had extended beyond the interests of everyday life can unfold as fruitage in this higher region of the "Spirit-land." In general it will hold good that a man's affinity with this region will be the greater the more developed he is. Since a man in this region lives in his own true Self, he is raised above everything that, as a part of the lower worlds, envelops him during his incarnations. He is what he ever was and ever will be during the course of his incarnations. He lives in the [158} governing power of the Purposes which prevail during these incarnations, and which he grafts into his own Self. He looks back on his own past, and feels that all that he has experienced in it will be brought into service in the purposes he has to bring to realization in the future. A kind of remembrance of his earlier lives and the prophetic vision of his future ones flash forth. We see, therefore, that what in this book (pp. 46 et seq.) is called "spirit self" lives in this region, as far as it is developed, in that measure of reality with which it is able to unite itself; it develops itself still further and prepares itself to make possible in a new incarnation the fulfillment of the spiritual purposes in the region of earthly reality.

If this "spirit self" has evolved so far during a succession of sojourns in "Spirit-land" that he can move about quite freely in this land, he will evermore seek his true home in it. Life in the spirit will be as familiar to him as life in the physical reality is to the earthly man. The viewpoints of the spirit world can from now on be the only ones which he makes his own during his succeeding earth lives. Such [159} a Self feels himself uninterruptedly to be a member of the divine World Order. The limitations and laws of the earthly life affect him in his innermost being no more. Power for all that he carries out comes to him from this spiritual world. But the spiritual world is a Unity. He who lives in it knows how the Eternal has produced the past, and he can, from out the Eternal, discern which direction the future is to take. The view over the past widens into a perfect one. A man who has reached this stage sets before himself the aims which he should carry out in the approaching incarnation. From out the "Spirit-land" he influences his future so that it runs its course in harmony with the true and the spiritual. Such a man during the stages between two incarnations is in the presence of all those exalted Beings before whose gaze the Divine Wisdom lies spread out unveiled. For he has climbed up to the stage at which he can understand them. And, should he return to the earth, he acts in harmony with them. His word is itself a reflection of divine revelation and his deed a link in the divine World Order.

Only he who during an earth life has freed [160} himself to a high degree from the transient trifles and the worthless turmoil of existence can hope that he shall rise in "Spirit-land" into the sixth region, through which he shall receive a "divine mission" for a coming earth life. Through this divine mission he becomes "a stranger on this earth" only in so far as he himself in his innermost being is not moved by inclinations and disinclinations springing from the transitory nature of things, but allows himself to be guided by what the spirit recognizes as necessary. Because he does this, he will accomplish through all his actions that which is most in conformity with the True Being of the Universe. For he has reached the point of seeking not that which will be of use to him but only and entirely that which ought to take place; that which is in accordance with the true progress of the World Order. His interest in the world, his devotion to it, are the greater the less he himself is attached through his sympathies and antipathies to transient matters. His understanding of all that goes on around him will be great because his soul observes all without desires and in quiet composedness. [161} The seventh region of the "Spirit-land" brings one to the confines of the "three worlds." The man who can feel himself attracted to it stands here in the presence of the "Life kernels" which are transplanted from the higher worlds into the three which have been described, in order that in them they may fulfill their missions. When a man therefore is on the confines of the three worlds he recognizes himself in his own Life kernel. This implies that for him the problems of these three worlds have been solved. He has a complete view of the entire life of these worlds. He has solved the great "Why" of existence. (The great guides of the human race who will be spoken of in the chapter on "The Path of Knowledge" are recognized by means of forces originating in this region of the "Spirit-land.")

3.5. The Physical World and Its Connection with the Soul and Spirit Lands

The formations of the Soul World and the "Spirit-land" cannot be the objects of external sense perception. The objects of this perception [162} are to be added to the two already described as a third world. Man lives during his bodily existence simultaneously in the three worlds. He perceives the things of the sensible world and acts upon them. The formations of the soul world act on him through their forces of sympathy and antipathy; and his own soul excites waves in the soul world by its inclinations and disinclinations, its wishes and desires. The spiritual being of things, on the other hand, mirrors itself in his thought world and he himself is, as thinking spirit being, citizen of the "Spirit-land" and participant of all that lives in this region of the universe. This makes it clear that the sensible world is only a part of that which surrounds man. This part stands out from the general surroundings of man with a certain independence because it can be perceived by senses which leave disregarded the soul and spiritual parts which belong just as much to the surrounding world. Even as a piece of ice floating on the water is of the same matter as the surrounding water but stands out from it owing to particular qualities, so are the things of the senses matter of the surrounding soul and spirit [163} worlds; and they stand out from these owing to particular qualities which make them perceptible to the senses. They are, to speak half metaphorically, condensed spirit and soul formations; and the condensation makes it possible for the senses to acquire knowledge of them. In fact, as ice is only a form in which the water exists, so are the objects of the senses only a form in which soul and spirit beings exist. If one has grasped this, one can also understand that as water can pass over into ice, so the spirit world can pass over into the soul world, and the latter into that of the senses. Looking at the matter from this point of view leads us to the reason why man can form thoughts about the things of the senses. For there is a question which everyone who thinks would have to ask himself, namely, in what relation does the thought which a man has about a stone stand to the stone itself? This question rises in full clearness in the minds of those persons who look especially deeply into external nature. They feel the consonance of the human thought world with the structure and order of nature. The great astronomer Kepler, for example, speaks in a beautiful [164} way about this harmony, "True it is that the divine call which bids man study astronomy is written in the world, not indeed in words and syllables, but in the very fact that human conceptions and senses are fitted to gauge the relationships of the heavenly bodies and their conditions." Only because the things of the sensible world are nothing else than condensed spirit beings is the man who raises himself through his thought to these spirit beings able by thinking to understand the things. Sense objects originate in the spirit world; they are only another form of the spirit beings. And when man forms thoughts about things he merely looks up from the sensible form to the spiritual Archetypes of the things. To understand an object by means of thought is a process which can be likened to that by which a solid body is first liquefied by fire in order that the chemist may be able to examine it in its liquid form.

The spiritual Archetypes of the sensible world are to be found (pp. 131 et seq.) in the different regions of the "Spirit-land." In the fifth, sixth, and seventh regions these Archetypes remain in the condition of living Germ [165} points; in the four lower regions they shape themselves into spiritual formations. The human spirit perceives a shadowy reflection of these spiritual formations when, by thinking, he tries to gain understanding of the things of the senses. How these formations have condensed until they form the sensible world is a question for him who strives toward a spiritual understanding of the world around him. For human sense perception this surrounding world is divided into four distinctly separated stages, the mineral, the plant, the animal, and the human.

The mineral kingdom is perceived by the senses and comprehended by thought. Thus when one forms a thought about a mineral body one has to do with two things, the sense object and the thought. In accordance with this, one is brought to the conception that this sense object is a condensed thought being. Now one mineral being acts on another in an external way. It impinges on it and moves it; it warms it, lights it up, dissolves it, etc. This external kind of action can be expressed through thoughts. A man forms thoughts as to the way in which mineral things act on each [166} other externally and in accordance with their laws. By this means his separate thoughts expand to a thought picture of the whole mineral world. And this thought picture is a gleam, a reflection of the Archetype of the whole mineral world of the senses. It is to be found as a complete whole in the spirit world.

In the plant kingdom there is added to the external action of one thing on another, the phenomena of growth and propagation. The plant grows and brings forth from itself beings like itself. Life is here added to what man meets with in the mineral kingdom. A simple recollection of this fact leads to an expression which is enlightening in this connection. The plant has in itself the power to give itself its living shape, and to reproduce this shape in a being of its own kind. And in between the shapeless kinds of mineral matter, as we meet them in gases, liquids, etc., and the living shape of the plant world, stand the forms of the crystal. In the crystal we have the transition from the shapeless mineral world to the plant kingdom, which has the capacity for forming living shapes. In this externally [167} sensible formative process in both kingdoms, the mineral and the plant, one sees condensed to its sensible expression the purely spiritual process which takes place when the spiritual Germs of the higher regions of the "Spirit-land" form themselves into the spirit shapes of the lower regions. The process of crystallization corresponds to its Archetype in the spirit world, the transition from the formless spirit Germ to the shaped formation. If this transition condenses so that the senses can perceive it, it exhibits itself in the world of the senses as the process of crystallization.

Now there is in the plant being a shaped spirit Germ also. But here the living, shaping capacity is still retained in the shaped being. In the crystal the spirit Germ has lost its constructing power during the process of shaping. It has exhausted its energies in the shape produced. The plant has shape and, in addition to that, it has the capacity of producing a shape. The characteristic of the spirit Germs in the higher regions of the "Spirit-land" has been preserved in the plant life. The plant is therefore shape, as is the crystal, and, added to that, shaping or formative force. [168} Besides the form which the Primal Beings have taken in the plant shape there works at the latter yet another form which bears the impress of the spirit being of the higher regions. Only that which expends itself on the produced shape of the plant is sensibly perceptible; the formative Beings who give life to this shape are present in the plant kingdom in a way not perceptible to the senses. The physical eye sees the lily small today, and after some time grown larger. The forming force which elaborates the latter out of the former cannot be seen by this eye. This formative Force Being is that part of the plant world which acts imperceptibly to the senses. The spirit Germs have descended a stage in order to work in the kingdom of shapes. In Theosophy, Elementary Kingdoms are spoken of. If one designate the Primal Forms, which as yet have no shape, as the First Elementary Kingdom, then the sensibly invisible Force Beings, who work as the craftsmen of plant growth, belong to the Second Elementary Kingdom.

In the animal world sensation and impulse are added to the capacities for growth and [169} propagation. These are externalizations of the soul world. A being endowed with these belongs to the soul world, receives impressions from it and reacts on it. Every sensation, every impulse, which arises in an animal is brought forth from the foundations of the animal soul. The shape is more enduring than the feeling or impulse. One may say the sensation life bears the same relation to the more enduring living shape that the self-changing plant shape bears to the rigid crystal. The plant to a certain extent exhausts itself as the shape-forming force; during its life it goes on constantly adding new shapes to itself. First it sends out the root, then the leaf structure, then the flowers, etc. The animal possesses a shape complete in itself and develops within this the ever-changing life of feeling and impulses. And this life has its existence in the soul world. Just as the plant is that which grows and propagates itself, the animal is that which feels and develops its impulses. They constitute for the animal the formless which is always developing into new forms. Their Archetypal processes when traced to their primal source are found in the highest regions of [170} "Spirit-land." But they carry out their activities in the soul world. There are thus in the animal world, in addition to the Force Beings who, invisible to the senses, direct growth and propagation, others that have descended into the soul world, a stage still deeper. In the animal kingdom formless Beings, who clothe themselves in soul sheaths, are present as the master builders, bringing about sensations and impulses. They are the real architects of the animal forms. In theosophy one calls the region to which they belong the Third Elementary Kingdom.

Man, in addition to having the capacities named as those of plants and animals, is furnished also with the power of working up his sensations into ideas and thoughts and of controlling his impulses by thinking. The thought which appears in the plant as shape and in the animal as soul force makes its appearance in him in its own form as thought itself. The animal is soul; man is spirit. The Spirit Being, which in the animal is engaged in soul development, has now descended a stage deeper still. In man it has entered into the world of sensible matter itself. The spirit [171} is present within the human sensible body. And because it appears in a sensible garment, it can appear only as that shadowy gleam or reflection which the thought of the Spirit Being affords. The spirit manifests in man through the apparatus of the physical brain mechanism. But at the same time it has become the inner being of man. The animal feels and moves as it chooses, but exhibits no thoughts. Thought is the form which the formless Spirit Being assumes in man just as it is shape in the plant and soul in the animal. Consequently man, in so far as he is a thinking being, has no Elementary Kingdom constructing him from without. His Elementary Kingdom works in his physical body. Only in so far as man is shape and sentient being, do Elementary Beings work at him in the same way as they work at plants and animals. The thought organism of man is developed entirely from within his physical body. In the spirit organism of man, in his nervous system which has developed into the perfect brain, we have sensibly visible before us that which works on plants and animals as supersensible Force Being. This brings about the fact that the [172} animal shows feeling of self, but man consciousness of self. In the animal, spirit feels itself to be soul; it does not yet comprehend itself as spirit. In man the spirit recognizes itself as spirit, although, owing to the physical apparatus, merely as a shadowy gleam or reflection of the spirit, as thought.

Accordingly, the threefold world falls into the following divisions: 1. The Kingdom of the Archetypal formless Beings (First Elementary Kingdom); 2. The Kingdom of the Shape-creating Beings (Second Elementary Kingdom); 3. The Kingdom of the Soul Beings (Third Elementary Kingdom); 4. The Kingdom of the Created Shapes (crystal forms); 5. The Kingdom that becomes perceptible to the senses in shapes, but in which the Shape-creating Beings are working (Plant Kingdom); 6. The Kingdom which becomes sensibly perceptible in shapes, on which work the Shape-creating Beings, and also the Beings that expend all their activities in the soul life (Animal Kingdom); 7. The Kingdom which becomes sensibly perceptible in shapes on which work the Shape-creating Beings and also the Beings that expend all their activities [173} in soul life, and in which the spirit itself takes shape in the form of thought within the world of the senses (Human Kingdom).

From this can be seen how the basic constituents of the human being living in the body are connected with the spiritual world. The physical body, the ether body, the sentient soul body, and the intellectual soul, are to be regarded as Archetypes of the "Spirit-land" condensed in the sensible world. The physical body comes into existence in that the Archetype of man is so condensed that it can manifest itself to the senses. For this reason one can call this physical body also a Being of the First Elementary Kingdom, condensed to sensible perceptibility. The ether-body comes into existence in that the shape that has arisen in this way has its mobility retained by a Being that extends its activity into the kingdom of the senses but is not itself visible to the senses. If one wishes to characterize this Being fully, one must say it has its primal origin in the highest regions of the "Spirit-land" and then shapes itself in the second region into an Archetype of life. It works in the sensible world as such an Archetype of life. In a similar [174} way the Being that constructs the sentient soul-body has its origin in the highest regions of the "Spirit-land," forms itself in the third region of the same into the Archetype of the soul world and works as such in the sensible world. But the intellectual soul is formed in that the Archetype of thinking man shapes itself in the fourth region of the "Spirit-land" into thought, and as such acts directly as thinking human being in the world of the senses. Thus man stands within the world of the senses; thus works the spirit on his physical-body, on his ether-body, and on his sentient soul-body. Thus comes this spirit into manifestation in the intellectual soul. Archetypes in the form of Beings who in a certain sense are external to man work upon the three lower components of his being; in his intellectual soul he himself becomes a (conscious) worker on himself. The Beings working on his physical-body are the same as those who form the mineral nature. On his ether-body work Beings living in the plant kingdom, on his sentient soul-body work Beings who live in the animal kingdom imperceptible by the [175} senses, but who extend their activity into these kingdoms.

Thus do the different worlds combine in action. The universe in which man lives is the expression of this combined activity.

When a person has thoroughly grasped this view of the sensible world he gains also an understanding of Beings of another kind than those that have their existence in the above mentioned four kingdoms of nature. One example of such Beings is what one calls the Folk Spirit, or National Spirit. This Being does not manifest himself directly in a sensibly perceptible way. He lives and carries on his activities entirely in the sensations, feelings, tendencies, etc., which one observes as those common to a whole nation. He is therefore a Being that does not incarnate physically, but forms his body out of the matter of the soul world, even as man forms his body out of sensibly visible matter. This soul body of the National Spirit is like a cloud in which the members of a nation live. The effects of his activity come into evidence in the souls of the human beings concerned, but he does not originate in these souls themselves. The National [176} Spirit remains merely a shadowy conception of the mind without being or life, an empty abstraction, to him who does not picture it in this way. And the same may be said in reference to what one calls the Spirit of the Age (Zeitgeist). The spiritual outlook, in fact, is through this, extended over a variety of other beings, both lower and higher, who live in the environment of man without his being able to perceive them with his bodily senses. But those who have powers of spiritual sight perceive such beings and can describe them. To the lower kinds belong those designated by the spiritual investigator, as salamanders, sylphs, undines, and gnomes. It is quite to be understood that anyone who is inclined to admit the validity of physical vision only, regards such beings as the offspring of a wild hallucination and superstition. They can of course never become visible to the physical eye for they have no physical bodies. The superstition does not consist in regarding such beings as real, but in believing that they appear in a way perceptible to the physical senses. Beings with such forms coöperate in the building of the world, and one comes into connection with [177} them as soon as one enters the higher regions closed to the bodily senses. Mention must also be made of those beings who do not descend to the soul world, but whose vestment is composed of the formations of the "Spirit-land" alone. Man perceives them and becomes their companion when he opens his spiritual eye and spiritual ear to them. Many things at which without these organs man can only gaze uncomprehendingly, become, when he has brought them into use, understandable to him. It becomes bright around him, he sees the Primal Causes of that which is working itself out as effects in the world of the senses. He comprehends what he either denied entirely when he had no spiritual eye, or in reference to which he had to content himself with saying, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in thy philosophy." People with fine – with spiritual – feelings become uneasy when they begin to have a glimmering, become vaguely aware of another world than the sensible one around them, and one within which they have to grope about as the blind grope among visible objects. Nothing but the clear [178} vision of these higher regions of existence and a thorough understanding and penetration of what takes place in them can really fortify a man and lead him to his proper goal. Only through insight into that which is hidden from the senses does the human being understand the world and himself.

3.6. Thought-Forms and the Human Aura

It has become evident that the formations of any one of the three worlds can have reality for a man only when he has the capacities or the organs for perceiving them. A man perceives certain occurrences in space as light phenomena only because he has a correctly-constructed eye. It depends on the receptivity of a being how much of what really is, reveals itself to it. Never therefore may a man say that only what he can perceive is real. There can be much that is real, for the perception of which he has no organs. Now the soul world and the spirit world are just as real as the sensible world, indeed they are real in a much higher sense. No physical eye can see feelings and ideas; but they are real. And as man [179} by means of his outer senses has the corporal world before him as an object of perception, so do feelings, impulses, instincts, thoughts, etc., become objects of perception for his spiritual senses. Exactly as occurrences in space can be seen with the sensible eye as color phenomena, the above-named soul and spiritual occurrences can become, by means of the inner senses, perceptions which are analogous to the sensible color phenomena. To understand perfectly in what way this is meant is only possible for one who has trod the path of knowledge described in the following chapter and has thereby developed his inner senses. For such a one the soul phenomena in the soul region around him and the spiritual phenomena in the spiritual region become super-sensibly visible. For him, feelings ray out from the feeling being as light phenomena; thoughts surge through the spiritual space. For him, the thought of one man about another is not something imperceptible but a perceptible occurrence. The thought streams out as an actual reality from one human being and flows to the other. And the way in which this thought acts on the other person becomes [180} similarly a perceptible occurrence in the spiritual world. Thus the physically perceptible human being is only part of the whole man for him whose spiritual senses are unfolded. This physical man becomes the center of soul and spiritual outpourings. It is impossible to do more than faintly indicate the richly varied world which discloses itself here to the seer. A human thought, for example, appears as a spiritually perceptible color phenomenon. Its color corresponds with the character of the thought. A thought which springs forth from a sensual impulse in a person has a different color from a thought conceived in the service of pure knowledge, noble beauty, or the eternal good. Thoughts which spring from the sensual life course through the soul world in red shades of color. A thought by which the thinker rises to higher knowledge appears in beautiful light yellow. A thought which springs from devoted and unselfish love rays out in glorious rose pink. And just as the content of a thought comes into expression in its supersensibly visible form, so also does the greater or less degree of its definiteness. The precise thought of the thinker shows itself as [181} a formation with definite outlines; the confused idea appears as a wavering, cloudy formation.

In this way the soul and spirit being of man appears as the supersensible part of the whole human being.

The color effects which the "spiritual eye" can perceive raying out round the physical man and enveloping him like a cloud (somewhat egg-shaped) are called the human aura. The size of this aura differs in different people. But one can form an idea of it by picturing that the whole man is in the average twice as long and four times as broad as the physical man.

The most varied tones of colors surge in the aura. And this surging is a true picture of the inner life of the man. Single color-tones are just as changing. But certain permanent qualities, such as talents, habits, traits of character, express themselves in a foundation of permanent color-tones.

The aura varies greatly according to the different temperaments and dispositions of people; it varies also in accordance with the stages of spiritual development. A man who [182} yields completely to his animal impulses has an entirely different aura from one who lives much in the world of thought. The aura of a nature with a religious tone differs essentially from one that expends itself on the trivial experiences of the day. In addition to this, all varying moods, all inclinations, joys and pains, find their expression in the aura.

One has to compare the auras of different human types with each other in order to learn to understand the meaning of the color-tones. Take, to begin with, people who have strongly marked passions. They may be divided into two kinds; those who are impelled to these feelings by the animal nature chiefly, and those with whom these passions take a more subtle form in which they are, so to speak, strongly influenced by thought. In the first kind of person brown and brown-red streams of color in every shade surge through the aura in definite places. In persons with more subtle passions there appear in the same places tones of brighter red and green. One can notice that as intelligence increases the green tones become more and more abundant. Persons who are very intelligent, but who quite [183} give themselves over to the satisfying of their animal impulses, have much green in their aura. But this green will always have more or less of an admixture of brown or brownish red. Unintelligent people show a great part of their aura coursed through by brownish red or even by dark blood-red streams.

The auras of quiet, deliberate, thoughtful people are essentially different from those of such passionate natures. The brownish and reddish tones become less prominent, and different shades of green come out. With thoughtful natures the aura shows a pleasing green undertone. This is to an especial degree the appearance of those natures of whom one can say, "They know how to adapt themselves to every condition of life."

Blue tones of color appear in natures full of devotion. The more a man places his Self in the service of a thing the more pronounced become the blue shades. In this class, also, one finds two quite different kinds of people. There are natures with a mediocre power of thought, passive souls who, as it were, have nothing to throw into the stream of events in the world but their "good nature." Their aura [184} glimmers with beautiful blue. One observes the same in the auras of religious and devotional natures. Compassionate souls and those who find pleasure in giving themselves up to a life of benevolence have similar auras. If such people are intelligent in addition to this, green and blue currents alternate, or the blue itself perhaps take a greenish shade. It is the peculiarity of the active souls in contrast to the passive, that their blue saturates itself from within with bright color-tones. Richly inventive natures, such as have fruitful thoughts, ray out bright tones of color as if from an inner point. This is the case in the highest degree with those persons whom one calls "wise," and especially with those full of fruitful ideas. Generally speaking, all that implies spiritual activity takes more the form of rays which spread out from within, while everything that arises from the animal life has the form of irregular clouds which surge through the aura.

Auric formations show colorings which differ according to whether the conceptions which spring up in an active soul are placed at the service of the person's own animal [185} impulses or of an idealistic interest outside of himself. The inventive person who applies all his thoughts to the satisfaction of his sensual passions shows dark, blue-red shades; he, on the contrary, who places his thoughts selflessly at the service of an interest outside of himself, shows light reddish-blue color-tones. A spiritual life combined with noble devotion and capacity for sacrifice shows rose pink or light violet colors.

Not only does the fundamental disposition of the soul show its color surgings in the aura but also transient passions, moods, and other inner experiences. An anger that breaks out suddenly creates red streams. Feelings of injured dignity which expend themselves in a sudden welling up can be seen appearing in dark green clouds. Color phenomena, however, do not appear only in irregular cloud forms but also in distinctly defined, regularly shaped figures. A fit of terror, for example, shows the aura lined from top to bottom by undulating stripes of blue color suffused with a reddish shimmer. In a person who expects with anxiety some particular event, one can see continuous red-blue [186} stripes like rays streaming from within the aura to the circumference.

Every sensation which a man receives from without can be observed by one who has developed a faculty of exact spiritual perception. Persons who are greatly excited by every external impression show a continuous flickering of small reddish spots and flecks in the aura. In people who do not feel intensely, these flecks have an orange yellow or even a beautiful yellow coloring. So called "absentminded" people show bluish flecks more or less changing in form.

A highly developed spiritual seer can distinguish three species of color phenomena within the aura, radiating and surging round a man. First there are the colors which bear more or less the character of opaqueness and dullness, although if we compare them with those that our physical eyes see, they appear in comparison fugitive and transparent. But within the supersensible world itself they make the space which they fill comparatively opaque; they fill it like mist forms. The second species of colors consists of those which are, as it were, light itself. They light up the [187} space which they fill so that it becomes itself, through them, a shining or lighted space. The third kind of color phenomena is quite different from these two. They have a raying, sparkling, glittering character. They fill space not merely with light but with glistening, glittering rays. There is something active and inherently mobile in these colors. The others are somewhat quiet and lack brilliance. These on the contrary continuously produce themselves out of themselves, as it were. By the two first species of colors, the space is filled up with a subtle fluid which remains quietly in it. By the third it is filled with life ever enflaming itself anew with never-resting activity.

Now these three species of colors are not ranged, as it were, strictly alongside each other in the human aura; they are not each enclosed in a separate section of space. On the contrary, they interpenetrate and suffuse each other in the most varied ways. One can see all three species playing through each other in one region of the aura, just as one can simultaneously hear and see a physical body such as a bell. The aura thereby becomes an [188} exceedingly complicated phenomenon, for one has, as it were, to do with three auras within each other and interpenetrating each other. One can, however, overcome the difficulty by directing one's attention to the three species alternately. One then does in the supersensible world something similar to what one does in the sensible, for example, when one closes one's eyes in order to give oneself up fully to the impression of a piece of music. The "seer" has, as it were, three different organs for the three species of colors. And, in order to observe undisturbed, he can open or close to impressions any one of the organs. As a rule only the one kind of organ can at first be developed by a "seer," namely for the first kind of colors. A person at this stage can see only the one aura. The other two remain invisible to him. In the same way a person may be accessible to impressions from the two first but not the third. The higher stage of the "gift of seeing" consists in a person's being able to see all three auras and, for the purpose of study, to direct his attention to the one or the other.

The threefold aura is the supersensibly [189} visible expression of the being of man. The three members, body, soul, and spirit, come to expression in it.

The first aura is a mirror of the influence which the body exercises on the soul of man; the second signifies the life of the soul itself, the soul that has raised itself above what affects the senses directly, but is not yet devoted to the service of the eternal; the third mirrors the lordship which the eternal spirit has won over the transitory man. When descriptions of the aura are given, as here, it must be emphasized that these things are not only difficult to observe but above all difficult to describe. No one, therefore, should see in a description like this anything more than a stimulus to thought.

The "seer" therefore can judge the stage of development of a person by the nature of his aura. When an undeveloped person approaches him, one who is given up entirely to his impulses, passions, and momentary external incitements, he sees the first aura in the loudest colors. The second, on the contrary, is only slightly developed. He sees in it only scanty color formations, while the third is barely indicated. Only, here and there, a [190} small, glittering spark of color shows itself, indicating that even in this human being the eternal already lives as a germ, but that it will require a long course of evolution, extending over many incarnations, before it can gain a predominating influence on the outer life of its bearer. The more the man puts from him his lower impulses, the less obtrusive becomes the first part of the aura. The second part grows larger and larger, filling the color body within which the physical man lives, ever more and more completely, with its illumining force. And the highly developed persons, "Servants of the Eternal," show the wonderful third aura, that part which bears witness how far the human being has become a citizen of the spiritual world. For the divine Self rays through this part of the human aura into the earthly world. Persons in whom this aura is developed are the flames through whom the Divine illumines this world. They have learned to live not for themselves but for the eternally True, the nobly Beautiful and Good; they have wrung from their narrower self the power to offer themselves up on the altar of the great World Work. [191} Thus there comes to expression in the aura what the man has made of himself in the course of his incarnations.

All three parts of the aura contain colors of the most varied shades. But the character of these shades changes with the stage of development of the man. One can see in the first part of the aura of the undeveloped man of impulse all shades from red to blue. With him these shades have a dull, dirty character. The obtrusive red shades point to the sensual desires, to the fleshly lusts, to the passion for the enjoyments of the palate and the stomach. Green shades appear to be found especially in those lower natures that incline to obtuseness and indifference, greedily giving themselves over to each enjoyment but nevertheless shunning the exertions necessary to satisfy them. Where the desires are passionately bent on any goal beyond the reach of the capacities already acquired, brownish-green and yellowish-green colors appear. Certain modern modes of life actually breed this kind of aura.

A personal conceit which is entirely rooted in low inclinations, that is to say the lowest stage of egoism, shows itself in tones from [192} dirty yellow to brown. Now it is clear that even the animal life of impulse can take on a pleasing character. There is a purely natural capacity for self-sacrifice, a high form of which is to be found in the animal kingdom. This development of an animal impulse finds its most beautiful consummation in the natural mother love. These selfless natural impulses come to expression in the first aura in light reddish to rose-red shades of color. Cowardly fear and timidity in the face of external causes show themselves in the aura in brown-blue and gray-blue colors.

The second aura also shows the most varied grades of colors. Brown and orange colored formations point to strongly developed conceit, pride, and ambition. Inquisitiveness also announces its presence through red-yellow flecks. A bright yellow mirrors clear thinking and intelligence, green expresses understanding of life and the world. Children who learn easily have much green in this part of their aura. A green yellow in the second aura seems to betoken a good memory. Rose-red indicates a well-meaning affectionate nature. Blue is the sign of piety. The more [193} the piety approaches to religious fervor, the more does blue pass over into violet. Idealism and an earnest view of life in a higher sense one sees as indigo blue.

The fundamental colors of the third aura are yellow, green, and blue. Yellow appears here if the thinking is filled with lofty, wide-reaching ideas that comprehend the details as part of the whole of the divine World Order. If the thinking is intuitive and is also completely purified of all conceptions springing from the world of the senses, the yellow has a golden brilliance. Green indicates love toward all beings; blue is the sign of a capacity for selfless sacrifice for all beings. If this capacity for sacrifice is brought to the height of the strong Willing, which devotes itself to the active service of the world, the blue brightens to light violet. If pride and desire for honor as last remnants of personal egoism are still present in a more highly developed person there appear beside the yellow shades others verging on orange. It must, however, be remarked that in this part of the aura the colors are very different from the shades one [194} is accustomed to see in the world of the senses. It displays to the "seer" a beauty and an exaltedness with which nothing in the ordinary world can be compared. [195}


4. The Path of Knowledge

Knowledge of the truths made known by Theosophy can be gained by each man for himself. Descriptions of the kind given in this book present a thought-picture of the higher worlds. And they are in a particular respect the first step toward personal vision. For man is a thought-being. He can only find his path of knowledge when he makes thinking his starting point. A picture of the higher worlds given to his intellect is not unfruitful for him even if for the time being it were only as an account of higher facts into which he has not yet gained insight through his own vision. For the thoughts which are given him represent in themselves a force which continues working in his thought world. This force will be active in him, and it will awaken slumbering capacities. He who is of the opinion that it is superfluous to make oneself receptive to such a thought-picture is mistaken. [196} [paragraph continues] He regards thought as something unreal and abstract. But thought is a living force. It is for him who has the higher knowledge a direct expression of what can be seen in the spirit, and it therefore acts in him to whom it is communicated like a germ, which brings forth from itself the fruit of knowledge.

Anyone disdaining the application of strenuous intellectual exertion to the attainment of the higher knowledge, and preferring to make use of other forces in man to that end, fails to take into account that thinking is the highest of the faculties possessed by man in the world of the senses.

To him who asks, "How can I gain personal knowledge of the higher truths of Theosophy?" the answer must be given, "Begin by making yourself acquainted with what is communicated by others concerning such truths." And should he reply, "I wish to see for myself, I do not wish to know anything about what others have seen," one must answer, "It is in the very assimilating of the communications of others that the first step toward personal knowledge consists." And if he should answer, "Then I am forced to have blind faith [197} to begin with," one can only reply that in regard to something communicated it is not a case of belief or unbelief but merely of an unprejudiced consideration of what one hears. The theosophist never speaks with the intention of awakening blind faith in what he says. He merely says, "I have experienced this in the higher regions of existence, and I narrate these my experiences." But he knows also that the reception of these experiences by another and the penetrating of his thoughts with such an account are living forces making for spiritual development.

One cannot, in fact, emphasize strongly enough how necessary it is that anyone who wishes to develop his capacity for higher knowledge should undertake the earnest cultivation of his powers of thinking. This emphasis must be all the stronger because many persons who wish to become "seers" actually estimate lightly this earnest, self-denying labor of thinking. They say, "Thinking cannot help me to reach anything; the chief thing is 'sensation, feeling,' or something similar." In reply it must be said that no one can in the higher sense (and that means in [198} truth) become a "seer" who has not previously accustomed himself to the life of trained thought. In this connection a certain inner laziness plays an injurious rôle with many persons. They do not become conscious of this laziness because it clothes itself in a contempt of "abstract thought" and "idle speculations," etc.

But one completely misunderstands what thinking is if one confuses it with a spinning of idle, abstract trains of thought. For while this "abstract thinking" can easily kill supersensible knowledge, vigorous thinking, full of life, must be the groundwork on which it is based.

It would indeed be more comfortable if one could reach the higher power of seeing while shunning the labor of thinking. Many would like this. But in order to reach it there is necessary an inner firmness, an assurance of soul to which thinking alone can lead. Otherwise there merely results a meaningless flickering of pictures here and there, a distracting display of soul or astral phenomena, which indeed gives pleasure to many, but which has nothing to do with a true penetration into the [199} higher worlds. Further, if one considers what great changes take place in the man who really enters the higher world, one will understand that the matter has still another aspect. Absolute healthiness of the soul life belongs to the condition of being a "seer." There is no better means of developing this healthiness than the true kind of thinking. In fact, it is possible for the health to suffer seriously if the exercises for higher development are not based on thinking. Although it is true that the power of spiritual sight makes a healthy and correctly thinking man still healthier and more capable in life, it is also true that vague dreamings about these things, all attempts to develop while shirking the effort of thought, are dangerous to the health both of body and soul. No one who wishes to develop himself to higher knowledge has anything to fear if he pay heed to what is said here, but the attempt should only be made under the above conditions.

Unfounded disbelief is injurious. It works in the recipient as a repelling force. It hinders him from receiving the fructifying thoughts. Not faith, but just this reception [200} of the theosophic conceptions and teachings, is the requisite for the development of the higher senses. The theosophist approaches his scholar with the injunction, "You are not required to believe what I tell you but to think about it, make it part of the contents of your own thought world, then my thoughts will work in you and of themselves enable you to recognize them as true." This is the attitude of the teacher of Theosophy. He gives the stimulus; the power to accept as true what is given him springs forth from the inner being of the learner himself. And it is with this attitude of mind that the theosophic views of life should be studied. Anyone who has the self-control to steep his thoughts in them may be sure that in a shorter or longer time they will lead him to personal vision.

In what has been said here there is already indicated one of the first qualities which everyone wishing to arrive at a personal vision of higher facts has to develop. It is the unreserved, unprejudiced, laying of oneself open to that which is revealed by human beings or the world external to man. If a man approaches a fact in the world around [201} him with a judgment arising from his previous experiences, he shuts himself off by this judgment from the quiet, complete effect which this fact can have on him. The learner must be able each moment to make himself a perfectly empty vessel into which the new world flows. Knowledge is received only in those moments in which every judgment, every criticism coming from ourselves, is silent. For example, when we meet a person, the question is not at all whether we are wiser than he. Even the most unreasoning child has something to reveal to the greatest sage. And if he approach the child with his prejudgment, be it ever so wise, he pushes his wisdom like a dulled glass in front of what the child ought to reveal to him. Complete inner selflessness is necessary for this constant accessibility to the revelations of the new world. And if a man test himself to find out in what degree he possesses this accessibility he will make astonishing discoveries regarding himself. Anyone who wishes to tread the path of higher knowledge must train himself to be able each moment to obliterate himself with all his prejudices. As long as he obliterates himself [202} the other flows into him. Only a high grade of such selfless accessibility enables one to receive the higher spiritual facts which surround man on all sides. One can develop this capacity in oneself of set purpose. One tries, for example, to refrain from passing any judgment on people in one's neighborhood. One should obliterate within oneself the gauge of good and bad, of stupid or clever, which one is accustomed to apply, and try without this gauge to understand persons purely through themselves. The best exercises can be made with people for whom one has an aversion. One should suppress this aversion with all one's power and let everything that they do affect one unbiased. Or, if one is in an environment that excites this or that judgment, one should suppress the judgment and, free from criticism, lay oneself open to impressions. One should allow things and events to speak to oneself rather than speak oneself about them. And one should extend this even to one's thought world. One should suppress in oneself that which prompts this or that thought and allow only what is outside to produce the thoughts. Only when such exercises [203} are carried out with holiest earnestness and perseverance, do they lead to the goal of higher knowledge. He who undervalues such exercises knows nothing of their worth. And he who has experience in such things knows that selfless accessibility and freedom from prejudice are true producers of force. Just as heat conducted to the steam boiler is transformed into the motive power of the engine, the habitual exercise of selfless, spiritual accessibility in man is transformed into the power of seeing in the spiritual worlds.

By this exercise a man makes himself receptive to all that surrounds him. But to this receptivity correct valuation must also be added. As long as a man is inclined to value himself too highly, at the expense of the world around him, he closes up the approach to higher knowledge. He who in regard to each thing or event in the world yields himself up to the pleasure or pain which they cause him, is enmeshed by such an overvaluation of himself. For through his pleasure and his pain he learns nothing about the things but merely something about himself. If I feel sympathy with a man, I feel to begin with [204} nothing but my relation to him. If I make myself entirely dependent on this feeling of pleasure, of sympathy, as regards my judgment and my conduct, I place my personality in the foreground, I obtrude it upon the world. I wish to thrust myself into the world just as I am, instead of accepting the world in an unbiased way and allowing it to play itself out in accordance with the forces acting in it. In other words, I am tolerant only of what harmonizes with my personality. Toward everything else I exercise a repelling force. As long as a man is enmeshed by the sensible world, he acts in an especially repelling way on all influences that are supersensible. The learner must develop in himself the capacity to conduct himself toward things and people in accordance with their peculiar natures and to give to each its due worth and significance. Sympathy and antipathy, liking and disliking must be made to play quite new rôles. There can be no thought of eradicating these, of blunting oneself to sympathy and antipathy. On the contrary, the more a man develops in himself the capacity to refrain from allowing each feeling of sympathy and antipathy to be [205} followed immediately by a judgment, an action, the more fine will be the sensitiveness he develops in himself. He will find that sympathy and antipathy of a higher kind awaken in him if he curb those which he already has. Even something that is at first most unattractive has hidden qualities; it reveals them if a man does not in his conduct obey his selfish feelings. He who has developed himself in this respect feels more finely in every direction than one who has not, because he does not allow his own personality to lead him into lack of receptivity. Each inclination that a man follows blindly blunts the power to see the things in his environment in their true light. By obeying inclination we thrust ourselves, as it were, through the environment instead of laying ourselves open to it and feeling its true worth.

A man becomes independent of the changing impressions of the outer world when each pleasure and each pain, each sympathy and each antipathy, no longer calls forth in him an egotistical response and egotistical conduct. The pleasure one feels in a thing makes one at once dependent on it. One loses oneself in [206} the thing. A man who loses himself in the pleasure or pain caused by each varying impression cannot tread the path of higher knowledge. He must accept pleasure and pain with equanimity. Then he ceases to lose himself in them; he begins instead to understand them. A pleasure to which I surrender myself devours my being in the moment of surrender. I ought to use the pleasure only in order through it to arrive at an understanding of the thing that arouses pleasure in me. The important point ought not to be that the thing has aroused the pleasure in me; I ought to experience the liking and through it the nature of the thing. The pleasure should only be an announcement to me that there is in the thing a quality calculated to give pleasure. This quality I must learn to understand. If I go no further than the pleasure, if I allow myself to be entirely absorbed in it, it is only that I am expending myself; if the pleasure is to me only the opportunity of experiencing a quality or property of the thing itself, I enrich my inner being through this experience. To the learner pleasure and displeasure, joy and pain, must be opportunities for learning [207} about things. The learner does not become blunted to pleasure or pain through this, he raises himself above them in order that they may reveal to him the nature of the things. He who develops himself in this respect will learn to understand what instructors pleasure and pain are. He will feel with every being, and thereby receive the revelation of its inner nature. The learner never says to himself merely, "Oh, how I suffer" or "Oh, how glad I am," but always "How suffering speaks! How joy speaks!" He eliminates the element of self in order that pleasure and joy from the outer world may work on him. By this means a complete change takes place in the man. Formerly he responded to this or that impression by this or that action, because these impressions caused him joy or dislike. But now he allows pleasure and displeasure to become merely the organs by which things tell him how he should conduct himself toward them. In him, pleasure and pain change from being mere feelings to being organs of sense by which the external world is perceived. Just as the eye does not act itself when it sees something, but allows the hand to act, so pleasure and pain [208} bring about nothing in the learner, but merely receive impressions; and what is learned through pleasure and displeasure is that which brings about the action.

When a man uses pleasure and displeasure in such a way that they become mere organs of transmission, they build up for him within his soul the very organs through which the soul world opens up to view. The eye can serve the body only by being an organ for the transmission of sensible impressions; pleasure and pain become the eyes of the soul when they cease to have any value in themselves and begin to serve one purpose alone, that of revealing to the inner soul the souls outside it.

By means of the faculties mentioned the seeker of the Path places himself in such a condition as to enable what is really present in the world around him to affect him without disturbing influences from his own personality. But he has also to adapt himself to the spiritual world around him in the right way. For he is, as thinking being, a citizen of the spiritual world. He can be this in a right way only if he guides his thoughts in accordance with the eternal laws of truth, the laws of the [209} [paragraph continues] "Spirit-land." For only in this way can that land act on him and reveal its facts to him. A man never reaches the truth as long as he yields to the thoughts continuously coursing through his ego. For if he does, his thoughts take a course imposed on them by the fact that they come into existence within the bodily nature. The thought world of a man who is absorbed in an intellectual activity, determined primarily by his physical brain, has an appearance of irregularity and confusion. In it a thought enters, breaks off, is driven out of the field by another. Any one who tests this by listening to a conversation between two people, or who observes himself in an unprejudiced way, will gain an idea of this mass of will-o’-the-wisp thoughts. As long as a man devotes himself only to the calls of the life of the senses, his confused succession of thoughts will always be brought into order again by the facts of the reality. I may think ever so confusedly, but in my actions everyday facts force upon me the laws corresponding to the reality. My mental picture of a town may be most confused, but if I wish to walk along a certain road in the town I must accommodate myself [210} to existing facts. The mechanic can enter his workshop with ever so varied a whirl of ideas, but the laws of his engines compel him to adopt the correct procedure in his work. Within the world of the senses facts exercise their continuous corrective on thought. If I think out a false opinion about a physical phenomenon or the shape of a plant the reality confronts me and sets my thinking right. It is quite different when I consider my relations to the higher regions of existence. They reveal themselves to me only if I enter their worlds with already strictly controlled thinking. Unless my thinking shows me the right, sure standpoint, I cannot find the proper paths. For the spiritual laws prevailing within these worlds are not condensed into the sensibly perceptible kind, and therefore they do not exert on me the compulsion referred to above. I am able to obey these laws only when they are related to those which govern me personally as a thinking being. Here I must be my own sure guide. The seeker of the Path must therefore make his thinking strictly regulated in character. His thoughts must by degrees disaccustom themselves entirely from taking the [211} ordinary daily course. They must in their whole sequence take on the inner character of the spiritual world.

The seeker of the Path must constantly keep watch over himself in this respect and have himself in hand. With him one thought must not link itself arbitrarily with another but only in the way that corresponds with the severely exact contents of the thought world. The transition from one idea to another must correspond with the strict laws of thought. He must as thinker be to a certain extent constantly a copy of these thought laws. He must shut out from his train of thought all that does not flow out of these laws. Should a favorite thought present itself to him, he must put it aside if the correct sequence will be disturbed by it. If a personal feeling tries to force upon his thoughts a direction not inherent in them, he must suppress it. Plato required of those who wished to be in his school that they should first go through a course of mathematical training. And mathematics with their strict laws, which do not yield to the course of ordinary sensible phenomena, form a good preparation for the seeker of the Path. If he [212} wishes to make progress in the study of mathematics he has to strike out all personal, arbitrary choice, all disturbances. He learns by it to follow purely the requirements of the thought. And he has to learn to do this in all his thinking. His thought-life must itself be a copy of the unchanging mathematical methods of stating premises and forming conclusions . He must strive wherever he goes and whatever he does to think after this manner. Then the intrinsic lawfulness of the spirit world will flow into him instead of passing over and through him without leaving a trace, as it does when his thinking bears the ordinary confused character. Regulated thinking brings him from sure starting points to the most hidden truths. What has been said, however, must not be looked at in a one-sided way. Although mathematics act as a good discipline for the mind, one can arrive at pure, healthy thinking without the study of mathematics.

And what the Path seeker strives to have in his thinking, he must also strive to have in his actions. These must obey the laws of the nobly Beautiful and the eternally True without any [213} disturbing influences from his personality. These laws must constantly direct him. Should he begin to do something that he has recognized as right and fail to content his personal feelings, he may not for that reason forsake the road he has entered on. But, on the other hand, he may not pursue it because it gives him joy if he finds that it is not in accordance with the laws of the eternally Beautiful and True. In everyday life people allow their actions to be decided by what contents them personally, by what bears fruit for themselves. In this way they force upon the course of the world's events a direction influenced by their personality. They do not bring to realization the True that is already prescribed in the laws of the spirit world, they realize the demands of their self-will. They act in harmony with the spiritual world only when they follow its laws alone. The Path seeker may not ask, "What brings me advantages, what will bring me success?" but only, "What have I recognized as the Good?" Renunciation of the fruits of action in the interest of his personality, renunciation of all self-will, these are the weighty laws [214} which he must prescribe for himself. Then he treads the paths of the spiritual world, his whole being becomes penetrated by these laws. He becomes free from all compulsion from the sensible world; his Spirit-man raises itself out of the sensible sheath. Thus he makes actual progress on the path toward the spiritual, and thus he spiritualizes himself. One cannot say, "Of what use to me are all my resolutions to follow purely the laws of the True when I am perhaps mistaken as to what is the True?" The important thing is the striving and the spirit in which one strives. Even he who is mistaken possesses in his very striving after the True a force which turns him away from the wrong road. This force seizes him should he be mistaken and guides him to the right road. The very objection, "But I can be mistaken," is itself harmful unbelief. It shows that the man has no confidence in the power of the True. For the important point is that he should not presume to decide on his aims and objects in life in accordance with his egotistical views, but that he should selflessly yield himself up to the guidance of the spirit itself. It is not the [215} self-seeking will of man that can prescribe for the True; on the contrary this true itself must become lord in man, must penetrate his whole being, make him a copy of the eternal laws of the Spirit-land. He must fill himself with these eternal laws in order to let them stream out into life. As the Path seeker must hold strict guard over his thinking, so must he also over his will. Through this he becomes in life a messenger from the world of the True and the Beautiful. And through becoming this he rises to be a participant in the spirit world. Through this he is raised from stage to stage of development. For one cannot reach the spiritual life by merely seeing it; on the contrary, one has to reach it by experiencing, by living it.

If the Path seeker observes the laws here described his soul experiences will take on an entirely new form. He will not longer live merely in them. They will no longer have a significance merely for his personal life. They will develop into soul perceptions of the higher world. In his soul the feelings of pleasure and displeasure, of joy and pain, grow into soul organs, just as in his body eyes and ears [216} do not lead a life for themselves merely, but selflessly allow external impressions to pass through them. As a result calmness and assurance become inherent qualities in the soul of the Path seeker. A great pleasure will no longer make him jubilant, but will be the messenger to him of qualities in the world which have hitherto escaped him. It will leave him calm, and through the calm the characteristics of the pleasure-giving beings will reveal themselves to him. Pain will no longer fill him with grief, but will tell him the qualities of the being which causes the pain. Just as the eye does not desire anything for itself but shows man the direction of the road he has to take, so will pleasure and pain guide the soul safely along its path. This is the state of balance of soul which the Path seeker must reach. The less pleasure and pain exhaust themselves in waves which they throw up in the inner life of the Path seeker, the more will they form eyes for the supersensible world. As long as a man lives in pleasure and pain he cannot gain knowledge through them. When he learns through them how to live, when he withdraws from [217} them his feeling of self, then they become his organs of perception, then he sees by means of them, and through them attains to knowledge. It is incorrect to think that the Seeker of the Path becomes a dry, colorless being, incapable of pleasure or suffering. Pleasure and suffering are present in him but in a transformed shape; they have become "eyes and ears."

So long as one lives in a personal relationship with the world, things reveal only that which links them with our personality. But that is the transitory part of them. If we withdraw ourselves from the transitory part of us and live with our feeling of self, with our "I," in our permanent part, then our transitory parts become intermediaries for us; and that which reveals itself through them is an Imperishable, an Eternal in the things. This relationship between HIS own Eternal and the Eternal in the things must be established by the seeker of the Path. Even before he begins other exercises of the kind described, and also during them, he should direct his thought to this imperishable part. When I observe a stone, a plant, an animal, a man, I [218} should remember that in each of them an Eternal declares itself. I must ask myself what is the permanent that lives in the transitory stone, what will outlast the transient, sensible phenomenon? One ought not to think that such a directing of the spirit to the eternal destroys the power of devoted observation and our feeling for the qualities of everyday affairs, and estranges us from the immediate realities. On the contrary every leaf, every little insect will unveil to us innumerable mysteries, when not our eyes only but through the eyes the spirit is directed upon them. Every sparkle, every shade of color, every cadence will remain vividly perceptible to the senses; nothing will be lost; only an infinitude is gained. Indeed, the person who is not able to observe even the meanest thing in nature with interest will only attain to pale, bloodless thoughts, not to spiritual sight. All depends on the attitude of mind we acquire in this direction.

What stage we will succeed in reaching depends on our capacities. We have each moment to do what is right and leave everything else to the future. It must be enough [219} for us at first to direct our minds to the permanent. If we do this the knowledge of the permanent will through this awaken in us. We must wait until it is given. And it is given at the right time to each one who with patience waits and works. A man soon notices during such exercises what a powerful transformation takes place within him. He learns to consider each thing as important or unimportant only in so far as he recognizes it to be related to a Permanent, to an Eternal. He comes to a different appreciation and estimate of the world from the one he has hitherto had. His whole feeling takes on a new relationship toward the entire surrounding world. The transitory no longer attracts him for its own sake as formerly; it becomes for him a member, an image of the Eternal. And this Eternal, that lives in all things, he learns to love. It becomes familiar to him, just as the transitory was formerly familiar to him. This again does not cause him to become estranged from life, he only learns to value each thing at its true worth. Even the vain trifles of life will not leave him quite unaffected; but the man no longer loses himself in them, he recognizes [220} them at their limited worth. He sees them in their true light. He is a poor discerner who prefers to go awandering in the clouds and lose sight of life; a true discerner from his high summit, with his power of clear survey and his just and healthy feeling for everything, will be able to assign to each thing its proper place.

In this way there opens out to the Path seeker the possibility of ceasing to obey the incalculable influences of the external world of the senses, which turn his will now here, now there. Through higher knowledge he has seen the Eternal Being in things. By means of the transformation of his inner world he has gained the capacity to perceive this eternal being. When he now acts from out himself, he acts also from out the Eternal Being of the things. For the things give utterance in him to this being of theirs. He therefore acts in harmony with the eternal World Order when he directs his action from out the Eternal living within him. He becomes in this way no longer impelled by the things, he impels them according to the laws implanted within them which have become the laws of his own being. [221} This ability to act from out his inner being can only be an ideal toward which one strives. The attainment of the goal lies in the far distance. But the Path seeker must have the will to tread this road. This is his will for freedom. For freedom is action from out of one's inner being. And only he may act from out of his inner being who draws his motives from the Eternal. He who does not do this acts according to other motives than those implanted in the things. Such a one opposes the World Order. And this must prevail against him. That is to say, what he plans to carry through by his will can not take place. He can not become free. The arbitrary choice of the individual annihilates itself through the effects of its deeds.

*     *     *

He who directs his inner life in such a way steps upward from stage to stage. The fruits of his exercises will be that certain vistas of the supersensible world will unfold to his spiritual perception. He learns the real meaning of the truth communicated about this world; and he will receive confirmation of them through his own experience. If this [222} stage is reached, an experience comes to him which can only be his through treading this path.

Through Beings whose significance can now for the first time become clear to him through the "great Guides of the Human Race" there is bestowed on him what is called consecration (initiation). He becomes a "Disciple of the Wisdom." What the Seeker of the Path now experiences can only be indicated here. He receives a new home. He becomes a conscious dweller in the supersensible world. The River of Wisdom flows to him now from a higher source. The Light of Knowledge from this time forth does not shine upon him from without; he is himself placed in the fountain eye of this Light. In it the problems which the world supplies are solved. Henceforth he holds converse no longer with the things which are shaped through the spirit, but with the Shaping Spirit itself. The separate life of the personality only exists now in order to be a conscious image of the Eternal. Every lingering doubt that could formerly arise in him vanishes; for only he can doubt whom things delude regarding the spirit that rules in them. [223} And since the "Disciple of the Wisdom" is able to hold intercourse with the spirit itself, each false form in which he had before imagined the spirit vanishes. The false form which man ascribes to the spirit in his conceptions is superstition. The initiate is above all superstition, for he knows what the true form of the spirit is. Freedom from personality, doubt, and superstition, these are the characteristics of him who has attained to discipleship in the Path of the higher knowledge. One must not confuse this state in which the personality becomes one with the comprehensive spirit of life with a disappearance of the personality in the "All-Spirit." Such a disappearance does not take place in a true development of the personality. It remains preserved as personality at the highest stage of its perfection. It is not the subjection of the personality but its highest development that takes place. If one wishes to have a simile for this coincidence or union of the individual spirit with the "All-Spirit" one cannot choose that of different circles which, coinciding, are lost in the One, but one must choose the picture of many circles of which each has a quite [224} distinct shade of color; these differently colored circles coincide, but each separate shade preserves its existence within the whole. Not one loses the fullness of its individual power, and the whole is the resultant of these individual powers.

The further description of the Path will not be given here. It is given so far as is possible in "Occult Science," which forms a continuation of this book.

The Way of Man passes through many lives (incarnations). Patience ought to flow out of the real understanding of this fact. He who uses his present incarnation for his development prepares for those stages in which he will attain to (intuitive) seeing, to clairvoyance, to the full possession of his higher being (Spirit-self, Life-spirit) as well as to the remembrance of his former lives and to still higher experiences. It is possible for this to take place in his present life or perhaps, it may be, in a following one.



Rudolf Steiner Theosophy Introduction, Supersensible Knowledge of Man, Rudolf Steiner thought, Literature  

Steiner, Rudolf. 1910. Theosophy: An Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World and the Destination of Man. Tr. from the third German edition by Elizabeth Douglas Shields. Rand McNally and Company, New York.

Notes and Amplifications

1. To page 23. To speak of "life-force" (Lebenskraft) was regarded a short time back as the mark of an unscientific mind. But one begins to find here and there in science today a tendency which is not averse from the idea of a "life-force" such as was accepted in former times. Anyone who really understands the course of contemporary science will, however, recognize that the superior logic lies with those who in considering this tendency refuse to find any trace of "life-force." "Life-force" is by no means the same as what is today called the "forces of nature (Naturkrafte)," and he who will not pass over from the modes of thought and conception characteristic of modern science to higher modes ought not to speak of "life-force." Only the mode of thinking and the presuppositions of spiritual science (Geisteswissenschaft) or Theosophy make it possible to deal with such things without inconsistency. [226}

2. To page 26. When the "sense of touch" of the lower organisms is spoken of here, it is not intended to convey what is expressed by this phrase in the ordinary expositions of the "Senses." From the theosophical point of view much could, in fact, be urged in objection to the use of this expression. What is meant here by "sense of touch" is rather a general becoming aware of an external impression, in contrast to the special becoming aware which consists in seeing, hearing, etc.

3. To page 35. It is necessary to read theosophical presentations of a subject with strict accuracy. For it is only in the accurate statement of ideas that they have a value. For example in the statement, "They (the sensations, etc.) do not in its case (namely, that of the animal) become interwoven with independent thoughts transcending the immediate experience," one could easily fall into the mistake of thinking that it was claimed here that there are no thoughts contained in the sensations or the instincts of animals. Now Theosophy is actually based on a knowledge which says that all inner experience on the part of animals (and all existence of any kind) is [227} interwoven with thought. But the thoughts of the animal are not those of an independent I, or ego, living in the animal, but are those of the animal group ego, which must be regarded as a being governing the animal from without. This group ego is not present in the physical world as is the I, or ego, of a man, but works down into the animal from the soul world described on pages 87 et seq. (Further details regarding this are to be found in my "Outline of Occult Science.") The real point at issue in the case of man is that thoughts attain to an independent existence in him – that thoughts are not experienced immediately in sensation, but mediately as thoughts which are experienced also in the soul.

4. To page 42. When it is said that little children say, "Charles is good," "Mary wishes to have this," it must be carefully noted that the important point is not so much how soon children use the word "I" but when they connect the proper conception with that word. When children hear adults use the word, they can continually use it without having the conception of the "I." Nevertheless, the fact that the use of the word begins late as a rule points [228} to an important feature of evolution, namely the gradual unfolding of the I-concept out of the vague I-feeling.

5. To pages 47 and 48. A description of the intrinsic nature of "Intuition" is to be found in my books "A Way of Initiation" and "Occult Science." One might through inaccurate observation of the matter detect a contradiction between the use of this word in those books and what is said in this book on page 47. This, however, will be found not to exist when one takes into account that what reveals itself through intuition in full reality to supersensible knowledge makes itself known, in its lowest revelation, to the spirit-self, even as the external existence of the physical world makes itself known in sensation.

6. To page 91. The subject of the spiritual organs of perception which is only alluded to shortly in the later chapter in this book on The Path of Knowledge, is more fully dealt with in my books "A Way of Initiation" and "Occult Science." (Berlin, Philosophisch-Theosophischer Verlag. Motz Strasse 17.)

7. To page 132. It would be incorrect to imagine a ceaseless unrest in the spiritual [229} world because there is not in it "a state of rest, a remaining in one place, as in the physical world." There, where the Beings are who create the Archetypes, there is not indeed what can be called "rest in one place," but there is that rest which is spiritual in its nature, and consistent with active mobility. It may be likened to the restful satisfaction and bliss of the spirit which is revealed in deeds and not in a state of inaction.

8. To page 139. One is obliged to use the word "Purposes" in regard to the impelling or motive Powers of the world evolution, although it opens the door to a temptation to conceive of these Powers simply as human purposes. In the case of such words – which had naturally to be taken from the sphere of human life – this temptation can be averted only by the raising of oneself when using them to a significance from which every connection with human limitation is banished, and there is assigned to them what man approximately imbues them with on those occasions in his life when he, to a certain degree, rises above himself.

9. To page 139. Further particulars in [230} regard to the "Spiritual Word" are to be found in my "Outline of Occult Science."

Munich, August 28, 1910.

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