In a lecture on April 18, 1914, Rudolf Steiner gives us information about dreams, about their relation to the etheric and astral bodies:
"...We know what we perceive when we are awake in this world, which we call the physical. But what fills our perception when we dream, as events and material things fill our daytime experience? It is what we call the etheric world, the etheric substance permeating the world with its inner processes and with all that lives in it. That is the essence, as it were, of our perceptions when we dream. But we usually perceive only a very small part of the etheric world when dreaming. The etheric world is inaccessible to us when we are awake and perceive the physical realm; we cannot perceive the etheric substance around us with our physical senses. Likewise we cannot perceive all of it in our ordinary dreams, but only a part of it, namely, our own etheric body.
As you know, we leave our physical and our etheric bodies behind in sleep. In our usual dreams we look back, as it were, from within our astral body and I, to what we have left behind in sleep. However we are then not aware of our physical body and do not use our senses. Rather, we look back only at our etheric body. Fundamentally, therefore, processes in our etheric body reveal themselves in certain places, and we perceive them as dreams. In fact, most dreams are nothing else but looking at our etheric body in sleep and becoming aware of its exceedingly complex processes.
Our etheric body is very complex and contains all our memories, ready to present them to us when we recall them. Even those things that have sunk down into the depths of the soul, things we are not aware of in waking consciousness, are contained in the etheric body in some way. Our whole life in this incarnation is retained in the etheric body, is really present in it..."
"...When we are dreaming, we are actually outside our physical and etheric bodies and only in the astral and ego. While the type of dream described earlier gives us a glimpse of the etheric body, the ones where we face ourselves result from the astral body we took along revealing a part of itself to us and facing us with it. We perceive a portion of ourselves outside the physical body.
We do not perceive the astral body in ordinary life, but we can quite easily see part of it in sleep. It contains things we are not at all aware of when we are awake. I spoke earlier about the nature of the etheric body; it contains everything we have experienced. But now I have to tell you something quite strange---the astral body contains even those things we have not experienced. You see, our astral body is a rather complicated structure. It is in a certain sense built into us out of the spiritual world, and it contains not merely those things we already have in us now but also those we will learn in the future! They are already there as a disposition..." (Rudolf Steiner, April 18, 1914)
This was from a book containing seven lectures which were given between April 17 and May 26, 1914, called "The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path"....very interesting and very informative.
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