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The Etheric and Astral Cosmos

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  • Tarjei Straume
    On the WC list, Diana Winters is perplexed about a certain paradox in Steiner s spiritual science that I mentioned in a message January 24:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2004
      On the WC list, Diana Winters is perplexed about a certain paradox in
      Steiner's spiritual science that I mentioned in a message January 24:


      "According to Steiner, there is nothing physical in outer space beyond the
      earth, but the lights we see in the sky as stars are living beings reaching
      out to us with love. When we look to the sun, we look out of space into the
      flow of time, whence Christ was born, who gave time back to man, who had
      become a space being. In other words, everything we imagine and theorize
      about the heavenly bodies, and make grand plans about at NASA, are
      illusions, because the real universe is inside ourselves."

      Bradford's follow-up doesn't seem to have helped Diana's confusion. I know
      this can be very difficult when you really really really want to understand
      anthroposophy and "do the thing" with it (whatever that means).

      Diana writes (Jan 27):
      "Does anyone know if Steiner really said there is nothing physical in outer
      space beyond the earth? If it's true or even if they only *think* it's true
      (that Steiner said this), all the indignation over my describing Steiner as
      "speaking against science" is really hilarious."

      If Diana has seen indignation that she finds hilarious, I am more than
      happy to know that she is being entertained in this way. What she is trying
      to grapple with at this particular point is one of the most difficult,
      enigmatic, paradoxical, and deeply esoteric aspects of spiritual science.
      Yes, this is very very difficult. Anthroposophy is not easy.

      There is a lecture by Rudolf Steiner that I would like to quote in full
      some time in June, when it's in season so to speak. It's about the Whitsun
      Mystery. But just to illustrate the point at hand, and at the same time
      throw a little bone to the PLANS-WC cult so they can feast upon a piece of
      classical anthro-irrationality (see 1Co 1:18 ) - which is apparently their
      very purpose of living - I'll quote a passage by RS that is a highly
      significant contribution to our undestanding of the complex and
      multi-faceted relationship between physical science and spiritual science,
      between matter and spirit. It concerns the etheric and astral aspects of
      the Cosmos:


      Physical science theorises materialistically about the blue of the sky; and
      for physical science it is indeed very difficult to reach any intelligent
      conclusion on this point, for the simple reason that it is bound to admit
      that where we see the blue of the sky there is nothing physical.
      Nevertheless men spin out the most elaborate theories to explain how the
      rays of light are reflected and refracted in a particular way so as to call
      forth this blue of the sky. In reality, it is here that the supersensible
      world begins already to hold sway. In the Cosmos the Supersensible does
      indeed become visible to us. We have only to discover where and how it
      becomes visible. The Ether becomes perceptible to us through the blue of
      the sky.

      But now, somewhere there is also present the astral element of the Cosmos.
      In the blue sky the Ether peers through, as it were, into the realms of
      sense. Where then does the Astrality in the Cosmos peer through into the
      realms of perceptibility? The answer, my dear friends, is this.

      Every star that we see glittering in the heavens is in reality a gate of
      entry for the Astral. Wherever the stars are twinkling and glittering in
      towards us, there glitters and shines the Astral. Look at the starry
      heavens in their manyfold variety; in one part the stars are gathered into
      heaps and clusters, or in another they are scattered far apart. In all this
      wonderful configuration of radient light, the invisible and supersensible
      astral body of the Cosmos makes itself visible to us.

      For this reason we must not consider the world of stars unspiritually. To
      look up to the world of stars and speak of worlds of burning gases is just
      as though - forgive the apparent absurdity of the comparison, but it is
      precisely true - it is just as though someone who loves you were gently
      stroking you, holding the fingers a little apart, and you were then to say
      that it feels like so many little ribbons being drawn across your cheek. It
      is no more untrue that little ribbons are laid across your cheek when
      someone strokes you, than that there exist up there in the heavens those
      material entities of which modern physics tells. It is the astral body of
      the Universe which is perpetually wielding its influences - like the gently
      stroking fingers - on the etheric organism of the Cosmos. The etheric
      Cosmos is organised for very long duration; it is for this reason that a
      star has its quality of fixity, representing a perpetual influence on the
      cosmic Ether by the astral Universe. It lasts far longer than the stroking
      of your cheek. But in the Cosmos things do last longer, for there we are
      dealing with gigantic measures. Thus in the starry heavens that we
      perceive, we actually behold an expression of the soul-life of the cosmic
      astral world.

      - The Whitsuntide Festival - Its Place in the Study of Karma (Dornach, June
      4, 1924)

      A little further down in the same lecture, RS says:


      If we enter as fully as possible into the situation as we stand here,
      within the Universe, as human beings on this Earth, we shall say to
      ourselves: "We as human beings have a physical body: where, then, is the
      Physical in the Universe?" Here I am returning to something which I have
      already pointed out. The physical science of today expects to find
      everything which is on the Earth existing also in the Universe. But the
      physical organisation itself is not to be found in the Universe at all. Man
      has in the first place his physical organisation: then in addition he has
      the etheric and the astral. The Universe on the other hand *begins with the
      Etheric. Out there in the Cosmos the Physical is nowhere to be found.* The
      Physical exists only on the Earth, and it is but empty fancy and
      imagination to speak of anything physical in the far Universe. In the
      Universe nthere is the Etheric and the Astral. There is also a third
      element within the Universe which we have yet to speak about in this
      present lecture, for the Cosmos too is threefold. But the threefoldness of
      the Cosmos, apart from the Earth, is different from the threefoldness of
      the Cosmos in which we include the Earth.

      - ibid

      Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is deep esotericism and heavy duty for
      those striving to understand something they have not been prepared for.
      This is why A. P. Shepherd writes in his introduction to these Whitsun

      "These lectures are full of spiritual teaching and inspiration, but in some
      ways they are all the more difficult to grasp at first reading. They repay
      a hundred-fold patient and deep meditation."

      Again, this is an instance where those hyenas, incapable of patient and
      deep meditation, insist that Steiner spoke against physical science when he
      was simply exposing its limitations.

      "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." - Matt 11:15

      This brings us to another question: Did Rudolf Steiner ever say that there
      *were* indeed physical substances outside the realm of the Earth? Of course
      he did. The hyenas will cry inconsistency and contradiction because they
      have learned to believe exclusively, blindly, and *uncritically* in
      Einstein and NASA and the Pentagon and Star Trek, waiting for Mars to be
      colonized by GWB's successors to make sure that there is no Buddha there
      and that Steiner was a moron. For this reason, they feel deeply offended by
      the excerpts from Steiner's Whitsun-lecture above. Even the right-wing
      fundies among them are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.

      But I would like to get back to the lecture cycle i am currently studying -
      the one about the apocalypse to the priests. At one point, RS explains how
      comets bring certain substances into the earth atmosphere, into the soil
      and the plents and the very bread we eat - substances that are important
      and helpful to us. But he also describes another aspect of the comets in
      connection with Satan as this Being is described by John (or Lazarus-John),
      the apocalyptist. But for our comfort, we are living in the very age when
      Satan is actually *bound.*

      Coming soon to a Yahoo! theater near you.


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