Guidelines - Man as a Thinking and Remembering Being
Man as a Thinking and Remembering Being
With his representations (thinking) and the experiencing of memories, man finds himself within the physical world. However, no matter where he looks with his senses in the physical world, nowhere does he find what gives him the strength to form mental pictures [representations] and to remember.
Self-consciousness appears in thinking. This is in the sense of our previous considerations an acquisition which man has from the earth forces. But these earthly forces remain hidden to the senses. In earthly life man thinks about what the senses impart; but the force to think does not come from what he thinks about in this way.
Where does this earthly force come from which forms the mental pictures (thinking) and the memory pictures?
It is found when one looks back with spiritual vision at what man brings with him from previous earth lives. Normal consciousness does not know this. It lives in humanity unconsciously at first. It manifests itself when, after his spiritual existence, man comes to earth, where he is instantly connected to the earthly forces which do not fall within the realm of sense observation and thinking.
Man is not in this realm with representations (thinking), but with the will, which acts in accordance with destiny.
In this respect, one may speak of the forces contained in the earth which fall outside the realm of the senses as the "spiritual earth" the opposite pole to the physical one. It therefore follows that man lives in and with the "spiritual earth" as a willing being, and that as representing (thinking) one, although he is within the physical earth, as such he does not live with it.
As a thinking being, man carries forces from the spirit-world into the physical one; but he remains a spirit-being with these forces, who only appears in the physical world, but does not enter into commonality with it.
The representing (thinking) human being has commonality only with the "spiritual earth" during his earthly sojourn. And it is from this commonality that his self-consciousness matures. It is therefore thanks to spiritual processes during earthly life that self-consciousness appears.
If these processes are observed with spiritual vision, one envisions the "human I".
One comes to the realm of the human astral body via the experience of remembrance. By remembering, not merely the results of previous earth lives stream into the present I, which is the case with representation (thinking), but forces from the spirit-world, which one experiences between death and a new birth, stream into man's inner being. This streaming is directed to the astral body.
Within the physical earth there is no place for the direct reception of these instreaming forces. As a being who remembers, man cannot unite with the things and events that he perceives with his senses, just as he is unable to unite with them as a thinking being.
But he does achieve commonality with what transforms the physical into processes and events, although it is not physical itself. These are the rhythmical processes in nature and man. Day and night alternate rhythmically in nature, the seasons follow each other rhythmically, and so on. In humans breathing and blood circulation are rhythmic, as are sleeping and waking.
Rhythmical processes are not physical in nature or in man. They could be called half-spiritual. The physical as thing disappears in the rhythmical process. By remembering, man is transferred to his and to nature's rhythmical processes. He lives in his astral body.
Indian yoga would completely evaporate in rhythmical experience. It would abandon the area of thinking, the I, and in inner experience, similar to memory, look into the world which lies behind what normal consciousness can know.
Western spiritual life may not suppress the I in order to gain knowledge. It must accompany the I to spiritual perception.
This can't happen if one pushes so hard from the sensitive to the rhythmical world that one only experiences in the rhythmical the half-spiritual nature of the physical. One must rather find that sphere of the spirit-world which manifests itself in the rhythmical.
Therefore two thinks are possible. First: while experiencing the physical in the rhythmical, confirm how this physical becomes half-spiritual. This is an older path, no longer to be trodden today. Second: experiencing the spirit-world which has as its sphere cosmic rhythms in and outside man, just as man has the earth and its physical beings and processes.
To this spirit-world belongs everything which happens through Michael in the present cosmic moment. A spirit such as Michael brings what would otherwise lie in the Luciferic region into purely human evolution which is not influenced by Lucifer in that he chooses the rhythmical world as his dwelling place.
This can all be envisioned once man enters into Imagination. For the soul lives in rhythm with Imagination; and Michael's world manifests itself in rhythm.
Remembrance, memory is already within this world, but not yet deep. Normal consciousness experiences nothing of this. By entering Imagination, however, the world of subjective remembrance emerges at first from the rhythmical world; it passes at once to the primal images (Urbilder), living in the etheric, created by the divine-spiritual world for the physical world.
For one experiences the radiant cosmic pictures of the creation of worlds concealed in the ether. And the sun forces weaving in this ether: they do not merely radiate, they invoke cosmic primal images from the light. The sun appears as the cosmic painter of the universe. It is the cosmic counterpart of the impulses which paint representational (thought) pictures in man.
Goetheanum, January 1925
1. The author is referring here (I think) to the first of the three stages of initiation: 1) imagination, 2) inspiration, 3) intuition. (translator).