Theosophy 1: The Three Worlds: Body, Soul, Spirit---The Flowers in the Meadow Example
Steiner: "[Man] is interwoven with the world in a threefold way. The
first division is one that he finds present, that he accepts as a given fact.
Through the second he makes the world into his own affair, into something that has a meaning for him. The third he regards as a goal towards which he ought unceasingly to strive.
Why does the world appear to man in this threefold way? A simple
consideration will explain it. I cross a meadow covered with flowers. The
flowers make their colors known to me through my eyes. That is the fact I
accept as given. Having accepted the fact, I rejoice in the splendor of the colors. Through this I turn the fact into an affair of my own. Through my feelings I connect the flowers with my own existence. Then, a year later I go again over the same meadow. Other flowers are there. Through them new joys arise in me. My joy of the former year will appear as a memory. This is in me. The object that aroused it in me is gone, but the flowers I now see are of the same kind as those I saw the year before. They have grown in accordance with the same laws as have the others. If I have informed myself regarding this species and these laws, I then find them again in the flowers of this year, just as I found them in those of last year. So I shall perhaps muse, 'The flowers of last year are gone and my joy in them remains only in my memory. It is bound up with my existence alone. What I recognized in the flowers of last year and recognize again this year, however, will remain as long as such flowers grow. That is something that revealed itself to me, but it 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 mein the world.'
By these means man continually links himself in this threefold way with the things of the world. One should not, for the present, read anything into this fact, but merely take it as it stands. From this it can be seen 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. Whoever connects any preconceived opinions or even hypotheses with these three words will necessarily misunderstand the following explanations..."
******* What we perceive through our senses is the body; what we FEEL about anything we perceive is our SOUL.
We in our modern world don't know what "soul" or "spirit" really mean
anymore. All we know usually is what we perceive, which it's important to admit is only the body. "Soul" and "spirit" have become essentially meaningless words to us, words for something the religions talk about but we don't know; or else we think of either as a "ghost" (which means we think of them as some ghostly image of the body).
Actually, old spiritual thought always recognized soul and spirit as referring to different things. This is still preserved in many European languages, where what we usually translate into English now as
"psyche" is actually "soul" (this is why so many works of not just Steiner but Carl Jung and others, for instance, are always casually talking about "the soul"). A little of this survives in the slang for a horse having "spirit" and such.
Actually "soul" as we're using it here means our own private world of feelings about what we perceive with our bodies.
"Spirit", however, means actual knowledge through true thinking. This does not refer to the mere "having of thought-images", but thinking which actually results in objective knowledge--- as, in the example, about the flowers. The laws which botany discovers are the product of the human spirit connecting with the actual essence, the spiritual reality, of the flowers.
To Be Continued....