Cosciouness Soul-3 : The Ego
- *******So the "soul" is your inner experience of your environment and your body right now, wherever you are. But animals always experience this present moment, while we do not. Our memory comes from the presence of the Ego in us. Here, from "Occult Science: An Outline", Steiner writes, after writing about the physical body and the etheric body (that we experience when a limb 'goes to sleep' or when we see a colored after-image, and in other ways):
"As the physical body cannot maintain its form through the mineral substances and forces it contains, but needs to be permeated by the etheric body, so too the forces of the etheric body cannot of themselves become illumined with the light of consciousness. Left to itself, an etheric body would of necessity be in a perpetual state of sleep — or, we may also say, could only maintain in the physical body a vegetable form of life. An etheric body that is awake is illumined by an astral body.
For outer observation the effect of the astral body disappears when man falls asleep. For supersensible observation however, the astral body still remains, but it is now seen to be separated from the etheric body, or lifted out of it. Sensory observation is in fact concerned, not with the astral body itself, but only with its effects within the manifest world, and these are not immediately present during sleep.
Man has his physical body in common with the minerals and his etheric body with the plants. In the same sense he is of like nature with the animals in respect of the astral body. The plant is in a perpetual state of sleep. Anyone who does not judge accurately in these matters may easily fall into the error of attributing to plants too a kind of consciousness such as the animals and man have in their waking state. But this mistake is only possible when one's idea of consciousness is inexact. One may then aver that a plant too, when subjected to an outer stimulus, will perform movements, just an animal will do. One will refer to the “sensitiveness” of many plants, which for example contract their leaves when certain outer things affect them. But the criterion of consciousness does not lie in the fact that to a given action a being shows a definite reaction. It lies in this, that the being has an inner experience, and this is a new factor, over and above the mere reaction. Otherwise we might as well speak of consciousness when a piece of iron expands under the influence of heat. Consciousness is only there when for example, through the effect of heat, the being inwardly experiences pain.
The fourth member which supersensible science attributes to the human being, is one he no longer has in common with any of the manifest world around him. Indeed it is this fourth member which distinguishes him from all his fellow-creatures and marks him as the crown of the creation — or of that realm of the creation to which man belongs. Supersensible science arrives at an idea of this fourth member of the human being by pointing to an essential differentiation between the kinds of experience we have even within waking life.
This difference becomes directly evident when man observes that in the waking state he is on the one hand in the midst of experiences which must come and go, while on the other hand he also has experiences of which this cannot be said. It comes out most distinctly when we compare the conscious experiences of man with those of the animal. The animal experiences the influences of the outer world with great regularity. Under the influences of heat and cold it becomes conscious of pain or pleasure, and its experience of thirst and hunger is subject to bodily processes which take a regular and periodic course. Man's life is not exhausted by experiences such as these. He can develop wishes and cravings transcending all these things. For the animal, could we but pursue the matter far enough, we should always be able to indicate — within the body or outside it — the precise cause for any given action or sensation. With man it is not so. He can give birth to wishes and desires for whose origin no external cause — whether in the body or outside it — is sufficient. Everything that belongs to this domain must be attributed to a special source, which the science of the supersensible recognizes to be the I or Ego of man. The I may therefore be described as the fourth member of the human being.
If the astral body were left to itself, pleasure and pain, feelings of hunger or of thirst would come and go in it, but one thing would never come about — namely, the sense of something permanent in all these things. Not the permanent itself, but that which has conscious experience of the permanent, is here called the I. (We must form our concepts with great precision if misunderstandings are not to arise in this domain.) With the awareness of something permanent and lasting in the changing flow of inner experiences, the feeling of “I” of inner selfhood begins to dawn. The mere fact that a creature experiences hunger, for example, cannot give it the feeling of “I.” On every new occasion when the causes of hunger make themselves felt, hunger arises. The creature falls upon its food simply because the causes of hunger are there anew. The feeling of “I” comes in when the creature is not merely impelled to take food by the renewed causes of hunger, but when a previous satisfaction gave rise to a sense of pleasure and the consciousness of the pleasure has remained. Here it is not only the present experience of hunger but the past experience of satisfaction which provides the impulse.
The physical body disintegrates when it is not held together by the etheric; the etheric body falls into unconsciousness when it is not irradiated by the astral body. In the like manner the astral body would ever and again have to let the past sink into oblivion if the I did not preserve the past and carry it over into the present. Forgetting is for the astral body what death is for the physical body and sleep for the etheric. Or, as we may also express it: life is proper to the etheric body, consciousness to the astral body, and memory to the Ego. "
******* So our threefold body brings us up to the level of the animal, but our memory, our permanent sense of self, comes from the Ego. Because we have this we are more than physical body, etheric body and astral body. We have "soul" where the animal has only "astrality."
The levels of the soul are CAUSED BY OUR HAVING THE EGO. Without it, we would be only like animals.
To Be Continued...
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