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The Michael Mystery
GA 26

XXVI. Memory and Conscience

In his sleeping state Man is given over to the Cosmos. He carried over to the Cosmos in sleep that which is his, as the fruit of previous Earth-lives, when he comes down out of the world of soul and spirit into the earthly world. He withdraws this inner core of his human being from the Cosmos whilst awake.

In this rhythm of being given over to the Cosmos, and in turn withdrawn from the Cosmos, life rolls on between birth and death.

The withdrawal from the Cosmos is at the same time an absorption of the man of soul and spirit by the nerves-and-senses organism. To the physical and life-processes which go on in this organism, the spirit-and-soul part of Man is united during waking life; it combines with them in a homogeneous system of working. In this working system are included: Sense-perception, the formation of Memory-pictures, and the life of Fancy. These functions are attached to the physical body. Mental conceptions, the life of Thought, in which Man becomes conscious of what goes on half unconsciously in sense-perception, fancy and memory — these are attached to the Thinking organism.

This Thinking organism is also, more peculiarly, the region in which Man comes to the consciousness of himself. The Thinking system is a Star-system. Were it to lead its life purely as a star-system from first to last, Man would bear within him not a Self-consciousness, but a God-consciousness. But the Thinking system is a star system taken out of the starry Cosmos and transplanted into the earthly course of events. In realizing the star world in the life of earth, Man becomes a self-conscious being.

Here then we find that region of inner human life where the divine-spiritual world, to which Man belongs, sets him free in order that he may become Man in the fullest sense.

But just below the Thinking organism, in the region where sense-perception, fancy, memory-picturing are going on, there the divine spirit-world is living in and with the life of Man. The divine spirit-world may be said to live in Man's waking state in the evolution of memory. For the two other functions, sense-perception and fancy, are only modifications of this forming of inner memory-pictures. In sense-perception we have the formation of the mind's memory-contents in the nascent state; in fancy's contents we have, lighting up in the soul, what lives on of these memory-contents in the soul's inner life.

The sleeping state carries Man's soul and spirit over into the cosmic existence. Here, with all the functions of his astral body and I he is immersed in the divine-spiritual Cosmos. He is not only outside the physical, he is also outside the world of stars. But he is within those divine spirit-beings from whom his own existence draws its source.

At the present moment of cosmic evolution, the manner in which these divine spirit-beings work is to imprint the moral World-Content upon the astral body and the I during the sleeping state. All world-procedures in the sleeping man is real moral procedure — nothing that could be said in the least to resemble the results of an action in external Nature.

This moral world-procedure, in its after-effects, is carried by Man from his sleeping over into his waking state. The after-workings remain in a state of sleep. For Man wakes only in that life which is turned towards the field of Thought. What is really going on within his Willing sphere, remains even in waking life, veiled in the same dull darkness as is the whole of his soul-life during sleep. But in this sleeping life of Will, the divine spirit-world continues to weave on in his waking state. Man is morally as good — or as bad — as he can be, according to how near he can come to the divine-spiritual beings in his sleep. And he comes nearer to or remains further from them, according as his previous earth-lives have been in a moral direction.

From the depths of the soul's waking being rises the echo of what the soul has been able to receive, implanted into her during sleep in communion with the divine-spiritual world. This voice, ringing up from the depths, is the voice of Conscience.

Thus the very thing for which a materialist view of the world is most prone to find an explanation solely on the natural side, shows itself, for spiritual knowledge, to lie on the moral side.

In Memory, divine spiritual Being works in the waking man directly. In Conscience, the same divine spiritual Being works in the waking man indirectly — as an after-effect.

Memory is formed in the nerves-and-senses organism. Conscience is formed — though as a process purely of the soul and spirit — within the metabolic and limb organism.

Between the two lies the rhythmic organism. Conscience is formed — though as a process purely of the soul and spirit — within the metabolic and limb organism. This is developed in two directions, so that each side is polar in relation to the other. As Breathing rhythm, it is intimately associated with Sense-Perception and with Thinking. In lung-breathing, the process is at its coarsest. It becomes more delicate, and as refined and sublimated breathing becomes sense-perceiving and thinking. Still quite close to Breathing — only a breathing through the sense-organs, not through the lungs — is Sense-Perception. Beginning then to be more remote from lung-breathing and having for its support the Thinking organism, is the forming of mental conceptions, Thinking as such. And already bordering on the other side upon the rhythm of the blood-circulation — beginning to be an inward breathing that combines with the metabolic and limb organism — is the function which manifests itself in the play of Fancy. This extends then, as a soul-function, down into the sphere of the Will, even as the circulatory rhythm extends into the metabolic and limb organism.

In the exercise of Fancy, the Thinking system approaches quite close to the Willing system. It is a dipping-down of the man into his waking sleep-sphere of will. Accordingly, with men whose organization is of this kind, the contents of their soul-world appear like waking dreams. In Goethe there lived a human organization of this kind. That is why he says that Schiller must interpret his poetic dreams for him.

In Schiller himself the other kind of organization was active. He lived on the strength of what he brought with him from his previous earth-lives. To a strenuous Will, he was obliged to seek the Fancy that should give it content.

People whose disposition lies more towards the region of Fancy, so that with them all conceptions of sense-reality turn of themselves, so to speak, into pictures of fancy, are the ones on whom the Ahrimanic Powers reckon in their world-plans. They think that with the assistance of people of this kind they will be able completely to cut off the evolution of mankind from its Past and bring it into the direction they are wanting.

People whose organization tends more towards the region of the Will, but who, out of inner love for an idealistic world-conception, vigorously convert their sense-conceptions into forms of fancy, are the ones on whom the Luciferic Powers reckon. By means of such human beings, the Luciferic Powers hope to maintain Man's evolution altogether within the impulses of the Past. They could then keep Man from going down into the sphere where the Ahrimanic Powers have to be conquered.

In their earthly life, men are placed between two polar opposites. Overhead, far and wide, spread the Stars. Thence rain the forces which have to do with all that is regular and calculable in Earth-life; regular alternation of day and night, seasons of the year, world-periods of lengthier duration; all this is the earthly reflection of processes originating amid the Stars.

The opposite pole radiates from the inside of the Earth. The Irregular has here its life. Wind and weather, thunder and lightning, earthquakes, volcanic outbursts, reflect these inner Earth-events.

Man is an image of this Star-and-Earth life. In his Thinking system lives the Order of the Stars. In his Limb and Will-system lives Earth-Chaos. In the Rhythmic system, Man's own earthly being is realized in the free balance of the two.

Leading Thoughts

Man has received his spiritual and bodily organization from two sides. Firstly, an organization from the physical and etheric Cosmos. All that is radiating of divine spiritual being into this organization in the human being, lives in him as the power of Sense-Perception, the faculty of Memory and the play of Fancy.

Secondly, Man received his organization from his preceding Earth-lives. This organization is entirely one of soul and spirit, and lives in Man through the astral body and the I. The life of divine-spiritual beings which here finds its way into Man's being, works on and lights up in Man as the Voice of Conscience and the like.

In his Rhythmic organization, Man is forever combining the divine-spiritual impulses from both sides. In the inner living realization of this rhythm, the power of Memory is carried into the life of Will, and the force of Conscience into the life of Ideas.