The Foundations of Esotericism
Berlin, 29th September 1905
We have spoken about the consciousness of the different kingdoms of nature. Man's organs have an organ-consciousness; this consciousness develops an abnormal condition in idiots. It is the consciousness possessed by nocturnal insects, ants, spiders and so on. We find a totally different consciousness in the case of bees. We will use the example of bees in order to show how one arrives at such truths and then can make use of them to find one's bearings in the world.
An occult schooling is something completely different from our usual schooling. It does not start by cramming into the pupils a great deal of educational matter. In a strict occult schooling the pupil receives no educational matter whatever, but is given a pregnant sentence filled with inner power. So it was also in earlier times. The pupil had to meditate on the sentence in a state of complete inner calm, through which eventually he became inwardly suffused with light, completely illuminated. When a person has advanced to the stage of seeing into his inner self, he can sink his consciousness into other beings. For this he must have gained control of the point midway between the eyes and from there direct his consciousness downward into the heart. Then he can transfer his consciousness into other things; for example, he can then investigate what lives in an ant heap. Then he can also perceive the life in a beehive. Here however a phenomenon presents itself which is otherwise not to be experienced on earth. In the way a beehive functions one experiences something which is outside our earthly existence, something which is not found anywhere else on earth. What takes place on the other planets cannot be discovered merely by thinking. One cannot for example experience what is taking place on the Sun or Venus if one is unable to transfer one's consciousness into the life and functioning of a colony of bees. The bee has not gone through the whole course of evolution as we have. From the outset it has not been connected with the same evolutionary sequence as the other animals and man. The consciousness of the beehive, not of the single bee, is immensely lofty. The wisdom of this consciousness will only be attained by man in the Venus existence. Then he will have the consciousness which is necessary in order to build with a substance which he creates out of his own being. The ants build the ant heap out of all sorts of things, but as yet build no cells. The building of cells is on higher planes something absolutely different. Through transferring one's consciousness into the beehive, through taking on the Venus consciousness, one learns something entirely different from anything else on earth, the complete recession of the element of sex. With the bees what is sexual is vested only in the one queen. The kama-sexuality is almost entirely eliminated; the drones are killed. Here we have the prototype of something which will actually be accomplished in a future humanity, when work is the highest principle. It is only through the impulse of the spirit that one gains the faculty of transferring oneself into the community of the bees.
In order to progress further, let us now come to a true concept of alchemy. As late as the 18th century one could read in the German paper ‘Reichsanzeiger’ articles on alchemy. Kortum, the poet who wrote ‘Jobsiade’ 19A comic epic poem by Karl Arnold Kortum, published in 1754. was one of the most significant alchemists of the 18th century. At that time a number of articles dealt with the so-called ‘Urmaterie’ (primal matter), bringing this into connection with the Philosopher's stone. Kortum, who was deeply immersed in these things, said at that time: To search for the Philosopher's stone is very difficult, but it is everywhere, you meet it every day, are well acquainted with it, you make use of it constantly, but do not know that it is the Philosopher's Stone. This is an apt description.
In Nature everything is ordered with infinite wisdom, with an infinitely wise economy. All living beings possessing Kama (astrality) — animals and men, and all etheric living beings — plants — are inter-related. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbonic acid. The animals do this also. Now if this were simply to continue, the air would soon be quite full of carbonic acid. But the plants assimilate carbonic acid and breathe out oxygen. Animals and men cannot live without plants. Now carbonic acid consists of carbon and oxygen. The plants retain the carbon and breathe out the oxygen. Man on the other hand takes in the oxygen and through his life processes transforms it into carbonic acid by uniting it with carbon. The plants build up their bodily form out of the carbon which they have retained.
In earlier times the appearance of the Earth was quite different from what it is now. Then, even in our districts there grew forests of gigantic ferns and horsetails, (equisetums). These disappeared. At first the Earth became covered with a layer of peat, the remains of the dead plants; then the former forests of fern and equisetums were transformed into the immense coal fields of the Earth. The rock formations developed gradually, either from the plant kingdom or the animal kingdom. When one looks at a lump of coal one can say to oneself: This was once plant. If one were to go still further back one would also be able to find the plants out of which rock-crystals, malachite and so on developed. The central zone of the Alps arose out of the primeval plants before coal. A diamond is exactly the same as a piece of coal. Nature has created the diamond from a coal still older than that which we have today. This rock crystal also has arisen out of plants.
Limestone is derived from animals. The Juras, for example, consist of such an accumulation of calcium. They were previously covered by the sea and are formed from the cast-off shells of sea-creatures. Thus the younger limestone mountains have arisen out of animals and the primeval rocks out of plants. The plant kingdom gradually passes over into the mineral kingdom. Everything solid on the earth has arisen out of a “plant-earth”. This mineralising process can be studied through the development of coal out of plants.
The mineral kingdom in its present state of separation only came into existence during the Fourth Round. After this, the entire mineral kingdom will be spiritualised by man. He transforms it with the ‘plough of his spirit’. Everything that man does today, the entire world of industry, is the transformation of the mineral kingdom. When someone quarries a rock in order to use the stones for the building of a house, when he builds a cathedral, all this changes the nature of the mineral kingdom by artificial means. In the Fourth Round man can work upon the mineral kingdom in this way. With the plant, on the contrary, he can as yet do nothing of this kind. The whole mineral kingdom will be transformed by man. To a great extent this will be brought about by oscillating electricity no longer requiring wires. Here man will be working right into the molecules and atoms. At the end of the Fourth Round he will have transformed the entire mineral kingdom.
From the Fifth Round onwards man will do the same with the plant kingdom. He will be able consciously to carry out the process which is now carried out by the plant. As the plant takes in carbonic acid and builds up its body from the carbon, so the human being of the Fifth Round will himself create his body out of the materials of his environment. Sex will cease to exist. Man will then himself have to work on his body, will have to produce it for himself. The same process of transforming carbon, which the plant now carries out unconsciously, will then be carried out consciously by man. 20See more details in The Study of Man, lecture 12 He will then transform matter just as today the plant transforms the air into carbon. That is the true alchemy. Carbon is the Philosopher's Stone. The man of the 18th century who pointed this out was indicating the transformation which is now carried out by the plants and which later will be carried out by man.
When from the higher planes one studies consciousness as it functions in the beehive, one learns how later on man will produce matter out of himself. In the future the human body will also be built up out of carbon; it will then be like a soft diamond. Then one will no longer inhabit the body from within, but will have it before one as an external body. Today the planets are built up in this way by the planetary spirits. From a being requiring a body produced by others, man will transform himself into a being who manifests himself through emanation. At that time he will consist of three members: ‘Man in the evening who goes on three’, as the Sphinx says. The original four organs have undergone metamorphosis. At first the hands were also organs of movement. Then they became organs for the spiritual. In the future only three organs will remain; the heart as Buddhi-organ, the two-petalled lotus-flower between the eyes, and the left hand as the organ of movement. This future state is also related to Blavatsky's indication (of a second spinal column). The pineal gland and the pituitary gland organise a second spinal column which later unites itself with the first. The second spinal column will descend in front from the head.
To arrive at such guiding threads as these, one must bring one's consciousness into a state of being which is at a higher level than we normally have at the present stage of earthly evolution.
All this was taught in the Mystery Schools and in a certain way, put to practical use. One must accustom oneself to developing one's way of thinking, and then one will develop in oneself a feeling that nothing is valueless, but that everything has its own inherent value. There is nothing in all Nature that we can obliterate through thinking without thereby disturbing Nature as a whole.
The ant heap also has a much higher consciousness than present-day man. The consciousness of the ant heap is to be found in the higher regions of the Mental Plane. On the other hand the consciousness of the bees is to be found in the higher regions of the Buddhi plane. How then did the ant-consciousness enter into our Earth? This took place through beings who stand higher than we do who had already gone through the process of creating their body for themselves. Males, females and workers, the three members of the ant heap, comprise the body of a higher spiritual being. The human spirit also comes gradually to the point of dividing itself into three parts. Willing, feeling and thinking become separated in the case of the esoteric pupil. The molecules of the brain divide into three groups. The esoteric pupil must then out of himself connect a definite feeling with a mental picture. When he sees suffering, in order to experience pity, he must consciously add this feeling to it. To the front of the head lies the thinking part, above, the part of feeling, to the back of the head that of willing. The esoteric pupil learns to bring these consciously into connection with one another. Later these three parts become completely separated. 21See: Knowledge of the Higher Worlds He must then control the three parts in the same way as an ant heap controls the males, females and workers.
Now we can ask why higher beings manifest themselves in an ant heap. But if formic acid had not been introduced, the whole earth would have been different. The foreseeing wisdom of Higher Intelligences was aware of the moment when formic acid had to be brought into the earth.
Thus we can gain a comprehensive understanding of the whole earth, so that we know and recognise what lives and has its being within it. This was the case with Paracelsus, who built up his concepts in such a way that he perceived how things could be used as remedies because he knew in what relationship they stood to man and his organs. For instance, Digitalis purpurea (foxglove) is connected with the heart and can therefore still be rightly used as a heart remedy. Nowadays new remedies are sought by means of experiment, in which one tests their effects on a number of people. In those days remedies were sought through intuition, because their inner connections were observed. Remedies discovered in this way always retain their effect, whereas with the others, in the course of time after-effects usually show themselves, which eluded observation when the experiments were first carried out.