28 April 1923, Prague
When, out of that existence which is called the pre-earthly, the human being first grows through the germinal state into the physical-earthly life, we then see how in his physical existence the spiritual nature, which is at first hidden, begins to assert itself Out of the physical body; how the child sleeps, as it were, into the physical-earthly world. We see that the life of the child in its relation with the surrounding world is still a kind of dreaming; that it only gradually awakes. Threefold, however, do we find is that which the child manifests at especially conspicuous points in the stages of this awaking. Indeed, something of this threefoldness is observed with that intimate joy, that devoted love, with which one who is in the full sense a human being always observes a child. But the full significance of this threefoldness really becomes clear to one only when it is possible through spiritual science to observe the spiritual life in the physical-corporeal existence. This threefoldness is the learning to walk, learning to speak, learning to think. You know that the human being passes through this threefoldness in an age like the springtime of life. Such is this meaningful order of occurrence. We shall soon see why it must be this meaningful succession. It can, as a matter of fact, be different, but the succession according to nature is just this.
Learning to walk is something which, in an utterly one-sided manner, points to a series of things that the child achieves at the same time. The child enters into the world in such a way that it is in a state of equilibrium utterly unlike that in which it later moves about in the world. There is associated with this at the same time the right use of the arms and the right placing of the human organism in a posture suitable for man in his relation with the world, in the capacity for movement in relation with the world suitable for the human being, in the capacity for movement suited to the human being in the earthly existence. This is what the child must first learn. Out of what the human being acquires in the mobility of his organism there proceeds what adapts him to the equilibrium of the solid, the fluid, the gaseous. In all of this lies the basis for something else. While the human being is undertaking all this activity — learning to walk, learning balance, learning to use the arms and hands and fingers — these movements, which take place in his entire system, are working upward into the system which is the basis for human speech. This tenses the muscles, causes the blood to flow, exercises an influence upon the etheric body, works over into those physical, etheric, astral organs of breathing, proceeds further exerting a certain plastic activity in the brain. One might say that it passes beyond into those organs which, out of the inner human being, bring about speaking through imitation of the surroundings. Language is the transposition of movement and transposition of balance. One who can bring reality into cognition through beholding the actuality of the soul-spiritual sees how dexterity — not the achieved, but the striving that the child must exercise in order to gain the dexterity practiced by the hand in grasping — works onward into the melodious element of language. What is rhythm in language comes to expression in the manner in which the feet are set down in the movement of walking. It is of much significance to observe whether the child, in learning to walk, steps on the heel, the ball of the foot, or the toes. Out of speech there grows what darts forth out of the human being as childish thinking. Walking, speaking, thinking, — all of this evolves out of that dim, dreamy state of consciousness. When the human being is born, and is not yet able to do these things, the force is none the less within the child in the last after-effects of its presence in the pre-earthly existence. Spiritual science can show us how this exists in the pre-earthly life. The earliest sounds of language are not such as manifest thinking, but proceed out of bodily comfort or discomfort.
How did walking, speaking, thinking appear in the pre-earthly life? Thinking, as it flows out of the child, — one who observes the manifestation of this thinking, as he traces it backward, finds that it disappears in an indefinite darkness. It emerges again in the very last period before the earthly birth. There one sees the human spirit-soul being in spiritual intercourse with that host of Beings described in my Occult Science as Angels. This is an intercourse which may be described by saying that thoughts are not being conceived and expressed abstractly, but that a living stream of thought is flowing here and there from one Being to another: there is living intercourse with the Angels. Out of what has flowed into the human soul in the form of a force, there develops something which is slept through, as it were, during the germinal life but later becomes manifest as the force of thinking, conceiving. This we possess in order to enter rightly into intercourse with human beings. Just think what we should be if we were not thinking beings, what we should be as human beings together! All that we are as human beings together results from the fact that we are thinking beings. Here on this earth we mutually understand one another in the relation of man to man by means of the thinking which we express in speech. This manner in which we understand one another here by means of thinking, — this we have acquired out of the pre-earthly intercourse with the Angels. This intercourse which we there practice with the Angels can be practiced also with other human beings who are there in the pre-earthly existence. This takes the form of direct speaking in thoughts. Loftier, however, is the intercourse with the hierarchy of the Angels, since this affords not only satisfaction for the soul but a force which reappears in the thinking that the child acquires in the third stage of his earthly life.
Let us consider now the second stage, that of language. This is not so completely bound up with the sense-nerve system as is thinking. Speaking is bound up with the breast system, man's rhythmic system, with that which comes to expression in breathing, in blood circulation. When that which there struggles out of the child, imitating in language the outer world, is traced back to the pre-earthly life, we find that these forces are acquired out of intercourse he is permitted to experience during the pre-earthly existence with the second hierarchy, that of the Archangels, those Beings who rule over peoples, Beings with this responsibility for the very reason that they have the relation with human beings which we have just described. These forces acquired by the human being in relation with the Archangels sink down into night and come again to manifestation in the forces of the earthly life of speech, by means of which we have mutual understanding with other human beings. Without language, what should we be as human beings in mutual association if we could not pour forth in the coarser vibration of the air, which manifest speech, the ether vibrations of thought? That our rhythmic system becomes the bearer of a denser manifestation, — this force we receive from the Hierarchy of the Archangels. And thus can we follow this process as we go back to the pre-earthly existence; we can say not only in abstract ways that man lives there among spiritual Beings, but can declare in an entirely specific manner what this or that class of Beings has bestowed upon us for the life on earth. We thank these spiritual Beings — that is, we place ourselves in a right relation with these Beings — when we say: For my thinking, I thank the Angels; for language, I thank the Archangels.
Let us go back now to the first thing that the child learns: to walk, learning a balanced posture. There is more connected with this than is usually thought. Connected with it is the bringing about by the ego of a specific physical process which changes man from a creeping to a walking being. It is the ego that erects the human being; the astral body that is at work within the feeling for speech in the erect being; the etheric body that permeates all of this with the force of thinking. But all of these work into the physical body. When we consider the animal, which has its back parallel with the surface of the earth, its action, its walking, its behavior — everything that proceeds out of the astral — is utterly unlike these things in man, who is a being with volition acting out of his upright, vertical nature. What comes about in man, taking place in the ego, astral body, etheric body, — all of this is in the physical body a sort of combustion process. Here is a point where our physical science, if it was desirous of fulfilling itself, would be able to discover its union with Anthroposophy. It must be said that the combustion processes in man are altogether different from those in the animal. When the flame of the organic being works horizontally, it destroys what comes out of conscience; there cannot work into this what is derived from the moral out of conscience. The fact that, in the case of the human being, these processes are streamed through by the conscience is due to the fact that the flame of volition in man is perpendicular to the earth. Within this striking in of the moral, of the nature of conscience, the child places himself just as into the external posture of balance. Together with the learning to walk, there darts into man the moral human nature — indeed, the religious permeation of the nature of man. These are truly lofty forces which are there at work when the child passes over from the creeping to the walking movement. These forces, if we follow them back through the darkness of the child's consciousness, lead us to a still loftier association of man with the Beings whom we call the Primal Forces, the Archai. Everything through which the human being has passed in the pre-earthly life is here reactivated. If to the prayer-like formula, for my thinking I thank the Angels, for language I thank the Archangels, we wish to attach a third unit, we must say: For my being placed within the earthly existence according to physical and moral forces, I thank the Archai — who have been endowed with this power by still loftier Beings.
And now we can answer the question for ourselves: How is it that the human being, who possessed a brilliant consciousness before birth, brings with him here a dull consciousness? Indeed, into this consciousness there dips down what we can combine under the concepts of walking capacity, speaking capacity, thinking capacity, which we have received into ourselves from the higher Hierarchies to be transformed by us. We see thus that what makes us human beings, that through which we are human beings among human beings, manifests our connection with the loftier divine-spiritual worlds. Into these divine-spiritual worlds we enter again and again in a certain way during our earthly existence. The truth is that we must say to ourselves: For the real nature of man, the state of sleep, out of which dreams come into play, is at least just as significant as the waking state. When man passes over from the waking state to the state of sleep, these three capacities that have been acquired in the manner described begin to grow silent: conceiving, speaking, action all grow silent. But we see then that, as thinking grows silent when we fall asleep, the human being, in the same degree in which thought disappears from his consciousness, comes near to the Angels, and, as his speaking capacity comes to an end, he approaches the Archangelic Beings. In the degree to which the human being has entered into complete stillness, he passes through the quieting of his activity into proximity with the Primal Beings, the Archai.
What is important, however, is that we should enter during the sleeping state in a worthy manner into proximity with these three hierarchies: that we come close to the Angels, Archangels, Archai in a worthy way during the state of sleep. Here is the point at which one would have to speak in a special manner to the human beings of the present time; for the manner in which we enter into proximity with the Angels depends very much upon the manner of one's thinking during the waking state. The manner in which man uses worthily his speaking forces determines whether he comes worthily near to the Archangels; the way in which man uses rightly his capacity for movement and his moral sense determines whether he comes worthily near to the Archai.
We are living in a time when the human being is no longer willing to have in his thinking anything extending beyond the physical world, when he desires to be stimulated by the external world. A pure, self-sustained thinking, such as I recommended more than thirty years ago in my Philosophy of Freedom as the foundation for moral intuition, — such thinking, unfortunately, is sought but little at present and but little cultivated in children. But through such thinking, which Goethe and Schiller would still have called idealistic thinking, — through such thinking one breaks free from the mere waking world in earthly existence and retains something for the sleeping state. So much power do we possess for approaching the Angels during sleep as there is idealism in our thinking. And just as helpless are we for the steps we must take toward the Angels as materialism is at work in our thinking. In the same sense it is to be observed that those persons fall victims to Ahrimanic elemental spirits — to which then their thinking is forced to turn — who do not, through idealism developed during the waking state, find the forces for drawing near to the Angelic Beings. It is so very beautiful when the child has learned to think so directly, in a manner of which human beings no longer form any conception! The thinking of the child just after it has learned to think is filled with spirituality. It is wonderful to see how — up to the time when they have been nibbled at by materialism — children upon sleeping move immediately as if on wings toward their Angelic Being, how united they become during sleep with the Angelic Beings. Thus we may say that we seek during sleep — but only through idealism, through spiritualizing the realm of thoughts — those worlds out of which we have evolved in order to learn to think here as human beings together with human beings.
And when we consider language, idealism in one's disposition has the same significance for intercourse during sleep with the Archangels as idealism in thinking has for association with the Angels. The person who is able, when addressing his words to another person, to stream good will into these words, a good mood that passes over into the soul of the other person, which does not pass by the other person but penetrates into him with the interest that one may have for a human being, — that mood which may be called an idealistic mood of good will, it is this that, when astral body and ego have passed over into sleep, gives to language the melodious sound. This gives to astral body and ego, which also share in language, the capacity to come near to the Archangelic Beings, whereas it is the unsocial, egotistic attitude of mind which scatters these forces in the realm of the Ahrimanic elemental beings. Thus the human being, when he falls asleep, and has not used language in the right, idealistic manner, really dehumanizes himself.
Such is the situation likewise when our actions, our conduct is such as to be humanly friendly, but is also fully aware that the human being is not only that entity living in flesh, but in his inner nature is a spiritual being, for out of this awareness arises respect for the other person likewise as a spiritual being. It is out of action based upon this attitude that we gain for the sleeping state the power that brings us in the right manner close to the Archai, whereas, if we are not in a condition to perform humanly kind actions, if we are aware of our own nature only as bodily, the corresponding forces are then scattered in the realm of Ahrimanic elemental Beings: we alienate ourselves from the very nature of man.
Thus the human being brings three kinds of gifts out of the pre-earthly existence, but it is in this way that he connects these again in a threefold manner with his primordial form between sleeping and waking, while he remains unconscious, but returns again and again into proximity with these Beings. This, then, is just as we here on earth have to form our association with other human beings out of three sources: the source of thought, of speech, of action. Thus are we during sleep in a threefold relation with the spiritual world: with the Angels, with the Archangels, with the Primal Forces.
The nature of our link in association with these Beings is of determinative significance when we pass through the portal of death. For it is possible to know through spiritual vision that one is able to draw ever nearer to the Angels, the Archangels, the Beings of the Archai. But it is something which may become extremely bad for future human beings if they surrender themselves wholly to the Ahrimanic elemental Beings, if materialistic thinking, speaking, action become ever more habitual. Thanks to the spiritual world, however, human souls of the present time — at least as to most persons — have such an inheritance of a good mood in thinking, speaking and action that the materialism of the present time cannot degrade everything. Very materialistic persons do not possess out of the contemporary life on earth much that can render possible approach to the hierarchies, yet out of the life of the past there flows forth what brings them there. Yet humanity may very easily meet with a different reward if a spiritual conception of life is not acquired. The idealizing of thinking, speaking and action provides man with the possibility of creating in a certain way new connections with the three classes of divine-spiritual Beings — the Angels, the Archangels, the Archai — and this man needs for the time between death and a new birth. Otherwise, in a far future time, if he has not had a connection in the present time with the Angels, he must be born as a being crippled in thinking; if he has not entered into a union with the Archangels, as a man without language; if he has not had a connection with the Archai, as a being crippled in limbs and in moral impulses. It is within the power of mankind on earth, through materialism in civilization and culture, to drag the whole of earthly humanity down to ruin, or through spiritualizing to lift humanity to a loftier height, such as I described in my Occult Science as the Jupiter existence of the earthly beings.
It is simply true that Anthroposophy is not a theory: every word, every thought passes over into our whole spiritual human nature. We cannot do otherwise than to possess the thought: you are truly a crippled person if you do not possess the right relation with the Higher Beings. This gives us the right sense of responsibility in a moral relation with the spiritual world, and it is out of this that there comes about in man a right sense of responsibility in relation also with the physical world. Only thus does it arise. When you consider what thus occurs to the human being, how through idealism in his thinking he enters into proximity with the Angels, how through his words, through the idealistic attitude expressed in his speaking, he enters into proximity with the Archangels, how through the idealism embodied in his actions he draws near to the Archai — how during sleep he struggles upward to the three Hierarchies — you will then find intelligible what anthroposophical research discloses to us: that the constitution of human destiny is woven in this way. All of this we carry through the portal of death, and it later becomes conscious. After death we must form our thoughts in association with the Angels; it is through the disposition of mind we possess that we must acquire our concepts after death. The manner in which we take our place through language in the midst of mankind gives us the capacity, the power, to enter into association with the Archangels. Through the manner in which we use our limbs must we gain the possibility of possessing self-consciousness after death through association with the Archai. Thus do we enter livingly within and thus is that woven which develops into a clearer power of consciousness between death and a new birth.
If we now observe the child during the earliest years of life, we behold the preceding earthly existence in its after effects. We see not only into the preceding pre-earthly life, but also the preceding life on earth, and thus only does one gain a view for the entire life on earth. One observes the child, how it learns to walk, to use its arms; one observes whether it steps on the ball of the foot or on the heel. Not only does one notice how it directs its physical look, but how still earlier actions are carried out with delicacy, with tenderness, with a pitying heart, how this gives to the child in this life a firm tread, how an insecure, wavering step is the outcome of brutish, pitiless action in the previous life. Every step taken by the child, the striving for this or that forming of the tread, reveals to us how this forming is the outcome of the previous life on earth. We learn to recognize the physical as the image of what is living in the child as a moral impulse out of the previous life on earth. The most impressive thing that can be observed is the learning to walk. Human freedom comes about through the fact that man is born with his destiny as little interfered with as whether he has light or dark hair.
The primary measure of destiny is expressed in the learning to walk. In learning to speak, something else is really indicated. This also is in relation with the pre-earthly existence, but it is difficult to describe. Since it is difficult to characterize, I shall express this in popular language. When the human being passes through the portal of death, he has in a certain way formed his nature morally. Always during the sleeping state he has been weaving his own being, and what he has then woven he himself begins to see. What a person is, comes to manifestation in his learning to walk. When he has passed through the portal of death, he enters in the right manner into association with the Angels, Archangels, Archai, but something further is added to this which the person receives from the second group of the hierarchies. These stream into this person, as an additional, more impersonal karma, that which places him in his next life within a specific language, integrates him within a certain body of people. Individual destiny is connected with what the person is in relation with the Archai. Capacity for speaking we receive from the Archangels. But what language we learn, — this is received from far loftier Beings: the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes.
When we consider thinking, conceiving, this is in relation, as I have shown, with the Angels; these Beings can bestow upon man the gift of thinking. This capacity, however, man achieved first in the earth period of evolution; he did not possess it during the Moon period. In this way there comes about a development for the Angels themselves; they enter thus into relation with the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. They have gained in this way the capacity for a direct association with the Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim, and these do not bestow a capacity which is to be shared only within a single human group, but one to be shared by the whole of humanity. Thinking is really something belonging in common to the whole of humanity. For this reason is logic identical over the whole earth. Walking, in which personal destiny is expressed, we receive from the Archai, out of their own forces. The capacity for speaking is received by the human being from the Archangels, but these are directed in this by the second group of the hierarchies. It is from the Angels that the human being receives the gift of thinking, but these bestow this upon man under the influence of the highest hierarchies.
Thus are things woven in the cosmic order, and man is understood only when he is clearly seen in this relation of being interwoven with the cosmic order. In this way one understands, not only the single person, but also the nature of a living or dying branch of language, a deficient or a perfect capacity for thinking. Man exists on earth in a certain dualistic relation. He sees entities and sees them in a certain dependency under natural laws. In relation with these, man comes to a consciousness of his own relation with the Godhead. Here on this earth there is no relation between the physical and the moral cosmic order. But, when we look back into the life before birth and that after death, we then enter into a world where these two realms are merged into one. Moreover, a human being cannot determine rightly what he himself is unless he is in a position to see truly into himself as a spiritual being. Man does not acquire a unitary world view unless he can see beyond birth and death, if he does not look into the higher worlds. In order to understand his entire, total being, man needs a consciousness permeated by knowledge of his connection with the spiritual world.