Spiritual Science and Medicine
31 March 1920, Dornach
Yesterday we reached a domain very far distant from our starting point. Let us again begin with something quite concrete and material and build upon and around it. You will agree that we must approach our task indirectly and by a circuitous route, because of the shortness of our time, and because of the nature of our themes. We cannot follow the method that begins with the axioms and ascends to more and more complex ideas.
Today, I have undertaken to lead you a stage further on our way, starting from the nature of vegetable carbon, carbo vegetabilis. We have already considered the chicory, the wild strawberry and other plants; in like manner we have now to examine the attributes of this remarkable substance, which can be found almost anywhere, but is nevertheless one of the most remarkable materials in the world. This will give the most cogent illustration of the need to widen the horizon of our observations if we wish to obtain a real insight into nature.
It was most interesting to hear Dr. K. maintain in last night's lecture that the chemistry of the future must become quite different from what it is now and to note how often he used the term “Physiology” — in token of the bridge to be built between physiological and chemical science.
I was often reminded of many matters that cannot as yet be dealt with explicitly in public lectures, as a public audience still lacks the predisposition for understanding. We find carbon in extra-human nature — or in what I might term the nature that appears extra-human to man. For what in the whole of nature's immensity is really extra-human? Nothing indeed. For all that is external to our being in those portions of the world we are able to observe has been expelled or removed from man in the course of human evolution. Mankind has had to pass through stages of development only possible because certain essential processes take their course in the outer world he is faced with, and he is thus enabled to take certain other processes into himself for his own use. So that there is always a complementary polarity and kinship between certain external and certain internal processes.
I have found a remarkable inner convergence between the remarks of Dr. K. on the necessity for chemistry to become physiological and the interesting lecture of Dr. Sch. the other day on the need for a spiritually scientific concept of the aim and purpose of homeopathic preparation Perhaps I do not express this adequately, but those who have heard these lectures, especially Dr. K.'s, will grasp my meaning. His final sentences were most noteworthy. He made use of a term, with which I have been concerned for decades, a term often heard: he said that even homeopathic practitioners are somewhat afraid of becoming “mystical”; i.e., chary of being reputed mystics.
My reason for studying that subject was due to very definite opinions, which were firmly based on facts. The essential thing striven for in homeopathic treatment (do not misunderstand me, it is necessary to use somewhat drastic terms in order to state the case clearly) is not found so much in the substances employed, as in the processes to which these substances are subjected, in the course of preparing the medicaments: for example, the preparation of silicon or of vegetable carbon. The process of preparation contains the clue.
I have made many investigations into what actually happens in the attempt to prepare homeopathic remedies; including for our present purposes, and as corroborated by Dr. R., the Ritter Method (although Fräulein Ritter herself will not admit this). What does in fact occur, when homeopathic preparations are made? For it is the preparation which matters. Take, for instance, silicic acid, and treat it so as to raise its potency to a very high degree. What is it that you do? You work towards a certain point; and in nature everything is based on rhythmic processes. You work towards a certain zero point, through a scale in which the specific attributes of the substance, i.e., those which appear first of all, are revealed. Just as the spendthrift, who has a fortune and wastes it recklessly until he passes the zero point, comes to a condition in which there is no more positive fortune, but a negative factor, namely debts, so the essential qualities of external substances can be treated. We reach a zero point, where the effects of the substance in ponderable amounts are no longer perceptible. What if we proceed farther? The results do not simply vanish into nothingness; but the opposite effects are produced and are introduced into the surrounding medium. I have always had the experience of perceiving the opposite effect to what is normal to the substances in question, whatever medium was used to receive the minutely subdivided doses of the substance. This medium adopts a new configuration; just as one who changes from the status of owner to that of debtor, becomes a different factor in social life, so a substance changes to a state opposite to the normal, and imparts this condition, which was formerly hidden inside it to its environment. If a substance during its subdivision displays certain characteristics, it changes at a certain point in this subdivisional process, acquiring another character; it becomes able to permeate its environment with the former characteristics, and to activate the medium in which it is treated in the same direction.
This activating process may take various forms. The “opposite reaction” above mentioned may be directly provoked. But it may also happen that this opposite reaction may take the form of causing the substance affected to become fluorescent or phosphorescent, either later on or under exposure to light. The reaction provoked has thus taken the form of irradiation into the environment. These facts must be given due weight. There is no question here of a plunge into mysticism; it is a question of observing nature in its real activities, so as to enter into its rhythmic course even where we study the qualities of the substances. I might almost call this study a leit motiv, a main theme in the search for the effects of substances. Increase potency and you will reach a zero point; beyond that point opposite effects appear. But this is not all; the further path on the negative side leads to another zero point for these opposite effects. Passing the second zero, you will come to a higher form of efficiency tending in the same direction as the first sequence, but of quite a different nature. It would be valuable and appropriate to plot out the different effect of potencies by means of curves. But it would be necessary to construct these curves in a special manner; first to delineate a curve and then, on arriving at the point where certain lower potencies cease to work and are superseded by the working of higher potencies, to turn sharply at right-angles and continue the curve into space. We shall deal further with these subjects in this course; they are interwoven with the whole kinship of man to extra-human nature.
Let us return now to carbo vegetabilis. Anyone considering the obvious qualities of this substance would say that, if taken in large doses, vegetable carbon produces a very definite set of disease symptoms. These definite symptoms, according to the views of the homeopathist, may be combated by administering the same substance at a higher degree of potency.
The spiritual scientist views vegetable carbon as something impelling him to turn to extra-human nature and to study the nature of these carbon products, the coal deposits of the earth, which have advanced more in mineralisation. He finds that the main role of carbon in the earth process is in connection with oxygen consumption. The earth's carbon content regulates the oxygen content of the atmospheric environment. One arrives at a direct insight into the fact that the earth — as indeed must be the case — is an organism, with a function of respiration, and that the carbon content of the earth has something to do with the breath the earth draws. The kind of chemistry demanded in the lecture yesterday will only develop if — so to speak — the “coal being” is considered in connection with the respiratory function either in mankind or in animals. For in the process which links the carbonisation of the earth and the oxygen process in the atmosphere, there operates something spiritual science recognises as the tendency towards animality; yes, literally, the tendency to become animal. This tendency can only be characterised in a way sure to be found startling. For we must needs state that there is a force at work in the interactions between the carbonisation of the earth, and the processes appertaining to the oxygen content of the atmosphere, that calls for the real beings, etheric beings, which, however in contrast to the animal kingdom, are in perpetual motion away from the earth, striving away from the earth's surface. We can only begin to comprehend animality itself by considering it as something held together by the earth in reaction to this process of “de-animalisation” of the earth. The animals and their processes are the outcome of this reaction of the earth.
To introduce vegetable carbon into the human organism, is, therefore, nothing less than to introduce an element with an urgent tendency towards animality. All the symptoms that ensue, from flatulence to distensions, to ill-smelling diarrhœa and so forth, even to the formation of hæmorrhoids, and on the other hand, all manner of acute and burning pains, have this one origin. That animality which has been expelled from mankind in the course of evolution, in order that mankind might attain the full human nature, is being re-absorbed into man. So we are definitely able to say that if we give a patient vegetable carbon in large doses, we thereby urge and impel him to defend himself against the alien process of animality which has invaded him. He does so by strengthening just that principle which he owes to the expulsion of animality in the course of evolution.
This expulsion of animality in the course of evolution, is linked with another potential faculty: — it is amazing but true, that man in his organism actually produces primary light. In our upper man we really generate light independently. In the lower sphere we possess those defensive organs against complete animalisation which are necessary to enable the upper sphere to produce original light. There we have one of the profound differences between man and the animal world; the animals share the other higher spiritual processes equally with mankind; but they are not capable of generating sufficient light in their interior.
Here I must touch on what can only be called a really painful chapter of our modern natural science. However painful, this chapter cannot be concealed from you, for the simple reason that it is essential to the understanding of human relationships with the extra-human world The main obstacle to an objective assessment of the operation in the human organism of substances in general, and curative substances in particular, is the law of the so-called conservation of energy, and the law of the conservation of matter. These laws have been enunciated as universal laws of nature, but are in absolute opposition to the process of human evolution. For instance, the whole nutritive and digestive function is not what it is assumed to be in the materialist conception. This takes the view that the substances in question — let us take carbon as our example — were quite external to ourselves, before being taken in as food; this is consumed, and passed on, though modified in our organism, and re-absorbed eventually so that we carry with us, distributed though it may be, the matter taken from the world outside us. And this same matter we carry about within us. There is no difference, in this theory, between the carbon in the external world, and the carbon within our organism. But this theory is mistaken. For there is within the human organism the potentiality of completely destroying extra-human carbon through the action of the lower sphere; of expelling this substance from space and then re-creating it anew independently through reaction. Yes, it is true; within us there is a crucible for the creation of extra-human substances and at the same time a power to destroy them. Of course, the science of today will not admit this; not being able to think of the substances in any other way than as a wanderer, in microscopic amounts (restless as Ahasuerus). It knows nothing of the life of matter, of its origin, of its death, nor of how substances die and are re-born, within our human organism. This reanimation of carbon is connected with what manifests as the generation of light in normal human beings. This internal generation of light meets the operation of the light from the external world. Our upper organic sphere is designed so as to enable external light and internal light to counteract one another, to operate alternately; and it is the main factor in our human constitution that we have the power of holding these two sources of light apart, so that they only work upon each other, without being welded into one another. Let us suppose that we are standing exposed to the light from the external world, receiving it either through our eyes, or through our whole skin. There is a screen, so to speak, between the internal, inherent light within us and the light that operates from without. This external light has actually only the value of an activator for the generation of internal light; thus in letting light pour upon us from outside we activate ourselves to produce inner light.
Now examine this whole process some way further. Consider the region in us which is engaged in the decomposition of carbonic substances. This comprises the kidneys and the whole urinary apparatus and all the related organs situated above the kidneys. We approach the renal process within man, if we envisage the process associated with carbon in extra-human nature. And concurrently we find the way in which to apply substances such as vegetable carbon to man. First let us take the minor forms of illness and reason as follows: we have first and foremost in vegetable carbon, the possibility of counteracting that animalisation in man which provokes nausea: and all the diseased phenomena for which dosage with vegetable carbon is indicated, are forms of nausea, and that nausea continued into the interior regions of our bodies. Against the processes there in operation and their products, the effective polar opposite process is the function of the kidney system. Thus if the patient exhibits the symptoms that can be artificially provoked by heavy dosage of vegetable carbon, you can stimulate and promote the whole kidney process with higher potencies of vegetable carbon and in this way counteract the particular diseased process which resembles the effect of vegetable carbon upon man. Thus it must be essential to consider the response of all renal activities to the increase of potencies of this remedy.
The kidney process may also operate in such a way as to accentuate its polarity to the digestive process; that is to say that in the case of a disturbed digestion (the result of the symptoms distinctive of vegetable carbon) the polar effect appears, of the morbid process in the diseased digestion in the intestine. In short, the result and reactions of administering vegetable carbon, are in opposition, on the one hand, to the generation of light. You will realise the meaning of these comments, if you visualise the following conditions. Here, then, is the earth, (see Diagram 21) surrounded by air, and over or outside the atmosphere is something different again. The outer layer beyond the atmosphere is first of all what may be described as a sort of warmth mantle round the earth. If we could ascend straight from the earth through the atmosphere, we should enter a zone of very different warmth conditions, surprisingly different from what we know on the earth's surface. At a certain distance from the earth in space, the contents of this warmth sphere perform much the same office as the atmosphere itself within and below that zone. What of the region beyond? Here (see Diagram 21) we represent the extra-telluric warmth sphere, and here the atmosphere; and beyond, the polar complement of the atmosphere, a region wherein conditions are the complete opposite of those within the atmosphere. In that region, in a state of — if I may coin the word — de-aeration, where the very existence of air is annulled, is the source of what shoots up through the de-aeration and is sent towards us as light.
It is a grave error to suppose that our light on earth comes from the sun. That is only a somewhat fatal fantasy on the part of physicists and astronomers. Our light on earth comes from this outer zone. There it springs up, there it is generated, there it grows as plants grow in the soil of the earth. And so we are entitled to say: if man has the power to generate original light of his own, it is due to the power he has reserved to his own formative process, to execute something that is done — apart from him — only in this upper and outer region; he bears the source of an extra-telluric activity within himself. This cosmic source of power operates on the whole of plant life as well as upon mankind; but it affects the vegetable world from outside, whereas man holds something within, which links him with this upper sphere. (See Diagram 21).
Now let us ask ourselves; suppose we approach the earth more closely than the atmospheric envelope — do we then penetrate again into man, by that way? Yes: for as we approach the earth out of the atmosphere, we come to all that is fluid, to the watery element, and we may correctly envisage a fluid zone beneath the zone of air. The fluid zone has also its counterpart, which lies beyond the light-generating stratum. There again, all conditions are the polar opposites of those obtaining in the watery belt round the earth; and there, too, forces spring to life and operate on the earth, as light is born in and operates from the zone immediately below. There are the chemical forces working down into the earth, and it is an absurdity to seek for the chemical effects observed on earth, in the various substances themselves. (See Diagram 21). You will seek them there in vain. They come down to meet the earth from these regions outside.
But again man bears within him something analogous to this extra-telluric region. If I may so express it — man contains a “chemicator.”
He has within him something of the celestial sphere that contains the source of chemical action. And this function is highly localised in us, in the liver. I ask you to study the remarkable scope of the functional activity of the liver. On the one hand, it exercises what I might call a form of suction, determining the composition of the blood; and on the other hand, by means of the secretion of the gall, it regulates the process leading to blood formation. Consider these manifold activities; and you will have to recognise something which, if carefully studied, leads to a proper chemical science. For the external chemistry of outer science is not to be found on earth; it is a reflection only of the extra human “chemical sphere” above. But there is a means of studying this extra-telluric sphere in all the wonderful workings of the human liver.
Now let us return to vegetable carbon and its “internal” attributes, by combining vegetable carbon with the alkalis, for instance with potassium itself (Kali Carbonicum), and studying the resultant effects on the human organism. All alkaline substances (of the nature of lye) operate towards the interior of the organism, affecting the processes of the liver; whilst all substances akin to vegetable carbon tend to affect the kidneys and urinary tract. We shall be able to trace a distinct interaction between all that is of the nature of lye and all the processes associated with the liver. Careful study of such substances would prove that, just as all carbonic substance is linked with “animalisation,” so all that is akin to lye, is associated with the “vegetable tendency” in man and with the casting off of the vegetable kingdom from mankind.
In previous lectures, I have pointed to a process which can help us read the human processes from the activities of Nature. I have referred to what we may simply term the formative process of the oyster shell. In that process, we pass from the resultant of combining carbon with potassium, to the combination with calcium. But the effects that would follow the combination of carbon and calcium, without any third element, are much modified by the powerful phosphoric forces at work in the oyster shell. All these forces are mingled in the oyster shell with certain others, found in the marine environment. And the consideration of the formation of these shells, leads us a step further into the relationship between external nature and man. Let us pass downwards through the watery zone round the earth, (see Diagram 21) and come to the actual earth formation, to what we might term the solidification. (We should not have any hesitation today in referring to earth, water, air and fire — if the terms linked in association had not become unfashionable and unpopular, as having been used by ignorant folk of old! But among ourselves, surely, we are at liberty to refer to these things.) This solid structure of earth has also its counterpart in the cosmos; and this is the realm of vitalisation, the source of all life formation. The vital forces come to us from a further distance even than the chemical, and within the extra-human earth — that is in the “earthly sphere” proper — they are completely killed. (See Diagram 21).
Moreover, our earth would come to exuberant growth and would form ebullient living outgrowths of carcinomatous nature, if this hypertrophy were not checked by the workings of the extra-telluric Mercury (the planet) which develops the mercurial process. It is of value, even once to have realised and thought over this matter. The formative force active in earth formation, in the formation of earth substance, we may see retarded as it were, held back at an earlier stage, in the formation of the oyster shell. The Oyster shell is withheld from becoming part of the earth's structure, by its ancient and persistent link with the sea, and thus preserves the formative earth process at a more primitive stage when it solidifies. Earthworms cannot do this as they have no shell. But the same forces proceed from them ceaselessly and therefore it is entirely true to say that if there were no earthworms, there would be no formative forces inside the earth. These worms play a leading role in the process of earth formation. The whole world of the earthworms represents something that passes beyond the formation of the oyster's shell, and has just as much a relationship to the whole earth as the oyster shell. And so the shell formation is suppressed and there arises instead the processes in arable soil and all related processes.
In seeking for the next process, situated still more deeply in the interior of man than that related to the chemical forces and the liver, we come to another human organ — no other than the lungs. The lungs have a dual aspect and office in the human body. The lungs are, of course, the organs of respiration. But however strange this may sound, they are organs of respiration only in what I might term their external aspect. They are at the same time regulators of the internal — the deeply internal — process of earth formation within man. If we follow a way passing from outside the body inward, beginning with the nutritive and digestive process, through the successive formative processes of kidneys, liver and finally lungs: — i.e., to the actual internal formative process of the lungs, apart from their function of drawing breath — and if we examine this process, we find the polar opposite of that which manifests in the oyster as shell formation. The human constitution has interiorised in the formative process of the lungs that which lies outside and above the chemical zone (See Diagram 21) in the outer universe.
Consider the actual symptoms in man, following certain effects of calcium carbonate, and you will again see the strong resemblance and relationship to those activities essential to the vital processes of the lungs in which they manifest their separate life. It is, of course, difficult to distinguish these activities from those entirely ruled by the process of respiration. So it is especially necessary to bear in mind that the lungs serve the human constitution in two directions and in two ways: they have a functional office towards the external world, and a functional office towards the internal as well. Degenerative conditions of the lungs must be sought in processes similar to those proper to shell formation in oysters or similar creatures, such as, for instance, the shell structure of snails.
Today we have approached yesterday's theme from the other side, as it were. The circle we completed yesterday was more perfect, but we shall continue and hope to complete today's line of reasoning in the succeeding lectures. We have learnt to see the activities of kidneys, liver and lungs respectively as the counterparts to the external activities in the air, in water and in solid earth. The aerial activities correspond to all that appertains to the kidney system in its widest sense, including all the urinary functions. The innermost part of this functional system, the kidney itself, is connected with the air supply and thus shortness of breath can arise and this symptom you will note among the after effects of dosage with vegetable carbon. So we may say that the deeper causes of respiratory disturbance and shortness of breath, must be sought for in the kidney system.
All that is associated with the fluid (watery) element has its deeper causation in the liver system. Just as the shortness of breath and its regulation are associated with the kidneys, thirst is associated with the liver. It would be an interesting investigation, to study the interactions of the various qualities and peculiarities of thirst in man, with the operations of the liver. And the manifestations of hunger and all its accessory symptoms are intimately connected with the internal condition of the lungs, with their internal metabolism as it were. On the one hand, of course, hunger, thirst and the need to draw breath, are associated with the ponderable factors, air, water and earth. With their counterparts in the cosmos many other factors are associated. It is understandable, for instance, that if we need the activating stimulating influence of light — because the force within us that generates the “juvenile,” original light has abated, we can best obtain such stimulation from light itself. This is the justification of the light treatment. But light-baths are not always exactly and only light-baths, and this “not only” is important. They are really an exposure to the powers of the chemical zone, an exposure much greater in extent than is normal in the course of our daily life. The really effective factor in most light-baths, is the external “chemism” pouring earthwards concurrently with light itself. And behind the chemical forces, as may be seen in the rough sketch plan before us, (see Diagram 22) are aligned the vital forces themselves, which are also in attendance, as it were, if man is exposed to increased light and increased chemical influence. Thus both the action of chemical forces and the action of vital forces, carried by the light, are extraordinarily beneficial, provided always — and this is all important — the dose is correctly estimated, and care is taken to avoid excessive exposure.
One final comment; you surely need no longer find it strange that current natural science has not succeeded in forming a conception of the genesis of life itself. For in all the regions in which current natural science conducts its search, there is only life's polar opposite, thanks to the action of Mercury; there is only death. Life must be sought outside the earth, in regions into which contemporary natural science is not willing to go. Contemporary science refuses to enter the extra-telluric region. And if it cannot be avoided — well, then, that too is interpreted in materialistic terms. There has been a very fine translation into materialism of the operation of extra-telluric vital forces. It runs as follows; the germs of life have been brought to our earth from other celestial bodies. So these germs of life have been brought through all distances and hindrances, with such beautiful efficiency, to appear safe on earth at last; and indeed some scientists have believed meteors and meteorites to have been the high-powered motor cars that brought them here! You see, people actually think that anything can be explained by means of such a materialistic theory. People are used to shift the explanation of phenomena observable on the visible (macroscopic) scale into the microscopic or ultra-microscopic realm, in theories of molecules and atoms; so they believe they have also explained life simply through shifting its origin to another place.