21 March 1911, Prague
We shall encounter again and again, in the course of our reflections, the difficulty of keeping in our mind's eye ever more exactly the exterior organism of man, in order that we may learn to know the transitory, the perishable. But we shall also see that this very road will lead us to a knowledge of the imperishable, the eternal in human nature. Also it will be necessary, in order to attain this goal, to sustain the effort of looking upon the exterior human organism in all reverence, as a revelation of the spiritual world.
When once we have permeated ourselves in some measure with spiritual-scientific concepts and feelings, we shall come quite easily to the thought that the human organism in its stupendous complexity must be the most significant expression, the greatest and most important manifestation, of those forces which live and weave as Spirit throughout the world. We shall, indeed, have to find our way upward ever more and more from the outer to the inner.
We have already seen that external observations, both from the point of view of the layman and from that of the scientific inquirer, must lead us to look upon man in a certain sense as a duality. We have characterised this duality of the human being — only hastily yesterday, to be sure, for we shall have to go into this still more accurately — as being enclosed within the protecting bony sheath of the skull and the spinal vertebrae. We have seen that, if we ascend beyond the exterior form of this part of man, we may gain a preliminary view of the connection between the life which we call our waking life of day, and that other life, in the first place very full of uncertainty for us, which we call the life of dreams. And we have seen that the external forms of that portion of human nature which we have described give us a kind of image, signify in a way a revelation, on the one hand of dream-life, the chaotic life of pictures; and on the other hand the waking day life, which is endowed with the capacity to observe in sharp outlines.
To-day we shall first cast a fleeting glance over that part of the human duality which may be found outside the region we had in mind yesterday. Even the most superficial glance over this second portion of the human being can teach us that this portion really presents a picture in a certain respect the opposite of the other one. In the brain and the spinal cord we have the bony formation as the outer circumference, the covering. If we consider the other portion of man's nature, we are surely obliged to say that here we have the bony formation disposed rather more within the organs. And yet this would be only a very superficial observation. We shall be carried deeper into the construction of this other portion of man's nature if, for the moment, we keep the most important systems of organs apart one from another, and compare them, first, outwardly, with what we learned yesterday.
The systems of organs, or systems of instruments, of the human organism to be considered first in this connection, must be the apparatus of nutrition and all that lies between this apparatus and that wonderful structure the heart, which we readily experience as a sort of central point of the whole human organism... And here even a superficial glance shows us at once that these systems of instruments, especially the apparatus of nutrition as we may call it in everyday speech, are intended to take in the substances of our external, earthly world and prepare them for further digestive work in the physical organism of man. We know that this apparatus of digestion begins by extending downward from the mouth, in the form of a tube, to the organ which everyone knows as the stomach. And a superficial observation teaches us that, from those articles of food which are conveyed through this canal into the stomach, the portions which are to a certain extent unassimilated are simply excreted, whereas other portions are carried over by the remaining digestive organs into the organism of the human body.
It is also well known that, adjoining the actual digestive apparatus in the narrower sense of the term, and for the purpose of taking over from it in a transformed condition the nutritive substances with which it has been supplied, is what we may call the lymph-system. I shall at this point speak merely in outline. We may repeat accordingly that, adjoining the apparatus of nutrition in so far as this is attached chiefly to the stomach, there is this system of organs called the lymph-system, consisting of a number of canals, which in their turn spread over the whole body; and that this system takes over, in a certain way, what has been worked over by the rest of the digestive apparatus, and delivers it into the blood.
And then we have the third of these systems of organs, the blood-vessel system itself, with its larger and smaller tubes extending throughout the entire human organism and having the heart as the central point of all its work. We know also that, going out from the heart, those blood-vessels or blood-filled vessels which are called arteries, convey the blood to all parts of our organism; that the blood goes through a certain process in the separate parts of the human organism, and then is carried back to the heart by means of other similar vessels which bring it back, however, in a transformed condition as so called “blue blood” in contrast to its red state. We know that this transformed blood, no longer useful for our life, is conducted from the heart into the lungs; that it there comes into contact with the oxygen taken up from the outer air; and that, by means of this, it is renewed in the lungs and conducted back again to the heart, to go its way afresh throughout the whole human organism.
If we are to consider these systems in their completeness, in order to have in our external method of observation a foundation for the occult method, let us begin by holding to that system which must, at the very outset, obviously be for everyone the central system of the entire human organism, namely, the blood-and-heart system. Let us, moreover, keep in mind that after the stale blood has been freshened in the lungs, transformed from blue blood into red blood, it returns once more to the heart and then goes out again from the heart as red blood, to be used in the organism. Notice, that everything which I intend to draw will be in mere outline, so that we shall be dealing only with sketches.
Let us now briefly recall that the human heart is an organ which, properly speaking, consists in the first place of four parts or chambers, so separated by interior walls that one can distinguish between the two larger spaces lying below and the two smaller ones lying above, the two lower ones being the ventricles, as they are generally called, and the two upper ones the auricles. I shall not speak about the “valves” to-day, but shall rather call attention, quite sketchily, to the course of the most important organic activities. And here, to begin with, one thing is clear: after the blood has streamed out of the left auricle into the left ventricle, it flows off through a large artery and from this point is conducted through the entire remainder of the organism. Now, let us bear in mind that this blood is first distributed to every separate organ of the whole organism; that it is then used up in this organism so that it is changed into the so-called blue blood, and as such returns to the right auricle of the heart; and that from there it flows into the right ventricle in order that it may go out again from this into the lungs, there again to be renewed and take a fresh course throughout the organism.
When we begin to visualise all this it is important, as a basis for an occult method of study, that we also add the fact that what we may call a subsidiary stream branches out from the aorta very near the heart; that this subsidiary stream leads to the brain, thus providing for the upper organs, and from there leads back again in the form of stale blood into the right auricle; and that it is there transformed, as blood which has passed through the brain, so to speak, in the same way as that blood is transformed which comes from the remaining members of the organism. Thus we have a smaller, subsidiary circuit of the blood, in which the brain is inserted, separate from the other main circuit which provides for the entire remaining organism. Now, it is of extraordinary importance for us to bear this fact in mind. For we can only arrive at an important conception, affording us a basis for everything that will enable us to ascend to occult heights, if at this point we first ask ourselves the following question: In the same way in which the upper organs are inserted in the smaller circuit, is there something similar inserted within the circuit of the blood which provides for the rest of the organism. Here we come, as a matter of fact, to a conclusion which even the external, superficial method of study can supply, that is, that there is inserted in the large circuit of the blood the organ we call the spleen; that further on is inserted the liver; and, still further on, the organ which contains the gall prepared by the liver.
Now, when we ask about the functions of these organs, external science answers by saying that the liver prepares the gall; that the gall flows out into the digestive canal, and takes part in digesting the food in such a way that this may then be taken up by the lymph-system and conducted over into the blood. Much less, however, does external science tell us with regard to the spleen, the third of the organs here considered as inserted in the main circuit. When we reflect upon these organs, we must first give attention to the fact that they have to occupy themselves with the preparation of the nutritive matter for the human organism; but that, on the other hand, they are all three inserted as organs into the circulatory course of the blood. It is not without reason that they are thus inserted, for, in so far as nutritive matter is taken up into the blood, to be conveyed by means of the blood to the human organism in order to continuously supply this with substances for its up-building, these three organs take part in the whole process of working over this nutritive matter.
Now arises the question: Can we already draw some sort of conclusion, from an external aspect, as to just how these organs take part in the joint activity of the human organism? Let us first fix our attention on this one external fact, namely, that these organs are inserted into the lower circulatory course of the blood in the same way in which the brain is inserted into the upper course; and let us now see for a moment, while first actually holding to this external method of study, which must later be deepened, whether it is possible that these organs really have a task similar to that of the brain. At the same time, wherein may such a task consist?
Let us begin by considering the upper portions of the human organism. It is these that receive the sense-impressions through the organs of sense, and work over the material contained in our sense-perceptions. We may say, therefore, that what takes place in the human head, in the upper part of the organism, is a working over of those impressions which flow in from outside through the sense-organs; and that what we may describe as the cause of everything that takes place in these upper parts is to be found in its essence in the external impressions or imprints. And, since these external impressions send their influences, together with what results from these influences in the working over of the outer impressions, into the upper organs of the organism, they therefore change the blood, or contribute to its change, and in their own way send this blood back to the heart transformed, just as the blood is sent back to the heart transformed from the rest of the organism.
Is it not obvious that we should now ask ourselves this other question: Since this upper part of the human organism opens outward by means of the sense-organs, opens doors to the outside world in the form of sense- organs, is there not a certain sort of correspondence between the working-in of the external world through these sense-organs upon the upper part of the human organism and that which works out of the three interior organs, the spleen, the liver, and the gall-bladder? Whereas, accordingly, the upper part of the organism opens outward in order to receive the influences of the outside world; and whereas the blood flows upwards, so to speak, in order to capture these impressions of the outside world, it flows downwards in order to take up what comes from these three organs. Thus we may say that, when we look out upon the world round about us, this world exercises its influence through our senses upon our upper organisation. And what thus flows in from outside, through the world of sense, we may think of as pressed together, contracted, as if into one centre; so that what flows into our organism from all sides is seen to be the same thing as that which flows out from the liver, the gall-bladder and the spleen, namely, transformed outside world. If you go further into this matter you will see that it is not such a very strange reflection.
Imagine to yourselves the different sense-impressions that stream into us; imagine these contracted, thickened or condensed, formed into organs and placed inside us. Thus the blood presents itself inwardly to the liver, gallbladder and spleen, in the same way as the upper part of the human organism presents itself to the outside world. And so we have the outside world which surrounds our sense-organs above, condensed as it were into organs that are placed in the interior of man, so that we may say: At one moment the world is working from outside, streaming into us, coming into contact with our blood in the upper organs, acting upon our blood; and the next moment that which is in the macrocosm works mysteriously in those organs into which it has first contracted itself, and there, from the opposite direction, acts upon our blood, presenting itself again in the same way as it does in the upper organs.
If we were to draw a sketch of this, we could do it by imagining the world on the one hand, acting from all directions upon our senses, and the blood exposing itself like a tablet to the impressions of this world; that would be our upper organism. And now let us imagine that we could contract this whole outer world into single organs, thus forming an extract of this world; that we could then transfer this extract into our interior in such a way that what is working from all directions now acts upon the blood from the other side of the tablet. We should then have formed in a most extraordinary way a pictorial scheme of the exterior and the interior of the human organism. And we might already to a certain extent be able to say that the brain actually corresponds to our inner organism, in so far as this latter occupies the breast and the abdominal cavity. The world has, as it were been placed in our inner man.
Even in this organisation, which we distinguish as a subordinate one, and which serves primarily for the carrying forward of the process of nutrition, we have something so mysterious as the fusion of the whole outer cosmos into a number of inner organs, inner instruments. And, if we now observe these organs more closely for a moment, the liver, the gall-bladder, and the spleen, we shall be able to say that the spleen is the first of these to offer itself to the blood-stream. This spleen is a strange organisation, embedded in plethoric tissue, and in this tissue there is a great number of tiny little granules — something which, in contrast to the rest of the mass of tissue, has the appearance of little white granules.
When we observe the relation between the blood and the spleen, the latter appears to us like a sieve through which the blood passes in order that it may offer itself to an organ of the kind which, in a certain sense, is a shrivelled-up portion of the macrocosm. Again, the spleen stands in connection with the liver. At the next stage we see how the blood offers itself to the liver, and how the liver in its turn, as a third step, secretes the gall, which then goes over into the nutritive substances, and from there comes with the transformed nutritive substances into the blood.
This offering of itself on the part of the blood to these three organs we cannot think of in any but the following way: The organ which first meets the blood is the spleen, the second is the liver, and the third is the gallbladder, which has really a very complicated relation to the entire blood system, in that the gall is given over to the food and takes part in its digestion. On such grounds, the occultists of all times have given certain names to these organs. Now, I beg of you most earnestly not to think of anything special for the time being in connection with these names, but rather to think of them only as names that were originally given to these organs and to disregard the fact that the names signify also something else in connection with these organs. Later on we shall see why just these names were chosen. Because the spleen is the first of the three organs to present itself to the blood — we can say this by way of a purely external comparison — it appeared to the occultists of old to be best designated by the name belonging to that star which, to these ancient occultists and their observations, was the first within our solar system to show itself in cosmic space. For this reason they called the spleen “saturnine,” or an inner Saturn in man; and, similarly, the liver they called an inner Jupiter; and the gallbladder, an inner Mars. Let us begin by thinking of nothing in connection with these names, except that we have chosen them because we have arrived at the concept, at first hypothetical, that the external worlds, which otherwise are accessible rather to our senses, have been contracted into these organs and that in these organs inner worlds, so to speak, come to meet us, just as outer worlds meet us in the planets. We may now be able to say that, just as the external worlds show themselves to our senses in that they press in upon us from outside, so do these inner worlds show themselves as acting upon the blood-system in that they influence that for which the blood-system is there.
We shall find, to be sure, a significant difference between what we spoke of yesterday as the peculiarities of the human brain and that which here appears to us as a sort of inner cosmic system. This difference lies simply in the fact that man, to begin with, knows nothing about what takes place within his lower organism: that is, he knows nothing about the impressions which the inner worlds, or planets, as we may call them, make upon him, whereas the very characteristic of the other experience is that the outer worlds do make their impressions upon his consciousness. In a certain respect, therefore, we may call these inner worlds the realm of the unconscious, in contrast to the conscious realm we have learned to know in the life of the brain.
Now, precisely that which lies in this “conscious” and this “unconscious” is more clearly explained when we employ something else to assist us. We all know that external science states that the organ of consciousness is the nerve-system, together with all that pertains to it. Now we must bear in mind, as a basis for our occult study, a certain relationship which the nerve-system has to the blood-system, that is, to what we have to-day considered in a sketchy way. We then see that our nerve-system everywhere enters in certain ways into relation with our blood-system, that the blood everywhere presses upon our nerve-system. Moreover, we must here first take notice of something which external science in this connection holds to be already established. This science looks upon it as a settled matter that in the nerve-system is to be found the sole and entire regulator of all activity of consciousness, of everything, that is, which we characterise as “soul-life.” We cannot here refrain from recalling, although at first only by way of allusion for the purpose of authenticating this later on, that for the occultist the nerve-system exists only as a sort of basis for consciousness. For precisely in the same way that the nerve-system is a part of our organism and comes into contact with the blood-system, or at least bears a certain relation to it, so do the ego and that which we call the astral body make themselves a part of the whole human being. And even an external observation, which has frequently been employed in my lectures, can show us that the nerve-system is in a certain way a manifestation of the astral body. Through such an observation we can see that, in the case of ordinary inanimate beings in nature, we can ascribe only a physical body to that part of their being which they present to us. When, however, we ascend from inanimate, inorganic natural bodies to animate natural bodies, to organisms, we are obliged to suppose that these organisms are permeated by the so-called ether-body, or life-body, which contains in itself the causes of the phenomena of life. We shall see later on that anthroposophy, or occultism, does not speak of the ether-body, or life-body, in the same way that people in the past spoke of “life-force.” Rather does anthroposophy, when it speaks of the ether-body, speak of some thing which the spiritual eye actually sees, that is, of something real underlying the external physical body. When we consider the plants we are obliged to attribute to them an ether-body. And, if we ascend from the plants to sentient beings, to the animals, we find that it is this element of sentiency, of inner life, or, better still, of inner experience, which primarily differentiates the animal externally from the plant. If mere life-activity, which cannot yet sense itself inwardly, cannot yet attain to the kindling of feeling, is to be able to kindle feeling, to sense life inwardly, the astral body must become a part of the animal's organism. And in the nerve-system, which the plants do not yet have, we must recognise the external instrument of the astral body, which in turn is the spiritual prototype of the nerve-system. As the archetype is related to its manifestation, to its image, so is the astral body related to the nerve-system.
Now when we come to man — and I said yesterday that in occultism our task is not as simple as it is for the external scientific method in which everything can, so to speak, be jumbled together — we must always, when we study the human organs, be aware of the fact that these organs, or systems of organs, are capable of being put to certain uses for which the corresponding systems of organs in the animal organism, even when these appear similar, cannot be used. At this point we shall merely affirm in advance what will appear later as having a still more profound basis, that, in the case of man, we must designate the blood as an external instrument for the ego, for all that we denote as our innermost soul-centre, the ego; so that in the nerve-system we have an external instrument of the astral body, and in our blood an external instrument of the ego. Just as the nerve-system in our organism enters into certain relations with the blood, so do those inner regions of the soul which we experience in ourselves as concepts, feelings or sensations, etc., enter into a certain relation with our ego.
The nerve-system is differentiated in the human organism in manifold ways the inner nerve-fibres for example, at the points where these develop into nerves of hearing, of seeing, etc., show us how diverse are its differentiations. Thus the nerve-system is something that reaches out everywhere through the organism in such a way as to comprise the most manifold inner diversities. When we observe the blood as it streams through the organism it shows us, even taking into account the transformation from red into blue blood, that it is, nevertheless, a unity in the whole organism. Having this character of unity, it comes into contact with the differentiated nerve-system, just as does the ego with the differentiated soul-life, for it also is made up of conceptions, sensations, will-impulses, feelings and the like. The further you pursue this comparison — and it is given meanwhile only as a comparison — the more clearly you will be shown that a far-reaching similarity exists in the relations of the two archetypes, the ego and the astral body, to their respective images, the blood-system and the nerve-system. Now, of course, one may say at this point that blood is surely everywhere blood. At the same time, it undergoes a change in flowing through the organism; and consequently we can draw a parallel between these changes that take place in the blood and what goes on in the ego. But our ego is a unity. As far back as we can remember in our life between birth and death we can say: “This ego was always present, in our fifth year just as in our sixth year, yesterday just as to-day. It is the same ego.” And yet, if we now look into what this ego contains, we shall discover this fact: This ego that lives in me is filled with a sum-total of conceptions, sensations, feelings, etc., which are to be attributed to the astral body and which comes into contact with the ego. A year ago this ego was filled with a different content, yesterday it contained still another, and to-day its content is again different. Thus the ego, we see, comes into contact with the entire soul-content, streams through this entire soul-content. And, just as the blood streams through the whole organism and comes everywhere into contact with the differentiated nerve-system, so does the ego come together with the differentiated life of the soul, in conceptions, feelings, will-impulses and the like. Already, therefore, this merely comparative method of study shows us that there is a certain justification in looking upon the blood system as an image of the ego, and the nerve system as an image of the astral body, as higher, super-sensible members of the nature of man.
It is necessary for us to remember that the blood streams throughout the organism in the manner already indicated; that on the one side it presents itself to the outer world like a tablet facing the impressions of the outer world; on the other side, it faces what we have called the inner world. And so indeed it is with our ego also. We first direct this ego of ours toward the outside world and receive impressions from it. There results from this a great variety of content within the ego; it is filled with these impressions coming from outside. There are also such moments when the ego retires within itself and is given up to its pain and suffering, pleasure and happiness, inner feelings and so forth, when it permits to arise in the memory what it is not receiving at this moment directly through contact with the external world, but what it carries within itself. Thus, in this connection also, we find a parallel between the blood and the ego; for the blood, like a tablet, presents itself at one time to the outside world and at another time to the inner world; and we could accordingly represent this ego by a simple sketch [see earlier drawing] exactly as we have represented the blood. We can bring the external impressions which the ego receives, when we think of them as concepts, as soul-pictures in general, into the same sort of relation to the ego as that which we have brought about between our blood and the real external occurrences coming to us through the senses. That is, exactly as we have done in the case of the physical bodily life and the blood, so could we bring what is related to the soul-life into connection with the ego.
Let us now observe from this standpoint the cooperation, the mutual interaction, between the blood and the nerves. If we consider the eye, we see that outer impressions act upon this organ. The impressions of colour and light act upon the optic nerve. So long as they affect the optic nerve, having for themselves an active instrument in the nerve-system, we are able to affirm that they have an effect upon the astral body. We may state that, at the moment when a connection takes place between the nerves and the blood, the parallel process which takes place in the soul is, that the manifold conceptions within the life of the soul come into connection with the ego. When, therefore, we consider this relationship between the nerves and the blood, we may represent by another sketch how that which streams in from outside through the nerves when we see an object, forms a certain connection with those courses of the blood which come into the neighbourhood of the optic nerve.
This connection is something of extraordinary importance for us, if we wish to observe the human organism in such a way that our observation shall provide a basis for arriving at the occult foundations of human nature. In ordinary life the process that takes place is such that each influence transmitted by means of the nerves inscribes itself in the blood, as on a tablet, and in doing so records itself in the instrument of the ego. Let us suppose for a moment, however, that we should artificially interrupt the connection between the nerve and the circulation of the blood, that is, that we should artificially put a man in such a condition that the activity of the nerve should be severed from the circulation of the blood, so that they could no longer act upon each other. We can indicate this by a diagram in which the two parts are shown more widely separated, so that a reciprocal action between the nerves and the blood can no longer take place. In this case the condition may be such that no impression can be made upon the nerve. Something of this sort can be brought about if, for example, the nerve is cut. If, indeed, it should come to pass by some means that no impression is made upon the nerve, then it is also not strange if the man himself is unable to experience anything especial through this nerve. But let us suppose that in spite of the interrupting of the connection between the nerve and the blood a certain impression is made upon the nerve. This can be brought to pass through an external experiment by stimulating the nerve by means of an electric current. Such external influence on the nerve does not, however, concern us here. But there is still another way of affecting the nerve under conditions in which it cannot act upon the course of the blood normally connected with it.
It is possible to bring about such a condition of the human organism; and this is done in a particular way, by means of certain concepts, emotions and feelings which the human being has experienced and made a part of himself, and which, if this inner experiment is to be truly successful, ought, properly speaking, to be really lofty, moral or intellectual concepts. When a man practises a rigorous inner concentration of the soul on such imaginative concepts, forming these into symbols let us say, it then happens, if he does this in a state of waking consciousness, that he takes complete control of the nerve and, as a result of this inner concentration, draws it back to a certain extent from the course of the blood. For when man simply gives himself up to normal, external impressions, the natural connection between the nerve and the circulation is present; but if, in strict concentration upon his ego, he holds fast to what he obtains in a normal way, apart from all external impressions and apart from what the outside world brings about in the ego, he then has something in his soul which can have originated only in the consciousness and is the content of consciousness, and which makes a special demand upon the nerve and separates its activity then and there from its connection with the activity of the blood. The consequence of this is that, by means of such inner concentration, which actually breaks the connection between the nerve and the blood, that is, when it is so strong that the nerve is in a certain sense freed from its connection with the blood-system, the nerve is at the same time freed from that for which the blood is the external instrument, namely, from the ordinary experiences of the ego. And it is, indeed, a fact — this finds its complete experimental support through the inner experiences of that spiritual training designed to lead upward into the higher worlds — that as a result of such concentration the entire nerve-system is removed from the blood-system and from its ordinary tasks in connection with the ego. It then happens, as the particular consequence of this, that whereas the nerve-system had previously written its action upon the tablet of the blood, it now permits what it contains within itself as working power to return into itself, and does not permit it to reach the blood. It is, therefore, possible purely through processes of inner concentration, to separate the blood-system from the nerve-system, and thereby to cause that which, pictorially expressed, would otherwise have flowed into the ego, to course back again into the nerve-system.
Now, the peculiar thing is that once the human being actually brings this about through such inward exertion of the soul, he has then an entirely different sort of inner experience. He stands before a completely changed horizon of consciousness which may be described somewhat as follows: When the nerve and the blood have an appropriate connection with each other, as is the case in normal life, man brings into relation with the ego the impressions which come from within his inner being and those which come from the outer world. The ego then conserves those forces which reach out along the entire horizon of consciousness, and everything is related to the ego. But when, through inner concentration, he separates his nerve-system, lifts it, that is to say, through inner soul-forces out of his blood-system, he does not then live in his ordinary ego. He cannot then say “I” with respect to that which he calls his “Self,” in the same sense in which he had previously said “I” in his ordinary normal consciousness. It then seems to the man as if he had quite consciously lifted a portion of his real being out of himself, as if something which he does not ordinarily see, which is super-sensible and works in upon his nerves, does not now impress itself upon his blood-tablet or make any impression upon his ordinary ego. He feels himself lifted away from the entire blood-system, raised up, as it were, out of his organism; and he meets something different as a substitute for what he has experienced in the blood-system. Whereas the nerve-activity was previously imaged in the blood-system, it is now reflected back into itself. He is now living in something different; he feels himself in another ego, another Self, which before this could at best be merely divined. He feels a super-sensible world uplifted within him.
If once more we draw a sketch, showing the relation between the blood and the nerve, or the entire nerve-system, as this receives into itself the impressions from the outside world, this may be done in the following way.
The normal impressions would then image themselves in the blood-system, and thus be within it. If, however, we have removed the nerve-system, nothing goes as far as the tablet of the blood, nothing goes into the blood-system; everything flows back again into the nerve-system; and thus a world has opened to us of which we had previously no intimation. It has opened as far as the terminations of our nerve-system, and we feel the recoil. To be sure, only he can feel this recoil who goes through the necessary soul-exercises. In the case of the normal consciousness, man feels that he takes into himself whatever sort of world happens to face him, so that everything is inscribed upon the blood-system as on a tablet, and he then lives in his ego with these impressions. In the other case, however, he goes with these impressions only to that point where the terminations of the nerves offer him an inner resistance. Here, at the nerve-terminals, he rebounds as it were, and experiences himself in the outside world. Thus, when we have a colour impression, which we receive through the eye, it passes into the optic nerve, images itself upon the tablet of the blood, and we feel what we express as a fact when we say: “I see red.” But now, after we have made ourselves capable of doing so, let us suppose that we do not go with our impressions as far as the blood, but only to the terminations of the nerves; that at this point we rebound into our inner life, rebound before we reach the blood. In that case we live, as a matter of fact, only as far as our eye, our optic nerve. We recoil before the bodily expression of our blood, we live outside our Self and are actually within the light-rays which penetrate our eyes. Thus we have actually come out of ourselves; indeed, we have accomplished this by reason of the fact that we do not penetrate as deep down into our Self as we ordinarily do, but rather go only as far as the nerve-terminals. The effect on a soul-life such as this, if we have brought it to the stage where we turn back at the terminations of the nerves into our inner being, so that we do not go as far as our blood, is that we have in this case disconnected the blood; whereas otherwise the normal consciousness of the inner man ordinarily goes down into the blood, and the soul-life identifies itself with the physical man, feels itself at one with him.
As a result of these external observations we have to-day succeeded in disconnecting the entire blood-system, which we have thought of as a kind of tablet that presents itself on the one side to the external, on the other side to the internal impressions, from what we may call the higher man, the man we may become if we find release from our Selves and become free. Now, we shall best be able to study the whole inner nature of this blood-system if we do not make use of general phrases, but observe what exists as reality in man, namely, the super-sensible, invisible man to whom we can lift ourselves when we go only as far as the terminations of our nerves, and if we also observe man as he is when he goes all the way into the blood. For we can then advance further, to the thought that man can really live in the outside world, that he can pour himself out over the whole external world, can go forth into this world and view from the reverse standpoint, as it were, the inner man, or what is usually meant by that term. In short, we shall learn to know the functions of the blood, and of those organs which are inserted into the circulatory course of the blood, when we can answer the following questions: What does a more accurate knowledge show us, when that which comes from a higher world, to which man can raise himself, is portrayed upon the tablet of the blood? It shows us that everything connected with the life of the blood is the very central point of the human being, when, without coining phrases, but rather looking only at sensible as well as super-sensible realities, we consider carefully the relationship of this wonderful system to a higher world. For this is in truth to be our task: to learn to see clearly the whole visible physical Man as an image of that other “Man” who is rooted and lives in the spiritual world. We shall thereby come to find that the human organism is one of the truest images of that Spirit which lives in the universe, and we shall attain to a very special understanding of that Spirit.