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Old 09-28-2008, 10:38 AM   #1
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Default Spiritual Knowledge 3

Chapter III

The Three Worlds

1. The Soul World

Our study of man has shown that he belongs to three worlds. The materials and forces that build up his body are taken from the world of physical bodies. He has knowledge of this world through the perceptions of his outer physical senses. Anyone trusting to these senses alone and developing only their perceptive capacities can gain no enlightenment for himself concerning the two other worlds, the soul world and the world of the spirit. A man's ability to convince himself of the reality of a thing or a being depends on whether he has an organ of perception, a sense for it. It may, of course, easily lead to misunderstanding if we call the higher organs of perception spiritual senses as is done here because in speaking of senses we involuntarily connect the thought of the physical with them. The physical world is, in fact, designated the sensory, in contradistinction to the spiritual. In order to avoid this misunderstanding, we must take into account the fact that higher senses are spoken of here only in a comparative or metaphorical sense. Just as the physical senses perceive the physical, so do the soul and spiritual senses perceive the soul and spiritual worlds. The expression, sense, will be used as meaning simply organ of perception. A man would have no knowledge of light and color had he no eye sensitive to light; he would know nothing of sound had he no ear sensitive to sound. In this connection the German philosopher, Lotze, says rightly, “Without a light-sensitive eye and a sound-sensitive ear, the whole world would be dark and silent. There would be in it just as little light or sound as there could be toothache without the pain-sensitive nerve of the tooth.”
In order to see what is said here in the proper way, one need only think how entirely differently the world must reveal itself to man from the way it does to the lower forms of animal life that have only a kind of sense of touch or feeling spread over the whole surface of their bodies. Light, color and sound certainly cannot exist for them in the same way they do for beings gifted with ears and eyes. The vibrations caused by the firing of a gun may have an effect on them also if, as a result, sensitive areas are excited, but in order that these vibrations of the air exhibit themselves to the soul as a shot, an ear is necessary. An eye is necessary in order that certain processes in the fine matter called ether reveal themselves as light and color. We only know something about a being or thing because we are affected by it through one of our organs.
This relationship of man with the world of realities is brought out extremely well by Goethe when he says, “It is really in vain that we try to express the nature of a thing We become aware of effects and a complete history of these effects would indeed embrace the nature of that thing. We endeavor in vain to describe the character of a man. If instead we put together his actions and deeds, a picture of his character will present itself to us. Colors are the deeds of light — deeds and sufferings . . . Colors and light are, to be sure, linked in the most precise relationship, but we must think of them both as belonging to the whole of nature, because through them the whole of nature is engaged in revealing itself especially to the eye. In like manner, nature reveals itself to another sense.
. . . Nature thus speaks downwards to the other senses — to known, unknown, and unrecognized senses. It thus speaks to itself and to us through a thousand phenomena. To the attentive, nature is nowhere either dead or silent.”
It would not be correct were one to interpret this saying of Goethe as though the possibility of knowing the essential nature of things were denied by it. Goethe does not mean that we perceive only the effects of a thing, and that the being thereof hides itself behind them. He means rather that one should not speak at all of a “hidden being.” The being is not behind its manifestation. On the contrary, it comes into view through the manifestation. This being, however, is in many respects so rich that it can manifest itself to other senses in still other forms. What reveals itself does belong to the being, but because of the limitations of the senses, it is not the whole being. This thought of Goethe corresponds entirely with the views of spiritual science set forth here.
Just as in the body, eye and ear develop as organs of perception, as senses for bodily processes, so does a man develop in himself soul and spiritual organs of perception through which the soul and spiritual worlds are opened to him. For those who do not have such higher senses, these worlds are dark and silent, just as the bodily world is dark and silent for a being without eyes and ears. It is true that the relation of man to these higher senses is rather different from his relation to the bodily senses. It is good Mother Nature who sees to it, as a rule, that these latter are fully developed in him. They come into existence without his help. For the development of his higher senses, however, he must work himself. If he wishes to perceive the soul and spirit worlds, he must develop soul and spirit, just as nature has developed his body so that the might perceive the corporeal world around him and guide himself in it. Such a development of the higher organs not yet developed for us by nature itself is not unnatural because in the higher sense all that man accomplishes belongs also to nature.
Only the person who is ready to maintain that man should remain standing at the stage at which he left the hand of nature, could call the development of the higher senses unnatural. By him the significances of these organs is misunderstood, “unrecognized,” as indicated in the quotation of Goethe. Such a person might just as well oppose all human education because it also develops further the work of nature. He would also have to oppose operations upon those born blind, because almost the same thing that happens to the person born blind when operated upon happens to the man who awakens the higher sense in himself in the manner set forth in the last part of this book. The world appears to him with new qualities, events and facts, about which the physical senses reveal nothing. It is clear to him that through these higher organs he adds nothing arbitrarily to reality, but that without them the essential part of this reality would have remained hidden from him. The soul and spirit worlds are not to be thought of as being alongside or outside the physical world. They are not separated in space from it. Just as for persons born blind and operated upon, the previously dark world flashes out in light and colors, so do things that previously were only corporeal phenomena reveal their soul and spirit qualities to anyone who is awakened in soul and spirit. It is true, moreover, that this world then becomes filled with other occurrences and beings that remain completely unknown to those whose soul and spirit senses are unawakened. (The development of the soul and spirit senses will be spoken of in a more detailed way farther on in this book. Here these higher worlds themselves will be first described. Anyone who denies their existence says nothing more than that he has not yet developed his higher organs. The evolution of humanity is not terminated at any one stage; it must always progress.)
The higher organs are often involuntarily pictured as too similar to the physical organs. It should be understood that these organs are spiritual or soul formations. It ought not to be expected, therefore, that what is perceived in the higher worlds should be only something like a cloudy, attenuated form of matter. As long as something is expected of this kind, no clear idea can be formed of what is really meant here by higher worlds. For many persons it would not be nearly as difficult as it actually is to know something about these higher worlds — of course, at first only about the elementary regions — if they did not form the idea that what they are to see is again merely rarefied physical matter. Since they take for granted something of this kind, they are not at all willing, as a rule, to recognize what they are really dealing with. They look upon it as unreal, and refuse to acknowledge it as something satisfactory. True, the higher stages of spiritual development are accessible only with difficulty. Those stages, however, that suffice for the perception of the nature of the spiritual world — and that is already a great deal — should not be at all difficult to reach if people would first free themselves from the misconception that consists in picturing to themselves the soul and spiritual merely as a finer physical.
Just as we do not know a man entirely when we have only visualized his physical exterior, so also do we not know the world around us if we only know what the physical senses reveal to us about it. Just as a photograph grows intelligible and living to us when we have become so intimately acquainted with the person photographed that we know his soul, so can we really understand the corporeal world only when we gain a knowledge of its soul and spiritual basis. For this reason it is advisable to speak here first about the higher worlds, the worlds of soul and spirit, and only then judge the physical from the viewpoint of spiritual science.
At this present stage of civilization certain difficulties are encountered by anyone speaking about the higher worlds because this age is great above all things in its knowledge and conquest of the physical world. Our words have, in fact, received their stamp and significance in relation to this physical world. We must, nevertheless, make use of these current words in order to form a link with something known. This, however, opens the door to many misunderstanding on the part of those who are willing to trust only their external senses. Much can at first be expressed and indicated only by means of similes and comparisons. This must be so, for such similes are a means by which the seeker is at first directed to these higher worlds, and through which his own ascent to them is furthered. Of this ascent I shall speak in a later chapter, in which the development of the soul and spiritual organs of perception will be dealt with. * (See Addendum 8.) To begin with, man must gain knowledge of the higher worlds by means of similes. Only then is he ready to acquire for himself the power to see into them.
Just as the matter and forces that compose and govern our stomach, heart, brain, lungs, and so forth, come from the physical world, so do our soul qualities, our impulses, desires, feelings, passions, wishes and sensations, come from the soul world. The soul of man is a member of this soul world, just as his body is part of the world of physical bodies. If we want at the outset to indicate a difference between the corporeal and soul worlds, we could say that the soul world is in all objects and entities much finer, more mobile and plastic than the former. It must be kept clearly in mind, however, that on entering the soul world we enter a world entirely different from the physical. If therefore, the words “coarser” and “finer” are used in this respect, readers must be fully aware that something is suggested by way of comparison that is, nevertheless, actually fundamentally different. This is true in regard to all that is said about the soul world in words borrowed from the world of physical corporeality. Taking this into account, we can say that the formations and beings of the soul world consist in the same way of soul substances, and are directed by soul forces in much the same way as is the case in the physical world with physical substances and physical forces.
Just as spatial extension and spatial movement are peculiar to corporeal formations, so are excitability and impelling desire peculiar to the things and beings of the soul world. For this reason the soul world is described as the world of desires or wishes, or as the world of longing. These expressions are borrowed from the human soul world. We must, therefore, hold fast to the idea that the things in those parts of the soul world that lie outside the human soul are just as different from the soul forces within it as the physical matter and forces of the external corporeal world are different from those parts that compose the physical human body. Impulse, wish, longing are names for the substantiality of the soul world. To this substantiality let us give the name astral. If we pay more attention specifically to the forces of the soul world, we can speak of desire-being, but it must not be forgotten that the distinction between substance and force cannot be as sharply drawn as in the physical world. An impulse can just as well be called force as substance.
The differences between the soul world and the physical have a bewildering effect on anyone who obtains a view of the soul world for the first time, but that is also the case when a previously inactive physical sense is opened. The man born blind has first to learn after an operation how to guide himself through the world he has previously known only by means of the sense of touch. Such a person, for example, sees the objects at first in his eyes, then outside himself, but they appear to him as though painted on a flat surface. Only gradually does he grasp perspective and the spatial distance between things. In the soul world entirely different laws prevail from those in the physical. To be sure, many soul formations are bound to those of the other worlds. The human soul, for instance, is bound to the human body and to the human spirit. The occurrences we can observe in it are, therefore, influenced at the same time by the corporeal and spiritual worlds. We have to take this into account in observing the soul world, and we must take care not to claim as a law of the soul world occurrences due to the influence of another world. When, for example, a man sends out a wish, that wish is brought to birth by a thought, by a conception of the spirit whose laws it accordingly follows. Just as we can formulate the laws of the physical world by disregarding, for example, the influence of man on its processes, so the same thing is possible with regard to the soul world.
An important difference between soul and physical processes can be expressed by saying that the reciprocal action in the processes of the soul is much more inward than in the physical. In physical space there reigns, for example, the law of impact. When an ivory ball strikes a ball at rest, the resting ball will move in a direction that can be calculated from the motion and elasticity of the first. In soul space the reciprocal action of two forms that encounter each other depends on their inner qualities. If they are in affinity they mutually interpenetrate and, as it were, grow together. They repel each other if their natures are in conflict. In physical space there are also definite laws of vision. We see distant objects perspectively diminishing. When we look down an avenue, the distant trees appear closer together than those nearby. In the soul space, on the contrary, all objects near or far appear to the clairvoyant at distances apart that are in accordance with their inner nature. This is naturally a source of the most manifold errors for those who enter the soul world and wish to be at home there with the help of the rules they bring from the physical world.
One of the first things a man must acquire in order to make his way about the soul world is the ability to distinguish the various kinds of forms found there in much the same way he distinguishes solid, liquid, or air or gaseous bodies in the physical world. In order to do this, he must know the two most important basic forces to be found in the soul world. They may be called sympathy and antipathy. The nature of any soul formation is determined according to the way these basic forces operate in it. The force with which one soul formation attracts others, seeks to fuse with them and to make its affinity with them effective, must be designated as sympathy. Antipathy is the force with which soul formations repel, exclude each other in the soul world. It is the force with which they assert their separate identities. The part played by a soul formation in the soul world depends upon the proportion in which these basic forces are present in it. In the first place, we must distinguish three kinds of soul formations that are determined by the way sympathy and antipathy work in them. That these formations differ from each other is due to the fact that sympathy and antipathy have in them definitely fixed mutual relationships. In all three both basic forces are present.
To begin with, let us consider the first of these soul formations. It attracts other formations in its neighborhood by means of the sympathy ruling it. Besides this sympathy, there is at the same time antipathy present by which it repels certain things in its surroundings. From the outside such a formation appears to be endowed only with the forces of antipathy. That, however, is not the case. Both sympathy and antipathy are present in it, but the latter predominates. It has the upper hand over the former. Such formations play a self-seeking role in soul space. They repel much that surrounds them, and lovingly attract but little to themselves. They therefore move through the soul space as unchangeable forms. The force of sympathy that they possess appears greedy. This greed appears at the same time insatiable, as if it could not be satisfied, because the predominating antipathy repels so much of what approaches that no satisfaction is possible. This kind of soul formation corresponds with the solid physical bodies of the physical world. This region of soul matter may be called Burning Desire. The part of Burning Desire that is mingled with the souls of animals and men determines in them what we call their lower sensual impulses, their dominating selfish instincts.
In the second kind of soul formations the two basic forces preserve a balance. Accordingly, antipathy and sympathy act in them with equal strength. They approach other formations with a certain neutrality. They act on them as though related, but without especially attracting or repelling. They erect, as it were, no solid barrier between themselves and their surroundings. They constantly allow other formations in their surroundings to act on them. We can, therefore, compare them with the liquids of the physical world. There is nothing of greed in the way such formations attract others to themselves. The activity meant here may be recognized, for example, when the human soul receives the sensation of a certain color. If I have the sensation of a red color, I receive, to begin with, a neutral stimulus from my surroundings. Only when pleasure in the red color is added to this stimulus does another soul activity come into play. What effects the neutral stimulus is the action of soul formations standing in such reciprocal relationship that sympathy and antipathy preserve an equal balance. The soul substance considered here must be described as a perfectly plastic and mobile substance. It does not move through soul space in a self-seeking way like the first, but by such means that its being receives impressions everywhere, and shows itself to have affinity with much that approaches it. An expression that might be applied to it is Mobile Sensitivity.
The third variety of soul formations is that in which sympathy has the upper hand over antipathy. Antipathy produces self-seeking self-assertion. This, however, retires into the background when inclination towards the things in the surrounding world takes its place. Let us picture such a formation within the soul space. It appears as the center of an attracting sphere that spreads over the objects surrounding it. Such formations must be specially designated as Wish Substance. This designation appears to be the right one because through the existing antipathy, although relatively weaker than the sympathy, the attraction works in such a way that it endeavors to bring the attracted objects within the soul formation's own sphere. The sympathy thus receives an underlying tone of selfishness. This wish substance may be likened to the air or gaseous bodies of the physical world. Just as a gas strives to expand on all sides, so does the wish substance spread itself out in all directions.
Higher levels of soul substance characterize themselves in that one of the basic forces, antipathy, retires completely into the background and sympathy alone shows itself to be really effective. Now this sympathy is able to make its power felt primarily within the various parts of the soul formation itself. These parts act with reciprocal attraction upon each other. The force of sympathy within a soul formation comes to expression in what one calls Liking, and each lessening of this sympathy is Disliking. Disliking is only lessened liking, as cold is only a lessened warmth. Liking and disliking is what lives in man as the world of feelings in the more restricted sense of the word. Feeling is the life and activity of the soul within itself. What is called the comfort of the soul depends on the way the feelings of liking and disliking, attraction and repulsion, interact within the soul.
A still higher stage is represented by those soul formations in which sympathy does not remain shut up within the region of their own life. They, and also the fourth stage, differ from the three lower stages by virtue of the fact that in them the force of sympathy has no antipathy opposing it to overcome. It is only through these higher orders of soul substance that the manifold variety of soul formations can unite and form a common soul world. To the degree that antipathy comes into play, the soul formation strives toward some other thing for the sake of its own life, and in order to strengthen and enrich itself by means of the other. Where antipathy is inactive, the other thing is received as revelation, as information. This higher form of soul substance plays a similar role in the soul space to that played by light in physical space. It causes one soul formation to suck in as it were, the being or essence of others for their own sakes; one could also say, to let itself by shone upon by them. Only by drawing upon these higher regions are the soul beings awakened to the true soul life. Their dull life in the darkness opens outwards and begins to shine and ray out into soul space. The sluggish, dull weaving within itself that seeks to shut itself off through antipathy when the substances of the lower regions alone are present, becomes force and mobility that goes forth from within and pours itself outwards in streams. The Mobile Sensitivity of the second region is only effective when formations meet each other. Then, indeed, the one streams over into the other, but contact is here necessary. In the higher regions there prevails a free out-raying and out-pouring. The essential nature of this region is quite rightly described as an “outraying,” because the sympathy that is developed acts in such a way that this expression, taken from the action of light, can be used as a symbol for it. Just as plants degenerate in a dark cellar, so do the soul formations degenerate without the life-giving soul substances of the higher regions. Soul Light, Active Soul Force and the true Soul Life in the narrower sense, belong to these regions and thence pour themselves into the soul beings.
Thus one has to distinguish between three lower and three higher regions of the soul world. These two are linked together by a fourth, so that there results the following division of the soul world.
Region of Burning Desire
Region of Mobile Sensitivity
Region of Wishes
Region of Liking and Disliking
Region of Soul Light
Region of Active Soul Force
Region of Soul Life
Throughout the first three regions, the soul formations receive their qualities from the relative proportions of sympathy and antipathy. Throughout the fourth region sympathy weaves its web within the soul formations themselves. Throughout the three highest, the power of sympathy becomes ever more free. Illumining and quickening, the soul substances of this region flow through the soul space, awakening what, if left to itself, would lose itself in its own separate existence.
Though it should be superfluous, for the sake of clarity it must be emphasized that these seven divisions of the soul world do not represent regions separated one from another. Just as in the physical world, solid, liquid and air or gaseous substances interpenetrate, so in the soul world do Burning Desire, Mobile Sensitivity and the forces of the World of Wishes. Just as in the physical world warmth penetrates bodies and light illumines them, so it is also the case in the soul world with Liking and Disliking, and with the Soul Light. Something similar takes place with regard to the Active Soul Force and the true Soul Life.

2. The Soul in the Soul World After Death

The soul is the connecting link between the spirit of man and his body. Its forces of sympathy and antipathy that, owing to their mutual relationship, bring about soul manifestations such as desire, sensitivity, wish, liking and aversion, and so forth, are not only active between soul formation and soul formation, but they manifest themselves also in relation to the beings of the other worlds, the physical and the spiritual. While the soul lives in the body, it participates, so to speak, in all that takes place in the body. When the physical functions of the body proceed with regularity, pleasure and comfort arise in the soul. If these functions are disturbed, discomfort and pain arise. The soul, however, has its share in the activities of the spirit also. One thought fills it with joy, another with abhorrence; a correct judgment has the approval of the soul, a false one its disapproval. The stage of evolution of a man depends, in fact, on whether the inclinations of his soul move more in one direction or in another. A man is the more perfect, the more his soul sympathizes with the manifestations of the spirit. He is the more imperfect the more the inclinations of his soul are satisfied by the functions of his body.
The spirit is the central point of man, the body the intermediary by which the spirit observes and learns to understand the physical world, and through which it acts in that world. The soul is the intermediary between the two. It liberates the sensation of sound from the physical impression that the vibrations of the air make on the ear. It experiences pleasure in this sound. All this it communicates to the spirit, which thereby attains to the understanding of the physical world. A thought, which arises in the spirit, is transformed by the soul into the wish to realize it, and only through this can be the thought become a deed with the help of the body as an instrument. Now man can fulfill his destiny only by allowing his spirit to direct the course of all his activity. The soul can by its own power direct its inclinations just as readily to the physical as to the spiritual. It sends, as it were, its feelers down into the physical as well as up into the spiritual. By sinking them into the physical world, the soul's own being becomes saturated and colored by the nature of the physical. Since the spirit is able to act in the physical world only through the soul as intermediary, this spirit itself is thus given the direction towards the physical. Its formations are drawn toward the physical by the forces of the soul. Observe, for example, the undeveloped human being. The inclinations of his soul cling to the functions of his body. He feels pleasure only in the impressions made by the physical world on his senses. His intellectual life also is thereby completely drawn down into this region. His thoughts serve only to satisfy his physical needs. Since the spiritual self lives from incarnation to incarnation, it is intended to receive its direction ever increasingly from the spiritual. Its knowledge should be determined by the spirit of eternal truth; its action by eternal goodness.
Death, regarded as a fact in the physical world, signifies a change in the functions of the body. At death the body ceases to function as the intermediary between the soul and the spirit. In its processes it shows itself henceforth entirely subject to the physical world and its laws, and it passes over into it in order to dissolve therein. Only these physical processes of the body can be observed after death by the physical senses. What happens to the soul and spirit, however, escapes these senses because even during life, soul and spirit cannot be observed by the senses except insofar as they attain to external expression in physical process. After death this kind of expression is no longer possible. For this reason, observation by means of the physical senses and the science based on it does not come under consideration in reference to the fate of the soul and spirit after death. Here a higher knowledge steps in that is based on observation of what takes place in the soul and spirit worlds.
After the spirit has released itself from the body, it still continues to be united with the soul. Just as during physical life the body chained it to the physical world, so now the soul chains the spirit to the soul world. It is not in this soul world, however, that the spirit's true, primordial being is to be found. The soul world is intended to serve merely as its connecting link with the scene of its actions, the physical world. In order to appear in a new incarnation with a more perfect form, the spirit must draw force and renewed strength from the spiritual world. Through the soul it has become entangled in the physical world. It is bound to a soul being, which is saturated and colored by the nature of the physical, and through this has acquired a tendency in that direction. After death the soul is no longer bound to the body, but only to the spirit. It lives now within soul surroundings. Only the forces of this soul world can, therefore, have an effect on it. At first the spirit also is bound to this life of the soul in the soul world. It is bound to it in the same way it is bound to the body during physical incarnation. When the body shall die is determined by the laws of the body. Speaking generally, it must be said that it is not the soul and spirit that forsake the body, but they are set free by the body when its forces are no longer able to fulfill the purpose of the human soul organism.
The relationship between soul and spirit is just the same. The soul will set the spirit free to pass into the higher, spiritual world, when its forces are no longer able to fulfill the purpose of the human soul organism. The spirit is set free the moment the soul has handed over to dissolution what it can experience only in the body, retaining only what can live on with the spirit. This remainder, although experienced in the body, can nevertheless be impressed on the spirit as fruit. It connects the soul with the spirit in the purely spiritual world. In order to learn the fate of the soul after death, the process of dissolution must be observed. It had the task of giving the spirit its direction toward the physical. The moment it has fulfilled this task, the soul takes the direction toward the spiritual. In fact, the nature of its task would cause it henceforth to be only spiritually active when the body falls away from it, that is, when it can no longer be a connecting link. So it would be, had it not, owing to its life in the body, been influenced by the body and in its inclinations been attracted to it. Without this coloring received through the body, it would at once on being disembodied follow the laws of the spirit-soul world only and manifest no further inclination toward the sense world. This would be the case if a man on dying lost completely all interest in the earthly world, if all desires and wishes attaching him to the existence he has left had been completely satisfied. To the extent that this is not the case, all that remains of his interest clings to the soul.
To avoid confusion we must carefully distinguish here between what chains man to the world in such a way that it can be adjusted in a subsequent incarnation, and what chains him to one particular incarnation, that is, to the one just passed. The first is made good by means of the law of destiny, karma. The second can only be got rid of by the soul after death.
After death there follows for the human spirit a time during which the soul is shaking off its inclinations toward physical existence in order to follow once more the laws of the spirit-soul world only and thus set the spirit free. The more the soul was bound to the physical, the longer, naturally, will this time last. It will be short for the man who has clung but little to physical life, and long for the one whose interests are completely bound up with it, who at death has many desires, wishes and impulses still living in the soul.
The easiest way to gain an idea of this condition in which the soul lives during the time immediately after death is afforded by the following consideration. Let us take a somewhat crass example — the pleasure of the bon vivant. His pleasure is derived from food. The pleasure is naturally not bodily but belongs to the soul. The pleasure lives in the soul as does the desire for the pleasure. To satisfy the desire, however, the corresponding bodily organs, the palate, etc., are necessary. After death the soul has not immediately lost such a desire, but it no longer possesses the bodily organ that provides the means for satisfying it. For another reason, but one that acts far more strongly in the same way, the human soul now experiences all the suffering of burning thirst that one would undergo in a waterless waste. The soul thus suffers burning pain by being deprived of the pleasure because it has laid aside the bodily organ through which it can experience that pleasure. It is the same with all that the soul yearns for and that can only be satisfied through the bodily organs. This condition of burning privation lasts until the soul has learned to cease longing for what can only be satisfied through the body. The time passed in this condition may be called the region of desires, although it has of course nothing to do with a “locality.”
When the soul enters the soul world after death it becomes subject to the laws of that world. The laws act on it and the manner in which the soul's inclinations towards the physical are destroyed depends upon their actions. The way these laws act on the soul must differ depending upon the kinds of soul substances and soul forces in whose domain it is placed at the time. Each of these according to the its kind will make its purifying, cleansing influence felt. The process that takes place here is such that all antipathy in the soul is gradually overcome by the forces of sympathy. This sympathy itself is brought to its highest pitch because, through this highest degree of sympathy with the rest of the soul world, the soul will, as it were, merge into and become one with it. Then will it be utterly emptied of self-seeking. It ceases to exist as a being inclined to physically sensible existence, and the spirit is set free by it. The soul, therefore, purifies itself through all the regions of the soul world described above until, in the region of perfect sympathy, it becomes one with the general soul world. That the spirit itself is in bondage until this last moment of the liberation of its soul is due to the fact that through its life the spirit has become most intimately related to the soul. This relationship is much closer than the one with the body because the spirit is only indirectly bound to the body through the soul, whereas it is bound directly to the soul. The soul is, in fact, the spirit's own life. For this reason the spirit is not bound to the decaying body, although it is bound to the soul that is gradually freeing itself. On account of the immediate bond between the spirit and the soul, the spirit can feel free of the soul only when the soul has itself become one with the general soul world.
To the extent the soul world is the abode of man immediately after death, it is called the region of desires. The various religious systems that have embodied in their doctrines a knowledge of these conditions are acquainted with this region of desire under the name “purgatory,” “cleansing fire,” and the like.
The lowest region of the soul world is that of Burning Desire. Everything in the soul that has to do with the coarsest, lowest, most selfish desires of the physical life is purged from the soul after death by it, because through such desires it is exposed to the effects of the forces of this soul region. The unsatisfied desires that have remained over from physical life furnish the points of attack. The sympathy of such souls only extends to what can nourish their selfish natures. It is greatly exceeded by the antipathy that floods everything else. Now the desires aim at physical enjoyments that cannot be satisfied in the soul world. The craving is intensified to the highest degree by the impossibility of satisfaction. Owing to this impossibility, at the same time it is forced to die out gradually. The burning lusts gradually exhaust themselves and the soul learns by experience that the only means of preventing the suffering that must come from such longings lies in extirpating them. During physical life satisfaction is ever and again attained. By this means the pain of the burning lusts is covered over by a kind of illusion. After death in the “cleansing fire” the pain comes into evidence quite unveiled. The corresponding experiences of privation are passed through. It is a dark, gloomy state indeed in which the soul thus finds itself. Of course, only those persons whose desires are directed during physical life to the coarsest things can fall into this condition. Natures with few lusts go through it without noticing it because they have no affinity with it. It must be stated that souls are the longer influenced by burning desire the more closely they have become related to that fire through their physical life. On that account there is more need for them to be purified in it. Such purification should not be described as suffering in the sense of this expression as it is used in the sense world. The soul after death demands its purification since an existing imperfection can only thus be purged away.
In the second region of the soul world there are processes in which sympathy and antipathy preserve an equal balance. Insofar as a human soul is in that condition after death it will be influenced by what takes place in this region for a time. The losing of oneself in the external glitter of life, the joy in the swiftly succeeding impressions of the senses, bring about this condition. People live in it to the extent it is brought about by the soul inclinations just indicated. They allow themselves to be influenced by each worthless trifle of everyday life, but since their sympathy is attached to no one thing in particular, the influences pass quickly. Everything that does not belong to this region of empty nothings is repellent to such persons. When the soul experiences this condition after death without the presence of the physical objects that are necessary for its satisfaction, the condition must ultimately die out. Naturally, the privation that precedes its complete extinction in the soul is full of suffering. This state of suffering is the school for the destruction of the illusion a man is wrapped up in during physical life.
Then a third region of the soul world is to be considered in which the phenomena of sympathy, of the wish nature, predominate. Souls experience the effects of these phenomena from everything that preserves an atmosphere of wishes after death. These wishes also gradually die out because of the impossibility of satisfying them.
The region of Liking and Disliking in the soul world that has been described above as the fourth region imposes special trials on the soul. As long as the soul dwells in the body it shares all that concerns the body. The inner surge of liking and disliking is bound up with the body. The body causes the soul's feeling of well-being and comfort, dislike and discomfort. During his physical life man feels that his body is himself. What is called the feeling of self is based upon this fact, and the more people are inclined to be sensuous, the more does their feeling of self take on this character. After death the body, the object of the feeling of self, is lacking. On this account the soul, which still retains such a feeling, has the sensation of being emptied out as it were. A feeling as if it had lost itself overcomes the soul. This continues until it has been recognized that the true human being does not lie in the physical. The impressions made by this fourth region on the soul accordingly destroy the illusion of the bodily self. The soul learns to feel this corporeality no longer as an essential reality. It is cured and purified of its attachment to the body. In this way it has conquered what previously chained it strongly to the physical world, and it can now unfold fully the forces of sympathy that flow outwards. It has, so to speak, broken free from itself and is ready to pour itself into the common soul world with full sympathy.
It should not pass unnoted that the experiences of this region are suffered to an especial degree by suicides. Such a one leaves his physical body in an artificial way, although all the feelings connected with it remain unchanged. In the case of natural death, the decay of the body is accompanied by a partial dying out of the feelings of attachment to it. In the case of suicides there are, in addition to the torment caused by the feeling of having been suddenly emptied out, the unsatisfied desires and wishes because of which they have deprived themselves of their bodies.
The fifth stage of the soul world is that of Soul Light. In it sympathy with others has already reached a high degree of importance. Souls are connected with this stage insofar as they did not lose themselves in the satisfaction of lower necessities during their physical lives, but had joy and pleasure in their surroundings. Over-enthusiasm for nature, for example, in that it has borne something of a sensuous character, undergoes purifying here. It is necessary, however, to distinguish clearly this kind of love of nature from the higher living in nature that is of the spiritual kind that seeks for the spirit revealing itself in the things and events of nature. This kind of feeling for nature is one of the things that develop the spirit itself and establishes something permanent in it! One must distinguish, however, between such a feeling for nature, and a pleasure in nature that is based on the senses. In regard to this, the soul requires purification just as well as in regard to other inclinations based on mere physical existence. Many people see a kind of ideal in the arrangements of civilization that serve sensuous well-being, and in a system of education that, above all, brings about sensuous comfort. One cannot say that they seek to further only their selfish impulses. Their souls are, nevertheless, directed toward the physical world and must be cured of this by the force of sympathy that rules in the fifth region of the soul world and lacks these external means of gratification. Here the soul gradually recognizes that this sympathy must take other directions. These are found in the outpouring of the soul into the soul region, which is brought about by sympathy with the soul surroundings. Those souls also are purified here that mainly seek an enhancement of their sensuous welfare from their religious observances, whether it be that their longing goes out to an earthly or to a heavenly paradise. They, indeed, find this paradise in the “soul-land,” but only for the purpose of seeing through its worthlessness. These are, of course, merely a few detached examples of purifications that take place in this fifth region They could be multiplied indefinitely.
By means of the sixth region, that of Active Soul Force, the purification of the part of the soul that thirsts for action takes place in souls whose activity does not bear an egotistical character but spring, nevertheless, from the sensuous satisfaction that action affords them. Viewed superficially, natures that develop such a desire for action convey the impression of being idealists; they show themselves to be persons capable of self-sacrifice. In a deeper sense, however, the chief thing with them is the enhancement of a sensuous feeling of pleasure. Many artistic natures and those who give themselves up to scientific activity because it pleases them belong to this class. These people are bound to the physical world by the belief that art and science exist for the sake of such pleasure.
The seventh region, that of the real Soul Life, frees man from his last inclinations to the sensory physical world. Each preceding region takes up from the soul whatever has affinity with it. The part of the soul still enveloping the spirit is the belief that its activity should be entirely devoted to the physical world. There are highly gifted individuals whose thoughts, however, are occupied with scarcely anything but the occurrences of the physical world. This belief can be called materialistic. It must be destroyed, and this is done in the seventh region. There the souls see that in true reality there exists no objects for materialistic thinking. Like ice in the sun, this belief of the soul melts away. The soul being is now absorbed into its own world. Now free of all fetters the spirit rises to the regions where it lives entirely in surroundings of its own nature. The soul had completed its previous earthly task, and after death any traces of this task that remained fettering the spirit have dissolved. By overcoming the last trace of the earthly, the soul is itself given back to its own element.
One sees from this description that the experiences in the soul world, and also the conditions of soul life after death, take on an ever less repellent character the more a man has stripped off those elements adhering to him from his earthly union with the physical corporeality and that were directly related to his body. The soul will belong for a longer or shorter time to one or another region according to the conditions created during its physical life. Wherever the soul feels affinity, there it remains until the affinity is extinguished. Where no relation exists, it goes on its way without feeling the possible effects.
It was intended that only the fundamental characteristics of the soul world and the outstanding features of the life of the soul in this world should be described here. This applies also to the following descriptions of the spiritland. It would exceed the prescribed limits of this book were further descriptions of the characteristics of these higher worlds attempted. The spatial relationships and the time lapses — terms that can only be used by way of comparison because the conditions are quite different there from those obtaining in the physical world — can only be discussed intelligibly when one is prepared to deal with then adequately and in full detail. References of importance in this connection will be found in my Occult Science, an Outline.

3. The Spiritland

Before the spirit can be observed on its further pilgrimage, the region it enters must first be examined. It is the world of the spirit. This world is so unlike the physical that all that is said about it will appear fantastic to anyone who is only willing to trust his physical senses. What has already been said in regard to the world of the soul — that is, that we have to use analogies to describe it — also holds good here to a still higher degree. Our language, which for the most part serves only for the realities of the senses, is not richly blessed with expressions applicable directly to the spiritland. It is, therefore, especially necessary to ask the reader to understand much that is said as an indication only because everything that is described here is so unlike the physical world that only in this way can it be depicted. The author is ever conscious of how little this account can really resemble the experiences of this region owing to the imperfection of our language, calculated as it is to be our medium of expression for the physical world.
It must above all things be emphasized that this world is woven out of the substance of which human thought consists. The word “substance,” too is here used in a far from strict or accurate sense. Thought, however, as it lives in man, is only a shadow picture, a phantom of its true nature. Just as the shadow of an object on the wall is related to the real object that throws this shadow, so is the thought that makes its appearance through a human brain related to the being in the spiritland that corresponds to this thought. Now, when his spiritual sense is awakened, man really perceives this thought being, just as the eye of the senses perceives a table or a chair. He goes about in a region of thought beings. The corporeal eye perceives the lion, and the thinking directed to the sensibly perceptible thinks merely the thought, “lion” as a shadow, a shadowy picture. The spiritual eye sees in spiritland the thought “lion” as really and actually as the corporeal eye sees the physical lion. Here we may again refer to the analogy already used regarding the land of the soul. Just as the surroundings of a man born blind operated upon appear suddenly with the new qualities of color and light, so do the surroundings of the person who learns to use his spiritual eye appear as a new world, the world of living thoughts or spirit beings. In this world there are to be seen, first, the spiritual archetypes of all things and beings that are present in the physical and soul worlds. Imagine a painter's picture existing in his mind before it is painted. This gives an analogy to what is meant by the expression archetype. It does not concern us here that the painter has perhaps not had such an archetype in his mind before he paints and that it only gradually develops and becomes complete during the execution of the picture. In the real world of spirit there exist such archetypes for all things, and the physical things and beings are copies of these archetypes. It is quite understandable when anyone who only trusts his outer senses denies this archetypal world and holds that archetypes are merely abstractions gained by an intellectual comparison of sense objects. Such a person simply cannot see in this higher world. He knows the thought world only in its shadowy abstraction. He does not know that the person with spiritual vision is as familiar with spirit beings as he himself is with his dog or his cat, and that the archetypal world has a far more intense reality than the world of the physical senses.
True, the first look into this spiritland is still more bewildering than the first glimpse into the soul world because the archetypes in their true form are very unlike their sensory reflections. They are, however, just as unlike their shadows, the abstract thoughts. In the spiritual world all is in perpetual, mobile activity in the process of ceaseless creating. A state of rest, a remaining in one place such as we find in the physical world, does not exist here because the archetypes are creative beings. * (See Addendum 9.) They are the master builders of all that comes into being in the physical and soul worlds. Their forms change rapidly and in each archetype lies the possibility of assuming myriads of specialized forms. They let the different shapes well up out of them, as it were, and no sooner is one produced than the archetype sets about pouring forth the next one from itself. Moreover, the archetypes stand in more or less intimate relationships to each other. They do not work singly. The one requires the help of the other in its creating Often innumerable archetypes work together in order that this or that being in the soul or physical world may arise.
Besides what is to be perceived by “spiritual sight” in this spiritland, there is something else experienced that is to be regarded as “spiritual hearing.” As soon as the clairvoyant rises out of the soul world into the spirit world, the archetypes that are perceptible become “sounding” as well. This sounding, this emission of a tone, is a purely spiritual process. It must be conceived without any accompanying thought of a physical sound. The observer feels as if he were in an ocean of tones, and in these tones, in this spiritual chiming, the beings of the spirit world express themselves. The primordial laws of their existence, their mutual relationships and affinities, express themselves in the intermingling of these sounds, in their harmonies, melodies and rhythms. What the intellect perceives in the physical world as law, as idea, reveals itself to the spiritual ear as spiritual music. Hence, the Pythagoreans called this perception of the spiritual world the “music of the spheres.” To the possessor of a spiritual ear this music of the spheres is not something merely figurative or allegorical, but a spiritual reality well-known to him. If we wish to gain a conception of this spiritual music, however, we must lay aside all ideas of the music of the senses as perceived by the material ear because in spiritual music we are concerned with a spiritual perception, that is, with perception of a kind that must remain silent to the ear of the senses.
In the following descriptions of spiritland reference to this spiritual music will be omitted for the sake of simplicity. We have only to realize that everything described as picture, as shining with light, is at the same time sounding. Each color, each perception of light represents a spiritual tone, and every combination of colors corresponds with a harmony, a melody. Thus we must hold clearly in mind that even where the sounding prevails, perception by means of the spiritual eye by no means ceases. The sounding is merely added to the shining. Therefore, where archetypes are spoken of in the following pages, the primal tones are to be thought of as also present. Other perceptions make their appearance as well, which by way of comparison may be termed spiritual tasting and the like, but it is not proposed to go into these processes here since we are concerned with awakening a conception of spiritland through some few isolated modes of perception selected out of the whole.
Now it is necessary at the outset to distinguish the different species of archetypes from each other. In spiritland also it is necessary to distinguish between a number of degrees or regions in order to find one's way among them. Here also, as in the soul world, the different regions are not to be thought of as laid one above the other like strata, but as mutually interpenetrating and permeating each other.
The First Region. This region contains the archetypes of the physical world insofar as it is devoid of life. The archetypes of the minerals and plants are to be found here, but the archetypes of plants are found only to the extent that they are purely physical, that is, insofar as any life content they may possess is disregarded. In the same way we find here the physical forms of the animals and of men. This by no means exhausts all that is to be found in this region, but merely illustrates it by the most obvious examples. This region forms the basic structure of spiritland. It can be likened to the solid land masses of the physical earth. It forms the continental masses of spiritland. Its relationship with the physical corporeal world can only be described by means of an illustration. Some idea of it can be gained in the following way. Picture a limited space filled with physical bodies of the most varied kind. Then think these bodies away and conceive in their stead hollow spaces having their forms. The intervening spaces that were previously empty must be thought of as filled with the most varied forms having manifold relationships with the physical bodies spoken of above. In appearance this is somewhat like the lowest region of the archetypal world. In it the things and beings that become embodied in the physical world are present as hollow spaces, and in the intervening spaces the mobile activity of the archetypes and of the spiritual music takes place. During their formation into physical forms the hollow spaces become, as it were, filled with physical matter. If anyone were to look into space with both physical and spiritual eyes, he would see the physical bodies and between them the mobile activity of the creative archetypes.
The Second Region. This region of spiritland contains the archetypes of life, but this life forms here a perfect unity. It streams through the world of spirit as a fluid element, like blood, pulsating through everything. It may be likened to the sea and the water systems of the physical earth. Its distribution, however, is more like the distribution of the blood in the animal body than that of the seas and rivers. One could describe this second stage of the spiritland as flowing life composed of thought substance. In this element are the creative primal forces producing everything that appears in physical reality as living beings. Here it becomes evident that all life is a unity, that the life in man is related to the life of all his fellow creatures.
The Third Region. The archetypes of all soul formations must be designated as the third region of the spiritland. Here we find ourselves in a much finer and rarer element than in the first two regions. To use a comparison it can be called the air or atmosphere of spiritland. Everything that goes on in the souls of both the other worlds — the physical and the soul worlds — has here its spiritual counterpart. Here all feelings, sensations, instincts and passions are again present, but spiritually present. The atmospheric events in this aerial region correspond to the sorrows and joys of the creatures in the other worlds. The longing of the human soul appears here as a gentle zephyr; an outbreak of passion is like a stormy blast. He who can visualize what is here under consideration pierces deep into the sighing of every creature if he directs his attention to the matter. We can, for example, speak here of a loud storm with flashing lightning and rolling thunder. If we investigate the matter further, we find that the passions of a battle waged on earth are expressed in spiritland in a storm of spirit beings.
The Fourth Region. The archetypes of the fourth region are not immediately related to the other worlds. They are in certain respects beings who govern the archetypes of the three lower regions and mediate their working together. They are accordingly occupied with the ordering and grouping of these subordinate archetypes. Therefore, a more comprehensive activity proceeds from this region than from the lower ones.
The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Regions. These regions differ essentially from the preceding ones because the beings to be found in them supply the archetypes of the lower regions with the impulses to their activity. In them we find the creative forces of the archetypes themselves. Whoever is able to rise to these regions makes acquaintance with purposes that underlie our world.* Like living germ-points, the archetypes still lie here ready to assume the most manifold forms of thought beings. If these germ-points are projected into the lower regions, they well up, as it were, and manifest themselves in the most varied shapes. The ideas through which the human spirit manifests itself creatively in the physical world are the reflection, the shadow, of these germinal thought beings of the higher spiritual world. The observer with the spiritual ear who rises from the lower regions of spiritland to these higher ranges becomes aware that sounds and tones are transformed into a spiritual language. He begins to perceive the Spiritual Word through which the things and beings no longer make known to him their nature in music alone, but now express it in words. They utter what can be called in spiritual science their eternal names. (See Addendum 11.)
* That such a term as “purposes” can also only be used in the sense of a “simile” is obviously self-explanatory from what was said above about the difficulties of expressing in language such thoughts as these. The last thing intended is to warm over the old “doctrine of purpose.” See also Addendum 10.
We must visualize these thought germ-beings as possessing a composite nature. Only the germ-sheath is taken out of the element of the thought world, and this surrounds the true life kernel. With it we have reached the confines of the three worlds because the kernel has its origin in still higher worlds. When man was described in the preceding pages according to his components were called life spirit and spirit man. There are similar life kernels for other beings in the cosmos. They originate in higher worlds and are placed in the three that have been described in order to accomplish their tasks in them.
The human spirit will now be followed on its further pilgrimage through spiritland between two embodiments or incarnations. While doing this the conditions and distinguishing characteristics of this “land” will once more come clearly into view.
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