An Occult Physiology
7. The Conscious Life of Man
27 March 1911, Prague
We have been able, in the course of these lectures, to form the impression that the different systems of organs and structural parts of the human being participate in the greatest variety of ways in the combination of processes within the organism. We have referred to various facts in this connection, and have found ourselves already compelled to ascribe as a preliminary the activities at work in the different systems of organs to higher, super-sensible members of the human organism. We had to assert, for instance, that in man the circulation of the blood bears an intimate relation to what we call the human ego, so that we had to speak of the blood as an instrument of the human ego; and, further, we have been able to attribute to the nervous system everything which as conscious life comes to meet this ego. We have at the same time shown how one special portion of the nerve-system, the sympathetic nerve-system, has a function to a certain extent contrary to that of the rest of this system, a function which consists in holding back everything that goes on in the depths of man's organisation, everything that is brought about by the activity of the members of the inner cosmic system in man, so that for the normal consciousness it does not at first force its way up to the horizon of the ego. Yesterday, moreover, we attempted to arrive at an approximate understanding of the fact that what has constructed itself into the firm bony scaffolding, withdraws itself most of all from this conscious life of man; yet at the same time we had to emphasise the fact that, even in this solid scaffolding, a quality of Being must be active such as enables man to evolve an organ for the life of his ego, namely, the circulation of the blood.
We may, therefore, draw the conclusion that the significance of the depositing of the bony system in man, as related to his whole organisation, consists in the fact that he can maintain a human form at all; and that everything expressed in the processes which take place in this solid bony system is kept in the subconscious. We have always to do with something of this kind in the human organisation, and we must be especially clear that something within it is shielded from the influences that play a part in our environment in the great world. We have stated, for example, that the seven members of the inner cosmic system, especially that most spiritual one among them, the spleen, restrain the working of the external laws natural to what we take in as nourishment; that they convey the nutritive substances into the organism in such a manner that they are finally filtered into a form which enables them to exert their powers in conformity with laws and a vital activity of their own. This shielding of the inner processes, this transforming and implanting of outside matter, is most visible and obvious in the warmth of the blood. This blood-warmth, which operates within strict limits of temperature, is regulated by conformity to its own inner laws; and, in this conformity it is, in normal life, independent of what takes place in the warmth-processes of the macrocosm, of the great world about us. Here in the stability of the temperature of the blood we have a perfectly obvious fundamental phenomenon. We must point out, therefore, that one of the most essential elements in the inner organisation of man is that something possessed of Being is cut off within set limits from the macrocosm and develops a vital activity of its own.
Now in order to advance still further in our understanding of the human organism, it will be well for us to-day to proceed for a short while from another direction, so as to direct our attention briefly to the conscious life. We know already from the preceding lectures that the conscious life of man employs the instruments of the blood and the nervous system. We have not, however, been able to go into the finer processes; for this investigation is something, we must frankly confess, still liable to startle the outside world which so depends upon present-day customary science. On the other hand, anyone who has a basis of genuine and true occultism will tell you that the tendency of modern science is leading toward a confirmation, in the course of the next few decades, of those things which we are able to bring forward at the present time, though, to be sure, only through occult observations. If I could hold lectures for half a year, instead of this short series, it would be possible out of the findings of modern science alone to bring forward all that is necessary for external proof of what must be only briefly intimated to-day. 1See Grundlegendes fur eine Erweiterung der Heilkunst nach geisteswissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen, 1925 Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag, Dornach. As it is, however, I must leave very much to the good will of my audience. It is possible, indeed, in the case of everything stated here, to trace our way to external science which is already in a position, provided it begins with facts and not theoretical prejudices, to discover confirmation, on the basis of its present-day findings, for what may be learned in the sphere of occultism.
Now if we are to start out from our conscious life — and I beg you to understand all these discussions as having such a basis and to consider the relation of the more or less conscious soul-life to our organism — we must keep in mind, as indeed is done in ordinary physiology, all that we call our thought-activity in its most comprehensive sense. We do not need in this connection to go into all the niceties of logical and psychological distinctions, but must simply realise that we have here to do with the thought-life of man, and furthermore, within the realm of our soul's life, with the life of feeling and willing.
You will never find any contradiction among those who have a foundation of true occultism, when it is asserted that all processes in our soul-life which take place on the physical plane, and which fall into any one of the categories of our thinking, feeling, or willing life, are accompanied, in a normal state of consciousness, by actual material processes in the organism, whether endued with life or not. We may find, therefore, that for literally everything which takes place in our soul there are corresponding material processes within our organism. And it is precisely this fact that is of the very greatest interest. For it will be for the first time possible in the next few decades, as a result of certain tendencies in contemporary science, for the present still only tendencies, actually to discover these correspondences between soul-processes and physiological processes, and thus to confirm what we have attained through occultism.
For every thought-process there is a corresponding process within our organism; and the same is true in the case of every emotional process, and every process which may be denoted as an “impulse of will.” We might put it in this way: whenever something takes place in our soul-life it produces a wave which repeats itself as far down as the physical organism. Let us take first the process of thinking, what occurs in thought. And here I wish to call attention to the fact that it is best to fix our minds upon a thought process that is either purely mathematical, or one which is equally objective and which leaves our feeling and willing in a certain sense uninfluenced; that is, we shall first consider thought-processes in pure and unalloyed form. What happens in our organism when such thought-processes go on within our soul-life? Every time we fix upon a thought, there takes place in our organism a process which we may compare with another one of a different kind; by this I do not mean that what I am here stating is an analogy, for it is not an analogy, but an actual fact; and, when I say “we may compare” I mean that this comparison is to lead us to the facts of the matter. We may compare it with what takes place when we dissolve any kind of salt in a glass of water heated to a certain temperature, and by allowing this water to cool cause the salt to crystallise, thus bringing about the very opposite of the process of solution. When the salt is entirely dissolved the water is transparent; but when the water has cooled again, and the opposite process takes place in it, the salt separates itself from the water and crystallises again. There comes about a re-formation of the salt, a depositing of salt in the water. And when we observe water which at first was warm and then is brought to a state in which the salt re-crystallises in it, we see that there within the liquid a solid substance takes form. Something solid settles again, a salt-deposit. (As I said before, I have taken it for granted that these statements as to results of occult research will at first startle anyone who accepts quite pedantically, and in a purely conventional way, the facts recorded by external science.)
Now exactly the same process takes place within our organism when we think. This corresponding process of thinking is a salt-depositing process, so to speak, which is caused by a certain activity in our blood and which irritates and reacts upon our nerve-system, a process, that is, which goes on on the “frontiers” between our blood- and nerve-systems. And just as we can look at the water in the glass and observe the formation of the salt as it separates and crystallises, so we may see, when we observe a human being exercising thought, that just such a process, supersensibly perceptible in all its exactness to the clairvoyant eye, actually does take place. Thus we have here brought before our minds the physical correlative of the process of thought.
At this point we may ask what is the nature of the corresponding correlative of feeling? Here we do not have to do with a depositing of solidifying salt, which is the opposite of the process of solution; but we find that within our organism what we may call refined processes take place which are somewhat like that of a fluid becoming semi-solid. Let us imagine, for instance, a fluid which is just solid enough to take on form — about as much form as there is in very thick albumen: a coagulation, that is, or the thickening of a fluid. Whereas, in the case of thought-processes, we have to do with the direct production of a salt-substance which is deposited out of a fluid, in everything pertaining to feeling we have to do with a transition from an inwardly more fluid state to a semi-fluid one. The substance is here transformed into a somewhat more dense condition which, with clairvoyant sight, may be identified as the formation of small flakes, just as if, in a glass containing a fluid, you were to bring about through certain processes the process of a flake-formation, or an inner changing of a fluid substance into tiny semi-liquid drops.
When we go on to what we may call the cherishing of a will-impulse in the soul, we find that the physical correlative of this again is different. It is, moreover, even easier to grasp; in fact, we come here to that aspect in which the physical is considerably more manifest. The physical correlative of what conforms to will-impulse is a sort of warming-process, a process, indeed, which in some way or other produces certain degrees of heightened temperature within the organism, a becoming hot, in a certain sense. Now we may also conclude from this, since this becoming warm is connected with the whole pulsation of our blood, that it is precisely and altogether with this that the impulses of will are connected. It is not very difficult, if one has even only a moderate capacity for true observation, to be able actually to see that such processes, both in the human and also in the animal organisation, can have their physical correlatives.
Thus we may to a certain extent characterise in this way the physical correlatives which accompany the inner soul-processes. What I have just been characterising is obviously not something of a crude physical nature, but rather extraordinarily fine and minute processes, fine to such a degree, indeed, as cannot usually be imagined. With the exception, perhaps, of the processes of warmth, they are of such a nature that, in comparison with all that we know of similar processes in the outside physical world, they manifest an extreme delicacy. They are processes which the organism carries out by means of all its forces, when the ego is active, with the help of the instrument of the blood: from the process of salt-depositing to the coagulation of fluid and the producing of warmth. They are in part of such a nature that we might say the entire organism is affected by them; or, in the case of the thinking process for example that one part of our organisation, the brain or the spinal cord, is chiefly affected by them. Moreover these processes, which are the results of the influence of soul- processes, are distributed in the most varied way possible in the human organism. When we gradually learn to know that these are facts we come to the point where we are compelled to admit that what we call thoughts or feelings are actual forces, which have a real influence within the physical organisation and which express themselves in real effects; so that, as a result of purely occult observation, we are obliged to speak of a real action of the soul upon the human organism. These real effects in the finer processes will, during the next few decades, reveal themselves gradually and ultimately become entirely accessible to the more refined methods of science, even to external investigation. There will then be an end to that opposition which, arising not out of the facts of science but obviously out of certain preconceived theories with reference to these facts, combats such affirmations as may be based upon occult knowledge.
Now we have also pointed out that what we look upon as a conscious activity of the ego is after all only one part of man's being; and that, below the threshold of what enters in this manner within the horizon of our consciousness there are processes which occur in the subconsciousness, and which are held back from our consciousness, by means of the sympathetic nervous system. We have been able to indicate from various points of view that these processes which take place below the level of consciousness have also a certain kind of connection with our ego. We have said, with regard to the most unconscious part of us, our bony system, that it is organised throughout in such a way as to be able to give to the instrument of the conscious ego the basis for an ego. Thus, out of the unconscious, an ego-organisation arises to meet the conscious ego-organisation. Man is thus divided, as it were, into two parts: from one direction the conscious ego-organisation works into the organism, and from the other there flows into man the unconscious ego-organisation. We have seen that the blood-system and the bony system really form a certain antithesis; they act like opposite poles. The blood in its inner activity responds to and follows, as an instrument, the activity of the ego; on the contrary, that part which is organised as the other pole of the ego so that the ego is able to express itself in the blood, namely the bony system, withdraws itself from the quickened inner life of the ego to such an extent that the ego has no consciousness of anything that goes on within this bony system, and the processes here take their course below the surface of what goes on in the actually conscious ego-life. These are processes, therefore, which correspond to our ego-activity yet at the same time are as truly dead as our blood-processes are living; and they are, as a matter of fact, only one portion of those processes which remain unconscious to the ego, and which only gradually rise more and more up into the conscious.
If we study this bony system thoughtfully with regard to its functioning as a whole in the human organism, we cannot but be struck by the fact that it really withdraws itself, as it were, from all conscious life, and that it does this to a greater degree than any of the other systems of organs. If at the same time we go on from this bony system to the other organic systems, for example, to that inner cosmic system of the liver and spleen, the heart and lungs, etc., we are compelled to affirm that the processes within these systems are also to a very high degree withdrawn from our conscious life, although not so completely as those in our bony system. We certainly need to give far less conscious thought and attention to our bony system than to these other organs just mentioned. Some of these latter make known very clearly in their functions, in the case of some people at any rate, that they do reach up into the plane of consciousness. Just as beings which dwell in the waters of the ocean push the waves up to the surface, so does much of what goes on in the heart or the other organs belonging to these systems push its way up into our conscious life. We know how hypochondriacs, to their own injury, naturally, are partly aware of these things even though in an entirely different way, to be sure, from that in which they actually take place below. I do not here refer at all to the fact that a certain degree of illness may be developed in these organs, for then it is, of course, something quite different which causes the person to become conscious of them. I mean that one need not come anywhere near that borderline which a healthy man may designate as “bordering on being ill.” This border-line, unfortunately, gets very much displaced nowadays, to the great injury of humanity. We know, at the same time, that we are protected from becoming conscious of what goes on below by means of the sympathetic nervous system opposing these inner processes.
If we recognise in the bony system something that so builds man up, as regards his form and structure, that the blood-system can be a fitting instrument within it for the ego, we must have a certain understanding, after what has just been stated, of the fact that the other organs, for example, those organs belonging to the inner cosmic system, are in their turn in a certain sense in the process of growing to meet the conscious life of man which is destined to unfold itself as the flowering of man's organisation. We must see clearly that all of these organs, although they are not permeated with fully conscious life, do nevertheless contain that something which is growing toward our soul-life, just as we have seen that our bony system is growing toward the ego-life.
Now we must ask ourselves at this point: to what extent then, does this inner system, which we may designate as an inner cosmic system, grow toward man's conscious soul-life? If, on the one hand, it is clear to us that in the bony system we have our surest support for what brings order into the blood-system, enabling this blood-system to evolve into an instrument of our ego, and its separate parts to occupy the right places, we must admit, on the other hand, that the function of the bony system as the fundamental basis of our organisation is such that it also supports, at the same time, those organs constituting an inner cosmic system, and brings them into the right position. For the same thing in the bony system which is advantageous to the blood-system is also advantageous to these organs. And, if we make even a purely external study of these organs, we shall be especially struck by the fact that we can discover nothing in them, either in their disposition or even in their form, that is so intimately related to the outer limits of man's form as is the bony system.
We have something then, in man, which we may describe by saying that the bony system is the foundation, and whatever is disposed around it can be thus disposed only because it gives man his basic form. If we recognise in man's skin his external boundary, we must affirm that to a great extent this external skin-boundary is already forecast by the whole structure of the bony system, a fact which led to Goethe saying in such impressive words, not merely aesthetically impressive but wonderfully fine also as a scientific expression: “There is nothing in the skin which is not also in the bones.” That is to say, in the external skin-formation, by means of which man's being is expressed in form, is demonstrated what is already there as a model in the bony system. This we cannot say with regard to our inner cosmic system. Yet, on the other hand, the fact that the functioning of this inner cosmic system thrusts itself up into lower levels of consciousness shows us that it has something to do with our astral body; for the astral body is the bearer of consciousness. And the reason why the astral body as the bearer of consciousness does not consciously experience what goes on in this inner cosmic system is that the sympathetic nerve-system holds it back. This we have already mentioned.
We must affirm, therefore, that this inner cosmic system does not appear to be an expression of the subconscious self, that self which is to be found as a model deep down in the foundation of man's being but, rather, that it is so incorporated in us through the universal cosmic process, that its relation to our astral body is similar to that other relation which enables the human form as expressed in the bony system to offer a basis for the most comprehensive form of the ego. We may say, therefore, that in the bony system, but deep down in the unconscious, we have an already highly developed pattern of the human ego; and that in what we call our inner cosmic system we have the pattern of our so-called astral body. It is important to keep this disposition clearly in mind: the bony system serves as a basic model for all that we call our ego — naturally, we mean this in the sense in which we are here discussing it — and the inner cosmic system for what we call our astral body.
Of course this inner cosmic system, in its entire organisation, since it still lies almost wholly below the level of consciousness, does not in any way derive from the conscious soul-life but is implanted in us, through our external organisation, out of the cosmos. This means that something we may call a cosmic astral element merges with us in such a way that it expresses itself in our inner cosmic system. In our bony system, there is merged into our whole organism, here again out of our whole environment, that which the cosmic process is able to bestow upon us. Since this is connected with the entire form of our physical organisation, we must say that this bony system is really, as a result, the basis of our physical body so far as this appears before us within the boundary of its physical form. A macrocosmic element or, to put it plainly, a cosmic system, which has given us the physical form we have as human beings, has been deposited in our bony system; a macrocosmic astral world-system is deposited in our inner cosmic system. The ego, in so far as it appears as a conscious ego, has the blood-system for its instrument; but, in so far as it is forecast as form, as structure, there lies at its foundation a cosmic force-system which presses into the ego-organisation, into the firm ego-formation, and which sets its deepest imprint in our bony system.
Let us grasp the matter clearly from still another point of view. We know that everything which manifests itself in the ego as a thought-element comes to expression through a kind of salt-deposit, if I may use such an expression as this; for you can well understand that ordinary expressions are scarcely to be found for things which are not in the least understood by the ordinary human consciousness, yet are known by clairvoyant consciousness to be a process of salt-deposit of the finest possible kind. In our bony system, in which our ego was modelled beforehand out of the cosmos, and where it has its firmest support so that the whole organism possesses this support, there also we may accordingly expect to find that a “salt-deposit” must have been forecast for us as thinking beings, and here again through the physical process of salt-depositing. In other words we may expect to find salt-deposits in the bony system. And, in actual fact, we do find that the bones consist of phosphate of lime and calcium carbonate, that is, of salt-deposits.
Thus we have, here again, two opposite poles. Man is a thinking being, and it is the thought-process that makes him inwardly a stable being (for, in a certain sense, our thought-system is our inner bony system; we have definite, sharply-outlined thoughts; and though our feelings are more or less indefinite, wavering, and different in each one of us, the thought-systems are inserted in stable form in the feeling system). Now whereas these stable insertions of thought in the conscious life manifest themselves through a sort of animated, mobile process of salt-depositing, that which prepares the way for these in the bony system, giving them the right support, expresses itself in the fact that the macrocosm out of its own formative processes so builds up our bony system that a part of its nature consists of deposited salts. These deposited salts of the bony system are the quiescent element in us: they are the opposite pole to those inner vital activities which are at play in the process of salt-depositing corresponding to the principle of thought. Thus we are made capable of thought through influences acting from two sides upon our organisation: from one side unconsciously through the fact that our bony system is built up within us; from the other side consciously in that we ourselves bring about, after the model of our bone-building process, conscious processes which manifest themselves as of like nature in our organism, and of which we may say that they are inwardly active processes. For the salt that is here formed must again at once be dissolved by sleep, must be got rid of, for otherwise it would induce destructive processes, causing dissolution. Thus we have processes that begin with salt-depositings and then are followed by destructive processes, constituting a sort of reactionary process. In the re-dissolving of the deposits, beneficent sleep acts upon us in the way we need, to the end that we may ever anew develop conscious thought in our fully awake life of day.
If we proceed further, we can understand that all processes which occur within the human organism must take place between these two polar-extremes of salt-formation. It is with the process of salt-formation in the spiritual sense that we have here to do, but this must be conceived as I have to-day explained it. It will not do simply to say: “Thinking is a process of salt-formation”; for people will then imagine what is now popularly conceived by the untrained person as the process of salt-formation; and then it will be easy to say that Spiritual Science maintains absurdities and nonsense. Between these processes, which must be conceived only in the sense we have indicated, there lie all the other processes to which we have called attention. For, if we have salt-formation occurring in a vitally active thought-process, and the opposite pole of this in the salt-formation of our bony system which has to a certain extent come to rest, we can likewise affirm that we have all through our organs the opposite pole of what we may designate as the liquefying process, as inner coagulation, as a flocculent process, albumen-like insertions or something similar. In this case, again, it is not to be found only under the influence of our own feeling life, which takes its course more in the depths of the soul, but from the bone-building process also. In this connection we must say that all processes which are more inward in character (which belong more to the soul and to the central processes of our organism than does the bone-forming process) are involved in the unconscious liquefying processes and thickening of substances which are formed and deposited as we have described. Now the first thing we come upon here is something in which the bone-building process is actually involved, namely, those liquefying processes to be found in what is mingled with the bone-salts as the so-called bone-glue. In these processes the other pole of our bony system participates and thereby meets that which forms the physical correlative of our feeling process. The process connected with the will impulse expresses itself in a warmth process, an inner warming process, so to speak. Processes of combustion, the formation of combinations which we call inner processes of oxidation, occur throughout our entire organisation; and, in so far as these go on below the threshold of consciousness and have nothing to do with the conscious life, will-impulses and the like, they belong to that other part of our organisation which is shut off by the corresponding organs and is susceptible to influence from the subconscious life.
The human being is thus protected inwardly on one side by a part of his organism in which these processes take their course much as they do outwardly in the macrocosm; and on the other side his protection is such that these processes are connected with his soul-processes, and are of a finer kind as has been explained. And so these physiological processes take place in our organism, salt-forming, liquefying, and warmth producing processes, which are the result of our conscious life; and others which take place outside our conscious life, in such a way that they furnish the basis for what prepares itself beforehand in the human organism in order that the processes adapted to the conscious life may take place. Our organism as a whole is thus a texture woven of those processes which we must describe as belonging in part to our conscious life and in part to the unconscious. It is an extraordinarily significant fact that our organism actually does represent a union formed out of two polaric extremes: that processes of coarser nature take place in such a way that they radiate into the organism, as it were, out of the macrocosm; and that, on the other hand, there are processes of a finer sort which arise out of our conscious life.
Now, since the organism is a single whole and all these parts interpenetrate and influence one another, the situation in this organism, as we have it to-day, is such that all these processes likewise play into one another and that we cannot so separate them one from another as to fix definite boundaries between them. One process plays into another. You need consider only the blood, the most vitally active and finest element. In this element you may perceive a stimulator of the salt-forming process, the process of condensation of a fluid, and the warming process. And likewise in all the systems of organs you may perceive how these processes take their course, and how they are stimulated. Let us therefore say, for example, that when we take nutritive substances from without into our digestive canal these nutritive substances have within themselves what I have called “external vital activity.” They pass through what we may call the first stage of filtering by being taken in and digested by the stomach and what pertains to it; and they are then worked up in more special details by the inner cosmic system, and conveyed to where they can also nourish the finest instrument of the organism, the blood. Thus it is the inner cosmic system which undertakes this first filtering of the nutritive substances, which then have to be conveyed to all the other systems. At the same time, since we have recognised a series of stages in the organic systems of man, we may readily conceive that the most delicate system of all, the blood, must take into itself the most completely filtered vital activities of the nutriment, and that, when anything whatever enters into the blood, it contains by that time only the very least possible amount of that inner vital activity that was in the substances when they were taken in by the stomach. When the substances enter into the stomach they still contain a considerable part of their own nature and essential character, their own vital activity. But when once they are in the blood they must have surrendered all this, in so far as they are nutritive substances that have been conducted into the blood, and must have become something new. The blood is thus something which shields inwardly, in the highest degree, all its processes, something that carries on its processes in the greatest measure independently of the outer world. Such is the blood from he one point of view.
But we have already indicated that this blood is like a tablet which is equally exposed on its two sides, exposed, that is, to impressions coming from both directions. It is turned on the one side to the subconscious processes in the deeper regions of the human organism, where the nutritive substances, after going through filtering processes, come up and force their way to the blood. The influence of everything occurring there is diminished by the sympathetic nervous system, so that it does not reach our consciousness. And the other side of the tablet must be turned by the blood to the experiences of the conscious life of the soul. Not only the unconscious activities of the ego, which work up from the bony system, but also the conscious soul-activities, belonging to the other ego, must penetrate into the blood. They must be able to metamorphose themselves by the time they reach the blood, in order that they then may become the expression of what we have about us in our environment as physical-sensible world; for of course that which is woven into the plant world as ether-body, for example, is not visible to normal consciousness. It is the physical world, first of all, that we have around us; and, for the normal consciousness, we ourselves belong only to the physical world. Thus we expose this other side of our “blood-tablet” to the physical-sensible world which then becomes the content of our consciousness. The entire soul-life, as it is stimulated into thought through the impressions of the physical-sensible world and as it flames into feelings and is stirred into impulses of will, must find its instrument in the blood-system in so far as it is conscious ego-life.
And what does this signify? Nothing other than this: that not only are we able to have in our blood that into which the nutritive substances have been changed, when they have been driven upward from the subconscious and filtered to the point where they may lead a life of their own in the blood, shielded from all macrocosmic laws; but also that there must be inscribed on the other side of the tablet of the blood all that occurs in the physical-sensible realm, in the lifeless matter of the physical-sensible world, which is known to us through sense-impressions and appears to our consciousness, at first, in the form of everything that can make impressions. For whatever goes to make up life can become known to the normal consciousness only through combinations of physical sense-impressions. In reality it becomes known only through the next higher super-sensible member, the ether-body. Thus the blood must be capable of being also related to the physical-sensible world just as this immediately surrounds us.
We may, accordingly, expect to find that something is incorporated into the blood which, we might say, does not manifest itself there as if it were due to the influence of processes working up from the lower depths of our nature, but rather as if it were due to the influence of external macrocosmic laws and vital activities. We must have in our blood, therefore, something that is similar in character and action to direct external processes, which take their course outside of us in the same way in which they gradually come later to take their course within our organism. That is, there must be physical, chemical, inorganic processes which take their course within our blood, which are necessary to enable our ego to take part in the physical world. Thus we shall have to seek in the blood for processes wherein substances can act through their physical-sensible character, in accordance with what they are in the macrocosm. And this we do find, as a matter of fact, in that something is presented to us in the red corpuscles which shows us that it is just beginning to live, and is at the point where it passes over to the state of lifelessness. And from the other side of the tablet something is incorporated into the blood which we may call a process easily comparable to an external process of combustion. In short we have in the blood, disposed on the other side, and recognisable even physically, everything that makes man a physical-sensible being through the fact that in the blood he has an instrument for his ego which is living in this physical-sensible world.
Thus, even concerning the organisation of the blood, physical chemical research itself can show us how significant, how illuminating, occult premisses may be for what is presented to direct inquiry into the physiology of man.
From all the foregoing we may say that we have in the human organism, in the first place, processes which are stimulated by the blood-process in so far as this is related to the outside world, and which constitute physical-sensible processes of the outside world; but that we have also other processes which reach as far as the blood-system from the other direction, and are fitted into this system after they have been filtered to the last degree. Only when we clearly perceive this will the blood appear to us the truly important organ it is. We shall see that it has on the one hand turned its entire being, so to speak, toward life in the very lowest and most basic forms that we know round about us, so that it almost becomes a material substance which tends continually to evoke physical chemical processes in order to be able to serve as an instrument for the ego; and on the other hand that it is the most completely shielded of substances, which carries on inner processes that could not be carried on anywhere else, because everything which is pre-requisite to those processes is dependent upon all the other processes that fit themselves into the processes of the blood. In other words the finest and highest processes which are stimulated out of the depths of our organism unite, within the circuit of our blood, with the other, the physical chemical processes, which obey the laws of the external world. In no other substance does the physical-sensible world come into such direct contact, as does the blood, with something of an entirely different character which, for its very existence, presupposes the activity of super-sensible systems of force. In fact, this blood is something in which the lowliest that man can see in processes around him is blended with the loftiest that can take on organic form within his nature.
It will be entirely clear to us, therefore, that in these blood-processes we have before us something which, if it becomes irregular, unrhythmical, must cause irregularities in the greatest measure in our entire organism. And since the blood is the expression of the whole collection of organic processes we shall have to consider carefully, in connection with irregularities of the blood, where abnormal phenomena are manifest, difficult to distinguish individually, to which particular course of processes we must attribute these irregularities. If, for instance, they are to be found in those processes in the blood-channels which follow the pattern of physical chemical processes in the outer world, we shall then have to be quite clear that these irregularities, which we must learn to recognise and not confuse them, must be dealt with from the side of consciousness, in so far as this consciousness is associated with the physical plane. And here a field is opened, a therapeutic field, which we may think of as one by way of which we shall learn to see whether certain irregularities in the circulation of the blood are connected with such processes as we may call in the true sense of the term physical chemical processes. We shall then be able to intervene by means of such external impressions and appropriate control of external sense-impressions as we can evoke in dealing with a human being, in this case such external impressions as can produce physical chemical processes, that is, through everything which we can convey to the physical organism from without. By this we mean not so much the soul and spiritual impressions we can employ, though these are also included, as all those especially which we can effect through a control of the breathing process, through watching over the breathing process and also over the reciprocal action of the human organism and the external world through the skin.
Then again we can also see in the blood-organism the most delicate organic processes working from the other direction. And we shall have to understand, with reference to this blood-organism, that it represents the third stage in the refinement of our nutritive substances. If the blood-organism, because it evokes those delicate processes of salt forming, liquefaction and warmth under the influence of external impressions, is thereby predetermined from without in its physical chemical course by the soul-processes themselves, we may ask how this process as a blood-process is determined from within. We must distinguish the function belonging to the blood by reason of the fact that it is blood; but we must also understand that it needs to be nourished just like any other organ: we must consider it in the same way as any other organ that needs to be nourished. And on the other hand we must also recognise it as the organ standing at the highest stage of organic activity. With regard to this activity we must consider especially what we call the inner support of human life. The blood, which is the opposite extreme, so to speak, from the bony system, must be most of all protected in order that in our thinking it may create, as the instrument of thought in so far as this thought has ego-consciousness — that it may be able to create the process we have called salification. This protection must proceed from the blood itself; therefore the blood must above everything be capable of calling forth, spiritually as it were, a spiritual bony system, must be able itself to cause the process of salt-forming. This is a task to which the blood must so devote itself that it can be independent of the other organs, and need only receive from the other organs the least possible support for its own work. Least of all do the vital activities of the other organs play into this salifying process of the blood, so that in respect to this process of salification, in relation to thought, the blood is what most of all makes the organism an inner one.
And how can we fail to recognise this, since our thought is the most inward thing we have, that in which we most completely interiorise ourselves to our normal consciousness? Whereas in our feelings we are, to our normal consciousness, at the border-line between the inner and the outer, and in our will-impulses we come into such strong contact with the outer world that under ordinary circumstances the human being no longer recognises himself in his will-impulses! Man recognises himself always in his thoughts, but not in his impulses of will. This may be seen from the fact that there has been so much controversy in the world over the question of the freedom or absence of freedom of the human will, as well as over its other qualities. In our thought-system, which has its physical correlative in a process of salification, we have the innermost aspect of what the blood has to accomplish as an instrument of the ego. And since the process of salification must be completely interiorised and protected against the other organs, this capacity of the blood may be most of all hindered by abnormalities within it. When we note that the blood is so hindered that it no longer manifests its capacity in this direction, we must understand that it needs to be stimulated to that sort of activity which has fallen below a certain border-line in its own particular life.
But the other situation may come about, in which the inner vital activity of an organ, let us say, in this case, the organ of the blood, whose inner vital activity is destined to develop a life of its own, passes beyond a certain limit, exercises unduly this life of its own. Among all occurring human irregularities this is by far the most serious, since it has most of all to do with cases of illness. Only very seldom have we to deal with the opposite condition. It is generally the case that certain parts of the inner organisation are too little protected and therefore too intensely stimulated. When the blood shows itself to be most highly stimulated, when it shows an excessive tendency to develop this activity, it then becomes necessary to counteract this. We can remedy this by introducing the appropriate vital activities from without. In other words, we co-operate in the process of salification, of salt-depositing, by the therapeutic introduction of such substances as contribute to bring it about. This leads us at once to see that a kind of system may be introduced into the way in which we have to deal with the irregularities of our organism.
We may now proceed still farther in this direction. When the organs of our inner astral world, our inner cosmic system, spleen, liver, gall-bladder, etc., are excessive in their inner vital activity, as regards the special character of their functions, how can we deal with them? Here we must call to our minds, above all, that these organs are appointed to a work which goes on all the way up to the circulation of the blood; that they have to prepare beforehand, so to speak, the entire organism, have to direct the nutritive substances as far as the blood by taking them over as they are conveyed into the digestive canal and leading them, with their vital activities transformed, to the blood-system. Hence they are the mediators between these two systems. Just as the blood-system manifests the greatest quickening of inner activity, in so far as it constitutes the thought-system, so it takes on an activity that manifests a connection with our life of feeling, in the way we described when we said that in the process of condensation, of inner liquefaction, the blood-system is supported by what radiates from our inner cosmic system. The blood is left almost entirely to itself in so far as it is the instrument of the element of thought in us; it is stimulated by what radiates upward, by that in which the organs of the inner cosmic system participate, through their own action — so that we have here to call attention to an activity which goes even beyond the individual life of the blood and directs us to the individual life of these organs belonging to the inner cosmic system.
Now, when the functions of these organs, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, lungs, and the rest, develop too intense a vital activity, an overflow of life, we are then concerned with the question how we may in similar fashion deal therapeutically with these processes. We have to paralyse the inner vital activities by introducing something which is adapted to maintain the activity, the vitality, of external cosmic life and thus to paralyse the exaggerated inner vitality. Just as we combat the excessive inner vital activities of the blood, paralyse them, so to speak, by introducing salt-containing substances, so we may also reduce the excessive activity of these organs by introducing substances which develop their own inner vital activities and work in opposition to those of the organs concerned.
Thus the question now arises for us, how we can work on these organs and also on the lowest organs, which have a still lower function: on those digestive organs, namely, which have to do with the preliminary preparation of the nutritive substances for the inner cosmic system. In other words, how shall we deal with the individual organic systems when we consider their gradual upbuilding, stage by stage? In tomorrow's lecture we shall answer the question, “How does the picture of a diseased organ appear to us in the light of occult physiology?” And we shall also show how other organs are incorporated, for example, the system of muscles. And we shall bring our reflections to an end by showing that what confronts us in the already evolved organism is quite plainly connected with the becoming organism, with the human germinal life, indeed, it is precisely here that this is so very distinct, if we are able to presuppose occult principles. It will then become clear to us, quite of itself, how the remaining members participate in the work of the human physical organisation.