Sacred Texts  Esoteric  Theosophy  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Theosophy, by Rudolf Steiner, [1910], at

p. 129


Before the spirit can be observed on its further pilgrimage the land which it enters must first be examined. It is the "World of the Spirit." (In theosophical literature this is called the "mental" world. Here, the expression "World of the Spirit" or "Spirit-land" will be used.) This world is so unlike the physical that all that is said about it will appear fantastic to him who is willing to trust his physical senses only. And what has already been said in regard to the world of the soul holds good here to a still higher degree; that is, that one has to use analogies in order to describe it. For our speech, which for the most part serves only for the realities of the senses, is not richly blessed with expressions for the "Spirit-land." It is therefore especially necessary here to ask the reader to understand much that is said as an indication only. For everything that is described here is so unlike the physical world that it can only in this way be depicted. The author is ever conscious of how little this account can really resemble the experiences of this region owing

p. 130

to the imperfection of our speech, 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 material of which human thought consists. But thought, as it lives in man, is only a shadow picture, a phantom of its true being. As the shadow of an object on the wall is related to the real object which throws this shadow, so is the thought that springs up in man related to the being in the spirit land which corresponds to this thought. Now when the spiritual sense of man is awakened he really perceives this thought-being just as the eye of the senses perceives the table or the chair. He goes about in a region of thought-beings. The corporeal eye perceives the lion, and the corporeal thinking thinks merely the thought "lion" as a phantom, a shadow picture. The spiritual eye sees in Spirit-land the thought "lion" as really and actually as the corporeal eye sees the physical lion. Here we may refer to the analogy already used regarding the soul land. Just as the surroundings of a man born blind and operated upon appear all at once with the new

p. 131

qualities of color and light, so are the surroundings of the person who learns to use his spiritual eye seen to be filled with a new world, the world of living thoughts or spirit beings.

There are to be seen in this world, first, the spiritual archetypes of all things and beings which are present in the physical and in the soul world. Imagine the picture of a painter existing in the 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 practical work. In the real "World of Spirit" there are such Archetypes for all things, and the physical things and beings are copies of these Archetypes. When any person who trusts only his outer senses denies this archetypal world, and holds Archetypes to be merely abstractions which the intellect, by comparing the objects of the senses, arrives at, it is quite to be understood; for such a one simply cannot see in this higher world; he

p. 132

knows the thought world only in its shadowy abstractness. He does not know that the person with spiritual vision is as familiar with the spirit beings as he 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.

The first look into this "Spirit-land" is still more bewildering than that into the soul world. For the Archetypes in their true form are very unlike their sensible copies. They are, however, just as unlike their shadows, the abstract thoughts. In the spiritual world all is in continuous, mobile activity, a ceaseless creating. A state of rest, a remaining in one place, such as one has in the physical world, does not exist here. For the Archetypes are creative beings. They are the master builders of all that comes into being in the physical world and the soul world. Their forms change rapidly; and in each Archetype lies the possibility of assuming myriads of specialized forms. They, as it were, let different shapes well up out of them, and scarcely is one produced than the Archetype prepares to pour forth the next one. The Archetypes are

p. 133

related to each other in varying degrees of closeness. 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 "Spirit-land," there is something else experienced that is to be regarded as "spiritual hearing." As soon, that is to say, as the clairvoyant rises out of the soul world into the spirit world the Archetypes that are perceived become sounding as well. The observer feels as if he were in an ocean of tones. And in these tones, in these spiritual chimes, the Beings of the spirit world express themselves. The primordial laws of their existence express their mutual relationships and affinities in the intermingling of their sounds, their harmonies, melodies, and rhythms. What the intellect perceives in the physical world as law, as idea, reveals itself to the "spiritual ear" as a kind of music. (Hence the Pythagoreans called these perceptions of the spiritual world the "music of the spheres." To the possessor of the "spiritual ear" this "music of the

p. 134

spheres" is not something merely figurative, allegorical, but a spiritual reality well known to him.) If one wishes to gain a conception of this "spiritual music" one has to lay aside all ideas of the music of the senses as perceived by the material ear. For it is here a matter of "spiritual perception" and therefore of a kind which must remain silent for the "ear of the senses." In the following descriptions of the "Spirit-land" reference to this "spiritual music" will for the sake of simplicity be omitted. One has only to form a mental picture in which everything described as "Type," 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, etc. For one 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. Where, therefore, Archetypes, the Primal Types, are spoken of in the following pages, the Primal Tones are to be thought of as also present.

Now it is necessary in the first place to

p. 135

distinguish the different kinds of Archetypes. In the "Spirit-land" also one has to differentiate numerous grades or regions in order to steer 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 mutually interpenetrating and suffusing each other. The first region contains the "Archetypes" of the physical world in so far as it is not endowed with life. The Archetypes of the minerals are to be found here—also those of the plants; but the latter only in so far as they are purely physical, that is, in so far as one does not take into account the life in them. In the same way one finds here the physical forms of the animals and of human beings. This does not exhaust all that is to be found in this region, but merely illustrates it by the readiest examples. This region forms the basic structure of the "Spirit-land." It can be likened to the solid land of our physical earth. It forms the continental masses of the "Spirit-land." Its relationship with the physical, corporal world can only be described by means of an illustration. One gains some idea of it in the following way. One has to

p. 136

picture a limited space filled with physical bodies of the most varied kinds. Then think these bodies away and conceive in their place cavities in space having their forms. The intervening spaces, on the other hand, which were previously empty one must think of as filled with the most varied forms, having manifold relationships with the former bodies. This is somewhat like the appearance presented by the lowest region of the Archetypal world. In it the things and beings which become embodied in the physical world are present as "spacial cavities." And in the intervening spaces the mobile activity of the Archetypes (and the "spiritual music") plays out its course. During their formation into physical forms the spacial cavities become, as it were, filled up with physical matter. He who looks into space with both physical and spiritual eyes sees the physical bodies and, in between, the mobile activity of the creative Archetypes.

The second region of the "Spirit-land" contains the Archetypes of life. But this life forms here a perfect unity. It streams through the world of spirit like a fluid element,

p. 137

as it were, like blood pulsating through all. It may be likened to the sea and the water systems of the physical earth. The manner in which it is distributed, however, is more like the distribution of blood in the animal body than that of the seas and rivers. One could describe this second stage of the "Spirit-land" as Flowing Life, formed of thought material. In this element are the creative Primal Forces producing everything that appears in the physical reality as living being. Here it is evident that all life is a unity, that the life in me is related to the life of all my fellow creatures.

The Archetypes of all soul formations must be designated as the third region of the "Spirit-land." Here one finds oneself in a much finer and rarer element than in the first two regions. To use a comparison, one can call it the air or atmosphere of the "Spirit-land." Everything that goes on in the souls of both the other worlds has here its spiritual counterpart. Here all feelings, sensations, instincts, passions, etc., are again present, but in a spiritual way. The atmospheric events in the air region correspond with the sorrows

p. 138

and joys of the creatures in the other worlds. The longing of the human soul is here perceived as a gentle zephyr; an outbreak of passion is like a stormy blast. He who has the ability to perceive here notes the sigh of every creature should he direct his attention to it. One can, for example, observe at times something like a loud storm with flashing lightning and rolling thunder; and, if one investigates the matter, one finds that the passions of a battle waged on earth are expressed in such "spirit tempests."

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 render possible their working together. They are accordingly occupied with the ordering and grouping of these more subordinate Archetypes. From this region, therefore, a more comprehensive activity issues than from the lower ones.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh regions differ essentially from the preceding ones. For the Beings in them supply the Archetypes with the impulses to their activity. In

p. 139

them one finds the creative forces of the Archetypes themselves. He who is able to rise to these regions makes acquaintance with the purposes which underlie our world. The Archetypes lie here, as yet, like living germ-points, ready to assume the most manifold forms of thought-beings. If these germ-points are guided into the lower regions they well out, as it were, and manifest themselves in the most varied shapes. (It is for this reason that in theosophical literature these three higher regions of the "Spirit-land" are called the Arupa, in contrast with the four lower, which are called the Rupa regions. Arupa means formless; Rupa, having form.) The ideas through which the human spirit manifests itself creatively in the physical world are the reflection, the shadow, of these Germ Thought-beings of the higher spiritual world. The observer with the spiritual ear who rises from the lower regions of the "Spirit-land" to these higher ones, becomes aware that sounds and tones are changed into a "spiritual language." He begins to perceive the "spiritual word" through which the things and beings do not now make known to him their

p. 140

nature in music alone, but express it in "words." They say to him what one calls in "spirit science" their "eternal name."

One must picture to oneself that these Germ Thought-beings are of a composite nature. Out of the element of the thought world only the germ-sheath, as it were, is taken. And this surrounds the true Life kernel. With it we have reached the confines of the "three worlds." For the "kernel" has its origin in still higher worlds. When man was described above according to his components this "Life kernel" of the human being was mentioned, and its components were called "life spirit" and "spirit man." (Theosophical literature applies to these the names budhi and atma.) There are similar "Life kernels" for other Beings in the Cosmos. They originate in higher worlds and are placed in the three described, in order to accomplish their tasks in them.

The human spirit will now be followed on its further pilgrimage through the "Spirit-land" between two embodiments or incarnations. While doing this the relationships and

p. 141

distinguishing characteristics of this "land" will once more come clearly into view.

Next: 4. The Spirit in Spirit-Land after Death