The Human Being Spiritual and in the present moment Anthroposophy – Dharma

November 2022




Anthroposophy – Dharma

Anthroposophy is the compound of two words, anthropos which means human and Sophia stands for wisdom.


Dharma is a Sanskrit word, meaning is carrier, sustainer.

In another sense, what is real, the real, has been maintained as existence in the Universe.


This is about what, in this instance, has been given to me and partner as a choice to study. Then there are other choices. It has been adopted for the website to offer it to others to use it, at their discretion.

It has not been read by us all at once and even more than once. It comes from both sides.


Taken from original writings and video.

Translated into Dutch by me.


It’s about Being Human. Rudolf Steiner uses the word Human Science.

About to remember and to forget, in connection with the human body, to be more precise, the connection with it.

About the being of disease forms.

About what people are offered to develop the future, although a distant future is also meant, but the explanation is clarifying.

And actually, a plea for spiritual science is woven through it like a thread.


The other comes from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Dharma conversation with the theme “surrender yourself to the present moment”.

The teaching is according to Buddhism.

A truly beautiful enrichment how to deal with yourself as a person in life on Earth, it is also about self-knowledge, self-healing.

Mindfulness and breathing.


Here some as counsels:

It is individual as the first application and later, as it were, through the self, it is disseminated to others.

Taking good care of yourself is the most important thing, because you transfer that energetically to the entire environment.

It is all less simple because of the way many people apply their thinking to it, but repetition or routine can be helpful, fitting into the scheme chosen by the individual.

You will definitely come across adjusting from time to time as an option. Everyone for themselves, but mind you, it’s for each other.

And changes of life aliment make steps for development.


Essence: healing of the self as a human being in togetherness.

There is more and different in the here, in the now.

Love is the Source of vital importance, the heartbeat and breathing of Creation.

Enjoying the smallest moments can provide enormous relief.

Decide for yourself how much you want to read, small portions are advised.

You may encounter a word cue or a phrasing or something and it leads to whatever else is there or fits better in the moment.

Be the explorer in all directions and find out which direction feels right first.

Read more about it yourself. Take notes. That is also the intention.


Experiences gained:

Its beautiful combination is seen with depth in being as it is brought together here, in this small hereby passed on part of being human, but of great importance for the present life.

GA 107

  1. Forgetting

Berlin, 2nd November 1908

Today let us look at one of those aspects of spiritual science that show us how well qualified anthroposophy is to throw light on life in the widest sense. Not only does this knowledge help us understand everyday life, it also throws light on the great span of human existence that includes the time between death and a new birth.

Spiritual science can be of great help to us just where daily life is concerned; it can help us solve many problems and show us how to cope with life. Those people who cannot see into the depths of existence fail to understand many things they are encountering every moment of the day. The questions that cannot be answered out of sense experience mount up, and, being unanswered, remain problems that have a disturbing effect on life, breeding discontent. Being discontented in life, however, can never serve man’s evolution nor his true welfare. We could enumerate hundreds of such life problems that are far more deeply illuminating than people usually imagine.

A word that contains many such problems is the word ‘forgetting’. You all know it as the word indicating the opposite of what we call the retaining of a mental image or a thought or impression. Certainly, you will all have had some distressing experiences with what is conveyed by the word forgetting. You will all know the annoying experience you often have if one or another idea or impression has, as we say, slipped your memory. You may then have wondered why such a thing as forgetting has to belong to the phenomena of life.

Now it is only with the help of the facts of occult life that you can get answers to a thing like this, that is, answers that are of any value. You know, of course, that memory or remembering has something to do with what we call man’s etheric body. So, we can also assume that the opposite of memory, namely forgetting, will have something to do with the etheric body. Perhaps we are justified in asking if there is any significance in the fact that the things a human being has had at some time in his life of thought can also be forgotten? Or do we have to be satisfied with characterizing forgetting in a purely negative way, as so often happens, and say that it is a defect of the human soul not to be able to remember everything all the time? We shall only throw light on forgetting by turning our attention to its opposite and considering the nature and significance of memory.

If we say that memory has something to do with the etheric body, we ought to ask ourselves how it happens that the etheric body acquires this task of retaining the impressions and thoughts in man, when the etheric body is present in plants where it has an essentially different task? We have often spoken of the fact that in contrast to the stone a plant has its whole material nature permeated by an etheric body. And this etheric body in the plant is the principle of life in a restricted sense, and also the principle of repetition. If the plant were only subject to the activity of the etheric body, then, beginning from the root of the plant, the leaf principle would repeat indefinitely. It is due to the etheric body that the parts of a living entity repeat again and again, for it is the etheric body that wants to keep on reproducing the same thing. That is why life has such a thing as so-called propagation, the bringing forth of its own kind, for this is due fundamentally to an activity of the etheric body. Everything depending on repetition in man or animal is attributable to the etheric principle.

The repetition of one vertebra after another in the spine comes from this activity of the etheric body. The termination of the plant’s growth at the top, and the gathering up of its whole growth in the blossom is due to the astrality of the earth descending from without into the growth of the plant. The fact that in man the vertebrae of the spine widen and become the hollow bones of the cranium arises through the activity of man’s astral body. So, we can say that everything which brings things to a conclusion is subject to the astral principle and all repetition to the etheric principle. The plant has this etheric body, and man has it too. Of course, there can be no question of memory in the plant. For to assert that the plant has a kind of unconscious memory with which it notes what the leaf it produced was like, grows a little further and then produces the next leaf on the pattern of the first, this kind of assertion leads to the strange illusions seen today in a recent trend of natural science. Some people even say that heredity is due to a kind of unconscious memory. We could almost call this bringing nonsense into natural scientific literature, for to speak of memory in the plant is actually sheer dilettantism on a higher level.

It is with the etheric body, which is the principle of repetition, that we are concerned. To be able to grasp the difference between the plant’s etheric body and man’s, which, in addition to the qualities of the plant’s etheric body also has the capacity to develop memory, we shall have to become clear about the fundamental difference between a plant and a human being. Imagine planting a seed in the earth; out of it a quite definite plant will arise. From a grain of wheat, a wheat stalk and ears will grow, and out of a bean will come a bean plant. You will have to admit that the plant’s development is in a certain way irrevocably determined by the nature of the seed. It is true that the gardener may bring his influence to bear on it and alter and improve the plant by means of all sorts of horticultural methods. But that is really an exception to the rule, and is only of minor significance compared with the fact that a particular seed will produce a plant of a definite shape and growth. Is this also the case with man? Up to a point this is certainly so, but only up to a certain point. When a human being arises out of the embryo, we see that his development is also enclosed within certain limits. Negroes come from negro parents, white children from white parents, and we could add various other examples to show that human development, just like the plant’s, is also enclosed within certain limits. This limit, however, only extends as far as the physical, etheric and astral nature. Certain things can be traced in the permanent habits and temperamental nature of a child that show similarities with the temperament and instincts of his ancestors. But if the human being were just as enclosed within the limits of a certain form of growth as the plant is, then there would be no such thing as education, as the development of soul and spiritual qualities. If you imagine two children who have different parents but who are very similar with regard to ability and external characteristics, and then imagine that one of these children is neglected and does not have much education, while the other is carefully brought up and sent to a good school where his capacities are properly developed, you could not possibly say that this development of the child’s capacities was already there in embryonic form as with a bean. The bean grows from the seed in any case without our needing to educate it. That belongs to its nature. Plants cannot be educated, but human beings can. We can pass something on to the human being and put something into him, whereas we cannot put anything of the kind into a plant. Why is this? Because the etheric body of the plant always has a certain finite number of inner laws which unfold from one seed to the next and have a definite round beyond which they cannot go. Man’s etheric body is different. Besides the part that is used for growth, which is that part of his being that is also enclosed within certain limits like the plant, man’s etheric body has as it were another part too, a free part, which does not have a natural use unless the human being is taught all kinds of things through his education, and things are thereby put into his soul which this free part of the etheric body deals with. So, there is actually a part of man’s etheric body that is not used by his organic nature. Man keeps this part of the etheric body for his own use; he uses it neither for growth nor for his natural organic development, but keeps it as a free organ with which he can take in the ideas of education.

Now the first thing that happens in this process of acquiring ideas is that man receives impressions. Man, always has to receive impressions, for the whole of education is based on impressions and on the co-operation between etheric body and astral body. To receive impressions, we need the astral body, but in order to retain these impressions, so that they do not disappear again, we need the etheric body. Even the minutest, apparently most trivial memory-picture needs the activity of the etheric body. To perceive an object, you need the astral body, but to remember it when you turn your head away you have to have the etheric body. The astral body is necessary for perception, but to have an idea, a mental image, you need the etheric body. Even though very little activity of the etheric body is necessary for the retaining of ideas, so little that it hardly need be taken into account until it comes to permanent habits, inclinations, changes of temperament and so on, you still need the etheric body for remembering. It must be there for you to so much as remember one single mental image. For all retaining of mental images is based in a certain sense on memory.

Now through the impressions of education, through man’s spiritual development, we have put all sorts of things into this free etheric organ, and we can now ask ourselves whether this free etheric organ has any significance at all for a person’s growth and development. Yes, it has! The older a man becomes — not so much in his youth — all that has been incorporated into the etheric body through the impressions of education gradually begins to participate in the whole life of the human body, also in an inward way. And the best way of forming an idea of this participation is to get to know a fact that is not usually taken into account. People think that what is of a soul nature is not of much importance for man’s life in general. Yet the following can happen: Suppose a man gets ill simply because he has been exposed to an unsuitable climate. Now let us imagine that this man could be ill in two different situations. One might be that he does not have much to work upon in the free part of his etheric body. Let us assume that he is a lazy fellow, on whom the outside world does not make much impression, and whose education has presented great difficulties, because things go in through one ear and out through the other. A person like this will not have so much to help him recover as another person who has an alert, lively mind, and who in his youth took in a great deal and worked well, and has therefore provided well for the free part of his etheric body. It will, of course, still have to be proved by external medicine why the process of recovery meets with greater difficulties in the one than in the other. This free part of the etheric body that has grown energetic through many impressions asserts itself, and its inner mobility contributes to the healing process. In innumerable cases people owe their rapid or painless recovery to the fact that when they were young, they received impressions with lively interest. There you see the influence the mind has on the body! In the case of recovery from an illness, it makes the world of difference if we have to deal with a man who goes through life with a dull mind, or with a man whose free etheric body, instead of being heavy and lethargic has remained alive. You can see this for yourself if you look at the world with your eyes open and notice how mentally lazy and mentally active people behave when they are ill.

You see then that man’s etheric body is something quite different from a mere plant. The plant lacks this free part of the etheric body which furthers the development of man, in fact man’s whole development depends on his having this free part of the etheric body. If you compare the beans of thousands of years ago with the beans of today, you will notice a certain difference, of course, but beans have basically retained the same form. If, however, you compare the people of Europe in the time of Charlemagne with people today: why do present day people have such different thoughts and feelings? It is because they have always had a free part of their etheric body with which they could take something in and transform their nature. All this holds good in general. Now we must look at the way all that we have been describing works in particular instances.

Let us take the case of a man who cannot obliterate from his memory an impression he receives, and so the impression just stays there. It would be a strange thing if you had to think that everything that had made an impression on you since your childhood, every day of your life, from morning till night, were always in your mind. You know of course that it is only present after death for a certain time. And there is a good reason for it then. But man forgets it during life. All of you have not only forgotten innumerable things that happened to you when you were little, but also a lot of things that happened last year, and even a certain amount that happened yesterday. A mental image that has gone from your memory, that you have “forgotten”, has by no means disappeared from your whole being, your whole spiritual organism. Far from it. If you saw a rose yesterday and have now forgotten it, the picture of the rose is still in you, as well as all the other impressions you have received, even though they have been forgotten by your immediate consciousness.

Now there is a tremendous difference between a mental image whilst it is in our memory and after we have forgotten it. So, let us imagine a mental picture we have formed of an external impression, and now have in our consciousness. Then let us see with our soul’s eye how it gradually disappears and is forgotten. It is there nevertheless, and remains within the whole spiritual organism. What does it do there? What does this so-called forgotten image do? It has a very important function. From the moment of being forgotten it begins to work in the right way on the free part of the etheric body we have been speaking about, and make it serviceable for man. It is as though it were not digested until then. As long as the human being uses it for acquiring knowledge it does not yet work inwardly to bring life into the free etheric organ. The moment it sinks into oblivion it begins to work. So, it can be said that work is continually in progress in and upon the free part of the etheric body. And what is it that does the work? It is the forgotten ideas! That is the great blessing of forgetting! As long as a mental image remains in your memory you connect it with an object. If you observe a rose and carry the mental image of it in your memory, you connect the image of the rose with the outer object. The image is thus chained to the external object and has to send it its inner force. The moment you forget the image, however, you set it free. Then it begins to develop germinal forces which work inwardly on man’s etheric body. So, our forgotten memories have great significance for us. A plant cannot forget. It cannot receive impressions either, of course. It would not be able to forget, anyway, because its whole etheric body is used for growth, and there is nothing left over. If mental pictures could enter into the plant, it would still have nothing there to be developed.

Everything that happens, however, happens in conformity to law. Everything that is meant to develop and yet is not helped in its development creates a hindrance to development. Everything in an organism that is not included in its development becomes a hindrance to development. If, for instance, all kinds of substances were secreted inside the eye and could not be absorbed by the general fluid of the eye, then sight would be impaired. Nothing must be allowed to remain that cannot be taken in and absorbed. It is the same with mental impressions. If, for instance, a man could receive impressions and never get them out of his consciousness, it could easily happen that the free part of the etheric body would be undernourished and would consequently be more of a handicap than a help to a man’s development. There you have the reason why it is bad for a person to lie awake at night and not be able to get certain impressions out of his mind because he is worried about something. If he could forget them, they would work beneficially on his etheric body. In this case it is obvious what a blessing it would be to forget, and at the same time you have an indication of the necessity not to force yourself to remember something, but rather learn to forget it. It is the worst thing possible for a man’s inner health if there are certain things he just cannot forget.

What we can say about everyday things of the moment also applies to things of an ethical-moral nature. A warm-hearted disposition that does not bear grudges is really based on this, too. Bearing resentment preys on a person’s health. If someone has done us a wrong and we remember the impression it made on us every time we see him, then we relate this image to him and let it stream outwards. But if we could manage to greet him warmly next time, we meet him, just as though nothing had happened, that would really do some good. It is a fact and not a fantasy that it does some good. A resentful thought like this is dull and ineffective when turned outwards, but no sooner is it turned inwards than it becomes soothing balm for many a thing in man. These things are facts, and they help us see even more meaning in the blessing of forgetting. Forgetting is not a mere defect in man but one of the most salutary things in human life. If man were only to develop his memory, and if everything that makes an impression on him were to remain in his memory, his etheric body would have more to carry, and its contents would become more and more extensive, but at the same time it would become more and more dried up. It is thanks to forgetting that man is capable of developing. Besides, no mental image is completely lost to man. This is seen best in that mighty memory picture we have immediately after death. There it becomes apparent that no impression is entirely lost.

Having touched shortly on the blessing of forgetting both in the neutral and the moral sphere of daily life, let us now consider how forgetting works in the large span of life between death and a new birth. What actually is Kamaloca, that period of transition human beings go through before entering Devachan, the spiritual world proper? Kamaloca exists because immediately after death the human being cannot forget the inclinations, desires and pleasures he had in life. At death man first of all leaves his physical body behind him. Then the mighty memory tableau I have often described stands before his soul. After two, three or at the most four days this has completely finished. Then a kind of extract of the etheric body remains. Whilst the greater part of the etheric body withdraws and dissolves in the general ether, a kind of essence or framework of the etheric body remains behind, but in a concentrated form. The astral body is the bearer of all the instincts, desires, passions, feelings, sensations and pleasures. Now the astral body would not be able to be conscious of the tormenting privations in Kamaloca if it were not for the fact that it is still connected with the remainder of the etheric body, which gives it the continued possibility of remembering what it enjoyed and desired in life. And the breaking of habit is really nothing else but a gradual forgetting of all that chains the human being to the physical world. So, if man wants to enter Devachan, he must first learn to forget all that binds him to the physical world. Thus, we see that man is tormented here, too, because he still has memories of the physical world. Just as worries can torment man when they refuse to leave his memory, so likewise can the inclinations and instincts that remain after death torment him, and this tormenting memory of the connections with life expresses itself in all that the human being has to pass through during his Kamaloca period. Not until he has succeeded in forgetting all his wishes and desires for things of the physical world do the achievements and fruits of his previous life appear, in readiness for the work of Devachan. There they become sculptors and overseers working on the form of the life to come. For man largely spends his time in Devachan working on the new form he is to have when he re-enters earthly life. This work of preparing his future being gives the feeling of bliss which he has throughout Devachan. When man has passed through Kamaloca he begins the groundwork for his future form. The life in Devachan is always spent in using that extract he has brought with him for constructing the prototype of his next form. He forms this prototype by working into it the fruits of the past life. He can only do this, however, by forgetting the things that made Kamaloca so difficult for him.

We have seen that the suffering and privation in Kamaloca is caused by the human being’s inability to forget certain connections with the physical world, and then the physical world hovers in front of him like a memory. However, when he has passed through the waters of ‘Lethe’, the River of Forgetfulness, and has learnt to forget, the achievements and experiences of his past incarnation can be put to work to build up bit by bit the prototype of the coming life. Now the joyful bliss of Devachan begins to take the place of suffering. When worries torment us in ordinary life, and particular images remain stuck in our memory, we introduce something hard and lifeless into our etheric body which undermines our health. Similarly, after death we have something in our being which contributes to our sufferings and privations, until, through forgetting, we have rid ourselves of all connection with the physical world. Just as these forgotten memories can become a source of health in man, so can all the experiences of the past life become a source of bliss in Devachan when the human being has passed through the River of Forgetfulness and has forgotten everything that binds him to life in the world of the senses.

So, we see then that these laws of forgetting and remembering are also absolutely valid for life in its broadest sense.

Now you might ask: How can a man after death have any memory pictures at all of what happened in his past life, if he must forget this life? Someone might say: Can you talk about forgetting at all, seeing that man has laid aside the etheric body with which remembering and forgetting are connected? After death, of course, remembering and forgetting assume a slightly different form. They change in such a way that a reading of the Akashic Record takes the place of ordinary remembering. The happenings of the world have not disappeared, of course, they just appear objectively. When the memory of connections with physical life vanishes in Kamaloca, these events appear in quite another form, and arise before man in the Akashic Record. Then he does not need the connection with life which comes from ordinary memory. Every question of this kind that might be asked will find an answer. But we must leave ourselves time to do this gradually, for it is impossible to have all the answers straight away at our finger tips.

Now we shall understand many a thing in everyday life, if we know about the things just discussed. Much of what belongs to the human etheric body is shown in the way the temperaments react upon man. We have said that this enduring characteristic that we call temperament also has its origin in the etheric body. Let us imagine a person who has a melancholic temperament and who never gets away from certain mental images that he is always thinking about. This is something quite different from a sanguine or a phlegmatic temperament, where the images just disappear. A melancholic temperament works detrimentally on a man’s health, in the sense we have been considering, whilst a sanguine temperament can in a certain way be extremely beneficial. Of course, these things must not be taken in such a way that you come to the conclusion the human being must try to forget everything. But you can see that the healthy and beneficial side of a sanguine or phlegmatic temperament and the unhealthy side of a melancholic temperament can be explained by these very things we have just learnt. It is natural to ask whether a phlegmatic temperament is also working in the right way. A phlegmatic who only takes in trivial thoughts will easily forget them. That will be good for his health. But if, on the other hand, he takes in no other thoughts than these, it will not be good for him at all. This gets rather complicated.

The question as to whether forgetting is just a defect in human nature or something useful is answered by spiritual science. And we see, too, that strong moral impulses can follow from the knowledge of such things. If a man believes it is for his good — and this has to be taken quite objectively — to be able to forget insults and injuries done to him, then quite a different impulse will work in him. But as long as he believes that it does not make any difference, then no amount of preaching will help. When he knows, however, that he ought to forget for the sake of his well-being, he will let this impulse work on him in quite a different way. You need not immediately call it egoistic; it would be better to express it this way: If I am ill and feeble, and if I ruin my health spiritually, psychologically and physically, I am of no use to the world. We can also consider the question of well-being from an entirely different point of view. If a man is a thoroughgoing egoist he will not profit much from such considerations. But whoever has the good of humanity at heart and is therefore intent on working for it — and also, indirectly, has his own good at heart — if he is in a position to think about this, he will also draw moral fruits from such considerations. And we shall see that if spiritual science works into human life by showing man the truth about specific spiritual circumstances, it will give man the greatest ethical-moral impulses, such as no other knowledge and no merely external moral commands can do. Knowledge of the facts of the spiritual world, as imparted by spiritual science is, therefore, a powerful impulse which also in regard to the moral realm can bring about the greatest progress in human life.


  1. Different Types of Illness – Berlin, 10th November 1908

Those of you who have been attending these group lectures for years will perhaps have noticed that the themes have not been haphazardly chosen but have a certain continuity. In the course of each winter, too, the lectures have always had a certain inner connection, even if, on the surface, this has not been immediately apparent. Therefore, it will obviously be of the utmost importance to follow up the various courses that are being held here alongside the actual group evenings, and which are intended for the purpose of bringing newer members up to the level, as it were, of these group lectures; for various things said here cannot be immediately understood by every newcomer. But there is something else we should note as well, which will gradually have to be taken into consideration in the various groups of our German section. As there is a certain inner thread in the lectures, it is incumbent upon men to form each lecture so that it is part of a whole. Therefore, it is not possible to say the things that can be presented to advanced participants in that kind of single lecture in such a way that they are equally suitable for newcomers. We could speak about the same theme in a very elementary way, of course, but that would not do in face of the progressive path we are planning to take in the anthroposophical life of this particular group. This again is connected with the fact that the further we progress the more we can anticipate in the way of wide-spread lecture publications and reporting of lectures from one group to another. For with regard to these lectures I give in the groups it is becoming less and less immaterial whether you hear the one-on-one Monday and the next the following Monday. It may not be immediately apparent to the audience why the one lecture succeeds the other, yet it is important nevertheless; and when you lend lectures to one another you cannot take this into account at all. One lecture might get read before the other, and then it unavoidably gets misunderstood and causes confusion. I want to make a special point of this, as it is an essential part of our anthroposophical life. Even the inserting of a phrase here or there, or the over or under emphasizing of a word depends on the whole development of the life of the group. Only when the publication of the lectures can be strictly supervised so that nothing is published unless it has been submitted to me, can any good come of this duplicating and publishing of lectures.

This is also a kind of introduction to the lectures about to be held in this group. There will be a certain inner connection in the course of this winter’s lectures and all the preparatory material will eventually be directed towards a definite culmination with which the course will then close. Last week’s lecture was a small beginning, and today’s lecture will be a kind of continuation. But it will not continue like a newspaper serial, where the thirty-eighth installment follows on after the thirty-seventh. There will be an inner connection, even though the subject matter will appear to differ, and the connection will consist in the fact that the whole series will culminate in the final lectures. So, with these concluding lectures in view, we will start today by sketching the nature of illnesses, and next Monday we will talk about the origin, historic importance and meaning of the “Ten Commandments”. These could well appear to have nothing in common; however, you will eventually see that it all has an inner connection, and that these lectures should not be taken as separate ones, as is often the case with those given for a wider public.

We would like to speak today about the nature of illness from the point of view of spiritual science. As a rule, people are not concerned about illness, or one or another type of illness at least, until they themselves fall sick with it, and even then, their interest does not go much beyond the cure. That is, they are only concerned about their recovery. How this cure is effected is sometimes a matter of complete indifference, and the pleasantest thing is not to have any further responsibility for the “how”. Most of our contemporaries’ content themselves with the thought that the people who carry out the job have been appointed to do so by the authorities. In our time there exists in this sphere a much more rabid belief in authority than has ever existed in the religious sphere. The papacy of medicine, irrespective of its various forms, still makes itself felt with great intensity and will do so to an even greater extent in the future. Laymen are in no way to blame for the fact that this can and will be like this. For they do not think about these matters or care in the least about them unless it affects them personally and they suffer from an acute case that requires treatment. Thus, a large section of the population calmly looks on whilst the papacy of medicine assumes greater and greater dimensions and insinuates itself into things in all manner of ways, like the way it is now speaking out and interfering so horribly in the education of children and the life of the schools, and claiming its right to a particular therapy. People do not care about the deeper significance that is actually behind all this. They look on whilst one or another law is instituted. People do not want to have any insight into these matters. On the other hand, there will always be people who are personally affected and cannot manage with ordinary materialistic medicine, the basis of which does not concern them, but only the fact of whether they can be cured or not, and then they will apply to the people who work out of occultism — and there again they only care about whether they can be cured or not. But they do not care whether public life as a whole, with its methods and its way of understanding things, completely undermines a deeper method arising out of the spirit. Who cares whether the public prevents any cures being effected in the method based on occultism, or cares whether the one who applies the method is put in prison? These things are not taken seriously enough except when people are personally affected. However, it is just the task of a really spiritual movement to awaken a consciousness of the fact that there has to be more than an egoistic desire for recovery; in fact, there has to be knowledge of the deeper foundations in these matters, and this knowledge has to be made known.

In our age of materialism, it appears to anyone who can see to the bottom of these matters as only too obvious why just the theory of illness in particular comes under the strongest influence of materialistic thinking. However, if we follow this or that slogan, or give special credit to this or that method, merely criticizing what is trimmed with materialistic theories, despite the fact that it arises out of a scientific basis and is useful in many respects, we shall be making just as much of a mistake as if we were to go to the other extreme and put everything under the heading of psychological cures and suchlike, and fall victim in this way to all manner of one-sidedness. Present-day mankind must, above all, realize more and more that man is a complicated being and that everything to do with man is connected with this complexity of his being. If there is a kind of science holding the opinion that man consists merely of a physical body, it cannot possibly work beneficially with the healthy or the sick human being. For health and sickness, have a relationship to man as a whole and not to one part of him only, namely the physical body.

Nor must the matter be taken superficially. You can find plenty of doctors nowadays, properly recognized members of the medical profession, who would never admit to being sworn materialists; they profess to one or another religious faith, and they would staunchly deny the accusation of being materialistic. But this is not the point. Life does not depend on what a man says or believes. That is his personal concern. To be effective it is necessary to know how to apply and make valuable use in life of those facts that are not limited to the sense world but have an existence in the spiritual world. So that however pious a doctor is and however many ideas he has regarding this or the other spiritual world, if he nevertheless works according to the rules that arise entirely out of our materialistic world conception, that is, he treats people as though they only had a body, then however spiritually minded he believes himself to be, he is nevertheless a materialist. For it does not depend on what a person says or believes but, on his ability, to set in living motion the forces behind the external world of the senses. Nor is it sufficient for anthroposophy to spread the knowledge of man’s fourfold nature and for everybody to go repeating that man consists of a physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego, even if people can define and describe them in a certain way. The essential thing is not just to know this, but to understand more and more clearly the living interplay of these members of man’s being and the part the physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego play in the healthy and in the sick human being and what their interrelationship implies. Unless you make it your business to know what spiritual science can tell you about the nature of the fourth member of man’s being, the ego, then however much you study anatomy and physiology you would not know anything about the nature of blood. That would be quite impossible. And you would never be able to say anything of any value about the illnesses connected with the nature of the blood. For the blood is the expression of the ego nature of man. And if Goethe’s words in Faust: “Blood is a very special fluid” [see the lecture: Occult Significance of the Blood e. Ed] are still quoted today, they do in fact say a very great deal. Present-day science has no inkling of the fact that scientists ought to treat blood, even physical blood, in an entirely different manner from any other organ of man’s physical body, because these other organs are the expression of entirely different things. If the glands are the expression, the physical counterpart, of the etheric body, then even physically we have to look for something quite different in the composition of a gland, be it liver or spleen, than we have to look for in the blood that is the expression of a much higher member of man’s being, namely the ego. And scientific methods must be guided by this if they are to show us how to work with these things. Now I want to say something which will really only be understood by advanced anthroposophist’s, yet it is important that it is said.

A materialistically-minded scholar of today takes it as a matter of course that when he makes a prick in the body blood will flow out that can be examined in all the known ways. And blood is described according to the method of investigating its chemical composition in exactly the same way as is done with any other substance, such as an acid. One thing, however, is left out of account, although, needless to say, it is not only bound to be unknown to materialistic science, but it is sure to be considered sheer folly and madness, and yet it is true: the blood flowing in the arteries, and sustaining the living body, is not what flows out when I make the prick and take out a drop. For the moment blood comes out of the body it changes to such an extent that we have to admit it is something quite different; and what flows out as coagulating blood, however fresh it is, is no proof of the living essence within the organism. Blood is the expression of the ego, a member of the human being that is at a high level. Even as physical substance blood is something that you cannot examine physically in its totality at all, because when you are able to see it, it is no longer the blood it was when it flowed in the body. It cannot be looked at physically, for the moment it is exposed to view and can be examined by some method similar to X-ray, you are no longer examining blood but something that is the external image of blood on the physical plane. These things will only gradually be understood. There have always been scientists in the world working out of occultism who have said this, but they have been called things like madmen or philosophers.

Everything to do with man’s health or sickness really is bound up with man’s manifold nature, with the complicity of his being; hence it is only through a knowledge of man arising out of spiritual science that we can arrive at a conception of man in health and in sickness. There are certain ailments in man’s organism which can only be understood when we realize their connection with the nature of the ego, and these ailments also appear in a way — but in a limited way — in the expression of the ego, the blood. Then there are certain ailments in man’s organism that point to an illness of the astral body and which therefore affect the external expression of the astral body, the nervous system. Now whilst mentioning this second case I shall have to ask you to be somewhat aware of the subtlety of thought necessary here. When man’s astral body has an irregularity that comes to expression in the nervous system, the external image of the astral body, the first thing we notice physically is a certain disability in the functioning of the nervous system. Now when the nervous system cannot do its job in a certain area all kind of symptoms can result, affecting the stomach, head or heart. However, an illness that shows symptoms in the stomach does not necessarily point to a disability of the nervous system in a certain area and originate therefore in the astral body, it can come from something entirely different.

Those types of illnesses connected with the ego itself and therefore also connected with its external expression, the blood, appear as a rule — but only as a rule, for things are not so clear cut in the world, even though you can draw clear lines when you want to make observations — these illnesses appear as chronic illnesses. Various other disturbances appearing to begin with are usually symptoms. One or another symptom may appear, which nevertheless originates in a disturbance in the blood, and that has its origin in an irregularity of that part of the human being that we call the bearer of the ego. I could speak to you for hours about the types of illness that are chronic and which originate from the physical point of view in the blood and from the spiritual point of view in the ego. Those are chiefly the illnesses that are in the proper sense hereditary, and these are the illnesses that can only be understood by those people who look at the being of man from a spiritual point of view. Here and there are people who are chronically ill, who are, in other words, never really fit; they always have one or another thing the matter with them. To get to the bottom of this, we must ask ourselves what the actual basic character of the ego is like. What kind of a person is he? If you understand what life really is, then you will know that definite forms of chronic illnesses are connected with one or another basic soul character of the ego. Certain chronic illnesses will never occur in people who have a serious and dignified attitude to life but only in those of a frivolous nature. This can merely be an indication, to show the way these lectures are leading.

As you see, the first thing you have to ask yourself when somebody comes and says he has been suffering from this or that for years, is what kind of person is he fundamentally? You have to know what basic character type his ego is, otherwise you are bound to go wrong with ordinary medicine, unless you are lucky. The important thing in curing people of these, illnesses which are mainly the really hereditary ones, is to consider their whole surroundings, in so far as they can have a direct or indirect influence on the ego. When you have really got to know this aspect of a person, you may have to advise that he is sent to another natural surroundings, perhaps for the winter, if possible; or, if he has a certain job, to change it and encounter a different aspect of life. The essential thing will be to try to find the setting that will have just the right effect on the character of the ego. To find the right cure, you need, in particular, a wide experience of life, so that you can enter into the person’s character and can say: For this person to recover, he must change his job. It is a matter of pinpointing what is necessary from the point of view of his soul nature. Sometimes, perhaps, just in this sphere, no recovery can be achieved at all, because it is impossible to effect a change; in many instances it can be effected, however, if people only know of it. A lot can be done for some people, for example, if they simply live in the mountains instead of the lowlands. These are the things that apply to the kind of illnesses that appear externally as chronic illnesses, and that are connected physically with the blood and spiritually with the ego.

Now we come to those illnesses that have their spiritual origin mainly in irregularities of the astral body and that appear in certain disabilities of the nervous system in one or another direction. Now a large part of the common acute illnesses are connected with what we have just mentioned, in fact most of them. For it is sheer superstition to believe that when someone has a stomach or heart complaint or even a clearly perceptible irregularity somewhere, the right treatment is to deal directly with the symptom. The essential thing could be that the symptom is there because the nervous system is incapable of functioning. Thus, the heart can be affected simply because the nervous system has become incapable of functioning in the area where it ought to support the movement of the heart. It is quite unnecessary to maltreat the heart or, as the case may be, the stomach, for they may, in principle, have nothing directly the matter with them, for it is only the nerves that provide for them which are incapable of carrying out their job. If in a case like this the stomach complaint is treated with hydrochloric acid, it would be a mistake comparable to tinkering with an engine that is always running late because you think something is the matter with it — yet it still runs late. For you would find, on closer examination, that the engine-driver always gets drunk before driving; so, you would do better to deal with the engine-driver, for the train would be punctual otherwise. So, it could well be that with stomach complaints we have to treat the nerves that provide for the stomach instead of the stomach itself. In the domain of materialistic medicine, too, you may perhaps hear various remarks to this effect. But it is not just a matter of saying that with stomach symptoms you have to deal with the nerves first. This achieves nothing. You only achieve something when you know that the nerve is the expression of the astral body and seek for the causes in the irregularities to be found there. The question is, what is the main thing?

The first thing to consider in the treatment of this sort of complaint is diet and finding the right balance between what a person enjoys and what is good for him. What matters is his way of life, not with regard to externalities but regarding what has to be digested and worked through by him, and in this respect, nobody can possibly know anything on the basis of purely materialistic science. We need to realize that everything around us in the wide world of the macrocosm has a relationship with our complicated inner world of the microcosm, and every kind of food there is has a definite connection with what is within our organism. We have heard often enough that man has passed through a long evolution, and how the whole of outside nature has been built up out of what has been thrust forth from man. Time and again in our studies we have gone back to the ancient Saturn period, where we found that there was nothing in existence apart from man, who, as it were, thrust forth the other kingdoms of nature: the plants, the animals, and so on. In that evolution man built up his organs in accordance with what they thrust forth. Even when the mineral kingdom was pushed out, certain specific inner organs arose. The heart could not have arisen if certain plants, minerals and mineral possibilities had not arisen externally in the course of time. Now what arose externally has a certain connection with what arose within. And only the person who knows of this connection can prescribe in individual cases how the macrocosmic element outside can be used in the microcosm, otherwise man will experience in a certain way that he is taking in something that is not right for him. So, we have to turn to spiritual science for the actual basis of our judgment. It is always superficial to follow purely external laws taken from statistics or chemistry when prescribing dietary treatment. We need quite a different basis, for spiritual knowledge has to be active when we deal with man in health or sickness.

Then there are those types of illness, partly chronic and partly acute, which are connected with the human etheric body, and which therefore come to expression in man’s glands. As a rule, these illnesses have nothing to do with heredity, but a great deal to do with nationality and race. So that in the case of the illnesses originating in the etheric body and appearing as glandular complaints, we must always ask whether the illness is occurring in a Russian, an Italian, a Norwegian or a Frenchman. For these illnesses are connected with the national character and therefore take quite different forms. Thus, for example a great mistake is being made in the field of medicine, for over the whole of Western Europe they have a completely wrong view of spinal consumption. Although they have the right judgment of it for the West [Europeans, they are quite wrong about it where the East European population is concerned, because it has quite a different origin there, as even these things still vary considerably nowadays. Now you will realize that the mixture of peoples affords us a certain survey. Only the person who can distinguish differences in human nature can make any judgment at all. These illnesses are simply treated externally today and lumped together with acute illnesses, whilst they really belong to quite a different field. Above all we must know that the human organs that come under the influence of the etheric body, and which can fall sick as a result of irregularities of the etheric body, have quite definite relationships with one another. There is for instance a certain relationship between a man’s heart and his brain which can be described in a somewhat pictorial way by saying that this mutual relationship of the heart and the brain corresponds to the relationship of the sun and the moon — the heart being the sun and the brain the moon. So, we have to know, if a disturbance occurs in the heart for instance, that in so far as this is rooted in the etheric body it is bound to have an effect on the brain. Just as when something happens on the sun, an eclipse for instance, the moon is bound to be affected. It is no different, for these things have a direct connection.

In occult medicine these things are also described by applying the images of the planets to the constellation of man’s organs. Thus, the heart is the sun, the brain the moon, the spleen Saturn, the liver jupiter, the gall mars, the kidneys Venus and the lungs mercury. If you study the mutual relationships of the planets you have an image of the mutual relationships of man’s organs in so far as they are in the etheric body. The gall could not possibly ail — and this would show spiritually in the etheric body — without the illness having its effect on the other organs mentioned, in fact if the gall is described as mars, its effect would be similar to the effect of mars in our planetary system. You have to know the interconnections of the organs when there is an etheric illness, and yet these are principally those illnesses — and from this you will see that any form of one-sidedness must be avoided in the field of occultism — for which specific remedies are to be used. This is the place to use the remedies you find in the plants and minerals. For everything belonging to the plants and minerals has a profound importance for everything to do with the human etheric body. So, when we know an illness has arisen in the etheric body, and it appears in a certain way in the glandular system, we must find the remedy that can correctly repair the complex of interconnections. Particularly with those illnesses where the first thing you have to look for is obviously whether they originate in the etheric body, and secondly whether they are connected with the national character, and all the organs are interconnected in a regular way, these illnesses are the first ones for which specific remedies can be used.

Now perhaps what you are imagining is that if it is necessary to send a person to another place, you will not be able to help him as a rule if he is tied to a job and cannot move. The psychological method is indeed always effective. What is called the psychological method works best of all when the Illness is actually in a person’s ego being. Thus, when a chronic illness of this type occurs, one that is in the blood, psychological remedies are justified. And if they are carried out in the right way, their effect on the ego will entirely compensate for what impinges on him from outside. Wherever you look you will be able to see the subtle connection between what a man experiences in his soul when he is habitually working behind a work bench and when he gets the chance to enjoy country air for a short while. The joy that lends wings to his soul can be called a psychological method in the widest sense. Then, if the therapist is carrying out his method properly, he can gradually exercise his own influence in place of this, and psychological methods have their strongest justification for this form of illness and should not be overlooked, because most of the illnesses came from an irregularity of the ego being of man.

Then we come to the illnesses arising out of irregularities of the astral body. Although purely psychological methods can be used, they certainly lose their greatest value, therefore they are seldom used for these. Dietary remedies apply here. The type of illness we described in third place are actually the first in which we are justified in using external medicines to assist the course of recovery. If we see man as the complicated being he is, the treatment of illnesses will also be a broad-minded one, and one-sidedness will be avoided.

The only illnesses left now are those that actually originate in the physical body itself, having to do with the physical body, and these are the actual infectious diseases. This is an important chapter and will be considered in greater detail in one of the coming lectures, after we have first of all dealt with the real origin of Ten Commandments. For you will see that this really has a connection. Today, therefore, I can only just mention that there is this fourth type of illness, and that a deeper understanding of these involves knowing the nature of everything connected with the human physical body. The basis of these illnesses is not physical but very much of a spiritual nature. When we have looked at the fourth type, we shall still not have finished with all the important illnesses, for we shall see that human karma also plays in. That is a fifth category to be considered.

Let us say, then, that we shall gradually attain an understanding of the five different forms of human illness, that stem from the ego, the astral body, the etheric body and the physical body, and also from karmic causes. The sphere of medicine will not improve until this whole sphere includes a knowledge of the higher members of man’s being. Up to now we have not had a medical practice that has really come to grips with what is at stake. Although, as with many another occult insight, these things have to be brought up to date and put in a modern form, you must realize that this wisdom is, in some respects, not new.

Medicine arose from spiritual knowledge and has become more and more materialistic. And perhaps in no other science can we see so clearly how materialism has overtaken mankind. In earlier times people were at least conscious of the fact that they had to have a knowledge of man’s fourfold being in order to understand it. There have been instances of materialism before, of course, and even earlier than four hundred years ago clairvoyants observed materialistic thinking arising all around them in this sphere. Paracelsus, for instance, who is taken for a madman or dreamer and not understood at all today, drew full attention to the increasing materialism of medical science centered in Salerno, Montpellier, Paris and also certain parts of Germany. And just because of his responsible position in the world, Paracelsus felt compelled — as we do today — to draw attention to the difference between medicine based on spiritual knowledge or on materialism. Perhaps it is even more difficult nowadays to achieve anything with paracelsian thinking. For in those days the materialistic approach to medicine was not so rigidly opposed to the paracelsian approach as materialistic science is today to any insight into the real, spiritual nature of man. What Paracelsus said about this, therefore, still applies today, though its significance would be less readily recognized. If we look at the opinions held today by the people working at the dissecting benches and in laboratories, and at the way research is applied to the understanding of man in health and in sickness, we could, to a certain extent, react similarly to the way Paracelsus did. It might not be appropriate, though, to add a plea for understanding and forgiveness, too, perhaps, as Paracelsus did to his local contemporaries in the medical sphere — that is, with any real hope of forgiveness. For Paracelsus himself said he was not a man of good breeding, nor had he moved in high circles; he lacked grace and refinement, therefore he would be forgiven if what he said was not always couched in the best language. Whilst discoursing on the nature of the different illnesses Paracelsus said the following about the foreign and also the German medical doctors: “It is a bad business, all those foreign doctors, to name those in Montpellier, Salerno and Paris, who want to have all the credit and pour scorn on everybody else, yet they themselves know nothing and can do nothing, and it is common knowledge that it is nothing but talk and show. They are not ashamed of their enemas and purgatives, and rely on them even if the patient is dying. They boast about all the anatomy they know, and they cannot even see the tartar on people’s teeth, let alone anything else. Fine doctors they are, even without spectacles on their noses. What kind of eyesight and anatomy have you got? You can do no earthly good with them, and see no further than your own noses. They work so hard, too, those German swindlers and thieves of doctors and newly-hatched fools, that when they have seen everything, they know less than they did before. So, they choke in filth and corpses and afterwards put-on holy airs — they ought to be thrown to the rabble!”

Durchschaut, durchschauen: doorzien, er doorheen kijken.
Herkennen van ware vorm/toestand via de uiterlijke verschijning, er achterliggende doelen op een manier verborgen.



Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh 14-01-2004


The monastic community is practicing during the Rainy Season Retreat from January 4 to March 14 at Deer Park Monastery with the lay community.

This 55-minute dharma talk in the Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall takes place on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 during the second week.



Good morning dear Sangha.

Today is January the 14th in the year 2004.

We are in Deer Park Monastery during our winter retreat.

Last week we learned the gatha,

“I have arrived, I am home.

In the here, in the now.

I am solid, I am free.

In the ultimate, I dwell.”


This gatha can be used for sitting meditation,

Can be used for walking meditation.

When you stand, you can also practice:

“I have arrived, I am home”

And when you lie down, you can also practice:

“I have arrived, I am home”

At the end of the day, you would like to rest, go to bed.

You lie down in your bed, and you may like to practice:

“I have arrived, I am home”.

Because several of us continue to run, even in our sleep, in our dream, because running has become a habit.

Not only we run during the day, but we run also during the night,

In our sleep, in our dream.

That is why, it is good that we practice:

“I have arrived, I am home”. I don’t want to run anymore.

The moment when you lie down and you enjoy doing nothing.

Just feeling you are in your home.

You are in your bed and you want to really rest.

You like to listen to the music of your breathing, in and out.

Your heart is playing music.

Your lungs are playing music.

You just tune to that kind of music.

And whenever feeling and emotion arise, you allow that music of breathing to embrace it.

And like that, you can enter your sleep peacefully.

And with much pleasure.

So, the gatha, the poem, “I have arrived, I am home” can be used in 4 positions of the body: sitting, standing, walking and lying down.

And that is the practice of stopping.

The practice of stopping is very crucial in the Buddhist tradition.

There are moments when we don’t do anything, we just sit there or we lie down. But our body has not stopped.

There is a tension in our body.

There is a kind of energy that push you, push your body.

Your body want to do something, to be active, to run, to do something. Your body does not have capacity to rest, to stop.

That is why ‘stopping’ does not mean just stopping the mind, but stopping the body. Because the body also have the habit of running, of being in the movement.

And there is a feeling of restlessness in the body.

The body and the mind; they inter-are.

The body contains the mind and the mind contains the body.

They inter-contain each other.

That is why helping the body to stop, you can help the mind to stop also. And helping the mind to stop, you help the body to stop.

You practice with body and mind at the same time, not just with the mind. 5.30

That is why mediation includes the body.

You don’t just meditate with your mind, you meditate with your body,

A Buddhist term for ‘stopping’ is ‘samatha’. S pronounced as sj.

In Pali, ‘samatha’, with this you pronounce is as sh amantha.

And the first meaning of ‘samatha’ is ‘stopping’.

Without stopping you cannot do much.

And when you come to Deer Park, you can enjoy ‘samatha’ as a practice of stopping. You stop during the time you sit; you stop during the time you walk; you even can stop during the time you run.

You have jogging meditation.

And while you are running, you have already stopped.

Because you are not running after something. No.

You are not searching for anything at all.

You are completely at ease in the present moment. 7.07

And that is the meaning of ‘samatha’.

And it sounds easy but we need some training.

We need a strong will also; we need a big desire in order to be able to stop. Because the habit of running is very strong in us, in our body and in our mind. And the habit of running, the habit energy might have been transmitted by our parents.

Our parents may have run all their life. Become a strong habit.

And they may have inherited it from their parents, from our grandparents, our ancestor. So, the habit energy is very strong.

But now as we have the chance to encounter Buddha Dharma, the Buddha said, “Stop my child.”

And then we have e chance to transform that habit energy.

And if we succeed in stopping, then we help all our ancestors in us to stop at the same time. How nice. “I have arrived, I am home”.

It means: I don’t feel a need to run anymore.

What I am looking for, it is right here, right now.

And that is why, we need the insight in order to really stop.

And the insight is not by the other wing of the bird.

That is ‘vipasyana’.

“vipasyana’ is the practice of looking deeply in order to get insight.

In Chinese, you write (see Dutch part)   (guan)

‘Samatha’ you write  (see Dutch part) (Zhi)

Samatha and vipasyana are the two wings of a bird.

And they transport us on the path of insight and stopping.

We just said that when we have gotten the insight, that everything is already there. You are only what you want to become, namely a Buddha. And then, you feel that there is no longer any need to run.

That is why, the insight allows you to really stop. 10.12

Without the insight, no matter how hard you strive, you cannot stop.

It is why, ‘samatha’ is not possible without ‘vipasyana’.

And the other way around.

Imagine a bird, flying only with one wing. It is very difficult.

So, the first meaning of ‘samatha’ is ‘to stop running’.

To stop altogether the running.

When we are in the retreat like this one, it’s a good opportunity for us to learn how to stop. You may have some wound in our body.

You may have a cancer. We have something like that in our body.

You may have a wound in your soul, in our consciousness, we may have some despair, a lot of injustice, a lot of anger.

You feel deeply wounded. And we have come with all these wounds in our body and in our consciousness. We want to heal.

And healing is possible with the practice of stopping.

If you don’t know how to stop running, the healing cannot take place.

That is why, the purpose of ‘samatha’ is to help you to heal.

When you breathe in, you breath in, in such a way that make healing possible. Because your in-breath is not a fight, not an act of fighting.

Your in-breath is an expression of arrival.

I have arrived, I don’t need to run. 12.55

And if your in-breath is like that, it is the power of healing.

And that in-breath releases all tension, releases all the tension,

That in-breath allows your body and your feeling to relax.

As Buddha said: Breathing in, I relax my body.

And in another exercise, the Buddha said:

Breathing is, I relax my feeling, my emotion.


Vietnamese > “an tinh” means relaxing. Formation of your body.

“than hành” means your body. Breathing in, I relax my body.

You can only relax your body when you stop.

So, your in-breath has the capacity of stopping.

And when your in-breath has the capacity of stopping, it becomes very pleasant. Your in-breath is not an act of fighting anymore.

It is deeply enjoyable. That is why you are here, breath in in such a way, that every in-breath has the power to heal.

Every in-breath allow your body to heal.

And if you feel relax, the fighting is no longer there, you know that your in-breath has the capacity for healing.

And you have faith in it.

You have faith in your in-breath.

You don’t need to have faith in Buddha or in God.

You need to have only the faith in your in-breath.

Because you know your in-breath well.

It is you who know whether your in-breath is relaxing, is helping you to stop altogether, whether your in-breath allows your body to be free from tension. If you can breathe in like that, you can touch your in-breath in depth, you know that your in-breath has the power for healing. And when you make this step, in mindfulness, a step that can bring you home to the here and the now.

A step that can help you stop altogether the running.

A step that can allow your body to relax, completely.

You know that, that step has the power of healing.

And you can afford yourself, one step like that, two steps like that.

Walking from the Upper Hamlet to the Lower Hamlet, you may make several steps like that. 50, 100, 200 steps.


And very step brings healing. Why don’t you do that.

And each step is a healer.

And when you make a step like that, you don’t have to struggle at all.

Because making a step is not an act of struggling, an act of fighting.

It is total surrender. You surrender yourself to the present moment.

You surrender yourself to the power of healing that is inherent in your body and in your consciousness.

Because you need to believe in the power of your body and of your consciousness. Nature has the power of healing.

You may believe that when the Buddha touches you, you heal.

Or he just touches you, you heal.

But this kind of healing, you can witness too by yourself.

When you cut your finger, when you cut the vegetables without much mindfulness, you may cut your finger. But you don’t panic.

Why don’t you panic? The blood is running, but you don’t panic, because you believe that your body has the capacity of mending the wound, of healing. You don’t have to do much; you just clean it.

Because you believe that in few hours, it will heal itself.

We have to believe in the power of our body to heal itself.

The only thing we should do is to allow our body to heal and not to intervene a lot. When an animal in the forest here is wounded, it knows how to heal. And it knows the art of stopping, ‘samatha’.

The animal finds a place that is quiet and just lie down.

Not thinking about running after another animal, not thinking about eating, no thinking about anything, just lie down.

And that is about everything an animal can do in order to get healing.

Just lie down, trusting your body.

Allowing your body to heal itself.

We humans, we used to have that kind of capacity of trusting our body, but now it seems that we have lost that capacity.

We don’t believe in capacity of our body to heal anymore.

We panic very easily, we go to the doctor, we do a lot of tests.

And we live in fear, in panic.

And we eat a lot of medicine, inject a lot of medicine, intervene so much. And there is something we need to do, it’s to rest.

But we don’t know how to rest anymore.

The mankind has lost the capacity of resting.

And resting is the ground of healing.

Because resting like that you allow, you authorize your body to heal.

But you don’t authorize your body to heal because of your panic, your worries, you are running around and search for healing. 12.01

But the healing is obtained when you don’t do anything, you just rest and allow nature to do its work.

Many of us complained that we don’t have time to rest and we claimed we want our vacations.

But when they give us 2 weeks or 3 weeks’ vacation, we don’t know how to do it. And after we went for vacation, we come back more tired than before the vacation. That is why, it is very important to learn how to rest, how to allow our body to stop and rest.

And in the Sutra, the Buddha instructs us, how to allow our body and our mind to rest.

In one of the exercises of mindful breathing, he said:

“Breathing in, I relax my body.”

“Breathing is, I allow my body to relax.”

Whether you are in a sitting position or in a lying down position, your mindful breathing helps you to tally relax.

You authorize your body to rest.

In Plum Village, in Deer Park, we offer the practice of total deep relaxation. This is based on the teaching of Buddha.

In a sitting position or in a lying down position, you allow your body to relax. And we use the technique of mindful breathing on order to allow our body to rest. First of all, we may consider our body as a whole, a totality, an organism.

Breathing in, I am aware of my body. That is an exercise.

Because this is an exercise of going home to your body.

Breathing in, I am aware of my body, my whole body.

This is an attempt to come home to your body.

You have restricted your body.

You have neglected your body.

You have made war to your body.

You have made your body suffered by the way you live your daily life.

You are an enemy of your body.

Now you want to go home as a friend.

That is why, this exercise proposed by the Buddha;

Breathing in, I am aware of my body.

Good morning, dear body, I am back to you.

That is what we practice. I have neglected you for a long time.

I have made you suffer so much. Sorry, I am home to you.

Breathing is, I am aware of my body.

And you may like to continue: breathing out, I smile to my body.

I want to reconcile with my body.

So, using your mindful breathing to generate the energy of mindfulness, the energy of fully present, of being fully present,

In order to recognize your body as a reality.

In order to embrace your body with tenderness.

This is the first step.

Before you can embrace your feeling, your emotion, you have to learn how to embrace your body.

Hello there, my body, I am home to you.

And you use energy of mindfulness of your capacity of being fully present in order to recognize your body as being there, you embrace it tenderly. That is already the practice of love.

Darling I am home to you.

I take care of you.

That is one exercise. The other exercise, as follows:

Breathing is, I allow my body to relax. 26.00

And when you breathe in you recognize your body.

When you breath out, you smile to your body.

The smile is already the energy of love, the energy of concern, the energy of compassion.


In the Sutra, The Contemplation of The Body, the Buddha uses the exercise, this example:

There’s a farmer who goes up to the loft and brings down a bag of seeds. And he opens one end of the bag and uses the other end to allow all kinds of seed to flow on the floor.

And good eyes are still in good condition, he recognize what kind of seeds that are on the floor.

This is the seed of kidney beans, this is the seed of mung beans, this is a seed of corn. And he recognizes every kind of seeds that are there on the floor. So, the practitioner does the same thing.

She lies down, she practices mindful breathing and she said:

This is the hair on my head, this is my eye, this is my ear, this is my nose. Breathing is, I am aware of my eyes, breathing in I smile to my eyes. Breathing in I am aware of my brain, and breathing out, I smile to my brain. And you go from the top to the bottom and you go through your body.

It’s like the scanning of your body but instead using X-ray, you use the ray of mindfulness.

And it takes 20 minutes to do it totally.

And you don’t need a doctor, sitting, standing near you, you can do it by yourself. So, using the beam of mindfulness, you go through your body.

When you go through your heart to say: breathing in, I am aware of my heart, breathing out I smile to my heart. How kind of you.

You have the time to pay attention to your heart. 28.30

But maybe it is the first time you really pay attention to your heart.

Your heart has been working very hard to maintain your well-being.

You have the time to sleep every night, but your heart has no sleep.

Your heart continues its work, non-stop, the blood to nourish all the cells. And yet, you have not been very kind to your heart.

Maybe like, you smoke, you drink alcohol, you sleep late, you do many things in order to give your heart a hard time.

You have not been very kind to your heart.

And this is the first time you come back to her:

Breathing is, I am aware of my darling, the heart.

Breathing out, I smile to you.

I’m sorry, I have been neglecting you. Now I am home to you.

I will take good care of you.

This is the meditation of love, on love.

And if you stay longer, a little bit longer on your heart, it will give the chance to you. When you go to the liver, you embrace your liver.

When you are full of awareness:

Breathing in, I am aware of my liver.

Breathing out, I smile to my liver with compassion.

Alcohol, fat.

You have ingested so many toxins.

You have made the life of your liver so difficult.

And your liver has been sending you a message:

S.O.S., S.O.S., day and night.

But you ignored it completely.

Fortunately, now you have a chance to go home to your liver.

Breathing in, I am aware of my liver.

Breathing out, I smile to my liver.

And if you have some problems with your liver, stay with it, stay with her, stay with it longer. She needs you.

If needed, you stay with her five minutes, just breathing in and out.

And that will bring her a lot of healing.

And you know exactly what to do and what not to do, in order not to inflict any more hardship to your liver.

If you don’t know how to take care of your body, if you don’t know how to love yourself, how can you talk about loving another person?

So, the exercise given by the Buddha, first, is to recognize and embrace your body as a whole and to allow it to relax.

And the second exercise found in >Vietnamese…

The Sutra on the Contemplation of the Body in The Body.

You find that exercise: In that from the farmer goes up to the loft and brings down a bag of seeds.

So, you lie down and you generate the mindfulness ray in order to pass in review the 36 parts of your body and you go slowly.

You recognize all parts of your body.

And when you come to a part of your body that is healing, stay longer, allow it to get the energy of healing.

You may continue your medicine, but don’t trust the medicine alone.

And if you succeed in this practice, you may not need a lot of medicine, just a little bit.

And the practice is not a hardship, is not hard labour.

The practice is very pleasant, it is healing during the time of practice.

You can enjoy deeply the practice of total relaxation, deep relaxation.

You just sit there, you just lie there, enjoy your in-breath and out-breath, generating the energy of mindfulness.

In order to recognize and embrace different parts of your body.

And when you are able to do so and get the healing, you can help your child, your partner, your friend, to do the same.

But do you have the time to do so.

Which is more important, your well-being or more money? 34.00

Another car? Or better body and more healthy body?

You have to choose.

You may consume less but your happiness will be much greater.

Don’t spend too much time looking for money, looking for fame.

Use your time to live, to love, to take care of yourself and your beloved one. The teaching of the Buddha is very practical.

I urge my friends to study the Sutra on mindful breathing.

All the practical exercises are contained in that Sutra.

And you may explore the Sutra in depth, in order to offer methods of healing and transformation.



When you sit down and eat your breakfast, eat your breakfast in such a way that make the healing possible.

Eating your breakfast is not just to eat the calories, the energy for the morning. No. Eating your breakfast is also to get the joy, get the happiness while eating. And you can practice stopping, total relaxation during time of eating. You may take 15, 20 or 25 minutes taking your breakfast. But that time can be transformed into a session of total relaxation.

You don’t have to worry about anything.

You are with every mouth of food, you chew your food as if you have nothing to worry about, a businesslessness person.

The ideal image of Patriah Lin-Chi, business less, no project, totally free, eat your breakfast like that.

And the time of breakfast eating becomes healing.

Everything you do in your daily life whole day can be used for healing.

Walking up, walking down, sitting, lying down, breathing, washing your dishes, it can allow you to completely rest.

And you know you can do it. You have received enough instructions to do it. The Buddha is kind enough to give you enough instructions to do so. Thay is kind enough to have offered you enough instructions for you to do so. And he is doing that too.

So, profit from your time being here, to get the healing.

Every step, every breath, every act, can be totally relax, can have the power of healing.

And one day of being in the retreat can already bring a big difference.

And when you go home, you can continue and you may have good influence to other people in your family, in your environment also.


You have to ask the animals in Deer Park, in the mountains, as how do they think of us; these human beings who gather here to do walking and sitting and chanting, are they relaxing enough.

The trees are there seemed to be very relaxing.

The animals live in the forest they seemed to be relaxing.

You know the snake is sleeping quietly.

So, stopping means, to be fully present.

To stop running, to be truly present.

It means in the here and in the now.

And to be present for whom?

To be present for ourselves, for our body, for our feelings.

Because our body, our feelings, our suffering needs to be taken care of. If you are not there for yourself, who will be there for you?

So, come home to yourself, take good care of your body, take good care of your feeling and emotion and other aggregates within yourself. Samatha has the purpose of stopping your running.

Of helping you to be fully present, in the here, in the now.

Body together with the mind, established fully in the present moment. And mindfulness is the energy that can help you to do that.

And energy of mindfulness can be generated by mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful eating, mindful washing.

And when you are fully present in the here and now, you become fully present, to be fully alive. Fully alive.

How can you be alive when only your body is there and your mind still wanders in the past or in the future?

You are not really alive.

You are not available to you; you are not available to your beloved one. So, come home to yourself, in the here and in the now, become fully alive and your true presence profits yourself, your true presence profits your beloved one. And you are in touch with the wonders of life that are available.

You know that wonders of life are available only in the present moment. The Kingdom of God, the Pureland of Buddha, they are only present, available in the here and in the now.

That is why to stop, to go home to the present moment, is a very crucial act, an act that brings you life, that makes you fully present.

And we know that the practice of Samatha is linked to the practice of Vipasyana. Because the insight brought to us by Vipasyana shows us that the wonders of life are really there, available.

That the Kingdom of God is really there. 43.51

That what we are looking for is already there and that make it possible for the running to stop, make it possible for you to become fully present and to be fully alive.

So, talking about Samatha is talking also about Vipasyana.

Another function of Samatha is to recognize, to recognize what?

To recognize what is happening in the present moment.

Because in our daily life, you may get lost.

We often get lost in our worries, in our regret, in our complex.

You don’t know what is really happening in the here and in the now.

What is really happening in the here and in the now is that you are still there, you are alive. That the wonders of life are available in this very moment. It would be a pity if you have no chance to recognize this wonderful thing that are opening in the here and in the now.

And mindfulness is exactly the kind of energy that can help you to recognize what is happening in the here and in the now.

What is happening is that you are breathing is, you are still alive, and touch in depth is wonderful.

Because many people live and yet, they are not alive.

They live like dead man, dead woman, they carry their own dead bodies and circulate around.

They are not alive, they are always caught in their regret, in their fear, they cannot touch life, they cannot touch the Kingdom, the Pureland. 46.33

It’s a pity.

They spend 50 years and 60 years and 70 years, living like that.

Never been able to touch the wonders of life.

The Kingdom of God, the Pureland of Buddha.

And if you send him or her a ray of mindfulness, you may rescue him or her and bring him back to the here and to the now, for him, for her to get in touch with life. You can do that.

You are a buddha, you can rescue people, countless people in one day. So samatha helps us to recognize, what is happening in the present moment. You are alive, you can smile, you can look with the eyes of compassion, you can help living beings to wake up, you can help people to become alive again.

It’s very wonderful thing, to be and to do.

You can perform like a Buddha; you can perform like Jesus.

You can save so many people, you can bring them from the realm of death to the realm of life.

You are able to come home to recognize the wonders of life that are available.

When you are able to recognize, you get in touch deeply.

The blue sky is always there for you.

But because of your worries, your anger, you cannot touch the blue sky. The blue sky that has been waiting for you.

So, to go home to yourself, to go home to the present moment,

mind and body together, you have a chance to recognize the fact that the blue sky is there!

And that is why to recognize, help you to get in touch.

How wonderful to get in touch!

To get in touch with yourself and get in touch with the wonders of life. And there are many things in us and around us, that has the power of healing. You listen to the birds, you listen to the stream of water, you listen to the wind, you contemplate the trees, the blue sky, the mountains, they are very refreshing, they are very healing and nourishing. That is why to recognize them and to get deeply in touch, you get the healing, that you so much need.

And if you don’t do that, you allow the toxins by our environment to invade you. Because out of forgetfulness, you have created many negative elements, many poisons, many toxins, that can be seen on television, on the news bulletin and on the films.

They allow all these elements of anger and despair and hate to penetrate us. That is not for our healing, our transformation.

And in our daily life, when we don’t practice, we allow this poison to penetrate into our body and mind.

We allow our children to be penetrated by these poisons.

That it why it is crucial to come home and to get in touch with the healing, refreshing and nourishing elements that are still available in the garden of life, in the garden of Eden, that is still available.

To recognize, to get in touch, to get the nourishment, to get the healing. Later on, someone may ask you, what is your purpose of being in the Deer Park?

I went there to practice stopping. Laughter. That’s good enough.

Because when I am able to stop, I become fully alive, I recognize the wonders of life, I can get in touch with them, I can get the nourishment and I can get the healing.

That is why Samatha is a very important practice.

I would like to repeat this sentence, I would like you to remember:

It is possible for us to live every moment in our daily life in such a way that every moment becomes a moment of healing.

When you make a step, make sure that the step has a power of healing, relaxing. When you breathe in, make sure that your in-breathe has a power of stopping, of healing.

This is the voice of Buddha directly to you and from yourself, not coming from outside.


Some more gong



III Evolution, Involution and Creation out of Nothingness. Berlin, 17th June 1909

Today we intend adding something to round off the many facts and views we have been studying here this winter. We have often emphasized the way in which spiritual science should take hold of human life, and how it can become life, action and deed. Today, however, we want to give a few concluding aspects on the subject of the great evolutionary processes of the cosmos, as these are expressed in man. And to start with I should like to draw your attention to a fact that can tell you a great deal about the nature of cosmic evolution, if only you are prepared to look at it in the right way.

Consider, in a purely external way to begin with, the difference between the evolution of the animal and that of man. You need only say one word and hold one idea before you, and you will soon notice the difference between the concept of animal and human evolution. Think of the word ‘education’. Actual education is impossible in the animal world. To a certain extent you can train the animal to do things that are foreign to its natural instincts and inborn way of life. But only an extremely enthusiastic dog-lover would want to deny that there is a radical difference between the education of a human being and what can be undertaken with animals. We need merely bear one particular anthroposophical insight in mind, and we shall understand the basis for this apparently superficial fact.

We know that man’s development is a gradual and very complicated process. We have repeatedly emphasized that in the first seven years of his life, up to the change of teeth, man develops in quite a different way from the later period up to fourteen, and again from the fourteenth to the twenty-first year. We will only touch on this today, for you already know it. According to spiritual science man passes through several births. The human being is born into the physical world when he leaves his mother’s body and frees himself of the physical maternal sheath. But we know that when this has happened, he is still enclosed in a second maternal sheath, an etheric one. During the first seven years of his life the child’s etheric body is completely enveloped in external etheric currents that come from the outer world, just as the physical body is enveloped until birth in a physical maternal sheath. At the change of teeth this etheric sheath is stripped off, and not until now, at the age of seven, is the etheric body born. Then the astral body is still enclosed in the astral maternal sheath that is stripped off at puberty. After this the astral body develops freely until the twenty-first or twenty-second year, which is the time when strictly speaking the actual ego of man is born. Not until then does the human being awaken to his full inner intensity and the ego that has evolved through the course of his earlier incarnations work its way free.

To clairvoyant consciousness a very special fact becomes apparent here. If you watch a very young child for several weeks or months, you will see the child’s head surrounded by etheric and astral currents and forces. However, these currents and forces gradually become less distinct and vanish after a while. What is really taking place there? You can actually discover what is happening, even without clairvoyant vision, although clairvoyant vision confirms what we are about to say. Immediately after the birth of a human being his brain is not the same as it will be a few weeks or months later. The child already perceives the outer world, of course, but its brain is not yet an instrument capable of connecting external impressions in a definite way. By means of connecting-nerves running from one part of the brain to another, the human being learns by degrees to link together in thought what he perceives in the external world, but these connecting nerve-strands develop only after birth. A child will hear and see a bell, for instance, but the impression of the sound and the sight of the bell do not immediately combine to form the thought that the bell is ringing. The child learns this only gradually, because the part of the brain that is the instrument for the perception of sound and the part that is the instrument for visual perception become connected only in the course of life. And not until this has happened is it possible for the child to reach the conclusion: ‘What I see is the same thing that is making the sound’. Connecting-cords like this are developed in the brain, and the forces that develop these connecting-cords can be seen by the clairvoyant in the first weeks of the child’s development as an extra covering round the brain. But this covering passes into the brain and subsequently lives within it, no longer working from outside but from within. What works from outside during the first weeks of the child’s development could not go on working at the whole development of the growing human being were it not protected by the various sheaths. For when that which has been working from outside passes into the brain, it develops under the protecting sheath first of the etheric body then of the astral body and only when the twenty-second year has been reached does that which first worked from outside become active from within. What was outside the human being during the first months of his existence and then slipped inside, is active for the first time independently of sheaths in the twentieth to the twenty-second year; then it becomes free and awakens into intense activity.

Now let us consider the gradual development of the human being and compare it with that of the plant. We know that the plant only has its physical and etheric body here in the physical world, whereas its astral body is outside it; but only the physical and etheric body within it. The plant emerges from the seed, forms its physical body, and then the etheric body gradually develops. And this etheric body is all that the plant has in addition. Now we have seen that man’s etheric body is still enveloped in the astral body until puberty, and that man’s astral body is not actually born until then. But the plant, after reaching its puberty, cannot give birth to an astral body, for it has none. Therefore, the plant has nothing further to develop after puberty. It has accomplished its task in the physical world when puberty occurs, and after it has been fertilized, it withers. You can even observe something similar in certain lower animals. In these lower animals the astral body has quite evidently not penetrated into the physical body to the same extent as in the higher animals. Lower animals are characterized by the very fact that their astral body is not yet entirely within their physical body. Take the may-fly; it comes into being, lives until it is fertilized, and then dies. Why? Because it is a creature which, like a plant, has its astral body for the most part outside it, and therefore it has nothing further to develop when puberty has occurred. In a certain respect man, animal and plant develop in a similar way until puberty. Then the plant has nothing else to develop in the physical world, and so it dies. The animal still has an astral body, but no ego. Therefore, after puberty certain possibilities of development remain in the animal. The astral body becomes free, and as long as it develops freely and possibilities of development remain, further development continues in the higher animal after puberty. But the astral body of the animal has no ego within it in the physical world. The animal’s ego is a group ego; it embraces a whole group and exists as group ego in the astral world, where its possibilities of development are quite different from those of the single animal here in the physical world. What the animal possesses as astral body has a limited possibility of development, and the animal already has this possibility within it as a natural tendency when it comes into the world. The lion has something in his astral body that expresses itself as a sum of impulses, instincts and passions. And this tendency continues to live itself out to the full until an ego might be born; but the ego is not there, it is on the astral plane. Therefore, when the animal has just reached the stage when man attains his twenty-first year, its possibilities of development are all used up. The length of life varies according to circumstances, of course, for animals do not all live to be twenty-one. But up to the age of twenty-one, when the ego is born in man, his development is comparable to that of the animal. This must not lead to the conclusion that human development up to the age of twenty-one is identical to that of an animal, for that is not the case. The ego is already within the human being from the beginning, right from conception, and it now becomes free. Hence, because there is something within man from the beginning that becomes free at the age of twenty-one, he is from the outset no animal being, for the ego, although not free, is nevertheless working in him from the start. And it is essentially this ego that can be educated. For it is this ego, together with what it has accomplished in the astral, etheric and physical bodies, that passes from one incarnation to another. If this ego received nothing new in a further incarnation, man would not be able to take anything with him at his physical death, from his last life between birth and death. And if he were not able to take anything with him, he would be at exactly the same stage in the following life as he was in the previous one. Through the fact that you see man going through a development in life, and acquiring what the animal cannot acquire, because the animal’s possibilities of development do not go beyond its inborn capacities, man is constantly enriching his ego, and reaches higher levels from one incarnation to another. It is because man bears within him an ego that has already been at work, although it only becomes free at his twenty-first year, that education is practicable, and something further can be done with him beyond his original possibilities. The lion brings its lion nature with it and lives it out. Man, not only brings with him his nature as a member of the general human species, but also what he has attained as an ego in his Previous incarnation. This can be transformed more and more by education and life, and it will have acquired new impetus by the time man passes through the portal of death and has to prepare for a new incarnation. The point is that man acquires new factors of development and is constantly adding to his store.

Now let us ask what actually happens when man adds to his store from outside? To answer this, we must reach three very important, rather difficult concepts. But as we have been working for some years in this group, we ought to be able to understand them. Let us start by taking a fully developed plant, for instance a lily of the valley.

Here you have the plant before you in another form, as a small seed. Imagine holding the seed; there you have a minute structure. When you lay it in front of you, you can say: Everything that I shall see later on as root, stalk, leaves and blossom is in this seed. So here I have the plant in front of me as a seed and there as a fully grown plant. But I could not have the seed in front of me if it had not been produced by a previous lily of the valley. The case is different for clairvoyant consciousness. When clairvoyant consciousness observes the fully grown lily of the valley, it sees the physical plant filled with an etheric body, a body consisting of streams of light permeating it from top to bottom. In the lily of the valley, however, the etheric body does not extend very far beyond the physical body of the plant and does not differ from it very much. But if you take the small seed of the lily of the valley you will find that although the physical seed is small it is permeated by a wonderfully beautiful etheric body raying out all round in such a way that the seed is situated at one end of the etheric body like a comet with a tail. The physical seed is really only a denser point in the light or etheric body of the lily of the valley. When a spiritual scientist has the fully grown lily of the valley in front of him then, for him, the being that was hidden to begin with is developed. When he has the seed in front of him where the physical part is very small and only the spiritual part is large, he says: the actual being of the lily of the valley is rolled up in the physical seed. So, when we look at the lily of the valley, we have to distinguish two different states. One state is where the whole being of the lily of the valley is in involution: the seed contains the being rolled up, involved. When it comes forth it passes over to evolution, and then the whole being of the lily of the valley slips more into the newly developing seed. Thus, evolution and involution alternate in the successive states of a plant. During evolution the spiritual disappears further and further and the physical grows great, whilst in involution the physical will disappear further and further and the spiritual become greater and greater.

In a certain respect we can speak of evolution and involution alternating in man to an even greater extent. In the human being between birth and death a physical body and an etheric body interpenetrate to form the physical, and the spiritual interpenetrates them too in a certain way, as an earthly being man is in evolution. But when man is seen clairvoyantly passing through the portal of death, he does not leave behind in physical life as much as the lily of the valley leaves in the seed; the physical disappears so completely that you no longer see it, it is all rolled up in the spiritual. Then man passes through Devachan, where he is in involution as regards his earthly being. For this earthly being of man, evolution is between birth and death, involution between death and a new birth. Yet there is a tremendous difference between man and the plant. In the plant we can speak of involution and evolution, but in the case of man we have to speak of yet a third factor. If we were not to speak of a third factor, we should not comprise the whole of human development. Because the plant always passes through involution and evolution, every new plant is an exact repetition of the last one. The being of the lily of the valley is perpetually going into the seed and out again. But what is happening in the case of man?

We have just realized that man receives new possibilities of development during his life between birth and death. He adds to his store. Hence it is not the same with man as it is with the plant. Each evolution of man on the earth is not a mere repetition of the previous one, but a raising of his existence on to a higher level. What he takes into himself between birth and death is added to what was there previously. That is why no mere repetition occurs, for what is evolving appears at a higher stage. Where does this new element actually come from? In what way are we to understand the fact that man receives and takes in something new? I beg you to follow very closely now, for we are coming to a most important and most difficult concept. And not without reason do I say this in one of the last sessions, for you will have the whole summer to ponder over it. We should ponder over such concepts for months if not years, then we gradually begin to realize their depth. Where does all that is constantly being added to man come from? We will make this comprehensible by taking a simple example.

Suppose you see a man standing opposite two other people. Let us take into consideration everything that belongs to evolution. Let us take the one who is observing the other two, and say to ourselves that he has passed through earlier incarnations and has developed what has been planted in him in these previous incarnations. The same applies to the other two people. Then let us suppose that the first man thinks to himself: The one person looks splendid beside the other. He is pleased to see just these two particular people standing together. Another person might not feel this satisfaction. The satisfaction the man feels in seeing the two-standing side by side has nothing whatever to do with the possibilities of development in the other two, for they have done nothing that deserves the pleasure their standing together gives him. It is something quite different, and it depends entirely on the fact that it is he in particular that is standing opposite the two people. The point is that the man develops a feeling of joy over the two men in front of him standing together. This feeling is not caused by anything to do with development. There are things like this in the world that arise simply through coincidence. It is not a question of the two men being karmically connected. Our concern is the joy the man feels because he likes seeing the two people standing together.

Let us take a further example. Imagine a man standing here at a certain spot on the earth and looking up at the sky. He sees a particular constellation of stars. If he were to stand five paces away, he would see something else. This looking at the sky creates in him a feeling of joy that is something quite new. Man experiences a number of totally new things that have nothing to do with his previous development. Everything that comes forth in the lily of the valley is determined by its previous development; but this is not the case with what works on the human soul from the environment. Man is concerned with a lot of affairs that have nothing to do with any previous development, but which are there because various circumstances bring him into contact with the outer world. Because he feels this joy, however, it has become for him an experience. Something has arisen in the human soul that is not determined by anything preceding it but which has arisen out of nothingness. Such creations out of nothingness are constantly arising in the human soul. These are experiences of the soul not experienced through given circumstances but through the relationships we ourselves create connecting the circumstances one with another. I want you to distinguish between the experiences produced by given circumstances and those produced by the relationships between the various circumstances.

Life really falls into two parts, with no distinguishing line between them: those experiences strictly determined by previous causes, by karma, and those not determined by karma but appearing on our horizon for the first time. There are whole areas in human life that come under these headings. Suppose you hear that somewhere someone has stolen something. What has happened is, of course determined by something karmic. But suppose you only know something about the theft and not the thief — therefore there is a particular person in the objective world who has done the stealing, but you know nothing about him. The thief is not going to come to you, though, and say: ‘Lock me up, I have committed a theft’, on the contrary, it is up to you to line up the facts so as to produce the evidence as to who is the thief. The ideas you put together have nothing to do with the objective facts. They depend on quite different things, even on whether you are clever or not. Your train of argument does not make the person a thief, it is a process taking place entirely within you that gets associated with what is there outside. Strictly speaking, any kind of logic is something added to things from outside. And all opinions of taste, as well as judgments we make about beauty, are additions. Thus, man is constantly enriching his life with things that are not determined by previous causes, but which he experiences by bringing himself into a relationship with things.

If we make a rapid survey of human life and visualize man’s development through ancient Saturn, Sun and Moon as far as our Earth evolution, we find that on Saturn there could be no question of man being able to relate to things in this way. Everything was pure necessity then. It was the same on old Sun and also on old Moon, and the animals are still in the situation today that man was in on the Moon. The animal experiences only what is determined by preceding causes. Man, alone has entirely new experiences, independent of previous causes. Therefore, in the truest sense of the word man alone is capable of education; man, alone can continually add something new to what is determined by karma. Only on Earth did man attain the possibility of adding something new. On the Moon his development had not reached the point where he would have been capable of adding anything new to his innate capacities. Although not an animal, he was then at the stage of animal development. His actions were determined by external causes. To a certain extent this is still so today, for those experiences that are free experiences are only slowly making their way into man. And they appear to a greater and greater extent the higher the level at which man is. Imagine a dog standing in front of a Raphael painting. It would see what is there in the picture itself, in so far as it is a sense object. But if a man were to stand in front of the picture, he would see something quite different in it; he would see what he is capable of creating through the fact that he has already developed further in previous incarnations. And now imagine a genius like Goethe; he would see even more, and he would know the significance of why one thing is painted like this and the other like that. The more highly developed a man is the more he sees. And the more he has enriched his soul the greater his capacity to add to it the soul experiences from soul relationships. These become the property of his soul and are stored up within it. All this, however, has only been possible for humanity since Earth evolution began. But now the following will take place.

Man will develop in his own way through the subsequent ages. We know that the Earth will be succeeded by Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan. During this evolution the sum of man’s experiences over and above those resulting from previous causes will become greater and greater, and his inner being become richer and richer. What he has brought with him from ancient causes, from the Saturn, Sun and Moon stages, will have less and less significance. He is developing his way out of previous causes and casting them off. And when, together with the Earth, man will have reached Vulcan, he will have stripped off all he received during the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolution. He will have cast it all off

Now we come to a difficult concept which shall be made clear by an analogy. Imagine you are sitting in a carriage that has been given or bequeathed to you. You are taking a ride in this carriage when a wheel becomes faulty, so you replace it with a new one. Now you have the old carriage but a new wheel. Suppose that after a while a second wheel becomes faulty. You replace that, and you now have the old carriage and two new wheels. Similarly, you replace the third and fourth wheels, and so on, until you can easily imagine that one day you will actually have nothing left of the old carriage, but will have replaced it all with new parts. You will have nothing left of what you received as a gift or inheritance; you will still drive about in it, but strictly speaking it will be an entirely new vehicle. And now transfer this idea to human evolution. During the Saturn period man received the rudiments of his physical body, on the Sun his etheric body, on the Moon his astral body and on the Earth his ego, and he has been gradually developing these principles. But within the ego he is increasingly bringing experiences of a new kind into being and stripping off what he inherited, what he was given on Saturn, Sun and Moon. And a time will come — the Venus evolution — when man will have cast off all that the gods gave him during the Moon, Sun and Saturn evolution and the first half of the Earth evolution. He will have discarded all this, just as in our analogy the single parts of the carriage were discarded. And he will have gradually replaced all this by something he has taken into himself from relationships, something previously nonexistent. Thus, on reaching Venus, man will not be able to say: Everything from Saturn, Sun and Moon evolution is still in me — for by then he will have cast it all off. And at the end of his evolution, he will bear within him only what he has gained through his own efforts, not what he was given, but what he has created out of nothingness. Here you have the third thing in addition to evolution and involution: creation out of nothingness. Evolution, Involution and creation out of nothingness are what we must have in mind if we are to picture the whole magnitude and majesty of human evolution. Thus, we can understand how the gods have first of all given us our three bodies as vehicles, and how they built up these vehicles stage by stage, and then endowed us with the capacity to surmount them again stage by stage. We can understand how we may throw away the parts, piece by piece, because the gods wish to make us member by member into their image, so that we may say: The rudiments of what I am to become were given me, and out of them I have created for myself a new being.

Thus, what man sees before him as a great and wonderful ideal in the far distant future, of having not only a consciousness of himself but a consciousness of having created himself, was already developed in earlier times by mighty spirits on a higher level than man. And certain spirits already engaged in the past in our evolution are developing at the present time what man will experience only in a distant future. We have said that during the Saturn evolution the thrones poured forth what we call the substance of mankind, and that into this human substance the spirits of personality poured what we call the forces of personality. But the spirits of personality, who at that time were sufficiently powerful to let the character of their personality flow into this substance poured out by the thrones, have since then ascended higher and higher. Today they have reached the point where they no longer need any physical substance for their further development. On Saturn, in order to be able to live at all, they needed the physical substance of Saturn which was at the same time the rudiment of human substance; on the Sun they needed the etheric substance that poured forth for man’s etheric body; on the Moon they needed the astral substance, and here on Earth they need our ego. Henceforth, however, they will need what is formed by the ego itself, man s new creation out of pure relations, which is no longer physical, etheric or astral body or even ego as such, but that which the ego produces out of itself. This the spirits of personality will use, and they are already using it to live in today. On Saturn they lived in what is now our physical body, on the Sun in what is now our etheric body, on the Moon in what is now our astral body. Since the middle of Atlantean times they have begun living in the higher elements that man can bring forth out of his ego.

What are these higher elements man produces from out of his ego? They are of three kinds. First, what we call thinking in accordance with law, our logical thinking. This is something that man adds to things. If man does not merely look at the external world or merely observe it, or merely chase after the thief to find him, but observes in such a way that he sees the law inherent in the observation, availing himself of thoughts that have nothing to do with the thief and yet they catch him, then man is living in logic, pure logic. This logic is something that is added to things by man. When man devotes himself to this pure logic, the ego creates something beyond itself.

Secondly, the ego creates beyond itself when it develops pleasure or displeasure in the beautiful, the exalted, the humorous, the comic; in short, in everything that man himself produces. Let us say you see something in the world that strikes you as silly, and you laugh at it. This laughter has nothing whatever to do with your karma. A stupid person might come along, and the very thing you are laughing at could strike him as clever. That is something that arises out of yourself in that particular situation. Or, let us say, you see people attacking a brave man who for a time holds his own but eventually comes to a tragic end. What you witness was determined by karma, but the feeling of tragedy you have about it is something new.

Though necessity is the first thing, pleasure and displeasure are the second, and the third is the way you feel the urge to act under the influences of relationships. Even the way you feel compelled to act is not determined solely by karma, but by your relationship to the matter. Supposing two people are on the one hand so situated with regard to their relationship with one another that they are karmically destined to pay off something together, but at the same time one is further advanced in his development than the other. The more advanced one will pay up, the other will hold it back for later payment. The one will develop kindness of heart; the other’s feelings will not be touched. That is something new coming into evolution. You must not look on everything as determined, rather it depends on whether or not we allow our actions to be guided by the laws of justice and fairness. New things are constantly being added to our morality, to the way we do our duty and to our moral judgment. Particularly in our moral judgment there lies the third element by means of which man goes beyond himself and then advances further and further. The ego puts this into our world, and what is thus put into the world does not perish. What men have introduced into the world from epoch to epoch, from age to age, as the result of logical thought, aesthetic judgment or the fulfillment of duty, forms a continuous stream, and provides the substance in which, in their phase of evolution, the spirits of personality take up their abode.

That is the way you live and evolve. And whilst you are evolving, the spirits of personality look down upon you, asking continually: Will you give me something, too, that I can use for my development? And the more man develops his thought content, his treasures of thought, the more he tries to refine his aesthetic judgment, and carry out his duty beyond the requirements of karma, the more nourishment there is for the spirits of personality; the more we offer up to them, the more substantial these spirits of personality become. What do these spirits of personality represent? Something which from the point of view of our human world conception we call an abstraction: the spirit of the age, the spirit of the various epochs. To anthroposophist’s this spirit of the age is a real being. The spirits of the age, who are actually the spirits of personality, move through the ages. When we look back into ancient times, the Indian, Persian, Chaldean-Babylonian, Greco-Latin times and right into our own time, we find that apart from the nations and apart from all the other differences among men, what we call the spirit of the age is always changing. People thought and felt quite differently five thousand years ago than they did three thousand years ago and from the way they do today. And it is the spirits of the age or, according to spiritual science, the spirits of personality who change. These spirits of personality are going through their evolution in the super-sensible world just as the human race is going through its evolution in the sense world. But all that the human race develops of a super-sensible nature is food and drink for these spirits of personality, and they benefit from it. If there were an age in which men were to spend their lives without developing any treasures of thought, without pleasure or displeasure, nor any feeling for duty beyond the limits of karma — in such an age the spirits of personality would have no nourishment and they would become emaciated. Such is our connection with the beings who are invisibly interwoven with our life.

As I told you, man adds something new to development, creates as it were something out of nothingness in addition to involution and evolution. He could not create anything out of nothingness, however, had he not previously received the causes into which he has placed himself as in a vehicle. This vehicle was given him during the Saturn evolution, and bit by bit he is discarding it and developing on into the future. He had to receive the foundation for this, however, and if the gods had not provided this foundation for him in the first place, he would not have been able to perform any action that can be created out of nothingness. That relationships in the surrounding world affect us in such a way that they really help our further development is due to this laying of a good foundation.

For what has become possible through the fact that man can create something new out of relationships, and that he can make use of the connections into which he is placed so as to form the foundation for something new that he himself creates? And what does it mean that man has become capable of extending his thoughts beyond the things he experiences in the surrounding world, and feeling more than what is objectively there in front of him? What has come about as a result of man being able to work beyond the dictates of karma, and live-in duty towards truth, fairness and kindness of heart?

By becoming capable of logical thinking, of developing thought in accordance with its necessity, the possibility of error has been created. Because of the pleasure man can take in what is beautiful, the possibility has also been created for him to introduce the element of ugliness and impurity into world evolution. Because man is capable of both setting himself the concept of duty and of fulfilling it beyond the extent of karma, the possibility of evil and of resistance to duty has been created. So, it is this very possibility of being able to create solely out of relationships that has placed man in a world in which he can also work on his own spiritual part, so that it becomes full of error, ugliness and evil. And not only had the possibility to be provided for man altogether to create out of these relationships, but the possibility had to be given for him by dint of struggle and striving gradually to create out of these relationships what is right, what is beautiful and those virtues that really further his evolution.

Creating out of relationships is called in Christian esotericism ‘creating out of the spirit’. And creating out of right, beautiful and virtuous relationships is called in Christian esotericism ‘The Holy Spirit’. When a man is able to create out of nothingness the right or true, the beautiful and the good, the Holy Spirit fills him with bliss. But for a man to be able to create in the sense of the Holy Spirit, he had first to be given the foundation, as is the case for all creation out of nothingness. This foundation was given him through the coming of Christ into our evolution. Through experiencing the Christ Event on earth, man was able to ascend to creating in the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is Christ Himself Who creates the greatest, most profound foundation. If man becomes such that he stands firmly on the basis of the Christ experience, and the Christ experience is the carriage he joins for his evolutionary progress, then the Christ sends him the Holy Spirit, and man becomes capable of creating the right, beautiful and good in the course of his further evolution.

So, we see the coming of the Christ to the Earth as a fulfillment as it were of all that had been put into man through Saturn, Sun and Moon. And the Christ Event has given man the greatest thing possible, the power that makes him capable of living on into the perspectives of the future and of increasingly creating out of relationships, out of all that is not predetermined, but depends on how man relates to the facts of the world around him, which is in the widest sense the Holy Spirit. This again is an aspect of Christian esotericism. Christian esotericism is connected with the profoundest thought in the whole of our evolution, the thought of creation out of nothingness.

Therefore, no true theory of evolution will ever be able to leave out the thought of creation out of nothingness. Supposing there were only evolution and involution, there would be eternal repetition like there is with the plant, and on Vulcan there would be only what originated on Saturn. But in the middle of our development creation out of nothingness was added to evolution and involution. After Saturn, Sun and Moon had passed away, Christ came to Earth as the enriching leaven which ensures that something quite new will be there on Vulcan, something not yet present on Saturn. Whoever speaks of evolution and involution only, will speak of development as though everything were merely to repeat itself in circles. But such circles can never really explain world evolution. Only when we add to evolution and involution this creation out of nothingness, that adds something new to existing relationships, do we arrive at a real understanding of the world.

Beings of a lower order show no more than a trace of what we called creation out of nothingness. A lily of the valley will always be a lily of the valley; at most the gardener could add something to it from outside to which the lily of the valley would never have attained of itself. Then there would be something which with regard to the nature of the lily of the valley would be a creation out of nothingness. Man, however, is himself capable of including in his being this creation out of nothingness. Yet man only becomes capable of doing so, and advancing to the freedom of individual creativity through the greatest of all free deeds, and one which can serve him as an example. What is this greatest deed of freedom? It is that the creative and wise Word of our solar system Himself resolved to enter into a human body and to take part in Earth evolution through a deed unconnected with any previous karma. There was no preceding karma forcing the Christ to His resolution to enter a human body; He undertook to do it as a free deed entirely based upon foreseeing mankind’s future evolution. This deed had no precedent, having its origin in Him as a thought out of nothingness, out of His pre-vision. This is a difficult concept, but it will always be included in Christian esotericism, and everything depends on our being able to add the thought of creation out of nothingness to those of evolution and involution.

When we are able to do this, we shall acquire great ideals which, although they may not extend to what may be called cosmic dimensions, are essentially connected with the question: Why, for instance, do we join an anthroposophical society? To understand the purpose of an anthroposophical society we must return to the thought that we are working for the spirits of personality, for the spirits of the age. When a human being comes into the world at birth, to start with he is educated by all manner of circumstances; these influence him and form the first step of his own creative activity. If only it could be clearly understood that the place where a man is born is only the first step, and that the prevailing circumstances work upon him with overwhelming suggestive power. Let us try to imagine how different a man’s circumstances would be were he to be born in Rome or Frankfurt instead of in Constantinople. Through his birth he would be placed in different circumstances, into different religious affiliations. Under these influences a certain fanaticism could develop in him for Catholicism or Protestantism. If, through a slight turn of the wheel in karmic connections, he had been born in Constantinople, might he not also have turned out to be quite a good Turk? Here you have an illustration of the suggestive force with which environmental conditions affect man. But man is able to extricate himself from the purely suggestive nature of conditions and unite with other people in accordance with principles he himself chooses and acknowledges. Then he can say: “Now I know why I am working with other people”. In this way there arise out of human consciousness those social groups in which material is created for the spirits of the age, the spirits of personality. And the anthroposophical society is a group of this kind in which this connection is created on a basis of brotherhood. This means nothing else than that each individual is active in the group in such a way that he acquires in himself all the good qualities that make him an image of the whole society. Thus, all the thoughts, wealth of feeling and virtues he develops through the society he bestows as nourishment upon the spirits of personality. Hence in a society like this all that creates communal life is inseparable from the principle of individuality. Each single member becomes capable through such a society of offering what he himself produces as a sacrifice to the spirits of personality. And each individual prepares himself to reach the level of those who are the most advanced, and who, as the result of spiritual training have progressed to the point where they have the following ideal: “When I think, I do not do so for my own satisfaction, but in order to create nourishment for the spirits of personality. I lay upon the altar of the spirits of personality my highest and most beautiful thoughts; and what I feel is not prompted by egoism, I feel it because it is to be nourishment for the spirits of personality. And what I can practice in the way of virtue, I do not practice for the sake of gaining influence for myself, but in order to bring it as a sacrifice to provide food for the spirits of personality.” Here we have placed before us as our ideal those whom we call the masters of wisdom and the masters of harmony and feeling. For thus do they think and prepare for the development which will bring man nearer and nearer to the point where he will always be creating what is new until he will finally develop a world from which the workings of the old causes will have disappeared, and out of which new light will stream forth into the future. The world is not subject to perpetual metamorphosis into different forms, but the old is perfected and becomes the vehicle of the new. Then even this will be thrown off and will disappear into nothingness, so that out of this nothingness something new may arise. This is the tremendous idea of progress, that new things can perpetually arise.

But the worlds are complete in themselves, and you will have seen in the example given that we cannot speak of anything actually coming to an end. It has been shown how on the one hand the spirits of personality lose their influence over man, but on the other hand how they again pursue their own evolution. Thus, ours is a world that is constantly being rejuvenated by new creations, yet it is also true that what is stripped off would hinder progress, and it is passed on so that others for their part can progress. Nobody should believe that he must allow something to sink into nothingness, for we have been given the possibility of creating out of nothingness. What on Vulcan will prove itself to be something new, will continually build new forms and discard the old, and what is thrown off will seek its own path.

Evolution, involution and creation out of nothingness are the three concepts we have to apply in order to understand the evolution of world phenomena as it really is. Only by this means shall we arrive at accurate concepts that both enlighten man about the world and engender in him inner warmth of feeling. If man had to admit his incapacity to do anything except create in accordance with impulses implanted into him, this would not steel his will nor kindle his hopes to the same extent as being able to say: “I can create my own life values and constantly add something new to what has been given me as a foundation. My ancient heritage will in no way hinder me from creating new blossoms and fruits which will live on into the future.” This, however, is part of what we can describe by saying that the anthroposophical conception of the world gives man strength, hope and confidence in life, for it shows him that he can, in the future, have a share in working at creations which, today, not only lie in the womb of causality but in nothingness. It shows him the prospect that, through his own efforts, he is working his way in the true sense of the word from being a ‘creature’ to being a ‘creator’.


More explanation about Anthroposophy and Dharma according Buddhism.

Dharma according to Buddhism;

Originated in the oriental part of planet Earth.

Buddhism seen as a philosophy of life.

Explanations are passed on such as the inner nature, its elements of the cosmic order and sacred things and maintenance thereof.

Teachings according to Buddha apply to this.

Insight intended as a manifestation of the Universal truth, with additional words, for the practical application of this truth according to Buddhism and with the connection of humanity and purpose of life on planet Earth and beyond. Developing awareness and liberating.


Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner;

By Anthroposophy I mean a scientific investigation of the Spiritual world, which sees through, as it were, the one-sidedness of only insight, recognition, awareness, consciousness of nature, looks through it, as those usually deal with music and those before attempting to penetrate into the supersensible world, into the acknowledging soul, are first developed those forces which have as yet no activity in ordinary consciousness and in ordinary science, which permit such intrusion or entry.



Rudolf Steiner: GA 107, GA 35.

Surrender Yourself to the Present Moment | Dharma Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, 2004-01-14Plum Village



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Image Lily of the Valley from Public Domain Pictures
The depiction of a human being is from the work of Liane Collot d’Herbois.
Picture previous to Evolution, involution and creating out of nothingness;
The first Goetheanum, art on the beginning of a stair railing.

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