Ether - Steiner

"... , what prevents the physical substances and forces from going their own way during life, which would cause the physical body to disintegrate, can be observed by supersensible perception as an independent part of our human makeup. This independent element will be called the 'ether body' or 'life body'.

"In order to prevent misunderstandings from creeping in right at the outset, there are two things that must be considered with regard to the terms applied to this second element of our human makeup: First, the use of the word ether is different here than it is in modern physics [of his time], which describes the medium of light as 'ether.' Here, however, the meaning of the word will be restricted to the one given above. It will be applied to this entity that is accessible to higher vision but recognizable to sensory perception only because of its effects - that is, because it is capable of giving a particular shape or form to the mineral substances and forces present in the physical body. Second, the word body should also not be misunderstood. After all, we have to use words taken from ordinary language, words that express only sense-perceptible things, to designate the higher things of existence. In sensory terms, of course, the ether 'body' is nothing bodily at all, no matter how fine or delicate a body we might imagine.

"... the ether body permeates the physical body in all its parts and is to be seen as its architect, so to speak. The shape and form of all our organs are maintained by the ether body's currents and movements. ...

"Having an ether body is common to plants and human beings in the same way that having a physical body is common to humans and minerals. Every living thing has its own ether body." (Rudolf Steiner, An Outline of Esoteric Science, first edition 1909, translated from 1925 edition, 1997, Anthroposophic Press, p. 32-36)

"The general impression that a clairvoyant observer has of the human ether body can be described as follows: When people with supersensible cognition have developed such strength of will that they are able to disregard what their physical eyes are seeing, in spite of the fact that a physical human being is standing in front of them, they are then able to use supersensible consciousness to see into the space the physical person occupies. Naturally, it requires an intense heightening of their will for them to be able to disregard not only what they are thinking but also something that is standing right in front of them, and to such an extent that its physical impression is extinguished. However, it is possible to bring this heightening about - it happens as a result of the exercises for achieving supersensible cognition. When people first perceive in this way, they get a general impression of the ether body. The inner sensation that arises in their souls is approximately the same as the one they get from seeing the color of a peach blossom. This becomes increasingly vivid and enables them to say that the ether body has the color of peach blossoms. After that, they also perceive the individual organs and currents within the ether body.

"However, the ether body could be described further by presenting soul experiences that correspond to sensations of warmth, sound, and so on, because the ether body is more than just a color phenomenon. The astral body and the other elements of our human makeup could also be descibed in this same sense." (Rudolf Steiner, An Outline of Esoteric Science, first edition 1909, translated from 1925 edition, 1997, Anthroposophic Press, p. 401-402)

"... now human souls are beginning to develop new faculties, faculties that - because this is precisely the purpose of the age - will cause souls, seemingly out of themselves, to exhibit certain clairvoyant powers... There will be a number of souls who will have the singular experience of having I-consciousness and at the same time the feeling of living in another world, essentially an entirely different world from the one of their ordinary consciousness. It will seem shadowy, a dim presentiment, as it were, as though one born blind were to have been operated on and had his sight restored. Through what we call esoteric training, these clairvoyant faculties will be acquired much more readily, but because humanity progresses they will appear, at least in rudimentary form, in the most elementary stages, in the natural course of human evolution.

"... human beings can acquire the new faculty of perception in the etheric realm - a certain number of human beings to begin with, followed gradually by others, ... This ability will enable human beings to see in their surroundings something of the etheric world, which up to now they have not normally been able to perceive. The human being now sees only man's physical body; then, however, he will be able to see the etheric body, at least as a shadowy image, and also to experience the relationship of all deeper events in the etheric. He will have pictures and premonitions of events in the spiritual world and will find that such events are carried out on the physical plane after three or four days." (Rudolf Steiner, The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, lectures by Rudolf Steiner, The Anthroposophic Press, p. 16-17)

"Even in this century, and increasingly throughout the next 2500 years, human beings will become able to behold Christ in His etheric form. ...

"We are now living, ... , in the age in which that mighty, revolutionary change is to occur in which the first seeds of a natural clairvoyance will evolve. We are coming into the age of Abraham; we are being led out into the spiritual world. Through this, the possibility is given that a certain number of human beings, and then more and more, shall experience during the next 2,500 years a repetition of the event of Damascus. The greatness and power of the next age will consist in the fact that for many people the event of Damascus will come to life; that through these faculties of which I have just spoken the Christ will become perceptible in the spiritual sphere of the earth. He will radiate into these faculties. As human beings become capable of seeing the etheric body, they will learn to see the etheric body of Christ Jesus, even as Paul saw it. ...

"Christ will not incarnate again in a physical body as He did at that time in Jesus; ... Christ will thus become visible to human beings in an etheric and not in a physical body. ...

"This condition of soul, this experiencing of soul, is called in esotericism the 'second coming of Christ.'" (Rudolf Steiner, The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, lectures by Rudolf Steiner, The Anthroposophic Press, pp. 51, 82, 96, 105)

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