Q00.001 - the physiology of the human I

From Anthroposophy


The thread below has been 'superseded' with more 'structural' coverage on the site. With this is meant, that the answers to good questions such as the below, should be an integral part of the site contents. Therefore more lecture references and excerpts, and explanatory notes, have been added to the main pages: Human 'I', Man's higher triad, Waking consciousness, and I-organization.

Nevertheless, because of the myriad of aspects covered, it is suggested the following Note can be used as an entry point:

Man's higher triad#.5B2.5D - Connecting the worlds of our true spiritual I with our .27physical I.27

Question [1]

April 2020

There is an important subject which Rudolf Steiner often talked about, but which is still very much unclear:

How do the 3 egos fit together or relate:

  • the earthly ego in your stomach, the „animal“ ego in us: greed, absolute will for biological survival
  • then the ego in the 2 leaf chakra, the donation of the elohim, the ego which differentiates us from the animals through intelligence and morality
  • and the third ego, the Christ-in-me in the heart

Only the Christ-in-me Ego comes from the Trinity, all the rest is a creation of the hierarchies.


Ich wollte mit der Frage nach den 3 "Ichs" .. die Aufmerksamkeit auf diese Fragestellung richten .. wie gesagt, dies wird bei Rudolf Steiner und auch in der Sekundärliteratur nicht so klar herausgearbeitet. Natürlich kennt Klaus Bracker auch diese Aspekte, aber meist wird dann nur zwischen "höherem" und "niederem" Ich unterschieden. Er schildert das Verhältnis dieser 2 Ichs in interessanter Weise und zwar, dass (nun mit meinen Worten ihn referierend) beide Ichs "schwebend" gleichzeitig anwesend sein können - und verweist dabei auf Fichte.

With reference to:

Klaus J. Bracker: 'Grals-Initiation - Anthroposophische Esoterik und die künftige Jesus-Offenbarung' (2009)

Answer [1]

Here are the elements I wanted to share with you regarding the three aspects of the 'I' in the question.

1st what I read in this, is that you refer to the lower drives. This refers to the lower part of the astral body (schema 135). The sentient soul has taken grip of the astral body, so if I read you correct this is what you refer to (schema 46). The I-organization and its link to the nervous system (schema 36), especially the blood-nerve interface, is essential but a rather complex matter that is not covered in many lectures. The schemas contains the lecture references, and the below initializes the background or 'sets the scene' for going into the question. .

2nd what I read here is that you refer to the human I, created from the substance sacrificed by the Spirits of Form: this is also what schema 46 is all about. However you link this to the chakra.

The development of Man, and the transformation of its lower bodies to the higher, is linked with the purification of the blood and the impact on the nervous system, and hence also the development of chakras as astral senses. So let us add the perspective of how the timeline for the development of these chakras is related to the development of Man. The chakras are part of the astral backbone structure and will evolve into a second spinal column and merge.

The schemas show that the chakras and senses develop as Man works on his purification. Technically I would not call that the I but rather the spiritualization of the whole of Man. One can show from various angles how and why the consciousness soul is key to the development of the higher self.

3th aspect is the most intriguing. Besides the links below, please see the 1904-02-18-GA090A lecture extract, and combine that with schema 128. Christ has a pure threefold soul and 'macroscopic I' linked to pure divine higher nature and the budhi element that he infused.

That divine budhi is the spark that lives in all of us, and to this we can connect through working our own life-spirit or budhi. It is part of our higher triad and spiritual higher self that we can develop. Reading 1904-02-18-GA090A .. imagine that the life spirit part of the Christ is of a special nature and has this 'group soul' effect with some sort of magnetic attraction described in the cell-multiplying analogy - see Second Adam.

The budhi force works in Man through the chemical ether on earth (see the etherization of blood). This is another aspects which requires further detailing, it relates to the quotes about 'Christ moving from east to west in the heart of men' which seems to be a geographical and timed phenomena, versus Christ being the spirit of the Earth.

In the above I refer to quote 1911-10-11-GA131, on the page Cleansed phantom whilst thinking of the illustration on the page of Second Adam.

On the side: The above sketches the question put in a multifold perspective from which one can enter and shed light on this. Apologies if this is making it complex, but these things are just not simple. And, once we know, we can keep and work all this in our soul. However to didactically support students of spiritual science who want to learn, we need materials to communicate over all these things, hence the schemas to enrich the discussion. Still more aspects need to be added here, like the fructification related to the third part in your question, the open points mentioned, etc.

One more thing I wanted to add in the context of the above, contemplating that Man works in the warmth region in higher spirit world, is reference to the following. Imagine blood as a spiritual substance:

the blood contains all four kingdoms of nature. The I can currently only penetrate into the forces of the mineral kingdom, the other kingdoms are represented by the forces of the spiritual beings from the three Elementary Kingdoms. (see 1907-12-04-GA098 below)

see Blood is a special fluid and The elementary kingdoms. On the latter page I added long lecture extracts because of their educational relevance:

The Beings of the third Elementary Kingdom have a warmth body on the astral plane. During the night, they permeate the blood of Man which warmth. They are the companions of the Group souls of the animals — they belong to the same region. In our astral body, in addition to our I, live spiritual beings whose I dwells upon the astral plane. These Beings permeates the astral body just as maggots live in cheese. This is the third Elementary Kingdom: it is the kingdom which forms impulses and passions of an animal nature [in us].

Follow up [2]

May 2020

Indeed in the human blood there are all four aspects of Man present.

The I aspect is that of the I in the 2 leaf chakra, the gift of the elohim. There was much talk about the I aspect in the blood which shows in the immune system.

But then there's the Christus-in-mir, the Om-mani-padme-hum in the heart. And from this "seed" there will come a new creation. Klaus Bracker in his book touches on this subject from different angles. There is the famous "Schöpfung aus dem Nichts", the creatio ex nihilo and Rudolf Steiner said that even a whole new world or cosmos will be created out of it.

Bracker connects these aspects with Adam Kadmon, the nathanic soul of Jesus but there is the something similar on a microcosmic level, for every human. And I agree with Bracker, in fact he wrote it in anthro terms so clearly as I've never found it before. But for sure there remains much to be said about it.

Reply [2]

Question: In the above, on what basis (any references?) do you limit the gift of the elohim to the two petalled chakra? only, specifically?

The SoF sacrificed their I-substance to penetrate the bodies of Man starting from astral down to etheric and physical bodies.

Regarding the Christ-in-me and the heart. The Mystery of the Heart points to the heart as the future buddhi-organ of creation, through which Man will create himself. See Man past and future

This is the process of growing along conditions of consciousness to the point the being emanates his own substance (which for Man will be only after Vulcan) See: Twelve Conditions of Consciousness

However the Christ-in-me also refers to Man's divine higher self buddhi and atma, see my higher reference to the schema and especially the 1904 lecture on Man's higher triad.

  • Sidenote: from an evolutionary perspective , this higher triad was already developed as a scaffold during Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon. But Christ plays a key role as the 'maestro' overlooking and guiding, managing the creation of the hierarchies. This can be seen in the three pre-MoG sacrifices with the corrections to the human I. In each planetary stage, an ever-higher spiritual hierarchy is needed to weave and connect the new principle of higher Man: on Old Saturn the Thrones (atma), on Old Sun the Cherubim (buddhi), on Old Moon the Seraphim (manas). In each planetary stage these were woven into the earlier higher principles. So at the end of Old Moon we have a scaffold of threefold higher Man prepared.

So although the Christ impulse is the trigger for Man along that evolutionary pathway (see 'Man past and future'), this does not necessarily imply that we need to 'locate' that Christ Impulse in a chakra. True, Steiner did say the Christ Impulse today, physiologically, plays between the heart and the brain (see quote below), but we can take it that this refers (not as a specific spot, but as a physical locating) to the process of etherization which is lined to the development of the future organs.

See also: Mystery of the Heart and The human heart as a future organ

  • Side question annex: when Rudolf Steiner talks about the etheric heart, one can consider the current physical-etheric-astral heart .. or the pituitary gland. See the essay by Ruth Haertl (2000) 'The etheric heart' or Ehrenhard Pfeiffer in his lecture of 1950-12-17: 'The heart as a spiritual organ of perception and the etherization of the blood', where he talks about the development of a fifth chamber.

It is definitely an interesting exercise to contemplate how the spiritual 'concepts' relate to Man's current and future physiology (organs, blood). See quote below, and link this to contemplation of Schemas 34 and 180 on The heart's two blood circuits and Schemas 44 and 178 on Etherization of blood

Rudolf Steiner (in Selg):

The Christ mystery is the revelation of the great miracle that takes place between the heart and the lungs. The cosmos becomes the human being and the human being becomes the cosmos.

The Sun carries the human being out of the cosmos and onto the Earth. The Moon carries the human being from the Earth into the cosmos. In larger terms, what streams from the lungs to the heart is the human correlate of the descent of Christ onto the Earth; what moves from the heart to the lungs is the human correlate of the human being carried into the spirit world by the Christ impulse after death.

Thus the secret of Golgotha lives between the heart and the lungs in each human being, in a very human, organ-related sense.

Follow up [3]


Hereby my immediate reaction to what you said about head and heart:

Ich erinnere mich, dass RS einmal sagte, dass das Ich imaginiert und erlebt werden kann wie ein "leuchtendes blaues" Gebilde in der Form eines Eis über der Nasenwurzel, zwischen den Augenbrauen. And when you concentrate, think, make up your mind, the moment before you make a decision, the place for this can very clearly be felt right there. This is where our vernünftig-sittliches Bewußtsein is located. But of course this shines though our whole being; if it is good this leads our emotions, our astral body and can also influence our etheric and physical body. Perhaps we can say it shines through the rest of our system, but the "main seat", the centre so to speak is there.

I think the Selg quote is from Mysterium Cordis.

Yes, the Ätherisierung des Blutes is one aspect of this "Fünklein im Seelengrund" as Jakob Böhme called it. But also a very simple eurythmic or body meditation shows you where the centre of your whole system lies: You stand upright, feel the ground beneath you and then feel oder taste innerlich nach vorne, forward and then backward, where is the middle between front and back, the same with heaven and Erdmittelpunkt, where is your middel and the same with left and right. Rudolf Steiner often talked of these 3 directions and what they mean where they lead us and it becomes very clear that the Mittelpunkt of you being is right in the heart. When you say I, or 'Ich bin mir sicher' or something like this you point right to your heart, to a place behind your sternum.

Also, take the 1st mantra of the Esoteric School, which comes from HPB .. More radiant than the sun... Rudolf Steiner gave it to his disciples with a very slight change in word order

Strahlender als die Sonne

Reiner als der Schneee

Feiner als der Äther

Ist das Selbst

Der Geist in meinem Herzen

Dies Selbst bin Ich

Ich bin dies Selbst

When Rudolf Steiner says that "Anthroposophie will das Geistige im Menschen mit dem Geistigen im Kosmos verbinden", which is the most general definition of what anthroposophy is .. for "the the Geistige im Menschen" is the Spirit in my heart of course,  and das Geistige im Kosmos is Brahman of course. Here begins (I think) an interesting shift or new emphasis in cosmology:

  • in waltendem Weltenschöpfer-Sein das eigene Ich im Gottes-Ich erweset >
  • die wogenden Welten-Werde-Taten das eigene Ich dem Welten-Ich vereinen >
  • wo die ewgen Götterziele Welten-Wesens-Licht dem eignen Ich zu freiem Wollen schenken

So the focus is on the Menschenaufgabe als Vollender der Schöpfung, als Mitschöpfer am 7. Schöpfungstag. In older cosmologies and philosophies and religions it was Man's task "to return to God", to go back to the Father. Das muss nicht unbedingt ein Widerspruch sein, aber es ist ein neuer Schwerpunkt, eine neue Perspektive.

In GA 268 you find some 'poems' of RS which were not meant for publication, not a summary or preparation for a lecture but which put in words his own meditaions and there you find this aspect, this Mit-Schöpfer am Werk Gottes sein very strongly.

Follow up [4]

March 2021

Hier ein paar spontane Reaktionen. Rudolf Steiner hat immer wieder über das „Ich“ gesprochen, aber ich mache ihm den Vorwurf, dass er ausgerechnet bei diesem wichtigen Thema nicht immer mit der nötigen Klarheit gesprochen hat. Es gibt ja verschiedene Aspekte des Ich und man weiß nicht immer, welchen Aspekt er meint. Deshalb möchte ich hier meine Version geben.

Es gibt 3 verschiedene Ich im Menschen.

  • Da ist zuerst da biologische Ich, das notwendigerweise total egoistisch sein muss. Dieses biologische Ich hat seinen Sitz im Bauch, dieses Ich möchte bei Gefahr überleben, bei Panik geht dieses Ich über Leichen, Stoffwechsel, Sexualität, Instinkt gehören zu diesem Ich. Dieses Ich lässt sich auch nicht kultivieren. Dieses Ich wird mit dem Menschen geboren und stirbt mit dem biologischen Menschen.
  • Dann gibt es im Kopf, im Haupt, hoofd, ein Ich, das wir in der lemurischen Zeit von den Elohim bekommen haben. Rudolf Steiner beschreibt es einmal so: Es sitzt im 3. Auge, zwischen den Augenbrauen und hat die Form und Größe eines Eis und schimmert bläulich. Dieses Ich lässt uns denken, mit Hilfe dieses Ich können wir vernünftig sein, unser Leben lenken, langfristig planen und dieses Ich kann anscheinend auch eine gewisse Moralität entwickeln. Dieses Ich ist also ein Geschenk der Hierarchien, ist eine Schöpfung der Hierarchien.
  • Dann gibt es das Christus-Ich im Herzen. Auch davon spricht Rudolf Steiner. Dieses Ich ist keine Schöpfung der Hierarchien, sondern eine Gabe aus der Trinität! Dieses Ich brachte uns der Christus, der Sohnes-Aspekt der Trinität und so stehen wir nun vor der Aufgabe, die 10. Hierarchie zu werden und aus der Trinität soll durch und mit dem Menschen aus der Trinität eine Vierheit werden. Lies 1. Kor. 13, dort wird uns gesagt, wie dieses bisher weitgehend inaktive Ich zur Wirksamkeit kommen kann. Die Liebe, die dort beschrieben wird, kann sich niemals auf das biologische Ich beziehen, auch nicht auf unser Denkvermögen und Vernunft, nein, diese Liebe ist höher als alle Vernunft.

Auf dem Weg der Einweihung soll einmal das Haupt vom Herzen aus erleuchtet werden, eine neue Verbindung soll entstehen zwischen Herz und Haupt. Dies ist angedeutet in der Ätherisation des Blutes, welches zum Haupt aufsteigt. Umgekehrt beginnt das Herz Gedanken zu haben; du kennst diesen berühmten Ausspruch von Rudolf Steiner. In der Apokalypse wird gesprochen vom Menschensohn, dessen Haupt wie die Sonne leuchtet (das Herz erleuchtet das Haupt) und um die Brust ein goldener Gürtel (das Haupt ist mit dem Herzen verbunden). Dazu kann man natürlich noch viel sagen.

translated version

Here are a few spontaneous reactions. Rudolf Steiner spoke again and again about the "I", but I reproach him for not always speaking with the necessary clarity on this important subject of all things. There are, after all, different aspects of the I and one does not always know which aspect he means. That is why I would like to give my version here.

There are 3 different I's in the human being.

  • First, there is the biological I, which must necessarily be totally egoistic. This biological ego has its seat in the belly, this ego wants to survive in danger, in panic this ego would rather let someone else die than yourself, metabolism, sexuality, instinct belong to this ego. This ego cannot be cultivated either. This ego is born with the human being and dies with the biological human being.
  • Then there is an I in the head, hoofd, which we received from the Elohim in Lemurian times. Rudolf Steiner once described it like this: it sits in the 3rd eye, between the eyebrows, and has the shape and size of an egg and shimmers bluish. This I allows us to think, with the help of this I we can be sensible, direct our lives, plan for the long term and this I can apparently also develop a certain morality. So this I is a gift from the hierarchies, is a creation of the hierarchies.
  • Then there is the Christ I in the heart. Rudolf Steiner also speaks of this. This I is not a creation of the hierarchies, but a gift from the Trinity! This I was brought to us by the Christ, the Son aspect of the Trinity, and so we are now faced with the task of becoming the 10th Hierarchy, and become a Quarternity. Read 1 Cor. 13, there we are told how this hitherto largely inactive Christ I can come into effect. The love that is described there can never refer to the biological I, nor to our ability to think and reason, no, this love is higher than all reason.

On the path of initiation, the head is to be enlightened from the heart, a new connection is to arise between heart and head. This is indicated in the etherisation of the blood, which ascends to the head. Conversely, the heart begins to have thoughts; you know this famous saying of Rudolf Steiner. In the Apocalypse it speaks of the Son of Man whose head shines like the sun (the heart illuminates the head) and around the breast a golden girdle (the head is connected with the heart). Of course, there is much that can be said about this.

Answer [4]

Thanks for this description which reformulates what was already above in Question [1], but I especially like the second part: your third bullet on the Christ I and the last paragraph, and agree to what you write so nicely.

Below I link this to the schemas and explanatory descriptions on this site, because they also contain direct lecture references for other students:

  • The biological I is not a true I but the lower part of our bodily structure, the 'lower self' part that was there before the entry of the I in the Lemurian epoch [see FMC00.137 on Man in the Lemurian epoch, but also - for the 'lower and higher part' - Schema FMC00.181 on Group souls of humanity]. It maps to the lower part of the human astral body [see FMC00.134 on that page] and of course was also part of the infusion of the Spirits of Form into Man's astral body [Schema FMC00.046 on Development of the I]. For me this is the human centaur Man see Schema's FMC00.277 on that page. On could say, from a different angle, it is Man in the Lemurian epoch.
  • As part of this process of individuation of Man's bodily structure by the I and the Spirits of Form, the entry of etheric body into the physical body took place in this particular spot between the eyes. [see 1907-06-04-GA099 and1908-05-27-GA103 on the page Development of the I]. One could say again, this is thinking Man in the Atlantean epoch.
  • For the Christ I, we have to understand Man's higher triad and the fact it is a truly spiritual entity which lies in the worlds above the mental world [see Schema FMC00.128 on that page].

Now "the threefold soul connects to the spiritual I" (see note below), see Schema FMC00.289 on the Human 'I'. This is the important part, and essential for an understanding of Man's transformation and spiritualization. The I works on the lower bodily principles and transforms them into the higher spiritual bodily principles, from the lower spirit to the higher spirit world. Take schemas 128 and 289 together: the cleansed part of the astral body is the causal body - this is now pure spirit and the eternal part that goes through incarnations, our 'book of lives'. This and the other parts are and will be developed by Man.

Schemas FMC00.289A and Schema FMC00.289B on the Human 'I' page were added to support a better understanding of the base scheme Schema FMC00.289. However the latter can only be build in one's soul by studying the lecture references given in the schema.

Interesting is that Steiner explains that there is no evil above the spirit world, it does not exist on the budhi and nirvana planes. Now refer to schema 128 to see that the budhi principle in Man - although in the higher mental world, really has it's origin and seat in the budhi plane. It is 'pure good or pure love'. It maps to the Christ principle in Man.

For another representation (or lecture reference descriptions), see Schema FMC00.164 on Man's higher triad.

Note on "the threefold soul connects to the spiritual I".

With references to Schemas 289 and 128 on Human 'I'.

This formulation of 'connects', or the point ingeneral, can lead to much confusion in writings and books on the topics, because one really needs a clear insight in the rather complex matter.

Man has to be seen holistically as a single entity with a multifold structure, as explained in Man's bodily principles [or see Schema FMC00.055 on Meaning of Free Man Creator for a high level picture]. This means that all the different hierarchies together make up Man's constitution, and the work of Spirits of Form is a section embedded in this whole. Man's structure reaches across the various planes and worlds, as shown on schema 128, but a better way to realize this is to contemplate Schema FMC00.141 (and 142) on Overview Golden Chain.

Man really lives and reaches out into all these worlds and is part of a multidimensional 'woven' by all the various hierarchies with their structural components in all these worlds. This is the complexity of what is contained in FMC00.077A on Creation of solar system, as it links to Schemas 203 and 276 on Overview of solar system evolution.

At this point we can reflect on Friedrich Rittelmeyer's note where he asks himself, at the stage where he was getting to know Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy, why he would have to bother about and know and study Old Saturn if his true deep soul interest is a religious or mystic feeling towards the Christ. The modern spiritual scientific body of knowledge allows us to use our highest current human senses to not only study all the above intellectually, but to integrate it into our soul and use our soul faculties at the level of moulding and seeing imaginations. And this imaginative insight is where we reach a higher level of connection to the Christ in our soul. Then all the complexity of the schemas and lecture references texts disappears and makes place for something far warmer and deeper that cannot and should not be described in human words, because it is of a higher level and will last spiritually into a much further future than our current words and thoughts.

Learnings about process

The question already has a multiplicity from the start:

  • a juxtaposition of three aspects of the human I.
  • And this connects directly to the human physiology (current and future) of the chakras and the heart.
  • And to the contribution of the Christ versus that of the Spirits of Form.

So we have already five to nine aspects to consider.

The answer thread above contains links to 17 topic pages, and so the answer consists of the understanding that can be developed from the various perspectives offered on those pages. It illustrates how any question is really an opportunity for deepening and broadening one's study or quest for understanding. So we can hold the two things against eachother: one the one hand the question, on the other hand the whole that follows from it, whether it is information, insight, process, action. In this case it is limited to information on this page, but referring to this page may trigger a mental process in other people leading to insight, and those thoughts weave and solidify these thought forms in the mental world.

Follow up & additional materials

The two references below discuss the influx of the first divine impulse in the Lemurian epoch, of the descent of what Rudolf Steiner calls there the 'substantive I' (in German: 'Das substantielle Ich') into what he calls the 'hollow I' (in German: 'Hohl-Ich'). To our knowledge these are the only two recorded instances in the GA where Rudolf Steiner uses the term I for describing the lower human bodily structure before the infusion of the actual human I.

Note: 'substantive' was choosen here as the English translation for the German term 'substantielle', from the two English terms available as translation: substantial: concerning the essentials of something; and substantive: having a separate and independent existence. For Hohl-Ich one could alternatively also use 'Cavity-I'.

1907-10-17-GA244 Q&A 142.6

1907-10-21-GA244 Q&A 143.1

That is the I, double in nature really as it us. In what one could call the Hollow-I, the lower bodily nature, the 'substantial I' sank in from above

In this case the 'hollow I' is the 'lower Man', as opposed to the human 'I' that then came as the fourth bodily principle by the sacrifice of the SoF. And the third 'I' is the 'higher Man' or Man's higher triad, the purely spiritual entity beyond time and space in the higher spirit world, that contains the budhi principle 'not I but Christ in me'.