Q00.007 - How to understand 'the ether body draws out of the cosmic I'

From Anthroposophy

Question

This is more and more on my mind since I have never heard Steiner speak this way, as he does in the mysterious way when discussing the etheric body in the last lecture of the Gospel of John, Hamburg series, 1908-05-31-GA103:

In the following passage, the etheric almost has the nature of the 'I', which still baffles.

"What actually occurs is that the astral body imprints its organs upon the ether body, making it possible for the human being to perceive a spiritual world about him; making it possible for his inner being, the astral body, to receive what the ether body is able to offer to it, what the ether body draws out of the entire cosmos, out of the cosmic I."

I mean, wow. Here there is almost an I-like aspect to the etheric. This results in the purified astral body (virgin Sophia) in being "surrounded by light, by spiritual light" and this was called, and is still called today, "The Holy Spirit."

How does the etheric body draw from the cosmic I? Why wouldn't I draw from I so to speak? The Holy Spirit comments are even more complicated since Steiner characterizes the Holy Spirit in vastly different ways over the years - amazingly so even - but I thought to include it for completion.

The question is, then: 'How is the etheric body related to the cosmic 'I'?

Answer

Have you read the 1914-10-04/5/6-GA156?

" I have. And?"

The I-organization and threefold soul does take hold of the lower bodily principles, and each of these bodily principles also evolved, and this evolution caused a shift in initiatory practices.

Man’s I-consciousness today is through the I-organization in the lower bodies (sentient, intellectual and consciousness soul in astral, etheric and physical body), using the physical senses to experience the mineral-material ahrimanic imaginations (maya), and the physical body and its nervous system as a reflector.

The quote you mention talks about the consciousness soul (Virgin Sophia) as the gateway which leads, through purification of Man’s astral body, to the spirit self (Holy Spirit).

The lectures referenced above explain the faculty of incarnate clairvoyance whereby the astral senses (imagination, astral world) are used for inner reading of the cosmic wisdom of the solar system, using our own etheric and physical bodies as a reflector of the spiritual reality.

This in response to your question: ‘How does the etheric body draw from the cosmic I? ‘

This cosmic wisdom of the solar system is the macroscopic I of Christ, see also the link with Pentecost.

Between death and a new birth Man this connection with the spiritual world works differently, but during incarnation Man uses his etheric body as a gateway to read the cosmic knowledge of the lower mental world.

If not clear I can write up a longer explanation with more references, because Rudolf Steiner did come back on this theme of your question on very many occasions, and it is a very important question, but I appreciate it’s not obvious to lay the puzzle or explain in a few sentences.