Walking Speaking Thinking

From Anthroposophy

The three faculties or characteristics of Man: Walking, Speaking and Thinking (WST), relate to three evolutionary steps in the development of the fourth principle, the Human 'I'. They are key characteristics that set Man apart from the animal and other kingdoms.        

These characteristics appear in the first years of life, as the child develops; in other words there is a recapitulation in the first seven years of life of what happened with humanity at large in the evolutionary period from the Lemurian epoch and Atlantean epoch upto the current epoch. See also Development of the I for an overview of this development.

Meanwhile a fourth faculty of Memory is developing as a result of the Mystery of Golgotha and the Christ Impulse, this will evolve and develop slowly, from 'Christ in the etheric' and via next sixth cultural age, to come to full blossom in the next Sixth epoch.


  • link between WST and H3 or archai, archangels and angels enabling the faculties of Walking, Speaking and Thinking (1923-05-18-GA226)
  • WST relate to the previous evolutionary stages of Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon and build upon the foundations that were laid then (1923-08-30-GA227 - re also DLNB01p67)
  • walking, speaking, and thinking here on the Earth have their correspondences in the spiritual world : in the orienta­tion among the Hierarchies, in the resounding of the Cosmic Word, and in the inner lighting up of the Cosmic Thoughts. See table FMC00.247.
  • the evolutionary forces of the Spirits of Form (SoF), in the development of the I in Man, enabled the faculties of Walking, Speaking, Thinking; however these were brought into harmony through the Christ impulse in the three pre-MoG interventions of the Christ. See FMC00.246 below.
  • Through the Mystery of Golgotha, a fourth faculty is and will be developing: memory, as in remembrance of previous lives (1914-03-07-GA152)


FMC00.247 compares the faculties of walking, speaking, thinking in incarnate life, with the experiences of Man between death and a new birth


Schema FMC00.245 illustrates how the soul and spirit live in Man's bodily principles and I-organization. How the threefold soul activity and thinking feeling willing relates to the bodily organisms, and our contemporary waking consciousness is just a part of this.

FMC00.246 shows how the evolutionary forces of Spirits of Form (SoF) enabling the faculties of Walking, Speaking, Thinking, were brought into harmony through Christ impulse in the three pre-MoG interventions of the Christ. See also 1914-03-07-GA152 below.


Schema FMC00.092 shows the ongoing development of logical thinking that started in the Atlantean epoch, but also the development of Memory which is to come to full blossoming in the next Sixth epoch (1914-03-07-GA152)


Lecture coverage and references


discusses how the the developments of the I through the influx of the Spirits of Form the faculties, characteristic of the human 'I', were brought into harmony through Christ impulse.

The extract below however goes further and explains how a fourth faculty (after walking speaking thinking) is and will be further developing: memory. This will be developing starting with karmic remembrance as part of Christ in the etheric, from the sixth cultural age into the next Sixth epoch.

And now there is still something more to be said, as we are standing on the ground of Spiritual Science. Later epochs are always being prepared for during those that precede them. And inasmuch as we stand within the fifth Post-Atlantean epoch, inasmuch as we foster Spiritual Science and have continuously more to contribute to the understanding of living thought, of the thinking which is becoming clairvoyant — we have at the same time the sixth Postatlantean cultural age.

Just as the Christ-Impulse now streams into the thoughts of life, so will it stream later into something which is indeed one of the qualities of the human soul but must not be confused with mere thinking. The child develops his capacities out of the unconscious. When he attains to I-consciousness he enters the sphere in which he can acquire, in which he must develop, all that can come to him from outside through the Christ-Impulse. When the child has learnt to walk, when he has learnt to speak, and when with learning to think, he has begun to work through to the I, we can see how the conscious Christ-Impulse, which entered through the Mystery of Golgotha, begins gradually to work upon him. At the present time there is something else among the powers of the human soul which is not yet able to take in the Christ-Impulse. It is possible to introduce the Christ-Impulse into the power of walking upright, and into speaking and thinking; these things are possible because of that which has been done for the civilization of mankind for centuries.

We have now to prepare for the introduction of the Christ-Impulse into a fourth element, a fourth human capacity, if we truly stand on the foundation of Spiritual Science. .. The soul-capacity into which the Christ-Impulse cannot yet be directed, but into which we must prepare to direct it, is the human memory. For in addition to the walking and standing upright, the speaking and thinking, the Christ-Force is now entering the memory.

We can understand the Christ when He speaks to us through the Gospels. But we are only now being prepared as human beings for His entrance also into the thoughts which live in us and which then, as remembered thoughts and ideas, live on further in us. And a time will come for humanity which is now being prepared but which will only be fulfilled in the Sixth epoch when men will look back upon that which they have lived through and experienced, upon that which lives on within them as memory. They will be able to realize that Christ Himself is present in the power of Memory. He will be able to speak through every idea. And if we make concepts and ideas alive within us Christ will be united with our memories, with that which as our memory is so closely and intimately bound up with us.

Man, looking back at his life, will realize that just as he can remember, just as the power of recollection lives within him, so in this recollection there also lives the Christ-Impulse which has streamed into it. The path which is shown to man is to make the words, “Not I, but Christ in me,” more and more true.

And the way will be made smooth through the Christ-Impulse gradually drawing into man's power of memory. The Christ-Impulse is not yet within the memory. When it actually comes, when it lives not only in the understanding of man but is poured out over the whole length and breadth of his memories, he will not have to turn to external documents to learn history, for then his whole power of memory will be extended. Christ will live in this memory. And when Christ has entered into the power of Memory, when Christ lives in that power, man will know that until the Mystery of Golgotha Christ worked outside the Earth; that He prepared for and went through that Mystery, and that He works on further as an Impulse in history. Man will be able to survey this in the same way as he now perceives facts which live in his ordinary life as Memory. He will not be able inwardly to survey the earthly evolution of humanity otherwise than by seeing the Christ-Impulse as the central point. The whole power of Memory will be penetrated, and at the same time strengthened, by the entrance into it of the Christ-Impulse. In time to come, if we grasp Christianity in a living way, the following words will also hold good for us: —

In the Primal Beginning is Memory, And the Memory lives on further, And Divine is the Memory. And the Memory is Life. And this Life is the I of Man, Which streams into Man himself, Not he alone, the Christ in him.

When he remembers the Divine Life, In his Memory is the Christ.

And as the radiant Life of Memory, Christ will pour Light, Into every Darkness of the immediate present.

We shall be able to say that Christ is in our inner soul-life. Many of us will feel it to be so if we learn to unite ourselves with the Christ-Impulse, even as the human child learns to stand upright and to speak because he has united himself with the Christ-Impulse. Looking upon our present faculty of memory as a preparatory stage, many of us also realize that it must fall into disorder in the future unless it has the will to allow itself to be permeated with the Christ-Impulse. Should there be upon the Earth a state of materialism in which the Christ is denied, the power of Memory would fall into disorder. More and more people would appear whose memory was chaotic; who would become duller and duller in their dark I-consciousness if memory were not to shine into this darkness of the I.

Our power of Memory can only develop in the right way if the Christ-Impulse is perceived aright. History will then be a living memory because a true understanding of events has entered the memory; human memory will understand the central point of world-evolution. A perceptive faculty will then arise in man and his ordinary memory, which at present is only directed to one life, will extend over former incarnations. Memory at the present time is in a preparatory stage, but it will be endowed through the Christ. Whether we look without and see how as children we have developed as yet unconsciously, or through an intensive deepening of our soul forces look within to what remains in our memory as our inner being - everywhere we behold the living force and activity of the Christ-Impulse.

The Christ-Event which is now approaching us — not in the physical but in the etheric, and connected with the first kindling of the power of Memory, with the first kindling of the Christ-permeated Memory — will be such that Christ will approach man as an Angel-like Being. For this event we must prepare ourselves.

Spiritual Science is not simply to enrich us with mere theories. It is to pour into us something which will enable us to accept that which meets us in the world, and that which we ourselves are, with new feelings and perceptions. Our life of feeling and perception can be enriched if, through Spiritual Science, we penetrate in the right way into the nature of the Christ-Impulse and its sovereignty in man, in the spiritual being of man. It is well for us to think often on the following: —

In the Primal Beginning was the power of Memory. The power of Memory shall become Divine; And a Divinity shall the power of Memory become. All that arises within the Ego shall become, Something which has arisen, Out of the Christ-permeated, God-permeated Memory.

In it shall be the Life; In it shall be the radiant Light Which, out of the Thinking which remembers, Shines into the Darkness of the present time.

May that Darkness as it is to-day, Comprehend the Light of the Memory which has become Divine!

When we take into our hearts the meaning of such words as these, we take in something which is right for us human beings to receive. Just as the plant forms the seed for the next plant life, so do we learn to perceive and feel within ourselves not only the fruits that come to us from former incarnations, but also how to pass over into our future incarnations. It would go ill with our power of Memory in future incarnations if we were not permeated with the Christ-Impulse. Our Thinking is at yet permeated with the Christ-Impulse in the barest measure, and already this Impulse is approaching our Memory. May we learn, through Spiritual Science, to live not only for the transitory Man who exists between birth and death but for that man who passes through ever-recurring incarnations. Let us learn, through Spiritual Science, what it means for the full development of the individual soul to have the right understanding, the right feeling and perception for the most powerful Impulse in the whole evolution of humanity — the Christ-Impulse.


covers 'Walking, Speaking, and Thinking, and their Correspondences in the Spiritual World'.

The lectures compares faculties in Man's experiences, comparing or mapping the two states of life through which man passes:

  • in the spiritual world between death and a new birth, and
  • in the physical world between birth and death.

[WST and correspondences]

To anyone who observes this process closely, the relation of man to the Universe becomes very clear, above all if atten­tion is directed to three manifestations of human nature to which reference has often been made here and at other places —I mean the three manifestations of human nature by virtue of which man becomes the being that he is on Earth.

When we are born we are quite different from the beings we afterwards become. It is on the Earth that we first learn to walk, to speak, and to think. The will that remains dim between birth and death, and feeling that remains half dim, are already present in a primitive form in the very tiny child. The life of feeling, although it is concerned entirely with the inner functions, is present in the very earliest years of child­hood. The life of will is also present, as is proved by the movements, however chaotic, made by the little child. The reason why the life of feeling and the life of will become different at a later stage of existence is that thinking grad­ually begins to permeate feeling and will, making them more mature. Nevertheless they are already present in the tiny child.

Thinking, on the other hand, is developed by the child only on Earth, in association with other human beings and in a certain sense under their instruction. And it is the same with the faculties of walking and speaking, which in reality are acquired before the faculty of thinking.

Anyone who has a sufficiently deep feeling for what is truly human will realize, simply by observing how the child develops through walking, speaking, and thinking, what a tremendously important part is played by these three faculties in the earthly evolution of man.

But man is not only an earthly being; he is a being who belongs not only to the Earth with its forces and substances, but equally to the spiritual world; he is involved in the activities proceeding between the several Beings of the Higher Hierarchies. It is, so to speak, only with a part of his being that man belongs to earthly existence ; with the other part he belongs to a world that is not the material world perceptible to the senses. It is in that other world that he prepares his spirit-seed. Let it never be imagined that man's achievements in culture and civilization on the Earth, however complex and splendid they may be, are at all comparable with the greatness of what is achieved by him together with the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies in order to build this wonder-structure of the human physical organism. Nevertheless, what is thus fash­ioned—first of all in the spiritual world and, as I explained, sent down to the Earth before the man himself descends- is differently constituted from the being who is afterwards present here on Earth between birth and death.

The spirit-seed of his physical body built up by man in the spiritual world is imbued with forces. Its whole structure which afterwards unites with the physical seed—or rather, which becomes the physical seed of the human being by tak­ing substances from the parents—is endowed with all kinds of qualities and faculties. But there are three faculties for which the spirit-seed receives no forces at all in the spiritual world. These three faculties are : thinking, speaking, and walking—which are essentially activities of man on the Earth.

  • Let us take walking, and everything that is related to it. I might describe it as the process whereby man orientates him­self within the sphere of his physical existence on Earth. When I move my arm or my hand, that too is related to the mechanism of walking, and when a tiny child begins to raise itself upright, that is an act of orientation. All this is con­nected with what we call the Earth's force of gravity, with the fact that everything physical on the Earth has weight. But we cannot say of the spirit-seed that is built up between death and a new birth that it has weight or heaviness.—Walking, then, is connected with the force of gravity. It is, in fact, an overcoming of gravity, an act through which we place ourselves into the field of gravity. That is what happens every time we lift a leg to take a step forward. But we do not acquire this faculty until we are already here on Earth; it is not present between death and a new birth although there is something that corresponds to it in that world. There too we have orientation but it is not orientation within the field of gravity, for in the spiritual world there is no force of gravity, no weight. Orientation in that world is of a purely spiritual character. Here on the Earth we lift our legs to walk, we place ourselves in the field of gravity. The corresponding process in the spiritual world is that of becoming related to some Being of the Higher Hierarchies, belonging, let us say, to the rank of Angel or Archangel. A man feels himself inwardly near in soul to the influence of a Being, say, of the Hierarchy of the Angels, or of the Exusiai, with whom he is then working. This is how he finds his orientation in the life between death and a new birth. Just as here on the Earth we have to deal with our weight, in yonder world we have to deal with what proceeds from the several Beings of the higher Hierarchies by way of forces of sympathy with our own human individuality. The force of gravity has a single direction—towards the Earth; but what corresponds to the force of gravity in the spiritual world has all directions, for the spiritual Beings of the Hierarchies are not centralized, they are everywhere. The orientation is not geometrical like the orientation of gravity, towards the center of the Earth, but it goes in all directions. According to whether man has to build up his lung or perform some other work together with the Beings of the Hierarchies, he can say to himself : The Third Hier­archy is attracting me, or the First Hierarchy is attracting me. He feels himself placed into the whole world of the Hier­archies. He feels himself, as it were, drawn to all sides, not physically, as through the pull of gravity, but spiritually, or also, in some cases, repelled. This is what corresponds in the spiritual world to physical orientation within the sphere of gravity on the Earth.
  • Here, on the Earth, we learn to speak. This again belongs to our inherent nature, but within the spiritual world between death and a new birth we cannot speak ; the physical organs needed for speech are not there. In the spiritual world be­tween death and a new birth, we have, however, the follow­ing experience.—We feel ourselves in rhythmically alternating conditions ; at one moment we have contracted, as it were, into our own being; our higher consciousness also con­tracts. Between death and a new birth there are times when we shut ourselves within ourselves, just as we do while we are asleep on Earth. But then we open ourselves again. Just as on the physical Earth we direct our eyes and other senses out towards the Universe, so in that other world we direct our spiritual organs of perception outwards to the Beings of the Hierarchies. We let our being stream out, as it were, into the far spaces, and then draw it together again.
    It is a spiritual breathing process, but its course is such that if we were to describe in earthly words, in pictures de­rived from earthly life, what man says to himself there in the spiritual world, we should have to speak somewhat as follows : I, as a human being in the spiritual world, have this or that to do. I know this through the powers of perception I have in the spiritual world between death and a new birth. I feel myself to be this human being, this individuality. As I breathe out on Earth, so do I pour myself out in soul into the Universe and become one with the Cosmos. As I breathe in on Earth, so do I receive back into myself what I ex­perienced while my being was poured out into the Cosmos. This is constantly taking place between death and a new birth. Let us think of a man feeling himself enclosed within his own being and then as though expanded into the cosmos. At one moment he is concentrated in himself and then has ex­panded into the Universe. When he draws into himself again it is just as when we breathe in the air from the physical spaces of the Universe.
  • Now when we have poured our being over the Cosmos and draw it in again, it begins—I cannot express it otherwise—it begins to tell us what it was that we embraced when our being was outspread as it were, in the cosmic expanse. When we draw our being together again it begins to tell us what it is in reality, and we then say, between death and a new birth : The Logos in whom we first immersed ourselves—the Logos is speaking within us. Here on the Earth we have the feeling that in our physical speech we shape the words when we exhale. Between death and a new birth we become aware that the words which are outspread in the Universe and reveal its essential nature, enter into us when our being is inbreathed and manifest them­selves within us as the Cosmic Word. Here on Earth we speak as we breathe out ; in the spiritual world we speak as we breathe in. And as we unite with our own being what the Logos—the Cosmic Word—says to us, the Cosmic Thoughts light up within our being. Here on Earth we make efforts through our nervous system to harbor earthly thoughts. In the spiritual world we draw into ourselves the Cosmic Thoughts out of the Cosmic Speech of the Logos when our being has been spread over the Universe.

Now try to form a vivid conception of the following. Sup­pose that you say to yourself between death and a new birth :

I have this or that to do . . . all that you have experienced hitherto makes you aware that you have this or that task to perform. Then, with the intention of performing it, you spread your being into the Universe ; but the process of ex­pansion is actually one of orientation.

When you say to yourself here on Earth that you must buy some butter . . . that too signifies an intention. You set out for Basle to buy your butter there, and bring it home with you. Between death and a new birth you also have inten­tions—in connection, of course, with what has to be achieved in that other world. Then you expand your being; this is done with the intention of acquiring orientation—it may be that you are drawn to an Angel or perhaps to a Being of Will, or to some other Being. Such a Being unites with your own expanded being. You breathe in; this Being com­municates to you its participation in the Logos and the Cosmic Thoughts connected with this Being light up within you.

When the spirit-seed of man comes down to the Earth (as I have said, he himself remains a little while longer in the spiritual world), he is not organized for thinking or speaking in the earthly sense, nor for walking in the earthly sense, when gravity is involved; but he is organized for movement and for orientation among the Beings of the Higher Hier­archies. He is not organized for speaking but for enabling the Logos to resound within him. He is not organized for the shadowy thoughts of earthly life, but for the thoughts that become radiant in him, within the Cosmos.

[Transformation of WST from spiritual world during descent before birth]

Walking, speaking, and thinking here on the Earth have their correspondences in the spiritual world : in the orienta­tion among the Hierarchies, in the resounding of the Cosmic Word, and in the inner lighting up of the Cosmic Thoughts.

Picture vividly to yourselves how man goes out after death into the wide space of the Cosmos.

  • He passes through the planetary spheres around the Earth. I have spoken of these things in recent lectures here. He passes the Moon-sphere, the Venus-sphere, the Mercury-sphere, the Jupiter-sphere, the Saturn-sphere.
  • Having passed right out into the Cosmos he will see the stars always from the other side. You must pic­ture the Earth and the stars around it. From the Earth we look up to the stars ; but when we are in the Cosmos we look from outside inwards.

The forces that enable us here on Earth to see the stars, give us the physical image of the stars. The forces that enable us to see the stars from the other side, do not allow them to appear to us as they do here, but from that other world the stars appear to us as spiritual Beings.


The forming of destiny in sleeping and waking / WST


While we get accustomed to earth-life after our birth, we live in a sort of sleep and dream state. If we, disregarding our dreams, look back in the morning, after being awake for an hour, to the moment of awaking, our consciousness is halted abruptly and we see behind us the darkness of slumber. It is similar when we look back into our childhood. In our fourth or the fifth year, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, our consciousness comes to a stop. Beyond the last stage that we can still remember lies something which is as deeply immersed in the darkness of the sleep and dream life of early childhood as is the life of the human soul immersed every night in the darkness of sleep. Yet the child is not wholly asleep, but is wrapt in a sort of waking dream. During this waking dream occur the three important phases of human life which I indicated yesterday. As they occur in the sequence characterized by me, we can see in them echoes and after-effects of the life between death and a new birth. First the child learns, out of a life wrapt in dream and sleep, what we call simply learning how to walk.

Something all-encompassing happens when a child learns how to walk, something which appears as a grandiose and overwhelming process to anyone able to perceive how the subtlest parts of the human body are changed at this time. The child, by adapting himself to the relationships of gravity, learns how to attain equilibrium. The child no longer falls down. By unfolding inner forces, he conforms to spatial directions.

What if we had to do all this consciously: overcome the lack of equilibrium that pulled us to the ground, adapt our organism to a firm state of equilibrium with regard to the three spatial directions, and even maintain this state of equilibrium by swinging our legs like pendulums as we learn how to walk? The child, in performing such a grandiose mechanical task, performs it as an echo of what he experienced while dwelling among spirits between death and a new birth. Here we encounter something so comprehensive, so marvelous, that the most eminent engineer, with all his earthly scientific equipment, could not calculate how the child's human forces adapt themselves to the world's spatial connections. What we, as a child, attain unconsciously is the most miraculous unfolding of mathematical-mechanical, physical forces. We call it simply learning how to walk. Yet in this learning how to walk lies an element of utmost grandeur.

Simultaneously, the correct use of arms and hands is attained. And by placing himself, as physical being, within the three spatial directions, the human being receives the foundation for all that is called learning how to talk.

The only thing known to physiology about the connection between man's dynamics of walking and standing and the faculty of speech is the fact that the speech-center of right-handed persons lies in the left portion of the brain. The gestures of the right hand, vigorously executed by means of man's willpower, are led, by some mysterious process, into the interior of the brain whence the faculty of speech is brought to the human being.

More, however, exists than this connection between the right hand and the third convolution at the left, the so-called Broca cerebral convolution. The whole mobility of arms and fingers; the human being's whole ability to move and maintain equilibrium reaches up into the brain, becomes part of the brain, and thence reaches down into the larynx. Language develops out of walking, out of the grasping of objects, out of gestures flowing from the organs of movement.

Anyone viewing these things correctly will know that a child with the tendency to walk on his toes speaks differently from a child walking on his heels; employs different shadings of sound. The organism of speaking develops from the organism of walking and moving. And speech is again a counterpart of that which I described yesterday as the outpouring of revelation upon the human being passing through the stage between death and a new birth. The child, when learning how to speak, does not grasp the words with his thoughts, but alone with his emotions. He lives in the language as if it were an emotional element; and a child of normal development learns conceptual thinking only after acquiring the faculty of speech. A child's thoughts actually develop out of the words. Just as walking and the grasping of objects, the gestures of legs and hands, reach up into the speech organism, so all that lives in the speech organism and is gained through adaptation to the language of the surrounding world, reaches up into the thought-organs. In the third stage, the child learns how to think.

While encompassed by this dream and sleep state, the child passes through three stages: walking, speaking, and thinking. These are the three terrestrial counterparts of that which we experienced between death and a new birth: living contact with the spiritual world, revelation of the spiritual world, and the gathering of the world ether in order to form our etheric body.

[Link with Third Hierarchy H3]

  • The child's development during these three stages can be correctly estimated only by someone observing the adult human being during his sleep. Here we can observe how we, when sleep puts a stop to our thoughts — for our thoughts are silenced by sleep — let our thought-forces be nurtured, between falling asleep and awaking, by those beings known to us as angels, as Angeloi. These beings, approaching us during sleep, nurture our thought-forces while we cannot do so ourselves.
  • During sleep, the human being also ceases to talk. Only in abnormal cases, which could be explained, does he talk in his sleep. At present, however, we may disregard these things. The normal human being ceases to talk after going to sleep. Would it not be altogether too dreadful, did people keep on chattering while asleep? Hence speech ceases at that time. And what makes us speak is nurtured during the time between falling asleep and awaking by beings belonging to the hierarchy of the Archangeloi.
  • If we disregard the sleep-walker, who is also in an abnormal condition, human beings are quiet while asleep. They do not walk, they grasp no objects, they do not move. That which pertains to man's waking life as forces which call forth the movements out of his will is nurtured, between going to sleep and awaking, by beings belonging to the hierarchy of the Archai.

By comprehending the manner in which the hierarchical beings above the human kingdom — Angels, Archangels, Archai — approach the I and astral body, approach the entire human being during sleep, we can also understand how the little child masters the three activities of walking, speaking, and thinking.

  • We recognize how it is the work of the Archai that brings to the little child, as he masters the dynamics of life, as he masters the faculty of walking and handling objects, what the human being has experienced, between death and a new birth, by coming into contact with spirit and soul beings. Now, the counterpart of these experiences comes forth with the learning to walk of the little child. It is the Archai, the primeval powers, who transmit to the child that learns how to walk the counterpart of all the spiritual movements emanating, between death and a new birth, from spirit and soul beings.
  • And it is the Archangels that transmit what the human being experiences, between death and a new birth, by means of revelation; they are at work when the child masters speech.
  • And the Angels carry down the forces developed by the human being when, out of the whole world ether, he gathered the substance for his etheric body. The angels, bringing down these forces, mold their counterparts within the thought-organs, which are plastically formed in order that the child may learn thinking by means of language.

You must keep in mind that Anthroposophy does more than look at the physical world and say: It is based on something spiritual. This would be much too easy. By such a way of thinking, we could acquire no real conception of the spiritual world. Someone who is determined to repeat in philosophic terms that the physical world rests on a spiritual foundation, would be like a man who when walking across a meadow is told by his companion: Look, this flower is a dandelion, these are daisies, and so forth. The first man, however, might reply: Indeed, I am not interested in these names. Here I see flowers, just flowers in the abstract. Such a person would be like a philosopher who recognizes only the pantheistic-spiritual element, but refuses to discuss the concrete facts, the particular formations of the spiritual.

What we are given by Anthroposophy shows us how the divine spiritual dwells everywhere in life's single formations. We look at the way in which the child passes from the clumsy stage of crawling to that of walking. Looking in admiration and reverence at this grandiose world phenomenon, we see in it the work of the Archai, who are active when the experiences we undergo between death and a new birth are transformed into their earthly shape.

We follow the process through which

  •  the child produces speech out of his inner self; we follow the activity of the Archangels; and,
  • when the child begins to think, the activity of the Angels.


At this time, however, three activities begin that involve learning for children. There is the process that we ordinarily reduce to the ex­pression learning to walk, then learning to speak, and learning to think.


[W=experience in spiritworld, S=manifestation in spiritworld, T=activity in forming etherbody]

Now you have the three succeeding states.

  • There is the experience in the spirit world seen in learning to walk.
  • There is manifestation of the spiritual world seen in learning to speak. (For this reason, the aspect of Cosmic Word behind speech is called “Cosmic Logos,” the inner World. It is the manifestation of the uni­versal Logos, in which the spiritual expresses itself, as do the gnats in the swarm ‘of gnats; it underlies speech.).
  • And then, there is our activity in forming our ether body, which actually thinks in us; we think the whole night through, but we are absent with our I being and astral body. This is the last part that we gather for ourselves before descending to earth, and that activity extends into our thinking.

Thus, as they learn to walk, speak, and think, infants organize into the physical body what they bring from the pre-earthly existence.


Education: Lecture VI: Walking, Speaking, Thinking


Let us take first three particularly significant impulses in the earthly life of human beings. If one looks quite simply, with ordinary consciousness, at the wonders revealed in the progressive development of the human being from the first days of his life, we can at least gain some idea, some feeling, of the tremendous depths out of which the soul and spirit struggle during those first days and weeks in order to give an increasingly definite form to much that in the infant is still formless; and then gradually to bring under control the chaotic movements of arms and legs. We come to feel that we are being shown how a spiritual activity, present in the endless depths of the hidden life of nature, is expressing itself in the human body. And we can say: There is nothing on Earth so wonderful to watch as the unfolding of the inner human being within the outer, during the development of a child in the very first years of its life. If we know how to watch this with true artistic-religious insight, then all that can be seen there, and the humility we can feel in face of this revelation of the spiritual, surpass all other artistic, scientific or religious impressions that can be received from the outer world.

But let us single out three things in the development of a child.

  • In ordinary life we say: The child is learning to walk. In fact, this is something wonderful. In this learning to walk an extraordinary amount of movement is involved. All the limbs are called into play when, in order to stand erect, the child raises itself out of the position where its spine is parallel with the surface of the Earth. We take this for granted as something obvious, but it marks the moment in the child's life when it is learning to give all its forces a different, orientation on Earth, and, with the help of the symmetry of those forces and its own inner balance, is learning to establish itself within the Cosmos as a whole. At the same time, we are really watching how a human being is growing out of the animal world. For this is a moment that an animal can never experience. It remains essentially with its spine parallel to the Earth; for if it pulls itself upright, as the ape does, this is contrary to its natural organisation. If we are to form a true conception of man, we must be able to see in the right light this learning to walk on the part of the child. Scientists have compared the bones of the human being with those of the animal, and have found them to be animal bones transformed, and men's muscles to be animal muscles transformed — and so on. Let this be so with every organ; the difference between man and animal will still not be found in this way. The difference can be seen only when we grasp how, in the moment of standing erect, a human being is freeing himself from his connection with the animal at the beginning of his life, and establishing his balance in the whole world. Never during his life would he have been able to acquire the skill for doing this had it not been prepared in the most remote days; the seed for it was already within the being of man during the Old Saturn-existence. Divine Spirits then laid down the seed of the skill that comes to light when the child learns, as we say, to walk. There were no animals then, for they came later, during the Sun-evolution. Hence the human being, as originally planned, is older than the animals. All that lies in these invisible forces that enable man to walk leads us back to his origin during the Saturn-existence.
  • The second faculty arising in the child comes from his new orientation in space; this causes the forces to turn inwards and to appear in a different way. For instance, I take up a piece of chalk; a force comes in an inward direction, discharging itself in the internal organs. This inward-turning force, coming through the limbs from the direction of movement, makes its appearance in the child's development when it learns to speak. First, when the child finds its bearings in space, the forces take an outward direction; the same forces then turn inwards and the child learns to speak. Science knows only a small part of all this. It knows that a right-handed person has his speech-centre in the left half of the brain, and a left-handed person has it in the right half. Everything in the brain that has to do with the development of speech, however, is first worked into it by the limbs when the child learns to walk, to grasp things, to move around and turn its attention to objects. This springs from the inwardly directed forces, which then go out from the brain into the organs of speech. Here, again, divine-spiritual Beings have been preparing the human organism through countless ages, so that the child should be able to speak. Those divine Beings, who during the Saturn period prepared the human being for walking, then worked during the Old Sun period to bring about his capacity for speech.
  • The third gift developed by the child, and by all mankind, through speech — for it could not come before speaking in earthly evolution — was the power to have thoughts. This was prepared by the divine-spiritual Beings during the OId Moon stage. That is how human evolution took its course in the past ages of the world; generations of spiritual Beings have prepared for man his walking, speaking, thinking — through Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon planetary stages of evolution.

In the evolution of the world during the Old Sun age, animals made their appearance — naturally in a form different from that of to-day. They now have to feed on plants, which at that time they had no need to do, for then they were creatures of the air and consisted of airy substance. It was during the Old Moon-existence that the plants were added.

Then evolution passed over to Earth-existence, when the human being first developed a visible bodily form in which the forces of walking, speaking and thinking could dwell. At the same time the mineral kingdom arose and became an essential part of his organism. In this way man's past can be described.

If we wish to look at man's future, in the light of present-day conditions on Earth, we must start from his old age, which means describing something that is not at all apparent to-day. When a child begins to walk, speak, think, external signs of this are clear enough, but how the spiritual part of man is intensified in old age is far from evident to anyone without spiritual vision. I spoke of the most wonderful experience of watching the gradual revelation of soul and spirit in the growing body of a young child, and of how, if one sees it in the right way, one can be overwhelmed by the deepest religious feeling in face of all the meaning that this artistic process conveys. But it is also wonderful to see how all that a man has experienced through walking, speaking and thinking during his earthly life disappears into the spiritual. And then to see how his thoughts and words, everything he has worked and struggled for with his hands, is carried back into the life of the spirit when he passes through the gate of death. Just as that which comes to expression in the child's walking, speaking, thinking, points us back to previous stages in the Earth's evolution, to the evolution of Old Moon, of Old Sun, of Old Saturn, so does all that a man has experienced in his thoughts point us first of all to his next earthly life, and then to the great periods in the future evolution of the Earth.

[Future faculties]

  • So it is that the thoughts of men point towards the Future Jupiter stage in the evolution of the world and of man — a stage that can be reached only when the Earth has passed through death and risen to a new planetary existence. For thoughts will not then live in us in their present fluctuating way; they will take definite shape and appear in the very form of man. Today we are able to keep our thoughts to ourselves, and on certain occasions our countenance can appear perfectly innocent, although we are inwardly guilty. We shall not be able to do this during the Future Jupiter-existence. A man's thoughts will then engender the expression of his face. The human form will have lost its mineralised firmness; it will be inwardly flexible and will consist of a quite soft substance. A wrong thought rising up in us will instantly show itself to other people through a change in our expression. Everything in the nature of a thought will at once take shape; a man will then go about in the guise of his own enduring thoughts and temperament. Hence if, during the Future Jupiter-existence, a man is a regular scoundrel, or has only animal impulses, that is what he will look like. That is the first stage in man's future.
  • The second stage will exemplify the creative power of speech. Today speech arises inwardly and is sent out only into the air. In the future, the spoken word will not fade away into the air but will continue to exist, and with it a man will create actual forms. So that in the Future Jupiter age he will have power to shape himself by his thoughts; in the Future Venus-existence he will give form to the world around him. If during the Future Venus-existence — when all substance will be as fine as air — he utters an evil word, something like a repulsive plant-form will come into being. Hence a man will be surrounded by the creations of his own speech. During the Future Venus existence creative feelings will arise, creative speech, and the feelings that create through the word.
  • During the last metamorphosis of the Earth, the Future Vulcan-existence, the activities expressed in our walking and the movements of our arms will develop further. To-day we go to our work and use our arms to carry out actions, but nothing of that is lasting. I go to some place; I have something or other to do. It may of course be something quite complicated — possibly even the waging of war. Then we go away again, and in the outer world none of our actions remain. During the Vulcan-existence, everything will remain. A man will not simply go about and perform actions; everything he does will leave its imprint on the Vulcan-existence. His deeds will be actualised, will become realities.

You see how the Earth-existence makes a radical incision between past and future in the evolution of the world and of man. Everything up to the time of the Earth was brought about by divine generations of the spirit; that which is to follow will be brought about by man himself. That is how freedom enters his life within the cosmos. He is placed into the world by the Gods, and given his free existence. From the Gods he has acquired his capacity for walking, speaking, thinking — even his form; but for the future evolution of the world he will have to bring into this walking, speaking and thinking what he himself is. He is now about to live himself out of the past into the future. Part of the past, it is true, lies in his own karma; part of the future lies in what he is willing to do for his own karma in the future. At present he is serving a kind of apprenticeship between past and future.


Supersensi​ble Man: Lecture V


Walking upright – the forces of radiating metals in earth working upon the child

The matter may be presented thus. In the earth down below you have the various metals, but these metals exist also in a finely-divided state everywhere above. I might say that these metals vapourize. Down below in the earth we have the metals with their sharp contours, with their rigid forms, and still further down they would certainly be in a fiery fluid condition. But in the environment of the earth they exist in this finely-divided state; there they reveal themselves in continual radiations so that a constant radiation goes out into the cosmos. The metals ray forth into space; but there is a certain elasticity in this cosmic space, and the forces which go forth in this way do not radiate without limit into space as the physicists imagine to be the case with light rays. They proceed to a certain boundary and then return. One can observe this radiating back of the metals returning in all directions from the periphery of the cosmos as if they came from everywhere. One notices that these back-raying forces are active in that sphere of human life which is really the most wonderful and beautiful, that is, when, in the first years of its life a child learns to walk, speak, and think. The way in which a child raises itself from the crawling position to get its bearings in the world is really the most wonderful thing we can observe in earthly life — this realization of itself as a human being. Inwardly, in these forces which I have so often described work the backward-raying forces of the metals. While the child learns to raise itself upright from its horizontal crawling position it is permeated by these metallic forces which are being reflected back. It is these forces which really raise the child up. If one can inwardly perceive and understand this connection, then at the same time one has another experience. One learns in his actions and in his being the connection of man as he lives here on the earth with his former earth lives.


Influence of archangelic folk soul


on the Human senses explains how the archangels permeate the human being with their etheric bodies, and enable Man to hear sounds together with its meaning.

As a still higher sense, the ninth, we mentioned the sense of speech, the word sense, the sound sense. To the functioning of this sense the human being can again contribute nothing by himself, can produce nothing. He has nothing to give, hence he must be entered and helped by beings of a substance similar in its nature to that of the human etheric body. These beings possess the corresponding astral substance as well, but this is forced out into the surrounding world during the process in question. They are the archangels, who permeate the human being with their etheric bodies, which he can then pour out into his surroundings. The archangels play a far more important role than the angels. They enable man to hear a sound. They are in man. They enable him not only to hear a tone but to perceive a sound, like “ah,” together with its meaning. Thus we can experience the inner nature of a sound we hear. These beings are at the same time the spirits of the several folk individualities, the folk spirits.

  • In the sense of hearing the angels give outer expression to their activity through the medium of the air. They work with the air in the ears, and this results in external activity of the air.
  • The archangels, on the other hand, produce activity in the lymphatic fluids, as in a watery substance. They guide the circulation of these fluids in a certain direction, enabling us to perceive, for example, the sound “ah” in its full significance. The outer expression of this work is the forming of folk physiognomies, the creation of the particular expression of the human organism as related to a certain people. From all this we can infer that the lymphatic fluids in man flow in a different manner, that the whole organism makes a different impression, according to the way in which the archangels of the people in question have imparted a certain sense of sound by means of the lymphatic current.

When a people designates the I with the word Adam (irrespective of the theories it holds regarding the human I), the Folk Spirit speaks through the two a's that succeed each other in consecutive syllables. A certain basic organization results. A member of that people must feel the nature of the I to be such as corresponds to the two a's, to “Adam.” The consequences are different when a people expresses the I with the word “ich.” [note on translation] Such a people must have a different conception of the I. A different feeling results when, in place of the two a's, the sounds “i” and “ch” are linked. A certain nuance, a certain color, is inherent in the “i,” suggesting what the Folk Spirit infuses into the individual organism in connection with the conception of the ego.

Through the sequence a-o something different is infused into a people than through the sequence i-e. The words amor and Liebe are very different things. When the Folk Spirit says amor we have one shade of feeling, and quite a different one when he says Liebe. Here we see the Folk Spirit at work, and we also see why the differentiation of sounds came into being. It is by no means immaterial, for example, that the word “Adam” was used in old Hebrew to denote the first human form, but by the ancient Persians to designate the I. The fact shows that quite different feelings and quite definite trends of these feelings are expressed in this way.

Here we have the first hint of the mystery of speech, or rather, of its first elements. What is involved is the activity of spirits of the order of archangels, who penetrate man with the sense of sound and vibrate in his whole watery substance. One of the greatest experiences vouchsafed him who ascends to higher cognition occurs when he begins to feel the difference between the various sounds in relation to their creative force. Tone force manifests its pre-eminent activity in the air, sound force only in the watery element.

Here is another example. When you designate some being with the word Eva, and then wish to express something more, something that is related to this word as the spiritual is to the material, you can apply the reflected image, Ave. This sequence of syllables by which the Virgin is addressed actually affects in the human organism the exact opposite of the word Eva. Here we also find the reason for another variant of E-v-a; place a j before Ave, and you have Jave. When progressing to higher cognition, penetrating the secret of sound, you can learn to know all the connections between Jave and Eva. You will know what a higher being of the order of archangel has inspired in man. The truth concerning the nature of speech is that it is based upon a real sense, the sense of sound.

Speech did not arise arbitrarily. It is a spiritual product, and in order to perceive it in its spiritual aspect we have the sense of sound, which in a systematic enumeration of the senses is exactly as justified as the others. There are still deeper reasons why the senses must be listed in just this manner. In the next lecture we will ascend to the sense of concept and the higher senses in order to understand the microcosm anthroposophically.


Note that Rudolf Steiner also described that careful observation of how Man walks provides insight into a person's deeper nature and true 'I'. There is an anecdote in Rittelmeyer's 'Rudolf Steiner enters my life' to that respect, that RS was observing Rittelmeyer's walk as he came up the stairs. See also the Karmic Relationship lectures.

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References and further reading