This page contains some of my metaphysical musings on the elvolution consciousness...
It is a fact that consciousness is universal throughout nature, and developed consciousness is found in all organisms with a developed nervous system.
It is useless to argue this position one or the other, because the rational
mind unaided can never attain to the Truth. Rather I present this
statement as a self-evident fact which one can accept or reject, according
to one's own opinions.
Astral Body Astral Body
Etheric Body Etheric Body Etheric Body
Physical body Physical body Physical body Physical body
Mineral Plant Animal Human
("Coma") (Deep sleep) (Dream) (Waking)Thus, in this simplistic theory, the Mineral has a physical body alone, the Plant a physical and an etheric body, and so on. Notice that only man is considered to have an "Ego" (Steiner means by this term soul or self-consciousness). Here we see Steiner's prejudice; in spite of his evolutionary and theosophical ideas he was unable to break free of his conservative Chistian roots. Yet although his theory is a very simplistic way of looking at things, it is in agreement with the paradigm that evolution involves the incorporation of progressively more and greater psychic faculties as well.
The following table lists some of Steiner's correspondences:
(note: I would put "Mental body" here)
(I would put "Emotional body" here)
[Cosmic love and individuation]
|Will||Limbs||Deep Sleep||Physical body||"Ahriman"
This table is only partially compatable with the preceeding diagram.
Inconsistences such as these are common in Steiner's teachings. Nevertheless
there is the interesting correspondence of somatic elements with elements
Another obvious parallel is with evolutionary-neurological theory of Paul MacLean. MacLean divided the brain into three layers: "reptilian brain" (or Brainstem), tied up with instincts and ritualistic activity, hence "Will"; Limbic system, the old mammalian brain, which pertains to emotional responses, hence, "Feeling"; and the Neocortex, the part of the brain concerned with thought.
Again, Steiner's three-fold psychology can be identified with the theosophical-occult idea of "subtle bodies", especially the Astral, Emotional, and Mental.
Although these various principles may not always match up, the correlation is still fairly close. So we have the following synthesis:
The MacLean three-brain system is the manifestation of this on the physical level, and, I would suggest, the Jungian ego-functions the manifestation of this on the mental level.Steiner Jung MacLean TheosophyThought Thinking Neocortex Mental bodyFeeling Feeling Limbic system Emotional bodyWilling -- Brainstem Etheric body-- Sensation -- Physical body
M e n t a l B o d y
Willing -- Feeling -- THINKING
E m o t i o n a l B o d y
Willing -- FEELING -- Thinking
E t h e r i c B o d y
WILLING -- Feeling -- Thinking
P h y s i c a l B o d y
Willing -- Feeling -- Thinking
Reptilian Limbic Neocortex
Each of the subtle bodies - although not possessing a specific physical location, would func-tion primarily through a particular part of the brain and the body as a whole.
So the Mental body or individualised thoughts and intellect of an individual manifest primarily through the neocortex, and also through the nervous system as a whole. The neocortex or "grey matter" is the physical "receiver" and expres-sor of thought, whilst the thought-stuff itself flows around the head in a sort of halo, as represented for example in drawings of saints and in Aboriginal cave paintings.
The Emotional body express itself through the Limbic System of the brain, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, the Endocrine glands, and perhaps also the internal organs in general (the "gut feeling", the "heart", and so on).
And the Etheric body, with its much more primitive level of consciousness, could be tied in with the ritualistic, instinctive, "old brain" or Reptian "brainstem" functioning, .
This can be shown as follows:
M e n t a l W o r l d
E m o t i o n a l W o r l d |
Emotional Body---------------------| |
E t h e r i c | W o r l d |
Etheric Body-------------| | |
physical Psyche: Instincts Emotions Intellect
Brain stratum "Reptilian" Limbic NeocortexOn the left-hand side of the chart are the various gross and subtle bodies. These higher principles, although originating from the substance of their own higher (less material) worlds, are grounded in the physical body and the three-fold physical brain, and function at the physical level to produce "physical consciousness".
And since the brain itself has evolved through time, with certain parts appearing earlier in the evolutionary record than others, this indicates that the various subtle bodies which express themselves through those brain levels also appeared consecu-tively in the evolutionary sequence.
It can be assumed that there would have occured a kind of feedback between the physical and the non-physical. So for example the pressure of the Emotional body caused the expansion of the Limbic system; the pressure of the Mental body the expansion of the neocortex. The growth of the Limbic system then generated impetus for the increase of the Emotional body ; the growth of the neocortex for the expansion of the Mental body.
So we can assume then that a full mental body ap-peared along with a
full neocortex, with the primates; and so on with the other subtle
bodies in their corresponding evolutionary levels. This can
be represented diagrammaticaly as follows:
. : * Mental Body
* Hi Emotion Body H.Emot.b. H.Emot.b.
Lower Emotion Body L.Emot.b. L.Emot.b. L.Emot.b.
Physical body Phy.b. Phy.b. Phy.b.
Instincts Instincts Emotions Intellect
Brainstem Reptilian Limbic NeocortexIt can also be stated here that there is no reason why evolution should cease with the human species. And indeed, neither the scientist nor the esotericist claims it does. So just as in a reptile or a primitive mammal the mental body is very embryonic, but it is developed in man, so in man the higher mental and spiritual bodies are embryonic (or even non-existent), but would perhaps be developed in a few, more spiritual race or species of being; assuming of course that human greed and stupidity does not destroy all higher life before then.
I would also like to point out that what is being referred in
the above figure is the full development of a particular subtle body.
So it is not the case that the reptiles say, possess no mental body,
but only that its mental body is very embryonic. These undeveloped
subtle bodies are indicated by dots, etc,
First, because animals cannot process their own food (like plants can),
and are too large to assimilate it directly into their body (as microoganisms
do), there is need for a digestive tract.
Because cilia are no longer sufficent to allow the multicelluar animal to move around so as to procure food, escape enemies, mate, and so on, muscle cells are necessary. And to co-ordinate the muscle cells and other body parts, there is a nervous system. [Lawrence Dillon, Animal Variety, p.42 (1970, Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers)].
These are the three biological inventions that gave Metazoa the advantage over other life- forms, enabling them to become the dominant life-form.
This much has been revealed by science. But when we look beyond the physical to the other fac-tors involved, we see that these three biological inventions correspond to the three primary psychic - or psycho-physical - functions of Thinking, Feeling, and Willing.
According to Steiner, man possesses three psycho-physiological functions: Thinking, Feeling, and Willing. Thinking is associated with the head, Feeling with the torso, and Willing with the limbs. Steiner thus saw man as a rhythmic being, with three different forces active, expressed and focused in three different sections of the body.
This three-fold psychology can be identified with the theosophical-occult
idea of "subtle bodies", especially the Etheric, Emotional and Mental.
The following table lists some of these correspondences:
What this means is that the various psychic levels incarnate in, and are grounded in, the or-ganism through these particular parts of its physical being. Of course, these psychic levels by no means constitute the full development of a particular subtle body, but only the embryonic beginnings. This rudimentary development is still very much caught up in physical-somatic existence. So what we have is a very simple Mental Body and a very simple Emotional Body. This dim consciousness is con-stantly pervaded and ensouled by the inflowing con-sciousness of the overshadowing deva; it is not so much an individual as a collective consciousness containing the seeds of individuality.
Each of these body types thus embodies one of the triblastic layers,
and the corresponding psychic faculty that that layer embodies or expresses.
The coelom seems to have developed independently a number of times. The various ediacarian worms all evolved from a acoelomate ancestors. Today, the flatworm and other such humble invertebrates are at least to some extent "living fossils" that indicate something of these ancestors.
Pure Concept or Image Thinking Mental body
| Feeling Emotional body
Pure Energy or Action Willing Etheric bodyBut each of these faculties recur on each level (as Gurdjieff and Ouspensky put it "each faculty is divided into sub-faculties"). So there is for example a thinking-thinking, a feeling-thinking, and a willing-thinking. And because these faculties occur on every level, there is interaction and mutual shaping between all the "vehicles of consciousness". The various evolutionary levels of the brain is the manifestation of this on the physi-cal level, and the Jungian ego-functions the manifestation of this on the mental level.
Sensation and Intuition - the orientation of con-sciousness towards
physical reality or towards psychic reality - are not shown in this diagram,
as they are not so much psychic faculties as repre-sentative of the direction
the psychic energy and the consciousness takes. They will be
considered seperately, in relation to the psychic worlds.
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