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Chapter III. Sleep and Death


We can form a clear idea of what happens by having recourse to an analogy. Imagine a vessel filled with water. No one drop is a separate thing in itself within that entire mass of water. But let us take a little sponge and with it suck up a single drop from the whole mass of water. Something of this kind happens to the human astral body on awaking. During sleep it is in a world resembling its own nature. In a certain sense it forms part of it. On awaking, the physical and etheric bodies suck it up: they absorb it; they contain the organs through which it perceives the outer world. In order to achieve this perception it has to leave its own world, for it is in that world alone that it can receive the models which it needs for the etheric body. Just as food is supplied to the physical body from its surroundings, so are the pictures of the world surrounding the astral body presented to it during the state of sleep. There, indeed, it lives in the universe, beyond the physical and etheric bodies: in that same universe out of which the whole man is born. The source of the images by means of which man receives his form is in this universe. He is linked in harmony with it; and when he awakens he rises above the surface of this all-pervading harmony to attain external perception. In sleep his astral body returns to the universal harmony. He brings so much strength from it to his bodies on awaking that he can once more dispense for a time with sojourning in the realm of harmony. The astral body returns during sleep to its home, and, on awaking, brings back into life freshly invigorated forces. That which the astral body thus gains, and brings with it on waking, finds its outer expression in the refreshment afforded by sound sleep. Further exposition of occult science will show that this home of the astral body is more extensive than that which belongs to the physical body in the narrower sense of the physical environment. Thus, while man as a physical being is a member of this earth, his astral body belongs to worlds in which other heavenly bodies besides our earth are included. During sleep, therefore,—(this can



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