Keys: The Anthroposophical Approach to Health

<< back

By: Gerald Karnow, M.D.
In one of our workshops at the Fellowship Community there is a large wall cabinet. It is locked and only a few have access to it. It is the community master-key cabinet. Rows and rows of keys, carefully tended, hang there to be given out to those who need one (or many) to hopefully deal with them responsibly and not lose them. Each key gives access to spaces in which people live, work, are cared for, and in which various tools and supplies for many differ­ent activities are kept. You can imagine how necessary it would be to have the key for an emergency supply cabinet in an emergency, or the library key if we wanted to get some important information.

I was reminded of this cabinet when I thought about "keys" in anthroposophical medicine. It occurred to me that Rudolf Steiner opened the key cabinet and said to us, "Go ahead, there they are. I labeled them carefully. I made them so that you can use them to enter the spaces where you can be active in many different ways, to improve your capacities for knowing, caring, treating or whatever you wish. I am making them available freely so that you can strive to be what you want to be; but most of all, to be of ever greater service to humankind and the earth."

The keys are carefully arranged so that we can move from space to space in accordance with our abilities. Mostly we can just begin with one and will then realize that the spaces we enter are all interconnected. Not only that, as we open the outer spaces we realize that we are also finding out more about our own inner spaces.

The first key I would reach for is the one which gives us access to the physical realm of existence - the four elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire. This key permits us to realize that the physical realm is differentiated and gives us highly varied but lawful experiences. We must reach for the next key if we want to comprehend how these four elements are lifted out of their chaotic state into serving life. And there Rudolf Steiner provides us with a key which opens spaces unknown to most - the realm of life of the four ethers. There is the warmth ether, the light ether, the chemical or sound ether and the life ether. The warmth ether giving life to dead warmth, the light ether giving life to dead air, the chemical or sound ether giving life and organization to dead water, and the life ether giving life to the dead minerals. By using this key many of our questions about how the four elements are kept in the body's life organization can be pursued.

The next key would be the one which gives us access to the soul realm. Here we can meet the number SEVEN, because the soul realm has seven interconnected chambers, each ruled by a planet. As we enter this realm we discover that each of the cham­bers requires other keys, smaller and more finely ground, which will open two doors in each chamber. One door leads to the living body with its great organs and functions; the other door leads to the life of consciousness with its intricately structured activities made possible by the planetary rulers. With these keys Rudolf Steiner gives us access to the great mysteries of body-soul relations. And to help us in this difficult region he gives us yet another key on which he wrought for over thirty years of his life - the threefold organization of the human body and soul. The nerve-sense system as the bodily basis for the mental-cognitive life, the rhythmical-respiratory cardiovascular system as the bodily basis of our emo­tional-feeling life, and the metabolic limb system as the basis for our volitional life.

With the keys we have on our key-ring now, we already have access to an immense edifice, and if we did not get inspired by the fact that each space opens onto and illuminates yet other, previously inaccessible, spaces we would be utterly overwhelmed. Our enthusiasm now carries us further to ever higher realms as we take a very elaborate key and open the space of the TWELVE. Here we meet the rulers of the zodiac on their thrones and hear from them about their work on the form of the human body so that it can be the vessel of the divine human spirit, our own individuality, our "I." We hear from them how they work into the world, into the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, and leave the impress of their work in these visible forms. The forms which are visible to us through the twelve senses with which our
physical body is endowed; the twelve senses through which our "I" is able to perceive all the realms of existence as objective fact.

As we carefully put the keys into their proper places, besides still others we haven't addressed, to be used when needed, and close the door to the cabinet we realize that the cabinet itself is a key to the immense mystery of the human being as body, soul and spirit, as a small world totally reflecting the great world all around us. And we are grateful to Rudolf Steiner for his opening this cabinet and making the keys so freely available so that we can work for earth and humankind.

Dr. Gerald Karnow lives and works at the Rudolf Fellowship Community in Spring Valley, NY a community of all ages centered on the care of the older person and the land.

<< back

Dynamic Content Management by ContentTrakker