There is a physical contagion and a spiritual contagion. Here we do not want to deny the existence of a real problem with the Coronavirus, but rather to understand the current events, and more generally other events whose dynamics are contagious, in light of the science of the spirit.
The origin of viruses
From the biological and physical point of view, the virus is an obligatory parasite, a fragment of genetic material that needs to return to the host cells from which it originated in order to replicate, both at the species and cellular tissue level. However, thanks to the mutation process, a virus can also infect and replicate in other types of similar cells as well as in other species biologically similar to that of origin. The action of a virus is therefore biochemical and aimed at pure replication of itself as much as possible. Being an obligatory parasite, its interest, in a certain sense, is not to kill the host that guarantees its replication, but to spread as much as possible. However, the problem, at least from the point of view of those who are hosts of the virus, is that viruses undergo mutations quickly and in an attempt to adapt to the ever-changing environment of new hosts, it can cause their death. Viruses depend entirely on the life of the cell, they can remain dormant for years and if they are exposed to the weather they quickly break down.
Viruses are always derivative, i.e. they do not originate from themselves, but from other cells: i.e. the parasite comes from the host through a process of simplification and, compared to life, degeneration. Classical biology considers the cell to be the basis of life: starting from this definition, a paradox is created whereby, compared to the complexity of the cell of origin, viruses are such a simplification that, although they originate from cellular life, they are not alive in themselves, since they always need a cell to be able to replicate. Viruses are therefore something that lies between the living and the dead, the organic and the inorganic: this aspect is extremely important and must be taken into account when we want to grasp the phenomenon of viruses from the point of view of spiritual science.
This process goes on until we reach a state of dynamic equilibrium in which the virus spreads continuously without killing the majority of the hosts, reaching a sort of co-evolution between the immune system of the host and the ability of the virus to replicate. This evolutionary model follows the process highlighted by Lynn Margulis that every evolutionary process begins as a competition, a struggle for survival, but eventually it transcends itself and culminates in co-evolution. In essence, each evolutionary process leads the different species to live more and more in close contact, so much so that at the end of the whole process, if extinction does not occur, a real fusion of the species concerned is observed. This is what Margulis has masterfully demonstrated with the process of endosymbiosis of the formation of eukaryotic cells (with nucleus) by a symbiosis of bacterial cells (without nucleus), climbing this process to the symbiosis of entire ecosystems among them in what she proposed as the “Gaia Hypothesis” that foresees the Earth as a living organism in itself. For this reason viruses are not only vectors of diseases but also of certain evolutionary phenomena: it is possible, for example, to observe how many species, whether bacterial, protistic, fungal, plant or animal, have traits in their genome that have been transported horizontally, or through similar species, by means of viruses.
Now, according to the science of the spirit we know that this logic that wants the complexity generated from below must be considered only the manifestation of a complementary process that is generated from above downwards, that is, the fact that the spiritual image of man pre-exists that of the other kingdoms of Nature. So from the spiritual point of view we know that it is the image of man that expels from itself in order to manifest the whole of Creation, animals, plants and minerals and therefore the Earth itself as a living organism.
Bacteria and viruses
It is also good to distinguish, especially in the case of bacteria, the fact that if they can become pathogenic, in the majority of cases they are not and on the contrary they contribute to the so-called “microbiome” or rather to the complex of bacterial ecosystems that populate our body both externally and internally, constituting what is commonly called “bacterial flora” and which constitutes a real vegetal-animal kingdom in man. On the contrary, it is all the more true that the change in the behaviour of bacteria that from being harmless become pathogenic, is determined by an imbalance in the culture medium of the microbiome, that is, by an imbalance of our own organism which is upstream and which therefore translates into an imbalance in the populations of the bacterial species.
The discovery of a bacterium at the moment when the disease arises is certainly an interesting fact as far as the botany and zoology of the human organism is concerned, but as far as being sick in itself has no other meaning than that of a distinctive mark: if one or the other form of disease is the basis of it, there is an opportunity in the human body for these small and interesting animal or vegetable forms to develop such an organic base, but nothing else. One will therefore see nothing else from the presence of these curious creatures, that there is suitable soil, and one will certainly have to pay attention to the observation of the ground. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 312, p. 81f
Steiner points to these processes as the real cause of the onset of the disease: it is not the bacterium or virus itself that indicates the disease but the fact that the ground has allowed its indiscriminate replication without intervention by the immune system which, as we know, is the result of the interaction between the ego, the spiritual principle underlying individual identity, and the etheric body, the body of vital forces. In this context it is interesting to note that the bacterial flora is completely in continuity with our etheric body and is therefore a physical manifestation of it. It is also interesting to keep in mind that bacteria produce nutrients, such as vitamins, but also specific substances that not only keep the populations of bacteria in balance with each other, but also the viruses themselves, which therefore have more difficulty in replicating themselves in the presence of a bacterial flora in balance: this is why if you confuse a viral disease with a bacterial one and administer antibiotics, the result is that the virus will have full scope to expand and aggravate the disease. In essence, bacterial ecosystems protect us from infection. Therefore, we must not confuse the cause (the imbalance in the soil) with the effect (the presence of pathogenic bacteria and viruses):
If bacteria appear in large quantities in any part of the body during the course of an illness, it is natural that these bacteria produce some kind of phenomenon, just like any other foreign body in the body. If you attribute everything to the action of these bacteria, you focus your attention only on what the bacteria do. However, you distract attention from the true origin of the disease. For every time inner organisms find a suitable terrain for their replication in the organism, it is precisely this suitable terrain that has already been prepared by means of the true root causes. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 312, pp. 328f
From an evolutionary point of view, the prokaryotic cells of bacteria are living units in themselves, if they are associated, in the course of evolution they can give rise to nucleus cells, i.e. the eukaryotic cells of protists, plants, fungi, animals and humans. It is interesting to note that only the eukaryotic cell, with nucleus and organelles, can form multi-cellular tissues such as that of more complex organisms (plants, fungi and animals). This is the process that is observed from the point of view of natural science, a process that, when it is overturned, shows itself from the point of view of spiritual science so that it is the spiritual image of man that generates by expulsion the spiritual images of eukaryotic cells (of animals, fungi, plants and protists) and therefore from these, of the prokaryotic cells of bacteria.
Ahriman and the Realm of Quantity
We now come to the spiritual origin of what is replicated, that is, the copy of the equal until its passage into the “Realm of Quantity”, is the process that originates the dead material thinking whose lord is Ahriman, the spirit of materialism. He appears in the form of that which spreads parasitically:
In ancient times, the ahrimanic spirits lost a battle, and were thus expelled from the spiritual worlds in the earthly sphere. From there they continued their attacks, again and again. There was such a battle, in which these ahrimanic spirits, after being exiled down here on Earth, brought some living beings into existence in that area of the Earth, these are called [pathogenic] bacteria in medical science. Everything that can be traced back to bacterial forces, everything in which bacteria take part [pathologically], is also a consequence of the fact that the ahrimanic spirits were thrown from Heaven to Earth. So it is possible to say: in physical reality, tuberculosis and other pathogenic bacteria, therefore, share a similar origin to that of intellectual materialism which currently exists in the spiritual field – these two aspects are quite similar in the highest sense. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 177, p. 152.
Ahriman is the same inspirer of industrial production and consumerism, that is, of that process that from the specific quality of an object leads to “weight, number and measure” or in the realm of quantity. In fact, materialistic thinking is not capable of giving rise to new thoughts, that is, of allowing hierarchies to think through man, but is only capable of replicating something that lacks the link with its origin, which is spiritual. Materialistic thinking, having cut the nexus with its spiritual origin, when it looks beyond itself sees only nothingness, which usually translates as “chance”: a cognitive limit is thus self-imposed. In other words, materialistic thinking considers what are effects of causes, since it denies the true cause of these effects which resides on the spiritual plane: in doing so, materialistic thinking remains completely on the plane of effects, continuously attributing to it the role of cause. This process makes thought slide into the realm of quantity. In this sense materialistic thinking is a parasite of the thought process.
From the point of view of spiritual contagion we can follow Steiner’s indications regarding the characteristics of pathogenic microorganisms. In Steiner’s time the natural sciences were still on the way to discovering the difference between microorganisms, the theory of bacilli was the most accepted, and therefore Steiner’s statements about bacilli or bacteria, and in particular pathogens, are to be associated also and all the more, given their characteristics, with viruses. Indeed:
The moment we get to these beings that live as parasites in other beings, plants, animals or humans, we have to deal with, especially when we are dealing with “creatures similar to bacteria” [i.e. viruses] present in the human body, with incorporations of spiritual beings, which are Ahriman’s creatures. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 154, pp. 48f.
Materialistic thinking and viruses
Here, then, is the occult link between materialistic thought and viruses: just as materialistic thought continually attempts to return to its spiritual origin, causing the cause to decay in its effects; so viruses continually attempt to return to the cell from which they originated, causing the host cell (and sometimes the host organism as a whole) to die. We could say that both materialistic thinking and viruses are simplifications of complex living processes, which go from the spiritual world to the physical world according to all the intermediate stages necessary for the incorporation between spiritual cause and material effect. Materialistic thinking and viruses are extreme simplifications that bring death into living complexity, which is necessary to manifest itself to Hierarchies. Simplification is an ahrimanic trait: Ahriman, in fact, wants to bring everything back to earthly existence to the point of sinking into subnatura by means of the quantification of what is not quantifiable in itself.
Just as materialistic thought is a fragment of a living thought that originates in the spiritual world, so the virus is a fragment of a living organism that originates from the thought of hierarchies. Just as materialistic thought will eventually be reabsorbed into spiritual thinking through a process of death and resurrection, so viruses will eventually be reabsorbed into the cells from which they originated, dying as viruses and being reborn as part of the cell. On the other hand, in this process of detachment from the spiritual source, through death and resurrection, what has been separated returns to the source bringing a new element within itself, namely freedom, which is in this sense the infusion of meaning into what is lost, becoming a new source of spiritual life. In other words, it is the Theodicy or redemption of Evil: that which detaches itself from the flow of divine life as a spirit of opposition must return to its source through the redemption brought about by self-consciousness, that is, by that thought which becomes conscious of its spiritual origin in the Ego. Thus it is that the natural sciences are not at odds with the science of the spirit, but await only to be permeated by it. This will be the process which will lead Ahriman to be redeemed, when the “laboratory table will be inhaled at the altar” and every scientist will become a priest of the Mysteries of Nature which are the divine thought made manifest through Hierarchies.
It is the Mystery of the Third Temptation of Christ, the “transformation of stones into bread”, that is, the transformation of what is inorganic into what is organic, of what is dead into what is alive, of the dead materialistic thought, which makes the heart a stone, in living spiritual thinking, which makes “good as bread”:
Now, while they were eating, Jesus took the bread and, having pronounced the blessing, broke it and gave it to the disciples saying: “Take it and eat; this is my body”. – Matthew 26, 26-28.
The virus, which with its derivative being suspended between the living and the dead, the organic and inorganic, will finally return to be part of a living cell and will give its abilities to the cell itself, making it become something it was not before, in other words, making it evolve. This obviously happens if the identity of the cell is not compromised but acquires new characteristics of its identity.
But it is equally true that a part of these beings of the obstacle will not be reintegrated into the regular evolution of the Hierarchies, of man and of the planetary chain of Earth, but some of them will choose to continue in their descending evolution, the so-called Eighth Sphere, which is in itself governed by chance and the absence of meaning. This is the so-called event of 666, the 6th metamorphosis of the Future Venus, 6th condition of Higher Vegetal Life, 6th condition of Higher Rupa form. However, here the essential thing is to note that these forces of the obstacle will have the possibility to choose their evolution, after which, renouncing the I-Christ, they will proceed in their decadence.
That part of humanity which yields the power of the ego to the ahrimanic spirits, makes truth a lie. The lie itself is an ahrimanic being who breaks the truth, fragments it, replicates it and modifies it until it becomes an insidious half-truth, much more virulent than a complete lie:
So there is a certain form of bacteria capable of carrying the infectious disease that comes from human lies. These [pathogenic] bacteria are nothing more than the physical incorporation of the demons of the lie. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 99, p. 70.
Not only that, materialistic thought and its half-truths make man an automaton capable of behaving, as a whole, exactly as bacteria and pathogenic viruses do, i.e. as parasites of the planet Earth, reversing the role of man, from that of Guardian of Nature to that of his torturer.
Wherever these parasite entities appear, they are symptoms of Ahriman’s intervention in the world. Human relations with Ahriman are established by materialistic attitudes or by interior states of purely selfish fear. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 154, p. 49.
Just as materialism automatically parasites man’s thought, so man becomes an automaton parasite of the Earth. Ahriman makes man a sleeping slave capable of seeing only one side of Nature, namely the possibility of exploiting it economically, destroying it in the process. This destruction is carried out by lies about Nature and the kingdoms that compose it: as we have seen in the case of deforestation (in Brazil) and fires (in Australia), which are closely linked to the fact that materialistic thought cannot conceive the complexity of the whole that generates the living phenomenon. From the point of view of the science of the spirit, in fact, the Hierarchies need to incorporate themselves on Earth and to be able to implement their creative activity of the whole complexity of the ecosystems of the planet Earth and therefore that man enters into these ecosystems allowing not the total destruction, but the evolution over time. This, so that as the Earth is spiritualizing towards the Future Jupiter, the animal, vegetable and mineral species will go to accomplish their evolutionary cycle, becoming part of the astral, etheric and physical human body respectively. If we extinguish the animal and plant species before the Earth is spiritualized in the Heavenly Jerusalem in the process described in Revelation, the species we will have brought to extinction will return as parasitic spirits of the human being:
Occult research teaches us that every pain, every death that human beings inflict on animals, every one of them returns and rises again, not through [human] reincarnation, but because pain and suffering have been inflicted on animals. The animals to which pain has been inflicted will not reappear in the same form, but that pain they have experienced will return again, so that in the future every pain will have coupled its opposite feeling. To use a specific example: when the Earth is replaced by Jupiter, the animals will not reappear in their present form, but their pain and suffering will give rise to the feeling of pain. Animals will live in humans [like humans today live in the Guardian Angel] and will incorporate themselves into humans as parasites. From the sensations and feelings of these humans will be generated the compensation for their pain. This process will take place slowly and already in the course of the present earthly metamorphosis by means of [pathogenic] bacteria and similar creatures. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 143, p. 140.
There will therefore be an inversion of the present relationship between man and Guardian Angel. Where today the Guardian Angel weaves imaginations for the future evolution of man, so will man in the Future Jupiter, when he will be the Guardian Angel of animal species become human. However, if these will be wiped out with pain, these new animal-men will cause future imaginations woven into their astral bodies to cause pain to the Guardian Angel-men. This is already happening in the form of bacterial and viral epidemics:
The evil of eating flesh is the effect (originating against humans) of hurting and killing animals. These martyred animals return in the form of creatures who turn their forces against the bodies of the descendants of those who once killed them. Bacteria are reincarnated traces in the form of microorganisms, of what were once tortured, killed and eaten animals. – Rudolf Steiner, Esoteric Lesson, GA 266, Cologne, May 9, 1912.
The pain inflicted on animals and the destruction of Nature without a moral conscience returns in the form of epidemics as a karmic balancing act. In fact, in the absence of imbalances, there are no pandemics in Nature, because all beings, including viruses, contribute to a global balance of the Earth as a living organism. In other words, the same principle applies, whereby an unbalanced ground, due to materialistic animic-spiritual processes, diverts a normal intestinal flora into a pathogen. If an anomaly is introduced and if it grows out of all proportion, negative karma accumulates and returns in the form of compensation. It is good to emphasize this aspect because this process is never a punishment, but a compensation in order to return to equilibrium, so nothing is taken away that is not given in another way.
It is no mystery that the current strain of Coronavirus, as well as previous viruses, have originated from an abuse of animal species. It remains to be clarified how this originated, whether spontaneously or by engineering, but certainly this strain of Coronavirus originates from a species jump between a mammal such as the bat and man. Eating in poor hygienic conditions a vector of Coronavirus occurred a mixture of animal blood and human blood, so that the virus, being in balance with the immune system of the bat found itself in a foreign environment where it began to spread and reap victims since it had never been before in this human host.
Fear and contagion
Now that the spread is pandemic, all that remains is to live with this new parasite until it enters into a new relationship with its new human host. This relationship can, however, already be changed now, because the main vector of this virus is fear: in fact, the virus now presents itself in two ways, both as a parasite of human lung cells and as a parasite of the thoughts of the human mind. While in the case of lung cells we can only rely on the remedies offered by natural science, in the case of thoughts we can only rely on the remedies offered by spiritual science:
If we cannot bring out nothing of ourselves but the fear of the disease that rages all around us during the explosion of an epidemic outbreak, thus going to sleep carrying with us the thought of fear in the night the phantasmatic images of the unconscious, we will only generate images of fear in the soul. And this is what feeds the bacteria [pathogens]. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 154, p. 47.
Fear is the means by which ahrimanic spirits creep into human thoughts, appealing to a selfish principle of survival. One could say, in other words, that fear awakens the reptilian mind that sleeps in man, that legacy of Ancient Lemuria, when man passed his reptilian stage, having the form of a dragon: that dragon is both the imaginative form of Ahriman and that of the double human, the dragon that dwells in the soul of man even though it does not belong there. This ahrimanic dragon lives in the hope of being able to possess the ego to swallow it and make it his own and, although it is the bearer of physical death, it fears more than anything else its own death and dispersion, and therefore through fear it guides us so that it can survive in a parasitic way.
Occult Science reveals the fact that [pathogenic] bacteria are fed in the human body they inhabit. It is humans themselves who cultivate them. Obviously everyone today is saying how silly it would be to breed [pathogenic] bacteria. It is not a matter of principle of any kind, but a way of looking at things from the right point of view. It cannot be denied, as the Science of Spirit teaches, that an ego and an astral body that have been nourished by materialistic ideas alone, that have rejected all spiritual conceptions, hoping to have nothing to do with them, when they leave the body during sleep, will send forces from the spiritual spheres to the bodily organs that are precisely what [pathogenic] bacteria need. Nothing better can be done to cultivate the [pathogenic] bacteria than to become bearers of crude materialistic ideas in the life of sleep, thus calling to themselves the ahrimanic forces that flow into the body and become bacterial instigators. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 154
While it is true that we should be careful not to engage in behaviour that may contribute to the further spread of the virus, it is also true that we should not be obsessed with the fear of contracting the virus, so much so that we forget that there is a force greater than fear that strengthens the immune system and makes it able to react, this is love. Where fear divides, love unites: this means that in everyday relationships we should strive to prevent the fear of contagion from leaking into the subconscious beyond the gates of sleep. This would only weave counter-images that from the astral body would flow into the etheric body weakening it and thus loosening its connection with the Ego: and as we have already mentioned, it is precisely from the relationship between the Ego and the etheric body that the possibility of maintaining its own body complexity arises, the vehicle for the expression of the Ego, through the immune system, which, in essence, maintains the cellular identity. Fear diminishes the ability to defend and heal, dispersing the forming forces of our etheric body, preventing the Ego from acting by forming the etheric body.
In our day there is a fear similar to the medieval fear of ghosts. This is the current fear of bacteria. These two states of fear are actually the same. They are the same fear that fits two different times, the Middle Ages and modern times. The Middle Ages had a certain belief in the spiritual world, so naturally there was a fear of spiritual beings. Modern times have lost this belief in the spiritual world, and they believe in the material, so there is fear of material beings, even if they are very small. A distinction could at most be objectively found in the fact that ghosts are to some extent over-sensitive beings, as opposed to small bacteria, which are by no means of such a nature that one can be just as frightened of them as one is of a ghost. This of course does not mean that bacteria should not be cured or that it is nice to live together with bacteria. This certainly should not be stated. But neither does it contradict what has been said, because bacteria are certainly present, but it is also true that there are ghosts. For those who really believe in the spiritual world, there is no difference as far as these two realities are concerned. The point is, and this is the essential thing that should be emphasized today, that bacteria can only be dangerous if they are fed. Bacilli should not be fed. Of course, materialists will also agree with us if we say that bacilli should not be cultivated. But if we go further and say that, from the point of view of the right spiritual science, they are all the more dangerous the more they are fed, then the naturalists will no longer agree. In fact, bacteria are more intensely nourished the more people in their sleeping state assume nothing but a materialistic attitude. Bacteria only become dangerous if they are fed. There is no better way to feed bacteria than to go to sleep carrying only materialistic ideas and from there, from the spiritual world, to work from the ego and the astral body on the organs of the physical body by means of the blood and nervous system. There is no better way to feed bacteria than to sleep with a materialistic mentality. There is another way that is just as effective. That is to live exposed to an outbreak of epidemics or endemic diseases, while you are only filled with the feeling of fear of this or that disease by absorbing images from hospitals. This certainly works just as well. If you cannot feel anything other than the fear of disease that occurs in the environment in the case of an epidemic source of disease and at night you fall asleep with the fear that pervades your thoughts, then these induce unconscious reflex images, images infused with fear, into your soul. This is another good way to feed and grow bacteria. If you could even mitigate this fear a little bit thanks to active love, so while caring for the sick you leave aside the idea that you can also be infected, then you really reduce those forces that feed the bacteria. – Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – Chi erwirbt man sich Verständnis für die geistige Welt? – Basel, 5 May 1914 (pages 45-47).
Love and Immunity
It is our vertical center, the ego, which allows the etheric body to strengthen and structure itself through the etheric forming forces. Just as the etheric body is besieged by the forces of the obstacle of materialism, so the ego brings balance through its alignment with the principle of Christ. Let us briefly see the esoteric process by which the redemption of thought takes place, which dies in materialism and rises again in the spirit.
Such resurrection is the action of the forces of the Archangel Michael, who, from the Sphere of the Sun, the heart of the cosmos, permeates man with courage so that he may grasp the stream of thought which from the Hierarchies which govern the cosmos reaches the Earth. The Hierarchies which think the cosmos in order to bring it into being are then able to make their thoughts flow into man, thus becoming capable of thoughts which contain life within themselves.
In turn such vivified thinking becomes capable of permeating the blood, so that it joins the flow of life which permeates the entire etheric and physical body. When this flow reaches the cavity of the heart, there it encounters the balancing principle in man, that is, the Sphere of the Sun in man, Christ: here the vivified flow of thought returns to the head having become intimately human in itself. Once this process involves thinking and feeling, it allows man to access Sophia, Wisdom, or the purification of the astral body by attraction and repulsion.
At the moment when the vivified thought of the cosmos joins the Christified feeling in the heart, then man’s ego becomes completely centered and verticalized: on the one hand it joins its divine spring, the Sphere of the Sun and its regent Michael, and on the other hand it joins the Spirit of the Earth, Christ, who will lead the Earth to become the new future Sun. Sophia, Wisdom unites Christ and Michael with each other. In the ideal, when we appeal to active love, as Steiner indicates as the solution to face the fear of contagion by pathogenic bacteria and viruses, this esoteric process takes place, whatever name we want to give to Michael, to Sofia or to Christ.
This process is capable of allowing the etheric body to form itself to such an extent that it activates the immune system. This process is already easily observable when we do not get scared and instead, while maintaining a behavior that does not further spread a potential pathogen, we continue to relate to others in a balanced way, literally maintaining the shape of our etheric body. We must vividly imagine that the forces of healing flow from the cosmos to the Earth, and this from man again towards the Cosmos, in an etheric breathing that has as its center of exchange the rhythmic pole of man, the heart and lungs of man. At the moment when Michael’s etheric forces flow in thinking, at the moment when Christ’s etheric forces flow in feeling, then we find the Wisdom of Nature and recognize in it our own divine origin, at that moment we make of the suffering inflicted on Nature a new conscious wisdom that recognizes the living Christ in Nature, in the body of Mother Earth.