The heart as a sense organ

The heart is a very fine sense organ, through which the head, especially by means of the cerebellum, subconsciously perceives what is going on in the rest of the organism, i.e. in the rhythmic system and in the metabolic-limb system. This normally subconscious perception was tried to be raised to consciousness in the Mithras initiation. Thereby the Mithras disciple gradually learned to feel very finely through his heart organization the influence of the course of the year on his metabolic-limb system, which was symbolically represented by the bull. By thus looking back at himself through his heart, the spiritual disciple could study the course of the sun through the zodiac and from it give instructions as to what was to be done at what season. (Lit.: GA 223, p. 136ff)

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“For in the last analysis, what is the heart? After all, the heart is a sense organ. And even if we do not have directly in our consciousness that which is the sensory activity of the heart, even if it belongs to the subconscious sensory activities, what is going on in the heart, the heart is nevertheless there so that, as it were, the upper activities can perceive, can feel the lower activities of man. Just as you perceive the outer color processes with your eyes, so you perceive through the heart, but in the dull subconscious, that which takes place in your lower body. Finally, the heart is a sense organ for inner perception. As such it is to be addressed.” (Lit.:GA 312, p. 37f)

The heart mediates between the upper and the lower human being

The heart mediates between the upper and the lower human being, through which the upper human being perceives, albeit quite unconsciously for us, what is going on in the lower human being. It creates a balance between the processes of the upper and the lower human being in such a way that each upper process corresponds to a related lower process – and this individually, quite differently. The upper man includes the nervous-sensory system and to a certain extent also the respiratory activity, which already belongs to the rhythmic system. The lower man is related to the metabolic system.

“The heart is not there to pump the blood through the body, but it is a sense organ that perceives everything, like the whole head. We could know nothing of our blood circulation – of course, with our upper mind we know nothing of it either, but inside the head there must be knowledge – if the head would not perceive our whole blood circulation through the heart.

I have told you how the liver is an organ of perception. The lower movements, for example, the liver perceives. But what movements the whole person has, the heart already perceives. Through this, the heart is set in motion. The heart is set in motion by the movements caused by the hunger to breathe and the hunger to nourish. And by the movements of the heart one notices whether something is in order or in disorder in the body.” (Lit.:GA 350, p. 58f)

“The heart is essentially that organ which in its observable movements is the expression of the balance between this upper and lower, which psychically, or perhaps better said, sub psychically is the organ of perception which mediates between these two poles of the human organization. You can study everything that anatomy, physiology, biology offer you on the basis of this principle and you will see that only through this, light comes into the human organization. As long as you do not distinguish between the upper and the lower, which is mediated by the heart, you will not be able to understand man, because there is a fundamental difference between everything that takes place in the lower organizational activity of man and that which takes place in the upper organizational activity.

If you want to express this difference in a simple way, you could say: everything that happens in the lower has its negative, its negative counter-image in the upper. It is always possible that one can find a counter-image to everything that is connected with the upper in the lower. But the important thing is that a material mediation between the upper and the lower does not take place, but a correspondence. One must always know how to relate the one in the lower to the other in the upper correctly, not proceed from wanting a material mediation. If we take a very simple example, if we take the stimulus to cough and the real cough as it is related to the upper, that is, in so far as it belongs to the upper, we shall have for it the corresponding counter-image in the lower in diarrhea. We always find a corresponding counter-image for an upper in the lower. And only by this, one comes to the right understanding of man, that one can correctly grasp these correspondences – there will be many such before our eyes in the course of the reflections.” (Lit.:GA 312, p. 38f)

Left heart and right heart

The heart is usually moved slightly to the left. In right-hearted people, on the other hand, it is slightly moved to the right. According to Rudolf Steiner, they have to use much more inner strength to keep their blood circulation in order and also use their astral body much more. They are also much more dependent on the outside world, so they always have to do certain things at a certain time of day or season. In dancers, even if they are originally left-hearted, the heart moves a little to the right as life goes on.

“In a normal person, it is the case that the heart has moved a little to the left. But just as there are left-handed people and most people are right-handed and do everything with their right hand, there are also right-handed people. There are people who do not have their heart on the left side, but on the right side. Mostly this is not noticed at all, because the difference is of course an internal one. If one is a left-hander, it is true, one notices it very soon, but if his heart is shifted a little to the right instead of to the left, one does not notice it so soon.
But it would be interesting to examine just such people who have the heart on the right side, how they are somewhat different in life than those who have the heart on the left side. The one who has the heart on the right side, that is, shifted to the right is namely a person who actually always has to do certain things that he does at a certain time of the year or at a certain time of the day. The right-hearted person is much more dependent on the external environment than the left-hearted person. And if the heart has moved just a little to the right – it is not in the same place everywhere in every person, but a little differently in every person – if it is still on the left, but has moved a little to the right, and then he immediately has the longing to orient himself more to the outer environment. He immediately wants to do, say, something special in spring and something special in autumn. Of course, you can’t always do that and then you ruin yourself. People don’t even know what they can ruin themselves with.

In school, for example, children who have their hearts a little to the right must be treated differently from those who have their hearts in the right place. The human being, when he has moved the heart to the right, is then induced to make much more use of his astral body.

You see, gentlemen, this is the story: If one works on a machine for a long time, you will be able to say to yourself, it generally becomes so that the work becomes mechanical. It becomes more unpleasant because you yourself become a piece of machinery, but when you work on a machine for a long time, you make the hand movements and so on mechanical. Think about it, one is quite normally a real left-hearted person. The father was also a left-hearted person, the grandfather also, the great-grandfather also. That’s where it slowly crept in. And when you are born as a son, you naturally make the same inner movement that your father, grandfather and great-grandfather made. It is as easy as when you have been working on a machine for a long time.

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If you are a right-hearted person, the position of your heart is not inherited from your father. The father is usually not also a right-hearted person. This is not inherited. In that case you have to start things over again and again from your astral body, so to speak. There one does not have the whole heredity inside. And the consequence of this is that such a person, who is a right-hearted person, has to use much more inner strength in order to have the whole blood circulation in order. And that is the reason why such a right-hearted person depends much more on the outside.

The following is even possible. Suppose you are not a right-hearted person at all, but a normal left-hearted person. But if you become a ballet dancer – this also happens to men, but even more to women – the heart is also influenced by ballet dancing. Now ballet dance is so that it is also very materialistic. But in ancient times, when people were encouraged to dance, for example in ancient Greece, the heart was moved a little to the right even during life, by the fact that they then joined in movements that were imitated by the stars, just as in the case of dancers. Even today the dance, even if it has become materialistic, makes a strong impression on the heart, because it moves a little to the right. And if one would pay more attention to these things, one would see, if one then dissects the human being after death, how the heart has stretched apart certain vessels. Because the person concerned was a dancer, the heart – this can still be seen after death – has just been moved a little to the right.” (Lit.:GA 350, p. 60ff)