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The Mystery of the Heart

The Sacramental Physiology of the Heart in Aristotle, Thomas Aqinas, and Rudolf Steiner

Peter Selg
Translated by Dana Fleming
March 2012
More details
  • Publisher
  • Published
    20th March 2012
  • ISBN 9780880107518
  • Language English
  • Pages 250 pp.

"Every moral deed and every physical action in human life is connected in the human heart. Only when we truly learn to understand the configuration of he human heart will we find the true fusion of these two parallel and independent phenomena: moral events and physical events." —Rudolf Steiner

Today we know very little about the true nature of the human heart. Our knowledge arises only from a materialistic or an emotional standpoint. However, the human heart, as Rudolf Steiner knew and taught, is both spiritual and physical—the place where body and soul come together. It is the place of their unity. We have lost this knowledge, yet it is integral to the Western understanding of what gives humanity its vocation—our spiritual/physical, our earthly/heavenly nature.

In this astonishing and inspiring book, Peter Selg focuses on the evolution of the spiritual understanding of the heart as transmitted through Aristotle, the Gospels, and Hebrew Scriptures to the Middle Ages, when, in the light of the Mystery of Golgotha and its sacramental life, it was synthesized and transformed by Thomas Aquinas, after whom, with the rise of modern science it, was lost until Goethe began a process of recovery and development that led to its complete renewal and transformation in Rudolf Steiner.

The Mystery of the Heart tells this story in three parts. Part one, “The Anthropology of the Heart in the Gospels,” examines the spiritual anthropology of the heart in the Gospels in the light of Ezekiel’s prophetic saying: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a living heart of flesh.”

Part two, “De Essentia et Motu Cordis,” describes Aristotle’s understanding of the heart and its transformation and deepening in Aquinas. Part three, “The Heart and the Fate of Humanity,” examines the spiritual-scientific view of the heart as developed in Rudolf Steiner’s teachings.

Also included is an appendix containing selected meditative verses and therapeutic meditations for the heart.

This volume was originally published in German by Verlag am Goetheanum 2003 as Mysterium cordis: Von der Mysterienstätte des Menschenherzens Studien zur sakramentalen Physiologie des Herzorgans. Aristoteles, Thomas von Aquin, Rudolf Steiner. Second edition in German, Verlag am Goetheanum 2006, Dornach, Switzerland.

C O N T E N T S:

Foreword to the Second Edition

1. The Anthropology of the Heart in the Gospels
2. De Essentia et Motu Cordis
— Aristotle’s Study of the Heart
— Thomas Aquinas
3. The Heart and the Fate of Humanity

Epilogue: “And the Word lives in my heart”

Peter Selg

Peter Selg studied medicine in Witten-Herdecke, Zurich, and Berlin and, until 2000, worked as the head physician of the juvenile psychiatry department of Herdecke Hospital in Germany. Dr. Selg is director of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Research into Anthroposophy (Arlesheim, Switzerland), professor of medicine at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Germany), and co-leader of the General Anthroposophical Section at the Goetheanum. He is the author of numerous books on Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy, medical ethics, and the development of culture and consciousness.