Today I will be speaking in Dutch, after all, Dutch is my mother tongue, and it is something quite different whether you pronounce certain contents in a foreign language, or you do so in your own language. In any case, it is a lot more comfortable for the speaker to speak in his own language, because you do not constantly have a kind of question sitting next to you, asking, whether I say it well, linguistically speaking, the rest remains the same question, of course.
Last time, I pointed out a difference between the bacterium and the virus, namely that although the bacterium is a parasite and therefore uses the host, it can still carry out its own processes, while the virus cannot, it is also a parasite with regard to the processes. Everything the virus does is based on the gifts of the host, which, of course, does not give them away voluntarily.
That is something, you could delve into, meditating, to become aware of that difference. I do not believe that it is possible to gain any meaningful knowledge of the reality of these microorganisms if you do not make the effort, to imagine such differences meditatively and to think about them, giving them a certain depth which they do not have in their perception.
And there is another difference of great importance, which I have also mentioned, and that is that the bacteria generally live in the fluid between the cells and move around there, whereas the virus, on the other hand, goes into the cell, or is brought into the cell and can even enter into the nucleus. That is a second difference that we could look into in order to get a kind of sense of reality for the difference between a bacterium and a virus.
And then it is true that when you dive into the scientific literature, the simplicity quickly ceases. I try to maintain a certain degree of purity in these short speeches. But when you have to go into the scientific literature, then that stops. And then you find there, over and over again, that it is said: There are also other opinions, there are also investigations that reveal something else, of this and of that we are far from certain, and so on and so forth. But the most difficult thing about going into hiding in scientific literature is that you have to deal with professional jargon, which makes the content very difficult to access.
It reminds me of a very special experience I had as a child when I learned to knit. There were textbooks for that and that whole course consisted of a number of parts and of course that became more and more difficult, and at some point you are able to knit baby socks or a jumper or something like that. And then I looked up the manual and then it said: put on 50 stitches, as described in lesson 1, knit ten centimetres collar as in lesson three, I just give an example. Well, that's how it continues, so you have to know how to knit, how to put on stitches, don't you know, then you have to look it up. Well, you know the basic things, but at a certain point you have to deal with armholes in the jumper and so on, and then you really have to look every time in the previous lessons to see what they actually mean. This is also the case with cooking books.
But that is really disastrous in scientific literature, even if you are somewhat familiar with the subject, for the nomenclature used is probably changed every day and you have to deal with abbreviations, with certain terminologies and you really have to look them up first if you want to understand what they are about.
So I am trying to keep it simple here. And what I found very striking about this search in the literature, was that at a certain point there are several sites where it is said that a virus can't move by itself. Yes, I find that really very interesting, because movement is a characteristic of having an astral body, that is a characteristic of the animal realm and, if you don't know the terminology 'astral body', then still every human being knows the animal realm and knows that animals can move with a certain will. If a virus cannot do that, and therefore apparently infiltrates the cell, but not with its own will, but by being carried along, then you could actually conclude from this that a virus is not an animal being. If we look at the plant world, we see that a plant does not move, and a plant is being moved, if it moves. So one would say, a virus does not belong to the animal realm, but at best to the plant realm, and the question remains whether we can speak here of a living being, or whether it is a mere chemical process, which is taking place and which science has summarised in a kind of collective name under the word 'virus'.
And when we look at the information we get in the newspapers, in the articles that are written about the virus, yes, I miss that very much, this information, because it is really something quite different, whether you are carrying a parasite, which is an animal creature, or whether you are carrying a parasite, which is a plant, or even just material nature. If you have an infection with an animal, with an animal parasite, then that increases the fear that it arouses. We see a lot of pictures, pictures of viruses, we see those scary little balls with the sprites on them that also have balls, and if you think that this is a creature that penetrates you, then the feeling you get is completely different than when you consider that it is a vegetable thing, which actually has no will of its own, which functions on the will of the characteristics of the substance, as is the case in chemistry.
I am only presenting a number of facts; those who are interested can, of course, further investigate and think it up. I believe, however, that it is important for us to ask ourselves this question intensively: What, in fact, is a virus, and I repeat, a virus is a parasite, which penetrates into the cell, but not by its own will, but because it is carried along. And what happens in that cell or in the nucleus depends on whether it is an RNA or a DNA virus, and what happens there is an incredibly intensive process, because the virus imitates itself on the basis of the RNA or DNA of the host, and does not do this with one copy at a time, but with countless copies at a time. And that is something that pleads in favour of a life organism, a reproduction of that nature is, of course, enormous. And when the host cell is completely corrupted by the enormous amount of virus material that has been created there, then that cell is no longer viable, is destroyed, bursts open, as it were, and the virus material spreads into the environment and then, of course, an almost countless number of other cells can penetrate. And so you can imagine that a serious disease will arise. I would also like to talk about this once again, about what such a disease actually is.
However, the fear that is being aroused is due to the fact that we are being informed about the fact that we are dealing with a micro-organism that infects us beyond our control and would like to destroy us, and that there is little knowledge of the facts; it is constantly being said that we do not really know, that we do not know this virus very well - it gets better and better over time, of course - and that we are actually more or less exposed to a terrible coincidence, namely whether or not we happen to come across someone who is carrying this virus and spreading it. That, I believe, is the basic premise of this whole thing, namely that you yourself are totally powerless, just like the virus itself, you cannot do anything at all, all you can do is not get close to a virus spreader.
When you then consult Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science with regard to epidemics and infectious diseases, you have to practise a constant reversal of thought with him; I gave an example of this last time. But he gives even more, he says, for example, a human being does not become ill because he becomes infected with a micro-organism, but he has a sick liquid body. So actually what he has as a liquid in his waterorganism, which is very large, as you know, something like 90% of our entire physical presence consists of water. If that water, if that liquid becomes polluted, then one becomes ill.
And he then gives a colourful example for the workers and says, if you have someone who has eaten a lot of onions and garlic, then at some point they get a vapour of smell around them, and yes most people don't like that very much when they come near it. But the person who spreads it generally doesn't notice it, he or she has only eaten a lot of onions and garlic, and the person who meets him or her is then confronted with some sort of smelly aura.
That's how you should imagine, says Rudolf Steiner, how a sick person is, only you don't smell it. But he or she does carry a certain evaporation, a kind of vapour that is impure, that is not clean, that water is polluted. And that can transfer to another human being, like when you go to a concert and you always hear the same theme in the melody, you can still hear that melody in yourself afterwards, so it can also be that you are, as it were, infected by the illness of the other person, because he has a certain evaporation, a certain radiation around him, which you take over. And then come the microorganisms, because they feel wonderful in it.
So these microorganisms are not primary, but they are secondary. And, of course, you can demonstrate that they are secondary and, says Rudolf Steiner - he received critical questions from the audience, of course, because one could say, well, then you don't have to do anything about those microorganisms either, you can just leave them there. No, says Rudolf Steiner, that's the same as when you have a house, which you haven't cleaned for a very long time. At some point it is so dirty that it is completely full of spiders and cockroaches and I know what other vermin. When you start cleaning, you can't expect to get rid of those vermin as well, most of the time you have to let the disinfection service come. I don't know if that already existed in those days, but that is what we would do now, that you would ask for help to get rid of these vermin, and that you would keep your house clean afterwards, of course.
That is such an example that you still have to fight against these micro-organisms. There are a number of other examples of this in the spiritual sciences. But for today this seems to me to be enough. What I just have to say is, in the example of garlic and onions, in the example of man's not healthy water body, it comes down to realising that the whole world, the whole environment, the whole human body is filled with microorganisms, and so you have a rich choice, to let them grow inside you, but they only grow when you give them the opportunity.A Virus: Animal, plant or mineral by Mieke Mosmuller