Three Root Causes behind
the Responses to Corona Pandemic

By Brane Žilavec, Easter 2020

♠ This is a modified and expanded version of the article The Spiritual-Scientific View of Some Causes behind the Present Coronavirus Pandemic published in the New View, Issue 95, Spring 2020.

♠ The French translation of a slightly modified version of the article from New View was published as Pandémie de Covid-19: quelles réponses? in Nouvelles de la Société Anthroposophique en France, May-June 2020.

In the times we live in now we are witnessing unprecedented cumulative effects of an addictive need for continuous expansion of economic production, relentless exploitation of natural resources, extinction of animal and plant species due to loss of natural habitats, infliction of enormous suffering on animals in modern factory farming and pathological accumulation of wealth of selected individuals on the account of the wellbeing of the rest of the society. Besides this we are witnessing an unprecedented state of health crisis. The numbers of people suffering and dying from cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, obesity, allergies, depression and so on are really shocking if we are trying to imagine the level of suffering inflicted upon modern humanity by the cumulative effect of all diseases! However, none of these extremely serious problems have ever triggered such a level of fear and anxiety, neither have they forced the leaders of the states to the same level of urgent ‘preventive’ actions, as has happened in the case of the so-called ‘coronavirus pandemic’. Why is this? What makes this case so different?

There are many reasons behind the present extreme manner of over-reaction. In this article I will focus on three root causes that contributed decisively to the drastic measures of mass-quarantine of whole nations, the temporary shutdown of many branches of the global economy and forceful social distancing on a worldwide scale.


If we want to grasp the present situation we need to start with the basic error of modern materialistic medicine: the search for one single cause for an illness. For in reality each illness is the result of the cumulative effect of many causative factors. [1] Even a thorough overview of all factors that participate in the maintenance of homeostasis within proper borders that keep our physical body in a healthy state shows that it is impossible to approach this issue within a linear way to thinking in the manner of A causes B, B causes C, and so on. In reality the map of all metabolic pathways in the human organism look like a map of a large city with many streets, roads and lanes that are interconnected in the net like patterns where it is hard to tell where one metabolic process starts and where it ends.

If we take a look at infectious diseases we can notice in medical literature the description of two factors that have their role in an emergence of an infection: foreign entities (bacteria or viruses) and the human immune response. However, in the mainstream media only one factor is in the limelight: the danger of infection by ‘deadly virus’. The obvious fact that there are some people who do not get infected, or who do not succumb to the infection doesn’t get the same attention. One might wonder why people are not constantly reminded about the sophisticated defences of their immune systems and encouraged in the manner ‘Breaking News: Scientists Found Out that Your Immune System Can Defend against Infection’?! And then given instructions by medical experts how to boost – by means of good nutrition and other healthy habits [2] – their capacities to deal with any foreign element that enters their bodies. Instead of this the preferred ‘solution’ for the present ‘epidemic’ (associated with virus SARS-CoV-2) from the side of medical authorities is: boosting the medical capacities for emergency help, setting up rules for social distancing and hoping that the development of new vaccines and antiviral drugs will ‘sort out’ the whole problem.

Such a one-sided approach creates a very unbalanced picture of the present crisis. If we want to acquire real insights into factors that contribute to the emergence of any kind of viral infections, then we need "above all, to realise more and more that man is a complicated being and that everything to do with man is connected with this complexity of his being. If there is a kind of science holding the opinion that man consists merely of a physical body, it cannot possibly work beneficially with the healthy or the sick human being. For health and sickness have a relationship to man as a whole and not to one part of him only, namely the physical body." [3] For that reason we need to start with the following summary of the human constitution:

First we have the physical body – that is, the outward physical form of the body – which is built up out of mineral substances and which is for that reason visible to us. Then we have the invisible etheric body which enables our life processes and functions. The next invisible body is the astral body which enables us to have feelings and perceptions. The highest supersensible body is the ‘I’ or Ego, our essential self, which enables us to be conscious of ourselves as individual beings among other beings.

In one of his lectures Steiner classified physical diseases into the following groups: [4]

With the help of these descriptions, we can realize why "the sphere of medicine will not improve until this whole sphere includes a knowledge of these higher members of man’s being." [6]

References to the spiritual origins of infectious diseases can be found in various published works of Steiner. For a proper understanding of these causes one needs firstly to grasp the esoteric background of human evolution and the role of diseases in it. As this demands serious study of spiritual science – and it is therefore dependent on each individual – I can now only offer one explanation that gives a fairly good summary of these hidden influences:

"Inflammation is caused by the intensified activity of spirit and soul working through the immune system, usually in an effort to remodel the physical-etheric human organism to be a more suitable dwelling for the individual human spirit. In this intensive spiritual-physical remodelling process, unhealthy toxic spirituality is released and driven out of the body as a discharge of mucus, pus, blood or skin rash. As Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, ‘When the gods arrive, the half-gods go!’ All human beings suffer from the same infection, which is that we are indwelled by our shadow and thus develop unhealthy, dark spirituality within our human organism. Bacteria and viruses are the physical scavengers or by-product of this toxic spirituality and are thus an inescapable fact of the human condition. To understand power and authority of the germ theory of disease in modem thinking is a symptom of our materialism and is based on our need to deny our inner spiritual darkness and to project it onto outer physical microscopic entities." [7]

With the help of this explanation of the infectious diseases it can also be accepted that cosmic influences  are – in a similar manner as is the case in biodynamic farming – affecting the lives of plants, animals and human beings.  Therefore we should not be surprised when Steiner warns us that we "will only achieve results in the sphere of health, hygiene and medicine if we study cosmological symptoms. For the diseases we suffer on Earth are visitations from heaven. In order to understand this we must abandon the preconceived ideas which are prevalent today. Do you regard it as impossible that something takes place in the Sun – with its rays directed daily towards the Earth – which has significance for Earth emanations and is related to the life of man, and that the reaction of man’s organism to these energies varies according to the different geographical localities? Do you think that we shall have any understanding of these matters unless we are prepared to accept a true cosmology founded upon a knowledge of the soul and spirit?" [8]

We can understand better what is meant by ‘visitations from heaven’ if we look at the origin of molecules. “The modern physicist or chemist says that there are molecules which are composed of atoms, that the atoms possess forces by means of which they act upon each other. Now this is a conception which simply does not accord with reality. The truth is that the minutest molecule is acted upon by the whole starry heavens. Suppose here is a planet, here another, here another, and so on. Then there are the fixed stars, which transmit their forces into the molecule. All these lines of force intersect each other in various ways. The planets also transmit their forces in the same way, and we come to realise that the molecule is nothing but a focus of macrocosmic forces. It is the ardent desire of modern science to bring microscopy far enough to enable the atoms to be seen within the molecule. This way of looking at the subject must cease. Instead of wishing to examine the structure of the molecule microscopically, we must turn our gaze outwards to the starry heavens, we must look at the constellations and see copper in one, tin in another. Out there in the macrocosm we have to behold the structure of the molecule that is only reflected in the molecule. Instead of passing into the infinitely little, we must turn our gaze outwards to the infinitely great, for it is there we have to look for the reality of what lives in the little. In this way [by looking down] does the materialistic conception of things also affect other domains of thought. The nineteenth century materialism is not overcome so long as men still think atomically, so long as they fail to search in the great for the form and configuration of the small.” [9]

Therefore it should be clear that a materialistic explanation of the origin of infectious diseases is very one-sided and prone to misinterpretations. On the other side, Steiner maintained that we can attain to a more holistic comprehension of these phenomena of human life if we are aware that "everything to do with man’s health or sickness is really bound up with man’s manifold nature, with the complicity of his being; hence it is only through a knowledge of man arising out of spiritual science that we can arrive at a conception of man in health and in sickness." [10] For we are living in the time when "we can only advance the cause of progress in the epoch of the consciousness soul, [11] when we recognise the validity of spiritual realities. Therefore everything depends upon this one aim: the search, the quest for truth" [12] of spiritual realities behind the perceptible world.


Even today, Steiner's comments ring true when he said of his time, around 100 years ago, that, "people today are haunted by a fear we can compare with the medieval fear of ghosts. It is the fear of germs. Objectively, both states of fear are the same. Both fit their respective age: people of the Middle Ages held a certain belief in the spiritual world; therefore quite naturally they had a fear of spiritual beings. The modern age has lost this belief in the spiritual world; it believes in material things. It therefore has a fear of material beings, be they ever so small. Objectively speaking, the greatest difference we might find between the two periods is that ghosts are at any rate sizable and respectable. The tiny germs, on the other hand, are not worth even mentioning, so far as frightening people is concerned. Now of course this does not mean to imply that we should encourage germs, and that it is good to have as many as possible. That is certainly not the implication. Still, germs certainly exist and ghosts existed also, especially as far as those people who held a real belief in the spiritual world are concerned. Thus, they do not even differ in terms of reality" [13] of their existence.

From the perspective of materialistic science "bacterial and viral infections have many things in common. Both types of infections are caused by microbes – bacteria and viruses, respectively – and spread by contact with infected people and creatures, including pets, livestock, and insects, and by contact with contaminated surfaces, food, and water." [14] The main differences are in their structure and size and in the manner they reproduce. "Bacteria are relatively complex, single-celled creatures, many with a rigid wall, and a thin, rubbery membrane surrounding the fluid inside the cell. They can reproduce on their own." [15] While "viruses are tinier: the largest of them are smaller than the smallest bacteria. All they have is a protein coat and a core of genetic material, either RNA or DNA. Unlike bacteria, viruses can't survive without a host." [16] They can only reproduce by entering inside the living cell. This is how science sees this world of miniature creatures.

The fear of being infected is greatly increased by belief that bacteria and viruses are transmitted from those who are already ill. The origin of this conviction can be found in "the habit in current medicine and pathology of beginning the description of a disease by stating what bacillus caused the disease by invading the human organism. Of course it is very easy to refute arguments and objections against the invasion of microorganisms, for the simple reason that we no longer need to point out that these microorganisms really exist. And since they have different characteristics in different diseases, it is again quite comprehensible that stress is laid on these differences, and specific diseases linked with specific types of microorganisms." [17]

However, "an obvious error enters this whole point of view, namely, that attention is diverted from the primary element. Suppose that in the course of an illness, bacteria appear in considerable numbers in some bodily area. It is only natural that they should cause symptoms such as are the result of any foreign body in the organism, and that from the presence of these bacteria all manner of inflammations arise. But if all these results are ascribed wholly to the action of the bacteria, attention is actually directed only to the activity of these microorganisms. Attention is thus drawn away from the true origin of the disease, for whenever lower organisms find suitable soil in the human frame for development, that soil has been made suitable by the real primary causes of the disease." [18] Therefore the most fruitful approach is to "interest ourselves in the factors which create a favourable sphere of life for specific bacteria. This favourable sphere of life should not exist for them." [19]

As we are now flooded by the media with images of people in space-like suits disinfecting the deserted public spaces, the coffins in overburdened mortuaries, the mass graves of the victims of the killer virus, the billions-times enlarged images of spiked corona viruses, and so on, we need to be aware that this is not without any negative consequences on those who are absorbing these images. The danger is in the ‘negative placebo effect’. [20] It is a well known fact in drug testing that in a certain percentage of people their condition will improve even if they receive just an inert substance without any therapeutic value. Materialistic science cannot really explain how this positive placebo effect comes into existence.

In comparison to this, spiritual science reveals that "human beings have a natural ability to turn the merely known into vivid images. Hypnotism relies on this fact; hypnotists exclude the astral body and introduce a pictorial content directly into the etheric body, but this is an abnormal process. The pictures we ourselves produce are imprinted on the etheric body. If they are derived from the spiritual world they have the power to eradicate unhealthy conditions, which means harmony is brought about with universal spiritual currents. This brings about healing because unhealthy conditions always originate from egoism, and we are now lifted above our ordinary mental life, which is dimmed. This process must occur every so often, for example during sleep; then the astral body, together with the ‘I’, separates from the physical and etheric bodies and unites with the spirit of the cosmos. From this spiritual region the astral body imprints health-giving pictures into the etheric body." [21] Except for the first step – that is, the perceptions of the outside world – this process is unconscious.

Thus one can grasp that pictures that are not produced by benevolent spiritual powers will have a detrimental effect on the etheric body and consequently weaken our innate immune defences and contribute to the onset of a disease. For "it is impossible to have thoughts or feelings that do not have an effect right down into the physical body. No anatomist can prove this, but every kind of feeling we have brings about certain changes in the structure of the physical body." [22] However, "those who can penetrate into spiritual science know the subtle ways in which health and sickness develop. If you go through the streets of a big city and take into your soul the ugly things that are on display in shop windows and advertising panels, it has a devastating effect. Materialistic science has no conception of the extent to which the seeds of illness lie in this kind of hideousness. They seek the causes of illness in bacilli, and do not realize in what a roundabout way illness has its origin in the soul. Only people familiar with spiritual science will know what it means to take various images into himself." [23]

Therefore, "if fear of the illness is the only thing created in the case of an epidemic and one goes to sleep at night with that thought, it produces afterimages, imaginations impregnated with fear. That is a good method of cultivating and nurturing germs. If this fear can be reduced even a little by, for example, active love and, while tending the sick, forgetting for a time that one might also be infected, the conditions are less favourable for the germs." [24]

And it is not just fear, or anxiety, or stress that can have negative impact on our ability to maintain our healthy state of balance. For "even a strong awareness of an illness can, in itself, become the cause of catching it through the intervention of the astral body" [25] and its impact on the etheric body during the time of sleep. Of course, this shouldn’t be an argument against the acquisition of knowledge about the origin and impacts of diseases. But – as we can witness in the present crisis – neither materialistic nor religious thinkers (with few exceptions) can offer successful resistance against the spread of fear among the population. What has the real power to counteract fear are explanations of the esoteric background of the factors that are active behind the present pandemic of ill health. For only such knowledge will safeguard us from losing ourselves in the pandemic of false information that we are all exposed to in the present time.


Another characteristic of modern times that is decisively contributing to the manner of reaction to the present corona pandemic is the widespread expectation that all modern medical problems can be solved with the next ‘miracle drug’ or with the help of technology and computer data analytics with the aim to find out the best treatment strategies based on genome characteristics and medical history of patients. However, there is one issue in relation to such an approach that is not often mentioned even by those who are otherwise enthusiastic promoters of democratic values in other spheres of life. People tend to forget that "whenever individual rules concerning proper health care are promulgated as the result of medical or physiological science, it is generally the trust in a scientific field that provides the basis for accepting such rules, rules whose inner validity one is not actually in a position to test. It is purely on the basis of authority that statements about health care emerging from libraries, hospitals, and research laboratories are accepted by large segments of the population.

There are those who are convinced, however, that in the course of modern history over the last few centuries a longing for democratic regulation of all issues has arisen in humanity. Then they encounter this entirely undemocratic belief in authority demanded in the domain of health care. [26] This undemocratic attitude of belief in an authority conflicts with the general longing for democracy. Issues of health care are often simply not considered in the spirit of the democratic demand that matters of public interest – concerning every mature citizen – should be judged by that community of citizens, either directly or indirectly through representatives. It may not be possible for the views concerning health care to be fully subject to democratic principles, because such matters do, in fact, depend on the judgement of specialists. On the other hand, should one not strive toward greater democratisation than contemporary circumstances permit in a domain that is as close, as infinitely close, to the concerns of every individual, and thus to the whole community, as the care of personal health?" [27]

Any striving for greater transparency and democratisation of the medical sector can be successful only if there are enough people willing to take responsibility for their own health on the basis of the insight that such an approach to health is an integral part of any form of spiritual development. "If people were given thoughts that lead them away from materialism and spur them on to active love out of the spirit, it would serve the future of humanity better. Then infinitely more productive work could be achieved than through all the preparations now being developed by materialistic science against germs." [28]

This can happen only if "spiritual science so illuminates the entire human being that the idea arising within one suggests the worth, the essence, and the dignity of the human being. The truth of this is nowhere more evident than when we observe not the healthy human being in his single parts of the organism but a person who is ill, where there are so many deviations from the so-called normal condition. When we are able to observe the whole human being under the influence of some disease, everything nature reveals to us in the sick person leads us deeply into cosmic connections. We are led to understand the particular constitution of this human being and we are then able to relate his human organisation to the particular substances of nature that will act as remedies. We are thereby led into wider connections. When we add to our understanding of the healthy person all that we are able to learn from observation of the sick person, a profound insight will arise into the interconnections and deeper significance of life. Such insight becomes the foundation for a knowledge of the human being that can be shared with everyone. True, we have not as yet accomplished very much in this direction because spiritual science has only been able to be active for a relatively short time. By its very nature, however, spiritual science is able to work upon and develop what is contained in the separate sciences in such a way that what everyone should know about the human being can be introduced to everyone.

Think what it will mean if spiritual science succeeds in transforming medical science in this way, succeeds in developing forms of knowledge about the human being in health and illness that are accessible to general human consciousness. If spiritual science succeeds in this, how different will be the relations of one human being to another in social life; what a greater understanding one person will have for another, far greater than there is today when people pass one another without the one having the slightest understanding for the particular individuality of the other. Social issues will be removed from intellectual considerations when the most diverse realms of life are based upon objective knowledge and concrete experiences of life. This is evident especially in the domain of health care. Think what a social effect it would have were there to be a real understanding of what is healthy in one person, what is unhealthy in another; think what it would mean if health care were taken in hand with understanding by the whole of humanity. Certainly this does not mean that we should encourage scientific or medical dilettantism – most emphatically not – but imagine that a sympathetic understanding of the health and illness of our fellow man were to awaken not merely feeling but understanding that grows from a view of the human being – think of the effect it would have in social life. Healing can never spring from abstract concepts but only from a reverent awareness of the individual spheres of life. And medicine, the care of health, is very special because it leads us most closely to the joy of our fellow man through his healthy, normal way of life, or to his sufferings and limitations through what lives in him more or less as illness." [29]

Such transformation of the medical sector can happen only if a radical U-turn in the way the present medical establishment runs its business come into existence – more radical than many people would be willing to do. Especially those who benefit from existing hierarchical structures in the realm of health care!

In the present time, when we are confronted with an unprecedented level of social alienation, we must admit that it is not an easy task to make spiritual science alive in us to such an extent that it attains "the ability more than anything else to be a healing force, especially in the sense of preventing illness. This, admittedly, is not easy to prove. However, through spiritual science life-giving forces flow into human beings, keeping them youthful and strong. Wisdom makes a person open and receptive because it is a foundation from which love for all things grows. To preach love is useless. When wisdom warms the soul, love streams forth. Christ was the wisest, and therefore also the greatest, healer. Unless love and compassion unite with wisdom, no genuine help can be forthcoming. If someone lying in the street with a broken leg is surrounded by people full of compassion, but without knowledge, they cannot help. The doctor who comes with knowledge of how to deal with a broken leg can help, for his wisdom transforms his compassion into action. Basic to all help provided by human beings is knowledge, insight, and ability." [30]

This lack of knowledge is providing fertile ground for the thriving of anxiety and fear that enable the uncritical acceptance of ‘protective’ measures imposed on us by governmental medical authorities – in spite of the fact that these measures are not really addressing the underlying causes of the present pandemic. Even more, as some critical observers point out “the alleged cure is worse than the disease.” [31]

If you are amongst those who wonder why in the present pandemic we are confronted with utterly irrational ‘arguments’ that are defending accepted ‘preventive’ measures to stop the spread of infection, then you need to know that even the thinking of intelligent people, including scientists, can be under the  influence of their personal sympathies or antipathies, feelings and interests. An objective way of looking at things is not very common today. If people knew that “logical, clear thinking has a strengthening and health-promoting effect on the physical body, making it less susceptible to disease,” [32] – especially to the transference of any infectious disease – then they would maybe put in more effort to develop such an unprejudiced manner of thinking. At present this is possible only in the realm of “mathematical and geometrical truths. These cannot be put to the vote. If a million people were to say to you that 2x2=5 and you perceive in your inner being that it is 4, you know that this is true and that the others must be wrong.” [33] Only “in this way can confidence be established in all matters of outer and inner life. Strong individuals will listen only to their own inner voice while those who are weak are inclined to wait for advice and suggestions from others.” [34]

People need "to be fully aware of these things. Unless they are in our conscious awareness and we have clear insight, we cannot make head or tail of events. The danger inherent in all this must be looked at with a cool eye, as it were, and a calm heart. We have to face them calmly. We shall only do so, however, if we are quite clear about the fact that a certain danger threatens human beings from this direction. This is the danger of preserving what should not be preserved. There always is the danger of people continuing in materialism, in the materialistic way of thinking, and carrying this on into ages when, according to the cosmic plan of things, it should have been overcome." [35]

We are living now in the time when each of us will have to decide if he or she wants to unite with material or with spiritual progress in human evolution. The cumulative effects of individual decisions will be apparent in all domains of human life, including the realm of medicine. And if we do not want our feelings to push us into negative overreaction when confronted with a fellow human being infected by ‘contagious’ disease – if we want to be capable to help such people with calm heart and cosmic imaginations that have power to heal – there is no better way than with attainment of insights offered by means of anthroposophical spiritual science.

For an additional perspective see:

From Symptoms to Real Insights into the Social Backgrounds of the Corona Pandemic


  1. The reality of the existence of many factors that contribute to human health or disease is clearly evident from an holistic approach to human health and disease from perspective of spiritual science. For its outline see HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HEALING.
  2. In governmental Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK one can even find the instruction: “try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.” However, as this instruction is buried by the large amount of other instructions, it is a question of how many people have noticed it, or implemented it with the same zeal as the one which instructs people to “stay more than 2 metres from others.”
  3. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, 10.11.1908; The Being of Man and His Future Evolution,
  4. As above
  5. As above
  6. As above
  7. Dr Philip Incao, American anthroposophic doctor, the lecture at Emerson College in the year 2001, in the time of foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK.
  8. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 20.10.1918; From Symptom to Reality in Modern History,
  9. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 24.04.1920, The Mystery of the Universe,
  10. See note 3
  11. The age of consciousness, or spiritual soul, began in the fifteenth century and will last until the middle of the fourth millennium. One of the key hallmarks of the consciousness soul is the urge towards an isolated life, secluded from the rest of mankind.
  12. See note 8
  13. Rudolf Steiner, Basel, 05.05.1914; The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path,
  14. Source:
  15. As above
  16. As above
  17. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 07.04.1920; Spiritual Science and Medicine, Viruses were discovered around 1890 and in Steiner’s day there did not yet exist such common knowledge of their existence, as is the case nowadays. Steiner has referred to viruses in a few lectures, but due to the prevalence of bacterial infections in his time he spoke mainly about bacteria.
  18. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 07.04.1920; Spiritual Science and Medicine, 
  19. As above
  20. Science has also arrived at the recognition of the existence of a negative placebo effect, called nocebo.
  21. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, 14.02.1907; Wisdom and Health,
  22. Rudolf Steiner, Munich, 17.06.1908; On Epidemics, Spiritual Perspectives, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011
  23. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, 16.11.1908; The Ten Commandments,
  24. See note 13
  25. Dornach, 22.04.1924; On Epidemics, Spiritual Perspectives, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011
  26. For an additional explanation of this challenge see INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HEALTH.
  27. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 07.04.1920; Hygiene - A Social Problem,
  28. See note 13
  29. See note 27
  30. See note 21
  31. For one example see the interview with Peter Hitchens, an English journalist and author of several books.
  32. See note 22
  33. Rudolf Steiner, Hamburg, 30.05.1908; The Gospel of St. John,
  34. See note 22
  35. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 14.10.1917; The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness,