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An Outline of Occult Science


IV

THE EVOLUTION OF
THE COSMOS AND MAN

(Part 3)

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If we wish to form an approximately accurate pictorial idea of the conditions during the Saturn evolution, we must take into consideration the fact that during that period essentially nothing existed of the things and creatures that belong at present to the earth, and are counted among the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms. The beings of these three kingdoms only came into existence in later periods of evolution. Of the present physically visible earth beings, only man existed at that time, and only that part of him, the physical body, as already described. At the present time, not only do these beings of the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms belong to the earth, but there are also other beings who do not manifest in a physical body. These beings were also present during the Saturn evolution, and their activity on Saturn as a sphere of action resulted in the subsequent evolution of man.

If one directs the spiritual organs of perception, not to the beginning and the end, but to the middle evolutionary period of this Saturn incarnation, a state appears consisting chiefly of “heat.” No gaseous, fluid, or solid elements are to be found there. All these conditions only appear in later cosmic incarnations. Let us imagine a human being with his present sense organs approaching this Saturn world as an observer. He would then experience none of the sense-impressions of which he is capable, except the sensation of heat. On reaching the space occupied by Saturn, he would only perceive that it had a condition of heat different from the rest of the surrounding space. He would not find this space uniformly warm throughout, but would find hot and cold regions alternating in the most varied manner. Heat would be perceived radiating according to certain lines, not straight lines, but in irregular forms, produced by the variations in heat. He would have before him something like an organized cosmic being, appearing in ever changing states, consisting only of heat.

For man of the present day it must be difficult to imagine something that consists only of heat, since he is not accustomed to recognize heat as something in itself, but to perceive it only in connection with hot or cold gaseous, fluid, or solid bodies. Especially the man who has acquired the ideas of modern physics will look upon the above way of speaking about heat as pure nonsense. He will perhaps say that there are solid, fluid, and gaseous bodies; heat, however, denotes only the condition in which any one of these three bodily forms finds itself. When the smallest particles of a gas are in motion, this motion is perceived as heat. Where there is no gas, there can be no such motion, therefore also no heat. — The matter appears quite different to the researcher in spiritual science. For him, heat is something about which he can speak in the same sense he can speak of a gas, of a fluid, or of a solid body; it is for him only a substance still finer than gas, and gas is to him nothing else than condensed heat, in the same sense that a fluid is a condensed vapor, or a solid body a condensed fluid. Thus the spiritual scientist speaks of heat bodies just as he speaks of gaseous and vaporous bodies. — If someone wishes to follow the spiritual researcher into this realm, it is only necessary to grant that there exists spiritual perception. In the given world of the physical senses, heat exists entirely as a state of a solid, a fluid, or gaseous body. This condition, however, is only the external aspect of heat, or its effect. The physicists speak only of this effect of heat, not of its inner nature. Let us try to disregard all effects of heat that we receive through external objects, and picture to ourselves only our inner experience when we say, “I feel warm,” “I feel cold.” This inner experience can alone give us an idea of the Saturn state at the period of its development described above. It would have been possible to pass through the whole of the space occupied by Saturn without finding any sort of gas that could exert pressure, or any sort of solid or fluid body from which we could receive an impression of light. But in every point in space, without any impression from outside, we would have had the inner feeling that here there exists this or that degree of heat.

In a cosmic body of such a character there are no conditions suitable for the animals, plants, and minerals of the present time. (It is, therefore, hardly necessary to state that what has just been described could never occur. A man of today, as such, cannot confront ancient Saturn as an observer. The exposition was only to serve as an illustration.) The beings of whom supersensible cognition becomes conscious while observing Saturn, were at a stage of evolution quite different from the present, sensorily-perceptible earth beings. Before this faculty of cognition beings appear who did not possess a physical body like that of present-day man. When we speak here of “physical body,” we must be careful not to think of the physical corporeality as it exists today. Rather, we must differentiate carefully between the physical body and the mineral body. A physical body is one that is ruled by physical laws observed today in the mineral kingdom. The present human physical body is not only ruled by these physical laws, but it is also permeated by mineral substance. It is impossible to speak of a physical-mineral body of this kind on ancient Saturn. At that time there existed only a physical corporeality governed by physical laws, but these physical laws manifested themselves only through heat effects. Thus the physical body was a fine, attenuated, etheric heat body, and the whole of Saturn consisted of these heat bodies. They were the first germinal beginnings of the present physical-mineral body of man. The latter fashioned itself out of the heat body as a result of the insertion into it of gaseous, fluid, and solid matter, which only came into existence later on. Among the beings perceived by supersensible consciousness when it becomes aware of the Saturn state and who, besides man, may be called inhabitants of Saturn, are those, for example, who have no need at all of a physical body. The lowest vehicle of these beings was an ether body; they had, however, besides this a higher member that transcended all the human vehicles. Man has as highest member spirit man. These beings have a still higher member, and between the ether body and spirit man they have all the members described in this book as belonging also to human beings: astral body, ego, spirit self, and life spirit. Just as our earth is surrounded by a sphere of air — an atmosphere — so was it also on Saturn, only this “atmosphere” was of a spiritual character.1 It consisted of the beings just mentioned and still others. Between the heat bodies of Saturn and these beings there was a constant reciprocal action. The latter submerged the members of their being into the physical heat bodies of Saturn and, although there was no life in these heat bodies themselves, the life of the beings in their environment was expressed, in them. They might be compared to mirrors, only it was not the images of the beings in question that were mirrored, but their life-conditions. Nothing living could have been discovered on Saturn itself, but through its activity Saturn vitalized the surrounding heavenly space by reflecting back, like an echo, the life sent down to it. The whole of Saturn appeared like a mirror of celestial life. Certain exalted beings whose life was radiated back by Saturn may be called “Spirits of wisdom.” (In Christian Esotericism they bear the name “Kyriotetes” or “Dominions.”) Their activity on Saturn does not begin with the middle period of its evolution just described, in fact, it had then already ceased. Before they had reached the ability to become conscious of the reflection of their own life from the heat bodies of Saturn, they had to develop these bodies to the point of being able to effect this reflection. Therefore their activity began soon after the beginning of the Saturn evolution. At that time the bodily nature of Saturn still consisted of chaotic substance that was unable to reflect anything — By considering this chaotic substance, one has transplanted oneself through spiritual perception to the beginning of the Saturn evolution. What is observable there does not yet bear sequent heat character. If we wish to characterize it, it is only possible to speak of a quality that may be compared with the human will. It is will, through and through. Thus we have to do here entirely with a soul state. If we wish to trace back the source of this will, we find that it originates from the emanations of exalted beings who brought their development, in stages that can only be divined, to such a height that they were able, when the evolution of Saturn began, to pour forth the will from their own being. After this emanation had lasted for a time, the activity of the already mentioned Spirits of Wisdom unites with the will. Thus will, previously wholly without attributes, now gradually acquires the ability to reflect life back into cosmic space. — These beings, who experience their supreme bliss in pouring forth will out of themselves at the beginning of the Saturn evolution, may be called the “Spirits of Will.” (In Christian esotericism they are called “Thrones.”) — After a certain stage of the Saturn evolution has been reached through the co-operation of will and life there begins the activity of other beings who are likewise present in the environment of Saturn. They may be called the ”Spirits of Motion.” (In Christian esotericism , “Dynameis,” or “Powers.”) They have no physical or ether body, but their lowest vehicle is the astral body. When the Saturn bodies have acquired the ability to reflect life, this reflected life is in a condition to be permeated with the qualities that reside in the astral bodies of the Spirits of Motion. The result of this is that it appears as though the manifestations of sensation and feeling and similar soul activities were flung out into celestial space from Saturn. The whole of Saturn appears like an ensouled being, manifesting sympathies and antipathies. These manifestations of soul-qualities, however, are in no way its own, but only the flung-back soul activities of the Spirits of Motion. — After this state has lasted a certain length of time, there begins the activity of still other beings that may be called the “Spirits of Form.” Their lowest member is also an astral body, but it stands at a stage of development different from that of the Spirits of Motion. Whereas these latter communicate only general expressions of feeling to the reflected life, the activity of the astral body of the Spirits of Form (in Christian esotericism, “Exusiai,” or “Authorities,”) is of such a nature that the expressions of feeling are flung back into cosmic space as though from individual beings. One might say that the Spirits of Motion cause Saturn as a whole to appear like an ensouled being. The Spirits of Form divide this life into individual living beings, so that Saturn now appears like an agglomeration of such soul beings. — In order to have a picture of this state, imagine a mulberry or a blackberry, and note how it is composed of small individual parts. For the observer of the spiritual world, Saturn, in the period of evolution just described, is similarly composed of a number of Saturn entities that, to be sure, do not possess a life and soul of their own, but that reflect the life and soul of the beings dwelling in them. — In this state of Saturn, beings now intervene who likewise have the astral body as their lowest member, but who have developed it to such a stage that it has the effect of a present-day human ego. Through these beings, the ego looks down upon Saturn from its environment and communicates its nature to the individual living beings of Saturn. Thus something is sent out into cosmic space from Saturn that appears similar to the activity of the human personality in the present cycle of life. The beings who bring this about may be called the “Spirits of Personality,” (“Archai,” “Primal Beginnings” in Christian Esotericism). They confer upon the small Saturn bodies the appearance of the character of personality. Personality does not exist on Saturn itself, however, but only its reflection, as it were, the shell of personality. The Spirits of Personality have their real personality on the periphery of Saturn. Just because these Spirits of Personality let their being be reflected back by the Saturn bodies in the manner indicated, the fine substance just described as “heat” is imparted to the latter. — In the whole of Saturn there is no inner life, but the Spirits of Personality recognize the image of their own inner life as it streams back to them from Saturn in the form of heat.

When all this occurs, the Spirits of Personality stand at the stage at which the human being is at present. At that time they pass through their human epoch. If we wish to look at these facts with an unprejudiced eye, we must imagine that a being can be “man” not merely in the form borne by man at the present time. The Spirits of Personality are “human beings” on Saturn. They do not have the physical body as their lowest principle, but the astral body with the ego. Therefore they are not able to express the experiences of this astral body in a physical and ether body like that of the present-day man; yet they not only possess an ego, but are fully aware of it, because the heat substance of Saturn brings it to their consciousness in reflecting it back to them. They are “human beings” under conditions different from the earth state.

In the further course of the Saturn evolution, events ensue that are different in character from anything existing heretofore. While up to the present time everything was a reflection of external life and sensation, now a kind of inner life begins. Here and there within the Saturn world a life of light begins, now flaring up, now darkening. Flickering glimmers of light appear in certain places, and in others something occurs like flashes of lightning. The Saturn heat bodies begin to glimmer, to sparkle, even to radiate. Because this stage of evolution has been reached, again certain beings have the possibility of becoming active. These are beings who may be called “Spirits of Fire,” (in Christian esotericism, “Archangeloi,” or “Archangels”). Although these beings have an astral body of their own, they are unable, at this stage of their existence, to stimulate it; they would not be able to awake any feeling or sensation if they could not work upon the heat bodies that had reached the Saturn stage already described. This activity exerted by them gives them the possibility of becoming aware of their own existence. They cannot say to themselves, “I exist,” but rather, “My environment permits me to exist.” They perceive, and their perceptions consist in the activities of light described as taking place on Saturn. These activities are in a certain sense their ego. This gives them a certain kind of consciousness that may be designated as picture consciousness. It can be thought of as a kind of human dream consciousness, only we must think of the degree of intensity of this dream consciousness as being much greater than in human dreaming, and we must realize that we are concerned not with unreal dream pictures surging up and down, but with dream pictures that have an actual relationship to the play of light on Saturn. — Within this reciprocal activity taking place between the Spirits of Fire and the Saturn heat bodies, the germinal human organs of sense are started on the path of evolution. The organs through which the human being at present perceives the physical world flash up in their first etheric inceptions. Human phantoms, as yet manifesting nothing but the primal light images of the sense organs, can be recognized within Saturn by means of clairvoyant perception. — These sense organs thus are the fruit of the activity of the Spirits of Fire, but the Spirits of Fire are not the only beings who participate in the formation of these organs. Together with these Spirits of Fire, other beings enter the field of Saturn, beings who are so far advanced in their evolution as to be able to employ these germinal senses to perceive the cosmic processes taking place in the life of Saturn. These beings may be called “Spirits of Love,” (in Christian esotericism, “Seraphim”). Were they not present, the Spirits of Fire could not have the consciousness described above. They behold the Saturn processes with a consciousness enabling them to convey these processes to the Spirits of Fire in the form of images. They forego all benefit they themselves might reap by perceiving the Saturn events; they renounce all enjoyment, all pleasure; they sacrifice all this in order that the Spirits of Fire might have it.

A new Saturn period follows these occurrences. Something else is added to the play of light. It may seem madness to many when we speak of what here presents itself to supersensible cognition. The interior of Saturn appears like a billowing and surging of sensations of taste; sweet, bitter, sour may be observed at various points within Saturn, and outwardly, into cosmic space, this all appears as tone, as a kind of music. — Within these processes certain beings again find the possibility of developing an activity upon Saturn. They may be called the “Sons of Twilight, or Life,” (in Christian Esotericism, “Angeloi,” “Angels”). They enter into reciprocal activity with the surging forces of taste present within Saturn, and through it their ether or life body takes on an activity somewhat similar to metabolism. They bring life into the interior of Saturn. As a result, processes of nutrition and elimination take place. They do not directly produce these processes, but through their activities the processes indirectly come into existence. This internal life makes it possible for still other beings to enter the sphere of this cosmic body, beings who may be designated “Spirits of Harmony,” (in Christian Esotericism, “Cherubim”). They bestow upon the Sons of Life a dull kind of consciousness, duller and vaguer than the dream consciousness of the present-day human being, a consciousness similar to that he possesses in dreamless sleep. This consciousness is of such a low order that man is not aware of it. It is present, however, and differs from day consciousness in degree and also in kind. Plant life at present also has this “dreamless sleep consciousness.” Even though this consciousness does not excite perceptions of an outer world as they are understood today, nevertheless, it regulates the life-processes and brings them into harmony with the outer cosmic processes. At the Saturn stage under consideration, the Sons of Life cannot perceive this regulating process; the Spirits of Harmony, however, perceive it and are therefore the actual regulators. — All this life-activity takes place in the human phantoms, already characterized. These phantoms therefore appear to spiritual perception as though endowed with life, but their life is only a semblance. It is actually the life of the Sons of Life. These Sons of Life make use of the human phantoms, in order, as it were, to unfold themselves.

Now let us consider these human phantoms with their semblance of life. During the Saturn period described, these phantoms have ever-changing forms, sometimes resembling this shape, sometimes that. During the further course of evolution these forms become more defined; occasionally they become permanent. The reason for this is that they are now permeated by the activities of the spirits who have to be taken into account already at the beginning of Saturn evolution, namely, the Spirits of Will (Thrones). As a result, the human phantom itself appears with the simplest, dullest form of consciousness. We must picture this form of consciousness as duller than that of dreamless sleep. Under present conditions, the minerals have this consciousness. It brings the inner being into harmony with the outer physical world. Upon Saturn, the Spirits of Will are the regulators of this harmony, and the human being appears like a small counterpart of the life of Saturn itself. What constitutes the Saturn life on a large scale, constitutes man, at this stage, on a small scale. This is the primary nucleus of what even in the modern human being exists only in a germinal state, namely, spirit man (atma). Within Saturn, this dull human will manifests itself to supersensible perception through effects that may be compared with “scents,” or “odors.” Toward the outside, toward celestial space, something is to be perceived like the manifestation of a personality that is, however, not controlled by an inner ego, but is regulated from without like a machine. The regulators are the Spirits of Will.

If we survey the preceding description, it becomes apparent that, starting from the middle stage of Saturn evolution described at the very beginning, the stages of this evolution might be characterized by comparing their various effects with sense-impressions of the present. It was said that the Saturn evolution manifests as heat, then a play of light begins, followed by a play of taste and tone; finally, something arises that manifests within the interior of Saturn like the sensation of smell, and externally like a mechanically acting human ego.

One might ask what the manifestations of the Saturn evolution prior to this state of heat are. What existed before cannot in any way be compared with anything that is accessible to an outer sense-impression. Prior to the state of heat, a state existed that the human being can experience at the present time only in his inner nature. If he gives himself up to ideas that he himself forms in his soul without the impelling impulse of an external impression, he has something within himself that physical senses cannot perceive; on the contrary, it is only accessible to higher perception. The manifestations that preceded the state of heat of Saturn can be present only for him who possesses supersensible perception. Three such states may be mentioned: pure soul heat, which is outwardly imperceptible; pure spiritual light, which is external darkness; finally, a spiritual state of being that is complete within itself and needs no external being in order to become conscious of itself. Pure inner heat accompanies the appearance of the Spirits of Motion; pure spiritual light, that of the Spirits of Wisdom; pure inner being is bound up with the first emanation of the Spirits of Will.

With the appearance of the Saturn heat, our evolution for the first time passes over from a purely spiritual, inner existence into one manifesting externally. It will be especially difficult for the present-day consciousness to accept the statement that with the Saturn state of heat what is called “time” first makes its appearance, for the preceding states are not at all temporal. They belong to the region that in spiritual science may be called “duration.” For this reason it must be understood that in all that is said in this work about such states in the “region of duration,” expressions referring to temporal relationships are only used by way of comparison and explanation. What precedes “time,” as it were, can only be characterized in human language by expressions containing the idea of time, for we must also be conscious of the fact that although the first, second, and third states of Saturn did not take place one after the other in the present sense of the word, we cannot do otherwise than describe them one after the other. Indeed, in spite of their duration or simultaneity, they are so inter-dependent that this dependence may be compared with a sequence in time.

By thus pointing to these earliest evolutionary states of Saturn, light is also thrown upon all other questions about the “whence” of these states. From the purely intellectual standpoint it is naturally quite possible, in regard to any origin, to continue asking about the “origin of this origin.” But this is not permissible in the face of facts. We only need to make this clear by a comparison. If we find traces in a road, we may ask what has caused them. The answer may be: a wagon. We can then ask further: whence came the wagon and whither has it gone? An answer founded upon facts is again possible. We might then ask further: who was sitting in it? What was the intention of the person who was using it? What was he doing? Finally, however, we shall come to a point where the questioning through the very facts comes to an end. Whoever continues to question, deviates from the original intention of the question. He continues the questioning mechanically. We can easily see in cases like the one just cited for the sake of comparison where the nature of facts brings an end to the questioning. In respect of the great questions of the cosmos this is not so easily seen. By really exact observation, however, we shall notice that all questions concerning the “whence” must end at the above described Saturn states. For we have come to a sphere in which the beings and processes no longer justify themselves through their origin, but through themselves.

The result of Saturn evolution is the development of the human germ to a certain stage; it has reached that low, dim consciousness spoken of above. It must not be imagined that the latter's development begins only in the last stage of Saturn. The Spirits of Will are active throughout all conditions of Saturn, but to supersensible perception the result in the last stage is most conspicuous. There exists no definite boundary line between the activities of the individual groups of beings. If it is said that in the beginning the Spirits of Will are active, then the Spirits of Wisdom, then another group of spiritual beings, it is not intended to mean that they were only active at that time. They are active throughout the whole of the Saturn evolution, but in the periods mentioned their activity can best be observed. The individual beings have then, as it were, the leadership.

Thus the whole of the Saturn evolution appears like a fashioning, a working over of what has streamed out of the Spirits of Will by the Spirits of Wisdom, Motion, Form, and so forth. At the same time, these spiritual beings themselves undergo an evolution. For example, after having received their life reflected back to them from Saturn, the Spirits of Wisdom stand at a different stage from that at which they previously stood. The fruit of this activity enhances the capacities of their own being. The result is that after the completion of such activity something happens to them similar to what happens to man in sleep. After their periods of activity on Saturn follow other periods during which they live, so to speak, in other worlds. Their activity is then turned away from Saturn. Therefore, clairvoyant perception observes in the described evolution of Saturn an ascent and a descent. The ascent continues until the formation of the state of heat; then with the play of light an ebb tide sets in, and when the human phantoms have assumed a form through the activity of the Spirits of Will, the spiritual beings have gradually withdrawn. The Saturn evolution slowly dies and as such disappears. A period of rest then occurs. The germinal human being passes over into a condition of dissolution, not, however, one in which it entirely disappears, but one that is similar to that of a plant seed resting in the earth, preparing to grow into a new plant. In a similar manner the human germ rests in the bosom of the cosmos, awaiting a new awakening, and when the moment of this awakening comes, the above described spiritual beings have acquired, under other conditions, capacities for working further upon the germinal human being. The Spirits of Wisdom have acquired the capacity in their ether bodies not only of enjoying the reflection of life, as they did on Saturn, but also the ability of letting life stream forth from themselves and of endowing other beings with it. The Spirits of Motion are now as far advanced as were the Spirits of Wisdom on Saturn. The lowest principle of their being was then the astral body; now they possess an ether or life body. The other spiritual beings have correspondingly advanced to a higher stage of their evolution. All these spiritual beings, therefore, are able to work upon the further evolution of the germinal human being in another way than on Saturn. — But at the end of the Saturn evolution the germinal human being was dissolved. In order that the more evolved spiritual beings may continue from the point where they ended their previous activities, this germinal human being has briefly to recapitulate the stages through which it passed on Saturn. This is to be seen by supersensible perception. The germinal human being emerges from its concealment and, through the forces that have been implanted within it on Saturn, it begins to develop through its own power. It emerges out of the darkness as a being of will; it advances itself to a being possessed of a semblance of life, of a soullike nature and other characteristics, until it reaches the stage of automatic manifestation of personality that it possessed at the end of the Saturn evolution.

 


Footnotes:

  1. Instead of saying, “Saturn was surrounded by an atmosphere,” a precise mode of speech, in order to express exactly the inner experience of spiritual research, would have to say, “In becoming conscious of Saturn by means of supersensible cognition, this consciousness is confronted by a Saturn atmosphere,” or, “by beings of this or that sort.” The use of the expression: “this or that is present,” must be permitted, for this is also the usage employed for the actual soul experience in sensory perception, but we are obliged to keep this in mind in the following exposition; it already follows from the context.


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