[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive and e.Lib

The East in the Light of the West

Schmidt Number: S-2052

On-line since: 30th March, 2005



P to the present we have given special attention to the way in which the soul of man in the course of evolution approaches and experiences those beings which are either to be taken as belonging to the Kingdom of Christ or to the Kingdom of Lucifer. We pointed out, for instance, that the way to those cosmic beings which in pre-Christian times had the Christ as their central figure, led outwards; but that the way into the Kingdom of Lucifer penetrated within the soul, breaking through the veils of the soul itself. And we pointed out how through the appearance of Christ on the earth, this has altered in such a way that there has been a transposition of these realms, and that mankind has advanced to an age wherein Christ must be sought within and Lucifer without. In order to establish harmony between various statements already familiar to many readers in regard to the Luciferic beings we must again say a few words about the nature of the Lucifer.

Everything in this world is complicated and may be looked at from many different points of view. It will, therefore, sometimes appear as if statements are not always in accord; light must be thrown upon a certain fact sometimes from one side and sometimes from another. Just as it is correct to describe a leaf first from the upper side and then from the lower, while it is one and the same leaf, in the same way do we describe the Luciferic principle correctly when as in previous chapters we speak of it by pursuing the path which the soul has to take to encounter this Luciferic principle. But naturally one may also consider the evolution of our earth and of the world in general more from a super-terrestrial standpoint, and characterise the position of Luciferic beings in the progress of the world from another point of view. We will devote a few words to this subject.

We know that our earth, sun and moon were once one being; that the sun separated itself from the earth in order to be a dwelling place for beings of a higher evolutionary stage, who could then work in upon our earth from outside; that after the withdrawal of the sun from the earth, beings of a still higher order remained united with the earth in order to bring about the separation of the moon; and if we think of the fact that the beings who separated the moon from the earth were those who stimulated a new inner life in man, arousing in him a soul-life and thus preserving him from mummification we shall soon be able to establish harmony between things already familiar to us and things we have been considering in the preceding chapters. We shall realise that as far as those beings which left the earth with the sun are concerned, it is natural that man in his further evolution should find them in the first place by turning his gaze to where they went with the sun. Therefore man had to seek for the realm and activity of the sun-beings with all their sub-beings, along the path leading outward into the world behind the tapestry of sense phenomena. Those beings, however, which to a certain extent were still greater benefactors of mankind and who through the withdrawal of the moon stimulated man's inner soul-life, had to be sought by descending into man's inner life, into a sub-earthly soul region, in order to find what was hidden from the external sight, and are the sub-terrestrial gods. These are they who separated the moon from the earth and aroused the soul-life of man. Within the life of the soul was sought the way leading to those gods who were associated with the beneficent event of the withdrawal of the moon. If at first we look only at these two kingdoms, of the Sun-gods and of the Moon-gods, we may define the beings as gods to be found outside in the heavens and gods to be found within the soul; and we may designate the way leading outwards as the Sun-path, and the way leading inwards into the soul, as the Luciferic path. The beings of Lucifer are those who did not participate in the withdrawal of the sun from the earth. And certain other beings, who are the highest benefactors of mankind, but who at first had to remain hidden, and who did not accompany the sun in its withdrawal, belonged, strictly speaking, to neither of those kingdoms. Those were the beings who remained behind during the old moon evolution, who did not attain to that grade which as spiritual beings, standing at that time much higher than men on the moon, they might have reached. Thus it was impossible for them to participate in the withdrawal of the sun, during the earth-evolution which followed. In a certain sense their destiny was to go out, as did the Sun-spirits and to work down upon the earth from the sun; but that it was not possible for them to do. It therefore came to pass that these beings, in a certain way, made an endeavour to separate themselves from the earth with the sun, but that they could not keep pace with the conditions of evolution of the sun, and fell back again upon the earth.

These beings, then, did not from the beginning remain behind with the earth, when the sun separated from it; they could not exist in the sun-evolution and fell back again to be reunited with the earth evolution. Now what did these beings do in the course of the earth evolution? They tried with the help of human evolution upon the earth to continue their own quite individual evolutionary course. They could not approach the human Ego; and those beings who had brought about the separation of the moon could approach the human Ego from within. The beings who had fallen back from the sun approached the human soul when it was not yet ripe to receive the revelation to the higher benefactors who had brought about the separation of the moon. They approached the human soul too soon. If man had fully awaited the beneficial influence of those spiritual beings who worked from the moon, that is to say, from the inner part of his being, then that which actually came to pass at an earlier epoch would have come to pass later. These Moon-gods would have slowly ripened the souls of men until a corresponding evolution of the Ego had become possible. But these other beings approached man and poured their influence, not into the Ego, but into the human astral body from within, just as the Moon-gods do; these beings sought the same way, through the inner being of the soul, upon which later the real Moon-gods worked; that is to say, these beings settled down in the kingdom of Lucifer. These are the beings which are symbolised in the old biblical writings by the serpent. They are the beings which approached the human astral body too soon and worked in the same manner as all other beings which work from within. And since we designate beings whose influence is from within, as Luciferic, we include also those beings which remained behind. They came to man when he was still unripe for such an influence they are on the one hand his seducers, but they also create freedom for him, create the possibility of his astral body becoming independent of those divine beings which would otherwise have taken his Ego under their protection and would have poured into it all that can be poured into the essence of the Ego from divine spheres. Thus these Luciferic beings came to the astral body of man, and filled it with all that can give him enthusiasm for the sublime, the spiritual; they worked upon his soul, and, although they were beings of a higher spiritual order than men, they were in a certain sense his seducers. That which in the course of the evolution of the earth came to man, and which on the one hand brought him freedom and on the other the possibility of evil, came from within, from Lucifer's kingdom. For these beings could not manifest themselves from without, they had to insert themselves into the inner part of the soul; for that which approaches man's Ego can come from without, but nothing external in this sense can come to his astral body only. In the great kingdom of the Light-bearer, of the beings of Lucifer, there are sub-species of which we can well understand that they might become the seducers of man. And we can also well understand that just on account of these beings strenuous discipline was practiced when it was a question of leading man into those realms which lie on the other side of the veil of the soul-world; for if he was led along the inner path of the soul he met there not only the good Luciferic beings who had given him inner light, but also and first, those Luciferic beings who were his seducers and who spurred him on by imparting pride, ambition and vanity to his soul.

It is very important to realise that we should never try to encompass the worlds behind the sense world and behind the soul-world with the intellectual concepts of modern culture.

If we speak of the Luciferic beings, we must become acquainted with the whole range of their kingdom, with all their species, categories and variations. We should then see that when at times mention is made of the danger of a certain species of Luciferic being the speaker is not always aware of the whole extent of the kingdom in question. It may be right to speak of certain species of Luciferic beings in the sense of some ancient script, but we must at the same time take into consideration the fact that the reality is infinitely deeper than men can generally realise. At a time when both outward turning and inward turning contemplation were, in people of a certain period of culture, still very keen, man perceived that the outward path led to the realisation of ‘That thou art’ and that the inner path led to the realisation of ‘I am the All,’ that the outer and the inner path both led to the Ego as an unity. In that first post-Atlantean epoch of civilisation man was able to think and feel quite differently about what underlay the spiritual realms than was possible at a later time. It is on that account extraordinarily difficult for ordinary consciousness to transport itself into that wonderful post-Atlantean culture and to identify itself with a soul living at that time.

We have seen how completely different man's feeling life was at that early time; how he felt the soul of the light stream in from all sides through his skin, as it were; and how through this he was able to collect out of the surrounding world experiences which are hidden from him today. But something else was connected with all this.

Those familiar with my ‘Outline of Occult Science,’ will know that human evolution in the post-Atlantean era is divided into the Old Indian, the Old Persian, the Chaldean-Egyptian, the Graeco-Latin, and the present cultural epochs; in the Graeco-Latin period came the Christ Event. Our culture epoch will be followed by another and this in its turn by the last, after which the earth will again undergo a change somewhat as it did at the time of the Atlantean catastrophe. We have therefore seven epochs of civilisation. In these seven we have a central one standing alone, the Graeco-Latin epoch of civilisation with the Christ Event. The other epochs of civilisation bear a certain relationship to one another. The Chaldean-Egyptian civilisation repeats itself in certain phenomena of the fifth, i.e. of our own epoch. Certain phenomena, facts and conceptions apparent in the Chaldean-Egyptian epoch reappear, but wearing of course a somewhat different form, because they are permeated by the intervening Christ impulse. This is not a simple repetition of the Chaldean-Egyptian civilisation, but a repetition wherein everything is steeped in what the Christ brought to the earth. It is in one sense a repetition and yet in another it is not. Men who have had a deeper understanding for the course of human evolution, and who have taken part in it with their souls have always felt something of the kind. Many such persons even if they have not advanced to occult knowledge, are pervaded by something like a recollection of old Egyptian experiences. The wonderful knowledge of the stars in their courses which the wise men of Egypt brought through into their Hermetic science has revived in our fifth epoch of civilisation in another and more material form. And those who participated in the revival felt this with special emphasis. Let me give one example only.

When that individuality who once in the mystery places of Egypt raised the eyes of his soul up to the stars, and sought to unravel their secrets in celestial space after the manner of those clays, under the guidance of the Egyptian sages, lived again in our own epoch as Kepler, that which had existed in another form in his Egyptian soul, appeared in a newer guise as the great laws of Kepler which today are such an integral part of Astro-physics. It came to pass also that within the soul of this man there arose something which forced these words to be uttered — words which may be read in the writings of Kepler — ‘Out of the holy places of Egypt I have brought the sacred vessel; I have transported it to the present time, so that men may understand something in these days of those influences which are able to affect even the most distant future.’ We might give hundreds of such examples to show how that which existed in the Chaldean-Egyptian epoch of civilisation lives over again in a new form.

We are now in the fifth epoch of civilisation of the post-Atlantean era. This will be followed by the sixth, which will be very important. It will be a repetition of and at the same time an advance upon the old Persian civilisation of Zarathustra. Zarathustra looked up to the sun and saw behind the physical sunlight the Christ spirit whom he called Ahura Mazdao, and drew men's attention to Him. This Christ Being has now descended to earth; Christ must penetrate so deeply into the innermost part of those souls who in the course of the sixth period of civilisation have made themselves sufficiently ripe, that numbers of men on looking into the innermost part of their souls will be able to feel that powerful emotion arise within them which Zarathustra formerly was able to arouse when he pointed to Ahura Mazdao. For in the sixth epoch there will come about in a great number of men through contemplation of their own inner being, through a new recognition of the Sun Being who was revealed in ancient Persia, something like a recapitulation but of an infinitely more sublime, more spiritual and more intimate character. I have already said that when the Greeks, in their way and after their own fashion spoke of Ahura Mazdao, they called him Apollo. In their Mysteries they allowed men to become acquainted with the deeper essence of this Apollo. Above all they saw in Apollo the spirit who not only directed the physical sun forces, but who also guided and directed the spiritual sun-forces to the earth. And when the teachers in these Apollonian Mysteries desired to speak to their pupils of the spiritual and moral influences of Apollo, they said that Apollo filled the entire earth with the holy music of the spheres, that is to say, he sent down rays from the spiritual world. And they saw in Apollo a being accompanied by the Muses, his assistants. A wonderful and deep wisdom is wrapped up in Apollo and his nine-Muses. Man's being consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body, sentient soul, intellectual soul, consciousness soul and so on; man is an ego-centre, having seven or nine members around it, all of which are parts of its being. Let us ascend from a human being to a divine being, and think of the Ego as this divine being, and of the members as his helpers, each helper being a single individuality. Even as in man the different members, physical body, etheric body, astral body and so on are gathered together and grouped around his Ego, so were the Muses grouped around Apollo. What was said in connection with this subject to those about to be initiated into the Apollonian mysteries is of a deep significance. A secret was confided to them, and the secret was this: that the god who in the second epoch had spoken such wonderful words to Zarathustra, would speak to men in the sixth epoch in a very special way This was the intention and meaning of the saying that in the sixth period the Song of Apollo upon earth would attain its goal. In this saying which was frequently quoted by the pupils of the Apollonian mystery-schools was expressed the fact that during the sixth epoch the second period of the earth-evolution would be recapitulated on a higher stage. The first epoch will reappear in a higher form during the seventh period.

It is the highest possible ideal for present day man to attain to the knowledge of the first post Atlantean epoch as permeated by the Christ to regain a way of feeling, of looking at things, which characterised the first post-Atlantean epoch though at a lower stage. Once again at the conclusion of our post-Atlantean period shall the man who takes the path out into the external sense-world and who wrestles with what is revealed in his own soul-world, recognise that both these paths lead him to an unity. It is therefore good to transpose ourselves to some extent into that which for us today — for we are in the intermediate epoch — is the somewhat alien feeling and thinking of ancient Indian times. Even if we only find a few traces we nevertheless perceive something of the quite different character of feeling and thinking, of the quite different attitude to wisdom and life existing at that time, when the Ego-consciousness did not exist in human feeling in such an awakened form. What was written clown in the Vedas was the teaching of the great teachers of ancient India, the holy Rishis, and when we state that the holy Rishis were inspired by the high individuality who guided the peoples of old Atlantis through the Europe of today over into Asia, we are only recording a fact. In a certain way the holy Rishis were the pupils of this high individuality, of Manu. And what did Manu communicate to them? Manu communicated to them the way in which they had at that time attained to the first post-Atlantean wisdom, knowledge and cognition. For our modern methods of acquiring knowledge, whether by observing external nature or by descending into the inner life of the soul in the way that it has become today, would have had no meaning at that time.

During the first period of civilisation of the post Atlantean time among the old Indian people, the etheric body was to a far greater extent outside the physical body than is the case today. The old Indian could make use of this etheric body and of its organs if he gave himself up to it, if he did not go out into the external life of the physical body, and as it were forgot that he was in a physical body. When he did this he felt as if he were being lifted out of himself, like a sword out of a scabbard. In this experience he became aware of something which may be described as follows: ‘I do not see with eyes or hear with ears, or think with the physical organ of understanding; I make use of the organ of the etheric body.’ And this he did. Then, however, living wisdom rose before him; not thoughts which men may think or have thought, but thoughts according to which the gods without had fashioned the world. Deeply immersed in spiritual life, the Indian knew nothing about what we today call thought, fabricated as it is by the instrument of the brain. He never thought things out intellectually, or reasoned about them; he rose out of his physical body into his etheric body, and from there he looked all around him at the cosmic totality of the thought of the gods, whence the world sprang forth. He saw in a flash the gift proceeding from the divine world. With his etheric organs he saw the thoughts of the gods depicted in the design of all things. He had no need of logical thinking. Why must we think logically? For the reason that we must find truth through logical thinking, because we might otherwise make mistakes in linking up chains of thought. If we were so organised that right thoughts coalesced of themselves, we should not require logic. The old Indian did not require logic for he looked at the thoughts of the gods, which were right of themselves. He wove around himself an etheric, cosmic net, wove it out of the thoughts of the gods. He looked into this web of thought, which appeared to him like a soul-light pervading the world, and in it saw the primordial, eternal wisdom. This highest stage of perfection, which I have just described to you, was of course only possible for the holy Rishis, and with this vision they could proclaim great world realities. What kind of feeling did their visions arouse? They felt that into this world-web of wisdom, in which everything was written in living prototype, which was entirely woven of and irradiated by the soul of the light, truth and knowledge poured. Just as man of a later time feels something stream into him when he draws a breath, so the old Indian felt that the gods sent out wisdom to him and that he drew it in, even as the air is sent out to us in the breath that we draw in. Soul-light, and moreover soul-light pervaded by spiritual wisdom, it was that the ancient holy Rishis drew in, and this they were able to teach to their disciples. They were justified in saying that everything which they proclaimed was breathed out by Brahman himself. That is the meaning of the deep expression, an expression which is verbally correct: ‘It is breathed out by Brahman and breathed in by men.’ That was the position of the holy Rishis as regards the wisdom of the world, as regards the things which they made known. These were then written down in the different portions of the Vedas, in pictorial form, if the expression may be permitted; yet these forms were but feeble reproductions of the original visions. We must always bear that truth in mind when reading the Vedas today, and not imagine that we are contemplating in its fullness the original sacred wisdom beheld by the ancient Rishis. We must understand that the Vedas are of a different character to other writings. Many documents of many kinds are to be found in the world. Speaking from our particular standpoint, for instance, we may say: ‘We find an inward soul-life pervaded and filled with the Christ in the Gospel of St. John.’ But if we consider the manner in which that Gospel is expressed, if we regard its exterior form, we find it less closely expressive of its contents, than the medium used to embody the wisdom of the Vedas. There is a close connection between the outward expression and the inner content of the Vedas, because that which was breathed in was expressed in the Vedic words simultaneously, as it were; whereas the writer of St. John's Gospel had its deep wisdom imparted to him at one time and wrote it down later; consequently the vision and the expression are further separated than in the Vedas.

We must understand these things clearly if we really wish to comprehend the evolution of the world. We must value the Gospel of St. John more highly than anything else but it is also natural that a Christian should not be satisfied with the mere letter, but should penetrate through, as spiritual science does, into the spiritual content of the Gospel according to St. John. It is natural that he should say: ‘It only becomes what it ought to be to me when I pierce through into that of which it is the outer expression.’ But anyone who wishes to adopt the right attitude towards the Vedas must feel as did the man of ancient India that what was to be found in the Vedas was not written down later by any man as the expression of divine wisdom. Therefore the Vedas, especially the Rig Veda, are not only records of something holy, but are themselves sacred to those who perceive what they are. And hence arose the infinite veneration for the Vedas themselves in olden times, a reverence such as is offered to a divine being. That is the fact we must understand. And we must gain this understanding by contemplating the souls of the old Indian people. There are many things to be learned because we are advancing towards an ideal; the ideal of the first period of civilisation at a higher stage, and of its reestablishment. We must learn to understand, for instance, what is said of Bharavadscha, that he studied the Vedas for three hundred years. A man of the present day would think he possessed mighty knowledge if he had studied the Vedas for three hundred years; he would think he knew a good deal even if he had studied them for a much shorter time. Yet it is related that one day the God Indra came to Bharavadscha and said to him: ‘Thou hast now studied the Vedas for three hundred years; see, there are three very high mountains yonder. The first one represents the first part of the Vedas, the Rig-Veda; the second one represents the second part of the Vedas, the Sama-Veda; and the third one represents the third part of the Vedas, the Jagur-Yeda. Thou hast studied these three parts of the Vedas for three hundred years.’ Then Indra took three small lumps of earth out of these mounts, Just so much as could be held in the hand, and said: ‘Look at these lumps of earth; thy knowledge of the Vedas is as these lumps in proportion to yonder towering mountains.’ If what is here said be transposed into a feeling, it is this: that if, in approaching the highest wisdom (whether it be in this or any other form, even in the form in which we find it today when we are called by the Rosicrucian method to seek for it not in books but by observation of what is to be found in the world) we can apply this story, we are taking the right attitude. Hardly anyone can say that he has heard as much about spiritual knowledge as had Bharavadscha about the Vedas; but everyone can make this comparison between himself and Bharavadscha, and he will then have put himself in the right relationship as far as his feelings are concerned, with the all-embracing wisdom of the world. And he will be aware of something infinite of which we can only possess a small fraction. In this way, too, we get the right kind of yearning to go forward and to have patience until another little fraction of wisdom is added. Much may be learned from the ancient wisdom of the East; but among the most valuable things which can be learnt from the Light of the East are those which are connected with our feelings and our perceptions, and something of this can be learned in what the God Indra gave to Bharavadscha by way of instruction as to the right attitude to assume towards the Vedas. Feelings of holy awe and reverence such as were felt in those ancient days must again be acquired by us, if we would advance to an epoch wherein we may once more, through the disclosures made in the newer mysteries, penetrate into that veil of wisdom which is woven of divine and not of human thoughts. These feelings are the very highest we can acquire. But we must not think that we already possess them, we must clearly realise that knowledge alone leads up to these highest feelings. And if we avoid thinking, if we take life too easily and decline to seek the feelings that are to be found on the ethereal heights of thought, we shall experience only ordinary trivial feelings and mistake them for what is obtained by the soul when it steeps itself in contemplation of divinity. Feelings such as were to be found among the old Indians were the essential means of approach to all the wisdom of the first post-Atlantean epoch, and to the ability to assume a right attitude towards the world in that age as well as to perceive that unity which is to be found in the spiritual worlds, whether upon the outward or the inward path. But in each successive civilisation something new must come to light.

Whereas the old Indians realised that both paths led to the same goal, the old Persian, the Chaldaic-Egyptian and the Graeco-Latin epochs came to regard the two revelations from within and without as being in different directions. On the one hand we have the revelation coming from outside, and on the other the manifestation from within. This is already observable during the second epoch of the post-Atlantean civilisations. There we have on the one side not only the path of the people, but also the path of the mysteries, leading externally as well as inwardly to the realm of Ahura Mazdao, That which was still a living reality in old Indian thought, the one-ness which was to be found in both the spiritual worlds, had already disappeared from the eyes of the second post-Atlantean civilisation. That unity which had already withdrawn into impenetrable depths of existence could still be dimly sensed, but it could no longer live in the soul. The old Indian felt: ‘Whether on the one side I go outwards or on the other side I go within, I come to the unity.’ The Persian, in so far as he followed the teachings of Zarathustra, in following the outward path said: ‘I come to Ormuzd’; or if he took the inward path, ‘I come to the being of Mithras.’ But in his consciousness these two paths were no longer united. At most he dimly sensed that they must be united somewhere. Therefore he spoke of that being who could then be sensed but dimly, as the Unknown in Darkness, the unknown primeval God. This God then, was a primeval spiritual being whose existence was not doubted, but whom men could no longer find. Zaruana Akarana was the name of this god existing in the darkness. That which could be attained to lay behind the tapestry of the external sense-world and Zarathustra's teaching laid special emphasis upon this phase. It was therefore something deriving from Zaruana Akarana, it was the God Ahura Mazdao, the Lord in the realm of the Sun-spirits, in the realm whence the beneficent influences came down, which in contradistinction to the physical may be designated as the spiritual sun-influences. From this same spirit also did the old Persian civilisation derive its moral precepts and laws, which the initiate — for it was he who by means of initiation raised himself to a knowledge of these precepts and laws — brought through as codes of morality, and as laws for human conduct, for human functions, etc. That was one path, and men who followed it, saw in the very highest region, the spirit of the sun and his rule; they saw the servants of the sun spirit, the Amshaspands, arrayed as it were, around his throne, and who are his messengers. The sun-spirit was lord over the whole realm; the Amshaspands directed the various activities. Beings of a lower order, subordinate in their turn to the Amshaspands, are generally called Izets or Izarads and finally beings of whom it may be said that they correspond in the spiritual world to the thoughts in the soul of man. Thoughts in the human soul are only the shadow-reflections of realities; outside in the spiritual world they are spiritual beings. According to the old Persian conception these beings, called Fravashi (Feruers), were immediately above man. Thus during the old Persian evolution it was conceived that behind the covering of the sense-world there were successive stages of spiritual beings rising higher and higher up to Ormuzd.

Now the whole nature of old Persian humanity was different from that of the old Indian. The characteristic of an etheric body which was still to a great extent outside the physical body no longer obtained in the humanity of old Persia; the etheric body had by that time slipped very much further into the physical body. Therefore men of the old Persian civilisation could no longer use the instruments of the etheric body in such a way as did the old Indians. The instruments used by the old Persians were the organs which originally formed part of what today we call the sentient, or astral body.

The nine constituent parts of man, as we know, are as follows:

Spirit Man, Intellectual Soul, Life Spirit, Sentient Soul, Spirit Self, Astral Body, Consciousness Soul, Etheric Body, and Physical Body.

As we have seen, the old Indian made use of his etheric body when he wished to raise himself up to realms of the highest knowledge. The Persian was no longer able to do this; but he could make use of his astral body, and this he did. Because he could no longer perceive through the etheric body the highest unity was hidden from him, but by means of the astral body he had still to a certain extent astral vision. This was the case with many members of the old, Persian people; astrally they saw Ahura Mazdao and his servants because they were still able to make use of the astral body. Now you know from the description in my book ‘Theosophy’ that the astral body is bound up with the sentient soul. When, therefore, a member of the old Persian nation made use of his astral body, his sentient soul also was present; but he could not make use of it because it was still undeveloped. He made use of his astral body in which the sentient soul was always a factor, but he had to take that soul just as it then was. Therefore he felt that when the astral body, developed as it then was, raised itself up to Ahura Mazdao, the sentient soul was there also. The latter, however, was felt to be in some danger, that it would, when revealing its perceptions, send them straight down into the astral body. The old Persian said to himself: ‘The sentient soul will not externalise that which it encounters in the way of old Luciferic temptations, but it will send their influences into the astral body.’ He realised that influences from the sentient soul were working in upon the astral body, presenting, as it were, a reflection from the outer world, of what had been at work in the sentient soul from ancient times. This is called the influence of Ahriman, of Mephistopheles. And so man felt himself to be confronted by two powers. If he looked up to that which could be attained by directing his gaze outwards, he saw the mystery of Ahura Mazdao; if he looked inwards he found himself by the help of the astral body, but through the influence of Lucifer working in it, face to face with Ahriman, the opponent of Ahura Mazdao. There was only one thing which could be any protection to him from the temptations of the Ahrimanic beings, and that was to press onward to initiation and the development of the sentient soul. By developing and purifying it and thus striding in advance of humanity, he took the path leading inwards, that did not lead to Ahura Mazdao, but to Lucifer's realms of light. And that which permeated the human soul upon the inward path was in later times called the God Mithras. Hence the Persian Mysteries which cultivated the inner life were the mysteries of Mithras. On the one side therefore we have the god Mithras whom a man met when he took the inward path and on the other the realms of Ahura Mazdao, which he found on the outward path.

Now we will pass on to the next post-Atlantean civilisation, to the Chaldaic-Egyptian period. There is good reason for giving it a double name. For on the one side we have throughout this epoch of civilisation, over in Asia, people belonging to the northern stream of peoples who form the Chaldaic element; on the other side we have the Egyptian element, representing the stream of people who went more to the south. This is an epoch wherein two streams of nations encountered one another. And if we remember that the northern stream developed more particularly external vision, pursuing the reality of beings to be found behind the sense-world, and that the Egyptian peoples sought for the spiritual beings to be found upon the inward path, we shall realise that two streams co-existed during this third epoch. The outward path taken by the Chaldeans and the inward path taken by the Egyptians came in contact. The Greeks were right when they compared the Chaldaic gods with their own Apollonian realms; they sought in their own way in their Apollonian mysteries for that which came to them from the Chaldeans. But when they spoke of Osiris and of that which was connected with him they sought for illumination through the mysteries of Dionysos. At that time people still had a consciousness of spiritual relationships. Now mankind in the course of its evolution develops new members in the constitution of man. In the old Indian period the etheric body and its organs were developed; in the old Persian period men developed and used the astral body, and in the Chaldaic-Egyptian period the sentient-soul, that is to say, an inner member. Whereas the astral body is still directed outward, the sentient soul is directed inward. Hence man drew further away from the divine-spiritual worlds than was formerly the case. He lived an inner life in the soul, and as regards that which is not within him, life was limited to what the senses perceived. On the one side the world of sense grew more and more dominant, and on the other, the soul life established its independence. The development of the sentient-soul belonged to the third epoch. But what the sentient-soul developed during the Chaldaic-Egyptian period was no longer wisdom which could be seen and read as it were from the external environment. It was a process resembling man's present thinking today, but it was much more alive, for the reason that man of today has already attained to the consciousness-soul. Thoughts were then much richer, more full of life than is the case today. Man in these days does not experience his thoughts with the same intensity with which he becomes aware of a taste or a scent. During the Egyptian epoch, while the sentient soul was being intensively developed, thoughts were as vivid in the soul as is today the perception of colour, or scent, or taste. Today they have grown fainter and more abstract. In the Egyptian epoch they were concrete. They were more life visible thoughts; although not thoughts which could be said to take objective shape in the physical world they were nevertheless thoughts carrying with them a conviction that they had not been puzzled out, but rose in the soul like inspirations, surging in suddenly and presenting themselves in a flash. These people did not say that they breathed wisdom in, but that they were permeated by living thoughts, which sprang up out of the soul, which were impelled from the spiritual world into our own. Thus does everything change in the course of time. And so a man belonging to the Chaldaic-Egyptian epoch no longer was conscious of the wisdom of the world spread out as a tapestry of light around him, to be breathed in. He was conscious of possessing thoughts which rose within him as inspirations. And the content of the science thus rising in man's being is Chaldaic astro-theology and Egyptian Hermetic wisdom. That which lives in the stars and moves them in their courses, that which pulsates in all things, could no longer be, as it were, read by man, but it revealed itself to his innermost being in the form of the ancient wisdom of the Chaldaic-Egyptian, period. Moreover old Chaldean men had the following feeling:

‘That which I know is not only my inmost being; it is a reflection of what is taking place externally.’ The old Egyptian felt what thus arises to be a reflection of the hidden gods whom men do not meet between birth and death, but between death and a new birth. Thus did the Egyptians and Chaldeans differ from each other, in that the latter realised through their wisdom what lies behind the world in which we live between birth and death, and the former, the Egyptians, realised through their inspired wisdom the living beings whom man encounters between death and a new birth. Necessarily, however, as may be seen from the whole purpose of this evolution, these inspirations from within, these massed thoughts arising as inspirations, were far removed from the conception of a primordial being in its unity. Men could no longer penetrate as far as during the old Persian period when it was possible still to make use of the astral body. Impressions had all grown fainter; they were not so external, for the outer world had already withdrawn itself considerably. Accordingly man experienced wisdom of the external world within themselves, and no longer experienced the wisdom in the external world itself. Nevertheless those who had learned to appreciate the wisdom of the old Persian epoch in the right manner entertained for it feelings of high respect and deep gratitude. And if we need a short definition of the paradoxical wisdom with which the Chaldeans expressed that which they saw in the spiritual foundations underlying the physical world, we must call these utterances ‘Chaldean Proverbs’; and the collection of Chaldean Proverbs was a very highly valued treasure of wisdom in the old times. World secrets of infinite importance are to be found therein. They were valued as highly as the revelations experienced between death and a new birth; and these were treasured as the source of Egyptian wisdom.

But that reality of which during the ancient Indian epoch there had been direct cognition, became shadowy and dim; its deeper essence came to be entirely hidden from the eyes of man. This highest reality was still more shadowy to Chaldaic-Egyptian wisdom than Zaruana Akarana had been to the vision of old Persian seers. The Chaldeans called it Anu; Anu does in a sense express the unity of both worlds, but an unity far above man's knowledge; they did not venture to penetrate even into those regions into which the humanity of the time of Zarathustra looked up, but they turned their visions to spheres which were very near to human thought. Everything, they said, was to be found there, for the highest is to be found even in the lowest; but they also found something there expressive of the reality of a being, a shadowy reflection of the highest. This they named Apason. Apason seemed to them to be as a shadowy reflection of what we today conceive of as substance below Spirit man, substance, as it were, formed out of Life Spirit. To this they gave a name whose nearest equivalent in English sound would be something like Tau-te. There was also a reality to which they gave the name of Moymis. Moymis was approximately that which spiritual science would describe as a world-spirit, a being whose lowest principle is the Spirit Self. Thus the old Chaldeans contemplated a trinity above them, but they were conscious of the fact that this trinity only manifested its real nature so far as its lower members were concerned, and that its higher members were only shadowy reflections of the highest, which had entirely withdrawn from them. And Bel, the god who as creator of the universe was also the national god must be thought of as a descendant of this Moymis who had entered the region of Ego-hood or of Fire Essence.

Thus we see how the essential nature of an entire people expressed itself even in the naming of the gods. When a person belonging to the old Chaldaic epoch took the path to his inner being, he spoke of having passed through the veil of soul-life into a world of sub-human or subterranean gods. Adonis is a later name for the beings found by taking the inward path. This path was accessible to initiates only, for it was beset with great dangers for a non-initiate. And when an initiate trod this path, attaining on the one side to the world beyond the senses, and on the other to the world that underlies the veil of the soul world, he experienced something comparable to the experiences encountered in initiation at the present day. Anyone initiated in ancient Chaldea went through two separate experiences, and care was taken to have them take place as nearly as possible at the same time. One experience was that of entering the spiritual world from the outer world, the other was being admitted into it from the inner world; and these two had to coincide as far as possible in order that the candidate might learn to feel that the same spiritual forces were expressing themselves through spiritual life and interaction both without and within. On the inward way he met the spiritual being called Ishtar, who was known to be a beneficent moon divinity, and who stood on the threshold that hides from man the spiritual element standing behind his soul life. On the other side, where the door opening through the outer sense world into, the world of spirit is situated, stood the Guardian Merodach or Mardach, and he stood there with Ishtar. Merodach (whom we may compare with the Guardian of the Threshold, with Michael) and Ishtar were the pair who imparted clairvoyance to the soul and led men by both paths into the spiritual world. That experience is still expressed symbolically today by the saying that ‘The shining cup is given to man to drink from.’ That is, as if by a draught he learns to experience the very first activities of his lotus flowers. [See “Knowledge of Higher Worlds, and its Attainment,” by Dr. Steiner. Revised edition translated and published 1922–23.] There after he made further progress. What we must bear in mind is that it was necessary to step across a certain threshold even at that time.

In Egypt the procedure was not identical though similar. Then came the epoch which was to prepare for the descent of the cosmic sun god upon the earth. The spirit who previously had been external now had to enter into the human soul, had to be found within it, even as formerly the Luciferic divinities and Osiris were to be found there. The two paths clearly shown in the contrasts between the Chaldeans and the Egyptians had to make one another fruitful. Such an event was essential. How could it take place? It could only occur after a ‘connecting link’ had been created. This proceeded from Ur of Chaldea, as the Bible truly states. It takes up the revelation coming from without then it passes on into Egypt, absorbs that which comes from within and unites the two, so that for the first time in Jahve we have a being heralding the Christ who unites the two paths. Jahve or Jehovah is a divinity to be found on the inward path, but Jahve is not visible in himself. He only becomes visible when illuminated from without. Jehovah reflects the light of Christ. Here we can clearly see the two paths we have been studying so intensely, running side by side and each fructifying the other. And when this begins, quite a new process becomes apparent in human evolution. The outward an the inward fructify each other; the inward becomes the external and that which formerly lived only inwardly and within time now spreads out into space, so that the two paths continue side by side. Consider your own soul life! It does not spread out in ‘space,’ it runs its course in ‘time.’ Thoughts and feelings follow one another (in ‘time’). That which is outside is spread out in space, in simultaneous co-existence. Accordingly an event had to happen which may be called the outflow into space and co-existence of something which till then had only lived in time. And that event duly took place; something which had hitherto lived only in time became from that epoch onward a co-existing life in space. In this manner occurred a change of profound importance and one to which expression was given in an equally profound manner.

All previous human spiritual evolution in leading out beyond the external world of space led also into external time. Now everything that comes under the laws of time is regulated by the measure and the nature of the number seven. We learn to understand the evolution of the world by basing it upon the number seven and counting, for example, the seven stages of Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth (or Mars-Mercury), Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan. In everything which has to do with time we proceed aright by making use of the number seven. In ‘time’ we are everywhere led to the number seven. All the schools and lodges whose teachings lead out of space into time have seven as a fundamental number when they lead to the super-sensible. This number seven is associated with the holy Rishis, and with the holy teachers of other nations down to the seven wise men of Greece. But the fundamental number of space is twelve, and in flowing into space, time is revealed according to the number twelve. At the point where time flows out into space the number twelve dominates. We have twelve tribes in Israel, also twelve apostles at the moment when Christ, Who had previously revealed Himself in time, poured out into space. What is within time occurs in succession. Hence that which leads out of space into time, to gods of the Luciferic realms, leads into the number seven. If we would characterise anything in this realm according to its essence, we find the being by going back to the ancestry. In order to perceive that which develops itself in time we pass from the later back to the earlier, as from child to father. On going into the world of time, in which the number seven obtains, we speak of children and of their origin, of the children of spiritual beings, of the children of Lucifer; when we lead time out into space we speak of beings existing simultaneously, in whose nature, co-existence and also the flowing of souls, the impulses from one to another in space demand our consideration.

Where the number seven, through the fact that time pours out into space, changes into twelve, the connotation of ‘children’ ceases to have the same super-sensible meaning and the connotation of ‘brotherhood’ enters, for beings who live side by side are brothers. The concept of sons of gods is changed in the course of evolution into the concept of brothers living side by side.

Brothers and sisters live side by side. Beings who descend from one another live after one another. Here we see the transition, at a significant epoch, from the sons or children of Lucifer's kingdom and of his being to the brothers of Christ, a transition of which we shall speak further.

The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com