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The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity



  1. When Rudolf Steiner gave the lectures revised for this volume, he was still connected with the Theosophical Society and therefore used the terms theosophy and theosophical when speaking of his own independent spiritual research. After his break with the Theosophical Society in 1912/13, Steiner used the term anthroposophy for this research and its results. For purposes of clarification the latter term has been added in square brackets each time the term theosophy is used in this book.

  2. Rudolf Steiner, Theosophy: An Introduction to the Knowledge of the World and the Destination of Man, repr., (Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1988) and An Outline of Occult Science, 3rd ed., repr., (Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1989).



  1. For a further description of the essential differences between human beings and animals, see Wolfgang Schad, Man and Mammals, (Garden City, NY: Waldorf Press, 1977) and Rudolf Steiner, Study of Man, (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966).

  2. Steiner describes the aura in Theosophy, 140–153.

  3. The physical body is the corporeal aspect of the human being, related to the mineral kingdom. The etheric body, or body of formative forces through which life unfolds, is related to the plant kingdom. The astral body bears desires, pleasure and pain, and the qualitative world of emotions, and is related to the animal kingdom. See Occult Science, 21–28.

  4. For a description of earth evolution, see Occult Science, chap. 2.

  5. Socrates, 470–399 B.C., Greek philosopher and teacher. Plato, 427–347 B.C., Greek philosopher, the most famous student of Socrates.



  1. Menes, c.3400 B.C., Egyptian king. First king of the first dynasty.

  2. For a description of the planetary stages, see Steiner, Occult Science, 108–254.

  3. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche, 1844–1900, elaborated his idea of the “superhuman” in the character of Zarathustra in his Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883). He portrays a future wherein humanity attains dominance and the realization of its earthly purpose through the free exercise of creative power. Nietzche believed that modern spirituality is a symptom of decadence, and that the “superhuman” would triumph over declining Western culture.

  4. Etheric body. See note 3, Lecture One.

  5. For a description of earth evolution during the post-Atlantean epochs, see Occult Science, 229–254.

  6. The Vedas are the most ancient of Hindu sacred texts. Steiner speaks of them in Occult Science, 231. Also The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul (lecture 3 and lecture 4) (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1945) and The East in the Light of the West (Blauvelt, NY: Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1986) 161ff.

  7. The Akashic Chronicle refers to a pictorial record of every thought, feeling, and deed occurring since the world began. Accessible to psychic vision.

  8. Kadmos, founder of the ancient Greek city of Thebes and its first ruler. Kekrops, legendary king of Athens. Pelops, son of Tantalus. King in Elis, father of Atreus and Thyestes. Theseus, king of Athens. Conquered the Minotaur.

  9. Johannes Kepler, 1571–1630, German astronomer, physicist, and mathematician.

  10. Steiner here refers to a passage in Kepler's foreword to the fifth volume of his work Harmonices Mundi (1619), which reads as follows: “Yes, I am the one; I have stolen the golden vessels of the Egyptians to build a shrine to my God out of them far beyond the boundaries of Egypt. If you can forgive me, I will be glad; if you will be angry with me, I will bear your anger. Here I cast the die and write this book for today's readers as well as for those of the future — what does it matter? Even if it has to wait a hundred years for its reader: God Himself has waited for six thousand years for him who looks at His creation with understanding.”

  11. Scholastic thought was dominant in medieval Christian Europe from the 9th–17th centuries. Steiner describes the characteristics of scholasticism in Eleven European Mystics, (Blauvelt, NY: Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1971), 168–174. Also The Redemption of Thinking, (Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1983).



  1. Zarathustra, 660?–583? B.C., Persian religious leader, also known as Zoroaster.

  2. Brahman, Hindu Godhead or Absolute; the creator god of the Hindu sacred triad (with Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer).

  3. The Rose Cross is the emblem of the Rosicrucians. Tradition associates the rose with Persia, the cross is the symbol of Christianity. Historically, the Rosicrucian Order is thought to have been founded as a secret society c.1430 by Christian Rosenkreutz. Commonly associated with healing, occultism, alchemy; Steiner counters the “... materialistic caricature of Rosicrucianism ... presented today. The task of the Rosicrucians was to formulate a science by means of which they would be able to let their (universal) wisdom flow gradually into the world.” Rosicrucian Esotericism, (Spring Valley, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1978), 6. See also George Adams, The Mysteries of the Rose-Cross, (Sussex, England: New Knowledge Books, 1955).

  4. Gnosticism arose in the Hellenistic era. Gnostics believed that salvation is attained through knowledge rather than through faith or deeds.

  5. Arius, c.250–336, Greek ecclesiastic at Alexandria. Taught Neoplatonic doctrine that God is alone, unknowable, and separate from every created being, that Christ is a created being and not God in the fullest sense but a secondary deity, and that in the incarnation the Logos assumed a body but not a human soul. Growing dispute over his teaching led Emperor Constantine to call the Council of Nicaea (325) where Arianism was declared heresy. Saint Athanasius, c.293–373, Greek theologian and prelate in Egypt. Lifelong opponent of Arianism. Attended Council of Nicaea (325) as deacon. Bishop of Alexandria. Advocated homoousian doctrine. Often exiled because of his opposition to Arianism. Wrote doctrinal works. Not author of Athanasian creed, which originated later (5th or 6th century).

  6. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749–1832, leading German poet and playwright. Faust (1808–32), a drama in verse, is Goethe's masterpiece. The lines referred to are in Part Two, Scene 2.

  7. Nathan and Solomon were both sons of King David, the second king of Israel. The Gospel of St. Luke cites Nathan as a forefather of Mary (Luke 3:31); St. Matthew traces Joseph's lineage to Solomon (Matthew 1:16). For a detailed account of the two Jesus children, see Rudolf Steiner, From Jesus to Christ, (London Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 8.

  8. The Zoroaster mentioned here by Steiner lived in very ancient times, according to the Greeks — already 5000 years before the Trojan war. He is not identical with the Zoroaster or Zarathustra mentioned in ordinary history.

  9. Buddha, Indian religious leader, founder of Buddhism. Historical name Siddhartha Gautama, c.563–483 B.C. Some Eastern religions believe him one of the last incarnations of the Godhead. Son of a royal family, he renounced luxury and became an ascetic. Bodhisattva, a being that compassionately refrains from entering Nirvana for the salvation of others.

  10. Steiner describes the human being as comprised of four “bodies”: physical, etheric, astral, and ego. The astral body bears the inner world of desires, pleasure and pain, and the qualitative world of emotions. See Occult Science, 21–28.

  11. Nicolaus Copernicus, 1473–1543, Polish astronomer. Made astronomical observations of orbits of sun, moon, planets. Gradually abandoned accepted Ptolemaic system of astronomy and worked out heliocentric system in which the earth rotates daily on its axis and, with other planets, revolves around the sun.

  12. Giordano Bruno, 1548–1600, Italian philosopher. Arrested by the Inquisition and burned at the stake. A critic of Aristotelian logic and champion of Copernican cosmology, which he extended with the notion of the infinite universe.

  13. See Lecture Two, note 2.

  14. Nicholas Cusanus, 1401–1464, German prelate and philosopher. Bishop and later created cardinal. Wrote treatises for church councils as well as works on mathematics and philosophy. Anticipated Copernicus by his belief in the earth's rotation and revolution around the sun.

    Galileo Galilei, 1564–1642, Italian mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. First to use telescope to study the skies. Tried by the Inquisition for supporting the Copernican system.