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A Guide to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner

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A Guide to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner

Guide to piritual Science: Lecture 8

LECTURE 8.

I 

N our consideration of the being of man, we have seen that his physical being consists of physical body, etheric body, and astral body, and that therein the ego temporarily dwells, i.e., between birth and death, and that the ego itself adds through its own activity three further members — three spiritual members: — the spirit-self, the life-spirit, and the spirit man. We shall now consider the question of the whence and the whither of man; how have the three physical members of man come into being? And how did they reach such a stage of development that they could take up an ego? Whence came this ego of man? And at what goal is it aiming?

If we want to answer these questions we must not observe man alone, but must see him in the relationships in which he really stands. Man as he is to-day cannot be thought of outside the natural kingdoms. He is throughout dependent upon the kingdoms beneath him, upon the earth planet. Therefore our question as to the whence and the whither of man leads to the consideration of the earth planet. As external science has proved to us, the earth, the dwelling place of man, has gone through a complicated development, and external science, like spiritual science, points out that deep inner connections exist between the evolution of man and that of his planet, the earth. External science can lead us back to the point where man, in his present form, did not yet exist on this earth planet, and it shows how from the earliest and most primitive civilisation man has slowly and gradually developed that of the present day. Spiritual science through its methods of investigation, comes also to a point in time in the far-distant past, at which the inner being of man, the ego, for the first time, entered upon external existence, in the sense of the term in which we have been speaking. In this first earth embodiment the ego began to be active within the three bodies of the physical, etheric and astral being of man, and it carried the fruit of this experience into the following life. But the ego discovered in this its first incarnation, an earthly condition in which the physical, etheric and astral bodies had already reached a certain stage of development. From this point the ego shared in the further development of these three members of man's being. Until that point, however, they had evolved without a human ego; till that stage was reached at which they could incorporate this ego. Before this time how could these three bodies evolve so far? In order to answer this question spiritual science must investigate the evolution of the earth planet itself. It penetrates further and further back into the life of the earth, and comes to a beginning, a point of time in evolution at which all that is susbtance came first into being. This substance was evolved out of the spiritual. The spiritual investigators observe the spiritual and see how it condenses into the material; not that all spiritual so evolves into substance, but that always, in substance, man has the transformed part of what was originally spiritual. The investigator discovers that the process is similar to what happens when water freezes, and ice-forms solidify out of it. Through observation by means of spiritual science one can watch how from out of the purely spiritual the solidifying processes take place. Thus the earth planet itself evolved out of purely spiritual being, and everything that in its elements belongs to the earth was condensed out of such as was formerly spiritually connected with it. When we direct these spiritual investigations still further back we find that that spiritual had already existed as an incorporated being, that our earth planet is likewise the re-embodiment of an earlier planet. And spiritual science can penetrate even further and find this process twice repeated. This earth of ours has already worked through three former planetary conditions, between which always lie intermediary spiritual conditions. The physical of course appears finer and finer the further back we follow up its evolution. Man first appears on the fourth planetary embodiment of the earth in the form which he has been evolving until the present time, and the reality of this form is that it exists of the four members, physical body, etheric or life body, astral body and the ego. This form could not have suddenly appeared on the earth without being prepared during the former planetary evolutions. In the last of the earlier planetary incorporations of our earth only three of the four members of the human being were developed, the physical body, the life body and the astral body. Within the last of the earlier forms of our earth, human development ripened to the condition in which to-day we find the animal kingdom. Then this earlier planet, the predecessor of our earth of to-day went through a spiritualisation, just as the man of to-day between two incarnations enters a spiritual condition, and out of this spiritualisation forme da new physical planetary condition, that of the earth. In it were contained in germ the ancestors of man. Because the whole planet had gone through a spiritualisation, and then appeared in a new form, it gave the germ of the physical, etheric, and astral bodies contained within it the opportunity of developing not only to the earlier heights, but also the additional possibility, after it had again arrived at this stage of evolution, of reaching still further beyond itself through taking up the ego. Just as in this, through the earth evolution and through the spiritualisation in the times between the incorporations of the earth, man was brought ever a stage higher, so did it also happen on the earlier planetary forms of our earth. Already man had appeared in some wise on the very first of these. This first planetary embodiment is called the old Saturn, the second is described as the old Sun, the third as the old Moon, and the fourth as our Earth. These designations have nothing directly to do with the planets of our present solar system which are so named. Saturn, Sun, Moon are just names for the past forms of evolution which our earth has gone through.

Of the present four members of the human being, the physical body is the oldest. It is the member, which, in its way has reached the [most] complete fulfilment, and supersensible investigations show that man's physical body was already in existence during the Saturn evolution, of course, not in its present state, but in its earlier form. It gradually ripened during the Saturn evolution to the point where it could take up a “life” or etheric body, and only after the planetary spiritualisation was it capable of this on the old Sun, the second embodiment of our earth. Through this addition of our etheric or “life” body the physical body was transformed and was raised to the second stage of its fulfilment, to the stage of plant life, while on the old Saturn man had only what our present-day mineral has — a physical body. On the old Moon, the third form of our earth, the etheric body was transformed and stood at the second stage of its fulfilment; the physical body was still further transformed and raised to the third stage of its fulfilment and to the physical and etheric bodies was added a third — the astral. On the earth the ego was added. The physical body reached now the fourth degree of its development stages, the etheric body its third, the astral body its second, and the ego stands at the first stage of its existence, and begins from within to work through and upon its astral body. We have said that the ego must, more and more, be in command of the astral body. We see that we are face to face with one of the questions with which we started to-day; how did the three bodies, the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body reach such a stage of development that they could take up an ego into themselves? These bodies of the human being had so evolved throughout the periods of the Saturn, Sun and Moon as we have described, but they had not so evolved from themselves, nothing had happened of itself, just as a planetary system did not arise from itself from out of the original mist known to science.

Evolution happens because beings develop themselves and because beings are creatively active. Just as man exerts his influence on his astral body, and just as he commands it as far as he transforms it into spirit self, just so, before man became gifted through his ego faculty, spiritual beings had worked upon our astral body and by so working developed themselves still further. They control our astral bodies to-day in so fat as man himself does not do so. These beings stand a stage higher than man, angels, as they are called by the esoteric Christian. They have already developed a spirit-self, having passed through their human stage upon the old Moon, and in the human etheric body beings work who are at a stage higher than the angels, archangels, the esoteric Christian calls them. These archangels, having worked through their human stage on the old Sun, have already attained to their life spirit. And again a stage higher is yet a third hierarchy, the Sons of Personality also called Archai, who had worked through their human stage during the old Saturn evolution of the earth, and have now reached the stage which mankind will only reach in the far-distant future when he has evolved into spirit man. These three kingdoms of spiritual beings have exerted their influence upon man's physical being, on his physical body, his etheric body, and his astral body. Through this activity they have experienced a higher development of themselves, while the physical being is continually more perfected through their work. Man who to-day stands at the lowest stage of the spiritual hierarchies, will, in the course of the far-distant future evolution attain, one after another, to each of these three hierarchical stages, the angel, — when he shall have evolved his spirit self, and can himself consciously control his astral powers, — the archangel, when he shall consciously be able to command his etheric forces — and the Sons of Personality when he shall have evolved into spirit man. So we see, only, of course, in large outline, man with his planet within a great progress of evolution, an evolution of things, processes and beings. But even now the question which we put to ourselves is not completely answered. We have only seen that the three hierarchies standing above man — Angel, Archangel, and Sons of Personality — have worked upon the physical, etheric and astral bodies, and that in so working they have themselves developed further. But the question whence came the substance, which, through all this activity, came to be what we to-day call our physical bodily nature we have not yet answered. We must first ask ourselves yet another question. The question: What is the goal of mankind's evolution? Man consists, as we know, of physical body, etheric body, and astral body. The physical body came into being on old Saturn, the first evolution of our earth, and through the work of the higher hierarchies, was so far developed that on the second evolution of the earth on the old Sun it could develop an etheric body. On the old Sun further work was done by the higher hierarchies on the physical and etheric bodies, and so to these two members on the old Moon, the third evolution of our earth, the astral body could be added. On the Earth, the fourth planetary evolution, came the ego. Now we have seen through our considerations of man that even all this does not complete his evolution, but that the soul-spiritual development of man only then really begins, and that through the work of this ego further members, which were already earlier planned in the human body, must be evolved, — spixit-self, life-spirit and spirit-man. Mankind's task in our time is to transform the astral body through purification and illumination into the spirit-self. At the end of our earth evolution man in general will have gone through this transformation. The earth itself will then go through a condition of spiritualisation. And upon emerging from this, man will be capable of taking up the spirit-self as a member of his being, that means that he will, in his evolution, have reached the second stage of the hierarchies, that at which the angels now are. The next embodiment of the earth is called in spiritual science the Jupiter stage. This is further followed by the Venus stage, and afterwards by the Vulcan stage, as the last. Only then will man have reached the goal of his evolution. The wisdom which, on his first incarnation he found in the natural kingdoms, he takes up unto himself on Jupiter, and develops spirit-self. And he will have introduced something absolutely new into evolution when on Venus he will have developed love — the love which the Christ lived as the human ideal in the middle of the earth's evolution, the love illuminated throughout by wisdom, which must become deed or fact — the life-spirit. And the goal of his evolution will be that on Vulcan, the last stage of our earth, he will bring this love, illuminated by wisdom, to deed, that he will be ready for the greatest sacrifice which will be his happiness: to radiate out his innermost being, to give all that he has and is. That is the human goal of the far-distant future.

At the beginning of old Saturn, at the beginning of our earth evolution, there were exalted beings, the so-called thrones or spirits of will, who had already brought their evolution to the height that they could surrender their innermost being, and that which they streamed out. This substance is the first preparation out of which, through the Saturn, old Sun, old Moon and Earth evolutions, our present-day physical body was made.

On the old Sun were there again sublime beings ready for the great sacrifice; the spirits of wisdom. What they gave up became through the evolution of old Sun, old Moon and Earth our etheric body; in a similar way on the old Moon, the spirits of movement gave up what became our astral body, and finally on the earth the so-called Spirits of Form gave up what is called our ego. Therewith the question as to the whence and the whither of man is answered, but it is answered in a very rough and sketchy way.

In the book Outline of Occult Science, in the chapter “Evolution of the World and Man,” Rudolf Steiner in about two hundred pages, describes the stages of development through which the earth, the natural kingdoms, man and the hierarchies have gone, and even this description, says Dr. Steiner, is only quite sketchy. He says, “The processes, the beings, and their destinies, are just as manifold on Saturn, old Sun, and old Moon as on the earth itself. Only a few characteristic details concerning these conditions can be taken out of this description, such as illustrate how the earth condition was formed out of the earlier conditions. One must also remember that these conditions are increasingly unlike those of the present day the further back one goes, and yet one can only describe them by using the conceptions which the present-day conditions of the earth give.”

With these words, Rudolf Steiner begins his description, and out of this description in large outline, and that means very roughly, have I now sketched the way of evolution; and I well know that my description cannot seem at once clear. These things cannot be said in a few words and still less can they be understood, when one has only once heard of them; they must be studied and indeed, very deeply studied.

I should like to add something to make the picture I have tried to make of man's development more complete. In rough outline we have considered the evolution of man out of the far distant past into the yet distant future. We have seen how interwoven the evolution of man is with that of his planet, the earth of to-day, and with the creative activity of the highest hierarchies, and with the work and the evolution of the hierarchies who are ranged immediately above man. But we have not yet considered the origin and evolution of the natural kingdoms. I should like, also very briefly, to describe the stages of consciousness which man has passed through and the origin of the so-called elements.

Man springs from divine spiritual substance. The physical body arose out of the sacrifice of the Spirits of Will. These are very highly exalted spiritual beings, and the substance which they offered as their own inner being was accordingly a spiritual substance. This spiritual substance was of the nature of will. First this substance became gradually denser through the work of the hierarchies standing under the Spirits of Will appearing physically at last as warmth. So that we can say: Saturn, the first physical appearance of our earth consisted of warmth. This human physical body had not yet been brought to the point of evolution at which it could take up an etheric body. Man then stood at the stage where minerals stand now, and his consciousness correspondingly was a deep sleep consciousness. At the end of the Saturn evolution Saturn, with all the beings existing on it, went over into a condition of spiritualisation. Out of this, after a time, it reappeared and shortly repeated the whole of the Saturn evolution. Only then was the physical body of man so far that it was able to take up an etheric body. During the Sun evolution period, the second stage of our earth, man was at the stage of our plant kingdom and had corresponding to it a sleep consciousness. The warmth of Saturn had densified or contracted to an air element. To the Sun evolution there followed again a period of spiritualisation. Out of this again the planet appeared in a new physical form condensed to water. This is the third stage of our earth, called in spiritual science the old Moon. It repeated shortly the earlier stages of evolution, the stages of Saturn and Sun. Then the physical and etheric body of man had reached so far as to be able to take up an astral body, and during the Moon evolution period, the third incarnation of our earth, man stood at the stage where the present-day animal stands, and had a dream or picture consciousness. The Moon evolution was followed again by a condition of spiritualisation out of which the planet came into existence in its fourth form. This fourth form is our present earth. This then went quickly through a repetition of the earlier stages of evolution. Then only did man become man, through receiving into himself the ego. His consciousness is a day consciousness, an objective consciousness. The physical substance of the earth has reached its greatest density, and has solidified to the element of earth, to the mineral.

This is a very rough outline of the evolution of the earth, of man and of the natural kingdoms.




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