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A Guide to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

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

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A Guide to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner

Guide to Spiritual Science: Lecture 9



AST time we tried to consider the question of the whence and the whither of man, the question of his origin and of his goal, and we saw how man stands in relation to the whole evolution of the earth, indeed, of the cosmos, how he is so bound up with the earth, the natural kingdoms and the hierarchies that he cannot be described apart from them.

The picture which I have given of this development is so inadequate that I should now like to return to it, in order to introduce into it certain aspects which are of the greatest importance for evolution as a whole, and which are of the greatest significance for us to-day, for they were decisive for the whole of the evolution through which mankind has gone, and in which it now stands.

For evolution did not happen so simply and smoothly as we have described. In order to have a foundation upon which to work, I indicated only roughly and incompletely the greatest events and realities of evolution. I spoke of how the first physical substance, as far as the old Saturn, the first form of our earth, had brought it, was warmth. That which already then existed of man, the physical body, or at least the preparation for that out of which our present physical body evolved, consisted of warmth. I mentioned the work, which, during the Saturn time, the higher spiritual hierarchies did on this physical body, who passed over with Saturn into a period of spiritualisation, where they themselves reached a higher stage of evolution. The human and physical bodies also reached a higher stage of evolution, so that on the old Sun, the second embodiment of our earth, the physical body was able to take up an etheric body. But not all the beings reached their goal in those times. Of the Sons of Personality, we said that on old Saturn they had worked through their human stage which means that in that time they had reached an ego-consciousness. To this goal, however, all Sons of Personality had not reached, and so at the end of the Saturn evolution not all the physical human bodies were sufficiently worked upon that they could take on the etheric body, on old Sun. At the end of the Saturn evolution Saturn, and the beings connected with it, entered a condition of spiritualisation, and after this period they reappeared in a new form of physical existence. The Sun evolution really began then. Here evolution is checked through the remaining behind of some of the Sons of Personality. There were such Sons of Personality as had reached their human stage on old Saturn, and who could now advance to a higher stage of evolution. But there were also such Sons of Personality as had not yet attained their goal, who could not yet advance to a higher stage of their development. Corresponding to those were two different kingdoms, one kingdom capable of taking up an etheric body, and another which was not so far, which, on old Sun, as on old Saturn, consisted only of a physical body. Besides these were normal archangels who, during the Sun period had reached the human stage, and also such archangels as had not reached this goal. Now if we consider the old Moon, the third embodiment of our earth, we find the condition of things very complicated. Here the angels should have gone through their human stage, and reached an ego-consciousness. The normal angels were sufficiently far advanced. But there were also angels who had not reached this high stage of evolution, and besides these were archangels who now belatedly unfolded their ego consciousness, and such as were not yet so far. There were even Sons of Personality, who, on old Moon, were not yet so far as to work through their human stage. But alongside were Sons of Personality who had reached their human stage. So, too, with the human beings. Some of them were so able to take up an astral body. These human beings stood at the stage of the present animal kingdoms. Others could only now take up an etheric body and stood at the stage of the present plant kingdom. There were also human beings who, even as on the old Saturn, consisted only of a physical body, and who stood at the stage of our mineral kingdom. All these held-back beings and kingdoms make for a tremendous slowing down of evolution. The human physical bodily nature can always form itself only out of the substance which the earth supplies at its existing stage of evolution. Therefore physical human beings carried through the substances of the held-back kingdoms also. So it came about that on old Moon these bore a Saturn and a Sun nature. The nature of man was, so to speak, cleft in two. And through this holding back of the different beings and kingdoms there came about still another result. The substance of old Moon became gradually too coarse for the most highly developed beings. A cleft was made in the Moon embodiment. A part of its substance and beings divided itself off from the Moon body; out of one planet came two. The beings of the higher hierarchies made of this separated planet their dwelling place, and it appeared as a reborn but finer sun. The other planet, as old Moon, remained populated by the human beings, the two lower kingdoms, and by certain of the higher beings. Through this separation the higher hierarchies were freed from the Moon beings and the densified Moon substances They were now untrammelled in their own evolution and could progress unhindered in their own being. They therefore attained to a greater power, and sent their forces to the Moon beings from without, from the Sun.

Towards the end of the Moon evolution the two planets were once more united into one. Then this planet entered again with the human kingdom, the lower kingdoms and the hierarchies into a condition of spiritualisation After this intermediate time the beings who had shared in the developing processes on Saturn, Sun and Moon reappeared with new capacities, and man also was now so far evolved that, during the period following the Moon evolution, the period of our Earth of to-day, he could rise to the ego consciousness. Through the work of the hierarchies standing above man, the physical, the etheric and the astral bodies were raised to a higher state of evolution, so that in the course of its evolution this physical bodily nature of man was so far that an ego could be breathed into it. In three preparatory stages the physical bodily nature was prepared to take up the ego. The first preliminary step can be described as a repetition of the Saturn at a higher stage, for work was done by the hierarchies during this period as during the Saturn time, only on thephysical body of man. When this physical body in its development had reached so far all the beings and the earth with the different natural kingdoms entered again a period of spiritualising. After this interval the etheric body was built up during a time which is a kind of repetition of the sun evolution. Again, after an intermediate period there came one similar for the astral body, in a kind of repetition of the Moon evolution.

These three preparatory periods are called in Spiritual Science the Polaric, the Hyperborean, and the Lemurian times. During the first period, the Polaric time, that of the Saturn repetition, we still have one planet, the Earth. The natural kingdoms and all beings and hierarchies were still within the Sun body, they were still one with the Sun. In the second period the Hyperborean, that of the repetition of the Sun, there slowly began to appear a break between Sun and Earth, and the Earth became only loosely connected with the Sun. Then followed the third period, the Lemurian, that of the Moon evolution. At this time the two planets really became separated from one another. In this third time the ego first began to stream into man.

Still another thing happened in this third time. After the Sun, with the most highly developed hierarchies, had separated from the Earth, the substances of the Earth grew ever denser and denser, and as the physical bodily nature of man consists always of the substance of the contemporary planet, the human body became coarser. With that there began a change of consciousness for man. He must now change between a time in which he lived within his physical body and another time in which he lived free of his body. During the time in the physical body he was more and more cut off from the spiritual worlds, and from the hierarchies, and only when in a condition free of the body did he regain a consciousness of the spiritual worlds and beings. The hardening process in which the Earth had developed because the highest hierarchies had driven out their finest substances, became worse and worse so that finally the human ego could no longer seek out and dwell within these hardened physical bodies. Then these higher beings who had remained near the Earth drew out of the Earth mass coarser or finer substances to form corresponding dwelling places, and took with them human beings according to their corresponding stages. Thus arose the planets of our solar system. These gradually became the dwelling places of those human souls who had on the earth no further possibility of incarnating. In the further course of earth evolution the number of human forms became ever fewer, until the high spiritual beings under the guidance of their most mighty leader drew the Moon, i.e., the densest, coarsest substance away from the earth, and with that the Earth evolution was led over a critical point. The Earth now stood in a balance between Sun and Moon. So the necessities for the evolution of man were again placed upon the earth. Human souls again approached and could again dwell in the human bodies, which again became finer and finer.

To this third Lemurian period there followed, after an interval of spiritualisation, the fourth period, the Atlantean. In this time man bound himself more and more with the earth, and therewith his condition of consciousness underwent a further change. The more he became bound up with the earth, the more he lost his connection with the hierarchies standing above him. Finally, he put himself quite outside, on the physical plane. Then the door into the spiritual world was closed. Only when in a condition of freedom from the body did he find his connection with the hierarchies immediately above him. Then followed the fifth period of the Earth's evolution — the post-Atlantean period, our present time. Man was quite cut off from the spiritual worlds, but from the older times there remained to him something which worked in him like a memory of the spiritual worlds. In the post-Atlantean civilisation there gradually entered through knowledge and the religious consciousness everything which man had experienced in earlier periods of evolution. He had once lived through periods in which he stood in an ever-differing relation to spiritual worlds and the hierarchies. Then in the post-Atlantean times he went through all these periods again, but in his knowledge and in his religious consciousness. We find in the different forms of religion of the post-Atlantean civilisations the memory of earlier conditions once lived through. In the first post-Atlantean period — the early Indian — the memory of the spiritual world was at its clearest; then the desire for the spiritual was the basic feeling of the Indian soul, and man recalled in his knowledge and his religious consciousness the first period of the earth when earth and Sun were still united in Saturn, when men still lived entirely in the spiritual worlds, and when they were still connected with the highest hierarchies. This memory lived in the religious consciousness of the early Indian who called the godhead “Brahman” the All-One, and who yearned to go up to it. Then followed the old Persian epoch, that of Zarathustra. Men then experienced through memory, in their knowledge, and in their religious consciousness the second epoch of earth evolution, when the sun was preparing to separate itself from the earth, when the held-back beings were working as limitations to evolution. The man of this second post-Atlantean epoch, experienced a divine duality in his religious consciousness in Ormuzd and Ahriman, in the god of the light and the god of the darkness.

Then came the third post-Atlantean epoch, the old Egyptian or Chaldean. At that time in his religious consciousness man experienced the memory of the third period of Earth evolution in which the separation of the Moon from the earth took place. This powerful cosmic process and what it signified for man, the Egyptian-Chaldean experienced in his religious consciousness. He knew that after the separation of the sun, the sun's forces had worked from outside quite otherwise than they formerly had worked from within. He pictured how the sun's rays acted like the stings of a scorpion; they stung through the sense organs so that these only now opened themselves to what was outside them. Till then there had been no external sense impressions, only then, when men's eyes were opened to external things did he begin to see the external sun: the inner gaze on the high spiritual beings who were earlier joined to earth and man, and who now had their dwelling place on the sun, this inner gaze on the spiritual sun forces vanished. On every single eye of man there now fell the rays of the outer sun: then Osiris died for man; he was killed, dismembered.

Before the separation of the sun there was also no sexual propagation; instead there existed what can be called a virginal propagation. After the separation of the sun the forces which ruled our earth passed out of the sign of the Virgin, through the Balance and over into the sign of the Scorpion. The old Egyptian priests saw this event in their minds as a picture, which put into words meant: “When the sun stood in the sign of Scorpio, when the earth was in the Balance, then Osiris was killed.” We must not find something merely astronomical in such a myth; we must see in the Osiris legend saga the experience of the deeper clairvoyant insight of the old Egyptian priests. In such a myth they incorporated what they were willing to tell of the evolution of earth and man; and the human soul felt the inner truth of such a picture. In the far past it had experienced it, and through such a picture there awoke the yearning in the heart of man for the old power of seeing the spiritual sun forces.

In the fourth post-Atlantean epoch — the Græco-Latin — mankind experienced in his polytheism a memory of the Atlantean times, of the fourth period of our earth, of the time in which men could find their connection only with the hierarchies next above them, with the hierarchies which in a certain sense were subjected to human weaknesses. In the Graeco-Latin times mankind lived through the Atlantean period in its memory. We thus understand how the men of that time found their many gods gifted with human weaknesses.

There followed the fifth post-Atlantean civilisation — the present. We have nothing to recapitulate, no old memory; we stand in a new period, which repeats nothing of the old, but has to work out a future. We must have a wisdom which must work prophetically, apocalyptically. To-day it is more difficult than formerly to attain wisdom because at no time were we so cut off from the spiritual worlds as now, when not a memory of it remains. But though it may appear as if the spiritual worlds were dead, they are still there actively and fruitfully, and the men of the present day must, and will again find their connection with the spiritual world. But they must seek it, they must desire to find it; the connection can again be found. In the Græco-Latin times, the time in which the old recollections faded out, when man was cut off from the spiritual worlds, a wonderful seed for all time to come was laid in the cold ground of the earth, the seed which we call the Christ-principle. In connection with this Christ-principle, the apocalyptic wisdom, which to-day is so terribly needed, will be found — the wisdom which does not merely point through memory to past times, but which points prophetically to the future, and indeed, calls on mankind to be actively creative for it.

Spiritual Science considers this its task, to lead mankind to this Christ-principle, that therewith the original connection with the spiritual world may again be established.

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